Simple joys like chalk art, home cooking and patio sing-alongs helped us survive the isolation with a smile.

There may come a time when we’ll feel nostalgic. We’ll miss our glitchy FaceTimes, our makeshift dining room cubicles, our quarantine memes and live streams and TikTok challenges. We’ll miss seeing our children all day. In the long run, these fleeting moments of brightness may be what we remember most.

• • •

Phoebe and Frank Fusco developed a new routine at home in Carrollwood. [Melanie Fusco]

Melanie Fusco’s children Frank, 9, and Phoebe, 5, watch water lanterns float across the pool at their home in Carrollwood. Fusco said she had the lanterns left over from Christmas, and they inspired a nightly activity. “It was a beautiful moment and one that I will remember long after this pandemic is over,” she said.

― Submitted by Melanie Fusco, Tampa

• • •

Michelle Badger, left, and Luis Quixtan have spent their coronavirus quarantine creating elaborate photo shoots that brought outdoor activities indoors. [Michelle Badger]

Michelle Badger and Luis Quixtan couldn’t leave their Brandon apartment, or Badger’s parents’ home in St. Petersburg, where they relocated when they could no longer afford rent. So they brought the outdoors inside. The couple filled a Facebook photo album with pictures of themselves picnicking in their living room, snorkeling in their bathtub and fishing through their window. There also are photos of them painting, sword-fighting and dyeing Easter eggs, all to “bring a smile to your face through all of this madness,” Badger said.

— Submitted by Michelle Badger, Brandon

Related: A St. Pete family is spending quarantine doing themed photo shoots

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Recumbent Bike

I’m ridin’ down this old dusty road,

My bike’s done took my heavy load.

Alone in the dark, old garage,

I touched the sunshine, but it’s a mirage.

My recumbent’s my best exercise, yea, yea, yea.

I’m old, but you know I’m very wise, yea, yea, yea.

Well, I know what I’m a’ sayin’,

I just keep on a prayin’.

From Sue and from me

You are the greatest family.

So, I ride down this old dusty road,

My bike’s takin’ away my heavy load.

— Submitted by Robert Cramer, Palm Harbor

• • •

Dave Manack with his cocktail, dubbed the Coronarita. [Dave Manack]

Dave Manack’s go-to pandemic cocktail: the Coronarita. He’s not making light of the virus, or any of the hardships people have endured because of it. It’s just a good way for the Land O’ Lakes writer and editor to wait out the pandemic by his pool. His recipe: two shots of tequila, three shots of limeade, two shots of Corona beer and a splash of orange juice, rimmed with salt.

— Submitted by Dave Manack, Land O’ Lakes

Related: 5 simple cocktails anyone can make at home

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Christina Van Allen of Lutz moved apartments right before the pandemic. She hasn’t gotten to know her neighbors, and now, she’s stuck inside. But in this delightful audio clip, she talks about how she’s gotten some joy — “the smallest joy in my life right now,” she says — from observing her neighbors’ golden retrievers, who go outside to use the bathroom three times a day, always with a different toy.

— Submitted by Christina Van Allen, Lutz

Related: More people than ever are fostering dogs and cats, say Tampa Bay shelters

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St. Petersburg writer Dave Scheiber and his family collaborated — from a distance — on “Stuck at Home, COVID Woes,” a parody of John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads.” “All my family’s gathered ‘round here / hands rubbed raw from scrubbin’ in all that soapy water / Dog’s a-howlin’ on my Zoom conference call / Disinfecting groceries, I think I’ve hit a wall.”

— Submitted by Dave Scheiber, St. Petersburg

Related: Meet the St. Pete family featured in John Krasinski's 'Some Good News' show

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Eleven-year-old Jake Smith, from the patio of his house in St. Petersburg, plays comedian Heather Anne Campbell’s song “Everyone is Lonely” on ukulele — “which he has been doing. A lot. It’s fine. :) :),” says his mom, Donna Smith.

— Submitted by Donna Smith, St. Petersburg

Related: Front porch concerts help Pasco musicians keep an audience and some income

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A postponed wedding inspired these themed face masks. [Mary Ann Lawrence]

When Mary Ann Lawrence’s great-niece had to postpone her June wedding to August, she decided to make beach wedding-themed face masks, hoping that would cheer her up.

