48-hour foster mom

We found the tiny kitten cowering under the janitor’s cart in Fellowship Hall at church. She was terrified and oh, so small. She went home with me while we tried to figure out what to do. I’d never had a kitten that tiny – well, I did when I was 4 but that doesn’t count, since my mom did all the work – and spent time on Google trying to figure out how old it might be and what it would need besides kitten food. And a new home, because I couldn’t keep it. Not only do I have other cats already, but I’m allergic to all of them!

The little one stayed in my half-bath off my kitchen for two days, going to work with me in a cat carrier and spending time curled up on my chest, napping and purring. She gobbled canned kitten food and used her makeshift litterbox. My giant orange cats were NOT happy about the visitor, glaring at me and hissing, refusing to eat or to let me touch them. They are litter mates who came to me together at age 4 months, and this little alien baby was a threat.

We went to the vet on Friday morning to have her checked out, partly because it was the right thing to do for the kitten and also because it would help me when it came to finding her a new home. Turns out “she” is actually “he” and only 5 weeks old, and tested negative for feline leukemia, which was a relief. The vet gave him a shot of antibiotics because of a cut on his lip, and a deworming treatment as a precaution because of his feral background.

My colleague at work found a new home for the little guy. When they came to pick him up, they were surprised to also take home the cat carrier, small cat bed, some toys, and kitten food that Chewy had delivered thirty minutes before they got there. I sobbed like a baby when he was gone, even though it was the right thing for him and for me.

Seeing the finish line

My house has been in chaos for five weeks. I knew it would happen but greatly underestimated how hard it would be to have so much dust in every nook and cranny, with belongings in boxes everywhere. I’m losing track of what’s where. The hardest part is corralling the kitties into the “daycare suite” so they don’t get out or in the way of the workers.

It’s almost finished, though. If all goes as planned, I have two more weeks left. Backsplash installation starts on Monday, followed by the floor. Then the following week, a day or two to finish up if needed, then crazy time with the carpenter, plumbers, electricians, and painters. I didn’t know to budget for final cleaning, but because the project budget is right on the estimate, I’m having a team of 2 come to deep clean when all the work is behind us. Then it’s time to put things back, if 1) I can find them, and 2) I remember where they go. There’s time to figure that out, though, and to assess whether I even want everything.

I love how it looks and am enjoying the changes. I wanted the kitchen done last, even though it has the biggest changes, because I wanted everything else to be more normal. Bathrooms are done, except for installing towel racks, the living room wall and garage are repaired and painted. Best of all, the screen porch is finished and the cats want to be out there every minute. I can keep the house doors open to the porch because, well, it’s screened in so bugs can’t get in. It gives me fresh air and the cats run in circles.

To be honest, I never thought I’d say that my garage was amazing but it really is now. The dryer vent was rerouted to the outside and the ceiling was repaired; the joints were coming down from moisture from the dryer. The “measuring wall” that Dad used for 30 years to measure his grandchildren was removed and will go to the ranch so my brother can measure HIS grandchildren on the same panels. Best of all, the dark wood paneling was painted beige. BEIGE. It looks clean and open and fresh. All those nails in the walls were removed so I can start fresh with where and how I want to hang tools and gear. Good thing it was completed early, since we’re using it to temporarily store kitchen appliances and equipment.

And oh, the windows! I hadn’t even planned to replace them but they have transformed the house. After a month, I’ve gotten used to them but I do not take them for granted. Instead of old metal windows with grids and seals that weren’t in the best shape, I have huge energy efficient vinyl windows with unobstructed views – well, except for the breakfast table in the living room while the kitchen is finished. I’m kind of mad at my parents for not having done window replacements because I know they would have loved the result. Now I’m planning to replace the windows in the front of the house as well, for energy efficiency and because they are both beautiful and affordable.

I’m also spending a fortune on new art for the walls. But I love everything I’ve chosen. A few pieces came with me from my previous life, but most of the house had art that had been chosen by my parents and that I didn’t really like much. My style is more images of places where I’ve lived or traveled, such as Manasquan, Maine, and Switzerland, and some whimsy as well, such as fairies and orange kitties. A tree of life for the genealogy research area in the office was always on my list.

Yesterday I received an amazing bookcase quilt that I’d commissioned a year ago from a quilter friend in New Haven. We talked about it in January but I had no idea what she decided to do, so the whole thing was a wonderful surprise. She captured elements of my life and some of my favorite books, and I love having something so personal and unique. It arrived just at the perfect time.

My friends and neighbors have followed the house progress with interest and enthusiasm, so I’m having an open house so everyone can check out the final result. The cats will be contained in the guest bedroom but everything else can be open for inspection. I chose the date based on the church, club, Pro Shop, and Cowboys schedules. I’ll have two weeks between final cleaning and the Open House, which should be enough time to get stuff put away. I’m worrying a little about what to serve, but want to keep it light and simple because the goal is to see the house, not stand or sit around and visit. I wrote up a sheet detailing everything that was done in each room, paint colors, granite vendor, etc. Hopefully that will save answering the same questions 50 times. We’ll see about that.

I never thought I could or would do something this involved or expensive, but it’s been worth it and I know I’ll love living with the results for many years to come. It’s my house now and I love how it looks.

Tessie on the Offensive

Along with warmer weather comes the chance to open the sliding door to let in the outside air, and the kitty is loving the chance to get the scents and sounds of the outdoors. She hangs out staring at the yard, waiting for Something To Happen. Tonight that Something was a visiting Other Kitty, the big black one that’s been by before and gone nose to nose through the glass with Tessie (see photo). Being able to smell each other was something quite different.

