Heartstrings and hip pain

The start of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago brought an end to a couple toxic situations in my life, and led to many new experiences that were both rewarding and frustrating.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may remember teenager #2, a friend of my teenager who needed a place to stay. Teenager #2 and her cats stayed for about nine months, with minimal support or contact from her parents.

Teenager #2 turned 19 last week, and I don’t know if she’d expect me to remember or not, because I haven’t heard from her since she moved out. And left a very trashed bedroom behind. And her cats taught my cats bad habits we are still trying to break.

I’ve heard rumors that she’s expecting her own baby now.

It’s also been about five weeks since my mother contacted me. Though she will probably read this later and text me nasty messages.

And my dad is three-and-a-half months gone now, and it leaves me wondering how people can be there one second and just… poof… gone.

But I’m not trying to elicit pity, I’m merely stating some of the thoughts in my brain to say that my emotions are already on edge.

So, a couple weeks ago we (the teenager and I) received a text message that our former foster Extra Crunchy was being returned to the rescue because a new baby was allergic.

This broke my heart.

But the family never showed up. They turned up unannounced at the FURR adoption event yesterday and returned him on his first birthday.

Readers, I think I am losing my stomach for rescue work.

Extra Crunchy was one of two kittens who survived a bout with distemper last spring. Feline distemper is a very fatal and preventable disease. FURR received a call that someone had three cats, two female and one male, neither fixed nor vaccinated. The two females each gave birth to a litter of kittens. But everyone contracted distemper. And the adults died.

So they called FURR, and FURR took in these ten dying and starved kittens who had never even had the chance to nurse from a mother.

My daughter asked if she could foster these babies, and our cat foster godmother said yes, but that we had to be prepared for them to die.

So my daughter started syringe feeding them. On the day she took over their care, two died right away. And it seemed like every day another would die, usually in the teenager’s arms.

We gave them ridiculous names because they weren’t going to live. Rufus. The Magician (he would just randomly teleport from one end of the playpen to the other). Spunky. Parker (which was actually Parkour because he climbed everything).

And Extra Crunchy. Because he was covered in formula, cat food and feces. After all, no one had taught him how to groom and no one had groomed him.

Extra Crunchy Kitten.

Extra Crunchy being syringe fed by the teenager

Extra Crunchy and Parker survived. They beat the odds. Like I did. My mother named me Angel because I was supposed to die.

So it hurts to see his adoptive family reject him, but they did the right thing by returning him to us.

YouTube Playlist for all the distemper kittens (trigger warning: some of these videos may reference or feature death.)

Extra Crunchy is currently at Chaar Pet Store in Forks Township.

On Friday, the teenager plans to bring him home for a bath and grooming before Saturday’s adoption event.

In addition to that, my hip is acting up and I don’t have a chiropractor appointment for two weeks. So I’m trying a whole lot of stretches.

The pain got worse throughout the day, and I accepted the offer to leave work at 3 when they announced VTO. I picked my own cart to start this morning, which meant I had a 3,000 step walk first thing in the morning. And by the end of the day, I had shipped 380 items, which, by my calculations is 108.5%.

The Grateful Friday

Yesterday I cleaned a lot of my downstairs and had a relatively good work out at Apex. I haven’t felt incredibly strong lately, but my IUD must be working because I’m not in pain.

I had a good week at work, so cleaning, working on Parisian Phoenix projects and watching Cobra Kai suited me just fine yesterday.

I even found two of the dog’s Kong balls under the couch which made for a very happy dog.

Today, I was supposed to have my annual physical but my doctor’s office called yesterday and rescheduled for next week— which also means another week without answers from my CT scan and physiatrist referral. Neither the neurologist nor the physiatrist’s office has called me back.

And I need a doctor that can help me understand the motion and mechanics of my body, and not just its individual parts.

Today I scrubbed the exterior of the stove and did dishes. Then I went to help my blind friend Nan with some errands and grocery shopping.

