The plan: the teenager and I would head out after school today and meet my college roommate Curly for a belated Beltane dinner at a brewery in Harrisburg— approximately half way between our home and hers.
But in the pouring down rain, the accidents started to pile up (pun intended) and Curly would arrive at the Mill Works 30 minutes or more before we would.
And that would have us arriving in Harrisburg and at the brewery for Happy Hour.
So I suggested a mid-travel switch from Harrisburg to Hershey. And since we needed to agree on a coordinate before driving too much farther, I suggested Fuddruckers as we used to take the teenager there on road trips in her younger days and for some reason, she adores it.
We lingered there as long as we could trying to find something to do in the evening and in the rain. I found a couple cafes and a family amusement center with go-karts but it seemed something called the cocoabeanery was nearby so we headed there.
Which turned out to be Hershey Lodge.
And when I texted Sobaka’s mom that we ended up at Hershey Lodge, where she often stays for the state school board conference she asked if we could pick up her lotion. And sent us a photo.
We did some chatting over beverages in the lobby. I had a lavender latte. The cocoabeanery turned out to be the hotel’s breakfast room in the off hours. We got to watch many teens at their prom.
Curly and the teenager did some energy work, and invited me to join, but my vibrations freaked out the teen.
Author’s note: this post will contain some language I don’t usually use in my blog posts, probably only the word ‘bitch.’ But you’ve been warned
A few weeks ago, M (my friend from college and traveling companion for the last decade) made arrangements that I would come to Washington DC to deliver popcorn, give M a copy of my novel MANIPULATIONS (order here), discuss upcoming projects for Parisian Phoenix, and relax.
The hope was that my “day job” at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy would offer us voluntary time off between 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday night and that I might have off Monday.
I could arrive in D.C. late Friday night and stay until lunch time Monday.
Except on Wednesday, I was reminded I had a 9 a.m. doctor appointment Monday. But, it could easily be virtual. So no big.
But then we didn’t get out early Friday. And I didn’t have Monday off. But also my supervisor stopped by for an observation and despite spasming back muscles I performed at 96% and finished the night at 129 fixes, which is 99.2%. I could have hit 100, but I helped a colleague who is struggling to learn QC.
I arrived home very grumpy at 12:30 a.m., left my purse and suitcase in the car (with my toothbrush no less), and ran in the house to release Misty from his crate (the teenager forgot him) and put the dog to bed.
I took a shower and collapsed in bed naked as my alarm was set for 7:45 and it was 1:10 a.m. Now, M calls me crazy bitch (or CB for short) as I am prone to do things like drive to his house for dinner. And the idea of getting six hours sleep and heading to DC for a 24 hour visit is another crazy bitch move.
But then the cats starting fighting at 2 a.m. So now I’m super-annoyed, naked, and turning on my roomba to scare my personal cat Fog out of my room. He’s the asshole that scares the fosters.
Now I’m down to about five hours before I leave for DC.
At 7:45, my alarm goes off. I clean cat boxes, feed the birds, check food bowls, get dressed and leave the house by 8:15. I stop at Dunkin to grab a cold brew and try the new peanut butter cup flavor. They screwed up and gave me pumpkin. The teenager had purchased me candy — so I had Haribo berries for breakfast/ road trip fuel.
I was on the road by 8:30 a.m. Stopped at a rest stop outside Hershey around 10:30 a.m., then decided it wisest to stop outside the Baltimore loop in Hereford, Md., for gas. I ended up at an Exxon and I needed to pee, but my gut said this wasn’t the place.
But Carly Simon was singing You’re so vain on a loudspeaker at the creepy gas station. And there is a short story I wrote— that may be completely lost— where one of the main characters in my Fashion and Fiends horror book series gives his virginity to an older girl at a party. The character is Étienne d’Amille, the girl is Arlette (who makes an appearance in Manipulations), the year is 1973 (I think) and Arlette is singing You’re sovain when they meet.
I arrived in DC at noon and had no trouble finding parking despite youth soccer games less than a block from M’s house. City parking. During a soccer game.
Finally some good luck.
But PS— the popcorn was stale and nasty.
M ordered some chicken sandwiches and fries from Roaming Rooster. We ate, made coffee, changed into sweatpants and started to chat. Eventually I started editing manuscripts for Parisian Phoenix and M enjoyed several episodes of Dr. Pimple Popper.
M also reviewed my bloodwork, as he works in a medical lab.
Meanwhile his housemates, my Indian friends, couldn’t believe I drove all that way… to sit around and do nothing.
