1. This video – I’m quite a history buff, particularly British history of the Victorian and Edwardian era. (FYI, I was into these time periods WAY before Downton.) Recently I came across this charming woman’s YouTube channel. Meet Karolina Żebrowska. Karolina was born in Poland and she loves to dress in antique clothing. She is also adamant about historical accuracy, which suits my persnickety personality just fine.
She created a film called ‘Thug Edwardian Lady’ which she both acted in and directed. IMDB’s description of the film: “Karolina Zebrowska goofs around in an Edwardian attire and casually commits small-time hooliganism, on the streets of Krakow.” I LOVE her! She is very intelligent and has a great sense of humor. You will see what I mean from her video…
2. First Australian Koalas that were injured in the bushfires are being released back into the wild. According to My Modern Met, Australia announced that the bushfires were finally over in March. I don’t know about you but I missed that bit of wonderful news amongst all the pandemic & Trump pressers.
3. The National Loaf – Brits are returning to baking the same recipe for bread that was used during World War II. Called the “National Loaf,” the recipe was created for women who often had to make due with a shortage of ingredients. I found a recipe online which I’m including here but the article I linked to has more information on what people are doing for a modern take.
The National Loaf
From: Ministry of Food – Jane Fearnley Whittingstall
Makes two loaves
1 ½ lb wholemeal bread flour* 1 ½ tbsp salt 1 ½ tbsp dried yeast 1 tsp honey or treacle (two teaspoons) 450 ml tepid water (about 2 cups)
1. Mix together all the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a soft dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel, and leave until dough has doubled in size (around 2 hours).
2. Knock back the dough, give a short knead then cut into two equal pieces. Place in 1.5 litre loaf tins (8 X 4 X 3 loaf pans), allow to rise for a further 2 hours.
3. Pre-heat oven to 200°C (400° F) then bake loaves for 30 min. To test the loaves, turn them out of their tins and give the base a tap; if it sounds hollow, they are ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
4. Old Hollywood Outtakes – My friend Angela sent me this video clip link and I LOVE IT so much! As a classic film buff in my mid-50s it is astonishing to me that I’ve never seen outtakes like this before. FABULOUS! Wonderful to see these actors, well, acting like regular people.
5. Generous Spirit during a time of crisis – Another friend of mine was out walking this morning and saw this:
7. Small Businesses Giving Back – even small businesses that haven’t even opened yet. This is actually my brother & sister-in-law’s new business, The Acorn & The Oak. It was supposed to open right about now. But instead, they are a perfect example of two people who are excellent at making lemonade out of lemons. You can read the article, it tells their story so well.
8. Healthcare Workers are starting to put their photos on their PPE so patients can see their smiles – Because healthcare workers’ faces are hidden by the masks, face shields and goggles which protect them from getting the COVID-19 virus, one worker (Robertino Rodriguez) had the excellent idea to attach a photo of himself to the front of his personal protective equipment (PPE) so his patients could see his smiling face and feel more relaxed and comfortable. He posted a photo of it on social media and it went viral and now other workers are posting their photos as well.
9. Cottagecore – I need to read more about this but Cottagecore is being described in some of the articles I’ve been reading as the new Hygge. Other articles I’ve been reading say it is very popular in the LGBTQ/Lesbian/queer teen communities – which is cool, especially since my former gay roommate back in the 90s once asked me if I had finally become a lesbian when I moved into a relatively well-known lesbian area so maybe it explains a lot that I am drawn to this movement? (He was joking, it’s so difficult to relay tone in writing.) ANYWAY, Cottagecore seems to have all the things I love and all the things I need right now. The simplest definition I could find was this “(also known under the name farmcore or country core) is an aesthetic inspired by a romanticized interpretation of agricultural life. They are centered on the idea of a more simple life and harmony with nature.”
Here’s a photo of a Cottagecore “starter kit.”
Hope you had a Happy Easter if you celebrate Easter. Or a Joyous Passover if you celebrate Passover.
Growing up I was extremely close to my grandfather. I wasn’t the only person who loved him, Gramps was everybody’s favorite person. He could light up a room, make you feel better when you were blue, make the hurt go away, fix things when it all seemed a big mess. He was an extremely jolly, affectionate, and giving man.
I was fortunate having grown up with someone like him teaching me how to laugh, how to be kind, how to be generous. And because of his influence I constantly find myself constantly saying – What would Gramps do?
I am definitely saying that now – pretty much every day. What would Gramps do if he were here today? Well, it’s obvious. He would try to help as many people as he could. It wasn’t all luck that gave him everything he had, he worked very hard for it. But he still knew he was lucky nevertheless, and he wanted to share his good fortunate with those who weren’t as blessed.
There are a lot of people who are having a rough time right now. And I’m not just talking about those of us who are feeling pent up because we’ve been stuck at home for a week or two (or three) and may be for weeks to come.
There are people who have been laid off from their jobs. There are people who have already started to run out of money because they live from paycheck to paycheck. There are people whose small business are on the verge of folding. There are people who have been scrambling to get onto unemployment, which will help, but that is only sixty percent of their normal pay. There are people putting their lives at risk every single day so that the rest of us can stay in our homes.
So what can we do? Because if there’s one very important thing we all need to remember right now – there is no us or them, there is only we.
Here’s a few suggestions of things to try:
1. I mentioned in my last blog post about supporting small businesses – USA Today set up a website where you can buy gift cards from small local businesses, to use at a later date, which will help those businesses while they have to stay closed. Potentially this will help them continue to pay employees, pay their rent and other fixed bills, pay for employees health insurance, and/or give employees small bonuses, etc. You can see which businesses have gift cards listed in your community at this link. If your favorite business(es) aren’t listed, notify them of them website so they can sign up! OR see if they have gift cards available for purchase directly on their website.
2. Try to get tips to your hair stylist, manicurist, massage therapist, eyelash technician, restaurant servers, bartenders, etc. (anyone you normally tip) via venmo or PayPal or mailing a check. Many of these people rely on their tips as a large part of their income so even if they are still getting paid and/or are getting unemployment, they are losing quite a bit of money. If you hire a cleaning service and you’ve put that service on hold (and can afford it) consider still paying them. I know that this may seem odd, paying someone not to work, but you are not only helping them, you are helping the economy and that ultimately will help everyone.
2a. Update: here’s a new site I just heard about where you can leave a Virtual Tip for people working in bars and the beverage industry.
2b. Another update: Buy Aviation Gin!
3. Donate to the Coronavirus Rent Relief Fund – this GoFundMe sponsored GoFundMe fundraiser is raising money to help people who need help paying their rent. So far they have raised over $125,000.
Those who actually want to apply for assistance can click on this link.
4. Make a donation to your local food bank(s) – call you local food pantry to find out what they need most and how they want you to drop it off or better yet, see if they accept donations on their website. Another option would be to donation to Feeding America. They are helping local food banks deal with the outbreak.
5. Eater has made a list of Relief Funds for Restaurant, Bars, and Food Service Workers – you can make a donation to any of these nonprofits or organizations. Remember, even though restaurants are still doing curb-side service, they are only doing a fraction of the business they normally do. Plus, they most likely are only keeping on the staff they need to run the kitchen and possibly a few servers to take food out to the customers so not everyone is making money. Also, if/when you order from your local restaurants, be sure to give them big tips!
6. Direct Relief– they need your donations! This non-profit provides essential equipment and supplies to medical workers around the world and during the pandemic
“The humanitarian relief group Direct Relief has been delivering personal protective equipment including masks, gloves and gowns to China since January. Recently, it shipped oxygen concentrators to China, said Direct Relief spokesman Tony Morain. They’re devices that coronavirus patients can use to help them breathe at home, rather than being hooked up to a ventilator at a hospital. They’re needed because hospital beds are in short supply in China, Morain said.
