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Her name is Annie. I get the sense that always was her name, since Jill and Shannon immediately saw her as an Annie once I proposed the name. So yes, my glorious, prancy, big, sweet mare answers to Annie now.

Just to be clear, this is not her namesake

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Neither is this:


Here is Annie's namesake:



Annie Sullivan was Helen Keller's teacher for 49 years. She was a badass, devoted, brilliant, kind, cutting-edge teacher. She is Annie's namesake.


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We went for a little ride today.

First, we practiced circling the mounting block until Horsie was standing still and lined up. Then we walked by the sign that scared Horsie yesterday. She totally ignored it. Good girl! We walked by Kermit and Bella and practiced focusing on the ride instead of their requests for attention. Kermit and Bella thought that sucked, but I sure was proud of Horsie for ignoring them. Then we saw some scary horse mats on the ground and walked over them. We circled Robin's field and then made our way home.

We were both feeling pretty proud:


Horsie is so great! I like her so much!

She needs a name though -- any ideas?
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I've been quiet for while, I know, but I have a *really* good excuse.

I was adopting a horse!

A horse! A big, glorious, sweet, young, prancy-sometimes, beautiful-always, wondrous, miraculous horse.

Here she is, as I led her around the field for the first time:


That was Saturday, the day Shannon and I drove out to Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue to pick her up. It was about an hour and a half each way, and on the way back, I kept looking back to see her head through the trailer window. The breeze picked up her mane and jostled it about and I couldn't really believe that it was all happening so quickly, but I guess you just know when you find the horse who makes sense to you.

Her racehorse name is My Ex-Girlfriend. Bev (from the rescue) found her at the New Holland auction, where she had been mauled the night before by a stallion who got loose. Since My Ex-GF was tied with nylon, she couldn't get away, and was covered with cuts when she went through the auction. Instead of going to the butcher, Bev bought the mare and, after running her tattoo, realized she was a granddaughter of Seattle Slew! (Son of Harry the Hat, for those of you into great-event-horse-sires). She was never raced, which is good news in my book.

After a few weeks to recover from her most serious wounds, Bev posted her photos on facebook. You can see that she's still pretty dinged up and thin from her previous life. But after a few months at Mid-Atlantic, my future as-of-yet-unnamed horse put on some weight and settled into her life with a herd of rescued mares.

A few weeks ago, I saw her on the site and liked her face. I kept going back to her and, after I presented my paper in Buffalo, I made an appointment to see her on 1 July. She was very herd-bound and freaked out if she had to be in a stall, but I sure did like riding her. Here we are:



I knew she was great for me, but I made myself wait overnight and called Shannon, Jill, and Alyssa to list everything I could think of that was bad about her: she freaked out in a stall, she pulled on the lead, she was completely herd-bound. They all pish-poshed my concerns and reminded me that these were problems we could deal with. Plus, Horsie (as I call her until we think of her forever name) was very low on the pecking order, so she'd be great with any of the horses, and she had a nice disposition, and I would get a voucher to cover $200 worth of training.

So I wrote Bev to say YES I WANT HER!

After a vet check, where she was most certainly a big handful of a girl and the vet said she needed to learn some ground manners and gain confidence, she was cleared for adoption. And then it was Friday night and Shannon called to say the brakes weren't working on the trailer and we might not be able to get her, and then a few hours later, she called to say Matt had installed brakes on another truck with another trailer and we were off to get my new horsie.

When we got to the farm, we carefully led her into her stall, ready for drama. Only there was
...none.

She whuffled a hello to Kermit, angled herself up to the fan, and settled right in. No drama there.

So we introduced her to Kermit and Bella, ready for drama. Only there was none.

So we put them out in the field, where there was some splashing in the creek and some running around, but then she settled right in like this was all normal and no big deal at all.

Since then, Kermit and Bella have decided to pace the fenceline, pining away for Sasha and Grace, who are in the barn for the next few days, but Horsie is out in the field, eating grass or hanging out in the shelter, undisturbed by the drama unfolding around her. So much for herd bound.

Today, I went out to do the morning feed and Horsie went into her stall like it was a peaceful oasis, ate her grain, whuffled hello to Grace, and then let me tack her up and go out for a teensy little trail ride around the riding ring. Then we went back to the barn for a bath and some scritches before retiring to the upper field with Kermit and Bella.

