Friday Adventure: Slateford Creek Falls

One of the women I went to school with took her kids to Slateford Creek Falls, a place about 5-6 miles from my childhood home. I have never been there. Her pictures left me captivated.

How could something so beautiful exist so close to my former home?

Gayle joined the teenager and I for a morning walk. We did a little web research— apparently not enough.

Gayle drove and I took her on a scenic detour to my childhood home between Tuscarora Inn and Driftstone Campground in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

We arrived at the main parking lot on National Park Drive in one of the first parks that make up Delaware Water Gap.

And we knew from our research that the falls weren’t by the main parking lot but we decided to follow the main trail anyway. Maybe we thought the falls would move just for us.

We were rewarded for our adventurous spirit by seeing two very large woodpeckers with vivid red heads.

Arrow Island Trail Head

Someone gave us helpful directions that the falls were across the street and by the “pull off” between the guard rails. I remembered seeing the pull off on the way in, and I was sure it wasn’t that far.

I was wrong. We followed the road, on foot, down the steep, windy road. And we almost made it, but we weren’t sure how far it was and wasn’t sure we could walk to the falls AND make it up the hill.

Gayle offered to get the car, which didn’t make much sense because Gayle doesn’t do well on hills. Her knees have aged faster than she has.

The teenager volunteered me to go get the car. I asked if she was coming too— she said no, that I would only slow her down. Apparently, the now-16-year-old can’t keep up with me on hills. And I have cerebral palsy!

So I hauled my butt up that hill, huffing and puffing. Gayle and The Teenager almost made it, too!

I didn’t move Gayle’s seat so I was sitting on the edge barely reaching the pedals and then I couldn’t get the doors to unlock but Gayle took over and saved the day.

And when we found the trail, it was intimidatingly vertical. I’ll let Gayle’s blog entry cover the specifics of the trail:

Click here for Gayle’s blog entry .

My Photos

The teenager got to play in the falls, and Gayle and I didn’t end up on the wrong side of gravity although Gayle did bump her head on that tree.

It occurred to me— as the teenager and I gathered slate for future spiritual purposes, climbed among the rocks and fallen trees in the middle of the creek, and enjoyed the peace of the rumbling water—that this moment was full of freedom, nature and life giving resources.

The stats on this hike weren’t accurately counted. The teen got 4 miles, I got 2.5 and Gayle’s numbers were different from those. I got credit for 3 flights of stairs, Gayle got 14.

And perhaps it was no coincidence that I had received notice that I am losing my job with the full moon and “Independence Day” approaching.

With this in mind, I arrived home in time to meet up with our favorite little dog, Sobaka, who is hanging out with us while her “mom” is at a picnic.

Sobaka laid at my feet while I did some public relations work for upcoming events hosted by Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.

I am constantly blessed to work with such a wide range of people with different outlooks and different strengths. I learn something from everyone of them— admiring one person’s brilliance, another’s kind heart, and yet another’s passion and willingness for boots-on-the-ground work.

It’s a lot to think about.

Maybe I’ll get out my tarot cards tomorrow.

Why I need my lucky shirt: a typical day when you’re eccentric and have cerebral palsy

The best stories start with “it began as a typical day,” but in this case it did not.

The teenager turned 16 on Tuesday and my employer had scheduled our annual meeting for Tuesday so I planned to take off today and tomorrow to celebrate with my offspring.

With Coronavirus changing everything I could have taken Monday and Tuesday instead.

Last night, I curled up in bed with a gin cocktail and watched some more of Harlan Coben’s: The Five on Netflix. (Mini review: my friend, brow maintenance person and nail tech Beth recommended the show—and I am enjoying what I feel is edgy cinematography, rapid paced story telling, complex writing, and realistically complicated and tragic characters. It’s like watching a comic book.)

So I got to bed later than I normally do and I slept a little better than I normally do. I fed the kittens, made coffee, started laundry and finagled a cake carrier into the dishwasher.

After a cup of my favorite Archer Farms Direct Trade Cafe Mosaica from Target on my breezy enclosed sun porch, I slapped some clothes on… and ended up trying to accessorize a basic outfit.

Which is funny because I was going to pick up Nan, who is blind and won’t see my efforts anyway.

And then I was surprised to find out that the teenager made me breakfast— a mini bagel with greens, cucumber and fresh bacon.

After we worked on some poetry, Nan and I went to Lidl. And I took her home.

When I arrived home, the teenager informed me that her plan for today involved not wearing pants. So after a brief respite, I went to Wendy’s for a Frosty-ccino.

That was when the real adventure began.

I decided to take Nala, my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined the family in January. Now, recently we took Nala to Dunkin Donuts to try hash browns and that went well.

And this is how she did: Nala at Dunkin

And we had taken Misty, our kitten, to Wendy’s (Kitten at Wendy’s ) so why not a bird?

So I ordered my Frosty-ccino and a junior fry for my baby girl bird on the mobile app and got into the drive thru lane. And then I did what we all do in this day and age. I took a selfie.

That’s when I realized Nala had pooped on me in fear. And I had no wipes in the car. Green bird droppings now stained my white t-shirt and Nala was walking in the mess.

But everyone in the drive thru window loved her— three employees cooed at her from afar.

I pulled into a parking space and offered her a French fry and she was too scared to eat it. I drove her home, put the car in the garage, gathered the waste and the food and started up toward the house.

Now, the teenager’s father moved some heavy original doors from the house across the garage so he could use my great grandmother’s hutch in his apartment. He did this a couple week’s ago. The doors block a portion of the stairs.

I got tangled up on the stairs/with the doors and fell, to the left onto the doors to avoid smashing Nala who was on my right shoulder.

I almost spilled my coffee and French fries fluttered like hail.

But luckily Nala is a bird, and a forager, so she doesn’t mind a little dirt. I gather them all carefully and climb up from the floor, some contusions and cuts causing minor pain.

I bump the doors and they almost fall on me. This time the French fries scatter to the four winds.

I notice how much blood and dirt cover me and I head inside to discover Nala has pooped even more.

I set her down.

I remove my shirt. White tee shirt. Vivid blood. Green poop.

I wash up and count my blessings— I was very close (too close) to breaking an arm.

I put on my lucky shirt once I cleaned up.

Addendum: I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile and wrote this introduction as to why I felt this piece was important especially as part of a discourse on social justice.

I don’t like to admit I have a disability— #cerebralpalsy. But it’s important to note that with all the stereotypes and institutionalized ideas people have about “others,” whether other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, identities, educational or social class (the list goes on and on), for those of us who have tried to “pass” as “normal” or “mainstream,” our experience is difficult. As all life is difficult to one degree or another. But if you are obviously “different” and you can’t “pass,” those notions of who you are based on quick judgments can be catastrophic. Or lead to people doing harm to you or someone you love. #blacklivesmatter

In that context, allow me to share with you what a typical day looks like for me. Warning— I end up bleeding by the end of it. Different isn’t inferior. Or threatening.

Two Loves Connected in Ellicott City

The backstory

My memories of Ellicott City, MD, are vague but happy. I somehow missed the severity of the 2016 and 2018 floods, perhaps due to marital issues.

My college roommate hailed from Ellicott City, and after living in Texas and North Carolina, returned to the Baltimore suburbs. A town neighboring Ellicott.

My college roommate, we’ll call her N to respect her privacy, was part of the same college social circle as my husband and I. Long before my husband and I dated, we did things like pile into N’s black Honda Accord, the car on which I learned to drive a manual transmission while blasting Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill, to swarm into N’s parents’ split level house and spend the weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Faire.

I can’t even tell you for sure what I did in Ellicott City. I know N always took me proudly down Main Street for a walk. I remember a shop with crazy hats, lively colors and the memory of a velvety texture.

When my daughter was 2, yes the teenager, I drove the three hours alone to meet N and my high school best friend who drove three hours up from Virginia. And we took lots of photos on Main Street in Ellicott City. I recall antique stores on that trip.

And I locked my keys in the trunk of the car at a rest stop two hours away from home at dusk.

I also know of another trip where N took me for coffee and dessert at what I believe was a French restaurant one night. Where I taste pear tart tartine for the first time.

I have very key memories of Ellicott City.

Gordon Ramsay

Now, if you’ve been around this blog for a while, you probably know I have a strong admiration for Gordon Ramsay. I also have some rather strong unladylike feelings for Chef.

I can’t help it— I like tall, athletic men with exotic accents and bad attitudes. And I’m a Taurus so food is really important to me.

So when I saw that Gordon filmed an episode of his latest TV show in Ellicott City a few months ago, I did what any fan girl would do: I squealed and texted all my friends. Okay, maybe not all of them. My almost ex-husband and N. I haven’t reached out to N in months but this was important.

The episode aired May 13 and is available on Hulu now.

N said she hadn’t seen it, but most of Ellicott City is still boarded up. She’s heard that the locals feel like Gordon came across as single-handedly taking credit for rebuilding the town.

(They had catastrophic 1,000 year floods two years apart—2016 and 2018.)

Gordon worked with four local businesses and made some cosmetic improvements. And then Covid hit.

I watched the double episode and didn’t feel like Gordon was being an egotistical maniac. He was kinder and more in the background than he usually is.

The story of the episode really focused on the trauma and the struggles and the personalities of the business owners and the community at large.

If anything, it seemed to honor the spirit of the town and the grit of the businesses.

I hope N gets to watch it.

I’d like to hear her opinion.

In the meantime, we need to amend the constitution so Gordon can run for President. He always seems to have his act together. Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger can be his running mate.

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

Goals—and how the impulsive selection of a desktop picture breeds hope

My last day in the office was March 17. We were practicing social distancing— not allowed to pass each other in the hall, speaking from inside our offices, wiping down doorknobs and the copy machine.

It was George’s mother’s birthday and he couldn’t go see her in the nursing home. That made him sad.

Tomorrow will be my 13th day of working from home. The fourth day of my second year with the agency. My first full day working on my new laptop. I had to reset windows and I managed to send myself this old picture from my phone for my desktop photo:

Traveling

I took it on the road between Djibouti City and Lac Abbé four years ago. Other than my daughter, I’ve shown one person this photo and they didn’t even ask what it was.

“Some random African photo,” he said when I asked if he noticed it, “I know your fascination with Africa.”

So I explained. “Ah,” he said, “that makes sense.”

This is the original photo that I took in January 2016.

On the Road

There is beauty in that photo, and oppressive dry heat, and the implication of hardship. Where are they going? Is it far? Yet, such color and contrast. Simplicity.

The man in the front is wearing a traditional man’s skirt. They say it helps you stay cool in the heat. The women have such light but colorful layers, lovely hijab blowing in what appears to be a slight breeze.

This photo takes me away when I look at it, and for me, it offers perspective and optimism.

I do have a critical theorist’s fascination with Africa, but my passion is actually post-colonial Francophone Africa and how their colonial experience and subsequent (ahem) immigration issues and Muslim relations provide lessons for American imperialism in a post-9/11 world.

Though recent political upheaval in South Africa may provide an interesting cross-examination of the British colonial experience… and what that means for the next generation of African citizens across the continent.

But I digress… not uncommon.

I have some goals I want to set this week.

  • Have several meals with my daughter at our patio cafe.
  • Take 3 walks.
  • Do 5 push ups tomorrow, 10 on Tuesday, and as many as I can each day as long as it is at least the same as the day before.
  • Care for my nails.
  • Take a bath.
  • Cut the grass.
  • Do a blog series on Tarot cards
Happy Sunday

The Road Trip Home

The witch travels from Washington DC home with Mercury in retrograde

I thought I was on top of everything. I hoped to leave DC around 9 so I could be home by 1.

But then M’s housemates made this lovely kale frittata for breakfast.

I love kale and I love breakfast!

So I enjoyed a slice. And then another.

Everyone followed me out to the car and wished me farewell… and then M noticed a nail in my tire.

M called AAA because I don’t have my membership card. While he did that, I called my AAA home office and asked them to email me a pdf of my membership information. They assured me that I was in the system, but a pdf still made me feel better.

M and I chatted about the international cleaning staples: Lava soap, Brillo pads and Borax powder.

The AAA man came expediently, plugged my tire and sent me on my way.

After 25 miles, while on I-95 about to merge onto 695 outside Baltimore, my tire pressure light came on. I did what I always do, I called my dad and started to freak out and cry.

He advised me to get off the highway and have someone check the tire.

So I got off 695 on the first exit and pulled into a CVS parking lot while I checked the tire visually, then tried to reset the light, and then gave up and used the AAA app to locate local gas stations.

Interesting tidbit, it didn’t tell me which were gas stations and which were actual service (repair) stations.

I ended up at a Sunoco, I believe A.C.E Automotive. I pulled up in front of what looked to be an air compressor hose. I stepped into the office and explained what had happened earlier and asked if anyone could check my tire pressure.

An older gentleman finished writing up someone’s car repair invoice and told me to move my car “by that silver car.”

The silver car was my car.

He checked all of my tires. The back tires were around 26 psi. The drivers side front tire was 31 psi and the freshly repaired tire was 20 psi. The person helping me filled them all and went to get a spray bottle to check the plug.

After it looked like the plug was good, he then told me to drive a mile or two and come back.

I still couldn’t get the light to reset.

So I drove a bit and came back and filled the car with gas. I asked the gentleman his name, and introduced myself. His name was Gary and he reminded me of my dad.

Meanwhile my dad is texting me. My dad encourages me to be cautious and not to hesitate to buy a new tire.

Gary checks all the tires and they are holding pressure. He knows I have 175 miles to go. He tells me to text my dad that I’m fine and I don’t need a new tire.

I try to pay Gary and he tells me I don’t owe him anything because “that’s how people should be.”
I stop at the visitors center right over the Pennsylvania state line and finally am able to reset the tire pressure light. I thought about how much those lights scare me. “Back in the day,” we got in the car and took our chances. We didn’t have warning lights. Cars just broke down.

And now a light comes on and I’m calling my dad in tears terrified I’m going to have a horrible accident.

But at the visitors center, the light goes out. I buy coffee from the vending machine.

And I notice the rest stop has free wi-fi. How cutting edge of Pennsylvania.

I was considering stopping at a truck stop to buy a tire gauge, but I did not.

I also promised myself if I saw a Popeye’s I would get a chicken sandwich. I did not.

I got home at 3.

That was a long day.

For more on my weekend away:

Saturday mini-break in DC

Sunday Funday paperwork

Things I noticed on the bus in DC

Saturday mini-break in DC

My day started early when I couldn’t sleep past 5:15 am. I tossed and turned in bed until I finally got up at 6.

I spent some time with my Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, before pretending to head to work. I was really going to get my nails done and going to visit my traveling companion, M, in Washington, DC.

The teenager is caring for the menagerie in my absence.

Beth trimmed my nails and filed off the old nail polish and gave me a fill on my acrylic manicure.

I went with a dark plum with a cat eye for my farewell to winter nails.

Beth was running a little behind so M mentioned not to worry he was occupied doing his federal taxes. So after my appointment I stopped home to get my tax forms. I grabbed my divorce paperwork too.

I was on the road by exactly 10 am and I arrived here in DC at 1:30, with one potty break. I had forgotten how much I enjoy driving, blasting my music, singing and thinking. Traffic is not so fun.

M and I then sat on the couch drinking coffee for FOUR HOURS. I laughed hard and often.

Then at 5:30 we hopped onto the bus and headed to Taqueria Habanero. (Taqueria Habanero) I had a lovely sangria with tequila.

And I ordered the pork and pineapple taco and a salmon taco, which was a really nice piece of fish, and ate M’s mole chicken for him. (For food photos, see instagram.)

The two men beside us at the restaurant were very old and very loud and I think they were meeting for the first time on a Tinder date.

Then we went across the street to the 7-Eleven because M wanted to buy me these chips…

… which I ate on the bus ride home. They start out smooth and ranchy.

I also asked M to buy me cookies, which he did. So now we are relaxing in his living room with cookies.

Friday night & Valentines

This is going to be a crazy lil bit of everything post. I’ll try to divide into topics with subheadings; I want to be good to y’all.

Nala

I bought her some new toys. Anything paper, like the one above, is a hit. But she seems to be afraid of bigger toys of heavier materials.

This is a photo of everything I got her:

As for plucking, it gets worse and better day by day. I’ve noticed three main triggers:

  1. Change in routine
  2. Overstimulation
  3. Desire for attention

Misty and Fog

The kittens certainly get more tired out since we let them run through the house. They pull they towels off the racks in the bathroom. They scatter the wash in the laundry room. They steal Oz’s food and he’s too big and dumb to stop them.

Some of my past kitten posts:

Kitten update

The third kitten

Nails

Tomorrow I get my first fill on my nails. They still look pretty perfect and I can see my natural nails growing in!

For more on my nails:

Nails

Road trip tomorrow!!!!

I joined AAA last weekend specifically because I’m traveling to Washington DC alone this weekend.

My temporary cards haven’t come!

I’m super excited and mostly ready.

I told my work colleagues and they asked if I planned on touring any of the downtown DC sites. I said no, I plan on sitting on my friend’s couch drinking coffee most of the weekend.

The teenager is going out with her dad so I’m on my own tonight for Valentine’s.

Road trip to Washington DC

So, while my daughter was on Spring Break, I experienced something I hadn’t experienced in a long time.

A paid holiday.

A long weekend.

We spent Easter in Washington, DC, with my traveling companion, M. and his Indian housemates.

Washington, DC, is approximately 3.5 hours from my house by car. I say approximately because traffic can fluctuate.

We left at 8ish Friday morning, stopping at our local Target for band-aids, nail polish remover and bagels. We always run into people we know and give lots of hugs so we didn’t get going until 9.

We stopped around 11:30 in York, Pa., to use the gym. We certainly are getting our money’s worth from our Planet Fitness membership.

And then… after a hearty upper body workout and slaying the crunches… there was a Five Guys outside.

We had the man who waited on us cracking up.

Follow me on Instagram for more photos

We arrived in DC at 3.

We hung around the house and had some amazing paneer for dinner. Then we went to Harris Teeter for groceries. This jelly bean addict was offended to see that they only carried Brach’s or Starburst jelly beans. No Just Born?!?!

In the morning, I took our Indian host to the gym in Silver Springs.

In the afternoon, we visited the Frederick Douglass house. That Victorian home is in tact. His books. His desk. His ice box. His dumbbells. His chair. His trunks. His rug beater.

Took my breath away.

Then we went to National Harbor. To the Peep store. Where, even though I am from the Lehigh Valley where Just Born makes my jelly beans and Peeps, I purchased a big batch of candy.

And fed my Indian host his first Peep.

See that here:

https://youtu.be/TgBQ2T4j_Nw

My walking tour of Salisbury

We finished the official 5k volkssport walk in Salisbury, Maryland, with almost 2 hours before the bus came to pick us up and drive us off to the racetrack in Dover, Delaware.

Dunkin Donuts had alerted me via their app that the Ravens won yesterday so I could get a free medium coffee. I googled the nearest Dunkin from our hotel (La Quinta) and asked Gayle if she were up for another adventure. She said sure.

Off we went.

On the way we passed a Wawa and a Goodwill. My ears perked up.

After a straight shot one mile walk, I got my coffee and a spider donut with a munchkin head. We stopped at Family Dollar and also at Goodwill. I bought a shirt, a blouse, a dress, and two sweaters for $31.

We still got back with an hour to spare.