Monday, December 26, 2005
I was worken this morning by a loud shout- "everyone downstairs please". Morning meeting. I knew that for ever after I would have to set my phone as an alarm clock- my body was NOT going to be doing the waking for me. I stumbeled down in my PJ's- which would going to turn into a morning ritual as the late nights piled upon another (and which to this day people remember).
After the morning banalities I was introduced to Kim Johnson. She was trying to set up the binders and such for the feed and Water program. While the program itself was not new, what we were doing was. We had each F/W station mapped and then on a log sheet with any information- address, animals seen, type of food left etc. This made it about 100 times easier for those in the feild to find the stations, and later for us to trap the animals at those locations. Just for the record I want to say that if I worked my ass off, Kim worked every body piece she owned off, there were nights she didn't sleep at ALL. It's people like Kim that make you understand how important this work is, and how few people want to do it.
Just for the record, I don't know what it is about when you are working on your PC in a tense situation, but something that SHOULD take you about 10 mins, will take you 3 or 4 hours because you keep getting interrupted. It was terrible, we needed excel and word and a mapping program for what we were working on, and neither of us had excel or word. I think it took me 3 hours just to find a trial of something to download.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
It seems that my reputation proceeded me to New Orleans. I am a Stealth Volenteer. Basically what that means is that I am an internet slueth working with a group to track down the owners of pets whose location we know. (The opposite of helping an owner find a missing pet I suppose you could say). It seems to be the consensus that a Stealth is a computer wiz. Ok so I do know a bit about PC's, but I am far from a wiz. From the moment I checked in, I was asked to be the reunion coordinator. Basically this would be a coordination between the ground teams and the offsite volenteers who were trying to find an owner. There was two problems with this. One- we only had 5 days that we could hold the animal before shipping it to a shelter. Lack of space and time made everything harder. The issue was the question of when this 5 day period began- from the moment the animal arrived or the moment Rose (the reunion information queen) got the data. With Bestfriends and ARNO working together, we had 2 very different opinions on this. The 2nd problem was that No one really know what a coordinator would actually DO.
My first job was to unpack my car and get my stuff situated. I discovered at this point that Celebration Station was not just a Vegetarian location- it was Vegan. AHHH! So all the food I had brought along to share was not shareable- or rather not publically shareable, I had to keep it in my bag upstairs. I have to say that this was the only thing that REALLY bothered me all week. Lack of showers and sleep didn't phase me, but I was really irritated about not being allowed to cook my own meal if it contained milk or meat products.
Once unpacked I met the people I would be working with- Whitney the dog care coordinator, Pia the head of ARNO, Kris the fill in for Chandra the cat lady, and Craig one of the trappers. There was still no consensus on what I would be doing so I decided to go out with Craig after a local came in with a report of a pregnant dog and a bonded male.
A Bonded pair is two animals that share a bond (DUH), like the parents of puppies/kittens, or animals that may have lived together before the storm. The goal is to keep bonded together, as this helps to reduce stress and other side effects in the animals.
Anyway, Craig took me out and taught me how to set a trap. Where to place the food, the trick to getting the dog to trip the trap (put some food under the trip plate), how to run a trail, how to get the dog TOO the trail (tuna juice!). We then left the trap, as an animal would be wary and sence us nearby. The trick is to circle in 1/2 hour to 45min runs- long enough for a dog to complete it's circuit if you scared them on the last run, but not long enough for the dog to get out or get hurt if you did catch it.
We saw nothing on our first two circuits, and were maybe thinking that we should have scouted out a bit better before setting the trap. Our "informer" told us that they fed at the church (where we set the trap) but it's always best to set the trap closest to where they sleep. The first trap had been disturbed, food around it had been eaten, so we know someone had been by, but we were not sure who. Earlier in the evening Craig had been complaining about this trap and a dog that escaped from it earlier that week (it was too short to close the dog in quickly enough before it could get out), and his frustrations were played out when we saw a closed trap- with no dog. They had escaped. We set a 2nd trap behind the church after seeing paw prints back there. We headed over to the FEMA tent to get Xmas dinner (It was closer than Celebration Station) and after scarfing food (you don't want to leave the traps too long) we headed back out to the site.