— Submitted by Mary Ann Lawrence, New Port Richey

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The exterior of the Chick-fil-A at 4241 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg on March 28. [JAY CRIDLIN | Tampa Bay Times]

With busy families seeking easy drive-through dinners, the Chick-fil-A on Fourth Street in St. Petersburg painted its windows: “Cow says … wash your hands … eat more chicken … be happy!”

— Jay Cridlin, Tampa Bay Times

• • •

Mary Byrd photographed these tomatoes on her kitchen counter. [Mary Byrd]

A simple pleasure observed by Mary Byrd of Weeki Wachee: “Buying green tomatoes and letting them ripen on the kitchen counter so that you have fresh tomatoes while in isolation. A slice of fresh tomato on a sandwich makes a world of difference.”

— Submitted by Mary Byrd, Weeki Wachee

• • •

Most of the Beatles cross a driveway in St. Petersburg. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Tampa Bay Times]

Masked cardboard cutouts of three of the four Beatles cross a driveway in front of a home in St. Petersburg’s Harshaw neighborhood.

— Caitlin Johnston, Tampa Bay Times

Related: Most bands are in quarantine. In St. Pete, this one's still jamming together

• • •

Four-year-old Rory Hart with her family's message. [Rachel Hart]

Four-year-old Rory Hart poses with a sidewalk chalk drawing by her mother, Rachel Hart, outside their Palm Harbor home. When Rory and her sister Harper saw that rain had washed away their chalk creations, they screamed. “But then they said, ‘We have a blank canvas!’" Rachel said.

— Submitted by Rachel Hart, Palm Harbor

Related: As rain falls on Tampa Bay, sidewalk chalk art melts away

• • •

Angela Falsey of St. Petersburg spotted this raccoon living outside her home, and her family is now obsessed. [Angela Falsey]

“This raccoon has been living in a tree in our front yard with her kits, and our family is obsessed with her. We’ve named her Brenda. Every day, she leaves the nest and travels around the neighborhood for a few hours. We’ve followed her a few times, at a distance, to see where she goes. She takes a different route every time, and we lose her when she scales fences into neighbors’ backyards. Some of the neighbors are also looking out for her. When she returns, after checking on the babies, she hangs out in the tree to relax and doesn’t seem to mind being photographed. I don’t know if we would have noticed her if we weren’t home all day every day.”

— Submitted by Angela Falsey, St. Petersburg

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Cass Street Deli chef Suzanne Crouch and her 3-year-old daughter have been writing down recipes in a family cookbook. [Suzanne Crouch]

When her workload diminished at her Tampa restaurant, Cass Street Deli, chef Suzanne Crouch spent more time cooking at home with her 3-year-old daughter and “sous chef,” Frankie. They’ve made pasta from scratch, “mother sauces” like espagnole and more. They keep a journal by the stove in which Crouch is compiling recipes for a cookbook for her daughter: chocolate smoothies, waffles, “Best Biscuits,” Hollandaise for “Frankie’s Asparagus.” They are decorated with smiley faces and notes of encouragement, like “Flour everywhere” and “Use that brunch arm, dude!”

— Submitted by Suzanne Crouch, Tampa

Related: What are pro chefs cooking at home during the coronavirus pandemic?

• • •

Rick Hense, seated, with his new "co-workers." [Rick Hense]

Rick Hense of Carrollwood sent his colleagues at the bank where he works this picture of his new “co-workers” — wife Jen and sons Chad and Ben — as part of a team-building exercise to stay connected.

— Submitted by Rick Hense, Carrollwood

• • •

The aftermath of the shaving cream battle. [Gina Prochaska]

Gina and Joe Prochaska spent the first few weeks of quarantine in a six-room condo in Madeira Beach with their son and two grandchildren. “There is no place to hide to be alone,” Gina wrote. Within days, the condo became littered with food crumbs, art projects, paper airplanes, soap bubbles and homemade slime. She has “a washing machine full of dirt, mud and sunscreen; a dryer that the lint area is full of sand; a dishwasher running every day instead of weekly; a dining room table covered in glue and school papers. ... The once clean, neat and amazing condo now looks like a war zone.” Messiest of all: a family shaving cream fight they had in their chalked-up parking lot. This photo was taken right after the battle.

— Submitted by Gina Prochaska, Madeira Beach

• • •

NEXT:

Change

Isolation

Anxiety

Adaptation

Safety

Community

Loss

The Surreal

Hope

For all the stories in the series, click here.

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