Monday, May 31, 2010

To Market, To Market

The Gypsy Caravan is a local Memorial Day tradition. I've never attended, but this year Tony and I decided it would be a fun activity, so this morning we jumped in the car and headed off on an adventure.

Gypsy Caravan, which benefits the Saint Louis Symphony Volunteer Association, is a huge flea, craft, and antique market.  This is the 38th year for the event, which has almost 400 vendors from more than 20 states.  It's held on several parking lots (and in part of one parking garage) at  UMSL, the University of Missouri St Louis.

Before we left for our adventure I did a bit of planning.  I loaded a large tote bag with snacks, a water bottle, and extra sunscreen, then stopped at a gas station ATM to get some cash.  After I got my money I walked over to the cashier and asked him to break the larger bills.  I've done enough bargaining over the years to know it helps to have small bills when you're trying to get a seller to reduce their price!

The Caravan is held on the Main Campus of the school.  All of the parking lots there were full when we arrived, so we were directed to the South Campus about a mile away.  We parked and waited a few minutes for a shuttle bus.  After a short ride, the bus stopped to let everyone off.  We followed the crowd to the entrance, where we paid our admission and got an Event Guide with maps, vendor lists, and other helpful information; we sat at a picnic table in the shade and made a plan of action before we started shopping

According to some accounts, this year's Caravan was expected to draw over 25,000 people. With that many shoppers, it was hard to make it up to some of the booths!  Fortunately, we weren't looking for anything specific, so it was usually easy to tell from a distance whether or not we wanted to take a closer look at something.  This sale had everything: jewelry, clothing, collectibles, furniture, antiques, crafts, yard art, and a lot of miscellany, including a small contingent of direct sales and commercial companies. The food booths had very long lines, so I was glad I had brought something to munch on.

The sun was in and out of the clouds, and there was an intermittent breeze, but otherwise it was a typical hot St. Louis day.  After a couple of hours of shopping, Tony and I had had enough.  We had covered about two thirds of the booths, and everything was starting to look the same.  On the way out we stopped at a yard art booth and bought a metal flower to decorate the front yard.  My small bills came in handy; I offered the vendor less than the posted price, holding the money in my hand.  He accepted my offer.

My purchase wouldn't fit in my bag, so I carried it in front of me as we made our way back to the shuttle bus stop.  I had to be careful not to poke anyone with the pointed bottom as I got off at our parking lot.  We were hot and sweaty back to the car, but it was a lot of fun.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stand For Stan

Stan Musial is a former baseball player and a St. Louis icon. He played with the St. Louis Cardinals his entire career (from 1941 to 1963, with a one-year stint in the  Navy in 1945), and was selected for the All-Star team 24 times. He was also selected for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.

"Stan The Man" turns 90 this year, and the Cardinals have started a campaign to convince Barack Obama to award him America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his lifetime achievements.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, is awarded to Americans who make "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States or to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." It may be awarded for singular acts of momentous import, it is generally offered only for a lifetime of service or at the conclusion of a distinguished career.  The recipients come from every discipline: science, arts, education, business, medicine, religion, media, politics and government, and sports. Seven baseball players and 11 other sports figures have received the award, including Joe DiMaggio (1977), Jackie Robinson (1984), Muhammad Ali (2005), and Arnold Palmer (2004).

According to the Cardinals Website, there are several ways to show your support for the campaign and take a "Stand for Stan":
  • Write a letter to President Obama 
  • Sign a petition
  • Follow the campaign on Twitter, or
  • Post your photo with Flat Stan the Man
I decided it would be fun for Tony and me to take a picture with a Flat Stan.  If you're not familiar with it, Flat Stanley is a children's book by Jeff Brown which features Stanley Lambchop, a boy who becomes completely flat in an accident.  He uses his flatness to his advantage, and has many adventures. In 1995 the Flat Stanley Project was started by Dale Hubert. Schoolchildren read the book, make their own Flat Stanley, document in a journal where he has gone with them, then mail the Stanley and journal to others and ask them to do the same.  Flat Stan the Man, a caricature of Musial, wearing the Medal of Freedom, is about documenting Stan's "adventures", except there's no writing involved.   You take a photo with Flat Stan and post it on the Cardinals Website.

