Things that make me happy… I must be old

So someone I know, who shall remain nameless unless she outs herself, tagged me in this Facebook post:

She invited me to consider it, which I would if it weren’t two hours every Friday for six weeks.

Speaking of falls, the teenager asked for some bathroom toiletry storage devices so I bought these:

The wall-mounted shelf is ridiculously sturdy. All came from Target.com.

I “treated” myself to some grip-circles to reduce the likelihood of falling. And they are pretty.

The sight of everything organized made me happy. As did dinner.

Dinner was Banza chickpea rotini with Hungryroot Alfredo sauce, fresh spinach, my homemade roasted tomatoes from the farm and chicken bruschetta burgers broken into “meatballs.”

Things that frazzle the mind in my forties

**this post may contain strong language… no, this post will contain strong language. I plan to drop an “f-bomb” in the first paragraph. But I promise it will be lighthearted and humorous not vulgar and full of rage.

Sometimes I wonder if the process of losing your mother-fucking mind which seems to descend upon a person once your children enter their teens isn’t the cause of dementia. Will the brain fog that accompanies keeping life together as the offspring prepare to leave the nest clear as they depart? Or is it permanent?

I think when you reach the latter half of the forty-somethings, the time you might have spent on hobbies, movies or parties in your youth is replaced by the tedium of home ownership, career, family, parents and medical care (your own, your family, probably even friends). And maybe you just don’t have the patience you used to.

I am currently waiting for the remediation team. If you skip back to Tuesday’s blog, you’ll recall that my 50- or 60-year-old toilet exploded and damaged my dining room ceiling. The plumber came Tuesday and installed a new toilet, and the teenager gave me shit. Not only does she not like the new toilet (as the plumber warned me) but she also had beef with the plumber for taking her old toilet.

I asked the teenager, “what on earth would you do with an old broken toilet?”

And, of course, the teenager told me. She wanted to take the ancient pink ceramic toilet and use it as a planter in our front yard next to our pink rose bush.

“It would look so cool,” she said.

And it probably would. But I did not go to college and embark on all the adventures I have to place a broken toilet in my front yard.

The scheduler for the insurance adjuster called Wednesday morning, about 29 hours after the incident, and scheduled the adjuster for Wednesday June 1. I asked the teenager if she could handle letting him into the house. She agreed. The scheduler called again and moved it to Tuesday. Teenager agreed again. Scheduler called a third time to ask if we had had a remediation company come to check if we had any or were in danger of collecting any mold. I said no. She said to call one.

So Wednesday on my lunch break (my first day back after a month of medical leave), I emailed ServePro because I didn’t have the time or the quiet to talk on the phone. They called, and after about three difficult phone calls with them, (the person on the other end couldn’t hear me well. I was wearing a mask, using one AirPod and working in a noisy warehouse.) they said they would confirm an appointment for Thursday or Friday by the end of the day.

[note: this is a pause in the blog post as the remediation team arrived.]

The remediation scheduler called about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, which was about 60 hours after I turned the water off to the toilet and started mopping up the damage. My appointment was for 1 p.m. Friday, about 80 hours after the original accident.

But at least I made myself a nice dinner of fig & ricotta ravioli from Lidl with Alfredo sauce from Hungryroot and vegetables (baby broccoli, red pepper, and peas) cooked in the Cuisinart air fryer toaster oven.

Last night, when the teenager got home from her dad’s, I think I was emptying the dishwasher and I went on a psychotic rant about silverware. You see, when her father and I got married, we registered for Oneida’s Easton flatware in the satin finish. I have always loved that silverware. It was $100 a place setting, and that was in 1999. That’s $20 per utensil. But it’s beautiful, and my husband and I both agreed on it without compromise, and it’s heavy, and we lived in an apartment in downtown Easton, Pennsylvania.

Oneida flatware pattern: Easton (Satin)

And sometime between when teenager two lived with us and now, many pieces of that silverware have disappeared. And it’s melodramatic, but the loss is like a gaping wound. No other silverware feels right in my hand. So I snapped, for the umpteenth time, and shouted at the teenager about my missing silverware.

