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29 June 2020

Checking in. How's everyone doing? [More:]Nothing much has changed for me. Still working from home, barely going out. My first trip to the supermarket in three months a week ago was horrendous. Hardly anyone wearing a mask, no social distancing, two staff members (ungloved and unmasked) actually fucking touched me as they moved past me. It's set me back a lot, I ended up more anxious than ever.

Other than that, life is good. I have nothing to complain about.

How are you all doing? Arse_hat? Are you there?
I haven't been sleeping well, waking up far too early. Like, 4am too early. My brain just won't shut. the. %$#@. up. The lack of sleep makes very, very grouchy and distanced from everyone. And, it seems to amplify my depression and anxiety. Fun times.
posted by Thorzdad 30 June | 07:12
My eleven year old nephew has been staying with us for a few weeks while his parents work. I'd like to keep him all summer, but he has to go home soon.
I've been keeping busy with gardening and baking. I haven't been reading many books, which is a customary pastime, I don't have the attention span for it. I've reread a couple of old favorites because it's comforting to do so.

In the past year, both of my biological sisters have died, at quite young ages (the younger was 35 at the time of her death, and the other was 45 at the time of her death), and that is making quarantine and the pandemic especially difficult from an emotional standpoint. The sister who died more recently (pedestrian hit by a pickup truck) did so once lockdown had already gone into place, and there was no service to speak of. I cannot even begin to express how the grief has knocked me over.

Other than that, I can't really complain. By and large, I have a good life and I am even more grateful for it now.
There is so much work to be done in this world. I haven't got much energy to get to it at the moment. Hopefully soon I'll be back up and at it again.

Hugs to all the bunnies, keep punching nazis.
posted by msali 30 June | 13:21
Oh msali, I am so sorry. How awful for you and your family. Take care of yourself. I will recommend grief counselling, which you might find useful, even if it's just an avenue to vent to someone who's not in your immediate circle.

Thorzdad, we had a very hot and humid few days in the UK last week and my sleep was so messed up. Luckily I didn't have to work last week, but I felt 'off' the whole time. That washing machine going round in my brain at 3am and I could not shut it off.
posted by Senyar 30 June | 14:36
Hi Senyar! I did a couple of sessions of grief counselling, but found it difficult to do via the internet. I already promised myself that once 'this' is over, I will go back and give it another try.
I've found the most solace in my garden, and Monty Don is my guru. He's spoken about his struggles with depression and grief, and how much gardening has helped him work through that. I can feel that so strongly in my own bones. My garden has been a source of great comfort to me. I am not depressed but boy have I got some grief to unleash on my perennials!

posted by msali 01 July | 10:35
Monty Don is my TV husband. I love how he says "Hullo. Welcome ... to Gardeners' World." He seems like such a kind, compassionate man. My garden, although small and all in containers and raised beds, gives me so much happiness.
posted by Senyar 01 July | 14:25
Hugs, msali. That's so difficult.
My garden is my good place, too.
posted by mightshould 01 July | 18:38
Of course I am still around. I am not much online anymore but I do come here every day to make sure you folks are OK and do any clean up needed. I just stopped posting because no one seems to read any of it.

All in all things are not bad.

msali I am so sorry to hear that. My wife's aunt died recently and then one of her oldest friends. Not going to a funeral or getting together with people makes it seem, open? unfinished?

Thorzdad my depression often messes with my sleep or my lack of sleep brings the depression I am not sure which but for a while things were going well sleep wise but suddenly something is setting off my post nasal drip and I wake feeling like I am choking with a horrible itch at the back of my throat.

Senyar, this pandemic is grinding but people's reactions can be even worse. My wife is a director for a home so we have been on the front lines of this all year. The residents have been great but some of the families have not. 'why can't I see my mother?' "because we are hoping to keep her from dying of this virus.'

The home, staff and residents, are all clear now and they are trying to stay that way. All staff and residents get tested biweekly and people who want to to visit must show testing results and wear protective gear. Locally you must mask to enter any business.

Considering we are going to be dealing with this for at least a couple more years people are going to have to get used to inconvenience or more death. (AND a new swine flu and possibly a new variant of Ebola!)

All in all though I find the biggest physiological affect 2020 has had on me is that I have reached the end of my ability to listen to Americans or deal with American entertainment. I lived and worked there for a number of years but came to the realization that I could not make the permanent move. Sorry to all the good a American folks I've met here but y'all just too much these days and life is too short.

We still can has cats. I used to write a lot about them in a number of places. I used to write a lot about a lot of things in a lot of places. I have just stopped. Social media has killed any desire to communicate that I used to have. But for whomever might be here, here is an update.

Pan, Wen and Ginger are all still here and we have a new one. The new guy is Badger. It looks like Wilson and Ed Sheeran are gone.

Ed disappeared in the late fall of 2018. I feared he was dead but he returned in the late spring of 2019 only to go missing again in late fall. He has not returned. Ed was a very unusual cat. His body language and the way he reacted to other cats was unlike any cat behavior I have ever seen. I wonder if cats can have something analogous to Autism. In looking at cat behavior I found out that science has really done almost no cat research until this century.

