Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bobbing For Apples

Wow, these last few days have passed by in a blur! I'm so grateful to have some downtime right now. I *finally* started at Family Care Services this past Wednesday. It was weird after not going to work for two whole weeks. I think I got too used to the time off, because the job is kicking my butt! There is SO much to learn and honestly, I'm overwhelmed which everyone there keeps saying is perfectly normal and I'll get the hang of things eventually. The program director, who's my supervisor, is great and very patient with me.

I can't help feeling like an idiot though, because I don't even know yet where I can get a stinkin' pen to write with. It's been like my first few days at school or something; I have to learn how to do my job as well as learn the agency "etiquette" and where things like office supplies are. My co-workers have been very helpful with stuff like that, thankfully. I've already met four of the kids on my caseload along with their foster parents, and accompanied another social worker on a home visit to see how it's done. I feel pretty good so far about the job and can tell it will be so much better than my last one.

The one thing I'm not crazy about is all the paperwork involved. There's just no getting around it in social services though. The "bigwigs" in government handing down the money have gone to the extreme making sure we do our jobs correctly, we're doing everything we can do protect the well-being of the kids we're in charge of, blah blah blah. Of course, all that is very important but it's ridiculous when you're spending more time writing progress notes than actually meeting with clients!

I also learned that I have the potential to earn more money if I take on more cases. I'm considered full-time with a caseload of seven, but could take as much as 10-11 if I felt comfortable. The agency is also offering dental and vision coverage in addition to medical benefits and a 403(b) plan that they start contributing to after six months whether you put anything in or not. Since we only have the health benefits through Gregg's work and a flex spending plan for everything else, I'm taking advantage of Family Care's dental and vision insurance for both of us which they pay 100% of.

After a three busy days of trying to cram all this new knowledge into my head, I am so glad the weekend's here. Last night after dinner, Gregg and I went to the new Lifeway Christian bookstore to get the study guide we need for small group. They didn't have it, so we left and stopped at Bruster's on the way home for ice cream. We both ordered Apple Pie flavored cream in a waffle cone. Yummy!

Today we went to the Apple Harvest Festival out near Gettysburg which was really fun. There were like, a million people there, and the temperature was up in the eighties! Not the typical Autumn outdoor event I was looking forward to, but oh well. There were times the sun was so strong it made me dizzy and light headed. I felt better after chugging a sample of apple cider at one of the stands. In addition to all the apple-themed stuff, there were all kinds of arts and crafts booths, concession stands and a tractor pull.

Gregg especially liked the displays of the antique machines. They had several old car engines from the original model-T days, a steam powered apple corer/peeler and an old washing machine. A good time was had walking around, eating overpriced food and yes, even buying a homemade apple-y craft. My feet were hurting by the time we got to the car and I was ready for a nap!

I had an upsetting incident this morning before we left when I took Tess for a walk. This stray cat around our building that is really nasty just recently had kittens. The kids on our street thought it was a good idea to put out cat food and water for them just ten feet away from our door. When I went outside with the dog, I noticed the cats by the bush on the opposite side of the stairs leading up to our unit. As we were coming back from the walk, Tess started getting all worked up because the mother was sitting there staring at her making these creepy sounds.

Now, our dog goes nuts whenever she sees a cat. When we lived in Florida, she jumped right through the window in the living room, tearing out the screen, to go running after a cat that was across the street. I don't think she's out to harm them; she just thinks they're fun to chase.

She started pulling on the leash so I had her sit, knelt down and petted her to try and keep her calm. I made sure I got my keys ready, stood up and walked towards our door. Tess kept pulling towards the cat and her kittens though, and an altercation ensued. The cat hissed and lunged at her, stratching her on the nose. When I saw the blood, I freaked out which didn't help the situation. I started yelling at the cat to get away and yelled up to Gregg who was probably still in the shower and couldn't hear me anyway. I'm sure I must have looked like a complete raving lunatic to all the neighbors at 8am.

I tried to go around to the backyard, but the psycho cat followed us. After she was clawed, Tess backed down but the cat kept coming after her. I just froze where I was, afraid that if I moved anymore she would hurt Tess again. She sat down right in front of us and kept making those horrible banshee-like noises. We must have had a stand-off for at least five minutes there before finally I held the leash firmly in both hands, turned around and walked the other way. The cat went back to her kittens, and now I still couldn't get back in the house. Gregg saw me from the window kneeling with Tess in the parking lot and I motioned for him to come outside. I started crying and told him what happened. He told me to go inside and unlock the back door while he brought the dog around the side of the house.

This is not the first time this particular cat went postal on our dog. It happened about two weeks ago, again right outside our door. I was actually standing on our stoop, just about to turn the key in the lock. I was hoping Gregg would call Animal Control then, but he forgot about it. It's on now. That cat has got to go. Vent for a minute: How is it that by law I'm required to leash my dog in public but cats are just allowed to roam free? I understand the reasoning that some breeds are by nature unpredictable or vicious towards humans but in this case the cat attacked my dog. Not once but twice. If I had a tranquilizer, I'd shoot the thing myself and sell off the kittens. And not to the neighborhood kids who feed them!

It reminds me of the Mad About You episode when Jamie's sister adopted a cat from the shelter and it turned out to be a baby Puma or something. It went psycho on Paul and Murray, their dog, and had them trapped in the kitchen. They had to sit up on top of the refrigerator! Funny stuff, but not when it actually happens in real life.

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