Sunday, August 31, 2014

Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit

I'm female.  I'm single.  I'm in my forties.  I think I have fulfilled the prerequisites for cat collecting.  Last week I decided that it was about time I started making everyone's fear a reality.  I ordered the Crazy Cat Lady 6-pack starter kit.

The kit came complete with a momma cat, five tiny kittens, kitten formula, canned and dry food, baby bottle, cat bed, and kitten medicine.

Ok, ok, so they are just foster cats.  The pound put out a plea to cat rescues and cat fosters because they were overloaded.  Actually, they are always overloaded but I have an extra bathroom and I have been curious how my dogs would react to cats in the bathroom so I decided to give it a try.  The pound gave me a bunch of free cat stuff which was awesome because I don't really have much cat stuff left.  I only had to buy a litter pan and litter.  I still need a scooper because I thought I still had one but it disappeared.  

The dogs are behaving marvelously.  It is going better than I expected.  The cats are very quiet.  You wouldn't even know they were in there unless you looked.  Maybe they will get louder as they get older.  Twice a day  I change their linens, clean the litter box, feed them, and give medicine.  The kittens HATE the medicine.  The pound cannot afford the special tuna or chicken flavored suspension liquid so I have cherry flavored antibiotics and, I must say, giving cherry liquid to tiny kitten is much harder than giving it to puppies.  Those tiny claws are sharp and those kittens keep their jaws clamped shut.  

I will have the cats for approximately 6 weeks when they should be old enough to get fixed and adopted.  Poor momma cat doesn't have much chance to get adopted.  She is not the kind of cat that seeks attention.  Today I saw another plea from the pound for more cat rescues.  Next week there are 40 more cats coming in from a confiscation case.  That is in addition to the normal amount of cats that are dropped off daily.  I don't think the pound will be very excited when I bring my cats back but, for now, I am a temporary cat home only.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More Goodies for the Bathroom Remodel

Tuesday already.  Hooray!  Only 3 work days left until my 3 day weekend.  I have plenty of projects but before I get to those, just a quick update on my nephew.  I talked with his grandma and she seems confident that both boys will be able to stay with grandpa unless something happens to grandpa's health.  School started today and we will soon see if my nephew is able to keep up with his school work with everything else going on.  His aunt and uncle live 3 miles away and they will continue to help out.  So, I will stay on my mortgage repayment path for the time being and also make cleaning and getting rid of stuff more of a priority just in case I need to change my living arrangements quickly.  The weather is still hot here but October should cool down enough to go out to my property and start the clean up.

Last week, after I found out Home Depot didn't carry them in the store, I decided to order some Smart Tiles for the bathroom.  I got some extra for the kitchen too but I'm not sure if I like them yet.

Sorry, the lighting is very bad.  I think my light fixture has one good bulb left.  I can't wait until I can get that fixture replaces.  It is #1 on my list.

I didn't like the squares but this rectangular one looked ok.  As you can see, I was also trying out laminate flooring as a backsplash idea.  It was too dark for the kitchen.

I picked these blue squares for the bathroom.  I like them but the ugly 70's metal cabinet with yellowing plastic doors is throwing off the whole design.  I am either going to cover it and replace the doors or remove it and put a shelf there instead.  I'll need to add some storage somewhere else.

I also ordered tile paint and sandpaper for refinishing the bottom of the shower.  I tried vinegar and bleach and later, muriatic acid to try and clean the grout but it is pitted and hopeless.  I'm not looking forward to sanding.  Maybe I'll go back to painting the walls again.  I never got very far with that project.  

I'm excited to actually have the tiles.  They look much bigger online.  I'll end up taking some back and ordering more of the ones I like.  Maybe this will be the incentive I need to continue my bathroom remodel.  I can't use the tiles until I finish painting and decide what to to with the cabinet.  If I keep working on it I will get it done.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Tiny Dog

With everything going on, I think I forgot to introduce my latest temporary roommate.  After I survived my root canal I decided to reward myself by fostering another dog from the pound.  The people at the veterinary clinic said this little one needed 3 weeks at my house to fatten up.  I'm good at that.

I think she is a terrier-chihuahua mix.  Only 2 pounds, 8 ounces.  She is all bones.  She is too little to be in the yard by herself so I have to go out with her and keep a keen eye out for hawks and owls.  She has a limp and I am sure she looks like an injured bunny from an owl's point of view.  I even had a hawk swoop down for a closer look this weekend.

She gets along pretty well with my other dogs.  At first she ran away from me but now she wants to be in my arms all the time which makes the other dogs jealous.  She doesn't get to sleep on the bed either because my 2 guard dogs keep her off.

Someone already wants to adopt her.  I just need to keep her safe and well fed for another 17 days.  I will do my best.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Paralyzed with Indecision

Now that's a frightening title.  It isn't exactly true but it is kind of how I feel at this moment.  I received a very sad email from my nephew's grandmother.  Just to re-cap, I am my nephew's guardian.  He just turned 15 and last year he went to live with his paternal grandparents so that he could go to private school with his brother.  It seemed like a win-win at the time since being a single parent was very difficult for me (I was only a single parent for 6 months).  My nephew would have 2 adults looking after him and lots of family, cousins, aunts, uncles and family friends for support.  Unfortunately, his grandmother has cancer and the doctors only give her a few more weeks on this earth.  She has been the driving force behind this arrangement, cooking, cleaning, getting homework done, keeping the grades up, hosting the family get-togethers, etc....  Now, it is all uncertain again.  

My 2 nephews just can't seem to catch a break.  First, their father died when they were both very young.  Next, their mother died the following year.  Their maternal grandparents adopted them and all was well until grandpa (my dad) developed Alzheimers.  The oldest boy will be 18 years old in 5 months and the younger one has 3 years to go.  I was really hoping that their lives would not be turned upside down again, at least not until they were out of high school.  For now, both boys want to stay with their paternal grandpa.  We will just have to wait and see how it goes.  I told my nephew that he can come back here any time which is why I keep thinking about what I would need to do if he came back.  

First, I would need to change my address back to my property address because it is in a better school district and I need to be near a bus route to get him to school and back.  Then, I would need to decide if I am going to buy a replacement manufactured home, fix up the existing one, or do something else such as: 

I saw a park model home for $20k on a lot near my work.  Those are only 1 bedroom but they are finished inside.  I'm sure heating, A/C, and moving costs are extra.

A 24' x 24' garage with concrete pad costs $16k.  I would have to pay someone to finish it and do some myself.

A 12' x 16' shed costs $6k.  Concrete pad is extra and I would need to finish it.  I could get 2 and we could both have our own cottages.

The lowest priced singlewide manufactured home costs $50k.  This is the usual 2 bedroom model.  This is my least favorite option since depreciation is harsh on manufactured homes.

Additionally, I would need a used car with more seating capacity.  My preference is a Subaru Forester but anything in that style would be fine.  I need to be able to transport my nephew and his friends without stuffing someone in the tiny jump seat in my truck.  High school boys are too big for that.  Plus, we would probably be spending the weekends at my house in order to get it ready to be rented or sold and I need a car that can transport humans and dogs without anyone having to sit on each other.

And the last of the immediate needs would be the snake fence.  A 5' block wall of traditional Tucson yard size (I'm not sure what that is, maybe 20' x 40') cost $6,000.

Now, to pay for all this... I only have $15k available without borrowing from my 401k.  I would have to stop paying extra on my mortgage and switch to my "property improvement plan" which was supposed to come after the mortgage was paid off in 3 years or so.  That would mean $1500 a month for property improvements.  Maybe I should stop paying extra on the mortgage now and put it in savings just in case.  I probably won't though.  I can handle $6K shed + $6K fence + $1,500 in improvements at a moments notice.  Hmm...that just leaves the car problem.  Well, I have some more thinking to do.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mortgage Update for August 2014

Since I still can't chew on the left side of my mouth, I might as well talk about something that cheers me up like my latest extra mortgage payment.  $1,500 above and beyond the usual monthly payment went to the principle which brings the total down to $53,656.  It's getting close to the 40's!  Only 3 years and 1 month to go and hopefully less than that if I keep paying $1,500 instead of $1,200 extra.  As long as I don't have any major expenses, I can keep it up.

