Sew, sew, sew your boat…

By Mir
April 17, 2020

… through the quarantine.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
life has lost all mean(ing).

Oh, hello! I was just slowly going insane on account of I’ve been home for approximately seven years and also in the… less than a month… since I last wrote, I’ve sewn somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 face masks. I would love to tell you I’m getting better at it, but instead I will tell you the truth, which is that I am getting better at swearing a little less each time the machine jams or I otherwise manage to screw up somehow, and most of the masks I make actually look like masks. So I guess that counts as better, right? In that case I’m totally getting better!

Chickadee was sewing with me, in the beginning, but she got bored and/or found better things to do, so lately it’s just been me. Cut, cut, cut. Sew, sew, sew. Iron, iron, pin, pin, sew some more. Would you believe I didn’t even know how to thread a sewing machine before all of this happened? True story. Here I am with my new skill of Can Sort Of Use A Sewing Machine Now, which shall surely net me billions once this whole thing is over.

Okay, so the obvious good news is that we are home and safe and not sick, and because Otto is salaried it isn’t catastrophic that my livelihood more or less evaporated a month ago, and if we DO get sick, we all still have health insurance. These are all good things for which I am thankful. On the other hand… boredom and anxiety and lost livelihood and grumpy adult children and uncertainty and lots of compulsive sewing because the part of my brain which is a border collie says GIMME JOB OR I EAT THE CURTAINS so my job now is making face masks because it’s a task I can perform and feel like I’m doing something.

In talking on the phone to my dad the other day, he asked what I’ve been doing. “Sewing, mostly,” I said. “Pretty much all I do is sew anymore. Sometimes I read. What else is there to do?” He suggested I could blog.

“That’s a great idea!” I said. “‘Today I sat on the couch. Then I sat at the sewing machine. After a while I went back to the couch. Later, I had a snack.’ I SMELL A PULITZER.” Dad thought I was pretty brilliant but I have to say I think he might be a little biased.

Fortunately, I do still have children. Remember when they were little and hilarious and used to give me all my content? Now they are larger and hilarious. I asked for permission to share this story, which maybe won’t be as funny to you as it is to me, but I really need a break from sewing so here we are.

Chickadee has a lovely girlfriend who we shall call Sunny, on account of her sunny disposition. Poor Sunny was supposed to be studying in Australia this semester, but thanks to the plague and all, the girls said what I can only assume was a very tearful goodbye back in February only for Sunny to spend just enough time in Australia to acclimate to the time change before the whole semester was canceled and everyone was told to go home. So hey, good news: Sunny is home! Except, bad news: we’re all stuck in our houses and Chickie is basically being tortured with the knowledge that her beloved is five minutes away but they can’t see each other.

Thanks to technology, they’re still able to talk/videochat/Netflix Party/whateverthehellelse pretty much 24/7, so don’t feel too sorry for them. (Also, since Sunny had to do an honest-to-God quarantine isolation after returning from abroad, they did see each other for one afternoon when that was over, before we went under a state-wide shelter in place order.) ANYHOO—young love, blah blah, romance in the time of coronavirus—what do two otherwise bright and reasonable young women smitten with each other decide to do during such a time as this? ADOPT A CAT, of course. As one does.

First it was this idle conversation about “what if,” and then somehow that escalated to the discovery of The One True Cat on the local shelter’s website, and as it became clear that this was actually happening, I had a lot of questions. Most of them were things like, “Did you fall and hit your head?” and “You realize you two don’t live together and P.S. you’ve been dating for like, five minutes, right?” Supportive stuff like that. It’s not that we don’t adore Sunny, because we do. But I’m sure as hell not having a cat live here and the rapidly increasing references to “our child” when discussing this cat were concerning me a little.

Well, it turns out that Sunny had had a cat at school before, and she’d been thinking about getting another one, and really this would be her cat, only it’s THEIR cat (“our child”), somehow, I don’t know. Once I confirmed that said cat would not be coming to MY house I waved my hand and wished them good luck. The whole country is locked down so what could happen?

I’ll tell you what could happen. Sunny and Chickadee could put in an application for that damn cat, who happened to be in foster care because the shelter is closed, and a few days later, Sunny went and got the cat. They were suddenly parents, and apparently I have a grandcat now.

Now, I’m not a cat person, not really, but this cat is very pretty. And from what I hear she has a nice personality. But her former owners loved her very much in the form of, I think, feeding her as much as she’d like to eat, so this beautiful cat is also quite… round. Sunny has put her on a diet. I tell you this because the cat was listed on the site as being named Tinkybell (no, not Tinkerbell, but TinkYbell, which somehow is so much worse), a really dumb name anyway, but you have to imagine how much MORE ridiculous it seems when it turns out the cat in question is not at all tiny-fairy-like but, in fact, almost perfectly round. The girls had planned to rename her, but then learned she was an owner surrender and this has been her name her whole life (rather than a case of the shelter just making up a name for her). When I pointed out that cats don’t really know their names (or if they do, they don’t care) I was seen as denying her true identity, or something. I don’t know.

