Things I’ve Learned in Quarantine

It may feel frustrating, or worrisome, or even boring, but this is above all a profound time we’re living through.  And, when we (hopefully) come through this astonishing, bewildering idle, we will have no choice but to settle into a new life.  Because after 2020, things will never be the same again.

And even I am not dumb enough to predict what that new world will look like—my heart is set on better, but the smart money is on the lower, yet more precarious bar of transformed.

We may not be able to count on an improved world, but we can labor, during this time, to improve ourselves.  Below is a list of some of the things I’ve learned while in quarantine.

Turtle Leeches  An animal obsessed friend was playing with Crowley when he found a small turtle, the size of the palm of a hand.  When he was showing us, we noticed small back objects clinging to both shell and skin. 

At first, we all assumed it was poop.  But then the “poop” began to move.  Turns out, they were tiny leeches with cobra-shaped heads.  In all, my friend pulled off eight leeches.

Later, I went to the Google.

Turns out, in the wonder and majesty of nature, there are leeches can only suck the blood of turtles. 

It makes sense, because in my yard there’s a swarm of rabid mosquitos who will only suck the blood of me.

Self-Soothing There’s an online business called Steampunk Tendencies.  They post videos of the creation of the items that they then put up for sale.  There’s one clip of an artist painting gold filigree around the edge of a large conference table—freehand.

The first couple of times I watched, I marveled at the skill and ease of the painter.  Viewing it a few more times, I noticed how peaceful it made me feel.  After I’d been watching it on loop for a while, I was so chill, I was almost drooling.

Honest, it’s more calming than a valium washed down with a martini.  

Talenti Chocolate Sorbetto  I always kept a tub of Talenti chocolate sorbet in my chill chest.  It was creamy and delicious and only 150 calories per serving.  I only ate it by the spoonful, from the container, standing in front of the freezer.  But when I needed some chocolate before I opened my mouth and let spill the poison darts my brain was thinking it was my delicious go-to.

Sixteen months and nine days ago, they retired the flavor—and broke my heart.

But it’s back!  There’s a few more calories, but it’s still an amazing, frozen, chocolaty treat.  In my freezer right now?  A half-eaten pint and a brand new, full container for backup.

Phone Fun for Almost Everyone  If you own a phone, you probably haven’t noticed, but each day this madness goes on, it becomes tougher and tougher to give cell phones a hard pass.  Try ordering food for curbside pickup, or checking-in for an appointment, or buying a ticket for something without a smartphone.  

Training For Rapture I am convinced that when the lockdowns are over, and people go back to work on a daily basis, there will be two kinds of folks.

The kind that took this time to work out and train, transforming their bodies into tight, rippling sculpture.

And, the kind that exercised by hiking to the kitchen,  binged a ton of TV, and existed on the four basic food groups of fat, salt, sugar, and cheese. 

Hey, whatever it takes to make it through to the other side, right?

Thanks for your time.

Contact me at

Quarantine Shame

“How many likes did you get in the quarantine, Grandma?”

If you had to pick a time period in which to be quarantined, now is actually a pretty convenient time.

With high-speed internet access, computers, and smartphones, you can contact almost anyone on the planet.  With the plethora and variety of companies that deliver to your front door, it’s much easier to not leave the house.

Just this week, I finished The Kid’s birthday shopping, got a new trashcan for my station wagon, and had a doctor’s appointment.  The Kid played bar trivia, had a beer with old friends, played a board game, and met with co-workers.

All without leaving the house, or having anyone over.

But in the true spirit of yin and yang, there’s also a dark side to that wifi.  I’m talking about those camera-ready folks who are masters of social media.  The kind of folks who post photos of perfectly lit rainbow avocado toast captioned, “Breakfast on the run.”, pics of themselves standing in front of a Greek sunset captioned, “Blessed”, and a perfect Princess birthday party captioned, “Threw it together this morning.”

Under normal circumstances, this crowd is mildly irritating.

But during quarantine, when even the most stable personalities are operating with some level of anxiety and depression, those people make me feel like a complete, glow in the dark loser.

Some guy named Thomas Cervetti who lives in Malaysia “was bored during quarantine”.  So he and his equally bored family decided to gather up all the bath towels in the house and make an elaborate stop action surfing movie.  It looks like the love child of Peter Gabriel’s 1986 Sledge Hammer video and the classic surf movie, Endless Summer.

Truthfully, it’s a creative, adorable, and highly entertaining diversion.

