Today I slept in until nearly 6 a.m., waking only when I heard The Teenager rise and leave the house for her dog walk client. I laid in bed until almost 6:20. To me, that is the ultimate laziness as I usually begin work at 6:30 a.m.
It’s been another delightful birthday day of celebration. I started the morning with breakfast with some of my Stitch Fix crew, with Southern Candy arriving at Big Papa’s early to bestow the table with some decorations.
There were cards and laughter and Southern Candy ordered her regular biscuits and gravy only to discover the biscuits were not biscuits but English muffins. So much commotion ensued of the giggling and carrying on sort, making jokes about what to call biscuits and gravy that does not contain biscuits, because English muffins with gravy sounds gross.
We had a discussion about making our own biscuits and bringing them and comparing making biscuits with shortening versus lard.
I ordered a spinach, green pepper and feta omelet hoping that the vegetables would help heal the damage done by my weekend of caffeine, sugar, fat and grease.
That might be too much to hope for as my blood pressure was 116/96.
The next item on the agenda was to take FURR foster tripod Louise to a meet-and-greet event at the Phillipsburg Petco, where she behaved like a trooper (even if she did spill her litter box so she could hide under it).
I was able to finish the last set of changes to Coffee in the Morning by Larry Sceurman on the laptop while chatting with another FURR volunteer to happens to be the only person I know eagerly and reliably waiting for my next novel.
I came home, cleaned up my room and finished Netflix’s Queen Charlotte, which, as all the Bridgerton tales do, has quite the sentimentality regarding love and relationships.
I also ate a rather large “elephant ear” with The Teenager that Little Dog’s mom had procured.
I’m off to check my blood pressure, take my evening meds, pack a lunch, and decide on dinner. But I just may allow myself a birthday beverage– as my birthday weekend officially launched with a gin gimlet with photography Joan and her other half, Randy.
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.
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…
Today was a typical day in the crazy menagerie of our home. But it was delightful. I’ve come to accept that Saturdays are overscheduled and hectic. Sundays are a rest day.
F. Bean Barker woke at 5:30 am— a normal part of the routine in her old home. No one gets up that early here.
I went to bed around 2:30 am so when Ms. Black Bean woke up and barked/whined/howled for 30 minutes, I texted teenager #1. She went down, covered the dog’s crate with a blanket and laid down on the couch beside the dog to go back to sleep.
After that 45-minute disturbance, I woke at 9:30 am. The teenagers finished picking up the house to prepare for the notary arriving at 1 pm.
We cared for our pets and crated Vesta and Minerva of the FURR Roman Pride for the adoption event at Petsmart.
We then stopped at Dunkin on the way home because I wanted to do something to thank my husband for taking the time to come sign this paperwork and for supporting me in the refinancing of the house. It’s been about 20 months since he’s lived here with me. Neither one of us has filed for divorce. So his name is still on the deed of the house and the current mortgage.
This new mortgage will pay off my car, save me $300 a month, though also extend my term five years. Now instead of the house being paid off by the time I am 55, I will be 60. Mortgage payment alone on the the refinancing will pay off is 50% of my take-home monthly income and that makes me nervous.
My hope is that once the pandemic ends and life shifts, new opportunities and stability will allow me to apply extra money to the principal.
And teenager #1 will take her drivers exam Tuesday. If she passes, her dad and I will have a massive insurance bill so my solace is that if something should happen to my car, at least it is paid for.
Teenager’s dad loved his new cold foam chocolate stout cold brew. The closing almost went without a hitch, but Fog decided to saunter across the table amid the notary’s pile of papers. Cats are not allowed on the table. Especially when we have guests.
The teenager got ready for work and we watched an episode of Canine Intervention on Netflix. I wish they had more episodes.
I dropped her off at Tic Toc Diner. I then went to get the kittens.
Those adorable tuxedo sisters then went to Petco (Greenwich Township, NJ) for their adoption habitat.
Vesta, having spent about three weeks in the habitat at the other Petco, sat there and shook in fear.
I came home planning to walk F. Bean Barker with our neighbors, Jan and her Ladyship Sobaka. But Bean only made it a half-block.
She’s just exhausted.
And then Jan and I went to pick up Nan and have dinner at Tic Toc. The teenager was worried about not having a Braille menu for Nan. As if we need a menu.
The teenager told me the founder stuffed with crab looked really good as the cook took a lot of care in its preparation and plating. I ordered it. With coleslaw. And the silly waitress got me french fries instead.
The dish reminded me of a crab cake wrapped in other fish. So good and a ridiculous amount of food for the price.
After dinner, Nan and I hung out at my house until it was time to retrieve our waitress from the diner.
And then when she got home, she unboxed this month’s box from Witch’s Gifts. These items are so carefully curated. To see the unboxing: March Box Witch’s Gifts
These boxes (and my tarot and witchy podcasts) remind me that I need to pay more attention to my spiritual and magical development.
