Shopping is different now

My teenager wanted junk food and wanted out of the house so she accompanied her father grocery shopping. At Target. Her choice.

I made her a list, downloaded the Target Circle app to her phone, logged her into my account and loaded all my coupon.

We weren’t at the point where we needed groceries, but if things are going to get scarce, I want to be ready. I’m not hoarding but I’m trying to stay ahead of what people want next.

I use a lot of bleach, white vinegar, Borax powder and baking soda when I clean because of all the animals so I asked her to grab them if she saw them.

Flour, cooking oil, tuna fish, peanut butter. Things like that. Well, tuna is getting more scarce so I asked her to get canned chicken. It was that or the expensive tuna. Next time we’ll grab some Spam.

She even nabbed a bottle of acetaminophen— PM. But hey, if I need the acetaminophen I might need sleep, too.

This morning for breakfast we had the last of our homemade crepes, turkey bacon, scrambled egg and smoked Gouda (with pickles).

The teenager and I FaceTimed my parents— which was a riot because I don’t think they ever FaceTimed before so they were struggling with the camera angles and my stepmom was showing me pages from her cookbook while my daughter chased cats around the house.

And then I got a text. My prescription was ready at CVS.

The teen and I had a 30% off coupon expiring today so we walked the half mile to the pharmacy. I got my prescription. We got a bottle of acetaminophen without sleep aid. And she got a gallon of Arizona iced tea. We got some other impulse buys that included a strawberry Twinkie, which resulted in a very silly video of us:

Taste test of the Strawberry Twinkie

Pet update: The down low of home quarantine with a crazy cat/bird lady menagerie (and a teenager)

Some of this might be repeat for my regular followers, but I thought it would be nice to compile some of the animal news here.

Lord knows happy pet news can be beneficial to everyone’s spirits.

Oz

Opie and Oz, our two male tiger stripe cats, both turned 9 this month. Nine! The teenager and I raised Oz—the big, dumb, cuddly teddy bear—from a three-month-old kitten rescued from the local animal shelter.

The teenager, then turning seven, wanted an older pug but her father said no dogs and certainly not a pug. So we explored the kittens, basically because my husband trusted me more raising cats.

Oz was one of several kittens from a litter the animal shelter named after Pepsi products and his original name was Dasani. Oz was the tiniest kitten with the biggest damn paws. He grew into a big cat, with an even bigger docile personality.

The teenager named him after The Wizard of Oz but also after Scott Green’s werewolf character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then her favorite TV show.

I made the decision to put Oz down when he was three because he had recurring urinary crystals and we couldn’t afford the $1000+ surgery he needed to flush the crystals out of his urethra or the even more expensive surgery to cut off his penis and make him a bigger hole to pee from so he could pass future crystals.

Luckily, the veterinary practice had a young vet who had never performed the surgery and offered to use him as a test case for $600. At that point, that is what I was almost spending to put him down. I think it was $200 more expensive that killing him. So I took the deal.

That’s why Oz can only eat wet food.

And Oz had a fear of drinking water— because he associated it with the pain of passing the crystals when he urinated.

He has since learned to drink lots of water.

But he still has an obsessive desire to eat kibble.

Opie

Opie, our other male cat, is a major badass. Super loyal. Super cat-like. Some cats act more like stereotypical cats that others. Opie is pure feline.

In addition to a birthday this month, Opie also celebrates the one year anniversary of his leg amputation. Opie is a kitty cat bone cancer survivor.

We took Opie in when he was seven months old after friends rescued him from a feral mama. They had planned to keep him but their other cats picked on him.

Oz was still a kitten at the time and the two got along beautifully and look very similar.

Opie is on the top, Oz to the right, Fog left

Opie was our head mouser, but the kittens might give him a challenge.

Mistofelees (Misty)

Misty was the first of three kittens my daughter trapped between late December and late January. They were born probably in late October under my neighbor’s porch.

