Sunday, November 13, 2022

A scrubbing Sunday, and my disillusionment with the hard turn in national cat rescue messaging

It's pre-noon on a Sunday, with six feral teenagers returned to their colony, and two more going to a relocation cage in their new barn home later today. These four are ready for adoption (they were born here to a feral cat waiting for TNR) but the house needs a thorough cleaning before welcoming visitors.

While none of these first "back to blogging" posts will be particularly earth-shattering, it suddenly occurred to me that I print my blogs off as books as journals for my future self. Since I haven't been blogged, I have no record, really, of my last few years. 

This year is going to be a biggee for change, so I do want to save my progress. 

I need to sit down and flip through them -- I haven't in quite awhile. I've found my enthusiasm for cat rescue waning as I get older. I find I'm just going through the motions catching and getting cats fixed, and no longer really feel that spark of joy I used to. 

My emotions have experienced an even more precipitous drop in the last year, primarily due to my disillusionment with the new national animal welfare message. It has veered hugely away from making shelters better places for cats, and providing grants for spay/neuter, and has turned almost exclusively toward grants and programs touted as "community sheltering." Community support for pet owners started out as a wonderful program (like the groundbreaking HSUS Pets for Life program) that actively supported diverse communities. This admirable, forward-thinking and dare I saw successful sentiment of pet care appears to have been seized and subverted on by a few charismatic veterinarians and animal welfare administrators as a way to push the responsibility of animal rescue -- particularly cats -- into the laps of the community, and eliminate the sheltering of cats almost entirely. 

I'm not saying that existing excellent community support programs have been subverted. I'm suggesting that the sentiment of community support and involvement has been seized on by a group of advocates as a way to appear to jump on the community assistance bandwagon -- while instead actually foisting more work, cost, and heartache on them.

I've had to delete countless following paragraphs, because I need to address these issues one by one -- not in one long rant. And let me make it clear, this IS a rant. I have over-simplified the issue greatly, and there are good aspects of the community sheltering movement. 

BUT, I no longer feel like the handful of cats I help each year is part of a steady trudge toward a bright day when cats skittering across a village street are nearly as rare a sight as a stray dog rummaging in garbage bags in trash day. We were really getting there  -- we really, really were -- but I've seen a huge reversal.

So if I've only got a few decades left, I think I need to take some unique action that could actually make a difference, and leave the kitten socialization to a younger set of rescuers. I won't be stopping anytime soon -- after all, I expected to downsize TNR this summer, and THAT didn't happen -- but I expect to hit the road within the next two years. 


Saturday, November 12, 2022

A summer hijacked by cats

This was supposed to be the summer I worked on the house and got it ready for sale. It ended up being a a flurry of TNR starting in August, plus a bucket of kittens. I finally made a contact -- and a friend or two -- at a barn I've been wanting to address, and once I had a a paw in that door, I didn't want to  put it off. 

Then a bunch of kittens were born on Debra's street in Waverly, and mom cat was due to pop out a second litter and refused to be caught. Litter #1 was too feral and too teenaged for socialization, so I had to warehouse them until the second litter and mom could be caught. For 81 days 10 teenaged ferals hissed at me from their big (thankfully) double level Ferret Nation cages. Then a couple who are close friends had a feral show up on their porch, who needed an extra long stay when his tail needed to be amputated due to an old wound. And I drove by a house in the village of Spencer where cats were basked in flowerpots on her front porch. Her veterinarian had told her (???!!!) that they likely had feline leukemia because the probably mother cat tested positive and that they wouldn't survive being fixed. She was lovely, but she took a little convincing when I knocked on her door uninvited. We got her batch fixed and they all survived nicely. I doubt a single one has leukemia -- they all seemed quite healthy as they glared at me from their traps and recovery cages. 

At any rate, my summer fixing the house was a bust, and the peeling paint is still peeling, the cellar stairs still need fixing, the back barn roof is still collapsed, but at least there are a lot less feral kittens in the world.  Luckily a lot of the spay/neuter was free or low-cost, and with some donations from landowners, an unexpected donation from a local credit union, and a birthday fundraiser on Facebook, at least the cost didn't come entirely out of my paycheck.

The light of my life has been my new heart cat Wiki. I've been training him to travel, so that we can move on to the next phase of our lives in a few years. I have only three pet cats now, and little Coraline will soon be leaving to live with close friends of mine, and then I'll have only two. I'm about to embark on a big adoption push for the adoptables I have here -- about eight adults and six cute kittens.  It would be nice to just have one cat room open for the winter, so I wasn't pouring money into electricity over the winter. I think things are going to be hard for everyone this winter.

So that's the update, before I dive into detailed topics. I haven't been good about staying in touch with the wider friends of Wildrun. I'll do a better. job. 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

How do old bloggers reinvent themselves?

Many of the blogs I used to follow years ago are no longer active.

I miss a lot of my blogging friends. Some of them I never met, but we exchanged comments, read about one another's lives, and even sometimes sent each other something in the mail. Luckily, I'm still able to follow some of them on Facebook, but some -- well, I never knew their names, so was never able to track them down...when I thought to try. 

