Are there any costs to fostering kittens?

If you foster a cat for a verified nonprofit shelter, you can claim it on your taxes.

We know that #2 had extensive experience with taking in stray cats & kittens and getting them to good homes.  Good on ya!  #2’s experience was very expensive and someday she’ll post pictures of the kitten-destroyed master-bathroom that cost ~$600 repair (on top of vet and food bills).

#1 has started a slightly lower-stakes fostering experience with a no-kill cat shelter that ultimately has responsibility for the kittens.  Yes… kittens!

They are mostly-black, which makes it hard to take good photos…. here they are in their crate…

a pile of kittens

and little faces…

4 little kitten faces

There is another one, but she is sick and so she is with the foster coordinator right now, getting extra meds and care.  These ones are on antibiotics, which are supplied by the shelter.  The shelter also supplied some chicken baby food to mix the antibiotics into, although I will have to buy some more.  They supplied me with several weeks’ worth of crunchy kibbles and about a week’s worth of kitten-safe litter (I have already bought more).  I have to bring them back to the shelter periodically for free check-ups and vet care.  They are actually 2 litters that were put together.  I think they may be around 6 weeks old.  Don’t know what happened to their mommies.  They weigh, on average, about 1 pound and 4 ounces each.

They come in this big crate (it folds up) where they sleep and play.  The shelter provided the bed, blankets, litter box, and water dish.  They also sent a scale to weigh them and a thermometer for taking kitten temps, along with an extra litter box and a handbook of what to do.  They also have a carrying cage.

I let them out to roam the bathroom and play, and they have supervised time in the living room when we can watch them.  We are getting lots of mileage out of a toilet paper tube, cardboard boxes, and a plastic Easter egg.  They also have a couple balls to chase, and each other to wrestle.  I bought them a cardboard scratching post for around $7, and I trim their claws for my own comfort when they climb on me.

We are doing a fair bit of laundry because they occasionally have potty accidents (they are just babies).  And running through quite a bit of hand sanitizer.  That’s it so far, though!

Your local shelter needs you.  Donate today.

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It’s time to love the links

Apologies for not a lot of links this week.  One of us has been on a deadline for an overdue writing thing and the other is traveling.

Notes from my writing:  Hey PubMed, you’re awesome and all, but your “export citation” function is kinda broken.  Save me, ScienceDirect!  Also, young lovers over here whispering in the library: assholes, leave the quiet area. You would be less disruptive if you actually talked.  YOU KNOW I CAN HEAR YOU, RIGHT? Just go make out in private like the rest of us did.

How can you tell whether you’re being objectified or whether you’re an empowered woman?  This handy cartoon explanation is a start.  NPR doesn’t get it.  On Twitter, exhaustion with sniping.

Georgia Dunn, the artist who draws Breaking Cat News, had a baby!  Childcare conundrums. Babies better than tattoos?  One of us prefers babies, the other of us prefers tattoos.

Financial relief over at What Now.  Stiffer rules to protect retirement money.  (heheheh they said “stiffer”)  Republicans want handouts for millionaires, what a surprise.

Trying to convince skeptical parents to have their kids vaccinated…

 

Tough choices: mathematician just loves hitting people.

 

and now, this:

Ask the grumpies: How to say no to trips with crazy people

For those of you who missed this question and following commentary in the last Ask the grumpies solicitation:

CPP asks:

My parents are very toxic people: judgmental, intrusive, manipulative, and demeaning. They behave very poorly in public, especially when it comes to service workers in restaurants, hotels, airlines, stores, etc, whom they treat like absolute shitte–as if they aren’t even fellow human beings. Because of all of this, PhysioWife and I drastically limit the time we spend in their company. They have gotten used to the fact that we visit their home in a sunny place only once per year, staying for four nights. We see them on average about once per month when they are in their other home in our city, generally spending a couple of hours having dinner.

Here’s the question: They are pressing me about PhysioWife and I going on a trip with them to a foreign country to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary and one of their milestone birthdays. There is absolutely zero chance that we are going to do this, and I am trying to figure out how to tell them we aren’t going in a way that minimizes the hysterical shitshow they (mostly my mother) will perform.

Obviously, one extreme would be, “We’re not going on this trip with you, because you always behave terribly and it is misery to be around you, and thus we will never travel with you, especially to a foreign country.” Any creative ideas for scripts to make use of? Obviously, I can’t just say, “We aren’t available those dates”, because they’ll just propose other dates. One thing I thought of was, “Oh, it’s a nice suggestion, but we just really don’t like traveling with other people.” PhysioWife doesn’t think that sounds plausible, because we travel all the time with her family (who are totes awesome).

Anyway, any suggestions? I am sort of at a loss, and am feeling resigned to just having to say, “We don’t want to travel with you”, and dealing with the hysterical fallout.

We didn’t have any good advice, but folks in the comments did.  We bet more of our readers will as well!

