Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Z-Girl's Mom and Dad

Hi everyone, this is Valentina.

A nice black and white photo for today: Joe and Mary Lou, December 1961

Z-Girl's Dad and Mom, in their first apartment, Baltimore, Maryland. December 1961

Based on the chip and dip bowls on the table we believe this was taken at a New Year's Eve party--a tradition that lasted until 2012 for Z-Girl's parents. The friends who celebrated together were work colleagues from Westinghouse, where Joe worked for 35 years. 

Friendships that last across time are so special. We love this photo. And hey, it's black and white just like ME...

Photo credit: Wendy Ploger

Valentina, out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Punkin and Chaucer

Hi everyone, Bessie here.

Today is Wordless Wednesday. Z-Girl wants us to share a photo of Punkin (rescue kitty we wrote about yesterday) and Chaucer--who are together running free at the Rainbow Bridge.

Z-Girl's mom took this picture and on the back she wrote:

Chaucer and Punkin, now friends, 7/95

Chaucer is the tiny black kitten on the left and Punkin is the big hunk of orange tabby on the right. Furrow Avenue, living room window on a July afternoon, 1995.

Punkin was initially not happy about another kitty entering his home. He was still getting used to the loss of his three adoptive sisters, Pyewacket, Jezebel and Puffin. They didn't depart at the same time but with each passing Punkin felt sad. It didn't take him long to adopt Chaucer. And Chaucer loved having a big brother in the house. They lived, played and purred together for 8 years.

I'm actually Z-Girl's third black kitty, each one of us unwanted by other humans because of the beauty of our shimmery black fur. Z-Girl says that she never understood disliking a living creature based on hair, skin or fur color. 

Enjoy your day with your favorite buddy today. 

Bessie, out.
I balance purrfectly on my sisal scratcher.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Two Tuxedo Toosday: Blizzard Bust

Valentina: Hey everyone! It's Two Tuxedo Toosday
Manhattan: That's a silly photo of us, Z-Girl. Vali is washing my ear.

Valentina: We just wanted to report that the Blizzard of 2015 was a BUST here in Jersey City.
Manhattan: And, that we are happy that we didn't have to fret over our outdoor buddies surviving 2+ feet of snow and 50+MPH winds.

Valentina: M, didn't you live through a blizzard, back in 2009?
Manhattan: I don't think it was a real blizzard, but there was a lot of snow. Z-Girl had to dig around the grate where I would come out for food. She still tells me how happy she was when I emerged for my meal the day after the storm.
Valentina: She also told me a story about another kitty who arrived in her life during a blizzard. But that was a loooong time ago.
Today is a busy day of sitting in the sun and enjoying the warmth of our home. We hope that you too are peacefully appreciating this day. If you are in the North East, please be safe. Some areas are still experiencing poor weather conditions.

Furrow Avenue view of the backyard into Patapsco State Park, around  Winter1992

His name was Punkin. My mom first spotted him that autumn, his orange coat sometimes blending in with the leaves and other times making him easy to find. She fed him and his companion Duffy for several months. Duffy came into the garage before the heavy snowfall, but Punkin stayed on the perimeter of our property that edged into the State Park. The morning after we were hit with two feet, mom looked into the yard and there was Punkin. When she waded toward him, he had to swim through the snow meet her halfway. He then allowed her to bring him into the garage where she had set up heated boxes to keep the stray pair comfortable. 

Duffy was very sick and we sadly put him to sleep to end his suffering. Punkin was lonely but simultaneously took to my mom readily and became curious about the Door into the House. We already had three girl cats and territory issues. You know the story: he worked his way into the sunroom, then the kitchen, and then gained full run of the house. Sure, there was hissing and spitting but it subsided quickly. Wonderful and loving boy--he had a thick coat of fur and loved to be pet and scratched, but he played shy with strangers. We were lucky to have him a long time and I am ever inspired by my mother's determination to rescue these two cats despite their initial reluctance to accept human touch. Blizzards or the threat of them remind me of the homeless kitties searching shelter. Punkin was so grateful for his home, and we in turn were happy to open our hearts to such a sweet feline. RIP Punkin, you are dearly missed. 

Manhattan: I show my gratitude every day, Z-Girl. I purr and give you head bonks. A lot of them.  I also pretend not to smell the Friskies on your hands when you come back from feeding the outside colony.

Valentina: It's time to resume my sun soaking, everyone.

Over and OUT!

Valentina enjoying the KittyPod by the windows and my desk. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Caturday, Easy Sunday all flow into the Blizzard of 2015 Monday...

Hey everyone, it's Lulu.

