WTF? (or ‘Another Cerebral Palsy aware day.’)

I woke up by my alarm at 4 a.m. yesterday, and for the first time in days, I thought I could actual get out of bed. My body has been heavy with fatigue and a steady post nasal drip. I suppose that might be from closing up the windows with a bird, a dog, and 11 cats in a house desperately in need of a vacuum.

But even so, I laid in bed until about 4:20 cuddling the FURR fosters in my bed: tripod Louise and kitten Jennifer Grey.

I drank two cups of coffee, one Supercoffee and one Dunkin Polar Peppermint.

I even wrote about 500 words on my next Fashion and Fiends novel that I have been struggling with for months.

I was stiff and my back was achy and yesterday I noticed some of that burning in my toe but I thought perhaps I could blame my shoes.

I saw the chiropractor the night prior, the amazing Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center. Nothing really seemed amiss and things were moving well.

Yesterday at the warehouse I performed 97%. So I thought… why not… let’s take one of my baclofen pills to see if looser muscles might mean less stiffness and aches. It was the first time I ever took one in the morning. I’ve taken them in the evening and slowly taken them earlier.

The pill helped. It felt like I could swing my legs again.

The medicine reminded me that I never heard back from the neurologist’s office about the appointment they needed to move and the paperwork I submitted. So I emailed. Now, the portal that allows patients to email medical staff has a strict character count. While in the newspaper business, I had a nickname: the word count goddess. This was in the pre-Twitter days when no one cared about character counts.

I composed a masterful email that addressed all my concerns succinctly, but maintained a polite air. I love this doctor and truly want to make her life as easy as possible.

I performed most of the day at 100%, by my employer’s numbers, which don’t account for our ten minute breaks. Their numbers suggest we do 16.25 units per hour, but don’t change during the hours we have break, which is twice a day. Their default calculation means the computer thinks one unit should take almost 3 minutes 40 seconds. So a ten minute break (and a small amount of time to move to and from a work station) reduces the potential productivity of that hour by about 3 units. So to compensate for that difference, if you wanted to keep every hour equal, the units per hour should be 17.

My first hour, I completed 18. My second hour I only completed 16. Then we had break, (and my neurologist had sent an encouraging email back by that point and her nurse had suggested a time for my next appointment) and I completed 5-6 in the twenty or so minutes before we had a department wide “power hour” in which I completed 19. So by the midpoint of my shift, and even when I clocked out for lunch, I was at exactly 100% with no accommodations for my disability. But by lunch, my ability to bend was decreasing.

I felt like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz when he begs Dorothy for oil.

I had a cheerful lunch with my friends, and went back to work, still maintaining the official numbers for 100%. Even by our last break at 1:30, I was still 100%. But I was stiff. And feeling sluggish. So for the first time ever, I took a second baclofen in a day. My doctor suggested up to 3 a day.

My toes were burning at this point, making me wonder if my pain from my two Morton’s neuromas had returned. OR if my toes were rubbing because I forgot my toe separator doo-dad. OR if my toes rubbing (because later I saw and felt the bony, protruding tender spot where it hurts) impacts my posture and triggers the neuroma(s).

If the issue continues, the neurologist wants me to call the podiatrist. I stopped by his office last week to drop off $11.32 in cash for my copay and his office was unexpectedly closed. In the old-fashioned manner, I slipped the envelope in the door.

I worked as hard as I could the remainder of the day, now trailing behind because of my ten-minute break and at 2:30 p.m., 30 minutes from quitting time, the support team brings me the “easy” work and tells me it’s a priority. I end the day one unit away from 100%. One unit.

And somewhere around 2 p.m., the neurologist had called and asked for $30 payment for the form fee for my FMLA paperwork. I apologized and said while I completely would pay the fee, I was at work and didn’t have my wallet on me and I would get back to them before the holiday. I called them at 3:10 p.m. from my car, and was added to a call back list, because the wait time was 40 minutes.

I hope including this much detail might show how difficult it is to pursue medical care and to pursue official accommodations in the workplace. Medical care itself is a labyrinth. Navigating your way to a provider who not only cares but has the knowledge to help, maintaining the patience and persistence to pay the fees and follow the paperwork, and taking responsibility for lifestyle changes that only you can make. I’m fortunate that I can do these things myself. What if my disability prevented that? Would I be treated the same way?

Just throwing that out there.

So now the happiest part of my day— hanging out with my blind friend, poet and essayist Nancy Scott.

She needed to go to the bank and she wanted to go to the Dollar Tree to check out the Christmas decorations. We had a great time roaming the aisles with me describing all the goodies. Nan fell in love with an elf.

I said to Nan, “my leg is not working.”

I meant it off-handedly but I checked my phone later. And sure enough— my walking asymmetry was way off. Normally I fall when the spike hits 10 percent. It was 50 percent.

Hopefully today will go smoother.

How to Deal with a Heat Wave: Ice Cream Dog Walks

“You better put in that application for a service dog.”

We hadn’t even made it half-way down our block and I already stumbled and fell. The teenager, her dog, and I had left our house at 7 p.m. on just another high-90s day. We were headed to CVS for ice cream.

The CVS is a 2,000 step walk— there and back— so we thought it would be good exercise for the whole family.

Plus, I had about $3.75 in Extra Bucks and a 40% off coupon. A pint of ice cream is $6.99 at CVS so I grabbed a whole bunch of singles and a handful of change.

The dog behaved really well on the walk, but my left foot did not— it kept twisting under me. I felt like I had to lift up my feet in exaggerated steps not to fall. Like high knees marching.

I stumbled twice on the way home but did not fall again.

The teenager made her remark about the service dog. I’ve spent a lot of time with her dog this weekend and thought… just imagine if this dog were useful.

I already did 90% of the 54-page application packet. I talked to those people I want to be my support letters (the teenager and my neighbor, as they would be my literal supports) and my references: the teenager’s father, cat foster godmother (who used to be a social worker) and my long-time therapist (whose wife is a physical therapist).

That leaves one thing: the medical evaluation. My own insecurities make it very difficult for me to ask for help. And it’s taken a long time for me to learn to speak up and out and advocate for myself.

I am nervous to ask my doctor— my family doctor of more than a decade— to do it. Part of me wants to wait until my appointment on August 19. But if he says no, that only leaves me two months to find someone else.

I think I need to call the office tomorrow and leave him a message to ask if he’d do it if I bring the paperwork August 19, or sooner if he wishes.

Again, I have doubts. What if I’m not disabled enough? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. I don’t want to take a spot away from someone who needs a dog more than me.

But I’m struggling and I’m scared and I’m getting older. And I can do so much on my own but a dog would give me that much more.

I spent a lot of time on the application. Pretty much a whole day. What do you want the dog to do? What’s your typical day? Do you work? Do you volunteer? What are your interests and hobbies? Do you own a home? Do you have pets? Who lives with you? Do you drive? Can you handle travel? Can you take care of the dog? Are you able to train the dog?

If I can get ahold of the doctor’s office, as soon as I know someone will fill out the papers— I will tell my letter-writers and references to do their thing.

My therapist and I had a chat about it. His professional association discourages therapists from doing medical evaluations for service dog applications, but since I was asking for a reference, he was okay with that. He had no idea how many things a mobility dog could do.

He mentioned that in our current times, the emotional support animal and assistance dog phenomenon seems to be getting more and more prolific but that in my case, I’d obviously put a lot of thought into it, done my research, and found a program that could really benefit me.

Fingers crossed, I guess.

Oh, and the ice cream… it was $1.86 after my discounts. I had a $5 bill, five singles and 87 cents in my pocket. I paid exact change.

Do until you can’t do

If you’re a regular reader here, you may recall I had a fall last week, at the hospital, when I went for a CT scan of my brain. If you missed that episode, you can read about it here

What I didn’t mention is that I also took a second rather more dramatic fall in my kitchen that same day.

I’m rather sure Dr. Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center cringed as I told her this story, and the story about my knee totally facing the wrong way.

This prompted her to adjust my ears— apparently I had some left ear congestion. The adjustment was a rather uncomfortable yank in my earlobes.

Anyway, she mentioned that I tend to “just keep doing until I can’t do no more” which is 100% true and something I learned from both my parents. They both have incredible work ethics.

On Sunday at work in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, I believe I hit 96% in packing Freestyle orders. Yesterday, we got shipped to women’s returns processing where I struggled in an attempt to hit 70%. Today I hit about 85% in my home department (QC) despite incredible amounts of pain.

My feet were burning. My joints a little achy. My right quad screaming. A slight nosebleed. And both sides of my hips felt wrong. So I checked walking asymmetry in iHealth.

Definitely periodic issues since yesterday afternoon.

If I’m still uncomfortable and having trouble moving in the morning, I’ll go to work and call the chiropractor when she opens.

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.

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.

Midweek moments: Finding new perspective in small joys

This week has been a very busy week for me, in part because I have less hours in a day because of mandatory overtime and the fact that my body has finally adjusted and is sleeping 8 hours a night versus 6.

Recent events and uncertainties remind me of how much we as humans get so caught up in big things, that we forget the little things. These precious details are what make life worth living— whether that be a board game with the family, your favorite ice cream or hitting a new personal best while weight training.

Let me share some of my ten fun “moments” with you.

1. COFFEE DATE: Earlier this week, my neighbor invited me over for a cup of coffee because she wanted to share her excitement over her new milk frotter. Truth be told it was pretty cool— making an ordinary cup of coffee into a celebration.

2. BUZZ CUT CONVERSATIONS: I’ve enjoyed hearing people’s reactions to my extra short hair. Yes, Angel now has a buzz cut. If I’m honest, it makes me uncomfortable as my curly locks are a big part of my confidence and femininity, not having that impacts certain aspects of my personality.

But to hear others react is fun. They tell me their secret hair desires. It strikes up conversations with people with whom I might not normally talk.

3. MIDNIGHT BEER WITH DOG: The weather has warmed so instead of merely letting the pup out to relief herself, I brought a beer and some Doritos and enjoyed our patio and the moon. Moonbathing like the Addams Family.

4. EMBRACING DISABILITY IDENTITY AT WORK: I received an email earlier this week that Stitch Fix is creating some employee groups related to issues like race, gender identity/sexuality and disability. I signed up to join the disability group.

I’m still new on being “out” and open about my disability. I’m learning that I need to be less ashamed and embarrassed about having cerebral palsy. My disability has created many positives. I am tenacious and maintain a good attitude.

In working in a physical and metric driven job, I’m not meeting the same numbers as everyone else but I hope my employer sees that I am dependable, will always give 100% and will always take on a challenge.

5. FUNKY WATER MACHINE: They took away our bottled water at work and replaced it with a water machine that will provide still or sparkling water in a variety of flavors. This makes staying hydrated much more fun.

6. “PEARLS”: I wore my golden costume pearls to work. It made a lot of people smile. It made me clatter when I walked.

7. FUN MASKS: I bought myself some new masks but they are missing. So it means a lot to me that work provides holiday-themed masks. And a lot of them have gnomes.

8. BABY BIRD: Baby Bird is hanging out with the big birds outside the nest. He still can’t fly. He looks like his daddy.

9. FRENCH RAP: I recently renewed my interest in French language hip-hop music. Between that and all the podcasts I listen to at work, I feel like my brain absorbs so many new ideas all the time.

10. CAR TITLE: I paid off my car last week and the title arrived today. I bought the car in November 2018, refinanced it when I lost my job during the summer and now it’s mine!

My Monday blog post with no decent title written on a Tuesday

It is 1:01 a.m. as I write this. There is a kitten at my left hip fascinated by the bubbles in my gin cocktail (gin and cherry vanilla seltzer), a small cockatoo on my knee and a pile of clean, folded laundry at the end of the bed that I have no intention of moving before I go to sleep.

Clean laundry

I had a really good shift at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy. I’m a tad bummed because I had hoped to “pick” 140 or more fixes and I only hit 135.

Working as a picker in the warehouse is like being an athlete training for a marathon— I love the challenge of trying to increase my performance every day.

It’s using muscles in my lower body that haven’t ever experienced activity like this. I spent 10 years on my feet and doing labor at Target, but this doesn’t feel like work.

It feels like a game.

My total number of steps for yesterday was around 24,500. It feels good.

Another day at the Bizzy Hizzy

It’s approaching 1 a.m. and I am amazed at how quickly I am adapting to going to bed around 1:15 a.m. and waking up around 8:45 a.m.

An hour ago I was placing my laptop into the cupboard, taking my last cart of fixes to the “garage” area and heading to the time clock.

I only walked 16,000 steps in the warehouse tonight but I hit the pre-direct pick picking goal of 128 fixes.

I am sitting in my bed with a gin-and-cucumber-positive-beverage-B12 cocktail. I have kittens surrounding me (the Norse Pride domestic long hairs) and Nala chattering and falling asleep on my knee—and I know my bird should be asleep right now but she wakes up when she hears me come home and she’ll be super angry with me tomorrow if I don’t give her a bedtime cuddle.

She just fell asleep — on my knee.

The scene looks something like this:

The swarming Norse Pride

Poor Fog is whimpering outside my door as he used to be the cat that slept with me until the teenager moved the Norse Pride (some of our foster kittens through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab) into my room. He wants no part of those pesky furball kittens.

But he misses me now that I am working, and he pursues every opportunity he can to be with me.

Fog

Today involved some meetings, including the Lehigh Valley Regional Homelessness Advisory Board. I organized some paperwork and paid some bills as this week’s unemployment payment came.

I received EBT/SNAP (food stamps) for September, October and November so I’ve been combing every store possible for the best deals. Grocery Outlet and Lidl remain my standbys, but I find some good coupons at CVS. Today they sent me a coupon for a Starbucks Frappuccino from their ready-to-drink cooler for $1.49. I had $1 in Extra Bucks expiring today so I got the coffee beverage for 49 cents in food stamps.

Why does SNAP pay for candy and bottles of Frappuccino but there is no program to pay for bath soap, laundry supplies or toilet paper? One friend remarked that poor people must not be allowed to be clean.

So, now that I’m employed again these are issues I shouldn’t have to contemplate much longer.

And I suppose eventually StitchFix might ask me to stop blogging about them but I hope not— I’m a wholesome blogger with a long history in the public relations and journalism field.

But I’m so excited about hitting the 128 number and we had Thanksgiving dinner at work!

Happy Fluffy Day

Happy Friday, my faithful and potentially new readers!

I started today somehow determine to clean my room and perform the weekly maintenance on my roomba that should have been done at least three months ago.

That took a lot of time and energy, especially since my rib is still bothering me from my fall last Friday. This is one of the many things that keeps life spicy when you have cerebral palsy.

But the unseasonably warm weather and everything fluffy kept me happy amidst my chores.

Then my silly Goffins cockatoo, Nala, decided to dive into her water bowl.

Silly bird

I received a text from one of my neighbors inviting me over for coffee, so I took my filthy self, my quince jelly and my last two English muffins and enjoyed some chit chatting with my other half (she owns the other half of my double). And Buddy, her dog, was handsome as always.

Buddy

Then I heard from another neighbor, Sobaka’s mom, that “cookie walk” could be scheduled for about 11:15. Cookie walk is a trip around the neighborhood where we visit with another neighbor’s mom and step dad as we collect treats for the dog.

We decided to do errands together with me as chauffeur. After a trip to the ever amazing Carmelcorn in downtown Easton (I did not go in— she who has a BMI of almost 27 and no income does not need candy), we finished our outing with a stop to CVS where I needed to grab my prescription and some food deals.

I came home and made some DiGiorno frozen pizza. Teenager #1 and I agree that the stuffed crust on the stuffed crust DiGiorno was delicious, but the pizza was lackluster. The four cheese DiGiorno was incredible.

As if that wasn’t enough goodness from today, I received a text from Zeus and Apollo’s new mom. She says they are doing well. And sent photos!

She has no idea how happy her text made me. This is some of what she had to say:

I wanted to tell you these little kitties are amazing. They are fearless even around our other kitties. So far everyone seems to be getting along , they are very curious about each other. The little ones are still timid to get pets but took treats and played.

PEEC

A few weeks ago Gayle and I proposed to the teenager going to Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) www.peec.org for their waterfall tour.

The July date didn’t quite mesh with our schedules so we headed up today.

17,000 steps later…

Gayle has some great stories from our day on her blog: “Fat Girl Walking” at PEEC

I don’t really have much to say other than:

  • The parks/trails seemed so crowded and people were from out of state, which is fine, but they seemed to be hanging out more than hiking.
  • A hiking guide’s idea of a mile is shorter than mine.
  • If land is designated as National Recreation Area, people can hunt and fish on that property. You cannot hunt or fish in a National Park.
  • Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel are nearly identical. Mountain Laurel grows in high elevations and has leaves smaller than the palm of your hand. If the leaves are bigger than your hand, it is a rhododendron.
  • Burning poison ivy and breathing the fumes can give you internal poison ivy.

Our tour guides had some interesting knowledge of the area; and our favorite had an eclectic post-college experience of accepting Americorps posts all over the country. She apparently had extraordinary prowess with a chain saw.

We learned a lot about plants, both native and invasive; trees and their insect diseases; and history— they even discussed how this area was shaped by the proposed Tock’s Island Dam project.

I find the Tock’s Island Dam controversy fascinating. Because the land was taken by eminent domain and not originally destined for National Park use, the people who had their homes seized did not have much time to move. So much debris was left behind but nothing can be removed from a National Park.

These high school students did a great job on this brief documentary explaining the project.

Student Documentary on Tock’s Island Dam

The official park service web page on Tock’s Island Dam

What is even more fascinating is that without the proposed Tock’s Island Dam, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area would not exist as it does today and it wouldn’t be as expansive. Even one of the biggest anti-Tock’s dam activists says that the process of condemning those homes and entire towns for the dam protected the area from future development.

I grew up on the Delaware River. Much downstream from where we were today, at the start of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. So hearing about “Hurricane Diane,” “the (19)’55 flood,” etc., was like listening to legends about my own history, as if the river were my blood.

My bedroom faced the river, and when I find myself someone where I can hear water washing against the shore in the lazy way that river does, I close my eyes and can revisit some of the best memories of my childhood.

And of course no 65 minute road trip is complete without some sites on the road: