I like my coffee pot

That’s all I got for ya.

It’s 5:15 a.m., on my final Wednesday of my 10-hour Sunday to Wednesday shifts at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I loved these shifts. I love having three days off. But as of Monday, I will be Monday to Friday, “normal” 8-hour shifts, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. More change.

My chiropractor had a class last week so I missed my regular adjustment and now I can feel my hip moving inward. I never expected that this journey to improve my fitness and awareness of how my body works (if you aren’t a regular I have diplegic spastic cerebral palsy) would lead to this strange zeroing in… I am starting to pinpoint these subtle differences, but I am still learning how to fix them.

I bailed on my strength coach Andrew last night. He had asked to move my Monday session to Tuesday and by Tuesday (yesterday), I just didn’t have it in me. I didn’t sleep well. My stress was through the roof. I overdid it Monday (trying to prove myself to no one but me). And to top it all off, my diet had been all processed foods. When I felt that hip turning inward, I knew my body needed me to stop.

So here we are, the final Wednesday. The third day of my life with my new Ninja DualBrew coffee pot. Unboxing video here.

The Teenager got her second fix, and she loved it. She was aghast to learn that a sweatshirt could cost $78 at full retail price, but I think this experience will teach her the difference between the workmanship of different brands. She asked me not to record her trying things on, but I wish she had because the fit and look of this fix was exponentially better than the first. Unboxing video here.

I have to leave for work in a moment, but let me say I am on my second cup of Green Mountain Dark Magic coffee, courtesy of one of the Teenager’s clients, and I must say it’s the only coffee to keep pace with my Supercoffee.

The Ninja DualBrew has been great so far. I like the brewing options, the heat and strength of the coffee, but I am making small errors in operating it. But I haven’t experienced any of the problems listed in the reviews. My four a.m. brain likes the K-cup option, and my weekend self loves the option to brew a pot. I have not tried iced coffee yet.

It feels like a new level of training

Andrew, my strength and fitness coach at Apex Training, has reached new levels of sadism.

I said that (partially) in jest because I love to see his face get that pensive squint when he’s digesting my regular updates of how my body feels and what my other professionals report about its function.

I feel like since my finger recovered from my burst tendon, I’ve reached new heights in stamina and my own strength. Last week, I hit a PR (personal record) with a 35-lb dumbbell row.

And things just feel like they are moving better. I’ve stumbled more than usual, but caught my balance 90 % of the time. I have less pain and I think I understand the pain better.

I’m working out three times a week and doing movements, with support Andrew has designed, like split leg squats that are torture (in a good way) and that I never thought I could do. I even work out after my ten-hour shifts at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse.

It’s hard, and exhausting, but I really think it helps get blood flow into all my aching parts and aids my sleep and ultimate recovery.

And today Andrew let me beat the big tire with a mace.

Speaking of Stitch Fix, the company has opted to move the Sunday to Wednesday 10-hour cohort. We get to choose which of the remaining shifts we want to transfer to and I’ll be putting in for the remaining 10-hour cohort, Wednesday to Saturday.

Frankly, the idea of working 5 days a week is horrifying. And I’m not thrilled with the prospect of losing my current shift.

But a warm gluten-free brownie sundae with Ben & Jerry’s cannoli ice cream softened the blow.

PS —

I put my underwear on backwards today. All day I kept wondering why my underpants felt so uncomfortable.

Stitch Fix Stories: The time I ordered earrings and I shipped them to myself from the warehouse

I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I’ve written. But when I think about it, I suppose I can. The teen had Covid. Her father had a birthday. The teen missed her much anticipated outing to the Renn Faire because of the weather and Covid. My cat Fog has determined that he likes milkbones dog biscuits.

My Stitch Fix metrics started at 103% this week and dropped to 100% and then 94% today. (But Mercury is in retrograde. The computers were malfunctioning. And either the QCers were folding too quickly or we didn’t have enough pickers because we kept running out of work.)

But despite a difficult, hot and frustrating day at the Bizzy Hizzy, I do have one amazing story to report. (And I recount it in this video below as well.)

