marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Which is...nope, this will not be a picture post.

One of the many things I've been meaning to post before a bad storm, broken roof, bleak financials, Donald Trump, Comcast, and all sorts of assholery gone asundry sort of broke my concentration was the problem of having two black homeless kittens living outdoors (right outside my door, in fact) with Halloween coming. Though I'm not going to talk about it nor link to examples, people are sick. One way they prove it is by grabbing black cats on Halloween for "Satanic rituals". I won't discuss this because it's so stomach-turning, so (eventually) I'll discuss what I did (or didn't) do about it, instead.

Just to refresh memories, the last week of June, a few days before July 4th, someone in the next apartment building over decided it was the best idea ever to let a litter of five, approximately eight-week old kittens who'd never been outdoors go play in traffic around our apartment complex. Two distant neighbors along with OP and I noticed and simultaneously freaked out trying to figure out whose they were and what to do.

While we were talking with one of them, a fast red sports car came zooming down the road and almost hit one kitten but I think I saved it by yelling, "HEY!!! GET OUT OF THE ROAD" in my toughest NY accent to scare it away. It soon chased itself up a tree after another kitten, who quickly shimmied back down, but the one I'd yelled at was still up there when OP grabbed him and handed him to me to bring inside, which he knew I'd do because it was Stuie all over again an irresistible black and white kitten who I was still turning into a puddle of OMG, AAAWWWW over at that moment.

Bowie was the first one in, just a few days shy of July 4th. From that night on I was letting the kittens who eventually became Pippy and Tab-tab in to play, but figured I couldn't handle more than three cats, so every night they went back out. The two black kittens rounding out the litter were shyer and more independent, so didn't come in as much. Within a few weeks of Bowie's arrival I realized he was having such a great time with one grey kitten, who seemed like his twin, that I should keep him around as Bowie's companion.

By then the creatively named Tab-tab (a tabby who still had no name) was coming in a few times a week, while the black kittens were showing up constantly. I kept both black kittens overnight about a month after bringing Bowie in (early August) only to wake up the next morning with wet, sloppy poops all over the litter boxes and living room rug, and no idea which black kitten dropped them, or if both were to blame.

Sick and not litter-box trained? Couldn't deal with it. So back outside they went. They had no desire to stay inside if the outdoors was on offer, and someone else around here was apparently feeding them, so I wasn't too concerned. Realizing the black kittens were non-starters over poop issues, I began letting Tab-tab in more because Bowie and Pip seemed to like having another kitten to keep the party going, and watching them play was fun, but unlike the black kittens, not only didn't he mind leaving, he wanted to after a night of festivities.

A month and a half into this Bowie and Pip stayed inside, the black kittens were allowed to stay until they acted like they had to use a litter box and then out the door they'd go, and the tabby came and went as he pleased. Then one night, hours after he'd been let out, the tabby almost tore our kitchen screen apart asking to be let back in. He'd never done that before. While I've been trying to train him to stay in ever since, he never leaves for more than a few hours and was soon christened Tab-tab (by me, because I just couldn't stop calling him that. He learned his name faster than any other kitten, fwiw.).

By then it was the middle of August and everyone was fairly secure except the black kittens. A few weeks later the storm hit and they had to ride it out outside (probably hiding under one of the buildings). A black kitten was the first living thing I saw besides downed trees and people walking around in a daze about 6 o'clock the next morning. And I was already worried about Halloween. I'd spoken to a lady right before the storm in the next apartment building over who claimed the kittens were hers, but she said someone "stole" one from her - another lady living in an apartment row nearby ours.

I had clear and obvious trouble sympathizing, as she basically let the kittens live outside, and expressed that, but she said it's "natural" for them to go outdoors. I guess it's also natural to spray all-natural, "organic" cat poison all over them, her house and balconies. That's what peppermint flea spray turned out to be, according to some online reviews I've read. It might've even been why at least one kitten couldn't control its poop and why both seemed more depressed than the kittens we kept.

