April 14, 2020

Retired and C-19: What Do You All Day?

So You Are Retired: What Do You Do All Day? remains the most viewed post on this blog. Written almost ten years ago,  there are new readers always interested in how a retiree spends his or her time.


Time takes on a different meaning 


With Covid-19 (or C-19 from now on), the answers have probably changed, at least for now. Leaving the house for volunteer activities has probably been curtailed. Even something as commonplace as grocery shopping is different. Picking up fresh reading material at the library..not right now. Off to the garden center for springtime flowers or bushes...closed up tight as if it were still winter time. A nice meal out at a favorite local spot...nope.

But, as comments on some other posts have made clear, many of us are using the new normal of C-19 restrictions to our advantage. Sure, more binge-watching of TV is occurring. I am not immune. Reading everything that has been stacking up on the bedside table. Naps and changes in sleep patterns are most assuredly different.

However, the extra enforced home time has also opened up new (figurative) doors. The writer, Julio Vincent Gambuto, used a phrase to describe where we are right now that I think fits perfectly: The Great Pause. We have left what was our "normal" schedule for the time being. As Mr. Gambuto notes, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape our today and our tomorrow.

I will give you a look at what I am doing to fill my days and then ask you to give us a glimpse into your schedule. it is quite possible some of what you do could spark interest in someone else. 

After years of typing with just two fingers I am taking an online touch typing course. While I am pretty fast with just two index fingers, the spelling mistakes are so frequent and take so much time to correct I am lucky to manage 10 words a minute. I never had any typing course in school, so it seems now is a good time and it is a skill I will put to use. After just a week I am pleased with the progress.

My grandson and now one of my granddaughters are consistently beating me at chess. I have played the game for years but never very well. I have figured my role is to make someone else feel better with my losing. 

Well, enough of that. While we are social distancing I am working to become at least competitive with my rooks and pawns. Again, thank to the Internet I have found Chess.com. Along with a Chess for Dummies book, I am waging war with a computer. Honestly, even at the lowest skill level I am losing quite often. But, I hold out hope that someday I will play my grandchildren to at least a stalemate.

I have stepped up guitar paying to almost every day and oil painting to three times a week. Betty wants me to try my hand at both sketching and acrylic painting...why not. 

Reading remains a mainstay of a day for me. Just before the library closed I grabbed six books. There are at least twenty or so on the Kindle I haven't read, either.

Neighborhood walks with Bailey, Betty, or solo jaunts happen much more than they used to. With the brutal Phoenix summer heat still waiting in the wings, most days are perfect for getting some much needed exercise and fresh air. I even found an old exercise band. It isn't the same as weights at the gym but helpful nevertheless.

We found a fun way to discover new shows to stream. Simply type in a letter in the search box. Every show that begins with "S" on Netflix, for example, pops up. By scrolling through, if the image looks interesting we will highlight that box, pull up a description and see if a trailer is available. If so, "add to my list." Betty and i have discovered several movies, documentaries, or series we would never have found otherwise.

OK, there it is: learning to touch type, chess lessons, more guitar and painting time, reading a lot, streaming new material, sleeping later in the morning, placing a food delivery order online.....welcome to my C-19 world!


44 comments:

  1. I have probably spent a hundred hours in the last couple of weeks designing a new website to augment RJsCorner. RJC will focus on journaling and the new one will focus on my creative activities such as storytelling, abstract realism, timeline chronicles and rescuing democracy. That is quite a list, isn't it? 😆

    I have found that my Aspie traits are very conducive to these times. They allow me to be totally focused on one activity for hours at a time, and that is what is needed to make this happen.

    It's amazing that with all the words you have put out here on Satisfying Retirement you have done it with two fingers! I'll bet you have the two most powerful index fingers in the country. Ha.

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    1. Designing a new website is a great use of your time. You have so many ideas and directions to follow and document, that makes perfect sense.

      Yes, I have no idea how many words have been typed with 2 fingers, but they need a break! Touch typing will be so much more efficient and lessen the constant need to fix spelling mistakes.

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  2. I'm attending virtual yoga classes and watching other yoga classes on YouTube to perfect my practice. I transitioned to a whole food plant-based diet in 2011 and I'm still learning new recipes. I am using the Libby app to listen to and read books from my library. My husband and I walk in our neighborhood almost every day. I'm enjoying TV and streaming without feeling guilt. I Facetime with my grandchildren. And I've reconnected with many friends by text, phone, and Facebook.

