Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It's A Real Mess Out There

Hubby Tony and I are invited to an engagement party tonight, and then tomorrow night our New Year's Eve plans will take us in the same general direction.  However, we won't be using the most direct route to get there; it's under water.

KMOV
2015 is turning out to be the wettest December on record for the metropolitan St. Louis area.  The storm that put us over the edge started late Friday night, and the deluge kept going until Monday. As a result of the rain we're projected to have some of the worst flooding in the past 20 years.  Creeks and rivers have been overflowing their banks, and some levees have been overtopped.

The intersection in the picture is Highway 141, which goes under Interstate 44.  That's water from the Meramec River you see swirling around.  Since this photo was taken the water has risen even more, closing the interstate completely.  There are several surface road detours that are available, but not surprisingly they're congested.  When Tony took one of them to meet some friends last night he reported it was stop and go the whole way.  This morning I got stuck in more traffic (and what should have been a five minute trip took 20 minutes).  We're already talking about how we need to modify our plans for the next few days.

The good news is that this mess won't last forever.  The rivers in the area are supposed to crest today, and the roads are projected to be cleaned and ready to use by the weekend. 

Five years ago today: For All My Super Mom Friends

Monday, December 28, 2015

Wanna Escape?

What a whirlwind couple of weeks we've had!  Our out-of-town children arrived, then Christmas came. Fortunately the company stayed around a little longer after the holiday.  However, all good things have to come to an end.  Son Brian and DIL Nicole left mid-afternoon today for a trip to Columbia to see college friends (they'll come back and stay here Saturday, then fly home early Sunday morning).  Tonight I took Son Tony to the airport for his flight.  Now it's down to just me, Hubby Tony, Son Donald, and the cats in the house.

While everyone was here, time passed quickly.  Every day was filled with eating, talking, more eating, shopping, seeing a movie, playing games, watching TV, and more eating.  We had planned one big family activity--an escape room challenge, which was new to all of us.  If you're not familiar with escape rooms, Wikipedia describes them this way:
Real-life room escape games are a type of physical adventure game in which people are locked in a room with other participants and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit.
The facility we went to, Escape from St. Louis, offered two different room scenarios. We chose one called A Ghost Story, where we had to figure out who murdered a teenager twenty-five years ago.

When we arrived at the facility  we were escorted to the door of our room.  After some short directions our team got a walkie-talkie (to communicate with the front desk or ask for clues, which would add to our final time), flashlights, and a dry erase marker to write on a laminated board in he room.  The door opened, we stepped in, and our hour of puzzle-solving started.

The adventure was a lot of fun, and I'm proud to say that we succeeded in escaping from the room before the time expired.  We asked for two clues, which added ten minutes to our final time of 62 minutes and 30 seconds.

Five years ago today: Cold Winter Coming (I'm Concerned About You)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015


A Christmas Wish

I'd like a stocking made for a giant,
And a meeting house full of toys,
Then I'd go out in a happy hunt
For the poor little girls and boys;
Up the street and down the street,
And across and over the town,
I'd search and find them everyone,
Before the sun went down.


                           
~~Eugene Field

Thursday, December 24, 2015

One More Sleep!

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

As we'd tel the kids when they were little, there's only one more sleep until Christmas. Today when I was at church installing this week's slides on the three electronic bulletin boards I hung the last ornament from the box on a leafless bush in the church courtyard.


Five years ago today: If Mary and Joseph Had Facebook...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Good Timing

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Today I was with Hubby Tony when he stopped to fill his car tank up.  While he pumped the gas I jumped out of the car and ran over to a nearby tree and placed the day's ornament. I was able to hang, admire, and photograph the result in the time it took him to finish his job.


Five years ago today: It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Cheer

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Today on the way home from the gym I stopped and hung an ornament on a tree next to a bus shelter.  I hope the splash of red brings a smile to anyone who's sitting there.


Five years ago today: Do-Over

Monday, December 21, 2015

WHAT Season Is It?

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

So far 2015 is the third warmest December on record for the metropolitan area.  On the first day of winter here we had a high temperature of 67 degrees. (The average is 41 degrees).  This afternoon the neighbor kids were out blowing their leaves, and I think I heard someone a couple of streets over using a lawn mower!

Today I've been so busy cooking and getting ready for Christmas I haven't even left the house.  I did take a couple of minutes to step outside to enjoy the weather and hang an ornament on the tree in our 'tree yard' between the sidewalk and the street.  I'm confident that with the weather we're having someone will walk by and see it.


Five years ago today: Blossoming

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hostess Herbs

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.


This afternoon I've been invited to a holiday brunch.  I wanted to bring the hostess a thank you gift but I know she's trying to eat healthy, so a box of candy or a traditional Christmas sweet didn't seem appropriate.  I was looking around at a store that specializes in natural and organic groceries, where I found a potted 'holiday bouquet' that contains small rosemary, sage, and thyme plants.  It seemed perfect; my friend can either use it as a house plant or in her cooking.

On the way out of the store's parking lot I hung the day's ornament on the tree next to my car.

Five years ago today: A (Very) Short History of Christmas

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Another Day, Another Tree, Another Ornament

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Looking back through all the photos I've taken this month, it struck me that quite a few of them look similar, which I guess is the result of placing my ornaments in leafless deciduous trees. You'll have to trust that today's (yet again) leafless deciduous tree is new and different.  Hubby Tony and I were out taking a walk on a brisk but sunny late autumn day.  Before we left I told him he was in charge of picking the location.  I think he did a good job.


Five years ago today: If My Feet Are Happy, Then I'm Happy

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Thank You

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

For the past eight years I've attended a meeting at a nearby church on Friday morning.  I enjoy going there; the staff is welcoming and the facilities are always clean.  Today on my way out of the parking lot I decided to offer them a little Christmas Thank You by hanging an ornament in a forsythia bush.


Five years ago today: Light Up The Night

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Where Did It Go?

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Yesterday I drove by one of the places I put an ornament earlier in the month and noticed that the tree was still adorned.  Today the ornament was gone.  We didn't have any severe weather overnight that would have blown it off, so I'm not sure what happened to it.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone who didn't have ornaments for their personal tree saw it and gave it a new home (or passed it on to someone else who needed it)?

My last stop today was at a county park with a nice paved walking trail.  The mature tree branches by the trail were too tall for me to reach, but I found a newly-planted tree next to the parking lot that I think was improved with a splash of red. 


