Friday, May 24, 2019

Well, if that don't beat all

Some of you may recall that I was hired for my current job in a provisional capacity, meaning that the next time the civil service exam for my position was offered in my area, I would need to take the test and finish in the top three positions in order to become a permanent hire.

Back in early March I took the exam.  Then, last month, still without knowing the results, I had to take a typing test, which is a requirement for the position.  I was surprised to find out that the passing requirement was only 45 words per minute, and even MORE surprised to find out that only nine of the original 20 applicants for the position passed the typing portion (which is graded immediately upon completion of the test).  Whoa.  But at least now I knew that I was one of only nine.

And then I waited. And waited some more.  And then, yesterday, the results were in.

Not only did I pass the exam, and not only did I finish in the top three positions,


A perfect score.  The ONLY ONE.  The next closest applicants were ten points behind.


Now, I'll be honest here, the stakes for me were not as high as they once would have been, but still, this had become a matter of pride for me.  I really, really wanted to do well on the test, just to prove to myself that I COULD.  It had, after all, been many, many years since I had had to sit for an exam.

 But I did it!  and I ACED it.


Monday, May 20, 2019

It's just all so ... strange (edited because I realized I forgot some very important stuff)

First of all, Good Boy continues to do well!  He's been to see my vet and did fine, and I think I'm probably going to try introducing him into Gen Pop this coming weekend.  We'll see how it goes!

And thank you so much to Ginny for the gift card so that I can pick out something special for him and let him know that it's from Aunt Ginny. :)

Thank you also to those who donated to the matching Facebook fundraiser I did for the rescue!  Together we raised almost $3,000.00 in memory of Arline!  I am currently looking for some smaller, up-and-coming local rescues who could use a wee bit of financial assistance.  All in my sister's name, of course. 

Ponyboy about gave me a heart attack the other day - I was petting him and felt an odd, hard LUMP in his belly.  Given his medical history, I took him to the vet right away, and it turned out that he had somehow managed to bruise his "xiphoid process".  Go ahead, google it, I'll wait ...

Leave it to PB to damage something I didn't even know EXISTED.  But he's doing great and will make a full recovery.

Now to the strange part ... well, first off, not being able to talk to my sister, of course.  I really, really miss just being able to pick up the phone and ... you know.  Anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows how tough that is. 

The other strange thing?  The money.  It just seems so WEIRD to have All. This. Money., and not to be able to talk about it.  I mean, talking about money is just kind of ... gauche, isn't it?  Not done?  Especially since I did absolutely nothing to actually EARN this money?

But, I mean, every month I open up the statements from my investment accounts and I just want to do a happy dance.  I understand, of course, that investments go up and go down, but right now, well ... my investment accounts earned more money in the first four months of 2019 than I will earn all YEAR at my job.


(And yes, these are solid investments - mutual funds and such - with an established firm with a proven track record of many decades.  No, I am not investing in oil wells in Texas or Nigerian princes.  It's all on the level.)

So I've got this money, and it's making MORE money, and it's all just such a KICK, and I ...can't really talk about it.  Except to YOU, of course.  I'm so glad I have you guys!

Don't hate me because I have money, okay?  :)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Easter Sunday, Taughannock Falls

First off, for all who are wondering, Good Boy is doing great!  He is chilling in the foster room, because I want to take introductions to the other cats very slooooowly.  But he is happy as a clam and purring it up. :)

Easter Sunday dawned cold and rainy, as so much of this spring has been.  So I decided a little road trip was in order.  Because why not?  Time to do some hiking.

Well, THIS looks promising!  :)

Stairs. Why does it always have to be stairs?:

Before you can see the falls, you can hear them:

These guys brought their shovels:

Past the main falls are the upper falls:

And the main event:

I headed across the street to the marina, empty this time of year:

and the lake:

and something totally unexpected:  Loons!

But soon enough it was time to head home, with a stop for Easter dinner:

A fine Easter Sunday, indeed.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Good Boy Chronicles: Extraction!

Okay, again:  Good Boy is FINE.  And also, this is the last part of a multi-part story, so if you want to start from the beginning, scroll down until you hit the "Good Boy Chronicles:  Disappeared" post, and read up from there.  Now settle in for a long read.

Here we go!

When I left off, Good Boy had been located.  He was alive and under the floor of the adopter's house.  Now we just had to get him out.

The firefighter knelt down by the hole under the sink, because he thought that one would be easiest to enlarge, and stuck his hand in the hole, feeling around to see how much material would have to be removed to allow access.  "He's headbutting my hand!," he called.  "His head is right here!"  

