Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Fortuitous Flowers

Since the beginning of the year I've been one of about 30 women planning a religious retreat at a local retreat center. Tomorrow morning after breakfast I will, in the event lingo, "head up the mountain" and not come back until Sunday morning.

One of my responsibilities for the retreat is to have flowers for one of the events. I needed 60 stems. And there wasn't really a budget for flowers. As I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to get the job done, one of the other women on the team suggested that I check with nearby funeral homes to see if they had any arrangements to give away.

That was a source I hadn't thought of!

I called the nearest one last week and asked about donations. The woman I spoke with said I would need to contact them a day or two before I needed the flowers. When I called back yesterday there were three arrangements available. They put my name on them, and said I could pick them up any time during the day.

I stopped by the parlor today when there were no visitations going on. The large building was eerily quiet. I announced myself to the attendant at the desk. He walked with me to an empty viewing room, pointed out the arrangements that were mine, then helped me carry them out to my car.

When I got home I disassembled the arrangements. Many of the flowers were past their prime and went straight into the yard waste trash can, but in the end I had about half of the flowers I needed. I also kept some greenery and filler flowers that may come in handy. After a trip to the store to buy the rest of the flowers I needed, I placed everything in some plastic cat litter buckets, then staged the buckets by the garage door until tomorrow morning.

Now my garage temporarily looks like a florist. I didn't think about how much room all those flowers were going to take up!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Is Here?

Today is the first day of spring. However, when I took a walk after lunch it didn't look or feel like it. I wore my heavy winter coat and a pair of gloves (and should have added something to cover my ears).

Not too far from my house I saw these winter-looking trees:

But when I looked closer there were subtle signs of the changing season. Check out the buds:

Five years ago today: Signs Of The Season

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Tasty Potato Substitute

Hubby Tony and I eat dinner out on Saturday nights, so this year we pushed back our St. Patrick's corned beef and cabbage dinner till today.  I bought enough meat, potatoes, and carrots for the two of us to have dinner tonight and leftovers tomorrow, so when Son Donald said he was coming into town to take care of a couple of errands I had to figure out how to bulk everything up.  I was going to Aldi for a couple of things anyway, so I bought a package of sweet Hawaiian rolls and a container of ice cream for dessert.  On the way there I also had a menu inspiration.

Earlier in the week I was at the Asian market buying produce.  I enjoy trying new things if the price is right, and this time they had a sale on yuca root. I knew nothing about it, but it was only 99 cents a pound so I added a smallish piece to my bag.

I had done some research and learned that yuca (also called casava and manioc) is the root of a South American shrub that is a major staple food in the developing world, and that it could serve as a substitute for potatoes in some dishes.  Since I didn't have enough actual potatoes in the house I figured I could also use the yuca.  It could also add an exotic element to the meal.

While the corned beef was cooking I cut the yuca root into pieces about three inches long, then used a paring knife to remove the peel.  When the meat was done I removed it and added cut up red potatoes and carrots to the pot, reserving a little broth to pour over the yuca pieces in a small saucepan.  After the liquid came to a boil both pots simmered for 20 minutes until everything was fork tender.  I drained the conventional vegetables and dumped them into a bowl.  I put the yuca into a separate bowl, removed its fibrous core, and broke the flesh into smaller pieces.  Everything went on the table when it was time to eat.

We all thought the yuca was pretty good.  It was drier than the boiled potatoes, but it had taken on the flavor of the corned beef broth.  There was plenty of food for everyone, and I was able to send Donald home with some leftovers for tomorrow. 

We don't eat a whole lot of starchy vegetables, but I would definitely have this one again.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Last night the Spelman College Glee Club brought their "Resilience Annual Spring Tour 2018" to our church. Hubby Tony and I were there.

Before last night I knew that Spelman was a historically Black college, but nothing else about it. In the lead up to the event I had learned that it was a woman-only school in Atlanta. The show program told me the school was founded in the late 1880s, became Spelman in 1924, and that the glee club had been existence since 1925. The group sings both sacred and secular music with a focus on traditional spirituals and music by African American composers.