Perpetua suggests:

There are a couple of other possibilities besides the ones you’ve mentioned. You could cite money as an issue (that is, you don’t have the money to travel, or to travel the way they’d want to travel), and if they’re offering to pay you could say this makes you and your wife feel very uncomfortable and you don’t want to go if you can’t pay for yourselves, which you can’t (either because you have no extra money or, if that’s not plausible, because you’re saving your money for X thing). If the milestone anniversary is one of yours (rather than theirs) you could simply say you’ve decided to celebrate another way – or if it’s theirs and you have a milestone of your own coming up in the next 2-5 years, you could say you’re saving for X special thing for that milestone. You could also develop a work or health related reason why travel in the timeframe they’re wanting to travel won’t work for you and you would be miserable if they postponed their trip because of you. (This kind of thing is one of the rare cases where having kids can be helpful – a handy excuse to get out of things you don’t want to do! Pets might work – my ILs excused themselves from visiting us for years because of their dog.)

to which Delagar adds:

I used a work-related reason when my toxic family wanted our entire family to go on a cruise together for my parents’ 50th anniversary. I was going up for full professor, said I had to work on that. It was even (sort of) true, and it worked like a charm. Don’t you have a paper or something? Could be very pressing!

Becca suggests:

Any chance of saying “Oh, we weren’t planning on traveling there this year, and we don’t want to ruin the romance of your *milestone wedding anniversary*. But we’d like to be part of the festivities by throwing you a small ‘bon voyage’/happy milestones party at our place right before you leave”. This would involve no more than the typical amount of contact with them, with the added bonus of you having the option to have the evening catered so you don’t actually have to go out in public with them if you don’t want to.

Similarly, from Rented life:

“Thanks but actually we had planned something special for you to mark the occasion” and then do nice night out with dinners and show (or whatever is appropriate–small party? Etc.). You’ve marked the occasion, met the family obligation and no one can say you ignored the big deal milestone.

Debbie M. with this advice:

I’m always a fan of true answers, but then I only rarely have to deal with unreasonable people. So the question is how to be tactful. I’m not so great with the tact. The truth you’ve mentioned is that you don’t like to see how they treat service workers, so watching that is something you don’t want to do on your vacations. The tactful route might be something about how y’all might ruin their trip by freaking out about how they treat service people, and you wouldn’t want to do that on their special trip. The best thing about true reasons is if they really do address them, it’s win-win! But they probably can’t treat service people with respect. And even if they suddenly could, I get the idea there are plenty of other good reasons not to accompany them.

I’ve also read many times that “No” is a complete sentence, though I prefer “No, thanks.” In this case, even, “No, but thanks so much for thinking of us. We wish you all the best on your exciting trip.” But don’t people always then ask why? “Oh, we’re not interested, but thanks.”

Bleh. Good luck.

Leigh notes:

One of the best excuses I’ve used is “I don’t have enough vacation days for that trip.”

And Steph points to Captain Awkward, which CPP should probably be reading on a regular basis, since they occasionally deal with questions about highly difficult people:

Captain Awkward might also be useful. The closest thing I could find quickly was this post about not wanting certain family to come visit:  http://captainawkward.com/2015/02/02/655-visits-with-highly-difficult-people/
but her archives are extensive and likely to have something http://captainawkward.com/archives/

Grumpy Nation, what would you suggest?

Who are your favorite authors of color?

Excelsior Bev recently asked her students who their favorite African American authors were, and we thought that was a fun question, but that we’d broaden it a bit.

#1:  Alexandre Dumas (Jr) hands down– though I didn’t know he was black until recently!   He’s not so great with his female characters (who are either paper dolls or evil villains), but his books are so much fun that I forgive him.

After that I know there are a lot of worthy POC authors who write amazing award winning serious fiction (and I did like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Their Eyes Were Watching God, but as worthy books, not fun books), but I really like popcorn books.  I really do.   So that means people like Lisa Yee and Justina Chen.  I also love almost all of A. Lee Martinez’s books.

Scalzi had a post the other month talking about the “read just women and people of color” challenge someone was doing, and I asked for recommendations for fun light stuff, but the only person who replied has a very different definition of “light” than I do (pro-tip:  Stephen King is not light).  That post also indicated to me that romance novelist Courtney Milan is a POC, which I didn’t know (I like her stuff!).  Recommendations for light stuff welcome in the comments!  (I did read some Marta Acosta light vampire stuff, and it was ok, but not worth owning.) (#2 owns the first but not the second book.)

#2 ZOMG, N. K. Jemisin all day long.  Saladin Ahmed.  Justina Chen Headley (again).  Y. S. Lee.  Nnedi Okorafor.  Dia Reeves.  Michelle Sagara (her stuff sometimes makes #1 cry on airplanes).  Gene Luen Yang.  I recently read Sofia Samatar’s award-winning novel and liked it.

And, as everybody should already know, Octavia E. Butler is objectively one of the best science fiction authors of all time.  (But not light!)

Start there!

