Where I am at.


I got a call yesterday from our township clerk asking if I was still available to be a poll worker in the upcoming April 7 election*. I was hesitant but finally agreed to work. I asked about the disinfectant procedures she plans to have, but I was less than impressed by her answers. Maybe she was feeling pressured to get the polls staffed rather than being nonchalant about spreading the virus; I hope that is the case.

The more I think about it, though, I become less and less confident that it would be okay. There are still no cases of coronavirus in our county nor in the counties to the west and east (advantage of living in a relatively sparse area) and only 4 cases in the county to the south. But it is only a matter of time until Polk County gets infected, or, probably more accurately, cases are diagnosed.

In this morning’s news sweep I read about a man in his 50s whose only underlying condition was high blood pressure. He died from the virus. Smokey and I have multiple underlying medical conditions, he more than I, and why take the chance?

I think I will call her back and quiz her some more.

Edited to add: I just made the call to decline to work. Listening to that inner voice that said it was too dangerous.

Ways to help — an off-the-top of my head list:

  • Donate to your local food shelf.
  • Donate to your local Salvation Army.
  • File your taxes now instead of waiting until July. States will need that April revenue bump to keep doing what they need to do during this crisis, and sales tax receipts are way down.s?
  • Keep checking in with friends, particularly those who may be at higher risk.

Have you seen news coverage about Elmhurst Hospital in Queens? Elder Son did rotations there during medical school. I remember him telling us that the area surrounding the hospital was the ethnically diverse square mile in the US (maybe the world?).

How about a video of some sheep?

Take a roller coaster ride down a Swiss mountain.

Nextdoor, the social network known for sniping neighbors and obsessive concern about package theft, is helping neighbors be neighborly during this pandemic.

Not all the elderly are dying.

“More than half a million people responded to the UK government’s call to become a volunteer for the National Health Service.”

3-D printers to the rescue!

Cautious optimism mixed with dread in Washington state.

Protecting and empowering your family during the crisis.

A St Paul neighborhood exercises together every day.

Let’s end on another high note, ‘kay?


* In Wisconsin the spring election is when we elect people to *non-partisan* offices — state supreme court, county board of supervisors, school boards, city, village, and township offices. While those races may have been non-partisan back in the day, that is no longer the case. Now candidates are fully identified as conservative or liberal, although there is no party designation. Some candidates go so far as to refuse help from political parties, trying to maintain the illusion of non-partisanship. That is not necessarily a good course of action, given 2019’s supreme court race, where the liberal candidate distanced herself from any party beginning with D… and she lost.

Posted in Coronavirus | 7 Comments

Let’s have some good news, shall we?

These are all taken from today’s edition of The LilyLines, published every Thursday by the Washington Post.

“I’m 72 with significant blood pressure issues. I’m, therefore, in that unenviable category of being at highest risk. I’ve been in lockdown now for a week. My neighbors have kept me sane and stocked with food. They’ve also set times to come out on their porches while I stand in their yard, and we talk. My best friend and I share a daily phone call at the time we would most likely be going out to dinner. These are the people and the things that will get me through.”

“Random acts of kindness are all around us — in nature. This morning, the songbirds returned to the woods and sang for us, the wind blew and brought in a hint of spring. Nature is always there for us. Let’s keep a promise to give back. We are all in this along with the planet, the stars, the future.”

“I decided to order takeout to do my little part to help support local restaurants. I ordered through DoorDash. Unfortunately, no driver ever showed up to the restaurant to make the delivery. I called the restaurant and offered to pay for the food and have the owner take the food for his own family. I explained that I didn’t need the food but had ordered it just to support his restaurant. He was having none of that. He insisted on bringing the food to me himself after the restaurant closed. And he did just that … and more. When I looked through my order, there was something extra. It was sticky rice with sliced mango around it, like a flower. There was a note in marker scrawled on the top of the box that said, ‘Thank you so much for your support. :)’”

“A teenage boy in our church has been struggling with a brain tumor. He cannot have visitors, obviously. The members of our church and his friends in the community decided to show him love and support last night by doing a ‘drive-by.’ Hundreds of cars drove slowly past his house in the dark tooting their horns. How encouraging that we can still find creative ways to reach out to each other!”