I have not been on this earthly plane all that long, but I do remember when I was a baby hearing about Superstorm Sandy, and that was a really scary time for us because the flood waters overwhelmed our PAD and we lost power for several days. Z-Girl stood in line for like 200 minutes to get a warm cup of coffee one morning, while people lined the footprint of ShopRite to charge their phones and other electronic devices.
The not fully flooded courtyard in front of the Warehouse apartment, Superstorm Sandy 2012
Photo credit: Karen Fuchs
Sculpture: Spheres, Robert Koch Studios

Since last night we've been hearing that this is going to be a historic storm. We here at Squeedunk are not able to find anything positive about that distinction. There are too many homeless kitties in our area and we estimate a profound risk for them, despite the wonderful shelter houses that Aunt Nat and Uncle Phil have secured for use in the cold and snow. Winds in excess of 50 miles an hour accompanied by brutal snowfall and below freezing temperatures equal a potentially deadly combination for our feral friends. We have been praying to St. Francis, and we hope that you will send out all your good thoughts and energies for every homeless animal in need of shelter, no matter where they may dwell.

Z-Girl has plenty of food for the [indoor] Squeendunk Gang. She builds little blanket huts for Coco, Valentina and Manhattan to access on the New Living Room Chairs (they replaced the Big Red Chair that has been relocated to the Front Room). We have snuggly beds and soft, cozy blankets around the apartment. Mama Bessie and I hunker down under the Big Bed. Today Z-Girl brought out the battery operated candles and LED flashlights and set up candles to light. Uncle Robert is going to make her favorite snow-time food (Pennsylvania Corn Pie he calls it) for friends in the Warehouse apartment building.

This is me and Mama Bessie in our bed. We like it because it gets soaked in sunshine most days. 

I assumed my normal morning watch-cat spot so that I could survey who showed up for work at the construction site across the street and to make my own assessment of the #blizzardof2015. At that time, there were no snow flakes so I took my bath and played for awhile.

What in the what is going on out there?

Z-Girl went from working oodles and oodles of hours to being on work hiatus so she's here rearranging stuff on the computer and stuff like that. Suits me just fine cuz she plays with me more often...

I will take my normal position on the window a little later today. Just as soon as my late morning to mid-afternoon nap is complete.

Wherever you are, may you be safe and warm with a full belly. We will work on making our outside friends as safe, warm and full as possible over these next few days. Z-Girl says she will help keep our readers advised.

This is Lulu, OUT.
Me at my cat watch post on a non-snow day.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Great Capture: Puck

How do you capture the One Who Won't Approach a Trap?

Puck circa 2011

With a drop trap, of course.

Z-Girl here with you today. Here in Jersey City, I work as a minor character in the play about the rescue of feral cats in the PAD (Powerhouse Arts District). Some of you may be aware from previous posts that three of the Squeedunk Cats are rescues from the 'hood. And you may have even read about Puck, a beautiful orange tabby who has enchanted many hearts with his playful spirit. He is undeniably cute (even the guys like Puck).

We've weathered a lot with him, quite literally. Super Storm Sandy, below freezing temperatures, snow storms with accumulations over 2 feet. Like most ferals he has a multitude of spots to sleep, play, eat and tom-cat around. Natalie and I believe he is responsible for no less than 10 litters of kittens. At some point I foresee the two of us plotting out a family tree for all the cats we've fed over the years. (Note: at the point that I'm ready to do DNA testing, please--intervene).

Our main colony is stable. These cats have been TNRed and co-exist well. Puck was not a welcome visitor at their lot, but that didn't keep him from meal time drop ins. And he is a rolling stone therefore he always finds the new girl in town. This past year he's fathered two litters with a beautiful grey mama who now lives under my apartment building (Manhattan's birth and rescue spot).

Three of the four in our stable, TNRed colony during the cold winter months. The photo isn't great because they typically run when I take out my iPhone. 

Natalie has been trying since late spring to trap the grey mama so we can have her vetted and spayed. She is thin and weary, and Natalie has rescued and placed every kitten we could find. This in and of itself would have been great footage for our reality show. Puck appeared at my building for the KFC [or similar local brand] chicken purchased to entice the babies into the traps. I called Nat's stake-out zone his personal drive through window--he just came for the food but eluded the trap oh, so carefully.

Often in our rescue discussions, we agree that it's a toss of the dice. The cat who walks into the trap is the one that goes for the vet care and spay/neuter. 

Puck, day one of capture--prior to his vet visit.

Natalie had purchased a drop trap and spent a few days outlining her strategy. The plan was clear as mud: whether it be grey mama (we call her Stella now) or Puck, at least we would halt the breeding temporarily. Puck had been looking run down and so of course I was hoping we would be able to get him soon. And like that, into the new contraption he walked! Hooray Puck! 

He has been to the vet and tested negative for FIV and Fe-Leuk. He had an upper respiratory infection which has been cleared up so he no longer looks haggard. Uses the litter box like a perfect gentleman, and has been eating the healthy food options offered to him. He's been introduced into Natalie's homestead--which really was more like he was reunited with old street friends. Every one of Natalie's brood comes from the PAD! 

Our hope is to find Puck a furrever home. He's tested healthy, getting along with other kitties (unclear about his status with dogs or kids), and working slowly toward allowing humans closer and closer. A sweet, non aggressive boy who with the company of his former street pals is learning about soft beds and warm cozy nights. About play and a clean litter box. And constant love. I do believe he had some notion of love from us as he dutifully waited for his food each night. And would let us talk to him while preparing food bowls for the main colony of 4, or dropping by my apartment building while Nat trapped two litters of kittens and attempted to get Stella with the smelly chicken.