I was certain I'd never fall out of the blogosphere, but I have, like so many others. I spend a lot of time blogging in my mind, which doesn't do much good for anyone, even myself. I've reflected a lot: "Why am I not blogging?" "Why did so many others stop blogging?"  I'd thought -- about others -- that they just got bored or distracted, or it was a fad that passed.

I've only posted about 11 times since I left Purina/Petfinder two years ago -- even though I've blogged in my mind about million times.

I began blogging back in the 90s, back when blogging wasn't tied to ads and SEO (search engine optimization -- using key words to make your content appear at the top of search results). Blog posts were shared organically. There was a lot of conservative and liberal blogging going on back then, and it wasn't as polarizing as the world of crazy we have now. (I even found my old blog -- actually 2 of my blogs -- here!) Cats were the excuse for a lot of those political fact, it's how the blog hop Carnival of the Cats got started (link is from 2015 but sums up a bit of history). 

So why mention this at all? 

I'm planning a pretty drastic change to my life. For it to work, it requires a return to blogging, and the addition of video blogging/vlogging as well.

Before I gave up my own brand in 2004 ("life, liberty, and the pursuit of loose cats!") and took on the voice of the other businesses I worked for, I used to be a bit of a rebel.  

When I jumped from the corporate ship after about 14 years, I envisioned a return of my rebel voice. That hasn't happened. 

However -- damn! -- I DO have rebel feelings. There are some new trends in the world of cat sheltering that are really pissing me off. Instead of seeing more and better services for cats that take some of the load off of individual rescuers, I'm seeing trends that dumps every single cat rescuing responsibility -- with the exception perhaps of scheduling spay neuter -- into the lap of unfunded cat loving individuals, and small poorly funded rescue groups.

I plan to go right to shelters (big and small), cat rescues, and individual cat rescuers across the US, tell their story -- and raise money for them at the same time.

I'm going to stop there. All of this means nothing if I can't get back into the habit of blogging -- and get the equipment and skill to start vlogging. I need to rebuild my email list, and I need to wrap up a lot of loose ends.

So hopefully you'll be seeing more me...and more of this silly guy. His name is Wiki. He's fearless, and I hope some of that rubs off on me.

So, old blogging friends, how have you reinvented yourselves?

Some of you are still blogging away, doing amazing things.

If you stopped blogging, are you doing different amazing things? Or are you looking for a new goal to grab onto, as I am?

Sunday, May 16, 2021

My apologies to subscribers

For some reason, Blogger is sending messages to subscribers about past posts, anytime I log in and touch anything -- even if I'm just creating a draft for a new post.

I will be suspending notifications completely (Google is getting rid of this option next month anyway) and I'll send an email manually in June to see if anyone wants to sign up for manual notifications once a month. Again, I'm really sorry for the spam. :(  

Here's a pic of adoptable Finn to make reading this message somewhat worthwhile: 

Love you all!


Saturday, May 15, 2021

My four-cat clan was actually visible all at once, thanks to a chilly evening where they all wanted to hang by the one window that has electric heat under it. Buster took the basket, Raven (still pretty feral) cuddled up next to Buster, whom he adores. Coraline and Oliver took over the marimba -- which really, really should not be near the heat at all. I need to take some thoughtful steps toward finding it a new home where it will be cared for properly.

Blogger is going to get rid of Feedburner, which means it will no longer send email alerts to my blog subscribers when I post a blog -- which is a good thing, as lately they've been emailing people about blog posts I published years ago.  Perhaps Google decided to scrap the function rather than fix it?

That means I'm going to have to put my big girl pants on and start a real newsletter for the rescue, with real blog posts and real content that the newsletter links to. I do this for work all the time, but don't seem to be able to muster up the energy to do it for myself.

It's a sunny Saturday, which always stirs up optimism. After a cup of coffee, it's time to get started on mowing the lawn, cleaning the cat rooms, and packaging up some stuff for work to mail out. Maybe by the time Sunday dawns, I'll be looking at a less-cluttered house and an open day.

We can hope!


Saturday, March 27, 2021

My old sideboard...someone's new sideboard

 So I mentioned I'd sold my huge old sideboard that had been given me by a good hearted neighbor years back.

A local couple who buys and repaints furniture bought and repainted it. Here it is three days later:

It'll sell for hundreds of dollars, I'm sure, down in Chandler's Market in Sayre. I knew when I sold it for $35 that it would ultimately be sold for a lot more because this type of furniture, chalk painted, is all the rage now in modern "farmhouses." It takes a lot of paint and skill to change a piece of furniture like this (for example, the refurbisher painted the inside, not just the outside as I did), and this took three coats of paint in different colors to get this effect, and I'd just slapped one coat on when I had it. I just don't have the energy or flair to complete re-do furniture for other people. I only do the minimum possible to make it acceptable in my own.

Anyway, it's on to a new life and it was fun to watch it's transformation on the new owner's Facebook page. And I have a TON more room in my house.

Monday, March 15, 2021

More projects done...more restlessness put behind me

 I've talked to a couple of friends who are experiencing the same ailment. Here we are at home, so you'd think we'd get more done. But due to...what? Angst over the elections? Tons of snow? Isolation doldrums? Who knows. It's not getting done. It helps to know I'm not alone, but it's been dragging us all down.

