Rip it off fast like a bandaid

It’s 11 a.m. on Friday morning— it looks crisp and clear outside. Teenager #2 is in school. Teenager #1 just emerged from her room as we both got to sleep around 3 a.m.

Mandatory overtime and lack of sleep are kicking my ass. My household is experiencing some knocks too as the Roman Pride tuxedo kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab are vomiting. We hope it is because of a recent change in their food.

I wish I could say the birds have been quiet. But alas, alack, the cats broke into my room while Boo-Boo the yellow parakeet was free-flying and Boo-boo flew downstairs. Now Boo-boo is not a hand-tame bird.

This occurred while I was wrestling clothes in the Quality Control Valley 2 of the Bizzy Hizzy at Stitch Fix. Teenager #1 heard Boo-boo screaming because two of our household cats had taken to swiping her out of the air.

Teenager #1 rescued Boo, who was still feisty enough to bite her repeatedly.

So there was that.

Meanwhile, at the Bizzy, I was thinking about numerology and “angel numbers,” thanks to a podcast I heard the other night. In the midst of all this craziness, as I was leaving work the other night, my odometer read 33533. Palindrome. Prime numbers. “Sacred threes.”

Okay so it’s blurry: 33533

So the boxes that got returned to me last night were sent back for issues with wrapping. One of the people training me finally came over and asked how I tear my paper. I showed her. Carefully. Almost daintily.

“Ah, she said, “there lies the problem. You need to rip it fast like a bandaid.”

I did and the results were very different and better.

My foe

I thanked her for the tutelage and laughed, pointing out that this was not something that did not come naturally to my skill set. I have no depth perception when related to placing items in containers. I suck at folding clothes. It’s agonizing for my body to stand still for 8 hours. And I have no concept of straight lines.

But all in all I am improving and I truly enjoy the challenge of learning something new. It reminds me of when I first learned cash office at Target. I wanted to vomit every time I started my shift.

The person overseeing me thanked me for taking criticism well, and again I laughed, and reminded her that I needed her it. She said a lot of people get frustrated. And I assured her that I was indeed frustrated with myself for repeating the same mistakes. She quickly revised her statement— “No, she said, people get really frustrated with me.”

And that struck me. Because I know what she means. And I have to say, in both my professional and… let’s call them survival jobs, I have had supervisors that understand how to deliver constructive criticism and all kinds of feedback and those supervisors who care about the mission, the corporate line, and/or themselves and how they look, more than they were invested in the people.

So far in the Bizzy Hizzy, I have not met one of those. I also feel I am in the honeymoon phase at Stitch Fix. My judgment may be skewed.

This mandatory overtime stinks. We’re all exhausted. And even the scrambled egg appreciation breakfast and free snacks can’t push us past that.

This might be the spot to mention that one of my supervisors spent most of the night running around with a squealing plastic chicken.

The nurse wandered into the Valley about 12:30 to check on everyone doing overtime (as the “deep cleaners” worked around us— which by the way, they move nothing and just wipe shit down. I find more dust and grime when I do my nightly wipes). I showed the nurse my new skill at tearing craft paper. She gave me a gloved high five.

I’m working a normal 8-hour shift tonight then returning for an 8-hour double time shift tomorrow morning. Now if you excuse me, I must go lay out my quarterly budget as it is 2-weeks overdue.

This is a post about food

Since recovering from Covid, I have tried to focus on healthy food choices and cooking at home instead of eating out. I believe good food is key to regaining my strength and moving forward in losing some weight, but more and more I find myself viewing food as a friend.

In other dietary confessions, twice this week I have taken advantage of the snacks in the breakroom to have 500 calories of honeybun at 10 p.m. And I’ve noticed, that seemed to be the only thing that gave me the energy to improve my performance. I have always had a strong physical reaction to sugar so this is no surprise.

I think the moral is that I need to balance my meals prior to work and “save” some carbohydrates for treats at my final break.

