Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Kitten update

Kittens' Nest Site
Originally uploaded by JugglingScarves.
This is where they used to live. The nest was right in that hole (it's in about the middle of the picture). Compared to that wee space, I'm thinking a cat carrier with a towel, water bottle, makeshift litter pan in the back, and food brought in a few times a day must be a great big step up, comfort-wise. The view isn't as good, though. Nothing to look at but the baseboards of the kitchen cabinets. Also, there's the whole matter of being on the wrong side of a locked door.

Shortly after the last blog entry, I emailed a friend of a friend and asked for advice. She suggested I call that adoption/fostering agency I'd mentioned last time. I assumed (wrongly, thank goodness) that they wouldn't be open on the weekend. Apparently they're open to the public only on weekends. I talked to someone Sunday who promised to forward my information to the person who coordinates fostering and adoption for cats. I gave her as many of the particulars as I had (not sure of age. I think 6 weeks--eyes are open, ears are up, they have teeth, and can eat solid food), told the woman I was planning to take them to the vet sometime this week, and gave her every phone number I have. She had a great suggestion, which I employed immediately.

She suggested I cut off the end of a shoe-box, put it in the back of the carrier, and put some cat box filler in it. She said they'd probably know what to do with it, and this way I wouldn't need to change towels nearly so often. I was a little skeptical about the "they'll know what to do" part. They've never seen a litter box in their lives. Guess what? Shortly after I did that, I heard one of them scratching around in it. Son of a gun! Wish dogs were that easy to potty train. Or people, for that matter.

I've been letting them out every once in a while to run around in the bath tub--treating it sort of like a play pen. While they were in the tub the first time, I tried a water dish again, using a saucer instead of the plastic thing I used last time. It took me dipping my finger in the water and rubbing their mouths with it before they paid any attention to the saucer. Then they drank it dry, twice. That made me nervous. I didn't want them getting dehydrated, but I was pretty sure that if I put a water dish in that carrier with them they'd just knock it over again.

Well, duh! How many hamsters and gerbils did my sister and I have when we were kids? What about a water bottle? I could hook it to the metal grille of the door. And so, kitties back in the carrier after play time, I went out and got one. Works great.

I need to reiterate that I've never done this before. Please remember that what may look like simple common sense has to filter through a bit of worry that I might accidentally harm while trying to help.

I think I've got one boy and one girl. They're both tan and black tabbies. The male's stripes are much thinner than the (I think) female's. I say I think she's a she because she doesn't like me picking her up, so I only got a quick glance. The male is much more outgoing, a risk-taker. He's the one who was on top of the stump hollering for help. He was the first one down the tree, the first one to climb up the gully, and the first one to let me pet him. He talks to me a lot.

She is reserving judgment for now. Sometimes she'll give me a long, measuring look and then mew, and sometimes she gives a little baby hiss. Comes out more like "Hhhh" than an adult cat's hiss. I'm perversely pleased by the hissing. Everytime she does it, I think, "Good for you! Don't trust someone just because they're keeping you alive. They could have ulterior motives."

I tried my vet for an appointment, and even after I explained the situation, the receptionist said the best she could do was June 14th. That's two weeks away! I told her apologetically that I'd check with other vets first to see if I could find anything sooner. A coworker suggested the place she uses--it's a veterinary hospital. It's much closer to me, and there are a bunch of vets associated with it, so there'd be a better chance of an earlier appointment. I did that, and now we're going Friday at 4. Much better than June [expletive] 14th.

One of the things the receptionist at the hospital asked was about names for the kittens. I guess they need it for their files. "I, um, I'm trying not to get too attached. I can't keep them." So for now the boy is "Kitten One" and the girl is "Kitten Two."

Delilah is still acting funny. She's been extremely quiet. She's 3/4 Siamese (mom was full, dad was 1/2), and is usually very, very vocal. Since Saturday she's maybe given me two very quiet meows. Sticks to me like flypaper, though. When she's in my lap, she purrs up a storm. But then, she usually does. Since her first look into the carrier, she hasn't been back into the kitchen. It's like she's deleted it from her mental map of the apartment. I've moved her food and water to the bathroom, near the sink.

