Chapter 57: COVID Chronicles

May 24, 2020

By Karen

Day 74

Another Cat Tradition Lives On & Chives Get a New Life

The late Adele became extremely finicky toward the end, but one thing I could always get her to eat sip was Fancy Feast Broths…

I’ve seen them retail for $1.29 each — for 1.4 oz. It’s Fancy Feast pulling off yet another heist by addicting some cats’ preternaturally refined palates to this stuff.

Adele rejected the meat and veg, but Roc loved all that, so I split it accordingly and they both got a treat. (Max had no interest, so he didn’t miss anything.)

I had two packets left when Adele died and let them sit until a few weeks ago. When Roc heard the old familiar sound of me shaking the packet to work the contents to the bottom so I wouldn’t waste a drop, he came flying with Tony, as always, right behind and ready for anything.

Those two little packets turned into a “thing.” Now in the evening, if I walk to the kitchen for any reason, Roc and Tony show up looking expectant. And they didn’t let up during the week they had to wait for the 64 packets I got for 99 cents to arrive from

Now I can split a packet down the middle and everybody’s happy…

While they snack in high style, want to see what I get? I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought these Cheez-Its®. The name even sounds like a bad idea if you think about it a minute…

I can picture millennial hot-shots sitting around a mahogany conference table at Kellogg, tasked with brainstorming how to recycle overbaked waste on the Cheez-It production line. Finally, one of them looks up from his phone and says, “Why don’t we just call them extra toasty?” And a new brand is born…

If you haven’t tried them, take it from me, there’s nothing special or cheesier, and some do taste almost burnt. I’m glad I only bought one box.

Today I harvested the chives, cutting them way back (except the runt, which I left alone). They grew lots of new roots in water. The original roots look like translucent mush…

Now they have dirt. I put the runt in the middle so we can keep an eye on it. Of course, Tony had to make sure I planted them correctly…

Speaking of Tony, when I tried to brush my teeth last night, the little nipper had other ideas…

Even without a man here, I still find whiskers in the sink.

Chapter 56: COVID Chronicles

May 23, 2020

By Karen

Day 73

ABCs & Mail-In Ballot Retraction

I woke up at 9:30 and it threw the whole day off. Doing chores, I went outside to sweep tree crap off the deck and my new sliding glass door went wonky and refused to close all the way — by about 2 inches. Now there’s a gap at the top you can see daylight through. I had to physically lift the door above the track to close it and then slide a wad of cardboard under one end (best done by two people, BTW) to balance it enough to lock it until one of my handymen texts me back about a fix. I have every reason to believe they will ghost me on this.

The stress of finding this new home repair project (with its security implications in the meantime) propelled my masked self out the front door on a vodka run. But first, some context: Virginia controls all hard liquor sales through state-owned ABC stores (but you can buy beer and wine anywhere). This is solely due to a mix of latter-day prudishness and greed.

When I travel, it always amazes me when I see someone nonchalantly picking up tampons and Jack Daniels at Walgreens.

Anyway, I live equidistant between two ABCs, and my father told me yesterday that COVID had closed one of those. So I drove to the other one.

Well, guess what? Also closed. The sign directed me to the “nearest” store, in a dicey part of town I avoid. At this point, anyone with a functioning sliding glass door who didn’t need a stiff martini would have just gone to Food Lion for beer and been done with it.

But I knew of a fourth store, so I took the scenic route there to give my Saturn a highway workout because it hasn’t been driven in two weeks. It was open and everybody was wearing masks.

Yesterday, Governor Northam said he’ll probably make wearing masks in public mandatory on Tuesday. I don’t know what’s magical about Tuesday, but will love watching all the Trumpers who paraded around the state capitol in their cute little camo outfits with assault weapons stick that mask decree right up their Second Amendments.

RETRACTION: If you live in Virginia’s 7th District, forget what I said about getting a mail-in ballot. Upon returning from the ABC, I had a letter from the county registrar’s office saying my application was denied because the only Democratic primary is in the 4th District. Is my face red!

