Saturday, April 19, 2014

May 2013 to well, April 19, 2014

I'm almost a year stronger (and sane). Woot!

When I got out of the hospital for my suicide attempt, I filed all the paperwork I needed for the short term disability via my employer. The disability company denied my long term disability for reasons unknown. Apparently, you're supposed to recover after six weeks or so (I don't exactly remember) from an attempted suicide and pop right back up and go back to work! (/sarcasm) Yeah, that wasn't happening. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with "acute stress disorder", which meant no stress. That, and I had to pack before I got evicted from my apartment. Yup, that wasn't stressful at all! /sarcasm

I broke down and had to actually call the Montgomery County crisis center when I received the eviction notice from my apartment management. I was on shaky ground, and I was - and still am - very much depressed. I'm the responsible sort of person who goes to great lengths to ensure my rent and bills are paid on time, before even buying groceries and personal necessities for myself. It's how my brain operates, and it's logical to me. That's why not being able to provide for myself creates the ongoing depression cycle I'm still in - I abhor the thought of being dependent on anyone but myself. It's not how I was raised, and not how I live, one island alone or whatever be damned (yes, I do understand the irony of that statement).

To keep placing one foot forward, I made lists and a time table of when I'd try to get things completed. If I could just focus on the lists and calendars and nonesuch, then I could stay sane for the month and 22 days until my stepdad arrived to help me move:

Kitchen: 10; an old plastic storage container (minus a broken lid) for the Kitchen Aid and Keurig (coffee machine).

1 food box (This turned out to be three. I forgot about the flours and stuff that I usually kept in the fridge that were nonperishable).

1 box o' chemicals and laundry room stuff

2 bathroom boxes

2 boxes for the guinea pigs, plus diaper bag

1 box o' medications

2 suitcases and six boxes for clothes, hangers, shoes, graduate gown, and walking boot.

1 box o' random crap

11 living room boxes, including 2 office boxes, box for arts and crafts, and 1 for computers and accessories.

1 altar box

1 box for bike stuff (and bike)

4 boxes of books, including reference

4 plastic totes of winter clothing

1 plastic tote of bed sheets

1 plastic tote of yarn (don't ask)

2 boxes for writing, art stuff, and thesis

1 box of bowling trophies and random crap

3 boxes for bedroom

1 box for Florida

1 box for cookbooks

One TV (one had to get thrown away), two TV stands (the el cheapo one got thrown out), one dresser, three shelving units, three bookshelves, two shelves, 2 guinea pig cages, a coffee table, three folding tables, a side table, a side table for the bedroom (which got thrown away), a heating thingy, an ironing stand, a camping bed, 6 trashcans, 2 or 3 chairs (all got thrown away), a table, an art table (which got thrown away), a small tool box, 2 hay boxes (one got thrown away), an ottoman, two lamps, a bag of wires, a mirror, a three drawer thingy (which was previously patched up with duct tape, and was subsequently thrown away), and a file thingy with drawers. The couch also had to go - it was the most comfortable couch, but it was almost too big to get in or out of the apartment, and I couldn't imagine even trying to get it down the narrow hallway that led to my old room. I spent the last month or so sleeping on and saying good bye to my couch. The mattress was thrown away, too, because it was hard as a rock - you know you have a bad bed when the couch is WAY more comfy. Also thrown out was Nascar the Too Loud Vacuum Cleaner, the carpet steam cleaner, and whatever didn't fit in the moving truck. That was AFTER pairing down.

It was all I had as a reminder that I was once a functioning, independent adult. I hold onto these lists and pictures in my mind with the knowledge that, in the near distant future, I WILL be there again. My mom's house is only my temporary home until my mind is rested and no longer burnt out. This is the hope that I hold onto.

Image is my previous bedroom, which is full of empty boxes.
It was a crappy one month and 22 days. I had to sort through stuff, figure out what could be donated, what could be thrown away/recycled, and clean the apartment from top to bottom. I got behind when I accidentally kicked the rocking chair with the top of my foot, which stayed swollen for a good solid week. I even had to go see the orthopedic doctor for a special shoe because my foot was too swollen to even fit into my regular tennis shoe.

