There are elements of every week that feel harder than the previous week.
I think I have determined that if I don’t move enough and I sit at desks and in similar circumstances my spine cannot handle it. Perhaps I am a candidate for a standing desk.
I spent yesterday cold and in pain, rotating my chores with cuddling kittens.
The teenager went with her uncle today to build a cat litter box for her room. She’s on her way home so I’m anxious to see how it went.
I was trying to determine what to do with my day when I got an email from my friend Gayle— yes, the same Gayle with whom I walk and who is designing ASPIRE to Autonomy’s annual report— “If only you lived closer…”
And me being me, I said “I’ll be right over.”
What was her dilemma?
Filming how to video mini lectures for her classes in the graphic design department at Northampton Community College.
It was fun to help her discuss magazine layout, master pages and style sheets in one video and cutting and scoring in the next.
Then we went for a walk. Gayle had new shoes she needed to break in before her 9-mile walk on Friday. And my back did just fine on the 4,000 step promenade.
She took me for a walk to Fountain Hill, past the house where she used to live. We stopped to talk to Violet who used to feed all the stray cats and I noticed a pretty cool stick. And I stopped at Dunkin on the way home as the Eagles were playing so I got a $1 iced coffee.
First, let me say— hats off to the legendary Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Her time on the Supreme Court, her legacy and the documentary film on her life, RBG, have touched millions of people— male and female—who may or may not know how her thoughts and actions have influenced their lives.
My posting lately has been inconsistent because I have been finishing some grants and the annual report for ASPIRE to Autonomy, Inc. The former I must give credit to my amazing interns Kayla and Sarah, and the latter is in the hands of my talented graphic designer (and partner in crime) Gayle.
Who else would take it in stride when I jokingly send photos like this (below) for the annual report and understand my hastily scrawled notes?
In the midst of it all, I’m still looking for a job, dealing with paperwork, adapting to hybrid school and ever present teenagers (who truly bring laughter and vibrancy into my life), socializing the foster kittens, developing a routine for the sassy cockatoo, battling the teen-and-pet laundry mountain, and collecting hospital bills. And poorly trying to find time and energy to improve my own health and return to weight training.
But this is a Saturday Silly Post!
So random sillies…
Yesterday Darnell popped over to finalize some projects for ASPIRE. He got hungry for a sandwich so I recommended my non-downtown spot. If you are in downtown Easton, the best spot for a sandwich is Josie’s New York Deli.
But when you’re not downtown, the place to go for a sandwich is Park Avenue Market. But they are slow. It takes them forever to make a hoagie. But they are pieces of art.
Darnell had his mind blown by their Dietz and Watson Bacon Lovers Turkey Breast and Bacon Lovers cheddar.
I tried the seafood salad with the dill havarti and shared it with the teenager. But the teenager was in a bit of an impatient frenzy because her Universal Yums box from Colombia came. So, Darnell was kind enough to film our unboxing video.
In addition, I got my Ipsy bag, which had a tiny Tarte mascara (the cutest mascara I’ve ever seen), some color correction crème, and a day-to-night eyeshadow palette very similar to my all time favorite but darker shades so I offered that to the teenager. Her skin tone is darker than mine and I thought it would suit her well.
I’m really tempted to upgrade to the Glam Bag Plus.
And finally, on Thursday, my creative friend Joan came over and asked Nan to join us, so when I went to get Nan we went to Dunkin Donuts since the weather has changed to brisk Autumn. And we got her opinion on the new stuffed bagel minis.
I had to face my pandemic denial today— due to the stressful nature of my last professional position, I’ve been stress eating more than I’ve admitted the last few months.
(And if you read this blog, you know I’ve been fairly transparent about my ability to each an entire Dominos or Little Caesar’s pizza. So imagine the late night bags of chips and the multiple doughnuts I haven’t told you about.)
Today I hit a new body weight high. And none of my pants fit. So it was sobering.
And I know part of that is my good intentions gone wrong.
Yesterday the morning started with breakfast with my dad and the teenager. I had coffee, a broccoli feta omelette, home fries, dry rye toast and cranberry juice.
