Saturday morning silly

First, let me say— hats off to the legendary Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Her time on the Supreme Court, her legacy and the documentary film on her life, RBG, have touched millions of people— male and female—who may or may not know how her thoughts and actions have influenced their lives.

My posting lately has been inconsistent because I have been finishing some grants and the annual report for ASPIRE to Autonomy, Inc. The former I must give credit to my amazing interns Kayla and Sarah, and the latter is in the hands of my talented graphic designer (and partner in crime) Gayle.

Who else would take it in stride when I jokingly send photos like this (below) for the annual report and understand my hastily scrawled notes?

In the midst of it all, I’m still looking for a job, dealing with paperwork, adapting to hybrid school and ever present teenagers (who truly bring laughter and vibrancy into my life), socializing the foster kittens, developing a routine for the sassy cockatoo, battling the teen-and-pet laundry mountain, and collecting hospital bills. And poorly trying to find time and energy to improve my own health and return to weight training.

But this is a Saturday Silly Post!

So random sillies…

Yesterday Darnell popped over to finalize some projects for ASPIRE. He got hungry for a sandwich so I recommended my non-downtown spot. If you are in downtown Easton, the best spot for a sandwich is Josie’s New York Deli.

But when you’re not downtown, the place to go for a sandwich is Park Avenue Market. But they are slow. It takes them forever to make a hoagie. But they are pieces of art.

Darnell had his mind blown by their Dietz and Watson Bacon Lovers Turkey Breast and Bacon Lovers cheddar.

I tried the seafood salad with the dill havarti and shared it with the teenager. But the teenager was in a bit of an impatient frenzy because her Universal Yums box from Colombia came. So, Darnell was kind enough to film our unboxing video.

Colombia Universal Yums unboxing

In addition, I got my Ipsy bag, which had a tiny Tarte mascara (the cutest mascara I’ve ever seen), some color correction crème, and a day-to-night eyeshadow palette very similar to my all time favorite but darker shades so I offered that to the teenager. Her skin tone is darker than mine and I thought it would suit her well.

I’m really tempted to upgrade to the Glam Bag Plus.

And finally, on Thursday, my creative friend Joan came over and asked Nan to join us, so when I went to get Nan we went to Dunkin Donuts since the weather has changed to brisk Autumn. And we got her opinion on the new stuffed bagel minis.

Nan’s review: Nan’s review of stuffed bagel minis

And if you missed the teenager and I in our earlier review: New Dunkin stuffed bagel minis

Remember folks— the fun is in the little things.

Communication and Creative Language

Last night, some of the team at ASPIRE to Autonomy Inc — myself, my amazing intern Sarah, and one of our founders, Amber— decided to support The YWCA of Bethlehem and improve our communication skills by attending the YW’s Yes! Empowerment Series sponsored by Provident Bank Foundation.

I had a great time and it sounded like my colleagues were having fun at this virtual workshop on building powerful communication skills.

The workshop was facilitated by Danielle Adams of QueenSuite Coaching. I enjoyed her style and approach as she deftly encouraged us to write our intentions, guided us through an exercise in drawing what we hear, and discussed listening, speaking and leading styles and how they intersect.

It reminded me of a story I like to tell— even though my husband and I know each other down to the minutest detail, we struggle to communicate. Our brains are much too different. So I can’t do projects with him.

Let’s say we were designing a logo. I could write specific instructions of what I wanted and when he finished it would not even resemble what I had in my head.

I can send the same exact directions to my friend Gayle, yes the same Gayle of walking adventures, and she will transform it into my vision.

Painlessly.

It happened again today as we are working together on ASPIRE’s annual report. I had some quirky ideas so I was nervous sending them to design. And then Darnell asked if Gayle could help.

I was ecstatic when he asked because I needed her. I knew she would be faster and give clean design on a short time frame.

And she sent me her first days’ progress— I’m giddy.

It’s been a long time since I had the freedom to implement my ideas.

And so far, I think Darnell is pleased too.

Anyway— point is— some people struggle to work together effectively and it’s not because one party is “wrong” or “inept” or “stubborn” or “hostile,” sometimes people have different styles and their brains don’t mesh.

What matters is how we respond to those difficulties.

Those days

Today was one of those days where I got a variety of outstanding projects done, slept better than usual, barely got any steps in and felt like I made an impact working on Aspire to Autonomy’s annual report for 2019-2020.

As I’ve mentioned it’s an exciting time to be part of this team and the interns working in my department bring so much enthusiasm and knowledge to the table that it is a joy to mentor them.

