5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 3 (Animals!)

Hello, friends. I’ve encountered many types of animals in my life, in both positive atmospheres, and negative. I’ve had experiences with cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, horses, pigs, chickens… you name it. I’ve lived in the city, and fed feral cats. I’ve lived in the country, and helped board horses on my ex’s family farm. I’ve owned cats. Today, I want to share with you 5 stories about some of the animals that have graced me with their magnificent presence. I will only be sharing positive stories today (well, some a bit sad). I hope you enjoy a look at some of my old, fuzzy friends in 5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 3 (Animals!).

1. Snoop
IMG_0656

Snoop was the first dog I ever owned, though he wasn’t technically mine. Snoop was a purebred, English dalmatian (he even had royalty papers!), and he was my mom’s boyfriend’s. When my mom and her boyfriend started dating, I was just a little kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old. It was so long ago, I don’t even remember. We moved in with her boyfriend and his son, who was the same age as me, shortly after they started dating. I had only had cats as pets up to that point in my short life, though my mom’s old roommate’s kids had a turtle and some hamsters, who met… not-so-great ends, and I was really excited to have a dog. Snoop was a big dog, but I wasn’t afraid of him. He was a lovable lump, and wasn’t very active.

When we moved in, Snoop was 4 years old, just a year or so younger than I was. I loved him immediately. I have so many fond memories of trying to take Snoop for walks down the country roads we lived on, with him dragging me along like an inconvenient weight behind him. My mom’s boyfriend and his son didn’t play much with Snoop, or take him for walks, but I did. I loved him. I was even the one who helped my mom remove his ticks, and helped take care of him when he got mange one year. Snoop loved me more than anyone else, and would always try to climb into my lap while I was on the couch, despite his large size.

I wish I had taken more pictures of him while he was alive. I had 11 years with Snoop. In 2006, when I was 16 years old, my mom was backing out of the driveway in her Jeep, when she accidentally ran him over. Everything slowed down, and chaos ensued. That was the first time I ever saw my mom’s boyfriend cry. Snoop was rushed to the vet, where they checked him out extensively, but deemed him to be “fine“. Three days later, Snoop died in his sleep. My mom woke us up in the middle of the night, tears in her eyes, and told us. I didn’t go to school the next day. I cried for weeks. Even as I type this, I am crying. This was the last picture I ever took of Snoop, taken a few months before his death. He is buried in my backyard back home, tombstone and all, and my mom has a memorial shrine with his picture and collar set up in our living room. He will always have a special place in my heart.

2. Napkin
39819_1371451485822_804230_n

Napkin (who my mom later renamed “Hunter”), was my pet from 2005-2008, until I left Maine, though he lived until 2013 with my mom. Before Napkin, the only cats I had owned were from my toddlerhood, and I did not remember them at all, so I consider him to be my first cat. We rescued Napkin from a household that had a pet hoarding problem, after many of his brothers and sisters had run away, or had died. My mom brought him home to me late at night, and he was so terrified, that he jumped from her arms, and hid behind our computer desk in the living room for almost 24 hours. He eventually come out, with a little persuading using a can of tuna, and became my best little buddy. He received his silly moniker after I asked my best friend at the time to help me pick a name. I told him the first thing he came up with, I’d keep. He said Napkin, and I loved it. He was the cutest little fluff ball, and he would sit on my desk all day. Snoop, who was still alive at the time, had never been around cats, and we were afraid how he would react to such a tiny creature, but he loved him. He covered him with slobbery kisses, and tolerated his rough, kitten play. When Snoop passed away later that year, Napkin was noticeably distressed.

Napkin was an indoor/outdoor cat, and often brought us home “presents”. He brought a dead, baby mole into the living room once, and I cried for the whole night. I buried the baby mole in the backyard the next day, underneath my tree house. I left Maine in 2008, after graduation, and that was the last time I saw Napkin. In 2013, my mom emailed me to tell me that Napkin had been missing for a week, and she was worried, because he always came home. Two days later, she found his body on the side of the road. I was heartbroken.

This is the last picture I ever took with him, in the summer of 2008 (yes, I know this technically makes 6 pictures in this post, sue me):

216900_1006807529951_7361_n

He did love me, I swear!

