Stay a cow length apart


I live in a region where social distancing signs are as likely to tell you to stay “one cow apart” as anything. Around here it’s a solid unit of measure. Young and old equally understand it. It certainly helps me.

I became aware of my own complete inability to understand spatial relations when I realized that I saw 6 feet (recommended social distance) as more like 30 feet. Of course, some of that may just be my desire to avoid crowds at all costs and never let anyone too close in public. That was true even before the pandemic. I’m not a germaphobe. I’m just anti-social.

Speaking of the pandemic, perhaps you’ve heard of it? I tend to keep to myself on the subject. I go along and mind my own business. However, some things just need to be mentioned.


Voting by mail confuses me. I get the appeal, but this must be the construct of urban folk with very reliable postal service. As a rural dweller for whom the postal service has been hit (literally, like with a snowplow) or miss, I do not have the same faith.

I think the U.S. Postal Service means well. I just know that they, like all of us, are human and don’t always get it right. Some of the proponents of voting by mail have never repeatedly fished their mail out of the ditch and it shows. I prefer trundling off to my local precinct to vote where I say hey to the neighbors, sign in on a book, and color in the circles that are then scanned into a machine. Sometimes there is pie.


When I do go out, I wear a mask because it’s been mandated in our state. In addition, I honestly think it’s kind of interesting to be allowed to walk around in public looking like I am preparing to rob a stagecoach.

That said, I don’t police other people if they don’t wear one. In our state, there are a host of exemptions to the mask mandate.  Running around monitoring the actions of others just isn’t in my wheelhouse and certainly not something I find enjoyable.

Personally, if I see someone not in compliance with our state mandate, I find it helpful to think the best of people and assume that they know their exemptions better than I do. I find that keeps me relaxed and out of judgment. I am working on “smiling with my eyes” so I can look somewhat friendly even with a mask on — but not too friendly because I don’t want to be mistaken as someone who is approachable.

Businesses of all sizes are doing their best. If it isn’t up to your standards, consider staying home.


People, I am not even by a long shot super smart when it comes to science. Nonetheless, I am flummoxed by the run on disinfectant wipes. I have had to explain to grown folks that those products are not intended to be used on skin. I have had to explain further that hand sanitizer is basically rubbing alcohol.

The good news is the coronavirus dissolves easily in good old fashioned hot, soapy water. You don’t need to bleach and chemical blast yourself and your surfaces — you just need to use the same tools our great-great-grandparents used to clean: soap, water and, as my great-grandma would recommend, some “elbow grease” for good measure.

I do not want to give medical advice without a license, so I will cite a source just to be on the safe side of history: “Soap molecules disrupt the fatty layer or coat surrounding the virus, ” says Dr. David Goldberg, an internist and infectious disease specialist at New York-Presbyterian Medical Group Westchester. “Once the viral coat is broken down, the virus is no longer able to function.”

I mention this just in case you have been panicked you cannot find disinfectant cleaners and wipes. Yes, the virus is scary, but it can be defeated for the most part with 20 seconds of suds.

So my advice is to break out the suds, smile — even if no one but you can see it — and take a deep breath. Do the latter as long as you are somewhere between 6 and 60 feet from people or, at the very least, one cow length apart.


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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