Levels, Stages and Life Lessons

We are in our 7th week of self isolation and all of SA is still at level 4 of the national lockdown. Many South Africans returned to work this week which means that as industries start back up we will now be at risk of having electricity load shedding to add to our list of horrors. That might just tip some of us over the edge completely. Isolation is challenging enough without sitting in the dark with no Netflix or music to occupy our obsessing minds.

However, hunger is still the biggest issue we are dealing with in South Africa. The government has still not sorted out a convenient and effective way to roll out feeding schemes for the needy. We have people waiting hours in our village for food that never arrives. The drone footage below is in a city north of here but it is representative of the numbers of people who are starving.

Unlike the theory that many people of colour have in the US that the government is happy to have POC as well as the poor people wiped out by this virus, I assume that would not be true in South Africa as the poor and the Africans are the ruling party’s key supporters. Despite the ANC‘s 20 odd years of power very little has changed to better the lives of most of their voting contingent. Yet they keep voting the ANC into power even though we keep hearing tales of incompetence and embezzlement. I will never understand that.

This does not devalue the fact that in the US there is a disproportionate number of blacks dying of the virus in many areas.

la-na-coronavirus-deaths-african-americans-racial-disparity.png

The South African stats are going up now that we are rolling out testing in the communities. The SA government says that 324,079 people have now been tested.

The SA President announced this week that he intends to parole 19,000 prisoners of “selected categories of sentenced offenders as a measure to combat the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities, which are considered high-risk areas for infection.

The President has taken this step in response to a call by the United Nations to all countries to reduce prison populations so that social distancing and self-isolation conditions can be observed during this period.”

Obviously this is just adding to the numbers of unemployed people who are hungry and these 19,000 will have a criminal background? What could go wrong? How many of these were in prison for violation of protective orders for domestic violence? How many are in prison for house break ins or theft? It is an impossible decision for the President to make but it is worrying none the less.

Here in SA the barbers, hairdressers and dog groomers are all still closed. After so long without a trim Norm’s hair was driving him mad. He asked me to cut it but I am the worst ever with anything that requires your hands (so pretty much most things). I made him promise to not bear any grudges if it went horribly wrong. We set up shop on the balcony and he did a little teaching session on how to use the clippers.

We tried many different heights of attachments with the clippers and there are a few uneven patches as a result. He has some bits that go right down to his scalp from trying out the level 2 one (don’t use that one!). He had expected me to do do the lower part of his head with the clippers and the top with the scissors until I adjusted that expectation with a dose of reality. We finally settled on the level 15 attachment and I just did his whole head. I teased him that is the risk of living with a Cherokee – we might just scalp you when you least expect it.

Other than the random bald patches on the sides where we cut too close I think that it looks okay. What do you think?

The dogs had all been smelling horrendous and Norm decided to give the Pomeranians a wash. We could not figure out a way to wash Navajo as he cannot get into the bath with his back issues so he missed out. We just dusted him with sweet smelling baby powder and hoped for the best.

Panda looks like a drowned rat when wet. When Norm put him down for me to dry he immediately ran to his little bed and looked at us with complete mistrust.

The poms have so much hair it took ages to blow dry and brush them but they looked so gorgeous afterwards and their hair felt so sleek and clean to the touch.

Pixie went through the same routine and she loved the hair drying session, she flopped back on her back for me to dry her tummy and she relished the attention. I did not get any pics of her wet as I was busy dealing with the two of them and dodging the huge wads of hair flying around. They have such ridiculous amounts of hair.

I have not touched my own hair. My fringe is crazy long so I have to push it over. My grey roots are many inches long and I am contemplating just letting the grey grow out and going natural. I would have done it before now but Norm hates grey hair and always talks me out of it.

One positive result of the virus is that my car insurance gave me a 20% discount for the periods of the lock down as we are not using our cars. That was very kind of them, they did not have to do so.

Many of the people in South Africa are still in an agitated state due to the extended lockdown and the fact that the government is treating us like children by telling us what we can buy, when we can buy it, when we can go out, when we are to stay in due to a curfew, when we can exercise, whether we can work and for some, when they can eat. Many of the controls being exerted by the government are rooted in sense, but some are pure nonsense. I have written about the details of this for weeks now so I won’t go into that again. I am mentioning it because it made me think about the Kübler-Ross model of 5 Stages of Grief and Loss. It was designed around terminal illness, death and bereavement but I think it is applicable to this situation too.

  • Stage One: Denial (& Isolation).
  • Stage Two: Anger.
  • Stage Three: Bargaining.
  • Stage Four: Depression.
  • Stage Five: Acceptance.

