Sunday, October 31, 2010

Coupon Queen

I've been buying Entertainment coupon books for years.  It started when the boys sold them as a fundraiser when they were in Cub Scouts.  When they "graduated" to Boy Scouts and stopped selling them, I relied on younger siblings of their friends or neighborhood youngsters. Now that those kids have gotten too old,  I get one each year from someone at work selling them on behalf of their children.

The book is a great deal.  I usually recoup my investment within the first month, and then we use it to find and try out restaurants we haven't been to before.  Each year I only redeem a small percentage of the coupons, most of which expire on November 1st.  Every October I try to see how many I can use up before I have to toss the book; the last week of the month is always a mad frenzy of couponing.  This year was no exception.

Most of the Entertainment coupons are of the "buy one item, get one free" variety.  Since Tony's out of town right now, those weren't particularly useful for me.  Last week I looked carefully through the book and pulled out a handful of coupons that offered completely free items or a specific dollar amount off an order, and used them to eat (and drink) cheaply all weekend:
  • Thursday on the way home from work I used a coupon for a free iced coffee at McDonald's.  Attached to the cup were two Monopoly game pieces.  One of the pieces was for a free large beef sandwich!
  • Friday for lunch I went back to a McDonald's to get my free sandwich. The weather was beautiful, so I got the burger to go and ate in my car while I listened to the radio.  Instead of buying fattening fries, I paired the sandwich with some healthy carrot sticks I'd brought from home, and finished off the meal with an apple.
  • After McDonald's I went to the mall to do some shopping.  While I was there I followed my nose to Auntie Anne’s, where I turned in my coupon for a free pretzel. (I shared the store's BOGO coupon with the woman behind me in line, who seemed thrilled.)
  • It was hours before dinnertime, but I didn't want to go out again during rush hour, so on my way home from the mall, I stopped at Bandana's BBQ. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich which came with one side item--I chose potato salad, and asked for the bun to be wrapped separately from the meat, so I could heat later. After subtracting my $5.00 coupon, my meal cost $1.89.  When it was time to eat, I put the parts of the sandwich together, squirted on BBQ sauce from the package they'd provided, and paired it with green pepper chunks and some frozen grapes for dessert.
  • Today I used my last two coupons.  I got a grilled chicken sandwich with fries at Cecil Whittaker’s (which cost just under $2.00), and a free cup of hot coffee at McDonald's.  I brought both home, arranged the food on a plate, then added the rest of Friday's green pepper and a glass of chocolate milk.  I finished the meal with a pear...but saved the cup of coffee later in the afternoon when I needed a caffeine fix..
I didn't do a great job of cleaning up after myself as the weekend went along, and by tonight the counter top was cluttered with more bags, paper napkins, and carryout containers than I'd seen in quite some time.  I tore the paper products into small pieces and added them to the compost pile, tossed anything recyclable into the bin, and threw the rest in the trashcan. Very easy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I was watching an episode of Good Eats on the Food Network last night.  It was called "All Hallows Eats", and was about homemade Halloween treats--candy apples, candy corn, and popcorn balls.  Every time the show goes to a commercial they feature a fact or some trivia on the screen; that's how I learned that today (October 30th) is National Candy Corn Day.

Candy corn is one of my favorite sweets. The yellow, orange, and white kernel-shaped candies are an example of a mellow cream, a type of candy made from corn syrup and sugar that has a marshmallow-like flavor.  According to Wikipedia, George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company created the candy in the 1880s. The sweet copy of dried corn kernels was originally made by hand in a very labor-intensive procedure, and were only available on a seasonal basis.  Now everything is done by machine, and the candy is available year-round.  You can even buy it in non-traditional seasonal color combinations. (Pastel-colored Bunny Corn for Easter, anyone?)

