If not now, when?

By Julie, sheltering in place in Somerville

This is an extraordinary time, isn’t it? Yesterday I walked to the grocery store wearing my mask and glove, and had to wait for over a half-hour before I could get into the store, since they are limiting the number of people in there at any one time. I’m planning my Zoom Easter dinner with my family, wishing I could see and hug them all in person, but grateful for the technology that let’s us be together.

I am working on book #4 in the Garden Squad series, which is a lovely distraction. I’m working on my business, creating webinars and downloads for creative people. Baking experiments have commenced. I read an article on how to make my own yeast, and I’m going to give it a whirl. I’ve been working out online with Team Body Project, and I’m really enjoying my boxing training.

Julie with her new ukulele
Me and my baby

I also decided to learn how to play the ukulele.

Let me explain why this is a fairly big deal. I’m not musically inclined. I took guitar when I was very young, but I didn’t keep it up. I’ve always wanted to learn the piano, but didn’t have a piano and it’s a big investment to make on spec. When we talked about our musical histories last month, my entries were lacking. I did mention that I bought a ukulele, but it hadn’t arrived yet.

It’s here now. It came with a tuner, which is amazing. Because I think that tuning it without help would have taken me the rest of the month. I’ve been practicing two chords, but it’s slow going. I’m very grateful for YouTube and lessons that I can replay several times.

I doubt that you’ll ever hear me play in public, but right now my music lessons serve many purposes. They’re an excellent distraction. They remind me that I’m human, and make me take myself less seriously. Because really, not nailing “You Are My Sunshine” on the umpteenth attempt is humbling. I usually only do things I’m fairly certain I’ll be good at, so this is a stretch. Maybe my biggest since I “ran” a half-marathon ten years ago.

They also remind me that it’s never too late to learn something new. I teach this all the time. But now I’m practicing what I preach. Stretching myself creatively is a gift to myself and my well-being. And it’s fun. Fun is always good, but is a gift right now.

Happily the cats don’t seem to mind, though I have noticed that they go into the bedroom when I take my uke out.

Be kind to yourself these days, my friends. Do something creative that distracts.

By the way, if you get the Wickeds’ newletter, keep an eye on your inbox tonight. You’ll see what we’ve all been up to.

Readers, what are you doing for distraction these days?

28 Thoughts

  1. I love this, Julie. We had a baritone uke around the house when I was in high school and I learned to play it some. Easier than a guitar! So far I’m not doing a new creative adventure, but I am reading more. And baking more. Let me know how your natural yeast turns out. My son has made his own sourdough starter several times from the air.

  2. For distraction, I’m kind of just doing things that need to be done. I’m working on reading and then writing some book reviews. I’ve also got articles in my series The Cassette Chronicles to write as well.

    AcornTV is free on my cable system right now, so I’ve been watching Doc Martin the last few days.

    Beyond that I’m doing the regular housework stuff and going out to the bank, post office or grocery store as needed. My local store started limiting how many people in the store at once thing yesterday.

    I was going to take part in that online writing seminar you did Julie, but there’s something wrong with the volume on my computer, I would never have heard a thing despite having the volume jacked up. I do thank Edith for making me aware of it though.

    Other than that, I’ve kind of just been surfing the Net and keeping in touch with people I like to make sure they are okay.

    1. Sounds like you’re doing a lot, Jay. Acorn has a ton of content to explore, so that’s fun. There’s an Australian series called Mr & Mrs Murder that is delightful.

      I’m also checking in with folks more. Zooming on whims. Texting friends. We all need to take care of each other.

      Re your computer, you could try plugging in some headphones to see if that helps with the volume.

      Take care of yourself.

  3. I, too, have been trying new recipes. It’s fun to see what all we can try new with the supplies we already have on hand.

    Also, I’ve always loved to that photos. Before last May, I only had the point and shoot camera and my photos were those where you took a hundred to get one that was half way decent. Always thought I’d never figure out all the switches and knobs of a “real” camera. Hubby convinced me to give it a whirl and he would help me. So I took the plunge and dropped down the money for a good Nikon.

    I’d already started learning to use all the manual settings. After being home after vacations cancelled, I’ve had more time to learn and experiment on bugs, butterflies, plants blooming and critters. Thanks to the extra time, a small acreage to walk around on and having a great front porch to sit and observe, I think I’m making some pretty good progress. I’ve even gotten some photographs that I’m really proud of and worthy of framing. Well, I think so and after all doesn’t my opinion count. 🙂

    Come to Mountain View, AR, the folk music capital, after all this is over and you would fit right in. There will be the pickin’ park, the courthouse lawn and just about any corner in town someone will be playing among those many playing the ukulele. Everyone is welcome to join in including those just learning. So just keep up the practice and most of all, have fun doing it!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Kay, I love that you are diving into photography. I love seeing people’s work. Not only for its beauty, but because it’s a glimpse into how they see the world.

      Perhaps one of the offshoots of all of this is that I will join in and play with folks, rather than hang back and watch.

  4. Jay, I’m jealous of the free AcornTV. I got to the part in Poirot where they are only available on Acorn, and I cannot bring myself to pay for yet another subscription.

    Distractions? I don’t have time to be distracted. The day job still keeps me busy and I have a manuscript to turn in this Friday (eek – that’s tomorrow!).

      1. Liz, I won’t pay for the subscription either. My cable bill is high enough as it is. So I’m watching as much of Doc Martin as I can before the free preview expires. I’ve got one episode left in Season 3.

        I’ve watched Agatha Raisin, Queens of Mystery and a miniseries set in Australia. I can’t remember the name of that one but Judy Davis played a sheriff in that one.

  5. I’ve been distracting myself fiddling with a romance I started a couple of years ago. Notice I said fiddling not writing. But it seems like the past couple of days ideas have been bubbling to the surface and I see it like a Hallmark movie in my head — it’s weird — I can see the office my protagonist works in her boss, her coworkers. Now to translate it to the page. I love that you are learning to play the ukulele! You never cease to amaze me with all the things you do. You are truly an inspiration, Julie.

    1. I love that you’re working on that book. Now’s the time to let idea bubble for sure. Thanks for your kind words about me trying things. I dont claim to be good at many of them, but it’s always interesting to stretch.

  6. I’m impressed! I have never been good at any musical instrument. Lately I have been reading more. It’s fun to read about past times when people could actually leave their houses!

    1. I’ve never been any good either, but now’s the time to try.

      I’ve been thinking about books written during during difficult times, and whether they reflect the time or not. I keep reading things and thinking “move away”.

  7. Dear Julie, Thank you for the huge laugh of the day…when I take out my ukulele, the cats go into the bedroom. I just giggled right out loud and then kept right on laughing. Wiping tears from my eyes now!
    And, a big thank you for you writing a new Garden Squad book. Can’t wait to read it!

  8. Good luck with this.

    There are so many things I could potentially be doing – organizing and thinning out my Hallmark ornaments, playing my guitar (which I haven’t touched in years so it would be more like relearning it). However, I’m not finding that much extra time. Between working from home and my blog, I’m as busy as ever. I have a little less TV, so I’ve been watching those movies I always say I want to rewatch but haven’t had the time. It’s kind of fun. So I guess that’s what I’m doing for distraction. And a friend has decided to start a virtual rewatch of Once Upon a Time. Looking forward to diving back into that show on Sunday.

  9. Good luck with the ukulele, Julie. I had four years of piano lessons as a young child and can’t play a thing. I suppose practicing would have helped!

    Now that the WX has gotten nice enough to work out in the yard, I’m back into my element and the days fly by. I also have a lot of projects to do inside that are slowing getting checked off the list.

    Having had to cancel our trip to AZ (from PA) to visit our daughter, I’m certainly feeling the call of the road, but the trip will happen eventually and I want all of us to be safe.

  10. I admire your determination to learn to play the ukelele, Julie. No musical talent here at all.

    Like you, I am baking more and did make my own sourdough starter for the first time (it was easy). And I now have made 2 loaves of sourdough bread and several batches of buckwheat-sourdough pancakes which were yummy.

    I also have been missing my interaction with the mystery fiction community so I participated in 2 virtual book launches this week, as well as listening to an online author podcast interview. And I signed up for 2 virtual Noir at the Bar in Boston & D.C. I certainly could not do this in person, so it should be fun.

    And I signed up for 90-day free trial of a streaming TV service called Crave (here in Canada). I hope to binge watch some shows such as Killing Eve, Cardinal (Ontario police procedural) and Star Trek Picard.

    Maybe I will try some other forms of distraction later. I am missing my reading mojo and have not finished a book in 3 weeks …I normally can read 1-2 books/day at home.

      1. I am glad you are able to watch Cardinal in the US. I need to catch up …watching Season 2 now. Season 4 launched here this week. And I will also slowly watch Picard…only 10 episodes!

  11. Good luck with the ukulele. As a librarian, I’m missing serving the public, but at least I can do some work from home, helping to maintain our online resources. When I’m not working, I’ve been going for walks, working on puzzles, watching some shows and of course reading cozy mysteries and blogs about cozy mysteries. Earlier this week I finished Pruning the Dead (which I absolutely loved) and today started Murder on Cape Cod. Hoping more of The Wickeds’ books are available though my library’s online resources.

    1. Thank you for your kind words about PRUNING. You have a busy job–libraries continue to be so important to folks. I’ve dusted off a couple of puzzles as well. And the Wickeds will keep you busy reading for sure.

  12. Watching the free Acorn preview, too, but it ends today so have to decide whether I want to subscribe. Also, baking, gardening, and, of course reading. I’ve read that some people are having trouble concentrating to read but I haven’t had any problems. Reading is my go-to in tough times.

  13. I love that you are learning to play the ukelele! Such fun! I always think that being willing to be a beginner is the key to happiness and a youthful enthusiasm for life! I’ve been learning to sketch as part of a 100 Day project and it has been a delight! I hope you have as much fun with your new venture!

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