“My friend Heather texted me to check in. She manages a local Starbucks and asked if we could use some coffee. As parents of two young girls (2 and 4) trying to work from home for the first time, of course we needed coffee! She asked about our preferences and promised to drop off a pound of freshly ground coffee that afternoon. When I opened the door to her package, I found not just coffee, but a ‘self-isolation survival kit’ complete with activities for the kids, a mini daffodil plant, a bottle of wine, scratch-off lottery tickets and other treats. I was so grateful, I teared up. It felt like a big, warm hug to know that someone had thought about our whole family and was taking care of us.”

“My husband is a Vietnam veteran. He belongs to a group that meets for breakfast every Thursday morning at a local restaurant. Since we have been asked to stay home and all restaurants and bars are closed except for takeout, the Vietnam veterans’ organization that he belongs to has devised a way for the men and women who usually attend the breakfast to donate tips that will be sent to the waitresses that take care of them on Thursday mornings. These men and women who served our country are continuing to serve their community.”

“While having some routine blood work last week, my 96-year-old father-in-law mentioned to the nurse that he and his wife had only one roll of toilet paper left at home and could not find any in his neighborhood supermarket. He asked her if she knew of a place he might go to find some. She said she did not. That evening, just as he and his wife were finishing up dinner, there was a knock on the door. It was that same nurse with a large package of toilet paper. She and her friend searched at least 10 stores until they found what he needed, and would not take a penny for their troubles. How wonderful some folks are!”

“Recently, a Girl Scout mom delivered cookies to our home after I ordered via text. She had just been to the grocery store and was thrilled to have found a multi-pack of disinfectant wipes. When I asked her where she found them, because I hadn’t been able to find any, she thrust a container into my hands. I tried to give her cash, and even to return a box of cookies. She wouldn’t take any payment and said, ‘This is a time when we all need to be kind.’”

Aaannnnddddd… it wouldn’t be a Kat™ blog post without some links.


And finally, my prediction — remember, you heard it here first: when the stay-at-home mandates begin to be lifted, the Goodwill, Salvation Army, and thrift stores will be overwhelmed with donations after the nation just spent week/months cleaning out their closets and attics and garages.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Inane blather.

This gave me chills.

From a daily regional newsletter:

“This is the first day of Wisconsin being under a shelter in place order. Restriction of movement like this is one of the big guns that has to be used in a pandemic. Think of it as a real life appearance in a low-grade slasher movie and being told there’s a killer on the other side of the door, so just sit tight for awhile and don’t make things worse.

“And yet, just like every other low-grade slasher movie, there’s always the one guy who says after 10 minutes, “I can’t take it anymore,” opens the door and runs outside, exposing more people to danger.

“This time around, that one guy lives in a nice white house where sheltering in place should be easy. He can tweet to his heart’s content from the Lincoln Bedroom rather than cram 10 people around a podium as a contagion rages silently from host to host.

“The lesson here is don’t be the freaked out guy in the low-grade slasher movie. Be the hero… by merely sitting on your tuchus and binge watching a few things… right after we check the headlines… which include an overnight deal to provide help to Americans and the business world.”

bill gates

“Bill Gates — who now leads a global health foundation — rebuked Trump’s approach in an interview: ‘There really is no middle ground, and it’s very tough to say to people,“Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner.” ‘ ”


Got kids that are going stir-crazy? Here is some help from Minnesota Public Radio.

Our days here at Chez Kat™ are not significantly different than before except that I have more time — no in-person meetings, no annual dinner to help plan, fewer Zoom meetings and webinars.

Last week when shit got serious I found myself reading and knitting during the day — for years I only read in bed at night and I only knit while watching TV in the evening. Those were big changes for me, made at a time when everything in the world seemed crazy. But I have since reverted to my previous habits after the crazy became the new normal.