Five years ago today: Oh, What Fun

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

This Is When It Starts Getting Interesting

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Christmas is still ten days from now, but this afternoon I'm picking Son Tony up at the airport.   He had a business trip this week that took him to Chicago (from his home in Phoenix) and decided to come straight here instead of flying back and forth across the country.  Then next Wednesday we'll be back at the airport to pick up Son Brian and DIL Nicole.  After that everyone will be here through the end of the year.

I've tried to get things done ahead of time and clear my calendar as much as possible, but I'm determined to finish my daily ornament distributing   Can't stop now!

My area of West St. Louis County has several athletic associations baseball fields, some of which date back to the turn of the 19th century.  Back int he day groups of men would play each other for the sake of city pride.  Now the fields cater to teams of all ages.  During the summer you can find a game going on most nights and weekends. 

As you can imagine, the fields aren't in use in December, but the one I visited today has a parking lot that's next to a school. The lot gets used for overflow traffic, so I bet someone will see my red globe hanging in the tree.


Five years ago today: Treelight

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

You Just Never Know

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

When I was going to the gym yesterday I drove past the wrap-up of what looked like a serious accident.  I saw a car facing the wrong way on Manchester, the driver's side completely smashed in.  Two patrol cars were parked such that the oncoming traffic was funneled into one lane, away from the accident.  A police officer was sweeping broken glass off the road. 

I said a prayer as I went past, and soon forgot about the whole thing until this morning, when I read in the newspaper that the car's driver, who was waiting to pull out from a restaurant parking lot, was fatally injured when a vehicle ran off the road and hit her car.

This afternoon I drove to the Women's Center of a local hospital for my annual mammogram.  This facility is tucked back off the road, and has a strip of restored prairie between it and the road.  I like the contrast between the lawn grass and native plants behind it, and I think the ornament on the tree lends an extra festive touch.


Five years ago today: What's In Your Kettle?

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Windy December Day

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Last nigh a cold front came through the area, taking the above-average temperatures with it. Today it felt like December.  When I left the house after breakfast I underestimated just how cold and windy it was. The fleece I wore wasn't warm enough, so I had to hustle in and out of my car at every stop I made.

One of the things I had to do today is return some wall decor that hadn't looked as good on the wall as it had in the store. Coincidentally, the return was at the same place where I got my supply of ornaments just a couple of weeks ago.  I wondered--if I hung an ornament there would someone from the store would recognize it as some of their merchandise?  When I came out the wind was whipping everything around big time.  I chose a tree close to the building so the ornament wouldn't blow off.



Five years ago today: All God's Creatures

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Third Time's The Charm

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

The temperature today was still above average, but today was accompanied by rain, which made it feel more like April outside than December.  Mid-afternoon Hubby Tony had to go to Aldi to pick up a couple of things he needed to prepare dinner and I asked if I could go with him to run one additional errand.  He agreed.

My plan was to hang an ornament in a tree at the first strip mall we stopped in, but the steady stream of rain changed that plan.  It was still raining when we went into and came out of Aldi.  I wondered how I could take care of my mission without getting wet.  Tony realized there was one thing he couldn't get at Aldi, so I recommended a different grocery store that was on the way home.  I remembered that this store has a row of euonymus bushes just off the parking lot and I could stand under the covered store walkway to stay dry while I hung my ornament.

However, when we pulled into the store's parking lot I noticed the bushes had been trimmed.  Instead of standing five feet tall, they were now half that size.  No one would see an ornament placed down that low.  So, while Tony headed inside to get his item I stood in a steady drizzle and decorated a small tree close to the car.


Five years ago today: Sing-Along

Saturday, December 12, 2015

No Jacket Needed

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

What do you do when the temperature is 20 degrees above average in late fall? You get outside!  The forecasted high temperature for today was 71 degrees.  When I went outside mid-morning to dump coffee grounds in the compost pile it was already warm enough turn off the furnace and open some windows. My inside plans for the day quickly changed.  I made lunch and Hubby Tony and I drove to a nearby park for an impromptu picnic. 

Thanks to a combination of high humidity and dewpoint there was a sheen of wet on every outside surface.  The table we chose underneath a pavilion needed to be wiped off before we could sit down.  Before we set out the food I hung an ornament in a honeysuckle bush so I could see it while I ate.  

It was awesome to hear the birds chirp and squirrels rustle the fallen leaves.  Unfortunately, after 20 minutes reality and the To-Do list set back in.  We gathered up our things and headed back to the car. 

My lunch view
Five years ago today: Once A Bad Kitty, Always A Bad Kitty

Friday, December 11, 2015

'Tis The Season For Ornaments

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

There are several small church cemeteries within five miles of my house in Manchester, most dating back to the city's founding as a rest stop on the journey west from St. Louis in the mid 1800s.  Today I stopped at one of them and hung the day's ornament.

It was a gloomy, dreary day, appropriate for hanging out in a cemetery.  The section I chose was still in use, with most of the graves from the last decade.  Many of them were decorated for the season.  After I added my additional cheer I looked around a little bit, then left.


Five years ago today: Smells Like Christmas

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Instant Healthy Dessert

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Tonight Hubby Tony and I are going to a potluck dinner.  Our section of the alphabet was asked to bring a dessert.  I decided to go with something easy, healthy, and (based on past experience) popular.  All I did was stop in a grocery store and pick up packages of blackberries.  When I came home I washed them, dried them, and poured them into a festive bowl.  At the party I'll set the bowl down among the cakes, cookies, and candy, stick a serving spoon in it, and call it done.


Before I made it to the grocery store I hung today's ornament in a nearby city park/municipal center.  As I was taking the picture a woman walked by and asked me, "Are you doing a photography project?"  I answered, "Something like that."


Five years ago today: Mmmm.........

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It Shouldn't Be This Hard!

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

This morning I visited the chiropractor for a 'tune up' appointment, which whips my creaky back into shape for another four to six weeks.  When I entered the office he asked if I had any special issues.  As it turns out, I did.  For the past month my right heel has been hurting off and on.  After consulting with Dr. Google I determined it was a plantar fasciitis issue.  The next week during a visit with my primary care doctor I ran the symptoms by him.  He agreed with me, and gave me some exercises to do.  Today's visit gave me even more suggestions, and an exercise demonstration.  I left the office feeling great.

My original plan was to hang my ornament in one of the trees on the street next to the chiropractor's, but the branches had been trimmed too high for me to reach.  I left the parking lot and turned onto a street that runs behind a strip mall.  The street had No Parking signs posted every 200 feet, so I kept driving until I reached the end of the strip mall.  Right by the road that led to the mall's parking lot were several large sweetgum trees.  I parked the car, then walked back and placed my red ball on a branch. Random cheer delivered for the day



Five years ago today: Some Types of Stealing Are OK!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Enhance An Evergreen

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.


