Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pandemic Diary Entry #9

Friday, April 24 (Day 44): Woke up with an aching jaw and a headache.

Rainy day. Cold and gloomy.

I never remember my dreams anymore, since my second brain aneurysm rupture in 2017 (I used to have vivid dreams before that!). So I have no idea if I'm having nightmares about the virus or what. Usually, only a vague feeling of uneasiness lingers after I wake up. Do you remember your dreams during this pandemic? Are they often nightmarish?

Because of the headache, which lasted most of the day, I couldn't read the new book that arrived on the 22nd. Rats! I was really looking forward to starting This is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregorio (my friend, Ilene Wong). Tomorrow, definitely.

Leftovers for dinner and watched another episode of Monty Python's Personal Best.

Saturday, April 25 (Day 45):  Read a few chapters of This is My Brain in Love and it's delightful! Such a lovely escape. And wow, would it make a great movie. So visual. I can just picture these two teens and the Chinese restaurant and even though I've never been to Utica, I can picture it too. That's the sign of a great writer!

I made a sign for my mother for Mother's Day. Since we can't go visit her on Mother's Day, her lifecare facility is doing an in-house TV show, putting together photos from relatives of the residents. So my husband took a photo of me holding up the "Happy Mother's Day, Mom/Grandmom, We love you and miss you" sign. Then I emailed it to our sons, who will add their own photos into it, and make a kind of collage.

Today was a gorgeous day! This is the day we've been waiting for.  Took a lovely long walk around our entire neighborhood. And because it was Saturday, lots of kids were out on bikes, and plenty of parents out walking too.

I love this neighbor's Eastern Redbud tree! Wish we had one.

Saw something I'd never seen before during a walk: a neighbor, walking a few feet behind his little kids, was carrying a glass of red wine! My husband and I laughed and I said, "Now, that's a walk!"

Burgers for dinner.  Watched the last episode of Monty Python's Personal Best.

Sunday, April 26 (Day 46): Another rainy day and I accomplished very little. No headache this time, at least. I did a little writing upstairs, while my husband attended church online downstairs. This is how we live now.

Did a load of laundry, which I decided would be my main accomplishment for the day. Ha! But I also read several chapters of This is My Brain in Love. And I'm totally in love with it and with the characters! Buy this book, people! It's entertaining and thought-provoking and a delightful escape from the pandemic. Plus the two main characters are so real. Here's a link to bookshop if you'd like to buy it.

Baked a casserole for dinner, along with roasted sweet potatoes, my new favorite vegetable.

Decided to watch the Downton Abbey movie again, on demand. Mainly to see Queen Mary (because she also played Marilla in Anne With an E!)


The first time we watched this film was in the theater last year -- in fact, that was the last movie we saw in a movie theater. Can't imagine doing that ever again! Social distancing has become so ingrained in our lives now.

What I really can't imagine doing is going on a cruise ever again. We love travel but it's definitely off the radar for the foreseeable future.

Monday, April 27 (Day 47):  My husband had to have Mohs surgery to remove a large basal cell carcinoma on the top of his bald head. He'd already put it off a month. He was worried about going in to the dermatologist's office, but they assured him they only allow a few patients in at a time, the chairs are spaced far apart in the waiting room, and everyone has to wear a mask (patients, as well as doctors and nurses) They also had plenty of hand sanitizer. They wouldn't have let him in the door if he wasn't wearing a mask. Luckily, we have some!

The horrible part? It took four hours! I was home waiting for him (I had my own telemedicine appointment with our family doctor) and was going crazy because he wasn't home and didn't text or call. I couldn't imagine why it took so long. He was exhausted when he got home and I advised him to simply rest for the remainder of the day. Whew! We're both glad that's over.

Pasta for dinner.

Tuesday, April 28: I read several more chapters of This is My Brain in Love.  Ilene, you really have a winner here! I want to keep reading because I'm so absorbed in the story and the characters, but at the same time, I need this book to last! I'm so in love with it.

With my husband resting after his surgery, I took a walk alone.

Not sure what these tiny wildflowers are, but they certainly say "Spring" to me!

A bit of leftover tar from when the road was patched.
What creature do you see here?

Our back yard, getting greener every day.

