2020 Shelter in Place (SIP) Notes

  1. SIP Note 1 from Nancy Guarnera
  2. SIP Note 2 from Terry Tosh
  3. SIP Note 3 from Tony Pino
  4. SIP Note 4 from Sue Curtzwiler
  5. SIP Note 5 from Amber DeAnn
  6. SIP Note 6 from Tish Davidson
  7. SIP Note 7 from Scott Davidson
  8. SIP Note 8 from Rekha Ramani
  9. SIP Note 9 from Carmen Von Tickner
  10. SIP Note 10 from Anita Tosh
  11. SIP Note 11 from Tony Pino
  12. SIP Note 12 from Nancy Guarnera
  13. SIP Note 13 from Cherilyn Chin
  14. SIP Note 14 from Tish Davidson



Here’s your 14th Weekly SIP NOTE submitted by Tish Davidson, member and FAW Representative to the CWC Central Board. Thank you, Tish!


Unstructured Time: A Summer Project
I live across the street from an elementary school. Normally the street teems with cars and school buses, kids on scooters, kids on bikes, kids on foot. Today it is empty. It’s late March, and we are all sheltering in place.
Parallel to the street, between a row of scruffy bushes and the playground, lies a strip of hard-packed naked dirt. A teenage boy appears with a shovel and begins to dig. This strip does not inspire visions of sandcastles or buried treasure, so I watch him. The day is hot. The boy takes off his t-shirt, hangs it on a bush, and continues to dig. His back glistens in the sun. He digs and digs then puts on his shirt, and he and his shovel leave. He appears the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, and continues to dig. On the fifth day, he is joined by two more, slightly younger, kids. They move to a different spot where bushes obscure exactly what is going on. I am intrigued.
It is now the second week of April. Four kids, helmeted and masked, arrive on bikes. One boy takes off down the strip. He partially disappears into a dip, then flies through the air. He is followed by two boys and a girl. The light dawns. These kids have built a bike challenge course. After several runs, they sit on their bikes, social distancing and talking. After a couple more runs, they disappear, but after dinner two of them are back with tools. They begin to build a ramp.
The bike brigade appears the next day and the next. Then something interesting happens. Several new kids come on their own and try out the course. Then two young kids with their father come by and ride the course at low speed. A couple of adults detour off the street to give it a try. A few days later, two preschoolers appear and creep through the strip, parent at their side. By now the ramp has been extended and the older kids are getting bigger air.
By May the course has a steady trickle of users from lunchtime until dark. One day two adults on motorcycles ride through. Every evening two or three teens stop by to do maintenance.
One evening I approach them. They look apprehensive, as if they think I am going to yell at them. They tell me they have permission to keep the course until school starts. I tell them I am impressed with the diligence of their upkeep and allow them to get water from the spigot in front of our house.
This project, teen initiated, teen maintained, and used by the neighborhood makes me appreciate the value of unstructured time in young lives. Other summers, these kids likely would be in sports camps or academic enrichment programs. The oldest might have summer jobs. Instead, they have imagined and created a summer project they will remember for the rest of their lives. Perhaps we should all be more appreciative for the doors that open when routine is broken.


Here’s your 13th Weekly SIP NOTE submitted by Cherilyn Chin, member and FAW Treasurer.
Thank you, Cherilyn!
Wouldn’t you know, my computer crashed after I wrote my SIP note. Here’s what I remember saying:
As an introvert, I’ve found staying home a good thing. I always tell myself that I’ll write more, especially because I (supposedly) have more time. I try most mornings to write for at least 15 minutes upon waking, but I fail miserably when my emails beckon. I get sucked down that hole and I skip writing for the day.
But, I discovered the other week, I have a first draft of my middle-grade children’s novel about a Hawaiian girl and boy who discover that their beloved coral reef has bleached, and they have to solve the mystery of why.
I hand write my first drafts and only recently typed up a few pages. I quickly realized I have a 30,000 word first draft, the low end of a middle-grade novel. I’m not done by any means, but I can edit while I type up my manuscript.
I have put up a few blog posts on my ocean conservation blog, “Ocean of Hope,” which I invite you to check out. It’s been a labor of love for me for the past 10 years! I welcome any feedback and suggestions for future posts. https://protecttheoceans.org/wordpress


SIP Note # 12 from Nancy Guarnera


It’s Monday, and by now, you’re probably used to getting your weekly SIP Note.

