Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Excellent Adventure

Yesterday, off I went, with Barcellona, the benign laid back and grateful black smoke older boy from the Stayton trailer park.   He has bad teeth and needed them taken care of before he could move on with his life.

He's enjoyed the last week, laid out in a cage in my garage, listening to me babble at him through the cage wire, as I take his litter box out to scoop out soggy litter or clumps of poop.  He had a space heater aimed right at him.  Barcellona, who has never in his life had anything easy, curled his paws and stretched out his lanky thin legs to absorb every bit of the warmth from that heater.  I knew that heat flowing out and into him would cost me in the electric bill from hell but I didn't care right then.  I'll worry over how to pay that later.

For now I drew great content from watching Barcellona love the heat.

Barcellona, who has never had enough to eat on a single day, gulped wet food, can after can, no matter what flavor in the can I popped open and deposited into a large shallow dish as he watched intent, and happy.

I like Barcellona.  He's not a problem cat, he's a grateful cat and a laid back cat, from the shadows kitty, now out of the shadows which can be awkward and frightening.  He's been noticed.

How do you act, so you don't blow it, when you're freshly noticed?

What did he think when I closed the small carrier door on him, and loaded him into the car yesterday morning, so early the birds grumbled in the arborvita behind the empty house next door, for the disturbance, as I backed out, headlights on, exhaust steaming out of the cold engine into the rain wet air.

Everything was ok on the drive, as I stared ahead, keeping my lane, like some zombie, painting between the lines.

Then I headed west, towards the coast, out of Portland's daze of a city waking to the first dawn in a week where ice or snow was not clogging its crucial arteries.  And up I went, towards the first summit, the taller one, in the 3000 foot range.   I chugged through dense fog, pouring rain, slush on the road, some ice, passed a snow plow, dodged tree debris broken and ripped from the bodies of trees by a viscious wind.

But I didn't see another car headed my way and it was smooth sailing at least in that regard.  I was still going slow and dodging the debris.  Until I see a line of red light pairs ahead.  'Damn,' I thought.  I was so close to 101 and the coast I could smell salt in the air.

It was dark.  The line of cars was long and since I'd seen none in my drive over I figured they'd sat there in that line awhile.  I had no cell reception bars.  there is no cell reception across the coast range.  The wind was howling.  I could hear trees in the dark, beside the road, popping and branches falling.  Made me nervous.

Finally an ODOT truck came by and rolled down the window to talk to the man ahead of me.  The ODOT man said "I'm sorry for your luck," and grinned, setting the man at ease.  He had to be in Astoria by 8:00 and was not going to make it.   The ODOT man told him to take 202, that at least it was open.  I stepped up and said "where's 202?"  And the man ahead of me said "Follow me."

I followed him.  Maybe I should have asked him first how long it would take to get there via 202.  It took awhile, maybe 40 more minutes, on a long windy steep narrow road, just the roads I like!    It was an adventure.  I saw places I've never been before.  They were beautiful.

I thought, "even if I'm too late and they won't take Barcellona for surgery today, this is great!"  That's what I was thinking.

Well, they did take him, because they're that way there, practical and not judgmental nor do they want to mess with people or make their lives harder.  I like that about them.

After I dropped him off, I headed out to the south jetty parking lot.  It was very windy and often poured down rain.  The wind would shake the car violently.   I slept awhile in the back in my sleeping bag. I read.  I made some soup on my sterno stove.  I went to the Peter Iredale wreck beach and watched the sand blow across the parking lots.

I picked up Barcellona at 4:30.  They had to do the poor guy last because he tested positive for FIV and they throw out the equipment they use on FIV cats.

The drive home wasn't as bad except for dense fog coming down from the first summit, the tall one.  I stopped at my friends place to leave Barcellona there in her garage in a nice cage, bigger than the one he'd had at my place.  He'll be spending his days with Odd Cat Out, I believe in her hospice room and its warm.  Barcellona will like that.