I might even get some long-postponed projects done, like cleaning and organizing my home office. That process has started. I emptied out a pile of boxes — hello Goodwill! —  and used the space for a 2-drawer filing cabinet. Next is to move out the printer stand beside the new file cabinet and replace it with two more cabinets like the first one. Those have been sitting empty for ::counts on fingers:: at least ten years. Smokey had plans for them that never came to fruition. The printer stand will go into the laundry/craft room to replace the third filing cabinet that currently has the little beverage refrigerator on it. Having the three filing cabinets in my office will allow me to empty and remove the five (5!) plastic file totes currently occupying a large portion of the floor. They are past treasurer files for the congressional district Dems, the county Dems, and M, who ran for the our seat in Congress in 2018. There is also a rolling file rack that has this year’s congressional and county Dems treasurer files, plus treasurer files for the Friends of the Library. (I resigned from the library board of trustees and the Friends last month; finally admitted that I was over-committed and needed to back away from something. So those FotL files will go away… just as soon as the #saferathome statewide order is suspended, and the new treasurer and I can go to the bank.)

Once the office is reconfigured I will make an effort to clear at least part of my desk so I can do our taxes. There is a pile of knitting 🧶 books that I weeded from my collection that I plan to sell — cheaply! — on the blog and on Instagram. Stay tuned.

I am kind of excited about this project. It fits with what the counselors and shrinks are saying: find a project that interests you — learn a new language, paint your kitchen, organize your garage — and use this time to accomplish it. It’s good for one’s mental health!

And now I shall do some laundry. I haven’t actually caught up completely since I was sick back in mid-February…

Posted in Coronavirus | 4 Comments

The Kat™, she blathers on…


There is some good news.

How soap works to *kill* viruses.



I'm bored

… not to mention that the guy on the right is losing $400+k in revenue every day from his should-have-been-divested golf resorts, hotels, and restaurants. (source: Washington Post article I read yesterday) Think that has any effect on his decision-making?


Posted in Coronavirus | 5 Comments

Marble racing.


Also, how to stay sane.

Posted in Coronavirus, Silliness | 3 Comments

Wisconsin governor just issued a #saferathome order beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24.

WI drop-dead date

I suspect he may have seen this graphic at https://covidactnow.org/ 

Posted in Coronavirus | 7 Comments

Fiber fun in the time of coronavirus, with apologies to Gabriel García Márquez.

In the interest of keeping all you locked-down, quarantined, sheltering-in-place folks amused, I have foregone fiber links today in favor of more Instagram screenshots, this time those suitable for fiber Monday.



Oh, heck, here are some fibery links as a bonus.

This might just be the perfect quarantine stashbuster knit.

Myrna Loy crochets.

I dare not show this to Smokey.

The story of Fair Isle.

Hair products are useful in knitting.

When you want your yarn bomb to be subtle.



Posted in LInks knitting | 3 Comments

Blather, con’t.


From the Washington Post:

“Ways to ameliorate the economic effects of the virus while still practicing social distancing.

“Our economy run s on mutual interdependence. As we spend time in self-isolation, let’s think about all the people who depend on us to make a living: the Lyft driver, the dray cleaner, the child-care provider, the barista at the coffee shop. As everything from sports games to evenings out with friends gets canceled because of covid-19, economic activity is grinding to a halt.

“People are starting to practice not only social distancing but also economic distancing, which leaves a lot of people — especially the most economically vulnerable — in the lurch. It’s easy to feel powerless watching the human toll mount. What can we do to make a difference when we’re stuck at home, disconnected both socially and economically?

“First, if your own income is secure, you can redirect funds you would have been spending on commuting, movies or restaurants to those who don’t have the privilege of a steady paycheck or stable housing. As schools, where up to 20 million needy kids get lunch, close and parents lose child care, and as workers lose their income, the most vulnerable families face immediate challenges meeting basic needs. Local charities that are picking up the slack need donations (cash, not goods) now more than ever. You can find local food banks and homeless services at ImpactMatters, which has identified high-impact organizations in 44 cities. Right now it’s vital that we create economic connections through the safety net in our communities.

“As bad as the coronavirus has been in wealthy countries, it will likely be much more devastating in poor countries that have worse health-care systems. In many places, social distancing is not even an option. Imagine how quickly the virus may spread in a crowded refugee camp without adequate hygiene and sanitation.

“Organizations such as the International Rescue Committee already have the infrastructure and expertise in place to help when covid-19 spreads through crowded refugee camps. Donating now can help them prepare and prevent further tragedies for those in refugee camps. A reputable medical charity such as Doctors Without Borders or Partners in Health can use donations to buy supplies and staff up for the pandemic.

“What about a global charity that reduces economic distancing without increasing social distancing? GiveDirectly has a unique model, one quite appropriate for this context. They send money via mobile transfers directly (and quickly) to low-income households. And they are evidence-backed, having conducted several randomized evaluations with Innovations for Poverty Action to validate that the money goes to good use. Since the coronavirus cannot be transmitted over the phone, it’s the perfect socially distant/economically close charity for the occasion.

“Third, think about other ways you may be economically distancing yourself in your daily life. You can try to reverse or make up for it, if you can afford to. If you go to a restaurant or coffee shop and notice how empty it is, you can leave a large tip. If you have a house cleaner, tutor for your child or anyone else you don’t need services from now, consider continuing to pay them, if you can. If you aren’t dry cleaning clothes for work, but always meant to get the curtains or tablecloths cleaned, now’s probably a good time if you want your cleaners to still be in business when our normal routine resumes. These may seem like small actions, but they add up (and right now they are adding up in the wrong direction).

“Obviously not everyone has the luxury to take these actions right now. But those who have the means to weather the storm can help reduce the economic impact on those who do not. Even at a time when you may be physically more isolated than ever before, you can maintain economic connection to those who rely on you, and create new connections to people from around the world who need your help.”

Personally, I have bought gift cards for two local coffee shop/restaurants that I like a lot. Tomorrow I will probably buy another one from the teeny coffee shop in my village.

Coronavirus blather in bullet point form.

  • Find out the point of no-return for intervention to prevent hospital overload in your state. Sadly, that date has passed for New York and Washington states.
  • Younger Son continues to FaceTime us.
  • The virus has not been diagnosed yet in my county nor in two of the neighboring counties.
  • The county immediately to the south of us, home to many who commute to the Twin Cities, has 2 confirmed cases.
  • Four ways to help prevent loneliness while you are social distancing.
  • Lots of links to patterns and video tutorials on how to make a face mask.

In the words of Red Green, “Remember, I’m pulling for ya. We’re all in this together!

Posted in Coronavirus | 2 Comments

More blather about the coronavirus.


Some terms get tossed around a lot these days. I thought I would get some definitions.

Essential services.

From Huffpost, 3/20/20:

“But what is considered an essential job or service? Here at HuffPost, we’ve been asked about laundromats (yes) and hardware stores (yes). Although the list may vary according to local concerns and the nature of a given event, disaster or pandemic, here is a general idea of what’s considered “essential” in emergencies, according to various governments, including San FranciscoMiami, New York state and Miami-Dade County:

    • Gas stations, auto supply stores, auto repair shops and related facilities
    • Pharmacies
    • Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks and convenience stores
    • Liquor stores
    • Restaurants (only for delivery, takeout and drive-thru)
    • Hardware stores and plumbers
    • Contractors and other tradesmen, appliance repair personnel
    • Exterminators and other service providers
    • Landscape and pool care businesses, including residential landscape and pool care (Kat™ note: Srsly?)
    • Construction sites and engineering and architecture firms
    • Banks and related financial institutions including insurance and accounting services
    • Phone and computer sellers
    • Community benefit organizations on a case-by-case basis
    • Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers
    • Healthcare providers, hospitals, clinics and healthcare operations including research and laboratory services, medical wholesale and distribution, and dentists
    • Businesses that provide shelter and/or social services
    • Newspapers, television, radio and other media outlets
    • Businesses offering mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
    • Airlines, taxis and other private transportation providers
    • Home-based care for seniors, adults or children
    • Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, adult day care centers and senior facilities
    • Pet supply stores
    • Veterinary offices
    • Police stations
    • Fire stations
    • Building code enforcement
    • Jails
    • Courts
    • Garbage/sanitation and recycling services
    • Public transportation (Muni, BART, subways)
    • Utilities (water, power and gas, telecommunications)
    • Certain city, county, state and federal offices
    • Funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries
    • Maintenance staff, cleaners, janitors and doormen
    • Manufacturing including food processing, chemical, pharmaceutical, agricultural, paper products, safety and sanitary products”

Watching Trevor Noah’s Daily Social Distancing Show on IG I learned of another essential business that can remain open: marijuana dispensaries. Sadly, they are not legal in WI so I cannot partake, but perhaps some of you can.


“Underlying health conditions”

From nbcnewyork.com, 3/18/20:

“Aside from just older adults overall, the CDC says those who suffer from “serious chronic medical conditions” are at higher risk of getting very sick, hospitalized or even dying from coronavirus. Examples of those conditions include heart disease, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and lung disease.

“Heart disease and lung disease are general umbrella terms used to describe different maladies that could effect those organs, according to the Mayo Clinic. Heart or cardiovascular disease could include things like arrhythmias, congenital heart defects, or anything that involves narrowed or blocked blood vessels. The latter conditions can lead to heart attacks, chest pains or strokes.

“Similarly, lung disease refers a variety of illness that could plague the lungs over long periods of time, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis or pulmonary edema, among others.

“The coronavirus is not unique in seriously effecting those who have any of those conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. People with those conditoins will be impacted more severely by any respiratory illness, like influenza.

“The reason why older adults overall — not just those with the other conditions — have a tougher time with coronavirus is simpler: their immune systems are not as strong as younger people’s. But anyone whose immune system may be weakened or compromised (such as those going through cancer treatments or with autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, HIV, inflammatory bowel disease) are also at an increased risk.”

This has been a public service announcement from your local Kat™.


Elder Son called tonight. Among other things he told us he has a new routine when he comes home from work at the hospital. He calls his partner to say he is leaving, and she opens their garage door so he doesn’t have to touch the doorknob when he gets home. He undresses and puts all his clothes in a plastic tub in the garage, then goes straight to the bathroom and takes a shower. When the garage tub gets full ES washes the clothes so she never has to touch them. Prevention!

He was originally scheduled to attend training on something or other in Florida this week, so he had no patients or clinic shifts scheduled. When that training was cancelled because of the pandemic, he suggested to his medical director that perhaps he could spend the time reading medical journal articles on the virus and summarize them for the staff. So he is extremely well-read on the subject right now. Research has always been his forte.

He talked about the situation at the Zuni hospital where he works. There are 43 cases in New Mexico, mostly in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas. There are none confirmed at Zuni, but they have tested five people and are waiting for results. Also, a few weeks ago one of the docs took it upon himself to look at the readiness of their ER. He inventoried their practices and equipment and spent a week at an ER in Albuquerque to observe. His efforts uncovered three ventilators at the Zuni hospital in addition to the one everyone knew about and improved the general procedures. Way to go!

Younger Son has been sheltering in place all week in Minneapolis, and I think he needed some non-physical socializing, so he FaceTime-d me later in the evening. I may be a bit of a geek, but somehow I had never used FT. It was great! We chatted for well over an hour. It was pretty much exactly like sitting around the kitchen table. If you and your friend/relative both have Apple devices, I highly recommend it, particular in these days of isolation.


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Humor and thought from IG.


































Elder Son is a family practice doctor.




the_blueboys are two pit bull terriers who live in Australia with their hilariously funny humans. You can find them on IG, Twitter, and Facebook.





Posted in Coronavirus, Instagram, Silliness | 3 Comments