About those COVID tests

I saw this rainbow on my morning walk yesterday.

I want to take a COVID test. I don’t have terrible symptoms, I just don’t feel great. I’ve stayed away from my husband for a week. His symptoms are gone except for a cough. I’d like to know if I’ve got a mild case of COVID, or if I’ve got a cold or flu. Maybe it’s nothing. But I’d like to know.

Here’s the problem. I ordered the tests from the government. I’ve heard they will ship in 12 days? I looked at Amazon and the only test that I can get before February — costs $89.

I’ve looked online for COVID testing at CVS and everywhere within 20 miles of me. There are no appointments available for a week.

So what do I do?

Rest, eat my chicken soup, take handfuls of vitamins and wait.

Frustrating.

Have you tried to get a COVID test at a pharmacy, doctor’s office or one delivered to your home? Are you finding them unavailable too? Or were you able to get tested right away?

What’s in a Wordle?

Wordle solved puzzle Jan. 19.
Yesterday’s Wordle. Not my best attempt, but I got it done.

Have you been caught up in the latest viral craze? My son introduced me to Wordle last week. I struggled to solve the puzzle. You get six guesses to solve the five-letter word of the day. Then I noticed Wordle was trending on Twitter. Then one friend and fellow blogger sent me a link to play. Everywhere I looked there was Wordle.

The topper was a blogger I follow, “Tater,” who was interviewed by the Washington Post in an article about Wordle. You can read the story called “Wordle is our New Drug” HERE and visit his blog “The World’s Common Tater” HERE.

What makes the puzzle so much fun? I think it’s the simplicity and that it’s only one word per day. It’s much easier than a crossword. And it only takes a few minutes.

My son came up with a surefire winning strategy. He looked up the most common letters used in the English language. It was a list of 15 letters and he came up with three words: earnt (which is a word in the UK), coils and dumpy. You type those words in and presto! You get four out of five of the letters — or at least enough to solve the Wordle.

I found that to be almost like cheating, so I came up with two words that cover all five vowels and the letter Y. Yearn and moist. I still solve the Wordle, but it’s a little harder.

Here’s an excerpt from from a Wall Street Journal article by Joseph Pisani called “What Is Wordle? How to Play the Viral Word Game and Tricks to Impress Your Friends: Everything you need to know about the online game that has taken the internet by storm.”

Wordle, an online word game, seems like it is everywhere these days. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Wordle? It is a once-a-day word game that has gone viral in recent weeks. It only can be played on a website.

Who brought this on us? Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from New York. He created a prototype in 2013 and dusted it off during the pandemic for his partner, who likes playing word games.

How do I play? Go to the game’s website on your desktop or mobile browser. The URL is: https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/

Wordle is simple: You have six chances to guess the day’s secret five-letter word. Type in a word as a guess, and the game tells you which letters are or aren’t in the word. The game is free and has no ads. The aim is to figure out the secret word with the fewest guesses.

What do the green and yellow squares mean? When you make a guess in the game, the letter tiles change colors to show how close you are to the secret word. If you guess “weary,” and the “W” turns green, that means the secret word starts with a “W.” If the “E” turns yellow, the letter is in the word but not in that spot. Any letters that aren’t in the secret word turn gray.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/wordle-what-is-word-game-11642016202?mod=life_work_lead_pos1

Are you playing Wordle? Do you have a strategy or do you wing it with guesses?

Onions and garlic

onions and garlic heads in wooden box on table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This past week I heard two things about onions and garlic that I never knew before. Actually, I need more information because I don’t understand the reasons behind the suggestions I got about onions and garlic.

With my husband sick, I made him chicken soup with lots of garlic and onions. I divided the soup into a portion for me and one for him in tupperware that I left on the front steps for him to pick up. It was delicious and I cooked a second batch yesterday afternoon.

One friend told me that her mother-in-law would place sliced onions throughout all the rooms of the house when somebody was sick. She did that decades before COVID, but I’m wondering, what would it hurt? Then again, what would the purpose be?

I talked to another friend and she asked me for my recipe for chicken soup. I explained that it’s quite simple:

4 chicken thighs with skin and fat

5 cloves of garlic minced

1 large onion sliced

baby carrots and chopped celery

1 box of unsalted chicken broth, add equal parts water

Put in a pot and cook until done. Salt and pepper to taste.

