Help! Let Me Out… Keeping Sane in the Time of Covid-19

Peggy and I have found a number of ways to maintain our sanity and sense of humor in this time of Coronavirus. I will share a few today. We laugh a lot. If that doesn’t work, there is always wine!

Help, let me out!

Number 1: Catching ground squirrels. In the world of dastardly rodents, few are more dastard than the ground squirrels. We have a catch and release program. Of course these criminally inclined rodents steal birdseed, but that isn’t what gets them banned. They can chomp though a garden faster than Superman can leap a tall building. And even worse, they see nothing wrong with climbing up in our vehicles and chewing on wires! “Some fun,” they think.

Plus they have an attitude. I spotted this fellow a couple of years ago sitting on our deck banister munching sunflower seeds. When I politely asked him if he had been over at the bird feeder, he gave me the paw.
And they lie. “I have never stolen your sun flower seeds,” this one claimed. “I am the greatest ground squirrel alive. The tree squirrels did it!” I pointed out to him that he had at least 40 seeds stuffed into his cheeks. “That’s not true,” he proclaimed. “Fake news!”
Jail break! We turn the squirrels loose in the forest across the river where there are no sun flower seeds, no gardens and no engine wires to chew on. Squirrels have to make a living the old fashioned way— eating grass. BTW: You would not want to go up against this guy in the five yard dash. “Free at last!” I heard him exclaim as he disappeared into the blackberries. I wished him good luck in his new life.
Squirrely advice to their Chief. Courtesy of my T-shirt. Note the cheeks. (Grin)

Number 2: Learning about nature. We took you on a nature walk in our last post, so there is no need to dwell on it here. I did want to share one more thing, however: How to spot deer beds. I’m pretty sure it is a critical skill.

This is what a deer bed looks like in the woods. Not much, you say. They scratch out a hole for themselves by moving dirt around with their hooves. It takes a minute or so. Once you learn to spot them, they are fairly obvious. Even more obvious…
Here’s what a deer bed looks like at our house. BTW, I’m not sure you can get more pregnant that Floppy. She has been restless the past two days. I suspect she will have her fawn within the next week. The bed has been in constant use since we moved here ten years ago.
Buckus leapus, who shows promise of being at least a three-pointer, made his own bed. When I suggested that he not rearrange our rocks, he gave me the look, but proceeded to lie down. And aren’t those legs gorgeous! “Great for jumping over the barriers you put up to keep me out of the garden,” he muttered to himself.

Number 3: Working puzzles. While lots of businesses have suffered during this pandemic, I can pretty well guarantee it hasn’t been the puzzle industry. It there is one item hotter than toilet paper, it’s puzzles. Peggy is the addict in our family. I’ll put in a piece on occasion, but mainly to show support. She sits down and there isn’t a peep for an hour. If she disappears, the first place I look is the puzzle table.

Peggy lost to the world. Our dining room table was drafted into service for the duration. The puzzle in front is a colored marble seduko that our friends Tom and Lita sent us. I play this one but Peggy is a whiz. She finishes a square and five minutes later calls out, “Done!” Tom suggested we compete. Ha!
She has completed a lot of puzzles, each one with its different challenges. With this one, it was the head of the rooster.
She did this puzzle to honor our canceled trip to Europe this summer.
Of all the puzzles, this was by far the toughest. I heard lots of complaints coming from the puzzle room. Peggy even threatened the puzzle by telling it she was going to tear it apart and put it back in the puzzle box.
But, with a little help from a friend, she finished it! And then, of course, she needed a glass to celebrate.

Number 4: Watching flowers grow. Our flowers are deliriously happy. Normally, they just get started and off we go on another adventure. They would turn us into the SPCP, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants— if we gave them access to a phone. Not this year. I’ve put in 10 new trellises and moved at least 11.32 tons of dirt and rock— as least it seems like it. I’m the muscle in this operation. Peggy is the gardener. She is out every day futzing with her babies: planting them, talking to them, and watering them. We both work at trying to keep Buckus leapus out.

