COVID19 Gratitude?! Plus I’m working on my 1st podcast ever! by da-AL

Podcast photo of da-AL with K-D for Happiness Between Tails.
We’re hard at work on an upcoming podcast for you to enjoy!…

“Stay safe.” How many times a day do you hear that? During this COVID19 era, whether the conversation is for business or pleasure, the majority of mine end with someone telling me, “Stay safe.” Then I ask them to do the same.

Here in Los Angeles, weeks have turn into months. No complaints from me, proud of the liberal blueness of my state as I am. Assuming folks remind me to ‘stay safe’ at home with super-clean hands, for my part, I mean something different. Stay safe, dear reader — stay safely happy as well as healthy.

Now that we’re on the subject, how are you managing that? Me, I do my usual keeping busy. Let me preface that with: it’s easy for me. I am most definitely lucky, lucky, lucky. I’ve got food, shelter, and all my people are sound inside and out. That includes my four-legged furry little girl. And I live in an area where Spring has sprung amid a fabulously mild climate.

Recently I heard that sheltering has affected dogs (surely the menagerie of other beloved pets too) — in a good way! It turns out that at least one doggie needed vet-prescribed relaxation to recover from wagging their tail so much. Ah, the sheer bliss of having one’s person(s) home ‘round the clock, ‘round the week!

My heart goes out to everyone who struggles as a result of the pandemic. Thank you, all who are working away from home. You are my heroes.

But I feel guilty. You too? Because for as terrible as the situation is…

These are some of the gifts that I will miss when sheltering is over…

  1. I live within walking distance from a commuter airport, and my home has single-paned windows. Fewer flights mean I’ve been sleeping better and now I hear more birds in the daytime.
  2. Though I didn’t eat out much even before the sheltering, stocking up for two weeks at a time takes rethinking errands and cooking. That’s not so bad — I’m finding that shopping far less often leaves me more time to write, to walk, to do all kinds of things.
  3. Nature too is getting a ‘reboot.’ Fewer drivers result in cleaner air, more birds singing this spring-time, and less road-kill. It’s nice to look up to a night sky of more twinkling stars, fewer airplanes.
  4. It’s lovely to see neighbors I never knew. They ride their bikes past my window, their kids following like ducklings.
  5. More pets are out with their owners. On my strolls, dog in tow or not, it’s a relief to not worry about rush-hour traffic mowing us down.
  6. People are adopting more pets!
  7. My expenses are down. Since this started, I haven’t needed to put gas in my car.
  8. I have less laundry and buy fewer clothes I haven’t gotten my hair styled, and I definitely use fewer cosmetics.
  9. My rare drives are a breeze in the reduced traffic.
  10. Definitely, it would be great to see my friends and family in person soon. On the other hand, with all this extra time, we’re keeping in closer contact thanks to Zoom and FaceTiming. Moreover, visual visits require us to really pay attention to each other.
  11. When I had my annual physical, speaking with my doctor didn’t cost me a co-pay, as it was a phone visit.
  12. Without the commute to parties and my beloved yoga studio, I’m keeping fitter with fewer days of over-indulgence and the daily zoom workouts.
  13. My husband is whiling away his extra time by assuming much of the grocery shopping and cooking duties.
  14. For all anyone knows, I’ve got a mustache and mask-tan lines on face — but I won’t tell!

Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way. When I asked my Facebook friends, they had plenty they appreciated. I forgot to ask permission to name them, so I’ll paraphrase. Some are exercising to videos and glad for more time to cook, garden, create art, and to watch old and new favorite TV shows. Personally, I’m totally on the same page as the friend who’s binging on “Monk” shows. Even my local newspaper, The Long Beach Post News’ columnist Tim Grobaty, reports some good fallout from all the pollution slow-down.

Need some self-soothing boosts? Here are three f-r-e-e apps that help me — this one from Australia, this one through a company that also features free mind games, and this one that utilizes tapping.

People are grateful for…

  1. Time to enjoy flowers.
  2. Along a beach on Lake Huron, Canada, the sky is breathtaking… clean, clear days and inky nights with exuberant stars.
  3. I’m using less gas, and I love how gasoline prices have dropped.
  4. Less traffic is excellent for motorcycling.
  5. Now I have time to practice meditation.
  6. Now there are a lot of swans at my park.
  7. I’ve got more time to garden. The clean air and bright sun are lovely on my walks with my dogs.
  8. I’ve taught myself new line dances as I practice in my kitchen!
  9. As a baking enthusiast, I’m taking cakes to friends stuck at home.
  10. I don’t like that I still have to go to work, but it’s nice to see others spending more time with their children.
  11. This is giving everyone a chance to reevaluate their priorities.
  12. My cat has more time to sit on me.
  13. My blood pressure is way down.
  14. I’m feeling more relaxed and healthier than I have in years.

What’ll you miss once the pandemic is over? Are there any gifts you’re determined to maintain?

More of Happiness Between Tails posts regarding the current crisis are here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

Now about my first podcast — I’m hard at work on it! It’ll be ready for your listening pleasure soon!

Tomato Gardening and Dogs by da-AL

This dog is a natural gardener.

What do dogs (namely larger ones like mine) have to do with tomato plants? My wonder doggies help chase away vermin. They scare off rats, possums, raccoons, and coyotes! Plus they make it impossible for birds to alight on my luscious fruit.

Screens keep the good in and the bad out.
Screens keep the good in and the bad out.

Since our furriness happened to my family, even the crowds of snails have dwindled, as have the legions of tea cup sized grasshoppers.

At the same time, they kept our pollinating non-aggressive bees and wasps intact!

For years, I pitied the oil slick green beetles that bump around blindly in my garden. The dogs often lunge and chomp at the pretty things, toying with what I mistook for ‘JUNE bugs.’ A few days ago I learned that the reason why our insects arrive much after June. They’re fig beetles, which explains why they buzz around my eyes when I balance from the high branches of our fig tree.

Along with dogs, window screen and clothes pins protect plants.
Along with dogs, window screen and clothes pins protect plants.

Unfortunately, they can’t fight spiders, the ones that stunted a couple of my most promising seedlings with their webs of red powder.

My gardening skills lie somewhere between the green-to-black thumb spectrum. Our doggies greet fertilizer as candy, so I rarely use it. Nor do I use pesticides for myriad reasons. The tomatoes are watered only at the roots, to stave off mold and thirsty bugs.
4CageBase 31Past years, I didn’t much mind sharing our bounty with local ‘wildlife.’ Last summer, however, birds and rats took everything! I considered nets, but envisioned baby birds snarled within them. Only a few weeks ago, it occurred to me to use some leftover window screen material.

Wasps and bees are garden helpers too.
Wasps and bees are garden helpers too.

It’s  light enough to cut with scissors, and malleable enough to be anchored with clothes pins at the base of each cage. Voila!

Look at my new cages! Too bad I didn’t think of them sooner than just a few weeks ago! In tandem with the dogs, they work royally to deter greedy pests. At the same time they let in sunlight and air. Don’t bee fooled by this wasp – them and the bees get under the mesh when they feel like working pollinating magic.

Gardening goodness, screen guardian underneath.
Gardening goodness, screen guardian underneath.

The loveliness of planting tomatoes surpasses how they make my mouth ecstatic. They’ve taught me to be resourceful and optimistic. One plant barely grew, hardly leafed out, I almost pulled it up. As if in defiance or gratitude, it rendered eight succulent orbs!

How do your pets garden?