Early morning animal husbandry

I got up early today — at 5:45 a.m.— to take the teenager to our FURR godmother’s house for her pet sitting job.

These two personal cats of the household wanted my affection and made a receiving line. From the tilt of their heads I am guessing they don’t like paparazzi.

In related FURR news, little Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey of the Norse Pride is learning the rules of the greater house versus life in the master suite. He still likes to challenge the “no cats on the counters” rule but he is learning to prefer the scratching posts to the furniture. For that I am grateful.

Loki

Yes, the scratching post is broken but they don’t mind. We just have to watch the sisal and reattach it.

In other news of gratitude, the chicks seem to have doubled in size. They must be very hungry right now because they chirped much of the night.

Yule was hatched on the solstice, Winter hatched next, and then, yes, Christmas hatched on Christmas.

Mama gives me one chance each morning to check on them and take their photo. If you want to hear the protective mama bird noise, here it is: Protective Periwinkle.

So now, the only thing stressing me out is the fact that I haven’t heard from my doctor’s office. I called them yesterday about my need for a follow up Covid test and a doctor’s note.

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.

Really, budgies?

I started my day-after-Christmas in a peaceful frame of mind.

Those are such lovely sentiments. And then I went upstairs to care for my birds and Papa Parakeet slipped out under my arm and started flying around my room.

I give him a lecture, text my daughter and toss all kittens out of the room.

Here is my panicked video: Escapees

And then I think— well, maybe there is something missing that he thinks he needs for his babies. And he goes to the cockatoo’s cage and steals her rice cake. And Boo boo joins him.

Which, by the way, Nala the Goffin has almost finished unwrapping her final gift from me.

But I digress.

I wash all their bowls, get fresh water, the fancy food, some treats and fresh banana.

And about 20 minutes later…Budgies go home

And then I get this text:

It’s going to be a long day.

The highs and lows of Christmas 2020

Christmas is always hard for me. Having a second teenager, a houseful of kittens and brand new budgie chicks helps me escape a lot of the pain that surfaces during the holidays.

And no matter what I try, I can’t escape it. Instead, I work to minimize it.

And every year it gets a little easier.

It’s 9:30 pm now— I am listening to Rachmaninov on my brand new AirPods and at first I was very disappointed to discover that they didn’t have buttons.

Imagine my shock when I discovered they automatically turn on and off when I place them in my ear and take them off. And so far they don’t fall out as easily as the cheap ones do. (When I saw cheap I mean cheap— I got my previous set for $10 at Family Dollar. I had no problems with my $10 set either except I broke pieces off of them within the first couple days).

So to continue writing about my holiday backwards, teenager #1 received kitchen tools from teenager #2 and a new hand mixer from my mother-in-law. She’s baking banana bread now.

Apparently piles of cookies and fruitcake aren’t enough for her.

I’m journaling, blogging, and about to watch another episode of The Tudors. I can’t believe Vale of FURR’s Norse Pride is going home tomorrow— and I am bringing three other kittens to the adoption fair as well.

Fern-Edie is doing well in her new home. And I am starting to hyperventilate a little thinking this might be the last night my bed looks like this:

Vale and Loki

As I came up to my bedroom to start the animals’ night routine, I noticed all three budgies were out. Mama Wink showed me that all her eggs had hatched and I watched her clean shell off her newest chick. We hope to name them Yule, Winter and Christmas if they all survive. I hope they do.

Other highlights of Christmas:

  • The big Christmas mission for the teenager’s mysterious package earlier this week was… her varsity jacket!

