Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

I went looking for an answer to the question of why the pandemic and quarantine has affected so many artists — in my world, mostly I mean writers — so negatively. In my case, before COVID my daily life involved sitting in my home office writing my fiction, ghostwriting other people’s fiction, and writing business articles for a regional magazine. My workouts involve hiking and running on desert foothills behind my house. Outings involved coffee or lunch meetings with friends once or twice a week, often (quietly) begrudged because it meant I wasn’t writing (I enjoyed these when I got…


An article on the APA site, A messy desk encourages a creative mind, study finds, written in 2013, describes an experiment in which people were divided by whether they worked on a tidy desk or one — well, like mine, pictured above. They were then offered snacks, either an apple or other healthy snack or a candy bar. The messy deskers took the candy and the tidy folks took the apple.

Then the experiment was repeated, and the two halves were asked to come up with creative and unique uses for a ping pong ball. …


Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

The lamp light in the living room of the Santa Monica apartment was low. My grandfather’s memorial proved more a celebration of his life than a mourning of our loss. By now, my Grandmother’s breathing was no longer easy, her eyes were tired, her hands hurting, and she no doubt wished we’d all go away and let her rest.

I sat beside her on the gold-and-velvet monstrosity of a couch and slipped her a note in fourteen-year-old handwriting.

“Dear Grandmother. How are you? Fine, I hope. I am fine. Love, Jennifer.”

“Dear Kid,” she wrote back. “I am fine. How…


Mysteriously orange rather than yellow lemon cream cheese frosting on lemon cupcakes.

It’s spring.

I know this because it’s freezing cold at the top of Reno’s North Valleys. The high today was 37F. The sun comes and goes, teasing. The wind never goes. Nevada’s wind is a constant. As a runner I can state for certain if you run in all four directions, the wind will be in your face in all four.

But it’s spring. The squirrels are awake. Trees are starting to bud. And in place of spring cleaning — so far — I offer spring baking.

Since I’ve already cleaned half the kitchen, today seemed like a good day…


My husband and I celebrated our anniversary during this weird spring of shelter in place and stores sold out of flour. It wasn’t that much different for us — we picked up our traditional dinner curbside and brought it home rather than eating at the restaurant. That was fine. And because our favorite bakery sold a few years ago and the new one is always swamped (and honestly not as good) I made his and hers cupcakes to suit our different tastes.

I’ve been indulging in a lot of stress baking, honestly, and probably should quit. I’ll be posting the…


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I’ve been a freelance writer for a lot of years, starting with magazines I was steered to by the writers’ group I was involved with and moving on to start my own writing business with a friend, then three years later taking it solo.

Finding magazines became much harder a few years ago when everything either dried up or went digital or got all their content in-house. Finding clients for ghostwriting was always difficult. Then at some point during the tail end of the recession I read a blog post that listed several different online temp agencies — at least…


Monster, back before we started meditating together and he was still relaxed.

Meditating with My Cat, for Fun and Stress

So, this didn’t work.

My cat has issues.

He’s a healthy, beautiful orange tabby, nine years old on my birthday (July 7, and we’ll both accept greetings and salutations) because I didn’t know exactly when his birthday was, only that he was three months old when I met him in 2010 in October.

Monster (named that because when he was a kitten I kept calling him “You little monster” because he was and after awhile he responded to it) has hot spots or skin issues where he licks and scratches off fur…


Whatever your politics, let’s just note that the number of people doing something called stress baking — and experiencing stress in general — began to rise in 2016. Draw your own conclusions.

In May 2017 the American Psychiatric Association released its annual report, reflecting on anxiety in America. It was reported that two-thirds of Americans are nervous about health care and safety for themselves and their families; one-third are more anxious than they were at the same time in 2016.

Not surprising then, that over the past several years there’s been a rise in things that can help us relax…


Factitious disorder that’s not imposed on another

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Most likely, the female parent, NancyJo’s, Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy (MSP) or Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another was triggered originally by events that happened before she ever even married the man who would be my father, Walt. Her MSP was set in motion when Walt moved her out of Southern California where she had family and friends and into the mountains, and then out of California all together and into Reno, where she knew nobody. …


Photo by Kent Pilcher on Unsplash

My senior year of high school I developed a throat infection. It was hard to tell, because it made my head ache (but so did the lights in the classrooms) and my stomach ache (but so did being a bottomless pit of hunger — I grew three inches between September and May that year) and everything I ate made me sick. Eventually I began to run a fever so it was decided I needed a doctor and some good drugs.

(I never noted here: NancyJo loved prescription drugs and abused them willfully and with apparent joy. I used to say…

Jennifer R Baumer

Writer, runner, baker, blogger, desert rat. Highdesertbakery.com

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