Of mufflers and magic

The last few days have been emotional, challenging and at times full of mirth… so as expected, it is the full moon.

I attended a few trainings and meetings and will be (or was) on the county council meeting agenda to serve on the drug and alcohol task force. I also sat in on a meeting of the YWCA of Bethlehem’s Empowerment and Justice Committee.

Today was the first Friends of Pete mixer since the pandemic started!

But let me not get ahead of myself.

I did two loads of laundry, tended some pets, had coffee with a neighbor, vacuumed my room, tried to get information on my unemployment claim (tried two different agencies and could get through to neither), went for a walk with another neighbor… and learned some high school physics.

And then Sarah, my lead intern in the communications department at ASPIRE to Autonomy visited! It was our first in person meeting despite working virtually practically side by side since June.

She knows the delightful crazy in my house— the naughty cockatoo, the sibling grey cats, the visiting dogs, the foster kittens, marching band, teenagers 1 & 2, the blind poet friend, etc. She’s seen & heard a lot of silly and strange things via video chat.

And now she drove 90 miles to see the real thing. Maybe a should start my own reality television show… and then run for President.

Teenager #1 proclaimed that Sarah was “even prettier in real life.”

She tried to make friends with Nala, met lots of cats, and then I went to take her on a tour of my neighborhood.

And there was construction blocking on end of the street and no lie a MUFFLER and TAILPIPE at the other. To get out of my street, we had to move part of an exhaust system. To which Sarah merely said, “I am not even surprised.”

View from my garage

I drive her to the teenagers school, show her Easton Area High School (the size of which blew her mind), and (don’t judge) visited two Dunkin’ Donuts out of the six within 2.5 miles of my house. We only got drinks at one. Note: Sarah uses almond milk.

We drop the car off and take a walk around the neighborhood which she enjoys because she can’t go anywhere on foot at her house. And she asked a lot of good questions discovering the history of the Dixie cup along the way.

We return to the house because I told Sarah we were going to light a few candles. Apparently I had never mention to Sarah that I was an animist pagan (or in practical terms a witch).

Oops.

Luckily, she has a history as a Catholic and Catholics light as many candles, burn as much incense and if you consider a prayer a spell, then do as magic as witches do.

So around 4:15, we did a candle burning ritual to coincide with the 5:05 full moon. I gave teenager 1 a white candle to draw the positive light to us and keep our intentions pure. I gave teenager 2 a purple candle as I want her to draw peace, calm, and safety into her life. I gave Sarah a blue candle as her friend had cancer surgery today and we wanted to pray for her healing. My candle was green. I need money, a job or some sort of resources.

After Sarah’s first ritual, we left for the Friends of Pete mixer— the Pandemic Breakout Networking event— in downtown Easton. I also showed her my old office at ProJeCt of Easton and then we drove by the new office for ASPIRE.

I reconnected with some old acquaintances— including Gil Bean of InFlow Advisory and Pete Reinke. I met some new people and got to have drinks with my ASPIRE peers. And forgot to finish explaining to Amber, the co-founder of ASPIRE the difference between a Wiccan, a pagan and a witch.

I had a gin-elderberry-lime-berry cocktail and calamari at Ocean. I’d dined at all the other restaurants on the list so it was nice to finally try Ocean.

But let me back up and explain— Friends of Pete is a Lehigh Valley networking group that has a strong LinkedIn presence, a weekly Zoom check in and used to have monthly mixers.

It is how I met Darnell in August 2019.

And Sarah realized she’d been to Easton before— to visit The Crayola Factory. Which I had written the original press release when Binney & Smith first remodeled the old Orr’s store and launched that attraction more than 20 years ago.

Hospital “jet lag”

I don’t feel like writing right now. I don’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping.

No one prepared me for how weird it would be to transition back into everyday life after 72 hours plus in the hospital.

It’s a lot like jet lag for similar reasons— your sleep schedule is screwed up and your routine in general is topsy turvy.

And I had neither major illness nor invasive procedures.

I got home on Thursday a little after 11 a.m. The cats were aloof but Nala was glad to see me.

I took one of the longest showers I’ve ever taken in my life. And I put on a pretty dress, just because I could.

And when I got out of the shower I discovered a text that alerted me to a cake on my porch.

The best baker in the neighborhood made me this coffee cake

I immediately texted my neighbor in the other half of my house and asked if she wanted to have coffee and I would bring cake.

Knowing I haven’t had decent coffee since the previous weekend, she started a pot immediately.

I left from there to go meet my daughter at the high school and help her carry her marching baritone home.

This is where I have to give my daughter all the props. Monday was her first day of high school band camp. If you don’t already know this about the teenager, she is in her fourth year of playing low brass in marching band.

So when I wandered off to the ER at 6-ish a.m. Monday morning, and was texting her “I’m not coming home.” Well, first she thought I was dying and then she suddenly became responsible for her own meals, her own laundry, and the care of 3 parakeets, 1 cockatoo who won’t go to sleep without someone in the room, our four cats and five foster kittens.

And we had a tropical storm.

And she handled it all.

Our neighbors offered an amazing support network, as did my friends, especially Gayle who brought me t-shirts so I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown.

I took several walks that first day home, including one for my medicine at CVS. I was ecstatic to see I only had a few days of Augmentin to take.

And the hand has improved every day.