In honor of the day, I briefly thought about making a batch of candy using Alton Brown's recipe, but decided against it; I'd probably end up eating it all myself.   The recipe yielded 60 to 80 pieces; that's a dangerous amount of candy for one person to have in the house, especially when candy corn is one of their weaknesses.  Instead, I'll go to the store and buy the smallest package of candy corn I can find.  You can't let a holiday like this pass without celebrating it in some way!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Just like last year, today the students of the preschool I work at went to the retirement center next door for trick or treating.  Many of the center's residents were sitting in the communal area by the front door, and the students moved from person to person receiving goodies.  When they were done there, they walked down the halls of the building's first floor and got candy from the residents that chose to sit in front of their apartments.  I work in the two-year old classroom, so most of the students had no clue what trick or treating was all about at first, but they quickly caught on.  The boy I was shepherding had an infectious smile and the sweetest way of looking the residents in the eye to say "Thank You" that made many of them smile.

Last year I dressed in a Hawaiian muumuu and lei and wore a flower in my hair.  This year, though, I spend too much time on the floor to wear a dress, so I needed a different costume.  I found a set of lime-green scrubs at a resale shop and went as a nurse.  It was the most comfortable Halloween costume I've worn in years; the pants had an elastic waist, and the shirt was soft and baggy.

After work I had to make a couple of stops, and I didn't feel at all uncomfortable wearing my costume into the stores.  When I got home I kept the same clothes on, because I was going to use it again tonight when I attended the school's Trunk or Treat celebration.

I've never been to a Trunk or Treat (where children trick-or-treat from car trunk to car trunk) before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I got to the school just as things were getting started. There were 16 cars arranged in a U shape around the parking lot. Each of them had their trunks open, and many were decorated in some way.  Once the trick or treating started, the kids went from car to car collecting goodies.  Although they were predominantly preschoolers from the school, there were also a few siblings.  I got to see a few of the kids from my class, and some that I worked with last year.  I also got to talk with the parents of both current and former students.

There was a photographer taking pictures and an inflatable movie screen showing cartoons, but once the trick or treating was done I decided to leave.  Once the sun went down it got quite cold, and I only had a jacket.

And The Winner Is...

Betsy!  Congratulations.

This was my first give-away, and I was surprised how few people entered to win the gift certificate to any CSN store.  However, I was looking for a way to thank the people who read (and comment) here regularly, so I was glad to see familiar names in the comments section.

This morning I used the random number generator at to select the winner.

Thanks to everyone who entered. I had a lot of fun with this, and hope to do it again sometime.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time Is Running Out...

Tomorrow's the big day!  I'm GIVING AWAY a gift certificate for any CSN store to one lucky reader.  For all the details, look here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

See You Later, Alligator

This morning I said goodbye to Tony, who left for a training class in Kansas City.  When he went for training last fall he was gone six weeks, but this session will be much shorter--only two and a half weeks.

For the next 16 days I'll be doing all of the household chores, starting immediately. Tomorrow is trash day, and since Tony isn't here to do it I need to make sure the cans are out at the curb first thing in the morning.  I also need to pay the bills that came in today's mail, another job that I usually don't do.  Tony also takes care of feeding the cats in the morning, so they'll be waking me up in the morning when it's breakfast time!

There are some advantages to being on my own, though.  I can eat where, what, and when I want.  The only dirty dishes and clothes will be mine, and if I want to leave them laying around, no one will be here to complain.  I can watch whatever I want to on TV, and watch as many chick flicks as I want.

I suspect Tony will be home before I know it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Feature Attraction

A while back I bought a Groupon for two tickets at a STLCinema. The chain has four locations to choose from, but I really wanted to go to the Moolah Theater. This afternoon Tony and I did just that.

The single screen Moolah is housed in a renovated Shiner temple that was built in 1913.  (In addition to the theater, the building also has a lounge, a small bowling alley, and loft apartments.)  We got there just as the doors were opening at 1:40 for our 2:00 matinée. There were several groups of people ahead of us, but it didn't take long to get our tickets for The Social Network.  In addition to the regular concession stand there's a full bar available, but we decided to go with the traditional popcorn and soda.  Tony bought it while I used the rest room, then we entered the high-ceilinged theater and picked out one of the leather couches arranged on the main floor.

