Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hutch the Catahoula Needs a Home!

This handsome, handsome boy needs a new home!

His name is Hutch, he's about a year old and believe to be a Catahoula and/or Australian shepherd mix. He was rescued from a shelter, but his family can no longer keep him. They have young children and Hutch is not a good fit for an environment with young children.

He is dog friendly and people friendly, but needs to be in a home with structure and clear, consistent boundaries. He is extremely smart and active and for those reasons would probably do best with an experienced dog owner. He has had basic obedience classes (I was his trainer) and he did well in them. He learns quickly!

He is one of my all-time favorite dogs, and I am hoping he can find a forever home that lets him grow and thrive. Please contact me with any questions!

He is neutered, up-to-date on shots, and currently living in the New Orleans area.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

To a Tiger

Last Thursday the zoo lost one of its Bengal tigers, Adee. I was able to be there to say good bye to him, and I'm thankful for that. He was a sweet, beautiful boy and he is missed very much by guests, keepers and his brother Bhoja.

I love you, tiger. I hope you're happy, wherever you have gone.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Promised Story

I'm finally going to take the time to tell the story of just what happened at the last place I lived at. It was ridiculous.

I was living in a house with two other people, one girl and one guy. The guy, M, was the leaseholder of the house and when I moved in, I moved in as a sub-letter. Renting a room from him rather than through the landlord. This worked for me because I liked having a month-to-month agreement and the utilities were all in his name and my rent was inclusive of all utilities, so I didn't have to worry about anything except one flat-rate check at the beginning of each month. I paid him my security deposit and paid him my rent each month. He was the one responsible for paying the landlord. I wasn't particularly worried about the arrangement because one of my intern friends had stayed here before me and she had no problems with her security deposit when she moved out.

It is important to mention some other people who play roles in this story. There is K, the other girl sub-letting a room in the house. There is D, M's friend who ended up sleeping on our couch almost every night for about 3 months. There is D's girlfriend, H, who also spent the night in our living room many nights. And there is the landlord. 

D and H stayed at the house probably more than any of the rest of us did because D was unemployed and hung around a lot. They never paid rent while they stayed there. They were also slobs, but so was (is, presumably) M. Huge, huge slobs. It got to the point where I bought paper plates and plastic silverware just so I wouldn't have to wash someone else's dishes before I could eat a meal. The worst part is that we had a dishwasher and these three wouldn't every put dirty dishes in the dishwasher and would instead let them stew in the kitchen sink. 

Now, M also had a shady "business" going, which was a lot of buying and re-selling things on Craigslist, making Ikea runs for people (the nearest Ikea is in Houston and Ikea doesn't ship so it's actually a thing people will pay other people to do for them), and he started doing shipping runs all over the country. Would pick something up here and deliver there, then pick something else up and deliver somewhere else. I don't think he ever made it work in his favor, profit-wise. Anyway, the constant flow of goods meant that our carport was always full of junk and the living room was always full of junk. At one point there were no less than three beds in the common areas of the house.

I filled most of my time up so I didn't really care what happened at the house as long as people stayed out of my room and my cats were okay. 

Then things happened.

M was out of town and D and H were staying at the house--like always--and the landlord came over to say she was evicting M because he was destroying her house. This is partially true, since he didn't report several water leaks to her and they didn't get fixed and started rotting some walls and ruining carpets. The leaks were in his room, so it was his business to report them. He also didn't take great care of the rest of the house, either. D and H wanted to move into the house in his place and the landlord was supporting this. I didn't particularly care as long as I didn't have to move. It was the middle of March at this point and the landlord told me that she hadn't been given the rent money for the month yet, but I had paid my rent and so had the other girl. Awesome.

So M gets back into town and finds out he's being kicked out and the first thing he does is turn off the cable and internet. Without warning anyone. Meanwhile, he has cashed the rent checks we gave him which INCLUDED all utilities for the entire month of March. A few days later, he shuts off the electricity. While I'm living there. The landlord go it put into her name, but it was three or four days before they could come out to turn it back on.

At this point, the landlord is still asking me to stay as a tenant because she wants to keep renting the house out. I say sure, but things need to get fixed soon because it's getting to be ridiculous. 

An example of ridiculousness? When I came home from work and my landlord was sitting on the porch saying someone broke into the house and broke the back window and smashed the TVs. The only window broken was too small to be a point of entry, and the only TVs broken were M's two TVs. Mine was fine and K's was fine. Then a cop came to ask me what I knew about what was going on. Who do you think went into the house and broke the TVs? It remains unsolved.

I'm asking M for my security deposit and he's being an idiot and a lot of other things I won't write out in polite company. 

