Sunday, June 27, 2010

This Place Is Doing Good Work

About a year ago, I found out about UCAN, which stands for United Coalition for Animals. It's located just across the river from me, in Cincinnati. This is where my next-door neighbor and I have taken all the feral cats we have trapped. There is a ravine behind our houses that has a sort of rock cave and lots of greenery, and there is a cat colony living there. So far we have trapped six cats and had them spayed (they have all turned out to be females). My neighbor adopted one and my husband and I adopted one. The rest were released back outside, and we feed them and provide shelter for them in the winter. There are still about six more that need to be trapped. We are working on that.

This is a non-profit clinic, and the only one in this area as far as I know. I found out about it when I called the local shelter, and they referred me to a woman who works with a local group called Friends of Animals. In addition to spay and neuter, they also provide vaccinations at low cost and physical exams for $5.00. The fee to spay or neuter a cat is $35.00. If the cat is a feral cat, they have a grant from PetSmart that pays $20.00 of the fee, so you end up paying only $15.00. By law, the cat must also have a rabies shot, for which you pay a small amount.

Yesterday, I went there with my next-door neighbors. They were taking their two cats (one adopted from the back yard) for physical exams. Every other Saturday there is a free clinic for exams and vaccinations. The service is first-come-first-serve, and the waiting room was full. There were lots of dogs on leashes and cats in carriers. We had a two-hour wait. It was amazing how well-behaved all the animals were. They were in close quarters and no one barked or growled. One woman had three small dogs on leashes. They were very sweet and patient as they waited. Here they are in the photo below:

There was a very sweet boy helping out, who spoke to all the animals:

The clinic is supported by donations and grants. They also have a Thrift Shop in the back, where hundreds of donated items are for sale. The prices are very reasonable. I found a pretty blue and white Chinese bowl for $1.00 and two very nice Limoges china ramekins for a quarter each.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Past Due Photos

I wrote the last several blogs without any photos. I just hadn't downloaded (or is it uploaded?) my photos from my camera to my laptop yet. I finally sat down and did it. So here are some of the things I have been talking about.

This is the mother cat and her two kittens who live in our back yard. The mother is a calico, as is one of the kittens. You can see the calico kitten off to the right side, and the little white one with black patches in the front, if you look closely.

Here is the little white one, facing me then walking toward the bushes in back. This is as close as I could get with my 12x zoom camera. They will probably show up better if you click on them. They really do have cute little faces!

The kittens are adorable! When they are big enough I will try to trap them and take them to be neutered. (More about the spay/neuter clinic I use in my next post). I intend to have the mother cat spayed too, but I am waiting until they stop nursing. I hope she doesn't become pregnant again in the meantime.

Second, here are some photos from my niece's 13th birthday celebration, which was also Father's Day. In the first one, she has decided to practice her gymnastics moves in the living room:

Then her about-to-be 11-year old sister decided to jump on her:

Here is the result:

As you can see, things can get a little rowdy at my sister's house. That is where I spend every Tuesday, babysitting, while my sister is at work. These two plus a little eight-year old sister and a year-old Wheaten Terrier. It's a lively household, and I usually come home exhausted on Tuesdays. When my husband isn't traveling, he waits at home for me with a drink ready when I walk in the door. When he is traveling, I usually just eat a bowl of cereal and go to bed!

The Summer Doldrums

This morning I went back and read the post I wrote last night. Pathetic! What an empty life! As the saying goes, I need to "get a life!". I need to shake things up. Make some changes. Get out into the world. Quit making cupcakes. Exercise. Lose weight. Make friends. Visit Philadelphia. Make plans to move.

When we moved to Kentucky (to be near family) I left my life behind in Philadelphia. My job. Our friends. A city I had come to love. A whole way of life. I tried to live by the motto "Bloom Where You Are Planted". But I think I am in sand. I think I need richer soil.

Or, is it just the summer doldrums? I am becalmed. Stagnant. Need to move... not sure in what direction, but I know I need to move. Get moving. Start with the treadmill. Resume decluttering. Get back to basics. Get motivated. Hopefully, last night's post was when I hit bottom.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Long Post About Nothing Much

I'm afraid I've been neglecting my blog all week. So where have I been? Actually, I have been in my house a lot. It's been very hot and humid here, and I've been having hot flashes that don't flash, they just come and stay. When I go outside and try to do anything, I get hot, sweaty, dizzy and nauseous. Not a pretty picture!

So, what have I been doing in the house? I've been doing a lot of reading, and believe it or not, baking. How can I bake in hot weather? I have a battery powered fan that I love. I take it everywhere I go in the house, so it's always right in front of me. Also, we have ceiling fans and central air. I need them all.

A few weeks ago, I bought Martha Stewart's cupcake cookbook. I've been experimenting with it, trying out the recipes. So far, my favorite is the Blackberry Cornmeal Cupcakes. They are like a cross between a muffin and a cupcake, not too sweet, and need no frosting. Last week I made Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Yum! My husband and I are gaining weight.

