CDC Gives Coronavirus Great News

May 14, 2021

By Karen

Was I the only one who reacted with dismay yesterday when the CDC suddenly proclaimed, “Go forth bare-faced and cuddle up! If you’re fully vaccinated, no more masks or distancing. Coronavirus can’t touch you”? (Fine print: Unless you’re on public transport or in a hospital.)

WTF? This is bullshit. This freedom came the same day fully-vaccinated 65-year-old Bill Maher had to cancel taping of his HBO show, Real Time (which he’s been doing live for months before a reduced and distanced audience), because he asymptomatically tested POSITIVE for COVID.

The CDC says, however, that people who haven’t been vaccinated still need to mask up. Yeah, right. Like they’re going to start now. They must be thrilled to be able to mingle freely again because most businesses aren’t asking for proof of vaccination.

In fact, Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida is prohibiting businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, screwing the Florida-based cruise ships that want to sail again and stay disease-free.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, says, “Vaccinated people need some sort of reward.”

I’m sorry, that’s ridiculous. What are we, two-year-olds?

The ones really getting rewarded are the holdouts who now don’t have to do a fucking thing while the vaccine they should get goes to waste.

The Washington Post reports as of today that only 46.8% of the total population has received at least one dose, and only about a third is fully vaccinated. That’s far below what they’ve been calling herd immunity.

Meanwhile, the anti-vaxxers become variant incubators. Nobody knows if current vaccines protect against variants, because they don’t all exist yet. But they WILL if we drop our guard with people thinking the pandemic’s over and they don’t need the shots.

Another thing we don’t know is how long vaccination protection lasts. And is the time different for two-dose Pfizer and Moderns versus one-dose Johnson & Johnson?

What most infuriates me is how we NEVER learn. The goddamn minute we see fewer cases and deaths (we’re averaging only 622 corpses a day, according to The New York Times, Yippee!), we throw caution out the window. Like we haven’t seen what happens after EVERY large event or holiday where people get sloppy.

I hope I’m wrong, but I expect the numbers to climb again over the summer as people who think they’re safe mingle freely with the diseased and vaccination protection wanes.

Not to mention the country’s not in a sterile bubble. People carrying variants can travel here from anywhere. Now they can walk the streets bare-faced and spike our numbers.

I don’t intend to give up my mask in public until I see vaccination stats much higher, infections much lower, and a CDC estimate of vaccine longevity.

COVID is nothing to play with and I’ll forego my “reward,” thank you, to stay alive and breathing without a ventilator.

PS: I’m glad I just bought a huge package of toilet paper.

NOTE: The cats threw in the towel on the Triple Crown. To quote them, it’s “FUBAR.” Even if Medina Spirit wins the Preakness tomorrow, he’ll most likely forfeit his Kentucky Derby win, thanks to the crooked humans around him. Medina’s record will always bear that stain as they go merrily on their way, doping and disgracing other horses.

Chapter 114: COVID Chronicles

July 30, 2020

By Karen

Day 141

Baking Bread & Trump’s Headed For a Fall

Before I get started, Tony sends his regards, relaxing by his favorite mess…

BTW, it’s day 13 and still no sign of the rubber band.

Now, to the kitchen: I don’t care much for the bread my borrowed bread machine puts out, which my parents LOVE, so I made Jacques Pépin’s quick and easy-peasy Soda Bread the other day. I know I made it once before and liked it.

The book it’s from, Essential Pépin, also has a PBS TV series I’m slowly working through. Writing this, I just discovered he makes this bread in episode 17, so I must jump ahead to see that. These are the only ingredients it requires…

You spend no time letting the dough rise because it’s never dough, but a pile of goo…

I think my first mistake was not mixing the milk into the dry ingredients fast enough, and probably stirring it too much.