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!
It is almost 12:45 am. Tuesday. I’ve been home from work about 2o minutes. I started the dishwasher and poured a beer— that may also include crème de cacao and peanut butter whiskey.
It’s about 15 degrees outside which means my parking pad area was icy and hard for the car to climb, but the Jetta is safely in the garage.
I just sat down on my bed to write this blog entry about the joys, challenges and lessons of my Monday. Let’s go in reverse chronological order— start at the most recent and work to 24 hours ago.
Challenge #1– the Belkin charging cord I got for Christmas appears to have stopped working. Now I have sworn by Belkin cords for years. And they all last years. Why has this one failed? I’m too tired to troubleshoot. I whipped out my new Anker cord I bought as a spare when I saw it on sale. And teenager #1 needed one. Bought one for all of us, including teenager #2.
Challenge #2 and Lesson #1– I still suck at QC at the Bizzy Hizzy. The official goal is 130. I did 89 on Friday and 82 today. I am not accustomed to failing at assignments and it’s compelling exercise to try to improve at something at which you really seem to be bad.
Which brings me to… Joy 1– working in a warehouse with a wide variety of people has shown me how eager people are to help when you appreciate them. As I have mentioned before (see Rip it off fast like a bandaid), the ability to take criticism seems to be unusual at the Bizzy. I had another colleague come up to me today and thank me for being agreeable and willing to listen.
Joy #2 — cherishing the leftovers of last night’s Peruvian chicken with red peppers and Brussel sprouts.
Challenge #3– understanding how this video of my dear cat Fog reached 100 views in less than 24 hours: Fog purring. And now that I go to copy the link it’s up to 453 views a mere 5 hours later. Why?
Joy #3– meeting Barbara at Petco. She is one of the volunteers who helps care for the kittens in the habitats up for adoption through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
Challenge #4– cats are a**holes. I had to very forcefully remove Fog from my room last night because he kept dangling from the parakeet cage. I cried myself to sleep because he’s slept with me for about a month now and I didn’t feel like I could rest without him.
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
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:
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.
Nothing serious. The day-to-day realities of life.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the teenager had some medical issues. I have a dental appointment for an adjustment to my crown that was a mild nightmare before the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s on the 17th.
My favorite kitten got out and was missing for 24 hours this week. Thanks to all my neighbors who offered to help or kept and eye out for Fog.
So his brother, Misty, and I went walking in case Fog was afraid to come home.
Fog found his way home on his own, as cats often do. But he no longer had a collar.
In Nala news, (for those that don’t know, she’s my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined our family in January) she has stopped plucking and has started barbering. This means she was pulling out her feathers, which, like with a teenager who “cuts,” releases endorphins that soothe. But barbering is the habit of eating the feathers but not removing them.
I hope this is a sign of progress.
This morning, the teenager and I went to Petco to get Fog a new collar (and we made sure all critters had tags with their name, address and phone—except Opie who eats his collar and since he’s microchipped AND is an amputee, we hope the neighborhood would “know” he belongs to us. He does have a tag, he just refuses to keep it on).
And we dognapped the neighbor’s sassy Maltese-Yorky for the day.
Lastly, I’m still struggling with some rather difficult itching. It’s a stress thing. The heat, stress, and my already overactive immune system (due to a myriad of pollen allergies and history of contact dermatitis) is prompting random hives. One or two, here or there, which despite daily antihistamines is getting worse not better.
Once a hive pops up, if I as much as touch it, it will stay and itch for days. I have some that won’t go on my belly, arms and butt right now. My thighs come and go.
So I post this things just to remind every one that despite what perfection people post to the internet, there are always struggles we all face, small and large.
But we had to wait until after our Saturday chores of laundry, garage cleaning, dishes and vacuuming.
Then we emptied both the cages and dumped all the toys on my bed.
Now I often switch perches and toys between Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and my budgies. Keeps everybody from getting bored and I think the budgies are teaching Nala to play. She often seems afraid of toys.
The teenager worked really hard updates the bird corner of my room. It looks great— but one problem… The kittens can easily hop to the top of the cages.
I’m spending time with my cockatoo, having already completed the Wednesday evening trash collection.
The teenager is carting garbage from the basement and organizing the tool bench in preparation for a trip to the hardware store. She hopes to lay a new floor in the mud room— the same mud room where the kittens shattered a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid.
I suggested the teenager use the basement experience for her gym log. I’m encouraging her to find unorthodox ways to fulfill her gym requirements.
We opened a mini-container of Oreo cookies today and I can’t even remember the last time I had an Oreo. It was delicious.
I have cat food and cat litter on auto-ship from Petco. With the four cats, we go through a lot of kibble, three cans of cat food a day and about 60 pounds of cat litter every three weeks.
