Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Betsy & Meade: A Few Thoughts on FOGO and Fava Beans…


My FOGO (“Fear of Going Out”) is worst in the morning after skimming too many articles on Apple News (even with the fortification of a second strawberry Pop-Tart and second cup of tea). It’s only when I go outside and water the flowers that I’m not as scared of the world. My fear tends to diminish as the day goes on. I may even fly to the beach this weekend on Southwest… still thinking about it.

Today’s interview with Betsy and Meade Wills reminds me to do things that bring joy, especially at home…

Good morning, Betsy and Meade! Thank you for spending some time in the Bacon Neighborhood today! Meade, how does it feel to be home? Betsy, how does it feel to have her home? I know there are rainbows and butterflies. And perhaps it might also be hard from time to time… 

Betsy: Having Meade home has been an unexpected gift! Even in high school I had to compete with her friends for attention. This situation has given both of us the chance to know one another as adults (obviously at different stages). We’ve had to draw some boundaries but we have found a rhythm and had a ton of laughs.

Meade: I don’t think I have been home this long since high school, so it really has been great. The wheels have definitely come off a few times, but overall I think I have developed a much greater appreciation for and closeness with my parents because of this unexpected and relaxed time together.

Meade, I understand that you have been doing good work in the kitchen in the Time of Corona. And Betsy, I’m impressed with your management of fava beans! (I understand that you wrestled them into submission…) 

Betsy: We spend a great deal of time planning and preparing dinner. Currently we are majoring in Otto Lenghi which is “vegetable forward”.

He requires a pantry that includes about 10 difficult to find ingredients such as Rose Harissa, black garlic, and preserved lemons. Once we had ordered and invested in these however, we’ve been able to create some restaurant worthy meals. I have decided cooking is mainly about shopping (at which I excel). There have been a number of “never agains” (a short rib tagine that just didn’t work out) but also some total wins such as a cauliflower rice griddle cake with smoked salmon and creme fraiche.

Meade: I believe I am on my 5th failed bread-making attempt, and now that Instacart has been sold out of Yeast for weeks, I have decided to put that goal to rest. I did, however, make fabulous Popovers for Easter on my first attempt – this might be my new party trick!

What did you do yesterday? What will you do tomorrow? Does every day feel the same? How are you organizing your time/your life?

Betsy: I’m able to work from home with relative ease, so my weekdays are similar in structure to pre-Covid 19. But my evenings and weekends are completely different. We play games almost every evening (highly recommend Mexican Train and Sequence), I’ve needlepointed a belt for Ridley, and purchased a ton of nonsense items on Etsy (I really like receiving mail).

My garden has received the most attention. I ordered 2000 Red Wriggler worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm and conducted a dramatic release into my flower beds. 6 weeks later, my perennials look like they belong in Jurassic Park!

Meade: I am addicted to the 5.8 trail at Percy Warner Park and try to go every day. This has been an easy way to see friends in a socially distanced manner. Online shopping and trying out new facial products has also been a constant throughout.

My job at IBM has remained consistent as my client (NASA) has continued to make investments in IBM hardware. I feel fortunate to have a job and the structure that it brings.

Days do seem to run together, but I can assure you that we still have not gotten sick of playing Mexican Train every. single. night!!

What is your state of mind? Does it change a lot or do you feel like you’ve settled into a decent Corona-rhythm…

Betsy: I vacillate between optimism and disbelief at the sheer number of systems, businesses, and plans that have been interrupted, altered, and perhaps permanently destroyed. This menace resembles the Lernean Hydra from Greek mythology!

I start thinking of the impact of one thing and then realize that one thing changes or impacts 6 other things! I have to believe that what follows is opportunity for incredible growth and innovation. At least I’m hoping.

Meade: I have to say – a pandemic is not great for an extrovert like myself! I never stop going in my normal life, so this has really taught (forced?) me to slow down. I really do enjoy reconnecting with old friends on Facetime. Additionally, I feel I am growing older by the minute -I am obsessed with my new Kindle and currently needle-pointing a miniature pillow with Dolly Parton. Who have I become?! What is wrong with this picture?! Truth be told, I am not sure how much of this rhythm I will continue after this is over, but I can’t say I have hated it.

I try to be as optimistic as I can as my plan is to start business school at INSEAD in France this fall. In order to attend, I am required to pass an Arabic fluency exam, and this quarantine has given me adequate preparation time.

I feel like we are all tip-toeing into a new normal. Do you see your friends? Do you eat out?

Betsy: I’m seeing a very small group of friends but ready to open up to more. I really miss so many people. I particularly miss seeing my parents and in-laws. I will eat out, but haven’t been too enthusiastic about it until only recently.

Meade: I am seeing some friends, but still hesitant to eat inside a restaurant. I feel more comfortable with the idea of eating on a patio on a nice day… I really am fine with not being able to be in public places for a while, but I am really REALLY ready to feel comfortable around more friends.

Okay this is slightly crazy but let’s fast forward to next May… where do you see yourself a year from now?

Betsy: I don’t see that my work life will dramatically change, but I think I’ll have found some additional avocations. I can imagine traveling more but with much more thought to where I will stay and how I will get there.

Meade: I plan to be living in France attending school and hoping that this has cleared up so that I will have the opportunity to travel around to surrounding countries. Fingers crossed to say the least!

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?

Betsy: I’m really enjoying Richard Haass’ newest book, The World.

It is a readable history and primer for geopolitics. This is not usually my genre, but somehow reading it has helped me make sense of how and why we are so interconnected and yet so vastly divided.

I’m listening to a range of things from Edith Piaf to Janet Jackson. When I’m feeling “iffy” I turn on Johnny Mercer or opera arias. I also listen to WPLN for local news.


