The Corona Diaries


– by Mimi Speike

Yeah, we’ve stocked up, but we’re running through our carton fast. Next time my husband ventures forth, he’d better buy two cartons. Or three.

I’ve been home here, working on my story and my art since November 1, when I was laid off. Now I have a new daunting project.

Someone on medium.com showed me how to display my site as it will sort out on a phone, and, damn! It’s a real mess. What a jumble! Things I need displayed are absent. Things I could do without show up. I have to totally rethink it, create a second mobile-friendly site. I guess it had better be my entry point, from which to direct eyes to the full site that I really don’t want to redesign. I am told that sixty to seventy percent of web traffic takes place on a phone-device.

I have created a story-telling site. I have intro material, and seven chapters of Sly, and it’s set up rather like an illustrated book, with art-heavy sidebars (on the background, an additional challenge for a mobile-device), and miscellaneous pull-quote-style comments. I love the way it looks, but it won’t do for a phone. (In my ignorance, I thought the background art would drop away for the phone-display. I was very wrong. I have no smart phone, and I never got around to finding someone who does.

I just created a new phone-dedicated site, and it looks like I have no choice but to use the new edit-tool, that I have avoided on my original site. I have found it super-annoying, but that may be because I haven’t learned how to use it.

The choices I see for building your presentation on the new site–they don’t give you the option of reverting to the old method–will probably better service a mobile site. Who knows about this? Who has a site tailored to phone-display?

I sit here morning to night pounding away at one of my projects. I’ve started four new illustrations. I’m going to give my Robin-Hood-Sly paper doll a Maid-Marian-Sha-Sha, and I have collected material for a Pirate-Sly and his Port-o-Call dock-side wench. Most of the stuff is 72 dpi, pulled off Pinterest, and will need a lot of fixing-up.

I have no problem keeping to home. I haven’t left the house more than three times since November. My husband does the food shopping and I’m happy to let him do it. My company did me a favor laying me off. I got my money out of the 401K only weeks before the dive in the market. My husband is – cautiously – looking for buying opportunities, but it sits in cash at present.

Talk to me! What is everyone else up to? How are you holding up?




37 thoughts on “The Corona Diaries

  1. Writing, editing, playing Fallout 4, neighborhood walk-abouts, checking social media to see how others are doing, oh, and, watched “Pandemic” on Amazon Prime yesterday afternoon.

    Thanks, Mimi. Timely post! Um, any chance we could get a sneak preview of Pirate-Sly’s Port-o-Call dock-side wench?

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I’ve been buried for the past two weeks in developing curriculum and writing tanka (but not at the same time). I’m fortunate to work from home with only an occasional trip to campus. (No trips to campus planned for the foreseeable future now.) I’ve started notes and research for a new novel (very scary, frustrating).

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I use my phone far more than my laptop for internet surfing so I think the work you’re putting into making a mobile-friendly site is good. We started spring cleaning and re-organizing things this weekend. The real trick will be keeping the kids on a schedule (keeping them from hurting each other and/or destroying the house) while school is out!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Like Sara, I use my phone almost exclusively for surfing. So, when I built my own website, I mainly designed it for clarity on phones–minimal. I used a black background with light lettering to make it easy on the eyes and also facilitate reading at night while lying in bed without disturbing your partner. 🙂 I also made sure that the site worked on a traditional computer display (which I rarely use) and a tablet (which I only use for reading or YouTube). As such, my site is dark and sparse, but it works for what I do and I’ve only had positive feedback from it. That being said, I think that someone artistically minded would be highly depressed if their website looked like mine.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. @Mimi: Glad to hear you’re going “great guns” on divers aspects of various Sly-related projects!

    For me: same as it ever was. Continuing to write “in the nooks and crannies of life” whilst struggling to survive paycheck-to-paycheck. Here in Chicago, the schools have been closed and all bars and restaurants shut down for a period of two weeks. Ditto theaters, casinos, sports arenas, public festivals and parades. Exactly how this will play out when (statistically speaking) infections are predicted to exponentially increase over the course of the next month or so no one knows. (Are we headed for a city- or nation-wide quarantine, a la Wuhan, China or Italy? As Mango Mussolini oft intones: “We’ll see what happens.”)