She came into that bathroom once when I had the kittens running around in the tub--they're relaxed enough now that they're starting to play, by the way. I think that's a good sign. Anyway, she let me hold her while she watched them for a moment or two. She didn't growl or anything, just took it in. Then she asked to leave. I wish I knew what she's thinking. I hope she's not worried that she's getting replaced.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Unexpected houseguests

Unexpected Houseguests 1

There was a feral cat living in the woods behind my building. This past Monday was the last time I saw her, and the first time I knew she was a mommy. I was coming back from the laundry room, and she was on the sidewalk ahead of me. Instead of vanishing into the underbrush the way she always does, she started meowing. Sounded distressed. And then I heard it: teeny little kitten mews in the woods. One of the kittens was out of the nest, looking for her, and she was torn between whether to go put the baby back where it belonged or lure me away from the nest. I saw it, too. It was a minature version of her--white with stripes. I decided to let myself be led away.

A few days later, I heard the kitten again, very loud and insistent. Its voice was joined by another, just as urgent-sounding. Some of my neighbors came out to see what the noise was about, and one of them got right up to where the kittens were. He said there were three of them in a tree trunk. We were conflicted about whether to take them out of the nest or not. I figured Mama Cat was just off hunting somewhere, and would be back soon. We agreed to leave them there, untouched, because if she smelled human scent on them she might not feed them when she came back.

When I came home from work yesterday, I heard nothing from the woods. Today, however, more crying. And now there are only two kittens. That little whitish one is gone. I don't know what happened, and I don't think I want to know. The two remaining ones were so hungry that they came out of the woods to me. I sat on a rock in the gully that separates the woods from the lawn, and watched them climb down the tree trunk, come through the underbrush, and walk right up to me. They'd sniff me and back away, but they never left entirely. I'm pretty sure now that something has happened to the mother cat. Either she tangled with a ground hog (I've seen quite a few of them around this year), or got hit by a car, I don't know. The kittens were hungry enough start chewing dead leaves they found in the gully.

So I went into the apartment and got the cat carrier, put a towel in it, and went back out to the woods. I didn't even need to climb back into the gully -- they scaled the side of it to get to me. They're now in my kitchen. I fed them some dry cat food (it's all I have. They ate it, though), and gave them a little bowl of water. The water may have been a mistake. All they do is step in it.

I need to get them to a vet, to see if they're healthy. I'm pretty sure they have fleas, and goodness know what else. They've been living in the woods, after all. Of course I decided to play savior after my vet's office closed for the day. I doubt very much any of the vets in town have Sunday hours, and Monday is Memorial Day--no one will be open. So it looks like Tuesday, provided I'm not on the reference desk at an inconvenient time.

I have no idea what to do with them after a vet's visit. I can't keep them. My lease only allows for one animal, and that would be Delilah. The local SPCA is a little too quick to destroy animals. Now granted, these are kittens and probably easier to place than an adult cat, but still, I don't want to run the risk of them being destroyed. In reaction to the SPCA's practices, a group has formed that acts as a sort of pet adoption agency/foster center. These animals live in peoples' homes temporarily until someone else adopts them. There's usually a waiting list to get animals into this program.

Delilah's been in the kitchen to see what's making all the noise in the cat carrier (they were crying to be let out a while ago. They seem to have settled down now). I don't know what's going on in her head. She hid for a while, then sat on the bed staring at me for a while, and now she's curled up asleep--nowhere near me. Normally when I'm on the computer, she's right next to me in her bed. I think she's upset with me.

If Mama Cat is alive, I'm sorry for the distress this will cause her. But I've spoken with other people who saw this cat more regularly than I did, and she hasn't been seen in days. I feel justified in taking these little things in. I think they would have starved to death out there.

I just wish I knew what to do now. Maybe the vet will have some ideas. She probably gets things like this all the time.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Inspection imminent

My apartment complex is getting inspected soon. I had a feeling this was going to happen, what with the new CO- and smoke-detectors they put in last February.