What have I been reading? I loved My Life in France by Julia Child. Also, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I have just finished The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella (I started reading this last year but it didn't click, so I decided to finally finish it). Same thing with Eat, Pray, Love... I tried it earlier and didn't like it, but went back to it. Now I am reading The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramo.

I don't really like being inside so much. I've been wishing we had a pool so I could float around and stay cool. I've thought about buying one of those little "kiddie" pools for the back yard, or one of those misting fans that I've seen in catalogs. I've been going outside early in the morning, before it gets too hot, to plant flowers in containers for my front porch and back deck. I found a great, rustic-looking wooden bench made out of a split log to put potted plants on. It looks great!

We are still feeding a colony of feral cats in our backyard, too. There are still some that haven't been neutered and we have been trying to trap them, but the only ones who have been tempted by the trap are the ones we've already caught. There is a female who gave birth to two little kittens about six weeks ago. The kittens, the mother, the father, and another female who appears to be a "babysitter" to the two kittens are always together. It's like a little family out there. I've never known that to happen before.

So, it's been pretty quiet around here. Just husband, me and the cats (four inside plus the colony outside). I babysit my three nieces on Tuesday while my sister works. I finally finished all my dental work (thank goodness!). I want to get to Philadelphia before long, to visit my friends there. I will try to find more to blog about soon... still watching the news, but can't think of anything good to write about on that front. Wishing for cooler weather so I can get out and about more often!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day

We had a Father's Day gathering at my sister's house yesterday. The fathers there were my brother-in-law and my mom's second husband. My own father died fifteen years ago. My three nieces gave their dad handmade cards and little gifts. The adults exchanged gift cards, my mom and stepfather received Bob Evans cards because they like to eat there. They are in their eighties, and my mom doesn't cook as often as she used to. My husband, as the uncle, received a Home Depot gift card, and we gave my brother-in-law a card for P.F. Changs. He and my sister have never been there, so we thought we could all go together.

We were also celebrating my niece's 13th birthday. She's a teenager now! Everyone keeps reminding her of that fact, but she doesn't seem particularly excited about it. I think she is self-conscious because she is so much smaller than all the other girls her age. Yesterday was the culmination of her "birthday week". Her actual birthday was last Tuesday. Her paternal grandmother and aunt took her birthday shopping on Monday; I took her shopping on Tuesday; my mom and stepdad took her shopping on Thursday, and she had her "kid party" on Saturday. This was her "family party". She had already selected all her gifts on the three shopping trips, and received a new cell phone from her parents earlier in the week, so yesterday was blowing out the candles and picture-taking.

It was nice being with family yesterday, but I really wasn't in a celebrating mood. Without my dad, Father's Day is a little bittersweet. And I don't have my own children to celebrate my husband as their father. My husband's daughter and granddaughter live in California, so his own Father's Day is a pbone call. I got him one of those "to my husband" cards and one "from the cat". He didn't even open them. After twenty-seven years of marriage, the highlight of his Sunday was his golf game that morning. I don't play golf. I don't have my father. I don't have children with my husband. So, I feel a little on the periphery of things. I guess I was a little "down" yesterday. I didn't know why then. Now that I have written this down, I understand it a little better.

On Mother's Day I feel a little blue as well, because I am not a mother. But I have my own mother to think about, and making her happy makes me happy. My ex-husband had a lot of faults; too many to live with, that's why he's an ex. But there was one amazingly nice thing he always did for me. Every Mother's Day he took me to brunch and brought me flowers. He understood that I felt a little sad that day. Funny.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Must Be Too Old For This!

Okay, I got this fancy new digital camera... great! Now if I could just understand it.

Every time I turn it on, it wants me to set the year, date and time. I can't get past this screen to take photos. But... how do I set the year, date and time? There is no keyboard on it, so how do you enter the numbers?

I know, I know... it's probably explained somewhere in the pamphlet that came with it. But that's not as easy as it sounds. First I have to find the section that is written in English. Then I have to wade through all the more technical information that makes no sense to me, but would probably make sense to my ten-year old niece. It says to use the up, down and sideways arrows, but when I press them, no numbers appear on the screen. Come on! I grew up using a Kodak Brownie. I must be too old for digital!

p.s. The photo is not the actual camera I have... I took a generic image of a digital camera from Google. I believe the one in the photo is an even more complicated model on which you can change lenses. Mine is a somewhat glorified "point and shoot". I am definitely not ready for changing lenses!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Splurge

I grew up in a newspaper reading family. In the midwestern city where I grew up, there were two daily newspapers. My parents subscribed to both of them. My father was strict about the newspaper. If we read it before he did, we had to put it back together just the way it was when it arrived. Now, I get grouchy with my husband because he doesn't understand that rule. After he reads the paper I have to go hunt for sections of it, as they tend to be scattered all around the house. It might be on the breakfast table, downstairs in his "man cave" or in the bathroom. Also, he leaves the sections turned inside out so I can't tell which section is which, or where the front page is. (Just one of those small things you never know about a person until you live with them.)

