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.
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!
But at the end of the post, there will be a bit of bad news explaining why I had said blizzard. But let’s focus on the good. Because that’s how I roll.
The teenager and I skipped breakfast and went to Dairy Queen for lunch with Nala, the Goffin’s Cockatoo.
The Drumstick Blizzard
The latest blizzard creation from Dairy Queen is the drumstick blizzard with chunks of deep fried chicken in ice cream. Just kidding.
They crushed up bits of Drumstick ice cream cones and peanuts! So good. Very similar to a Snickers Blizzard but not as chewy. The ice cream cone pieces were crunchy and tasty.
And Nala enjoyed her French fries.
So now I have 503 reward points at DQ which is enough for a free 4 piece chicken strip basket.
What I struggle to understand is what is this super bendy straw for?
So, now the bad news… I was informed today that my last day with the non-profit agency where I work will be July 10. That’s why I had a Blizzard.
Here’s to the next chapter. I had a great time learning a lot of new skills in a field that was brand new to me. I had a lot of good experiences and made a lot of new friends and new connections. I look forward to finishing out next week with the team, and I wish the agency the best in the future.
I knew when I brought home a cockatoo that there would be lots of frustration in my future.
Having a cockatoo— even a small Goffin’s cockatoo like my Nala— is like having a bratty toddler with a teenager’s sharp mind and destructive attitude.
So it takes a special person to coexist with that for the next 40 years.
I recently rearranged the bird cages and Nala was not happy with me— the teenager pointed out that I moved her house to a new neighborhood and put the parakeets where her spot was.
I also thought she would no longer be prone to eating my cork boards.
Apparently she not only ate the cork boards, but the items on them. She hid the stickers I had collected and periodically gets them out to destroy them.
I hope I found them all.
Additionally, I ordered one of her favorite toys from Chewy.com. And parakeet food. Cat food. And a new treat.
The pineapple popcorn treats are new. So far she is refusing them. I tasted one. I thought it was good. She also refuses the yogurt dipped seeds. I like them too. The healthy bits treats are her favorite. She adores them.
But the parakeet food exploded… so I have bird seed everywhere.
The best stories start with “it began as a typical day,” but in this case it did not.
The teenager turned 16 on Tuesday and my employer had scheduled our annual meeting for Tuesday so I planned to take off today and tomorrow to celebrate with my offspring.
With Coronavirus changing everything I could have taken Monday and Tuesday instead.
Last night, I curled up in bed with a gin cocktail and watched some more of Harlan Coben’s: The Five on Netflix. (Mini review: my friend, brow maintenance person and nail tech Beth recommended the show—and I am enjoying what I feel is edgy cinematography, rapid paced story telling, complex writing, and realistically complicated and tragic characters. It’s like watching a comic book.)
So I got to bed later than I normally do and I slept a little better than I normally do. I fed the kittens, made coffee, started laundry and finagled a cake carrier into the dishwasher.
After a cup of my favorite Archer Farms Direct Trade Cafe Mosaica from Target on my breezy enclosed sun porch, I slapped some clothes on… and ended up trying to accessorize a basic outfit.
Which is funny because I was going to pick up Nan, who is blind and won’t see my efforts anyway.
And then I was surprised to find out that the teenager made me breakfast— a mini bagel with greens, cucumber and fresh bacon.
After we worked on some poetry, Nan and I went to Lidl. And I took her home.
When I arrived home, the teenager informed me that her plan for today involved not wearing pants. So after a brief respite, I went to Wendy’s for a Frosty-ccino.
That was when the real adventure began.
I decided to take Nala, my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined the family in January. Now, recently we took Nala to Dunkin Donuts to try hash browns and that went well.
So I ordered my Frosty-ccino and a junior fry for my baby girl bird on the mobile app and got into the drive thru lane. And then I did what we all do in this day and age. I took a selfie.
That’s when I realized Nala had pooped on me in fear. And I had no wipes in the car. Green bird droppings now stained my white t-shirt and Nala was walking in the mess.
But everyone in the drive thru window loved her— three employees cooed at her from afar.
I pulled into a parking space and offered her a French fry and she was too scared to eat it. I drove her home, put the car in the garage, gathered the waste and the food and started up toward the house.
Now, the teenager’s father moved some heavy original doors from the house across the garage so he could use my great grandmother’s hutch in his apartment. He did this a couple week’s ago. The doors block a portion of the stairs.
I got tangled up on the stairs/with the doors and fell, to the left onto the doors to avoid smashing Nala who was on my right shoulder.
I almost spilled my coffee and French fries fluttered like hail.
But luckily Nala is a bird, and a forager, so she doesn’t mind a little dirt. I gather them all carefully and climb up from the floor, some contusions and cuts causing minor pain.
I bump the doors and they almost fall on me. This time the French fries scatter to the four winds.
I notice how much blood and dirt cover me and I head inside to discover Nala has pooped even more.
I set her down.
I remove my shirt. White tee shirt. Vivid blood. Green poop.
I wash up and count my blessings— I was very close (too close) to breaking an arm.
I put on my lucky shirt once I cleaned up.