I was proud of my choice because I haven’t had vegetables enough recently and I could bring half of my meal home for today. It was too delicious. So I decided I would skip or have a light lunch.
But then I stress ate a doughnut.
Then my dad and step mom invited me to the pub for dinner. My step mom wanted pizza so I thought I’d have a beer and a slice. I think I ate the equivalent of a whole bar pizza.
It’s 7:23 pm and I’m watching the marching band rehearse so my daughter can drive home… I’ll make7,000 steps today but not my goal of 10K.
PART TWO: WARLOCK CRAFT BEER REVIEW
At Three Mugs Pub yesterday, I ordered a salted caramel chocolate Saucony Creek, a craft beer label I typically enjoy. Chocolate stouts and porters tend to be my favorite beers.
They didn’t have it. So I ordered a Warlock instead.
Warlock is an imperial pumpkin stout brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company. It was smooth and not obnoxious in its seasonal flavor. And caused more of a buzz than I was expecting given all the food I ate.
PART THREE: CHICKEN BONE BROTH
Earlier— on Tuesday—while the teenager was still hanging out with my dad…
I finally turned off my crock pot that had been brewing the chicken bones of a whole young roaster I bought at Grocery Outlet on Saturday for $4. I made the chicken in the crock pot that day, returned the bones and skin to the crockpot and kept filling it with water until Tuesday noon.
I carefully poured it all out and squeezed all the goodness out of the now soft bones. I also started a pot of soup on the stove. The yield was nice.
PART FOUR: TRIGGERED
I started my day with coffee— fighting an unusual sluggishness and some unexpected difficulty with my menstrual cycle.
Last week, I had started thinking about my psychological triggers. I have long known that I have an obsessive attitude toward food. Not in the disordered eating way, but in a hoarding kind of way.
I don’t actually hoard food, but seeing a piece of fruit rot or having to throw out an out-of-date food product upsets me far more than it should.
It usually serves me well, but it backfires sometimes and missteps with food can make me unreasonably angry.
Let’s bring this back to that chicken— I didn’t need that chicken. I didn’t even want that chicken. But that was a huge roaster chicken for $4.
I made soup and froze it for the first cold day of the fall season. (I’m not even fond of chicken soup). I separated the white meat and the dark meat and froze that for future use. And I made bone broth.
That’s a lot of food for $4. Good, healthy protein. But… it’s not food I enjoy. So why?
But then this morning as I was drinking my coffee, I heard two people arguing. It was a loud verbal altercation. This is one of my triggers I forgot about— and it’s one I understand. My parents had a lot of verbal arguments and if I’m honest (forgive me for saying so Mom and Dad) if they had enough alcohol the fights could get violent and ugly. There weren’t that many over the years, but enough to create an even more terrifying environment than the mere alcoholism that existed in my childhood home.
So I surveyed my surroundings and couldn’t see anyone. My chest was tightening and my stomach dropping and that odd little internal tremble shook me.
These incidents were frequent when my previous neighbors screamed profanities at each other and threw objects and each other at the walls. It terrified me. They were literally on the other side of the wall, similar to my parents. When I didn’t stand there paralyzed and watch them.
I am not convinced what happened this morning, but I suspect my neighbor had some sort of television program playing in her car.
PART FIVE: THRIFT STORE
I promised the teenager a trip to our favorite thrift store. She bought supplies for her father’s birthday craft and two belts. I bought approximately three skirts, four pairs of business slacks, one pair jeans and one pair corduroys.
Since I can’t try things on, I got everything from size 7 to 10. Far cry from my normal 2 or 4, or my spare/ baggy sizes 6 to 8.
None of the professional pants fit. The red jeans (Old Navy low cut Rockstar 10) fit but are snug. The corduroys fit (size 8). One size 8 skirt fits, the other two did not. The medium skirt fit.
I’m sorry, guys. I also wanted to update you on Aspire to Autonomy, Lady Boss Entrepreneurs Club and some recent make-up unboxing from Dolls Kill and Target.com. But I’m wiped out and this is really long. Oh — and William Prystauk’s third novel appeared on Amazon.com today so now you can read the latest Kink Noir masterpiece and get your mystery/romance/crime/BDSM on.
The parks/trails seemed so crowded and people were from out of state, which is fine, but they seemed to be hanging out more than hiking.
A hiking guide’s idea of a mile is shorter than mine.
If land is designated as National Recreation Area, people can hunt and fish on that property. You cannot hunt or fish in a National Park.
Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel are nearly identical. Mountain Laurel grows in high elevations and has leaves smaller than the palm of your hand. If the leaves are bigger than your hand, it is a rhododendron.
Burning poison ivy and breathing the fumes can give you internal poison ivy.
Our tour guides had some interesting knowledge of the area; and our favorite had an eclectic post-college experience of accepting Americorps posts all over the country. She apparently had extraordinary prowess with a chain saw.
We learned a lot about plants, both native and invasive; trees and their insect diseases; and history— they even discussed how this area was shaped by the proposed Tock’s Island Dam project.
I find the Tock’s Island Dam controversy fascinating. Because the land was taken by eminent domain and not originally destined for National Park use, the people who had their homes seized did not have much time to move. So much debris was left behind but nothing can be removed from a National Park.
These high school students did a great job on this brief documentary explaining the project.
What is even more fascinating is that without the proposed Tock’s Island Dam, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area would not exist as it does today and it wouldn’t be as expansive. Even one of the biggest anti-Tock’s dam activists says that the process of condemning those homes and entire towns for the dam protected the area from future development.
I grew up on the Delaware River. Much downstream from where we were today, at the start of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. So hearing about “Hurricane Diane,” “the (19)’55 flood,” etc., was like listening to legends about my own history, as if the river were my blood.
My bedroom faced the river, and when I find myself someone where I can hear water washing against the shore in the lazy way that river does, I close my eyes and can revisit some of the best memories of my childhood.
And of course no 65 minute road trip is complete without some sites on the road:
My blind friend, Nancy, always says that I’m the only person she knows that has a life as daffy as hers.
This morning I got up, helped the teenager med the kittens and dealt with some other cat rescue business, drove the teen to band camp for photos, and headed to Young’s Volkswagen Mazda to get my car inspected.
I originally had an appointment for two weeks ago and I had to cancel that when I was admitted into the hospital.
I need a state inspection and emission test, and the dealership will do the state inspection for free. My 2015 Jetta has synthetic oil, so it only needs an oil change every 10,000 miles or once a year. Well, thanks to corona I’ve only driven 5,000 miles this year. So… does it need an oil change?
My dad told me it needs the tires rotated. And my mileage is at 30,800 so it’s due for a 30,000 mile service, which includes an oil change and tire rotation.
And my key fob doesn’t work. At all.
Then I forgot to put my breakfast in my purse. So I had a strong cup of French roast coffee, no food and my mind is buzzing.
I get to the dealership at 8:05 for an 8:30 appointment. I start organizing the insurance and registration paperwork and I realize my insurance card expired in April.
I download a new one, screen shot it and email it to the service clerk from my phone.
He notices I am high strung and suggests I calm down.
At a previous time, I had ascertained that the oil change, inspection and tire rotation would be cheaper than the 30,000 mile service.
Gayle is on her way to pick me up so we can go for a walk in Louise Moore Park (one of my favorite spots In Northampton County. They have a kite festival. And the teenager learned to ride a bike there.)
Gayle somehow tours all of the local car dealerships before finding the right one, and she drives right by me and I didn’t even see her. And I was sitting on some giant boulders.
We had a good laugh as we both appreciate a silly mishap. We walked at least 5,500 steps on a beautiful, cool summer morning.
We called from the park and the car was ready. Somehow we turned onto the highway instead of the car dealership and compensated for our oopsy by stopping at Dunkin Donuts for free coffee Monday and a green iced tea for Gayle.
Our discombobulation continued and we made a few more wrong turns.
