Friday, October 28, 2011

Decisions, decisions...

The park district is doing some health incentive program where if you get blood drawn, you get a $25 gift card. When I signed up, it seemed like a great idea! But now it's 5:30am and I'm starving and I want caffeine and I have to fast until 7:40am. I signed up late enough that I could drop Kaylin off at school before my appointment. It was a bad decision! Everyone keeps teasing that the only gift card left will be for Sports Authority. We don't even have one around here! I'm going to be ticked if I waste my entire day off with a caffeine withdrawal headache and get stuck with a Sports Authority gift card!

Tomorrow is my 39th birthday and I'm sort of upset about it. My goal at my 38th birthday was to use this year to figure out what to do with the rest of my working life. I mean, I absolutely LOVE my job and the zoo, but it is an extremely physical job that I seriously doubt I will be able to do for more than the next 10-12 years. And only that long if I'm very lucky. There is little to no opportunity for advancement or even movement to another department, so if I want to keep my full time status I need to remain a zookeeper. My feet have been terrible for 2 1/2 years now and I'm tired of being in pain all of the time. Logically, I KNOW it must be easier to switch careers at age 40 than at age 50. At the same time, I love my job and know I will never find anything I like as much. Do I continue working until I am physically unable and THEN try to figure out what to do? Or do I plan ahead and find something else and possibly regret leaving the job I love years before I have to? I could walk out to get the paper and have a tree fall on my head or get diagnosed with terminal cancer or drop dead from a heart attack at any time. Is the gamble to follow logic or to continue working in a dead end job?

I procrastinated making any decisions because it seemed so likely that Gene would be transferred to a different city and that my choice would be made for me. It seemed logical to wait a short time to be in the new place before returning to school or especially job hunting. It's still possible he'll be transferred in the next year or two, so why make any huge decisions now? AAAHHHHHHH!!! Because I'll be a year or two older at that time! I don't know what to do! I know I WANT to stay at the zoo but is that a smart decision?

Screw it! I'm going to stay and see what happens. I bet almost nobody gets to have a job they love as much as I love mine. I'm not going to stress over the what ifs! I'll cross those bridges when I come to them. I'll continue to do what I can to help my feet and maybe they'll get better. Maybe in the next 10 years I can figure out something else to do for the park district when I'm too old for zookeeping. It couldn't be worse than working at Pizza Hut. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekend Update

Almost two weeks without a post... Two very bad weeks at work that I can't detail on a public forum have kept me busy.

Willow is getting slightly bigger. She's still tiny, though. Her new favorite thing is play fighting with Tiger. Rather than just playing with his tail, she now likes to boop him in the face. He tolerates it for quite some time and then when he's had enough he flattens Willow with one lazy paw swipe. She, of course, is raring for more. The cats are often curled up together and seem to like each other's company. Duncan, on the other hand, is a pain. He likes to carry Willow around and slobber on her head. He appears rough sometimes, but she usually doesn't back down. Either he's not hurting her and she's brave or she is very stupid. Willow knows all the hiding places Duncan can't reach. Willow's still a little purrball. Right now she's curled up in the bend of my elbow, purring and kneading my shoulder. She's adorable!

Otherwise, we've been keeping busy with school events and Howl-Zoo-Ween. Last night was Taste of Lindbergh. I had been dreading the crowd and the overpriced food. It turned out to be a really neat event. Food tickets were 50 cents each and most food items were a buck. I bought $10 worth of tickets for Kaylin and me, thinking it would never be enough and we stuffed ourselves. They had a baked potato "bar" for a buck! Cups of Culver's custard for a buck. The food was good and cheap. There was also a carnival with games, a bounce house and a balloon twister. Zoe was there so Kaylin had a blast. Logan was sick yesterday so he and Gene stayed home. At first I was jealous they got to skip it, but I think they would have enjoyed it. Next year...

Last week was the chili supper and book fair at Logan's school. I always love book fairs, but this was my 7th chili supper and it hasn't gotten any better. It has supposedly been catered by Alexander's Steak House in years past and by Famous Dave's this year. Mmmmm, right? Wrong! I guess when it comes to mass quantities of cheap hot dogs and chili, even the best restaurants fail. At least it's only once a year!

Hahahaha! Gene and Logan had Five Guys last night and Gene saved me the leftover fries. I was munching on them while writing and Willow wouldn't leave me alone so I gave her one. Tiger was also begging and Willow had to pass him. She made this sort of quiet, but horrible noise and I panicked she was choking. Nah, she was just giving Tiger a warning "yowl" to stay away from her property. A pathetic, weenie sound that sounded more like a man trying to clear his throat quietly. Tiger didn't even glance at her.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Craft Shows

After a week with us, Willow is fitting in nicely and I have no regrets about bringing her home. What can I say? Baby animals are some of my favorite things and kittens probably top that list. Willow and Tiger are often curled up together and Tiger patiently puts up with her "attacking" his tail multiple times each day. Duncan can be a little rough, but he's patient when the kitten explores his food and that is a huge relief. The worst thing I've seen so far was Duncan carrying Willow around by her scruff. Willow didn't seem to mind at all and it was so cute and funny I just wish I'd gotten a picture. I was laughing too hard to effectively yell at the dog to put the cat down. The kitten was not harmed.

One morning I was in bed with giant Tiger lying on my right shoulder and tiny Willow almost on top of him. Both were staring into my eyes and I realized that despite the fact that Tiger is at least ten times bigger than Willow, their ears are nearly the same size. I hope those ears keep growing with her and that she has ridiculously huge ears as an adult, too! Willow is adorable and she makes all of us very happy.

I just realized that in the past month I've been to more craft shows than I've been to in the entire rest of my adult life. Kaylin really enjoys them and I enjoy taking her, but I found that without her along, it's a flashback to my childhood and I don't enjoy them at all. The craft show at the Pumpkin Festival was a novelty. It was in a fairly small area with lots of people, but not so crowded you were brushing arms. It was fun to look at all the stuff and marvel at how many different people make blown glass pumpkins (that all look pretty much identical to my untrained eye) and especially how many people make hair clips for little girls. We went to the Art Guild show on the riverfront and enjoyed it for what it was, but found it WAY too high class for what we would ever buy. Kaylin and I went to a craft show in Chillicothe that one of my zoo coworkers was in charge of and we actually bought a few homemade cards and some stuff from the bake sale. All of these things were enjoyable time spent with my daughter.

My dad picked up the kids for the day Saturday and I had the brilliant idea that Gene and I should check out the Spoon River Drive. I hadn't gone since childhood and figured it could be a fun way to spend a beautiful day. I thought Kaylin might like it, but knew Logan would probably hate it as I'd hated it at his age. Farmington was the closest major entry point so we headed there. We must have passed 100 garage sales on the way! We stopped at a flea market just inside town. It was sort of fun, but we didn't buy anything. We headed on into town and stopped at a craft show in a park. We were starving and got some good pork chop sandwiches, a spiral cut deep fried potato and an apple dumpling. The food was great, but the park was packed with people and the craft tents were not fun. I would have happily ended our experience there, but we followed a line of cars to a large field just outside of town to the GIGANTIC craft sale that nearly killed me. Rows and rows of junk, cheap t-shirts, handbags and crafts of all kinds. Sooooo many people, sooooo much crap. Yes, I remembered why I hated the Spoon River Drive so much as a child. Next year I will happily skip it.

