Interesting times, right? Everything around us seems to be closing and a lot of what was on TV, like sporting events and tournaments, is just not there . . . at least for the short term. In Knoxville, we find schools closed, church services suspended, and events canceled or postponed like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, University of Tennessee classes, Big Ears Festival, Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, and the opening of Dollywood. Hamlet at Clarence Brown Theater is “not to be,” I suppose.
We’re not even sure what we’ll be watching on TV. “With an abundance of caution,” MBA games, SEC Tournament, the Masters, late-night talk shows, Disneyland are all on hold. Even Broadway and Dollywood are taking a break.
So, with a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bert and I are practicing social distancing and “hunkering down” for the duration. To keep from going completely crazy, I’ve got a few plans for my self-quarantine. (To be truthful, activities I should have been doing for years but put off, mostly.) Here are five things I’m planning to do to stave off those social distancing blues.
As a former English teacher, I just naturally gravitate toward reading — most anything, actually. But I really prefer books over magazines and newspapers and seldom have the time to read as voraciously as I’d love to.
I’m starting with the The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz since I met author Erik Larson after he spoke at an event sponsored by our local Friends of the Knox County Public Library.
But other books await. When I can’t get to the library, I use an app — Libby, by OverDrive — to search for books for downloading to my phone or Kindle. (All you need is a library card; then free books are yours for the asking.)
Locally, an indie bookstore — Union Ave Books — has just posted a letter on their website offering delivery by mail of a book of your choice. So, no excuses. Staying at home and reading just may become the way I start or end my day.
Sewing baby blankets
A group of ladies at our church, First United Methodist, has partnered with Project Linus to sew baby blankets for distribution around the globe wherever they are needed most. I’m hoping that blankets I’m currently piecing would go to tornado victims in Cookeville or Nashville, Tennessee, but really, they’re ready to fill a need anywhere.
Although we sew quilts and receiving blankets, we’re fond of making these rag blankets because they’re easy to cut, stitch, and fray. And the more we cut up leftover fabric into 5-inch squares, the quicker we reduce our fabric stashes at home! Check out examples on Pinterest under Baby Rag Quilts. Or go to YouTube for demos.
And if you can’t get out to make your fabric purchases, locally-owned Gina’s Bernina Sewing Center will ship to your home.
At first, I thought I’d spend time organizing travel photos into categories like years, countries visited, or famous sites. And I still want to do that. But something has been nagging me to take down the big box of childhood/college/marriage/kid photos and get them in shape to pass down.
Now, you know how this goes: you’re on a mission with a suggested time frame (like a whole day or so). But once you start looking at old photos, you become consumed. And then you share stories with your spouse. Or you start laughing at how thin you were when you were in your 20s. And on and on and on. Not sure how long this social distancing will last, but I’m probably going to need more time if this project is ever going to be completed!
Now here’s something else I typically pass off as way to be productive on a Snow Day. (But we almost never have snow days in Knoxville any more, and stuff is piling up.) For me, cleaning out closets can be downright cathartic. I’m no Marie Kondo, but more and more I’m looking to minimize, and this closet by Pieces Into Place gives me inspiration!
Here’s what’s on the cutting floor: clothes I haven’t worn in years, clothes that don’t fit, clothes that I don’t even like. Wedding gifts my children don’t want to inherit. Souvenirs that looked cute in another country but seem useless in Tennessee. And things I’ve liked, bought, brought home — only to find that they weren’t just right for the room I had in mind but I never took them back. Yes, I have things with the original tags still on them.
So, off to the Habitat ReStore in Knoxville where shoppers find hidden gems just right for them, and sales benefit potential homeowners.
Cooking. Pies, to be exact.
Now here’s an activity that’s sure to add pounds if I don’t combine it with additional walking in the neighborhood. But once I bought this book — The Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life by Kate McDermott — I shifted into full-blown pie-making mode.
I’ve braved long lines at the grocery store this week to make sure I have the right ingredients on hand for the duration of my social distancing and gourmet pie making: Irish unsalted butter; all-purpose, unbleached flour; and frozen blueberries. (I prefer fresh fruit, but I’m not sure how long I’ll be self-quarantined!) I’m just ready to make pies, and Bert is ready to eat them!
So, how much can I get done on this forced staycation? Maybe a lot. After all, I’ve been saying “When I get more time, I’m going to . . . ” for many years now.
Maybe now’s time for me to stay healthy, stay clean, and stay focused.
P.S. I’d love to know: What are you doing while you’re distancing yourself from the threat of the coronavirus?