In that moment, I realized that for some reason, that silverware really means something to me. Eating with it brings me joy. And that silverware looks as new as the day we bought it. Our marriage lasted 20 years, and the silverware may last generations.

“I don’t have the money to replace it,” I screamed.

And then I realized…

I launched a publishing company. I buy myself iced coffee about once a week. I spend almost as much on animal food as I do on people food. So, why can’t I figure out how to pay for new silverware? Especially since I know Replacements.com has just about every silverware and china pattern ever made (used) at a discount. I think I found my dream pattern. I ordered a few pieces of my silverware, based on cost and what I actually need.

This morning started with a cup of coffee, some cuddly cats, a trip to the chiropractor and a whole lot of cleaning before the remediation team arrived. I made the teenager and I a breakfast of fresh baguette from Lidl, toasted in the Cuisinart oven, buttered, covered a slice of proscuitto and toasted more, and then drizzled with hot honey and sprinkled with herbs de provence. It was as amazing as it sounds.

The teenager had her last high school final exam, the only one she had to take this year, and returned home to find me aflutter with the broom and a mop. I asked her to do something for me. It might have been to move a multipack of paper towels to another room, when she stopped and opened the sunporch window.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

And I thought to myself, she’s not smelling the roses.

And she replied, “I’m smelling the roses.”

“Seriously?” I said. “I ask you to do something and instead you literally stop to smell the roses!”

She then picked a bouquet for the main room downstairs. Eventually, she moved the paper towels.

Once the house was cleaned and the teenager shuffled off to work, I finished Natasha Sizlo’s memoir, All Signs Point to Paris. I received a copy via NetGalley and reviewed it on Goodreads and mentioned it in my Parisian Phoenix blog post that will go live tomorrow. I tried to start P.N. Dedeaux’s Algiers Tomorrow but it offended me beyond rebuke within the first two chapters.

I understand that the book was published in 1993. I also understand that erotica by its nature breaks rules and can feature taboos. But in the first two chapters, we join two bratty rich sixteen year olds nicknamed “Boobs” and “Butt” through a vacation in France. By the end of the chapters, I want them to get murdered. I was hoping for some cheesy references to Algerians with which I could have some Mystery Science Theater 3000-type fun.

chicken vodka pizza

I ordered a chicken pizza with vodka sauce from Nicolosi’s Pizza in Forks Township. It was a custom pizza and I told them to “put whatever on it to make it pizza-y.” They added fresh basil. It smelled amazing. The teenager was picking it up at 2:45 p.m after work.

And don’t you know it, the remediation team was late… They called at 2:55 p.m. and arrived at 3:05 p.m. I had one bite of my scrumptious, piping hot custom pizza. And it was time to find out if my house was wet.

Unfortunately, it is.

We could lose our bathroom subfloor. Our hardwood floors and walls are damp. We have five industrial air movers in the living area and a massive dehumidifier. And upstairs we have three more air movers in the bathroom and another dehumidifier.

But we’re safe, and sometimes you just have to have faith it will work out.

At the end of the day, Bean Dog got new toys.

Zigzag: Random thoughts about exercise, food and friends

Yesterday before the teenager and I took our impromptu trip to Hershey to visit with Curly, I had the good fortune to have a coffee date with a neighbor who has proven herself time and time again as a reliable friend.

We met while pregnant, due dates a week apart, homes a few blocks apart, and with jobs in the same town in the next state. Even though we lived less than a block apart for most of the teenager’s life (and the fact that her son and my daughter have first names that are one letter apart and family names that are very similar and fall alphabetically beside each other), she and I have not kept in touch the greatest— but somehow— when I need her, she seems to be there.

She even worked for me for about six months when I needed a staff member that could act without much hand-holding and understood my working style. The partnership renewed our connection— and the employer recently asked her to return to the organization and she politely declined.

We had the chance to discuss these things over “coffee” at the diner where the teen used to waitress. But the day was rainy and we both wanted soup instead of coffee, so we had our mom therapy session over bowls of pepper pot.