    Liked by 8 people

    • My family has been on the Keto diet for about 4 or 5 years now. The food that we eat is all still plentiful in stores. 🙂 Last Monday, when I saw the writing on the wall here in Pa, I said, “Welp, better go stock up!” After getting my stuff (which was in abundance), I looked at my cart and realized that it looked no different than any other shopping trip. That said, after people run out of food that they usually eat (bread, potatoes, peanut butter), they will, inevitably, begin hoarding whatever they can find, which means that my own food stuffs will be in demand shortly. Still, I won’t hoard. I have a freezer full of meat and we’re one step away from being carnivores, so it probably wouldn’t be much of a stretch to make that leap in an emergency.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Perry Palin says:

    On March 1 my wife flew to Texas to meet our newest grandchild. The airport was busy and the plane was packed. She returned on March 12 in a half-empty plane to a nearly deserted airport.

    We don’t have paying jobs to not go to. I’m happy reading old books and taking naps after lunch. It’s too early in the season for trout fishing or yard work. Two days ago I fed the bees in our little apiary. Yesterday I used the tractor to smooth the muddy ground in front of the horse shed. Today, with dry weather, I will do spring maintenance on our 20 bluebird houses. There a lot of little things I can do at home.

    We live in a low incidence, so far low risk area. Still, some people are hoarding. Fights have broken out at two nearby Walmart stores in the toilet paper aisles. Yesterday I went to the grocery store for supplies. I saw one older shopper in a mask, and one woman in her 40’s with her driving gloves on in the store. The shoppers all kept away from one another. The toilet paper was gone, and bread and peanut butter were in short supply. Those were not on my list.

    We have by my count 19 liters of wine, 15 bottles of beer, and assorted hard liquor on hand. Will it be enough? How long will this plague last?

    Every meeting, conference, and theatrical performance we had on the calendar for the next month has been cancelled. Chances are that the cancellations will be extended into the future. We have a wedding planned in our family for mid-May, and I hope that goes off as planned.

    My wife has an appointment with her hairdresser tomorrow, and our farrier is scheduled for tomorrow morning. The farrier at least can do his work without touching people.

    We are among the lucky ones. We are not likely to have a financial emergency over this virus. I fear especially for some small businesses in our area that rely on regular trade. We have a small family-owned restaurant in our town that we really like, and I’m thinking of buying a good sized gift certificate so the owner will have the use of the money now, and we can use the certificate at a later date. I wish I had thought of that, but I saw it on the internet somewhere.

    Liked by 8 people

    • I, too, am “guaranteed a paycheck” by my contract, so I’m not concerned about loss of income. I do, however, worry a bit about my ability to help others in this crisis. All last week, I made deliveries to families in need. There will come a time when there won’t be enough supplies to make those deliveries. That concerns me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. MamaSquid says:

    I just gave birth to a baby boy on March 10th. We’ve been overwhelmed, to say the least. Because of the pandemic, a lot of the people we had lined up for support have been unable to visit the new baby. That means grandparents, aunts, etc have been banned by our pediatrician from meeting him yet. It’s a nerve-racking time to have an infant, for sure.

    Liked by 9 people

    • Happy birthday to the baby squid! These are troubling times, to be sure! All four of my boys were born between Feb. 21 and April 3, and my own birthday is March 28. Three of four boys were born during snow storms, so I can, in some ways, relate to your predicament. However, mine was short-lived. Yours seems indefinite at the moment. I’ll be praying for you and the welfare of your family in this time. I’ve found a great support network in the writing community. I hope that you find us as supportive in your own time of concern.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Reading, writing, following the news, building LEGO’s Steamboat Willie, designing and constructing a woodland elf outfit for a young woman who is the best man in a Dungeons and Dragon themed wedding. Same old, same old.

    I still go out walking, although today California’s Governor “requested” people 65 and older to remain isolated in their homes. I had the pleasure of lunching with three of my sisters and my best friend at The Brigantine today, but the show I was going to see this Wednesday at the La Jolla Playhouse has been shut down either for good or for the next week or two, whichever proves to be healthiest necessity.

    And I spend even more time than usual washing my hands.

