Halloween 2021

As I write this, I am mourning the loss of having finished The Night Shift on Netflix. I am imbibing some generic strawberry lemonade energy drinks strongly laced with too much gin. I am craving potato chips, cuddling my cat Fog, and nursing my injuries from the day.

But perhaps I need to back up…

The photos above summarize my Halloween.

At 11 a.m., we had an appointment for Danu and her babies from the Celtic Pride— Aîné, Baile and Brigid and our newest foster, Georgie, to meet our foster cat godmother for shots, flea treatment, dewormer and microchip and OH MY GOODNESS was Georgie dramatic.

Then the teenager had a commitment to walk in the local Halloween parade and she asked me yesterday to walk with her as she paraded in costume. I will do anything my daughter asks.

And half way through the parade, I fell flat on my face to the collective gasp of the crowd. I rise, keep walking, hip and knee in pain. But I keep going.

#f*ckcerebralpalsy.

I finished the parade. Outside the teenager’s high school. Her father and herself know that the fact that I finished the parade did not mean I was okay as I have been known to do things like walk a Chinese buffet with a broken ankle.

My knee is swollen. I tripped over a mirror late in the day that struck me in the tender parts.

My back hurts.

I am craving potato chips as my body adjusts to the Mirena.

My princess, the male cat I jokingly named Fog, is curled up next to me. He is my baby.

The teenager’s dad came over and they carved pumpkins and I typed some of a manuscript for the identity anthology. We handed out candy and even the dog got to enjoy trick-or-treat.

I ordered Wawa for dinner— the teenager’s favorite ranch Mac and cheese, chicken Caesar salad and pierogie quesadilla and Blizzards from Dairy Queen for dessert.

Tomorrow the teenager is consulting a cleaning woman to take some of the stress off me.

Author chatter: Why did I launch Parisian Phoenix Publishing?

Last night, I was blessed to spend the evening with William Prystauk, author of the Kink Noir series, podcast host and reviewer of all things horror at Crash Palace Productions.

Buy Bill’s books here: William Prystauk on Amazon.

Buy my book here**: Buy Manipulations on Amazon.

Or buy my book at Barnes & Noble

Or even at Target.com

Or if it fits your values better, ask your independent bookseller to order it from Ingram.

But back to last night…

Bill and I got together for dinner and chatter— in part to celebrate the publication of Manipulations and the launch of Parisian Phoenix Publishing (working on the web site ParisianPhoenix.com and social media channels a little every day) and in part because Bill just really really really loves sushi.

Over a wonderful wide selection of sushi (including salmon roe and sea urchin, I did not partake in the urchin as it looked like radioactive cow tongue and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the salmon caviar) at Jasmine (read about our last visit there here), Bill and I started what ended up being an hours and hours long conversation about our hopes and dreams for our lives and our careers.

The conversation continued over cocktails at County Seat Spirits (Easton) and the ice cream at Ow Wow Cow, both at the Silk Mill.

The bar at County Seat Spirits

Bill and I have exchanged writing in the past and encouraged each other so I suppose he wasn’t horribly surprised when he received his copy of the book this week and opened it. But he asked a lot of good questions— why didn’t I go the traditional agent/editor/publisher route. I love that he believes in me and believes in my writing but I have shopped this manuscript.

Every few years I dust it off and send it out and every agent I have queried asks for pages. And every rejection I have gotten features personalized statement of the first 100 pages merits but how it doesn’t fit a proper genre or have the type of structure readers want.

And I know my writing can be dark, and literary from time to time. The fashion aspects are very feminine in a chick lit way but the supernatural elements are more horror than paranormal romance. My writing can be flowery, the emotions intense, but the situations can be very gritty and real.

And I don’t want to sacrifice that.

I don’t want any editor to have control over issues I discuss in my work: marriage/divorce, jealousy, domestic violence, self esteem, body image, self confidence, infertility… and those are just the first book. And I honestly hope you don’t outwardly notice these topics in the story but that they steep into your subconscious and slowly transform you like cold-brewed iced tea.

Meanwhile, as Bill and I are talking about upcoming books ( for those of you who have read Bloodletting, Punishment, and/or Debauchery— I have not only read the fourth book in the series but I also know the title of the fifth!), I am receiving texts and Facebook posts from people who have received their copies. And poor Gayle is left working on the poppet that will adorn the cover of the sequel to Manipulations, Courting Apparitions.