Leftovers for dinner. Watched the first episode of "Godless" on Netflix.

COVID-19 World stats as of April 28 (from The Guardian):

Confirmed cases: 3,113,447
Confirmed deaths:  216,929

In the US, as of April 28 (from the CDC):

Confirmed cases: 981,246
Confirmed deaths: 55,258

News sources have made much of the fact that the US now has about a third of the cases in the world. Trying to open up the economy again, and let people go out and mingle, doesn't seem like a smart move to me.

Stay safe, everyone! Stay home.

Tell me, do you have nightmares about this pandemic? Do you remember your dreams at all?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Pandemic Diary Entry #8

Monday, April 20 (Day 40): Tried to put in my next grocery order and couldn't get a delivery window. The drop-down menu only went up to Sunday May 3rd, and each time slot was taken. I'll have to try again tomorrow.

On our walk today, the sun was shining, even if it was still cold. I'm grateful that our daffodils still look fresh when everyone else's are turning brown. And I love how green everything is getting.

Chicken on the grill for dinner, and we opened our last bag of frozen peas. Don't know why I didn't order any last time. It's hard to think two or three weeks ahead when you're used to buying for a week at a time. If our seeds ever arrive, we'll be planting peas (a little late, I know. You're supposed to plant peas and potatoes in March, right?). We also plan to grow tomatoes and peppers and maybe carrots.

We watched the last episode of Anne With an E on Netflix. Sad to see it end (and they never finished one minor character's storyline, since the show was canceled after three seasons).  Yes, they took great liberties with L.M. Montgomery's novels, and I'm sure purists were horrified, but we both enjoyed the show. Adding diverse characters gave it a richness that only made it more interesting.

Geraldine James as Marilla in Anne With an E on Netflix, from IMDB

My favorite character was Marilla. What astonished me was how much her character changed and grew, more than any of the others. Anne was always open-minded from the beginning, and Matthew in his quiet way was also open-minded, but Marilla went from being a rigid, closed-minded person who was overly strict with Anne and who was afraid of people of color, to a much more broad-minded and friendly person.

Here's what really astounded me: the actress who played Marilla was the same actress who played Queen Mary in the Downton Abbey movie! And I had no clue the entire time I was watching Anne With an E.  I didn't think to look up any of the actors on IMDB until after the show ended.

Yes, this is the same actress as the one
who played Marilla, above!  Found on Pinterest

Tuesday, April 21 (Day 41): Rainy day. Up at 7:15 and put in my grocery order. This time I could choose a delivery time slot for Monday May 4th -- again, the earliest one, starting at 6:30 am! That was the only one available so I grabbed it.

Did some laundry. Read for a while. Still reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. Also spent far too much time on Facebook, as usual. Starting to hear of more and more friends who know someone with the virus or even, tragically, have lost someone because of this awful virus.

Ham and sweet potatoes for dinner. This ham will last us for many dinners!

Watched Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which my sons ordered for me for my birthday. It was entertaining, even if it's not the best SW movie. A wonderful escape from reality, for sure.

Wednesday, April 22 (Day 42): Earth Day! Believe it or not, I remember the first Earth Day in 1970. I was in high school and we had an assembly instead of classes. I was so inspired to save the Earth, I walked home from school instead of taking the bus. And I picked up trash along the way.

Today, of course, we're dealing with a lot more than trash along highways. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is still a huge issue. Plastic crams our landfills and clogs the ocean, killing sea life. And there's too much carbon, causing climate change. Anyone who thought climate change was a hoax only needs to look at before and after photos to see how much cleaner the air in major cities is now because no one is driving!  Los Angeles, famous for its smog for decades, now looks like this:

From the CBS news article

Also for Earth Day, here's a link to an article from The Guardian about a mutant enzyme that recycles plastic bottles in hours! Honestly, when I first saw this headline, I thought it was from the Onion or some other satirical news site! A mutant enzyme sounds like trouble to me.

This reminds me of Amy Sarig King's MG novel, ME AND MARVIN GARDENS, from 2017. Anyone looking for a great MG read, look no further! Obe Devlin finds an unusual creature that eats plastic!

Cover from Goodreads 

Thursday, April 23 (Day 43): Finally finished reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. Fascinating and gorgeously written, with an ending I did not quite expect. But the characters all grew on me throughout the four-book Raven Cycle.

Next up:

THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE by I.W. Gregorio (Ilene Wong)

Finally, it arrived! I pre-ordered this book way back in March, the official pub date was April 14th, and it just arrived yesterday! Perfect timing, since I just finished The Raven King. My other books will have to wait, because there's no way I'm putting off reading this. I've known Ilene for years and have been proud to call her a friend.

And reading is my favorite form of escape these days...

I realized today that I've neglected National Poetry Month.

Some writers feature a poem a day on their websites. Some write a poem a day. I like to read a poem a day. Here's one great blog that does that, Gotta Book, by Greg Pincus. And here's my spine poetry, made from YA novels in my collection!

How do YOU live now? 

Macaroni and cheese with ham chunks for dinner. One of my husband's favorite meals (not so much mine, but, hey, it's food and it fills you up!). We watched an episode of Monty Python's Personal Best on Netflix.

COVID-19 STATS (as of April 23) from WHO

Countries affected: 213
Confirmed cases: 2, 626, 321
Confirmed deaths:  181, 938

Interestingly, the countries affected are the same as the last few weeks. That stat was 209 on April 9th and has been 213 ever since. Is that a good sign? Not sure. How many countries are there? The UN appparently recognizes 241, including territories. I had no idea there were so many countries in the world. Did you?

On April 2nd, the confirmed cases were 900, 305. Confirmed deaths were 45, 693. So, of course, those numbers keep climbing.

Pennsylvania currently has 37,069 cases and 1,421 deaths.

Stay healthy, everyone! Stay home!

And, how do you live now?  Tell me in the comments (it doesn't have to be poetry, just a few words about your current life). Thanks!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Pandemic Diary Entry #7

From Goodreads

Hope you're all staying healthy. And staying home! It's not over yet and I suspect this coronavirus will go on for a longer time than most people think. Until there's a vaccine, and despite the strict measures most states and countries have in place, this virus might continue to ravage our world for many months or even a year.

If you know anything at all about the 1918/1919 flu pandemic (often mistakenly referred to as the "Spanish" Flu), you know it came in three waves: the spring, the autumn and the winter. There were at least 50 million deaths worldwide. Here's one link from the CDC about that pandemic. More links can be found at the bottom of that page. And here's another more detailed article from History.com.

This pandemic makes me more interested than ever in historical fiction. Can anyone recommend any MG or YA novels (or adult novels) specifically about the 1918 pandemic? The only one I've read is Like the Willow Tree, a Dear America diary by Lois Lowry (Scholastic, 2011). 

Thursday, April 16 (Day 36):  It was only 39 degrees F when I woke up this morning! (That's about 4 C for those of you from countries more advanced than we are here in the US!) Too cold for April. And cloudy and gloomy.

Spent far too much time on Facebook, and also read for a while. Still reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. About halfway through it now. It's a wonderful escape.

Leftovers for dinner. And a few episodes of Anne With an E on Netflix, which is also a delightful escape from reality.

Friday, April 17 (Day 37):  Beautiful day, although still overcast and too cold for April. On our walk, I enjoyed how green everything is getting.

Our back yard

Yes, the American suburban lawn is an ecological disaster. It's only one step above a parking lot. But in a time like this, I love how green it's becoming. (I would prefer that we let it grow wild and turn into a meadow, but we think the neighbors would get upset!)

Didn't sleep well last night, as usual, so by evening I was too tired to do anything but watch Netflix.

Saturday, April 18 (Day 38): Finally got our food delivery. It's been two and a half weeks since our last food delivery! Now I know to order again right away. Thankfully, we received nearly everything we ordered, except, of course, toilet paper. Ha ha. We're okay for the rest of this month, but by May we'll need to find some.

The food arrived at 7:15 this morning. Yes, I was up and had the garage open for the delivery person to place those 17 bags (!) inside, since it was raining at that hour. Our fridge, which had been close to empty, is now full! And our freezer was empty enough for me to clean it out, and is now also comfortably full.

Food, glorious food! Here's a clip from the movie, "Oliver!" via YouTube:

Cold and cloudy the rest of the day. It snowed where our older son lives in New England, but not here.

Mopped the kitchen floor. My one accomplishment for the day.

Chicken for dinner! And two different kinds of vegetables. It's a small miracle. And I actually accomplished something else today: I spent almost two hours working on my next novel in verse. I've been too paralyzed by fear to do any writing at all. 

So I consider that a breakthrough.

Sunday, April 19, 2020 (Day 39):  It's cold again but at least it's partly sunny. I slept great last night! Seven and a half hours. This is unheard of. I must have been worrying about food too much the last two weeks. Or, you know, about this pandemic which could potentially kill us all! (Relax, I'm usually not too anxious these days. I think I may have actually reached the acceptance phase of the five stages of grief! Or at least gotten past the denial and anger parts.)

Talked to my mother on the phone, who continues to sound cheerful. Still no new cases of the virus, so that's excellent news.

On our walk today, which was a long one, plenty of trees were still blooming: 

A neighbor's tree, which I've now decided must be a cherry tree.
Not a weeping cherry like ours, just a cherry tree.
Correct me if I'm wrong, someone!

A wild crabapple tree down the street from us

We treated ourselves to steak on the grill for dinner! So nice to have plenty of fresh food to choose from now (no more SPAM! Yay!).

COVID-19 Stats (for April 19, from WHO):

Countries affected: 213
Confirmed cases: 2,245,872
Confirmed deaths: 152,707

How are you doing? Are you stuck in one of the first few stages of the Five Stages of Grief?

And what are you reading and/or watching to keep busy?

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Pandemic Diary Entry #6

Hi all,
A neighbor's weeping cherry, definitely in better shape than ours!
Sunday, April 12

I took the weekend off from keeping this real-time diary. From what I remember, on Saturday, April 11, I cleaned our family room, where we spend most of our waking hours. It really needed it. And my husband helped by moving furniture, so we could do a thorough job.

Burgers for dinner. Two episodes of Anne with an E on Netflix.

Sunday, April 12, of course, was Easter. Definitely the strangest Easter ever! Talked to both of our sons and also called my mother. We're trying to stay cheerful, but it's getting more difficult all the time.

We took a walk in the afternoon.

Still lovely everywhere, although the magnolias are losing their blossoms, and even some neighbors' daffodils are drooping and turning brown. Hey, it happens every spring, even though it's especially poignant this year. Ours are still going strong since they bloomed later than everyone else's.

Chicken legs on the grill for dinner. It's what we had on hand (hey, I ordered a ham on April 6th but that food delivery won't be here until April 18th!). Convention goes out the window during a pandemic.

My friend Jason (the record store owner -- @ElectricAvenueMusicWC) posted on FB a link to a scholarly article about the 1918 flu pandemic. What I found fascinating: Hemingway and Fitzgerald both lived through that pandemic, yet it didn't enter their subsequent writing.

Monday, April 13 (Day 33): Woke up with not only an aching jaw but a raging headache.

It was raining hard. Storms and wind all day. This is actually the first headache I've experienced since starting this diary. Headaches used to be the norm for me, especially before both of my brain aneurysm ruptures, and for a while before and after my brain surgery to repair my third aneurysm last May. Thankfully, they've been better these last six or eight months. Until today.

It's hard to photograph rain, isn't it? This is our deck.

This was definitely an atmospheric pressure headache. My husband jokes that I'm a human barometer. Resting with an ice pack on my forehead helped. Couldn't read all day. For me, a day without reading is like a day without eating. I watched some mindless TV.  I looked out the window a lot.

Do you ever feel like you're in a Demolition Derby and you're one of the cars being squashed? That's how I felt today.

Didn't accomplish anything all day. Headache was gone by late afternoon, thank goodness!

Leftovers for dinner.

Attended my first virtual book launch this evening, for my friend Ilene Wong (who writes YA novels under I.W. Gregorio) on Facebook (via Zoom), sponsored by Children's Book World in Haverford, PA.  It was fun! It was actually energizing. And I got to ask a question! I can't wait to read THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE, which I pre-ordered way back in February. Hope it arrives soon!

Tuesday, April 14 (Day 34): No headache or aching jaw today, yay! Read for a while, did laundry and paid a few bills. Sounds boring, right?

