Friday, May 27, 2011

Storms and being powerless

From last night (not blogged--saved in MSWorks out of sheer boredom)

It’s a lonely place when the power goes off. Especially when you don’t dare light candles in case another tornado does actual whip up; and you have to take one cat of seven (Ivan, already crated, just in case) and your dog, into the basement, where a small river is flowing down the uphill wall, and out the drain in the floor on the downhill side. I realize I have no idea where the battery radio is…had Mark taken it, or had I kept it? Then I realized the radio headphones were in the house, so I just cranked those to listen for emergency tones.

Upstairs I can hear the battery backup for my arsenal of computers beeping every thirty seconds. I was powering down the computer when the lights went out, but the router and modem are still running off on battery power, mostly because I can’t recall how to turn them off. They haven’t been turned off in….oh….four years? I’m about to venture up now that the wind has died down to see if I can recall how to quiet their reassuringly blinking lights before the battery…a ten by twelve inch behemoth, finally limps toward powerlessness and dies.

How am I writing, still, with no power? Ah, the netbook with the eternal battery! The best $250 I ever spent.

The storm slowly fades off to the east. The trees are no longer whipping back and forth. They are surprisingly calm against the almost-black sky, like horses that spooked in a stall, kicking and rearing, then suddenly realizing there was nothing to fear, and go back to quietly munching hay.

Hmm. Then the thunder grows louder again and I remember being a kid in my bed in Earlville, praying and praying that each rumble of thunder would grow fainter and finally leave me in peace. Tornados didn’t even enter our conversation when I was kid, except when we visited friends in Indiana, or watched The Wizard of Oz. And now they seem to be everywhere.

I used to like thunderstorms, but these last few years, and especially this last month, calling people whose lives have been totally destroyed by tornados, and then having three drop down here in NY, two within 10 miles of me…well, it makes you appreciate blue skies and merely glum weather.

I also still have one tall pine that needs to come down before it serves as a lightening rod like it’s twin in the backyard that was splintered five years ago. Only my laptop survived that storm.

Then the traffic picks up. It’s locals climbing in their cars to see if anyone else has lights. “Is it just my house, or is everyone’s power out? There are two trucks idling in the road outside…two neighbors, driver’s side window to driver’s side window, swapping damage stories I imagine. Apparently questions were answered, because one is turning around in my driveway and heading home.

I supposed I should ring up NYSEG and listen to the little message that will tell me they know I have no power and they hope to have it on soon. And then I should climb in my own car and check my two roads, to see if any of “my” trees have fallen. Someone else will likely already be there with a chainsaw (good thing, because I don’t have one), but I at least should help pull branches out of the road.

Funny that I was just thinking of switching to digital phone service because I hadn’t experienced a power outage in years. Now here I sit in darkness, as my nice old fashioned phone still gives a reassuring dial tone.

The storm broke while I was in the cat facility, trying to get everyone tucked in, and to give a hug to the feralish gray cat named, oddly, Storm. “Oddly” named because she is terrified of thunder. It’s the only time I can actually hold her without being bitten. She was hiding in a cubby crying, so I pulled her out, cuddled and combed her, checked her teeth and ears…all the things I can only do when she finds me to be less terrifying than the weather. Sometimes she will even snuggle and purr. Not this time. The wind and rain began whirling loudly, thundering down on the metal roof, so I made sure only one window was open, grabbed a towel to cover my head, and sprinted for the house.


I discovered why so many people are idling outside my house.

They have to turn around at the cones just past my driveway. There are cones because of this:

I woke to still no power, and no ETA on the NYSEG power outage site. After encountering three blocked roads, I managed to wind my way to Ithaca, where I worked remotely for half a day at Panera Bread. I had the afternoon off anyway, so I'm going to get the studs off my tires, buy a lot of water, and head home to cook some dinner over an open fire.

If I have no power by tomorrow, I'll be giving away a freezer full of organic meat, or having one very large party. I just bought meat for the year from a friend who is a local farmer. That's what I get for not staying vegetarian.