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    1. Cooking and experimenting with new recipes seems quite popular. Learning to make a healthy and tasty meal with what is on hand becomes more important every day.

      I don't know much about yoga but it seems like a perfect online, virtual pursuit.

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  3. Hi Bob, hitting the pause button is exactly what this feels like.I wonder if we will pick up where we left off or if we will reset and incorporate new behaviors into our lives.It seems like we've been given a huge learning opportunity and I hope it isn't wasted. I have always been an introvert so adjusting to being at home has not been terrible. I miss my friends, but texting, phoning, and FaceTime keep us in touch. My daily routine has evolved and includes most of what I need to feel comfortable, if not contented for the duration. Coffee, blog reading, catching up on news, planning dinner, light housekeeping, followed by exercise (walk/jog outside, rowing machine and bands at home) take up my mornings. Afternoons are filled with Mahjongg, on-line Scrabble, reading, editing old photographs,watching photography tutorials, sewing projects,sometimes an additional walk,floating in the pool and dinner prep. Evenings are all about dinner with the kids (my daughter and her significant other are living with us during this time) TV viewing, talking about their work day and the status of things in general. What I miss terribly is planning new adventures. Travel has been a big part of our satisfying retirement and having something to look forward to keeps me motivated well beyond the day to day. So....I will keep on keeping on until we are once again able to move about freely.

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    1. Your days and nights sound both busy and productive. Some excellent ideas. Online Scrabble peaks my interest.,

      I sincerely hope that many of us use this pause in what was our normal routine to reassess and adjust. It should be obvious that the folks I referred to as the "Visible Invisibles" are such an important cog in our economic wheel. I would very much like to see that these workers are granted a new status, paycheck, and health care after this virus has run its course. Of course, paid family leave should go without saying. Every other developed nation offers some for of it. What is wrong with us?

      Travel...ah yes. Two major trips in the trash can for this year, with plans for next very much open to what happens if there is a resurgence of C-19 in the fall.

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  4. Since I was supposed to be using this spring to do some downsizing of furniture and art in preparation for a move this 'pause' is not a gift of time to me. I am reading more, writing more, viewing social media on the computer more and watching TV less. Less TV because all my life I've been a news and political junkie but watching those games playing out during this pandemic is darn right scary. I do think there are going to be lot of people who will look back at this 'pause' with good memories of personal growth, stronger relationships and more skills to add to their is of accomplishments. So far, I see far more people pulling together for the greater good than those who are defiantly sticking to its-all-Hoax-to-take-down-Trump theory. Bob, it sounds like you're handling this 'pause' in a very healthy way. I used to love to play chess. Maybe I'll find a place on line to play.

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    1. Last night, I finally beat the computer at Chess.com !!!!

      If we simply go back to the way things were we will have missed a once-in-a-generation chance to refocus what is important to us as individuals and as a society. I really can't see the old model of consume-consume-consume returning. The world has changed too much.

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  5. I THINK THAT , LIKE SUZANNE, I am missing planning new adventures, the most. It keeps my mind and spirit upbeat to know that a short getaway to Bisbee is around the corner, or a lunch date to the Olive Mill. I miss the stimulation of knowing I have time at the beach up ahead or a family reunion.All of these excursions were on our list for the rest of 2020 and now, all cancelled.It’s a bit mind boggling. I am MOSTLY content at home, but the joys of in -person activities are sorely missed.It’s good for the mind body and spirit to get out and about a couple of times a week! I am sorely aware that this is all first world conjecture..and that we are blessed beyond measure. We have enough food to eat, TV to watch, books to read, the mortgage is paid, and our backyard is lush. But we are human, after all, and each of us has routines and people we miss. I am hoping for better days ahead but I also have a lot of trepidation about HOW we will return to a feeling of safety or security, around town, in stores, and traveling seems like a DREAM at this point..airplanes? Airports? Cruise ships?? These are certainly strange times.

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    1. Frankly, it is going to take a lot to get me back on a cruise ship. This virus makes it obvious that any cruise has the potential to become a horrific experience.

      I have noted before that this lockdown may push Betty and me back into the RV world. Depending on ourselves for where we go and our safety looms large in our current mindset.

