Whatcha Doin’ At Home?

Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

I recently ran a couple of posts on your pandemic stories. Last week I asked what you are doing now that you are home most of the time.  I got some great replies, so here they are. The first one is more of a pandemic story and definitely worth a read. I did leave in a couple of compliments I got because they make me happy and very grateful. I hope these stories will do the same for you… And I did add what I am doing too!

Grateful from Across the World

Dear Arlene,

I love your grammar lessons and I have been reading the wonderful

stories from people all over the world, managing in these times. Feel

free to delete anything that is not suitable as per the situation.

Here is my story:

I have always wanted to attend a masquerade ball. I have seen them in

the movies, and always found it fascinating how people are not

recognized by the other characters in the movies, but we know who they

are. Of course, in my lifetime, I never got the opportunity to attend

any of those kinds of parties.

Little did I know that our lives would turn around and every day would

become a masquerade ball, where we have to hide behind masks, thanks

to Covid-19. It is not easy to recognize people with their masks on,

trust me.

It is interesting to see, though, how we are avoiding people in the

elevator, on the streets, on stairs, in hallways, in the aisles of the

supermarkets, or anywhere else. The virus has us fearing contact with

people, and we panic when we see someone coming our way. Social

distancing has become a terminology we use so freely. I also know,

that when all this is over (which it will be), we will use this sacred

terminology in a sarcastic, mocking, or humorous way.  I hope we will

not forget what all we have been through together as a world.

Until last year, I was teaching in China, and it was the hardest thing –

trying to protect myself from not getting banged into, pushed,

shoved, or coughed or sneezed at.  I always wondered how

they did not know basic courtesy. Don’t get me wrong. Those were the

best days of my life,  there in China. I am not judging their

culture. And since the onset of Covid-19, they have had to learn their lessons

the hard way.

However, I  do not want to dive into comparing people and cultures. I

want to share what I have learnt from the days in quarantine. After

all, we must concentrate on the positive and take every day as a

lesson. I am enjoying the experience of teaching from home, I have a

hot lunch every day, do Zumba in my living room every afternoon, and

every evening sit for meditation. I am concentrating on my well-being.

Teaching online was quite challenging in the beginning. But the most

amazing part has been how online teaching websites and resources have

opened up their hearts and websites to share free resources online. It

has been a blessing in disguise. My students did take their books home,

yet teaching online is not the same as teaching in the classroom.

This generation, which I call an IT generation, needs more stimulus to

stay engaged. And these online resources are just perfect to keep

them engaged – not to mention the ease of correction. I just need to

link my classrooms to that website; and my students receive the lessons

in their Google classroom, complete the tasks, and submit. The work gets

either corrected or I get to see where the students need extra help.

What more could I ask for?

I would like to shout out a huge “Thank You,  to all those “owners”

of those websites for opening up their hearts and sites and giving

teachers like me a world of resources to work with. My students are

learning, benefiting, and enjoying the teaching and learning process.

This is pure and selfless service to all students, parents, and teachers.

Bless you all. Stay safe, happy, and calm,

Kawita Thani, Secondary English Teacher in Jakarta, Indonesia


Quiet Times

Hi Arlene,

I think you asked how people have been spending their time at home. Here

are a few of the things I’ve been up to:

1) Making sourdough bread (like 95 percent of the world, it seems).

2) Going through boxes of memorabilia accumulated from my (now-adult)

kids’ years in school. No, we don’t need the second-grade spelling

worksheet. I am snapping pics of things I really want to remember.

3) Attending Zoom meetings and webinars on meditation, writing, writing

and meditation, meditation and writing. And more meditation.

4) Checking graphs for signs of a downward-bending curve and studying

world maps. Appreciating Johns Hopkins for their relentless data

reporting, but feeling the immense suffering indicated by the

ever-expanding red circles.

5) Walking. And walking, and walking, and walking more. Alone, now

masked, and often on the phone with a friend who is also walking, to

simulate walking together.

6) Writing and editing. Well, mostly editing, since I have found it hard

to write anything that is not related to Covid-19.

7) Reading blogs/newsletters during the day and novels (as usual) in the


8) Watching Netflix and Amazon Prime (like 95 percent of the world).

Looking forward to getting back to grammar!

Stay well,

Audrey Kalman, author, California


So Much Ambition!

Hi Arlene, 

I am very busy. I have done a complete spring cleaning of my house from ceiling to floors and everything in between. Last week, I began a project to repaint my kitchen cabinets. This should take me three weeks to complete. Yesterday, I made 18 cloth masks for family. Today I am resting. Back to the cabinets tomorrow. Walk a mile every day, weather permitting

If this goes longer than May 4th, I may start my fall cleaning!  LOL!

