Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 389

Our new washer and dryer were delivered today, bright and early. I had planned ahead and turned off the valves for the washer last night to make sure we could drain as much water as possible – that turned out to be a surprisingly good decision.

After the installer had put everything in its place and hooked it all up, he turned on the cold water valve and noticed it was damp – there was a teeny tiny leak. So he couldn’t officially install the washer – but since everything was connected, he left it in place and strongly suggested we get the valve replaced. When I called the plumber to make an appointment, they told me that I was lucky that the installer hadn’t discovered the problem earlier or he wouldn’t have connected the washer at all!

The new washer, like the old one, is a front-loader and wants High Efficiency detergent. The old washer’s manual suggested using HE detergent but said “if you can’t find it, use regular” – the new washer’s manual says “you MUST use HE detergent”. I thought I’d been buying HE detergent all along, but when we went to do our first load of laundry, I discovered that the last time I stocked up, I had bought regular – so we made an emergency run to CVS for HE. I’m sure we could get away with using the regular detergent but I didn’t want to start on the wrong foot.

After all of that, actually doing the laundry was blessedly uneventful.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 388

Our Sunday routine is, well, routine. We go to Downtown Los Gatos, park in the underground garage, and walk to the Farmers’ Market, do our shopping, and then take a longer walk. The route to the Farmers’ Market takes us by Travel Advisors of Los Gatos, and I usually glance at their windows as we zip by.

Two weeks ago, though, I saw something that made me stop:

Travel Agent Ad

Silver Mountain Vineyards was the first wine club we ever joined, and we’ve been faithful members for more than a decade. They’d offered a few previous cruises, but the time or the itinerary wasn’t right – but this one looked promising.

We talked about it, talked to the agent, and I did a little web research. This afternoon, we went back to Downtown Los Gatos and gave our travel credit card the most exercise it’s had in at least 388 days. The payment is fully refundable until mid-August in case things change, but I am hopeful!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 387

Last week, both of us had our annual Medicare wellness visits (you can’t call them “physicals” or Medicare won’t pay!) and the doctor ordered fasting blood tests for each of us. Diane also needed an ultrasound, which also required fasting, so we scheduled them all for this morning.

We got to the lab a few minutes early for our blood tests and they took us immediately; we drove home and I had breakfast, while Diane continued fasting. Then I drove her to yet another Stanford Medical facility for her ultrasound. It had been at least a year since we’d driven on that particular part of Winchester Boulevard, and there had been a lot of construction, including a brand new Dunkin’ Donuts just a block from the ultrasound place.

They said Diane’s exam would take about 45 minutes; I sat around and read for a while, but it was too nice a day to stay inside and I left for a short walk.

There were a lot of cars in the drive-thru line for the Dunkin’ Donuts – it wrapped almost all the way around the building. I thought about going in – but then my phone rang. It was Diane – she was finished and famished. I turned around to pick her up and take her home for lox and bagels – I’ll need some other excuse for donuts.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 386

I worked at the IBM Almaden Research Center for over 20 years. In that time, I probably drove Camden Avenue between Almaden Expressway and Harry Road at least a thousand times, stopping only at the stop signs. I knew there were parks and trails along the road, but I was too busy to check them out.

Today, we decided to explore that area, so we drove to the Camden Avenue trailhead for the Los Alamitos Trail. It was a bright, sunny day; we left the paved trail for the shady dirt trails alongside and started wandering.

There were flowers to see and the creek was flowing – it was a pleasant walk, especially in the shade.

I was surprised to discover that part of the walk went through “Singer Park” – there were no signs, but it was labeled as such on both Google and Apple Maps. I guess I should have stopped there years ago!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 385

Probably the most exciting thing we did today was go to Office Depot to have our COVID-19 vaccination record cards laminated for free, as suggested by this New York Times article.

Except that they didn’t actually laminate the cards – instead, they made a photocopy of the important side and laminated the copy. I guess that will be good enough if we have to show our cards for anything.

I’ve also scanned our cards and put them in 1Password so that they’re on our phones – that’s probably more useful.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 384

The Farmers’ Market was closed for Easter, but that didn’t stop us from going to Downtown Los Gatos and taking our usual Sunday walk.

Beyond that, we had a very quiet day. Possibly the most exciting thing to happen was opening the packet of paprika we’d picked up at the Kalocsa Paprika House on our Danube River trip in October, 2019!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 383

According to the Torah (Exodus 13:6-7), Passover (especially the requirement to eat only unleavened bread) is seven days long, and that has always been the case in Israel. But in the rest of the world, Jews added a day to Passover (and other holidays, with the notable exception of Yom Kippur) to be sure their observance completely encompassed the “proper” days as determined by observing the Moon in the land of Israel – and this custom continued long after the calendar was mathematically fixed so that there could be no doubt about the “proper” days.

In 1846, the Reform movement of Judaism (which includes our congregation, Shir Hadash) decided that there was no need to add the extra day and reverted to the Biblical definition of the holiday – seven days. And so Passover ended for us at sundown this evening, allowing Shir Hadash to kick off this year’s Gala celebrations with a Zoom make-your-own Pizza party.

Of course, we weren’t left on our own; Cucina Bambini provided the instructions and instructor, Ryan. He took us through the process and made suggestions about changes to make if we had more time (such as letting the dough rise longer), but even with the short schedule, the pizza was pretty tasty. We couldn’t quite finish what we made, but I’m sure it’ll be just fine as leftovers.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 382

I felt guilty for not having a photo with yesterday’s blog entry – but I hadn’t taken any photos, nor edited any, and what I wrote didn’t really call for a photo anyway. So I guess it’s no surprise that I woke this morning with an idea: we should go to a botanical garden!

We’re members of the San Francisco Botanical Garden, so we’ve been there many times, though not in the last year. I wasn’t sure how crowded Golden Gate Park would be on Good Friday (we try not to go on weekends because parking is a hassle) – and then I had another idea: visit the UCSC Arboretum and Botanical Garden instead, since we’d never been there and Santa Cruz is a lot closer than San Francisco.

Our first stop was the South African Garden (we still hope to go to South Africa this year, though we have a backup plan for 2022). I bought my new camera for our South Africa trip, so it seemed only appropriate to give it a real workout in the garden!

I had the camera set almost wide-open at F4.0, which meant I didn’t have a lot of depth of field. I liked that when it blurred the background, but not so much when I couldn’t get the whole flower I was shooting into focus, like the next picture.

Our next stop was the New Zealand Garden (we hope to be there in 2022!). Most of the flowers we saw there were California Poppies (it’s that time of year!), but I really liked this Electric Pink Cordyline.

There was a good bit of art in the New Zealand Garden, like “Sun Catchers”.

The California Garden was next, complete with California Poppies just under the welcome sign.

I also liked the Del Norte County Irises.

I enjoyed the Purple Ice Plant in the Succulent Garden.

Our final stop was the Australian Garden.

Although the parking lot was fairly full, we had no problems avoiding other visitors (we masked up anyway, of course). We didn’t run into any human workers, but I did find this busy bee near the exit.

I don’t know what gave me the idea of visiting the gardens, but I’m glad we went!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 381

PG&E outdid themselves today. We’d gotten a letter from them last week telling us that they would be doing maintenance on power lines near us today and that we’d be without power between 9am and 3pm. They didn’t turn off the power until nearly 9:45, and it was back on before 1pm – it was out long enough for our UPSes to give up, but not long enough to affect any food or for the house to get uncomfortably warm. I’m glad they’re doing maintenance, and I’m glad they could beat their schedule!

It’s still Passover, which means we’re modifying recipes to avoid obvious chametz. Tonight, that meant using rice chips instead of pita chips in Spiced Chickpea Salad With Tahini and Pita Chips; if I hadn’t known about the substitution, I don’t think I would have realized there was anything different.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 380

I have the bad habit of checking my email almost as soon as I get up. Mostly, I just look at the subject lines and delete obviously useless stuff, but once in a while, there’s an email that grabs my attention.

That was the case this morning with email from Vueling Airlines, telling me about a schedule change to our flight from Barcelona to Porto in August. It was a flight we had no intention of taking.

Last year, I’d been able to get refunds for almost all of the flights and cruises we’d had planned; the only exception was our flight on Vueling. They would only allow me to reschedule for another day, up to a year later, so I did that, hoping that they’d allow me to postpone again and use the credit in 2022.

Today’s mail said that they’d rescheduled my placeholder flight to be about six hours later. But because they’d moved it more than five hours, I now had the option of requesting a refund.

I took the option. The website offered Flight Credit with a 10% bonus, good for three years. When I declined that, they gave me a US phone number to call to get an actual refund. After listening to yet another recording offering me the Flight Credit, I was connected to an agent in Barcelona who (after offering me credit again) actually started the refund process. It’s more complicated than it should be because my credit card number got changed since I bought the flights, but I have hope!

We celebrated by getting our hair cut professionally for the first time in more than a year – I guess I should give the Wahl Peanut a really good cleaning and put it away.