What does your Monday look like?

What does your Monday look like? Did it look like mine? The teenager finished painting the custom litter box she and her uncle made yesterday from my neighbor’s old TV shelf.

Nan came over to work and I invited her to stay for lunch— we had the chicken feta spinach sausages from Park Avenue Market and they were so good Fog had to curl up and play adorable on Nan’s lap.

And Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and I hung out in the sun because it’s certainly warmer outside than inside.

Educational Videographer

There are elements of every week that feel harder than the previous week.

I think I have determined that if I don’t move enough and I sit at desks and in similar circumstances my spine cannot handle it. Perhaps I am a candidate for a standing desk.

I spent yesterday cold and in pain, rotating my chores with cuddling kittens.

The teenager went with her uncle today to build a cat litter box for her room. She’s on her way home so I’m anxious to see how it went.

I was trying to determine what to do with my day when I got an email from my friend Gayle— yes, the same Gayle with whom I walk and who is designing ASPIRE to Autonomy’s annual report— “If only you lived closer…”

And me being me, I said “I’ll be right over.”

What was her dilemma?

Filming how to video mini lectures for her classes in the graphic design department at Northampton Community College.

It was fun to help her discuss magazine layout, master pages and style sheets in one video and cutting and scoring in the next.

Then we went for a walk. Gayle had new shoes she needed to break in before her 9-mile walk on Friday. And my back did just fine on the 4,000 step promenade.

Gayle has new sneakers

She took me for a walk to Fountain Hill, past the house where she used to live. We stopped to talk to Violet who used to feed all the stray cats and I noticed a pretty cool stick. And I stopped at Dunkin on the way home as the Eagles were playing so I got a $1 iced coffee.

Nala: Nine month update

It’s hard to believe Nala has been in our family nine months already.

She is no longer plucking and is truly a very pretty bird— especially where I forgot I was wearing red lip gloss and I kissed her leaving pink overtones on her fluffy white feathers.

When I don’t have new toys for her, I try to recycle parts of her old toys to help keep her occupied— especially since new toys often scare her and she won’t touch them for weeks or even months. Except for her favorite toy, which I always keep in storage for a special surprise (and she destroys it in five minutes or less).

How to occupy a bird— a video of my latest Nala “busy box.”

I also put her cage closer to the window so she could see out and she ate my window sill. Got bored one afternoon and ate a large chunk out of it.

This is totally my fault as I usually let her sit outside of her cage and since the pandemic hit, she often sits unattended in my bedroom as she doesn’t go anywhere but I learned the hard way like any toddler she can think up new ways of destruction even when I think I have “bird-proofed.” Now she is away from the wood work and peeling the paint off the wall.

The teenager has taught her to “give kisses” and “boop,” maybe I will find a video or film one. She will only do these tricks with the teenager. No one else.

She loves to chase the cats and dogs when they visit. She adores French fries and pizza and an occasional banana or apple.

She can be cuddly. She is always a brat. She likes to groom my hair.

I bought her a perch for the shower and she loves to play in water if I put it in my cupped hands.

And now that her wing feathers have grown back, she can fly. But only if something scares her. And she hasn’t mastered landing.

When this naughty bird can fly… I’m in trouble.

This is her playing: Nala with cat toy

The first foster departs

And now there are four.

We have four cats.

We have four birds.

We have four foster kittens.

Our five kitten litter that we are fostering for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, that we named after Greek gods and nicknamed “the Greek Pride,” is approaching 5 months old.

Artemis, now Artemus, was the most social and the most cuddly of the group. Today, he went home with his new family.

I’m glad it was a busy day, and I’m also glad Artemus’ sibling is a therapy cat with his own Facebook page because this allows me to keep up with Artemus’ adjustment to his new home.

Sketch & Artemus (Marshall on the stairs)

I even saw a video!

My heart started today with a touch of sadness so I’m glad I spent the day with people I enjoy.

  • Yesterday I took all the carrots we received during the summer food program and diced them in the Ninja.
  • Nan came over to work in the morning and eventually we plan to do a Mother Maiden Crone themed piece, discussing a multi-generational experience of the pandemic.
  • Nan and I sneaked to the drive through for cold beverages, but we only spent $2 and some change.
  • The teenager and I spent a lot of time cleaning so there may be a tidy home in our future.
  • The teenager’s father brought me my favorite chicken salad and not one but TWO quarts of half and half from Aldi.
  • My mother-in-law brought picnic leftovers.
  • My stepmom gave me fresh cantaloupe that she says is the best she ever had in her life.
  • The teenager and I started watching the documentary Pick of the Litter on Netflix.

As if this wasn’t enough joy for today, the teenager and I hung out with Darnell and Amber tonight— trading some of my unfiltered chicken stock (tomorrow I will strain it and bring him his official portion) for some leftover chili.

After some work (yes, even though it is a holiday), we had some raucous and fun conversation over margaritas and a home cooked meal.

And we all know how I appreciate a meal.

Tomorrow might be as zany as today, but I’m ready.

Artemis becomes Artemus

One of the teenager’s all-time favorite movies is Wild Wild West. I’m a Will Smith fan so I admit she inherited the taste from me.

This is her favorite scene in the 1999 film: “Touch my boobies”.

She probably is not familiar with the 1965 television series of the same name.

Well, Artemis’ new family wanted to meet him because of his name— you see, they were looking for a companion cat for their 2-year-old certified therapy/emotional support cat, Marshall, because Marshall has an older brother cat who doesn’t have the play drive to keep up.

And his new dad shares a name with Jim West, and I hope they don’t mind me sharing. So Artemis is now Artemus Gordon.

The new family leaves for vacation Monday so they finalized their adoption of Artemis now Artemus and we get to watch him for one more week!

We’re very happy Artemus will have a good home with some true cat people and kitty cat siblings!

Adoption nerves

We received a text Wednesday night.

Artemis has received an approved adoption application. Our first foster litter may be losing a member today as he moves to his FURRever home. Today at 1:30, Artemis meets his potential new family at PetSmart, as part of an in-store adoption event.

Does this mean we might never see him again? Does this mean he might never see his siblings again?

This little gent, and his siblings, have brought so much love and joy into our lives— kittens are such magnificent creatures to be around.

So I just had to take a minute to post, and remind everyone to adopt don’t shop. That my home might be a little quieter today and Artemis and his siblings might be lost without each other… but hopefully he will have much love in his new family. Though really, two kittens from the same litter are like having one cat in two halves— if you are new to cat world consider that.

Greek Pride: FURR kittens at almost 3 weeks of fostering

Humans often create intense bonds with their pets. Sure, it’s emotionally fulfilling to have a creature that sits with you, listens to you and, if it’s a mammal or needy cockatoo, cuddles with you.

Other pets, like fish, have a calming effect — watching them swim. Reptiles give a sense of the wild and of adventure even within your own home.

We had a red-footed tortoise for about a decade, a childhood companion of the teenager, who despite her rather boring demeanor was actually quite a character and a low maintenance (but entertaining) pet. And a good meteorologist. She always knew when a big storm was coming.

My current cats—all freakin’ FOUR of them—bring a sense of chaos and delight. The older boys, 9.5+ year old men Oz and Opie, received younger companions this winter.

Our “kittens,” now cat teenagers really, were born under a neighbor’s porch (Sobaka’s mom if you are a regular here) either late October or early November. Once weaned, Mama left them (a feral/stray the block beyond ours refer to as ‘Baby’) and the two strongest prowled the neighborhood. The runt remained under the porch.

The teenager successfully trapped all three kittens but the mother eluded her. The teenager claimed the runt as her baby, she rehomed the second kitten, but the final one, this baby cat who survived on his own for a month, arrived in our domicile a month later. I could not separate him from his brother.

So I now have four cats. (Which, since they exist in two ‘pairs’ are WAY easier than the five years or so we had three cats. At that time I had one older female and two male kittens.)

The way life works I (and my precocious offspring) got involved with FURR (Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab) and have spent the past three weeks socializing a litter of five kittens the teenager has given names from the Greek pantheon.

This week, their kitty cat cold seems finally to be under control. This should end our two steps forward, one step back progress. But even with eye meds and antibiotics, this crew has made great strides this week.

In this video, Zeus succumbs to my cat-paralyzing head scratches: Zeus. Zeus is a very playful, cautious female cat (we think) with gorgeous silver and black markings. Not grey. Silver. And she has this adorable white tip on her tail. She was the runt. But she also is the first to protect her siblings.

Opie, our three-legged, cancer survivor cat who started life as the offspring of a feral, came to visit the kittens and Zeus puffed up and hissed… her little three pound self ready to take him on. Always a gentleman, he gazed at her and declined the challenge by walking away.

In this video, Artemis is the kitten with the white paws attacking the wand toy. He has been neutered. He is ready for a forever home. He loves to be pet, but isn’t quite comfortable being scooped up and cuddled. He won’t fight though, just hide his head.

Artemis and Zeus are the two kittens in the foreground in that video. Artemis loves to be nearby. He and Zeus are always the first to the food bowl. Artemis has also worked up the nerve to start exploring the rest of our house. And he’s so fuzzy.

Artemis and Zeus have also proven very gentle and even when playing have not scratched or bit. This video is Zeus exploring my coffee cup with a cameo by Artemis.

Now the other cat in that earlier video was Apollo. So silver and black. No other color. I think we still have confidence and that Apollo is male. Apollo likes to sit on the bookshelf. He will usually emerge in the middle of the group but doesn’t really approach us humans. Occasionally we confuse him and Zeus and then, when he is cornered he will tolerate our petting.

He was very sick last week and was grateful for our assistance. Videos: Apollo resting and Petting Apollo.

Now, Hermes has the cutest white bib and patches on his face. He’s timid, but curious. He will sit and watch you and then start bolting around the room, hence naming him after a messenger with wings on his shoes. We have not 100% confirmed his gender.

This leaves Hades. We think Hades may be a girl but we have only handled her once. She was terrified for the first two weeks and hid.

Hades is solid black and looks the most fuzzy of all of them. She has huge golden eyes. Earlier this week, we started pushing single serve portions of wet cat food (laced with antibiotics) into her favorite hiding spot and a few days later, she started slowly joining the rest of the litter.

The teenager and I are over the moon.

As I am writing this, the teenager texted me this video from her room: Friday morning kittens.

So, if you need a kitten in your life, and I will remind you that kittens that start in the wild tend to be vigilant when it comes to rodents & insects, please consider one of our Greek Pride. Or two. Kittens thrive in pairs. And are often less destructive when they have each other to entertain them.

FURR has these and many other wonderful cats available. The kitten adoption fee is $110 and includes all shots, initial vetting, spay/neutering, and microchip.

And if you adopt one of my fosters, your kitten comes with all these videos and photos.

* These kittens and my teen kittens will eat any big. This litter will snatch flies. My teen boys sit at the back door waiting for spotted lantern flies to creep in the crack under the door. They fight over who gets to dismember and eat them. Especially the wings. So I don’t worry about mice.

When you earn the love of a cat

I have always loved animals and small children, and I often have the ability to attract and charm them.

Most people I know are “dog people,” and if my life worked out differently I’m sure I would be too. And if I had a larger yard and a future that involved working from home or short enough hours, I would get a dog. I haven’t had a dog in almost 30 years.

I tend to have a good rapport with cats. We are both moody, aloof creatures, quick to bare our claws but dedicated and affectionate when you win our trust.

And my life recently has been full of cats.

I guess part of me is looking for that companionship I had with Zoot, the kitten I rescued from my brother’s household after Christmas, two months after I got married. 1999.

She was a character from the get-go. She protected me with fierce devotion, and even extended her guardianship to my daughter. She hated to see the now-teenager cry.

She knew when I needed her. She licked my tears and sat by my side. And she purred with such enthusiasm. A sound I loved to hear.

I taught her to sit, give her paw, lick my cheek and jump onto her stool. And, as a consequence, whenever she wanted what you had, she would walk up to you, sit down, and hand you a paw.

In that way, she trained me. I taught her the trick. She performed it to demonstrate her desire.

That is so “cat.”

A dog loves you because it trusts you, it needs a leader, and it wants a pack.

A cat loves you if you earn it.

And when a cat choses you as its person, especially when it has a choice of people, it feels like an honor.

Of our 9-ish month-old teen cats, Misty and Fog, Fog prefers me to my teen daughter. His brother, Misty, is my daughter’s baby. Both are the offspring of a feral in the neighborhood— Misty was the runt, and Fog was the smartest who lasted the longest on his own.

Since I got home from the hospital, Fog has spent as much time as he can by my side.

And it warms my heart.

And perhaps this bond— this return on investment— is what endears me to cats.

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.

Animals and astrology

Today was hard. In ways I didn’t expect.

It didn’t start that way as it started with all five FURR kittens from the Greek Pride coming to eat at the same time!!!

Starting with the black cat and moving clockwise: Hades, Apollo (you can’t see his head), Zeus, Hermes (not quite at the bowl) and Artemis

That was super exciting as the exclamation points denote.

I indulged in the self-care that usually helps, but instead I feel worse. Went for a walk. Still in a bad mood. But Sobaka followed me home and refused to leave my side.

So I indulged in stress eating, and that didn’t help.

My horoscope didn’t help as several different astrology sites, including my favorite astrology app Co-Star, warned me things wouldn’t be easy.

Of course, there has to be a reference to Fire/Mars. A friend I recently alienated is a Fire sign and oh so Mars.

So I tried retail therapy— and this was a totally stupid move because:

  1. I don’t have any income right now and my savings will only cover two months living expenses.
  2. I paused my Ipsy subscription yet I ordered cosmetics.
  3. I not only ordered cosmetics but I ordered Goth cosmetics so I’m probably not going to be able to pull off the look.

But in my defense, I ordered $60 worth of cosmetics, but found a 20% off discount code, and paid $5 shipping for a total of about $55. And I qualified for a $5 American Express statement credit for supporting small business.

I sent the teenager this photo to select a red lipstick for herself

That merely made me feel guilty.

And, as my last effort to revive my spirits, I walked down to Darnell’s house for a business meeting— both for Thrive Public Relations and for Aspire to Autonomy.

I brought the teenager along to meet The Household Dog.

Here is the two of them: The teenager and Baby Boy (video)

The energy of working with Darnell, Amber and Melanie (all members of the Aspire team) revived my energy. Darnell even invited me to stay for a fish sandwich but the teenager needed me to come home and med the kittens of our pride.

Then, she left for her dad’s and I came upstairs to share dinner with my cockatoo, Nala. She was super bratty and bitey so I put her on the floor. I was losing my temper.

And she walked to the budgie cage. Climbed it. Pulled out the newspaper on the bottom of the cage…

And pooped!

I’m about to continue on with my evening, but I had to give the animals credit for making me smile.