Sheltering in Place on Wheels

A need to see something other than the exact same view from my window nudged me out of “shelter in place”, despite my concerns as a high-risk senior.

There had to be a way to maintain a cautious distance and see to my basic safety needs without turning into a hermit. Besides, I was getting out of shape; at 70, the term “Use it or lose it” pertains to the body as well as the mind.

My solution was to gas up my Winnebago, “Roada” (short for “Roadrunner” – a nod to my Mom as well as just being apt) and hit the road. I found myself conflicted (and weeks later, still am) between frustration at knowing I can’t cross the Alaskan border into Canada and beyond … and feeling a strong need to stay close to home – just in case.

So I dipped my feet in the travel pool with an overnight trip (along with Jer, who was equally eager to be away from home, at least briefly) to beautiful Bird Creek campground along Turnagain Arm.

Bird Creek offers lovely forest-framed views of the inlet and well-maintained walking trails for dog walks. Baxter and Rhonda both loved it there. Sadly, it was a bit too chilly and windy on this day in May for the outdoor BBQ Jerry had hoped for. Indoor hamburgers worked just fine!

One weekend seemed to be enough for Jerry, who was happy to return home to TV and computer – but it only wetted my appetite. I stayed home for less than a week, then set wheels in motion again.

Living in the Mat-Su Valley, I have quite a few directions I can choose to travel, depending on how much time is available, and honestly – the weather. If it’s clear and sunny in Palmer, why would I head for rainy Denali Park? 😉

Three days of watching sunshine, storm clouds, rainbows and more playing across the shoulders of the always spectacular Chugach and Matanuska Mountains was soothing to my heart and soul. I slept too late and missed every single [4:00 am] sunrise, but I managed to catch a couple of wonderful sunsets. I really enjoyed my time there and had the park nearly all to myself due to Covid related cancellations.

I had taken only miss Rhonda with me this time, so we enthusiastically hunted bunnies and robins (with an equal lack of success due to Mom being on the other end of the leash), strolled through the lovely and almost brand new campground, met some very big Angus cows (with new calves!) through a fence … and gazed across vast hay fields, bringing back such good memories of years past when we had come to these very fields to load hundreds of bales of fresh summer hay to take home to our [then] herd of Pygmy goats.

But … three days in one place was enough. I wasn’t quite ready to head home, but wanted a new view.

Actually, to be honest, I had headed towards home – but just couldn’t bring myself to turn down Vine Rd. So, I kept driving and spent one last night out, camped along the Lil’ Susitna River in Houston. NOT the smartest choice as it turned out – after nearly a week of rain in Houston followed by sunshine, the river was high and mosquitoes had hatched in droves! Yikes! Still, it was really pretty when viewed from inside the RV. I got a lot accomplished on my puzzle that day.

Even with all of this traveling, I was never more than 40-50 miles away from home and managed to continue taking every possible precaution. I felt safe. I wore throwaway gloves when stopping for gas (and didn’t touch my face) which I tossed in the trash before getting back in my RV, wore a mask if I had to step inside (paying for propane, paying for my RV site, etc), was able to immediately and thoroughly wash my hands in the RV after each stop, and kept a more than safe distance from other people – easy to do in nearly empty campgrounds.

The lessening of stress and anxiety in my body was almost palpable by the time I returned home. Such relief. I don’t think I’d realized I’d been holding my breath for the past three months.

Even so, I had barely set my brake in the driveway before I found myself checking weather reports and planning my next getaway. Maybe Trapper Creek or even Denali? But that, as the saying goes, is another story for another day.

Stay safe and well, my friends – but find ways to LIVE your LIFE. We only have the one.

Priorities – gone to the dogs

When the first ghosted whispers floated on the air, hissing at the possibility of a new “flu” … it got my attention in a “hmm … that doesn’t sound good” sort of way.

Sure, it was a world away (last January), but in this day and age, the world is a smaller place. A mere marble.

Within a few weeks, it became clear this novel coronavirus had the potential to be a big-time bad actor. And it was spreading so fast …

The need to find ways to protect ourselves from infection became obvious, although our means to do so were limited. “High risk” groups were identified and, no surprise, I’m right smack in the middle of one. “Hunker down” was a new term to me in early March. By April, it was a fact of life.

When you are on a fixed income, there’s only so much you can do to prepare for a pandemic. What a helpless feeling – all we could really do was plan to stay at home for an extended period of time and hope for the best.

