COVID Blues and Quarantine

Sedum adolphi ‘Firestorm’.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I don’t know about your thoughts and experiences, but things are weird… I have ordered a few things on Ebay now and then since COVID-19 started and they came through just fine. I decided to order some “dirt” from a seller on Ebay that lives in Arizona. Well, it isn’t just any dirt. It is Sonora Desert Dirt for the cactus. Anyway, it was supposed to be here on January 11 and here it is the 21st and it still hasn’t arrived. The tracking information on Ebay hasn’t been updated since January 7 which says, “Processed through USPS facility Phoenix, Arizona.” I put the tracking number in on the USPS website and it was last updated on January 11. It says, “In Transit, Arriving Late. Your package will arrive later than expected, but is still on its way. It is currently in transit to the next facility.” At the top of the USPS website, it says, “ALERT: USPS IS EXPERIENCING UNPRECEDENTED VOLUME INCREASES AND LIMITED EMPLOYEE AVAILABILITY DUE TO THE IMPACTS OF COVID-19. WE APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE.”

What does “LIMITED EMPLOYEE AVAILABILITY” mean? I ordered another item from a different seller the same day that was shipped through UPS. It was delivered to the local post office and arrived on January 12. Often something shipped through UPS gets dropped off at the local post office for them to deliver which started happening last year on occasion. I read somewhere UPS is also delivering some packages for the USPS. SO, “WHERE IS THE DIRT?”

I was curious about the issue, so I typed in “USPS delays” and found this article submitted by NPR… You can read it by clicking HERE. GEEZ! So, I will just be patient. The dirt isn’t going to rot. When I was waiting on Tony’s plants to arrive from California, they were delayed somewhat. I took the tracking number to the local post office and the guy there looked it up for me. I thought maybe he would have better information. Well, that wasn’t the case. He told me then that a lot of the items aren’t even getting scanned as they travel through the system…

The article says that there are several reasons for the delays, mainly due to the impact of COVID-19. Even though USPS has hired 100,000 new workers, many employees and their families have contacted the virus. People shipped a lot more packages over the holidays, and A LOT of those Christmas gifts haven’t even arrived at their destination. All the important mail is also delayed…

It isn’t just the mail that has been affected. In some instances, people are back to work as usual while they try to implement social distancing and by wearing masks. I filed for unemployment benefits online but had an issue so I went to an office 28 miles away… I hadn’t been there for several years and found out they moved in 2017 to a different location. The other office was much bigger and there were a lot of employees. The new office is very small and there were only four people working. I had an issue, like I mentioned, and had to call the regional office from the phone next to the computer I was working on. There was an issue getting my computer to do what it was supposed to so the agent I was speaking with just did it from her end. I was a federal employee last summer as an enumerator for the Census Bureau, so we had some difficulty… That all started on November 13. Each week since, I have been putting in my work searches as I am supposed to… My claim and weekly filings are still processing. I called the regional office several times and they say they are still waiting on the federal office to respond (since I was a federal employee). Well, I decided I would call the Census office. The guy I eventually spoke with asked if I had worked in 2019. I haven’t been “employed” since 2014 except for working five hours a week cleaning the church… He said I wouldn’t be eligible for benefits until maybe June or July anyway (forgot what he said) when the third quarter begins… HMMM… I am 60 and trying to find a job is NUTS! He said I should work online from home… I will continue to file my weekly claim until I am told I have been denied…


Quarantined plants…

A FEW MONTHS AGO… I noticed the Aloe called ‘Blue Elf’ shipped from Succulent Market had bugs… I moved it away from the other plants and gave it a good dose of spray. I sprayed it every couple of days, washed it a few times (even the roots) and put it in new soil. As I was doing that, I noticed ‘Blue Elf’ was not a ‘Blue Elf’… Oh, it is not in the above photo because it is in a different room…

I kept an eye out on the other succulents, and within a day or so of when the “Blue Elf’ wannabe was infected, the Aristaloe aristata from Succulent Market also had bugs… Not only that, the older Aristaloe aristata also had a few! The Gasteria sp. had a few bugs but its leaves are very hard so they were easily removed. There were some sticky patches on the Aloe maculata, x Alworthia ‘Black Gem’, and x Gasteraloe ‘Flow’ but I didn’t see any bugs. I sprayed them and moved them to a table away from the other plants. I have had them for quite a while and never had any bug problems. Then I noticed some of the small offsets from x Gasteraloe ‘Flow” also had a few so I moved them to the kitchen…

