Saturday, September 16, 2017

Meet Caroline

We’ve added a new fur baby to our family.  Meet Caroline. She’s about 16 weeks old, weighed in at just over four pounds at today’s checkup, and is full of energy.  She’s also incredibly sweet and playful.

You may remember that I said we weren’t looking to foster or adopt for a while after losing so many pets in a relatively short time.  We didn’t have a set time frame in mind, and we weren’t actively looking.  Sometimes fate (or in this case, my sister’s elderly neighbor) just decides to drop a kitten in your life (or on your sister’s porch a few hours before you’re supposed to arrive).

We went to spend the weekend with my sister, Gabrielle, three weeks ago.  The visit had been planned for months, for my parents to come, and for Nick and I to come.  Gabrielle calls me a lot, so I didn’t think much of it when she called me right before I left work.  Until she started in on a tirade about someone dropping off a kitten on her porch.  She’s a total cat person, but she works nights, and had just gotten up.  She also has six cats, five of whom arrived on her porch as kittens in her old neighborhood, in various states of ill heath.  Her current neighborhood doesn’t seem to have such a high population of homeless cats, so she thought her days of rescuing kittens on her way out the door were over.

I suggested that she ask her next door neighbor, a very nice elderly lady who seems to know all of the goings on of the neighborhood, if she knew anything about the kitten’s arrival.  And I started thinking about how fun it might be to have a kitten again.

It turned out that the kitten had been wandering the neighborhood for a couple of days.  Gabrielle’s next door neighbor, and a neighbor across the street had seen her and decided that she needed to be taken somewhere safe.  Neither of them are cat people, so they weren’t sure of the logistics of rescuing a kitten, but felt certain that Gabrielle would know.  They put the kitten on her porch, with the intention of calling her later in the day, after the time she usually gets up.  She just happened to get up earlier that day since we were all coming to stay that evening.

We had already made plans to go with Gabrielle to take two of her cats to the vet while we were there, so she just called and added an appointment for the kitten.  We knew at that point that one of us would be keeping the kitten.

After we arrived and met the kitten we decided that we would keep her.  Nick came up with the name Caroline, which I loved.  I had originally suggested Olivia, which Nick liked as well.  We ended up drawing for her name, since we both liked both names.  Our next girl will be Olivia.  Fortunately, we tend to agree on girl’s names.  Boy’s names are an entirely different story.  It took us two days to name Frankie, and I’m pretty sure it’s the only boy’s name we will ever agree on.

Caroline is settling in well.  It has been a while since we’ve had a kitten; Frankie was our last kitten (other than some short term fosters), and he’s nine.  We had forgotten how playful and energetic they are!  Caroline is interested in everything, and constantly wants to play and explore.  She’s very affectionate, and loves to cuddle when she’s not busy exploring.  We haven’t allowed Caroline to interact with the dogs yet, just because she’s so tiny.  Duke and Chuzoo are both great with cats, having spent their lives with cats, but Duke is over 90 pounds.  We just want Caroline to be a little bigger before she starts playing with the dogs.  The older cats are adjusting to having a kitten in the house.  It’s kind of fun to watch them act all offended when she does things that they did as kittens.

So even though we weren’t actively looking to add another kitty to the family, it only took us a few months.  It feels right, though.  Caroline seems happy with us, and she definitely makes us happy.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Helping Doesn’t Have To Be Overwhelming

First of all, let me just go ahead and say that I realize the pictures have pretty much nothing to do with this post.  I think Howard and Frankie look adorable in them, and I’m tired of almost crying every time I see pictures of wet, pitiful pets.  I thought we could all use a break from that.  Now, on to the actual post.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone has seen far more videos and photos of destruction and loss from Hurricane Harvey than any of us ever wanted to. That level of devastation is hard to fathom.   It seems to fair to say that most of us want to help, but some of us aren’t sure how, or if what we do will even make a difference.  Add reports of scams and charities that aren’t all we’d like to hope they are, and knowing how to help becomes even more difficult.

It doesn’t have to be.  I am by no means an expert, but I do seem to know a lot of really smart people who are really good at helping others.  Here are some of the ways I’ve seen people helping that seem like good ideas to me:

Start with Charity Navigator.  I love this site.  If you’re not familiar, they rate charities on their practices and how they spend their money.  It’s an excellent resource in determining who to donate to.  Most of us have a finite amount of money, and don’t want to turn it over to just anyone.  There’s a special section right now for Hurricane Harvey relief, so you can make sure your funds are put to the best use possible.

Donate supplies through your employer if they’re doing a collection.  One of the court security officers started a collection of supplies from the courthouse, detention center, and Sheriff’s Office in our county to be delivered to Hearts With Hands, as well as supplies to be delivered directly to the Houston Police Department from the Sheriff’s Office.  She handed out a list of items needed to all of the offices in the three buildings and designated a collection point in each building.

