Memorial Day, 2020 Edition

And we thought Mother’s Day was strange.

The days are getting longer, the weather is warming up, and the flowers are blooming.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the official start of the American Summer.

Marked by parades, cookouts, retail sales, the end of school, and the opening of the public pools.

Not this year.  Parades and pools are on ice indefinitely, and school ended abruptly weeks ago.  Cookouts have so many rules—masks, six feet, no touching—that they’re hardly worth the trouble.  Who knew we’d have occupancy limits in our own backyards? 

At least we still have sales.

I think we can officially add “holiday retail sales” to the list of things you can always count on, which previously included only death and taxes.

I like Memorial Day.  I like the summer holiday trio best—Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.  They’re patriotic, they’re celebrated with cookouts and parades and fireworks, and they’re free of all the emotional landmines and family drama that accompany the Big Five—Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Father’s Day, and (as previously discussed in these very electronic pages) Mother’s Day. 

But just like Easter and Mother’s Day, 2020 Memorial Day is going to be different.  (I think we’re all sensing a theme here.)

But perhaps Memorial Day is the holiday best suited for this pandemic.  For as everyone knows and forgets when they’re at their cookout (myself included), Memorial Day is for honoring those in our military who gave their lives for our country.

It’s a solemn holiday at its heart, best illustrated by photos of Arlington Cemetery, the graves dotted with American flags.

It’s a holiday that celebrates patriotism and self-sacrifice, and pays tribute to those who’ve died in service to our safety, our security, and our ideals.

In the time of the coronavirus, so much has been made about the bravery and calm professionalism of the doctors and nurses working in the hardest hit areas.  Some of them have also died protecting their fellow man.

As we approach an inevitable 100,000 American deaths from this disease, tomorrow I plan to take a moment to honor all of those who have died while trying to keep others safe, whether they wore a military uniform or not.

Just this once, I don’t think the soldiers will mind.

The Upstairs Bookcase

My downstairs bookcase

I love to know what people are reading when they think no one’s watching.

When I’m in an airport or on a bus, I’ll pretend to tie my shoe so I can bend over and see the covers of the books people are reading.  I’ll go to the bathroom and take a quick peek over shoulders on my way back. 

Inquiring minds want to know.

Most people are reading something you’d expect, but I’m on the hunt for the person who’s got the guts to go against type.  Just once I want to find a gray-templed business executive in a three piece suit who’s reading Nora Roberts instead of Stephen Covey.

That’s why I’m against e-books.  No snooping possible.

In theory, I should be fascinated by all the recent glimpses of celebrity bookcases.

You know what I’m talking about.  Now that every celebrity, newscaster, and talk show host is Zooming (we can use this as a verb now, right?) from home, we get a look at their home offices.

And their bookcases.

This has prompted a rash of Twitter posters to painstakingly identify blurry titles and newspaper articles analyzing the contents of said shelves.

Cate Blanchett’s downstairs bookcase

Much has been made of the fact that Cate Blanchett owns all twenty volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary.  Kate Middleton has a collection of Penguin Classics (including titles by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, of course) that quite frankly, look like they’ve never been opened, much less read.  Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, has biographies of U.S. presidents by Doris Kearns Goodwin, among other history books. 

Kate and the most downstairs book collection ever

No less than the New York Times ran an article that asked, “What Do Famous People’s Bookshelves Reveal?”

The article begins, “In quarantine, people are inadvertently exposing their reading habits.

Au contraire, New York Times.  There is nothing “inadvertent” about these books.  Every book was carefully selected—or at the very least, undesirables were culled from the shelves—before they turned the cameras on.

They are showing their downstairs bookcase.

I should know, because I have one myself. 

The downstairs bookcase is the one you want guests to see.  Bookworms always peruse each other’s shelves.  The downstairs bookcase is a testament to your literary bonafides, your good taste, your identification papers proving you’re in on the zeitgeist.

No reader is immune to the temptation of bragging in their downstairs bookcase.

Mine has Harry Potter, a hardback Jane Austen anthology Kate Middleton could love, literary novels, some poetry.  All are in pristine condition.  I’ve read them all (only a complete literary poseur would dare showcase books they hadn’t read in their downstairs bookcase).  I enjoy them all.  They’re not just for show.

And yet.

If you want to know the heart and soul of my reading life—of anyone’s— you have to find their upstairs bookcase.  The one that’s tucked away in the office no one else enters.  It doesn’t even have to be a bookcase.  It can be the back of a closet or the bottom drawer of a bedside table.

It’s the place you keep your books with spines cracked from all the re-reading, with coffee rings, and beloved passages marked with stars.  The books you would run into a burning building to save, because while you could buy a new copy, they are irreplaceable.

It’s where you keep the books that are pure pleasure, guilty pleasures if you believe you must feel bad about what you read.  Books you take to bed with you and read until dawn.  Books whose movies you detest because they got the casting and the ending all wrong.  Books that cut so close to the bone they hurt to read.

My upstairs bookcase (one of several) – I promise I didn’t pretty it up for the picture…

To see a downstairs bookcase is to see a person’s reading dressed up for a black-tie wedding—lipstick on, every hair sprayed and pinned into place.

The upstairs bookcase?

That’s your reading life in a cozy bathrobe with nothing on underneath.

So famous people, don’t waste my time with your carefully curated picture-perfect libraries that show me nothing other than how you want me to see you.

Have some guts.

Show me your upstairs bookcase.

Mother’s Day, 2020 Edition

Well, this is a strange Mother’s Day.

Normally the biggest day of the year for restaurants, there will be no champagne brunches this year.  No picnics in the park, no living rooms crowded with grandchildren and cake.

I know this might come as a shock to some, but holidays are not always as joyful as they are portrayed in Hallmark movies.

Holidays are loaded with emotions, not always good.

Everyone has strange Mother’s Days throughout their lives. 

Maybe it’s the first Mother’s Day since your own mother passed away, or maybe you’re away from her for the first time on the holiday.  Or maybe you’re a new mother and today’s the first time you’re the one being celebrated.

Maybe you’re not on good terms with your mother or maybe you never had a mother in any true sense of the word.  Or maybe your mother’s been gone a long time and you wish you could cut this day out of the calendar every year.

So let’s not forget that Mother’s Day is sometimes weird for all of us.

The difference is we’re all having a weird Mother’s Day at exactly the same time.

I know a lot more mothers than I used to, and many of them are my age.

Talk about weird.

If your mother is in your quarantine bubble, you’re probably tired of each other after weeks of enforced togetherness.  Maybe celebrate by letting Mom take a bubble bath or go for a walk all by herself.

If you and your mother are both alive and healthy but unable to see one another, there are plenty of other ways to let her know you love and appreciate her.

If for any reason you’d rather just skip Mother’s Day, I fully endorse pulling the covers up over your head and not coming out until it’s over.

You may want to consider this strategy for the rest of 2020.

If you can swing it.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and all the mothers I know and love.

This is one for this history books.

Mind Reader

These days whenever I need to know something, I do what everyone does.  I fire up my phone or my laptop and consult Google.

I have the answer in seconds.

Which, to be quite honest, I’m not longer stunned by.  It’s an accepted part of modern-day life that one can look up any fact, television clip, or famous photograph in an instant.

Google has the answers.

But I’m still amazed by how often Google knows the question before I even finish asking it.

And not just the easy ones, like this:

Google’s not getting any points from me on that one.  Everyone on planet Earth has googled that at least once in the past eight weeks. 

But Google knows things that are rather specific, like:

Has Google been reading my Golden Age of Hollywood blogs?

Or this:

How did Google know I was looking for a show that’s been off the air for thirteen years?

And Google has definitely been reviewing my skyrocketing Amazon bill:

And how does Google explain this autofill if it hasn’t been using my webcam?

I mean, seriously, Google.  Cats climb trees, curtains, and poles.  But your first thought was that I wanted to search cats climbing on my back?  And you’re telling me you didn’t read my Facebook post this week?

[Side Note:  The life of a writer means that you can spend hours researching, writing, and perfecting a piece, and it will never get 1/100th the amount of likes as a picture of your cat on your back.  This is the way the world is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.]

I feel like I’m forever locked in a game of “Name That Tune.”

Google:  I can name that search in six letters!

Since Google obviously knows everything, they also know I am on to them:

But Google swears they are protecting my privacy, and we all know Google would never lie to us.  So the only logical explanation is:

I don’t even need to click to know the answer is YES!

