Saturday, April 28, 2012

A sad tale of ducky love

At one of the houses near my mom's land, there is a pond. Back in early 2010, before I left for Korea, the owner of the pond put two young white ducks, a male and a female, in his pond. They were young, and they grew up together, and they always swam as a pair. Mid-March of this year, a wild male mallard decided that he wanted to live in the pond. (We asked the owners - he showed up all on his own.) Initially, he could be spotted swimming after the two white ducks, as they did their best to avoid the interloper. Then something happened: the girl duck ditched her long-term male companion for the sexy, green-headed mallard. For several weeks girl white duck and mallard swam together, while white male duck moped off by himself. Then last week male white duck disappeared. Did he die of a broken heart? Did he leave to find a new pond with friendlier female waterfowl? No one knows.




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kittens in a 1906 Bungalow

Now that I've somewhat gotten over the shock of having a mama cat and 5 babies dumped at our gate, it's time to take that next logical step: posting tons of supercute kitten photos. And these little rascals are cute. Somehow only three of the five appear in my favorite 5 photos - although that's just an excuse for me to keep taking photos until I get supercute shots of all of them. Enjoy!

This gorgeous little baby (I think she's a girl) made it into 3 of my favs.
(FYI - that funkiness on the floor is from where the carpet was pulled up.)


Exploring the fireplace.

Meanwhile this one (I think she's a girl, too) totally posed for the camera.

I'm pretty sure this fellow's a boy. He loves to climb into things (like my purse) and up things (like my back). I just hope he doesn't discover the hole where the chimney used to be, or he'll have access to the attic - and from there, the entire house.

And for those who are interested in the 1906 bungalow in which these critters now live, here's a guided tour!

Monday, April 16, 2012

O-town housing stress

I submitted a rental application on a Tuesday afternoon in Orlando. I was called Wednesday afternoon, after I’d arrived in Tampa, and was told that I had been approved for an apartment, and that I would need to submit my holding deposit if I wanted to secure the specific apartment I was interested in. I overnighted my deposit, and assumed that everything was good to go. Except that now they seem to have forgotten that they approved me and are demanding every possible document under the sun from both me and my mother (she’s my co-signer, required as my graduate assistantship salary apparently isn’t enough to get me approved to rent). Additionally, the apartment manager, while quite friendly, seems to have a very low IQ and to be thoroughly incompetent. As a result, despite the fact that I was told I had been approved for the lease of a specific apartment, for which I sent in a holding deposit to secure, it now seems that I have neither been approved for nor secured said apartment. Glad I hadn’t rushed out to buy the hammock that I planned to put on the patio I thought I was going to have.

I had really wanted to get everything taken care of regarding my living situation early so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it at the last minute before starting grad school. I had been so relieved that my rental search was over, and now it seems that it isn’t at all. I’m trying not to stress about it, but I just can’t help myself.

My current options:

* Call and sweet-talk the nice apartment that I blew off because of its absurd pet fee ($1000 – seriously? For an unfurnished el-cheapo apartment?) and see if there’s any hope of getting in there.

* Wait to see if any of the apartment complexes where I got on a waiting list call me.

* Get an apartment with a friend who might only end up being in Orlando for four months. Let him deal with the leasing issues.

* Rent the house belonging to my friends M&A (who now live in California), and get a roommate, as the rent is too much for me to afford alone. (I might possibly live there with the friend who might only be in Orlando for 4 months, but if he left after four months, I’d still need to find a roommate.)

* Buy a “distressed property” in the O-town ghetto for under $10k and hope no one kills me while I’m living there. (I am actually serious, although getting in touch with realtors for these properties is turning out to be a whole different problem…) 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

sick cats and abandoned kittens

I tend to consider myself an expert in terms of illnesses that can affect cats. We have cats with FIV (kitty AIDS) and FeLV (feline leukemia). However, when the vet said what sounded like khaleesi virus, that one was a new one for me. It really did sound like he’d said khaleesi, as in the title of Daenerys after she marries into the Dothraki (Game of Thrones reference there, for those of you who were wondering). Turns out he was talking about the feline calicivirus, and it can cause symptoms ranging from a mild to severe upper respiratory infection to death. [see wikipedia for more information]

As of last Monday, all of the cats at mom’s house were healthy. Tuesday, 12 year old Tuffy began sneezing and wheezing. But, as she’s elderly and tends to get colds fairly easily, we kept an eye on her, but for the most part thought little of it. By the next day, Tuffy was showing improvement; however, a good half of the cats at my mom’s house were sniffling. By Friday, nearly all of them were very sick. They were diagnosed with the fast spreading feline calicivirus. Most were put on amoxycilin. The two sickest were given shots of metacam as well.  

