The View From the Time Out Chair

Well, here we all are, enjoying various degrees of home detention. Who woulda thought, huh? It occurred to me how often we use isolation as a form of punishment. In prison, solitary confinement is about the worst fate that can befall an inmate, to the point that many psychologists consider it a form of torture that can’t be abolished quickly enough.

Naughty children are sent to their rooms, unruly toddlers are told to take a turn on the Time Out chair. As a society, Americans have historically dealt with their oddballs and miscreants by using them to tame the wilderness, an often solitary and therefore dangerous undertaking.

There’s another side to solitude, though. A peaceful, contemplative side that has been part of the monastic tradition for centuries. Any number of scientific advances have germinated in the course of a solo walk, and one of our quintessential heroic archetypes is the lone wolf. This character has become skillful and self-sufficient by adapting to his or her particular wilderness and learning its contours over a long course of careful study.

So here’s to us, the lone wolves of the family rooms and backyards.

For me, a shelter-in-place lifestyle isn’t much different from normal. I no longer go to the horse barn, which means I might leave the property once a week–to provision, bank, and pick up meds–as opposed to twice a week. I am still aware though, that things have changed–radically for many of us–and might never be quite the same again.

I’m OK, so far, and part of what sustains me is the company of my cats. They give me a concrete way to worry–Forget TP. Will the stores have cat food and kitty litter?–as opposed to leaving me prey to apocalyptic anxiety. They are soft and furry, they purr, they have their little dramas and personalities. They are company of a kind that is familiar and comforting to me.

My two-acre yard is an enormous consolation, in part because spring is marching forth right on schedule–what virus?–and in part because it’s hard to feel claustrophobic on a bucolic two-acre parcel. I can plant pansies, I can clean up the beds left over from last year. I can move rocks around in the stream–a surprisingly soothing pastime.

My work is a particularly precious delight. I play make believe for a living, and now is a great time to have a job that focuses on the transformative power of love, and the miracle of human courage. My current work in progress is Ash Dorning and Della Haddonfield’s tale, and they are both people isolated by emotional challenges. What a metaphor.

On the not-helpful side of the scorecard, I place excessive exposure to the news. We’re in a dangerous time, I get that. Age places me in the higher-risk demographic–I picked up on that detail too. Unless there’s some significant new development, I have my marching orders for the next month or so.

Keeping in touch with my family, even by silly texts, is helpful. Watching the stock market is not helpful. Bringing yard flowers into the house is helpful. Staying friends with my tread desk is helpful. Engaging with social media trolls–never very smart–is an absolute no-go now. Reading good books–exceedingly helpful!

What’s working for you? What’s making life a little harder? Any surprises or disappointments? To three commenters, I’ll send a $25 Amazon gift card, but you have to promise not spend it all on TP.


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55 comments on “The View From the Time Out Chair

  1. Our governor put out the order of *shelter-in-place* yesterday which began today. I had been slowly (sorta) stocking up on items I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get in the last few weeks. Mostly food for my autistic son who is on an anti-migraine diet. It’s nothing crazy but things like soup without yeast extract or msg and his favorite juice and oatmeal. I picked up cereal for the rest of us and boxes of pasta and jarred sauce. Our freezer is full and I feel very lucky since now every grocery store is rationing fresh meat. I will run out maybe once a week to pick up things if need be but I think we’ll be fine.

    Those of us who are quarantining together have decided to take turns choosing a movie or concert or a music CD for the evening entertainment. We’ve watched *Fiddler on the Roof* and a Met Production of *Turandot*–both wonderful–so far. Not sure what we’re watching tomorrow night BUT NOT THE NEWS.

    I am going to take a walk around the block (it’s allowed) beginning Monday, every day. I think I need to get out to maintain my sanity. 🙁 I have so many cleaning projects (yeah, it’s my oven I’ve been putting off)I’m going to do. Plus I bought some art supplies, like drawing paper and colored pencils; I’m actually looking forward to doing that.

    Rehearsals are on hold until further notice and my son’s church gig has canceled services through Holy Week and Easter. DH is working, since he is a physician, and seeing patients. If there are tricky trachs to do on COVID-19 patients, he will do them. It’s difficult but we are a doctor’s family and are used to his sacrifices but I am very worried about him.

    • Just want you to know that I am part of the grateful public out there. I am grateful and worried about our doctors, nurses and first responders. I am also grateful for all those workers stocking our shelves and others keeping the supply chains moving.