My bedroom was literally box city. I moved the art table and brick and board bookshelf to the side to make room for the boxes. The boxes were then taped up, sprayed down with bug spray, packed, bought even more tape and plastic totes for winter clothes (winter clothes in Florida? LOL!), and slowly fitted packed boxes back into the bedroom.

Image is of a box full of papers to recycle.
Then came the fun part: cleaning. Which meant taking down recyclables and trash down four flights of stairs. With a busted knee, sciatica flair up pain, and a sore foot. Oh, the fun I had! /sarcasm

Image: My feet, marked "R" with a blue marker and "L" with a red marker (both are upside down, because I wrote them right side up for my view). The right foot is obviously swollen and very bruised, and the left foot is its usually slightly swollen self.
Image: My medical shoe for my foot, which has Velcro straps to allow for swelling.

Image: A week after the incident, my foot is only slightly swollen and only slightly bruised.

Two sheets of paper are taped to the wall. They both read "To-Do List" and have various tasks written under them for Thursday through Monday.
The key to a good move is organization, lots of planning, and having a back up plan to the back up plan. Then I bought a can of frosting to keep my blood sugars and energy levels up. When I first moved to Maryland and couldn't afford food, I bought frosting, corn tortillas, peanut butter, orange juice, and bananas to keep me going. It was almost like I've gone full circle.

Picture is of a June 2013 calendar with various doctor appointments and goals to be accomplished.
To make it even more insane, I had to say "Good bye" to every single one of my specialists. For most typical people, getting to know their specialist is a walk in the park. For me - full of anxiety and trust issues - it was like walking on slippery stones in the river to get to the other side. Most of the time, I'd slip off the stones and into the river. Occasionally, the specialist and I had that connection, and they truly understood and reached out. I had actually worked a job for four years, which meant four years of continual insurance, and I got a chance to build these sought after relationships and we got to know one another. I had 7 specialists to visit and had to get an echocardiogram done for my heart, which is a recommended yearly thing. I picked up medical records and prescriptions. I said good bye to the pharmacist who had gotten to know me by name. I didn't have the money or time to take off a day from packing to go up to Baltimore and back to see the endocrinologist (that was sort of like a hate/love relationship any way. I never really got along with the specialist, but hit it off with the nurse practitioner). A year later, I still miss some of my specialists, especially my psychiatrist, counselor, asthma doc, and cardiologist. I could go to them any time with questions, or free samples of medication to hold me over until the next pay check. Even though I had to pay a co-pay, they were sort of like my mini family up in Maryland: they reassured me when my anxiety was bad, or when I was in a bind. Without insurance, it's kind of like throwing darts in the dark: you hope you don't accidentally hit somebody just walking by (in other words, I'm fine for now, but who knows when my heart will get worse, or what the future might hold?).

RIP, comfy couch. I miss you :-(

RIP TV stand I dragged home on the bus and TV. I wish I had the room for you :-(
In the end, this is what I looked like:
Image: Me, with soap suds formed into triangles on my head, and making a silly, crazy face.
I told the guinea pigs about the move to Florida, and reassured them over and over again that they would be coming with me, even if I had to tie them to the roof of the moving truck (joking with the last bit). I told them all about Florida, and gave them a social story each night to help them with the transition. Travel buddies help one another on long journeys by making it fun and interesting by comforting one another and not fighting, biting, or otherwise annoying the other person guinea pig. They panicked at first, but soon got used to the idea. Perhaps even enjoying it a bit.

Last night in the apartment! Image: Benny is seen in the back of a large dog carrier, munching on hay, and Zeke is hiding/chilling in his igloo, shown in the front.
My stepdad flew up on June 25th to help me pack the moving truck on and to drive down to Florida. I said my good byes to the few friends I had made (including the bus drivers) and my co-workers gave me a farewell lunch. My dear former supervisor came over to help me move. The Jehovah witnesses from the first floor and a lady from another building helped to move the couch down. The Jehovah witnesses took the brick and wooden bookshelf as payment. After an apartment inspection and we finished stuffing everything that would fit into the moving truck, we hit the road.