We made plans to pick up some pizza at Little Caesars so Nan could try the Batman Calzony. No matter how I tried I couldn’t explain what it was to the blind lady. So we bought one.

But we had time to kill before the teenager got out of school even after we put groceries away. We grabbed the dog and got drinks and hash browns (for the dog) at Dunkin.

And then we surprised the teenager with the dog at school.

Then Joan stopper by to drop off some hand-me-down magazines and erotica, cupcakes and photos that Joan needed us to sort.

Now, I’m cuddling with Louise, watching Gotham Garage and enjoying kitten photos.

Day 3 of 10-hour day shift in the warehouse: Podcast reviews

(And a foster cat and teenager update)

This new work week is certainly moving quickly although each day I come home more exhausted. I’m hurting more once I get home, but I’m fine for the first 9+ hours of my shift. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read these:

Yesterday

Sunday

The teenager kept my car as the last two of our fosters who needed to be spayed went to Canyon River Run today. That would be Mama Danu and her tabby kitten Baile from the Celtic Pride.

She hoped to bake cookies for the platters Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab plans to distribute to the many vets who assist the organization. Her eighth grade boyfriend came over to lend a helping hand so she also taught him to make bread.

Meanwhile I just kept dreaming of an iced cold Coke Zero. And an interesting thing happened — I got to work and there was a 4-pack of 20-ounce Coke Zero bottles with a post-it note declaring them free.

I brought them home. My guess is someone didn’t realize Coke Zero had been relabeled in the same red as classic Coke.

Which my metrics tanked by the end of the day which had me chugging this at 3 p.m. break.

My 4 p.m., I was trembling and about to cry. Do. Not. Repeat.

I treated the teenager to dinner at Tic Toc so she could get her last pay check. We both ate too much.

I did my physical therapy exercises and took a hot shower. By the end of the shower my right leg was very uncomfortable so I took a low dose muscle relaxer and covered my leg, knee and back with CBD Medic’s Arthritis Cream.

One more day.

So now, as promised, let me offer some thoughts on podcasts. The teenager and I compared notes on our Spotify end-of-year wrap up and she thought she was impressive with 17,000 minutes since we started using the service in mid-year. I have 88,000+.

MY FAVORITE PODCASTS I LISTENED TO SO FAR THIS WEEK:

  • This one surprises me. The Ellen Fisher Podcast. She’s a very interesting person with her journey to raise her own food in Hawaii with her brood of plant-based kids and interest in all things calm and positive. I don’t really don’t know how I feel about her podcast — but I recently listened to her episode on Mind Change. It was an interesting discussion of neuroscience facts blended with alternative healing techniques to deal with personal trauma to heal the body of disease and mental illness. The guests on the show discuss their experience that illness, whether physical or mental, is the body manifesting trauma that the person has refused to acknowledge and heal.
  • The Daily. I often force myself to listen to the Daily even when the topics don’t interest me. This week I found myself pleasantly surprised by their coverage of Stephen Sondheim’s death.
  • Snacks Daily. Snacks Daily is a brief podcast from Robin Hood, yes the investment folks. It’s an economic summary of course, but it also provides humor and the business side of the news.
  • I finished Sh**hole Countries by Radiotopia. The American host on that show grapples with the possibility that her Ghanaian parents want her to move to Ghana. Enjoyable but also not what I expected. The host uses much of her platform to talk about her queerness and human rights.
  • The Shit No One Tells You About Writing. Very useful and broad tips about writing, critiquing and publishing.
  • Africa Daily just did a good episode on fistula. I found that a surprising topic. I’m impressed. (Though they did not mention the prevalence of female genital cutting and its impact on the rate of fistula.)

Other notables: Power Hugh Hefner, American Scandal The Lewinsky Affair, Operator, Against the Odds Rock Climbers Abducted.

And here is a video of Nala the Goffins Cockatoo: Nala harassing foster cat tripod Louise

Good night all.

