Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Virtual Crayons

Some time back I decided I needed an adult coloring book app for my iPad. There were almost a dozen in the App store, so I randomly chose one (appropriately) called Adult Coloring Book to download. I'm sure all the other options are equally fun, but I'm happy with my choice.

Several nights a week I open up the app when I'm zoning out in front of the TV.  There are multiple books to choose from, and also a special Daily Design. The app is easy to use. You pick a color and then tap the shape to fill it in. There's an undo button if you don't like the results.  Another handy option is the ability to zoom in, which makes filling in very small shapes easy.

When the picture is finished you can add a texture or a frame.  There's an option to share your creation via text or email, and a gallery where you can see how other artists have colored their pictures.  The app itself is free, and comes with a set of what they call 'Essential Colors'. You can subscribe to unlimited access to all the books and the color palettes, but I didn't bother.  Every once in a while I'll open up the app and be surprised that they've thrown an additional set of  colors my way.

One of my latest masterpieces
Five years ago today: Hot In Herre

Friday, June 16, 2017

Frog Fear

The other day I was moving around the potted plants that summer on the deck.  The large container of ginger sits on plastic feet, which raise it about a half inch off the ground.  When I picked up the pot this guy was underneath:

The frog looked at me.  I looked at him, then I pulled out my camera.  He posed nicely while I took his portrait. The photo is deceptive; this little guy was only about an inch long.  I went on about my moving plants business and the next time I looked he was gone.

After I finished my work I came inside and posted the photo on Facebook.  One of my friends made a comment that if she had seen the frog she would have "freaked and dropped the pot, because (even though she doesn't mind snakes, spiders or bugs ) she was petrified of frogs".  I'd never heard of frog phobia, but I  know there's a name for everything.  It only took a couple of seconds for Google to tell me that a fear of frogs and toads is ranidaphobia.

Now we all know.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Thanks For The Help, But I'm Good

I decided not to plant a garden this year, but when I was buying my annuals one grape tomato plant jumped into the basket. I came home and put the small plant in a five-gallon bucket.  Now that the weather has heated up it's been growing nicely, and has a dozen small green fruits and many more flowers.

Originally I thought the plant was going to be a bush variety, but yesterday I noticed it was getting tall and gangly, which means it's an indeterminate type that will keep growing taller all season. I staked the stems, and briefly thought about removing the highest growing tips so the plant would bush out, but I was short on time.  This morning I noticed 'something' had done the topping for me!

Those stems used to be a lot longer

The damage was over three feet off the ground, but based on the nice clean cuts I suspected a rabbit. This isn't the first time Bugs has noshed on our plants, so I was ready. I pulled out a spray bottle of a natural garden pest control, which contains a lovely combination of putrescent egg solids, castor, garlic, and fish oils, and urea.  The mixture stinks to high heaven but does the trick.

I sprayed the mixture heavily to the leaves and stems. The smell will be undetectable to a human nose after several house, but the spray has an ingredient that allows it to stick to the plant surfaces.  That means that going forward, even if the smell doesn't deter the critter the taste will.

Five years ago today: Size Me Up!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Six-Tea Day

June 11 is always a big day for Hubby Tony, but this year it was extra special; the clock rolled over into a new decade for him.  When we woke up I asked Tony how he felt.  His reply was "At least a day older."

Two organizations that Tony belongs to both scheduled breakfast at the nearby American Legion post after Mass today.  Before we left church a 'little bird' told one of Tony's friends that it was his birthday.   During breakfast that person announced it to the entire room, who sang Happy Birthday to him. Then, for the next 45 minutes people took the opportunity to wish him a good day.

For a present I bought Tony tickets to a St. Louis Symphony concert entitled "Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and the Ladies of Swing".  The event started at 3:00, so after we fed the cats we got in the car and drove to Powell Hall.  We followed the stream of people into the beautiful hall and took our seats.  The concert was wonderful!  I think I enjoyed it as much or more than Tony did.

Earlier in the week I had told Tony to pick a restaurant to go to for dinner.  It looked like he had a great time researching options and finally making a choice.  After the concert we drove in that direction, got lost, then pulled up the information on Google and discovered the restaurant was closed on Sunday anyway.

We ended up at an Ethiopian restaurant in Grand Center, where we shared an appetizer of sambosas and  a vegetarian combo plate.  At the end of the meal, when the waitress came by and heard it was Tony's birthday, she announced, "We celebrate".  Several minutes later she returned carrying a piece of baklava drizzled with chocolate sauce, holding a single lit candle. When she reached the table she put the plate in front of Tony and we sang in his honor.

Tony's "card"

Five years ago today: Comments, Please

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Am I Blue?

The internet is filled with diversions. Today it told me What Is The True Color Of Your Personality?

Like every web-based  test I've taken this one had several 'pick which you like the best' questions.  After I told them everything they wanted to know, the answer came back that I belonged to the Blue color family.

Their explanation:
The color psychology quiz tells us that like those blue colors that you subconsciously most relate to, you're deep, comforting, emotional and naturally intuitive. You've always had a sixth sense or gut feeling that never leads you astray. Rely on your intuition; it will never fail you! But, you probably already know that. Others may perceive you as overly emotional, and you may even have a reputation for being a bit sensitive or touchy, but you actually just have an incredibly high emotional intelligence. You can be a bit melancholy at times, and you need time and space to recharge your emotional energies.
Were they right in their assessment?  I'd give them a 50%.  However, I really liked the photo that accompanied it!

Five years ago today: The Sights And Sounds of Nature

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Walking Is Just Slow Running, Right?