3. Link299274_2076525152223_1240033652_n

You all know about my baby girl, Jade, who I unfortunately had to re-home after 6 years of companionship… but I don’t know if I’ve ever talked much about this little guy. This is Link. In 2011, I was living in a sketchy neighborhood by East St. Louis, where feral cats roamed free, and everyone and their mother from the apartment complexes fed them. I fell in love with a sweet little tiger cat, who had been coming to my door for months. I eventually noticed her large belly, when she was just under a year old (I know her age, because I fed her mother as well, and remember her giving birth), and watched her closely throughout her pregnancy. One day, I came home to find the small cat waiting by my door, no longer pregnant, and meowing loudly. I followed her to the other end of our deck, where she disappeared beneath my neighbor’s grill cover. When I lifted the cover, I found the tiniest kitten I had ever seen, completely white, except for three small, black dots on his head. I left the kitten alone, but kept an eye out. When mama cat did not come back for two days, fearing for the kitten’s safety, I took him in. Mama cat eventually came back, and still came to my door for food, but never seemed bothered by her lone, missing kitten.

I bottle fed this kitten every few hours with special kitten formula, and reached out to a vet about his flea infestation. She advised I give him a bath in Dawn dish soap, which did the trick. It was scary, raising such a tiny creature, but I was between jobs at the time, and had all the time in the world to care for him. Once I knew that we were out of the woods, I decided to name my new friend. I decided to name him Link, because the three dots on his head reminded me of the Triforce from Legend of Zelda. Everyone loved the name.

Despite terrorizing my grumpy, older cat, Jade, the two eventually became friends, and spent a lot of time cuddling and playing. In 2012, we moved 4 hours north, to my ex’s family farm, where we almost lost Link, after my ex’s brother shut his leg in a door, breaking the bone on the growth plate. Link was still growing, and the surgery and medication would have cost us over $1200 to fix him. We were devastated. Luckily, family helped us with the finances, and we were able to get him his surgery. He spent 6 weeks confined to a large cage, unable to run or jump, which was very hard for him, as he was born feral, and had loads of energy. He also had to wear a cone, which he hated. In the middle of his recovery, we were kicked out of our house by my ex’s family, who hated me, and were forced to move to a new town with our injured cat. He made it through just fine, however, and recovered very well. He was back to his usual self a few months later. Unfortunately, when my ex and I broke up in 2013, he kept Link, and I kept Jade. I don’t know what ever became of him after I left.

4. Zelda329342_2104142522640_434875432_o

As I mentioned before, I lived on a farm with my ex for a little while, watching his family’s farm while his older brother ran off to Texas to chase a girl. A week or so after we moved in, my ex’s sister showed up with a tiny kitten. She said someone had left him in in a taped up cardboard box front of the restaurant that she worked at. We already had a handful of outdoor barn cats, as well as Link and Jade, plus my ex’s mother’s elderly dog, and two horses… but we decided to take him in. I named him Zelda, despite later finding out that it was a boy. He was skin and bones, and had a loud, wailing meow. He ate non-stop for the first few days, before he began to mellow down and socialize. He was an absolute sweetheart, and I was fairly certain that he was older than he looked, despite his stunted growth. He got along fantastically with both of our other cats, and was the only cat that wasn’t afraid of the elderly Cocker spaniel in our care. Our biggest issue with this little baby was his refusal to use the litter box, no matter how clean it was. He would poop and pee right outside it, meaning I had several messes a day to clean up. He was also very food aggressive, and would bully the other cats, who were double and triple his size, when it came to feeding. He would growl and make bizarre noises, acting as though he was starving at each meal. It was strange. He was still too little, and it was far too cold, for him to live in the barn with the other cats, so we kept him inside for the remainder of our stay there.

