Pets, vaccines and other ruminations

I started this blog entry in the middle of the night as I often do, thinking I would lead about how I think we should be more like my cancer-surviving three-legged senior cat, Opie. He’s calm, brave and steadfast. He doesn’t scream for breakfast like the impatient cats. And he holds his ground with the 50-pound puppy. He doesn’t even look concerned when she swats at him like she’s an overgrown kitten.

But then several of my cats— three out of four including Opie— decided to get me out of bed before my alarm. And Opie was uncharacteristically naughty.

I think they decided they didn’t want to wait for breakfast anymore.

My estranged husband still works for Lafayette College and they had a vaccination clinic scheduled on campus today. Spouses were eligible so he arranged an appointment for me.

I have strong opinions about the pandemic, my Covid experience and the vaccines, but I recognize that our government, other countries and probably employers will require vaccines for travel, work and life in general. So I just want to get it over with.

After cuddling with Louise, our latest FURR foster, I went to bed and slept very restlessly. One of my work colleagues got her second dose of the Moderna vaccine yesterday and I watched her develop more symptoms as the shift continued. My empathy went out, remembering my own struggles to work with the initial phases of Covid.

Speaking of life at the Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix warehouse, I did about one-third of my shift in pick and the rest of my night in QC. By my estimation, I nailed my partial pick metric. They also returned the timer to the cart. In QC, I managed 67 fixes. That’s about 84%.

And we had mini bundt cakes.

So after spending more of my night than I’d like to listening to news about the pandemic and the economy and the issues in Europe and AstraZeneca, I wake up to an email that my vaccine appointment has been canceled.

The FDA and the CDC have warned that the same blood clot risks that exist with the AstraZeneca vaccine exist with Johnson & Johnson.

And briefly, the dog keeps trying to eat some crazy stuff and I finally did some grocery shopping at Lidl with my good friend Nan. Nan, as a blind person, enjoys grocery shopping with me. After shopping, we ate pastry we bought at Lidl in the parking lot of Dunkin.

Conversations with Louise

As my latest blog entry will detail, we have a new guest in our house, Louise the Foster Cat, a rescue available through FURR. She recently came to FURR as a mysterious stray with a leg injury that resulted in an amputation.

She’s enjoying her convalescence with us, and at night (when I return from work) we have long conversations as I try to gain her trust.

I snuggle down on the floor beside her and ask her about her day.

Me: What did you do tonight?

Louise: I slept in my basket under the bed and once night fell and the house quieted down I got a drink of water and slept behind the curtain.

Me: That sounds pleasant. I did my normal thing in the warehouse but man my body hurts tonight. I didn’t know if I was going to make it through the shift. Emotionally I had a lot on my mind.

Louise: They cut off my leg and keep shuffling me from place to place. And your house is nuts! So many noises and creatures. Can you scratch my neck? It’s really itchy and I do like attention. It’s just your house is scary. People in and out of this room. And this thing under the bed chased me.

Me: Sorry about that. That was the Roomba. It keeps the floor clean. I didn’t intend to vacuum until you got settled but somehow it got set off. You’re doing really well with your balance. You’re right. I should be more grateful. Can I get you some food?

Louise: I don’t like the wet stuff but kibble would be nice.

Me: Do you mind if I sit next to you and have some homemade Easter chocolate?

Louise: Not at all. But try not to be spastic. I need some calm in my life.

Me: Sounds like good advice, Louise.

Saturday Animal Adventures, part two: new arrival

Last night I got a text from my foster godmother asking if we could take a special needs cat Louise who needed some time and some love to not only overcome shyness but also to convalescence.

You see, our new foster cat is a friendly stray who had a leg injury that looked like it might have come from being hit by a car. The vet had to amputate her leg last month (almost exactly a month ago). And it’s the same leg our Opie lost to cancer!

I picked her up this afternoon and she is a gentle beauty. So soft!

I allowed Opie to be in my room when we opened her crate hoping that seeing another three-legged cat might give her some self-confidence. It certainly might if she ever sees Opie stand up to our 50-pound puppy.

I also decided to sort and put away my laundry with her present so she could see me move around my room without looking at her specifically. She did make eyes to everyone as a hello before hiding under my bed.

I filmed some first day videos, they are rather boring but serve as a nice “This is where we started” marker. To see Louise’s YouTube playlist, click here.


PS — Teenager #1 had another shift at Tic Toc Family Restaurant today so teenager #2 and I made plans to have a dinner date at the diner. But when Bean the giant puppy ate her glasses, Teenager #2 spent the day with her mom at the mall and couldn’t make it back in time. So, I dined solo.

