Figuring It Out, Safely Social

Does it seem like this isolation is never going to end?  As much as I know that someday it will, and we will be able to get back to our fun times, meetings and social events, for now we just have to find a way to bridge the gap.  But boy, is it a big gap!  I know now what it is that bothers me about the term “social distance”.  I looked up ‘distance’ in a thesaurus, and what I found was enlightening. Some of the synonyms include all these that just emphasize the gulf between, not only physically (which is what we need to focus on, and not that far) but emotionally.  Emotional synonyms for distance included remoteness, farness, aloofness, detachment, stand-offishness, unfriendliness, haughtiness, hauteur, coolness, coldness, reserve, reticence, restraint, stiffness, formality, unresponsiveness.  Physical synonyms included range, reach, far away, far off, afar, gap, separation.  None of these have the feeling of connection across that gap.  So, I am going to stop using that term, even turning it around to “distantly social”, emphasis on the social, still has that undercurrent of separation.  But is a six foot space between friends really such a distance?  How about taking that word out altogether and change to safely social?  I think I can live with that a bit better.  And I put it into practice last week, meeting my friend, Chryste, at the Folk Art Center’s back parking lot for a visit and lunch in a shady spot.  She lives about the same number of miles north of there as I do south, so it was the perfect spot to meet.  I haven’t seen her in seven months, as our longarm guild stopped meeting.

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I have to tell you a funny story.  While we were having our picnic and chat, a car came driving slowly by and the woman at the wheel looked us over.  She then parked a short distance away.  A few minutes later, another one came, slowing down to look us over, then moving on.  Then a third car, but this one just wheeled into the parking space next to my friend’s car.  We were looking at each other, and all the empty spots everywhere and wondering, when she got out of the car, came around the back and it was someone I knew!  She exclaimed “what are you doing here?”  And I said we were having lunch.  She jokingly said “you are in our spot” and we both started laughing.  No wonder we were being stared at, LOL!!  Turns out, a small group from her guild meets in that space regularly to have show and tell, and just safely socialize.  They moved down to the next set of parking spaces to set up their picnic.  We had to walk over after we ate to show them our show and tell for the day, and see some of theirs.  I came home and made a phone call to a guild buddy. Our local guild area group should figure out a place for us to do this too.

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After a couple of visits to see friends at wineries, I have decided I feel safer where there are no strangers getting too close that might not be wearing a mask.  I don’t care for wine, so I am also uncomfortable taking up space but not supporting the business.  So, I invited a couple of close friends to my veranda to bring a lunch and have social time.  If we sit back from the table just a bit, we can be far enough apart to be safe.  It helps that all of us are very careful and stay home a lot.  I set a bit of a table for us, with my Colors of August placemats to show where to sit, with the end spots closer to one edge than the center.  I put out food covers just in case the bugs came around.  Cloth napkins with flower pot rings make it just a bit special, and I think this is OK with these particular women.  The cloths went straight into the wash when lunch was over.

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I put my Cafe sign in front of the planter of yellow torenia for a centerpiece.

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Oh, yes, sushi for me!!  Everyone brought their own lunches.

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Along with going hiking with My Sweet Babboo, I think these safely social lunches qualify as getting outside.  That is just one of several recommendations in an article on WebMD that might help on Dealing with Coronavirus Social Isolation and Anxiety.  Taking some more of those ideas, here are some things that might help our mental health. In the Get Busy category, put together a fun jigsaw puzzle like this one at C&T Publishing.  Did you know they will give you a discount code when you sign up for their newsletter?  They don’t send newsletters often, and sometimes there are sales.  Thimble Blossoms Sewing Jigsaw Puzzle

Work a fun puzzle book slanted to quilters – Happy Valley Variety Puzzles

Plan a new project with this Quilter’s Project Planner

Or just have some fun coloring with Coloring Books and Pencils like these.  Some of these patterns might be good inspiration for some free motion quilting, too.

