Close Quarters: What We’ve Learned About Our Loved Ones


The ebook of Lucy Burdette's DEATH ON THE MENU is on sale for $1.99! Don't miss out on this fabulous series! 


The ebook of Hank Phillippi Ryan's THE MURDER LIST is ON SALE!  $1.99! 
So, yay, Reds and Readers, could you snap one up for yourself or a gift? No pressure, of course. It’s just my career….  It’s on all e-platforms, but here’s one link Click HERE!

And, now, our Monday Convo:

JENN McKINLAY: Okay, so AZ has been on lock down since March 23rd. The first few weeks were a mad scramble for toilet paper and flour. Then we settled in, trying to adjust to the new normal (oh, the horror!), and press on as much as we could with everyday life. Hub got used to working at home, the hooligans switched over to online school, my birthday and Easter were celebrated, well, with cake (see flour recon mentioned above). But now, now we’ve all been up in each other’s business 24/7 and, quite frankly, it’s getting old.

Here’s what we’ve learned. I sing all the time. I did not really know this about myself. I knew I hummed occasionally, but, no, the fam assures me, I am humming or singing ALL the time, everything from George Jones (The Race is On is a fave) to Janice Joplin to Bruno Mars. Oops!

We’ve also learned that Hooligan 1 is like a bear coming out of hibernation every night at one o’clock in the morning and cooks himself a full steak and potatoes meal. Hub has an inability to listen to an anecdote without peppering the speaker with questions in his impatience to get the whole story (former reporter), and Hooligan 2 works out, jumping rope and boxing, in the middle of the night - every night. Nothing like waking up to the smell of cooking steak and the sound of punching while Hub grills me with questions about what is that smell or noise. 

Overall, we’re managing by self distancing into various rooms in the house, but I can honestly say, I could have lived, quite happily, without knowing about all of our various quirks and weirdnesses. 

So, how about you, Reds, what are you learning about yourself - if you live alone like my mom, who has started having full conversation with her dog - and the ones you’re holed up with? 

RHYS BOWEN:  Also in Arizona where we are trapped until we can drive back to CA safely. It’s been a lovely place to hibernate with perfect weather, flowers, daughter nearby who bakes us bread so no real complaints. I knew my husband was annoying before this so no real surprises, except two nights ago when he decided to unpack 5 pound bag of coffee that had arrived that day and put it into jars at midnight. So I awoke to rattle, rattle Clonk and the smell of coffee. Totally unable to grasp what this could be. Then I was awake for hours. 
Jenn , I also sing/hum all the time. My subconscious chooses a song based on what I’m thinking or worrying about. Does yours?  And I’d kill any kid who cooked or boxed at night!  Remind them you are a professional. You can kill with no trace!

Jenn: LOL, Rhys! Yes, I must remind them of my skills!

LUCY BURDETTE: Honestly, it would be a crime for me to complain about being quarantined in Key West with my adorable husband and cat. But a girl can nitpick, right? No frying of steaks and potatoes in the night, but most days John will ask: when were you planning on using this chicken? (or ground beef, or sweet potatoes, or etc?) And what’s this in the freezer? Here’s the thing, I am planning, I have planned, I will continue to plan! And by the way, the thing in the freezer is what we’ll eat when and if we get sick, or if the food supply is cut off completely. 

That’s a small matter. But the toilet paper issue is a killer. I mostly use one bathroom and he uses another. I stock both with toilet paper as needed, and like everyone else, I’m on the lookout for replacement. Yesterday he said: “I looked in your closet, you have eleven rolls of tp. I’d call that bordering on hoarding.”

Me: “Tell me you’re not counting my toilet paper!” (Next it will be monitoring how much I use. And that my friends is when I might need help with a body…)

HALLIE EPHRON: We’ve been having groceries delivered and I’ve yet to score a single roll of toilet paper. Or bag of potato chips. 