The Kit and Kaboodle Update

So, as a former journalist, I could easily write a summary of every day like a nice newspaper column and post it. I could probably even manage to maintain my sense of humor, style, and tendency to find joy in the ridiculously ordinary.

But this week, every word I wrote felt repetitious. Or perhaps every word I wanted to write felt like it had been done before.

And maybe it has. Because so much of life goes that way. The same struggles, the same events, and often the same answers. And we repeat the cycle over and over probably for two reasons.

  1. It’s hard to break a habit.
  2. And growth, the kind of change that comes from embracing a lesson, presents its own difficulties.

In today’s blog, I’m going to do a generic update, and I’m honestly not sure if any of this is repeating myself. But do you know what? Repeating myself is okay. This is a small droplet in the vast waters of the internet and there’s always the possibility someone hasn’t heard it before and may need to hear it today.

Are you listening?

Fosters: Touch of Grey, Mars and Minerva. Information on how to adopt them at http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

All eyes on me.

Topics to come in this entry: Update on my cerebral palsy and quest to end my chronic back pain, weight training with the teenager with Dan at Apex, emotional eating, review of Purple Carrot’s vegan Thanksgiving dinner box, and the requisite animal photos.

This week’s personal training at Apex:

I know I frequently mention how amazing the trainers at Apex are. One of their strengths (weight training pun there) is to recognize the needs of each client and to match the client with the right trainer. I’m obviously not in the whiny white women who primarily want to lose weight category, and that’s how I ended up with Dan. As Dan has the unofficial knowledge of a physical therapist (because he’s had enough accidents to know the patient side of it) and he has the curiosity to read, research and think. With my cerebral palsy this is important. Dan has the observational skill to read my knees and lower body to know if it’s a bodyweight/calisthenics kind of day or a weight training day. And this is important so you can build range of motion and flexibility and not get hurt.

Anyway, Dan has been kind enough to let the teenager join my training sessions. I love throwing weights around but lack the personal discipline to do it on my own this time around. And the teenager has a natural muscle tone and build that makes her perfect for powerlifting. But she hates dumbbells and she hates routine and discipline. So as long as we tell her to go throw around that heavy object she’s fine.

And today she deadlifted 135 lbs as if it weren’t even a challenge. I honestly think she could have done 150 lbs easily.

I think I kept up with her through 115. I only did three at 115 because I was really afraid I would blow out my knees. A deadlift when executed correctly utilizes the lower body, and the weight actually (once I get warmed up) helps me lower my butt in the squatting portion, but since my knees tend to point sharply inward, I have to adjust my stance to compensate. While the main gist of the lift is to pull the weight along the shin and lift into the hips and use the legs to support the weight as the hips straighten and thrust outward with the tightening of the glutes, in my case, I have to force my knees to stay in the proper position facing my toes and not each other.

As I start to lift heavier, the dull ache in my spine is a reminder to lift the weight with my legs and not my back. I place my feet in position, point my toes slightly out and stretch my knees in line with them. And, for lack of a better description, I lock them in place and while lifting the barbell I have to concentrate on keeping my knees from turning inward. Because if they would suddenly snap where they want to be, I could not only blow out a knee but also potentially lose balance.

So I did three.

In related news, physical therapy update:

Yesterday I finally had my physical therapy appointment with the proper physical therapist now that neurology has confirmed that my balance and brain are fine. Much to my pleasant surprise, I had the same physical therapist that treated my initial bouts with back pain three years ago. He was at a different physical therapy office, then, and came recommended by my doctor as the guy who really knew back issues. What makes this a funny but pleasant coincidence is the fact that I chose this physical therapy branch because my blind friend Nancy is going there and I thought we could combine appointments and I could help her with rides.

What did my physical therapist Jeff say? Basically, that I need to do yoga. He has me doing “press-ups” 5 times a day for 10 reps. At least to start this week. Last time I had physical therapy with him, he started me super light and then made the exercises ten times harder when I returned in a week. “Press-ups” are cobra pose in yoga. I used to do yoga daily. It always seems like physical therapists are always telling me to do more of what I already or what I used to do.