After we left the farm and moved into our new apartment, that behavior continued, and worsened. Despite being a cuddly, sweet, love bug, he would attack you viciously to get your food, and began getting violent when the other cats would try to eat. We also now lived in a carpeted apartment, versus the hardwood covered farm house, and he began peeing and pooping on the carpets, and even our furniture. He eventually started spraying once he became of age, and our apartment was starting to stink. Nothing we did remedied the behavior, and I debated re-homing him, or bringing him back to the farm to live with the other feral cats. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to. One night, after picking me up from work, my ex pulled over and said to me carefully, “Don’t get upset.” I immediately knew what was coming. He then told me that he had taken the cat back to the farm, and had put him down. I was devastated. Link and Zelda were best buddies, and I knew he would be upset about his sudden disappearance as well. Despite his bad behaviors, I loved that kitten, and he was absolutely enamored with me. It broke my heart, and I was both devastated, and furious. I wasn’t all that surprised, because that’s just how he, and his family of cowboys were. If an animal was sick or broken, it got put down. Period. Luckily, those people are no longer in my life.

5. Chelsea10399152_1093156928632_3894545_n

One of my favorite past times has always been visiting various pet stores, and spending hours among the animals. I especially love smaller pet shops, verses large, corporate stores, because they have more unique animals, many of them loose in the store, which I find so cool. Shortly after moving to central Illinois, I stumbled across a family owned, exotic pet store, which specialized in rescued animals, and I visited it frequently. They had snakes, birds, a giant tortoise, and tons of lizards and fish… and Chelsea. Chelsea was a cockatoo, and was one of three birds that was allowed to be free in the store. Chelsea said a handful of phrases, and was very friendly. I had never held a bird before, let alone a large bird like Chelsea, so when the owner told me she was affectionate, and asked me if I wanted to hold her, I was hesitant. Luckily, I got over my fears, and held the beautiful, white bird. She nuzzled my face and hair, and repeated, “I love you” and “Hi Chelsea” over and over. She also had a loud, happy shriek. It was amazing. I never thought of birds as being affectionate, but Chelsea showed me just how wrong I was.

I love animals. I’ve always had animals around me for as long as I can remember. Ever since my son was born, we’ve been without a pet (due to our lease), and we hope to get more animals when we get our own home. I hope you enjoyed reading this and learning a little bit about the fur babies from my past.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

And as a bonus… here are some old pictures of my fur babies, Jade, Link, and Zelda, when I had them all together. I get emotional looking at the picture of the three of them.

There Is Always Something

Our luck, with most things in life it seems, is awful. I have no idea why. I try to have a positive outlook on things, I swear I do, but it can be really difficult to see the bright side of things, when there is something new and awful happening every other day. When there is nothing you can do, and everything is always going wrong, and there is no one who can help you. It breaks you down.

The last few days have been rough. I’ve blogged a bit in the past about our horrible experiences with apartments, whether it be a slumlord landlord, drug dealing (but very friendly) neighbors, or tiles falling on our heads as our entire living room ceiling collapses, there is always something. Our luck, with most things in life it seems, is awful. I have no idea why. I try to have a positive outlook on things, I swear I do, but it can be really difficult to see the bright side of things, when there is something new and awful happening every other day. When there is nothing you can do, and everything is always going wrong, and there is no one who can help you. It breaks you down.

Wednesday started off like a pretty good day. Despite Liam going through a bit of sleep regression, we all woke up relatively well-rested, had some play time, got ready for the day, and went out on the town. Liam had a WIC appointment in the afternoon, where the lady complimented his development and how much he has grown, and talked to us about life, and how great it is that I read up so much on milestones. We were all in a great mood. We got home pretty late, just before Liam’s bed time (around 6:30). I made Liam a bottle, put him in his crib, and stayed with him while he drank. Suddenly, I heard a loud pop, followed by the sound of rushing water.

There are four apartments in our building, and our walls are paper thin. I can hear ever conversation, TV program, and footstep happening in the building. Because of this, I assumed the noise I was hearing was the sound of our next door neighbor using their tub, which is right on the other side of the wall. It didn’t take me long to realize that it was a little too loud to be coming from next door, so I peeked my head into the bathroom, and was greeted by a waterfall of steaming hot water pouring out from the cabinet beneath our sink, flooding our bathroom, and creeping into the hallway.

Um?!

