Quizzes in the time of Covid-19

Like those quizzes? Isn’t it great to get to know each other better? I think everyone should get to know me better. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to post one word about when/where we met. I don’t want to know your favorite drink or how many states you’ve visited. Here’s a quiz you won’t see on Facebook! This one is so much better than all that.

Here are the instructions for The Ultimate Quiz. Make five columns on a long sheet of paper. (I guess it would be okay to use the back of the sheet instead of acquiring another long sheet.) So, label the columns 1.Yay!, 2. Good, 3. Not So Bad, 4. Downright Ugly, and the last column, just in case you need it, 5. Who Cares? Now, number each line on your paper to match the statements below. (It will be better if you’ve chosen lined paper.) Rate each sentence by an X in the appropriate column.

When I give you my answers, I am sure you will feel that we’ve bonded based on the number of your X’s in columns that match mine.

If you’ve prepared your answer sheet, you are ready to go!

  1. I had my hair cut very short a couple months ago.  
  2. I was thinking I’d like to know what color my hair is, really.
  3. I am seriously close to finding out.
  4. My short hairstyle grew a bit since the last appointment.
  5. My bangs were hiding my eyes like a napping sheepdog’s.
  6. I can cut my own bangs.
  7. I cut my own bangs.
  8. I had to cut the rest of my hair to match my bangs.
  9. I looked in a mirror to cut the back of my hair.
  10. I held a strand up through my fingers, estimated its length (by feel), and cut what was above my fingers with my hair scissors.
  11. I have owned hair scissors for years and years.
  12. I did not cut my fingers.
  13. My hairstyle for a while looks like a goat chewed on it.
  14. After the cut, it looks like a goat chewed on it—or maybe two goats.
  15.  I really do not look that much different.
  16. My mother ran out of blue-haired lady shampoo and conditioner.
  17.  I found her a new brand on Amazon.
  18. She loves it.
  19. I had to buy a quart of each.
  20. I borrowed some for my newly released white patches.
  21. The blue shampoo did not change my white that much.
  22. My mother loves the new shampoo and conditioner.
  23. It will last her for the rest of her life, provided she doesn’t die until she’s at least one hundred and six.
  24. My mother says she plans to live until she’s at least one hundred and six.
  25. She’ll have plenty of shampoo and conditioner but I’ll have to wash her hair.
  26.  I’ve been doing more for Mom.
  27. She calls what we’re doing “fun things.”
  28. Some of them I call “fun things.”
  29. We do laugh a lot.
  30. I told her the [Easter] ham made me gassy.
  31. She asked why a hand would make me sassy.
  32. I said, “Not sassy, gassy.”
  33. She looked at my hands on the kitchen counter.
  34. She said, “Why would a hand make you sassy?”
  35. “Not hand, Ma. Ham…ham…Easter ham!”
  36. We went to haul some rocks for my gardening projects last week.
  37. I put 1129 Gerald St. in my GPS.
  38. The name of the street has been changed to protect the residents.
  39. I pulled into the driveway of the wrong house.
  40. The driveway was downhill and the parking tight.
  41. I found the correct address on the text the woman sent me earlier.
  42. A young Latino came out of the house.
  43. I rolled the window down and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, wrong house.”
  44. He said, “Sokay, Sokay.”
  45. I could tell he didn’t speak much English.
  46. I can’t remember my Spanish when I need to.
  47. I could not back out of his driveway.
  48. He tried to guide me.
  49. He appeared to think I would run off the pavement into a deep ditch.
  50. He came and waved at the truck window.
  51. “I do it, I do it!” he said.
  52.  I got out of the truck.
  53.  He got in and backed the truck and Mom out of his driveway.
  54. He even headed the truck toward 1119 Gerald.
  55. We hope he did not have Covid-19.
  56. We hope we did not give him Covid-19.
  57. I might have salivated when I saw the woman’s rock pile.
  58. I had to load the rocks myself.
  59. Neil and Dave helped me unload.
  60. I had to tell them which rocks to unload where.
  61. Dave lined up all the rocks for the front yard in two straight lines in the ditch beside the driveway.
  62. I’m not going to line the ditch.
  63. I’m going to border the iris beds.
  64. I could only load one pickup bed full of rocks.
  65. Neil went after the last two loads.
  66. I forgot to send the woman the lemon balm and thyme she’d requested from me.
  67. I have to drive back to her house to take her the lemon balm and thyme.
  68. Neil had to leave for work with no rocks unloaded.
  69. Dave unloaded them today.
  70. He lined up some more rocks in the other ditch.
  71. I like to cook.
  72. I’ve been cooking a lot.
  73. Dave is underweight.
  74. I’ve been baking cookies for him.
  75. I’m overweight.
  76. I’ve been eating cookies.
  77. I made vegetable soup today.
  78. There is enough soup for the crew on a good-sized aircraft carrier.
  79. The soup is good.
  80. I don’t know that there is enough room in the freezer for all the soup.
  81. I gave soup to neighbor Don.
  82. I am loading soup into containers for other neighbors.
  83. They are happy when I make too much soup.
  84. I made s’mores brownies today.
  85. I’ve had one brownie.
  86. The neighbors will not get brownies today.
  87. I like ordering groceries online for a scheduled pickup.
  88. I am good at ordering groceries.
  89. I can’t go to the grocery store right now.
  90. I can’t find everything we need to order at one store.
  91. Sometimes I don’t know I can’t find everything at one store until we pick up the order.
  92. Sometimes I order from two stores.
  93. I can’t count on getting everything I need from two stores.
  94. Sometimes an order will go all kerflooey.
  95. I got four large heads of bok choy.
  96. I got six loaves of French bread.
  97. There is room in the freezer for four heads of bok choy and six loaves of French bread.
  98. We have plenty of toilet paper.
  99. I ordered a case of Northern Quilted from Amazon.
  100. I do not like hoarders.
  101. I am not a hoarder.
  102. We have plenty of tissues.
  103. I ordered a case of Puffs from Amazon. 
  104. I am not a hoarder.
  105. We have plenty of paper towels.
  106. I did not order paper towels.
  107. Because I am not a hoarder.
  108. Sometime in the last few months, I ordered a roll of re-usable bamboo paper towels.
  109. I hauled them out of the janitor closet.
  110. I like them.
  111. I broke down and shaved my legs.
  112. The electric shaver couldn’t do the job.
  113. I sat on the side of the tub.
  114. I rubbed some body oil on my legs.
  115. The razor slipped a few times.
  116. I will not bleed to death.
  117. My pants no longer catch on the hairs on my legs.
  118. My mother never shaved her legs.
  119. She never had any hair on her legs.
  120. Mom has lots of ideas of things for me to do.
  121. I looked through her entire dresser for one arthritis glove.
  122. I found her box of campaign buttons.
  123. She has every President’s campaign button starting with JFK.
  124. She does not have a MAGA button.
  125. I fold her sheets.
  126. When I forgot this week, she laid them on her bed where I’d see them every time I came over.
  127. She has jewelry to repair.
  128. I glued earrings.
  129. I cooked sausage
  130. If she wants French toast, she gets French toast.
  131. The motto for Mom is the same as the old Castner Knott department store: Give the lady what she wants.
  132. I love gardening.
  133. I have much to do this year.
  134. The last two years were not so productive.
  135. There are people who owe me some hours for gardening.
  136. They aren’t making a dent in their total hours owed.
  137. I gave away iris and lily-of-the-valley this week.
  138. I met a young woman, social distance kept, who wants to help garden.
  139. She is a writer, mainly for veterinarians, and works from home.
  140. She loves to garden.
  141. She volunteered hours at a State park.
  142. The State parks are closed.
  143. She wants to volunteer those hours here.
  144. She is coming over on Saturday.
  145. She wants to grow some vegetables for the food bank.
  146. We have plenty of room to grow vegetables to give away.
  147. Michael tilled one spot.
  148. Don tilled another.
  149. Cindy and I planted wildflowers in one patch.
  150. Cindy found some more strawberries and moved them to the new patch.
  151. Dixie is happy that I’m home more.
  152. Dixie drives me crazy.
  153. She thinks every time I sit down is an invitation to play.
  154. She thinks every time I get a snack, some is for her.
  155. She licks the top of my coffee mug every time I leave it on the side table.
  156. She can get out of her harness.
  157. She takes it off after every potty break.
  158. She loves raw vegetables and apples.
  159. I gave her lots of carrot tips today.
  160. I put a two-pound bag of carrots in my soup.
  161. Dixie ate lots of carrots.
  162. I’m going to eat another brownie.