I’m standing at my table today. My metrics are around 97% for the day. The cart I just finished was all kinds of messed up. The wrong clothes in the wrong fixes. But I got it sorted out. The pick system is quite foolproof, but mistakes still happen. My supervisor mentioned he’d put a note by my name so they stop putting me at that table on line two that stresses me out, because legitimately, it’s a medium table and it’s too high for me. I belong at a normal table.

But so far, I’m still at this medium table that caused me to break another electronic key. They hang from our lanyards and the way the lanyard falls at this table, it smashes between my body and the table as I reach toward the back of the table, causing the card to split.

At this particular point of the morning one of the outbound leads (I think? Or is she a sup? Who knows? But she’s one of the nice day shift people. Some of them still haven’t won me over) approaches my table and offers me a fist bump.

Apparently, they were doing QC audits farther down the line. That’s when they unwrap our completed, folded fixes and check them randomly for quality. They typically look for generic trends to talk about what we are doing right, how we could improve and if there are common issues.

They came to one of my fixes. It was a large box, and the fix contained three pairs of shoes, a huge sherpa-lined cardigan, and a cashmere sweater. I had arranged the boots lying down on the bottom of the box, the flats tucked into the space between the edge of the box and the boots, and the other shoes on top of the flats. I folded and wrapped the sweaters as tightly and I could and still managed to place it with the logo to the left even though it would have fit way better turned parallel to the shoes.

I could not believe I’d managed to squeeze everything into a large box.

They were also impressed. Because once they took everything out of the box, this collection of leads could not reassemble the fix so that the items went back into the box. That’s when they scanned the box to find out who did it in the first place.

They must have figured it out, because they didn’t ask for help.

Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for my Freestyle package. On Friday morning, I slipped into the Teen’s Stitch Fix account and ordered myself a multipack of earrings from Kevia. On Sunday, we work Freestyle. My supervisor asked me to QC and ship a NAP cart (non-apparel: shoes, purses, scarves and jewelry). I told him I had ordered earrings Friday and thought it would be hysterical if I found them in this cart.

My third or fourth item from the cart was a Kevia multipack of earrings. I thought, “It couldn’t be.”

So I scanned them.

The teen’s name popped up on the screen.

What are the odds? Each employee ships hundreds of packages every day from each of the six warehouses.

I shared the news with all my friends. “These are mine and I’m shipping them to my house.”

They arrived today.

They are just as pretty as I’d thought they’d be.

CEO and CMO at the Bizzy Hizzy

So last week they made this announcement at work.

The “new” Stitch Fix CEO had scheduled a visit to the Bizzy Hizzy. When founder Katrina Lake stepped down from the CEO position last year, Elizabeth Spaulding replaced her.

Elizabeth has been visiting all of the warehouses in the Stitch Fix network and her visit was the first time a CEO had visited the Bizzy Hizzy since our opening six-plus years ago.

The supervisory team at the Bizzy distributed a Google doc for warehouse associates and leaders to attend a question and answer session with Elizabeth. If we submitted what question we would like to ask, the Bizzy People & Culture office would select some of us to represent our warehouse.

Photo: the email announcing I was selected

I thought to myself, “I was a journalist for 15 years, I can ask a good question.”

I got picked!

In preparation for the CEO’s visit, our managers asked us to wear our Stitch Fix t-shirts. I went one better and also tied my “midnight society” Stitch Fix sweatshirt around my waist. Had to ‘rep’ second shift.

My supervisor and the other members of the Sunday to Wednesday 10-hour shift cohort were excited that I had been chosen, and to my delight, someone else from our cohort was also in the room.

When I arrived for the event, Emily Watts said hello. Emily is the general manager for the Mohnton facility which is Stitch Fix’s manufacturing facility here in Pennsylvania, producing the Mohnton Made clothing line.

My mother-in-law made a career out of garment manufacturing in the Kutztown area, so I’m extra excited to see American made clothing resurface.

Emily was also my store leader at one time at Target #2536. Many of the team members from that store have worked at or currently work at the Bizzy.

When I enter the room I see several small tables, creating the customary U-shape and a head table. There are twelve name plates around the U.

12.

I had no idea this would be so intimate. As we trickle in, I notice one odd thing: there is only one man among us. Everyone else is female. Did the men not read the email? Were they disinterested in the opportunity? Did they ask stupid questions?