I've finally taken some steps to get my butt in gear. I hope I can keep the momentum going. 

Since the screen door on the stairs was added years ago, the screen has been getting more and more shabby. I sort of tacked a piece of wood at the left because the door was too small for the opening and I needed to attach a hook-and-eye. Of course, one hook-and-eye wasn't enough for cats intent on getting downstairs, so I added two. Plus one on the inside. It looked like hell (IMO) to visitors, and of course was difficult to explain how to latch as I led people upstairs and they were left to secure the door behind them.  Two years ago I bought a new door and a door knob, but the bears destroyed my porch, and I used that door to replace the one they'd smashed to bits.  

So a few nights ago I pulled down the old door, ripped off the screen, attached plastic hardware cloth that I'd purchased on Amazon, and installed the sitting-in-a-closet-for-two-years door knob kit. I also purchased some wooden ornamentation for the corners, to keep me from splurging on a fancy new door (the bones on this one were just fine). I got a new piece of wood for the door frame instead of the mismatched thing I'd had tacked up. Now people can go up and downstairs without wondering how the heck to open and secure the door. And it doesn't look a total mess. I can't begin to tell you how much joy I get out of opening and closing this door with a simple knob instead of messing with hooks on both sides.



I had some help from Mocha who didn't seem to understand that he was doing an "if it fits, it sits" in a contraption meant to cut things in half.

Then the front storm door blew off the hinges in a gust of wind earlier this winter, so I ordered a new one from Home Depot (the cheapest brown one available, because I was damned if I'd be scrubbing dirty fingerprints off a white door before every visitor arrived again). It barely fit in the car, and it was a pain to put up (thank you, YouTube!), but now that's done as well. There was quite a bit of swearing involved, and I really hope no one was enjoying a country walk at the same time as I was exercising my vocabulary.

A few years back, a neighbor renovated their kitchen and gave me the vintage furniture they'd been using as a pseudo-kitchen until then. I chalk-painted it up and it's been hugely helpful. But one of the sideboards is absolutely huge (72" long) and the amount of storage it provided in return for the space it took up was insubstantial. For about a year the room it's been in has seemed more like a repository of extra furniture than an actual room I could hang out in.  I put the sideboard up on Facebook Marketplace for the cost of the paint and knobs I put on it ($30) (since it had been given to me for free) and quickly got a taker.

To replace it, I picked up a beat-up but sturdy dresser at the Re-Use Center in Ithaca, and threw some chalk paint, wallpaper, and Mod Podge at it. I already had the supplies. So I have as much room, but I can put the dresser along a small wall instead of it taking up the entire length of the room.

Before (well...during)


Now the couch, which was literally sitting diagonally in the middle of the room before, can be along the wall. The sideboard is waiting to be picked up tomorrow -- you can see how huge it is, at the right. And now all the furniture that was pretty much just thrown in there is an actual room.

I've been getting some professional coaching, and I really haven't been able to explain to her how much all these undone projects have been preying on me. Every time I see something that I've started and just haven't finished, it ties up my brain so that I can't even think about the things I ought to -- and really want to -- do. Take photos of the cats, paint the art walls I have planned for the cat rooms, make videos to help with adoption processes...  So I've just decided these projects HAVE to get done so I can be mentally free to work with the cats.

The two biggest things remaining projects are the backsplash wall in the kitchen, and the last of the flooring.  Then I won't be tripping over the boxes of flooring that sit in the great room, or the box with the new kitchen light that's on the floor in the pantry. I'm already thrilled that the boxes of doorknobs are on the doors and not in a pile in the closet, and that the stair door is actually pretty instead of a wreck. And that I have a storm door again so cats are less likely to zip outside.

I'm getting there.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Cat stretch in three movements, performed by Daphne

 Daphne's (formerly Goggles) mom, sent these photos over, titled "A demonstration of the evolution of the the streeeeetch (with bonus teefs)" The teefs are the cutest:


I'll always remember finding Daphne as a kitten, stuffed in a crate I had left on my porch. I had been at the store, and could hear a kitten squalling as I walked up my steps. I had a grand old rant about irresponsible people dumping cats on me and not even being polite enough to leave a note, and then the neighbors pulled up in the driveway.

They had found the kitten while walking their dog, had brought her to me and left her in the crate because I wasn't home. They had her loose in their arms along with their huge German Shepherd on a leash, so they really couldn't carry her all the way back a half-mile to their house. They left the kitten, walk-ran back home, and then immediately drove back with a note for me, in case I hadn't yet returned. 

Oops. Rant retracted. Here's her story from that week over 5 years ago.

Sadly, people like to dump kittens between my neighbor's house and mine because cars can't be seen from either of our houses when they do the dirty deed. I periodically see tracks in the snow for kittens we never find. Daphne was a lucky one though. She had a set of lungs and used them, so the neighbors noticed her off in the woods on their walk.

And then she got an incredible home. Lucky girl!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Princess Peach and her escaped-being-feral kittens

This was a summer for Elmira area cats, when COVID first shut down all of the shelters. Cats who really couldn't be left to fend for themselves had to go somewhere. Princess Peach (who was nameless when she came our way) was seen by the homeowner nursing her kittens just outside his window, as a storm was due to arrive. He was a friend of our friend Gina, so we made an exception. She drove over to Elmira, nabbed the kittens, set a trap for Peach, poured a glass of wine, and waited. 