I even practiced my chopstick skills with the teenager’s tutelage so I would embarrass myself less at future sushi meetings. We used old toothbrushes and I could only master the “cheater” method.

The teenager rescued Buddy (the dog next door) from an empty house as his human has been spending a lot of time away from home.

It was a dreary day today— the weather hospitably cool— but my mood shifted later in the day, I think due to not eating enough.

I found myself irritable over things I have no right to be irritable about.

Large sodas at Wendy’s require a life jacket

I drove the teenager to marching band and then sneaked to Wendy’s for a vanilla Frostyccino and since they had a coupon for a $1 soft drink I got my neighbor a Diet Coke.

Of course, I already got a $2 iced coffee from Dunkin’ today. Buddy joined us for the ride and Darnell joined us for coffee.

So that means I’ve had three cups of coffee today.

But there is something soothing about being alone in the car. Even the long drive thru line wasn’t a bother. It allowed me to sit quietly and reflect, and to people-watch.

Sometimes a peaceful moment comes from what otherwise might be an annoyance.

PEEC

A few weeks ago Gayle and I proposed to the teenager going to Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) www.peec.org for their waterfall tour.

The July date didn’t quite mesh with our schedules so we headed up today.

17,000 steps later…

Gayle has some great stories from our day on her blog: “Fat Girl Walking” at PEEC

I don’t really have much to say other than:

  • The parks/trails seemed so crowded and people were from out of state, which is fine, but they seemed to be hanging out more than hiking.
  • A hiking guide’s idea of a mile is shorter than mine.
  • If land is designated as National Recreation Area, people can hunt and fish on that property. You cannot hunt or fish in a National Park.
  • Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel are nearly identical. Mountain Laurel grows in high elevations and has leaves smaller than the palm of your hand. If the leaves are bigger than your hand, it is a rhododendron.
  • Burning poison ivy and breathing the fumes can give you internal poison ivy.

Our tour guides had some interesting knowledge of the area; and our favorite had an eclectic post-college experience of accepting Americorps posts all over the country. She apparently had extraordinary prowess with a chain saw.

We learned a lot about plants, both native and invasive; trees and their insect diseases; and history— they even discussed how this area was shaped by the proposed Tock’s Island Dam project.

I find the Tock’s Island Dam controversy fascinating. Because the land was taken by eminent domain and not originally destined for National Park use, the people who had their homes seized did not have much time to move. So much debris was left behind but nothing can be removed from a National Park.

These high school students did a great job on this brief documentary explaining the project.

Student Documentary on Tock’s Island Dam

The official park service web page on Tock’s Island Dam

What is even more fascinating is that without the proposed Tock’s Island Dam, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area would not exist as it does today and it wouldn’t be as expansive. Even one of the biggest anti-Tock’s dam activists says that the process of condemning those homes and entire towns for the dam protected the area from future development.

I grew up on the Delaware River. Much downstream from where we were today, at the start of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. So hearing about “Hurricane Diane,” “the (19)’55 flood,” etc., was like listening to legends about my own history, as if the river were my blood.

My bedroom faced the river, and when I find myself someone where I can hear water washing against the shore in the lazy way that river does, I close my eyes and can revisit some of the best memories of my childhood.

And of course no 65 minute road trip is complete without some sites on the road:

Adoption nerves

We received a text Wednesday night.

Artemis has received an approved adoption application. Our first foster litter may be losing a member today as he moves to his FURRever home. Today at 1:30, Artemis meets his potential new family at PetSmart, as part of an in-store adoption event.

Does this mean we might never see him again? Does this mean he might never see his siblings again?

This little gent, and his siblings, have brought so much love and joy into our lives— kittens are such magnificent creatures to be around.

So I just had to take a minute to post, and remind everyone to adopt don’t shop. That my home might be a little quieter today and Artemis and his siblings might be lost without each other… but hopefully he will have much love in his new family. Though really, two kittens from the same litter are like having one cat in two halves— if you are new to cat world consider that.

Why I Aspire

It’s been an exciting week for Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., and an even more exciting Friday night!

As early as Monday, the communications team at Aspire will be sending out a press release talking about all of this excitement. If you are reading this, you are getting a taste of what the media will learn Monday.

On Monday, our new team of 6+ social work interns from the graduate programs of Kutztown and Marywood universities started work with Aspire. So it’s great to have new people with new energy and new voices.

In the middle of the week, as Darnell and I were trying to put the finishing touches on the organization’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, Amber let us know that Northampton County had approved Aspire’s grant application for more than $8,000 to provide masks and hand sanitizer to the underserved and unsheltered.

