Walt’s Words of Wisdom: Cilantro

Writer Walt Now has “a line in the sand” when it comes to a certain controversial herb. He’s talkin’ cilantro, and he says the only right way to think about it is: love.

As I was saying:

There are two kinds of people in the world. People who love cilantro. And people who are wrong.

I realize cilantro is a divisive issue. I also realize we definitely do not have a shortage of divisive issues in this world. I also realize I have just made it more divisive.

I do that.

But it’s an Alamo-style line in the sand about cilantro for me.

The herb, AKA coriander, adds a fresh, green tang-note to every salsa, a frenzy of flavor to every soup, and sacred life to holy guacamole.

I also rip the leaves from cilantro plants and nurseries and big-box stores and get a quick hit. Don’t tell them.

But you don’t have to leave home. Amazon sells a wonderful dried cilantro. #ad

There’s even an organic liquid extract cilantro. #ad

Best of all, cilantro seeds #ad are plentiful for indoor or outdoor planting. I’ve had good luck with both, year after year.

But I’m starting to hear contrary views. It’s beginning to enter my consciousness that not every human being alive appreciates cilantro. Shocked!

In fact, today my wife told me that some people are born with a genetic disposition to process cilantro flavor differently. To them, she said, cilantro tastes like green soap. It’s not a matter of “liking” it, she said. It’s a matter of not wanting to eat soap.

Okay, respect for genetic disposition, but how these people can go through life is beyond me. I would shoot myself into the heart of a burning sun rather than live without cilantro. Next you’ll be telling me to give up dill.

Readers: let’s get some food-centric feedback here. Let me know in the comment: Do you love cilantro? Or are you wrong?

Copywriter’s Lucky Charm: “Red Underwear”

In a video interview with Ken Ohlemeyer, longtime St. Louis copy and comedy writer offers in 44 minutes his learnings from 40 years.

“Put your heart into it.”

That’s one of the biggest pieces of advice Walt Jaschek has for aspiring or new copywriters.

“By heart, I mean two different kinds of energy,” he explained. “First, put your heart into the process: commit to making something great that never existed before. Secondly, put full-on emotion into the messagingany emotion, really, as appropriate, be it laughter or joy or relief or tenderness. The human heart, I truly believe, is where customers make their buying decisions”.

The award-winning head of Walt Now Creative sat down November 29, 2020, for an interview requested and conducted over Zoom by Ken Ohlemeyer, a board member of the St. Louis Media History Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the media history of St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

The conversation was also the pilot episode of the Foundation’s new YouTube, “Take 5: Casual Conversations with St. Louis Media Hall of Fame Members.”

During a wide-ranging interview about the role of copywriters and what makes a good one, the 65-year-old Jaschek touched on his “Origin Story;” how he hooked up with college buddy Paul Fey to form Paul and Walt Worldwide; how they came to work on national brands such as CBS-TV and Warner Brothers; how this work led to Paul’s Walt’s induction into that Hall of Fame – and how a certain joke about red underwear runs through all of it.

(Here in a few frames from the interview is the moment Walt reveals the latest incarnation of that underwear.)

Walt Jaschek, left, and Ken Ohlemeyer

Ohlemeyer, who by day is marketing manager for Concordia Publishing in St. Louis, posted on Facebook 12/2/20:

“Last Sunday afternoon I interviewed St. Louis Media History Advertising Hall of Famer Walt Jaschek. Walt is a great guy, a good sport, and a very talented copywriter. He is also my first guest for a new YouTube series I’m doing for the STL Media History Foundation. Over the coming weeks, and next year, I’ll be hosting a number of our print, radio, television, and advertising/pr media Hall of Fame members. There’s so much to learn from these folks.”

Watch and hear the full interview on YouTube.

The Five Questions:

2:04 – How did Walt Jaschek start in advertising and copywriting? (Walt’s origin story)

11:57 – What are some of Walt’s favorite ads? 20:35

How does Walt hone his craft and what skills are necessary to be a good copywriter?

26:12 – Why lucky red underwear?

30:52 – What is some advice Walt gives to writers?

Bonus:

37:42 – Walt tells the story of The Golden Adventures of Brett Hull comic books.

