Surviving self-quarantine requires a flexibility of spirit. One quickly learns what is essential to living and what can be done without. Dave and I? We’re set. We’ve got beer, toilet paper, and mealworms.

Hell, I’ll eat anything. But I won’t be caught during nesting season without Studley Windowson’s favorite food. Chickadees gotta eat.

In early March, when we were just getting an idea what was coming, a friend did me a favor. “You have enough mealworms? Because you might not be able to go to the store whenever you want.” Oh shit! We stocked up. Turns out you can buy mealworms online, of course, just like everything else. “I’ll take 500,” I typed, and a week later a small box marked LIVE ANIMALS landed on my porch.

I should have remembered you can buy grubs by mail. I delivered plenty such packages. It can be ominous. You get a parcel stamped LIVE ANIMALS and it makes a dry, rattling sound when shaken, you’re best off leaving it on the porch, ringing the bell, and running like hell. If they don’t see you, you can blame it on your replacement carrier.

This box was fine. I’m not sure what I expected. When I buy them in the store, they come in a ventilated plastic tub with wheat meal. Inside this box was a simple cloth bag with a drawstring, and inside that were my five hundred mealworms, naked and in zippy condition, congregated around a piece of crumpled-up newspaper. I decided to decant them into a cottage cheese container so I could keep them in the fridge. Next to the beer. Refrigerated mealworms are less motivated to beetle up.

They didn’t exactly pour out. Lots of them were pretty attached to the newspaper. I got the bright idea of upending the bag over a colander and batting at it until they dropped, and then transferring them to the tub. It was going pretty well. Except the bottom layer of mealworms wouldn’t slide out.

Because they were poking themselves through the holes in the colander. From underneath, it looked like the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Why, my friend asked, with that look that people often give me, didn’t you use a bowl?

Shit, I don’t know. Might as well ask me why, when I’m hopping around trying to get my sock on and I crash to the floor, I don’t let go of my sock. People have asked me that. It’s the same answer. Shit, I don’t know.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind I made a connection between the little ventilation holes you have to have in the worm tub and the colander holes. I don’t always think things all the way through. Anyway, after an entertaining five minutes or so of playing Teeny Tiny Adorable One-Finger Whack-A-Mole with my colander, I got them all into the tub. You know, probably.

And Studley is all over it. He and Marge have eggs cooking right now and within a few days it will be Peep City, Start Up The Gravy Train. Meantime, he’s hauling worms off to Marge about as fast as we can pinch them out. He’s got skills. If we’re twirling our fingers in the wheat meal trying to scare up a worm–they hide–he gets impatient, lands on the side of the tub, and spears three invisible worms at once. He’s learned to hover like a hummingbird in front of a window if he sees us indoors. He’s the best damn bird in three counties and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.