Peggy standing on top of our Gabion Cage deer barrier giving plants an extra shot of water.
Remember when I posted about sitting in the sunroom and watching sunflower plants grow while I was writing…
Here’s what they look like now. Happy plants! The barriers on barriers are to keep the ground squirrels and the birds out.
Lots and lots of happy plants. This is the first of the lavender. Soon it will be blooming all around our house with thousands of bees and butterflies to keep it company.
And of course our pioneer rose which now has more flowers than I can count.
I’ve been learning more about this rose since my last post. It is deeply connected to our local history and worth a post on its own. And it is rooted in the history of the west. Another name it goes by is the Yellow Rose of Texas!

The four activities listed above are only the beginning of how we have maintained our sanity and sense of humor during the age of coronavirus. Here are a few other things we do while ‘sheltering at home.’

Peggy makes masks. Lots of them— enough to outfit us, our kids and grandkids, and her brother, sister and spouses.
And quilts. Our son Tony sent us some of his favorite T-shirts for Peggy to turn into a quilt. She is making another one for our son-in-law Clay that features tractors and barns.
I blog. Sometimes it feels like a full time job! Those are my crocks peaking over the top of the screen.
Peggy bakes oatmeal-cranberry cookies. Healthy, right! My job is to test them right after they come out of the oven. I know… it’s hard work but somebody has to do it.
And I make sure the freezer is full. This is a pork roast I cut in two. I turned the first half into a rather tasty lima bean soup. The other half is waiting for me to turn it into pulled pork.
Peggy is kept busy sending and receiving Marco Polos from our kids and grandkids.
Both Peggy and I are avid readers. This is what I am working through in non-fiction. I always try to include science, history, current events, something for the soul, and a book on writing. My fiction is sci-fi and fantasy. I am totally about escapism! Especially now. Peggy loves mysteries.
It feels like a thousand years ago when Peggy and I were at Crater Lake, our last adventure out. And yet, it was only March 20th. Like all of you, we are eager to hit the road again. But we will wait until it is relatively safe. To do otherwise will endanger our lives and those of others. Stay healthy, and stay sane.
The Last Word. This ground squirrel was about to escape into the forest. But before he did, he stopped, looked up me, and growled, “Come just a little closer so I can bite you.'”

33 thoughts on “Help! Let Me Out… Keeping Sane in the Time of Covid-19

  1. Curt, I too like to read. I’ve read old favorites and found a few new ones. One at the moment you might be interested in is “Pioneer Days in the Southwest from 1850 to 1879,” a compilation of stories by and about buffalo hunters and settlers near what is now Fort Worth, Texas. Published in 1909, it is definitely not politically correct, but it does reflect what those people actually did and said under very harsh conditions. it is available on Kindle.

    • PC wasn’t big in those days. 🙂 I’ll check on the book, Ray. Thanks. When Peggy and I were traveling through Texas, we came across one historical marker that claimed over one million buffalo in that area alone. –Curt

  2. We also have a black little fellow that keeps messing around, I was thinking to give him another chance, if he is not behaving well this week, the only solution is to relocate him😀 When I gave him a lecture last week, he was almost stomping his feet at me, such an attitude LOL
    Btw, you have a beautiful garden!!
    – Christie

    • Yeah, Christie, Peggy lectures them all the time but they rarely listen. 🙂 Thanks on the garden. We started with the Gabion cage retainer wall and then gradually added the flowers. I think we are done…. –Curt

  3. You’ve taken us through quite an excursion into the wonderful world of the Mekemson quarantine! We won’t have to worry about you two going stir crazy!