Addendum: I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile and wrote this introduction as to why I felt this piece was important especially as part of a discourse on social justice.
I don’t like to admit I have a disability— #cerebralpalsy. But it’s important to note that with all the stereotypes and institutionalized ideas people have about “others,” whether other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, identities, educational or social class (the list goes on and on), for those of us who have tried to “pass” as “normal” or “mainstream,” our experience is difficult. As all life is difficult to one degree or another. But if you are obviously “different” and you can’t “pass,” those notions of who you are based on quick judgments can be catastrophic. Or lead to people doing harm to you or someone you love. #blacklivesmatter
In that context, allow me to share with you what a typical day looks like for me. Warning— I end up bleeding by the end of it. Different isn’t inferior. Or threatening.
Nothing serious. The day-to-day realities of life.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the teenager had some medical issues. I have a dental appointment for an adjustment to my crown that was a mild nightmare before the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s on the 17th.
My favorite kitten got out and was missing for 24 hours this week. Thanks to all my neighbors who offered to help or kept and eye out for Fog.
So his brother, Misty, and I went walking in case Fog was afraid to come home.
Fog found his way home on his own, as cats often do. But he no longer had a collar.
In Nala news, (for those that don’t know, she’s my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined our family in January) she has stopped plucking and has started barbering. This means she was pulling out her feathers, which, like with a teenager who “cuts,” releases endorphins that soothe. But barbering is the habit of eating the feathers but not removing them.
I hope this is a sign of progress.
This morning, the teenager and I went to Petco to get Fog a new collar (and we made sure all critters had tags with their name, address and phone—except Opie who eats his collar and since he’s microchipped AND is an amputee, we hope the neighborhood would “know” he belongs to us. He does have a tag, he just refuses to keep it on).
And we dognapped the neighbor’s sassy Maltese-Yorky for the day.
Lastly, I’m still struggling with some rather difficult itching. It’s a stress thing. The heat, stress, and my already overactive immune system (due to a myriad of pollen allergies and history of contact dermatitis) is prompting random hives. One or two, here or there, which despite daily antihistamines is getting worse not better.
Once a hive pops up, if I as much as touch it, it will stay and itch for days. I have some that won’t go on my belly, arms and butt right now. My thighs come and go.
So I post this things just to remind every one that despite what perfection people post to the internet, there are always struggles we all face, small and large.
The house remains still and peaceful except for the whir of fans and the occasional vocalization of a kitten, probably Misty (Mistofelees) looking for his brother, Fog. He’s distraught because I almost closed his tail in the door.
Several times today I have paused and interrupted my normal routine— to text a friend, have a Twitter conversation, drink coffee on the couch instead of in my bedroom with Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo.
One voice in the back of my head says, “You slept in, so now you’re an hour behind. You need to start that laundry and get it on the line, and that includes stripping your bed, and probably the cover on your weighted blanket. Just about every floor in the house needs to be washed with Pine Sol too. And the teenager never cleaned the cat boxes yesterday like you asked her to.”
Man, it’s exhausting just listening to that voice.
And already this morning I managed to stab myself.
I have this very basic practical set of Chicago Cutlery knives that for the first 20 years I never put in the dishwasher. Somehow, in the last day or two since I did my traditional hand wash dishes, every knife from that set is dirty. Six steak knives, the mini cleaver, the paring knife, the tomato knife, the kitchen scissors, all of them.
And last night, after a long work week where I never quite knew if I would ever receive the respect I deserve in the midst of some major ordeals, I just threw every knife in the silverware basket. Point up. The way every home ec and kitchen safety teacher tells you never to do.
I even looked in the dishwasher and chastised myself and said I should stop being super lazy and reload the top shelf so I could at least use that plastic flap that holds the knives.
But I didn’t.
Because this week brought me to new places. Another grant came back with with the largest award we ever received from that funder. Our Pennsylvania county finally went yellow. The primary happened.
But just like at work where I often feel like my voice is not heard and my experience and work style is not respected nor appreciated for what I can contribute, everything seems to stay the same.
George Floyd is still dead.
The two party system defends only the elite and anyone outside of that elite will always be marginalized.
So I slammed my dishwasher door and ran it not only with my “good” knives inside but also with them point side up.
And somehow, when reaching for a clean coffee mug that I never put on the bottom shelf but I did this time, I gave myself a superficial stab wound in the middle of my palm.
Probably because I was distracted by a long list of housework and not staying present in the moment.
This is not how people should live.
I gaze out the front window (oh, damn, I need to trim the roses too). The birds chatter and chirp outside oblivious to how humans destroy each other and our shared habitat.
But Space X Dragon launched successfully. So we have reached phase 1 of our transition into the society we glimpsed in Wall*e.
Which coincidentally was the first movie the teenager ever saw in a theater. I believe she was 4, and I recollect that it was somewhere around this time (must google). She wore a cute dress. We saw the movie at Bethlehem’s Boyd Theater. I didn’t want her first movie to be in a modern boring theater.
She was transfixed.
So now it’s 9 a.m. and I think back to my transformative experiences this week.