Wilson was always polite and calm. No other cat ever challenged him more than one time. He always stayed calm and gave an unending stare that would cause the other cat to walk away. He seemed to scare them with that look. Over the years he had grown comfortable being up close to me and never hissed or talked. He stopped showing up in late February.

I miss the orange twins.

Ginger is still goofy and active. He gets crazy huge in the winter and slims down for the summer. He still plays and explores but I no longer see him fly out of the pear tree or go up on roofs. I have no idea what he does in the day but he is the only cat that shows up with muddy feet or with strange plants stuck to his side or with a big cluster of burrs on his butt.

Over the last couple of years he has decided to become a pet. He lets me scratch him and then he flops on his back then flips back up and jumps away with a what-the-hell-am-I-doing look. Then he comes back for another round. If I squat down I can pull him into my lap for about 15 seconds before he gets frightened. He really wants to be my best pal but his natural instincts kick in and he spooks himself. Around and around we go.

Some days he shows up early and he sits at the bottom of the steps staring at the back door waiting for me to come out. Sometimes I have come home in the early evening to find him waiting at the door. This always amazes him. I should be coming from inside. Some evenings Wen will be sitting nearby and occasionally Badger too. If I sit on the step Ginger will come up and sit beside me and then lean against me. He never ever purrs. Twice he has made some weird guttural noises that seem to be as close as he can come to a purr. Old injury? Birth defect? I don't know.

He does like to show off his fearlessness to the other cats. One night Wen, Ed, Wilson and Pan were all arranged around the patio and he jumped up and sat on the arm of my chair at my right hand. I could see the tension in his body but he sat there for about ten minuets showing everyone that he is the only one who can sit with the big food bringer.

On a few occasions he has darted in the door as I come in for the night. He looks around the porch in amazement then spins and out. It all happens in about 2 seconds. I think he is trying to convince himself to make the jump from his current life to living in the strange place I inhabit. This was not an issue with Whitey Ford but it would be with Caspar so I have to be careful now. I wonder what Ginger thinks about Whitey. Does he remember their chats at the door?

Ginger and I had a falling out in November. He showed up missing a strip of fur and flesh from his left front leg. I don't know what he got into but it was a very clean slice exposing muscle. I scooped him up to put him in a carrier I keep outside but I got stupid. He was calm and did not fight me so I was not as firm as I should have been with him. Suddenly he was not calm and he did fight. I got some scratches and he ran off. He did not come back for 4 days. Thankfully when he did return his wound looked clean and was scabbing over in a nice fashion. I never got him to a vet but he healed up nicely. It took about two weeks before he would come to me again.

Between Whitey Ford and Ginger, I think I have a fairly good idea of how people and cats came to a symbiotic relationship back in north Africa, Egypt, and the east Mediterranean thousands of years ago.

Wen is still long and tall and cool and dignified. He first arrived here following Ginger. Ginger did not want to be followed but it happened. They became if not friends, at least cohorts. For a long time they arrived together and left together each night, Wen behind Ginger learning the ropes.

I remember a snowy night I went out for a walk. It was thick with huge wet snow flakes but quiet and muffled and as I made my way down the street that runs into my street I saw Ginger and Wen turn out of an alley and head towards my house. They did not see me or hear me and I got to walk the block and a half home behind them. Ginger had to trot to Wen's long lope and every second step his big butt would bang up against Wen's flank. bomp bomp bomp

After he got comfortable here Wen pulled back from Ginger somewhat. He would sit quietly and watch Ginger carry on looking for my attention and getting into everything he could and then Wen would look at me as if saying 'he is my friend but sometimes he embarrasses me.' He also started a feud with Pan. He is twice her size but she is tough and obstinate. She got hurt but she did not back down.

Pan likes her house at the side of our house and in the colder months spends most of her time in there. I was shocked to find that Wen and Pan started to share a house during the cold weather. During the worst part of the winters they are now always together. Come spring they go their separate ways but join up again the next winter.

Pan is the most swaggering macho of the group. A tiny little girl she makes up for it with attitude. But in the last year I can see her getting older. For years she would come for breakfast then set off, always to the north, to do whatever she does. Many days she would be back after dark but sometimes she would be gone for one to three days. Even in the winter months she would go off for the day. Now she goes off on the nicer days but is always back before nightfall and she never went off this winter. She also just moves slower and takes a bit more time with her jumps. I sometimes think of bringing her indoors and giving her a gentler last few years but she is so very independent I think that might be worse. She has made her life the way she wants it to be and I should maybe just leave her be. I'll just keep my eye on her and let her set the agenda.

I do think Ginger may become an indoor cat a some point. He has definitely made himself my buddy and he really does have a great interest in entering that place I disappear into. I'll leave the timing up to him.

