Slowing down

I did something I haven’t done in a while… I went to work on time. I had been going into the office an hour early every day.

I stayed home. Spent time with Nala. Packed a lovely salad for lunch. Balanced my budget. Did three days worth of dishes. Even vacuumed and cleaned the bird cages.

The teenager came home from school and did laundry.

And on top of all that, work went super well. My new colleague and I approach everything as a team. She has a strong background in non-profit development and I have a strong background in communications so we approach everything from our respective strengths.

And I think the result is ten times better than either of us could do alone.

That makes me feel so good.

I even did a pretty intense little weight training workout before my nail appointment tonight. Short but left me feeling it.

As for my nails… they are so brittle and short right now it makes me sad. But I can’t be sad because my nail polish color is happi.

State of the menagerie

Author’s note: this post was originally posted last week but somehow got unpublished and republished in the wrong order.

Let’s start with the kitten…

Mistofelees is still on our sun porch. The teenager has her room 100% clean and ready to accept the new member of the household though she and the teen have not worked out an agreement for when she will sign her lease.

The two have been playing, footage of which can be seen here: Playing Kitten

Some of our other neighbors are feeding her braver siblings and hope to catch them because they know of a potential home.

And then there is Naughty Nala. She was mad at me from the time I got home from work yesterday until I came home today. Refusing to step up, refusing to come out of her cage, biting me if I went near.

But today she seemed to forgive me for going to work. She stepped up beautifully and snuggled like a sweetheart chattering away.

She stood on the dishwasher while I made dinner and while we ate. To reward her, we fed her sweet potato fries which she loved. Video here: Nala is a Sweet Potato Girl (that’s a pun, referring to Tori Amos’ Cornflake Girl.)

If you don’t know the song, let me take you back to my college days: Cornflake Girl

It must be January

The gym is really crowded.

The teenager asked to go to the gym and I didn’t want to go but I went. All I did was 10 minutes on the bike. But I came and that is something.

That’s enough for me right now.

As a parent, I told the teenager I would never say no if she wanted to drag me to the gym.

My yellow budgie, Peek-a-Boo (whom we nicknamed Boo-Boo), had an episode of night fright last night and woke me up at 4:30. I had gone to bed shortly after nine, so I had trouble falling back to sleep.

I ended up doing some writing for work. When the house is still and your mind is fresh, it’s amazing how easily ideas flow. Even if it is 5 a.m.

I packed my yogurt, fruit and granola parfait for lunch, substituting some chocolate Fontina brand Christmas cookies for breakfast. Lunch didn’t happen until 1:45 so that didn’t help my fatigue.

NALA

But I got some amusing text messages when my daughter got home from school. I had set Nala up with her new toys, fresh fruit and romaine and Hulu set to hours of Sesame Street.

My daughter went to check on her, which says a lot about how far their bond has come as a week ago my teenager was afraid of Nala and vice versa.

Today I got a text that the teenager planned on offering Nala tea. This photo followed:

And it looks like Nala did not pluck today. Now Nala was also glad to see me when I got home, though we had a disagreement about where Nala was going to sit while I ate dinner.

I think Nala thought my plate was her plate. So I ended up with a pretty pointed beak stab in the middle of my middle finger.

DINNER

The teenager says she’d like to lean toward vegetarianism. So we’ve reduced the amount of meat we buy.

Last night’s dinner was homemade mozzarella that my neighbor received as a Christmas gift, spinach, a Pillsbury flaky buttermilk biscuit, two poached eggs and imitation bacon bits.

Tonight’s dinner was “Greek Night.” I made that up. It’s a mess of stuff from the cupboards. But it doesn’t qualify as vegetarian, only pescatarian.

I made a green salad of chopped romaine lettuce, two kinds of olives, the mozzarella again, and avocado. I added two prepared Greek Salads from Lidl: one a giant white bean salad and the second a tomato-based lentil salad. I also served “calamari fries” from Lidl, which are basically thick chunks of potato somehow mixed with calamari.

The teenager had her salad with light ranch dressing. I had mine with a Whole 30 approved balsamic vinaigrette. I made a salad for lunch tomorrow (but didn’t include the calamari). That’s the featured photo for this entry.

Well, now for the amazing part of this entry.

BEDTIME

Last night I tried to put Nala to bed at 6:30 and sit downstairs so she could sleep. Just like a baby, she screamed for Mommy. I returned to my room, and watched TV on my iPad in the dark just load enough so she knew I was here.

Tonight I put her to bed at 6:30, left my pink night light on, covered her and went to the gym.

When I came back an hour later, she didn’t even rustle. I’m tiptoeing around my room as not to wake her.

Goodnight, Nala.

Our Animal-ventures: Finding Dogs and Nala

My daughter is still obsessive-compulsive about the new Cats movie. Since she lost a field mouse in her room last night, I suggested maybe she clean today.

Somehow I told her that if she got her room clean I would gladly take her to Cats again. Even though I would rather go to the dentist.

But that’s how much I want her room clean.

And so far she’s done five or six loads of laundry, found a pile of dishes and probably emptied the vacuum cleaner more times than she can count.

And she’s filled two 30 gallon trash bags.

I may be spending tomorrow at Cats.

My morning

I spent my morning picking up a little, hanging out with the budgies and watching the roomba vacuum.

Then I spent about 90 minutes working on my budget through April and paying bills.

I have been contemplating buying a computer so I can work from home this winter when it snows.

But it’s just so hard with the price of Apple products on the rise. I need to research some refurbs.

