COVID on my mind

Rainy day
The backyard where I’m hanging out in isolation.

I was talking to my son on the phone and he didn’t sound well. He sounded congested and he was coughing.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“I’m pretty sure it’s allergies,” he said. “But I’ve had trouble breathing at night for the past few days.”

After he hung up the phone with me, he called back to say he had taken a COVID test and he tested positive.

I told him to call his doctor and he said he would, and he had to call other people like his PT that he had been around in the past day or two.

Because he has asthma, he is a high risk COVID patient. The doctor gave him an RX for an experimental antiviral. Currently, he’s in bed miserable. I’m hoping the drug kicks in soon and he shows improvement. Yes, I’m worried.

Next, I got a phone call from the mother of the bride from the wedding we went to on the weekend. She sounded awful and said she tested positive for COVID too. While we were at the wedding, we talked to one guest from overseas who said his wife traveled all the way for the wedding only to test positive that morning. So she was in bed and flew halfway around the world for nothing. I’ve heard of a few other people who came down with it, too.

A neighbor called and asked me out for lunch. I told her I will wait a few days. I don’t feel like I have COVID, but on the other hand, I’ve been exposed. I think the polite thing is to stay in for a few days and make sure I’m not coming down with it and test.

My book club was cancelled this week due to the hostess having COVID rebound.

It seems weird to be this far along from 2020 and have the pandemic rear it’s ugly head.

Have you heard of an uptick in COVID lately? Or is it just the people around me?

A disagreement over the cat

pretty kitty
Olive Bear is now an indoor cat.

My husband and I disagree about shaving Olive. She’s a long-haired cat and is shedding like crazy. Our kids are coming to visit us soon. Our son is super allergic. My husband thinks I should take Olive to a groomer and get her a lion cut. That it will help our son’s allergies.

I googled about shaving cats and it’s mostly negative. The sources said you CAN get a cat shaved, but it’s not a great idea.The hair protects cats from heat and cold. Their fur is their natural insulation. Getting shaved is something I know my cat will freak out about.

She’s a scaredy cat and doesn’t like anyone except for me, my husband and my daughter. When people come over, she hides. When we leave for more than a few days, she is boarded. Olive howls the entire few miles drive in the car. She demolished the cardboard carrier I bought at PetSmart with her claws and teeth. The employees in the boarding place were afraid to get her out of her “suite.” when I came to pick her up. I had to do it. Then the cardboard carrier collapsed as I walked to the car. It was a frightening experience for both me and Olive.

So, how do you think Olive will feel driving to a pet groomer, being around strangers and barking dogs to be groomed? Once she gets home I’m sure she’ll hide away for weeks. She’ll be super mad.

I think you can tell who has won the debate on whether or not Olive gets a haircut.

What are your thoughts about getting a cat groomed? Should we or shouldn’t we?

cat walking on window pane
Olive at our old home where she was an indoor outdoor cat.

A bit of beauty

Our gate looking out toward the street. It’s so beautiful with the plant in full bloom. Most of the year it doesn’t look like this.

This weekend I was stunned by the beauty in our neighborhood. I stop and take photos every day on my walks. I’ve posted several times about the desert in bloom, but more and more flowers amaze me.

Palo verde in bloom. They are all over the place in our neighborhood.
Ocotillo with red flowers


.
The color on this Hedgehog cactus is brilliant.
The cardinal has been back!
This beavertail cactus is beginning to bloom.
I love this Yucca at the entrance to our neighborhood.

What are your favorite flowering plants and birds in the Spring?

That time my son tried to give away the cat on FB!

Baby Olive
Olive on her first day with us.

I began writing this blog in 2014, mostly focusing on parenting. Understandably, because that’s what I was doing. Now, in my empty nest, I write more about the little things going on in my life or about what I read in the news.

One of my joys now in my empty nest is our cat Olive. She delights us with her antics wanting us to play chase around the house. I like to watch her watch the quail through the screen door. She wants to sit on my lap every afternoon like clockwork. I remembered that time my son tried to give away the cat with a FB post and how I found out about it. This was one of my very first posts:

Robert’s asthma and allergy appointment–on his first day home from college for his four-week Christmas break–didn’t go well. The doctor said we could get rid of the cat or put Robert up in a hotel for four weeks.

