Respect Our Coolers

If you see a cooler outside of someone’s house or on the side of the road, please do not steal it.

Those coolers are supply drop off points to help people through this crisis.

Schools are delivering meals to homes and putting food in the coolers for children. For adults under Matilda’s Law, local heroes are checking on us to see what we need and delivering supplies.

It is really hard to ask for help. I am very fortunate in that I have many local heroes who are checking on me. 

I do not want to ask anyone to go to the store for me because I do not want to put that person at risk. However, if a person is already going to a store for themselves, then I will ask for them to add my list of items to their own.

Today I put my cooler out for supply drop off for the very first time. I am scared for the people who are helping me. They are putting themselves out there to keep me safe.

There have been a few reports in my county of some coolers being stolen. I am going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the person who “stole” the cooler thought it was on the side of the road as an item free to take. Maybe that wayward soul was mistaken regarding the cooler’s purpose.

I am telling everyone right now that those coolers are there to help children and vulnerable adults. Please do not steal our coolers. If you need help, ask for help. Someone will help you. Do not steal a cooler that is providing help to someone else who is in need. 

If you see a cooler “on the side of the road” or in front of a house, it is not there as a free item. It is there as a supply drop off for that house.

Respect our coolers.

#NYTough

Isolation Log: Covid Date 3.a.20

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Simon sitting on the rollator to bird watch when the rollator is not in use.

It has now been 10 days since I have had human contact. Now I know what my cats must feel like when I go on my 3-day marathon or camping trips. At least when I am gone, they have each other. I am thankful to be home with them. I am able to go out into the world (generally – pre Covid), but for my cats, the house is the only world they have. Now it is mine.

Good news, is that since I am surrounded by three adorable felines, I can say with confidence that there is intelligent life here. 

A good friend dropped off feminine hygiene supplies to my door the other day. They were much needed. Even though I ordered supplies online, delivery times are slow. That is even if items are in stock. Many items I am looking for are out of stock online. I have enough supplies and do not need help for now – but I will. Some items say that they are only available for purchase in stores. The problem is, my primary doctor told me I should not go to the grocery store or pharmacy because those are high-risk areas for me.

I have been getting creative with food. I now know four different ways to cook carrots. No, I am not hoarding carrots. They were on sale 2 / $3 the last time I was able to go to a grocery store, so I ended up with four pounds of them in the house. Today I will be making allergy-friendly carrot raisin muffins that will be my breakfast for the next few days. 

I am re-learning the difference between wants and needs. I have enough supplies. I have food. I have things I need. I want zucchini. Do I need zucchini? No, I can live without it. I am thankful for what I have. There are a few things that when this is all over will certainly be a real treat to have again. I did need those feminine hygiene products though, so I am grateful someone dropped them off for me. That was a need. 

I took the car out for a drive this weekend. I know from when I was in the hospital a few years ago, that the car needs to be driven once a week to keep it going. It was so weird to just drive for no purpose. I have not done that in a long time. I really need to get the snow tires off the car. We are supposed to get more snow this week, so I guess it’s fine for now. Nothing I can do about it anyways.

Sunday I had a great 3-mile run in between raindrops. We had a violent thunderstorm last night and almost lost power. In the past week, we have gone from snowstorm to thunderstorm back to snow. It’s central New York. If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change.  

For minimalism, I worked upstairs this weekend. I have a few boxes of things ready to be donated or leave the house in some way when this is all over. They are in an empty room upstairs. I was able to create an empty room and an empty closet this weekend. I’m one person. I only need to use one closet. I was finally able to achieve this. 

I have been using my rollator (4-wheeled walker you can sit on) more. This is definitely not the time to be falling down and hurting myself. Yes, I am still running, but I am having more bad moments than good moments. I have only taken my rollator out in public with me once, but it is going to have to happen more often.

People think it’s weird seeing a marathon runner with a rollator. One day I will be running, then the next day I will be rolling. That’s just it, though. 

On good days, I run. On bad days, I roll.