Dreaming of Foxes

The first post I saw from my newest Facebook friend went something like this—Actually, it went exactly like this:  I know other people’s dreams are boring, but this one vexed (vixed) me. I was out at night, talking to a guy who had a dog with him. I felt what I thought was the dog nuzzle my leg, so I reached down and scratched under its chin. When I looked down, it was a fox.

“I could tell him where it came from,” I said to myself, “but who asked me?”

Kevin certainly did not ask. In fact, I wasn’t even sure we wanted to be FB friends, much less delve into a discussion of dreams. I friended Kevin based on a friend’s link for a subscription to a college literary magazine. His name was on the magazine’s Facebook page and it was the one I recognized. I’ve meant to subscribe for several months now.

But about that dream… Let’s see, what would I say to Kevin about it—if I said, I mean?

“Kevin,” I would ask, “Remember when you guys holed up at our place for the Southern Festival of Books? Did we ever talk about our foxes?”

We have foxes here on the ravine. We saw two young foxes the first week after we had moved in October, 2009. They seemed to be everywhere on our street but we most often saw them heading either into, or out of, the ravine in our back yard. There were two points of entry, one on the southwest side of Mom and Dad’s apartment and another across the courtyard on the north side of the property, where we’re cultivating a big flower garden.

Last year, the foxes loved the garden. They are expert mole-catchers. They even dig up grubs, the mole’s primary diet. One night in June, we watched several of the foxes leap into the air to catch fireflies lighting up the purple coneflowers, irises and roses.