Beginning to realize I've really lowered my expectations during this sheltering-in-place. If I accomplish ONE thing a day, I'm satisfied. If I accomplish two or three things, I'm ecstatic! And they're little things. One load of laundry? Check! Paid two bills? Check! Cooked dinner? Check! I feel like standing on a mountain top, shouting, "I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED MIRACLES!"

If you're a vegetarian, feel free to skip this next bit and go right to Wednesday.

Yes, this is what Spam looks like right out of the can.
Ugh, right? Believe me, it smells worse.
Neither of us have eaten Spam since we were children. From what I recall way back then, it was pretty disgusting stuff. But eaten with four different kinds of beans, doctored up with ketchup, brown sugar, a little maple syrup, vinegar, and dry mustard (my husband's aunt's recipe) it wasn't half bad. Sort of a cross between ham and a hot dog. Soft as a hot dog, anyway. It's only icky if you think about it too much!

Before cooking in the oven for an hour. Yes, it still looks disgusting.

The late Terry Jones of Monty Python fame (from rebloggy.com)

Why did we eat this tonight? Because I'm saving the shrimp for tomorrow and I still have one small package of chicken thighs in the freezer, which I'll take out for Thursday or Friday. By Saturday, we should have plenty of food again! I hope. (Don't worry, we're not starving -- still have eggs, cheese, peanut butter, crackers, six cans of tuna and at least eight cans of soup, plus seven or eight cans of vegetables. I've never been fond of canned vegetables, but if I'm hungry enough, I'll eat them!)

Isn't it fascinating that during a pandemic, food is close to all we think about? The procuring of food, the storing of food, the preparing of food, not simply the eating of food. And just think, I'm only trying to feed two people! My heart goes out to all of you with families at home, especially when you're both trying to work from home and the kids are going to school online. You are all heroes!

Wednesday, April 15 (Day 35):  Which also happens to be my birthday. And normally, if you're an American, you'd have had to file your income taxes by today, but this year you get a reprieve until July 15th.

A cold but sunny day after some morning rain. Undoubtedly the strangest birthday I've ever experienced, and those of you who've already had pandemic birthdays can understand why. Normally on my birthday we go to Longwood Gardens for the day, and then out to a nice restaurant for dinner. Not this year! Instead, my husband cooked us both eggs for breakfast. I read quite a bit this morning, talked to my mother and my sister on the phone this afternoon, and then we took a walk.

A neighbor's tree. Can anyone tell me what kind it is? I have no clue.

Another neighbor's front yard. I think this pink tree is an Eastern Redbud,
but I'm not sure. Still wish we had one, though. It's lovely.

For dinner, my husband cooked shrimp and pineapple on the grill. Yes, it was delicious!

And after dinner, we had a video call with both sons. It was wonderful to see their faces. I was trying not to cry, seeing them and hearing their voices at the same time. They both look healthy, and sound positive, and they not only wished me a happy birthday, but we talked for over half an hour.

They sent me e-gifts this morning, including an e-gift card to a local restaurant, for whenever we can get out of the house again and actually go out to eat. I love supporting local businesses. And they also generously donated to Feeding America in my name.

My sons are such inspiring young men!

UPDATE: My mother's lifecare facility reported zero new cases of coronavirus today! They're holding it steady at 24 cases. This is excellent news. Extreme measures do work!

COVID-19 STATS (from the WHO) as of April 15:

Countries affected: 213
Confirmed cases: 1,954,724
Confirmed deaths:  126,140

What about you? Are you holding up okay? Have enough food and supplies?

Friday, April 10, 2020

Pandemic Diary Entry #5

Monday, April 6 (Day 26):  On our walk today, I tried to take lots of deep breaths and appreciate the beauty surrounding us. So grateful to live in a neighborhood where we can take walks like this.

And finally, our own daffodils are blooming! Took long enough.

Yes, these are a different variety than everyone else's daffodils!

Decided I'd better put in another grocery order, knowing it might take a while. It will. This order won't be delivered until April 18th! Glad we bought a big box of rice in early March, and six cans of beans. I am grateful the delivery is less than two weeks from now. Also, I'm lucky to be able to afford delivery and a tip for the driver (all done online of course). They deserve every cent. Essential personnel, indeed!

Please remember to donate to your local food bank, if you haven't already. Some people really are struggling to feed their families during this crisis.

When Jason Reynolds, the national ambassador for young people's literature, asked his Twitter followers last week if they needed groceries, he was flooded with requests. He helped as many as he could, and then other authors stepped in to help. "Just be a human," he said. "People are struggling. More people than we can even imagine." 

I've never met a kinder group of people than the children's authors I know. Kindness counts!

Tuesday, April 7 (Day 27):  Talked to my 92-year-old mother on the phone, as I do often. She lives an hour away, in a retirement/nursing home (one of those three stage places that takes care of you right up until death! It's always been depressing for me to visit her there, even though she's still in Independent Living). And of course they've been on lockdown since mid-March. I can't even wave at her through the window (the way Max Brooks waved to his 93-year-old dad, Mel Brooks, in March), because I wouldn't be able to get past the guardhouse at the entrance.

From Max Brooks @maxbrooksauthor/Twitter

Here's what I couldn't bring myself to talk about on this blog last week: four of the residents of the home where my mother lives tested positive for the virus last week. 

The week before, it was one staff member who tested positive (and, thankfully, was sent home to quarantine herself for two weeks). But the trouble with testing is, by the time you show symptoms, you've already been contagious for about 5 days, right? 

Now, as of today, there are 13 residents with coronavirus. Thirteen! That's more than tripled. This is frightening. They're all in the nursing wing (where my father spent the last two weeks of his life in 2014) and the facility is making heroic efforts to keep it from spreading to the other wings. 

I'm distraught, as you can imagine. You may remember hearing about the nursing home in Washington state, where the virus spread like wildfire. Forgive me if I'm not exactly cheerful this week.

Wednesday, April 8 (Day 28):  Woke up with an aching jaw again. Can you blame me? I realize many people have already lost a loved one to this terrible virus. My heart goes out to you.

Another walk and our cherry tree in full bloom cheered me up somewhat. You might be able to tell that our beloved tree is dying slowly. Lots of empty branches. It used to have way more blossoms than this. But it's still gorgeous.

By evening, I was a little calmer. We started watching Anne with an E on Netflix two days ago, and we're both enjoying it (even my husband, surprisingly!). We were privileged enough to visit Prince Edward Island in 2011. Not sure if we'll get through all three seasons of this beautifully-acted and superbly-written show before it disappears from Netflix, but for now, it's a lovely escape from reality. Which we all need!

Anne of Green Gables museum -- Prince Edward Island, 2011

Thursday, April 9 (Day 29): My husband is the religious one in the family, and this is Holy Week. So it's now Holy Thursday and tomorrow is Good Friday. He still has trouble with the idea of going to church online, although they seem to have fixed their microphone problem (he couldn't hear the priest the first Sunday). 

This is one of the most surreal, unprecedented aspects of this pandemic. It's not just that all sports are canceled. Churches, synagogues, and mosques have all had to cancel in-person services. Even the Amish, one county over from us, have had to stop their every-other-Sunday local gatherings in one member's home. 

Still shaking my head that in late March the President wanted everything open and everyone back out there by Easter. I don't usually get political on this blog and right now I'm trying to restrain myself from saying nasty things about an administration that has made serious mistakes all along. No, he didn't cause the virus. Of course not! But his hesitation and missteps undoubtedly made it worse in the US. His top trade adviser warned him in a January 29th memo that more than half a million Americans could die as a result of this virus. On January 30th, Trump said, "We think it's going to have a very good ending for it. So that I can assure you." On February 28th, Trump said, "It's going to disappear. One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear." Right.

For more of Trump's actual words all through February and March, see this article from the Washington Post. 

Nothing seems more important to him, than him! More recently, although he finally admitted the virus is serious, he also bragged about the ratings for his news conferences, as if this pandemic is a reality TV show! Grrr... I refuse to watch them. 

Friday, April 10 (Day 30): Yes, we've been isolated for 30 days. Boggles the mind, doesn't it? And I still haven't cleaned my entire house. I think I was too ambitious in the beginning. I didn't account for a complete lack of motivation at this point. And I'm often overwhelmed with the desperate feeling that life is never going to return to normal.

