Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tell The Truth

Be honest.....did you know that today is National Honesty Day?

The celebration was created in the early 1990s by M. Hirsh Goldberg, author of The Book of Lies. He chose the last day of April because he felt that since the month begins with April Fools Day (a big day of lying) it should end on a higher moral note.

I commemorated the day by trying to be completely honest (and passing on a couple of opportunities to tell a little white lie).

Five years ago today: Call Me

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Another Thing Crossed Off The Bucket List

Hazy, but beautiful
Over the weekend Hubby Tony and I went on a whirlwind trip out west. We left St. Louis Thursday night to fly into Phoenix.  After we picked up a rental car, we met up with Son Tony and stayed at his house. Friday we all drove to the Grand Canyon, where we hiked and explored until after the sun went down. 

The early spring weather at the Grand Canyon was all over the place.  During our main hike in the middle of the afternoon I started with a long-sleeved shirt base layer and put on/took off a light winter coat as needed.  Some times I added a rain poncho to accommodate a few light sprinkles.  As the day wore on it got colder and windier.  After dinner we took a shuttle bus to the canyon rim to watch the sunset.  Sadly, about ten minutes before the sun went completely down a heavy layer of clouds rolled in right over the canyon rim, blocking most of what we'd come to see. 

Sun peeking through the clouds
We spent Friday night at one of the Canyon's lodges, then explored more on Saturday.  After we left the park we drove to Flagstaff, where we had a hotel close to historic Route 66.  I'd chosen this location because we'd be able to walk to the downtown shops and restaurants.  However, a steady rain started falling as we pulled into town, which curtailed out plans.

Sunday morning it was clear and sunny.  We were able to walk to breakfast, then checked out of the hotel and drove to a nearby church for mass.  Next we drove back to the downtown area and explored on foot, then got back in the car and headed south back to Phoenix (detouring over to Sedona for lunch).  We arrived in Phoenix shortly before dinnertime.  After dinner we played a couple of rounds of Rummykub before heading to bed.

Monday morning after Son Tony left for work, Hubby Tony and I took a walk through his neighborhood, came home and showered, then packed up our stuff and left for the airport and home.

Five years ago today: My First Census Adventure

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It All Depends On How You Look At It

A research team proceeded towards the apex of a natural geologic protuberance, the purpose of their expedition being the procurement of a sample of fluid hydride of oxygen in a large vessel, the exact size of which was unspecified.

One member of the team precipitously descended, sustaining severe damage to the upper cranial structure; subsequently the second member of the team performed a self-rotational translation oriented in the same direction taken by the first team member.

It will be a while before Jack and Jill head up that hill for a pail of water again.

Five years ago today: Memories

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stats And Pageviews

I always think it's interesting to see what my blog's up to, readership-wise.  Most times when I check, the pageviews look something like this:

Small potatoes for a professional blogger, but I'm satisfied with it.  Yesterday when I logged in I was saddened to see that the graph was almost a flat line.  I wondered what had happened to my readers until I looked at the vertical axis:

On April 14th the pageviews had increased ten-fold! 

I tried to find out where all those views came from, but Blogger was no help.  The statistics options are Today, Yesterday, and Last Month.  I guess I'll never know if it was one person who read massive amounts of my blog, or multitudes of people who stopped in for a short visit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

Today, of course, is Earth Day, which is celebrated around the world on April 22.  In honor of the day the Google home page had a link to a cute "What Animal Are You?" quiz.  When I took it I found out I'm a honey bee, who is naturally a hard worker that still takes time to stop and pollinate the flowers.


Although I didn't have Earth Day in mind when I planned my day's activities, it turns out that I did two things that could be categorized as eco-friendly.

The first was getting my air conditioner units serviced so they worked as efficiently as possible.  For several years I've had my heating and air conditioning units maintained by a local HVAC company.  I like dealing with this company because the people who answer the phone in the office are always friendly, and the technicians are always on time, polite, and professional.  When I called to make the appointment, the scheduler mentioned that in addition to the routine maintenance I could also have testing done to evaluate the system’s operating efficiency. As an incentive, the electric company would send me a rebate that would cover most of the cost of the test, so our out of pocket costs would be minimal.  I agreed to have the technician do both things.

Our house has two systems, one for the upstairs and one for the main level.  When the technician arrived, he explained he'd have to drill holes in each of the flues to insert his testing equipment, but he'd cap the holes when he was done.  I had to turn on the air conditioners and dial the thermostats down far enough for them to kick on and stay on.  (The outside temperature was not quite 60, so the air conditioner was set for a couple of degrees lower than that.  The house quickly got chilly!)  It took about an hour for everything to get checked and serviced.  The technician had me fill out a rebate form, which the office would mail in.

The second ecologically responsible thing has been a very long time coming.  Last week I bought a replacement for our deep freezer, and it was delivered today.

We've had our large deep freezer for decades.   Every year about this time I hear that new models are much more energy efficient than old ones, but under the theory of 'if it's not broke, don't spend money on it" I never got a new one, so we kept chugging along with what we had.  However, now that there's fewer people in the house we don't need as much capacity.  The experts say that for the best energy efficiency a freezer should be at least two-thirds full. Ours was nowhere close to that, even when I began storing our Costco-sized bags of flour and rice.

This morning I took everything out of the old deep freeze and brought it upstairs, where I had trouble fitting everything into the refrigerator's freezer.  (Two packages of chicken thighs would not fit, so they begame dinner.)  Right after the HVAC technician finished in the house, the appliance delivers came in.  They set the freezer in its place, plugged it in, and told me I should wait eight hours to stock it.  The cubic footage of the new freezer is about half of the old one.  It has an interior light and a pull-out drawer at the bottom.  I can already tell it's going to be much better, size-wise.

Five years ago today: Earth Song

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy

Yesterday I had a jam-packed day, with a lot of things on my To Do list.  One of them was a stop at the mall where I used to work.  The store I was going to was at one far end of the building, very close to an entrance door.  I figured I could get in quickly, do my business, and get out.  I allowed fifteen minutes for the whole thing.

The first part of my plan worked like a charm.  I found a convenient parking space and hustled into the building.  I was almost to my destination when I looked up and saw some familiar faces.  Two of the regular mall walkers that used to stop and visit with me at the Customer Service desk were coming towards me from the other direction.

What to do?  These woman are very nice, but like to talk a lot. I knew that if I stopped to chat it would be at least 15 minutes before I could pull away, and I didn't have that kind of flexibility in my schedule. I was already going to have trouble getting everything done. Fortunately they were so busy talking they didn't see me and I was able to quickly turn the corner and into the store.

Maybe someday soon I'll make plans to be at the mall during prime mall walker time and see if I can find all the people who used to be a regular part of my life.

Five years ago today: Cloudy

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Time Marches On

Five years ago I was dismayed to hear the music that was popular when I was in high school on the oldies station.  It  took me a while, but I eventually gotten used to it. 

I don't listen to much commercial radio (preferring a volunteer-based community radio station that plays a wide variety of music), but "Oldies Radio" is one of the presets in my car.  When I tune it in (if there's not a commercial playing) I always know the song and can sing along.  Another time we're likely to turn on the station is on Sunday afternoon.  During the time Hubby Tony is cooking dinner, the community station has a two-hour show that features Eastern European tunes.  When the rhythm and melodies get too exotic for his tastes he'll flip it over, where it will stay until someone remembers to turn it back.

Tonight as I was listening to the familiar tunes of my teenage years I noticed a disturbing trend.  The station's modified their range. They've dropped a lot of the tunes from the early 70s and replaced them with tunes from the early 80s.  As a matter of fact, their tagline is now "the greatest hits of the 70s and 80s".  Prince fits in the category, as does Cyndi Lauper and  Culture Club.  Madonna makes an occasional appearance, and you're liable to hear at least one power ballad every hour.

I guess eventually 'my' music will fade away.  Since the station plays only the biggest hits I wonder if I'll still be familiar with their songs 20 years from now?

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Friday Funny

Today I spent most of the afternoon helping set up for our parish auction, which takes place tomorrow night.  According to my phone app I logged almost 12,000 steps today, and now I'm so tired all I want to do it sit on the couch.  However, while I'm vegging out I thought I'd share a funny from a friend:
A girl was visiting her blonde friend who had acquired two new dogs, and asked her what their names were.

The blonde responded by saying that one was named Rolex and one was named Timex.

Her friend said, "Whoever heard of someone naming dogs like that?"

"Whatevverrrrr," answered the blonde. "They're watch dogs!"
Five years ago today: I Love A Parade

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Slow No More

A couple of days ago I realized that both the kitchen desktop computer and my laptop were running verrrry slow. 

The slowdown had been gradual, but it eventually became obvious.  Sometimes things performed better than others.  For example, I'd be typing along just fine, then all of a sudden I was a whole sentence ahead of what was showing on the screen; I'd have to stop and wait until it caught up.  The optical mouse on my desktop seemed to have a mind of its own.  Instead of working smoothly, it jerked.  I'd scroll down, then have to wait for the cursor to move.  The last straw came yesterday afternoon  when I had to submit a job report. The report itself was mainly yes/no check boxes, but I also had to upload18 photos. It took me almost two hours to finish it!

Last night I did a thorough spring cleaning of both computers.  Even though I always keep my virus software up to date I checked again to make sure it was.  I ran the disk cleanup utility and made sure all my browser plugins were up to date.  I deleted a couple of old programs I didn't need any more (and had forgotten was there).  Thankfully, that took care of the issues.  Now both computers are humming along.

Five years ago today: Can You Believe It?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Vegi" Mélange

Last time I was at the Middle Eastern market near my house I found this "Vegi Soup Mix" in the bean aisle:

I'm always on the lookout for new and simple dinner ideas, so I took a look at the package ingredients....yellow split peas, green split peas, pearled barley, and long grain rice.   On top of being healthy, the package didn't cost much, so I threw it into my basket.  I'll try anything once.

The next gloomy day I decided to cook the mix for a hearty dinner.  There was a recipe on the back of the package which called for adding water, bouillon cubes, chopped onion, salt, and pepper to the soup mix. Knowing that bouillon cubes would make the soup too salty for my taste, I decided to use stock instead.  Unfortunately, when I looked in the freezer I discovered there was only one jar.  I had to add additional water to have enough liquid.  I also threw in chopped garlic, a couple of stalks of celery that needed to be used, and a large handful of dry parsley.

The soup simmered on the stove for about an hour.  As it cooked a wonderful aroma spread through the kitchen.  I was a little disappointed with the monochromatic look of the finished product, but a garnish of chopped tomatoes gave it some color.

This vegi soup was very tasty.  The barley's chewy pasta-like consistency was a nice contrast to the softer split peas, and the rice and barley starch gave the soup a creamy texture.  The bag made enough for two night's dinners, with more poured into plastic containers and put into the freezer for meals down the line.

Five years ago today: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Perfect Saturday Afternoon

A seat on the comfy family room couch.  A pile of reading material.  A napping cat. What more can you ask for?

Five years ago today: Jerked

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Do you ever feel like you're using the same words over and over?  Perhaps you are.  According to, the most commonly used words in English, ranked in frequency order, are:
the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, was, for, on, are, as, with, his, they, I, at, be, this, have, from, or, one, had, by, word, but, not, what, all, were, we, when, your, can, said, there, use, an, each, which, she, do, how, their, if, will, up, there, about, out, many, then, them, these, so, some, her, would, make, like, him, into, time, has, look, two, more, write, go, see, number, no, way, could, people, my, than, first, water, been, call, who, oil, its, now, find, long, down, day, did, get, come, made, may, part.
How many of these do you use regularly?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Holy Hail!

Shortly after 9:00 this morning the sky got middle-of-the-night black, and the distant thunder rumbles got closer and closer.  Soon the skies opened and the rain poured down. Five minutes later I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I heard hail hitting the roof.  All of a sudden the errands I was getting ready to run didn't seem so important.

Son Donald went out to the garage to see what was happening. By the time I joined him, this is what our driveway looked like:

What you can't really tell from the photo is just how much water was rushing down the street.  Shortly after I snapped it we watched the trash can lid float away and disappear down the sewer. 

It rained hard for about 20 minutes, then gradually let up.  I left the house and returned about 1:00.  The nasty weather was long gone when I got home, but there was still a large pile of hail by the front porch:

Finally, about 3:30 the sun came out and warmed things up, but the hail doesn't look like it's in any hurry to melt.  I wonder how long it will take.

Five years ago today: Vernal and Verdant

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Miracle

The first Sunday of each month Hubby Tony and I help count money after the 9:00 Mass.  Our group of six people (three couples) handles the collections from Saturday night and the first two Sunday services.  A second group meets on Monday and takes care of the rest.

Everyone on the team has a job.  Tony and I do the regular weekly envelopes  Another couple counts the loose cash, and the third couple does the unusual envelopes and donations.   Normally the job takes about an hour.  I knew that the Triduum and Easter masses and services would bring in extra attendees and larger collections.  However, we were all surprised by how much more.  Instead of just one large plastic bank bag for each service there were two or three.

After a little complaining about the amount of work we'd have to do, we dove in and got started separating the loose cash from the envelopes and dividing the envelopes into piles by type.  Tony and I sat across from each other at the long tale, grabbed our huge pile of envelopes, and started working.

Over the months I've developed a system that works for me.  First I open each envelope and look to see if it contains cash or a check.  Next, I write the amount on the outside of the envelope, then make piles of checks, check envelopes, cash, and cash envelopes.  After all envelopes are emptied, I use an adding machine to run tapes on each pile, then compare the tapes of the cash and check envelopes with the tapes of the actual cash and checks. They should match.  However, I usually make a mistake somewhere and have to go back and figure out where.

Today I knew everyone had plans for the day and I didn't want to be the one to hold things up.  My pile of checks was three times as high as it would be on a normal Sunday.  With trepidation I started entering amounts into the adding machine.  When I reached the end of the pile of checks I struck a balance, then started doing the same thing with the stack of envelopes.  The closer I got to the bottom the more nervous I got.  After I entered the last amount I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer, and hit the enter key.

THE AMOUNTS MATCHED!  It was an Easter miracle.

Even though my pile of cash was also much larger than normal I wasn't too concerned about balancing it.  Sure enough, it also worked the first time.   Gleefully I filled out my form and handed it over to the person who was putting the figures into the computer.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

All Wrung Out

Today Hubby Tony and I had the opportunity to take in a matinee movie at a local theater. 

Because of our schedule commitments, we decided to choose one that started right after lunch.  The theater was showing six different movies. Two of them didn't start at convenient times, and two of them didn't interest us. Of the two that were left, we decided on Still Alice, the movie from last year that starred Julianne Moore as a linguistics professor who is diagnosed with early onset familial Alzheimer's disease.

The movie was very good, and I thought Moore's Oscar for Best Actress was very well deserved.  There were several emotional moments in the movie, and I needed quite a few tissues to wipe up my tears.  (And judging by the sniffles I heard from other parts of the auditorium, I wasn't the only one.)

After we left the theater I went to the bathroom. When I looked in the mirror I noticed my eyes were red and most of my mascara was gone.  I splashed some water on my face and felt a little better, but after getting so emotional, for the rest of the day I felt drained.

Maybe I should have gone to the movie later in the day.

Five years ago today: It's (Another) Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Friday, April 3, 2015

Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Five years ago today: Saturday In Style

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Most of the business evaluation work I do is for general or female-centered business. Tonight, though, I asked Hubby Tony to come with me and be the focus in a store that catered to males.

On the drive to the store I mentioned some of the things we'd be looking for in the visit. We walked in together, but after the associate greeted both of us she directed most of her attention towards Tony. It was fun to stand off to the side and listen as she told him about all the merchandise in the store.

When she was done we purchased one of the items she'd recommended, then left and compared notes.