Saturday, February 4, 2023

Wind Current Style

Since Hubby Tony and I joined the YMCA a couple of weeks ago I've been enjoyed their wide variety of group fitness classes. So far I've participated in Zumba, Step, and Yoga. Today was Cycling. 

It's been a long time since I worked out on an exercise bike with a group. At the gym before my previous one I used to take Spinning (the trademarked name for choreographed cycling classes) on a regular basis. When I moved from that gym to the one we just left there were no convenient Spin class times, and then the classes were moved to an upgraded membership level and it wasn't an option for me. At the Y all group classes are reserved on the app, and Cycling fills up quickly. When I opened up the app yesterday I was pleased to see availability this morning and jumped on the opportunity. 

With the reservation system there's no need to show up early to insure a space. Nevertheless, since every brand of exercise bike is a little different I gave myself extra time to make sure I was set up before the class started. That didn't matter since the instructor rolled in late, apologizing that she had been held up at a railroad crossing.

Inside the cycling room I picked a bike in the middle of the last row. It wasn't hard to adjust the seat  and handlebars and I was ready when the instructor cranked up the music. About a quarter of the way through the class the instructor walked around the room and turned on large oscillating fans. I happened to be right next to one. The breeze did a great job of keeping me cool, but every time it blew my way my hair went crazy. At the end of the class my style was quite interesting!

Five years ago today: Setup Snafu

Thursday, February 2, 2023

How Fast Is Enough?

I used to have a heavy foot on the gas pedal, but now I'm a 'recovering speeder' who tries to go the posted speed limit. My new habit comes in handy when I pass a hidden patrol car and I don't have to worry that I'm going to see flashing lights coming after me. However, the past few months it feels like traffic is going faster.

 The subdivision and non-highway streets I use on a regular basis have enough stop lights and signs that traffic usually flows at close to the posted rate. However, the interstate is different.

In the St. Louis metropolitan area the interstate speed limit is 60 miles per hour. To keep up with the flow of traffic it takes an additional five miles per hour (and on 8:00 on Sunday morning when I drive to the church to cook breakfast ten miles per hour is often more appropriate). Depending on how I'm feeling I either join in the speeding, or poke along in the far right lane and let all the other cars pass me.

As you move away from the city the speed limit rises to 65 mph, and maxes out at 70 mph. I'm not on these roads as much, but ironically, I don't see as much limit exceeding on these roads. Wonder why?

Five years ago: The Real To-Do List

Monday, January 30, 2023

Cooking Remotely

Last night the forecast called for a 60% chance of a light snow/sleet/freezing rain mix starting about 6 pm. By the time Hubby Tony and I turned on the news at 9 the highways were a mess--cars sliding off the road, jackknifed trucks and multiple crashes. Because of the issues several highways were closed.

MODOT (the Missouri Department of Transportation) said this morning's rush hour would be a mess, and advised people to not drive unless they had to. That was fine by me, because I didn't have anywhere to be until after lunch, which is when I would head to the church to make supper.

When I rolled out of bed this morning the only traffic sound I heard was a salt truck driving by. I ate breakfast, leisurely read the newspaper and all of the blogs in my feeder, then checked my email and Facebook before I got up from the table. It was lovely.

Two hours later I was tired of being in the house and looking for something to do. The collector road visible from the condo window looked like it was well-cleared, and the presence of a couple of sets of tire tracks on the subdivision street led me to believe that it was safe to go out. I sent a text to both priests at the church indicating that I was planning on being there unless I heard otherwise, then made a trip to the produce market and grocery store. My drive was non-eventful.

When it was time to leave for the church I looked at my phone and discovered two texts. One was from the associate, who asked me to purchase a couple of things for him at the grocery store. The other one was from the pastor, telling me to hunker down at home, and they would be okay without me. Pastor trumps associate, so all of a sudden my day was free.

Tony and I went to the mall and walked, then I came home and took a nap.

However, there was one tiny problem. One of the things I had planned to do at the church rectory was some pre-cooking for Wednesday's staff lunch. The directions on the boxed bar cookies I was serving for dessert called for baking and completely cooling the cookies before frosting. I wouldn't have enough time to do all of that on Wednesday.

After thinking about the issue for a bit I came up with a solution. With the permission of the business manager I logged in from home home long enough to prepare and bake the cookies. I had to use my own pan, butter, and eggs. On Wednesday I will just have to make sure to bring my pan and replacement ingredients home.

Five years ago today: Isn't It Ironic?

Saturday, January 28, 2023

TG And KG 4Ever

Today the weather was more like late March than late January, with a high temperature of almost 60 degrees. Since tomorrow will be back to normal (a high just a little above freezing), Hubby Tony and I decided we needed to get outside.

After looking at the activities going on in the area, we decided on the Fete De Glace Ice Festival in the historic Fifth Street area of St. Charles. Unfortunately, hundreds of people had the same idea we did. The area was packed, and it was hard to see any of the ice carvers at work.