Ethnically, age wise, and even ability wise, the room is diverse. There are two of us that I knew had disabilities— myself with my cerebral palsy and my hearing impaired colleague.

Debbie Woloshin and Cherizza Lundy entered the room first, and I had no idea who they were. Debbie plopped down beside me, and filled out her nameplate, while Cherizza did the same on the opposite side of the room in the empty seat there. Elizabeth came in, and seeing no more empty seats in the U, realized that she had to sit at the head table, so the other executives joined her.

I then learned that Cherizza is the head-of-staff and that Debbie is Debbie Woloshin, Stitch Fix’s first ever Chief Marketing Officer. She has an impressive fashion retail resume and such a great vibe. The discussion that resulted lasted almost an hour-and-a-half and I definitely felt like that panel of executives was using the visit to gauge the company’s needs from the bottom up. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think so.

We discussed what could improve the warehouse associates’ experience (growth and development opportunities as simple as peer to peer spreadsheet training and GED programs to more complex items like tuition remission; finding ways to ease childcare and transportation burdens; etc.), future growth of the company (hopes for improving technology, nurturing and expanding the Freestyle and traditional Fix businesses, and future growth of facilities (as existing facilities max out on capacity will we construct mezzanines in existing buildings, open nodes to existing buildings, or move into larger buildings). Certainly none of the discussions came with definitive answers, but you could see that the executive staff was weighing the enthusiasm, concerns and capabilities of the Bizzy Hizzy facility and team.

Well, I don’t think the building had enthusiasm or concerns. And what I also found encouraging was that our team still acted like our team. It didn’t feel like we were putting on airs for the boss.

“…we will do what we can to help and make you feel heard.”

I’ve been with the company now for almost two years, and I still believe that for a warehouse job, it’s a good job. And the company, while a little California ‘crunchy,’ has a good culture. As my original supervisor told me in my interview, “if you leave here upset after a shift, that’s on you. If you have a concern, tell us and we will do what we can to help and make you feel heard.”

Later that night, I sent connection requests to all three women and Cherizza accepted by requested at about 9:30 pm.

I hope all three women had a delightful visit not only to the Bizzy but to the Lehigh Valley in general.

In other odd little updates:

Darrell Lea Australian soft licorice made me very happy. I bought it at CVS, and after my ExtraBucks it was $1.11. I was looking for a candy treat, preferably plant-based that I wouldn’t eat in one sitting. The name sold me. It’s one letter different from my husband’s name. (Yes, I know we’re separated, but we’re not divorced yet so I feel “ex” isn’t right either. And he’s more to me than just the teenager’s father.)

I was extremely stiff yesterday — and when I admitted that to my fitness coach Andrew at Apex Training, he was brutal. Which was mean because I had already worked a full ten-hour shift. We got my heart rate up with ropes, stretched those leg muscles with weights, and did a whole bunch of split squats. I’m not stiff today, and I’m moving a whole lot better.

The teenager tested positive for Covid. Her head “felt funny” and she had post-nasal drip so she feared she might be developing an ear infection. So she went to the doctor. And tested positive for Covid. To combat this news, we ordered pizza from Domino’s and broke out some immune supplement from Target. We got the $20 family deal, which meant we got a pizza for each of us and a two liter of Diet Coke. I chased my immune supplement with a diet and gin. I almost tossed the tablet in the cocktail.

JP and Giorgio

This morning I tossed FURR fosters Jean-Paul Sartre and the random litter (they were named before I got them and have no theme so my naming convention does not apply) onto the sun porch to meet each other and perhaps influence each other. JP needs more socialization with other cats and the Random Litter, as I have christened them, need to learn that they are safe. They should be able to look at JP and realize, “hey, nothing attacked this little moron.” I filmed some videos. They are rather long and boring, but, if you’re patient, you might notice JP stalking our old man tripod Opie and little Dixie/Jenny (her folder was blank so I named her Jennifer Grey so ‘no one could put Baby in the corner,’ and then I saw online that her foster file said her name was Dixie) considering trying the cat door or making friends with my boy Fog.

My body feels wonderful… and other ridiculous tales

This week has been a roller coaster— but isn’t that just the way? People have been telling me I look like I’m loosing weight but I don’t know if that’s true.