In the morning, we drank more coffee. I did some more work and we drove To Alexandria, Va., to visit the Mediterranean Bakery so M could get his fresh pita for the week and we had breakfast of Lebanese flatbread— one with cheeses and another with zaatar and labneh. We washed it down with mint Aryam yogurt drink. M informed me that if I mispronounce it, I will be saying “two testicles” in Arabic.
I purchased some goodies for the teenager (pita chips with zaatar, halva and dried kiwi) and some candy and chocolate covered espresso beans for the drive home. And some spices and harissa.
Then I had a cup of coffee and drove home. I left at 2:45 pm. I was in DC for 25 hours.
And on the way home, Spotify played Carly Simon’s Nobody does it better. That song came from a James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me. Étienne is also a huge Bond fan. Again, James Bond has a few appearances in Manipulations.
I “fixed” my roomba, had a therapy session that left me sobbing in my psychologist’s office, had an incredible workout (full body as I will be traveling this weekend, but we did a lot of work on hip mobility), and cooked.
The business cards for Parisian Phoenix came in. Thanks to my trusty business partner Gayle.
Perhaps the chaos of earlier this week is finally settling down.
So, last Saturday I got my regular Hungryroot order. And Tuesday was Purple Carrot. I wasn’t going to get a box from them this week but they had West African Peanut Stew on the menu.
And then I got a text that Green Chef was on the way.
I promptly canceled Green Chef so there would be no more surprises as they were my least favorite. But that box was on the way.
It arrived yesterday after I left for work. I received this message today.
I certainly hope there is no more food coming.
Because the teenager came down with an ear infection and has so much phlegm in her throat that she can’t swallow. But don’t worry she took some antibiotics and some DayQuil so she could enjoy a Hungryroot burger.
I prepared a bag of greens and a Green Chef meal for Gayle as I am supposed to go to DC this weekend and I can’t physically prepare it all. And M, my host, said I can’t bring it. The result— I now can say I pay my art director in groceries.
Purple Carrot has a $75 Thanksgiving box available. I ordered one.
And today I cooked:
Green Chef Mojito Cauliflower
Purple Carrot Buffalo-style tempeh and roasted sweet potatoes and garlic
But much to my chagrin— Purple Carrot swapped out the peanut stew for a grilled tofu meal.
From Gayle, after making her Green Chef meal.
I came home and just put everything in the fridge. Brown bag and all.
Pat looked at the recipe when she headed to the bathroom. She made vomiting noises. Not surprising.
I thought I remembered it saying 30 minutes. About 4:30, I started working on it. I didn’t look at the recipe earlier and didn’t realize it had two sides. I was overwhelmed when I saw all the instructions on the other side. I quickly realized that they were dummy proof and that made them longer.
I got the farro on and started the oven, then cut the squash and picked the tarragon. That was the most tedious part of the whole thing. That all went in the oven and I opened the chard. It was nasty. One leaf was probably okay. Glad you gave me other chard. I’m not a fan of raw chard so I wilted it. The nasty stuff went to the compost pile.
The rest of the prep was easy. By the time the farro and squash were done, the rest was too.
I made two portions. One for another day and one for supper. I did not put the apple on the leftover portion because it was already browning.
I was left with two large piles. One was compost and the other was plastic bags. So many bags. One said to pull off the label and recycle it. The rest had no numbers, no nothing so they went in the trash.
It was nice having all the ingredients and a recipe. It was fantastic having something different to eat.
I haven’t written in a while and I may keep this one skeletal.
I called out sick from work on Thursday and skipped my workout as I woke up in the same pain I had when I went to bed.
I thought I would rest in bed with my laptop and work more on the Parisian Phoenix website, my erotica collection, or even book four of the Fashion and Fiends series, Road Trip.
But instead I had my first Big Mac ever (which is especially odd since I worked my way through college at a McDonalds), ate too much candy and slept for 12 hours straight. The cats did not know what to make of that.
Are you curious how I responded to the Big Mac? See that here.
Friday I moved a little slow but still got decent numbers in QC folding clothes and after work ate too many cheese curls.
But, in my defense, they were amazing cheese curls— sour cream and cheddar— that I found at my local Dollar Tree.
Speaking of food, I also made my final Green Chef meal. Video here. I cheated a bit, adding beef tips, and forgot the pecans and the vegan aioli but it still tasted great.
Tonight I made Purple Carrot’s Fieldstone sausages with roasted fingerling potatoes and vegetables. Another great dish. I also made a side of “leftover sauce” pasta, mixing up every scrap from the fridge.
This morning, the teenager and I met up with Dan at Apex training and I did some lower body while Dan taught the teen to do barbell squats. He started by giving her the bar and evaluating her form and then he gave her some weight.