And finally, at about 9:00 p.m., I was home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Warm up Today Maybe?

Today, or was it yesterday, we were supposed to warm up and get torrential rains.
But no, sadly.  Today is cold as ever.  Even freezing rain was once again predicted for the valley and Portland.  I ignored the warnings, and headed out this morning early to Salem with two cats to be fixed.

I trapped them yesterday at a Tangent trailer park.  Took all day to get the two unfixed ones, and lots of back and forths to check traps and let out Mystic, at one point, because she is already fixed.

I trapped two of the teens back in November.  They were both girls.  I named them Mystic and Flanders, but the caretaker has other names for them.

The mom cat, strangely, is a long hair Siamese.  She is gorgeous and likely once was owned.  The woman feeding her is taking her inside her house this evening, once home from the clinic, in hopes of turning her into a house cat.

I caught the final teen late in the afternoon.  She calls him Molly, but I think Molly is a boy.  So on the records I fill out for the clinic, I changed it to Mister Molly.  The Siamese is called simply Mama C.

Mama C is gorgeous!

Mister Molly.  I'm betting he's a boy!
Here are photos of the two teens I trapped and took to be fixed a couple months back.


They have grown a lot since then.

No freezing rain at least today, but the ground is still frozen and it is still cold and so far, no torrential downpours either.  It's hard to know what to expect.  Sometimes it seems like the weather people are full of drama and long for severe weather.  But then they did miss the forecast on how much snow Portland would really get last week, by about 8 inches!   So under stated forecasts and over stated forecasts have left me in a state of predicting local weather by walking outside.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

No Warm Up. Three More Cats in Bathroom.

Well there was no warm up today.  We're going to have permafrost here pretty soon.  The ground never unfroze.  The poor robins hopped around hoping a worm would pop through the frozen ground, looking ragged and hopeless and disappointed.

I went up to the county park, to pick up the three cats the laid off camp host wanted to relinquish.   I met her in the parking lot of the boat ramp, then she was allowed to park her RV over where she used to in hopes its presence would bring in the one unfixed teen muted torti.

I parked next to her RV and laid out the drop trap line to the prop stick on the trap and ran it through my cracked window into the car.    I filled a dollar store cake pan with dry food and topped it off with wet food and tuna.

Wasn't two minutes before Tokyo ambled out of the berry vines to eat.  And eat. And eat some more.   Then it was Gracie, one of the camp hosts cats, but she can't carry them all in her RV when she has to go park it somewhere for the night, and is afraid they'd get out, so she left Gracie and a couple others of hers, all fixed, for the night in the park.   She'll have three fewer now inside, so maybe she can take the ones left out tomorrow into her RV.

She was on the verge of tears the entire time she was there, over giving up the three, and no doubt over having no real home currently.  I felt bad for her.  I didn't know what to say.  I know how that feels.

She says she's lucky to have an RV and everyone should because everyone is not that far from homelessness.  A house fire.  A job loss.  A huge medical bill.  And boom, on the streets, but if you have an RV, at least you don't freeze or get drenched and can sleep in comfort and have a stove to cook on.  You don't have to beg someone to sleep on their couch for one night in from the cold and wet.

She left to go find somewhere to park before dark.   I stayed.  I'm that way.

I saw every other cat but the one I was after.  It was so dark I had to blink a flashlight on and shine it through the cloudy steamed up window to peer at the drop trap, 30 feet from me, and try to make out what cat was eating under it.   But the bait soon began to freeze not long after I'd refresh it (they ate tons), so it was time to go.

I called her up to find out where she was parked so I could go pick up the two kittens, Susie Q and Simon, and Darkly, the huge boy.   I found her in town, and hugged her and took the two carriers with the cats inside them, that I'd handed her earlier.   She was teary eyed again.   But brightened when I told her about the rescue who was taking them, that they adopt out bonded pairs together, so the kittens could stay brother and sister and together.

