Monday, September 17, 2018

Go Away, Already!

Summer does not want to leave this year. Two weekends ago we had a cold front come through and I opened up all of the windows. The coolness lasted until the end of the week, when the increasing heat and humidity forced us to close the house up again and turn on the air conditioner.

Since then temperatures during the day are in the mid-90s Fahrenheit, and close to 100 if you factor in the humidity. (As a comparison, the average temperature at this time of year is 80 degrees.) The weather people are promising that there will be a break in the heat this weekend, with temperatures getting back to normal. I hope so.

The past few days I've been walking right after breakfast, while there's still a little coolness in the air.  Today I saw this fairy ring that popped up overnight in a neighbor's yard. 


Five years ago today: No Seedlings Wanted!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wanted: Cookies

Back in the spring you might remember that I helped Hubby Tony bake some cookies to donate to a prison retreat.

Tony was invited to serve on the team planning the next retreat, which will take place next month. Each team member is asked to provide 40 dozen homemade cookies to provide a "bottomless bowl" for the weekend, and I told him he could count on me to do some baking.

That's turned out to be easier said than done. The planning meetings take place on Saturdays, and they're an all day commitment. My plan was to bake each time Tony was gone. However, the first time I had an all day meeting of my own, and a family event on the second. Tony is headed back to the area today, but I had several things going on that would keep me from baking during the day.  So I changed my plan and baked a batch last night.

There are very specific requirements you have to follow. The cookies need to be about 2-1/2 inches in diameter and not more than 1/2 inch thick. They cannot have any type of fruit (like raisins), nuts, icing, sugar sprinkles, or any other type of coating on the outside. They have to be packed in a quart sized Zip-Lock bag, with one dozen cookies per bag, and be labeled with the cookie type inside.

Tony told me he had heard through the grapevine that there are always more than enough chocolate chip cookies, so I decided to make something else. He had give me a handout with several recommended recipes. I chose their version of sugar cookies, and after Rhonda of If you do stuff, stuff gets done posted about adding pumpkin pie spice to some cookies she baked I decided to follow suit.  (I think just about everyone is on the pumpkin spice bandwagon at this time of year.)

When I was done there were seven dozen cookies bagged and ready to go in the freezer.  That's a drop in the bucket for what Tony's supposed to provide, but there are two more formation meetings before the retreat actually happens. And, I don't have to do all of them myself. When they put the word out in the church bulletin a lot of people contribute.


Five years ago today: Apple Pear

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Middle Of The Month

One of the clues in today's crossword puzzle was "Mid-month date". Thanks to William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar I guessed that the answer was Ides (because of the events of the Ides of March). But the clue got me thinking....I didn't know that there was more than one Ides.  Wanting to know more, I turned to timeanddate.com, where I learned about the Calends, Nones, and Ides:
  • The Calends (Kalendae) were the first days of each month. The name is derived from the Greek word meaning to announce. It may have been used to “announce” the day of the New Moon, or the first sliver of the Waxing Crescent Moon.
  • The Ides (Idus) occurred one day before the middle of each month. Depending on the month's length, it fell on the 13th or 15th day. In the lunar calendar, the Ides marked the day of the Full Moon.
  • The Nones (Nonae) fell on the 7th day of 31-day months and on the 5th day of 29-day months, marking the day of the First Quarter Moon.
The whole system sounded confusing to me. I wonder if an ancient Roman were to be transplanted to today if our system of dates would be as baffling to her.

Five years ago today: Thanks For The Information

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Better Than An Exterminator

We get the occasional flying or creeping bug in the house, but they don't last long. Bug Catcher Jackson is always on the prowl for extra protein.

He finds any insect or arachnid incredibly fascinating, especially if they fly or jump around. He follows them around, hunts them down, and then usually eats them.  Now that he's 16 years old he doesn't move as fast as he used to, but as soon as a bug gets near to him they'd better watch out!

Relaxing...and strategizing
Five years ago today: May We Always Remember

Sunday, September 9, 2018

In Lieu Of

LouFest is a big music festival that's been happening in our area every fall since 2010. This year it was scheduled to take place on September 8 and 9. However, just a couple of days ago the event was cancelled. There was some finger pointing back and forth between the organizers and other entities, but in the end the reasons why it wasn't going to happen didn't really matter.

After the cancellation, several of the participants and vendors made their own events. The Wolf, a restaurant and coffee shop near our house organized a "Lieu-Fest" for today. Even though Hubby Tony and I hadn't planned on going to the festival, we decided the alternate event would be a good way to support the artists and vendors that were left in the lurch.

The Wolf
We arrived shortly after the doors opened. There was already music playing (on vinyl albums!) from some of the bands who had been scheduled to appear at the festival. Our plan was to eat dinner there, but since it was a bit early for food we ordered something to drink and found a seat.The restaurant normally closes at 2 pm on Sunday, so we knew that everyone who came in was there to support the cause.

We were there for a couple of hours. In that time no vendors showed up, but the restaurant kitchen had put together a great menu of  'festival food'--appetizers, tacos, brats, and sliders, along with fries, chips, and a cold vegetable salad. We ordered several dishes and shared them half and half. After we ate we sat around for a while and listened to more music before we decided it was time for us to go.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Secret Ingredient Is.....

This morning I got ready to make some baked beans to take to a pot luck event and discovered I was out of both ketchup and BBQ sauce. However, I remembered that a while back the Asian market was running a sale on something called "Banana Sauce". Wikipedia had told me that "Banana ketchup or banana sauce is a popular Philippine fruit ketchup condiment made from mashed banana, sugar, vinegar, and spices".  Being a sucker for new food products, I decided to give it a try, but since we don't use a lot of ketchup around here the bottle was still unopened.  I wondered how the sauce would work in my dish.
As it turns out, it worked just fine.

Banana sauce is sweeter and spicier than conventional ketchup, so I was able to omit some of the ingredients I would usually use in baked beans. To make the dish I used three types of beans (Great Northern, pinto, and black, all cooked from dry and stored in the freezer). I chopped a half of onion, half of a green pepper, and several cloves of garlic, then sauteed the vegetables and dumped them to a large bowl along with the drained beans. Next I added back the Great Northern liquid, plenty of banana sauce, and some salt and pepper, then baked it at 325 degrees for 90 minutes.

At the end of the afternoon there were only a couple of spoonfuls of beans left in the bowl, so I wasn't the only one who enjoyed the dish. Now there's a half bottle of banana sauce in the refrigerator, and next weekend I have another potluck luncheon to go to. There will be no overlapping of attendees, so no one would know if I repeated the dish.  Sounds like a plan to me!

