Things to Do During the Pandemic
Note: Links to resources are underlined.
Use Your Library - Don’t forget the library’s Curbside pick-up, and if your library doesn’t offer it, suggest it. People need access to books, ebooks and magazines, audiobooks, videos, and other resources during this time. Learn a language, travel the world, meet the most interesting people— all from the comfort of your home. Our library also leaves a cart of free books outside the library to go through and help ourselves. Do your brain a favor - READ!
Start a Virtual Book Club - Talk your reader friends into reading the same book(s) or research certain topics and discuss them weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Check out print or e-books from libraries or find used books at a these places to start.
Go Camping - We are fortunate to have a handful of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) parks within 30 miles of us, which include 3 around Granger Lake (Willis Park, Wilson H. Fox, & Taylor) and 4 around Lake Georgetown (Cedar Breaks, Russell, Jim Hogg, and Tejas Parks). The fee for a travel trailer is $26 a night, but if you have a Seniors park pass, it’s half price. That’s an inexpensive price for a getaway trip. The campsites are plenty far apart for physical distancing, unlike RV parks.
If you want to find USACE parks in your area around the country, check out: https://www.usace.army.mil and click on “Locations” in the menu bar.
Every state has its state parks, so find the ones nearest you. Texas has 51 state parks! My community is within an hour of several beautiful state parks that are worth checking out. Fishing is also a fun pastime for many.
If you plan to visit any park, check their website for the latest information on closures during this time before you set out, though.
Go Hiking - Early in the morning or late in the evening are the safest times to hike during this heat. My community, like many, has a nice hike and bike trail that traverses the town, linking the public parks alongside a creek and ponds that run through town. Area state and USACE parks are great for day hikes, too. Take a light-weight walking stick to help keep your balance and ninja fight off unfriendly animals.
Do Home Repairs - Make a list of home repairs and work through it. Since the pandemic began, my dad and I have built portable fence panels for camping, although we’ve used them more for fence and deck projects to keep the dogs away from the work areas; we’ve rebuilt our back deck ramp; repainted the deck and rails; rebuilt and repainted the decorative fence at one end of our patio; leveled a corner of the patio’s pavers; and more. If you don’t know how to do something, there’s probably a YouTube video that will show you what to do. Tackle that deep cleaning project you’ve been talking about doing. Declutter and clean out closets and drawers.
Start a New Hobby or Craft - I can’t imagine going through a pandemic without access to the Internet. You can learn most anything from online video instructions. Learn to quilt, crochet, knit, do woodworking, sew, paint, paint by number, sing, learn to play an instrument, research your family history, write your family’s story, work puzzles, garden, take up photography, sketch, build models, organize your photos, learn origami, start collect or organizing your collections, and so much more!
Communicate - Write a letter or call a friend in a nursing home, assisted living, etc. or even your family and friends you miss so much. Letter writing has become a lost art, and to receive a letter in the mail is such a treasure. If you don’t write, make some phone calls and let folks know you’re thinking about them. This is such an emotionally difficult time for most everyone, even the introverts, so any kind of encouragement in any form would be helpful.
Write Your Senators & Representatives - Do you want your voice to be heard? Are there some issues that concern you that the government could do something about? Do you want to help change things for the better? Then write your elected government leaders and express your opinion. Do you have some ideas and solutions to current problems? Let them know.
Play Games - online with others, if that’s safer for you. Or play with those that are safe to be around. Some of our favorite games are Words with Friends, Mexican Train, regular dominos, 20 Questions, I Spy (with the grandkids), Canasta, Nertz, all kinds of board games and more. Rules for most any games can be found online.
Plan Your Menus & Cook Some New Dishes - Are you stuck in a rut making the same ol’ things? Pull out the cookbooks or research online to come up with some new menu ideas and recipes. Eat more nutritious foods. Come out the other end of the pandemic in your healthiest condition possible.
Get in Shape - Again, use the unlimited virtual resources at your fingertips to access yoga, Zumba, dancing, high stepping, whatever kind of exercise or movement that will get your muscles moving and blood pumping. Your body will thank you for it years from now. And if you don’t have access to the Internet, keep moving and doing some kind of physical activity throughout the day.
Update Your Will - or write a will if you don’t have one. Type or write your financial information (wills, bank & savings accounts, insurance policies, etc.) and send copies to your heirs so they know how to access financial resources later. One of m friends is in the process of updating her will after 35 years.
Participate in a Progressive Story - write a paragraph or page of a story, beginning with a prompt like, “It was a dark and stormy night,” or something of the sort and send it to friends and family with instructions to continue the story. My extended family members and I did this some years back, and I figured I had an unfair advantage since I had been writing longer. But I quickly learned we had some excellent writers in the family that put my feeble efforts in the shade, but the only difference between them and me was that they didn’t want to keep writing, and I did.
Cut your hair or try a new style or color whether your salon is open or still closed. What better time than this to take a risk on a new style or color when so many are self-quarantined at home? I go to the beauty shop only once or twice a year, and I cut my own bangs and hair in-between times (and it usually looks like it-- ha!). I usually grab someone to cut the back part for me.
Check on Your Neighbors - How well do you know your neighbors? Are they doing okay during this pandemic? Leave a note with your contact information if you haven’t seen them lately, or contact them through email or social media to check on them. One of my sweet neighbors left on our porch jars of canned preserves, salsa, and pickles she made from her garden. Another neighbor brings us samples of the wonderful dishes she’s cooked. I made them green chili chicken enchiladas in return.
Barbecue or Cook Outdoors- There are some wonderful cooks in my neighborhood because I smell their barbecuing efforts regularly.
Day Trips or Short Drives - Just taking a ‘Sunday drive’ on a beautiful country road any day of the week can lift one’s spirits. Two friends and I visited the “Painted Churches of Texas,” one day, and the trip was most enjoyable. Texas has several shows that showcase some wonderful opportunities for road trips: The Day Tripper and The Texas Bucket List that are worth checking out for ideas. I'm sure other states have websites or other sources that profile communities, businesses, natural resources, and more in your area.
Visit Old Cemeteries or Historical Markers - I've even taken students on field trips to cemeteries and historical markers after we studied our local history. Cemeteries aren't scary anymore when children realize it's full of loved ones and the people who came before.
Charitable Giving or Volunteering - Nonprofits and charities continue to need help during this time, and many organizations are stretched to their limits with all of the needs the pandemic is creating. If the pandemic hasn’t impacted you financially and you haven’t spent your government incentive check yet, consider helping out a nonprofit with it. You can also find out if there are there are ways to volunteer safely or from a distance, too.
Come up with New Ideas to Help People Get Through the Pandemic - When times get tough, people get creative. I saw a wonderful idea on the evening news where someone recreated famous album covers using people in a nursing home as the models. Wow! That's such a fun idea! Picking up the tab for the meals of first responders and others on the front lines is another way to express our thanks. I’ve seen encouraging yard signs and sidewalk art thanking teachers, those in the medical profession, and more, as well as showing support for various causes. Put encouraging notes in your windows, and more.
Donna Van Cleve
Library Elves by Vanessa Roeder
Darla & Yvonne hiking among the Hoodoos in Writings on Stone
Provincial Park in Canada
Playing Mexican Train on a camping trip with my grandsons
I'm finding time to quilt!