In the Go Outdoors category, do some gardening, even if it is just getting a pretty potted plant for your kitchen or den.  Green living things lower our stress levels.

August in the Garden at

My tomato plants have been so prolific this year!  They looked denuded of leaves lately, and you can see that in the photo of my veranda table above, and I found out why.  Four tomato hornworms were destroying the leaves and had begun to munch on the green tomatoes.  My Sweet Babboo had to help me as I am a real wimp when it comes to bugs.  I tell him that it is his job to slay the dragons. He picked them off the plants, and bagged them up to go in the trash. But speaking of tomatoes, oh my, this sandwich full of fresh tomato right off the plant (well washed of course!) made a flavorful lunch.

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Another suggestion in the article is to help others, and you know by now that helping others is usually on my list.  I’ll be delivering the last of the Safelight spa bags by the end of the month.

Safelight Project 2020 at

And I’ll be helping with the promotion of the Sunset Dahlia Quilt for Bullington Gardens.  Raffle tickets are on sale now, and they will ship free to winners out of our area.  See my page Sunset Dahlia for Bullington Gardens to see all the close up photos and more information.

As we all need things to look forward to, I’m working on planning and doing some prep work for my annual Autumn Jubilee.  I am getting excited about this, the plans are coming along, and the line up of vendor sponsors and prizes is amazing!

So, I’ll be sewing this week on special secret projects, and enjoying the “Fog” creeping in on little cat feet. If you missed my post on the Carl Sandburg house, click on Hiking Connemara.

July in the Garden at

I know this post is long, and if you’ve made it this far, I’d love to know how you are staying safely social, and what plans you are making for the next few months. Stay well and be happy, dear friends!

32 thoughts on “Figuring It Out, Safely Social

  1. That is too funny about you taking their spot! I am glad you are figuring out how to manage this trying time. I really haven’t even gotten to get that close to my kids and grandkids since March, but we do use Facetime, text and phone calls. We are still in the Red Zone in the Houston area.


    You and your friends are awesome! And the surprise guests at your picnic , fun.
    Here in Texas Hill Country, we had our last tomato sandwich this week. On Facebook, I. will post a picture of our last small and bird pecked tomatoes.

  3. thatfabricfeelingcom

    What a lovely post. I think you’re being very creative and thoughtful in your activities. How strange these days are indeed. Just yesterday I sent my older mom a jigsaw puzzle. It arrives to her on Monday I believe. She may not like it but hearing how bored she is prompted me to try sending some cheer. She and my Dad live on the opposite coast from me and I feel helpless. I am grateful they are both ok, but boredom and isolation aren’t good for the soul. I’m so glad you’ve been finding healthy ways to stay busy.

  4. jesusnowand4

    We live in my parents backyard practically and my sister and her kids are across the street so we are full to overflowing! I love it, but I am hankering for time with friends as well. I talk with my friends on the phone and many times we use facetime and I love that!

  5. Mary

    These are very good ideas for meeting up with friends and just having a chatter. Very good for the soul. And they looked lovely cool spots to spread yourselves about.
    Social distancing is actually very difficult – because it is simple to stay away from people you don’t know but very hard to not get close to people you are good friends with. We all try to do the right thing but it is hard. Unfortunately there are some people that don’t seem to care or worry about it at all – that’s the danger time.
    I hope you and your friends continue to enjoy each other’s company and stay safe. The USA is having a tough time in parts, while we in NZ are in lockdown but with not so many cases. It is still an unsettling time. Take care. :))

  6. Great ideas for getting together during the pandemic. I’m not sure I have many ideas to add to your list. I did have a friend over to play Battleship once on my deck. It is hard to find many games where you only touch certain pieces.

  7. Linda B

    So glad that a few years ago we added a pergola to our deck, and they installed a ceiling fan…been able to have a few visits with friends and kids on the deck about 10’ apart with the fan going, and not too hot and feels pretty safe. Especially loved a sewing friend came and she worked on her project and me on mine, but just felt so nice to connect. Oh, and there was a little show and tell too, which is also fun!