They didn't wait long. Peach was quickly trapped, and turned out to be a wary but friendly young mom. We checked her for a microchip, left a found cat report with the shelter, got her FeLV/FIV tested and vaccinated, and sent her back to Gina's sunroom to be fostered. There was plenty of room, because most of her plans were enjoying the early autumn sun.

 At first the little family was a bit shy, but they soon came around. Gina moved her remote work desk into the sunroom to socialize them, until the weather grew so chilly her plants had to come back inside. Some of the plants weren't the safest for cats to munch on, and by then the kittens were old enough to be adopted, so over to the Owl House they came.

Princess Peach buff cat nursing kittens
Princess Peach and family in the sunroom at Gina's

The kittens were of course insanely cute, and were adopted within a few weeks. 

Now it's Peach's turn to get a home. While she tolerates the other cats in the room she shares with three others, she's not particularly thrilled with them, so she would probably prefer to be queen of her realm. I need to get some video of her. In the meantime she's a joy to have here, and it's so wonderful to look at her rounded-out well-fed form compared to her slim seat-of-her-fuzzy-pants-survival look with her batch of soon-to-be-feral kittens.

But nobody's feral. A guy looked out his window and cared.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Turning the clock back on the house, one project at a time

 This is a door knob in the Owl House.

This is when I purchased replacements, in my baby steps to make the house look a bit more like a farmhouse again:

Here are new door knobs, finally up over 2 years later!

I actually found all of the stored-away new door knobs easily, which is a bit of a miracle given how long ago I purchased them. The first old knob was a bear to get off. It has no visible screws so I had to resort to YouTube. The others were easier. The new knobs that looked the simplest were actually the most complicated, and the glass knob, that came with lots of tiny bits and springs, was the easiest.

So that's one more project with pieces rattling around that is out of the way, there are four less small boxes in my closet, and it's one less thing I look at in annoyance every single day.

Next up? Paint the doors, of course (I already painted around the knobs before I installed them).

Buster is unimpressed.


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Cats be gettin' all judgy like....


Orange cat with paw on hand on laptop

Anyone else getting the winter/COVID blahs? Wow. I feel like I'm swimming (unenthusiastically) through a fog. I've been trying to focus on getting a few things done (checkmark by checkmark) so that I don't pile more crap on that heap o' blah by falling behind on projects and day-to-day stuff. I need to at least keep creeping forward. 

Oliver can tell when I'm just noodling around, not actually getting anything productive done. Or maybe I just like to think he can. At any rate, he lets me know by plopping a paw -- or sometimes his entire butt -- on my hands.

We've had a shit-ton of snow. Some of your probably got whomped with it, too. It's time to take down this garden flag, I think, lest Mother Nature continue to take it literally. (If you are on your phone and you refuse to admit your eyes are getting old, like me, the flag reads "let it snow.")

Let it snow garden flag

So how are you getting through it all? I'm able to get myself outside to walk now and then by reminding myself that warm weather will be nice, but it will also bring ticks, and it's glorious to walk outside without having to strip and shower after every short hike or trip to the woodpile. If you've had motivational success with anything you've tried, let me know. I could use any techniques that have worked for you.

I've been trying to erase some of the negatives in my daily attitude. One of those is (no surprise) the number of unfinished projects I have around here. For example, my kitchen and walk-in area need a paint refresh. But this is how I roll. I repainted the kitchen white a few years back, and this is the area around one of my outlets:

Yup. Not only is the filthy, but that's YELLOW paint around it from the LAST time I painted the kitchen white years ago. I'm pleased to report the kitchen is now entirely white, except the doors. The doors also need a refresh, and I also have new doorknobs for them that I bought -- you guessed it -- at least two years ago. Every time I turn those dingy/shiny brass knobs, I think of the lovely dark bronze knobs I've got waiting to replace them. So that's another mental grumble that takes up too many brain cells each and every day, and needs to be put to bed by just getting. it. done.

My goal is to reach spring with all of the projects I've already paid for (and there are a lot) completed, and also NOT buy supplies for new projects. Since I'm the queen of "ooo...shiny," and "hey, SQUIRREL" this will be an adventure. Luckily, I'm on a bit of an austerity budget, so that's added incentive to make do with what is already on my list.

What's on your list? Shall we be accountability partners and get these damned projects off of our to-do lists?

Friday, January 1, 2021

To survive, you've got to take a moment to stop for beauty

Last Wednesday, I arrived early to pick up cats from the spay/neuter clinic. The parking lot is small, so I drove on by so as not to fill up a spot meant for folks scheduled to arrive earlier than myself. As I internally grumbled at myself over having to drive around blocks for 15 minutes (given our recent snow, parking along a street wasn't really an option) I had a little flash from the past that reminded me of something I'd forgotten in my year without travel. Or my year with the COVID blahs. When you have a moment, look for beauty, and stop for a few minutes.

In Montour Falls, that's not hard. They have a huge waterfall right in the heart of the village. But it was after dark, so I didn't have too much optimism as I drove toward the park. 

What I didn't realize is that the waterfall is lit with floodlights. Wow!

When I first started working in national animal welfare, we traveled a lot by car in a group to keep costs down. There wasn't really money for entertainment, so when I traveled with speakers to workshops or for shelter visits, we made a point of finding affordable local restaurants (versus chains) near beautiful or funky-cool spots - along a lake, or river, or with a patio on a lively backstreet. Every beautiful spot we found made each trip incredible. When the company I worked for was purchased by larger companies, travel turned more solo, and shelter visits were fewer. I still loved visiting shelters, though, so if work had paid for a flight, I sometimes took vacation days, switched over to my own credit card, and hit the road to find them. While driving, I always harkened back to my "small business" thinking and would turn off the highway for random fun or beautiful moments.

I left that company, and have been working strictly from home for over a year. COVID has made things a bit sad and grim, and it's easy to forget to look for beauty. Discovering the falls, and that short moment of breathing in the cold air and listening to the water, reminded me.

Last night, New Year's Eve, Debra (the pres of AmCat) and I got together for the first time in many, many months. We shared a bottle of prosecco and some sanitarily wrapped munchies, ranted, laughed, and commiserated. But with COVID in mind, we split ways pretty early. As I drove out the end of her street, I saw a truly glorious moon shining through clouds and the pines of the cemetary. I thought "Wow, how gorgeous" and entertained - then dismissed - stopping to take a photo. After all, I only had a smartphone camera. What was the point?

But that waterfall moment nudged me. So I drove into the cemetery, parked my butt over one of the headlines of my car to cut out the glare, and took a photo. Of course, it's nothing like the actual experience, but it will rouse my memory forever, and maybe it will inspire a watercolor session.

The rest of the 35 minute drive home, the moon and I talked a bit as it danced in and out from the hills. I was glad I took the image to keep with me.

For 2021 I'm going to remember - stop for beauty. It's easy to dismiss, but when you don't, when you listen to that tiny voice that suggest you stop (and you listen), it helps sustain you.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

On the road with spay/neuter

What we TRY to do with the American Cat Project, is fix cats (not shelter and adopt cats out). When I first started working with a national website that helped adoption groups, TNR was new. At that time, we did phone interviews of every new member. Every week a new TNR member would join, and inevitably they said "We were told that all we had to do was spay/neuter with TNR, but we've found we always have friendly cats or kittens that shouldn't be put back, who need homes, so we need to post them for adoption."

They were always a bit shell-shocked that TNR often meant becoming a small pseudo-shelter. Some groups were lucky enough to have good contacts with actual shelters, and could turn socialized kittens over to the shelter. But 15 years ago, many TNR projects were started because the local shelter was so overwhelmed they simply didn't have room. 

(The change of TNR over the years is a topic for another post. Sentiment has very recently swung toward returning almost every healthy cat -- even friendly ones -- with "return to field" or "shelter/neuter/return." I don't agree with this practice except in large municipalities who are so swamped with cats they can't get ahead without this emergency practice --I would argue short-term for 10 years or less.  But...didn't I say that was for another post?)

So what the traditional view of TNR often requires, to save on gas and time for all parties involved, iis "cat smuggling" in parking lots. 

It's NOT cat smuggling, but it often feels that way, as you swap cats back and forth in carriers while nearby people look at you in curiosity. After an initial site visit, the caretaker and TNR group find a halfway point, meet in a parking lot, and the cats are transferred from car to car so one person isn't spending hours and gas on very long drives.

Most recently, my rendezvous point for a Chemung County colony has been Sportsman's Warehouse. It's clearly a building that's hard to miss, and the parking lot is a reasonable size so caretaker and rescuer can spot one another. Although this week the caretaker's truck was hidden behind a huge bank of plowed snow, so it took awhile for me to track him down.

The cats then come back with the rescue, spend a night or two, are driven by the rescue to their spay/neuter appointment, are picked up and recovered for a few days, and then it's back to swapping the cats back to their caretaker in the parking lot. So there's still a lot of driving for the rescuer, but at least the caretaker/rescuer swap shaves a few miles and hours off.

In this case, the colony caretaker has agreed to pay for half of any spay/neuter we have to pay for, and we cover the rest. Sometimes we cover it all. Sometimes we are surprised and pleased to have the caretaker, or often neighbors who hear about the spay/neuter project, cover the entire cost and more. 

With our program, we require the caretaker to call as soon as any new cats show up, to head off another population explosion. No one wants to go through all this a second time.

These three youngsters, Gigi, Guy (who turned out to be a girl) and BN, are safely back from affordable spay/neuter at the Humane Society of Schuyler County, one of our lifesaver shelters 35 minutes away, and they will be going home on New Year's Day.

They are the very last kittens at their colony. So Happy New Year to us!

Saying goodbye to adopted cats


Emmett and Eveline (now Gracie) went to their new home in the Binghamton area this past week. I try to say my goodbyes before I crate them up, because when they are released in their new safe room, they tend to head straight under the bed and there's no chance for a cuddle. Most safe rooms are a guest room or the new guardian's bedroom. 

Sometimes I forget to say goodbye when I pack them up, and it's always somewhat bittersweet when I leave them behind. 