We talked about the teenagers’ post-high school plans, the value and frustration of college, our health, medical insurance in America, and how hard it must be to be a teen in today’s world.

I mention this as a reminder of how sometimes, sharing a moment can bring laughter and release.

Our latest Hungryroot box came, and I realized for the first times in all these months of Hungryroot that the reusable nitrogen ice packs are plant food. Now I can’t wait to pour that on our compost heap.

Speaking of food subscription services, my breakfast today was Cabot cottage cheese from Grocery Outlet and a sprouted multigrain everything bagel and garlic herb probiotic cream cheese from Hungryroot.

My lunch was leftover cauliflower linguine and one meatball from Hungryroot, basil tomato sauce from ShopRite and a pile of plain lentils I made.

Turns out lentils are a great way to add plant protein to spaghetti.

And finally, my session at Apex Training today was not easy— but I did it. We did a lot of sweat-inducing balance exercises. I have been having issues with stiffness since I left work and my walk has been unstable. This morning my right leg felt off. So I told Andrew and together we thought it might be super tight. Well, by the time I left, my right leg and back were screaming.

But after a shower and an NSAID to make sure nothing is inflamed, at least I don’t feel like a pile of grinding gears needing oil.

The ordinary adventures

So, if you’re a friend of mine or a regular here, you know that I have asked my employer, Stitch Fix, for a short-term disability/ FMLA leave to deal with my ruptured tendon (mallet or baseball finger) and its impact on my right hip.

This means I’ve made a commitment to work with my family doctor, my chiropractor (Nicole Jensen at Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center) and Andrew, my personal trainer at Apex Training.

And to keep my hands warm and not use my finger.

Yesterday, I saw Nicole and we discussed the state of my body and the trade-off I seem to be making— working in the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse keeps me active but causes pain, but not being in a physical job makes me stiff and makes it difficult to move, even when I take the same amount of steps I do at work.

Andrew and I are working on strength, mobility, stability and range of motion.

I had lunch with my mother yesterday, who upon her return home had her dog pass away.

In the afternoon, I spoke with my disability claims examiner and gathered paperwork for her. My eligibility confirmation came through this morning, and I think the actual leave is just a matter of paperwork now.

But paperwork sure is sucking the life out of me right now.

So this morning when the weather looked sunny and conducive to a perfect spring day, Nan and I decided to surprise the teenager and retrieve her hearing aids from the ear doctor. Then, we could grab some cold beverages and visit Bethlehem’s Monocacy Park.

The park is quiet, easy to navigate and has a creek. The birds, geese and fishermen would offer entertainment for Nan, as between the water and the animals there would be nature to hear as well as see.

It was a fantastic way to bring some stress-free moments into running errands.

After a modified upper body workout with Andrew, Joan stopped by and brought me an early birthday gift from the residents of Plastiqueville.

A hat!!!!

The hat was not for me but for my mallet finger.

And for dinner, the teenager made Hungryroot meatballs and cauliflower linguine. We used ShopRite tomato and basil pasta sauce. It turned out so lovely I had to make a slice of butter bread to sop up the sauce.

Small pleasures.

Food (like homemade boba tea) and rest on the first official day of recovery

Today was a day of recovery. I literally fell on my ass yesterday and have a sore bottom today in addition to my mallet finger and hip pain.

My boss sent me an email acknowledging that I should be on leave at least through May 24. I am going to maintain good sleep habits, drink lots of water, eat all the fruits and vegetables, and with the help of my medical team and personal trainer Andrew at Apex Training, hopefully not only recover but improve.

Emotionally it’s hard not to guilt myself for not finding a way to continue working, but the two falls I’ve had in the last four days prove that I am doing the right thing. My boss was even kind enough to say that he knows this has been a “roller coaster for me.” I am grateful to have such kind coworkers from my second shift team at the Bizzy Hizzy.

I watched some of the teenager’s favorite anime, Haikyu!. And I gave the birds new toys.

But it was a nice eating day so I will share with you.

