I was prepared for a certain amount of stress, around the issue of the house not moving. I was not prepared for the House republicans to shove a potato into the tailpipe of the car of state in what I can only see as a seditious attempt to thwart what is the by-the-book established law of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare"). The unbelievable gall of those self-same republicans to then claim that "Obama isn't willing to negotiate" and that "they didn't want the shutdown" is disgusting. There's lying, and then there's just being insulting.
You don't negotiate with someone trying to burn down your house. The best summary I've seen of things so far goes like this:
"We want to burn down your house."
"Can we burn down the garage?"
"How about just the attic?"
"Well let's talk about the parts of your house we can burn down."
"YOU'RE NOT COMPROMISING!"
The shutdown is being orchestrated by a small handful of zealots who don't care who they hurt (and from their press, apparently don't believe they're actually hurting people) to score points. They're doing this, of course, because they cannot get Obamacare by any legitimate means. All 500 babillion attempts they made to strike the law were non-starters. With the entire appratchik of Fox News, right-wing radio pundits, and the old media smear machine, they can't seem to convince the country that "poor people being able to get healthcare" is a bad thing.
Here's where we get to how this impacts laurie_robey and me specifically: the contractor where she works (and I did until Monday) cannot bill 90% of its clients during the shutdown. This comes on the heel of one government agency already not paying the company millions of dollars it legally owes because apparently the contract officer is barking mad and just doesn't want to.
So, when the shutdown happened, the contractor said, "Unpaid leave for everypony! YOU get unpaid leave, and YOU get unpaid leave..."
So where we had been expecting our income to get halved, it instead got obliterated completely. :P
We are hopeful that if and when the rest of congress comes to its senses and fixes the mess, the contractor will get up to speed and pay Laurie what it owes her. But there's no guarantee of that.
So on Wednesday, while going on a walk for a little exercise and to relieve some stress, Laurie and I came upon a couple in the park, who were joined by a Herndon policeman, all of whom were attempting to rescue three kittens from a tree (with a fourth kitten on the ground nearby). This was not an easily-climbable tree (as the man of the couple discovered, getting a fractured elbow in the process), and the kittens were quite high up (roughly 8' and 16', respectively)... but there was no sign of any mother. The cop managed to get the lowest kitten down, and Laurie and I volunteered to take the kittens back to our house and return with a ladder to get the other two.
The woman of the couple had apparently been out performing her profession of part-time dog-walker when the kitten on the ground had basically come running to her meowing in distress, and led her to the tree with the others. That a kitten would approach a person leading a dog shows you the level of desperation the poor kitties had reached.
We put the first two kittens (provisionally named Sweetie and Inky) into the library, which we had already set up as a cat quarantine zone for showing the house, then returned to the park as quickly as we could with a ladder. The cop, being the youngest and fittest of the bunch, climbed up the ladder, with me close behind to hold things steady and act as kitten-catcher, and retrieved the other two (which for lack of better names were called Fluffy and Other-Inky). We then gave our contact info to the couple and brought the other two kittens home.
Unfortunately, we discovered after the fact that the kittens all had a quite severe flea infestation, especially Fluffy, whose long hair gave the little bastards lots of hiding places. So we were up until the Whee! hours on Wednesday night transferring the kittens to the downstairs bathroom (no rug) and shampooing the heck out of them. I will never forget the sight of swarms of fleas climbing all over the kittens' faces to escape drowning as we submerged their bodies into the warm water of the sink. :( It was horrifying.
So yesterday we took the kittens to our local vet (fortunately just a few blocks away) where they got thorough examinations, claws trimmed, and flea-removal treatment. Upon hearing that the kittens were rescues, the vet office very kindly charged us for a "new litter examination" (even though the kittens are probably about 8 weeks old) instead of charging us examinations for each individual cat as they normally would. It turns out that one of the black cats is female, but the other three are all males. So their names have been provisionally been altered to Fluffs, Sweetums (or Sweets), Inkyboy, and Inkygirl.
Today we need to flea-bomb the library just to make sure, so we can move the kittens back up there. (It's a much homier space than the downstairs bathroom.) We also need to start looking into working with Fancy Cats or someone similar to find good homes.
I also need to actually do some, y'know, writing, Laurie and I both need to do some job-hunting (sigh), and I've got to call my mom and sister about getting mom's assisted living arrangements made. It's already Friday, and I have accomplished precious little in my plans. Cripes, how did I ever live with a full-time job? And how am I gonna keep living without one?