YouTube: Teenager opens her varsity jacket

  • We listened to some non traditional Christmas carols extremely loudly in the car. Including “The Christmas Tree’s on Fire.”
  • I earned a place of honor in this year’s Christmas Grace, “Thank you, Lord, for keeping us safe from Corona, well except for Angel.” Ever burst out laughing during a prayer? Now I have.
  • I was asked to make the broccoli for Christmas dinner. My step mom doesn’t trust anyone else with the green vegetables I guess. I sautéed them golden brown in butter with sea salt, too much multicolored peppercorns (I grabbed the wrong jar— oops!) and herbs de Provence.
  • Christmas was much smaller than usual because of the pandemic, so my stepmom decided we would get fresh cut steaks from the butcher. She even ordered one for my brother’s dog. And she wanted to grill them. The temperature dropped drastically while my dad was at the grill and then all the steaks went up in flames. I learned that a good blue cheese dressing can cut the taste of charcoaled steaks.

I guess the last thing I’ll mention is that the teenager got a pet play pen which will come in handy for our work with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Of course, I’ve discovered it houses cats and teenagers.

It’s a pets’ Christmas

Today has been a peaceful and special Christmas Eve. Unwrapping presents with Mimi before breakfast. Breakfast via the Dunkin Donuts drive through.

Breakfast on Christmas Eve was $6.66 before tax

But the best part of the morning was when all the kittens vacated my room. Mama Periwinkle (Wink) let me see her baby chick! I see there is only one egg left— and I’m still not sure if there is a younger chick in there under the older one.

Periwinkle and Peek-a-Boo (Boo-Boo) were bonded females, and even now Boo-Boo seems to protect her “sister” and guard her nest. Yo-yo is a devoted father, but the three birds seem to be raising the family together.

Around lunch time, we video-called the teenager’s grandparents and both teenagers opened their gifts. Teenager #2 cried when upon discovering that my mother in law bought a custom made ornament personalized with name, the year, a musical staff and a drum. The fact that practical strangers were able to discern that many little personal details became a little overwhelming.

But the biggest moment of my Christmas Eve was finally escaping the clutches of Covid enough to deliver Fenrir of the Norse Pride aka Fern aka Fern-Edie now to be Edie to her FURRever home through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. The fact that one of my favorite people adopted her certainly made it even better.

Because she went home with a friend, I made a little care package to introduce the two of them.

And I also gave Nala a Christmas gift. After a nap on my shoulder. The gift—A new bell to replace the one she brought with her from Bird Mania. She broke the clapper out of her old one. She’s already unwrapped it, played with it, and rung it for me.

Update on babies— whether furry or feathered

Today was definitely a day of taking care of animals.

For a good deal of the early morning I didn’t hear any baby bird chirps so I got nervous, but when I do hear chirps sometimes it sounds like another budgie has hatched.

Yo-yo— the green parakeet and the daddy— is a good parent, checking on mama and bringing her food and sometimes helping around the house. Boo-boo is the yellow bird, the female who is usually the alpha and a bit of a bully. The teenager picked Boo-boo and Periwinkle out for me in January 2019. And the two females were best friends.

Boo-boo helps protect the nest.

Around 9 a.m., I took a drive to the Poconos to visit my dad and deliver a Christmas present I helped order for the teenager.

He took me to breakfast and I stood outside the diner puzzled by this sign:

They meant it to say “open” and the servers were trying to convince the customers that it was right.

It’s not. It’s clearly “Nepo.”

Upon my return, we crated seven kittens into two crates to take them to visit our cat foster godmother for vaccinations, dewormer and claw trims. The teenager is pet sitting for her as of Saturday.

Fern, who will be known as Edie, is going home tomorrow. Her new mom, a friend whom I met working at Target, will be picking her up tomorrow and they have never met so I am nervous and excited.

Vale has an approved adoption application and will be going home Saturday at Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab’s adoption event at Petsmart.

Loki, the other sibling from the Norse Pride, will be going to the Petsmart event too. The organization has other approved adoption applications but hasn’t matched everyone yet so my bedroom may be kitten-less by Saturday night.

At the minimum we are hoping Vesta of the Roman Pride (and maybe Mars) will go to Petsmart, too.

Vesta

And someone needs to consider Hermes. He’s about nine months old now, sweet and smart and great at socializing younger cats, but he still doesn’t trust hands.

