Chapter 31: COVID Chronicles

April 28, 2020

By Karen

Day 48

Horoscopes Debunked & Where Tony Disappears Every Night

I must correct something I wrote the other day about Virginia Governor Ralph Northam saying Phase One partial reopening would last two years. Northam didn’t say that. It was State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver.

Gov. Northam is actually seeking ways Virginia can reopen much sooner. But I think any state doing this flirts with disaster, and I want no part of it. It presumes people don’t move around. Sure, go ahead and open one county in the sticks that’s had no infections. But as soon as an asymptomatic city boy makes a road trip to visit the folks, Grandma’s suddenly having a horrible death and you’re back to Square One.

It’s like they don’t remember how this stinking virus gets around: it travels. Unless they order anyone who might be infected (i.e., everyone) not to go anywhere, they risk starting another wave.

Short of a medical breakthrough (which would take months, if not years, to fully distribute even if it happened yesterday) I don’t see a quick and easy way out, no matter what Trump wishes. It’s getting pretty depressing.

If you read a newspaper, did you notice how it took a few weeks for the comics to catch up with current events? They probably had strips already in the pipeline, but now Dilbert’s in self-quarantine. One comic that seems oblivious to COVID is Marmaduke, probably because he’s a dog. But I worry about Garfield because his owner Jon is dumb enough to catch it.

Meanwhile, horoscope writers have been outed as fakes. Mine keeps going on about getting together with family and friends and taking trips. I stopped reading and I’ll never go back.

Somehow the Richmond Times-Dispatch sports section is still longest, most in-depth part of the paper EVERY DAY when almost no sports are being played. The world’s at near-standstill, economies are tanking, governments (all but ours) are frantic, yet the intrepid RTD staff keeps churning out reams of sports “news” like it matters. Why?

In cat news, Max graciously volunteered to stand morning watch in my office…

Tony contributes this factoid about himself today. Most nights after his dinner, he hangs around long enough to see if Max will command me to fetch treats, then he evaporates. I find him sacked out on my bed…

He wakes up raring to go at about 9 p.m….

But that’s when the rest of us are winding down, so he watches a little tube and then comes to bed again. An evening nap doesn’t give him insomnia.

Chapter 30: COVID Chronicles

April 27, 2020

By Karen

Day 47

IRS Plays Dumb RE: Stimulus & Roc the Supermodel

I’ve been expecting to see $1,200 appear in my checking account because the IRS has had access to it for years.

When my sister Keri recently reported receiving her stimulus, I got suspicious. So today I checked the IRS site. They had no record of my checking account, even though on March 18 they withdrew $86 that I owed on my 2019 taxes.

Good old Steve Mnuchin’s got it all under control — NOT.

I reentered my information and we’ll see how it goes. I won’t starve, but since they offered it…

The CDC added new symptoms to the original three (fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing). Now, be on the lookout for:

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills or chills with shaking
  • Loss or taste or smell

Who hasn’t had a headache since this started? Are we all infected? Who knows? Rotsa ruck finding out. Can you tell I’m feeling a little testy today? It’s Monday.

If you’ve paid attention to current events at all, you’ve probably noticed a second insidious virus COVID-19 has spawned. It’s called narcissism and Trump is the vector. He’s convinced his cult that coronavirus is a hoax and the economic shutdown is their real problem.

They’re infected with Trump’s insistence that their right to move freely through society and become potential COVID carriers takes precedence over all our lives.

Businesses should open and expose employees to sickness and death so Trump’s cult won’t get bored or be inconvenienced.

If you believe coronavirus is real and deadly, you must bolt your doors while Trump and some idiot governors egg on the cult to rampage openly, spreading the virus and prolonging its existence.

Once science catches up with treatment and a vaccine, the next crisis will be stamping out the plague of ignorance and entitlement Trump has unleashed. It will be difficult, but the first step will be to neutralize the source of infection — Trump himself.