Wound: about 10 a.m., August 8

My dad and stepmom came down to visit and take us to dinner at Three Mugs Pub. That almost made me cry because on Wednesday, after the doctor told me he couldn’t discharge me yet, all I could think of was a Shruty’s burger at Three Mugs Pub.

One of the best burgers around

When Three Mugs Pub was still Shruty’s, my husband and I were the first people to order the Shruty’s burger when they debuted it. It’s a really good burger topped with pepper jack cheese, shrings (tempura battered deep fried banana pepper rings) and Texas petal sauce.

In my opinion, this burger is one of the best in the Lehigh Valley, on par with the much pricier peanut butter bacon burger at Two Rivers Brewing, another favorite of mine.

And I had a Guinness to celebrate my arrival home.

They had a new appetizer on the menu— a hot buffalo chicken dip. We tried that too.

The teenager declared it her new favorite chicken dip, better than her father’s. I respectfully disagree. Her father’s is extremely good. I prefer it.

After that meal I slept 10 hours.

Now, on Friday, yesterday, everyone kept contacting me or stopping me to ask how I was doing and then Darnell stopped by to inform me of all the things that had happened while I was gone.

And everyone wanted a piece of the coffee cake Janie made me.

I shared.

And then my neighbor Jan let me watch a movie at her house, cuddling with her dog, and she even gave the teenager and I a bag of brownie M&M’s. The teenager thought they “just tasted like M&M’s” whereas I thought if you piled enough of them in your mouth at once it was like having a mouthful of brownie batter.

Not that I’ve ever eaten a bowl of brownie batter.

Or an entire pint of ice cream with brownie bits.

And then I slept 10 hours again.

I rolled out of bed a little after 8, expecting to have the last slice of Janie’s decadent coffee cake, after all, I need the food to take my antibiotics.

But then my mom told me she was bringing sticky buns.

So I made my morning coffee and as the espresso machine started steaming, I got on the scale.

I’ve gained two pounds since I got home from the hospital.

Saturday breakfast from Mimi

Lunch was a business mixer with the Easton chapter of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club at Sogo Asian Fusion in the downtown.

A random young black women yelled at us from her car, “You guys look so pretty.” So I asked the teenager to take some selfies before our arrival. The teenager had just given me a haircut. I thought my hair looked untamed because of my hospital stay. I was wrong.

That random compliment from a stranger meant a lot to me as I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.

The teenager and I had the Out of Control roll, Fire Mountain (with scallops! and it really was a mountain, and it was so amazing) and a Philadelphia roll. The teenager squealed with delight and the staff at Sogo gave me the rubber-banded chopsticks because I was using a fork.

I guess the teenager will have to teach me to use chopsticks.

The remainder of my afternoon was spent cleaning, walking with my neighbor, and trying to earn the trust of our foster kittens.

YouTube playlist of our foster kittens

And now, I’m feeling a little nauseous and I wonder if it’s because of all these penicillin-family antibiotics in my system and the fact that I had so much more water in my system in the hospital. Every time I had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics in the hospital, they increased my IV fluids. So I’m trying to drink more here at home.

And a few minutes ago, my mom texted. She got bit by a friend’s cat today.

Joy Is

Yesterday I allowed myself to eat my feelings—in the form of a Buffalo Chicken Specialty Pizza with spinach instead of onions (six slices), Parmesan bread bites (probably half the order), and sweet BBQ bacon specialty chicken (again probably half the order) from my good friends at Dominos. I’ve had the same “delivery specialist” the last two orders. And my last order was on Thursday.

And I washed it down with a big glass of Two Rivers Brewing Bankers Brown Ale. But I must say, my cockatoo, Nala, approves of my bad decisions. Click on the link under the photo to see Nala playing with the empty box.

Nala playing

That was not a healthy way to deal with stress. But it’s over and done and it felt so good in the moment.

Bad decisions often do.

But today was a new day and I don’t surrender. So, I bring to you a list of the things that brought me joy today.

1. My professional peer Lynn from another non-profit locally reached out to me today on Facebook. We had a lovely Zoom chat on my lunch hour and discovered in addition to our journalistic pasts, we also both have three-legged cats. Go figure.

2. One of my colleagues sent me a photo of the tree from the courtyard at our office.

On this dark, damp day (over the course of which my toes NEVER got warm despite my super thick winter socks), this photo put my day right from the get-go. Why?

Because it’s a magnolia tree. We had a magnolia tree in our yard when I was young— and as my work colleague observed—the extremely short life span of its flowers makes them somehow more special. I used to climb the one in my girlhood home and I love the silky feel of the petals as they tumble to the ground.

3. I’m working on a last minute state grant. A food recovery infrastructure grant that could buy our agency a new commercial freezer. The state representative I’ve been working with has been so nice and so responsive, I told him it’s truly been a pleasure to work with him and he told me I made his day.

From a grant I’m working on

I shared the proposal with the mentor my boss appointed to me, and he liked it and pointed out some areas where I could strengthen it. I also asked some connections for a letter of support and I received a truly heartwarming letter from one.

So, regardless of what happens, I feel good about the work I do.

4. My daughter spent the day helping her grandmother with yard work. I’m proud my daughter doesn’t mind physical labor. She sent me this text:

Mom.

Mom.

Mom.

Look what I got.

Yes, an old broom

Now, my daughter and I will bless this broom as part of her spiritual journey. A witch’s broom.

And finally, this one isn’t from today, but…

5. I found these jars in the garage. And they are really pretty.

That’s all I need to find joy.