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:

Daffy Monday walk at Louise Moore Park

My blind friend, Nancy, always says that I’m the only person she knows that has a life as daffy as hers.

This morning I got up, helped the teenager med the kittens and dealt with some other cat rescue business, drove the teen to band camp for photos, and headed to Young’s Volkswagen Mazda to get my car inspected.

I originally had an appointment for two weeks ago and I had to cancel that when I was admitted into the hospital.

I need a state inspection and emission test, and the dealership will do the state inspection for free. My 2015 Jetta has synthetic oil, so it only needs an oil change every 10,000 miles or once a year. Well, thanks to corona I’ve only driven 5,000 miles this year. So… does it need an oil change?

My dad told me it needs the tires rotated. And my mileage is at 30,800 so it’s due for a 30,000 mile service, which includes an oil change and tire rotation.

And my key fob doesn’t work. At all.

Then I forgot to put my breakfast in my purse. So I had a strong cup of French roast coffee, no food and my mind is buzzing.

I get to the dealership at 8:05 for an 8:30 appointment. I start organizing the insurance and registration paperwork and I realize my insurance card expired in April.

I download a new one, screen shot it and email it to the service clerk from my phone.

He notices I am high strung and suggests I calm down.

At a previous time, I had ascertained that the oil change, inspection and tire rotation would be cheaper than the 30,000 mile service.

Gayle is on her way to pick me up so we can go for a walk in Louise Moore Park (one of my favorite spots In Northampton County. They have a kite festival. And the teenager learned to ride a bike there.)

Gayle somehow tours all of the local car dealerships before finding the right one, and she drives right by me and I didn’t even see her. And I was sitting on some giant boulders.

We had a good laugh as we both appreciate a silly mishap. We walked at least 5,500 steps on a beautiful, cool summer morning.

Louise Moore Park

We called from the park and the car was ready. Somehow we turned onto the highway instead of the car dealership and compensated for our oopsy by stopping at Dunkin Donuts for free coffee Monday and a green iced tea for Gayle.

Our discombobulation continued and we made a few more wrong turns.

I told Gayle I would be ecstatic if my car cost me $150 or less. I am unemployed right now and have no income.

When I arrived, the total was $150.53. I was thrilled. And they fixed my key fob— it had the wrong battery in it. I’m sure the guys at the dealership had a good laugh, and again, I’m okay with that.

I feel victorious as they fixed my key fob!

Zeus

In cat news, I pet little Apollo today, got Hades to take her antibiotics and played with Zeus and Artemis.

Lunch

Exhausted, I make a frozen pizza that I augment with nutritional yeast and extra sharp cheddar (which despite not being opened has somehow turned moldy— must be a tiny hole in the bag.)

The teenager would tell me not to eat it as I have a sensitivity to penicillin but after all of the penicillin-category antibiotics that have filled my body recently I don’t think moldy cheese will kill me.

Gayle’s blog: Gayle’s Manic Monday walk

Walking Wednesday

Today starting with me reluctant to climb from my bed at 6 a.m. but the three-legged cat and the other old cat (Opie and Oz) had stayed in my room with me and Opie wanted out.

I fed everyone and started the dishes and the wash, only to discover later that I never turned on the water to the dishwasher. So had to restart that. We all have those early morning moments.

Since my daughter was with her dad, I took the rest of the mint chocolate chip ice cream to my room and ate it with an iced tea spoon (after all, recall my dishes were going).

And then I checked on the freshly neutered kittens and spent some time with the bird.

Meanwhile Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and I, had a good cuddle but then she got rambunctious and started biting. So I took her back to her cage. Not in her cage. But away from me.

She did not like that.

Video of Nala’s tantrum: Angry Nala

This afternoon, I came to visit my friend Gayle in South Bethlehem to do a Volkssport walk. Volkssporting is a type of organized walking that allows family and friends to walk together on a organized route written by people from that area that want to show others the highlights. You can earn miles & collect events for, for lack of a better work, status in the club.

The South Bethlehem walk is a scenic spin through Lehigh University’s Campus (where I noticed a family of deer!) followed by a tour of the Greenway and then the ArtsQuest/former Bethlehem Steel properties.

And as if this fun wasn’t enough— Gayle made me a great light summer meal.

And then Gayle and I attended the Act 197 training sponsored by Aspire to Autonomy.

Nescafé capers

Days upon days of 85, 88, today 93.

Kiss Me Kate / “Too Darn Hot” (Ann Miller)

My weekend was filled with various forms of professional work. Some work for Aspire to Autonomy, some work for The March of Gentlemen, some brainstorming for Thrive PR. Darnell and I have some big projects brewing and I can’t wait to share them with everyone.

Last night we had our casual El Camino Virtual Pilgrimage zoom meeting. Despite the heat, I have consistently walked between 6,000 and 8,000 steps a day.

In the pilgrimage group we talked a lot about where we grew up and we set a challenge to find someplace new to walk this week.

This morning, my blind friend Nan and I got together to review her writing, submit some poetry, and look at the upcoming NASA schedule. The mission to Mars launches this week and the SpaceX Dragon returns from the International Space Station.

In the afternoon the regular insanity commenced here— Sobaka came to visit, Nala kept getting off her cage to harass the cats and the dog and the teen had a zoom meeting about the future of the marching band season. Marching Band is a go!

And today I heard the words I didn’t want to hear.

“Mom, can I taste your coffee?”

The teenager

It started with a blueberry caramel signature latte from Dunkin’. That started her with the realization that with enough sugar and milk, you can barely taste the coffee. Then I figured out how to replicate the $5 iced latte in an iced coffee on sale. Then I scaled back the caramel…

And then she started on cold brew.

And today she tasted my at-home quick and easy iced coffee. Coffee snobs please skip the next few paragraphs.

When I can’t afford fancy afternoon iced coffee, I take a pint of milk, mix in a heaping teaspoon of dark roast Nescafé instant coffee, and drop in three ice cubes.

An afternoon pick-me-up and a snack as there is milk.

And the teenager liked it.

With no sugar and no flavor.

Problem is… my Nescafé jar looks like this:

So not only now do I have to fight the teenager for milk, I have to challenge her on coffee. I had to lay down the law.

I told her— look, child, until we get to the grocery store again, you can drink the Dollar Store instant coffee your dad bought. She said that would be fine.

She had two glasses this afternoon.

She may never sleep again.

Urban Landscape Wooded Escape

Today, the teenager took Gayle and I to the lower end of her special creek. It’s the next journey as part of our virtual El Camino pilgrimage meant to foster spiritual growth and motivate our out-of-shape butts toward better fitness.

The teenager “slopped” in the creek (I think that’s the official Pennsylvania Dutch term for it) and mined for spiritual rocks.

The water was crystal clear even though the setting was marred with litter and debris. Birds sang gleefully as the highway noise competed for attention.

When we returned to my house, about 7,000 steps later, Gayle—the agnostic in our group— lamented that she’s never had a spiritual experience while walking, no breakthrough movements or epiphanies. I suggested that life didn’t work that way, at least not for me. My own personal truth comes in increments.

Then we turned the discussion to fitness and trying to stay motivated to be more active. We both said we’re bad at doing anything on our own.

And then we heard the ice cream truck. The teenager raced for the door as Gayle and I raced for our wallets.

That sure motivated us.

The Tony’s ice cream truck in pink and white has multiple things I need to try.

Somehow, the ice cream truck made me feel alive. Laughing with my daughter over the crazy flavors in the sour patch kid ice cream. Standing in the street, fully enjoying the urban summer experience.

Laughter abounding.

My Sunday Morning Pilgrimage Moment

Pilgrimages are for the humble, the weak, the seeking and the hurting.

Pilgrimages are often undertaken by the rich and/or the spiritually shallow, often to gain stature.

My morning started in my backyard with my mother, who has always been far more talented and motivated in terms of gardening. She did a little bit of my weeding— I believe that’s part of her “love language” to help me with my household chores.

After she left, I finished hanging the sheets on the clothesline and did some more weeding.

In those moments, I spent a lot of time reflecting. And I thought about the relationships I have been strengthening lately and the virtual pilgrimage via the El Camino that I have joined with friends on Facebook.

And I thought about how you have to have a strong sense of purpose and determination to take a pilgrimage — I know often religious commitment sparks such a journey but it often intersects with a need for healing, either spiritual or physical.

And the sense of facing challenge and achieving a difficult goal is part of the sense of success.

Then my neighbor (Sobaka’s Mom) said she was going for a walk at one of my favorite parks. I asked if she wanted company and she said sure. That she didn’t really want to go alone.

Of course, before I could go, I had to set Nala up with her puzzle of the day— Video of Today’s puzzle

We walked 5 miles. We talked about a little bit of everything. She’s a strong and plucky woman, and I enjoy her company.