Sunday, March 26, 2023

Big Boi's special dinner plate

Can a plastic dinner plate be ephemera? One of my arbitrary rules for ephemera is that it counts as ephemera if you can fit it in a 9x12 manila envelope. So, at 8 inches wide, I think the plate pictured above would count. It's ephemera. So I'll write about it.

Let me backtrack a bit. This morning's post got me thinking about the evolution I've gone through during the pandemic. During the first year or so, especially when we were living in Pennsylvania, I was very focused on observing and feeding the wildlife in our backyard: the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and night-time raccoon invaders. We spent a lot of money on peanuts.

Once we moved to Arizona, though, things changed. Now I have officially become Crazy Cat Dad. We have some semi-feral cats roaming our neighborhood, and once we became aware of them, they quickly became aware that I'm a sucker who will give them food in an attempt to help and befriend them.

So that's mostly why, as I write this, there are 19 cats inside my house.

In my defense, five of them are houseguests who are here temporarily from Washington state.

So my true level of Crazy Cat Dad is that I take care of 14 indoor cats. That's a much more reasonable number, right?

On the other hand, I'm currently feeding a total of 25 cats:

Indoor permanent residents (14): Banjo, Titan, Monkey, Orange (Mommy), Toffee, Panda, Bandit, Smoky, Spice, Autumn, Nebula, Bounds (Osmond Portifoy), Socks and Dusty.

Indoor houseguests (5): Pengin, Phantom, LP, Ice Bear and PT.

Outdoor tomcats (4): Big Boi, Creamsicle, Fjord Nubbins, Doppler (Ratto).

Outdoor female who had kittens a few days ago (1): Mamacita (Mommycita).

Outdoor female who is going to give birth any day (1): Cirque de Soleil.

That's 25, right?? It gets more complicated by the day. I don't know where Mamacita's kittens are, which makes me sad. But she stops by most nights for short visits and I try to give her priority feeding because she's nursing. She really loves cheese.

I am really, really, really hoping that Cirque has her kittens here in the yard, so I can help and protect all of them. (And eventually get them adopted out, so the feral community doesn't continue to multiply any more than it already has.) We might try to trap her, but (1) we're already dealing with a lot of cats, (2) recent trapping attempts have gone badly (for me).

So that brings us back to Big Boi, who we've known since around January 2022. He's the King Tomcat of this territory. He is a large boy. Big Boi and Orange are the parents of Toffee, Panda, Bandit, Smoky, Spice, Autumn, Nebula, Bounds, Socks, Dusty, Pengin & Phantom. Big Boi is also likely the father of Creamsicle, Fjord Nubbins, Cirque de Soleil and possibly even Doppler, who is now among the younger males trying to usurp him. 

Big Boi, once the toughest dude on the block, has taken a beating in a lot of fights lately and is starting to show his age. So I try to give him special treatment. For awhile, the sides of his head were so raw that he had trouble eating out of the plastic bowls we put outside. And that's where the plate comes in. It's much easier for him to eat from a plate than a bowl. So, rather than use one of our good plates, I got a special one for him through Shutterfly. It has a picture of him that was taken last year, when he had two good ears and far fewer scars.

He just sits by the door when he's hungry. I'll take his special plate outside, show it to him and talk nicely while dishing out the food. Then he comes over and eats happily from it. 

Yes, this plate would fit in an envelope, but I hope I don't have cause to put it into one for a long, long time.

Ephemeral reminder of what we've been through

I spotted this on a sidewalk in Chandler, Arizona, yesterday and snapped its picture for posterity. We obviously will have no lack of somber reminders in the coming decades of what the COVID-19 pandemic, which is now more than three years old, has wrought. It's had one of the most devastating impacts in American history. (And, to be clear, the pandemic is not "over" until its end is declared by the World Health Organization, something that is tentatively expected to happen later this year.)

One of the small things we'll remember are these "keep your distance" circles that were ubiquitous in grocery stores, public spaces, checkout lines, etc. The circles themselves will fade, peel away and vanish over time. Photographs and memories will remind us of them. 

Twitter, if Elon Musk doesn't complete its destruction, offers a fascinating repository of the psychogeography of COVID-19, especially on the hashtag #covidstreetarchive. It is filled with vernacular photos of signs, graffiti, displays in front of homes and businesses, empty streets and buildings, discarded masks and gloves, and more. (I'm sure there are other similar hashtags.)

Papergreat pandemic posts, from oldest to newest

In curating these, I was fairly stunned to discover that, before today, my last post to mention COVID-19 was on August 21, 2021, and my last post to use the word "pandemic" was on September 13, 2021. Of course, I took a long break from blogging and have only had about 120 posts since autumn 2021. But I think it's still curious and notable that I've not used those words in posts.