How it Should Be

Today I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Save The Chimps chimpanzee sanctuary in Ft Pierce, FL.

It was a long drive and I’m too tired to do much more than share a picture.

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Do you see any chimps in this picture? Nope. Just a crooked view of some abandoned-looking playground?

The chimps live in social groups on three-acre islands. Yes, there is indoor housing attached to each island. But the chimps are allowed to choose indoor or island 24/7. They come in for meals and hurricanes. That’s it.

Many chimps did come to the fencing around the indoor housing to see their guests. And I have a few photos of that. But I like the above photo better. The photo that shows chimps having so much space, choice, and environmental enrichment that an entire section of island is ignored.

Work In Progress

Hmm…I really hope to polish and hone a few items in my draft folders in the coming weeks.  But I am so not feeling it after 5 hours of washing dogs.

Back in July, I took Lady to the groomer for her yearly shave.  It seemed every summer, she got a hot spot (raw, inflamed spot on her skin).  Not the end of the world except her long fur would inevitably stick to the spot and sort of glue it over, creating a festering pus-filled sore if you didn’t catch it soon enough.

So three years ago we decided we’d just shave her down every summer.  Once we used a mobile groomer who came to our house.  That was fine, but we lost her number.  So the next year I tried the lady down the street from us.

It worked out fine.  Even then I remember she was very personable and interested in my caring for Gma.  I was still sorta looking for more work then and considered asking her if she ever needed a fill-in helper.

This time, she specifically mentioned she was running late because she’d been interviewing someone.  But that person was a full groomer herself and my now boss didn’t feel she had enough work for anything more than assistant.

I started working for her the next week.

It’s a pretty good situation for both of us.  I set aside three days a week where I don’t book anything else until I hear from her.  She can ask about the other two days, but knows I won’t always save them for her.

And it’s strange to say I’m learning stuff when I all I do is wash dogs, but…I’m learning stuff.  I’m getting experience working with scared dogs and sometimes aggressive dogs.  And I can now tell some dog breeds apart.

It has drawbacks.  I almost always work on Saturdays.  And if I don’t work Saturdays, I wish I did because I’m not making much money here.  My boss is a very emotional person and sometimes I feel a bit exhausted spending time with her.  (To her credit, I can say that to her face.  Emotional but respectful of the truth.  Sometimes I wonder if the things that exhaust me about her are the things we have the most in common.)

And it’s also physically exhausting.  So I napped two days in a row during the afternoon.  I did manage to cook up some of food in the fridge this evening.  And cobble to together this post.

And I got to squish many cute dogs.  Definitely not a drawback.

 

The Planned Planning of Planningness

There is a 5-page (oops, 6-page!  I opened it to check the page count and added some stuff…) document on my desktop called “The Plan”.

In 6-pages, with four layers of indention, we have outlined how we will hike the trail, rent the condo, move to Wisconsin, and start a hiking/camping outfitter store.

I’ve been leery about writing that last part.  Starting a store.  A retail place.  Owning our own business.

Let’s face it, I’ve had great enthusiasm for many different career changes through the years.  Yes, I’ve always returned to the idea of being a forest ranger/conversationalist/wildlife rehabber.  (Don’t you love how I “always returned” to three entirely different things?)  But there was that time I was going to become a masseuse.   I’ve dabbled with the idea of non-profit administration/management.  I even suggested to my parents at one point Tom and I help run the lavender farm.  (Hi Mom!  Did you really expect less from your super-reliable daughter?)

I’m unsure about how sure I am that we can (or want to) successfully run an outfitter.  The area seems right for it – a year-round tourist destination right next to a huge national forest (Chequamegon-Nicolet) where all of the current shops cater to water sports or hunting.  It seems a bit too good to be true.  Especially since I haven’t a fuck’s clue what I’m doing in researching this.  Do I want to bet our savings on my extreme googling skills?

On the other hand, we love the area and love the idea of promoting hiking and camping there.  We think boaters, hunters and bicyclists (maybe snowmobilers, and skiers?  We’re a bit out of our element with the winter sports) would find a thing or two of interest – particularly food supplies.  And if we find the right branding and kitch-y camp stuff, regular tourists will likely pick up something “useful” as a souvenir.

We also know a thing or two about gear, LOVE researching it, and want to write-off our hikes as a business expense.  So what really could go wrong?

The reality is, a lot will go into it before we ever purchase merchandise.  We have to bite the bullet and start taking steps.  So next week, we’ll be looking at some properties in the area.  Finger-crossing on our behalf is appreciated.

But before we even get there (the bottom of page 3!), we need to find homes for the animals during the six months we’re on the trail.

It’s funny.  Last year at this time Tom had not taken the new job and we were still planning on doing the hike.  But for the life of me I don’t remember worrying about this.  We had a few boozie-Saturday-night promises from friends and family that they would accept a dog or cat while we hiked.  That was good enough for us.  (Factoring in all-animal-things-necessary into our hiking budget.  We were unconcerned, not douches.)

But this time I’m concerned about the cats.  Maybe it’s because we are definitely throwing a cross-country move into the mix.  Or maybe because I’ve leaned so heavily on those awesome friends the past few months and I hate to do so even more.  Whatever the reason, we have pretty much decided we don’t want to split the three up.  The possibility of separation anxiety and re-introduction problems is too great.  And since we don’t know anyone crazy enough to take in 3 cats (in reality: we don’t know anyone who’s not bullish in cats.  Such is the life when you hang around animal lovers), we’re really hoping we can find someone responsible who would like to rent our condo cheap, cheap, cheap in return for pet-sitting.

This of course sets me completely on edge.  Because it’s like #9 on the list.  The list of 578,035,686,743.  And believe it or not, I do not actually need to accomplish #9 before #10.  But I DO need to feel like I can accomplish the things on the list that are before “Hike the AT”.  And this is not something that will happen soon or easily.

Don’t even get me started about mice and men and awry-going….6 PAGES PEOPLE.

Family Fix

I spent the week alone. Oh, I received awesome phone calls, emails, texts, and chats. And I appreciate all of it. But it hasn’t taken away the lonely. Or the fact that I went from 12 hours of hiking to 12 hours of sitting.

Today, I rectified all that. I joined Animal Warriors in an outreach to Peace River Rescue & Refuge. They are an exotic animal sanctuary that is moving from south FL to the Ocala National forest. We came out today to help build their perimeter fence.

So. What. I. Needed.

Outside. Physical labor. Something I could fix and solve.

And company. Some of the best damn people ever made (including K & Q).

I got sarcastic sympathy: “How are you? Oh wait. Never mind. I know how you are. You are screwed.”

I got to be protective den mom to an injured friend: “The next heavy log you pick up? I am going to throw at you. Consider that.”

And the 12-year-old boy in me? We were digging holes. To put posts in. Insert width, depth, and accuracy jokes. A few, “That’s what she said” for good measure.

I came home to take care of a blood relative. But spending time with the people who will claim me without a DNA test is the medicine I dearly needed.

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The pigtails work in any outdoor situation.

Critters

Cathy asked about creatures, or the lack thereof in my posts. For her sanity, I’ll refrain from posting my picture of the garter snake.

There aren’t many mammals out and about. A few chipmunks and squirrels. I have seen scat and have been taking pictures to analyze later. (One I think is bobcat!!)

There are a ton of songbirds. But you see only a fraction of those you hear. One thing I’d like to do for future hiking is learn bird calls.

The ones I do see I make notes of markings to look up later. One thing that’s kind of funny is that it seems there is a shelter “pigeon” in each area – a very common bird that always appears to check out what you’re eating.

I hear owls at night, and I met someone who discerned the calls as barred owls and great horned owls.

I noticed many more chipmunks on the trail as I hike further into NC. So maybe the animal sightings will pick up?

There have been some cool insects-long, long millipedes and centipedes that are black with either yellow or red stripes/legs. I’ve seen a few large locusts as I get further north. And there are small crickets/grass hoppers that kind of swarm together and when you walk through them it sounds like fat rain drops as they hop away. Kinda neat.

Oh, and I disturbed a small fish while collecting water at a stream.

Otherwise, I’ve been focused on getting pictures of all the flowers as they tend to be very compliant about sitting by the trail and not running away.

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Snail on the Trail

Ready to RUMBLE

Oh wait. That’s wrestling. Which I suppose I am also up for.

But I am really, really ready to hike.

I am slogging through my to do list in preparation to leave. It has some annoyingly important/expensive/time-intensive items on there, like getting Lady’s teeth cleaned.

That took on a whole drama on its own as she already went in for a dental but her blood counts were wonky. Yet additional tests showed nothing wrong so we waited two weeks and retested. Her blood won gold stars this time and yay for Lady except now we are pushing up against our leave date and I’m pretty sure my father in law will do his version of an eye roll (a complete slack face stare) if I request they whip up a batch of mashed potatoes for the dog because her gums are sore.

The rest of the prep list is very annoying in the sense a lot of things are best left to the last minute.

