Peaceful Saturday

The weekend started on a rowdy note, after a difficult but not insurmountable week of difficulties with my physical body after two weeks of mandatory overtime at the Bizzy Hizzy.

I haven’t written much not because I lacked anything to say, but because my emotional exhaustion matched my physical fatigue.

The teens stayed up last night, and Mama found herself hungry around 11 pm so from my high-jacked-from-inbound-processing work station, I texted them:

You guys want pizza?

I let teen #1 order from Dominos as not much else is open that late at night, and somehow a $43 charge appears on my Amex. They do love their pizza.

I know at work I’m still slow compared to the people that normally work returns, processing and even QC but I felt good last night and my numbers did improve during the week.

I got home at 12:25 am and the pizza arrived at 12:30 am— which tasted amazing and I ate too much. It was perfectly accompanied by a cold Yuengling brought by my separated-from husband.

It was so nice to spend some time laughing and joking with the teens. Even if we were up past 2 am.

We took Minerva of the Roman Pride to the Cat Adoption Day at Petsmart hosted by the organization with whom we foster/volunteer: FURR. Minerva’s profile is here: Adopt Minerva. Her brother Mars and sister Vesta are at Petco.

Mars

On the way back, I stopped at Dunkin and we tried the Valentine’s pink velvet macchiato.

Pink Velvet Macchiato (includes Minerva) video review

I spent some time helping Teenager #1 gather sources for her AP English research paper on Anne Rice’s influence on the vampire legend. I can’t wait to see where she takes it. I know where I would.

I also bought some unusual liquor yesterday— so here are some cocktail ideas I put together.

  • Caramello Russian: 2 parts caramel vodka with 1 part crème de cacao
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Shot: 2 parts peanut butter whiskey, 1 part crème de cacao

Pizza at George’s

My teenagers and I have been craving pizza so I told them that if we survived this crazy first week of mandatory overtime at my job we would order pizza Saturday night.

Then I asked them if they’d rather go for pizza.

What a novel idea in this pandemic world.

I called them from the car as I drove home from the warehouse— because teenager #2 scrubbed up the dining room table to feed us something “sweet and yummy” procured via her actual maternal unit.

“Hey, guys, are we still going out for pizza?”

They had forgotten but teenagers are always ready to go out for pizza.

George’s is one of our local pizza joints, about a mile from the house. They have certain dishes, like their homemade vodka sauce (which you can order by the quart), which are satiating comfort foods. They had a 12” one-topping pizza for $6 that I nicknamed the “date night” pizza because it’s perfect for two people to share. They also have two sizes of cannoli which thrills teenager #1.

They once made me an entire pot of coffee because I ordered it late in the day and they offered to let me take the rest home.

I ordered, with the teenagers’ help, two of the little pizzas— one with green peppers and the other with black olives. We also ordered calamari, garlic knots and breaded cauliflower. Only I could get that many vegetables into pizza night.

After a very long day and an even longer week, it felt good to share this experience with the teens. Teen #2, at my goading, went out to the car and got $1 in quarters for each of them to use as they wished. I thought one of them would play pinball.

Teen #1 got one gumball and three bouncy balls.

Teen #2 chose expanding dinosaurs. They now reside in a cup of water at the bathroom sink.

24 Hours: Adieu to Boo

In my previous blog entry, I mentioned that the cats broke into my room and Peek-A-Boo, my yellow parakeet, was free-flying. Traditionally, I let the parakeets free-fly once or twice a week while supervised.

The routine has changed since kitten fostering, COVID-19, and budgie chicks— and poor Boo found herself in the small bird cage isolated from her friends.

So for her emotional health, I let her free fly more often, but as the stubborn bird she was… she hated going back into the tiny bird cage and wouldn’t go willingly until nightfall.

I would close my bedroom door and let her go.