  8. Having meetings like that are so much nicer than zoom meetings! We’ve had several park lunches, however our picnic last week was in 103* temps! A bit toasty.

    That sandwich looks delicious. I’ll miss our fresh tomatoes when the season is over.

  9. Helene m Cline

    We needed a respite during our quarantine after a visit to Texas, so my son and DIL offered their cottage on the river to us. We went out twice by ourselves, with the dogs. The peacefullness was so nice that we decided to invite another couple to join us for dinner. What a nice time we had!!
    You can stay save and still socialize by just using common sense. Be safe everyone!!

  10. Connie Wolfe

    Great social ideas! Thanks for sharing these. My sister and I hadn’t been together since February. She found a safe sounding quilting class that we started last Saturday. All of the women wear masks and all practice the six foot spacing. The shop staff were terrific about meeting people in the parking lot to also help with the mask wearing and spacing. Despite the complexity of the class (a Judy Niemeyer pattern; what were we thinking!), it was so much fun.

    The Autumn Jubilee 2020 pictures are captivating. I am looking forward to it. Fall colors forever!

  11. Because we live an hour to ninety minutes from shopping and my two quilt guilds and my quilting friends, I’m actually enjoying this time of forced distancing. No rushing to get here or there, no meetings…..just quiet time to spend with my husband, walking with our dogs (we have 80 acres to ramble on) cleaning my studio, sort through my fabric, try new recipes, tending my flower gardens, canning our garden and fruit produce, reading and listening to books on my iPad. No pressure to be any where, no meetings to attend……I’m loving it for now. The Covid Virus is pretty strong in the large towns I shop in, so every precaution is taken to stay safe and return to our mountain refuge. When this is over, I will enjoy getting back in the middle of guild meetings, meeting friends for lunch, doing shop hops with them and hiking in groups. For now, I’m CHILLIN’!!!
    Everyone stay safe, be still and listen to your heart, and be happy!!

  12. Patricia Evans

    I’ve had lunch outside at a fellow quilter’s house twice. She has hardly left her house except for medical appointments and an occasional car ride. We were joined by a third quilter this week. But our quilt group of about 20 hasn’t tried to meet either in person or digitally. We are almost all over 60 and while most are retired, I think everyone feels safer just staying home. We are fortunate that the numbers in NY are quite low and in western NY never reached the levels that NYC faced. Of course, now that the college kids have returned, we are all watching to see what happens next. The nearest college is in the next town south of us where I do go for groceries. Yard work, reading, online jigsaw puzzles and scrolling through Instagram have helped me fill the hours.

  13. That looks like a fun and pretty location to meet a friend! Love the story of the other group, too. The best “safely social” activity for me has been my weekly golf outings with a group of girlfriends that we’ve actually been able to do since mid-May. We get some exercise, (attempt to) play the game, and do a lot of chatting and laughing! The golf course has put protocols into place so that we don’t touch anything except our own clubs and bag, too. My book club and quilt group have been meeting by Zoom because we have a member who has been fighting breast cancer who can’t be around anyone, and it would leave her out if we met in a different way. I’m looking forward to Autumn Jubilee!

  14. Cindy

    Great post Carole!!! I love the idea of meeting under the trees like that!!! Especially in the mountains! And the tomato sandwich is to die for!!!! Nothing like growing your own! Love your ideas for “safely distancing”. Have a great day!!!!

  15. Sharon Vrooman

    Our guild has just loved the outdoor safe social meetings – and we all need these not too distant hugs. I have saved a nice tom from going into the sauce pot – BLTs for dinner.

