The Greek Pride two weeks in

The teenager and I are fostering a batch of feral kittens for FURR, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. They need socialization before they can find forever homes and they are too young and friendly (4 months) to be candidates for Trap, Neuter, and Return/release.

Today marks two weeks since our Greek Pride entered our home— we named the kittens after Greek Gods: Apollo, Artemis, Hades, Hermes and Zeus.

Week one was rather hectic because they are passing around an eye infection and sneezing, and while trying to medicate them I got bit and required a 4-day, 3-night hospital stay.

And upon discharge, the kittens and I were all taking amoxicillin.

Cat bites— and in my case, one tooth from one 3-pound kitten punctured my finger and forced bacteria into my tendon sheath (I think that is what the doctor said)— have a 50% chance of infection, even if they are your pets and have been a part of your household for years, versus a dog bite which stands at 5-10%.

Luckily cats don’t usually bite. I was poking one in the eye and restraining its claws when it bit me.

I was applying eye cream.

With all the antibiotics and eye cream I’ve put on this crew— with the teenager’s help—trust building has been a back and forth process.

Here are some photos from this morning’s breakfast:

They have their own page on my site here: The Greek Pride

I uploaded a lot of YouTube videos today, including a real appearance of Hades, the black cat. This is the whole playlist: Greek Pride YouTube playlist.

Animals and astrology

Today was hard. In ways I didn’t expect.

It didn’t start that way as it started with all five FURR kittens from the Greek Pride coming to eat at the same time!!!

Starting with the black cat and moving clockwise: Hades, Apollo (you can’t see his head), Zeus, Hermes (not quite at the bowl) and Artemis

That was super exciting as the exclamation points denote.

I indulged in the self-care that usually helps, but instead I feel worse. Went for a walk. Still in a bad mood. But Sobaka followed me home and refused to leave my side.

So I indulged in stress eating, and that didn’t help.

My horoscope didn’t help as several different astrology sites, including my favorite astrology app Co-Star, warned me things wouldn’t be easy.

Of course, there has to be a reference to Fire/Mars. A friend I recently alienated is a Fire sign and oh so Mars.

So I tried retail therapy— and this was a totally stupid move because:

  1. I don’t have any income right now and my savings will only cover two months living expenses.
  2. I paused my Ipsy subscription yet I ordered cosmetics.
  3. I not only ordered cosmetics but I ordered Goth cosmetics so I’m probably not going to be able to pull off the look.

But in my defense, I ordered $60 worth of cosmetics, but found a 20% off discount code, and paid $5 shipping for a total of about $55. And I qualified for a $5 American Express statement credit for supporting small business.

I sent the teenager this photo to select a red lipstick for herself

That merely made me feel guilty.

And, as my last effort to revive my spirits, I walked down to Darnell’s house for a business meeting— both for Thrive Public Relations and for Aspire to Autonomy.

I brought the teenager along to meet The Household Dog.

Here is the two of them: The teenager and Baby Boy (video)

The energy of working with Darnell, Amber and Melanie (all members of the Aspire team) revived my energy. Darnell even invited me to stay for a fish sandwich but the teenager needed me to come home and med the kittens of our pride.

Then, she left for her dad’s and I came upstairs to share dinner with my cockatoo, Nala. She was super bratty and bitey so I put her on the floor. I was losing my temper.

And she walked to the budgie cage. Climbed it. Pulled out the newspaper on the bottom of the cage…

And pooped!

I’m about to continue on with my evening, but I had to give the animals credit for making me smile.

Quiet moment

Can a day or a week be hectic and full of emptiness at the same time?

Of course it can. I certainly know that.

I’ve spent the last couple days balancing household chores, some obligations I volunteered to do, medical appointments and animals.

I really want a beer or a glass of wine.

I’m technically overweight now — my BMI is 25

But I am pleased with some of the progress I made on projects, primarily submitting an idea for a virtual book fair fundraiser for Mary Meuser Memorial Library (which the committee has responded very favorably to) and sorting through some old little girls’ clothes from the attic.

So in the midst of everything I noticed my front garden is a mass of nettles.

I pulled a bunch of weeds when I got home from the hospital but they grow faster than I can yank them out.

But then I saw this:

One of my roses

My roses need to be trimmed. Another casualty of my hospital stay. But I needed this glimpse of beauty.

And I cherish it.

In other news, I tried a stroopwaffel from Lidl. They were impressively gooey even without the obligatory coffee to warm the caramel inside.

More grocery outlet goodies

Goodie Girl Birthday Cake Gluten Free Cookies: These taste like golden Oreos.

Cajun Gator Dill Potato Chips: These were delicious — very dill. Similar to dill pickle potato chips but more interesting.

Naked Pina Colada: I expected this to be very pineapple and very coconut, but the coconut comes from coconut milk. So that was a pleasant surprise. And it had a heavy banana flavor which made it refreshing.