Tonight I find myself without teenagers and having eaten decently throughout the day, I have some “calories to spare.” I decided to use them for some healthy snacks while I watch Bridgerton. I find the series quaint and endearing, with amazing costumes and scenery. But I don’t see anything worth the extreme hoopla I see on social media. But there is a beauty in it. And I hope I am wrong, but I am almost done with episode 5 and so far while it is charming, it is predictable.

The snack I prepared were some pumpkin seed and raisin crackers, Harvest Snaps green pea snacks, Smart Pop popcorn, and Smartfood caramel apple popcorn.

Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey of the Norse Pride went home to his FURRever family today and I am feeling the absence of crazy kitten antics. Two of my personal cats, Oz and Fog, have curled up in bed with me. I have missed Fog’s attentions.

Other recent meals that I enjoyed:

A little about each meal:

1. Salad of romaine, shredded cabbage, kalamata olives, wasabi peas, sliced almonds, feta and fresh strawberries.

2. Chicken with a “hash” of spinach, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and Brussel sprouts.

3. Salmon. I used the cooking method from the Whole30 and seasoned with dill.

4. Cornish Game Hen. I seasoned it, used a little smoked flavor, and cooked it in my chicken bone broth, diced carrots, and kale. I didn’t care for it. Too much work to get the meet off the bones. Fog loved what he stole.

5. I had a craving for good old fashioned processed beer battered fish— might have been Gorton’s.

6. Croque Monsieur. Teenager #1 made the béchamel sauce, and I didn’t think to warn her how temperamental a roux can be.

7. At Lidl, I came across some discount thaw-and-eat frozen sushi. It was 50 cents a pack. It was edible but the rice was completely al dente.

8. I have been aching for avocado and eggs. So I bought avocado and forgot to make it when I made egg-and-pepper omelette.

9. Some chicken I bought on clearance cooked in butter, lemon and dill. Then I sautéed some cabbage and added some leftover corn from earlier in the week and the rest of the pepper I didn’t use for yesterday’s omelette.

Beginnings and babies

My routine is fairly set… I get up, use the bathroom, weigh myself, feed cats, and brew a cup of coffee (using the time while it brews to tidy the kitchen).

I drink the coffee while hanging with our personal cats, sometimes I do my journal entry then other times I wait until I return upstairs.

Once my coffee is done I start a load of laundry, make sure the kibble is put away where our two cats with urinate issues can’t find it, and head up to “wake the birds.”

Usually by now it’s around 9 or even 10 a.m. (as I work 3:30 p.m. until midnight). I open Nala’s cage (my Goffin’s cockatoo) and throw back the curtains so the budgies fill my room with chirps and chatters. I check on the babies and everyone gets fresh food and water.

Chicks growing feathers

The photos really don’t do them justice. They all have open eyes, clear faces, beaks, feet and wings. They are getting feathers and one is turning blue like Mama Periwinkle.

After feeding everyone I let Peek-A-Boo-Boo free fly as she is stuck in the tiny cage right now.

Then, in an attempt to set my head straight for 2021, I made my bed— inspired by a post by another blogger on her M goals for 2021.

See the whole post here: Olivia’s “M” Goals for 2021

Movement and mindful eating are also on my list. I am losing a little weight every day just by making better choices and paying attention to how much I consume.

I think my journaling and blogging might be similar to meditation. It clears out my head and puts me straight.

But I failed in my grandiose plans to start my I journal with some sort of fancy motivational speech.

Loki went to the adoption fair at Petsmart with our cat rescue group Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. He had a scheduled meet-and-greet with a family. While he was gone, teenager #1 and I went to the dollar stores looking for organizational materials.

And then we got the sad text: “Loki did not go. 😦 ”

So now he’s home with us again.

The joys and lessons of 2020

I know 2020 dealt a lot of people a bad hand at cards, so to speak, and I know so many people have suffered— loved ones lost, food insecurity, unemployment, instability, break-ups.