    • 🙂 Doesn’t stop us from plotting another escape, though, G. Depending on what happens this summer, Peggy and I might hit the road in our RV. It serves as a modified sheltering at home. We can control our environment without much more risk than we are facing now. We could go across the country and visit both sets of kids, something I am reluctant to do in an airplane until we have a vaccine. –Curt

  4. I loved this post Curt. It’s interesting to see the different ways in which we are all trying to stay happy and sane. The weather in western PA has been cold and rainy with some snow, so that is having a negative effect on flowers and outside time. (and a negative effect on my mental health 😦 I’m jealous of your beautiful garden and those wonderful roses. Thank you for letting us into your colorful life once again…and I’ll be right over for cookies and coffee. 🙂

    • Thanks, Sylvia. The coffee will be on and the cookies warm. 🙂 Being housebound would definitely be a drawback. It’s great to get out everyday, even if it is only for an hours and involves tackling star thistle. And thanks on the garden. Peggy and I are pleased with its evolution. –Curt

  5. Poor John is like your Peggy on the puzzle front. I add a piece now and then as a sign of support. Glad you can catch the squirrels. Possums can be a nuisance here and are much harder to catch.

  6. Gardening is now high on my list as I am finished with moving to my new place. One of the quickest ways to get lushness is the planting of sage or salvia. They come in hundreds of varieties. Your blogging posts are making me feel guilty for being idle, but am much relieved by Peggy holding that huge bottle of wine.

    Our lock-down is slowly being eased, and we can from next Friday, go to a restaurant providing a limit of no more than ten people are seated inside.

    • Laughing about the wine, Gerard. When Peggy was a principal it was a high-stress job and one of my responsibilities was to debrief her each night, i.e. Listen to her challenges of the day, make appropriate noises and not suggest solutions. They could go on a bit. So I limited the sessions to one glass of wine. 🙂 One day she came home with this huge glass her teachers had given her. Our lockdowns are supposed to be easing as well. We’ll see. I plan on being conservative until we see how things are progressing. –Curt

  7. Hah! This one produced a whole series of chuckles… our ground squirrels used to dig into the steep bank in front of the house. Made me nervous that the house might slide down onto the road someday. Not sure how we managed it without even trying, but they seemed to to have moved on to greener pastures.

    To make up for it, we have a rather cheeky grey squirrel. Eric claims they’re invasive. This morning there were TWO! We could be in trouble! 😦

    I like doing my jigsaw puzzles online. We seem to lack for space to put out the old fashioned version Peggy works on.

    As for gardening, I leave most of the edible variety to the CSA, but have been trying to bring back natives for landscaping. Just this morning I took some cuttings from our Red Flowering Currant bush. Hoping to have success with that since I think it’s one of the prettiest bushes around! (In case you hadn’t noticed from the flowers I’ve posted from the one I planted several years back.)

    Oh! and those roses are to die for!!!
    Hugs to you and Peggy.

    • I like grey squirrels and their cheekiness. Interestingly, they take off when the ground squirrels are around. We have several that live on our property. Haven’t seen one now for a couple of months since the ground squirrels came out of hibernation!

      All of our shrubs are native. The flowers are more of a mixed bunch. Resistance to deer is a big factor. It’s the primary reason we grow so much lavender. It is also fire resistant, drought tolerant, and a great food source for bees and butterflies, all of which are plusses.

      And the roses! They only bloom for a couple of weeks but they sure are glorious during that time period!

      And aren’t we lucky to have our wilderness hide-a-ways! –Curt

    • She does love her puzzles, Alison. As for enjoying ourselves, except for wandering (and that’s a big except) our lifestyle hasn’t changed that much. It’s easy to have fun here. –Curt

  8. It looks like you two are finding great ways to keep busy. As you may recall we had squirrels attempt to move into our house and it took quite an effort to convince them we would not be amicable neighbors! After 30 years of not sewing I too have taken up mask making. Best wishes to both of you and your adventures in isolation. Take care.

    • They haven’t tried to move in yet,( thank goodness) but they have us surrounded, Sue! 🙂 I seem to remember a bit about your invasion. We had bats for a while. And then there was the skunk that was determined to live under our sunroom. I finally buried a fine mesh wire that he couldn’t dig through all around the base. That took care of him— and the ground squirrels. Hope all is going well with you and Dave. Take care. And thanks. –Curt

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