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  6. It's funny. I miss my large social grups less than I though (that will change I am sure as we go along). Like others I miss the planning and looking ahead. Will I be able to go to the beach? More importantly I miss the very small day to day things that Imigt do. Run to the rec center for a quick class for example. I expect for the next full yer things will be different We will try to be as social and open the economy while we can but I believe that the tightening up will come and go until we have a true vaccine. I'm looking ahead to thel ogistics of moving in the fall and wonderig how that will go. as for what I do at home, I exercise indoor ost days I spend time outside nomattter the weather on the patio or in the garden. I read multiple books weekly as always, I stream Various TV programs, I craft,and so on.

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    1. Oh yes, you are planning on moving back to Texas this fall. I never thought about whether moving companies are operating now and over the next several months.

      Like you, I miss the option of going to meetings, stores, restauants, the gym, more that actually doing so. It is like being a kid again: you want to do exactly what your parents told you not to.

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  7. On a tangent and after years of reading you, I need to say THANK YOU for the time you put into your blog, especially your replies. I've not seen most other bloggers respond to nearly every post they get like you do. And you seem to put as much thought into your responses as you did into your articles. If I only had that kind of patience! Anyway, thanks for all you do for us out here. I give daily thanks for good health, retirement, SS, pension, investment income,retiree health plan and no worry about getting a paycheck! I'm really glad to be 72, retired and blessed.

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    1. Thank you, Bruce. If someone takes the time to leave a comment, they deserve the courtesy of a reply. Plus, since I really enjoy the exchange of ideas, I want to encourage active participation.

      I will turn 71 in May. So far, life has been quite a satisfying journey.

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  8. Interesting to see how we are all "adapting" to this new normal. Like you I HAVE to get out side at least once a day and very often twice a day. Like you our weather here in the Southern California has been VERY nice so that certainly helps. But while we've had to give up our immediate plans, I haven't given up planning travel at all....just postponed in for the next several months.

    We rent a house in the mountains during the summer so that is still on board. We also go to the beach for a month and that is happening unless we are told we can't. And our trip to Spain/Portugal was postponed until Sept/Oct. Might we have to cancel again...I suppose. But until then, we just wait and see. I get great pleasure out of planning so I'm still doing it.

    Other than that, I reading A LOT, doing a lot of zoom calls and eating as well and healthy as possible. Time is going much faster than I guessed it would. Most of us will live through this as long as we continue to be careful. But I am hoping that in some ways our country and the world changes in positive ways. Hopefully we as a people won't just go back to the same old, same old when this is done. ~Kathy

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    1. Going back to the "old" ways in everything would be a huge disappointment. It would mean we have learned nothing from this disaster.

      Our AZ weather has been abnormally cool and wet. We have been averaging 10-15 degrees below normal. That will end soon, but I am taking advantage of it while I can.

      We did have some plans for plamting, but with nurseries closed the yard will stay as it is.

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  9. Good for you for learning a new skill! Practicing for no short periods of time is the way to go when learning how to type. Don't be concerned about mistakes. If you write on a word processing program, after you finish you can spellcheck your copy and have it mostly corrected before you copy and paste your completed work into where it needs to go. And remember, you only have to type as fast as you can think! LOL As a former computer teacher, I taught this skill to all my students starting in third grade. I always thought it was a lot like learning how to play a musical instrument which stimulates different areas of you brain. Research tells us how good this is for the aging process.

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    1. Don't know how the word "no" got into that second sentence. So much for my proofreading skills!

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    2. Yes, proofreading one's own work is tough. Often my wife will read a post I have written before it is published. No matter how many times I have proofed it, she will find something that I missed.

      I am practicing my typing about 20 minutes a day, sometimes twice a day which is about my limit.

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  10. I love the things you've found to learn & practice online. Great use of this time! I took a touch typing class in high school (long before anyone thought of computer keyboards), and it's been a really valuable skill. Chess, on the other hand, is a lost cause for me. Maybe I should try to play against the computer and see if I could improve.

    We've had our house on the market since mid-March -- right about when life locked down. One week of action and then nothing. We have had some folks make an appointment to walk our property, and my realtor had me make a walkthrough video. That was a fun activity and it appears it might generate an offer...we'll see. However, we also need our builder to be able to keep working on our new condo. So the stress level is real.

