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!


Adjusting Expectations

Today’s theme is adjusting expectations.

Since the first of the year, I have been living very quietly and enjoying this time of a No Spend Challenge which has allowed for more self care, planning, reading and lots of other activities at home. I’ve been saving money for this year’s adventures too.

Lunchtime walks, upcoming events and the promise of travel have given me something to look forward to. Plans include one of my favorite old(er) movies on the big screen, a weekend trip away, an author talk, and a concert.

And then this little global pandemic hit, containing me to home at least for a while longer. While the last couple of months have been centered on voluntary self seclusion, I’m not thrilled about the involuntary kind.

In fact, I’m downright irritated that my adventure season isn’t starting this week as planned and am already concerned that my summer trip won’t happen either.

That’s why it is time to adjust expectations.

Here in Ohio, the governor has closed schools and banned gatherings of a hundred or more. Limitations have been placed on restaurants too. Churches are cancelled or holding services online. Communities like mine are scrambling to provide lunches to low income kids, and many working parents have no clue what they’ll do with their kids for the next few weeks. Lines are long in stores and people are clearing shelves of everything from toilet paper and medicines to ramen noodles and pizza rolls.

The messaging surrounding this virus has been unclear. We’ve been told to wash our hands and to be smart about germs while we’re watching Italy and China shut down entire cities. No one knows what the future holds but, from what I’m seeing, there’s potential for a lot of bad to find it’s way to this country before it gets better.

From what I’ve seen of my Facebook friends, people seem to be continuing life as usual when it comes to recreation and fun. We’ve closed schools but parents continue to drag their kids to the store, to the movies, out to eat, and basically anywhere else they wish to go because they don’t want to be stuck at home.

When I started my January No Spend Month, I jotted down a list of things to that didn’t involve spending money and most of them were things I could do at home. For me, that list included household projects like organizing kitchen cabinets and weeding my clothes closet. I had a list of recipes to try and a list of fun things too! Taking my camera for a walk, puzzles, movies, books, playing the piano, and long bubble baths are just a few things on that list.

This is a great time to spring clean and to freshen up your house by rearranging things you already own. If you have kids, give them art supplies and ask them to make cards for residents of nursing homes and hospitals who aren’t getting any visitors right now. That should entertain them for a few minutes anyway!

And remember, you’re still able to go outside. I’m making a mental list of work that needs to be done in my yard and there’s a shed that needs cleaned out and torn down.

Yesterday, I experimented in the kitchen, making up my own potato soup recipe, tried making tomato jam, roasted broccoli, chopped up some salad veggies and made a few biscuits. I read, did some laundry, began researching cruelty free companies (this has been in the list for a while), strategized for the week, and watched a little tv.

Exciting? Hardly. But I was busy, productive and completely disconnected from the mass hysteria that has caused so many people to lose their minds. 

It was a good day.

So I am going to dig in and devote this time to getting some stuff done and getting back to basics. If nothing else, I’ll be well read and rested by the time this madness is over.

I have an inner old lady who survived the Great Depression who believes in the Depression era mantra – “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” She sits in the back of mind every day but I’m hoping that I don’t need her services more than I already use her.

Look at the bright side – we may find some wonderful new hobbies, authors, recipes, family traditions and habits! Meanwhile, stay calm, avoid people when you can, and wash your hands. This too shall pass.

And one more thing – our communities are filled with people who are older, who have mobility issues or who have weakened immune systems. If you’re healthy and able and going to be out anyway, offer to run some errands for them. They might really appreciate the helping hand!

Have a good day, friends. It’s all going to be ok.