She even had their records.  She thought she'd lost the kittens' records.  I got them fixed November 3rd.  Darkly was just fixed, the 29th of December.

They're set up in my bathroom now.  Darkly loves it.  He's a really really long cat, sleek, a house panther.   Soft fur.  Delightfully loving.

The kittens are tired and want to sleep.  All seem quite healthy.

Little Simon at four months of age.

Susie Q

Big old Darkly.  He's such a love and so beautiful!

A camper gave her Darkly.  They'd had to keep him in a kennel in their rig, she said.   So he has been very happy with the camp host for a couple of months now.   Susie Q and Little Simon were found in the berry vines.  I'd taken Gracie, a brown tabby female, to be fixed and it turned out she was lactating.  But so was every other female I took in.   Brought her back, told the host she was lactating and to watch for kittens and the next day Gracie came out of the woods with Little Simon following her.   I guess Gracie was upset, kept meowing, and then led other campers visiting the camp host into the brush where she showed them four more kittens.  I was told the four found were not even Gracie's kittens, although who the hell knows, much smaller than Little Simon, but I don't know.   They were all girls except for Little Simon and all tortis.

They grew up inside her RV.  She gave three of the girls away.  I got two of those three given away fixed, and the other one is in Sweet Home and I have a line on the people's number now so I can get her fixed, if they agree, make sure she never contributes to the overpopulation problem in our county which is quite severe and tragic.

She was going to keep Little Simon and Susie.  But she can't now with her circumstances, and realized she couldn't handle it.   So they're here.  Along with Darkly, the good natured sleek male.  But they won't be here long.  They're going up to Felines First Rescue.  That's a good person who gives up something she loves so they can have a better life.  Took this video of Darkly in my bathroom a few minutes ago.  He is one adaptable kitty!


Cabin Fever!

The cold outside lingers, but I hear today the warm up may begin.

I'm cabin fevered!   I watched the netflix series OA and enjoyed the first season.  I find it poignant and charming.

I finished reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  I enjoyed every minute of that book.  I didn't want it to end.   It contained so much wisdom.  The book's secondary plot is a study of the economics of change and in particular, the devastation wrought on little people by bank ownership and control of land and housing.  A banks ability to throw people off property, and even to manipulate the prices of commodities by holding loan threats over farmers, who then must bow down, to survive, and cast their own woes onto the backs of workers, desperate to eat, with slave level wages, are eery echoes forward to today's world.

I enjoyed especially Chapter 11's essay on what becomes of the houses taken back by the banks, then by the land itself, after the tenants are forced from it.

There was also a chapter, told with Steinbecks' delightful genius, about a diner along Route 66, the route many of the dispossessed migrants took, from their former homes, to the promised land---California.

If you succumb to Cabin Fever, during this endless freezing winter, pick up Grapes of Wrath and read it with half a mind to events today.

I've cleaned and cleaned and slept and slept and looked out the windows again, to see if maybe its warmed up and the cold has eased, still in pajamas, fresh from a package, because my brother bought me some for Christmas, but they're way too big, so big the pants cuffs cover my bare feet when I try to walk and hang off me like a sack and the sleeves hang down off my arm and cover my hands.

I wear them though because it reminds me somebody thought about me, wearing those sweat pants for ten years at night, same ones too, and got in their car and went to a store, and fretted for awhile over which ones to get, what might fit, what color, what material, this set or that one, and finally settled and stood in line and paid and went home, and wrapped them up in Christmas paper after pulling the old rolls from last year from the back of a closet, tied a ribbon around the pretty paper, decided it looked o.k. enough, remembered to put the package in the bag in the car, on their trip, when they stopped on their way, to say hello, and finally set the package in my lap with a grin and a "We hope you like it".

I wear them with certain warmth provided, that has nothing to do with the material they are made from.