As of right now, most of the kitties have been stabilized or are on the mend. Unfortunately, Grey Kitty and Abs are still very, very sick, and might not make it. (For those concerned about Charlie, no worries - she's at my house, and has not been exposed.) The vet mentioned that kittens would be the most susceptible to this virus. We reassured him that we didn't have any little ones, and were not planning on taking any in.

Out at the land, all our cats are healthy... except that they are carriers of FIV - the kitty AIDS virus. Like the feline calicivirus, FIV can hit kittens very, very hard. While adult cats (like ours) can often be exposed and live long, healthy lives, chances of exposed kittens surviving are very low.

Saturday afternoon, we left the land at 6pm. We got out there at 10am this morning, and discovered that someone had left us two half-eaten bags of cat food, a half-used box of kitty litter, and a container of pet milk/formula mix. Oh, and a mama cat and five kittens. 

Hey, cool, somebody left us catfood!

DAMMIT. They also left us 6 cats.

Where to put them was our immediate concern. Mom's house was out of the question due to the calicivirus. My house - while technically owned jointly by me and F was paid for by F, and F says no more than 2 animals (Mochi and Charlie). The old house, which we moved out to the land back in August, is still in an uninhabitable state. 

Hoping the kittens hadn't been exposed to anything in the brief time they were outside, we quickly shut them in the bedroom of the Spartan trailer to prevent them from having any interaction with the other land cats.  However, as the Spartan's "bedroom" is tiny and poorly ventilated (and it's hot out there!), we knew they would soon have to be relocated somewhere cooler.

On the bed in the Spartan

On the bed in the Spartan

As such, we set about  buying kitten products and readying the "master bedroom" of the old house out at the land (as it's the only room with functioning doors) for kitties. They were relieved to get out of the sweltering Spartan late this afternoon, and seemed to have a good time exploring the nooks and crannies of the bedroom. They are all incredibly friendly, and the kittens have obviously been around humans since birth.

This was the before-kittens shot. And this is the most habitable room in the house.

The family in the closed-off former fireplace.


ABANDONING animals ANYWHERE (vet clinic, animal shelter, cat rescue, side of the road, dumpster, etc) is ILLEGAL. I've heard all sorts of lame ass reasons why people feel they absolutely must just get rid of their animals right then and there:

"I don't have enough time for them."
"I can't afford them."
"My boyfriend has allergies."
"I was ok with the cat, but I can't afford kittens."
"I can't get rid of the fleas."
"I'm pregnant."
"They damaged my wooden floor, new furniture, etc."
"My new apartment doesn't allow them."
"The kids don't play with them any more."

Taking on a pet is a lifetime commitment. If, for whatever reason, you are unable or unwilling to keep your pet, it is your responsibility to find a person or organization that is willing to accept responsibility for your pet. Most animal shelters and pet rescues require an animal surrender fee before they will accept your pet. This is because they are struggling to pay for all of the animals that are under their care. Also, all of these places have limits as to how many animals they can have at one time. Depending on space, staff, budgets, and health of the animals on the premises, animal rescue organizations are limited as to the number of animals they can handle. If the facility is full, the staff over-burdened, the bank account empty, etc., the facility will be unable accept more animals. The same is true for private citizens who do animal rescue - especially if they have areas full of sick cats.

We will do our best to make sure that the mama cat and her five babies are cared for, and to ensure that they are not exposed to any potentially deadly feline viruses. Assuming they haven't already been exposed by the assholes who dumped them in our cats' territory.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Appling County Trip 2: Astonishingly Normal

During the last week of March, my mom and I took two trips to Appling County, GA. The first trip - which I wrote about here - was incredibly surreal, and at times we felt as though we'd stumbled into an episode of The Twilight Zone or the opening scenes of a cheesy horror flick. Since it literally took us until 4pm to discover the trail-heads for the Moody Forest, we decided to come back later in the week in order to go hiking.

If you want to go hiking in Moody Forest, drive north on US 1 from Baxley roughly 8 miles. Turn right on East River Road (dirt road). Drive until you see the sign for Tavia's Trail on your left. The other trail (River Trail) is a little harder to locate. Continue driving down East River Road past Tavia's Trail. Drive until you reach a fork in the road with a tree in the middle. Take the left fork. Drive a ways, then take the first road on your left. Drive a ways, and the River Trail will be on your right.

The hikes were pleasant - although the mosquitoes were out in force, and I have to say that I prefer trails that actually lead to something: a ruin, a waterfall, an astonishing view. Trails like these, that just meander through the wilderness, seem a tad pointless. Still, it was a beautiful day for hiking, and my mom and I did both Tavia's Trail and the River Trail. (Not sure we ever found the virgin longleaf pines though...)