I had our Stan ready to go yesterday, but the camera wasn't; I had to recharge the batteries.  This afternoon Tony and I went out on the deck, pulled two chairs together, and put the camera on the deck railing.  Tony held our Stan while I set the camera's auto timer.  I hurried back to my seat and got into position for the picture.  The first time didn't work, so I adjusted the angle of the camera and tried again.  Success! I uploaded the picture, which showed up on the Website about 20 minutes later.  There were already dozens of pictures, and I suspect there will be a lot more before the campaign's over.

Friday, May 28, 2010

If The Shoe Fits

I'm looking for a pair of shoes to take on vacation with me later in the summer. We'll be doing a lot of walking and sightseeing, and I want something more fashionable than my white New Balance walking shoes; perhaps a style I can walk in during the day, then pair with a casual skirt for dinner.

I have a hard time finding shoes that fit.  The front of my foot is medium width,  but my heels are too narrow for many of the brands I find in the store.  Someone suggested I try Land's End shoes. Because it's so hard to get something that fits, I'm reluctant to buy shoes from a catalog, but I knew Sears carries some of their styles, so this afternoon I headed to the mall to try shoes on.  Even if I couldn't find the right combination of size, style, and color in the store, I would know what to order.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of sandals that had adjustable  straps that made them fit well.  Usually I walk around the store for a few minutes to make sure the shoes are comfortable, but today I really walked...through all of the women's departments of the store.  I browsed the lingerie department, then checked out the shorts and t-shirts.  After I inspected the dressy clothes, I moved over to the swim suits and exercise clothes.  I also saw some cute purses and jewelry.  The shoes continued to be comfortable.  I had a winner!

Sadly, I couldn't find that right combination of size, style, and color, so I'll be ordering them online and waiting for them to delivered.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Handy Laundry Guide

Do you know when you need to launder your clothes?  I thought I did, but I learned a few things from the Real Simple When to Wash It Handbook:

Bras don’t come into direct contact with the underarms, so they should be washed every three or four days. However, they need a 24 hour break between wearings for the elastic to recover, so you should rotate them. One way is to line them up in a drawer. In the morning, take a bra from the front, then send it to the back of the line in the evening. If you sweat a lot, you should wash bras daily with a gentle detergent.

Jeans should be washed after wearing them four to five times.  To keep them looking like new (or faded just the way you want them), throw them in the washer inside out and use cold water. Avoiding the dryer will help retain color, too. You can send them through the spin cycle sooner if they stretch out, or just toss them in the dryer for 10 minutes. Spandex-heavy “jeggings” (jean leggings) should be washed after every wear so the knees don’t bag.

Dress Pants need to be cleaned after four or five wearings. Since you’re probably wearing them in a cool air-conditioned office, they can be used multiple times, particularly those made of stain-repelling synthetic blends. If they're part of a suit, you should dry-clean both pieces together so one doesn’t fade faster than the other. And remember what your mother always told you--your nice trousers will last longer between washings if you change into your “play clothes” as soon as you leave work.

Jackets and Blazers should be washed (or taken to the cleaners) after wearing them five to six times. Since they're typically put over another layer, like a blouse or camisole, they don’t require much upkeep. However, a jacket can retain odors, so before you put it back in the closet, air it out or spray it with a fabric freshner. Periodically check high-friction areas, like the collar, cuffs, and placket, for signs of dirt. But you can roll up the sleeves (or even pop the collar) to temporarily conceal stains on an otherwise-clean jacket.

Khaki Shorts and Pants will be dirty after two or three wears.  Light colored cottons are vulnerable to noticeable spots; you can treat any dirty areas between washes with a stain remover. With stain-resistant fabrics, you can get usually away with an extra wear or two. Never use fabric softeners or dryer sheets on stain-resistant garments, as they diminish the effectiveness of the fabric.