Reading: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (can’t recommend this enough) and I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Listening to: “How I Built This” podcast – the new episode about FitBit is really interesting.

Watching: “Waco” on Netflix

What have you learned about yourself in the Time of Corona?

Betsy: I’m more of an introvert than I thought. Right now I’m battling FOGO (Fear of going out). Also, I’m incredibly unpleasant when my dishwasher goes out (which it did for two weeks!) We can just omit those days from the record.

Meade: I am the most extroverted of all extroverts!

What have you learned about others?

Betsy: I’ve learned that I can set the clock by my daughter’s regimen. She’s up at 8, collagen eyepatches at 8:10, coffee, walk, honey crisp apple at exactly 9:30, and so on. I’m awed and shamed by her self-discipline!

Meade: People produce amazing and hilarious content on the Internet during a pandemic.

What gives you hope in the Time of Corona? What makes you feel despair, if anything?

Betsy: I believe that many of us are discovering new ways to use our time (and have decided to stop wasting it)! I don’t like to think about how many lifetime markers (graduations, weddings, funerals) have been altered. I’m sure we will emerge from this with many many delayed celebrations and memorials. It’s really important that these happen.

Meade: I love the way that people have come together to support one another. I was invited to a drive by wedding for one of my closest friends, and the love that was shared even between cars was something I cannot explain!!

Oddly, that same day I drove past a drive-by Funeral and it was really tough to imagine being in that situation.

Let’s wrap up with some speed dating questions…

Are you more or less yourself in the Time of Corona?
Betsy: Less (but I think I’m really growing)
Meade: Less

Are you more anxious, less anxious, or about the same in the Time of Corona?
Betsy: I’m not anxious.
Meade: About the same except the uncertainty regarding my school plans this Fall.

Drinking more or less?
Betsy: I’ve always been pretty consistent….
Meade: Never say no to a glass of Rose!

Exercising more or less?
Betsy: Same (which is as little as I can get away with)
Meade: More! I got an Apple Watch and love it!

What annoys you?
Betsy: Picking up after Meade.
Meade: My parents 🙂 Just kidding – I am exhausted by people posting social media challenges (i.e. 10 pushup challenge)

Best advice for staying sane in the Time of Corona?
Betsy: Get dressed.
Meade: Stick to a routine!

Thank you for everything, Betsy and Meade! You’ve really made me smile this morning (as you always do)…


  1. This was such an upbeat, enjoyable read. I’ve already ordered Sequence AND have put a hold through NPL on the audio version of The World AND have subscribed to How I Built This. I’m not sure if mustard and turnip greens and collards are Vegetable Forward, but I have a ton if you want to come over and pick some.

  2. Loved reading Betsy & Meade’s interview! Have always had so much admiration for Betsy & Ridley. What an impressive young lady they have raised… yet not surprised! Thank you Jennifer for sharing another fascinating “Bacon on the Bookshelf”.

  3. Enjoyed this so much! Two super women.

  4. Loved reading this — what a boost to think about the unexpected blessings of this quarantine time; here it’s the rare abundance of mother/daughter time together. So impressed with the culinary skills! Go Betsy and Meade!

  5. Thanks for this post Jennifer! Bacon on the Bookshelf has been such a wonderful way for me to keep up with a little bit of Nashville from SC. Hey to Betsy! Love having a little glimpse into your life now❤️

  6. What a great “distance” visit with my daughter and granddaughter!!! Will add this link to our family text! Thank you, Jennifer, for bringing us DAILY such thoughtful and encouraging interviews …. I look to you for inspiration every day!

  7. These two make me smile! I have ordered all four books based on their recommendation- way to jumpstart my day!

  8. Good morning Jennifer! As I have indicated before, I’ve gotten so many great book suggestions from reading your blog. I had “American Fear” in my cart but had not downloaded to my kindle until last week. I finished it a couple of days ago. Oh. My. Goodness. What an eye opening experience this book provided. I’m reading something a little lighter now.
    Thank you for your relentless work in providing us entertainment through your blog.

  9. I’ve been waiting for this one! Not at all surprised that some of the best advice comes from the Wills women. It’s in their genes.

  10. Love this. Had a personal hiccup in some personal life plans as a young adult that swept me back home to live with mom and dad for law school. What was going to be 9 months ended up being several years. I am SO THANKFUL to have had that special, adult time with my parents. Makes me feel a little teary with gratefulness even now. Glad you have had this time together.

  11. Loved the “distance visit” with these two amazing women!! I so hope your travel and studies in France happen Meade – wishing you all the best! And the cooking – wow – I am so impressed Betsy!!

  12. Y’all are adorable. I’m going to order some wrigglers now.

  13. Love the photographs and that your happiness is infectious. Cannot believe you have tackled fava beans!

  14. These smiling faces are the highlight of my day so far and made me so happy too! They never cease to impress!

  15. Invariably impressed by these two, I am not at all surprised by how positive and productive they have been during C-19. Photos are magazine worthy! Are you gals making Liberty of London masks?? I want! I have a lot of LoL fabric swatches to share.

  16. I am late to the party with this comment, but had to say that I love these two women, their cooking adventures (I just bought the cookbook and 10 magic ingredients!), and their Liberty face masks. Great interview Jennifer!

  17. I love the cooking stories, photos and mother/daughter perspective! Thank you for sharing.

  18. I am taking notes so that seems to say it all. Loved the banter between mother and daughter- especially since I have known the mother since she was four or five years old. Of course, I loved the apt analogy of the Lernaean hydra, being a loved and teacher of mythology. Dynamic duo.

  19. I’ve always been fascinated by familial similarities, but never have I seen such complimentary brains! You two need a tv show. My goodness, you make me want to buy worms, of all things! And I now feel a lot better about indulging in Etsy items.

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