Saturday, August 29, 2020

Pandemic Diary -- as August winds down, will life ever go back to normal?

Catching up on the Pandemic Diary

I know it's been nearly three weeks since I posted this diary and I'm sorry. But life gets a little crazy.

Sunday, August 16 (Day 160):

Yuck! Yes, that's a dust pan full of dead spotted lanternflies. I'm so sick of these invasive bugs! We've been killing 50 or 60 a day for weeks. They're getting wilier and more agressive as the August heat soars.

I woke up with a headache today, which happens much too often, and all I did all day was kill these bleeping bugs! That dust pan represents just one session of swatting and stomping. Add to that at least two or three more sessions a day.
You may remember that I couldn't call my mother when she first moved into Assisted Living. The good news is her phone was finally repaired and I can now call her. She's gone from a four-room Independent Living apartment to one small bedroom/sitting room, and she tells me she's feeling hemmed in now. I hope soon she'll get used to it. 

Tuesday, August 18 (Day 162):

This week I'm reading THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS by Leah Henderson. What a delightful story! Plus, it's time travel! Fast-paced, heartwarming, filled with suspense and love and Black excellence. Ailey is a likeable character and I adored his Grampa. All the characters are named for famous Black people, not just dancers like Alvin Ailey, but inventors, historians, authors, politicians, athletes, teachers, entrepreneurs. Perfect for libraries and schools! We need far more books like this, not just books about slavery or the Underground Railroad. Positive books about Black kids today. 

Friday, August 21 (Day 165):

Can you believe we've been sheltering in place for 165 days? It boggles the mind. The world has changed so much since early March.

We decided to cancel our landline, because the only calls we ever get on it are spam. It'll take some getting used to, but I'm already more relaxed without that constant ringing. Yes, I get occasional spam calls on my cell phone but nowhere near as many as we got on the landline. 

Tonight, I participated in a Twitter chat with my fellow 2021 debut authors. We're all members of #the21ders. It's been fun getting to know some of them and I'm learning a lot from the Slack group. Most of these debut MG and YA authors are far younger than I am (ha ha!) and more tech-savvy. But I'm really enjoying being part of this debut author group. 

Monday August 24 (Day 168):

This is the first larger group of deer we've seen this summer.  (For a while, we weren't seeing any, although we know they got into our garden at night -- twice!) Mostly, we've seen one or two at a time, and often three. But this group of six walked boldly through our back yard and kept moving. We figured it was three fawns with their moms.

Finished THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS, which I highly recommend.

Started reading YEAR OF WONDERS by Geraldine Brooks, an adult novel, for a change. It's about the Black Plague in England in 1665 and one small town that decides to isolate itself and keep outsiders away. The idea of quarantining an entire village doesn't seem so odd to me, now that we're all living through the Covid-19 pandemic! Thanks, Caroline Starr Rose, for recommending this beautifully-written book. 

Also today... 

my author website is now live!  Please visit and see what my older son has come up with! Isn't he talented? 

Friday, August 28 (Day 172):

I've deliberately avoided talking politics here, but if you're in the US, you know both the Democrats and the Republicans had their conventions (last week and this week), partly virtual because of the pandemic. I didn't watch either of them. Did you?

Excellent news! The spotted lanternflies are dwindling! Fewer and fewer each day this week. I really don't know why, other than the weather's been cooler, especially at night. 

And more excellent news! The 21ders have a website! And here is the link. Check it out. You'll learn about us and all our books.

I've been going through my mother's (pre-digital) photo albums for the last two weeks. She no longer has room for them herself, and my sisters didn't want them. I hated the thought of tossing them all, so I agreed to take them. I don't know where I'm going to keep them (right now they're stacked up in my older son's room, since he's rarely here)! But looking at them has been an interesting journey through my childhood and beyond. 

COVID-19 World Stats as of August 28 (from WHO):

Confirmed cases: 24,537,560

Confirmed deaths: 833,556

US COVID Stats as of August 27 (from Johns Hopkins):

Confirmed cases:  5.93 million

Confirmed deaths: 182,000 

It keeps going up. Have you been affected by this horrible virus? And please tell me what you're reading this week. Anything good you can recommend? I'll add it to my ever-growing TBR list.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Pandemic Diary -- August 9th: Tropical Storm Isaias and Spotted Lanternflies

Next on my TBR stack, a novel in verse! And isn't that a gorgeous cover?

Beyond Me by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Tuesday, August 4 (Day 148):

Hurricane Isaias has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm. But it's still a nasty storm with a lot of rainfall in a few hours. The storm drain in our backyard flooded. 

And of course, our power went out, around 11:30 am. We're grateful we have a small generator, to keep our food cold. We decided to do this after losing all that food in 2011 from Hurricane Irene. It also runs the microwave and a few lights and the TV (my husband would go nuts without that). But no oven or stove, no washer or dryer, no air conditioner. 

And, naturally, there's no internet. Plus, our landline phones don't work, even the old-fashioned one with the cord that we keep plugged in for emergencies.

Thursday, August 6 (Day 150):

Yes. We've been sheltering in place for 150 days. Hard to believe. And this virus is nowhere near over, even though some people seem to think it is. We will always wear masks if we absolutely have to go out in public, but we mostly stay home.

Still no power, of course, and no internet. It's been two full days now. But I can charge my cell phone and use it as a phone. Not to go online. The internet is still out. 

However, I still can't talk to my mother. Her phone in her new room in Assisted Living still isn't hooked up! This is extremely frustrating. My sister makes several calls a day to the service provider, but still nothing is happening. I wrote my mother another brief letter, telling her how much I miss talking to her.

Rain in the morning, but stopped by afternoon. And yes, the spotted lanternflies always appear in the afternoon when the sun comes out. 

This is just a small portion of the 30 or 40 (or 50) we kill every day now!

Burgers on the grill for dinner. Then we watched "E.T". Believe it or not, we had never seen it all these years. Have you?

Saturday, August 8 (Day 152):

Woke up with a raging headache. Still no power. This is the fourth day now! Peco is telling us it'll be restored by 11 tonight. It's getting old...

Power came back on at 11:26 am! Woo hoo! First thing I did was start a load of laundry. Thank goodness.  

Our sons visited in the early evening, when the deck is shaded enough to sit outside. They stayed about an hour and a half. It was lovely seeing them both again, even if I couldn't hug them.

Still waiting for Justice for Breonna...

COVID-19 World Stats as of August 8 (from WHO):

Confirmed cases: 19,462,112
Confirmed deaths: 722,285

US Stats as of August 8 (from the CDC):

Confirmed cases: 4,920,369
Confirmed deaths: 160,220

Tell me about you. Did you lose power from Isaias? Are you inundated with spotted lanternflies?  Are you continuing to shelter in place? 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Pandemic Diary -- I'm back! And the world is crazier than ever...

Currently reading -- and wow, is it intense and moving!

Sunday, August 2, 2020 (Day 146):

I'm back from my one-month break. You may not have even noticed I was gone. But the world (and the Covid-19 crisis, among other crises) went on. I'm not going to bore you with details from every day of the last month (I've been journaling the old-fashioned way -- in a spiral-bound notebook). Good grief, no! I'm also not going to discuss mask controversies (just wear a mask when you go out -- please!), continuing protests over racial injustice, or politics. Especially politics. You get enough of that in your news feed.

Looking back, two things stand out for me from July. 

1) I received and finished going through my copy edits for EVERYWHERE BLUE. This was a new experience for me. Being a debut author has surprises every stage of the journey. Apparently, I have no idea how to type an ellipsis. Always thought it was dot dot dot. But it's not! 

It's dot SPACE dot SPACE dot!

And I've never known the difference between en dashes and em dashes -- and when to use each. Thankfully, my copy editor knows.

The only thing we disagreed on was the spelling of rainforest. One word or two? Rainforest or rain forest? What do you think?

After emailing back the copyedited manuscript to my editor, I breathed a sigh of relief, because of the second thing that happened in July.

2) Toward the end of the month, my mother moved into Assisted Living. This is a huge step, a narrowing of her world, down from a three-room apartment to a single bed/sitting room, about the size of the average dorm room, but with private bath. And now that she's in Assisted Living, I won't be able to visit her, because of Covid. We weren't able to visit from March to early July, when she was in Independent Living. Then when our section of Pennsylvania finally entered the green phase in early July, we could visit again, with masks and distancing, of course. But last week, they moved her and of course that wing of the lifecare facility is off-limits. 

What hurts the most: her phone still isn't hooked up so I can't even call her. My sister is working on that. It's frustrating, to say the least. I sent Mom a card, but I have no way of knowing if she received it. 

I'm trying to keep busy and work on my next novel in verse while I wait for proofs and cover sketches from my publisher. And the second half of my advance, which should be here this week. I hope.

How have you been keeping busy this past month?

COVID-19 World Stats as of August 1 (From WHO):

Confirmed cases: 17,660,623
Confirmed deaths: 680,894

US Stats as of August 2 (From the CDC):

Confirmed cases: 4,601,526
Confirmed deaths: 154,002

As a comparison, here are the stats from a month ago:

COVID-19 World Stats as of July 2 (from WHO):

Confirmed cases: 10,710,005
Confirmed deaths: 517,877

US Stats as of July 3  (from the CDC):

Confirmed cases: 2,732,531
Confirmed deaths: 128,648

Yes, it just keeps going up. This won't be over anytime soon, I'm afraid.