After breakfast this morning I laced up my walking shoes and headed for church for Mass to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  In the Catholic church, the day celebrates the Virgin Mary's  conceivement in her mother's womb without original sin.

Over the weekend Hubby Tony and I were walking along the same route when he pointed out an evergreen tree that would look great with a red ornament on it.  On the way home from church, I did just that.

Five years ago today: Tree

Monday, December 7, 2015

Stop And Look

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Today was all about getting stuff done and crossed off my To Do list. First was a trip to the gym for a piyoga class, then five different errands as I made my way back home,  Once I made it home there was a pile of paperwork to tackle and multiple phone calls to make. To get ready for my busy day, after breakfast I made myself a lunch to eat on the road, then started piling the things I'd need while I was out on top of my purse so I wouldn't forget them.

I lost track of the time and had to scramble to get out of the house and to the gym on time.  I grabbed an armful of things off the island, threw it in the car, and zoomed out of the driveway.  Thanks to some great stoplight timing I pulled into a gym parking space right on time,  I reached down to grab my yoga mat, but it wasn't there.  In my rush I'd left it sitting on the island.  (I borrowed a group exercise mat, which made an acceptable substitute.)

Fortunately, I did not forget my bag of ornaments, so on the way out of the parking lot I stopped to hang one on a tree next to a stop sign.  I wonder how many people will look over that way when they stop?



Five years ago today: The Gift of Giving

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Elemental

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

When I started making a list of places to hang an ornament a school immediately came to mind.  However, I figured if I did it while classes were in session I would draw some negative attention.

So, on my way out of the neighborhood this afternoon I detoured to a nearby elementary school, where I hung an ornament on a tree close to the sidewalk.

I hope someone will see it tomorrow.


Five years ago today: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The First Holiday Festivities Of The Season

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Today Hubby Tony and I drove just across the Missouri River to the historic downtown area of St. Charles, drawn by their Christmas Traditions Festival and a beautifully brisk, sunny day.  Over the course of three house we window shopped (and bought a couple of things), visited with some friends, and browsed through some artist's studios.

Before our adventure started, though, we stopped at a park along the river, where I hung an ornament on a small branch of a large tree.


Five years ago today:Deck The Halls

Friday, December 4, 2015

Successful Fear Facing

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

Today I did a new-to-me project that involved organizing and restocking three specific brands of toys at a local big box store.  When I found out everything that was involved in the task I almost backed out, but I decided to face my fear head on.  After lunch today I pulled into the store parking lot and hung an ornament first.


The job wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, but I wasn't able to perform it according to my written instructions. The department manager had only been on the job for two days and had no idea where things were.  He unsuccessfully attempted to contact the previous manager (the person was at lunch).  Finally, someone came with a note scribbled on the back of an envelope indicating several trailers parked out back that might have the products I needed.  I followed that person out to the trailers, where we searched unsuccessfully for ten minutes before giving up and returning inside with no merchandise. 

I straightened the areas to the best of my ability,  took some photos to document what I did, and had the manager sign a form saying I had been there.  We'll see what the company says about my efforts.

Five years ago today: Something Old, Something New

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Adorning The Grounds

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.


On the way home from the gym today I stopped at a nearby municipal park and hung an ornament on a tree by the playground. There was no one on the equipment, but over the weekend the temperatures are supposed to be in the 50s. I bet the nice weather will bring families out.

Five years ago today: Tea, Anyone?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Job And Joy

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

This morning I was pleasantly surprised to see a $10 coupon to one of my favorite stores show up in my email. I'd already scheduled work for today at a mall that had a branch of this store; now I could conserve time and gas and take care of two things at the same place.

Before I headed into the mall I stopped and hung an ornament on a tree close to one of the main mall doors.


Five years ago today: What's the Hurry?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The First Of December

Every day from December 1st until Christmas I'm hanging an ornament in an outside public place as a Random Act of Christmas Cheer.

When I left the house to go to the gym, do some work, and run errands this morning I carried the box of ornaments out to the car so I'd be ready when inspiration hit.  The inspiration happened at my last stop for the morning, a big-box hardware store.  As I pulled in, I noticed that each of the crab apple trees in the parking lot islands were already decorated with strands of lights.  (I made a mental note to remember to stop back there once the sun went down.)

My red ornament blended in with the crab apples, but if someone looks closely they'll see it.  Do you?

Can you see it?
Five years ago today: The Countdown's Begun...

Monday, November 30, 2015

Nothing But The Best Deals (Or So They Say)

According to Wikipedia, the term Cyber Monday (which is the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States) has been in use since 2005  The day was created to encourage people to shop online.  And, based on my experience this year, encourage they did.

All day long I had a flood of emails (most of which landed in my Junk folder because of my Inbox settings). The marketing department of every retail company I have a relationship with wanted me to know about their one-day only specials.  Each time I checked there was another round of notifications offering great prices on clothes (everyday, exercise, and outdoor), collectibles, cruises (two different lines), home goods, makeup, and shoes.

Two online marketplaces enticed me to click through their links, telling me they had the best prices on things I had to have or gift to someone else.  In addition to me and the people in my life, more messages told me I could buy food and accessories for my pets.  One of the software programs I have on my computer let me know that I could upgrade to the newest version for a good price today.  Even my local newspaper sent me an email asking me to check out their online shop.

I'm sure I disappointed all those marketing departments by not taking advantage of any of the sales that came my way.  Maybe next year.

Five years ago today: Functional Fitness

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Random Acts Of Christmas Cheer

My mind works in strange ways that I've stopped trying to figure out.

Several years ago I read this post by blogger Catherine, in which she wrote about adorning trees in a nature preserve with Christmas ornaments.  For some reason that idea struck me as off the wall, but fun (and similar to when I hung a wind chime in a strip mall parking lot tree back in 2008).   I filed it away for future reference in my To-Do file.  Then, for several years I worked in a retail setting, where the month of December was crazy busy and there was no time for frivolous projects.

This morning I was looking at newspaper ads.  When I saw that a big box discount store had boxes of shatterproof ornaments for sale the whole idea of hanging ornaments in random places popped into my head.  After lunch I went and bought a box of 24 small red balls.

My plan is to share Random Acts of  Christmas Cheer by hang one ornament outside in a public place every day starting December 1st.   I hope the ornaments will make someone smile, but I'll never know.  I'm not planning on adding any contact information.  But will there be photos taken and shared here? You bet!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Who Am I?

Every couple of months I have to use an alias for work projects. The process feels just a little bit cloak and dagger, and I try to have fun with it.

Each time the alias I choose is slightly different.  I always use my real first name ever since the day someone called me by my fake given-name-of-the-day and I didn't realize they were talking to me.  The surname is always unique.  Sometimes I plan the name out in advance, but sometimes I forget until I'm in the car driving to a location.  Then I look around for a street name or landmark that I can appropriate, or listen for something on the radio I can adopt.

For example, yesterday I heard a commercial that said a St. Louis Symphony concert would include selections from the Harry Potter soundtrack.  I decided that 'Potter' was my name for the day.  However, I'm nothing if not flexible, so when someone called me 'Porter' I decided not to correct them.

Five years ago today: Fresh and New

Sunday, November 22, 2015

'X' Marks The Top (Or Bottom)

We had our first really cold weather last night, so today my first project was to replace the cotton sheets on all the beds with their flannel cousins. (Even though two of the bedrooms are empty now, they'll be full for Christmas.  Might as well do the job while I have the time) 

Once the sheets were on the beds it was time to add the rest of the bedding layers.  Each of the beds has the same polar fleece blanket, which have simple hems on all four sides and no satin binding at the top edge.  The ones on the full-sized beds are sized as Full/Queen, and only about 10" longer than wide.  Without any type of top binding, I always have a problem figuring out which way to put those blankets on.  If I do it the wrong way there's not enough to tuck under at the foot and the sides hang down too long..

Today, though, as I was getting ready to put the first blanket on I had a revelation.  After I figured out which was the long side (by folding one corner of the blanket until it met the opposite edge), I used a Sharpie to draw an 'X' on the top and bottom hem.  The marks won't show underneath the bedspread, but it will make it easy for me to figure out the correct orientation.

X marks the top (or bottom)
Five years ago today: Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Tiny New Angel

You may remember last month when I made dinner for a young pregnant woman at church who'd been put on bed rest.  Unfortunately, the story didn't have a happy ending.  Despite the best efforts of the parents, the doctor, and the hospital, the baby was born much too early and much too small.  He lived 25 hours, and passed away last Friday.

The baby had been buried earlier in the week, but today they had a memorial mass.  It was the first time I've ever been to a service for someone who wasn't an adult, and a 'first' I wish I hadn't had to do.  I've known the baby's fraternal grandmother and grandfather for almost 25 years, and the baby's father went to school with one of my boys.  I didn't know the baby's mother until several years ago, but now I also know her mother and father (and her grandmother and grandfather) too.  All of them looked shell shocked.

The service was very comforting. Many of the people who were at the mass were parishioners, and I knew most of them by name or face. It was nice to be surrounded by so many familiar people. During the homily the priest offered reassuring and uplifting words, and the liturgy's music was soothing.

Afterwards the parents, grandparents, and great grandparents lined up in the back of church so people could express their condolences. It was difficult to go through that line and talk with all the grieving people; what do you say? 

On the way out I got a holy card that listed the baby's birth and death dates that I can keep for a remembrance.

Five years ago today: Sunless

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Twist Tie Code

This morning I was making a sandwich to take with me for lunch. (Whole wheat bread, sunflower seed butter sprinkled with extra sunflower seeds, and apricot jam.  It was very good).  I started with the last piece from one loaf of bread, and took the second piece from a new loaf I bought last time I grocery shopped. 

Each bag was secured with a different color twist tie.  The old one was blue.  The new one was white.  Seeing the two colors made me think of the 'bread tag code' I learned about from a friend a while back.  Basically, each day has a different color twist tie to help you figure out what day the bread was baked.

The system was set up to help stores identify which bread is fresh, which is getting old (so it can be put on sale), and which is out of date and needs to be removed from the shelves. As a rule, unless a stocker has missed pulling an old loaf you should only see two tag colors on the shelves at any one time.

There are a lot of online articles that give a definitive twist tie color schedule, but Snopes says there's no industry-wide standard for color coding. Each manufacturer is free to come up with their own system.

Wikipedia

Five years ago today: Turkey Trivia



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess

By Paul Mercuri [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I'm not anonymous and I'm not an abbess, but I think these observations are right on!
Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen

Margot Benary-Isbert

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Good Enough!

Our church is having a progressive dinner tonight. Hubby Tony and I volunteered to host a group of six.  That meant, on top of planning and cooking the meal (salad, pork roast, brown rice, roasted butternut squash, and broccoli) I had to do the cleaning chores that only get done when company's coming. I started with the easy stuff...dusting, cleaning the floor under the dining room furniture, and moving all the clutter out of the kitchen. Once that was done I was forced to think about the hard tasks. At the top of that list was dusting and cleaning the light in the front foyer.

Our foyer is two stories tall, and the light fixture is proportionate to the area's size. The behemoth is about 42" long. It's attached to the ceiling with an (approximately) 90" long chain, and the bottom of the fixture is another 90" from the floor. The fixture's polished brass and beveled glass panels hold ten candle-shaped light bulbs.

To dust the outside I attach a t-shirt to a broom, then walk up to the second floor, stand on the overlook, and lean over the rail. I have to be careful not to push too hard against the fixture or it will start swinging, and I don't know just how much of that it would take before crashing down. As challenging as the outside of the light is, the inside is even harder! Even standing on my eight-foot ladder I can't reach more than the bottom half.

 Yesterday afternoon I gave the fixture a good dust, then attempted to clean it. I thought I did a pretty good job until I turned it on; the glass panels I'd 'cleaned' were so streaky they almost looked worse than the ones I hadn't done. I figured it was time to come up with a Plan B. Plan B turned out to be Son Donald, who is about a foot taller than I am. This afternoon he was able to get most of the dirt off so the fixture is presentable. It's not perfect, but it's good enough.

Five years ago today: Exotic

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The World In Your Cup

Yesterday Hubby Tony and I went to a fascinating exhibition at the Missouri History Museum called "Coffee: The World in Your Cup and St. Louis in Your Cup".

Part of the display is a traveling exhibit. The rest is all about the St. Louis connection to coffee.  I learned that at one time St. Louis was a center for coffee trading, and one of the nation’s leading coffee producers. The city's relationship with coffee started when the French settlers who founded the city brought coffee beans with them.  Later, people heading west stopped in St. Louis to gather provisions, which included coffee.  The city's location on the Mississippi made it a natural hub as a trading center.  That was reinforced when many of the first railroads came through St. Louis.  By the turn of the 20th century, St. Louis was home to more than 70 coffee roasters and a hotbed for coffee imports, manufacturing, and distribution.