Both kittens were still running around when the power was finally restored weeks later, and came in the night it was turned back on just to party with our kittens, but at least one still had a pooping problem, so back out they went. I never saw one of them again; I'm assuming that was the "stolen" one. The other kept coming around every day, but most definitely had a litter box/pooping on the rug issue, so wasn't allowed to stay, because we're not able to deal with a cat who needs a vet that desperately right now.

The last few weeks of October made me...forgive the pun, nervous as a cat trying to think what to do with him. I'd never forgive myself if I saw any Halloween spook scoop him up or if I found him maimed or dead or even if he just disappeared, which would worry me owing to the time of year. I couldn't sleep sometimes for thinking about it. Even if I could take him the shelter, I didn't want to; I was afraid black cats get put down more often for being black, for being the stuff of so many superstitions and nightmares which simply aren't right.

The mother of all five kittens has since gotten a home in the same row of apartments that the other black kitten was supposedly, uh, spirited off to, and still comes by to say hi but wants nothing more to do with her last brood, so refuses to come say hi to them.

One morning about a week before Halloween I was standing outside with OP when I saw a young lady I'd never seen before standing alongside the same road Bowie almost got hit on, looking in the brush as though looking for a cat. I mean, I know the look. Because that day I was a witch (oooh, a sort of non-spooky, if very late Halloween story) I turned to OP and said, "If that lady takes the remaining black kitten, would you be OK with that?" He had a strong liking for him; they'd bonded a little. He looked a bit shocked but said, "Yeah, that's fine", so I walked into the road to ask which cat she was looking for.

Turns out she was looking for the mother, according to the description she gave me, who, she added, was pregnant ("Again?" I asked, which started the very conversation I wanted to have about the remaining black kitten, who helpfully enough, walked by just as I began talking about him). I hadn't seen the mother in a few weeks and cats don't tend to drop until almost right before birth, so that's how I came to find out a second litter is or was about to be born.

She agreed a black cat running loose on Halloween is not a good idea and to take the kitten, who I carried inside her apartment. She immediately cracked a can of wet food open and introduced him to her other cat, who seemed game enough to have a new kitten around. Turns out this lady feeds the mother, has fed some of the kittens, and feeds both males who I think are the fathers of our kittens. Her apartment was as clean and nice as ours (but bigger) and she said she'd keep him indoors and get him to the vet over his litter box issues ASAP, so I think he'll have a good life there.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

The roof was finally fixed. It took four days to get a one-day roofing job out of the way. Leave it to my landlord to get a lais·sez-faire crew with an excellent work ethic during the random times they appeared, but totally bohemian hours. Just whenever it gets done, ain't no biggie. The day something goes down the way it was supposed to I'll be handing out hundred dollar bills and bottles of wine to the lot of you just to help me celebrate. Obviously I can make that offer, knowing nothing will ever occur to force me to pay up.

A new roof being put on was four days of sheer terror for the cats and many sort of sleepless days and nights for yours truly. I mean, I actually went 36 hours without sleep the first day the roofing crew worked because I stayed up so late the night before and they started on the roof so early the next morning there was no point in going to sleep.

The cats spent every day from around 7 or 8 each morning (because it was a small, informal crew that tended to just show up, you know...whenever) under beds and crouching in the long, narrow pots and pans cabinet in our kitchen but even for them there was no escaping that noise. The work started and finished over our apartment (which is nestled in the middle between two others). The cats tend to get up between 4am (to play) and 6am (with Other Person) so they'd only get a few hours in before the ruckus began and then had to go run and hide.

And by "ruckus", I mean people walking on the roof, hammering, disassembling and dropping truckloads of roofing materials on it, re-laying and power-gun-nailing it, and driving us all pretty much fucking insane.

Except Other Person. They did the roofing on a Thursday and Friday, stopped for the weekend (OP's time off) then began again Monday and finished Tuesday. Most of the neighbors were away - unusual in itself, as a few of them are usually around for at least part of the day - so it was mostly me and the cats, or just me, since the cats were all "Nopecan'teven", so I didn't see too much of them.

The only good part was it forced me to flip to a day schedule. Normally (as you can see now) I'm a night owl, but this forced me to flip. My schedule stayed flipped for a few days but I've slowly drifted back to staying awake into the wee hours. What sucked was having to wear earplugs while wide awake just to block out some of the noise, and constantly falling asleep in that condition, sometimes while sitting up, as though my brain resorted to narcolepsy just to deal with it.

