Halloween 2021

As I write this, I am mourning the loss of having finished The Night Shift on Netflix. I am imbibing some generic strawberry lemonade energy drinks strongly laced with too much gin. I am craving potato chips, cuddling my cat Fog, and nursing my injuries from the day.

But perhaps I need to back up…

The photos above summarize my Halloween.

At 11 a.m., we had an appointment for Danu and her babies from the Celtic Pride— Aîné, Baile and Brigid and our newest foster, Georgie, to meet our foster cat godmother for shots, flea treatment, dewormer and microchip and OH MY GOODNESS was Georgie dramatic.

Then the teenager had a commitment to walk in the local Halloween parade and she asked me yesterday to walk with her as she paraded in costume. I will do anything my daughter asks.

And half way through the parade, I fell flat on my face to the collective gasp of the crowd. I rise, keep walking, hip and knee in pain. But I keep going.

#f*ckcerebralpalsy.

I finished the parade. Outside the teenager’s high school. Her father and herself know that the fact that I finished the parade did not mean I was okay as I have been known to do things like walk a Chinese buffet with a broken ankle.

My knee is swollen. I tripped over a mirror late in the day that struck me in the tender parts.

My back hurts.

I am craving potato chips as my body adjusts to the Mirena.

My princess, the male cat I jokingly named Fog, is curled up next to me. He is my baby.

The teenager’s dad came over and they carved pumpkins and I typed some of a manuscript for the identity anthology. We handed out candy and even the dog got to enjoy trick-or-treat.

I ordered Wawa for dinner— the teenager’s favorite ranch Mac and cheese, chicken Caesar salad and pierogie quesadilla and Blizzards from Dairy Queen for dessert.

Tomorrow the teenager is consulting a cleaning woman to take some of the stress off me.

Review: County Seat Spirits and the gems of the Silk Mill in Easton

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, William Prystauk and I ventured down to Easton’s Silk Mill. We had enjoyed a lovely sushi dinner and wanted to imbibe a classy cocktail and some decadent ice cream.

Our plan was to hit County Seat Spirits and Ow Wow Cow. Neither Bill nor I had ever been inside County Seat Spirits as I had discovered them during pandemic “lockdown.” I ordered quite a few of their to go items during last summer. (More about my history with County Seat Spirits here.)

So Saturday was my first visit inside the venue and I was not disappointed, especially in the afternoon light.

I had the Mint Condition and Bill had the Pommes 76 while listening to a talented female soloist.

We later grabbed some MIXO gin lavender lemonade to go.

Bill and I meandered around the Silk Mill as he had photographed it when it was still abandoned and later he visited when it was unfinished and hosting a film festival. He marveled at the transformation as the complex came alive with various live entertainment at many of the businesses.

William D. Prystauk

At Ow Wow Cow, I enjoyed the apple caramel cashew and Bill partook in the local peach pie. I do love the early summer flavors, like strawberry rhubarb crumble, but the autumn flavors are delightful, too.

Meanwhile, Tucker and Easton Wine Project spilled over with patrons (more on Tucker here). My experiences with Tucker again stem from the pandemic and using their online grocery service to procure some amazing produce.

I’ve visited Easton Wine Project when a local citizen hosted a fundraiser for ProJeCt of Easton there. I was still in the development office at that nonprofit and Easton Wine Project perfected a classy vibe and delightful vintages.

But there are several new businesses at the Silk Mill that I have yet to try, so this might be the perfect place to have a middle-aged date night.

Author chatter: Why did I launch Parisian Phoenix Publishing?

Last night, I was blessed to spend the evening with William Prystauk, author of the Kink Noir series, podcast host and reviewer of all things horror at Crash Palace Productions.

Buy Bill’s books here: William Prystauk on Amazon.

Buy my book here**: Buy Manipulations on Amazon.

Or buy my book at Barnes & Noble

Or even at Target.com

Or if it fits your values better, ask your independent bookseller to order it from Ingram.

