Friday, June 14, 2024

When life pushes you out of the nest to fly

How many times has life done that to you? Basically pulled the rug out from under you so you're forced to think "Ok, fine. I guess I HAVE to do this, now, instead of thinking about it, obsessing over it, but not doing much of anything on my own."

It could be due to work changes, relationship changes, health changes ... anything. Sometimes it's a traumatic 'rock your emotional world' push (and I'd like to point out -- my current 'nest push' isn't that, so if you were thinking of firing off an 'R U OK' text...I'm OK).

Sometimes it's just an "Oh shit, gotta flap these wings or I'm gonna hit the ground HARD!"

I be a flappin'

I work for a lovely digital marketing business that was recently sold and has had to do some restructuring to streamline their bottom line, which mean this month I became a contractor, rather than an employee.

That means both LESS freedom (gotta come up with funds for my own health insurance instead of using a stipend through work, and gotta pay my own taxes, while making a bit less than I was before when taxes and fees were covered). And MORE freedom (no longer have to sit behind a computer from 8am to 5pm and can conceiveably work for other organizations if I'm not overtly competing with any of the contracts I should hold).

At the same time, at a point in my life where I was planning to transfer my cat-love energy from hands-on rescue to helping other rescues...I stopped for a little yellow kitten in the road, pulled into a nearby driveway, and encountered a literal swarm of skinny, unfixed cats and kittens, and people nice enough that you really can't just say "Sorry!" and drive away, no matter how limited your resources are.

(Plus, catch my undertone of simmering anger against the national push toward 'community sheltering' which means folks like this get no help unless some unwitting cat lover pulls into their driveway and non-sheltering organizations step forward with reduced-cost or free spay/neuter)

And because these approximately 30 cats and kittens are underweight, have fleas, and some have an upper respiratory infection, I've had to open up the barn area to house them - an area that hasn't been used in at least 5 years.


  • At 61 yoa, I'm launching a new digital marketing business - something that was never on my radar
  • I've suddenly got to get along on $21K a year instead of $42K after paying 15% self-employment taxes and $400/mo health insurance, at least until I find more work.
  • After retiring the barn, I'm opening it again, at least so it can host cats for this project, and so it's ready for future unexpected emergencies (and looks good for a future sale of the property)
  • After dragging my feet on launching a digital marketing strategy for my own work (because I had been spending so much time on others') I don't have a choice.
Honestly, this could be a good thing, although I'm glad it's summer so I can eat out of my garden while I get my feet under me before winter.

Gotta FLY!

Friday, January 19, 2024

A Rescue Reset: Benji's Boost

As you probably can tell from the crickets chirping on the blog, I've been keeping my head down, rescue-wise. Despite the hush, there's no shortage of feline residents, with 16 cats and kittens on the prowl here looking for new homes. But with the Kitty Kia clunking (literally) along unreliably, commiting to regular spay/neuter hauls hasn't really been an option. I've been doing a "kitty here, kitty there" sort of thing, chipping away at cat drama for friends and neighbors, mostly.

The Kitty Kia's steering dissolved spectacularly on the notoriously steep and winding Swartwood Hill (luckily I was going UP) and I managed to limp to a mechanic/car dealership, where I abandoned her for $500 and went home with a 2017 Promaster City van that was conveniently sitting for sale in their lot. This meant when a person I'd helped in the past called to say a cat who had been limping around the village with a dangling leg was eating on her back porch the night before snow and sub-freezing temps were forecast, I said "yes -- but call the shelter first." No surprise -- the shelter did not call back, so by the next morning, Benji the big-headed tomcat was in one of my traps in the back of the new-to-me van. (Here's his capture video on YouTube)

Any cat owner probably knows your bank account is crap-out-of-luck if you have a cat with a traumatic injury. Private veterinarians now often defer to emergency clinics, and emergency clinics often (not always) require 50% down on the estimate for the full medical care plan. That's just not an option for my bank account (currently at $98) or my credit cards at the moment. Luckily a wonderful clinic called Spay Neuter Save Network recently mentioned to me they will also do amputations, and when I shot them an email they replied "come on down!"

