Quarantine Day 27 and a Half.

Day 27 of our quarantine. We have not left the house in almost a month. Things are starting to get monotonous. Not in the way I thought they would.

But do you know what’s funny? My dogs are doing just fine. They aren’t even suffering. Life hasn’t changed much for them. They still chase cats. They still eat random piles of cat poop. They still take time out of their busy schedules to pee on important trees.

We have lots of local feral cats, and whenever my dogs see a cat, they bolt after it, howling, kicking up dirt clods behind their back feet. Even if you happen to be holding the leash.

My dogs never catch these cats, but they never give up either. And I admire this. Sometimes I wonder if dogs aren’t smarter than we are.

So it’s not that I have cabin fever—though I do—it’s more than that. It’s that I am going out of my freaking mind. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not Joe Extrovert, I am definitely the kind of guy who could lock himself in a room and read books until his 80th birthday.

And I don’t mean good books, either. I’m talking about books that cost a buck from the drugstore clearance bin. Books like, “Cowboys and Vampires Break the Davinci Code While Losing 30 Pounds with Suzanne Somers!”

For 27 days, I’ve read enough cheap drugstore books to sink the U.S.S. Wisconsin. Also, I’ve been piddling a lot. Piddling is a lost art, but I’ve found that I’m pretty good at it.

I can putter around the house, doing ridiculous tasks with the same level of importance you’d use to perform neural surgery. I cleaned my workbench, for instance. I tested a few cordless drill batteries. I spent an hour separating bolts from screws, then tossed them all back together again. I took down the Christmas lights. I finally got around to watching “Doctor Zhivago.”

I have been playing a lot of radio while I piddle in my garage. But the radio is a joke. There is nothing good on radios anymore. Have you noticed this? It’s like the local DJs know nobody is listening so they don’t even try anymore. Here is a radio dialogue excerpt:


But the radio is better than the newspaper. I can’t read newspapers anymore.

I am getting really proficient at clipping my toenails, too. Which is not an easy skill for a long-legged guy like me. Some folks are short-legged, or flexible. These people can clip their toenails without issues. But me? I have to get into a special chair, hike up my right leg, contort my body, rearrange my liver, say the Lord’s Prayer, three Hail Marys, and hope I don’t pull a groin.

Yard work doesn’t suit me. We have a funky yard because I have neglected it for years, so now it resents me. Sometimes my yard tries to grow, but this is only because it’s codependent and doesn’t know what else to do with itself. One day I just know my yard is going to get angry enough to confront me.

I guess what I’m saying is: I don’t know how my dogs do it. How can they enjoy being so lethargic? How do they stick to a strict regime of sleeping, eating, and scratching on the bathroom door when I’m doing my business? How? I wish I could love it the same way they do.

There’s something beautiful about their approach to life, if you ask me. They have the ability to enjoy everything. I’ve been home for 20-some-odd days, and I’m starting to grow moss on my hindparts. But my dogs are completely happy to keep doing this for the rest of their lives.

I see contentment on their faces, and I am jealous. They don’t need much. They are happy to be with just me, even though I’m nothing to write home about. They are satisfied relaxing on the sofa, thrilled to be eating the same nightly supper for the next 15 years, and they love sitting in the backyard. And do you know what they do in the backyard? Nothing. They stare at the sky. That’s all.

Sometimes my dog Thelma Lou simply sits in the backyard and stares at clouds for 20 minutes on end. I enjoy watching her do this because I could never sit still this long. At first I thought she was a little “off,” but now I know better. She is very “off.”

But she is also wiser than me. Sometimes, I sneak up behind her and join her in this reflective moment. I drape my arm around her. She is usually so engrossed in what she sees that she doesn’t even notice me. What does she see up there? What does she know that I don’t? What does a dog feel?

Somehow, I think my dogs were sent to earth to teach me to learn how to just be. Not to succeed, or to become more than what I am. Just to exist. This is usually the moment when I’ll kiss my dog on the snout and hug her.

And this is usually when my dog sees a cat, runs for parts unknown, rips my shoulder from its socket, and leaves me lying on the ground in a coma.

I don’t know if I’ll make it 27 more days.