Five years ago today: Choose Me!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Wow! Day

I'm fortunate that I get to set my own schedule, and I usually don't cram too much into any one day. However, the past two days have been a crazy busy. I had two ambitious jobs to do-between commuting, performing, and reporting each took about five hours. And then of course there were all of the normal activities that had to get done. (Laundry! Meals! Yard work!) And to top it off I had a meeting both nights after dinner.

When I went to bed last night I still had some paperwork that needed to be finished and turned in. A half hour before the alarm went off I woke up, then tossed and turned for ten minutes before deciding to get up and start my day. Fortunately the paperwork didn't take as long as I thought it would, and after wading though dozens of emails I was free!

I felt like a huge boulder had been lifted from my shoulders, because now I could do anything I wanted to. I went to the gym,  came home and took a nice long shower, then put on knock around clothes. Instead of using my blow dryer to try to beat my cowlicks into submission I let my hair dry naturally. I wasn't planning on going anywhere, so no one would see what I looked like.

All afternoon in between catching up on blogs and other fun computer stuff I cooked, baked, and cooked some more. All stuff I wanted to do. I drank my afternoon coffee slowly, and took as much time as I wanted on the newspaper puzzle page and didn't feel guilty about it. I cleaned up the messes I made today as well as the ones that had been there for a while.

All too soon the day was at an end and my free time was over. Tomorrow is like most days--full of activities and commitments. You can bet I'll be on the lookout for another clear one.

Five years ago today: If You're So Inclined...

Monday, September 3, 2018

Emoji Fun

From a friend of mine. Can you pick the set of emojis that matches each Broadway song? Scroll down to see the answers.






Answers:
  2.  The Next Ten Minutes
15.  The Music of the Night
11.  Footloose
  5.  Seasons of Love
  6.  Heaven on Their Minds
  7.  On the Street Where You Live
  9.  My Favorite Things
  4.  A House is Not a Home
  8.  Do You Hear the People Sing?
10.  I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair
13.  Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm
  3.  You Can't Stop the Beat
  1.  If I Were a Rich Man
14.  Ol' Man River
12.  And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going

Five years ago today: The Bowels Of The Mall

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Downtown Fun

Last night Hubby Tony and I went to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.  It was a great time; the Cards beat up on the Cincinnati Reds, winning 12-5.  Tony had purchased tickets that included Cards Cash, which meant that we each had ten dollars loaded onto the ticket to spend in the stadium.  Instead of packing all of our game snacks  like we usually do, we got some things from the concession stand.

We left the house right after Tony got home from work.  There wasn't much traffic on the road, and we got downtown two hours before the first pitch. After eating dinner, we still had an hour to kill. We decided to walk over to the Gateway Arch and see what was new there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There's a lot. Back in 1967 when the Gateway Arch opened, it was removed from the rest of the downtown area. To get there you had to use one of several surface streets that went over the depressed lanes of Interstate. (See on the left side of the photo-the highway is running north to south on the left, and there are four ways to get over it to easily get to the Arch grounds):

Built St Louis
As long as I can remember different solutions to the problem were floating around. The area eventually passed a tax increase, formed a public-private partnership and got to work on updates. Four years ago the area became a construction zone. The visitor center closed two years after that.

Now there's a cap over the highway to make it much easier to get to the area. They built a promenade along the Mississippi River on the east side of the park. The visitor center has been expanded and updated.  It used to be completely under the monument, and you entered it through doors under the Arch legs. Now those doors are for exits only. The much larger entrance is now to the west of the monument.

Gateway Arch National Park new entrance
The new visitor center has been open for a little over a month, but last night all we had time to do is walk by it. Going inside will have to wait for another trip.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Chain Of Foods

Saturday night Hubby Tony and I had carry out Chinese for dinner. He brought home Hot and Sour Soup (accompanied by fried won ton strips), Chicken with Chinese Vegetables, Broccoli with Garlic Sauce, a container of white rice, and three fortune cookies. We ate about 2/3 of everything except for the rice, which we barely made a dent in.

Sunday is Tony's night to put dinner together.  He knew he was going to start with the previous night's leftovers, and add something else to make a whole meal. When I bought home baby bok choy and Japanese eggplant from the Asian market he decided to incorporate the latter ingredient.  He cut the eggplant into cubes and baked it, then added half to the combined carry out leftovers. Next he mixed in a little leftover brown rice and some restaurant white rice and heated everything up in the microwave. When it was done Tony ladled the dish into large bowls and put them on the table, along with packets of hot mustard and sweet and sour sauce.  The tasty dish was a cross between a thick soup and a juicy stew, and it was delicious.  As he was cleaning up Tony put the rest of the eggplant into the refrigerator.

Monday's dinner was a stir fry with the rest of the eggplant, half of the boy choy, half of a container of white beans from the freezer, onion and garlic, and some fresh basil leaves. It had a sauce made from rice vinegar, oyster sauce, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, and sesame oil.  The dish was served over leftover white rice (which almost, but not quite, used up the container).

Today I used up the remainder of the bok choy and white beans by adding them to a curry sauce, along with sweet potato, onion, garlic, and a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter.  Since there wasn't much Chinese white rice left I made brown rice in the Instant Pot and used some of that, too. The end dish was runny enough to serve in bowls.

Now, after three days of imaginatively using leftovers and ingredients, it's all gone.The refrigerator is looking a little empty, and my creativity has come to a screeching halt. I have no idea what tomorrow's dinner will be, but based on past experience something will come to me. 

Five years ago today: The Cats Weren't Too Wild About The Idea...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Dog's Story

In honor of National Dog Day.

A old German Shepherd starts chasing rabbits and before long discovers that he's lost. Wandering about he notices a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The old German Shepherd thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in trouble now!"

Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the panther is about to leap the old German Shepherd exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious panther! I wonder if there are any more around here?" Hearing this, the young panther halts his attack in mid-strike. A look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!" says the panther, "That was close! That old German Shepherd nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther.

The squirrel soon catches up with the panther, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the panther. The young panther is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here squirrel, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old German Shepherd sees the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?" Instead of running the dog sits down with his back to his attackers pretending he hasn't seen them. Just when they are close enough to hear the old German Shepard says, "Where's that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!"

The moral of the story is:

Don't mess with the old dogs. Age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery. BS and brilliance only come with age and experience.

