Being a boss

Some days are a struggle.

The 9-month old cat “graybies” (gray babies— ha ha) broke into my room at 7:30 this morning. Fog meowed his way in, old man Opie followed, and Misty brought up the rear.

Fog curled up in bed with me making Nala the cockatoo very jealous so she was stomping her foot in her cage.

After I got out of bed (into the cold outside world), I fed the troops and decided to vacuum my room as Nala had decided to terrorize my parakeets and remove as many toys, newspapers and chunks of litter as she could from the cage.

The roomba was not picking up. He was roaming around the room happily but with no suction. So I went downstairs and carried the real vacuum cleaner to my bird-filled bedroom.

I clogged the hose.

It’s a rough morning when all the vacuums in the house gang up on you.

I got myself dressed, let the teenager fix both vacuums, and decided to try my luck with dark eyes and red lips.

Face by Baby Bat Beauty

I used my new Baby Bat Beauty cosmetics— eyeshadow in mechanical and lip gloss in trepidation. I’m pleased with the results.

Darnell (of Evolve Media) and myself (as a representative of Thrive Public Relations) had our regular lunch meeting with Sophia regarding her Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club. The sample copy of Lady Boss magazine is available on Issuu but we are looking forward to future expansion in style and content. That’s where Darnell and I come in.

Upon arriving home from our meeting, I tripped over a shipment of cat food and scraped my hands and knees. Upon cleaning up and changing from my bloodstained pants, I actually started working on copy for the next issue of Lady Boss.

All I’d had to eat today was some sushi and too much coffee, so when the time came to take the teenager to marching band, I realized I had the shakes.

I didn’t have my wallet though. I ordered a pizza from my phone via Little Caesars and had a free soft drink coupon for Wawa.

After inhaling the pizza and a diet ginger ale with all raspberry, vanilla and orange flavors, I attended a library board meeting as I am a trustee.

Now I have just enough time to pee before I run back to the school for the end of band rehearsal.

What does your Monday look like?

What does your Monday look like? Did it look like mine? The teenager finished painting the custom litter box she and her uncle made yesterday from my neighbor’s old TV shelf.

Nan came over to work and I invited her to stay for lunch— we had the chicken feta spinach sausages from Park Avenue Market and they were so good Fog had to curl up and play adorable on Nan’s lap.

And Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and I hung out in the sun because it’s certainly warmer outside than inside.

Those happy little things

The past few days have been a roller coaster. A cliche I know but the simplest way to describe life.

Something spooked the budgies at 5 a.m. this morning, which in turn spooked the cockatoo. I had not caged the cockatoo as we had a rough day yesterday and she was mad at me. So I turned the light on to soothe everyone and Nala (my Goffin) flew into my bed with me.

This blog will be mostly a random list of nice things with pictures and a review of McDonald’s spicy nuggets.

So let’s handle the review first.

Angel’s Review of McDonald’s spicy nuggets

I like them. Very much. Good with a side of ranch.

For more on our trip to McDonald’s for Buy One Get One nuggets — with TWO teenagers— see our video on YouTube: Taste Test: Spicy Nugs

Onward…

MY teenager had her first day of Zoom classes as part of her hybrid public high school yesterday. Her friend, who will affectionately be “the second teenager” in this space, joined us.

After class, we visited our friends at Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab to get a large crate for our Greek Pride Foster Kittens so we could segregate Hermes as he has ringworm.

(For more on the kittens:

Zeus and Apollo

Kittens are one of the things that make me happy.

Other things that make me happy:

Nala: Nine month update

It’s hard to believe Nala has been in our family nine months already.

She is no longer plucking and is truly a very pretty bird— especially where I forgot I was wearing red lip gloss and I kissed her leaving pink overtones on her fluffy white feathers.

When I don’t have new toys for her, I try to recycle parts of her old toys to help keep her occupied— especially since new toys often scare her and she won’t touch them for weeks or even months. Except for her favorite toy, which I always keep in storage for a special surprise (and she destroys it in five minutes or less).

How to occupy a bird— a video of my latest Nala “busy box.”

I also put her cage closer to the window so she could see out and she ate my window sill. Got bored one afternoon and ate a large chunk out of it.

This is totally my fault as I usually let her sit outside of her cage and since the pandemic hit, she often sits unattended in my bedroom as she doesn’t go anywhere but I learned the hard way like any toddler she can think up new ways of destruction even when I think I have “bird-proofed.” Now she is away from the wood work and peeling the paint off the wall.

The teenager has taught her to “give kisses” and “boop,” maybe I will find a video or film one. She will only do these tricks with the teenager. No one else.

She loves to chase the cats and dogs when they visit. She adores French fries and pizza and an occasional banana or apple.

She can be cuddly. She is always a brat. She likes to groom my hair.

I bought her a perch for the shower and she loves to play in water if I put it in my cupped hands.

And now that her wing feathers have grown back, she can fly. But only if something scares her. And she hasn’t mastered landing.

When this naughty bird can fly… I’m in trouble.

This is her playing: Nala with cat toy

Animals and astrology

Today was hard. In ways I didn’t expect.

It didn’t start that way as it started with all five FURR kittens from the Greek Pride coming to eat at the same time!!!

Starting with the black cat and moving clockwise: Hades, Apollo (you can’t see his head), Zeus, Hermes (not quite at the bowl) and Artemis

That was super exciting as the exclamation points denote.

I indulged in the self-care that usually helps, but instead I feel worse. Went for a walk. Still in a bad mood. But Sobaka followed me home and refused to leave my side.

So I indulged in stress eating, and that didn’t help.

My horoscope didn’t help as several different astrology sites, including my favorite astrology app Co-Star, warned me things wouldn’t be easy.

Of course, there has to be a reference to Fire/Mars. A friend I recently alienated is a Fire sign and oh so Mars.

So I tried retail therapy— and this was a totally stupid move because:

  1. I don’t have any income right now and my savings will only cover two months living expenses.
  2. I paused my Ipsy subscription yet I ordered cosmetics.
  3. I not only ordered cosmetics but I ordered Goth cosmetics so I’m probably not going to be able to pull off the look.

But in my defense, I ordered $60 worth of cosmetics, but found a 20% off discount code, and paid $5 shipping for a total of about $55. And I qualified for a $5 American Express statement credit for supporting small business.

I sent the teenager this photo to select a red lipstick for herself

That merely made me feel guilty.

And, as my last effort to revive my spirits, I walked down to Darnell’s house for a business meeting— both for Thrive Public Relations and for Aspire to Autonomy.

I brought the teenager along to meet The Household Dog.

Here is the two of them: The teenager and Baby Boy (video)

The energy of working with Darnell, Amber and Melanie (all members of the Aspire team) revived my energy. Darnell even invited me to stay for a fish sandwich but the teenager needed me to come home and med the kittens of our pride.

Then, she left for her dad’s and I came upstairs to share dinner with my cockatoo, Nala. She was super bratty and bitey so I put her on the floor. I was losing my temper.

And she walked to the budgie cage. Climbed it. Pulled out the newspaper on the bottom of the cage…

And pooped!

I’m about to continue on with my evening, but I had to give the animals credit for making me smile.

Manic Monday … Nan and Angel style

Second week of Band Camp for the teenager and somehow I not only volunteered to drive her and the marching baritone to the high school but I also conned my good friend Nan, my crazy blind compatriot, into breakfast before our regular work session.

So I got up at 7:10 a.m., after the teenager did all the work with the menagerie, slapped on some clothes, took my last antibiotic and headed out the door by 7:40 a.m.

The routine with Nan is simple, yet deliciously complex, I pick her up and we drive to a shady spot in the parking lot of her apartment building to peruse coupons and loyalty deals on the various apps.

Now, Nan loves chai. We both love food, the worse for our health, the better. Okay perhaps that is a joke. Maybe. It’s free coffee Monday at Dunkin. And we have coupons for $2 off a breakfast combo at Wendy’s.

I plot a plan.

I really want to try the chicken biscuit at Wendy’s. Nan and I know we love the seasoned breakfast potatoes at Wendy’s.

So, our first stop was Wendy’s. We ordered a chicken biscuit with honey butter combo, making the potatoes a medium (which honestly was too many potatoes even for the two of us) and an unsweetened iced tea. The bill was $3.70. I had $3 cash and Nan had the 70 cents.

Now, I know, that’s only breakfast for 1 person. We then headed to Dunkin for my free medium iced coffee and to see if they still have chai— you see they took it off the menu.

We got the iced tea in case Dunkin really didn’t have chai.

I used the Dunkin mobile app to order the 2 for $3 sausage-egg-and-cheese wraps because Nan likes them. They are easy to eat in the car. And then I could get my free coffee. So that was $3.18. We saved the last egg wrap for the teenager.

Then at the speaker of the drove-thru we asked if they still had the chai, and they did. We ordered a medium hot chai and a cup with ice so I could ice it for Nan. That cost $3.79, as they had to charge us for the second cup.

They total for all the food was about $11 and we had breakfast for three people.

I loved the chicken biscuit with honey butter.

Phase One of our morning complete. Nan and I returned to my house to submit some essays and strategize future creative endeavors.

And then our friend Joan joins us. Neither one of us has seen Joan in a decade. Joan is another wickedly smart and multi-talented woman, dabbling and exploring the so many ways to express the beauty of this world: short stories, photography and music.

Joan, Nan and I all met as members of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group when the teenager was still “the baby.”

A lot of my good friends came from that group.

Angel, Nala, Misty

And Joan also brought the sweetest, ripest smelling melon I have held in my arms in months. Did she notice how much fresh fruit cup I ate in the hospital?

The teenager came home for lunch break (from band camp), Joan departed and we crated our three male fosters for neutering tonight. Except Zeus looks like a girl now.

Apollo

Apollo and Hermes both still have infected eyes and coughs so we were told to bring Artemis instead since she was ready for a forever home.

I went into the teenager’s room and Hermes had escaped his crate!

