Once Upon a Pandemic (reprise)

So the prognostications are, the pandemic is going to smack us harder than ever this winter. Pandemic fatigue, indoor socializing, and weather the virus likes will conspire to prolong our misery. Well, phooey.

I’m put in mind, though, of the Great Depression, which lasted ten years by most estimates. My parents both recalled the Depression, which began in their childhoods, as a pleasant time. What’s up with that?

On Dad’s side, it was a time when his parents got along (they eventually divorced, long before it was popular). Grandpa was in charge of handing out subcontracts for the Long Island Railroad, and because businesses were desperate for his goodwill, he had better job security (and more perks) than at other times in his career.

On Mom’s side, her parents had to travel from Spokane, Washington, to Bangor, Maine, with four kids, because jobs for her mining engineer father were thin on the ground. She liked seeing the country, oddly enough. A road trip was just a big adventure to her. Imagine that.

For a time, her family doubled up with an uncle’s family, and all the kids bunked in the same room. She loved it, loved having more family around, loved having a chance to grow close to her cousins. Her family never was particularly well off, and from her childish point of view, the Depression didn’t make them much more poor.

I suspect my parents looked back–past Vietnam, Korea, WWII (Dad was in the Navy, Mom was a nurse) to a childhood that by comparison, was at least a childhood. The adults fretted over jobs, groceries, and places to live, the children just carried on. In both cases, they carried on in circumstances that to them, offered significant consolations.

I hope when this pandemic has subsided, we too will look back and see some consolations. For years, I prided myself on not owning a TV, not watching TV, not no TV, not no-how. Welp, there’s a pandemic on now. I’ve discovered British mystery series in the past six months, and I enjoy them. I suspect some people will always have a pandemic play list, pandemic comfort food carry out, and recall pandemic Zoom calls with Grannie.

Some news announcer got suspended last week because he inadvertently flashed his co-workers in a Zoom meeting. That is a boo-boo we can ALL  chuckle over, because now there’s such a thing as pandemic humor.

This is not a fun time, but in small ways, we are all making it as bearable as we can. For me, that means DCI Vera Stanhope and Inspector Lynley are my new friends. I’ve also visited with my neighbors while out walking more in the past six months than in the previous six years. For one of my writin’ buddies, pandemic coping has meant crocheting so much she’s opened up an Etsy store and is generating some craft income.

It’s not ALL awful, is it? How are you making it bearable, or what do you think you might recall about this time with a smile? To three commenters, I’ll send signed copies of The Truth About Dukes.


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59 comments on “Once Upon a Pandemic (reprise)

  1. I am appreciating the basics during the pandemic: family, friends and my dogs.
    During the pandemic our little family has watched movies, tv and Netflix together. We’ve laughed, joked and teased each other over silly tv shows and movies. We’ve shared dinners and time together.
    My neighbor and I have rekindled our 30 year friendship because we have the time…we are not commuting to work and spending the weekends catching up on house work.
    We see our neighbors more now and it’s fun to see the toddlers in the neighborhood.
    I have enjoyed spending time with my Rose, Greg and Laci. Greg, and Rose and I walk each morning and Laci and I walk and play fetch. Rose is sweet and is happy to sleep by my desk while I work from home. She’s a quiet comfort.

    It’s not easy listening to the news about the pandemic, the politics and general uneasiness.
    I am grateful to have my family, friends, corgis and that Jenny’s car got fixed (again) this week. And that Jenny has found 2 movies for us to watch on Netflix. I am trying to plan ahead for the winter and be grateful for what I have.

    I am thinking this year has been a positive reset for our family.

    • That’s a nice term–positive reset. I hope a lot of families are doing the same, and that a lot of take-out places are thriving (even as we all hope this ends soon).

  2. We are, like you, watching more television than we ever have. And, like you, we have watched many, MANY British mystery/detective series. A HUGE favorite is VERA; in fact we finished watching her tenth season a few weeks ago. Rumor has it, the eleventh is being being filmed as we speak and should be ready by early next year. We’ve started watching SHETLAND, which is about detectives in the Shetland Islands–fascinating. We’ve also taken a number of courses offered by The Teaching Company, including The History of the English Language which was very enlightening. Comparing the various Miss Marple series and of course, Poirot is always fun. Kenneth Branough did a movie version of Murder on the Orient Express (and he was an interesting, believable Poirot) and his Death on the Nile was released yesterday so something to look forward to next week.:)

    After dinner lectures and movies and Brit TV have been getting me through. I can’t wait until the election is over and I pray the Pandemic will not be as awful as predicted.

    • I’m about to start noshing my way through Masterclasses, because what the heck… all learning is good, right? I’m hopeful too that we will beat the projections. I do my part by staying home 6.5 days a week and watching Brit Box. Of course, before the pandemic I also stayed home 6.5 days a week…

    • I love that I get to be with my three year old every morning. Those morning snuggles are the brightest part. Prior to this I was up and out the door before he woke up. Everyday is a challenge though and I just have to accept some days are going to be good and others will not.

    • Oh, lordy. I am so sorry. Too many of us are being brought closer by tragedy, and in too many cases, we can’t even get together for a Memorial Service. I wish a big recession on the funerary industry. I truly do. Hugs and I’m sorry for your loss.

  3. Working every day. Pandemic hit personal the first time yesterday.
    My asst dept mgr passed away from covid and pneumonia. He was 35 with three young kids.

    • Thank you for reminding us: This is not an old people’s pandemic, not a sick people’s pandemic, it’s OUR pandemic. My nephew was in the ICU twice, and he’s a beast of an athlete. Condolences to you and your co-workers, and I hope that’s as this monster gets to you and yours.

  4. My husband and I have been visiting weekly with one couple who we met through our fitness class. Because we have really not been socializing with our larger group of friends, we have become quite close with this one couple. Also, because there are so many things we can’t do (like sit in a restaurant for hours chatting), we have been searching for outdoor adventures that we can enjoy while still being responsibly socially distant. We have gone on lovely hikes to a beautiful falls and park, seen autumn vistas that are absolutely breathtaking, and walked over ancient wooden bridges…experiences we might never have thought of visiting otherwise. If you look hard enough, there is virtually always some good in every experience!

    • I applaud your willingness to look hard, and find a way to stay connected without putting yourselves at risk. I usually love to see temperatures dropping, but as I think about the impact on the outdoor dining… not so much this year. We’re going to need bonfires and torches on those dining patios, methinks.

    • My family is e-mailing more, but then, we’re so spread out geographically that big get togethers were rare in a good year.

  5. Sunday’s for me can be a very nice day where I put my music on and dance about and sing along or a quiet reflective sometimes missing loved ones that have passed over.Sunday is the day I can overthink things.Unlike the week days when people are busy working and buzzing about Sunday seems to stand still a little and pull one up and make you pause.With so much going on at the moment I feel a little fragile but not down just bewildered.I am not putting the tv on,I do not want to be bombarded with all the news,disscussions,arguments.Today I need peace—tomorrow I will be up and ready with my mask and gel in hand when I go to the bank.We must all find our way through this and if we have little tricks that can help ,that’s good.I’ve just put the Beatles song on,The long and winding road. “it certainly is”.Wishing you all well in these challenging times.Thank you Grace for the gift of your books,they bring many emotions but most of all love with a happy ending.Can’t best that?.

    • I’m pretty news-free myself these days. I check out a couple fairly centrist websites once a day, but am trying to stay off social media and avoid the doom-scrolling. Enough is enough!
      I wish we could sit outside and have a socially distanced cuppa tea on one of these Sundays… maybe next year?

  6. Happy Sunday! This pandemic has been a challenge in many ways but also a time for appreciation and growth. We lost our mother when this started and never really got to put everything to rest. But we discussed all of the variables and agreed that God’s way was the best. Because with her surgery and physical therapy, she would have been isolated for months. It would have been sad and just unbearable. As I take time now to take trips to donate new and almost new things, I cry a bit but am flooded with good memories. I have read and think about discussions with my mom about books we read. I work on my crafts and hear her words of encouragement. I am dedicating 2020 and each year to be kind in any way I can in my mother’s name. Thank you for your books. Have s blessed day!

    • I knew you’d been served up some grief to go with your pandemic, Amy, and my family would agree with yours: My mom busted a hip at age 92. SHE wasn’t interested in the physical therapy and rehabs and long-term care… and she (and her God) had the deciding votes. Still, there’s never a good time to lose your mom. Hugs, and condolences, and 2021 has to be better!

  7. I have no problem sacrificing for the good. I’d rather do that for a year (or however long) than the alternative. My husband and I still work part time but I’ve given up eating out, bowling, cards, and bingo deeming them not necessary although missed. The worse thing is I can’t visit my mom in assisted living – she is 98. we do talk on the phone but it’s not ideal. I am now allowed to visit my grandson again and even the occasional babysitting which I am very thankful for. He is 3 and time goes by so quickly. I had already given up most TV but the upside of that and no activities is that I am reading oh so much more and trying different genres and authors.

    • I’m with you. Let’s do like New Zealand, pull up our wellies (waves to Brenda), pull together, and make what headway we can with common sense and small sacrifices. Chris Christie said when he was in ICU, all he thought about was how easily he could have upped his chances of staying well. At least he lived to have that regret.

  8. Aww, can’t I have a kitten? My life didn’t change too much with the pandemic because I’m a pharmacist and a homebody otherwise. I miss hugs and ambush my daughter on a regular basis. The other nice thing is my son has been baking. Lucky mama!

  9. We actually managed to travel 9,000 miles this summer in our travel trailer. Along the way, we visited a number of beautiful spots – Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, Custer and Catalina State Parks and Mount Rushmore. Many, many Americans were out discovering the beauty of America and everyone was respectful. We followed the Covid protocols and wore masks most of the time – except when we were hiking the Navajo-Queen’s Garden trail at Bryce. I needed to be able to breathe during the arduous climb down to the valley floor and back up!

  10. Staying home more has allowed me more time to read. I spend a great deal of time writing, but I often put off reading to run errands, to go shopping, to make certain my Mom, who lives with me, gets out more. Now because we must limit our time out and about I have an excuse to spend time reading. Another advantage is that my brothers tend to come over more now to check on Mom and me and to do little repairs around the house – socially distancing, of course. They often do grocery runs for us as well. Sometimes playing the little old lady card does work to one’s advantage. (Both of my brothers are younger than I.) We also hear more frequently from relatives and friends all over the country and overseas. The pandemic has created a reason to check on each other and it is nice to reaffirm those connections even if it is by telephone, mail, e mail or Facebook.

  11. I have been cooking and exercising more and have lost some weight that I gained while in school. I passed my physical therapy boards this summer. I have caught up on my reading, podcasts, movies, and tv shows that I couldn’t do while in school. It’s not all bad. I normally don’t go out in public. It’s not very different from my normal day. I do love going to the movie theater and I’m sad that they are closed at this time.

  12. Only good thing so far I have found is that because of 1) being discouraged to go the 45 miles to town more than twice a month and 2) because there’s nothing on the shelves at the grocery anyway….
    I have saved money on groceries and gas.
    But still it’s been a terrible stuck at home year. I have read a lot of books, but I would have done that anyway.

    Do hope you have watched a few Father Brown and maybe a few of the older PBS and BBC mystery shows.

  13. What am I grateful for, in this rotten pandemic?
    I’m still here, and so are all my loved ones.
    My line dance classes moved to zoom (I’m really grateful for zoom!) so I got to see my dancers and our classes became even more of a community. Names are known and lives are shared.
    And, we used to go out, but during lockdown we walked more locally (near Bristol and Bath, UK). I discovered a local farm sells eggs at the gate. And I noticed the seasons change, from sharp sunny spring days with yellow celandines under the bare, twisted oak; through the summer wildflower meadow and the new foal born in the field by the river; through blackberry and damson season in August, and now to the glory of coloured leaves drifting down from a breezy blue sky. There’s an old ruined stone barn, and it’s the same now as it was last year, now and in time to be.
    There’s plenty of mud, mind you, both literal and metaphorical, but those are some of the things I’m grateful for.

  14. Honestly, we enjoyed more family time while we were in quarantine. My hubby is an airline pilot, though, so he continued to work. But when we were limited on outings we played more games & put together more puzzles. We also watched more movies.

  15. Hi Grace, I’m not sure we’re making it bearable. My two disabled adult sons and I live in a small apartment so are mostly getting on each others nerves. We do pick a show to watch each afternoon and a movie in the evening. Then they play video games while I read. My local library has been closed so my older son picked me up a couple books at the pharmacy. Great picks except they were book 2 of a trilogy and book 5 of a series. We’ve also played a few games of UNO and my older son and I play chess. We’re both mediocre but at least we are evenly matched. My younger son is very disappointed that it’s not a Zombie apocolypse. We’re all ready, like everyone else, for this to be over.

  16. Here in Australia we have been spared a lot of the horror of the pandemic because we are an island continent. For me, being retired and able to care for my daughter and grandsons, this time has afforded me time to read, read, read. One of my greatest discoveries has been the historical romance. I never thought I would be so intrigued. And so, this is how I met Grace B. What I love about the books is the language. Such a relief to read proper English. And the stories are so now. I have read every book and have even re-read some of them, so taken with the stories. And some even made me cry! Do you know that I haven’t even bothered watching tv? My nose is in my iPad whenever I can spare the time – and time is what I have now. Thank you, Grace, for sharing your talent.

  17. I have lost the 2 most important women in my life, my mother and mother in law during this pandemic. Both of these women were strong, but patient with their children and especially their grandchildren. I believe in the good in people no matter what the media tells us. I will remember the people who are trying to make sure no one goes hungry by working good pantries and delivering meals. I will remember the nurses who were with my mother and mother in law and eased their pain and were with them when they left this earth when their children were not allowed to be with them.

  18. We are some of the lucky ones. Very little has changed for us.
    We have not lost a family business that used to support the family.
    We don’t have school age children. So we aren’t trying to help them cope. I wonder how much it’s truly helping the kids. You can keep telling them this and that. But it’s still not their normal. No matter how much you tell them it is.
    The only real change for us is that my husband used to travel regularly for his job. But they have adjusted. Now he does everything from his home office.
    Which means he is home. All the time. That isn’t a complaint for me. We have been married 40 years.
    But it does make me think how hard these times must be for young families. To have jobs lost. Schools closed. So now, no money and no emotional positivity that comes from a job. Besides being in each other’s pockets all the time.
    So as I started with, we are lucky and I recognize it. Every day.
    I have learned to place grocery pick up orders online. I love it!
    Same with restaurant pick up orders. Let’s face it. It’s never really as good when you get it home. But that’s ok.
    We have always enjoyed going to the movies. But now, we have so many ways to watch newer movies at home. In our comfort and convenience. Our snacks. Breaks if we want them. We can watch more than once.
    We thought we would jump at the chance to go when they opened. But nope. Not until masks are in the past.
    We would typically take a couple of trips this time of year. Disneyland. And then something else. So instead we bought a stationary recumbent bike. I love being able to exercise inside.

    So there are a number of changes that I am loving! I don’t have as much reading time as I used to. I am never alone! Ha ha But I do enjoy reading when I can.
    Oh that’s another thing! The library will bring stuff out to me if I request online. I love that!

    There is much I don’t like. But it’s not all bad in my world.

  19. Once upon a pandemic, there was a gardener who got to stay home and expand the garden, growing extra veg and flowers. There’s been extra time to read — so my book budget has increased as my gas budget decreased. Most importantly, I’ve been able to keep my (really great) job and work from home. I also figured out how to work from home without guilt and self-torment (left over from the grad school years). And home-made supper is in the oven. Life is good.

  20. Just before the beginning of the pandemic, when Covid-19 was just barely in the news and still (as far as we knew) “over in China,” I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because all of my treatments and surgery thus far have overlapped with more mask-wearing and hand-washing than have ever happened before, I’ve stayed healthy throughout. As a social extrovert, I also have not felt like I’ve missed out on any gatherings, because, well, nobody is having any! My husband has worked from home, allowing him to be there for me when I needed the most help. All of these things have contributed to a sort of silver lining in my cloudy year. I call 2020 the year of “cancer-ona-virus-olation!” Also this year – saving the best for last – I have re-read all 39 (I just counted) of your books that I own! So not ALL bad. 🙂

  21. In some ways (ye old job), life is busier than ever. But in other ways, it has slowed down. I relish that. Less doing (because we can’t get out and about), more being.

  22. I’ve enjoyed feeding and watching birds in my backyard and looking at the photos of critters from my trail camera – foxes, racoons, skunks, opossum, deer, bear, and bobcats. The natural world goes on following its seasonal rhythm pretty much ignoring Covid.

  23. Less busyness. More time to just “be”. Those have been the plus side for me. That said we are very blessed to have a safe home, savings, enough put by to not worry about empty store shelves, and a loving relationship

  24. Lovely to see Spokane in your post… I’m from Yakima with kids in Spokane! But enough about that.

    Because I’m disabled and leave the home rarely, the pandemic has changed only in that my family is with me more. I’ve enjoyed the game nights and having my husband work from home.

    Look forward to your next written adventure!

  25. I have enjoyed focusing on the small things – I have done several 1000-piece puzzles, loosened up my book-buying budget (it’s still cheaper than therapy!), and spent more time snuggled on the couch with my dogs than usual. I am still working full-time because it turns out I’m a hero 😉 where I always thought I was “just a nurse”. I have enjoyed my supportive relationships with my coworkers more than ever, and there’s nothing like a pandemic to create camaraderie and job security! I have started learning Scottish Gaelic on duolingo, for no practical reason whatsoever, except I can now pronounce those italicized period details with authenticity and confidence. Fàilte m’ eudeil, thig a-steach an-dràsta…

  26. Well, I studying now, and the pandemic forces me to study more instead of going out with friends. And since I can’t go home, I try to improve my resume by doing an internship.

  27. We must keep this all in perspective.
    My relatives during the depression learned a lot lot about living together and all pulling as one so the family survived.

  28. I can stay home and read books and suddenly I’m “saving the world” instead of being a “lazy, couch potato”. I got “hero pay” for being an essential worker and because of not going anywhere I have been able to save up to go to school and get another degree.

  29. I’ve been spending time piecing quilts and reading. Not all bad, but a bit lonely. I made a quilt designated for COVID-19.

  30. I’m okay with being home. We are comparatively lucky as we have had a small financial hit (my husband had to stop working his part-time job as he is in a high-risk group), but I am still working full time. I am somewhat overworked at work right now and am really looking forward to retirement next year. I am grateful for our blessings. We are all still together, have a roof over our heads, and manage to pay the bills. Not everyone in this pandemic is as fortunate.

  31. Not much has changed with work or home but no future trips planned. Usually go out of state at least 2 times a year but not right now. I keep reading. Have done some online training for my job. Visits with family are enjoyable.

  32. I’ve finally run out of excuses as far as the chaos of my housekeeping. This is going to be the winter of my discontent with the chaotic status quo. Hopefully, by spring, I will have winnowed out the magpie’s nest. Maybe I’ll even know how many double copies I have on some of my back shelves of books.

  33. I think the pandemic has forced everyone to consider what is truly important in life and be thankful for the things we do have. I know it has made me appreciate family visits more.

  34. I’ll be honest it hasn’t been very bad for us (knock on wood and all that). If it weren’t for the concern for the health and safety for: my dad, stepmother, mother and father in-law, and our daughter who has an autoimmune disease for which hypercoagulation of blood is a major symptom life isn’t that rough right now. My husband and I both love and like each other. He can easily work from home. It does’t hurt that we have a large backyard with room for physically distanced get togethers and we’ve hosted a few for friends and some of his co-workers.

    I am concerned seeing the rising number of cases in Europe and for what it will mean here especially with the holidays coming.

  35. My husband and I are very different when we think how to handle the virus with our children. I say let them be kids, just safely, but stop all the doomsday talk and constant worries around them. Let them ride down the hills and get dirty and have fun. This pandemic is hard but it’s just a snapshot of time and it will pass and we will always have the memories from it. I say take this time and enjoy our family more, learn to help those who need it, learn how to take care of your body so you don’t get it while also having fun. We will get back to things like gymnastics and swimming and dance when we get back. No biggie

    • That’s awesome. My fondest childhood memories are of playing under a giant pine tree in our back yard and coming in with hands covered in dirt stuck on with pine sap. We didn’t have much back then but I didn’t know it. The innocence of childhood is one of life’s greatest blessings. Kudos to you.

  36. I have learned so freakin much during this pandemic. I e learned how far I can stretch myself emotionally, how truely wonderful and scary the Universe can be! I’ve learned how much I value friends and family and how much I miss them. I e learned how hard it can be to put yourself out there in a brand new province in order to make new friends ! I’ve learned that I can indeed eviscerate ducks, chickens and turkeys and cut up pig. I’ve grown a decent garden for the short time we could have it. I am leaving out my dream with my hubby and 1 of our 5 kids and to top it off, I will be a Nana in a few more weeks! Does it suck that my kids and parents can’t visit-yup, it does, but I get to wake up to the sound of a rooster and look out in my acreage as the sun comes up:) Hugs!!!

  37. For the first time in 56 years, I will not spend the holidays with my family gathered together. It’s a small family; my brother, his wife and 4 grown children, my 79 year old mother and her boyfriend (YES), me and my husband. We have hosted both Thanksgiving and Christmas in our home for 11 years and the idea that we will not this year is almost bone crushingly sad. I LOVE the Hallmark Channel and am trying to get through by living vicariously through their holiday movies. I remind myself constantly that not getting together is better than losing a family member who will never join us again. I am truly blessed that none of my family has lost a job or been claimed by this pandemic. Some days are harder than others, but I count my blessings (sometimes more than once a day) and believe brighter days are coming. I’m still decorating and will still take in the warmth of the holidays in my soul. I joined Facebook LOL!

  38. I am not one to generally look on the bright side and this pandemic has truly pushed me to my limit. But I have found a few good things.
    1. I have Zoom calls on a regular basis with my family now — even extended family — instead of just occasionally picking up the phone.
    2. People are learning to take care of each other and be concerned about others.
    3. In my community, people have really stepped up to take care of the children that have been so horribly impacted by this in a variety of creative ways.
    4. My employer has learned that staff can work from home without the world ending.
    5. My county, which is desperate for broadband, has finally had to step up and do something about it.

  39. The rabbit sanctuary we adopted from put out a request for volunteers to do health checks back in August. I decided to sign up. Visiting a barn full of bunnies once a month is an outing with a purpose. There usually are only one or two staff members present.