We all experienced stage one when we went into lockdown and were told how serious this pandemic is. We had no choice over the isolation portion of this stage. We were mourning our loss of normality. We may have been mourning the loss of a friend or loved one or just grieving the loss of human contact. Many people were in denial about the entire situation, trying to label it a hoax or denying the severity of the virus. Many people have been stuck in this stage and are unable to move forward. These are the freedom protesters, the deniers and the conspiracy theorists.

Are those of us in South Africa who are showing our discontent simply moving into stage 2? Many of us want someone to blame. Many people are angry: angry about this virus, angry about our loss of freedom, angry that we are being treated like children, angry that we have had our personal autonomy removed, angry that we have no idea what the future may hold. Angry about the loss of income, or just Hangry. Many people are struggling with addiction, whether to tobacco or to alcohol. The sale of both alcohol and cigarettes has many people up in arms. If we are going to be held prisoner in our homes at least let us self medicate!

Many South Africans are protesting, or bargaining with the government in a ‘ok we will stay at home if you give us booze, ciggies and exercise’. There are petitions circulating for various things South Africans are unhappy about. There is a petition to allow alcohol sales online. A petition to revise the restrictions on when and where we can exercise. Even though it does not affect me I signed the petition to allow cigarette sales. There is even a petition crying out for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to step down, however she is a symptom of the disease of corruption not the source. Well, she is a source but it is like just clipping off one thorn on a rose bush to try and make it danger free.

Many people have already moved into the state of depression. This could be very serious for those who are isolated on their own, have pre-existing mental health issues or have also lost their employment or loved ones due to the virus. I dip my toe into the well of depression regularly but I try and force myself back by focusing on the positive side of things, but for people who are deep into their depression they cannot see anything positive. This is why it is so important to stay in touch with those who may be prone to depression or mental illness.

I also move into Acceptance and then move back out on a daily basis. I understand that the lockdown is for our own safety and then something annoys me and I am right back to Anger. Some people may never make this stage or see beyond their anger or denial. I think we must eventually all accept that this is our new normal for the foreseeable future.

This ‘healing’ process is not always a linear path. At any point you can bounce back to one of the other stages depending on the day you had, the interactions you had or because you experienced a trigger.

5 Stages of Grief: No Specific Order

For those of us who have PTSD from childhood or adult trauma we could be triggered back to those same feelings of victimhood and being out of control of our lives, to feeling like we are just a pawn in someone else’s games.

However we have to keep on moving from day to day, doing our best to maintain our sanity, making sure we keep in touch with friends and family as best we can. Those of us who are lucky enough to be employed just have to keep showing up and doing our best. Even if our current best is not our usual best. Be gentle with yourself and try and find something to make you happy on a daily basis.

I saw this post about the dolphins frolicking about in our bay and it made me smile to be so blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

And a friend shared a video of his son James Dunlop singing on YouTube and his voice is so stunning! It definitely made me smile. I have listened to it so many times I cannot count. Subscribe and give him a thumbs up if you also enjoy it. Spread the love!

We are still trying to be nutritious and eat proper food. It would be easy to descend into living off of toast and endless cups of coffee (if I was on my own it would be peanut butter toast in the morning and fish sticks at night.)

I am trying to keep some sort of soup in the fridge so that we do not just snack on rubbish for lunch. On Sunday I made a pot of broccoli and cheese soup as a bag of broccoli was the last of my vegetables and I did not want it to go off and be wasted. I just boiled the broccoli in chicken stock, then once it was soft I used the blender stick to liquidise it. I then added in a container of cream and loads of grated cheddar and let it all melt together. It was so easy and delicious.

Luckily Norm and I are both still working from home. Norm was due to go on a trip to Kenya this month and we had booked Michelle to stay with me to help with the animals but obviously that trip is cancelled. He is busier than ever and I am so pleased he can work yet still be home with me.

On Monday we were back at work for a full work week after our lovely 3 day week last week and I had both client’s projects moving ahead.

That night I just cooked organic chicken sausages with coleslaw, baked beans and chips done in the air fryer.

On Tuesday Panda was acting like a demon possessed for some unknown reason. When he does this we call it The Zoomies. He ran around like a lunatic and antagonised Pixie until she hid under my desk.

Pixie has a new hiding spot wedged under the stairs and between the wine racks. The things a girl has to do for a bit of privacy in this house! (All of those bottles are empty unfortunately before you call us booze hoarders in a booze restricted world.)

After work Pixie is happy to cuddle with me regardless of whether I want her to or not.

Lola also does not understand personal space. She sat on the keyboard and almost replied to an email from a colleague with ‘zzzzzzzzz’ which could be interpreted that I thought their mail was a bit boring. (It was, but still!)

Most days I have Pixie lying on my feet, Navajo lying next to me so that he is separating me from the dangers of the front door and Lola asleep on my desk.

On Tuesday night I baked chicken pieces. It was all wings, legs and thighs. I roasted sweet potato chunks and mushrooms in coconut oil as I already had the oven on for the chicken. I steamed baby broccoli to go with it.

On Wednesday after work I was incredibly tired and I lay down for a few minutes to close my eyes. I heard scuffling and got a paw upside the head and opened my eyes to these little buggers begging for attention.

I decided I may as well give up on trying to nap and got up to cook dinner. We had a pork roast in the fridge so I coated it with a bit of honey and poured over some teriyaki and a bit of olive oil and added in a packet of mushrooms. Since the oven was on I chucked a packet of chopped butternut in another pan and roasted it in a mix of olive oil and coconut oil.

Once the roast was finished I took it out to rest for a bit while I steamed the remainder of the baby broccoli left from the packet I opened the night before. It looks a bit like a dead seal.

The roast was very tender and the vegetables were delicious. I love getting that bit of char onto roast vegetables as it gives so much flavour.

Norm did a shop on Thursday as we were running out of fresh vegetables again. When he went out to get his mask off of the line he put it on to show the dogs and they went mad! Panda barked, Pixie looked frightened and Navajo ran excitedly in circles.

I had beef mince left over from the last shop and I asked him to buy mozzarella and cottage cheese so I could make a lasagna. At lunch time I made my sauce. I used a base of chopped celery, a carrot and a red pepper then added in an onion once that had cooked a bit. Next I added the mince and once that was browned I added a bottle of tomato passata, a large squidge of tomato paste, beef stock, a dash of Worcestershire and balsamic, and a spoon of sugar to temper the acidity. I let it cook for a few hours while I worked. That evening I then layered sauce, lasagna sheets, cottage cheese, mozzarella and then repeated that cycle. I baked it for about 45 minutes. Only after it was in the oven did I realise that we did not have pre-cooked lasagna sheets, I was supposed to boil them first. Oops. I was worried that would ruin it and we might have cardboard like slabs in the dish but it had enough liquid in the sauce that it cooked the noodles. It was delicious and we have enough left over for a second night so I had a night off from cooking.

I was glad I did not have to cook on Friday as we had made a plan to do a ‘Social Distancing Street Party’ with 2 of our neighbouring houses and at 6pm we toddled outside with chairs and a cocktail and we all sat in a huge circle and laughed and chatted and had a lovely hour of contact with people that we are not imprisoned with. The neighbour’s dogs were all playing in the street and we wanted our dogs to come out but they can be a bit obnoxious to other dogs so we let Pixie out as a trial and she turned into a gremlin and tried to attack the calm friendly little neighbour dog. We ended up having to lock our 3 in the house which was rather embarrassing. I was never the mom with the naughty kids so it is a change for me to be that mom now. Regardless of the dogs we had a lovely time and hopefully we can do it regularly.

Saturday was a beautiful warm day and we just relaxed. I had my coffee on the balcony. While I drank my coffee I looked at the beautiful mountains and prayed to the Great Spirit, Mother Earth and my Ancestors for continued safety of my loved ones and I gave thanks for my many blessings.

We could not be bothered to cook last night so we just had the easy option of fish fingers, chips and beans.

Our Netflix and Prime watch list is a bit all over the place at the moment. We do not have any series which has us both gripped so we are watching a bit of this and a bit of that.

We did start one series last night which looks promising. It is a sci-fi drama called ‘Colony‘ and it is a bit close to the reality we are experiencing in South Africa with the Covid crisis.

It stars the delicious Josh Holloway whom we remembered as one of the main characters from the series ‘Lost‘. He plays Will and the series is based in Los Angeles in the not that distant future. Will is a former military man (who needs to cut his hair) and is recruited to work on the side of the invaders of the ‘colony’ of LA. There is a heavy police / army presence in the colony, much like in South Africa. There is a curfew at night, just like in South Africa. We have only watched one ep but it might be our new addiction.

We both love house remodeling shows and have been watching a lovely little show from Dublin about Dermot Bannon, an architect, and the homes he transforms. It is called ‘Room To Improve‘ and we both really enjoy it.

Norm and I both love Dublin and the celtic sense of humour and Dermot is a charming fella full of the craic. I give the series 4 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We always choose a comedy series to end our night with and at the moment we are watching Friends from the beginning. Norm had never really watched it while I have seen it several times but not in ages so it is fun to see it all again. We have just watched the episode where the show is based in London for Ross and Emily’s wedding. Of course an iconic show like Friends gets 5 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We started another new series called Tales From The Loop.

