Pets, vaccines and other ruminations

I started this blog entry in the middle of the night as I often do, thinking I would lead about how I think we should be more like my cancer-surviving three-legged senior cat, Opie. He’s calm, brave and steadfast. He doesn’t scream for breakfast like the impatient cats. And he holds his ground with the 50-pound puppy. He doesn’t even look concerned when she swats at him like she’s an overgrown kitten.

But then several of my cats— three out of four including Opie— decided to get me out of bed before my alarm. And Opie was uncharacteristically naughty.

I think they decided they didn’t want to wait for breakfast anymore.

My estranged husband still works for Lafayette College and they had a vaccination clinic scheduled on campus today. Spouses were eligible so he arranged an appointment for me.

I have strong opinions about the pandemic, my Covid experience and the vaccines, but I recognize that our government, other countries and probably employers will require vaccines for travel, work and life in general. So I just want to get it over with.

After cuddling with Louise, our latest FURR foster, I went to bed and slept very restlessly. One of my work colleagues got her second dose of the Moderna vaccine yesterday and I watched her develop more symptoms as the shift continued. My empathy went out, remembering my own struggles to work with the initial phases of Covid.

Speaking of life at the Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix warehouse, I did about one-third of my shift in pick and the rest of my night in QC. By my estimation, I nailed my partial pick metric. They also returned the timer to the cart. In QC, I managed 67 fixes. That’s about 84%.

And we had mini bundt cakes.

So after spending more of my night than I’d like to listening to news about the pandemic and the economy and the issues in Europe and AstraZeneca, I wake up to an email that my vaccine appointment has been canceled.

The FDA and the CDC have warned that the same blood clot risks that exist with the AstraZeneca vaccine exist with Johnson & Johnson.

And briefly, the dog keeps trying to eat some crazy stuff and I finally did some grocery shopping at Lidl with my good friend Nan. Nan, as a blind person, enjoys grocery shopping with me. After shopping, we ate pastry we bought at Lidl in the parking lot of Dunkin.

Conversations with Louise

As my latest blog entry will detail, we have a new guest in our house, Louise the Foster Cat, a rescue available through FURR. She recently came to FURR as a mysterious stray with a leg injury that resulted in an amputation.

She’s enjoying her convalescence with us, and at night (when I return from work) we have long conversations as I try to gain her trust.

I snuggle down on the floor beside her and ask her about her day.

Me: What did you do tonight?

Louise: I slept in my basket under the bed and once night fell and the house quieted down I got a drink of water and slept behind the curtain.

Me: That sounds pleasant. I did my normal thing in the warehouse but man my body hurts tonight. I didn’t know if I was going to make it through the shift. Emotionally I had a lot on my mind.

Louise: They cut off my leg and keep shuffling me from place to place. And your house is nuts! So many noises and creatures. Can you scratch my neck? It’s really itchy and I do like attention. It’s just your house is scary. People in and out of this room. And this thing under the bed chased me.

Me: Sorry about that. That was the Roomba. It keeps the floor clean. I didn’t intend to vacuum until you got settled but somehow it got set off. You’re doing really well with your balance. You’re right. I should be more grateful. Can I get you some food?

Louise: I don’t like the wet stuff but kibble would be nice.

Me: Do you mind if I sit next to you and have some homemade Easter chocolate?

Louise: Not at all. But try not to be spastic. I need some calm in my life.

Me: Sounds like good advice, Louise.

Saturday Animal Adventures, part two: new arrival

Last night I got a text from my foster godmother asking if we could take a special needs cat Louise who needed some time and some love to not only overcome shyness but also to convalescence.

You see, our new foster cat is a friendly stray who had a leg injury that looked like it might have come from being hit by a car. The vet had to amputate her leg last month (almost exactly a month ago). And it’s the same leg our Opie lost to cancer!

I picked her up this afternoon and she is a gentle beauty. So soft!

I allowed Opie to be in my room when we opened her crate hoping that seeing another three-legged cat might give her some self-confidence. It certainly might if she ever sees Opie stand up to our 50-pound puppy.

I also decided to sort and put away my laundry with her present so she could see me move around my room without looking at her specifically. She did make eyes to everyone as a hello before hiding under my bed.

I filmed some first day videos, they are rather boring but serve as a nice “This is where we started” marker. To see Louise’s YouTube playlist, click here.


PS — Teenager #1 had another shift at Tic Toc Family Restaurant today so teenager #2 and I made plans to have a dinner date at the diner. But when Bean the giant puppy ate her glasses, Teenager #2 spent the day with her mom at the mall and couldn’t make it back in time. So, I dined solo.