The next time I have a bad day, I am going to take my rollator with me for my daily outside time. I went out the other day without it. I was having a bad day. It was not good. I avoided a fall, but did not get very far before I had to come back. 

To be honest, I’m worried about being judged for using it. The very reason is that one day I may be running and the next day I may be rolling. I know how people think about things like that. 

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that I no longer control my own body. Any day I am on the road, it’s a good day.

On good days, I run. On bad days, I roll. Every day with my cats is a little piece of heaven.

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

Isolation Log: Covid Date 2.b.20

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A photo I took on a walk during my Daily Outside Time this week.

People still drive me nuts. Just now they do it by phone, email, or from 6 feet away. Some things never change. 

The children are not in school, and apparently they do not have enough to do. They are still free range, free roaming, unsupervised, and going in large groups of 10-15 kids. The next coronavirus hot spot in New York is probably happening in my little Village of 800 people and I am right in the middle of it.

I am working from home, and yesterday I had to get up from my workstation 4 times to yell at kids to get out of the fire pit in my backyard. There were no adults in sight supervising these children ranging in age from 3 to teenager (most of them were in the 3-6 age range). They are running around, playing, touching things. I am in the vulnerable group and my neighbors on the one side are in their 70s. We do not want to die because people are not supervising their children.

The schools need to send more packets home with the kids and the kids need to sit down and do them. What, online learning? Not if you do not have internet. Even with my work dot, internet here is very spotty. I am blogging and doing emails by typing into word, then using copy and paste. That way posts are a quick hit for when there is enough internet to work.

The hardest part of this entire crisis is that there is no escape. There is no respite. I am harassed by unruly neighbors in my own house. Then, when I try to go outside – everyone is outside! Hey, I was playing outside for decades before this coronavirus thing started. Now everyone is copying my idea. 

People on the internet are mean. I discovered this when someone was abusive to me on my work email this week. It is even more traumatizing to experience this abuse while sitting in your own home. I am having a very hard time dealing with it. It just served to reinforce why I absolutely refuse to be on Facebook or any other social media.

On to the good stuff …

For the first time in my life, I can say that I am proud to be a New Yorker. 

For years I had regret over moving to New York from Massachusetts. Even though I was in NYC on 9/11, I never bought into that whole patriotism, NY pride thing that came afterwards. I just wanted to get away from debris falling down all around me and being covered in dust.

Then, when the Boston Marathon was bombed 4.15.13, that one hit me harder than 9/11. I was not in Boston on 4/15 (but I was supposed to be), yet 4/15 hit me harder than 9/11 (and I was there). I’m a marathon runner, and Boston has my heart. I will always be #BostonStrong.

Listening to Governor Cuomo these past few weeks for his daily briefings and how he is handling the coronavirus has me impressed. He is the most competent leader in such a challenging time that I have ever seen. I listen to the Governor when he gives us facts, then I like how he gives us his opinion and clearly delineates between the two. 

This week, the Governor talked about what it is like to be a New Yorker and New York Tough #NYTough. I have not had something resonate with me like this since David Ortiz got on the mike at Fenway and talking about “our f’ing city.” Boston will always have my heart, unfortunately, I am physically stuck in NY. 

With Governor Cuomo’s excellent leadership through this coronavirus, I can now say that I am not only #BostonStrong, I am also #NYTough. I have to survive this for my cats. I am their forever home. We all have to stay together. That is the greatest accomplishment of my life.

I am enjoying my daily outside time and listening to music on my CD player. I have plenty of books and DVDs from the library to amuse me. 

This is still going to be worse before it gets better. #NYTough

 

The Fourth R

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The last of the grapes I ate the other day. I am pretty sure those are the last grapes I am going to have for a very long time due to scarcity and price gouging.

We all know the three R’s. We grew up with reading, writing and arithmetic. Today, the three R’s are typically reduce, reuse, recycle. To the three modern R’s, there is a fourth R in our COVID-19 world, ration.