Five years ago today: Buggy

Friday, August 24, 2018

I Hope They're Wrong, But I'm Not Holding My Breath

All this week the temperatures here have been below normal, but if the weather gurus are right, it looks like things will be changing big time tomorrow:

Weather Underground
I'm not a fan of hot weather, so I'm not excited about the change at all. Today was more my cup of tea; it felt more like early October. The windows were open and I was able to enjoy all the sounds of nature. After I completed my morning commitments I came home to cook and bake. It was gloomy, with a gentle sporadic rain. As the afternoon went on the sun tried to break through a couple of times. By dinner time there was more sun than clouds, and the evening was bright and beautiful.  Hubby Tony and I took a long walk after the kitchen was clean to take advantage of the nice conditions.

The Weather Service already issued a heat advisory from noon tomorrow through Tuesday night. That means we'll hermetically seal up the house again, and the sound of nature will be replaced with the hum of the air conditioner as it works to cool off the house. And I'll be counting the days until fall really comes back.

Five years ago today: What If...

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Removed Root

Three weeks ago a trip to the dentist revealed a crack in my wisdom tooth. After putting in a temporary filling the dentist sent me on my way with instructions to come back two weeks later to make it permanent. However, during that visit he discovered that the damage was more extensive than originally thought. During the drilling process the tooth root was exposed. He told me my best option was to have a root canal, which they could cover with a crown.

Once back at home I called the recommended endodontist for an appointment. I have great teeth and rarely ever need anything other than checkups and cleanings, so seeing a specialist was new territory for me. Fortunately there was an opening six days later and (even though it was at 8 AM, and I'd have to drive through rush hour to get there) I took it.

For the past week my tooth was uncomfortable, but unless I forgot and chewed something on that side there wasn't too much pain.

Today was Root Canal day. The building was easy to find on the second floor of a small strip mall I've driven by many times over the years. The office was very efficiently run. I only had to sit in the waiting room for a couple of minutes until they called me back. Before I saw the endodontist his assistant took an x-ray of the tooth. Once the endodontist came in he administered the Novocaine and explained exactly what would happen today.

After my lip, chin, and tongue were numb he came and gave me a second shot, explaining that wisdom teeth needed additional numbing. He leaned me back in the chair, arranged his tools, and stuck a dental dam in my mouth to isolate the tooth. His assistant stood on the other side of the chair. Before he started the endodontist told me to keep my eyes closed while he was drilling and raise my left hand if I felt any pain. Then the fun began.

I felt vibrations from the drill, and pressure when he used a file to pick out the smaller pieces, but not much else. The assistant was in charge of irrigating the tooth and sucking out the excess liquid. I wasn't keeping track of the time, but it didn't take too long before I felt him packing something into the tooth.  He asked me to bite down, smoothed everything one more time, and said we were done.

The endodontist left, and the assistant did one last x-ray to check that everything was done correctly before she released me. After a quick stop at the front desk to do the paperwork I left. On the way home I stopped at the pharmacy and filled the prescription I had been given for heavy duty ibuprofin. While I was talking to the pharmacy technician I felt like I was slurring my words, because I couldn't move my tongue properly.

Thee hours later I was hungry for lunch but the left side of my mouth was still completely numb. I made a smoothie in  the blender, then (after I discovered I couldn't drink it without dribbling because my lips were too numb) rooted around the kitchen for a straw to suck it up with.  Good thing there was no one else in the house to watch me!

 As the anesthesia wore off I realized that my tooth didn't ache any more, but the muscles where the drug was injected did. The whole left side of my face felt sore, like I had been punched there.  Chewing my food during dinner and talking with Hubby Tony seemed to loosen up the area, but it's still tender when I open my mouth too wide.  Google tells me everything should be back to normal in a couple of days. I hope it's right.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Yard Work Fun

Hubby Tony had a dinner meeting tonight. On my way home from a job I stopped and bought myself some fast casual Mexican. I brought it home and ate in front of the computer, finished some paperwork, then decided to go outside and do some yard work. It was less then sweltering outside, and trash day is tomorrow so any green waste I made would get picked up.

We had some rain overnight, and I decided to ditch my shoes and do my work barefoot. It felt so good to walk on the pliable turf. I started out by picking up branches and digging a few weeds out of the back yard flower beds. After the weeding was done I moved on to trimming and edging in the front yard. Halfway through the job I heard a rumble of thunder in the distance and picked up the pace, hoping to get done before the rain started. That didn't work. When the drops started coming down I quickly picked up the grass clippings I had made and dumped them in the trash can just as the rain started coming down in sheets.

The storm only lasted ten minutes, and I decided to go back out and finish my job. Even though there hadn't been a lot of rain the yard was now saturated. I started out trying to keep my feet clean, but after I accidentally stepped in a large blob of mud in the middle of the sidewalk I gave up.  Soon my feet were covered with mud and grass clippings.  It was wonderful.

My last task was to deadhead flowers and cut back some leggy annuals in front of the house. When I lifted up a clump of lamb's ear leaves an old friend hopped out from underneath:

Actually a photo from last year. He was too busy tonight to say 'Hi'
(The past few years there has been a lot of frog activity around my estate.  Read more about it here, here, here, and here).

My hands were dirty and I couldn't pull out my phone for a photo. The frog scooted underneath a bush and I quickly lost sight of him. Ten minutes later I finished the last of the yard tasks. I put everything away and washed off my dirty feet before I went into the house.

Five years ago today: If You Can't Trust A Nun, Who Can You Trust?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Good Stuff

This week has been extremely busy, but a lot of good things have happened around our place.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday night I came home from a meeting and noticed that the main level of the house seemed hot. Hubby Tony verified my suspicions when he walked in an hour later. I checked the thermostat, and the room temperature was five degrees hotter than it should be. About that time I noticed there was a buzzing noise coming from the south wall of the family room. When I walked outside to investigate I discovered that the one of the air conditioning units was very noisy. Because it was going to be relatively cool overnight we turned off both units and opened up the windows.