Emmett surprised me by checking things out first (how could he resist all that cool cat stuff?) but soon joined Gracie in the usual kitty safe spot. Kim, their new guardian, and a previous adopter (Tyler, a Russian blue type cat who was a close buddy of mine when he was growing up), sent an update:

 "Emmett and Gracie have full run of the upstairs when I am home and then just their room when I am not. I sleep in the other room upstairs and wake up to find both of them under my bed. I learned that    Emmett can be had for treats so while he is still not all in on pets he will come right up to me, show me his belly and talk to me. Gracie loves to sleep under the comforter so I lift it up, give her pets and talk to her then leave her be. She doesn't move so that is good. Tyler has seen them both through the gate. There has been a little hissing but no hair up and neither Emmett or Gracie seemed  impressed so I think that is just him being nervous. They are all very curious about each other." 

It's always a bit interesting to see how cats act in their new home. Kim chose both Gracie and Emmett so that Emmett would have a brave cat to pull him out of his shell. But in the new home, Emmett is the brave boy and Gracie is cuddling under the comforter.

If only they could talk to let us know how they really feel, because just watching cat behavior in their first home (here at the Owl House) just doesn't really give a good window into how they'll act when they move on to their next chapter of life.

Here's video of the beginning of their journey when they were being trapped! SO cute

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas snow

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who is feeling somewhat bogged down lately. I've been shaking my head a bit over all the "let's get 2020 over with" chatter and memes - mostly because, of course, nothing magical is going to happen on January 2021. COVID isn't going to go away. Politics aren't going to magically be perfect. Bills won't magically be paid. Oddly, this actually gives me a bit of a brighter outlook. I'd rather slowly and hopefully build toward a new normal (hoping for that vaccine!) than expect some amazingly brighter future after a New Year's Eve countdown, only to be disappointed. Does that sound gloomy? I don't mean it to.

This Christmas had some weather gremlins. We got socked with 34" of snow. It took five days to shovel out, all the while knowing that on Christmas day the temperature would skyrocket and rain would come. It would be tempting to let it all melt on it's own, but immediately after that they were predicting freezing cold temps again...which means neglected snow could turn into frozen chunks.

So...shovel and shovel some more. It could have been worse -- I could be the dedicated FedEx guy who still managed to get my Chewy shipment to me and had to drive through all that bad weather.

But I couldn't shovel my barn roof.  So 2020 had one more unpleasant surprise for me:

The image above is from inside the second floor of the woodshop addition. The image below is the hole in the main barn where the second floor addition used to connect.

The roof over the woodshop on my barn couldn't handle the snow load, especially after the snow from the main barn (where the cats used to live) slid down on top of it.

The more expensive tools were safe. Luckily I'd been slowly removing anything valuable from the second floor over time, so the only thing destroyed are piles of old windows. A big stack of valuable 10"x12' boards were buried in debris, but I'll worry about that in the spring. 

At first I figured I'd just tear down the whole thing. Then it occurred to me that if the first floor roof (the floor of the second floor that's buried in all that snow) is strong enough, maybe I'll just tear off the second floor walls, clear out the debris, put a flat roof on down, and build a railed deck that looks out over the creek. That may actually be the cheapest option.

Spring will tell. There's nothing much I can do now, unless I find someone who doesn't mind clearing out all that debris and cutting down the broken walls in the cold weather. If the snow melts and the ground freezes so a truck can be driven out there, I might be able to locate someone who won't charge an arm and a leg.

What other surprises will 2020 bring? And what new ones will 2021 startle us with?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Pandepression repeat

I've moved this post to another URL. The original got linked to a community listserv that is looking for Timmick, so I've remove the political rant from that one. :)  Sorry to subscribers who are receiving a notification on this content twice! 

I simply have to revive this blog. I'll be moving over to WordPress soon, where there are more options. I've been paying for an acccount for over a year and haven't done a damned thing with it. In the meantime, I--like most of the rest of the world--have been wrestling with pandepression (the blahs caused by social distancing). And based on the lack of interaction on my Facebook group, I'm guessing a lot of cat-parents are as well. 

Lucky us, that we do have our cats to make us smile wanly. Other petless people aren't so lucky, and there are a lot of pet-loving people who are petless by circumstance, not because they want to be. Seniors in assisted living, younger folk stuck in no-pet apartments who don't dare move right now, and people who just don't dare take on the responsibility of a pet in this not-so-secure world we live in now. These petless pet lovers used to get their fix at the local shelter or their friends' homes. Those options are more limited now.

So I understand I am, actually, blessed.

Nonetheless I still have the blahs. Even with this:

Yesterday was my birthday (58 years) and last night, Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. And I know Trump/Mitch will shove for an immediate replacement to push the balance of decisions away from the 50/50 it currently is at. Even though Mitch said this would be an abomination during the Obama administration.

Before she's even cold in the grave. Am I right? Let me know.

At that moment, I had been scrolling around Etsy looking for "blue ring" to buy myself a "less-than-$20" birthstone ring as a selfie-birthday present  (I'm big into cheap sterling silver stackable rings--pretty much the only jewelry I wear since I keep the same set of studs in my ears 24/7 and don't wear necklaces because....kittens).  When I saw RBG had passed I changed my search to "black ring." A mourning ring. Because I need something I see every day that reminds me that...

