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.

Second shift midnight society

I never understood why people like to give their favorite parts of their day to their employer— unless of course you are your employer then it makes sense that you use your most productive part of the day to your business.

This is the main reason I enjoy working second shift. I think the pandemic and shift toward working from home shows how out of date the 40-hour-work week of the 20th century has become.

And while I miss the mission and accomplishment of professional work, one part of warehouse employment I very much enjoy is working second shift. At the Bizzy Hizzy, they call it “midnight society” because we clock out at midnight.

I like having my mornings to enjoy the sunshine, schedule appointments and run errands— or lazily lay in bed.

At 2 pm, I pour a cup of coffee and prep for work. And after that same time, my intellectual capacity and my motivation has diminished so working at a low skill, menial task gives me a second wind.

I clock out at midnight and the world is majestic in its quiet. I look at the empty roads and darkened houses, even the silence of my own living room, and I feel peace. Whatever I chose to do, even the cats are sleepy.

And then in the morning, I do it again.

Unexpected

Yesterday was the first day of my second full week back to work since having had Covid-19. It was also the first week of mandatory overtime at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.

I left home feeling disconnected and anxious. I had volunteered for a 1:30 p.m. to midnight shift, assuming I would be well rested and up early enough to get to work at that time. Some of my peers had taken on a 12-hour shift— 1:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

They had so many people in the building some of us had to go to pick, which is my favorite role. I haven’t “picked” with any gusto since before my illness.

It felt amazing to be on the warehouse floor. I was peeling off layers and picking at about 21 minutes per cart of eight fixes. Again, not the fastest but decent. I walked 6,000 steps in that 2 hours and there wasn’t a moment of struggle or discomfort among them.

But when I peeled off my top layer, I discovered my tank top was inside out. I had a sports bra on so I decided to fix it. Except I got all twisted up in the pretty straps.

So my wardrobe malfunction impacted my times.

After first break at 3:30 I found myself in QC. I had a hard time getting organized and started— so it was probably 4 p.m. by the time I got rolling. I folded and packed 74 fixes. Which averaged to about 5 1/2 minutes each. I need to get that under 4.

I had told my trainer my goal was 80. I said that because Friday it had been 75 and I hit it. And I felt sluggish on Friday so logically 80 was doable.

My trainer didn’t care. My numbers have been consistent and I feel like my fixes are getting neater, my wraps better and the whole process seems to have a rhythm now.

Thanks to my time in pick, I walked more than 9,000 steps yesterday. I ate deliberately, trying to balance high doses of protein with refined sugary treats so I could get the buzz I wanted.

I took a Tylenol (just one) at one point as I did have some spinal pain. At the end of the night, my favorite nurse commented that I “looked good” and indeed I felt good— not like someone recuperating from a virus and working an 10-hour shift in a warehouse with a malfunctioning body (thanks cerebral palsy). I honestly felt good.

I weigh exactly what I did yesterday after several days of losing weight. I still need to lose at least 15 pounds. Or buy new clothes.

The joys and lessons of 2020

I know 2020 dealt a lot of people a bad hand at cards, so to speak, and I know so many people have suffered— loved ones lost, food insecurity, unemployment, instability, break-ups.

I naively believe every year will “be a good year” or a better year… but let’s talk Turkey for a minute: I have a disability (cerebral palsy), I come from a certain socio-economic bracket that has made it difficult (but not impossible) for me to achieve long term financial stability, and my own job choices have often valued community, family and altruism over traditionally-defined middle class life.

2019 was the year I resumed my professional career after taking ten years “off” to raise my daughter. (I worked for Target for those 10 years and they gradually increased my part time hours to full time and so I opted to get paid a professional salary versus a retail wage if I were to put that many hours in.)

My husband and I separated in 2019. That was a huge change after 20 years, and it still pains me. My husband is one of the kindest people in the world, and while I still lament that we couldn’t fix our problems, the end had to come.

So what were the joys and lessons of 2020?

Let me share.