We got there about 15 minutes before the show started and chatted with fellow parishioners and friends. The stage was a set of risers placed in front of the altar with a black curtains backdrop. Right on time the approximately 30 singers filed down from the back and took their places. The women were dressed in long black skirts, scoop neck tee shirts, and pearls. After some introductory remarks, they settled themselves and began singing.

Their voices melded beautifully, and the harmonies were amazing. All of the soloists were wonderful. There was a group of Spelman alumni there, and at the end of the second half they were invited to join the glee club on stage to sing the school song.

This is one of the songs I heard last night. (In an interesting twist, last night a huge rain storm started right before the song began. The heavy drops hitting the church's roof made for an amusing counterpoint.)

Five years ago today: Fact O'The Day

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Finding First Class Footwear

Back in January my brown leather shoes fell apart when I went to put them on. It was time to replace them. My foot is weirdly shaped (I have a wide forefoot and a narrow heel) so it's hard for me to find shoes that fit. I had no idea how hard it would be, though!

Brown did not seem to be a very popular color this year. After stopping in several big box shoe stores with no success I paid a visit to a comfort shoe store that recently opened near me. I walked in and explained the situation, and the clerk jokingly exclaimed it was a shame I couldn't just stick with tennis shoes. She brought out several styles for me to try on, but nothing was just right. A store at the mall had a pair that fit perfectly...and cost $150, way more than I wanted to spend.

Finally I exhausted my options, and decided I would make do until warmer weather let me pull out my summer shoes. If I happened to be in a store that sold shoes I would glance down the aisles, but didn't expect to find anything. Two weeks ago we were running errands when Hubby Tony announced he needed new shoes. I went with him into the store, and was slightly depressed when he found a pair after ten minutes of looking.

A couple of days later I got a coupon in the mail for that very same shoe store. I told Tony, and we agreed it was a shame he couldn't have saved a little money on his purchase. The next time my errands took me towards that store I stopped in, with no expectation that I would have any luck.

I walked through the casual shoe section and headed back to the clearance area. The first three racks didn't have anything remotely close to what I was looking for, but on the fourth rack I saw a box containing a pair of dark brown Merrell slip ons (a new to me brand). Holding my breath I tried them on. They felt comfortable, so I gave them the walk test. Hallelujah! They fit! I couldn't believe my luck.

At the cash register I learned that not only were the shoes 20 percent off, I could use my mail coupon ($10) and another $10 coupon I had cached in my account. According to the receipt I had saved almost as much as I paid for the shoes.

I've worn the shoes enough now to know they are as comfortable as my original assessment thought they'd be. They look like they're made out of sturdy leather, so I hope I get many years of wear out of them before I have to start the shoe shopping process again.

Five years ago today: Delicates

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bookmark Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago I picked out a book from a nearby Little Free Library.  Since not everything I read has to be educational or 'important', this time I chose fluff--Explosive Eighteen, one of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels.  When I got home I dove right in.

I've read most of the books in the series. They're pretty repetitive, but I enjoy the core group of characters and mindless entertainment.  When it was time to put the book down I grabbed an old page from a Thought for the Day calendar to use for a bookmark: 

Bookmark and inspirational thought
When I was done reading the book I tucked the calendar page inside, then returned the book to the library.  I hope it will be helpful to whoever finds it.

Five years ago today: No Can Do

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Changing The Hands Of Time

Today marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. At 2 a.m. we "sprung forward" an hour to be able to shift more of the natural daylight to the evening.

Half of the clocks in our house are smart and reset themselves, but the rest need to be done manually. This morning I walked from room to room changing those that had the incorrect time (and made a second sweep in the afternoon when I realized I had forgotten a couple).  Over the past few months there have been a few power outage blips, after which clocks were reset to "close enough" time.  While I was at it, I also adjusted those too.

