Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween and a story about a real-life angel

This is Salem -- she's our newest foster kitty.  SHE IS SO AWESOME!  Very independent, brave, fuzzy, sassy, and she walks with such attitude.  Two of her siblings (Pugsley and Wednesday) are being fostered by an employee at the shelter.  Salem is MOSTLY fur.  She's going to need a good six weeks to come up to surgery weight, which means she'd make a great Christmas gift for someone...hint, hint.  Want to adopt her?  Let me know!  (Yes, we think she has some Persian in her.)

I'm participating in a community Halloween parade this evening, and will be dressed as a hipster witch. If the weather stays warm, I'm going to take Miss Salem with me, and we're going to throw candy to the kids.  Steve is out of town, but Harrison and Christiana are all enthused, because they love Halloween.  They're coming in costume, too, and I'm going to see if I can talk the shy and reserved Mr. Graham into coming with us as well.


Hey, do you believe in angels?  I DO!  Let me tell you kind of a cool story about something that happened to Harrison and me yesterday.

Earlier this year, we paid for my husband's grandmother's car to be transported to Hattiesburg.  She doesn't drive anymore, so the family decided Harrison could have her 20-year-old Ford Taurus, with only 35,000 or so "little old lady" miles on it.  Toots is a dear, and she was happy the car could stay in the family.

He had been driving my 13-year-old Ford Taurus with 135,000 "mom" miles.  We told Harrison's sweet girlfriend that we'd sell her the car, which needs some work, for a song.  The problem was, Harrison had lost the last key to the car a few months back, so yesterday, FINALLY, I called a locksmith to come and make us a new key.  The locksmith is a retired police officer who drove his cool van over to where the car was sitting...and had been sitting all this time.  He made a few keys while I waited in the parking lot (he had a neat little workshop in his van.)  And then he helped me jump the car, as it was dead.  Super-dead.  Like, couldn't-even-pop-the-trunk dead.

Now, as I mentioned, the car needs some work, and we figured the alternator was the first repair needed.  The alternator helps keep the battery charged, so Harrison was having to continually have someone help him jump-start the car.  The car was also nearly out of gas, so as soon as we had a key, and the car was started, we drove over to the closest gas station for some gas.  Harrison shut off the car, put some gas in, then went to re-start it and...nothing!  The silly thing was dead, dead, dead.  Again, again, again.

I went into the convenience store and told the clerks our car was dead and we'd need to run and get some jumper cables.  One woman scowled and said, "You can't just leave your car there blocking the pump!" The other one said, "I think I have jumper cables in my car!" (There are two kinds of people in this world....)  Miss Sunshine went and got us her jumper cables, and we said we'd be right back.

So, we get out to the car, I pull my Rogue around, and I say to Harrison: "Have you ever jump-started a car?" "I've seen it done," he says.  Okay, so, we have no idea what we're doing, and I pull out my iPhone and Google "how to jump start a car" to make sure we didn't blow up the entire block.

I start reading the directions out loud to Harrison, and I'm sure we look like a couple of morons out there trying to figure out which end is the plus-sy end, and which end is the minus-sy end.

Enter: our angel.

"Hi," says a kind-looking man in a stocking cap.  "I'm a such-and-such certified mechanic.  Can I help you?" (I have no idea what kind of certification he was talking about...I am an automotive idiot!)

I tell him, excited now, that we're trying to jump start the car.  He goes back and gets a battery tester from his truck, and as we chat about the condition of the car, he tells me that yes, it sounds like the alternator is dead.  "How about I replace it for you right now," he says.  "I've been sick with the flu all week, and I'm starting to get bored anyway.  Oh, don't worry, I'm not contagious anymore."

He calls the parts shop and has them hold a shiny new alternator for us at his discount.  We pushed the old Taurus to the side and left the mechanic, whose nickname is "ROADSIDE" of all things, to take out the old alternator.

I'll spare you all of this middle stuff, but let me tell you, that sweet man replaced our alternator IN THE PARKING LOT of the gas station IN FRONT OF CAMPUS for the cost of the alternator ($99.00 and tax) and $35.00 for installation.  AND, while we were gone getting the part, he "tightened up a few wires and checked out a few other things" to just kind of look the car over for other problems.