But back to last night…

Bill and I got together for dinner and chatter— in part to celebrate the publication of Manipulations and the launch of Parisian Phoenix Publishing (working on the web site ParisianPhoenix.com and social media channels a little every day) and in part because Bill just really really really loves sushi.

Over a wonderful wide selection of sushi (including salmon roe and sea urchin, I did not partake in the urchin as it looked like radioactive cow tongue and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the salmon caviar) at Jasmine (read about our last visit there here), Bill and I started what ended up being an hours and hours long conversation about our hopes and dreams for our lives and our careers.

The conversation continued over cocktails at County Seat Spirits (Easton) and the ice cream at Ow Wow Cow, both at the Silk Mill.

The bar at County Seat Spirits

Bill and I have exchanged writing in the past and encouraged each other so I suppose he wasn’t horribly surprised when he received his copy of the book this week and opened it. But he asked a lot of good questions— why didn’t I go the traditional agent/editor/publisher route. I love that he believes in me and believes in my writing but I have shopped this manuscript.

Every few years I dust it off and send it out and every agent I have queried asks for pages. And every rejection I have gotten features personalized statement of the first 100 pages merits but how it doesn’t fit a proper genre or have the type of structure readers want.

And I know my writing can be dark, and literary from time to time. The fashion aspects are very feminine in a chick lit way but the supernatural elements are more horror than paranormal romance. My writing can be flowery, the emotions intense, but the situations can be very gritty and real.

And I don’t want to sacrifice that.

I don’t want any editor to have control over issues I discuss in my work: marriage/divorce, jealousy, domestic violence, self esteem, body image, self confidence, infertility… and those are just the first book. And I honestly hope you don’t outwardly notice these topics in the story but that they steep into your subconscious and slowly transform you like cold-brewed iced tea.

Meanwhile, as Bill and I are talking about upcoming books ( for those of you who have read Bloodletting, Punishment, and/or Debauchery— I have not only read the fourth book in the series but I also know the title of the fifth!), I am receiving texts and Facebook posts from people who have received their copies. And poor Gayle is left working on the poppet that will adorn the cover of the sequel to Manipulations, Courting Apparitions.

Courting Apparitions is a ghost story that examines the effect grief and depression has on our lives.

** $1 of every print copy of Manipulations sold goes to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

“Vacation” continues, starting the Karen books, and wondering if the quest has stalled

Yesterday I had hoped to do more editing on the bits and pieces left of the near-final manuscript of Manipulations, the first of three novels by me, coming soon from my little publishing imprint, Parisian Phoenix.

But then my graphic designer partner in crime (and this endeavor) encouraged me to start Karen by Marie Killilea. The book was in its 11th printing by the mid-sixties and I am reading a copy from about 60 years ago.

It’s part of my recent quest to understand my cerebral palsy, which ironically led to me discovering that my anemia has reared its ugly head. So maybe this quest isn’t addressing physical needs as much as emotional ones. And the neurologist’s office did return my call. My appointment is January 13. Yes, in six-and-a-half months.

While I certainly understand what these parents must have gone through (Karen was born in 1940 and died in 2020), this certainly was a different era. An era of institutions, a lack of knowledge and families and doctors sitting around smoking cigarettes together.

But so far, and I believe Karen is now 4, Karen is described as beautiful, but presented as a thing in the background. The memoir so far is about the mother and her thoughts and parenting techniques and her interactions with the medical community.

To me, the way Marie describes placing her in the backyard and going in the house to do chores… well, Karen slowly pulls herself by her arms inching toward whatever is of interest. The current chapter describes her playing in a mud puddle. She sounds like a fish caught between land and sea.