Now, on a lighter note, this morning Roc snagged a prime sunny spot on the blue perch. Then he saw me with the camera…

And went into his routine…

This is the suave, Charles Boyer “come-hither” look he usually reserves for his “Sweet Tater”…

Then he channeled Melania writhing naked on a bear-skin rug…

That got a little out of hand…

I didn’t see what was coming up behind me when Roc abruptly shut down the photo-op…

I should have known. No sunny spot in this house goes unchallenged…

But by now, it had moved down the perch and Tony wasted no time claiming it…

Chapter 29: COVID Chronicles

April 26, 2020

By Karen

Day 46

And Now, Comic Relief: Trump’s Bat-Shittery Bounced Back

The cats are taking the day off, so I’ll share a few more brilliant Trump parodies I’ve seen on Twitter because if I don’t vent about him occasionally, I’ll explode.

Just because “Dr.” Deborah Birx (you know, with the scarves) and Trump’s cult fall for it every time, Trump can’t gaslight the rest of us by denying he’s rude, crude, stupid and lies incessantly because they film him DOING IT on LIVE TELEVISION as we’re watching. To highlight exactly how demented Trump is, all it takes is for his verbal diarrhea to come from another human being.

Kylie Scott is “Hear Me Roar” on Twitter (@Stop_Trump20). Her take on Trump sounds quite plausibly like he’s drunk on something…

Comedian Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) skewers Trump’s demented ideas about disinfectants and light to stop coronavirus…

Taking another tack, comedian JL Cauvin (@JLCauvin) doesn’t quote Trump, but he can do a dead-on impression and improvises Trump speaking off the cuff. In this clip, Trump explains what he really meant about disinfectants…

My only nit to pick with Cauvin is that he’s about 6-8 months behind Trump’s melting brain, thinking a little too linearly and forming more complete sentences than Trump can now.

There is one tidbit of cat news today. I’m excited to announce that Tony seems to have reached a new level in his development. If you recall, we last saw him with his blue sparkle ball in the living room. This morning while vacuuming up sparkle shreds, I found the ball in my bedroom next to their water bowl. It was sopping wet…

So, Tony carried it there and dropped it in the water. I don’t know if he was trying to 1) bathe it, 2) teach it to swim, or 3) see if it would sink to prove it’s a witch. Whatever his intent, he realized it was a fail and he retrieved his ball, which he never does with rubber bands.

Was it compassion for a drowning sparkle ball or realization that he was destroying it, who knows? But it seems like a step in the right direction.


Chapter 28: COVID Chronicles

April 25, 2020

By Karen

Day 45

A Socially Distanced Birthday Party

Woke up this morning to find this little present on my bed…

It’s a weird furry bird. Roc thought he saw it move so, just to be safe, he killed it again…

Must share this effervescent new parody by Randy Rainbow of Trump’s ridiculous “prescriptions” to combat COVID…

I love classic show tunes. Seeing them performed by Randy so brilliantly makes them fresh all over again. It’s the only time I can laugh at Trump without wanting to cry.

Today was my father’s 83rd birthday, so last night I made him a loaf of bread in his Mr. Loaf bread machine (which I borrowed because it was languishing in their attic). I hear yeast is hard to come by now with everybody making their own bread. Mine must have lost its zing because I was bummed that this loaf didn’t rise a few more inches…

Naturally, as soon as I took it out of its pail and put it on the cooling rack, the food inspector had to show up…

Today I couldn’t get chicken for lunch from the newest Zaxby’s in town because they’re closed, even with a drive-thru. Plan B supported a local business. Nuccio’s Express is on my route to my parents, so I got a Nuccio’s Special pizza to go, of which my father said, “This may be the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.”

Everything tastes better when you haven’t had someone else cook for you in over a month.

My sister brought a Baskin-Robbins cherry ice cream and chocolate cake that was quite a treat.

We ate outside on the deck at a huge table even though it was an overcast 60 degrees. My father couldn’t make a wish and blow out the musical candle on his cake because if he’d sprayed all over it, none of us womenfolk could have had any.

Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam, MD, just said he won’t relax lockdown until we have 14 straight days of declining numbers, which can’t start until we have adequate testing, which we don’t. And he expects Phase 1 reopening (masks, distancing, etc.) to last up to TWO YEARS. I’m already wondering how women in the Middle East live with their entire bodies in masks. If I have to cover half my face for two years, I’ll never be the same.

BONUS: I just found this John Morgan video. He does a spot-on George W. Bush and recorded this song right after the 2016 election. It’s not a knee-slapper, but it makes me miss when we had a kinder, gentler idiot in the White House…

Chapter 27: COVID Chronicles

April 24, 2020

By Karen

Day 44

Getting to the Root of Roc’s Angst

This outrage simply can’t go unacknowledged: Yesterday Donald Trump told doctors to find a way to inject disinfectant into people’s lungs or to flood their bodies with heat or light to kill coronavirus. Pointing to his head, he said he got these ideas because he has a “good you-know-what.”

Now we wait for reports of people dying from drinking bleach, or turning up in emergency rooms with high-powered flashlights stuck up their asses.

But Trump’s still president. His cabinet and Congress still apparently haven’t hit the magic number to compel Trump’s removal for incompetence and negligent homicide. Seems they’re aiming to eclipse all other countries for the number of sick and dead.

Now on to more important matters: Roc’s mental health. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, but he’s been self-quarantining longer than I have. Maybe it’s getting to him.

Since Roc was a tiny kitten, he’s visited my parents every Saturday. He likes riding in the car and playing in their much bigger house. More recently, he’s had a thing with a redhead they adopted named Tater Tot. Roc calls her, “My Sweet Tater”…

Technically, Tater is Roc’s aunt because, as my parents’ “child,” she’s my sister. But we don’t split hairs since they’re not blood relations and there won’t be kittens.

Back in February, as coronavirus was getting serious, Roc stopped wanting to go visiting and hid under the bed when it was time. Tony was thrilled to step in and had a blast. Only once was I able to convince Roc to go with Tony, and they enjoyed it, but then Roc got snippy with me and balked again. He’s been housebound over two months now for the first time in his life.

Cats Working has a neglected YouTube channel with some kitten videos of Roc. I just uploaded this one of Roc in 2016 at my parents’ when he was about 10 months old, wrestling with his young cousin Alfi. Roc and Alfi were tight and had play dates until Alfi grew older and became an asshole…

(Discovering I can publish videos here by laundering them through YouTube, I’ll share more. WordPress won’t take them in .mov format directly from my iPhone.)

Speaking of Tony, the last time we saw his blue sparkle ball, it was in the Man Cave Lounge. This morning he had it in the living room…

It’s going bald and leaving sparkle shreds all over the house. Next, Tony remembered a rubber band under the chair he couldn’t reach, so I used one of their sticks and fished out this haul…

I’ve been looking for that pen for a week. He’d also stashed a de-tailed mouse, a wine cork, and some paper scraps.

Tomorrow: My first quarantine social occasion. My father (and CW’s resident troll) is turning 83. I’m bringing takeout chicken from a new Zaxby’s nearby, and my sister’s bringing a cake. We’ll be spaced out on the deck or in the garage if it’s raining.

Don’t tell Roc or Tony.

Chapter 26: COVID Chronicles

April 23, 2020

By Karen

Day 43

Are the Cats Getting Sick — of Me?

Roc seems to be the only one who senses that things aren’t normal around here. I catch him staring at me looking worried, and he’s spending an inordinate amount of time hovering, to the point that he insists we occupy the same space. Like this morning, while I was trying to start the day by clearing coronavirus and Trump from my mind for a few minutes…

Maybe Roc heard through the grapevine about the two pet cats, three lions and five tigers who tested positive for coronavirus, all in New York. I think he wants to keep me under his paw so I don’t go out and bring any virus home.

And Roc commands I state with PERFECT CLARITY here that those cats all caught the virus FROM humans. They’re not passing it TO humans. They got mildly ill and all are expected to survive.

[As I was typing this, Roc just planted himself between me and keyboard to make sure I was following orders, even though it halted production. He can be such a bully.]

It’s a wet and gloomy day, so Max has spent all of it sacked out in the Man Cave. After I stopped by for a visit, he did saunter over to my office for a few minutes. He doesn’t look happy to see me…

And Tony just discovered a papier-mâché Christmas present on the balcony that my former boss prophetically gave me at least 30 years ago. The resemblance is uncanny, don’t you think? I didn’t catch the secret Tony whispered in his ear. I hope they’re not plotting a coup…

The masks my sister made for all of us were greatly appreciated because otherwise I’d have gone out in public with a dinner napkin across my face. But they’re really warm. I saw an ad in the paper about a local furniture and decorating business called u-fab interiors making masks, so I ordered two, and they arrived by mail yesterday, so it was a speedy three-day turnaround…

They look like you’re wearing a bra cup, but they do fit perfectly. U-fab says the cone accommodates an N95 mask, but it also doesn’t smush your nose. I washed them straight away by hand and they dried to like-new.

I have no immediate plans to go anywhere, but when I do, I’ll give one of these babies a test drive.

Chapter 24: COVID Chronicles

April 21, 2020

By Karen

Day 41

Roc and Tony Squabble & See Ghosts?

Tony’s tail is long, and he’s recently noticed it — and chases it — only when he’s walking in the hall outside my bedroom. Weird.

Last night, Tony noticed Roc has a tail, too…

Big mistake. Roc, going full-on bully, seems to be saying, “REALLY? This is the perch you want to die on, Kid?”…

On a side note, I must divulge that I think my house is haunted — by cats. Of my eight departed cats, who all lived here, I think three, possibly four, have returned.

For example, once I was napping on my bed and distinctively felt a cat twice trying to jump up on either side of my legs. It was a classic Rex move, but Rex was gone and I was alone. Rex was a sweet tuxedo who lived to be 18 and died in 2001 of kidney failure…

That Rowdy Rat Rex was holding lies on my bedroom floor today, minus his ears.

I think our current resident ghosts are from the original Cats Working crew: Definitely Fred and Yul, and possibly Adele.

In addition to jumping on the bed in their former favorite spots, Fred, a pure white cat, once rubbed against my legs in the kitchen. I felt it, looked down, saw a white cat and thought it was Adele. But Adele turned out to be fast asleep in the living room.

I see Yul in passing as he’s off to make a crash without disturbing anything.

Not to forget the orbs. People who study the paranormal say orbs could be spirits. In thousands of photos I’ve taken of cats in this house, orbs have appeared only twice. They were in pictures of the cats who took Fred or Yul’s slot the first Christmas after they died.

In 2006 it was Cole after Fred died. I snapped this shot twice in succession. The photos were identical except one had this huge orb, which I didn’t see until I uploaded the photos (that’s Adele in the background)…

It happened again in 2011 with Max the Christmas after Yul died…

Which reminds me, I haven’t yet closely checked the pics I took of Tony’s first Christmas here last December. But I think Adele has jumped on the bed a few times since she passed in September because bed real estate meant everything to her. It wouldn’t surprise me if she drops by to haunt Max and Roc and check on their deportment. What else could explain Roc’s expression staring up at the first beam when “no one” is there?…

Or Tony transfixed by “nothing” on the second beam?…

Chapter 22: COVID Chronicles

April 19, 2020

By Karen

Day 39

Bacon-Sharing, Small Plates & Booze

[NOTE: If you’ve been following, you haven’t missed a chapter. I just discovered I inadvertently had two Chapter 16s and corrected the numbering from that point forward.]