Pajamas should be laundered every three to four nights. Wash them twice as often as you change the sheets, because during the night you sweat and shed skin cells.  If you shower before bedtime, you can probably go an extra night or two. However, if you snooze in silk, which absorbs more body oils than cotton, you should switch your sleepwear daily.

Skirts need to be washed after four or five wearings. If nonsilk fabrics need refreshing, throw them in the dryer for 10 minutes with a dryer sheet. You can be more lenient with circle and A-line styles, which hardly touch the body. However, whites and silks are prone to discoloration and should be cleaned after every wear.

Swimsuits should get washed after every wearing, otherwise salt and chlorine will eat away at the fabric and stretch it out prematurely. Hand wash your suit with cool water and a gentle detergent, and allow it to air dry. Even if you only dipped a toe in the water, a swimsuit, like underwear, is an intimate garment that absorbs body oils, bacteria, and odors. Best to wash it every time.

Tops and Dresses should be laundered after one to three wears.  There are several ways to keep these pieces in ready-to-wear shape.  First, don’t overdo the deodorant; one dab will do you.  You can prevent underarm stains with an undershirt or dress shields, and remember to inspect the item closely prior to ironing, which can set stains. Again, whites and silks need a cleaning after every wear. If your dress is formal or semi-formal, it’s best to clean it after each outing, since you don’t want any stains setting during the weeks or months between wears.

T-Shirts, Tanks, and Camisoles need to be treated like underwear and washed after each wearing, because they're close-fitting and oil-absorbing.  However, if you've worn it four hours or less you can probably put it away without washing it..

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Cathedral of South St. Louis

Today felt like a day for an adventure.  At 9:00 this morning Tony came up with an idea that  had us out the door by 9:15.  Our objective was to get to St. Francis de Sales Oratory in South St. Louis for 10:00 Mass.

The church is known as "the Cathedral of South St. Louis", and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The 300-foot spire of the Gothic revival building can be seen from quite a distance.  However, it wasn't just the beautiful building that drew us there.  We wanted to experience something different.  Since 2005 St. Francis de Sales Oratory has been has been maintained by the religious community of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and is the center of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the entire archdiocese.  They say Mass using of the traditional Latin Liturgy of 1962.

I barely remember the traditional liturgy; when all of the changes of Vatican II happened I was six years old, so I was excited to participate in something old but new to me.  We had no problem finding the church or parking, then we followed some people towards the entrance.  They were dressed very formally, and the women wore head coverings.  That concerned me (I didn't want to offend anyone), but I was put at ease when I saw several women, including the one sitting directly in front of me, were bare-headed.

After we found our seats I took a look around the sanctuary.  The ornate main altar was more than 50 feet high. Every surface in the building was decorated in some way. There were beautiful stained glass windows, carved wood, and walls decorated with frescoes.  Since we attended a High Mass, the principal one of the day, the choir was singing behind us in the choir loft.  This Mass was filled with ceremony, starting with the entrance procession.  A dozen men (including six boys carrying candles), proceeded in before the priest. After they all settled in their places, the priest did something I was unfamiliar with; my missal told me it was Asperges, a penitential rite. After he sprinkled holy water on the altar, clergy and the congregation, Mass began.

My missal had Latin on one side and an English translation on the other. I tried to follow along, but soon got lost and decided to just take in the beauty of the whole thing. The parts of this Mass that are said aloud are all chanted, and the choir sang the responses to the prayers.  The priest faced the alter the entire time.  There was one welcome exception to the Latin-only language. Before he gave the sermon, the priest read the epistle and gospel in English from the pulpit. (There were only two readings, not the three I'm used to. The first reading from the Old Testament was omitted.)  The part of the Offertory that included the Consecration of the bread and wine was quite powerful. The music became louder and more dramatic, building to a crescendo.

At Communion, we knelt at the altar rail, and the priest went down the line distributing hosts on each person's tongue.  A server accompanied him with a paten in case the host dropped.  The prayers after Communion were more extensive than I'm used to, but soon the priest said the final blessing, and the exit procession was a repeat of the entrance.