Courting Apparitions is a ghost story that examines the effect grief and depression has on our lives.

** $1 of every print copy of Manipulations sold goes to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Friday Logistics Fascination and a stop at The Spot

This post is dedicated to my work friend Barb who starts her new job on Monday. I miss her, but I am so grateful to have met her that I can only wish her well and be proud of her.

Today was a pretty great day.

Well, it’s 10 minutes after midnight so I guess yesterday was a great day.

We were supposed to host three dogs this weekend, Buddy the super lovable white dog next door; Sobaka, the “Morkie” or Maltese Yorkie from across the street; and of course, Bean, our own big black mutt.

Sobaka arrived at 9, with the teenager getting her settled and then the teen returned to bed. I woke to a text message that Buddy would not be joining us after all, as his owner decided to bring him to Maine with her at the last minute.

We are very disappointed as Buddy is the dog medium enough to be a good companion for Sobaka.

The teenager has a pet sitting gig starting tomorrow (I mean in a few hours— I keep forgetting it’s the middle of the night). She will be sleeping at the home of another crazy cat lady… I mean fellow FURR foster mom.

The teenager will be watching two dogs, one very elderly; one small parrot, two personal cats and probably a dozen kittens. And a series of gardens.

It was another super flipping hot day, so I was glad I decided to bake the teenager’s “first day of summer” applesauce cake after work last night.

And I went to work today with no pain in my body!

Speaking of the Bizzy Hizzy, Stitch Fix offered us voluntary time off tonight if we reached our weekly shipping goal. We would be allowed to work a half day. So we got the job done in 3.5 hours and did a little extra.

Conveyor to OB1

I was style carding tonight— I still haven’t asked my supervisors how I’m doing. I’ve been enjoying it and it’s probably the least physically abusive work center I’ve learned.

I’ve been at Stitch Fix nine months, and my fascination with our warehouse logistics grows more with every new station I learn.

It’s hard to believe I’ll get another raise in three months.

But here’s my philosophical thought: Nothing creates a sense of deep teamwork better than people who all understand each other’s jobs and work together to achieve a mutually beneficial goal. It’s not enough to agree to a corporate goal or non profit mission. We may all have low-skill light-warehousing jobs but we all wanted to get the heck out of that hot building.

I compare my experience here with a previous (or several previous) employer(s):

  • At Stitch Fix, my bosses don’t punish, guilt trip or manipulate me regarding time off.
  • At Stitch Fix (and also at Target), they provide the training and the safety guidelines and trust us to work autonomously.
  • At Stitch Fix, I bring home the same amount in my paycheck as when I worked higher stress jobs.

I feel like on nights like this, our understanding of how the numbers work and also how we all normally perform allow us to know how attainable these goals are. And that’s exciting in a “we can do this” way.

Is the job perfect? No. I’m perfectly aware that I am a cog in a very big wheel and sweating my ass off folding clothes or putting papers in envelopes.

But I have had some awful bosses. It’s sad how bad managers can be not only blind to their own flaws but assume weaknesses in others where they don’t exist.

This is a topic I could write a book about.

ANYWAY.

Through most of this literally painless half-day, I listened to the Marc Blucas interview on the podcast Meeting Tom Cruise. He was Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s boyfriend Riley Finn. I hope to do a full review of it.

And the we finally stopped at The Spot for ice cream. The teenager drove me to work so I bought her a banana milkshake and I had a root beer float. Next time I want salted caramel soft serve with Reese’s peanut butter cups. The soft serve was delightful, the menu varied, and the prices cheap. Only downfall was the multitude of styrofoam.

Upon arriving home (after stopping to get my business cards from Gayle and I had to give her an A6 envelope box I commissioned her to doodle), we walked the dogs, ate some leftovers and watched an episode of Buffy (Doomed if you are curious).

I was cracking up on the walk because Sobaka liked to lead the pack. Well, Bean would speed up to join her because she didn’t want to be left behind. She wanted to walk side by side with Baktilda. (Yes, these are all nicknames for Sobaka.)

So then Sobaka would walk faster, but Baki has tiny legs. Bean would just keep matching her pace without breaking her stride. Baki was like the horse trainer who guides the horse around the ring and sets the pace.