I hope I haven’t invited a ton of pollen into the house, but I just opened the window in the Man Cave, which everyone immediately flocked to…

My house sits on a hill, so the Man Cave has a treehouse feel. Roc is gazing out over the roofs behind us…

Confession time: I broke quarantine yesterday to zip to the ABC store because I wanted a martini with Downton Abbey. The store is new and roomy because it and the restaurant next door traded spots. Not everybody wore masks, but we stood apart and they had plexiglass up, tape and hand sanitizer and I was in and out in about three minutes with this…

It was the perfect complement to an evening where:

  • Cousin Isabel gets verbally bitch-slapped in front of the whole family by Lord Merton’s odious son Larry, whom Tom Branson declares a “bastard” and orders from the house.
  • Cousin Rose marries a nice Jewish boy named Atticus she’s known for five minutes.
  • Rose’s mother Susan, who opposes the marriage, proves even more conniving than the resident scumbag, under-butler Thomas Barrow, when she stages compromising photos of Atticus with a hooker at his stag party.
  • Thomas Barrow wears a white hat for once when he rescues the temporary footman from the Dowager Countess Violet’s maid Denker, whose secret hobby is luring young men to a gambling parlor so she can get drunk for free.
  • Anna goes to jail, charged with pushing Tony Gillingham’s valet Mr. Green (who we learn was a career rapist) in front of a bus.
  • Lady Edith brings Marigold home to raise as her ward after Cora concocts some cockamamie story. Robert almost immediately guesses the truth because he thinks the child resembles Michael Gregson. It’s unclear if it’s her vacant stare or seeming lack of awareness of her surroundings and anyone speaking to her.
  • Lady Mary meets future Mr. Lady Mary, Henry Talbot, and beguiles him, as is her wont, with snarky banter while he’s trying to shoot grouse.
  • Robert’s dog Isis sadly dies, yet her butt remains the first thing we see in the opening credits for the run of the show.

Today I awoke with a taste for junk food and had everything for a McMuffin meal, so why not? Immediately upon my taking bacon out of the microwave, Roc and Tony magically appeared, but you can see I had every intention of sharing…

Ever the impulsive kitty, Tony photobombed in the next split second. But he showed real class by going for the treat bowl rather than stealing larger bacon slices off my muffin…

A word about the orange plate, which is becoming a fixture on this blog. I read somewhere that you eat less from smaller, colorful plates. So I bought it and use it for most meals, even though there’s no shortage of dishes…

After eight faithful years of counting Weight Watchers points, I recently gave up because 1) I’m sick to death of it, and 2) During Trump’s time I’ve regained 35 of the 50 pounds I initially lost. I’ll probably stress-eat until he’s in prison or dead. I don’t care which, as long he’s silent.

Chapter 20: COVID Chronicles

April 17, 2020

By Karen

Day 37

Test Results & A Man Cave Café Tour

Now that my TP worries are literally “behind me,” today I went back to my usual morning routine. After reading the paper, I tried to forget what I just saw by relaxing my brain with some meditation. This is difficult to pull off with judgy eyes boring into you…

Next, I play a few rounds of Sudoku. Roc likes to join me. Notice his claw resting gently on my leg in case I make a wrong move…

Tony’s turkey and cheese lunches of late seem to be making him gassy. In the litterbox, he sounds like he’s sitting on a whoopy cushion. We can laugh because he doesn’t have diarrhea, thank goodness. Today, Tony gives you a tour of a place you haven’t seen yet — the Man Cave Café (a.k.a. upstairs bathroom that joins my office and the Man Cave)…

Here he is hanging out in the opulent lounge area with this favorite blue sparkle toy. I’ve been finding it all over the house…

With all the amenities any kitty needs, by closing certain doors, the Café can be instantly converted into a private feline hospital or a Welcome Center for new kitties. This is what happened when Max spent his first night home in the Café back in 2011. If only he knew how dear TP would become…

I’m so glad she doesn’t buy that cheapo one-ply stuff. I’d have to unroll twice as much.

The Cats Working crew can stop by the Café for a drink, a nosh, or a pit stop whenever they’re too lazy to go downstairs…

Back in the kitchen, I had some whole wheat tortillas, so I livened up lunch a bit by making a wrap of salad fixings and salami with a few drops of balsamic vinaigrette dressing, with a layer of cheese to keep it from getting soggy…

I garnished it with Famous Dave’s Signature Spicy Pickle Chips to give it restaurant quality…

If you like pickles, see if your grocery has these. They’re like bread and butter pickles with a seriously delicious kick.

