All in a day’s work.

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During this prolonged shelter-in-place, when people ask me “what did you do today?” I usually go blank.  But I have been busy!  Aside from the household chores, cooking, and yard work, I have found contentment in these online diversions, which fill my day.

Photography

Nikon is offering their curriculum of 10 online photography classes to be streamed for free until the end of April.  How cool is that?  Link here.

Birding

High Island on the Texas Gulf Coast is one of my very favorite birding destinations during migration in April.  But not only is travel not in line with the current stay-at-home order, but the sanctuaries are also closed.  Thankfully, Houston Audubon, who owns and runs the High Island sanctuaries, is live streaming video footage from their Facebook page at 8AM and 3:30PM every Thursday through Monday.  Their Facebook link here.

Guitar

Fender is offering a 90-day free trial of their online guitar, bass, and ukelele lessons.   I’m a poorly self-taught guitar player of nearly 30 years and I’m learning new things by following their lesson progression, and more importantly, practicing again.  Link here.

Exercise

Lori recommended some beginner yoga sessions on YouTube, from “Yoga with Adriene.” I’m a yoga-newbie and am enjoying them very much.  Link here.

I use an app called “30Days” to help me to do higher and higher reps of traditional strength exercises like plank, situps, pushups, etc.  You pick the exercises, set your starting point, and for 30 days the app will gradually increase the reps, giving you days-off every few days.  I’ve used their app for years, on and off.  I’m 27 days into my latest 30-day stint and am back up to planking for 3 minutes.  🙂   The app isn’t fancy, there are prettier ones out there, but it’s free and it works for me when I use it.  Link here.

Amy recommended an app she used to train herself from couch-surfer to running a 5K over the course of 8 weeks.  They also have a 10K version which takes you from couch to 10K in 14 weeks, which is the one I’m using.  I’m on week 4 and am still enjoying it. They are both free to try for 7 days, and then you have to pay to upgrade to unlimited access.  The provider, Fitness22, actually has an entire collection of fitness apps.  Link here.

After 6 years, I am still wearing my fitbit One tracker every day.  I need to upgrade to a watch soon.  Either way, I use their app daily to track my activity and food.   Link here.

Things to listen to

Amazon Music, one of the perks of Prime membership, has a great selection of music; 2 million songs from their 50 million song library are free to listen to for Prime members.  You can search by song, album, artist, or listen to existing playlists and curated stations for something that floats your boat.  Keeto enjoys George Winston.  Link here.

Amazon Music has a channel on twitch.tv where they are hosting live-streamed webcasts.  Look for #togetherathome hashtag.  I listened to Hayes Carll play live for an hour on his patio last night.  The audio was very well done.  Link here.

I’ve gone overboard subscribing to and listening to podcasts, true crime is my addiction.  I have new content to listen to each day.  I use the Stitcher app to listen.   Link here.

Foreign Language Learning

I still use the free app Duolingo to practice my Spanish every day or so.  Link here.

Things to watch

The British National Theatre is streaming previously recorded theater performances every Thursday in April, on their YouTube channel.  We watched the first one, a comedy called One Man, Two Guvnors, last week and really enjoyed it.  Link here.

The Metropolitan Opera is streaming videos of previously recorded opera performances, a new one every day.  Link here.

Acorn.tv is offering a 30-day free trial of their British TV shows’ episodes (which we enjoy very much) for new subscribers, instead of their normal 7-day free trial.  Use the code FREE30 when signing up.  Link here.

Videochat

Ok, hands down, I’ve adopted Zoom for video chat.  The free version allows unlimited video meetings with a 40-minute time limit on each, which works for me.   Link here.

Online multiplayer games

We have spent many hours playing online games with friends and family.  I think that trickstercards.com and boardgamearena.com are both well done for this.  We combine them with a zoom video chat.

Food & Drink

Virtual wine tasting from Becker Vineyards.  What’s a virtual wine tasting?  Well, Becker is selling different 3 pack bottles of different varietals each week, which you can order to be shipped to your home.  And then a few days later, you tune into their Facebook Live sessions to participate in a group tasting of each bottle with experts from the vineyard.  I just bought the 3rd tasting pack.  It should be good!  Link here.

I posted previously about my ongoing on-line grocery shopping adventures for delivery and/or curbside pickup.  I’ve been pretty good at keeping an order scheduled a week to 10 days ahead of time, to keep fresh food in the house.  Let me say, again, HEB is awesome!  Link to my previous post here.

 

 

 

 

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.