China is about six weeks ahead of where the U.S. is, Morain said. While communal transmission has slowed, there are still recovering coronavirus patients who need help breathing. Direct Relief recently bought about 500 oxygen concentrators for U.S. patients, and it’s committed $2 million to help nonprofit community health centers in the U.S. prepare for the outbreak.”
8. Volunteer with Meals on Wheels – again, only if you are healthy, but Meals on Wheels is predicting that they are going to see a rather large increase in demand during the outbreak. As we’ve all heard many times, older individuals can be in the high risk category and health officials are saying that extra precautions should be taken for anyone over the age of 60. The majority of individuals receiving meals from Meals on Wheels will be in the high-risk category.
9. Donate to Planned Parenthood – there are some states that are placing abortion on the list of non-essential procedures that should be delayed. There has been systematic attempts by anti-abortion politicians, with support and funding from anti-abortion groups, to make access to abortion more difficult, but their attempts have become more intense over the past three and a half years. For those who may not be familiar with this fact, abortion has been legal in the United State for nearly 50 years, since 1973. It is also legal in the majority of first world countries. The fact that politicians who choose this time to push their ideological agenda is more than disgusting.
10. VOTE. Hopefully you are a registered voter, that will make it much easier to vote absentee or by mail. Check on your local municipal website to get instructions on how your state has set up for you to vote if you have an upcoming election. In my state (Wisconsin) there is an election on April 7th. Wisconsin Residents who are registered can request an absentee ballot so they can vote via mail until April 2nd. For more information on Wisconsin voting you can go to this link. Here’s an NPR article from March 24, 2020 about how many states are looking at expanding absentee voting.
11. Don’t need your stimulus check? (Notice the emphasis on need, versus want.) Individuals earning up to $75k will be receiving $1200 and families will receive an addition $500 per child. Here’s an excellent article from the New York Times on where you can donate some or all of the new found income.
Update (April 14, 2020) : Here’s an article on 10+ Funds/Foundations for Artists impacted by COVID-19. Although the article is intended to help the artists who are seeking assistance, any one or more of these organizations is looking for donations.
As of yesterday (March 24th) there were 17 states that had declared statewide Stay-at-Home orders. An additional 10 states had issued partial orders, meaning either cities or counties within the state had stay-at-home orders in place. Frankly, I think the entire country should be shut down – it would be the fastest/most efficient way to end this, but it’s difficult to overcome greed, gullibility, and ignorance.
Moving on. Since I retired in March of last year I basically had to adjust to a stay-at-home lifestyle. I can’t deny that I dealt with several months of depression. (I do plan on writing a blog post about this eventually,) but the circumstances aren’t exactly the same for me as for everyone else. For one thing, everyone else is going to go back to work eventually. Also, everyone is in the same boat and I believe there is something comforting about that. Obviously I was able to go out to buy things whenever I wanted to (and there wasn’t the fear of things possibly running out) and meet with friends in the days after my retirement, but there were days, sometimes several in a row, where I didn’t leave the house. Eventually though I figured out how to adjust (for the most part) so I thought I would share with you what I have found works for me.
1. Make your bed every morning – I was at a conference a few years ago and one of the people I met there told me a story about how his Grandma taught him, when he was a kid, that THE most important thing to starting off your day is to make your bed. He has been doing it ever since. So I religiously started making my bed after I returned from the conference and you know what, it DOES make a difference. (I admit, I used to only make it when I knew people were coming over. To be fair, I mostly did this because I would bound out in the morning and then forget about it.)
My friend Emily works at Peabody Interiors and did a fabulous video on how to make a beautiful bed:
2. Get your daily dose of nature – open up the windows in your house (or at least open them up a wee crack if it cold where you are) during the day, even if it is only for an hour or so- Getting fresh air into the house is IMPORTANT. Put on a sweater if you need to. Along the same lines, get outside – go for a walk (be sure to practice safe social distancing if you meet people along the way.)
Have your kids play out in the back yard. Make sure they understand that the neighbor kids can’t join them but maybe they can come up with a game that they can play where they each stay in their own yards. A scavenger hunt is always a good idea. There are loads of printable backyard scavenger hunts on the internet – find one you like and share it with your neighbors via text or email! Here is the printable .PDF of the one I created below.
3. Use up your fresh fruit and veg – if you bought a lot to stock up before isolation make yourself some big pots of soup or vegetables that you can freeze. Or if you don’t have room in your freezer – a) when was the last time you cleared out your freezer? and b) could you possibly share some with your neighbors? (Of course if you do share it with your neighbors do so safely. Leave it for them on their doorstep and let them know it is there by text or email.)
One of my favorite artists Liam O’Farrell drew this beautiful picture of a bowl of lentil soup he made from things he had sitting around that were about to turn.
4. Have kids at home? Kids already have classwork that they are supposed to be doing. I’m sure that it is quite a struggle to get them to do that. But outside of the classwork, keeping kids reading and doing creative things will keep their minds healthy. Hopefully you all have library cards. Many libraries provide a plethora of online resources and materials. For people in my home state of Wisconsin for example, there is the Wisconsin Digital Library which is accessible to every single citizen. There are online classes and databases and many Librarians are even doing online storytimes via Facebook. Check your local library website.
There are also lots and lots of fun crafts to do with household objects. You can search the internet for loads of ideas. A friend of mine recently started sharing posts from this woman on Facebook. I LOVE THEM. She hasn’t posted much prior to the last few days but what she has been posting is FABULOUS!
5. Just because you are at home all the time, don’t let your house build up into a mess. Keep up with your tidying (or as I think of it, Nancy Drewing.) Make sure counters and tables stay cleared off. Put things away that you aren’t using. Pretend that people may be stopping by at any moment even though you know they won’t be. Do it for yourself.
6. Get dressed in regular clothes and follow your usual hygiene regimen – In other words, don’t wear your jammies (or sweats) for days at a time and think you can go for a week without showering. This goes for brushing your teeth and flossing!
When I was a kid, I had to stay home from school for a few months once because of the mumps which was compounded by an infection of my lymph glands. The swelling of my neck was so bad my dad would have to help me in and out of bed because I couldn’t support my head; it was incredibly painful. I also had to be in daily traction to try to straighten my head. Anyway, after a week or so of being in my jammies and being miserable I was quite ripe. My Mom said I should take a shower – it would make me feel better. I resisted but she persisted. She helped me take one and sure enough, it did. And she helped me take many more over the weeks I was sick and each time, I felt better. Whenever I was sick at home after that she would say, “you should take a shower, it’ll make you feel better.” To this day I hear her saying that and I still do it. Isn’t it sad that we don’t realize how smart our Moms are until we’ve lived a good chunk of our lives (or until they are no longer here so we can tell them?)
Even better – crank up your beauty regimen. Since you aren’t able to go to the salon or spa, DYI baby!
7. Meditate – learning how to reduce stress is VITALLY important, not just now but really always. I started practicing guided meditations because my sleep is for shit. You know, the wake up around 3 in the morning thing that most menopausal broads experience. I created a playlist of a bunch of YouTube videos I use, here is the one I’m currently successful with.
Also, jigsaw puzzles can be a stress reducer and/or if done with your family they can be fun too and a way to escape technology for a bit.
Additionally, if you have any projects hanging over your head that you have been putting off, bite the bullet and get them done! Don’t let yourself think, I have weeks now. It will always be in the back of you mind nagging at you and you won’t truly be able to relax. Just do it! (This means, just because they pushed back the deadline for filing your taxes, you don’t necessarily need to hold off filling out the actual forms, or at least getting everything pulled together you need to fill out the forms.)