Wild Azaleas





Scream tree???
And what's with that fuzzy patch of light on the lower right?


After hiking, we swung through the front gate of the Hatch Plant and snapped a pic.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A quick trip to Florida

Mochi I spent Monday through Friday this past week down in Florida. Viktor (the ginormous pit bull) stayed at my mom’s house, and mom popped over to my house regularly to feed Charlie.

The first part of my trip was to Orlando (the reason I was in need of a pet friendly Orlando hotel room). No, I wasn’t there to go to any of the amusement parks (yuck!) – instead, my trip was pure business. My first goal was to meet with my advisor (for grad school, starting in August), to discuss my program of study, my assistantship, what I’m looking to get out of the program, and what will be expected of me. That part of the trip went without a hitch.

The second part of my trip was really frustrating. My goal was to find an apartment that I could start renting some time this summer, so that I could be all settled in by the time classes began. I wanted to make sure well in advance that I’d secured a place to live – and while I was successful, it was a very frustrating process. Trust me, you don’t want to hear the details. The last time I rented an apartment in the US was back in 2004, and it was MUCH simpler. However, despite all the frustration, I did manage to secure a fairly large one bedroom apartment, which I will be able to take possession of in early June.

This is the floorplan of my new apartment.
My entire Seoul apartment could fit in the living room of this place.

While in Orlando, I did do a little exploring (mainly for the purposes of walking Mochi), who quite enjoyed walking around lakes and looking at wild birds, although he always seemed quite disappointed when they didn’t want to play with him.

Taking Mochi for a walk.


Immature Ibis

After two nights in Orlando, I headed over to Tampa to visit my father and his family. It was a pretty relaxing time, and we didn’t do much but visit… although poor Mochi had to stay out on the porch, which made him very unhappy. He even stopped eating :-( We did, however, go on some nice walks while in Tampa, discovering more birds and some beautiful flowers.

Mochi in his room on the porch.

Red passionflower?? I thought they only came in purple.

There are a bunch of ducklings at the lake near my dad's house.

My dad rescued an injured duckling last year... and as a result, he now has a pet duck.

Poor Charlie, meanwhile, was very stressed out to have been left behind. Granted, she would have absolutely HATED the trip, but she was apparently quite unhappy to be home alone. Mom said that whenever she arrived to feed her, Charlie would run to the door meowing when she arrived, only to run and hide in a panic as soon as she realized that it wasn’t me at the door.

Viktor, in contrast, had a pretty good time. I had taken him over to mom’s before I left. The idea was that he would stay in the 10x10 dog pen at her place while I was gone. Now, mom has eight other dogs, two of which are pit bulls (like Viktor). We had worried about what might happen, were we to let Viktor out in the yard with the others, and initially, mom hadn’t planned to do so…. But, she felt bad, seeing him cooped up in the pen, and let him out – and he got along great with everyone. Except Brin, but he's a house dog. It seems that Viktor will be staying at mom’s and enjoying the backyard doggy paradise.

Mochi, too, is thrilled to be home – and he and Charlie were incredibly excited to see one another. And last night I slept tightly sandwiched in between a loudly purring Charlie and a contentedly sound asleep Mochi :-)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Traveling with pets? FYI

I'm spending the week in Central Florida - two nights in Orlando (in a hotel) and two nights in Tampa (at my dad's). Viktor (the girnormous pit bull) is in the dog pen at my mom's house. My mom will be popping over to my house periodically to refill Charlie's food and water... and Mochi has come with me.

Before I left, I searched online for pet-friendly hotels. I was pleased to discover that offered a 'pet friendly hotel' search function and booking service, and was able (or so I thought) to book what I was assured was a pet friendly room at a hotel in the area of Orlando where I needed to be. Unfortunately, I got here and discovered that while they had a reservation for me, it was NOT for a pet friendly room. The desk clerk said that this has happened quite a few times with specifically, and recommended booking directly through the hotel, not via to ensure that I had indeed booked a pet friendly room. Luckily, the hotel did have one pet friendly room available (although it was a size larger, and I had to pay the difference). I also had to pay an extra $25/day pet fee that was not mentioned on

There's apparently some sort of convention in the area, and apparently all the hotels in north Orlando are slammed right now, so I was lucky to get a pet friendly room in the area. I have learned my lesson. While it's great that enables vacationers to see which hotels offer pet friendly rooms, I'd advise against booking via their service. You might find a cheaper rate on their website, but you'll be likely to arrive at your vacation destination to discover that there's no place for your pet.

Days Inn offers pet friendly rooms with tile floors and clean but pet-worn furniture.