Tag Archives: pandemic

Pandemic Paws

As you may know from my previous post (“My First Pandemic Birthday”), I recently adopted a dog, Maya. She’s a sweet little terrier mix. All was going smoothly until a week ago, when her behavior changed. I’m hoping you can provide some “pointers” (no pun intended) on how I can help her out of her funk.

But first, here’s Maya:

Note: As a school psychologist who’s worked with children with ADHD, PTSD, ODD, OCD, FAS, SLD, and a multitude of other acronyms, I’m finding that my little RD (rescue doggie) is the most challenging of all. But that’s probably just because I’ve never received training in “Getting a Dog Out From Under Your Bed,” or “Getting a Dog to Stop Running Away When You Make Eye Contact.”

I think it’s important to fill you in on Maya’s history, so here’s the scoop (again, no pun intended!):

April, 2020: As a recently-retired single person coping with life during the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought it might be smart (and therapeutic) to adopt a dog. I could provide a loving home, and in return I’d gain a companion. I registered with an animal shelter and met a few dogs, but they were either too big, too aggressive, or already spoken for.

May, 2020: I saw a story on the local news, described as a “hoarding case.” The owner loved her animals but felt overwhelmed and called the shelter seeking help. It’s no wonder. There were 40 dogs and 3 cats. Their coats were all severely matted. (I saw a video of them being removed from the home and then groomed at the shelter. The house was later condemned.) The dogs were said to be sweet and well-behaved, but a little shy.

June, 2020: The Humane Society called me. They had a dog from the “hoarding case” that they thought might be a good match for me. I made an appointment to see her.

July, 2020: When we first met, she was shaking like a leaf, but soon she jumped up on the couch next to me and extended her paw, pulling my hand toward her as if asking to be petted. She even licked my hand. From that moment, we were bonded. Or so it seemed.

The shelter said she was 6 years old and weighed 12 pounds. They’d spayed her, pulled some teeth, chipped her, and given her all her shots. They didn’t know her real name, so I renamed her “Maya,” which means “love,” “water,” “mother,” “courage,” or “illusion,” depending on which language you’re referencing. Besides, I’ve always liked Maya Angelou.

As soon as we got home, Maya jumped on the couch and seemed to be settling in. She started following me around and was very affectionate. She wanted to jump on my bed but she couldn’t quite reach it. I decided to see if she’d sleep on her own bed on the floor instead. I folded up a quilt and a blanket and put them down on the floor of my room. She didn’t want to sleep on it, but when I moved it right next to my bed, she immediately curled up on it and fell asleep.

That first night, she woke me up at 3:00 a.m. and I took her out. Then she woke me up at 5:30 a.m. and I took her out. After that, I decided to try getting her on my schedule. The next time she asked to go out in the middle of the night, I just said “no, lay down,” and she immediately did so! She was very well behaved and I guessed she’d been trained pretty well before her former owner had become overrun with other pets.

Then I made her a little “pen” in the bathroom area using a dog gate. I tried putting her in there whenever I had to leave the apartment for short trips to the store, but when I’d return, I’d hear her barking. I decided to switch her “pen” to my bedroom, but now I worry that she’ll chew electrical cords while I’m out, so I have to unplug everything each time I leave.

I took her for her first vet visit and she had a clean bill of health. For the first couple of weeks, things seemed to be just about perfect. Each time I sat on the couch, she’d come over and snuggle up next to me. She asked to go out about 3 times a day. Each time, she was obedient on her walk and even seemed to understand when I said “time to go home.” I did notice that she slept a lot during the day, though. She seemed to be nocturnal, getting a bit frisky at night and wanting to go out around 7 p.m. and again around 10 p.m. instead of during the daylight hours. I thought maybe it was due to the intense daytime temperatures we’re experiencing right now. And she was not the least bit interested in playing with toys. But other than those few idiosyncracies (which I attributed to her being a rescue dog), she seemed to be adjusting well to her new home.

