25 April, 2018

Your politics don't define you

I've said it before, but I feel that it needs saying again - I am once again saddened by the amount of absolute hate that I see coming from people I know via social media. Just because someone has a different opinion that you does not make them wrong. Just because you believe something with your whole heart does not make you right. Wishing actual physical bodily harm on someone for having a different opinion than you is the exact same thing that you claim to be against, and the hypocrisy is making my head hurt. You can't say that you love America for its freedoms in one breath, and then turn around and say that we should ship people who have a different opinion than you off to some other country and let them see what it's like to be treated badly, to be beaten, to be a second-class citizen - that's not how it works.

My social media accounts likely just need a cleansing, but I have tried so hard to be kind to people of all walks of life - and truth be told, some of these people seem like really genuinely decent human beings - when they're not spewing hypocritical commentary. And the thing is, I know that they are actually decent human beings - and they are just like me in so many regards. They want to have a good day, be surrounded by people who make their lives better, and to know that they world will be a better place for the next generation. I don't wish a single ounce of ill will on anyone who I see strutting around social media acting tough - I just with they would realize that the things they are saying completely contradict themselves.

You can't fight hate with hate - it doesn't work that way. You just breed more and more hate, until the hate is at a dangerous level. I'm far from saying that a few of us nobodies from rural Pennsylvania can change the world and stop war, but I am fully convinced that maybe - just maybe - if we stopped acting like such know-it-alls, and really just listened to someone else's viewpoint and really understood why they felt that way, the world really would be a better place. Just because someone may label themselves as a liberal, or a conservative doesn't really mean anything about them. If I label myself as one or the other, far too many conclusions are jumped to about me - and I'd frankly rather not associate myself with either side.

Stop wishing ill will on others. Stop hating each other because of their stance on whether they think the President is doing a good job, or whether they think people should be able to afford to go to college, or whether they think there should be better background checks before people can buy guns. Wishing that someone would get killed, raped, or in any other way hurt because of how they feel about a political issue(yes - I have literally heard and seen people say these things) is the most mind-numbing thing I have ever heard.

You're better than this. I know you are. Please prove to me that you're really better than this.

24 April, 2018

Movies from the 80's

I was messing with the Amazon Fire Stick, trying to find something to watch, when I stumbled onto The Wizard Of Oz. Everyone knows The Wizard Of Oz, right? I feel like it was a staple in every child's life from the time it was released eighty or so years ago until now. But it got me thinking about movies that I grew up with as staples that other people seem to have never heard of.

Here's my little trip down memory lane...

Alice in Wonderland (IMDB link here)! No, no! Not the Disney cartoon version (though that was is pretty great in its own right, albeit a little trippy for my adult tastes). I'm talking about the 1985 made-for-television movie with the star-studded cast. I can never find people who have heard of this at all (despite finding it for sale at a Wal-Mart when I was living in Maryland). This was my go-to movie when I was home sick from school, or on snow days. I'm sure my brother Joe might even remember a good chunk of it because I watched it constantly. I'm fairly certain this movie sparked my lifelong love of unicorns, because of "The Lion and the Unicorn." The Jabberwocky in this film was absolutely terrifying, and I'm fairly certain I fast-forwarded through that scene every time. If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend grabbing it on Amazon, and settling in for the best time you ever had. I have far too many favorite parts to list, but I always love the end scene - "Can You Hear Us Alice?" Very reminiscent to me of the last scene of "Labyrinth" (but with a lot less mayhem).

Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (IMDB link here)! I don't care how old I get - I need to find time to watch this special every year at Christmastime! From the opening ice skating scene, to Bert and Ernie's version of The Gift of the Magi, to the kids and Linda singing to Bob in sign language (this gets my heart every single time). "True Blue Miracle will forever be one of my favorite Christmas songs. After all of these years, I could still watch this movie all year long - but I make myself wait until November or so to break out my DVD (a friend was kind enough to buy it for me two Christmases ago when I mentioned streaming it on YouTube every year) so that the magic never fades. This has me realizing that I'll have to write a Christmas-movie-specific post in several months, because there are just so many others that are also amazing.

