Some good stuff

It is hard to ignore all our global crises, from the pandemic to catastrophic weather, but laughter truly is a medicine.  My psychiatrist Zoomed me last week and I made him laugh out loud.  He suggested I try a stand-up comedy evening and generally gave me a gold star for trying hard to keep the blues away.  The next day, I felt low and overwhelmed but just watched one of my favorite Youtube comics.  The First Minister in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has been giving daily briefings to Scotland on Covid-19.  Unlike ours in the US, her briefings are succinct, sensible and more importantly CORRECT!!  A Scottish comedian, Janey Godley, does a voiceover of the briefings in a strong Glaswegian dialect.  They make me howl with laughter because they are so familiar.  I doubt that many of my readers could understand her so I have put a translation underneath.  The First Minister approves of the voiceovers because Janey Godley keeps the real message intact within the comedy.  WARNING!! There are a couple of F bombs in it (common parlance in Glasgow) but the other video below is more gentle and doesn’t need translation.  Just one wee eff at the end…

Right here’s the official word and I will tell you (for) why.  All the Sandras, big Jeanette, all the Pippa Dees (Tupperware like parties?) have all been cancelled.  Nobody is going to Torremolinos (Jersey Shore style Spanish resort).  We are all just chatting on the Snapchat Group.  Stop going out.  Stop meeting your friends.  Stop going to the park and gathering together.

A Bunch of effing Idiots.

You have all been told.

Everybody is going to die if you keeping going about and going home with a virus on you.  So, I’ve told you once and I’m not going to tell you again.

This the Official Line –

If I see any of you out there, I am going to take a run and put my toe up the crack of your bottom.  So stop it.  Stay in the house, wash your hands and keep your families safe.  Effing snapchat your friends.  I will be speaking to Big Teresa later.  All of you; use your phone and STOP IT!

If you browse Youtube you can see the real briefings – that have no F bombs and are less fun!  I know that we all need a wee massage at the moment so I hope you enjoy the virtual cat one below.  I think you will understand this but let me know if you need a translation.  Happy Weekend, Wash your Hands, Keep your Distance, Wear your Bloody Mask and Keep Safe.  Most of all, keep laughing.

It’s the little things…

Can you see me?

This year has been one where we have had to be introspective and appreciate the little things.  It’s a small silver lining given the tragedy of Covid-19 but perhaps it will give us new coping skills for the future.  Teddy and I used to go out to lunch at least once a week.  We knew all the wait staff and enjoyed the banter along with the food.  It was my only reason to get dressed up as I wore a uniform, of sorts, at work.  Like most of us I have cleared out the closets but the pretty dresses flutter sadly in the closet.  Recently I bought two new nightdresses because that’s what I wear most.  On the plus side, I found nightdresses with pockets – wow!

Teddy was pushed to his limit last week when Hurricane Laura blew through.  It missed the large centers of population but it tore down large parts of our electricity grid to our east.  The next day the power went out unexpectedly for about 8 hours.  That seems perfectly reasonable to me but it was 100 degrees outside and 84 degrees in the house.  Teddy had to stop work and paced the house like a tiger.  He tested the generator (it works), he hunted for batteries and torches (which are all in the hurricane box which Kerry packs each year) and generally drove me crazy.  After many hours, I shouted at him, gave him a beer and told him to sit his ass down.  To his horror I said, “Look at the flowers” which is a line from Walking Dead before one of the characters was dispatched.  I reassured him that it was a Freudian slip…  Then nature sent us a little precious moment to calm him down.  Two little squirrel siblings who had been running crazy along the fences and trees, suddenly stopped and started grooming each other.  They snuggled and licked each other and our hearts melted.

I’m coming down for the snacks. Muchas Gracias, Senora!!

Like everyone else, our vacation plans have disappeared.  We had planned something special for my 60th birthday/38th anniversary in July but instead I made Teddy his favorite meal.  He loves potato gratin – so simple but I rarely make it.  For dessert I made him something he had been hankering over for 30+ years.  Many years ago I made a very decadent Pashka (Russian Easter cake) for a dinner party that we were hosting.  I searched the internet for a slightly lighter version of my original recipe and then altered it a little.  The main ingredients are butter, sugar, toasted almonds, crystallized ginger and vanilla.  Teddy was so excited!!!  I think it might have been the nicest anniversary meal we have ever had.  Our expectations were low and I was not stressed.