    • Sounds like you have this, maybe as a result of enduring so many mid-West winters. Big props to DH for his heroism.
      The walk every day is a great idea. Someplace I read that getting adequate Vitamin D is essentially to immune functioning, so even if you aren’t stir-crazy. Go get some rays.

      • Teenie Marie, in my home county on 10 March, 65 people came to choir practice. Forty-three of them tested positive for Covid-19. Take good care.

  2. A shout out to the doctors and other health professionals. God bless the grocery store clerks and keep them healthy. I am grateful for the people maintaining power, water, wifi and garbage pick-up. My own family is sharing goofy texts and suggestions for the quarantunes list.

    • So many people are showing up so we can hunker down. I am always appreciative of the people who haul trash, and their jobs are riskier now too and as essential as ever. Here’s wishing safety and health to everybody, everywhere in the whole wide world.

  3. Hi Grace
    I live alone and work at home so life has not changed much. I miss my exercise classes and the library but I am having fun exploring the ebooks which are still available Thank you for the recommendation of Joanna Bourne, I had not yet discovered her. My music teacher has fragile health and has cancelled all teaching, except by phone, which is different.
    Friends are sharing fun things on email.
    We are in a declared state of emergency and asked to stay home up here in Manitoba. Winter is not yet over but I have seen many more people out walking, and it is safe to go on the streets, which are bare, unlike the iced over sidewalks, because there is so little traffic. I got out myself today and it was very peaceful. Cold wind though.
    Fortunately I have not needed toilet paper and don’t like hand sanitizer so have not encountered that problem. No meat was a little disconcerting but that seems to be solved.
    I am ordering my annuals on line from a local nursery and will probably not be travelling in May as planned so i am looking forward to playing in the yard. Spring is coming, keep smiling

    • Spring is coming! I also notice that as we’re told to socially distance, people are trying hard to be friendly nonetheless. They smile and wave as they drive by the house, one set of new neighbors actually stopped and introduced themselves… from a safe distance. All this walking around is good for us, and I think it’s good for my neighborhood too.
      Hoping spring comes early where you are. And I will look into ordering my annuals online too!

      • Spring seems to have arrived in San Antonio as it’s to get into the low 90’s later in the week.

  4. Just 3 week’s ago I was in Weymouth a seaside town in Dorset southwest England.I was on a five day coach break and stayed in a very old hotel.It was very grand hotel but according to the locals it was haunted.Apparently the ghosts of victims of the 1662 Great Plague roamed the 4th floor.Guess what floor my room was on? I did not see or feel a visit.After my break in Weymouth i went on another bus to visit my sister who lives in Devon.A very beautiful county even in winter.After six days I caught another bus across Devon to Cornwall where my son lives and works.I spent many hours traveling to see my sister and son but I am glad I did because the day I got back home it was announced that travel would be restricted in the U.K.Partial lock down and self isolation to begin.We must do this because we need to stop this virus.We have become complacent and arrogant and self absorbed,we have been pulled up by our boot laces.When this is over we may be better human beings for it.I hope so.Take care where ever you are.

    • Was that great timing, or what?
      My daughter came for the first visit back home in years in February–five days of driving each way–and I kept telling her, “But winter is the worst time to drive… Are you sure you want to do this?”
      Now I’m really glad she came.

  5. We got the word that we were working from home on Wednesday. IT was able to figure out how to route a recorded line for me and a few others. Thursday morning was a mess- lots of systems issues and it took me two hours to get on and be able to work. Friday was much smoother.

    I feel a bit isolated and out of my routine. Friday , I walked after “work” with the dogs. And plan to walk the dogs each day Am finding Rose is Great company; she’s adjusted to the ringing phone line. Borrowed my daughters wireless mouse so navigating the laptop is easier.

    Ordered a three month supply of dog food from The food was here in 2 days. Amazon delivered a couple of books for me and my wireless mouse, too.

    My husband is going to hit the grocery store today for juice, milk and eggs. We have TP, pasta, sauce, tuna and peanut butter. And a selection of Progresso soup that rivals a grocery stores.

    We have Netflix, TCM and Hallmark to keep us amused. Books and games. And the beach to walk.

    I plan to keep in touch by text with a few work friends who live alone or with an elderly parent. My sister, brother and I keep in touch daily.

    And the best thing… no commute! My husband is enjoying driving the old suburban- he thinks it’s quirky!

    Take care…and Della and I thank you for writing her story! ❤️

    • It’s a lot like a big winter storm, isn’t it–except the snow will go on for weeks.
      So many people working from home report feeling rested for the first time in forever, just because that commute has been carved away. I hope we re-think working from home after this, because it’s doing good things for the planet.
      I hope you and Rose enjoy the new arrangements, and I will tell Della and Ash you (and Rose) said hi.

  6. Since we are both introverts and I still have to go to work (mandatory field of work for public good), not too much has changed. It is strange not going to the gym or church. I’m so frustrated with those around me who are not recognizing how serious this will probably become, and are blithely continuing to plow through life like nothing has changed, increasing everyone around them’s risk.

    • I don’t get the deniers. So what if this is all being blown out of proportion and the deaths tolls are lower (so far) than the flu totals? Stay home and wash your hands anyway, because if it’s not being blown out proportion, the life you save could be your own, your mom’s, your granny’s, your co-workers, your child’s… or ALL of the above.

  7. My heart goes out to people who need to work but cannot. And to those who feel endangered. I guess that includes me (in the age category), although I don’t feel it. I have been housebound for some time so that is nothing new to me.

    I agree that one of the worse things is that it is hard to escape the news about this virus. I’m pretty sure I know how to wash my hands now. I was pretty good at that even before. (smile)

    My salvation is that I seek out things that make me laugh. Thank you Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld) and Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Barbara Metzger for everything she has ever wrote. My other saving grace is my Kitty who is truly a gift from God. When she jumps in my lap and puts her paws on my cheeks, I know she is asking me to pet her, but it feels like she is petting me.

    And I cannot forget my favorite authors (like you Grace) who have written such wonderful stories that I can escape into. You are a wonder!

    • I am reading a ton, going through all of Deanna Raybourn’s backlist, re-reading Mary Balogh, even dipping into some old JR Ward… and when I feel a passing case of flagging spirits, I hug a purring cat and it helps.

  8. I’ve got all sorts of projects going – and making my house messy to do it. I’m sorting out categories of things to pass on to family, sell or donate. One pile of cards, stationary and envelopes. Boxes of photos. Brought up boxes from my mother’s family home that have been in my basement for 30+ years – found some things I totally forgot about. With time out for reading of course!

    • I am seeing MANY social media posts about people deep cleaning in the excavation sense. Finding stuff in the freezer that expired years ago, old photos albums in the basement rafters… Puts a different spin on the Swedish concept of death cleaning.
      I can feel little eddies of temptation to maybe start getting after the house, but nothing forceful enough to get a big project under way… yet.

  9. This isolation is what I can handle, perhaps because growing up my family always read together, took long walks, listened to the radio. The downside is being parted from my three youngest grandsons. That is the pits when i am 79 and in that critical,death-defying group!

    • Channel your inner hermit, Florine. Those grandsons need you to stay safe and hale. My sister Facetimes with her grandchildren in Sweden, and the kids think it’s great fun to see Grandma on the phone.

  10. I traveled and then got sick (mild, thankfully, and I will never know if it is covid-19 because tests are being used only for those who are very ill in my state) and am just stuck in the “under the weather” status. Not well yet but able to read and watch opera, so not too different from my normal introvert ways. Not working is strange, but I have piles of ARCs to read and hopefully eventually recommend. The bookshop I work for is still open doing online and phone orders for delivery and pickup so even those without piles of ARCs can find a good book.

    I am very concerned about undocumented workers, this will have a devastating impact and accessing services is imperiling. Everyone will be hit in one way or another by this, but the most vulnerable will be hit hardest.

    • I am concerned too. Undocumented workers have only ever been able to rely on emergency room treatment (for which they are expected to pay), and everybody’s access to the ER is evaporating. Same with homeless people, poor people who can’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare expansion… The vast frayed edges of society will unravel and more under this sort of prolonged stress, and from what we’re seeing so far, the Great Big Relief package is aimed only at those who pay taxes.

  11. Who knew my life for the last 20 years is considered self-isolation? Only now I don’t get to have twice a month grocery runs or once every month or so hugs from a friend who lives 48 miles away.

    I’m grateful for my pest control guys who dropped off TP so I wouldn’t be without after Monday’s outpatient repair job done in my surgeon’s office. I clocked in at 98.1F when I went for Friday’s consult, so the isolation appears to be working in my favor. But after next weekend I’ll be out of dairy, eggs, & fish, so I’ll be dependent on that distant friend if I can’t get around well enough to hit the dawn time set aside at the nearest grocery store. Produce gets delivered weekly, so I won’t starve.

    As consolation, I’m privy to the flirtation going on between the cormorants who mysteriously went from 1 to 2 on the lake. Where is the newcomer from, I wonder?

    A visiting bald eagle left in great confusion after Crow Momma strafed him in the most spectacular piece of high G aerobatics I’ve seen since my childhood mockingbirds taking on the cats. Her language was appalling, even for a furious crow!

    Red-tailed hawk informs me there’s a sweet fishing hole on the edge of the lake just beyond my porch. Now that he’s assured I mean him no harm, he’s fond of perching on the peak of the porch roof over my head. I can hear the soft whomp when he lands, then absolute silence until SPLASH & the soft flutter as he achieves a short field takeoff from water’s edge while juggling his catch into approved aerodynamic position.

    Canada’s geese have mostly headed north for the summer along with the nice sandhill crane couple who stalked my yard over the winter. A few belated honkers as straggling after.

    There’s a feud going on between the lawn service & a burrowing armadillo. After filling the den under my foundation with cayenne peppers & gravel, there have been a few test forays against the house, but for now, the main digging occurs away from the human den.

    There’s a great debate going on as to whether the prints in the mud along the shore were black bear or coyote. What was left was too smudged to be clear, so until there’s a sighting or trash bin tipping, no one’s resolved the matter.

    The weather remains unseasonably warm & clear, which hints that April might blow in with a bang. In case that delays supplies even further than the selfishness at the store, I’m putting a portion of my milk ration toward baking & freezing the resulting goodies so I don’t allow any to inadvertently spoil. Life smells a lot like one of those butter smearing scenes in one of your books. But with less than 2 lbs left in the fridge, I’m going to cook like one of the heroines suffering from reduced circumstances after this last batch comes out of the tins.

      • I was, but it wasn’t small town & it’s been sputtering thanks to all the distractions. Hmmm. Maybe it’s time to switch gears. And settings. Thank you! *wanders off in search of a fresh notebook*

  12. I don’t go out a whole lot, but I find it difficult knowing I can’t go out. That give me a certain level of claustrophobia!

    • Isn’t it odd? I usually put off leaving the property, and even to go to the horse barn, I have to rev my mental engines. Now? These strange impulses pop up–to go to the store? I hate going to the store. But I must go down to the store again… (apologies to John Masefield).

  13. What’s working for me right now? My cats are helping me, too. But I also have bird feeders in my front yard. Watching the birds come in to feed is wonderful. Their beautiful colors brighten up my life right now. And I have fun trying to identify them. The other thing I do is throw squirrel food out on the lawn. This morning I had six eating spread out over the lawn. Then all of a sudden there was a squirrel frenzy. They were chasing each other around haphazardly all over my lawn. All I saw was flying twitching tails going for a bit. Then it all stopped and they went back to eating. My cats and I are vastly entertained by this, even though it’s a daily occurrence. And I go for walks as weather permits. And I read, a lot. Getting a lot of books on my “to read” list read.
    What’s not working for me? All of the libraries are closed. I regularly go to my favorite one. It has a fireplace. I have spent hours sitting in front of it in a nice comfortable chair reading. And talking with others about the books we are reading or trying to find. I am having very serious library fireplace withdrawal. Can’t wait for them to open again.
    And who would have thought there would be a day when, as you were looking for a particular box of books, you would find a stray roll of TP and get so excited? Crazy.

    • You and Beth should trade wild life stories.
      Yeah, instead of an Easter Egg hunt I think many households will have the Stray Roll hunt. I did not frequent my local library, but was in the habit of dropping in on the Barnes and Noble between home and the horse barn. I do miss my foraging among the shelves!

  14. We work from home and are semi-retired so it should not make much difference but it does. We used to shop at 4 different stores for food because items we want are not carried at all stores. Last week we learned how to shop online and have food delivered to our house. We did learn that the store we ordered from did not have as good fresh vegetables as we normally buy.I am very privileged to have the time and money to go where I want and buy what I want and to think that having someone shop and deliver my groceries is a hardship. I have failed miserably in the past to figure out how to download books from book funnel.I was so proud of myself yesterday when I was able to download a free book from there. I am getting along by calling and e-mailing friends and letting them know that I care and love them. I am at that age where most of my friends are elderly. I am using facebook to let out my frustration and anger over knowing Americans will die due to our lack of leadership. I dreamed last night that the military took over America’s response to COVID-19 and that within a few days there was a list published of companies making medical supplies and how many items they were able to make each day.I then dreamed that Governor Andrew Cuomo became our next President. I am praying daily and reading the Bible. I try to walk every day but the pollen is terrible because everything is blooming.Everything outside is covered in yellow pollen. Middle aged and elderly walkers are keeping 6 feet apart. The young runners wiz by before I even know they are there.My New Year’s resolution was to spend the spring and summer walking at the mall but obviously that is not happening.I was planning a small boat cruise in Europe for our big wedding anniversary but that will not be happening. I also hoped to be traveling along the coasts of Washington and Oregon next month but that is not happening.I am extremely grateful that I was able to attend my college reunion last year as well as set up 2 other reunions with my friends from my early twenties. I am wondering what the new normal will be for all of us. We are all connected globally. I wish hate groups and fear of “the other” would disappear but I doubt it. I am not sure of the best way to help the poor but I hope all of us try to give a little more in whatever capacity we can. I am grateful for my favorite authors of which you are one. I get by day by day and am wishing I had a pet at this point.Can you guess from my long post how much I am missing social interaction?

    • Ah, hugs. And you figured out Bookfunnel! Your comments reads as a litany of adaptability under duress. This too shall pass–not as quickly as we want it to–and you will have new skills and abilities to show for it.

      It’s easy to get fixated on who’s dropping the ball, but we have also seen how many, many people are stepping up, from mayors and governors, to health care workers, to neighbors, to teachers (on-line teaching… OVERNIGHT), to Chinese billionaires sending us test kits and PPE. If you look around for the helpers, to quote Mr. Rogers, they are everywhere.

  15. Partially in an attempt to waste less food, I had been shopping multiple times a week and keeping less on hand. I also received a vacuum sealer to repackage meat and freeze it in 2 person portions since it is just my husband and me at home. I began only going to the grocery store once a week and when possible (depending on item limits) shopping for my daughter, in laws, or neighbors during that trip – assuming they need anything. I live in a small neighborhood and our Facebook page has become a way to let otheres know when we are headed to the store and see if they need a few items – especially larger families and senior citizens. I am encouraged to see so many people helping others and sharing despite (or because of) the mass panic and hoarding. I do love that many companies are setting aside times for at risk individuals to shop. The largest grocery store contracted with a local delivery service for seniors only.

    A disappointment is that this week, I will be using the curbside service when we need groceries and not getting out of the car. My 24 year old daughter who works at a county park might have the dreaded virus and was at the house several hours on a day she would have been contagious. Her symptoms are not severe, so the doctor decided she doesn’t need to be tested because of the shortage of tests. I am not that worried about her recovery, however I am worried about her anxiety level. She is very concerned that she spread it to us – more so to me because of my asthma. IF there were more tests available she would be one of many people who could be tested and would know for sure. I am happy that none of us have had in person contact with my in laws or anyone else at risk aftere we were (potentially) exposed, so we didn’t pass it on to them.

    • Your is one of many, many “maybe” stories. I hope you stay healthy, and hats off to you for going the curbside route. That is exactly how we will beat this thing.
      And next time we have a pandemic, I am going to put in a request that it NOT overlap with the beginning of allergy season and the end of flu season. Really… as if we don’t have enough to fret over?

  16. Tonight we had a video conference call with our 2 daughters and their families. We had a kind of family Sunday dinner while we sat around our own tables and talked. Of course, the kids were kind of excited so it was not exactly a calm and relaxing dinner. We plan on doing it every Sunday.

  17. I’m doing all those projects that I’ve been able ignore/live with until now. I’ve also assigned myself one spring cleaning task per day. It took a pandemic but I’m finally going to be caught up!

  18. It’s spring in Virginia, so yard work and walking the dog around the neighborhood works, as does feeding the birds and watching their antics. Reading and jigsaw puzzles ste good ways to pass time. My daily local paper is plenty of news for the nonce. And if all that pales, I shall knit and listen to audiobooks.

  19. I work for a state agency and our governor gave us 3 weeks off to work from home, although I will start going in for half days next week. I have training to do and can do it better there. I won’t be around any people.

    I have been reading some good books and learning to relax. It’s kind of hard when you have been employed for nearly 40 years.

  20. So… I’m a student again for the 3rd time. This time a total career change and an associates in Allied Health for Medical Assisting. I should be doing my externship and graduating in May. Instead.. like millions of other college students.. I’m sitting at home taking ‘online’ classes from teachers who don’t have the technological expertise or the IT department resources to create adequate online materials.

    My externship got canceled because no one wanted the legal responsibility of students on the front lines of the coronavirus. As I had been putting my hours in at an urgent care clinic… I kind of get it. But at the same time.. who knows how long it will be before I’m able to finish the 100 hours I have left and graduate.

    My kids have come back from college as well. So I have a full house of bored young adults who apparently forgot how to cook or do laundry the second they stepped in the door.

    I’m feeding 7 each night on whatever I can find on the nearly empty shelves of the grocery store. I got lucky yesterday and was able to grab a 10 lb bag of chicken thighs. We had crock pot hoisin chicken for dinner tonight with rice and green beans and ate like kings. Tomorrow… who knows? I think that might be my biggest fear. I’m used to not having much money… but the empty grocery store shelves were when I realized that this was way outside my normal.

  21. I’m retired, so things aren’t much different now than they were a month ago. The 10+ years before retiring, I was working from home fulltime since my teammates were out of state. I got used to the quiet and solitude. It’s serving me well now!

    My normal routine is doing a lot of reading, watching my three bird feeder areas, doing laundry, watching tv.

  22. What’s not working is that, whiled blessed to be able to telework and get paid, we didn’t plan for enough server access to allow for everyone to be on telework at the same time. missed that point in our pandemic plan. Isolating from family of course isn’t great.
    But we have Kindle and social media, FaceTime, inexpensive phone service, 24 hour television and entertainment, extended news access though that is a two edged sword. And boring as it is, I remind myself how lucky we are to live in an age of connectivity. No rationing, yet. I began my early years with a telephone party line that had to be shared with 7 or 8 other households. So no privacy because others could listen in or break in and yell that it was their turn to use the phone. 1 tv channel with half hour of canned news twice a day. Snail mail, no text or email or face time. Very expensive long distance. Small refrigerators. For me it was polio summers when we were isolated from everyone by my mother. Our neighbor ended up in An iron lung. In the 20s my grandfather was taken in to custody and forced to leave Alabama and go to a lock down tuberculosis sanitarium in Texas. My dr great grandfather would quarantine in Typhoid epidemics and yellow fever epidemics in the 1800s before they knew the source. They had even less connectivity. And you signaled for the dr by leaving a white cloth on the fence post at the end if the drive. So look at what we have today vs what this experience would have been like for earlier decades. Could be a lot worse. I can handle boredom. Running out of my junk food stash has been painful though. Lol.

  23. When I was a kid it was the corner you got sent to, there were toys in the room ;). Luckily (in a way) I get to work from home so not too bad so far.

  24. We are staying in, little time on porch for some, but damn, have to run inside because some stupid people think if they see you’s time to visit. Oh HELL NO. Almost everyone in this house is an at risk patient. How can these idiots think it doesn’t apply to them? Gotta get our air in the back yard only now

  25. Happy Sunday! Because of the recent death of my mother, we were and are already social distancing. California is already shelter in place. We are remembering my mother, completing some post funeral tasks and just encouraging one another. My brother has an essential job so he has to work. We work around his schedule. We go to a local restaurant to take out once a week and try to support them. I pray and read and am starting to write letters. It is a bit quiet but works for me. Thank you for your great books. Just reread my new copy of the Captive. I decimated my previous copy. Now so am rereading Quinn and Jane’s story again. Have a blessed day!

  26. I’m stuck working as gas stations are considered an essential business. My kids are home preparing for online schooling to finish their year – my oldest is a senior and everything she was looking forward to this year: Senior skip day at the beach, prom, all-County band (she’s been principal chair trumpet for five years, 8-12), grad bash, etc have all been canceled. My husband, thankfully has not been laid off yet because he works on diesel vehicles (emergency vehicles and such). I’m exhausted. More and more is being expected of us and it is Florida so tourism has NOT stopped even though the theme parks and beaches are closed. It is stressful from this end, but I know it could be worse, so… I wish you health and peace during these times and hopefully, soon, I can get some rest, but, unfortunately… it won’t be anytime in the next month or so.

  27. I work at a school and we closed last week. In my area here in NE Alabama,there is only one case so far. I’ve been staying home and reading or babysitting my 4 year old niece because her mom is required to work. This week I will work for my friend who is a receptionist at a chiropractic office. Her and her son have autoimmune disorders and her daughter-in-law is pregnant so she doesn’t feel safe working. My daughter, a preschool teacher is off work, but my son and husband still work at the moment. I think the government should shut everything down for 3 weeks except the necessary do this can pass. Luckily for me, I prefer being home with my books.

  28. As I mentioned last week, my 93-year old mother is still in the hospital. Today was supposed to be the last day I could visit but it looks like I’ll still be able to do so since I’m her healthcare surrogate (one of the few exceptions to the new no visitors rule). She was getting better, then a bit worse, and now it’s hard to say. Her spirits are sinking since she’s tired of the hospital and I am so worried she will give up. She’s not suffering as in being constant pain but she’s away from her friends and her own clothes and her routine and she’s not happy. While it wouldn’t prevent me from visiting, having most things on hiatus means I can visit during the day when the doctors might show up and she’s more likely to be awake.

  29. Hi Grace.
    I too am in the high risk group because of my age and lowered immune system.
    I was sitting with Dannica Catrick, one of my three house cats, in my lap earlier trying to decide if my desire to go out tomorrow was a need or a want. I decided it was the latter because I’ve got plenty of dry cat food, though I am a little short on the canned it can wait until I get paid on Friday. I bought another 35# bucket of litter last week and will pick up another one on payday.
    I’ll pick up a few groceries, get my rent money order, and utility money then come home.
    I’m working around the house and strongly considering moving from the bedroom I’m now in to the largest one so I can move my bookshelves from the kitchen into my bedroom.
    My cats each get plenty of attention and I keep food and water on my porch for any strays that care to come eat.
    If I win a gift certificate I won’t spend any of it on TP as I have enough to last until the end of April at least. I’ll probably leave it to pay for any books I have on preorder.
    I admit to suffering from a bit of cabin fever but I can always get out and walk half a mile up to where the sidewalk ends then turn around and come home. If I’m still feeling energetic I can walk in the opposite direction for the same distance then turn around and return. I can even just get out and walk around the parking lot of the church next to the trailer park I live in.

  30. I am not alone, I have my dogs and my totally rotten cat! I am completely enjoying being tossed out of the rat race, reading, cleaning, walking the dogs. Then again it has only been a week so I will see how I feel after another week goes by.

    Stay tuned

  31. Saturday I made a 14 1/2 hour round trip to move my son home from college. Far easier for my mental state to have all of us under one roof.

    During this time, I decided to set up the list of your books in chronological order, and start reading them. I’m now on Axel’s story and I’m really enjoying reading them following a timeline.

    Then I read the paragraph where Axel talks about the new Earl of Helmsley, and thought damn, The Heir and the Soldier already took place, and realized what a Herculean task it was for you to try and do create that list, because it’s literally one paragraph that does it. Thanks for the list-and for any newer readers, or for those like me looking for something to read, go to the website and find the list.

  32. I miss being able to see my choir friends in person. We still communicate with a Facebook group. This is not something that could have been done many years ago. I have access to archived live recordings from the local symphony. I have the time to take an online class and guess what started? The class I was waiting to start. I will be learning about royal fashion starting with the Tudors. I am adjusting to worshiping at home. Holy Week and Easter will not be filled with extra practice and singing. It will be the first time in 20 years that I won’t be so busy with making music.
    I believe that once I am able to gather again to make music, I will do so with a joyful heart. Singing alone is good, but with a group it is great.

  33. I’m a natural introvert with an extrovert’s profession: I’m a teacher. This existence is gloriously chill. Instead of giving the same lecture 6 times a day, I do it once on Google meet. I have a 1-and-a-half year old, so while I’m still working a lot, I don’t miss her because I can still interact with her whenever I’m between tasks.

    I feel really bad for my students because I know that this is much harder for many of them, but the hardest part for me personally is how hard it’ll be to go back to my physical classroom. I’m definitely going to start doing things differently, though. I’m going to start “flipping” my classroom so that I’m not wasting time repeating myself all day after this is over.

  34. I love to paint. I’m not very talented, no Picasso genes in my family. But, as I tell my grandkids, you are the artist and your painting is your art. There is no good or bad. Seems to make them feel better and me too, sometimes. When I paint, the world and it’s cares for away.