About a week ago: Things suddenly changed. She started hiding under my bed and staying there all day, only coming out around 7 p.m. when she was ready to go outside, even though I’d offer her food at 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., shaking her bowl so she could hear the sound. When she does eat, she has an appetite, and her stools are normal; she does not seem sick. She has lots of energy at night. Things improved a bit for a day or two, but now she’s back to being very withdrawn. In fact, yesterday, she stayed under my bed, or on the floor next to it, for a full 24 hours! I wonder if she’s depressed, and maybe missing her former brothers and sisters.

Things I’ve tried: Closing the door to my bedroom so she can’t go in it (when I can get there before she does, which is rare) – that just makes her cry. Luring her out with treats (bananas, peanut butter, real chicken, hot-dog-like treats, Milk Bones) – it worked for a while until she got wise to my tricks. Now she just sniffs them  from afar, stares at me, and runs back under the bed. Gently pushing big objects under the bed to coax her out – she just moves over.

Last night: When she finally came out from hiding at 10 p.m., she let me put her leash on, went outside, did her business, and then was very affectionate when we came back in, cuddling up next to me on the couch as usual.

Today: But this morning, as soon as I made eye contact with her and reached down to pet her, she ducked under the bed and has been there all day again. I decided to try to gently encourage her to join me in the living room by moving her bed out there. I even made a trail of Milk Bone treats leading from my room to the living room, but she hasn’t even come out to snatch one. I don’t believe I should force her out of her “cave” until she’s learned to trust me more.

Does anyone have any experience with pets like Maya, and do you have any suggestions for me? Thanks in advance if you have any advice!

My First Pandemic Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday – the first one (and hopefully the last) that I’ll have spent during a worldwide pandemic. And to honor the occasion (and also, to stop myself from obsessively checking Facebook for Happy Birthday greetings), I wrote a poem about how my day was going.

But first, I just have to show you some adorable monkeys.

corona-5032904_1920

Okay, now the poem:

My First Pandemic Birthday

It’s my first pandemic birthday
And it’s really no big deal
I’m thankful for the greetings
I’m feeling all the feels
Most people did remember
And if you forgot, that’s okay
But at least you didn’t send me
That cremation offer I got today.

Yes, I walked out to the mailbox
Expecting a card or two
Instead I got an election flyer
And junk mail out the wazoo.
But that offer for cremation
Was the icing on the cake
So I threw it in the garbage.
It was just too much to take.

When I returned from that errand,
I discovered I had a gift —
My new doggie who’d been hiding
Had left me something that I whiffed.
But she’s been the perfect canine
Well, up until today
I won’t hold one mistake against her
But I hope there aren’t more on the way.

Now it’s time to plan my evening.
I think I’ll make a special meal.
Cooking can be good therapy
For emotions I’m trying to heal.
I’m making my mother’s recipe
For Uncle Frank’s spaghetti sauce
And for dessert, I’ll eat a scone or two
Then we’ll see who’s boss.

Me or the corona virus?
Just which one will it be?
I think I can beat that bugger
Cuz I’ve got a mask or three.
And soon I will be Zooming
With some Tucson friends of mine —
I’m already getting ready.
I’ve opened a bottle of wine.

Photo credits: Chairs by ParentRap; Monkeys by Chiplanay (both on Pixabay).

 

 

Do You Have a Muse?

Do you have a muse? Someone or something that inspires you to create? I guess I do, because it seems that every time I decide to post a photograph, I end up writing. Take today, for example.

I sat here at my desk with the intention of posting a photo of a hummingbird, one I’d seen while out for a walk yesterday. I usually write a few words to go with my photos, so I wondered what I could say about this one.

Before I had a chance to start typing, though, I heard a voice (my muse?) telling me what to write.

“Write a poem,” the voice said.

“About what?” I asked.

“Well, what are you thinking about right now? What are you feeling?”

“Well, duh,” I said. “I’m thinking about the pandemic, what else is there to think about?”

“Okay, but are you sure you want to write about something so intense? Maybe just write a poem about a bird.”

“I have to write about what’s on my mind,” I countered. “Maybe I can work the little bird into the poem somehow.”

