The end of my birthday

The last few days became so busy, both emotionally and professionally, that I never even finished blogging about my perfectly awesome birthday.

(Gayle’s Portfolio)Art by Gayle Hendricks
(Click image for her portfolio)

That may have something to do with the bottle of Vouvray the teenager and her father selected for me to accompany a most amazing cheese and fruit platter with charcuterie that they provided for my birthday dinner.

The meal came courtesy of a trip to Wegmans and included a block of applewood smoked Gouda, dill ha art I, and intense Brie. The fruits were white grapes and some succulent watermelon. A fresh baguette. Some Italian meats, include prosciutto. (Which I love to say in my best Sicilian accent) and silly cupcakes.

And the morning after my birthday I breakfasted like a princess in chocolate dipped fruits and a cookie and a tea from Dunkin’.

And yesterday I made the birthday Spam by mom brought me. On Wonder Bread for the teenager. Me. Accordion was jealous. He offered me some recipes.

This might be why my Corona weight gain is up to 10 lbs.

The artwork featured above is by Gayle Hendricks.

My friend Gayle appears in this blog from time to time, for our silly adventures, long walks or random road trips. She is a fantastic graphic designer with a very clean style. She specializes in typography and can set books in both traditional and electronic formats. I connected her portfolio to the image above, which she made for me representing my flock. (She altered a stock image in Adobe illustrator.)

Please consider her if you need freelance graphic design and know we are available as a team. I handle the editorial and she handles the pretty stuff. And we’re efficient.

And we celebrated my 40th birthday at a Trampoline Park.

Sky Zone (Gayle’s blog—5 years ago!)

More on our silly adventures:

Niagara Falls

Honey Nut Cheerios

State Parks Weekend

Volkssport Trip to Maryland

Littleton, NC

South Carolina

Birds and beasts in Georgia (This was the day I became interested in birds)

Now today:

But back to more memories:

My first visit to Waffle House

The Juliette Gordon Low House (founder of Girl Scouts)

The teenager buys a bugle

Feeling the love

The work stress hit me hard this morning so I did something I don’t normally do— I admitted that I needed some emotional support on Facebook.

It is my birthday after all.

At least four of my former bosses sent words of encouragement and one brought some edible arrangements fruit to my house.

Several neighbors sent well-wishes, one of whom got me not one but TWO drinks from Dunkin’. Which, now that I have had three of the matcha lattes, I have decided that Dunkin doesn’t make their matcha strong and chunky the way I like it.

One colleague FaceTimed with me on a coffee break and most of them sent email greetings as Mr. Accordion had no doubt alerted them to my advancing years. Or levels.

The teenager and her father are off to pick up the popcorn fundraiser. Her father offered to bring me dinner.

I will be finishing my G journal if not tonight then tomorrow— and I believe a fresh journal means a new chapter.

For more on my birthday adventures:

Kicking off my birthday

Pre-Birthday Magic

Kicking off my birthday

Many things happen in May that I look forward to, primarily the blooming of my lovely pink roses and Lily of the Valley (both fragrances I adore.)

Lily of the Valley, May’s flower

Warmer weather normally arrives (though this year we had snow). The school year is winding down. And there’s an anticipation akin to the new year that good things are to come.

My birthday arrives smack dab in the middle of this week and I know it’s significance will be dulled by major work deadlines and the pandemic. We do have a three day weekend coming for Memorial Day, all of which was why I had hoped to take vacation the last week of May.

Nala and I: Nala’s New Trick

That issue has not been settled, so I decided to have some mild fun to at least acknowledge to myself my birthday. Which is #45.

I ordered a sit down hot meal last night, instead of my usual stress meal of 2,000+ calories of pizza. My dear friend and editing client William Prystauk of the Kink Noir series suggested that the teenager and I deserved the treat. Ironically, it was the same restaurant my husband picked for my birthday dinner last year, Two Rivers Brewing.

More on Bill and his BDSM-themed crime novels: Sunday evening briefing: My Time of Debauchery Ends

Last time I tried Two Rivers delivery service: Two Rivers Brewing Delivery

I ordered a crowler of the Banker’s Brown ale, the breathtaking peanut butter bacon burger, bacon apple mac and cheese, and Brussel Sprouts. My daughter and I feasted like queens.

Speaking of queens, I started watching Hulu’s The Great, loosely based on the life of Catherine the Great of Russia. The costumes and sets are amazing. The script is witty and allows much thought of life and politics in that time period. I watched 5 episodes yesterday while doing housework.