I lowered the oven rack to accommodate the stainless steel bowl you put over the bread for the first 30 minutes of baking. The bread steams rather than rises because there’s no yeast in it. Warning: Removing the bowl releases steam that can easily scald you. Trust me. Here’s how the bread looked after the bowl came off…

The lowered oven rack was too hot to move, so I think the bread was too close to the heat and the bottom almost burned. I was also worried the parchment paper it was on would catch fire because it got crispy, too. The finished loaf looks decent enough…

It didn’t rise much, and I could have used a chainsaw to cut it, but once I did manage to break some off, it tasted good with butter.

My third mistake was putting the loaf in the fridge because I couldn’t really slice it thin for freezing. Now it’s like a paving stone. Tonight I may try to whack some off, soak it in egg, and make French toast. I think that’s my only hope to salvage it.

Meanwhile, COVID creeps ever closer to Trump. Dipshit Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert has it now, blames it on wearing a mask, and will treat himself with hydroxychloroquine. I wish he’d asked his witch-doctor for a Clorox enema.

Every time Trump wears a face mask, which must be disorienting, Trump flirts with face-planting on camera. He was in North Carolina the other day and fell backward (splayed hands to steady), then lurched into a jerky little bow before he could settle into his knuckle-dragging ape stance to balance…

When Trump inevitably does fall, he’ll blame the mask. Ninety-six more days before we vote and send that monster to hell, where he belongs.

THIS JUST IN: No sooner had I pressed “Publish” on this post than I came across the news that Trump’s BFF Herman Cain has died of COVID, after a month in the hospital, after have the last time of his life at Trump Tulsa rally. Wonder if Trump will skip Cain’s funeral the way he dissed Rep. John Lewis this week?

Chapter 91: COVID Chronicles

June 27, 2020

By Karen

Day 108

Now 3 Things We Can Count On: Taxes, Death & COVID

While COVID was ravaging New York and New Jersey, remember how Trump’s red states seemed smug and complacent, like it could never touch them? Republican governors across the South and Midwest rejected even the most basic precautions, such as masks and social distancing.

Now COVID is on their doorsteps and any idiot could have predicted the results.

Doctors and nurses doing videos in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas talk about how their hospitals are overwhelmed and people are dying horrible deaths with no end in sight. They’re like reruns of the videos out of New York that other states’ leaders laughed at.

Meanwhile, Trump and Pence refuse to set up the national response and testing we desperately need because they simply don’t care how many people die. I personally believe Trump pleasures himself every evening while looking at the rising numbers of sick and dead. To him, they’re ratings of his success as a dictator. Yes, he really is that sick.

That pair gloat over their nonexistent leadership and prance (at taxpayer expense) from one hot spot to the next like a couple of Typhoid Marys. It seems a matter of when, not if, they will both end up on ventilators — or worse, if we’re lucky. They must pay a price for preening in front of chanting mobs that undoubtedly include infected morons spewing virus. I’m counting the days.

The MAGA set thinks COVID is just one more reality whose existence they can deny. If they pretend it’s gone, it’s gone. But that’s not how viruses work.

I sincerely hope the European Union slams the door to all Americans — including Trump. Countries that did the right things shouldn’t let our potentially infected people anywhere near their citizens. They see Trump gleefully breeding a subset of Americans who will kill without mercy or remorse, with or without a gun. To that bunch (you can easily spot them by the masks they DON’T wear), nobody’s life matters, not even their own. Yes, they’re really that stupid.

My head was exploding as cases rose and yet states started relaxing restrictions and reopening, including Virginia, whose physician-Governor Northam KNEW better. Then the inevitable new wave of illness and death — especially in red states — was reported like nobody saw it coming.

Soon we’ll be seeing figures on the people who attended Trump rallies and ended up in the hospital fighting for their lives. I wonder if that will also be covered as some crazy new twist in the COVID story, or the disgusting inevitability of having an increasingly irrational monster in the White House who feeds on death. He must be stopped before November.