Travel Buddies. Image is of Benny and Zeke cuddled up on a blanket on my lap. Turns out the moving truck was just a little too small for their carrier. Yes, they spent the entire two days on the road on my lap. Zeke had a blast. Benny? Not so much.
So, now I'm here in Florida and sort of settled in. Lots of boxes still packed, but I got the basics unpacked. The guinea pigs have my old room. I got my brother's old room. I settled into a new routine, one that revolved around furry critters of the four legged variety and helped my mom with housework (when I'm not busy having sensory overload, anxiety, meltdowns, depression episodes, and not battling with pain of some variety). Soon after moving to Florida, my nephew L. (my best friend's kiddo) learned to walk. In quick succession, he's proven to be quite the little genius: he can now climb, say up to ten or more words, put two words together, count to three, loves being read to (he'll drag a book to his parents when he wants to be read to), and loves exploring his dad's computer. It's amazing how fast he is growing up, and I can't wait until I have enough saved up to fly out and visit him.

Meanwhile, my niece A. is busy learning to tear things apart (atta girl!), walk, and vocalize. She's her dad's and mom's pride and joy, and it's fascinating watching my younger brother - the person I had watched out for and all those sisterly things - turn into a husband and a daddy. I at once in awe of the man he has become, and so proud.

Benny has since turned 6, and Zeke is now 3. Zeke has had ongoing issues with a tooth abscess. The first episode in early October involved him not eating, a vet visit, draining the abscess, giving him daily antibiotics for forever and a day, and forcing him to eat by giving him all his favorite foods and oats to help him to gain the weight back that he had lost. He again had another abscess the first week of November, and this one actually exploded. He was given pain medication and more antibiotics, and is now doing okay with the exception of one tooth needing to be trimmed (which I cannot currently afford, but, as long as he's eating, my fingers are crossed!). Zeke has proven to be a brave warrior, and he lets me know he's doing okay by taking the syringe for his liquid vitamin C out of my hands and tossing it (the goof ball). Benny's getting old and sleeps more often, but he's still as demanding and cuddly.

In addition to Benny and Zeke (my "boyos", Irish slang for male friend), I also have these furry fiends of the four legged type to keep me busy:

Daisy, Daisy ...

Image is of Daisy, who is a Calico. Her left eye is surrounded by a black patch of fur while her right eye is a black and tan patch, with a white patch of fur running down her nose. Otherwise, her fur is all white. She's slightly pudgy, but healthy.

I adopted Daisy on July 14, 2013. I'd seen her the day before at a PetSmart adoption event, where my mom had pointed her out to me. She let me hold her and talk to her. I think she saw a sucker, as she all ready had those little paws wrapped around my heart. I decided that I didn't need another mouth to feed - especially on an unemployment salary, as I all ready had two guinea pigs to feed - and walked away. She kept wiggling her way through my mind, and, by that night, I had made up my mind to adopt her. I anxiously called the PetSmart store, but the person who answered had no clue whether she was still there, and advised me to call back the next day at 11 AM. I did, and they couldn't tell me whether or not she'd be adopted by the time I got there, and, no, they wouldn't put her on hold because it was first come, first served. My heart beat anxiously until I was able to go and pick her up, and she recognized me instantly. It was love at first wheek. She fit right in, and has a back bone and can stand up to her brothers, but is also as sweet as can be. She's loud and is a talker.

Poor Daisy sometimes gets the short end of the stick in that she's usually in her cage, awake and bored, while her brothers sleep the afternoon away. Both her and Benny have adapted to their new home, and can now be heard all the way in the kitchen (on the other side of the house) when they're hungry, bored, want hay, and/or a treat (spoiled little fur balls with sharp teeth :-) ). Daisy loves food - especially oat spray stalks - but refuses all fruit except blueberries, which is strange considering she had been previously starved. I'm just now getting to the point where I can hold and snuggle her without her overly panicking. She loves watching Guy on Triple D's on the FoodNetwork (I think she has a small crush on him). She hates bathes, having her nails trimmed, and being touched on the back. She's smart, curious, and, when she's managed to escape the play pen, is not afraid to wonder outside of the guinea pig room. She's now about two years old, give or take a half of a year, and is quickly proving her dominance in the guinea pig trio. You can't help but love her.

From left to right: Daisy, Benny, and Zeke. A rare moment of "Let's be still so we can play!".

Sabelle's Dooking it Up!

Shhh! Be very, very quiet - there's a sleeping Sabelle! Image is of a view of a sleeping Sabelle as seen from between the slates of Benny's crate, which was Sabelle's temporary home until we could get her a proper ferret cage.

On September 09, 2013, we took in Sabelle (pronounced "Sabel," which is her coloring and breed), a ferret that my mom's co-worker found in her backyard (which has since been proven by the fact that Sabelle loves eating the lizards and grasshoppers the cats bring in. Ferrets imprint from a very early age on the foods they'll eat). The day before we brought her home, I researched ferrets like crazy and figured out the best foods and care for her. She was undernourished and in need of a bath, but we soon fixed her up, and now she's as zany as any ferret deserves to be, and more intelligent than all of us combined. It took us a few weeks to get her to the point where she was healthy and energetic enough to play, but once we got her going, there's now no stopping her. She's known for her temper and throwing around her food and water when she's upset that we won't let her out of her cage - usually, it's for a time out for trying to get into the couch, but sometimes her humans are also busy and out of the house (how dare we go outside without her!) or sleeping in late. We dub these events as "Hurricane Sabelle." I affectionately call her "juvenile delinquent" and "Fuzzbutt" because of the amount of trouble she can get herself into, whether through zany ferret behavior and/or boredom. One morning, I walked into the pantry to find Sabelle on the first shelf of the pantry, posed to jump with a bag of marshmallows in her mouth. Whenever I forget to close the guinea pigs' door, she has been known to climb into Benny's or Zeke's cage or the play pen to "play" by jumping onto the guinea pig's back and refusing to budge.

She's currently teething, and loves chewing on plastic water bottles, plastic pit balls, and anything she can get a hold of to chew. Sabelle's best friend is a squeaky toy snake, and has been known to also cuddle up with her squeaky toy ducky and her teddy bear. She also loves starch peanuts, warm blankets, towels, and her heating pad (it's microwavable and made for animals), bubble wrap, carting off any bags that are foil or crinkly, Marshall's Crunchy Bandits Tartar Control Treats for Ferrets (which, of course, are now being discontinued, grrrr), climbing, trying to sneak into the guinea pig cages' to "play," going for car rides, and lizards and/or grasshoppers (don't ask, even I don't want to know). Sabelle enjoys being chased and chasing us (Sally's still working on this game). She doesn't really care for baths, most treats, or being told that she can't go outside. She's an escape artist, and figured out the cat door before the cats. Luckily, we have a door for the cat door, and my mom has trained her to come to the sound of her snake being squeaked, and we've been able to rescue her when she's managed to escape. Sabelle is my mom's baby, and she'll wake up as soon as my mom walks in the door. She sometimes won't fall asleep unless my mom's cuddled her, and she loves my mom singing to her. In short, she's spoiled, and very much loved.

Sabelle, sleeping between her teddy bear (left side of the picture) and her green squeaky toy snake (upper/right side of picture). In the very bottom right corner, a patch of yellow fuzz can be seen, which is Sabelle's squeaky toy ducky.