I blame the pathetic Richmond Times-Dispatch, the only newspaper available in this region, which I read front to back EVERY DAY. I pay attention to this stuff and had no idea what’s going on with the primaries. The RTD is so intent on keeping Trump’s crimes buried, local political news must also be getting lost — or going unreported. In their newsroom, who has time for CURRENT events when you’ve got pages to fill with Civil War developments and sports that aren’t being played?

For dinner tonight I had some leftover baked chicken thigh, so threw it together with rice, onions, green beans and BBQ sauce. Here’s what I mean about having no patience for caramelizing onions…

That’s as brown as they got before I ate them. They were good. Now I need a drink.

BONUS: The amazing Sarah Cooper telling us “How to Obamagate”…

Chapter 55: COVID Chronicles

May 22, 2020

By Karen

Day 72

Fat Chives & A Big Batch of Beans

I think the chives (scallions, whatever) are ready to harvest. It’s amazing how they regenerated in just 12 days. The pointy ones are new shoots, the flat-tops are regrowth of the originals from Food Lion…

And here’s the poor runt, Day 10 to Day 12…

It grew, but come on, runt! Over the weekend I’ll cut them back and plant the bulbs (including runt) in potting soil to see what happens. The cats will take more interest in this new phase of the experiment because they love digging in dirt.

Last night I made pork and beans for my father because my mother isn’t much into fiber. I use 16 oz. of dried Great Northern beans, and usually soak them overnight. But time was short, so I just rinsed and boiled them hard. Naturally, my culinary kitty supervised…

Once boiling, I added kosher salt to the water, lowered the heat to a simmer and covered. They took about 90 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, I assembled and had my ingredients inspected by the FDA (Feline Dietary Authority), who made sure there was extra bacon so I’d have to offer a bribe in exchange for his approval…

I eyeball everything, so I can’t give specific quantities except there’s a large diced onion and six strips of crumbled bacon.

Originally, my intent was to make beans that look like what’s in a can, but not mushy. Depending on whether you want them tomatoey, tangy or sweet, you can go heavier on whatever you like. You can’t break this recipe.

First, I add the onion. Usually I’ll sautée it, but I was on a deadline so I threw it in raw.

Then go heavy squirts of ketchup and BBQ sauce, followed by lesser amounts of mustard, molasses, honey, and the bacon crumbled. I used to use brown sugar instead of honey, but found honey is tastier. This is what they look like after I throw in everything…

Then I stir…

Covering again, I left them on very low heat to cook the onions and meld the flavors. For richer color, I did end up adding more ketchup and BBQ sauce.

After an hour of simmering, they were done, but a bit too tart for my taste, so I gave them another heavy squirt of molasses. That did the trick. I think molasses is the key to the richness I’m going for.

Once cool, I put half-cup servings into Ziploc® bags for freezing. This batch made 5 1/2 cups. Bags save a lot of space; the beans slip out cleanly after thawing. Tony gave his final inspection before I put them in the fridge overnight…

My father just picked them up. He likes them with a couple of hot dogs. It’s a New England thing.

Chapter 54: COVID Chronicles

May 21, 2020

By Karen

Day 71

Virginia Vote by Mail PSA & Tony Scares the Crap Out of Me

Entering week 11 of my lockdown, I applied for an absentee ballot in Virginia’s Democratic primary on June 23. Senator Mark Warner’s up for reelection and so is my representative, Abigail Spanberger. Neither have Democratic challengers, but I believe strong numbers out of the gate will put every Trump-loving Republican dip-shit who runs on notice that a Big Blue Wave will drown them in November.

Virginia traditionally makes it hard to vote by mail. You must have one of the limited reasons the state accepts or furnish a doctor’s excuse. At least this time the website turned down the gas on the flaming hoops by telling you which boxes to check if avoiding death by pandemic is your reason. You also need to give your Social Security and driver’s license numbers (they say they need your signature off your license). The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is June 5.

I’m giving all this detail and providing the link to absentee ballots twice so anyone reading this in Virginia will JUST DO IT. (I’m looking at my parents.)

I just finished Season 9 of Call the Midwife. I love this series, although I was a bit late to the party because, as with Single Parents, the subject matter didn’t seem to interest me in the slightest. I was wrong.

Admittedly, my least favorite scenes are the births. If you’ve see one pregnant woman sweating, screaming, panting and pushing until a slimy, bloody baby oozes out in a gush of — pee? amniotic fluid? — you’ve seen them all. And they always go close up on the hand cutting the umbilical cord, which grosses me out.

They use real babies, and some are genuine newborns. Where do they come from? I wonder if parents volunteer them so they can show the kids the episodes later, how they got to do an instant replay of their own birth by being pulled out of some strange woman’s crotch.

But I do find the stories a heartwarming and welcome break from all the ugliness we live with. Nonnatus House is like Downton Abbey filled with nuns. The last episode was set in 1965, so it’s also fun to see how their lives and fashions evolve.

This morning I managed to catch Tony doing his daily perch workout, although he didn’t do as many reps as usual because he probably knew he was on camera…

As I was typing this, I heard a picture on the wall moving and found Tony at the bottom of the stairs on the Kitty Condo struggling with his collar in his mouth, blood on his paws and the wall. He wasn’t choking, but panicked at feeling trapped.

His flailing claws hooked my hands in a few places, but I managed to yank the collar apart and free him. The collar that was in his mouth was stained, so he must have bit or scratched his tongue.

I’m still shaking, but right now he’s having a nosh in the Man Cave Café as if nothing happened. He must be feeling pretty smug, knowing he’s convinced me to let him be a teenage nudist.

“You saw the whole thing, you pink dummy! Why didn’t you fly down and rescue me?”

Chapter 53: COVID Chronicles

May 20, 2020

By Karen

Day 70

Surprise! The Chives Aren’t & Tony is Camera-Shy. Who Knew?

Here’s a chives update: Day 10 and they’re going strong. Roc took a chomp on the tallest one last night. Cats Working reader Shelley just informed me that they’re not chives, but scallions. Whatever. Fat chives. Yesterday I cheated and added a drop of plant food to their water. After I harvest the greens, I may put the bulbs in a pot of soil and see what happens. It seems they would be much happier getting nourishment from dirt…

And here’s the runt I’ve been trying to save. I think you can see it’s got a microscopic shoot starting. (That’s why I gave them plant food)…

This morning after I started working, Roc was meowing like a madkitty downstairs. Next thing I knew, he brought me a present…

That weird bird again. I know he fished it out of a large plastic shopping bag where I threw it this morning, trying to get him to do something cute. Of course, he waited until I’d left the room.

Speaking of cute, like his human namesake, Tony always knows when he’s being filmed. Here’s a tiny example. I was trying to catch the adorable pull-ups he does every day on this perch, but as soon as he realized he was on camera, he stopped and scaled the perch the hard way. Notice how he stares right at me before and after…

Remember my rant about Karen yesterday? Last night when I was fixing a snack, I grabbed this bottle from my stash…

What are the odds I’d have a “Karen” wine? Well, I’m no wine connoisseur, but I’m very sorry to report that this sauvignon blanc was, without a doubt, THE nastiest wine I’ve ever tasted. It smells like cat urine and tastes just as bad (I imagine, I’ve never drunk cat pee). I’ve tried three of the Naked Wines so far, and two of them were not good. The first one named its blend “White Wine,” so I wasn’t expecting much, and I certainly didn’t get it.

BONUS: I was watching The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah last night, and coronavirus gave this commencement speech that had me in stitches. Its point of view is spot-on…

Chapter 52: COVID Chronicles

May 19, 2020

By Karen

Day 69

Karen: The Insult & DISTRACTION!

The day started well with Eggo blueberry waffles, blueberries and blueberry syrup…

Can you tell I like blueberries?