Elaine Pantano, Massachusetts


One, Two, Three Priorities

Early on in the sheltering at home, I decided that I would do three things every day. 1) Walk or do tai chi 2) Practice trombone if only for ten minutes, and 3) Do the dishes. Everything else was negotiable. I don’t know why I did this. I used to only walk or do tai chi once or twice a week. I do know that it has been important. I sure haven’t FELT like doing the dishes. Without a decree, the plates and bowls probably would have stacked up like a Dr. Seuss illustration. The two days that I didn’t feel well and didn’t get my practicing and walks in, I felt myself slipping into a nebulous place with no schedule and no emotions. That’s okay for a short time, but I got back to my three things as soon as I could. I plan to keep them for the duration. When this is all over I’m going to have quads of steel.

Rae Rae Millard, Musician, Writer, California


Making Good Use of Time

Here is a list of things I’m doing while sheltering in place:



Final editing of my 3rd book

Exercising on my stepper

Uploading 10 minute meditations for my students


FaceTiming with my kids, siblings, and grandkids

Playing Scrabble with my husband

Aliza Herbst


Intellectual Undertakings

Not much of a change since my retirement in 2008. Instead of going shopping with my wife, I stay in the car (should have started that earlier…), and when she comes back I return the cart and disinfect it for the next customer – though some shopkeepers have a staff-member do that chore.

What we miss most, now that the weather is looking up, is going for a cappuccino on the “pavement terrace” of our favourite café, restaurants, and, of course, dining out with family and friends.

Personally, I had to go without attending the annual performance of Bach’s Saint Matthew’s Passion for the first time in 29 consecutive years (you may know that this is quite a popular thing in the Netherlands), but since I had already ordered tickets for the 2021 performance, these 2020 tickets will come in handy in 2022, I  hope . . .

So I have to make do with my laptop, tablet, and smartphone: watching Netflix on my tablet; reading Baldacci, Coben, Crais, Child, Lehane, Pelecanos, and many, many more on my tablet; doing some NLP-programming (No! Not Neurolinguistic nonsense, but genuine Natural Language Processing!) and logic programming, especially solving constraint logic problems (think of the Zebra-puzzle); and cheating on the weekly Sudoku challenges in Saturday’s newspaper, naturally.

So not much excitement during our “intelligent lock-down” as proudly presented by our Prime Minister, which may probably continue until the beginning of June, at least.

Stay well, all of you!

Will Snellen, Netherlands


Keeping Busy

First: re “Forget Him”: [comment on last week’s blog post]

” He can’t give you love that isn’t there”  is how I originally learned the song, transcribing the words from a TV performance of it, so I guess some older but equally wise grammar diva must have come down on him like a ton of bricks?

Second, we’re zooming two to three meetings a day, then nicking away at the humongous  list of things we always said we’d rearrange, fix, or prune, if we ever had the time. Sadly, that’s no longer an empty threat.

Third,  I’m working on my book, finishing about a chapter a week.

Last, I’ve discovered that the pro-nutrition people lied.  A high-fiber, low-sugar, healthy diet has not made me thin.

Hope all is well with you.  You were one of our most popular speakers.

Knuti VanHoven, Fremont  (CA) Area Writers


Not Much!

Every day at about 5 p.m. I ask the same question: Where did the day go? 

I moved from California to Florida last September to my daughter and son-in-law’s house. They were on tour, so I was here alone. I was planning to buy my own place here this spring or summer. Then Covid-19. They were due back in May, but they job got canceled in mid March, so here we are. I am very routine oriented so I do similar things every day. I get up early-ish to read and watch news. I watch entirely too much news, but I am cutting down a little. I  take care of e-mail and social media things in the morning. I haven’t been able to write much — except for this blog post, which gets done every Friday! Other than that, I walk the dog to the mailbox every day; exercise 30 or so minutes seven days a week; do a little writing, marketing, and research; watch a little Netflix with my kids; look at real estate online; eat carbs; do laundry and a little cleaning; read; and listen to political podcasts. Oh, and Zoom with friends, attend webinars, text, and phone my son and friends in California. I don’t bake bread or cook (but my son-in-law does), I don’t garden, I don’t meditate (although I try), and I don’t walk outdoors much. Too hot and humid by the time I get around to it. I find I am exhausted and have very little ambition. I don’t sleep well and fall asleep listening to podcasts. I think of all the things I could be doing….and keep rewriting my To Do lists.

Arlene, The Grammar Diva