The Teenager is working on her college application and wanted to find a coffee shop to force her out of the house so she would have less distractions. Originally, she wanted to go to Three Birds in downtown Easton, one of our favorite spots, but by the time she got out of work, they would be closed.
I know of places on the other end of the Lehigh Valley open in the evening, but couldn’t think of anything close to home. So, I googled.
Monsieur Google suggested several local Starbucks.
Not that I don’t enjoy a flat white every once in a while, but we wanted something a little more unique and potentially eclectic.
A little more poking around the internet and I remembered Mythic Beasts and Brews, a ten minute walk from our house. Or, as the teenager says, “Mom, it’s closer to the house than the high school.”
The atmosphere is coffee shop meets role-players’ game den, which is exactly what it aims to be. There are four of five large tables for gamers and a few little spots for those of us who have retired our game master and PC gear.
Yes, the teenager’s father and I played White Wolf back in the day.
The Teenager ordered chai, which will make our blind friend Nancy very happy to hear that we have found yet another source of chai. I decided to take the 20-sided die challenge. Whatever you roll is your drink, $4, and it’s 50 cents to reroll.
I rolled a 12, which is a large Irish cream macchiato. That is a good selection for me.
We enjoyed our visit, and we especially enjoyed the free homemade chocolate chip cookies.
So today I read more of Tylia Flores’ cerebral palsy memoirs, helped an aspiring writer, went to the gym and took a nap.
Sunday I return to work.
Speaking of which, today I received an amazing hand-drawn card from one of my up-and-coming Parisian Phoenix authors to celebrate my time off. Joan says this shows he’ll fit right in.
In the evening, the teen and I popped down to Emmaus, the first of what I hope will be several upcoming visits. I did to get to Let’s Play Books and some of the other Emmaus shops.
But tonight we were headed to Purr Haus, a cat-themed boutique that works with local cat rescues (owned by a former local newspaper reporter). It was finally the night of the FURR fundraiser— 20% of item sales and 100% of basket raffle sales went to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
The teen bought some stuff. Then I bought a lot of stuff. Including this mug.
Because I so need this in my life. And I was an idiot and got two of my three t-shirts one size too small. I keep forgetting I gained weight and grew boobs during the pandemic.
I’ll blame that on the glass of red wine they served me at Purr Haus.
I also asked the owner to contribute to our anthology, As the FURR Flies. She said yes. I hope to tie up most of the project for the graphic designer this week.
The teen took me for espresso milkshakes and chicken salad sandwiches at Vargtimmen King Koffee.
The sunset was gorgeous and I saw some 50s-era cars in a driveway. And I think the teen enjoyed driving my Jetta turbo on the highway.
And then I came home and tried on my cat wardrobe— and realized my error in two of my t-shirts.
Before I continue, let me get the usual disclaimers/introductions out of the way.
Like many people, I had a rough 2020– I’m actually grateful to Covidfor slowing down my life and allowing me to survive some severe emotional stress that caused me to have high blood pressure, develop a bad comfort eating habitand end up anemic. I had a difficult job experience, lost that job, and now work in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy and deal with my daughter’s crazy dog, my stubborn cockatoo and a bunch of foster cats. I’m forty-something, a single mom, 20 lbs overweight and struggling to understand my body, specifically my cerebral palsy.
My day started with chasing the “pig pony” dog Bean (we call her that because she snorts like a pig and is the size of a small pony) around the neighborhood because she decided to jump the fence and ignore her recall commands.
I’m in my kitchen now, eating a public-school issued bowl of Cheerios with an out-of-date white milk leftover from the teenager’s recent school dates. I met with my trainer today (and my friend Janel who is helping me set up the FURR Coffee and Kittens event at Forks Community Center August 15).
I headed up the hill to Apex Training to meet with my trainer Dan. I finally remembered to ask Dan if it’d be okay if I wrote about him and our work together and he said yes, so I no longer have to be sneaky.
I’m comfortable with Dan. He’s laid back but he knows his stuff, understands the movements and the physiology, and keeps a careful eye without making you feel stared at or inadequate.