The exhibition had a section filled with an arrangement of old roasters, grinders, and coffee pots.  There was even a Civil War gun that doubled as a coffee mill.  A large portion of the exhibit contained examples of advertising, including grocery store storage bins, coffee cans and tins, trays, and signs. There was even a period-appropriate "living room" with a TV showing St. Louis celebrity Dana Brown's Safari Coffee commercials.

The last section of the exhibition was about the history of coffee from a global perspective, how it's grown and harvested, and some of the coffee customs in other cultures.  At the very end there was an interactive area where you could write about your connection to coffee on a cone-shaped filter and display it on one of the shelves.

Mural made out of coffee beans

Five years ago today: Living Thanks

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Secret Stairs

In the last month I've been at the mall closest to my house for job purposes four different times.  Today I had a fifth visit.  Usually when I go to this mall I park in the same section of the parking garage (first floor on the east side).  However, today the store I had to go to was on the other end of the mall, so I tried another 'regular' lot close to the food court.  It was full, so I decided to head towards the opposite corner of the parking garage from my regular area where there's a dedicated entrance for one of the stores.  I could walk through that store into the mall itself.

Because I find this particular parking garage confusing I took a wrong turn and ended up on the roof, where I had my choice of dozens of spaces.  From there you can take an elevator or stairs down one level to the store entrance.  I chose the latter.  When I entered the stairwell, I noticed a large sign that indicated the store entrance was right below, the food court down one more level, and the first floor of the mall below that.   I decided to get a little more exercise and take the stairs all the way down.

At the bottom of the stairs I opened the large set of metal doors and found myself in a service hallway.  There was a sign with an arrow pointing towards the mall.  I walked down the hall, though another set of metal doors into the public area, where I found my store and did my business. 

I decided I would backtrack my route and get even more exercise walking up the several flights of stairs to my car.  However, when I saw the large sign that said 'Employees Only Past This Point' on the public side of the first set of metal doors I almost changed my mind.  However, figuring they had no problem with me coming down the stairs I decided I wouldn't worry too much about going up.  Besides, no one was there to challenge me.

Five years ago today: Yippee!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Have You Seen Any Of These?

20 Signs of A Hard Winter from Dave Murray, a local TV Meteorologist
  • Thicker than normal corn husks
  • Woodpeckers sharing a tree
  • Early arrival of the Snowy owl
  • Early departure of geese and ducks
  • Early migration of the Monarch butterfly
  • Thick hair on the nape (back) of the cow’s neck
  • Heavy and numerous fogs during August
  • Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands
  • Mice eating ravenously into the home
  • Early arrival of crickets on the hearth
  • Spiders spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers
  • Pigs gathering sticks
  • Insects marching a bee line rather than meandering
  • Early seclusion of bees within the hive
  • Unusual abundance of acorns
  • Muskrats burrowing holes high on the river bank
  • “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest”
  • Narrow orange band in the middle of the Woollybear caterpillar warns of heavy snow; fat and fuzzy caterpillars presage bitter cold
  • The squirrel gathers nuts early to fortify against a hard winter
  • Frequent halos or rings around sun or moon forecast numerous snow falls.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Little Rolls Of Pumpkin Goodness

This weekend I'll be attending the statewide business meeting of a group I'm involved in.  I know from past experience with these meetings that there will be a lot of sitting around, and a lot of (non-healthy) eating. To combat the bad diet choices I knew I'd be making I wanted to bring some healthy things to snack on.

Yesterday I started my plan of attack, filling baggies with dried fruit and nuts.  I also wanted to bring vegetable sticks, but when I opened the produce drawer in the refrigerator there wasn't much there.  I didn't particularly want to go to the grocery store, so I figured I'd have to be creative.  The one thing I did have plenty of was pumpkin puree, but that would be hard to eat on the go.  I wondered if I could use my food dehydrator to make pumpkin leather.

Rolls of pumpkin goodness ready to be eaten
After looking at a couple of recipes online I realized the process was doable and pretty easy.  A bag of pumpkin contained two cups.  I combined the puree with a generous squirt of honey (about two teaspoons), three big shakes of cinnamon (about a teaspoon) and a shake of nutmeg (about 1/2 of a teaspoon), mixed everything together, and spread it on the dehydrator fruit leather tray.  I set the dehydrator temperature to 135˚ and walked away.  When I checked four hours later most of the tray was dry and pliable.  There were a  couple of damp spots at the center edge where the puree had been spread a little too thick, but I decided to cut those off, eat them immediately, and call the job done.

The USDA says a serving of vegetables is a half cup, so I cut the leather into quarters and rolled each into a log.  I slid a couple into a bag and set the bag with my food stash.  I'm pretty sure they won't make it back home.

Five years ago today: Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Who's Got The Pumpkin?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

You Are A Child Of The Universe

Has this ever happened to you?  A song gets overplayed on the radio and you get sick of it.  Years later when you hear it again it sounds fresh and new.



Five years ago today: Shower Me Clean

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mower Movement

For the past month we've been nursing our geriatric lawn mower along, hoping to make it to the end of the grass cutting season.  However, two weeks ago it bit the dust with almost a month of grass growing left.  Its timing couldn't have been worse.  The big box stores had gotten rid of most of their stock for the year, and we weren't inclined to spend the extra money to get one at a specialty store (even though the merchandise was probably better quality).

In the middle of the 'finding a new mower' project Hubby Tony coincidentally got a call from Son Tony.  After they'd chatted about this and that, Son Tony mentioned a friend of his who owns a lawn mowing business might have a used mower he'd be willing to sell us.  Son Tony was right.  Two days and one hundred dollars later we were the proud owners of a refurbished John Deere.

The mower has some quirks.  It has the equipment for an electric start, but a bum battery that would need to be replaced.  There's a weird side discharge chute that makes it hard to get close to things on the right-hand side. The biggest difference between it and our old mower, though, is the fact the new one is self-propelled.

The new system  took some getting used to.  This new mower has two levers- one on he right hand side that controls the drive mechanism, and one on the left that controls the speed (which ranges from 'rabbit' to 'tortoise'). It took me a while to figure out how fast I wanted to mow.  You also have to remember to release the forward lever when you turn a corner.  The first time I cut the grass I left a few divots in the yard until I got the hang of it.  The new mower is quite a bit heavier then the old mower, so the couple of spots in the yard that require backing up require more strength.

