Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Cat In The Sun

A cold front came through our area Sunday night shortly before bedtime.  We've opened up the windows so we could enjoy temperatures that feel more like late September than late July.

The people who live in the house aren't the only one who like the beautiful weather.  When I came upstairs to get dressed for work this morning, I found Jackson the cat taking his morning nap in a patch of sunlight in the bedroom.

Five years ago today: Tonality

Monday, July 28, 2014

For Christine

Yesterday I wrote about a simple neck and shoulder stretch my chiropractor showed me how to do. Christine asked for a visual.  I tried taking a selfie of me doing the stretch, but I didn't have any luck.

Instead, you'll have to use your imagination.  Imagine this stick figure is laying on its back.  The red rectangle at the top of  its neck is the top of the rolled-up towel.  The white rectangle is the towel that continues down the figure's spine.  (In this graphic it's a little off center.)  Ideally the figure's legs would be closed, but it's feeling so good from the stretch it's doing a little floor dance wiggle.

Hope this helps.

Five years ago today: Hooray!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ten Minutes

Earlier this week I had a chiropractor appointment, and I told the doctor I was having some annoying neck pains.  He said it was probably from sitting in front of a computer too long, and gave me a simple stretch for my neck and shoulders.

He showed me how to roll up a large bath towel until it was about the diameter of a pool noodle, then lay the towel on the floor (for demonstration purposes he substituted the examination table) and position myself on top of it face up.  The towel was lengthwise along my spine starting from the base of my neck about where the collar of a shirt would be.  My neck was slightly stretched back with my head resting on the table above the towel, and when I arranged my arms above my head in a "football goal" position my shoulders fell open.

Although I only did the stretch for a few seconds in the office it felt really good.  I asked if I could have a prescription to lay on top of the towel in the family room floor all night; the chiropractor laughed and assured me that ten minutes would be sufficient to release the tension in my neck and shoulders and help reshape my spine back into its natural position.

Tonight after dinner I cut the grass and came inside hot and sweaty.  I turned the ceiling fan in the family room as high as it would go, then laid down on the rolled up towel right underneath it.  Coincidentally, ten minutes was enough to cool down and stretch out my back!

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Wonderful Day For An Adventure

Today my standing Friday morning meeting was cancelled, so I had a rare day with nothing on the calendar.  The forecast was for a high in the mid-80s (very nice for this time of year), so Hubby Tony scheduled a vacation day and we decided to go on an outside adventure.  After breakfast he loaded the bikes in the car and we set off.  Our destination was the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower, across the river in Illinois, about an hour's drive from the house.   

Confluence tower
The tall tower, which is close to the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, was easy to see from a distance. As we pulled into the parking lot the most noticeable feature was the three observation landings.   However,the tower would have to wait; it wasn't open yet, so we pulled out our bikes and got ready to ride.  We found the MCT Confluence Trail just behind the tower and turned to the south.  The trail wound around the perimeter of the tower grounds, then made a turn and ran next to the river levee.  When we reached the Mississippi just south of the confluence the trail veered to the left and moved on top of the levee, providing an unobstructed view of the river.

We rode about seven miles south, then turned around.  For the most part the sun stayed behind the clouds, which made for a cool and comfortable ride.  About a half mile before we got back to the tower we went right and made a stop at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site, which commemorates the Illinois starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The site had a very nice interpretative center, but we didn't spend much time there.  We were getting hungry, and our food was all back in the car.

It was a quick ride back to the tower.  While we ate we walked through the garden area and read the informational signs,  then headed toward the visitor center to get our tickets.  We only had to wait a few minutes for a tour guide, who led us up the elevator.  There are landings at 50, 100, and 150 feet.  At the highest point we could see downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch, which is 19 miles south.  As we walked from one side of the landing to the other, Tony felt a drop of rain hit his arm.  By time we got back to the car there was a steady drizzle coming down.

It was time to end our adventure and head home.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I realized the other day I'd be out of commission on August 5th, which is when the state's primary election will be held.  At first I was upset that I'd miss it, but then I realized I could vote by absentee ballot

The last time I voted absentee I'd planned far enough in advance to have the ballot mailed to me.   This time, since I was short on time, I'd have to cast a ballot in person at the Board of Election Commissioners.  After work today instead of going straight home I drove the opposite direction to the Board's office, which is located in a large office park.  Signs directed me to the correct building, and an even larger sign pointed the way towards the door.

I walked in and stood in a short line of people waiting to do the same thing.  When I got up to the desk I had to show my driver's license and fill out a form with my contact information, the reason I couldn't get to the polls on Election Day, and my party preference. (In Missouri primary elections you have to state a party; the choices were Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Constitution, or Non-Partisan.)  The clerk pulled up my specific precinct information and wrote it on the form, then handed the form back to me and directed me through a gate where I waited for the next available voting machine.