At first blush, there does not seem to be much difference between reduce and ration. They both indicate a decrease of some kind. However, when I sat down and thought about it, I realized that the difference between the two concepts is macro and micro.

When I think of reduce, I think of concepts like minimalism. Minimalism typically involves reducing the total number of items in your home. It also involved purchasing less things. Not only are you bringing less items into your home, but you are paring down items that are in your home so that overall, you have less. This is on the macro scale.

When I think of ration, I think on the micro scale. We take the items that we have and use less of them. We are not reducing – getting rid of the item – because it is an essential item. However, we are using less of that essential item so that it lasts longer.

The reason why I am focusing on rationing during this period of time is that I am trying to reduce my expenses. Mass layoffs are real now, people.

If we can make what we have last longer, then that is less money we have to spend in replenishing essential items. We are also leaving essential items on the shelf for someone else to have in this time of scarcity.

It is not just about toilet paper anymore. People are hoarding all types of things. If you run out of an item, you may not be able to get another one, either in-store or online.

Items that I have had difficulty obtaining include: feminine hygiene products (this is a REAL problem, people – bigger than toilet paper), fresh foods, pet products, and canned goods.

I did not realize how wasteful I am as a person until I started thinking of this idea of rationing. I am trying to reduce my water, gas, and electric bills. I am trying to reduce how often I use things inside my house to delay when I need to purchase more.

Some ways I am trying to be more mindful:

  • I am now actually paying attention to how much laundry soap I am using. Those little lines inside the cap mean something. Laundry soap is one of the “specialty items” I have to get due to my multiple food allergies. Most commercial laundry soap contains almond oil, which means my clothes could send me into anaphylactic shock if I did not have “special” laundry soap. I am trying to be conservative with how much of my “specialty” laundry soap I am using since it is now almost impossible to obtain.
  • To that end, I am trying to wear clothing items more than once before washing. I am also getting more uses out of items such as towels before washing them.
  • Toilet paper. Yes, I am now counting sheets of toilet paper used. Look, toilet paper scarcity was a real problem in my childhood. This situation is not helping.
  • I am using my crock pot more. This week, I have used it every other day. I am literally using all of the fresh food in my house. I am not throwing anything away. If something looks like it is starting to go bad before I can “use” it, I am throwing it in the crock pot with anything I can to make a soup, stew, whatever just so I do not “lose” that item.
  • I made chicken breast with vegetables in my crock pot. It was the best piece of chicken I have ever had in my entire life. I will not bake or grill chicken again. Any time I have chicken in the future, I am going to cook it in the crock pot. Crock pot chicken is amazing.
  • My dish soap is also a “specialty” item due to multiple food allergies. I am very conscious of how much dish soap I am putting in the sink to wash dishes now.
  • I am unplugging everything when I am not actively using it. This includes the microwave and coffee pot. If they are unplugged, they are not drawing power.
  • Since I got my pixie haircut a year or so ago, I use less soap and shampoo. Again, all my soap and shampoo are specialty allergy-friendly items that come from one company in California. I am serious that if this goes on much longer and I cannot get a haircut, I may shave my head.
  • Kitty litter and trash bags. I use trash bags to line my cat pans for easier clean up. I am trying to reduce both the amount of kitty litter I use and the trash bags I am using for liners by scooping their cat pans more often. My trash hauler requires us to use 13-gallon clear trash bags, and those are difficult to obtain right now, both in-person and online. 

Anyone have any other suggestions for rationing or ways to reduce expenses when stuck at home?

Stay safe and well. 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 2.a.20

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Jolene playing in the empty laundry basket

Welcome to Upstate New York where we have coronavirus in a snowstorm!

That’s right, folks. We are under a winter weather advisory for 6 inches of snow with sleet and freezing rain. I bet all the kids were hoping for a snow day … oh, that’s right, they already get to stay home. Except they still have to go to school – online! 

Muahahaha.

I have been working from home today. I work in my kitchen, where I have the best lighting and electrical outlets. I also have the best windows to sit here and watch the snow while the cats like to bird watch. The snow is coming down fast. 