At the end of this Mass, there wasn't a big exodus as there is at our church.  Many people stayed and prayed.  After a few minutes of quiet meditation, Tony and I joined the small stream headed towards the entrance.  The bright sun outside was a shock to my eyes after the dimly-lit sanctuary.

Friday, May 21, 2010

All Done

Today I finished enumerating for the Census Bureau.

Even though we were authorized to work through the end of June, all the units in our Crew Leader's District have been completed. I think we finished so quickly for a couple of reasons.  First, if the areas I was assigned to were any indication, there weren't many people to contact. One of my AAs had a census form return rate of 90%, far higher than the metropolitan area's average.  Second, some of the workers were taking the job very seriously.  I never met all the people in my crew (because I was trained at a different place then most of them), but a couple I talked to were in between jobs and were working full-time hours.

Just because our neighborhoods are finished, it doesn't mean the whole region is.  There's still Census work to be done.  I had the option to work in the city of St. Louis or Jefferson County (which is directly south of St. Louis County), but I decided the additional driving would complicate things too much for my schedule.  I decided to leave the work to the people with more dedication to the job

Before I could be finished, thought, I had to take care of all my assigned questionnaires. Despite my best efforts, I had a couple of people I never talked to directly, but following Census procedure I'd found a neighbor who was able to tell me what they knew about the people who lived in those houses. Last night I cleaned the census detritus off the kitchen island and out of my car and got it ready to return.  It was amazing how quickly it had spread out.

Today I turned in the last of my completed questionnaires, the two notebooks, and all my supplies and forms.  The last thing the crew leader took was my Census Bureau badge.  I walked out of the library unencumbered for the first time in several weeks. My relationship isn't quite finished, though.  Because of the normal payroll time delay, I'll still get two more pay checks, which I'm looking forward to.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Since I work in a preschool, I get to participate in all sorts of interesting activities.  This week's classroom theme was Wacky Week, culminating in today's Wacky Day.  All of the planned activities were slightly skewed in some way.

Everyone (children as well as adults) was instructed to dress crazy.  I gave a lot of thought to my outfit. Because I spend a lot of time sitting on the floor and running after energetic children, any type of skirt or dress was out, as was anything too dangly or hanging.  I ended up wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and red elastic Christmas suspenders. ( I was going to wear Christmas socks, too, but when I put them on I realized they were way too warm for mid-May, so I opted for regular ones.)  It was fun to see how everyone was dressed as they came into the classroom.  Several students wore pajamas, a couple had mismatched shoes or socks, and one of the girls put temporary dye in her hair and styled it into three ponytails.  The adults were equally interesting.  The lead teacher wore a bathrobe, scarf, and sun visor, the high school volunteer had on flannel pajama pants, and one of the therapists rolled up one leg of her pants and turned her shirt inside out.  The teacher had a supply of wild hats and scarves for anyone who forgot about the special day.

In the morning I got to supervise the students as they "painted" with food.  I cut an orange, apple, green pepper, ear of corn and celery stalk in half, poured tempera on paper plates and used the food as stamps.  The pictures turned out well, and everyone enjoyed doing them.

After lunch, I helped them made toasted cheese sandwiches with an iron.  Each child cut a piece of bread in half (some wanted rectangles, some triangles) and placed a piece of cheese between the layers.  We wrapped the whole thing in foil, set a hot iron on top and counted to 30, then turned the packet over and repeated the ironing process.  The sandwich wasn't really toasted, but it was warm and the cheese was melted.  Again, I didn't hear any complaints.

At the end of the day I cleaned up.  I turned off the iron, packed up the sandwich ingredients, and put the fruits and vegetables in a bag.  Rather than throw them out, I brought them home and put them in my compost pile.  I don't think that's wacky, but smart.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

All's Fair In Love And War

I only have a handful of housing units in my Census areas that I need to complete a questionnaire on.  I've made several visits to the houses, on different days and times, with no luck.  In training we learned that we could make personal visits and phone calls to gather information.  The problem was coming up with a phone number to call, so I took to the Internet for a bit of cyber-sleuthing, using publicly available information to gather basic details.

The only information I have available is the house address, but sometimes that's enough.  I started at the County Department of Revenue. Their Website lists the owner of all the properties in the county.  My next stop was a reverse telephone number lookup search directory. Anyone who has a phone number associated with an address is listed.  I was able to get information for half the houses.  (Since cell phone numbers aren't listed, I assume the others had dropped their land line.) I called each of the numbers and left messages asking them to call me.  I followed up with another phone call the next day, and was able to complete some of the forms.

The ones I couldn't contact by phone?  I'll keep trying.  The Census bureau wants everyone counted!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You Say It's Your Birthday

lolcats funny cat pictures

We got our two cats (part of the same litter) early in the summer of 2002.  Based on when they'd been weaned, we arbitrarily decided their birthday was May 15th.  Over the years we haven't done much to observe the day, but this year Tony decided they deserved a fete.  Since we were busy tasting various types of chocolate chips yesterday, the cats' party was pushed back until today.

How do you celebrate a cat's birthday?  We catered to them a bit and gave them lots of extra attention.  When Pepper told me he wanted a lap to sleep on after lunch (Really.  He did.  Your cat doesn't talk to you?), I accommodated him by moving from the kitchen to the family room couch so he could stretch out while I read the newspaper. I didn't disturb Jackson's mid-afternoon nap in the middle of my bed, but came back later to put the clean sheets on it.

While Tony and I ate dinner, the cats circled the kitchen as they often do, looking for any morsels that might end up on the floor.  Although they're rarely rewarded for this activity, they never stop trying.  Before Tony served dessert, the cats got their birthday present.  I opened a bag of catnip and dumped half of it on the floor.  Pepper was there immediately; he always investigates new things.  He sniffed at the catnip, then fell down and started rolling in it. Jackson looked on nonchalantly, and even left the room for a minute.  However, as Jackson watched his brother writhing around on the catnip-strewn floor, he decided to come back and check it out.  First he laid down in the catnip and batted at it a bit, rolled over once, then licked some up. He walked away, but came back again and ate a bit more.

The cats won't play if they think someone is watching them, so I tried to be quiet, but it was hard not to laugh at their catnip-fueled escapades.  When I moved my chair, though, the noise scared the cats and they decided they were finished. They left quite a mess!  Catnip was scattered in a three-foot wide area, and  Pepper was completely covered in pieces of the herb.  Tony tried to clean him up before he left the room and scattered catnip all over the house, but he was only partially successful.

I swept up the remains of the cat's partying and threw it outside.  I didn't want to attract them to the trashcan. When I passed Pepper on my way to the front door, he gave me a glassy-eyed stare. Jackson was MIA somewhere in the house.  I guess they had a good birthday celebration.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chocolate Heaven

I read in the paper the other day that May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Day. A day set aside to celebrate chocolate chips? Of COURSE I was going to celebrate it.

Chocolate chips were invented in 1933 by Ruth Graves Wakefield at her Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Ruth was making chocolate cookies for her guests, but she ran out of baker's chocolate. She substituted a chopped up bar of semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate, which didn't completely melt during baking.  The cookies were a huge success, and a legend was born.

How to best commemorate Chocolate Chip day?  I asked Tony for his ideas (because he loves to help with projects like this), and he thought it would be nice to incorporate ice cream too.  Never a bad idea! We decided to compare several different types of chocolate chips, so we went to Whole Foods and bought a small quantity of each of the three types they had in their bulk section:
  • miniature semi-sweet chocolate
  • organic dark chocolate
  • nondairy carob chips
After running a couple of other errands, we stopped at Schnucks, bought a container of French Vanilla ice cream and brought everything home.  I set all the chips out on the island, along with some M&Ms left over from Brian and Nicole's reception.  Before I scooped out my  ice cream, I tasted each type of chips.  The dark chocolate was my favorite, but the semi-sweet tidbits were really good too.  I didn't care much for the carob; the chips had a funny aftertaste, and the mouth feel just wasn't right.

