Saturday update: Apex session 4

Today marked my fourth session at Apex Training and my first meeting others at the gym.

Last night we had voluntary time off at the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. We were released for a a long weekend at 6:30 p.m. (The warehouse is closed Monday for a computer upgrade.)

The teenager wanted to drive and enjoy sports mode in my Jetta. So we stopped at Sheetz and ate fried food and drank energy drinks as one should do at Sheetz. (View Sheetz Shenanigans here.)

I did some editing for Aspire to Autonomy. They are planning their annual 5K. They also recently opened a new safe house and currently have a labor trafficking survivor living there.

I also worked on more of the final proof for my first novel, the debut publication for Parisian Phoenix Publishing. No pressure!

And some of my main characters are having sex again. That, coupled with the fact that I was in men’s returns processing at the warehouse… led to some mental distraction.

I was in bed before midnight as I had a 10 a.m. session with Dan.

I love Dan’s philosophy in incorporating isolated and full body exercises. I love how he paces the workouts— apparently next week is our last week of two sessions a week and we begin three times a week and he’s going to develop metrics to track our progress.

I tripped on the way home, on the same damn bad patch of sidewalk, but this time I caught my balance and did not fall.

And when I got home, the teenager received her new crate for F. Bean Barker. And she bought one way too big. (More ridiculousness here— Bean and Em the FURR kitten).

Now, I’m off to grab Nan and we’re going to can some corn salsa with farm fresh corn.

Advocate: A Difficult Day on the Health Quest

Well, if yesterday made one thing apparent… it’s that sometimes answers lead to bigger questions.

And questions often shake our foundations.

I have had an appointment every day this week before work. In the last ten days or so, I have seen my therapist, my personal trainer, my chiropractor (who has a background in physical therapy) and my primary care doctor and one of his new residents.

Yesterday was the latter.

This recounts why I was seeing my doctor. Later in this post, some of this info may be pertinent.

My heart was genuinely excited for the visit as I’ve made a lot of positive health habit changes and my primary care physician and I have a great relationship. Normally my care is a discussion and we work together to resolve my issues.

Since Covid, the practice has seemed much less organized and attentive as usual. They also recently took on some family practice medical residents. I waited in the exam room for 75 minutes.

I went into my phone to record my blood pressure on iHealth. And that’s when I noticed— iHealth has been recording my double support time and my walk asymmetry for a year. (This morning I compared my walking and balance statistics with my teenager’s and her walk is more screwed up that mine! My walk is consistent and consistently “off” but hers gets severely skewed every time she gets plantar warts. Turns out my neighbor has more issues in this area than I do, too.)

So, at 12:15 pm — as I am lusting for a glass of water and breakfast, I had nothing yet but a gargle of purple listerine— the resident enters the room and apologizes for the tardiness. I told her I was about to order GrubHub out of fear they forgot me.

I told her everything about me (as she had never met me before) and relayed that the doctor wanted to see me. I also mentioned that muscle relaxers might be a better fit to ease my periodic pain than ibuprofen or acetaminophen because it might be more due to the stress on my joints and the tightness of my muscles as a side effect of the cerebral palsy.

Now, remember, my anemia started more than 12 years ago with work stress, gaining weight and heavy menstrual bleeding. And I came to my current doctor because my former one refused to look into the source of my anemia. And that doctor made me cry. And I had started having panic attacks.

Now I am back in a similar symptom situation but I have better mental health and a way better doctor.

The resident goes and gets my doctor. I propose waiting several months to see if the anemia improves with the mesures I am pursuing now. He is worried about polyps in my colon. We agreed I will use some stool cards for a home test.

I didn’t feel heard about my request to find solutions for my body pain because then we discussed my mental health.

And he wanted me to visit their new staff psychiatrist to rule out any issues (like bipolar 2) that might require a mood stabilizer.

Now I complete understand why his said this: I had mentioned some dramatic temper incidents previous to some of my recent lifestyle changes, I had asked to restart the prescription for a very low dose of lexapro that had been prescribed for high blood pressure to see if it would even out some premenstrual mood swings, and I had mentioned some highs and lows in the past.

But I also said the isolation of the pandemic gave me the space I needed to deal with some heavy duty stress, and that good things were developing for me and I felt like this was one of the great years in my life. I talked about having rid myself of anxiety and being able to look back at that former period of my life with understanding of myself and pride. And that my therapist and I were finally looking at my childhood trauma as I scored 6/7 on the ACE test.