Later, in the Man Cave, after finding cardboard crumbs all over the floor, I decided to retire the kitties’ faithful old scratchy thing…

…for a spiffy new one by Laura Ashley. I’d forgotten I hid it in the closet…

All I can say is, what was I thinking? It must have been the price ($4.99). But Laura Ashley doesn’t know cats for beans. The only thing her scratcher’s got going for it is being reversible, but most are. It has nothing to catch the crumbs, and it’s too short. I’ll be surprised if it gets used much. I did sprinkle catnip on it, which didn’t impress Max or Tony in the least, but Roc had to try it out…

After which he promptly adjourned to my office for post-‘nip nap…

Have you noticed a lot of characters on TV shows seemed to be named Karen, and I’m not just talking about Will & Grace. It turns out, my name has been a “thing” for several years, according to

Karen is a mocking slang term for an entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged white woman. Especially as featured in memes, Karen is generally stereotyped as having a blonde bob haircut, asking to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice complaints or make demands, and being a nagging, often divorced mother from Generation X.

There’s a lot more about its origin and uses if you care to read it.

I see people using it on Twitter, usually to comment on video of some unattractive white woman (who probably wears MAGA panties) calling the police on someone black just for being.

I hope it passes out of fashion soon and they divert to Debbies. I’ve known several Debbies in my life who really having it coming.

At least Karen doesn’t end in an orgasm — Ah! — like today’s most popular names for smug young things. That vowel is bound to cause acid reflux post-menopause.

Emma, Ava, Isabella, Mia, Olivia.

(OK, not Olivia — that’s my 2nd cousin’s name).

The rest of you, your turn to be mocked will come. But probably after the old bags with narcissistic “I” names — Judi, Charli, Lexi, Kennedi and Demi — get their turn.

In researching this, I just read that “Nova” is predicted to be popular for girls this year. My first car was a 1970 Chevy Nova. The brand failed to sell in Mexico because in Spanish, “nova” means “no go.”

BONUS: The always-wonderful and not-famous-enough Randy Rainbow dipped into Fiddler on the Roof and released a new Trump parody that is sure to delight you. Enjoy!


Chapter 51: COVID Chronicles

May 18, 2020

By Karen

Day 68

One Kitty’s Junk is — Junk & America’s Free-dumb Baffles the World

Tony has lately been obsessed with getting something under the big chair in the living room, so this morning I looked under it and found his precious stash…

Whatever he was looking for must not have been there because he instantly lost all interest and settled in for what we call “Morning Siesta”…

Chives Update: One of them has a third shoot. I cut the struggling one back and segregated it to give it another chance. It’s got a green center, so I’m optimistic. But it’s supposed to be cloudy and rainy all week, so sun will be in short supply Here’s Day 6-8…

I finished watching Upload on Amazon Prime. The hero, Nathan, downgraded himself to the cheapest, starkest “2 Gig” area, where inhabitants get 2 gigs of data a month. If they burn through it too quickly, they’re in limbo for the rest of the month. I’ll just say this first season ended with lots of excitement and a terrifically awful (for Nathan) cliffhanger.

You may have seen reports that the once-mighty United States has become an object of the world’s pity, even though our current crisis is self-inflicted. Our government’s checks and balances have failed, and the rest of us can do nothing until the November election but rage at Donald Trump’s smug incompetence, which is projected to kill 100,000 by June 1.

I read this fascinating article, “How Freedom Became Free-dumb in America,” by Umair Haque, where he tries to understand the phenomenon of the “American Idiot” using the ancient Greeks’ definition of an “idiot.” He explains:

For the Greeks, “idiot” carried a precise and special meaning. The person who was only interested in private life, private gain, private advantage. Who had no conception of a public good, common wealth, shared interest. To the Greeks, the pioneers of democracy, the creators of the demos, such a person was the most contemptible of all. Because even the Greeks seemed to understand: you can’t make a functioning democracy out of…idiots.

Of course, in current usage idiots are not only greedy and self-serving, but willfully ignorant, gullible, hypocritically “Christian,” racist and socially reviled by all but their own kind. They wear red MAGA hats and chronically confuse Fox propaganda with fact-based journalism.

The article is well worth reading to see how the Trump cult’s willingness to commit mass suicide is playing to the rest of the world.

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