We all crowded around the hole, with the vet tech aiming a flashlight.  There ... he ... was ... just the top of his head, visible between the piping and the floorboards.

"There's not enough room," the firefighter said.  "He's right here, but he can't get out of this hole unless we get some of this flooring up."

The firefighter and the contractor started taking turns pulling on the floorboards and unscrewing the metal clamps that held the sink piping in place.  They didn't want to use power tools in order to avoid scaring Good Boy further back into the space, so just a prybar and manual tools were used.
Every time one of them would stick a hand in, Good Boy would rub it with his head. 

After several minutes, the hole was big enough to pull Good Boy through.  Except now he was scared, and every time the firefighter would try to pull him out, he would brace against the underflooring so that he couldn't be moved.

"Let me try," said the vet tech.  "I deal with stubborn cats every day.  I'll scruff him and pull him out."

She knelt into the cupboard, stuck her hand in, and scruffed Good Boy.  And then started to slowly pull.  Slowly ... slowly ... and all of a sudden, she leaned back out of the cupboard and onto the kitchen floor with Good Boy in her arms!

 Good Boy was out of the hole!  Covered in sheetrock and dirt, but alive!  And purring!  And making biscuits in the vet tech's arms!  She quickly looked him over and then popped him in a carrier and she, her boyfriend, and GB were off to the vet.  I told her I'd finish up in the house and then come there.

The adopter kept saying, "I'm going to get him back, right?"  Ummm ... sure.  SURE(LY NOT).  This woman farted around for almost TWO WEEKS, making no substantive effort to find Good Boy, while the rescue and I scrambled desperately to try and find him.  While the rescue volunteers canvassed the neighborhood and printed up flyers, she did nothing.  She claimed she didn't have five dollars to have flyers printed up on her own ... How on earth was she planning on paying vet bills?  Buying him food?  This loving cat had been so traumatized by her family that he lived in the FLOOR rather than come out.  She had falsified her application (by putting down that she had three children when in fact she had five (and another on the way), for one thing. I'm not really at liberty to discuss all the details, but trust me, that application stunk like a three-day-old fish.)  She had breached the adoption contract, and voided the agreement. 

The contractor repaired the hole in the wall and the hole under sink, all the while saying things like, "Gee, Good Boy will never get back in there now!"  Heh.  The contractor and I left together, I told him to email me a bill, and I headed for the vet.  I stopped on the way and texted the woman who runs the rescue to let her know that we had Good Boy, and she needed to immediately contact the adopter and tell her that since the application had been falsified, the cat would not be returned.  I told her to tell the adopter that I would mail the $500 reward to her (as soon as I knew that she had been informed that the cat would not be returned).  I figured that if the adopter was planning to make a fuss, accepting the reward money would negate any possible claim she would have.

I got to the vet's office and they took me to where the vet was examining him.   There he was, on the table, purring and kneading and rolling on to his back for belly rubs.  He was dehydrated and somewhat thinner and filthy dirty, but otherwise fine!  The vet thinks he may have been eating rodents that wandered into the crawlspace (shudder), and he had either found a dripping pipe in the wall or was able to sneak out at night to drink out of a leaking faucet.  (Remember, even though I had advised the adopter to leave out food and water in the house just in case, she did not do it.) The vet gave him some some sub-q fluids, and kept him overnight for observation.  Tired and dirty but happy, I headed home.

As soon as I got home, the rescue texted me and let me know that the adopter had been informed.  And right after THAT, the ADOPTER texted me.  She wanted to come pick up the reward money.  NOW.

Jesus Christ.

I let her know that we could meet someplace (I didn't want her and the skeevy people hanging around her place to come to my house) (Aside: Two days later, someone was STABBED IN THE STREET in front of her house. I'm not even kidding).  She said the local WalMart.  I said fine.  (You don't get much more public of a place than the entrance to WalMart.) She said it had to be RIGHT NOW.

Just like I figured it would when I offered to give her the reward, it had all come down to money.
She didn't ask about Good Boy or how he was.  She wanted to know how fast she could get the money.  I advised that I did not have that much cash on hand, but I would write her a check.

I texted the rescue and let them know what was going down.  "Get a release!," they said.  "You have to have them sign off on the cat in order to get the reward."  I typed something up real quick, made a copy, and messaged my friend Sarah to let her know what was going on.  "I'm on my way," she said.  The adopter texted me; it would be her husband meeting me, not her.  Inside the entrance, by the pharmacy.

