Monday, December 31, 2012

All this happy stuff, on a Monday...

No matter if you are cranky like Coco,
Or sociable like Valentina,
Or searching for your next cocktail like Manhattan,

Or part of a beautiful duo, like Bessie and Lulu

We wish you a very happy and peaceful New Year! 

I will be re-vamping and re-decorating the blog in 2013, so hope you'll join me and the Feline Five as we venture forward.

~If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud. (Emile Zola)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The End Becomes the Beginning

Here we go again. Another new year ahead....

I started this blog early in 2012 while taking an online course. This, I told myself, would be the year I sharpened my writing skills and found a way to channel my creative energies and spirit. Such good intentions....

As I look back over my posts, I see clearly that I saw nothing clearly this entire year. Well, not when it involved my personal path. Normally, I'd evaluate this as good or bad. I'm not going to do that to myself. There's nothing to be gained, and it's a time suck.

On multiple occasions I described wanting to move out of my apartment. The reality is I don't WANT to move out of my apartment. Not just to move out. What I had hoped earlier this year was to find a place to buy, and then move. I looked here in Jersey City in my price range. The options were just not acceptable. Small spaces, resale would have been difficult, neighborhoods I didn't care to join. I can't afford Manhattan, so that was off the list. And moving to a suburb in New Jersey didn't suit me either, since I knew I'd be further away from NYC, commuting in for work (if I could find work in the city) would become expensive and time consuming.

Then, I thought I'd move to Maryland. This plan seemed to be a good one, real estate in my price range is much better and resale in those areas that I desire would be very good. Additionally, I'd be closer to my mom and dad. For those of you who have been reading you know that my mother's health has declined noticeably this year. The foundation of my heart is my family, so I want to be there to be helpful. That income thing though--mortgages are predicated on having one. A job hunt in the area commenced. While simultaneously job hunting in the NYC area to sustain my monthly run rate.

In October, I secured a part time contract and I thought, for some foolish reason, I'd be able to find additional work and life as I knew it would resume. That hasn't been the case. I've interviewed for multiple full time jobs, talked to scads of people about contract and full time opportunities. And this has yielded a lot of talk and e-mail time with no job in hand. I also became frustrated with looking in two different areas for jobs, and working through the if/then scenarios.

In early December, upon learning that I was declined for a big job in NYC that seemed more like a winning lottery ticket than anything, I made the decision AGAIN to pack up and move to MD. February 1. This I rationalized made sense. Cheaper in MD, closer to mom and dad. Lots of friends available to help.

After being in MD for the Christmas holiday, and really thinking through the details, I've pulled the plug on February 1.

If you don't know me, this very well could sound bi-polar. I suppose there is a measure of insanity to all of it--if we say that insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting different results.

For 2013, I'd like to do a few things:
1) Find work that covers my expenses. I don't really care any more if it's work in my field, if it's work I can brag about, or work that others think is valuable. Income is the goal.
2) In establishing this work, determine where I want to be based for the next two-three years. Keeping in mind that any plan I have can be turned upside down by events that are completely out of my control.
3) Get back to basics on running, working out. I have been inactive for too long. I know why--it's the inertia I experience when I'm confused. I've been so confused all year.
4) Blog more. Re-vamp. Connect with other bloggers. I think that Valentina may be the key here, she could actually take over as the Chief Cat Correspondent for Unit 910.
5) Enjoy and lean into the sharp points, as Pema Chodron would say.

In summary, this whole year hasn't been a waste (an evaluative statement) if I consider these facts: I made new friends, I have been pushed to the point of feeling an intense need to transform on an emotional level...and I'm being challenged now to find a new way to generate income.

I'm scared to death, but on a parallel path I believe if I don't run away I may find a new beginning.

I think she'd be a better draw to the blog than I've been. Valentina, also known as the Social Director of Unit 910.

Where ever your road has led you this year, I hope you have some peace and joy. Where there is sorrow or pain, I hope you can harvest the lesson intended for you. It's not easy. I'm still working on mine. Peace.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It Won't Be Long Before We're There With SNOW

I know it sounds cranky. But I don't like snow. I loved it as a kid, but it meant being sequestered at home away from school buses and homework. The idea of it while watching White Christmas where Bing and Danny and Rosemary and Vera sing SNOW on the train was always appealing. Now, it just means trudging out in what becomes slush, it's dirty and here in the 'hood, one can't always judge the depth of the puddle...