Misty was the runt. When the others went out to hunt with Mama, he stayed behind.

My daughter worked very hard to tame him and earn his trust.

I think Misty is on the right

We trapped the kitten that later got naked Smoky next. The neighbor named it. And it found a good home. But now a theme was developing.

Fog

Fog was the last one trapped. I named her to fit the theme. She was on her own for about two weeks after Smoky. She would reach into the trap from the side, slip her paw into the food and ladle it out of the trap lick by lick.

When we reunited her with her brother, my heart melted and I couldn’t give her up.

The Budgies: Boo, Wink and Yo

Peek-a-Boo (Boo-boo), so named because she was so spastic when she came home we thought she had a hurt wing, is the dominant bird in the group. And the fattest. She is pure yellow.

The teenager bought her and Periwinkle (Wink) for me as a Christmas present. Wink is the pale blue bird and the most skittish of the group. She and Boo were bonded from the pet store.

I added Yo-Yo (Yo) to the group last fall because I really wanted a traditional green parakeet and to add a male. He is vivid green with some yellow and this amazing navy blue tail.

The teenager made a lot of progress hand-feeding them but hasn’t maintained the training.

And that leaves… Nala.

Nala

Nala is a four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo with a lot of attitude. I have no large bird experience but she took to me. We brought her home in early January.

She can be very obstinate, which is very common in cockatoos, but we are progressing well.

In the beginning, toweling too often became necessary to keep her from being too aggressive but now that we have learned more about each other it is easier for me to work with her and I can often get her to do something she really doesn’t think is fair— like go to bed—without even threatening to towel her.

It helps that I finally found a treat she can’t resist. She turns her nose up at everything.

She’s displaying a new behavior that I call the “step up” noise and she uses it when she wants to confirm my step up command or is asking me to come get her or sometimes as a demand, like when I won’t let her have my coffee.

Here’s a video from yesterday:

Nala says, “step up.”

A random Coronavirus list after 7 days of working at home

1. Pets can really brighten your day. And steal your earrings. And make you laugh. And make a mess. And sleep next to you in the sun. I think every dog in my neighborhood loves having everyone home.

2. Thanks to my office colleagues and teenager I can now make a FaceTime call with multiple people.

3. I eat less when at home. I realize how big of a stress eating problem I have. When I’m home and calmer, I eat smaller meals so even though I am exercising less, I am losing weight.

4. I don’t miss my bra, but I have to wear real pants even in my home office. For some reason I can’t focus in my pajama pants or comfy pants. It makes me want to be lazy instead of productive.

5. I love lists, but they are a reaction to stress. The more I am distanced from the rat race mentality of our typical American lifestyle, the less I make lists. My to-do lists are created out of a frantic need to prove my productivity to my family, myself and my colleagues. I find myself more in control and less driven to make lists as my lifestyle gets quieter.

6. There is no such thing as free lunch. I’ve been watching the news coverage on the stimulus package and average Americans— the barely middle class ones like myself and those struggling—need to understand that this appears to be an advance on your 2020 refund.

That makes me uncomfortable. It’s an election year, so who knows what will be happening to our tax structure in the future and this bill is enormous. We will have to pay it back somehow or it will damage our economy in the long run.

Plus, for many of us, our jobs and income are unstable right now. And even if we do have good jobs, we might not be seeing raises. And how will this all impact inflation?

I understand it’s a measure to help us survive right now. But I hope this situation helps more people understand that we need to spend less and save more.

7. I’m eating my vegetables. And taking my vitamins. And tracking my moods—because I had been having issues with my blood pressure and no doctor, no matter how much he cares, is going to check my blood pressure right now.

I was talking to a colleague that I last went to Wegmans more than 2 weeks ago. She asked how I have any produce. I taught her my trick. I bought apples, oranges and green bananas. I bought fresh Brussel sprouts, potatoes, spaghetti squash, radishes and a giant cabbage.