The Neighbourhood we were working in was an erie experience. You drive up and it looks normal. Not a lot of wind damage, a bit of garbage, but not too excessive, and cars parked in driveways. And then you look closer. The water line was up above the roof in many places. The cars were still sodden as were the carpets in houses. The "garbage" was family photo's and pieces of lives. It was a stark reality check that not everything was normal.
By this point it was nearly dark, so we parked down the street a ways to watch the trap. It's erie to sit in a van, with the radio down, and watch the sun go down on a neighbourhood and not see the porch or house or even street lights flicker on. You could hear a distant whine of the major throughway, but mostly the entire area was silent. Normally, silence like that would be peaceful, restful. But this was haunted with the lives that once inhabited this street. Up ahead we saw the flash of a pair of eyes, and we knew, we had visitors. Both Craig and I sat up to watch the animal cautiosly approach the trap. He sniffed. Then he howled calling his mate. He lay next to the trap, taunting us. A car drove by startling them, and they took off. Craig decided to circle the block, as it was too dark to see well by this point and we needed a better staging location. However, as we drove by the house next to the church and Craig happened to look inside- there seeing an entire gang of puppies.
This changed everything. Now, instead of trying to lure them with food, the Puppies became motivation. No mother dog will abandon her puppies, and then the mother could be used to catch the Pappa. It was easy enough to capture the puppies. These were the biggest fattest puppies- the were like hedgehogs they were so big. We put them in a dog carrier with blankets to keep them warm, and then put a trap on either side of the carrier. The idea is that the dogs will go in the trap to get to their puppies.
From our vantage point we watched while both the mother and father circled the crate and the traps. Then, we held out breath as the father walked into the front trap. The long silver one- not the one that would let him out if it sprung. There was nothing for what felt like an hour but was probabley 30 seconds. And then the dog backed out of the trap. He didn't hit the trip plate. The Pappa dog howled, and the mother arrived, she went directly in the trap. 1 min passed. Momma came out. By this point Craig was biting the steering wheel. Talk about frustration. Finally we made a call to some of the other trappers for advice.
Teh puppies had been living in a house, and it would make no change to them if we put them back in the house, albiet in a carrier. Then you put the trap in front of the carrier leading into the house to trap them as they came inside. The puppies would be out of the wind and safe. So that's what we did. We were told to leave for an hour so that the parents could settle down, so we headed back to CS. Craig headed out an hour later (around midnight at this point) and I stayed back to help with zipping some data. To his ultimate frustration, he came back with a full cage- of cat. Dog traps seem to be very effective for catching cats- at least for Craig. He still had the 2nd trap out, so we put the cat in the holding room in the trap, so it could be transported to LASPCA for triage in the morning.
I had been meeting the cats, and Craig then asked us for the trap back (seeing as he needed it for the dog. Thus began out 2nd adventure of the night. Kris entered the cage and I stood outside to keep the cat away from the door- the weak spot. Now the holding room is a cage instide a caged off room, and the trick is to get the cat in the carrier in the smaller room. However- we had an escape artist. He managed to squeeze himself through a split in the ceiling of the holding room, and plummeted around the caged room. He zoomed up the wall and wedged himself in the ceiling beams. Grrrreeaaaaatttt. By this point half of CS was awake watching us. If the danger to the cat and us (who knew what this cat had- you didn't want to get scratched or bit) hadn't been so great it would have been pretty darn funny. Anyway, a few stragglically thrown towels to dislodge it from it's spot and a catch net saw the cat firmly esconded in a cage- with Craig, looking abashed- carrying the trap.
We headed out again to the set trap and the puppies. On the previous run, Craig was telling me that the mother had wedged herself between the door and the trap, and so he had pinioned it closed around the trap to prevent it happening again.
As we approach the site we see.... Trap closed. YES! We had caught the mother dog. We approached the trap carefully, you never know what the dog's reaction will be. What we got was..... a wagging tail. This dog was so HAPPY to be caught. We took her and her puppies and decided to come back for the father tomorrow..... which means Craig didn't really need that trap after all.
After getting the mother and her puppies safely in a cage for the evening, I decided it was time to hit the hay. 1am, and sleep.
Friday, December 23, 2005
December 23rd-25th 2005.