Skippy the (Traumatized) Squirrel

Picture is of a regular tree squirrel, who is looking rather pissed off and is clinging to the bathroom doorframe. To his left is a bottle of Windex. Say, Skippy, while you're down there, do you mind cleaning ...? Thanks! The date stamp reads "10/11/2013."
One October morning (the eleventh to be exact), Skippy the Traumatized Squirrel woke me up by loudly screeching. I woke up, confused as to why there would be a pissed off mouse in my room, thought for a minute about the cats, and soon discovered upon closer inspection that Tony (our hunter) had brought in, not a mouse, but a squirrel. With Baby Girl's help, Tony had the squirrel trapped in the corner under my desk area. I told Tony to get that squirrel out of here!, and he complied by picking the squirrel up and subsequently losing it some where between the living room and entry hallway. Some how, Skippy the Traumatized Squirrel had wound up in the bathroom. After forcefully dragging the cats out of the bathroom and quickly closing the bathroom door (and my mom and stepdad's bedroom door for good measure), I called my mom to inform her that there was a squirrel in the bathroom, clinging for dear life to the door frame. Following my mom's instructions, I found a trash can and a make shift lid, and spent the next few minutes coaxing a very traumatized Skippy into said trash can. To my dismay, he climbed the door frame, and was almost in the shower before I managed to trap him in the trash can. I was too afraid to pull back the make shift lid, as I kept having these images in my head of Skippy the Traumatized Squirrel biting my face clean off. I rushed Skippy the (now very) Traumatized Squirrel outside (dodging cats along the way) and slowly dumped the trash can out, yelling "Be free, Skippy! Be free!". He ran off without a moment's hesitation. Some where out there in our neighborhood, is a very traumatized squirrel. I wouldn't be surprised if he has PTSD episodes whenever he sees a cat. Poor Skippy :-/

Sally's Story

We got Sally a few months later, from a rescue place called Fallin' Pines Critter Rescue. We brought her home on November 09, 2013.

Sally, when we first brought her home (her nails are no longer that long, and she's slimed down considerably). Image: Sally is laying on top of bubble wrap, slightly in need of a bath, with a curious, cautious expression on her face.
At first, Sally would bite Sabelle, and so my mom broke the ferret cage up into two parts. She was very aggressive, obviously had not been outside of a cage much (she was rotund, to put it nicely), and had trouble using her back legs. My mom was thinking of sending her back, but I figured I'd try to make a connection with her. I'm known as the guinea pig lady, so there wasn't much of a leap to becoming the ferret whisperer.

I decided my best approach was to follow my instincts and join her in HER world during play time, which meant getting down to her level on the floor. I allowed her to set the pace, follow her lead, and to allow her to come to me. Consistency was - and still is - mandatory. If I had to reprimand her, a gentle "No" followed by removing her from the situation usually worked. Yelling at her would result in her running off and hiding. We eventually wound up using my room as her playroom (it has carpet, which equaled better traction for her feet) and using slow actions so she knew what was happening, that I wasn't going to hit her, I made play FUN! and exaggerated my happiness (it sounds corny, but she wasn't very social and it let her know I was A-okay). If she did X correctly without aggression she got a treat. This has also worked with litter box training and (with some success) getting her to come to us when we call her name. When she bit too hard during play, I'd gently put my finger by her mouth and firmly say "Gentle". I still have to do this on occasion, so she knows her boundaries, but only because she's really into playing and momentarily forgets.

I slowly extended the hours of our play, and now, five months later, she can use her legs to push herself, running like no one's business all over the house REALLY fast (it's hilarious to watch - it's like watching one of those ACME characters run away from a falling object), self confident, owning the joint, and trying to do all the stuff Sabelle can do. We think her back may have been broken at one point, because she couldn't use her back legs well, she doesn't jump around like Sabelle with her crazy Weasel War Dance (when Sally is really into her play, she rolls onto her back and does this improvised one hop dance), and, even though her balance and ability to stretch her neck has improved, she cannot climb. I help Sally to climb atop things when she looks intently UP at an object, and then closely supervising her. She's learning that legs are for jumping, but is still learning how to stick the landing. When she wants up onto the counter or wherever, I will have one hand free and near her at all times because she's gotten so fast, and will jump without a moment's hesitation. She loves nipping toes, which has earned her the nickname of "Carpet Shark" (when she lays down upon the floor, we call her "Ninja Carpet Shark" because her fur and the tile are white).

When we first brought her home, Sally was also very antisocial and disliked being held. She would often whimper in her sleep at night, and, from the way she would thrash about, they looked to be fairly bad nightmares. When I heard her whimper at night (and I have never been more thankful for having sleep issues), I'd wrap her in a towel, sooth her by repeatedly telling her "You're okay, I'm here, you're okay. You're safe, you're here now, you're okay," and pace the house with her until she quit shivering. After a few weeks, she settled in, and she rarely has the occasional nightmare and she's soothed a lot quicker - now, it's five minutes of orienting her that she is here, it's me, she's safe, and then she's like, "Play time!?" (2 AM? Uh, sure?).
I rewarded her for being held and let her know that hands are good by giving her treats. If she wanted down, I'd wait just a bit longer, and then let her down. She now lingers in your arms before wanting down. She enjoys curling up to my side to sleep, and she loves snuggling, and is now allowing my mom to snuggle her. She gives kisses. She's learned how to mimic a whimper so I'll come running to take her out of her cage. Even better is the "Fake Pooping in the Little Box" trick, so I'll either take her out of the cage and/or give her a treat. She's smart, but doesn't really care that we know it. She's happy to have found a home.