Finally, the real miracle of the night— Louise is sharing her space with the dog. My bed no less! Is she making progress or can she not figure out what kind of animal Sobaka is?

Public relations and mini adventures

The last two days I have been hectic busy. But, yesterday, despite my activities and the sporadic heavy rain, I still walked about 9,400 steps.

Go, me!

Oz the Regal (random cat photo)

I started my day with a video chat with my fellow volunteers at Aspire to Autonomy, Inc. This anti-human trafficking organization helps connect underserved populations with services, while educating about human trafficking and looking for trafficking victims. It then helps victims rebuild their lives and get whatever help they need to reach autonomy.

They are also currently hosting monthly “Feed Northampton County” pandemic response food distributions at the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley and in the West Ward of Easton. Using a pop-up food pantry model, Aspire and their network of ambassadors distribute food, masks and hand sanitizer.

The organization works with interns from Kutztown University’s Master’s of Social Work program. Currently I am working closely with Sarah, who has embraced the idea of learning more about public relations and how it can benefit her in promoting her future activities in her career.

Sarah and I were scheduled to have a video chat to strategize pitching the press release she had written the day before on a training session she and two other interns—Kayla and Sam—are facilitating next week on Pennsylvania’s Act 197. (More on that in a few paragraphs.)

Kayla and organization co-founder Darnell (and my supervisor) joined us to catch up on the list of activities we have going on right now.

I left the meeting energized and started pitching to my end of the media list, while Sarah handled the others. This morning, we noticed that The Valley Ledger had already posted our material. Thank you to them!

To read more about our upcoming training (please come!), click here: Act 197 training .

I hopped from there to a meeting for the fundraising committee of Mary Meuser Memorial Library. We had to cancel our annual book fair, due to Covid-19, and met to discuss future possibilities for fundraising. I floated what I felt was a good idea to use key space in the library (and facing a major thoroughfare) to promote local businesses. The committee like the idea and I am to prepare a proposal.

And the teenager made arrangements with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab (FURR) to get our kittens fixed next week.

Fog, my office companion

The rest of the afternoon is a blur. But I know I helped with some correspondence for Aspire and pursued some networking opportunities on behalf of the group. I also asked my peers at the organization about an idea I had to promote the enforcement of Act 197 via a social media campaign.

Last night, I visited with my neighbors, watched Golden Girls with the teenager, went for a walk with “my other half,” Buddy’s mom who lives in the other side of my house, cuddled with my cockatoo and watched Indian Matchmaking on Netflix.

This morning somehow I slept until 8:30. And my email alerted me that it was National Drive Thru Day. I wrote a corporate sponsorship letter for Aspire and submitted it to the founders for review. Then, the teenager borrowed Buddy and we went to gather up cheap eats at the drive thru.

First I stopped at Dunkin as I still have more than $30 on my Dunkin gift card. They were offering 100 points on any purchase. I cashed in the free beverage I had on my card and bought the teenager hash browns. Then we stopped at McDonald’s as they were offering a free medium fry with any $1 purchase.

I bought her a $1 large Diet Coke and they kept offering me a $1 McChicken. The teenager told me to get it, so I did, but I had them make one without mayo and with lots of pickles.

There is still much work to be done in coming days as Aspire has several major happenings next week, but it’s exciting that between Aspire and the library board I have the opportunity to freely share my ideas and work to move both agencies forward.

Urban Landscape Wooded Escape

Today, the teenager took Gayle and I to the lower end of her special creek. It’s the next journey as part of our virtual El Camino pilgrimage meant to foster spiritual growth and motivate our out-of-shape butts toward better fitness.

The teenager “slopped” in the creek (I think that’s the official Pennsylvania Dutch term for it) and mined for spiritual rocks.

The water was crystal clear even though the setting was marred with litter and debris. Birds sang gleefully as the highway noise competed for attention.

When we returned to my house, about 7,000 steps later, Gayle—the agnostic in our group— lamented that she’s never had a spiritual experience while walking, no breakthrough movements or epiphanies. I suggested that life didn’t work that way, at least not for me. My own personal truth comes in increments.

Then we turned the discussion to fitness and trying to stay motivated to be more active. We both said we’re bad at doing anything on our own.