The World of Strawberry Shortcake (IMDB link here)! The original Strawberry Shortcake - none of that remake nonsense. I can still sing songs from the movies, and I will randomly mention the peculiar purple pie man of porcupine peak (which always confuses whoever I mention it to - which is always fun to try to explain). This original version of Strawberry Shortcake was adorable (I very much dislike her later counterparts - but that could be because I am just so used to this adorable round-faced little girl and her precious polka-dot kitty). There were a few different movies, one of which featured these adorable little berry-kins, which were basically like baby versions of Strawberry and her friends. I mean, seriously, how could you not love the adorableness of this cartoon? I think that every girl born in the late seventies and early eighties knows Strawberry Shortcake, to be fair, but I feel like she has gotten lost in the abyss of cartoons. A quick google search first brings up pictures of the newer Strawberry Shortcake reincarnations, which is a shame to me. This will forever be THE Strawberry Shortcake. Embrace her. Love her. Quit trying to change her.

There are so many other greats of my childhood - but these make me especially nostalgic. Go watch them! What movies make you nostalgic? If you're an eighties kid like me, shoot me some titles in the comments so I can see if I remember them.


22 April, 2018

My pets' wishlist

I regularly add items to my wish list for my pets on Amazon. I actually add to that list considerably more often than I add to my own personal wish list (which basically consists of a few vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, and some cute home d├ęcor). Here are a few of the things that are on our wish list - some practical and some fun! 
  1. A really decent dog shaver. My cousin who grooms dogs professionally recommended this Andis model, for my far-too-fluffy dog, who is starting to resemble Sprocket from Fraggle Rock. We will probably opt for something cheaper to start with, and hope that it works for Tuck's thick curls.
  2. HomeoPet Feline Nose Relief. We keep one of these on hand at all times, to help ward off any runny nose issues. Because my cats are leukemia positive, a runny nose is often the sign of something worse lurking, but this has definitely helped to alleviate some of the sickness in our house.
  3. Lysine Powder! When you have cats who have compromised immune systems, every little bit of defense helps. We were prescribed Lysine chews by our vet, but no one in the house would eat them - not even the dogs! We switched over to a powder that I just mix into their food. It doesn't seem to bother them that it's there, so I plan to continue this method.
  4. Richard's Organics Pet Calm. We keep a bottle of this in the house for bad anxiety days. Luckily, we don't get those days often, but occasionally a bad thunderstorm will turn Champ into a shaking mess of a dog. This stuff must taste great, because he is always ready for it!
  5. We use a Breeze Litter System (which we highly recommend - but watch the price because it often drops down to about $35) that uses pads in the drawer underneath. I've switched from using the name brand pads to using these much-cheaper off-brand pads by GOBUDDY. Truth be told, they don't work nearly as well - but they do still work out to be cheaper for me even when I have to change them considerably more often.
  6. This really cool thermal pet bed. In fact, we might need a few! Madden is always cold, and some of the cats seem to always be looking for a warm space to hang out. We keep the house relatively cool to save on heating bills, so a few of these scattered around the house would make the babies very happy!
  7. This neat convertible bed! Is it a tunnel? Is it a bed? Either way, I have a few pets would enjoy snuggling inside things, and this would be ideal!
  8. Harlow and Leroy in particular absolutely love these Skitter Kritter mice toys! I sell them at work in a three-pack and occasionally bring them home as they always tend to disappear (I have a feeling that I am going to move my couch one day and find a graveyard of kitty toys). While those are our favorites in this house, we also like these grey and white rattling mice toys, and these colorful fuzzy mice. We are just a toy-mouse-loving family over here!
  9. Stella would love one of these awesome window seats. Her favorite pastime is sitting by the window and watching the birds and squirrels. I also plan to buy her a bird feeder this Spring, so that the bird comes closer to her.
  10. I am looking to get something like this tower of tracks toy - particularly for Zelda. I want to work with her to try to get her coordination better, and think that something like this might help.

21 April, 2018

Thoughts on my special needs cats

I'm far from being an expert on anything - including feline leukemia cats - but I really feel like I have been learning so much, especially with my current batch of little loves. Sweet little Gabby makes FeLV cat number ten (not at the same time - I lost Harper, Oscar, Sawyer, Taylor and Sully, which were my first five, and swore I could never do this ever again. Until I saw Harlow's face, of course), but I am still no expert. I know my cats, though. I know each one of them, and how their "normal" looks, and how they look if they just aren't feeling well. Luckily, most of them have yet to show symptoms of sickness. Harlow, Leroy and Andy have been the perfect pictures of health, aside from a sneeze here or there, which always puts me into a slight panic mode. Gabby came to me with crusty eyes and runny nose, but she would never let me near her to medicate her. Luckily, whatever she had has cleared up and she has become a sweet little loving kitten (but don't you dare try to pick her up, because she will holler at you).

Stella has been sickly since early on, and has been on antibiotics three times in the ten months or so that I've had her. I was able to obtain some Clavamox for her last week (so grateful for friends that are involved in rescue), and she looks and sounds better than she has in months. I actually caught her playing these last few days - and this morning she play-pounced at me to engage me in her silliness. I swore Stella wouldn't make it long at all, but here she is, thriving today. She still has slightly labored breathing, and you can hear her sniffling, but there is no longer green discharge constantly running from her nose. She is no longer lethargic. She is currently playing with toys and the cats' condo - something that if you had asked me a month ago, I never thought she would do.

My newest task is to learn how to incorporate a non-FeLV kitten into the fold (yes, we will be vaccinating!). Zelda is stronger than I realized, though, and I know she'll be fine - as soon as we get to the bottom of her issues. Why does she wobble? Can it be fixed? Will she always be a little bobble-headed baby?

I recently read a Facebook post somewhere that insulted people who take in special needs pets. After all, there are so many healthy, normal pets out there who need a home. To be fair, that person is right. I have questioned at times why I do this. Healthy pets are euthanized every single day because no one steps in to adopt them, and that really is sad. But then, if I took healthy cats, I know I would have stopped a long time ago. I would have gotten one cat - or maybe two - and called it a day. I would have never taken on six healthy cats. I know what I am getting into when I take in my feline leukemia cats. I know they might not live past two or three years old. I know that my life will be full of sadness and heartache over these sweet babies. I come to terms with that every time I fall in love with a new one. I would rather change the life of a cat (or, a pet in general) who no one else wanted to give a change, than to take the healthy cat that anyone could have taken.

20 April, 2018

Where is Spring?

I am starting to wonder if it is ever going to stop snowing here in northeastern Pennsylvania. Mother Nature is cutting into all of the plans I had of cleaning up my yard, planting flowers, and most importantly - building a catio for the kittens. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the good of living back here in Pennsylvania far outweighs the bad, and that weather is just one tiny piece of the puzzle - but I'm seriously missing warmer days right about now. My Facebook timeline cover picture right now is a photograph that I took when walking the dogs around my neighborhood about two months ago, when a random mild day popped up in February. But since then, we have only had about four more days that I would consider mild enough for outdoor activities. Of course, we all know I am going to be miserable on the really hot days this summer as well. Thank goodness there is a pool in my community, and we have air conditioners for the house. If there could be some magical place where the temperature is between fifty and seventy-five degrees all year, that would be fantastic... and if that place could be free of snakes, bonus points!

I'm thinking about buying a laptop (or maybe convincing Jeremy that if he ever decides to propose, I'd rather a really cheap ring, and a halfway decent laptop instead) so that I can spend the nice Spring mornings outside on the porch, blogging in the comfortable air. I could bring the dogs out with me so that they get some more fresh air before having to be cooped up inside before I go to work. Of course, my new work schedule will likely have me going in even earlier than I am not (5 or 6 AM, as opposed to 7 AM), so I'm not sure that the dogs and I will be sitting outside at 3 in the morning. The afternoons will be ours, though, to sit outside and enjoy the day.

For now, though, we wait. We wait patiently for the Spring - but I sure do hope it's here by next Thursday when my vacation starts.

18 April, 2018

Zelda

The kitten that I assumed had cerebellar hypoplasia was confirmed to, in fact, not have it. My undereducated self just sort of assumed that all wobbly-ness in cats was the same, but apparently there are a ton of things that it could be attributed to. Zelda (I let the boyfriend name her - how generous am I?!) is being treated for (but not officially diagnosed with) toxoplasmosis. Two weeks on antibiotics should give us an idea whether that's what it is. Otherwise? It's back to the vet for some more ideas. Two weeks of quarantining, of daily antibiotics, and of being extra careful when dealing with her litter box.

I guess it's sort of a blessing that I took her in without knowing her feline leukemia status. Had she been positive, I probably would have let her just mingle with the others, which it turns out could have gotten them sick. I was worried about getting her sick, but it looks like I had it backwards. We did run a test today and determined that baby Z is negative, which will likely mean a feline leukemia vaccination at our visit in two weeks.

My vet seemed relieved when I made it clear that I was okay with whatever issue this might be. As long as the baby continues to seem happy, and not in pain, we're going to figure this out. I assume that she thought I would euthanize if antibiotics didn't improve her situation, but that is certainly not my plan. If she gets to a point where she is clearly in pain, and her quality of life is awful, we will discuss that then. But for now? She's just an odd little wobbly-headed kitten with a huge personality, and tons of love to give out. 

Oh, and I swear I'm done now. I SWEAR. I'm thinking about changing my number so that cat rescue people quit calling me.

17 April, 2018

Eight days until vacation!

Next Thursday starts my vacation! My original reason for taking vacation when I did was that I planned to go to Florida for a few days (and meander on the way down and back to see other places) for the sole purpose of going to a Thom and Coley show. Unfortunately, my two road trip buddy girl friends were unable to take the week off with me. Then it became a boyfriend and I trip idea, but realized that it wouldn't financially work (plus we weren't going to be able to secure a pet-sitter for the crew for the week - we really do need to get an RV that the critters can all travel with us in). I decided to go ahead and take the time off of work anyway, and just use the time to do some things locally.

We are less than a week out, and I am sitting here trying to figure out what I plan to do for the eight days that I have off. So far, the only real plan I have is to attend a paint night at my friend's church next Friday, and to head to the Lancaster area at some point for breakfast at Shady Maple Smorgasbord (because seriously, that's 100% worth the three hour drive - plus my friend Adele lives close enough to there that I am trying to get her to come see us when we go, and it's an opportunity for Jeremy to go shopping at Cabela's on the way there or back, which he's pretty thrilled about). Other than that, I have zero actual plans. 

I am wishing and hoping for warmer weather during vacation week so that I can walk all or most days. The dogs would appreciate that as well, I'm sure. My neighborhood is a pretty awesome spot for walking, as it's nice and quiet, and also manages to offer some pretty awesome views. I loved the handful of nice days we got this year so far that allowed me to go walking with the dogs. There are also some really great local state parks, one of which I particularly love visiting. There's a few parks I haven't visited yet that I'm looking forward to checking out. I feel like my week counting down to vacation is going to be crazy-busy (tomorrow is my only day off between now and then), but I can't wait. I am so looking forward to just spending time doing what I want to do, for eight whole days. Now I just need to find a way to get all of the chores around the house that I need to do done before vacation so that I have a bit less to worry about.

16 April, 2018

Absolutely nothing

Before I really start getting into this, I just want to point out that I am not political - at all. I don't generally offer opinions on things, because to be entirely honest, I am very uneducated on all things political. I see people spouting off uneducated opinions constantly (ahh, social media - thanks for that aspect), and I never want to sound like them - especially the ones who clearly read nothing, or who are doing nothing more than sharing a meme which a few seconds of fact checking prove is filled with inaccurate (or even outright wrong) information. I refrain from posting opinions or even links to articles on my Facebook (I'll stick to inspirational quotes, occasional selfies with good lighting, and pictures of my pets, thank you very much), but I am pretty surprised right now that I don't see more people offering up opinions about the attack on Syria the other night.

Here's the thing - I don't even know what is going on in Syria. Other than those haunting images a while back of children, bloodied in the back of an ambulance after being attacked by their own people (right? Without me pulling up some research, isn't that it?). But we (you know, not me personally, and not even the United States on its own - France and England were with us on this) dropped some bombs on Syria the other night. And now Russia seems to be threatening us (or warning us) for doing it. You know, despite the fact that Russia is supposed to be kind of patrolling Syria's airspace - and they knew we were coming, and I'm pretty sure the general conversation was something like "Yeah, that's cool... just bomb over here, and we'll move our planes over there, so you can do your thing." Did people somehow miss this? Perhaps my mind is picturing things all wrong, but apparently Russia did manage to shoot down some of our bombs before they hit their targets, but I'm picturing the entire mess being pretty lackadaisical. 

I just don't understand why everyone can't just let people live in peace and leave other people alone. Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't step in when a government is using chemical weapons against its own people. I feel like that should somehow be our obligation - to look out for those who need it. But how could it possibly get like this in the first place? What person thinks "gee, I think I'll use these chemical weapons against five-year-olds today..." What is the end-goal? What do they think they're going to accomplish? Everyone always seems to want more than they have. More money, more land, more stuff. For what? Granted, I would love some money and some land - but mine is because I realize how much good I could do for others if I had the resources - not because I want a shiny new fancy car and a house made out of diamonds. I want more money so I can help those in need. I understand the need for government in some form. I understand the need for laws, and for order. But this constant need to fight? This need to be better than everyone else or to have more land or things than everyone else? Imagine the good that could be done if we'd stop fighting and start working together toward a better world.

Perhaps I'm just some overly optimistic hippie. I just can never grasp why people must be so horrible. Maybe we could spend some of the energy we spend destroying things to build things instead. Maybe instead of murdering your people, you could educate them, feed them, help them. Maybe instead of spending money on bombs, we could spend it on housing and support for homeless veterans, or for mental health support for those who need it. Plant a garden. Create art. Teach people worthwhile life skills.

But no, that'll never work. It's back to war we go...

15 April, 2018

Rescued is my favorite breed

Somehow in my attempt to rescue animals, I've become "that girl who takes special needs cats." The truth of the matter is - I kind of love that. The phone calls in the evening telling me that there's a cat who has no potential adopter, who will probably end up at a shelter, who will likely be put to sleep because she's a little bit different. I'm at the point where I just can't possibly take on anything else. I live paycheck-to-paycheck, and vet bills aren't cheap when your pets are healthy and normal - amplify that by a bit to understand what it's like to have feline leukemia positive cats. Add to that the fact that one is consistently ill with what seems to be a pretty rotten respiratory issue... add to it that one of them is deaf (and while that doesn't actually seem to affect him health-wise at all, it's just one more thing to try to understand), and now add to it that one kitten appears to have cerebellar hypoplasia (we're still working on research on that one, and she'll be seen by a vet later this week for a confirmation of that diagnosis). Add all of that to the fact that I have three small dogs, who are all generally healthy (other than the fact that they're getting older - a fact I hate to admit - and that I've started to supplement in some joint care products, and the fact that I occasionally have to deal with issues, like when Madden broke a toenail).

It's not even so much the expense of it all, though cat and dog food add up, as do toys (they have to have toys, right?!), cat condos, beds, blankets, litter and litter boxes, medications, and the ever-dreadful vet bills... but it's time consuming. I wake at 4:30 every morning to give myself time to take the dogs out, feed the cats, clean the litter boxes, medicate anyone who might need it (at this point it's just Stella... but it's been Stella for months). I leave for work at about 6:20 in the morning, and get home somewhere around 4:45 in the afternoon on a good day (I spend all day at work on my feet, so I come home tired and occasionally sore - I average about 13,000 steps during the work day). The dogs get taken out again and get fed. The cats get fed, litter boxes cleaned (usually once before they eat and once after), dogs fed (and now we're adding cooked chicken to their meals, so occasionally having to cook that and/or rice), dogs taken out at least two more times before the night is through. Everyone played with and petted so they don't think I'm being a bad mommy. And of course, because of my early morning alarm, I'm usually in bed by at 9:00. There are some days that I'm crawling into bed around 7:30 (not so much now that it's finally light out in the evening - but the winter was killing me!).

