Free Wine

IMG_9032

After the Medlock Ames virtual wine tasting, I was on the lookout for similar events.  My father-in-law had mentioned Venge several times when discussing Napa/Sonoma trips so I decided to explore if there were any virtual tasting available.  While Medlock Ames had sampled full bottles that I already had as a wine club member, I was looking for wine tastings where little kits are mailed out with 3 oz pours.  This would be more in line with a normal wine tasting and I had seen a few wineries advertise it.

So, in mid-May, I searched for Venge virtual wine tastings and found an event on 3 June!  Success!  Best daughter-in-law ever!  There was a pretty basic page asking for my name and address, which I filled out.  It was under the domain name Lessonly, which sounded about right.  Wine lessons, Lessonly, online learning- it all fit!  No other information was required so I figured it was a request/mailing list/something?  I wasn’t sure it would work but since no significantly personal information was asked for- no credit card, birthday, etc- I felt ok.

So, out of sight, out of mind until the next week when I got an email from Lessonly saying they were looking forward to the event, but would I mind providing the company I worked for?  I ignored that email, thinking it was a bit weird when, the next day, I received a shipping notification from FedEx that I would have a package the next week.  Specifically, a 22-lb package from Venge.  Uh oh, that’s a lot more than 3 oz wine samplers.  And again, I had not provided any form of payment!

So, I wrote to the woman asking for the company name saying that there may be a mistake in that I thought I was signing up for a routine wine tasting and this seemed to be an industry/corporate event.  Well, to summarize a few emails, it turns out that the wine tasting was a customer appreciation event by Lessonly for its corporate customers.  I think the wine was already paid for and I was told to enjoy the wine, but I wasn’t invited to the actual virtual event (this was said very nicely).  It still seems super-weird to me that a tech company wouldn’t be able to keep out unwanted people from subpages on their website but, *shoulder shrug*, I got wine! Retail value $300+, omg.

I liked the Croix wines the best.  I brought over the Venge to my in-laws’ house where we enjoyed the three.  SMS and I liked the Merlot the best while my father-in-law liked the Cabernet the most.  I wasn’t as big a fan of Venge as some other wines.  I thought they were super-jammy and almost too rich.  But it was still delicious- I just mention my rank order in a way that I would rank a day of wine tastings.  Some places I like better than others but they’re all really good.

IMG_9033

Day 1: Bird Update

IMG_9114
“I’m not stressed, you’re stressed.  Thanks for the playground, BTW.”

I am concerned that the birds fragile nervous systems may lead to their untimely death.  SMS and I have increased their freaked-outedness recently.  They really do get stressed out.  First, SMS scared them due to killing house flies, which have increased a lot in the last week.  Since the process involved sudden movements, loud “thwacks,” and killing of flying things, we’re pretty sure the birds thought they were next.  Although their eyes are small, they seem to weirdly widen and roll around when they’re really freaked out.  They also refuse to go into their cage.  SMS has since developed a more subtle way of killing flies that the birds seem not to notice so they’ve recovered.

IMG_9037
It was time for the poopy mirror to go!

But then I decided to do a deep clean of their cage.  After the great mite outbreak of 2019 after the extended stay in the bird hotel (although to be fair, the fig tree may have been to blame), I have worried when they seem to preen/scratch themselves a lot.  I decided it was time to clean their cages and throw away all their toys.  Boo!  This was an unpopular move in bird land. I sealed the deal by spraying them with mite spray, which they haaate.

IMG_9103
A knitting needle for a perch…a pathetic temporizing measure.
IMG_9104
Amazon, it’s for the birds!

I went guilt-shopping though and bought new toys.  So, now they have a new perch, sitting circle (currently ignored), and a new playground that they love.  Joe-bird has also decided to fly towards the balcony door and hang out.  I fear he may go the way of Edward-bird someday.

IMG_9119
Joe-bird plots an escape…

You know, I used to think birdwatchers were weird and boring.  And now, here we are.

 

IMG_9121
Surrounded by toys and treats…birdie paradise?  Why would Joe-Bird want to go?
IMG_9122
Can’t cage us!

San Diego Quaren-Queen!

IMG_8937
Me on the bow!

What does a blog that mostly focuses on trip reports and travel do when travel is off-the-table for awhile?  Go dark, in this case!  But I want to continue writing so while COVID-19 is limiting travel, I’ll start writing my deepest, darkest, TMI secrets.  I kid.  There is absolutely no way that’s happening.  I have been reading blogs that are on pretty impressive writing streaks so, no time like the present!

After spending the first part of May in a hotel room in LA, I came back by bus on 13 May. The Mercy pulled in on Friday, 15 May and, overall, it’s great to be back.  It’s an honor to serve and be part of a ship whose mission brings so much hope.  It’s also nice to be back home since the surge/backup capabilities of the Mercy weren’t needed- which is a good thing! I’m glad LA didn’t have an overwhelming situation similar to NYC.

IMG_8970
USNS Mercy, back in San Diego (5/15/20)
IMG_8958
We rule the roost!  Deal with it!

You know who else is happy to be home?  The birds.  That may be an overstatement.  They loved my in-laws house.  They seem to tolerate me.  But at least they were good houseguests (by report) and they certainly don’t seem to have missed any meals.  #quarentine15, but maybe in grams.

Things looked pretty good when I got home.  The houseplants and garden looked good, and I have one baby zucchini, one stunted tomato, and lots of blossoms.  Fingers crossed!  I also fixed the internet, aka, waited for the Spectrum Repairman to fix the internet.  Two-part solution: replace the corroded external connector and, when the connection was still dead, replace the modem.  Success!  The internet is now “blazing fast!”

IMG_9004
So many pieces that look the same. Sand!

I have started many quarantine hobbies.  SMS and I are working on a puzzle.  I cannot think of a more mentally draining endeavor.  I sit down enthusiastically and within 5 minutes, I feel like an eye-strained, pattern-blind monster with no energy.  It’s great!

I also made sourdough bread, which turned out pretty well.  Starter thanks go to my sister- and brother-in-law.  I followed the Tartine recipe, which is insane.  I took it one step at a time.  It made for a delicious loaf of bread.  My tips for next time (oh, yes, there will be a next time) are to use my standmixer at the first combined dough step and, biggest thing, use baking flour, not all-purpose.  I mean, the recipe even said this but I had what I had on-hand.

Finally, I bought knitting kits and started the first one.  Now, I’m the proud maker/owner of a cowl, perfect for the start of Summer!

I have read a lot over the last three months.  I watched Call My Agent/Deux Pour Cent, which is an amazing French show about a Parisian talent agency.  I’m trying to figure out a show that SMS and I would both like, but that’s sometimes tough.  The Great is out.  SMS knew that from the period piece costumes alone.  I’ve heard great things about Ozark but we watched the first episode and he thinks it’s a show I’d quit because of violence/nightmares, a là Breaking Bad.  That could happen.  The search continues.

IMG_8993

This past weekend, we extended our quarantine bubble and had a Medlock Ames wine tasting with my in-laws (4 other people, 6 total).  The takeaway lessons were low since it was easy to talk over a Zoom tasting but everyone thought the wines were great.  We also talked about the book Cork Dork and the utility of the Coravin system.

RenderedImage

Finally, I got some super-cool Facemasks as a frontline worker from Mark’s cousin’s company Goldsheep!  They are great and I’m really appreciative to Keri and her team!

More Mercy

Hello from Restriction of Movement (ROM) status!  Since SARS-CoV-2 decided to show up on Day 16 of the mission (boo!), our leaders not only moved quickly to take care of the patients/close contacts, they also decided to minimize the hazards of close quarters shipboard living by sending most of us to hotels.  Today is Day 10 since I moved off the ship the morning of 4/16.

IMG_8770

So, the above picture shows my last lunch on the USNS Mercy and it was delicious!  I’m dining al fresco because one of the initial social distancing measures was putting a mess tent/dining area on the help pad.  It was a gorgeous afternoon.  They must have known we were about to leave for the deliciousness of hotel food and they decided to up their game.

IMG_8767

On 4/16, I woke early for my last Mercy donut 5K.  I was a little slow but I knew that this would be my last chance for awhile.  Gorgeous morning.

IMG_8774

Here I am on the bus with our silly t-shirt masks.  The rules kept changing, which is fine. We’ve never been through anything like this before.  We now have to wear N-95 masks outside of our rooms.

The first hotel I stayed at was the Doubletree Downtown.  It was nice.  The room was a reasonable size and there was a small area that I could roll out my exercise mat.  Each lunch and dinner came with a DoubleTree cookie which is delicious but they are very rude and put the calorie count on the back of the bag.  Why is a cookie that small 330 calories?

IMG_8785

The food was fine, but not great PLUS my friend and I had a craving for delicious food.  The above picture is of my friend Sable (urologist) and I having a socially distanced lunch of Onigiri.  Yum!

IMG_8788

And I had visitors!  Mark’s cousin Amy, her husband Johnny and their son came over.  They were so nice and brought presents!  They are the best and repping their GoldSheep masks, a company owned by another one of Mark’s cousins.  We had to follow ROM rules so I couldn’t invite them in but it was a nice moment of social contact!

IMG_8790

On 18 April, my family had a Zoom promotion ceremony for my brother’s promotion to Major!  Huge news and an amazing achievement.  I had the honor of administering the oath.  It was awesome and we had a great family conversation afterwards.

Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 4.07.07 PM

The next day, I had an awesome Zoom meeting with my college friends.  It seemed a little touch-and-go based on schedules but it worked out!  We had a great hour-long hangout and it was really special!  What’s also special is my face- thanks for picking the best picture, Karen.

60938054545__63EA119B-6AC7-4F24-BBBD-A5D7D8B5D82E

On the 23rd, a significant number of people were switched to the Westin Bonaventure. Not sure why, but it is nicer and the food is a lot better.  Above, you see my current level of critical decision-making regarding which bed do I sleep in.  Sigh.  I’ll get back into the OR someday.

In the interim, I have been on Instagram a lot.  Popeye the Foodie Dog is an old favorite and fjamie013 is pretty funny with his fulfillment of photoshop requests.

60955476041__E86F8180-7114-4801-8B24-37C4A5416976

I have also started to take online Blender tutorials.  My goal is to learn how to use the software package to make medical models off of CT scan DICOM images.  For now, I set monkey heads on fire and make doughnuts (in progress).

IMG_8863

Finally, here’s my cute cloth mask from a general surgeon’s Mom.  He got a lot and offered a mask to all the surgeons in our chat group.  I also have my own care package on the way with Goldsheep– I can’t wait!

 

Mercy, Please!

Hello, from the USNS Mercy!  Here are two very different pictures of me but I’m smiling in both, I swear!  The left is me eating cake on 4/1, a day before my 40th birthday and the day of the Chief’s establishment/birthday.  My birthday was much more wine-free than I would have liked but it will be made up for at some point.  On the right is from today when I decannulated a trach, aka pulled it out.  It was not really a big deal but PPE is a big deal these days so I was protected!

Things have been slow, but this is a good thing!  That is, we’re here to be emergency back-up and LA has it under control.  I am a little bored and wish I were doing more but since elective surgeries are a no-go until at least 1 June throughout DoD, I wouldn’t be doing a lot more back at home.  So, instead, I eat.  Above are a few meals that I’ve had.  A little lacking on the fresh veggies but tasty.  Bonus: no dishes to clean!

IMG_8634

So, how do I keep from looking like James Garretson in Tiger King?  Exercise!  I’ve run a 5K almost every day and I’ve also done a good number of yoga sessions with the urologist.  She’s the only other female surgeon so we call it the Ladies of DSS meeting, usually at 10 am.

IMG_8631
My fastest 5K so far!

I also avoid the ship’s store, which sells unhealthy snacks as shown below:

They are also not good breath friendly, which is tough when we are supposed to wear masks.  We are following the CDC guidelines, meaning cloth masks which we are pretty sure do next to nothing.  But we are an organization of rule-followers so there’s that-

I have also run the ramps:

IMG_8629

I have also run outside, where I sometimes see my friends, mask-free!

IMG_8657
Joseph-bird paid me a visit!!

We keep a running casualty report.  It usually involves the toilets/head:

IMG_8734

The galley has machines with bossy signs, some inscrutable and some obvious:

We also stuffed plastic eggs for Easter.  The eggs were provided by the USO- thank you!

IMG_8736

View from the brow- we are very close to land!

IMG_8702

My new favorite painting:

IMG_8719