We’ve only had baby Olive for a year. We’re not too attached, but still. She’s a member of our family. We rescued her from a local pet shelter and committed to be her loving family. And she’s Robert’s little sister’s cat. Not mine. I felt before we agreed to give Olive away, we needed to discuss this with little sis. Or, let Olive be an outdoor cat.

I heard that Robert had posted on FB for a new home for Olive. Of course, as his loving mother, I’m filtered from seeing his posts. Grandpa, on the other hand, has full access to Robert’s FB account. He told me about the long and lengthy post about how I love the cat more than my own son. Short and shorter: we needed to get rid of the cat. Several people had said yes to adopt the furry feline.

Am I a terrible mother for not wanting to give away our pretty little kitty, Olive Bear?

Robert said I’m infected with Toxoplasma gondii and I’m in danger of turning into a crazy cat lady. I “googled” the toxo thing. It’s different than cat scratch fever, which can cause chills and a fever. T. gondii is a protein that invades your bloodstream and makes women crazy about cats. Or, it makes men crazy in a wild way. And there’s a link to schizophrenia. It’s why my OB GYN told me not to change the litter box while I was pregnant. However, he said that if I’d been around cats my entire life, most likely I was already infected. Great.

 I know about crazy cat ladies.We had one in my home town. She lived in a house filled with felines and feces. Hundreds of cats. My parents drove me to her house out in the country a few miles from town. The home badly needed paint and had broken floorboards with cats leaping in and out of the foundation. We picked an adorable calico kitten named Pansy to bring home. Pansy died a few weeks later from feline pneumonitis

We had bad luck with cats when I was growing up. I can name the ones we owned when I was young: “Ting, Tack, Tenni-runner, No Name, Thomasina I, Thomasina II, Little Leticia, Bianco, Streshia, OJ Simpson. We lost these cats (in addition to the aforementioned Pansy) by the time I reached first grade, due to an overzealous cat-hater neighbor. He caught them in a wooden trap, dropped them in a gunnysack, then tossed them in the river.

When we moved out to the country, I adopted Saute´ when I was in second grade. I named her for the ballet term “jump.” I had her through high school — although she lost a leg early on sleeping in a truck engine. Coyotes and bears were kinder animals to our kitty than our former neighbor in town.

pretty kitten with wide eyes
Baby Olive in my daughter’s arms.

 I was pregnant with Robert when we adopted Sherman. My son’s allergy doctor told me for years to get rid of Sherman. I didn’t. Robert was allergic to lots more things than cats. Things I couldn’t control, like rye grass and oak trees. Sherman lived from 1992 for 17 years — when the neighbor’s dog jumped a wall and killed him. 

I know it’s terrible not to want to get rid of our cat. I never believed that a cat could be harmful to my child. Now, my son is living in beautiful Santa Barbara, going to college.
He’s only home for visits. Or maybe it is the toxoplasmosis that let’s me rationalize all this.

If you have suggestions on how to keep a cat when you have family members with allergies, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Olive all grown up
Olive cat living the indoor life in Arizona.

“Kittens are angels with whiskers.” — Alexis Flora Hope

We bought an air filter for my son’s room and he’s been able to visit us without getting sick. It’s amazing what an air filter can do — except with the current supply chain issues, I rarely get the replacement hepa filters.

Do you have family members who have cat or dog allergies? Do you think you’d get rid of pets because of them? A doctor friend who is allergic to cats just shook his head when I told him we kept our pets despite of our son’s allergies.

Feeling out of sorts

A view from our beach vacation.

The last few days of our beach vacation, ringing began in my right ear. Then vertigo. I’m a mess. Some days it’s worse than others. Some days it goes away completely. Other days, it’s hard to function.

After two weeks I went to an ENT. I’m worried because a friend’s daughter had a side effect to the COVID vaccine of tinnitus. It’s really bad and they don’t know if it will ever go away. I googled it and it is a rare side effect to the shot, although they aren’t entirely sure that it’s related or due to something else.