We got started way beyond the time I hoped to get going. I wanted to leave right after work- 4 or 5ish. But Ben (the guy from school who wanted to go down with me) didn't want to leave until 7, and Jon wanted to stop and see me on his way to Buffalo. It ends up good that we didn't leave til later. All that last min running around- cleaning the cat boxes, vaccuming, getting my digital camera (A BIG thanks goes to John and Buelly from Pizza Hut who made that possible). Anyway, we got on the road around 8. I had hoped to drive 8 hours on the first night, however around 1am I fizzeled and with Ben fast asleep in the car next to me it seemed the best choice to stop for the night and get a good run tomorrow.
Day 2 12-24-05
Up at 7am, feeling much more rested, if not a trifle cold. So on a long trip you tend to notice things.
T Houses. There is no other way to describe these houses- they are the WEIRDEST things I have ever seen. Seen in West Virginia I suddenly understand why the Virginians make fun of the West Virginians. You know how some houses have a chimney up the side the house that is at a different level than the wall (ie juts out)? Ok now imagine a 2 story house with the base floor one level with a Chimney like column in the middle, now the upstairs is level with the chimney column- making it look like a Giant T. So facing the back of the house it would look something like this:
|____ ____| <--Upstairs
| | | |
Ok so you would assume that chimney shape would be a chimney right? Wrong. Some of them had windows in them. Freaky. It wasn't like it was a freak designer house or anything- there was whole COMMUNITIES of them. I am still looking at houses every where I drive to see if I can see ones out here- so far, no luck.
I saw Santa Clause riding a motorcycle somewhere in Virginia.
Waffle Houses. These stinking things are EVERYWHERE. In the North East you find a Dunkin Donuts every 2 exits or so. Which is great seeing as you know any exit you get off will have coffee (or in my case, Iced Latte's). Down South it's teh Waffle House. It's not like the other "regular" stores you find all over the country where you have one every other or every 3 exits. Every single exit from the Virginia/ Tennessee border down to New Orleans had a waffle house. Or rather a Wafle House seeing as often one of the F's would be burnt out. (It was rarely a different letter, always one or both f's). I stopped for dinner at one of these establishments one night in Tennessee. (My god- I could barely understand the woman- in fact, presonally I think accents in Tennessee are broader than any other place I passed through on my journey). It was quick and cheap and the food wasn't half bad. On my next journey I may even stop and get a waffle.
One of the best things about the drive was the gas prices. I think I was paying around 2.01 and 1.98 as soon as I left the northern states. I felt so pleased when I only paid $18 for a full tank (This memory now haunts me as I put $25 in for a 3/4 tank- eep). Also the weather. I actually drove with the windows down. The feeling of fresh air on my face was great.
Ben and I shared the trip evenly. He did all the sleeping and I did all the driving. I was still feeling fairly good, it was about 1am, and we were 3 hours out of New Orleans. I had just planned on finishing the drive when I got the call from Glenn. Keeping abreast of the news- knowing where I was going- called to tell me that there was still a curfew in affect on the east side of the city. I was coming in from the east. So we ended up stopping a 2nd night, because I didn't know if we'd be able to GET to our destination.
We got up kinda late- 8am. My god it was warm. We got on the road by 9.30. Sun shining, windows down. It was a GREAT morning, almost felt like I was going on vacation. This feeling was dispelled when we got to Louisiana. We crossed the bridge into the city, and right there in the middle of the median is a boat. Now that's unusual enough being that we were not THAT close to the water, but the fact that it was upside down was the kick. And this was not some small paddle boat. This boat was the size of a semitrailer. As we drove further in we started to see more damage. Pieces of fence and roof missing, an abonded car. But what was most surprising was the number of cars on the road. There was way more people on the road than I had expected.
I found Celebration Station (an old arcade that we were using as a center) without too much trouble and headed to the door, still not sure what to expect.
I hate Christmas. There I said it. 2 days before they day I used to dream of as a kid that I now look forward to with dread. I know they say that it's better to give than recieve, and I agree, I love to give. I will spend MONTHS planning the perfect gift for someone, to make sure that their face lights up when they open it.
But every single year (just about) I am disapointed by what I am given in return. Does that make me greedy and a miser? I don't know. In a way, I guess I don't care. I KNOW people don't have a lot of money (I sure don't) and I don't expect these big expensive gifts from people. But I do expect you to put some THOUGHT into it. This year I am more broke than normal. With buying a house and going to New Orleans I don't really have any extra. I did not spend more than $10 on any gift for any person, but I truely made sure it was something they would like. For Shazia I got pink candle holders (loves pink and candles), for Marcia I got a giant candle as well as a mirror to put it on, for Verna a wooden angel (collects angels), for Tina a picture frame to put the picture of her new baby in her office. These are not big expensive gifts, but always along their intrests.
So what did I get in return? A spatula from Marcia, a coffee mug from Sazia with some Mary Kay hand cream in it (Um- I sell Avon), and a mug of tea from Verna (it's well known that I don't drink tea and rarely drink coffee- they tease me about it every time I do). What really set off this rant was two people in the office I work closely with. Both gave me what I call throw away gifts- just something (like the mug) they can get for nothing and give away. No thought put in at all. But they probabley spent about $50 or $60 on each other. 2 Precious moments figures, candles, bath and body works lotions, scarves, hats,- and that was just one set of gifts for one person. I felt very left out.
I guess that is the crux of the matter. I felt left out. I felt like I was pawned off with any old gift. I would rather you not buy me anything if you don't want to think about the person I am. If your broke and want to get me something small, give me $5 at Target or Price Chopper or even Walmart- not a $5 coffe mug tea set.
And another part of me feels guilty for ranting. I should be thankful to get anything at all. But I just always feel like I'm "appeased" instead of truley thanked, and that makes me wish that we could skip this time of year.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
First, a HUGE congratulations to my friends Scott Gwin and his girlfrind Kara. He popped the question on the 20th, and somehow convinced her to say yes ;) Kidding. I hope you guys have a great wedding and a long life together. Now here is to the wedding nght!!!! ;)
This is a poem that a friend of mine Janis wrote. So many people have been looking for their lost pets and for the owners of lost pets after Katrina and with the end of the year the search is getting desperate. This is her xmas wish:
Twas the night before Christmas
And all across the internet
Stealthers were desperately searching for pets
Petfinder photos had been placed with great care
In hopes that their families would find them there
Dogs and cats nestled in shelters afar
With visions of St. Francis driving up in a car
Glued to our keyboards with eggnog and such
St. Francis get them home, we don't ask for much
Then suddenly we hear lots of screams and clatter
We spring from our chairs to see what's the matter
Away to the window we fly like a flash
What is that in the street, we shockingly ask
The moon and the stars shining ever so bright
Finally, we are beginning to see the light
And what to our bloodshot eyes should appear
But a truck filled with a pets and a large keg of beer
With a little ole driver who is so stinking drunk
We thought for a moment that Christmas was sunk
More rapid than bullets his fleet rolls in
He staggers and sputters and says with a grin
Now BF and PF and Pasado and Peta
Now HS, Noah, Jane and Anita
To the top of the ramp, into the Superdome
Hurry up, Hurry up, let's get them home
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
They run from the flood to where the ground is dry
Into the Superdome away they all race
With families coming, there's no time to waste
And then in a twinkle I heard in the dark
The wonderful sounds of meow and bark
I raised up my head and turned around
Into the dome St. Francis came with a bound
He was dressed in white robes from his head to his foot
And his clothes were tarnished with fur balls and soot
A bundle of pig ears and bones on his back
He looked like the lead dog running the pack
His eyes filled with his tears, and his cheeks all stained
He looked like a vagabond who had been drug through the rain
A piece of rawhide was clenched in his teeth
But a halo encircled him like a wreath
He had a kind face and worn tattered shoes
That tapped so lively as he made his way through
He was short in stature, yet a jolly old soul
I smiled at this man with a heart of gold
A wink of his eye and the raising of his head
Gave me comfort I had nothing to dread
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his task
Of reuniting pets and families, what more could you ask
He placed his finger over his lips
Shoosh he nodded, and disappeared in a zip
He leaped for his truck and gave out a sigh
And suddenly he disappeared into the night
But I heard him say as he drove out of sight
All the Katrina pets are home, and to all a good night
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
(Why I am FULL of posts today!)
I got my Latin final back. I got an 82! YAY! That's MUCH better than I expected. Now if I had just made a little more effort with the English to Latin I may have even ended up with a higher grade. Anyway, my final grade in the class was a 90- an A-. I am more than happy with that grade. I would have been happy with a B, an A is better. :D Now lets see how well I do on the other 2 exams.
