Ritual of Spring?
Tales From the Voting Booth

It's Monday!

Time to . . . 



"Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat."
    --- Laura Ingalls Wilder


We had a glorious weekend here -- windy, but warm(ish).  Perfect for long walks -- and even a little time in my garden.  (Although I know it's way too early to do anything substantial, I did cut back a few things.)  (It felt GREAT.)

I hope you were able to get outside for a bit . . . in your corner of the world.



The Women's Prize for Fiction long list was announced last week.  Did you catch it?  I tend to put my to-read lists together each year based on a few of the prize lists:  the Man-Booker, the National Book Award, and this one -- the Women's Prize.  16 new titles to add to your to-read list!  I've read 4 so far . . . and can't wait to dive into the rest.


Ever wondered why hardback books are published before paperback books?  Here's the answer.  (And it turns out . . . it's pretty much what you figured.)



Let's talk COVID-19 for a few minutes.  These are scary times, my friends, but we can remain calm and arm ourselves with information.  (I think the most frightening thing is how unprepared we are - as a country - for something like a pandemic.  Which, to me, makes it even more important that we learn what we can and prepare ourselves, our families, and our communities for whatever comes our way.)

Here are a few things I read and found helpful this weekend:

We're all aware by now that washing our hands is the best defense against diseases like COVID-19.  But do you know how to properly wash your hands?  Here's a detailed hand washing how-to from the CDC.

And here's the low-down (also from the CDC) on when and how to use hand sanitizer.

Of course, if the shops in your community are anything like mine, you can't find hand santizer anymore.  There are lots of D-I-Y recipes for making your own . . . but . . . beware of your ingredients.  Not all "alcohols" are strong enough to be effective!  You need at least 60% alcohol (90%+ is preferable) -- and vodka won't do it.  Here's a hand-sanitizer recipe that will work -- but it's really best if you wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.

Wondering about disinfecting your phone?  Here's the scoop from Wirecutter.

Stocking up for a potential quarantine or "self-isolation" and wondering what to keep on hand?  Here's a list (also from Wirecutter).

And if you're tired of singing "Happy Birthday" while washing your hands, here's a Twitter feed with alternative song choruses you can sing instead.  (I switched to singing "Landslide" last week when Erin shared this feed with me.)

And, lastly, and probably most importantly . . . remember that the coronavirus will impact poor and vulnerable populations much more than those of us with access to health care, support systems, jobs we CAN work remotely from, and the ability to stock up ahead of a crisis.  What can we do - as individuals - to help vulnerable people in our communities?

  • Shop responsibly.  Don't panic-buy or overbuy supplies.  That only jacks up prices and makes it even harder for people on limited incomes to buy the supplies they need.  (And if you DID overbuy, think about what you really need -- and donate your "extras" to local food banks.)
  • Speaking of food banks . . . Now is the time to donate!  Not everyone has the resources to "stock up" and have food items on hand for "self-isolating" or staying home when sick.  
  • Seek out local charities who are poised to help people in need during a crisis and support them -- with donations or your time.  Find out what's happening in your community to help vulnerable populations.
  • Look out for your community.  Check on your elderly and disabled neighbors.  Know what to do in an emergency.  Stay informed.


That's it for me this Monday.  Here's hoping we all have a good - and healthy - week.



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Thank you for the reminder of the Women's Prize for Fiction long list! I have read 2, and will be "growing my read-list" a bit more today!

And, yes... wash your hands people! (and stay home if you don't feel well!)


You've provided us with lots of useful information (especially the alternative song choruses). Thanks! My neighbor in MD was sitting on his porch yesterday and offered me a v&t. I declined and he said that was probably good as he needed to make hand sanitizer with the remaining vodka. I told him he was better off drinking it and will share the hand sanitizer recipe with him (and maybe the ingredients if they aren't out of stock). Here's to washing your hands and staying healthy!


SO much useful information in this post! Thank you for taking the time to curate a list of responsible things we can do right now. Dale did some raking and things are coming alive in my garden - hooray!


Yes, so much great info here Kym - thanks! Our son said Costco and Target were out of paper towels and toilet paper, but the stores by me are well stocked. One grocery store looked like there had been a run on bottled water, but we don't use that anyway. Definitely spring-like weather here in the East!

Carolyn Seymour Thomas

What a helpful post---I read it twice :) (Love the Mona Lisa, BTW!!) What a brilliant suggestion--donating supplies you may have overbought. While we haven't overbought, we may have underbought, I'm afraid, because now I can't even get the regular ingredients for my DIY countertop cleaner. (Which, of course, I used the last of this morning. Time for good old-fashioned soap & water & elbow grease.)

Carolyn Seymour Thomas

P.S. I always appreciate your staying on top of the major book prizes. You're my prompt!!


The list of great books grows this year and I can't read as fast as I would like (and I like to read slowly when a book is good, anyway). It's been warmer here, windy, oh my windy, and cloudy (but not dreary). The moon was amazing last night and it will be full tonight. I hope the clouds cooperate! One thing that isn't sold out at the grocery is soap (of any sort). The problem is no one knows how long this virus is going to keep us "stocking up". The last thing I want to do is stalk TP!


Great PSAs Kym - thank you! Hope this doesn't impact y'all's primary tomorrow!


Thank-you for all of this Kym! The only thing I'm going to add to my stash is extra sugar and flour and yeast! If I get quarantined I'm going to be an excellent bread baker by the end of it! :-)


Thanks for the excellent links and suggestions to help those who are less fortunate. Now to check out the book list!


I wasn't aware of the Women's Prize for Fiction, but it looks like a good list! I've read two of them so far, and I'm sure I'll read at least a few more.

Your reminders for dealing with this pandemic are very wise and very useful. I really don't understand the run on hand sanitizer. Since when was it so hard for people to wash their hands? I'll admit that we bought a little extra food this weekend to make sure that our pantry is well stocked, but I'm not panicking. As you noted, I can work from home if I need to, I'm in relatively good health, and I have good health care. I'm more worried about people who aren't as well off.

kathy b

Thank you! Really good thoughts on how to help one another now. Yes I must help stock the local food pantry. My poor neighbor has had so many hospitalizations in his life, he is terrified of the virus. I don't blame him one bit. We are lucky to be home at this time. The barn is co incidentally off session starting now for the usual 3 weeks. This is very good as our students would succumb easily to the virus . Lets all help one another and hang in there!

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