He almost seems apologetic that we’re going slow and using 5 and 10 pound dumbbells and not lifting at a pace that makes it a cardiovascular event. But that’s what I love! The anemia, when combined with the cerebral palsy especially, makes it so easy to get tired and clumsy and hurt oneself.
Today, we did some upper body work. 30 minutes, slow and steady. 3 sets of 2 exercises each. Pretty standard way to set up a 30-minute work out hitting the triceps, biceps, chest and upper back.
Five years ago when I did this, I did a lot of cardio, did calisthenic ab exercises every day and did ten to fifteen minutes of lifting focusing on just one muscle (i.e. biceps or triceps) not the whole group.
Like I said, I know what to do, but I’m a person and people get lazy. I need Dan right now, as I’ve said, for several goals:
Restart the consistent habit of training.
Improve strength, flexibility and agility.
Build muscle and tone body.
Many of us tell ourselves we can save money and do it ourselves but the reality is there is a big difference between we are able vs. the commitment of we will.
I fully intended to eat a banana every day to get more nutrients into my body as I recover from anemia. Did I?
Does it look like I did?
But back to the training… I find the actual activity of lifting, when I am working with a class facilitator or fitness trainer, meditative. Everyone should focus on their movements when strength training, but I really have to with my disability. Focus is required to make sure all the body parts move as they should. I have to count the reps, remember to breathe, and control the motions all at the same time.
When you are doing all of that, your mind empties. And you just flow with the movements of your body and the feeling in your muscles.
Like today was “oh hello triceps, are you still under all that arm jiggle?”
When I left Dan I was sweating. I was limber. I felt invincible. I was walking home reminding myself how powerful I am.
I lost my balance on the sidewalk and just fell about half a block from my house.
My right arm is scraped from the back of my shoulder almost to my wrist. The upper shoulder stings the worst. It’s been two hours and it still stings. I also bounced on my hip and upper thigh— so that is already starting to bruise.
I called out from work tonight. Based on where I’m at in my menstrual cycle and the summer sun, I’m going to blame anemia for this lapse in balance especially since all day yesterday I had no energy. Anemia is awful. Anemia with a mobility disorder is a nightmare.
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.
My dear friend Bill Prystauk of CrashPalace Productions gave me a $100 gift card from GrubHub to thank me for editing the latest installment in his Kink Noir novel series, Debauchery, which came out earlier this week.
I love Bill. We both love food. It’s a pandemic. The gift card was a thoughtful gift.
Last week I ordered sushi from Tokyo Sushi in downtown Easton. I have never had their sushi and wanted to compare it to Sogo Fusion Cuisine. More importantly— much more importantly— I wanted bubble tea.
Now, I didn’t realize you could order food for pick up and I would have easily done that as the restaurant is less than two miles away. But why use GrubHub for such an order when you can call the restaurant directly?
When my meal came, the sushi was amazing but there was no bubble tea. So I called the restaurant and asked if I could come get it. They said they didn’t have the flavor I requested so they didn’t charge me. But… I already paid GrubHub. I contacted GrubHub and they put the $4.24 cents into my account.
Tonight I’m in some pain and discomfort from my back. I thought a nice meal might help. GrubHub had sent me a promo code for $10 off a $30 order.
I wanted to try Braai Hut in Bethlehem as I am a fan of most African cuisines and I can make a pretty badass peri-peri sauce. I noticed they have lamb strips in peri-peri and an African form of vegetarian baked beans.
I started ordering. Now, here comes the next thing about GrubHub that completely annoys me. I had $29 in my cart instead of $30. Instead of letting me add more food, it just deletes the promo code.
So I go back to my email and click the “redeem now” button again.
The meal arrives promptly. I am very exciting to be supporting a new, small, local and ethnic restaurant.
Lamb strips with the beans and sweet potato fries
A chicken slaw burger with coleslaw
One order of chicken kebabs with sweet potato fries and roasted corn
A chicken bacon burger with coleslaw
Now, they probably ran out of beans and lamb and the screw up on the burger wasn’t the end of the earth.
But if restaurants don’t have what they have listed on GrubHub they need to have some way for the restaurant to connect with me the end user.
Because I so did not want chicken kebabs.
The corn was the best part of the meal but also the cheapest side on the menu.
I was disheartened, once again, that the whole reason I placed the order was not honored.
But now my next dilemma— to whom do I complain? I guess GrubHub.
But in their help menu they don’t have an option for “they gave me the wrong food.” I decided to click on “an item was missing.” Because my lamb was missing. And my beans.
They don’t offer a place to explain the problem, just let you click off the menu. So I clicked lamb. GrubHub refunded my meal.
Now I’m worried they are going to take that money away from the small business.
And I don’t want that.
For my final GrubHub order, I’m going to select a major chain. Then I won’t feel bad complaining if they screw it up.
But I think that will be my last GrubHub order. I’m more a #curbsidefirst girl.
First of all, let me put out there that I am not as confident as I appear in that photo. I’m almost 45. I have stretch marks, muffin top and I’ve never been stick thin (well, except for that summer I lost 30 pounds) but I’ve always tried to be healthy and strong.
I’ve had a baby. I’ve broken bones. I’ve struggled with anemia, cerebral palsy and on occasion anxiety. I’ve had great jobs I didn’t want to leave (ever) and bad jobs that I didn’t want to go to.
But like many of you, I keep going. I have shiny happy days, sleepy days, down days, days I just don’t want to end and days when I cry myself to sleep.
Today I chose this outfit as my warrior’s attire. I got the shirt and the necklace from The Attic in Bethlehem and let me tell you— I never would have bought this shirt if not for the state lockdown/pandemic.
I would have said, ‘hell, no, that’s way too skimpy.’
And left that shirt on the rack. But it looked so damn cute on the mannequin— which I think that mannequin has bigger boobs that me. No, wait. That shirt clearly looks tiny on the mannequin and my boobs are bigger.
But I decided to wear that shirt and I consider it a pledge of confidence to myself. NOTHING will intimidate me today. NO ONE will change how I feel about myself.
And I am adorable.
And to make it even more powerful, I wore my circle necklace also from The Attic. I have christened it my “keep going” amulet, because circles are round. They roll. They keep going. And this one is glittery and clear. Clear quartz is the stone used to purify things and recharge them.
Although it’s not quartz, it has a shine like quartz so I will use this necklace to remind me to keep going and keep my thoughts free of negative vibes.
Now bare with me for one more topic, I’m a little superstitious and as you can see I’m almost done with my journal. New chapters always begin at the end of my journal.
I’ve been working with Aspire for Autonomy for work, and I’ve been striking up some personal conversation with Darnell about helping with his organization. I’m impressed with his energy and hope to learn more about their goals.
So as I have mentioned—the teenager and I have made consignment shopping a pandemic sport. The Attic, a consignment shop in Bethlehem, has hosted live events and posted pictures of merchandise for sale on Facebook and Instagram.
My teen and I love to peruse the Instagram offerings and direct message each other from various parts of the house about items we think the other will like.
I ordered a bunch of necklaces. I used to wear a necklace every day and my necklaces were always symbolic. The amber I bought to purify energy around me. The emerald that reminded me who I wanted to be. The Celtic knot pentacle pendant that reminded me of my heritage and my spirituality.
I stopped wearing necklaces because Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, thinks it’s a game to bite the chains in half. And I didn’t know what necklace fit anymore.
So I bought used jewelry.
Now the necklace on the bottom of the photo is my standard one with my pentacle, my amber and a charm my father gave me recently to remind me that he loves me.
But the others are from my Attic buying spree.
And I don’t know what made me buy Horus. I think I started with the red strands of tiny beads. Then that sparkly circle. And Horus was an impulse. (I had already paid my invoice when the Attic posted the Tiger’s Eye necklace.)
And the Tiger’s Eye I bought very intentionally for the stone’s properties as, to borrow from one random website, “A stone of protection,Tiger Eyemay also bring good luck to the wearer. It has the power to focus the mind, promoting mental clarity, assisting us to resolve problems objectively and unclouded by emotions. Particularly useful for healing psychosomatic illnesses, dispelling fear and anxiety.” (Charms of Light)
I can use some focus and good luck.