Older Aristaloe aristata…

The older Aristaloe aristata had some earlier difficulties from being repotted in a pot that was too big. Over the summer it did much better after I put it back in a smaller pot and was getting along fine. Then it got bugs… I have sprayed it several times but I don’t remember if I washed it or not… The bug problem with this plant is not getting better. They got worse and this plant may ultimately die… I washed each leaf of the newer plant individually right down to the base which is not easy… The older A. aristata didn’t have that many bugs at first and seemed to be getting better. Today it looks terrible so I sprayed it again and when I finish this post, I will wash the old girl. I thought I already washed it before, but seeing it this morning makes me wonder. I probably didn’t because it wasn’t this bad before…

Two of the five plants from Succulent Market are in my bedroom and one is in the kitchen. None of them have bugs…

The bugs are either white scale or mealy bugs. It is hard to determine because I have never had white scale before so I am not sure what they are supposed to look like. I rarely ever have bugs of any kind, but last fall the Stapelia gigantea had a few on the tips of their stems. I just removed them and that was that. Mealybugs may look different on Aloe because of the gel inside the leaves… Not only that… You know how ants “farm” aphids? Well, there were ants crawling on the leaves of the Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ wannabe several times. WHERE IN THE HECK DID THEY COME FROM? None of the other plants have had ants… The bugs now are kind of gooey and when I rub them between my fingers it looks and feels like sand… Well, it isn’t the bugs that are gooey. The bugs pierce the leaves of the Aloe and secrete the goo (sugar) which is what the ants on the Aloe were after. Ants will actually take the insects, such as aphids, and put them on other plants…

I am not blaming the plants from Succulent Market or Nico, but it is just suspicious the first plant to have the bugs was the Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ wannabe… I emailed Nico and he apologized and wanted me to send photos. I took a lot of photos at the time but they were too blurry to make out.

Brown scale (?) on the Kalanchoe x laetivirens

Today I also noticed some weirdness on the Kalanchoe x laetivirens (Mother of Thousands). I have had this species for YEARS and never had any issues… I may just remove the leaf…


If the Kalanchoe luciae gets bugs I would never notice. Their stems are white and chalky which look like a bad infestation of bugs…


As I walked past the sliding door in the dining room, I noticed Simba was taking a snooze in one of the chairs on the back deck. Well, he saw me and came to the door. I wanted to get a photo of him, then we had company… The cats aren’t too happy with me lately. Dad always fed Friskies cat food then we switched to Kit and Kaboodle. They seemed to be OK with it at first and what they didn’t eat the raccoons and opossums would finish. Last year I was given a bag of Purina Complete that a friend’s cat wouldn’t eat. Normally, they buy small bags but they had bought a larger bag which must have lost its ZIP so they gave it to me for my cats. They thought it was AWESOME! So, I started buying Purina Complete. Cat food has been something the Dollar General has been having issues keeping stocked since COVID. I have no idea what cat food has to do with COVID, but that was their excuse several months ago. Anyway, I brought home another bag of Kit and Kaboodle last week and the cats weren’t at all happy. They looked at me like “what is this?”

The above photo shows Simba and Little Bit talking over the issue and Suzie walked over to have a look. Suzie told Simba and Little Bit that wasn’t their pan.


A few days later I bought another bag of Purina Complete and mixed the two together. They would pick out the Purina and leave the Kit and Kaboodle… I moved the feed pans and Simba decided to check “his” pan. He doesn’t eat with Suzie and Barn Cat but he shares his pan with Little Bit and the younger tom cat. The younger tom cat didn’t show up today…


He said, “oh, what the heck…”


Old Barn Cat decided to come and see what was going on…


The Barn Cats gets pretty friendly when she is hungry or is hoping for a treat… I could never touch Barn Cat for years until one day she just decided to get friendly. She is always eager for table scraps which the cats don’t normally get… Her and Suzie are very old…


Suzie decided she needed a drink…


Barn Cat decided she would nibble a little since there was a little Purina in the pan…


She really isn’t hungry, though… Probably just bored and waiting for better food.


Getting a good photo of Little Bit is very difficult because she won’t stop moving. She likes a lot of attention sometimes.


Jade prefers the solitude on the front porch and doesn’t like the drama from the other cats. She gets along OK with Little Bit and the younger black tomcat. She thinks Simba is a bully and I am not sure what she thinks about Barn Cat and Suzie. She doesn’t want to talk about them and just gives me a blank look when they come around. Sometimes she will be on the side porch waiting to come inside and they will come when I open the door…

Well, I better get off here. A friend had his gall bladder removed today and I have to his farm for a little bit. Something about a few chickens got out and I have to put them back in the chicken house…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be thankful and GET DIRTY if you can…

11 comments on “COVID Blues and Quarantine

  1. says:

    Hey, Rooster:  Can you refer me to someone who’s an expert on growing Epiphyllum — and making them bloom?  Thanks!  Dave in Houston

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Dave! Funny you should ask… Tony Tomeo just sent me a box of them on December 16. I don’t know anyone right off that is an expert but there are several great videos on YouTube. Most all of them use their own potting soil recipes but I just used half Miracle Grow Potting soil and half 1/4″ pumice. Most of them are doing great. Here is a link to the post:

      Did you get some? You might message Tony to see if he has any pointers. I hope you are doing great! Has spring arrived in Houston? Take care and thanks for the comment!