Breakfast was a cup of Supercoffee, a bowl of Cabot cottage cheese and a taste-test of sesame mochi that I bought at 9th Street Asian Market last night on our outing to Stroudsburg. It turned out to be exactly the food I have been trying to identify for years.

I even made a silly video.

Then for a late morning snack I cooked some tapioca for boba (also a purchase from last night that I have never had the opportunity to play with before.) The teenager got two flavors of the popping bubbles— kiwi and honey. And I also bought a can of melon flavored sweetened condensed milk.

I boiled the black tapioca pearls per the directions and added my own home brewed unsweetened iced tea, some milk and ice to a wide mouthed mason jar. Then I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of the honey popping bubbles and a teaspoon of the melon milk. The melon milk is amazing. Finally I stirred in the pearls.

I was very happy with my first attempt.

The teenager made some crusted salmon to go with leftover rice and Thai peanut salad. That was our late lunch.

And after a quick run to the Dollar Tree and Grocery Outlet, (I needed a pill organizer to remind me to take my vitamins and allergy medicine now that I won’t be tossing them in my work lunches) I mixed some of my homemade roasted red pepper hummus with harissa and Hungryroot’s “fresh salsa” which is more like diced tomatoes, onions and peppers, to enjoy with a massive glass of unsweetened iced tea and PF Pita Chips, also a Grocery Outlet find.

It certainly wasn’t an exciting day, but it was a restful day and sometimes that is the best place to start on the road to recuperation.

Meal planning without grocery shopping

I’m scheduled to return to work tomorrow which is especially awkward since my specialist gave me a return-to-work note for my mallet finger but has not filled out any of the paperwork my employer requested. Even though I paid for it and gave it to them Tuesday at 10 a.m.

I have this irrational fear of bending my finger accidentally now that the hand rehab/ occupational therapists and the specialist have warned me that one bend at the knuckle could restart my healing process from day one.

So instead of getting the “Sunday scaries” on Saturday as I fear going back to work, I decided to use that nervous energy to meal prep.

Usually I have things I want or need to make when I undertake my meal prep— typically lunch for my four work days and some planning or preparing of dinners.

I didn’t do any grocery shopping this week nor do I get a Hungryroot box, so the goal was to recycle leftovers and see if we had enough food to survive.

I didn’t have a plan per se… I did know I had taco meat, baked beans, turkey hot dogs and mac and cheese leftovers. I also knew I had an unopened container of Hungryroot’s cashew cheddar sauce. And that the teenager really wanted me to make plain white rice. And while we were doing push up at the gym, we decided to make a puttanesca-style sauce with vegan chorizo and olives.

Today’s session ended up having 12 steps.

Step One: Nancy had given me one of her Tupperware pitcher and I thought rather than shove it into my very cluttered cupboard, I would brew some Earl Grey tea and add some honey granules to make a wicked iced tea.

Step Two: while waiting for the water to boil, I put 1.5 cups white rice and 3 cups water on the stove to boil.

Step Three: I gathered leftovers, ingredients, sauces and dishes and piled them on the counter.

Step Four: Started water to boil for pasta.

Step Five: while all that water comes to a boil, (except I think the teapot was already done at this point and I had tea steeping in a giant novelty mug) I transformed leftovers into work lunches.

Leftover Korean barbecue chicken and veggies was placed into the work lunch pile as is. added hot dogs to the beans and the Amy’s Organic skillet mac and cheese that I had also added riced broccoli to. I added some spicy kimchi to the taco meat (which I had originally prepared with black beans and peppers) and Hungryroot’s green Chile sauce, which I also added rice to when it was done.

I organized them in the fridge with the oldest (and least processed) leftovers going to work with my tomorrow.

Step Six: start spaghetti

Step Seven: cook vegan chorizo in extra virgin olive oil with some scallions I found in the back of the fridge, green olives and roasted red peppers. When that’s cooked, add tomato sauce and that will be the topping for the spaghetti.