    I made a few masks for myself and some family members, and that's not something I want to do every day, but I do admire those who do. A friend's daughter has made 200+ so far. We had a few warm days, so I did some spring garden cleanup. But like you, I can only work with my perennials, as the garden centers are closed. And I need mulch, but it's not life and death.

    Overall, I miss being able to go where I want when I want, but I'm grateful to be safe and healthy and able to say the same about my loved ones so far.

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    1. Unlucky timing on the house sale. That has to be so very tough.

      Our bad timing was much less serious but three days before the stay-at-home suggestion our ice maker broke. Not wanting to have someone unknown come into our home and put both ourselves and the repairperson at risk, I have made once-a-week bag of ice runs to the local convenience mart....gloved and recently masked.

      Even so, as you say, we are feeling very lucky to be in our situation when so many are in very serious straits.

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  11. I am in the 3rd week of full lockdown in New Zealand where conditions are very strict nationwide. So I am forced to slow down and abandon all the usual activity including my busy social life. Now my daily meditation leads into a day where I have time to "be" and to my surprise, I am content. The day has no plan - it unfolds. I find I am enjoying small things that went unnoticed- the sound of birds, bright red berries on the tree in my neighbours garden, autumn colours on the trees and cooking an evening meal - previously a chore at the end of a very busy day! I keep in touch via phone, have discovered online theatre, concerts and dance performances, read, tend my garden and am playing bridge online twice a week with my bridge club. I limit my viewing of Covid 19 news to once a day - more could be damaging to my mental health!

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    1. I sao agree with your decision to limit news about the virus. At this point it really isn't helpful. I have read about new Zealand's aggressive steps to protect itself. The last figuresI saw showed a very strong downward trend in cases.

      I like your attitude. You are content and realize all your blessings with a new pace to your day. Do you think it is likely you will adopt some of it to regular behavior when things get back to whatever normal will be?

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  12. Learning touch typing reminds me - The year I turned 15 my older sister's birthday present to me was a summer school typing course because I wasn't going to be able to fit typing into my course load. At the time I thought it was such a dumb gift but later realized that it was probably one of the best birthday gifts I ever received. So when my daughter (now 41) announced that she wanted to teach herself how to type during summer vacation when she was 8, I took her seriously. We bought a used "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" book at a Friends of the Library book sale. We moved the typewriter to the top of the wooden foot locker toy box in the family room, and by the end of the summer, she was a pro.

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    1. I am about to move off the home row...progress!

      RJ noted in a previous comment about how odd it is that I have been typing this blog for 10 years, all with two fingers. I am looking forward to changing that.

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  13. Bob, you might look at Tux Type. It is designed for kids for typing practice, but I have found adults love it as well. It has bright colorful graphics and the practice lessons feel like video games. It is free and fun to use.

    We decided to do some building projects. Our son is here, so he when for supplies when he picked up food orders. We have a screen room around the hot tub now. We have had issues with bees/wasps/hornets etc coming for the water. With two of us allergic it has not been used as much as it would otherwise.

    We also have three more big projects in the wings to work on. Then of course, there are the normal projects in line as well.

    By the time we come in from working on the building, it is grab dinner and sit down because we are tired!

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    1. I am using Typing Club.com at the moment, but I will definitely take a look. Using different programs will probably help me in the long run.

      Having the time and the help from your son is great. Tackling big projects now is perfect. You certainly don't have a lot of distractions! My wife is refinishing the dining room table. She has the patience for all the sanding and staining...I do not.