In any case, the ENT PA told me my ears are fine, but my right sinus is not — and that might be causing the problems of vertigo and ringing in the ear.

They put me on prednisone. This is my first time taking it and to be honest — it’s not great. My poor son, who suffers from severe asthma has been on it every few years. I remember the first time his allergy doctor prescribed it — I didn’t fill the Rx. When I returned with my son, who was still sick, I got scolded from the doctor who said, “Doctor Mom, WHERE did you receive your medical degree?”


I had heard so many horror stories about kids and prednisone but the doctor assured me he wasn’t prescribing anything that would put my child in danger. Right. Ten years after my son was put on an inhaler for his asthma, they discovered it stunted growth. He was on it from fourth grade until a year ago. But on the bright side, he is alive

I’m alive too although feeling out of sorts. The ringing in the ear isn’t bad today and I don’t have vertigo. In a month I’ll go back to the ENT and hopefully I’ll be AOK. If not, the next step is an MRI and perhaps sinus surgery.

Have you ever not taken an Rx that a doctor prescribed for you? Have you second guessed your children’s doctor? Have you had tinnitus or vertigo and how did you get over it?

That time my son gave away the family cat on Facebook

Five years ago, people called me up and texted to say they’d take the cat. I didn’t know we were getting rid of Olive! My own dad told me that my son had written a lengthy post on FaceBook about how we had to get rid of the cat. He is highly allergic, and we got kitten Olive after he left for college. But, he has barely been home since. Perhaps the cat is one reason why! Here’s my second post ever which details the time my son tried to give away Olive.

Robert’s asthma and allergy aBaby Oliveppointment–on his first day home from college for his four-week Christmas break–didn’t go well. The doctor said we could get rid of the cat or put Robert up in a hotel for four weeks.

We’ve only had baby Olive for a year. We’re not too attached, but still. She’s a member of our family. We rescued her from a local pet shelter and committed to be her loving family. And she’s Robert’s little sister’s cat. Not mine. I felt before we agreed to give Olive away, we needed to discuss this with little sis. Or, let Olive be an outdoor cat. We could give that a try! She’s in and out all the time.

I heard that Robert had posted on Facebook for a new home for Olive. Of course, as his loving mother, I’m filtered from seeing his posts. Grandpa, on the other hand, has full access to Robert’s FB account. He told me about the long and lengthy post about how I love the cat more than my own son. Short and shorter: we needed to get rid of the cat. Several people had said yes to adopt the furry feline.

Am I a terrible mother for not wanting to give away our pretty little kitty, Olive Bear?

Robert said I’m infected with Toxoplasma gondii and I’m in danger of turning into a crazy cat lady. I “googled” the toxo thing. It’s different than cat scratch fever, which can cause chills and a fever. T. gondii is a protein that invades your bloodstream and makes women crazy about cats. Or, it makes men crazy in a wild way. And there’s a link to schizophrenia. It’s why my OB GYN told me not to change the litter box while I was pregnant. However, he said that if I’d been around cats my entire life, most likely I was already infected. Great.

 I know about crazy cat ladies.We had one in my home town. She lived in a house filled with felines and feces. Hundreds of cats. My parents drove me to her house out in the country a few miles from town. The home badly needed paint and had broken floorboards with cats leaping in and out of the foundation. We picked an adorable calico kitten named Pansy to bring home. Pansy died a few weeks later from feline pneumonitis

I never had good luck with cats. I can name the ones we owned when I was young: “Ting, Tack, Tenni-runner, No Name, Thomasina I, Thomasina II, Little Leticia, Bianco, Streshia, OJ Simpson. We lost these cats (in addition to the aforementioned Pansy) by the time I reached first grade, due to an overzealous cat-hater neighbor. He caught them in a wooden trap, dropped them in a gunnysack, then tossed them in the river.

