Thursday, January 31, 2019

From Heavy Coat To Light Jacket

The area's five day forecast:


Yesterday we set a record for cold. Monday it will be 20 degrees above average! Mother Nature must be very confused.

Five years ago today: Cookies In Cups

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Freezing Phone

Today the company I was doing work for asked me to audio record part of it. To do the recording I turned to the Voice Memo app on my iPhone, which has always served me well for things like this. One portion of the job involved driving in an enclosed, unheated golf cart from one building to another, and then backtracking to the start ten minutes later. Including walking time, each leg took about two minutes in a brisk (25°Fahrenheit) temperature.

At the end of the job I thanked my contact person and returned to my car. I tried to wake up my phone, but instead of my normal lock screen this time the screen was blank white and it didn't respond when I touched it. In addition, none of the buttons worked. I was concerned that my phone might have died, but several minutes later things returned to normal and I was able to open the phone up. Not everything was hunky dory, though. When I looked at my voice memo recording,  I found that only a third of it was there.


I came home and sent an email to the company, then turned to Google to research what might have caused the problem. Much to my surprise, I found out that Apple suggests 32° Fahrenheit as the lowest operating ambient temperature.

My phone didn't work because of the cold weather. It's more of a weather weakling than I am!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Moving Up, Moving Out

Son Donald is once again moving on.

In 2008, after high school and a year of college, he got a full time job and moved into an apartment with a friend. They eventually found some other roommates and rented a house. When that group disintegrated in 2013 Donald boomeranged back home. At first, he continued his full time job, but eventually started going to community college part-time. Part time turned into full time, and in 2016 he moved out again to attend classes at Missouri S&T. Last month he graduated.

Donald attended the on-campus job fairs and sent out resumes, but as his last semester heated up he dropped those activities to concentrate on finishing his class work. He left Rolla with a diploma, but no job. Right after graduation came the end of the year, when not much gets done in most offices. After the holidays were over Donald asked to be scheduled for some shifts at his old job. He also kept applying for professional jobs, and a little over a week ago got a call offering him a position.

Although Donald's been back in town for more than a month, we haven't seen much of him. One of his university friends asked him to do some house sitting for him while he was out of town, and while that was going on a second university friend was researching and renting a house in another part of the city. Donald also spent time there, eventually deciding to move in as a room mate.

Today was Donald's first day as a professional. He had worked a shift at his old job last night. Because it would mean a shorter commute, he chose to spend the night here. It was exciting to see him all dressed up and ready to start the next step of his life. Hubby Tony and I wished him well as he got into his car to drive away.

I know we'll still see Donald regularly, though, at least in the short term. He has several storage boxes of his items in his bedroom, and food he's purchased for himself in the pantry. 

Five years ago today: Cold Weather Is Good For Something

Saturday, January 26, 2019

From One Grandma To Another

Back in June Son Brian and Grandson Jay had to come for an emergency visit. Because he would be traveling without DIL Nicole, Brian didn't want to have to carry a big car seat through the airport. Instead, he bought one online and had it delivered to the house.

At two years old, Jay is young enough that he still has to use a rear-facing car seat placed in the center rear seat of the auto. The one Brian bought would not fit into Hubby Tony's car, and it was hard to install in mine. However, we got it in and used it for several short trips over the two days they were in town.
Brian left the seat here, and in December just before Jay and family flew in Tony put it into my car again.  We had to guess how much Jay had grown and adjust the straps accordingly. As it turns out we guessed wrong, and his parents had to re-adjust them in the airport passenger pick up area (which was very stressful for everyone).  During the week the family was here the seat got a lot of use, but I heard from his parents that Jay was never really comfortable in it.  At the end of the trip Brian announced that they would get a different seat the next time they came into town.

I wasn't sure what to do with the barely-used seat, so I put it in the spare bedroom, and after a couple of weeks I started looking past it. However, last week I stepped into the bedroom, re-saw it, and decided it was time for it to go. After researching the seat's expiration date to make sure it was safe to give away, I posted its availability to my Facebook friends. Six people inquired about it. Interestingly enough, four of them were grandmas, and the other two were young people who said their moms might be interested.