Thursday night the cats got in before Boo had gotten into her cage. Now my older cats won’t bother her. The hunter in the family now has three legs and more desire to sleep under my bed than play drive to chase a bird. And the dumb one— he already had a run in with Boo and lost. She was in her cage and Oz must have gotten too close. She ripped out a piece of his nose and lip. It’s taken about a year to regrow.

Oz has no interest in the birds. The little jerks dive bomb him, usually with Boo as ringleader, should he wander into the room while she were out.

Now, the younger two (Misty and Fog) and the newcomers belonging to teenager #2 (Venom and TJ) are stereotypical cats.

Chances are that Oz opened the door so he and Opie could sleep uninterrupted in my room and the rest of the Pride took advantage of the situation and scared Boo. She probably couldn’t get to her cage and somehow got out the crack in the door. Or, as there was feathers in my room, one of the cats swept her out of the air and carried her out of my room.

Statistically all of these things seem unlikely to happen all at once but they did. Once Boo made it downstairs, the cats had the advantage and Boo lost quite a few feathers. Somewhere in this time she released some blood curdling screams that teenager #1 “never wants to hear again in [her] life” and teen came running to find Boo cornered between a stool and the wall in the kitchen.

Venom and Fog, the two smartest and food-focused cats we have, stood guard.

Poor Boo was exhausted and had a puncture wound in one wing. Teen #1 scooped her up, and she still had enough spunk to bite. I believe at that point she had neither energy nor feathers to fly.

Teen #1 returned the bird to her cage, covered it partially to give her security and monitored her. She stood quietly and puffy, but we supposed that was appropriate behavior for the circumstances. Then, teenager #1 called her dad and went to Dairy Queen to buy French fries for the birds. Which is a great treat for cockatoos, not sure if it works for budgies.

Friday morning, she didn’t sing when the sun came up. Nor did she rattle the bars of her cage. And now that I think about it, she didn’t harass me with impatience when I fed everyone else breakfast first.

Friday evening, teenager #2 commented that Boo wasn’t active nor visible. So that’s when teenager #1 discovered her dead on the bottom of the cage.

The last 24 hours of mandatory overtime this week

Wow — that ending up being a long story when I was trying to tell the executive summary. What I wanted to do was give a little insight into the last 24 hours of my mandatory over time at Stitch Fix. After a week of sleeping about 6 hours sleep a night, it was hell, but hey… we were all exhausted and in the same boat.

FRIDAY

10 pm— about 44 hours in to a 54 hour work week— I get a text from my daughter that it wasn’t a complete emergency but she needed to talk to me. Boo boo was dead.

The last two hours of the shift were exhausting.

12 am— I leave work with my gift of Stitch Fix gloves, which the nurse distributes with the joke of “next week they’ll hand out fingers.”

SATURDAY

1 am— Teenager #1 and I have a toast and some cookies and pickles to celebrate Boo’s life.

2 am— We head to bed. I have a recurrence of my Covid cough that keeps me up until about…

3 am— Finally sleep

8:15 am— The alarm goes off. Fuuuck. I’m so tired. The birds don’t like that I am leaving. I manage to feed the cats, get my ass dressed (and I look cute since I had planned my outfit in advance), and drink have a cup of coffee before putting on my shoes at 9.

9:15 am— In the car, listening to NPR.

9:30 am— I arrive. One of my supervisors comes in (she is also a 10 am start), puts her head down, and falls asleep on the table in the main break room.

9:55 am— the assignments post. I am QC Line 2, BA. What the hell is BA?

9:55 am— day shift is chugging away. We stand in line at the time clocks. One of our colleagues is way too perky. Another, in a dark way, makes the comment, “were you doing lines of coke?” We chuckle, but not because it’s funny but because we are tired. I suggest maybe that will be the next free snack in the breakroom. Inappropriate humor I know but my filter is damaged at this point. But we are all so tired. We are human. And I point out, if we don’t laugh, we will cry. Another colleague adds that if I cry she will cry.

9:57 am— I ask a supervisor for clarification on what BA is. She scowls and looks me up on her computer, “Line 2, EIGHT A.” And she points to Valley 1. I refrain from telling her that Stitch Fix needs a easier to read typeface.

