Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Half Baked

The mall I work at has designated employee parking areas on the fringes of the mall property. In these areas, there are a couple of prime spaces that aren't completely exposed to the elements. On Monday and Thursday when I open the Customer Service desk I can usually nab one of them. Wednesday and Thursday I start my shift after lunch, and have to grab whatever space is available. Today all the prime spaces were long gone. I parked the car, checked to make sure I had everything I needed, and locked the door behind me as I went into the building.

In the afternoon I always get hungry, and I've learned to bring a piece of fruit with me and leave it on the passenger seat of my car to eat on the way home. That way I'm not ravenous when I walk in the door and eat everything in sight. Today the fruit was a nice juice Gala apple. I've been eating a lot of berries and stone fruits, and was looking forward to a change of pace.

At the end of the day I walked out to my car, got in, and grabbed the fruit as I started the ignition. The apple smelled extra fruity, and was hot (almost too hot to hold). The skin had lost its sheen, and instead of bright red it was almost brown. When I bit into it I was surprised that the color and texture of the fruit had changed, too, almost as if it was partially baked! It was different, but good. By the time I got on the highway nothing was left but a small core, which I threw into a plastic container that had held my lunch.

I started this job a year ago, so why haven't I had this problem before? I don't know, but I suspect it has to do with my work schedule. Last summer I worked more evening shifts, so my car spent less time in the direct sun. For the rest of this year's hot weather I'll either have to start taking my snack in with me, or get used to hot fruit.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Everyday's A Holiday

Hubby Tony and I were watching the baseball Cardinals game tonight.  (They beat the Marlins 5-2.)  As the broadcast was wrapping up, for some reason one of the announcers mentioned today was Chocolate Pudding Day.

I love pudding, but haven't eaten it in quite some time.  We usually have a box of instant in the pantry and I thought briefly about making it in honor of the day, but since it was getting close to bedtime I passed.  The pudding reference got me thinking, though.  I know there's a multitude of crazy holidays each month.  A Google search led me to Holidays for Everyday that told me the notable events and celebrations for June 26th were:

  • Maria's Birthday (Sesame Street)
  • Toothbrush invented 1498
  • Bicycle patented 1819
  • National Chocolate Pudding Day
  • Bar Code birthday 1974

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Save Some Time To Dream

As happens most Sundays, today Son Donald came to hang out.  For dinner I made a big bowl of Oven Fried Rice and frozen egg rolls, and Donald stir fried green beans.  (Hubby Tony was in charge of setting the table and pouring drinks.)  When it was time to eat we carried all the food to the table, along with a selection of sauce packets we've accumulated from carryout Chinese.

After we ate we cleared the table, then got out the Rummikub game and started playing. Donald brought my laptop in from the family room and we listened to songs on Pandora and YouTube, swapping inspirations back and forth. One of the songs that showed up on his station reminded me of "Save Some Time To Dream" a great song by John Mellencamp from a couple of years ago.  I really like the thought-provoking lyrics:

Save some time to dream
Save some time for yourself
Don't let your time slip away
Or be stolen by somebody else
Save some time for those you love
For they'll remember what you gave
Save some time for the songs you sing
And the music that you've made

Could it be that this is all there is?
Could it be there's nothing more at all?
Save some time to dream
'Cause your dream could save us all

Save some time for sorrow
Cause it will surely come your way
Prepare yourself for failure
It will give you strength some day
Try to keep your mind open
And accept your mistakes
Save some time for living
And always question your faith

Could it be that this is all there is?
Could it be there's nothing more at all?
Save some time to dream
'Cause your dream might save us all

Cast your eyes up to heaven
Oh what does that mean to you
Try not to be too judgmental
So others will not judge you
Save some time to think
Oh before you speak your mind
Many will not understand
And to them you must to be kind

Could it be that this is all there is?
Could it be there's nothing more at all?
Save some time to dream
'Cause your dream might save us all

Oh yeah
Your dream might save us all

Friday, June 22, 2012

Comforter 2B

For several years I've changed my bedroom's "look" twice a year, encasing the comforter in a different duvet cover and swapping out the artwork and accessories. Last fall when I went to put the summer cover away on I noticed it was on its last legs and would need to be replaced, and the winter one wasn't much better.

I promptly forgot about the project until April, when it was time to switch the room again. This time I added replacing the cover to my list of things to do and started looking around. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so every time I went to a resale store I searched through the wares section.  (No luck.)  A duvet cover is essentially a very large pillowcase that covers the comforter. I figured I could use my rusty sewing skills and make my own, so I looked for flat sheets (no luck again), and investigated yard goods at the fabric store  (no luck there, either). Last month I hit the jackpot at Home Goods; I found a bagged set containing the duvet cover and two flanged pillow shams. I loved the pattern, and it only cost $25.  There was only one problem. It was a king sized set and my bed's full size.  The new bed linens WOULD be a sewing project!

I brought the set home and left it in the store bag for a few days, working out the details of the project in my mind. When I finally got up the nerve to take everything out of the package, I noticed all the pieces were edged with piping (which I haven't worked with for many years).  That was almost enough to make me return it to the store, but I put everything back in the store bag and thought about it for a few more days before I decided I could tackle this project.

The finished product.  Still looking for accessory pillows.
I started with the pillow shams, because they were smaller and easier to handle.  I had to take them completely apart, including removing the piping, so I could cut them to the correct size.  I basted the piping to the top of the sham, then sandwiched the two pieces together and used a zipper foot to sew as close as I could to the piping cord.  I did a pretty good job; there were only a few places where I had to go back and re-sew.  After the shams were turned right side out, I sewed the flange around the outside.  Done!

Time for the duvet cover. My old cover closed with a row of buttons across the top, but this new one used a zipper.  The first step was to open up the top seam and sew a new stop for the zipper, then cut off the excess.  I decided to make this cover wider than the old one (more like a queen size) so it would hang longer on the sides.  After spreading out the cover on the kitchen floor and measuring everything several times I took a deep breath and started cutting.  I removed the piping from the unused portion, then pinned it to the side of the cover, sewed it on, then closed everything up and finished by flipping the cover right side out.

If I do say so myself, the finished product looks pretty good.  A lot of the artwork still fits into this new color scheme, and I'm looking around for replacements for the stuff that doesn't.  It's almost the end of June, so I figure I have three months until the seasons change.  If I want to dress the bed with a new cover this fall, I need to get busy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hot In Herre

Today the mall was having a special marketing event, so our Customer Service desk set up an ancillary outpost next to it.  I worked there for part of my shift.  The event was held in a beautiful section of the mall with a two-story atrium and big skylights.  There was a nice stream of people coming and going, and I was able to help quite a few of them.

About an hour after I got there, I was standing at the far left end of our table when I felt it getting warmer. I looked up, and the sun was at exactly the right angle to come through the skylight and beam directly on me.  The sunlight was bad enough, but suddenly I felt a hot flash (that dreaded middle-aged female scourge) coming on, and I started to sweat.  My hair is getting long and covers my neck, which didn't help. I was experiencing a perfect storm of heat, except there wasn't anything "perfect" about it.

If I hadn't been in a public place, I would have seriously thought about taking the rapper Nelly's advice:

Its gettin hot in here 
So take off all your clothes

That wasn't an option, though. As I stood there feeling miserable, I figured out I that if the sun's angle made the light appear in my area, it would eventually disappear. For the next 20 minutes I inched down the table, staying in the area just ahead of the sun. By the time I reached the far end, the first part was back in the shade, and I was able to move back to my original spot.  Problem solved.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Toes In The Grass

Betsy at My Five Men is having another Pedi Party today. (Actually its a Mani-Pedi Party, but I don't do my fingernails, so you won't see any manicure from me!)

This morning I walked out to the compost pile barefooted. The grass felt so good on my toes, but then reality hit and I had to come in and get dressed for work.  My feet are now enclosed in knee-high hose and shoes, but I'm looking forward to setting them free later this afternoon.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Too Many Cooks...

Wasn't a problem today for Father's Day.  We had a great Mexican feast and neither Hubby Tony or I had to do much work.  Instead, Sons Brian and Donald and DIL Nicole each quarterbacked part of the meal.  (The only person missing was Son Tony; Phoenix is a bit too far to come for just a day.  However, if he'd been here I know he would have been right in the middle of things, too.)

