Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

Howdy, y'all! I am back from XMas vacation in Colorado. It was a supreme delight visiting with relatives. I'm still spinning a bit from excess sugar consumption and the yummy goodness of decent Mexican food.

I also had to cram in some kiddo visits at work on Friday and setting up everything for a new set of kiddos on my caseload. It was also fun to chew the fat with my coworkers about their break and discuss Holiday cheer. I received multiple stockings filled with various cavity-inducing, high-caloric units (i.e. candy). They stood ready and waiting on my desk Friday morning.

I received some info from my boss regarding the kitty of the previous post and how to proceed. She said she believed the kitty probably belonged to someone and was a barn cat that had taken to me. Since the cat didn't look like it was hungry, and it had a collar with a bell on it, it probably belonged to someone. However, I will still be on the lookout for kitty this winter. If it looks longingly at me to provide some shelter, I received some helpful info from an anonymous commenter on a no-kill shelter in the area.

The commenter's comments were--well--colorful, the information was appreciated. (But not enough to actually publish them. Thank you, Blogger for comment moderation.) This leads me to a second point. It's rather interesting, I've been blogging for almost a year, and I sometimes write about work. I have yet to receive a comment about someone out there being outraged about human children being abused, neglected, you name it, on a daily basis. Granted, I don't write specifically about my kiddos. (I am not going to write anecdotes from work to spice up my blog. Other than violating the confidentiality taboo, I don't want to use my kiddos' life stories as ways to make the online community boo-hoo and whatnot.) But I sometimes discuss my frustrations with helping kids in the system. Do you know how many irate comments I've received about what kind of bitch I am for pulling kiddos out of foster homes and making teens take drug tests? Not one.

I write a post discussing an encounter with a cat, and I am the devil. I had to moderate a few comments off my blog, mentioning I should be very ashamed of myself for not subjecting Hun to allergic shock for bringing a cuddly car-riding cat home and an outright hostile "Merry Christmas, Bitch" when I didn't bring the cat to a no-kill shelter at 8:00 at night. (Well, I didn't mention that in my last post, I guess.)

This was a bit eye-opening to me as our value for humanity as a society. It kind of reminds me of Michael Moore receiving a lot of flack about including footage of an impoverished woman killing and skinning a rabbit for meat in Roger & Me. Moore mentioned he never received any comments about the footage of a kid getting shot while playing in the street in the next scene. Both scenes are acts of violence. Granted, I was horrified when I saw the rabbit got skinned. But other animals get slaughtered for our tables every day. Why was it that no one was concerned about the kid getting shot?

I'm sorry, kitty lovers, but I'm a bigger fan of people.

The story did tug at the heart strings a bit. The encounter definitely provided a great deal of internal conflict for me. I love animals. But one thing doesn't keep me awake at night: the kids on my caseload go to bed at night with a full stomach in a nurturing home. There is more money donated to PETA and other humane societies then there are to children's charities. You could argue that people can communicate for help and animals can't. Well, I would also argue that most kids can't either--they don't know how, or they don't know of other ways of living other than the chaotic environment they may face day in and day out.

So, kitty lovers out there, call me a bitch. That's what keeps my kiddos safe in a system that give more of a shit about paperwork than people. As far as the car-riding kitty, I'm still keeping an eye out there for him. And thanks for the heads up for the no-kill shelter Anonymous, even though you thought I did the wrong thing.

Everyone out there, have an awesome new year. I plan on working on being a bit more kinder to my neighbors, and to myself. Hugs and kisses to you all. As much as I rant, I am super lucky to have great family, loyal friends, strong women, and most of all Hun in my life.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Anyone want a cute, cuddly kitty?

Most of my friends know how anti-glurge I am. You know those massive e-mails folks send out, discussing how a seemingly insignificant act of kindness saved some one's life. (I'm sure most of you got the one about the kid who picked up some books a nerdy student dropped. He walks the nerd home and they become friends. When the kids graduate high school, the nerd thanks the kid for picking up his books because the nerd planned to off himself that day and the kid helped him appreciate the joy of living. Whatever. It is an incredibly fake story. It didn't happen. But I digress.) I'm about to spread some glurge of my own.