Yep, couches.  Although the theater also has rows of stadium seats at the back of the room (and a balcony that's open on the weekends), they also have dozens of couches arranged in front of the screen with small end tables in between to set your drinks and snacks on. The theater has a huge screen (20' X 45'), which turned out to be a bit of a problem.  Halfway through the previews, I realized that we were sitting too close; I was already getting a headache.  Fortunately, there was an empty couch in the row behind us, so we  picked up our things and moved.  Problem solved.

 Once the movie started, it seemed natural to cuddle up against Tony, just as I would if we were at home.  I really enjoyed the movie about the founding of Facebook. Two hours passed quickly, and all too soon the final credits came on.  The house lights came up, and it was time to leave the theater.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shine On

Did you know that tonight's full moon was special?  It's the hunter's moon, the first full moon after the harvest moon (which is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox).  Traditionally, the crops were harvested and then people hunted to accumulate food for the winter. The hunter's moon provided plenty of light to hunt by.

Tony and I took a walk after dinner.  It was starting to get cloudy, and we watched the moon slip in and out of the clouds.   It didn't provide a whole lot of light, but we didn't really need it. Tonight's route took us through a subdivision, where street lights provided plenty of illumination, and through the grounds of the local high school, where a football game was being played.  The lights of the field were so bright it completely blocked out the moon.

I don't know if there's a Hunter's Moon theme song, but the whole time I was walking I had the song "Shine On, Harvest Moon" stuck in my head.  When we got home I was waiting for Tony to open the garage door so we could go inside and I did a little soft-shoe dance to go along with the music in my brain.  My body was silhouetted against the garage door as it went up.

According to the Farmer's Almanac, the Native American tribes that lived in what is now the northern and eastern United States kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon.  They are:
  • January – Wolf moon
  • February – Snow moon
  • March – Worm moon
  • April – Pink moon
  • May – Flower moon
  • June – Strawberry moon
  • July – Buck moon
  • August – Sturgeon moon
  • September – Corn moon
  • October – Hunter moon
  • November – Beaver moon
  • December – Cold moon

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm So Excited

It's  time for a giveaway!

Last week I wrote about furniture and CSN Stores.  After the post was published they were nice enough to send me a $45 online gift certificate, which I'm ready to give away!

The certificate is good for ANY product at ANY CSN store.  (There are more than 200!)  To enter, just leave a comment and tell me which of their eleven categories of stores (Furniture; Home Décor; Kitchen and Dining; Home Improvement; Patio and Garden;  Baby and Kids; Luggage, Bags, and Shoes; Health and Fitness; Pet; Office; or School) you'd choose from if you won.

The contest will end on October 27th  I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner, and post their name

Monday, October 18, 2010

Be Good, Johnny

 Did you know that American music icon Chuck Berry is celebrating his 84th birthday today?

Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was born October 18, 1926, and still going strong, playing at least once a month around town. I was fortunate to see him a couple of years ago.  I have no doubt that if I went to his concert this week he'd still be rocking.

In honor of his big day, here's some vintage rock and roll "goodness":

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Once a month or so Tony gets together with a group of friends for a poker night. While the men are playing, the women gather separately.  We go out to dinner, then back to someone's house for socializing.  I found out a few days ago that tonight was my turn to host.  I started thinking about a place to eat and took a good look around the house.  Time for a bit of deferred maintenance!

I always use occasions like this as motivation to do bigger cleaning jobs around the house.  I washed the windows on the main level (inside and outside), dusted the light in the two-story foyer, and lifted up the edges of the area rug in the dining room to clean under them.

This morning I swept the front porch, dead headed a few flowers, and trimmed some wayward greenery.  As I was doing the outside chores, I noticed the planter on the edge of the front porch.  It was empty because I forgot to ask the cat sitter to water those plants while we were on vacation. Everything was dead when we returned, and I never got around to putting in something else.  The planter needed something in it, so I decided I'd go to the hardware store and buy something to make it look pretty.

The Big Box store has a Garden Center at one end, with a selection of plants on benches outside. At this time of year, there aren't a whole lot of options for color. I saw mums of different sizes, and a few sad-looking pansies.  I was ready to buy some small mum plants at two dollars each, but decided to look inside to see if there was anything else.  Much to my delight, there was a plant shelf across from the register holding Ornamental Kale plants.  The shelf had a sign indicating these plants were 75 cents each, but that amount had been crossed out-each plant was now only 25 cents.  What a deal!  At that price, many of the plants had seen better days, but I picked out eight decent looking ones. The plants had small green leaves with smooth wavy edges, and the interior rosette was a beautiful red-purple color.

I made my purchase, and hurried home to get my plants in the ground.  The tag said to space the plants 8 to 12 inches apart, but I crammed the eight small specimen into my planter, setting them only a couple of inches apart so I could have immediate fullness. I don't have to worry about crowding; based on my past experience, the plants in this planter die after the first hard frost, so these new ones won't have a whole lot of time to get bigger.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Coming Soon!

The past couple of days I've been having fun doing some Internet fantasy furniture shopping. Isn't this drop leaf table beautiful?  It actually folds out to make a full-sized table.

I don't really need more furniture, so why was I browsing?  Because Sean from CSN Stores asked me to!

Sean contacted me this week, asking if I would be interested in helping promote their products. I wasn't familiar with the company, so I did a little research. I found out that CSN is an e-commerce company that has over 200 online stores. Each store only focuses on one type of product, and has a wide selection of merchandise. If you need it, I bet you could find it on one of their sites!

The company will soon be sending me a gift certificate that I will give to one of the wonderful people who visit here.  Stay tuned for details!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Safe Seat

Time to leave Phoenix and come back to reality.

We packed our bags, said goodbye to Son Tony, and headed towards the airport.  Our first stop was a Subway restaurant to get food for lunch.  I was surprised (but pleased) they'd be ready to make me a Spicy Italian sandwich at 9:30 in the morning.

We dropped the rental car off and took the shuttle to the airport.  Our group arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare, only to find out the plane was running late.  We ended up boarding almost 45 minutes late, but we had a bit of free entertainment while we waited--one of the flight stewards was sitting on the floor next to the boarding area softly strumming a guitar while he waited to start working.

At the gate they made an announcement that the plane was completely full.  Brian, Nicole, and Donald took seats in a row close to the back of the plane. Tony and I sat in front of them-he was by the window, and I optimistically sat by the aisle.  As the majority of passengers filed in, no one chose to take the empty seat between us.  I was hopeful that they were wrong and I'd end up with no one next to me.  However, one of the last people to get on was a was tall, big, muscular man.  Guess which row he decided on?

I moved over to the center to be next to Tony and settled in for a long flight.  The man raised his armrest because the room in his seat wasn't quite enough. In talking with my new seatmate, I found out he was an ex-NFL offensive lineman.  He was a nice guy, and seemed to be apologetic about infringing on my space.

The plane stopped in Kansas City and when we got to choose new seats our group moved up to the front.  I told Tony I was taking the aisle seat, and he could do whatever he wanted.  He sat by the window.  Unfortunately, the flight was completely full again, but this time I got to share the row with a petite lady.  Life was good.

The plane landed, and we caught the shuttle to the parking garage.  It only took a couple of minutes after we got home for the family to start scattering back to their homes.  What a great vacation!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Are You In or Out?

Another day, another adventure with the family in Phoenix.

I woke up early and went out to Son Tony's patio to enjoy the beautiful weather.  In the summer temperatures of 115° weren't uncommon (and "lows" in the 90s), but this weekend it was quite pleasant.  Tony joined me, and before too long we heard other people stirring in the house.  It was time to start the day with breakfast.

After breakfast the parade of showers started. Even with two bathrooms, it takes a long time for six people to get ready in the morning.  Fortunately for some of the family, it was Sunday, which means NFL football.  Arizona is only one time zone behind St. Louis, but since it doesn't change to daylight savings time in the summer, the time this weekend was two hours ahead of what we're used to.  That means that the football game that comes on at noon at home started at 10:00 in the morning!

