What About the Cats

Okay, this coronavirus panic and hoarding has gone far enough.  I’ll admit that, at first, I became somewhat amused at the toilet paper hoarding.  I mean, really, of all the things to panic about, toilet paper?  Do people not realize that toilet paper has only been around for a short time?  According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), “modern commercial toilet paper originated in the 19th century, with a patent for roll-based dispensers being made in 1883.”  So clearly, although nice to have, t.p. is not a necessity.  I figure if worst comes to worst, I have an abundance of rags and a modern washer and dryer, as well as a shower.  As long as the electricity and water hold out I’m good.  If not, there are plenty of magnolia leaves in my yard.

I can even cope with not being able to go anywhere or do anything, although personally, I think it’s a bigger risk walking through Walmart, which is not closed than most of the other places that are.  But since I am pretty much stuck at home, I want to be productive and get some of the chores done that I have been putting off.  So far, I’ve done nothing, but I have good intentions of starting soon. Every time I look at the closets that need cleaned out, it makes me wonder what’s on TV.  My husband and I did plan to pressure wash the moldy fence, but bleach is now unattainable.  Oh well, I tried.  And my good intentions of starting back to the gym any day now are on hold.  It’s just as well.  Every time I walk into the gym with the intention of becoming healthier, I hurt myself.

Anyway, I did venture out to the commissary today.  I should have stayed home as the shelves were bare.  It is interesting to see what items get hoarded during a state of panic, however.  Although toilet paper and paper towels were sold out, there was plenty of soap and shampoo.  I guess people are more concerned with wiping their fannies than washing their bodies, though it occurs to me that washing with soap and water could more than make up for a deficit in toilet paper. The meats were mostly gone, as were the noodles, spaghetti, rice, eggs, and breads.  It was easy to see what brands were the least popular—the ones sitting forlornly on the mostly empty shelves. The trip was not completely for naught, however, as there were plenty of Chips Ahoy and I managed to nab the last four cans of Pringles Light. I needed four because I had a coupon for $1.75 off for four cans. Otherwise, I would not have resorted to being a Pringles hoarder. But we are talking about a coupon for $1.75 off. There was also plenty of Diet Coke, thank goodness.  And Hershey bars.  So I’ll make it through this forced quarantine just fine.

At one point, I spied a woman strolling through the store with a large bundle of Charmin under her arm. Because of the t.p. panic, this set off an irrational, little alarm in my brain and I was tempted to stalk her until she confessed where she got it.  But then, as I was rounding the aisle into the peanut butter section, a store worker came by pulling a huge pallet stocked with Charmin.  The poor worker was attacked like she was feeding pigeons in St. Mark’s square. I barely made it out of that ugly mob with my own pack of Charmin.

Toilet paper aside, however, my blood boiled at what I found on the pet aisle.  Or rather what I didn’t  find.  No kitty litter!  Now it’s bad enough that people are hoarding toilet paper, but as I said, I have rags and water.  But what are my poor cats supposed to do?  They can’t very well use rags. And they balk at water. So, people, I am appealing to you in the interest of all that is fair and reasonable, take all the toilet paper you want, but please do not hoard kitty litter!  My cats and I thank you for your cooperation.


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I now have a piece of paper to carry with me as I venture out into the Covid-19 world that says I’m essential. Just in case I get stopped by someone official who might think I’m sneaking out to Walmart to fight for toilet paper or getting my roots done on the black market, I can produce my document verifying my essentiability. (I don’t think that’s a word, but I don’t care.) I am just thankful to be declared essential. My self-esteem is so low from being repeatedly rejected by agents and publishers, I simply don’t think I could handle being declared nonessential on top of everything else. I mean, really, how demoralizing is that? What are nonessential people supposed to do? Vacate the planet to leave resources for essential people?

It reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode in which people’s usefulness to society was deemed to be obsolete by a panel of self-appointed non-obsoletes. If one was declared obsolete, he/she was to be terminated (in the literal form) from the population. Of course, just as Twilight Zone episodes tend to be, there were some interesting twists and turns in which the main person accusing the other of being obsolete was declared, in the end, to be obsolete, himself. His viewpoint changed radically when faced with his own state of being obsolete.

So, back to the essentials versus the nonessentials. Shouldn’t this designation be politically incorrect or something? I’m not sure I care too much for this discrimination. Where is the outrage from political progressives? Is there enough diversity among the essentials versus the nonessentials? Do we have enough essentials based on minorities, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicities? If not, we need to fix those ratios before someone hires a nonessential lawyer to sue the essential powers that be who decide these things.

To further cloud the issue, a person can apparently be essential and nonessential at the same time. My essentialness is due to being a veterinarian, not a writer. Nope, as a writer, I am completely nonessential. As a writer, I cannot carry around a “get out of the house free” card stating that my blog is an essential service to all ten people who read it. Nor can I say that venturing out in public in order to chase down people begging them to buy my book is essential—although I could probably make a case for the fact that bored people should have access to my book in order to keep their spirits up while they are stuck at home with nothing to do.

