To me, there’s no question that we need to be strong at this time. We have to gird our loins, so to speak, and prepare for a difficult economy, more sickness, horrible election politics, and, possibly, developments that we do not like occurring in our government.
During this time, we must help others as much as we can, especially in our own realms and our own communities. I’m donating almost daily to my church’s Little Free Pantry and encouraging others to do so. If I see cases where I believe in the organization and its power to directly assist others, I’ll donate. I’m open to doing more.
Today, however, I’m thinking about a side effect of the pandemic that is not entirely related to economics or health. I really do grieve a bit that children probably will not be in classes with other children and teachers this fall. My little granddaughter positively shined in that environment, and I regret that she may be limited to online relationships with a teacher and only seeing a few close family friends.
Presently, I am writing about my early years of college teaching. Thanks especially to social media, I am still in touch with quite a few of my students. I see how their families are doing, and we exchange good wishes from time to time. I buy products from some who are in business and support some who are writers. Back when they were in school, they were in my classes, participated in clubs where I was the advisor, and came to me for academic and occasionally personal advice. A few even traveled with me to conferences.
My good friend and colleague is a biology professor. She has earned an extended family of students because in addition to being their advisor and participating in the department’s social organizations with them, she travelled with them not just to conferences where they presented posters or papers, but also to Beliz, Kenya, Nepal, and other countries. Many of her students do consider her a family member and interact with her regularly.
Online instruction is not a bad thing, and it provides educational opportunities to many. I actually like teaching college classes online, which I began doing long before I retired and have been doing exclusively in the six years since then. The online classes can be very organized and help the students be organized. And in most cases, the students do all their readings because they can’t hide behind the student in the desk in front of them as they might in a physical class.
But I have only developed a relationship with a few of my online students. The rest are just taking care of business and don’t really want to bother. The ones I do develop a bond with are more like my good social media friends whom I’ve never met. It’s a one-dimensional relationship. I always wonder what they really look like and sound like and, even though they write introductions describing themselves, what they really do in life and what the communities are like that they are from.
I’m not sure what the effect will be if colleges and universities have to go entirely online for the fall or longer. Everyone’s health will be protected, and the schools will suffer economic hardships, those two things are sure. But for a career in college teaching, one needs to experience the lives of students first-hand to understand the sustaining, human aspect of learning and education. I hope face-to-face classes will be able to resume soon.
I used to read that psychologists and scientists who were developing drugs would use cats in their experiments because, psychologically, cats have some traits similar to those of humans.
As I am observing my two cats, I wonder what we can learn today.
Background: One of our cats, Sister, was in a litter born out in the woods surrounding our house. We think the father was the gray tabby whom we fed but who never would let us come near him. We named him Jeff. The mother was a pastel calico we just called Mama Cat. One kitten, whom we named Cory, for “Wrong Way Corrigan,” was left behind crying behind our house when Mama Cat moved the litter. My son trapped him with tuna, he was dewormed, and he became an indoor cat. He actually was afraid of the outside. Later, Mama Cat returned with the rest of the litter and nursed them in our front yard for a long time. She became friendly enough to feed and pet. Then the only one left was a pastel calico kitten we named Sister. We had two indoor cats (from shelters), and Sister did not want to come in while they were there. After they died, she came in, checked the place out, and stayed; but she went outside daily through a cat flap. She is what our vet, Critter Fixer Country Vet Ver nard Hodges, calls “a very vocal cat.”
After about seven years, we heard a kitten crying under the car that I had covered and wasn’t using very often. Another cat checked on it now and then, but the kitten stayed under the car. We fed it. Finally, Cory went to the back door and meowed and meowed, and the kitten, who is a small, smooth-furred, gray-striped cat, came in. She didn’t trust us a bit. She and Cory became friends, and Sister did not like her. Pounce was spayed, she recuperated in a spare bedroom wearing a collar, I fed her, and she began to want me to pet her a little. Now she’s domesticated, though both she and Sister disappear when we have company.
This year, Cory died of stomach cancer, so now the only two cats inside, and allowed to go outside, are Sister and Pounce. Sister became overweight during the time we were trying to get Cory to eat, and she always has been prone to hiss or grumble at little things. If Pounce, who lost a friend when Cory died, comes near her, she gives a big hiss and a yowl. No actually fighting yet, that I’m aware of.
For a while, Sister took the couch in the spare bedroom as hers and glared at Pounce from there. Pounce slept on the end of my bed many nights. Then Sister came in my room, checked the place out, and established herself at the foot of my bed. I mean, she has been napping there all day and night.
The new development: I petted Pounce before I went to bed last night, but thirty minutes later, she was crying in the kitchen. I got up, sat a few minutes, gave her a treat, and went back to bed. She cried again in a few hours and jumped on my bed. Sister hissed and Pounce got down and left. Pounce cried again around 6 am. I got up late as a result of all this, took care of some errands, had breakfast, and went to work on my writing. Sister had not returned to my bed. Then Pounce began going into my room and crying plaintively. She did it three times in a row, so finally I went in there and let her sit on my lap for a while. She got up grudgingly, but did not cry again. The last time I looked, Sister was back on the couch in the spare bedroom, either in a huff or depressed or both, I’m sure.
Can you see why I have titled this “Cats and Humans”?
Observations on the subjects of friends, family, country, cultures and nature.