I think she used some muscles in her knees and legs that she has never used before, not with that range of motion. Let’s just say she was walking like me on the way home.
Then we treated ourselves to some egg sandwiches, grabbed the dog and went to the Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Yard sale and cake auction. The child spent all my money— but we didn’t buy any cake. She got dog supplies and the massive dog now has a mermaid flotation device and a puffer jacket. And I have my third tea pot in two years. The teenager kills my tea pots.
Even the cats got goodies. See the new water fountain here.
I never saw a cake auction before and it was certainly more fun than the livestock auctions I’ve seen.
The dog was so tired she couldn’t keep her eyes open in the car on the way home.
Then I came home and made a video I’ve been putting off. I kept planning to get a little dressed up, do my makeup, set up a cozy spot on the sunporch and made a video of me reading a little of my novel.
Instead, I did it in sweatpants on the couch with the dog. See it here.
Yesterday was the launch day for my novel. At midnight, the teenager and I were celebrating with cocktails and cupcakes.
I have so much hope for Parisian Phoenix Publishing.
It’s too early for me to know how many copies have sold, I don’t expect large numbers as I haven’t really implemented my marketing plan. Our small boutique publisher is a partnership— myself and graphic designer Gayle Hendricks— so the work that needs to be done, we do as we can or we ask for help.
We have lots of ideas, so this first novel may be mine, but part of that stems from my philosophy that before I publish anyone else’s book, I want to learn and grow from lessons made bringing my manuscript into the limelight.
This novel— Manipulations, the first volume of the Fashion and Fiends series—means a lot to me. I believe it breeds chick lit to horror fiction (think what might have happened if Stephen King wrote The Devil Wears Prada) and uses contemporary literature (and the mythic supernatural) to examine social issues.
Manipulations, at its core, is a book about building healthy relationships. And the proverbial lesson of “things are not always what they appear.” And I hope my readers will understand that magic, in this context, allows us to explore domestic violence.
The next volume, Courting Apparitions, (due out in late November) uses a ghost story to examine grief and depression.
And the next, Recovery, (slated for first quarter 2022) tackles disability, motherhood and women’s rights. But don’t worry, magic is still afoot.
Meanwhile, the fourth, Road Trip, is a coming of age novel. With werewolves. I’d like to release that one on June 23, 2022. The day my baby turns 18. But first I have to finish writing it.
The fifth volume, Absolution, looks at the intersection of sacrifice and love.
And the sixth volume, at least half written at this point, is FindingHooyo— a hybrid romance novel, medical drama and war story. Hopefully that should tie up the original story line but certainly not the Fashion and Fiends universe.
Currently our team of authors and interesting people have several projects in the works.
Sometime in 2022, I hope to revisit a book I wrote as part of my research at Lafayette College. I looked at the anti-Muslim laws in France and traced their roots to 19th century colonial stereotypes and considered the thesis that these laws perpetuate stereotypes that started in Algeria.
My love, as a critical theorist, of post-colonial Francophone Africa stems from my view that French imperialism during the colonial era serves as an amazing parallel to contemporary American imperialism and attitudes towards Muslims.
And now, with identity politics very en vogue, I feel like these lessons in stereotypes and prejudice are very relevant.
Speaking of critical theorists and identity politics, I have assembled a group of authors to discuss various identity issues in a special anthology, currently called: Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money: Expressions of Alternative PerspectivesInfluenced by Experiences in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
Committed so far is Darrell Parry, poet and writer, and my estranged husband; Eva Parry, otherwise known as “the teenager”; William Prystauk of Crash Palace Productions and the Kink Noir series; Maryann Riker, multimedia artist; Nancy Scott, blind author of essays and poems; Rachel Thompson, science fiction and alternative history writer; Joan Zachary, photographer and writer… and hopefully more.
Racing with them toward the finish line is a cat anthology to use as a fundraising book for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab which will feature cat stories, photos, memoirs of FURR volunteers and academic research on animal welfare, poverty and empowering low-income and diverse neighborhoods to know what resources are available for themselves and their animals.
And with the new “Texas law,” Parisian Phoenix hopes to work with people on the team who have experience in women’s issues and chronicle stories as a fundraiser and historical record for groups in this sector.
Sometime in late fall, Parisian Phoenix hopes to release a full-length poetry manuscript, the poems for which have been assembled and the layout is in process.
I can guarantee this book will be as funny as it is thought provoking.
Our erotica and romance
It’s not quite clear when our erotica and romance will hit the market, but we have authors working to provide stories with real characters facing real life.
In the romance department, we have a manuscript, Trapped, that combines middle-aged love that sparks because of the skunk infestation with the joy of reinventing oneself.