10 am— I am on the back of the line. Last week, I spent most of my shifts also on Line 2 but in Valley 2 at table 2B. It seems a good spot for me. In the front of the line. Only one table in front of me. And that person behaves as a peer supervisor. I like watching her QC her boxes, audit boxes, fix problems brought to her by the person who puts the styling cards in the boxes (whom I can also see), and doing tasks on the computer I don’t recognize or understand.

At 2-2B, the line is on my left. I have mastered how to organize my table. At 2-8A, the line is on my right and now I am completely out of sorts. I am in the back of the line which means I have to be very forceful pushing my boxes up the line.

As someone who can’t even bowl straight and has never played shuffle board I suck at this too. Another aspect of QC that doesn’t fall in my natural skill set.

12 pm— no one seems to be going on break. Day shift delivers the pick carts with 4 boxes on top instead of the regular 8. The people in this Valley all speak Spanish and yell back and forth at each other. I have been stationed in what appears to be the Spanish party line. My times suck.

12:15 pm— a colleague from my shift informs me, after I take the wrong first break, that meal will be at 3 pm and last break is 5 pm. I’m already hungry so that kinda stinks but the end of the day will move quickly. The fingerless gloves make my hands feel better. I brought my Stitch Fix water bottle but the straw is bent and it won’t get liquid from the bottom.

1:30 pm— my Valley mates leave. Peers from my shift take their place. People I know! People that speak my language! People who do tasks the way I do them! (Man those subtle differences between the shifts are disorienting.)

3 pm— day shift appears to be gone now. We stare out the windows at the light outside in shock. A supervisor, the one who had a rubber chicken on an earlier night and started at 8 am, threatens to blacken them out to make us more comfortable. We have a good laugh.

3:27 pm— I head to the restroom. I stop first at the water bottle refill station. It is filtered and fully automatic so it senses when my water bottle is there. I get so excited I want to tell my friend Gayle. I wind the lid onto the bottle, some how trip on a wrinkle in the rug and end up falling onto the floor with a bang to my left knee and punching the electrical box with my left hand. I use the restroom, wash my hands and realize I will need to see the nurse so I don’t bleed on the clothes.

3:31 pm— I clock in and visit the nurse, who is not my favorite nurse. I explain what happened and despite my assurance that this will not become a workmen’s comp claim has to create an incident report. The clumsy, exhausted employee with cerebral palsy tripped. That is all.

3:37 pm— back to my table. Without thinking, I finished my morning seltzer, drank a V8 Energy Drink (the kiwi strawberry which tasted like a 50 calorie Snapple with vitamins. Love it), and consumed a “cup o noodles” on my meal. This will be important later as I will soon very badly need to urinate.

5 pm— I need to pee. Break. I need to pee. Bathroom is being cleaned. Someone senior to me heads to the office where there are two single seat bathrooms. The plant manager suggests we try the bathroom 750 steps across the warehouse.

5:10 pm— I return to my station. This day needs to end.

6:25 pm— I finish my last fix. My times still suck. I want to cry. I need to decompress. My times still suck. I feel inadequate and guilty. But hey I’m done.

6:34 pm— I am in my car. Going home to my teens. Teen #2 has a yummy surprise. I promised them pizza at George’s Pizza. We also promised to start The History of Swear Words on Netflix. More on that in the next post.

10 pm— I will be in bed!

Snow Shenanigans

Greetings from day 9 or 10 of my Covid life. We had a pretty sizable snowstorm yesterday that reminded me of my childhood.

If you look carefully in that first picture you’ll see a cute little Nissan 4-door. It had North Carolina plates and like a real Southern Belle the owner tried to drive over all the snow.

My teens are now out back shoveling the garage and I’ve exhausted myself loading the dishwasher. My main Covid symptom today is extreme dizziness. I’m sick of every beverage I’ve been drinking — 1-2 liters of seltzer a day, 32 to 64 ounces of herbal tea and 1-2 cups of coffee.