But. BUT. Tinkybell. Ugh.

I needn’t have worried, though, because it wasn’t long before Sunny sent Chickadee a video filled with laughter about how she was calling the cat out from under her bed, using a variety of variations of her name, you know, Tinky, Bell, Stinker, etc., and somehow from out of her mouth came: Tonkybonk.

And—of course—that’s when the cat came to her.

I now REFUSE to call the cat anything but Tonkybonk and view this development as nothing short of revelatory, and YOU SHOULD SEE CHICKIE’S FACE every time I use it. It’s priceless. To her this cat is her tiny, perfect child, and I am somehow maligning her perfection by calling her Tonkybonk. I, on the other hand, think this is the greatest cat name in the history of cat names, especially when the cat in question looks like a Mac truck with tortoise fur. And I’m pretty sure Sunny is calling her Tonkybonk, too.

So. I have been doing very little beyond sewing but now you are going to want to find yourself a small yet rotund animal to name Tonkybonk, I bet. You’re welcome.


  1. Becky

    This made my day!!! Tonkybonk… btw, the correct cat-term is “chonky.” But Tonkybonk works great!

  2. Laura

    We called our cat Tinks.
    That’s short for Tinkleschitz.
    You don’t even want to know how she earned that name!
    Congratulations on the new grand cat.

  3. Julie

    Cats most certainly know their names! Ours (I swear) responds with a meow every time you say her name, no matter how many times you do it.
    And we all need a pic of Tinkybell!
    (Thanks for the AWESOME mask, it’s been well used)

  4. Brenda

    Tonkybonk feels appropriate given how wonky the whole world feels right now. I have no sewing machine, but I found some fabric I have leftover from when my mom helped me sew a costume on her machine, so I shall attempt to sew myself a mask or two by hand.

  5. Niki

    That may be the greatest cat name ever. And I have to tell you to be glad that everyone is living where they are. My kiddo, who was living in an apartment with their ex-GF (weird, but they decided they knew they could live together, so why not get a new apartment together AFTER they broke up rather than find new roommates?), suddenly found their immunocompromised self with a roommate who was NOT following social distancing guidelines at all. Kiddo ended up moving self and dog in with fairly new, very patient boyfriend In his tiny apartment, and has been there for over a month. Fortunately selfish ex-GF is going home to mom and dad’s for the summer and kiddo gets their apartment back soon, and BF gets his apartment back, and they can get back to their newish relationship.

  6. Karen Reznek

    Pictures! I need pictures!

    • Derpson

      I am pretty sure you’re obligated by law to post cat tax pictures if a cat is mentioned! :)

  7. Rachael

    Okay. I was SO COMPLETELY thinking that I needed to get a new cat and name it Tonkybonk before I even read the last line. Next cat shall heretofore be named TONKYBONK. I predict that by the end of social distancing there will be at least 10 Tonkybonks in the country. We should have a club.

  8. Genevieve

    This is the happiest I’ve ever been about a cat.

  9. Lindsey

    That is the best cat name I’ve heard of – and my cat is Porkchop!!!🤣🤣🤣

  10. Philippa Connell

    I love Tonkybonk!

  11. Derpson

    You are wonderful and I laughed out loud at two points in this post. I don’t laugh out loud easily! Please blog more, we all need your lovely presence in our lives too. Even if it’s derpy minutiae from sitting on the couch doing nothing.

    Also, Tonkybonk, bwahahahha. I LOVE IT!

  12. Chris

    Agree on cat name and request for pictures. Also if there was ever a time to start a blog streak – this is it – I am just saying.


  13. Brigitte

    I want to say something brilliant about Tonkybonk and honkytonk, but my brain cells are uncooperative at the moment.

  14. Little Bird

    I told my mother the story about the cat, saving the name until near the end. She loves it! Much laughter. And we both want pictures…..

  15. Another Dawn

    I named my first cat Tinkerbell, I’ll have you know. In my defence I was only three at the time. I hope Tonkeybonk has a long and happy life.

  16. Mary K. in Rockport

    We currently have one unfortunate cat. We acquired her when her young owner was leaving for college, and her parents said, “We’re not keeping that cat.” She is very pretty, fat, and has an unpleasant disposition. She still does not like us after 1 1/2 years in our household. Her name is Kitten. When the Princess Cupcake was rejected by her then owner, no one got around to giving her a name, so she remained “the kitten.” She rejects all affection and bites. Our program of gradually warming her up is going nowhere!

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