  16. Mary Ed Williams

    Hi, Carole,
    I just wanted to tell you that the green tomato hornworm becomes the gorgeous lunar moth, so just toss the worms into the bushes. And, if you see the rice-looking white pieces on a worm, those are tiny wasps that are very helpful in an organic garden(forgot their name). I used to toss the worms to my chickens but stopped when I read more about their lives. I no longer have enough sun to garden so I’m really envious of your tomatoes.
    Several quilting friends and I have done the porch social distancing. Lots of fun. We sure need it,
    Mary Ed Williams

  17. Mary Ed Williams

    OK, I was told wrong many years ago. And the movie, Silence of the Lambs, scared the bejebbers out of me, but the Sphinx moth is pretty, too. The chickens did love them and were sorely perplexed when they stopped.
    Next question – how do I pay for a PDF pattern if I don’t do PayPal and how do I log onto Amazon for Dream Green for your fee ?

  18. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole, Safely Social is a much better way of addressing the circumstances we are in. I am mainly only socializing with my Mom at this time. We talk on the phone as many as three times a day sometimes and get together at least two times a week. We usually have a nice meal while playing a board game. She complains of boredom and missing her friends quite often. I am going to see if we can arrange some meetings the way that you have at some of her friends. So thank you for these wonderful suggestions! I am glad that these gatherings are happening for you and in turn they have to make everyone involved feel so much better! Plus, it also made me think about people driving by and thinking to themselves about what a splendid idea you and your friends have come up with, thereby I am sure just seeing your meetings together has inspired many other people to try the same thing!! Thanks for sharing and have a fabulous day!

  19. Just walked the beach (in La Jolla) & finally got to hold my 9 month old granddaughter! It’s been 3 wks since we last saw her & it’s so hard not being together more. They live 30 min away & it seems like an eternity right now.
    Starting new quilting projects, new books & trying to stay sane!!

  20. Joan Sheppard

    I must be the only person on the planet who is enjoying this We have been out to shop 4 times since March. I do walk the dog twice a day and I couldn’t believe how many other people have dogs! But mostly we wave and go on. We went to the Charity store (Good Will but any will do) bought a jigsaw puzzle, did it, returned it, got another, and on and on. I am fortunate, my husband goes along. I handle the door, pick up the items, pay the bill, each time I touch something he gives me a dollop of hand sanitizer. Same with groceries. But my pile of charity quilts is getting out of hand. No one can pick up and most won’t let me deliver. Library still has some issues. They were a drop off place but can’t accept now. I am burning up the phone wires though talking to friends all over the world. Remember when calls were so expensive? I even had to pay toll call fees for the other side of the same city!
    I love your Park Lot Pow Wow. Things will get back to normal soon and we will miss these quiet days.

  21. My husband and I are having friends over to our back deck tomorrow night for cocktails and appetizers. Each couple is providing their own. Our deck is large enough that we can safely socialize with each other. I love how you met your friend in the parking lot and others got to join you. Hubby and I are being extremely careful because we are our elderly moms’ caretakers. They each live in their own homes. I like the suggestions for dealing with Covid anxiety. I really wish I could get my mom interested in something like these.

  22. thedarlingdogwood

    I did my first “take-out picnic” with a friend a few weeks ago and it was really nice. I picked up dinner on my way to a local park and we found a spot with no one else around and set up our camp chairs a good distance apart. I’m glad you’re getting a chance to see friends. So funny that you picked the same spot as other quilters for your informal meetings!

  23. Looks like the idea of meeting in the parking spaces is a popular one. Great to see you making the most of it. At the moment we are in severe lock down and can’t even do that. We have a curfew and can only go out for one hour each day for essentials. Thankfully it is extremely wet and cold so no one wants to go out.

  24. Susan

    I drove to Cleveland for a retreat with a good friend. We are not maintaining 6 ft. of space as I live with her family this week! I feel quite at home and safe anyway. What about social space? Space opens things up and has a different feeling from distancing.

  25. Staying home…but lucky the grandkids are nearby and their parents are keeping safe, so we get together once a week. We live near the beach resorts but haven’t gone near them all summer because the tourists from NY, NJ, PA and MD and DC are bringing their virus with them and are not acting responsibly. I’ve been out for one bike ride in a nearby state park with the grandgirls this week. And one socially distanced quilt bee at a park in August. Otherwise it is not a lot of fun. 😦

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