Today it was announced that New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. New York State has 20x more cases than any other state in the country.

New York is Ground Zero. Again. That’s ok, we are used to being Ground Zero. Our Governor is doing a stellar job right now. 

In positive news …

I am feeling okay. I have decided that it is in the best interest of my mental health to stop listening to the radio. My sources of news are primarily radio and newspaper. For now, I am reading my newspaper and watching the Governor’s daily briefing. Watching the Governor makes me feel better in this scary time. I like that he gives daily updates. He makes me feel safe. No matter your politics, you have to agree that our Governor has really stepped up to the plate in dealing with this crisis.

I am using my CD player more since I am no longer listening to the radio. I cannot stand for the house to be silent. I have to have music. I am having a great time revisiting some CDs that I have not had the chance to listen to in awhile. Music makes me happy.

The cats are completely oblivious to what is going on. I’m sure they think I am just on a 3-day weekend or Christmas break or something. I am so thankful for every single day I get to be home with them. I’m glad they are oblivious. It’s my job as mom to take care of them. I don’t want them to know what is going on or how bad it is. 

I had a great 3 mile run outdoors yesterday. I am holding steady at 3 miles. I am pretty sure that my entire 2020 running season is going to be forfeited to the coronavirus. Right now it’s all about survival. I need those 3 miles to keep my sanity.

I am hoping that it will warm up and rain or something in the next few days here so that I can continue running outside. I went to the mailbox today, and not only was there quite a few inches of snow, but it is very slippery. I can’t run in this. 

If worst come to worst, I may start running laps around the first floor of my home with my Garmin. Any guesses on how many laps will make a mile? I’m guessing 1,378 laps. I’ll let you know if I get desperate and do that. 

I do have a daily schedule so that I still have a routine. I have a designated time each day for outside time. Sunshine is good for the soul.

This weekend, I may be working on some of my minimalist home projects. I am still trying to empty a room upstairs. While I am not physically able to remove items from my home right now, I can at least box items that are ready to leave when I can get rid of them.

In my Bible, I am currently reading the book of Psalms and the book of Revelation. They make me feel better.

Last fall, my book club read a novel called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. One of the characters talked about how they had to burn books for warmth during WWII. She said that she left her Bible for last, and that when she did have to burn the Bible for warmth, the two books that she decided to burn were Job and Revelation.

I do not think that we are going to be that desperate where we have to burn books for warmth. We may have to use them for toilet paper … come on people, SHARE! 

I doubt we will have to use books for toilet paper, but if it does get to that point and my Bible is the “last book standing,” I can tell you right now, that I will not be using the book of Revelation. I will be using the book of Numbers. I still don’t get that one.

Be warm, safe and well. 

 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 1.b.20

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Jolene watching an old football game with me that was playing on Pluto TV.

New York State is under a stay-at-home order. As someone in the “vulnerable” population, I currently fall under Matilda’s Law.

There is a lot of sadness in the world right now. Kenny Rogers died. He was an icon of my youth. At this difficult time, I am grasping at things from my childhood in an effort to remember simpler times. So while Kenny Rogers’ death may not be a huge deal under normal circumstances, it is magnified by everything else going on too.

I announced to my coworkers earlier this week:

“The world is officially ending. Tom Brady has left the Patriots.” I don’t usually address politics or other confrontational topics on this blog, but I am a huge Patriots fan, and this bit of news this week has completely blown my mind. 

I have been in a state of shock all week. 

Listening to the radio this week: “Now it’s time for sports … wait, everything is canceled.”

When I turned 41 a few weeks ago, I was kind of excited. I like to see what sports figures wear the number that goes with my age. 41 is worn by the Red Sox’ Chris Sale. Chris is having Tommy John surgery this year, which takes him out for the season. With Covid, there may not be a baseball season, so this is the perfect time for him to have surgery. It’s ok. 

On a positive note, there have been some things to stand up and cheer about.

This morning, I was able to listen to my favorite radio program, Only A Game. Sports may be canceled, but my favorite sports program still has a lot to teach me. Only A Game makes life feel normal because I can still go about my typical Saturday routine.