Speaking of Bean the Dog, a funny thing happened when Bean, her lead, the hammock and I got twisted up. I fell, as I often do, and landed on concrete and mud. My new Democracy Jeans are now literally dirty.

I expect my right palm and the outside of my left upper thigh will be very bruised tomorrow and I have a pretty interesting scrape extending about four inches down my left wrist.

Teenager #1 and I said earlier that today was canceled— maybe we should have listened to our own idea.

But, the good news is, I let the teen pick my meal once I selected the macaroni and cheese special. She delivered the pasta, potato salad, cucumber salad and French fries.

Dinner at Tic Toc

I am always impressed by the playing at the restaurant. The sprinkles of dried herb really make the dish look vibrant. The macaroni and cheese had a smooth hearty texture (I could only eat half of it). The cheese mix was not as exotic as I make at home, but not as creamy and Velveeta-y artificial as a place like Wawa.

I loved the cucumber salad. Crispy. Tangy. Wet but not soggy.

And the potato salad… Not bad. I am not a fan of the yellow potato salads. When I tasted this, the initial flavor was overwhelmingly sweet, which is odd. It quickly mellowed on my tongue and I enjoyed what appeared to be peppers and carrots in the mix.

The more I eat at Tic Toc, the more I marvel at the value for the price.

Saturday Animal Adventures, part 1: Deliveries

My volunteer efforts these days focus on animals instead of people, primarily as a foster family for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. You can visit their website here: http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

We have fostered three litters of kittens in the last nine months, all named after various pantheons of gods: The Greek Pride, The Roman Pride and The Norse Pride.

At 10 a.m. this morning, which is rather early when you get to bed at 2 a.m. after clocking out of work at midnight, teenager #1 and I had an appointment to meet a fellow FURR volunteer at the Petco where Mars and Minerva are in residence awaiting FURRever homes. Today, we wanted to reunite Jupiter with his siblings.

Crating Jupiter did not go as easily as anticipated, the teenager couldn’t find her shoes, we forgot Jupiter’s folder and we missed some of the turns for the store. But we arrived and now the Roman Pride is together again, except for Vesta who is now known as Paisley in her new home.

Jupiter reuniting with siblings, video here.

We left Petco, and retrieved the missing folder. But before returning to Petco we had to catch the baby birds as I was transporting them down to Bird Mania so they could be tamed and potentially sold.

That was a process, moving four baby birds to a separate cage. But teenager #1 managed to do it.

We took the folder to Petco, grabbed some coffee at Wawa, and headed to the bird store. The staff at Bird Mania scooped the baby budgies like cats on the hunt, trimmed their claws and clipped their flight feathers.

On the way back, we got a phone call from FURR that someone was interested in meeting Hermes at the adoption Saturday event at Petsmart on Rte. 248 in lower Nazareth. Our Hermes?

I had to ask because Hermes is an absolute love and a character, the last remaining “kitten” of our Greek Pride litter that we brought home August 1, 2020. He loves to be in the middle of the action, loves to play, loves to sit two-to-three feet away, but will not tolerate being touched by human hands.

You see, he was very sickly as a kitten and received a lot of medicine. Medicine is delivered by human hands.

Oh, and Hermes is the matriarch of all our other fosters. He turns one any day now and has mentored every other kitten we have had.

And this potential adopter thought maybe we could bring him over for a meet-and-greet and that maybe he could go home with them.

I said I would gladly arrange a visit for the future but their was no way we could crate him today. This is Hermes’ adoption page: Adopt Hermes.

Hermes is a very entertaining cat, and would be the perfect for someone who just wants a pet who interacts versus one that cuddles.

So, last but not least, I anticipate a part two to this entry as we are scheduled to acquire a new foster later today, one with special needs that make her very suitable for this house. More on that when it happens…

Ironing out the anxieties

Today’s blog post will ramble through my everyday activities as they often do, but I will also attempt to show how attitude, reaching out and communication can overcome life’s anxieties.

First thing this morning I saw a post from my new-ish internet friend Fausta advertising her one day free seminar on Zoom covering Mindful Self-Compassion.

We were on our way out the door first thing this morning, teenager #1 and I, to take our kitty cat osteosarcoma survivor, Opie, to a new vet, Canyon River Run, to have the lump on his neck checked.