My own throw it together chicken soup recipe

That’s it. My “throw it in a pot chicken soup recipe.” My friend suggested that I let the sliced onions and chopped garlic hang out together before cooking them.

“Why?” I asked.

She explained that it brings out healthful “properties” in the onion and garlic when they mingle.

However, I do not know what these properties are or how hanging out together changes anything. A quick google did not help. But I tried it anyway, I left the garlic and onions together on the cutting board to blend and rest together before throwing them in my new big red soup pot from Target.

I did find out that garlic and onions are in the same family and they are helpful anti cancer foods:

The Allium genus includes garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. These vegetables are popular in cuisines worldwide and are valued for their potential medicinal properties. Epidemiologic studies, while limited in their abilities to assess Allium consumption, indicate some associations of Allium vegetable consumption with decreased risk of cancer, particularly cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25586902/

What do you know about garlic and onions and their healing properties? Would you put slices of onions around the house when someone is sick? Do you think it kills a virus, or the virus is attracted to onions and is absorbed by them? I remember reading about placing sliced raw onions in a sick persons socks. Maybe there is something to this?

Rachel Ray red soup pot from Target.
My new soup pot in the Casita bubbling with homemade chicken soup.

Morning views from the neighborhood

Sunrise filtered through the branches of an Ironwood tree.
Sunrise view from the casita.

It takes a trip out of state to an entirely different environment for me to appreciate the beauty of my desert. I get used to it and lose some appreciation, but a trip away wakes up my senses. As I walked this morning around our neighborhood I was struck by the views of cactus, mountains and shrubbery. I like it out here. I’d like to see more some wildlife, too.

Mountain north of Scottsdale.
The mountain to the north. I think it’s called Black Mountain. I’m working on learning the names.
teddy bear cholla.
Teddy bear cholla with the sun peaking through clouds.
Cloudy sky in the desert.
Clouds. We should have an amazing sunset tonight.
saguaro with arms
A neighbor’s saguaro. We have lots of saguaro but only one has an arm.
A wash in the Sonoran Desert.
One of the things I love best about our neighborhood is all the open natural space.

What are some of the things you like best about where you live?

So far, so good

My husband is recovering from Omicron. He’s up and around — but not anywhere near me. I’m hanging out in the casita. I discovered things the casita needs to make it truly a separate living space from the rest of the house. I’m enjoying setting it up.

cat on a dresser with ceramic cat
Olive in the casita.

Amazing that you don’t realize what is lacking until you live in a space for a few days. For example, the casita now boasts dish towels, oven mitts, real dishes, a bath mat, condiments, laundry soap, trash bags, aluminum foil and clear wrap. Lots of little things to make it functional.

My apologies to previous guests who’ve stayed in our casita. It was really more of a glorified bedroom. Now, it’s a complete living space — and we’ll never even have to interact with our guests again. Just kidding.

I’ll be in this space for the next five days while my husband is quarantining. I didn’t want to traipse into the kitchen whenever I needed something, because he’s been in and out of the kitchen for a week with COVID. Something I’ve heard about Omicron is that it stays on surfaces. I have no idea if this is true or not. Have you heard that? But, thanks to my sister-in-law’s suggestion, I bought Clorox wipes. I got those at Target along with everything else.

I was fighting myself on the first night to not go into the master bedroom to check on my husband, and to stay out of the kitchen. He was so sick and in so much pain, I decided it wasn’t worth it to get it, too. So, here I sit in my own little space. The casita was a life-saver when we moved in because we bought the furniture from the prior owners. Our furniture didn’t arrive with us, so at least we had a place to sleep!

The casita is connected to the rest of the house by a hallway. It has it’s own vents, heat and air, so I’m not being infected with my husband’s germs. Kitty Olive has decided this is a good place to be, so I got her cat food, litter box and cat grass and she’s hanging out with me.

Have you or family members quarantined with other people in the house? How did you manage? Have you thought about preparing a place for someone who gets sick to be separated from the rest of the family? Why do you think some people in the same family get COVID, while others do not?

kitchen with yellow oven mitts and dishtowels.
Getting the casita stocked and organized. Like the oven mitts and dish towels?

What a week

Sunrise in Berkeley from the front steps
Sunrise from my son’s porch Thursday morning.

