Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 315

I thought today was going to be another day where I had to struggle to find anything interesting to write about (let’s face it, after 315 days of sheltering-in-place, it’s just life!). We didn’t make any new recipes; we didn’t go anywhere unusual; we did order a case of wine and a new camera (from different stores, of course!), but, as I said, “it’s just life”.

And then, just before my Toastmasters meeting started, I felt something odd in my mouth. I don’t know what had happened, but a moment later, I pulled a slightly-used crown out of my mouth.

I excused myself from the meeting and called my dentist’s office. I have an appointment at 11:30am tomorrow.

It’s just life.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 314

It was another quiet day – we managed to get two good walks in before the rains came. And I started working on photos from our Costa Rica/Panama trip last February. And met with my successor as District 101 Statistician to go through more of the code he’ll be inheriting. And made fish for lunch and pesto for dinner.

As I said, quiet.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 313

We made Pomegranate Chicken again tonight, this time with skinless, boneless chicken thighs instead of the skin-on, bone-in thighs in the recipe. It was faster (30 minutes of cooking time rather than 45) and easier (because I could put the meat and vegetables in at the same time instead of staging them) and just as tasty, so we’ll do it that way from now on.

Other than that, there wasn’t much to talk about, and it’s late, so I’ll stop!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 312

Another new-to-us recipe today, Pan-Fried Trout with Rosemary, Lemon, and Capers. The trout we got was too big to fit in the All-Clad skillet, so I couldn’t use the induction cooktop, but I coped. And I’d make the recipe again – it was pretty easy and quite tasty.

This evening, I made Skillet Summer Vegetable Lasagna again, this time using the induction cooktop. I am beginning to think that it would be smarter to use the “cook power” settings than the “temperature” settings, at least for something that calls for simmering. Using the temperature setting results in long periods where the induction coils are off and nothing seems to be happening (even if the liquid actually is pretty hot). In contrast, the cook power settings keep the induction coils on the whole time. Despite the confusion, we were happy with the results.

We got a little rain today – not enough to make a dent in the drought, but enough to warrant breaking out raincoats for our walks. It’s a start!

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 311


Yesterday was a day of firsts; today was an evening with a “last”. We had been members of Fleming-Jenkins Winery in Los Gatos from the day they opened in 2008 until they closed a few years later. We enjoyed their wines a lot, and their tasting room was a great place to stop when we were walking in downtown Los Gatos.

We’d bought a 375ml bottle of their 2006 Napa Valley Red Dessert Wine in late 2011. We’re not big dessert wine drinkers, so it’s been gathering dust in the wine rack for many years. Tonight, though, felt like an appropriate time to drink it during our weekly Trivial Zoom call.

The cork had not weathered the years well; it flaked into pieces as I tried to extract it. Eventually, I pushed it into the bottle so I could pour the wine – it was drinkable, but nothing special. On the other hand, we did finish the bottle!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 310

.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.
TRANSLATION
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

I knew I was going to post a shehecheyanu (the prayer above) today in gratitude for reaching the beginning of the Biden Administration, but I didn’t expect to have more than that one reason to post it. But it turns out I have two more reasons to be grateful for reaching this day.

Stanford Healthcare had already announced that people over 65 could start making appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine starting today. I tried to sign up before the inauguration, but they hadn’t updated the website yet. And by the time we’d watched the ceremony and a lot of the post-ceremony, drunk a bottle of California sparkling wine, taken a walk, and had lunch, I’d forgotten I needed to do it – until we turned the TV back on to watch Vice President Harris swear in Senators Padilla, Ossoff, and Warnock. The swearing-in was running late, so Katy Tur was talking to someone and happened to mention the vaccine – I rushed over to my computer to sign up. It took a few tries (the website was less than cooperative, and every time it glitched, we had to go back to Step 1), but as Chuck Schumer was making his first remarks as Senate Majority Leader, both of us had appointments for five weeks from today. Our appointments are 90 minutes apart, but the site is only a 25-minute walk from home (or a ten-minute drive and a five-minute struggle for parking), so we’ll be OK.

And the induction burner I ordered through Silicon Valley Clean Energy’s discount program arrived in time for me to use it to make dinner (One-Pot Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Kale). It’s fast but is going to require some getting used to – and I can see at least one more cookware purchase in our future.

Not a bad day, not at all!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 309

It was 4:40am, and Diane and I were sleeping peacefully. The house was quiet and dark. Suddenly, we were awakened by a bright blue light in our bedroom – I pried my eyes open to see the “halo” on our Amazon Echo glowing brightly and then go dark. I got out of bed – everything seemed OK; the night light in the bathroom was on, as expected.

But there was a light coming from the kitchen, which I didn’t expect. I walked in and discovered the cause – our broiler oven’s panel was illuminated. I took a closer look and saw that it was set to its default setting (“Bagel”, 4 slices, mid-darkness). And the clock on the stove showed “PF” – Power Failure.

I went back to the bedroom and slept until the alarm went off as usual. My phone showed a series of alerts from the security system telling me that we’d lost and regained power twice during the night (we’d slept through the first cycle at 11:30). PG&E had texted about both failures, but only about the first restoration – it turned out that we’d been lucky in having our power return so promptly. People living on the other side of the creek from us didn’t get power back until after 2pm.

It was all due to windstorms – which are also fanning fires throughout the Bay Area. In January. I can’t wait for 2020 to be over!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 308

Diane’s ear seems to have survived yesterday’s excitement; the Band-Aid came off when she put on her mask to visit our trainer this morning, but there was no new blood. I promise to be more careful next time!

I’ve begun writing my speech for my Toastmasters meeting on Thursday – it’ll be the longest speech I’ve given in Toastmasters (18-22 minutes instead of the usual 5-7), and it’s all because I misread the requirements for the Visionary Communication Path and thought I had to give a “keynote-type” speech to complete the Path. It turns out that this particular project is an elective on this Path (it is a requirement on the Presentation Mastery Path), but by the time I figured that out, the club leadership had juggled the month’s schedule to give me the long speaking slot, so I feel obligated! Don’t tell anyone, ok?

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 307

We had a quiet day today, mostly.

It was time for haircuts, so we cut each other’s hair. Diane cut mine first, then it was my turn to reciprocate. She wanted me to use her new sharp scissors rather than the Wahl Peanut – I got a bit too close to Diane’s ear, but after we stopped the bleeding, she seemed to be OK (and she even let me finish cutting, though not near her ears).

We made Soy, Siracha, and Balsamic Stir-Fry for dinner; there was a lot of residue left on the wok that I had to scrape off afterwards, so I’ve re-seasoned the wok in hopes that next time will be less messy.

And we watched the first episode of the new All Creatures Great and Small; it was enjoyable and we’ll watch the rest of the series. It brought back good memories of going to the Yorkshire Dales!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 306

This morning started with Torah Study and Shir Shabbat services, as usual. I was the leader for the service, and Diane read Haftorah.

During the service, we say the blessing for the study of Torah – in order to ensure that it’s not an empty blessing, the leader brings in a bit of text to study, which can come from the Written Torah (the Five Books of Moses), but usually doesn’t, at least at our services. Most of the time, it’s one of the readings in the prayerbook, but today, I decided to bring in a few quotations from Martin Luther King:

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

I was even able to tie the last one to the famous Hasidic story of Zusia, so it was all kosher.

This afternoon, I got back to working on photos, making another pass on photos from my 2004 trip to Japan – this time, ensuring that they all have titles (and getting rid of half of the ones from the first day in the process!).

And this evening, while continuing to battle Google Flights, the earth moved slightly – there was a 4.2 quake about 40 miles away. I felt a couple of light bumps and heard something clatter a bit – by the time I realized it was a quake, it was all over!