“Alright” the voice said, “it’s your blog. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

You see, I’d been lying on the sofa today, feeling a sense of unfocused inertia. I’ve been feeling that way on and off for the last couple of days. Have you been feeling that way, too?

For the past month, I’ve been busy doing things like working from home, writing, making masks, talking to friends, figuring out how to safely get food, and, of course, watching Netflix. I’m not a total nerd. But I’ve also been glued to the news, and that’s okay, because I want to know what’s going on. I think it’s important that we stay on top of things. But sometimes I try to do too much, and then it seems as if my brain just shuts down and all I can do is crossword puzzles. And that’s okay, too.

Anyway, I was feeling very foggy-brained and distracted by (a) my phone, (b) a crossword puzzle, (c) my Spanish flashcards, and (d) thoughts about the pandemic. (The correct answer is all of the above.) I had  just told myself to focus on only one thing at a time when I got up to get something (I forget what) and I found myself sitting here at the computer. I know, I probably need meds more wine.

And while I’d been on the couch, I kept thinking about something Billy Collins said recently in one of his live-from-home poetry talks. In speaking about social isolation, he said we’re  living under a “futureless condition,” not knowing how long this situation will last or what life will be like afterwards. He compared it to being in 4th grade, where the only future you can imagine is “5th grade.” I thought that was a great description of how I’ve been feeling. And again, it’s okay to feel that way. I guess another way to describe it is how Bob Dylan would have put it: “no direction home.”

Then I looked at my little bird photo through the “futureless condition” lens, and I could imagine how that bird must feel, clinging to a tiny branch, swaying in the breeze, not sure why he was there or where he would be heading to next. And I knew I wanted to try and put all of those thoughts and feelings and images into a poem.

I did write the poem, but I have no idea whether it’s “any good,” so I’m going to let it steep for a while before I publish it. Meanwhile, here’s my little muse, the light little bird that inspired all this heavy thinking today.

And before you go, if the spirit grabs you, don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing. Do you have a muse?

Black-chinned hummingbird watermarked

 

 

Zooming and Blooming

Today’s post is about Zooming (video conferencing with my kids) and Blooming (photos I took about a month ago).

I haven’t been outside with my camera for several weeks, for fear of encountering someone on the trail who might sneeze on me. That actually happened to a friend of mine. Maybe my next batch of photos will be of the still life variety, taken indoors.

Let’s see … I could artfully arrange that pile of work folders that’s sitting on a stool in my living room. I might create a colorful collage from the pile of fabric rectangles stacked up next to my sewing machine. Or perhaps the world is ready for a sculpture I’ve created out of my pile of dirty laundry — the laundry I’m hesitant to do in the community laundry room. Then there’s my dwindling pile of toilet paper rolls … I really had better photograph it before it’s gone.

I’m doing okay, though. I just had a fun three-way video chat with my daughters. Tomorrow is the older one’s 40th birthday, so we celebrated by using Zoom. After the initially unsuccessful attempt at connecting, there we all finally were on the screen, looking like a pared-down version of the Brady Bunch (without the makeup, weird hairdos, or fake smiles). Well, in my case, I had put on a touch of makeup. They may have, too, but I couldn’t tell because they always look beautiful to me.

It wasn’t exactly the birthday party my daughter would have wanted, but it definitely made my day. I got to see with my own eyes how they’ve been coping during the pandemic, and it was reassuring. They even hilariously modeled their new masks, which they’ve made by cutting up the many pairs of leggings that they own, and making holes in them to place over their ears. It’s genius!

As always, they made me laugh, demonstrating how the stretchiness of the masks enables the wearer to quickly change them into long earrings, headbands, or a clever way to hide a double chin.

It was also a chance for me to visit with my grandsons. The 4-year-old (who tells his parents every day that he’s “so sick of the coronavirus”) said “I love you” (unprompted) and the almost 1-year-old smiled and waved and blew me an almost-kiss, touching his open palm to his mouth and holding it there for about 20 seconds. I have to say, it might have been one of the longest kisses I’ve ever received. It was definitely one of the best, anyway.