Walt Jaschek is a 2018 inductee into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame. Declaring “I’m not history yet,” Walt is still juggling multiple writing projects for all media. His work can be seen on his website, his YouTube channel, and his Instagram.

From the St. Louis Media Foundation:

If you have St. Louis media that you would like to save, preserve and share, please contact. We research and compile St. Louis media artifacts and memorabilia, maintain the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame, and celebrate our rich media history. Follow us on the web: https://www.stlmediahistory.org.

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Shopping for the Apocalypse: How I Learned to Love Buying Emergency Supplies

Walt’s alarm about “double-dipping disasters” spurred his desire to “shop for the apocalypse.” Here are 10 things he bought, and why.

Reviewed in this post: specific, excellent products within categories suggested by Ready.gov for inclusion in an emergency supply kit, with Amazon affiliate links for easy browsing, buying.

Weather radio: RegeMoudal Emergency Solar Hand-Crank Weather Radio for Emergency with AM/FM, LED Flashlight, Reading Lamp and SOS Alarm [check current price]

Light: Solar Powered, Crank Dynamo, Battery Operated Whetstone Lantern With 4 Ways to Power [check current price]

First aid kit: Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, 140 piece [check current price]

Water: BOTTLED JOY 1 Gallon Water Bottle, BPA Free Large Water Bottle Hydration with Motivational Time Marker Reminder [check current price]

Can opener: Stainless steel can can opener with easy, big turn-knob and ergonomic, anti-slip handles

Food: Amy’s Organic Black Bean Vegetable Soup, Low Fat, Vegan, 14.5-Ounce (Pack of 12)

Masks: Cameleon Cover – Made in USA – Fashion Face Mask Covering Washable Cotton Double Layer – 3 Pack

And more! Keep reading for further list and reviews.

In early March, 2020, when I realized Covid-19 was materializing in the United States with alarming ferocity, I did what every good American does in times of crisis.

I went shopping.

Can you buy your way out of a global pandemic? Of ­course not. But there was a method to my retail madness.

My sudden, energizing goal was to assemble a Basic Disaster Supply Kit, something our household was lacking. I know a virus can’t be tamed with a flashlight, gallons of water, or a weather radio. My motivation to assemble was spurred by this question: what if, as Spring unfolds, we get hit by another type of disaster during the pandemic, concurrent with the pandemic? I call them:

Double dipping disasters.

For example: let’s say Midweste­rn thunderstorms knock our power out for days, as they have done multiple times in recent years. In the past, when the lights blinked out – and stayed out – I would move my home-office-based freelance business to a nearby motel, camp out for days, and keep working at the speed of thought, which was what the job required.

But during the first, dazed days of a lockdown, going to a hotel – or even a friend’s house – is somewhere between ludicrous and impossible. Staying home, staying safe and staying fed becomes the job.

That’s where having a Basic Disaster Supply Kit comes in.

First, I went to ready.gov, the official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and studied its list of recommended supplies. Then:

I started buying.

Here are items from the DHS list, what I bought in response, with Amazon affiliate links (and Amazon’s own pics) to help you do the same.

1. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert

Well, I got both of those things and then some when I purchased the…

RegeMoudal Emergency Solar Hand-Crank Weather Radio for Emergency with AM/FM, LED Flashlight, Reading Lamp and SOS Alarm

and it is now one of my Top Ten Favorite Things I Own. Human civilization and technology came together to build this marvel. Plus, it’s red. The best thing about it is the hand-cranked power, enabling lights, radio – and USB-connected phone charger. The ability to charge a phone without the availability of powered outlets seems fundamental. In a previous St. Louis power outage, phone draining, I walked to a nearby hospital – powered by generators – and sat on the floor of a deserted corridor, phone plugged into wall. In a pandemic, I will not wander into a hospital. I’ll stay away or be carried in.

Dialing into a NOAA weather station was a breeze, pun intended, and the comforting, mechanical voice of the weather A.I. – “showers will be moving out of the area after 6 p.m.” – wonderfully free of bad news. For the moment. I tuned the AM/FM radio to my beloved NPR. Only bad news there, alas. But the multi-setting, LED lights are crazy bright. Let’s shine our way out of this.

2. Flashlight

I thought bigger. I went lantern.

