Our Strange New World

I’ve started and stopped writing this post so many times. Should I be upbeat? Should I lay it all out there? And even as I write this I’m not sure where I’m going.

I backtracked through emails to see how the pandemic unfolded for me. March 4th I took my daughter shopping and we had a great time. After we went to the grocery store and we stocked up on a few things — just in case. My March 5th post for the Wickeds was about the Kensington Cozy Con that was supposed to be this weekend. By March 6th I was pondering if it was safe to go to a book fest on March 20th and wondering if I should cancel. It was canceled. March 7th I realize the CDC thinks I’m elderly – what???!!!! March 8th my husband and I went to the winery where our daughter works. March 12th I saw my friend and neighbor Mary – I haven’t seen her since. By March 13th I’d started self-isolating. Our daughter was laid off on March 15th. My husband started working from home a few days later.

So here we are. Our strange new world.

But there are upsides. It’s spring and we can be outdoors. I’ve seen way more families outside together. Last weekend the Wickeds got together via Zoom and it was fabulous to see their faces. I’ve seen lots of people saying they haven’t been able to read, but that hasn’t been a problem for me. I just finished Mimi Lee Gets A Clue by recent guest Jennifer J. Chow and just started Julie Hyzy’s Virtual Sabatoge. (I confess to a little whiplash from going from one genre to another, but love both books.) Writing on the other hand – that isn’t happening. But I know I’ll work through that too!

I gave my neighbor’s daughter (she’s seven) the first four books in my favorite childhood series by Maud Hart Lovelace and got this sweet note back.

My twenty-seven year old daughter has taken social distancing seriously and isn’t out running around. She’s sad that she doesn’t have a job right now. But there is a bright side — she likes to cook so we are having excellent quaran-eats.

Shrimp, mushroom, and spinach pasta:

Nachos with leftover steak:

And when she ask what to do with the extra blueberries, I suggested scones. She’d never made them before but they were delicious! Blueberry scones with a strudel topping and icing!

And since she misses her job she set up a wine tasting for us! It’s a Petit Manseng — the grapes grow well in Virginia. It has a floral nose, fruit flavors. It can be sweet but the three we tried were made in a dry style.

A last minute update. Yesterday before I set out on my late afternoon walk with Lily, I sent Mary a text and asked her to meet me outside her house in a few minutes. It was great to see her face from an appropriate distance.

Readers: How are you doing? What’s pulling you through? What’s making you grumpy? (Barb’s daughter-in-law had an “it’s okay to be grumpy” post on Facebook the other day and I loved her philosophy of yes there are many misfortunes, but it’s okay to be grumpy too. Trust me I contributed to that post.)

39 Thoughts

  1. Strange times for sure, Sherry. I know exactly when I started quarantine – the day I got back from Puerto Rico, March 9. I love “It’s okay to be grumpy!” Frankly, my writing is pulling me through. It’s a great respite from the outside world.

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  2. I’m not getting much writing done either, Sherry. And March was definitely a roller coaster that isn’t over yet. But compared to a lot of people I’m doing okay. I think we all just need to hang in there and realize the world won’t be this way forever. Hugs to you, your family, and the rest of the Wickeds.

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  3. My timeline was much the same as yours, Sherry. I had lunch with a friend on March 12 and went into self-imposed isolation on Friday the 13th. Emotionally, I feel fragile (yes, I’m a senior citizen too! How did THAT happen???) but getting better and stronger, although some days are just horrible. I am reading. Writing? Not so much, but my characters for my next book are starting to talk to me again, so maybe in the very near future…

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  4. Being retired, we are use to being at home. We did have a major trip planned in which we were to have left on April 17th which has all been cancelled. Oh well, there’s always later. This trip will have to be next spring. So we look forward to the one planned middle summer and hope we get to go on this one.

    In the mean time, we both love to bake – but two people can only eat so much. We also love photography so it’s a blessing that it’s spring. We live outside the city limits on a small acreage with lots of daily critter visitors. So we are spending a lot of time on our front porch watching and listening and taking a photo or two. In the mean time, there are the day to day chores that still need to be done. Plus I do enjoy my reading. 🙂

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  5. I started working from home March 17th, but every other day. When i was told on March 23rd that I would be working from home every day, I went it to get my desktop and stuff from my office.I don’t even like going to the store anymore. It gives me anxiety, to the point where I have to use a rescue inhaler.I have mild asthma issues, so I’m at risk, should I get it. I try to avoid the news as much as possible. I couldn’t enjoy reading for a while so I just read Island Affair (the cover was so pretty and it’s set in Key West…win-win) in one night and that helped. Now I’m reading Al Dente’s Inferno. My anxiety is slowing lessening some days. Other days it rears it’s ugly head. Today isn’t a good day so far. Hoping that changes since it’s sunny outside. Hopefully that will help.