And while my appetite is fine, I have at least one bowl of soup a day so I can get even more liquid.

Yesterday the teenager asked her dad to bring me a good old-fashioned NY style pizza which I ate for lunch, dinner, midnight snack and breakfast.

The teenager also asked me to record different cats’ reactions to the snow.

Misty: Misty fights the snow and Misty goes for a walk in the snow

Opie: Opie says no to snow

Vale: Vale explores snow (to apply to adopt Vale— visit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Vale’s adoption page)

Fog: Fog in snow

Venom et al: Swarming the snow

In other fun news, the Roman Pride explored the snow from the safe confines of their room: Fosters try snow

And if you’re curious how the Romans are progressing— Romans in the morning

Hopefully these cute tuxedoes will be ready to adopt soon.

And Loki of the Norse Pride acts like a little puppy: Loki plays with the cockatoo (to apply to adopt Loki… Loki’s adoption page

Kittens, craziness and the end of my first two weeks at StitchFix Bizzy Hizzy

So tonight I finished my first two weeks at the Bethlehem warehouse of StitchFix, or the Bizzy Hizzy as they call it. I am still fascinated by the logistics of the warehouse and how well it works.

I reached 128 again tonight in my picking, which considering it looked like I hit 80 before my meal is both good and disappointing. I think I would have hit 140 had I not been stationed in W most of the night. Between the physical distance between that section and the “garage,” about 750 steps, I lost a good four minutes with every cart. That adds up to an hour over the course of the night so yes my math is correct.

This job requires so much walking— about 21,000 steps tonight—that my calves, thighs, feet and butt all burned by the end of the night but it’s the “agony” of muscles that haven’t seen that kind of action in a long time.

I do love seeing what goes in each fix and the fact that I work alone and can compete against my own performance pleases me.

I even got to visit the employee store tonight— where dresses and pants are $10, tops are $5 and you can buy five items. I bought some Christmas presents for the teenager. And a Karl Lagerfeld Paris polka dot sleeveless blouse and 1822 denim ankle skinny jeans in acid-washed camo for myself.

As close to Chanel as I will ever get

The teenager ordered Dominos at midnight so we could all— me, the cockatoo, teenager #1 and teenager #2— could have a pizza party.

That feels like a great start to the weekend.

This afternoon, teenager #1 got a haircut and bleached her hair. While out with her dad, they stopped at our foster godmother’s house to pick up a spare 18-pound turkey she had. Now it looks like I’ll be having some friends over for a turkey meal on Sunday. It will be my first attempt at making a turkey.

Meanwhile, the ringworm which originated with Hermes what feels like months ago has not only spread to both other litters of foster kittens but two of our personal cats.

Speaking of cats… teenager #1 took this video of Jupiter from the Roman Pride and within the first 24 hours on YouTube it had 622 views. YouTube: Hello Jupiter

Happy Fluffy Day

Happy Friday, my faithful and potentially new readers!

I started today somehow determine to clean my room and perform the weekly maintenance on my roomba that should have been done at least three months ago.

That took a lot of time and energy, especially since my rib is still bothering me from my fall last Friday. This is one of the many things that keeps life spicy when you have cerebral palsy.

But the unseasonably warm weather and everything fluffy kept me happy amidst my chores.

Then my silly Goffins cockatoo, Nala, decided to dive into her water bowl.

Silly bird

I received a text from one of my neighbors inviting me over for coffee, so I took my filthy self, my quince jelly and my last two English muffins and enjoyed some chit chatting with my other half (she owns the other half of my double). And Buddy, her dog, was handsome as always.

Buddy

Then I heard from another neighbor, Sobaka’s mom, that “cookie walk” could be scheduled for about 11:15. Cookie walk is a trip around the neighborhood where we visit with another neighbor’s mom and step dad as we collect treats for the dog.