Random photo of Nala the Goffin with foster cat Touch of Grey

Confession time, emotional eating:

My weight is 160lbs. This upsets me greatly. When I had gestational diabetes at six months pregnant I was 169. I was 142 on the day I brought the teenager home from the hospital and 142 for most of her toddler years. When I finally decided I needed to get my weight under control and regain strength after breaking my right hand while working at Target, I lost 30 lbs in 6 weeks. I lost too much weight too quickly and then gained weight while strength training and got ripped. Over the years, I found a set point at 135, where I could maintain muscle but be more relaxed about eating.

But then, my marriage ended. My boss at the job that allowed me to separate from my husband and support myself turned out to be a sociopath. I mean that in the kindest way possible. She was very sweet, and driven, and perfection-oriented but she had no empathy, no flexibility and no patience for any way other than hers. No views allowed other than her beliefs. This led to high blood pressure and I honestly had no energy left to take care of myself. When she fired me, it took six months for unemployment benefits to determine she was in the wrong. The pandemic was underway by then (Summer 2019). I lived on my savings, a total of $4,500, and foodstamps that kicked in three months after I lost my job.

And this was also when I ended up in the hospital for an infected cat bite and took in a second teenager who lived with us for nine months without her parents contributing to her care.

I mention this only because it is why I lost my discipline. Why I stopped caring for myself like I used to. It was easy and fun to go to McDonalds for a $1 Diet Coke and a $1 McChicken. Cheap dinner.

I thought I would turn this around when I started “picking” at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I walked 17,000 steps a night in the warehouse, grabbing clothes. But then I caught Covid-19. And my stamina never bounced back. So now I fold clothes. Which killed my back.

Even though I had a delightful Thanksgiving, with vegan recipes I prepared from Purple Carrot and leftover pie and wine from my in-law’s meal, I “ruined” it by drinking a big glass of wine yesterday with about 1200 calories of Trolli gummy worms. And then I tell myself, “Well, at least they had protein, iron and calcium.”

And finally, the Purple Carrot Box:

I’ve only made about half the box. The rest is still in the fridge.

I made the Purple Carrot “sausage” stuffing, vegan thyme gravy and cranberry sauce. The thyme gravy was better than I expected as I am not a gravy person. I added local granny smith apples and herbs de provence to the stuffing. The stuffing began life as caibatta rolls, root vegetables, and Fieldstone vegetarian sausage. Let me say again, if you haven’t heard it before, that the Fieldstone vegetarian sausages are amazing. The fact that they come wrapped tight in plastic “skin” casings annoys me, but they are very tasty.

FURR cat update and review of Richmond Farm & Brewery

#1

Please excuse any typos and attribute them to the beer flight and draft I consumed in celebration of my mother’s birthday at Richmond Farm & Brewery, the almost six month old enterprise of Milissa and Eric Smith, classmates of mine from Bangor Area Senior High School in the grunge era.

#2

I am experiencing a tad bit of melancholy as our bestest FURR foster kittens — Em(inem) and (Slim) Shady, moved into a habitat at Petsmart on Rte 248. If all goes well, someone will fall in love with them and we will never see them again.

So after much organizing of the up-and-coming nonfiction identity-themed anthology for Parisian Phoenix Publishing, I was very much anticipating our visit to the brewery.

This was their first weekend indoors. The bar and the tap system are not even installed yet, but the decor and ambiance are perfect. You don’t even notice it’s unfinished.

And frankly, with so much economic uncertainty in the world right now, it’s nice to see business owners moving through the stumbling blocks but still operating.

You can’t recoup time and money invested waiting for everything to magically fall into place.

The renovation of this old barn— well, for this Slate Belt girl it didn’t feel “barny” enough for me. But it all seriousness, it was roomy and gorgeous, rustic but classy. Homey. Warm.

