If you are a Disney fan you may already know the animated Moana, a 2016 movie about a Polynesian lass who ventures beyond the reef surrounding her home island to meet legendary characters. This Moana — a shy cat with hair as black as any Polynesian — is also on an adventure beyond her “reef.”
Laura Spiderwoman enjoys unraveling balls of yarn and weaving webs around chair legs. Wayne Grets-Kitty plays hockey down the hall with a red milk bottle cap as her puck. When she gets close to the goal (my bedroom), the game is more like football. She picks up the puck in her mouth and jumps up onto the bed. Touchdown!
Laura was homeless when the labor pains started one snowy night last January.
She was less than a year old, barely more than a kitten herself. We like to believe that instinct taught her all she needed to know about motherhood but nature failed to fill her in on the facts of frostbite. Her little ears bear a permanent ragged edge.
She hid behind a file cabinet in my home office for almost a month, refusing to even nibble her food if I was in the room. After about three weeks she decided to venture out to her food dish even when I lingered in the corner. When I held my hand out she gave it a sniff. Then she allowed a pet or two. And eventually I heard a purr.
Open letter to Alexis Kuijken, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Dear Mrs. Kuijken,
Sioux Falls lifted its a mask mandate recently, after you and your daughter complained at a council meeting that you were being harassed for not following the city’s mission to enforce CDC guidelines. Like many who refuse to wear masks you said the mandate is based on fear and you believe in faith over fear. You said going without a mask was not tempting fate like standing in the middle of a busy highway because Covid has a 99 percent survival rate (your figure).
We’ve all heard these arguments before but somehow you are missing the point. Let’s start with the busy highway. It’s a good analogy. But we are not standing on the highway watching cars buzz by. We are the cars, zooming along, rushing about our business in a miraculously orderly fashion. Most of the cars follow the rules. They observe the speed limit, stay in their lane, use safety precautions. Now you may say the rules of the road are too stringent because the survival rate on the highway is much better than the 99 percent you cite for Covid. But it is exactly because most people follow the rules that all those cars can go so fast without running into each other. We can zip across the country, merging and exiting, pausing only rarely to eat, sleep and refuel. As long as everyone follows the rules we all get to our destinations safely.
But every highway has to have a few who ignore the rules. They think the speed limit is too slow. They think they are better drivers than the rest of us.Their time is more valuable. They weave in and out of lanes, ignoring a safe distance between cars. Sometimes they get by just fine, impairing the smooth order only a little. But eventually the rule breakers will cause a collision. Just like those who refuse to wear masks spread the disease that has killed more than half a million Americans this past year.
It’s true some of the cars follow the rules of the road out of fear–the drivers are afraid they will get a ticket if they go too fast. But mostly people follow the rules of the road out of faith–.they have faith in the rules and faith in their fellow drivers. They know if everyone follows good, safe-driving mandates, everyone benefits.
So you are right; it is about faith. I have faith in you, Mrs. Kuijken. I know you would not intentionally put others’ lives at risk. I know you wouldn’t want to be responsible for even one death per 100 because you failed to put on a simple mask.
Remember back in college when we used to brag about “doing shots?”
You know. A shot of tequila with a lick of salt and a squeeze of lime. Or if you were a real drinker you might have a boilermaker (shot in a beer) while the tamer crowd would try sweet and colorful “jello” shots.
It’s been many years since I’ve had much more than a glass of wine with dinner. But now us senior citizens are once again doing shots, even if our choice of poison has changed.
Covid shots are all the rage among the over-65 set. We call our friends to report “got my shot today,” or post it on Facebook. Not to be outdone, friends respond that they’ve already had their “second shot.”
We share every detail of the scheduling ordeal, all the computer crashes and then that miracle moment when we finally got through or received a surprise phone call. An appointment. A line. Everything in order. Maybe a slight prick.
Instead of a hangover from too much whiskey, the effects of Covid shots are more likely a little swelling or soreness. Maybe a headache or if you hit the jackpot a day or two of illness.