Ah, la. Such is life. The home phone still works, and I'm in the phone book if anyone has a chest freezer with space! I'll be sure to leave some bacon and roasts behind for you when my power is back up again.

There may not be blogging here again for a bit, but I've been so bad about it lately anyway...yes, NOW I'll miss it. :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Maru's birthday

Be sure to check out the video a little way down the post.

Why animals matter when humans are in peril

One of the statements I most hate to hear is "why are you worried about cats when there are people who need help," or "why don't you spend your efforts on children in need, rather than cats." Above and beyond a belief that animals also suffer and deserve consideration, it is because of this:

Kind humans care, and kind humans need help, when they find a suffering animal. They need to be able to hand that animal to an animal person, so that they can get on with their business of helping people. The kind of man who is going to search all day and all night for a person trapped beneath the rubble of a tornado that has utterly destroyed half of a city, is not going to pass by a kitten--a tiny live thing in a field of death. And while one or two kittens might be taken home and named Twister, all the kittens, cats, injured and lost dogs, iguanas, parrots, and other displaced pets suddenly wandering with no place to go...need a place to go.

In Joplin, that is the Joplin Humane Society Animal Adoption & Resource Center. If you are on Facebook you can find them here,  and you will see a community that is coming together to help the Society, and the other shelters and rescue groups who will be providing a safe place for the animals brought to them by residents and emergency personnel.

In every community there is a shelter that would need to step forward if hell struck your own home town tomorrow. If you stepped out of a pile of rubble, with everything in your life gone, and the first thing you found was your dead neighbor's beloved cat wandering aimlessly, you should be able to pick up that cat, cry over it, and hand her to someone who will keep her safe, so you aren't faced with the dilemma of trying to keep that animal safe, or worse--be forced to walk away to leave that one spark of life to possibly die alone after surviving such destruction.

Please help Joplin Humane if you can, and better yet, please look to your own local shelters. Remember the shelter you have in your community is the shelter your community builds. One day that shelter may need to be there for you...the way the Animal Adoption & Resource Center is there now, in an unimaginable role, for the PEOPLE of Joplin, Missouri.

Flickr photos, Lost/Found Tornado Pets in Joplin
Facebook, Lost/Found Tornado Pets in Joplin

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Of bunnies and cats

Three days ago I stepped outside to see Bear hovering over something. Usually it's a meadow mouse. This time it was a neonate bunny, already deceased. I took the bunny away and lamented the fact that it was so small. Bear obviously would know where the nest was, and he would sacrifice those bunnies one by one. Sure enough, later that day I heard a bunny squeaking, and I found Bear behind the woodpile, right next to my front door where the dog spends her day, standing over a bunny nest.

I expect mother rabbit built her nest while I was traveling, Molly was at the kennel, and Bear was safely inside. I put Bear in the house, tucked the bunny back in the nest with two others, covered the nest, and laid some sticks across it so I could see if mother rabbit returned to feed them. The next day the sticks were moved, and Bear was growing restless inside. The following day the sticks were moved again, but one of the bunnies was DOA next to the nest--probably the bunny that Bear had gotten a hold of. I removed the DOA bunny. By now, Bear was picking fights with cats in the house, so I took a trip to the Dollar General.

Mother rabbits only visit their nest around twice a day to feed the babes. So while Bear is outside for an hour or two, I've covered the nest. I'll take the basket off in late afternoon and keep Bear inside. Once the bunnies are hopping around, Bear will just have to deal with remaining in the house. If he gets pissy I'll just have to shut him in a boarding room. He immediately checked out the nest, but when he realized he couldn't get at it, he lost interest.