I called the HVAC company as soon as they opened at eight o'clock on Tuesday morning and explained that we needed someone to come take a look at the unit. Because we have a service contract with them we go to the top of the list, and the technician was knocking on my door 45 minutes later. Fifteen minutes after that he told me our issue was a faulty capacitor. The failed part had been replaced at the last service and was still under warranty. Our cost for continued house coolness was only $70 for the service call.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Wednesday morning Hubby Tony called me to say he had noticed some car issues as he left the house. He stopped at the repair shop and described the symptoms. They said they could work him in, and the shuttle service gave him a ride to work. Some time later they called to tell him he just needed a new battery. The car was ready at lunchtime, but I picked Tony up at the end of the work day and dropped him off at the repair shop to pick the car up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


After Tony got home we got ready for the next adventure. Jackson and Pepper, our 16-year old cats, had an appointment at the vet for their annual physical and rabies shots. For many years I did the job by myself because Tony's schedule wasn't flexible, but it's really nice to have help wrangling two uncooperative cats into carriers, getting them into the car, and then from the car into the office.  In the examination room they were weighed, poked, prodded, and stuck with needles.  The vet proclaimed each of them healthy and said she hoped she didn't see us until next August.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
I'm part of a group planning a dinner at church tomorrow night.  My job is to quarterback setting up the room, including some simple centerpieces for eight round tables. (And I only have a tiny budget.) Tonight I went to the nearest big box hardware stores to look for plants that might be on clearance.  Everything on the sale table was too big, bloomed out, or just decrepit looking. I went up to the cashier to ask her about the chances of a new group of plants being marked down tomorrow. She told me she had some flexibility in the price, and suggested I pick something out and bring it up to the cash register. She would see what she could do.  

I found some nice looking Sempervivum. The  4 inch pots were marked $3.48, but the cashier gave me ten of them for a dollar each.  I may or may not cover the pots, then will set each on a cloth napkin (from my personal stash) in the center of of each table.

Five years ago today: A Perfect Friday Afternoon

Monday, August 13, 2018

Calendar Fun

According to TimeAndDate.com a Palindrome Day happens when the date can be read the same way backwards and forwards.  Did you know that we're in the middle of a ten day stretch (from August 10 - August 19, 2018) that when you write dates in the m-dd-yy format all of them will be palindromic?

8-10-18                8-11-18

8-12-18                8-13-18

8-14-18                8-15-18

8-16-18                8-17-18

8-18-18                8-19-18

Five years ago today: The Sad Thing Is, I Think He's Seriously Happy

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Gettin' Our Kicks

This summer Son Donald had a job in Rolla working for the university, so we didn't get to see him much. In one week the new semester starts and he'll get busy with class work. So before that happens  Hubby Tony and I decided to take a road trip to see him. While we were in the area, we also made a visit to the self-proclaimed "Entertainment Hub of the Ozarks" in Uranus, just a half hour further down the Interstate.

Uranus, MO
Uranus is not an official city.  Rather, it's a Route 66 tourist attraction that's known for the Uranus Fudge Factory And General Store. There's also a playground, food truck park, bar and grill, tattoo parlor, axe-throwing room, outdoor outfitter, shooting range, escape room, and sideshow museum. Throw in some dinosaur statues, a vintage taxi, firetruck, and double decker bus, the largest belt buckle in the world, and multiple photo opportunities, and it sounded like a fun place to check out.

Rolla is about 100 miles from our house, and we got there late morning. Donald is moving into a new room in his house, so before we got on the road again we helped him switch over his furniture and belongings to his new digs. All along Interstate 44 we saw the billboards, which said things like “We are having big fun in Uranus”, “Family fun in Uranus”, and “The best fudge is found in Uranus!”  (Can you tell that the whole concept is based on puns and tongue in cheek humor?)

When we entered the general store the clerk behind the counter yelled out a cheerful “Thank you for picking Uranus!” We browsed around, checking out the clothes with punny riffs on the store name and the general Route 66 merchandise. Behind the counter there were 16 kinds of homemade fudge, and baskets on shelves held hundreds of different types of candy. I got a sample of fudge (which was very good) but there were a lot of people in line at the cash register so I decided not to buy any. When we left the clerk yelled out "thank you for picking Uranus".

Continuing down the strip of shops, we stopped outside the World’s Largest Sideshow Museum where a man was holding a huge albino snake. He was a really good salesman, because he convinced us to pay the admission to go inside the museum. After being warned not to take any photos inside, we entered through the door into a dimly-lit room. I didn't know what to expect, but the displays were pretty interesting in a kitschy sort of way, with lots of animal and human oddities. After a while a tattooed lady (who had arms and legs covered in leopard print tattoos, with even a few spots on her face) offered a couple of magic tricks and did some sword swallowing.  As we left the museum there was another shopping opportunity, but we passed.  After walking by some of the other attractions, it was time for lunch back in Rolla, at a Thai restaurant close to Donald's house.

After lunch was finished we took Donald back home, wished him good luck in the new semester, and started back home. It was a great way to spend a late summer day.

Five years ago today: Do You Copy?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thanks, But I'll Pass

One of the companies I'm registered to do work with sent me an email letting me know that they've expanded their payment methods. The default is still PayPal, but if I chose, I could get paid in one of several cryptocurrencies...Bitcoin, Bitcoin cash, Ethereum, or Litecoin.



I wonder just how many people will take them up on their offer?

(I have no interest in alternate tenders, but before I hit the 'Delete' button I did some investigation, and discovered that according to Wikipedia, as of 10 April 2018 there are more than 1565 different cryptocurrencies! Bitcoin was the first, released in 2009, but now there are about three dozen large ones. That's a lot of alternative.)

Five years ago today: Classic Country

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Doing My Civic Duty

Today was our state's primary election day. In addition to paring down the field of candidates before the general election in November, there was one statewide proposition and several county charter amendments to vote on.

Two weeks ago Hubby Tony and I both received a tri-fold sheet sent out by the Board of Election Commissioners that included our polling information and sample ballots for the Democrat, Republic, Green, Libertarian, and Constitution parties. That made it easy to research all the candidates. I don't have a party affiliation, but in order to vote for any candidate I have to choose one for the primary. After researching all the options I went into the polling place knowing what the answer would be when they asked what ballot I wanted.

All morning long I saw the photos of my Facebook friends showing off their “I Voted” sticker selfies. I'm not sure when it became obligatory to get a sticker for casting a ballot, but I'm not a fan. Half of the time I forget to take the sticker off before tossing my shirt in the laundry and it ends up turning into a adhesive-removing project.

I went to the poll after lunch, and there was no line.  When it was time to cast my ballot an election authority walked with me to a booth, activated the touch screen, and verified that the correct form had loaded. Because I had done legwork ahead of time it didn't take me long to express my opinion for each of the people and items.

As I walked away from the voting booth a poll worker was standing there holding out a sticker for me. At first I declined, but when she looked disappointed I changed my mind and took it.  Hopefully the colorful red, white, and blue decal will catch my eye when I take off my shirt to change into my pajamas at the end of the night.


Five years ago today: Day Tripping

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Here's To Smiles

Last month I got a copy of Richard Carlson's classic book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff--and it’s all Small Stuff from a Little Free Library. The book was written in 1997. I read it back then, and now I'm enjoying revisiting the book's insights on the meaning of life and putting challenges in perspective.