Hermes

Yuletide whirlwind

Yesterday was the winter solstice— Yule— and the great convergence of Saturn and Jupiter that may have been the Christmas Star of Christian Heritage.

Sugar Cookie and Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

My neighbor Jan and I went on a Christmas season road trip to pick up a package. I wasn’t sure I could make the 90-minute drive alone.

I am grateful to live in such an old fashioned neighborhood that I know what neighbors will have adventures, which will grab me groceries, and who won’t mind grabbing me a coffee.

We stopped at Target and I got my annual bag of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses and treated myself to the new Sugar Cookie Kisses. They have real bits of cookie inside and the white chocolate kiss tastes like icing.

When I got home, the teenagers drove me over to Dollar General and Twin Rivers Music. Dollar General to get the pickle Doritos that are apparently a Dollar General exclusive and Twin Rivers Music for valve oil, a mouthpiece brush, ukulele strings and kazoos.

Teenager #2 thought her kazoo was broken, so teenager #1 had to teach her how to play it (which she did while driving the car!).

YouTube: Christmas Kazoos

YouTube: Review of Sour Pickle Doritos

In honor of Yule, and to celebrate the longest night of the year, I let the teenagers unwrap their stockings (which included some traditional stocking stuffers and some non-traditional items). A lot of make-up, gift certificates for Hyperion Salon and Lucha Bella skin care, candy and snacks, and activity books.

Teenager two got her first paint-by-water book which I bought for her because it featured Sponge Bob. I also got them coloring books of cosmic cats and uni-creatures and a robot faces sticker book.

YouTube: Dumping the stockings

Lunchables Dirt Cake

Activity Books

Teaching the Art of Paint by Water

Review of Oreo Candy Canes

We ate too many of my mother-in-law’s cookies and finished the bag of Doritos so I shouldn’t be surprised that I gained more weight.

Today is a new day and it feels like a clean start thanks to the energy of Yule and I feel a little stronger and more like myself, though still very easy to exhaust.

I got up, cleaned up after one set of cats, shoveled the path for a heating oil delivery, saw my friend Gayle, loaded the dishwasher and started a load of laundry. I tried to pick up some garbage from the house strewn with wrappings and about 5 loads of clean laundry.

Then I worked with Nan by phone. The Fluffy Norse kittens decided to join me on the sunporch and, of course, climbed the Christmas tree.

Fern-Edie in the Christmas Tree

I got the laundry out of the washer and hung it, and teenager #1 made me an egg sandwich, even though by then it was noon.

I tried to clean up the bathroom. Started the dishwasher. And came up to check on the birds.

YouTube: Do we have baby budgies?

And we have one tiny bald, baby budgie!

I am so terrified I will do something to hinder Momma Wink from taking good care of her eggs and baby. I’m especially worried everyone isn’t getting enough to eat.

So finally that brings me to Nala— she’s afraid of something and it might be the parakeets. She’s barbering badly.

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

Budgies laid eggs

So today I was lying in bed recovering from Covid, dizzy and congested, when I noticed that I only have two budgies.

I have three parakeets — Peek a Boo, Periwinkle and Yo Yo. Boo boo is the bold solid yellow budgie; Periwinkle is the blue one. Yo yo is the green male I got later. Boo is female. I thought Wink was male but he was the one sitting in the coconut. And when we found him— he had eggs.

So, looking closer at Wink as “he” came out to see the food and nesting materials I put out for him, he appears to be a she and Yo appears to be his mate.

I guess Wink’s face and beak look so blue because she’s blue.

The generic weekly update in the midst of (much needed) George Floyd inspired social unrest and dialogue

It is 8:30 a.m.

Saturday morning.

The house remains still and peaceful except for the whir of fans and the occasional vocalization of a kitten, probably Misty (Mistofelees) looking for his brother, Fog. He’s distraught because I almost closed his tail in the door.

