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:
If you bring a pet into your home or feed a stray, be ready for the responsibility of that animal’s life.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So four out of our five kittens in the “Greek Pride” we are fostering for FURR had a great day.
Hermes and Hades both get antibiotic cream for their eyes. Hermes now has no probably with us giving him medicine, though he hisses a bit and puts up a token fight.
Hades, the little black kitten not in the photo, let me scoop her up and bring her to the teenager for her medicine. As I extended her face toward the teen, Hades panicked and started flailing.
I didn’t have a good grasp on the scruff of her neck (she’s 1/3 to 1/4 of the size of all my boys) and when I lifted my hand up to push her front paws against her chest, she bit me.
One tooth made a puncture above the knuckle of my left index finger. The teenager demanded I put the kitten down and go wash.
I washed my arms and hands with soap and water and then poured hydrogen peroxide in all the scratches and covered the puncture with a band aid.
Hades hid. All day.
An hour or so later, before going to the grocery store, I changed the band aid and added some triple antibiotic ointment.
I got the cats some sardines— the teenager deboned one can to share between all nine cans. The kittens, especially the runt, enjoyed them. Hades wouldn’t partake.
Over the course of the day my finger swelled and I couldn’t bend it. When I did bend it, some discharge (relatively clear looking with a bit of blood) came out of the wound. It was starting to feel like I slammed it in a car door. I took an Epsom salt bath and headed to the Urgent Care.
Now I love my local urgent care.
This is what I looked like:
The bite is that small dot above the knuckle on my left index finger.
The assistant who took me to the exam room noticed my wounds and asked if I was there for the scratches. No, I said, showing him the puncture. “Cat bite?” he asked.
“I’m fostering unsocialized kittens and this one needed medicine in his eye,” I replied.
The doctor comes in.
He suggested I have an infection in my fingernail/cuticle and that it traveled into the knuckle. I suggest maybe it’s the puncture. He insists it’s the fingernail and prescribes bactrim, an antibiotic, but he wants me to go to the ER.
I grab a pizza, come home, take my first pill and help the teenager with the kittens. Hermes takes his evening meds like a champ and we scoop up the runt and think we see two little testicles.
We named him Zeus. Zeus likes to eat and likes to play. Artemis plays a little, but Zeus really likes to play.
This is the first action shot of them exploring: Exploring
Now, there are five of them. One black, which regardless of gender will be Hades. He/she is the most firmly planted out of sight under the shelf in the teenager’s loft.
There are two with socks, two without.
The friendliest one is Artemis, a female, with a white triangle on her brown nose.
The bravest one we have tentatively named Hermes, but the teenager won’t commit unless he/she is definitely a boy. “Hermes” is named for his/her speed. He/she has some recovery to do regarding his/her eye. “Hermes” also has socks but a fully white snout.
That leaves the two with no socks, one of which has the cutest one dot on the tip of his/her tail. One of them is also the runt. Probably the one everyone else was sleeping on in the carrier. Now, some of these kittens have stunning silver eyes.
Remember these little Greek gods will be up for adoption soon. The $110 adoption fee includes all shots, neutering, deworming, flea medicine, AND microchip. And I can help you pick the best one for you/your family!
My morning routine involves feeding my menagerie, cleaning the kitchen, working with the Roomba to pick up my room. And a cup of coffee, some cockatoo cuddles, and a few rounds of Words with Friends.
This morning I retrieved some clean laundry that needs to be put away, and while I was chasing the Roomba the laundry basket fell. All my clean laundry was now unfolded on the floor.
I used it as an opportunity to pick it up one piece of laundry at a time in a wide stance squat and move into a calf raise as I piled it on my bed.
I ate super well last night, and wore work out clothes yesterday, but today I WILL work out.
While we were eating dinner, I got a text message from Stephany, our contact with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. She has kittens for us to foster! We pick them up today in about 90 minutes…
Newkittens need homes
The teenager is thrilled.
We will pick out their names and anyone that is interested in the group or adoption— because you will see soooooo many pictures— can click below for details on the organization.
Cats are fully vetted and microchipped (and socialized!) before adoption. The adoption fee is $110.
They have four feral cats right now that need barn homes and they usually like them to go in pairs so if you know anybody with a farm or any kind of situation where someone has property and would like a couple mouse catchers let them (or me) know.
I ended last night with a delightful (super super delightful) tapas of succulent olives, hummus, blue cheese and pita chips with my neighbor.
Tonight I’m ending the night with blisters from going for my evening walk while wearing flip flops and feeling a little guilty for taking advantage of my DQ reward points to get a free chicken strip basket at Dairy Queen.
I have gained 10 pounds since the pandemic started. I am happy to say that my daily steps have tripled, but I haven’t used my dumbbells for anything other than doorstops, and I suppose I should go ahead and cancel my gym membership. Because I’m unemployed and I don’t want to go pay someone for something I can do at home without a mask.
If only I could stop the junk food habit.
But that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to touch on two topics. I’m going to briefly touch on what I love about the business and non-profit environment here in the Lehigh Valley.
Then I’m going to sing the praises of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab and report that our adorable pseudo-Russian Blue kittens, now about nine months old got neutered today and are still stoned out of their fuzzy little minds.
Life in the Lehigh Valley
So, I grew up in the Slate Belt and then moved to Bethlehem for my college years at Moravian College. I’ve always loved the diversity of the Lehigh Valley region, the diversity of urban vs. rural, the infrastructure, the businesses, the farms, the corporations.
Today, I attended a meeting with the person in charge of corporate giving for a major corporation that has offices all over the world, and a huge influence historically and currently in the Valley.
I attended that meeting as a representative of Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., and supported one of the founders of the organization in this important private conversation we were having.
And suddenly I was awestruck again.
Periodically, I am annoyed with the Valley for the same reasons that I love the Lehigh Valley. But today I felt enamored.
The Lehigh Valley, in part because of its proximity to the ports of New Jersey and the cities of New York and Philadelphia, and the local highway infrastructure connecting it everywhere, attracts a wide variety of businesses while hosting some economic mainstays—like Air Products, Just Born Candy, Martin Guitar and Crayola.
We have two major hospital networks competing madly locally— St. Luke’s and Lehigh Valley Hospital.
But the region, despite having three cities just about touching (and Allentown, with its population of more than 122,000, is the third largest city in the state), is amazingly small. It’s not that hard to travel from one end to the other and people seem to know everyone, especially in the business world.
Or maybe it just feels that way to me because I spent 15 years as a local journalist.
So, here I am in the meeting, immediately recognized as the former Development Manager for ProJeCt of Easton, helping sell this two-year-old non-profit to a potential major funder.
I even dressed up for the Zoom— and then the person we were meeting dialed in, so I got to put on makeup for my stoned cats.
But because of the “smallness” of the Lehigh Valley, this very busy executive took more time than she had to to meet with us. As a result, we all left with an increased understanding.
We have a better fundraising plan regarding this corporation and this person learned more about how all the anti-trafficking organizations here in the Valley work together.
But what impressed me was the willingness of this individual to work with the “little guy.” That is something that makes me proud to live in the Lehigh Valley.
Therescued kittens have been neutered
I rambled quite a bit on that earlier bit.
Today, the teenager and I left the house at 7:30 to transport the kittens to FURR for a low-cost neutering.
Stephanie, the woman from FURR we have been working with, was even kind enough to place Fog and Misty on the backseat of her car with their cat carriers facing each other instead of in the big cat pile of carriers in the back of the car.
That made me happy. That the brothers could see each other.
On the way home, I stopped at Grocery Outlet as the teenager had announced that cheap instant coffee was garbage and we were going to need more Nescafé.
And then the teenager filled out an adoption/foster application with FURR on her phone in the parking lot.
Because we need more menagerie.
Oz enjoyed being my main baby today while the kittens were gone.
And I also did my nails.
And it seemed like it took forever until it was time to retrieve the boys. They are both about 9 3/4 pounds. They are Feline Leukemia negative. They have their shots now, nails trimmed, flea meds and deworming.
And they are ridiculously mellow and stoned right now. I think Fog fell asleep with his head in the water bowl.