Speaking of Bean the Dog, a funny thing happened when Bean, her lead, the hammock and I got twisted up. I fell, as I often do, and landed on concrete and mud. My new Democracy Jeans are now literally dirty.

I expect my right palm and the outside of my left upper thigh will be very bruised tomorrow and I have a pretty interesting scrape extending about four inches down my left wrist.

Teenager #1 and I said earlier that today was canceled— maybe we should have listened to our own idea.

But, the good news is, I let the teen pick my meal once I selected the macaroni and cheese special. She delivered the pasta, potato salad, cucumber salad and French fries.

Dinner at Tic Toc

I am always impressed by the playing at the restaurant. The sprinkles of dried herb really make the dish look vibrant. The macaroni and cheese had a smooth hearty texture (I could only eat half of it). The cheese mix was not as exotic as I make at home, but not as creamy and Velveeta-y artificial as a place like Wawa.

I loved the cucumber salad. Crispy. Tangy. Wet but not soggy.

And the potato salad… Not bad. I am not a fan of the yellow potato salads. When I tasted this, the initial flavor was overwhelmingly sweet, which is odd. It quickly mellowed on my tongue and I enjoyed what appeared to be peppers and carrots in the mix.

The more I eat at Tic Toc, the more I marvel at the value for the price.

Saturday Animal Adventures, part 1: Deliveries

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.

Jupiter reuniting with siblings, video here.

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…

Ironing out the anxieties

Today’s blog post will ramble through my everyday activities as they often do, but I will also attempt to show how attitude, reaching out and communication can overcome life’s anxieties.

First thing this morning I saw a post from my new-ish internet friend Fausta advertising her one day free seminar on Zoom covering Mindful Self-Compassion.

We were on our way out the door first thing this morning, teenager #1 and I, to take our kitty cat osteosarcoma survivor, Opie, to a new vet, Canyon River Run, to have the lump on his neck checked.

Although in the pandemic era, we only met the vet tech, teenager #1 and I were very pleased with their service and demeanors. The prices were reasonable, too. They even called my former vet’s office (Wright’s Veterinary in Bethlehem) when I didn’t have Opie’s most up to date shots.

The vet reported that in her opinion the lump of his neck is not cancer as it is clearly in the skin and not deeper. I have to follow up because the verbal report relayed to me said it would need to be surgically removed but I don’t know if it would be a cosmetic one or a diagnostic tool to confirm her opinion.

That was the first of several anxieties addressed.

On a side note, I tried the cold brew at Wendy’s. It was quite delightful. Strong but not too bitter.

I also contacted Bird Mania, the establishment where I acquired Nala, to sow them our new photos. (They approved, Joan.) I hope to take my four baby budgies to them tomorrow as they should be young enough to hand tame and rehome.

My bird overpopulation is another anxiety addressed. Though catching and surrendering my chicks is another.

The teenagers had some issues last night, some of which remind me of college roommate situations. We shall work it all out, but since the vet took longer than I anticipated and I worked a 10-hour shift last night, my phone battery was down to 15% as the conversations continued throughout the night. I’m glad we all started a conversation about it as that’s really the only way we can initiate a solution.

Before all this started, on my first of several 10-minute breaks last night, I used my pick Chromebook to request a late start next week for Fausta’s seminar. That’s when I also noticed one of my supervisors had sent me an email requesting my presence for a chat.

Later that night. New anxiety. In several of my previous work environments, meetings never meant anything positive.

My final break came. My meeting with the leaders was 10:15 p.m. Break was 10 to 10:10 p.m. I wasn’t sure what to do with that five minutes. So, me being me, I returned to QC and folded one more fix before leaving my table at 10:15.

It turns out that my “chat” was to check in about how I’d been doing split between QC and pick. And to announce that as of Monday, they would test changing my basic schedule to move between pick and QC in a regular fashion, starting the “morning” (I assume this means the first half of my shift as we start at 3:30 p.m.) in pick and moving to QC later.

We talked a bit about numbers and strategies and once again, as I have mentioned to other leaders, I reiterated that I know I will never be the fastest though I know I will grow more efficient. I try to make up for my lack of speed and natural dexterity by being dependable and flexible and finding ways to work smarter. I also pointed out that while I haven’t hit the best metrics, my metrics are consistent.

“Can we clone you?” one leader asked.

Finally, I bought some clothes at the Stitch Fix Employee Store. I wasn’t going to visit the store this time around, but in the end my issue with ill-fitting and disappearing clothes urged me onward.