For a ferret that came to us with severe behavior issues, she really has come quite a long way. I recently had to pop her to get her off my oldest guinea pig, and she was shocked more than upset that I'd do such a thing! She went into her cage without a fuss, and, by the next day, all was forgiven. She's learning to walk on a leash, and has been on two successful trips to PetSmart. I've been able to socialize her by gradually introducing her to people. Now she'll even let children pet her, no biting. If I sense she's scared or tired, I'll pull her back, but, lately, it's like she's never had any social issues.

My mom recently bought Sally a bed like Sabelle's. Sally had no clue what to do with this bed, until my mom stuck her in it. Now, Sally hardly sleeps on the floor of her cage, and is learning to enjoy her blankets, her tent thingy, and rarely leaves her bed. We've even seen her stretch all the way to her water bowl from her bed, and she enjoys eating in bed. Sally enjoys treats (her favorite are these chicken stick treats that I call "chicken bones"), bubble wrap, opening up doors, finding new places to sleep, and giving herself spit baths via the water fountain or water cup. Sally enjoys chewing on pens, and has a few deconstructed pens (all the components of the pen, like the ink and inside parts, have been removed) under her tent thingy and hidden around the house. She's got toys, too: a blue mouse (she stole that from the cats), a kickster thingy that crinkles (it's used for cats to thump with their hind legs; Bella showed no interest in it, so Sally took that, too), a red, green, and white slipper sock that I used during one of our play sessions (and she subsequently kept and we've since discovered that she loves socks), and a teddy bear that she occasionally likes to snuggle up against (or push off of her loft when she's tired of it). She has this Grinch smile that means she's up to mischief, and it's such a joy to try to keep up with her. Sabelle and Sally have been initiating some form of play, mostly in the form of Sally playfully chasing Sabelle, for about three months now. It's a lot of small baby steps, some back stepping, and a whole lot of poo (which is how she earned her second nickname: Pooh). I will never regret the day that Sally came into our lives.

Image is of a picture of Sally partially hiding behind my craft box on my bedroom floor. Only her head, front torso, and two front legs can be seen, and she is smiling her Grinch smile (named after the infamous Grinch himself). Right after this photo was taken, she attacked my hand to play. Sally is also known to sleep while smiling her Grinch-y smile, obviously planning future mischief. What fun those dreams must be!
Note: It takes a TON of time to get an abused ferret to trust you. That first week was rough because I devoted most of my time to her (and still had to juggle an energetic younger ferret, three guinea pigs, three cats, and a dog) and getting her to know I was safe. It was exhausting, but rewarding work. In this sense, I don't mind being unemployed and having to move in with my mom. I am glad that I am here, that I am alive, and (begrudgingly, slightly less thrilled) that I moved down to Florida. I'm not sure if Sabelle would have been here, and Sally definitely would not have been. Sally needed a family, and I glad that she found us. She's rescued me from some of my own depression, and she makes every day a joy. When she sleeps (in any one of her endless sleeping positions), she is almost always smiling. You can't help but smile back. When she does something new, one of us is quick to point it out and congratulate her. Every day brings something new, and it's just awesome watching her grow into her own and blossom.

Five months later, Sally clearly has lost weight, her eyes are bright, clear, and shine with intelligence, her neck muscles are strong, she moves with intent, and her fur is all white. In this image, she is laying in her bed (her red, green, and white slipper sock is underneath her and can barely be seen; her little box is behind her), staring at the camera with a joyful expression, as if she is saying "I can come out, right!?" She can get out of her cage by her self via a ramp, but prefers that we pick her up.