I added some of each type of chips to my bowl of ice cream, along with some M&Ms, and mixed everything together.  Mmmmmmm!  I really enjoyed eating the different types of chocolate in each bite. It didn't take long for me to polish off the bowl.  I wonder if I'll be hungry for dinner?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blow Baby Blow

Most nights Tony and I turn on the radio at bedtime and listen to St. Louis On The Air, a locally produced program on our NPR station St. Louis Public Radio.  The show actually airs in the morning, but they conveniently rebroadcast it at 10:00.  Last night's interesting show was about severe weather and storm warnings.  Although I didn't stay awake to hear the whole thing, the first part was about tornadoes, and they kept referring to categories.  I've heard of hurricane categories, but wasn't familiar with any others, so this morning I did a bit of research.

Turns out that tornadoes are measured on the Fujita Tornado Scale (or "F Scale"), which was developed in 1971 by Professor Theodore Fujita of the University of Chicago.  It classifies tornadoes according to wind speed and damage. The categories are based upon the estimated maximum winds occurring within the funnel, and the intensity of a tornado is determined afterwards by doing a survey of the damage

In case you're curious, here's the Fujita Scale:

(FO) Gale Tornado (40 - 72 mph)
Light damage: some damage to chimneys, breaks branches off trees, pushes over shallow-rooted trees, and damages sign boards.

(F1) Moderate Tornado (73 - 112 mph)
Moderate damage:  The lower limit (73 mph) is the beginning of hurricane wind speed, peels surfaces of roofs, mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned, and moving autos pushed off roads.

(F2) Significant Tornado (112 - 157 mph)
Considerable damage:  Roofs torn off the frames of houses, mobile homes demolished, boxcars pushed over, large trees snapped or uprooted, and heavy cars lifted off ground and thrown.

(F3) Severe Tornado (158 - 206 mph)
Severe damage:  Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses, trains overturned, most trees in forest uprooted, and heavy cars lifted off ground and thrown.

(F4) Devastating Tornado (207 - 260 mph)
Devastating damage:  Well-constructed houses leveled, structures blown off weak foundations, and cars and other large objects thrown about.

(F5) Incredible Tornado (261 - 318 mph)
Incredible damage:  Strong frame houses are lifted off foundations and carried a considerable distance and disintegrated, automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters, and trees debarked.

(F6+) Inconceivable Tornado (319 - 379 mph)
The maximum wind speed of tornadoes is not expected to reach the F6 wind speeds.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Map It

Because I was just a teensy bit busy last week with Brian's wedding,  I didn't put as much time as I should have into my census job. That's changing this week.

When I finished Enumerator training and started doing actual work, I received a binder with an Assignment Area  (or AA) that I need to complete and blank census forms for the houses in the area that did NOT return the one mailed to their house.  Those are the ones I'm visiting.  In addition to the census forms, the binder also contains detailed maps of the AA; each house is indicated by a map spot which was collected last year by Enumerators (using a hand held computer equipped with GPS) during the address canvassing portion of the census.

It's taken me more than a week, and several drives through the area, but I've managed to talk to someone at the vast majority of houses in the first AA, and yesterday I received a second binder and set of paperwork.  When I opened up the new binder and looked at the area I'd be going to, I realized it contained several subdivisions close to mine, which I'd also covered last year as an address canvasser.  The map spots on those maps were mine!  I did a good job on them, if I do say so myself. They were evenly spaced and equidistant from the road, mirroring the equal-sized yards and house setbacks of the subdivision.

As I worked in the area this evening, I had a sense of déjà vu.  I already knew the twists and turns of the roads from walking through them last year, and I remember standing in front of some of those very same houses.  Since I know it will take multiple trips through this new area before it's completed, I bet I'll soon know it like the back of my hand!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I'm now blessed to have three biological children and a wonderful new daughter.  Brian and Nicole's wedding on Saturday was magical. Although the weather was cooler than normal, Friday's clouds had disappeared, and the ceremony took place on a patio overlooking the Missouri River under a beautiful blue sky.  As Nicole and Brian said their vows, two hawks soared through the sky above the river.

At the end of the ceremony Kristin, the minister, asked Brian and Nicole to face each other and hold hands.  She then bestowed this blessing that brought tears to my eyes:
These hands holding yours on your wedding day are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.
These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years and, with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes - tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one and that will give you strength when you need it.
And lastly, these are the hands that, even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching out for yours still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just touch.
I'm still working my way through the pictures from the weekend, but here's one of Tony and me before the ceremony with the river in the background.  I don't remember feeling a gust of wind, but there must have been , because my skirt is really blowing!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Countdown To A Wedding

We're leaving tomorrow morning for Columbia, Missouri.  Son Brian's wedding is late afternoon Saturday, on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.  Needless to say, I'm incredibly excited.  The next few days will be a flurry of activities leading up to the main event.

I'm making a pile of things to take to make sure I don't forget anything.  In addition to all the normal things you bring for a trip out of town, there's:
  • The Dress
  • Undergarments
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry and a selection of possible hair accessories
  • An outfit for the rehearsal and dinner afterwards
  • The gift
The rehearsal and dinner are tomorrow night.  While the women are primping on Saturday, the men will be hanging out, then getting spiffed up themselves. We'll rendezvous in time for the ceremony.  The reception will be held at the same location, so there won't be a lot of driving involved.  After a good night's sleep on Saturday, we'll get back on the road Sunday to come home.

Whew!  It will be quite a weekend.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'm doing a little computer spring cleaning today, and as part of it I went through my Internet bookmarks. It's amazing how some I relied on regularly months (or years) ago aren't useful anymore.  There are some, though, that I refer to time after time.  Some of the more interesting ones:

BookCrossing-which bills itself as The World's Biggest Free Book Club.  It's popular enough that in 2004 the word was added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, where it's defined as the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.  It's always fun to get an e-mail indicating someone has released a book in my neighborhood.  Sometimes they're gone by time I get there, but I've been able to find a couple of real gems thanks to BookCrossing.

I've been sending 123 Greetings' e-cards for years.  Although there are a lot of sites that offer electronic greetings, 123 Greetings is free and has nice cards. That's enough to make it my default choice.

A friend recommended Paperback Swap a while back. It's an online book swap where you can trade books for just the cost of postage. The site works on a credit system. Most books you request cost one credit, but audio books cost two credits--still a great deal. You receive credits for each book you mail to another member.

Slickdeals is a compilation of deals, coupons, and bargains that are submitted by members.  Although many of them are Internet-based, there's also a good selection of deals from brick-and-mortar stores, and a separate tab for coupon offers.

Check A Charity is sponsored by the Attorney General of Missouri. It has information (voluntarily submitted by charities) about the percentage of donations that go to their charitable purpose and what percentage is used for administrative costs. Helpful when deciding where to send my money!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Plants Like Fresh Air, Too

It's starting to get warmer, so I moved some of my houseplants outside today. I think they enjoy the sun and fresh air after the dreary winter.

On the left is the pineapple plant I started from a plant top last spring.  Can you see the brown tips on the leaves? For a while I didn't think it was going to make it through the winter, but I moved it to a sunnier spot on the window seat and stepped up the humidity around it, so it survived.  I'm hoping it will it thrive now that it's outside.  The one in the middle is the ginger root that I'm attempting to grow.   One shoot is several inches long, and a second shoot is just starting to poke out.  The plant on the right is a philodendron. Some of its leaves are sporting mysterious tooth marks. I'm sure it wasn't Tony or me munching on it, so it must have been the cats

Right now all the plants are pushed up against the house in case the weather turns cool again.  If it gets really chilly, I can always put them back on the window seat in the kitchen, but I hope I don't have to do that.