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Bay Area coronavirus fears? 12 fun things to do at home, far from the crowds

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We’ve been here before, sort of. When the devastating California wildfires filled the Bay Area with smoke and sent air quality into dangerous range, we found ways to stay busy and entertained without being outside for more than a minute or two. Now, as the threat of the coronavirus grows and public venues shutter, residents are avoiding crowds, lathering themselves with hand sanitizer and — increasingly — staying home. Some are finding themselves in self-quarantine.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of relaxing and rewarding ways to spend the weekend solo, from watching top movies and reading bestsellers to catching up on household tasks. Here are 12 ideas:

1. March movie madness

Catch up on fall movies, including Oscar winners “American Factory ” (Best Documentary Feature) and “Marriage Story” (Best Supporting Actress), now on Netflix. See the best Animated Feature winner “Toy Story 4” on Disney Plus. And “Parasite,” which scored four Academy Awards, can be streamed on Google Play, Vudu and Amazon Prime. It’s also coming to Hulu on April 8.

2. Horror movie madness

In these unsettling times, there may be catharsis and consolation in watching movies that use made-up scenarios to scare us. This virus is scary, but at least there are no zombies, right? Check out “Get Out,” “A Quiet Place” and more new and classic horror flicks — here’s our top 25 horror movies of the decade guide — all available to stream/buy/rent through the usual services.

3. TV binge time

March and April bring a number of hotly anticipated TV series Among them: Alex Garland’s Silicon Valley-set sci-fi thriller “Devs” (FX on Hulu, March 5), and the latest in Nordic noir with “The Valhalla Murders” (Netflix, March 13). Season 3 of “Westworld returns to HBO on March 15, along with season 2 in “My Brilliant Friend: The Story of a New Name,” set in Italy and inspired by Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels (HBO, March 16).

Don’t miss “Little Fires Everywhere,” a small-town thriller starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington (Hulu, March 18); the miniseries biopic “Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker,” starring Octavia Spencer (Netflix, March 20); and season 3 of “Ozark” (Netflix, March 27). Plus, tthe black comedy “Run,” executive produced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (HBO, April 12); Cate Blanchett starring as Phyllis Schlafly in “Mrs. America” (FX on Hulu, April 15); and Season 3 of “Killing Eve” (BBC America, April 26).

4. Read a book … or three

Tuck into a recent page-turner written by a local author, like “Bottle Grove,” a comedic look at San Francisco’s hipsters and tech bros by the city’s own Lemony Snicket; “Squirrel in the Wall,” an interspecies romp by Oakland’s Hentry Hitz; or “Sourdough, or Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market,” by New York Times best-selling author Robin Sloan, of Oakland. It’s about an overworked software engineer who finds joy as a baker. That sourdough starter though … it’s alive.

5. Relax with music

Spend a day, or more, on Spotify/Apple music getting caught up on your listening. A home concert of the top albums of the 2010s would give you a selection that features Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Beyonce, Radiohead, Lizzo, Black Sabbath and more.

6. Finally, a little you time

Take a long warm bath, enjoy a nice cup of tea, take a nap or start writing your own novel. Now also is the perfect time for a pampering facial. Bust out that hyaluronic cream and rub on that exfoliating scrub before they both expire in your cabinet. Been neglecting your nails? Mani-pedis for everyone in the house. Even making a simple scrub — sugar, coconut oil, a few drops of essential oil — will slough away winter chapped lips and make you feel great.

7. Cook to your heart’s content

That pandemic pantry you put together is a work of art. Use it. Cook a comforting Black Bean Chili or an epic Guittard chocolate cake while your ingredient stock is fresh. Or heck, if you’re self-quarantined because someone in your home is sick, build this Bubbe-approved Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls from San Francisco’s Wise Sons Deli.

8. Organize your home, life

Declutter your closet, go through photos and computer files, finally hang those pictures — or purge your cupboards and pantry of items you’ll never use. Spring is nearly here, so do a deep spring cleaning. For most tasks, the standard multi-cleaner you have on hand should suffice. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says that most common household disinfectants are effective in killing the coronavirus.

9. Keep up with your workouts

If you like to exercise, but can’t get to your favorite yoga class or gym, you probably know moves you can do at home, from sun salutations to pushups. But YouTube videos and apps can help with new ideas. BuzzFeed News offers a guide to the best online yoga programs, while Women’s Health recently published a list of 17 videos that offer quick workouts or specialized programs that target your core or legs or that offer high-intensive internal training.

10. Get outdoors, home edition

Your garden probably needs some attention. Now is the time to clean up and prep beds by weeding, adding compost and repairing irrigation. You also can start seeds indoors for planting when the soil warms up in April and May. It’s also a good time to peruse online seed catalogs and start a garden journal so you can sketch out your ideas about what you’ll plant and where.

11. Get outdoors, for those free to roam

If you’re not in self-quarantine but want to avoid crowds, try nature. These 8 Bay Area hikes in local, regional, state and national parks offer plenty of spectacular, unpeopled hikes where you can enjoy more than a social distance, all while enjoying fresh air and beautiful scenery.

12. Stay social

At home, you can still stay in touch with family and friends or even re-connect with old friends you’ve lost track of. Remember when telephones were used for talking? Enjoy a long phone call with an old friend, or try FaceTime or Skype. Revive the lost art of handwriting letters or pen emails. Use social media in a positive way to engage in thoughtful discussions about your favorite books, movies and other hobbies and interests.

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