There are hints of a Fashion and Fiends erotic prequel that extends the arousing feel of the horror fiction universe with more sex and no monsters.
And our goal is to offer kink/BDSM erotica, quality stories with empathetic characters who participate in safe, informed and consensual play. We have authors working on those tales, too.
Find Angel Ackerman on WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Follow Parisian Phoenix Publishing on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
The full moon is a few minutes away but its pull has been evident for a couple days. My recent health struggles, my employer giving us random time off, and today the dog ate my latest set of AirPods that I bought less than a month ago and emptied my favorite Coach leather wallet I bought in 2010 for my first excursion with my beloved M.
It took about 30 minutes to locate my money, shopping club cards, credit cards and various ID. Not to mention she destroyed my AmEx.
The teenager got a toll violation in the mail for her Cape May road trip. The toll officer yelled at her for stopping to pay the toll because the equipment read my old transponder from the Altima. I had meant to return the damn thing but never got around to it.
She also broke her phone charger.
I also had the misfortune of having to cut off someone who left room for me to merge and then changed his mind. The situation had me worried he was going road rage-y.
But let’s celebrate all the good news.
It was an amazing day. I went to Grocery Outlet and bought my favorite Cabot cottage cheese. I got a free soda at Wawa.
I had dinner with my favorite nurse from StitchFix who left the company to “do” hospice. It was so nice to see her.
I came home and registered my first two ISBN numbers to Manipulations(printand ebook). This is the first novel in the Fashion and Fiends series.
I edited some bios, created at Ingram Sparks account, updated my ISBN info at Bowker, downloaded a bunch of user guides and wanted to vomit.
I approved the cover concept. The proofreader signed off.
I assigned prices.
And I pledged that I will donate $1 to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab for every print version of the book sold. One of the minor (but very key characters) in the novel is Zut the tabby, modeled after Zoot, my tabby of 16 years. Zoot was my familiar as it would be called in witchcraft terms.
The official publication date is September 11, which is my husband’s birthday. Even though we’ve been separated two years, he had always beenmy most loyal supporter when it comes to my fiction.
I have received encouragement from published authors Jonathan Maberry and Kathryn Craft, but no one encouraged me like Darrell did.
So thank you. There are so many good aspects to the 20-plus year relationship I had with you and that is only one.
And the goal is to get the next one out on my partner Gayle’s birthday.
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.
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:
One of the women I went to school with took her kids to Slateford Creek Falls, a place about 5-6 miles from my childhood home. I have never been there. Her pictures left me captivated.
How could something so beautiful exist so close to my former home?
Gayle joined the teenager and I for a morning walk. We did a little web research— apparently not enough.
Gayle drove and I took her on a scenic detour to my childhood home between Tuscarora Inn and Driftstone Campground in Upper Mount Bethel Township.
We arrived at the main parking lot on National Park Drive in one of the first parks that make up Delaware Water Gap.
And we knew from our research that the falls weren’t by the main parking lot but we decided to follow the main trail anyway. Maybe we thought the falls would move just for us.
We were rewarded for our adventurous spirit by seeing two very large woodpeckers with vivid red heads.
Someone gave us helpful directions that the falls were across the street and by the “pull off” between the guard rails. I remembered seeing the pull off on the way in, and I was sure it wasn’t that far.
I was wrong. We followed the road, on foot, down the steep, windy road. And we almost made it, but we weren’t sure how far it was and wasn’t sure we could walk to the falls AND make it up the hill.
Gayle offered to get the car, which didn’t make much sense because Gayle doesn’t do well on hills. Her knees have aged faster than she has.
The teenager volunteered me to go get the car. I asked if she was coming too— she said no, that I would only slow her down. Apparently, the now-16-year-old can’t keep up with me on hills. And I have cerebral palsy!
So I hauled my butt up that hill, huffing and puffing. Gayle and The Teenager almost made it, too!
I didn’t move Gayle’s seat so I was sitting on the edge barely reaching the pedals and then I couldn’t get the doors to unlock but Gayle took over and saved the day.
And when we found the trail, it was intimidatingly vertical. I’ll let Gayle’s blog entry cover the specifics of the trail:
The teenager got to play in the falls, and Gayle and I didn’t end up on the wrong side of gravity although Gayle did bump her head on that tree.
It occurred to me— as the teenager and I gathered slate for future spiritual purposes, climbed among the rocks and fallen trees in the middle of the creek, and enjoyed the peace of the rumbling water—that this moment was full of freedom, nature and life giving resources.
The stats on this hike weren’t accurately counted. The teen got 4 miles, I got 2.5 and Gayle’s numbers were different from those. I got credit for 3 flights of stairs, Gayle got 14.
And perhaps it was no coincidence that I had received notice that I am losing my job with the full moon and “Independence Day” approaching.
With this in mind, I arrived home in time to meet up with our favorite little dog, Sobaka, who is hanging out with us while her “mom” is at a picnic.
Sobaka laid at my feet while I did some public relations work for upcoming events hosted by Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.
I am constantly blessed to work with such a wide range of people with different outlooks and different strengths. I learn something from everyone of them— admiring one person’s brilliance, another’s kind heart, and yet another’s passion and willingness for boots-on-the-ground work.
My memories of Ellicott City, MD, are vague but happy. I somehow missed the severity of the 2016 and 2018 floods, perhaps due to marital issues.
My college roommate hailed from Ellicott City, and after living in Texas and North Carolina, returned to the Baltimore suburbs. A town neighboring Ellicott.
My college roommate, we’ll call her N to respect her privacy, was part of the same college social circle as my husband and I. Long before my husband and I dated, we did things like pile into N’s black Honda Accord, the car on which I learned to drive a manual transmission while blasting Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill, to swarm into N’s parents’ split level house and spend the weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Faire.
I can’t even tell you for sure what I did in Ellicott City. I know N always took me proudly down Main Street for a walk. I remember a shop with crazy hats, lively colors and the memory of a velvety texture.
When my daughter was 2, yes the teenager, I drove the three hours alone to meet N and my high school best friend who drove three hours up from Virginia. And we took lots of photos on Main Street in Ellicott City. I recall antique stores on that trip.
And I locked my keys in the trunk of the car at a rest stop two hours away from home at dusk.
I also know of another trip where N took me for coffee and dessert at what I believe was a French restaurant one night. Where I taste pear tart tartine for the first time.
I have very key memories of Ellicott City.
Now, if you’ve been around this blog for a while, you probably know I have a strong admiration for Gordon Ramsay. I also have some rather strong unladylike feelings for Chef.
I can’t help it— I like tall, athletic men with exotic accents and bad attitudes. And I’m a Taurus so food is really important to me.
So when I saw that Gordon filmed an episode of his latest TV show in Ellicott City a few months ago, I did what any fan girl would do: I squealed and texted all my friends. Okay, maybe not all of them. My almost ex-husband and N. I haven’t reached out to N in months but this was important.
The episode aired May 13 and is available on Hulu now.
N said she hadn’t seen it, but most of Ellicott City is still boarded up. She’s heard that the locals feel like Gordon came across as single-handedly taking credit for rebuilding the town.
(They had catastrophic 1,000 year floods two years apart—2016 and 2018.)
Gordon worked with four local businesses and made some cosmetic improvements. And then Covid hit.
I watched the double episode and didn’t feel like Gordon was being an egotistical maniac. He was kinder and more in the background than he usually is.
The story of the episode really focused on the trauma and the struggles and the personalities of the business owners and the community at large.
If anything, it seemed to honor the spirit of the town and the grit of the businesses.
I hope N gets to watch it.
I’d like to hear her opinion.
In the meantime, we need to amend the constitution so Gordon can run for President. He always seems to have his act together. Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger can be his running mate.
The last few days became so busy, both emotionally and professionally, that I never even finished blogging about my perfectly awesome birthday.
That may have something to do with the bottle of Vouvray the teenager and her father selected for me to accompany a most amazing cheese and fruit platter with charcuterie that they provided for my birthday dinner.
The meal came courtesy of a trip to Wegmans and included a block of applewood smoked Gouda, dill ha art I, and intense Brie. The fruits were white grapes and some succulent watermelon. A fresh baguette. Some Italian meats, include prosciutto. (Which I love to say in my best Sicilian accent) and silly cupcakes.
And the morning after my birthday I breakfasted like a princess in chocolate dipped fruits and a cookie and a tea from Dunkin’.
And yesterday I made the birthday Spam by mom brought me. On Wonder Bread for the teenager. Me. Accordion was jealous. He offered me some recipes.
This might be why my Corona weight gain is up to 10 lbs.
The artwork featured above is by Gayle Hendricks.
My friend Gayle appears in this blog from time to time, for our silly adventures, long walks or random road trips. She is a fantastic graphic designer with a very clean style. She specializes in typography and can set books in both traditional and electronic formats. I connected her portfolio to the image above, which she made for me representing my flock. (She altered a stock image in Adobe illustrator.)
Please consider her if you need freelance graphic design and know we are available as a team. I handle the editorial and she handles the pretty stuff. And we’re efficient.
And we celebrated my 40th birthday at a Trampoline Park.