Jilly: The Urge to Hibernate

Is your productivity affected by the change in season?

We’re only a few weeks past the equinox, but to me it feels like winter is here already. The days are dark, gloomy, rainy, and cold. The covid figures are getting worse again. Social media seems to think we’re headed for another bout of heavy restrictions if not a full lockdown, and they’re probably right 😦 .

I’ll be thrilled to see the end of 2020, but the downside is I have a long list of things I want to finish before 31 December. Publish The Seeds of Exile, make The Pulse of Princes available for free download, write at least the first act of The Seeds of Destiny. Submit my taxes and deal with a boatload of other grim-but-necessary administrative chores.

I’ll get them done, because I hate, hate, hate to start the new year dealing with unfinished business, but right now I’m fighting myself every step of the way. What I really want to do is go to bed early, curl under the duvet, rise late, and spend the hours in between lolling on the sofa with a hot beverage, a box of Belgian chocolates, and a good book.

I might give in today, and gird my loins again tomorrow.

How are you doing?

Kay: Whatcha Readin’?

The last time I checked in with how I was spending my time during our corona virus stay-at-home spring, I whined that I’d watched everything on TV, and did you all have any suggestions? And I was watching TV because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read for more than, say, fifteen minutes.

Well, since then, my friends, I’ve subscribed to Netflix streaming and am busy checking out your suggestions. Also, I’m reading like a fiend. And what I’m discovering, to my amusement, is that in the books I’ve recently enjoyed the most, Our Heroine works in publishing, my former occupation.

In the truism that fiction has to be better than real life, these characters are enjoying fruits of their labors that I never saw. But in the book that I’m currently whizzing through (The Flatmate by Beth O’Leary), Tiffy, Our Girl, is an editor in a small magazine publishing company (ditto), whose authors are eccentric (ditto) but knowledgeable (double ditto), who are willing to do pretty much anything to show potential readers how cool their thing is (ditto). The fact that Tiffy works for a niche publishing company that publishes do-it-yourself craft magazines, and I worked for a publishing company that published niche computing titles (artificial intelligence, anyone? Okay, big now, but it was niche back then) doesn’t make the comparisons less relevant. Continue reading

Kay: Wild Hair (That’s Entertainment!)

My friend Eileen

Shetland pony

How long have we been social distancing now? It feels like forever, right? Most of us haven’t been out to a hairdresser—or really, anywhere else—in all that time. And let’s face it: we aren’t really looking our best these days.

A friend emailed me that it’s been so long since she last had a haircut, she looks like a Shetland pony. I thought that was ridiculous, but then she sent me pictures of herself and a Shetland pony. And holy cow, she was right. She looks just like a Shetland pony!


Weird chicken

This made me wonder what I look like. It turns out, I look like a weird chicken.

I asked the other Ladies what they were doing about their hair in these stay-at-home times, and what they were looking like these days. As you might expect, some of the Ladies are cutting their own hair, or are letting it grow long. Some are dying it for the first time, or missing a coloring treatment.


Highland cow

Elizabeth has fairly long hair, so missing a trim, if she were so inclined, might not be so noticeable. In answer to the question of how long the stay-at-home has been going on, she says, “two hair cuts’ worth.” And she’s taking the current state of affairs as an indication that it’s time to let nature take its course, hair-wise.

She says it would appear that “Scottish Highland cow” best describes her “out-for-a-walk, shelter-in-place” hair. Looking good, Ladies!



Some of the Ladies think that their hair most closely resembles plant life. Jeanne thinks she’s looking most like a dandelion.






Jilly reports that she’s been cutting (and thinning) her own hair, too—at least two hair cuts’ worth. She says that the term most often used to describe it at her house is “haystack.”

(For the curious, the photo of that beautiful haystack was taken in County Clare, Ireland.)



Michaeline lets go

Michaeline’s hair is long enough that she can adapt two styles to her hair. When she lets it go, she looks like a mini Goldendoodle. (photo: picuki.com/tag/banglecats)




Michaeline sleek

Araripe Manakin

When Michaeline’s hair is pulled back, though, then it’s a bird of a different feather! (This photo of the rare Brazilian bird Araripe Manakin was shot by Rick Elis Simpson via Wikimedia Commons.)