The store has been open almost two weeks so there is not much left. And some of the things I most wanted weren’t available. I wanted jeans as I’m still not thin enough to fit in my size four wardrobe from the pre-Corona days but the hand-me-down size eights are getting too baggy.

I also wanted nice t-shirts. Everything I own appears to be sleeveless or shapeless.

As Joan the photographer reported when she got her first Stitch Fix box, the Democracy Jeans are comfortable but the zippers-for-pretty get caught on everything. These are beige camo, not a print I wanted. I didn’t want a print at all. They are skinny cut, not my favorite cut either. And they are too long for me, which makes them very wrinkled.

The Michael Stars top is amazing, fits great, looks very feminine and so comfortable. And I feared it would be too big.

Finally, the yoga top/lazy woman’s sports bra thing from Free People movement actually holds everything in like a sports bra but looks really cute. It retails for $30 which is insane. But I’m a forty-something woman who is very surprised this skimpy top works for me.

Prelude to Wheels

Yesterday indeed was Monday. Or shall I say the day before yesterday. When I started this entry it was 1 a.m. on Wednesday.

I started with household chores on Monday and felt very productive. Teenager #1 and I took the dog for a 5,000 step walk around the neighborhood.

Here’s a video of Bean eating icy snow: Bean and the ice

I sat down after lunch to spend some time with Nala the Goffin’s cockatoo and read more of book three of my Fashion and Fiends series, this one called Recovery.

Teenager #1 decided she wanted to go to her dad’s for the afternoon. I wanted to go get my $1 medium coffee at Dunkin. By the time we got organized we were leaving later than I would have liked. And then the dog pooped on the floor. And then the dog peed on the floor.

I decided this meant I needed coffee to survive the night. The line was ridiculous but I had already made the order via mobile so I was committed.

And then the teen forgot her keys. So I had to drop her off at her dad’s office instead of apartment.

Somehow I made it to the Bizzy Hizzy on time.

And I was assigned to pick. I hit 144 and walked about 25,000 steps in the Stitch Fix warehouse.

The big news yesterday was taking teenager #1 for her driving road test, which due to Covid is a swing around the parking lot with the testing official watching from the curb. She passed.

I ended up in pick again last night, but got moved to QC at 10:30 pm.

And now, with Zoom classes and homework done, the teenager has taken my car to run errands— mostly shopping for her pets.

And yes, she’s going to stop and fill up the car with gas and get coffee for mama.

The crazy, the lazy and the witchy

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.

Minerva (left) and Vesta

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.

I challenged the Chromebook and lost

I only got five hours sleep last night. My emotions were a mess, my body in pain, and I had a sinking suspicion some of my issues are menstrual cycle/hormone related since in addition to my S1 joint issues, I also feel all my cramps in my lower back. PMS week is supposed to start this weekend, but as a forty-something woman I think the party is starting early.

I treated the teens to iced coffee at Wawa. They have a $2 special going on right now and I gotta say I still don’t like Wawa’s iced coffee. I don’t like their flavors. The coffee tastes week. And they never put enough ice in, and I’m the woman that asks for less ice at Dunkin’.

I get to work at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy. I see I am once again assigned to QC so I take some ibuprofen and head to my favorite table— Valley 1, line 1B, table 2B.

And after the first hour, the supervisor who also has a disability comes over.

“Angel,” he says, “would you do us a favor and move to pick?”

“Now you know I’m glad to say yes. When?”

I’m thinking after lunch. Nope. He says to go after I finish my cart— which is two fixes!

I only picked 120, and at 11:29 pm my Samsung Chromebook warned me it had 34 minutes left. It died 20 minutes later. Apparently it can’t do math. I only had two more items left to complete my cart, and one was one aisle away. We had to manually get the last items as you can’t restart a pick from the middle.

And I felt better doing all of this than I have all week. Even despite wearing rather impractical shoes.

I came home and took out F. Bean Barker (who I learned is half pitbull/half mastiff). The neighbor’s dog barked as she was mid squat and she refused to go to the bathroom, too afraid.

And then she had explosive, watery diarrhea in the dining room and downstairs bathroom. And we ran out of paper towels.

All in all— an adventurous day.

Animals.

So this is Freja.

Freja is the six-month-old puppy of teenager #2’s dog. Or something thereabouts. Last night, the teens went to visit teenager #2’s mom and somehow we got Freja. A week trial.

Meanwhile, Mama Wink has shown me not one more baby as I suspected but two.

I’m going to contact the bird people and see if they have anyone that wants baby budgies.

My favorite cat litters

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!