The Journal Gazette
Sunday, February 28, 2021 1:00 am

Making most of downtime

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

Over the past year, life hasn't come to a complete halt for northeast Indiana residents, but it's an understatement that it has changed.

For one thing, we have had a little more time on our hands.

And because of lockdowns, shutdowns, closings and just hunkering down due to the pandemic, many of us have had to get a little creative with how we spent our downtime. 

We asked our readers how they have dealt with the pandemic and to no surprise we received a number of responses of the various ways people have made the most of this crisis. Some took up new hobbies, while others enjoyed family time, gardening, building things, and even putting together puzzles – even if a few of the pieces were missing.

One thing's for sure, for many of us, COVID-19 has offered a chance to discover something new about ourselves and our strength to get through tough times.


Carey Carlton of Fort Wayne shared a photo of one the many puzzles she completed during the pandemic. However, some of the pieces ended up missing. “Evidently my large coonhound decided a few of the pieces tasted good!” she writes. 

In addition to puzzles, Carlton decided to do a little indoor gardening. “I decided to grow my own lettuce from the romaine end! It worked!”

Skating by

“My girlfriends and I picked up roller skating!,” writes Chrissy Weadick of Fort Wayne. “We treated ourselves to a photo shoot by local photographer Ruth Yaro to commemorate the strange year.”

The brush off

“I learned to paint by numbers,” says Rebecca Karcher of Fort Wayne. “It calmed something in my anxious mind.” She is now on her fifth painting. 

Building a bridge

Fort Wayne resident Diana Furrow says she built a bridge on her property “for something to do.”

Going wild

“I spent most of my COVID summer removing invasive thistle and planting wildflowers in the field across from TekVenture Maker Space, in my project to create a fantasy park called 'Twistful Meadow,' in 2021,” says Jeannette Jaquish of Fort Wayne.

Making music

“Early on in the pandemic, I decided to make use of all the downtime by teaching myself to play a musical instrument,” says Laura Paschen of Fort Wayne. “I ordered a ukulele from Sweetwater and began taking lessons via online tutorials. The ukulele is relatively easy to learn, but I will probably take an in-person lesson when things are more normal. It's been a fun distraction, and I highly recommend it.”

Foraging for mushrooms

Christy Abels and her family picked up some new hobbies during the pandemic, including spending as much time outside as they could, the Fort Wayne mother writes. “The first new hobby we picked up was foraging for mushrooms in our woods. ... I have to say that I didn't really care for mushrooms before our foraging adventures but after discovering new ways to prepare and eat them, I'm a pretty big fan now.

“A fun thing we also did this summer was we learned about past cultures such as ancient Rome or ancient China and learned about what daily life was like, what they ate and what they wore. Then on the last day of a week of learning about the culture, we would put together what a typical meal might look like and have it that night for dinner. 

“We also tried to get outside and do fun activities since we couldn't go on vacation. We flew kites which it had been a very long time since we did that. We dusted off the tandem bike. And we decided to go ahead and set up our tent in the yard and 'go camping.'

“We tried to make the best of a scary and worrisome world we found ourselves in. And we ended up making some lovely and unforgettable memories.”

Drinks in the driveway

“Who said physically distanced driveway drinks, even in the cold, can't be fun, especially when you're not at a ski slope?” That's according to Karen Asp of Fort Wayne who has been having weekly driveway (or open garage) drinks – even on Christmas Eve – with her parents. “One thing it's drilled home for all of us: There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes,” she says. “We've definitely become masters of layering up, but of course, having a fire pit is key!”

In addition, Asp fostered her first dog. She says she was usually on the road every three weeks, but with travel halted since March, she and her husband were able to become dog foster parents. 

Rock on

“During the pandemic, I took my grandsons, Oliver and Asher, on walks around Decatur to find painted rocks,” says Linda Beer of Decatur. “Then we would post what we found on the Decatur Hide-A-Rock (Facebook) page. Asher loves it so much that we got him a rock painting kit for Christmas!”

Booked it

“My then 9-year-old granddaughter from Illinois, Hailey Landreth, and I couldn't visit for some time, so we decided to write a book together,” says Mary Ann Koontz of Fort Wayne. “We wrote letters, emailed, texted, called and used Zoom to share ideas and our writing with each other. Working on the story was such a fun and unique way to stay in touch.”

Koontz says the story is about a girl who is full of questions about starting third grade. When she gets to school, she's faced with a mystery to solve. Koontz says the book, titled “Maybe Just Maybe,” is available on Amazon. In addition, Hailey practiced writing her name in cursive so that she could sign the book with her grandmother.

Posting history

Michael Vorndran of Fort Wayne says he has been volunteering from home for the Genealogy Center in the Allen County Public Library scanning picture negatives from his old military unit of the 122nd Fighter Wing. “In 2020 I scanned almost 20,000 images dating from the early 1950s through present day,” he says. He says once he gets everything scanned, the images will be put on the center's “Our Military Heritage” website.

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