Dog costumes, gelatin, and science experiments: Mount Pleasant residents make the most of quarantine

It’s been over a month since the State of Michigan began to shut down and the realities of life in quarantine are beginning to sink in. Without work to occupy their time, some in the Mount Pleasant community are cultivating new skills and hobbies to keep the boredom away and make the most of social distancing restrictions and the shelter-in-place order.

Jessica Kroll, a bartender at the Green Spot Pub, has been spending quarantine with her 8-year-old Boston Terrier mix, Ellie Mae. Spending more time with her pup gave Kroll the idea to combine her love of crafting and Halloween to create fun costumes for Ellie.

Ellie poses for a picture dressed as Carol Baskin from the recent hit Netflix documentary series “Tiger King” in Mount Pleasant.

Out of a variety of fabric, ribbons, gemstones, yarn, old t-shirts, and acrylic paint, Kroll has created over 20 costumes — ranging from a ladybug to Batman to the Pope — for Ellie while in quarantine and doesn’t intend on stopping anytime soon; Kroll says it’s become one of the most enjoyable parts of her quarantine routine.

A squirrel sits on a mini picnic bench and prepares to chow down on the tasty meal prepared by the Walters family in Mount Pleasant. “I look forward to it every day,” says Kroll. “I get up and look forward to giving her a little costume and spending time with her.”

Ashlea Napier and her 7-year-old daughter Dharma are also spending quarantine with pets, though they aren’t nearly as friendly and cuddly as Ellie. Instead Napier and Dharma are hatching Triops — small crustaceans known as living fossils.

The Triops are just one of the fun, educational activities Napier and Dharma are doing to keep busy during quarantine; they also have been learning about historical figures and movements, making flowers out of construction paper, and plan to make slime and construct a mini volcano.

Napier hopes that these activities will help supplement the in-class educational experiences that her daughter is missing during quarantine.

Karyn Walters is also hoping to diversify her daughter’s experiences during quarantine. The family lives in a forest where natural wildlife — including chipmunks, deer, squirrels, raccoons, and a variety of bird species — are daily visitors to the household; but, for the Walters’ nine-year-old Fifi, who has Down syndrome, the wildlife can be intimidating.

To remedy this, Fifi’s parents have set animal feed just outside their windows so Fifi can watch the wildlife from the comfort of her home. During quarantine, Walters has added another item to the animal menu: gelatin.

Walters encases bird seeds in gelatin and leaves it out for the animals — primarily squirrels — to eat. It takes longer to eat through the gelatin, so Fifi gets more time to view the animals and the animals get a tasty snack; Bob Walters, Fifi’s father, even made a mini picnic bench for the squirrels to dine at. The result has been a fun, family-friendly activity that even has its own Facebook page.

The activity also complements Fifi’s education, as she is currently learning about ecosystems.

“We’ve had just a blast watching squirrels eat Jell-O,” Walters says. “We may not have the resources that we used to, so for us we are kind of doing the same things but putting a new twist of them.”