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Three Ways To Jazz Up Quarantine!

I almost didn’t publish this post. Things are a disaster right now. This is not news to anyone. My inner dialogue went like this, “Leana; this is a PANDEMIC, NOBODY, LIKE NOBODY, needs your nonsense right now!” Ya, I thought, she’s right people wil think your one of those idiot celebrities posting #weareallinthistogether while sitting on a chaise lounge worth what my entire house costs! Oh, and what’s that shadow behind the celeb? Oh, it’s, Consuela her undocumented housekeeper still sweaty from vacuuming the driveway. The house is so peaceful because there are three nannies, tending to the celebs one baby in the next room.”

No, I’m sorry, I don’t believe we are all in this together. For some people this is a long, dark nightmare, for others a mere inconvenience.

I decided to write this post after I remembered one of my favorite poems from Jack Gilbert,

WE MUST HAVE THE STUBBORNNESS TO ACCEPT OUR GLADNESS IN THE RUTHLESS FURNACE OF THIS WORLD.

TO MAKE INJUSTICE THE ONLY MEASURE OF OUR ATTENTION IS TO PRAISE THE DEVIL. JB excerpt from A Brief Defense

Well, I’m not about to praise the Devil! Oh no, not on my watch! This middle-aged, Mennonite, Cripples Drudge will turn over every stone looking for any small spark of joy to give the Devil the finger. In fact one of my gifts is helpful in just this situation.

al.che.mist: a person who transform or creates something through a seemingly magical process.

fun: enjoyment, amusement or lighthearted pleasure

Yes, I am an Alchemist of Fun.

I know this sounds ridiculously useless in the face of a highly transmittable deadly virus, but it is what I have to offer. Do not think I have a big head about about it. Lots of people are Alchemists of Fun; a lot of my friends are, birds of a feather, and all that, some are much better at it than me.

To give you a visual or how this all came about I went to my future daughter-in-law, CC. CC can talk to angels. She forgot she could, but once I reminded her, like a thousand times, she finally remembered. She drew a re-enactment of me receiving my gift as told to her by one of the angels. Bless her, she is a pillar of humility, she begged I make the artist anonymous, but I just couldn’t let her gift go unacknowledged!

I apologize profusely world, I will not be working on a vaccine, nursing people back to health, engineering new face masks, or helping banks give out loans. I will be attempting to make your time sheltering in place a little more fun!

  1. First Suggestion:
Yaaaayyyyy, Folklorama!!!!!


You don’t know what Folklorama is????? If you hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, you know all about it. It’s an event that runs for two weeks. Buildings throughout the city are inhabited by ambassadors of countries and cultures and set up as pavilions. You get a fake passport then it get’s stamped at each “country”. The pavilions are designed to reflect the countries style of clothing, music, food, dance, and have imported alcohol from the host country. I personally have butchered many, many different ethnic styles of dancing at various Folklorama pavilions, and had a blast doing it. I even left a shoe at the Ukrainian pavilion in 1987, size ten blue sandal, in case anyone has seen it.

Dennis and I sat down to pick our countries. I let Dennis go ahead of me, I’m nice like that (darn, I bet I could have been a scientist, I just let Toby go ahead of me on the baby gift conveyor belt). Dennis chose Jamaica! We made Jamaican beef patties, rice and peas, and Jamaican rum balls, heavy on the rum, light on the balls. We listened to Reggae music and did the limbo. O.K. I did the Limbo, and I waved the stick over Dennis’ head.

Light, Flaky and Spicy Jamaican Beef Patties

Dennis and I were married in Jamaica, so we had fun laughing, and reminiscing about all our beautiful memories of that spicy, sultry island.

We brought Ziggy the Parrot back from Jamaica with us.

Next up, a night in Ireland. The Emerald Isle calls to me. I have been fortunate enough to visit many countries in Europe but alas, a trip to The Land of Saints and Scholars has eluded me.

For our night in Ireland, I ordered an Irish flat cap, and a Trinity Irish scarf for me.

Looks like the Irish whiskey was magically delicious!
Dennis does indeed have Irish blood in him, the handsome devil!
Daisy agreed to pretend to be a light colored Irish Setter with alopecia

We sipped Irish whiskey, Sarah dug up for us, which by the way is smoooooth. I don’t usually like hard liquor but that stuff tasted like nectar. I made homemade Irish Soda Bread, and honestly the best Shepard’s pie I have ever made. It was like we did have the luck of the Irish with us that evening. Dessert was Bailey’s Irish Cream Ice Cream, yes praise be to the Saints above, such a thing does exist. We watched a travel show to Ireland. I could feel the brisk wind coming off the ocean, hear the hearty laughter at the pub, and see a thousand shades of green everywhere.

And so the sun set on our evening in Ireland. Slainte

Then we hit a philosophical snag. Dennis wanted Alabama to count as a country? He says it has it’s own culture and he would very much like to visit. I countered with Hogwarts, from the Harry Potter books, being a true country in the hearts and minds of millions of readers. We came to an agreement, and Folkorama took a turn into the fantastical.

A Night In Alabama

Knowing what my “ethnic costume” was I began by preparing by applying 3 coats of self-tanner to my chalk white legs. I found my shortest shorts, then rolled them up more. I put on my cowboy boots, I did live in Nashville for two years. I set my hair in hot rollers, put on a full face of makeup, then another coat. I was ready. In body, but not in spirit.

Me, “Dennis, why are you making that stupid face?” Dennis, “I’m pretending I have a pinch of chewing tobacco in” Me, “Stop it, my family will think someone punched you in the face!”

We kicked off the night with a shot of moonshine and pimento cheese on soda crackers while we watched the Dukes of Hazard, it’s worse than you remember. The main meal was brisket, baked beans, coleslaw, wonderbread, and naner puddin’ for dessert. Provided by friends, the Wasko’s and the Morton’s.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking about the outfit, I am 52. One of the bonuses of marrying an older man is his eyesight is going. He sees and airbrushed version of me and he thinks I look amazing in this Hee-Haw Honey get-up, and his opinion is all that counts, of course don’t expect to see me anywhere in public dressed like a day hooker.

Onto somewhere reasonable, Hogwarts!

I have to give Dennis credit here, he totally got into this, even though when I quizzed him about the books he said he knew there was Harry, Dumbledorf and Hermella in the books. Who?

I believe the reason Harry Potter resonated so deeply with children and adults allover the world is that it reminded us we all have magic in us. For real. Magic comes in many forms.

With lightening bolts on our heads, glasses on, wands in hand (actually toilet scrubbers painted black) we entered Hogwarts. We had Butterbeer Jello shots, Hogwarts Dogs, get it Hogs with warts. This was Dennis’ idea, please comment on how clever it was, it’s a lot to ask of a 65 year old to participate in my silliness.

Desert was magical cupcakes with Harry Potter Toppers. I introduced Dennis to Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans, he did not enjoy the vomit, grass or soap flavored ones.

I will say of all our Folklorama nights so far, Hogwarts night got the rowdiest. In the morning, I went to give Dennis his a.m. pills and grabbed the water beside his bed. OOOPPPS, It was vodka and Lemonade. I told him to quit complaining, we are in a pandemic and a lot of people would love a cocktail right now!
Make a little magic while you have the time! Yes, Kyle that’s your grad gown.

Ok, so you have the hang of Folklorama, carry on! There are 195 countries in the world, get creative! Plus, finding out where people would like to go is a window into their soul. I know, what does that say about Dennis?

2. Second suggestion. Some ideas for fun ways to connect with your family. I’m sure everyone would agree, the hardest thing about all of this is being separated from your family. Not the ones your stuck with 24/7, you would kill for just an hour away from those ones. The ones you cannot see. My family is scattered all over. My parents and my brother, and his family are in Wpg, Canada, my sister, and her family is in Victoria, Canada, My son is in Vancouver Canada, and I’m in Woodstock, Georgia.