Puffins Protein Berry Burst: This was like plain Kix and Berry Berry Kix but for grown-ups. Very nice indeed.

The disappointing nature of the human race

The pandemic. Unemployment. And a host of social issues that start with our federal government and cascade down to our neighborhoods.

It sounds like I have a bowling alley above my kitchen, and the teenager’s bedroom smells like an animal shelter— both due to the five kittens we are fostering on behalf of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. (See their web site here.)

Our Artemis might be listed for adoption soon.

One of my peers working with FURR posted to Facebook this morning about some of the new additions to the FURR family— including two adult, declawed cats left behind when their owners moved.

It always irks me when people desert their pets when they move, and it’s bad enough when they take their pets to the animal shelter, but to just leave cats to fend for themselves… well, that is a not-nice human being.

And to find out these cats were declawed tells me the owners invested in these animals at some point probably to protect their furniture annoys me even more.

Declawing, in my opinion, is a cruel surgery. And to do that to your cat and then not even bother to take it with you when you move… I can’t even fathom!

But then I’m the one that not only took in five kittens to help get them ready for homes, but keeps working to socialize the one that bit me and sent to to the hospital for a lovely 4-day, 3-night spa vacation.

I even made sure the kitten that bit me got her next dose of medicine before I went to the ER.

Speaking of which, my family doctor is very happy with the care I received and as of 10 a.m. this morning, the infamous cat bite looks like this:

Rant over.

If you bring a pet into your home or feed a stray, be ready for the responsibility of that animal’s life.

The eye of Apollo

The latest in the saga of our foster kittens, the Greek Pride

So last night we received a new tube of antibiotic eye cream and some amoxicillin for the kittens.

Some of them were coughing and poor Apollo was coughing hard. And his eye was swollen.

Tonight the teenager and I went to feed and med everyone and Apollo’s eye wouldn’t even open. Then he sneezed and got a nose bleed. I never saw a kitten with a nosebleed before.

We were amazed at how peacefully he (we think he—our record at gendering these kittens is subpar at best) allowed us to clean his eyes and nose and feed him antibiotics.

Then he hung out at my feet and let me pet him.

Video of me petting Apollo: Apollo at my feet

Video of Apollo sleeping in the teenager’s arms

Greek Pride surprises

Well, if you know our Greek Pride kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, you know that our flagship kitten, the ringleader, the lover… Artemis… went in to be fixed last night so we could get her onto the web site for adoption.

Surprise #1: Artemis is a male. The teenager reminded me that I thought I saw a penis on that cat, or more accurately that I thought I saw the angle of hole for a penis to come out.

Regardless, Artemis is adorable.

Artemis
Artemis

Surprise #2: Artemis has what I called a “cloudy eye.” The vet said it’s a birth defect that can’t be treated. The retina and the iris are attached. It looks like a cataract.

Surprise #3: The vet had several emergencies pop up— apparently some dogs were fighting—so little Artemis didn’t get home until 1 a.m.

On the way home, we met deer in the middle of the road in two separate places and my daughter and I were trying to imagine telling the insurance company that I wrecked the car bringing the cat home from the vet at 1-something in the morning. But we did not hit any deer.

The teenager thought it might be best to sequester Artemis from his siblings until morning. The teen is already camped out on my bedroom floor to capitalize on my air conditioner so why not have Artemis join us?

By 4 a.m. he wouldn’t stop crying. He missed his siblings. So, I suppose our next job is to get him used to being without them. Perhaps it is time to let him explore the house.

Surprise #4: Apollo and Hermes have a cough. Apollo’s eye is still infected. That’s why they didn’t get neutered last night. The vet gave them antibiotics— amoxycillin. One of the drugs I was recently on. I suppose that makes sense as we all have the same infection.

And finally not a surprise… Hades will show her face more but she will not be grabbed, scruffed or cornered. Hopefully we can win her over or she’ll be someone’s barn cat.

Zeus

Manic Monday … Nan and Angel style

Second week of Band Camp for the teenager and somehow I not only volunteered to drive her and the marching baritone to the high school but I also conned my good friend Nan, my crazy blind compatriot, into breakfast before our regular work session.

So I got up at 7:10 a.m., after the teenager did all the work with the menagerie, slapped on some clothes, took my last antibiotic and headed out the door by 7:40 a.m.

The routine with Nan is simple, yet deliciously complex, I pick her up and we drive to a shady spot in the parking lot of her apartment building to peruse coupons and loyalty deals on the various apps.

Now, Nan loves chai. We both love food, the worse for our health, the better. Okay perhaps that is a joke. Maybe. It’s free coffee Monday at Dunkin. And we have coupons for $2 off a breakfast combo at Wendy’s.

I plot a plan.