This is my favorite picture of Sally and I. Sally is cuddled up with me, sleeping, on my left shoulder. My eyes are closed (due to the flash of the camera). We are reclined on my bed.

Tony is named for Anthony DiNozzo of NCIS. My mom sometimes calls him "Why not?" (because that's Tony spelled backwards!). He is very affectionate, and is very handsome (and knows it, too!). He's my furry hunk of a kitty, and I sometimes call him Tone Tone (because his meow is very tone-ful). He'll wait in front of the house for anyone to come home, and will wait up if I've gone on a late night lettuce run. When I'm in pain, he'll seek me out to comfort me, and he loves hogging the foot of my bed. He lives for cat treats, scritches, and kisses. He's also our hunter, and is known for bringing in the squirrels, snakes, lizards, and various insects. He loves lounging on the pillow I've placed on top of Zeke's cage, in the window itself, or near Daisy's cage (she used to have a mini crush on him until Tony decided to put his mouth around her to see if she'd fit).

Image: Tony, laying on the pillow on top of Zeke's cage, with his paws hanging into Daisy's cage. His expression is one of pure boredom, like he's just hanging there, and has no intention of bothering Daisy. Tony is part American curl, part Siamese (we think). His paws, chest, and underbelly are white.

Tony, asleep in the guinea pigs' laundry basket, with his tongue sticking out and his fangs showing. As you do.
Baby Girl

Baby Girl is my stepdad's cat, and she's a spoiled princess. She's known for swatting at the bell on my mom's and stepdad's door first thing in the morning when she's hungry and wants fed. She's the mother of the ferrets and guinea pigs, and has been known to clean and sleep in their cages. She's part feral cat, and is a little bit anti social and moves her sleeping spots around. If she wants something (usually turkey sandwich meat or whatever meat you're cooking), she'll start acting like she's starving half to death, and gets this "Puss in Boots" look on her face (very wide eyed and innocent looking). She's known for drinking out of the faucets (as if she's too good to drink out of the water facet or water cup). If she doesn't get her way, she will bang the drawers open and closed to show her displeasure. If she wants in a room, she'll scratch at the door until you either yell at her to stop or cave in (mostly the latter). She mostly does whatever the hell she wants, and enjoys tracking in her share of lizards and insects.

Baby Girl, clearly annoyed and grimacing at the camera. She is lounging on top of my blue pillow on the couch. She is a light tan/reddish brown shorthair tiger cat.

Bella - short for Bellissima - is the kitten. She's built solid with no fat on her, and enjoys jumping on and off of anyone, cannonball style (meaning, using her whole weight, so it hurts like hell). She doesn't have a lot of manners, and has proven it thusly by willfully cleaning herself on the counters and licking the butter on the microwave cart. We're trying to curb the behavior, but it's sort of hard to in a cat that just doesn't care. Bella only comes when she wants to - at first, I was convinced she was deaf, but nope, she just doesn't give a damn - she will come when it pleases her. She's very insistent and doesn't really care that you're busy - when she wants attention, she will get attention, or else. It's taken a lot of effort to move her off of me, the keyboard, or whatever, but she's finally gotten around to using her paw to bat at me when I won't give her attention. She's also known for farting on you when she's upset with you. When she was little and could still fit, her nickname was Spider Kitty because she'd climb under the bed upside down via her claws. She figured that as long as you couldn't get at her, she couldn't be thrown out of the bedroom. She's also known for sticking her head in your mouth when you're sleeping, which scared the dickens out of me the first time she did it (I broke my new laptop screen by throwing it at intruder who I thought had broken into my room; nope, just Bella! I no longer fall asleep with my laptop). She uses her voice really loudly to get in and out of the cat door when it's closed, and she's very expressive. For as annoying as she is, Bella is a sweet and very affectionate kitty. At first, I thought she had also been abandoned as a kitten (nope!), she's just very loving. When Tony isn't around and I'm in pain, Bella will seek me out and cuddled me up until I'm all better. It sort of balances out that whole annoying kitten attitude she has. Sort of.