The teenager took the dog for a rainy walk at Lafayette College the other day. She sent several very lovely photos.

I have many odds and ends making life out of the ordinary from little foster kitten Jean-Paul Sartre to my dear friend Nan moving from my neighborhood to a senior community.

Nancy in her new place

I ordered a kitchen scale off Target.com to measure Jean-Paul’s growth. He’s up to 1 lb 5 ounces. That was after a big breakfast of pate and kitten milk. He has a hearty appetite and screams for food like any baby does every 4 hours.

He is super inquisitive and smart. He carries tiny toys around in his mouth and plays with our dog, Bean. (Here’s a video.)

Meanwhile, guest fosters Coffee Bean & Pinto Bean are having fun in my room. Khloe and Louise do not like having babies around, but the cockatoo Nala sure does.

For some humor, let’s mention that the Teenager recently discovered that the Morningstar Farms breakfast Pattie’s I have been feeding her for almost two decades are vegetarian. She called her dad to find out if he had been in on this secret.

We never hid that they weren’t real sausages from her and she’s been able to read for a long time. The shock was real, and she’s still talking about it days later.

She didn’t have a chance to go grocery shopping for her nights in the kitchen. I suggested using my Hungryroot ancient grain gluten free pancake mix and the Morningstar sausages. It was a lovely, hearty breakfast-for-dinner. And like she had accused me of when she first discovered my fake breakfast meat, “It was all a lie.”

The teen also got her first fix from Stitch Fix and it came from the warehouse where I work, the Bizzy Hizzy. Click the photo to see her unbox.

Click to see what’s in the box

Speaking of work, I took voluntary time off on Monday and my stats were 100%, 88% and 98%. Andrew at Apex Training has been working be hard with exercises like split leg squats. My quads feel it. My balance is improving, my aches and pains feel like muscle fatigue and not deeper pain or joint issues. I have caught myself almost falling several times, and can sometimes feel my leg scissoring or even notice my left foot dragging behind before it trips me.

Even my chiropractor, Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center has made comments about how well my body is moving and how things are improving. Today she said my right side was locked up, when it’s usually my left, and that everything went back where it belonged easily.

When I hopped off the table, she told me to look at myself. “I have never seen you stand up with your feet so firmly planted and your poster straight,” she said.

And I felt it, I felt really solid.

So I don’t know if this is where I confess I tried the new Wingstop chicken sandwich. Most of my diet lately has been vegan. But last night I hadn’t had dinner, it was 8 pm and my body was devastated (in that good way). I could barely move after my shower. I considered skipping dinner.

But then I thought about my food intake for the day:

  • 4:30 am: Supercoffee dark roast with half and half
  • 5:30 am: Wawa coffee con lèche (it was a bribe to make myself go get gas)
  • 6:30 to 8:30 am: 20 oz water
  • 9 am: Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast bar and about 3 oz cranberry juice cocktail
  • 9:30 to 11:30 am: 20 oz water
  • 12:15 pm: quinoa with roast zucchini, white beans and my home canned roasted tomatoes, 6 oz Diet Pepsi
  • 2 to 5 pm: 20 oz water
  • 5:30 pm: sunflower seeds
  • 6 pm: 12 oz cucumber water

I thought a chicken sandwich would be good for protein and I saw the commercial for Wingstop’s new chicken sandwich on Hulu. It was good, not as big as I thought a sandwich from a chicken joint would be— but to be able to slather any sauce from their menu on our was really cool. I had a mango habanero sandwich and a side order of the honey hot rub boneless wings. It hit the spot.

Walking, workouts and waffles

I did not work a full ten hour day any day this week. But you know what? That’s okay.

My stats on Sunday were 105%, then 98 Monday, 88 yesterday and 94 today. What happened?

I don’t know. I was in pain Monday, stiff and uncomfortable yesterday and almost fell today but caught my balance.

And then Andrew at Apex put me through legs. We did split leg squats and he got to watch my hip do the funky angles it does. And I got to feel every fiber in my knees, quads and hamstrings.

Plus, I walked more than 8,000 steps today while my legs were stiff. Well after that workout they are not stiff but jelly.

The Teenager showed one of her dog walking clients some of the neighborhood dogs and their tricks— here is the video.

And then for the final event of the day we went to Waffle House as earlier this month we had heard that August 24 was National Waffle Day.

I had a scrumptious hash brown bowl with egg, cheese and jalapeños.

We split a peanut butter blueberry waffle.

These are the moments to treasure.

Commentary #2 on Stitch Fix fashion trends, waiting for first Fix

On Monday, the Teenager should receive her first Fix. I’m tremendously excited. So much so I am annoying her. But, she is 18, and I often annoy her by existing. She received her preview yesterday, and complained about it, as she said it ruined the surprise.

She selected two or three of the eight recommended items, with my input, and left her stylist some notes. I believe it was a heavy knit sweater, a thin but soft color blocked sweatshirt and some Vigoss black shorts. She rejected the cardigans, almost chose the faux leather jacket, and liked but ignored the two pairs of boots. I think in part because I have purchased her several pairs of shoes lately.

I offered to give her my employee discount and a budget to pursue some fixes as she was recently lamenting that she hasn’t had a chance yet to develop her own style. She’s paying her own bills: car payment, food, contributing toward electric and car insurance, so I thought investing some of my monthly savings into her wardrobe would be fun.

Meanwhile, I’m watching my Stitch Fix account and the trends, waiting for my turn. Which won’t be until Valentines Day.

If you want to see my overzealous first set of trend reviews, click here.

Here are some recent outfits from my recommended trends:

Let’s break these down.

Now, I do have this dress in my favorites as it is adorable, but I find it amusing that Stitch Fix is offering me the same dress in two different colors. My soul wants the red, but I feel my style now is more black. The black would give me the freedom to accessorize with a vibrant scarf, a bright purse like the one in the photo or any pair of shoes I own.

I love this ensemble— and I could even walk in the shoes. The dress is fairly heavy, too, so it should have some great drape when worn and offer some warmth.

This dress looks amazing but it’s really short and I’m not sure my middle-aged mom bumps could pull it off. I love those animal print shoes but I don’t think I can wear them so I perused the other styling options— boots, a necklace and motorcycle jacket? That is definitely awesome.

I don’t like this outfit. I like the theory— and the jacket is the one my friend Joan received in the video below. It looks nice on Joan, but I don’t like the fabric. The little green shirt looks good in the photo and seems to look good on people, but it’s just weird when you see it. The shoes are funky and I don’t like them. But the outfit might be nice.

And finally two outfits that would probably be perfect for my current lifestyle. One note: I want that mustard sweater.

Here is the video of Joan and I unboxing her recent fix:

The Teenager is already dreading when I submit her to something similar.

Changing it up… Revival?

Before the pandemic, I had an office job in nonprofit development primarily as a fundraiser. I had been hired as a communications professional, and I excelled at that work. But the toxic work environment that stemmed from the head of the organization (who would normally be referred to as the executive director, but she reveled in her title as Chief Executive Officer, perhaps because she needed the ego boost to compensate for her insecurities), led to rapid and frequent staffing changes.

(This is certainly getting long-winded for where it is going. But bear with me.) I knew all of this before I accepted the job, because I had excused myself from the interview process from the same position about a decade earlier. I had turned down the opportunity because The Teenager was a preschooler and my gut warned me that this job, and this entity, would require more energy than I could give.

This time, in part because of a really awesome person hiring me, I decided to take the challenge. When the person in charge finally burned him to his breaking point, she promoted me with assurances that I would have all of the support and guidance I would need. (In her mind, that was one hundred percent true, but unfortunately, what was in her head and what her employees needed to thrive were completely at odds with each other.)

During this period, I paid close attention to my style, my accessories and my make-up. In my youth, I didn’t have the confidence to toy with these fashion topics. Then, I had a child. Then, I worked at Target. By the end of my almost-decade in red-and-khaki and food service, I had started to experiment in make-up and other touches that could allow my personality to come through despite the dress code.

As I moved into fundraising, these choices became more important. The world hates to admit this, but in any sort of business matter, appearances count. Not necessarily because you need to be pretty to succeed, but because you need to make an impression and you need to look confident, trustworthy and project the attitude that you are an expert in your arena. That’s a little different than confident.