I completed a visit tonight with one of my foster families, and I was outside, chatting with the foster parent. I spied a cat--quite a frequent visitor at this home--sitting just outside the door, cuddled by the house to absorb the heat.

The parent commented about how a neighborhood cat wouldn't leave the property since I made the mistake of petting it this fall. The foster parent then talked about how she believed it was a neighbor's cat, but the cat seemed to go through the trash and didn't really leave the property. She said she wondered if the owners abandoned the kitty, or if they were just negligent.

During the foster parent's monologue, I was scratching the kitty behind the ears, between the eyes, at the base of its tail. The cat responded in kind and purred and kneaded the fence he was laying on. The cat looked at me longingly. I picked it up, and the cat cuddled under my coat, purring even louder and rubbing its forehead under my chin.

"How sad," I sighed, "no one loves this kitty."

"Oh, I think someone does," the foster parent corrected and lifted her eyebrows.

"Hun would kill me." The cat snuggled closer and the purr grew louder. I am so dead.

I walked to my car, rationalizing that it would be only for a night or two. I could plaster the pic of the adorable creature and someone would snag it in a moment. Who cares if Hun is deathly allergic and I would have to take him in to the emergency room tonight because he stops breathing.

. . . That is, if I survived the car trip home. (Cats are notoriously bad for having major nervous freakdowns when confronted with a car ride. Most cat "owners" transport their feline companions in kennels if they need to take them anywhere.) I carried the cat to the car, and opened the door. I sat down with the cat in my lap and the door still open, to give the creature a chance to escape if it would be too much. The kitty stretched off my lap and explored the back seat. I turn the ignition. The cat looks at me, asking me with its eyes what the hell am I waiting for. I shrug my shoulders and assume it is fate. I close the door and head down the road.

The cat sits down and gets comfortable in the back seat. Doesn't make a sound, doesn't try to claw out my eyes. It just sits there, enjoying the ride. I can't believe it.

I drive along the road, and the cat pads over and takes its throne on the front passenger seat and snuggles next to my bag. I realize Hun and I are traveling on Saturday and won't be home for over a week. Who will take care of kitty, when the furry creature is moved to unfamiliar surroundings? We don't have any friends who can feed and love it while we're in Colorado for Decemberween. I scratch behind its ears as I ponder the moral dilemma.

Do I take a creature and bring it to a place it's unfamiliar to--knowing full well that I couldn't permanently keep it? A shelter wouldn't be open now. My boss might have a better idea of who could take the cat in. The cat didn't look like it was starving, and it seemed to be savvy enough to keep warm. It would be wrong to take it to our house with no one to care for it over the week. I really wanted it, though.


I turned the car around and drove it back to its trolling grounds. I stopped the car and opened the door. The cat looked at me again, asking me what the hell I was doing. I paused, wondering if there were any loopholes I missed in this dilemma. Unable to think of any, I picked up the cat and brought it outside. The cat leisurely scampered away into the night.

If anyone knows of a good cat-loving home in the Albany area or the Upper Hudson Valley, I would greatly appreciate it. I know of a good cat that enjoys random car rides with strangers. (I would also love to know the names and numbers of any area shelters--but I can google that.) I'm sure I will see the creature again. I will be making a plan in my head in case I face the same moral dilemma.

If you are the owner of a car-loving cat in the Upper Hudson Valley, then shame on you for keeping it out in the cold! I almost catnapped you pet! What if I were someone with malicious intent, hmmm?!

I feel guilty and heartbroken for leaving that kitty. I feel like Scrooge by doing nothing. But next time . . . well, I don't know what I'll do yet. I just need to figure that one out. Would it be better to leave the cat there, or to take it to a shelter or give it to someone else?

Monday, December 17, 2007

All things being equal, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

We returned with all our limbs from our weekend getaway to Phili. Hun and I geeked out on touring Independence Hall and the Mutter Museum.

I halfway (well, maybe) clobbered a 12-year-old for stealing the perfect picture of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. (Is that where the name came from? Duh!) I had the perfect shot, and I even kneeled down really low, so as not to obstruct anyone behind me, when this little girl popped right in front of me and took like twelve minutes to take her picture. But no bother, a little assertiveness and a forceful--but calm--"excuse me" went a long way. Hun had to hold me back a bit with my paparazzi aggressiveness (for which I am now thankful) and told me everyone would take turns. Suffice to say, I got the perfect shot. HAHAHA!!!

