June Update

The school year has ended! Yay! I can hear the deep sighs of parents and teachers everywhere who NEVER want to do virtual learning again.

We made it through the year and are now working on plans for next school year and all that will come with it. For me, this means something a little more this year. Starting July 1st, I will have a new job. Same district, different job. A promotion opportunity came open and I applied for it even though I didn’t think I had a realistic shot. It’s more than a step up for me, and a higher profile position than I thought they would give to a new administrator but … I got it, and I am super excited about it. This position does mean I’m leaving middle schools, but it’s okay. I will still work closely with my current boss.

The change of jobs means I’ll be working longer hours and 12 months. School vacations will now mean pretty much nothing to me as my days off will not be tied as closely to school schedules as they have in the past. I have a lot to learn, and a lot of work to do, but I’m excited. However, if I don’t post for a little while, don’t worry. Everything is fine, I’m just adjusting.

With quarantine, my weekly trips to the grocery store got pushed to every other week. I can stretch most food for two weeks, but fresh herbs and vegetables were a little harder. So in late April or early May I decided to try a hydroponic garden in the kitchen. Summer is a terrible time to try to grow anything outside in Florida, and the bugs were so bad at one point that I just refused to step into the back yard. So … I got a little garden and some seeds and went for it. It is working beautifully. My tomato plant (which was supposed to be a dwarf cherry tomato) got too big for the hydroponic. Even cutting it back several times, It was above the light and hitting the cabinets. So that got potted and I have a few more herbs going in. Hopefully in a few weeks I will have not just basil, cilantro and scallions, but chives, parsley and spinach. And my tomato.

I’ve done some more cooking and baking. The two stars of the show was the lasagna from the NY times. Val and I both made the lasagna on the same weekend – it is by far the best lasagna I’ve ever made despite using boxed noodles. Super creamy and really tasty. I’ve made it again since. I also got on a lemon kick and made both shortbread lemon bars and a cake with lemon curd and lemon buttercream icing. Talk about fantastic. Both were incredibly good.

The furry ones are all doing pretty good. Tigger is holding steady after his incident in February and the vet says he is doing better than expected. Given that neither the vet nor I thought he would still be here in June, that’s fantastic. He is still eating, still cuddling and still ignoring the kittens. He is really skinny, but he’s happy so I’m not complaining.

I got some fun new yarn to play with. One of the podcasts (The Catt Lady) I follow recently opened a hand dyed yarn shop and I was able to get a few skeins of some really pretty yarn. The orange/pink one is called Punk Flamingo and I cannot wait to knit it up. She has some amazing colors and after getting the yarn and seeing how beautiful they really are, I may have a new favorite place to get yarn from. The yellow and brown yarn was something I won in a knit-a-long that I’m doing so that was really cool. It isn’t a dyer I’m familiar with and I don’t think I would have picked the colors on my own, but it is beautiful yarn that knit up really well. I also picked up some yarn based on a Downtown Abbey theme – it’s a little out there, but I thought it would be fun and I love the colors. It is going to make a great pair of socks.

That really is all that is new around here. I’m getting ready for the new job, finishing out the old one and trying to get as much cooking and knitting in as I can before July since I know I won’t have time after that. Hope everyone is doing well and I will (try) to keep updating even if it becomes a slightly less regular thing. Happy summer!

General Update

I realized I have not done any kind of general update in a while. Not much is really new, but with all the virus new out there, I thought a genera update might be in order.

So … first things first, Bob is working from home full time, but that happened in December and was totally unrelated to the virus outbreak. I started with my regular spring break in March and we did not go back to work in the school buildings after. The school buildings are closed, but our district handed out over 20,000 devices to make sure every student had access to classes through distance learning. I spent my first two weeks helping teachers figure out how to teach remotely because you can’t just take your regular in-person lesson and expect to use it. So we worked on essential information, providing options for learning or demonstrating learning and how to run small groups to help those who are having more difficulty. I then shifted into professional development mode and have been working on and giving live PD sessions (virtually, of course) and helping teachers try to organize their lives and classes. Working from home is fine for me – I don’t miss going into an office and doing my job digitally is not that bad – in some ways it’s better than in person. I do miss the drive a bit because it was my gear up and wind down time, but I’ve adjusted.