At this time, you order food at one register and beverages at the next. Simple. Expedient.

Milissa greeted us. I had warned her we were coming. I introduced my family and she was kind enough to ask me about my book and congratulate me on it. And she bought a copy for her daughter.

It was heartening to hear that many Bangor classmates are surprising Milissa and Eric by stopping by. Milissa is trying to collect photos of everyone. I tried to impress upon the teenager, since she is a high school senior with a class the size of mine back in the day, that someday she may be surprising her classmates.

In the end, I think Richmond Farm & Brewery did all the necessary impressing.

The food— a small, carefully curated menu— exceeded my expectations. And even though the choices were minimal, I still had trouble deciding and wanted to eat it all.

Richmond Burger

And I purchased a maple vanilla Porter draft for myself and a flight of six beers for mom and I to try.

Immediately I noticed that the maple vanilla Porter had overwhelming notes of blackstrap molasses. A very different taste than I am accustomed to in my porters, but one I grew to like as I enjoyed my burger with its bacon bourbon jam.

And the flight?

Not a “bad beer” on it.

For the full beer list, click here.

My flight included:

  • The Mosaic Masterpiece, aptly named, as it was my favorite. I did not read any of the descriptions before trying, but I warned the staff I wasn’t a fan of IPAs and gravitated to the porters and stouts. Many of their beers were not available, but the Mosaic IPA was my top beer of the night and very fruity in the finish.
  • The Diehly, surprisingly basic but easy to drink. The description refers to it as vibrant and full of unique hops.
  • The Richmond Pale Ale, my notes referred to it as light on the palate.
  • The Maple Vanilla Porter, which I arrogantly thought would be my favorite, had strong notes of blackstrap molasses.
  • Smitty’s Blonde Ale, I found mild but pleasant. Definitely a summery beer.
  • Extra Pale Zonkey Ale, the web site describes this one as the easiest beer to drink ever. And it is so simple and smooth, it’s very refreshing.

I was disappointed not to try the stranger brews— the shredded wheat ale, the cranberry ale or the gingerbread brown ale brewed with spiced gum drops. Or their cow tail brown ale with chocolate, caramel & coffee notes. Or their more traditional Potbelly Porter.

But, I am so so glad I was forced to try beers I wouldn’t normally pick. I enjoyed all of them, and most of them I wouldn’t have chosen under normal circumstances.

Just another example of how being pushed outside of your comfort zone is good.

For more on the brewery, visit their website here.

Another day seeking answers

This is another in a series of posts about trying to learn about my cerebral palsy and improve life in my body in general.

As sometimes happen, I woke in pain. I took two Tylenol PM last night so the pain didn’t keep me awake though my cat kept trying to intimidate one of my fosters so that made the six hours of sleep I got rather restless.

I woke to an alarm at shortly after 8 a.m. as I had to be at a doctor’s appointment at 10:05ish and the office is 20 minutes away.

To read about the connection between my gynecologist and my novel, visit the Parisian Phoenix blog.

Today was the rescheduled appointment to get my Mirena IUD that will hopefully reduce my heavy menstrual bleeding and my back pain from menstrual cramps. I had another new-to-me doctor today, and this one had an amazing sense of humor.

She was also the first doctor to ask me, upon hearing I had cerebral palsy, if there was anything she needed to do or be aware of to help me. In my case, the answer is no. But if I had worse issues with my flexibility and lower limbs, this would be a good question.

This is my third IUD, although my first Mirena. So nothing unexpected happened during insertion.

There was a pinch here and there and the doctor told me to take ibuprofen for the initial cramping. And to be prepared for a period that might be weird for the next few months. Every woman reacts differently but I may see my periods lighten or even skip cycles.

I did experience some light cramping and spotting but nothing to require OTC painkillers.

But, once I got to work, my right leg seemed to be impossible to control with my quad and knee burning. My ankles also started to burn. My lower back just throbbed, regardless of whether I was twisting or standing still.