I naively believe every year will “be a good year” or a better year… but let’s talk Turkey for a minute: I have a disability (cerebral palsy), I come from a certain socio-economic bracket that has made it difficult (but not impossible) for me to achieve long term financial stability, and my own job choices have often valued community, family and altruism over traditionally-defined middle class life.

2019 was the year I resumed my professional career after taking ten years “off” to raise my daughter. (I worked for Target for those 10 years and they gradually increased my part time hours to full time and so I opted to get paid a professional salary versus a retail wage if I were to put that many hours in.)

My husband and I separated in 2019. That was a huge change after 20 years, and it still pains me. My husband is one of the kindest people in the world, and while I still lament that we couldn’t fix our problems, the end had to come.

So what were the joys and lessons of 2020?

Let me share.

  • Cats. December 26, 2019 through late January 2020, the teenager trapped the feral kittens born under our neighbors porch. We kept two of them. Taming feral kittens gave us so much reward. And led to us working with FURR. Our fostering career has involved 12 kittens so far, in seven months. And I cannot tell you how much I love having babies around all the time. On days I don’t want to get out of bed, I do for them.
  • Birds. I met Nala on December 28, 2019 and brought her home in mid-January. By dealing with this obstinate Goffin’s cockatoo, I learned a lot of patience. And the best way to top being “a crazy cat lady” is to be the crazy cat lady with birds. And my parakeets had babies for Christmas 2020. I have three chicks that I have seen grow daily.
  • Professional and personal growth. I found myself crying at my desk more often than I like to admit in 2020. It became apparent by the end of January that my boss was an incredibly toxic person. At the same token, I learned so much from her that when she dismissed me during the pandemic, I could use those new skills to help a young nonprofit grow. Between my original job and my volunteer work with new nonprofits, I showcased this knowledge to steer these organizations to grants. And the success rates for grants, publication of an first-ever annual report, and various media placements throughout the Lehigh Valley was exhilarating.
  • Expanding family. As my faithful readers may know, I have a second teenager staying with me. This teenager has turned our lives upside down, but has shared in our joys and tribulations during the last four months. I always wanted a larger family— and I got it this year: a menagerie of birds, cats and teenagers. It’s been amazing to share our joys and traditions with someone and see my daughter react to no longer being an only child.
  • New attitude toward challenges. I am always the person you can count on when you need someone. So people don’t realize that I am often terrified and insecure. Being “alone” and a single custodial parent has gotten me over that. I had five months with no income and I lived on the $4500 I had in savings. I ended up in the hospital with a cat bite during that time period and it was such a great learning experience. I learned a lot about myself, my neighbors, my friends, and how amazing teenager #1 really is. And then I finally get unemployment after I get my new job at Stitch Fix. I promptly use it to pay off some of my medical bills and a few living expenses I had put on my American Express.
  • We will move beyond Covid. I finally got a job and three weeks in, I contract Covid-19. That whole experience was something, but again— I learned to ask friends, neighbors and family for help. And that GrubHub gift certificate I received during the summer months sure came in handy. This whole pandemic world has me mapping out whom I would recruit for my squad in a real catastrophe.

Maybe I’m just weird— but I see a lot of hope and triumph emerging from struggle. Cheers to 2021.

Accidents (or the four letter word that starts with S and means ‘poop’) happens.

It’s been a hectic couple of days.

The teenager is pet-sitting for our FURR foster godmother. So she’s in and out of my house several times a day.

I have misplaced Fern’s adoption paperwork, which is totally not like me. Luckily Fern went to a friend of mine so I can asked her to send me a photo.

Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, has been upset and stressed and plucked her flight feathers off her one wing.

It’s really sad to see the confusion in her face when she tries to fly and just falls.

Speaking of Nala, I met her a year ago today.

We had a devil of a time containing Boo-boo last night but since we did Wink and Yo-yo seem much more relaxed as parents. I think it was the right call. Video: catching Boo

And here is a video of the parakeet chicks: Budgie babies!

I also finally got a good picture of Loki:

Sir Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey

While three out of my four cats were cuddly and cute.