I told Gayle I would be ecstatic if my car cost me $150 or less. I am unemployed right now and have no income.
When I arrived, the total was $150.53. I was thrilled. And they fixed my key fob— it had the wrong battery in it. I’m sure the guys at the dealership had a good laugh, and again, I’m okay with that.
I feel victorious as they fixed my key fob!
In cat news, I pet little Apollo today, got Hades to take her antibiotics and played with Zeus and Artemis.
Exhausted, I make a frozen pizza that I augment with nutritional yeast and extra sharp cheddar (which despite not being opened has somehow turned moldy— must be a tiny hole in the bag.)
The teenager would tell me not to eat it as I have a sensitivity to penicillin but after all of the penicillin-category antibiotics that have filled my body recently I don’t think moldy cheese will kill me.
I don’t feel like writing right now. I don’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping.
No one prepared me for how weird it would be to transition back into everyday life after 72 hours plus in the hospital.
It’s a lot like jet lag for similar reasons— your sleep schedule is screwed up and your routine in general is topsy turvy.
And I had neither major illness nor invasive procedures.
I got home on Thursday a little after 11 a.m. The cats were aloof but Nala was glad to see me.
I took one of the longest showers I’ve ever taken in my life. And I put on a pretty dress, just because I could.
And when I got out of the shower I discovered a text that alerted me to a cake on my porch.
I immediately texted my neighbor in the other half of my house and asked if she wanted to have coffee and I would bring cake.
Knowing I haven’t had decent coffee since the previous weekend, she started a pot immediately.
I left from there to go meet my daughter at the high school and help her carry her marching baritone home.
This is where I have to give my daughter all the props. Monday was her first day of high school band camp. If you don’t already know this about the teenager, she is in her fourth year of playing low brass in marching band.
So when I wandered off to the ER at 6-ish a.m. Monday morning, and was texting her “I’m not coming home.” Well, first she thought I was dying and then she suddenly became responsible for her own meals, her own laundry, and the care of 3 parakeets, 1 cockatoo who won’t go to sleep without someone in the room, our four cats and five foster kittens.
And we had a tropical storm.
And she handled it all.
Our neighbors offered an amazing support network, as did my friends, especially Gayle who brought me t-shirts so I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown.
I took several walks that first day home, including one for my medicine at CVS. I was ecstatic to see I only had a few days of Augmentin to take.
And the hand has improved every day.
My dad and stepmom came down to visit and take us to dinner at Three Mugs Pub. That almost made me cry because on Wednesday, after the doctor told me he couldn’t discharge me yet, all I could think of was a Shruty’s burger at Three Mugs Pub.
When Three Mugs Pub was still Shruty’s, my husband and I were the first people to order the Shruty’s burger when they debuted it. It’s a really good burger topped with pepper jack cheese, shrings (tempura battered deep fried banana pepper rings) and Texas petal sauce.
In my opinion, this burger is one of the best in the Lehigh Valley, on par with the much pricier peanut butter bacon burger at Two Rivers Brewing, another favorite of mine.
And I had a Guinness to celebrate my arrival home.
They had a new appetizer on the menu— a hot buffalo chicken dip. We tried that too.
The teenager declared it her new favorite chicken dip, better than her father’s. I respectfully disagree. Her father’s is extremely good. I prefer it.
After that meal I slept 10 hours.
Now, on Friday, yesterday, everyone kept contacting me or stopping me to ask how I was doing and then Darnell stopped by to inform me of all the things that had happened while I was gone.
And everyone wanted a piece of the coffee cake Janie made me.
And then my neighbor Jan let me watch a movie at her house, cuddling with her dog, and she even gave the teenager and I a bag of brownie M&M’s. The teenager thought they “just tasted like M&M’s” whereas I thought if you piled enough of them in your mouth at once it was like having a mouthful of brownie batter.
Not that I’ve ever eaten a bowl of brownie batter.
Or an entire pint of ice cream with brownie bits.
And then I slept 10 hours again.
I rolled out of bed a little after 8, expecting to have the last slice of Janie’s decadent coffee cake, after all, I need the food to take my antibiotics.