Honestly, to me it sounds cruel. I’m sure it fostered independence and strength but damn it sounds grueling for Karen. This is the beginning of the ideology of mainstreaming kids with disabilities— toss them in and let them adjust. And as young people with disabilities, emotions and intellect are still immature. So it is cruel in my opinion to let these children struggle with the physical, too. It’s this weird we get that we are different but we don’t have the life experience to understand why or how and while allowing a child to figure it out raises a fighter and someone not prone to accept help or pity, it would be nice to have some framework other than you can or cannot do something or are or are not like everyone else.

I see a potential multitude of nonfiction book projects in my future. My memoir will need to be three volumes: my childhood, my “squiggly” career (yes there is a term for people with eclectic careers like mine), and this health quest.

Speaking of non-fiction, I would like to publish my honors thesis from Lafayette College and do an anthology where I have select authors/artists to explore what I will refer to as identity politics. I have mentioned it to Nan, my blind friend, and Bill, my horror-loving freak friend, and both love the idea. I encourage you to read Bill’s novels, The Kink Noir series, which blend a dark 1940s detective vibe with kink and erotica while exploring some topics about what it means to be human.

My review of Bill’s most recent book is here: Debauchery

More posts including Bill here: Bill on the Blog

Speaking of Bill, my flower workshop got postponed last night, so Bill, fresh off of jury duty, came down to catch up and have dinner at the always charming Porter’s Pub in Easton, Pa.

Rib eye with Jameson’s Demi-Glace

Armed with the news that my iron is low, he bought me a steak and a lemony-smooth gin martini.

Upon arriving home, I finished taking out the garbage and recycling including two more 13-gallon trash bags from teenager two’s room. It looks like she’s officially ghosted me, and that makes me sad.

And I let the dog sleep with me. And as my room is the front room, she heard every noise in the neighborhood.

Another day at the Bizzy Hizzy

It’s approaching 1 a.m. and I am amazed at how quickly I am adapting to going to bed around 1:15 a.m. and waking up around 8:45 a.m.

An hour ago I was placing my laptop into the cupboard, taking my last cart of fixes to the “garage” area and heading to the time clock.

I only walked 16,000 steps in the warehouse tonight but I hit the pre-direct pick picking goal of 128 fixes.

I am sitting in my bed with a gin-and-cucumber-positive-beverage-B12 cocktail. I have kittens surrounding me (the Norse Pride domestic long hairs) and Nala chattering and falling asleep on my knee—and I know my bird should be asleep right now but she wakes up when she hears me come home and she’ll be super angry with me tomorrow if I don’t give her a bedtime cuddle.

She just fell asleep — on my knee.

The scene looks something like this:

The swarming Norse Pride

Poor Fog is whimpering outside my door as he used to be the cat that slept with me until the teenager moved the Norse Pride (some of our foster kittens through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab) into my room. He wants no part of those pesky furball kittens.

But he misses me now that I am working, and he pursues every opportunity he can to be with me.

Fog

Today involved some meetings, including the Lehigh Valley Regional Homelessness Advisory Board. I organized some paperwork and paid some bills as this week’s unemployment payment came.

I received EBT/SNAP (food stamps) for September, October and November so I’ve been combing every store possible for the best deals. Grocery Outlet and Lidl remain my standbys, but I find some good coupons at CVS. Today they sent me a coupon for a Starbucks Frappuccino from their ready-to-drink cooler for $1.49. I had $1 in Extra Bucks expiring today so I got the coffee beverage for 49 cents in food stamps.

Why does SNAP pay for candy and bottles of Frappuccino but there is no program to pay for bath soap, laundry supplies or toilet paper? One friend remarked that poor people must not be allowed to be clean.

So, now that I’m employed again these are issues I shouldn’t have to contemplate much longer.

And I suppose eventually StitchFix might ask me to stop blogging about them but I hope not— I’m a wholesome blogger with a long history in the public relations and journalism field.

But I’m so excited about hitting the 128 number and we had Thanksgiving dinner at work!

Tasting everything

If you’ve read this blog at all you already know several things.

