Weekend Reads #98

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While I write my Weekend Reads, Oscar protects the home. I caught this photo as I was finishing up this post, he is in his fierce protector mode, all 15 pounds of him!

When I asked for your feedback on how you want the blog to look during this time, one reader asked me to share how we are socializing while remaining physically apart from anyone outside our household.

My mom lives a block or so away, my sister a half-mile away.  My mom goes on daily walks and most days stops by my house on her way home.  Ther's not a lot of foot traffic in our community; when she sees others on the sidewalk she crosses the street if they don't do it first. We have a chair set up on the edge of our yard for her, it's about ten feet from our front step.  She texts on the way to see if we're home and texts once she arrives so she doesn't come near our house.  It's close enough to AirDrop so we sometimes share photos and videos from our day, but mainly we talk.  When she leaves, we get the mail from the previous day (we leave it overnight so we don't bring anything inside).  We get it wearing a latex glove to open the mailbox and with the glove, we hold a sanitizing wipe.  We wipe down the mailbox, our gate, and the chair my mom sits in.  When we visit my mom or my sister, we bring wipes and hand sanitizer to do the same sort of steps for protection as they too have chairs set up on the edges of their yard ready for impromptu visits.  We bring our own travel mug of coffee or can of sparkling water for a nice social hour.  We wash our hands and change our clothes and wash our hands again when we get home.

My circle of close friends started virtual “happy hour” once a week and virtual Sunday brunch using the teleconferencing technology one of us has for her job. None of us are really drinking, but it's nice to have a scheduled catch-up where we can discuss how we're holding up, how the week has gone, and have plenty of giggles. I've also started scheduled FaceTime calls with other friends and fellow bloggers, even if we didn't see one another a lot in person before this it still feels really good to have that additional connection right now.  I downloaded Google Hangouts on my daughter's tablet (there are settings where only people in your contact list can reach you and various other security settings) so she can video chat with her friends.  Google Hangouts is free and available for your phone or tablet and can also work on a computer. No need for a phone number, if you have a Gmail email address you can reach another with a Gmail account.  The past two weeks, our daughter had virtual piano lessons thanks to FaceTime. Last night she had her first virtual Girl Scout meeting thanks to Zoom.  Zoom is free at a limited capacity, many have paid versions with their jobs that allow for longer sessions.  If virtual get together is new to you and you don't have FaceTime with an iPhone, I recommend downloading Google Hangout and testing it out with another friend who uses Gmail.  This article at Business Insider breaks down how to use it. I find it user friendly and helps us all feel a little more connected during this time! 

How to Help

If like me, you feel helpless during this crisis there are ways you can help from your home and I want to share them.  If you have an organization that can be helped, please share them in the comments and I may feature them in a future issue. 

Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization with a network of 200 member food banks across the country, created the COVID-19 Response Fund to help food banks across the country as they support communities impacted by the pandemic. The $2.65 million fund will enable food banks to secure the resources they need to serve the most vulnerable members of the community during this difficult time. I read this article at The Washington Post that shares how food banks are having an especially hard time since grocery stores don't have surpluses right now due to customers stocking up to shelter in place.  This article from The New York Times illustrates how lower-income families are struggling to put food on the table now more than ever. It is impossible for the Feeding America network to address this pandemic, even with the Response Fund, without additional support. I have made two donations to Feeding America since the beginning of March; it's bad enough people are struggling to stay healthy, as many of us have stocked our pantries with plenty of non-perishables many do not know where their next meal is coming from.  Every dollar donated to Feeding America can provide at least 10 meals to families in need through their network of food banks.  This is an organization where a small donation can make a big impact.

Weekend Reads

Dalgona coffee is the latest Instagram trend.  I haven't tried it, if you haven't and want a recipe without watching 50 Stories from an influencer in her tie-dye loungewear in her white kitchen, I got you, friend. (LA Times)

Rosanna Arquette answers all our questions about Desperately Seeking Susan. (Vulture)

Let free virtual cooking classes from restless chefs entertain you. (City Paper)

15 books about women leading the way on climate change. (Yale Climate Connections)

Fellow Gen Xers rejoice, Pearl Jam is out with a new album! (The Guardian)

I don't know why Dua Lipa's songs have been my soundtrack for the past two weeks.  I wake up with “Don't Start Now” in my head and go to sleep humming, “One Kiss.”  It's why she is my video of the week below, and why I am sharing this piece about how her music can be an escape. (Vox)

I had blue light blocking glasses but I accidentally stepped on them.  When Nordstrom had their 25% off I stocked up on essentials (another Fantasie t-shirt bra, a pair of Zella leggings) and got another pair.  I got these in black (though they say they're “Crystal Teal” and I thought I'd be getting dark green frames).  I look like Iris Apfel and I am not mad about it! Because they're so big they don't block my vision as I'm going from looking at the screen to my keyboard to my notepad to a possible Zoom or FaceTime happening on another screen.  They don't slide down my nose either.  This is my second pair of blue light glasses from The Book Club and I am impressed with the style and design especially for the low price!

What has Fiona Apple been up to? (New Yorker)

I don't want to be morbid, but do you have your affairs in order? Do your parents? My father-in-law passed unexpectedly when I was seven months pregnant. He had no will, no plans.  Luckily, he lead a relatively simple life but it still took over a year and several relatives to take care of everything.  Let this article be your motivation to get things in order for your parents. (Mother Jones)


On Instagram and Facebook, I shared that after finishing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo I was inspired to re-read Valley of the Dolls.  I haven't read it in over a decade.  And I have to say, that book has NOT held up.  I am completely comfortable with dropping a book, and I am dropping this one.  I have started Verity by Colleen Hoover.  A week or two ago, Hoover made her books free on Kindle and I snapped up all of them.  I truly just started this book, like just a few pages the other night before I fell asleep so I can't tell you if it's good or not but several friends and influencers I trust have loved it.  I will keep you posted!

Currently watching… well I am writing this Friday afternoon and tonight Karl and I plan to start watching Making the Cut, the new fashion competition show on Amazon Prime.  I love Tim Gunn and am glad to see him again on the regular.  If you're looking for some silly but not awful reality TV, I recommend The Circle on Netflix.  I just can't do Love Is Blind, I am not the kind who enjoys The Bachelor or Real Housewives franchises, but I really liked The Circle and all the people on it.  It was a pleasant surprise and not at all stressful watching.  As for stressful watching, we're struggling to get through Alias Grace because it just feels too heavy right now.  We started watching Westworld again this week and I just can't… it's nice to look at but I can't stomach violence or futuristic dystopian stuff at this time.  Karl's still into it, but I'm over it completely. It's okay to have your tastes change right now, go with the flow. 

As a family we watched Spies in Disguise and it was enjoyable for all.  Karl and I watched Unicorn Store together several months ago and plan to re-watch it this time with our daughter. 

I haven't listened to any podcasts this week.  I usually listen to them when driving, and I haven't driven in quite a while.  If you have a podcast you love, do share in the comments for I know many are looking for a fresh distraction! 

For Your Entertainment

It's amazing how in just a week or so, music videos feel so much different.  I'd usually just find this video by Dua Lipa entertaining, but now I see how many aspects of it would never ever take place now.  And her NAILS! That being said, the chorus is begging for a parody about sheltering in place. “I would've stayed at home, 'cause I was doing better alone.” It's still a catchy song that will be in your head all weekend!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. What do you mean by Valley of the Dolls did not hold up? Boring? Irrelevant? What? It’s bee a very long time since I read it .

  2. Anything that Neil deGrasse Tyson, “our personal astrophysicist”, does is both entertaining and educational. Laugh while you’re getting a dose of real science at the same time. Especially when things are so depressing and chaotic on earth, it helps to take a step back and take a look at the cosmic perspective. He has many presentations on YouTube.

  3. Microsoft Teams has a feature coming where you can change your background (it’s internal only right now) but the backgrounds look pretty fun. Pixar just released a bunch of backgrounds from their movies (Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Up) see details on their FB or Instagram.

    I loved Unicorn Store…it was a little rough in places, but I liked the ideas in it. And seeing Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson together outside of Captain Marvel was joyful.

  4. I’ve been doing weekly virtual meet ups with two friend groups via Facebook messenger’s video function, so that’s another option if people don’t have access to the various other technologies.

  5. Thanks for the family-friendly recommendations! I’m a big reader and always have a book going. Like you, I’m to the point in life where I stop a book if I’m not enjoying it. I have a great book to recommend: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I highly recommend it! (A young African-American woman works part time as a sitter for a white family in Philadelphia. She’s wrongly accused of kidnapping their 3 yr old late one night & a video was recorded during the incident.. The book deals with the next few months, but not in the way I expected.)

    Last year I started keeping a list in my Notes app of all the books I’d read each month, along with a little summary. It’s a good way for me to keep up with what I’ve read & also helps me recommend good reads to others. Just a fun little thing for myself, mostly. During this time, I’m also watching Netflix more than usual. For some reason, I can’t handle shows like “This is Us” right now but I love all the good British mysteries: Safe, Hinterland, and. Collateral are some I’m watching now. Happy Weekend!

  6. I loved Verity by Colleen Hoover! Such a great story. I just finished Circe by Madeline Miller and liked the new perspective of women in Greek Mythology she provided. Next read will be Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid.

    Thanks for all the uplifting and informative posts!

  7. My absolute favorite podcast is Judge John Hodgman it’s not New it’s light and wise and so so comforting and entertaining. I listen when cooking or walking to work. Nurse essential

  8. I really like both the “Happy Place” and “How to Fail with Elizabeth Day” podcasts – they talk about learning from failures, and finding ways to be grounded and calm when life is stressful, and I find them both really soothing and inspiring! Especially at the moment! I’ve really enjoyed them even when I haven’t heard of the guest that’s featured each week – they’re all such inspiring people.
    The “My Dad Wrote A Porno” podcast is definitely not kid-friendly but when you just need cheering up it is PERFECT. Impossible not to giggle!
    I am hoping Making the Cut is available on UK Amazon Prime – please report back!

  9. My office has been using Microsoft Teams to hold bi-weekly video meetings. Teams has a cool feature called “blur my background,” which allows you to, well, blur your background so others aren’t distracted/amused by what they see. One of my colleagues, a man in his 70s, joked that he wished for a featured called “blur my face.” Keep the background, blur the individual! No showering or dressing required, LOL!

  10. We just started watching Peaky Blinders. It’s kinda violent, I guess, but it’s captured us for now. And it’s set back in the day, so I can imagine that kind of crazy life is in the past. :-). I’m also watching Cheer off and on, as well as the new Queer Eye (which is the most uplifting of them).

    1. I love this show. It’s raunchy and violent and beautiful. I’m all about a period piece (book, movie, series). The twists and turns of this show are fun.

      1. Considering people look at me weird for needing to have subtitles during American shows & films, I’m glad to see that it’s the same across the pond haha.

  11. My daughter’s troop also had a meeting on Zoom as well . The girls were so happy to see each other !

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