My sister Carla, provided the first really creative idea. We are big fans of the Best British Baking Competition, and she thought we should do a family virtual baking contest. Everyone from my kids, my parents, to my granddaughter to my niece and nephews have participated.

We just finished our second round, Easter bakes, so far my nieces Kate and Heidi are the ones to beat. However, these adorable babies could serve up their dirty diapers and they would get votes!

Cutest toddler Baker Ever!
I think Ellen should have him on!
#omapride
My nieces are baking wizards!
My Mum couldn’t convince my Dad to get out of his robe.
My Sisters bake from the first round, a cake fit for a coronation. Yes, she did live beside Prince Harry and Meagan Markle for a couple of months, but the rest well. Let’s put it this way, she’s back on her meds and all is well.
We had to really put on a show to distract from the fact that all we did was make lemon tarts with pre-made pastry crust.
Kate and Heidi’s first prize winning creation!
My Son Kyle in Vancouver with Guinness, bunny cupcakes
My baby Panda’s creation!

Also, to try and cheer up my parents, my kids and I all drew pictures of one of our favorite times with them.

On the Wall side of the family their are four girls who are each one year apart. We try and Facetime every Saturday to catch up. We all have cups that say Cousins don’t let Cousins drink alone.

You don’t have to be cousins, it doesn’t have to alcohol! sisters, sweet-tea, parolees, whatever your support team, whatever you drink

3. My last suggestion to make quarantine more fun is to take a Mental Health Day

When my kids were smaller, elementary school and middle school age, I would occasionally pull them out of their class saying they had a Dr’s or Dentist’s appointment or something. Once they were in the car I would yell at them “Mental Health Day” then we would go out for lunch, or go shopping, or just go home and chill.

I suppose I was ahead of my time, because now there is a lot of talk about mental health. Nobody else is responsible for your happiness or mental health but you. So, take charge, and take a mental health day, WITHOUT GUILT. Heavens, why is everyone so plagued with guilt?

As an Alchemist of Fun, because I won biggest ears at YMCA camp when I was 7, and Victor, a friend in my neighborhood, always calls me his favorite Canadian, I have the authority to prescribe you a mental health day when needed. It is yours to spend in whatever way that nourishes you. There are some things you are not allowed to do!

  1. Clean
  2. Organize
  3. Make Lists (sorry Tracey)
  4. Catch up on Work
  5. Anything you don’t want to do
  6. Hangout with anyone you don’t want to
  7. Worry
  8. Errands

These are challenging times. As an Alchemist of Fun, with all the rights and authorities bestowed upon me by that title I am, granting all of my Dibbuns a Mental Health Day as needed.

Should anyone stand in your way of taking this much needed mental health day, just report them to me. This scourge to society will then be the subject of a scathing blog post, complete with pictures. More people read my drivel than you might think!

Givers and Doers are often flabbergasted when faced with a whole day of me time, so here is an example of what taking care of yourself looks like.

  • Have a mimosa, Cafe au lait, pancakes, and fresh fruit. Watch HGTV. Maybe nod off a bit.
  • Face Time my kids with different personas, it’s getting harder and harder to surprise them, but it’s always fun. Sometimes I just call them and Meow at them for a few minutes/
Allo, Amanda? This is your Mother. I have become very bored of everything here so I am moving to Paris, to talk philosophy, paint, and write. What? no this is not a real cigarette! I’m having a mid-life crisis, not losing my mind.
Kyle, Dennis convinced me to have one of the Sunbeams from Rome do my hair, what do you think? I’m conflicted.
Oddddeeeeoooooaaaooooooooo
  • Read.
  • Lunch with best girlfriends.
  • Send out strange messages to friends and family like. “Henceforth, I shall be addressed as Prue,” or “For ethical reasons I have decided to no longer wear pants, I hope you can support my spiritual journey.”
  • Turn off my phone
  • Massage
  • Take a walk in the woods, then a swim in a lake, come home and shower, then watch an episode of Call the Midwife.
  • Write poetry no one should every read.
  • Turn on phone, read any responses. Answer with even stranger comments such as “did you get to read my article in the New York Times on Danny Devito’s love of doll houses,”and “Have you heard? I have moved to Newfoundland to become a fisherman!” Turn off phone
  • Crack open a mid-priced bottle of wine. I really can’t tell the difference between the mid-price and the expensive, but there is a whole lot of love between box and mid-price.
  • Have dinner with my Husband whom I love more every year, and whom is growing frailer every year. I’ll cook, I love it when he reads me the recipe, it’s so cute when he realizes he missed one step that was really important four steps back. Somebody else cleans.
  • Then we go outside with a glass of wine and look at the stars and remember we are,