But then my mom told me she was bringing sticky buns.
So I made my morning coffee and as the espresso machine started steaming, I got on the scale.
I’ve gained two pounds since I got home from the hospital.
Lunch was a business mixer with the Easton chapter of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club at Sogo Asian Fusion in the downtown.
A random young black women yelled at us from her car, “You guys look so pretty.” So I asked the teenager to take some selfies before our arrival. The teenager had just given me a haircut. I thought my hair looked untamed because of my hospital stay. I was wrong.
That random compliment from a stranger meant a lot to me as I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.
The teenager and I had the Out of Control roll, Fire Mountain (with scallops! and it really was a mountain, and it was so amazing) and a Philadelphia roll. The teenager squealed with delight and the staff at Sogo gave me the rubber-banded chopsticks because I was using a fork.
I guess the teenager will have to teach me to use chopsticks.
The remainder of my afternoon was spent cleaning, walking with my neighbor, and trying to earn the trust of our foster kittens.
And now, I’m feeling a little nauseous and I wonder if it’s because of all these penicillin-family antibiotics in my system and the fact that I had so much more water in my system in the hospital. Every time I had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics in the hospital, they increased my IV fluids. So I’m trying to drink more here at home.
And a few minutes ago, my mom texted. She got bit by a friend’s cat today.
For those who haven’t read the whole saga— I am in St. Luke’s Hospital Bethlehem/Fountain Hill because a 3-pound black kitten I am fostering managing to bite me while the teenager and I were giving her eye meds.
One of her teeth punctured my left index finger above the middle knuckle and I developed cellulitis that was spreading into my hand.
Thanks to a maceration dressing (again read the last few blog posts for details) and IV antibiotics every four hours, it seems to be calming.
Last night was not easy. Something was going on— I don’t know if it was the tropical storm or something happening with the other patients (this is the cancer floor)—and they didn’t even do basic checks on me for almost six hours.
The entire staff kept running to the other end of the floor and when the PCA did come down to this end, she apologized and ran back out again.
I was on IV meds for that time and when they came in it was business only. No chit chat.
And my needs right now are far from life threatening.
But around 7, I started to get really hot. I took my sweatshirt off and saw what I thought was the beginning of a rash.
And then I started to freak. Because I thought about the course of the day. My eyes were dry, burning and itchy most of the day. My skin had been itchy on probably 65% of my body.
I was taking an IV antibiotic from the penicillin family every 4 hours and I know I have issues with penicillin.
Was I having a reaction?
The nurse increased my fluids just in case. I have similar symptoms today.
As if that scare wasn’t enough, my dressing fell of my finger. But the nurse rewrapped it.
So I had my last bag of antibiotics at 4 am. They have no meds in the system for me today. My only meal ordered was breakfast.
It all relies on what the specialist says.
The residents turned up at 6 am. It was time for the big reveal.
The residents, “the babies” as my favorite nurse calls them, took photos to share with the doctor supervising my care. I haven’t met him.
It looks like I will be going home today.
The nurses are all amazed at how quickly “that contraption” worked. The maceration dressing works on the same concept as a hyperbaric chamber, just a lot more low tech.
My daughter brought extra dry erase markers so we could have fun with the nurses and my care team. Yes, as the a patient with cellulitis from a kitten bite I drew paw prints all over my board.
Today was my second day in the hospital at St. Luke’s Bethlehem/Fountain Hill and also the day that Tropical Storm Isaias wreaked havoc in the Lehigh Valley.
This is the only unplanned hospital stay I have ever had and will also be the longest. My other other experience in the hospital was giving birth to my daughter.
There are only two parts of this experience that I have disliked: IVs, though I have learned to ignore them, and collecting my urine so everyone can monitor my fluids.
Everyone on staff has been kind, and most downright enjoyable and intelligent. But Nurse Michelle has been my favorite.
Michelle finally arranged all my IV tubes into a double Dutch arrangement so they don’t have to keep swapping them out on my arm. She labeled everything meticulously. Attention to detail is the perfect trait for a nurse.