I contacted the first woman who messaged me and told her the seat was hers.  She picked it up last night. The woman has an in-town grandson that was born in mid-November, and I know it will get a lot of use at her house.

Five years ago today: Car Wash

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Good For Cats And Children

It's sad to think about, but our cats are getting older. When Pepper started having trouble jumping up on the couch for his nightly lap time with Hubby Tony and me, the vet diagnosed him with a bit of arthritis. For a while we would just reach down and pick him up, but that seemed to offend his dignity so I placed a small Amazon box in front of the couch for him to use as a boost.

That worked for a while, but eventually the top of the cardboard got weak and didn't provide the proper support. I looked around in thrift, craft, and hardware stores for something to take its place, but what I saw either wasn't the right size or cost more than I wanted to spend.  One day it occurred to me toddlers often need stools, and a baby supply store  might have what I needed. Sure enough, the "potty" section of a big box store had several choices. I brought home the one I thought was the most stylish.
Pepper's new lift
As an added bonus, the next time Grandson Jay comes for a visit he will be able to use it too.

Five years ago today: Back In Business!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Let Freedom Ring 2019

Hubby Tony and I wanted to do something today to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. My weather app said the temperature was going to be in the mid-20 degree range, so we passed on the outside commemorations. Instead, we decided to go to the Christ Church Cathedral, which was doing five continual hours of readings from Dr. King’s historic speeches and writings.

On the way to the downtown church we stopped for lunch. Tony pointed out a restaurant that had advertised they were giving away free meals to furloughed Federal workers. (It was shortly after 11 AM, and they had just opened. They didn't look very busy.) Thanks to the holiday the downtown streets were quite empty, and we didn't have to feed a parking meter.

When we entered the church two friendly people at a registration desk encouraged us to sign in, and told us what to do if we wanted to take a turn reading. We took seats about halfway back and settled in. There was a screen in front of the altar showing a selection of photos from Dr. King's life, but I also spent some time looking around at the beautiful sanctuary area while I listened.

Eventually Tony decided to go up and read. I was content to stay in my seat and enjoy the beautiful, serene space.but when he returned he encouraged me to take a turn. Eventually I went and sat in the staging area seat next to the lectern until the current speaker was done. As he left he let me know where he left off. I stepped up to the microphone and saw the three-ring binder holding the double spaced pages in nice large font. I read two pages, then stepped down for the next volunteer.

Taking my turn

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Life On Their Own Terms

I was cleaning out the drawer of an end table today when I uncovered a copy of Wild Women: Crusaders, Curmudgeons, and Completely Corsetless Ladies in the Otherwise Virtuous Victorian Era by Autumn Stephens that I must have stashed there several years ago.  I immediately stopped what I was doing to sit down and visit with it again.

The book contains short biographies of 150 noteworthy women that from 1837-1901 who bucked the system in many different ways. Some of the them (like Louisa May Alcott, Nellie Bly, Emily Dickinson, and Carry Nation) were familiar to me. However, I thought the lesser-known females were even more fascinating. Like:
  • Belva Lockwood, one of the first female lawyers in the United States who ran for President on an equal-rights platform
  • Ah Toy, a San Franciscan call girl who appeared in court to sue her clients for failing to "make appropriate payment for services rendered".
  • Annie Taylor, a schoolteacher who survived a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
  • Amelia Bloomer, who gave her name to the divided garments for the lower body that revolutionized women's dress.
  • Sarah and Adelaide Yates, who married Siamese Twins Chang and Eng Butler, and gave birth to 21 children between them
Five years ago today: Offline

Saturday, January 19, 2019

This Is The Way The Cookie Crumbles

Yesterday we ordered lunch from our favorite Chinese carryout restaurant. Hubby Tony and Son Donald got lunch specials. (I wasn't hungry, so I decided to have some Hot and Sour soup.)

Because only two meals were ordered, the bag only contained two fortune cookies. Donald isn't a fan of them, so he usually opens the package, reads the fortune, and leaves the cookie part for me. I asked Donald if he wanted to do that again, but he declined. So I took care of both parts.