Back to Front: Opie, Oz, Fog

Then I headed out to work for the first day since Covid. I stopped at Dunkin for a coffee and discovered there were no more good deals. So I didn’t get my coffee.

No one explained the protocol for my return so I don’t have the proper paperwork from my doctor. I’ll try and get that started— already called the doctor— but am waiting on their end of the paperwork.

I’m annoyed— mostly because I was ready to go back but also because I don’t know if this lack of communication will mean I lose income. With it being the holiday week, I probably won’t get rapid cooperation from the medical folks. And part of that is because there are people sicker and needier than I am.

After everything I’ve been through this year, I won’t complain.

It gave me time to do some grocery shopping and cook for the other teenager.

I even helped her make a smoothie.

One more week of 2020.

Morning Fog

Routines in this house have changed since I contracted Covid.

Today I have completed the 10-day isolation period recommended by the CDC and can now leave the house. I want the teenager to take me to the Dollar Tree and Petco.

It’s 7:40 a.m. Because of my job on second shift and then my illness, I haven’t been up this early in probably months.

Loki and Fog

My room is typically a cat free zone. Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and my three budgies (and now three budgie eggs) are in there.

But the Norse Pride ended up with me— in part because the teenager worried the Roman Pride were making them nervous and in her words they were too small to bother the birds.

The kittens, after a month in my room, decided they want to be with the big cats, so when I come in and out of my room, Vale leads a charge.

Because of this I leave my door open more soon they can come back. And now my cats and Teenager #2’s cats like to gather here. Her cats want to watch birds. My cats want to enjoy a warm bed with me and watch the birds.

Now dear Fog was my bed mate before cockatoo and before kittens. He and the three-legged old man liked to rest in my room and minded their own business.

And now Fog has taken to opening my bedroom door and joining me in bed in the morning, which confuses the Norse Pride kittens who don’t understand the magic of how a cat opens the door.

He doesn’t like the kittens— but he wants to be with me as I have my morning coughing fit. He’s got to be checking on me.

But the kittens are fascinated and confused by him and run to me. And it’s been a while since I had an 11+ pound cat in my bed. So it’s a jarring way to wake up.

I’ve also missed my Fog cuddles.

Turning the day upside down

Yesterday, Black Friday 2020, I did something I never do— I went to a store. Two actually, Marshalls and Home Depot. I promised the teen.

We were already out-and-about due to agreeing to pet-sit for our cat fostering godmother: two personal indoor cats, two outdoor cats, two dogs, ten of the organization’s cats in the garage (including one kitten recovering from distemper) and 17 foster cats in the “cat alley” in her house.

Somewhere around this time of opening cat food cans, after perusing Home Depot for drain covers and paint stripper and checking out Marshall’s for Christmas gifts, the teenager goading me into ordering Little Caesars for dinner. I ate way too much pizza, watched an episode of The History Channel’s The World’s Strongest Man (Viking Challenge episode) on Hulu.

I went to bed early, as I had volunteered to go to work for an overtime shift at 6 a.m. My superpower— innate time sense—allowed me to wake at 3:56 a.m. when my alarm was set to go off at 4:30. My goodness is that an early time in the morning.

Fog and Misty were the only cats awake at that hour. Fog and I went out to the sun porch to enjoy a cup of coffee and some cuddles.

Meanwhile, Misty sat in the window sadly, expecting me to open it. When I didn’t, it either didn’t occur to him to use the door or he couldn’t figure out how to get through it.

The teenager made me a cup of iced coffee and put it in the back of the fridge so I could bring it to work with me when I left the house at 5:30 a.m. That coffee is so strong I don’t think I will ever sleep again.

It was so strange to see the sunlight streaming in the windows at the warehouse. Everyone working today was working on women’s inbound processing. So that was fun. And I even managed to run the tagging gun through my fingertip and someone manage to adhere the tag to the garment and my flesh. But it was dead skin so it didn’t bleed.