Finally everyone was ready to leave.  Our destination was Scottsdale.  Just like every other trip this weekend, we'd be in two cars. Son Tony drove the first one (with his brothers and Nicole in the car) with Tony and me following in the rental car.  I knew we were stopping for lunch first, but I was surprised when we pulled into a fast-food parking lot. Then I noticed we were at In-N-Out Burger, a chain we don't have at home.  I got excited.

I've heard people talk about how good the food is at In-N-Out.  I've also heard about their "secret" menu, which are off-menu preparations that you can order if you're in the know.  Thanks to Tony's expertise, I knew that if I ordered my burger "Animal Style" I'd get a sandwich that had mustard fried into the meat patties as they cook, then topped with lettuce and tomato, pickles, grilled onions and extra spread (sauce). The sandwich was messy, gooey, and wonderful.

We got back in the cars and drove to downtown Scottsdale. Sadly, since it was Sunday many of the small stores were closed.  Our group split up; some of us went to the mall and others hit a Borders across the street.  We rendezvoused later in the afternoon and drove back to Tony's for a BBQ feast, which included grilled tri-tip (a cut of beef new to me), chicken, and sausage.  There was an awesome Asian cole slaw, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and apple pie for dessert. Everyone pitched in on the cooking and cleanup.

After dinner we talked, played games, and talked some more.  Some of us watched more football.  As I was headed to bed, the kids were getting ready to start a movie.  They asked me if I wanted to watch, but I wasn't ready for a two-hour commitment so I declined


Of COURSE you're aware that today is October 10, 2010, which can also be written as 10-10-10.  Hope your day is as perfect at the date.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Long Climb

Today was Day 2 of our Phoenix adventure. Son Tony continued being the perfect tour guide and picked out a great activity for us.  We climbed Camelback Mountain, which is a peak in the middle of the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Tony's climbed Camelback multiple times since he's moved to the area, so he knew all the ins and outs.  He told everyone to bring old clothes and sturdy shoes; he provided the knowledge, and lots of Gatorade and water.

After breakfast we got ready to go.  Before we left, everyone put on sunscreen and loaded up their packs with liquids.  The mountain was about a half-hour's drive from Tony's house, which gave me a chance to see the city in daylight.  When we got close, we stopped at a gas station and used the bathroom, because there aren't any at the trail head. We had to park several blocks away from the mountain and walk in on a subdivision street, which was an easy warm up for the main event.

There are two trails up the mountain; we took the Cholla Trail, which was 1.5 miles long and had an elevation gain of 1,200 feet.  At the trail head it looked like a normal hiking trail, but soon the gravel path turned to a boulder-strewn path. Two-thirds of the way up it got more difficult, and close to the summit the only semblance of a trail was blue paint splotches on the rocks guiding the way.

I thought about stopping once, not far from the top, but at that point I'd come too far to not make it all the way, so I pushed on.  I was glad I did.  The view from the top was incredible.  You could see for miles.  It was well worth the effort.

(Brian's picture)

Of course, what you climb you also have to descend.  On the way up our party had stayed somewhat together, with the faster climbers stopping occasionally to let the others catch up.  On the way down the young people left Tony and I to fend for ourselves.  It wasn't too bad as long as I went slow.  I was wearing walking shoes, which worked ok, although I could have used something with a little more tread and higher sides. I had to stop several times to remove pebbles that had worked their way in.

After we got back the bottom we had to walk back to the cars.  The trip was much longer than I remembered, but there was a cooler full of cold water waiting for us, which really hit the spot.

For lunch Tony took us to another interesting restaurant called Chino Bandido Takee-Outee. It serves an interesting fusion of Chinese, Mexican, and jerked food.  My plate contained Jade Chicken, Carnitas, Cuban black beans and jerk fried rice, which all tasted good after my exercise!

Friday, October 8, 2010

By The Time I Get to Phoenix

Earlier in the year Son Tony moved to Phoenix for work.  This weekend the rest of the family traveled to Arizona to visit him.