Good thing we have a big kitchen!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Making Memories

My "thought for the day" calendar told me yesterday that I should spend time making memories.  That was a perfect idea, because I knew Son Brian and DIL Nicole were coming into town for a couple of days.  It was time for an adventure!

Last night we went to see the baseball Cardinals play against the Chicago White Sox in interleague play. It was a great night to be outside, and there was a nice friendly rivalry between the two sets of fans.  Our team won 5 to 3.

After a good night's sleep, we were ready for more exploits.  Last fall we bought a Family Pack of season passes to Six Flags.  Today we used those passes for the first time.  We got there right after the gates opened.  The park wasn't busy at all; the longest we had to wait in line for a ride was five minutes.  We were there for four hours, and in that time rode every ride on our list (some more than once).  Although I enjoyed all of them, the most unique was the retooling of the Mr. Freeze roller coaster.

Up until this year, the ride was a launched roller coaster with a 190-foot tunnel, a 180 degree inversion, a turn, and a 200-foot vertical climb. At the top of the climb the train stopped, then ran the entire course in reverse.  All this with the seats suspended from the top and your feet dangling in the air. Now it does the same thing, except the direction is reversed and you start by going backwards.  At some points you're staring face forward to the ground!

Because of all the extreme twists and turns I took my glasses off before the ride started, so everything was blurry, but if I could have seen clearly it probably would have looked something like this:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Size Me Up!

A couple of weeks ago I saw something new to me at the mall--a Me-Ality Size Matching Station. The stand-alone structure had a clear glass enclosure (which slightly resembled a Star Trek transporter) with a door on one side. Next to the door was a shelf holding a computer and monitor. An attendant was by the door inviting people to get scanned, so I decided to take her up on the offer.

I didn't know anything about the Me-Ality system, but according to the information I saw on the company Website, there are three reasons to use it:
  • Scan: In about 10 seconds, you can step into our Size Matching Station and be scanned for body measurements, fully clothed!
  • Fit: Me-Ality™ matches your exact measurements to clothes that will best fit and flatter your body shape. We make it easy for you to shop!
  • Shop: Get a personal Shopping Guide that recommends your best fitting, and best looking, styles for your body.
The first step in the process was to fill out a short registration form (name, email address, and ZIP code). I gave the form to the attendant, who typed everything into the computer. Next, she opened the door and I entered the enclosure. She told me to put my feet on the marks on the floor, lower my arms until my fingers were pointing towards my legs, and stand still while the scanning wand made two revolutions around my body.

After the scanner finished, I exited the booth and walked around to the back of the kiosk, where there was another computer screen. The clerk entered my scan number into the computer, and asked if I'd like a list of pants, jeans, or both. (I chose to get everything.) A minute later I received a printout of recommended pant sizes and styles available at the mall stores. I also found out that if I registered on their Website I could get additional recommendations for other stores.

I have a horrible time finding pants that fit, so I was excited to think that I'd have a list of specific ones that would work with my body. Since I needed a new pair of pants for work, I decided to concentrate on that list. Each of my "Size-Matched Results" came with a colored bar and arrow underneath it. The arrow indicated how well each style should fit; the farther to the right the arrow, the better the fit. I went to the retailer that had the pants that were supposed to be the best-fitting, found the correct style and size of pants, and tried them on. Unfortunately, the scanner must have been having a bad day, because the pants didn't fit well at all. They were OK through the hips, but the waist was WAY too big. Sadly, I put them back on the rack.

The Me-Ality scanner uses radio waves to measure moisture content of skin and gives a fit based on body type. Maybe my skin was too wet, or too dry, or something else was going on. I think I might try going back when I have different clothes on and see if it makes a difference.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Comments, Please

It seems like lately Blogger has been doing a lot of tinkering with its framework. Sometimes when I log into my blog I see the changes. Sometimes I don't.  And sometimes there are changes that are available, but don't happen automatically.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that many of the blogs I read had a new interesting feature--the ability to reply directly to posted comments.   Over the years I've handled responding to comments in different ways.  When I started blogging I didn't have any comments. Then as my name got out there they started trickling in. I'd take the time to reply with an additional comment on the post, but eventually decided that responding via email was more personal and started doing that. However, I'm always open to change.