I do not have cable, so I cannot imagine what is going on at ESPN right now, since they are 24/7sports. My favorite program, Only A Game, has still delivered. They have not let me down. Thanks so much to everyone running that show for giving me a beautiful gift right now in keeping the program “normal.”

With the NHL season canceled, if you were to add up all of the points in the League right now, the Boston Bruins would win the Stanley Cup. They are my favorite team and won the Cup for me in 2011 as my graduation present when I finally finished my bachelors degree after 15 years of struggle. 

As a teaser, Only A Game is going to talk about how the 1918 Spanish Flu effected hockey in next week’s episode. At least I know if we awarded the Cup now, it would go to the Bruins.

Another highlight of my week was the live concert Dropkick Murphys gave to the world. I saw DKM in concert when they first came out in the 1990s. I never dreamed to be able to see them in Boston on St. Patty’s Day due to how fast their concerts sell out. This year, due to covid, they livestreamed the concert to the world, and it was beautiful. Of all the horrible things this health crisis is doing, that concert was a rose in a barren landscape.

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago released a video this week of penguins free roaming the aquarium due to lack of visitors. There are many museums, aquariums and other places offering virtual tours right now. 

I do not want to spend all of my time online. I do not like being online in general. It’s nice to know that it is there in case I need it.

I have heard a lot from my online MS support group this week. We are all in the vulnerable group, so we are trying to keep each other’s spirits up. 

This weekend I plan to pretend everything is normal and try to decompress from what is actually happening. I tend to stay at home on weekends anyway, unless I am outside for a run, so that part is status quo. Sometimes we need to unplug from all the horrible things going on around us.

In NY, we are all staying home, and so far, I am okay. 

How are you doing? 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 1.a.20

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Jude watching James Bond with me during covid isolation

A car alarm pierces the silence of the night. Everyone has been off the streets and in their house for hours. In fact, many vehicles have been parked all day. When I look out the window to see why the car alarm has been going off for 12 minutes, I see two kids next to the vehicle in question. They are head-banging and jumping up and down. 

They have been out of school for less than a week and this is how they decide to have fun. I have already gone to bed for the night. I have to work in the morning. This was an unpleasant way to be woken from sleep.

It has been a very long year this week.

All of my health providers called to cancel my appointments this week. I cannot see the neurologist, the physical therapist, or my masseuse. Even my hair salon is closed. My back-up plan for when my hair drives me wild is to shave my head. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ll keep you updated on whether that ends up happening or not.

The only physician who not only wanted to see me this week but actually insisted on seeing me was the primary doctor. I could not figure out why. No one else wants to see me, claiming I am “high risk.” I do not understand why.

When I did go to see the primary doctor, she sat me down for almost an hour to talk to me and now I understand why no one else wants to see me and I am so “high risk.”

Apparently, the MS is in my spine. Your spinal cord controls breathing. I am high risk for any illness. Even a cold will make me more sick than the average person. Covid would be lethal for me. I was told to stop going to the grocery store and the pharmacy – those are high risk areas for me. The doctor helped me to come up with a plan that will hopefully keep me stocked with food and medication to be completely isolated during this time.

I am encouraged to be outside in fresh air as much as possible. I need to keep running so that I can keep moving, especially since I no longer have access to either physical therapy or massage to help me.

I go to work and I come home. That is it.

The libraries are all closed. This past Tuesday we had our last book club. I checked out 14 items from the library (books and DVDs) that I am allowed to keep until May 1 while the libraries are closed. I came home with an entire reusable bag of library items – my version of “tp hoarding.”

Of all the stupid things, I cried Tuesday night after the library closed for an indefinite period of time. The library is my lifeline. I always have something checked out of the library. I constantly inter-library loan. I know the librarians at 6 area libraries all by name and they know me. Libraries were a safe place for me during the times in my life when I was homeless. They are a safe place to take a nap. 