Potato Gratin

Pashka

Then there are the lizards.  As you know, we have been without pets for over a year now.  We rarely sat out in our back yard because Toffee was sadly sitting inside but now we can happily sit in our rockers looking at nature.  We noticed that spotted Anoles would come running when we came out.  Perhaps it was coincidence but now we have them named. Lorenzo has a regrown tail and Leo likes to sit on the prow of the deck.  When we call them, they run out from under the deck and start displaying in front of us.  Sometimes it is little handstands or head nods but if we are lucky they show us their red dewlap.  They let us go within an inch of them to admire their chameleon coloring.  We have one sweet little green Anole, Gerry, who is a native Texan.  The spotted Anoles are invasive from Cuba and they are feisty.  I Googled “snacks for lizards’ and they like live crickets and meal worms. They will have to eat what’s in the backyard…

velvet ant

Covid-19 has made me less obsessive about the usual bugs and germs.  Teddy dispatched a giant tree roach in the house and I didn’t bat an eyelid or get out the bleach.  We are in semi-drought here so insects are coming in, looking for water.  In the middle of the night, I went sleepily to the bathroom.  Through drowsy eyes, I saw what looked like a scorpion walking in while I was trapped on the toilet.  It was big, brown and not a cockroach.  Ruthlessly, I took a magazine and squashed it.  Later, I discovered that it was a mole cricket and I have been grieving ever since.  It was a harmless wee thing and I wish I had taken it out to the garden.

Mole Cricket with a curious pup, courtesy of Pixabay

Another day the lizards were agitated and when we investigated, they were chasing a velvet ant away from their babies – beautiful creature but with a deadly sting.  Red throated hummingbirds have visited the Mexican Fire Bush en route back to Latin America.  Finally, there are the babies. We have two nests of red tailed hawks behind our house. The baby hawks screech, “Mom, I need a mouse!”, then the Blue Jays start squawking and lastly the squirrels bark.  What a racket!

Just before this capture of a blue jay, he had been screeching that the water was dirty… Just as well they are beautiful.

I think this is a mixed marriage…like Teddy and I.

A History of Horrid Haircuts

Modern Mullet?

After months of quarantine and despite a decision to grow my hair longer, I finally ventured out to a hairdresser.  In my head I constructed a complicated algorithm of risk versus reward and was fed up with looking scary in the mirror, especially in the morning when I look like a Who from Whoville.  I wanted layers to tame my hedge thick hair but didn’t want all the length off.  I searched Google and discovered a Modern Mullet, a little less frumpy than a Shag (which is quickie sex in the UK but a hairstyle in the US).  Somehow I thought that, with some fairy magic, I could be transformed into mirror images of Scarlett Johanssonn or Miley Cyrus, both of whom experimented with a Modern Mullet.  I didn’t take into account that my hair is the wrong texture and I am 60 years old.  Maybe they regretted it too?

Pyramid hair in Giza 2003!

Halfway through, I could see this was going to be a disaster and remembered a similar sinking feeling in Cairo when I went to the local hairdresser in 2003.  Her special skill was making my frizzy hair look like a pyramid.  The title of this blog tells you everything about my hair.  This time in our 2020 crazy world, I drove straight home, dropped my clothes in the washer before running naked into the shower, futilely trying to wash away any virus, dodgy haircut and lack of good judgment .  My hair looked a little better with the product washed out but it still looked like a bad 70’s mullet – all business at the front; party at the back.  Teddy’s face was a picture…  I managed not to cry because it’s just a bloody haircut and of no importance in a ‘these difficult times’.  Later, I howled with laughter about my predicament and regaled Teddy with the tales of bad haircuts – some of which he was there for.

The Scottish Pyramid style 1990s??

The first bad haircut that I recall was in the mid 70’s when my friend and I decided on a whim (bad idea) to go to the local hairdresser for a cheap trim.  My hair was already short and layered but I came out looking like someone from an internment camp with lice.  My friend’s bangs/fringe was cut at a sharp diagonal, almost as though she had stolen a protractor from our school bags.  Oh, how we laughed…  It was even more hysterical because misery loves company.  Think of how much worse it would have been if one haircut was good??  At a later date, I colored the hair of the long suffering friend.  It was supposed to be Blonde but it was really Ginger.  You would think I have learned a lesson but I did the same to an American friend a few years ago.  I bet you don’t have friends who are that trusting???

The second really bad cut was in our local town in Aberdeenshire (always go to the big city salon).  Astonishingly, she was trained at the same place as the Egyptian hairdresser and this time I had a slightly shorter but just as wide pyramid with fringe/bangs.  The third disaster, a few years later, was a good cut, at least.  My hairdresser had some new product that enabled her to blow dry my hair into glorious straight locks – I was so delighted!  It was smirring (light rain) in Aberdeen and as we walked out into the night my hair transformed.  Ringlets appeared one by one until my head was covered in a riot of curls – more than usual.  Teddy was with me and was fascinated by the alchemy of my hair.  We laughed then, too…

My hair has always been a family problem.  Nana and my mum battled with my hair for years.  I even had a special treatment called ‘Toddle locks’ that helped tease out the knots.  They weren’t used to my alien, thick, coarse Hispanic hair.  When I was 13 years old my mum admitted defeat said “Brush it yourself!”  I did brush it but ignored the matting birds nest underneath.  Finally she discovered it and marched me off to the nearest hairdresser.  They spent hours painfully combing out the mat and had to cut some of it out.  I was so ashamed that I think that is the first time I have told that story.  She let me cut it short after that…

To be honest, I thought I was beyond bad haircuts at my venerable age but apparently you are never too old to look like an ass.  I am going to wear my Mullet like a hair shirt and contemplate my vanity.  Thank goodness for baseball caps…

PS – In case you are wondering, there is no perm involved – that is my natural hair texture.  More of an entity, really.

Necropolis

It looks like such a peaceful scene, doesn’t it? Teddy and I have used our deck more often, since the pandemic, than we have in 16 years.  The trees in the reserve have grown so much that we get nice shade cover in the afternoon.  A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a ‘farmyard’ smell but we live many miles from farms in our forested idyll.  At first I wondered if someone had put down some stinky mulch or fertilizer but it is entirely the wrong time of year and it has been 100 degrees out there.

We had a few breezy days and Teddy agreed with me that he could smell a faint odor on the air but perhaps it was the communal garbage bins at the apartments beyond the reserve?  After another couple of days, I asked him if I should do a ‘Karen’ and complain to the apartment manager.  Teddy, very wisely, suggested that we just leave it since it was almost 100 degrees and maybe the bins needed emptied.  (We have never smelled their garbage bins in the last 16 years).

The next day, I started looking under the deck but could see nothing but dead leaves but there was still this strange odor that now Teddy (probably post Covid-19) could not smell at all.  Then he started saying things like, “You know what you are like when you get obsessed about stuff…”  To be fair, I agreed with him but we had paid hundreds of dollars two years ago to remove a huge dead skunk which had been ripped to pieces by another predator from under the same bloody deck.  This new odor was delicate by comparison.

One evening we put out the night camera to see if there was an obvious culprit with a smelly nest?  They were just the usual subjects – squirrels, possums, wood rats and two gorgeously marked little skunks (alive and well).  On a forensic note, we had spotted some very pretty little iridescent flies around the deck, glowing purple and green.  We never have flies in our yard…only endless mosquitoes that have tested positive for West Nile Disease in our forest this year.  At this stage, I should note that I am an aficionado of every Forensic program, real and fiction.  Decomp and adipose are terms that I am very familiar with.

With that thought in my head, I finally snapped and said to Teddy, “We need to call pest control out”.  He looked at me as though I hadn’t been taking my medication.  We compromised on him unscrewing some of the deck planks so that I could root around like Bones.  The drill had no battery power as it hadn’t been used for a while.  In desperation, I put a blanket on the ground and got my rake under the deck and started pulling stuff out.  When a cloud of these pretty iridescent flies flew out at me, I knew I had found the evidence.  Finally I brought out a little gray furry thing and even more of the dratted flies.  I stood up and ran off squealing but then put my big girl pants on and returned with gloves, bags and disinfectant.