Now, the landlord keeps asking me to keep watch on the house and call her if anything ever happens and if anything is moved. I work. I hate this house. I hate everything about living in it. When M found out he was evicted he left everything exactly how it was. The kitchen was a hole. A pit of rot. Trash every where. He even left his dog. LEFT HIS DOG. Tied up in the back yard with no food and no water. I took care of her and D and H's dog for two days before they escaped while I was at work and were found on the streets. 

D and H keep coming by to get their things that have been stored in the house. Landlord wants me to check what they're taking, as if I know what belongs where. Every time someone comes by, the cops have to come, too. 

Animal control shows up one day because my landlord called them about my roommate's abandoned fish, which are suffocating in their gross water after having no electricity to power the filter. 

Then. THEN. After all of this, my landlord tells me I have to leave, too. Because D and H are no longer welcome as potential tenants and just one renter isn't enough to pay the bills. Which I understand, except this whole time she's been begging me to stay. And now I have a week to find a place. THEN she tells me I might be able to stay because she knows two kids who are looking for a place to live. Turns out it's 5 kids that need a place to live so I can't stay. 


I start packing my things up and staging them by the door so it'll be easier to move everything out when the time comes. Meanwhile, the kids are coming in to start cleaning out M's belongings and the general nastiness of the house so they can move in. I've met one of the kid's mom, so I'm not completely worried about this situation.

Until I come home and my TV is missing. I freaked out. FREAKED OUT. I called my landlord telling her that if she's going to let people into the house she needs to be watching them, these kids stole my TV. She keeps saying they didn't, they wouldn't do that, and she didn't let them into the house, I let them into the house. Which I most certainly did not because I wasn't home, so nice big, fat, terrible lie there, landlord. She calls the kid and calls me back and he does have my TV and brings it back. I point out to him what is mine and what he is not to ever, ever touch.

A few days later, some more things leave the house but they aren't mine so I don't care. Except someone did take my laundry detergent and two brand new bottles of shampoo. Which shouldn't seem like a big deal, but I'm pretty poor, so it really is. But I'm almost out so who cares. A few days after that, more kids show up to really deep clean the house to get ready to move in. I tell them the stuff in the front room is mine and that the stuff in the fridge is mine and the front bedroom is mine.

They go about cleaning and then a friend comes over to help me move some stuff and we go to get the food from the fridge the fridge is empty. FREAKED OUT again. Because the fridge was full of food and I have no money and I told that snotty little girl that the stuff in the fridge was mine. I ask the kids what happened. I get a lot of sheepish looks and "uhh... I didn't do it"s so I start yelling at this girl, telling her she better get that food back or she owes me $200 to go grocery shopping with. Then one kid says he emptied the fridge but it was only a couple minutes ago so everything should still be fine. We get the food and move a few more things out and then I go to get my toothbrush from the bathroom and it's missing. I ask that stupid little girl, who I was about smack in the mouth, what she did with it. She threw it away. 

I was leaving for the evening because at this point I had one more night left before I had to be out and had already moved pretty much everything out of the house but still had to leave my cats there for a night because I had no where to take them yet. So I made it very clear to this girl that she should not go into my bedroom because it is my room and I will clean it before I leave. She has the nerve to ask me when I'll be out of the house by and I tell her "I have until midnight tomorrow night, so that's when I'll be out."

And that is what happened at the house I once lived at.

I still haven't found a new semi-permanent residence, but one of the keepers from the zoo has been really great and is letting me stay in a spare room at her place until I find something. A friend's roommate has let me keep most of my stuff in an extra bedroom there, but that is coming to an end so I'll have to find another place for my things within a week, but hopefully will find a place any day now. I'm trying my hardest to find a place I can afford on my own because this roommate thing has really started to freak me out.

Long story! That's why it took so long to get around to telling it. Hope it was worth the wait.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Books and a Story

Yesterday was magical.

I went to no fewer than 4 bookstores. I also deserve a cookie because I managed to not buy a single thing.

New Orleans has quite a few independent bookstores, which makes me happy for the state of books in the world, even if I'm still uneasy and uncertain about their fate. I went to a used bookstore that was very cramped, in a good, cozy way. They had a lot of books I've been looking for, and 6 or 7 titles published by LSU in a series called Voices of the South, which publishes otherwise out-of-print titles by Southern authors. I have a mental standing order to grab any titles in that series because they're hard to come by, being out-of-print themselves, but I resisted.

Anyway, while in the used bookstore another customer came in and the woman at the counter asked "Are you looking for the new store?" I had no idea what this could mean so I looked up their website on my phone and discovered that they have a store that sells new books right next door! So I went there, too. It was less cramped but still cozy and had that lovely new book smell.