Right now, I'm settling in to work on some training materials that deserve attention. Because I didn't do any work during the week. The cat TV is on: snow has starting falling here in JC and 3 of 5 felines are sitting at the windows to watch it...

Baby Coco Chanel, her first snow early winter 2009.
I'll post pictures of today's viewing later.

Where ever you may be, stay safe.

Friday, December 28, 2012

I'm Still Standing

I really have lost my grip. No concept of time anymore.

So where was I? Oh, right. Describing the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. We lost four of our beloved kitties. It's been a slow acceptance process. Find myself continuing to look around corners, by dumpsters for signs of those gone. My analysis skills kick in and I crave answers to those questions that I'll never know for sure: how did they try to save themselves, how long did they suffer.

Madea was the mama kitty. We've helped numerous kittens from her litters. The first litter we knew of we rescued in 2010. Saved 3 of 4 babies and placed them all. The 4th, Buster, had Parvo, and didn't survive. But at least we scooped him up from the hot August pavement and got him some comfort before he expired. We believe another litter was born while Madea was hiding from us (because we rescued her babies, she saw that as hunting her kittens). For a long while there was a little guy we called Lucky who ate along with her, and we assume he was a sole survivor of litter #2. Then there was litter #3, they arrived in the early spring of 2012. Those kittens stayed close to Madea, and we fed all four, plus her, plus Lucky in a lot next to my building. This August, late in the month, we discovered another litter of 6 babies. (We did want to TNR her but she was not easy to trap).

I rescued one baby immediately after Labor Day. She was stranded by herself, barely old enough to walk. I fed her and then the next day employed a neighborhood feral cat rescuer friend to help me get her. (I'm not good at the trapping and catching part of this business). She was placed within 36 hours. Adorable. That left 5 on the street with Madea, and the 4 "teenagers" as we called them.

Super Storm Sandy took Madea, Prim (a beautiful runt tuxedo from litter #3), and 2 of the baby tuxedo kittens from litter #4. It's simply heartbreaking. The body of the two babies were found, but we've never recovered Prim or Madea. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, Nat and I tried to plan for trapping everyone and placing them.

While I was in MD over Thanksgiving, she caught the three babies, with absolutely no assistance from me. This we told ourselves was a way of honoring Madea. And time was running out. The empty lot these litters called home (the same lot where some of them drowned during the storm) was set for construction to begin December 1. And right on schedule, huge cranes arrived along with fencing which would have blocked us from feeding.

Next task was trapping the three surviving teenagers. There's a whole story here too. I'll get to it some day...it involves cats scaling 20 foot walls. Never seen anything like it. We really do have the makings of a reality show here. Anyone who has a video camera and some free time, let me know. This one was again all on Nat. I'm really not sure how she made it through 6 rescues in 10 days. If I could sew, I'd make her a cape.

All three kittens have been placed. One is living with Nat as a foster, although she looks pretty well settled in. We've named her Maddie, because she looks so much like Madea. At Natalie's she is right at home. There are other kitties and Maddie has no fear. Sits with them, eats with them. Undaunted by the hissing. Just so happy to be warm and fed and loved.

The teenagers are in boarding right now. Two are not very happy but seem to be content to be together.  How do we explain, "your home is gone...and it's so cold outside you would be in pain"? How do we let them know they never have to worry about finding food, or running from mean people throwing broken glass? Or fear Mother Nature, who in all her beauty and fury can create the most wonderful of days next to the worst of nightmares?

Living through the destruction that ripped through the region is not an experience I'll soon forget. I stood in line for an hour and half one day waiting for Dunkin Donuts coffee. The swarms of people using ShopRite as a charging and warming station was overwhelming. Walking up 9 flights of stairs for 8 days while our elevators were under repair was brutal--mostly because of security concerns and the pain of lugging of groceries and goods up that many steps. I was only without power for 36 hours, so that was not really a terrible thing given that many people were without for 10 days, or for weeks. That's provided they still had a home. So many people lost houses, treasured photos, pets, and family members to the floods. I'm still standing.

Madea's last litter. Maddie is the mostly white kitten at the bottom, and she closely resembles her mama. Thanks to Nat, they are safe.

This one's for you, Madea. I am so sorry I couldn't save you. I will see you on the bricks and the warehouses and the streets of the PAD for as long as I live here. You were regal and beautiful and such a good mama kitty. Rest in peace, baby girl.


Lucky, tuxedo in the foreground and Madea, mostly white kitty in the background. Waiting for dinner to be served, May 2012.