The weeks leading up to the adventure were a flurry of emails and phone calls confirming trip logistics and flight details. To make it easy, everyone gathered at our house--Donald came after work on Thursday night, and Brian and Nicole drove in from Columbia in the morning.  I cooked a pot of pasta for lunch, and we filled our stomachs before we said goodbye to the cats and headed for the airport.

The adventure started right away. Friday was the first day they used full body imaging machines at Lambert Field to screen passengers.  According to what I'd read in the newspaper, the imaging was optional.  However, was a somewhat deceptive term.  The TSA officers picked people to go through the machine; you had the option to do it or choose an alternative screening.  In our group, Tony, Brian, and Donald weren't selected but both Nicole and I were.

I stood sideways in a two-sided portal, put my feet on some marked spots, and raised my hands above my head.  Fifteen seconds later, the scan was finished, but I had to stand outside the machine until an off-site operator looked at my scan to verify I didn't have anything illegal on my body.  I was glad I didn't opt-out; a woman in front of me who declined to be scanned was pulled off to the side, where a female TSA officer was giving her a physical pat-down.

The rest of the flight passed uneventfully.  We arrived in Phoenix and caught a shuttle to the huge consolidated car rental building.  All of the companies were in one place-offices on the main level and car pickup in a parking garage below.  Tony had to do a bit of haggling with the rental clerk to get the car size we'd reserved and fend off all the upsell options, but soon we had wheels.

Son Tony was meeting us after work at La Tolteca, a Mexican restaurant/store purported to serve the best food in central Phoenix.  The four guys decided to get a super combination platter--four kinds of meat, served with tortillas, rice, and beans.  Not even my men could eat all of it!  I had an awesome Cuban torta, and Nicole had a combination plate.  Several people ordered Agua Fresca- a drink made from fruit combined with sugar and water.  I got to taste each flavor and try to figure out what kind of fruit it was.

Tony lives in a northwest suburb of the metropolitan area, so after dinner we piled into the two cars and drove to his new house.  Instead of trees and grass lining the sides of the road, there was gravel and cactus, punctuated by the occasional bougainvillea bush.  We arrived at his house, took the Grand Tour, and talked for a little bit before going to bed.  Tony had a big adventure planned for the next day...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Freshman Perspective

Every year since 1998, Beloit College has released their Mindset List, which provides a look at the cultural references that have shaped the lives of students entering college this fall.

The majority of the class of 2014 was born in 1992; this list makes me feel really old:

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”

4. Al Gore has always been animated.

5. Los Angelenos have always been trying to get along.

6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.

7. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.

8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.

10. Entering college this fall in a country where a quarter of young people under 18 have at least one immigrant parent, they aren't afraid of immigration...unless it involves "real" aliens from another planet.

11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.

14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.

18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.

22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.

23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.

24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.

25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.

26. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.

27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

29. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.

30. “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.

31. The first home computer they probably touched was an Apple II or Mac II; they are now in a museum.

32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.

34. “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always offered an alternative to the hospital.

35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.

36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.

37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.”

38. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

39. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.

40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.

41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

42. Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.

43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.

46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.

48. Someone has always gotten married in space.

49. While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States.

50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.

51. Food has always been irradiated.

52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.

53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?

54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy.

55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.

56. They may have assumed that parents’ complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.

57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.

58. Beethoven has always been a good name for a dog.

59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola’s new Tab Clear, it was gone.

60. Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.

61. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.

62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

63. Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.

64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.

65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church.

67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.

68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.

69. It seems the Post Office has always been going broke.

70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.

71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.

72. One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been.

73. Silicone-gel breast implants have always been regulated.

74. They've always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi (SYFY) Channel.

75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Recollections

There's a chill in the air, and it's getting dark earlier. Must be fall.

Back in the spring I decorated the master bedroom with light-colored linens and accessories. All of a sudden they don't seem appropriate anymore. It's time for the duskier colors of the "winter" bed coverings and their coordinating decorations.