Today, Aspire learned that Just Born has awarded the Community Intervention Service pilot program a $2,500 grant.

On top of all of this, Aspire had the opportunity to host a hot meal distribution of quality vegetarian Indian food from Aman’s Artisanal Indian Cuisine on Northampton Street in downtown Easton.

Aman’s worked with Lehigh Valley Sikhs to pay for and prepare these generous meals that Aspire distributed to the elderly, disabled and other underserved individuals identified as part of the Communities Impacting Communities program, primarily in West Ward, Easton, but also in Wilson borough.

Bulk meal distributions happened at Third Street Alliance for Women and Children and other Lehigh Valley non-profits. I helped distribute some meals at Third Street, with teenager in tow, and delivered others to families in my own neighborhood who I know have been furloughed since the beginning of the pandemic.

As I was leaving, Darnell gave me one of the single person bags to give to my blind, senior citizen friend, Nan.

I hadn’t even thought about her— her fixed income, her disability, her reliance on friends for what she needs, and her age. To me, she’s just my good friend and partner in crime. I was touched that Darnell remembered Nan and wanted the outreach to help her too.

This is why I Aspire—the Lehigh Valley is one of the most populated regions in the state. Its transportation infrastructure makes every other region of the country super accessible. It has proximity to New York City, Philadelphia and the New Jersey shipping ports.

Human trafficking happens here and it may not look like what you expect it to look like.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery.

Aspire to Autonomy wants to find trafficking victims and give them the tools and support they need to rebuild an independent life. But they are forward-thinking and broad-reaching and grassroots in their vision.

They celebrated their second anniversary in July and they are gaining momentum every day.

Their anti-trafficking vision also helps strengthen our communities and forges partnerships and connections that hopefully will improve life for every underserved citizen. Because traffickers prey on the vulnerable, and if we strengthen our bonds in our neighborhoods, traffickers won’t have a place to hide. Or a place to hunt.

This is Why I Aspire. Anti-trafficking may sound like a niche, but helping our neighbors is not.

So, as I wrote this, Nan finished her first meal of the goodies from Aman’s that I brought her. As a blind person, she couldn’t quite recall what everything was but she offered strong reviews of the deliciousness.

She had some of the “cross between vegetable soup and vegetarian chili” (lentil and black bean curry) and loved the “cucumber salad” (cucumber salad with chick peas) and had to dip a spoon in the “fruity pudding” (sweet pudding). She reports that the individual bag is at least two meals, but the cucumber salad probably won’t last the night.

She confirmed that she has never had Indian food before and that she is now a fan.

And she asked me—after making me promise to thank Darnell, “is it okay to have Indian food for breakfast?”

Animals and astrology

Today was hard. In ways I didn’t expect.

It didn’t start that way as it started with all five FURR kittens from the Greek Pride coming to eat at the same time!!!

Starting with the black cat and moving clockwise: Hades, Apollo (you can’t see his head), Zeus, Hermes (not quite at the bowl) and Artemis

That was super exciting as the exclamation points denote.

I indulged in the self-care that usually helps, but instead I feel worse. Went for a walk. Still in a bad mood. But Sobaka followed me home and refused to leave my side.

So I indulged in stress eating, and that didn’t help.

My horoscope didn’t help as several different astrology sites, including my favorite astrology app Co-Star, warned me things wouldn’t be easy.

Of course, there has to be a reference to Fire/Mars. A friend I recently alienated is a Fire sign and oh so Mars.

So I tried retail therapy— and this was a totally stupid move because:

  1. I don’t have any income right now and my savings will only cover two months living expenses.
  2. I paused my Ipsy subscription yet I ordered cosmetics.
  3. I not only ordered cosmetics but I ordered Goth cosmetics so I’m probably not going to be able to pull off the look.

But in my defense, I ordered $60 worth of cosmetics, but found a 20% off discount code, and paid $5 shipping for a total of about $55. And I qualified for a $5 American Express statement credit for supporting small business.

I sent the teenager this photo to select a red lipstick for herself

That merely made me feel guilty.

And, as my last effort to revive my spirits, I walked down to Darnell’s house for a business meeting— both for Thrive Public Relations and for Aspire to Autonomy.

I brought the teenager along to meet The Household Dog.

Here is the two of them: The teenager and Baby Boy (video)

The energy of working with Darnell, Amber and Melanie (all members of the Aspire team) revived my energy. Darnell even invited me to stay for a fish sandwich but the teenager needed me to come home and med the kittens of our pride.

