Does the pandemic have a fun side?

Sometimes I am reminded of my age— when I think of those summers of my girlhood circa the 1980s, when Pennsylvania experienced temperatures that averaged in the high seventies/low eighties and for about 2 weeks every August a heat wave of around 85 degrees.

It also snowed a lot more, and I can’t say I miss that.

Now I won’t be naive enough to suggest this pandemic has been fun. Some people have gotten seriously ill, others have died. Luckily in my circle, those who contracted Covid-19 survived and none ended up in the hospital.

But as I said in the beginning of the pandemic, the Coronavirus has forced us to look at our health system, our purchasing habits, our supply chains, what we need and what we don’t. I have found a more relaxed pace of life, and while I have lost my job, I have found some inner truths that bring me hope. Perhaps that is where my naïveté lies.

Yesterday, I had a business meeting with my first client as a partner in Thrive Public Relations. Thrive is the brainchild of a friend— who has been searching for someone with media, print and editorial experience to complement his digital marketing, strategy and networking expertise. I have agreed to help him, and hopefully this will lead to some paying work that could help keep me afloat and allow me to rebuild my career portfolio.

I spent much of the last year as a grant writer, and would love to highlight some current public relations work to augment my grant writing potential.

So I was asked to attend a business lunch at Sogo Asian Fusion yesterday in one of my favorite environs, downtown Easton. I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the 95 degree heat, dining on the patio. It felt lovely to build an outfit, put on make up and head into the world.

Then later that evening, my propensity for stress-related binge-eating led to me eating most of a jar of “trail mix” — I put that in quotes because it had walnuts and almonds but was mostly butterscotch and white chocolate chips— that my blind friend Nancy gave me for Christmas. I had it on my desk at work and it was one of my possessions that Mr. Accordion drove to my house.

The teenager doesn’t like almonds. So she gave them all to me.

And then my daughter cornered me. She started reciting old bits from Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians (from the golden age of the early 1990s, before I graduated high school and Nirvana changed the world).

Finally she got tired of her delivery falling flat and we spent an hour watching Brian Regan clips from YouTube on my phone. I grabbed a Diet Coke and finished the rest of the vanilla vodka from County Seat Spirits.

The teenager’s father, my husband of 20-years whom I separated from last summer, does not like stand-up comedy. But a good stand-up comic (like Regan, or Trevor Noah, or for those who have thicker skin and/or less sensitivities Denis Leary and George Carlin), can lift my darkest spirits. So I love the fact that our daughter inherited my taste in comedy.

And when I got up this morning, as mundane life started to overwhelm me with chores and commitments, Nan called.

The Mighty.com had published her piece on our summer picnic and shared it with Yahoo News. It features me, and the teenager, so I got to enjoy reading about my life.

You can read it here: Nan’s summer picnic article on Yahoo News

So maybe life doesn’t look the same as always, but the simple joys don’t really change.

A Daffy Charcoal BBQ

There are often silver linings to difficult situations, and that is true even when marriages end. Once upon a time, my husband and I were the couple that everyone thought would last forever and that expectation— and the shock I often see when I say we’ve split up after 20 years—makes the separation hard.

I still know everything I once loved about my husband, the teenager’s father, my first love. And I will always cherish those memories and I will miss those feelings we once had for each other. As I’m sure he has similar nostalgia and good-heartedness.

It was he who told me no matter what happened we would always be family.

And we will.

But there are some parts of this process that are uplifting. New beginnings. New traditions. No more compromising.

Ending family curses.

I mean that. You see, my household had a curse that involved grilling.

You see, every day time we tried to grill, it rained.

Today, I decided to grill. We have a couple of portable charcoal grills. I even sprung for the instant/match light charcoal.

But I decided to keep it vegetarian.

That way if I didn’t get everything cooked properly I didn’t have to worry about the internal temperature of meat.

And since I paid for about ten years of Girl Scout summer camp for the teenager, she should be able to cook on a fire.

So first I weeded the yard and cleaned up the grill.

Got the hose and some Brillo pads.

And the teenager reassembled the grill (and we lost some nuts and bolts— oops). I wrapped a sweet potato in some foil to toss in the coals and also some apples.

I put carrots and fingerling potatoes in the basket.

And I planned on making some chickpea Bubba vegetarian burgers once the grill got good and hot. Sadly, the burgers were freezer-burned beyond a level that could be salvaged.