Although in the pandemic era, we only met the vet tech, teenager #1 and I were very pleased with their service and demeanors. The prices were reasonable, too. They even called my former vet’s office (Wright’s Veterinary in Bethlehem) when I didn’t have Opie’s most up to date shots.

The vet reported that in her opinion the lump of his neck is not cancer as it is clearly in the skin and not deeper. I have to follow up because the verbal report relayed to me said it would need to be surgically removed but I don’t know if it would be a cosmetic one or a diagnostic tool to confirm her opinion.

That was the first of several anxieties addressed.

On a side note, I tried the cold brew at Wendy’s. It was quite delightful. Strong but not too bitter.

I also contacted Bird Mania, the establishment where I acquired Nala, to sow them our new photos. (They approved, Joan.) I hope to take my four baby budgies to them tomorrow as they should be young enough to hand tame and rehome.

My bird overpopulation is another anxiety addressed. Though catching and surrendering my chicks is another.

The teenagers had some issues last night, some of which remind me of college roommate situations. We shall work it all out, but since the vet took longer than I anticipated and I worked a 10-hour shift last night, my phone battery was down to 15% as the conversations continued throughout the night. I’m glad we all started a conversation about it as that’s really the only way we can initiate a solution.

Before all this started, on my first of several 10-minute breaks last night, I used my pick Chromebook to request a late start next week for Fausta’s seminar. That’s when I also noticed one of my supervisors had sent me an email requesting my presence for a chat.

Later that night. New anxiety. In several of my previous work environments, meetings never meant anything positive.

My final break came. My meeting with the leaders was 10:15 p.m. Break was 10 to 10:10 p.m. I wasn’t sure what to do with that five minutes. So, me being me, I returned to QC and folded one more fix before leaving my table at 10:15.

It turns out that my “chat” was to check in about how I’d been doing split between QC and pick. And to announce that as of Monday, they would test changing my basic schedule to move between pick and QC in a regular fashion, starting the “morning” (I assume this means the first half of my shift as we start at 3:30 p.m.) in pick and moving to QC later.

We talked a bit about numbers and strategies and once again, as I have mentioned to other leaders, I reiterated that I know I will never be the fastest though I know I will grow more efficient. I try to make up for my lack of speed and natural dexterity by being dependable and flexible and finding ways to work smarter. I also pointed out that while I haven’t hit the best metrics, my metrics are consistent.

“Can we clone you?” one leader asked.

Finally, I bought some clothes at the Stitch Fix Employee Store. I wasn’t going to visit the store this time around, but in the end my issue with ill-fitting and disappearing clothes urged me onward.

The store has been open almost two weeks so there is not much left. And some of the things I most wanted weren’t available. I wanted jeans as I’m still not thin enough to fit in my size four wardrobe from the pre-Corona days but the hand-me-down size eights are getting too baggy.

I also wanted nice t-shirts. Everything I own appears to be sleeveless or shapeless.

As Joan the photographer reported when she got her first Stitch Fix box, the Democracy Jeans are comfortable but the zippers-for-pretty get caught on everything. These are beige camo, not a print I wanted. I didn’t want a print at all. They are skinny cut, not my favorite cut either. And they are too long for me, which makes them very wrinkled.

The Michael Stars top is amazing, fits great, looks very feminine and so comfortable. And I feared it would be too big.

Finally, the yoga top/lazy woman’s sports bra thing from Free People movement actually holds everything in like a sports bra but looks really cute. It retails for $30 which is insane. But I’m a forty-something woman who is very surprised this skimpy top works for me.

Can a relaxed weekend yield a relaxed Monday?

My weekend was shortened thanks to mandatory overtime at the Bizzy Hizzy, with me doing a four-hour shift on Saturday before teenager #1 had her four-hour shift at the diner. I invited my mother to come down and join me at Tic Toc.

When the teenager got home, most of the family hung out in the backyard with some pets, a hammock and a pound of cheese fries.

Then yesterday teenager #1 and I did the grocery shopping and visited Mars and Minerva (of the FURR Roman Pride) at Petco. They were so glad to see us.

And we had tons of unhealthy but tasty food including my mother-in-laws completely amazing homemade Easter candy.

My sleep patterns and quality of sleep have been good lately, and my dreams though rather nonsensical had a heavy air of pure emotions— I blame the full moon.

Monday, though bright, had a whipping wind and a deep chill. I had been practicing a “cutting cords” exercise I heard about on a podcast (specifically Kesha and the Creepies) and had some memories on my mind. My heart felt heavy and a ten-hour shift awaited me at the Stitch Fix warehouse.