What I’ve learned is that I crave citrus. Anyone remember the beginning of Rapunzel, where the queen has a craving for rampion (whatever that is) and steals it from the neighbor’s yard and suffers the consequences? I get it! I nearly went crazy craving citrus but fortunately our Peapod order finally arrived with two bags of tangerines. I know, what a first-world problem.

I’ve also learned how lucky I am to live with the man I married. He’s so easygoing. Good company. Changes lightbulbs and unclogs downspouts. Enthusiastically consumes whatever I cook. And it turns out all those years when he was shopping for yard sales? He’s accumulated all kinds of stuff that we are now using. (We’re on our third jigsaw puzzle.) 

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Since we are both  home all day normally, there haven't been any surprises or changes in schedule. But, Lucy, I had to laugh about John and the groceries. Since Rick and I now unpack and sanitize the groceries together, he questions every item. Did we really need this? Yes. Why is there so much fruit? Because I eat it! Etc., etc…

Although living with Mr. Preparedness has at times been very trying, since the coronavirus all his planning and organizing for every dire possibility has been very reassuring. And, yes, we even have respirators.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Lucy, I am already monitoring that. Four sheets at a time is plenty. I am SO SAD that I am doing that, and I didn’t mean to. Jonathan rolled his eyes when I mentioned it. But as I said--what can it hurt?

But we are kind of fine--seriously, I do a lot of pretending that everything will work out, because otherwise it’s too awful.  Jonathan works at the sunroom table, and I have my study, and he’s in charge of lunch and cleaning/vacuuming, and I’m in charge of shopping and  dinner, and cleaning the kitchen, and laundry. Breakfast is a duet.  He uses the treadmill in the exercise room, then I take a turn. It kinda works. 

The addition of doing the food planning, at such a tense level I mean, is surprisingly stressful. WE HAVE TO EAT THE LETTUCE! But let’s see if we can make it last three days. Okay, I’ll freeze the green beas, since they are perishable, but the cauliflower can stay in the fridge. Make beef stew, eat half and freeze half for the apocalypse.  I have never worked harder, somehow.

We already were very happy, I mean, before, but I can feel each of us being very conscious of staying calm and  considerate. For which I am grateful. 

Geez, I hope this is all worth it. It’s gotta be, right?

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Hank, since the latest news about this Pandora’s Box of a virus is that 1) recovering from it doesn’t seem to confer any immunity against getting it again and 2) it can cause blood clots leading to organ failure, amputation or stroke, I’m going to say this is all, most emphatically, worth it. 

I’m trying to think of it as the same sort of life change we’ve all already experienced. Like going from single to married or living with. Holy cow, that was a trip, remember? Or, for those of who had kids, going from being a couple to parenthood. I sure wasn’t going out for leisurely brunches back then. Several of us have made big life moves - midwest to east coast, east coast to west, the UK to the US. Big differences in culture, food, where we went and what we did. This is another in a line of events that changed how we live our lives, and at least this time, I’m not dealing with the horror that was discovering my brand new husband left his dirty socks next to the bed EVERY NIGHT because he said - and this is 100% true - he would wear them the next day. And friends, I lived with that until the day he went into the hospice.

So, what was the question? My fam already knew I sing and hum constantly, so no news there. The girls are pretty much the way they’ve always been at home, and Boy on Loan is new, so we’re all discovering what it’s like to live with him. Biggest change has been for the Maine Millennial, whose pup is no longer going to doggy day care 4-5 times a week. It turns out Janey has a lot more energy to burn than previously realized, so they’re going out for two mile walks three or four times a day. The MM may be one of the few people who emerge from quarantine weighing less than when she went in.

HANK again: And yeah, Julia. With you on patience and flexibility. And that “no immunity” thing is controversial, and apparently misreported, so I’m hoping that's not the final-final word.

JENN: I just read about the stroke thing and happen to be writing about a character who is young and had a stroke, so...curse you writer brain!...material!

So, how about you, Readers, what are you learning about yourself or your cohabitors?