After a little investigating I found out that back in January Blogger made 'threaded comment replies' available.  I tried to figure out how to turn the option on, but couldn't get it to work, so I turned to Betsy at My Five Men.  She seems to get a good conversation going with her blog post comments, so  I asked her how she got the threaded comments set up.  She said:
You have to make sure your settings for comments are set to 'full' for blog feed and 'embedded' instead of popup window or full page. Go to Settings/Other for the blog feed change and Settings/Posts and Comments for the embedded part.
With her directions it was easy to make the necessary changes.  Now, with threaded commenting enabled I guess I've come full circle; I'll start responding to all the nice comments I get on the pages of my blog again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Sights And Sounds of Nature

Our subdivision has its share of wild critters, and I'm continually amazed by things I've never seen (or heard) before

On Friday I was reading the newspaper in the family room next to an open window when I heard a steady staccato sound coming from the yard to my left.  I looked over and saw a pair of woodpeckers drilling on the side of my neighbor's deck.  It was amazing to watch them; somehow they clung onto the wood while attacking it with their long bills. They stayed there for five minutes, then flew off.  Later in the day I was getting ready to cut the grass when my neighbor came outside. I told him what I'd seen., and we went into his back yard to look at the deck.  The evidence was there--a perfectly drilled two-inch long horizontal line, with a shorter line underneath it. He told me they'd had some problems with carpenter bees in that area. I wonder if that's what the birds were going after?

Later in the day I was in the kitchen when I heard a chirping sound coming from the yard on the OTHER side of us, but when I looked there was no bird to be seen. Instead, I saw a chipmunk sitting next to the drainpipe.  It had to be him, although I didn't know there was such as thing as Chipmunk Sounds.  He chirped for a couple of minutes, then something spooked him and he ran behind a bush and disappeared.

Wonder what I'll see next?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bloomin' Amazing!

The mall where I work has planters of tropical greenery scattered throughout.  The plants are maintained by a professional company, and changed out when they start looking shabby.  When I started at the Customer Service desk last year there was a wicker basket on the corner of the desk that held an orchid plant.   The plant had six stalks, two of which had light purple blooms at the top.   The blooms lasted for a couple of months, but when they were gone and the plant was ready to be replaced the person who watered the plants asked me if I'd like it.

I've grown a lot of things, but never orchids. I've heard they had a reputation for being hard to grow, and unless something is easy I don't mess with it.  After some thought, though, I ended up bringing the plant home, figuring that if it died I wasn't out anything.

I brought the basket home and when I took the plant out I discovered a tag wedged in the bottom that told me I was now the proud owner of a Dendrobium orchid, which meant nothing to me.  The plant was in a 3 inch pot.  Instead of soil, the pot was filled with small black lava rocks!  My boss used to grow orchids, and told me that I should repot the plant.  However, I never got around to it. I put it on the east-facing window seat in the kitchen, watered it once a week, but otherwise ignored it.  I was thrilled when it sent up two new shoots right before the holidays, but nothing has come from them.

After I took home the Dendrobium, it was replaced with another orchid with bright purple flowers.  This one had a different growing pattern.  There was a single central stem with leaves on either side, and the blooms were on a spike that came from the base.  My boss told me it was a Phalaenopsis, which again meant nothing to me.  Its blooms faded right about the time the mall was being decorated for Christmas, and they gave us some poinsettias to put on the desk.  The boss set the orchid back in the storeroom for a week or so, then said he was going to toss it unless I wanted it.  Once again, I figured it wouldn't be too big of a deal to put the plant on the window seat (which by now was filled with all the plants I was overwintering inside).

It was cold the day I brought the Phalaenopsis home and the plant got chilled; for a while it didn't look like it was going to make it.  This plant was in a clear plastic pot filled with what looked like moss.  The roots were growing on top of the moss and many of them looked dead. After a few weeks, though, the leaves greened up and I saw some new healthy-looking roots.  Once again I ignored the plant except for watering it once every one or two weeks, when it got a good soak in the kitchen sink with all the other plants.