Finally, Justine thought she’d try something new, coloring her hair a beautiful purplish-red just in the front. And then she brushed it out, and her husband said “Oh my God” when he saw it. (She says she NEVER brushes out her hair, and she has to thin it to keep it manageable. I wish!)

What does she look like? A lion, of course.

Younger son

Golden Lion Tamarin

Her younger son wanted to get in on the act, so we’re adding him in. He, too, went for a little color in front and a little shorter in the back. I thought that beautiful color most resembled a golden lion tamarin.

And that’s what we’re looking like these days, over at Eight Ladies Writing! How are you all holding up out there in the hair department?

Kay: Still Entertainment!

It’s another stay-at-home Monday, and I’ve been feeling a little bit blah, I don’t know about you. I’m happy to say that people have been sending me stuff for amusement, so I have a few things to share that you might enjoy and help you get your week off to a good start.

First up is a heartwarming clip of a music teacher who wrote a song to express her feelings about the coronavirus epidemic. Her song is a fantastic expression of her talent. She’s on one of the morning talk shows, so you have to get past the intro.

The next one is an oldie but goodie: the late, great Johnny Carson, former host of The Late Show, had the (mis)fortune to have a “talking” parakeet on the show. Two of Carson’s greatest talents were his ability to ad lib and his poker face. See how he makes out with the bird.

Finally, for something a little less mainstream, we have the Drag Queens in Quarantine (DiQ) performing to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.” (Vera Lynn made this song a hit in 1939; today she’s 103!) In this clip, 26 drag queens in five countries are raising money for the charity Age UK, the UK’s largest charity for older people. The song is lovely as well as timely, and while you listen, check out the eye makeup. Truly amazing.

So until we meet again, I hope everyone has a safe, healthy, happy week. May the 4th be with you!

Kay: That’s Entertainment! (p. IV)

So, how is everyone holding up out there? I hope you’re all staying safe and feeling fine. If you’re bored and have time to spare, you might enjoy a little harmless fun on the internet.

I don’t know about you, but I love old Hollywood musicals. The singing! The dancing! (Fun fact: Fred Astaire’s audition notes read “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Can dance a little.”) So the first thing I have here is a mashup, which I’ve bookmarked because I love it. Check out these Golden Era Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk. Give it a whirl, just for fun, and see if you don’t feel better afterwards.

If puzzles are more your thing, as I know they are for many people, you might want to check out a special one for a special time. This puzzle is written by Kimberly Harrington and brought to you by McSweeney’s: The Working From Home During a Global Pandemic Bingo. You might have to figure out how you’re going to play Bingo on Zoom, but I’m sure it’s possible.

Finally—because who doesn’t like to watch some brilliant sketch comedians doing what they do best?— it’s bloopers from the Carol Burnett show. The entire clip is a little long, but I’d advise sticking with it until you see the sketch with Tim Conway playing the clumsy dentist (around 5:39).

And that’s all for this week, folks! Stay well, and stay amused, my friends.

Kay: Whatcha Watchin’?

Book 1 in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, soon to be a Netflix original!

These days we’re probably all reading a lot and watching a lot of TV. I know I am. In TV land, I’m doing a slow binge on the Miss Fisher mysteries, an all-too-brief series from Australia. The gentle—very gentle—crimes, plus the slow-burn romance between Phryne Fisher and Jack Robinson, the police detective, are perfect for my mood. Plus, the clothes! And the sets! You would not believe.

I’m about halfway through this series now, so I’ll soon be looking for something else. Television seems to lend itself to mysteries, probably because so many TV serials are based on crime novelists who never seem to run out of ways to kill off a character or two. I admire most of the productions in the UK/Australia/New Zealand/Canada pantheon, so I’m looking for suggestions. I’ve run through the Brokenwood Mysteries, Shetland, Vera, Endeavor, Midsommer Murders, and Foyles War. I like Bosch, too, and I loved Justified, but on the whole, American detective shows don’t do it for me. And I don’t like anything too grim these days. Let me know what to watch!

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Kay: That’s Entertainment! (part 3, but who’s counting?)

We’re in what feels like Week 4,000 of the corona virus/Covid-19 quarantine, and I don’t know about you, but I crave good news, or at least a good laugh now and then. A friend sent me this link to how to sew a mask, and while you might think that this is a topic that’s been worked to death, I promise (promise) that this is like no make-a-mask video you’ve ever seen. Pay no attention to the fact that this woman’s first name is Kay. There’s no connection. At all.

Next up, Bob Bergan is a Looney Tunes voice actor, who’s been voicing Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, and other characters you’d recognize, for decades. In this video, he’s ad libbing new voices to 12 unfamiliar cartoon characters. It’s interesting to see how he works, and you’ll get to hear samples of his more familiar voices. (I wonder if he does audio books?)

Finally, you’ve probably seen this story, because it’s gotten a lot of coverage, but I couldn’t resist: Tom Moore, a 99-year-old British veteran, raised more than £20 million for the UK’s National Health Service by walking in his backyard—get this, after a hip replacement. He asked people to donate to his goal of walking 100 laps of the yard before his 100th birthday at the end of April. People gave generously.

That’s all for today! Take care, ya’ll.





Kay: That’s Entertainment!

We’re starting another week! I hope everyone is doing well. I’ve been needing a bit of fun in my life, and I found a few things that I hope you’ll enjoy, too.

First up: Now that we can’t go out to party or otherwise enjoy our favorite out-of-the-house activities, we have to make our own, stay-at-home fun. Neighbors in Australia have been dressing up to take out the trash. I wish my neighbors did this.

Probably a lot of you are watching John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” program, which airs Sundays on YouTube. He’s up to three episodes now, but episode two, the most recent available at the time of this writing, features, among other things, the original cast of Hamilton singing to a nine-year-old girl, who couldn’t see the show because of corona virus shutdowns. But here’s the real highlight of this episode: Krasinski features a radio program from Okanagan, Canada, called @radioKeppler. (In case you hadn’t noticed, ahem, that would be named after me. Actually, not really. That guy just happens to have the same name as I do.)

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Kay: That’s [Art] Entertainment!

Remember this painting at the top? The scene has been reimaged at home

Jilly wrote a silver linings post on Saturday, and we were all so cheered up by it, we decided to do more. We all could use a little extra shot of happiness, right? A splash of fun? A drop of joy? Or at least, comfort. Not bad news.

So I’m pitching in today with this entertainment post, links to three things I enjoyed last week, coming to you from the art world. First off, maybe you think you can’t make art. You’d be so wrong! The Getty Museum of Los Angeles asked people to post photos of themselves recreating their favorite works of art based on objects they had at home. What they did was amazing and hilarious. Check out the results.

Think you can’t learn how to paint from a video? Donna Fenstermaker teaches painting here in northern California, and she’s posting short tutorials for her students. I love this one about how to look at color. Even if you’re not inspired to move color patches around, her voice is pretty soothing.

Finally, 20 Dutch musicians from the Rotterdam Philharmonic stayed home and played together the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. That just never gets old.

Have a good week, everyone!


Jilly: Time Out

Time OutDo you ever allow yourself the luxury of an unscheduled time out? I don’t do it very often, but I’m declaring one today.

I’m really happy with the way my WIP is shaping up. I wish it would come together faster, and I have lots of discovery work still ahead of me, but I like what I have so far, and I have a clear idea of the remaining scenes that will get me to the end of the first act. I think it will take me about two weeks to get there, and I’m really excited to write it.

I expected to wake up this morning refreshed and raring to begin, but out of nowhere I feel drained and mentally lacklustre. That’s not a feeling I want to infuse my story, and once I get started, I want to write through to the major turning point without losing momentum, so I decided to award myself a day to recharge.

I might think about my story – I almost certainly will – but I won’t set myself any specific tasks. No word-count goals, no problems to solve.

My plan for the day Continue reading