Most of manual-change models are intuitive, but there are a couple that I can never remember how to do.  One is  the clock/radio/CD player in the kitchen. I couldn't find the instructions. After both Hubby Tony and I randomly pushed buttons and rotated knobs with no effect I asked Google. A search for the make and model number gave me a PDF of the instructions.  Before I used them I downloaded the file to my computer.

Will I remember its there next time I'm looking for the information?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A World In Miniature

The "General Community" section of Craigslist in a fascinating microcosm of real life. Legitimate requests are mixed in with humorous, dramatic, melancholy, and tragic ones. Some of the most interesting posts I found during a recent browsing session on the site (complete with original spelling and grammar):
  • Fridge Purge - Purged my fridge of fattening foods. Would like to help a struggling single mother. Must pick up in (City Name).
  • Looking for personal loan - I do not have good credit and am in a situation where I need a loan. Im curious are there places that have income based repay loans. Or an individual willing.
  • Please I need help - I'm looking to work I was homeless and after 4 years of homelessness with God's help I finally got a apartment but my electric is off I need some work so I can get them on if anyone can help I would be more than happy Thanks
  • Manikin - Looking for a free or cheap manikin for an art project.
  • Seeking Chessmaster - I love playing chess. The problem is that I don't know how to plan a good strategy, so I kinda suck. I know how the pieces move, and that white goes first, but beyond that not so much. So I'm wanting to find someone that is really really good. If you would be willing to help me with my chess game, drop me an email.
  • NRA Life Membership - I'm a life member of the NRA, and looking to sell it. I have my reasons, and feel someone else would appreciate it more than I do. A life membership costs $1,500 straight from the NRA, so you're getting this at a deal. The price is firm. All it would take to take it is a quick name and address change in their files. The same as if you were to pass it on to one of your children. You will get everything I got when I bought the membership, except my member certificate. I doubt you would be interested in that anyway.
  • Free potbelly pig - Free friendly male pig. He likes people and other animals I just don't have time for him.
  • Looking for doctor to help me lose weight. - I need to lose a lot of weight so I'm looking for a doctor that can start me on contrave or something like it. I wasn't sure where to post this so I thought I would start here. Let me know if you can help or know of a doctor that can. Thank you.
  • huassment - have you been stopped on the road ways by a security or feel they are just with a lot of harassment trying to play cops the i want to hear from you some security companys are out of control i will tell you how to put a stop to them and want they can really do
Five years ago today: Not Perfect, But It'll Do

Monday, March 5, 2018

Never Tie Again

My current pair of house shoes is an old pair of white canvas Keds. Although the shoes were still comfortable, after years of wear they had too many permanent stains and looked dingy to go out of the house. When they made the move to inside-only, I loosened the shoelaces so I could slip the the shoes on and off without tying, then secured the laces with a double knot and controlled the floppy lace ends by typing them with a conventional bow.

The problem was that the bows were forever coming undone. It was very annoying (and potentially dangerous) to be in the middle of carrying something heavy up the stairs and feel the ends of the laces flapping on the floor. Today I was at a shoe store and saw a pair of "no tie" laces hanging from a hook. I thought maybe they could solve my lace issue, so I decided to buy a pair.

Look like giant springs, don't they?
At home I unknotted and removed the old laces and replaced them with the curly ones. It was hard to get the springy tension just right, but once I did the shoes fit comfortably on my feet and I didn't have to worry about the laces coming undone.

It will be interesting to see how they wear, but now, after a couple of hours I'm a real fan.

Five years ago today: Memories

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Magazine Yourself

This evening I'm going to a banquet sponsored by an organization that Hubby Tony belongs to.  I don't get the chance to dress up much, so I'm taking advantage of the opportunity by putting on a new dress, fancy jewelry, and actual makeup.  I honor of the occasion I even polished my fingernails!

While waiting for the polish to dry I was poking around on the internet and came across the website, which does pretty much what its name implies.  I had time to kill, so why not?  There were a couple dozen different covers to choose from. I uploaded a photo, resized it to fit the space better, then 'published' it:

Five years ago today: Ding-Dong!