I checked my folder last night and realized I had used all of the notes people have been sending me. These were originally from our Board members, but some of you asked if you could participate, so all of you were invited to submit a Note(s), if you felt like it; and some of you did. Please send some more.

We’ve had poetry and suggestions about how to use our time productively while SIPing; how to be creative with food; build a new routine; share time with others on Zoom; and occasionally, peeks into each other’s lives. Some have been very personal and others more general. Some uplifting and some not so much but hopefully made you think or even feel something that helped get you through these interesting times.

My hope, when I conceived this, was that we would share words of inspiration and encouragement with each other; that we’d stay connected emotionally over the time that we were unable to be together socially. Now we’re using Zoom to connect for meetings—a social gathering of sorts. (This Saturday is the general meeting—everyone is welcome—you should already have an invitation, with another reminder coming to you by email on Wednesday. Hope to see lots of you there.)

Call me crazy… but I think the emotional connection still needs to be encouraged. One thing I don’t think we’ve done, at least not over the last 11 weeks, is express our gratitude.

Yes, I know that CoronaV has really inconvenienced us in big ways—remember freaking out about toilet paper, needing a haircut, canceling appointments, events and trips? (Let’s remember that there are places in the world where humanity manages to live without toilet paper. Hmmm…wonder what they use there. Now here’s an interesting bit of research for someone; I suspect this may vary from place to place.)

Having to improvise toilet paper is one thing…but it’s important to remember that for many people this pandemic has meant the loss of life—their own or someone they love. Or, if you’re unfortunate enough to live in NYC, probably more than one life. And if you’re a person who works in a hospital in NYC (or some other hot spot anywhere—a nursing home, meat packing plant, etc.), you’ve probably “lost” lots of people: some you’ve loved, some were co-workers, and some were strangers to you. Now it’s not just hot spots, it’s everywhere. And it looks like it may be coming back around for a second bite at our apple, because we just couldn’t quite believe what was happening to us, and we didn’t all do what the science suggested we needed to do to flatten the curve to protect ourselves and each other. Blaming is a futile exercise that doesn’t effect change for the better. So let’s move on.

So what does this have to do with gratitude, you ask? Well, as bad as things may get, one can always look for the good. It’s always there; even with something as devastating as a global pandemic. That’s why we have the saying: “every cloud has a silver lining.” And actually, if you rise above the stormy, angry clouds, and the rain and the lightning, you’ll discover not just a lining, but bright, sunny clouds everywhere you look—and rainbows, lots and lots of them. I know this sounds Pollyanna-ish, but it is actually, physically, true: I’ve seen it with my very own eyes. Seriously, rainbows of every shape and size . . . even a round one with the shadow of our plane in the middle of it. Seriously . . .

When we look for the good, or the bad, we find it. It’s really just how life presents itself to us. So, pay attention to what you’re looking for…the good or the bad, because you will find it.

Here’s a simple exercise for you to try:  spend an hour, if you can stand that much, listening to or watching cable news. How do you feel after doing that? If you’re enjoying the experience, keep watching, you may need some extra time with it before you start to feel anxious and afraid, or at the very least, confused.