It was a poor little squirrel, who had left this mortal coil and decided our deck would be a lovely resting place.  I shouted to Teddy that I had found the victim but he chose to carry on working since he didn’t want to confront his wife who said, “SEE, SEE, I told you it was a critter!”  The decomposition flies were now yukky, not pretty, and I had to shake the corpse to get the damned things off.  Another friend had just told me this lovely story of rescuing a dying baby bird from their pool, putting it in a leaf lined box and then burying it in their garden with a cairn for remembrance.  Our squirrel went in the wheelie bin.

After all that, in almost 100 degree weather, I went all OCD (that’s a clinical term).  Hose, disinfectant, bleach and then I did the same for me.  All my clothes went in the washer immediately.  It struck me as ironic that there is a virus out there that is so much more dangerous than any dead squirrel.  The garden is serene again, smelling verdant and I am so glad I didn’t speak to the apartment manager…

Pest Control moved in…

This tiny little bug is commonly known as a junk bug or aphid lion – ain’t she cute? Teddy was admiring our fire bush when he saw this wee pile of debris moving.  If you click on the red link to junk bug you can read a hilarious article about this ‘voracious predator’ – it is about the size of the half-moon on your pinkie.  She is a gardener’s friend; the debris on her back is the remains of aphids and other plant eaters (her victims…).  This little dusty bundle is her larval stage and she blossoms into one of my favorite insects, the delicate green lacewing.

Henrik Mackevicius, Pixabay

Teddy and I get so excited when we discover a new animal in the garden no matter how small.  Below is Leo (DiCaprio), one of our many spotted Anoles.  He loves to sit at the prow of the deck and display his bright red throat flap to attract a mate.  There is so much lizard sex going on in our back yard that we should rename it Studio 54.  There are tiny babies, pregnant moms and horny teenagers (none of them are social distancing).

A few weeks ago I found what looked like bird poop in the garage and I was curious.  It was unlikely that a bird had gotten into the garage which is usually closed and then I saw another poop on the front porch.

The black section is full insect bits and the white part is uric acid (pee)

As I was taking in the groceries, through the garage, this week I spotted a small cockroach struggling in a spider web.  Briefly, I wondered whether I should put it out of its misery but when I went back for the rest of the groceries the roach had gone.  Then I spotted her – we have a five striped Skink living in the wall of the garage.  Woo hoo!  She is now called Skinky because I have no imagination.  They eat cockroaches – what more do you need?  My neighbor has one on her front porch and after I told her how useful they are in our bug ridden swamp, she named her Skink, Tiger.

Jan Haerer, Pixabay

Can you tell that the pandemic quarantine is beginning to wear on us?  My psychiatrist forgot to put in my regular refill for Xanax, WTF!  I panicked briefly then I put my big girl pants on and am back in a Breaking Bad situation with a drawer full of meds.  My friend was laughing at Teddy and me when I shared with her that I refused to share my prescription-only painkillers with him.  She felt that it was a perfect senior couple moment – she’s right!

 

Kerry Miranda

Can you believe this guy is a professional photographer?  WTH – I have a plant growing out of my head.  It is hard to imagine but there was a life before the Pandemic hit.  Every year Houston hosts the largest Rodeo in the world, natch.  As much as I would love to visit, there are just too many people in one place.  This year we decided to go to our nearest town, Tomball, where the Sam Houston Trail Riders arrive by horses and wagons from Plantersville for a reception/meal/bunk.  It was cold but gloriously bright (which is maybe why Teddy couldn’t see the plant), so we arrived early in great anticipation.  The location was around the old railway station so we had a look inside, for the first time in 16 years.  Why do we always ignore the history right beside us?

Which one is real?

My husband looks like a real cowboy – until he opens his mouth…  It has been a long time since there was a working station office at Teague or Tomball but there is still a working commercial railroad.  I was 20 minutes late for a dental appointment when I had to wait patiently on the other side of the line.  We met a charming docent who told us all about the train museum.  He was fascinated by our Scottish accents and had another regular Scottish visitor who comes to the museum when he sees family in Texas.  The world is full of train geeks.