Speaking of which, I'm very slightly narcoleptic. I can usually fight it off so I guess from a medical standpoint it doesn't count as the real thing. But I do have sleep apnea so what happens is, when I get what I call a narcoleptic episode coming on, my eyes get heavy and I pretty much instantly stop breathing. Usually while walking down busy streets. No, I'm not a zombie. But I can't explain it. It's been going on for years, and while it freaks me out, there's not much I can do to stop it.

The daily mess in the house from people banging about on the roof was quite intense. There's another neat freak like me in the apartment to the right, a guy who's almost as gung-ho as I am (which means we might have the two cleanest apartments around; most of these places, by the time people move out, get pretty fucking bad without a new roof being put on).

Our ceilings are just wood beams with no insulation, so anything in the beams just came tumbling down onto floors, countertops, sinks, furniture, the bed, windowsills, the full-flight staircase, the closet, the toilet, onto our hanging clothes...everywhere. Mostly leaves and just fucktons of black dirt. The gung-ho-clean guy next door was almost crying he was so put out. Luckily, I clean stuff for a living, so it was no worse, and in fact much better in some ways, then cleaning up someone else's mess. That any of my cleaning jobs could be so easy.

I've waited some weeks, like you might before announcing a pregnancy, before writing about the new roof to make sure it wouldn't leak, blow off in the next wind, collapse in the next rain, or so on, but so far it's held up, which means the only still unfixed damage (besides monster tree stumps laying roots-up all over the place) is huge water stains on our bedroom carpet from the roof leaks. The landlord offered to have it cleaned by his carpet guy before our power was even restored but we're still waiting. Other Person has enough work going on with him right now that I don't want to make waves over something so minor, so I'm sitting on reminding him that he offered to have it done.

But he also offered us a bucket of raw oysters from his friend who owns a restaurant back in August which still hasn't turned up, so you can see what I'm up against here.

Before the roof got fixed, our entire county/region was declared a FEMA disaster area, but FEMA doesn't cover lost food or lost time at work, which were the two areas we got killed in. I think we'd have more food right now if we hadn't had to eventually dump what was a well-stocked freezer and fridge at the time - to the tune of hundreds of lost dollars. Food is extremely hard to budget for and we lost scads of time at work - and lost actual work - because of the storm, and there's been no making up for it, at least not yet.

The last round of flea medicine did not go well for Bowie or Good Calico. For some reason, though it was placed correctly between his shoulder blades, it ran down Bowie's left shoulder, then he kicked it with his back foot. Luckily I saw him do that, so I grabbed him and just scrubbed it off with Dawn. Yes, about $12 worth of medicine got rinsed down the drain. Then OP got all "waste of money" about it, so I was like, "Really? Fine, next time we'll just let this stuff kill him, that way we're not wasting money, right? Can't do that, you're so right."

Eventually a longish discussion ensued. He asked why I have to buy stuff that kills the cats so I explained I was exaggerating, that it doesn't, that Activyl is actually one of the safer brand names you can buy because it works solely through the skin, but the cats can't ingest it because it can cause serious neurological issues (like seizures, tremors and twitching) and that all flea medicines are pesticides - pure poison - so no matter which brand you buy, you'll always run the risk of poisoning or outright killing your animals, which is a sad state of affairs.

Then he worried that because Bowie lost his dose that he'd never stop having fleas. So I explained that because four cats managed not to have it run down their sides so much that it had to be scrubbed off to keep them from ingesting it, that the protection on them would probably keep Bowie from catching any fleas he didn't already have. I added that some of the medicine we applied soaked in before the rest got washed off, so he still had some protection left.

Bowie wasn't the only one to have problems; Good Calico developed a scabbed-up bald spot at the application site that's still visible even now, weeks later. And Tab and Pip...I don't know how it got to them, but Tab began drooling and Pip threw up right after it was put on. Bad Calico was the only cat who acted like nothing happened. She's the only one who always does.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
  • Comcast: done. No more phone calls or in-person visits for me. Saw the second credit in my account today, bringing the bill back to about where it was in July...

    A screencap of Comcast's website showing $75 and $50 credits given to me during 10-2016
  • Kittens: weighed. Last month Bowie weighed 7lbs, Pip was 6.5lbs, and Tab-Tab was 6lbs. Now Bowie and Pip weigh 9lbs and Tab-Tab is 8.5lbs.
  • Re-ordered flea medicine for all five cats. I thought I'd be able to use my Uni card (I take surveys through a university a few times a year that pay rather well) but due to the kitten's weights I was on the fence about whether to get the dose for under or over 9lbs. Bowie had a brief problem with tremors last time, so I figured if I did get the over 9lbs dose I'd buy in bulk and cut the pills down for Bowie and Tab-tab. That came out to just under $50 with one seller, but the card didn't go through for some reason, so I went back to my last seller and re-ordered what I got the last time. Two kittens will be slightly under-dosed (and buying both dose sizes for five cats actually cost more - too much to put on the Uni card) but I was going to under-dose Bowie anyhow to keep him safe, so oh, well.
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Which, before I get started, reminds me *glances at title*...I have two problems with writing - besides, of course, the inability to proofread my own writing as objectively as I proofread in general, and a style so elastic that 10 years of online writing hasn't narrowed it down to anything in particular (but in truth, there are at least two major styles I display; one's very hard to use because I never use it, so it gives me a headache like the one I have right now; the other's conversational and therefore almost too easy to use; I don't like either) - commas and where they should go, and when to use 'that' or 'which'. And yes, I know the Internet's a thing I can use to look up the answers, but my mind riots against commas and wants to switch up when I use 'that' for 'which' with wild abandon and I'm getting so tired of fighting it.

  • The kittens need to be re-weighed for their next round of Activyl because the doses come in two sizes: over or under nine pounds. They were in the 6-7lb range a month ago but kittens do strange things, like grow, that I have to take into account in order to not under or overdose them.
  • The kittens completed their third round of dewormer two days ago. Never saw a worm again after the lone worm I reported before their first dose.
  • Tab-tab tried to reproduce with Pip the other day. They're boys, so I take it it's time to look into the removal of that which produces the need to reproduce. Income's been too low lately to consider it.
  • Roof's still not fixed. I was actually glad the due date of last week came and went because it was supposed to get fixed just before Matthew was to hit, so I figured the roof would get fixed, fly off or get broken by the trees in the next storm, then have to be fixed again. Spare me my rich landlord's crying about having to fix the damn roof twice. At least if it ever does get fixed, we're getting a new roof, end to end. No more leaking in my bed every freakin' time it rains. Yay-ah.
  • Comcast lied about giving me most of the credits discussed in this post. It's not that I never got them - I saw evidence of at least two: one under "My Account" on their website and one in an email confirmation, but the first $75 credit I saw was apparently rescinded by an auditor before it could be applied to my next bill, and the next $75 credit never showed up. While I had $50 credited by them last week to partially make up for one missing credit, I agreed to another $75 to settle up, but still haven't seen it, despite more promises made by an escalation agent than I can even count. Hours lost toward trying to get credits promised, both in person at the local office and on the phone: at least five. Years off my life over the stress of fighting with Comcast for the better part of three years over so much stupid shit: at least five. I've been in bad relationships with actual people that were easier to endure and ultimately to just get the hell away from than Comcast is.
  • I need to do more online surveys and start selling on eBay again. I put off doing eBay over the storm last month and haven't looked back and can kind of understand my trepidation over it now: I'm afraid another storm will hit and I won't be able to ship items on time because of it. Things like that terrify me because I want my customers really happy.
  • I need to roll my phone back toWin8, though it kills the battery to run Win8. 11-3-16: done, about a week later. Everything's fine except the battery. Pictures won't sync from Win10 Mobile to OneDrive. I can log onto and nothing on the phone now is there, which gives me the most fragmented mess of pictures I've had since before I owned smartphones. I have to manually import the pictures now but sometimes the laptop won't recognize my phone as something that can have a picture on it, another bug I can't contemplate without flailing, so it won't find anything to import and why, Microsoft, why do you make our lives such living hell.
  • The Dell got a new keyboard. Unlike my laptop's replacement keyboard, it's a genuine part and works flawlessly. I wish I had it that easy on my HP - but, fwiw, the seller's refunded 75% of the purchase price, so ultimately I only paid $5 for it.
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Because why would I post normal things?

Uncooked vegetables for shrimp curry

Raw ingredients for shrimp curry in a cast iron pan on the stove.

Uncooked but fully assembled pizza

Raw ingredients on uncooked pizza dough, all in a pizza pan about to go in the oven

Some foods look better raw than cooked - that's just how it is. Both meals came out tasty but not as good-looking as they were raw.

The pizza was a treat Other Person made tonight with Publix pizza dough, shallots (we get 10-15 for just $1.49 at the local Asian market), fresh basil from the back porch, garlic crushed in the stone mortar and pestle (which I snagged for just $10 at the Asian market because the pestle was broken, but some super glue set that right real quick), thick shredded mozz, thin-sliced cherry tomatoes, Barilla spicy marinara, and Boar's Head pepperoni, which I was grateful for after taking a survey asking if I'd like to buy bags of crispy pepperoni slices like you get on pizzeria pizza. Well, yes, I would, enough to rush out in my nightclothes right now, where are these crispy little delights you speak of?

Talk about sudden cravings.

The pizza was delicious. Never tried Publix's pizza dough before but as I commented to OP after a few bites, they must've stolen the recipe from some Italian restaurant back in NY, because it did taste authentic.

Some weird flea medicine

My neighbor's big spray bottle of flea medicine

My mom's dead spider plant

My mom's dead spider plant, as seen on the back porch

The weird flea medicine is my neighbor's. I took a picture to Google it when I got back home (but still haven't Googled) but then I thought I'd post the pic to ask the rest of y'all, has anyone tried this? Is it any good? Her entire apartment smells of peppermint from spraying her cats (she's got the two black kittens I never took and some others) and her rug.

The Activyl flea medicine came today. We applied it to all five kitties while the pizza cooked. I was surprised it came so quick, but glad, because in the last few days I've picked a flea off Bowie's face and OP's picked one off of Pip, and I've come to see flea dirt everywhere (yes, even in my dreams, where our entire living room was coated in flea eggs this morning) so it couldn't get here fast enough unless someone airdropped it even as I clicked "Add to cart".

The last one's called "My mom's dead spider pant" because she said it would die before she did, so before May of 2012. I hate to say it lived - I wish it'd been the other way around, and the plant died just days after her prediction while she went on to live forever, but alas, it was not so. As crazed and really no longer myself as I was by then, something about her saying it would die - at all, much less before she did - was the proverbial flag in the bull's face.

Mom got too sick to know or care if the plant lived but I wouldn't give up on it. It had maybe a tiny handful of half-dead leaves when she passed but by then I'd kept it alive single-handedly and nurtured it back to glowing health by that fall so it looked mostly like the picture above. Then a frost killed it at the house out in the woods about two years ago.

What you see in the picture above? Is not the plant she predicted would die two years before it actually did. It's one of the children it had. Just one.

I have four more pots holding them, and between those there are dozens more babies hanging off those, so her dead plant lives on. I'd keep it going forever, in memory of her, if I could.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

'Twas just a matter of time. The kittens came to us with no issues - no worms we knew of, no fleas, maybe some runny litter box issues now and then but otherwise seemed in good health. It was kitten paradise, a kitten Disney World, a near-perfect kitten utopia. I've never had such seemingly healthy kittens! They're nice, too! I've never had such seemingly nice ones! If you gave me flash cards of kittens in the past I'd speak of flattened ears, blackened pupils, broken lamps and endless smashing up of everything, because kittens.

Don't get me wrong: our kittens run endlessly, battle constantly, and play unendingly, they just aren't as crazy as almost every other kitten I've had. I guess I've never had such sweet and relatively sane kittens before who also happen to not want to destroy the place.