Now, grab a pad and a pen (or sit at your keyboard—if you’re a writer, your computer’s probably on) and start listing everything you can think of that you’re grateful for…here’s just a smidge of my list to get you started:

I am so grateful for . . . my life . . . my family . . . my friends . . . my life partner . . . every pet I’ve ever owned . . . every person, known or unknown to me, who has shown me kindness when I needed it . . . every house, apartment, room, shelter from the storm I’ve ever lived in     every religion, philosophy, and practice that has fed my spirit/soul . . . every opportunity life has given me to help others . . . every creative talent I was born with and have been able to explore . . . every job I’ve had . . . toilet paper . . . flowers . . . roses . . . indoor plumbing . . . grocery stores . . . healthy food to eat . . . clean drinkable water at the turn of a tap . . . clean, breathable air . . . orchids . . . my good health . . . inventors . . . books . . . colors and my ability to see them . . . smart phones . . . computers . . . television . . . movies . . . the beach . . . trees . . . mountains . . . rivers . . . people who put their lives at risk so I don’t have to . . . babies . . . all the people in my life who have loved me and let me love them . . . clouds with silver linings . . . And the list goes on without end!

Not only may doing this bring tears, it lifts my spirit and swells my heart with how incredibly wonderful my life is—even in the midst of a pandemic. It reminds me that the purpose of life is to enjoy (to be in joy) life. Being grateful for everything, puts me on the path to joy no matter what may be happening around me. For me . . . I’d trade misery for joy every day of the week . . . every day of my life. Gratitude—being grateful—lets me do that.

I used to keep a gratitude journal; tonight I start a new one, again. Every night before I turned off my light to go to sleep, I would think of and list five things from my day for which I was grateful. For a while it was hard to come up with five. Soon it was hard to stop at five; sometimes I’d fill a whole page, or more. Eventually, I filled a whole notebook. Try this, you may find it doesn’t just make it easier to fall asleep at night, it can actually change your life…or at least the way you look at it, and how you feel about it. Is it good…or…is it bad…or is it all good? The choice is yours, ours and mine.

Don’t forget to start your list…

SIP Note # 11 from Tony Pino

Memorial Day

May 25, 2020

Pale soldier, head bent backward with purple lips

and gray-green eyes, fixed on an angel I cannot see.


the young man’s feet are plugged in rubble, and

metallic flies assemble among the stones.


They sing a dirge and then depart

To visit a dying cow beyond a stone wall


Angel, can you hear me?

What year is this?


Nineteen seventeen?

Nineteen forty


Two thousand and twenty?

Elsewhere a mother and father


will receive a letter and a medal

and the testimony of friends


a ritual overseen by angels.

SIP Note #10 from Anita Tosh

I have to apologize everybody. At least to the ones who are not having a great SIPing experience. You see, I have been asking God to make a way for me to stay home and work on my writing (among other things) and He answered my prayer! He does this for me all the time. God is so good!

I used to work part time after my retirement, but I really wanted to stay home. I am one of those strange women who love homemaking. I love cooking, baking, sewing, gardening; I even enjoy cleaning the house (within reason).

My husband works part time at an essential kind of place, and I can have lunch ready for him when he gets home. I CAN. But sometimes I get busy writing and….

Best of all, I have been able to get into a routine with my writing. First thing in the morning I check how many people have viewed my “bubbles” from Bublish. It was exciting getting to 1000. Even more exciting getting to 10,000! I have written several chapters in my next book and took online classes teaching me how to use adobe audition so that I can put out an audible version of my books.

I am sorry for those of you having a rotten time, but I am loving it.

SIP Note #9 from Carmen Von Tickner

What is this thing called SIP

Some folks just say it’s a new fling

But I don’t buy all that they say

I’ll cling to HAPPY and stay that way


I call this SIP a gift of TIME

To do the things I haven’t done

Cause doing NOTHING is a crime

And I just hate to WASTE my time


Work in my garden, pull out some weeds

Feed my rose bushes, plant some new seeds

Shred tons of paper, it does pile up

Call up my sister to share memories

Read a few books, learn something new

Arrange all those photos long overdue

Write a few letters to friends that I know

Who don’t do emails, nor chat on the phone


Return to my art, my other love

Dab on a canvas with vivid hues

Creating a picture as words to a verse

Critique or redo, to blend in the mood


My list of “to do’s” seems never to end

But honestly folks, it’s life at its best

Keeping the faith, and staying strong

Today is a blessing, Tomorrow is a Gift

SIP Note #8 from Rekha Ramani

Hello fellow creative writers,

Hope all of you are safe and well.