By the end of the night I struggled to reach forward or to lift the pile of clothes.

I only QCed 92 fixes. That’s almost 71% of goal. Now granted tonight we were in the men’s Hizzy for the first time ever. It took me 4.5 minutes to do fixes that in women’s takes less than 3.

And they have such nicely organized work stations with drawers.

While listening to my first podcast of the night— 60 songs that explain the 90s— i discovered that Weird Al donated the profits from “Achy Breaky Song” to the cerebral palsy foundation.

My British colleague asked why I’m not on disability. That made me wonder how bad I must look if she says that to me.

In good news, let me regale you as I drink my last pins colada lemonade gin cocktail, the teenager is very excited about the new soap dispenser she bought.

I did a thing and did a soft launch on a Parisian Phoenix podcast on Spotify. I thought my blind friend, Nancy, would like it.

And if you want some fun pet items:

Nala the cockatoo plays in the shower.

Bean Dog tries to get bone out of tire.

I walked into the teenager’s bedroom and the kittens of the Celtic Pride were all in her laundry.

Cupcakes at Midnight: A discussion of future plans for Parisian Phoenix Publishing

Yesterday was the launch day for my novel. At midnight, the teenager and I were celebrating with cocktails and cupcakes.

I have so much hope for Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

It’s too early for me to know how many copies have sold, I don’t expect large numbers as I haven’t really implemented my marketing plan. Our small boutique publisher is a partnership— myself and graphic designer Gayle Hendricks— so the work that needs to be done, we do as we can or we ask for help.

We have lots of ideas, so this first novel may be mine, but part of that stems from my philosophy that before I publish anyone else’s book, I want to learn and grow from lessons made bringing my manuscript into the limelight.

Our Fiction

This novel— Manipulations, the first volume of the Fashion and Fiends series—means a lot to me. I believe it breeds chick lit to horror fiction (think what might have happened if Stephen King wrote The Devil Wears Prada) and uses contemporary literature (and the mythic supernatural) to examine social issues.

Manipulations, at its core, is a book about building healthy relationships. And the proverbial lesson of “things are not always what they appear.” And I hope my readers will understand that magic, in this context, allows us to explore domestic violence.

To order Manipulations:

The next volume, Courting Apparitions, (due out in late November) uses a ghost story to examine grief and depression.

And the next, Recovery, (slated for first quarter 2022) tackles disability, motherhood and women’s rights. But don’t worry, magic is still afoot.

Meanwhile, the fourth, Road Trip, is a coming of age novel. With werewolves. I’d like to release that one on June 23, 2022. The day my baby turns 18. But first I have to finish writing it.

The fifth volume, Absolution, looks at the intersection of sacrifice and love.

And the sixth volume, at least half written at this point, is Finding Hooyo— a hybrid romance novel, medical drama and war story. Hopefully that should tie up the original story line but certainly not the Fashion and Fiends universe.

Our nonfiction

Currently our team of authors and interesting people have several projects in the works.

Sometime in 2022, I hope to revisit a book I wrote as part of my research at Lafayette College. I looked at the anti-Muslim laws in France and traced their roots to 19th century colonial stereotypes and considered the thesis that these laws perpetuate stereotypes that started in Algeria.

My love, as a critical theorist, of post-colonial Francophone Africa stems from my view that French imperialism during the colonial era serves as an amazing parallel to contemporary American imperialism and attitudes towards Muslims.

And now, with identity politics very en vogue, I feel like these lessons in stereotypes and prejudice are very relevant.

Speaking of critical theorists and identity politics, I have assembled a group of authors to discuss various identity issues in a special anthology, currently called: Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money: Expressions of Alternative Perspectives Influenced by Experiences in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

Committed so far is Darrell Parry, poet and writer, and my estranged husband; Eva Parry, otherwise known as “the teenager”; William Prystauk of Crash Palace Productions and the Kink Noir series; Maryann Riker, multimedia artist; Nancy Scott, blind author of essays and poems; Rachel Thompson, science fiction and alternative history writer; Joan Zachary, photographer and writer… and hopefully more.