I arrived in Berkeley Saturday night to help my son for a week post surgery.

I called my husband repeatedly who remained at home. Normally, I talk to him lots of times each day when we’re apart. Even when he went into an office for work, we called each other several times a day. When I hadn’t heard from him in 20 hours — I was worried.

Finally, he called me back and he sounded horrible. He said his throat felt like razor blades and he was congested and had aches and pains.

He called his doctor for an appointment when he felt even worse. No appointments available for two weeks. You know where this is headed, right? He found a tele-med appointment and called me Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. — after his appointment. The diagnosis was Omicron. (Razor blades painful sore throat is the number one symptom.)

I was sitting in my son’s house with the kids begging me not to go home to my COVID-infected husband and house. They want me to stay. I’m sure my son and his girlfriend welcome my help, but don’t want me to catch the virus, either.

I’m terribly worried about my husband all alone in the state of Arizona with COVID. He’s already sicker than I remember him ever being.

We’ve been double vaxxed and boosted.

The kids received rapid tests from Amazon and they made me take one. It was the longest ten minutes waiting for the line to appear on the test.Two lines COVID, one line Negative. I cooked my son his slow cooking oats — waiting for the results to show.

Negative.

My husband works remotely from home. I’m home all the time. We’re together whenever we go out — at least this has been our standard operating procedure since COVID hit the country and we moved to a new state. How did my husband get it and not me?

I went back and forth on whether I should stay in California for a few more days, or whether I should take a flight back immediately. I finally decided to stick to the original plan and to take my noon flight home today. I’ll take a Lyft from the airport and move into the casita. Hopefully far enough away to not catch Omicron, but close enough to be there if my husband needs medical help.

What a stressful scary day. The other weird thing is when COVID hit so close, I felt like we had done something wrong. Like we’re guilty or dirty. I never felt that way with the flu or a cold. I think it’s because there’s so much politics going on with this virus.

If anyone in your family or close friends have gotten COVID, did they have a mild case or was it severe? How long did the symptoms last? Did part of your family get it but not everyone?

One of my favorite things to do…

…in Berkeley

Grocery shop.

That’s because of Berkeley Bowl, which opened in 1977 in a building that previously was home to Berkeley’s bowling alley. Berkely Bowl West, which is a short walk from my son’s house, is on Heinz Street in a building that housed a ketchup factory.

My first trip to Berkeley, our son and his girlfriend took us to see their favorite grocery store and to have lunch in the cafe. Now when I visit, I have to go to Berkeley Bowl. How often is a grocery store an attraction where you take your guests? At the airbnb I’m staying in, the owners list Berkeley Bowl as a must in “things to do.”

I’m hit with a wave of anxiety each time I enter, due to the abundance. There are so many varieties of everything that it can be overwhelming. Then, I settle down and enjoy the experience. Wandering through produce, seafood, meats, snacks, sushi and hot foods — with so many ethnic cuisines — there’s too much and I want to try everything. It’s an experience you should not miss, if you’re in Berkeley.

Outside Berkeley Bowl West with watermelons and fruit on display.
Outside the entrance to Berkeley Bowl West, one of two Berkeley Bowls.
Fruits at Berkeley Bowl.
A photo of a tiny bit of produce.
Wide variety of mushrooms at Berkeley Bowl.
Mushrooms. Have you ever seen so many types in one store?
I never knew there were so many varieties of chanterelle mushrooms — which are my favorite. I used to go chanterelle hunting with my mom in Washington state.
potatoes on display at Berkeley Bowl
Potatoes. My cousins have a potato farm. I wonder what they’d think of the varieties.

sushi grade fish at Berkeley Bowl
Sushi grade fish display. Also, I counted more than 10 types of salmon in the regular seafood section.
Deli sandwiches and caviar at Berkeley Bowl.
Deli sandwiches and caviar anyone?
Produce at Berkeley Bowl
Non organic produce as opposed to their organic produce section.

I miss the cafe which is closed due to COVID. I think there is take out, but I loved sitting inside with my kids having a bowl of chowder or something else amazing. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in the area — and there are lots of amazing places to eat. I told my kids I could have breakfast or lunch there every day.

What’s your favorite place to shop and why? Do you have a place like Berkeley Bowl that you take guests to see? Are you seeing empty shelves? I haven’t seen any in Berkeley.