Wednesday, October 31, 2018


At the beginning of my class at the gym today the instructor said that in honor of Halloween we were going to warm up an unusual body part. Then she played this song and invited us to snap along:

Five years ago today: Hallowe'en

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

On the Road Again

Last night Hubby Tony and returned home from a quick (five day) road trip to Dallas Texas to visit Son Tony and DIL-to-be Ie.  Instead of taking the most efficient route on the way there, we detoured through Little Rock Arkansas and Shreveport Louisiana. Here are a few highlights:

The Flying Fish Restaurant in Little Rock collects Billy Bass animatronic plaques. (They also have great food. This is where I got the tasty fried fish dinner)

In Little Rock we stayed in a compact 269 square foot residence, appropriately named The Tiny House.

After we left Little Rock we drove to Shreveport, where we visited the Louisiana State Fair. 

On Saturday Tony and Ie took us to a Japanese grocery store, where we bought food to make a great dinner in their condo.

On Sunday night I went to my first-ever NBA game.  The Dallas Mavericks were playing the Utah Jazz. It was Breast Cancer Awareness night, and there were pink rally towels draped over the back of every seat.

Five years ago today: Love Your Cats

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Good Grease!

The National Today website told me that today was National Greasy Food Day. I didn't need any encouragement to celebrate.

Tonight's dinner
Five years ago today: Processing Pomegranate

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Real Pain In The Heel

Around here the best time to try to grow a new yard is in the fall. The renovation season runs from late August to mid-October, but early September is the ideal time. The soil is still warm, the temperatures have cooled off, and the precipitation picks up. Usually. This year we had the yard aerated and overseeded the first week of September . That was right before weeks of record setting high temperatures and below average precipitation. We watered the seed multiple times a day, but the only places it sprouted were the parts of the yard that don't get much sun (and where, based on past experience, it will eventually die off).

Not only did the seed not germinate, but some more of our established grass also died. St Louis is a hard place to have a nice lawn. It's too cold in the winter for warm-season grasses, and too hot in the summer weather for cold-season varieties.  Hubby Tony and I aren't lawn perfectionists, but big bare brown patches wasn't really the look we were going for. I figured we'd have to live with the damage and try again next year.

Last week I saw our neighbor having seed put down. I contacted our company to see if there was anything they could do for us. They told me it takes 6-8 weeks for grass to grow strong enough roots to survive the winter (and there's not enough growing time left for that) but they came out two days later and spread a new layer of seed on the yard anyway.

Since then we've made sure the seed stays damp by sprinkling the lawn every day. That involves running the sprinkler for 10-15 minutes in each section. Tony did it over the weekend, and I've been in charge of the project for the past few days. I start the water, set the timer on my cell phone, and go back into the house. I didn't want to track dirt in on each trip, and the easiest way to solve the problem was to take my house shoes off and go barefoot outside. When I came in I could slide my flip flops back on quickly.

That worked well until today. Even though the top layer of the yard was wet, the clay soil was still hard, and the impact was making my heel right twinge. Several years ago I had some minor plantar fasciitis in my right foot and have no desire to revisit the problem. Before the pain got worse I grabbed a golf ball and performed the golf ball trick my chiropractor taught me, rolling the ball from the base of my toes all the way down to my heel, applying as much pressure as I could stand.

I'm happy to announce that the golf ball trick did indeed help. I'll repeat the procedure again before I go to bed tonight and hope that takes care of the remaining issues. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I'll let Mother Nature be in charge of watering.

Five years ago today: Disappearing Act

Sunday, October 21, 2018

As Good A Reason As Any

I read in the newspaper today that the developer of the Little Free Library, Todd Bol, died from pancreatic cancer several days ago. In his honor, tonight when Hubby Tony and I were out walking after dinner I stopped at the Library at a house several blocks away from ours.

This location always has a nice selection of genres to choose from. Today that included Romance, Mystery, Thriller, and Science Fiction novels, volumes about Spirituality, Health, History, and Religion, a couple of Biographies, and a handful of Young Adult books.

By this point in the day the sun was going down and it was starting to feel a little chilly. When I left the house I wrapped a scarf around my neck and put on a fleece jacket, but could also have used some gloves. I solved the cold hands problem by pulling the jacket's sleeves down to keep them warm.

After looking all the books over I had it narrowed down to two, then chose the one that was small enough to fit into my jacket pocket. That way I wouldn't have to expose my hand to carry it.

Five years ago today: Why Me?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Laugh Out Loud

This afternoon I was cleaning up a pile of papers on my desk and came across this great list of 25 Reasons You Need To Laugh Out Loud Often someone had given me. Did you know that laughter:
  • Eases and relaxes muscle tension
  • Reduces the level of stress hormones in the body
  • Increases HGH
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Improves blood flow
  • Helps your heart
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Helps you heal faster
  • Helps lower blood sugar levels
  • Helps improve sleep
  • Helps people improve their coping skills
  • Helps people in managing pain
  • Is a form of physical exercise
  • Makes you more attractive
  • Helps reduce aggression
  • Energizes your organs
  • Facilitates digestion
  • Helps people save as much as 30% on their medical expenses
  • Helps you breathe easier
  • Improves self-image
  • Encourages creativity
  • Increases your lifespan
  • Helps improve a person’s productivity
  • Improves relationships
  • Keeps you looking young
That's a whole lot of benefits for something that's just plain fun.  Try it and see what happens.