He tells me he works at one of the local dealerships, but he also owns his own little fix-it shop and does everything. ("We even do glass," he says.)  So I ask him about the tune-up Christiana is going to need on the Taurus.  "Oh," he says, "that's fifty bucks and then whatever supplies we need.  You can stand there and watch us fix it and see exactly what we put into it if you like."

So then, I tell him my husband needs something fixed on his 2005 Mustang, a job we had researched and knew would be about $700-$800 at the dealership.  "Oh, yeah," Roadside says, "Those Mustangs have that problem all the time.  That's kind of expensive, because you have to take off the dashboard."

"How much are we talking?" I ask.

"Whew, about $150.00 or so."

I tell him that he is our new mechanic, that he was exactly the angel we needed to run into yesterday.  He writes down his cell phone number for me, and makes sure to give me a receipt for his small fee. ("Don't worry, I report all of this on my taxes," he says.)  We parted ways with a smile and a handshake.

And I feel like I just won a lottery of sorts.  If he hadn't been at that gas station, if Harrison's car hadn't died, if I hadn't waited until YESTERDAY to finally get the whole key situation figured out...we never would have met this capable, experienced, honest and friendly mechanic.  Those guys are worth their weight in gold, don't you think?  He was still hoarse from the flu, but was as pleasant as if he was on vacation at the beach.  He could have ignored us trying to start Harrison's car, but he knew he could help, and so he did.


It's situations like this that I am reminded of Matthew 25, specifically:

"For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invited you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

We have a Christmas ornament that says simply: "Every man shall give as he is able."  I think there are a lot of ways for a person to show spirituality.  I am especially thankful when a person sees someone who needs help and then steps up to get the job done.  What a blessing to live in a world with people like dear Roadside.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Two new graduates

Two more of our dear kittens graduated last week...they went for surgery yesterday, and will soon be up for adoption over at PetSmart.  I thought I'd share pictures, since it's Friday, and don't we all need a good smile?

Twee came in the shelter one Saturday with two brothers and a sister.  The brothers were big enough to stay, but the sisters needed help...quickly...and I just happened to be standing there when they came in. Twee has a really unusual coat -- almost raccoon-like on her body.  She's very independent, but gentle, and I'm happy that we could help.

Above is Leia, Twee's sister.  I don't know what it is about her face, but to me, I always felt like when I looked at her, I was looking at a person.  She's very serene and has fur soft like a rabbit's.  She's a beauty, and she'll make someone a wonderful pet.

And while I was at The Salty Yarns last weekend, Harrison texted me from the shelter to ask if he could bring three more home.  They're very cute, he said.  Above is Carrie.  Um.  She's ridiculously-cute.  And wouldn't you know it, she has the personality to match.  Very bouncy, sweet, and she peeps all the time like a little bird.  Some friends are coming over tomorrow night for drinks, and they are looking for a new cat.  I texted them a picture of dear Carrie, and I think they may be going home with her.

Carrie has two siblings -- Ash and Marion.  Oh, and then Birdie, Grasshopper and Greyfell came home this week, too.  It's a never-ending rotation, but I will say that the kitten cottage right now is at about half-capacity, since things are slowing down.  Super Cat is doing well -- eating food and using the litter box like a big boy.  Han Solo and Chewbacca go for surgery next week.  We've had those two FOREVER.  Steve is so good to put up with my crazy need to help our feline friends.  I'll post more pictures soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Getting ready for Salty Yarn

No, I'm not going to knit sea water-soaked scarves, I'm heading to the Salty Yarns retreat in Ocean City, Maryland, this weekend to teach a class to 54 stitchers.  I'm excited to see a new part of the country and get some more quality time with stitchers.  

It's always difficult to come up with a class idea that isn't just the same old thing...I find a lot of these stitchers at retreats have been to a lot of them.  The class I'm teaching is "Passport Pincushion," which is more of a technique class than a specific design.  Students will get to make the pincushion base, then use scraps of lace, paper, needlework, specialty stitches and pieces of quilting fabric to make the pincushion truly unique.  This was fun to do, and I'm hoping everyone has fun thinking outside the box.

Also, we have had some graduations at our house recently, so I wanted to share a few pictures with you.

