Friday, December 30, 2016

Words Of Wisdom For 2017

I've run across these suggestions in several different places over the past few weeks. After the third sighting I thought perhaps it wasn't a coincidence, and I'd better take them to heart.

So, now you know what I'll be focusing on in the new year.  What about you?  Do you have any goals for self-improvement?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


As I suspected, with all the out of town family at the house for Christmas the past week went by in a whirlwind of excitement.  Because of two-month old Grandbaby Jay we didn't do as many structured activities as we have in the past, but I cherished each chance I got to hold him close.

Slowly, the number of house guests has dwindled.  Brian, Nicole, and Jay left on Monday to drive to Columbia Missouri to visit with friends and family there.  (They'll be back sometime after New Year's Day for a short while before they depart for California.) This morning we took Son Tony and his friend Ie to the airport and watched them walk through the terminal door into the airport.

When I got back it was time to start tackling all the projects I let pile up while we had a houseful.  I waded through a backlog of emails and read a large collection of blog posts.  Washed bath towels and sheets.  Put away a pile of Christmas bags and boxes that didn't get put away in the first sweep a couple of days ago.  Then, most importantly, I bought a new dishwasher.

Sadly, the dishwasher that has been working inefficiently for the past few months conked out on Christmas Day--right as I was putting the finishing touches on dinner for 25 people.  The problem started with a small water leak, which quickly turned into a small flood.  I turned it off and stuffed beach towels under the door to sop up the mess. Later in the evening when I tried running the dishwasher again we smelled a burning odor coming from the interior.  Not a good sign.

Because the dishwasher was so dilapidated Tony and I didn't even consider repairing it.  This afternoon I went to the library for some Consumer Reports research, then came home and found out which local stores sold our target brand and model.  Tony and I drove to the store, talked to the salesperson, and fifteen minutes after we walked in we walked out with the purchase receipt.

A week from Friday the new dishwasher will be installed.  I can't wait.

Some of the presents for our family Rob Your Neighbor game on Christmas Day
Five years ago today: Draw Your Own Adventure

Thursday, December 22, 2016

All Will Be Complete

Son Donald finished his college finals and got home a week ago.  On Monday half of our out-of-town children arrived.  This morning the rest will be here.  Son Tony and his friend Ie woke up very early to get on a plane that arrives about 8:30 AM.  Hubby Tony will pick them up from the airport.  For the next five days it will be a good kind of crazy.

Our four bedroom house, which seems so large for just Tony and I, will be filled to the brim.  As a matter of fact, we don't have enough bed space, so one of the larger bedrooms (currently occupied by Donald) will have "maid service"...clean sheets, straightening, and an air mattress laid on the floor before Tony and Ie take up residence there.

I love having everyone here.  It's good to be able to interact with everyone in person, something that doesn't happen often enough. The refrigerator is stuffed to the brim with extra food.  The dishwasher will go into overdrive to keep up with the larger amount of cups and dishes.  There will be extra loads of laundry going (and it won't be mine to keep on top of!)

Five years ago today: (Not) The Shortest Day Of The Year!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pile O' Packages

So far there are only a couple of boxes and bags under the Christmas tree, but that's OK; I know that in the next couple of days things will take care of themselves. Right now I'm more interested in this pile:

Baby supplies and presents?
This afternoon I'm picking up Son Brian, Daughter-In-Law Nicole, and Baby Jay at the airport. In between the baby supplies I've purchased and the packages Nicole has had delivered to the house there's quite a stack of things waiting for them in their bedroom.  I wonder how long it will take them to get through it all?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pitch The Prescription

Several weeks ago our cat Pepper had oral surgery. He came home from the vet with two medicines, one of which was for pain. This medicine was pre-measured in small syringes, and the directions said to apply the liquid to Pepper's gums twice a day. However, Pepper was having none of it.  I tried to reason with him that the medicine would make him feel better as I was yanking him out from under the bed, but after the first day I gave up and didn't administer it.

The bag laid on the kitchen countertop, where it eventually started to blend in.  However, yesterday I started cleaning the house for Christmas and decided I should get rid of it.  How, though?  A little research revealed I had a supply of buprenorphine, a synthetic opiate drug that's approximately 30 times more powerful at relieving pain than morphine.

Fortunately, my friend Google told me that the closest prescription drug drop off site was just a couple of miles from the house at my city's police station.  I called and found out the collection bin was in the lobby, which is open 24/7.  Today when Hubby Tony and I were out running errands we stopped at the station.  There was a large secure receptacle right inside the door.  I dropped the bag in, made sure it had fallen in all the way, and we left.  It's good to know that those drugs can't get into any wrong hands (or paws).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Not Again!

You may have heard about yet another Yahoo security breach, which was announced on Wednesday.  That's the type of email I use for blogging purposes, so even though I just changed my password back in September it's probably time to do it again.  On the radio yesterday they were talking about the website Have I Been Pawnd?, which lets you check to see if you have an account that has been compromised in a data breach.  I decided to check it out.

All you have to do is type in your email, hit the 'pawnd' button, and wait for the results.  I put in my Yahoo address and found out that although it was pwned on 1 breached site it was NOT through Yahoo.  Instead, back in 2013 the information (including the email address) was compromised through Adobe.  I also learned that there had been no 'pastes' of that data, which is where stolen data is published on a hacker website.

Now I was curious, and decided to perform the same test on a Hotmail address I use.  I learned that this address was breached through LinkedIn in May 2016, and Modern Business Solutions (a company that provides data storage and database hosting solutions) in October 2016.

I guess it's time to change ALL my passwords again.  OY!

Five years ago today: Can You Hear Me?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Good Hair Day

Today I had the opportunity to have my hair washed and styled at a fancy hair salon. I immediately agreed.
(I don't spend a lot of money or time on my hair and its upkeep.  I get cuts at chain salons where you don't need an appointment and can get in and out quickly.  Each morning I wash my hair when I shower, then (usually) use a little styling lotion before I comb through it, then (usually) come downstairs and get busy, forgetting all about my hair until it's dried. And then I wonder why it doesn't look good. Left to its own devices my hair is pretty frizzy, which has only gotten worse as more and more grey creeps in. The right side usually turns under nicely, but on the left there's a strange cowlick that makes the ends poof out.)
My salon appointment was for 10:00. When I walked up to the front desk one of the women standing there asked my name, then introduced herself as the stylist's assistant. She walked me back to a station, asked if I'd like a drink, and offered to hang up my coat. When she returned we went back to the shampoo area, where I received a first-class wash and scalp rub, followed by an application of conditioner and aromatherapy oil and an additional scalp massage. Everything got rinsed out, my hair was towel dried, and we walked back to the station where the stylist greeted me.

The stylist applied a hair primer and a strengthener, then used a big blow dryer to remove most of the moisture from my hair. Next she used a round brush to style everything. After the styling was completed she used three different hair sprays (one for shine, one for volume, and one to hold everything in place). At the end she handed me a mirror and asked what I thought.  My first thought was WOW! I barely recognized the sleek strands that framed my face. The stylist walked me to the front desk where I took care of the payment part. Before she left she thanked me for coming and and said she hoped I'd come back again.

For the rest of the day I did a double take every time I saw my reflection.  My hair looked so good I didn't want to waste it.  Instead of reheating of last night's leftovers I took Hubby Tony out for dinner at a nearby restaurant.  I have no desire to spend the money, time, and effort to recreate the hairstyle, so tomorrow it will go back to normal. It's nice to know that I could have good hair if I wanted to, though.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Yesterday was a busy day at the mall. In addition to listening to an awesome tuba concert, Hubby Tony and I got a nice Virtual Reality demonstration.

As we walked by a large, clear-sided display in the mall's center court we were hailed by two people wearing Facebook shirts.  They asked us if we'd like to try out their new technology.  We agreed it might be fun.  After signing waivers, we were taken to separate stations in the display. My associate quickly told me about the headset and headphones I'd be wearing, pointed out the hand rails I could hold if needed, and suggested that I make sure to look in front of, above, and behind me.

I had to take off my glasses to wear the headset. There was a dial to adjust the screen, but it couldn't completely accommodate my bad eyesight; the pictures were all a little fuzzy. (I would think most people would be able to see things perfectly.) After I put the headset on, adjusted it to my face, and placed the headphones over my ears the associate asked what I saw in the screen. She seemed to be satisfied with the answer, because she told me to have fun.

And it WAS fun! For several minutes I was right behind a woman rowing a boat, next to a huge, friendly-looking dinosaur, in the room with an Asian family in traditional dress interacting over food, floating through a meteor shower in outer space, and in the middle of a basketball game. The graphics were so amazing that I was reaching out to touch things that weren't really there, which I'm sure was quite entertaining to the people walking by.

At the end of the demonstration I took off the equipment and took a short survey about my experience. On the way out of the display an associate handed me a large Facebook thumbs up magnet.

Five years ago today: Who's Got The Button?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tubas Playing Christmas Carols

Today Hubby Tony and I hung out an area mall, where we heard dozens of tubas perform Christmas music in concert.

The local event is coordinated by the Tuba Christmas organization, which has been sponsoring concerts since 1974.  It's a big deal at the mall and people really look forward to it.  When I worked at the Customer Service desk people would start asking about the concert weeks in advance.

Tony and I nabbed a spot upstairs against the rail about fifteen minutes before the concert started.  While we waited we chatted with a nice couple who were standing next to us.  When the music began there was a large crowd gathered, and many more people gave the players a couple seconds of their time as they went down the escalator.  Some of the tubas were decked out with lights or Christmas decorations, and the musicians wore festive clothes or hats. 