We left the ice festival and walked to the Foundry Art Center. At the door we learned there was a chili and beer festival going on. That did not interest us at all, but we walked through the galleries and I enjoyed seeing the art. One of the areas was called a Graffiti Room. The walls were wrapped with cardboard, and a table in the middle held a large container of markers. Although the cardboard was almost completely covered, there was just enough room for me to add some graffiti of my own.

Five years ago today: Field Trip Day

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Astrology Advice

Today's newspaper horoscope said:

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)— Today is an 8 — Indulge yourself with household projects. Beautify spaces and nurture your household with hospitality. Reduce clutter. Simplify and clarify. Share domestic treats with family.

The winter weather system that the meteorologists were hyping up for the past few days turned out to be a dud. Instead of the 4-6 inches of snow originally predicted our area got about an inch, and with temperatures just below the freezing mark it didn't take a big rise for things to start melting. By lunchtime most of the streets were snow-free.

However, based on the forecast many schools and entities were cancelled last night or first thing in the morning. The church I work at decided to open the office at noon and passed on the staff lunch that I would normally prepare. Just like that I had a day to do nothing.

In addition to filling up my time with copious amounts internet surfing and computer mah jong, I decided to honor my horoscope by:

  • Cleaning out a jewelry box that I have been meaning to get around to for weeks. I put all the broken and unused pieces in a bag to donate to Monarch Jewelry. When that was done, I filtered through my earring and necklace containers and pulled out anything I didn't think I would use any more. From there I sorted through a few dresser drawers and purged some items.
  • Once again I cleaned off the kitchen island, which was cluttered with receipts and plastic bags. I put everything where it belonged, and found a home for some miscellaneous items.
  • I talked with a friend about a volunteer coordinator job I do (which she used to do some time back) and got some tips about monthly reporting. I learned that my friend had given the last coordinator a formatted document to use. At the beginning of the year the last coordinator had given me a flash drive with all her information. I got busy and never got around to looking at it.

    Rather than recreate the wheel I decided to find that document. However, I couldn't remember where I put the flash drive. While I searched I straightened. By the time I found it, a corner of my office was well-cleaned.
  • I baked a batch of muffins, starting with a container of juice from the freezer that turned out to be pumpkin. I added a scoop of cocoa powder and a teaspoon of cinnamon into the dry oatmeal and whole wheat flour. The two dozen tasty muffins will last for a couple of weeks.
  • For dinner I made some savory oatmeal (four servings-enough for tomorrow night's dinner too). There are definitely benefits to 'sharing domestic treats'.

Five years ago: Lippy

Monday, January 23, 2023

Third-Degree Times Two

You've heard of the Air Force's ultra-high-security, super-secret base in Nevada, known simply as "Area 51"? 

Well, late one afternoon, the Air Force folks out at Area 51 were very surprised to see a Cessna landing at their "secret" base. They immediately impounded the aircraft and hauled the pilot into an interrogation room.

 
The pilot's story was that he took off from Vegas, got lost, and spotted the base just as he was about to run out of fuel. The Air Force started a full FBI background check on the pilot and held him overnight during the investigation.   

By the next day, they were finally convinced that the pilot really was lost and wasn't a spy. They gassed up his airplane, gave him a terrifying "you-did-not-see-a-base" briefing, told him Vegas was that-a-way and sent him on his way.  
 

The next day, to the total disbelief of the Air Force, the same Cessna showed up again. Once again, the MP's surrounded the plane...only this time there were two people in the plane.  

 
The same pilot jumped out and said, "Do anything you want to me, but my wife is in the plane and you have to tell her where I was last night."

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Whereabouts

Earlier today Liz at Finding Life Hard? asked if I had heard about what3words. I had not, but Wikipedia told me:

"What3words is a proprietary geocode system designed to identify any location on the surface of the earth with a resolution of about 3 metres (9.8 ft)".
The article goes on to say:
"What3words differs from most location encoding systems in that it uses words rather than strings of numbers or letters, and the pattern of this mapping is not obvious; the algorithm mapping locations to words is protected by copyright."

I had fun playing around with the site. To start, I entered an address in the search box in the upper left hand corner. The search box changed to show the what3words identifier, and a line pointed to the location on the map. I found out that the mall close to my house was punk.couple.film, and the grocery store across the street was snap.hails.limbs.The nearby park was descended.topped.frock.

There's an option to share the information via email or social media platforms. You can navigate with several different apps. Signing up for an account lets you save locations and sync the information across devices.
 
Five years ago today: Time For Some Updates

Friday, January 20, 2023

Y Not?

Hubby Tony and I have been members of a local multi-branch gym since 2009. I like it because they have a nice selection of aerobic machines, weight machines, and group exercise classes. If I want to, I can find a branch just about any direction my errands take me. 

In October the branch I use most frequently started a renovation process. Each day I went in it was interesting to see what had changed. Two portable restroom trailers (one for men and one for women) were set up outside the back door to replace the now non-existent locker rooms. The Cardio Theater room was closed, and then encased behind sheets of plastic. The Spinning room went dark.

Shortly before Thanksgiving I received a message that the location was going to temporarily close so they could complete the work in a more timely fashion. There was a promise it would be open again at the first of the year. We could have put a freeze on our account, but instead we went to other branches sporadically, then left town for the holidays. We got back home one week into the new year, but the location was still closed. When I looked into the issue I learned the reopening date was now mid-February. 