Every once in a while I leaf through the book and choose one of the 100 short chapters to meditate on. This week I was focusing on Number 25 - "Smile at Strangers, Look into Their Eyes, and Say Hello", and I was able to put it into practice this evening. I was out for a walk and saw what I assumed was a family group of a mother, father, and adult son in an electric wheelchair walking towards me on the opposite side of the street. I could hear them talking, and it sounded like they weren't sure where they were going. In one more block I needed to be on their side of the street anyway, so I crossed early, smiled and greeted them, and asked if they needed some help.

They thanked me but said they were just trying to figure out which house a friend of theirs lived in. Since I couldn't help them I smiled again and went on my way. The little gesture only took ten seconds, but it made me (and I hope them) feel good.

Five years ago today: Getaway

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Red Bud Woes

On Tuesday the forecast called for scattered showers, so I wasn't surprised when it started sprinkling as I was driving home from the dentist. I pulled into the garage just as the sprinkles turned into a steady rain. By the time I got inside and took my shoes off the steady rain turned into a hard rain. Five minutes after that it was a deluge. When I looked out into the back yard there was a deep puddle next to the compost bin and a large stream of water running across the grass to the sewer.

The storm lasted about ten minutes. Halfway through the inundation I was in the kitchen when I heard a loud 'crack' and felt something hit the house. After the rain slowed down I went outside and found out that one of the trunks of the large red bud tree next to the deck had fallen over.

Oh no!
Fortunately, the only damage it did was crack a plastic vent cover, which can be easily replaced. However, when I took a close look at the trunk I realized that one of the other major pieces was loose in the ground.

This doesn't look good
That night I called a tree service we'd used before and left a message. The office returned my call yesterday morning while I was pulling into the parking lot of my first errand for the day. The office manager told me they'd just had a cancellation. Could the crew stop by in an hour of so?

I completed my first errand and returned home. The hour was actually closer to two, and I had places to be, but when the crew arrived they quickly removed both the broken trunk and the loose one. They also took care of a branch in the tree crown that was rubbing against the deck.

Trunk and a stump
The arborist told me red buds only live 20-25 years, so if I want something to continue shading my deck in the future I might want to think about planting a replacement tree now so it would be a good size before the rest of the red bud succumbed to old age.

Lots of room for the remaining branches to grow now!
Five years ago today: Overheard After Dinner Tonight...

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Real Pain In The Tooth

For the past couple of weeks I've had an intermittent mild pain in one of my lower left teeth. Over the weekend it became a slightly more intense intermittent pain. Yesterday I called the dentist, and later in the day went in for a visit.

In the waiting room I realized that at that moment my tooth didn't hurt anymore, but was afraid of what would happen if I didn't follow through with the appointment. Once I was seated in the exam chair I did my best to describe my symptoms. The dental assistant did an x-ray, which showed there was no sign of infection. She called in the dentist, who poked around my mouth until he found the sore spot. He couldn't see any damage, but after the assistant took a photo she discovered a small crack in my wisdom tooth. The dentist didn't have time in his schedule to do an immediate filling, and since I wasn't in extreme pain the assistant suggested I come back today.

A little less than 24 hours after the first visit I was back in the exam chair. The assistant swabbed my cheek with a topical anesthetic, the dentist injected the real thing, then we all waited for it to take effect. The dentist came in and drilled away, told the assistant to prepare a temporary filling, and left.

The assistant explained that the dentist wanted to make sure the tooth hadn't been compromised.  He wanted to wait a couple of weeks to make sure the pain was completely gone before he completed the work. The assistant told me today's filling contained oil of cloves, which had some antiseptic properties, and I might be tasting the spice for a couple of hours. (I did.  It made me crave pumpkin pie.)

Ten minutes later the filling job was finished, and after a stop at the payment desk I was on my way.  I get to go back in two weeks for either a permanent filling or, if the pain hasn't gone away, more extensive work (aka a root canal). Of course, I'm 'rooting' for the first option.

Five years ago today: If You fill It Will They Come?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ahead Of Time Anniversary

Next Thursday Hubby Tony and I will have been married 38 years.   Because it's hard for us to celebrate middle of the week milestones, we designated this weekend as the substitute.  And what a weekend it was!

Last night after dinner we went out and helped each other pick out presents. I got the new travel purse I wanted, and Tony selected a new journal and a brimmed hat for wearing in the sun. We ended the night walking along a trail in downtown St. Charles.

Today we spent some time in Alton, just over the river in Illinois, running errands, checking out the farmer's market, and eating lunch at The Old Bakery Beer Company, a craft brewery housed in a converted Colonial Bread plant. I had a Vegetarian Reuben (with juicy tomatoes substituting for the traditional pastrami). Tony chose a Caesar Wrap with chickpeas. We split and shared both dishes equally.

From there we drove back across the Mississippi River and through a naturalized floodplain area (the last ten minutes down a gravel road) to the Edward "Ted" and Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park where the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers come together and Lewis and Clark began their expedition. We left the car in the parking lot and walked the last half mile to the confluence itself. 

Mississippi on the left, Missouri on the right
The point itself is pretty wild-looking, and it looked like a flood had washed away some of the hardscaping, but the sweeping expanse of water in front of us was certainly inspiring. After admiring things Tony and I walked back to the parking lot, then backtracked to the main road.

We headed south, then turned west towards Florissant, a St. Louis suburb very close to where I grew up. Before we reached the small historical area of the city (settled in the late 1700s) we compared the current storefronts and buildings with what was there back in the day. Eventually we reached the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, the oldest Catholic Church building in the Louisiana Purchase Territory where St. Rose Philippine Duchesne lived for many years. Although the shrine was closed we walked around the park next to it.  Our next to last stop was for mass at the church where we were married. After church we walked around the corner to Hendel's Restaurant. The building had been a general store and grocery for more than 100 years before being turned into an eating establishment.

This time I had a stuffed portobello. The grilled mushroom was stuffed with roasted vegetables and topped with mozzarella and a balsamic glaze. Tony had a huge pork chop, which was topped with blue cheese crumbles and crispy tobacco onions.  Once again we split and shared both dishes equally. Marriage has its privileges.

Portobello with smashed potatoes and cauliflower

Five years ago today: It Was Twenty Years Ago...But Seems Like Just Yesterday

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Convertable

You may have heard me talk about one of my volunteer jobs, which is putting together a weekly slide show of upcoming activities for electronic monitors at my church. Each week I look at the bulletin and select six different events to showcase. If it's an event I don't already have a slide for I choose a background or border, add some text and maybe some clip art, and call it done.

Occasionally someone will send me an email with information they want added. The attachment is usually the size of a standard piece of paper, and I've learned that those are much too small and low resolution to show up on the 40 inch screens.  I've had no formal training for this job and don't know a whole lot about changing resolutions, so I have to go back to the person and tell them I can't help them unless they make some changes on their end.

Sometimes the file I get will be in a format the screen (a smart TV) won't recognize. I've learned how to fix many of those, but today I got an email that had a PDF attached. I was able to open it, but no matter how many times I left and right clicked on the page and program icons I couldn't figure out a way to change the file type to the JPEG I needed.

I decided to take the problem to Google, asking if there was a way to convert the two types of files. Would you be surprised if I told you there is? The first result of my search was PDF2JPG.net, which touted that it was a free online service that would easily turn the first type of file into the second.

After uploading my PDF it only took a minute to change it to my monitor-friendly file. I downloaded the result back to my computer, then resized it with Paint and had a nice-looking advertisement for a charity golf tournament.  As a bonus, the website told me that they participate in the Plant a Billion Trees program sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, planting a tree for every 5,000 converted PDFs. They had already contributed 20553 trees, and I did my part to help them plant one more.

Five years ago today: I Love Happy Endings

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Tale Of Three Pits

The last batch of avocados I bought looked completely similar on the outside. Once they were cut open, however, a big difference was revealed:

small, medium, large
Look at the difference in the size of the avocado pits!

Before I mashed all of the avocados into guacamole I took a tiny sample from each of the fruits. Each tasted wonderful; there was no correlation between pit size and taste.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Worth the Drive

Hubby Tony has been gone this weekend. He left after work on Thursday, and will return after lunch today.

While he's away I've been having fun. I treated myself to a couple of meals out, and at home I've snacked way more than usual. Friday night I joined some friends for a movie under the stars at the Art Museum. (After the movie was over traffic was gridlocked and it took a very long time to get home, but it was still a good time.) For variety, I attended Mass at the parish just to the west of ours.

The highlight of the weekend, though, was yesterday. You may remember that Tony and I are vinegar devotees. Our last bottle of good balsamic was down to dregs, so I decided a restocking trip to the Olive Oil Marketplace would be a fun way to spend part of a day. The store has two locations. Both are in Illinois-one in Alton at the northern end of the metropolitan area, and one in Belleville, almost directly across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis. Google told me from my house they were within a couple of miles of each other. I was leaning towards going to Belleville because I had never seen their downtown area, but yesterday when I ended up finding an work assignment to do in that area my decision became a no-brainer.

After breakfast I made a lunch for myself, said goodbye to the cats, and got in the car.  My first stop was about 35 miles from my house via the Jefferson Barracks Bridge over the Mississippi River. After my work was finished it only took ten minutes to drive to the Belleville public square area and find a place to park.

In the store I sampled several different vinegars before settling on garlic balsamic, which will be great on salads. From the discount rack I also chose a small bottle of green apple balsamic. After I put the vinegar in the car I explored the rest of Main Street, which stretches four blocks east and four blocks west of the public square and fountain. There were antique stores, clothes boutiques, a large variety store, art studios, a movie theater, restaurants, a school, and places to buy snacks and coffee.  Things were pretty quiet at 10:30 on a Saturday morning. In one of the stores I learned that there would be a big Downtown Sidewalk Sale next weekend, and the associate invited me to come back for that.

After I investigated the area I got in my car to head home, backtracking along the same route. Just before the interstate curved to the right to head back to Missouri I saw a sign that said if I stayed to the left it would take me to the Main Street area of Columbia, Illinois. The car stayed to the left. Why not?

Columbia's Main Street area was several miles off of the highway. Most of it was clumped together within five blocks. There were fewer open retail stores and more closed offices, but I still had a good time walking up and down the street. When I got back to my car I realized I was really tired. It was time to go home.

Five years ago today: Size Does Matter

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Coupon Fairy Was Here

Several weeks ago the mail carrier delivered a post card from a fast casual Mexican restaurant that had three coupons on it. One coupon was for a Buy One, Get One Free entree, one for a half price entree, and one for free chips and salsa with  the purchase of an entree. I hadn't been to this restaurant in a long time, and it sounded good, so I put the coupons where I would remember to use them.

Between then and now the postcard has gone out of the house with me multiple times, but I never managed to make it to the restaurant. One day I spilled water on the card. When it dried it was still readable, but unattractively wrinkled. Yesterday I took a hard look at the coupons and realized that they expired on Sunday. At this point it was use or lose them!

I was by myself for dinner tonight, and decided to eat at the restaurant. The coupon fine print said you could only use one per visit. I wanted to eat light, so free chips and salsa did not sound attractive. Before I left the car I tore off the half price entree coupon and threw the others in my purse. Once inside I ordered a burrito bowl (meaning no tortilla), swapped out the rice for double beans (black and pinto) and topped the beans with fajita vegetables, green salsa, lettuce, guacamole, and a sprinkle of cheese. When they rang up my order the total came to less than four dollars.

I asked for my food to go so, then sat at one of the tables directly outside the restaurant and ate.  As I finished up I realized that even though I couldn't use any of the other coupons maybe someone else could.  I tore my address off the post card and tucked it underneath an bottle someone had left on another table.

As I was walking back to my car another customer pulled up. I got his attention and told him about the coupons, saying I hoped someone would be able to get some use out of them. I saw him picking up the postcard to carry in with him as I pulled away .


Five year ago today: The Stars Told Us To!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I Do NOT Love Hot Summers

Earlier in the week Dkzody wrote about how much she loves the hot summer weather. I'm glad someone does. It's not me.

The biggest problem is my area's usual summer combination of high temperatures and high humidity that causes muggy days and uncomfortably hot nights. For weeks the dew point will hover in the 70s. Anything over 65 degrees means there's a lot of moisture in the air, which makes things pretty oppressive. And there's no doing outside activities early to beat the heat; even first thing in the morning it's muggy when you walk outside. In addition, the high temperatures lead to the faster formation of ozone, which leads to often-poor air quality days.

Thanks to my menopause-fueled internal temperature regulator, getting overheated makes me feel irritable and stressed. I have the house programmable thermostat set for 77°. When I'm at home I usually override that, pushing the temperature down another degree or two. When I'm not at home I leave it on the automatic setting, and the house feels like an oven when I return.

The problems continue when I go outside. In the summer heat and humidity, no matter how well I dry my hair, or how much product I put on it, within 15 minutes of going outside the cowlicks take over.  Since my skin is fair I have to keep it coated with sunscreen. I have tried more brands than I can count. Each makes my skin feel sticky. And when my face sweats, the sunscreen rolls into my eyes and leaves me with unattractive looking eyes from smudged mascara.

In the heat of the summer our water bill goes up because I hate being sweaty, especially at bedtime. I take at least two showers-one in the morning and another one before I go to bed. Sometimes a third in the middle of the day if I've been working outside in the yard.

I'm already counting down the weeks until mid-September, when the average temperatures are a more manageable mid-80s. That's my kind of weather.

Five years ago today: Racoon Eyes

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Smart Forecast

Tonight Hubby Tony and I were talking about what time sunset would be, so I opened the Weather Underground app on my phone to check. Just above the sun and moon information, I saw a feature I had never noticed before called Smart Forecast.  After clicking around on the screen I learned that the feature lets you choose the weather conditions you'd prefer for different activities (running, biking, landscape photography, walking, fishing, star gazing, hiking, kite flying, gardening, sailing, surfing, and wildflower photography) and the app will tell you when those conditions are met.

I decided to try making a walking forecast.  I chose the acceptable and ideal ranges for the temperature, wind speed, chance of precipitation, air pollution, and the acceptable times for doing the activity. Next I chose one of the seven different color options and hit 'Done'.

The result was an interesting graph:

However, in the next five days the conditions will often be acceptable, but they will never be ideal.  I guess I'll have to wait until the temperatures cool off to see if there's an additional notification for that.

Five years ago today: Tasting Event

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Last Of The Family Fun (California, Summer 2018)

The day after our jaunt to Sacramento was the Fourth of July.  Daughter-in-law Nicole had a previously scheduled bike ride, and was already gone when the rest of us woke up. Son Brian had done some research and suggested that the San Jose Rose, White & Blue Parade would be a good morning activity for the rest of us. After breakfast he packed a bag with snacks and drinks for Grandson Jay and made sure the stroller was in the car before we left.

The parade started at 10:00. For almost two hours we saw floats, Scout groups, bands, antique car clubs, dance groups, service organizations, and groups of pets go by. There was a festival area at the end of the route, but  Jay was getting tired, so we walked back to the car and drove to a Panera close to the house, where we met Nicole for lunch. Then it was back to the house for nap time.


Brian and Nicole had invited some friends over for dinner. They arrived about four o'clock, each bringing a dish to share. Brian and Nicole provided ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, and chips. Tony and I threw in a bag of Belly Flop jelly beans. After dinner we sat outside. As it got dark Brian offered Tony and I the chance to go watch fireworks. We declined. However, their house was close enough to the city's display that I heard the boom of the show for an hour after I went to bed.

Wikipedia

On Thursday, the last day before Tony and I few back home, Brian and Nicole took the day off and we made a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Brian and Nicole are members, and their extra guest passes got me and Tony in for free. We spent a couple hours there, concentrating on Jay's favorite displays-the habitat exhibits with lots of fish, the penguins, and the children's area.

Before we left the aquarium we ate lunch in the cafe (where I thought the food was surprisingly good for a cultural institution).  After lunch we walked a couple of blocks for ice cream, then got back in the car and headed home. It took Jay about five minutes to fall asleep, and he napped for the entire  drive.

Brian had after-dinner plans, so Nicole, Tony, and I took James to the park, where he had a great time climbing, sliding, and digging in the sand.  At bedtime we gave Jay extra hugs and kisses, because we didn't know if he would be awake the next morning when Brian drove us to the airport.

Five years ago today: Hospitable Hosts

Friday, July 13, 2018

Extended Family Fun (California, Summer 2018)

When Hubby Tony found out we were going to have some time to ourselves on this trip he contacted his cousin Jean (on his mom's side) to see if we could visit with her. Although they are cousins, Jean is about 30 years older than Tony. She lives in Sun City Lincoln Hills, a planned senior community  a half hour north of Sacramento.

We rented a car for this trip. Tony called the rental office Monday morning to arrange for them to pick us up. The person he spoke to wrote down the time wrong, and the shuttle driver ended up arriving a half hour late. However, to make up for their mistake they gave us a slightly bigger car and waived the return gas fill up requirement, a nice bonus.

Our drive started out the same way as our previous route, but this time we went farther north on Interstate 5. We passed through Sacramento and kept going. When we arrived at Jean's we were greeted by her son Nick, who lives with her. Jean was right behind him. Although frail-looking, she gave both me and Tony a firm hug and invited us in. We chatted for several hours. Jean was able to answer many of Tony's questions about some of his long-deceased family members. I took notes so Tony would be able to remember all the details.

At the end of the visit Tony and I drove to a nearby Starbucks, where we used the wi-fi to research hotels in Sacramento. It was the beginning of rush hour when we got back on the road, but we eventually made it to our destination. We checked in, dropped off our bags, and immediately searched for places to go to dinner. Yelp directed us to a nearby Thai restaurant, then a ice cream parlor for dessert. When we returned to the hotel it was time for bed.

Then next day we relied on Yelp again to find a great coffee shop for breakfast, then headed to the Old Sacramento State Historic Park, a historical landmark that was once the western termini of the Pony Express and first transcontinental railroad.  Many of the historical buildings have been repurposed into stores and restaurants.  We walked around for a couple of hours, had lunch, then started back towards "home". This time we took a different route, which allowed us to visit the Arboretum at University of California-Davis. For part of the walk through the grounds we were escorted by a pair of turkeys:


Our last stop was in Fairfield, where we visited the Jelly Belly factory.

Jelly Belly factory
The plan was to take a factory tour, but the wait to get in was 30 minutes. Both Tony and I were tired, so we settled for visiting the gift shop, where we stocked up on Belly Flops (irregulars that didn't make the quality cut) and got back on the road again. I'm glad we did; thanks to a couple of accidents traffic was really bad heading back into the Bay area.  We had to be back at the rental car office by 5:30, and made it just in time.

One more set of adventures awaited us before we came home.

Five years ago today: How Exciting!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Family Old And New (California, Summer 2018)

Son Tony and his fiancee Ie live in Dallas, but she grew up in Central California. When Hubby Tony and I figured out we would be babysitting, we asked if there was any way we could get together to meet some of Ie's family. Eventually we heard there would a casual barbecue get-together at one of Ie's sister's houses.

After Hubby Tony and I left Grandson Jay with his parents we left for Manteca, a city approximately 75 miles away. Thanks to some heavy traffic it took close to two hours to get there.  We moved from Interstate 880 to 680 to 580 to 205, then got onto a state highway for another ten minutes.

Ie comes from a large family. Her mother and all but one of her siblings were there, and with spouses and children there were about 30 people! I did my best to remember names and family groups, but joked that I hoped there wasn't a quiz at the end.  Most of the people there had never been to the Midwest, so we spent some time talking about the differences in our areas.

Ie is a first generation Asian-American, with parents that came to this country in the late 1970s. The buffet meal contained dishes like barbecued meat and vegetable skewers, tossed green salad, and tortilla chips with salsa. Next to those were green papaya salad, egg rolls, and spicy pickled greens. Dessert was tasty Nab Vam (Tapioca in Coconut Milk), a mixture of chopped fruits and tiny boba swimming in a sweet liquid.

Nab Vam - Pinterest

After several wonderful hours of socializing and eating, Hubby Tony and I left to drive back to Santa Clara.  Everyone else in the house was asleep when we got in, so we quietly climbed into bed to get ready for the next day.

Son Tony and Ie were combining family time with personal vacation time. Sunday afternoon they stopped by Son Brian and DIL Nicole's house for lunch and socializing!  It was great to have most of the family together. (The only one missing was Son Donald, who was back in Missouri working and taking university summer classes).  Eventually Tony and Ie left for their next commitment.

After dinner Hubby Tony and I packed up our suitcases for the next adventure.

Five years ago today: All The Excitement Happened In The First Half-Hour Of Work Today. Then It Went Back To Normal.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

All In The Family (California, Summer 2018)

Shortly after the new year started Son Brian and DIL Nicole approached Hubby Tony and I about babysitting grandson Jay while they flew to the East Coast to attend a wedding at the end of June. We quickly agreed. The plane tickets were purchased in April, and then it was a matter of waiting.

Tony and I flew into San Jose on Tuesday afternoon. Brian picked us up from the airport, and we were just getting settled into our bedroom when Nicole and Jay arrived home from day care. We talk with the family via Face Time most weeks, but it still took Jay a little while to get used to us in the flesh.  At the end of the evening we watched his night time routine (so important for a 20-month old). On Wednesday we shadowed Brian, learning the morning routine and day care drop off and pick up.

A great day for a game
While Jay was at day care and Mom and Dad were working we drove to the nearby San Jose Earthquakes stadium, where they were showing World Cup games on the huge video screen. We watched Brazil beat Serbia in Group E play and got some great food truck lunch. After dinner that night Brian and Nicole left for the airport, leaving Grandma and Grandpa in charge for two and a half days.

Chalk is always fun

I was proud that we successfully navigated the first bath and bedtime without a hitch, and when Jay briefly awoke in the middle of the night he accepted my glass of water, then laid down and went right back to sleep.

We took Jay to day care both Thursday and Friday, then spent the days exploring the San Jose and Santa Clara area.  
Carmelite Monastery, Santa Clara

Del Monte Park, San Jose

In the evenings after dinner we read books, played with balls and bubbles, and took walks around the block. On Saturday morning we pushed Jay in his trike to the local strip mall. Brian and Nicole got home Saturday afternoon. We handed Jay back over to them, and borrowed Nicole's car for the next part of our California adventure.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Welcoming Weather

Ten days ago Hubby Tony and I left for a trip to Northern California. While we were there we visited with nuclear family, extended family, and new family. We were also able to get some time for ourselves. The weather was beautiful the whole time.

Our plane got in mid-afternoon yesterday, and we walked out of the airport into a typical hot and humid St. Louis day. It took ten minutes for the parking lot shuttle bus to arrive, and by the time I got on my shirt was sticking to my sweaty back. The rest of the day was filled with playing with the cats, unpacking, organizing, and laundry. After dinner Tony cut the very long grass and I made a quick grocery run. We went to bed early, not even bothering to watch the local news.

This morning we continued our catching up activities. I did more laundry, and put it all away. Downloaded photos from my phone, Tony's phone, and the camera. Caught up with work emails and scheduled some jobs for the upcoming week. After lunch I realized I had some errands that had to be run, so I got ready to leave the house. When I walked out into the garage I realized that the weather had changed from the previous day. It was really nice--almost the same weather we had left behind on the West Coast!

When I got home from the errands I opened up the windows so the fresh air could come in. Based on tomorrow's forecast we'll be closing the house up again tomorrow, but I'll take the nice weather when I can get it.

Five years ago today: Bromeliaceous

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Feelin' Fancy

The other day I had some work in a posh part of town. Wanting to fit in, I wore a casual tan linen skirt, a navy polo shirt, and my real-looking fake diamond studs. The job took about a half hour, and when I was finished I didn't feel like going straight home.  Instead, I decided to head to the closest mall.

This mall is small, but very posh. It's anchored by the area's only Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus stores. My original plan was to get some steps in by walking the common areas, but somewhere during the first lap I veered into the Talbots store, seduced by the clearance racks visible from the front door.  Besides, the store has two entrances so by going in one and out the other I was still technically continuing my lap.

After that I decided to stop in every clothes store that struck my fancy, including the two anchor stores. When the associates wanted to know if I needed any assistance, I cobbled together a story (which was almost true)  that I was looking for white shorts or capris for an upcoming casual event with some Very Important People.  For the most part I didn't find anything that struck my fancy and I was able to keep going.  However, in Neiman Marcus the associate showed me some Eileen Fisher shorts and capris and I decided to try them on.

That's one fancy dressing room!
She walked me to the fitting room, unlocked the door, and indicated I should go inside.  Holy cow! The room was the largest I had ever seen.  Two walls were covered in mirrors, the better to see both back and front of what you were thinking about buying. In addition to plenty of room to try things on there was a chair and a small couch. The associate hung my items up on a rack and left, saying she would be right outside if I needed her.

I tried on and quickly discarded the capris, but fell in love with the shorts They were made with thick but smooth linen, relaxed legs, and an elasticized back.  And "only" $188.  Not even remotely within my budget. Sadly, I hung them back up and left everything in the dressing room. On the way out of the department I thanked the associate, who gave me suggestions for several other stores I might try. I did go in a couple of them, and even tried on a few things, but after those perfect shorts everything else was disappointing.

When I left the mall I drove to a nearby upscale charity thrift shop, where I found a white golf skirt for $5. The stretchy cotton material was a far cry from the soft linen, but the price was right. I could get it and have enough to buy dinner that night.

Five years ago today: Bowls Of Morning Goodness