Solar Powered, Crank Dynamo, Battery Operated Whetstone Lantern With 4 Ways to Power

The previously mentioned weather-radio-flashlight provides beams of light. But I want the ability to light a room, or at least a dining room table, for the important business of Scrabble. (We have the deluxe Amazon edition.) This well-reviewed beauty has four sources of power, and I see that I am currently using none of them. So here I go, plugging into AC power, plugging into computer USB port, and hand-cranking. There. That should do it.

There’s a lovely solar panel on top, so why am I storing this in a drawer? Next to my office window it goes. As for luminescence, imagine very bright little disco lights, in three settings. They don’t flash. Except in my imagination. All it needs is a little Donna Summer.

3. First Aid Kit

I scored not one but two of the

Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, 140 pieces

This well-organized, well-labelled kit is in itself reassuring. It’s grab and go. Plus, it’s red. It’s from Johnson & Johnson, a corporation needing more of our money, I’m sure, but well done is well done. I bought one for each car. That’s where I think a First Aid Kit could be of the most value, I think. On a getaway. During an Earthquake. During a pandemic. Coming soon to a theatre near you.

Includes: bandages, Neosporin, Tylenol, Bengay, cleansing wipes, gauze pads, rolled gauze, antibiotic cream, itch cream, cold pack, two pairs of gloves, and a durable, plastic box to keep items organized. I’m needing all those things right now, and I’ve only been gardening. [Rimshot]

4. Water

I was thirsty to buy the…

BOTTLED JOY 1 Gallon Water Bottle, BPA Free Large Water Bottle Hydration with Motivational Time Marker Reminder

What’s more fundamental than water? We are created by water, I say. Or perhaps we are water’s mechanism for moving itself around. Either way, we’re 60% of it. Give your water some love, and keep it coming throughout the day. Bottled Joy’s spiffy, BPA-free gallon container has a motivational time marker to monitor consumption, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Presumably you need no water after 7 p.m. Too many trips to the bathroom?)

Though I have ordinary containers of tap water in the basement, for use in a bath or toilet in a disaster that might mean no water service (earthquake? yikes,) we’re using Bottled Joy on adventures by car. It could conceivably go in a backpack; haven’t tried that yet. The 1.5’’ wide-mouth opening accommodates ice cubes, the flip-top lid is built for easy filling and refilling, and the handle makes it easy to haul to the socially distant beach. Have some water and get in the water. Feel the water inside you and around you. Be the water.

5. Manual can opener for food.

I bought the…

Stainless steel can can opener with easy, big turn-knob and ergonomic, anti-slip handles

Get a grip. Get this can opener. The description on Amazon says the non-slip handles are “so soft, like your lover’s hand.” *ahem* I wouldn’t go that far. It also says the device allows you to “enjoy the aroma of canned foods.” Yeah, I wouldn’t go that far, either. But let the copywriter have fun and acknowledge this well-done, sturdy opener with a big handle that’s “so soft, so big.”

Here’s why that’s a deal. I’m a senior. I have arthritis in my hands. This device really is easier to turn, and the sharp blade really makes opening even the toughest can “can-tastic.” See? I was a copywriter, too, once. Bonus: built-in bottle opener for long-neck fans. And little handles for hanging up if you have one of those kitchens where you can hang things up. If you do, I admire you.

What cans are we opening? How about cans of…

6. Food

Have to use that cool can opener on something. How about…

Amy’s Organic Black Bean Vegetable Soup, Low Fat, Vegan, 14.5-Ounce (Pack of 12)

We’ve been eating a lot of beans in the pandemic. Red, black, white, cranberry, green; dried, cooked, baked, reheated, repurposed and beloved. There are 2.6 grams of protein in pinto, as in most of the others, and they satisfy hunger on a fundamental level. Randy soaks the dried ones overnight before cooking, reducing the possibility toot-toot-tootsie, goodbye.

Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable is a nice change of pace. Let Amy do the work of getting the bean/spice ratio just right, and enjoy its savory goodness. The 12-pack belongs in a kitchen or basement survival shelter, and why, yes, I am building such a thing. Stay safe, everyone. And eat more beans.

7. Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)

Duh.

As I mentioned above, when I was first searching ready.gov in March, there was no mention of the coronavirus. But “dust mask” was already on the list of emergency supplies, “to help filter contaminated air.” Good. Little did the site know just how contaminated the air was about to get. We now know masks to be an indispensable part of daily life. My wife sews many for our family, upcycling old t-shirts, but on Amazon, I like…

Cameleon Cover – Made in USA – Fashion Face Mask Covering Washable Cotton Double Layer – 3 Pack

I cannot mask my enthusiasm for this 4-pack of double-layer, doubled-sided, 100% Lycra masks. Oh sure, the white inside is 100% cotton. Oh sure, the 13-inch, earloop-to-earloop length will stretch to 17. Oh sure, they’re breathable, comfortable, and made in the U.S.A.

But what caught my eye and triggered my shopping cart were the colors – Chameleon Cover’s Summer Collection: Neon Yellow, Neon Pink, Neon Orange, Neon Blue. I’m too manly for the pink, but I wear all the other three proudly. My previous black masks were somehow menacing. “I know I look like I want to rob you, but I just want to pay for this juice.” A socially distant summer concert calls for that orange, I think. I socially distant hike along the mountain ridge, the yellow. Listening to the Blues, the blue.

Masks. Our future. Make peace with them. Think colors.

8. Extra batteries

Energizer AA Batteries (48 Count), Double A Max Alkaline Battery

I’m an Energizer loyalist. They work, they last, and the drum-beating bunny is wearing sunglasses. Keep going.

But wait, there’s more.

And as bonus 9th and 10th basic supplies, I am going to recommend two important items not on the DHS Emergency Kit list, but are on mine. And now in my possession. First, you should seriously consider getting a…

9. Camping stove

Coleman Gas Camping Stove | Classic Propane Stove, 2 Burner

I was firing on both burners when the obvious hit me: if we have to stay home due to combination of a pandemic and a power outage lasting days, we’ll need to cook. Or at least heat. The Classic Coleman Propane Stove served my family well when I was a kid – we would camp for weeks at a time, and my parents made three hot meals a day on it. My goals are no longer so epic: I just want to heat a pot of tea on our patio. Or cook some beans.

This reliable, wind-blocking baby can run up to one hour on high on one 16.4 oz. propane cylinder (sold separately.) I have no need to cook anything that long. On the other hand, I might have to use it to fill a hot bath some night, so. (Thinking ahead.) Set-up is easy, learning curve is low. Is a camping stove a bridge too far for disaster thinking? Well, the next time there’s a power outage, and you want a hot cup of tea: see me.

10. Backpack

How to wrap this all up? (Not this article, though there is that.) How to wrap your kit up? How to encapsulate and preserve the emergency supply kit you have so wonderfully assembled? For ease of “we-gotta-get-out-of-here-now” portability, I recommend a backpack. In fact, I recommend this one.

SwissGear 5358 USB ScanSmart Laptop Backpack. Abrasion-Resistant & Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpack Exclusive Bundle with Lock

SwissGear packs have adorned my backs since college. They are wonderfully designed and almost indestructible. The version I currently use for my business ­– back when I went places for my business – has bells and whistles inside the bells and whistles. Putting most of your supplies (minus the stove, natch) in a ridiculously sturdy, lacked backpack like the 5358 means you are guaranteeing its safety. And yours.

“Abrasion resistant,” the Amazon page for it says. That’s absolutely true. I’ve shoved my SwissGear packs under airplane seats and rental car trunks and every nook and cranny imaginable. They bear no wear. Oh, to be a SwissGear pack so I, too, could show no wear.

We’ll be okay, I say. These sturdy supplies help us face the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to.

And help us abide their abrasions.

Walt

2020 Update: Additional Emergency Supplies Recommended by the Department of Homeland Security

In April, 2020, the DHS added to its website this list of additional emergency supplies and tips on maintaining your kit. I repeat them here as a public service.

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  1. Cloth face coverings (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
  2. Prescription medications
  3. Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  4. Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  5. Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
  6. Pet food and extra water for your pet
  7. Cash or traveler’s checks
  8. Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  9. Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  10. Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  11. Fire extinguisher
  12. Matches in a waterproof container
  13. Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  14. Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  15. Paper and pencil
  16. Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  1. Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  2. Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
  3. Replace expired items as needed.
  4. Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.