Last week Tony and I went out to dinner with some friends and learned they were getting ready to join the YMCA. At that point changing gyms hadn't even occurred to me, but the more Tony and I talked about it the more sense it made. I had fond memories of a Y family membership we had years ago, but at our old house the closest location wasn't particularly convenient. However, at our new house there is a branch just three miles away. Earlier this week Tony and I toured the facility, then decided to join. 

I've now gone a couple of times-once for a group exercise class, and once to use the aerobic and weight machines. Both experiences were positive. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of the aquatic classes and doing some water walking in the pool.

The Y membership is month to month. The auto payment for our current gym won't happen for a couple of weeks, so we have a little time to decide which place works best for us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Adventures In Instant Pot Cooking

You may remember that on Wednesday I prepare staff luncheon for a church. Today's menu was chicken stew served over polenta, green salad, and bread. One of the staff was celebrating their birthday, so dessert was a store-bought chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles.

On my way there I stopped at the grocery store to purchase ingredients. I had just started arranging those ingredients on the kitchen island when the associate priest walked in.

He asked what was on the menu. I told him.

He asked how I was preparing the stew.

It sounded like the question had an ulterior motive, so I asked if he had any suggestions. As a matter of fact he did, saying that his Instant Pot would do a great job.

I had never thought about preparing stew that way, but was intrigued with the concept. I received an Instant Pot five years ago. Since that time I've used it on a regular basis, but predominantly for cooking rice, lentils, and dried beans. My stew 'recipe' was more like an idea floating around in my head than an actual recipe, but I suspected the priest would be disappointed if I didn't use his toy, and I'm nothing if not flexible so I told him I would give it a try.

He beamed, pulled out his phone and searched, then started giving me cooking suggestions. The information was coming much too fast, so I told him I would figure it out and see him in a couple of hours when it was time to eat.

After he left I did my own Google search and I decided my inspiration recipe would be the one that had "Best" in it's title. I used the inspiration recipe more for cooking times than for actual ingredients. My dish had boneless chicken thighs, onion/garlic, carrots, and celery. (And at the end, when the ratio of liquid to solids was off I threw in some leftover oven fried potato chunks from Sunday's breakfast.) The liquid was a combination of cream of chicken soup, a partial jar of pizza sauce from the refrigerator, white wine, and chicken broth.

This Instant Pot had a different pressure release regulator valve than mine, but I found the priest and he showed me how it worked. After I sauteed the vegetables, put the rest of the ingredients in, and sealed the lid on, it took 25 minutes for the pot to come to pressure and cook, with another 15 minutes for steam release. At the end I mixed in a corn starch slurry that added an additional five minutes.

After the meal was over there wasn't much stew left over so I'm considering that a success.

Five years ago today: A Wrong Remark

Monday, January 16, 2023

Opposite Intent

A contronym is a word with two opposite (contradictory) meanings. The words can be homonyms (words with similar spelling or pronunciation) or antonyms (words with opposite meaning). Some examples: 

  • Bill: A payment, or an invoice for payment
  • Bolt: To secure, or to flee 
  • Bound: Heading to a destination, or restrained from movement 
  • Consult: To offer advice, or to obtain it 
  • Custom: A common practice, or a special treatment 
  • Dust: To add fine particles, or to remove them  
  • Finished: Completed, or ended or destroyed 
  • First degree: Most severe in the case of a murder charge, or least severe in reference to a burn 
  • Garnish: To furnish, as with food preparation, or to take away, as with wages 
  • Give out: To provide, or to stop because of a lack of supply 
  • Handicap: An advantage provided to ensure equality, or a disadvantage that prevents equal achievement 
  • Hold up: To support, or to impede 
  • Left: Remained, or departed 
  • Model: An exemplar, or a copy 
  • Out: Visible, as with stars showing in the sky, or invisible, in reference to lights 
  • Overlook: To supervise, or to neglect 
  • Oversight: Monitoring, or failing to oversee 
  • Peer: A person of the nobility, or an equal 
  • Put out: Extinguish, or generate 
  • Puzzle: A problem, or to solve one 
  • Quantum: Significantly large, or a minuscule part 
  • Refrain: To desist from doing something, or to repeat 
  • Rent: To purchase use of something, or to sell use 
  • Sanction: To approve, or to boycott 
  • Scan: To peruse, or to glance 
  • Screen: To present, or to conceal 
  • Skinned: Covered with skin, or with the skin removed 
  • Splice: To join, or to separate 
  • Temper: To soften, or to strengthen 
  • Throw out: To dispose of, or to present for consideration 
  • Transparent: Invisible, or obvious 
  • Trim: To decorate, or to remove excess from 
  • Trip: A journey, or a stumble 
  • Unbending: Rigid, or relaxing 
  • Variety: A particular type, or many types 
  • Wear: To endure, or to deteriorate 
  • Weather: To withstand, or to wear away 
  • Wind up: To end, or to start up

Can you think of any others? 

Five years ago: Adventure Is Where You Find It