Tales from the Loop (2020)

“The Loop,” is a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe and the show is about the people who live in the town above the machine. Norm did not really enjoy it but I did so I will watch this one on my own. It is science fiction and a bit odd but I love odd.

For my solo viewing I just finished a sweet little series called ‘Modern Love‘. It was lovely if a bit melancholy in many of the episodes. It is love stories about a variety of people who live in New York. Each episode is a different love story. I give it 4 Kitten Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I sort of randomly watched the Jonas Brothers documentary called ‘Chasing Happiness‘. I say randomly because I did not know it existed I just clicked on the title image and got sucked into it. It starts back when they were wee tiddlers and covers up until their latest song releases. I have to say I did not know about how hard they worked to make it in the business or the issues their family experienced with the church where their father was the pastor and the boys started performing non-Christian music. It really humanises the ‘boys’ and shows them being very vulnerable, open and honest. You do not necessarily need to be a fan to watch it. I give it 4 and a half Kitten Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

Yesterday I watched a very sad but touching documentary called ‘A Secret Love‘ about Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, two women who fell in love when they were very young back in the days when it was not acceptable by society to be gay. In fact the government would raid any clubs where they suspected there were gay people. If women did not have at least 3 items of women’s clothing or had on trousers with a front zipper for example, they would be arrested. Once arrested the newspapers would publish the names of those who were arrested with their place of employment and the majority would lose their jobs and many would be ostracised from their families. It took many years for the law to change to protect the rights of the LGBTQI community. It is only since June 26, 2003 that sexual activity between consenting adults and adolescents of a close age of the same sex has been legal nationwide in the US.

Terry played baseball on the first women’s only team, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). These were the women that the film ‘A League of Their Own’ was based on. Pat played Hockey. The women were together for 70 years and this documentary tells of the challenges they had to go through to be together and films their last few years when they had to go into a care facility due to their deteriorating health. It was such an emotional tale which was probably not a great choice considering my current mental state, but I still give it 4 and a half Kitten Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

We have had some family drama this week. My daughter Caitlin’s cat Scout went missing for a few days and we were frantic he had been hit by a car or injured, especially when he finally returned home and he was struggling to walk and was not eating or drinking. Cait took him to the vet as he was very listless and not his usual energetic self. Scout is the one on the right in this pic taken before he was ill.

Caitlin spent thousands on vet bills to try and determine what is wrong with him. They finally diagnosed him with pancreatitis after doing a scan, many blood tests, urine tests and all manner of things over a series of days at the vet. Luckily he is much better and is eating and moving around much more.

Caitlin also just had a big bill for her car and a huge bill to have work done on her flat. The balcony is allegedly causing damp in the flat below so she is being forced to do repairs.

Lily and Josh are still not able to work as their business cannot open until we get to level 1 and I am concerned about their business surviving.

These are the sorts of worries that keep a mom up at night. I lie there thinking about the future and my children and my mom and my friends and everyone who is struggling and it overwhelms me so much that I have to take my super duper anxiety meds (I take meds daily to keep me in balance but when I feel myself about to go into a full blown panic attack I have to take the stronger one that pretty much sedates me.)

Today is Mother’s Day in South Africa and the USA and I am very sad to not be with my Mother or my children. I don’t care about gifts, I just want their presence. I want a hug.

But from this I gained a lesson. I now know how my own Mother feels every year spending Mother’s Day on her own. She has not had me home for a Mother’s day since the mid eighties and she has never spent a mother’s day with her grandchildren. I feel her pain. I feel the pain of those who have lost their mothers and of those who never had a parent who loved them….so much pain in this world.

The lockdown situation is so hard for so many people for so many reasons. Each of us have our own challenges. Try to be kind to others and understand that you may have no idea what is going on with them emotionally or what their mental state is, you certainly cannot tell just from looking at them or even speaking to them. People can hide so much of themselves, especially the parts of them that are in pain.

Norm did his best to cheer me up. He went to the shop and got a chocolate muffin for my breakfast.

He also got a box of Lindt chocolates from my children and some popcorn for us to chow while we watch a film this afternoon.

Tonight Norm and I are having a zoom meeting with my Mom and all 3 of my children for Mother’s Day and I am sure that will cheer me up no end. We are supposed to wear a flowered headdress so I have to get in the garden and start foraging about for some flowers as I do not have anything like that. I know that is hard to believe since we have 2 crates of fancy dress bits and pieces but I don’t. I also have zero craft skills so the results of my efforts should be amusing. At least our flowers are all blooming from the recent rains.

I hope you are all keeping safe and secure and staying in if it is possible to do so. If you have to go out then please be careful and wear those masks and disinfect everything before you bring it into your home.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x

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