Yes, I have enough books and DVDs in my house to keep me occupied. It’s just the idea that the libraries are closed. It breaks my heart. I guess this is an example of a first-world problem.

I am very grateful that people have been calling and checking on me to be sure I am okay. I am okay for now. But there will come a time in the next few weeks when I will need to have help. It is very hard for me to ask for help. 

I tend to be isolated to a degree in life to begin with due to my severe food allergies. The interactions I enjoyed by going to the gym, the library, and the coffee shop are now gone. 

Back and forth from work to home and nothing else. 

I will keep you updated as the isolation continues. Of course, I had to choose a Star Trek reference for my posts. This is covid date 1.a.20, meaning week 1, day a of this week (first blog post of the week) and year 2020. 

This will get worse before it gets better. But we are all in this together. Be safe and healthy. 

 

The Toilet Paper Chronicles, Part 2

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We all know from the Toilet Paper Chronicles, Part 1, that people who have experienced homelessness or scarcity in life typically fall into one of two camps. You either end up as a minimalist or as  hoarder. For me, I am mostly a minimalist, but have a tendency to hoard toilet paper. I know what it is like to have to go without toilet paper for long periods of time. 

I was very surprised when I went to the grocery store this week and all of the toilet paper was gone. The shelves were bare. Now, I have enough toilet paper at home already to last me a few weeks. Yet I found the lack of toilet paper on store shelves to be downright alarming.

I still do not completely understand – why are people hoarding toilet paper? 

There were three things on my grocery list this week that I was unable to obtain because the shelf was empty. One of those items is a can of pineapple chunks. When I stood in the canned goods aisle, there was plenty of food on the shelves. The only hole in the entire row was the pineapple area. There was not a single can of pineapple at the grocery store. 

What gives? Why are people hoarding pineapple of all things? Don’t you want peaches or green beans or something? Why pineapple? I just wanted one can for a ham dish I am making this week. It does not make sense for me to buy an entire pineapple for one person, so I figured one can of pineapple chunks would be sufficient. Now, I can live without that can of pineapple. I am just amazed at what people are hoarding during this health crisis.

Emergency preparedness officials have been telling us for years that we should be prepared to shelter in place in the event of an emergency for 7-10 days. This would be for a snowstorm, hurricane, some sort of crisis. If the current health scare is requiring people to shelter in place for 14 days, then we should not need much extra to go from a 7-10 day supply to a 14 day supply.

The problem is, most people, myself included, never prepared to shelter in place for 7-10 days to begin with. Quite honestly, my home emergency kit was only stocked for us to shelter in place for 3-5 days, which is the average length of time we are typically home bound due to snowstorms in central New York. 

With multiple food allergies, I thought I was ahead of the game being prepped for 5 days in case the specialty items I need become hard to obtain in an emergency. 

That said, the second item on my grocery list that I was unable to obtain this week is flour. With duhring disease, I can’t just have “flour.” I use a special 1:1 gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free flour. There was none on the shelf.

I can live without flour. I was going to make some apple muffins. I have plenty of other things to eat without muffins. I was just surprised there was no flour. Now, if I did not have multiple food allergies, I would have been able to get a sack of traditional flour with no problems. 

However, in an emergency, living life with multiple food allergies is even more challenging when all of my specialty items are gone and I am physically unable to eat what is there unless I have a death wish.

Luckily, I have enough food to accommodate my food allergies. I can always order online if need be.

Which brings me to the next point – this health scare is highlighting people who have and people who have not. There are some people who need to shelter in place for 14 days. Yet these people are in the comfort of their homes, with electricity and running water. You can order food and other supplies to be delivered to your door. However, this means that there are people out there who are still working and unable to shelter in place because they are delivering supplies to your home.

Just something to think about how interdependent we are as a society.

This brings me back to toilet paper. Not only are all the shelves bare. But when I just checked Amazon, you cannot even order toilet paper online. It is out of stock.