Luckily, I have enough money in my health savings account to pay for my current dental problems.  After speaking with the endodontist, he advised to get the crown done now to protect the tooth with the root canal and wait until January for the apicoectomy (a horrible procedure where they go through the gum and work on the root of the tooth).  The crown cost $886 and the apicoectomy will cost $1,250 and I only get $1,000 covered each year from my dental insurance.  Anyway, whine, whine, my teeth hurt.  Hopefully, this pain will go away by Monday or else something else will be wrong and I'll need some other expensive procedure.  At this point I am thinking that I could have lived with the cold sensitivity and done without this root canal.  Room temperature ice cream isn't really that bad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dental Procrastination, Not a Good Thing

Waffles.  What do waffles have to do with today's topic?  Nothing.  Today's topic is teeth.  Ok, so waffles have to be chewed so that makes them relevant, but not really.  I just wanted to show you a picture of the waffles that I made last weekend.  The extras went in to the freezer for future weekends.  I love homemade waffles so much more than store bought.

My teeth have been sensitive to cold for a many months now.  I wasn't sure which tooth it was so I just ignored it.  Then a tooth started hurting when I chewed.  I thought it was the same tooth so I called the dentist.  The tooth with the crown that I got in Mexico was the suspect but it turns out that I forgot that tooth already had a root canal so it couldn't be sensitive to cold.  My dentist said the tooth behind was the problem and he sent me to an endodontist today for a root canal (oh fun).  When I got there they tested the teeth and found that the back tooth was sensitive to cold so a root canal was in order but the tooth in front of it with the crown was sensitive to pressure.  The fix for that tooth is to cut in to the gum, put a filling in the root and sew it back up.  I had no idea they could do that and it sounds awful.

I decided to go ahead with the root canal because I was expecting that.  I survived and afterwards they gave me an estimate for the gum surgery thingy.  $1,100!!!  It seems that the cost of the root canal has drained my yearly funds for allowable dental costs.  I'm not even sure I have enough funds left to cover the crown that I need for the root canal tooth.  I'll be making some phone calls tomorrow to figure this out.  Maybe I can chew carefully until January when my benefits re-set or maybe there are other alternatives.  If I hadn't put off the root canal I could have had it done last year and then I would have enough to cover this years problem.  I'm always hoping my teeth will stop needing attention.  Every time this happens I am reminded why people used to just get their teeth pulled.  Implants are not in my retirement plan so either my teeth need to chill out or else I am headed for the inevitable dentures.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Prickly Pear Juice: The Easy Way

It seems like everyone in the gardening group is harvesting prickly pear fruit.  I thought I would have to steal some from the neighbor but when I was taking the trash out to the alley, I realized I had my own prickly pear and the fruit were ripe.  Just kidding about the neighbors although they wouldn't notice if I did take theirs because they are falling on to the sidewalk.

I have heard of people harvesting prickly pear fruit and then burning off the prickly parts, peeling them, and straining out the seeds.  It looked like a messy, labor intensive process and I wasn't interested in that much work.  Then, I read how to juice them the easy way from this website: Harvesting Prickly Pear

Pick, freeze, strain and I get prickly pear juice with barely any work plus it is fun to squish them as they thaw.  I managed not to get any on myself.  That's a colander lined with a piece of cloth on top of a metal pot.

After all of the fruit was thawed and squished, I was left with prickly pear blood.  Pretty color, yes?

The easiest way to store it is to freeze it in ice cube trays and then put the cubes in a plastic bag.

Now, what to do with it.  I really need to expand my culinary knowledge.  Prickly pear juice can be used to make syrup or jelly or added to drinks, most commonly mixed drinks or lemonade.  Someone said the juice tastes like watermelon and bubble gum so that is exactly what I thought of when I tasted it.  It is supposed to mix well with the tartness of lemonade and that will be the first concoction that I will try.  For now, I am thrilled that this experiment was a success.  I can now add prickly pear juicer to my resume.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Few More Weeks of Heat

It feels like Friday.  I should be Friday.  Maybe I should have taken tomorrow off.  Well, too late for that.  I just have to go and get it over with.  The next 3 day weekend is coming up in two weeks but I haven't used my August vacation day so I could have a 3 day weekend sooner if I want.  This has been a depressing week.  As my sister pointed out, Robin Williams died on the anniversary of the day my little sister became ill and she never recovered.  My foster dog got adopted but I didn't get an new foster dog because the vet wasn't there to tell me about the dogs in need.  I went looking for a mom and pups that needed a foster home but all of the puppies got sick and the few survivors were split up in to different foster homes.  I left with an empty truck and I was sad.  I'll keep watching the dog-in-need updates and see if there is a dog who will fit in my house.