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    1. We’ve been using curbside pick up for our groceries. Then we have an elaborate system for handling the groceries. Who would have thought a few months ago that buying groceries would be so scary. I looked up Island Affair and it looks fun — thank you for the tip. Take care, Kristin.

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  6. I remember talking to my mother about my taking a trip to England to see relatives and do book research and she commented about being leery due to the virus. My editor started working from home 3 days a week and then bam, after March 12, it was full-time. Then there was the raid on the (only) grocery store by lines of traffic from out-of-state (we are near Maine and Vermont). Scary and weird. My personal Waterloo was flour, since I love to bake. Couldn’t even get it online. It’s still scarce.

    I haven’t been able to stop working because of my commitments but I’ve certainly been weighed down by concerns both close to home and in general. This has impacted all three of our daughters and their families through lay-offs and forced closure (ski area and hair salon) and my therapist daughter is counseling high-needs clients via phone now (for once insurances and government worked quickly together to allow this). My son-in-law is home-schooling a five year old which is adorable! The online gatherings of those in my faith practice have also helped enormously.

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    1. We haven’t been able to find flour or yeast either. We are down to one pack of yeast because my husband made pizza last night. I have a deadline next fall so have to kick the writing mojo in soon. I think it’s harder to see our families impacted that how we feel ourselves.

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  7. I’m okay.

    What’s pulling me through? Well, there’s not a whole hell of a lot I can do about any of this so I just keep on keeping on.

    I get up, clean up, putter around to do some minor housework, listen to music, read and watch TV. I do a little writing, mostly on my series The Cassette Chronicles but I’m gearing up for some book reviews as well.

    I mostly worry about money. I may get unemployment (if they ever send me the money) but it’s less than 2/3 what I usually make in a week so times will be tight. I’m becoming a wizard at figuring out what money is coming in and what needs to be set aside for the bills. Covered 4 out of the 6 main bills with the two tax returns so far. April will be taken care of but May starts bringing the crunch in full.

    What am I grumpy about? Okay, I know that my own personal grumpiness pales in comparison to what’s going on but it still stinks that I’m going to be missing at least two concerts I was looking forward to. Four book signings are gone. In fact, pretty much everything that I would spend discretionary money on I can’t do. It’s all postponed, cancelled or closed. And my trivia night Thursdays are gone which means I don’t get to see my teammates or the impossibly gorgeous waitress I’m sweet on. (Apparently resistance on her part is NOT futile because I have no shot, LOL). Oh, the teammates are all good. The elderly married couple are at home and seemingly okay, I dropped something they needed off to their house for them. They asked what they owed me and I said, just buy me dinner when we go back to trivia. The other guy on the team is okay too, but he’s pretty well off so I don’t think it matters if he’s out of work.

    The fact that I can’t really help out an independent bookstore by making a purchase right now bums me out. But the money goes to keeping a roof over my head to store the books I already have. The one new purchase I’m expecting in the mail, I paid for in advance weeks ago.

    I’m sticking to the protocols for the most part. I’m mainly at home. I go out to the bank (drive thru only) and grocery shopping. I’ve gotten take out three times. I’ve been to the post office. I’m spending a lot of time on the Net.

    It’s not all that different from my pre-virus life. I spent most of my time home and alone. But when it is a necessity and not an option, it does tend to grate on you after a while.

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    1. I’ve found that to be true too, Jay! I’ve never been a big fan of grocery shopping, but now I suddenly want to stroll through aisles and pick things out. And the cancelled events is so hard! Take care.

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  8. Sherry! Thanks so much for the shout-out! I’ve been trying to write and having some luck but it sure seems that baking is grabbing my attention these days. Two batches of chocolate chip cookies and, yesterday, a pound cake. It’s half gone already – whoops! But I have to say that having Curt and our youngest (Biz – assistant editor at Booklist) working from home has been pretty great. I’m really enjoying having them here. And even though we’re trying to do curbside pickup with a couple of local restaurants, I’m also enjoying experimenting with new recipes for dinner.

    We had a nice visit with our friends across the street by pulling up our lawn chairs (appropriate distance, natch) on their driveway. And I have conversation and cocktails planned with some writer friends tonight via conference call.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with this post. What would we do without this ability to connect?

    And I’m really looking forward to the next (safe) mystery event where we can all hug again!

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    1. What a great way to see the neighbors! And Virtual Sabotage — oh, my. It has my heart racing in a good way! I keep thinking is this a good guy or a bad guy? It’s been in my TBR pile way to long but I’m glad i have it to read now, in this time. Hugs to your family!

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  9. Wonderful post. Can you fly your daughter to me to cook and for a wine tasting? I’m grumpy about people who ignore the order not to hike the trail in our neighborhood. I put up a sign reminding them, in addition to the signs from the ranger, and some guy wrote a note saying I drive up here to jog every day and I’m doing it any way. I grieve for the sick and for small businesses and the students like my daughter who have been torn away from their school homes. And I’m terrified there may not be a fall semester.

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    1. I don’t get people who don’t get this!!! There are many things to grieve for big and small — I think it’s hard to tell ourselves it’s okay to have these feelings. And I’m glad you can say them out loud! I wish I could send my daughter out to you — of course I would come with her. And I hope your daughter gets to go back to school. Love you, Ellen! Take care.

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  10. I’m working like crazy. I’m working from home, but it is month end, and we have extra work to do accounting for all the implications of our business shutting down. Trust me folks, it costs lots of money for a business to not operate. Just because they aren’t open doesn’t mean there aren’t expenses.

    I’m still reading as much as ever. Wish it could be more, but I don’t have the time. My TV shows are saving their new episodes until closer to May, so I don’t have much TV to watch. Worse yet, they will end their seasons without true finales. I hate that idea because I will have unintended cliffhangers instead of season ending cliffhangers. You know? And who knows how/if they will resolve things? I realize that’s a minor thing, but it is bugging me.

    As I’ve been sharing on Facebook, the Camp Pendleton Mud Run cancelled their event in June this year. I realized that was my last mud run last year, so I will have gone over 12 months without a mud run. With how few there are any more, it might be 24 months or longer (I might have a conflict with next year’s mud run.) That’s bumming me out. I get it. I get why they are cancelling. I support it. But I was using that as a light at the end of this tunnel.

    But this weekend? I’m hoping for some reading time and a movie or two that I’ve been meaning to rewatch. But I’ll have blog stuff to do as well, so we will see how it goes.

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    1. I am grumpy about people who ignore the shelter in place orders. The other day on my way to the grocery store, I drove by one of our local parks — there were way too many cars in the parking lot and every tennis court was being used. I work part-time for the local City government. The City won’t shut down, but I made the decision to stay home after a co-worker decided to self-quarantine at home because he had “some symptoms”. I am in the senior citizen category (I don’t know how that happened!) so I stay home as much as possible. I go to the grocery store and have done some curb-side pickup of dinner just to help out some local favorite restaurants. I’ve been cooking more, but I’m not very creative. Everyone stay safe and well!

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    2. We are in TV show limbo here too. I’ve been watching more HGTV and Food Network than normal. I’m so sad about your mud runs. It’s hard to see things we looked forward to cancelled even when we know it’s for the best! Take care!

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  11. Feeling the need to reach out to fellow Virginians! Sherry, hope you are doing well. We’ve never met, but hello, how are you, and how are you doing? Where in Virginia do you live? I’m in Warrenton. We’re all going a bit stir crazy, but hoping to continue seeing better weather so we can spend more and more time outside. Take care and stay safe!

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    1. Thanks for reaching out! I live near Fairfax so not too far from you. The weather is good — windy today–the trees are beautiful. It helps lift my spirits! You take care too!

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      1. The sunny days are always a bit better … even if windy like today. I haven’t had much luck focusing on writing lately, but I hope to get back to it soon. Trying very hard to finish my first book!

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  12. I’m trying to think I went to my monthly greyhound Meet & Greet the second Saturday of March, so that’s what, March 14? I met my daughter to take her grocery shopping on the 15th because I had a feeling she should stock up and it’d be a grocery run that would bust her budget (note, I should check and see how she’s doing for groceries). I *think* The Boy started his “virtual learning” for school on the 16th. I know the University of Pittsburgh extended Spring Break until the 23rd and when classes resumed, they were all virtual. I’m pretty sure they told students not to come back at that point as well. I work from home normally, but I’m pretty sure The Hubby started on 3/23; he was supposed to go into the office one day a week, but they scrapped that pretty fast.