We brag about the adventure, just like we survived a boilermaker. We call friends we haven’t talked to in years to recommend they join the parade. We’re so excited to be doing shots because we can see this year-long nightmare is starting to wind down. It’s not over yet, but we are on the road home.
Have I told you recently how lucky I am? Not only do I spend my winters right on the beach but I’m on the best beach in America.
Perhaps you read recently that Trip Advisor named St. Pete Beach the best beach in the country. Technically St. Pete Beach is six or seven miles south of me. When I open the gate of my condominium complex I step onto the pristine sand of Madeira Beach, which comes in number nine in Trip Advisor’s list. That’s right, two beaches within sight of each other (You can see a long way as the shore winds around) are in the top 10. And that’s where I wake up every morning.
Now I know that any Top Ten list is very subjective. Next year neither St. Pete or Madeira may get a mention. But considering four of the beaches on this year’s Top Ten list are in Hawaii I consider the competition stiff indeed.
In my years working for newspapers we were always wary of superlatives. How can you prove something is the first or the last or the best? In sports they solve the dilemma with a score. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the 2021 Superbowl Champions, but we stop short of saying they are the “best” football team.
When hyperbole hits home, however, it feels fantastic.
Women have lost a lot lately.
First it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18. Long before she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993, she championed gender equity. Thanks to her work, and 1974’s Equal Credit Opportunity Act, women can get credit cards and mortgages without a male co-signer. She made it possible for me to buy a home in my own name after my husband left me with a son to raise.
She fought for equal wages, protection for pregnant workers, and for widowers to receive the same benefits available to widows. Life was a little easier for single moms like me because we knew Ruth was fighting for us.
Then this week we also lost Helen Reddy, the Australian singer who championed women’s rights not in a court of law but on the stage of public opinion. She taught us to raise our voices with pride:
“I am woman, hear me roar/ in numbers too big to ignore/ And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
Cause I’ve heard it all before /And I’ve been down there on the floor/No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.”
But the final blow came from India. A 19-year-old girl died after she was gang raped and mutilated as a political statement by one caste against another. Although Indian law doesn’t allow the young woman to be identified, she represents so many women in the world who face discrimination and abuse. She reminds us that we are not invincible as long as any woman anywhere can be tossed aside like a piece of garbage.
We are Ruthless and Reddy. Hear us Roar.
I woke up coughing and I couldn’t stop. Oh no, I thought. What have I done?
I have to admit I’m not fond of wearing my mask. Nor am I much for quarantine. I’ve fudged the guidelines more than once. I’m not a anti-masker by any means. I try to behave. But I try to have a normal life too.
I visit my 92-year-old mother, who would be insulted if I didn’t give her a hug. The church ladies have organized a weekly meeting in the park. We try to wear masks and stay six feet apart, but it is so hard to understand what someone is saying at 6 feet with a mask on. I try to do my part for the community. I worked the polls in August even though I was scared to death I would get infected. Somebody needed to do it.
So when I woke up coughing I figured I had fudged once too often. I was overcome with regret. What had I been thinking? If only I could have a do-over.
A racking cough shook me out of the bed. I hunted through the bathroom drawer. Where was the thermometer? I unwrapped a cough drop. What should I do? Call my doctor? Look up the nearest testing site? Oh, shoot. What about my weekend plans? Well that would need to be canceled. I wouldn’t dream of taking a chance on giving it to someone else.
A sip of water, another cough drop. Maybe the cough was settling down.I finally found the thermometer. No fever, 97.4, not even 98.6.
Within an hour the cough was gone. I figured pollen must have set off post nasal drip. Not Covid. Maybe this was my do-over, my second chance to be careful.
An acrid odor grabs my attention. Something’s burning. The toast. Oh darn, I forgot to check the setting..
Do you ever feel like the world is closing in?
Of course you do, after five months on lockdown. Nothing’s normal anymore. Even paying your property tax at the township clerk’s office has been complicated with limited access. Your vacation plans were canceled; your theater tickets have been postponed. Take me out to the ballgame is only a memory. And if you pause to have a chat with the neighbors you fear you’ve broken the six-foot guideline and put everyone at risk.