I came back from fetching my camera from the UPS depot two weeks ago to find a typed-up letter from the management (we all got one) warning that the maintenance folks would be in and out of apartments for a while, doing pre-inspection inspections, to see what needed fixing before the Code Dude (not his official title) came to look things over.

It's hard to take a person seriously when they write you a letter asking you to make sure your apartment is kept in a "clean and tidy manor." Spell-check strikes again.

So anyhow, that's where I've been for a week and a half, furiously cleaning my apartment. The usual image of my mother standing on her hips looking disgusted has been replaced by one of a faceless bureaucrat with a clipboard--someone who really is an authority on pig sties.

The bathroom looks great, the kitchen pretty good, the living and sleeping areas are a nightmare. I have come to a conclusion: I have too much stuff. Just when I think I've got a handle on things I find more crap. DVDs, CDs, magazines (mostly about embroidery or jewelry-making), yarn, embroidery supplies, jewelry-making supplies, books. Good Lord! The books! They're everywhere! I am officially not allowed to buy one more book until I read everything I have.

I also need to stop hanging onto clothes that are too big for me. I don't ever want them to fit again, so why are they still there? And why oh why do I have so many socks? I probably won't need to do sock-laundry for the next two months. They're all white. All about the same length. Where did they all come from? I thought you were supposed to lose socks in the laundry, not find them. Or maybe this is what happens--at one end of a wormhole is a clothes-dryer. At the other, a closet floor. The socks get pulled through the wormhole and pop out the other side, having lost all color and distinguishing features.

Or maybe every once in a while I go buy socks, thinking for some strange reason that I don't have enough.

I have an entire shelf in my closet devoted to jigsaw puzzles. I haven't put together a puzzle since I got the computer, mainly because the computer sits on the only surface I have that's large enough to accommodate puzzles. Oh wait, I tell a lie. I remember buying a difficult one the week my Grandma was visiting. She was staying at my parents' place, and I went upstate for a visit, puzzle box under my arm. We spent most of our time chatting and putting that thing together. My mother was grateful. She always felt at a loss for how to keep her mother-in-law entertained.

I need that shelf space. I think a coworker of mine is going to be inheriting those puzzles, because she foolishly told me a few weeks ago that she's just recently picked that up as a hobby. I'll make sure I only give her the ones with all the pieces, though. I'm desperate, not cruel. Well, not today.

The cat is trying to figure out what the blue blazes is going on. The first few days, she hid every time I started to head off for work. If you'll remember from the post I did on cleaning back in February, the next step after cleaning is wrestling the cat into the pet carrier, to keep her from getting underfoot of whoever's coming that day. But she's not hiding anymore, because I haven't tried to crate her. I think she's decided that I'm just going crazy, and that I now enjoy spending my spare moments taking apart and slowly putting back together the various set-ups in my teeny little apartment.

Inspection isn't for another month. It was supposed to be this week, but the complex was granted an extension because they had a lot of things to fix. Whew. That gives me more time to get things organized. Although it means once I'm done, I'm not allowed to touch anything until the end of June. Hmmm. We'll have to see how that goes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I've been hit by a rather aggressive spammer in my comments box. I've received the odd spam comment before now, sighed, shrugged, and deleted it. This particular program, though, sent 12 in 15 minutes. So on goes the word verification.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What, me worry?

Called my Mom recently and during the course of the conversation she mentioned that she's having a stress test soon. She had some sort of painful attack recently that she thinks has to do with a hernia, but the doctor wants to rule out a heart condition. She kinda slid it in there, between talk about the new riding mower they just bought, how the garden is shaping up this year, and what silliness the dog has been up to lately.

She then informed me that she wouldn't have told my sister or me at all, except that we made "such a big deal" about that time she thought she'd had a stroke and never told us until after all the tests came back negative. They still don't know what happened that time, but it's never recurred. I can't have a hangnail without her needing to know about it, but she thinks she might have had a stroke and is surprised when we got mad at her for keeping the information to herself? She didn't want us to worry, I suppose, which means I'm expected to act nonchalant now that she's told me about this test. If I get all upset, see, she'll never tell me anything again.

So I'm going to sit here quietly and churn stomach acid for a while, until I get told that my Mommy's okay.

Watching the tumbleweeds blow by

It's been like a ghost town since Friday of finals week. Graduation was this past weekend, and summer classes started this morning. It's still very, very quiet out there. And so I give you "Stray Bits II"

Bumper sticker
: "EARTH FIRST! We'll screw up the other planets later."

Best Underground Newspaper/Alternative Press Title Ever: (So far. I'm only in the B's) The Buddhist Third Class Junk Mail Oracle (has the variant title of The Barking Rabbit)

With Friends Like These: Overheard on a bus. The young lady was discussing the return to town of her "best friend from high school" with (I assume) her boyfriend:

"You remember Bob. Dirty, skanky, hippie Bob?"
"Ohhhhh. Yeah."
"He's back. Still filthy." Silence for a moment. Then, "You wanna go over and say hi?"
He shrugs. She pulls the cord, and they get off at the next stop.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


My camera's come home! Yay! In celebration (and to make sure it's working) I took the accompanying picture of the cat. The second I pointed the camera at her, she came over all coy and decided to pretend she was asleep.

The hafla was a lot of fun. Some of my (more advanced) fellow students performed -- one to Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride," which went over pretty well. My teacher and two of the members of the Tribal class did some improv dancing, the teacher playing zills the whole time. Then they did a piece of a choreography that they're putting together for a show next month -- dancing with swords! That was pretty cool. At one point they were each balancing a blade on one hip while dancing, and at another point they had the blades on their heads (like this). Wow.

After all the performance pieces were done, we moved some of the tables out of the way, joined hands, and did the "circle bellady" dance we'd been taught while our teacher played zills and her private student/apprentice played a drum. I managed to do that without tripping over myself. Then she put on some music and we cut loose. Well, most of us did. I got hit by a wave of shyness and sat down a little while after we were done the circle dance. I preferred to watch people who knew what they were doing and make mental notes.

I brought my friend the Chief Loon with me. As we were leaving the party she turned to me and said, "Now I want to belly dance." She also pointed out that you could really see the difference between our teacher and most of the students. She's right. When we dance, we concentrate on the muscle we want to move and hold everything else fairly still. When my teacher dances it appears effortless and fluid. I wonder how long it took for things to get like that.

I'm noticing some improvement in my own dancing. This past Sunday was the start of a new 8-week session. Most of the women who were in the class with me last time have graduated to Belly Dance 2 -- they'd been in BD1 for quite a while, some of them at least a year. Last Sunday we had six new people, one other woman from the previous session, and me. Our teacher went through the whole introduction again--positioning, arms, walking--and then had us walk in a circle, just like last time. I caught sight of myself in the mirrors and was pleased. I look like I know what I'm doing. I don't have to remind myself to keep my lower abdomen pulled in, or to roll my shoulders back. Looks like I'm catching on.

I'm on my lunch break, so I have to cut this short. I'll try to remember for next time to explain the difference between "tribal" belly dance and what I'm learning.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Desperately waiting for fashions to change

Clothes-shopping makes me grumpy.

All I wanted was a skirt and blouse to wear to the hafla today. The skirt was easy, I found that right off. Apparently the long, flowing "bohemian" style is back in. Great, wonderful, that'll be good to dance in. Now, finding a top, that's another story. How come all the summer tops are sheer, or have these teeny tiny little spaghetti straps? Call me old-school, but I really don't want my undergarments showing through or peeking out from under my clothes. It took 10 minutes to find a skirt, two hours to find a blouse. Thank goodness I wasn't looking for slacks, I'd probably have been in the mall until the place closed for the night.