I threw up a fundraiser with a silent prayer that we'd raise the money before surgery was over. This clinic not only expertly lopped off Benji's leg, they extracted some bad teeth, drained and repaired a hematoma in an ear, neutered him, tested him for FeLV/FIV (negative!) and vaccinated him -- all for about 1/4 of what an emergency clinic would ask. The fundraiser is coming along great, but I could really use a little more help if any readers would like to pitch in:

I'll follow up with more details, and some great video of Benji hopping around my bathroom like he could care less about what body bits he no longer has, now that he's warm, fed, and getting lots of love. I'm guessing he'll be an easy boy to adopt out. Stand by for updates. I'm shaking the dust off this blog! (Yeah, yeah, you've heard that before).

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Goodbye to the goodest dog

I lost my Molly this past week.

I tried to write a little about how she passed, but in addition to losing her, I'm also finding myself quite sad about losing two beloved veterinarians I really trust who have since retired. Molly's passing was a completely different experience than it has been for my many other animals when their final day arrived. But I try to remember she was a joyous little dog, who loved the roadtrips to animal welfare conferences and manning the Petfinder booth, camping trips and twice-daily walks on our beautiful country road. She loved playing with cats and kittens. it was probably Molly's love of hiking and camping that got me thinking about my future plan to travel and aid animals via fundraising and video, with her and Wiki with me, so that Molly would have some exciting final years.

I always tell people, when they ask when they should let an animal go, to see if they still enjoy the things they most loved. So, while waiting for the results of bloodwork from her vet visit, I took Molly to a new trail on some nearby farmland. Nice and flat, but with a little stream to explore. You could tell she wanted to like it. She trotted the first few feet, but then dropped to a walk. For the record, Molly NEVER walks. She always trots. She didn't sniff. She stopped dead if she had to push through grass or a weed. She was uninterested by the stream. Then she just looked at me. She wanted to go back.

So back we went, and I knew that was my last adventure walk with Molly. The next day, she died while waiting for late-afternoon veterinary appointment.

I got Molly after Mark left. She was supposedly a little neglected adult dog, sadly tied in a back yard, who frequently escaped to look for love. A neighbor contacted my friend and fellow rescuer Debra, who knew I was looking for a dog. While I always expected to adopt on from a shelter on one of my Petfinder trips, I agreed to take a look. From the neighbor's yard, Molly looked like an older adult little blonde Pomeranian mix, with tear-stained eyes.

In fact, when I knocked on the door, it turned out Molly was a well-loved but way-too-active 7 month puppy owned by a couple who loved her. They had two active little boys, and a labrador they'd adopted from the shelter and nursed through parvo. Molly was "tied in the back yard" because she should dig under AND climb over their sturdy chainlink fence. The mother was pregnant and about to have yet another little boy. Molly ran around like a happy demon while we talked. Turned out they realized Molly was just too active for an apartment with another dog, two small boys, and a baby, and were happy to have a Petfinder employee and rescue person knock on the door like an unasked-for solution. After a quick drive around the village to be sure Molly liked trucks and didn't get carsick, they handed over her veterinary papers and Molly came home with me. Turns out I was Molly's third home.

Molly unfortunately didn't have the best puppyhood with me. I was still upset over Mark leaving, so having a puppy tick-tick-ticking around on my heels meant she got yelled at far more than she should have, for things that were just normal puppy behavior. But once I finally grieved out, Molly came with me on roadtrips for Petfinder, and the last three years we shared a lot of camping adventures. My mom loved her, so she came along on most of my family visits, and my sister Linda also welcomed her. So Molly and I had a lot of fun, active times together.

When I first got her, I had dreams that she'd go everywhere with me. But too often the truck or car air conditioning was broken, or I was tied up taking care of the house and farm, and chasing cats. We didn't have the "joined at the hip" life I'd really dreamed about, and that she would have thrived with. Molly had a good life with me, but she could have had a far better life with someone else. She wanted to be a kid's best friend, not a cat lady's sidekick, even though she loved me and had fun with me. I guess that's true for many of us -- whether four-legged or two-legged.

