Monday, March 31, 2014

Signs of Spring 2014

Many of  the questions we get at the mall Customer Service desk are seasonal:
  • During the holiday season there are a lot of queries about calendars and edible gift stores. 
  • Right after the first of the year people are looking for places that sell planners and organization things.  
  • Next comes Valentine's Day, and everyone wants to know where the candy and jewelry stores are.  
  • March is Spring Break season.  People figure out they need swimming suits for their warm weather destinations, and have to know which places have them in stock.  
  • When Spring Break is over it's time to ask about prom dresses. 
  • Mother's Day brings another upsurge in questions about jewelry stores.  (Oddly enough, there are no corresponding Father's Day questions.)
  • At back to school time there's an increase in inquiries about stores that carry backpacks.
  • In early October it's all about the Halloween costume stores.
This morning I got a question that made me think that spring really is on its way.  A woman asked me where in the mall she could buy a pair of foam clogs--the ones that have a name similar to a reptile. 

Five years ago today: Just For Fun

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Too Many Passengers, Not Enough Seats

Last week when Hubby Tony and I were coming home from our trip to Phoenix our flight was scheduled to depart at 11:50. We were sitting at the gate shortly before they started boarding the plane when we heard an announcement that the plane was overbooked.  The airline asked for volunteers to give up their seats.

Tony and I looked at each other--we'd never done anything like that before, but we had a flexible schedule, so we approached the check-in counter and asked for more details. We learned that they'd give us a generous flight voucher and seats on the next flight. That flight went through Chicago and involved a change of planes, but the agent said the 45-minute layover would be more than enough time. We decided to be adventurous and go for it.

They had us get on the plane as usual, in case someone didn't show up at the last minute. As we were standing in line to board I saw the people who wanted our seats--a young couple with a toddler in a stroller. After only a few minutes in the plane they called our names and said they did need our seats. Good thing I hadn't gotten comfortable!  We deplaned, then stopped at the check-in counter to get our new boarding passes and vouchers. Our checked bags would fly to St. Louis without us. They'd hold them in the baggage service office until we got there.

The new flight left Phoenix at 3:00. We had time to kill, so we walked around the airport and browsed in a couple of gift shops.  The next time I glanced at the Departure board I noticed that our new flight was running late--so late it was arriving in Chicago five minutes before our connection left. That was a problem!

We talked to a counter agent, who (re)rebooked us on a direct flight to St. Louis that left at 6:50. There was now a lot of time to kill, and I didn't want to spend it hanging around the airport.  Son Tony had talked about the city's light rail system; I decided to find out more about it.  We walked back to the main terminal and talked to a friendly woman at an information desk who was very helpful.  She pointed us in the direction of the Sky Train (an electric people mover) which ended at a Metro station. The whole system was easy to navigate, and ten minutes later we were seated on a train headed toward downtown Phoenix where we had almost five hours to walk around and eat dinner before it was time to get back to the airport.

We have a year to use our voucher, and we're already talking about where to go.

Five years ago today: Enumeration

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sun Shine

A couple of weeks ago when I went to a baby shower,  the tables were decorated with cute miniature rose bushes.  The plant's 2-inch greenhouse pots were set inside plain white flowerpots, and each had a strip of pink burlap (in honor of the baby girl to-be) wrapped around it.

The hostess offered a plant to all the guests as they left.  I declined, explaining that the bush wouldn't stand a chance in my house because my cats really like to eat roses.  However, she looked so sad that I wasn't taking her party favor I relented.  I brought the pot home and put it on the fireplace mantel, which receives only a little indirect sun.

It didn't thrive there. The leaves started turning yellow, and quite a few of the leaflets started falling off.   In addition, the tiny pot dried out quickly; one day when I walked through the family room I noticed the plant was drooping to one side because it needed to be watered.  Something needed to be done.

This morning I was reading a gardening column in the newspaper which mentioned that roses need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. I realized that the tiny two-inch pot would easily fit on top of the window frame in the kitchen.


I hope the plant can start thriving in its new home.

Five years ago today: Check The Number

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thanks, But No Thanks

One day last week shortly before I was scheduled to clock out at the mall Customer Service desk, my boss came in with a soda from one of the cookie stores and two chocolate chip cookies...one for me and one for him.

I was pleased with his unexpected gesture. Normally I'd eat the cookie and not think anything about it. However, this year I've given up chocolate for Lent. (It's been a real struggle. Even several weeks into the season I still really crave it.)

I pondered my options. If I made a big deal out of not eating his gift it I might look contrary (and he'd probably never ever get me another sweet). If I went ahead and ate it I'd be giving in to keep him from feeling bad. After a couple of minutes I thought of a third option.

I thanked him profusely for the cookie, then slid it into my lunch box. On my way out of the mall I saw a couple of 20-something employees sitting on a bench taking their break. I explained the situation and asked if they could 'assist' me by taking the cookie off my hands.

Yes, they were happy to help.

Five years ago today: Weekend Update

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New 'Do

Before Hubby Tony and I left for last weekend's trip to Phoenix to see Son Tony we planned several activities. The first was Major League Baseball spring training games.  We went to two.  On Friday it was the Los Angeles Angels vs the Kansas City Royals in Tempe. On Saturday we saw the Texas Rangers play Kansas City in Surprise. 

The other activity was just for me.  Shalei, Tony's Significant Other, got her cosmetologist license several months ago and now works at an upscale salon.  I decided I wanted to have her cut my hair, so a couple of weeks ago I called and made an appointment.  I'm a walk-in-salon haircut type of gal who spends the absolute minimum amount of effort on my hair. I was a little nervous to be going to a full service place, but since I knew my stylist personally it was less intimidating.

The appointment was on Friday, right after the ball game. I was a little embarrassed to show up covered with sunscreen and sweat, but Shalei gave me a robe to put on over my clothes and brought over a style book.  She had some ideas of what I should do, but when she started throwing around beautician terms like 'stacked', 'textured', and 'A-line' I explained I wanted something low maintenance.  I haven't blow dried my hair in years, and had no desire to start now.  She laughed and said we'd have fun.

The fun started with a shampoo and nice head massage.  She used quite a few products on my hair, both before and after cutting, then blew it dry.  When she was done I had a side part and wispy bangs.  The back hair hugged the nape of my neck and had graduated layers.  The front angled down so it was substantially longer.   It was MUCH different than what I had when I walked in, but it looked great. I should have pulled out my camera right there for a photo; several hours later when I finally got around to it the hair was already a little windblown and droopy.

Front.  (I look tired, don't I?)
Back.














After I washed and tried to fix my own hair Saturday morning I decided I preferred the bottom of my hair all one length.  Saturday night Shalei met us for dinner and I told her that.  On Sunday she brought over her scissors and took care of it.  Talk about personal service!

Five years ago today: Snuff It

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Tale of Two Temperatures


Hubby Tony and spent last weekend visiting with Son Tony, who lives in the Phoenix area.  When we left St. Louis Thursday night there was a hint of early spring in the air, and I wore appropriate clothes--jeans, a long sleeved cotton shirt, and a jacket. After we arrived in Phoenix I ditched the heavy clothes and spent three wonderful days wearing shorts and tees. We spent a good portion of each day outside, taking advantage of the warm, sunny weather.

Yesterday morning it was a drag to put the jeans back on for the trip home.  To add insult to injury,  the St. Louis forecast called for snow flurries.  Sure enough, when we pulled into the driveway late last night there was a dusting of white stuff on the grass and plants. 

For the next few weeks our temperatures will go up and down like a roller coaster, but I know it will be a while until I need summer clothes again. This afternoon I did the laundry and put them back in the off-season area until it's time...

Five years ago today: Drying Out

Monday, March 24, 2014

But I Saw It On The Internet!