Racing with them toward the finish line is a cat anthology to use as a fundraising book for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab which will feature cat stories, photos, memoirs of FURR volunteers and academic research on animal welfare, poverty and empowering low-income and diverse neighborhoods to know what resources are available for themselves and their animals.

And with the new “Texas law,” Parisian Phoenix hopes to work with people on the team who have experience in women’s issues and chronicle stories as a fundraiser and historical record for groups in this sector.

Our poetry

Sometime in late fall, Parisian Phoenix hopes to release a full-length poetry manuscript, the poems for which have been assembled and the layout is in process.

I can guarantee this book will be as funny as it is thought provoking.

Our erotica and romance

It’s not quite clear when our erotica and romance will hit the market, but we have authors working to provide stories with real characters facing real life.

In the romance department, we have a manuscript, Trapped, that combines middle-aged love that sparks because of the skunk infestation with the joy of reinventing oneself.

There are hints of a Fashion and Fiends erotic prequel that extends the arousing feel of the horror fiction universe with more sex and no monsters.

And our goal is to offer kink/BDSM erotica, quality stories with empathetic characters who participate in safe, informed and consensual play. We have authors working on those tales, too.


Find Angel Ackerman on WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Follow Parisian Phoenix Publishing on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

FURR’s first ever kittens and coffee “pop-up cat café” raises nearly $2,500 and yields adoption applications

OMG.

We planned this event in a little more than a month.

We received donations from Wegmans, Target #2536, Wawa, Easton Baking, Philly Pretzel and Keystone Snacks. Just Born also offered candy but the pick up is next week. We will use that for a future event.

So many friends and family members baked. I have leftover coffee cake and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. I bought sweets, coffee, a cutting board, a t-shirt (don’t declaw!) and a mug.

When we “opened” at 2 p.m., a horde of people charged the room! There was a line more than half way through the building and no spaces left in the parking lot!

And everyone was patient and polite. The room was so full we couldn’t do all the activities we had planned— there wasn’t space. We only sold about ten cups of coffee but made almost $400 in food and drink donations, as we let everyone set their own prices.

A man came in from the basketball game next store and asked if we took Venmo. I said I had Venmo and had plenty of cash or I could get the card reader. He Venmoed me $20— I gave him $20 from my own pocket. He took a cupcake and a can of Sprite and gave the organization the whole $20!

People just wanted to pass around kittens and cuddle them. And the kittens all laid peacefully in strangers’ arms!

And everyone loved playing with kittens!

We made almost $1,500 in admission donations. Hundreds of people came.

In 2.5 hours, our unofficial count says we raised almost $2,500 for these kittens.

Photos to come.

I just keep picturing in my mind the faces of all these people of all shapes, sizes and ages cuddling kittens. Everyone turns into a softy when those babies curl up against you.

At the end of the event, the teenager’s father and I were taking stuff to the car when I saw a group of teen boys— I assumed athletes— coming out of the gym/the basketball game. We had soooo many cupcakes left I told them to go into our room and tell the people there Angel said they could have cupcakes.

And as we left the event some other young men asked if we needed help. So all in all, it was lovely to see polite & friendly young people. Especially since this last pandemic year has been so hard on our youth.

I am grateful for all the FURR volunteers who staffed the event. I am super proud of my daughter for her hard work. And I loved working with my partner in crime, Janel.

What a success!

The Caturday before Coffee and Kittens Pop-Up Cat Cafe

Are y’all totally sick of me talking about this yet?

So excited. And terrified. And excited some more. People are so supportive and I am amazed at the kindness of my friends, neighbors, relative strangers and local businesses.

I used to work at Target #2536 in Lower Nazareth. My co-conspirator, I mean fellow event planner, Janel, brought them a solicitation letter at my urging. The person who took it from her said it looked like a great event.

We didn’t hear from them. Until Wednesday.

