Some of this might be repeat for my regular followers, but I thought it would be nice to compile some of the animal news here.
Lord knows happy pet news can be beneficial to everyone’s spirits.
Opie and Oz, our two male tiger stripe cats, both turned 9 this month. Nine! The teenager and I raised Oz—the big, dumb, cuddly teddy bear—from a three-month-old kitten rescued from the local animal shelter.
The teenager, then turning seven, wanted an older pug but her father said no dogs and certainly not a pug. So we explored the kittens, basically because my husband trusted me more raising cats.
Oz was one of several kittens from a litter the animal shelter named after Pepsi products and his original name was Dasani. Oz was the tiniest kitten with the biggest damn paws. He grew into a big cat, with an even bigger docile personality.
The teenager named him after The Wizard of Oz but also after Scott Green’s werewolf character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then her favorite TV show.
I made the decision to put Oz down when he was three because he had recurring urinary crystals and we couldn’t afford the $1000+ surgery he needed to flush the crystals out of his urethra or the even more expensive surgery to cut off his penis and make him a bigger hole to pee from so he could pass future crystals.
Luckily, the veterinary practice had a young vet who had never performed the surgery and offered to use him as a test case for $600. At that point, that is what I was almost spending to put him down. I think it was $200 more expensive that killing him. So I took the deal.
That’s why Oz can only eat wet food.
And Oz had a fear of drinking water— because he associated it with the pain of passing the crystals when he urinated.
He has since learned to drink lots of water.
But he still has an obsessive desire to eat kibble.
Opie, our other male cat, is a major badass. Super loyal. Super cat-like. Some cats act more like stereotypical cats that others. Opie is pure feline.
In addition to a birthday this month, Opie also celebrates the one year anniversary of his leg amputation. Opie is a kitty cat bone cancer survivor.
We took Opie in when he was seven months old after friends rescued him from a feral mama. They had planned to keep him but their other cats picked on him.
Oz was still a kitten at the time and the two got along beautifully and look very similar.
Opie was our head mouser, but the kittens might give him a challenge.
Misty was the first of three kittens my daughter trapped between late December and late January. They were born probably in late October under my neighbor’s porch.
Misty was the runt. When the others went out to hunt with Mama, he stayed behind.
My daughter worked very hard to tame him and earn his trust.
We trapped the kitten that later got naked Smoky next. The neighbor named it. And it found a good home. But now a theme was developing.
Fog was the last one trapped. I named her to fit the theme. She was on her own for about two weeks after Smoky. She would reach into the trap from the side, slip her paw into the food and ladle it out of the trap lick by lick.
When we reunited her with her brother, my heart melted and I couldn’t give her up.
The Budgies: Boo, Wink and Yo
Peek-a-Boo (Boo-boo), so named because she was so spastic when she came home we thought she had a hurt wing, is the dominant bird in the group. And the fattest. She is pure yellow.
The teenager bought her and Periwinkle (Wink) for me as a Christmas present. Wink is the pale blue bird and the most skittish of the group. She and Boo were bonded from the pet store.
I added Yo-Yo (Yo) to the group last fall because I really wanted a traditional green parakeet and to add a male. He is vivid green with some yellow and this amazing navy blue tail.
The teenager made a lot of progress hand-feeding them but hasn’t maintained the training.
And that leaves… Nala.
Nala is a four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo with a lot of attitude. I have no large bird experience but she took to me. We brought her home in early January.
She can be very obstinate, which is very common in cockatoos, but we are progressing well.
In the beginning, toweling too often became necessary to keep her from being too aggressive but now that we have learned more about each other it is easier for me to work with her and I can often get her to do something she really doesn’t think is fair— like go to bed—without even threatening to towel her.
It helps that I finally found a treat she can’t resist. She turns her nose up at everything.
She’s displaying a new behavior that I call the “step up” noise and she uses it when she wants to confirm my step up command or is asking me to come get her or sometimes as a demand, like when I won’t let her have my coffee.
It’s Saturday morning. A time when my blog entries normally focus on my birds flying around my room, cuddling kittens and sipping coffee in bed trying to forget the stress of the week.
The vernal equinox came and went and I didn’t even acknowledge it.
My normal two-week schedule at the office is 75 hours as a salaried development officer in a human services non-profit. I worked 86 and am trying not to add more hours this weekend.
Our CEO made the decision to close our buildings completely for the next week, assuming our facilities have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. So we will be working from home.
I love working from home, so that’s not an issue for me.
And in general, the pandemic brings me a sense of calm. The empathetic side of me relishes the slow down of the world. It brings me peace.
The only real worry I have right now is my right foot. I thought I had a splinter. My daughter, whose eyesight is way better than mine, assured me no. But it still hurts, and I think it’s been almost 2 weeks. And the ball of my foot is painful and swollen.
I started soaking it in Epsom salts and in my impatience this morning, I clumsily lanced it and am soaking it again. I still believe something is in there and will cause an infection if I’m not prudent.
Bandage and betadine next.
Of course I have helpers.
But they have gone on to do their own thing…
Hard to believe these guys were feral.
The first Pennsylvania death from the Coronavirus happened in the hospital where my daughter and her father were born. Cases are now here in our county. And all of the neighboring counties.
I urge you all to remember that every time you come in contact with anyone, you are also being exposed to everyone they have been near.
I know I am healthy. I know I am not in a high risk group. But I don’t want to carry this illness to anyone I care about. I don’t want to be the reason someone else dies.
I don’t want to see the economy and our quality of life degrade to the level of some dystopian fantasy novel.
That will happen soon enough because of overpopulation and global warming.
Overpopulation and Global Warming.
Let that sink in.
So, I downloaded the list of life sustaining businesses allowed to be open at this time. Beer distributors and Wawa made the cut.
Target made the cut. (They have groceries, health items and CVS pharmacies.) But I hear from my former Target colleagues that families are treating it like an outing and bringing the whole gang. People are shopping for bikinis.
This is a brief entry about my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo with an attitude, Nala. She adores me, but tends to be a tad, um, bitchy with anyone else.
I’ve been very impressed with how she’s adapted both to a new life and a new routine in my crazy menagerie/train station of a house.
I brought her home in early January and have no experience with parrots and barely any experience with birds.
During the last few days I’ve noticed a change in her vocabulary. She already knew what sounds like “Mommy” when I got her—said only when leave the room.
She also learned very quickly to return my kisses with her only little kissy noises.
But now she seems to have learned “step up.” It sounds like what I can only describe as a bird hiccough in two syllables mimicking the phrase. But she says it when she wants me or after I ask her to step up and she’s not sure if she wants to.
So this is an exciting development.
She can also hold her own very well against our once feral kittens.
March was shaping up to be an exhausting month at work before it even started because of all the grants I had to finish— I forget how many so we’ll round to ten. And a couple needed reports.
Then we added a couple last minute important government opportunities and dealt with some EITC issues… if you don’t know what EITC is don’t worry about it, it’s a Pennsylvania tax program for corporations that benefits education.
And then we hit the state emergency of Corona virus/COVID-19 shutdown.
My employer has the largest full-choice food pantry in the County and we serve hundreds of households every month. We educated about a hundred people daily in our classrooms. We serve students in the schools. Provide assistance to walk-ins, existing clients and referrals.
So this has changed everything. The CEO is scrambling. Meetings are going virtual. Our educators are looking at distance learning. Our food pantry staff and volunteers are bagging food instead of letting clients shop.
And now we need to design a schedule and a work plan to use our homes as offices.
Ideally, we no more than 3 people in our admin building at a time. (There are only six of us.)
Tomorrow I have to take the old MacBook Air into the office and hope I can get it to connect to the remote server. Otherwise, I am not allowed to work from home.
And I forgot my journal on my desk, and my planner, but my planner I can survive without. But my journal? Noooooooo!
Every morning, I get up, pour a cup of mostly decaf coffee and write in my journal while the cats eat. Not having this ritual will be upsetting.
To lighten the mood, here is a cat photo from the freshly cleaned room of the teenager:
And an unboxing of this months treats— a Universal Yums box from Brazil (featuring Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo):
My mom and I went to Grocery Outlet because I wanted some fresh produce. Got blood oranges, spaghetti squash, cabbage, potatoes, radishes, and fresh Brussel sprouts. I was looking for items that would store nicely if something does confine us with COVID-19.
When I got home, the teenager helped me dig a splinter out of my foot and treat it with betadine.
We did two loads of laundry and the teen taught the budgies to hand feed.
We stripped and made both our beds— which ended up with some Oz antics.
And I made two delicious meals for myself prior to my fasting bloodwork tomorrow: leftover sesame chicken with pan-seared Brussel sprouts seasoned with four color peppercorns and tofu burger on whole grain wheat with avocado, sautéed radish and dill havarti cheese.
Of course, the afternoon led to some discussions among my neighbors of whether or not Coronavirus is worse than the normal flu. Does it matter? Flu outbreaks have killed people at fairly regular intervals. I’m not concerned that I will die from it, but I am concerned that I could help spread it if I’m not careful.
The neighbor we went to dinner last night spent the evening playing Yahtzee with another neighbor whose son just came home from college. The son woke up with a 102 degree fever today coughing. And his lab partner just got home from Germany.
And there’s a presumptive positive case in the next town over where my in-laws live. So it’s coming.
And I’m not an alarmist or panic-stricken but I agree that we all should be limiting our interactions. The more careful we are now, hopefully we can minimize the impact on our community and our economy.