Kerry got friendly with the station master…

Halfway through the rodeo, we got news that the Pandemic had reached us and for the first time in the Houston Rodeo’s history it was cancelled.  One of the first patients in our county had visited the Rodeo but had not traveled anywhere else.  After a month in our local hospital, he finally recovered and got to go home.  It was touch and go but he was one of the lucky ones.  More posts about the trail ride to come.

 

From negativity to positivity

As my Nana would say, “You can almost see her breakfast…” Thank goodness for skorts on windy days.

This is my second draft of a post because the first was a tirade about the Dystopian nightmare that I feel I am living in.  I keep looking up to the skies for a plague of locusts or frogs to accompany the Pandemic and violence.  Ultimately, I decided that there was no point in adding my angry comments and opinion to the melee.  Instead I retreated to my containment pond where the water is full of ducklings from both the Muscovy and Whistling Ducks.

Muscovy Mama with her head in the pond and gorgeous ducklings (eight are still with us)

I have been sitting on the edge of the culvert, frightening the green heron because I walk so softly and delighting in nature.  The dragonflies, of every hue, come close to me and land on my head.  Teddy has counted over 30 species of dragonfly in that pond alone.  We watched their very active mating and then saw a female dip her tail, with the fertilized eggs in the pond.  By August, it feels like you are in fairyland with a rainbow of dragonflies fluttering around you.  They stick close to humans to catch the mosquitoes that bite us.

So far in 2020, Teddy has rescued a really large Turtle who was stranded upside down and yesterday I found a tiny little one, about 2 inches across, who was dropped by a predator in the grass.  I lifted him up and we were able to take a close look at his cute little face.  He was hot and bothered so I delicately popped him in the pond and off he swam having lost one of his nine lives (or whatever turtles have).  Today I stopped on the path as Mama Muscovy and her eight big babies walked up the bank and onto the grass for shade.  Mama kept on walking with a trail of ducklings waddling, with me at the tail end.  They have become used to my presence so know no fear.

The Whistling Ducks have tiny little spotted ducklings and they are a little more wary.  There are at least 8 pairs of ducks with a variety of little ones.  The ducks have a really cute squeak but I haven’t heard them whistling yet.  The frogs that bleat like sheep are back – and it is quite unnerving.  I keep looking for a flock of lambs to no avail.  There is a GIANT carcass of an Armadillo in the grass.  It is about the size of a large cat.  I guess it was run over and then the predators had some tasty lunch.

Whistling (squeaking) ducks – their babies are spotted!

I mentioned before that Muscovy Ducks are called Backyard Ducks in Mexico where they originate.  That means they are a tasty lunch in Mexico…  While I was sitting at the pond I spotted an older Mexican couple who were gardening at one of the houses.  They were taking quite an interest in all the ducks and I watched them with trepidation.  ‘You can’t eat these ones – they have names!!’  I was overreacting because they just wanted to ooh and aah over the ducklings like all of us.  In Baja, Teddy and I had the most delicious duck and pomegranate tacos but I didn’t name those ones…  What a hypocrite I am, especially since I have eaten many interesting animals in our travels across the world.  Alligator is chewy, BTW, as is camel.

As much as I still enjoy my pond and its critters, I realize that I live in an idyll far removed from many Americans.  In our township, you are not allowed to discharge a weapon for any reason, especially not to hunt.  There are no fireworks allowed at any time and a million other regulations.  As frustrating as our quarantine has been, I can only imagine what it is like in crowded public housing with no job to go to.

Great Heron walking in Pond Weeds

May we exit this pandemic in peace and live more equitably with compassion for every member of society.

All these photos are taken by the marvelously talented Teddy who has a new exhibit for his photography.

 

Our first date…

 

…since the Pandemic started.  We moved into our ‘new’ house 16 years ago when we moved to Texas from Cairo.  One of the reasons was that it was a 5 minute walk from our house to a local steakhouse and bar.  We don’t go that often as it is expensive but it is a lovely treat at happy hour.  Now you have to make reservations and observe restaurant social distancing.  It was a tad weird to see our usual servers in masks and gloves but lovely at the same time.  They welcomed us like old friends.  We both had to sit at the same side of the booth to be the requisite distance from the next booth which was very romantic.