I read the fortune out loud, then Tony started laughing. He had received the exact same sentiment!

It will remain to be seen which of the three of us gets the luck.

Five years ago today: Things Are Not Always As They Appear

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

How Do You Sleep At Night?

I was surfing the internet tonight and I came upon a mindless quiz called Which Position Do You Sleep In? by Karina Collins. According to the home page of the website, she is a psychic and tarot card reader.

The quiz starts out by explaining that the way someone curls up in bed says a lot about their personality. Next it offers six popular positions-Fetal, Log, Yearner, Soldier, Freefaller, and Starfish and describes the characteristics imparted by that position.

I don't know about you, but I couldn't fit myself neatly into one category. At the beginning of the night I start out laying on my right side with my legs are curled up a bit, but not quite to Fetal. But before I fall asleep I turn over onto my left side, and assume the same position.  (If I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I repeat the procedure each time.) When my neck hurts I'll lay on my back like a Soldier, turning my head to one side and stretching out my neck. If it's hot the Soldier turns into a Starfish, with my arms spread out to catch some coolness. Sometimes  I'll also snuggle a small pillow up against my chest, which puts my arms out in front like a Yearner. The only thing I never do is sleep on my stomach.

On the website every position had positive characteristics attributed to it, so I must be a sociable sensitive romantic who is open, spiritual, sophisticated, and reserved, and has good self esteem.

Five years ago today: Operation Cold

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Tell-Tale Stain

The last time we talked I told you about the snowstorm in my area. By the time it was over we had a foot of fluffy snow at the house, which was on the high end for the metro area. Hubby Tony and I shoveled twice-once on Friday night and again on Saturday morning. By the afternoon the temperature rose just above freezing, which helped melt the dregs on the shoveled areas. The roads looked pretty clear, so we drove to church and a nearby restaurant for dinner.

This afternoon I ventured out again to run some errands, including a produce run. One of the things I brought home was some fresh beets. My plan was to roast them and have them on hand for snacks. I carefully peeled the two pounds of beets, chopped them into pieces, and put them into the oven.

I didn't have any rubber gloves to wear, but I thought that if I was careful I wouldn't get beet juice on my hands. I thought wrong.  By the time I was done my hands were red. The cutting board was red. There were red spots on the counter, and even a blob on the floor where one piece of peel fell.

I washed my hands thoroughly with soap and water, but the stain remained so I turned to my friend Google for advice. The first site I visited suggested I rub the stain with a raw potato. I didn't have any potatoes in the house, so I moved on. The next one recommended a combination of lemon juice and salt, which helped a little. The third site told me to use a paste of cornmeal and lemon juice. Bingo!

All better
As an added bonus, the cornmeal also did a good job of exfoliating my hands.

Five years ago today: You're Only As Old As You Feel

Friday, January 11, 2019

January 11, 2019

Today is the anniversary of my birth. As it turns out, it's also the day of the largest snow storm our area has seen for years.

The weather people have been salivating about the upcoming storm for days. There were predictions of anywhere from seven inches to a foot of white stuff. As happens around here, the snow was all anyone could talk about. When was it going to start? How much would we get? Yesterday the cancellations started-schools closing early, and after school events called off. The forecasters get things wrong as much as they get them right, so I was skeptical. However, I'm also a realist, so I figured that my plans to go out for dinner and dancing would probably have to be changed.

This morning the sun never came out from behind the clouds, and when I left the house for my morning activities the air felt heavy and humid. Hubby Tony was home today, so he and Son Donald took me out for a celebratory lunch. On the drive home the first flakes started coming down. When we pulled into the garage twenty minutes later the snow was steady, and a light film covered the driveway. I was ready to hunker down in the house, but Donald gathered some clothes and headed out to a friend's house. (He texted me when he arrived, saying the driving had been some of the most stressful he had done in a while.)

I decided to take advantage of the enforced time inside to nap, fiddle on the computer, and basically do nothing. Many of my Facebook friends sent me birthday wishes. This was my favorite:

After dinner Tony and I went outside to do a first shoveling of the white stuff. At 7 pm there were 5 1/2” on the ground. By the time we went to bed the driveway was covered with another thick layer.

Tonight the news was filled with stories of horrible traffic jams, and how it was taking people hours to drive distances that usually took far less than that. The meteorologist predicted this storm could be record-setting. I ended my day thankful that I was home safe and warm.

Five years ago today: Back To The Future

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Jewel Of A House

I had heard that there was a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Kirkwood, and have driven past an unassuming sign close to the corner of Ballas and Doughtery Ferry Roads in Kirkwood for years. It wasn't until Hubby Tony started researching field trip activities that I put two and two together. He arranged his schedule, made a reservation to visit the house, and asked me if I wanted to go. My answer was 'yes', and I'm SO glad I did.

As seen from the driveway. No photos allowed inside.
The actual name of the house is The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park. It was designed and constructed for Russell and Ruth Kraus in 1950, and is an example of Wright's Usonian architecture.

Our tour started at 2 pm, but we were instructed to arrive 15 minutes early. When we pulled up the winding driveway into the small lot, there was only one other car. We walked up to the front door, where the docent encouraged us to look around the outside of the house until the tour started.  Tony and I walked far enough down the driveway to take the photo you see above, then walked across the lawn to see the other sides.

By the time the tour started we were a group of twelve. The docent welcomed everyone into the shed area, situated on the other side of the carport area from the house. There we watched a video about the house and its construction. I learned that this was the architect’s first building in the St. Louis area, and one of only five Wright designs in Missouri.

The house was built into a hill on the 10 1/2 acre property, and the same brick, concrete, glass, and tidewater red cypress were used both inside and out. The initial design for the house (two intersecting parallelograms) was conceived in 1950. It took quite a while to find a contractor who felt he could tackle the intricate angles and unusual building requirements. Construction continued until at least 1960 and the house was never formally completed. The Krauses moved in January 1956, and lived there together until Ruth’s death in 1992.

We learned that in the early 1990s a group organized a non-profit organization to save the house. In 1997 the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places of the National Park Service, and in 2001 the non-profit purchased the house and grounds. They transferred the deed to the St. Louis County Parks Department, which maintains the grounds. After extensive renovation the house was opened for tours.

After the video was over, the group moved into the main house. The docent gave us one last reminder not to sit on or touch anything, then opened the door to let the group in. We walked down the narrow, low hallway into the open living area, where she pointed out the concrete slab floors with radiant heat, the built-in wall shelves, and the wall of glass doors (which were designed and built by Russell Kraus after getting Wright's approval) leading out to the patio. Most of the original Wright-designed furnishings and fabrics were still there, and the docent pointed out the places where they weren't.

We moved to the master bedroom, where we saw the parallelogram-shaped bed. Off of that was a small bathroom with glass panels covering the redwood walls, and on the other side of the room, a private lanai accessed through a door in the large wall of glass windows. The guest bedroom had the another parallelogram-shaped bed.

On the other side of the living area, we saw the kitchen (one of the rooms that had not been completely finished), which contained a mixture of Lloyd-planned cabinets and countertops along with newer appliances. The last stop was Russell Kraus's studio, where the docent pointed out the hexagonal-shaped light table (that they believe was designed by Kraus) and the rolling work table with underneath drawers. She showed us copies of the original plans.

At the end of the tour the docent volunteered to re-open the shed, which also contains the incredibly tiny gift shop. Tony and I are not in the market for any more mementos, so we declined.

Five years ago today: Pass The Buck[et]

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Every Day There's Something Worth Celebrating

Remember that song about the Twelve Days of Christmas? Today is the Twelfth Day. In the Catholic church it's known as the Feast of the Epiphany, the day that the Three Kings visited Jesus. The day is also the beginning of the Mardi Gras season, which continues through Fat Tuesday (the day before Lent starts).

Hubby Tony cooks dinner on Sundays. To tie his meal in with the Mardi Gras season, today he served roasted Cajun-spiced butternut squash on top of a bed of rice, and smothered everything with a gravy made with the trinity of onions, celery, and green bell pepper. The entree was accompanied by a Cajun cole slaw.