Is it?

An update on my mother's nursing home: As of today, there are now 24 cases in the Skilled Nursing wing. None in Assisted Living or Independent Living. Ten employees are now home with the virus. And there have been three deaths of residents, two of whom were in hospice before the crisis started. If it keeps doubling or tripling every week...

I'm trying really hard right now not to panic.

Still reading:

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm about a third of the way through. It's an ideal contemporary fantasy escape. But if you haven't read the first three books, start with  Book 1, The Raven Boys. Each boy is perfectly human, yet has a different talent or ability. Then they meet up with Blue Sargent, a high school girl with the ability to amplify anyone else's talent. Fascinating!

COVID-19 stats (from the WHO)
as of April 10:

Countries affected: 213
Confirmed cases: 1,524,161
Confirmed deaths: 92,941

And remember, you can check the predictions for your own state (or country! I recently realized you can choose other countries from the drop-down menu; scroll up above the US) at this website. Note that in Italy, Spain, and France, the deaths per day are going down! They're doing social distancing properly.

Do you have a loved one with the virus? 

Are you having trouble staying stocked with food and necessities?

Stay safe, friends! Stay healthy. Stay home!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Pandemic Diary Entry #4

My Dickens Village holiday display -- with an interesting addition from my son

Friday, April 3 (by my calculations, this is Day 23 of isolation, since we started a little before most people): I finally put away my last Christmas decoration, the Dickens Village display on the sideboard in our little-used dining room. Before you make fun of me for having a holiday decoration up until April, please know that it brought me great joy!

You see, back in early January, my older son surprised me with an addition to the village. A miniature version of my upcoming book. His degree in engineering certainly paid for itself with this sweet and delightful surprise. How he managed to make such tiny book covers, I'll never know. Yes, the title has changed since then, and also I couldn't show this to anyone in January because the contract hadn't been countersigned yet.

Now the future is so uncertain, I'm not sure when the book will actually be published.

Support authors! Support bookstores. Support publishers. If you can afford it, please order a few books from bookshop.org.

The world's tiniest book!

Saturday, April 4, 2020, Day 24 

I woke up after four hours of sleep with an aching jaw, from clenching my teeth in my sleep. This is also known as bruxism and can damage your teeth. Has this happened to you? For me, this is nothing new.

For months after each of my brain aneurysm ruptures, I woke up with aching jaws. My dentist made me a simple device to protect my teeth, but I haven't been wearing it for a while. I also found after each rupture, that massaging my jaw before bedtime really helped.

In addition, I learned not to watch something scary (like the news a horror movie!) just before bed. Oddly enough, last night we watched a really sweet movie on Netflix: About Time with Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Nighy. It was actually the third time I've watched it. I love this time travel movie! And it made me forget for a brief two hours about the crisis we're in now. But as soon as it ended, my husband clicked over to the evening news.

I went upstairs.

So... is this aching jaw a sign of PTSD? Without a proper diagnosis, it's hard to tell. But we've ALL been stressed since this pandemic started! Except, we really can't call it "post" traumatic stress disorder, since we're still in the middle of it. Let's just call it TSD.

(Please note: The last thing I want to do is belittle anyone who has been through war, rape, abuse or other horrifying experiences and has PTSD. You're in pain. I get that and I feel for you. I hope you find relief. My brain aneurysm ruptures were pretty terrible, but I wasn't being attacked by anyone else. Only by my own brain.)

Sunday April 5 (Day 25): What a bizarre world we live in now, with religious services online only (except for a few holdouts in Southern states), and no sports anymore! What do you do when you would have been watching Basketball or Baseball or Golf, or even Formula One auto racing (my husband's favorite)?

I've never been much of a sports fan so it really doesn't bother me. Please don't get mad at me! I'm sorry! If you're going to throw anything at me, make it toilet paper. :)

When my husband would have been watching F-1 races, he watches CNBC. Sometimes he reads. If the weather's nice, he putters in the yard. What I do is read or organize the pantry or clean out a closet.

Today we took another lovely walk.

Our weeping cherry tree is finally blooming!