    Emotionally, I’m okay. The most annoying thing is no one will put a toilet seat down (men, ugh!). I’m reading 3 different books (the second in Bruce Catton’s Civil War triology, a Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt, and James Ziskin’s TURN TO STONE). Deadlines are keeping me busy too. I’m writing the second Home Front Mystery (THE STORIES WE TELL) and working on edits to the third Laurel Highlands Mystery (BROKEN TRUST, out this August). At least I am when my husband isn’t using my computer for his Zoom meetings. I think I need to put Zoom on the other computer for him.

    Right now, the sun is out, the birds are chirping, and I can see budding leaves on my neighbor’s lilac bush. I’m taking it one day at a time, trying to be nice to myself, and remembering that this, too, shall pass.

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  13. It’s been a topsy-turvy kind of time for me. Thankfully, I have been able to read. I’m trying my best to support authors with new books as much as I can. Cooking is nice, but having a full household (spouse + kids) means not as many leftovers and more time in the kitchen. Take care of yourself, Sherry!

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  14. We are very fortunate in that we both get Social Security and hubby gets a decent pension. Of course, our retirement investments are taking a huge hit, but we don’t depend on them for day to day living, and we assume they will recover eventually. Our daughter ended up with no job and no income, but has picked up a gig job and has just been hired at a grocery. Not the life a 50-year old, successful woman wants to live, but she is a hard worker who just won’t give up. Unfortunately, she lives on the other side of the country and our annual drive out there had to be cancelled, of course.

    Like many of you, the people who ignore the shelter in place and separation orders are my biggest peeve right now. It is necessary to get groceries and delivery may be impossible and pick up can be a real hardship for some people, too. So, going into the store is necessary for some folks. Got that. But how about making at least an effort to stay 6 feet apart? And don’t hoard!

    We keep our spirits up by taking drives in the country and enjoying the greening and flowering. And we love to watch the wild animals in our back yard. It is so important to notice and really appreciate the little pleasures in life. Sitting under a rock, complaining and worrying will not make anything better for you or for anyone else.

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  15. I’m sorry you had to cancel your trip! and your daughter must be amazing. It is important to notice the little things. This morning on my walk with Lily the sky was bright blue without any clouds and the trees have tiny leaves that are the bright spring green. It was beautiful

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  16. Sherry, I have been reading A LOT and enjoying it. Probably am the last person anyone would think would buy an iPad, but I did and am reading e-books. I have your Beer To Eternity in my wishlist ready to order in July. The best thing we have found is to count our blessings: being at home with each other (my husband is a good guy who cooks) and watching the birds and squirrels playing outside our kitchen window…doing some baking (chocolate chip cookies can make anyone feel a bit better) and online church services also help. Thank you to all the heroes of this time in the medical and other professions…police, utility folks etc. for all they are doing. And, thank you writers for the books you have written and those you will write. You are helping to keep me entertained and your work is important!

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    1. I’m so glad you are continuing to enjoy reading! And thank you for putting From Beer to Eternity on your wish list! My walks with Lily have kept me grounded and grateful!

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  17. Both of these books are on my TBR list–thank you for sharing them and thank you for this post. After flying back from Left Coast Crime, I’ve stayed at home with the family, distance working. These are strange times indeed–wishing everyone well!

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  18. Thank goodness I was able to have lunch with my cousins and go to our church senior club that week. Friday the 13th I went to the library, and the next day it was closed. Since then I’ve gone to the grocery store each week. My comic book guy delivered my comics but probably can’t do that this month. I enjoy cooking but did order from a restaurant to try to help.

    It is hard not to see friends as I live alone. At least I have other ways to keep in touch. I’ve always felt that there is nothing wrong with complaining A LITTLE, not constantly. People need to vent and also get feedback. Sometimes you need someone to tell you you’re not crazy or seriously sick. Stay well, everyone!

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  19. What pulls me through is..One way or another, this too shall pass. I get to see my youngest daughter, her hubby & my youngest grand-daughter & my youngest son comes by on sundays. I get to talk, text, facetime my 2 older kids. & my 13 other grand-kids. This pulls me through. I get to chat via facebook, facetime, text, call my sisters, mother, people I love, but can’t go see. My sinuses & allergies hit hard early Feb (yes, I’ve been to the DR.) so can’t be around mother, she has lung cancer, just got over pneumonia, her immuno therapy has been put on hold, I was with mother for 2months, took her daily to radiation, chemo, but have not seen her now since early Feb. but I get to talk or facetime with her. This pulls me through. I read, drink coffee, piddle in the house or yard. This pulls me through. Prayer pulls me through. I and mine have it so very much better than others..We are very blessed.. Do I cry? well of course. Do I suck it up & carry on, yep.. Prayers for all xoxoxo

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