But why Horus?
I saw the bird with the stone in his belly and thought he’d be homage to my flock. And I thought he looked Egyptian, so as a pagan and a former scholar of Africa, the attraction made sense.
But today as I got ready for work, I was overcome with the urge to know who my bird pendant was and the magical properties of turquoise.
So, turquoise: (from the same web site) “Turquoiseis a purification stone. …Turquoise balances and aligns all the chakras, stabilising mood swings and instilling inner calm. It is excellent for depression and exhaustion, it also has the power to prevent panic attacks.Turquoisepromotes self-realization and assists creative problem solving.“
Are you noticing a theme? Albeit a coincidental one. This is what I mean about the universe sending tools and magical objects. (I posted about this concept in my witchcraft series: My previous witchcraft series)
So I googled Egyptian bird gods and found my falcon-man Horus. And this is what encyclopedia Brittanica told me:
“Horus, EgyptianHor,Har,Her,orHeru, in ancientEgyptian religion, a god in the form of afalconwhose right eye was the sun or morning star, representing power andquintessence, and whose left eye was the moon or evening star, representing healing. Falcon cults, which were in evidence from late predynastic times, were widespread in Egypt.“
My daughter and I have developed a fascination with The Attic Clothes in Bethlehem as they have been hosting online sales on Instagram and Facebook.
We’ve been supporting small local business and indulging in one of the great teen girl sports of all time— consignment store shopping.
I’m going to switch up the chronology of this piece since right now the teenager, my blind friend, Nan, and I are among several other cars in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot.
This experience can be summed up as— as my daughter put it— Nothing Just Happens.
So, Nan, being blind and a little strange, decided to wear her mask over her eyes.
We invited her along to pick up our consignment items. We stopped at the teenager’s grandmother’s to drop off a stepladder we borrowed. And her grandfather bought her the new Cats movie on DVD, like seeing it three times in the theatre wasn’t enough.
We had promised to take Nan for a car ride and stop at Dunkin for coffee and snackin’ bacon. And we all shared a matcha since Nan had never had any.
It was starting to look like the perfect day for the teen.
Until she discovered I messed up her coffee and she didn’t like it. So we went through the drive through a second time. This time we were going to order Munchkins too!
The teen wanted the 50 count bucket that looked like it came out of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But since we’re all gaining weight— the only way we were getting 50 munchkins is if Nan were taking 45 of them home to share with all her neighbors.
But they said they were out of munchkins. And they were paid for. So I told the poor guy to throw anything in the bag. He asked if I would accept a donut or two. I said sure. I think he was uneasy that I made him choose but he gave us a chocolate cake donut, which Nan and I split, and a chocolate iced donut with sprinkles which we gave to the teen.
That and her blue raspberry coolatta will have her high as a kite by the time we get home.
We were cleaning the garage earlier and removed about 150 gallons of garbage— she’ll have the energy to go home and finish the job, hoisting furniture over her head like a she-hulk.
So while the teen is trying on clothes in the backseat (skills learned in marching band), quasi-modeling her purchases, there are people wondering what the hell is up with us.
And Nan says it makes me look like the normal one.
The teenager wanted to get out of the house yesterday and I knew as a responsible adult we needed some fresh produce.
With the Coronavirus still keeping our state on lockdown, I’ve been trying to explore as many small local businesses as I can that are adapting to the situation.
I’ve never been to Tucker, an Australian Cafe at the Simon Silk Mill in Easton. They hosted an amazingly successful benefit to raise money to fight the Australian brush fires.
So they already have my admiration.
The only friend I know who ate there was not impressed— she felt rushed and a tad snubbed by their waitress.
But I’ve been intrigued by their recent business model… They’ve adapted by becoming “Tucker Provisions” and it’s like a drive up general store.
They feature a a variety of other local and regional farmers, vendors, and small businesses. The apples in the picture are from Bethlehem’s Scholl Orchard. The golden raisins are super plump and juicy, so good.