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  14. Retirement certainly prepared me for this pandemic response. For the most part, my daily routine hasn't changed. I still revel in the slow mornings which include coffee and reading blogs, including yours. It seems there's always something to be done in the house. My SIL once said that there's always a list of things left undone. Each season has its to-do list. Once the winter snow removal, wood splitting is done it's time to move on to spring yard work. There will be no outdoor planting before the third week in May. I plan to start some flowers in the event we don't have access to garden centers. I host folk music concerts and of course they were cancelled. The Home Routes organization is hosting the National On-Line Folk Festival on FB and utube. I usually save on-line concerts and movies for the weekend. That's also when I listen to some favorite radio programs. I love cooking and baking and that hasn't changed. I mailed Easter cookies to my granddaughters last week. Volunteer activities have ceased so no community or cemetery association meetings; no lunches & game dates with my friends; no celebratory gatherings. A visit from my friends from England in June has been cancelled as have rodeos, chuckwagon races, music festivals; It's a very dialed-down life. I enjoy scrabble on the computer; if only I could remember every new word I see. I enjoy reading. I'm currently reading "Aria" by Nazanine Hozar. I do guided meditations and tai chi chih on-line. I walk 1-2 miles most days. I'm slowly culling the items from my mom's house, i.e. 30 yrs of greetings cards. I plan to paint the utility room. Like I said, there's always something to do. I hope that my pension fund will continue to be funded so that I can get through this economic shut-down without financial worries, unlike my son who has weathered the downturn in the oil industry only to face this. I need to be the space for him to express his concerns over all of this knowing that I don't have the solution. Do take care, Bob & Betty.

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    1. My, you have a very full life during non-virus times, and you are staying quite busy now. I really enjoy what others are doing because it gives me ideas. You are the second person to mention online Scrabble. That would be an excellent tool to keep my mind growing.

      My best wishes to your son. The oil and gas business swings from boom to bust quicker than almost any other industry I know. At the moment I am down to one fillup a month. Tell him I am sorry for not doing my part in keeping those pumps working.

      Actually, I know his pain in a very real sense. My wife inherited part ownership in a coal and natural gas company in West Virginia. At one point just a decade ago we had hoped Chevron would strike gas on our land and help our kids with their retirements. It is now pretty worthless.

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  15. Wow, you have done a LOT of typing with two fingers. I'm impressed. And I love the way you are exploring new things during this time. You have motivated me to try some new things too. So far, I've stuck to things I already do, or adaptations of things I already do--like a Zoom tai chi class. I've been enjoying our great spring weather. Since I can't go to martial arts classes, I've been playing with my weapons in the back yard.

    But what is something new I could do? Let me think on that.... Thanks for the inspiration!!

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    1. Playing with weapons in your backyard? Be careful of Rosie and the birds. Nunchucks can hurt.

      I guess I have typed close to a million words over the past decade for this blog...and yes, with two fingers. They are now a bit shorter than they once were!

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  16. Bob, if one existed, you would most definitely win the Blogging Award for Perseverance! I can't even imagine the effort it took for you to write your books and publish a blog for so many years typing with just two fingers. Your dedication is impressive (and appreciated). Soon you'll have to figure out how to spend all of your extra time once you start typing three, four or five times faster!

    After the holidays, Alan and I had started several major projects around the house which are still ongoing, so they've been us keeping busy (painting two rooms and two hallways, cleaning up and clearing out 35+ years of "stuff" from the house, building a two-tiered decorative block retaining wall and the never-ending cutting and splitting of firewood). None of that specifically relates to COVID-19, but this does: We had purchased a regulation size ping pong table sometime around the holidays and finally made the effort to clear out the extra space we needed for it and put it together. We had been playing on an old homemade tabletop setup but, over the years, that had turned into a placeholder for more of that "stuff" I mentioned. None of us had played in quite a while even though we all enjoyed the game. It has proven to be a fun-filled way to pass some of our indoor time. For now, it's just our immediate family - the two of us, daughter, son and son's long-time girlfriend - but I can see it being an enjoyable diversion for family and friends, too, in the post-pandemic future.

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    1. Ping pong was something our family enjoyed for several years. Eventually we added a pool table but I don't think it got as much use. There is something satisfying about whacking a little white ball.

      I figure 10 years, 1 million words, or about 5 million characters. No wonder I have a bit of arthritis in my fingers.

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  17. I had a boss and a co-worker that would type with their index fingers and I was amazed at how fast they were. I learned to type in the 10th grade on a manual typewriter; we had a couple of electrics in the class and everyone always competed for them.

    Now that I can’t play Pickleball and our organized hikes have been cancelled, I find myself reading FaceBook posts and posting myself more than I have in the past. Reading more, watching more TV, exercising more including long walks- discovering places in the community I never saw before. During the walks, we often see people we know and stop to talk from a distance. Cooking and watching various Chef’s cooking videos, cleaning more and one new thing that I don’t think I saw anyone post is scanning old photos. I still am volunteering once a week at the food bank employing all the C-19 protocols.

