My 2021 Lockdown /Snow Day To-Do List

What’s a work-a-holic to do when the To Do list is neverending and winter is looming? Make a new To Do list of “not work” things to do, that’s what.

The truth of the matter is that it’s unlikely that my state or city will be going back into any form of lockdown this winter. But if we have a surge in COVID infections like last winter, especially of a variant that breaks through vaccinations, that could mean my household will decide to self-quarantine. Or there’s the possibility that extreme weather will visit us this winter in the form of heaps of snow and we’ll be snowed in. I’m almost hoping that happens a couple of times. Remember snow days as kids? A day off from school to stay in, play games, and read books while sipping cocoa? I could use the break, to be honest…

And if we end up back in some kind of quarantine, that’s the energy I want to take into it this time. Cozy time. So I’m daydreaming on what I’ll do. (Yeah, yeah, I know I’ll still probably work-work-work. But let’s dream a little, okay?)


I bought a lot of books recently that deadlines have kept me too busy to read. Among the ones I’m looking forward to the most:

  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan
  • The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian
  • The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
  • The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite
  • How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
  • Ronin by Emma Mieke Candon (it’s on order and about to come in…)
  • One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (which I ordered from Porter Square Books and still have to go pick up…)

I’ll note that while of course you can buy any of these books through Amazon (here, use my Amazon referral link if that’s your preference) you can also place your order through a local independent bookstore like Porter Square Books in Cambridge, or Powell’s (Portland), or Third Place Books (Seattle), among many others who need support. If you visit the website Indiebound, you can search for the independent bookstore nearest you, and even find out which books they have in stock. Many of them ship, too!

I’ve also been building up a backlog of copies of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which I subscribed to when Sheree Renee Thomas took over as editor, but they’ve just been piling up.

Learning Japanese

During 2020 my household went through the whole bingo card of “things to do during lockdown” including Jess learning to play ukelele, me cleaning out my office and bedroom (and building some new furniture), indoor herb gardening, and all three of us started learning Japanese. We all took a course through the Boston Japanese Language School, and I’ve kept up with those classes, but all three of us have been using online tools as well.

The two main tools I’ve been using are:

  • Duolingo – which makes language learning kind of into a game
  • Kanji Teacher – which gives practice writing the characters as well as learning to read them

What I’d really like to add to my Japanese learning regimen is something like a weekly half hour conversation practice, either with an AI or with real people, but so far I haven’t quite found the right platform for that. If anyone has suggestions of forums or apps I could try, please let me know!

Gaming & Puzzling

Speaking of Duolingo and the game-like experience, sometimes you just want an actual game or crossword. We’ve done some jigsaw puzzles, but they’re difficult to do in bed, when you want to snuggle up somewhere warm. We’ve got a couple of go-to’s already on the list:

The New York Times Crossword App – It’s $40 a year to subscribe to just the crossword, but it gives you access to every day’s puzzle, as well as the Spelling Bee, and the Mini Crossword.

Solitaire.orgThe ultimate collection of Solitaire games!
This website is an old-school collection of browser games, including a few hundred variations of the Solitaire card game. But there are other games, too, including some similar to Candy Crush, but also one that I found really addictive: China Temple. It’s a “hidden object” game, where you go through levels clicking on the images you need to find: vases, numbers, and “find the difference” images. I could literally do this all day. Two tips if you get into hidden object games: don’t forget to blink your eyes (or use lubricating drops) once in a while, and make sure to turn OFF if you have software the changes the color of your screen to mimic sunset or reduce eye strain like F.Lux or Iris, because muting the colors will make it harder! I think it’s also a little bit easier to play on a tablet than on a laptop or monitor with mouse.

This is what I’ll be doing when I’m not curating my Pokemon in Pokemon Go!

A screen capture from me playing China Temple, a hidden object game.

What will you be doing on your “snow days” or other quiet days in the coming months?


  1. My housemate has an old digital camera I’d like to learn to use, if all its cables and everything are in there; that’s been on my list since last year.

    Culling some more books and dropping them off at nearby Little Free Libraries.

    And I’d like to collapse and/or dispose of some of the empty cardboard boxes in the basement.

    1. When we cleaned out our basement last year, some friends came and took several cartons of Circlet overstock books away and stashed them in Little Free Libraries around town. 🙂

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