Sunday, May 27, 2018

Rearview

Today Hubby Tony and I participated in the a group bike ride that also visited four different Mexican restaurants. At each location we got a taco (along with chips and salsa at some of them). It was a lot of fun.

When we go on rides Tony and I like to stay together. (It's like a date on bikes.) That's sometimes hard to do in a group situation. In the past if I've gotten too far ahead of Tony I was constantly looking behind to see where he was. That's led to some potentially dangerous situations, like the time the person in front of me came to a quick stop and I almost ran into them.

I had seen other people using rear view mirrors while riding, and thought it might be a good idea for me. Last week I stopped by my neighborhood bike shop and asked about them. I learned there were three types--handlebar, helmet, or glasses mirrors. I'm hard on my bike when I hang it up and put it in the car, so I didn't think the handlebar would be a good place for a mirror. The same with my helmet-I tend to toss it around when I take it off. That left the glasses type.

Not too stylish, but plenty functional
Today was the mirror's first big test. Before the ride started I hooked it onto the side of my glasses. The two tabs on the outside and one on the inside of the temple held the mirror securely in place.

Once it was on I adjusted things so I could look behind me with only a slight turn of my head. That was really nice. Not only could I see the bikers behind me, I could see the cars too, and make sure to give them plenty of room to pass me. I guess the mirror will now be a permanent accessory for bike rides from now on.

Five years ago today: The City That Doesn't Sleep (Big Apple Chronicles-Day 4)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Watery Closet

Last night after dinner Hubby Tony and I headed out to start the weekend. Our destination was the Schlafly Art Outside Festival, which says it aims to "raise awareness and appreciation of art and music created in our very own community".

The festival had about 60 artist booths showcasing all types of media. After we'd seen everything Tony and I decided we wanted some dessert. However, Schalfy is microbrewery, and most of the non-art booths were beer related.  The only food was savory, and not what we wanted. We decided to take a scenic walk back to the car while we came up with ideas. That section of Maplewood is filled with beautiful older houses, and we had a great time looking at them. It was just a coincidence that we ended up close to the Mauhaus Cat Cafe.

The last time we were there it was wall to wall people. I suggested it wouldn't hurt to walk by the front window, look at the cats, and see how busy it was. There were no people visible, so we were pretty sure they could accommodate two drop ins. We were right. The admission for the cafe included a credit for food and drink. Tony and I each chose a bar cookie and an herbal iced tea.

We had a great time playing with the cats. When it was to leave I decided I needed to use the rest room. I walked into the room, closed the door, and was surprised to see the strange-looking toilet in the room. Upon closer inspection I realized it had a sink mounted on top of the toilet tank! However, a sign explained that the combination was designed as a way to save water. Instead of using clean drinking water to fill up the toilet tank for flushing, the water you used to wash your hands with took its place.
When it was time I pushed the flush button and a strong stream of water came out of the faucet. The stream continued until enough water had flowed into the tank to fill it up. Then the water shut off.  What a concept!

Five years ago today: New York By Day (Big Apple Chronicles-Day 3)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Let's Dance

Hubby Tony and I are always looking for new things to do. A while back he asked if I would be interested in taking lessons to improve our social dancing skills. Figuring I would agree, he had researched facilities and found out there was one just a couple of miles from the house which offered group drop in lessons. Wednesday night was Swing Dance, which he thought would be the most fun. It took a couple of weeks for us to get there, but last night we participated in our first Beginners class.

The whole thing was remarkably low key. Tony found out we could dress in anything comfortable, so I chose cropped jeans and a pair of comfortable shoes. When we arrived I checked out the other couples and found everything from dress clothes to business casual clothes to shorts. Several people we talked to said it was their first time, too. Right at 7 pm the instructors walked us down the hall to a large mirrored studio. They made sure the sound system was working correctly then announced it was time to get started.

Years ago Tony and I went to a ballroom that had waltz instructions before a scheduled dance. That night did not go well. There were too many people for the instructor to give everyone individual attention and Tony and I never got the hang of it. This time it was different. The two women leading the class did a great job of breaking down the moves into small sections. They had the men stand on one side of the room and the women on the other so we could see exactly how our feet were supposed to move. We did each section without music and then again with the music. As we danced the teachers moved around the room, giving pointers to each of the couples. The last ten minutes of the class we traded partners. The first man I danced with was new like me, but the second had been dancing for a while.

While we were finishing up people started coming in for the next class, which was Intermediate Swing Dance. They sat on chairs in the corner waiting their turn. I would have liked to see just how much progress a dancer needed to make to move up, but at the end of the class all of the beginners gathered up their things and filed out. As we left one of the instructors gave us a sheet that contained information about the steps we had learned.

Will Tony and I be back? More than likely, when our schedule permits. And after we master Swing, we might branch out to the Fox Trot, Waltz, and Salsa lessons they have on Monday nights.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Is There A Space For Me?

I had some business to do at a downtown bank today. It wasn't until I finalized everything that I learned the baseball Cardinals were playing a game that started just after noon today at the stadium on the south edge of downtown. That meant that in addition to all of the normal daytime parking people there would be hundreds (thousands?) of extra cars vying for spots. The bank did not offer the option of a garage. Lovely!

I had a 9:00 appointment at the mechanic's for an oil change and tire rotation, and it was 9:45 when I got on the road. It took a half hour to get downtown, which I thought would give me plenty of time to find a spot on the street, but when I got there two hours before the game the area around the stadium was already a sea of red. There was no on-street parking to be had, and the garages were charging twenty dollars or more.

I decided to try my luck on the north end of downtown. However, I ran into several streets that were closed due to road work. Eventually I decided to head west and call the walk to and from the bank my exercise for the day. The first meter I stopped at was change only (and I didn't have enough in my wallet), so I drove a couple of blocks farther away to snag one that would take a charge card.

Next I had to guess how long I would be parked there. I've been in enough downtown banks to know that it sometimes takes a while to get service, and I also had to factor in the eight block walk each way. It was only a dollar an hour to park, so I paid for two hours, locked my car up, and started walking.

Just my luck that today the bank was completely empty except for the bankers. My business was wrapped up in ten minutes. Even factoring in a twenty minute walk each way half of the time remained on the parking meter. As I was getting ready to drive away a car started to pull into the empty space behind me. I got the driver's attention and told him he was welcome to my space and free-to-him parking when I left. He smiled and agreed to wait.

Five years ago today: I Like To Eat, Eat, Eat (Big Apple Chronicles--Day 2)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Downright Departed

For years we've had a small bird house hanging from the front porch eave. It was made from a kit by one of the boys when they were in Scouts. The last time we had the house painted I slapped a coat of the same colors on the bird house-a light tan on the sides and the blue-grey we used for the front door and shutters for the roof.

Most years the birdhouse is nothing more than a decoration, but every few years we'll be blessed with a pair of birds. This year was one of them. One day a couple of weeks ago I heard chirping from that general area. With a little observation I soon learned that a pair of chickadees had claimed the bird house for their home. Eventually the chirping calmed down as the babies grew and got ready to fly out.

Saturday night I was doing yard work in the front and saw fluttering in the hole. I figured it was a baby fledgling and didn't think any more about it. However, yesterday morning when Hubby Tony and I went out the front door on our way to church I saw a bird hanging from the hole. It wasn't moving at all and I feared the worst. When we got back it was still there.

After lunch I put on a set of gloves, grabbed a plastic newspaper sleeve and rag, and went outside to investigate. Hubby Tony came with me to provide moral support. The bird was indeed dead. It was harder than I would have thought to remove the tiny limp body, because its foot was tangled in some of the nesting material.  What a horrible death it must have had!

I dug a hole next to the maple tree in the back yard and buried the bird. I felt awful about the whole thing, but I hope the tiny bird body will enrich the soil in that area.  While I was doing that Tony took down the house for cleaning. I removed the screws holding on the bottom, shook out the nest that was inside, and brought the house inside for a thorough washing. I think that when it dries I'll give it another coat of paint before I rehang it.

Five years ago today: New York, New York (Big Apple Chronicles--Introduction)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Any (Facebook) Friend Of Yours Is A Friend Of Mine

Ever since my high school class celebrated the fortieth reunion of our graduation last summer I've gotten quite a few Facebook friend invitations from fellow classmates. Some of them I knew well back in the day, some I knew slightly, and some I barely knew at all. (I my defense my class was huge. There were approximately 800 graduates that year.)