As time goes on, I'll tuck photos I find into this post, but here are some videos being the bouncy sweet dog she always was, so I have one place to visit her, always.

Miss you, Molly. Love you. 

Molly playing fetch, getting ambushed by a kitten in the curtains (with a cameo by three-legged Cricket)

Molly diving into the deep snow one winter, chasing imagined mice and bunnies

Molly enjoying a stream

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Rosemary checks in

Marita and Kyle saw that I was posting on the blog again (of course -- that was weeks ago!) and sent over some beautiful pictures of Rosemary to share. She came to us as a momcat with two buff colored kittens, and after being spayed was lucky enough to score an incredible home who -- like a lot of our home -- have gone on to rescue other cats through fostering.
Rosemary’s been a great buddy through everything. She loves snuggling and she knows a set of tricks, including sit, wait, high-five, and beg. Pepper, the neighbor’s cat, is her nemesis, and she really wants to murder any kittens we bring in to foster but she restrains herself because she can tell we like them. 😄
Updates from past adopters really give me a lot of joy. If you'd like to let us know what you are up to, you can email us at owlhouseadopt@ gmail dot com . Even if you cat has passed -- since we've been adopting since 1993 -- we'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Killian the Grey checks in

Killian the Grey -- the sweet but shy-with-strangers cat who was here with us (another years-long resident) has gained a little weight but actually looks fit and trim compared to the squishy, plushy self he was here. Now he has a big apartment to romp from room to room, and one person who dote on him morning, noon and night. For those of you who met him here, you can be sure he scored an amazing home.

Killian checking in --- thin and fit!


Pepper and Timea come to visit

Some of my rescues come back to visit, when their parent has to travel. Sometimes I petsit at their home, but when I have space here on the landing, or in the three-level cage downstairs, they can come and stay with me. Pepper and Timea spent a couple of years here on the landing until they were finally adopted together by Nancy. They come to visit once or twice a year, and it's nice to get to see them -- and know they'll be leaving again on a scheduled day in the future, instead of being a big question mark, like all of the other cats and kittens who come here. I sent some pics of them off to Jo, their original rescuer. One big circle of nice.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Waking up from hibernation


It's a Saturday, and life is catching up with me. I have kittens who need adopting, cats who need home, a house that has pending projects, taxes to file, and deadlines looming. Basically, I'm facing the responsibilities of any homeowner (minus the cats of course) who owns a house that is way too big for her -- but is a heck of a lot of fun to live in.

These kitties need to be placed by spring, so I'm finally rousing myself out of my post-COVID infection malaise (I caught it on a multi-store shopping spree -- had my mask on but wasn't good at all about disinfecting my hands). Because I'm super paranoid I've isolated myself for the full two weeks plus that was recommended before health officials decided that 5 days was more important for the economy. and then super-cleaned the house to match my paranoia. 

The store shelves are empty of cough medicine, and three other people who escaped COVID for years are now dealing with it, so I'm guessing our area is now in another wave of infection. It won't make the news (because COVID news doesn't get clicks anymore), so our communities are mostly in the dark about the ups and downs of COVID, any more.

Anyway, enough of my snarkiness! 

A friend of mine and her husband are now blogging their way around the United States, and every time I get a blog update email from her, I'm reminded of my poor neglected blog here. So I've decided to update it. And since it's not one of those SEO-optimized blogs, those few of you who read it can count on my random cattiness (both the feline and attitudinal kind). I'll be sharing a link to a new, "optimized" blog in a few days (weeks?) that's my post-cat-rescue plan to continue helping cats once I've sworn off crawling under bushes and beggering my bank account. Really, I DO need to add a bit to my languishing retirement fund before I hit 65. Kittens are cute and truly provide purpose, but they won't pay my bills when I'm 70. 

At any rate, I'm getting my foster cats up on Petfinder, so if you'd like to see them, they'll be posted here (a few now, and more later!) 

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!