I’ve been watching the Task Force briefing on CNN every afternoon, and it’s getting me crazy and lower by the day. Not to get political, a friend of mine suggested NOT watching the news, and stay safe hunkered down at home.

A friend of mine said that she and her family haven’t stepped out of the house since March 20th. She does her groceries completely online. She uses Instacart and for her Indian groceries she texts!! the vendor and gets it home delivered. Whereas, I step out once a week to do my groceries. Can’t push it further than that. Somehow anytime I venture online, at some point the website stalls and keeps me on hold forever. I’ve succeeded at pick-ups from a few stores. Another friend of mine who also is an online shopper, multitasks. She’s teleworking and at the same time making an online order, doesn’t matter if she has to wait an hour till the order goes through. The point is that I don’t have the patience to shop online. To set the alarm at 3 a.m to order Indian groceries!?? No way is that doable for me. 🙂 

Of course I do get nervous before I enter a store. I say a little prayer. I have my cloth mask on, a disinfectant spray and a paper napkin in my purse. If the store doesn’t carry its own wipes, I spray the cart handle with my own disinfectant and wipe it down. I have an agenda whenever I enter a store. The goal is to move quickly, more like a sprint. For example, Walmart (close to my home) which I visit very often (not as often nowadays), I know exactly where my items are. So I know my road map very well. If there are too many people along an aisle, I skip it and move on to the next aisle. It’s like playing hopscotch. I don’t linger at a shelf, just grab and go. It makes me nervous to see people standing still and staring at shelves. I am so paranoid, that I even hold my breath (even behind a mask) when I see people who are close to me, talking. Sort of a breathing exercise. But I guess online shopping is not for me. 🙁 


I’ve had writer’s block close to three months now. But today something struck me and I wrote a poem about the current pandemic. Maybe I’ll submit it for next month’s Ink Spots. It’s nice to catch up with writing again, but would be nicer if the current pandemic ends soon and life would be easier for all of us. Praying for all of us, especially our front-liners.


Stay safe and healthy everyone! Take care.

SIP Note #7 from Scott Davidson

Where has all the time gone?

Once you were forced to shelter in place, I can imagine you thinking about all the extra time you would have. No more going to the mall. No commuting. No grocery shopping (nothing there anyway.) You could finally get caught up on all those things you didn’t have time to do before.

Hasn’t worked out that way, has it?

Wow, I can finally read that stack of books by the bed. Wow, I can make all those recipes I had been meaning to try. Wow, I can binge watch that series on Netflix, and catch up on the movies. Wow, I can wash the walls and vacuum the ceilings. I can do virtual tours of a bunch of museums.

Works great if they make the day 50 hours long. That would leave time for sleep also.

We are flooded with emails and articles giving us suggestions on filling up our copious free time. Pay too much attention to them and you’ll find that when things open again, you’re further behind.

This is nothing new to me. Before I retired, I walked around the house and made a list of the things I wanted to do, which could range from cleaning out a drawer to reading my 2,000 unread science fiction books. Do that, and then you can figure out what’s most important to you, and close your eyes to all the “these 20 books that are great to read” articles.

Do that, and you might even find some time to get some writing in. That’s what we’re about, isn’t it?

SIP Note #6 from Tish Davidson

A SIP Dinner Party

For the past six months I have been part of three couples who have tried to find a date to get together for dinner. Someone always had a conflict—vacation plans, volunteer commitments, new grandchildren to welcome into the world, health problems, surgeries, more health problems. Time passed. The reasons continued. Dinner never happened.

Then along came Shelter in Place. Who would have guessed it would be the perfect time for a dinner party—a virtual one. Consider the advantages to virtual dining. No need to clean the house.  No expense of buying groceries for a crowd. No need to find a recipe to accommodate guests special needs:

  • lactose intolerance
  • gluten free
  • eat only organic
  • vegetarian
  • vegan
  • allergic to seafood
  • allergic to nuts
  • on the paleo diet
  • on the keto diet
  • on any diet

To dine virtually, pick a date and time. Each couple cooks their own food to meet their special needs. At that time, they set up their laptop on the table where they are eating. To connect, each diner or couple sets up a free Zoom account and they choose a host for the dinner meeting. Everyone connects eats and chats, and voila—virtual dinner!

