I found it very cool that product registration for this Cuisineart compact toaster oven air fryer from Target could be completed via text & mobile internet.
My first recipe will be air fried apples & dates.
The dates cooked way faster than the apples so the dog ended up with some charred fruit jerky but the apples were tasty. I would lower the temp for a more even and chewier texture but that could have been due to my cut of the apple wedges.
The machine itself was very quiet while running. It threw a lot of heat— I would even claim it threw off more heat than my traditional oven. It’s size and the recipes that came with it seem the perfect volume for the teenager and I.
Also: Foster Mars wanted you to know it’s going to be a hot one today.
I have a lot of little things to say that problem don’t belong together but today is the Lehigh Valley Book Festivalat Bethlehem Area Public Library and I’m excited, a tad nervous and a bit super-focused and scatter-brained at the same time.
So the teenager and I finally came to the current end of the Marvel Comics Universe movies with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Watchingthem sequentially, and for me, many for the first time, actually made a lot more sense than when I saw some of them the first time.
I got a strange déjà vu that I had seen some of these villains before, but at the same time I was confused because the memory was vague and distant.
So let’s just say, trying not to spoil it for others like me that are woefully behind in their pip culture, that this film incorporates some older films that will be familiar to Generation X.
The primary theme of this movie, in my opinion, is time travel. The actual plot is a tad weak and melodramatic but the homage made to the previous generation of Marvel movies, and the humor employed in this movie, make it worth it.
My favorite Spider-Man is Toby Maguire. I got to see him again. And that made my heart happy. (Toby is also the Spider-Man adored and referenced by supermodel Adelaide Pitney in my chick lit/horror fiction novel, Manipulations, the first in the Fashion and Fiends series.
I had a very good visit with my chiropractor Nicole Jensen of Back in Line. She’s impressed with my progress and got things to pop and move (my right ankle that I broke more than five years ago) that haven’t popped and moved in a long time.
My Later, Andrew at Apex Training worked out every muscle he didn’t the day before (okay that’s an exaggeration) and the teenager set a new personal record in deadlifting: 225 lbs.
Finally, I get to the part I’ve been waiting for: PIE! If only I weren’t trying to be so health conscious… Because I have been visiting the amazing pie ladies Anne and Lisa at Pie+Tart for three(?) years now and their pies (and flat white coffees) have nurtured my soul through some difficult times— and a very very toxically difficult boss.
I receive their weekly email and saw their “freezer section” of leftover discounted pies included a steak and Guinness pie and a matcha custard pie. A meal inspired by two of my favorite drinks.
I was so beyond excited to eat these pies I was vibrating at “the pie hole” which is what they call their window/doorway. It has allowed them to stay in business safely during Covid because how would we survive sans pie.
I can improvise plenty of solutions for lack of toilet paper but I can’t make pie like this— not even with my Pennsylvania Dutch family connections.
I couldn’t even wait for the matcha custard to thaw. I sawed at it with a knife, broke it in pieces with my hands and microwaved a slice for 30 seconds. It was delectable.
And the steak and Guinness pie? So rich and full of meaty goodness I didn’t even have a chance to take a photo.
Oh how I love my pie friends.
And finally the updates regarding some of the cats we are fostering through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, Mars has taught Khloe to play and Minerva is becoming much more social. As is Louise.
Yesterday left me thinking a lot about the notion of friendship and emotional support. As I continue to navigate the death of my father, the gestures I see from those around me touch my broken heart in ways I never imagined possible.
And recent events, from how Stitch Fix handled the recent shift change to how they handled my father’s death, shows me that successful businesses— even American ones with an international presence and millions of clients— don’t have to be jerks.
The dog and I were sitting on the sunporch yesterday waiting for one of my crazy cat lady friends to stop by. She wanted copies of my novels to give to her sisters for Christmas (and I need more fans) and she once cared for Mars and Minerva while they were on their pet store tour.
While Bean and I were waiting, an older man pulled up in front of my house and starting rooting around in the hatch/cargo area of his SUV. And he gets out a big bouquet of flowers.
Did someone send me flowers? Who do I know who is fancy enough to send flowers?
They came in a big glass vase with white roses and baby’s breath, and these lovely periwinkle filler flowers that I know I should know the name of because I did take high school horticulture.
I struggle to unfold the card. And I discover it’s from Stitch Fix. So I know I have a warehouse job. I know I fold clothes with everybody else. I am considered an unskilled worker, over educated for my position.
But I feel like Stitch Fix is the first company I’ve worked for to treat everyone of us like we are people, and not just interchangeable bodies in a process.
My warehouse job has paid the same amount of money as my last professional job— and removed so much stress and feelings of inadequacy from my life.
Professional positions or even common retail positions have controlled my life— constantly making it clear that “they” feel it is my privilege to work for them.
When my cat Opie had cancer I went into the computer system and requested to use some of my accrued paid time off so I could be at home after he got his leg amputated. I was working for Target at the time, about 36 hours a week so of course I didn’t qualify for medical benefits or anything because I was “part-time.” I had worked for Target for almost a decade.
They didn’t know it, but I had already accepted a professional position at a local non profit, but because of Opie’s surgery and other home circumstances, I had asked to start on the first day of the next month.
Now, after Christmas a few months prior, a guest had called the store and accused me of a racist act the day prior. This person of color had gathered all of the remaining food from the cafe, set it aside for 20 minutes, and not paid for it. She spent the entire time on the phone. I finally asked her if she was ready to pay for it and she left the store angry. Her husband called the next day. She never went to a supervisor, never said anything to me, just went home.
And the investigation determined that because I talk with my hands, I was angry and threatening with her. Despite witnesses saying the contrary. Despite almost ten years with the company.
So I got written up. This means if I did anything else wrong in the next year they could fire me. This meant I couldn’t apply for any promotions (despite the fact that my supervisor had left and I had been running my department during fourth quarter).
This is why I finally had enough and looked for a new job. And my marriage was in trouble and I needed to make more than $12 an hour.
I mention this because one of my Target friends just got fired for a similar incident where a customer was clearly out of line, and Target took their side. Even though this employee had been with the company since 2009. Just boom— fired.
And do you know what happened when I requested off? My manager denied it. I was too important to take time off.
But not important enough to pay a living wage.
But not important enough to defend when a customer was out of line.
But not important enough to provide medical insurance.
I went back to the computer and gave my two weeks notice. Except the store manager begged me not to go. And we agreed I could have the time off and I would work Saturdays to help train my new supervisor. Who turned out to have no interest in our department, ignored our breaks and wouldn’t listen to anyone but herself.
And when I called her out on it, because my peers wouldn’t do it because they needed the job, the same manager that denied my time off tried to fire me.
It didn’t work, but I never worked another day at Target, so they “got their way.”
And don’t even get me started on my experiences in “professional” employment.
If you have a job where you like going to work and your boss is a human, treasure it. It’s getting rarer.
So, yes, even though Stitch Fix is metrics driven and can be physically taxing, I have felt more like a person in their employment than I have in years.
More to come on the definition of “friend” later. So many generous acts have happened since my father’s death.
This weekend was hectic and quiet at the same time.
Saturday Nan and I canned some corn relish/salsa with some farm fresh corn on the cob. My mother-in-law, having grown up on a farm, knows her corn and has a gift for picking delicious corn.
Nan, as a lifelong blind person, has a fascination with all things cooking. She always says that she doesn’t understand how people learn these things. I told her I don’t quite remember how I learned to can, though I do know I always had an interest in gardening and in preserving the rich variety of foods we have in this region.
But it was fun to see Nan respond to the tools involved in canning.
Yesterday, Marsand Minerva attended an adoption event with our cat rescue group Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Meanwhile, the teenager and I volunteered with the FURR kitten event and backpack distribution through the Verizon Store in Forks Township. Our foster Touch of Grey came from there. They actually have foster cats free roaming the store!
The teenager and I finally got our FURR t-shirts. I’m very excited. The teenager looks really good in hers.
Meanwhile, at home, our foster tripod Louise has been very cuddly and at my side relatively non-stop.
AndI finished the proof for Manipulations. The book designer (my partner Gayle) will check out the file tomorrow.
My friend Bill sent me the manuscript for his next book in the Kink Noir series, Bondage. I’ll start my review sometime this week.
And finally, I made a list of all the authors and books that I hope to publish via Parisian Phoenix.
I was shocked how many titles were on the list. I hope I have the resources and the marketing prowess to do these books justice.
I have been trying to jot down this entry for at least 24 hours. We got the exciting news that Hermes has an approved adoption application!
His new parents found him on Petfinder and will be coming to get him next weekend. They live north of the Bronx and fell in love with him via photos and YouTube videos.
And this cat who once wouldn’t let you touch him now let me hold him!
Not a flattering photo but proves my point.
Hermes just turned one. He is the last of our Greek Pride litter, which was our first litter fostering with FURR (Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab).
His sister Hades bit me and I ended up in the hospital. She eventually went to a barn home. Of the 12 kittens we’ve fostered, she was the only one that would not be domesticated.
Their brother Artemus got adopted first (by Jim West— yes like Wild Wild West). Apollo and Zeus were adopted together.
The Roman Pride and The Norse Pride came within a week or two of each other. The Norse Pride kittens were long-haired and found homes quickly because they were so goofy and lovable. They would have gone even quicker had they not contracted ringworm and then I contracted Covid.
Vesta of the Roman Pride found a home first. Those kittens are all tuxedoes. Jupiter is being adopted today. Mars and Minerva are still at Petco in Phillipsburg, N.J.
Two weeks ago tomorrow we got foster Louise, an adult cat of the sweetest, gentlest temperament. She had her leg amputated the first week of March and gets spooked very easily. She likes to hang out under my bed.
And today we took on Touch of Grey. She looks a lot like Louise. She can be moody, we are told. So we’ll do our best to win her trust.
Some of these cats have seen and been through so much.
Maybe next time I’ll do a brief update of our actual pets…
My volunteer efforts these days focus on animals instead of people, primarily as a foster family for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. You can visit their website here: http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.
We have fostered three litters of kittens in the last nine months, all named after various pantheons of gods: The Greek Pride, The Roman Pride and The Norse Pride.
At 10 a.m. this morning, which is rather early when you get to bed at 2 a.m. after clocking out of work at midnight, teenager #1 and I had an appointment to meet a fellow FURR volunteer at the Petco where Mars and Minerva are in residence awaiting FURRever homes. Today, we wanted to reunite Jupiter with his siblings.
Crating Jupiter did not go as easily as anticipated, the teenager couldn’t find her shoes, we forgot Jupiter’s folder and we missed some of the turns for the store. But we arrived and now the Roman Pride is together again, except for Vesta who is now known as Paisley in her new home.
We left Petco, and retrieved the missing folder. But before returning to Petco we had to catch the baby birds as I was transporting them down to Bird Mania so they could be tamed and potentially sold.
That was a process, moving four baby birds to a separate cage. But teenager #1 managed to do it.
We took the folder to Petco, grabbed some coffee at Wawa, and headed to the bird store. The staff at Bird Mania scooped the baby budgies like cats on the hunt, trimmed their claws and clipped their flight feathers.
On the way back, we got a phone call from FURR that someone was interested in meeting Hermes at the adoption Saturday event at Petsmart on Rte. 248 in lower Nazareth. Our Hermes?
I had to ask because Hermes is an absolute love and a character, the last remaining “kitten” of our Greek Pride litter that we brought home August 1, 2020. He loves to be in the middle of the action, loves to play, loves to sit two-to-three feet away, but will not tolerate being touched by human hands.
You see, he was very sickly as a kitten and received a lot of medicine. Medicine is delivered by human hands.
Oh, and Hermes is the matriarch of all our other fosters. He turns one any day now and has mentored every other kitten we have had.
And this potential adopter thought maybe we could bring him over for a meet-and-greet and that maybe he could go home with them.
I said I would gladly arrange a visit for the future but their was no way we could crate him today. This is Hermes’ adoption page: Adopt Hermes.
Hermes is a very entertaining cat, and would be the perfect for someone who just wants a pet who interacts versus one that cuddles.
So, last but not least, I anticipate a part two to this entry as we are scheduled to acquire a new foster later today, one with special needs that make her very suitable for this house. More on that when it happens…
My weekend was shortened thanks to mandatory overtime at the Bizzy Hizzy, with me doing a four-hour shift on Saturday before teenager #1 had her four-hour shift at the diner. I invited my mother to come down and join me at Tic Toc.
When the teenager got home, most of the family hung out in the backyard with some pets, a hammock and a pound of cheese fries.
Then yesterday teenager #1 and I did the grocery shopping and visited Mars and Minerva (of the FURR Roman Pride) at Petco. They were so glad to see us.
And we had tons of unhealthy but tasty food including my mother-in-laws completely amazing homemade Easter candy.
My sleep patterns and quality of sleep have been good lately, and my dreams though rather nonsensical had a heavy air of pure emotions— I blame the full moon.
Monday, though bright, had a whipping wind and a deep chill. I had been practicing a “cutting cords” exercise I heard about on a podcast (specifically Kesha and the Creepies) and had some memories on my mind. My heart felt heavy and a ten-hour shift awaited me at the Stitch Fix warehouse.
Assigned to QC (line 3, table 3A), I spent 10 hours folding clothes. My times kept me firmly at 80% of their expected daily metrics, which is as high as I’ve ever gotten and I think nicely consistent for an extended shift.
Early on in my shift, I encountered a Karl Lagerfeld shirt called the “Zelie” which I took as an awesome reminder of my own creativity and endeavors. One of the main characters in my Fashion and Fiends novel series is Basilie Saint-Ebène d’Amille, whose husband always calls her Zélie. Another side note, my college roommate named Zélie and I gave Zélie her birthday.
Lagerfeld, of course, is a fashion legend and powerhouse. His legacy in worldwide fashion has touched more fashion houses than I can remember. His own label and the iconic Chanel influenced me the most.
Surprisingly, I had no pain yesterday which has me a bit in shock. So once again I am grateful.
But the final hint toward my own projects that came was a text from my friend Joan who would like to try the next set of portraits tomorrow. Something to look forward to.
Meanwhile, life at home was not so smooth. Teenager #2 received some good news as she has a job interview today at a local grocery store. She apparently met the manager in the yogurt aisle. But teenager #1 encountered some bad mojo in my room. Was it the full moon? The date? (The date does hold some personal significance) My own attempts at “cutting chords”?
She discovered this while spending time with Nala the Naughty Cockatoo and delivering popcorn to the budgies. Those budgies are now chasing popcorn all over their cage.
So she did a sage cleanse with the help of Misty the cat who also assisted her in designing a candle ritual for me to perform when I got home.
Today was a typical day in the crazy menagerie of our home. But it was delightful. I’ve come to accept that Saturdays are overscheduled and hectic. Sundays are a rest day.
F. Bean Barker woke at 5:30 am— a normal part of the routine in her old home. No one gets up that early here.
I went to bed around 2:30 am so when Ms. Black Bean woke up and barked/whined/howled for 30 minutes, I texted teenager #1. She went down, covered the dog’s crate with a blanket and laid down on the couch beside the dog to go back to sleep.
After that 45-minute disturbance, I woke at 9:30 am. The teenagers finished picking up the house to prepare for the notary arriving at 1 pm.
We cared for our pets and crated Vesta and Minerva of the FURR Roman Pride for the adoption event at Petsmart.
We then stopped at Dunkin on the way home because I wanted to do something to thank my husband for taking the time to come sign this paperwork and for supporting me in the refinancing of the house. It’s been about 20 months since he’s lived here with me. Neither one of us has filed for divorce. So his name is still on the deed of the house and the current mortgage.
This new mortgage will pay off my car, save me $300 a month, though also extend my term five years. Now instead of the house being paid off by the time I am 55, I will be 60. Mortgage payment alone on the the refinancing will pay off is 50% of my take-home monthly income and that makes me nervous.
My hope is that once the pandemic ends and life shifts, new opportunities and stability will allow me to apply extra money to the principal.
And teenager #1 will take her drivers exam Tuesday. If she passes, her dad and I will have a massive insurance bill so my solace is that if something should happen to my car, at least it is paid for.
Teenager’s dad loved his new cold foam chocolate stout cold brew. The closing almost went without a hitch, but Fog decided to saunter across the table amid the notary’s pile of papers. Cats are not allowed on the table. Especially when we have guests.
The teenager got ready for work and we watched an episode of Canine Intervention on Netflix. I wish they had more episodes.
I dropped her off at Tic Toc Diner. I then went to get the kittens.
Those adorable tuxedo sisters then went to Petco (Greenwich Township, NJ) for their adoption habitat.
Vesta, having spent about three weeks in the habitat at the other Petco, sat there and shook in fear.
I came home planning to walk F. Bean Barker with our neighbors, Jan and her Ladyship Sobaka. But Bean only made it a half-block.
She’s just exhausted.
And then Jan and I went to pick up Nan and have dinner at Tic Toc. The teenager was worried about not having a Braille menu for Nan. As if we need a menu.
The teenager told me the founder stuffed with crab looked really good as the cook took a lot of care in its preparation and plating. I ordered it. With coleslaw. And the silly waitress got me french fries instead.
The dish reminded me of a crab cake wrapped in other fish. So good and a ridiculous amount of food for the price.
After dinner, Nan and I hung out at my house until it was time to retrieve our waitress from the diner.
And then when she got home, she unboxed this month’s box from Witch’s Gifts. These items are so carefully curated. To see the unboxing: March Box Witch’s Gifts
These boxes (and my tarot and witchy podcasts) remind me that I need to pay more attention to my spiritual and magical development.
Kittens, like small children, can get into everything. And while cats, at least most of them, are extremely intelligent and practical creatures, their attraction to climbing, exploring and getting into small spaces can get them into serious trouble.
I like to tell the story of how Oz, the second dumbest cat I have ever owned, used to get his head stuck in every shopping bag or item with a handle he found. And then he would run around the house like the Tasmanian Devil.
This morning, I had a scary experience with my almost seven-month old fosters, The Roman Pride. They are part of the rescue efforts of volunteer nonprofit group, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
Teenager #1 spent the night with her dad. Teenager #2 got up early, fed the household cats and mastered the art of an over-easy egg. I apparently had fallen into a deep, cozy sleep and after several days of getting six hours of sleep, I slept from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m.
I headed to Teenager #’s bedroom after a breakfast of two eggs on a crumpet and a cup of tea, prepared by Teenager #2, and immediately knew something was wrong.
The room looked like this:
And the kittens looked like this:
And my mom instincts immediately were on alert. Headcount… 1… 2… 3… 4…
Where is Mars?
I text Teenager #1 the photos to warn her. I open the wet cat food, which isn’t necessary as they have a self-feeder.
Everyone congregates at the food bowl. Except Mars.
Teenager #1 suggests he got into the closet. That she’ll check when she gets home. But I am unsettled. Other moms will understand. I text Teenager #2 the photos. Teenager #2 comments. And I mention I can’t find Mars. She joins me. And she finds Mars lying docile in a corner.
Now, between Mars and Vesta— the two who did a residency at our local Petco— one of them has loose stools and has peed on Teenager #1’s blankets. We are starting a protocol today to decipher who needs to go to the vet. But meanwhile, I am looking for clues.
Vesta has been a little lethargic lately. Mars is the spunky one, who, often panics when being handled. He bit one of the other volunteers which is why they came home. And he’s not usually prone to biting. I wouldn’t have sent him out to Petco if that were the case. So now he’s missing. Maybe he is the sick one.
When teenager #2 tries to handle him, he doesn’t fight but he doesn’t cooperate either. He sticks his claws in the nearby cat tree. But we found him. So I relax. And teenager #2 leaves. But he’s still not joining the others for food. I open one of the coveted squeeze-up treats. Still, he stays put.
My gut says something is wrong.
Teenager #1, in her second year of wood shop, deconstructed her bunk bed and made it into a loft. On one end of what used to be the lower bunk is a bookshelf and a seat that hides a storage box.
The other side is a cat tree and some cat beds of various types.
Mars is under the cat tree in a cat bed. Between the seat and the cat area, the new soft sided carrier I got for Christmas is on the floor, open. I reach for Mars. He doesn’t move. I pull him up to my lap, the cat carrier bangs into my legs and prevents me from getting him to the destination.
Quickly, with the cat in one hand, my hand supporting his belly, I put it all together. I grab the carrier with my other hand.
I pull everything into my lap. Now this cat is silent and limp. Remember— he’s the spunky one. This is very wrong.
My fear is legitimized. Mars has somehow crawled through the handle of the soft-sided cat carrier and gotten it twisted tightly into a knot around his hips. He has soiled himself— his back legs are wet. And if you know cats, you know they will go to great lengths not to soil themselves.
Do you know that moment in any bad situation where you have to chose between calm and panic? I am thinking about all the ways poor Mars could be hurt and trying not to panic. I need to free him. I’m trying not to think about how long he has been trapped like that.
I have to swirl the bag in one hand over poor Mars to untwist the knot against his belly, again and again. I call for teen #2, verbally as I have no hands left to grab my phone and text her. She runs in. I free him. She gets more wet food. He gently jumps free of me and goes to the bowl.
A few moments later he jumps up to the water bowl and drinks slowly for a good five minutes.
And when he is done, I hug him. He doesn’t fight me. I take the carrier into the hall. Now, if you excuse me— Mars needs another hug.