At the rate I'm going I suspect I'll have the mower's idiosyncrasies figured out right about the time grass season is finished for the year.

Five years ago today: Movie Night(s)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sometimes There's No Deep Meaning

Today I had a work assignment about 15 miles away from my house.  Since I was already going to be in the area, I scheduled a second one just a mile down the road from the first. 

One of the requirements of the second assignment was to take a photo of the building.  I did. then uploaded and submitted it to the company when I got home in the middle of the afternoon.  Fifteen minutes later they sent me a message that said the photo didn't meet the standards.  They wanted me to go back and re-take it within 24 hours.

At first I thought about telling them what they could do with their request, but then I reconsidered.  It wouldn't be very professional to bail on a job requirement, so I decided to suck it up and make the second trip.  The problem was that my schedule for tomorrow will take me in a different direction.  I'd have to complete the photo re-shoot tonight.  After dinner I waited for rush hour traffic to die down, then got back in the car for the second drive to the area in a day. 

Thanks to the change back to standard time it was dark, which didn't make me any happier.  I try to live my life by the motto 'everything happens for a reason', so as I drove along I tried to figure out why I was needing to make this trip.  Would I talk to someone I wouldn't have encountered otherwise, see something interesting, or hear something new and different on the radio?  However, I talked to no one (unless you could the choice words I sent towards an erratic driver-he couldn't hear me, so they probably didn't count).   There were no outstanding sights at all.  It was interesting, but not earth shattering, to hear the same song playing on two different radio preset stations at the same time.

After a 25-minute drive I got to the store, stood across the street, and took several photos.  I'm no expert, but I think my daytime photos were better.  However, I'm not the one setting the standards, so when I got home I sent the shots off through cyberspace to the company.  As I did it I realized this time there was no deep meaning to the evening's adventure.  The moral of the story is that I should have done it right the first time.

Five years ago today: Squishy Squash

Friday, October 30, 2015

Too Soon! Go Away!

The Major League Baseball post-season has been going on for almost a month. In that time we've had at least part of most of the games on. (Hubby Tony watches pretty intently.  Me, not so much).

During these games they tend recycle the same set of commercials over and over. Since early October I've seen the commercials for prescription drugs, cars, car insurance, and online fantasy sports way too many times.  Tonight was no exception. I was minding my own business, sitting on the couch in the family room playing with my laptop and halfway paying attention to the TV.  Until a new commercial demanded my attention. It was a holiday ad!

In my perfect world retailers wouldn't promote Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but I'm not in charge and they don't listen to me. However, there was something particularly annoying about seeing references to a winter holiday during a summer sport.

Five years ago today:  Corny

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy National Chocolate Day!

This morning the Internet told me that today (October 28th) was National Chocolate Day. NO WAY was I going to pass up celebrating this one!

After lunch I had some business in a mall that has a Godiva chocolate store. Because I'm a member of their Rewards Club I can get a free piece of chocolate every month.  I hadn't gotten my October benefit yet.

Coincidence?

Cookie dough truffle

Five years ago: Trick or Treat!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crazy Legs

Isn't this carrot cute?  This afternoon I pulled it out of vegetable drawer of the refrigerator:

I think it looks like the lower half of a person from the waist down with a short torso and two legs. When I saw it I immediately thought of Betsy. She often sees faces in her food.

Five years ago today: Time Is Running Out...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nooch Me

A couple of interesting recipes I've seen lately have called for nutritional yeast, which was a new-to-me ingredient. A little research showed me that nutritional yeast (or 'nooch') is used in a lot of vegetarian and vegan recipes.  It's a strain of yeast that's grown on a food source, then harvested, heated, dried, and crumbled into flakes or powder.  I also learned that nutritional yeast is high in protein and has a mildly nutty and cheesy flavor.  Two weeks ago when I was at my local Whole Foods I bought a small quantity from the bulk section to have on hand for when inspiration hit.

Today was that day.  I was busy with work projects and activities, and forgot to think about dinner until mid-afternoon.  When I opened the refrigerator to see what it held I realized I forgot to make a grocery and produce run yesterday.  The shelves were pretty bare other than a package of raw broccoli (about a pound's worth), a small handful of blanched cauliflower, a half of a red onion, and a couple of cups of leftover brown rice.  I suspected I could meld them together with some kind of sauce incorporating the nutritional yeast.  A Google search with those ingredients gave me my inspiration recipe for Broccoli and Cauliflower with Vegan 'Cheese' Sauce.  With the addition of the rice I was able to turn the side dish into a main dish casserole

I cut the broccoli (both florets and stems) into bite-sized pieces and cooked it in the microwave until crisp-tender, then threw in the cauliflower.  While the vegetables cooked I chopped the onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and sauteed them for five minutes, then added water, nutritional yeast, and spices and heated to boiling. (At the last minute I decided there wasn't enough sauce, so I doubled the water and nutritional yeast.)  The last step was to make a slurry of olive oil and flour and stir it into the pot to thicken the mixture.  I dumped the rice on top of the vegetables, added the sauce, and stirred it up until it was well mixed.  Put it into a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until everything was hot, and put it on the table.

There was no leftovers. I think the nutritional yeast was a hit.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Totally Random

Did you know that the sidebar on the main page of Wikipedia has a link that will take you to one of their 4,995,452 random articles? Tonight I wasted part of an evening spent some quality time learning facts about things that for the most part I didn't know existed. Some of the highlights:
  • High Mowing School is the oldest Waldorf high school in Canada or the United States, and the only Waldorf boarding school in the United States.
  • The Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science is based in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and has an international reputation in theoretical computer science, mathematical logic and category theory.
  • Chenaran, Nishapur is a village in Zeberkhan Rural District, Zeberkhan District, Nishapur County, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran. which had a population of 1,660 in 2006.
  • IchirĊ Terao served as the Chairman of the National Board of Governors of the Boy Scouts of Japan. He was was awarded the 174th Bronze Wolf for exceptional services to world Scouting in 1985.
  • Encelia virginensis a North American species of flowering plants in the daisy family known by the common name Virgin River brittlebush which is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico,
Five years ago today: See You Later, Alligator

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Taste Of Fall

For the past two weeks I've had two nice-sized Halloween pumpkins on the kitchen island. They look nice there, but this location is just temporary.  Because the front door faces west I can't put them on the porch yet.  If I do the afternoon sun will make them rot before Halloween.