Tomorrow, we'll maybe walk around the perimeter of the upper field. Maybe we'll trot around the ring a bit. Then I'll give her another bath and scritch her mane (she likes that) and give her lots of carrots and tell her how wondrous it seems to me that I should get to have a horse like her in my life.

It's been an awfully painful few months, filled with loss and grief. I still expect to see Rosie in her field when i drive up to the barn. I still can't say goodnight to all my creatures because I can't bring myself to say "Spirit Rosie" instead of just "Rosie," but I went to see her grave today and felt peaceful and ok with it all. Rosie would want another horse, bound for slaughter, to live the sort of life Rosie lived.

So it is with great joy that I tell you that I have found a new companion, a big, glorious, athletic, sweet mare who is already enjoying the sort of life she deserves.

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My college boyfriend, Joe, died very suddenly of a pulmonary embolism on Friday night.

Unlike when Ethan died, a mutual friend from college tracked me down and called me that night. The next morning, Josh IMed me from Iraq and we talked about Joe and how shocked we were to learn of his death. Clay has kept me updated via Jesse, who found out about the service this Wednesday from Joe's wife.

Joe was the first man I dated after Ethan and I broke up. He was beautiful and almost-annoyingly brilliant and intense and kind. I loved Joe with all the ardor and desperation of my youth.

I loved him more than I had loved anyone before and more than I have loved anyone since. It was a complicated relationship, my first unwitting and naive foray into open relationships. Neither he nor I were equipped to handle the situations we faced. I know that a good part of why I loved him so much more intensely than anyone else is because our love was so completely saturated with pain and confusion. When you're young, you think there's a correlation between suffering and love. When all the suffering had past, however, I found hidden in my marrow a deep love for a kind and good man.

I also loved him so deeply because we were in college and I was more wide open than I am now. I have since loved people more maturely, more sustainably, more sanely, but I have never -- will probably never -- love someone so much that I cannot hold still with it.

Joe, even now, 20 years later, I can feel as a sense memory, and I never really got over it or him. I would have done it all over again and sometimes I regret the loss of that naive willingness to leap, empty-handed, into loving another person because doing so led me to someone like Joe.

Our break-up was terrible; we betrayed each other completely. I never saw him again.

But in the years since, our lives had the occasional strange overlap, like when a woman in MA recognized me at a bus stop as "the woman who broke Joe's heart" five years after I graduated college. And when I tracked Joe down and sent him an email saying how sorry I was for the things I had done.

He wrote me back and said that he, too, was sorry for the things he had done. In the days leading up to his marriage, he went back to my dorm and cried and said goodbye to me and that part of his life. That was the end of our correspondence, but I always hoped that someday, we could find a way to be friends.

Then time moved on, and then the awful news on Friday that he was gone.

There's a lesson here about making amends - and probably about letting go too. There's a lesson about how quickly and randomly a life can end. There's a cautionary tale about love and the ways your college sweetheart (and high school sweetheart) can leave memories laced with memories even after you have grown older and wiser.

There were so many ways that Joe was wonderful, and when I'm ready, I'll write about them or talk about them. For now, I feel a heavy grief in my chest. Growing older means that you will have friends who die young. It hurts; it hurts.

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Right about now, one month ago, Rosie died. A few hours later, my mother and sister arrived at my house to take care of me.

When Lydia said they were driving to Philadelphia, I said they didn't have to; I would be ok.

I actually thought it when I said it. Just as I meant it when I told Shannon and Jill that I could drive myself home from the barn. Fortunately for me, none of them believed me.

I had already felt the terror of Rosie struggling to get up and not being able to, of seeing her lie back down and start to jerk her legs as if trying to run. I had felt the hope that she would get up and then the horrible realization that she was going to die. I had pleaded with the universe not to take her away from me, pleaded with her not to die, and then understood that pleading would not make any of this stop. And I had gone as quiet as I could as she seized one more time and then was suddenly dead, there in my arms with my head on her still damp from the rain shoulder.

When Shannon walked in, I had done my sobbing and gasping and felt my head spin with grief. Then I had pulled myself away from Rosie's body and fed the chickens and helped shut down the barn for the night and let Shannon drive me home. During the drive home, I felt calm. Stupidly, for a few brief moments, I thought I was ok.

But I wasn't, and as I walked to my house from Susan's apartment, and saw my mom there on the steps waiting for me, I think I said, "Mom" and started sobbing so hard my legs buckled.