...America is dying. The US is burning. My planet is dying. Kindness is dying. We were once seen as the guiding light to freedom, and now the rest of the world is sad and appalled at what we've become. 


When I was a kid, I used to wonder how the chance of life had made me lucky enough to be born in the USA.

Surprise! That comes back to haunt you.

(Post note: this is not about wanting presents for my birthday: this is about the reality that one day presents have to not be important): BTW young readers, there will come a point in your life where you will no longer receive birthday and Christmas presents--not a one, unless you buy yourself one. Loved ones will leave you or die, or you'll die first. You'd better be centered enough to deal with the fact that holidays needs to have meaning that isn't about "you" and that Christmas REALLY needs to be about the spirit of the season, because you'll wake up in the morning and it will be nothing special unless you've made it special...all on your own

If you are wondering why I'm feeling so dark, a second cat has been lost by an adopter this year. And I'm really not sure I can deal anymore.

Timmick came to me as a kitten from a neighbor. He was hideously ill. We had his eye removed due to that illness. He was stuck in a cage for a long while to recover, and single kittens have behavioral issues. He was a bit of an asshat, and needed a understand guardian. His new guardian is a great guy but you know? Normal caring people just don't get how paranoid you need to be to keep a cat inside a house.That's why there are so many lost cats. And that's why the world shouldn't be so judgy when someone loses a cat. Because cats are smart and stealthy and don't know that "inside is safe and outside isn't." So the smartest person in the world can lose a cat.

Timmick either pushed out a screen or got out through a basement access door. Now he's lost in Ithaca on Cascadilla Street and I'm wondering if I should keep even doing rescue. Not because so many of my cats are lost, but because the few who are lost destroy my soul. Because every day and every night I think about them out there in the cold, without food.

Every time one gets lost, I find myself less willing to do what it takes to find them again. It just sucks the energy from my soul. 

And that's how I see our country. We are all so tired, we aren't willing to do what it takes to save her. I'm fucking shocked by how many of my friends say "I don't dare put out a Biden sign because I'm worried about retaliation." FUCKING WHAT? We are appalled by people getting KILLED or DYING from Covid and that's why we want a different president. We say we are shocked by Black citizens being killed due to racist profiling. But some of us won't put out a freaking LAWN SIGN while others are risking their lives in protests (or just Driving or Walking While Black in their own neighborhood).


My friends who say they aren't willing to believe in COVID-19 aren't rich, but they ARE relatively comfortable. What does it take for you to believe? Someone dying? And my friends who say they are voting for Trump...I get it. This is pretty much unreal to them (meaning, it hasn't impacted their lives, not that they don't care). They fear what they've been TOLD will happen (guns being taken away, Antifa invading their homes) and don't believe the results of what is actually happening (climate change, skyrocketing national debt; no ACA = no health care for lots of people  you know; no payroll tax = no Social Security). But wait until someone calls you and says "Your mother/father/sister is dying and we need to authorize $$$$$ and decisions on life and death." And it all falls on your love AND your pocketbook. Or wait until that mammogram comes out with red flags and suddenly you are paying $4000 for cancer screening. Or wait until you get the call that your sister has been involved in a devastating car accident and you are driving toward a hospital wondering "does she have insurance? I think she does? What if she doesn't? Could I sell my home?"

Yup. Those are real thoughts.

Imagine if you had to pay for all of that yourself? No, really, think about tomorrow getting a call that a member of your family is on life support and you have to sign the paperwork OR say "oh so sorry...not my problem."

I have a friend who said he doesn't believe COVID-19 is a threat because he hasn't seen anyone ill or dead (our area is rural and does a good job with masks, but Google Lighthouse Baptist Church and see how we've screwed things up). Does it really take your girlfriend dying before you'll believe this is all real?"

And for those of us who won't even put up a sign? I understand. I get that reluctance. But we are at a tipping point. And if you aren't willing to put a sign in your front yard, I'm not willing to watch you gripe on Facebook with a privacy setting for "friends/not aquaintances."

I deal with this on the micro-scale with cats. I've dealt with this on the macro-scale with family. And I know people reading this can share similar stories.

All this from one lost cat, and the death of a woman I've never met.

I love you Timmick. And I'm sorry RBG, that you were not able to die with the peace that you deserved.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Lots of rescue...notsomuch blogging. Sorry for not holding up my end of the deal!

Wow. What a year it's been, huh?

I've been a remote worker for 16 years now, so you'd think all this stay-at-home wouldn't get me down.  I was surprised to find myself staring into space with a big case of the lows, that I'm only just starting to shake off. No is everyone else (feeling low, that is). 

I've experienced some unexpected perks in higher adoption inquiries and now finally the spay/neuter clinics have opened. The first three colonies I've helped have come attached to freaking awesome people. Bam, bam, bam...all the cats fixed, kittens either here or sent off to their local shelter for socialization and adoption. And donations for the American Cat Project. 

Finally getting out to deal with some cats perked me up a bit. I had been having the WORST problem with the sleepies. Not "OMG I'm so worn out" just "OMG why CAN'T I stay AWAKE!" I was beginning to wonder if it was due to one of the herbal teas I'd been drinking (I had to leave coffee sad...) but once I was up and about for something other than work--which I love, btw---the sleepies seem to have left me. It helps to have these little guys staring at me from the three-level cage in my great room.

Before all this COVID stuff went down, I'd felt so great arranging to attend two conferences, HSUS EXPO and the Cat Writer's Conference, on my own dime (versus work). I'd signed up to volunteer for HSUS, which brought the conference cost down, and I found myself a cheapo flight and an even cheaper hotel. I'd really looked forward to seeing all those folks I miss since leaving Petfinder and being able to attend conferences without any corporate obligations (woot!). 

Part of me wonders if I jinxed the whole world with COVID by actually arranging for a vacation for the first time in well over a decade! Luckily, all my costs were reimbursed by the conferences, hotels, and Delta Airlines (thank you, Delta!) because throwing all of that money out the window would have been painful.

It has been a bit of a culture shock, no longer traveling for work. I've discovered flowers that blossom along my road that I'd never noticed before. I have hanging flower baskets--because I'm home to water them. I'm slowly getting projects done than had been neglected for years. 

I have a garden! Raised beds! Yes, it took until just this week to get all four of them in, but I'll have some produce this year and hopefully lots next  year. Being able to eat Romaine lettuce again without worrying about a recall has been a small happiness.

And I have bears. Ummm...more to come on that. And if this photo seems like the bear was awfully close, it's because she WAS. And awfully relaxed. Apparently my side yard gives off safe bear vibes.

Since it's past solstice, it's now all a downhill slide of shorter days until winter---that's one reason why I'm back on the blog. It's going to be a semi-lonely year for all of us, so I figured it was time to get on here again. A lot of you have been very generous to me and in return I ought to be sharing what the hay is going on. 

Kittens. Cats. Bears. Projects. Oh...and cooking! Is anyone else cooking?

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A victim of social distancing: the coffee bar

Some of you may remember we used to have "Coffee and Kittens" on Sundays. This was more popular back when we were in the barn--for some reason people seemed more comfortable grabbing coffee and cookies out there. In the house, visitors are more likely to say "Thank you but no thanks." I assume it's politeness--not wanting to be a bother. If they only understood I'd feel better if they drank the coffee I'd already made and the cookies I bought for only them! Once people left, I sadly poured the untouched coffee down the drain.

I'd planned to move the tall coffee cabinet from the barn into the upstairs of the house where the cats are, thinking that if people had the food near them, without me hovering, they'd be more likely to make themselves at home.

But that's not an issue any longer. No one is going to consume food here for months due to COVID-19, even if they do visit a cat.

It occurred to me I probably should put the coffee bar away. It was a rather sad half hour, throwing some things out, and finding a home in my overpacked cupboards for the bowls. Luckily a volunteer couple had stopped by to see if the cats needed anything, and they were able to give a home to the box of untouched individual creamers that otherwise would have gone in the trash.

The kitchen bookcase used to be Fluffy's perch. I purchased it as a cat tree. When he slept there, the other cats all joined him, ranged across the shelves. Since he passed, the shelf beds were abandoned. I keep one bed on the bottom, but the rest of the piece has reverted to human use. What to put there now that the coffee bar is gone?

Books I need to read.

My unread books previously sat in an unruly pile. When I cleaned, they had to be moved from place to place. With them poised right in my face very day, perhaps they'll get read!

Once the weather warms up, my porch will be set up with two comfy chairs, 10 feet apart, for occasional visitors. While I've cut back almost entirely on my alcohol consumption, perhaps I could put a little wine bar out there with small single serving bottles of water and wine that visitors could help themselves to. They could swig right out of their bottle, then toss it in the recycling. So classy!

Is there anything anyone else has put away or changed, anticipating a quiet summer of social distancing?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Pepper and Timea check in, and food from Jo

It's spring in social isolation, but given that I've always been a remote worker in the boonies, less has changed for me than it has for others.

But because "others" are talking about deep home cleanings, getting organized, and pushing paperwork woes out of the way (those who aren't home-schooling, caring for other people in need, or recovering from COVID-19 that is), it can't help but rub off on me. Let's hope it sticks. I'd love it if this were finally the summer that all the big projects were completed, so that future summers I could spend less time scrambling around like an underprepared squirrel.

Jo (rescuer of Pepper and Timea) sent canned food again this month, which is always a blessing:

I emailed Nancy, P&T's adoptive mom, for photos to send to Jo, and she always comes through. Given that they are most-amusing cats, I'm sure she has a camera full of shots. Pepper has always preferred being under blankets rather than over them. Since Timea is his buddy, it's not hard to find him when he hides.

Laundry-snoozing is a traditional cat pastime that Pepper didn't get to experience here.

To date, Pepper and Timea have been my most "perfect" cats. They are amusing without being dangerous (no throwing themselves at my feet), neat (no shoveling of cat litter, no pushing of objects, no dragging cardboard shreds around the house), and have the perfect personality balance (Timea liking to be closer to you, Pepper more independent). They are BIG cats, so there is the issue of hauling them to the vet in crates, but that is offset by their beautiful presence. They also brought me a friend (Jo) and went to a friend (Nancy).

Pepper and Timea have been a perfect circle in my life.