Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Twenty

I knew it was going to be a different kind of day today when I went out to pick up the papers and the Merc was squishy, despite being packed in a plastic bag. In normal times, I would have called for a replacement; today, I just found places to spread the paper out and let it dry.

We made our usual run to the Farmer’s Market for fish, but it was raining too much to take a long walk; instead, we drove to Nob Hill and picked up some necessities (wearing masks, of course).

We had hoped to watch City Lights’s production of Coded and I still might, but the audio was too hard to understand on our TV (maybe headphones would help). Instead, we watched the National Theatre’s production of One Man, Two Guvnors (available to Thursday, April 9) – since it was recorded for presentation in movie theaters (excuse me, cinemas), the audio was clear and pellucid, and the humor (excuse me, humour) was broad and welcome. We haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.

And the rains paused for a while after dinner, so we managed one decent walk for the day – all told, not a bad day!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Nineteen

Manresa is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Los Gatos – it has three. Their Chef’s Tasting Menu is $295 per person (I don’t know if that includes wine or not) and reservations are difficult. Needless to say, we’ve never been there – we’ve never seriously considered it.

Until today. Like all other restaurants, they’re closed due to COVID-19; like many other restaurants, they’re offering takeout. In their case, they’re offering their “Family Menu” (which is inspired by the meal the staff eats every day) at around $50 per person. You have to order a day ahead, and there are limited quantities available. Today’s meal was:

• Salmon poached in aromatic olive oil
• Couscous salad with braised Swiss chard
• Roasted Brussels sprouts
• Roasted market vegetables
• Mixed green salad
• Parker House rolls
• Caramel mousse

When I first tried to order, they were sold out, but offered to put me on the waitlist; a few hours later, I had given them my credit card and was all set for today. We even splurged and got the Sommelier’s Choice wine (which turned out to be Château de Brézé – 2018 Saumur Blanc, ‘Clos du Midi’).

Pickup was straightforward, and soon enough we’d unpacked a pile of containers onto a protective piece of newspaper:

We disgorged them onto plates, popped the plates into the oven, and a few minutes later, dinner was served:

It was quite good! Probably not quite as good (or as hot) as it would have been at the restaurant, but needs must. There was enough food that we didn’t have dessert; it’ll probably be just fine tomorrow. I’m going to keep my eye on their family meal offerings in hopes of finding another one without pork or shellfish – but not until after Passover.

After dinner, we watched TheatreWorks’ production of They Promised Her The Moon; we probably wouldn’t have seen it in the theatre, but watching it in the comfort of our own home was appealing. It was their second or third performance, and they’d taped it for archival purposes; after the run was halted, they made arrangements to make it available for a week or so for a donation, and we took them up on the offer. The play was interesting – I hadn’t known the story of the “Mercury 13”, and it was worth seeing.

My USB gender changers came in today so that I could convert my WyzeCam into a webcam so we can do Zoom calls from the family room and watch on the big TV. I ran into a little trouble trying to reflash the firmware (apparently you have to format the microSD card as FAT, not exFAT), but once I got over that speed bump, it went smoothly. TThe camera has a very wide angle of view and horrible sound, but if I set it up near us and use the phone for audio, I think it’ll work.

Of course, since it was Saturday, we Zoomed to Torah Study and took walks in between the raindrops. Not a bad day all told!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Eighteen

We talked with our son in Boston this morning; things are going well for him.

We made improvised masks for our walk this morning. Diane made hers from a neck gator she bought from the ship’s gift shop on our Galapagos trip two years ago, following the example of the boatmen driving the Zodiacs. It looks good on her!

I sacrificed an old Comedy Sportz Rec League T-shirt (the shirt had the old branding, so it’s no longer kosher) to make my mask following the “no-sew” examples I found online. I think I need to work on it some more.

Both masks worked – at least we were able to breathe through them. We didn’t go into any buildings, so they didn’t add any real safety, either for us or others.

I tried to order fesenjan for lunch from Negeen Persian Restaurant, but they weren’t offering it today, so we cancelled the order and had leftover chicken instead.

We skipped the masks for our afternoon walk, since we didn’t plan to go in anywhere – it was a little more comfortable, but I have to admit that my face felt naked! Some of our neighbors are interpreting “social distancing” differently than we are – there were quite a few families out on the street, staying apart from one another but definitely interacting – and there was a food truck! In normal times, I might have wanted to check out the truck (Brooklyn Pizza), but today, I was happy to be on the other side of the street.

Road Scholar officially “suspended” our June program at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; I had to call them to accept their offer to transfer our deposit to a program to be named later (with luck, it’ll be the same program next year – we like their OSF class).

We finished the day by making tuna for Shabbat dinner, watching the special Shir Shabbat Friday night broadcast, Whose Line is it Anyway, and Young Sheldon. No news, please – it’s Shabbat!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Seventeen

If it’s Thursday, it must be Toastmasters – two meetings, in fact. Both went fairly smoothly; I was an evaluator at both of them.