    I would like to try the Chess website as I have’t played that in ages. And have been thinking about taking French classes on line. I haven’t felt depressed except when watching the news and I find many positives to this pause- my mind seems more restful. Thanks for the post!

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    1. One of my daughters is taking an online French Class, using Rosetta Stone. We have thousands of old analog photos that need to be scanned. My wife is very particular about her filing system so this is her project. As yet she hasn't been motivated to tackle them. Some day!

      Watching the news can put a damper on a perfectly good day!

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  18. Two fingers, all those words - impressive! Really like the search on "s" in Netflix idea - will do that tonight!

    For me, have written 194 pages of a book I'm writing for my grandchildren. The book is about every job I ever had in my life, I've had 49 jobs. Have seven more jobs to write about.

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    1. The book idea sounds like a great gift for your grandkids. It is something they will read and reread often. That is a very worthwhile project.

      SEarching by letter is fascinating. There are so many shows and movies I would never discover in any other way.

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  19. I'm doing all my usual sedentary stuff like reading, blogging, watching TV. Plus, a daily walk. Plus, we've discovered Zoom and Facetime. Plus, I'm taking an online psychology course thru coursera. We're all coping the best we know how ... and hopefully helping out the front-line workers in whatever way we can.

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    1. I wish I had the chance to invest in Zoom a few months ago. It has taken off as a go-to app and is working to fix the security flaws exposed by its rapid growth.

      Over the years I have taken a few Coursera courses and enjoyed them.

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  20. I never thought we would be in this type of situation. I love our home but, I miss my friends and neighbors visits. Our sons are in their own situations and, just as bored as so many of us are but, it's really affected their work income. One is an auctioneer and the other a bar tender. It's all about being with people that has made it so difficult for them. Not to mention their sons, one is graduating this year and going to Penn State in the fall...or so we thought. Now we're not sure if that's happening in the fall. Our younger son may get back to the bartending fairly soon but, not sure. His 8yr old son is feeling the stress, too.
    As retirees we're doing ok but, missing socializing. Fortunately, at least for now, there aren't too many folks down here at the shore and, that makes it easier to get out for walks. But, it won't be too long before those with 'second homes' will be showing up, despite being told to stay in their primary residence. Not looking forward to how that plays out.
    But, we have each other and technology to keep us 'together'. I'm hoping we all get through it just fine and have a better government by Fall! Stay safe and sane, my friend!

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    1. I read about the Cape's situation and the fear that second home people could completely overwhelm your limited heath facilities. I don't know if legally you can keep someone from coming to a property they own, but certainly Airbnb and rental type situations should be prohibited.

      I have no idea what the millions of service and hospitality workers are going to do. Regardless of what some people want to have happen, there will be a very slow reopening and too many of the small restaurants and businesses will not be back.

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    2. I was glad to see the politicians down here at the tip of NJ made themselves known and curbed those who wanted to disappear here. There have been a few 'retirees' with two homes who come back and forth but, they do seem to pay attention to the rules. I feel bad for my single friends who only have their pets to keep them somewhat happy. I try to make extra meals and share them with these women,(on their door steps). Really looking forward to some celebrations (small but...) over the summer. But, just to keep us a bit scared, we heard there may be another rise by next winter.
      Stay safe and hug your family!! b

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  21. Bob, I'm impressed by how productively you are using your time. I don't feel as though I've gained a lot of time by staying at home. Because I live alone, just about all my social interaction now takes place online (a lot of Zooming and email), which actually takes more time and effort than interacting with people in person. I am grateful that the pandemic restrictions coincided with the arrival of the new garden season. These may be the first year ever that I actually finish all my April garden tasks by the end of April!

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    1. Betty and I were discussing adding some new plants and bushes to our yard, but then the closures hit and the weather is now too hot to plant even if everything opened tomorrow (Please, don't!). So, any planting will have to wait until fall.

      I am a happily stay-at-home person even during non-pandemic times. So, using the time more productively isn't because I have extra time but more a feeling that this is an opportunity I shouldn't waste. Except for my work with The Friends of the Library I am not missing any social meetings.

      I am using a new app, Marco Polo, to play a virtual chess game with my grandson. He makes a move that is shown on a short video. I make a move in response, also on video. Because he has lots of school work and family activities, it has taken almost three days so far to play most of one game this way. But, it has been fun and a way to stay connected.

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