  1. Lita - April 13, 2020 7:35 am

    I love this post. Like you, my husband has been ‘piddling’ around the house, too. To be honest, I was slightly concerned when you said you’d been piddling a lot. Piss and piddle are synonymous in our neck of the woods. Now I’ve learnt it has an alternative meaning, I’m going to have to use it socially just to see the look on people’s faces. If, that is, we’re ever allowed to socialise again before the end of time.

  2. G - April 13, 2020 8:37 am

    I’ve been doing this quarantine stuff for almost twenty years. It’s easy when you’re disabled. Not fun, just easy. 😀

  3. Lucretia Jones - April 13, 2020 9:04 am

    Thank you, Sean, for sharing your 27 days. There is a peace in your words for me. Lucretia

  4. ANgel Alexander - April 13, 2020 11:46 am

    Thanks for helping me get through another day with a few laughs. Having trouble finding enough things to laugh at. Guess I,Ll have to finally clean out the closets and do some paperwork!! Yuck!

  5. marilynsartblog - April 13, 2020 12:42 pm

    I for one cannot say that I have been bored or that I mind staying at home. I still may not get everything I want to do in a day accomplished but there is always tomorrow. I enjoy the time I have for crafting, painting, watching a little Netflix or Prime. I feel more relaxed and ready to start the day with whatever I want to do. I think I feel like your dogs. ( Ours like to chase birds, butterflies, and bees). The only thing I really miss is my kids, grands and friends and HUGS!

  6. Robin B Kidd - April 13, 2020 12:48 pm

    So true, love my dogs, their jobs will never be furloughed!:)

  7. Curtis Lee Zeitelhack - April 13, 2020 12:58 pm

    We live on the outskirts of a large city in the desert – a coyote desert – a bobcat desert – a javelina desert – a cactus of all shapes and sizes desert – my dog is interested in it all, but she can only skatter the quail, root around in the bushes for lizards, or gallop hard after the cottontails that find their way into our back yard through the view fence. No cats that venture into the wilds of this desert survive for very long – too many coyotes. So my dog does not get the pleasure of chasing cats. Sometimes she stands still with her tail up and watches the birds flying. At least I think that is what she’s watching. Inquiring minds want to know.

  8. Betty F. - April 13, 2020 1:00 pm

    Great observations (once again)- good way to start the week. We almost got blown off the map last night in Northeast Georgia but everything looks the same except greener. The power is back on so I can sit and read you with my cup of coffee in hand on day 30 here. Glad someone else has to perform gymnastics to cut their toenails- keep it up! It doesn’t get easier with age. 😬

  9. Jan - April 13, 2020 1:22 pm

    I can remember a time in my life, long ago, when I could just sit and reflect on the world, life in general (or the clouds in the sky). Unfortunately, I now have that adult disease called “life anxiety” (by me) which means that if I just sit for more than two minutes I become very “antsy”. When I was a child during the ’50’s, we lived in a small town but on the main road through town. I spent many days lying on the cool tile of the front porch watching the cars go by and keeping count of the colors or types of cars/trucks that passed our house. Now, if I sit for more than 5 minutes with nothing to do – no book to read, no beds to make, etc. – I go slightly bonkers. Thanks for another great read Sean!

  10. Molly - April 13, 2020 1:29 pm

    Love,love,love every word!! All truth!!

  11. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - April 13, 2020 1:35 pm

    Last night I finished reading your most awesomest book “Will the Circle be Unbroken” for the 2nd time. I’m still getting work so my reading time is limited. In between the 1st & 2nd reading I read a book my daughter brought home about a Boston Terrier that served in the Army in WW-I. A true story, the dog served in France smelling the poison gas the Germans used & warning our soldiers. “Stubby” was highly decorated & got to meet Generals & Presidents.
    I think I enjoyed “Circle” even better the 2nd time & I’m sure I’ll read it again.
    Love, Steve

  12. Dana Qualls - April 13, 2020 1:48 pm

    You are a bright moment in my days! Thanks for sharing your stories. Keep piddling!