Yesterday the high temperature was 84° and it still felt like summer. Overnight a cold front came through and the weather turned fall-like.  The blustery winds that blew dead leaves through a cloud-filled sky got me in the mood for pumpkin-cooked something, and I decided to sacrifice one of the pumpkins to the cause.  After cutting, seed scooping, roasting, rind removing, pulp processing, draining, and packaging the freezer now holds four full bags of pumpkin puree (plus another partial bag) as well as a container of pumpkin liquid.  There's also a plastic container of roasted pumpkin seeds in the pantry.

After all that work the pumpkin-cooked something will have to wait until later.

pumpkin puree
Five years ago today: Feature Attraction

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Way To Show You Care

Yesterday I got an email from a member of a church group which said that a young pregnant woman in the parish was having some problems and had been put on bed rest. The author of the message indicated she'd set up a calendar through CareCalendar to coordinate meals and other help for the family.

An 'online care calendar' was new to me, but it sounded like a good idea.  Years ago, the system was different.  If someone needed help one person was in charge of coordinating things.  She assigned the days, let everyone know who was bringing what (to make sure there was a variety of dishes), and followed up with a reminder to make sure the meal was going to be delivered.  It was a lot of work for the organizer

When I logged in with the ID number and password. the calendar showed the days meals were needed and the days that had already been taken (along with what that person was bringing).  All of the needed information was there-the family's address, phone number, dietary preferences, and what time they'd like the food delivered.  I noticed that no one had volunteered for today or tomorrow, so I called to see what the family's plans were.  The woman said she had a casserole in reserve her husband was going to reheat.  I told her I was making a pot of chili for my own dinner tonight; would she like me to bring some to her?  She said she would.

Since my food wasn't being eaten tonight.I could drop it off on my schedule.  While the chili was cooking I microwaved apple wedges with lemon juice and cinnamon.  When everything was ready I scooped some chili into an empty yogurt container, poured the apples into a plastic to-go container, then set both in a bag.  The family didn't live too far away from my house, so it only took seven minutes to make the delivery.

Five years ago today: Shine On

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fixing A Hole

Yesterday I started watering our newly-sowed grass seed and discovered the hose had sprung a leak.  I was on a tight time frame and didn't have time to stop everything and go to the store for a replacement (besides, it's a quality hose and.didn't just want to throw it away). However, the problem didn't go away by itself; as I moved the sprinkler around the yard I noticed there was more and more water coming from the leak.  After I finished the job and put everything away I changed my clothes and headed towards my local big box hardware location to see if they had anything that would fix the problem.

In the hose department they had several options, ranging in price from just under two dollars to just over ten.  As I stood there pondering the array, a store associate came up and asked if I needed help.  He was very helpful, telling me the cheapest plastic mender had been working in one of his hoses for four years.  Based on his recommendation I made my purchase.

The mending kit had three pieces-a black plastic tube that slid into the hose pieces and two clamps (one for either end of the tube) that held it in place. The repair steps sounded simple enough: cut out the damaged section, slide a clamp on each piece, shove the tube into the pieces as far as it would go, slide the clamps up until they were over the tube, and tighten them securely.

After lunch it was time for Operation Hose Repair.  I gathered my equipment--a pair of kitchen shears to cut the hose and a Phillips screwdriver.  Before I went outside I loosened the screws on both of the couplers, then put everything in a custard cup so it wouldn't get lost.  When I got outside  I turned the hose on to find the exact spot it was leaking, then marked it by setting the kitchen shears next to it while I turned the water back off.  The scariest part of the whole job was cutting into the hose, knowing that if I made a mistake I'd ruin it.  However, once that was done the rest was easy.  Son Donald was in the garage, and I pressed him into service to maneuver the hose on the tube the last little bit and hold it there until  I tightened the clamps

Once the job was finished I attached the hose to the sprinkler, crossed my fingers, and turned on the water. My repair worked!  There were no leaks.

finished product
Five years ago today: I'm So Excited

Friday, October 16, 2015

Next Year's Lawn Starts Now‎

It's been about five years since our yard has had professional care, and it shows. At least half of the green stuff is weeds of one sort or another. In an effort to improve the turf on our estate, last week  we had lawn renovation work done.

My original plan for the yard was far less complex. It was to have a load of compost delivered so Hubby Tony and I could spread it ourselves. We ran out of time and energy to do that, so I contacted our local composting company to get a list of lawn service companies they recommended. They gave me names, and I requested estimates from them.

When they came out to do the estimates, the company representatives were nice enough not to laugh at our scraggly yard. They did indicate that it needed a lot more than just a layer of compost. When one of them mentioned it could take years to get a nice looking lawn, (which could add a substantial amount to the price we could ask should we decided to put the house on the market) Tony and I decided to let them do core aeration and overseeding work and addition to the topdressing.

Two days before the work was scheduled I spent the day watering the very dry soil. The next day Tony mowed the grass short. When the lawn company came, their first step was to use the core aeration machine to relieve the soil compaction. Next, they top dressed the lawn. The last step was to spread seed over the entire area. Then they left. The rest of the work turf renovation work was on Tony and me.

For the grass to germinate it had to be kept moist. We did that by lightly sprinkling it twice a day. For the last week one of us has been out there in the late morning after the dew dried up, and again in the afternoon shortly before or right after dinner. Each sprinkling took about 40 minutes, but I found it very therapeutic.

Yesterday I noticed a few tiny green sprouts, and there were even more today. Now we'll be able to switch to a sprinkler and water less frequently, but a little deeper. If Mother Nature doesn't send us rain, we'll be keeping the job up until it gets too cold for grass to grow. It will still be a chore to move the sprinkler on a regular basis, but I bet before long even that task will be part of the schedule.

Five years ago today: Vegetation

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Operation Exercise

It's now been a couple of days shy of six weeks since I had a procedure to repair an abdominal hernia.  The procedure was easy, but the recuperation has taken longer than I anticipated.  Up until last week the incision still hurt after exertion, but this week I really feel like I've turned the corner.  In honor of that, today I went to the gym.

The weeks before my surgery were a flurry of activity as I got ready to be out of commission. With not enough time to do everything, exercise was the first thing to go.  My gym has a wide range of classes to choose from, but I decided that piyoga would be a good way to ease back into things.  The combination of yoga and Pilates movements were slow enough that I could do as much as I felt comfortable with and modify things as needed.  This morning I dug my membership card out of the depths of my purse and made sure my water bottle was in the car before I left the house.

Before the class started I told the instructor why I might modify a position (or even get up and leave if it ended up being too much).  I spread my mat out on the floor, attempted to sit cross legged on it, and I realized a lot of my flexibility was gone.  As soon as we started doing the first set of stretches some of the flexibility started coming back, which felt marvelous.

Not surprisingly, the hardest moves for me to do were ones that used my ab muscles.  When everyone else was doing a plank on their elbows and toes, mine was on my elbows and knees.  My down dog was as sick as a dog, and my boat looked like it was going to sink.  The back bend was non-existent, more just looking at the ceiling without bending back.

When I was done my abdomen was sore, but in a good way.  The muscles were telling me they'd received the message it was time for them to start shaping up again.  Depending on how I feel tomorrow, I may go back to the gym and take another class.  We'll see.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Field Trip To IKEA

Hubby Tony was off today for the Columbus Day holiday.  Since most people had to work, we decided it would be a good day to check out the new St. Louis IKEA that opened a couple of weeks ago.  Although we were wrong about the number of folks that had a vacation day (and the store was very busy) we still had fun.

When we arrived there were quite a few cars turning off the street into the parking lot, but there were people stationed along the road directing traffic to ensure that everything moved smoothly. From the parking lot we followed the crowd through the front door and up the escalator, where an associate was handing out store maps. Clutching our maps, we followed the signs and the arrows on the floor to make our way through the maze-like showroom, admiring the room displays (and trying to stay out of the way of all the other people who were doing the same thing).

At the end of the showroom area we stopped for a bathroom break. As we walked by the cafeteria we noticed the humongous lines of people waiting to get food and decided we were glad to have eaten lunch before we got there. We took the stairs down to the Marketplace and continued wandering, then scooted through the warehouse area.

Based on the crowded parking lot and the number of people in the store I had told Tony there was NO WAY we were going to buy anything today. However, when we got to the end and saw the checkout lines weren't too long we decided to go back and get a duvet cover we'd admired. Rather than completely backtracking we took one of the shortcuts to the textile department. Once we knew we were committed, we backtracked even further and picked up some sturdy-looking glass tumblers and a couple of do-dads, then returned to the checkout area.

The checkout line may have been relatively short, but the line for the cafe wasn't. We had spent about two hours in the store and were ready to leave, so we passed on the cinnamon rolls and followed yet another crowd to the exit. On the way out of the parking lot we decided our next trip could wait until the initial opening crowds had really died down.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Noah And The Next Ark

An oldie but goodie for your Sunday reading pleasure...
The Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in America, and said, "Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save 2 of every living thing along with a few good humans."

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark. "Noah!," He roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed."

"First I needed a Building Permit. I've also been arguing with the Boat Inspector about the need for a sprinkler system."

"My Homeowners Association claims that I've violated the neighborhood by-laws by building the Ark in my back yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the local Planning Committee for a decision."
"Then the City Council and the Electricity Company demanded a shed load of money for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear none of it."

"Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the Greater Spotted Barn Owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls - but no go!"

"When I started gathering the animals, PETA took me to court. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space."

"Then the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on Your proposed flood."

"I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my building crew."
"The Immigration Department is checking the visa status of most of the people who want to work. The labor unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only union workers with ark-building experience."

"To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species."

"So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this ark."

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean you're not going to destroy the world?"

"No," said the Lord. "The Government beat me to it."
Five years ago today: Safe Seat

Friday, October 9, 2015

Older Than I Look?

Today my job was to evaluate a Medicare plan sales presentation.  I won't be eligible myself until 2024.

When I asked Hubby Tony if he thought I looked old enough to blend in he said he didn't think so.  (Smart man!)  I haven't tried to look older than my age since the late 1970s, when the goal was to get into clubs, so I needed some advice.  A Google search for 'trying to look older' yielded millions of results.  I went four pages back and all but one of them targeted people in their teens and 20s.  Not exactly the demographic I was looking for.  Finally, in a post about fashion habits that make you look older, I learned that wearing ill-fitting clothes was one of the worst things you could do.   

This morning I dressed in a pair of baggy baggy elastic waist pants that have seen better days, a loose-fitting red polo shirt and comfort shoes.  It was chilly when I left the house, so I grabbed a light jacket (which just happened to be purple) and I decided with that color combination it would be OK if someone thought I was going to a Red Hat affair.

I worried all the way to the event that someone would 'out' me for being too young.  However, I had nothing to worry about.  As a matter of fact, the man sitting next to me wanted to ask me questions about the plan I currently had, so I fooled at least one person.

Five years ago today: The Long Climb

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Skeleton Car


I saw this car while I was out walking today. Do you think it's legal to drive with skeletons in your car?  Is the answer is different if they're wearing seat belts?

Five years ago today: By The Time I Get to Phoenix

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ten Minutes At A Time

Later this week we're having some lawn renovation work done. It hasn't rained for a couple of weeks, so the company asked us to give the grass a good watering ahead of time to make sure the soil was moist to make their soil preparation work easier and more effective. Our clay-heavy soil absorbs water slowly, so the plan was to run the sprinkler in each area about ten minutes, then repeat the whole procedure to make sure the water soaked in and didn't run down the sewer.

Hubby Tony is the main grass caretaker, but yesterday afternoon while he was at work I decided to get the watering job started. I found the fancy sprinkler on a shelf in the garage and attached it to the hose, then set it in a far corner of the back yard.  Once the sprinkler was in place I walked back to the faucet and turned it on. The result wasn't encouraging. Instead of oscillating gracefully from side to side, the sprinkler arm moved halfway, then got stuck. I tried moving the dials in different directions, but nothing worked.

Feeling frustrated, I sent Tony a text telling him he'd have to look at the sprinkler when he got home from work. He did, and moved all of the dials again, and got the same result. With the large sprinkler out of commission we changed over to a stationary sprinkler that Tony uses to water the smaller areas of the yard. It works well, but only covers an area about five feet by five feet. Our yard is about a third of an acre.

Last night I moved the sprinkler until it got too dark outside to see.  This morning I started the project about 7 AM, right after I came downstairs.  Except for the two hours I was out running errands I watered until the job was done at about 6 PM.  Thanks to all the sprinkler moving I had no problem getting my steps in today.

On his lunch hour Tony went to the hardware store and bought a sturdy metal oscillating sprinkler. We've tried it and figured out it will cover a much larger area. Good thing, because once grass seed is sown we'll have to keep it moist until it germinates.