  1. I love to try new grocery items.
  2. I love to save money while shopping.
  3. I love The Grocery Outlet.
  4. I make a lot of ridiculous videos that combine all of these things.

So today, I hope to enjoy some “brain off” time by tasting things and making silly videos. Here is the first one: Birds Eye Cauliflower Buffalo wings vs. Morningstar Popcorn Chicken

Later in the day I did a taste test of doughnuts — Giant Bakery vs. Maple Doughnots at Grocery Outlet. Fog crashed this video so you can get the cat’s opinion, too.

The Doughnut Debate on YouTube

And of course the teenager wanted to try something so she tried the ranch flavored Pirate Booty.

Review of ranch Pirate Booty: YouTube

And now as I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I am mixing the Positive Beverage Cucumber into a gin cocktail and chatting with one of my Sarahs.

Mixing a cocktail: recipe here

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.

Summer “picnic”

I am in love with the lemonade lavender gin cocktail from County Seat Spirits. So light and refreshing. I’ve always loved lavender and I’d forgotten my fondness for gin.

Some would say that make me an old woman.

I ordered the spinach feta speciality pizza from Dominos and had them swap the provolone and onions for hot sauce and chicken.

I sprinkled the pizza with purple pepper and crushed red pepper and I must say it is heavenly.

Perfect Saturday Shenanigans and cocktails

County Seat Spirits (they have a really yummy Instagram account) has been tempting me with their exotic to go cocktails for quite some time.

Elderflower.

Lavender Lemonade with Gin.

Watermelon Margarita.

Hibiscus rum-rita.

Some orange drink called a white bronco.

Apple Pie cocktail.

So I splurged this morning and I ordered the 4-pack of the lavender and the hibiscus— two of my favorite flavors. I ordered a single serve watermelon margarita and a single serve white bronco.

Yummy Yummy Cocktails

I called up my blind friend Nan as I suspected the pandemic had made getting out of the house for social visit more unlikely. I asked her if she wanted to come over for cocktails and my Asian fusion cuisine.

Nan rarely refuses my adventures.

Nan joins me to run down to County Seat at the Silk Milk. I’ve ordered curbside pick up.

(Web site here)
County Seat Spirits
(click image to go to web site)

Then we stopped and put gas in the car.

Once we arrived at my house, the teenager put the drinks in the fridge and we put out some nuts and cranberry cheddar (read more about the cranberry cheddar here: Cranberry Cheddar Review) to munch on.

Now Nan, though blind, loves to watch me cook. I poured her a glass of my mint green tea and she enjoyed my narration.

I was making spring rolls/egg rolls. First I showed Nan the wrappers and explained how I mixed the filling.

Ingredients:

  1. Broccoli slaw
  2. Cabbage
  3. Fresh Ginger
  4. Garlic
  5. Black pepper
  6. Purple pepper
  7. Ras-el-hanout
  8. Low sodium soy sauce
  9. Balsamic vinaigrette
  10. Smoked paprika
  11. Canned white chicken meat

I let Nan smell the smoked paprika, the ras-el-hanout and the purple peppercorns.

I warmed my big cast iron skillet with coconut oil and sesame oil.

I stuffed, rolled, and sealed the wonton wrappers and fried them. I garnished with egg drop ramen noodles in a mild coconut curry sauce with a side of Korean barbecue pork jerky. (This was the jerky: Korean BBQ pork jerky.)

After some scrumptious egg rolls, we broke out the ‘lemonade.’

The gin made it super refreshing.

The teenager decided to make edible cookie dough. She forget most of the flour in the first batch, but Nan and I loved it. We dubbed it “chocolate chip cookie sauce.”

Nan tried the hibiscus drink. It was much heavier than the gin drink.

Still good, but the gin really tasted good on a lovely sunny summer day.

And the mailman came while I was driving Nan home— I got an Ipsy bag and the teenager got a rather unusual letter. But that’s for my next post.