Hunter, gatherer, … e-shopping commando.

I am taking this social distancing thing seriously.   But that means getting food in the house is a challenge.  I’m not really concerned about the amount of time it would take me to shop in these current times, with lines and limitations on the number of people allowed in a store at a time.  But I would really like to remain outside of COVID-19’s chain of transmission for a while.  Not to bring it home.  Not to pass it on to multiple other people.  So, I have taken to the interwebz to find delivery service and/or curbside pickup service options for my nearby grocery stores.  It’s not as simple as I thought.

In-store inventories are low, though continually being restocked.  So, even if I am able to find an item in a specific store, it may not be on the shelf when my real-life-shopper-hero goes to find it.  So there will be items substituted for the ones I wanted; some of which I get to pick, some I just have to live with.  Different grocery stores, even of the same chain, carry different items.  So, I have had to search individual stores to find specific items.

The bigger challenge has been finding a delivery window or curbside pickup window.  Most of the stores and services I have looked at in my busy corner of Austin have either no open windows at all, or the first ones are a week to 10 days out.  So I’ve had to be patient and persistent.  And, I have taken to placing an order ahead of time for each week and it is working ok for now.  Once an order is in the queue, I can add a few last-minute items to it before it is fulfilled.

I am using a combination of Shipt.com’s delivery service, from HEB, and HEB curbside pickup.  I’ve been happy with both.  Target also offers drive-up (in their parking lot) delivery, which has to be initiated from their app, not the target.com website.  I haven’t tried it yet.

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Wine and beer aren’t being delivered by most grocery stores, as that would require interacting with the delivery person to check the recipient’s ID, and the delivery companies are really trying to make each delivery interaction-free to keep their employees safer.   So I wanted to find an alternative source that would deliver alcohol to the house as well.  Solution:  Costco delivery!  Thanks for the tip, Lori 🙂  Costco uses Instacart.com for their same-day deliveries.  I had to wait a day and a half for any delivery window at all to appear, but one eventually did this morning.  It is 5 days away, and I grabbed it.

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There have been a couple of food items that have been extremely hard to locate, but I stumbled upon Amazon.com’s Amazon Fresh store online, available for Prime members.  Yesterday I ordered found a couple of items I haven’t located anywhere else, and they were delivered within 2 hours!

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I know I am one of the fortunate ones to be able to afford this luxury.  And I am thankful for that.  I hope my using the service and tipping well helps the workers on the front lines.  My goal is to try to avoid placing a MEGA grocery order for things I really don’t need right now.  And, rather, place several small orders, spaced out over the next few weeks to get only things we need, leaving the rest in the store for others to buy.

Shop on!  And be well.

P.S.  I just love HEB.  They are more than a grocery chain to Texans.  They are integrated into their communities across the state, especially in times of disaster, be it a hurricane, mass-shooting, or pandemic.  Their motto is “No store does more than HEB.”  That is the truth.  Here is a great article on their preparations for the times in which we find ourselves:   https://www.texasmonthly.com/food/heb-prepared-coronavirus-pandemic/

 

Distantialism.

Distantialism; a word I made up to capture the way of life we have all been suddently asked to embrace due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping in touch via technology:  We have been keeping to the house for the last week or so, even before the City of Austin declared a shelter-in-place order last night for the next 2-3 weeks.

I’ve been using video chat apps like zoom and skype to keep in touch with multiple groups of friends and family at a time.  Alternatives didn’t meet my needs; Facetime doesn’t run on non-Apple platforms, and WhatsApp only supports chats amongst 4 people at a time.

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My niece introduced me to the marco polo app, which I can only describe as a group texting app, except instead of just asynchronously texting eachother, you can send video clips to eachother which can be viewed by the recipient(s) at their leisure, and then subsequently responded to.  You can also use it for real-time communication, though, in which case, as my niece describes it, it works kind of like a video “walkie-talkie” where each person takes turns “talking” by sending small video clips.

