Pandemic Projects

For the last few years, I’ve worked from home. Many’s the project I could have tackled during those halcyon days of Before Times, but I avoided tasks like cleaning out junk drawers (yes, plural) like they could give me, well, coronavirus.

But put me under pandemic house arrest and suddenly I’m a whirlwind of productive activity. I’ve documented my triumph over mismatched plastic containers on Facebook, and am proud to say that I inspired several friends to do likewise. Here are some chores I’ve undertaken that I have yet to share with the world…

1. I CLEANED A COUPLE OF DRAWERS. No joke, this is an “After” picture. You should have seen what it looked like before. Not only did I toss out ancient makeup, I found my favorite voodoo doll. And yes, when you have at least five voodoo dolls, you have a favorite. (Hey look, it’s Mary Feliz’s fab swag!)


2. I MADE SIGNS YELLING AT MY NEIGHBORS. We live down the block from a fire road that leads to a Santa Monica Conservancy trail – both of which were closed by order of the state. But what’s the point of police tape if some selfish, mask-hating citizen can’t duck under it or push it aside? The handwritten note attached to my second sign is from someone who lives in the “flats” (we’re in the “hills”) letting me know that he jogs the trail every morning and has no intention of stopping. I’ll spare you the note I put up in response to his.

3. I’VE DONE ARTS AND CRAFTS. It began with a cutesy sign for our doggy’s favorite sunny spot. Then I transitioned to making my very own mask from paper towel and a cut-up pair of pantyhose, instructions courtesy of fellow Guppy Susan Bickford. (Hope I got it right, Susan! I kind of look like I’m wearing a diaper on my face.) Since my husband now has to work from home, we’re sharing an office, which has lead to the creation of Outside Office. Unfortunately, glare is a problem. Friend Laurie Sheehan shared a link to a little tent she uses when she brings her laptop outside. Since we still have two more years of college tuition ahead of us, I decided to make my own computer sun shade. You see? Thanks to whoever shared this oh-so-crafty suggestion!


4. I’VE GONE THROUGH FIVE YEARS OF SCREENERS. As a member of the Writers Guild of America, I’m flooded with “For Your Consideration” screeners every year. I have boxes of them, watched and unwatched. Because I never bother to go through them, they’ve overtaken the den. I know, I know. Talk about a high-class problem. Again, like with the junk drawers, I’ve had years to deal with this. But it took a flipping pandemic to get me to go through 2013-2019. Since we’re supposed to break them all in half and recycle them, tackling the ten years prior to 2013 is on hold until we dispose of my first round of sorting.


5. I’VE WEEDED. I hate gardening. HATE it. We filled our front yard with native, drought-resistant plants and have enjoyed the accolades that come from people who see us as earth-loving, environment-protecting pioneers. But honestly, we did it because the landscapers told us that once the plants established themselves, we wouldn’t have to do a thing. Sounds good to me! Unfortunately, the rains of winter always bring a crop of a goddawful weed known as foxtails. Since our Covid house arrest, I’ve been on my knees weeding madly because once the stuff dries up, it’s deadly painful. In the Before Times, I usually found an excuse not to do this, even when I had the time. So why I am suddenly breaking my back and knees to pull out these suckers for hours at a time? I. Don’t. KNOW.


6. I’VE PUT OTHER PEOPLE’S SWAG TO USE. Our guest room is currently filled to the brim with the swag I was planning to distribute at cancelled cons. But during my one day at Left Coast Crime, I happened to pick up this handy dandy piece of Daryl Wood Gerber swag. Instead of letting it collect dust under one of the piles of my own swag, I put it to use making a list of books that I forgot I had on my Kindle. I’ve even been crossing them out as I read them. Who does this? Me??? I guess so!


I’m re-reading this post to see if I’ve mentioned anything that I couldn’t have accomplished in the Before Times. Except for the signs pandemic-shaming my neighbors, the answer is no. Every single one of the other activities is something I can and will continue in the After Times, now that I’m on a roll.

Or… I’ll just wait for the next pandemic.

Readers, what tasks have you accomplished during your #safeathome days?

