Podcasts and Sunday spirit

My Rough Start to the Day

I thought today would be a laid back day doing little things around the house getting ready for the week ahead and maybe resting.

I woke from what should have been a good dream drenched in sweat and saddened— what was the dream? A friend gave me a hug. It’s been so long since someone I wasn’t related to gave me a hug that in the dream I started to cry.

And that made me wake up feeling isolated and alone.

And then my roomba tried to crawl under the bed and die— it was clogged up with so much cat hair the wheels and spinning parts had made thread out of it.

The cockatoo pooped on me. The parakeets flew out of their cage when I gave them food and water. The fluffy kittens are climbing curtains and managing to get to the top of the window molding to chase the budgies.

And now I need to take the fluffies to the vet to have them be given the all clear to be adopted. These are precious, cuddly kittens with gorgeous long hair and I fear that every day they are not listed on that web site is just detrimental to them.

So I started to cry.

I can’t even leave my bedroom until I get the parakeets safely in their cage but Boo-boo is being stubborn.

I have a headache because it’s past noon and I haven’t had any water or food yet today. a chicken finger basket from DQ would sure make my feel better but I lost four pounds with the new job and gained five this weekend.

So to distract myself, I want to tell you about podcasts.

The Actual Part that talks about Podcasts

Of course, the type of day it has been I totally forgot I had already started this blog post, and now I did it over. Sigh.

From my first attempt at this…At work, we are allowed to wear one earphone and listen to music or podcasts on our phones. In the first week, I just listened to the very random music on the speakers overhead in the warehouse.

Then I asked the teenager if I could borrow the generic AirPods she bought at the dollar store (if the kittens hadn’t eaten them). I also bought my own pair at the dollar store, so now I could experiment.

I signed up for every random podcast… after catching up with my friend William Prystauk’s podcast The Last Knock, once listed in Entertainment Weekly as one of the best horror movie podcasts out there.

I’ve rediscovered my old favorite Car Talk, which is always enjoyable regardless of your connection/experience with cars. My neighbor recommended some like The Indicator (snippets on economics) and Ted Talks Daily. The range of topics on both make it very thought provoking. Ted Talks allows me to be introspective and The Indicator gives me a chance to gain more insight into capitalist American society.

I’ve started following Netflix is a Joke because I love stand-ups comedians. I subscribed to the Daily Show with Trevor Noah because I am a huge Trevor Noah fan.

I rejected the Duncan Trussell Family Hour. I thought it would be fun since it’s new agey and edgy but the final straw was the opening song they wrote about life as an earbud singing about being thrust in the pubic hair of your ear. I also rejected Comedy Bang Bang, content and interviews were fine but it just seemed too long and not funny enough.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first episode of Seeking Witchcraft as they discussed Alex Crowley. I learned a lot and their broader discussion of building oneself and spirituality meant a lot to me.

My other favorites so far are American Innovations, where on a recent episode I learned about Alexander Graham Bell’s life and the science behind the telephone. I listened to several parts of the Do No Harm series which followed the plight of several families who wrongly had their children removed by the state.

Wondery has a magnificent program called This Imagined Life where they tell a second person account of a famous person’s life trying to get “you” to guess who “you” are. I learned about Jackie Robinson and Nora Ephron so far.

I still have many more to try, and if you have a recommendation let me know as I can listen about 7 hours a day.

Of mufflers and magic

The last few days have been emotional, challenging and at times full of mirth… so as expected, it is the full moon.

I attended a few trainings and meetings and will be (or was) on the county council meeting agenda to serve on the drug and alcohol task force. I also sat in on a meeting of the YWCA of Bethlehem’s Empowerment and Justice Committee.

Today was the first Friends of Pete mixer since the pandemic started!

But let me not get ahead of myself.

I did two loads of laundry, tended some pets, had coffee with a neighbor, vacuumed my room, tried to get information on my unemployment claim (tried two different agencies and could get through to neither), went for a walk with another neighbor… and learned some high school physics.

And then Sarah, my lead intern in the communications department at ASPIRE to Autonomy visited! It was our first in person meeting despite working virtually practically side by side since June.

She knows the delightful crazy in my house— the naughty cockatoo, the sibling grey cats, the visiting dogs, the foster kittens, marching band, teenagers 1 & 2, the blind poet friend, etc. She’s seen & heard a lot of silly and strange things via video chat.

And now she drove 90 miles to see the real thing. Maybe a should start my own reality television show… and then run for President.

Teenager #1 proclaimed that Sarah was “even prettier in real life.”

She tried to make friends with Nala, met lots of cats, and then I went to take her on a tour of my neighborhood.

And there was construction blocking on end of the street and no lie a MUFFLER and TAILPIPE at the other. To get out of my street, we had to move part of an exhaust system. To which Sarah merely said, “I am not even surprised.”

View from my garage

I drive her to the teenagers school, show her Easton Area High School (the size of which blew her mind), and (don’t judge) visited two Dunkin’ Donuts out of the six within 2.5 miles of my house. We only got drinks at one. Note: Sarah uses almond milk.

We drop the car off and take a walk around the neighborhood which she enjoys because she can’t go anywhere on foot at her house. And she asked a lot of good questions discovering the history of the Dixie cup along the way.

We return to the house because I told Sarah we were going to light a few candles. Apparently I had never mention to Sarah that I was an animist pagan (or in practical terms a witch).

Oops.

Luckily, she has a history as a Catholic and Catholics light as many candles, burn as much incense and if you consider a prayer a spell, then do as magic as witches do.

So around 4:15, we did a candle burning ritual to coincide with the 5:05 full moon. I gave teenager 1 a white candle to draw the positive light to us and keep our intentions pure. I gave teenager 2 a purple candle as I want her to draw peace, calm, and safety into her life. I gave Sarah a blue candle as her friend had cancer surgery today and we wanted to pray for her healing. My candle was green. I need money, a job or some sort of resources.

After Sarah’s first ritual, we left for the Friends of Pete mixer— the Pandemic Breakout Networking event— in downtown Easton. I also showed her my old office at ProJeCt of Easton and then we drove by the new office for ASPIRE.

I reconnected with some old acquaintances— including Gil Bean of InFlow Advisory and Pete Reinke. I met some new people and got to have drinks with my ASPIRE peers. And forgot to finish explaining to Amber, the co-founder of ASPIRE the difference between a Wiccan, a pagan and a witch.

I had a gin-elderberry-lime-berry cocktail and calamari at Ocean. I’d dined at all the other restaurants on the list so it was nice to finally try Ocean.

But let me back up and explain— Friends of Pete is a Lehigh Valley networking group that has a strong LinkedIn presence, a weekly Zoom check in and used to have monthly mixers.

It is how I met Darnell in August 2019.

And Sarah realized she’d been to Easton before— to visit The Crayola Factory. Which I had written the original press release when Binney & Smith first remodeled the old Orr’s store and launched that attraction more than 20 years ago.

Streaming TV: Coming of Age stories

I tend to watch TV while doing chores or when resting between fatiguing tasks. I often watch TV on my iPad when putting Nala (my Goffin’s cockatoo) to bed.

I recently finished The Crown on Netflix which fed my love of history to my writer’s mind. When I work with historical documents in my academic work, I often imagine the lives in the text.

Though I do find it… awkward that they made a television series about living royals. Then I realized— it’s Queen Elizabeth’s coming of age story.

I recently watched Free Form’s Motherland: Fort Salem, which is an alternative history, a coming of age story and in my opinion— a political drama. There are heavy ethical questions in every episode even if the plot lines seem predictably anti-cliche.

And I find it difficult to extend my “willing suspension of disbelief” to accept that witches would call a truce with the Church and State and would serve as a conscript military.

And the magic is better than Harry Potter, and the technical aspects of it are done off screen though I don’t like that the magic is mostly vocal.

But I’m very anxious to know what happens next.

Speaking of coming of age stories, I also watched the French film Mignonnes (Cuties) that is trending on Netflix. Of course, the mainstream American discussion focuses on the objectifying and sexualisation of young girls.

The main character (Ami/Aminata) is French of Muslim descent hailing from Senegal. So her grandparents and community elders speak Wolof and she is black.

Traditionally, Muslims came to France as part of the African colonial legacy. Muslims struggle with their identity and acceptance in France— regardless of racial background.

So I immediately saw how all the kids from the French projects bonded through dance even if that dance was suggestive. The fat French girl, the Latina French girl who ironed her hair, the blonde and white French girl, the black French girl and, yes, the African Muslim French girl.

This was a story of the universality or growing up in a technology rich world as a poor female. And trying to find your place and a way “out” of difficult socio-economic places.

A very different coming of age story— offering a very different time and place— was Crip Camp on Netflix. I notice Netflix documentaries made by Netflix are often merely interviews and footage randomly strung together and as such rather boring.

Finally, I’m dying to watch a final documentary, and to some Jersey kids of the 1980s it might also be a coming of age story, Class Action Park. It’s currently on HBOMax and I am considering getting a trial so I can watch it.

Action Park was an amusement park in New Jersey with such crazy rides no one would insure them. Some of my friends used to go. I vividly remember the commercials.

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.

Today’s walk

Walking takes on significance— as a journey to health, a method of transporting oneself from place to place, a time for reflection, an active meditation.

My friend, Tiff, the beautiful, otherworldly matriarch of La Familia whom we visited Friday night, (Blood Donation, KFC, and our favorite Familia) is celebrating her 25th Wedding Anniversary this summer.

Life threw a variety of curve balls their way, so the pilgrimage to Spain they had planned has now been reduced to a spiritual Facebook group who discuss their walks and their reflections.

I invited the teenager, my friend Gayle and my new friend from Georgia to join in the discussions and activities.

Today the teen wanted to explore Emmaus, and Gayle needed to walk as part of the virtual fundraiser for the Koman Foundation.

Because of the heat, the teen opted to walk in the woods— so we went to Alpine Street Park and took the Alpine Street Trail and walked about 6,000 steps and the equivalent of 15 flights of stairs.

The teenager gathered rocks from the creek. I think rocks are an important part of her spirituality and help ground her.

Gayle’s post on our walk: More Than Pink Hike

After the walk, the teen and I returned to Into the Myst in Downtown Bethlehem where she purchased her amulet.

I think the amethyst with calm her and the sterling silver moon and pentacle will protect her.

Living with a teenager can be exhausting, but seeing her now interpret the world in her own view is amazing.

What a lovely Saturday morning should be

I slept in today— until 8:15 a.m.—which is both good (I needed the rest) and bad (I made plans to meet a work colleague and fellow cat lover at Easton Farmer’s Market at 10 a.m.

The cockatoo completely ate the rest of my cork board (see Cockatoo Mischief) while we visited our favorite familia yesterday (see Visit with La Familia).

And a mysterious feline decided to deposit a hair ball on the couch on the sun porch. So I tried my best to clean everything up and I took down the cork boards only to also remove great portions of the paint. The teenager assured me we have the paint to touch it up.

Somehow we made it downtown on time— and met our friends. The teenager spent her birthday money on a strawberry plant and some pickles and stuffed olives.

I bought her breakfast at Pie + Tart (apple turnover for her and mini strawberry rhubarb pie for me) and beverages from Fieldstone Coffee Roasters (mango black tea for her and bubble tea for me— which the server gave me a yellow straw to match my yellow pants).

After saying goodbye to our friends, we strolled the downtown so the teenager could visit The Loving Peace. They did not have any supplies she needs.

The teenager then directed my attention to The Carmelcorn Shop. She let me have anything I wanted!

In this video we review our haul from The Carmelcorn Shop. The biggest surprise was, as the clerk recommended, the tootsie roll balls were amazing. I don’t even like tootsie rolls! Review of Candy Haul

Life is certainly sweet!

Cup of Hope

My former work colleague (a Target supervisor) had left her job at the Bullseye to pursue some personal dreams.

Shortly after, her middle child got diagnosed with a serious leukemia.

They were doing okay, as well as they could do with a very sick child, and the pandemic hit.

Her husband got furloughed and the unemployment didn’t kick in.

So, she started personalizing color-changing tumblers to make a little grocery money.

I gave the teenager one for band camp that says “low brass witch.” Mine is “Mama witch.” I gave it to her on her birthday.

She hasn’t set it down.

As the teenager finishes her sixteenth year…

The teenager was born at 1:34 a.m. on June 23, 2004. I was induced on Monday the 22nd. I remember it as a Monday because of the disappointment I felt as the clock struck midnight…

Why? you ask…

Well, Tuesday’s child is full of woe.

The French day, “I have XX years,” vs. “I am XX.” I am pondering that today because it really is more accurate.

When the teenager wakes up in the morning, she will have finished 16 years on this earth.

Doing silly things like this: Her cake topper (YouTube videos)

Her birthday started this weekend with a scavenger hunt at her dad’s and his homemade peanut butter bars. He invited me over to share in their celebration.

Today she spent the day with my father riding his Harley through the Pocono Mountains, eating pancakes and buying coffee from convenience stores.

And my mother-in-law asked what she wanted for her birthday. The teenager asked for a meatloaf.

Birthday Meatloaf

Well, if your in-laws are bringing a meatloaf, they might as well stay for dinner. And if the in-laws are here, you might as well invite the estranged husband.

And I had some “presents” for her. Unbeknownst to her, a bunch of her packages came today while she was gone.

Among the goodies: most of her Dress Lily order, her June Universal Yums box, and her “low brass witch” customized color-changing tumbler purchased to support my former Target colleague as her family dealt with Covid-related unemployment while their middle child (age six) is battling Leukemia.

More on all of these things another day, as I had a business meeting at eight p.m. and I took a long walk in today’s heat with Nala on my shoulder. She did well,

Wednesday Update With Mundane and Animal News

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

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

Nala grooming me

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

“Keep Going” Amulet

This is Me

First of all, let me put out there that I am not as confident as I appear in that photo. I’m almost 45. I have stretch marks, muffin top and I’ve never been stick thin (well, except for that summer I lost 30 pounds) but I’ve always tried to be healthy and strong.

I’ve had a baby. I’ve broken bones. I’ve struggled with anemia, cerebral palsy and on occasion anxiety. I’ve had great jobs I didn’t want to leave (ever) and bad jobs that I didn’t want to go to.

But like many of you, I keep going. I have shiny happy days, sleepy days, down days, days I just don’t want to end and days when I cry myself to sleep.

Today I chose this outfit as my warrior’s attire. I got the shirt and the necklace from The Attic in Bethlehem and let me tell you— I never would have bought this shirt if not for the state lockdown/pandemic.

I would have said, ‘hell, no, that’s way too skimpy.’

And left that shirt on the rack. But it looked so damn cute on the mannequin— which I think that mannequin has bigger boobs that me. No, wait. That shirt clearly looks tiny on the mannequin and my boobs are bigger.

Who wore it best?

But I decided to wear that shirt and I consider it a pledge of confidence to myself. NOTHING will intimidate me today. NO ONE will change how I feel about myself.

And I am adorable.

And to make it even more powerful, I wore my circle necklace also from The Attic. I have christened it my “keep going” amulet, because circles are round. They roll. They keep going. And this one is glittery and clear. Clear quartz is the stone used to purify things and recharge them.

Although it’s not quartz, it has a shine like quartz so I will use this necklace to remind me to keep going and keep my thoughts free of negative vibes.

New beginnings

Now bare with me for one more topic, I’m a little superstitious and as you can see I’m almost done with my journal. New chapters always begin at the end of my journal.

I’ve been working with Aspire for Autonomy for work, and I’ve been striking up some personal conversation with Darnell about helping with his organization. I’m impressed with his energy and hope to learn more about their goals.