Kitten utopia began winding down with the discovery of worms last week and concludes this week with the discovery of fleas. Flea dirt, to be precise. I've seen dark gray bodies darting around Pip's white fur for a few days now but they're so healthy, like the kittens they're running around on, I can't catch them. And Bowie can hardly stop scratching but until it gets bad you're more likely to win Lotto than find a flea - he has no undercoat and his fur's so short and sits so close to his body there's no pushing your hands or fingers through it to find anything.

I keep the place clean, usually vacuuming twice a day, keeping countertops disinfected, staying after litter boxes, dusting/wiping down everything at least a few times a week, and so on, so I'm thinking I might keep it too clean or else I would've seen the evidence I've been looking for by now. I was making my bed today when I realized the top half of the fitted sheet was full of flea dirt. I put my glasses on, bent down to look closer, and saw some tiny, swirly little black poops along with dozens, if not hundreds, of little black blood specks.

The fitted sheet is a light eggshell/almost beige color so there was no seeing if there were flea eggs or not, at least not with my eyes, even with my glasses. But! Sweeping off the dresser across from my bed the other day, I saw what I suspected were flea eggs, so now I'm thinking they most likely were, indeed.

After a hellacious time on the phone with at least a half dozen local vets ("Hi, I have five cats - three are kittens, I think they all have fleas, but I can't afford to bring anyone in right now") I gave up and decided to get what I needed online after three vets told me they wanted at least one cat or kitten, all wanted to do rabies shots, one said I could do the "cheaper" shot for just $5 less because the shot might kill it, and one wanted all five animals in STAT for around $500 worth of work, while yet another "strongly advised" me to bring in as many as possible.

A few insisted on heartworm tests to prescribe Revolution, which they also insist upon because "nothing else works" (biggest load of crap ever), a few insisted upon feline HIV tests, and the one who wanted all five in STAT wanted 1) heartworm testing, 2) FIV/FPV/F-everything, 3) five stool samples to "make sure" about the worm situation, 4) would only prescribe one vial of flea medicine per cat, and 5) wanted to run tests for all the common kitty maladies - this after I told them I don't have the money to bring anyone in. I was ticked because this place is so close I could walk, but it was the one place reading me the Riot Act, so oh, well.

The other reason I went with online ordering was I didn't like the doctor's choices. One was jumping up and down about Effipro. What the hell is that, even? I mean, I googled and still can't figure it out (ETA: googled again - it's Effipro, not Fellipro - thank you, dyslexia. It's like Frontline and Sentry, which are pretty "meh" bad as far as efficacy goes). Another went gaga over Cheristin. Works great - kills not just the fleas but even your cat, according to some terrifying search results I saw. Revolution's nothing, Capstar is crap, Advantage isn't made anymore and people seem pretty down on Advantage II - so I searched my memory for the best stuff I'd used in the past and finally hit on Activyl. I used it during 2013-2014 2015 (found a post I made after writing this in which I wanted to order it, but hadn't yet; there's no follow-up but I found an email confirmation on the order; the same post discusses at length how Frontline was not just "meh" efficacy but didn't work at all - "maybe six fleas died", I wrote) and don't recall cats dying or fleas living, so I looked it up - rather strenuously - and while it didn't get 100% good reviews (nothing does) it got more than any other flea med. So I ordered it.

Before I could even do that, I had to sit down with Win10's calc for a spell because a) I'm broke so b) how the fuck will I do this? After picking out what I could afford - five vials sold separately after the bulk prices came in at $5 more than what I had in PayPal and checking, combined - I ran the numbers; doing it in separate vials would leave $5 in checking after my laptop keyboard comes due on Pay After Delivery at the end of the month.

Buying in bulk isn't so hot, anyway - though the combined total would've only been $5 more than what I spent on separate vials, the smaller bulk sizes (a 4-pack for the kittens, a 3-pack for the adults) would've left just one adult and one kitten vial after treatment, which meant I could only treat one adult and one kitten next month without buying three more vials to treat all five. That still would've saved money when it comes time to re-order, but I was $5 short, so I payed my poor people's poverty tax and moved on.

The kitten and adult vials are shipping from the same vendor sometime before this weekend, so I guess I'll just have to try to keep things as clean as I can until they get here.