Greetings from my home/workplace in Arizona!
Last time I posted that staying home really isn’t a hardship for me since I already work from home and tend to be a homebody anyway. Looking back on the past month, I had to ask myself, if quarantine hasn’t changed my life, why am I not getting any work done?
I’ve accomplished very little in the past month, yet I seem to be spending even more time on my laptop. I’m Googling Covid-19 information, messaging with friends and family, and spending way too much time on Facebook. In my defense, most of my friends and family are on Facebook and four of them had or have the virus. It’s much easier for them to update all of us with a single post than to contact us individually.
Having said that, I also spend too much social media time watching funny lock-down videos and reading memes. It’s just hard to focus on Victorian London, when my thoughts are all wrapped up in what’s happening today. But my deadlines haven’t changed, so to get my head back in the game, I decided to have a chat with one of my characters, Frances Wynn, main character and sleuth of the Countess of Harleigh mysteries.
Frances: Lovely to see you again. It’s been an age since we’ve been together.
Dianne: Um, well, it has been a few weeks, I guess. We’re currently dealing with a pandemic, and I’ve found it a little difficult to focus. I was wondering how you’d manage your life if you were faced with a pandemic?
Frances: What do you mean by “if?” I lived through the Russian influenza pandemic in the early 1890s. It began in 1889 in Russia and though we heard about it, it seemed so far away. Then it swept westward across Europe, and we saw our first cases here in January of 1890. Some 4 million Britons were sickened in that wave alone, but we had additional waves in 1891 and 1892. I’d say I’ve experienced a pandemic. What did you want to know?
Dianne: How did you avoid it? Or did you?
Frances: I never succumbed. Likely because I spent that time in the country at Harleigh Manor. I’d just married Reggie and he deposited me there. I was stuck. On a positive note, we had few cases in that area. They say it’s because we’re a bit removed from the closest town and the train station. The virus spread through train travel and hit large cities, mostly at places of business. The men who were stricken were often solicitors, post office workers, bankers, and insurance men.
Dianne: They were all men?
Frances: They were mostly men. Odd isn’t it?
Dianne: Not when you consider how viruses are spread. You generally need face to face contact. At that time, men had that contact, and women were in the home. So, you were at Harleigh Manor, essentially doing what we’re asked to do now—shelter at home?
Frances: I suppose there are similarities. For me it was just my life. But I wonder how you manage? From what I understand of your life, you have no servants. How do you obtain supplies and provisions? Do the merchants deliver them to you?
Dianne: Most of them do, but if we have to venture out, we can, as long as we’re wearing a mask and gloves.
Frances: My dear, no lady ever leaves the house without gloves, but a mask—that’s intriguing.
Dianne: Okay, you’re holding your fingers around your eyes. I’m talking about a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
Frances: So only your eyes show! That’s even more intriguing!
Dianne: Yes, well, now that I’m staying at home, I feel like I understand you a little better, like we have something in common.
Frances: Yes, you, me, and the rest of the world. But the question is: does this kinship inspire you to write?
Dianne: Yes, it does! I’m actually looking forward to it.
Frances: Well, it’s about time! I do have more stories to share. So, let’s get on with it, shall we?