Tessie went into offensive mode, ears pricked and low growling with the tail flicking back and forth, while they had a staring contest. Then the other one started to prowl closer and Tessie let out a sound I’ve never heard her make, a loud, angry, piercing cry as she stood up and her tail got the size of a bottle brush. She completely rocked and the other cat ran away down the side of the building. Tessie’s been prowling and stalking, making sure he didn’t come back. It was quite something to watch her transform into furry fierceness.

Appreciating Sunlight

Hot sunAhhh, Saturday. I am so ready for the weekend, for the chance to putter around and wake up slowly and be in the sunlight. Yesterday was cold, dark, and heavy with rain that left big cold puddles, leading in turn to cold wet feet. On the other hand, it wasn’t snow.

I have seasonal affective disorder and days without sunlight make me all lethargic and squirrely, with short attention span and crankiness. I leave for work at 7:15, just about when the sun is rising, and I come home around 4:30, which is lighter now than it was a month ago (yayyy!). My office is in the basement of our building and it does have a small window up top that looks out at people’s feet as they go by. On a dark gray day, though, it doesn’t help much.

By the time I get to Saturday, especially in mid-winter, I’m feeling light-deprived and ready to soak up the sun. Even in the cold of winter, when hanging around outside isn’t high on my list to do, the sunlight matters.

So here I sit, sipping a cup of coffee and looking at the sun highlighting the tree outside my big windows, watching Buffy on cable. Tessie let me sleep in an extra hour before she decided it was time for breakfast and the curtains in the study are now open so light is pouring in from everywhere. It’s definitely worth the extra $50 to have a corner unit that feels more like a house when the sun comes in.

We played Bird already, Tessie’s new favorite toy. She loves chasing dangly things and this one is amazing – a 3′ long slender rod with a stretchy string attached and at the end, a feather contraption that sounds like wings flapping when it moves. Tessie loooooooooves it and she runs and jumps like a kitten as she plays. Her eyes get all black – “Stepford Cat” as one of my friends calls it – and she quivers and then pounces or leaps to catch this thing that’s invaded her house. It’s fun to watch.

Time to go make breakfast – scrambled egg on a potato roll with pudding yogurt on the side – and then get dressed and go out to enjoy the sun.

A Weekend to Relax and Unwind

MassageWhat to write, what to write. It’s been a quiet weekend here in gray and chilly Connecticut and my biggest accomplishment has been sleeping until I woke up both days. Of course, since I usually get up at 5:45 am, sleeping until 7:30 is a huge luxury.

Tessie stays curled up on the bottom of the bed, on top of the warm electric blanket, until I start to stretch and take off the CPAP mask. Then she climbs on my tummy for about a minute, and then we’re off. It takes me a good hour to wake up and I prefer to do it in my robe with a cup of coffee or a can of Diet Coke (depending on the day), watching the news and petting the kitty. It’s a nice way to start the day.

Yesterday afternoon I indulged in a full body massage, something I treat myself to as often as the budget allows. I like the background music – I think all massage therapists get theirs from the same catalog, with the sounds of water or quiet Celtic singing that we don’t understand – and the scent of the oils and lotions. I was so cozy and warm with a heating pad on the table beneath me and the chance to be very quiet and present in my body while A worked on my knots. There are always more than I realize and usually the ones that the therapist finds are worse than the ones I went in knowing about, which was true yesterday.

Today we had visits from strangers. I listed an old DVD player on Freecycle, which was picked up two hours after I posted it. Boy, was that fast! More than 10 people contacted me about it and I love that it was able to go to a good home so quickly, with just a single post and no lugging involved.

After lunch the pet sitters arrived for our consultation visit. It’s a young couple who share the responsibility of all the animals they care for, so both of them came to meet me and Tessie. I had called some references and they were recommended by my vet – and Tessie lasted about 5 minutes before she slipped away to my room to hide. Usually she’s gone the minute she hears voices other than mine. I’m comfortable with them and think they will take good care of her until I get back. They’re even going to send me email updates!

Food has been a little iffy. I’m journaling everything and trying to get in more, if not all, of the basic food groups. The essential oils are the hardest because I resent having to use points on them when they don’t seem to be real food. I’d rather have bread – but too much bread isn’t a good thing either. I did make a batch of pudding yogurt, something I haven’t done in a while. It makes a good evening substitute for ice cream plus it counts as dairy, which ice cream doesn’t. I used up odds and ends of three different bags of frozen fruit, so that also cleaned up the freezer some, too.

I made some poor choices – picking up a single serving pack of Entenmann’s donuts, for example – but even then I ate one and squished the other. Why do they think two donuts make a good portion? I succumbed to buying snacky crackery things today but got a small box of wheat things instead of a sleeve of fig newtons or peanut butter and cheese crackers. Mostly, though, I’m writing my food in advance which provides me guidance on what I will eat and know what extra I can have.

Tomorrow it’s back to work for a short week; Monday will actually be my only full day to do real work. Tuesday afternoon I have two meetings, one on electronic resources and the other on Web 2.0. Wednesday there is an all-day e-resources planning retreat from 9-4:30, followed immediately by WW. Somewhere in there, probably Tuesday, I’ll pack up for my trip to Texas. Leaving for the airport at 2:30am means I won’t get much sleep Wed. night so packing earlier gives me a head start.

I’m off to play “feather on a string” with Tessie. Hope you all had a good weekend and that your week is off to a good start.