And he knows I have been in therapy for more than a decade. And that my therapist recommended him. Shouldn’t he let my therapist request that type of referral?

So I felt betrayed and it reintroduced feelings of anxiety and insecurity, not being sure if my medical professional was really paying attention to me and what I was saying. I had just mentioned delving into childhood trauma for the first time in my life. I am having other health issues that I need to address. So now, in my opinion, is not the time for questioning my brain chemistry.

So we agreed to discuss my anemia and my psychological state with my gynecologist (whom I see Monday) and my therapist and revisit the issue when I return in three months to discuss the follow up blood work.

This left me shaken and wanting to scream, “Stay in your lane.” I went to the doctor because he asked me to come discuss my anemia— how did a shrink come into play?

I often think this is how people get misdiagnosed, not by bad doctors, but by doctors trying to rule everything out and in the process convincing patients they need different help that they actually need. Like when people see a commercial for medicine and later “ask your doctor if (this expensive drug) is right for you.”

I emailed my therapist from my phone as soon as I got into my car. By 3:30 pm, he said he disagreed with this assessment— that I should be screened by a psychiatrist— but that we would discuss. Honestly, he is the only person I would trust with a decision like that. We all need to build teams we can trust. And this is how I advocate for myself.

When I got home, around 2 p.m., I finally had my morning coffee and made this— what I would call my “summer vegan sandwich,” courtesy of my stress shopping last week and a Hungryroot delivery. (See the teenager unboxing here.) Lightlife bacon tempeh, Hungryroot lemon tahini, romaine, deli pickle on 12-grain bread.

I didn’t take proper care of the animals (loosing almost four hours of my day to a doctor’s appointment that normally takes one hour).

I QCed 123 fixes, which is far better than the 116 the night prior. When my favorite Stitch Fix supervisor said hello, she asked how I was, I said okay. She looked at me askance and said, “only okay?”

She told me if I needed anything or if there was anything she could do to let her know. But she can’t fix the emotions in my head. So I thanked her and went back to some of my standbys— showtunes!

I listened to the soundtrack of Avenue Q as we used to in the makeshift temporary newsroom of Lehigh Valley News Group, and I can still remember one of my favorite young editors with her big headphones on, fighting her stress and her insecurities with a dose of “What do you do with a B.A. in English/It sucks to be me.”

Apparently this is the whole musical on YouTube. Check it out.

And if you just want the song… Here you go.

Speaking of the newspaper days, I’ve reached out to some Chronicle colleagues for help with promoting the FURR Pop Up Cat Café August 15. The man who hired me for that newspaper (the boss of my best boss ever) mentioned that my daughter has grown up in the blink of an eye (which he has seen thanks to Facebook).

And that brought back great memories as I think the teenager was the only baby born to a staff member during the run of those newspapers. I realized I was pregnant while planning a political debate sponsored by the newspaper in Phillipsburg, N.J.

So yesterday was hard, and I managed to avoid slipping into those old panic-prone mentalities. I am drained today but luckily only have a four hour shift.

Overextended: Update on the Boring Stuff

This weekend was a strange blend of trying to catch up, trying to get ahead and trying to touch base with friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Love Boat

Bill Prystauk (the author of the Kink Noir book series) took the teenager and I to Jasmine for sushi and sashimi. We had a love boat where I tried and enjoyed sashimi for the first time: white tuna, salmon and some clam thing that tasted like a seafood gummy bear.

This week I have a commitment every morning and the Bizzy Hizzy every night. I don’t anticipate voluntary time off because the warehouse won’t have computers on August 2 so that will be another 3-day weekend.

The FURR Pop Up Cat Café is reaching some critical mass as FURR volunteers get more involved and excited. Tomorrow I have a 7:45 phone conversation scheduled with my cat foster godmother and an event planning meeting at 9 will Janel. Still no update on a coffee provider… I’m getting nervous.

But Joan Z agreed to take photos, Gayle is helping design some games.

Then at 10, I’ll be meeting Nan. And at 1, I’ll cook lunch and get ready for my Stitch Fix shift.

This week, I have two training sessions with Dan at Apex Training. Tuesday and Friday. As part of my recovery after these workouts, these might be my main days to do my edits and proofs on the final file for Manipulations. Official launch date is September 11.

Wednesday I visit the chiropractor (and I can’t wait to see what she thinks about my new fitness routine) and Thursday I see my primary care physicians and his residents about my anemia.

I mention all of this because these are the weeks when one has to focus on food prep, proper rest and activities to maintain mental balance.