  1. Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  2. Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  3. Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.

More at ready.gov

Okay, America. Get ready. To get prepared.

Journal your way sane – or at least less insane. A recommendation from experience.

Getting those buzzing bees in your brain down on paper might just get them out your head. At least for a while.

That, in turn, will give your body time to breathe.

My previously published “Coping in Self-Quarantine: 13 Things to Do Hunkered Down” included #5: Start Journaling! Though I only gave it a few sentences there, I’m seeing vast waterfalls of worry out there – almost every drop deserved – so I’m giving this proven self-help idea a more detailed gung-ho.  

I’m a lifelong journaler and a believer in its remarkable healing effects. It alone will not get you through stress and trauma – all tools of mind and spirit you’ve built up ‘til now should be at hand. But it’s a darn good tool, and, if you want to raise concerns while lowering blood pressure, among the best.

Julia Cameron, author of creator inspiration guide The Artist’s Way (highly recommended) says: “When we write by hand, we connect to ourselves. We may get speed and distance when we type, but we get a truer connection – to ourselves and our deepest thoughts – when we actually put pen to page.”

She’s right. It’s liberating to step away from the screen and scritch.

You do not have to be a “writer” to be a good journaller or get something out of it. You do not have to have good handwriting. (Hello, doctors!) You don’t have to know “your” from “you’re,” but while “you’re” at it, please DO. (I’ll be here all week.)

Write like you talk, scribble like you think, one sentence after another, one worry after another, one win after win, one paragraph at a time. Or maybe there are no graphs. Maybe it’s a rambling run-on. Buzz on, bees! Take this, paper! And this! Curse. Yell. Negotiate. Document. Write.

How many pages a day? Julia says “3.” Agree. Some days, it’s a plod to 3, some days you will leave 3 in your rear view mirror.

You do not need fancy, really nice journals to be a journaller, so of course, I have this affiliate link for fancy, really nice ones (Cha-ching!)

 I love humble school notebooks, or, for even more unfiltered, let-it-loose thinking: legal pads. Randy gifted me used ones from her corporate days. These slimmed-down beauties take ideas like, well, a pro.

As for new, mint-condition legal pads, Earthwise is affordable – check current price – and is 100% recycled. The stock has a good “hand feel,” but not so nice you’ll have that “oh, this paper is so nice, I can’t mark it up” feeling.  

How to begin? Grab the closest pad and a favorite pen. Write this sentence: “Wow, I cannot believe this day.” (Expand on that.) Or here’s a better one: “I have a lot to be grateful for, I guess.” (Like what?) Or be not that high-minded. “You know what makes me mad? Drivers who don’t use turn signals!” (This one is personal for me.)

A historian on Twitter last week also recommended journaling, but he had a loftier lens and more academic focus. “In these extraordinary times, write down what you are seeing, hearing, feeling,” he said. “Future generations will want to read every word.” Hmmm. I dunno. I believe in the future – yay, go, future – but in my journals I am not writing for prosperity. Egads, no. I would have to start using words like “egads.”

I throw my journals in a closet, and then often, scandalously, into recycling. I don’t care. Those are my first-first-first drafts. If an idea is worth preserving, I do know how to type. Watch: sjie5 sjo38745 hkjj!

“Hey, Walt! What’s this journaling ‘mental health benefit’ of which you speak?” Bottom line: I find that journaling makes me feel 17.5% better every day. 17.5%was also the commission advertising agencies used to charge in the 1980s. Coincidence?

Don’t tear anything out until tomorrow!

I do feel compelled to put a non-jokey warning here. In your writing, you might reach a catharsis. You might hit a point where you put down the pen and cry. Good. Tears are good. They are a release. That’s called grieving. It’s human, it’s real and it’s necessary. It’s the “keeping it in” that is driving you crazy.

Overall, of course, your mileage may vary. But if you could do something that might make you feel 17.5% better (at least eventually) and, if so desired, preserve your thoughts, would you do it?

My late Mom thought so. She was profusive journaller of every family visit, every lunch, every trip to River Roads Shopping Center. I have boxes of her journals in my basement. Heck, I think we all do.