  2. Littlesundog says:

    I too have found the USPS to be the slowest delivery and it is true they don’t keep updates on location current in the system most of the time. UPS told me that they have been having the traffic that they would during the holiday season (Thanksgiving through the New Year) and have not hired extra people. I have also noticed where packages would reach Carrolton TX, then to OKC, then go back down to Carrolton TX, then to OKC, and then to Weatherford OK. Normally, it would just go from Carrolton TX to Weatherford. Ridiculous! Our FedEx is probably the best service we have here. I have not noticed any delays with them.

    Great cats! That is a LOT of cats! How did you fare as a chicken wrangler? Ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Laura! Until a few years ago, local post offices used to do their own sorting now all the mail goes to a different facility to be sorted. So, if I send mail to someone in town it goes all the way to Columbia then back here. It is NUTS. Local sorting would certainly alleviate some of the problems. Just wait until the hatcheries start mailing day-old chicks and plants start being shipped this spring. It is not going to be good…

      Luckily there are only 5 cats now compared to over 20 when I first came back in 2013. I bought them a bag of 9 Lives this evening and they appreciated that.

      The chicken round up was no problem because I went there just about dark. 6-8 were by the front door of the chicken house and two were roosting on something at the back of the house. I first opened the door and shaved two inside then I was going to shove the rest inside but a darn old goat ran into the chicken house. I chased the other goats away and ran the one that got in out. They are a real pain in the neck! LOL! I have to do his chores for a few days since his surgery. I have been around thousands of chickens so they are no problem. Goats, on the other hand, are a different story. He has Pot Bellied pigs,too.

      Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. tonytomeo says:

    I could not help but notice the deck outside. What are redwood decks make of where there is no redwood? Is redwood lumber imported? I noticed decks in Oklahoma that seemed to be made of fir, but I know they were made of something that is more resistant to rot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Tony! The deck is probably made of treated pine. I haven’t used Redwood since the 1980’s. An old friend of mine used to make bird houses and bird feeders out of Redwood and he had to go to the city to get the best quality. I always thought the Redwood came from California. Believe it or not, when I was a kid I mowed a yard with a Redwood in the back yard. It is still there and it is HUGE now. I think I mentioned that to you before and we got in a Redwood discussion… 🙂 Been there, done that. 🙂 The plants you sent are doing great except for the red. One piece is still hanging on but it hasn’t rooted or rotted. I am sure it is dormant and doesn’t want to root now. I am not watering them because I don’t want them to rot and they look great. Thanks again for sending them. Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonytomeo says:

        Yes, redwoods there are giant redwood, which is different from the coastal redwoods that are harvested for lumber here. Coastal redwoods do not tolerate cold weather or strong wind, and most certainly do not tolerate snow. It was very windy on Monday, so we will be cleaning up redwood debris for weeks and months, and repairing roofs. Several cars were ruined, and at least two homes in the neighborhood. I will mention it on Six on Saturday.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. pixydeb says:

    Hi Rooster -it’s certainly a different world now. Lots of things don’t seem to work as they used to because of Covid. Sometimes it’s the direct effects but also People are scared & others Grieving and so they are understandably not the same. Here numbers of deaths still rise every day. it’s hard to get used to everything being chaotic. I was talking to a friend & we are both trying not to get wound up any more but just to roll with what happens – it’s not at all easy tho – at least we are still here eh!🙂 Hope you get your benefit claim sorted soon
    Lovely to see all the cats and Suzie is so pretty- beautiful markings. The exact same thing happened to me with the cat food. A friend whose cat died gave me a huge bag of expensive dry food (I usually got it from the supermarket) and now Hector is hooked. He won’t touch his old brand he happily ate for 8 years! 😳
    Keep safe

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Debbie! There are certainly a lot of mixed emotions about the virus and even the vaccine. It seems the world is in disorder. The whole election and what is going on with politics is just NUTS. I don’t like getting caught up with it, but then hear stuff from friends and my sister and I get drawn in… Whatever the truth is, it is not good… We may have a guy in office that is not supposed to be there. I just prefer to stick to my blog and updating the pages and doing the best I can. Cats are definitely weird. I bought them a bag of 9 Lives a few days ago and they seem OK with it. Susie is a very sweet cat but she is getting old. She will sneak in the garage sometimes and go to sleep so if he doesn’t show up to eat I just raise the garage door and she comes out. The raccoons have completely disappeared and I haven’t seen any in months… Life goes on… Stay positive and hang in there. Thanks for the comment!


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