I got to WalMart at the same time as Sarah.  We walked inside, and there was the husband.  Standing there with a cart full of crap he had picked out while waiting.  Now keep in mind, this is the same family who claimed they did not have five dollars on Monday to print up some flyers and had no way of getting money until Friday.  And there he was, on Wednesday night, with a cartful.  They had money, all right.  They just weren't about to spend it on Good Boy.

I handed the husband a clipboard with the releases.  "Just sign the releases, please, and I'll give you the check," I said.  He looked surprised, but signed both copies.  I took back the clipboard, kept one release, and gave him the other.  Then I pulled the reward check out of my pocket and handed it over.  And he went back into the store (never once asking how the cat was), and Sarah and I walked out and headed directly to the nearest bar for a beverage, now that the extortion, er, REWARD money was paid.  As we walked out of the store, Sarah pulled her phone out of her t-shirt pocket.  "I recorded the whole thing!," she said.  "Just in case."

Spies like us, man.  We get the job done.  We had a signed release and a recording of the whole thing.  

And the following night, Good Boy went to his new home.  His true FOREVER home this time.

My home.

Sarah took my foster kittens to stay at her house so that I could put Good Boy in the foster room.  I plan on working on building up his confidence, and then working with him and Tinks to get him integrated into the family.  I think that now that Good Boy is actually INSIDE the house, and soon will SMELL like the house, and Tinks will be able to see that Good Boy is welcome to BE in the house, things will go more smoothly.  And if not, we'll just keep working on it.  And working on it.

Because THIS is Good Boy's home now.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Good Boy Chronicles, in which a contractor and the fire department get involved

Okay, first off, again:  Good Boy is FINE.  And also, this is Part 2 of a multi-part story, so if you want to start from the beginning, scroll down to the entry titled "Good Boy:  Disappeared" and read that first.


So!  When I left off, it was apparent  that SOMETHING, very possibly Good Boy, was in the floor of his adopter's house, was possibly unable to get out, and had potentially been trapped for ten days at this point.

I called the rescue.  I told them I needed a contractor (in order to rip up floors or walls if necessary) and someone with a thermal imaging system to meet me at the adopter's house as soon as possible.  Within an hour, the rescue had the people and the equipment rounded up, and we made arrangements to meet at the house at 3.  The thermal imaging system was being loaned by the one of the rescue's vet tech volunteer's boyfriend, who volunteers for a local fire company.  (Most professional fire companies will no longer assist in animal rescues, claiming their liability insurance does not allow it.  Volunteer fire companies, however, tend to be more flexible, especially if the offer of a hefty donation is made.)  The vet tech was coming along, too, to rush Good Boy to the vet as soon as he was extracted.

Waiting for 3:00 to come, I felt sick.  As far as I knew, Good Boy had been without food or water for ten days.  A cat can go without food for a long, long time, but water?  No way.  Kidney damage would begin to occur after just a few days.  Even if he was still alive, which would seem to be indicated by the food disappearing, would he be able to be saved?  Would his kidneys still be functioning? 

At 3, I met everybody across the street from the house.  I briefly explained the situation, including that while the adopter THOUGHT she was getting the cat back, she was, in fact, absolutely NOT getting the cat back.

(An aside:  Once I knew the cat was most likely trapped in the house, I had to get access to the house in order to rescue the cat.  I was afraid that if I told the adopter that she was not getting the animal back, she would deny me access, and all would be lost.  So I made up a cover story that once the cat was found, it would have to be taken to the rescue's veterinarian and checked over, and once it was given a clean bill of health, it would be returned to her.)

At this point it was me, the contractor, the vet tech, and the vet tech's firefighter boyfriend with the thermal camera.  We went in.  

The firefighter started by aiming the camera at the ceiling of the first floor.  He moved slowly through the house, concentrating on the area underneath the sink on the second level.  Nothing.  We went upstairs to the second floor kitchen, where the adopter showed us a second hole she had found, in the wall behind a microwave stand.  The firefighter started imaging underneath the sink.  Nothing.  Then he moved over to the wall where the second hole was.

"I've got something!"  he said.  "There's something alive and moving in there!"  

Could it be?

And then the moving image disappeared.  The firefighter did some more scanning and discovered that there was an area several feet long and a few inches tall, in between the flooring and the subflooring of the kitchen.  Wall partitioning meant that whatever was in there could move for those several feet, but no further.

We all stepped back to discuss which hole we were going to enlarge first, to gain more access to the area.  As we talked, all of a sudden the contractor said, "I hear something."  "I hear it too," said the firefighter.  "It sounded like a meow!"

I felt like I was going to faint.  I rushed over to the hole in the wall, put my head next to the hole, and starting softly calling.  "Good Boy!  Good Boy!  Hey, buddy, remember me?"  The firefighter put the camera above and behind me, to see if he could pick up an image.