(Available on Amazon, hint, hint, since nonessentials can’t come out to buy it from the trunk of my car.) Dadgummit even Amazon, when I type in my own name and my own book title, asks if I mean by Ellen Cannon! No! Geez, talk about feeling nonessential! Try Barnes and Noble. Maybe they think I’m essential!

But, doggone it, I don’t feel nonessential. Just ask my family. They’ll vouch for my essentialness. Well, maybe not the teenager, but my husband will . . . I think. If not, he can do his own darn laundry!

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Covid-19 – the good, the bad, and the ugly

I have good news and bad news about Covid-19.  First the good news.  This pandemic has taken the focus off the November elections, and I, for one, am grateful.  There is nothing more stressful than the constant hype, political ads, mud-slinging, endless news, social media rants, and bickering among family and friends leading up to a major election—with possibly the exception of a pandemic. But anything that shifts the attention away from politics is a welcome relief.

Now the bad news.  I predict the death toll will be much higher than anticipated, not directly due to the virus, but because families who are forced to stay at home together for extended periods of time are going to start killing each other.  And it’s not just because someone took the last square of toilet paper. Put pressured parents and bored kids in a confined area for an unspecified length of time and it’s only a matter of time before something has to give. It’s simply unnatural to have to be together so much and I find myself needing to strangle someone (like a teenager). So far, I have refrained.

When I think back to the days when I actually wanted kids, I have to wonder what the heck was I thinking? With Darion being schooled remotely, the nightly meltdowns are becoming routine. In fact, I am so tired of his screaming at us how much he “hates” us, I have assigned him to find synonyms for the word hate.  We could mix things up a little with he despises us, loathes us, abhors us, detests us, reviles us, finds us odious, revolting, despicable, a basket of deplorables, etc. That’s what he gets for being unimaginative in his predictable tirades and having a mother who is a frustrated writer. Is there a way to expel a child who is schooling from home?

One of my friends posted on Facebook that if we see her kids locked outside the house that they are practicing a fire drill and to mind our own business.  I like that idea.  Maybe we need multiple daily fire drills in our home.  Or perhaps a bomb drill.  Only we baby boomers will remember the bomb drills, where we hunkered under our desks. (Never mind that a wooden desk would hardly protect us from an atomic bomb; it gave us a false sense of security in taking charge of a potentially catastrophic situation.) I propose bomb drills lasting for six hours. I will tell Darion he can’t talk during that time or it will cause the bomb to hone in on us. Unfortunately, he’s fourteen and will probably see through this ruse.

Having to constantly make sure our son is on the Zoom school sessions and not watching TV is becoming burdensome. We can’t depend on him to actually log in and check to see if his class is up. If the class doesn’t come up right away, he assumes they are not meeting, and happily goes off to pursue something more interesting, such as video games. (Yesterday, he actually asked if he could make spaghetti in the middle of his math class!) Of course we can’t do anything noisy around the house while he is “in school,” such as vacuum, run the garbage disposal, mow the grass, or scream at the dogs when we catch them pooping on the carpet. And we have to watch our language because he attends a Christian school and our outbursts will be picked up on the online class. But now the latest crisis is that Zoom is down until the school can get a secure Zoom number to prevent hacking. It’s bad enough that we parents have to listen to these classes while quietly going about our daily, household routines. It’s like being plunged back into junior high all over again. Who in their right mind would be deliberately hacking into a middle school history class?

So, here we are, for better or worse. For richer or poorer, in sickness and health . . . wait, this does not apply to children. As this forced confinement wears on, my patience wears thin. Things are starting to get a little ugly around here. But I’m sure if I finally crack and succumb to the need to strangle someone (like a teenager), I can make a pretty good defense for temporary insanity.


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School Daze

The coronavirus forcing social isolation does not bother me too much because I’m an introvert—although I’m also, at this point in time, considered essential, so I’m still going to work as usual. I’m just taking histories and delivering advice in the parking lot. I just have to resist the urge to ask every client if they want fries with their pet’s rabies vaccine.  Or a supersized blood workup.

What does bother me is the fact that my fourteen year old son has now been home from school for three weeks and is driving me up the wall!  On top of that, the school is now geared up to do teaching from Zoom (yet one more internet thingie that I don’t understand.) Thank goodness my husband is tech-savvy.  It has only taken him several hours to figure out and get everything set up for remote learning.  If it were left up to me, I’m afraid Darion would just have to repeat eighth grade. But no matter how you figure it, this basically means homeschooling, a word that causes me to break out in nervous hives.