The polling clerk entered my information into the machine so I could get the correct ballot, then left me to make my selections.   After I voted I followed the Exit signs and found myself back outside.  The whole process took about 15 minutes. I walked back to my car feeling good about doing my civic duty.

Five years ago today: Sound Off

Monday, July 21, 2014

Never A Dull Day At The Mall

For the first three hours of my shift at the mall Customer Service desk today I could easily have been replaced by a large directory and automated directions to the nearest restroom.  Just when I thought the day would be completely boring and mundane, the last part of my shift was filled with a series of unexpected events:
  • First a woman came up to the desk with her school-age son to report the boy's shoe had gotten stuck in an escalator and one of his big toes was bleeding.  I called Security, which came to clean and bandage the toe and take a report from the boy's mother.
  • Not long after Security finished with the first issue, a man came and told me about another problem.  He was with his family in a nearby seating area when a group of girls on the second level began throwing french fries through the railing at them.  Two of the fries hit him on the shoulder.  Once again I called Security, this time to send an officer to where the girls were misbehaving.
  • Fifteen minutes later the management office called to tell me one of the store managers was in a tizzy over a maintenance issue.  If she called or stopped by the desk I was to direct her to the office and let them handle it.  (Thankfully, I she didn't.)
Five years ago today: Put A Shine On It

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Compost Critter Control

We have a recycled plastic compost bin next to the deck in the back yard.  It's about three feet tall with a snug fitting, sturdy lid.  The domed lid has a hinged door on both sides, but if you're not careful raising the door panel the plastic hinges come unseated.  I think it's easier to lift the whole lid off when I'm adding scraps.   A couple of times in the past few weeks when I've gone out after breakfast to throw coffee grounds in the bin I noticed the lid laying on the grass.  The first time I attributed it to Son Donald forgetting to put the lid back on. The second time we'd had a strong storm the night before; I figured the lid had been crooked and the wind blew it off.

Yesterday Hubby Tony organized an event that provided catered bag lunches.  He ordered a few extra in case people signed up at the last minute (no one did), so when it was over he brought home two bags that contained chicken salad sandwich meals. We decided to eat them for dinner, but hours later the buns were soggy and unappealing. We transferred the chicken salad to a bed of fresh spinach. After dinner I tossed the soggy buns into the compost bin.

This morning the bin lid was once again laying on the grass. When I looked inside the buns were gone. Something had visited our back yard and helped themselves to a snack!  Whatever the critter was, it had to be big enough to reach up and knock the lid off, then strong enough to climb inside and get back out. I'm guessing it was a raccoon or an opossum.

I didn't put anything other than coffee grounds in the bin today, so I can't imagine a critter would find anything appealing.  Just in case they were tempted to check it out again tonight, though, I added a large layer of shredded paper on top of everything else. Think they'll get the message they're not welcome?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Tale Of Two Pairs Of Glasses

I've been nearsighted since I was in elementary school. I started out wearing glasses, switched over to contact lenses in my teens, and back to glasses about fifteen years ago.  Several years ago when it started getting hard to read small print I got progressive lenses which took care of both my far vision and near vision issues.

Recently I've been noticing my vision wasn't as crisp as it used to be, so I made an appointment to visit the optometrist.   I wasn't surprised when he told me both lens portions needed to be changed.  I've had my glasses for a couple of years, so I decided to treat myself to new frames, too.  On Tuesday they called to tell me the glasses were in.  I stopped by the office Wednesday to pick them up.

I think the new frames look quite different.  When I went to work on Thursday I thought someone would notice and comment.  Much to my surprise no one did.  Nor did anyone on Friday or today. What do you think?

The new pair:

The old pair:

Five years ago today: The Same But Different

Friday, July 18, 2014


One night several weeks ago Hubby Tony and I were in the family room, whee he was watching a Cardinals game on TV and I was giving the game half of my attention and surfing the Web.  At one point I came across an article about secret shopping.  I have no idea why (maybe because I like the challenge of trying new things?), but I followed the links in the article and eventually signed up to be a shopper.

 I recently completed my first assignment, evaluating a store a couple of miles from my house.  The secret shopping company gave me a scenario to follow.   I had to go into a specific department of the store and ask an associate to recommend a product based on information I provided.   Next I had to ask if the store carried a particular brand (which I knew in advance they didn't) and see what they said.  Before I left, they asked me to make a purchase and evaluate the checkout procedure.  When I was done I came home and filled out a report about my experience.

 Somewhere down the line I'll get paid a small amount and be reimbursed for my purchase.  I certainly wouldn't get rich doing secret shopping, but it was a lot of fun.

Five years ago today: In A Pickle