April 2020 newsletter: We’re all working from home these days

March 26, 2020

Like many high-end magazines, I’m posting my April newsletter at the end of the previous month. Please do not freak out. And now on to our regularly scheduled newsletter.

Howdy, folks.

This Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sure has made a mess of things, hasn’t it? Hopefully, we can halt the spread of this thing pronto. And hopefully, your families, friends and livelihoods will not have been too adversely affected.

We’ve been more fortunate than many. My wife, Kimberly, who falls into a higher risk category than some, was allowed to start working from home before it was

Kimberly works from home
Author, full-time Cummins Inc. employee, maker and seller of essential oil bracelets, Kimberly Hoffman, works from home.

fashionable/required. I’d been working from home anyway (apart from occasional sojourns to local doughnut and/or coffee shops). We’ve adjusted to our individual work environment needs fairly well, I’d say (I think she would, too).

We recently ordered groceries to be delivered to our house. Not sure what will be available when they put our order together. We might end up with six cases of spicy pinto beans and a four-pack of avocado yogurt instead of the year’s supply of frozen pizzas I need – yes, need.

Another area of life that has been disrupted is date night; no more going to places where we used to go (theaters, restaurants, music establishments, etc.). We’re doing what we can to support the local, independent businesses we’d supported in the past, but all our author and craft sales events for the foreseeable future

Donut Central work
The good old days, when I could work from doughnut/coffee shops. Here at Donut Central in Columbus, Indiana. That is not mustard on my doughnut; it is lemon glaze, lovingly drooled across a moist blueberry cake doughnut.

have been postponed or canceled.

If anybody wants to buy one of our books, we’d appreciate it; it will allow us to keep supporting our neighbors and friends who haven’t been as fortunate. Click here for details on how to purchase my books. Click here for info on Kimberly’s books. Thanks!

On a less serious note, I am unable to get my hair cut for a while, so the hippie look is about to be in again. Tie-dyed shirts and groovy bell bottoms can’t be far off.

Even with all that’s going on, we still get out of the house, mostly for walks (warmer weather means the bicycle will get more use). I managed to find $2.87 in lost coins on walks through the first 25 days of March. At that rate, I’ll have saved enough to buy half a roll of toilet paper on the black market by Thanksgiving.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, we’ve managed to keep our sanity. Sort of. Life has gone on for us, better or worse. Here are some of the non-virus-related highlights/lowlights for March:

Getting together

Before we had to stay at least 6 feet away from one another and greet one another with a bow and curtsy from afar or through video chats, we hung out in groups to do things.

Things like meet former co-workers in John Mellencamp’s hometown (Seymour, Ind.) as

CB and Me
From left: Kent Lowry, Catherine Breitenbucher, Kimberly Hoffman, Paul Hoffman at Rails Craft Brew and Eatery in Seymour, Indiana.

they were passing through the area. Cathy Breitenbucher, and her husband, Kent Lowry, both worked with me at the old Milwaukee Sentinel back in the late 1980s. We had a fine time over dinner at Rails Craft Brew & Eatery with them, and their daughter, Greta, chatting about the good old days, the good new days, sandwiches, and other stuff.

One of our favorite places in the world, The Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin, Ind., hosted a showing of the movie, “The MisEducation of Bindu,” which was filmed in Indianapolis and Trafalgar. We absolutely loved the film, which is about a bullied Indian teen who forges her mother’s signature to test out of high school before discovering she must ask help from the students she desperately wants to leave.

My wife also sold Harry Potter-themed essential oil bracelets at a Harry Potter-themed event in Indianapolis before everything started getting axed from our schedules.

I’m a Publisher and I’m OK

I recently stumbled upon a new job title to add to my resume: that of publisher. Originally, I was going to serve as editor for a book of memoirs and lyrics by longtime Milwaukee musician Rob McCuen. But he asked if I’d publish it, too, and after fighting like the dickens with a design program I’d never used to design, we got “Shut Up and Robs book_Front cover FINALListen: Me vs. Me – Confessions of a Bipolar Rock and Roller” to Lulu, one of the top self-publishing sites out there. For more details, and to purchase, search for it by title or author here. Rob will also have copies.

I don’t have a direct link to the book yet as I’m waiting for the test copies to arrive for quality assessment, and I need to add one tiny little thing before it’s available to the public. But it won’t be long at all.

Not sure how many books I’ll publish (this might be the only one), but 18% Gray Publishing at least has this one.. The name pays homage to the color of that gray bar at the bottom of newspaper pages that helps  printers get all the colors right. It’s actually 18% black, but it looks gray, so we call it 18% gray.

My foreword in the book says this, in part: “What lies herein isn’t pretty. It’s a raw, unflinching, unadulterated, undeterred, examination of the life of a fighter ― someone who not only has fought the manic ups and paralyzing downs of bipolar I disorder, but also someone who has fought his own raging anger, uncontrolled desires, and a fear of showing any fear. He’s also fought those who are closest to him and love him the most, and he has also fought himself.”

After struggling with tasks as simple as putting the page numbers on the proper pages CS2(Gee, thanks fer nothin’, Word), I bought Adobe Creative Suite CS2, which included InDesign, the program I used at work for 15 years. Yay! This is going to be a snap if I ever do this again! Not so fast. Adobe no longer supports CS2, a really old version from like back in the 2000s. So, I couldn’t even load it onto my computer.

Bad things, man. Bad things.

Right now, I’m not sure what I’ll do about this. Stay tuned for updates to this heart-wrenching saga.

Ailment of the Month

The month started with me suffering nasty headaches and ringing in my ears. The cause? Poor posture while sitting at my computer for a gobton of hours per day, not doing the gobton of neck stretching exercises that my chiropractor instructed me to do, stress, and probably a few other things. (Note: a gobton is more than a buttload, but less than a metric crapton).

A trip to the chiropractor, a couple of massages, some anti-inflammatory medicine, and a rededication to the stretching have proven beneficial.

Oh, and I got a new prescription for my glasses. My right eye went three clicks worse since the last exam, and the cataracts are just that much cloudier, but not bad enough where insurance will pay for fixing things. Hip, hip, hurray! At least I can spot loose change on the streets better now. (Perhaps I shouldn’t say “hip;” that could be the next thing to ail me).

Miscellaneous stuff

Crashed car
My poor Cobalt.

It’s hard to buy a car during a shutdown of all non-essential businesses. At least I can look online. Needing another vehicle after my youngest daughter was involved in a crash that totaled my lovely Chevy Cobalt. Fortunately, the aforementioned daughter was OK, but for some soreness and inflammation from the airbag and seat belt.

I continue to bake and consume Irish oat flapjacks at amazing pace. The last two batches were raisins and dates, then dates and walnuts. They’ve got to be good for you. And right here is a short video of the wet ingredients being lovingly melted on the stove top: Irish butter, light brown sugar, and maple syrup.

What’s next?

The immediate future has me finishing off Rob’s book and promoting that.

I’m also going back to working diligently on my novel, “3 Months in Dublin.” I’ve got about 62,000 words and plan to end up a little over 100,000, I’d guess. JP has just gotten  fish bites and garlic cheesy chips at Dublin’s oldest chipper, Leo Burdock in the Christchurch section of Dublin, and eaten them while enduring an anxious moment at nearby St. Patrick’s Park.

There’s no author events for at least the next month. I’ll let you know when we’re back up doing that sort of thing.

Here’s to hoping life gets back to “normal” ASAP.



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