Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Monday, March 23, 2020

Thoughts on COVID-19

This blog has been silent for several years. Since we decided to move from off-the-grid life to life among other people in Windsor, Colorado. And, it has been a great couple of years. We have enjoyed a more active social life, the ability to shop for anything we might need in a matter of minutes, our trash and recycle being picked up each week! We miss the cabin, but not so much in winter. We've spend the past couple of summers at the cabin, only coming down to bring trash, shop and take care of the lawn.

Now that we are practicing social distancing due to COVID-19, it feels very much like being at the cabin and off-the-grid again. All the activities we most enjoy living in Windsor are now restricted or just downright difficult. We look forward to being able to get back up to the cabin for a while. But, there is too much snow right now. Maybe in a week or so.

Meantime, life is kind of crazy. Sometimes I feel like we are actors in an apocalyptic movie. We have definitely cut back our exposure to people. We try to do our shopping once, or at most twice a week. But, that does not mean visiting only one store. Getting basic necessities has required a foraging practice among various stores. We get a few of the thing we need at one store, and then go to another to try to complete the list. We are okay on toilet paper! With what we have on hand along with a box I ordered from Amazon, we should be okay for a while. What we are struggling with are the basic staples. Things like: eggs, milk and flour.

We recently decided to stop shopping for ingredients and cook from our pantry and freezer. So, we've inventoried both and found that we can eat pretty well (minus fresh vegetables and fruits) for quite a while.

Last night we cooked a pork schnitzel from some thin-cut, center-cut, boneless pork chops we found in the freezer. We simply pounded them out to be about 1/8-inch thick and dredged them in whole wheat flour, a beaten egg and some fresh bread crumbs made from a slice of whole grain bread. We fried them in a little avocado oil. We served them with eggplant slices from 1/2 an eggplant leftover from a meal several days ago. We mix equal amounts of room temperature butter with finely grated Parmesan cheese and spread it on both sides of 1/2-inch thick eggplant slices. Sprinkled those with a little salt and pepper and baked them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Yum.

I'll update this site once-in-a-while. Not sure anyone is reading it, but it will be a record of our activities and thoughts during this pandemic.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tuesday is “Foraging” Day

We've been asked by the Governor to limit our shopping activity to one day a week. We can do that. It is ironic that we've worked so hard not to have the mass-shopping instinct we had at the cabin, (see our article on Winter Provisioning, for example), and now have to move back toward that behavior. One of the things we enjoyed about being "in town" was the abiity to run out and buy anything we needed at any time 24x7.

Now, there is no way we can buy everything on a weekly list at one place, so we have to go foraging among various shops and grocery stores to get supplies. 

Today, Costco started it program of early shopping hours for seniors. Lynne and I technically qualify although I still don't think of myself as a senior. We went a bit early, arriving in time to fill up with gas and still be at the door at 8:00. Only, we ended up a couple of hundred yards from the door and had to stand in line, in the cold, for 20 minutes. We were glad we arrived when we did because by the time the line started to move, it had tripled or quadrupled in size. It must have been 1/2 mile long!

Photo of the line in front of us

Photo of the growing line behind us

They let in 150 people at a time and we were number 142 and 143, I think. There was an immediate mad rush for paper products and meat. We are okay on TP but needed paper towels, so we got some. We also stocked up on chicken parts, hamburger, some nice NY strip steaks, eggs, flour, etc. Actually, we got almost everything we had on our list (and a little more). We stopped at Safeway on the way home and managed to pick up the remaining few items that Costco does not carry. In summary, a very successful day with little actual foraging required.

It is a beautiful day outside and we will likely take the dogs for a walk mid-day. 

I've started a batch of cemita rolls, and we are planning on hamburgers for dinner. More on that coming up.

It is now about 7:00 p.m. and we've finished our dinner of grilled hamburgers. Mine had Hatch green chili mixed into it and slathered on the top. Lynne's was just a normal burger. We had sweet potato fries and we served the burgers on homemade cemita buns--recipe available on request.

Sweet potato fries

My burger

After eating, we took the dogs for a walk. It is a beautiful evening and we saw a lot of people out walking dogs and kids.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wheatless Wednesday

Not much to report today. We spent the day at home, of course. Our governor has now issued a "stay at home" order, as have many other states. That does not affect us much since we've been living by those rules for a while. But, it does make it even more clear that we should not leave the house or go out at all. We are glad we are pretty well stocked up. I did an online order for a few small things we need (yeast to make bread, for example) at the local Safeway and we can pick that up without ever leaving the car on Saturday.

Have been wanting to get to the cabin. I see that the webcam at the cabin is now no longer reporting. It is not clear what that means. It could be the camera just gave up. Or, it could mean a massive power failure, which is hard to imagine at an "off the grid" cabin. We will try to get up there in a week or so and see what is going on. Too much snow now, and it is supposed to snow more on Friday.

No dog walk today, even though I *think* it is still allowed as long as we keep our distance from other walkers.

Grilled steak and baked potatoes for dinner. It was pretty yummy, for me. Not so much for Lynne.

