Pandemic Journal, Day 440

The critters munched two more of our tomato plants overnight, though they left a few leaves this time. I sprayed Repels-All around all of the plants in the beds and on the wood, and I hope it works.

We got our first real dose of summer weather today; we stayed inside most of the day and worked. We’d put aside a lot of newspapers, magazines, and other papers for “later” and Diane dealt with many of them. I got most of my 2021 photos into Lightroom and pruned, geotagged, and labeled them up through April 22. Which means that the next time I attack the photos, I’ll have to make decisions about the many pictures I took in Joshua Tree National Park on April 23.

A Joshua Tree

Pandemic Journal, Day 439

We picked up two more tomato seedlings at the Farmers’ Market this morning: Early Girl Hybrid and Juliet Hybrid; they’re in the ground already. It looks like the Sweet 100 we planted last week may have attracted the attention of critters, but it’s not completely dead yet.

Most of our trivia team got together for a Memorial Day gathering – in person, not on Zoom! There was food. There were beverages. There was chocolate. There was hugging!

Today was also the last edition of the New York Times’s “At Home” section. It’s been very helpful in suggesting recipes over the past 430-plus days, but I can’t say that I’m sorry to see the end of its run. I wonder – will the Travel section return next week?

Pandemic Journal, Day 438

We had a quiet day today – Diane spent most of the day pulling out old photos to have scanned, and I read and did some miscellaneous cleanup.

I took a look at the tomatoes we planted three weeks ago, and they’re beginning to blossom!

Pandemic Journal, Day 437

It was time to make pretzels again today. I followed the advice I got on Facebook from Lucinda, Meri, Alison, and Sam after the last time I made pretzels, and it made a difference.

I took out the butter in advance so it could properly soften. I put the yeast in the water and let it sit for a few minutes before adding it to the dry ingredients. I was extra-careful in measuring the dry ingredients and smoothed them out in the bowl before I added the water and yeast.

I had to add water after the first mixing cycle to get all of the flour incorporated, but, as suggested, I did so a teaspoon at a time; it took four teaspoons before everything was included, but then the rest of the mixing went well.

When I took the dough out after it had risen, it was only slightly tacky, and it was easy to roll into logs (and later, to shape into pretzels). I used waxed paper instead of parchment paper until I was ready to bake.

It went so well that I made a second batch so we should have some left after Memorial Day – and making that batch was uneventful, too.

What I didn’t do was take any photos of the finished pretzels, and they’re all in the freezer now. :-) But I did get a photo of the first batch after shaping them.

Thanks, everyone!

Pandemic Journal, Day 436

The big event for me today was at the dentist’s office, where they installed the crown on my implant. It was painless (I’d paid at the previous visit).

This afternoon, we watched a livestream of a performance by Jake Shimabukuro from AARP in honor of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month. He was great – I don’t think the performance will be made available for later viewing, but his Mother’s Day concert is online and free at his site and of course there’s a lot of his music available on YouTube.

The weather today was stunning – we had dinner outside and it was wonderful. It’s going to heat up over the weekend, so I’m glad we could enjoy it today.

Pandemic Journal, Day 435

I had a brain fart while making dinner tonight (Blistered Broccoli Pasta with Walnuts, Pecorino, and Mint) – instead of putting the pasta in the boiling water, I dumped in the broccoli. I realized the mistake in about 20 seconds and drained everything, then continued with the recipe. It came out OK, but the broccoli was noticeably sweeter and greener than usual (and less crunchy, too!).

We watched Episode 2 of Life at the Waterhole this evening – I’m looking forward to next week’s finale.

Pandemic Journal, Day 434

We had to be out of the house this morning for our housecleaner; Diane had scheduled a dentist’s appointment for that time, and I came with her. While she was being worked on, I did a walking tour of the five shopping centers nearest her dentist – there’s been a lot of turnover since the last time I was in the area. The biggest of the centers, Westgate Mall, has done some landscaping, which was a pleasant change from parking lots and sidewalks.

A rose

After the dentist was finished with Diane, it was still too early to go home, so we took our usual walk on the Los Gatos Creek Trail, and that put us near the Pruneyard Shopping Center at lunchtime. The next thing on our agenda was grocery shopping, and it didn’t seem like a good idea to shop on empty stomachs, so we decided to throw caution to the winds and eat at a restaurant. Outside, of course.

The Pruneyard was in the middle of yet another revitalization when the pandemic hit (it’s at least the third major renovation since we moved to Los Gatos). They’ve opened a lot of new restaurants in the last couple of years; today, we tried Starbird Chicken.

First, I tried ordering through their kiosk, but there was no way to ask for anything “on the side”, so we went to the counter and ordered from a human being. A few minutes later, the food was ready, and we discovered that they didn’t seem to know how to put anything on the side even if they could take the order – Diane’s salad was already dressed, and I didn’t get the sauces that should have come with my Korean Fried Chicken sandwich. We should have gone back to get the order fixed, but we didn’t. The food was bland; the fries weren’t even worth finishing. I can, though, heartily recommend the Ginger Mint Limeade.

Today was also XM renewal day – I’ve been paying $5/month for the “Select” package, and it was about to go up to their usual rate of $16.99/month. I went to their website, hit the chat button, and in less than 10 minutes, I got another year at $5/month. Easy.

Our trivia friends have been recommending the PBS/BBC series, Life at the Waterhole. They were right – we watched Episode 1 this evening and it was fascinating. We’re supposed to go to South Africa this fall, so we’re also using it for familiarization. Sadly, the excursion to Tanzania was cancelled because of the COVID-19 situation there; I’m guessing we have a 50/50 chance of making the rest of the trip this year (there’s already a backup date for next year).

Pandemic Journal, Day 433

I gave a speech at the Silicon Valley Storytellers tonight – the title was “I Make Things Up!”, and it was about my journey to the District Table Topics championship. It was not quite impromptu, but I did make up a good bit of it as I was talking.

I finally managed to get back to working on photos from earlier this year – my goal is to trim Apple Photos down to the photos which evoke memories. I’ll keep many more photos in Lightroom.

Of course, then I have to decide what to do with photos which I think look good but really don’t bring back memories, like this one of Ross Creek when it had water, three short months ago. Posting them on the blog is one way of keeping track of them, right?

Reflections in Ross Creek

Pandemic Journal, Day 432

This morning, we went to the Farmers’ Market. We walked through town – the restaurants were hopping! We walked through Oak Meadow Park – there was a very long line for the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad. As we drove home, we saw a very long line of cars trying to get into Vasona Park.

This evening, I went for a quick walk to complete a perfect week (as defined by my Apple Watch’s Fitness app, anyway).

Moon over Los Gatos

See you tomorrow.

Pandemic Journal, Day 431

After discovering I’d inadvertently bought lemon balm yesterday, we planted it in one of the raised beds. This morning, I decided to find out more about lemon balm. Wikipedia told me that it’s in the mint family, spreads “vegetatively”, and “propagates vigorously” (though that last statement has a “citation needed” attached to it).

Since we’d deliberately avoided planting mint in the raised beds (or anywhere in the ground – we have enough trouble with ivy coming from the other side of the fence, thank you very much indeed), putting lemon balm there seemed like a Bad Idea.

This afternoon, we went to the hardware store and bought a planter for the lemon balm, and I transplanted it. It doesn’t seem to have taken root in the bed, yet, so I hope we’re safe.