About a month ago I noticed what looked like a root growing up from the leaves.  However, it wasn't a root but a bloom spike.  It started listing to the side, so I staked it with a small piece of bamboo.  It continued to grow slowly, and eventually developed eight buds.  The buds closest to the plant got larger and larger until finally the bottom two opened:

If the plant does this well with no attention, imagine what would happen if I learned how to take care of it properly!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


This morning I sat down at my desktop computer in the kitchen and discovered the batteries in my wireless keyboard were dead. And there weren't any spares in the battery drawer.  Grrr!  Thank goodness for laptops.

I'm off to Walgreens for a pack of AAAs.  In the meantime, here's some funnies from Larry the Cable Guy.
  • A day without sunshine is like night
  • On the other hand, you have different fingers.
  • 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
  • 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
  • Remember, half the people you know are below average.
  • He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
  • Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
  • The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.
  • Support bacteria. They're the only culture most people have.
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
  • If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.
  • How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand.
  • OK, so what's the speed of dark?
  • When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
  • Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
  • How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
  • Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
  • What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?
  • Why do psychics have to ask you your name?
  • Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, 'What the heck happened?'
  • Just remember -- if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off.
  • Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • Life isn't like a box of chocolates. It's more like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today, might burn your butt tomorrow.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Yet Another Post About Bicycling

It's all Hubby Tony's fault (but that's not bad).

We're both trying to practice healthy lifestyles. Some times its easier than others, but often when one of us doesn't want to exercise the other does, and we guilt the other into joining in. On Friday we went out to dinner, and a half hour after we got home I announced we were going to take a walk.  We did.

Saturday after breakfast Tony declared it was a good day to ride our bikes.  I figured it wouldn't be polite to back out; besides it WAS a good day.  Last weekend's record-setting heat had left in the middle of the week, and the temperature was open-up-the-windows nice. Instead of riding through the nearby subdivisions, Tony decided we wanted to ride on a trail, and remembered that last fall Son Tony and I had walked on a part of the Meramec Greenway close to our house.  He suggested we try biking it.

Tony was in charge of loading up the bikes.  We used to have a carrier that attached to the back of his car and fit both bikes nicely, but last year he got a new bike with a larger frame and now that's not possible.  However, with a little effort they'll both fit in the back of my CR-V. While Tony was doing that I grabbed some snacks. We headed out a little before 10.

The ride was great fun.  This trail follows the Meramec River. It's in the flood plain, so its nice and flat! Most of the trail winds through the trees, so it was nice and shady.  The section we took is 3.3 miles, with a couple of spurs branching off. On the first half of the trip we veered off on one of them to use a restroom, and on the way back took that spur all the way to the end. Rounding everything off, we biked between 8 1/2 and 9 miles.  When we got done we sat at a picnic table next to the river and ate our snacks, then headed home.

As we were pulling into the garage Tony asked what the chances were I'd want to ride again today.  When I said yes, he left the bikes in my car, and we used his for the rest of the day.  This morning after breakfast we set out again, heading towards another trailhead for the Greenway.

There's several parks in the flood plain along the Meramec that are only nominally developed. Unger Park, where our trailhead was, is one of them. It's on the other side of the river from yesterday's adventure, tucked away off Interstate 44 behind the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park. We followed the signs to the park entrance, then drove to the first lot and parked.

We biked from Unger Park to George Winter Park (another county park), a distance of about five miles. Once again, the trail was flat, mainly shaded, and quiet. A couple of times we rode on the street, with a golf course on one side, and for part of the trip we were in a municipal park.  When we got to the end we made a loop through part of George Winter Park, stopping at a boat ramp to look at the river, then headed back. This time there were more people on the trail (especially though the park). When we arrived back at Unger, we rode to the back of the park, then doubled back. I was REALLY happy to see the car!

When we got home we ate lunch, then I read the newspaper, did some laundry, and took a nap.  Now, several hours later I can tell I'm going to have sore muscles in various parts of my body.

Tony's already planning the next biking adventure...I suspect I'll be joining him!