Covid Kitty Campaigns

 

For everyone who’s not quite themselves right now, I offer this cute picture of a cat. Because cat photos are the only thing left in America not full of controversy and political connotations. You can’t have a pet elephant or a pet donkey or let’s put it out there – a dog – these days because people will form immediate conclusions about what you probably eat for breakfast and I just can’t handle that level of stereotyping.

Stop judging me.

I did not ask for this cat, yet the cat is here. In my house. Shredding my curtains. Turning his elegant little whiskers up at the expensive canned cat food I was told I had to feed him. I worry every single day that he will push his way through our second-story window in his effort to eat a woodpecker flying by and while I am eager to feed him the feathery treat, I also don’t want to see the cat splat.

This cat is now personal.

I have some basic questions now that I own a cat.

But mostly I want to know whether cats have the same rights as dogs. For years I’ve thrown a little hissy fit when I see dog owners bring their dogs into the grocery stores, riding in the front of the cart like a kid. They strap the dog’s leash to the table leg in the patio of the cafe and never ask if anyone at the table next to them has a dog allergy. Or is maybe terrified of dogs. Assuming they keep their dogs on the leash, of course. They walk their dogs on the trails, watch them defecate, then mumble something about “picking that up on my way out”. Their dogs go camping with them, get pushed in strollers through the park, wear little “service animal” vests, are allowed to hump your leg and sniff your crotch upon meeting you.

You are supposed to take it for the love it is and say, “Good Doggy.”

Ahem.

While I am not proposing that a cat is the same as a dog is the same as an iguana is the same as a jackrabbit, I am suggesting that my cat should be able to party in the same circles. If my cat can play “fetch” and come when I call him and knows how to keep his little business in a litterbox, it’s only logical that he can go for walks on his leash, play at “dog beach”, or hang out with me at the swanky local cafe.

Wait.

Dog Beach? That feels a little species specific, don’t you think?

And those swanky little cafes have Pup Pops, Puppy Patties, yogurt frosted Pupcakes, soy ice cream cups, Canine Cuisine, and FREE PUPPUCCINOS. Kitty Menu much?

Nuthin.

Are you saying I have to go all the way to Minnesota to enjoy a cat cafe? And if I want to visit an actual beach just for cats, I have to go to Malaysia? Obviously, someone has to be the San Diego trailblazer.

Stop judging me.

Kitty + Harness + Catpack = Adventures

A Whole New World

One Small Step for KittenKind!

Murder Mystery Mayhem

 

Salutations favorite peeps! My incredibly good mood this morning could be blamed on several things. September is finally here and my anticipation of snuggly sweaters, flamboyant scarves, and leather boots is entirely too optimistic but is undeniably arrived. I am at the bottom of my first perfect cup of tea for the day. And I managed to stack up a total of five dead bodies last month.

It’s motivating.

I wasn’t that kid in middle school who could work a Rubik’s Cube. It crossed my eyes and when no one was looking, I peeled the little stickers off and pasted them back together on each side because my OCD was off the charts, seeing those colored squares out of place. I spent all of high school drama practice learning to french braid my own hair. It’s like underwater basket weaving, blind folded. These things can be done, but you have to access whole other parts of your brain to attempt them.

And I only have so much brain.

My official first Murder Mystery is accomplished, is what I’m trying to tell you, and writing it felt exactly like riding Mr Toad’s Wild Ride while attempting to french braid my curly hair and recite the alphabet backwards. There was a lot of lurching and laughing but also occasional shrieks.

The plot involves a fresh heroine, Loveda Brown, who races into the tiny town of Idyllwild, California in the Year of Our Lord 1912 and much mayhem and murder and mistaken identities occur. Technically classified as both a “historical” and a “cozy”, you won’t find violence or grisly bits on the pages but you will find humor and small town relationships because I am absolutely making this into a series. Hopefully, at least the first two will be available by Halloween. That just feels logical.

If you like things that go bump in the night, drop me a comment here. Let me know if you want to be on my list of super-sneaky, sworn-to-secrecy beta readers, the peeps who read my drafts and tell me which parts require tightening up. Like a noose. I’m currently taking auditions for my next villain and he or she must be willing to kill for all the right reasons and clever enough to get away with it. Tell me about your fave mystery, whether it’s a book, TV show, movie, or pandemic conspiracy theory. Some day, you might even find your name in one of my books.