Google finishes my sentences.  Google always knows exactly what I want.  Google anticipates my every need.

So one question remains:

For once, Google has nothing to say.

Field Trip

Last Wednesday, I opened my basement chest freezer.  I had to reach all the way to the bottom for a package of frozen chicken breasts.

I pulled out the chicken, surveyed the empty freezer, and rejoiced.

I could finally go back to the grocery store.

I’d made myself a rule, you see—I couldn’t shop again until I’d eaten everything in the freezer.  This rule had a dual purpose—to reduce grocery store trips, and to make sure that five years from now I didn’t find a bag of freezer-burned soup that had to be tossed.

I’d spent all last summer cooking and freezing, so now was the time to finish it off.

Finally ate it all…

But I finally made it to the end—gallons of soup, frozen berries, zucchini muffins, chicken stock.  I ate every last bit of it.

And now, after 4 weeks without entering a store, it was time for a field trip.

In 2020 BC (Before Corona), I shopped for groceries every weekend, often with a mid-week trip to supplement my supply of fresh fruits and veggies.  I’d cavalierly drop in for one (one!) item, or leisurely browse the aisles musing over what to make for dinner.  I’d make separate trips to Giant Eagle, Target, and Sam’s Club.  My list was a general guide.  It was the Age of Innocence.

In 2020 AD (After Discovery of the virus), I plan my shopping trips like a Navy Seal on an extraction mission.

I spent days making my list to ensure I wouldn’t forget anything, then categorized all the items together based on store placement—there is no backtracking in 2020 AD.  If I missed it the first time through, I would have to leave it behind.

I chose my time to strike—7:00 am Saturday morning, just as the store was reopening.  It would be maximally (if not fully) stocked, recently sanitized, and uncrowded.

I donned my mask and gloves, and tucked my credit card and list in my back pocket.  I left my phone and purse in the trunk, as I didn’t want to touch either inside the store.

When I entered the produce section, I felt like Dorothy walking into Oz, going from black and white to brilliant technicolor.  There was fresh food everyone—green lettuce, red peppers, mushrooms not from a can!  My old friends bananas and strawberries were there.

I wanted to take them all home with me.  The main mission—which I fear I did not complete—was not to buy more fresh produce than I could eat before it spoiled.

Which is why I’m having a tomato and mushroom salad over butter lettuce for my Sunday breakfast.

I couldn’t be happier.

I missed you, Giant Eagle.  See you next month!

It Doesn’t Have To Be Pretty

corona mask

I’m not a craft person.

I can’t crochet, I’m allergic to knitting.  Pinterest holds no allure for me.

As a kid, I made the requisite macaroni necklaces and glued googly eyes on felt, but it was always clear my talents lie elsewhere.

So why did I spend my Saturday searching my home for fabrics and stretchy bands?

Because of coronavirus, of course, the puppet master of 2020 pulling all our strings.

By the order of Governor Tom Wolf, all Pennsylvanians must wear masks when entering grocery stores.  (I’m pretty sure the actual order lists more than grocery stores, but as that’s the only place I go these days, that’s all I need to know.)

In the pre-coronavirus world, of course, this would be a snap.  I’d log onto Amazon and order a box of surgical masks, or head out to Home Depot and buy as many as I wanted.

But as anyone not in a coma knows, there aren’t enough masks to go around, and nurses, doctors, and essential workers get dibs.

No argument from me.

If I’m honest, I’m not thrilled at the idea of wearing a mask.  I’m not complaining—I know how good I have it right now, and I’m not criticizing the order—it makes sense that if we don’t breathe and sneeze on each other, the disease is much less likely to spread.

But it’s jarring not to see people’s faces.  The masks are a constant slap in the face that life as we know it is over for a while.

Also, it feels defensive.  I like the protective measures that feel like I’m going on the offensive against the virus.

Take cooking, for example.  I’m trying to stretch my grocery store trips out as far apart as possible.  This means using up all the things that have been in my pantry and at the bottom of my freezer for ages.  I’ve gotten creative, learning to make substitutions and cook new things.

Trying to lure to me the store because I’ve run out of bread?  I’ll make my own.  I’m still eating the frozen potato soup I made months ago when I was suckered into buying ten pounds of potatoes buy one get on free.

Take that virus!

