Gimme shelter, and fun times at home

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

When virtually all forms of socialization come to a halt, homes become a temporary hub for entertainment. Like the local businesses that have been forced to adapt their practices, Metro Detroiters are finding a variety of ways to spend their time while sheltering in place.

Farmington Hills resident Ginny Grush had a head start on staying home because of back surgery earlier this year. When she was finally on the mend and able to drive, there was nowhere to go with all the closures. Typically socially active, Ginny and her husband, Ernie, are doing their best to stay busy with other family members who currently live with them, including their grandson, Vincent, 9.

Ginny Grush's family is cooking together for entertainment.

Puzzles have been a fun activity they can do together, while special meals elevate the dining experience. One night resulted in what Ginny calls a “cooking frenzy” on the grill by her husband and son-in-law, who prepared Cornish hens along with steak for fajitas and some homemade Pico de Gallo.

Movies provide another welcome escape as well as listening to music with a confinement theme like Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.”

Ginny Grush's grandson, Vincent, with a completed puzzle.

Like many, they rely on their personal devices to get through the long stay-at-home stretches. Vincent plays video games with a friend who lives in Virginia and Ernie plays solitaire. Quiet time for Ginny includes reading, doing crossword puzzles and writing. Her daughter keeps the family up-to-date on the latest school alerts and other local advisories.

When confined to a home environment for an extended period of time, originality counts. One day, Vincent devised a dinosaur game for everyone to play. “He made it up for us and he was the emcee,” says Ginny. “He also won.”

Their property and the commons beyond provide another form of entertainment that becomes even more evident when homebound. “We turned to nature by looking out at our backyard,” says Ginny who displays forsythia branches brought in from outside that have since bloomed. “We see nature unleashed; we saw an opossum on the deck and a fox and some groundhogs. It’s like a jungle out there.”

John Anderson sorts through photos

Two’s company

Terry Anderson, who lives in Novi with her husband John, misses her activities. “I miss my book club and my writers group (Ridgewriters where she met Ginny Grush) and my shopping trips,” she says

Each week, she has a virtual happy-hour conference call with her daughters and her daughters-in-law. 

Though their normal routine would have them gathering with friends and relatives, the couple tries to stay occupied at home. “We’ve been sorting through 60 years of pictures, which is no small task,” says Terry, who plans to put them in photo boxes. She also stays in touch with their grandson in Ireland through FaceTime.

Lately, entertainment can include any task that takes your attention away from the pandemic, like switching to her summer dishes in the dining room hutch. Small craft projects also make good use of time and existing supplies like the faux floral hanging Terry made for her front door. “I made it from flowers I had, so I didn’t have to buy a wreath,” she says.

Callyn Merrill and her family

All together now

For Callyn Merrill, who lives in Livonia with husband Andy and son Theodore who just turned 1, staying at home is still a new experience. With her work as a hairstylist for Chroma Salon & Color Bar in Farmington Hills temporarily on hold and an active toddler with limited places to go, physical activity tops the list, like the long walks they take whenever possible. “I didn’t know I had so many people in the neighborhood,” says Callyn.

During their son’s naptime, the couple also does yoga. Now that they’re home every night, there’s been more cooking and sitting at the table for meals. They also have more time to binge-watch shows on Netflix like a post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama called “The 100.”

 They celebrated their son’s first birthday in February with 80 family members at a public venue. With gatherings banned for at least a few weeks, Callyn rotates his toys for more variety while relatives connect by mailing their kids’ artwork or some stickers to share.

But there’s never a dull moment when you hang out with a teething, feisty 1-year-old boy. “It’s great that I can be here with him,” she says.

Callyn Merrill's child plays outside

Besides, the stay-at-home order does have another upside like the fact that her son can take extra-long baths. “We’re not rushed,” says Callyn. “Everything is always so rushed and has to get done. It’s just been very relaxed around here.”