Step Eight: cook a couple chicken breasts from the freezer with smoked paprika and garlic powder. Spread some rice into a casserole dish. Liberally add parsley and pour on the cashew cheddar.

Step Nine: dig out a vegetable from the freezer— in this case garlic seasoned cauliflower. The chicken and the cauliflower will go into the rice/cashew cheddar mix to make a chicken-rice casserole that we’ll probably warm in the oven Monday night.

Step Ten: assemble pasta.

Step eleven: assemble vitamins and realize you only have four days of allergy medicine left.

Step twelve: have a late lunch with the teenager and pack up the leftovers.

Joy, pain and food

First some recent food:

From Hungryroot.

I have been saving these for a night when I needed a quick dinner. It’s been a challenging week at the Bizzy Hizzy. So I’m glad I had them. The teenager and I both enjoyed them. and this multigrain flat buns are one of my favorites.

Sunday I made this:

The teenager made the meatballs out of ground bison, also from Hungryroot. The tomato sauce was Classico Italian Sausage with peppers and onions and I sautéed everything with some fresh green peppers, Brussel sprouts and sliced green olives. It was amazing. Both served with small shells and also with melted cheese as a sandwich.

The other night, the teenager and I watched Black Panther, which will be discussed in a later post. I tried this popcorn that I got at Lidl for 79 cents.

Chesapeake Bay Style popcorn. Very highly seasoned and nasty. I threw the whole bag out after trying it.

And I never waste food.

But this week has been hard— my body has been hurting in ways I’m not accustomed to. And that’s hard physically and emotionally.

Sunday I worked a decent shift at work but we left early— at 2:15 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.!

But yesterday I was moved from my normal spot on line 5 to the spot behind the shipper/style carder on line 1. It was a poorly set up table that required moving three steps from the table to the line, and then one had to rearrange the boxes to make room.

And the person receiving the boxes rejected many for no good reason AND worked so slow the line was always jammed. Finished the day in pain and at 80% of metrics.

But I got to style card too and that was fun.

Today I was back on my line, but my computer was lagging. Finished the day at 80% again.

And in pain.

I cried myself to sleep last night. Hopefully tonight will be better.

My cat Fog

Saturday morning— gym, meal plan & prep

The teenager and I headed to the gym this morning for the first time in a while. I did a gentle lower body workout to stretch everything and get my body rolling after the chiropractic adjusted just about everything yesterday. Even my ears.

The teenager wanted to find her max weights for powerlifting— which seem to be 100 pounds on bench and at least 155 on squats.

Tomorrow I head back to work after a weekend of falls and rest.

So that means meal planning and meal prep.

Our Hungryroot box came yesterday and since the app showed they didn’t have much product, I focused our box on mostly proteins.

With leftovers from last week’s box, the new box and pantry items I had in the house, I made this:

  • Chickpea rotini and beef meatballs with marinara and superfood tomato sauce.
  • Lemon pesto broccoli
  • Homemade pesto hummus
  • Omelet (with green olives)
  • Tempeh bacon
  • Brown bread

We also have leftover pizza and pancakes.

So for breakfast after the gym, the teenager had omelet with mozzarella and tempeh bacon on organic, sprouted everything bagels. I went vegan and had my bagel with my hummus and tempeh bacon.

And last night, the teenager and I went to my stepmom’s for Christmas and I got my hand bag. I have been admiring this Urban Expressions work tote since I started at Stitch Fix. I have one now.

Hungryroot meal prep for week ahead

On Saturdays, I tend to make my work lunches and make a loose meal plan for the week ahead.

I ordered an extra Hungryroot box after the snafu of last week’s shipment as we have almost eaten everything in the pantry and freezer.

And since I have heard there is mandatory overtime this week and I have already signed up to work next Saturday, I ordered a box to be delivered this coming Friday.

I have a $15 credit currently on my account and should see an additional $87 credit hopefully Monday.

Meal prep with Hungryroot groceries: superfood blend, salmon, kohlrabi noodles, beef meatballs, turkey meatballs and tortellini

I put most of the teenager’s food into one big divided container so she can design lunches.