  • Cats. December 26, 2019 through late January 2020, the teenager trapped the feral kittens born under our neighbors porch. We kept two of them. Taming feral kittens gave us so much reward. And led to us working with FURR. Our fostering career has involved 12 kittens so far, in seven months. And I cannot tell you how much I love having babies around all the time. On days I don’t want to get out of bed, I do for them.
  • Birds. I met Nala on December 28, 2019 and brought her home in mid-January. By dealing with this obstinate Goffin’s cockatoo, I learned a lot of patience. And the best way to top being “a crazy cat lady” is to be the crazy cat lady with birds. And my parakeets had babies for Christmas 2020. I have three chicks that I have seen grow daily.
  • Professional and personal growth. I found myself crying at my desk more often than I like to admit in 2020. It became apparent by the end of January that my boss was an incredibly toxic person. At the same token, I learned so much from her that when she dismissed me during the pandemic, I could use those new skills to help a young nonprofit grow. Between my original job and my volunteer work with new nonprofits, I showcased this knowledge to steer these organizations to grants. And the success rates for grants, publication of an first-ever annual report, and various media placements throughout the Lehigh Valley was exhilarating.
  • Expanding family. As my faithful readers may know, I have a second teenager staying with me. This teenager has turned our lives upside down, but has shared in our joys and tribulations during the last four months. I always wanted a larger family— and I got it this year: a menagerie of birds, cats and teenagers. It’s been amazing to share our joys and traditions with someone and see my daughter react to no longer being an only child.
  • New attitude toward challenges. I am always the person you can count on when you need someone. So people don’t realize that I am often terrified and insecure. Being “alone” and a single custodial parent has gotten me over that. I had five months with no income and I lived on the $4500 I had in savings. I ended up in the hospital with a cat bite during that time period and it was such a great learning experience. I learned a lot about myself, my neighbors, my friends, and how amazing teenager #1 really is. And then I finally get unemployment after I get my new job at Stitch Fix. I promptly use it to pay off some of my medical bills and a few living expenses I had put on my American Express.
  • We will move beyond Covid. I finally got a job and three weeks in, I contract Covid-19. That whole experience was something, but again— I learned to ask friends, neighbors and family for help. And that GrubHub gift certificate I received during the summer months sure came in handy. This whole pandemic world has me mapping out whom I would recruit for my squad in a real catastrophe.

Maybe I’m just weird— but I see a lot of hope and triumph emerging from struggle. Cheers to 2021.

Accidents (or the four letter word that starts with S and means ‘poop’) happens.

It’s been a hectic couple of days.

The teenager is pet-sitting for our FURR foster godmother. So she’s in and out of my house several times a day.

I have misplaced Fern’s adoption paperwork, which is totally not like me. Luckily Fern went to a friend of mine so I can asked her to send me a photo.

Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, has been upset and stressed and plucked her flight feathers off her one wing.

It’s really sad to see the confusion in her face when she tries to fly and just falls.

Speaking of Nala, I met her a year ago today.

We had a devil of a time containing Boo-boo last night but since we did Wink and Yo-yo seem much more relaxed as parents. I think it was the right call. Video: catching Boo

And here is a video of the parakeet chicks: Budgie babies!

I also finally got a good picture of Loki:

Sir Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey

While three out of my four cats were cuddly and cute.

Back to Front: Opie, Oz, Fog

Then I headed out to work for the first day since Covid. I stopped at Dunkin for a coffee and discovered there were no more good deals. So I didn’t get my coffee.

No one explained the protocol for my return so I don’t have the proper paperwork from my doctor. I’ll try and get that started— already called the doctor— but am waiting on their end of the paperwork.

I’m annoyed— mostly because I was ready to go back but also because I don’t know if this lack of communication will mean I lose income. With it being the holiday week, I probably won’t get rapid cooperation from the medical folks. And part of that is because there are people sicker and needier than I am.

After everything I’ve been through this year, I won’t complain.

It gave me time to do some grocery shopping and cook for the other teenager.

I even helped her make a smoothie.

One more week of 2020.

Morning Fog

Routines in this house have changed since I contracted Covid.

Today I have completed the 10-day isolation period recommended by the CDC and can now leave the house. I want the teenager to take me to the Dollar Tree and Petco.

It’s 7:40 a.m. Because of my job on second shift and then my illness, I haven’t been up this early in probably months.

Loki and Fog

My room is typically a cat free zone. Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and my three budgies (and now three budgie eggs) are in there.

But the Norse Pride ended up with me— in part because the teenager worried the Roman Pride were making them nervous and in her words they were too small to bother the birds.

The kittens, after a month in my room, decided they want to be with the big cats, so when I come in and out of my room, Vale leads a charge.

Because of this I leave my door open more soon they can come back. And now my cats and Teenager #2’s cats like to gather here. Her cats want to watch birds. My cats want to enjoy a warm bed with me and watch the birds.

Now dear Fog was my bed mate before cockatoo and before kittens. He and the three-legged old man liked to rest in my room and minded their own business.

And now Fog has taken to opening my bedroom door and joining me in bed in the morning, which confuses the Norse Pride kittens who don’t understand the magic of how a cat opens the door.

He doesn’t like the kittens— but he wants to be with me as I have my morning coughing fit. He’s got to be checking on me.

But the kittens are fascinated and confused by him and run to me. And it’s been a while since I had an 11+ pound cat in my bed. So it’s a jarring way to wake up.

I’ve also missed my Fog cuddles.

The Tudors, sweating sickness and Covid whiners

Today is day 10 of my post-diagnosis Covid 19 isolation. I am now watching The Tudors on Netflix, struck by the similarities between the Coronavirus pandemic and the 16th Century sweating sickness.

I feel like there is so much not known about Covid-19 and I suspect many people know more than they can admit. But the medical treatments, anecdotal layman wisdom and people’s behavior remind me of these scenes depicting King Henry VIII’s medical crisis.

My symptoms are still dizziness and a dry cough, a congested head and weakness. And chapped lips.

I catch a chill easily, and sometimes the smallest actions wind me.

I think the general populace puts too much security in flimsy masks, and gives not enough thought to social distancing. I think the various government tactics to curb the pandemic cater to major corporations and starve small business.