Dead or alive.

Click this image to read the first chapter of “The Great Loveda Brown”.

If you want to keep up with the books and when they launch, subscribe to the Newsletter here:

My Monthly Newsletter

One minute, please...

Thank you for joining the party!

A VHS Time Warp

 

Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you and sometimes, it arrives in time to help.

Let’s hit the pause button.

We used to own an obscure Disney movie that was part of an extensive VHS collection. It lived in a box labeled “Mommy’s Sanity”. We dipped into it so frequently that my two year old could operate the VCR on his own. I should have asked him to program it so the time displayed correctly. Too late now.

Some of you may have seen “So Dear to My Heart” at one time or another. I suppose its popularity faded as fast as an actual Disney movie with morals – and Bible stories! – in it would. It’s as preachy as Pollyanna and as bathed in buttermilk as Charlotte’s Web. You might be wondering whether my kidlets picked up some nice manners or learned a few lessons on how to respect their elders.

But no.

Fast forward about sixteen years.

My baby boys are all grown up and can drive cars and everything, although I feel in my bones that driving the VCR was far less dangerous. A friend of theirs is flying into San Diego and my boys insist that they are going to pick him up at the airport. I attempt logic first.

“No problemo. I’ll drive you guys and you can load him into the car. Just ignore me, pretend I’m the chauffeur.”

“No, mom. So uncool. We don’t need a driver. We can do it ourselves.”

“You’ve never been to the airport to pick someone up before. The place is a multilayered pretzel on steroids. You’ll take the wrong exit and get all turned around and the clock will be ticking while your friend stands on the curb wondering where you are and YOU NEVER SHOW UP.”

“Mom. Jeez.” Eye rolls, pats on the head, and the casual mention of senility because apparently mama has forgotten that they are MEN and can DO this and just hand over the KEY.

“Look. Boys. You don’t have smart phones. I’ve never seen you read a road map. The place is crawling with one way streets. Just call me when you get lost. I’ll talk you in from where ever you are stuck and get you there, okay? Easy, peasy. Don’t panic. Just pull over in a safe location and call me. Please.”

Three hours of phone silence go by. I hold my head high because this very fact proves beyond doubt that they are, indeed, men. I am that super cool mom who refuses to call them and check in. Instead, I pace the house and stare for the millionth time at the map of the San Diego airport.

“Just turn on Laurel,” I tell it.

When the men return victorious, I pat their little egos on the head and take my key back. I’ll check the paint job and the gas tank level later. There is loud banter as they proceed directly to the kitchen to attack the fridge and scatter its remains throughout my kingdom.

But later, in the shadows, a snitch tells me the story. He is both joyful and triumphant as he hits the rewind button.

“Mom. Remember that movie when we were kids? The one with the black sheep? And the kid wants to find honey? Remember that? Well, we got totally lost downtown today and we pulled over to discuss our options when a plane went over our head. So we decided to follow the planes.”

“Follow the planes?”

“Yeah. Like the movie. He tells the kid to just find a bee and follow it home. That’s where the hive is. So, we just kept turning on whichever road went the same direction as the planes. And we found the airport!”

Now, isn’t that a dilly?

The JARR Farmhouse Revisited

 

What a difference three months can make! For everyone considering, attempting, or winning at urban homesteading, here are some things to consider from “a house of four women who are completely unqualified farmers” but are having a go anyway, sharing inspiration and creative tips for container gardening and other homestead adventures direct from the southern California quarantine.

In April, the planter beds and containers were set up, the soil prepared, and the sowing commenced. See the previous post for our “before” photos. A lot of new skills came into play during May, June, and July, and now it’s time for the summer harvest. Let’s see how the ladies managed.

  1. Remember this lil chick? She was a dude. Four hens came home. One was an imposter and crows now.

    Are we planting flowers or fowls?

    Claudius Maximus Caesar is a lavender orpington. Attitude sold separately.

    Pika is a pheasant cochin, Mochi is a blue leghorn, and Boo is a blue plymouth. They trade manure and eggs for leftover garden produce and bugs. Win, win.

  2. Chickens here require a coop built like a maximum detention facility. Suburbia is no barrier to critters like coons, possums, snakes, weasels, bobcats, coyotes, hawks, skunks, and toddlers, all of whom love to ruin months of hard work in a single night. Build it, and they will come. Search my blog for other stories on chickens.

    Extra points for cuteness. This went inside a larger, chain-link enclosure.

  3. Speaking of extra, the watermelon patch has taken over most of the yard. The first five seeds were planted in April. Nothing happened. They planted another five seeds in May. Nothing sprouted. They bought watermelon seedlings and then it rained. Fifteen watermelon plants later, they could open a corner farm stand and sell melons if they wanted to. For now, they are making friends and influencing people with them. Smart business ladies.

    Summer picnic time!

  4. That one rain is a good reminder about SoCal: we have to water our yards and gardens. We live in a desert. But we are in denial. The spring months were unseasonably cool but by the end of July, the hot spells rolled in. Either way…we have to get out there and water the garden or lose everything. Here you can see the block planter with herbs gone to seed, the shelf planter with greens gone to bunnies (they jump? who knew?) and only part of the rioting watermelon patch.

    Planter mosh pit.

  5. Rows of corn planted along a fence grew to different heights, based precisely on how much sun vs shade they received during the day. Lesson: more sun = taller corn. Taller corn = more ears.

    Growing gold.

  6. The pumpkins fared well, although we are nowhere close to Halloween. Lesson: plant them in the summer for a fall harvest. Also: chunk them into the InstantPot and make homegrown pumpkin pies now because yum.

    Smallish but tasty.

  7. The rest of the garden grew nicely. The cucumbers and peppers are ready. Fresh salad greens came through quickly around the end of May and were afterward left to the bunnies. Late July is when tomatoes are bursting. The butternut squash were delicious.

    Chili pepper poppers, anyone?

    Little cuke cuties!

    Cheery cherry tomatoes!

  8. Last, but not least, we had a peek at the fruit trees in pots. I was a bit skeptical, but here’s proof that you don’t need a yard to harvest trees. These would fit on an apartment balcony.

    Meyer lemon tree. Harvest in winter.

    Mission figs. They will turn a glorious purple later.

Rock On, My Peeps

 

There came a moment in the spring of 2020 when all of the planet took a time-out. In this sabbath hush, the earth could be heard breathing. In order to better hear it, everyone stepped outside and walked the dusty soil, admired her fragile blue-green beauty, felt her pulse, and embraced all humanity as family.

Okay. It may have been a tadsy bit difficult to continue our faith in humanity. To trust that others will also think of others. To believe that tiny gestures of faith can change the world.

Here in San Diego, I discovered evidence that many gave it a go. And I salute them.

We are blessed to live next to some fabulous hiking trails and we wander them almost daily. A favorite walk of mine is a nice, flat 5K that is wide enough to let me take evasive action if I see snakes or non-mask wearing humans. Hubby always wants to hike in new different directions. He says he is bored with the same old gorgeous view and needs a fresh one. He wants to walk the wild side and go uphill. As if life wasn’t already uphill both ways in four feet of snow.

And so, my favorite walk, in imminent jeopardy of becoming “boring”, was saved when the art began to appear. Paintings left along the path, mysteriously detailed on rocks. And just as mysteriously, disappearing again. I was fascinated and had I not taken photos, would not have proof they were there. It was like discovering my own whimsical outdoor art gallery and it brought a smile to my face every time I uncovered one.

Turns out, these little gems were shifting around on purpose. Just like a Bible school project I’d covered in a newsletter last year, they were part of a larger movement where rocks are painted and then left for people to find and hide again as way to inspire communities with random acts of kindness, like rainbows or teddy bears in the windows did.

It’s a shame they had to move, though. I’m sure the art was relocated to another trail to inspire the next person. Ahem.

So it works, people. But they are gone and nothing has replaced them, and I wonder whether you would be interested in painting a few for me? I have two left thumbs but I sat down and made a couple of little trail buddies, although everyone knows I am not to be trusted with paint. Or glue. Or glitter. It mostly stayed on my hands…

Help a girl out. Let’s change the world.

If I can do it, anyone can!

I could attempt this abstract. I’m calling it “The Purple People Eater”.

Oh. My. Word. Cuteness.

A classic, with a message for our times. There are a lot of unsung heroes among us.

Mandala, inspiration for intentional, thoughtful steps forward.

My spirit rock. Inspires automatic social distancing while maintaining a sense of humor.

Alright, who invited the Canadian?? 

The strawberry is what’s left of an entire fruit salad, which was my favorite. There was also a hotdog here at one point. Hard not to reach for these treats!

This one I call, “Sally Sweet”, portrait of a tough gal full of vision and endurance who carries the sunshine with her. Be like Sally.

The Toilet Paper Explained

A long time ago (beginning of March), in a galaxy far away (across town), I made a run to Costco (Ground Zero). This is usually Hubby’s job but my super efficient self had to get gas anyway. I pulled into a front row parking spot that sunny morning, congratulating myself on arriving before opening hour and turned on the radio for a rare five minutes of relaxation. I thought it was odd to see a crowd gathered near the warehouse doors on a Tuesday, but with Costco you never know. I shrugged a couple of minutes later, gathered my shopping list and headed over to stand with the happy campers and stare at the rollup doors the way my cat stares down a can of tuna.

The woman closest to me gave me funny look. Not a happy one. Like maybe my fly was down or I had mustard on my face. I looked around and realized that she was the line leader for everyone there. Behind her stretched a trail of people gripping empty shopping carts down the entire length of the building. Huh? Since when does everyone get in line? Costco is famous for the wide open cattle range that it is. Every man for himself. It works.

Not on her watch.

I glanced to my left and a gentleman stood there with an amused smirk and crossed arms and I copied him and got myself comfortable. People are weird.

“I’m not getting in line,” I told him. “There’s enough stuff for an army in there, what’s the rush?”

At opening time, another amazing thing happened. From the exit door, three employees walked out and, facing the line of customers, held up their cell phones and began to shoot video. They shook their heads in disbelief as the line began to move into the bowels of the store. The employee who opened the door began calling out to the passing people, “Take your time, folks, there’s plenty for everyone. Be polite, please. Thank you for staying calm.”

What in the world? It must be quite a sale. Too bad whatever it was wasn’t on my list.

With one raised eyebrow, I followed the last of the line into the store. No. That’s not true. I waited for the end of the line to show up and it didn’t. The whole parking lot was migrating towards me now, so I just waved my card and conducted business as usual. All aboard.

I zipped up the sidelines where no shoppers ever linger. I’m no amateur. Tossed the goods into my cart without skipping a beat, which is how I always shop. Get in. Get out. Tea time.

I came skidding around a corner five minutes later, halfway done, and darned if the line was still in formation and stretched in the opposite direction, the length of the warehouse. Perfectly serious faces, perfectly empty carts.

“Excuse me,” I mumbled at the line. I was monitored from all directions as they let me through.

“Get some more troopers back there,” an employee hissed into his walkie, scuttling by.

I craned my neck in a brief attempt to understand when Karen plowed triumphantly by, her cart full to overflowing with…toilet paper. If you are unfamiliar with a Costco-sized package of toilet paper, just know that it takes only two to prevent all further items going into your cart. These tissue towers won’t even fit under the cart. Karen had three and the front basket where the babies go was stacked with sanitizing hand wipes. The look on her face implied she was only warming up, but where was she going to put her groceries? Down her bra?

The next man went by with a Jenga-worthy stack in his cart and I heard him say, to no one in particular, “I own a business.” His tone was defensive.

Then a little old lady passed me and saw my shocked face. She only had a single plushie in her cart but said apologetically, “Well, I don’t really need any but if this is the way things are going, I may as well get me some now.”

I had no clue what was going on. I did not get this memo. I was a little freaked out.

I flung the rest of my groceries into the cart and dashed to the check-out where I had the place to myself. That alone is a creepy experience. The clerk behind the beep beep machine wore a resigned look. One braced for the inevitable. Long suffering and just a bit in shock.

“What?” she said, scanning items, “no toilet paper?” I gripped my cart in an effort to remain calm. Was I making a terrible mistake?

“What’s happening?” I asked her under my breath, not sure I wanted to know.

She stopped scanning and just stared at me. There was no one else in line. She leaned forward and said, “Well, I’ll tell you. Last week, three of our trucks were stalled out east due to bad weather. Happens all the time. These just happened to contain our toilet paper. So, for a couple of days, there was a big empty space where it goes.” She stood taller. “It’s not like we weren’t going to get it any minute, we had to keep the space open.”

I thought for a beat. Costco never has empty spaces. Product is continually shifted to maximize sales.

“Anyway,” she continued, as she swiped my items from left to right, “A rumor went around that there was a shortage. So when the trucks finally arrived, there was a run on it.” She paused. “I get it if people were out but I mean, you can buy the stuff anywhere. We all decided they must just love our brand or whatever, but it’s happened every single day since. Cleaned out faster than we can put more on the pallets. No reason why. We have plenty. We won’t run out.”

She looked towards the cattle drive and shook her head. “Do you need boxes today?”

I declined her offer, thanked her, and bolted.

I was almost to my car and a lady went by and laughed, “What? Where’s your toilet paper?”

I was prevented from replying because three different cars were inches from my body, poised to take my spot as soon as I pulled out. The parking lot resembled Disneyland on a get-in-free day. A steady surge of humanity kept flowing into the warehouse, trapped in the toilet paper tractor beam.

At this point, you have to know some things. One, I did not in any way need toilet paper. And two, I was contemplating unloading my groceries into my car and going back for some because I didn’t want to get left behind. I felt deprived, anxious, needy, and fearful of the future.

“What if? What if?” asked my mother’s voice.

Well, I answered, “if we need some, we’ll buy it at the 7-11 on the corner. If the planet runs out, squirt bottles for everybody.” It was time to go home.

Ewww,” said the voice.

“The Europeans are way ahead of us as it is. Hush.” I sat in the car and took a nice deep breath. “And if we didn’t need any, then everyone here is going to feel a bit silly a month from now.”

Ahem.

The Bottomless Bookshelf

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

C. S. Lewis

Originally published in September, 2016, the following “recommended booklist” was a collaboration in progress until I created my Facebook Group, “Jolie Tunnell’s Earlybirds“. I wanted to set up a place where we could, together, create an interactive, ongoing list of favorites to share and a one-click way to pursue the books online.

Please come over and join the party! I check it every day and add fun things all week long.

If Facebook is not your jam, please add your favorite titles to the comment box below, with your opinion if you like.

Thanks for visiting. Don’t let your tea get cold. Happy reading.

Fiction, Chick Lit/Romance

  • Alcott, Louisa May: yes, girlfriend, warm my heart
  • Allende, Isabel: “magical realism”? Zorro is awesome
  • Austen, Jane: P&P forever! Team Darcy
  • Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre, great book, heroine needs to pull it together already
  • Chevalier, Tracy: Girl With a Pearl Earring
  • Evanovich, Janet: all numbered Stephanie Plum books
  • Golden, Arthur: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Griffin, Emily: I’ve enjoyed a few
  • Jackson, Helen Hunt: Ramona
  • Kinsella, Sophie: the Shopaholic Series
  • Meyer, Stephanie: I know, I know…don’t judge. Team Edward though
  • Mitchell, Margaret: Gone With the Wind
  • Penman, Sharon Kay: historical, medieval England and France
  • Ripley, Alexandra: Scarlett. Because we want to know if he gave a damn
  • Rowling, JK: she’s my hero
  • Tolkien, JRR: because of course

Humor

  • Barry, Dave: the man’s hysterical
  • Bombeck, Erma: the lady’s hysterical
  • Bryson, Bill: A Walk in the Woods
  • Larson, Gary: The Far Side cartoons
  • Lawson, Jenny: Furiously Happy
  • McManus, Patrick: backwoods humor
  • Twain, Mark: every single thing he ever wrote
  • Watterson, Bill: Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, must read

You Thought These Were Kid Books: Wrong

  • Bagnold, Enid: National Velvet
  • Barry, Dave & Pearson, Ridley: Peter and the Starcatchers series
  • Burnett, Frances Hodgson: Secret Garden, A Little Princess
  • Burnford, Shelia: The Incredible Journey
  • Carroll, Lewis: Through the Looking Glass
  • Farley, Walter: Black Stallion series
  • Goldman, William: The Princess Bride in book form knocks my socks off
  • L’Engle, Madeline: her books are actually multi-level
  • Lovelace, Maud Hart: Heaven to Betsy series
  • MacLachlan, Patricia: Sarah Plain and Tall series
  • Milne, AA: The House at Pooh Corner, etc.
  • Montgomery, LM: Anne of Green Gables series
  • O’Brien, Robert: Mrs Frisby & the Rats of NIMH
  • O’Dell, Scott: Island of the Blue Dolphins, Zia
  • Sidney, Margaret: Five Little Peppers & How They Grew
  • Sewell, Anna: Black Beauty
  • Spyri, Johanna: Heidi
  • Suess, Dr: UCSD dedicated to this guy
  • White, EB: Charlotte’s Web, Trumpet of the Swan
  • Wilder, Laura Ingalls: Litte House on the Prairie series
  • Williams, Margery: The Velveteen Rabbit, be real
  • Wyss, Johann: The Swiss Family Robinson

Great Literature

  • Cooper, James: The Last of the Mohicans. You. Will. Cry.
  • Dickens, Charles: all of him, A Tale of Two Cities is my favorite
  • Dumas, Alexander: this series blows me away every time
  • Homer: The Odyssey
  • Hugo, Victor: The Hunchback of Notre Dame sadness
  • Kipling, Rudyard: he who makes India look like an exotic flower
  • Melville, Herman: Moby Dick, I even liked the chapters on whales
  • Scott, Sir Walter: Ivanhoe YES YES YES
  • Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis: Jekyll/Hyde, Treasure Island, Kidnapped
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Mystery, Drama, Horror, Tense Fiction

  • Caine, Hall: The Bondman
  • Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness
  • Courtenay, Bryce: The Power of One
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan: Holmes is a master
  • King, Stephen: excellent formula writer, hard to critique his predictability when it made him rich…
  • Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein, original in claymation
  • Stoker, Bram: yep, the original Dracula was pretty good

Poetry

  • Silverstien, Shel: Where the Sidewalk Ends, etc. The Giving Tree is epic.

Philosophy, Psychology, Business

  • Adam, Grant: Originals, how non-conformists move the world
  • Blanchard, Kenneth: The One Minute Manager
  • Brown, Brene: Daring Greatly, Rising Strong
  • Canfield, Jack: Chicken Soup for the Soul series, there’s almost too many of them
  • Carlson, Richard: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
  • Carnegie, Dale: How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • Covey, Stephen: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Duhig, Charles: The Power of Habit
  • Gilbert, Elizabeth: Eat, Pray, Love (good), Big Magic (meh)
  • Hatmaker, Jen: For the Love
  • Klein, Gary: Seeing What Others Don’t
  • Johnson, Spencer: Who Moved my Cheese?
  • Og, Mandino: The Greatest Salesman in the World
  • Rubin, Gretchen: Better Than Before
  • Tharp, Twyla: The Creative Habit
  • White, Kate: I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This (for Gutsy Girls)

Nonfiction Adventure

  • Corbett, Jim: Man-Eaters of Kumaon
  • Dineson, Isak & Blixon, Karen: Out of Africa
  • Gibson, William: The Miracle Worker
  • Herriot, James: All Creatures Great & Small series
  • Hillenbrand, Laura: Seabiscuit
  • London, Jack: all his wild and snowy stories
  • Mortenson, Greg: Three Cups of Tea
  • Thomas, Lowell Jackson: With Lawrence in Arabia
  • Washington, Booker T: Up From Slavery

Fathers Day Hotline 2020

Good morning and welcome to the First Ever Fathers Day Hotline.

Please listen carefully as we have never tried this before.

If you never listen, please press buttons at random.

We understand. Drive this like a remote control race car down the Santa Monica freeway. Your Fathers Day, your rules.

If you need a pat on the back, please press one.

If you’re not sure how to explain your Dad job, please press two.

For a better understanding of this delicate interplay of fatherhood, please press three.

If you need a reminder that this dad gig is for life, please press four.

For a quick supply of Dad Jokes, please press five.

If you’re wondering whether or not to get a “Dad Bod”, please press six.

For a list of things Dads should never say, please press seven. (For things husbands should never say, press seven and a half. You’re welcome.)

If you’re raising daughters, please press eight.

If you’re raising sons, please press nine.

Thank you for calling the Fathers Day Hotline. Enjoy your family. You are their Hero.

How To Pick Your Perfect Pandemic Pet: A Quiz

So far, this year has been the strangest ever and I find myself doing absurd things and passing them off as normal. For example: I have a kitten now.

Pre-pandemic saw me pet-free for a solid twenty years. Why have animals when you have five kids, amiright? Post-pandemic finds me desperate to keep those kids somehow occupied long enough for me to throw a frozen pizza into the oven and open a bottle of pinot grigio. Do NOT talk to me about how these kids are in their twenties. Some things never change.

The kitten was an impulsive decision made in a fifteen minute window wherein I was not thinking clearly but I have to admit, my kids are flocking around this little fluff ball and our long afternoons are now filled with entertaining shouts of, “Look out, it’s crawling under the dresser!” “What’s that in the litter box?” and “Is it supposed to claw my hand into shreds while it drinks the bottle?”

I’m sure I’m not alone when I ask the question: What was the right pet for our family? And is it too late?

If you, too, are feeling like 2020 is the perfect year to bring a new pet into your home, take this handy quiz to discover if you are crazy which pet is your purr-fect pandemic partner.

PICK-A-PET QUIZ

1. Once the work from home orders lift, will your new pet still be able to bite your toe/climb into your pocket/beg for treats whenever the mood hits? What level of interaction do you anticipate having with your pet?

 
 
 
 

2. Look around you right now. Are you quarantined in the city? The country? Your parent’s basement? How much space can you devote to the new tenant?

 
 
 
 

3. Grocery shopping for kibble, mealworms, or live rats might be fun, but either way the food to poop ratio breaks even. How much scat do you want to work with?

 
 
 
 

4. Pets are living creatures. Usually. How many dollars have you put aside for vet bills, so the pet will remain that way?

 
 
 
 

5. What, in your opinion, is the perfect name for your new pet?

 
 
 
 

The One For Vi

I know four ladies in the same family, each a generation apart from the next, something like dominoes or nesting dolls, each individual contributing to the larger fun of the game. They are each a hoot.

But would not necessarily be pleased that I told you so.

Particularly Vi, the oldest of the bunch. If you take Vi out to breakfast she will pay. She will ask the waitress to make her coffee extra hot and send it back if it’s not. She takes her coffee the way she takes her life in general: bold enough to make you sit up straight and pay attention. None of this sugar and milk nonsense.

These four generations of ladies share a common denominator or two, and the most entertaining one is their general stubbornness, or as I prefer to call it, “the determination to go forth and conquer”.

I have a separate relationship with each of them and whether I tell a story on the one year old or the 84 year old, the other generations smile and nod and insist “isn’t that just like her mama!”.

Yes. Yes, it is.

In 2014, Ronda, Vi’s daughter, asked me to write something up and speak at Vi’s funeral services. Not that Vi was feeling poorly, mind you. But Ronda wanted to be prepared. In 2015, Vi asked me if I would write up a little something for her funeral. Not that anything was amiss. But you never know.

I laughed and offered a compromise. “Vi,” I said, “Instead of waiting till later, how about I write about you now? That way, you can make sure it’s accurate.”

This pleased her, of course. Not that my writing is objectionable.

Vi was in hospital frequently over the last few years because her blood pressure refused to cooperate and it sent her into fainting spells. I asked her to make me a blog about her experience there. She was delighted at the prospect and was as helpful as possible. She would tell me all of the horrible things the doctors did to her each day and finish with, “You know you can’t write that, right? Don’t you dare put that in your blog.”

“But Vi!” I insisted, “I can make you famous! I can make you a rock star!”

She laughed but she wasn’t buying it. She retained full veto power and wielded it from her perch on the pillows until there wasn’t a hospital story left.

I’m still not sure what, exactly, a smart lady like Vi saw in a silly thing like me, but I suppose if she was willing to have me in her hospital room while total strangers worked her over with instruments of torture, she considered me “in”. With a wink and a nod one day, she informed me that calling for an ambulance brought dashing young men right into her house to tend her with first class service. “So much nicer than driving yourself,” she insisted, “that’s the way to go.”

I might try fainting myself sometime, to see how that works.

Vi’s family was everything. We passed the time talking about them. She took great delight in the fact that I was a nanny for her great-granddaughter and listened forever to my stories about “that little toot”, as she called her.

I finally wrote her blog, “Elderflowers and Rosebuds”, to celebrate the connection between generations and the love and hope that is passed down from grandparents to toddlers. It was a subject we were both passionate about. Please read it.

Vi passed away last week at 93 years young. The eldest of these four precious women went on her own terms, in her own bed at home, and will be missed dearly. There has been a lot of loss lately, in case you haven’t been watching out your window. And no one is having funerals.

We all need somewhere to put our grief. Here is my little piece of comfort. Feel free to add yours below.