The teenager had deserved a good meal as she had resecreened one of my bedroom windows.

She’s on the roof

A friend of mine texted early. He said it was a shame that people couldn’t celebrate properly because of the pandemic. But I pointed out that really nothing has changed. The teenager plans on baking me a cake— might be trying lemon cardamom this year. Cards still come in the mail. My friends and family have phones. And most restaurants have curbside or delivery.

I think the pandemic just removes a lot of the pretentious notions of what we need to survive and highlights how outdated the 40-hour workweek is. Employment for a lot of fields could be based on project completion versus time occupied at a desk.

I treated myself to a self-purchased birthday present today and thanks to the pandemic it comes with a free mask!

Dolls Kill

And this morning my mom surprised my with a few fun edibles (not THAT kind of edible) and a pair of tights.

Mom and Nala bonded and she approved of the teenager’s efforts in the garden.

So here’s hoping I can clean up this house and get my spirits to where they need to be to start the work week— and my birthday week— with enthusiasm.

The postman never brought laundry yesterday

Please friends— promise me you will embrace the silliness. The restrictions of pandemic life can be hard, but they also can free you to enjoy those small moments you may be too busy to see in “normal”life.

Though either my iron is dropping (don’t worry, I took my supplement) or I am losing my mind because I told the teenager that the postman didn’t bring any laundry.

I hope that made you smile.

On Monday night, the teen and I went to the Grocery Outlet to do our first shopping in two weeks. We found these fish nuggets and we prepared them with cheesy cauliflower rice for a hot lunch.

Fun Fish Nuggets

On children’s plates.

Mine is in French.

Today I embraced the sun, opened the sun roof and took the teenager to Dunkin’ for “free donut Friday” and hash browns. Except I forgot the donut. And the hash browns. So we went through the drive through twice. This is becoming a habit. (See Nothing Just Happens: Pandemic Shenanigans .)

Me and my stufferReview (video on YouTube)

We ended up with one chicken bacon croissant stuffer (which we both liked), one donut, two orders of hash browns, one small raspberry cold brew, one medium butter pecan cold brew.

And the teen loved her first cold brew.

Pandemic Experiments

  • Misty was staring at the ceiling. So I turned on the ceiling fan and watched his little kitten face go, “what the…”
  • I have gained four pounds since the shutdown started, and seven pounds since I lost weight in the beginning of the pandemic. I have become extremely sedentary, eat too many baked goods and potato chips, and have to stop stress-eating pizza.
  • Depending where on your person you keep your phone, the pedometer on it is highly inaccurate and can make you feel really lazy
  • Jackfruit was not what I expected and I think I say that in a good way
Jackfruit riced vegetable stir fry with potstickers
  • If I skip my allergy medicine I will be uncomfortable.
  • The teenager and I enjoyed Star Trek The Next Generation together last night. Wow— did it ever look primitive and dated.

Wednesday Update With Mundane and Animal News

Good morning! So many little things have happened I will mention them here in case you are curious.

  • I have been wearing my Horus necklace so far this week— as “protection” and “healing” from stresses with a multitude of stresses at work. Today I am switching to my “keep going” amulet as my boss has added to my deadlines, moving up work I had planned to do in early June to a deadline of June 1.
  • I’m concerned about the shifting deadlines, because I have something like 40 hours of vacation time expiring at the end of June and I’ve been trying to get it approved since early March and my boss keeps saying she’s not comfortable approving it until she has more assurance my work will be done. I had asked to take the last week of April, but the pandemic shifted our work flow so I rescheduled to the end of May. I need the time off. My batteries are done.
  • But more pleasant things… Nala has been grooming my new haircut.

Nala grooming me

  • I am so sick of this cold May weather. I can’t get warm. I decided to wear my thickest winter socks and sweatpants today. I hate sweatpants but I hate cold more.
  • Fog spent last night locked on the sun porch. I was slightly sad that Fog didn’t say goodnight to me, but when only three cats turned up for breakfast I knew something was up. And— the big news— Fog is a boy. The teenager and I had questions about that cat’s anatomy for quite some time as “she” protected “her” belly and behaved with much modesty. But the teen and I both thought “she” had testicles, but couldn’t get a good look to see what was under the hood, so to speak. Last night, Fog took a bath in front of me, spread “her” legs, displayed “her” penis and washed it. No doubts now.
  • And Misty loves water. He’s absolutely mesmerized and loves to play in water.
  • I paid off my medical bills from 2019. Now I can tackle the remaining $850 I owe on my crown— the one that still isn’t right. The dentist will take a look after quarantine lifts. They quoted my husband’s insurance instead of mine and I don’t have coverage for a crown. As we have been separated for 10.5 months, I don’t have his dental insurance. But it was an emergency and they grabbed the wrong information. Luckily, they will let me pay in installments.
  • One of my work colleagues read my blog. I had sent him a link because we were discussing something and I referenced him… not sure I remember the exact details. He complimented me on my writing skills and called me clever and obviously intelligent. I’m touched that he took the time to read as much as he did and it made my day that he told me about it. He loved the reference to my daughter as “the teenager” as I do try to protect people’s privacy. So, I’m assigning him a nickname, too. He is now Mr. Accordian.

The shifting psychology of chores

As one of the perks of the online writing community, I have had the pleasure to meet Fausta, a life coach and therapist who has a wide range of capacities and wicked sharp writing skills. She has been working on her blog, and her business, Fausta’s Place to Ponder.

People often influence and inspire each other in the most unexpected ways—often without trying—and I’ve admired and respected Fausta for a long time in just that kind of subtle way.

Like most of us, she’s a real and imperfect woman with a quiet vibrancy. She’s touched me with her honesty about life as a woman and the everyday struggles as a mother, building/continuing her career/business, dealing with her own and her family’s health and keeping her heart and emotional state strong and well.

Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do? In a recent blog post (linked below) she talks about our attitudes and how our mental framing of tasks impact how we perform them. I have continued to ponder this.

Mindful Self Compassion Can Help You Get the Dishes Done

I love routine, order and cleanliness. But with 4 cats, 4 birds, 1 teenager, a full-time job, my own physical and emotional issues and a coronavirus pandemic, I can’t always achieve/complete/do everything I want to do.

I have to employ more mindful self compassion, and with the teenager’s help I am growing in this regard. She and I have been discussing the differences in how our brains are wired. This helps me look at my setting from multiple points of view.

My goal, in what used to be Standard American Life, was to workout either at the gym or at home 3-5 times per week and never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

Now, the gyms are closed. I’m eating too much fast food. And my goal is to clean the kitchen every morning— as my energy levels are higher and it reinforces the idea that every day is a clean start.

But I still need to examine my motivations. There’s a flip side to chores.

Today is Sunday. Yesterday, I got up, did a load of laundry and started the dishwasher. I cleaned all the litter boxes— no small chore with four cats, but oh so worth it.

Two kittens and 3-legged Overlord

I did some other odds and ends too but I’ll be darned if I remember them.

And then I attended a business meeting, had coffee with a neighbor, cleaned up after the birds, let the teenager give me a haircut (a rather severe one that doesn’t exactly match the crazy hair I have, but give it two weeks and it will be perfect), split a ginormous, super-sweet cinnamon bun from Cake and Corolla, enjoyed dinner from Dairy Queen, and watched Hell’s Kitchen for the rest of the day.

And I’m not beating myself up over “not doing more.”

But this morning— I got up, washed the pots and pans, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, did two loads of laundry and hung them on the line, fed the menagerie, scrubbed them kitchen counter, took out the compost, emptied the garbage, carried the garbage outside, and vacuumed and washed the kitchen floor.

All before 9:30.

And I feel good about the work I got done. Even if I am still worrying about cutting the grass, working out this week’s budget, and dealing with this week’s groceries and work stress. I dread both. I *don’t* want to do the grocery shopping and I never know what will happen at work on Monday.

So I have a delicate balancing act— what can I do to feel good about myself and my house and what can I do to not exhaust myself?

Because you see, I know I also do chores and scrub the bathtub to avoid facing my fears and emotions in the stillness.

Chores let me use the energy of my angst to achieve something positive, but in the end, that’s not always the best approach to my emotional health and physical self.

PS—

Early on in this pandemic I invested in good old fashioned cleaning products: Pine Sol, Ammonia, Fels Naptha, Borax, etc. I opened up the Pine Sol today. Just felt like my neglected floor needed something extra. I got this at the Grocery Outlet and as you can see it’s not traditional Pine Sol. It’s like super floral. “Fresh Scent” by patooty. Someone just exploded a fake floral bomb in my house.