After that, I decided why not hit up another bookstore and went to a third that sold new titles. I think it was my favorite of the three. It was a bright, open store and had resources about independent bookstores and Southern writers. The man behind the counter was the least friendly of the 3, though, and it seemed that it had the least regional feel. The other two seemed to have more specific collections, whereas this one had a selection that seemed to focus on what's popular and current, rather than what the owners or employees would recommend.

Behind-the-counter man actually did something very disappointing while we were there. A woman came in asking for a specific title which they did not happen to have in stock, when he said he could get it for her by Wednesday, she said no, she could borrow it from a friend, but she would like to pick up something else to read right now, and she asked if he had any suggestions. He asked what she wanted to read and her response was "Oh...probably something fiction." A terribly vague answer. But instead of asking her more leading questions, What do you usually read? Are you looking for something serious, funny, drama, easy read? What topics generally interest you? All he did was point out one book, one single book, and say "Every one who has read this has loved it."

He pointed out a book I actually just read, and only about half the people who read it loved it. I liked parts of it but was a little bored by other parts. It's not the hardest read by any means, but it isn't a super-quick one, either. If she loves it, then he did just fine, but if she doesn't love it, she might not run back into that bookstore next time she's looking for a book to read. Part of keeping the brick-and-mortar booksellers alive is providing really awesome customer service so that people realize how valuable it is to have that interaction with a bookseller.

Anywho. My intention was actually to tell the story of what happened at my last place of residence, but it's such a long, long story that I don't think I want to add it on to this post.

But I will come back and tell that story, I promise.

In the meantime, the quickest of updates on my life: I'm still searching for either a second part-time job or a full-time job to replace my current part-time job. I'm still looking for an apartment or a new roommate, too, but that's somehow much more difficult than it should be. I can't really afford to live by myself unless I get a semi-decent job (not $8/hour) and as anxious as I am to find a place to live, I need to make sure I'm going to be able to afford it reasonably in the foreseeable future. Finding a roommate has been difficult because no one wants cats. When did everyone start to hate cats so much? I'm looking every day and drive around neighborhoods looking for "For Rent" signs, hopefully it comes together soon.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Several Months Later

I stopped posting when things got very busy and very routine, and I apologize for that. I didn't start posting again because a lot of rough things started happening and I hate posting about bad news. I'm over that, and have decided to--as best I can--update you on what's happened since November 4th.

Mostly in pictures because it takes less time.

I have almost no pictures from November, and that was awhile ago so I don't remember much of what happened that month. I do know that my dad came to visit for Thanksgiving, and that was wonderful. I had a couple days off of work and got to be a tour guide in the city, which I honestly love doing because I think this place is awesome and has so much to offer. I also had to move at the end of the month, which was chaotic because I didn't find a place until 3 days before the end of the month. What fun! I moved out of my bad neighborhood to a decently safe, suburban neighborhood of mostly homeowners with families.

Then it was my birthday!

This is the cake that I was surprised with! It says "AD Nichole" which stands for "Asian Domain" because over the radios you call to people with their department leading so everyone knows what to listen for.

The people I work with also took me shooting.

For the record, I did pretty well.

I just found some pictures from a little bit earlier in the year.

Painting elephant feet for footprints!

This is Bubba. The best lion in the world.

The month of December was pretty full of activities.

We had the Asian Domain Christmas party.

We had cookie parties, where I taught people some baking fundamentals. We tried making samoas. Never try to make samoas.

One weekend I got to go to a Battle of 1812 reenactment, which was really neat because I think history is cool. Andrew Jackson was there and I hate him so I made a fuss about that.

  They fired their cannons!

January had some rough spots. I had one particularly bad week that took some time to recover from, and which culminated in a popped tire that I had to replace. I made it through alive, though, and most of the issues resolved themselves.

I was invited to a ball, Osiris, and was able to go with girls from work. It was actually a debutante ball, so it was really neat to get to see that kind of thing since it doesn't happen anywhere else ever and I will probably never have another chance at going to one. There was also free food, which I'm always a fan of.

 The debutantes are on the stage with their escorts. All the girls are in wedding dresses. It's a little weird. Very different.

 The girls I work with all dressed up for the ball.

These smaller balls start the Mardi Gras season off, and then the parades start and there are bigger balls that are more like parties and less about courts and debutantes.

I feel like I went to a thousand Mardi Gras parades. It gets to where there are 3 or 4 a day and they last for hours and go by so slowly. I tried to go to as many as possible in case this is my only Mardi Gras and I think I hope that it was because it was so exhausting. 

 Me with a sloth! This doesn't fit in anywhere else in the story, but the sloth is so cute!

 There's a dog parade during Mardi Gras. It's called Barkus. Happiest day of the year.

 My cat, Cypress, asleep while hugging me. I love her.