My mom and I don't tend to be physically affectionate. We greet each other in the European style: a kiss on each cheek. But in the middle of the night, when I found myself crawling around my bed because I couldn't get my skin to stop burning and prickling with the pressure of grief, my mom showed up in my bed and leaned back on the bedboard and held me in her arms.

For the next few days, she and Lydia didn't leave my side. Lydia slept with me and they sat with me on the sofa and stayed by me when I napped. They took me to see a movie and out for dinner and did my dishes and read magazines on the sofa. I oscillated between a sort of dry-eyed grief and terrified sobbing.

Since then, my grief has become a dull ache, and I mostly feel it in the form of my grasping heart. It clutches at things, desperate for love; it feels like this hollow, sucking void, and I want to fill it with love for people and animals and newly sprouting vegetables, even as I know that none of these things can satisfy the grasping. I'm trying to remember what it is to value people and animals and things on their own terms, instead of as salve on a wound, and I know I will have emerged from this next stage of grieving when everything becomes itself again, but until then, for today in particular, I've remembered what it meant to have my mom and sister there with me during those first overwhelming, hollow, burning days of grief.

I never planned to have children, and in many ways Rosie was both the love of my life and my most demanding child. Losing her has opened a chasm in me and as the immediate grief subsides, I look at what remains, and I count myself blessed to have a family that comes to me in my times of need, friends who have been so kind ot me, new people who have not shied away from the awkwardness of someone who has lost her greatest love, and even plants and animals, who just keep being so vibrantly alive.

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I taught my last class of the semester yesterday. I really liked that class, but I was ready to be done. Next week, they have exams and then I have to grade the exams, but then I get a few weeks off before I begin summer school. During that time, I really need to work on this talk I'm giving in the end of June.

Instead, I watch a lot of Scrubs on netflix (I just started season three) and go to Susan's house for dinner, and try to talk myself into a more steady frame of mind. That requires a lot of effort.

I've continued to go to the barn to help with horsecare, but started taking weekends off (unless Shannon's on call or they need me to cover). Jill just offered to cover my Tuesday morning feed, since she goes to the barn to ride anyway. I felt ambivalent about going down to three days, but realized I really need those extra mornings to work on that talk, particularly since my brain remains so muddy.

I've also been thinking a lot about fostering a rescued horse. I contacted the woman who writes Fugly Horse of the Day, and she recommended Angel Acres. I'm not sure if they're looking for foster homes, and I wouldn't be able to foster a horse until July at the earliest, but I wrote the woman who runs it to see if fostering is even a possibility. I can't imagine adopting another horse right now, but I think Rosie would like me helping a horse in distress get fat and healthy.

Just about everything in my life is in a holding pattern these days. I don't know what's going to happen with various friends whose lives are in states of flux, and I don't know what will happen next for me. I sure wish I could know that everything's going to be ok.
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The grief is always just around the corner. I can feel it, lurking.

People have been so kind to me; that has held me up. I still need to write about some of the wonderful ways people have been there for me.

For the past two days, I've managed to stay on a pretty even keel. That's my goal: nothing too extreme, don't dwell on thoughts that will push you into grief and panic, have my feet "go mechanical around," as Emily Dickinson put it, "on ground, or air, or ought"

The thing is, doing what my body wants to do -- collapse, sob, lie there as vacant as I can be -- doesn't help me, doesn't help Rosie. It surely won't show anyone any more clearly the certainty and clarity of my love for her. So instead, I try to keep my grief this cold thing lodged deep in the bottom of the lake. The rest, I let ripple across the surface.

But I feel like my mind is in a split screen. One side is me, going through the day, being functional and doing the things I need to do. The other one is me, still trapped in the moment when I realized that this immense being I loved with all my heart for more than half my life was going to die and there was nothing I could do about it.

I didn't cry at that moment. Noises came out of me and there were not noises I'd ever heard come out of me before. I could hear myself making them, but I wasn't crying.

And then I heard Shannon walk into the barn just after Rosie had stopped breathing and I had my head on her shoulder and my arms around her neck, and that's when I could feel myself start to cry. The primal moment of absolute grief had passed.

It returned at 5 that morning. I was crawling around my bed on my hands and knees, making little noises and feeling my skin burn, and then I was sobbing while my mother held me and my sister rubbed my back. And then the valium kicked in and I slept.

The moments after are less terrifying, because the other parts of my brain started functioning. But they are more complicated because I'm aware of myself and the people around me. I'm watching myself grieve and I'm watching myself function at the same time that I am still trapped in that moment of absolute panic and grief.

And I know that this respite is going to pass and it's going to hurt and I'm going to have to continue to do what I'm doing now: survive, find moments of grace, look at all the people who have reached out to help carry me through the parts I cannot survive on my own.

I know we all suffer losses, and they are all terrible. And I suspect I should lock this post because it shows the ugliness of my aching heart, but I see no reason to be ashamed. I loved Rosie for twenty-two years and now she's gone, and it hurts so absolutely, even as I muddle along through the rest of the days of my life.

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Grace lost her bootie today, so I walked around the field to find it. A woman drove by and paused to open her window. "I'm afraid to ask this," she started, and I said, "yes, Rosie died on Friday."

"My daughters and I were so worried that's what happened," she told me. "We hoped she was just in a different field. We really loved Rosie." It turns out this woman had been visiting Rosie when she walked her dogs. Rosie would come to the fence line and visit with this friend I never even knew she had.

Then, Kermit came up to me in the field. He put his head up against my chest and just held it there. Kermit never does stuff like that. He also isn't that keen on getting lots of petting, but he let me stroke his neck and face and we just stood there. After he returned to his grass and I started to walk away, he came up to me and did it again. He misses his friend. We offered each other condolences.

Since Rosie died, so many people have come out of the woodwork to reflect back my love for Rosie. Strangers I never knew have told me they read my blog to find out about Rosie. A friend's sister wrote me a long email about the death of her own horse and about how she had been keeping up with Rosie through her sister.

I realized today that Rosie has been my friend for more than half of my life. Twenty-two years, we were together one way or another. That is longer than any relationship with anyone not in my immediate family. But I'm not the only one who feels her loss. Rosie was a tough girl and she touched and inspired more people than I had ever realized.

And that's the second unexpected gift in this painful time: Rosie was loved; Rosie moved people; I wasn't the only one who saw her magic. She was just herself and people loved her for it.

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I went to the barn for the first time since Rosie died. I wanted to see the horses and I told Shannon and Jill that I would continue to do the weekday feeds and be available to cover on weekends. I can't leave them in the lurch, but I also realized that I couldn't imagine not seeing Grace, Kermit, Sasha, and Bella regularly. I loved Rosie with the absolute certainty of gravity, but those other horses - I love them too.

It was like seeing horses with new eyes, or with the eyes I had in childhood but had forgotten about until that moment. The horses were these breathing miracles, the sun shining through Kermit's long winter coat, causing it to shimmer in a fuzzy halo, Grace's almost-black solidity and chiseled head, Sasha's dramatic head tossing and prancing, Bella's determination to get that bit of grass almost out of reach on the other side of the fence -- I saw it all as if for the first time. It's not that I'd forgotten, exactly, but I had let that amazement fade to the back of my mind as I focused on keeping the barn clean and the horses safe and healthy.

After I took my first riding lesson, I remember kneeling by the pony who had trotted me patiently around the ring as I tried to post and slowly brushing her legs, transfixed by their delicate perfection. When I first met Rosie, I was again transfixed by the intricate perfection of her body. I daydreamed about her, examined her every detail, tried to memorize her.

And then there were the recent years, with their medical dramas and terrifying injuries; there were the possible surgeries to face; there was the not-knowing if she'd ever recover fully. There was also the petty stuff that comes up when three women share the enormous job of tending to our creatures. And today, when I saw the horses with the eye of a ten year old girl for the first time in years, all of the rest of it fell away.

I never expected that gift amidst sorrow that has buckled my legs and woken me up in the middle of the night in a full-fledged panic attack. I never expected to smell hay or see little flowers growing or admire the glory of horses, and losing Rosie woke me up both to what I lost and to how lucky I was to have had it in the first place.

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My dearest Rosie died very suddenly last night. I was there with her and could tell her how much I loved her as she drew her last breaths. This morning, she was buried beside Satin. I'm here with my mother and sister. It was a very rough night. I'll write more later. For now, it's all I can say just to tell you that I lost someone I loved with the absolute certainty of gravity. Without her, I don't know what to do.