Five years ago today: Future Chefs Meal

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Time For Reading

I feel like there's a lot of blog hopping and cross pollination out there, so you may already know this, but earlier in the week Victor S E Moubarak of the blog Time For Reflections posted that he had just released the book Take Care Of My Sheep, a collection of short stories starring Father Ignatius, a priest living in an unnamed northern English town in the 1950s and early 1960s.

I'm not in book buying mode right now (we're battling mildew on the bookshelves in the basement again, so I'm actually purging), but I enjoyed the sample story Victor included in his post. I clicked over to the Amazon link, found out that the book came in hard copy and (VERY INEXPENSIVE) Kindle versions. I'm now the proud owner of a new e-book.

The book is a fast read. Some of the stories are more overtly religious than others, referring to specific Catholic practices. However, others are just heartwarmingly sweet. I suggest you check it out.

Five years ago today: STUPID!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Free To A Good Home

Last Monday the high temperature was 20 degrees above average. A cold front came through and we had one day of beautiful autumn weather, then the temperatures continued to fall. Yesterday it was 20 degrees below average. There's a frost advisory tonight.

Although I'm hopeful that the temperatures will pop back up to close to the 70° average before getting permanently cold, the advisory was a wake-up call to get the house plants inside.  Most of them are tropicals that summer outside on the deck, and they do not take kindly to chills.

I tackled the project today. Unlike two years ago, this time there were no living surprises in the pots. Most everything made it to a permanent winter home (except for the pots of mother-in-law tongue and ginger, which are temporarily in the master bathtub).  I ran out of time and energy before I got around to the pots of herbs, but I shoved them up against the house. They should be fine

Every spring I divide the plants, so every fall I end up with extras.   This year that included several spider plants--a hanging basket, a six inch pot, and a small pot of plantlets that fell off the main plant today that got potted up. There was also a philodendron that went to town outside, growing stems that were easily three feet long. 

What to do with them? I had planned on donating everything to the church's Fall Festival Country Store, but this year they didn't have that booth. The cats would nibble on the plants if I left them around the house (and then get sick), so I needed to get them out of the house. This afternoon I offered everything up to my Facebook friends. If there are no takers, tomorrow I'll post them on Freecycle. Based on past experience they should get snapped up.

Free to a good home
Five years ago today: Red Light, Green Light

Friday, October 12, 2018

New Shoe Blues

Over the summer I bought two pairs of shoes for fall. Both pairs fit well in the store. Both pairs were on clearance. Both pairs were a final sale.

Ready to ramble!
It's finally cooled off enough to think about anything other than sandals and flip flops, so I was excited to start wearing my new shoes. The first time I put on the tan pair they fit like a glove, and took me throughout my busy day with no issues. However, I wasn't so lucky with the grey ones. Even though they were comfortable in the store, in my closet the shoe's tapered toe boxes didn't leave my toes any room to wiggle.  Not good!

I tried walked around the house a couple of times while wearing the shoes, then gave up and changed into tennis shoes. I'm not giving up on them yet, though. Hopefully after a little breaking in they'll be as comfortable as their closet mates.

Five years ago today: Sausage, Anyone?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Fall Foliage Map

If you live in the United States and like to see the leaves changing at this time of year, you might want to check out the fun interactive Fall Foliage Prediction Map.

The slider bar at the bottom of the map has two-week increments from the end of August through mid-November. Clicking on a date will show you the status of the leaf color in any area of the country.

The map uses historical data and forecast predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make an educated guess about peak timing, and according to the website, is "the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves."

Five years ago today: Presentation Is Everything....

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Time Sure Flies!

Today is Grandson Jay's second birthday.

Last year Hubby Tony and I were there to help celebrate. Son Brian and DIL Nicole have a small house, with room for only one set of guests at a time, so this year the 'other' grandma (Nicole's mom) got that privilege. However, over the weekend Tony and I got to FaceTime with Jay as he opened the package we sent him.

I had a great time at the store picking out two books I thought Jay would enjoy. One had artistic, attention-getting colorful illustrations. The other featured trucks...dump trucks, bulldozers, excavators, cement mixers, cranes, and haulers. I figured I knew which one would his favorite, and I was right.
(During our our last visit we found out that Jay was truck crazy. His favorite sticker books featured the big vehicles. In the car pointed out every one we passed on the road. At home, he would run to the window every time he heard the trash truck go by.)
As we wrapped up the call I heard Jay flipping through the pages of the book, excitedly pointing out the trucks on every page. I suspect that if he has his way that book will be in regular rotation at his house for quite some time.