A couple of times a week someone comes up to me at the mall Customer Service desk and asks me about a store that we don't have.  The questions can be broken into three types:
  • The person hasn't been to the mall before and is just looking to see what stores are available. In that case I answer specific store requests and refer them to a mall map.
  • The store is one that used to be in the mall and they're past customers.  (That shopping trip could have been months or even years ago.)  I have to be the one to break the news that the store is gone. They're usually disappointed, but handle it well.
  • The person searched on the Internet and saw the store mentioned in conjunction with our mall, so they jumped in the car and drove here.  That's a problem if they've relied on an unofficial third party website, which is often out of date or completely wrong.  When I break the news to them the store isn't here they get annoyed, but there's nothing I can do except suggest a store in the mall that might carry the brand they're looking for. 
Five years ago today: If Life Gives You Lemons...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mapping Of The Cat Brain

A veterinarian can tell you that a cat’s brain is separated into different areas that each perform specialized tasks. Somehow I don't think these tasks are the ones they had in mind:



Five years ago today: Check It Out Without Checking In

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Into Fashion



Pantone
  I used to be one of the least fashion-aware people you could meet. Then I started working at a mall, where I continually walk past storefronts showcasing the newest fashion colors and trends. And if the visual manifestations aren't enough, the mall's website and marketing department are always giving me information that I'm expected to read. I can't help but soak some of the details in.

Not that I have a great need of those details, because I don't usually think a lot about my wardrobe. At home, where I have no need to look fashionable, I have a supply of comfortable shirts and jeans. When I go to work I wear black pants and a mall-supplied white shirt.

However, occasionally I'm glad I paid attention to what clothes and colors are current. This weekend I need lightweight shirts to wear to several events. I put off thinking about it until the last minute, so there wasn't time to shop. I went through the boxes of off-season clothes in my closet, and was pleasantly pleased to find out there were several that came close to this season's fashionable shades. They'll do just fine.

Five years ago today: Tale of Two Colleges

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Watch This

The other day while I was working at the mall Customer Service desk a customer brought me a wallet they'd found in the Food Court.

When we have something valuable like a wallet turned in there are different procedures to follow depending on what's inside. Of course, to figure out what I should do I needed to open the wallet. I was a little leery to do it since I working by myself and wouldn't have a witness to vouch for me if I was accused of taking anything out of it.

I know that Security has the ability to watch what's going on at the desk, so I called the office, explained the situation, and asked the dispatcher to turn one of the cameras on me. When I was sure I was being watched, I opened the wallet and looked closely enough to see there was a debit card and a couple of dollar bills. I relayed the information; the dispatcher told me to hang on to it until it was retrieved. If no one claimed it they'd pick it up at the end of the day.

Five years ago today: Not Customary

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Patron Saint Of Cats

Everyone knows that today is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.  However, he's not the only person who's honored on March 17th.  According to Catholic Online there are six others, including St. Gertrude of Nivelles.

Several years ago Hubby Tony and I were browsing in a gift shop that had a selection of tongue-in-cheek saint statues. I'd never heard of Saint Gertrude before, but when the box identified her as the Patron Saint of Cats I decided I had to have it!

After a little research I leaned St. Gertrude was was a seventh-century abbess who was born in 626 and died in 659. With her mother, she founded the monastery of Nivelles in present-day Belgium. She was never formally canonized, but in 1677 Pope Clement XII declared her feast day to be March 17. She is the patron saint of travelers, gardeners, and cats; she protects against mental illness, fever, mice, and rats.

My saint statue came with a stand embossed with her name. She has a cat slung over one arm and another by her feet. There's also a backdrop decorated with more cats that slips into a slot on the stand. We keep the statue on a shelf in the family room next to a set of three small soapstone cat sculptures and a miniature picture book of kittens.

Jackson and Pepper, our cats, ignore all of it.

Five years ago today: My Home Town

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tag It

I was invited to a baby shower this afternoon, the first in quite a few years.  The invitation told me the baby was a girl, and I should "bring a baby book instead of a card". 

