It’s been a week. I’ve had a cold from hell, which I kept thinking could be Covid, because along with the initial sore throat and runny nose and headache, the headaches and the sore throat hung on. Then I got hoarse, really hoarse, like I’ve been a smoker my whole life. In your late 50s with a cold, you no longer emit a sultry voice. Instead it’s the gravelly middle-aged utterings of someone with thinning skin and hollowed out eyes. Do yourself a favor and if you, too, get laryngitis, don’t google Covid voice, because you’ll swear your voice box has called it quits.
Obviously with this nasty virus crisscrossing the globe, I got a test. Just a five-minute walk and I was the first appointment of the day. The instruction was to simply spin the swab in your nose several times, nothing too exaggerated or high up your nostril, then swirl it five times in a test tube containing solution. An hour later, an official email and text concurred: I have a cold.
The cold continued its headache, sore throat and now cough nonsense, peaking with a cough so incessant it required I make a 3am visit to CVS for Delysym, cough drops and Gatorade. There I found one car in the lot and a single employee inside, a nice lady restocking shelves in the brightly lit quiet. Her location? The cough medicine aisle, of course.
I approached her with our new 2022 greeting, “Hi, I’m fully vaxed and tested negative for Covid,” but still, she found another task to occupy her further down the aisle. Can’t say I blame her, with my coughing up a lung behind my KN95 mask with a disposable medical mask over it.
“This stuff is flying off the shelves,” she offered, as I hunted for my brand on a lower shelf. I started to get cough drops, too, but the boxes today have so many evil warnings. I wanted to stop coughing and sleep, but geez, at what cost? Found some natural ones instead with honey as the chief of three ingredients. A self-checkout and sweet goodbye from the store clerk, and I was off for home for several hours of sleep before being awakened to banging on the roof.
We’re renovating and after many years of wishing for a new roof, we’re actually getting one, the heavy-duty variety. Insulated and over that, another layer of wood, and then an ice and water shield before the shingles go on. A kitchen cleanup, coffee, and an hour later, and we had a knock on the door. The contractor had found a squirrel nest with three babies inside. Alive. I checked my usual go-tos for wildlife rescue, and they were full, not answering or didn’t take squirrels. One place gave me the name of a guy I quickly contacted. There are angels among us and this one, named Glenn, a married, middle-aged, mild-mannered squirrel whisperer/rescuer could take them, but the caveat is he’s all the way up in Cumming, an hour away, but agreed to meet me halfway. It was clear he knew this species well, asking questions about their coloring etc., trying to discern their age. Pumping gas, I peered into the box I’d lined with washcloths and saw three adorable tangled hairless grey creatures with bulging closed eyes, pink outstretched arms and sweet little splayed hands.
Glenn and I met in an empty lot of a closed Bank America, and he joked that this exchange of ours must look like a drug deal. I gratefully turned over the babies to him and he greeted them one by one, assigning each a name with the letter J, like you do hurricanes. Juliana, Jasmine and James, Jasmine later changing to Joey because she was a he. Glenn lovingly lifted the babies from their flea infested nest material and lowered them into a soft magenta blanket he had ready, and off they went. I’ve been getting regular updates and they’re all eating heartily and thriving. Here is Juliana enjoying a meal:
Glenn asked me if I had Covid, and said baby squirrels are quite susceptible to it, and I told him about my negative test. I did a second test two days later, again walking a few doors down for the first morning appointment. This time it was a different woman administering the tests, and I asked her about the best swabbing method. She suggested big large circles up reasonably high in your nostril, and so that’s what I did. This time I was going to find this evil Covid, which surely was hiding out in the upper walls of my nose. Two hours later, another text and email arrived, and what do you know? I have a cold.
With this cold/Covid hyperfocus now off my plate, I could get my cat Louie to the vet to pick up his meds and weigh him. He’s got a growth on his sternum that has fortunately shrunk some from the steroids he’s been on, and we’re hoping our sweet boy has put on weight. He and I were enjoying the sunny day car ride when all of a sudden, I got an urgent light in my dash alerting me that my key is not in the car. Well, the car is either an idiot or morphed into some crazy magical carriage that needs no key. Either way, that ignition was staying on. Pulling over to call the dealer, there was little to offer other than maybe the fob battery they gave me recently was bad. I would need to investigate fobs and ignitions later, but for now pressed on toward the vet when I heard the strangest sound. My typically quiet car rider, Louie, decided he would vomit, not once but twice, so we pulled over again to clean up. Always carry trash bags and paper towels in your car. Despite the barfing, Louie had still gained a pound. A big deal.
Back home to find the upstairs bathroom ceiling now gone, I looked up at the sunshine spilling over the fixtures now smeared with dust, the already cracked sink now chipped and containing ceiling chunks. Just this morning, I’d gone in to brush my teeth in this very space before a clean sink and mirror, and it seems a hurricane tore through it while Louie and I were away.
With no upstairs bathroom for who knows how long, the showerless, dingy downstairs bath was up to bat. I went to clean off those fixtures and noticed the sink was slow to drain, the tub too. We’ve had some tree root problems in the past, and know we need to replace these lines, but first, those roof invoices. No Drano on hand and work assignments to get to, the clog would have to wait, but now with an email from the YMCA alerting us that they had no hot water, even our back up was backed up. So what’s another day?
I think my car fob and cell phone have been teaming up in this week of all weeks because, without notice, the next day my cell phone alerted me it had no Sim card. After failed attempts at resuscitating it, I learned on an AppleCare call the phone needed a network reset, so for now the Sim card has returned from her sojourn and taken her seat. It’s an old girl, 8+, but she’s never pulled this kind of crap before.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.Anne Lamott
Glen and I are now texters, and I get frequent Juliana and Co. updates. She and her brothers are lapping up the formula and now out of Covid confinement, have made the company of other squirrels, one a little younger than them and an adult, Noelle, who will be their foster mom as she has to other littles. Glenn wants Noelle to be the first thing they see when they open their eyes so they can bond with a mama squirrel instead of a human.
It was at least two days before I could tackle the drains and even think about bathing. I’ve now fluffed up the space with soft things like towels and rugs, and we’ve hauled in our toiletries from upstairs. I drew a bath last night and enjoyed a soak with my Spotify ‘quiet songs’ list going. It was lovely and I let the music carry me somewhere else. After three or so songs came Yo-Yo Ma performing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major. I put my head back against the edge of this old claw foot, and sunk lower in the warm water. Then out of nowhere everything went dark, lights out, the room somehow even more spectacularly full of dreamy, crisp cello notes. Our new electrical panel is in place, but maybe we have too many dehumidifiers (from our recent pre-roof tarp times) on one circuit? I don’t know, but if you find yourself suddenly in darkness while taking a soak, this is your music. It was perfect, enchanting, even. Believe me, as I’ve never before used that word.
All is right in the world. I got a bath, Louie is eating, we’ve a roof overhead, and three squirrel babies have checked into the Ritz-Carlton.