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Fading Out: Aging and Beyond RSS feed

85+ things to do (listen, watch, read, share, do) during the pandemic

Updated and expanded 7-14-2020. The list keeps growing!

Originally 55+ things to do during the pandemic    (April 2020)


• Watch the amazing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Chroma, Grace, Takademe, Revelations (Lincoln Center at Home -- and at the Movies, 2015)
Cool science sites for kids (Do safe experiments at home!)
Parent Resources: Maryland Public Schools (a nifty list of links to activities and learning aids for kids to do while homebound. Sorted by grade level.)
All About Birds (the Cornell Lab's bird guide)
---Bird Song Opera (ShakeUp, a sound forge for original music and sound design for film, advertisement, events and interactive applications, based in Berlin)
---Merlin Bird ID Cornell Lab's bird identification app (available only on the App Store for iPhone)
Smart Bird ID (with this bird ID app you can identify bird by camera or microphone--that is, by sound)
---Scroll to bottom for links about building bird houses for various types of birds.
Kids vs. Plastic (National Geographic) Save the Earth from plastic with this DIY crafting series of easy-to make, eco-friendly party favors and school gadgets. Watch and learn how to make jeans pencil cases, paper jewelry beads, reusable sandwich bags, and more!
Clean and disinfect your home (video, CNN how-to lesson)
Start gathering and telling your family history. See Good interview questions for the family and The art and craft of interviewing (Pat McNees's site) and Great interview questions and guides (Telling Your Story). Do some of it on Zoom!
• Talk "face to face" with your friends and family on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. See Using Zoom for a family or office teleconference call (or class)
Tree Identification Guide (Tree Musketeers, an informative site) As you walk see how many types of trees you can identify. This site has great explanations, identifications and many pictographic charts all about trees. Learn about the differences between various conifer and broadleaf trees.
Learn where journalists get their medical news and updates(Writers and Editors)
• Participate in Virtual fitness classes (Senior Planet)
• Explore100 years of veterans stories from World War I to the Iraq War (The History Channel)
• Watch events from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (archived--watch free)
Standing Pilates for Seniors (The girl with the Pilates mat) 30 minutes of exercise.
• Watch the free webcast of the Paris Review Lit Fête: A Virtual Celebration of Writers and Writing(June 9, 8 pm). Indeed, many literary conferences will probably be going virtual this year! See Writers conferences, workshops, book fairs, and other learning places
I spend my day working in the hospital. Then I come home and bake. (Tamal Ray, Opinion, WaPo, 4-13-2020) The only thing I can do in the face of a global disaster is focus on the patients in front of me and keep myself and my colleagues safe.But in my kitchen, my quiet corner of the world, I still have control.
• Check out Pourhouse Trivia, which hosts online trivia games every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the pandemic.

TED’s summer culture list: 114 podcasts, books, TV shows, movies and more to nourish you ( This list is divided into three buckets: “Things to listen to (primarily podcasts)”;“Things to read (basically books)”; and “Things to watch (mainly TV shows and movies)”<.
• ****Listen to Dozens of really good radio talk shows and podcasts (a curated list of excellent programs, with links)
• Listen to Sidedoor (podcasts from the Smithsonian)
• ***Stream all of the Library of Congress author webcasts from the National Book Festival (two decades' worth) H/T Holly Pollinger.
• Watch Carnegie Science programs on YouTube--on various topics, including the MESSENGER space probe; Life at the Extremes: Microbes, Salt and Pressure; and other topics.
Dancing ballet at home (les danseurs de l'Opéra de Paris dancing alone together, by videoconference). Play this where children can watch and see if they don't join in.
• Learn the difference between memoir and autobiography and start writing your life story, or your family (hi)story.

