Where did I stand again?

I stood there, stunned like never before. It’s 10 at night, and I have just closed that fence behind me. From that time on, for the next ten hours, it will be me and my world.

It should be a little heaven for the neglected, the abused, the suffering. It supposed to be a refuge. It should have been a tiny piece from this Jurassic wasteland my heart returns to, a place called “home”

And yet it looked one and the same with the surrounding now. Unkept, unattended. Piles of debris, rock, sand, with stinky treasures buried underneath. Spatters of paint, heaps of garbage, bags upon bags of rubbish waiting to go to oblivion, or to the recycle centers where it will be destroyed to be born new.

In the inside it’s not quite different, and so is the bag. It all looked like a roofed landfill down to the smell of it.

I thought, that’s OK. I am trying my best to clean up and have been progressing quite a bit, spending one night after the other as much as I can hold my eyes open. Besides, it will just be me. I am no longer expecting anyone, so I can bare with it. The growing worry is that the longer it took me to clean things up, the more hazard the cats will be to sickness left deep in unseen corners by those before them.

Just one sentence in a casual chat one day brought it to the next level. One of our supporters will come and visit at the dawn of March. The dates just keep changing, because it was supposed to be two of them, but when it was fixed, I only have two weeks to change this sow’s ear into silk purse.

I know she will understand. My guest is coming to help after all. She volunteered for rescues in her homeland so she should know, she must have seen the bad.

Just not this bad.

I took my deep breath and throw my backpack to my downtrodden studio. Things thrown inside in a rush just so it’s out of the way when the renovation started, and it piles into mountains of who knows what on top of the other, because the more I try to re-arrange, the more things I found broken by the jerks who smeared crap into their own trade by their work ethic.

The cats have been waiting too long for me to get home, and they honestly told me it’s been like forever while they wait for their supper.

I gave them what they want, changed my clothes, and start cleaning up, bagging more rubbish, wiping off wee wee on the floor, or drops of guano that missed the intended target, intentionally or not. I only have two weeks and I wasted half of it attending to what was called “young and have heart as big as mine” I honestly think her ego is way bigger.

I stood there, stunned like never before. It’s 11 at night then, and I just closed my kitchen door behind me. A few steps ahead the cheap tiles laid as my footing came to end, and a swath of cheaply laid concrete led me to the water tank tower.

A welder that once made a fence for the community garden texted me then, asking if I have another job so he can keep the plates full for his family.

He probably was desperate, otherwise he won’t be texting random customers near midnight.

I turned off the light on that back porch – which shelters my now broken washer; it is now rusty at the bottom from too many cat sprays – but as I walked back to my human size garbage bag, another light came on.

“Come in the morning” I replied to the welder, “I need you to make a canopy, and move my water tank”

He came in the morning, exactly seven hours later, and I led him to the back porch. I no longer cared whether he can stand the cats or not. I no longer care whether there is stray poop there or not. I just apologized because I haven’t finished cleaning, and told him that I want to make a conservatory roof in extension to the back porch, all the way to the water tank, I want the water tank to be moved to the top of that conservatory roof because it stood in the middle of everything, and I told him that instead of glass or fiberglass, I want metal mesh installed from the underside of the roof to the floor.

We agreed on a price, which sucked out the rest of my savings, and when I asked him when he can start, he said four.

“Four days?”

“Four hours”, he said.

He left with his custom made motorbike, and returned with a small truck in tow about three hours and forty five minutes later with metal bars and everything else.

His brother joined him exactly fifteen minutes later and they started measuring, and cutting metals, and hauled them back and forth.

They moved the water tank, cut down the tower, and instead of asking me for more metal like any other repairman I have ever know, they asked if they can just use the good part of the tower and save me money.


By five in the afternoon, I have a new laundry room; where the cats won’t come and spray on things. I told everyone I don’t want to buy a new washer every two years and pester my donors for it.

They said they will come back early in the morning to paint and clean things up.

I was stunned that they work with speed, efficiency, and more effectiveness any other, that I didn’t think of asking them to get overtime and complete the work.

From behind the front door, I heard them giggling. I went back out and saw Sierra sleeping on their motorbike.

She sleeps so soundly, I was sure she won’t wake up even if a mountain blew right next to her.

“She looks like a baby”, the younger welder said.

They look at each other.

“What about we get back to work and leave her a little while longer”

They looked at me, and marched back inside.

I turned on the light and they painted the whole thing and finished two hours after the day turns dark.

So, I stood there, stunned like never before. It’s 8 at night, and I have just closed that fence behind me. From that time on, for the next ten hours, it will be me and my world.

In all ten years wading through these guys who claimed their trade to be best with double digit years of experience (and still deliver sloppy job) two young men in their twenties beat them in five hours of professional extravaganza, and a kind gesture to a sleeping cat.

I have extra garbage to clean but for that night, I cleaned up with lighter heart.
I will go order a door the next day and while the carpenters put it on, I can go ahead and install the sink so I don’t have to wash the dishes under the rain and neither would my guest.

One more thing to do.

I picked up my phone to ask my manager for some overtime work. It will be even crazier the next few days when I have the new room done and the place cleaned up, so my guest won’t pass out on first sight of seeing the house. I probably will not have much time sitting and posting. I know people will stop reading and donation will stop coming if I don’t come even for one day, as usually happens, but I will take my chances. It will be the first time I will have a volunteer in the sanctuary and probably be the only time in my life history, so I better not blow it. It should never go out that my place looks more like a hoarder’s den than a shelter or we’ll be doomed forever.

This one visit will determine if Whiskers’ Syndicate is going to live on in good name or die in the middle of scorn and fire.

And all I can do is giving my best.

~ Josie


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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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