We had to do separate walks this morning because we were waiting for another wine delivery, this time from Silver Mountain Winery via FedEx – it arrived just as we sat down for lunch (of course!). I went to the door so the FedEx driver could satisfy herself that she was delivering to someone over 21 (no, she didn’t ask to see my ID!), wrestled the box into the house, changed my clothes, and had lunch. I’ll let the box decontaminate itself for a day or so and then take care of it.

I decided that the wine that was delivered on Tuesday had waited long enough; it’s all in the closet now. There are a couple of bottles that probably need a year to rest before they’re ready, but the rest of them are fair game!

And I successfully finished pruning and geotagging my photos from 2000. It’s a start!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Sixteen

During our Trivia Zoom call on Tuesday, there was a lot of discussion about the dangers of shopping and how the various families on the call were minimizing their store visits. I’d been thinking we were doing pretty well to only go to the store three times a week instead of our daily-or-better visits in the olden days, but clearly there was an opportunity for improvement – and Diane pointed out we could buy a lot more at a time if we drove instead of walking.

This morning, we dusted off the car and drove to Lunardi’s with a paper shopping list (so we wouldn’t have to play with the phones in the store). I sanitized the hell out of the cart handle and we set out to get what we needed and get out – $199.13 later, we had most of what we need for the next week (we’ll have to get more fish between now and then, and I probably should have bought some chicken breasts to freeze, but I’m new at this bulk-shopping business).

We don’t do much shopping at Trader Joe’s, but it is our go-to place for chocolate, cashews, and coffee filters, so we walked over there in the afternoon (it was a lovely day for a walk!). We had to stand in line outside the store for about 15 minutes, since they were limiting the number of customers in the store, but we were fine with that. As we were waiting, an employee came out and told us the new rules: no quantity limits on anything but toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and flour, and they were out of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and flour! We’d brought our own bags, thinking we’d shop into them, but he asked us not to do that – they had plenty of wipes for the cart handles and they sprayed sanitizer on our hands, both entering and leaving. We left with two fairly full bags – lots of chocolate of various kinds, two pounds of cashews, a box of coffee filters, and a container of hummus (even though it hadn’t been on the list).

I have a Wyze camera in the garage whose sole purpose in life is to let me make sure the door is closed; it hasn’t led a very fulfilling existence of late. Wyze sent me an email yesterday with instructions on turning it into a webcam (which would be handy) – all I need is a spare microSD card to flash the firmware and a USB A-A male cable. I’ve got plenty of microSD cards, but no USB A-A male cables, so I ordered some adaptors from Monoprice so I can convert one of my far-too-many regular USB cables into an A-A male connection – the shipping cost as much as the adaptors (the total was about $6)! With luck, they’ll work and we can set up the webcam in the family room and do Zoom on the big TV next week.

I went to another Toastmasters speech contest this evening; I wasn’t a functionary, so I tuned in a little late and missed most of the reading of the rules – that made the evening more pleasant (in ten years of Toastmasters, I must have heard the rules read at least 25 times – they’re not designed for excitement). Members of my club won both contests and will advance to the Division Contest in a few weeks.

A few weeks ago, I was rearranging the components in the A/V system and had to make sure everything still worked. When it came time to test the Fire TV Stick, I didn’t want to play anything that was on our queue, so I picked a random Amazon suggestion: 
“Classic Movie Bloopers Uncensored”. I watched just enough of it to make sure everything was working, and then went about my business. But every time I turned the TV to the Fire Stick, I saw “Classic Movie Bloopers Uncensored” waiting for me – last night, we were looking for something undemanding to watch, so we picked it. “Undemanding” is definitely the word – it could have used a lot of editing. Watching actors blow lines and say “shit” and “Goddammit” gets old fast – but when they react more interestingly, it was funny – so we watched the whole thing. I’m not sure I really recommend it, but I don’t mind having seen it, and I’ve developed a new respect for Ronald Reagan as an actor.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Fifteen

Making two weeks and one day of the lockdown, which was extended today until early May – I hope it ends before the Omer does!

I spent most of the day staring at the UPS “Follow My Delivery” map – in addition to the wine that didn’t get delivered on Saturday or Monday, they also claimed they were going to deliver the LED cans from Home Depot. The two packages had different expected delivery times but the maps showed the same truck – and it was just two blocks away from our house at 9:30am!

So Diane and I went on separate walks to be sure someone was home. And then we did it again between 2-4pm. And I kept checking my phone throughout our Trivia Zoom party. And the truck kept circling our house.

We had dinner. No truck. Finally, at 7pm, the doorbell rang – and there were packages on the porch! I was on the phone with a doctor (he was following up on a routine matter, but he had a horror story he wanted to tell about his trip to the ER at Stanford the previous week, fortunately not COVID-related) and I couldn’t hang up on him, so Diane brought in the boxes and then changed her clothes for safety – we’ll let the boxes sit for a day or so before opening them.

Tomorrow, FedEx is supposed to deliver wine – they don’t offer a “Follow My Delivery” map, so maybe I won’t obsess quite so much. Sometimes, not knowing is better!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Fourteen

UPS was supposed to deliver the wine they didn’t deliver on Saturday; according to their maps, the truck got within three blocks of our house before going back to home base, and they’ve rescheduled for tomorrow. On the other hand, Muns Vineyard had told us they’d be delivering tomorrow, and they brought our wine today, so we broke even on the day.

I was able to use United’s Twitter account to verify that our flight to Japan had officially been cancelled. They aren’t giving refunds (despite DOT regulations) but the agent helped me find the least bad alternative for credit (one which, in theory, will generate a refund in November) – in the meantime, I’ve asked Chase Bank’s Twitter account how to dispute the charge. More on this if something happens.

Other than that, it was a day like every other day recently – a couple of walks, a little TV, too much time watching Twitter and Facebook for news, and cooking at home. We found an easy recipe for lingcod – then we discovered we didn’t have the all the spices it called for, so we improvised, and it came out just fine.

And how was your day?

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Thirteen

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon…I mean Los Gatos, and today was no exception.

We started with a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market – the weather was just cool and threatening enough to make social distancing easy, but the fish seller had already run out of tuna. I bought some local lingcod, so I’ll have to figure out how to cook it. Again, I had to use cash – this time, I got some bills back and stuffed them in my wallet (while wearing gloves) – any coronavirus will degrade before I have to touch cash again, so I’m not too worried.

Last week, the Los Gatos Creek Trail was uncomfortably crowded, so we decided to walk the sidewalks instead – once we got out of the immediate downtown, we had the world to ourselves. I’d rather be walking in greenery, but not having to dodge bicyclists was nice!

Lunch was Indian takeout (and wine); I waited outside for my order – while I waited, the skies opened up, but the restaurant’s awning kept me reasonably dry.

Beth Lee of OMG Yummy! led a “Pantry Cooking” class for Shir Hadash on Zoom; the focus was garbanzo beans. We have no garbanzo beans in our pantry – I think I’ll fix that next time we go shopping.

Dinner was leftover steak (and wine), then a quick walk, and that did it for today.

UPS claims they’ll deliver our wine tomorrow – we’ll see.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Twelve

The paper was slightly wet when I picked it up this morning, and the weather didn’t improve much all day. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go anywhere.

We’re looking at the parashah of the week during Torah Study this year with an attempt to tie it to the writings of Mordechai Kaplan; this week, we started Leviticus and went straight into a discussion of sacrifices and their relationship to how we pray. We didn’t get very far into Kaplan, but we’re going to continue along the same track next week. People are getting more comfortable with Zoom, too.

It wasn’t raining (much) after Torah Study so we went out for a walk before watching the Torah Service from Shir Hadash – it was the only walk we managed today.

We had to stay home in the afternoon because we were expecting a wine delivery from Tobin James Cellars in Paso Robles – UPS said it would arrive between 3-7pm and we didn’t want to miss it. While we were waiting, we called two of our local favorite wineries, Silver Mountain Vineyards and Muns Vineyards and ordered wine from them for delivery next week. Then we made dinner (a balsamic and fig chicken meal kit from Nob Hill Markets); no wine arrived, though, and UPS’s map shows the truck back at their depot in Sunnyvale. Oh, well – we’re not out of wine, so delayed delivery isn’t a problem.

I worked on my photos some more – I’m up to October, 2000 and a trip to England and Germany. Progress!

We ended the evening by watching the Ring Cycle – well, the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s The Ring Reduced (23 minutes). If only we’d watched that last week, we could have watched the Metropolitan Opera’s free stream of the entire Ring Cycle this week! Sometimes, you just get lucky.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Eleven

Today dawned chilly, with frost on the roof, so we decided to postpone our morning walk until it warmed up a bit. Instead, we talked with our son in Boston – he’s doing OK and staying busy at work (in his room, of course!). He’s been doing movie watch parties in the evening – I didn’t know that was a thing!

We decided today was the day to do “big” shopping, so I warmed up the car and we hit Nob Hill and Lucky for sale items and things too heavy to carry home by foot. The Lucky shopping center has quite a few restaurants, most of which were open for takeout (although Yogurtland is closed for the duration); we decided to pick up another take-and-bake pizza from Tony and Alba’s and had it for lunch.

Earlier in the day, Diane’s ophthalmologist had let her know that they had submitted a refill for one of her prescriptions; it was ready right after lunch, so we walked to CVS to pick it up and then got a few smaller items at Lunardi’s.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival announced that they were not going to start the season until September, so I spent the afternoon cancelling our hotels for our June and August trips to Ashland.

I’m still waiting for United to officially cancel our flight to Taiwan so I can get a refund instead of a credit – I think that’s what is required, and even then, I’m sure I’ll have to do a chargeback with Chase. If anyone has gotten United to cough up a refund, please let me know how you did it!

We took yet another walk this evening and stopped at Safeway for salad fixings; the store was pretty empty, which made me happy – it was easy to maintain social distancing. Like the other stores, they now will only bag into new bags, but since we only had three items, doing it ourself was easy.

And then we came home and sang along with Friday Night service from Shir Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!