I guess people are going to find out what it was like for me growing up with no toilet paper. When you scrimp to save a quarter to buy a roll or go without. Of course, a roll of toilet paper today is generally $1. I’ve heard that with the empty store shelves, some people are selling toilet paper for $20 a roll.

There are alternatives to toilet paper. I am going to start hanging onto my newspapers instead of recycling them. Is it ideal? No, but in a pinch, newspapers make great toilet paper. It’s better than nothing. I do not anticipate having to use the newspaper, but with my childhood history of toilet paper scarcity, lack of toilet paper is what makes me the most antsy. I’m sure I will be fine. 

I wonder if we go into a hardware store if all of the bidet toilet seats will be gone as well? Bidets are an alternative to toilet paper. I’ve never used one and the idea does freak me out a little, but I hear they are popular in Europe. Maybe it’s time for the bidet to catch on here. 

Being able to stock up on supplies is an economic privilege. There are many people on fixed incomes who are unable to buy an extra week or two of groceries. Sure, they may buy an extra can or item here or there. But if you have been to the store this week and come out with a full cart, consider yourself privileged. If you have 2 packages of toilet paper in your house, think of people who are going just for their weekly groceries hoping to buy a few rolls. We need to be sure that we are taking care of everyone in this health crisis.

For every person buying enough toilet paper to last a year right now, there is someone going without because they can only afford to buy one 4-roll package per month, and that package just ran out.

I will say that I am glad I made the transition back to cloth handkerchiefs and to microfiber cleaning cloths. I do not need to buy facial tissue or paper towels.

But if you see me next in the hardware store buying a bidet seat, you’ll all know why.  

 

Introducing Jolene

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Jude, Simon and I are happy to announce the arrival of Jolene! In over 20 years of being a cat mom, Jolene is my first girl, so she got my baby name. Jude has my boy name.

I have been wanting a dog for the past 3-4 years, but was not able to have a dog in my apartment. Since moving into the house, I started visiting the shelter about once a month to try to connect with a dog to adopt. I have been on the approved adopter list for about 6 months. As we know by my experience last spring in Dog Gone Down, I definitely can not handle a larger dog. Yet I was still visiting the shelter hoping to find either a smaller dog, or an older, more calm one. 

Each time I visit the shelter, I spend a few hours visiting all of the animals. I have been reading to and playing with cats to help socialize them. If they are more friendly, they are more likely to be adopted. In over 20 years as a cat mom, I have never wanted a third cat. I have been fine with two.

This month, I went to the shelter specifically to visit a 15 pound dog that I thought I could handle. I really liked him. He was hesitant about me, which is completely understandable in a shelter situation. There was another person there to visit the same dog. As soon as the other person came into the room, the dog got all excited and jumped into the person’s lap. That dog chose his family. It was not me, and that was okay. I was just glad to see that he would be adopted and have a happy ending.

I then proceeded to visit with the cats, as I usually do. There are three rooms of cats. After the first room, I went into the second room. Way in the corner was this little orange cat begging for attention. I typically avoid orange cats. Kip was orange, and I was so upset after he died, that I have difficulty sometimes interacting with other orange cats without getting upset. They just remind me of Kip.

Well, this little 6 pound wonder was a girl, which in some ways made it different. I am able to mentally separate her from Kip because even though she is orange, she is a girl. It is extremely rare for an orange cat to be female. Over 80% of orange cats are male, which has something to do with the genetics for orange fur.

As soon as I took this little girl out of the cage for some attention, she immediately crawled up my shoulder, hugged me, and would not let go. She chose me.

This 5 year old wonder had been dumped last summer with a box full of kittens. She was a wonderful mother. Of course, kittens get adopted because they are cute and fluffy. The moms are often left in the shelters un-adopted, as they are typically older. 

This girl loved me and reacted to me in a way that cats rarely do. Keep in mind, I have made numerous visits to the shelter to socialize cats. None of them reacted to me the way she did.

I never wanted a third cat, but you know, I was looking at getting a dog, which would have been a third pet. Did it matter if it was a dog or a cat? She had chosen me.