Well I have finally found the two things I dislike about home ownership.
At this point I am not sure which I dislike more. My pocketbook would say taxes, my whole body says Ice. It's awful this year, my sidewalk is COATED with the stuff, in some spots up to 2 inches thick. I spent 3 or 4 hours shovelling it the other day. I'll have to finish that tonight.
I don't think I have even been so darn nervous about something. I head out to New Orleans on Friday night. I think it might be the drive that scares me most. 22 hours. UG.
Today I went up to employee health to get my tetnus shot updatated. (Me WILLINGLY going to get a needle- WTF?) Unfortunatly they only have the combination type with the Diptheria in it. I will never have DP again, not after the last one- I will not walk around with my arm 4 sizes too big. Ok maybe it wasn't 4 sizes bigger last time, but still, not worth it.
But I am excited too. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will REALLY be making a difference. A dog fed, a cat rescued, a loved pet found, an owner tracked down. I think one of the things that makes me nervous is money. I don't have a lot and I know that my taxes are due in the beginning of Jan- this is a trip that I really can't afford, but it's too important to me.
We'll see :D
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Money comes from the devil. I swear it. It doesn't matter how many times I get myself to the top of that heap, I always get side swiped off by some money issue. I work 2 jobs, I try to do good deeds, what do i need to do to stay on top?? I mean I FINALLY own a house, jumped through hoops and I was stressing a little about my taxes and making sure I had enough when they were due, and being able to afford to go to New Orleans.....
And today I went to court. Against my Slumlord. I was prepared, I had all my paperwork proof. Until he lied. Said he fixed the problems. The judge and the law of course are always on the side of the landlord and thus I need to find 1000 to pay back rent. Not only that, he has the GALL to tell me that he is keeping my deposit because of the damage to the house. OMG That damage existed before I moved in!!! What the hell was I supposed to do? The judge said that because the landlord bought the house in that condition it is not his fault (like me complaining for 5 months is not his fault).
*sigh* Now I need to decide, do I pay and just get him out of my life (and if I pay, where do I find the money) or do I counter sue and risk loosing??
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Why is it that no matter how much I give I always wich I could do more. Some days I hate having to go to work, not because I hate my job, but because I feel like there is a better way I COULD be spending my time. I've been doing friendly visits with the hospital for a year now, and have recently been working with Stealth Volenteers trying to reuinte animals with their owners after Hurricane Katrina, with the Aids Society serving diner, and so many other small projects. Over Christmas I am heading to New Orleans to do Animal recue with ARNO.
I KNOW I am doing everything I can... I mean I have to work, I have to afford my bills, but I really wish there were more hours in the day and thnat I was able to do more things.
I am watching extreme Home Makeover and each story I see makes me cry. Each thing I see, it makes me want to jump up and do something about it. I know that each time I step up and help with something I am making life better for one person, but there are so many out there that needs help. I really wish I could do so much more.
So many projects so many things I want to do.....
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Wow- I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I blogged. So much to say- so little time.
First the landlord. The case got thrown out of court because the paperwork was wrong. So my landlord pormptly refiled. I go back Dec 14th to fight against having to pay any back rent. Wish me luck!
But- I now own a house all my own. It hasn't sunk in yet that the house is mine, although my bank account is certainly feeling it! Between paying for school and the deposit, I have a lot less left after closing than I expected, but at least I am in and can work on building equity instead of throwing my money away. It feels so GOOD. I do know that I MUST go get a snow shovel, my driveway is the only one in the neighbourhood not plowed/shoveled. Plus I need to find a supply of pellets for my pellet stove. I have a weeks worth, but Home Depot didn't have any more and I don't want to run out. Actually ownership doesn't feel TOO much different than renting, except that I don't have anyone to call when I have a question about something in the house (like why the basement bathroom light doesn't work, or why the draining system is dripping).
As for school, it's going well. I have my first final tonight and my second one tomorrow. I am very scared about my Latin exam (tomorrow). I am sitting right on the A- B+ cusp and if I fail this exam..... well I won't be getting an A. There is just so MUCH to memorize. I have to be diligent over the break to keep studying so I don't forget everything I've Learned.
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