Which brings me to this question: How many of you ever gave serious thought to the possibility of needing to prepare for a world-wide pandemic? If you did; what was on your list of priorities? How did your list end up comparing to the reality?

Think waaaay back to the “early days” of the Corid-19 pandemic. I know, right? It sure seems like WAY more than just 6-8 weeks ago. At some point though, it hit most people that either they might get sick and the whole family could need to isolate at home for weeks – OR they might need or choose to self-isolate at home for their own safety and health.

In any case; once the reality of the situation hit – folks started preparing in whatever way they felt appropriate.

Stocking the pantry with staples and comfort food seemed appropriate to me, although between limited space and limited finances, I didn’t make much of a dent at the store.

I have to wonder (as have many others) what thought process was behind the world-wide toilet paper panic. TP? Really?

But, again … I’m mostly just curious. How did your real-life priorities match up with your “This is what I would need to do first?” list?

I checked back through my records and figured out MY personal priorities. The very first “stocking up” action I took? I went to http://www.Amazon.com and doubled my regular dog food order. 😂

Hey … my 13-year-old Abby needs her Senior Wellness kibble and I wouldn’t want the dachshunds to have to change to a different dog chow due to a shortage.

I usually buy cat chow in a fairly large bags anyway, but I admit I went ahead and picked up one more bag, just in case.

Even then, it seems I waited a few days too long before it occurred to me that there could be a run on kitty litter! Seriously, folks? Is that the feline equivalent of a TP shortage?

It would be almost funny, except that our 15-year-old cat, Damascus, has serious allergies to the fragrances regularly added to most kitty litter brands. We FINALLY cleared up years of vet visits and painful, oozing sores when we switched to Arm & Hammer “fragrance-free” kitty litter. I’d really like old Dama to live out the rest of her life healthy and “fragrance-free” … so the hunt continues!

I Just Need to Understand

I spent most of the day today looking out the window on the lower landing of our stairs. There wasn’t anything much out there to see. It’s been raining a bit and, well … it’s wet and muddy looking, so not real appealing. One can only watch rain drip off a metal fence for just so long.

At least the snow is melting. I’d probably have to wear a jacket if we went outside, but that would still be better than staying inside. Maybe.

So, my brother, Baxter, and I sit here on the stairs and wonder – WHY are we all staying at home and doing nothing? I am sooooo bored!

At one point today, I thought I saw a bunny and we both got pretty excited, but … nope. Sigh.

YAWN!

Mom has been trying to keep me and Baxter from napping too much, but I think she gets tired of playing tugs and throwing my squeaky ball, so I’m OK with extra naps.

Actually, naps are sometimes better than what Mom calls “Manners Minding”. We walk back and forth around the house and it’s my job to do real-quick stops and sits next to her foot. Dad says it’s like playing musical chairs but without chairs when Baxter and I are both trying to play at once. I’m not sure what he means, but we get good treats!

I try to be a good girl and do as I’m told. Or at least Mom says I’m pretty good at minding my manners when I try.

OK, I could probably try harder, but when you are this bored, sometimes you just have to think up something to do!

This morning, Mom was ignoring me and watching [another🙄] long talking-voice thing on her lap-machine. She does that a lot these days and I’d really rather she play with me. So I brought her TOYS!

It took me quite a while to carry each of them all the way up from downstairs, one at a time.

I wonder which one she’ll pick? I’m so excited!

Well … that didn’t work out the way I planned. Mom told me I was being a “good girl”, playing so nice with my toys. Then she went back to watching the lap-machine. ARRGGHH! That wasn’t the idea!! I am SO BORED!!

OK … gotta come up with a new tactic.

I really wish Mom would explain why we have to stay at home. It’s been weeks and weeks. I just KNOW I am missing out on games. We always do sniffing games at BetCo – sometimes the fun running game with the tunnels and teeter-totters, too!

And I’m sure there have been RATS at the other fun place. I am missing out on climbing straw bales and finding rats! Heck, I haven’t even been taken to play the walk-around doing Sits, Downs and Watch-me game. This is SO unfair.

I AM JUST SOOO BORED!

Mom? Mom? MOM!? Hey, Mom! Look at how cute I am!

Cuteness personified. 💗

OK, good – got your attention. Now, let’s go somewhere! Wait … what?