Everyone asks if the pets are happy to have us home and in all honesty, the answer is no. They just do not care that we are here most of the time. Alinea gets irritated if I sit in her chair (the best place to record videos because it’s quiet and has a very neutral background) but other than that … not much has changed for them. Arthas still refuses to go for walks in the morning and they all do their own thing during the day. They re adorable, but not so interested in us.

I, like everyone else, is cooking all the time now. I miss going out to eat. I’m building a mental list of all the restaurants I am going to eat at once they reopen. But … in the meantime, I’m cooking. Not many elaborate dishes as I’m only willing to go to the grocery store once every ten days to two weeks, but some interesting dishes – grilled cheese with roasted tomato and pesto, quinoa and white bean tacos, vegetable pancakes, and of course a variety of stir-fry dishes. We are eating well, but I still miss take out.

So that’s it. I’m working from home and knitting up a storm. My stash of yarn may actually get mostly used this year. Bob is working from home and working on his car (don’t ask). The pets are good and totally uninterested in our presence and my pantry and freezer are better stocked now than they have ever been. The bathroom is done from the construction end, but we need to touch up some paint so final pictures are delayed. We are good. Can’t really ask for much more than that right now so there it is. We hope everyone else is staying home as must as they can, staying safe and staying well.

Oh, Arthas

We knew Arthas was never going to be the easiest dog given his origins and the sight issue. The lack of sight is definitely not a problem with him, but his obsession with food makes a few things difficult. Now that he has learned to open the pantry, he has taken it to a whole new level.

A while back Arthas got into the pantry and pulled out two bags of chips, took them outside (he is considerate in that regard), and ate both bags. The entirety of two bags of chips. This got us concerned, but we had never seen Arthas open the pantry door (Alinea does do it on occasion) so we were not too worried. I should have known.

We went out to dinner one night a few weeks ago.  Nothing unusual and we weren’t gone long, but when we came back, the pantry door was open and Arthas had done it again. this time peanuts. An entire jar (minus one handful I used in a recipe) of peanuts. He was so proud of himself; not sorry at all. Four days of calories in one evening (after eating his dinner I should point out).

img_20190523_192907At that point, I should have locked the pantry. I didn’t. I moved things to higher shelves (same as I did after the chips incident) and left it at that. Mistake. Huge mistake. In one week he managed to get a bag of aboro rice, a gallon of vegetable oil, several bottles of water from our hurricane supply, and a box of quick cook oats. He also managed to move cat food cans, a box of coffee and a glass jar of beans.

We have since the last incident added a hook latch to the pantry door, high enough that the dog and cats cannot get to it. So far this has stopped the pantry raids, but I’m waiting for the day I come home to the latch broken and more food eaten on the patio. It’s a good thing he is cute – and sweet.

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I knitted a cat blanket!

Holy cow, I actually kitted a cat blanket. Mid July I needed a hobby (see post) and decided to try knitting. I found, once I got the basic hang of it, that I really like knitting. I like the routine of it, the visual progress and the vague sense of accomplishment. I worked a lot on the squares (I had the time) and I ended up actually making a little blanket for the kitties to lay on.

Little by little I managed to A. get a little better at knitting and B. get closer and closer to making a blanket. Once I had all the squares done, I re-visited You-tube and learned how to attach them. That took an entire day. About 5 hours to stitch together the squares and weave in the ends (there were a lot of squares). My shoulders HURT at the end, but I have a cat blanket!

I realized part way through that I stitched together a few squares backwards – as in the seaming is visible on those squares on the opposite side of the blanket from the other squares. I thought about going back, taking out all of those stitches and starting over, but I decided to embrace the mistake.

That is something knitting is helping me with. There are a lot of errors as I learn and sometimes those errors are huge and need to be corrected immediately (usually by ripping the knitting up and starting over) but sometimes I can let them go. Those mistakes, in the overall project, don’t detract from the finished item and they are a good reminder that mistakes, generally, aren’t fatal. And really, at the end of the day, it is about the project, learning something new and the kitties. The kitties are important and they are not complaining about the mistakes in their blanket.

Update

Mom said  I could write this month’s update. She says we kittens have grown so much but are still really cute. I think we are still little and like to run around and play, especially with the dog. He’s a little scary just because he is so big, but he’s really nice to us. He even let me play with his fur when mommy was brushing us all the other day. (I don’t like the brush, but I love the dog fur!) Mom said she could make a small dog with the fur she gets from brushing him, but I don’t want her to make a small dog, I like Arthas.

img_20180611_124455Tigger was a little grumpy the other day, he went to see the doctor. Mom said it was his “once a year” check-up, but he still was not happy. Tigger said he was fine and the doctor told him he was super cute and in purrfect health and mom said he did’t have to go back until next year. It’s a good thing too – he was really cranky when he came home.

Tigger is a lot larger than Alinea and I, but I’m getting to be bigger than her. Mom says Alinea is her little kitten even though we are the same age. We still play all over the house, but when she gets tired she either go to Tigger or climbs the tree in the backyard. Mom said she may have a heart attack one day because Alinea goes so high in the tree. I don’t like going up in the tree, but I do love playing with all the leaves. Mom said I’m a great leaf hunter!

Mommy says we are all good babies, but she tells Arthas he is a good boy a lot. He tries to help around the house but I don’t know that he is really helping – I think he makes a mess, but I’m just a cat so I’m not sure. He does guard the front door a lot and he barks when other dogs walk outside the house. I’m glad he does that because we don’t want another dog.

I’m going to go chase Alinea some more and maybe catch some leaves. Mom’s garden has a few fun ones to play with and it’s nice and warm out there.

Love, Ella

 

Pet Update

I have been accused of wanting the “broken” animals. I fell in love with the cat with no nose and the blind dog, but I don’t think it was the “broken” aspect that made me want them. It was that they were overlooked. When I think about all the animals I’ve taken home, they were all over looked or unwanted in some way. The boys in the neighborhood threw rocks at Patches because they didn’t want her around and when she followed me home, I knew I wanted to keep her safe. Jessie was ignored and then given up and she spent a lot of time in the shelter with no one wanting her. I knew the minute she nuzzled my hand she was mine. Leia was abandoned by her mother and lots of people didn’t look twice at her because she had the nose issue, but she purred in my arms the first time I saw her and that was it – she was mine. Gracie and Tigger were a little more normal – three and a half weeks old when I first saw them and Gracie was instant love. Arthas spent five months in a shelter and I don’t think the volunteer showing me the dogs that day expected me to do more than glance at him – but he walked up to me and didn’t bark and he just looked at me (ok, he can’t see but he does look at you) and I wanted him. Ella was abandoned by her mother and someone threw Alinea from a car. Talk about overlooked and unwanted.

But … they are fantastic and the best pets I could ask for. Arthas has learned the cats are not going to hurt him – he is very good with them now and they just adore him. Tigger is even staying on the couch when Arthas jumps up because he knows it is all okay. The kittens are grown (they are just about a year old now) and so sweet. Alinea is definitely a little smaller than Ella and she is the adventurous one. Ella likes to hide, but she also plays and likes her lap time. They have grown into beautiful cats.

Arthas still has a few issues, but in the almost two years we have had him, he has relaxed, become more energetic and he now wants to protect his home. He likes the cats (he’s tried playing with Alinea a few times) and us. I even think we may be able to introduce him to Falco at some point, something a year ago I didn’t think would be possible.

Pet Update

So this month it was eleven years that I’ve had Tigger. Eleven years since I brought three little kitties home, made Jessie super happy and embraced the crazy cat lady vibe. It is hard to believe he is eleven years old, but he is still my baby.