Then, she left for her dad’s and I came upstairs to share dinner with my cockatoo, Nala. She was super bratty and bitey so I put her on the floor. I was losing my temper.

And she walked to the budgie cage. Climbed it. Pulled out the newspaper on the bottom of the cage…

And pooped!

I’m about to continue on with my evening, but I had to give the animals credit for making me smile.

Quiet moment

Can a day or a week be hectic and full of emptiness at the same time?

Of course it can. I certainly know that.

I’ve spent the last couple days balancing household chores, some obligations I volunteered to do, medical appointments and animals.

I really want a beer or a glass of wine.

I’m technically overweight now — my BMI is 25

But I am pleased with some of the progress I made on projects, primarily submitting an idea for a virtual book fair fundraiser for Mary Meuser Memorial Library (which the committee has responded very favorably to) and sorting through some old little girls’ clothes from the attic.

So in the midst of everything I noticed my front garden is a mass of nettles.

I pulled a bunch of weeds when I got home from the hospital but they grow faster than I can yank them out.

But then I saw this:

One of my roses

My roses need to be trimmed. Another casualty of my hospital stay. But I needed this glimpse of beauty.

And I cherish it.

In other news, I tried a stroopwaffel from Lidl. They were impressively gooey even without the obligatory coffee to warm the caramel inside.

The disappointing nature of the human race

The pandemic. Unemployment. And a host of social issues that start with our federal government and cascade down to our neighborhoods.

It sounds like I have a bowling alley above my kitchen, and the teenager’s bedroom smells like an animal shelter— both due to the five kittens we are fostering on behalf of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. (See their web site here.)

Our Artemis might be listed for adoption soon.

One of my peers working with FURR posted to Facebook this morning about some of the new additions to the FURR family— including two adult, declawed cats left behind when their owners moved.

It always irks me when people desert their pets when they move, and it’s bad enough when they take their pets to the animal shelter, but to just leave cats to fend for themselves… well, that is a not-nice human being.

And to find out these cats were declawed tells me the owners invested in these animals at some point probably to protect their furniture annoys me even more.

Declawing, in my opinion, is a cruel surgery. And to do that to your cat and then not even bother to take it with you when you move… I can’t even fathom!

But then I’m the one that not only took in five kittens to help get them ready for homes, but keeps working to socialize the one that bit me and sent to to the hospital for a lovely 4-day, 3-night spa vacation.

I even made sure the kitten that bit me got her next dose of medicine before I went to the ER.

Speaking of which, my family doctor is very happy with the care I received and as of 10 a.m. this morning, the infamous cat bite looks like this:

Rant over.

If you bring a pet into your home or feed a stray, be ready for the responsibility of that animal’s life.

Meet the Greek Pride

Today the teenager and I picked up a litter of five kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

More info on the organization here: FURR

These kittens are all very timid, although one is more friendly and outgoing than the other. We will be fostering them at least this week to socialize them before they get neutered and vetted.

So our mission is to make these critters lovable and teach them that people are nice.

You’re job is to help me find them homes and support FURR’s work.

Six months ago this little devil was trapped at the size of these babies.

Fog

He loves to be on the border of social gatherings but is still aloof. But he’s my buddy. He certainly is not up for adoption.

So some of my blog space will promote the journey of these kittens. The teenager has decided they will all receive Greek names. After the gods and goddesses.

If we continue to foster kittens, our beasts will all be deities.

This is us bringing them home: Coming out of the crate

The Greek Pride

This is the first action shot of them exploring: Exploring

Now, there are five of them. One black, which regardless of gender will be Hades. He/she is the most firmly planted out of sight under the shelf in the teenager’s loft.

There are two with socks, two without.

The friendliest one is Artemis, a female, with a white triangle on her brown nose.

The bravest one we have tentatively named Hermes, but the teenager won’t commit unless he/she is definitely a boy. “Hermes” is named for his/her speed. He/she has some recovery to do regarding his/her eye. “Hermes” also has socks but a fully white snout.

“Hermes” even has his own video: “Hermes”

That leaves the two with no socks, one of which has the cutest one dot on the tip of his/her tail. One of them is also the runt. Probably the one everyone else was sleeping on in the carrier. Now, some of these kittens have stunning silver eyes.

Remember these little Greek gods will be up for adoption soon. The $110 adoption fee includes all shots, neutering, deworming, flea medicine, AND microchip. And I can help you pick the best one for you/your family!

This is going to be a great group of kittens.