Of course, we’re of a couple of minds about these segregated lists.  Well, not really.  It’s just a nuanced stand.  We hate the need for these separate lists and we wish that people would be included on the regular lists of “best of” because many *belong* there.  However, society isn’t there yet, so these lists are a way for people to broaden their horizons so that they can come into contact with amazing authors they wouldn’t normally read.  Being on one of these segregated lists should in no way preclude someone from going on the more general lists of “best of” and we should think really hard when we make a general “best of” list about composition to make sure we’re not running into implicit biases.  A standard procedure is to think about the best POC or female etc. author not on the general list and to compare him or her to the worst person on the general list (iterating to the next underrepresented person etc.).  More often than should be the case, that person really belongs on the general list too and was not included because of subconscious biases.  Eventually, thinking about people from underrepresented groups while making the list rather than after the list is made becomes more automatic.

One place where there are plenty of authors of color is the banned books list.  Boo.

Got anyone else we should read?  Spend your tax refund on books!  Or save it and use your library.

Two funny quotations from a book about books

These are from One for the Books by Joe Queenan.

page 3:

A friend once told me that the real message Bram Stoker sought to convey in Dracula is that a human being needs to live hundreds and hundreds of years to get all his reading done; that Count Dracula, misunderstood bookworm, was draining blood from the porcelain-like necks of ten thousand hapless virgins not because he was the apotheosis of evil but because it was the only way he could live long enough to polish off his reading list.  But I have no way of knowing if this is true, as I have not yet found time in my life to read Dracula.

And page 212, something the author’s daughter said: “If you don’t want to own books, it means you are an asshole.”

The book is pretty funny, although the author’s taste in books leans heavily towards male writers.  I will probably re-read this book.

Stay tuned tomorrow for even more about books!

 

in the meantime, do you have any quotes about books or reading?  Have you read anything funny lately?  Share in the comments!

Renting out our house is a PITA

We’re in a seller’s market right now, so the realtor says he could sell our house in a month, which is probably true.  But then when we came back in a year we’d have to *buy* a house and I seriously doubt it will be a buyers market at that point.   So yes, we could take this opportunity to downsize and to move into a better elementary district, but all the time spent buying and selling and buying (or renting and buying) sounds like a nightmare to me.  So we’re just going to try to rent out the house.

The real estate agent thinks we can get $2,800/mo for our house but I seriously doubt that’s the case.  The comps he was showing are in better elementary school zones and the houses probably aren’t falling apart quite to the extent that ours currently is.  They have nicer lawns too. And it’s unlikely they’re one year rentals, which is always bad for people who want, you know, longer than a year.  Also we’re not supposed to rent to students, though we’re fairly sure someone on our block is now doing just that (6 cars in front is generally a hint).

Covering our costs if we put things in storage will be $2,200 + management fees.  Of course, about $1000 of our mortgage goes to principal these days so really we’d be covering costs with more like $1,200 + management fees.

Craigslist is no help on pricing because nobody with a house as nice as ours posts on Craigslist in our town, so Craigslist rentals tend to top out at $1650 or occasionally $2000 for houses that have the same number of bedrooms as ours but are more in the 2000 sq ft range vs 3000.  Houses like ours are all listed via MLS.

Fortunately, so long as we keep under $5K/mo in Paradise City, we don’t need to actually rent out the house at all and could even hire someone to house-sit for us.  So we’re not desperate for rentals to go through.  But still, I’d rather ask $2,200 and have the house get rented than ask $2,800 and have to keep in on the market until September or forever.

We are listed on sabbatical homes and on the university housing available webpage, but no pictures yet (other than an old one of the outside) because our house is a mess and we haven’t had a chance to take pictures.  Nobody has contacted us to ask any questions.

I’m tempted just to wait until the summer and we’ve figured out where we’re going in Paradise City.  Then ship what we’re going to ship and store what we’re going to store, and then list the place.  I suppose in the worst case scenario, the management company can keep it furnished and then rent it out for huge amounts of money on gameday weekends.

On top of that, DH or I are traveling all month and we’re only seeing each other a few days.  And I’m behind on a ton of work.  So in reality, nothing is going to happen until May because nothing can happen until May.  I suppose that will save us money and aggravation on trying to keep the house “show-ready” which is nearly impossible with a 2 year old in residence, even if we do hire a regular house cleaner.  (We couldn’t even keep the house clean for the most recent in-laws visit!)

Have you ever tried to rent out a home?  Any tips for short term rentals?

Link love goes to 11

First, a brief illustration of what happens when your dog learns to text.

this is fascinating:

also this is amazing if I ever have REALLY long hair again (I would totally rock this):

Have you tried… excessive sleeping?  I did, and it changed my life!

I just read two light and imperfect but fun romances (that were cheap!)

Sometimes you just gotta enjoy your cold.
This is a jar full of major characters, not to be confused with binders full of women.

Even more about goddamned cakes (or no cakes, as the case may be).

I want to read this.
I don’t know dick about minecraft, but there’s a blog about it: http://minemum.com/minecraft-parent-problems

This is chilling (today’s f*ck the police)

And now, this: