Friday, August 31, 2012

No Cookies And Juice For Me

I didn't donate blood until I was 49 years old, but since that time I've given fairly regularly.  Originally I'd wait until our church had a drive, but last year I discovered there's a Red Cross facility 20 minutes away from my house, and I have a meeting on Friday morning that gets me half the way there.  You can donate blood every eight weeks so now when the stars align and I have a free day after my waiting period has passed I stop in and donate.  The process takes between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on how many people are there.  When I get done I help myself to the selection of juice and cookies, then go about my day.

I've done it so often I know the system.  You sign in and read a binder of information.  Once you are taken to a room, you get your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin checked.  Then you answer a set of computerized questions, sign some papers, and move to the donation area for the Main Event.  The phlebotomist cleans the skin on the inside of your elbow, gives you a ball to squeeze, then inserts the needle.  After you've given up your pint of blood the needle is removed, a small bandage is placed on the needle site, and a dressing is wrapped around your arm.  They ask you to sit in the refreshment area for 10-15 minutes, then you can leave.

I decided that donating blood today would be a nice kickoff to the Labor Day weekend.  When I arrived there was only one other woman ahead of me, so I only had to wait a few minutes. The Mini-Physical results were good, so it was time for the questions.  They're all  about your health history and places you've traveled.  I was zipping through them, when I came upon this one:


Well, I had gone on a Caribbean cruise back in the spring.  Did that count?  Turns out it did.  My affirmative answer to that question led to a longer series of questions about where I'd gone.  Two of the ports I'd visited (Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica) didn't pose a problem, but my time in Cozumel and the ruins at Tulum did.  The Red Cross considers that an area where malaria is found, and if you've been there you have to wait 12 months before you can donate blood again.

My name is now on a "Do Not Donate" list until March 30, 2013.  I'm sad I won't be able to give blood, but there's a side benefit--I won't be getting calls from Red Cross phone solicitors reminding me it's time to donate.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

The Welcoming Prayer

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations, and conditions. I let go of my desire for power and control. I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure. I let go of my desire for survival and security. I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself. I open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within. Amen.

~ Fr Thomas Keating~

This beautiful, new-to-me prayer showed up in my Reader today, complements of Annette at In the Silence

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why? Just Because

At work today someone told me August 27th was Just Because Day. At first I thought they were pulling my leg, but later a quick Google search verified they were telling the truth.  Just Because Day is dedicated to doing out of the ordinary things," just because". I'm always looking for a reason to shake up my routine, so of course I was going to celebrate the holiday.  However, it was tough to figure out the best way to do that.

Finally I decided to stop on the way home and buy some fresh flowers, which is something I rarely have in the house...not because they're expensive or fragile, but because the cats LOVE to eat them! Roses are their favorite, but over the years they've munched on tulips, carnations, baby's breath, and cyclamen. When Hubby Tony brings home a bouquet I have to put them in the family room on the fireplace mantel, the only spot that the cats can't get to.

On the way home from work I stopped at a florist and explained what I wanted. The sales clerk suggested an orchid, but each bloom cost eight dollars, more than I wanted to spend. All of a sudden she had an inspiration, hurried into the cooler, and came out with some beautiful deep maroon Asiatic lilies. The stalks, which were two dollars each, had some spent blooms (which she took off), but also sported several unopened buds. I decided to get two stalks, and she wrapped them up in golden-yellow florist paper.

I didn't have a tall-and-skinny vase, so I had to be creative. After I cut off the lower portion of the stems, I put the flowers in a plastic shower gel bottle that was on the counter waiting to go to the recycling bin. I filled the bottle with water, then wrapped it in the florist paper and nestled the whole thing inside a larger vase. The arrangement looked quite nice in the middle of the kitchen table.

I've never had lilies in the house before and wanted to make sure that these flowers were cat-friendly, so I did a Google search. Imagine my horror when I found out that lilies are one of the worst things a cat can nibble on! After dinner the arrangement went on the fireplace mantel.   Do you think I can remember to move it back into the kitchen for our evening meals?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Funny Children's Science Exam Answers

Q: Name the four seasons.
A: Salt, pepper, mustard, and vinegar.

Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep, and canoeists.

Q: How is dew formed?
A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour?
A: Keep it in the cow.

Q: What causes the tides in the oceans?
A: The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature hates a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.

Q: What are steroids?
A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.

Q: What happens to your body as you age?
A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.

Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A: He says good-bye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.

Q: Name a major disease associated with cigarettes.
A: Premature death.

Q: How are the main parts of the body categorized? (e.g., abdomen).
A: The body is consisted into three parts - the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain; the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels, A, E, I, O, and U.

Q: What is the fibula?
A: A small lie.

Q: What does "varicose" mean?
A: Nearby.

Q: Give the meaning of the term "Caesarean Section".
A: The Caesarean Section is a district in Rome.

Q: What does the word "benign" mean?'
A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Can You Believe I Ate The Whole Thing?

Hubby Tony and I went to the Festival of Nations today.  We listened to a little music, shopped at the craft market, and wandered down the endless row of food booths.  At lunch time we picked our meals from different areas of the world.  I had Burmese food (a cuisine new to me), and was pleased with my combination bowl of seasoned vermicelli noodles and beef curry.  From the Turkish booth Tony got a donar kebab, similar to a gyro but topped with tomato sauce instead of yogurt.

Afterwards we set out on a mission to find dessert.  We walked down another long row of booths,  but when we got to one that had Mexican pastries we both stopped to look, and then buy. Tony picked a cherry empanada, and I decided on a watermelon-shaped cookie, which turned out to be as big as my hand:

It's hard to take a cell phone picture with one hand!
(And, yes, after my initial sugar rush I got a stomachache and headache. Serves me right.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

What’s In The Fridge?

Friday afternoon is one of my big cooking sessions. Today's projects were poaching chicken breasts (including taking the meat off the bones and putting the broth in the refrigerator to chill) and blanching a couple of pounds of broccoli crowns.  Before I knew it it was time to think about dinner. However, I was still full from lunch. Hubby Tony worked from home today, and we'd gotten carry-out Chinese; my "Number 6 Lunch Special" contained Szechuan Pork with fried rice, Hot and Sour Soup, and 2 Crab Rangoon. Tony wasn't famished, either, so a nice light dinner was in order.

Looking in the refrigerator, I saw a bowl of brown rice, one jalapeno pepper, an avocado that needed to be used, and the fruits of my afternoon labor. Instead of thumbing through a stack of cookbooks, it was time to let Google help me figure out my menu. I typed the key ingredients into the search bar (tonight they were avocado and broccoli) and let it find recipes.  The first page of results included salads, pastas, and soups. Soup sounded good, so after looking at several recipes I came up with this version of Broccoli-Avocado Soup:
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
4 cups chicken stock (divided)
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups broccoli, chopped
1 ripe avocado, chopped
Diced red or yellow bell pepper for garnish (optional)

Saute onion, garlic, and jalapeno in oil until onion is translucent. Add 2 cups of stock, rice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Add remaining broth and broccoli. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 additional minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat, add avocado, and puree. (I used an immersion blender. If you use a blender or food processor, probably better to do it in batches.)

Return soup to pot and heat. Ladle into bowls, garnish, and serve.
Tony got out two thick pieces of homemade wheat bread from the freezer, nuked them, and poured drinks. It was a nice night, so we carried everything out to the deck and ate there. The soup was thick and creamy, although I thought it tasted better with a little bit of hot sauce added.

This quantity of soup fed us tonight with enough left over for lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Operation Vet

Today was the day our cats Jackson and Pepper hate...their annual trip to the vet.

It's a stressful day for them.  The trip starts with a revolting car ride, and ends up at a place where there's strange smells, sounds, and people that poke them and stick needles in their haunches.  I've learned that if I'm not careful, the cats they tend to disappear right before it's time to leave for this trip, so I had to plan my maneuver carefully so I could get them in their carriers and out the door on time.

The operation started yesterday morning, when I got out the cat carriers that had been stored in the basement since last year. I wiped each out with a wet rag, removing dust, cat hair, and (hopefully) any smells from the doctor's office.  I put a dish towel in each, and set them on the kitchen floor next to the island.  Nothing out of the ordinary here!

After dinner last night I closed the doors to two of the upstairs spare bedrooms (he was sleeping on the bed, so I left "Pepper's room" open) so there'd be fewer rooms for them to run into and hide.  On my way to bed I closed the doors to the downstairs office and the last extra bedroom.  Each time I drew the cats' attention.  Jackson looked, shrugged his shoulders, and walked away.  Pepper, who's more in tune with these types of things, was instantly on guard and ready to run.  Once again, though, there was nothing to get excited about.

This morning on my way out of my bedroom I checked to make sure there were no cats under the bed, then closed that door, too.  Again, Pepper looked like he was ready to flee.  After I went downstairs he followed me into the kitchen and sat at the entrance to the room to see what I was up to.  However,  v-e-t time wasn't for a couple of hours so there was nothing to see.  He left; when I went out to dump the coffee grounds in the compost pile I found him laying on top of the couch in the sun.

After breakfast I tried to act as if nothing was up, but made sure I knew where the cats were.  If it was just me leaving the house, I'd walk out the door in just enough time to get there promptly.  However, not knowing how long it would take to get the cats ready to go I started ten minutes early.  I didn't want to be late for our appointment and risk having to wait in the waiting room because they'd given our appointment slot to another animal!

I started with Pepper, who was now laying under the coffee table next to the couch.  When he saw me coming he tried to disappear behind the couch; however, I grabbed him and pulled him out (nails dragging all the way), then cradled him against my chest while I walked to the kitchen and deposited him in his carrier.  As soon as I started latching it he started howling, which alerted Jackson; when I found him upstairs he tried to run, but all the bedroom doors were closed so he just hissed at me as I picked him up.  Again, I cradled him against my chest while I carried him downstairs.  I did NOT want him to escape!

Once both cats were secured I took the carriers out to the car, where put them in the back seat and buckled them in for the five-minute drive to the vet.  The cats started wailing the minute I pulled out of the garage, and kept it up the rest of the trip.  I tried talking to them in a soothing voice, but they ignored me.

As anticipated, the vet poked, prodded, and stuck needles.  She announced all was good, but Jackson had gained a bit of weight. I guess we need to be more diligent about his diet and exercise program, or look into giving him a different type of food.  The cats also left with a recommendation to come back and have "senior" blood work done, which would mean another trip to the vet.  Neither the cats of I are looking forward to that.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Last week my local Aldi had mangoes on sale. I bought two, ate one immediately, and put the second one in the refrigerator.  Over the weekend we put a lot of leftovers in the fridge, and the mango got pushed to the back. I found it this evening.  It was nice and soft, and needed to be eaten immediately.

I cut the flesh off the seed in strips, then put each strip in my mouth, skin side up, and scraped the flesh off with my lower teeth. It was heavenly!  Fifteen minutes later my lips started to tingle, and I realized I'd forgotten to clean them off. I ran to the bathroom and thoroughly washed my lower face with soap and water, then rinsed it a couple of times and dried it carefully. I've learned the hard way that although I love to eat mangoes, they don't love me back.

A couple of years ago I was with a friend, and she noticed there was a red rash around my lips. When I mentioned that my lips also felt chapped and itchy, she asked what I'd been eating the past few days. When I mentioned mangoes, she diagnosed my problem as "mango mouth", explaining that mangoes are in the same botanical family as poison ivy. The peel and sap from mango contain urushiol, the same oil that causes the autoimmune response in its 3-leafed relative.

She recommended an OTC steroid cream, which made the problem go away in a day or so. Since that time I haven't had any long as I remember to clean up after I eat. I love mangoes too much to give them up completely.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Deck

When we moved into our house 25 years ago there was nice deck in the back off the family room.  Over the years the deck got a lot of use, but the years eventually took their toll.  For the last few summers we've known the deck needed to be upgraded, but there was always some more pressing job that had to get done.  This year the project finally made it to the top of the list.

Our house has a walkout basement, so the deck off the main level is actually second-floor.  A few of the deck boards were cracking, and the stairs were getting wobbly.  Hubby Tony took charge of finding contractors and getting estimates.  We investigated whether we could just rejuvenate the deck by replacing the deck boards and rails, but found out that wasn't feasible; it was out of code in so many ways that it would be more cost-effective to just tear the whole thing down and start over.

After we selected the contractor, but before he put together a bid we met him at an "outdoor living" store so he could show us some  options  for materials. The choices were overwhelming! The decking material could be wood (from pressure treated, to cedar, to exotic varieties like mahogany or ipe) or composite (a mixture of recycled wood fibers in a resin base) of various brands and qualities. Rails could be the same material or different, and could include things like fancy post caps and lighting systems. Of course each upgrade came with an additional cost. After a lot of discussion, Tony and I decided on a simple wood deck with a simple wood railing.  The end result would be pretty much like what we had before, just newer.

The finished product:

A couple of hours after this picture was taken Tony carried our table and chairs up the stairs and put them into their place.  We've already eaten our first dinner there.  The finch feeder is back up too, attached to the rail on the left.  Once I move all the plants back, this new deck will start to look like it's always been part of the house

Friday, August 17, 2012

My Favorite Walk Yet!

Since Hubby Tony and I are getting ready to walk in a 10K event in September, this month we're aiming for five-mile training sessions.  However, we've figured out if you walk in the right direction, and take a break at the halfway point, five miles isn't as hard as it sounds...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fit Sitting

From my perch at the mall Customer Service desk I see a lot of strange and interesting things. Today I was minding my own business when out of the corner of my eye I noticed some movement in the seating area closest to me. When I took a closer look, I noticed an older man sitting in a chair doing his exercises.  I couldn't help surreptitiously glancing over his way every few seconds, but he seemed to be in his own world and oblivious to what was going on around him.  Each exercise lasted between 20 and 30 seconds.  His routine:

  • Flinging his arms back at the same time
  • Making "typing" motions with his fingers
  • Pressing the palms of his hands together
  • Massaging the back of his neck
  • Doing bicep curls one arm at a time

At this point he looked over, saw me, and came over to ask me where the Starbucks was.  Satisfied, he went back and sat down.  I thought he might be finished, but after a few minutes he...

  • Massaged his shins (one at a time) from knee to ankle
  • Massaged his legs (one at a time) from knee to mid-thigh
  • Stretched his spine by leaning back, hands behind head
  • Leaning his ear towards his shoulder on both sides
  • Massaging the sides of his ears

Then he must have been done, because he sat, arms folded, looking at his watch every few minutes until a woman (who I assume it was his wife) came out of the store.  They both left, and the show was over.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Choice Is Mine

I choose to live by choice, not by chance.
I choose to make changes, not excuses.
I choose to be motivated, not manipulated.
I choose to be useful, not used.
I choose self-esteem, not self pity.
I choose to excel, not compete.
I choose to listen to the inner voice, not the random voices of crowds.

~ Unknown ~

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What a Crock

Earlier in the year I experimented with making homemade sauerkraut in a canning jar. It was easy, but after a couple of batches I noticed a problem. The metal jar lids eventually corroded, which made screwing them difficult. I decided to look for a solution.  After a Google search, I decided that crock sauerkraut was the way to go. Basically, you salt cabbage, put it in a crock, then put a plate on top and add a weight so the cabbage is covered in brine during fermentation.

However, you can't make crock sauerkraut without a crock.  I found out that new ones cost somewhere between $30-$40 (which seemed like a lot to me), so I decided to wait until I found something cheaper.  Two weeks ago I was at the St. Vincent de Paul store and found the crock from a Crock Pot sitting on the shelf; it looked new, without any cracks or chips, and it was just the right size.  It took ten minutes of rooting through the saucers to find something the right diameter to fit perfectly inside the crock.  (Since I didn't know the exact volume of cabbage I'd be fermenting at one time and the crock's sides sloped slightly, I got two saucers of slightly different sizes.)  All together I paid $2.25 for my supplies.

After shredding the cabbage with the food processor I added pickling salt and massaged it into the cabbage to start breaking it down. Once the cabbage started getting soft I poured it into the crock...

...then used the correct-sized plate to cover it.  My three-pound head of cabbage only came a third of the way up the sides of the crock.  You could make some serious sauerkraut in here!

I have quite a few big rocks in the back yard, but didn't think ahead to sterilize one, so I used a water-filled milk jug as a weight.  Looks pretty dorky, but it worked.  After 20 minutes, the weight had pressed out enough liquid so that I could see a layer of brine on top.

I put everything into an old pillowcase, used a clip to close it up, and moved it to the top of the refrigerator to ferment.  Every couple of days I took it down to check on the kraut's progress.  After a week I pronounced it done, transferred (most of) it to a jar, and stored it in the refrigerator.

The kraut that didn't end up in the jar?  It turned into lunch.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Who, Me? Not Me!

On Wednesday I went to the chiropractor for an adjustment.  While I was there I mentioned that I was having some breathing issues, which I attributed to the poor air quality we've been having as a result of the heat.  After hearing all my symptoms, though, the chiropractor announced that the root cause of my problem was that my liver wasn't functioning well. (What do breathing issues have to do with digestive organs?  He tried to explain it, but I didn't completely understand.  However, I've learned over the years to trust what he says)  

That day, in addition to the normal back adjustment he also manipulated my liver pressure points, then recommended I try a food supplement which would help my body get back to normal.  When I stopped by the front desk to take care of my co-pay, the bottle was waiting for me.

When I got home I took a closer look at the bottle.  The list of ingredients was printed in very tiny font on the side, but I noticed they were all natural and included things like carrot root, beet juice, and oat flour. My directions were to take three tablets a day. It didn't matter how or when, so I added three tablets to the rest of the week's AM calcium in my pill organizer (a tray with a pop out compartment for each day), then took the first dose  The small brown tablets had a slightly sweet, nutty taste.

After work I noticed that a couple of the sleeves were scattered on the counter. One of them had the three brown pills missing. I attributed it to my forgetfulness and put everything back together. The next morning, though, when I found one of the sleeves over by the coffee pot, again holding nothing but calcium I KNEW it couldn't be me!

And there were only two names on the list of culprits:

I took a better look at the list of ingredients to see what might be intriguing the cats. Just past the defatted wheat germ, calcium lactate, and magnesium citrate I think I found the answer--the supplement included bovine liver, kidney, and prostate! I bet that's what was attracting them.

Of course, since I didn't catch the offender in the act I have no idea which cat got his supplement Percent of Daily Value. Since I moved the pill organizer inside a cabinet where the cats couldn't reach it, I guess I'll never know.  It would be interesting to figure out, though, how they managed to remove the sleeve, open it, and take out the attractive pills while leaving the calcium alone!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bike Maintenance Basics

Last week I was with Hubby Tony when he used a REI (an awesome outdoor store) gift certificate he'd received for a birthday present.  While he was in the dressing room trying some things on, I had a great time looking at all the bike department doodads.

At the end of one of the aisles there was a list of their upcoming classes. One of them, Bike Maintenance Basics, was this week.   I'm still an occasional bike rider, but I've always wanted to know how to do basic things to it. I made note of the class date so I could sign up online when I got home.  However, when I pulled up the store's Web page I was disappointed to find out that class was already filled.  There was a "women's only" version earlier in the week, though, that still had openings. That class was last night, and I was there.

From the class description:
If you ride a bicycle, then you need this class! This class is an informative presentation that will teach you how to lube a chain, fix a flat tire in record time, and make other minor adjustments to your bicycle. 
When I arrived at the store I wasn't sure where to go, but when I saw an array of folding chairs set up just beyond the cash register I figured I'd found the right place.  By time the class started there were almost three dozen women there.  Our instructor was one of the employees of the store's bike shop.  Over the course of the night he showed us the "book" ways to do things, plus tips he'd figured out over the years to make it easier.

I did learn how to lube a chain and change a tire, along with recommended pre-ride and post-ride checks, what should be in a bike maintenance kit, as well as information about helmets and bike tension adjusters.  This class was demonstration only, but I left thinking I now know enough to start my bike maintenance hobby.  The store also offers more hands-on classes, which would probably help, too.  What do you think are the chances you'll see me at one of those in the future?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Now That's Service!

Halfway through my mall Customer Service desk shift today, I realized I was craving chocolate. REALLY craving it. The only problem was that I was working by myself, and there was no one to cover the desk when I stepped away.

After trying (unsuccessfully) to think about things other than chocolate I came up with a solution.  The Godiva store is just around the corner from the desk.  I'd seen the store manager walk by earlier in the day, so I knew she was working and would help me out.  I called the store, identified myself, and asked her to get out a small Dark Chocolate bar and have it ready for me.  When I was confident I could complete the transaction quickly I'd close up the desk and scurry down to the store with my money.

She must have sensed how much I needed the chocolate, because she offered to bring it to me!  Three minutes after I hung up the phone she was there, chocolate in hand.  I fell all over myself thanking her; she just smiled and headed back towards her store.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Where? How Far?

A storm came through overnight, bringing strong winds, thunder, and some sorely needed rain. After the front passed things cooled off.  When I went outside to get the newspaper about 8:30 this morning, it was in the high 70s and still overcast.  A nice morning to get outside.  Since we're preparing for a 10K event this fall, Hubby Tony and I are trying to increase the amount of walking we do.  Our routes in July were four miles, but now that it's August, we're aiming for five miles at a time.

We decided to walk to the grocery store to get some things for dinner.  There are branches of two local chains (Schnucks and Shop 'n Save) a couple of miles east of the house. Shop 'n Save is incrementally farther away, so that became our goal.  In the past,when we've walked that way we've cut through the neighborhoods to reduce the distance, but not today.

It took us about 40 minutes to go each way, but when we got home we wondered just how far we'd gone.  We turned to a cool Website called Walk Jog Run for the answer.  Walk Run Jog utilizes Google Maps to help you map out a route, or tell you how far a route is. To start, you enter your location.  You can see already-created routes (the first time I logged in I found out there's several people in my neighborhood that are using the program), or make and save your own.

Today Tony created a route that followed our morning's path and found out we'd gone about four and a half miles.  That's not quite enough for our August goal, but a good start toward it!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Third Of August...

doesn't have the same cachet at the Fourth of July, but when Manchester (the city I live in) cancelled their annual firework show on the holiday because of the hot, dry weather they rescheduled it for last night.  Hubby Tony and I were there.

 The city hosts a music concert once a month during the summer, and last night's entertainment had been scheduled long ago; they just added the fireworks portion.  Last week a sign went up at the entrance to the park advertising the band.   A couple of days later a smaller sign was added next to it touting the fireworks.   However, if anything it's even hotter and dryer now than it was in July, so I kept expecting them to cancel the fireworks.   When the sign was still there on Thursday I figured it was going to happen.

We got to the park a few minutes before the music started at 6:30 and set up our chairs at the top of a hill.  It was still 90 degrees, but there was a nice breeze that made it bearable.  The band was called  HoneyVox, and they played a nice variety of dance music...a little pop, disco, and R&B.

The fireworks were scheduled for 9:30.  Tony noted that at the beginning of July the day would have been longer, but in August it was quite dark at 9:00.  Fifteen minutes before the band stopped playing the park lights went out, and we knew it was close to fireworks time.  We moved the chairs back and spread a small blanket on the ground so we could lay down.

The fireworks were set up on the park's baseball fields, behind some trees and just past the playground from where we were sitting.  When the show started, I felt like we were right there.  Some of the bursts were so bright I had to close my eyes!  The show lasted almost 25 minutes, and ended with a huge flurry of bursts in the sky.

The whole thing was worth the month-long wait.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Art Of Sleeping In Public

When I opened the mall Customer Service desk this morning there was a well-dressed African American woman in one of the armchairs at the seating area by the desk, with a baby stroller parked next to her. The stroller had a canopy and a sun cover, so the inside of the stroller was almost completely blocked. She looked just like a young mother out for a shopping trip. However, I knew appearances can be deceiving.
(I’d met this woman a couple of weeks ago, when she came up and asked to use our phone. She had the same stroller then and it took me a few minutes to realize there wasn't a baby in there; it held her things. After her phone call was finished we struck up a conversation, and she asked me where she could get something to eat, since she hadn't had anything since the day before. I told her a couple of places to try and she left.)
Today I arrived at 9:30, and it looked like she was getting comfortable in the chair. By 9:45 she was asleep, curled over to the left and head leaning against the back of the chair.  That was quite a feat, considering the chairs have low backs and aren't very conducive for sleeping.

 It was interesting to watch the reactions of people who walked by. Most of them ignored her, including several people from the management office and a security guard. One of the clerks from a nearby store came over and asked if I knew what the woman was doing there. I wondered if I should do anything, but in the end decided to just leave her be. Today was forecast to be another hot and humid day, with a forecast of about 100 degrees.  She wasn't bothering anything and I didn't know if she had any place else to go.

The woman woke up at 11:00, stretched, and pulled a bag of food out of the stroller. She looked over at me and waved, then ate. Afterwards she curled up in the chair again and went back  to sleep. For the next hour she rested fitfully, changing position a couple of times.   A steady stream of people walked by, but no one bothered her.

Finally she woke up again, got some more food out of the stroller, and had another snack. I left to use the restroom, and when I came back she was gone.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Trying To Beat The Heat

Have I mentioned how hot it is here Smile with tongue ?

The other day I noticed a shallow depression in the mulch underneath the shrub by the front door.  I didn't think anything about it until I opened the front door a couple of evenings ago and saw this:

The front of our house faces west and gets the afternoon sun.  In the 100-degree plus temperatures we've been having it's really toasty there.  Mr. Bunny was smart; the depression was behind the bush, so he was in the shade. He must have been exhausted from the heat, because he didn't move immediately, but when I  took several steps out onto the porch he slowly hopped away.

I bet he has several places to hang out to try to stay cool.  I know I would!