I immediately opened the cabinet doors, and saw that one of the mesh tubing pipe things had exploded. It wasn’t rusted. It wasn’t frozen. It just exploded. What the freaking heck? I wrapped my hand around the pipe to see if I could stop the water, as I simultaneously turned the valve to shut off the water. Then, three things happened: 1) I cut my hand on the jagged mesh around the pipe, 2) I burned my hand and arm on the scalding water coming out of the pipe, and 3) the rusty valve to turn off the water SNAPPED OFF and fall into the water. I freaked out and started calling for Kyle, who was in the living room. Between my yelling for him, and then Kyle’s yelling upon reaching the bathroom, Liam started crying.

While I threw every towel that we own on the floor to try and contain the growing flood (after we had just gone to the laundromat and done several loads of laundry, since Kyle doesn’t have a day off for another week and a half), Kyle ran upstairs to get our neighbor, who is a bit of a handyman, and always helps us out with things (remember my hornet incident? That was him who helped). He came in with tools and tried to help Kyle shut off the water while I comforted Liam, who was now wide awake and upset with the noise. They managed to figure out how to turn off the water to the apartment via the creepy, outdoor storm cellar that the whole building shares, and luckily the water never reached far past the threshold of the bathroom door.

But now, we had no water.

We have a landlord, but we have never met or spoken to him. We pay our rent and make repair requests through a realty agency, which closes at 4:00pm, and we had no emergency number or website to help us out. I called and left them a politely bitchy message, spelling out our situation. Did I mention that we had just re-signed our year-long lease THAT SAME DAY? Yeah.

Kyle went to the store to pick up bottled water and paper towels, and I finally managed to get Liam back to sleep. It only took two rolls of paper towels, and every towel that we own, to soak up all the water, and then it was like nothing had happened.

Except, we had no water.

The realty place got back to me first thing in the morning, and within an hour, our maintenance guy was there fixing our pipe. His name is Steve, and he is super nice. He looks like my dad, which is weird, but he is really nice.

Liam was having a hard time falling asleep for his nap with Steve making noise, so we decided to go out for the day again, since Liam had a doctor appointment on that anyway, but that’s a different story.

Our pipe got fixed, we have water again, and not a single towel (other than toddler towels) to use for the next week. Cool!

I should also mention that I am thankful that our apartment didn’t burn down, considering our breaker box is UNDERNEATH THE SINK, inches away from where the burst pipe was spewing water. Code violation? Yes.

Since we are “celebrating” our one-year anniversary in this apartment, let’s look at all the things that have gone wrong in the time we’ve been here!

1) On the VERY FIRST NIGHT that we started moving in, we were sitting in our empty living room with our friends Joe and Mercedes, who had helped us move stuff, and were enjoying pizza, when suddenly, we heard a crash. Just a few feet behind us, in the middle of our dining area, a river of dirty water was pouring from a hole in the ceiling. It poured for just a few seconds, then continued to steadily drip for, well, the rest of the night. We put a tiny garbage can beneath the leak, since it was the middle of the night and we couldn’t call anyone. The maintenance guy came out the next day to “fix” it. This involved sawing out a HUGE section of our ceiling, and fixing the pipe in the ceiling, which was actually connected to our neighbor’s kitchen sink. It was dirty, dish water. Yum! It took several more weeks before it was able to cut a piece of plaster to cover the hole in the ceiling and drill it into place. It has now been a full year, and he still hasn’t sealed it. And, yes, we have reminded him. See the picture below!
12177421_10205218749607798_1255472141_o
(One year of having to look at this right above the dinner table!)

2) We had been living here for about a month, when we realized that our wiring kind of sucks. You can’t have anything in the bathroom, kitchen, or back half living room plugged in and running when you use the microwave, or you blow the fuse. Microwave + toaster? Blown fuse. Microwave + space heater in the hallway? Blown fuse. We have to flip the breaker at least once a day. Sometimes, it can’t handle just the microwave running. Super frustrating.

