A few things: March 2020


I thought it might be nice to say hello (hello!) and to do something that feels normal, even though absolutely nothing feels remotely normal at present.

Let’s give it a try anyway:

Things to do at home…

The creative world is so alive right now, sharing how-to videos and free courses and helping everyone find an outlet during this strange, wonderful, terrible, time.

One of my favorites is Molly Mahon’s video series on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/mollymahonblockprinting/). She is adorable, her work is fun, and these short tutorials are for anyone – absolutely anyone (potato printing at home in your kitchen, that’s where she starts). Have a look and you’ll see. BONUS: she’s just a delight to listen to. I sit in my favorite kitchen chair, early in the morning, sipping coffee and watching her videos and escaping the world for just a few minutes.

One of the things I had planned to do in March was get ready for April’s national letter-writing campaigns (#write_on). I had been working on the Larksome Goods website, making packages and sets including a variety box with a half-price offer (code APRIL20) to entice you all to try some old-fashioned letter writing. Boxes are still sitting in my living room; code is still active; website still a work in progress….

My work-work has been all-consuming, so I haven’t done much cooking. But I did make Julia Moskin’s Salted Tahini Chocolate Cookies (NYT Cooking) and ate them for breakfast every day until they were gone. And when I get back to the grocery to buy some more dark chocolate chips I’m going to make another batch of cookies and possibly eat them three times a day, because they are delicious.

The work-work…

It’s been almost three weeks since we made the decision (earlier than some would have liked) to suspend in-person services at Kindred Place. We’ve been in a mad scramble to get the technology in place for remote services, train staff, obtain permission from various courts and other organizations to provide services remotely, communicate with stakeholders, and so on. We’ve also had to figure out what these changes (and more changes and more changes) mean for our security company, our cleaning company, our phone systems…. It has been utterly overwhelming, and it will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

But if we don’t put forth our best effort, what will happen to families who are suddenly at home together, living in fear and uncertainty and stress, who lose access to counseling? Being on home quarantine may be a dream for some families, but it’s a complete nightmare for others.

So we’re learning telehealth and online scheduling and how to Zoom staff meetings, going from 100% analog to 100% digital in less than 14 days. Services for current clients will start this week, and we’ll be taking new clients before the end of March. We will. We must.

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One relief I’m really looking forward to: My book group is meeting as scheduled this week, only we’re meeting by Zoom (because, of course), and we’re discussing The River, by Peter Heller, which I read a few months ago (only now that feels like a decade ago). It’s oddly beautiful and sad at the same time, which is kind of how almost everything feels right now.

Before I turn out the light at night I’ve been reading and re-reading Margaret Renkl’s Late Migrations, which is so lovely I don’t want to finish it, so I keep going back and forth and back and forth. Next on my list was going to be The Testaments, but I’m thinking pulling Bel Canto off the shelf seems like a better idea.

Another beautiful thing? Sex; a Benediction, by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Scroll down past the book promo to read the text; it’s totally worth it. And you can subscribe to her newsletter while you’re there, if you’re interested (“Grace for Fuck Ups” – how can you resist that?).

Observations in the Time of Corona,” is a lovely and thoughtful reflection. I was particularly struck by this paragraph:

We’ve learned to start with the basics: sleep, hydration, good nutrition, exercise. Then we level up with: meditation, yoga, journaling. The masterclass is creativity – solving problems with the resources we have, appreciating art and music and books, finding humor even when things are bleak, finding ways to grow our connections with other people, despite the physical distancing. And if you’re ready to hit the expert level: finding ways to help others, either psychologically or materially.

Need a good laugh? The Bitchin’ Sisters, famous for bringing you the eternerally-hilarious “Lice is a four-letter word,” offered this gem yesterday: “Go home, COVID-19. We’re drunk.” (NSFW)

Laughter is good for your health always, and particularly now.

Speaking of mental health: In the interest of your mental health, the World Health Organization recommends checking the news only twice daily. Pocket does a great job of aggregating the Covid-19 news in one place: https://bit.ly/2UvkoLF.  Two of the best I found through Pocket are the interview with epidemiologist Larry Brilliant and the interview with NIH director Francis Collins (read all the way to the end).

How to Clean Your Home for Coronavirus (NYT) is a good one to keep handy all the time. The good thing about cleaning (during this strange, wonderful, terrible time) is that it’s in the interest of public health AND boosts mental health, because it gives an instant feeling of control and accomplishment. At least it did for me, anyway.

Daily cleaning checklistI was so inspired by it, in fact, that I turned it into another project: I made a cleaning checklist, because I needed something to do, and because checklists make me feel like I have a semblance of control over something, and because maybe you might possibly feel that same way, too.

Daily cleaning checklist (click to download the PDF)

Print a few copies and and give them to your teenage children, who may have outgrown chore charts but who also want to feel helpful, especially right now, even if they make noises to the contrary.

And last, but not least, thinking about control and accomplishment: If you haven’t completed the Five Wishes advanced directive, you can do it now for free. A dark thought, I know. But if your experience is anything like mine, completing this document (and actually following the process as described) might actually relieve a burden you didn’t realize you were carrying.

Wishing everyone well, in every way.

P.S. No, actually the last thing ought to be that post from The Bitchin’ Sisters. It really is funny, even if you don’t have kids at home. If you haven’t had a good laugh in a few weeks, you might be surprised by how much you need it.




  1. I am crying over the Bitchin’ Sisters post…hysterical! As always, love reading your Jenny’s Lark. Stay healthy.❤️

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  2. Maybe you’ve already devoured it but, if not, please stop whatever you’re doing and discover Brian Doyle‘s One Long River of Song. The essays are 1–3 or 4 pp long. I am restricting myself to maybe 10 pages a day because I don’t want it to end. Ever. I unexpectedly find I’m crying over every third or fourth essay. Margaret Renkl’s Times’ book review is borderline embarrassing: she gushes, absolutely gushes (in the Times!). From everything I’ve read about him, he must’ve been a very, very special person indeed.

    You’re welcome, very welcome.

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