Whenever I get a Facebook friend invitation from a name I don't know I check out the person before I accept by going to their page to see if we have any friends in common. If we do I accept the request. Usually if it's a long-lost high school acquaintance I see the same overlapping list of Class of 77 Alumni. The latest request was different, though. This time, in addition to the high school ties there were several mutual real-life friends not connected with high school.

Some of the ties had a commonality, but others had me scratching my head. I finally gave up and sent a message to the person asking how they knew So-and-so. After some back and forth we figured out that the mutual link was a program for teenagers some of our children were active in fifteen years ago. The other common friends were business associates of hers that I knew from a retreat program Hubby Tony and I have participated in the past few years.

I guess it just goes to show it's a pretty small world.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

No Reaction Whatsoever

David Teie, a cellist and composer released Music for Cats in 2015. The songs are scientifically designed to appeal to cat ears and brains.



I listened to the song and enjoyed it, then decided to play it for my cats and see what they thought of it. Pepper was already laying on the couch. He showed no emotion. Halfway through the song Jackson sauntered into the room, paused to listen for a few seconds, then continued walking.

Maybe they're not music connoisseurs?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ventilation Competition

The gym I go to offers group classes in the morning and evening. If there's nothing else on my schedule I'll try to make one of the morning ones. But lately, there have been a lot of things on my schedule and I've been far from regular. This week is pretty empty, and I've made it there yesterday and today; now I'm two for two on my exercising.

Today's class was Zumba. Because the aerobic dancing makes me hot and sweaty, I like to get there early enough to stake out my favorite spot--in the back row right underneath one of the ceiling fans. When I arrived five minutes before the class start time there was only one other person in the room. I claimed my preferred location and waited. Just before the class started two women arrived together and took places to my right. I smiled at them as the music started playing.

There was plenty of space in the room, but as the first song segued into the second I sensed that the woman to my immediate right was getting closer and closer to me. I was torn between being polite and scooting to the left to give her more room or staying put under 'my' fan. After all, I had made sure to get there early for it.

I wrestled with my decision for another song, then decided that today, self-interest would win out and stayed put.Selfish? Maybe. But it was my decision and I don't feel bad about it.

Five years ago today: Convinced By Cats

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Winery Fun

My friend Denise had a milestone birthday this week.  She chose to have a party at one of her favorite wineries, where we enjoyed a great afternoon of friends, food, wine, and music.

You didn't know that Missouri was a wine hotbed?  It is. According to the Missouri Wines website there are 36 wineries within 50 miles of my house. Add another ten miles to that and there are 53. The country's first wine region is actually just west of St. Louis. The rolling hills and temperatures  reminded the mid-19th century Rhine River valley German immigrants of home, and the soil was perfect for growing grapes. They planted vineyards and created a vibrant wine culture. All of the wineries had to shut down during Prohibition, but they began to reopen again in the 1960s.

Now, Wikipedia says:
The area along Route 94 between Defiance and Marthasville has so many wineries that the highway has been nicknamed the Missouri Weinstrasse (wine route). It runs parallel to much of the Katy Trail, built in former railway right-of-way. This area has the highest concentration of wineries in the state. Many of these sit high up on south-facing bluffs above the river.
Shortly before lunch Hubby Tony and I loaded up the car and headed west.  Once we got off the interstate, Highway 94 was a scenic two lane drive.  Each winery we passed had a sign along the road.  The well-known ones were quite predominant; smaller locations had 'blink and you'd miss them' signage. Our destination was Blumenhof Vinyards and Winery in Dutzow.

Denise and her husband had arrived early and nabbed tables right in front of the band stage. They provided sandwiches, non-alcoholic drinks, and cake.  Everyone else brought a side dish. Before we ate we took turns guarding the tables and visiting the tasting room. There were bottles purchased for the birthday girl and for general consumption. I'm not a big wine drinker, but the weather (which went from not quite spring to summer overnight felt more like mid-July than mid-May, and white wine/lemonade slush was the perfect drink for the heat.

Five years ago today: Ma, Mommy, Mom, Mum

Friday, May 11, 2018

Behindhand

Boynton
It's a shame I didn't learn about National Eat What You Want Day until it was bedtime. I think I'll put the commemoration on next year's calendar so I can plan in advance.

Five years ago today: Garlic Paradise--UPDATED