When we moved out into the country I had Soute´from second grade through high school. Coyotes and bears were kinder animals to our kitty than our former neighbor in town.

babyolive2 I was pregnant with Robert when we adopted Sherman. That allergy doctor told me for years to get rid of Sherman. I didn’t. Robert was allergic to lots more things than cats. Things I couldn’t control, like rye grass and oak trees. Sherman lived from 1992 until Obama’s inauguration day — don’t let me get started — when the neighbor’s dog jumped a wall and killed him. 

I know it’s terrible not to want to get rid of the cat. I never believed that a cat could be harmful to my child. Now, my son is living in beautiful Santa Barbara, going to college.
He’s only home for visits. Or maybe it is the toxoplasmosis that let’s me rationalize all this.

If you have suggestions on how to keep a cat when you have family members with allergies, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

olivetp

Five years later, we have lived through the dilema of an allergic son and owning Olive the cat. When he’d come home for a weekend, I found a discount for a hotel a few blocks away. He got his fresh air and we kept the cat. Eventually, before he’d visit, I’d clean the house from top to bottom and made the kitty stay outside. This year, I invested in a heavy duty air filter and we can stay all together in peace. 

What would you do if your kids were allergic to your pets?

Missing Angus at the Beach — a Good Dog Story

Angus7

ANGUS

AUGUST 7, 2014: I’m missing Angus a lot lately. We’re on vacation at the beach in a little cottage where Angus slept on the front porch with his head sticking in the doorway into the living room. Every morning at this cottage for nine years I took Angus for a walk up the hill. In the evenings, the family took him for his nightly swim in the ocean. He’d jump through the waves chasing a tennis ball. Everywhere I look, I miss him. So, I’m reposting this story I wrote in honor of my son and Angus’s birthday last March.

MARCH 14, 2014: Next week my son turns 21 years old. Officially an adult. He shared his birth date with Angus, our yellow lab. But, sadly, this year Angus isn’t with us. He made it from my son’s 1st grade birthday to his sophomore year in college.

 

My kids with Angus at the beach.

My kids with Angus at the beach.

The following is a story I wrote when Robert invited 50 kids to his second grade birthday party. It was published in the Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Room. 

Angus1

Camping with Angus in Carpinteria.

A Birthday for the Dogs

“MOM, I’m inviting 50 kids to my party.”

“What, Robert?” Mom said. “That’s too many. Do you know 50 kids?”

I sat in the back seat while Mom drove home after school. My eighth birthday was in two weeks. 

“There’s my class, plus Cub Scouts, and playgroup.”

“I can’t afford to take 50 kids skating or bowling. And I don’t want 50 kids in my house. What about the city pool? It’s heated, open year-round, and it’s only 50¢ a kid,” Mom said.

“A swim party, that’s cool!” I said.

“I’ll say yes to the party, but no to presents. Fifty presents is too much for one 8-year-old. It’s decadent.”

“What’s decadent?” I asked. Mom used words I didn’t know.

“Self-indulgent, corrupt.”

Angus2

Angus watching the kids on the playground at Ruth Hardy Park.

I sat silently and thought I’d be sad with no presents. Then I remembered Angus. Mom got him for me as an early birthday present. We were on a waiting list for two years with Guide Dogs of the Desert. He was being trained as a companion dog for people who couldn’t see. We got him because he had poor hips and couldn’t be a working dog. Angus was big, yellow, and I loved him. We shared the same birthday.

“I have a great idea!”

Angus

Angus at his front porch post at the beach cottage.

“What?” Mom asked, glancing at me in her rearview mirror.

“I’ll ask for money for Guide Dogs of the Desert.”

“Ah?” Mom made a weird swallowing noise.

“It’s Angus’s birthday, too.”

Angus5

At the cottage.

In the rearview mirror I watched Mom dab at the corner of her eyes with a tissue, and nod her head in agreement.

Two weeks later, I had a great birthday. Fifty kids came with bathing suits, towels and money. Instead of opening presents after cake, we counted dollars they had stuffed into a large jar decorated with photos of Angus. 

Together, we raised more than $1,600 for Guide Dogs. Mom called me a “philanthropist” – whatever that is.

Angus8

The birthday boys, Robert and his dog Angus.

 

Here’s a link to a video of Angus doing his daily chore of getting the paper.