There are two kinds of confidence in this regard. One says, “I know who I am and I like that person and we get shit done.” (That’s the confidence my former supervisor lacked.)

The second says, “No one can do this better. When it comes to this, I know my shit.” (That’s the confidence my former supervisor had so much of that I adored her. I wanted to learn her skills and knowledge, but her instability as a leader made that impossible. Her deficit in leadership and trust led her to think any way other than hers would not only never work, but destroy everything she had built, because it her mind, it was all her. And she did build it, more than 25 years ago, and sometimes things need to change after 25 years. And sometimes, her way and someone else’s way can coexist and succeed together.)

Anyway… when I accepted my current job working evening shift (“midnight society”) at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse, I wore eye make-up for the first few months, but after I got Covid, that fell away. My shift changed, changing my wake-up time to 4:15 a.m. when I was accustomed to going to bed at 2 a.m. (I miss that shift soooooooo much.) No time for make-up when you can barely wake up.

2022 required change. I launched my business (Parisian Phoenix Publishing) while still on evening shift. Evening shift was eliminated. The first week of day shift, my dad unexpectedly died. I think I got the Delta variant at my dad’s funeral. I burst my tendon removing my socks. I struggled with hip issues. We had a small flood in the house. The teenager graduated from high school. The teenager had a car accident, her first.

2022 wants to kick my ass, but I keep giving it hell. I’ve started weeding and reorganizing my wardrobe even though I’m still 25 pounds overweight. I’ve started spending time on the Stitch Fix app, combing the options and the styling ideas. (More on that here.)

And now that this very short topic is very long… I just wanted to tell you I wore jewelry today.

Reviewing the trends in my Stitch Fix account

There’s an old Grimm’s fairy tale where someone catches on fire, and having no water, the onlooker urinates on the person burning to extinguish them. It’s rather horrifying to read, and when you do, you realize just how much Disney has sanitized our lives.

But, if anything, that is an accurate depiction of how this week has felt. Hopefully now the fires are out and if I’m lucky Cinderella will stop by, clean my hearth, and we can hit up Fairy Godmother for a night on the town.

It’s the beginning of my weekend. They say temperatures will drop by ten degrees by tomorrow night. I have seen more evidence that my service dog application is in process. And my body, though fatigued by the extreme temperatures and long days in the Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix warehouse, has not experienced pain or falls this week.

So I thought I’d do something light and frivolous and fashion-oriented, which is legitimately something I need to do more often as author of the Fashion and Fiends series. Buy my books here. If you prefer to avoid the Big A, try Bookshop.org here.

The whole reason I work at Stitch Fix is because 10+ years ago when I still had a print subscription to Vogue magazine, I read about this revolutionary clothing subscription box. Six-plus years ago, they opened a warehouse a couple miles away from where my husband’s grandfather had the family farm. The people who left Target while I worked there either left for Stitch Fix or Amazon. The former Target employees who went to Stitch Fix were elated with their new jobs at this place where I had wanted to be a client.

When I lost my non-profit development job, I thought if I can’t have the clothes maybe I can at least handle them.

In early November, I will celebrate my second anniversary with the company. I have shopped at the employee store (the deals, amazing!), and I recently ordered shoes from Freestyle through my friend, Joan the talented photographer and archivist of Plastiqueville, who is the current recipient of my employee discount.

We can only change our discount designee once every six months and I believe Joan has had it for a year. It has been really fun watching her get “fixes.” But after her fix this month, I plan to transfer the discount to The Teenager. The teenager wishes to develop her own style and I think this is a great way to do it.

When she completes her journey, I’d like to sign up. Meanwhile, I’m working frantically in the Stitch Fix app to help the algorithm learn my style. By the time a stylist gets me, the computer should have me all mapped out.

These are some of the current trends Stitch Fix curated for me and my reactions.

For larger photos, open the gallery.

  1. Gold Ray Asymmetrical Cold Shoulder sweater, cheetah wrap skirt, stone bead bracelet in warm tones and flip flops. I have wanted this sweater since I first laid eyes on it. I also think it would look good on the Teen. The skirt looks amazing in the photo, but I think in real life… The skirt would flop open, my belly would bulge out from under the sweater and the flip flops would be an expensive fall hazard.