I hope you enjoy these photos of budding life and the promise of spring.

Bud 1Bud 2Bud 3Bud 5Bud 6

 

 

 

Learning Curve

It

was

early

in March,

nearly spring,

the season of hope,

and my grandson Elliot

would soon have a birthday —

his first. I couldn’t wait to see him.

I had my ticket. Flight 351. April 24.

 

Then, like a giant evil raptor, the pandemic

swooped in, wrecking havoc across continents.

The world was shocked. Thousands fell ill. Many died.

I cancelled my trip. Elliot would have to wait to see Grandma.

People are saying: “It feels like a sci-fi movie,” and “This is weird.”

Some say, “I’m scared,” or even, “It’s like living in the Twilight Zone.”

I watch the news. It’s real. I learn about mitigation and flattening the curve.

I live alone. The silence is deafening. When this is over, I think I’ll get a puppy.

 

We are in this together. We all buy wipes, wash our hands, stand six feet apart.

We cough into our elbows, sew masks, sing from windows, applaud helpers.

We call our parents, record funny songs, take up new hobbies, practice yoga.

We praise our essential workers. We send them big tips and free pizzas.

Our houses are spotless, our cupboards are bare. We’re okay with that.

We try to embrace love and deny fear. We don’t always succeed.

We check our wipes and toilet paper supplies on a daily basis.

We tell ourselves we’ll get through this. Most of us will.

 

When this is finally over, I will visit family.

There will be laughter, and also tears.

As for the rest of the world, will we

reflect on things? Will we know

what we did right? Appreciate

how we cooperated? Mend?

Will we ask ourselves

“What did we learn?

What

was

it?”


Written for Cheer Peppers as part of a daily writing prompt for the month of April.

A Jumble of Emotions

Dear friends,

HUGS.

cartoon-1296501_1280

I hope you are well.

To say I’m going through some weird feelings at the moment because of the pandemic is an understatement. It feels dystopian. Unreal.  It’s a little like the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some days, I experience all five. This post is going to be a jumble of emotions. So be it.

Two days ago, I think depression was winning. But I’ve been trying to cope by reading, writing, watching TV, going for walks, and taking photos. Here’s a cute black-tailed gnatcatcher I saw the other day :

Black-Tailed Gnatcatcher-2

I admire his optimism. I hope some of it rubs off on me.

I’m worried, especially when I think about those of you in parts of the world, and in my own country, who are struggling the most. Italy, New York City, nursing homes, hospitals. The unemployed, parents who need childcare, people in prisons, the homeless, the sick, the elders … it’s mind-boggling and I know we’re in for a long ride. I never imagined being here. None of us did.

And I’m sad because my family lives 2,000 miles away. I’ve even fantasized about driving there, sleeping in my car along the way so as to avoid hotel germs, and arriving on their doorsteps with sanitizer in hand (which I don’t actually have because the stores were out of it) … but I’d just be a possible carrier, adding to their problems, so it’s best if I stay away. (Which reminds me: Have you seen Mel Brooks’ video where he tells his son to “go home”?)

I guess I’ll have to rely on texting, calling, and even dreaming to stay in touch with family. I literally dreamed about my two young grandsons last night. They will each have a birthday that I will miss this year.

My city, Tucson, just closed all restaurants and bars today. I think take-out is still an option, but sadly, I’m sure that doesn’t apply to bars. Glad I stocked up on wine, but three bottles doesn’t seem like nearly enough now.

On the bright side, scientists, medical professionals, some political leaders, small businesses, ordinary people are actually pulling together and making sacrifices for the sake of the greater good.

And I’m actually pretty impressed with how many of us humans are acting humanely, and are even finding and spreading humor on the internet. Is there a reason that the words “human” and “humor” are so similar?

By the way, here’s what made me laugh today:

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In the days to come, I hope to continue with my emotional outpourings. In the meantime, please let me know how you’re doing. Are you coping? Do you need a virtual shoulder to cry on? If so, I’m your person. Comment away.