Bat Kitty! Bella is a black and white Maine or Tuxedo cat (we're not sure which). She gets the nickname Bat Kitty because the way her ears flatten to look like the Batman silhouette when her name is being called. Some of the fur is missing on her right leg due to a recent surgery to spay her.


If Sabelle is the youngest in the house (followed by Daisy, then Bella, and up the age chain), then Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) is the oldest, at 13 years old. She is a white and light brown mop (I don't remember the exact breed per se) dog. She is known for protecting her "babies" (stuffed animals), sleeping, snoring, and being a general (loving) nuisance by refusing to move out your way when you're walking by her. When she wants something, she whimpers. She has arthritis, and enjoys following the ferrets around the house. She's especially found of Sally, and the two will sometimes play. Otherwise, she's pushed around by the ferrets (when they're not busy staring down the cats) and is often rebuffed and/or literally walked over by the cats. Buffy takes turns curled up at our feet, and loves moving towels around the house until she's found the perfect spot to sleep. The entry hallway is considered her bedroom. She loves treats and attention, and barks at thunder. She's a good dog :-)

Image is of Buffy laying down on a towel. She's looking the camera, obviously just having been woken up. She's the Buff dog :-)

A Christmas Surprise

Thanksgiving came with the usual threats of using the guinea pigs in lieu of a turkey, and was followed in quick succession by December.

My brother, his wife, and A. surprised us to celebrate A's very first Christmas and New Year's. I was so shocked that I actually cried. I hadn't seen my brother in a long time, nor had yet to meet his wife or my niece. He is in the Navy and had been stationed in Guam, and had just transferred state side to Connecticut in November. We weren't sure if he was going to get leave, and had pretty much convinced ourselves he was going to get his orders.

My sister-in-law is a smart, funny, beautiful, and strong lady. She and my brother are a good match. The Sister approves ;-) I was fearful of holding my niece, because I didn't want to drop her due to the neuropathy in my hands. I still got to have fun with her, and got to chase her around some. She's a happy, smart, stubborn, funny, gorgeous, and super awesome sauce kiddo. She can now pull herself up, walk in her walker, and is getting prepared to walk any day now. I'm one proud aunt :-)

From left to right: My brother, my sister in law, and A., who is happily waving around a toy. We're all sitting around in the living room, watching TV, and wearing shorts in the AC because that's Christmas in Florida ;-)

The Rest of the Story

Since January, I've been trying to get my mind to concentrate long enough to fill out the Social Security forms and other forms of various kinds. It's sort of difficult, too, in that I injured my right wrist when moving boxes and I cannot write for very long without my wrist getting tired and sore. Then I had a week of illness (probably a light dose of the flu) followed by a week of dealing with an ear infection. The left pedal on my bike fell off half way on a 16 mile bike ride, and I gave up my trustworthy bike - that could never be fully repaired because the accidents in Maryland mostly killed it - for a newer bike that I'm still learning to trust (hence, no pictures yet. My weary eye keeps expecting it to eat me alive, Calvin & Hobbes style). It's never ending fun around here! /sarcasm

Picture is of me holding the left pedal of my bike in my left hand. I am wearing my blue gel biking gloves.

My old Clear Creek men's 26 inch bike, complete with back rack and plastic bottle of coffee. My bike is perched against the bus sign, and there is a light drizzle of rain.
I am still trying to get myself to contact schools and the student loan people to see about going back to school. I'm thinking of psychiatry and eventually being able to work as an online psychiatrist and connecting people with the help they need, whether it be an ear to listen or a local resource. My eventual goal is to provide some free counseling for those without an income. I know the need is there, especially in rural areas where a therapist may not be found as readily in an urban areas, for folks who are too busy making ends meet to get the help they need, and for those forgoing help to feed themselves and/or their families.

I have (most) of the help I need. I need a counselor, and am still mostly tired to my core. I recently upset my sciatica nerve injury when I attempted to ride 16 miles to pick up my medications at Lakeside (the week of mind-numbing pain wasn't worth saving $2 on bus money). It's one step forward and a few steps back, and it's a dance I know well. No, everything is not picture perfect, but, phft, I never liked being photographed any ways ;-)

Until the next time, ferrets and guinea pigs out!

No comments:

Post a Comment