SIP Note #5 from Amber DeAnn

I was at the end of my rope. Jobs and work kept eating up my time, sucking my energy and leaving me feeling drained. Worse of all, my spirit was unhappy. Deep inside me I could feel the yearning for time, space, and creative freedom growing larger and larger. I could feel my expressive inner child growing restless and impatient.


The unfinished art piece waited patiently for my return and sadly every day I walked past it saying, “maybe tomorrow.” The huge stack of unread books captured my attention and called to me, “We are here for you. Where are you?”


 Something inside was about to crack and it was not going to be pretty.


Then Coronavirus hit and soon I got the word—I was furloughed from the inventory job, furloughed from the housecleaning job, the Census job was postponed, and my coaching client was gone. My life was upside down. I stared at the walls, unable to believe the bombshell that had been dropped on me.


Slowly, I remembered my teachings — “When you are unhappy, help someone else” (AAA advice) and “Gratitude opens doors,” (all spiritual teachers).

I felt the urge to make FB Lives sharing my gratitude. Yes, I will do this. I reached for one of my favorite books from the bookcase, flipped the pages and felt a calming satisfaction come over me. I tapped the FB button on my cell phone, then the Live button, positioned the iphone in the holder and I talked. The words gushed from inside me, bypassing my brain, entering cyberworld.

I was alive and functioning again. My heart was excited, my soul happy, my spirit calmed and my passion on fire. I smiled at the books who were my savior, my support, my teachers in that moment. I sighed, realizing being a teacher of practical mysticism was my passion. It was the reason I existed, and it was the source of my inner joy.

The FB views started to grow, the comments intruded into my FB Live meditations, they flooded onto the FB pages, and popped up in my FB messages.

My heart felt joy.  My face smiled. I knew I would read the books now and plan to be a speaker and build my online community.  This was the shove I needed to move into truly being a teacher and healer.

Thanks Corona. 



SIP Note #4 from Sue Curtzwiler

With All Your Heart

Make a routine, chart your projects, create your own recipe, read, or take a nice walk in the neighborhood. These are a few things that might help adjust to shelter-in-place (SIP). Social limitations are not familiar to some of us. Think of something you really enjoy, your “go to place”. You might want to start by writing a routine. Whatever you choose — own it, do it with all your heart.

Cooking is my sandbox, my “go to place.” I love to work with new vegetables, spices, and how to combine them with a main entrée or make a solid vegetarian meal. No, I’m not a vegetarian; occasionally, it’s fun to have variety. Recently, following a recipe in a new cookbook, I needed Star Anise (a slight licorice note) to make a cherry sauce for pork chops. This was before (SIP) was our way of life, but it still was a good excuse to get out. Tonight, my own creation, I sliced a yellow beet into chicken tenders, sliced cherry tomatoes, quinoa, the juice of ½ a lemon, and a little butter. Putting together what’s on hand is how I cook with all my heart. Tonight, I fought the lack of socializing.


SIP Note #3 from Tony Pino

Dear Friends – Today is Saturday, it’s National Poetry Month and I’m “sheltering in place.” In this new pandemic, I frequently sit at a window at the front my house, grading papers and watching dog-walkers, joggers and baby-pushers as they pass by in a springy spirit, garbed in loose pastels and other strong colors. What’s wrong with these people?  Why are they so happy? It seems unfair.

Then the thought comes that I may be the problem, not them.  Yes, it’s true: It’s me, really. Once I read an essay titled “My Poet: Why Do Poets Spend More Time Waiting Than Writing?” by Naeem Murr. (It’s a great read; try it sometime). In this essay, Murr frequently finds his lover staring out a window, just as I’ve been doing this very minute—apparently watching and waiting.

But for what?   