Most of the songs were familiar carols, and on some we were invited to sing along.  The concert lasted more than an hour.  As Tony and I left we decided it had been a great way to spend part of an afternoon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Walk And Work Out

Today I had three work assignments to complete.  The first one took longer than it should, because I had to wait around for fifteen minutes before I was assisted.  I was in and out of the second one in ten minutes.  Then I relied on Mapquest directions to get me to the third; the directions turned out to be inaccurate, and I drove almost five miles in the wrong direction before I realized the mistake.  Once I arrived at the location, though, everything went according to plan.

As I was driving home I realized I really wanted to get some fresh air and exercise.  The temperature was brisk, but doable with gloves and ear protection.  While I drove I tried to figure out where I wanted to go.  Eventually I realized that with only a slight detour I could hit a small county park just a couple of miles from my house.  I hadn't been there for many years, and it would be a nice change of pace from my usual walking places.

Ohlendorf West Park has been there since we moved to the area 30 years ago. It had a Metro (bus) park and ride lot, one athletic field, and green space.  Much of the green space was taken away several years ago when the county built an Emergency Communications Center, but I was betting there was still some type of walking trail.  When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a sidewalk and small playground over to the left.  I parked the car and walked north on the sidewalk, which paralleled the main street.  Several minutes later I reached a wood-chipped trail that turned off to the right through the trees, with an official sign indicating the trail was .81 miles long.  I decided to take it.

I wasn't too far down the path when I saw a large green metal structure.  A little farther down was another.  As a matter of fact, there were 11 of them in total.  Looking closer, I realized that each structure was a piece of exercise equipment!  When I got back to the start of the trail, I noticed a sign that indicated the stations I passed were part of a HealthBeat Outdoor Fitness System.  I didn't stop to use any of the machines, but looking at the title of each station I realized that if you did each of them you'd have a complete body workout.  (Something to remember for down the line.) 

I had the area completely to myself, except for a couple of squirrels and a deer I saw as its white rump disappeared into the trees. Eventually the trail split off into two directions, but it was a large loop that cut across an electrical line right of way before it went through more trees.  There were plenty of benches to sit on if you needed a break, but I thought it was too cold to stop.  When I made it back to the parking lot I was pleased to see I was almost at 5,000 steps--half of my goal for the day.

Five years ago today: It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Silver And Dollars

When I left the house today I had a long list of stops to make.  One of them was going to a local coin dealer and picking up two 1-ounce silver coins in commemorative "Welcome Baby" holders that Hubby Tony and I will gift to two newborns.  The coins are usually relatively cheap--you pay that day's price for silver plus a small surcharge, and the new parents seem to really appreciate them.

One of the two gifts

While I waited for the clerk to print out my receipt on the far side of the store I watched the man standing at the counter 12 feet to my right. He must have been selling something big, because his clerk walked away, came back with a stack of $100 bills, and started counting them out in a voice loud enough for me to hear. When the whole pile had been counted there were 52 bills!

The man was still standing there talking to the clerk when I walked out of the store.  I would have liked to see if all his money actually fit into his wallet (or if not, exactly how he was going to carry it).

Five years ago today: Skipping Christmas

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Dining Room For A Crowd

Last night Hubby Tony and I hosted a dinner for the members (and spouses) of a group he's involved in.  Including us, there were 17 people. We provided the drinks and main dish, and everyone else brought a side dish or a dessert.

A couple of weeks before the event Tony and I started talking about where everyone would sit.  With both leaves pulled out our dining room table comfortably seats 10, but we can squeeze 12 around it if we have to. For extended family dinners we move the long table so it's on a diagonal in the room and set up a card table in the corner. However, for this event not even that would be enough seats.

Using some creative thinking, Tony and I figured out that by moving the credenza around to an adjacent wall we could add an extra folding table at the far end of the room to make a T-shaped seating area. We borrowed a table and chairs from one of the people who would be attending the dinner.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on decorating the tables, so I went with an eclectic look.  Both tablecloths were white, but two different patterns. I hit up multiple thrift stores to find napkins, deciding on a color scheme of blues, golds, and creams. At one of the stores I found a dark blue shower curtain which I turned into table runners. On top of the runners I set a mismatched collection of votive candle holders interspaced with small gold ball ornaments.

The result (minus the napkins, which I rolled around the silverware and set on the buffet table):

Five years ago today: Zen Litterbox

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Won The Bagel Lottery

This morning I got an email from Panera with the subject line that got my attention:

Kathy, get a free bagel every day this month.

Alexander Klink via Wikimedia
I didn't need to read the body of the message to know what it said, because I already knew about the promotion (which is open to anyone who has a MyPanera card). DIL Nicole had been the lucky recipient of the same email in October, and when we were visiting late that month I walked with her to pick up her daily bagel several times.

I don't know how many days I'll remember to take advantage of the offer, but I started the month off right.  Today when I drove right by a Saint Louis Bread Company (the name for the chain in this area) my car smoothly turned into the strip mall parking lot and found a convenient parking space.  It was getting close to lunch time, but I didn't have to wait long to be served.  I chose my bagel, had it sliced in half and bagged, and was back out in my car in less than five minutes.

Come to think of it, it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to make sure I drive by a Bread Company tomorrow, too.  After that, we'll see.