For myself:

  1. one lunch of kohlrabi noodles with marinara, shredded parmesan, nutritional yeast, two beef meatballs and two turkey meatballs
  2. one lunch of kohlrabi noodles with thai peanut sauce, superfood blend, and broccoli
  3. one lunch of teriyaki salmon, superfood blend, sesame ginger sauce and sesame seeds
  4. One lunch of tortellini in kale pesto with shaved Brussel sprouts

Dinners will include nachos or tacos with chicken, cuban beans and avocado. Another of burgers, sweet potato fries and my “popcorn” cauliflower, and some sort of stir fry or grain bowl with the remaining brussels and/or cabbage, one of the leftover sauces and tofu burgers.

But by the time I made everything, I forgot to save a meal for today. So the teenager and I tried Hungryroot organic peanut butter on her homemade cinnamon raisin bread with a side of the dark chocolate banana bites also sent by Hungryroot.

Her assessment of the peanut butter: “I don’t hate the peanut butter.”

The bites?

“These don’t taste like banana.”

I looked at the package. “That’s because they are salted caramel chocolate cashews.”

The verdict?

Teenager very much likes the cashews and doesn’t mind the bananas, though the cashews are infinitely better.

Rebuilding

My blog entry Monday focused heavily on the decline of my mental and physical health— and how I attributed that decline to the death of my father on December 15 (three weeks ago today) and the stress that has put upon me, my family, and my routine. I also think I may have had a bout with Omicron pre-Christmas which may be part of why my body cannot seem to get appropriate physical rest.

I shared these things because these tribulations are key for the story arc; success and overcoming mean nothing without context.

And if you are someone fighting with similar discombobulation, you might find comfort in my words.

That post is here.

The last few days the pain in my spine has been increasing and my control over my legs is lessening. To walk requires more concentration and effort than I am used to. According to my iPhone, my walking symmetry was a mess yesterday morning. And now today, as temperatures plummet, my right knee has shooting pain.

I am guessing— and purely guessing— that my stress level is exacerbating the spasticity in my lower limbs making legs that can’t relax even more tense.

I haven’t been eating right, and with the lack of good food, I don’t take my vitamins. And when I do eat enough to take my vitamins… Well, I may have eaten half a Hawaiian Luau deep dish pizza from Little Caesar’s.

I cried with my psychologist yesterday in a long-awaited therapy session where he had to recount to me all my strengths while simultaneously making me laugh.

But this gave me the courage to call out sick from work today, sleep in and start the day with my Yoga cobra pose physical therapy sessions (and then take a much needed shower).

In waking up slowly, I had the opportunity to gently force my lower limbs into motion. Walking feels a little more natural.

I had a chiropractor appointment scheduled for Friday and they literally just called today to see if I’d rather come in today. They say it is due to the threat of inclement weather but I think they read my mind.

My last chiropractor appointment was at least two weeks ago, because of the holidays, and I wonder if something might be pressing on a nerve since my right quad is burning again.

And still no work from the physiatrist about securing an appointment or the neurologist about whether my insurance will allow my CT scan.

In other news, Hungryroot gave me a $96 credit for the box that arrived late, less than cold and covered with chemical goo. I didn’t anticipate an issue with them and I had already gone ahead and ordered a new box which arrives tomorrow.

My timid tripod foster cat Louise still insists on cuddling me whenever I am in or on my bed. This upsets foster cat Khloe who likes to believe she is my favorite.

And the dog, F. Bean Barker, ate some more of my furniture.

And I’m starting to think my cat fostering peer might be the only one keeping up with my Fashion and Fiends series as she posted a review on Amazon recently.

The teenager submitted a photo of her and her grandfather for the high school yearbook baby photos. This photo was taken at the West End Fair where my dad was participating in a tractor pull. It was the first major outing I undertook with the baby by myself.

Nan will be coming over soon so we can do some more work on Not an Able Bodied White Man with Money. Which we will do over turkey bacon and omelets.

Let’s hope the next few days bring my body and my mind some relief.