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Originally posted by kylecassidy at post
Are you an artist? Do you want to see your work hanging in a gallery? Do you want to help homeless cats find people who love them? If so you're in luck, because City Kitties is seeking donations of art for their 2011 art show. This is their biggest fundraiser of the year, bringing hundreds of pieces of art to a thirsty public. It's very well attended and I'll have stuff hanging there, so, you know, we can say we had a show together.

The deadline for getting art to the gallery is April 15. If you're not an artist you can still donate money or time. It'll be a fine fancy event.

here's my piece from last year with it's new owner.









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Rosie's eye looked ok today. She's not very anxious (which is another symptom that her vision has been compromised) and there's only a little bit of tearing. I'm hoping that whatever was bothering her last night has passed, but these things do tend to come and go, so we're not out of the woods yet.

Then, I noticed that Linda (one of my original chickens) was walking with her toes knuckled under. She settles herself down a lot, too - like she's not eager to walk on that foot. I took a photo in the hopes that some of you chicken folk might have some ideas. There's a little bit of hard thickening like bumblefoot, but not much unless you really look for it. She'll let me move her toes around, but it's like she can't control them anymore and they just curl up naturally.

Here's a photo:

Linda is one of my three remaining original chickens, which makes her around 10 years old. She's very good at being a chicken and I want her to be happy. I worry that this is the beginning of the end for her, but hopefully that's just me fretting and she'll recover from whatever happened.


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The vet came out yesterday to give spring shots and check Rosie's leg again. I hadn't been to the barn for three days and maybe that space of time is what caused me to notice -- or maybe Rosie just improved a lot during those three days -- but her gait was significantly less dramatic than it's been. She still pulls her hind leg up more than she should when she's moving, but it's not coming up nearly as high as before. This is a VERY GOOD THING.

I don't want to get my hopes up, but we'd been talking about complicated diagnostics and surgery for this gait problem, so if it can resolve on its own, then I don't have to get a tightly wound blind lame horse onto a trailer and drive her to New Bolton, which is a load off my mind. So here's hoping things continue to get better.

The other good news is that the injury is officially healed over. Meagan even said Rosie doesn't have to wear a bandage. Of course, I got all freaked out at the idea of this hard earned new skin splitting, so I re-wrapped her anyway and am going to wean her off the bandage a little bit carefully. Tonight, she'll spend the night either in her stall or the paddock with no bandage. Then, if all goes well, maybe she can go out in the field like that.

It's been a long road, and we're not out of the woods yet, but yesterday sure did bring a bit of good news.

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On my way back from the barn, I saw a dirty hairy little dog running north on 49th Street. About twenty feet behind him, a woman clutching another small dog was running and screaming. Worry not lady, I'm a Cat Lady! I stopped my car right there, in the middle of 49th Street, just south of Walnut, and jumped out of the car, cooing, "here doggie doggie doggie..."

The little dog stopped, looked at me, and then started to trot right by my car, toward the busy intersection. So I ran after her and tried to cut her off before she got hit by a car. Somehow, I managed to intersect her and she turned back around and started running south again.

By then, the woman with the the little dog had caught up and some other guys had come out from the nearby businesses and houses. Cars were slowly driving around my car and by the dog, and another man stopped by me and just waited there.

The little dog ducked under an SUV and we all circled the vehicle, calling her and yelling to each other about where she was heading. Finally, she got close enough to a man, who scruffed her and pulled her into his arms.

It turns out she's someone's pet who has been missing for a few days. Happily, one of the women knew the owner and was on the phone to her as we slowly made our way back to our cars, homes, and businesses.

As I jogged back to my car, the women shouted after me, "thank you lady!" and I shouted back, "anytime!"

I love this about my neighborhood in Philadelphia. This little pocket of the city can be dicey and there are abandoned buildings and some chaos in the streets, but when a little dog is running through the streets, people come to her rescue.

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Guess who's giving a talk at the 6th International Conference on the History of Alcohol & Drugs?

Me! 

Yippee!!!

(ok, now I just have to write the thing)

(and don't let the "international" fool you; the conference is in Buffalo)

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Things have been frustrating with Rosie. Her wound is *finally* starting to heal. For awhile, it was just sort of stuck, healing from the top, but stymied at the bottom. It looked like her skin was growing in on itself and Olivia (the vet) was starting to talk about skin grafts. More recently, however, the wound has started to heal horizontally, and I can see progress every time I do a bandage change.