We decided to do errands together with me as chauffeur. After a trip to the ever amazing Carmelcorn in downtown Easton (I did not go in— she who has a BMI of almost 27 and no income does not need candy), we finished our outing with a stop to CVS where I needed to grab my prescription and some food deals.

I came home and made some DiGiorno frozen pizza. Teenager #1 and I agree that the stuffed crust on the stuffed crust DiGiorno was delicious, but the pizza was lackluster. The four cheese DiGiorno was incredible.

As if that wasn’t enough goodness from today, I received a text from Zeus and Apollo’s new mom. She says they are doing well. And sent photos!

She has no idea how happy her text made me. This is some of what she had to say:

I wanted to tell you these little kitties are amazing. They are fearless even around our other kitties. So far everyone seems to be getting along , they are very curious about each other. The little ones are still timid to get pets but took treats and played.

Owning up and ripping Sheetz a new one

First off, before I even start this entry let me give my poor customer service representative Justin a shout out for his professionalism, patience and calm.

Second, before I get too far let me admit that I have now reached my heaviest ever weight, about ten pounds heavier than my natural set point with no muscle tone left. Push-ups, planks and heel-touch crunches used to be my jam– I could do 20 push-ups, a sixty-second plank and 100 heel touches without feeling tired or compromised.

At one point I had visible abdominal muscles, then I had abdominal muscles like stone beneath a layer of fat. That is now done. I struggle to walk up hill. I have no muscle tone. Where I once used 25-pound dumbbells for my bicep curls, I now huff and puff with ten.

This past year has been cruel.

This is the owning up portion of today’s blog. Yesterday, I woke up exhausted and hot but still motivated myself to do an ab workout. But then, I didn’t quite meet my step goal. And ate half a Papa John’s pizza and an order of their jalapeno popper bread bites. I meant to share them with the teenager but they were way too spicy. And I ate them all, even though they were kinda gross.

Jalapeño popper bread bites

I blame Dominos for the pizza binge as they sent me a push notification that they had two new pizzas–chicken taco and cheeseburger–but both turned out to sound boring and the $5.99 promotion seemed unavailable so rather than order my free two topping I spent $26 at Papa Johns.

The Zesty Italian or Tangy Italian, or whatever pie it was, was delicious in that trashy kind of way (though I hate Papa John’s tomato sauce I am reminded now). And the meal has led to a type of intestinal distress I don’t normally experience. I also gained 3 pounds.

The teenager tells me the pizza was good, but Dominos is better in her adolescent opinion.

Speaking of adolescent behavior, the teenager went back-to-school shopping with the paternal grandparents. She wanted a milkshake from Sheetz for lunch and her grandparents vetoed that and took her to a diner she does not like. I will withhold the name here as it is a fairly popular spot.

So she came home a little upset over the meal situation as she had just had “the worst quesadilla of my life.” She pined for that milkshake as it is 90+ degrees outside and she has marching band tonight.

“Mom,” she said. “If you buy me a milkshake at Sheetz, I won’t eat anything else today.”

I told her to throw in some extra chores and we could talk. She agreed. I downloaded the Sheetz app as these days, I don’t go anywhere without looking for coupons. I went to create my Sheetz account. Now, my husband has the Sheetz card. I have the Sheetz key ring.

The Sheetz card has a security code that the key ring does not.

You need the security card. The app forces me to call customer service.

Customer service tells me I have to find my security code, have my husband call them and say it’s okay, or use the general random Sheetz card.

To which I say, “If I use a random card, I won’t get the points. Isn’t that the point of the loyalty app?”

I launch into a fiery tirade. Because our Sheetz card/account is in my husband’s name, I cannot log into the Sheetz app. I find it odd that a loyalty app would have such strict security. I merely want to look for coupons and then go buy my daughter a milkshake.

Well, poor talented and patient Justin the Customer Service rep tells me, some people have credit card information in the app.

Yes, I say, but this one does not, because this account has never downloaded the app. So it does not have anything in it. I added that I can tell him my husband’s birthday and his social security number and probably the password he used if we ever tried to set up an online account. But he still needs my husband’s permission.