54 thoughts on “Pandemic Projects

  1. Great post. I’ll be waiting to see your jogger feud documentary a la Tiger King. Kidding! Thank for the glimpse and inspiration… I have my own share of drawers to clean.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I am slowly going through drawers and shelves myself. I live in a townhouse with 2 others. Who seem to think every square inch belongs to them. And of course I am not allowed to touch their stuff.
    I have pretty bookshelves filled to the brim, but I’m not allowed to use any of them. Even though I built them years ago. So I am going through my boxes of books to give to the library. I do it about once a year, but it’s time to pare down early. And when I find new writers, currently purchasing on my kindle app.
    I spent the weekend organizing my writing desk. It was a dump all for everyone to use. And tonight I make my mood board for my first manuscript that I need to be editing. Then I will have no excuse to put it off. Except to figure out what the heck diabolical is, so I can write a shirt for a contest.
    Next cleanup will be the desk I have to use for work. I need that organized so it looks official, for when the boss comes to check. It’s bad enough I don’t have a secure area, but I have to at least make it business like.
    I am trying to buy things to help the economy a bit. More than normal, because I am a fortunate one who still has a job that I can do at home.
    I plan on getting off my computer, and start watching my dvds I have on cooking. I’ve had them for years, but have yet to crack them open. Maybe I will be inspired to make something I’ve never tried before, or do the chefy thing and create something out of nothing.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Great post, Ellen! Like Liz said, I feel like a slacker. The only time I do stuff like clean out drawers and reorganize the linen closet is when I’m desperate to avoid writing! BTW, you look adorable in your mask!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’ve been reading more. And rewatching movies I’ve been wanting to rewatch. But there are so many more I’d like to rewatch. Not a productive project at all. And, considering I’m being overrun by books and ornaments, I should do some sorting. But that sounds so much like, well, work.

    Sorry, but this accountant has to point out that you should tackle learning to count next. 😉

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Wow, Ellen, you have certainly been a busy bee (or chick)!

    My excuse at not doing a lot has been that I have been sick (with COVID-19) for over 6 weeks. But even during the worst weeks, I always BAKED.

    Made my own sourdough starter for the first time…check.
    Baked multiple loaves of sourdough bread, and other sweet goodies with the sourdough discard (brownies, scones, pancakes)…check

    And I usually clean out/swap my winter clothes for spring/summer gear and donate the unwanted clothes to Goodwill, but that’s a no-go this year. Sadly, I still need the winter clothes in mid-May. I am still wearing wool, fleece, hat/gloves, my light winter coat and thermal pants. We had snow flurries, sleet and windchills this weekend. And record-cold temperatures are forecasted this week.

    Usually I am NOT crafty at all…no sewing, knitting etc. But I did watch you make those earrings online a few weeks ago and that looked easy! Maybe I could try to make my own jewelry pieces some day.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Thanks, Kathy. I am definitely much better and got clearance this weekend to go outside for the first time since March 17. Just hoping that spring will come here soon.

        Lucky you that you got some sourdough starter. Good luck with the baking…there’s nothing like eating freshly baked bread!!

        Liked by 4 people

  6. What a list, Ellen! I wish I were so productive.

    I’ve been waiting for time to catch up on projects around the house, and now that I have oodles of it, I’m like, “Yeah, that wasn’t the reason.” I’m basically a meme!

    I *have* been doing yard work, so there is that! Now to get busy on the rest of the to-dos…

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I’ve been doing lots of gardening and house-cleaning, but it’s not Covid-19 related. Since Robin and I return to Santa Cruz from Hilo this coming Thursday (which return was delayed a month because of the virus), we’re simply preparing the house here for the six months we’ll be gone.

    But when I do return to CA, my plan (after putting in a summer vegetable garden) is to tackle my boxes of old photos and negatives and organize them. Ugh. Or maybe not…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Best wishes on the trip back to Santa Cruz, Leslie!

      I also found some old photos from the 1990s. Some were from my first European vacation with my mom, and other trips.

      One BIG project would be to scan those photos and then make a travel scrapbook from those trips. I used to make elaborate travel scrapbooks in the 1980s but stopped doing so when I started taking digital photos.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I have become the self-anointed scone queen of VA. And discovered how easy it is to make clotted cream at home. I did actually throw out a whole bunch of ancient account statements of various types without shredding them. Because even a pandemic wasn’t going to get me to ever do that!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Okay, I had to laugh at this. Not cause what you said, but cause what I read. I read snow queen. And I’m in va. So I was wondering if I’d missed a snow fall! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ellen,
    So glad you’re putting your house arrest time to good use. I continue to refuse to use this time to straighten up drawers, weed out clothes I no longer wear from my closets, or organize the pileup of books in various rooms unless I want to read one.

    Also, to me, you are still Queen of Swag.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Egads. Nothing much has changed during my lockdown. I’ve worked at home since, like …. 1990 or so. The only thing I’ve had to do was set up some semblance of a household cleaning schedule since our housecleaners can’t come. Of course, that didn’t happen until I was afraid we’d catch something other than the coronavirus. (Yes, woe is me and my first world problems.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Becky. Still waiting for spring…tonight’s low is 22F (-5C) and tomorrow’s high is 48F (9C), so I am still wearing wool and fleece, hat and gloves.


  11. Loved the post, Ellen! I am not organizing much of anything now, because I tried last year. Marie Kondo’d the linen closet and a couple of drawers after watching all her TV shows and then became exhausted. Also, it’s depressing looking at my closets and all those unworn clothes intended for events that have been canceled/postponed this year, family and conference wise. They make me sad, so I keep the doors closed–out of sight, out of mind! Also, here in NH it is raining and cold and windy, so no guilt over yard work for me, yay!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lisa, I had to stop everything because there’s nowhere to unload stuff. Goodwill and all its kind are closed. And I so agree that looking at clothes destined for cons is deeee-pressing. However, I decided to be an optimist and buy a new dress for next year’s cons! Now if I could just follow through with one of my other pandemic goals – losing the weight I swore I was going to lose five years ago!


  12. So impressive, Ellen! Applause for all of your project accomplishments!!

    I haven’t had time to do any new projects, but I did something stupid: I dragged a bunch of boxes out of one room into the space where I work, thinking I’d clear them out the next day and both rooms would benefit…but they’ve been sitting here for weeks now.

    So basically, I made some new clutter. Does that count?

    (And oh, how I wish I could be on the recipient list For Your Consideration.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha!! Our house is littered with the boxes from my ventures. It looks like we’re packing to move!

      And I’d send you our expired screeners, but I’m afraid the studios would hunt me down.


  13. Wow, you’ve done a lot, Ellen!

    I’ve always wanted to make a sun shade for my camera–then all those crazy blurry shots because I couldn’t see a thing would wonderfully go away. I do have a nice COVID cloth mask now…which my crafty daughter made for me (thank you, YouTube!). And I wish I had those “For Your Consideration” screeners…I miss the movies. But I don’t think I’m ready to tackle my junk drawer–besides, what would I call it when I was done? The “clean” drawer?


  14. Well, I thought about organizing and decluttering the laundry room, but then the washer went kerflooey, made big wet mess, and ruined lots of stuff. So, out with the organizing and in with the toss out. Still a lot of work, though. Then I had plans to wipe down the deck railings and stain the deck. My part in that work detail went out the window when the stimulus check came in. Since it was outside work, we got a recommendation for a crew of young, disabled veterans. It was nice to see somebody new, even if it was through windows. But my actual pandemic project continues to be writing postcards to the old dears in local nursing homes. Found some cards depicting folksy pictures of America, some arty cards of animals, and others with flowers by different artists. And I wrote a note on each one. Well, printed actually, in BIG letters: “Hello Neighbor! Just a little note to brighten your day. Know that someone is thinking of you. Pam.” The first nursing home has 78 beds, the second has 64. Am researching out a third. Because if I were bed-bound like that, I’d be scared and lonely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Pam – what a wonderful idea! I love that. Our neighborhood council has an Adopt-a-Senior program for the holidays that we participated in. I was wondering about how we do something for them now, at least to keep up their spirits. I’m going to look into this. Thank you for such an inspiring pandemic project!


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