My husband, in turn, is bothered by my insistence on receiving the Sunday edition of The New York Times. He says it's too expensive to have it mailed here, but it's the one splurge I'm not willing to give up. I began reading it when we lived in Philadelphia. It was easy to find there. When we moved to Kentucky, though, it wasn't so easy to find. I can find it at Border's but that's not very close to us, and farther than I want to drive on Sunday morning. I found out we could have the Sunday edition mailed to us here in Kentucky. So, every Monday we receive the Sunday Times in the mail. It's fairly expensive, but worth every penny to me.

I read the Week in Review first. I especially like Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, and Tom Friedman. (When we lived in Chicago, I got the Tribune and enjoyed Mike Royko). Then, I take the rest of the week, reading one section at a time. I carry the magazine around with me all week, reading and working on the crossword puzzle. I enjoy the Book Review, the Travel section, the Arts and Entertainment section, and the Sunday Styles section. Our local paper has none of these things. My husband reads the Sports section, the Travel section, and the Book Review.

I can't imagine my life without The New York Times. There is so much information in there. So much more than on television. Television news is full of fluff and bluster. There are so many things I know from reading the Times that I would never otherwise know. These days, I understand that you can read it all online. But it's just not the same. There is something tangible about having the pages in your hand, and seeing the sections lying around just waiting to be read.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm Hot!

Susan was right in her comment on my last post... root canals are nothing to fear anymore. Mine was not bad at all. What was all the fuss about?

Well, on to other things. We are having hot, humid, tropical-like weather here. I love my battery-powered fans. I carry one around with me all over the house.

I saw on the news about the people working to clean up oil in the Gulf, and how hot and humid it is there. I feel terrible for them. The pictures from there are heartbreaking and maddening. I don't think that area will be the same for generations to come, if ever. The other day I saw an oversized SUV with a trailer attached. On the trailer were half a dozen ATVs or "mud-runners", or whatever they call them. There were two guys in the truck drinking beer and having a good old time, going somewhere to ride around for fun. It made me angry, to think of all the ways we can think of to use up fuel and damage the environment. I know it's fun, I know it's their right, I know they would tell me to mind my own business. But I can't help thinking that one day we will wake up and say "what were we thinking?"

I am not a religious person in the traditional sense, but I do think that we have some kind of obligation to take care of everything nature provides. I heard the other day that the U.S. comprises five percent of the world's population and uses 25 percent of oil energy in the world. I think we have been living in a way that is not sustainable, that we have been living in a kind of bubble, seeing the world as children, thinking it will always be this way. But there is politics, and there is money, and so few wise men (and women) in positions of power, who see this and are willing to change things. What do you think? Am I being an alarmist?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I have to have a root canal this morning! Ack!

Root canal was not bad at all. I took a Xanax before, took my neck pillow with me, and managed to relax. In fact, I almost fell asleep at one point! It really was painless. Whew!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bill Geist: Animals Running for Mayor in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky

I posted this for Rachel, who asked about the mayor dog:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Boaters, Bikers and Beer On the Ohio River

When I went back and read this, it sounded like I was advertising this place. No, I don't do promotions. I just wanted to show some of the local color we have discovered since moving here. I miss the outdoor cafes in Philadelphia, and this is the closest thing I have found here. It's a whole different vibe from the big city.

It's summer in Northern Kentucky. On a weekend day, when the sun is shining, where do you find everyone who is anyone?

Why, the Ludlow-Bromley Yacht Club, of course! The yacht club floats on the Ohio River. It's really a large pontoon with a roof.

Out back, there is a deck, floating on a separate pontoon. It sways and rocks as the boats pass by on the river.

It's not really a club, just a local gathering place. We go there for a burger and a beer (or a tall gin and tonic). If you take your boat around the bend and down river for a few miles, you will come to Rabbit Hash, the tiny hamlet on the river with a country store and a dog for its mayor.

It's a laid-back place with a varied crowd. Lots of bikers and boaters, and some local characters. Nothing fancy, no one showing off. There is live music at night, and I imagine lots of dancing. We have never stayed that late though.

One day I want to live near the beach. For now, I have the Ohio River!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Our Cat Family

Look at these kitties making themselves at home on our deck. They all came as part of the same litter, born under our next-door neighbor's deck last summer.

They have all been trapped, neutered, and released. They began life as feral cats, but they have become fairly tame, as we feed them twice a day, and they share our deck with us.

We trapped each one and took them to be spayed (they were all females). After their surgery we kept them in a crate to recuperate. It became apparent that all but one couldn't wait to be turned loose, to resume their outdoor life. One of them, however, was very friendly and enjoyed being petted. So we adopted that one and brought her in, to live with our three other indoor cats. We named her Munchkin because she was the smallest of the litter.

So now Munchkin lives with us in the house, and her sisters live outside on our deck and in our yard.

So, here is Munchkin on the inside, visiting with her sisters on the outside.