The above photo was taken by one of our animal photographer/volunteers at the shelter.  They do a wonderful job capturing the personality of our shelter animals.  This is Chewbacca.  We've had him since he was little bitty, and he is going for surgery soon, so he can go to PetSmart.  It seemed like it took forever for him to grow, and his brother (below) was no better.  They're both sweet dudes, and I will miss him.

Han Solo is still at our house.  HE LOVES ME.  LIKE CRAZY.  He's a really affectionate little guy, and I'm hoping he will go to a house with a woman for him to love on.  I took him back to the shelter with Chewbacca, but Han INSTANTLY became sick with a runny eye.  And of course, I got him home, and it cleared up.  I think he was faking it.  So, I'm keeping him, will schedule his surgery, and take him myself.  It's just too stressful for him to be away from his mom, I guess.

We did not name Ding Bat.  We called him "D.B.," because we felt it was much kinder.  He was a more difficult kitten to get close to...very independent, and he really didn't like me, because he had conjunctivitis and HATED taking his medication.  He really associated me with the unpleasantness of eye drops, but I was happy to take care of him.  He is also on the surgery schedule for this week.  He's going to be huge, and I hope he finds great happiness.  D.B.'s sister, Zephyr, went back, too, and I have posted pictures of her before.  Another striped sweetie.

London was a boomerang kitten.  We took her and her brothers in during the Olympics (they were Oslo and Dublin, long since adopted.)  London was a little sickly, got better, went to the shelter, was there for a few weeks with no luck, got sick again, and came back home with us.  She is much better now, and I'm getting her on the schedule, too.  She's really a nice little lady -- very affectionate and good with other cats.  She was tempestuous when she was smaller, but she mellowed, and is now quite gentle.  I know when I take her to PetSmart, she'll be adopted quickly.  She's really beautiful.

Lyra wasn't with us very long -- she was just a little bit too small to be at at the shelter.  She needed time to grow.  My kids moaned about having to give her up.  Oh boy, is she sweet.  Very gentle, loving, quiet and calm.  And look at that coat.  She's a gorgeous little lady, and I have no doubt she'll be snapped up quickly.

Swizzle was a kitten with a sad story -- she was found covered in fire ants.  Have you ever been bitten by a fire ant?  It's awful.  The bites are very painful, turn into tiny blisters, and burn and itch for a long time.  You can see all of the bites on her nose, but there are also bites on her ears, her head, her back, her tail, and sadly, about a DOZEN on the BOTTOM of each tiny foot.  One of the employees at the shelter saved her from euthanasia, but couldn't care for her immediately.  She needed me to keep her for about ten days.  So, I got some burn cream and pain killer from my veterinarian, and helped her through that tough first few days.  The bites are healing, but she still has a ways to go.  Jennifer was glad to get her back, and will take good care of Swizzle until she's big enough (and well enough) for surgery.

So, our numbers at home are waning.  I've got Leia and Twee, Han Solo and...

Super Cat.  He's doing well this week, especially after visiting the vet.  He had some tummy troubles and has been teething, so he and I both had a fussy weekend (I was sick with a virus).  He's on probiotics now, and he's already feeling much better.  He'll grow quickly, but we'll have him for probably two more months.  He weighs seven ounces now, but he's growing a little every day.

I'll be out of the office Thursday-Monday for the retreat.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

To the rescue!

This is my newest ward...Super Cat.  I ran to the shelter Saturday to transport some cats to PetSmart, and while I was there, a woman hurried up with a blanket clutched to her chest.  I have learned from experience that there's usually an animal in there.  I asked her to let me see, and she explained (half out of breath) that she had gone out to her yard and found a 'possum eating a litter of week old kittens in her shrubs.  EEK!

Unfortunately, Super Cat was the only one she could save.  But he was in good condition, and she wanted help.  She didn't know what to do.  I scooped him up, and he's been my little buddy since Saturday, coming with me to sleep at the shop between bottle feedings.  He's about ten days to two weeks old or so, smart, strong, and happy.  Those are my hands in the picture, so you can kind of get a feel for how big he is...you can see his back legs coming off the back of my hand.

I'll post more kitten pictures soon -- I have a bunch of good ones in the camera, but am trouble shooting some computer issues today.  Thought I'd do a quick update, so you could see this cutie.

Also, will be sending the newsletter out tomorrow.  I'm working on site updates today, finally, and there are some changes in store.....don't worry.  Not bad ones.  Have a wonderful afternoon!