I really want to try the chicken biscuit at Wendy’s. Nan and I know we love the seasoned breakfast potatoes at Wendy’s.

So, our first stop was Wendy’s. We ordered a chicken biscuit with honey butter combo, making the potatoes a medium (which honestly was too many potatoes even for the two of us) and an unsweetened iced tea. The bill was $3.70. I had $3 cash and Nan had the 70 cents.

Now, I know, that’s only breakfast for 1 person. We then headed to Dunkin for my free medium iced coffee and to see if they still have chai— you see they took it off the menu.

We got the iced tea in case Dunkin really didn’t have chai.

I used the Dunkin mobile app to order the 2 for $3 sausage-egg-and-cheese wraps because Nan likes them. They are easy to eat in the car. And then I could get my free coffee. So that was $3.18. We saved the last egg wrap for the teenager.

Then at the speaker of the drove-thru we asked if they still had the chai, and they did. We ordered a medium hot chai and a cup with ice so I could ice it for Nan. That cost $3.79, as they had to charge us for the second cup.

They total for all the food was about $11 and we had breakfast for three people.

I loved the chicken biscuit with honey butter.

Phase One of our morning complete. Nan and I returned to my house to submit some essays and strategize future creative endeavors.

And then our friend Joan joins us. Neither one of us has seen Joan in a decade. Joan is another wickedly smart and multi-talented woman, dabbling and exploring the so many ways to express the beauty of this world: short stories, photography and music.

Joan, Nan and I all met as members of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group when the teenager was still “the baby.”

A lot of my good friends came from that group.

Angel, Nala, Misty

And Joan also brought the sweetest, ripest smelling melon I have held in my arms in months. Did she notice how much fresh fruit cup I ate in the hospital?

The teenager came home for lunch break (from band camp), Joan departed and we crated our three male fosters for neutering tonight. Except Zeus looks like a girl now.

Apollo

Apollo and Hermes both still have infected eyes and coughs so we were told to bring Artemis instead since she was ready for a forever home.

I went into the teenager’s room and Hermes had escaped his crate!

I let Apollo out, and cleaned cat boxes while on hold with Capital One Auto Financing to finish my application to refinance the last 40 months of my auto loan and drop $50/month from my payment without extending the life of the loan. I owe $7,690 and some odd cents.

With my auto loan approved, I slipped sweet little Artemis into the crate. Remember if she charms you, you can apply to adopt her through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Artemis purring

On the way to Artemis’ rendezvous point, I received a phone call from Capital Blue Cross, my medical insurer. This was my second medical phone call of the day as the hand specialist overseeing my case called me to request a follow-up even though my hospital discharge instructions said I only needed to see my family physician at Medical Associates of Bethlehem.

I have that appointment scheduled for Wednesday, and now the hand specialist for the following Monday. On the phone was my case manager from the insurance company. She sounded pleased that I was healing well and on top of everything. She will call again next Tuesday.

Upon delivering Artemis and retrieving the teenager, we came home and I finally had Brussel sprouts. When I was admitted to the hospital last week I had missed them by a couple hours as part of the Monday lunch special.

Aspire featured on Lehigh Valley with Love

I’m very excited to announce that my dear friend and colleague, Darnell Davis, from Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., “appeared” on George Wacker’s Lehigh Valley with Love.

Episode 113: Lehigh Valley with Love Podcast

George and I worked together at Lehigh Valley News Group in 2006, when he served as editor of the E… oh dear me I am old and senile… I know it was East Penn/Emmaus area, but I can’t remember what the newspaper’s name was… East Penn News sounds right because each paper was named after the school district and it’s the East Penn School District and Emmaus High School.

Sorry to babble like that but it was almost 15 years ago. My teenager was younger than his daughter is now.

I served as managing editor when those papers launched and George always had a certainty creativity and a penchant for thinking outside the box. We had a weekly entertainment column shared by all six of our papers and if I remember correctly George pitched most of our concepts.

So I was not surprised when George developed his own media company and that he’s scooped the main media outlets in town and created some phenomena— google “Lehigh Valley Snow Camel” and know that George broke that story.

Now, like George, Darnell has a big creative energy, vivacious speech, and will not shy away from what needs to be said.

So I wanted to get these two together. And George put a call out for potential guests on his podcast.

Today George shared with me the link for that final podcast. And I’ve very excited to share it. The content may get heavy at times but these guys kept the conversation going in a natural organic manner.

They reference some of the Valley’s food— I won’t spoil it here. But when it comes to cheesesteaks I vote for Joe’s Steak Shop in Phillipsburg and hot dogs would have to be from outside the Lehigh Valley and go with Hot Dog Johnny’s in Belvidere, N.J. A few years ago it would have had to be Charlie’s Pool Room in Alpha, N.J.

Hospital “jet lag”

I don’t feel like writing right now. I don’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping.