We are about caught up with The Crown and also Picard, so will finish those soon and look for other series to binge. Maybe start Breaking Bad over from the beginning since we missed the last season.

Hope you all are well.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dog Walking - Try 1

We are really lucky that we have a great place to walk the dogs, even among social distancing. We have a loop we walk, out the front door, turn right, to the end of a long block walking through the neighborhood. Then a right turn, cross the canal, another right turn onto a walking/biking path. We follow that along the canal to a main street where we turn right again, walk to the mailboxes where we check the mail, then on home. It is exactly a 1-mile loop. It gives us and the dogs a bit of exercise almost every day. And, we rarely see anyone else. If we do, it is certainly easy to maintain our distance. Of course, a lot of people are doing the same thing nowadays.

Today, after our walk, I was going to blog about how nice it was to get out and walk the dogs before it starts to rain or snow later.

However, a few hundred yards into the walk, we passed another couple walking their dog on the other side of the road. I was walking Natalie on a flexi-lead. She was being good and I let her all the way out on the lead. Then, she decided to go meet the dog and took off at a full run. This is over 100 pounds of dog at a full run. Lots of momentum there. I did not let go of the leash in time and she pulled me horizontal in the air, and I soon it the ground on my right side--shoulder and head hitting with full force. I must have tried to break the fall with my left hand because that wrist is a bit sprained now.

Where I hit my head

My glasses got completely mauled in the fall.

This is even after Lynne tried to straighten them up some

The man with the other dog ran over to help me up, but, holding firm to social distancing, I told him I did not need help. Instead, I just rolled around on the ground for a while. I really appreciate his offer of help and his concern and I am afraid I might have been somewhat rude to him. Sorry!

I did get up, collected the bits and pieces of my glasses and we decide to walk back home.

I don't really blame Natalie. I knew she was likely to want to go meet the dog. But, she was being so good, I thought we'd just walk on by. 

After cleaning up at home, I called Costco--where I got the glasses--to see if I could order replacements. They are working with a reduced staff and are offering no in-store services, but I was able to order a new pair. They will take about a week to come in. Luckily, I have a set of contact lenses (that I had decided not to wear). Lynne found them buried in the closet and I can get by with those for a week.

Meantime, my head, my right knee and my left wrist are pretty sore. Time for a soak in the tub?

I'm planning to make bread later this afternoon. We'll then have bread for fondue some time this weekend. We are going to have chicken thighs braised in a lemony sauce with caramelized onions and garlic tonight. I'll try to remember to post photos and a link to the recipe tomorrow.

Meantime, I'm trying to get used to having to use "readers" to see the computer screen. But, that is a whole different story.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Forensics of a Fall

I've gone over it in my head a few times and between my recollection, Lynne's description, and the scrapes and bruises on my body, I think I have a pretty good idea of what happened yesterday.

But first, the promised description of dinner. We had a dish from the Union Square Cafe. You might find it interesting that this restaurant is on Union Square in New York City! We've eaten there a time or two and really enjoyed it. And, they published a cookbook many years ago from which we got this recipe. It is called Momma Romano's Baked Lemon Chicken. Follow the link to the recipe. We paired it with some homemade bread and some roasted baby potatoes. 

It was delicious. Maybe the best ever. I've come to realize that our best dishes are usually the ones where we take a lot of care and time in preparation and cooking, using the best ingredients we can find or afford, and cooking with "love". All the cooking competitions on TV are timed. I think this makes us think we can prepare a delicious meal in 30 minutes. And, maybe a pro chef can. But, taking over 2 hours to make this lemon chicken dish really paid off in flavor. So, since you may have plenty of time on your hands nowadays, I recommend taking your time with the next meal you prepare. Prepare all the ingredients with care ahead of time. Take time and care in the cooking process And, pour a bit of love in on top!

Home made bread

Mama Romano's chicken, still in the pot

Okay, back to the forensics of the fall. I had Natalie on a flexi-lead in my right hand, so she was fully extended out in front of me, about 15 feet. She was squeeking a bit at the dog across the street, but was still walking forward and I was so proud of her I let her have the full length of the lead. Within a second, she decided to reverse course, running at an angle across the street, covering about 30 feet in a second or two. She is over 100 pounds, and that is a lot of mass moving very quickly.

Before I knew what was happening, she hit the end of the lead and pulled me across my body and out into the street. The next second or two happened in slow motion. Based on the scrapes on my knees, hands, shoulder and face, here is what we think happened. I fell, twisting my body to the left. I hit the ground with my knees first, probably letting go of the lead at that time. I put out my left hand to brace the fall, and crashed into the ground with my right shoulder followed a millisecond later by the right side of my head. My glasses frame shattered, cutting into my skin some. I think I bounced a time or two.

Anyway, I am sore, but okay today. My left wrist is particularly sore. But, a couple of aspirin and I'm good to go.

The plan for today is to pick up a grocery order at Safeway, hoping they had everything we needed. It wasn't much, but just a few small staples that one usually doesn't think about planning ahead for--yeast, for example. We've added a few things to the list based on meal plans for the next few days, so we may (or may not) forage for those things.

Be safe!

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