Most of the knick knacks and artwork  I use at this time of the year are a motley collection of things I've picked up from clearance tables, thrift stores, and garage sales.  However, there are a couple of special items that remind me of people or places:

  • The drawing on the left is me as envisioned by a Jamaican street artist in 2000. (Montego Bay was one of the ports on a family cruise vacation.)  The artist did a good job, but he took a long time, and the boys were very antsy by time he finished!
  • The streaks-of-watercolor picture was done by Son Brian back when he was in kindergarten or early elementary school.  I think it's nicely composed, considering how old he was.  The Guadalupe card stuck in the corner came from a bi-lingual Mass (and awesome luncheon) we attended a couple of years ago.
  • The green silk pillow cover is one of a pair we got on our trip to China in 2005.  I actually bought several sets of the covers, and gave them as souvenirs, because they were inexpensive and easy to carry in our luggage.  
  • The off-white pillow was a Christmas present from my sister-in-law.  I think it was almost two decades ago--how did the time pass so quickly?  She embroidered it herself, which amazed me because she had several small children at the time. 
  • The small figurine was a birthday present (I think from my friend Sydney).  Because my birthday's in January, there's a garnet-colored crystal at the top of it, and the angel has garnet-colored wings.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Can't Drive 55

Today Tony and I headed west on a road trip to Columbia, MO.  We were almost halfway there when I the "D" drive light on the dashboard started blinking.  I hoped the issue was the same one I had several years ago. That time the transmission dipstick had become loose; after I seated it in the hole tightly the blinking went away.  We had already planned to make a pit stop in Warrenton (the next exit), so I spent the next six miles driving and trying not to look at the flashing light.

When we got to the gas station in Warrenton I checked the transmission fluid, which was full and clean.  I made sure the dipstick was in tight, then we used the station's bathroom and got back on the highway.  Within two miles the "D" light was blinking again.  Now I started to worry.  It's no fun to get stuck on the side on a highway in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, the next exit was five minutes down the road, and it had a large gas station/convenience store.  Tony called Brian, let him know the situation, and asked him to look up the issue on his computer.  Brian suggested we try to find an Auto Zone, where they could do a computer diagnostic check and get the code.  I asked the convenience store clerk, who told me there was one in back in Warrenton which we could get to without getting back on the highway.  I noticed that on the outer road, driving between 55 and 60 miles per hour, the light did NOT blink.

The salesperson at Auto Zone was very nice.  It only took a few minutes for him to get the error code from the car's computer, and then a couple of minutes in the store to figure out what the code meant.  It was definitely a transmission issue, but probably just a sensor.  With the code number, I called our regular car repair place, explained the situation, and asked for guidance.  A couple of minutes later I had an answer: it was probably a "third gear pressure switch" (whatever that is).

After a bit of debating, Tony and I decided going to Columbia was probably not a good idea. We'd try to get the car home.  Driving at 70 miles per hour the light blinked, but at a lower speed it didn't, so all I'd have to do is drive slower (like a "grandma").  I set the cruise control for 55 miles per hour, well over the minimum of 40 mph, but nowhere close to the speed of the rest of the traffic.  A long series of cars and trucks came up behind me, went around me, and zoomed away.  One driver actually honked as he passed by.  I took the high road and ignored him. Going slow got easier as I got closer to the metropolitan area, because the maximum speed gets lower.  The limit on Interstate 70 drops to 65 mph around Wentzville, and when we got onto Interstate 64 the limit dropped to 60, pretty darn close to my self-imposed speed.

We made it home with no problems, emptied out the car, then dropped it off at the auto repair.  It was too late for them to look at it today, but they promised to take care of it Monday.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's A Jungle In Here!

The seasons they are a changin'  This is what the window seat in the kitchen looked like before breakfast:

After I brought the plants in from outside, it looked like this:

That's not even all of them.  A few, like the Christmas cactus, are still outside (the brisk evenings help them set buds), and some are upstairs in the master bathroom because I didn't know exactly where to go with them.  Over the next few days, I'll be rearranging things until everything is in its winter home.