And for some reason, I felt compelled to try and remove my finger without ripping the tag off. And I did.

Caturday of cuddles

This is my last weekend before starting a full time position as a retail warehouse associate at Stitch Fix. It sounds similar to what I used to do at Target, but without people and more walking.

I’ve read some online reviews and exchanged some texts with some Target folks who also went to Stitch Fix and my concerns are two-fold:

  1. Can this forty-something body with cerebral palsy handle being on my feet walking more than 12 miles a day?
  2. Can I survive on the pay?

But one positive is that the extra steps should help me get my weight under control and increase my fitness fortitude.

Or so I hope.

My accident was a week ago and I’m starting to think that I didn’t hurt my rib but instead really did “pull my boob” as in manage to pull the muscle that supports my right breast. I’m tired of being in pain.

Okay, enough whining.

The day started with a strong cup of coffee shared with my cockatoo, Nala. (YouTube Video: Coffee Time)

And then I heard a ruckus and thought the cats were fighting. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Fog had caught himself a mouse. (YouTube video: Mouse Adventures)

My mom stopped by this morning and transplanted the snake plant that the kittens destroyed. Then Mom and I went to Lidl where I not only got croissants to go with my delectable quince jelly, but I got discounted naan and lots of seltzer. In new flavors! Yes, Lidl has new flavors of seltzer including grapefruit.

I did lots of dishes, vacuumed the downstairs and my room (the roomba is functioning great now that I cleaned it, and washed the dining room and living room floors.

In between these tasks, I cuddled kittens and watched Car Masters: From Rust to Riches on Netflix.

Vale of the Norse Pride

In the last three days, I’ve managed to watch both seasons of this program. I love cars. My dad was a diesel mechanic and truck driver for much of my childhood. He can fix anything and I have a certain admiration and attraction to people who can fix things.

I’ve had the same cell phone number since 1998 because my dad gave me an old 1984 Ford Escort whose carburateur would flood and leave me stranded with every rain storm.

Some of my favorite memories are of watching my father work.

I recommend the reality series Rust to Riches — it features some serious strategy in building some amazing cars and also has more drama than one might expect.

The people who staff Gotham Garage in California include a woman who specializes in motors and knows classic muscle cars.

I made the teenagers a cheap knock off of seafood Alfredo for dinner.

And now the teens are playing Monopoly with a friend downstairs.

Tomorrow I will be getting a facial at Lucha Bella, hopefully making a trip to the Dollar Tree and taking the foster kittens, all seven of them, for shots.

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.

What day is it?

I believe I was talking to my traveling companion M about life with my teenagers and we were discussing how it’s impossible for anyone to develop a routine when basic public school looks like this:

MONDAY, TUESDAY: asynchronous learning online, students must fill out an attendance form by 10:30 a.m.

WEDNESDAY: students have Zoom classes from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

THURSDAY, FRIDAY: In-person school, 7:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., though the teenager #1 leaves school somewhere around 11:20 a.m. on Thursday because her last class of the day is a study hall.

And MARCHING BAND is Tuesday 6 to 8:30 p.m, and Wednesday, Thursday 6 to 7:30 p.m. and often Saturdays 2 to 4 p.m.

Not one single day is even similar to another. Mondays and Tuesdays are totally self-directed and then Wednesdays are super-regimented.

And then by Thursday we actually have to get up and go to school.

I spent yesterday primarily in a meeting with someone who may end up being our new editor-in-chief for the revived, repositioned and redesigned Lady Boss Magazine, a publication of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club/Network.

The most recent edition in the old format came out last month. Visit it here: Lady Boss on Issuu.

We have started planning some exciting content (and I hope my new client Merri of Lucha Bella Skin Care and Body Waxing and my step mom can get involved). And something about an Italian master chef who ended up with her own shoe line???

Speaking of Merri, she’s gotten her first original content off the ground, appearing on Instagram and Facebook today:

Winter Skin Tips

So please follow Lucha Bella, and of course, me!