One of these days I'll sew up the hems to fit proper.  One of these days...

Maybe now that I finished Grapes of Wrath and everything's cleaned four times over.

I've been caring for Barcellona, from the rural trailer park, whom I trapped and got fixed but then was told by the clinic he had severely bad teeth.   I knew he couldn't go back like that.   But he's got a vet appointment next week and afterwards, a new place to call home.  It's just waiting now, and chatting with him, (he's in a cage in the garage), and hoping his lice die off soon, because he can't even be in my bathroom til I'm sure they're all dead.   But they'll be dead by week's end, he'll have had his vet care and he'll be gone too.  In the meantime, I pamper him and baby talk him, and feed him everything he will eat.  I can tell he's gaining weight fast too.   Maybe he's 7 lbs already now instead of the 6 he was at fixing.

I've been trying to tame these stubborn three girl kittens from the Albany colony too.  I moved them to the foster cage.  It's Arizona, the black tux, being the hold out, the tough girl.  That kitten loves to play!!!   Rum and Jamaica are coming around, but will they ever be tame enough to go to a shelter to be seen, to be fallen in love with, to find homes?  Panic sets into me.  I don't want three more cats here for life.
Rum, she's getting big

It's so hard.  People don't get involved around here much.  Hard to find anyone that might help with taming that hasn't already been overwhelmed.  If you're willing to help, immediately, a zillion people want you to help them right now.  There's just too few involved!

I hear its going to warm up all of a sudden and it could melt all the snow out there in the Cascades and the Coast range all too suddenly and all that rain we're supposed to get plus all that run off could mean floods.   Ok.   That's just fine.   If the weather people are even right.  They're so often wrong I'm not worried.  I won't worry about that til it happens.  Or doesn't.   Only a few more months til the too short summer.

I just got a call, a cat call.   Unfortunately, the camp host who cares for the county park cats, got laid off.  She's still feeding the park cats, but has to park her RV along streets til she can get back in, to pay camp, and she's overwhelmed by too many rescue from the county park in her RV.  She's wanting to give up the two kittens born in the berry vines that she has, Susie Q and Little Simon, plus Darkly, the sweet male I took to be fixed just a couple weeks back. I got the kittens fixed too.

I told her I'd come get them.   I know she can't handle them all and I'll help her but I got to find somewhere for them to go, so they can get homes.   I wish the big shelter in the county would help more.  But if I tried to get them in there, it would cost money, a lot of money.

Susie Q from the county park now needs a new home

Little Simon, Susie Q's brother, needs a new home too

And Darkly needs a home.  He was left by campers and helped by the former camp host and I got him fixed a couple weeks ago.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Catching Cats Between Snow Storms and Monsoons

What is with this winter?   First its months of pouring rain that never ends.  

Then we get the deep freeze and snow, more freeze and more snow.  Monsoons for the last two days, just absolute drenching, and this as the last snow turned to deep freezing slush before melting.  The air was heavy with cold moisture.  Miserable!

I woke to more snow today, not much, not like Portland.  Portland got a ton.  Way over what was predicted.

At least those ten cats were fixed from Lebanon Monday and on Monday I went up to the rural trailer park where there were supposed to be so many unfixed cats and waited, six hours worth of waiting, to catch merely 3.  The others are long fixed. Most anyway, but it is very hard to see once dark hits, ear tips among the many black tux cats and black and white cats, to know who is fixed and who is not fixed.

The trailer park is horseshoe shaped, like many I've entered, to trap cats.   But this one is a very tight horseshoe, with trailers on either side of the U shaped road that goes through it, coming in and coming out, that road, to the main street, the in and out driveways merely 30 feet apart.  there are about four trailers down the middle too, between the two sides of the horseshoe.  And everybody has cars and tries to cram them in off the road somewhere.  

This makes parking almost impossible for an outsider or visitor, let alone a trapper who needs to yank the string to pull a drop trap down over one unfixed cats among a zillion already fixed ones.