I learned from Shirley that today was Global Running Day.  The holiday was new to me, but according to the Global Running Day website, it is "a day for people around the world to celebrate the joys of running."  To participate, all you had to do is take part in some type of running activity.  Shirley changed up the requirements by substituting a nice brisk walk.  Reading her post, I realized that based on her standards I had celebrated too.

Today I had some jobs that took me to the Central West End, a beautiful old neighborhood that has a nice mix of restaurants, retail, and stately mansions dating back to the early 1900s. After I parked my car (at the parking garage of a historic hotel) I walked down the street, people watching and admiring the elegant clothes featured in the boutique windows I passed. The weather was beautiful--in the high 70s, with a sunny sky and low humidity.

In one of the stores I stopped to try on the most beautiful shirt I had ever seen.  It was pale striped rayon crepe with a high-low hem which hit me at just the right place in the front and the back.  The front had a half placket with delicate-looking buttons.  The back was gathered at the bottom of the yoke and draped just right.  The long sleeves were just right for rolling up or leaving down. The only downside was the cost...the shirt was definitely selling for a designer boutique price.  More than I've ever spent for an item of everyday clothing.

Of course the sales associate told me the shirt looked fantastic on me, and went out of her way to highlight all the ways I could wear it.  It could be dressy!  It could be casual!  It would look great with a tank under it when the weather got cool!  She threw so many suggestions at me that they started to make sense, and I decided to throw my budget to the wind and buy the shirt.  The sales associate followed me to the cash register, where she rung up my purchase, wrapped it in tissue paper secured with a fancy sticker, and placed it in a tote bag.  On my way out the door she said she was confident I would love the shirt.

As soon as I left the store I started regretting my purchase.   I spent twenty minutes walking up and down the tree-lined streets pondering what I should do.  On the one hand, the shirt was very versatile.  But did I really want to be seen wearing the same thing at every event?  For the money I had spent I could buy three or four nice non-designer shirts.  Eventually I took the shirt out of the bag to see it again, then lifted up the bottom hem to look at the care label (something I had neglected to do in the store) and learned that this shirt was Dry Clean Only. 

That sealed my decision.  I backtracked to the store, and told the sales associate I didn't want to be 'that woman' but I would be returning the purchase I had just made.  She was nice enough to say she understood, but I still felt bad.  The only positive on my end was the almost 7,500 steps I got.

Five years ago today: Funnies

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Old Shoe, New Shoe

Two summers ago I found a pair of New Balance flip flops at a discount shoe store. They had the best arch support of any summer shoes I've ever worn, and I slid them on whenever the weather was warm enough to go sockless.

This spring I noticed that the flip flops weren't as comfortable as they used to be. When I took a good look at them, I realized that the soles had deep foot indentations and the outside edges of the heels were showing a lot of wear.  It was time to find another pair.

I browsed at all the big box shoe stores around my house looked for  pair of comfortable flip flops or sandals, but couldn't find anything just right.  Last Friday I found myself within five miles of a dedicated New Balance store.  It was worth a slight detour to see if they had what I was looking for.

I walked into the store, briefly pursued their selection of warm-weather shoes, and selected a Renew Thong to try on.  Except for a couple of cosmetic differences they looked just like the ones I was replacing. The clerk brought out my size, along with a pair of sanitary socks.  I tried them on (a little difficult, because the socks didn't have a toe split), and ten minutes later I left the store with my new summer house shoes.

When I opened up the box at home I noticed a tag hanging from the right shoe strap that touted all the benefits of this style-good arch support, a flexible forefoot, heel cup, and gender specific foot bed.  The tag also said that since the foot bed fit like an orthotic there should be a break-in period. (It suggested two hours the first day, and then 1-2 additional hours each day.)  I figured that since I was used to the shoe I could ignore their suggestion.

I thought wrong.

I had greatly underestimated just how much the old pair had lost their support. At the end of two hours the both the ball and arch of my feet ached and I couldn't wait to take the new shoes off. But the instructions were spot on. Yesterday I wore the shoes all morning. Today the only time I took them off was when I put on shoes to go for a walk.  They were that comfortable

Based on my past experience, I'm looking forward to a long period of happy feet.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Good Concept, Bad Execution

I think that AMBER Alerts (the name is officially a acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) are a good thing. They allow authorities to quickly get the word out about child abductions. However, the methods for getting that word out could use a little tweaking.

The alerts are distributed through radio stations, TV stations, and some social media websites.  At the beginning of  2013, they also started being sent to cell phone users that have the capability of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts.  It's still all good, but the chosen alert method for cell phones is an extremely loud and blaring alarm.  It doesn't matter if you have the phone on Silent or Do Not Disturb; the sound still comes through.  The first time I heard it I was terrified.

In my area an AMBER alert is only issued once every few months.  The latest one happened in the middle of the night Tuesday, during the 2:00 hour. My phone was downstairs in the kitchen. The loud, piercing sound traveled down the hall, up the stairs, across another hall, and into the bedroom. I woke up in a panic when I heard it, but when I realized what it was I rolled over and went back to sleep. (The next morning I found out the alert had been issued for a possible abduction about a hundred miles to the southwest from my house. Fortunately, the girl was quickly found.)

In the past I've tried poking around on my phone to find a way to lower the alert volume, but I didn't have any luck. This time I decided to research the issue.  Sadly, I found out the alerts are all or nothing.  The only option is to disable the alert. 

After thinking about it for a while I decided that when future alerts are issued I'll hear about them through other channels, and turned off the AMBER alerts on my iPhone.  The process was simple.
  • Open Settings, then click on Notifications
  • Scroll all the way to the bottom to the Government Alerts section
  • Toggle the switch for AMBER Alerts OFF
I hope that sometime in the future they'll update the notification settings to make the alerts less strident.  If they did I would gladly turn them back on.