Remember that half marathon I was about to start training for? Well, I did. And then I ran it. And it was awesome and one of the best--most painful--things I have ever done.

 This is a night heron. He will take food from my hand.

I had my first crawfish boil! It was delicious!

 You tear them in half, suck the juices out of the head, and then peel the tail for the meat. It's a process and it's messy but it's a lot of fun and it's worth the work.

 Sweet little Magnolia sleeping.

I went to a wedding in St. Francisville. It was absolutely beautiful and wonderful. It was Alison's wedding, who is one of the keepers I work with at the zoo.

I have my mouthful of food, which is pretty typical.

 Upside down kitty! There's a gap under the door and the cats can only see under with both eyes if they're upside-down.

This is a crawfish mound. When the crawfish are ready to give birth they dig and push the mud up into these towers and when the underground lair is big enough, they cap it off and close it. You can see them all over the place. I accidentally kicked one over and came back to it later and it had been closed off.

Then I moved out of my terrible house with all of its drama and thought everything was getting better and one morning I went out to go to work and this is what my windshield looked like. Ugh! I'm getting it fixed today, after I go to a tiger surgery at the zoo.

That was my 5-month pictorial recap.

I'll come back soon and go into detail about what happened this month that made everything so extra crazy and hard. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I haven't wanted to post about not happy things, but I've been talking with people and everyone has their own stories of when they were starting out and life sucked and apparently it's a pretty universal misery, so I'll share my story as it happens. Wonderful! I also have some new backup plans I'll share. I hope to come back to this blog now and keep it up again. Maybe not daily like I did on my road trip, but at least frequently enough to not leave everyone in the dark.

Merry reading! Hope y'all liked the pictures!

Friday, November 4, 2011


I am about a day or two away from committing to training for a half-marathon. A keeper and I started talking about it today and decided we should start running together, with a 12-week training period before we reach the half-marathon. Then I suggested we find a half-marathon and register for it so we have a real goal and a place to run when we get to that point. We found a marathon, on March 4, 2012. We're both looking at training programs tonight and we're going to decide on a schedule this weekend, hoping to start Tuesday or Wednesday. She has a cold right now so we have to wait until she's better.

Which also commits me to New Orleans until March 4. Probably at least March 5.

I'm excited for a new goal, though. One that's attainable in the next couple of months with a lot of hard work. New Orleans also has some great outdoor spaces so I think the runs will be pretty pleasant. As far as 10 mile runs go.

I'll keep everyone updated about how it goes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Past Due

I didn't even realize that I hadn't posted in a month. Time has been going by so fast. Even faster than I thought, it turns out.

I'm in a really happy place right now and that's had a lot to do with why I haven't been posting. There hasn't been much changing. Every day is a day at work and when I get home I'm exhausted and ready to change into my pajamas and get ready for bed.

I love being at the zoo. I have no idea what I'll do when I can't go work there five days a week. I'm hoping to extend my internship so I can stay longer than the three months I was initially taken on for. I love the zoo, the animals, the people I work with, the city I get to live in. I'm not ready to leave.

So I'm not going to. I'm going to stay as an intern as long as they'll let me, or until I run out of money. And then I'll go to the zoo less days and go to paying work more days, until the day comes when I get a full-time zoo job somewhere. Or until I have enough money saved up to do another internship somewhere else. That's the plan I'm going with for the moment.

Maybe I'll start posting about my days at the zoo. They're exciting for me, but I never know how exciting my stories will be for everyone else.

A short story or two for right now.

There's a horn bill in our section of the zoo, but birds are in a separate department so we don't take care of him. The bird people take care of him. Anyway, the bird people asked us to include him in our snacktivities (when we throw food to the animals in the afternoon) because he always gets forgotten because he's the only bird in our section. So me and this horn bill have started to bond. I throw him grapes and he catches them! And he recognizes me now so when I walk by he hops over to a nearer branch to see if he's going to get any grapes. He's really cool and I like him a lot because I like moments when you feel like you get to connect with an animal.

I had an otter bite my shoe today. But they're so cute it's hard to be scared of or mad at them.

We got a large donation of pumpkins yesterday, mostly the really small ones, and now we have to try to use as many as possible before they rot. We put a bunch in a box full of hay the elephants had peed on to get them really smelly and then put them in the leopard exhibit. The leopards really like smelly things and the young female still has a lot of play in her, so she'll chase things. I set her pumpkins on ledges so they'd be likely to fall and she'd chase after them. She carried one around by the stem and set it down on a platform. She swatted it a few times before it rolled off and she jumped off the platform after it. She's a lot of fun to watch.

I'm still hoping to come home for Christmas but as of yet have no concrete plans to do so, because I have to get time off at the job that pays me and it's a process.

I'll try to keep this updated a little bit more!