I let Apollo out, and cleaned cat boxes while on hold with Capital One Auto Financing to finish my application to refinance the last 40 months of my auto loan and drop $50/month from my payment without extending the life of the loan. I owe $7,690 and some odd cents.

With my auto loan approved, I slipped sweet little Artemis into the crate. Remember if she charms you, you can apply to adopt her through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Artemis purring

On the way to Artemis’ rendezvous point, I received a phone call from Capital Blue Cross, my medical insurer. This was my second medical phone call of the day as the hand specialist overseeing my case called me to request a follow-up even though my hospital discharge instructions said I only needed to see my family physician at Medical Associates of Bethlehem.

I have that appointment scheduled for Wednesday, and now the hand specialist for the following Monday. On the phone was my case manager from the insurance company. She sounded pleased that I was healing well and on top of everything. She will call again next Tuesday.

Upon delivering Artemis and retrieving the teenager, we came home and I finally had Brussel sprouts. When I was admitted to the hospital last week I had missed them by a couple hours as part of the Monday lunch special.

Walking Wednesday

Today starting with me reluctant to climb from my bed at 6 a.m. but the three-legged cat and the other old cat (Opie and Oz) had stayed in my room with me and Opie wanted out.

I fed everyone and started the dishes and the wash, only to discover later that I never turned on the water to the dishwasher. So had to restart that. We all have those early morning moments.

Since my daughter was with her dad, I took the rest of the mint chocolate chip ice cream to my room and ate it with an iced tea spoon (after all, recall my dishes were going).

And then I checked on the freshly neutered kittens and spent some time with the bird.

Meanwhile Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and I, had a good cuddle but then she got rambunctious and started biting. So I took her back to her cage. Not in her cage. But away from me.

She did not like that.

Video of Nala’s tantrum: Angry Nala

This afternoon, I came to visit my friend Gayle in South Bethlehem to do a Volkssport walk. Volkssporting is a type of organized walking that allows family and friends to walk together on a organized route written by people from that area that want to show others the highlights. You can earn miles & collect events for, for lack of a better work, status in the club.

The South Bethlehem walk is a scenic spin through Lehigh University’s Campus (where I noticed a family of deer!) followed by a tour of the Greenway and then the ArtsQuest/former Bethlehem Steel properties.

And as if this fun wasn’t enough— Gayle made me a great light summer meal.

And then Gayle and I attended the Act 197 training sponsored by Aspire to Autonomy.

Nescafé capers

Days upon days of 85, 88, today 93.

Kiss Me Kate / “Too Darn Hot” (Ann Miller)

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.

“Mom, can I taste your coffee?”

The teenager

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.

She had two glasses this afternoon.

She may never sleep again.

My Sunday Morning Pilgrimage Moment

Pilgrimages are for the humble, the weak, the seeking and the hurting.

Pilgrimages are often undertaken by the rich and/or the spiritually shallow, often to gain stature.

My morning started in my backyard with my mother, who has always been far more talented and motivated in terms of gardening. She did a little bit of my weeding— I believe that’s part of her “love language” to help me with my household chores.

After she left, I finished hanging the sheets on the clothesline and did some more weeding.

In those moments, I spent a lot of time reflecting. And I thought about the relationships I have been strengthening lately and the virtual pilgrimage via the El Camino that I have joined with friends on Facebook.

And I thought about how you have to have a strong sense of purpose and determination to take a pilgrimage — I know often religious commitment sparks such a journey but it often intersects with a need for healing, either spiritual or physical.

And the sense of facing challenge and achieving a difficult goal is part of the sense of success.

Then my neighbor (Sobaka’s Mom) said she was going for a walk at one of my favorite parks. I asked if she wanted company and she said sure. That she didn’t really want to go alone.

Of course, before I could go, I had to set Nala up with her puzzle of the day— Video of Today’s puzzle

We walked 5 miles. We talked about a little bit of everything. She’s a strong and plucky woman, and I enjoy her company.

Casual Update

There’s so much good activity in my life right now — I’ve been too busy to catch everyone up.

  • My last day at work is tomorrow and my colleague, Mr. Accordion, is coming over tonight.
  • I have been working hard publicizing Aspire to Autonomy’s upcoming events, and they have given me the title of Communications Director. I am working with a fantastic intern on public relations and I think, I hope, she is having fun.
  • Gayle, the teenager and I, went for a nice walk in Easton Cemetery last night. Every time I go up there I find more cool things!
  • Gayle, the teenager and I went to Porter’s Pub last night after the walk and they let me eat all the “stinky cheese.” Gayle bought me a very delicious salted caramel chocolate porter from Saucony Creek. To celebrate new beginnings!
  • I cashed in my free medium 2-topping pizza from Dominos.
  • I’ve been making Nala puzzles every morning to try and keep her busy.
  • We found someone that can get Mama cat spayed for free. (Did I mention we were out on a walk and our kittens’ mama came to us and we brought her home. She’s pregnant. Again.) We thought the organization would let us foster her and her kittens until they found homes… but now we’re being told they might keep her. So we are a tad sad.
  • And for multiple days in a row I have made 10,000 or more steps a day!