  13. Bobbie E - April 13, 2020 2:00 pm

    Today is day 30 for me, same as Betty F. , and I too was in the midst of the storms last nite outside of Atlanta. Thankful to see the sun, have power on, my coffee and your column to read and encourage, bring smiles and/or tears. I can so relate to your observations about your dogs. They are amazing ! Lucy (15 lb Shih-Tzu) has been my faithful companion for five years now. I’ve also wondered if she’s smarter than I am. Dogs have a sensitivity and love that’s not available in humans, in my opinion.
    Looking forward to your new book. I’ll be getting it for Mother’s Day. Can’t wait! Hang in Sean. Every day is one day closer. I know there’s going to be lots of good that will come from this virus.
    Blessings to you and Jamie, Thelma Lou and Otis. We should learn from them and keep looking up🙋❤️

  14. Julie - April 13, 2020 2:15 pm

    Lovely column, as always. Made me think of Billy Collins, a poet/humorist, who sometimes writes about the inner lives of dogs and cats. Here is one of his poems, “Dharma” https://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php%3Fdate=2010%252F06%252F05.html
    A darker (but still funny) one is called “The Revenant.”

  15. Allen Berry - April 13, 2020 3:06 pm

    I feel you. The solitude is starting to get to me… to the point I’m getting kinda hostile. Another few days of this, I’m likely to start bitin’ people.

    As a former radio guy, I mourn the loss of quality programming too. I blame automation. We lose a lot when we when make things too easy, too convenient.

    I think maybe Dogs ARE smarter than us. They seem to have it all figured out. I’m thinking of gettin’ a dog. I sure haven’t had any luck with women … tired of getting my hopes up. This last one convinced me there is no hope at all. Leastwise where I’m concerned.

    Hang in there. You’re in good company.


  16. Linda Moon - April 13, 2020 4:31 pm

    Wait….if the dogs never catch the cats, doesn’t that make the CATS smarter than the dogs? Many years ago, my newly-wed husband and I watched “Dr. Zhivago” at a drive-in theatre at 3:00 A.M. I’m glad you finally watched it. But…back to the cat vs. dog intellect. Your two dogs and my two cats should get together and then maybe we’ll find out who’s smarter and more huggable. My bet’s on the cats!

  17. Tom Harris - April 13, 2020 5:14 pm

    Loved the column and am a long time reader. Did you know that “piddle” has more than one definition. Grab a dictionary and check it out.
    T Harris

  18. Larry Hataway - April 13, 2020 6:51 pm

    I live on 15 acres outside of Mobile I retired after 35 plus years of welding and repairing tractor/trailers. I figured if I didn’t have to leave this 15 acres 3 fish ponds deer and squirrel compound I would be a very happy man if I never saw another human and could play my guitars I would be a still happier man BUT I was wrong my wife ex infectious disease expert has had us on quarantine for 6 weeks before it got officially quarantine. What I miss is the going and coming when I want to now I can’t without written permission.

  19. catladymac - April 13, 2020 8:31 pm

    Actually, except for chasing cats, most of what your dogs do is – um-very catlike.

  20. Bill prather - April 13, 2020 9:53 pm

    U need to discover that magic elixir, gin and tonic
    Bill in blue ridge

  21. Gordon - April 13, 2020 11:19 pm

    Sean-It’s been a while since I heard anyone use the word “piddling”. My Father used it a lot during my growing up years. Thanks for bringing that word and my Father back to my mind on this quarantine Monday afternoon.

  22. Linda Jo - April 14, 2020 1:01 am

    In my next life, I want to be your dog!

  23. Melanie - April 14, 2020 2:36 am

    Sean I just finished your book “Stars of Alabama” and enjoyed it so much. If you’re bored you can get started on writing the sequel. ☺️ Thank you and try not to drive Jamie crazy.😉

  24. Donna McPherson - May 24, 2020 4:11 am

    “Cowboys and Vampires Break the Davinci Code While Losing 30 Pounds with Suzanne Somers!” LOL I’m losing it over here! Your book sounds like some made for TV movie I would watch right now! I SO needed to read this. I’m a touchy, feely, middle of the road kind of girl (not extroverted but definitely not introverted either). I’m losing my ever loving mind because of this whole virus thing right now! Lord help us all!


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