So we shall see.

After the Fall: When the Work Place Treats You as a Person

Last night, after my fall on Monday, I returned to work at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I was assigned to receiving NAP (non-apparel), specifically binning shoes.

I’ve come to the conclusion that most jobs at the Bizzy Hizzy are mind-numbingly boring when you first do them, until you develop a rhythm and master the task.

Shoes go on the bottom shelves in NAP so you get a little stool on wheels and get to scoot around on that, getting up every 30 minutes or so to refill a cloth tote/cart (like you see in a laundry facility) with more shoes.

Sitting on the stool kills me— my back doesn’t like it and by the end of the night by butt hurts. But like anything, eventually you find ways to get used to it.

I get so sick of the same old tank tops last night I wanted to wear my Goth troll doll t-shirt. It comes exactly to the waist of my Stitch Fix Gaiam yoga pants, so it should be fine when measured against the no crop top rule. But to be safe I layered a longer shirt under it.

I think I binned almost 800 pairs of shoes. The section was packed pretty tight.

The first thing I had to do upon arrival was grab a pallet jack and move a cardboard gaylord of processed shoes across the warehouse from inbound receiving to NAP. Now the teenager’s father spent most of his career as a shipper/receiver so I’ve heard a lot about the utility of pallet jacks but I’ve never used one.

And Stitch Fix uses primarily plastic pallets so they are lighter than wooden ones.

And I did it. And texted my family excitedly. To which I received this text from the teenager:

“Oh my, that’s cool. And who TF let your beat up ass use a pallet jack? ‘“She can’t handle her own two feet… here’s a pallet.’”

The 17-year-old

I cackled in the middle of the warehouse as Siri read that one to me.

Somewhere in the second half of the night, I had the opportunity to relay this to my shift supervisor who stopped by to check on me. I respect this woman, did almost instantly. Not sure why— probably mostly because of how she dresses and carries herself.

(And she is a Stitch Fix client and wears a lot of Stitch Fix clothes.) Personally, I like when people visibly support the company’s that employ them. I feel it’s good for morale.

We had a chuckle about the pallet Jack comment. I showed her the damage on my shoulder (and she winced). I shrugged it off as no big deal and told her it was part of my life. Then she said something that touched me:

I’m sorry that you have to experience that.

Some of my wounds

She talked about her struggles getting her mom to advocate for her health as she gets older, and that she hopes I’m a good advocate for myself and that as I grow older I listen to my daughter.

I hope so, too.

After final break, my immediate supervisor stopped to see me. She also asked how I was and winced when I showed her some of my scabs.

These exchanges made me feel valued as a person. While Stitch Fix as a company is driven by metrics, which they have to be, I’ve found that at least in my nine months at the Bizzy Hizzy, the culture tries to make people feel respected and appreciated as individuals and part of the team.

Speaking of the team, the Bizzy Hizzy has frozen hiring on day shift so growth will now focus on second shift (“midnight society”). My supervisor and I discussed this briefly and I said I hope this doesn’t change the culture of our shift. We’re closer, more versatile and have more fun than day shift.

Because the team is cross-trained and understands each other’s jobs, I feel like that improves our ability to work together efficiently. Because we’re a fraction of the size of day shift, we know each other and really focus on goals.

I don’t want that to change.

A weekend of animals ending on a pizza note

As I mentioned last week, neighborhood events coincided with the teenager’s pet sitting commitments to have us at full capacity with dogs— except for Buddy who at the last minute got to go on vacation with his family.

Little Dog Sobaka’s mom left for a wedding in Western Pa., allowing me the time to teach Sobaka that Bean might be scary but she’s really just a big, dumb puppy and not a threat.

And the teenager decided to test Sobaka’s ingenuity and made her eat her nightly supper from a dog puzzle. Bean would have just eaten the puzzle.

Video: Baki learns the treat puzzle

On Friday night, Baki and I slept in my bed with Louise and Khloe hiding under the bed. On Saturday, the teenager left for her housesitting job, so I planned a sleepover in the living room—Baki and I in the hand-me-down pull-out couch bed and Bean in her downstairs crate.

Bean and Sobaka

The clientele for the week includes 2 dogs (one geriatric German shepherd with mobility struggles), two personal cats, one Senegal parrot and at least eight foster kittens who all need meds.

My daughter is a very special pet sitter. I have heard horrible stories and witnessed some of friends hiring people to care for their pets and these people neglect their wards. When my daughter accepts a job, her focus becomes that household and my job is to make sure I maintain standards at home. She spends a lot of time doting on animals.

I provide back up and moral support and make sure the pet sitter doesn’t live on diet soda and chips for the week. She usually has me over to the home once or twice so I know the basics should she need to leave or needs help.

Last night the “can you come see if the cat likes you better than he likes me” request ended up being a three hour visit because she wanted me to shoot video of how well the German Shepherd was doing to set the family at ease.

And a little after 8 pm, I announced I was going home to make supper.

“I forgot the food you told me to take,” the child says.

It’s almost 8:30 on a Sunday night in the town where her father grew up and not our own— the mom and pop places are closing up and I don’t have the time or patience for a sit down meal.

We find Tuscana Pizza & Pasta. The first thing I see when I walk in the door is empanadas. There are seven slices of pizza on the counter, a pile of garlic knots and the empanadas.

There are three slices of pepperoni, one plain, two sausage and peppers and one meat lovers.

We take one of each and some garlic knots. $16.47.

They start speaking Spanish to each other at the register. When everything gets done, they take it out of the oven, throw it in a large pizza box, hand it to us and tell us goodbye.

Obviously they were trying to close the restaurant and didn’t want us hanging around.

We were okay with that. We ate in the car.

The sausage and pepper slice was really good, but I don’t like onions so I could only make it through half. The garlic knots were soft— I’m used to them being like chunks of pizza crust but these were like dinner rolls smothered in butter and garlic.

I love neighborhood pizza shops. I love the ambiance. I love them simple. I wish they’d stop trying to be full fledged restaurants and push slices and pies and sugary concoctions like the mysterious red “jungle juice” of my youth and arcade games and pinball.

My daughter— who has apparently spent far too much time in town ordering Dominos or grabbing Little Caesars and eating it four hours later “like a ravenous beast” (her words) on the band bus— always acts like every time we have real pizza, it’s the first time and it’s the best food she’s every had in her life. She moans with every mouthful.

Last night was no exception.

The next phase: Reaching for Body Builder Status

This is an informal update vaguely and disorganizingly (that’s probably not a word, but I like it and it’s how I’m feeling) connected to my series about my cerebral palsy.

It’s not as “official” and well-crafted as I would like as some household/parenting issues greeted me as I walked in the door and I found it hard to recover once the dog started refusing to get in her crate and I discovered the teenager’s floor with multiple piles of kitten vomit, into which I stepped barefoot.

I finished the sequel to Karen by Marie Killilea today— With Love From Karen. That is another blog posted which I started but have postponed due to other events of the day more personal.

Late last night, I reached out to a local personal fitness trainer.

For those of you unaware, the average physical therapy can cost $350 per session, with the uninsured paying $125. If you have, like I do, high deductible medical insurance, this can add up to several thousand dollars in as little as a month.

Been there. Done that.

My amazing chiropractor (Nicole Jensen, Back in Line Wellness Center) bills me $125 a session when she gives me some brief physical therapy, advice and cracks every f*cked up bone in my body.

The high end of average cost for a personal fitness trainer is $70 per session, according to Google.

Six years ago almost to the day, I embarked on my first weight loss journey and shed 30 lbs in six weeks and looked like a skeleton.

By autumn, I looked like this:

Yes, the shadow of a person lifting two pound weights with me is the now teenager as an eleven-year-old.

I have two fitness dreams:

  1. To run a 5k
  2. To be an amateur body builder

A local business, a fitness trainer only a few blocks from my home, has a summer special and good reviews on the internet.

Goofy crop is to obscure the identity of the trainer until I get permission to post.

I reached out with this message:

“I have quite the history of on again/off again weight training.

I went through a very emotionally traumatic loss of job experience in 2020 and turned to stress/comfort/ just plain bad eating and have gained 20 pounds. And stopped training.

I need to regain my discipline so I am hoping to see if you might be a good fit as a personal trainer— theoretically one session a week and I could maintain the effort at home.

I have already improved my diet, but the damage includes anemia so that makes it hard to work out especially in this heat.

I work second shift in a warehouse.

And perhaps the most important issue— I have mild cerebral palsy in the lower body so it’s super important that I keep my body strong and flexible.

I have two dreams— to actually run a 5k and to perhaps pursue amateur body building.

Please respond if this is something you might be willing/comfortable with/knowledgeable enough to undertake.

Peruse my web site http://www.angelackerman.com to learn more about me if you have concerns.”

I am tentatively meeting with a trainer at this business at 11 a.m. Thursday for an assessment and to see if it’s a good fit.

This is a good way for me to improve my health and fitness as I’ve done so much physical therapy, I know what to do. I just need someone to make me do it. And check my form.

Who knows where this might lead? Maybe my dreams of being a body builder with cerebral palsy will come true.

Drunk on Fish

Happy Friday!

It’s a fun, fun day for me as I not only got a good night’s sleep (although I did have a cat jump on my eye in the middle of the night when another cat scared her) but I also got to leave work early as we had voluntary early out.

At the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, I finally got a picture of the “please use stylist” versus the correct word, stylus. I spent my 4-hour shift in women’s returns processing. I was killing my numbers the first hour— my body felt good and for the first time all week I wasn’t so exhausted my limbs wouldn’t move. But, quickly, I found myself slowing down. Could it be the heat in the warehouse?

Regardless, the teenager was working her waitressing gig and I had promised her sushi after I got home. We agreed to try Jasmine Japanese & Thai Cuisine on Sullivan Trail in Forks Township, Pa.

Many people I know have given it rave reviews and encouraged me to try it.

I encouraged my daughter to order anything she wanted— and we promised each other we would have the leftovers for breakfast. Now, I’m not a fish person so I stick to sushi rolls. I cannot even bring myself to try sashimi. The teenager on the other hand loves it all, as I even used to send her to first grade with sushi in her lunch box, preserved on an ice pack.

The cafeteria staff used to tease her that she should tell her mom to pack her normal lunches, so she came home one day convinced that meant she wasn’t allowed to bring sushi to school. But this is the girl who used to request cucumber sandwiches and other oddities for packed lunch.

I wish I knew more about sushi. I wish I could use chopsticks. The teenager did try to give me a lesson (again). You can see the video here.

I ordered Thai iced tea for both of us and the “luck bite” appetizer. The Luck Bite featured seaweed and crab artfully arranged on a Pringle potato chip. That itself was amazing enough for me to leave happy.

The teenager was disappointed by her first experience with Miso soup, something I have learned to enjoy. Honestly, we barely touched our salads of iceberg lettuce and a tangy mustard dressing because of the sushi to come.

The sashimi combo platter came first— complete with lights and flowers and other adornments. The teenager loved it all but prefers her sashimi on a bed of rice.

I got the spicy maki roll platter with two specialty rolls, and I honestly don’t recall their names. The one featured eel and avocado and the other mango and crab.

The teenager tried it all. My favorite was the mango. We both enjoyed the maki especially with its crispy bits.

Jasmine truly goes above and beyond with presentation. The sauces and flavor combinations are vibrant without detracting from the star of the show— the sushi.

We spent $92, but we also ordered enough sushi for 4-5 people. The sashimi platter alone was $30. I feel like for sushi, their offerings and dishes were substantial. I think it would be quite easy to select a satisfying meal for 2 for about $40.

More importantly, the teenager and I needed a neutral place where we could unwind together. This was perfect.

We do indeed intend to have the leftovers for breakfast, and I can only wonder what the household and foster cats will do when they smell sashimi.

“Review”: Pick-Your-Own-Bouquet Outing at Terra Fauna Farm

This one brings to mind memories of my mother’s flower gardens during my childhood— her lovingly tending her petunias, impatiens, zinnias and marigolds. I begged for straw flowers, snap dragons and “blue angels.” I thought of my mother’s gifted green thumb while frolicking in these fields.

Last week, knowing my teenager had left me home with no car, my sweet friend Joan had invited me to a pick-your-own-bouquet workshop at Terra Fauna Farm. Joan is a member of their CSA.

For those who don’t know, like the teenager, let me explain the concept of CSA or “Community Supported Agriculture.”

First, some history. Our area (the Lehigh Valley/Slate Belt of Pennsylvania) is traditionally primarily rural, with a few small cities scattered here and there and one of the largest cities in Pennsylvania on the one side (Allentown) and the Poconos on the other. New Jersey lies to the east and more rural areas to the West.

I once served as an advisory board member for the Penn State University Cooperative Extension. I completed six years, many of those as Secretary. I never realized how passionate I was about the area’s agricultural heritage until I had this opportunity. I took it for granted.

I grew up in the rural Slate Belt in the 1980s where most of my neighbors were dairy farmers. One literal neighbor had a green house business. And our school bus route cut through a pig farm. Pig farms smell bad, by the way.

Corn fields. Horses. 4-H. Farm Shows. Future Farmers of America. Horticulture and Agriculture as high school science electives. I took horticulture one and it was an amazing exposure to organic gardening (in 1990 before it became trendy), flower arrangement, and gardening. You haven’t lived until you’ve washed a greenhouse of poinsettias with lye soap to kill the white flies.

At that time your parents were either farmers or blue collar workers. My dad was a diesel mechanic.

During the last two decades, farm land has given way to suburban developments and warehousing.

And to compete with large commercial farm and maintain some smaller farms as viable, farmers have embraced the CSA model.

In a CSA arrangement, when selecting his crops and ordering his seeds, the farmer also contacts those who have expressed interest in supporting the farm. These supporters then purchase a share of the season’s crops by sending money in advance. There’s usually a “full share” customarily enough for a family of four and a “half share” for those who don’t have a family or are timid about how much produce they can use.

The farm typically shares what crops they want to plant and the supporter can usually cater their share to their likes and dislikes.

The farmer uses that money to buy his supplies and pay his bills until the crop is ready. And has a guaranteed market for some of his crop.

Terra Fauna (located in Northampton, Pa.) planted a flower and herb garden on what I believe they said used to be their cow pasture. For $5, you can pick a bouquet.

As I mentioned, they had planned a workshop for last week but the heat and the threat of thunderstorms made them postpone until July 5.

Joan took photos and the teenager and I indulged our witchy senses and gathered blooms and herbs from the rows.

We spent $26.50 on extras— a farm fresh cucumber, two zucchini, a quart of new potatoes, a pound of local honey harvested this past Saturday, some garden herb cheese spread and a coffee flavored yogurt smoothie which I think tasted like a milkshake.

The teenager came home and spread her cheese spread on some crisp fresh cucumber and for the sandwich effect added “chicken in a biskit” crackers I bought over the weekend. The juxtaposition of ultra-processed and farm fresh was not lost on her.

Perhaps before the end of the summer, Joan and I can “do lunch” at the farm on one of her weekly CSA pick up days. Which, as a country girl, let me tell you this one truth:

The only way to eat sweet corn is fresh off the farm. If you’re buying sweet corn at a local big box grocery store, I’m sad for you.

Happy 4th: Holidays are for family (and/or naps)

This will be another long day-in-the-life style blogs. I never seem to know what will resonate with people so have it all, right? I’ll bold key words to allow easy skimming.

Cat Stuff

Adult FURR (Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab) fosters Louise & Khloe are still competing for my attention and unsure if they like each other. Two very different cats with very different personalities. Both really cuddly and are going to be great additions to any household.

Click here to see Khloe on YouTube

Click here to see Louise on YouTube

Parker and Extra Crunchy of the ten little kittens that got sick with distemper are now neutered and ready for adoption. They are such loves, especially fond of human snuggles as they were syringe fed.

Click here to see Parker and Crunchy on YouTube

And of course Touch of Grey (another adult foster) still thinks she’s the boss. She definitely is more cat than dog and we have good reason to believe she has neurological issues which may contribute to her agressive mood swings but the teenager is working with her.

Click here to see TOG on YouTube

My original Saturday morning plan was to prepare an outline of the coffee and kittens fundraiser, but our cat foster godmother had two kittens for us. One black kitten from a very feral litter, but he was not hissy spitty and one who turned up with a litter of small kittens who obviously was older than them and had been on his own. That one looked a little like Crunchy but was feisty.

I nicknamed them Fuzznuts and Fluffballs in my head, not knowing their gender. I also considered our “cats are gods” theme, but these two were not a litter so we didn’t want to use a whole pantheon for them. I considered Elohim and Yahweh, but my daughter vetoed it. I worried someone might get offended.

But foster godmother said, “people always get offended.”

A DMX song came on the radio in the car on the way home. DMX passed away recently and rappers also have that badass cat attitude. We knew the black kitten was a girl and the grey a boy.

“What about DMX and Diam’s?” I suggest.

“Mom, no one knows who Diam’s is,” she replied.

Latifah? Salt and Pepa? Then it him me.

“Eminem and Slim Shady,” I said.

“Mom, they’re the same person.”

“It doesn’t matter. The black one can be Shady and the other can be Em.

So now we literally have a cage of two kittens, Em(inem) and (Slim) Shady in our living room.

Grocery Shopping

The teenager went to work at Tic Toc Family Restaurant at three, and I went for Nan, my blind friend. We had plans to visit Park Avenue Market for deli salads and meats and the Lidl for boring things like milk, cheese and half and half.