    Liked by 6 people

    • There’s entertainment everywhere, if people know where to look! Glad you’re staying healthy! One of the hats I wear is “chicken farmer,” so I’ve been in the habit of religious hand washing for quite some time now.

      I didn’t know that Lego made a steamboat willie set! I’ll have to look for it! I can’t tell you how often I whistle that tune around the house…. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Total lockdown here. If I want to go out for some indispensable reason, such as getting some food, I need to print and sign a document explaining why – without it, I could be fined.
    Not that this changes my routine that much. Writing and rabbitholing in the morning, running by the river (still allowed to do that), a bit of cooking and gardening. And wondering what to do with the two virus stories in my ideas folder.

    Liked by 6 people

    • @Curtis: Interesting that you make reference to notes for proposed virus stories in your current ideas folder. For myself, I decided to pull my poem “Pandemic” off the upcoming spoken-word album, fearing accusations of tastelessness and/or vulgar opportunism.

      If any of the trusted “old guard” (by which I mean to include Victor, Susan, and/or Liz) wish to see this particular work please write to me privately and I will share this Spectral Realms-targeted poem with you under strict admonition that you do not circulate or reveal the poem’s contents to others. (I know none of you would do this, but such a publicly-posted rider on original content for purposes of workshop review serves to mollify editors who might otherwise consider this content “already published”.)

      And BTW: this is not intended to be some kind of coy come-on; I am responding to Curtis’s rumination re: “Hmm . . . What to do with this virus-related story content now?” I am certain that he is far from the only active writer now asking themselves this question.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I’d love to read your poem, Carl. A good decision to withdraw it, I think. As you say, there were lots of writers with virsu stories before and the number has no doubt shot up now. If mine were finished, I certainly wouldn’t release them now, but I see no reason either to abandon them or to make them more of a priority than they are.


    • I saw in the earlier email thread that you need to print and sign a certificate. What happens to those who don’t have printers? They just can’t go out? In our recent move, I lost my printer (when you’re homeless, a printer is definitely more of an anchor than an asset). I haven’t yet replaced it.

      Any ideas yet on Rabbit Hole Zero? This COULD be zero hour for much of the world, you know. 😉

      I’ve been thinking about writing something that was generated by this pandemic, but not directly related to it. Younger people (younger than I, at least) play something called “The Game,” and when you think about The Game, you lose. When you lose, you have to publicly announce it. I’ve been thinking about writing a story based on that. However, I have ten other stories rattling around in my head, three of which are novellas, so I should just stick to what’s already germinating, I suppose.

      Best wishes to you in your quarantine! Keep healthy and enjoy your runs by the river!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Adam. The certificate can be handwritten for those who don’t have a printer. I just went out for some food the first time in 10 days but though I had my certificate I didn’t see a single policeman.
        RH0 is progressing. Just waiting for the final revision of the final story. Release still planned for June.
        Yes, it’s hard sometimes to prioritise stories when the ideas keep popping up. But my top three of four don’t change, it’s the ones lower down that sometimes protest that they want to be given a bit more attention so as to move up a place or two.


  9. I have had it relatively easy, so far.  Did some shopping on Monday and was spooked by the prevalence of empty shelves but got most of what I came for.  (I’m not hoarding.)  Ate out and later found out that Monday was the last day I could do that.  Should be able to tough it out if I develop symptoms and must stay home for 2 weeks.

    The crocus plants in my yard are blooming nicely.  It’s a consolation to see plants and critters that do their thing w/o fretting about the feckless “leaders” who exacerbated the COVID-19 disaster.

    Liked by 7 people

    • I’ve been reminding all my people: keep calm, don’t panic. I’ve also been reminding them that accurate information is easy to find and updates readily available. There’s no need to spread facebook messages/texts/emails that do nothing but foment fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I offer the following on a note of grim, unflinching, pragmatic positivity: It is important to keep a sense of historical perspective. The Black Death killed 30% – 60% of Europe’s population in the 14th century. By citing this fact I do not mean to make light of, or cavalierly dismiss, our current plague-related challenges (it is certainly not a hoax, folks!), but consider: If you could have teleported one of those terrified, at-risk Middle Age Europeans to our present-day they would no doubt all but sob with relief: “What?! You mean I might not get infected if I stay here? And if I do, the mortality rate is running less than 1% for those under age 60? Do I want to go back? Are you crazy!? I’ll take my chances right here in the early part of the 21st-century, thank you. Praise God–saved!”

    Perspective is everything, isn’t it? Still–wash your hands, practice social distancing, and avoid all groups who seem to be led by a loud-mouth, belligerent alpha-type. (That latter admonition will also serve you well in non-plague years, btw.)

    And, uh . . . rueful observation: Life itself has a 100% mortality rate. Just sayin’, folks.

    On a more dour, misanthropic note: The no-nothing brainstems who were dismissing Covid-19 warnings from the medical community as recently as last week are in many instances the very same group of climate-change-denying, patronizing-swagger-fucksticks who are leading us into the hell of “Half Earth”: a planet so intemperate that in another century or so half of its surface will be all but uninhabitable, the besieged borders of the surviving nations will be overrun by desperate peoples clamoring for refuge, the global economy will be in permanent recession, and diseases untold will ravage a shell-shocked populace clinging to whatever kind of life that may be, given increased air pollution and the decreased nutritive value of food grown from exhausted soil in toxic air.


    In the meantime, please note the demonstration of abnormal psychology playing out in real-time before you in-person and on social media today: I refer to these %$#@!s who pivot from shouting “It’s all a hoax!” to “It’s the damn democrats’/the scheming Chinese/the liberal media’s fault!” with shameless, whiplash-inducing rapidity. These cretins feel no sense of embarrassment or shame about their actions because they are not the forebrain-functioning members of our species; they are the human-fleshed reptiles stalking amongst us in thrall to their IDs: primal, hair-trigger violent, prizing instinct and ignorance over analysis and knowledge. Monstrous egos such as theirs’ cannot face the fact that they were willfully ignorant and wrong, so self-protective mechanisms whip up a scapegoat target upon which they can discharge psychologically unbearable feelings of shame, guilt and confusion: “Hey, I wasn’t wrong–somebody tricked me!”

    As a species we need to get a lot smarter, PDQ. Else nature–in self-defense–will thin the herd.

    Again. . . .

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Great article, Mimi! I basically responded to your website question in my comment above replying to Sara. However, I would just like to encourage you: Keep up the good work! Change is difficult for most and impossible for some. I think that you’re at a crossroad where you need to decide which is more important: getting your work out to the most people, or keeping your work intact and reaching fewer? I don’t think that either are bad or wrong options, just a different vehicle for a journey that you’re already on. I can remember when website became really colorful and graphically pleasing back in the 90’s (before there even were smartphones!). I remember spending hours surfing the web and searching for content and spending most of my time on the most visually stunning websites. They really were pieces of pixelated art. The unfortunate reality of our times is that few people spend hours on any website now. Even those sites that host huge amount of video content don’t get much time. If you have a YouTube channel, check out the analytics. Average time spent here: 6 minutes. Average time spent there: 2 minutes. If people hang out on your site for ten minutes, you’re the equivalent of a James Joyce novel. Really. I’m not saying that we should cater to the masses of ADHD folks who just scroll through feeds, reading only headlines, but I do think that it’s important to offer on our websites something for those people–a flashy graphic or a snippet of jaw-dropping prose. Maybe, but spoon-feeding those viewers some real, nutritious brain food, we might begin the arduous task of nourishing an intellectually starving population. Keep fighting the good fight!

    Liked by 2 people

    • mimispeike says:

      – something for those people–a flashy graphic –

      My idea, yes. I am packing my site with my own (marvelous, if I do say so myself) graphics, and will continue to add to them as I create more.

      I don’t ask you to read, just have a look at my art. I’ve cobbled it all from bits pulled off the web. Some figures are made of seven or eight pieces: the right head on the right body, the perfect right leg paired with the perfect left one, A better arm on a good torso. I’m Dr. Frankenstein building my creatures. Same with the outfits, I mix and match. I do some smushing (crude painting) when I have to. I’m teaching myself to paint in Photoshop.

      This site won’t do for a phone. I’ll redesign it for the small screen. If you can, view it on a full size screen, or skip it until you can. I have a single column redesign in the works. Same art, just less of it. A teaser site for my teaser site.

      My big site: MyGuySly.com

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s