Fortunately my car is tiny, and I was able to wedge in behind another car parked along a tiny 5th wheeler, where an entire family lives.  Talk about the tiny house fad.   Only these folks live this way because they can't afford to live otherwise, not out of choice.

I caught a few already fixed cats in traps I set at random and then gave up on that.  It would only prolong the misery there for me, by setting the cats on edge, get them suspicious.

A huge male the tenants there call Hitler, because he has a thin black mustache across his massive white face and is mean as hell itself, came ambling through, spray marking every inch of his probably huge territory.  He was not interested in the trap.  Except to back up to it and spray it down.   That boy is on my list, you better believe!

It turned dark quickly and poured down rain off and on.  This made it hard to even see the drop trap through the windshield.  An old man feeds the cats beneath the overhang of his small fifth wheeler.  That's where I set up the drop trap, because it'd be dry, out of the rain.   I was wedged in behind the the little blue car one fifth wheeler down from there, trying to watch in the darkness, no light even near the trap, and the pouring rain.
Took this after I first set up the drop trap while it was still light out and before the weather turned nasty.   Blaze on the left, fixed male, was abandoned there.  Then two already fixed black tuxes showed up.  There were many of those.
It was also freezing.  By the end, I had to get out of the car, not easy, being wedged so close behind the other car, to keep the circulation going in my freezing feet.   By the end, I was trembling off and on, from the cold.   I'd get out of the car then, and run in place.

I caught a black smoke male.  Then I caught a known female, under the drop trap.   All 3 I caught, I caught after dark.  I held out longer, and caught a long hair gray male.

That's when I decided I was done, gathered the equipment and left.   Six hours is long enough.  I was told about a very productive female but never saw her.  I did see another female who needs caught and then Hitler who only briefly made the appearance when I first arrived.  

The three were fixed yesterday.   Later about 7:00 p.m., the Lebanon woman brought back my ten traps and cage covers from yesterdays load.

But when I picked up the three cats (I named them Barcellona, Madrid and Ginger for their records) at whs, I was told Barcellona, the black smoke male, was only six pounds and had bad tartar and pockets by teeth, meaning his mouth is infected and he needs dental care.   So he can't go back, at least not til that's done.  Would not be ethical.  Now what am I going to do, I thought.

I set him up in a cage, and he immediately wolfed down 3 cans of food.   'Hmmm,'  I thought, 'he sure is hungry when he feels no pain.'   He was still feeling good from the pain meds he got during surgery.  Wonder what he'll be feeling like today.  

I have somewhere for him to go if he's tame and somewhere for him to go if he's feral.  I just have to first get his teeth fixed somehow.  I hope without travelling all the way to the north coast clinic.

I was going to return Ginger and Madrid this morning but now the snow all over, not bad though, but nothing I want to drive through to return these two cats.  The roads to their home are very rural and narrow.

Got to roll with what we get here.  I'll set them up in cages and return them when the roads clear.

Meet the cats fixed yesterday....
Barcellona.  I will get a better photo today.

Ginger, a little girl, but she's had litters.  Fixed yesterday.

Madrid, a big very handsome boy, fixed yesterday.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Ten

I did not get up to Stayton to trap the trailer park cats for my ten reservations today.  The roads were too bad.  Yesterday afternoon, the messy slushy icky thaw began.

Snow is beautiful until it all melts at once, with rain coming down too.  The street looked like ice sheets between dirty snow laid out long in rough lumpy ridges thrown up from tires, but when I tried to cross it, to check the mail, my shoe fell through the crusty layers, into 3 and sometimes 4 inches of ice cold water beneath.

I switched out footwear to my water proof boots.

I took my pointy tip shovel and ran the tip down the driveway, pushing with the handle, to take off the snow and let the ice beneath melt faster.  I cleared a path, with that same shovel, as rain fell, along the curb, where water was boiling as it tried to escape the neighborhood to the river, through the storm drain, but was clogged in ice chunks and impeded in heavy slush.

As the snow melted from the roof and drained down into my gutters, waterfalls developed along their lengths, in a dozen spots.   At the curb, I cleared ice from the spot where the underground drain line dumps the water to the street so the downspouts would not back up and so then the gutter water could flow freely down them and into that line and what had been snow on the roof, now water, could race back to the river too.

I'd found a solution too, through my typing fingers, and the computer, for the unfilled reservations of today.   A Lebanon woman needed cats fixed from the sheep barn and her barn and a couple other neighbors feeding offspring.   She brought ten down last night in the back of her truck, in cages and huge kennels.

We first brought out the wire crate from the back of her truck and put it in the back of my car in the garage.  Two cats with wide eyes darted back and forth, scared.  I got into the car then, closed the doors, and transferred the two girls out into live traps.   For the next four cats, who were in a huge crate in her truck, we both climbed into her truck, using a plastic step stool to get on the tail gate, with a horse blanket across the bare metal to ease the pain on old knees.  She held the flashlight, while I pulled cats forward into the traps I'd taken into the back with me.  I had on my headlamp.  Some of the cats snuffled and sneezed.

Then she brought a big carrier with three cats inside into my garage and put it in the back of my car and this time she went in, closed the doors, and pulled each out and pushed each then into a live trap.

And lastly she had a single kitty in one carrier and easily put her into a trap, but in my car, to be careful, just in case the cat panicked and got away from her.

This morning she came back down from Lebanon to ride with me to the clinic.   She wanted to see how to check in, and where, because then she could take them up herself should more show up and they seem to there, she said, as people leave them behind, or they just arrive.

It was pleasant to have a human passenger.  She's a nice lady and we chatted on and on about this and that and everything on the ride up and on the ride back.  She'll pick them up this afternoon and I'll get my traps back from her in a day or two.

I was overjoyed that ten spay neuter reservations were not wasted because of a little storm and some bad roads that prevented me from trapping at the trailer park.

Here are photos of the cats up now being fixed:










I'm very grateful for the shelving I got using some gift cards and for the new lightweight small traps.   See how easy now, clean and efficiently I can hold cats in traps?

Today, along with the misery of the slush and rain and cold, a vengeful wind roars through the valley.

Summer is a longing in my soul.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Storm


I didn't know whether to cancel trapping at a distant trailer park for early this morning or not.   A freezing rain event was to go through starting near 10:00 a.m.   I hate to waste spay neuter spots I had to get over a month in advance.   I had 10 reservations in Salem Monday for those trailer park cats.   In the end, I called the Stayton trailer park cat caretaker and cancelled, and it was a good thing, storm came earlier than expected and freezing rain began to sputter down just after 7:00 a.m.

For over an hour it was freezing rain.   The hummingbird feeder would freeze over within 20 minutes of me unfreezing it.  I don't know how my one hummingbird has survived nights in the teens.

Now its turned to snow.  For awhile it snowed hard in huge fat drifting flakes that were mesmerizing to watch.

There's not that much snow and its given traction to the concrete of my sloped driveway and the asphalt of the street.  I have not ventured out in my car and won't, but others on the block finally have.  The mailman faithfully drove through too.  Nothing stops the mail.

Freezing rain is far worse than snow.  Now that its snow, everybody is breathing easier.  But its supposed to return to freezing rain, that will lodge down inside the loose construction of snow and then all will freeze, I fear.  One big fricking sliding rink then.

But for now its all quiet and pretty, all of life dampered down and pure and so few cars out one could pretend easy enough to not live in a crowded city along a packed to the max freeway.

So I'm drifting in and out of sleepy dreams today, pretending.

Ice this morning

At noon now its snow

This morning it was ice coating the street. 

Snow now, nice and powdery, good traction