One last thing- I took Duncan to the dog park for the first time and was thrilled with how well he did. Lynne and I met there at first light Saturday morning. Duncan can be so stupid with other dogs I was a little worried about how he'd act around Lynne's two basset hounds. He played and played, especially with Max. Daphne is older and more interested in sniffing everything than playing, but she's very good natured and had no problem with pesky Terrier Boy. Two other dogs showed up before we left and Duncan did well with them, too. The dog park is all the way on the other side of town so I probably won't go regularly, but it was great to find out that I CAN take Duncan if I want.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Saturday morning I needed to pick up a few groceries at Aldi and get some flea medicine for Tiger at the vet's office. Kaylin loves Aldi because it's a quick trip and I always cave on buying her cheap baking supplies. When Logan heard we were going to the vet's office he decided to come along so he could look at the kittens.

Big Hollow usually has a cage full of kittens for sale. They spay/neuter, test for feline leukemia, give first vaccinations, deworm, vet exam and sell the kittens for $100 apiece. It turns out to be a really good deal because all the same services on a free kitten end up costing at least $300. I'm all about adopting from shelters, but baby kittens at shelters are soooo likely to have upper respiratory infections or other illnesses that can be $$$ in vet bills or even be fatal. The Big Hollow kittens are unwanted litters that would otherwise be dropped off at shelters. Anyway, going to look at and play with the kittens is something the kids and I love to do. We have done this many, many times and have always walked out without a kitten. There was absolutely no plan to bring home a kitten on Saturday. The kids knew that and I knew that.

We walked into the packed vet's office and immediately plunked down by the kitten cage. There were 5 or 6 kittens of many colors and hair lengths. There were two kittens who were awake and playful. One liked to claw and bite, the other knew how to keep her claws sheathed and understood how to mouth and not bite. She was tiny compared to the others, but incredibly spunky. We played through the cage and waited and waited our turn. I finally got bored and pulled the kitten out of the cage. The second I touched her she purred like a little motor. She was perfectly comfortable with the bustle of many large dogs around her. She was happy to be turned on her back. She actually seemed to enjoy being passed back and forth between the kids. She was the perfect kitten!

Now, we certainly did NOT go looking to buy a kitten, but it wasn't a complete impulse buy either. Kaylin asked for a kitten for her birthday. She made an adorable kitten box and was terribly disappointed when I said no. I recently asked Logan what he wanted for his birthday and he said the number one thing he wanted was a kitten, though he knew that probably wouldn't happen. I strongly believe a pet belongs to the family, not to an individual. There was no way I could get a kitten for Logan's birthday when I had refused to do the same for Kaylin.

The vet's office cleared out and my turn at the counter finally came. I got Tiger's flea stuff and asked one of my former coworkers if I could take the kitten for a weekend "test drive." They were only open another hour and there was little chance someone else was going to swoop in and buy this kitten before Monday. She said sure, laughed at me and sent me on my way. So long, sucka!

We spent the rest of Saturday making sure the kitten would get along with Duncan and Tiger. Tiger was amazed at the tiny fireball, but didn't get too worked up about it. Duncan was excited and had many bouts of paw on kitten back and nose in kitten butt. Overall, he was pretty good and far more gentle than I could have imagined. He's a little jealous, but he's too independent to care deeply. Oh, and of course we had to run the new kitten by Gene. He acted annoyed, but couldn't help almost immediately falling in love with the weensy furball. She will be staying.

After many hours of suggestions and deliberations, we settled on the name Willow. It was just something we found and liked. It also goes well with the Warrior (series of cat books) names Kaylin wanted. Right now she's Willowkit. When she's 6 moons old she'll be made an apprentice and her name will be Willowpaw. When she is ready to be a warrior she'll receive her warrior name which will be determined by some outstanding feature like WillowWhisker or WillowHeart. If she doesn't grow into her ears she'll be WillowEars.

Everyone should come see her while she's still tiny. Seeing this dinky 1-2# kitten next to 20# Tiger is hilarious. This morning I was eating breakfast and reading the paper. Willow came and meowed and meowed to be picked up so I grabbed her and put her on the table. In a split second she had her entire head dunked into my cereal bowl. This cat may like food even more than fatty-boy Tiger! I don't think she'll stay tiny for long.