I casually walk through the store explaining every item I see, from snack items to spices to peanut butter in squeeze tubes and olives in plastic snack cups. I love food and I love weird so this is why Nan and I consider grocery shopping fun.

At Park Avenue, Nan indulged in some meatloaf and ham. I got the pickled Brussel sprouts, liver wurst, bacon maple potato salad, cranberry horseradish, and violet candy. And crab stuffed flounder we had for dinner tonight.

These will resurface tomorrow when Nan and I work and have lunch together.

At Lidl, Nan got yogurt, lemonade, milk, Mac and cheese and those amazing home baked cookies. I got produce, cheese, breads, chips, seltzer, butter and Brussel sprouts among others.

And when I brought Nan home I discovered someone hit and run my car. This happened in July 2019, too. But that was a full side swipe. At work. In a church parking lot.

Someone hit my car. Sigh.

Nails and fun with Beth

I came home and put the groceries away and got ready to leave for my friend Beth’s house, formerly Nails by Bethy at Hyperion Salon. She recently started a new career in commercial insurance (I think) and so won’t have time or stamina to maintain my fingers and toes.

Some past posts with Beth nails:

1. Winter nails

2. Acrylic At Home Maintenance

3. First set of acrylics

But tonight I was headed to her house for “cocktails, dinner and board games.” She agreed to have my pineapple coconut rum drink ready when I arrived. I met some of her friends. Beth made chicken poblano with black beans, rice, coleslaw and pickles. And as I mentioned yesterday, we all played Cards Against Humanity when my family arrived. Her father brought the teenager over so she could be my designated driver.

Brunch with Mom

My mom and I have a tumultuous relationship probably due to trauma we’ve experienced in our lives. My mom has not had an easy life. Let’s face it, most typical folks don’t.

We had a talk last weekend and I agreed to visit her today. She offered to take me out to a swanky breakfast and let us stay for the parade for Independence Day that would be passing by her house. I don’t really like parades, and I’m sick of eating out.

So I requested a grilled cheese on rye instead.

She obliged.

It was delicious.

The teenager brought the Bean dog to visit Mimi and Mimi’s dog, Dog, was a gracious host. Dog is a miniature poodle.

Once we arrived home, I read a little more Karen by Marie Killilea before I opted to take a nap. I then stripped my bed, worked on the fundraising outline and went for a walk with Buddy and Sarah.

I stumbled on the sidewalk, but did not fall. Knowing I had borderline anemia made me feel better that my cerebral palsy wasn’t running amok.

For dinner, in my continued effort to eat more vitamin rich food to combat anemia, I made the crab-stuffed flounder, brown rice with pistachios, and sautéed some leftover green beans and the cabbage, kale and carrots in a Green Goddess Salad I bought on clearance at Lidl yesterday. I topped it with some rather stale sesame sticks purchased at Forks Mediterranean Deli at our last visit (which was too long ago).

My goal for the rest of the night is to work on the Wheel of Life in my July Silk & Sonder planner and finish Karen.

Happy Independence Day.

Remember that the founding of this country can be seen from many perspectives: as destroying the lives and cultures of indigenous populations, as a place to promote white Christian values, and/or as a place where people came to live according to what they felt was right.

Day 2 alone with the menagerie and continuing my health quest

This piece will also include discussion of the mental health app Ginger and a review of a probiotic carbonated beverage.

If you’re new here… I am a 46-year-old single mom who volunteers with a local cat rescue, has a bratty Goffin cockatoo, and is currently trying to learn more about my own cerebral palsy.

Part 1: Finding the Resources to Grow

Part 2: The Teen Leaves Me With The Menagerie

The Teenager is on Day 2 with her grandmother in Cape May, a trip the teen has been planning since she starting working as a waitress this winter. I am home alone with her dog, our four cats, my birds and five fosters.

Yesterday after weeding, Extra Crunchy thought my sweaty, outdoorsy smelling body was a wild animal. (He is available for adoption; he’s a miracle kitten who survived distemper. And has the most soulful deep grey eyes.) Video: Extra Crunchy Attacks My Dress

Meanwhile the dog ate the case to my air pods while I was listening to Alex Hooper’s podcast Achilles’ Heel and making vegetable stock.

I had my second Ginger session yesterday with my coach. I still had the feeling many of her answers were stock, and that sometimes she may have been balancing more than one client at a time. We ended up talking a lot about how because of a dip in self-worth can cause discipline related and motivation issues— why should I take care of myself and commit to good habits if I’ll still be the same insecure person no one seems to value?

But I did do triceps and shoulders yesterday despite intense heat here.

An old friend popped by for a text last night and the nostalgia made me cry. Perspective is a beautiful thing, and sometimes we all need to remember behavior viewed as “bitter” can come from hurt or anger. Understanding can make a huge difference in an interaction.

By 10 pm, I couldn’t end the circle of thoughts about regret, hurt and the pain of seeing someone you once cared about experience something you know isn’t good for them.

So I texted an evening Ginger coach. At first the answers seemed stock and that she was copying/pasting and distracted by other clients, but that rapidly changed. And she and I had a good discussion. It was only about 20 minutes but it ended the loop of thoughts in my head.

I definitely think this service will help keep me focused with my therapist and allow me to get help for the more everyday issues as a situation is happening. Being the curious type I am, I want to know more about how the system works for the employees.

Of course, with the teen being gone, the dog is sullen and bereft. Last night she kept checking if the teen had come home yet and it was very difficult to get her to go to bed in her crate in the teen’s bedroom without the teen.

At 5:40 am the poor dog starting crying, so I went to her, got her out and took her to the yard and just let her stay free in the house. There was no way I was getting up with only 5 hours sleep.

I woke to find her in my bed with me and I actually liked knowing where she was. We got up for the day at 9.

As I drank my cup of coffee and starting feeding animals, my primary care physician’s office called. They are concerned about my iron and the doctor wants to schedule an appointment to discuss me going for a GI work up.

Now about a decade ago when I switched to his care, I did so because my doctor at the time to refused to treat my anemia. I had stress-induced super heavy menstrual bleeding that had reduced my stored ferritin to a 4. The nurse in the office at that particular doctor said that the adrenaline in my system from the stress is the only reason I was walking around and not in the hospital.

I had a three-month wait to see this particular new doctor. By the middle of the summer I literally could not get off the floor unless my-then five-year-old made me a pot of coffee and brought me a cup.

I called my OB/GYN and begged his staff to help me. The nurse practitioner saw me a day or two later and I left his office with a bag full of prescription-strength, special absorbing vitamin D and directions to take an iron pill with every meal.

So after two years of stress, and my period is still heavy, and eating mostly junk food for the last year, I don’t think we need a complete GI work up to fix this. When I see the doctor, and his residents, I’m going to ask if we can see if diet and supplements will return my numbers to better levels based on whatever deadline he prefers.

But it has me suddenly thinking— the recent falls, issues with hitting my numbers inconsistently at work (I literally said to a supervisor “somedays I just can’t make my limbs move faster.”) I have been blaming being out-of-shape and lazy and my disability for some recent issues, but compounding that is anemia.

And I honestly can’t remember the last time my iron was checked. The only reason he checked it now was because I reminded him of my history of anemia and that if my vitamin D was low, the two go hand-in-hand. And the highest my vitamin D has been in the last decade was 37. 30 is the lowest vitamin D result that counts as normal.

(By perusing my online medical regards I learned I don’t nor have I had HPV, HIV or Chlamydia.)

And this was all before coffee.

After coffee, I put on my favorite sun dress and ventured into the 90 degree heat (at 10:30 a.m. — that’s insane.) I walked over to Nan’s apartment six blocks away to bring her the Seeing Stars super soft lounge set/pajamas I bought her at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. Giving a blind woman things with nice textures is always fun.

I walked home, sat for a minute and left at 11:15 to walk to CVS to pick up the teenager’s prescription toothpaste before they restocked it. I treated myself to a Booch Pop with my 40% off coupon. It’s a carbonated probiotic drink of only 40 calories that tasted like a zesty ginger beer.

There was also a coupon for free candy so I got a generic assortment of Gold Emblem Swedish fish and a trail mix with pistachios and almonds on sale for $2.99.

I stopped at our public library. Our library opened in 1962 so in our archive “stacks” as they are called we have the original hardcovers of the “Karen” books which were bestsellers in the mid-sixties. The adult librarian asked me if I would prefer she find a newer edition and I said no. The originals add to the experience.

I came home with 5,000 steps done from errands and made Bean and I breakfast of chicken, eggs and rice. I put some of my fresh vegetable stock on my rice.

If you have two minutes and you want to watch our dog eat breakfast, here is a video: Bean having Breakfast with Mom-mom

Tonight I am attending a pick-your-own bouquet workshop at a local farm. Joan is bringing me. I wonder if she will bring her little people.