And then we heard the ice cream truck. The teenager raced for the door as Gayle and I raced for our wallets.

That sure motivated us.

The Tony’s ice cream truck in pink and white has multiple things I need to try.

Somehow, the ice cream truck made me feel alive. Laughing with my daughter over the crazy flavors in the sour patch kid ice cream. Standing in the street, fully enjoying the urban summer experience.

Laughter abounding.

Drumstick Blizzard

This is a review of the new drumstick blizzard.

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.

In reality…

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.

Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community ProJeCt 2020

On Saturday morning, the teenager and I went down to Easton cemetery to support the Palmer Kiwanis team as they participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to support my employer, ProJeCt of Easton.

For more on that adventure, click here: Cruising the Cemetary with the Palmer Kiwanis

Today, I took a slightly elongated lunch break to take my team to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. We started at the Silk Mill.

Me and My Team
Me, Buddy Eddy (dog of Team Member Sarah), the teenager and my good friend Gayle who writes a blog Fat Girl Walking

We headed down the trail and enjoyed the various art, the breezy trail, and the picturesque creek —all on the way to the dog park.

And then to end the outing, we let Buddy play and we got ice cream at Ow Wow Cow.

To register a team or donate to my team: Highmark Walk

For Gayle’s blog entry visit: Fat Girl Walking

Our previous visit to the arts trail: A walk on the Arts Trail

Just another Saturday

I woke up this morning worried about things I can’t control, and to a cat coughing up a hairball somewhere in the darkness of my room. It was 4 a.m. and to get myself back to sleep, I keep imagining a cleansing white light.

I imagined the white light getting brighter and brighter. It filled my house, came up my stairs and saturated my room. It brought me calm and helped me get to sleep.

I finally gave up on sleep around 7 a.m. but laid in bed until 7:30. I got up, fed the cats, started a load of laundry and cared for the birds.

Then I finished the first season of Hell’s Kitchen while folding clean laundry and hanging wet wash.

I had a piece of toast, put dishes away, washed the pots and pans, and scrubbed the kitchen counter (even the trivet and the toaster— have to periodically get those crumbs out of the toaster.)

And I found what could be very handy if COVID-19 ends up in my neighborhood: a bottle of Hibiclens the doctor told the teenager to use in the shower before her surgery in November.

My college professor neighbor and I had coffee on her porch, while I was clad in my African dress that I bought in Djibouti for my trip to Somalia.

I vacuumed the sun porch. Did some necessary paperwork. Gave Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, a shower. Scrubbed the tub, but not as well as I would have liked.

But I didn’t strip my bed or play with my new make up.

This evening my other neighbor took us to dinner at La Bella’s as a thank you for watching her dog.

Amazing Bread

The teenager decided to compliment our server every time she came to the table. I had chicken penne vodka. The child had seafood spaghetti vodka. The portions were ginormous and the seafood seemed good. I’m not a seafood fan.

See those bumpy calamari?

I think I’ll have enough leftovers for TWO lunches. As with the teen. And my neighbor. And then my neighbor took us to Owwowcow for ice cream. I got cinnamon bourbon.

The food was scrumptious but made me sad because I’m still having mild dental issues. My neighbor is looking at a root canal so we’re a good pair.

And now we’re home. Roomba is vacuuming my bedroom.

The teen is trying cone incense for the first time. She tried to pick natural varieties that wouldn’t burn my eyes and sinuses. She asked me what to burn, so we went for the cleansing sandalwood— vanilla sandalwood to be exact.

I used to use sandalwood soap to bathe before I practiced rituals and vanilla is a very pure, comforting flavor and scent to me.

I asked the teen, who now has her own altar with her own selected candles on it, why do you burn incense?

She answered, “because it clears my sinuses and helps me focus.”

Good girl, I thought.

Leopold Ice Cream And Soda Fountain, Savannah, Georgia

I ate my way up and down the East Coast. I don’t have a bucket list of things to do, mine contains things to eat.

We were meandering through downtown Savannah and the morning was hot and I was hungry.

I’m always hungry.

In the vicinity of Savannah College of Art and Design, I noticed this ice cream shop and soda fountain.

Leopold’s.

It didn’t open until 11, and it was 10:45. People were lining up outside.

By the time we ate our ice cream, the line was out the door and every table was full.