Please place my order at my usual rock, thank you.

Anyone interested in Puck should contact me directly at
We will work toward the rescue and rehoming of our feral colony and Stella, on the brink of losing their outdoor homes to the endless building here in the PAD.

This is Z-Girl, over and out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two Tuxedo Toosday pushes into Wordless Wednesday

Valentina: Hey everyone, Vali here!
Manhattan: I'm here too, don't forget, Vali. It IS Two Tuxedo Toosday.
Valentina: The day is almost over, Manhattan.
Manhattan: But the post is called Two Tuxedo. That's you and me.


Valentina: It's great to be back. I have news. I had to go to the vet on Saturday, and there was talk that I might have pancreatitis. I'm happy to tell you that Dr. Holly texted Z-Girl today to say there is NO pancreatitis. Thankfully. It sounds like it would require medication or visits to the vet's office and I don't want either. The vomiting that I was experienced stopped after I had some anti nausea medication and a little bit of fluid. 

Manhattan: That's a relief. 

Valentina: Z-Girl has some news about one of the PAD Paws kitties. His name is Puck, and I think she will write about him tomorrow. I will give you the headline: Aunt Natalie rescued him. 

Manhattan: Do you know if she used sardines? That's how she got me to go near the trap. I was really hungry but I didn't want to go in the cage. So she put the sardines on a piece of cardboard near the opening of the trap. I went to eat those and somehow with her foot Aunt Nat pushed me and the cage over so I fell in and the door slammed shut. Busted!

Valentina: You were pretty bad off, M. I think it was KFC that snagged Puck....we'll have to ask Z-Girl to explain more....

Manhattan: Okay. In the meantime, I'm going to hang out on my new shelves. They are really nifty.
Valentina: This is Vali, over and out! 

Hey, wait...who is the OTHER cat? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

We're Back!

Hi everyone, Coco Chanel coming at you on a Monday.

Where oh where have we been?

Z-Girl was on a big project this year, one that was very important and she worked a lot of hours with people all around the world. Some nights, she would talk to people in Japan until midnight and other mornings be on the phone again with people in Italy at 7A. We loved having her here throughout many work days, and even grew accustomed to the hours of conference calls. But the demanding schedule meant that her normal social contacts, events and things to do were put on hold. That included the blog.

Then the holidays came around and she went to visit her parents and our Aunt Julie (her sister). Back to JC for a week and off again to Mexico. I'd like to add that none of this travel was authorized by me in advance. I protested by sitting in her suitcase both times but it didn't work.

Now she says she is getting caught up on life. Here is what I've seen:

Friday, there were a group of people here. They had the couch pulled out and lots of fabric draped over it. Two women cut the fabric and pinned it, then left. Z-Girl explained a new slipcover will arrive in a few weeks. That's great, because I think I've sufficiently shredded the existing structure. I need a new, clean surface. Z-Girl says her decorating style is Shabby Chic, after all.

The green couch will get a beautiful new slipcover, and I can't wait to get my paws on it.

Then, there was a lot of activity on the cat wall and with the cat pole. The shelves on the wall around Z-Girl's closet were rearranged. And the cat pole in front of the living room window was removed entirely. Z-Girl said that the new shelf arrangement is to help Manhattan have better step ups and downs, and also to encourage Bessie and Lulu to climb. The pole was removed because in our space there was no way to make it sturdy enough. It was just too wobbly. Lots of options were discussed but in the end, it was donated to a kitty who will LOVE it. So that's nice. Mr. Ian will come back to finish patching the holes in the wall and putting up a step near the fancy white shelves to help us access them easily. Well, not us because I will not climb. I'm a ground dweller. Valentina hasn't made up her mind yet--she seems very curious about everything.

The new shelf arrangement provides a little more space for jumping and helps us feel confident that we can fit on the smaller steps.

Finally, some adjustment on chairs and discussions about future cat wall shelving, new sheers for the windows, pillows for the couch, and other furniture. When Z-Girl and Miss Andrea get together there is much planning and activity.

Z-Girl is looking for her next contract assignment and preparing her training program for a half marathon. Let's hope she gets to that soon. If not, it's going to be a long 13.1 miles on April 19 for the MORE Half Marathon in Central Park.

I'm happy to be back. Z-Girl said this year, no promises on how much and when we will blog. Instead, we will let it flow naturally.

Here is Manhattan, checking out the holes in the wall and testing the new shelf placement. She likes it...

One final note: in the middle of the night when she thought no one was watching, Lulu climbed on one of the lower the left of the closet and not shown in these photos. She sat for a minute, maybe a little more and climbed back under the big blanket on Z-Girl's bed. 

That's what I've got for you. I'll be sure to report on progress--especially this running stuff. I've seen Z-Girl train for and run multiple races, so she can do it...just WILL she...

Coco, Over and Out.