Whirlwind Tuesday

I ended last night with a delightful (super super delightful) tapas of succulent olives, hummus, blue cheese and pita chips with my neighbor.

Cozy tapas

Tonight I’m ending the night with blisters from going for my evening walk while wearing flip flops and feeling a little guilty for taking advantage of my DQ reward points to get a free chicken strip basket at Dairy Queen.

I have gained 10 pounds since the pandemic started. I am happy to say that my daily steps have tripled, but I haven’t used my dumbbells for anything other than doorstops, and I suppose I should go ahead and cancel my gym membership. Because I’m unemployed and I don’t want to go pay someone for something I can do at home without a mask.

If only I could stop the junk food habit.

But that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to touch on two topics. I’m going to briefly touch on what I love about the business and non-profit environment here in the Lehigh Valley.

Then I’m going to sing the praises of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab and report that our adorable pseudo-Russian Blue kittens, now about nine months old got neutered today and are still stoned out of their fuzzy little minds.

Life in the Lehigh Valley

So, I grew up in the Slate Belt and then moved to Bethlehem for my college years at Moravian College. I’ve always loved the diversity of the Lehigh Valley region, the diversity of urban vs. rural, the infrastructure, the businesses, the farms, the corporations.

Today, I attended a meeting with the person in charge of corporate giving for a major corporation that has offices all over the world, and a huge influence historically and currently in the Valley.

I attended that meeting as a representative of Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., and supported one of the founders of the organization in this important private conversation we were having.

And suddenly I was awestruck again.

Periodically, I am annoyed with the Valley for the same reasons that I love the Lehigh Valley. But today I felt enamored.

The Lehigh Valley, in part because of its proximity to the ports of New Jersey and the cities of New York and Philadelphia, and the local highway infrastructure connecting it everywhere, attracts a wide variety of businesses while hosting some economic mainstays—like Air Products, Just Born Candy, Martin Guitar and Crayola.

We have two major hospital networks competing madly locally— St. Luke’s and Lehigh Valley Hospital.

But the region, despite having three cities just about touching (and Allentown, with its population of more than 122,000, is the third largest city in the state), is amazingly small. It’s not that hard to travel from one end to the other and people seem to know everyone, especially in the business world.

Or maybe it just feels that way to me because I spent 15 years as a local journalist.

So, here I am in the meeting, immediately recognized as the former Development Manager for ProJeCt of Easton, helping sell this two-year-old non-profit to a potential major funder.

I even dressed up for the Zoom— and then the person we were meeting dialed in, so I got to put on makeup for my stoned cats.

But because of the “smallness” of the Lehigh Valley, this very busy executive took more time than she had to to meet with us. As a result, we all left with an increased understanding.

We have a better fundraising plan regarding this corporation and this person learned more about how all the anti-trafficking organizations here in the Valley work together.

But what impressed me was the willingness of this individual to work with the “little guy.” That is something that makes me proud to live in the Lehigh Valley.

The rescued kittens have been neutered

I rambled quite a bit on that earlier bit.

Today, the teenager and I left the house at 7:30 to transport the kittens to FURR for a low-cost neutering.

Stephanie, the woman from FURR we have been working with, was even kind enough to place Fog and Misty on the backseat of her car with their cat carriers facing each other instead of in the big cat pile of carriers in the back of the car.

That made me happy. That the brothers could see each other.

On the way home, I stopped at Grocery Outlet as the teenager had announced that cheap instant coffee was garbage and we were going to need more Nescafé.

(For more details on this, see yesterday’s post: Nescafe Capers)

And then the teenager filled out an adoption/foster application with FURR on her phone in the parking lot.

Because we need more menagerie.

Oz enjoyed being my main baby today while the kittens were gone.

And I also did my nails.

Matte silver

And it seemed like it took forever until it was time to retrieve the boys. They are both about 9 3/4 pounds. They are Feline Leukemia negative. They have their shots now, nails trimmed, flea meds and deworming.

And they are ridiculously mellow and stoned right now. I think Fog fell asleep with his head in the water bowl.

And here’s some stoned cat videos:Fog doesn’t want to come out

Misty coming out

Feeling the love

The work stress hit me hard this morning so I did something I don’t normally do— I admitted that I needed some emotional support on Facebook.

It is my birthday after all.

At least four of my former bosses sent words of encouragement and one brought some edible arrangements fruit to my house.

Several neighbors sent well-wishes, one of whom got me not one but TWO drinks from Dunkin’. Which, now that I have had three of the matcha lattes, I have decided that Dunkin doesn’t make their matcha strong and chunky the way I like it.

One colleague FaceTimed with me on a coffee break and most of them sent email greetings as Mr. Accordion had no doubt alerted them to my advancing years. Or levels.

The teenager and her father are off to pick up the popcorn fundraiser. Her father offered to bring me dinner.

I will be finishing my G journal if not tonight then tomorrow— and I believe a fresh journal means a new chapter.

For more on my birthday adventures:

Kicking off my birthday

Pre-Birthday Magic

Realities of lemons and tandem bikes

Yes, I know the title is nonsense— but the world has turned a tad upside down as the world tends to do as having billions of people and billions of animals on a planet will erupt into some unexpected situations from time to time.