Jolene came home a few weeks ago and has been fitting right in. She is the Queen of the castle, Jude is the man of the house, and Simon will always be my baby. Jolene is so tiny – she is 6 pounds, whereas the boys are 10 pounds each.

Jolene has of course been spayed and also had dental work done. I found out that she has some genetic disorder that causes all of her teeth to rot from the inside out. Apparently, when she was dumped with her kittens last summer, she was already missing half of her teeth. She had to have 8 infected teeth extracted right before adoption. She currently has 5 teeth left. She will probably be a toothless cat and is special needs in that she needs to be soft food only. But, hey, that’s genetics. She is the most loving and precious cat ever.

She gets along well with the boys and is so smart. She is constantly learning from them and is already getting used to our home routine. I still have to keep her separate when I am not home for her own safety. She is still healing from her surgeries and needs time to heal. 

I am definitely not getting a dog now. There is no way I can handle a fourth pet. Having three right now, is a little juggling act, but definitely do-able. Jolene is the perfect addition to our little family. I just could not say no when she chose me.

Sometimes love just finds you – and it is wonderful.

Unplowed Side of the Street

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We’ve all heard the phrase “the wrong side of the tracks.” It is usually used to indicate that a person has grown up in a rough part of town – typically one that is high in poverty, and sometimes high in crime. I have no problem owning the fact that I am one who definitely grew up on the wrong side of the tracks.

Now, as a homeowner, I apparently live on the unplowed side of the street. We had a snowstorm last week that dumped about a foot or so of snow. What made the storm even more challenging was that I was home sick at the moment with a fever and a few other nasty symptoms. Spending an hour or more outside trying to shovel 12 inches of wet, heavy snow was challenging to say the least. 

I used the snow sleigh that I got last winter, which is way easier than a normal shovel. With the snow sleigh, I only have to push the snow. I do not have to pick the snow up and throw it as you do with a shovel. The only challenge is that the snow sleigh is rough on my knees. After pushing the snow, I have to get it off the snow sleigh. Both knees were bruised on both sides of each knee and I had trouble walking the week after. Not great for an athlete that is a runner.

I will admit I am missing my neighbor who helped me last year with the snowblower. They moved, so I am on my own.

Shoveling the sidewalk and the driveway are not too awful bad. The biggest problem is that I also have to shovel the road.

Yes, you read that right. I had to shovel the road.

Welcome to America, where I live on the unplowed side of the street. 

Even though the village snowplow has to drive both up the street and down the street, they have decided to only plow one side of the road, and it is not the side I live on. So not only does the mail carrier and the newspaper carrier have to try to get through half a street’s worth of snow to get to my mailbox, but I have to try to get through half a street’s worth of snow to get to my driveway.

This happened last year. The village had me in tears. When I called to complain, they said they would come out and plow my side of the street, but if they had to do it again, they would charge me. Charge me to plow the street? I’m a homeowner! Isn’t this why I pay taxes?

This fight is not over, as I will be attending a village board meeting and doing everything possible to become a major pain in the ass until my side of the street is plowed.

Hey, just because I am low income, does not mean I should have to live on the unplowed side of the street. In fact, I need to be able to get to work more than some of the higher income people on the plowed side of the street. I need the income! But, I supposed that people in American society who earn more money must do more meaningful work, so even though we pay the same taxes, they must be more deserving of snow plowing. 

Right?

That’s how the village seems to think.

I thought that by purchasing a home when I have never even lived in a house before was a sign that I was moving up in the world. I guess the only place I moved was from the wrong side of the tracks to the unplowed side of the street.

For the record, I have also now contracted someone to plow my driveway this winter. I cannot physically take care of the snow. I thought that snow was easier than grass/lawn maintenance. I was wrong. I am not cut out for homeownership, but it is better than being homeless. Owning a home is definitely cheaper than rent in my area.

Anyone else live on the the unplowed side of the street? Welcome to the neighborhood. 

Hopefully by the end of this winter, I will be able to convince the village that my side of the road is as worthy of snow plowing as the opposite side.