I thought this was a particularly good idea.  I’ve read that donating supplies can be tricky because of the logistics of getting them to the people who need them, but by delivering them to a charity who can coordinate delivery and distribution, that problem is solved.  Being given a long list to work with makes it easy for everyone to get involved.  It’s easy to add one or two things from the list to your weekly grocery shopping and take them into work the next day.  For those of us who coupon and sale shop, we already had some of the items requested on hand.  This gave us a way to share them.

Choose what matters most to you to help with.  Unfortunately, we can’t all give money and supplies to every worthy organization helping with relief efforts.  I think a good way to decide is to help a cause that you’re passionate about.  For us that typically means animal rescues and first responders. For Nick’s mom and step-dad, it has been animal shelters and a program to replace school books.  A coworker of mine chose to send an Amazon order of diapers to one of the diaper banks.  We’re all different, and we all have different needs, passions, and ideas.  Think about what you might want or need the most if you were in that situation.

Don’t hesitate to step up and organize something if you see a way to fill a need.  Someone had to get the collections started at work, and I think we’re all grateful to the officer who did.  It’s surprisingly easy to coordinate a group effort.  I saw a post on Chewy.com’s Facebook wall from a volunteer at the San Antonio Humane Society asking if they could donate kitten milk replacer, puppy milk replacer, canned kitten food, and canned puppy food.  That seemed like something I  could coordinate, being no stranger to ordering pet supplies online.  I posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to contribute to sending them a box.  Nick’s mom got involved as well, and within 24 hours we raised over $220.00 for the supplies they had asked for.  There’s now a box with needed items on the way to them.  It’s a small thing in the grand scheme of what’s needed, but I’m telling you about it just to show you that it’s not difficult to pick something you care about, and coordinate an effort to help.

Consider donating closer to home to help with relief efforts.  Is your state, county, or city sending a swift water rescue team, or other volunteers to help?  Consider making a donation to them to help with those costs, or to use as they see fit in the affected areas.  Contact some of your local emergency response agencies to see if they’re collecting supplies to send to similar agencies in affected areas.

Don’t underestimate the value of doing one relatively small thing.  It’s so easy to feel like what we’re able to do won’t be enough to make a difference in such a huge disaster.  Everything counts, though.  I think that’s the beauty of so many people helping one another.  Don’t feel like your monetary donation doesn’t matter because it’s not a huge amount, or your supplies aren’t enough to bother with.  If you what you’re able to give is one dollar, or one package to a bin for supplies, then do it.  None of us can do everything, but most of us can do something.

So what about you?  Have you discovered any ways to help that are especially meaningful to you? Are you aware of a particular need of a particular organization?  Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments for any of us still looking for a way to help.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lime Basil Water

Basil is the one herb that consistently thrives in our yard.  It doesn’t matter where we plant it, or how much we neglect it.  We always end up with lots of basil.  I’m not complaining.  I love basil, and I love finding new ways to use it.  My latest way of using basil is incredibly simple, and incredibly delicious.

We all know we need to drink plenty of water, especially during the warmer weather, but sometimes it’s hard.  Plain water can be a little boring.  Adding lime and basil brightens it up a little bit, but the flavors are still fairly subtle.  

Lime Basil Water:
1 gallon of water
½ cup basil leaves, rinsed
1 Tbsp lime juice.

Combine all three ingredients in a pitcher, stir, and refrigerate.

Enjoy!

Recipe Notes:
I like to use this style pitcher because the ice guard keeps the basil leaves in the pitcher, and out of my glass.  The basil flavor gets stronger over time, so if you don’t drink all of the water within about 24 hours, spoon the basil leaves out, otherwise the flavor becomes a little too strong.  I use plain tap water.  I know it’s not the case everywhere, but the water here tastes good and doesn’t have any strange odors.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Morris Island Lighthouse

Yesterday was National Lighthouse Day.  I had plans to do this post then, but it was a typical Monday, so that didn’t happen.  I think it’s interesting, though, so I decided just to do the post a day late.

Last year our beach vacation was very different than usual.  We ended up leaving a few days early because of a hurricane evacuation, but we were able to see the Morris Island lighthouse lit up.  It’s just off of Folly Beach, South Carolina, and October 1, 2016 marked the 140th anniversary of the current lighthouse being lit.  It’s no longer in use, but Save The Light was able to arrange a lighting for the first time in over 50 years.

October 1st just happened to be the first day of our vacation, so we made sure to walk out to the end of the island so we could see the lighthouse all lit up.  We chose to skip the ceremony, partly to spend more time on the beach, and largely in an effort to avoid the worst of the crowds.  Traffic was pretty intense on that end of the island, but it was worth it.

We’ve never spent much time on that end of the island.  There are some bird sanctuary areas where dogs aren’t allowed.  The dogs always vacation to Folly Beach with us, so we typically spend most of our time on the other end of the island.  It was nice to finally go to the other end of the island, and seeing the lighthouse lit up may well be a once in a lifetime experience.  We were both really happy that our trip happened to coincide with the lighting.