The teenager loves to eat lemons. I love to cook with lemons. For a while, especially when I first discovered Gaz Oakley the Avant Garde Vegan (Check him out on YouTube—amazing falafel, his own recipe for peri-peri sauce) I always kept fresh lemons in the house.

That was also about the time I would have lemon water first thing in the morning. The juice of half a lemon with tap water.

I did that again this morning. First time in probably a year. Or more.

Today was also the first time in a week I haven’t gained weight. The first month of this pandemic, I was eating better but stopped because… Easter… or so I claim. I am a jelly bean addict and once I start eating the jelly beans I launch onto a sugar and caffeine roller coaster.

This was breakfast. Not ALL of them.

So maybe this post should be called “bad habits.” I originally lost about 5 pounds due to stress in the beginning of the pandemic, but between beer, pizza, Easter candy, homemade cookies and triple jalapeño bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy’s they have found their way back.

But look— I got a salad

It’s been rough. More pressure than ever at work. A good friend walked away coldly without even saying goodbye. A work colleague who often made me smile left unexpectedly. Medical bills still coming in.

But in the end, I still feel inside these struggles help us grow and bring us to the next level— as another work colleague likes to say— we don’t age, we gain experience like in a video game. So I’m less than a month away from my 45th Level with the teenager two months away from Level 16 and a drivers license.

Designated Driver AND babysitter, mom friends out there!!!!

Yesterday was a sunny day amidst a forecast of rain. Last week the teenager did not complete her three weekly gym assignments and she told her teacher in her log that she “got lazy” and he wrote back that sometimes he gets lazy, too. This is a great lesson for our (older) kids in communication and work ethic. Those of you with younger kids, God Bless You and Keep You.

I would be screaming every day if the teenager were, say, six. Our brains are wired too differently.

But back to gym. We got out the tandem bike. (Yes, we have a bicycle built for two— it was a gift.) I wanted the teen to “win” gym this week. And she should get extra credit for captaining a bike with her mom, who has cerebral palsy and no real balance skills.

Then her dad came over and brought his famous hot buffalo chicken dip for dinner, at the teen’s request, and included beer for us grown-ups. And he even got on the bike! (He doesn’t ride bikes.)

I excused myself to work on some more chapters of Bill’s novel Debauchery (and reached the first sex scene— those characters are so in love it hurts). Please don’t be scared by the violence and BDSM in this novel/series. The real theme here is the beauty of acceptance no matter who you are.

And the first of several pet related packages came. So here is a Petco unboxing and some animal videos:

Petco unboxing
Nala eating pretzels with the teen

Let’s see what adventures today brings! Stay well, friends! Let’s crush this day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weis Strawberry (Shortcake) Parfait

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

Yes, jelly beans and a diet A-treat

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

Meat courtesy Park Avenue Market

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

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

I have to do better with my eating today.

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

A random Coronavirus list after 7 days of working at home

1. Pets can really brighten your day. And steal your earrings. And make you laugh. And make a mess. And sleep next to you in the sun. I think every dog in my neighborhood loves having everyone home.

2. Thanks to my office colleagues and teenager I can now make a FaceTime call with multiple people.

3. I eat less when at home. I realize how big of a stress eating problem I have. When I’m home and calmer, I eat smaller meals so even though I am exercising less, I am losing weight.

4. I don’t miss my bra, but I have to wear real pants even in my home office. For some reason I can’t focus in my pajama pants or comfy pants. It makes me want to be lazy instead of productive.

5. I love lists, but they are a reaction to stress. The more I am distanced from the rat race mentality of our typical American lifestyle, the less I make lists. My to-do lists are created out of a frantic need to prove my productivity to my family, myself and my colleagues. I find myself more in control and less driven to make lists as my lifestyle gets quieter.

6. There is no such thing as free lunch. I’ve been watching the news coverage on the stimulus package and average Americans— the barely middle class ones like myself and those struggling—need to understand that this appears to be an advance on your 2020 refund.

That makes me uncomfortable. It’s an election year, so who knows what will be happening to our tax structure in the future and this bill is enormous. We will have to pay it back somehow or it will damage our economy in the long run.

Plus, for many of us, our jobs and income are unstable right now. And even if we do have good jobs, we might not be seeing raises. And how will this all impact inflation?

I understand it’s a measure to help us survive right now. But I hope this situation helps more people understand that we need to spend less and save more.

7. I’m eating my vegetables. And taking my vitamins. And tracking my moods—because I had been having issues with my blood pressure and no doctor, no matter how much he cares, is going to check my blood pressure right now.

I was talking to a colleague that I last went to Wegmans more than 2 weeks ago. She asked how I have any produce. I taught her my trick. I bought apples, oranges and green bananas. I bought fresh Brussel sprouts, potatoes, spaghetti squash, radishes and a giant cabbage.

Root vegetables for the win!

8. Sunshine saves the day. Working, via extension cord because I have the old laptop with no battery power, on the enclosed porch beats the dining room table.

If you want more info on the tax bill:

From Forbes.com

From Yahoo money