I love that Tigger gets along with the kittens. He seems less enamored with Arthas, but they do get along – they just don’t bother each other for the most part and I’m good with that.

Yes, my poor boy frequently looks annoyed with the kittens, but I know he kind of likes them. He lets Alinea eat out of his plate and I do often catch them playing. He, like his mother, needs his alone time, but for the most part, he likes having them around. I think.

Arthas is also very normalized with the cats now. I came back from walking him the other day and Alinea, who was in super play mode, jumped on him (near his head) and he ignored her. No growls, no jumping, not standing over her, just looked and kept walking. I was so proud of him!

And the kittens. They are almost full grown now. I can’t believe how adorable Ella is and how beautiful Alinea is. Yes, I’m biased, but not totally out of reality.

Hopefully it won’t be so long for me to get an update on these guys again. I still miss my other furry creatures, but it is really nice having the house full. And they are wonderful babies.

 

Gardening

I wasn’t going to do any gardening this year. In Florida we plant in the fall – October-ish and this past fall I was a little busy. However, after school finished, I decided to clean up the garden a little and plant a few things. You can plant into December and maybe even into January, so I did.

The tomatoes, jalapeño and kale are all doing well. I started with everything in pots and was pretty glad I had when the cold snaps hit in January. It is way easier to cover plants in pots near the house than it is to cover the garden. I ended up moving the kale to where the garden should be because it needed more space, more light and more air circulation. To prevent Arthas from eating said kale (yes, he eats kale), I used a bit of gardening fence we had. So far everything is looking really good.

IMG_20180211_105705.jpgWhen I moved the kale, I also cleaned up the herbs and I ended up with a bunch of oregano. I have plenty left in the garden, but I didn’t want to waste what I cut so I decided to dry them. Finding a place to hand the oregano where the pets would not get to it, I wouldn’t forget about it and they would get plenty of air was a little tricky, but I just attached them to the window in the kitchen and two weeks late – fresh dried oregano! It isn’t as pretty as the cat grass and catnip that I have planted, but it is pretty all the same. Arthas and Alinea really like the cat grass.

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I was pretty proud of my little efforts and I think they are starting to pay off. We’ve used a few jalapeño and some herbs in some dishes recently and I even had a kale salad with kale from the garden. The tomatoes look fantastic – I’ve cut them back once, but the plant just seems to keep growing, so I’m going to just let it be. I counted four clusters of tomatoes right now, and there are a bunch of flower clusters that give me hope for lots and lots of tomatoes until summer.

Pet Update

The kittens are growing! I know, this is what they do, but they really are cats now even through they still play like little kittens.

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They are cute, aren’t they? We decided they needed something to climb on, scratch and play around so we got a new cat tree for them. Even Tigger likes it. IMG_20180116_064834.jpg

Tigger is playing more and is generally more active these days. He is still a grumpy old man still times, but the boy will be eleven this year so that is allowed. I love watching Tigger and Alinea curl up with each other or play together. She has really taken to him and he seems to be ok with it. 

Everyone is doing fairly well. I think the little ones about about Gracie size right now (probably 8 pounds or so) and I think Ella will grow to be the larger of the two. Alinea, for all that she eats, is still very slim and light when you pick her up. Ella just feels more solid. I am very grateful that Tigger and Arthas seem to like them, although both have been not so happy with playful kitties a time for two. But they learn quick and no longer try to play with Arthas while he is sleeping. Of course, Ella does keep playing with Tigger’s tail when he is eating.

Arthas is Arthas – he is playing more, walking more and just generally seems settled and happy. I even think he kind of loves us now. He hung out with me on the couch when I was sick and didn’t mind the cats that came and went all day. We’ve had fewer run-ins with off-leash dogs and that has helped.

Every now and then when I see Instagrams of kitties no one seems to want I think I could add more, but then I look at the pets we have and know the house is full. We are super lucky with these four and I’m just going to keep enjoying them and loving them. I know the time with them won’t ever be long enough so I just need to make the most of the time we have.