Lastly, Dennis and I will climb into our life boat. Our life boat is our cozy bed, where the machine is not allowed. Where we feel less disabled. Where we go to sleep holding hands, wishing things could be different, but not really, because that’s what being mentally healthy is. It’s realizing everything is the way it is for a purpose bigger than ourselves, and we are just stars with people names. It’s OK, even when it isn’t.

Now I want to leave you laughing to give the Devil a slap, so here are some of the funnier things I have heard during this time of sheltering in place. Some in my house.

“I have told my husband the CDC said it’s dangerous to have, we might transmit Covid. He will figure it out soon, until then I’m getting sleep”

“I can quarantine with you for months no problem, but SHE has to go!!! (wildly gesturing to Alexa sitting on the counter) I swear she’s gotten stupider since this started.”

“Well shit, now I can’t ignore people at the door, they KNOW I’m home, WE ARE ALL HOME.”

“Did you hear, two tigers got Covid. Let’s get a petition started to pardon Joe Exotic. He can get out jail and take care of them, I mean it’s better than being everyone’s date in the slammer.”

“I heard we were going on lock-down in two days. My mother-in law had already been with us two weeks. I kept her away from the news all day and in evening we watched the Sound of Music. The next day, I had the boys occupying the TV all morning playing video games. I told her we needed to get her home soon because it looked like I was going to be called into work. I played praise music the whole drive to her town. She called me on the way home and told me, “Oh my goodness, we have to shelter in place starting tomorrow! If we had known that I would have just stayed at your place, how on earth did we miss that!” “I know Jesus forgives me, He talks to her everyday too.”

“I told my teenagers to go outside, we locked them out and told them we would unlock the doors in a few hours. The police didn’t bring them back, and they didn’t seem mad, so I think we will do it again.

My personal favorite, “Oh, don’t answer my mom’s calls after 9, she’ll have been drinkin'”

Take Care, and no we are not all in this together, but we are all human together so be the best human you can be right now!

11 thoughts on “Three Ways To Jazz Up Quarantine!”

  1. As always, you knocked it out of the park, Leana! I want to be in your family with all your creativity, but it would never work if I can’t write lists 😄
    Keep writing & making us smile, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!! Great pictures too! BTW….I totally get the Alabama thing. Most definitely another country, that he has an illogical affinity for. I still submit that the greatest thing to ever come out of Alabama is I-20 East.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed your very imaginative, creative post. You are so talented, actually gifted, and inspiring at the same time.
    Take one of your mental breaks now . You brightened our day! Martha

    Like

  4. Thank you Leana for your delightful, imaginative, inspiring post during this pandemic. You, Dennis and family shine! Do you need a ‘ mental day’ or week after this productive work? 💌Martha

    Like

  5. Oh, how I adore you! Your wit and humor are just the icing on the cake of your love and compassion for others. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, ideas and outlook on life … all of these make me want to be a better person! Love and respect!

    PS … Dennis, you “done good” going along with all of the visits to other countries, especially Alabama! 😂😂

    Like

  6. Oh Leana!
    How I loved this! You are beautiful & Dennis is exceptionally a handsome Irishman!
    Thank you again for watching out for my Sarah Rose & Panda!
    Love, Trish

    Like

  7. Oh my goodness, I laughed, I smiled and I even shed a tear! You are a wonderful writer with so much wit, humor and genuineness! You and Dennis are the salt of the earth! We are thankful to have you in our ‘hood! Suzette

    Like

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