So I tell him that I refinanced my car over the phone the other day, and that I stayed on the line while the previous loan holder talked to my new financer. That I gave them my permission to share my account information with my new bank.

If I can do that over the phone, I should be able to buy a damn milkshake for my kid.

As a compromise, he called my husband at work and asked if he was allowed to give me access to our Sheetz loyalty account. My husband, of course, said yes.

He told the teenager via text that the customer service people didn’t verify his identity. They asked for no proof that he was indeed my husband.

Now let me add that if I were vindictive, because after all my husband and I have been separated for 14 months, why would I go to the trouble to steal his Sheetz loyalty number which is 16 digits, hack into his account, and run up his credit card with Sheetz purchases? Perhaps I would go squander his non-existent stockpile of reward points.

The app apprised me that we had 523 loyalty reward points and Sheetz requires 500 for a free regular milkshake.

I bought myself a pretzel with nacho cheese sauce and while the cheese sauce had a barely perceptible layer of spice to it, it had no flavor whatsoever.

The teenager enjoyed her milkshake.

Their mobile order system is very convenient.

Casual Update

There’s so much good activity in my life right now — I’ve been too busy to catch everyone up.

  • My last day at work is tomorrow and my colleague, Mr. Accordion, is coming over tonight.
  • I have been working hard publicizing Aspire to Autonomy’s upcoming events, and they have given me the title of Communications Director. I am working with a fantastic intern on public relations and I think, I hope, she is having fun.
  • Gayle, the teenager and I, went for a nice walk in Easton Cemetery last night. Every time I go up there I find more cool things!
  • Gayle, the teenager and I went to Porter’s Pub last night after the walk and they let me eat all the “stinky cheese.” Gayle bought me a very delicious salted caramel chocolate porter from Saucony Creek. To celebrate new beginnings!
  • I cashed in my free medium 2-topping pizza from Dominos.
  • I’ve been making Nala puzzles every morning to try and keep her busy.
  • We found someone that can get Mama cat spayed for free. (Did I mention we were out on a walk and our kittens’ mama came to us and we brought her home. She’s pregnant. Again.) We thought the organization would let us foster her and her kittens until they found homes… but now we’re being told they might keep her. So we are a tad sad.
  • And for multiple days in a row I have made 10,000 or more steps a day!

Lavender retrospective

I’ve tried to incorporate the spirit of my “staycation” two weeks ago into my everyday life. I have tried to embrace a more carefree joie de vivre.

I think to some extent it is working.

Scrolling through my blog feed, I see lots of random home-cooked meals, even more pizzas and fast food… I mean, what crazy mood swing prompted me to eat TWO blizzards from DQ in one night???

My dental work on Wednesday was a huge success and has prompted such a physical and emotional relief— because when you’re slowly paying off more than a thousand dollars in dental bills and something is not right, it drains you.

It reminds me, as life often does, that our struggles never really end. The only destination in this journey is death, regardless of what milestones we try to hit along the way.

Some days it’s harder to get out of bed than others, but hopefully there is something for all of us to appreciate and something we can do for the world.

I opened my Lock Keeper Gin from County Seat Spirits last night. Mixed a shot of so with equal parts carbonated water and a light French lavender soda.

Gin by itself has a clean but bitter taste, in my opinion, with the Lock Keeper Gin bursting with a strong citrus aftertaste. The light blend of lavender gave the gin just enough sweetness to be undetectable in my cocktail. I find gin way smoother and easy to mix than vodka, which I know is an unpopular opinion.

Summer “picnic”

I am in love with the lemonade lavender gin cocktail from County Seat Spirits. So light and refreshing. I’ve always loved lavender and I’d forgotten my fondness for gin.

Some would say that make me an old woman.

I ordered the spinach feta speciality pizza from Dominos and had them swap the provolone and onions for hot sauce and chicken.

I sprinkled the pizza with purple pepper and crushed red pepper and I must say it is heavenly.