Dr. Scout

I have been under the weather for the last week.

When I googled my symptoms and their progression, it was clear that it could be anything from Covid to your run-of-the-mill bug. I’m still exhausted and my body aches. These last few years have taught me the importance of listening to my body and it was begging for rest. So I have spent most of the last week either lying down or wishing that I could lie down.

When I was a kid, my mother would let me hang out on the couch when I was sick and I have long followed this tradition as an adult. This time was different. I craved darkness and the comfort of my soft bed with its warm, heavy blankets. Consequently, each day after work, I commuted from the living room to the bedroom, changed into warm jammies and stayed there for the remainder of the day and night.

Scout was thoroughly confused.

On a normal day, I’m up and moving a lot. At best, I sit in my chair and read or work at my desk but am still upright.  I was horizontal about sixteen hours a day for several days in a row and he wasn’t sure what to think.

I didn’t really notice him for the first day or two. Then I looked up one evening and he was sitting on the bathroom counter, peering through the open door and studying me. We made eye contact and he started chattering so I tried to convince him to join me in bed.

Instead, he jumped down from the counter and trotted into the room where he stood next to the bed, complaining loudly before putting his paws up on the mattress to look up at me questioningly. Pretty soon, he hopped down, walked to his armchair and commenced scratching at the side. I yelled at him to stop but he continued while maintaining eye contact. I started to get up and, when my feet hit the floor, he stopped scratching and came toward me.

The expression on his face said “Good. Now that you’re up, let’s go.”

I laid down again and he resumed his scratching. I yelled, he ignored, I got up, and he stopped.

Some variation of this exhausting routine was repeated multiple times last week as he tried to coax me back into the living world. Occasionally he would shake things up by nipping at my feet. Mostly, though, he stayed close and napped with me. Periodically, he would administer a dose of his best medicine – he would curl up around my neck and purr.

Anyone who thinks that animals don’t feel and comprehend is badly misinformed. Anyone who thinks cats are aloof and uncaring has clearly not had a healthy relationship with a cat. It’s true that cats are independent and self sufficient. They don’t need your praise and they don’t require constant attention. But they are delightful little characters who look out for their humans, who are capable of communication if you know how to interpret it, and happy to receive attention on their terms.

My friend Nichola says that cats and toddlers are a lot alike – full of personality and energy but with a limited yet effective vocabulary.

Perhaps it’s because I brought him up from a kitten and have always talked to him like he is a little person that he follows me around better than most dogs would. Honestly, if I ever lose him in the house all I have to do is go to the bathroom and he’s right there. If he doesn’t show up, that usually means I shut him in the closet. The first time this happened, I walked into the bedroom to find two little outstretched paws peeking out from under the door.

It was both hilarious and sad. I felt a little guilty too.

He enjoys being toted around the house. We play toys. He waits for me at the door when I come home. He’s happiest when we’re together and he worries when I leave or when I’m not well.

Last week was miserable. I won’t lie. And honestly, I was a little annoyed at the scratching of the chair thing but his concern for my well being was touching. That sweet little cat did his darndest to help me and he did a nice job. Just call him Dr. Scout!


Perspective In Photography and Life

Lake Alma better

The sun finally found its way to my corner of the world yesterday. Since there’s more rain in the forecast, I jumped at the opportunity to go for a walk at a local state park. It was early and cold. A handful of cars drove through and I encountered just a few like minded people looking for a stretch of the legs and some fresh air. We very politely smiled as we veered away from one another.

It was a gorgeous day and the only noise came from an abundance of birds and a lone dog barking in the distance. With each step and each breath of fresh air I could feel my shoulders relaxing and breathing become calmer. I hold my breath a lot, especially when stressed, so it was refreshing to feel pure morning air fill my lungs.

The above picture was taken from one angle at the park. The picture isn’t great but notice how blue the sky is?

This next one was made just a quarter mile away and facing a different direction. The light is harsh and the colors not nearly so nice.

Lake alma bad 3-20

It was the same park and same day – just a different perspective. This is your friendly Monday morning reminder that your perspective can make or ruin your picture as well as your day.

Yesterday afternoon, our Governor announced fresh orders from the Ohio Department of Health that are meant to keep people at home. Some states are calling it “shelter in place” while our state is calling it “stay at home.”

No one really wants to do this. In fact, it seems a little surreal.

College students sunning themselves on the beach can’t understand what the big deal is about because we all know that youth is invincible and they’re sure they won’t get sick and die. That’s their perspective.

Their grandparents likely have been staying home for a while and hoping they haven’t already been exposed to the virus or anything else that would make them susceptible to illness at this time. That’s their perspective.

Some middle aged strangers I overheard commiserating at the grocery store are upset that the government would dare take away their freedom to eat in a restaurant just because a few hundred people are sick. That’s their perspective.

Now here is mine.

This is a new virus that our bodies are not prepared to combat. It travels quietly and quickly. And while it’s most dangerous to people with other conditions and to people of a certain age, it will not discriminate if it finds its way to you. It does not care if you are talented and famous, rich or poor, a good person or not.

We all are at risk of either getting sick or carrying germs to people we care about.

I will be the first person to tell you that I’m tired and want my life to go back to normal. I want to sit in a theater and watch a movie, listen to live music in a crowded place, and hop in a car to visit a museum or bookstore. I want a haircut.

But it isn’t worth the risk. 

Sometimes  I wonder if the naysayers were given a card with the name of someone they care about and told that if they don’t take this seriously, their person could die or at least be very sick and carry with them lifelong damage to their bodies. Would that matter to the kids on the beach or the complainers in the store?

It’s not forever, friends. It’s for a while. Just keep telling yourself that and we’ll get through this.

And speaking of getting through, when you do venture out to a store or to your bank or to pick up your lunch, try to be a little extra nice to those people who have no choice but to be out there working. We rely on healthcare workers, the farmers and factory workers who make sure we’re all fed, the truckers moving stuff around, as well as the cashiers and stock people who are pushing merchandise through their stores. These are all people who cannot join the work from home brigade because their jobs don’t allow it.

At the very least, show them a little extra patience and remember that some heroes don’t wear capes. They wear scrubs, work boots, and name tags. If you see a trucker somewhere, ask if they’re hungry and offer to get them food. Those big rigs don’t fit through a drive-thru lane and most fast foods places don’t take walk-ups. We need them to be fed and well to keep things moving.

Wherever you are, stay safe and well, my friends. It’s just for a while.



Problems And Fresh Perspective

This week has been challenging. I’m tired and haven’t felt well since getting a flu shot. Everyone needs something. Lots of people are picking at each other. Things just aren’t going well and obstacles have been the norm rather than the exception to the rule.

The key phrase yesterday was “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

A full blown tantrum has been on the horizon for several days.

But a work errand sent me to Columbus yesterday where I drove past Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House. There was a woman wrangling two small children outside Ronald McDonald House and it occurred to me there are people out there with real, life threatening problems.

So I took a big breath of fresh air and decided it best to appreciate the good in my problems. That’s not to say they aren’t real but my issues right now would fall into a category that should be marked “Headaches” rather than “Day-Shattering-Tantrum-Inducing-Crises.”

I’m busy because people need me and because I have a job. That flu shot was covered by my health insurance and may keep me healthy later. Those obstacles that keep screwing up my schedule? That could all be a plot by the universe to keep me alive for another day. If an accident happens in the blink of an eye, all these delays could be preventing something terrible from making matters worse.

Sometimes you just have to pause a moment and reframe things. A good gulp of fresh air and a new perspective never hurt anyone.

Let’s see what hurdles this day holds, shall we?