Assigned to QC (line 3, table 3A), I spent 10 hours folding clothes. My times kept me firmly at 80% of their expected daily metrics, which is as high as I’ve ever gotten and I think nicely consistent for an extended shift.

Early on in my shift, I encountered a Karl Lagerfeld shirt called the “Zelie” which I took as an awesome reminder of my own creativity and endeavors. One of the main characters in my Fashion and Fiends novel series is Basilie Saint-Ebène d’Amille, whose husband always calls her Zélie. Another side note, my college roommate named Zélie and I gave Zélie her birthday.

Lagerfeld, of course, is a fashion legend and powerhouse. His legacy in worldwide fashion has touched more fashion houses than I can remember. His own label and the iconic Chanel influenced me the most.

Surprisingly, I had no pain yesterday which has me a bit in shock. So once again I am grateful.

But the final hint toward my own projects that came was a text from my friend Joan who would like to try the next set of portraits tomorrow. Something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, life at home was not so smooth. Teenager #2 received some good news as she has a job interview today at a local grocery store. She apparently met the manager in the yogurt aisle. But teenager #1 encountered some bad mojo in my room. Was it the full moon? The date? (The date does hold some personal significance) My own attempts at “cutting chords”?

She discovered this while spending time with Nala the Naughty Cockatoo and delivering popcorn to the budgies. Those budgies are now chasing popcorn all over their cage.

So she did a sage cleanse with the help of Misty the cat who also assisted her in designing a candle ritual for me to perform when I got home.

Hopefully things have calmed.

Learning to Fly

This is a post about babies of multiple species.

My dad helped me… no he did it… my dad got a really disgusting clog out of the vacuum cleaner last night. And then we (with my stepmom) went to Tic Toc Diner to harass teenager #1 at her first official job as a waitress. The young man assigned to our table recognized me and asked if we wanted her to serve us, and I said that wasn’t necessary we were happy observing her from afar. But he gave her the table anyway.

That’s my baby, and she was buzzing around looking very focused. There is a strange heartwarming and heartbreaking feeling when you see your baby becoming independent.

Earlier that day, Vesta and Minerva went to the adoption event at Petsmart. But no one inquired about these Roman Pride babies. I brought them home to Hermes.

Teenager #1 is with her dad right now, so I spent some time working with our foster kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. I’m going to post some videos from today to show progress.

Hermes is afraid of human hands. And Mars— oh spunky Mars— bit one of our fellow FURR volunteers when she tried to move him from the habitat at the Petco in Easton to the one in the Phillipsburg area.

Video: Manhandling Mars (and Hermes)

Video: The Roman Pride

Meanwhile, I decided I had to let go of my fear of harm coming to the parakeets. I opted to let them free fly for the first time since Boo-Boo’s death (see Farewell Boo for details). And it was the first time for the babies. My room is oddly silent right now because all SIX birds, including Nala the Goffin (who turned five this week), are sleeping. The budgies flew so hard!

Video: Baby birds awkward flight

And here’s a video of Hermes from yesterday: Hermes amid the vacuum

So all the babies are doing well!

My favorite cat litters

This won’t be the most game exciting post, but as a foster parent for feral kittens and a long-time cat mama, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of development in the cat litter arena.

I thought I’d share the cat litter we stock in this house in case it would help anyone else.

In our main living area boxes we use So Phresh from Petco, on repeat delivery. It’s nothing fancy but the price is very reasonable and it ships to the door. Plus, the plastic buckets are reusable and the kitty on the bucket looks like our Fog. I apologize to the UPS man every time we get a delivery. We fill our four cat boxes downstairs with this litter (one on the sun porch, one in the dining room, two in the bathroom).

Even though the fosters receive donations from the supporters of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, because we currently have five cats in teenager #1’s bedroom, we order Arm & Hammer’s Clump N Seal from Chewy.com. This is my favorite clay litter, but it is pricy so I can’t justify buying it for every box. But it really does seal in odor and isn’t dusty. So for the two boxes in the teen’s room, Arm & Hammer it is.

Both of these litters are fairly scent-free because I know cats have sensitive noses and I do, too.

Now there are occasions when we use Yesterday’s News and Feline Pine. Yesterday’s News is a pellet litter made from recycled newspapers. It dissolves when urinated on, but does not clump with poop. Same is true with Feline Pine. With both, you can scoop out the poo and shake the box and the box refreshes in a way. I like that the pellet litters are easy to clean up when they get kicked out of the box. Yesterday’s News is very clean and scentless— so when a cat is recovering from surgery or illness it’s a safe choice. I also use it in the tray of the bird cages.

But I like the pine smell of the Feline Pine when the cat uses the box, so I keep a tiny litter box in my room with that litter. It’s small because with the birds, cats aren’t typically in my room.

Teen #2 has two boxes for her two cats in her room, and I suggested she use one pellet and one clay litter so her cats have a choice.

Our foster cat godmother from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab recently traded in her traditional cat boxes for a horse trough. That is a brilliant idea!

The embers of happy

Today I fought my emotions and fought my pain to find some moments of happiness for myself. And in the end, my heart is warm.

My daughter and I often carpool now that she is a waitress at one of our favorite local businesses— Tic Toc Diner.

Before work I took her to the Starbucks in our local Target (#2536) so I could try the new Pistachio Latte.

Our reaction video: Review of our lattes

Once I arrived at the Bizzy Hizzy, I realized I had forgotten to wear red for “red day,” but they gave us all red masks and iced heart sugar cookies. That brought me some joy. As did my lunch, my attempt at Cajun seared scallops.

I started my night in QC, where my performance slipped because despite taking two naproxen sodium my pain level was going from 5 to 7. By 9 pm, I had only QC’ed about 52. But then at 9:15, I got moved to pick direct! It felt amazing to zoom through the warehouse and even though the naproxen sodium had worn off, my pain had dropped to a two or a three.

Teenager #1 texted that she had her uniform and she was waiting tables by herself and she made $28 in tips. I love seeing her in this new role.

And my friend who adopted Fenrir/Fern of the Norse Pride (now Edie) sent me this picture of her:

She looks so majestic. I am assured that she is still naughty.

By the end of the night, I picked 48 fixes and walked about 12,000 steps.

A friend texted to check in when I really needed to hear a familiar voice (thank you, Bill).

Another friend texted me the word “ramfeezled,” to be exhausted from working too much. (Thank you, Joan.)

And then I got home, and found the best surprise ever. Now, every night teenager #1 comes to hang out with Nala. While she is here, she makes my bed.

Tonight I found this…

She bought me clearance Valentine’s chocolate from the Dollar Tree. That’s my girl— frugal impresses me just as much as the thought.

The Harder Side of Rescue

We have worked with three litters of kittens trapped by Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab: The Greek Pride, The Roman Pride and the Norse Pride.

  • Artemis
  • Apollo
  • Hermes
  • Hades
  • Zeus
  • Mars
  • Minerva
  • Jupiter
  • Vesta
  • Fenrir
  • Loki
  • Vale

And when they are trapped young and healthy, it’s easy to socialize them and find them homes.

But the Greek Pride was already a little wild when we got them, and they had kitty cat respiratory infections. Hades sent me to the hospital with a cat bite within the first 48-hours. I stayed four days.

She never settled into a house cat routine and ended up in a barn. I was giving her eye meds at the time she bit me— while I scruff my cats relatively frequently I hadn’t scruffs a kitten in a very long time and didn’t have a good grip.

Apollo got so sick he started sneezing up blood. He would let us swaddle him, wash his face and feed him antibiotics but once he got healthy the experience left him aloof. His sister Zeus was the runt and she was always a goofy love. She didn’t get as sick as the others.

Luckily, her FURRever family adopted her AND Apollo. He still remains aloof, but loves the other cats in the family. His mom is so patient with him.

Artemis was actually adopted first, and he is doing great at his home. His mom is now my Facebook friend and I heard he had a cold last week. My heart hurt for the poor little guy.

Hermes is still with us. Not only did he get eye infections and respiratory infections, he also had two bouts of ringworm. As a consequence we are still working on his fear of human hands. Video: Hermes

The Norse Pride have all been adopted and every communication I receive has been positive.

That leaves the Romans.

The softest tuxedo kittens ever, now about six months old.

Vesta and Mars just spent about three weeks at the local Petco and Minerva has been attending the Saturday adoption events at Petsmart.

Today, another FURR volunteer tried to move Vesta and Mars to a different Petco where she thought they would do better and someone had expressed interest.

Then we got a text that Mars had bit her.

So they are with us again, and we hope Vesta and Minerva can go to Petco instead while we see if Mars was just nervous and scared or if something else was going on.

Mars (left) and Vesta

We have had problems with shyness and skittishness but no one in this litter has ever bit anyone before.

Video: Mars in bed

Video: Original arrival at Petco

Video: Vesta and Mars