We barely got any rain on my side of town this week.  It keeps going north of here and flooding the streets.  I'm still watering my garden with the hose.  I finally got some yellow squash.  The plants from the spring didn't produce anything but my new plants are producing lots of blossoms and 2 squash so far.  It is still in the 100's and still humid although not as humid as many other states, just humid enough to keep my swamp cooler from cooling under 80 degrees.  Only a few more weeks and the rain will move on, my cooler will work again, the nights will cool off and then I won't be able to use the heat as an excuse anymore, at least, not until next May.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Post-Puppy Calm

Aww...what a lovely weekend.  Too bad it was so short.  Do I say that every weekend?  On Saturday, I got up early and got ready for the adoption event.  It was really close to my house for once.  Usually they are at least a 20 minute drive.  The puppy got adopted (did anyone really doubt it?) and the terrier had a couple who will come to the shelter on Wednesday after her teeth cleaning appointment and adopt her.  I also have 2 more people as back-ups for the terrier if the first people don't show.  She was really popular.  The newspaper intern even took her picture and wrote down her story.  Maybe she will be featured.

When I got home I took down the puppy corner and cleaned everything, bedding, floor, put everything back in order.  Today was more laundry and organizing.  I told gave myself the goal of cleaning off 3 places where I often put things on a temporary basis and then never move them again: the end of the counter, the table by the pantry, and, the worst place, the dining room table.  I had boxes and plastic packaging from my mother's phone that I bought 7 months ago and from my own phone bought 5 months ago as well as numerous, pens, markers, knick knacks, gum and mints.  My recycle bin is over-flowing.

I waited all week for the rain that was promised but none fell on my side of town.  I think the rain is promised for Tuesday or maybe Friday.  Hopefully, some time this week.  This week has 2 after work errands so far.  Grocery shopping and dropping the terrier at the shelter on Tuesday.  Other than that it should be a pretty quiet week.  Just the way I like them.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Foster Dog Update

This week seemed like it took forever but I got a lot accomplished with the foster dogs.  On Monday I took my 3 puppies to work with me and I was going to smuggle them in to the back room but our engineer offered to puppy sit so I set the puppy pen up by his desk.  They were very well behaved and didn't make much noise or much of a mess.

After work we had a vet appointment and all of the puppies got an A+ for health.  The next day I had to get up early to take the puppies and their mom to get spayed.  The mom got rejected because she was still lactating and I had to take her to work with me.  It is very early to spay puppies at 8 weeks old but there are 1,000 animals at our county shelter and they need to get adoptable dogs in to new homes as fast as they can since new animals are coming in everyday.  A couple of my co-workers think it is cruel to split mom and puppies at 8 weeks but that is the usual age to adopt out dogs from breeders so I don't think it is cruel.  My co-workers haven't seen the conditions at the shelter and they aren't willing to foster any animals so I shouldn't let their opinions bother me.

After work I went back to the shelter to drop off the mom who was getting adopted later and to adopt out 2 of the puppies.  I only have one puppy left which isn't ideal because she misses her playmates.  I am letting her sleep on the bed which means I get to get up 2 or 3 times a night for potty breaks.  That is preferable to listening to a lonely whining puppy all night.  She went to work with me this week too.

One co-worker likes to torment my puppy and she learned quickly not to trust new people.  The other coworker came in and remarked that the puppy was hiding and decided it was because she should have been left with her mother for 10 weeks instead of 8.  Sigh.  Maybe if certain other people didn't torture my puppy it would be more trusting but, gee, I don't know anything about puppies.  This is ONLY my seventh litter of foster puppies.  Whatever.  Puppy is getting adopted tomorrow, I just know it.  We are going to the pet store where some of the other shelter dogs will be waiting for new homes.  I'm bringing my other foster dog along to meet people even though she can't be adopted until Wednesday.  I am hoping to come home puppy-free and then I will take a nap!

Here is a video I made last night of my foster dogs.  The white one usually snaps at the puppy but she was being tolerant that day.  Foster pups playing

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What's Growing Now?

The high today was only 90 with occasional rain.  It was a wonderful day to putter around, pull weeds and inspect my little plant minions.  I am looking forward to cooler about 4 weeks or so.

Here's my red bird of paradise, the desert type, not the tropical type.  I love this plant because it loves full sun and not much water and provides shade.  I have tomatoes in the pots.  I was supposed to transplant them somewhere but I have enough tomato plants and I don't know where I would plant them.  The bougainvillea, to the left, can take lots of abuse including having its leaves chewed off twice by some unknown assailant.

