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.

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.

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.

Cats, doctors and Dunkin’

I was up until 2 am last night cuddling kittens and watching Gotham Garage on Netflix.

The Fluff butts of the Norse Pride are battling ringworm— the teenager and I also have that fungal delight.

When I woke this morning around 7, I saw an email from my new employer StitchFix telling me that my orientation is 6:30 am to 3 pm on Monday— and my doctors appointment for my blood pressure, itching, anxiety and cerebral palsy. But now I also have ringworm and some aching in my ribs from my fall.

I really didn’t want to start my new job with all of these things untreated. Luckily my doctor’s office had an opening today.

And I had trouble with all of the apps to do the paperwork for StitchFix. Still haven’t straightened it out.

I decided to change up my makeup for Zeus and Apollo’s adoption today. Teenager #1 and I headed to Chaar to meet their new family.

I hope they send lots of photos!

I promised the teenager an egg wrap from Dunkin on the way home but for some reason the app wouldn’t let me order eggs.

The doctor’s visit went fine and their social worker will call me to help with Medicaid and whatnot.

On the way home from the doctor, I finally got the egg wrap for the teenager, a doughnut with sprinkles for the other teenager, a glazed doughnut for my friend who was coming over, and I finally got to try the sourdough egg sandwich.

MY REVIEW

The bread is bigger than the eggs. Very spongy and I feel like it would make delicious toast. I feel like the bread would be better as a side. Or as a BLT. For $5– I’d rather have one of their other egg sandwiches.

Random Sunday update

I have so many potential posts running around in my head, I am opting to combine them all in a long post.

Coffee review: Bread and Basket French Roast

So I made a new brand of coffee this morning, Bread and Basket French Roast from ShopRite. It was the same price as the Folger’s Black Silk I bought at Target. Wonderful aroma and while it looked like it brewed extra strong and my cream didn’t really lighten it, it tasted just right.

Weight and stress relief

I have started counting calories again, using Fooducate this time and not My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal has more information such nutritional tracking and macros and connects more seamlessly with iHealth. Fooducate focuses on the quality of calories you eat, and since my stress foods are processed and refined carbohydrates I find that the best step in my process right now.

I had lost a solid two pounds this week but last night’s binge of Doritos and horseradish dip, sour patch kids and two alcoholic beverages reacquainted me with half a pound AND gave me nightmares.

Kittens

I haven’t even had a change to truly introduce the Norse Pride Kittens I am pet sitting for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. They don’t have a permanent foster placement yet so we may keep them as they are friendly, jolly and fluffy two-pound kittens. See them on YouTube here: Norse Pride.

Hermes of the Greek Pride is doing well but scratched his nose. Stopping to see Zeus and Apollo today. They are at Chaar in Forks Township. Chaar’s web site

And finally my look of the day:

**Since I wrote this post, it has been brought to my attention I called the Shoprite brand Bread and Basket instead of Bowl and Basket. Oops! Can’t blame me for that— I managed to get my waist into the leg hole of my panties today.

Inner Goddess

I know a lot of people that work hard and that aren’t afraid to hustle and get the job done.

My step mom is one of the hardest working women I know— and she has two businesses that she thinks about all of the time.

My mother-in-law ran garment factories, and while she probably would never consider herself a shrewd businesswoman she was. She kept her factories going and fixed other factories’ mistakes when the garment manufacturing industry declined here in the United States.

Now I want to launch a public relations business (We are Thrive Public Relations) with my partner Darnell but I’m also looking for positions to pay the bills as we get our initial clients together.

My neighbor Sarah has a friend who opened her own independent skin care salon. Merri has a unique vision of a skin care oasis— a place of rest and restoration inside and out.

For all of us women, especially women of a certain age accustomed to giving so much of ourselves, we need that kind of rejuvenation.

Merri has asked me to help her with her marketing and, since we are both women in a troubled economy starting businesses, we will exchange services instead of cash.

So tomorrow I will get my first ever facial at Lucha Bella. (Lucha Bella web site)

And I wonder if Merri would appreciate these words of wisdom from my mother-in-law… when asked the secret to her successful leadership she responded:

Sometimes I wear two different socks. Sometimes I eat a jelly doughnut.

Esther Parry

Barometer of mood

Earlier this week and late last week I was struggling emotionally— my financial status growing more precarious and my friends feeling distant, etc. Nothing any more serious than what many other people are going through.

And then Tuesday happened.

That was yesterday I think.

I had Zoom meetings, Google Meets, programs and in person meetings from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. After a coffee meet with a marketing client, I accompanied an ASPIRE peer to our new office space in downtown Easton. I’m not sure it’s official official yet so I can’t provide details.

But I went to use the restroom.

And I forgot I had car keys in my pocket and they fell into the flushing toilet. Whooooop— right down the hole.

Well.

My first thought was, “What do I do????”

And then I realized I have the only electronic key fob currently in existence for my car.

So I stuck my hand into the toilet. Thank heavens they were there. Pulled them out, covered a paper towel with some sanitizer, wiped it down and popped the fob apart to try and dry it.

And I laughed at the situation. A few days earlier I would have cried.

In other silly news, my crew had some fun with musical instruments. YouTube videos here:

Low brass and bass drummer playing without the whole band (teenagers 1 & 2)

Recorder lesson from a blind lady and euphonium in background

Seven Nation Army

Those happy little things

The past few days have been a roller coaster. A cliche I know but the simplest way to describe life.

Something spooked the budgies at 5 a.m. this morning, which in turn spooked the cockatoo. I had not caged the cockatoo as we had a rough day yesterday and she was mad at me. So I turned the light on to soothe everyone and Nala (my Goffin) flew into my bed with me.

This blog will be mostly a random list of nice things with pictures and a review of McDonald’s spicy nuggets.

So let’s handle the review first.

Angel’s Review of McDonald’s spicy nuggets

I like them. Very much. Good with a side of ranch.

For more on our trip to McDonald’s for Buy One Get One nuggets — with TWO teenagers— see our video on YouTube: Taste Test: Spicy Nugs

Onward…

MY teenager had her first day of Zoom classes as part of her hybrid public high school yesterday. Her friend, who will affectionately be “the second teenager” in this space, joined us.

After class, we visited our friends at Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab to get a large crate for our Greek Pride Foster Kittens so we could segregate Hermes as he has ringworm.

(For more on the kittens:

Zeus and Apollo

Kittens are one of the things that make me happy.

Other things that make me happy: