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Words and phrases I would like to ban until further notice:

  • Unprecedented
  • These uncertain times
  • An (over)abundance of caution (not seeing this one as much lately since things that initially were cancelled out of “an abundance of caution” are now cancelled as part of “the bare minimum of things we should be doing these days.”
  • When this is all over (caught myself saying this way too much).

Okay, now that I have that off my chest, how are you? Life is weird for pretty much everyone now, but I know it’s been a heck of a lot harder for some folks. We’ve been very blessed in that our income hasn’t changed, unlike so many people we know who have been laid off work. Ross is teaching from home, which is fascinating to me. All over the country, spouses are realizing, “Wait, THAT’S how you sound when you’re at work?” Since I worked from home anyway for my day job as an executive assistant, not much has changed for me, other than being busier. I work for a nonprofit that provides healthcare in West Africa, so it feels like we’ve been sprinting since late February.

Life during the pandemic has been a strange ping-pong of anxiety over current conditions and enjoyment of the slower pace of life overall (work busyness notwithstanding). I have friends and coworkers seriously affected by the virus and it’s impossible to read the news and not be (rightly) concerned; the world is mourning and will be for some time. But I do think finding the bright side to all this is healthy on a personal level.

Here are my favorite things to do during these unprecedented, uncertain times until this is all over and we can go back to an underabundance of caution:

  • Get outside. I know not everyone can do this right now so I don’t take it for granted, but it’s the number one thing improving my mood these days. We go on long walks and runs with Calvin all the time, and he loves it but is baffled by current circumstances, not to mention exhausted by them. He’s currently slumped at my feet after an hour+ run during which he finally just planted his feet and refused to go farther.

That's the 7th walk today. What the heck is a coronavirus?

  • Looseleaf tea. One of my coronavirus splurges has been ordering tea online from Chad’s Chai and Tin Roof Teas, and it’s my best pandemic decision to date. Both shops are running coronavirus sales. Bonus: you get to support local business.

Chad's Chai tea and mug

  • Get takeout. Speaking of supporting local business, we’ve been trying to keep some of our favorite restaurants afloat by ordering curbside pickup. Neomonde, Sitti, Tangerine Cafe, El Rodeo are some we’ve tried. We even dressed up for date night at home one night.

Date night at the kitchen table

  • Read. My concentration is shot these days, and I’ll bet a lot of you are in the same boat. Light and funny books are the name of the game for me. I recommend Terry Pratchett and James Herriott, for starters. I listened to It Can’t Happen Here on audiobook, and that was a terrible mistake. I’ll save the fascist dystopias for happier times, thank you. Another coronavirus splurge of mine was buying a few new books. Do I have a zillion books to read already? Oh yes. Was I thrilled to get new books anyway? Oh yes.
  • Immerse myself in Icelandic culture. Since our trip to Iceland has been postponed indefinitely (I’m still hoping we can make it in late June, but I’ve reluctantly come to the realization that we may not be able to go until summer of 2021), I’m taking this opportunity to improve my Icelandic, take an online course on Medieval Icelandic Sagas, and read more Icelandic books (see above note about new books I didn’t need).

Sagas of the Icelanders book

  • Video chat with friends and family. This is becoming a double-edged sword because now we chat with folks every night, and it almost feels like we’re too busy again, but it’s still so lovely to see friends’ faces. We’ve caught up with folks we haven’t talked to in years, and I hope this tradition continues long after the pandemic is a thing of the past. We’ve even been playing board games like Settlers of Catan over Skype.

Playing boardgames over Skype

  • Watch TV. Pre-pandemic, I was so busy that I was hard-pressed to squeeze in one hour of TV per week, which made keeping up with shows almost impossible. Now, especially with so many sites offering free month-long trials, I’ve been able to see most of Picard and a few other Trek episodes on CBS All Access, finally finished Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Acorn TV, and have watched the occasional movie. Shocking!

What are some of your favorite coping mechanisms during all this insanity? Are you doing okay? Let me know!

As some of you have figured out by now, Ross and I will leap at any excuse, no matter how flimsy, to dress up in costume. Ross is teaching about WWII and the rise of superheroes in class? Time to dress up like Captain America! I’m going to a vaguely 1920s-themed gathering? Bust out the flapper dress!

In the last month, we’ve had two such occasions, the first being a gathering of friends for high tea at the Sugar Magnolia Cafe tea room for my birthday in January.


If you own a top hat, why *wouldn’t* you wear it?

2019-01-20 14.22.38

The cameo pin I’m wearing belonged to my grandmother.

2019-01-20 13.52.55One of our friends had the foresight to bring along fake mustaches as well.

I received one of the funniest and direly needed birthday gifts: writer’s block soap, which “smells like regurgitated ideas and probably a vampire.” Goodness knows I could do with soap to wash away writer’s block, although I’ll take a pass on the vampire.

Our second costumed adventure was a 1930s-themed date night. We checked out Rockin’ Rolls Sushi first (not 1930s, but delicious, and any place that’s all-you-can-eat is a cost-effective option when dining with Ross), then drove up to Durham to see a special screening of 1933’s King Kong.


Doing my best Fay Wray impression.

Fun fact, Ross wore this outfit to a Casablanca party he and I attended together before we were officially dating, and he looked just as smashing then.

The movie, which I had never seen before, was surprisingly good, and of course groundbreaking for its special effects at the time. No real research would be done on the great apes until the 1960s, so Kong wasn’t accurately based on any particular species; the filmmakers gave him human-looking eyes because no one had any idea what a gorilla’s eyes looked like. The movie was also surprisingly gory and a little risque since it was pre-movie code, they made extravagant use of the chocolate syrup for blood. (Poetic lines aside, the airplane machine guns had a lot to do with Kong’s demise.)

I was also surprised to discover that Peter Jackson’s King Kong in 2005 (which I *had* seen!) was almost a shot-for-shot remake in a lot of ways. Clearly Jackson was a big fan of the original movie.

If any of you have been up to any costumed hijinks lately, let me know in the comments! I love comparing costume notes and sharing ideas.




I failed to tell you about our adventures at the tea room! *wavery back-in-time music*

The Olde English Tea Room, alas, closed its doors for good on December 23, 2016. My friends and I had the intense pleasure of being able to visit (for the first time, for most of us) on its final day of business. I was both elated that we managed to check it out before it closed and devastated that we could never go back again.

Isn’t it adorable?? And the tea was exceptional.

We all dressed up because that’s what you do at an old English tea room. Each afternoon tea came with its own tiny tea pot, which you could get refilled with hot water as much as you wanted. We basically sloshed our way out of the place.

They even had sugar cubes!! I had never actually seen sugar cubes before. And, as you can see, there were tea sandwiches, scones, and petite desserts. The food was incredible.

And such good tea. Not pictured in the group picture: my amazing sister-in-law, who took the photo for us. We all had a glorious day, topped off by a visit to some antique shops and a book shop.

I recently discovered the Oak Park Tea Room, so a reunion may be required to explore that new location and see how it measures up.

Here are some bookish internet discoveries for you:

Next up, all the other adventures I didn’t have time to write about when they were happening!

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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