Root vegetables for the win!

8. Sunshine saves the day. Working, via extension cord because I have the old laptop with no battery power, on the enclosed porch beats the dining room table.

If you want more info on the tax bill:

From Forbes.com

From Yahoo money

Silly things that made me happy today, dedicated to Covid-19

I have truly enjoyed working at home, alone, just me and the menagerie. It gives me a little bit of emotional distance from my office and keeps my stress levels lower.

My house has a lovely enclosed from porch. It’s an old house, so it’s nothing fancy but it’s picturesque and sunny even on cold winter days.

When we first bought the house, my husband would tease me because I spent so much time on my porch— he said my superpowers would fade if I stayed away too long.

So today I had several really nice bright spots on my day.

1. Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo, was cuddly.

2. I put on real clothes. No bra, but a real outfit. Like office attire.

3. I found two generic knock-offs of dark chocolate Petit Écolier cookies in my cupboard and they weren’t even stale. They were breakfast.

4. Nala finally started ripping apart her huge paper toy. I was starting to think she didn’t like it

5. I have only left the house 4 times in the last 8 days and 3 of them were for work. Today, the mailman in my neighborhood was late and I had a very important grant application with proper postage and everything. I decided to go to the post office.

The experience ended up being a really good one— they verified the amount of postage, didn’t mock my packaging skills, added a tracking number and estimated the package’s arrival time.

Here’s where my isolation shows.

The postal worker looked at me and asked if I needed anything else like stamps, blah, blah, blah.

I got ridiculously excited.

You know, I am down to my last stamp at home. I would love a book of stamps.

Me, being a dork at the post office

“Are the orchids okay?” she asks.

“Yes,” I reply. “Orchids would be perfect.”

I was giddy over stamps.

Co-Star Astrology and the intimate, magical relationship with myself

My Horoscope Today

I have the free Co-Star Astrology App which actually creates your birth chart and plots your daily horoscope from there.

At 1 pm daily, I get a push notification that reads with whatever message is on that lightbulb line.

I really liked today’s. It made me quiver a bit in excitement.

You are here to develop an intimate, magical relationship with yourself.

Hell, yes.

I’ve been working 8 a.m to 6 p.m. for about a week now and every day I say, “Today is the day I will clock out on time.”

Today I was driving home from Staples. I had to have photocopies made of a grant proposal. And they could only have ten people in the store at a time.

There was no traffic.

And somehow, alone in my house, those ten hour workdays are less stressful and exponentially more productive than 8 in the office. But I think that’s because the world itself has slowed.

I got a compliment from my boss today. A small one. I haven’t gotten one of those in a while. She called a letter I composed for her to sign, “very nice.”

It’s also fun to see how various colleagues react to working from home and the amusing casual messages we exchange because we don’t have that office interaction. Like George asks me every day if I’m having anything good for lunch.

So right now is a good time to develop an intimate, magical relationship with myself as it’s just me. And the cats. And the kittens. And the birds.

At least until the teenager returns home from her dad’s.

My pandemic gratitude list

Today one of the counties next to mine— the county where my dad lives, the county where a lot of my friends live—went on lockdown due to Covid-19. Governor’s orders.

It was day three for me of working from home and so far my average work day is 9 hours long. Not because I’m an undisciplined worker but because I work at a human services non-profit and the current health crisis impacts us as an agency and also intensifies the struggles of many of our clients.

So, I decided to revive a tradition my neighbor started with me when she first moved into my neighborhood. Every day we would text each other three things we were grateful for, and we did this for probably four months before the tradition died. The goal was to never repeat. And the items could be small. Like “I am grateful for dry socks.”

Today I’m going to share with you my pandemic gratitude list.