Grocery shopping without going to the grocery store:  I have tried using our local grocery chain (HEB’s) delivery and curbside services.  I can’t say how that has gone, though, since the first delivery slot available when I placed my order 8 days ago, was for tomorrow.  So I get to wait another day and see what actually gets delivered.   Their curbside pickup/delivery timeslots are booked 10 days to two weeks ahead of time now, so I’m not sure how much more experience I’ll get with them.

I signed up for Shipt.com, in the hopes that I could schedule a much sooner grocery delivery.  The membership fee is about $99 for a year, or $15/month.  They had an opening for the next day, so I decided to try it out.   It actually worked well.  My shopper texted me when an item that I wanted wasn’t available, so I could pick a substitute from the available items.  There was a bit of a snag on the delivery end, but it all worked out in the end.  🙂

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Entertaining myself:  I’ve been taking walks in the neighborhood and nearby parks, streaming TV shows and movies, watching the many now live-streamed instead of in-person events, gardening, and whatever else my heart desires (that I can do in the confines of my house and/or yard).

I hope you are all faring well.  Take care.

Keeping it real.

The world out there seems to be going nuts.  Kids are home for weeks.  States and entire countries are on lockdown.  Countries are closing their borders.  The market is in the tank.  We are on the front end of an exponential infection curve.  People are hoarding things that other people need.  There will be many more people who will die from this pandemic, sadly.   But, it’s not the end of the world.  Life must go on.  What matters is how we feel inside, how we treat others, and trying to think about the good things we share.

Today is Monte’s birthday.  So, today, we’re celebrating that.  🙂  Be well, and stay home if you can manage it.

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Out and about.

Last night I ventured downtown to celebrate Lori’s birthday.  It was nice to catch up with everyone that could make it.  In the midst of the state of emergency declarations and the cancellation of SXSW, it felt odd to be walking along not-busy streets of South Congress where it would have otherwise been packed shoulder-to-shoulder with crowds.  We are living through some weird times.

Happy Birthday Lori!

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Rainy day project.

I knocked out a quick project today as rain soaked the yard. It’s a bag to hold a 3L boxed-wine bladder. Boats don’t much like things made out of cardboard; roaches do. So we don’t bring cardboard on-board. This bag will hold, hang, and dispense the wine instead, so we can toss the box for recycling. Yes, that’s right, I just ooze class. 🙂

Mmmm, pizza pizza.

Doray was in North Austin for a few days this week to watch grandkids play in a basketball tournament, so Tom came up as well to stay over Saturday night for dinner and cards.  Monte whipped up his dough, and we enjoyed savory pizza goodness.  Our version of Brick Oven’s Tuscan Truffle pizza:IMG_0218

Remnants of a Margherita pizza and a Meatasaurus pizza:IMG_0220

SOOO good!

Quick trip.

Last week, Monte and I flew to Charleston to meet up with Lori, to crew for her as she moved S/V Trident south to Brunswick, Georgia for the rest of the winter.

Trident in her slip in Charleston is in the foreground, to the right, of the picture below, with 2 tankers getting ready to pass nearby in the narrow Cooper River ship channel just outside the marina, and the Ravenel Bridge in the background.  The two-masted schooner at the dock to the left is the 140′ Spirit of South Carolina.  We finagled our way on board her to watch the Charleston Christmas Boat Parade up close the night before we departed.

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After we landed in Charleston, I had the Uber driver make a side trip to my old house.   I moved many times when I was a kid.  When I lived in Charleston, I was around 7 to 9 years old, and I think it is the first place I lived where I have lots of my own, real memories – as opposed to memories from snapshots, stories, or individual moments in time.  The old chez:

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After provisioning and finishing the short pre-departure list of boat chores, we had a chance to walk around Charleston a bit, and sample its great seafood, which was nice.  I would like to come back with more time to see the sights.  The Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park:

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Colorful housefronts along Rainbow Row: IMG_9837

We took the Intercoastal Waterway from Charleston to Savannah, anchoring one night in a creek just off the ICW, and staying at marinas in Beaufort and Savannah.  We strolled around Beaufort’s oak-lined and moss-draped historic streets, making a stop by the house where The Big Chill was filmed.  We had a lovely visit with our niece and her family in Savannah.  Amy Lee gave us the best car-tour of its historic downtown, as a slow rain fell.  Then we took the outside ocean route overnight from Savannah to Brunswick.

It was very COLD overnight on the ocean, but we made it!   Another adventure in the books.

 

 

 

 

Table for Two.

Sometimes we have a house full of people.  Sometimes we have a couple of people over.   Sometimes we take the feast to the boat.  This year it’s just Monte and me, at the house.  And two birds.  Well, three if you count the turkey.   Monte said this may be the only Thanksgiving dinner photo on the internet without people in it.  🙂  Use your imagination!

Cheers!  Hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving.  🙂

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Grace.

Monte and I spent the morning at ground zero for Kyle’s Challenge. There were a dozen or more smokers and grills cooking up about 50 turkeys at a time. Sides and desserts were being stockpiled as they arrived. They’ll keep this up through the night till everything is cooked and ready to be plated tomorrow.

God bless these good people.

Pie day.

Today was a baking day. I signed up to bring two pies to Bill & Yvonne’s house tomorrow. They are in the seventh year of organizing and executing a massive community effort to cook turkeys and all the fixings for Annie’s Way Thanksgiving, providing a couple thousand meals to families in the community.  This year their goal is to cook over 150 turkeys tomorrow, to be packaged up and delivered for Thanksgiving Day. They call it Kyle’s Challenge, which the Austin American Statesman featured a story on here. It’s quite a commitment.

All set!

All done. That third pie in the back is for Monte. 🙂

Getting into the spirit.

Last night Monte and I met Joel downtown.  He’s been a friend of ours for about as long as we have lived in Austin, and he has enjoyed (?) some of our most exciting moments sailing on Lake Travis.  And,  he STILL wants to hang out with us!

We bumped into a couple of our friends, and Joel bumped into a couple of his friends, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy yourselves, and enjoy the friends and family that you are blessed to share it with.

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Across the years.

My high school friend, Irene, was in Austin this week.  She and a colleague and another friend were headed for San Antonio for a conference and made a side trip to Austin.  We karaoke’d, texmex’d, BBQ’d, imbibed, touristed, selfied, and enjoyed catching up.  Then I drove them all to San Antonio for the conference and stayed at their hotel on the Riverwalk.   I even squeezed in some birding while their conference was in session.

Irene and I were besties in high school.  Life happened.  We ended up on opposite coasts and fell out of touch until rekindling our connection in the last 10 years, in which I have really enjoyed our rendezvous.  The years melt away and what is left is pure friendship.

Singing and dancing…

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Tour of ATX…

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MEAT! @ the Salt Lick…

IMG_9502Pretty views along the Riverwalk boat tour…

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A lovely night along the Riverwalk…IMG_9598

Hotel room view of the Alamo!IMG_9601

See you again soon, Irene!

 

Septemberfest.

Monte and I rang in our anniversary with a trip through the Texas Hill Country.   We had our own mini-Oktoberfest exploring Altstadt Brewery and spent the weekend in Fredericksburg.

We enjoyed the wine and brews of the region and some local good-eats.  We also did our share of antiquing and mantiquing and each brought home a little sumpin-sumpin.

The Longhorns have an off-week, but we caught them chilling in the shade near the Pedernales River:

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We did a number of laps down Main Street in Fredericksburg.  Next week is Oktoberfest in F-burg, so GET DOWN THERE! IMG_9329

You gotta love the Texas wine trail… grape vines and live oaks.IMG_9333

And zinnias as far as you can see…IMG_9336

Happy Anny to us!