The later this morning I heard a loud THWACK and realized a bird had flown into one of my great room windows. I went outside and Tyler was chattering from the cat enclosure at something lying in the grass. I picked up the thrush and gently carried him over to the woodpile and set him there to recover, if recovering was in the stars for him. When the weather is cold, I put them in a paper bag some place warm and dark, but I figured it would be less stressful for this bird to remain outside. I was worrying about him when after an hour he had not moved and was quite fluffed up, but when I came out a little while later, he gave me a look and flitted away. Relief!

It amazes me that a breakable bird can fly head on full speed into a window and survive. I guess because they hit skull-first, and the skull is the strongest part of a bird, they manage not to break.

Hopefully that is enough wildlife adventure for the week! Now I need to relocate Ivan from my lap so I can get the bird book and see what bird this was. I thought he was a wood thrush, but I think they have more white.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Two feet back on the ground

Blog posts run through my mind throughout the day, yet none of them make it here. Some of this is due to weariness. Some due to laziness. Some due to simply not being here.

Even now, so much is running through my mind that I want to write, but instead I just want to turn off the light and go to bed.

This weekend I was in Kentucky, which is a beautiful state. I can tell you it is beautiful because I got lost in it with a veterinarian as we tried to find our way to the venue for the workshop we were holding. I finally pulled over next to an old timer at a rural intersection and he pointed me toward a building I never would have realized was a store. A few gentleman and a woman were sitting at a table with coffee and I immediately wished I could just pour a mug myself and sit down with them. They pointed me to the road Mapquest said I wanted, but it turned out it was the wrong road entirely. More winding pavement, more lush green trees. Continued lack of cell service. I finally found a college student familiar with the conference center I wanted (not on North Campbell Road, but on Campbell Lane) and off we went.

On the way home, it was raining. The plane bounced its way heavenward, and burst so quickly out into the sunset, blue sky, and white plains of clouds, that everyone on board gasped. I grabbed my Flip at pointed it at the window.

And there you go.

So now that I am home, where it is, still and still, raining, I'll talk to you more about cats.

I swear.

But now I'm going to sleep.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring returns, and so do the Big Critters

Spring has finally arrived, only three short weeks from June, and summer. I've been waiting for the bear to make an appearance. All has been quiet. I haven't been feeding the birds, so there may be nothing to draw them here.

Today I was picking up sticks in the yard so I could mow, and found a pile of poop that was too large for a raccoon or fox, but not large enough for a bear. Coyote, I wondered? But so close to the house? Nah...

Tonight Molly gave an alarm bark out on the porch, so I brought her in. I could hear something crashing in the brush along the gorge. Not as loud as a bear, but too sustained for a deer. Huh.

The the coyotes started yamming right by the barn...where I had been planning on going to tuck the cats in. Loudly! I yelled and stomped, and this had no effect whatsoever. They were in the field I had been mowing not three hours earlier, and that's where they were going to stay. Up until now I've heard them off on the hill, but not right in my yard. And frankly, it was creepy.

I'm afraid the cats will just have to sit tight until morning, because I'm not wandering out there into the darkness. I know the coyotes won't bother me, but I don't care. That's just too close for me! The cats are probably sound asleep anyway, and they won't mind waiting until morning. The cats who live in runs are at liberty during the day and won't mind having liberty all night as well. The cats who are normally at liberty at night live in a 12x14 cat room during the day, and will be perfectly happy there for 6.5 more hours until the sun rises.

From now on I'll just have to do their final tuck-in before 9:00 pm. Then I won't have to dodge bears, raccoons, skunks, and now coyotes.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Presents in the mail...

I was recently in Portland, Maine, for the New England Federation of Humane Societies conference. My friend and former colleague Ann was there, from Texas. Unlike other long-distance friends who may never have a chance to see one another again, Ann and I bump into one another once or twice a year when we are sent to the same conferences.

I headed off for home by car, and Ann ended up stranded for another day when her flight home was delayed. Today I got a present in the mail, so now I know what she did with her extra day. She went shopping for cats toys, and sweet Portia was the first test kitty.

Thanks, Ann! They are cute. :) I'll take the rest out to the other homeless cats needing distraction, in the cat facility.