Chapter 68: COVID Chronicles

June 4, 2020

By Karen

Day 85

Egg Foo Yung for Breakfast & Robert E. Lee’s Going Down — AGAIN

Another sweltering day in the 90s. Roc and Tony are pissed I won’t open windows. Despite air conditioning and fans, this heat does funny things to cats. Max just gave me a scare.

You know how you get used to seeing a cat in his regular hangouts? Well, Roc was asleep in my office when I took my lunch dish down to the kitchen. Tony was in his living room perch by the window. But Max’s bed by the sliding door was empty. Max wasn’t on the kitchen table, either. Hmm…

Back upstairs, I double-checked the Man Cave. Empty. So, back downstairs. Max NEVER goes into my bedroom during the day, but I looked in anyway. No one on the the bed. Could he be under it? No. In my closet? No.

This is the last place I’d look because Max has NEVER been here before …

Under the TV. That little shag rug was a 1981 wedding present. After decades in the linen closet, now it’s a cat bed. The only one who ever goes there is Roc. Max is giving tit for tat to Roc for stealing the rocker.

Last night I finally got my China Taste takeout. Boneless spareribs, hot and spicy beef, hot and sour soup, and chicken egg foo yung. I’ll be living large on Chinese into next week.

China Taste is tiny. It had three bare-bones tables, a walk-up counter, and the kitchen. Now you can’t go past the front door. They’ve gone contactless.

The new door is plexiglass on top with a ledge and a little sliding drawer for passing payment through. They place your food in a big pullout drawer in the bottom. The lady who rang me out put on a fresh glove first so she wouldn’t touch my credit card. We were both wearing masks. The only thing I touched was the pen chained to the ledge to sign my slip and the pullout drawer handle. I was impressed.

So I started today with egg foo yung. It’s an omelet. With gravy. And rice. The breakfast of champions — because I didn’t have to cook it.

Governor Northam is taking down the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue and putting it in storage until they figure out what to do with it. Lee is the only statue the state has clear title to…

Four other Confederate statues on Monument Avenue aren’t state-owned and remain in limbo — Gens. Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, Matthew Fontaine Maury (a naval officer I know zip about), and President Jefferson Davis.

I was born and educated up North, so I never got to marinate in the grudge some Southerners still nurse over losing the Civil War. I always thought erecting statues of losers was stupid, but watching for 48 years how Richmond simply could not, would not, let go of the Civil War, I get it. But it’s still sick.

Five years ago, after the Charleston church massacre, I advocated keeping the statues and banning the Confederate flag.

But now that Trump has made racism cool again, I agree it’s time for the statues to go to museums, where they can’t be any group’s centerpiece for hate.

I’m sorry Lee is going first. He was conflicted about fighting against the Union, so I’ll give him that. However, since he ultimately put misplaced loyalty to the South above his U.S. citizenship, he does deserve a downgrade.

Jefferson Davis is the one I can’t stand. A chicken-fried wannabe Lincoln, that incompetent prick was a Trump-like coward who abandoned Richmond when the Yankees showed up. He was found hiding in Danville. So Richmond proudly erected this huge statue to honor such a small, small man…

Today, if our military seriously pushes back on Trump’s intention to make it his personal guard who will keep him in the White House for life, it wouldn’t surprise me if  Trump lams out of D.C. to escape indictment and arrest as Biden is sworn in next January. The question is, who would take him?

Chapter 67: COVID Chronicles

June 3, 2020

By Karen

Day 84

Trump’s End One Day Closer & Women’s Ugly Pants

The tree guys next door didn’t leave until nearly 7 p.m. One large tree between our houses is gone. Now I have a clear view into their kitchen and my car’s rear end gets sun all day. I think at least one other tree came down on the other side, and maybe one in back. Their backyard’s still such a shithole, it’s hard to tell.

I was surprised by the cats’ sang-froid during the tree massacre. Max stayed downstairs, and the chainsaws didn’t cut into Roc and Tony’s nap time. It’s disturbing that they’ve become that used to the sound of deforestation.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t do transcription because of the noise, and I wanted to scream and punch somebody every time the house shook as a trunk hit the ground.

Today’s in the mid-90s. Our cold, rainy spring is over — and I completely missed it. I’m glad I opened the windows while I could. It may be a long time before the kitties get a good breeze on their whiskers again.

Richmonders are still protesting, but more peacefully. I was glad tens of thousands of protesters across the country, particularly in D.C., defied curfews last night. Trump’s “total domination” threats — on top of killing 107,000 people with COVID — may have FINALLY gone too far.

Governor Ralph Northam refused to send Virginia National Guard troops to D.C. to help Trump swing his dick around.

Commentator Rachel Maddow thinks Trump summoned National Guard to D.C. from all over the country because D.C. is a district with no governor. By law, he can only send active troops into a state if its governor requests them. His threat Monday to override “weak” governors is pure bullshit.

It’s one thing for Trump to strut around pretending he’s supreme leader of some banana republic, but entirely something else for him to line American streets with armed troops under orders to shoot and gas civilians “as needed.”

Our 2nd Amendment reads:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It would be fitting to see Trump’s love of the 2nd Amendment backfire on him spectacularly. His supporters are supposed to bear arms to “secure a FREE State,” not to help a dictator impose martial law and revoke all their other freedoms.

If the MAGA morons ever manage to connect the dots, they could turn out in force — shooting AT Trump, not FOR Trump.

Yesterday, good old conservative Iowa may have fired a shot across Trump’s bow. Their nine-term misogynist, racist, Trump-enabling congressional representative, Steve King, LOST his primary election. They may still give another Republican his seat in November, but at least King is done. One GOP toady down.

To end on a fashion note, here’s a dumb photo from Monday of Trump with some henchmen and his latest bimbo spokesperson, Kayleigh McEnany…

Are her cropped pants the epitome of fugly or what? Cropped pants are as heinous as capris. Neither style flatters ANY woman. OK, one. Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, wearing cropped skinny pants and flats. But Audrey would look gorgeous in a grocery bag…

Next to men in suits and sensible shoes, Kayleigh in cutesy cutoffs with her ankles hanging out and heels not made for streetwear reveal her as another inept blonde ditz aspiring to be Ivanka’s Mini-Me.

Try to imagine Hillary or Angela Merkel in such a feckless getup. You can’t. They wouldn’t be caught dead.

Chapter 66: COVID Chronicles

June 2, 2020

By Karen

Day 83

Trees Dropping Like Flies & Ashamed to Be an American

Whenever Roc decides none of the 589 cat beds in this house cut it, he goes into my bathroom and makes his own bed by yanking down MY towel…

And Tony says “Howdy!” from his kitty favorite perch…

My street is full of trucks today because a crew next door is doing more bad things to trees. And now I just noticed a huge dead limb on one of my trees hanging over my Saturn. Yikes!

Next door is a rental house. Several years ago a huge tree uprooted in their backyard during a storm, smashing their fence and a neighbor’s fence, and the landlord ignored it. The neighbors immediately removed their portion of the tree and repaired their fence, but the rest rots on the ground next door like a termite paradise and this tree crew isn’t touching it.

Whatever these tree guys are doing, they’ve been at it since early this morning. They could have learned something from the guys who took down that major tree across the street last week in about an hour.

Richmond had more protests last night. After Trump gave his little speech to make things worse, Richmond police shot tear gas at one peaceful gathering before the 8 p.m. curfew. The mayor of Richmond is apologizing today in front of City Hall before a crowd of several thousand, by the looks of it.

Last night Trump, obviously emboldened by his success at passive-aggressively killing 105,000 Americans with COVID, launched his most direct physical assault on us yet by using mounted police, flash bangs and tear gas to disperse protesters near the White House.

Then he strutted out to the Rose Garden and issued threats, vowing to turn the U.S. military on Americans across the country and “dominate” anyone who dares to protest his regime.

Here’s a complete transcript of a phone call Trump had earlier with the country’s governors, preaching his new catchphrase, “Total Domination,” since his “Transition to Greatness” was a dud. It’s long, but read some of Trump’s part to see how bat-shit incapable of coherent thought he is. Here’s just one bite…

“I saw what happened in Dallas where they kicked a guy to death. I don’t know if he died or not but if he didn’t, it’s a miracle, what they did to him, they were kicking him like I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”

As if all this weren’t bad enough, after his Rose Garden babble, he walked across the street where protesters had just been run off by horses to stand in front an historic church like an idiot, holding up some random (by Trump’s own admission) bible…

It was a pointless spectacle, but gave him a rationale for attacking citizens who were lawfully in his path.

To end on a positive note, I just learned that my favorite nearby takeout, China Taste, has reopened. They seemed to be doing great business, but shut down in mid-March when Trump started ranting about “China virus.” I’m so glad they’re back. Maybe Chinese for dinner tonight?

Oh, god, the house keeping shaking with loud booms from next door. I’m afraid to look.


Chapter 58: COVID Chronicles

May 25, 2020

By Karen

Day 75

Two Duds & A Gem

I love musicals, so last night I finally got around to the 2012 movie of Les Misérables with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway…

To its credit, I’ll say it’s aptly named.

I knew it would be heavy, but… Oh. My. God. The filth, the poverty, the cruelty, the singing. It didn’t let up for ONE SECOND. To steal a line from Anthony Lane’s review at The New Yorker, “I screamed a scream as time went by.”

The acting was excellent; even the nonmusical actors managed to sing the tuneless dialogue. Now I know why so little of that score became popular — it’s specific to a very dragged out, convoluted story. “24601” would be mistaken for a zip code today.

Hoping to cut to the chase, I looked up Victor Hugo’s book. Did you know it was 655,478 words in the original French divided into 48 books, 365 chapters spanning 2,783 pages, with 955 pages Hugo’s philosophical digressions? That explained a lot.

When Cosette grew into Amanda Seyfried and started making goo-goo eyes at Eddie Redmayne, I’d seen enough. Life’s too short.

But staying in 19th century France, up next was Madame Bovary starring Mia Wasikowska…

Bizarrely, the throwaway part of Emma’s maid was played by Laura Carmichael who, in 2014 when this was made, was famous as Lady Edith on Downton Abbey Season 5. What the hell were they thinking with that casting? Carmichael did her screen test on DA playing bored and love-starved, then desperate to hide her deceit and bad judgment — yet she was the MAID who barely had two lines? WTF?

Wasikowska was a shallow and childish Emma, and she had ZERO chemistry with her lovers, even when she flashed boob.

I read Flaubert’s book in my teens and saw the 1949 version with Jennifer Jones and Louis Jourdan. Who wouldn’t fall madly for Louis Jourdan? But by the end of this remake, my sympathy was with Emma’s cheated-on, bankrupted husband (who was too young and good-looking for the part) and it was a relief when she drank poison.

My last show was the Irving Berlin musical Holiday Inn on PBS’ Great Performances…

There’s no dirt at Holiday Inn, no misery or oppression, no abused prostitutes or orphans. Just happy people in beautiful costumes tap-dancing and singing one glorious Irving Berlin showstopper after another. I think this one kept me from having nightmares last night.

And now on the cat beat, I finally caught Max on film taking the scenic route from the Man Cave to the living room. It usually happens in seconds — three leaps — boom, boom, boom. But when he saw my phone, he got four cold feet. (The magazine hanging from the bookcase is a claw protector)…

BONUS: “Simon’s Cat” has been around for years, but I just found this compilation of “Daily Routines” in his “Stay Home Collection.” I swear my cats have pulled 95% of these stunts on me. Every time I see these bits, I laugh. Just picture Roc as Simon and Tony as his kitten partner in crime…

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 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?”

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