And it saddens me that people will flock to WalMart or order from Amazon, but not mail order from a small local business or buy gift cards for small merchants.

It also saddens me that so much of society can really on DoorDash or GrubHub, but not call your favorite local restaurant and order take out.

I believe I caught the Coronavirus at work, despite all the precautions to “keep us safe.” Because despite the gloves, the masks, the nurse, the sanitizer spray, and working socially distant, the reality is there are 70 or more of us in one room at the same time, unmasked, eating and talking for each of our three daily breaks.

The vaccine has arrived. And I wish it were — what do they call it— a reactive vaccine vs a mRNA vaccine. Perhaps I am old-fashioned in my thinking.

So I suppose I am grateful to have caught Coronavirus and see how my body reacts. I have had the chance to develop my own antibodies. And no one else in my family for sick so I am also grateful for that.

I am deeply saddened that others have not had the same privilege that I have. I am saddened that people I love have lost people they love.

It is a confusing time.

So my best advice would be to do your own research, think about how viruses work and make the decisions that keep you and your family safe. And care for your neighbors and support local business in ways you can.

Snow Shenanigans

Greetings from day 9 or 10 of my Covid life. We had a pretty sizable snowstorm yesterday that reminded me of my childhood.

If you look carefully in that first picture you’ll see a cute little Nissan 4-door. It had North Carolina plates and like a real Southern Belle the owner tried to drive over all the snow.

My teens are now out back shoveling the garage and I’ve exhausted myself loading the dishwasher. My main Covid symptom today is extreme dizziness. I’m sick of every beverage I’ve been drinking — 1-2 liters of seltzer a day, 32 to 64 ounces of herbal tea and 1-2 cups of coffee.

And while my appetite is fine, I have at least one bowl of soup a day so I can get even more liquid.

Yesterday the teenager asked her dad to bring me a good old-fashioned NY style pizza which I ate for lunch, dinner, midnight snack and breakfast.

The teenager also asked me to record different cats’ reactions to the snow.

Misty: Misty fights the snow and Misty goes for a walk in the snow

Opie: Opie says no to snow

Vale: Vale explores snow (to apply to adopt Vale— visit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Vale’s adoption page)

Fog: Fog in snow

Venom et al: Swarming the snow

In other fun news, the Roman Pride explored the snow from the safe confines of their room: Fosters try snow

And if you’re curious how the Romans are progressing— Romans in the morning

Hopefully these cute tuxedoes will be ready to adopt soon.

And Loki of the Norse Pride acts like a little puppy: Loki plays with the cockatoo (to apply to adopt Loki… Loki’s adoption page

Covid update and holiday greetings from Zeus & Apollo

I didn’t write yesterday because I was exhausted and dizzy and sneezing and fighting the Covid rash that covers my hands and makes me want to slice off my skin with a razor.

I’m sleeping 12 hours a day with The Norse Pride curled up against me like good little nurses and Nala, the naughty cockatoo, breaking dishes that are heavier than she is.

The foster kittens urinated in my underwear drawer. The cool new jean-looking leggings with the pockets that I got at the thrift store for work came out of the wash with a giant bleach stain on the butt. The electric bill came— and last November and December it was $55 each month. The new bill is $130.

I started the day sneezing and even more dizzy than yesterday. And when I blew my nose it was equal parts snot and blood.

So it looks like today might be similar to yesterday— I watched all of Ink Master season 1 yesterday. Today I’ll watch season 2.

But the happy news— Facebook alerted me to a message sent to me last month from Zeus & Apollo’s FURRever mom. So we had a conversation this morning about how they are doing.

Zeus has become a cuddly mama’s girl and Apollo loves his new brother Butter. I’m told Apollo is getting very tall. And Zeus still chirps and cuddles.

Day 4 of Covid isolation

Sunday. Next Sunday at this time my isolation period will be over.

I feel stiff and exhausted, and I have a weird rash that makes my hands burn and itch like crazy but all-in-all Covid symptoms are minimal today.

The most exciting thing we did today was play with foster kittens.

Vale got to wear a sweater.

For information on adopting Vale, click here.

Vale and his brother Loki are both available at Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Some fun kitten videos:

Harness training Vale

Hermes and Vesta

The Roman Pride and Hermes

This is really a good amount of fun for me, but as we got Vale into the sweater we got a text that my dear cat-loving former world colleague was bringing her homemade egg nog.

The teenager has taken a liking to eggnog, but as of most of the younger generations, she’s never had the real thing.

I had had some fruitcake for breakfast— her great-grandmother’s recipe made by my mother-in-law. My in-laws have a really delicious fruit add. I brought some to work last year for Mr. Accordion and he shared it with the office Christmas party, a decision he make have regretted.

And now this.

And I used some more of Bill’s gift card to order wings from Deux Wings on GrubHub. I am not a fan of wings, but the teenager is. I rather enjoyed the mac and cheese and amazing French fries.

From Deux Wings, great food

On TV today, I started My Mad Fat Diary and Ink Master.