• Read memoirs and personal accounts of vocation, avocation, occupation, profession -- "calling"
• Read memoirs about friendship, family, and other relationships
Choose the music you want played at your (or someone else's) funeral or memorial service.
Missing Sounds of New York (NY Public Library)
Coronavirus: A Book for Children (with artwork by The Gruffalo’s Axel Scheffler) Read free online.
Facing the Rising Tide (The New Group) A free digital festival of play readings and conversations about environmental racism, the climate crisis and hope.
Stories from Audible For as long as schools are closed, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids. All stories (including Harry Potter) are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
A digital directory of remote learning resources (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators)
Remember Books? Researcher Shows How Reading Is Superior to Screen Time (Nick Zagorski, Psychiatric News, 3-20-2020)
Small free libraries offering solace amid virus shutdowns (Michelle A. Monroe and Russell Contreras, AP/, 5-17-2020) More people have been selecting and donating books since the pandemic.
Running list of Kids and YA Lit available free online during the crisis (Publishers Weekly links)
Free Online Book Access for Students and Kids (Publishers Lunch links)
Learn at Home Materials (Scholastic projects to keep kids reading, thinking, growing)
Listen online to 'The Moth'
• Read about story structure and the art of storytelling
• Read Will Storr on the Science of Storytelling (8 Longreads)
• Listen to old episodes of This American Life and all the other really good (intelligent) radio talk shows and podcasts. Do this while cleaning the house, working on your car, or organizing the garage!
• Stream Films and video from the Library of Congress (all free), as described in Film Treasures, Streaming Courtesy of the Library of Congress (New York Times story plus links, 4-3-2020)
What to Stream: Eighty-Three of the Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now (Richard Brody, The Front Row, New Yorker, 4-10-2020)
The Best Movies on Amazon Prime Video Right Now (Jason Bailey, NY Times, 4-16-2020)
The 50 Best Movies to Watch With Your Parents During Quarantine (Nate Jones, Vulture, 3-31-2020)
The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (Jason Bailey, NY Times, 4-14-2020)
The 100 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (Brian Tallerico, Vulture, 4-10-2020)
The Best Documentaries on Netflix Will Change How You See the World (Hilary Weaver and Esquire Editors, 4-10-2020)
The 50 Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now (Noel Murray, NY Times, 4-17-2020)
Stream 80 Indigenous Films from Latin America & the Caribbean for Free on YouTube (Repeating Islands)
Selections from the National Film Registry (YouTube playlist) Check out "The House I Live In" with a young Frank Sinatra, made in 1945.
Read "Why's This So Good?" (a"collaboration on the magic of long-form stories" (Nieman Storyboard pieces that explore what makes classic narrative nonfiction stories worth reading). And then
Read outstanding examples of narrative nonfiction online
New Netflix documentary tells the bittersweet story of a lesbian couple forced to keep their love secret for 60 years (Lily Wakefield, Pink News, 4-23-2020)
• Watch the wonderful Sondheim tribute: Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), an organization that connects performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S., encouraging them to break the cycle of poverty. You can Donate here.
Television (wonderful YouTube video, a historic celebration of TV on its 10-year anniversary. "It is much like a radio in appearance.")
• ****Discover addictive and wonderful TV and cable shows (Writers and Editors)
• Do a virtual tour of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. From close-up examinations of some the collection’s best-known works to 360-degree virtual strolls though the museum, the website is the ticket to a perfect (and socially distanced) excursion for art lovers.
We're All Homebound -- The Coronavirus Song Claire and Mel Vatz (of Pittsburgh) sing an ode to our pandemic, to the tune of the Simon & Garfunkel classic “Homeward Bound.”
For the Longest Time Phoenix Chamber Choir (Vancouver's super a capella choir) sings Quarantine version of Billy Joel song.
• Follow the lead of the talented LeBaron family singing 'One Day More' from Les Misérables to Karaoke.
Senior Gold Dance Workout (exercise class at home) Or try this one: 20 minute exercise workout for Beginners and Seniors
COVID safety precautions (sung to The Sound of Music, Do Re Me)
Quarantine Music Video "Dance Song (for the End of the World)" - Lizzy & The Triggermen a 5-minute dance video pick-me-up for those getting Cabin Fever
Watch one of the National Zoo's webcams Watch the cheetah, the naked mole, the giant panda, the lion, or the elephant!
• Read Becoming by Michele Obama, and/or watch the documentary (on Netflix).v
Authors: Plan your literary estate (blog post, Writers and Editors)
Check out blogs and podcasts about book publishing
12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch (video, Travel & Leisure links to the tours)
View museum art online (Google, Arts and Culture)
• (Adults:) Read F--k the Bread. The Bread Is Over. by Sabrina Orah Mark (Paris Review (5-2-2020), whose column Happily focuses on fairy tales and motherhood. (H/T Abby Rasminsky
• Listen to earlier presidents' talks: "Obama out:" President Barack Obama's hilarious final White House correspondents' dinner speech (4-30-16) George W. Bush's powerful message of hope during the coronavirus pandemic (YouTube)
Recreate classical art with things you can find at home (Sad and Useless)
See New York City nearly empty (Stephen J. Reynolds video)
Download and color in beautiful coloring books (Biodiversity Heritage Library, a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to digitize the natural history literature in their collections and make it available for open access) Download individual images or annual collections, color them, and share them on social media using the event hashtag #ColorOurCollections.
Virtual First Amendment Classroom (National Coalition Against Censorship)
• Watch trailer for The Plot Against America and decide if you want to watch the HBO series.
How to paint good (YouTube video) Bob Ross - Mountain Ridge Lake
The Classical Station (The, WCPE-FM, Central North Carolina) Can be heard online anywhere 24/7) Including free operas being streamed by the Met and the Vienna State Opera during the pandemic.
La traviata in full from The Royal Opera (YouTube, as part of the #OurHouseToYourHouse series)
Anastasia in full from The Royal Ballet, a YouTube Premiere of Kenneth MacMillan's Anastasia, a piece inspired by the true story of Anna Anderson, a woman who believed herself to be Anastasia, youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and the only survivor from the assassination of the Romanovs in 1918. <
Light Shall Lift Us: Opera Singers Unite in Song More than 100 opera singers unite (from afar) in a song of hope and solidarity for a virtual performance of LIGHT SHALL LIFT US.
Toronto Symphony Plays Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring From Their Homes (Listen to 'Appalachian Spring')
• Listen to Hour-Long Stories from This American Life.
Read up on pandemics (links to great fiction and nonfiction about pandemics through history)
• Organize all those plastic lids and containers, or have the kids do so.
Join millions of people reducing their plastic waste.

Best birdhouses (aka bird boxes, nest boxes)
---Best Bird Houses for Different Types of Birds (Perky Pet)
---How to Build a Bird Box in Your Garden (My Job Quote, UK)
---House Wren: Nest box Plan and Information (All About Birdhouses, NestWatch, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
---Nest Shelf: American Robin, Barn Swallow, Eastern and Say’s Phoebes (NestWatch and State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources)
---How to Build a Birdhouse for Martins (Will Shelton, Mother Earth News, Feb/March 1998) Martins not only eat copious amounts of insects but also scare away hawks and crows.
---Building Bird Houses for Cavity Nesters (Wild Bird Watching) Very informative, with dimensions for birdhouses for various types of birds. One size does not fit all when it comes to building bird houses. Bluebirds and House Wrens have different entrance hole sizes and floor to opening height requirements. You also must provide easy access for clean out. You can do this simply by hinging the front panel or one of the side panels or by having a removable floor or roof. And more such practical tips.
---Finally! A Bluebird House You Don't Have to Replace (Wild Bird Watching) Going Green Bluebird House by Woodlink

Largest human mattress dominoes (YouTube, Guinness World Records) Watch. Then discuss why people would go to this much trouble for this kind of honor.

H/T to Susan Pourian, Parkside Green; Jane Friedman, The Hot Sheet; Marcy Davis (Readers, Streamers, and Watchers);  Abby Rasminsky,  Lynne Lamberg, Holly Pollinger, and others!

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Practical links for Parkside Village (Bethesda, Montgomery County, MD)

(Bethesda, MD)

Crisis hotlines
Safety info, preparing for disaster, emergencies
Election info
Coronavirus-related links
Buying groceries or takeout and dining out
Food assistance programs in MontCo MD
Things to do while sheltering in place
Outdoor Maryland
Where to donate used computers
Village organizations in MontCo MD
Composting info from Mom's
 Parkside Village website and resources


Let me know in Comments section if you have further suggestions. Leave your email address in case I have questions



• Montgomery County Crisis Center (24-hour): 240-777-4000
DHHS Building 1301 Piccard Dr., Rockville, MD 20850
1-855-634-HOPE (4673)
Suicide and crisis hotlines, Maryland
• EveryMind Hotline: 301-424-0656



Voter search (where to find out if you are registered to vote, or vote by mail, in Maryland--if you aren't sure, this is where to find out.) You can use this site to
    Review your voter registration record.
    Request a duplicate voter registration card.
    Find out where to vote.
    Find out your voting districts.
    Find out your local board of elections.
    See the status of your mail-in or provisional ballot.
    View your sample ballot.

Voting Center Lookup Find your polling place.
Rules and Information for Voters (and Rumor Control)



File of Life (MontCo Fire Department) Fill this out and post it on your fridge. It enables Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel to obtain a quick and accurate medical history when a patient or family member is unable to do so.
Maryland Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) (PDF) Advance directives are legal forms, but they are NOT medical orders. Give your doctor a copy of your advance directive, but be aware of situations in which your advance directive may be ignored.

       Before you undergo a procedure or surgery, or if you have an advanced illness, it may be even more important to be sure your medical team has a copy of your Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST), as it in called in Maryland (in other states it may be called a MOST, POLST, POST, COLST, TPOPP, LaPOST, etc. The POLST form (aka MOLST, POST, MOST, ETC.) is a medical order--that's the one emergency and medical personnel are supposed to obey in a medical emergency or a life-threatening situation.

         State forms allow you to create these documents which specify the type of care you would like in an emergency medical situation; because these are medical orders signed by doctors, they are the forms emergency medical personnel are most likely to follow. Figure out what your own wishes (and possible options) are or may be in future, share your choices, and talk with your family about what you prefer. If you wish to have no life-sustaining measures taken, the family member who lives near you and sees you all the time may know that and honor your wishes; the family member who rarely sees you and feels guilty about it may want to save your life no matter what (or may want to spare you suffering, despite your wishes to make every effort to extend your life). If the family cannot agree on what care to provide, and if there is no MOLST or POLST, the emergency care medical team is likely to try to save your life, no matter what. Talk with everyone but also express your wishes in writing in a place where your wishes can be found. File one copy with your doctor(s).
Check for safety: A home fall prevention checklist for older adults (CDC and MetLife)
Preventing falls, or learning how to do them right (elsewhere on this website)
Preventing or dealing with frailty
ElderSAFE Community Resource Guide Education, advocacy, and shelter. The first program of its kind in the Washington, DC metropolitan area to provide safe temporary shelter to older adults experiencing elder abuse. (SmithLife Communities)
Preventing fraud, elder abuse, guardianship problems and romance scams (general, housing and financial fraud; home improvement scams; telemarketing and phone fraud, including IRS scams; ATM and tax fraud and identity theft; elder abuse; fraud, abuse, neglect in elder guardianship system; where to monitor credit reports, check a charity's status.
The Costs of Aging Handbook (National Aging in Place Council) Tools to make plans for late in life.
Resources for Seniors in Montgomery County (Jewish Council on Aging)
Seniors: Prepare for Emergencies (Maryland Emergency Management Agency, or MEMA) see also MEMA publications and News.



Maryland Cases of Coronavirus
COVID-19 Information Portal (Montgomery County)
Montgomery County Volunteer Center
FAQs about coronavirus in Maryland
COVID-19 Testing sites Available for Maryland residents with a valid ID (driver’s license, U.S. passport, Social Security card).
What to do if you are sick (CDC information)
Grandiff Medical Supplies (11631 Nebel Rd. in Rockville, 301-816-9100). One place to buy a pulse oximeter. One way to identify "more patients who have Covid pneumonia sooner and treat them more effectively," without waiting for a test, "requires detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter." ~ NY Times piece about hypoxia, The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients. "Covid pneumonia initially causes a form of oxygen deprivation we call "silent hypoxia" — "silent" because of its insidious, hard-to-detect nature." Even patients without respiratory complaints had Covid pneumonia.
Coronavirus: Nearly everything you need to know (links and brief summaries)
Reopening Montgomery (which phase of reopening is going on in which segments of the economy)
AARP Coronavirus Information Tele-Town Halls Thursdays | 1:00 pm | 855-274-9507. Experts share information about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself.
Montgomery County Volunteer Center Find a volunteer opportunity.




COVID-19 Essential Delivery Services - Call-N-Ride
Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities: Explore Your Transportation Options in Montgomery
Senior Transportation, Montgomery County, MD
Transportation Network Directory for People with Disabilities & Adults 50+ (PDF, February 2017) Don't know how to get where you want to go? Call CONNECT-A-RIDE for answers and assistance: 301-738-3252 (V)  703-323-6494 (V)  Basically, few rides will be given during pandemic.




