Friday, April 09, 2010

Spring Cleaning


Just spent about three hours despamming my blog comments and deleting draft posts. I thought I was on my 600th post, but after deleting the drafts I realized I am about 25 posts short. Dang - I was hoping to hit 600 on my bday! Oh well...

In reviewing all the comments, I found some hilarious stuff. There were some really sweet anonymous or one-time commenters, especially on my mbta posts. There was one post I wrote that was called something like "I wish you would go away and f*cking die" Oh, the angst of my days with a particularly troublesome coworker, she really brought out the worst in me!! Ironically enough, I'm sitting in the office with one other coworker right now who is completely quiet - it's hard to believe that four years ago I was so incredibly miserable!

I also found interesting posts filled with lists of things I wanted to do, failures, accomplishments, crafts, lists of complaints...and videos, most notably of THE BRUISE:


Anyways, I do have to get back to work after wasting so much time on blog maintenance. First though, I will quickly wrap up petsitting.

The goats were NOT escaping because their manure pile was too high. Oh no. I can't believe I was dumb enough to think that was the cause. The goats succeeded in escaping three additional times before I figured out what I really needed to do. They were pouncing on their pen fence over and over until they either broke through it or trampled it to the ground and then pranced their merry way out. The final straw was coming "home" to find them in the FRONT YARD. Some random guy was scritching their heads and keeping them entertained...and by entertained I mean keeping them from running out into the street and getting nailed by a car or a fast-moving mail truck or hearse (there's a funeral home at the end of the street!). The guy introduced himself as the neighbor's grandson, adding to the introduction "You should really build a better fence." Um hi, I don't actually own this house, but yes, a better fence should be built." I actually came home early that day because I had to take my own pet birdie to the vet (he's fine) so I shut Penny and Copper in their goat house and took off for the vet, resolving to fix the fence when I returned.

The fence repair took a looong time. When I finally got back from the vet (after stopping at my house to get my bird's cage - I had to move him in with me because he needed twice-daily medication) and changed, gathered tools, etc, it was already late afternoon...I settled in for a long afternoon/evening of fence repair.

First the holes:

It's hard to see here, but Penny and Copper basically destroyed about a 6 foot-wide section of fencing.

They used a team approach when smushing down the fence. Copper would weaken it:

Then Penny would deliver the final blows:

I knew I had to rewire the fencing sections that were completely destroyed, and reinforce the width of the fence with additional posts I found lying around the yard.

The goats did not tax themselves whatsover, but rather sat back and watched:

And of course, I cut my hand:

Lulu the Grumpy Dog was my steadfast companion throughout the entire ordeal. She had decided to become my friend (probably after all the peace offerings of cheese and turkey pepperoni) and continued to sit by whatever area of the yard I was busy repairing. Once I finished the fence around the pen, I worked on reinforcing the fence around the yard. This was more of a quick and dirty fix, which involved wiring an old portion of the stockade fence to the wire fence; couldn't get the wire fence taut enough to keep it from bending every which way, and I knew that as long as the fence was bendable the goats could escape. The stockade fence, though a bit run down, would block the goats' exit from the yard.

Obviously, there was a lot of stress over the next few days whenever I had to leave and go to work. Would I return home to find the goats frolicking in the middle of the street?? Luckily, I turned out to be quite skilled in the field of temporary fence repair. Score.

This meant I was able to turn my attention to the other creatures, like the 28 exotic birds in my care, Lulu the dog, and the two kitty cats.

Now there's a group of people out there that hate cats. I understand that some of them have had bad experiences or are allergic or whatever, but I think there might be some that don't really have any legit reason why. I totally respect irrational fears, I have a ton, but to just hate something for the sake of hating? STOPPIT. Because I learned during my two week stint that cats are awesome, hilarious, and easy. These two made my petsitting life fabulously entertaining (except the time they were playing in a paper feed bag at 3AM and making an ungodly racket):




The cats were so low-key, however, they almost resulted in my ultimate petsitting FAIL. The homeowners were scheduled to come home on a Tuesday night. On Monday, I went crazy cleaning the house, and on Tuesday morning I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off emptying the trash, cleaning to toilets and tub, sweeping, etc. I packed the car and trundled off to the mbta lot, planning to stop by later that night to drop off the house keys.

When I drove up around 6:30pm, I could tell no one was home. I rang the bell and knocked and Lulu went NUTS. Finally, I used my key to get in. It was a little chilly in the house - had someone been home with the door open and left again? I called out - nothing. NO cats either, and the two of them usually came bounding from wherever the moment they heard the door open. It was eerie. As I went through the house I realized everything was exactly how I left it. I called to the cats. Nothing. I scratched Lulu's head, checked on the rest of the birds, and then locked up. Weird. I figured the homeowners would be home soon, so I tried not to worry...but I was stressed. They were supposed to arrive home around 1pm. Where were they? Where were the cats? What happened? Why was it cold in the house? Was it me, or was there a problem? What to do?