The thing is, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love that there are sweet little animals that need me. I love that Leroy spends time on my lap every single morning when I take my time to blog, or browse Facebook, or shop on Amazon for pet supplies I need. I love that after all of these years, Madden still seems to need me, and spends most nights curled up behind the bend of my knee while I sleep. I love that I can see progress with Stella when I'm medicating her (the last few days and a friend getting us some clavamox have made a world of difference! We're so grateful!). I love watching Gabby make progress socially - she actually solicits petting at this point! So many moments are so rewarding, and they make the hard, hectic times so worth it.

I wish money was more readily available, but we've learned to bargain shop, and we've found cheaper alternatives when it comes to things like litter box solutions. I wish time was more readily available. I wish I had more time to give everyone loads of individualized attention, but there just aren't enough hours in the day. Everyone gets loved on every day - thankfully my boyfriend is here to help with some of that load, and Harlow, Champ and Tucker seem to lean a lot toward him, so it sort of offsets things. I wish it was easier to get medications for pets when people know what they're doing (having to spend fifty dollars to be told "your cat needs antibiotics!" when I told them that when I called is incredibly frustrating). I wish I had an endless supply of things like clavamox, eye ointments, and ear treatments. But this is the life I have chosen, and we always find a way to make it work - a lot of times it means doing without something silly that I might have liked to have, because one of the pets needs something. We've had amazing support from friends who've stepped in to help with vet bills when things have gotten extremely tough in the past. We are so grateful that people help us out when we need it.

I need to go cuddle a cat now... and be grateful that though my guys don't get a long life (average life expectancy with feline leukemia is two to three years), that they get a good life, and they are shown so much love while they're here with me.

13 April, 2018

Longing for faraway places

Most of the time, I am extremely grateful that I have been able to travel a little bit around the eastern United States, and have lived in a handful of states so far in my life. But today? Today I am thinking about sitting on the front porch of Casa Fiesta in Antioch, Tennessee, enjoying nachos and a margarita. I am thinking about the amazing view from Ray's Seafood in Rye, New Hampshire (and their key lime pie - of course their key lime pie). I am thinking about walking down the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the quietness of the fall when everyone has gone home for the season, but the casinos are still buzzing with life. I'm thinking about walking up and down Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee - live country music leaking out of Legend's Corner and Tootsie's. I'm thinking about late-evening adventure with my friend Rachel in Maryland, though we usually just ended up at Denny's, talking about nothing and everything. I'm thinking about going to visit my friend Adele, and how I'd always convince her that it's always a good time for some Shady Maple. I'm thinking about how easy it was when I lived close to my best friends, and how I could just call Beth and tell her I'd be right over, and we'd sit and talk and have a drink on her back patio - which was only a hundred yards or so from my own.

Once in a while, I let myself get lost in my thoughts of the places I have lived or visited. Sometimes, it's simply nostalgia or a craving for a certain food that northeastern Pennsylvania seems to be lacking. Roots are great, of course, but having been immersed in other places makes me a little sad sometimes. Sad for the friends I left behind when I moved on, and sad for the places and experiences that I can't just relive on a whim.

Sometimes, I just want to feel the breeze from the Great Lakes, or view Niagara Falls from the observation desk, or have my feet in the sand on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.

My vacation starts in two weeks, but has evolved more into a staycation, so I am going to make myself soak up northeastern Pennsylvania for all it has to offer. One day, I may be sitting somewhere else in the country, and long for something that just can't be replicated that reminds me of my childhood here, or something that I discovered when I came back as an adult.

I wish I could just take all of the places and people and things that I love and miss, and put them together so that I can visit them easily whenever I like. But then, I guess that would make them less special.