Teens Helping Seniors for contact-less grocery delivery
Guide to reopened restaurants (Bethesda Magazine, 6-10-2020)
Bethesda Streetery Beginning June 10, sections of Norfolk, Cordell, and Woodmont Avenues, as well as Veterans Park. These streets will be shut down to vehicular traffic, set up with socially-distanced tables and seats that will be cleaned after each use, and we'll be able to buy food from local restaurants and enjoy it right outside their doors.
Local restaurants that are providing carryout and delivery (Bethesda Magazine, March 2020)
Groceries/Transportation in Montgomery County
Grocery delivery (the ultimate pandemic lifeline) is falling short. Consumers are reporting weeks-long waits on Instacart, Shipt and other leading platforms as demand far outpaces the supply. Check with your local village to see if they have volunteers to help elderly shoppers, in particular.




For food assistance, please call the Food Access Call Center at 311.
Food Resources / Recursos Alimenticios
Multilingual info about food assistance programs
Food Assistance Resource Directory (FARD) (Montgomery County)
Capital Area Food Bank
Adventist Community Services food pantries
Food Assistance Resource Map (Montgomery County Food Council)




85+ things to do while sheltering in place
Find a Little Free Library near you (wherever you are) This by no means links to all of them--just those that bothered to register.
Montgomery County MD Library Databases Much material for looking things up or just reading online.
Rec Room (Montgomery County Recreation) A virtual recreation hub for residents to enjoy from home. DIY arts & crafts, fitness videos, virtual classes, trips, tours and enjoyable recreational ideas for any age.
Oasis Lifelong Learning Online Progamming
Engage@HOME You Tube Channel (for caregivers) from Montgomery County Caregiver Support Program
Suburban Hospital online programming
Bringing Out the Best in Us During the Pandemic (Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director's Blog, 5-19-2020) The term “good neighbor” definitely applies to Pablo Vidal-Ribas Belil, a postdoctoral fellow at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Though Vidal-Ribas has his hands full caring for his 4-year-old son in their condo, which is located near NIH’s main campus in Bethesda, MD, he wasn’t too busy to notice that some of his neighbors were in need of help.
Montgomery County Volunteer Center Find a volunteer opportunity.



Maryland Dept of Natural Resources Links to lots of interesting outdoor stuff: Angler's log, boat registration, COMPASS Portal, Find a licensed tree expert, interactive maps, licensing and registration, Maryland fishing report, Maryland Natural Resources Police, Mobile App, online store, outdoor adventures, park and camping reservations, state tree nursery, tide finder, water access guide.
AccessDNR Official mobile app for MD Dept of Natural Resources
Parkside GREEN Nature and Wildlife at Parkside  (Susan Pourian's brainchild. Lots of birds and deer. Pablo Vidal-Rivas Belil's photos in particular are stunning. Do these as a slide show and see the photos enlarged.)




Where to donate used computers in Montgomery County, MD (MontCo Libraries excellent list and links)
Where to Donate or Recycle Electronics (EPA)
Certified Electronics Recyclers
Electronics Donation and Recycling (EPA)
How to Find a Certified Recycler (EPA)



Parkside Village website and resources (lots of useful links to resources!)
Villages in Montgomery County, Maryland (a map from HHS)
Washington Area Village Exchange (WAVE) Villages in the DC metropolitan area
Village to Village Network (a national network)





If you don't have a compost service at home*, you can bring your compostable items, food scraps, etc. to MOM's all year round.

MOM's explains the compost cycle:

"1. Eat tasty food.

2. Throw food scraps in the compost bin at MOM's.

3. Microorganisms and critters like earthworms break down the food scraps.

4. Food scraps decompose into a nutrient-rich soil amendment which helps plants grow."

Composting helps reduce your trash output and reduces landfills, trash burns, methane gasses and more. Put food waste back to work for the earth! *Compost Crew has weekly service at Parkside and a special rate for Parksiders of $20/month -- use the code PARKSIDECOMPOSTS at checkout and learn more about composting

Learn about other ways to get involved from home to help protect and restore the environment via many of MOM's partnerships with groups including the Rock Creek Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and more! Check it out!

Toilet paper sustainability scorecard Plenty of competitively priced varieties of tissue with minimal impact on forests. The Issue With Tissue report’s scorecard assigns grades to all the major brands of toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissues, as well as popular house brands at leading supermarkets and brands that have adopted more sustainable practices. (National Resources Defense Council)

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