And I am so looking forward to trying the potatoes, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, rhubarb and broccoli.
I even splurged on some Mexican soda.
While we were out, the teenager spotted these:
“Mom,” she says as the car is stopped. “There are some really nice rocks over there.”
“Go get them,” I tell her.
Maybe she’ll be a geology major.
For supper last night I decided I wanted homemade cream of broccoli soup. We have some heavy whipping cream in the fridge that’s past its date, more than a week past, and I hate to waste.
And Tucker had broccoli.
Now I never follow a recipe, never exactly. Either I never have all the ingredients or I just don’t want to. This was a little of both. While I prepped the soup, I roasted some of the Brussels and our last radishes and the smallest of our fingerling potatoes.
I made mini bread bowls out of the heavily discounted fresh baked but day old dinner rolls I bought at Weis last weekend and tossed in the fridge. I even toasted the removed guts of the bread bowl to make croutons on top.
Good stuff. Looking forward to enjoying it for lunch if the rain keeps up.
I’ve been allowing myself to sleep in a bit and these days I’m waking up between 6:15 and 6:30. I lay in bed sometimes until almost 7, but I’m always dressed, with pants and everything, and at my desk with a hot cup of coffee by 8:30.
I’ve enjoyed sharing an office with my birds— three budgies and a Goffin’s cockatoo—all of whom must be enjoying the electronic swing I listen to at my desk and the bird playground I have assembled for them.
Yes, that’s the teenager’s kitten who refused to get out of the cockatoo’s cage.
Now, when Nala the cockatoo destroys toys I save the salvageable pieces and put them in these spare dishes and she plays with them and throws them at the cats.
I think I have some new toys coming for the parakeets, and I also need to order them more ladders and perches because they have suddenly destroyed everything in their cage.
Work passed easily, I feel like I was quite organized and productive. And I’m offtomorrow. I took an unplanned paid time off to take care of some health issues. So it will be part trip to the pharmacy, part virtual doctor visit and part mental health day.
There’s a contact we have at work at a local company that is the point person for a rather large food drive that benefits our agency. Because of the state lockdown, they can’t host this food drive so the employees contributed cash instead, but she didn’t want to mail it and our offices are closed.
So the teenager and I took a road trip. It’s strange when a 25-mile round trip to the next town and back feels like a major outing. I donned my mask, put on my gloves and we exchanged an envelope of cash in the parking lot.
That might be the closest I will ever come to feeling like a drug dealer. Nope, scratch that. I’ve driven around with a trunk full of Girl Scout cookies.
My teenager and I have the best conversations while in the car. We talked a lot about financial responsibility and budgeting and how important it will be for her to determine her own style of fiscal management. She admires my discipline, chicanery and creativity with making my money work for me.
I taught her about different ways to trick yourself into putting money into savings. The first of course is to set up automatic transfers. Another is to have a portion of your paycheck direct deposited into savings.
The easiest is to always, as soon as you take a new job, decide on a number of how much goes into retirement if your job offers a retirement plan. That way before you even see how much your take home pay is, the money goes into your future.
And if your job doesn’t have retirement options, go to your bank and contribute to an IRA. Every year. Because money saved when you are young goes far.
That motivated me to go ahead and take the plunge and use that last $1,000 of my stimulus check that I had put into savings and use it to prepay for 400 gallons of fuel oil for next winter’s heat at $2.199.
That was painful. But at least it’s over. Next I need to contact the dentist about the $859 bill they sent me for my crown. My insurance company didn’t cover anything but $17. I’m annoyed because the dentist thought they’d pay 50%, the tooth still isn’t right AND the bill they sent didn’t include the credit for the $394 I already paid.
But paying for the fuel oil was enough adulting for today.
The teenager made an amazing steak dinner.
And Nala loves onion rings.
The teenager discovered, because I sent her an Instagram post, that The Attic thrift store has an online sale and bid on a red dress. That she won.
I love the ingenuity our local small businesses are showing. I hope it continues after the lockdown ends.
Last but certainly not least, I tried this Cascara tea which is supposedly full of antioxidants and it tasted really good.