Monday, April 26, 2021

California - Part I San Diego

We flew from Minneapolis Friday morning. It’s been a couple years since I’ve flown anywhere. We wear our masks and so does everyone else. Its nice having the middle seat empty. Delta is the last airline still doing that and they’re stopping in May.

On the plane I crochet, watch Shietsel, read my New Yorker. I eat a muffin but nothing else. A 3 hour flight and we’re in San Diego.

Dan and Kelsey meet us at the airport. We haven’t seen them since July. We drop our bags at the hotel and then go to the house they rent. It’s in La Jolla, high over the ocean. You can't see the ocean from their house but it’s not far away. It’s in disrepair, built in the 1950’s. The owners are renovating it so the rent is cheap for this area.

We meet Rossy, their adorable puppy. She is all fur and spunk. She very friendly, and pretty well trained already especially for a baby that's only 14 weeks old. She's even mostly potty trained and least if you let her out right when she goes to the door!

We go to a poke restaurant for lunch. We sit outside eating poke and some of Lee's fish tacos because he ordered too much. Then we go back to the hotel and unpack and get organized. Its only a mile from their house so its very convienient. And its a Marriott Residence Inn so it has a small kitchen. 

We take a walk to an overlook high above the ocean.  Rossy hasn't had all of her shots yet so she's not allowed to walk around where other dogs might have been. They carry her in a doggie snuggly, but she's getting a little big for it. In another week she'll be able to walk around like a big dog. It’s chilly in the shade, hot in the sun. The views around are spectacular.

On Saturday I run around the UC San Diego campus in the early morning fog. I pull up my buff when people are near but not many people are out. It’s very hilly here but I keep the pace easy and don’t stress. I don’t know how much I will run while I’m here. I’ll try not to worry about it because 1 week won’t impact my training and the break may even help. But still. 

Barb Lais lives in San Diego so she comes over and spends the day with us. She’s lived here for many years so she takes us on a tour. We go to downtown La Jolla. We park and walk to the water, see the sea lions and the caves. We find a restaurant where we sit outside at the bar for burgers and cocktails. 

We take the car to the top of Mount Soledad and take in the amazing views.

Sunday morning my idea was that it would be nice to run along the beach. Nice and flat, right? Dan was going surfing, so we all accompanied him. Kelsey, Lee and Rossy hung out on the beach while Dan went surfing and I went for a run. Only I somehow chose a route that took me up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean! So much for flat! I ran for 5 miles south and then ran back. Very petty, and I managed to stay within the prescribed pace range for all but two of the miles without really working on it.

Afterwards we got tacos for lunch. They were amazing! I had a fish taco and a potato/chorizo one. And a Mexican Coke. And some of Dan’s cherviche. In the afternoon we laid around the house. 

Later in the afternoon we go over to this place near their house where you can see the paragliders. Its beautiful to watch but I would never ever want to do it myself.

Dinner was at Din Tai Fung. It was very delicious as always. We got a LOT of dumplings, couldn’t finish them all.

Monday I went running, thinking I would only run 4 since we were going to the zoo in the afternoon. I ran too fast, and ended up running 5. On the way to the zoo we stopped at Nordstrom Rack so Dan could buy some shorts and Lee could buy a swim suit. I ended up buying some compression running shorts. We’re going sea kayaking on Tuesday and Lee and I needed something we could wear under a wetsuit, since we didn’t bring our bathing suits.

We stopped at a sandwich shop for lunch. Amazing sandwiches, mostly seafood, and garlic noodles. I got a ginger beer, made locally. Very gingery! 

At all of these restaurants we have been sitting outside. We wear our masks until the food comes, and if there is table service we try to remember to put them back on when the waiter comes to our table.

Vaccine availability in California has just opened up to everyone 16 and older and there seems to be a scramble for the vaccine. Dan and Kelsey managed to get appointments in Yuba City, outside Sacramento, for Thursday, but that’s an hour and a half from San Francisco, so they keep trying to find something closer, or along the drive back on Wednesday.

The zoo was great. We walked all over, seeing monkeys, birds, tigers, elephants. The best was probably the polar bear, who found a carrot right by the glass viewing wall and proceeded to enjoy it right there. 

We walked a lot. The others were tired, so you can imagine how I felt after 10 miles on Sunday and 5 miles that morning! The San Diego zoo is expensive. The tickets are good for the entire day, but after 3 hours or so we were spent. We didn’t get our money’s worth but that’s ok.

I have to say, most people in California wear their masks, and wear them properly. I saw maybe 10% of the adults at the zoo not covering their noses, or pushing their masks below their chins. I’m trying not to be so judgmental. After all, if we didn’t have our shots I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a crowd like that at all. We were in the open air, and it wasn’t too hard to stay away from other people, but still.

After the zoo we went back to the house to get Rossy, who had been cooped up in her crate for awhile. She really is a good little dog. They are spending a lot of time on training and it is paying off. They keep her on a house line so she can’t wander off and have accidents, and they work on commands, with lots and lots of little treats. Dan is her favorite, and she cries when he leaves the room, lol.

We went to a nearby outdoor shopping center and sat in the sunshine. Some people got ice cream, I got a Blue Bottle cappuccino. Dan bought cheese fries at Shake Shack which we all shared. Take a fry, dip it in cheese and then in bacon bits. Mmmm!

Dan and Kelsey got a line on what they hoped might be extra vaccines at a Walgreens 15 minutes away, so we watched Rossy while they tried that. No vaccine, oh well. They will try again on our drive to San Francisco.

On Tuesday Lee and I went to La Mesa to visit Barb and meet her friend Carla. La Mesa is a cute town east of downtown San Diego. We didn’t go to San Diego proper this time, maybe next time we visit.

Barb lives in a nice apartment, very close to the center of La Mesa. We walked to lunch at a nearby restaurant, Farmer’s Table. At first they seated us inside and even though it was nice and airy I didn’t feel comfortable and asked for an outside table. We are all vaccinated but are the servers? Barb and Carla were definitely more laid back about Covid protocols then me. Carla even shook hands with me when we met, and then I tried to discreetly wash my hands. I know it’s stupid.

The restaurant was pretty good. At the end Lee excused himself to go to the bathroom. He was gone a long time. I started to get a bit concerned. I could see several of the servers gathered near the restrooms, which were unisex single units. Finally Lee reappeared, with a napkin wrapped around his bloody finger. He had gotten trapped in the bathroom! The door wouldn’t open and the handle fell off the doorknob! They were all just milling about, unsure of what to do, so Mr. Engineer took the door off it’s hinges and freed himself! That’s how he cut his hand. He said the supervisor kept saying, “He broke the door! He broke the door,” until he said, “If you say that I broke the door one more time I will kick the fucking door down!” That’s pretty extreme for Lee!

They gave him a couple bandaids for his finger, and apologized but that was it. I think they should have comped our lunch. After all if Lee hadn’t freed himself what were they going to do? Call the fire department? I’m still a little steamed about it.

After our return from La Mesa it was time for our sea kayaking adventure. This was my idea, but when I suggested it I hadn’t bargained on having to get through the Pacific surf. As it came closer and closer to our turn to go out I became more and more nervous. It actually wasn’t that hard, but it was VERY bumpy! Wham! Wham! Wham! I said some nasty words along the way.

When we finally got past the surf it was fun. We saw dolphins, sea lions, swimmers (!). We kayaked over to the La Jolla caves, and even went into one of the caves, very briefly, with one of the guides in the water helping to guide our canoe and make sure we didn’t drift in too far, or hit a wall.

We kayaked a little over 2 miles total. And at the end we had to get back in through the surf. The guide said to lean back as we went over the waves to keep the nose of the kayak up and to steer into the curve if we start to turn. We tried but we ended up flipping anyway. The water was only like waist high so it wasn’t dangerous but it was still a bit upsetting.

I staggered out of the water. I was shaking and I just couldn’t stop. I thought I was cold but Dan said later that he thought I was in shock and I think he was right. I had a wetsuit on and they had warm water at the surf shop but the water felt cold to me and didn’t help. And I didn’t have any of the other signs of hypothermia. I wasn’t confused and I could walk just fine in spite of the shaking.

I didn’t really stop shaking until I got back to the hotel and got in a hot shower. After that I was fine, so who knows.

I like kayaking, but I’m not doing it again if it means going through surf like that.

We had carry out pizza for dinner. I had a couple glasses of wine. I needed them!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

March 2021 - Vaccinations, and the end of Grandparents Daycare

March 7

We have both gotten our first and second vaccines. We both got Moderna. We were just lucky. Our PC is through Ridgeview Clinics. We chose her (and Ridgeview) because their hospital is in Waconia, but they have a clinic in Excelsior, so it was convenient to where we lived while we built the house, and also after we moved. Because Ridgeview serves a semi-rural area centered on the western suburbs of Minneapolis, it seems like they were able to distribute their allocation of vaccine a little quicker than some medical centers closer to the city. Sarah’s mil, for example, wasn’t having any luck getting an appointment through her PC. She finally got on the Vaccine Hunters Facebook page for Minnesota and discovered that she could get an appointment through the Walmart in Brooklyn Park, so that’s what she did.

When the vaccine first became available we signed up for the lottery but didn’t have any luck that way. Next, when Minnesota published a list of all the vaccine providers I put myself on the list for as many as I could. Then we were able to get the vaccine through Ridgeview. But in the past couple of weeks I’ve also gotten a few emails from places around Minnesota letting me know that I could make an appointment through them. Fortunately I don’t have to go that route, because they were all pretty far away. I know some people have been traveling hundreds of miles in order to get a shot. So like I said, lucky.

Neither of us have had much in the way of a reaction to the shot. The only thing I had with the first shot was a sore arm. Lee didn’t even have that with the first shot. With the second I felt sick for a day. I didn’t run a fever, but I just didn’t feel well, and I was freezing! Lee had a sore arm with the second shot, and that was it.

Now we wait two weeks and then we can consider ourselves fully vaccinated. I want to do something to celebrate, but what? Maybe there’s a restaurant we’d like to go to that has those yurts outside to sit in? I don’t really feel like sitting inside a restaurant, since you still have to wear a mask except when you’re eating. 

A couple of nights ago I re-watched the movie Contagion. I saw it when it first came out, back in 2011 and thought it was a good movie. Up until now, the thought of watching it just seemed too depressing. But now, with the light at the end of the tunnel hopefully approaching I was curious to see what I thought.

 I enjoyed it, if that’s the right word. I enjoyed comparing the movie to our reality. Several things stood out. In the movie the R0 number was crazy, like 6, which is insane. And it was very lethal, like 25% of the people that got it died. People were dropping like flies, and quickly too. People panicked, sort of like some people did a year ago, but it really got out of hand, with looting and general civil breakdown. I’m not really sure why, except that it made the movie more exciting I guess. They were tossing around numbers like 25 million dead world wide. And although it spread both through aerosols and surfaces, people using gloves and masks were very hit or miss. And because it hit people indiscriminately, once they had a vaccine they used a lottery system to allocate it, and id bracelets to indicate if you had received the vaccine. It was very interesting, I’m glad I finally watched it.

You know, when it came out, scientists were saying that it’s not a matter of IF something like this could happen, it’s a matter of when. But I remember thinking “nope, not going to think about that, because it’s just too creepy.” And now here we are. Oh, there was also an disinformation campaign in the movie, with this disreputable guy touting “forsythia” as a cure, and getting a bunch of people to believe him! At least he didn’t suggest injecting bleach!

March 8

Today is a Kirby day and he has reached a new milestone over the weekend. He can get from his belly back into a sitting position! This is such a handy thing to be able to do, I’m very happy for him!

He’s at a stage where he understands a lot so I’m talking to him a bunch. He smiles and says “gah! Gah!” Conversationally. It’s great.

March 14

This morning I signed up for a live in person race! Normally I wouldn’t add a race to my calendar in the middle of marathon training but this is different. I haven’t raced in person in over a year and I just want to! And really I think its not a bad idea to have a real race under my belt before I run Grandma’s in June. There’s all the race prep details and the actual racing to remember. I’m a little rusty, plus I do have some hesitancy about going out into the world in spite of being vaccinated. 

So on April 24th I’ll race a 10k along the river in Minneapolis. I’m both excited and nervous, already!

I also went ahead a booked a hotel for Grandma’s. We were going to take the RV to Duluth like we did last time but right now they’re saying no spectators so it would be pretty boring for Lee. I’ll be fine by myself. I know a lot of people that have signed up for Grandma’s. Of course most of them are twice as fast as me but maybe I’ll see them before or after the race. At any rate  I’m staying in a Hampton Inn in Superior, about 10 minutes from Duluth. Grandma’s makes you take a shuttle bus to the start so its not that big a deal where I stay and besides I’ll have a car. 

March 15

Apparently Kirby is pulling up but I haven’t seen him do it here yet today. He got up on his knees though, trying to get the books off the bookshelf. I told him “no” and he frowned but stopped. I told him to wave bye bye to the books, and he did! That was pretty funny.

He is so, so busy. Dumps his toys out, plays with them. Scoots down the hall and slams the doors on the Tibetan chest. Scoots into the living room and gets out all the dog toys and balls. Experiments with the books. Goes to the screened porch door and pats the glass. I give him a bowl and some measuring cups and a spoon and he loves that for a while. Then it’s time to change diapers, eat something or have a bottle, take a nap. He doesn’t take long naps, maybe an hour if we’re lucky. Then he’s raring to go again. 

We are babyproof for a crawler but not a walker. He can’t manage the stairs yet, but he’d like to so we need to put up the baby gate soon. He’s so much fun though.

March 20

Thursday was the last day of Grandma and Gramps daycare. I am surprised by how sad I feel. I honestly was looking forward to it, not having to get up at ass o’clock to run, having more time to do the things I want to do. I keep thinking of the Prince breakup song, “Nothing Compares to You”. I’m going to miss them! I’m goin go miss getting to watch all the changes happen live in real time. They are at an age when every day can bring something new. And they are such an interesting combination of sweetness and obstinacy.

But I will be happy to be able to revert to being more indulgent and less the enforcer. And starting in May we will have one of them every Friday. Its mainly a matter of getting through this new adjustment.

Navigating this new stage of the virus is confusing too. They will be in daycare, getting exposed to new germs, and potentially exposing their parents to the virus. I will feel better on that count once Sarah and Erik are vaccinated. Lee wants to travel for work a little, I want to run live races. What risk we pose to other people at this point is unknown, but I hope it will become clearer over time.

March 25

We’ve been sans kids now all week. I’m glad, but I miss them like crazy. We’re going over to Sarah and Erik’s for dinner tonight, our last Spoon and Stable cooking class. We volunteered to pick the kids up at daycare and I can’t wait.

Leo had one rough morning at daycare and now he’s doing great. It’s been harder for Kirby. He’s never been around anyone else except the people in our quarantine pod and Sarah said he was very sad when she left him on Monday. I told her to talk to him and tell him that she will come back because even though he can’t talk yet he understands a lot. I hope he recognizes us with our masks on.

March 26

We picked the kids up from daycare last night. Lee went to Leo’s room. He said Leo was intently playing with a fire truck (of course) but when he saw Lee he dropped everything and ran to him and hugged him in delight. I went to Kirby’s room. The teachers remembered me, which was nice. Kirby sort of knew me and sort of didn’t. I think I sounded and smelled like meemaw, but the mask confused him a little. He’s doing better. He took an afternoon nap yesterday, although short, and he wasn’t quite as upset when his parent’s dropped him off. But by evening he is really tired. When I took him out to the car and took off my mask he gave me a big smile, like oh there you are! Babies.

Everyone was quiet in the car, but when we got to their house Leo became very excited and chatty. We divided our duties. Lee played with Leo, Sarah fed Kirby, and Erik and I made dinner. This was very backwards from our normal mode, but it worked.

The dinner was mushrooms with hand made gnocchi. I had never done this before, but Erik had so he had an idea of what and how to do this. The instructions were confusing and intimidating so we turned the video on for the gnocchi making part. 

We were supposed to do something with a pastry bag and string but in the video he just used a knife and we ended up making long worms of gnocchi dough ona cutting boardcutting them on the board with a knife and pushing them into the boiling water with the knife. This worked and our dinner was delicious.

Kirby went to bed before we ate, but before that he was crawling around. After a couple days in daycare he started crawling normally. This is funny, Leo did the same thing until he moved from the baby 1 to baby 2 room and watched the other babies crawl around properly. But if Kirby wants to move quickly he reverts to the army crawl method still.

It was so nice seeing them! Leo gave us big hugs when we left and we'll see them again on Saturday for Passover.

March 31

March was a good month, even though I miss the kids, I’m glad to have my freedom back. We had a little birthday party for Kirby on the 20th. His birthday was the 29th. Pandemic baby. He loved the wrapping paper, Leo absconded with his new toys but Kirby didn’t care. Sarah made a baby buffet, pigs in a blanket, little sandwiches, fruit. We all loved it. And the smash cake was hilarious. He licked the icing and tried to take a bite but it keep sliding away. 

The kids survived their first week of daycare. Kirby struggled with bottles and naps, but he’s adapting. Leo is shy, and struggled with separation from mom in the morning but he’s getting there too. I’m looking forward to May when we will start doing Fridays with one of them each week.

Now that I’m vaccinated I’m slowly emerging from hibernation. I’ve gotten a real hair cut, a pedicure, and had my brows shaped and dyed. I even went swimsuit shopping! But Lee just mentioned that we’ll have to get food at the airport for lunch and I got the heebie jeebies. Oh well!


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