I lost 4 pounds in the last day. (Amazing what happens when you resume drinking water, eating fruit instead of candy and chips, and stop eating half a pizza every four days.)
I started baby steps toward making my body work effectively again.
I filled out a self evaluation form at work, which I think fairly depicts my successes and my struggles. I was trying to be honest and transparent but I feel I will be viewed as scathing.
I had a good visit with my doctor, noting that my blood pressure is going down.
In conjunction with those previous two bullets, I video chatted with my therapist who specializes in work stress and it was an intense appointment. I was drained for the rest of the day and ate nothing but a handful of cashews until 5 p.m. That was my most recent bout of binging half a pizza and Little Caesar’s stuffed crazy bread. Which was a disappointment. Stuffed crazy bread tastes nothing like real crazy bread and the cheese inside was weird. The bread itself was soggy. The outside tasted like a soggy Olive Garden breadstick without the addictive outer coating and the inside was overloaded with a heavy but tasteless mozzarella.
I didn’t vote in the primary. I always vote. But I researched all the candidates and in the races where I wanted a voice there was no opposition. It bothers me deeply that I did not vote.
And George Floyd.
And the struggles of every “minority,” every person labeled for their skin color, their body shape or function, their religion, their choice of dress, their economic status, their sexuality, their gender, their resistance to be the status quo, their inability to be the same, the non-conformists, the thinkers, the doers.
Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and I are sharing a juicy bowl of watermelon.
I went to the doctor today for a follow up on my high blood pressure. My original appointment was April 1, but the pandemic moved it to today.
As they directed me last week, I arrived in the parking lot prepared to call them and wait in my car. (See Medicine in the time of Covid for the full prep phone call, which I also submitted to the Mighty and should be available on their platform soon.)
But they called me as soon as I pulled into the parking lot!
The nurse came out for me and brought me into the office vestibule where she took my temperature. From there, we went into the lobby where she had me step onto the scale. Imagine my surprise when I saw I was lighter at the doctor’s office than at home.
I had horrible, emotional nightmares last night and they left me shaken this morning. I had a raging headache, which might have been dehydration but it could have been stress as I knew I had to do a self-evaluation at work and my boss only gave me 24 hours to do it.
I thought my blood pressure would be awful. My pulse was racing. I felt it.
But even that riled up, my blood pressure had dropped 10 points! Even with the work stress growing, the Coronavirus and all the other issue’s on my plate, my blood pressure went down.
I meant to ask her to take it again before I left because I bet “the good news” made it go down even more.
And according to them, I gained less than 2 pounds during Covid. My records and my clothes disagree.
I woke today with no clear idea of what I wanted to achieve today except that I promised my teenager that we could go to Lidl and get supplies to grill again.
I even called my blind friend Nan (who’s now on twitter and just published a NASA poem as a tweet) and got her shopping list.
Peanut butter cookies
I got up and fed the menagerie. One quietly sad little leftover tidbit of having formerly feral kittens is that sometimes they really do eat anything.
Fog, who was on his own a month longer than his brother Misty (Mistofelees), tends to eat the cockatoo’s kibble.
But I do feed them— as I grind my whole bean espresso blend and feed it into my little espresso machine.
This morning I started laundry, washed the bathroom floor and reassembled it now that it’s been thoroughly scrubbed. I had my last birthday cupcake for breakfast.
I saw a got the last of my anticipated packages, a shirt and necklace from Doll’s Kill. (Unboxing here: My last birthday package.)
I also got two pairs of slacks and a purple tunic from White House Black Market. I thought the necklace would look amazing with the tunic. (Another unboxing here: New Pants)
My Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, had her morning talking session and woke the teenager up at 11 a.m.
The teenager and I went to Lidl and the Dollar Tree. Our finds at Lidl included super cheap scrapple and super cheap hot dogs and super cheap maple breakfast sausages. We got two bags of instant light charcoal. Dill pickle pita chips. Some varieties of veggie burgers. Provolone because it was on sale and the teenager adores provolone. The teenager even got break and bake chocolate chip cookies to make in her father’s new toaster oven. (His apartment does not have a stove/oven.)
At the Dollar Tree, I got tuna. A vase because for the life of me I can’t find the one I made in college that I use to display my roses. Frozen appetizers. A can of corn so we can make my mother-in-law’s corn bake. A can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli because it might be the second time the teenager ever had it. Some grill utensils. Matches. And Ajax. Because the teenager wanted Comet for cleaning but the Dollar Store only had Ajax. And instant decaf coffee. Because Lidl didn’t have any decaf coffee and I need to detox.
Nala got really hot this afternoon and started swimming in her water bowl.
The teenager started the grill again. This time we were more determined than ever to succeed. Read about last night’s attempt here: Yesterday’s BBQ
We even invited her dad for dinner. And do you know what? Those cheap hot dogs were really good.
And I had a library board meeting at 7 p.m., so I poured a Diet Coke and mango nectar.
I can feel my tension fade away and it feels delightful. I ate well today, though I’m hungry now. I even had a ton of fruit. A serving of cantaloupe. An apple made in the grill like at Girl Scout camp. And probably 8 pieces of watermelon.