These are (were) the geraniums I bought myself for my birthday because I thought they would be easy to grow.  I should have bought Mexican petunias instead.  Maybe it is just being in pots that they hate.  It is awfully hot to be in a hanging pot.

My little watermelon plant is climbing the fence.  I didn't realize they climbed.  I should have planted this months ago.  No baby watermelons yet.  I don't think there is enough time for a watermelon to ripen even if one appeared.  I must remember to plant them sooner next year.

My moringa tree is finally planted in the ground.  Planting the seeds in the ground did not work since my dogs dug them up.  Planting them in pots first and transplanting has been successful so far.  It is sensitive to frost so I will have to protect it or let it die back this winter.  The gourds were planted late.  They still have 3 more months to make gourds.  We shall see if anything appears.

This is a bit hard to see but I planted some Hopi Red Dye Amaranth.  The leaves and seeds are edible.  I hope to plant more next year so that I have more seeds.  I have read they can be popped like popcorn or ground in to flour.

This is my baby plant nursery.  I have 3 desert willow trees and 3 red bird of paradise.  Maybe I can trade them at the next plant exchange.

The pomegranates are looking good but I had to take some off because the poor tree was leaning.  They still need 6 or 8 weeks to ripen.

Another moringa tree in my big pot.  I planted purslane around it.

And this is the wild patch of purslane in my yard.  I learned from the gardening group that it is edible and nutritious but I still haven't done anything with it other than nibble on the leaves.  I really should align my eating habits with the food that is cheap and available like purslane.  I'll put that on my to-do list: Find recipes for weeds in yard.

This is my newest patch of garden.  The pole beans are climbing the fence and the squash is blooming.  The squash planted in the spring didn't produce at all.  I know people joke about planting too much zucchini but I don't have that problem.  I would be thrilled with any zucchini at this point.

My favorite sunflower in a pot of horse purslane.  I learned the difference between purslane and horse purslane this summer.  Horse purslane has round leaves, the other has oval leaves.  Turns out I have both in my yard.  The quail like the horse purslane so it is good for something.  Plus, I like the look of it.  Anything that is green without thorns or thorny seeds is welcome in the yard even if it is a weed to many people.

The sweet potatoes are taking over.  I ate sweet potato leaves 3 times and now I am sick of them.  I desperately need new recipes for them.  What's the point of growing vegetables if I won't eat them?

Only 2 tepary beans remain.  I had dreams of boiling my tepary harvest but now I will be lucky if I get enough beans to plant next year.

The tomato jungle is still going strong.  Pruning tomatoes is optional in the desert.  Many people don't prune to give the plant some built in shade.  I am reluctant to prune because I know the tomato worms will find me soon and will do the pruning for me.  That's the lazy way.  Why prune and pluck worms when I can do nothing and those 2 chores will cancel each other out?  

And lastly, another popular weed that I have learned about from the garden group.  This is a green variety of amaranth.  Once I found out what it looked like I just wandered around the yard until I found it.  More free greens to eat.  I really need to attend a 'how to cook with local weeds, I mean, plants' class.  All this free food going to waste.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up

The week started out pretty well. I took a day off on Wednesday and visited with my sister and parents.  my father was even in good spirits.  They had a baby doll at the care home and my father was talking to it as if it were one of his grand-babies.  He was talking in complete, understandable sentences which is amazing for him.  He cannot usually find the right words to say.

The rest of the week went by quickly.  Thursday felt like Monday so I was happy that Friday come so quickly.  When I saw the puppies in the morning, the little gray one wasn't jumping around as usual.  I brought him to work and was very worried about him so when I couldn't reach anyone to make an appointment for me with the vet, I just drove there.  Luckily, I was there before their surgeries started and the vet was nice enough to look at my puppy.  I left him there and went back to work.  Unfortunately, I got bad news tonight that my puppy didn't make it.  I don't know what was wrong but he was the weakest of the 4 puppies and he had already had kennel cough and pneumonia and he was only 7 weeks old.  I hope the remaining 3 puppies can find good homes soon without anymore emergency vet visits.

I don't have any plans for this weekend which means I get to do my favorite thing, putter around the house and yard and do whatever I want to do.  Pull weeds, do laundry, take a nap, play with the dogs, watch Dr. Who, and hopefully, not spend any money.