Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Age Has Its Privileges

Today was Pepper Cat's and Jackson Cat's annual vet visit.  They don't enjoy leaving the house, and getting them there is always a big deal (you can read about the procedure here and here), but this year went smoothly, thanks to Son Donald's assistance.

Once they made it into the examination room the tech scooped them out of their carriers (which they were quite reluctant to leave) and weighed them, then let them retreat back to their solitude while we waited for the vet.  The vet did the dirty work of poking, prodding, and vaccinating.  At the end of each cat's exam, she pronounced them in good shape "for as old as they are." 

Where did the years go?  We brought the cats home in June, 2002, shortly after they were weaned, and arbitrarily decided that their birthday was May 15th.  That means they're now 15 years old! 

Back in the day
I was curious about how a cat's age correlated to a humans.  I asked the vet, who said there's no hard and fast rule. That surprised me, so I came home and did some Internet research. Animal Planet told me:
An indoor cat's world is a safe, cozy haven, with tasty meals dished up on time, and protection from the changeable weather. Her only experience with a predator is probably a zealous owner who wants to groom her coat or trim her claws. Life with a clean litter box, a private place to catnap and attention from one or more humans who offer affection and care -- what more could a cat want for a stress-free existence? If she's grown up indoors, she'll likely have no interest in exploring the great outdoors, especially with stimulating playtime and toys to keep her stalking instincts keen. With routine vaccinations and vet checkups, plus a spaying or neutering can cause an indoor cat to easily thrive into her teens or beyond. The average life span is 12 to 15 years.
Wow! I guess my cats deserve the extra time it takes them to get up the stairs now and then. Our previous cat lived into his 20s, though, so I'm hopeful we'll have Pepper and Jackson around for a long time.

Five years ago today: The Choice Is Mine

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cheap! Cheap!

Last night Hubby Tony and I decided to go downtown for a Blues at the Arch concert. Because there was also a baseball game scheduled we knew there would be a lot of people trying to find a parking space.  The parking garages would have their higher event rates in place, so our plan was to first try and find a parking meter. 

We get downtown several times a year, and know the drill.  A lot of the streets have rush hour parking restrictions, but those end at 6 PM. The parking meters are operational until 7 PM.  So, if you're lucky enough to find an empty spot it doesn't cost much to use it.

We arrived in the area at 6:15, and Tony only had to drive up and down a couple of blocks before he found that magic empty spot and pulled in before we realized that neither one of us had change to feed the meter.  However, the fancy new ones the city recently installed accept charge cards, so I told him I would take care of it.

I found the pay station, input the parking spot number, and inserted my card to pay.  It wasn't until I got the receipt that I realized just how cheap our parking would be:

Yes, I put a whopping twenty five cents on my card.  I looked around, but there was no explanation of why there was a 6:30 expiration time.  Maybe it was my lucky day?

Five years ago today: What a Crock

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Last night St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Kansas City Royals.  In the sixth inning of the game a bit of future baseball lore unfolded. The Cardinals were down by one run, but the bases were loaded.  Somehow, a cat got onto the field as Yadier Molina was at the plate. Yadi pointed his bat towards the cat, and play stopped. It took a couple of minutes for the kitty to amble across the field and get captured. (It was none too pleased to be carried out; the grounds crew member got clawed and bit in the process.) Once the game resumed Yadi hit a grand slam right towards where he had been pointing his bat. The Cardinals won the game.

Just to make sure that our out of town children had heard about the event, this morning I sent out a link on our family chat group, titling it "Yadier Meowlina". Then I left for the gym. My phone dinged a couple of times while I was driving. I ignored it. When I came out of the gym this is what awaited me:

I guess they thought my link was the cat's meow.

Five years ago today: Who, Me? Not Me!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Driving The Future

Every once in a while I get to do something really cool. Recently I was invited to drive a Tesla electric car.  I thought about the invitation for approximately three and a half seconds before I said 'Yes'.

Electric cars are getting more and more popular, but they're still a novelty on the roads in my neighborhood.  The sedan I drove, a Model S, came with all the bells and whistles.  On the outside there was a automatic keyless entry system, retracting lighted door handles, and folding heated side mirrors. The space where the engine would be on a conventional car was extra trunk space.  Inside, in addition to the normal goodies that new luxury vehicles have, like USB ports, power outlets, hands free talking capability, and backup cameras, this car had Internet connectivity, voice activated controls, and streaming radio.

When I sat in the twelve way power adjustable, heated driver's seat, the first thing I noticed was the giant touch screen in the center of the control panel, which controlled everything in the car.  In addition to all of the normal information you'd expect to find on the instrument panel, you could also see how long you could go until the next charge.

I got to drive on both surface streets and highways.  On the highway I was able to try out the autopilot, which uses sensors and cameras to steer the vehicle.  It was creepy to let the car control itself, and I didn't do a good job of it.  Instead, I kept turning the steering wheel such that the autopilot would disengage.  I bet with practice I could get used to it, though.  At the end of my drive I got to try out the car's perpendicular auto-park feature.  I pulled up to a spot, put the car in reverse, took my hands off the wheel, engaged the auto-park, and watched in amazement as the car maneuvered itself into the spot.