Stay home all the time?  I’m reading my way through a huge stack of books and watching classic films.  You’re practically doing me a favor!

And the cleaning, the cleaning is my favorite.  I feel like a gangster pumping my enemy full of lead.

I run around the house spraying Lysol yelling, “Say hello to my little friend, corona!”

But the mask, the mask feels like hiding under the bed.

But I’ll do it, because to not do it is just plain stupid.  And it puts others at risk, and there’s no way I’m doing that.

So Saturday was craft day.

I’m a millennial (albeit it a very old one) so when proposed with a new challenge, I immediately consulted Dr. Google.  And because I’m not crafty, I was immediately intrigued by the “no sewing required” options.

Loathe to cut up any of my t-shirts, as that’s the only thing I wear these days, I opted for using a bandanna.

The video made it seem easy enough—a few folds, tuck in some hair bands, and you’re good to go.

The folding went smoothly.  But the hairbands were too tight against my ears.  Same with rubber bands.  I scoured the house for materials—my yoga headband made it too much like a gag, and a regular headband just straight up didn’t work.

I read some articles suggesting cutting up shoelaces, but I didn’t have any I was willing to sacrifice.

Finally, I pulled out my gift wrapping supplies and found some Christmas ribbon.  The first one I tried was a little too thick, but I hit paydirt with some decorative string I bought at Target last Christmas.

Is it pretty?  Definitely not.

Do I feel silly wearing it?  Obviously.

Does is get the job done?  Yes.

And right now, that’s all that matters.  The job is keeping ourselves and each other safe.

Let’s get it done.

March Madness

Contestants on Big Brother learn of Covid-19

One of the minor covid-19 storylines I’ve been semi-following is the plight of the television show Big Brother Canada 8.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, it’s a reality tv show where sixteen to twenty people are locked into a house for seventy days.  Contestants periodically vote to evict people, until a winner is crowned.

It’s Survivor in a house, with one major difference:  it happens in real time.

In addition to traditional network episodes, the contestants are live-streamed twenty-four hours a day, and viewers can watch their every move on their computers. 

For a few weeks, these contestants were blissfully unaware of covid-19 and the havoc it has wreaked on the world.

It presented an interesting moral quandary I couldn’t stop thinking about, despite the fact that we can’t actually watch Big Brother Canada in the U.S. and so I could only keep up with it through online reports and You Tube videos.  (There is a U.S. version that begins in the summer and thus didn’t run into the covid-19 issue.)

On the one hand, the contestants were as safe—possibly safer—than anyone else.  They are by design quarantined in a house with no contact with the outside world.  (In the show, the host communicates by talking over a loud speaker or on a television screen.  She never enters the house.)

On the other hand, there was something deeply uncomfortable about watching people bickering on a game show while unaware that the world burned around them.

Eventually, Big Brother told them of the crisis and assured them that all their family members were safe.  Big Brother gave them a second update a week later.  And ultimately, Big Brother Canada pulled the plug on the show and sent all the contestants home this week for their safety and the safety of the production crew.

You can find the videos of Big Brother telling the contestants about covid-19 on YouTube, and they are mesmerizing.  We’ve all been trying to process the waterfall of information that has pummeled us in the last five weeks.  Watching the contestants go through the same process over the span of a few minutes in real time is fascinating.

In the video when the contestants are first told, you can practically hear what they’re thinking by the looks on their faces—Is this a big deal?  It must be, of course, or they wouldn’t be telling us.  But is this a big deal, big deal?  Or is this just happening somewhere else?  This isn’t happening to me, right?  This isn’t happening to my family?

Once they were assured that their families are safe, they visibly relaxed.

And how many of us were playing a similar loop of thoughts in our head?

For these contestants, the covid-19 update was just words.  They were wrapped up in the politics of a stressful game of interpersonal relationships.  Their families were fine.  They weren’t seeing empty shelves at grocery stores, or worried politicians on their televisions.

It couldn’t really be that bad, you could see them thinking, if we’re allowed to continue the game.

Five weeks ago, when we were all at work and school, weren’t we thinking the same thing?

In the second update, production gives them more information.  You can see the contestants trying to work out the question we all were—is this a big deal?

And one of the contestants asked, “Are major sports events still taking place?”

The devastating answer from the voice in the sky: “Every major sports league has now been shut down or postponed.”

That got their attention.  It sure got ours, didn’t it?

Weeks ago when the NBA shut down, followed by the NHL and the cancelling of March Madness, we too got our answer.

This is a big deal.

Working From Home

I haven’t gone into my office for three weeks.  It occurs to me that I haven’t gone three weeks without walking inside a corporate office building since June 2003. 

Maybe that’s why it feels a bit strange.

I’m lucky enough to still be working, albeit from home.  And my company is as busy as ever during this crisis.

The best parts of working from home are obvious.  The commute from my bedroom to the kitchen table is a dream.  So is the dress code.  We do Skype calls with the cameras off, so jeans and t-shirts have become my standard uniform.

Three weeks without the hassles of make-up and Lady Clairol don’t quite make up for a global pandemic, but it’s close.

There’s no birthday cake in the breakroom tempting me.

My boss can’t casually stop by my cubicle to remind me to put cover sheets on the TPS reports.

In fact, nobody causally stops by my cubicle.

I don’t even have to sit in a cubicle, that soul-sucking skeleton formerly know as an office.

I don’t have to look at pictures of my coworker’s daughter looking cute.  Or hear the boring details of anyone’s weekend.  No one is loudly smacking their gum while I’m trying to concentrate.

No one bothers me and ignores my I’m really busy body language.

No one steals my lunch out of the fridge.  I heat it up in a sparkling clean microwave instead of one where someone exploded a burrito and slinked away without cleaning it up.  I don’t have to smell anyone’s leftover fish.

I never start a fresh pot of coffee only to come back and find it all gone before I pour a cup.

I don’t have to pretend not to be falling asleep while watching someone diagram our new planning program on a giant white board.

There are no weird smells in my bathroom.

No more pesky coworkers!  I work alone.  I eat lunch alone.  I take a mid-afternoon walk alone.

There’s no one to listen to the boring details of my weekend.  Or to show the picture I took of Blinker looking cute.  No one to surreptitiously roll my eyes at when the boss lectures us—again—on the TPS report cover sheets.

I’ve never gotten more accomplished in a day.

The corporate office, it seems, is hell on productivity. 

And my coworkers are even more annoying than I thought.

I can’t wait to get back.

Soap Slivers

When I was a kid, an old man named Joe Shevick lived next door.  He had to be in his nineties, wrinkled and bent over, but he lived alone and on his own terms.

My Dad used to cut Joe’s grass.  Afterward, Joe and Dad would sit on ancient Adirondack chairs in the yard and survey the freshly-cut lawn.  Sometimes I would go over too, because Joe always gave us Cokes from glass bottles with metal caps that you had to pry off with a bottle opener.

I don’t know where Joe bought those Cokes.  This was the eighties, and by then cans and plastic bottles dominated the grocery store shelves.

For a kid it was a thrill and a novelty to drink from a glass bottle.

Yesterday I thought of old Joe Shevick for the first time in at least twenty-five years.

It was when I picked up a sliver of bar soap.  It was hardly worth saving, and I started to pitch it in the trash and unwrap a new bar.

Joe used to save all his slivers of soap, and he bound them together with rubber bands to mold them into a new bar of soap.

As a kid, I just thought he was an eccentric old man.  But he wasn’t.

Capital “H” History—the kind we read about in books—is a poor teacher.  We consume stories of World War II like they are adventure novels, with Captain American as the big winner.  We study the Holocaust, never believing something like that could happen again.  We say that such-and-such will cause “another Civil War” but we don’t mean we’re going to start bayoneting each other.  We entertain ourselves with movies and novels about pandemics, wrapped in the protective cocoon of modern medicine.

But the Great Depression wasn’t capital “H” History for Joe Shevick.  It was part of his personal history, and personal history is a great teacher.  He learned not to waste anything.

Not even soap slivers.

He learned that the world could turn on a dime, that no one is as safe or as in control as modernity would have us believe.

But I’d like to think that not every lesson Joe learned in the Great Depression was about fear or scarcity.  I like to imagine that he and others uncovered an unexpected resilience in the face of adversity.  He used his wits, his grit, and creativity to make his way through.

I think he learned that he would have enough if he didn’t waste, that he could get by on less than he thought, that he could re-learn the skills of his ancestors if necessary to feed and clothe himself.

That he could take care of himself.  That we could take care of each other.

And that sort of knowledge is a hard-won gift.

Covid-19 is part of our personal history now.  It will leave its mark on us, in ways we don’t yet understand. 

It makes me wonder what we’ll learn from it.

There are things we will not take for granted again.  There are things we will lose and won’t get back again.

The world has a way of smacking us around every so often, reminding us that we’re not in charge, even if we have iPhones, and Amazon Free Delivery, and antibiotics.

And we have a way of standing back up.

We’ve done it before.  We’ll do it now.

If we’re lucky, we’ll gain some hard-won wisdom, along with a few eccentricities of our own.

And fifty years from, some neighborhood kid cutting my grass will wonder why I have eighty rolls of toilet paper and a turn-of-the-century ventilator squirreled away in my basement.

Can’t Talk About Anything Else

Let’s be honest, even when we want to, we can’t talk about anything else. 

The coronavirus has upended everyone’s life in ways both big and small.  For some, it has meant an abrupt job loss with no immediate hope of employment, or a shuttered small business.  For others, it is a health crisis for themselves or a close family member.  For others, it is about carrying on in the face of emergency—the nurses, doctors, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, stock boys, and delivery drivers.

For myself and many others, it’s thus far been—and will hopefully remain—an inconvenience. 

And a lot more time at home.

Every news outlet and magazine has been posting articles about what you should read, watch, and listen to during your self-isolation.  Most of them are content you’ve probably already heard about and have on your list. 

In times of crisis, I gravitate toward stories of resilience.  I want to watch characters triumph over seemingly impossible odds using their wits, courage, and good old-fashioned grit. If there’s a hot cowboy thrown in, all the better.

So if I may, I’d like to offer a few recommendations for your self-isolation period that are a little off the beaten path:

*Mrs. Mike, novel by Benedict and Nancy Freedman (1947)

This thin little book has survived every book purge and Marie Kondo-ing because it brings me joy.  It’s a love story set in the Canadian wilderness.  Don’t let its age fool you—Katharine and Mike have lessons to teach us in this modern time about how communities can come together to survive—and thrive—in hostile conditions. 

*McLeod’s Daughters, TV Series (2001-2009) (available on Netflix)

An Australian TV Series, McLeod’s Daughters is the story of two half-sisters.  After the death of their father, Tess returns to her sister Claire’s Australian cattle ranch.  Tess is a fish-out-of-water and has to adjust to the unforgiving life in the Australian outback.  But with love and persistence, the sisters save the ranch and find their way back to one another.

*Hex Wives, graphic novel by Ben Blacker (2019)

A group of 1950s seeming housewives can never leave their homes.  What better story to read during our current situation?  These stepford wives seem happy enough, until unusual—and supernatural—things start happening.

*Follow the River, novel by James Alexander Thom (1986)

Everyone—and I mean everyone—in my family has read this book.  Set in 1755, it is the story of Mary Ingles, a young wife and mother who is kidnapped by Shawnee Indians.  Follow the River is her unforgettable journey home.  Trust me, if Mary could make it back home, we can kick the coronavirus.

*Half Broke Horses, novel by Jeannette Walls (2010)

Jeannette Walls, author of the excellent memoir The Glass Castle, wrote this story about her grandmother.  Walls calls it a “true-life novel,” as she can’t be sure which legends passed down in the family lore are true and which are tall tales.

No matter.  You’ll fall in love with the unbreakable spirit of Lily Casey Smith, the kind of woman who can kill the pig and fry up the bacon before anyone else is even awake.  Half Broke Horses is filled with stories of living a hard life on the prairie, in a time before experts and You Tube when the only rule was survival.

*Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog, essays by Lisa Scottoline and Francesa Serritella (2009)

This recommendation is a little different.  This is the first book in a series of books written by Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serritella.  Scottoline writes mystery novels, but these books are essays that she and her daughter write about their ordinary life.  They are hilarious and will have you laughing and nodding your head.  There are eight books in total, and I’ve read them all—they’re even better if you listen to the audio versions.  They are the books that inspired this very blog.

So there you have it—plenty of books and shows to get you through.  Before we know it, we’ll be back to taking all the little things we miss now for granted.

Here’s hoping.