Part of the down side of living in a college town is that most of the clothes you find in shops are aimed at the twenty-something set. I haven't been twenty-something for a while, and even if I did want to dress younger, I don't much care for the style right now. Almost everything looks like it's been shrunk in the wash. The clothes are too tight, and the waists of the bottoms don't even attempt to meet the waists of the blouses. You get about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of exposed skin. It looks all right on a certain body type (that of a stick insect, I mean), but for those of us who aren't a toned and fit size 6, it just looks horrible. We keep getting told that the U.S. is the fattest population on Earth, and then we're expected to wear sausage casings. Is this to prove a point? Are they trying to embarass us into looking better? 'Cause it ain't working. Most people just wear that horrible stuff whether it looks right on them or not, and when I walk down the street I wonder whether no one checks a mirror before they leave the house anymore.

I'm not what you'd call slender. In fact, I'm a bit chunky. I'm working on fixing that, and since I started a couple of years ago I've lost 100 pounds. Then my Grandma died, I got a bit depressed, and 20 of those lost pounds found their way back home again...but I am resolved. They are not here permanently.

I'm nowhere near my goal weight yet. The losing of those pounds only brought me down from "obese" to "overweight." I'm still not in any sort of shape to be wearing clothes that expose my belly. Funny, then, that I should take up belly dancing as a hobby, where the end result (supposedly) is to get up and dance in front of people in a costume that shows a lot of skin. I figure by the time I'm coordinated enough to do that, I'll be closer to the way I want to look. It's a very, very long-term goal.

And in the mean time, I guess if I want to find an outfit, I'll need to take a day off of work to do it. Oy.

Must dash. Going to go paint my toenails. If I'm dancing barefoot, my feet should look happy, no?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What's been going on

There was a forest fire yesterday, on a mountain the next town over. This mountain doubles as the local ski resort. They had it mostly under control by this morning, but have lost about 400 acres of forest. Luckily, no one was hurt, though I'm sure the wildlife didn't get off so easily. The fire started when a tree fell on a power line and set off sparks. We haven't had much rain lately, which is why the thing caught as fast as it did. We couldn't see the fire at all where I live, but we got a lot of the smoke. It smelled of autumn (when people around here tend to rake their fallen leaves into big piles and burn them), and yet it looked like spring. It's an odd juxtaposition, and contradictory sensory input made for much confusion in the brain. At least it did with me.

I know it's been a while since I posted. Sorry. I've got a project at work that involves a lot of typing in Word and Excel, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit in front of another computer and type some more. Not to mention that the weather has been glorious, which keeps me out until dark. All sorts of trees are flowering. There are lilacs in bloom everywhere and sometimes when I pass one I get overcome with the need to go bury my nose in the blossoms -- after first checking for bees, of course.

It's finals week for the university. A very tense hush has settled over the area. All around campus and in various eating-places downtown you will find bleary-eyed, overcaffeinated, anxious students, trying desperately to cram into their brains every stray fact from every page of notes from every class they went to over the past four months. The library is open until 2 AM this week, everyday until Friday. We close early on Friday because the last final starts at 6:15 PM. Every student who isn't taking a test or preparing to take one is either out getting drunk or has already skipped town for the summer.

I encountered my first "last final drunk" of the semester on the bus ride home today. It was approximately 6:30, she'd been drinking since 4, and I'm pretty sure she'd already hit the stage where she won't be remembering how she got home. She got off the bus looking like she wanted to hug all of us good bye, but she settled for a wave and a heartfelt (if slurred), "Have a great evening, everyone!"

My belly dance instructor has put together a hafla for this Saturday, which also happens to be my Ditter's birthday. A "hafla," as it's been explained to me, is an Arabic word for "party." There's dancing involved. Anyone who wants to can get up and perform--they just have to run it by the teacher before the event. She's taught us all a dance that we're supposed to get up and do together at the end of the party--a folk dance, done in a circle. I'm looking forward to it. I'm bringing the Chief Loon with me.

That's about it. It really has been beautiful out. I wish I had my camera. I had to send it off to Connecticut to be fixed, and I don't know when I'll get it back. Soon, I hope. I bought a one-use camera, which is what I used to do before I had my digital one. I think I've been spoiled by being able to see right away how the picture will look, though.

I'll write more after the hafla. I'm sure there will be things to tell you.