The celebratory and the reflective

My neighbor and the pet mama of my favorite little dog, Sobaka, had a birthday yesterday and her 700th Peleton ride. Another friend had a birthday Thursday and by happenstance I had that podiatrist appointment in her town and stopped to see her. She insisted I had to have done it on purpose, but I am terrible with birthdays. I know they are coming. I make plans days in advance but somehow, they slip by without me recognizing them.

The Teenager decided to take the bull by the horns and go shopping for our neighbor’s birthday and collected all of her favorites: Diet Coke in 20 ounce bottles, Cheez-Its and various flavors and sizes of M&M chocolates. It’s something the teenager learned from the maternal side of our family, because when my mother runs out of ideas for what to buy someone she either finds something completely ridiculous (like the whole chicken in a can that she bought my husband for Christmas one year) or stocks up on their everyday favorites. (The chicken in a can stemmed from my husband’s love of chocolate pudding in a can. Things escalated from there.) It’s like a care package, but more festive.

Now Sobaka turned eight this week so The Teenager also bought a corresponding gift bag for the dog. With extra tissue paper as Baki loves tissue paper, some treats and some little stuffed toys Baki will probably ignore because she’s too hoity toity to play.

My family has lived in this neighborhood for 20 years. Some of my neighbors have lived here their whole lives, like Little Dog’s Birthday Girl Mom and my neighbor to the right who cuts my lawn every time he cuts his. Most of my neighbors have been here as long as I have, and so we have adopted an informal mascot of the Flamingo and have the occasional girls night.

The Teenager is very excited to be old enough to attend. Last night was the Flamingo Birthday party. I was very very much looking forward to it, and very excited to share the slow progression of my service dog application with my neighbors. Very excited also to see what cocktails would be served as this particular host does not disappoint. (I ended up with a Jack Daniels canned cocktail of lemonade and honey whiskey, delicious.)

I suspected this was a recipe for disaster, but was so looking forward to relaxing with neighbors and laughing after a hard week. I had been up since 3 a.m., worked almost a full day with odd results on my metrics, went to the gym at 5 p.m. and inadvertently skipped dinner. The party started at 7, but I opted to wait for The Teenager to get home from work at 7:30 pm.

I’m skipping around chronology here, but my brain was doing this same jumps for much of the day, fatigue leaving me not quite here nor there. When I left for the gym at 4:40 — it’s about a 10 minute walk — I discovered a package from my stepmother’s business.

How honest should I be? This package struck fear into my heart. I didn’t want to open it. But I had to open it. I haven’t heard from anyone in my family for months and it seems like some people in it are getting harder to get a hold of, but I know rationally it’s a busy time of year and we’re all still recovering from the loss of our patriarch and trying to figure out how to fill that void. So of course I open the large but light box.

There is a beautiful card inside with a thoughtful inscription from my stepmother. She had a quilt made for me of my dad’s things. I cried. Because this week has been hard for me and I’ve been trying to hide just how hard and wishing I had my dad to listen and make me laugh. And not many people other than my mother and I would care, but Tuesday was my parents’ wedding anniversary.

I almost carried the bulky blanket with me to the gym because I didn’t want to put it down. Luckily, the Teenager got home in the knick of time to take it away from me.

We did a fantastic upper body workout at the gym, with some core exercises that used the legs which I very much needed. I had skipped Wednesday’s workout not knowing the source of the nerve pain. The workout pushed my arms and stretched out my extended person, who was very stiff.

Once I made it to the party, I sat by the fire pit in the yard (wearing the Teenager’s Stitch Fix mock leather jacket because I didn’t want to fight the kittens in my room to get my very stylish jean jacket) sipping my cocktail. I had rejected my first seat because the Adirondack chair made my back and hip very uncomfortable. All day my right lower back muscle had been straining oddly, and I thought maybe the cortisone shot in my foot had caused me to move my body differently.

We moved into the house for ring bologna, cheese, pretzels and chocolate-on-chocolate cake. If you are looking for me in the photo, I am second from the left with the Teenager beside me. My exhaustion kicked in high gear. The Teenager had to leave for work at 8:45 p.m., another overnight dog-owning client, so I thought it best to follow her home. Which, for the record, is across the street.

Now, I attend these parties barefoot as long as the weather allows. The Teenager and I leave the house, descend the front stairs, and reach the sidewalk. I think I took two steps on the old sidewalk and I lost my balance. Badly. Tried to regain my footing and couldn’t. I fell onto the Teenager who allowed me to ricochet off her without budging. Like a mighty tree.

And then she looked down and said, “You okay? You getting up or are you dead?”

If you don’t live with someone clumsy or someone with a condition like cerebral palsy prone to these kind of incidents, you might find that cold and cruel. It’s not. It’s practical and allows me to retain some dignity as I collect myself. My daughter knows I don’t need fuss, that I’ll let you know when it’s time to panic. It might be a little later than it should be, but eventually I’ll let you know. We might stop at the Chinese Buffet with a broken ankle, but eventually I’ll end up at Urgent Care when I need it.

I knew I stubbed my toes and my palms and my elbow was screaming, but I was praising whatever entity was watching over me that I had the heavy jacket to protect my arms. My glasses were still on my face. My face never hit the cement. We were good. I just hoped the jacket had survived.

“It will make it look cooler,” the Teenager said.

I crossed the street and took inventory. My elbow was bleeding and was very tender to the touch. My other scrapes were inconsequential. I checked my phone for clues as to what might be happening.

Holy shit.

Let me just start my saying that even with the explanations offered by Apple and Google, I don’t understand exactly how to analyze double support time, walking steadiness and walking asymmetry as recorded by my phone. I look for patterns. I know my phone does not consider me a fall risk, so I rule that algorithm-based tool out as useless for me.

I know, in general, that when my asymmetry reaches 10% or more I tend to fall. This shows two spikes, one at 53% on the walk to the gym, and another at 58% on the way to my neighbor’s house. As best I understand, this means one foot is walking faster than the other. Did the cortisone shot make it so I can’t feel my foot enough to use it? Is this foot unable to keep up with the other? This idea terrifies me.

I cleaned up as best I could and collapsed in bed struggling to get comfortable with my elbow bothering me and my back hurting worse. My brain was calculating and worrying and fighting the downward spiral.

That’s where I’m at. Except I’m cuddled on the couch in my dad blanket.

My green breakfast, beer bribes, and not so good food choices.

I am sipping a matcha latte (a Tazo concentrate and it’s very sweet) and about to enjoy a pistachio muffin.

The last thing I need right now is a 400+ calorie muffin but I went to Weis yesterday because they have beer. And wine. And I like to have beer on hand to “pay” my neighbor when he automatically cuts my front lawn when he cuts his.

When my husband and I bought this house— almost 20 years ago—we intentionally picked one with a small yard. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you may have seen my backyard and never even realized how small it is. Just enough for a small garden and a clothesline.

That’s more than half my yard and my huge detached garage—split level

This is the post that photo comes from: Perfect Day from the Home Office

My husband used to cut the grass with a weed wacker. But it died. I used an old 100-year-old manual push mover. The one with the rotating blades. A gift from a friend who once lived in a similar neighborhood.

But my neighbors usually do my front yard. Our front yards are small and I think they figure if you have the lawn mower out might as well keep going.

My neighbor who currently cuts my grass has a habit of opening a cold beer when he’s done. So if I see him cutting grass, I bring him a cold beer. If he does it while I’m not around, I leave a beer on his porch.

So, if I want to continue to foster this good neighbor behavior, I need beer.

At Weis, they have this display right inside the door with preboxed muffins. I go to Weis for three things: pistachio muffins (why are they the only local store with the sense to back them????), their store made fried chicken (which they don’t appear to be making right now), and craft beer mix and match six packs. (The damn store is in a trifecta triangle with my gym, my bank and Dunkin’ Donuts.)

I walk into the store and there it sits— two very troubling decisions. There are two four-packs of muffins that include pistachio.

  1. Do I buy muffins? Oh, so nutritionally void. But delicious.
  2. Do I buy the four pack of pistachio or do I buy the four pack that includes three pistachio and one corn? How did that one corn muffin get in there? Why corn?

I had to buy the one with the corn. Who else would buy such a bizarre combo of muffins? And do the pistachio muffins bully the corn muffin?

I also bought a six pack of Yuengling and a six pack of Brooklyn Brand Sour Raspberry Ale. And a strawberry parfait.

The parfait was amazing. It was a strawberry shortcake with pudding and mountains of whipped cream. I thought it might have yogurt in it but no, it was pudding. I can’t even pretend that was healthy.

Weis Strawberry (Shortcake) Parfait

Throughout the day, I ate an entire bag of Sweettart jelly beans. I’m not disappointed in myself for eating 1300 calories of jelly beans. I’m disappointed in myself for binge eating jelly beans I didn’t even really like.

Yes, jelly beans and a diet A-treat

And then finally for supper, I made spinach feta sausage patties from our local small grocery, butcher and best deli ever Park Avenue Market. More on my shopping trip yesterday here: The Uplifting Side of Pandemic Days. The teenager was mmmmming and smacking her lips.

Meat courtesy Park Avenue Market

The sausage tasted fabulous on the day-old deeply discounted bakery rolls I picked up at Weis.

And the ale was good. The fruity sour taste was a tad off putting at first because I wasn’t quite prepared for it. But it was refreshing and smooth overall.

I have to do better with my eating today.

Sidewards glance you the huge, nutritionally void pistachio muffin next to my latte.