Wait a minute! This has been an idea from my Mom all along!

Well then, there you have it. Take it from her, take it from me:

Mark your marks on the world.

Write stuff down.

There you go.

Coping in Self-Quarantine: 13 Things To Do While Hunkering Down

Walt Jaschek says, “This Essential and Showcase comic book collection won’t read itself.”

Home, sweet home. It’s that sweet (and smart) spot many of us find ourselves lately, either because we’re now working remotely; because we always worked at home (like me, a freelancer;) because we’re blissfully retired, like Randy; and/or because we’re, well, quarantined. Staying occupied is quandary for some, I’m hearing, including sports fans who no longer have games to watch. To those seeking suggestions, here are 13 Things To Do When Hunkered Down.

1. Walk!

Let’s take this situation one step at a time. And six feet apart. My wife and I trek a couple of miles through suburbia every day; only recently have we seen other humans (keeping a nice social distance.) Not a walker? Don’t know where to go? Put on good shoes. Walk in one direction for 10 minutes. Stop. Walk back home. Congrats, you walked for 20! Allergic to the outdoors? Walk the steps to the basement and back. Hey! Carry some laundry with you!

2. Assemble a household emergency kit.

Not trying to be alarmist; quite the opposite. Last week I calmly assembled items for a household emergency kit, as outlined by DHS on this page: https://www.ready.gov/kit . This task is not necessarily virus-related, but it helped me to direct energy and find self-comfort. Plus, it’s crazy we didn’t have this stuff before. How did I get by without a hand-cranked weather-radio/phone-charger? I luuuuuuurve it.

3. Read those books.

Those histories / biographies / how to’s / YAs / mysteries / bodice-rippers won’t read themselves. You know how we normally say, “Oh, books, I would read you, but I have someplace to be.” Now we don’t. Me? I’ll be sticking with the classics, as pictured above.

4. Write those books.

More generally: create. Make art. Share stories. Hit the loom. Record that song. Blog about beer. There’s a creative tribe in my life whose engines churn when they can stay in place and make. I can’t wait to see the stuff they’ll have to show for it.

5. Journal.

I read advice on Twitter from a historian to start journaling, if you aren’t already. Write down what’s happening. It will be of interest to future generations (the historian said,) and it’ll crystalize your thoughts and make you feel better (I say.)

6. Create a group text.

Open up those pipes of communication with the ones you love. Keep the conversation flowing. Share good information. Make jokes. Private group-texts spur more engagement, in my experience; not everyone is on the same social platforms. Also, it’s interesting to see what family members are drinking.

7. Clean up your contact lists.

Had to do this to create those group texts. I’d clean up my contacts further if I had another 8,000 hours.

8. Garden.

If you already garden, let this early Spring urge you on. Prep those beds. Plant those bulbs. Throw wildflower seeds to the wind. If you’ve THOUGHT about gardening, but doubt you can do it, start. If I can, you can. All you need is sunlight, good drainage and water. Why buy basil, spinach and cilantro when you can get ‘em from your yard? (Or patio.) And really, what illustrates “hope” better than a sprout magically emerging from a seed?

9. Send a letter.

My Dad’s senior living center is on lockdown, which is smart, and he is in good spirits. In a recent a brief phone call, he reminded me, “The mail still works.” True! So I dashed off a page of news and updates, dropped into the mail. I wonder, will recent events bring back letter-writing?  And the post office? And Elvis stamps?

10. Organize that sock drawer.

Or garage. Or medicine cabinet. Is putting energy into organizing something a way to distract yourself from worries? Yes, but it works, and when you’re done: organized sock drawer! Last week I did some strategic purging in our basement storage room, and now this room says to me, “possibilities.” Or maybe, “Peleton.”

11. Scrabble.

An eight-letter word for “fun.” The Amazon exclusive edition SPINS and has grooves to hold tiles. Check current price on Amazon.. I get 4% if you buy one at this link:  Or you could just go get yours off the shelf.

12. Do your taxes.

I’ll admit, “do your taxes” is more a note to myself.

13. Make a list.

Okay, now we’re getting meta.

That’s my 13 Things to Do Hunkered Down. More to add? Leave a comment! Thanks,

Walt