Here's a photo from 7 February:

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The problem is Rosie's gait. She still walks like she has stringhalt (the way she did in that last video I posted). She picks up the injured leg all the way so that it's up against her belly and then she slams it down. Stringhalt seems to be a neurological and/or mechanical problem. We have no reason to believe Rosie's problem is neurological, but if it is mechanical, then her lameness is less a pain response than it is the result of tendons and muscles not doing what they're supposed to do. Olivia showed the most recent video to the sports medicine people, who were inconclusive. There's talk of diagnostic procedures that might require Rosie to go to New Bolton, which terrifies me because she's almost completely blind and hates getting into trailers.

I spoke with Meagan (the vet who helped us through the eye injury and has been following the case) and we came up with a plan, which makes me feel better because I much prefer plans to confusion.

We've already tentatively ruled out inflammation, since a course of banamine did nothing. Despite this, I'm going to start Rosie on BL Pellets, which have Devil's Claw and Yucca, which are both supposed to be good for inflammation and pain.

We're going to do another x-ray of Rosie's leg to see if the bone spur has healed. If it has, then we can rule it out. We might do an ultrasound if that can show us any sign of tendon damage or stringhalt (which is, in part, related to tendon/muscle damage).

We're going to wait for the original injury to heal before we do anything drastic, like bringing Rosie to New Bolton or doing more invasive tests at the barn.

Surgery is not out of the question, particularly since (if she does have stringhalt), you can do that procedure standing. Meagan agrees: waking up a blind horse is not a good idea if you can avoid it.

Finally, I'm going back through the entire record of Rosie's injury and creating a time-line. Maybe there's a clue in there - some event that we aren't remembering. Once I do, I'll post it here to see if any of you horse people see something I'm missing.


And since I know you aren't just following the Life of Rosie, here is an update on the other horses:

Sasha is fine, as usual. He's our one (mostly) normal horse.

Kermit is the same as ever - slow and careful in this cold weather, sometimes stiff. He's the oldest horse at the barn (27, I think), so that's all normal.

Grace got over her case of cellulitis and then burst an abscess in the foot of the leg that had celluliis. Poor Grace! She's still very sore, but much better than before. She had been looking a little better, and was down to 1 bute a day, but this morning, she was very sore and tried to bite my foot when I asked her to get up so I could clean her stall. I cleaned around her, since foot-biting seems like pretty clear communication to me.

Bella's spectacularly disgusting injury is healing really well. There's much less discharge and she moves around like nothing is wrong, although she makes "squish squick" sounds when she walks.

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Originally posted by kylecassidy at Something You Can Do: Windermere Cats Update
I'll keep this brief. There is something you can do even if you live far away. (Latest update from City Kitties here.)

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There are several people you can call, email and fax. The building is still scheduled for demo on Monday, so the only way we can stop it is to raise a ruckus.

Sue Cosby at PSPCA is in charge of Animal Care and Control Team. They're the people the city has hired to (among other things) "remove animals from the premises of ... burned-out, condemned, vacant, or abandoned buildings"

The Pennsylvania SPCA
350 E. Erie Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19134
(215) 426-6300
info@pspca.org

Also, the owners of the building, Sam and David Ginsberg: Sam Ginsberg: 732.213.3088, David Ginsberg: 215.892.3043. They're probably not in over the weekend, but you can leave a message.

When leaving a message, calling, or emailing, be polite we want these people to help. We're asking that the building demolition be delated and animal rescue groups be allowed into the building to set traps and look for animals. These are people's pets which have survived a fire, 24 hours of high pressure hoses, and a month without being fed. Their people have been through enough already without having to imagine walls and debris collapsing down on a pet that survived so much. Also, when contacting ACCT or the SPCA we want to know how this is going to be avoided in the future -- it may be too late to save these pets, but we want to be sure this won't happen the next time.

The protest is still going on in just a few minutes. I'll report from there, you can check on twitter for updates.

Thanks. (& Apologies to everybody who's reading this blog for the photos -- we'll be back to normal as soon as possible.) "Official" up-to-date info will be at the City Kitties website.