(There goes one now: a middle aged woman walker in black pants and a dark lavender sweat jacket, walking her sweet, cappuccino-colored spaniel. I saw her just recently as I was laboring in my front yard. “Hi, Tony,” she said. Not recognizing her, I smiled in return, and waved unassurely.

How did she know my name? Is there a meaning in this? Were we friends (or enemies) in some previous existence? Was she a flower or a raging dinosaur, and I a lumbering near-extinct bird? If she had been a flower, was I a bee, come-a-courtin’ for her honey? Or was I another form of bee-ing?)

If you have time, sit at a window during this National Poetry Month and era of shelter-in-place. Send me a message; let me know if you learn anything from this passive process.

Here comes another jogger. This one is wearing a thick, black mask. Now we’re getting somewhere! It’s an ambivalent moment. Wake up, poet!

But wait. I haven’t finished grading this paper. It’s been an hour now.   


SIP Note #2 from Terry Tosh

So, Day 22

I am finding out just how true it is that those that are “too busy” are the most productive!

Since I am now in the at-risk category, and most experts recommend we self-isolate, as well as recommending to our family members to stay in other areas of the house to avoid one side or the other of the crisis, it is becoming harder and harder to get out of my rocker/bed/bathroom.

The big excursion of the day is walking the dog. Weekly trip to early admission to grocers. Yard work beckons. Rake practically jumps into my arms. Ok, so I accidentally stepped on the tines, giving it that feeling of an unexpected hug…

Ok! Did one row, is it time for a nap? YEP.

I think this probably has something to do with inertia, maybe?

Hey, I did manage to go on that super long, um, longish bike ride last week; or was that 2weeks ago, already? Yeah, when I still had some semblance of strength left. You know, the one where I only used my “pedal-assist” part of the time, on the way, till I stopped at that duck pond, way down there…at least 3-4 miles…of flat ground.

Then the migraine came on and rescue was required for the return trip. I mean, well, dinner was going to be ready! Oh, lunch? Seemed later.

Thanks, honey, for the rescue. Maybe I’ll go not quite so far this time…bike looks fine. Weather looks good. (Yawn), maybe in a little while.

Keep the Faith!


Terry Tosh

SIP Note #1 from Nancy Guarnera

March 31st

This can certainly be a trying time, scary even. I’d like to pass on something I heard today. We humans like to feel we’re in control and right now, that sense of control feels like it’s being challenged. But, in fact, we have lots of things we can control and focusing on those things can help us stay sane in this crisis. Yes, our regular routines are upended. But, we can choose to create a new routine that helps us move through our day in a way that balances the things that we all need:  sleep; companionship; healthy food; physical activity; something to replace our “work” with, that we actually enjoy doing and perhaps allows us to pursue a passion that under normal circumstances we rarely have time for; and some kind of spiritual practice — yoga, prayer, meditation, journaling, singing, music, daily inspirational quote, etc. Who’s going to stop you? Your cat, your dog, your spouse, your landlord, your parakeet? They may already be doing this. You can, too. Taking back control of your day-to-day experience can be very empowering. We are all creative by our very nature as human beings, and we can create a life that we enjoy if we choose to do so, even when we are sheltering in place (SIP). Now is a perfect time to do this.

Don’t forget to do some deep breathing, if you find yourself panicking.

I like to think of challenges as opportunities I’m being given to learn and grow beyond my currently perceived limitations. Ultimately, my responsibility in any situation, is my ability to respond to the situation. How I do that, is entirely up to me.

And this has finally happened: 

March 31st: I also heard someone suggest that we should all be wearing “masks” whenever we’re in the presence of another. Actually, wearing a bandana or a scarf will help, since masks are at a premium right now. This could become the new CoronaV fashion statement. Anything we can do to keep ourselves and others safe can make a difference.

April 5th: Gentlepeople, make a personal statement with your “Marf,” (your mask/scarf). Yet one more way we can bring a playful,creative, personal touch to our experience. Darn, most of my “marves” are in storage, I think!

Stay happy, healthy, safe, and sane…the choice is yours!