I answered the phone while at work because Siri read me the number and I recognized it, it was both alien and really familiar. Then the caller introduced themselves.

Which explained why the number looked important.

They had held a collection for us and team members had donated some cat supplies to make a cat basket. And the actual store gave us a $50 gift card. If you know anything about me, you know I can work these store gift cards.

The teenager had gone down to Mary Meuser Memorial Library where the children’s librarian gave her a pile of cat children’s books that I will test-read to her tonight.

We did some shopping with our donated gift cards and now have some of the following for the event:

  • Fruit cups: mandarin oranges, diced pears, and diced peaches
  • Water
  • Juice boxes
  • Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite
  • rice krispie treats
  • Sandwich crackers

And that’s in addition to baked goods, veggie crisps from Keystone snacks, the teenager’s homemade Rice Krispie peanut butter candy, coffee cake, zucchini trail mix muffins, cookies, cupcakes, chocolate cake and I heard there will be key lime pie! And pastries from Easton Baking and coffee from Wawa and pretzels from Philly Pretzel Company.

And thanks to Wegmans, Giant and Target, we have supplies to make an auxiliary coffee station. With tea and hot chocolate, too!

The fun starts at 2 p.m.!

We should have 30 Kittens to cuddle and lots of activities and cat items for sale.

AND a photographer to send you photos of you and your family having a good time.

The cat basket and a chocolate pizza from Chocolate Works Lehigh Valley and a $20 gift card for Chocolate Works from my neighbor Sobaka’s Mom will be available for silent auction.

The eye of the storm: the kitten cafe launches Sunday

I have had so much fun and have so much anticipation for Sunday’s Pop Up Kitten Cafe to benefit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

It’s 2 a.m.

I need to be at the gym at 10 a.m.

But I just finished a salad from Wawa with spinach, chicken salad, carrots, apples and feta. Trying to combat stress with nourishing food.

After all, yesterday was Friday the 13th.

I sent N.J. EZ Pass a copy of my check from my daughter’s violations from her vacation. Apparently they need the front and back and I only sent the front.

I took my phone to Best Buy for repairs as Square Trade told me too. The screen repair would be $379, and my deductible is $129. But my phone is an old iPhone X (purchased in April 2018) and the battery is only at 84% and the face sensor is dead. So Best Buy does not recommend repairing it. They sell replacement iPhone X for I believe it was $549. But they didn’t have any.

So I had to go home, call SquareTrade and have them ship me a replacement. They are sending an Xs. Via FedEx. That is supposed to come today while I am running for the cafe. I hope I’m back in time.

[Edit: 2 p.m. No phone. No note from FedEx. Just a Chewy.com box.]

By the time I went to work last night, I was frazzled. I’ve been part of a small cohort in QC this week while most of the « Midnight Society » team has gone to inbound processing. Because of body stiffness I only made 113 fixes Tuesday and Wednesday night. I’ve lost my mojo.

Last night I started strong, doing 9 fixes every 30 minutes. But by lunch I had slowed down and couldn’t get my speed back up.

I was stressing way too much about the numbers— not in a mental way, as I knew the number who improve from my two “bad nights” and life happens. Physically though it was harder to breathe, my heart quickened and my stomach quivered. And I knew it was a panicked feeling from the stress of everything.

I opened my Ginger Mental Health app. I reached out to a counselor who said something about a mental vacation and that sounded like an amazing idea. (Stitch Fix offers free access to Ginger for its employees.)

She sent me a meditation but my mind had already drifted away to my own memories of vacation in Yemen and Djibouti. I thought about how soothing the call to prayer on the loud speaker was. Video: Call to prayer Djibouti City and if you want some Afar dancing and singing: Afar dancing (only snippets because on Lac Abbé we didn’t have electricity and I didn’t want my phone to go dead.)

And I thought it would me beautiful to hear that right now. I found this on Spotify: Life of the Prophet. That brought me peace.

When I got home I recorded this: Midnight Vlog