If I had enough money I would head straight to the nearest Tesla dealer to purchase one for myself.  Unfortunately, my bank account balance says that won't be happening anytime soon.  However, if the car's price ever comes down I'd certainly think hard about it.

Five years ago today: Bike Maintenance Basics

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Wonders All Around

Today in one of my meditation books I read:
"This is a day which God has given into my hands...I will notice interesting things."
And in the next paragraph, it said:
"Today there are wonders all around me, if I will open my eyes and enjoy them."
Reading those words of wisdom gave me the motivation to be extra observant.  I'm glad I was.  Otherwise I would have missed the small bunny scurrying to hide in a hole under the front porch slab.  And the two spotted fawns frolicking in a yard while during my evening walk.  And the beautiful patch of Black-eyed Susan I saw growing though a fence.

Five years ago today: Now That's Service!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Texas, Thanks To Tony

This week Hubby Tony had a training class scheduled in Dallas, Texas, and asked me if I wanted to join him for part of it.  I flew out of St. Louis Tuesday morning and arrived back home this afternoon.  Thanks to some new-to-me work assignments I also picked up along the way, it was a whirlwind two and a half days.

All of the people in town for Tony's training class stayed at the Magnolia Hotel. The beautiful historic building was originally the headquarters for the Magnolia Petroleum Company. The company trademark was a Pegasus,  and this was the first thing I saw when I walked into the lobby:

Tony told me there were about two dozen people in his class.  They weren't the only group, though.  We got to share the hotel with swarms of Mary Kay Cosmetic ladies, who were in town for their annual convention.  Everywhere I looked there were representatives.  Even if they weren't wearing their official convention lanyard it was easy to spot them, because most had on distinctive apparel or branded items.  The ones I talked with were very friendly, but I didn't want to get too close, for fear of being roped into a sales presentation.

I enjoyed spending time with Tony at breakfast and after work hours, but he wasn't the only family member I got to hang out with.  You may remember that Son Tony now lives in the Dallas area, and Son Donald (who finished his university summer semester and is free until the next classes start in mid-August) was there paying his brother a visit.  It was an unplanned mini family reunion!

Five years ago today: The Art Of Sleeping In Public

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Do Nothing Challenge

When I try to do too much on the computer I get grumpy and out of sorts.  That's when I know it's time to Do Nothing For Two Minutes.

The URL takes you to a screen with a photograph of the ocean at sunset and the sound of waves crashing on a beach. It asks you to relax and listen to waves for 2 minutes. The site's developer takes relaxation seriously.  If you touch your mouse or keyboard the time starts over.

If you try it, let me know how you did.

Five years ago today: Birthday Bash 2012

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Virtual Rack Woes

How was I supposed to make a word with these letters?

Hubby Tony and I are usually pretty well matched at Words With Friends.  This game, though, I had rotten luck the entire time and he ended up winning by more than 100 points. I was so glad to have it be over!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Concentated Banana Goodness

Yesterday at the store they had some bananas for fifty cents a bunch.  A bunch jumped into my bag.

My default need-to-eat banana recipe is bread or muffins, but when I got home I realized that it was really too hot to turn on the oven.  I started thinking creatively, and wondered if it was possible to dry the fruit for later.  A quick Google search revealed that not only was it possible, it was easy.

I started out by weighing the bananas to see what I had... a little over 3 1/2 pounds of gooness:

After I peeled and sliced the fruit, I tossed it with lemon juice and arranged the slices on dehydrator trays,

then started up the dehydrator and waited.

The process took longer than I anticipated.  At bed time the bananas were still moist.  Before I turned in I lowered the dehydrator thermostat as far as it would go (so the slices wouldn't finish in the middle of the night).  This morning things were still dampish, so I turned the thermostat back up.  Two hours later I had this:

These slices are chewier than banana chips (which are actually fried) and have an intense banana flavor.  I put them in a container in the pantry, but since I've already gotten into it several times I suspect it won't take long before the bananas are gone.

Five years ago today: The Same, But Different

Sunday, July 23, 2017

No Ice Cream For You!

This morning Hubby Tony and I put the bikes in the car and drove to an organized bike ride in Edwardsville, Illinois. The ride had four options (14 miles, 23 miles, 41 miles, and 50 miles).  They all started at the same place and ended up at an ice cream store.

Right after we checked in, a man standing next to the table asked if we would like to join a group that was riding together. Tony and I had planned on doing the 14 mile route.  This group was riding 23 miles, but we agreed. It's always nice to meet new people.  After everyone was ready we headed out.  Eventually some of the group decided they wanted to go faster and left, but Bill, the organizer, was nice enough to stay with me and Tony the entire way.  

Most of the ride was on nice, flat reclaimed rail lines.  The street riding in between the trails was on safe quiet streets. There were only a couple of hills, and they were doable. It should have been a very easy ride.  However, last night a strong storm had come through the area, and the trails were scattered with tree debris.  We had to dodge several large branches dangling over the trail, and carry our bikes over a pile of greenery that completely covered it.

However, very close to the end of the ride we came upon a pile of branches over the trail that was about three feet tall.  We stopped and looked at it, looked at each other, then decided to turn back.  Bill was familiar with the area, and told us about a different ice cream store we could drive to.  We thanked him for the information, but instead, on the way home we stopped at a cafe/donut store for lunch and a different kind of sweet.

Five years ago today: Don't Worry