2. White Tank, studs, jean cut-offs, and green Vans. Great basic outfit. But I wouldn’t pay premium brand prices for it. I already purchased the green Vans, but due to a thorough bleaching mine around one-of-a-kind two-tone.

3. Similar to two: Patterned flowy tank, similar shorts but more distressed, autumn tone bracelet and thin mustard flats. I have not seen this tank in person, which is surprising since I fold about 750 articles of clothing a day. It looks like it might be really cute. I love the bracelet. And I like these shorts more than the previous because they are more casual and roughed up.

These shoes have a very almost jute texture, it’s really cool and I am super-into this vivid mustard color right now. That said, these shoes are super narrow and I doubt I could walk in them. But, they do come in several colors and pack nicely. Great vacation shoes.

4. Patterned dress, purse, shoes. I have nothing against the outfit. But, boring. And that purse seems like it would get dirty easily and not hold the three items the Teenager says I always have: tampons, pens, and food rations.

5. & 6. Ribbon tied tank, skirts, bags and sandals. I am putting these two ensembles because they really are variations on a theme. I don’t like anything in either outfit except for the tank. It’s the same tank in two different colors. It’s a decent fabric, and has a triangle in the cleavage area tied together with a wide ribbon. I like the style, though I can’t say I’m a fan of the navy blue. The white, on the other hand, I like. While it is easily stained, it is also very versatile.

7. & 8. Late sixties, early seventies? Before my time chic. I appreciate both of these styles, but they seem dated to me. I would fall in both pairs of shoes. If the gold top is the one I think it is, it feels rough. And I can’t wear an open cardigan. I have no shoulders to hold it up.

9. & 10. Dresses and big totes. This is my style. I love dresses. I already own the mustard tote. The ensemble with the striped dress, lightweight coat and sandals would be a cool mate to my tote, but I wouldn’t buy it. I don’t have enough time in my life to wear sandals. The dress, with its colors and pattern, wouldn’t match enough other items in my warddrobe. But that coat does match my bag.

The red dress looks super cute, and traditional I could totally do the “lady in red” look. And the boots, I need them. Now.

11. Faux leather jacket, jeans (bootcut), clunky shoes, and a funky messenger baggish thing. I love this outfit, but I would switch out the shirt. The shirt is boring. Love the shoes and the bag. I’ve handled a lot of the faux leather jackets, and they are okay. I think this brown color would be flexible.

12. & 13. Tanks and long jeans. I like both these looks but probably like the earrings best. I can’t wear wedges. Ever. The purse is a weird shape and the pattern is too much. I love white jeans, but don’t think I’d invest in a pair until I get a little thinner. But they would look great with the magenta patterned tank with the flared wide-leg jeans. Would I wear the jeans? If I found the right shoes.

14. Ruched crossover sleeveless lavender top, cuffed jeans, slouchy bag, and striped sandals. This is a very update take on what I called the sixties/seventies retro chic in 7 & 8. It’s very relaxed and easygoing, but I wouldn’t wear a single piece of it.

15. The basic sundress beach look. Love the sundress. For a small purse, I like this. I think I keep trying to buy the mustard yellow one that matches my tote. And while I love the shoes, I can’t wear anything that unstable.

16. & 17. Little black dress(es). I really love the ruching on the dress on the left, but I think it wouldn’t hang right on my shape. The little green slouchy boots so remind me of my middle school years, the late 1980s. That means I like them, but I don’t like them. I definitely prefer the tan boots in outfit 10. And while I like the shoes in outfit 11 in brown, here are the same shoes in black and I don’t like them. The purse on the left is unimpressive, but I totally desire the purse on the right. The black and white checks would be a fabulous accent to any solid color piece or pieces.

18. & 19. Upgrades to jeans and a t-shirt. Both of these are decent looks, but I hate both pairs of shoes. The jeans are unimpressive, but I think I like the yellow v-neck top and the bracelet.

20. Casual dressed up? I love the soft feel of this sweater and the buttons but the color doesn’t excite me. I would have to see the jeans on to know for sure how I feel about them, but I’m starting to believe distressed jeans have to be straight, or skinny, in order to have any sort of feminine vibe other than “I’m destitute.”