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Getting to the barn this morning was a nightmare. About ten feet ahead of the driveway, three cars had gotten into an accident and no one could drive past. We were told we had to wait for the salt truck and then for the ambulance or we could "make a big loop around" to get past the accident, but be careful because the roads are iced over. The officer was unimpressed with my concern that such directions weren't very useful for someone who doesn't know the area and he was likewise unsympathetic to my plea to drive 10 more feet to Cooey's driveway so I could walk to the farm.

"You can't walk on this road," he said. Then he turned around and walked back to his SUV, indicating that our conversation was over.

Undaunted, I figured that this even smaller side road I'd turned onto must lead around the property and, eventually, to the farm, so I started down it. Only, as it turns out, the road was completely iced over. I was only driving, say, 5 mph, although "driving" is probably not the correct term, since I realized pretty quickly that my wheels were more sliding than rolling. Apparently, my brakes were no use. Nor was the parking break. I just sort of kept sliding. After about 20 feet, I stopped.

OK.

Rather than just sit there and feel helpless, I decided to leave a note on my windshield with an apology and my cell phone number and start the trek to the barn. Normally, it's not a very far walk -- maybe 10 brisk minutes. But since "walking" really meant sliding my feet against the ice, trying not to slip too far in one direction or another, I moved much more slowly and felt like a nomad in the wild boonies of Berwyn.

As I pulled up to another police car, the officer started to say, "You can't..." and I said, "wait! can't you let me just ask you for help first?" As it turned out, she was nice, and said she'd try to convince the salt truck to treat the road I was on. Then she said that she would seriously recommend against me trying to walk along this road.

I pulled myself up huffily and said, "I have to. I have to take care of the horses," which might not strike everyone as a moral absolute, but if you're a horse person, you understand,

Then I made about as awkward an exit as I've ever made. One step onto the road and I just started to slide. I held my arms out to balance, yelling at Mabel not to pull on the leash and wavered around for about five feet before I managed to stop by reaching down and grabbing at the snow. I ended up walking/sliding with my hands down against the ground to help balance. Eventually, after a few failed efforts, I managed to cross the street so I could start up the farm driveway, which is a very long driveway.

Just as I caught sight of the barn, after about 20 minutes of slipping and sliding, my phone rang. As it turned out, I was blocking Dave's road - Dave who came to my rescue when Satin went down last summer. Dave who built a tent over Satin and me so we could stay sheltered for the 5 hours it took for the vet to get there.

I offered to turn back, but said it would take me a good 20 minutes to get back.
"I'll just drive over," he said.

I pointed out that this was not a great idea, since I was essentially crawling up the driveway because of all the ice.

But Dave drives a jeep outfitted to off road because he does trail maintenance. So within 5 minutes, he was there.

He kindly offered to wait while I got the horses set up, which I did with lightening speed. Then we drove back to my car - not on the roads exactly, but sort of near the roads and through fields and stands of trees.

By the time we got to my car, we were lugging 30 pounds of aquarium salt to try to treat the road, and I had a very worried Mabel perched on my lap. I was pretty worried too. Would I have to sit in my car for hours until the ice melted? What would I do? I would be SO BORED.

But no. By the time we got there, the road had been treated and the ice was gone. I got in my car and drove back along those 20 feet as easy as you please. I sure was happy to feel my car go when I asked it to go and stop when I asked it to stop.

And I sure do owe Dave a nice bottle of whiskey.

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Paolo continues to be very sick. Normally, I'd write about Ramona being sick (which she is), but Paolo is just so much sicker. Both of them have upper respiratory infections, but Paolo has black snot all around his eyes and nose. I've cleaned it off, but his face doesn't stay clean long. He's wheezing and you can hear all the phlegm in his breathing. I've started him on a slurry made of high-calorie prescription food mixed with some tasty canned food. 

Despite feeling sick, he's starting to arch his back up when I pet him. Until yesterday, he just sat there stoically. This poor guy has been through so much -- dragging an injured leg through the sleet on Baltimore Avenue, living under the foundation of a building, nursing this infection. I comfort myself by thinking that if I hadn't pulled him out, he'd surely be dead by now. 

Ramona is feeling slightly better and spends her days in a circle bed on the table in my study, where the southern sun keeps her warm. She's wheezy too, but not as dramatically so. 

Until these two, my foster kitties have been reasonably easy keepers -- no sickness, no injuries, no FIV-positiveness. Now I've converted my two spare rooms into sick rooms, where these two kitties wait to feel better. I hope we find them great forever homes. After all this, they surely deserve them. 

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