I sent out an email to our volunteer group. Someone replied "oh they're back in the US, safe and sound"


Finally, someone who had been on the trip emailed me back "we are running very late and won't be in til 12AM." Thank you, that is the kind of constructive information I wanted. I used this as my excuse to head back to the house. I was feeling very uneasy about the disappearance of the cats, wanted to put the goats in their pen and let Lulu out to pee, and make up the homeowner's bed (I had slept in it) because I had stripped in that morning and knew the last thing they'd want to do after 18 hours of traveling was find some sheets and make up the bed.

When I arrived at the house, the scene from earlier in the evening replayed itself. Lulu excited to see me, the birds chirping a greeting....and no cats. After doing some of the basic chores, I began a room by room search of the kitties, opening closets, checking every nook and cranny of the barn, searching the yard. Nothing. Finally to calm my own mind I told myself that they were probably hiding from me on purpose and as soon as the homeowners came back they'd be prancing around the house like always. My next step was to make the bed.

You see where I'm going with this, right?

I opened the bathroom linen closet.

And out sprang two cats.


I used the linen closet to hang up my work clothes for the next day, otherwise they'd be covered with cat hair by the next morning. On Tuesday morning in my rush, I had left the linen closet door open while getting dressed, and then closed it during my last run-through of the house without checking inside. The cats must've gone in there while I was getting dressed or checking the house. That had been at 7AM. I checked the closet 13.5 hours later at 8:30PM. EPIC EPIC FAIL.

Naturally I felt awful, especially when the cats glared at me after leaping out of the closet. OMG. I felt like the worst person in the world. The only clutch things? The cats are so awesome that they didn't pee or poo in the linen closet and I discovered my mistake before the people came home. Thank GOD.

That was the crowning jewel of my petsitting experience, which ended up being "dampened" by the homeowners complaining about the fact that they lost their boiler while they were away. Apparently their basement, accessible only from outside of the house with a key they did not leave me, flooded on Monday night, and the boiler died. That's why the house was chilly and there was no hot water on Tuesday morning. The blame was publicly, though indirectly, placed on me via a group email. It kind of sucked. All in all, the experience was rewarding, and I was paid fairly well for it, but the complaints and accusations in the end left a bitter taste in my mouth. What can you do though really? Oh well. It couldn't have been THAT bad since I was asked to petsit again in October, but I was actually secretly glad that the wedding was my excuse to say "no."

In the end I also learned a lot. I never want to own any exotic birds besides the ones I have now. Cats are awesome. Goats are a handful. Dogs can be won over with cheese and pepperoni....oh, and basements flood.


everything and nothing said...

Cute goats. I used to have a recurring anxiety dream about closing a cat into a folding couch. (Also, once I was cat sitting and the cat was hit by a car. Scary!)

everything and nothing said...

PS: I am jealous of your cat photographing skill. The one on right (stage right,not audience right) really likes you!

Elizabeth said...

Allison, you are the best house-sitter EVER! Oh my God! I can't believe they could complain to you about anything after all you did. Fence repair??? Cleaning toilets??!! And all you did to look after all those animals?!! That's a full-time job. Chances are excellent that if they'd been home Monday night, they still would have lost their damn boiler....the flooding still would have happened, and who knows if they'd have gotten down to the basement in time. Just look at that goat fence!! Those weaknesses didn't happen over night!! I'm just saying it's not like they're super on top of home maintenance. So SHAAAAADUP and be GRATEFUL!

I'm glad you had fun, learned some things, made some furry/feathery friends, and don't plan to do it again! It sounds like a crapton of work!

I do love the stories and pics though. And yeah....I'm a little protective. But can you blame me? You're awesome!


Elizabeth said...

SLACKING! I have desires of new blog content. I understand you're swamped I work; I know you're busy planning a wedding; I get that you just had your freaking birthday and got all muscle-spasmy somehoooowwww (DIRTY!); but STILL!

Entertain me, Crosby. ::cracks whip::

2xE :)

Al said...

omg I didn't think anyone was reading anymore!! I will post today.

Al said...

OH and EE you are totally right, they would've lost their boiler no matter what b/c the town they live in had a ground water surge on Monday - so they didn't actually get flooding during the huge epic rainstorms we had - the basement was high and dry, it's just that after it was all over, the ground water was so saturated that the water table rose several inches - it's not like any pumping or bailing on my part would have ever stopped the water from coming, it just happened. So yeah, thanks for the support :)

R: thank you for the cat photography love! these cats are really easy to photograph b/c they are hams and love posing and loved being snuggly. Very easy targets for the camera :) Stage right kitty is Nancy, and she wasn't the most friendly at first, but I came to find out that she was actually the most cuddly and very loyal in that she was always by my side if while watching tv, doing crafts, etc.