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.

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

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.

Random Hospital Tidbits during a tropical storm

I think I have a sense of humor

My daughter brought extra dry erase markers so we could have fun with the nurses and my care team. Yes, as the a patient with cellulitis from a kitten bite I drew paw prints all over my board.

Today was my second day in the hospital at St. Luke’s Bethlehem/Fountain Hill and also the day that Tropical Storm Isaias wreaked havoc in the Lehigh Valley.

This is the only unplanned hospital stay I have ever had and will also be the longest. My other other experience in the hospital was giving birth to my daughter.

There are only two parts of this experience that I have disliked: IVs, though I have learned to ignore them, and collecting my urine so everyone can monitor my fluids.

Everyone on staff has been kind, and most downright enjoyable and intelligent. But Nurse Michelle has been my favorite.

Michelle finally arranged all my IV tubes into a double Dutch arrangement so they don’t have to keep swapping them out on my arm. She labeled everything meticulously. Attention to detail is the perfect trait for a nurse.

The hospital has lovely old architecture and picturesque views.

I started betadine soaks today. I’m tickled that such basic medicine still works well. I also feel like I’m hanging out with Marge from the Palmolive commercials.

“You’re soaking in it.”

Old Palmolive Commercial on You Tube

The teenager stopped by so that was fun— we took silly pictures. Speaking of the teenager and silly photos, I FaceTimed my cockatoo last night.

And in the category of things that make me happy—

Meet the Greek Pride

Today the teenager and I picked up a litter of five kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

More info on the organization here: FURR

These kittens are all very timid, although one is more friendly and outgoing than the other. We will be fostering them at least this week to socialize them before they get neutered and vetted.

So our mission is to make these critters lovable and teach them that people are nice.

You’re job is to help me find them homes and support FURR’s work.

Six months ago this little devil was trapped at the size of these babies.

Fog

He loves to be on the border of social gatherings but is still aloof. But he’s my buddy. He certainly is not up for adoption.

So some of my blog space will promote the journey of these kittens. The teenager has decided they will all receive Greek names. After the gods and goddesses.

If we continue to foster kittens, our beasts will all be deities.

This is us bringing them home: Coming out of the crate

The Greek Pride

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.

“Hermes” even has his own video: “Hermes”

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!

This is going to be a great group of kittens.

Saturday solace and more kittens

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.

Fitness moment

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…

New kittens 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.

For more on FURR Click here.

Errands and decadence

Today started from the get-go with an air that everything would be harder than it needed to be. I’ll spare you my editorializing and stick to my main message.

The other night, the teenager turned to me and asked what happened with our recent cat litter order. Now with four cats in the house I have 30-lbs of cat litter on auto ship from Petco every three weeks. I actually had this order ship early and I upped it to 60 lbs.

Petco Customer Service

Fog

It shipped on July 24. Well yesterday I tracked it, as our five litter boxes are getting low.

The UPS tracking system said “receiver has moved.” Ummm…. I haven’t moved in 17 years and I have been getting this order for more than a year.

I call customer service. I had a very sweet, very friendly representative named “Jean” who didn’t sound American. She informed me she would file the appropriate claim about the missing package.

I quietly said, “and in the mean time, what about my cat litter?”

She placed a new order, free to me, that should arrive in 5 to 7 business days.

Three 30-lb containers of cat litter arrived at noon today. Kudos to Petco.

Errands and paperwork

I finally wrote the letters freezing my Planet Fitness membership. I don’t have a printer, but the teenager does, even though it is running out of ink. I shared the letter with her on Google docs and asked her to print two copies.

Why two copies?

Because even though my home gym is in Easton, some of my paperwork says it is Mount Pocono even though I have never even seen the Mount Pocono Planet Fitness. The letters need to be certified, according to the contract, so I spent $4.10 each to send two. It’s easier than finding out I sent it to the wrong gym.