At the store I had a great time looking at tiny baby things.  It was really hard to decide, but in the end I bought an outfit, coordinating crib shoes, and a soft blanket.  I also chose a chunky board book called Open the Barn Door with flaps that you lift to see an animal behind it.

When I went to wrap the present I discovered the only paper I had didn't exactly scream 'baby shower'.  It featured assorted cartoon cats on a light yellow background.  However, when the thick book didn't fit in the box I attached it to the top with lengths of ribbon.   I thought the colors of the book cover blended acceptably with the paper.


The present still needed some type of gift tag, though.  I decided to be creative and make one that coordinated with the wrapping.  First I scanned the paper into a file, then cut out one virtual cat and pasted it into a graphics program.  Next I got rid of the yellow background, then printed the cat onto white card stock and cut out the label.  The printer ink wasn't as vibrant as the paper, but I think it came out pretty good.


Five years ago today: Madness!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

PLEASE?!?

Thursday's weather--60° and sunny.    Friday--67°with a few clouds.    Today--71° and sunny.

Tomorrow--temperatures dropping into the 30s with a wintry mix in the morning turning to all snow in the afternoon.  Total snow/sleet accumulation up to 3".


Source

Five years ago today: Bamboo U

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring Cleaning...It’s Time!

Today's guest post comes from Madison on behalf of Garage Envy in St. Louis. She has some great tips for spring cleaning. Take it away, Madison!

After reading Kathy’s post about her new bike, I immediately felt this desire for spring; I could have been diagnosed with “spring fever” right then and there, as one commenter put it. With the weather warming up and moods elevating, it would be sinful to stay cooped up inside and in front of the TV, a mockery to all that spring encompasses.

We’ve all heard the term “Spring Cleaning” and it frequently comes with a pit in the stomach or a headache for the hypochondriac. But, it needs to be done, for it’s the threshold for warm weather entertainment and fulfillment. Consider starting in the garage, where all of your outdoor equipment resides. Whether you have bikes, garden tools, or sports gear, you’ll be using your garage a lot more during these warmer months. Here are some tips to prep that space.
1.) Shelving: Think of how much space you can open up if you move everything off the floor. Invest in some strong shelving, which will give you that open floor plan.

2.) Hang: With the shelving listed above, you’ll be able to hang your storage from the racks. Think of how wonderful it would be to have your bike hanging from the shelf and be easily accessible all at the same time.

3.) Designate: In order for things to stay orderly, you’ll need to determine specific spots for every item. Make sure they stay there and let everyone in the household know what goes where.

4.) Enlist: You don’t have to do it alone! Enlist help from your family members and promise them a hot, delicious meal (or cold, delectable treat) afterwards.

5.) Enjoy: Make sure you reward yourself after your hard work, and enjoy your newly organized space!
The delights of spring are well upon us and before you know it, the blazing heat of August will occasionally restrict us to our air-conditioned homes. Keeping our living areas organized will help our lives feel more in order, and allow us to enjoy the warmer months to their fullest.



Five years ago today: Fair Game

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Remotely

At the end of last year I learned how to maintain a computer database for an organization I belong to.  After a small learning curve I think I'm doing a pretty good job.  When someone has an change they email me the information.  I update the database, then publish a report and email it to the woman who uploads it to the organization's web page.

Last week I got an email from my partner. She said she'll be traveling for a couple of weeks and won't be able to bring her computer.  Could I manage the website in her absence?
Um....sure. I think.
I don't have the web page software program installed on my computer, so over the weekend she gave me her laptop, along with the email address for the organization's business and all the the appropriate passwords.  I set up an auxiliary computer station on a shelf in the family room and made myself a note to check the organization's email a couple of times a day.

On Monday I got my first request.  I did the part I always do, but I couldn't figure out how to navigate hers. Even after clicking through all the folders on the software I wasn't sure how to proceed.  Thankfully, the man who had the job previously was available to help.  Last night he walked me through the steps using a remote control program.