And then we all heard it.  Meowing.  Again. and again.  Every time I called to him we would hear it. Meowing!

To Be Continued ...

Friday, May 03, 2019

Good Boy Chronicles: Disappeared

First off, I want to reassure everyone:  Good Boy is fine. REPEAT:  GOOD BOY IS FINE.  But we've had a pretty harrowing couple of weeks, here.  I am going to break this into several posts over the next couple of days, because it's a loooooong story, so if you want to read it all at once, best wait until Monday or so. But now, we'll get started, and remember:  Good Boy is fine.

Let's see, where were we?  Good Boy had been adopted to a suitable family and was off to start his new life.


Turns out a clerical error was made by one of the rescue volunteers.  The application that was "approved" for Good Boy was actually supposed to be "denied", for several reasons.  I don't review applications, so I never saw it.  The error wasn't uncovered until, 9 days after he was adopted, a post about Good Boy appeared on the local "Lost and Found Pets" facebook page.

Good Boy was missing.

As soon as I found out, I contacted the adopter, whom I had not spoken with or met before.  She said that when they first took Good Boy home, he spent most of his time hiding in quiet places, which is to be expected seeing as he is a timid cat and this family had FIVE CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF TEN (one of the many, many reasons the box that was checked was SUPPOSED to be the "denied" box, not the "approved" box.  Good Boy was not supposed to go to a family with young children due to his fear of loud noises and sudden movements.)  After four days in the home, he disappeared.  They searched the house for five days before putting an ad in the lost and found.  Meaning that as of April 25, when the ad was posted, he had been adopted for nine days, and no one had seen the cat for the last five days.  He could be anywhere by now.

I asked her if anyone had actually SEEN Good Boy leave the house.  No, she said, but the kids were in and out constantly and so were several other people, so he could have gotten out.  Had he been hovering near a door, I asked.  No, she said, but they had "torn the house apart" and could not find him.

oh shit oh shit oh shit.

I felt terrible.  I had failed Good Boy.  I had trusted the rescue to find him a good home, and due to a snafu, he went to a BAD home.  I had LIED to him.  I had visited him at the center, week after week, and told him not to worry, the rescue would find him a good home.  And they DIDN'T.  Poor Good Boy!  I had to save him!

I went over to the neighborhood and started talking to the neighbors.  I advised the adopter to have some one-page "missing" flyers made up, and said that she could get a bunch of copies printed up for five bucks at Staples.  The following day, I took over feeding stations, food and water, and game cams and set them up in various backyards throughout the neighborhood.  The woman who runs the rescue was also out looking for him.  I gave the owner a 30 lb. bag of cat food and told her to monitor the stations daily, call me if food was going missing from the bowls, and refill the bowls as necessary.  I told her to call me if she ran out of cat food and I would bring her more.  (The family was, how do I put this?  Very low income.)  I told her to set up some food and water bowls INSIDE the house as well, in secluded areas, just in case he was still inside, and to monitor those levels as well.  

God DAMN it.

 The following day, Monday, I had to work, but I had some new ideas on where to look in the neighborhood for Good Boy, so I texted the adopter.  I shared my ideas, and asked if she had had the flyers made up yet.  No, she said, she didn't have five dollars to spend, and wouldn't have the money until Friday.


I called the rescue and asked them to get some flyers made up.  I told them to put MY phone number, and the RESCUE's phone number on the flyer, but NOT the adopter's phone number.  By this time the application had been pulled from records and the grievous error had been discovered.  There was NO WAY this family was getting this cat back, especially since to date, the only people putting any effort at all into recovering Good Boy were rescue volunteers.   

By Monday night the flyers had been prepared and were off to the printer to be ready on Tuesday.  I put a new ad in the lost and found, now offering a $500 reward for his safe return, and excluding the adopter's contact info.    Possible sightings started trickling in, but none that closely enough matched Good Boy's appearance to warrant further investigation.  

On Wednesday morning, at which point Good Boy had been missing for ten days, the adopter contacted me.  She said that when she had gone to the upstairs kitchen the previous evening (the house was a former two-family loosely converted to a one-family, and still had a kitchen on each level), she opened up the cupboards under the sink and smelled cat pee.  She looked under the sink and found a hole next to the drain pipe. She angled a bowl of food into the hole (which only dropped a few inches before it hit the subfloor system) and when she checked it Wednesday morning, the food was gone.

Oh. My. God.

He was in the floor.  Good Boy was in the FLOOR!  

To be continued ...