We hit the Mutter Museum of medical curiosities when the doors opened the next day. (We decided to cut our trip short due to the oncoming storm blanketing New York and New England.) Hun pulled me aside during certain exhibits, such as the elephantine colon (Hun calls it congenital megacolon or Hirshprung's Disease), to provide more colorful context to the yuckiness of human pathology. It was wicked cool.

We also toured around different sections of town, like the Old City, Washington Square, etc. I really enjoyed it. Philadelphia really reminds me of a European city. It's very walkable. Many of the streets are narrow. The architectural styles are a hodgepodge of Dutch Colonial, Brownstone walk-ups, and even Georgian.

We also found a killer used furniture store. They had stuff from Moderne to Art Deco to Arts and Crafts (yes, you heard me) for amazingly amazing prices. You could get a waterfall-top high boy for $30, give it a nice sanding and a coat of varnish and it's an heirloom. We even saw a mahogany sideboard for $250. (In Denver and Hudson, you couldn't find it for less than a thousand.)

Hun went back to class today, and I dug out my car (for two hours) and did a few work things from home. I will have no excuse of being negligent in shoveling our my car, so I will be heading into work in the morning.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Snow Cometh

The snow is finally here! I did travel in it a bit today, and it was a bit skittish getting back home, but navigable. I have a compliment for NY State drivers finally: they do pretty well in the snow. The give you plenty of space, and they know when to speed up and when to slow down and when to get out of the way. That's pretty much the New York attitude in a crisis.

As for other driving traits when the weather is clear. . . well . . . I'm sure there are some good points I haven't noticed.

Hun and I plan to skid out of town on Saturday by train to Philadelphia to see all the historic sites. Wish us luck if we make it! No unique or interesting stories just yet. Will update with more later. Any good ideas?


Monday, December 10, 2007

Return of the Son of Wintry Mix

Woke up this morning with about an 1/8th of an inch of ice glommed onto all outdoor surface areas. The main surface areas I was concerned about today were (1) my car and (2) the road. I had a packed day of a morning meeting with some bioparents and an out-of-state transport in the afternoon.

I slipped and slid, grabbing onto any less-slick objects to steady my balance as I heated my car and hacked off the ice from my windshield. I periodically checked the school closings, basically concluding that Upstate New York was closed due to the delightful weather outside, to warm up and to debate whether or not I should even attempt to leave the house. I thought about the 4-hour trek back and forth this afternoon. I (thankfully) was able to reschedule the appointment for later in the week.

I continued to hack away at the ice on my car, while some drizzly substance iced over onto my coat and hat, and liberally applied sidewalk salt to pave the way from our front door to my war-weary car. (Norma Jean has seen better days. As my mother would say, she looks road hard and put up wet.)

I call the social-service office once it opens to find out if my partners in crime plan on rescheduling the meeting. It's definitively decided that all are grounded, and folks should not risk coming in.

I am currently drinking a mug of joe and enjoying the free time available. Perhaps I will watch Die Hard, or some other Christmas movie while wrapping presents for Hun. Perhaps I will cyberstalk my friends, family, (and some strangers) as well. Bwahahahah!

Although this all sound comforting, I wish I could have gotten my appointments out of the way--but not enough to brave the icy shit splattered outside. The weather forecasts more icy shit this afternoon and evening, tapering off and clearing out for "ball sucking" cold tomorrow morning.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

All I Want for XMas:

Dear Santa,

I think I've been a very good girl this year. I only received one speeding ticket this year, and I have paid it off. (Not only that, but I was FRAMED, I tell ya!) I have made lots of apple crisp this year and bought countless of McDonald's Happy Meals to help increase cholesterol levels for displaced foster children in the Hudson Valley. I have a few things to ask for this year, Santa. The list is as follows:

(1) World Peace. This is always a good way to start off a Christmas list. It helps the list maker not appear as selfish as she really is. I also am quite fond of the idea of all the children of the world receiving proper nutrition and clean drinking water. That goes without saying.

(2) Jack Bauer's Fists of Determination. With a menacing glare and a raise of the pinkie finger, the world would bend to my will. This would decidedly help with my XMas wish #1, although 24's Jack Bauer is decidedly not a very peaceful person. This would also help me brave any bureaucratic red tape at work, as well as managing New York driving in general.

(3) A new car. I would dearly love a new car. However, I would not dearly love a new payment. Hence, I will need to have one of my loving friends or rich strangers to give one to me. An Audi TT would work nicely for transporting toddlers back and forth to medical appointments and I am certain the gas mileage is wonderful . . .

(4) The sour chocolate milk smell emanating from my backseat in my current car to disappear. If I have not been good enough this year to deserve an Audi TT, a super-heavy bottle of ultra Fabreeze will do. I suppose I will make do with my 10-year-old Saturn with crapped-out shocks if I need to . . . but I would be disappointed.

(5) My pirated video system to actually work. Although I can import media, such as music and pictures onto my non-linear editing system, I have issues capturing footage onto my system to edit. I tried to upgrade my system with some free downloads. Now the program won't even open up, saying there is now a systems error. So much for youtube superstardom for right now.

(6) A cease and desist order for "wintry mix" weather in Upstate New York. I friggin' hate the icy shit that falls from the sky. Upstaters are in some serious denial that "wintry mix" constitutes a "Winter Wonderland". There is nothing wonderful about it. It does prove, however, that Hell--indeed--does freeze over.

(7) Time with friends and family. I am very excited about heading back to Colorado for Christmas and seeing my friends and family. I really miss them. My coworkers are good company--they don't compare to my dear friends back in Colorado. As Dorthy said (or was it Nietze?), "There's no place like home."

(8) An indoor swimming pool. Although, I think our landlord might be upset. (Dog would be in snake heaven.) I guess I need to settle for finding an indoor swimming pool after Christmas. (See future blog entry regarding a list of New Year's resolutions.)

(9) Sunlight. We don't get much sunlight here. It is mostly gray and threatening icy shit. It usually--like typical New Yorkers--doesn't carry out the promise. It does cast an atmosphere of gloom and general malaise. I used to look forward to cloudy days in Colorado because it meant a change in weather, and some much-needed moisture. Here, the cloudy weather just sucks one's soul dry. No wonder Upstaters are cranky. At least NYC has Times Square.

(10) The perfect job. I would like a job closer to where I live, so I don't have to commute over two hours a day. I would also like a balance of using my brains to solve problems, some multi-tasking so I don't get bored, and nice people who don't yell at me about things I cannot control. Any ideas are greatly appreciated. (Again, see future New Year's resolutions blog.)

This is all I ask for Santa. It's not too much. Give me a Holla when you roll down our chimney!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

I am very ashamed . . .

. . . I forgot everyone's birthday this year. I royally suck as a friend and as a daughter. (Yes, this is true, I forgot the birthdays of BOTH MY PARENTS.) I also forgot my best friend's birthday on December 4. I have been remiss in keeping my phone charged as well.

I am such an asshole.

I wish I could even make an excuse that work has been crazy. But it always is crazy. There's no difference between past an present. Between crazy foster parents, crazy bio parents, crazy coworkers, it's all a big blob.

I suppose I can blame seasonal effective disorder--isn't that the one when you get more out of it when you are exposed to less light in the winter? We have very little light when it is technically considered "daytime", much less the stark blackness they call night in Upstate New York.

To any good friends and family out there, I've been trying to call--and bordering on stalking behavior--because I realize I've been a bit insensitive lately. Blame the bland uhgness that is my life.

I am really interested in how the kitchen is being remodeled, any baby firsts that I am missing, as well as buns currently in the oven . . . much more so than the problems Upstaters have no compunction but to unload on anyone in hopes of gaining some free ride or another . . . I have become more local, and I haven't realized it.

Someone shoot me now. But please call back so I know we are on speaking terms . . .


Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Situation

Hey, folks, here is a youtube clip of The Slingerland Situation. I know I've been talking about it for some time. This clip pretty much tells it all. The show's content is a bunch of ladies in black, transporting kiwis around Albany.