The hospital has lovely old architecture and picturesque views.
I started betadine soaks today. I’m tickled that such basic medicine still works well. I also feel like I’m hanging out with Marge from the Palmolive commercials.
If you look at my last few entries, you will read about the tiny, little cat bite that sent me to urgent care and then to the ER at St. Luke’s Easton Campus. I never expected what happened next,
Right away, at 6:40 or so a.m., the doctor in the emergency room explained my options. They preferred to start IV antibiotics, then transfer me to one of the larger hospitals in the network.
Which would require an ambulance.
So I asked, “Could I just go to the hospital myself?”
And he explained I could, but he would be discharging me against medical advice, and then I would start over in the other emergency room. Which might mean two separate emergency room charges. And not being monitored. And losing my spot in the triage line.
And he recommended asking for removal of the transfer charges.
Now they have drawn on me with surgical marker at this point and i can see my finger swelling and my infection spreading. Two knuckles are completely swollen and angry.
I want to get this treated ASAP. So I agreed.
I’ve seen every episode of House MD, I know infections that spread are bad.
That was an attempt at levity. I don’t think all doctors are like House.
This is only my first real hospitalization— unless you count childbirth.
Now, Easton Hospital has a long history in the small community where I live. When I moved here, Easton Hospital was still a small, independent hospital. A few years ago, the Steward Group bought it and made it a for-profit hospital.
Which, for the sake of trivia, increased the tax base in our borough.
But over the course of the last year, Steward closed down entire departments. When Covid-19 hit, Steward threatened to close the whole damn hospital if the state didn’t offer massive financial support.
In May, St. Luke’s University Health Network bought the hospital. My doctors are all affiliated with this network so when the urgent care suggested going to the emergency room, this one is about 600 steps from my house.
I didn’t know that in the transition, the hospital has not fully rebuilt its services and wasn’t equipped for my care. I would have gladly driven to the larger hospital. Oh well.
By about 10 a.m. my ER nurses have given me a second antibiotic (the urgent care had given me oral Bactrim), hand x-rays, and fluids. They also swab me for Covid as a safety precaution prior to transfer. That was squiggly. The hospital where I must go is full, so I have to wait for another patient to be discharged.
And it is the full moon.
I have my own triage room in the ER. At about 11:30, my neighbor, Sarah, comes and brings my phone charger, iPad, teddy bear and my favorite sweat shirt.
We talk, play cards, watch TV and learn that I am not allowed to eat. My hand may need surgery. The nurse apologetically offers me clear fluids but also offers me a milk. I ask for the ginger ale.
Lunch was Shasta. It was a perfectly tasty and cold Shasta that hit the spot.
The Easton squad arrives at 2:20 p.m. for my 2:30 transport. I am happy to report that my blood pressure has been good. I joke around as they strap me on, which this is really the silliest medical transport ever.
My morning routine involves feeding my menagerie, cleaning the kitchen, working with the Roomba to pick up my room. And a cup of coffee, some cockatoo cuddles, and a few rounds of Words with Friends.
This morning I retrieved some clean laundry that needs to be put away, and while I was chasing the Roomba the laundry basket fell. All my clean laundry was now unfolded on the floor.
I used it as an opportunity to pick it up one piece of laundry at a time in a wide stance squat and move into a calf raise as I piled it on my bed.
I ate super well last night, and wore work out clothes yesterday, but today I WILL work out.
While we were eating dinner, I got a text message from Stephany, our contact with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. She has kittens for us to foster! We pick them up today in about 90 minutes…
Newkittens need homes
The teenager is thrilled.
We will pick out their names and anyone that is interested in the group or adoption— because you will see soooooo many pictures— can click below for details on the organization.
Cats are fully vetted and microchipped (and socialized!) before adoption. The adoption fee is $110.
They have four feral cats right now that need barn homes and they usually like them to go in pairs so if you know anybody with a farm or any kind of situation where someone has property and would like a couple mouse catchers let them (or me) know.