It’s a fancy place but not pretentious and we dressed up.  Teddy has lost so much weight that his Tommy Bahama’s good shirt could have fitted both of us in it – time for the charity box.  I can fit into my old skinny clothes and I am wearing my favorite cream Max Studio dress worn with an ‘antique’ brown velvet jacket from Bandera, Texas.  I am pretty sure the previous owner has passed on but I love to think of the events she may have worn it to.  At the restaurant I ate my steak like a ravenous wolf and devoured the whipped potatoes.  Then we had a bottle of wine AND DESSERT.  It was all gluten free – just like my life now.

Like many of us, I have spent quite some time on introspective thought.  My mental health has been good given the circumstances and I realize that I enjoy social isolation (and the calm that comes with that).  Rather sadly, I went into the airport and handed back my badge and keys.  I have been volunteering for 11 years or so and it was the strangest sensation to see how quiet everything was.  The volunteering program has been suspended temporarily but I had already decided before the pandemic that it was time for me to do something new.  I doubt I will have any VIP work for the next year but that might pick up in the future.  It is a special birthday for me in July when I turn 60 – WHAT!!!!  We had vague plans of a short trip somewhere but who knows.  We could spend the rest of our lives just exploring Texas…

Is anyone else totally fed up with the Pandemic euphemisms?   These Challenging times, Unusual circumstances or The New Normal.  It’s a bloody Pandemic – just call it what it is.  The best new word I came across is Covidiot which means someone who doesn’t follow Pandemic Protocol.  On that note I was scolded at two separate grocery stores.  ME – compliant citizen exemplified!  The first time I waited patiently in the line to go in a smaller store, wore my mask and kept my distance.  At the checkout I stood behind the plexiglass but wasn’t standing in the taped yellow box.  The older gentleman, checking my groceries out, asked me to move back, and I apologized profusely.  I was mortified.  Today, I went through the 15 items only checkout at another store.  I guess I had about 20 items which has never been a problem in the past.  This time I had to pay for the first 15 items, and then the extra items separately.  This time I almost blushed.  I sheepishly left the store reminding myself to count the items next time.

Some very classy citizens have been behaving very badly during these ‘challenging times’ and I don’t want to be part of that mob.  One mother created a ruckus at Red Lobster (a seafood chain of restaurants) because she had to wait.  I guess nobody knew she was Mother of the Year??  It doesn’t sit well when so many of our population are food hungry right now.  Thank you once again to all the essential workers who have worked so hard to keep us safe.  The least we could do is to make their jobs easier.

Happy Memorial Day – E Pluribus Unum.

Mask Couture

Finally, our masks arrived from China!  I made Teddy dress up for the photograph – you may as well rock social distancing!  I put on eye makeup for the first time in months and had to take it off as soon as the photo was taken…  As I look at celebrity and other videos, I wonder if we will be less vain when the Pandemic is over?

I noticed a change at the store today – there was hand sanitizer and toilet tissue and paper towels!!  My gluten free shelf was all stocked up and I breathed a sigh of relief.  As soon as I did, waves of guilt washed over me for all the people who have no food.  I read Reuters World news to keep a real perspective of Covid-19’s effect on the world.

On a happier note, I saw Mama and Papa Bluebird on their nesting box today, along with a large but young Great Heron and a family who had adopted a rescue dog during the lock-down.  Bravo to them!

Keep safe, keep well and thank you to all our essential workers.

A Little Levity

It drives me crazy that of all the lovely shots I had taken of me in my wedding dress for our thirtieth wedding anniversary, this is the one blown up on my husband’s office wall.  I guess that is the Kerry that he really loves.  Right now at this crossroad in history we need some lightness.  The last time I felt panicked about going out was in 2003 in Cairo, Egypt.  The Second Gulf war had started and there was a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction.  We were advised to stay home in case Westerners were a target.

Don’t you love the vista behind our balcony?

Since I looked like I did above, it was obvious that I wasn’t Middle Eastern but I couldn’t stand being in the house.  I strode out silently daring anyone to harass me.  Nobody did…I probably looked like a crazy lady.  Then I felt silly.  Now we have to socially distance.  I went to Trader Joe today (our Marks and Spencer sorta) and there were little yellow lines painted 6 ft. distance.  They were only allowing a limited amount of shoppers and it was the quietest I have ever seen the shop – bliss.  As you approached the shop, the Trader Joe artists (there are always some on staff to paint the signs) had put little encouraging words on the yellow stripes.

