Staying in touch

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“Are ya workin’ hard or hardly workin’?  Neeeeee-iiiigggghh!”

That’s our favorite line from the animated movie “Onward,” which our family has watched about 4.8 times in the last few days.  (The voice behind the words belongs to — what else? — a mustachioed centaur.)  It definitely seemed like a line we all needed to repeat, many times, and then video ourselves saying.  So we did just that.  And then we texted the video to my sister and her family on Easter morning.


I wrote yesterday that the kids have sure been missing their big cousins.  Nate and Tay — my nephew and niece — are hunkered down with their parents 70 miles east of here.  We haven’t seen them for over a month, which is unusual and not much fun.  Though the two teenagers are doing school online, they’re technically not “in school.”  And all their sports have been cancelled for this season.  The thing is, normally, when these two aren’t in school or playing a sport, they’re hanging out with us here at the ranch.  So it’s been especially weird knowing they’re not busy BUT can’t be here.

So our family is doing what so many people out there are doing through the Coronavirus shutdown:  We’re staying in touch by smartphone.  We talk for real sometimes, but mostly we send a lot of pictures and videos back and forth.  It’s been good to keep in touch with them as they document all the ways in which their life has been disrupted since COVID-19.  For instance, 16-year-old Nate was supposed to attend the prom (with an older girl!), but the prom was cancelled.  He got all dressed up anyway and sent us a picture:


I am pretty sure that’s NOT REALLY what he was going to wear to the prom.  Nate’s a pretty big goofball, but I think even he would have to draw the line at showing up to the prom wearing this outfit.  I mean, where did he even get those white tennis shoes?  (The long permed hair is real, though — all the cool kids are doing it.)


And 14-year-old Tay, her traveling volleyball season was canceled.  AND track season ended before it started.  Still, the school asked the kids who had planned on participating in track to take pictures of themselves hunkering down; the pictures will appear in the track season portion of the yearbook.  I thought she ended up with a really nice one:



They’re getting pretty good at staging hilarious costumes and skits to keep us entertained.  On Easter morning Sue videoed Tay pretending to be asleep… and then jumping out from under the covers to yell HAPPY EASTER!  (Five-year-old Marsi still startles every time she watches the video.)

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This next still shot comes from a video that Nate sent tonight, in which he is obviously wearing a pillow under his shirt and singing some song which apparently is going viral, about Carole Baskin (owner of Big Cat Rescue; subject of the Netflix show Tiger King; suspected of killing a husband and feeding him to the tigers):

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(People seem to be getting weirder the longer we’re all socially distanced, agreed?)


From our end we share with Nate and Tay and their parents updates on Grandma and Grandpa, who live close to us.  Here’s Grandpa watching a “cow show” with Muggins…


And Grandma dying eggs with the girls…



Sometimes Tay styles her mom’s hair and sends me pictures of the end result.  Sometimes her mom sends me videos of Tay rocking it on the keyboard (she had never played until this COVID-19 break from school, but after years of playing guitar and bass guitar she’s learning keyboard fast).  I can’t wait to hear her in person!

Sometimes Tay and I just send each other selfies to let the other one know we showered today:



One thing hasn’t changed, and that’s how handy it is to have a doctor in the family.  Sister/doctor Sue often gets pictures like this from me via text:


(I pulled two wood ticks off of Marsi’s head late last week, and a couple days ago noticed the lymph node behind her right ear was very swollen, sore, and red.  She had a low fever too.  What to do when in doubt?  Take pictures and text them to your sister for advice… especially if she’s an MD.)

(Marsi is going to be fine, by the way; she started on antibiotics today.)


In conclusion.  Today, if you’re having a hard time seeing the humor in hunkering down, be like us and text a picture of a physical anomaly to a loved one.  OR stuff a pillow in your shirt.  Or act out a parody.  Play an instrument.  Order a pair of white grandpa shoes off the internet, and when they come in the mail, dance with your dog.

If you can’t think of anything else, put your index finger under your nose mustache-style and say this:  “Are ya workin’ hard or hardly workin’?  Neeeeee-iiiigggghh!”

Betcha can’t do it without cracking a smile!

© Tami Blake

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