Currently reading:

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, Book 4 in The Raven Cycle.  This one will take me a while too, but probably not as long as it took me to read The Overstory. I read the first three books in this Cycle back in January and February, when I could get them out of the library. Now the library is off limits, so I ordered a few paperbacks from bookshop.org. Fascinating, utterly absorbing modern-day fantasies published by Scholastic from 2012 to 2016.

Covid-19 stats (from the WHO)
as of April 5, 2020:

Countries affected: 209
Confirmed cases: 1,136,851
Confirmed deaths: 62,955

What are you reading? And do you ever wake up with aching jaws?

Stay healthy, friends! Stay safe. Stay home.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Pandemic Diary Entry #3

Yes, this is 8-year-old me, preparing for a future quarantine
 in which I'm forced to stay inside and read!

Pandemic Diary Entry #3

April 2, 2020

Hope everyone is staying healthy!

Monday, March 30: We received our first grocery delivery to our home. It was due to arrive between 6 and 9 pm (I had put in my order the Thursday before!), and the driver didn't drop off the bags in our garage until 10:45 pm! Which is normally about a half hour after my bedtime. We got more than I expected, though. We're going to try to eke it out for two weeks before we do any kind of shopping again. When we start to run out of food, there's always this (my husband bought it weeks ago!):

Cue the Spam Song!

Tuesday March 31:  I still miss my sons terribly, but I'm managing to find plenty to do. Walking (when it's not raining!), watching movies, cooking -- oh, and cleaning. Still cleaning. I try to clean one thing a day, not necessarily an entire room. One cabinet, or one closet, or a bathroom. Mostly, of course, these days, I'm reading.

Plus, I've learned a new skill: making dinner out of leftovers from several different meals, which often results in odd combinations, but occasionally delights us. I used to hate leftovers, but now I embrace them. Ask me about the stir fry dinner I made from half a boneless pork chop, sliced into tiny pieces, leftover pasta, and leftover peas, with a generous dollop of low-sodium soy sauce.

Wednesday, April 1: (Strangest April Fool's Day ever!) On our walk today, I couldn't help feeling our flowers are a little lacking compared to everyone else's. Yes, this is our sad flower bed in the front of the house. It's nearly empty for a reason: my husband removed all the overgrown hosta last year because it was a gourmet salad for the huge herds of deer that roam through our neighborhood, eating whatever they want. Bullies! Of course, they also eat hyacinths, so he's been spraying them with something this year. Don't ask.

As you can see, our daffodils aren't blooming yet. (Deer don't eat daffodils! That's why everyone in our neighborhood has them.) Our daffodils seem to bloom later than everyone else's, though. They always have. We suspect it's because when we planted the bulbs years ago, we followed the directions. Planted them six inches deep.

Thursday, April 2:

FINALLY, I finished reading The Overstory by Richard Powers, published in 2018 by W.W. Norton. It won the Pulitzer in 2019. What a stunning novel! Written in third person, it's long and sprawling and multi-layered, with multiple protagonists.

What's it about? In a word, trees! It's environmental fiction and it spans many decades, from the 1940s to the present.

Most of us realize we are connected with every living thing, but I'm afraid most of us think only of animals when we say "living things".  Like the polar bears and butterflies in my upcoming novel.

However, we are also connected to every plant, especially trees. Did you know they communicate with each other? That they help each other, as well as us? This novel is fascinating, even if keeping the many characters straight was a juggling act for me (since I read so slowly now). The story really takes off in Part 2 ("Trunk" -- Part 1 is "Roots", Part 3 is "Branches") when several of the characters from Part 1 meet up to protest logging companies that want to cut down old-growth forests.

This book has many quotable lines, but here's one of my favorites (from p. 443):  "You and the tree in your backyard come from a common ancestor. A billion and a half years ago, the two of you parted ways. But even now, after an immense journey in separate directions, that tree and you still share a quarter of your genes."

What have you read this week?

Have you learned any new skills this week?

Finally, a favor: If you can afford to do so, please donate some money to your local food bank. You can do this online. Not everyone can pay for groceries at a time like this.

COVID-19 STATS for April 2, 2020 (from WHO):

Countries affected: 206
Confirmed cases: 900,306
Confirmed deaths: 45,693

And if you're in the US and you're interested in seeing the predictions for the peak in your state, go here.

"It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics." George Bernard Shaw