Several times today I have paused and interrupted my normal routine— to text a friend, have a Twitter conversation, drink coffee on the couch instead of in my bedroom with Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo.

One voice in the back of my head says, “You slept in, so now you’re an hour behind. You need to start that laundry and get it on the line, and that includes stripping your bed, and probably the cover on your weighted blanket. Just about every floor in the house needs to be washed with Pine Sol too. And the teenager never cleaned the cat boxes yesterday like you asked her to.”

Man, it’s exhausting just listening to that voice.

And already this morning I managed to stab myself.

I have this very basic practical set of Chicago Cutlery knives that for the first 20 years I never put in the dishwasher. Somehow, in the last day or two since I did my traditional hand wash dishes, every knife from that set is dirty. Six steak knives, the mini cleaver, the paring knife, the tomato knife, the kitchen scissors, all of them.

And last night, after a long work week where I never quite knew if I would ever receive the respect I deserve in the midst of some major ordeals, I just threw every knife in the silverware basket. Point up. The way every home ec and kitchen safety teacher tells you never to do.

I even looked in the dishwasher and chastised myself and said I should stop being super lazy and reload the top shelf so I could at least use that plastic flap that holds the knives.

But I didn’t.

Because this week brought me to new places. Another grant came back with with the largest award we ever received from that funder. Our Pennsylvania county finally went yellow. The primary happened.

But just like at work where I often feel like my voice is not heard and my experience and work style is not respected nor appreciated for what I can contribute, everything seems to stay the same.

George Floyd is still dead.

The two party system defends only the elite and anyone outside of that elite will always be marginalized.

So I slammed my dishwasher door and ran it not only with my “good” knives inside but also with them point side up.

And somehow, when reaching for a clean coffee mug that I never put on the bottom shelf but I did this time, I gave myself a superficial stab wound in the middle of my palm.

Probably because I was distracted by a long list of housework and not staying present in the moment.

This is not how people should live.

I gaze out the front window (oh, damn, I need to trim the roses too). The birds chatter and chirp outside oblivious to how humans destroy each other and our shared habitat.

But Space X Dragon launched successfully. So we have reached phase 1 of our transition into the society we glimpsed in Wall*e.

Which coincidentally was the first movie the teenager ever saw in a theater. I believe she was 4, and I recollect that it was somewhere around this time (must google). She wore a cute dress. We saw the movie at Bethlehem’s Boyd Theater. I didn’t want her first movie to be in a modern boring theater.

She was transfixed.

So now it’s 9 a.m. and I think back to my transformative experiences this week.

  • I lost 4 pounds in the last day. (Amazing what happens when you resume drinking water, eating fruit instead of candy and chips, and stop eating half a pizza every four days.)
  • I started baby steps toward making my body work effectively again.
  • I filled out a self evaluation form at work, which I think fairly depicts my successes and my struggles. I was trying to be honest and transparent but I feel I will be viewed as scathing.
  • I had a good visit with my doctor, noting that my blood pressure is going down.
  • In conjunction with those previous two bullets, I video chatted with my therapist who specializes in work stress and it was an intense appointment. I was drained for the rest of the day and ate nothing but a handful of cashews until 5 p.m. That was my most recent bout of binging half a pizza and Little Caesar’s stuffed crazy bread. Which was a disappointment. Stuffed crazy bread tastes nothing like real crazy bread and the cheese inside was weird. The bread itself was soggy. The outside tasted like a soggy Olive Garden breadstick without the addictive outer coating and the inside was overloaded with a heavy but tasteless mozzarella.
  • I didn’t vote in the primary. I always vote. But I researched all the candidates and in the races where I wanted a voice there was no opposition. It bothers me deeply that I did not vote.

And George Floyd.

And the struggles of every “minority,” every person labeled for their skin color, their body shape or function, their religion, their choice of dress, their economic status, their sexuality, their gender, their resistance to be the status quo, their inability to be the same, the non-conformists, the thinkers, the doers.

George Floyd is dead.