I have a pair of shoes similar to these, but I can’t walk in them. I take them out of my closet and try periodically and wear them until I almost twist an ankle.

And I like the flashy earrings with a relaxed combo.

21. Feminine distressed. Okay, I might work this look. With my mustard tote it might look amazing, especially if I get the mustard coat.

But seriously, these look to be higher waisted and slightly slimmer distressed jeans. I like the faded wash and the lack of cuffs. I have short legs so we don’t need to make them look any shorter. I love the scoop deck, shaped polka dot top reminiscent of a sun dress. And I have the earring set from Nakamol Chicago but in brown instead of blue. And I not only like the shoes, but I really feel the creamy neutral and they look like suede or faux suede. And I think I could walk in them.

22. Nope. There is nothing positive I can say about this one. I find most of the Daniel Rainn blouses are tacky. And this one outdoes itself. The shoes are boring and basic as are the jeans. And the purse is just ugly and a weird size, too big to be “small” and too small to shove in books, a lunch or a laptop.

23. Back to School. I think I like the shoes. Not sure. Backpack is loud. Shorts are too long. T-shirt the color of a foggy day. Boring.

Updates, announcements and anecdotes

It’s just about to turn 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The last 48 hours have been emotionally difficult, and those are internal challenges I have resolved within myself but now I need to “make right” in the world.

My good friend Joan (the talented photographer) had quipped that the moon is in “Frustrato” phase and perhaps that is accurate.

Sometimes it’s nice to blame the universe instead of accepting our part in the mayhem. Because even good intentions spark fires.

I heard a podcast yesterday; I believe it was an economic one, that asked if one host was “a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of guy.” He replied, “it’s just half.”

That’s too much enigma and philosophy for pre-dawn hours. Blame the fact that my trusty espresso machine only filled half my mug.

Mug from Purr Haus in Emmaus

The teenager and I had 14 kittens in the house Saturday, Sunday and Monday offering temporary lodging for these babies whose official Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab foster families have gone on summer vacation.

They were so much fun to have around, but 11 went home last night. This led the Teenager’s officially adopted foster fail Mars of the Roman Pride distraught that his friends had gone. He screamed until the Teenager released him into “gen pop” where he plopped himself down in front of the remaining visitors.

On Friday, I had a rather grueling session at Apex Training with my coach Andrew. We did some intense work on balance and single leg muscle stability. On Saturday, the communication between my brain and my lower body felt rickety (for lack of a better description) and it was challenging to move. By Sunday, the movement felt smoother but my phone was registering spikes in walking asymmetry. But something very interesting happened Monday— I could not only stand on one leg, but I could also hold my leg in a few seconds of a quad stretch.

Yesterday, I visited the Stitch Fix employee store, which resulted in a good news/bad news scenario. I bought myself jewelry on an impulse and discovered my second holes could still accept earrings. As someone who really grew up in the 80s and graduated high schools in the 1990s, I have three sets of holes in my ears.

I bought the Teenager some new things, including some warm hiking style boots for fall and her dog walks. I bought myself an adorable pair of shorts, and I picked one size up from my pre-existing Stitch Fix clothes and they were too small.

Obviously my efforts to reduce my recent (as in pandemic era) weight gain have been not sincere enough. Sigh. I’m trying to eat better and move more without falling into a strict/restrictive mindset.

But I did eat an entire medium pizza from Domino’s the other night. It was a medium hand-tossed crust, light on the cheese, light on the garlic Alfredo sauce with red peppers and pineapple.

On the way home from work last night, I noticed that the furniture store looked abandoned— and that the sign merely said urn.

In the background of all of this, the ‘cat book’ from Parisian Phoenix has hit some unexpected difficulties prompting a delay in its production. But my quick thinking, after a few hours of pondering, have inspired an interim release of a mini cat book featuring advice and stories about the care of cats. The larger book will come later, perhaps in early 2023.

In the meantime, I am very puzzled why my sweet tripod foster Louise has decided to crate herself.

And the most surprising item of the day was receiving my first catalog for Parisian Phoenix Publishing— Uline junk mail!

I suppose the last update is that the people at Susquehanna Service Dogs have cashed my check for the application fee. I’m anxiously awaiting contact.

To say life has been hectic feels like an understatement.