In Whitey Ford's last year we started buying different types of cheap canned food to keep his apatite up. When he died we had a bunch of cans so I figured I would give it to the outdoor cats. I gave half a can to Ginger and you would think I had put down a bowl of fresh shit. He took one sniff and moved away and stared at me. 'What the hell is that? Where is my food?' After twenty minutes or so I put out his regular food but he would not eat that until I moved the offending stuff away.

The next morning I tried it with Pan. Wow. Quiet dignified girl suddenly had her head in the bowl and then came up with food on her face. 'More!' She hung around the patio all day waiting for another round. It took about a week for her to accept it was a one time a day thing. So now she, as the oldest of the group, gets a breakfast of cheap canned food.

Badger is the newest member of the group. He (I think a male but I still have to trap and fix so not sure yet) is black with a white badge on his chest and some white on his belly. Like all of them he was crazy hungry when he first arrived but has settled into more regular eating now. He was super skittish and is still distant but he is also an addict. A bit of cat nip left out boosted his confidence immensely. After the first night he started coming back getting closer and closer looking for a hit of the good stuff.

I told you about how Caspar came into our lives just before Whitey died. That was a good thing. Having to get to know a new household companion did help soften the blow of losing the big guy.

Caspar is my assistant in all things. If I am sitting he has no interest but the moment I get up he is at my side 'what are we doing?' He helps with everything but the vacuum and really loud power tools.

He is bright in most ways but he still can't pull open a door. Push, yes, but pull, no. It just seems to be a mental block. He is well behaved for the most part. In his first few weeks he darted out three times. That was a no go. If he would behave with others I could let him out but he is too disruptive of the colony and he also gets beat up. So when he went out I would not let him eat outdoors and I would not let him in until he understood he would not be just coming and going as he pleased.

The other bad thing he has done is cutting the cords to my stuff. He bit through three headphone cords and my phone charger and just yesterday he stole my phone. I mentioned to my wife I'd like to get a wrist band for my phone so if I dropped it while taking a picture it would not hit the ground. She made one and I put it on my phone. Caspar spotted it after just an hour or so and he took my phone. I had to go to retrieve it, he fought me for it, and when I returned Nora Lou Who had her foot in my porridge.

Nora Lou Who is the other addition to our home. A few months after we got Caspar I was walking to a friend's place when I saw a cat sitting on the steps of a boarded up house. There were empty cat food tins so someone seemed to be feeding her. She was small with a tiny head, skinny legs and the skinniest tail I have ever seen. She is black with a white badge and some white on her tummy. Her body is short and kind of lumpy.

She looked rough, covered in scabs and with a bald patch across her forehead. Not my story but someone was trying to care for her but she had fleas and a severe flea allergy. I took her home with a promise to get her treated and to love her. Her name is Nora Lou Who and at the time she was a year and a half old and spayed.

The vet did not think she was that old and thought she was pregnant but after an exam said yes she is about that age and she is fixed. She is just odd. A kitten sized head, the aforementioned skinny limbs, and an short lumpy body. Five hundred dollars later and we had her free of fleas and healing.

We have a small room upstairs that is mostly not used so I made a door with some chicken wire and she spent the first two weeks in there getting used to us and she and Caspar got to know each other with out anyone losing any fur.

She has gained weight and so looks less lumpy but she is still odd looking. She learned from Caspar and now I have two assistants. I try to put clothes in the washer and Caspar is on top in the way and she is butting the back of my legs with her head (she is not really built for jumping up on things). If I am not fast enough with the door they both follow into the bathroom. If I am fast enough they wait anxiously at the door.

For a long time she had a habit of smacking Caspar in the face for no reason but she seems to have moved on. I think mainly because Caspar is so much faster. She would walk up and hit him then he would thump her three times before she even knew what happened. They now seem fine together.

If I scratch her by the base of her tail she tries to look over her shoulder but she has no flexibility so she ends up slowly turning in a clockwise rotation. Caspar on the other hand can lay with his front legs facing one way and the back legs the other. He also likes to sleep on his back.

Nora likes dinner time, moving round our feet making her little murmal and cherup sounds and just enjoying the communal time but Casper hates seeing people eat and always leaves the room when someone does. He likes to watch me cook and sits on top of the flip-top garbage can to do so. He has a crazy and loud purr and hers in so quiet you have to get right up to her face to hear it. At first light they both like to flop on top of sleeping me and raise my body temp until I wake up sweating.

So we have one sleek perfect show cat and one weird wonderful lumpy cat. Bonus points, they both love attention and pets and pats but neither are lap cats and that is good for my back.

Some good things still happen.

Hugs to anybunnies still around. I wish we still had a good crowd to share things with here. Please stay well you few.
posted by arse_hat 01 July | 19:16
arse_hat, I really enjoy and appreciate your narrative about the kitties. You have a great ability to pack so much life into the summaries.

Plus, y'all are good people to look after the crew.
posted by mightshould 03 July | 11:18
This goes out to the entire world... || I was sent this link this morning.