“Getting closer…”

“Almost there…”

When I got to the checkout desk, I had a little chat with the lady. “I look ridiculous with these black hair dye gloves,” I said.  “Oh, no, I have seen much worse…” she returned with a chuckle.  Then my imagination went into overdrive with WWII gas masks and Breaking Bad yellow boiler suits.  Then I went home and disinfected my purchases.  Earlier in the day, Teddy was convinced he had appendicitis.  I reassured him that it was probably gas and this wasn’t a good time to go to our doctor’s office.  It is right across the road from a retirement community that has been quarantined because of a significant outbreak of Covid 19.  I checked his temperature and poked the sore bit, made him bend over to check for sciatica.  Then I scolded him for being hypochondriacal at the wrong time in human history.  He seems to be fine now – usually Dr. Kerry can scare most illnesses away.  The gas came out eventually – so much so that I fell about laughing and sprayed air freshener in our house.

It hasn’t been long since I had a major bout of depression and anxiety.  I have good days and bad during this crisis but so does everyone.  For the first time, most of you can empathize with how a chronically mentally ill person feels ALL THE TIME.  It is so exhausting to be terrified and worried about everything.  Now there is a pandemic and I am doing okay.  After I reassured Teddy that he wasn’t dying, I went for a walk around the pond and up to the reservoir.  Many years ago, my friend Anne and I took our bikes many miles to our nearest reservoir in Glasgow at Cathkin Braes.  The sign said, “NO TRESPASSING!” but we were about 13 years old with that ‘who cares’ attitude.  We were having a lovely time when the warden found us.  Oh dear… we got a dreadful row about how dangerous reservoirs were and to go home immediately.

Boris and Natasha, the Muscovy Ducks

I REALLY wanted to ignore the NO TRESPASSING sign, at my reservoir today, but two Sheriffs had already passed me.  I just stood and enjoyed the ozonic breeze wafting down from the water.  A Great Heron was fishing for her lunch at the spillway.  She must have caught a dozen little silvery fish that sparkled before disappearing down her gullet.  She was pretty husky for a heron…  Back at the pond I almost stood on the fattest Muscovy duck – I think the neighbors feed her because she isn’t afraid of me.  Teddy usually lumbers after me on walks round the pond – he has a big actual footprint and frightens all the critters away.  This time I was able to see around 20 little turtles sitting on a mud bank with a single White Egret.

I saw a variety of neighbors and we all kept our 6ft distance, shouting the news at one another.  The great leveler is how awful we all look.  Grey roots, no makeup, stubbly beards, Walmart clothes and no one cares.  My Walmart tops are all from the thrift store so I have Eco Brownie points.  Our cul de sac is in a state of excitement right now because we have a new nest with a Black Crowned Night Heron.  They aren’t particularly common round here.  Teddy and I sat out on our deck on Sunday and a perfect little Downy Woodpecker came really close in the tree right above our head.  She had no red markings yet and seemed to be fascinated by the humans.  She tapped and tapped, entertaining us for a full hour.  Take comfort in small moments of joy and be as safe as you can be.

THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD  – POSTSCRIPT 

As I was writing this post, I heard an inordinate amount of sirens – police, fire engines and ambulance.  We live close to one of our major routes within the forest but we haven’t heard them for weeks since everything went pandemic crazy.  I was so bored that I considered going out to see what idiot had sped through our cross stop or ran over a pedestrian but decided to keep watching Animal Planet.  Then our neighbors sent a round robin to say that some desperate guy had robbed people at gunpoint in one of our furthest subdivisions and sped away.  He had gone into our sleepy little street to escape the police and then exited only to wreck his scooter in front of the pediatric hospital across the road.  He is now in critical condition – I guess God decided he deserved a Darwin award.  To give some perspective, this is a sleepy backwater with very little crime so this is unprecedented.  Today was a strange day for me, not just because of the weird robber, and I had already been considering opening a bottle of wine.  The wine is finished…  On a really sad note, two of the elderly residents of the retirement community have died – may they rest in peace.