Some of us take seriously preparing for every day ahead of time. That’s what I did every day for decades, from the time I entered college to the last day of my most important career. (Others are still going on…)

Like many of you, the habit continued well into retirement. In fact, for me it took a couple of serious illnesses and a fall that cracked my head (Yes, I know!) and broke bones to bring me to the point that I must now keep a calendar at hand, front and center.

So I plan in seasons, and autumn is right around the corner. A coronavirus autumn, and quite possibly the same for winter with the way things are going. Are we going to discover we need to stay at home through the dark times of the year?

And that’s the reason for this theme: What’s “new to do” with your “spare” time if/when we are quarantined at home again? Some folks figured it out this last time and did things like order online from Audiobooks and dozens of other personal choices that may have involved Amazon delivery.

But what else would be interesting to do when/if you run out of “musts”? Those who do handwork like knitting, crocheting and quilting are probably already stocked up. Woodworking shops in retirement communities will probably be closed again to more than one or two at a time. In masks. Painters may already have begun collecting all the gear and tubes of color they will need for the duration. Pianists may be gathering up new scores to attack as well as old favorites. Same for all musicians! And maybe a plant or two to liven up your living room.

Then there’s completing “lifetime” projects (currently stored in dark places around your home.) In my living room I’ve had for years a beautiful piece of needle point over 90 percent finished parked in a corner, all wrapped up, because I need to take out a small area of stitches that already are tightly surrounded by other stitches and don’t want to come out. I’ve never before had this kind of problem. They definitely wouldn’t budge and defied my best efforts after several attempts. This winter, when it’s snowing, maybe I’ll try again.

Actually, the main “find” that means the most to me is recently discovering in an “art stuff drawer” a couple of large tablets with lovely sheets of paper on which, a dozen or so years ago, I drew and colored with pastels the subjects’ main center feature and immediate surroundings — and didn’t do the near and far backgrounds. Some of these, which I just rediscovered, I might frame when (and if) they’re finished.

In other words, I have some unfinished projects, ones I spent a lot of time and skill on, which I didn’t finish at the busier time years ago and would like to pull out of their “long sleeps” now. A decade or so ago I wrote a column here about “not finishing the last 10 percent” — which turned up many other folks (including relatives) with that habit — and opinions about it.

Then there’s another idea I’ve just acted on. Over the years I’d bought two titles from The Great Courses, a catalog of over 700 courses by the best professors in subjects exploring virtually every corner of the physical, ancient and scientific world and all the countries therein — or cook the way people in dozens of other countries do, subjects from maintaining your health to “Writing Non-Fiction,” my favorite. The price for these packets of taped education cost in the “high $200s to $300s” normally. But they had catalog sales this summer and were now selling these first-class courses for $35 or so, and I couldn’t resist selecting a few for myself and family. If you can catch their sales, you might want to go for it!

Whatever you find interests you for pandemic times — or just plain learning — I wish you well. Have a little, dare I say it, fun.

Maybe one day we will share stories: “What my family and I did/learned/lost during the pandemic of 2020.”

Ann Burnside Love writes from Frederick, where residents may be preparing in case we have another round of being quarantined. And in the meantime, sending up a big cheer of thanks for First Responders, who never had a chance to even consider “projects” for themselves.

(1) comment


I'm my home, my travelin' neighbors' 12 year old dog friend of my 12 year old dog. Their shitzhu is next to me on the chair. My schnoodle prefers his "pod" on the floor. I'd probably be doing this regardless...

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