So the teenager got some chip steak and I put it on my cast iron griddle.

Now if you note in the photos that there are two grills, that’s because once my grill fell apart, we transferred the hot charcoal into the other grill.

But hey— at least it wasn’t raining.

To make matters interesting, the sweet potato was half-cooked. The teenager thought the potatoes and carrots too crunchy and charred. And the chip steak overcooked. But it was a meal we laughed a lot over and we didn’t starve.

The teenager used my small cast iron pot to make tea on the grill, which she will tell you was the best part of the meal. I got a little ice cream so our hot apples could go in it.

When the teenager would come home from Girl Scout camp, she would talk about sugared apples on the fire. I thought I’d surprise her and recreate a beloved summer childhood memory.

Except I didn’t know to core the apple. Obvious now. And we forgot to turn them so they were only hot on one side.

I really had a lovely evening barbecuing with the teenager at the helm of the fire, but sometimes I think my family life might be the script for the next movie in the National Lampoon franchise.

Another trip to Tucker

Remember earlier this week, I was super excited and impulse ordered a burger kit from Tucker Provisions?

Turns out I was burger kit #1, which I picked up today with a flat white and two slices of miso banana bread (which the teenager did not like, it was a tad intense).

I stopped for petrol on my way to Tucker. The last time I bought gas for the car was in late February. It cost $19 to fill my tank.

Tucker was quite crowded and they did a happy dance when I told them I bought burger kit #1.

The flat white reminded me of the coffee I drink it Europe, very strong and rich. I adore a good flat white.

I had to laugh when one of other customers said she “lost her head” and made 4 orders. It’s easy to do.

An average day

This will be a walk through my day today, a tad random, a tad sporadic.

This will include lots of silly animal posts.

But let’s start with my alarm at 6 a.m. I let myself sleep in because my rest has been irregular. I’ve had mild bouts of insomnia brought on by stress and hormones so it was hard to get out of bed.

A French Dream

I woke from a dream I don’t quite fully remember but I remember when the alarm sounded, I was dreaming that I had reached the end of some sort of tour, while on a trip, and was ordering alcoholic beverages for everyone in my party in French. I think I was the only person who spoke French. And I really was speaking French. I don’t usually speak French in dreams.

Perhaps this stems from my executive director eating a vegetable sandwich on a croissant at the networking event we attended last night.

Speaking of work, today started better and I feel a little less discombobulated about my job. I have an important report due Friday and three grants I need to have ready by Valentine’s Day.

Then the high school called.

An automated message informed me that my child was not in school. Text to teenager, who left at 7:15 with a heavy backpack. “You in school?”

No response.

(A sign that she is in school and not on her phone.)

“The school just called. They don’t think you’re there.”

She responds. “Sh*t. I must have forgotten to sign in.”

I tell her to fix that and to text me a photo from the school office holding today’s newspaper. She didn’t respond to my comment, though she did tell me she talked to the attendance office.

I had lunch with a friend who always lightens my spirit and has intelligent conversation. I’ve worked so many hours this week, I need to remember to make these connections.

And you always need those friends who give good hugs. A friend who bakes brownies is also good.

The afternoon went quickly and I decided my teenager and I would have a picnic. I took the leftover pizza from last night and a big old salad and we ate it on my bed with all the animals out, normally (to my chagrin) the kittens are locked in my teenager’s room.

Menagerie tales

So the kittens ran through the whole house, up and down the stairs, up and down the hall.

And, of course, Nala, the cockatoo, refused to eat salad in favor of pizza. Video of Nala eating pizza

Then I hung laundry and watched Opie, our 3-legged cat, play with the kittens.

Videos:

Misty attacks Opie

Opie and the kittens

My sore arm and the gym

I opted not to go to the gym as I’m still not sure I’ve recovered my strength. That fall scared me. A lot.

(See Grit and getting published on The Mighty.)

I have noticed my right arm has that vaguely sore feeling like after you get an inoculation. I couldn’t figure out why. Then I remembered, I fell on that arm. And I also noticed a bruise on my elbow. And a new bruise and scratch on my leg.

Finally

After teenager and I gathered the trash, I hopped in the shower. I found the teen “trapped” on my bed with an Oz on her back.

And now I’m drinking a double stiff mug of Traditional Medicinals Nighty Nite Valerian tea.