I thought maybe it would be fun to visit a bird store. So I googled that. Bird Mania on Emmaus Avenue.

Double Click Computers

Our first stop was Double Click Computers between Bethlehem and Nazareth. They were once the only Apple service people in the Lehigh Valley. Then the Apple Store moved in at the Lehigh Valley Mall.

My first computer was a PowerBook 165 in 1994. I’ve never owned anything but Macs. I’ve had the first Mac Mini prone to overheating. I had a Performa. I had iBooks, MacBooks, and MacBook Airs. Even the one shaped like a toilet seat. I had a G4. I had a tower with a built-in Zip drive.

I feel like I’ve had all the Mac products. I had the first Time Capsule, which also overheated. Though I never had an iMac. Or did I? I might have had a hand-me-down.

So it was fun to consider buying the new MacBook Pro. But the $1400 price tag scared me.

But they had dogs. 3 dogs.

They were a lot of fun and apparently they keep children from banging on the computer keyboards.

Next, the birds.

Bird Mania

Most of the birds we saw were sold or boarding.

There was a boarding macaw that was very adamant about screaming. And an African Grey that talked quietly. Another bird that said “whatever.” Several that shook. I don’t know whether it was anxiety or fear. A lot of singing and a lot of squawking.

I saw a green bird named Beetle and an African Grey named Dorian and thought “wait a minute.” I was at Three Birds Coffee House and Beetle and Dorian were on vacation.

“Excuse me,” I asked the staff, “are these birds from Easton?”

Sure enough, I had found where the birds were vacationing. Maybe next time the owners can let me watch them.

I wanted to see cockatiels.

But a cockatoo made a move on me.

Nala

Her name is Nala. Her feathers were a tad matted, and she had plucked herself in some spots. She kept reaching through the cage.

So the teen wanted to see if we could handle her. As in pet her.

The staff warned me that she always seemed pleasant but she wouldn’t “step up” and she bites.

But she agreed to let us try.

Nala came out and sat on her cage door and kept trying to bite me and wouldn’t “step up.” But she let me pet her and play with her. And scratch her head and under her wings.

But she kept biting me.

The teenager refused to touch her.

I noticed she had lovely orange cheeks and orange under her crown feathers.

But I had to say goodbye.

The staff person said they had a boy who was a bird whisperer and he couldn’t get anywhere with her. I took that as my solace and my consolation. Then the staff member added, “but she really seems to like you.”

Wow.

My family had a cockatoo, probably 30 years ago. So I know how demanding and needy they are. And expensive. So I asked, “how much are cockatoos going for these days?”

“Because she’s older and bites, she’s $600.”

Sorry, Nala. I’m a single mom.

The staff member gets a towel to corner her. They start this dance around all the cages. I feel terrible. I step close. Nala now will “step up.” And she perches on my shoulder.

Look at her.

So I pet her more and try to kneel by her cage. She gets on the door. Refuses to go in. And plucks out one of her white and orange chest feathers as if to say, “you can’t leave me.”

Heartbroken.

Dinner at Taco Bell

We ended up at Taco Bell. And the teenager made this funky but delicious concoction of two parts Diet Pepsi and one part Mango iced tea.

  • She had normal tacos but I ordered all my items from the value menu. I started with the spicy potato taco ($1) because it sounded intriguing, then the Frito and beef burrito ($1) because that just sounded weird, and a bean and cheese and rice burrito ($1) for protein.
  • Fritos in my burrito.
  • The spicy potato taco was really tasty. I bet it would be amazing with eggs.
  • The Friti burrito gave the soft taco just the right amount of crunch.

    The Lonely Kitten

    Our house is probably the biggest menagerie in the neighborhood.

    Budgies…

    Cats…

    And dogs that stop by and hang out even when they don’t belong to us, even on Christmas morning.

    So a few months ago, this cute gray cat starting hanging out under my neighbor’s porch. My neighbor borrowed a trap, and she and my daughter tried to catch it. They failed.

    Though my teen did catch a possum.

    The cat seemed to disappear so we hoped it had found a home.

    But oh no. Early last week in the bitter cold and snow, three kittens appeared. All dark gray with big brown eyes.

    Momma seems to roam the neighborhood and when she’s gone, the kittens wander. So my daughter feeds them and brings them water. But she can’t catch them.

    As soon as Momma returns, they all return to under the porch.

    But now the shyest of the kittens seems to be the only one left. Have the braver kittens gone with Momma?

    He just sits in the bushes and cries.

    I want to bring the poor baby home.

    The lonely kitten (if we catch it, its name shall be Mistoffelees.)

    Christmas Bomb (part 1, at home)

    Good morning and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

    My teenager asked me to open her presents last night so I allowed it. Why not? She’s a teenager so it spares me waiting for her to get out of bed in the morning.

    So I’m enjoying a cup of coffee, after trying to pick up all the wrappings, thinking about my friends far and wide that I miss.

    My daughter bought me these lovely winter boots, which are nice and warm and toasty but I am very glad I don’t have to test them in snow today. She also bought me penguin socks and replaced the teapot she destroyed a couple months ago.

    She melted a Le Creuset teapot. Really. She did.

    Her main Christmas presents included a calligraphy set (she’s always commenting on how she wished she could make fancier letters) and a subscription box from Universal Yums.

    Of course, there are some junky fun gifts, some candy and some activity books.

    But I didn’t expect the fun that came from these three stocking stuffers:

    Christmas Shenanigans

    Scaring the Cats