No one prepared me for how weird it would be to transition back into everyday life after 72 hours plus in the hospital.

It’s a lot like jet lag for similar reasons— your sleep schedule is screwed up and your routine in general is topsy turvy.

And I had neither major illness nor invasive procedures.

I got home on Thursday a little after 11 a.m. The cats were aloof but Nala was glad to see me.

I took one of the longest showers I’ve ever taken in my life. And I put on a pretty dress, just because I could.

And when I got out of the shower I discovered a text that alerted me to a cake on my porch.

The best baker in the neighborhood made me this coffee cake

I immediately texted my neighbor in the other half of my house and asked if she wanted to have coffee and I would bring cake.

Knowing I haven’t had decent coffee since the previous weekend, she started a pot immediately.

I left from there to go meet my daughter at the high school and help her carry her marching baritone home.

This is where I have to give my daughter all the props. Monday was her first day of high school band camp. If you don’t already know this about the teenager, she is in her fourth year of playing low brass in marching band.

So when I wandered off to the ER at 6-ish a.m. Monday morning, and was texting her “I’m not coming home.” Well, first she thought I was dying and then she suddenly became responsible for her own meals, her own laundry, and the care of 3 parakeets, 1 cockatoo who won’t go to sleep without someone in the room, our four cats and five foster kittens.

And we had a tropical storm.

And she handled it all.

Our neighbors offered an amazing support network, as did my friends, especially Gayle who brought me t-shirts so I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown.

I took several walks that first day home, including one for my medicine at CVS. I was ecstatic to see I only had a few days of Augmentin to take.

And the hand has improved every day.

Wound: about 10 a.m., August 8

My dad and stepmom came down to visit and take us to dinner at Three Mugs Pub. That almost made me cry because on Wednesday, after the doctor told me he couldn’t discharge me yet, all I could think of was a Shruty’s burger at Three Mugs Pub.

One of the best burgers around

When Three Mugs Pub was still Shruty’s, my husband and I were the first people to order the Shruty’s burger when they debuted it. It’s a really good burger topped with pepper jack cheese, shrings (tempura battered deep fried banana pepper rings) and Texas petal sauce.

In my opinion, this burger is one of the best in the Lehigh Valley, on par with the much pricier peanut butter bacon burger at Two Rivers Brewing, another favorite of mine.

And I had a Guinness to celebrate my arrival home.

They had a new appetizer on the menu— a hot buffalo chicken dip. We tried that too.

The teenager declared it her new favorite chicken dip, better than her father’s. I respectfully disagree. Her father’s is extremely good. I prefer it.

After that meal I slept 10 hours.

Now, on Friday, yesterday, everyone kept contacting me or stopping me to ask how I was doing and then Darnell stopped by to inform me of all the things that had happened while I was gone.

And everyone wanted a piece of the coffee cake Janie made me.

I shared.

And then my neighbor Jan let me watch a movie at her house, cuddling with her dog, and she even gave the teenager and I a bag of brownie M&M’s. The teenager thought they “just tasted like M&M’s” whereas I thought if you piled enough of them in your mouth at once it was like having a mouthful of brownie batter.

Not that I’ve ever eaten a bowl of brownie batter.

Or an entire pint of ice cream with brownie bits.

And then I slept 10 hours again.

I rolled out of bed a little after 8, expecting to have the last slice of Janie’s decadent coffee cake, after all, I need the food to take my antibiotics.

But then my mom told me she was bringing sticky buns.

So I made my morning coffee and as the espresso machine started steaming, I got on the scale.

I’ve gained two pounds since I got home from the hospital.

Saturday breakfast from Mimi

Lunch was a business mixer with the Easton chapter of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club at Sogo Asian Fusion in the downtown.

A random young black women yelled at us from her car, “You guys look so pretty.” So I asked the teenager to take some selfies before our arrival. The teenager had just given me a haircut. I thought my hair looked untamed because of my hospital stay. I was wrong.

That random compliment from a stranger meant a lot to me as I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.

The teenager and I had the Out of Control roll, Fire Mountain (with scallops! and it really was a mountain, and it was so amazing) and a Philadelphia roll. The teenager squealed with delight and the staff at Sogo gave me the rubber-banded chopsticks because I was using a fork.

I guess the teenager will have to teach me to use chopsticks.

The remainder of my afternoon was spent cleaning, walking with my neighbor, and trying to earn the trust of our foster kittens.

YouTube playlist of our foster kittens

And now, I’m feeling a little nauseous and I wonder if it’s because of all these penicillin-family antibiotics in my system and the fact that I had so much more water in my system in the hospital. Every time I had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics in the hospital, they increased my IV fluids. So I’m trying to drink more here at home.

And a few minutes ago, my mom texted. She got bit by a friend’s cat today.