I had $33 cash and 15 cents in coins when I arrived at the post office. I told him to give me a few stamps and if he could get the total to an even number I would pay cash. At 55 cents each, the math on making that work… well he gave me 14 and it came to $15.90.

He’s probably now thinking the same thing I am— that 2 more stamps would have been the number we wanted, $17.

Ah, well. I’m still not convinced this federal coin shortage isn’t a political move to force Americans into accepting a cashless society. I’m still pissed that we moved our currency away from the gold standard.

Review: McDonald’s Iced Coffee

On the way home from the post office, I stopped at McDonald’s again for a medium iced coffee and to get my free fries Friday medium fries. I had mentioned yesterday that the caramel iced coffee tasted like a milkshake more than coffee.

So today I ordered a medium iced coffee for $1.29 (and my free French fries with a side of spicy buffalo sauce). The standard iced coffee comes with cream and liquid sugar, which confuses me because I think it is also made with whole milk.

Well I ordered mine with no sugar. I don’t like liquid sugar and I don’t put sugar in my coffee.

When I took a sip, it was awful. My Nescafé is better. But once I started eating the French fries and the buffalo sauce, my searing tonsils didn’t have any problem with the coffee any more.

Perhaps I will have to drink all of my iced coffee plain and compare them all. Get one from Dunkin, one from Starbucks and one from McDonald’s.

This is how I think they would rank:

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts
  2. Starbucks
  3. McDonald’s

So, I want McDonald’s to knock Starbucks down a peg as Starbucks coffee is bitter. But McDonald’s struck me as weird. We shall see.

Whirlwind Tuesday

I ended last night with a delightful (super super delightful) tapas of succulent olives, hummus, blue cheese and pita chips with my neighbor.

Cozy tapas

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.

The rescued 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.

(For more details on this, see yesterday’s post: Nescafe Capers)

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.

Matte silver

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.

And here’s some stoned cat videos:Fog doesn’t want to come out

Misty coming out

Nescafé capers

Days upon days of 85, 88, today 93.

Kiss Me Kate / “Too Darn Hot” (Ann Miller)

My weekend was filled with various forms of professional work. Some work for Aspire to Autonomy, some work for The March of Gentlemen, some brainstorming for Thrive PR. Darnell and I have some big projects brewing and I can’t wait to share them with everyone.

Last night we had our casual El Camino Virtual Pilgrimage zoom meeting. Despite the heat, I have consistently walked between 6,000 and 8,000 steps a day.

In the pilgrimage group we talked a lot about where we grew up and we set a challenge to find someplace new to walk this week.

This morning, my blind friend Nan and I got together to review her writing, submit some poetry, and look at the upcoming NASA schedule. The mission to Mars launches this week and the SpaceX Dragon returns from the International Space Station.

In the afternoon the regular insanity commenced here— Sobaka came to visit, Nala kept getting off her cage to harass the cats and the dog and the teen had a zoom meeting about the future of the marching band season. Marching Band is a go!

And today I heard the words I didn’t want to hear.

“Mom, can I taste your coffee?”

The teenager

It started with a blueberry caramel signature latte from Dunkin’. That started her with the realization that with enough sugar and milk, you can barely taste the coffee. Then I figured out how to replicate the $5 iced latte in an iced coffee on sale. Then I scaled back the caramel…

And then she started on cold brew.

And today she tasted my at-home quick and easy iced coffee. Coffee snobs please skip the next few paragraphs.

When I can’t afford fancy afternoon iced coffee, I take a pint of milk, mix in a heaping teaspoon of dark roast Nescafé instant coffee, and drop in three ice cubes.

An afternoon pick-me-up and a snack as there is milk.

And the teenager liked it.

With no sugar and no flavor.

Problem is… my Nescafé jar looks like this:

So not only now do I have to fight the teenager for milk, I have to challenge her on coffee. I had to lay down the law.

I told her— look, child, until we get to the grocery store again, you can drink the Dollar Store instant coffee your dad bought. She said that would be fine.

She had two glasses this afternoon.

She may never sleep again.