 I called him after dinner, and he initialized the remote session from his end.  It's always a little creepy to watch someone use my computer remotely. The mouse moved around the page and words got selected and deleted, even though I'm wasn't doing it. Sometimes when we both tried to use the mouse at the same time the pointer arrow bounced around the page like a ball in a game of Pong.

In the 24 hours it took to set up the remote there wee three requests--the original one, plus two others that came in yesterday.  The remote session took almost an hour, but all the changes have been made.  I wish I could say I learned exactly how to do it, but it all moved too fast for me to take notes.  My web page partner told me that the requests come in a varying rates. Sometimes there will be several in a week and sometimes just a couple.

I'm hoping for the latter.

Five years ago today: Starring Me!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Window Dressing

Today during my shift at the mall Customer Service desk I got to watch while a fashion merchandiser at a nearby store set up their new windows displays.  It was a fascinating show.

This store has six large windows, and they're some of the best-decorated in the mall.   Each window has a different theme, with the mannequins dressed accordingly.  Depending on the time of the year you're liable to see office, casual, outdoor, or social motifs.  When I arrived this morning the windows were empty except for some backgrounds and white drapes.  The plain white mannequins were arranged with their backs to the windows.  Over the course of my shift the merchandiser moved from one window to the next putting everything together. 

Sometimes she'd bring out a fully-dressed mannequin and set it into place.   Other times it would be dressed inside the window.   First she would lay the mannequin down and slide the pants on, then add shoes and set it on a display stand.  Next she'd put clothes on the torso (removing the mannequin's hands if necessary) and button/zip/tie everything as needed.   The figures were arranged in the window, then the last step was to add the finishing touches--props appropriate to the story the window was trying to tell...such as a table with a pile of papers and a lush green plant for office wear, or a picnic basket and blanket for an outdoor scene.

When each window was finished it was an elegant display that showcased the store's spring items.

Five years ago today: It's Two O'Clock Somewhere

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Crosswords By Committee

Our newspaper has a puzzle page every day.  It always contains two crosswords, and depending on the day of the week there are additional number and word challenges.  On days when I go to work I take the page with me.   In between fielding questions and phone calls at the Customer Service desk I surreptitiously work on the puzzles.  On the other days I leave the page on the kitchen table, where they're fair game for anyone.  By Sunday there there are several puzzle pages stacked on the kitchen table. 

The crossword puzzzles are the most popular in our family.  Sometimes one of us will pick one up and do it on our own.  Other times Son Donald, Hubby Tony, and I are all sitting at the table at the same time with a sheet of newspaper in front of us filling in clues.  Everyone has different areas of expertise, so different answers are easy to each of us. Oftentimes a word completed by someone else will provide a letter clue for the next person.

The weekend puzzles (especially the New York Times) are pretty hard and we usually can't finish them.  After everyone who wants to has had a crack at them we move the pages to the recycling bin and move on.  Doing puzzles is supposed to be fun, not frustrating.

Five years ago today: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Pedal-Driven Recreational Vehicle

For my birthday back in January Hubby Tony gave me a gift certificate for a new bicycle.  That day we visited the store and I got some basic information, but it wasn't a good day for a test ride so I said I'd come back another day. 

It's now almost two months later.  Thanks to the coldest, snowiest winter in several years I never made it back to the store.  Today it finally felt like early spring, so after lunch I headed out to get my bike.  I explained to the salesperson that I was looking for something I could ride for recreation, mainly on streets and paved trails.  He made some suggestions, then let me do test rides out in the parking lot.  After trying out a few different styles I made my decision.

Trek
My new bike is a beautiful dark teal color, with white decals on the frame.  It has an adjustable stem so the handlebar angle can be adjusted up or down, and a dropped center bar that makes it easy to get on and off.  

When I got home I took the bike out for a ride in the neighborhood.  I was a joy to feel the wind in my hair as I pedaled along.  So much different than my old bike, which had geriatric gears that didn't respond immediately and a chain that tended to fall off the derailleur when I shifted.  I especially appreciated the nice suspension system and cushion seat.

I'm looking forward to putting many miles on this bicycle.

Five years ago today: Benvenuti

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Polenta. It's What's For Dinner

Sometimes full-blown cooking ideas just randomly pop into my head.  This morning when I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner I remembered there was a package of bulk Italian sausage in the freezer and a clamshell of Roma tomatoes that needed to get used up.  I thought that salsiccia would taste good as an ingredient in a chunky tomato sauce.  Instead of pasta, I could serve it on top of polenta.

The funny thing is that I've never made polenta.  However, I watch a lot of cooking shows and didn't think it would be that hard to do.  With a half hour before I had to get ready for work, I did a Google search. The first result was for Giada De Laurentiis' polenta.  I know she has good recipes, so I stopped my search there.

There were four ingredients for polenta:  water, salt, corn meal, and butter.  I boiled the water, whisked in the salt and corn meal, and let it cook on low until the cornmeal was tender and the mixture was thick.  Next I spread it out into a baking dish, then put the dish in the refrigerator.  (After it was in the pan I realized I'd forgotten to add the butter, but the dish turned out fine.)  The whole thing took 25 minutes.

While the polenta was cooking I searched for a sauce recipe.  The first result, Polenta with Sausage Ragu, was from Mario Batali, one of Giada's Food Network buddies.  I used it more as an inspiration than an exact recipe because I didn't have all the ingredients and didn't have time to get them.

After work I browned the sausage, then added chopped onion, garlic, and carrots until they softened up.  I diced the tomatoes and added them to the pot along with a can of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, a can of water, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and a little sugar.  The sauce simmered for about 20 minutes.

The last step was to cut the polenta into triangles and broil them in the oven until the edges got crispy.  I cooked some frozen vegetables in the microwave, then plated everything up.  Here's the (really good) result:



Five years ago today: Cover Construction

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The "A Word"

After the merrymaking of Fat Tuesday comes Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

This morning I went to the all-school Mass.  The students sit in the front of the church by grade, and other people fill in behind them.   I got there a few minutes before the entrance procession started down the center aisle.  There were eight students at the front of the procession. Each carried a circle with a letter written on it. When they reached the altar, they turned around and their letters formed the word ALLELUIA.

The priest pointed out that during the season of Lent, we don't use the "A word" at Mass because it's considered an Easter word. By taking it away for a while, at Easter we'll have a new appreciation of how joyful it is.  He gathered all the letters, rolled them up, and slid them into a tubular container, then closed it with the lid and said it will be put away in the school until Easter, when the letters could come out again.

Five years ago today: Out On The Town

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fat Tuesday

Today is Mardi Gras (which is French for Fat Tuesday), the last hurrah before Lent begins. Tomorrow on Ash Wednesday I'll be fasting, so today was all about excess.

I started the day with a big bowl of wonderfully rich leftover fried rice.  After a healthy lunch I stopped at the grocery store on my way to work and got a chocolate frosted doughnut.  On my break I treated myself to a cup of coffee.  At the end of the day I met Hubby Tony at a Mexican fusion restaurant about five minutes away from the mall.

We started with drinks and chips with perfectly spicy salsa. Tony ordered a taco sampler platter and I chose a carne asada quesadilla. We traded bites of our entrees, but mine was so good I wasn't really interested in sharing.  When the waitress came to take our empty plates away she offered dessert. Everything on the list sounded decadent. I let Tony pick and he chose chocolate empanadas.

Several minutes later the waitress brought out a rectangular plate containing two fat empanadas drizzled with chocolate sauce. Four tiny scoops of vanilla ice cream and a couple of dollops of whipped cream were arranged along one side.

I used my fork to cut off one point of of an empanada, which I dipped in whipped cream before I put it into my mouth. The piece was predominantly fried dough, but there was something funny about the taste.  I followed that bite with a little ice cream, then tried again. This time when I cut into the pastry a light brown sauce oozed out, followed by a pea and a cube of carrot!   Instead of being sweet our 'dessert' pastries were savory. 