Petco had my litter listed as “on back order” and I was almost out. To be on the safe side, I ordered 60 pounds of cat litter from Target.com. I ordered them at the same time.
All of the Petco order came today— but the lid of one of the cat litter containers smashed and led to 10 pounds of cat litter leaking out of the corners of the cardboard box.
Only two of the three Target bottles of litter came today, so I suspect we’ll see the FedEx driver again tomorrow.
Finally, my stimulus payment arrived today. I immediately transferred $1000 into savings. I plan on using $200 for groceries and the hardware store. The remaining $500 is going onto my American Express to pay off most of my medical bills.
I’ll have to reconfigure the budget I’ve been working with. March turned out to be a very expensive month.
I’m also not looking forward to the next round of utility bills— electric, water and sewer are going to spike.
I thought maybe something insightful would emerge as I typed this, but no.
Some of this might be repeat for my regular followers, but I thought it would be nice to compile some of the animal news here.
Lord knows happy pet news can be beneficial to everyone’s spirits.
Opie and Oz, our two male tiger stripe cats, both turned 9 this month. Nine! The teenager and I raised Oz—the big, dumb, cuddly teddy bear—from a three-month-old kitten rescued from the local animal shelter.
The teenager, then turning seven, wanted an older pug but her father said no dogs and certainly not a pug. So we explored the kittens, basically because my husband trusted me more raising cats.
Oz was one of several kittens from a litter the animal shelter named after Pepsi products and his original name was Dasani. Oz was the tiniest kitten with the biggest damn paws. He grew into a big cat, with an even bigger docile personality.
The teenager named him after The Wizard of Oz but also after Scott Green’s werewolf character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then her favorite TV show.
I made the decision to put Oz down when he was three because he had recurring urinary crystals and we couldn’t afford the $1000+ surgery he needed to flush the crystals out of his urethra or the even more expensive surgery to cut off his penis and make him a bigger hole to pee from so he could pass future crystals.
Luckily, the veterinary practice had a young vet who had never performed the surgery and offered to use him as a test case for $600. At that point, that is what I was almost spending to put him down. I think it was $200 more expensive that killing him. So I took the deal.
That’s why Oz can only eat wet food.
And Oz had a fear of drinking water— because he associated it with the pain of passing the crystals when he urinated.
He has since learned to drink lots of water.
But he still has an obsessive desire to eat kibble.
Opie, our other male cat, is a major badass. Super loyal. Super cat-like. Some cats act more like stereotypical cats that others. Opie is pure feline.
In addition to a birthday this month, Opie also celebrates the one year anniversary of his leg amputation. Opie is a kitty cat bone cancer survivor.
We took Opie in when he was seven months old after friends rescued him from a feral mama. They had planned to keep him but their other cats picked on him.
Oz was still a kitten at the time and the two got along beautifully and look very similar.
Opie was our head mouser, but the kittens might give him a challenge.
Misty was the first of three kittens my daughter trapped between late December and late January. They were born probably in late October under my neighbor’s porch.
Misty was the runt. When the others went out to hunt with Mama, he stayed behind.
My daughter worked very hard to tame him and earn his trust.
We trapped the kitten that later got naked Smoky next. The neighbor named it. And it found a good home. But now a theme was developing.
Fog was the last one trapped. I named her to fit the theme. She was on her own for about two weeks after Smoky. She would reach into the trap from the side, slip her paw into the food and ladle it out of the trap lick by lick.
When we reunited her with her brother, my heart melted and I couldn’t give her up.
The Budgies: Boo, Wink and Yo
Peek-a-Boo (Boo-boo), so named because she was so spastic when she came home we thought she had a hurt wing, is the dominant bird in the group. And the fattest. She is pure yellow.
The teenager bought her and Periwinkle (Wink) for me as a Christmas present. Wink is the pale blue bird and the most skittish of the group. She and Boo were bonded from the pet store.
I added Yo-Yo (Yo) to the group last fall because I really wanted a traditional green parakeet and to add a male. He is vivid green with some yellow and this amazing navy blue tail.
The teenager made a lot of progress hand-feeding them but hasn’t maintained the training.
And that leaves… Nala.
Nala is a four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo with a lot of attitude. I have no large bird experience but she took to me. We brought her home in early January.
She can be very obstinate, which is very common in cockatoos, but we are progressing well.
In the beginning, toweling too often became necessary to keep her from being too aggressive but now that we have learned more about each other it is easier for me to work with her and I can often get her to do something she really doesn’t think is fair— like go to bed—without even threatening to towel her.
It helps that I finally found a treat she can’t resist. She turns her nose up at everything.
She’s displaying a new behavior that I call the “step up” noise and she uses it when she wants to confirm my step up command or is asking me to come get her or sometimes as a demand, like when I won’t let her have my coffee.