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

Perfect Day from the Home Office

The day started perfectly with one of my favorite things—I was able to hang my laundry on the clothesline outside. I find that peaceful and meditative and it gives me great satisfaction.

My home office was a very crowded place. In part, because I moved to the sun porch to enjoy the nice sunshine.

I made two amazing poached eggs on a baked potato for lunch.

And the teenager took her scooter and the neighbor’s dog on an adventure and texted me gorgeous photos of her day.

And finally — I saved the best for last— the teenager sent me a photo of my truck. Periodically the construction company puts this Grad-all truck up for sale and I really want it.

Here’s a better photo. I love this truck so much I keep a photo on my phone. I do. I really do.

And if you want even more silliness; this is the day I told my daughter I wanted this truck.

Video: I want this truck

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?

Through tired eyes

I. Am. Exhausted.

March was shaping up to be an exhausting month at work before it even started because of all the grants I had to finish— I forget how many so we’ll round to ten. And a couple needed reports.

Then we added a couple last minute important government opportunities and dealt with some EITC issues… if you don’t know what EITC is don’t worry about it, it’s a Pennsylvania tax program for corporations that benefits education.

And then we hit the state emergency of Corona virus/COVID-19 shutdown.

My employer has the largest full-choice food pantry in the County and we serve hundreds of households every month. We educated about a hundred people daily in our classrooms. We serve students in the schools. Provide assistance to walk-ins, existing clients and referrals.

So this has changed everything. The CEO is scrambling. Meetings are going virtual. Our educators are looking at distance learning. Our food pantry staff and volunteers are bagging food instead of letting clients shop.

And now we need to design a schedule and a work plan to use our homes as offices.

Ideally, we no more than 3 people in our admin building at a time. (There are only six of us.)

Tomorrow I have to take the old MacBook Air into the office and hope I can get it to connect to the remote server. Otherwise, I am not allowed to work from home.

And I forgot my journal on my desk, and my planner, but my planner I can survive without. But my journal? Noooooooo!

Every morning, I get up, pour a cup of mostly decaf coffee and write in my journal while the cats eat. Not having this ritual will be upsetting.

To lighten the mood, here is a cat photo from the freshly cleaned room of the teenager:

And an unboxing of this months treats— a Universal Yums box from Brazil (featuring Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo):

Universal Yums March 2020

Just another Saturday

I woke up this morning worried about things I can’t control, and to a cat coughing up a hairball somewhere in the darkness of my room. It was 4 a.m. and to get myself back to sleep, I keep imagining a cleansing white light.

I imagined the white light getting brighter and brighter. It filled my house, came up my stairs and saturated my room. It brought me calm and helped me get to sleep.

I finally gave up on sleep around 7 a.m. but laid in bed until 7:30. I got up, fed the cats, started a load of laundry and cared for the birds.

Then I finished the first season of Hell’s Kitchen while folding clean laundry and hanging wet wash.

I had a piece of toast, put dishes away, washed the pots and pans, and scrubbed the kitchen counter (even the trivet and the toaster— have to periodically get those crumbs out of the toaster.)

And I found what could be very handy if COVID-19 ends up in my neighborhood: a bottle of Hibiclens the doctor told the teenager to use in the shower before her surgery in November.

My college professor neighbor and I had coffee on her porch, while I was clad in my African dress that I bought in Djibouti for my trip to Somalia.

I vacuumed the sun porch. Did some necessary paperwork. Gave Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, a shower. Scrubbed the tub, but not as well as I would have liked.

But I didn’t strip my bed or play with my new make up.

This evening my other neighbor took us to dinner at La Bella’s as a thank you for watching her dog.

Amazing Bread

The teenager decided to compliment our server every time she came to the table. I had chicken penne vodka. The child had seafood spaghetti vodka. The portions were ginormous and the seafood seemed good. I’m not a seafood fan.

See those bumpy calamari?

I think I’ll have enough leftovers for TWO lunches. As with the teen. And my neighbor. And then my neighbor took us to Owwowcow for ice cream. I got cinnamon bourbon.

The food was scrumptious but made me sad because I’m still having mild dental issues. My neighbor is looking at a root canal so we’re a good pair.

And now we’re home. Roomba is vacuuming my bedroom.

The teen is trying cone incense for the first time. She tried to pick natural varieties that wouldn’t burn my eyes and sinuses. She asked me what to burn, so we went for the cleansing sandalwood— vanilla sandalwood to be exact.

I used to use sandalwood soap to bathe before I practiced rituals and vanilla is a very pure, comforting flavor and scent to me.

I asked the teen, who now has her own altar with her own selected candles on it, why do you burn incense?

She answered, “because it clears my sinuses and helps me focus.”

Good girl, I thought.