The next time the waitress walked by we showed her our plate. She was extremely apologetic, and said there was a new cook in the kitchen who must have read her order wrong. They offered us a new dessert, but we realized that we weren't hungry any more and passed.  No use making ourselves sick just because it was a day of surfeit.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Mom Look

The big snowfall they were predicting we'd get yesterday turned out to be not such a big deal.  The original forecast was for six to eight inches of snow, but they kept revising it throughout the day. When all was said and done, we had a thin layer of ice topped with somewhere between one and two inches of snow.

However, in anticipation of another big winter event most of the schools announced a snow day. When I pulled into the mall parking lot this morning there weren't many cars there.   At 10:00 I turned on the lights at the Customer Service desk.  It took fifteen minutes before I had my first question.  As the day drug on, though, traffic picked up.  There were a lot of people taking advantage of the mall's warmth.

About 1:00, I saw a group of middle-school-aged boys all wearing baseball caps and shirts with mall-store logos.  They were a bit noisy, but not causing any trouble.  As they passed the desk one of them looked over at me and said "hi"; the others followed suit.  They walked away from me poking at each other as only pre-adolescent males do.

Five minutes later I heard a commotion. The group of boys came running back towards me at full speed, one of them holding a baseball cap in his hand. His friend was behind him yelling "gimme back my hat!"  The rest of the group was laughing.  They thought the whole thing was hilarious.

I knew they were just playing, but it had to stop. When they got even with the desk I got their attention and gave them my stern "mom look". They immediately stopped running, but once they were out of eyerange I heard them start again.

That's OK. I knew Security would take care of it.

Five years ago today: Square Business

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Harbingers Of Spring?

Our weather since last night at bedtime: a combination of sleet and snow overnight, a lull of several hours, and then several more inches of snow. 

During the lull I went outside to shovel the driveway, thinking it would be a quick job.  Instead, it took me, Hubby Tony, and Son Donald 45 minutes to scrape off the icy mix.   After we were done Donald moved his car off the street and onto the driveway to make it easier for the snow plow.  He came back inside and said there was something going on in the yard I should look at. 

From my position at the living room window, the holly bush just to the left of the front door looked like it was alive!  I took a closer look and realized it was full of robins.  I counted a dozen birds perched on the bush eating berries, and probably that many more on the ground around that and the other hollies planted in the bed that stretches across the front of the house.

I grabbed my camera to take a picture, but since the bushes are close to the window every time I moved the camera into position I'd spook some of the birds.  It didn't help that Jackson the cat was next to me on his hind legs chattering away at the excitement going on outside.

Can you see all six birds?
The flock stayed around for about a half hour. By the time they moved on, all the holly bushes were pretty much stripped of berries.

Five years ago today: Taking Inventory

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Carnival Time

Mardi Gras season (the chunk of the year between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday) is a big deal in the St. Louis area.  The tradition started in the early 1980s with a handful of people parading from one bar to another in the Soulard neighborhood, but over the years it's grown so big that some civic boosters say it's now the second-largest in the country.

Although there are a few events just after Epiphany, a couple of weeks before Ash Wednesday things really kick into high gear. Last Sunday was the Pet Parade, today was the Grand Parade, and in a couple of day there will be one last parade hurrah the evening of Fat Tuesday.

The last time I went to the Grand Parade was about ten years ago. It was pretty crowded and rowdy then, and I've heard it's even more so now.   Not my cup of tea.  There's one section near the beginning of the route that's purported to be a little less wild; I'd think about watching from that area if the weather was nice. This year it wasn't, so once again I stayed away.

I still like the Mardi Gras, atmosphere, though. For the last week many of the volunteer programmers at KDHX, the community radio station I listen to, have filled their shows with Mardi Gras and Carnival music.  My favorite type is uptempo and percussion-filled.  Like this song from the St. Louis band JOIA



Five years ago today: Trillion Dollar Question