I took a lot of pictures, but most of them didn’t come out.  Obviously, it was really dark at that end of the island.  There were also signs warning of rocks and currents, so Nick was super paranoid about me getting too close to the water for the sake of pictures.

Even though my pictures are nothing amazing, the experience definitely was.  There are records dating back to 1673 showing some sort of light there, and the current (third) lighthouse has been there for 140 years.  It was like a little piece of history coming to life.  There are some better pictures on the Save The Light website, as well as some more history about the lighthouse.  I encourage you to check it out.  It’s a quick read, and I think it’s fascinating.

Happy National Lighthouse Day!  A day late, but we’ve made it almost halfway through the workweek.  The weekend is shining like a beacon of hope.  Kind of like a lighthouse.

Friday, August 4, 2017

It’s Not As Bad As It Sounds

Do you ever have moments that make you realize that if a stranger overheard your conversations, or read your emails or text messages that the best you could hope for would be for them to think that you’re some kind of lunatic?  Or that they would think you’re probably a truly horrible person?  Or does the autocorrect on your phone ever make it seem like you desperately need to rethink your life choices?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve realized recently that, taken out of context, some conversations and messages portray me in a very bad, or at least very bizarre, light.  I’ll give you a list, and then explain them a little later in the post.

1.  “I think our official position is that we are very Pro-Chuck.” My sister, Gabrielle, to me.

2.  “Thank you for locking up the kids.” Nick to me.

3.  “Do not eat the blueberry bagel.”  Text from a co-worker to the entire office.

4.  “They hate you.  You’re the keeper of the hell hounds.”  Gabrielle to me.

5.  “What, you can’t live without us for two minutes?”  Me to my boss.

6.  “Don’t forget to put the boiling acid on the dogs.” Me to Nick.

7.  And the autocorrect one: When we went on vacation in March Nick’s mom stayed at our house and took care of the pets.  I sent her a few texts on the way home telling her how smoothly trafficking was going.

So at this point I’m pretty sure my sister sounds maybe a little bit insane.  Nick and I sound like animal and child abusers, and it sounds like I used to work with a bunch of bagel thieves, but probably got fired for smarting off to the boss, and have pursued trafficking as a new career choice.

Here are the perfectly innocent explanations:

1.  My dad has a friend, Chuck, who we haven’t met yet.  My mom wanted to invite Chuck along on a weekend visit to Gabrielle’s house.  Gabrielle suggested holding off until we meet him when it won’t involve spending an entire weekend with a stranger.  She thinks we’ll like him, and it sounds like he’s a good friend to my dad.

2.  We do not have children, at least not the human kind.  We typically refer to the pets as the kids.  We recently had some work done on the house, and I put the dogs in one bedroom and the cats in the other bedroom to keep them out of harm’s way.  I sent Nick an email telling him, and that was his response.

3.  We don’t steal food in my office.  It’s actually the best place I’ve ever worked as far as lunches, etc not disappearing from the fridge.  One of my co-workers had picked up bagels, mostly for our office, but a few for people in other departments.  Some were a random assortment up for grabs, but the blueberry one was a special request from someone in another department.

4.  Gabrielle has six cats, who aren’t used to dogs.  We almost always take the dogs with us when we go stay with her, so we don’t usually see much of the cats while we’re there.  She says the cats think of them as the hell hounds.  I spent a weekend with her a few months ago, but left the dogs home with Nick.  I still didn’t see much of the cats.  Apparently they think I always come with “hell hounds”.

5.  For the most part, we’re fairly relaxed in my office.  We’re also a two county/two office operation.  The boss’s main office is in the other office.  That particular day he had been in the office I’m in, and called less than two minutes after he left.  He was still in the parking lot, and thought my comment about not being able to live without us was amusing.

6.  Duke and Chuzoo are on Revolution for their monthly flea and heartworm prevention.  If you’re not familiar, it’s topical and is applied between their shoulder blades.  It doesn’t hurt, burn, or sting your skin.  Believe me, I’ve gotten enough of it on myself over the years to be able to say that from a place of experience.  Duke is pretty good about it.  Chuzoo is not.  He carries on like we’re torturing him.  We’ve started referring to it as the boiling acid because of the way he carries on.  I didn’t really have a good picture to go with this post, so I’m including one of Duke and Chuzoo, just to show that they’re fine.  I also think they look cute in it, and you can’t really go wrong with a cute dog picture.

7.  Autocorrect.  Isn’t it fun?  I blame some of the more horrible ones on work.  My phone takes “traf” and turns it into “trafficking”.  Every single time.  Most of the time I catch it and change it, but I was in a hurry trying to text Nick’s mom on the way home.  Fortunately, she knows where I work, and we get along well.

So what about you?  Were you ready to break out the pitchforks when you read through my list? Have you taken part in any conversations that could have sounded pretty awful to a casual observer?