How are you spending your Friday night in the Time of Corona? My husband and daughter and I will watch a “Parks & Rec,” then she will run away to her room and my husband and I will watch the season opener of “Ozark.” The dog will join us for both shows. Things are a little – quiet. And I am grateful for that! But many thanks also to Lynn and Jack May for livening things up and making me laugh…

What is your state of mind, Lynn? Jack?

Lynn: Hello Jennifer. It is a good thing that we imperfect humans are still able to hold mutually conflicting attitudes and ideas in our minds and hearts at the same time. I am a bit antsy. I want to go back out and see people and do things. On the other hand, being at home with a schedule is not so bad. Jack and I have spent a lot of time together, a pleasant reminder that we had better be practicing our good manners in a smaller space than usual. 

Jack: Optimistic

What’s the biggest hardship? What do you miss most?

Lynn: I used to spend a lot of time with other women. I am great at going out to lunch. I like to see my children and grandchildren whenever I wish (or get invited).

Jack:  Giving up tightrope walking

What are you secretly or not so secretly enjoying?

Lynn: It’s probably no secret, and before long it will be painfully obvious,  that we are eating more, and on the dot of 5 pm, settling in with a wee dram of Scotch and cheese and crackers BEFORE we have dinner. And I am cooking up a storm. Even some new dishes.

Jack: The phone not ringing

What’s your best coping strategy for Life in the Time of Corona so far?

Lynn: Someone in our family calls every day. We know more about what they are doing than we knew before CV. Two of our children are on the medical front lines. Dr. Nancy Brown is the head of the Yale/ New Haven Medical School and Hospital system, making crucial decisions constantly. Dr. Rob Lance is an anesthesiologist working in several hospitals in Dallas. 

Jack: Making myself really believe it is happening and enjoying it

Have you left the house since Nashville’s “Safer at Home” order went into effect?

Lynn: Only once or twice, such as Walgreens. For many years I told my boys what to do, and often they did it….I hope they did it. Now they tell me what to do. I do it.

Jack: Cleaners, Walgreen’s, Kroger, anything Lynn wants

Favorite delivery service?

Lynn: Dani Kates will make you or yours something delicious and bring it to you. 

Jack: Vanderbilt Obstetrics Group

What essential supply are you stocked up on? What do you wish you had more of?

Lynn: When my mother was alive she always had huge stocks of paper goods and a lot of artificial sweetener. Who knows about the sweetener? We all laughed about it a great deal. Now I have a lot. I am so glad my boys can’t see it.

Jack: Dial Soap

Have you watched any great TV shows or movies in the last year or so that you would recommend? What are you watching now?

Lynn: We may be the only people in America who failed to watch “Downton Abbey” when it first came out. About that time I attended a party where a host dressed as Carson greeted us at the door. I failed to appreciate it fully at the time. But we are enjoying it now. “The Durrells in Corfu” I liked just as much, but it was shorter. We tried “Outlander” for a whole season. Too much violence for me and I was not certain that Jack understood the sex 🙂

Jack:  “Durrells in Corfu,” Netflix – 26 episodes; “Downton Abbey,” Amazon – 47 episodes 


What are you reading right now? What have you read in the last year or so that you would recommend?

Lynn: Jennifer Kyle left Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile on my doorstep. I did not even know he had a new book out, but it is perfect for this time or any time. We have all read biographies of Churchill but in this book you will get to know things you never knew before, things that will make you feel as though you too were a guest at his table, overhearing the jokes and the gossip and the angst and the tension. Most readable.  

I am also reading The Weight of Ink, a recommendation from Celia Walker at the Vanderbilt Libraries. Fascinating and very dense.  

Last year my favorites were the Oxford Medieval Mysteries (7 of them) by Ann Swinfen.

Jack: Bad Blood by John Carreyou. Astounding tale, trial coming later this summer. A bright, pretty Stanford coed fools everyone, from the Walgreens Board to Henry Kissinger

What is your advice for friends trying to stay mentally healthy in this trying time?

Lynn: Remain grateful.

Jack: How often does this happen? Hope we can enjoy it.

Bonus Question: How is your family doing? Is everyone coping pretty well? Anyone going crazy yet? Lynn, would you mind sharing some photos that your son has taken while birdwatching? 

All of our children are out there in the world, working, including the older grandchildren. We are all coping and I am praying for them and for others.

I will send you Tom’s latest from the Piedmont Reserve on my phone… Many birds and a snake.  Is that a metaphor for this time?

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Northern Parulas (called down from the treetops with the Sibley app)


“I also got up close and personal with two large black rat snakes, the biggest of which I literally stepped on as I was sneaking across fallen tree trunks trying to get to a bird without making a lot of noise in the leaf litter. That got the blood pumping!” (Photos & commentary, Tom Lance)