Using only bath towels.

Here’s my fancy quarantine plan for our bath towels at Chez Matthews: getting them out of the washer and into the dryer before they get moldy.

A couple spent an entire day making a rodent-sized art museum for their pet gerbils.  Smaller than playing cards, there were “Vincent van Gogh” canvasses, a furry little “Mona Lisa”, and some pretty impressive impressionist paintings.

Again, adorable.  Especially the photos of the gerbils standing around them, looking like art critics.  All they need are tiny little glasses of cheap, warm Champagne.

I’ve been artistically serving our dinner on matching plates and coordinating my hair elastics with my sweatshirt.

Actually, I haven’t put a whole lot of effort into the ponytail holder thing.  Tonight the tie I have in is an entirely different shade of blue than my shirt.

Someone else designed and sewed a bunch of felt dolls.  That may sound mundane, but these dolls look exactly like every single member of her entire extended family.  Now she has the cutest soft, fuzzy family facsimiles to share her quarantine with. 

When I try to sew a button back onto something, I usually end up needing a quick trip to urgent care and seven or eight stitches.

One family has a small door that leads to a space under the stairs that’s used as a dog house for their gorgeous Golden Doodle, Rusty.  They decided to spend some of their quarantine time going all canine curb appeal on it.  They put in a tiny leaded glass front door, vintage-style mailbox, a porch light sconce that looks like it’s straight from Pottery Barn, and a faux window with attached window box full of blooms.  There is a painted, weathered sign with his address: 7878 Doodle Drive.

And I’m sitting here covered in Crowley fur and dog slobber feeling about as creative as a mimeograph machine.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at

Pollyanna Called…

It’s the nature of the beast to want to do…something.

But we’ve been told the most important thing we can do is stay home, and wait.  It’s taken a week or so, but most people have gotten the message.  The streets are almost empty, and #socialdistancing has replaced #Renegade on TikTok (the Renegade’s a dance and TikTok’s a social media platform featuring short videos).

But there are things you can do.

Donate to any one of the relief efforts.  There are religious charities, the United Way, country musicians, dancers, bar and restaurant employees, you name it.  Honestly, whatever your interest or concern, there is probably a fund.

I know, Gentle Reader, that I don’t have to remind you, but please urge others to make sure the cause to which they’re donating is legit.  Just like the turkey vultures that show up at every roadkill, scammers are working overtime to separate people of goodwill from their money.

Donate blood.  The Red Cross is suffering from a severe shortage of blood.  There are many area blood drives, just google “blood drives near me”.  Or visit to schedule an appointment at your local Red Cross facility.

 Last Thursday I donated blood for the first time.  I made an appointment, went in, and in an hour I was done. Honestly, the registration took more time than the actual donation.  And you get snacks and juice boxes.  But, get a ride, especially if it’s your first time.  For the rest of the day, I was swooning around like a Southern belle at a topless beach. 

I am absolutely not recommending blood donation as a diet aid, but a whole blood donation is 470 ml, which weighs exactly one pound—just saying.

Cook for others.  Whether it’s for neighbors, friends, and family who don’t or can’t cook, or health care workers. 

Send a friend in the hospitality business an email of support.  Tell them you’re thinking of them and you will be there for them when this is all over.  Check on someone who’s been furloughed.  Get some take out or delivery. 

Before the stay at home orders came, I thought they might be.  So I bought a pack of blank note cards.  I’ll mail some to friends and family.  But I mainly bought them for my neighbors.  And at night, when I take my dog out for one last walk, I’ll slip them in mailboxes.  When things feel scary and it seems like we’ll be locked up ‘til the end of time, they’ll hopefully be a happy little surprise to brighten someone’s day.

And don’t forget to add your phone number so they can contact you if needed.

Be nice.  Nobody walking the earth has ever lived through anything like this.  People are scared and angry.  They want answers and assurances that won’t be coming.  The news is changing constantly and everybody is off-kilter.

Showing patience and kindness might be the best thing you can do, and the one thing that people surely need.  Smile, wave, offer to pick up a few things if you have to go out to grocery or drugstore.    

Do the thing for someone else that if done for you would make your own journey easier.

Even now, there’s still an outlying population who because of ignorance, hubris, or politics are paying no heed to the pleas of the medical community and government.  They are eschewing hand washing and social distancing.  They are going to the beach, the club, and having parties.

To those people I have one personal plea: please do nothing.

Nothing at all.  It’s the least you can do.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at