Kevin and a few of his friends staff a literary magazine, The Pinch, at the University of Memphis. Five of them slept over in various places here in The Compound during the Southern Festival of Books in October, 2010. Kevin slept in Dad’s library. He had to walk across the courtyard to join his friends in The Cellar, for food and drink.

“Kevin, did you know that there was a fox den not fifty feet from where you slept? Oh yeah, right there on the edge of the ravine, a rocky hole big enough to house a mama – right, a vixen!—and five babies. Kits. Or pups. Let’s see, Kevin, you were here in October, 2010. The youngest in the skulk would have been over seven months old at that time.”

There were eight of those babies born in March. According to naturalists’ reports, they’re “naked” when they’re born and don’t leave the den until they’re about four weeks old.
We first saw five little balls of grey fur romping around a small trailer in the neighbor’s back yard, just on the edge of the ravine. It was April 10. It seemed that Mama had brought them out to play in the sunny spot closest to the ravine. Better to be able to make a quick retreat to the den.

A week later, we counted eight babies on one of the play-dates. Three of them seemed a bit smaller. Sometimes the little ones were supervised by two adults, sometimes more. Sometimes it appeared that one mother was watching the whole lot. Maybe the other was taking a much-needed nap. After all, fox babies are like puppies. They’re exuberant, rowdy, pesky.

The mamas disciplined the octet with barks and an occasional slap when a playful pup nipped at mama’s face one time too many. More often than not, the offending youngster bounded off to pounce on a brother or sister or cousin. They played hard until the vixen-in-charge herded them into a ball and sent them marching down to the den in a quick, straight line.

We also became acquainted with the raccoons. One of the regular visitors must have been fifty pounds and twenty-five years old. Raccoons usually weigh about twenty-five pounds and half as long. This one was silver grey and as wide as the doorway into the neighbor’s garden shed. I say “was” because we haven’t seen this old fellow for several months now.

By the time Kevin and his friends were here, we had already begun to treat the local fox population for sarcoptic mange, a common malady in red foxes. The farm supply stores sell injectable Ivermectin for pigs, cows, and horses. It’s a liquid of the same chemical makeup as that stuff we all give our dogs to prevent heartworms. You don’t inject the fox. You inject the fox’s food. What an impossible image that conjures up, giving a fox a shot!

By the time The Pinch people were here, we saw foxes much less frequently than we did during the summer. The males would have left the territory to find adult homes. It seems the daddy runs them off. The vixens would have stayed longer, but not too much. The females hang around to help out a bit and then they’re off, too. In mid-October, 2010, we figured we were feeding and treating three foxes.

By January, we weren’t sure that there was more than one lone fox in the territory. Then there was a big snow and the tracks said that two foxes walked side-by-side across the back yard, along the ravine bank, through the corner garden and back across the yard toward the old den. They stopped to frolic underneath the window of Dad’s library.

December to March is mating season. Maybe we’ll have some spring babies. We hope the $40 bottle of medicine saved at least a couple of our skulk. When we realized that we hadn’t seen the raccoons for months, we hoped we hadn’t killed the rascals with the Ivermectin meant for the red foxes. There is such a thing as an overdose, even though raccoons are also treated for worms and mange with the same drug.

And all of this fox-tale leads back to the night that Kevin dreamed of a fox. We drove into The Compound after dark that Sunday evening and stopped to let the old folks out at the garage of their apartment. Dave started to open the passenger door. He would need to open van doors and turn on lights downstairs so that Mom and Dad could safely make their way to the lift in Dad’s library.

I stopped Dave with my hand on his forearm.

“Look,” I said quietly, “There’s a fox in the garden.”

He (could be a “she”) trotted down the ravine bank.

“Did you see him?” I asked.

“I just saw his tail,” Dave said.

“Wait,” I whispered, “There’s another. No, wait, it’s not a fox. It’s a raccoon.”

“Yep, it is a raccoon. I guess they’re not gone after all,” Dave said, and then grinned. “I’ll just go through the basement. Go ahead and park.”

We met in the den upstairs just a few minutes later.

“Well, I’m glad we didn’t kill those raccoons. If we don’t have fox babies, maybe we’ll have raccoon babies,” I said.

“I sure hope the foxes have some babies,” Dave said. “Wasn’t it fun to watch them?”

Today, I treated a pan of cooked chicken parts, bread soaked in broth, and leftover pork stew and set it outside, just in case a fox trotted in for the afternoon. I saved an equal amount of the same tastiness for after dark.

Right after lunch, the wary little creature showed up to eat. Dave called to me from the kitchen window and I ran to get the binoculars. Mr. Fox is skinny, but not decimated. He has some bare spots, but it looks like the coat is replenishing. He seemed overly cautious, even for a fox, but he kept returning to the pan until it was empty. Then he came back again and again to lick the pan clean.

“Kevin,” I would ask, “Do you get it?”

I felt what I thought was the dog nuzzle my leg, so I reached down and scratched under its chin. When I looked down, it was a fox.

I’m going to send Kevin a message on Facebook.

I’m going to ask, “Did you mail my copy of The Pinch? Are you guys going to stay at The Compound again this year?”

***