If I had wanted my kid home with me all day, I wouldn’t have paid big bucks to send him to private school where the teachers get paid to deal with him.  It’s bad enough making sure his homework is done every night, with all the drama, wailing and gnashing of teeth that that involves, but now we have to make sure he is “in class” remotely and not simultaneously playing his X-box.  Plus, did I mention, my work schedule has not changed?  And my husband’s work has more than doubled as he figures out how to take care of the church’s needs from afar.  Sooo . . . here we are.  Granted, this is a teacher’s dream come true—being able to teach a class without having to be in the same room with the students. No more having to separate the two class clowns who disrupt the lesson.  No more having to tell the kids to quiet down and get to work.  No more supervising and hovering over them to make sure they are actually working.  No, this is now the parents’ job!  I realize the schools are doing the best they can with a totally unfamiliar scenario, but really, I’m fine with just sending my kid to school and letting him take his chances with the virus.  He’s young and healthy.  (Okay, just kidding.  Sort of.)

Now we can’t sleep in on our day off.  We have to be up to get Darion on the computer in time for his eight o’clock class.  We can’t do our own work on the computer because Darion is “in class.”  We will probably have to “sit in” on his classes to make sure he understands how to do everything properly (as well as to make sure he hasn’t snuck something else in front of the computer to occupy his time during online class.)

I suppose there is a plus side, in that we don’t have to beg, threaten, cajole, and force him out the door every morning, praying he actually has everything he needs for the day and we don’t get a call from the school asking us to bring something he forgot.  Plus we don’t have to fight the morning traffic, hoping to hit all green lights so as to get him to school on time. And we won’t have the last minute search for the belt and shoes he can’t find.  Now when he leaves his homework on the coffee table, he can just run into the other room and fetch it.  Not to mention the fact we won’t be judged by the school staff because, as usual, he rolled out of bed two minutes before he absolutely had to leave the house and failed to brush his teeth, put on deodorant, or comb his hair. In our defense, we really do try!

Now if we can just get him out of bed and in front of the computer in time for class, this thing might actually work.  But I’m not counting on it.  Does anyone know if Swiss boarding schools are closed?

How to Cope With Quaran-Teenagers

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Home Sweet Home

My older son came home from his temporary job of painting houses the other day, completely stunned by “homeowners’ associations.”  It seems the owner of the house where they were working got fined $100 a day because of some mold on his house, until the mold was taken care of.  Since my son’s crew couldn’t get out there right away, the gentleman ended up owing $500.

This got me thinking about how, yet again, I am glad we don’t have to answer to anyone but the property tax collector for what goes on with our home. On our fence alone, we have enough mold to furnish the entire country with penicillin for a year.  In our defense, the fence was not supposed to be this way.  We actually had someone lined up last fall to pressure wash it.  But our pressure washer wasn’t working properly and he took it home to fix it and other circumstances intervened, and in the end, our pressure washer ended up sitting in someone’s garage somewhere in Crestview. It’s a long story. One day, when we get around to it, we will go fetch it because the mold is starting to really irritate me. And when things get bad enough that they irritate me, I finally get around to doing something about them, such as pressure washing the fence myself. On my time table. The point is, if we were part of a homeowner’s association, we would be bankrupt by now for our moldy fence.

It’s not that I don’t sympathize up to a point with the whole premise behind homeowner’s associations.  I mean who wants their nice neighborhood defaced by the guy with all the rusted out cars in his front yard? But still, can’t they give people a break?  My stepdaughter and her husband were fined $25 a day for a burned out light in front of their house.  A light! What if, say, life gets in the way and the homeowner has an emergency or has to work late or is out of the country or is fighting for his life in ICU and can’t get around to fixing the stupid light?  There are more important things to worry about than a burned out light or a little mold on a house.

There are certainly times when I wish our house looked nicer, but I don’t want someone telling me I have to make it look nicer.  After all, I figure if we paid good money for our home, we should have the privilege to do with it (or not do with it) whatever we want (assuming it’s legal.) If I wanted someone to nag me about the appearance of the house, I would have stayed living with my parents—although, come to think of it, they were worse than I am.

I do admit to the occasional “house envy,” when I see showcase, beautifully landscaped homes.  It’s even worse when I step foot into those homes to see an immaculate living space, with designer perfection, white carpets, and no clutter.  If my house looked anything like this, I would have to ban my husband and kids from living here.  Plus the pets. But alas, I have a weakness for my family and pets, so my pie-in-the-sky dream of having the house which is featured in Southern Living only extends until I walk in my front door and reality slaps me in the face.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in a place where everyone has to stop at the gate and be admitted by a guard.  It might stop all those drivers who use our yard as a turn-around when they realize they’re lost, leaving muddy ruts in the little bit of green we have. It might also stop the ones who think, for some reason, our yard is a good place to discard empty beer cans, cigarette buts, fast food wrappers, and dirty diapers. Granted, our yard is not exactly pristine, but it doesn’t resemble the city dump–at least not yet.

But the only reason I might consider moving to a gated community and joining a homeowner’s association is because of what a client told me when I asked if she had seen any fleas on her dog.

“We don’t have fleas,” she huffed with indignation.  “We live in a gated community!”

So, there you have it.  Even fleas can’t get past the guard—or if they do, you can bet the pet owner will be fined out the wazoo by the homeowner’s association until the fleas are gone.  It’s an effective form of flea control I had never considered.

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