Although I did finally dwindle my 1,104 pictures on my iPhone down to just 50. The 50 most essential photos to have on me. They include lots of dead animals and one dead person. I plan to carry my own little funeral home. Uplifting, no?

I am balancing that morbidity with lots of musical downloads including the three best songs from “Newsies”.

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number 5 of 50. Tom with Spike, Lady, and Frisco

Going, Going

Gone!

The stray cat has found a home.  Just like the funny post I wrote about it.  Except while I have a physical address of the family that took the cat, my funny post seems to have entered innernets ether.

Argh.

There’s a Stray Cat in My Bathroom

If only that were euphemism for something!  Like aunt flo!  Because she’s here too!

Yet, I have a stray cat in my bathroom in a very literal sense.  A literal white/gray medium-haired neutered male who is microchipped but the information was never updated and his owner from 2 years ago who lives over an hour away left me a voicemail that I was welcome to keep the cat.

THANKS!

On Tuesday, which I somehow had scheduled pretty tight anyway, I was coming home from my first round of errands and a cat crossed the road from the mangrove side to the side where a condo complex is under about 70% foreclosure.  I hemmed, hawed, then stopped.  99.9% of the time, a loose cat is going to be too scared of you (or me) to get close enough to do anything.

This one came right over and settled into my arms.

While there, and I debated whether someone thought it was OK to have an “outside” cat (it is illegal in our county and my neighborhood specifically is a major bird nesting area), I felt mat after tangled mat on his underside and decided he was coming with me.

Guess who doesn’t like car rides?

I came home, whipped up an emergency cat-kit in the bathroom (Tom should really get over his hoarding tendencies long enough to rid us of excess pet paraphernalia if he doesn’t want to come home to strays), popped him in there, and ran out to Just Brakes!  Where I decided they were Just Douches!  And they decided they Just Didn’t Care!

Since I had some random cat in my bathroom, I decided to leave it as is and inform Tom he was the official Tell Mechanics About the Weird Road Noise person.

I scooped up the cat again, stuffed him in a carrier, and off to the vet.  Where we found he was chipped, and even though it was an area code for a few counties away, it was still a working number for the name given in the chip’s record.  The vet left a message for Joe, giving him my phone number.

I knew it wasn’t a done deal, but I couldn’t help feeling this was all going to be a small 24-hour adventure I could write about and share.  Because I had grabbed the cat out of instinct and less out of a need for a 48-72–or-heaven-effing-help-me-724-hour adventure.

But Joe called and informed me he had moved away and gave the cat to another family two years ago.  I asked for him to call back with any details – initials even!  I am an awesome googler! – but nothing.

And so.  After checking on petfinder.com, craigslist, and a local county lost/found page, I posted ads on all 3 for this found cat.  I also called animal services so he is listed in their book.  And then I made some poorly crafted signs and tried to hang them up around the neighborhood except all the condo associations keep shitty management hours.

And there was a sheriff at the park right where I wanted to tape a sign on this nice pretty locking glass case for signs.  Doesn’t that sound like something there is an ordinance against?  Maybe it’s littering?  Or informing the public without a license?  Something?  Hasn’t anyone else heard you can get fined for putting up silly homemade signs on public property?

The sherriff, who put his cell phone call on hold long enough to give me the world’s most “Are You Mentally Compentent?” look, had never heard anything of the sort.  And even though I thought he might be trying to do some sort of “Aha, gotcha!”, I put up my damn sign.

But so far, no dice.  I have now taken the cat for testing (feline HIV and feline leukemia – both negative) and his basic shots.  I haven’t let him out of the bathroom yet because while I certainly could try and referee that particular UFC match by myself, why put myself through it alone when Tom will be back tonight and can help while I calm everyone’s nerves with a large glass of wine?

If said stray can handle our crew and vice versa, we will foster him until the domestic rescue organization we work with has room for him at an adoption center.  If they all can’t just get along, we’ll keep him in the bathroom until we can find another foster.

We are not keeping him.  Ain’t gonna happen.  And he is cute and long-haired and needy just like Tom’s other favorite cat in the house so please everyone have my back in this so Tom is outnumbered when he meets this feline tonight?

(Despite what he may say, it is his fault we have Pixie, our last acquisition.)

The stray is now 90% de-matted which I did with nail scissors and every groomer in the tri-state area (which is…FL, GA, and what?  Lousiana?) is shrieking that you DO NOT CUT MATS OFF OF ANIMALS!(!!)  And I KNOW.  I KNOW.  I am a horrible stubborn woman.  But seriously, don’t cut mats off of your animals.  Find a good groomer.

I cut the mats off because obviously I am an idiot.  Also, I was concerned a groomer would decide a full shave was in order and a shaved cat is not exactly the look you go for when vying for adoption.  Mr. Bigglesworth is not a sought-after look.  Since I’d like my bathroom back sometime this year (although this is a great excuse for not having shaved legs.  Sorry yoga class mates!), I want to keep him looking as bushy-tailed as possible.

There’s also a wee chance I might know a thing or two about grooming animals myself.  But mostly I am an idiot who would like Mr. Stray to find a home toot sweet.

If he could take aunt flo with him, that’d be awesome.

Listy McListerson

1)  I am down to just two to-do lists!

2) I’ll be down to one once I get the airport this afternoon!

3) I’m pretty sure these lists suck though since I couldn’t think of anything to add to my “Chicago To Do” until this morning.

4) And I’m unsure of how to cross off “call sitter – figure out when we need her” because

5) We came home to Spike having bloody, hard to pass urine.

6) I don’t blame her for that, but on the other hand obviously having someone stop in was not as soothing to him as previously thought.  (We have a huge water fountain, automatic feeders, and two huge + 1 regular litter boxes, so leaving the cats to fend for themselves for 1-2 days is often a valid choice)

7) It was stressful to have him prescribed twice-a-day meds less than 24 hours before I had to drive up to Gainesville.  I managed to time it out to dose him 7 hours apart.  Then I thought about him constantly while going over medical paperwork with Grandma.

8) But I came home to non-bloody urine in the kitchen sink which was awesome because

9) Hello, not bloody.  And

10) He’d been peeing bloody urine in the bathroom sink which is easier to jump up to.  So he must be feeling better to reach the kitchen counter!

11) What with me leaving on a Thursday and not returning until Tuesday, Tom and I will go almost 2 weeks without seeing each other.

12) And then someone has to go get the dog which we could do together but would mean leaving Spike alone and I will not be sold on that idea until I get back next week.

13) I could in theory drive up and get the dog after driving straight from Gainesville from the airport (OK, not literally.  But almost) to take my grandmother for her surgeon consult.

14) Just typing it makes my blood pressure rise.

15) I have evidently become a huge wimp.  Because that just described at most 14 hours of travel spanned out over 4 days with almost bat-shit else to do in between.  (Although it does mean another 4 days straight away from home which is a little stressful what with the peeing and all.)

16) In all fairness, I have always been a huge wimp.  I am a fan of incremental planning.  If I were building the great wall of China, I would not make a picture of the entire wall.  I’d offer up 5 feet and let them know how much I could do in the next progress report.

17) This is why I never want to become a manager.  I am not a “Big Picture” person.  I like the trees, not the forest.

18) I also like actually doing things versus sitting around feeling accomplished because other people are doing things.

19) I think I’m a little scared that I’ll be sad going to the farm and Dad’s not there.

20)  No good segue to that one.  Took me 19 fucking lines to figure out that was bothering me so once I got there, I ran with it.

21) It’s silly to be scared about being sad and I’m fine with being sad because I’m a late-mourner so I’m aware I haven’t full taken-in what his death means to me, but I just don’t want to have it all come out on my mom.

22) She’s probably a little bummed herself and doesn’t need that shit.

23) In general I haven’t been psyched about this trip, so hopefully that means it will be kick-ass.  I’ve rarely not had fun that the farm. 

24) At least I’m pretty sure I won’t have to sleep on any down pillows that cause my sinus infection to return.  Thank you, hotel check-in preferences, for proving how useless you really are.

25) I packed some of that super-duper decongestant just in case.

26)  Time for lunch!  Gotta love cleaning out the fridge.  Think I should down the last glass of wine?

27) The cats might knock it off the counter otherwise.

28) Ya know, when they’re trying to pee.

29) Argh.  Also, meh.  (So I guess I’ll have some whine after all!  WHY must we just have put down our most unhealthiest, neediest cat only to have another one take her place?  Spike isn’t even 5!  Stop peeing like an old man!)

30) In another segue-less point (which, isn’t that why this is a list?  To be able to spew the randoms without the need for connectivity?), while I haven’t been able to lose more weight this month I seem to be doing a good job holding steady.

31) And having this much time off makes me realize how crazy my old workout routine was.

32) So I am looking forward to a new, slightly less-insane, plan of attack for June.

33) It does help to pack my skinniest pair of jeans and wear them often.  They are not quite so bad that I can’t breath while sitting down, but I definitely don’t think of them as “eatin’ pants”.

34) Sadly, a lot of my other pants fall in that category because I’m too cheap to buy in-between pants.

35) So I’d better get off my ass and lose the rest of this weight so I can buy some damn pants that fit.

36) Maybe next time I write I’ll share, “Farming, how to lose 15 lbs in a week!”

37) Or maybe not.  But I am trying to figure out how to bring protein powder in my luggage without getting a narcotics rap.

38) Until I’m done with farming or my jail time, watch out for bloody urine, down pillows, and eatin’ pants!  Downfalls of civilization, I tell ya!

An Inappropriate** List

**This list is inappropriate in content, structure, grammar and possibly gravity.  I suggest not reading.

1) Zulu, our Bengal cat, died.  And no death should be trivialized in a list, except that

1a) she lived 4 years longer than expected, with a good quality of life.  You could not ask for more.

1b) I already wrote a post about her for the volunteers at the sanctuary (where she came from).  And while it is not something I mind sharing here, I rarely cross post.

2) Our upstairs hallway was Zulu’s domain.  It has a nice plant ledge looking out into the livingroom that has always been a cat favorite.  After she passed I cleaned the hallway, removed her feeding station, washed the ledge bedding, and moved the litter pan to a more neutral location (it had been smack dab in the middle of the hall with bed/feed station on either end).  The other cats had no problem going upstairs when Zulu was alive for the purpose of

2a) eating Zulu’s leftover food.

2b) using Zulu’s litter box.

2c) tormenting Zulu/getting their ass kicked by Zulu (mood and health dependent).

Zulu has been gone 5 days now and I have only found evidence of the upstairs litter being used once.  This is both frustrating and exciting. 

2d) Anyone with multiple cat boxes in their home can related to how freeing the idea is of one less litter box.

2e) But if I had a choice I’d get rid of the kitchen litter box instead of the upstairs one.

2f) Except that it is a bitch to climb the stairs every day to clean it so maybe I should be happy with the possible status quo.

2g) It’s just sad to think that perfect cat ledge might go to waste.  I bet if I put a plant there that sucker would be dead in 24 hours and the spot claimed.

3) As a follow up to the garden, I prepared some hanging plant bags this morning for my seedlings.  After I filled them with soil, I watered them and found a decent place for them to lay horizontal for a bit before actually planting and hanging per the directions.  As I finished and a little water dribbled onto the floor I muttered, “Well, you certainly didn’t do that as well as you usually do…”  Then I stopped for a moment and reflected

3a)  It was the first time I had EVER done that.  How could I know how well I usually do it?

3b)  I’ve never seen these planter be used period.  How do I know that’s not the best way those planters have ever been filled/watered/layed horizontal?

3c) I really am hard on myself.

3d) But I totally could have done better.  Like I usually do.

4) I don’t really have a fourth thing I was going to talk about but since I feel 3d) was a weak ending I’ll go ahead and tell you guys Tom and I plan another overnight camping trip this weekend.

4a) To a place we’ve never hiked before.

4b) Have I ever mentioned our knack for getting lost?

4c) But Tom found a GPS app for the iPhone so we will totally know where we are at all times.

4d) All times we have signal that is.

4e) And until the battery dies.

4f) It will probably be helpful to know where we are in relation to things such as the campsite, the trailhead, and the rest of the hike, but whatever.

In reality, I have found that when I don’t speak up and let him read the map it’s better for us all around.  I can be very bitchy until I have my way convincing and the fact that I’m one smart ass cookie means he takes my ideas into consideration even though

4g) I have not paid attention to the map until that point.

5) We were supposed to camp this past weekend but the end of my week sucked with

5a) Zulu dying

5b) on the same day tornados came through

5c) which sandwiched my 12 bazillion chores into one day instead of two.

And on Tuesday the wall mounted bookcase decided enough of that and came crashing down.  At 1:30 in the morning.  I was on the lookout for our downstairs neighbors the next day or two to explain and apologize, but when I finally saw the guy 4 days later he swished right past me (and he is not a swishy guy) so I’m thinking they heard it and didn’t appreciate.

5d) But the point is, that left 3 holes and several scrapes along the only painted wall in the livingroom.  And while I was willing to let it go and repair after our camping trip, when everything else came crashing down (metaphorically.  Evidently my furniture provides literal foreshadowing!) we opted to stay home, patch, and repaint.

5e) We did a pretty awesome job.

5f) And didn’t kill each other.

5g) Which is why I married him in the first place.  When you find someone with whom you can

5h) spend 48 hours straight

5i) do major home/car repair

5j) bring home random surprise animals who you swear will keel over in 6 months but then survive past several relatives and yet he/she agrees to having fried chicken as your after-hike meal all the time because it’s the animal’s favorite treat

5k) marry that person.

6) Enough said.