3) A month and a half after moving in, our fridge and freezer stopped working overnight, and we lost quite a bit of money in dairy and meat that had to be thrown out. The maintenance guy brought us a “new” fridge from storage, which contained NO shelves. Not even the glass/plastic shelves that go over the drawers at the bottom. This fridge, despite taking up less room in the kitchen, was actually larger on the inside that the previous fridge, and the shelves did not fit in it at all. We had to pile our remaining, unspoiled food at the bottom of the fridge. It took a few days, but we finally got shelves. But it took over 3 months to get rid of the broken fridge. It sat in the middle of our eating area the whole time, so we didn’t even have our table set up. Our guy always had an excuse for why he couldn’t pick it up, and since I was very pregnant, I couldn’t even help Kyle drag it outside. Eventually, he got a friend to help him drag it to the porch. Two days later, some scrappers in a pick-up truck asked if they could have it, I told them they could, and then it was gone.

4) This one is something that we could probably fix ourselves, but I haven’t gotten a chance to after the first time I attempted. We have two doors that lead into the apartment. Our “front” door, is connected to the living room, which goes out into the building’s hallway that the 4 apartments all share. This door is solid as a rock, well insulated, and makes a very loud suction noise when you open and close it. The back door, which leads to the porch, and is in the back hallway where the bedrooms are, is not so sturdy. The outside storm door is completely crooked, leaving a half inch gap along the top of the door. We’ve had spiders, ladybugs, and hornets building nests live between our two doors. There is also a large hole at the bottom of the door, which was covered with duct tape by… someone. The door to the apartment is also crooked, and there is a gap between the door and the door frame. The gap is so bad, that you can see straight outside through it. I’m not joking. Because of this, the back of the apartment is freezing in the winter. We tried to get strip insulation, but it was too thick, and I ended up not being able to close the door at all. I had to pull it all off, ruining the door frame. It is now almost November. Gotta fix it, or we’ll be in for a VERY cold winter this year. Again.

5) When we did the initial tour of the apartment, the woman who works at the realty company told us that his apartment had forced heating, as well as central air. That is the main reason we chose this apartment over our next top choice. But when it started warming out outside, and we tried to turn on the air, nothing happened. The thermostat has settings for the fan and air, but we couldn’t get it to work, so we called the realty people. The man who called me back told me that none of the apartments in this building had air. They never have. Those are just universal thermostats. WHAT? We didn’t have enough money for a window AC unit, and couldn’t even open our windows, because NONE of them have screens. I mentioned this to them, and they promised to come out and measure the windows for screens. That was in… June, I believe. Still no screens! The reason screens are so important? The bugs. Continue reading!

6) The bugs. Oh, the bugs. Every day, since the day we moved in, I’ve had to kill a minimum of 2-3 cellar spiders a day that have crept into the apartment. They don’t bother me too much, but Kyle hates them. So I squish. One day, the corners will be free and clear of webs, but by the next morning, there are webs in every corner of the living room. We get a couple garden spiders, or jumping spiders, that wander in as well. We’ve also had a few silverfish and carpet millipede sightings. And, of course, ladybugs. But the worst? The yellow jackets/wasps/hornets. There is something about the outside of this apartment that attracts all the worst kinds of creepy crawlies. During the day, there are flying, stinging bugs all around the building. They build their stupid nests everywhere, and the exterminators keep having to come out. By night, the outside of the building is covered with big spiders, who magically appear and rappel down the siding on their butt string. They are awful. Yeah, yeah, they’re harmless. But I don’t like them. And since our windows don’t have screens, we can’t open them at all because of this. Have you read my story about the time a fuck ton of angry yellow jackets burrowed into my apartment while Liam and I were home alone? You should read that. Good times. >> CLICK HERE TO READ <<

There are more things I could list. Like the lack of parking for all the people living here, and how our Mustang got stuck EVERY day last winter. And the time a giant tree branch fell on Kyle’s head when we were trying to dig out the car, because no one trims the branches. Or how shitty my neighbors across the hall are, and how her demon children wake Liam up several times EVERY night, despite me asking them to keep it down (now I’ve just started pounding on the wall angrily). Ah, the joys of living in shitty apartments because you’re broke!

Now, does anyone have any towels they can loan me for the week? Haha… no, but seriously. I’ll be air-drying all week.

Happy Halloween, friends! Stay safe, stay spooky.

Jan

EDIT1