8. Challenge your brain – many of you may be working at home and also have your kids with you but don’t let your only other activity be watching Netflix. There are a lot of Universities currently offering free online classes as well as your local library (as I mentioned before.) I myself am taking the Yale University course the Science of Well-Being. Here is a list of 1,500 free online courses from top Universities put together by Open Culture.
Puzzles and games also can challenge your brain – crosswords are an excellent way to do this. So are other word games like Scrabble, Charades or Pictionary, games that make you think.
You can also try some armchair traveling. Here are several virtual tours to try from the safety of your own home:
Here is a list of several world attractions like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, Rome’s Colleseum and the Palace of Versailles that you can visit remotely
Here’s a list of National Parks you can visit virtually
Here’s a list of museums from around the world that offer virtual tours
9. Limit your intake of news and social media – as important and as much as you want to stay connected to the outside world, you need to make sure you don’t spend too much time inundating yourself with news about COVID-19, the economy, and the politics surrounding everything. For myself, I have set up my Facebook so that I only see notifications from certain people and FB pages and I only read those notices about 75% of the time. I have turned off notifications for most of my apps and unfollowed a bunch of people on Twitter. But despite doing this the algorithms still generate things and I find myself going down the rabbit hole, which is why I try to limit my actual screen time, at least on social media.
10. Support Small Businesses – as you know a lot of local businesses are going to be hit over the next month (and some are already struggling.) USA Today put together a website where you can buy gift cards to use A.C. (After Coronavirus.) If you can afford it yourself, even if it is only a $5 or 10 gift card, it will help. Remember, if we all buy them they will get a nice sum of money that will help them through this.
ALSO, don’t forget their employees – especially those who live off tips. People in the service industry like restaurants and salons are really feeling the pain. Most of them are trying to get onto unemployment (which has been extended right now) but some are having a difficult time getting through to the Unemployment Office. If you know your manicurist or hair stylist or massage therapist or the person who extends your lashes or the servers at your favorite restaurants well enough that you can Venmo or Paypal them a little cash for the tips you would be giving them if you were able to go to their establishment – DO IT. It can make a world of difference.
For those of you who remember Senor Wences, S’alright? I always loved him. If you don’t remember him, check out this incredible ventriloquist and enjoy!
March 26 – It’s called “Physical Distancing” – read an article this morning about how the WHO is recommending people stop using the term “social distancing” and instead say “physical distancing.” This is SO smart. We really do want to just keep our distance physically but still remain as socially connected as possible.
About a year ago a small group of my fellow retired library directors and I started meeting for lunch on a semi-regular basis. We set up a luncheon for this month which of course we rescheduled to next month. When our Governor issued a month long stay-at-home order we thought we might have to postpone indefinitely. Instead though, we chose to keep the date and have a virtual lunch date. I now have a Zoom account and we are going to see how this works.
Another friend of mine has been enjoying remote happy hours with her friends on Friday nights. That is actually impressive.
March 28th –
I forgot EXERCISE! I am lucky in that I was already doing my Pilates sessions remotely (via FaceTime) before this all hit so I have a lot of equipment at my house, but you don’t need to have a lot of stuff to exercise. Of course taking daily walks in one of the easiest things to do (though a friend of mine who lives in downtown Chicago said that on nice days there have been so many people outside she hasn’t been able to go out.) There are also tons of videos on YouTube for a variety of workouts. For myself, the most important thing is stretching, especially this particular stretch –
We’re all sitting around more than usual so muscles need to be stretched out. I do this heel drop a few times a day and I tell you, when I miss a day, I feel it!
I think I’ll stop here, my list has gone on long enough and I know that people are getting inundated with recommendations on what to do. Hopefully you’ll find a few things here that are helpful. The important thing to remember is we are all in this together. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Help each other – that is key! And…