What do you mean, we are “hunkering down”? I don’t understand. Doesn’t my “sit pretty” count for anything these days?

Does that mean no more car rides? No more Sniffies at the park? No more zoomies or games with my favorite PEOPLE-FRIENDS? You know how much I love my people-friends; my Jean and my Laurie and my Beverley and my Jaralynn … ALL my other friends that love me SO much!

I don’t understand – we need to practice “Social Distancing”? What the heck is “Social Distancing”? Seriously? Six feet apart? Not going to happen! Dachshunds don’t DO social distancing! We do face-kisses and wet willies in your ears and neck snuggles. What am I going to do? AHHHH!

Nooooooo!

I’m sorry … but this just can’t be happening to ME. I’m cute. I’m lovable. I’m SOCIABLE! I need to go play games and see other doggies (no, Baxter doesn’t count!) and I need my people-friends!

You bring them back RIGHT NOW! I don’t want to do social distancing. I want social together-ing! 😥 Have you ever seen a dachshund having a temper-tantrum?!

I refuse to comply with “social-distancing”!

All right … all right … we’ll stay home for now. I’m sorry I made such a fuss, but it’s a lot of change. I’m not sure what to do, and you have to admit, you’ve been sort of sad and out of sorts lately. I was really just trying to cheer you up.

One last thing, Mom. This is all pretty scary. I’m sure glad I have YOU with me. But would you please explain again – I know what “down” means, but what the heck is a “hunker”?

What’s a “hunker”?

As the Wind Blows

I lay in bed last night, listening to the wind blowing outside my window and wondering what tomorrow would bring. It’s a big, bad world out there. It’s a restless world.

I know I’m not alone in my tossing and turning as Mother Nature sighs and moans around me – I’m only one of millions across the world who are either too anxious to sleep or too tired to stay awake.

Miss Rhonda comforts me 💗

Those of us with pets, whether they be dogs, horses or bearded dragons (lizards 🦎) know the true comfort our furry, feathered or scaled companions bring us even in the best of times.

In this time of anxiety and fear, their presence is a God-send, but also comes with its own unique set of concerns.

Abby (13-year-old dog) & tabby Damascus (14-yr-old cat). Our Senior “Mutt & Jeff” team.

If you have a large, extended family living nearby, wondering what would happen to your pets *might* not be a big deal – you may have clear plans already in place. Good for you.

Or you may not … I guess it depends on your pets – and your family. If you have just one, maybe two well-mannered pets, you may have a friend already tagged as designated “pet sitter” until you, God willing, return from the hospital.

Ronni & Baxter, warming by the Woodstove

But what if you have a LOT of pets? What if you have a beloved, but behaviorally challenged pet? What if, like me, you have both?

Old Abby, the dachshunds and even our old gray tabby cat, Damascus, are charming enough and capable of being good house guests, even if it meant farming them out piece-meal. 😢 I think they’d be OK, although it would be a group effort. But then there is our other cat …

Qiviut is the furry brown face on the right ❤️

Qiviut is one of my night-time tossing and turning topics. Having started life as the offspring of a feral barn cat, he came indoors only reluctantly (by way of a live-trap), terrified, untrusting and well-armed. Very well-armed! Check out the size of those 9-week-old paws! Ouch.

You want a piece of me? Just try it – I dare you.

Five years later, Q is very much a beloved house cat, getting along fine with our dogs and other cat – but a quirkier cat would be hard to find. He adores ME and is an extraordinarily lovable lap cat. But …

Still with huge paws, but (thankfully) carefully sheathed claws. 💙

Q is terrified of strangers. Heck, he has only recently, in the last year, decided he can trust my husband (sort of). If something happened to Jerry and I, Qiviut would have to be live-trapped to get him out of the house. What would happen to him? It’s a worry.

So I stay isolated and pray to stay well. I check in regularly with family and friends, hoping they are safe and well.

I pray for our healthcare workers, from doctors down to orderlies, grocery store clerks and stockers, restaurant and post office workers … ALL the “essential” workers who are at work because the rest of us must stay home.

I worry and pray for those who have lost jobs and aren’t sure how they’ll feed their families, much less their pets. I pray this devastating virus passes sooner rather than later, allowing us all to return to living our lives together rather than separately … whatever that new life brings.

Today; I pet my dogs, snuggle my cats and hope for the best.

Remember, everything will be OK as long as you have a stuffy.
%d bloggers like this: