FIFO

We’ve begun our third week of isolation. Our state, Oregon, has done well on containment. As of today, we stand at 538 confirmed cases and 8 fatalities. No fatalities have been reported in my city, Ashland. Nineteen cases are reported for Ashland. Our city hospital been set up as a COVID-19 county treatment center for mild to moderate cases.

The first two weeks of being sequestered at home, we cleaned, inventorying supplies on hand and reviewing recipe and meal ideas.

(Okay, when I say, ‘we’, I’m using the couple we. My wife has done 99.9% of this. My input has been almost negligible.)

My wife suggested first in, first out eating practices. The oldest stuff should be consumed first, if we agree it seems edible.

I countered: we want to use our fresh produce so that it doesn’t go to waste.

A compromise was agreed: FIFO would be employed one day, and a fresh meal the next. Whenever we do a FIFO meal, we’d add fresh produce, if it made sense. Smoothies would be consumed each day.

It’s been going well. We were well-supplied with staples. My partner baked. A can of old pumpkin was sacrificed (along with old cream cheese and an extra sweet potato) to make a pumpkin roll and pumpkin muffins. A quarter was consumed; the rest were frozen for future eating.

She slices and freezes bananas that become overly ripe (they’re used in smoothies). But when we’d had a large supply of them established, she made us banana-pecan muffins. Again, a few were consumed, but most were frozen.

Vegan split-pea soup followed, then roasted vegetable soup. Each lasted us several days.

Along the way, we’d been eating salads, which is our long-established habit. As COVID-19 practices and projections took shape, we began thinking in longer terms. While grocery stores have taken precautions and special hours set aside for people like us (over sixty years old), they also report supply chain issues. My wife has RA and is considered vulnerable. She didn’t want us going out if we could avoid it. But more supplies were needed.

Enter Instacart.

I created an Instacart account and explored it. Instacart supports four chains in our area: Safeway, Albertson’s, Fred Meyers, and Costco.

Costco! That’s our go-to place.

First I logged into Costo.com to check supplies. Out. Out. Out. Out.

I figured that resupplies would eventually arrive. I made it a daily practice to check. Finally, on Friday, bingo, several items that we wanted were now available. We also wanted fresh produce, for example, romaine, blueberries, bananas, celery, potatoes. Ah, that was available, but only if we shifted the order to Instacart.

Prices were compared. One, shopping groceries online with Costco is more expensive than shopping at the warehouse. Kind of expected, and they weren’t gouging us. Two, prices with Instacart were just a little more. Three, you tip your Instacart shopper.

Okay. We discussed it. Seeing that our supplies were going down, that cases in Ashland were going up, that the whole situation was unstable and uncertain, we put an Instacart order in last Friday.

The process itself was simple and well-organized. In fact, I consider it one of the better online shopping experiences that I’ve gone through. I was never confused about what was happening. They would tell us immediately if an item wasn’t available in our zip code. With some items, such as eggs, they warned us that they were in short supply, and brought up options. Cool.

Next were delivery instructions. Well, we didn’t want to break them directly into the house. We couldn’t leave them outside, either. I came up with an option: move one of the cars out of the garage and set up a table in there. When they were in route, we’d open the garage. They’d put the stuff in there.

The garage usually runs 48 – 52 degrees F at this time of year. We were only ordering one frozen item and a few refrigerated items. We’d put ice on those things and let everything stay out there overnight. Then, we’d clean it off and put it away.

Once the plan was established, we entered those instructions into our order and selected a delivery time. Delivery times were two hour windows on Saturday. They began at 2 PM. Well, we weren’t going anywhere… We selected two to four PM.

The order was received and processed within minutes. The system told us that we could change it, removing or adding things, until shopping was underway. After considering it overnight, we decided some of the stuff we’d ordered was too much, and removed them.

Next came our first ‘issue’, and it as small one. Our delivery window was moved to Sunday morning, 11 AM. Bummer. We were looking forward to it coming on Saturday. With little else to do, we were sort of focused on that happening. Oh, well, though.

Time passed. On a whim, I checked on the order.

Gadzooks! It was on the way. According to the email, it’d be arriving in about ten minutes.

Scramble, scramble, scramble! We were dressed, but had to follow up on our receiving plan. That done, a few minutes later, the delivery arrived.

Alicia P was our shopper and delivery person. She had an assistant with her (he was driving, citing the changing weather conditions as his reason for being). Everything went off without a hitch. Only one item didn’t make it: pasta. We have some pasta. I’ll do another order for Albertson’s via Instacart this week to see if that can be ordered.

Instacart recommended a five percent tip, which worked out to just under nine dollars. I upped it to fifteen. I figured Alicia P deserved it, and it was cheap at that. I acknowledge, yeah, we’re lucky. We have the financial wherewithal to do this, a Costco is in range, and people like Alicia P are willing to work for Instagram under these conditions. And, yes, part of my reason for pushing my wife to do an order on Friday night was that Instacart drivers were talking about striking on Monday, 3/30. The other reason was that stuff was at Costco, but how much longer would it be there?

So, we’re set again.

I slipped outside for a few minutes, taking out the recycle and getting the mail. We decided we’d pick up the mail every Sunday morning.

It was balmy and drizzly, a lovely day for a walk, except for the hidden killer that could be lurking in the air. Sadly, I returned to the house via the garage and followed sanitizing precautions.

Hope you’re all doing well out there in webland. Good luck, and stay well.

Cheers

Sunday’s Theme Music

Back with an old Kinks favorite. It popped into my head as I saw myself in the mirror as I began shaving.

Hello you, hello me, hello people we used to be
Isn’t it strange, we never change
We’ve been through it all yet we’re still the same
And I know it’s a miracle, we still go, and for all we know
We might still have a way to go

h/t to Genius.com

This 1978 song was about the changes the Kinks were going through so far as lineup, but tells in parallel about a man influenced by their music. Each, in a way, is going through a rock and roll fantasy, from coping with being musicians making the music, to fans listening to the music and taking solace.

In writing, we always talk about how characters change. Yet, how many times have we experienced people in our lives and realized that they haven’t changed, and probably never will?

As we’re going through this global pandemic, I wonder what changes are being wrought, and how many will last? We already see that some people aren’t changing, and won’t change.

We might still have a way to go before we know.

Out

A soft drizzle played with light and horizons outside the car windows. Across the valley, sunlight was reflected over new spring growth — wineries and fields.

We drove about. What businesses are open? How is traffic?

The Subway sandwich job was open. Yumberry Yogurt. Grocery stores (Albertson’s, Safeway, Shop n’ Kart, Market of Choice, Minute Market). Pizza places and coffee shops had open signs annotated with “Take Out”. The grocery stores were moderately busy. Didn’t see customers at the rest.

Deer were plentiful, as if they appreciated people not being around. Cars plied the roads (maybe like us, or maybe people still working), but it was about twenty percent of what we’d usually see, making it pretty empty. (No traffic knots today.) (We don’t really get ‘traffic jams’ in our small city, except when roads are closed for parades.) The schools were silent and shut. A few pedestrians walked the sidewalks. Runners (in their twenties, males). We wondered, are those runners related? They’re not six feet apart. What’s their take on the coronavirus and flattening the curve?

We’d communicated with relatives in Florida. They’d spent the previous day visiting with friends and walking the beach. Had they stayed six feet apart? No. They’d had dinner at another friend’s place. We’re shocked. Yet, more came: a friend, bored up north, had come down and was staying the night with one. SOH. 

Up Laurel, past a church. People were lined up. Backpacks were on many. Some looked like a shower or bath would be welcomed. In the church’s courtyard, a table was set up, the line’s terminus. Hundreds of stuffed brown paper bags filled the table. Two women stood behind it. Meals and supplies being given out to the needy, we assumed.

Around the corner, and then we descended into the park. More deer. One man walking. Three porta-potties had been set up, along with two wash stations.

Up to the plaza, onto the main drive. Businesses were closed and dark (except for a few restaurants). Parking was plentiful (yeah, dark humor).

The streets and sidewalks seemed clean, tidy, and expectant, as if they waited for everyone to come back. When would that happen? We wondered, driving home, the short tour ended.

Back in the car, the car’s interior and outside door handles were wiped down. Gloves, shoes, and jackets removed. We hadn’t been outside, just in the car.

Still, we hear, something could be in the air and settle on the surfaces. Better be safe.

Saturday’s Theme Music

Thinking of all the ways we’re being told to stay home or in semi-isolation and seclusion – shelter in place, hunker down, etc. – when the thoughts dredged up an old Joe Cocker song.

“Shelter Me” is from his album, Cocker (1986). That album is known more for “You Can Leave Your Hat On” (written by Randy Newman), which was used in several movies (bet you can think of at least one) (if you’re of a certain age or older). Meanwhile, I’d play the album and grew to like “Shelter Me”, even though it has that late eighties sound that sometimes was over-used (you’ll know what I mean, if you are of a certain age).

But the song’s opening lyrics work for the age of the coronavirus.

This ain’t no place for losers
Or the innocent of mind
It’s a full time job
For anyone, to stay alive
The streets have shallow boundaries
For the war that’s everyone
What a wasteland for
Broken dreams and hired guns
Shelter me, baby shelter me
When I’m sitting like I’m losing ground
Shelter me

h/t to Metrolyrics.com

Okay, they’re not perfect, but I can play off that sense of boundaries – stay six feet away from one another, watch what your touch (don’t touch your face), and wash your hands (properly) – and the wasteland of shopping areas, airports, highways, restaurants, etc, and how some might think we’re losing ground and standing still.

Or maybe I’ve gone for a metaphor too far. Possible.

Anyway, on to the music, and Joe’s voice.

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