When Tony knocked some of the magazines off the coffee table, I decided to give you a glimpse of Max’s handiwork. Luckily, This End Up furniture only gets more distinguished with “distress,” but Max would reduce it to toothpicks if given a chance…

[Adele once did a post about the various art installations she’d created around the house.]

Yesterday, after this blog’s resident troll tried to whip up drama about my blood pressure, you must be dying to see the results of the bloodwork the doctor did yesterday, so here it is:

My total cholesterol is 171 (down from 190 last year). But my HDL (good stuff) dropped from 99 to 75, and my triglycerides rose from 66 to 89, which baffles me. But the LDL (bad stuff) held steady at 78.

Last year my A1C was 5.8, which the doctor considered prediabetic since the range tops out at 5.7. But but this year it’s 5.6 and he thinks that’s dandy.

All other tests were well within normal, so I’m good for another 10,000 miles unless coronavirus catches up with me.

Chapter 19: COVID Chronicles

April 16, 2020

By Karen

Day 36

Doctor Breaks My Quarantine, But Was There TP?

After someone mentioned here that their cats don’t interact much, I realized how tight-knit the Cats Working crew is, for cats. Here they were last night while I did my 7,500 steps in front of the TV…

The black blob to the left is Roc, middle Max, with Tony on the table, where the magazine drapes keep Max from gouging out chunks. Nobody else could live like this.

Once I returned to my little office today, the gang stopped by for a visit…

Today was my doctor’s appointment to get prescription refills, but last night I couldn’t bring myself to set the alarm for dawn to hunt for toilet paper while I was out.

I woke up early anyway. By 7:40, Wegmans supermarket’s parking lot was disgustingly full; I almost kept going. But they have great TP, so I donned my mask, stepped over discarded latex gloves lying beside my car (assholes!) and hoped I’d get lucky.

Carts were being sanitized, and sanitizer was by the door, which the woman ahead of me ignored. I used it entering AND leaving (no gloves). Most people seemed to be distancing and wearing masks.

I made a beeline for the far corner via unoccupied aisles as much as I could, also avoiding eye contact for some reason. Masks make you feel sneaky.

The best TP was gone, but they had lots of the six-roll cheapo stuff — limit one per customer ($5.49 — 91 cents/roll). So just in case I couldn’t do better…

At the register where tape on the floor spaced us, I stood behind a woman with a huge order. Then an employee noticed my one little item and led me to customer service to ring up so I could get the hell out of there. She was wonderful.

Still too early for the doctor, I drove over to Sam’s Club. Another trek to the back corner was totally worth it when I scored 32 rolls of Quilted Northern ($19.98 — 62 cents/roll)!…

So, 51 more sheets per roll, 30 cents cheaper. Wegmans scalped me. Live and learn.

I appreciate the masks my sister made me, but it was so stifling at times, I thought I could pass out. Lack of oxygen probably made me forget the few other things at Sam’s I needed and didn’t get.

Sam’s gas was $1.35 a gallon, so I filled the tank wearing bags on my hands, which dropped off into a trashcan when I finished.

I reached the doctor’s early. You have to call from the parking lot before going in and say if you have a fever, cough or feel sick. Anybody could lie, and the door isn’t locked, but they say nobody sick has ever been inside.

All the staff and I wore masks, but other patients didn’t. One discussed her symptoms loudly on her phone in the waiting room, even though a sign said “Phones off.”

The doctor looked like he wore a coveted N95. Since my blood pressure was an amazing 119/70, I let him listen to my heart and lungs and gave blood and urine samples like a nice girl. Then I was OUTTA THERE!

Having skipped breakfast, I toyed with stopping by Burger King, but asked myself, “Really? A bacon, egg and cheese biscuit is worth risking a horrible death?” So I came straight home, put my mask in a 150-degree oven to decontaminate, and dropped my clothes in the washer.

As I was power-walking through the stores, I was surprised by so many people casually pushing loaded carts, shopping like nothing was happening. And patients with naked faces in the doctor’s office. What’s up with them?

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