  1. I am grateful for my job. It’s stressful, and I often find myself overwhelmed but my colleagues are amazing, my agency does great work, and I know I am learning so many new things I would have never had the chance to learn otherwise.
  2. I am grateful for the reconnection happening because of the virus. Today a former colleague texted me. Yesterday a friend who moved to Florida telephoned. I hadn’t really communicated with them in probably six months, but people are trying to check in on others right now.
  3. I am grateful for medical professionals that care. I had one doctor call me today to say he was closing his face-to-face practice for a while because of the virus and he wanted to tell me himself and be sure I knew how to reach him if I needed him. That was very kind.
  4. I am grateful for these kittens. My human baby is going to be 16 in June. The kitten I got her for her birthday has just turned nine. It’s been a long time since we had any babies in the house. Their mischief makes me laugh and their cuddly baby selves are just heart warming.

5. I am grateful for cheap pizza. Like Little Caesars. And delivery chains like Dominos. As a stress food pizza and brownies and cool ranch Doritos never disappoint.

6. I am grateful to be more-or-less able-bodied. Yes, it can be difficult to deal with cerebral palsy. Yes, my S-1 joint gives me a lot of trouble and I wish I could afford all the chiropractor visits I need and a personal trainer to help motivate me to do my exercises but hey— it’s my body and we work well together most of the time.

7. I am grateful for eyeglasses. Without them, I would be lost.

8. I am grateful for electric blankets, thick comforters, pretty duvet covers, fluffy pillows and weighted blankets. Bed should be cozy.

9. I am grateful for birdsong. I never would have imagined the positive impact those parakeets would have on my bedroom. Their happy little chirps when the sun shines really brighten my day.

10. I am grateful for my family. That includes my wicked smart and super kind teenage daughter and her dad. He was altruistic enough to lend me his laptop when this pandemic began, so I could work from home without stealing our daughter’s laptop.

Feel free to comment below with your own pandemic gratitude list.

Life amended: Update after week one of preemptive Coronavirus quarantine

It’s Saturday morning. A time when my blog entries normally focus on my birds flying around my room, cuddling kittens and sipping coffee in bed trying to forget the stress of the week.

The vernal equinox came and went and I didn’t even acknowledge it.

My normal two-week schedule at the office is 75 hours as a salaried development officer in a human services non-profit. I worked 86 and am trying not to add more hours this weekend.

Our CEO made the decision to close our buildings completely for the next week, assuming our facilities have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. So we will be working from home.

I love working from home, so that’s not an issue for me.

And in general, the pandemic brings me a sense of calm. The empathetic side of me relishes the slow down of the world. It brings me peace.

The only real worry I have right now is my right foot. I thought I had a splinter. My daughter, whose eyesight is way better than mine, assured me no. But it still hurts, and I think it’s been almost 2 weeks. And the ball of my foot is painful and swollen.

I started soaking it in Epsom salts and in my impatience this morning, I clumsily lanced it and am soaking it again. I still believe something is in there and will cause an infection if I’m not prudent.

Bandage and betadine next.

Fog

Of course I have helpers.

Misty

But they have gone on to do their own thing…

Hard to believe these guys were feral.

The first Pennsylvania death from the Coronavirus happened in the hospital where my daughter and her father were born. Cases are now here in our county. And all of the neighboring counties.

I urge you all to remember that every time you come in contact with anyone, you are also being exposed to everyone they have been near.

I know I am healthy. I know I am not in a high risk group. But I don’t want to carry this illness to anyone I care about. I don’t want to be the reason someone else dies.

I don’t want to see the economy and our quality of life degrade to the level of some dystopian fantasy novel.

That will happen soon enough because of overpopulation and global warming.

Overpopulation and Global Warming.

Let that sink in.

So, I downloaded the list of life sustaining businesses allowed to be open at this time. Beer distributors and Wawa made the cut.

Target made the cut. (They have groceries, health items and CVS pharmacies.) But I hear from my former Target colleagues that families are treating it like an outing and bringing the whole gang. People are shopping for bikinis.

We’re in for a long road.

Hear me, bikini people?