Clip Art Extras
Five years ago today: Presentation Is Everything....

Monday, October 8, 2018

Famous In Their Field

Hubby Tony was off work today. I had a lunch assignment to do. I invited him to come with me, and we made a day out of it. Our first stop was the pharmacy to get flu shots. Next, because the weather was still abnormally hot and humid (with a forecast in the upper 80s Fahrenheit) we went to the mall I used to work at and walked several laps. After that got boring Tony suggested we drive to the area by the restaurant and walk around there. We found out it wasn't too bad as long as you stayed in the shade, and the Central West End area has a lot of mature trees.

As we were walking I suggested popping into the World Chess Hall of Fame.  It's been there since 2011. We've walked by it many times, but had never gone in until a couple of months ago, when I spent some time checking out the merchandise in the gift shop. Tony agreed that it sounded like a fun thing to do.

It's hard to miss the Hall of Fame building, as it has the World's Largest Chess Piece (according to Guinness) standing out front:
World's largest chess piece (2018)

There's also a very big chess board painted on the ground next to the chess piece, with pieces so large you have to pick them up with both hands.  Tony and I  started in the gift shop browsing through the dozens of types of chess sets and other chess-related merchandise. When we heard the receptionist tell another group of visitors the museum was free to visit we decided to take a look ourselves.

The Hall of Fame is in a three story building. The first and second floors each have an art gallery. Today the main level held an exhibition of mixed media panels. The second level had a display of Harry Benson photographs, including a series he had taken of Bobby Fischer in the 1970s, ones he had taken at this year's Sinquefield Cup (which is an international chess tournament that's held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis across the street from the Hall of Fame), and a selection of photos of celebrities, presidents, and royals.

I'm not a chess player, and the Hall of Fame on the third floor was (to me) the least interesting part. However, if you knew a lot about the game I can see where it would be very inspirational. The room had plaques for each of the members of the U.S. and World Halls of Fame, and there were many artifacts and trophies on display. Tony and I were the only ones in there, and there was a knowledgeable docent that was able to answer all of my questions.

After looking around the whole building we realized we were hungry and decided to head to lunch. Once outside I looked at the chess board and thought someday I might come back and see if I could figure it out.

Five years ago today: Gratitude In All Things

Sunday, October 7, 2018

On The Level

For several months there's been a visible void underneath the right side of our front porch. One day I noticed a critter running into the hole, and Hubby Tony and I put the problem on the "we'll get around to fixing it someday" list. Then we noticed that the walkway leading up to the porch was cracking and one of the slabs was sinking, and the problem moved up a little bit on the "someday" list. However, the day I tripped and almost fell on the uneven walkway the project rose to the top of the list.

Years ago we had porch mudjacked. The contractors drilled holes in the porch, then poured in a concrete slurry which was supposed to support it. That worked for a while, but eventually most of the slurry washed out from under the porch and down the incline on the side of the house. Based on that past bad experience I started looking around for other solutions to our problem.

About that time we got a packet of direct mail coupons. Included was one for a company that did polyjacking. I did some research, and found out the process used expanding polyurethane foam instead of a slurry to lift up concrete. After checking out the company's credentials we signed a contract to have them do the work.

The technician came out this week. I was not able to watch his progress closely, but I understand it looked something like this:

Now our porch and walkway are nice and level. The void is filled and no critters will be able to hang out in there. I hope that this is the last time we have to deal with this issue.

Five years ago today: What's In Your Bin?

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Somebody more in the know than me pointed out that today (October 4th) is National Trucker's Day. And, in honor of the shortened 10/4 date, it's also National CB Radio Day.

In recognition of the days, here's a classic song, and the trailer from the 1978 movie that was made from it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Will Summer EVER Go Away?

The chart from today's paper says it all:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
For the foreseeable future the temperatures here will be well above average.  What a drag!

A little over a week ago things cooled off, and I thought we'd seen the last of Summer. I opened opened up the house, and enjoyed the series of warm days and brisk evenings. Thinking that Fall was here to stay, I got one of my two bins of winter clothes down from its shelf in the closet. I never found the time to empty it, though, and on Sunday I put it back on the shelf (since I won't need those clothes for a while).

As you can tell from the chart, things have been heating up for a couple of days. Yesterday the middle of the afternoon was a tad uncomfortable, but by bedtime there was enough of a breeze to make things bearable. I enjoyed one more night of falling asleep and waking up to the sounds of nature.

This morning it was still nice, and I thought that maybe 'they' had gotten the forecast wrong. However, by lunchtime it was sultry in the house. The woodwork felt sticky from the humidity, and since I knew the temperatures would only get worse I closed up the house and turned the air conditioner back on. I know the mini heat wave is only temporary, but it's cramping my style.  In this area October is supposed to be about hikes, hayrides, hoodies, and hot cider.  Not shorts and sandals. 

Five years ago today: Mall Miscellany