The photo doesn't do it justice.
 Dessert was baked apples served with an almond butter dipping sauce.

Five years ago today: Yes, We're Open!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Hymns For Every Profession

  • The Dentist's Hymn - Crown Him with Many Crowns
  • The Weatherman's Hymn - There Shall Be Showers of Blessings
  • The Contractor's Hymn - The Church’s One Foundation
  • The Tailor's Hymn – Holy, Holy, Holy
  • The Golfer's Hymn - There Is A Green Hill Far Away
  • The Politician's Hymn - Standing on The Promises
  • The Optometrist’s Hymn - Open My Eyes That I Might See
  • The IRS Agent's Hymn - I Surrender All
  • The Gossip's Hymn - Pass It On
  • The Electrician’s Hymn - Send the Light
  • The Shopper's Hymn - Sweet Bye And Bye
  • The Realtor's Hymn - Mansion Over the Hilltop
  • The Massage Therapist’s Hymn - He Touched Me
  • The Pilot's Hymn - I'll Fly Away
  • The Paramedic's Hymn - Revive Us Again
  • The Judge's Hymn - Almost Persuaded
  • The Psychiatrist's Hymn - Just A Little Talk with Jesus
  • The Credit Card Holder's Hymn - I Have A Charge to Keep
  • The Zookeeper's Hymn - All Creatures of Our God and King
  • The Postal Worker's Hymn - So Send I You
  • The Waiter's Hymn - Fill My Cup, Lord
  • The Gardener's Hymn - Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming
  • The Lifeguard's Hymn - Rescue the Perishing
  • The Criminal's Hymn - Search Me, O God
  • The Baker's Hymn - When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder
  • The Shoe Repairer's Hymn - It Is Well with My Soul
  • The Travel Agent's Hymn - Anywhere with Jesus
  • The Geologist's Hymn - Rock of Ages
  • The Hematologist’s Hymn - Are You Washed in The Blood?
  • The Menswear Clerk’s Hymn - Blest Be the Tie
  • The Umpire's Hymn - I Need No Other Argument
  • The Librarian's Hymn - Whispering Hope
Five years ago today: It Felt Like A VERY Long Day

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Make It Fancy

Once again this year, a fraternal group Hubby Tony belongs to sponsored a New Year's Eve dance at our church. Tony divided the event coordinating responsibilities with another man. Part of Tony's responsibility was to be at the parish center several hours before the doors opened to let in the people setting up the bar and photo booth, and the members of the band.

Last year when Tony did the same job, he was able to coordinate the times and come home for a quick dinner. But when things weren't working out as conveniently this year we came up with an alternate solution. I would take our dinner to him.

When he left for the first round of let-ins Tony took his dress up clothes, our card table, and his portable mp3 player. I quickly got everything together for the meal, changed my clothes and put on makeup. An hour later I left the house with a tote bag holding linens, china, silverware, a votive candle, and a bottle of seltzer, a thermal lunch box containing pork loin roast, rice pilaf, a small loaf of take-and-bake bread, and a Yeti filled with coffee, a small cooler holding pre-dressed salads, a plastic container of butter, a container of mixed cut fruit for dessert, and lime slices for the seltzer. An additional tote bag held the cake roll that was our snack contribution to the table.

I arrived at the parish center at 5:00, just as the last of the bar set up people were leaving. Tony had placed the table in the middle of the dance floor close to the stage, right underneath the bag of balloons for the midnight drop. The room was dark except for the glow of the parking lot lights coming in through the large building windows and a couple of dim emergency lights. A laser light projector at the far end of the room covered the walls and ceiling with a random pattern of small colored dots.

I dressed the table, lit the candle, and got out the salads and bread while Tony retrieved ice for our drinks. When he returned he turned on some music and we made a first toast to the new year. After the salad was finished Tony removed the plates while I got out the main course items. We did the same thing when it was time for dessert and coffee.

Our timing was perfect. Just as we finished the first of the band members arrived and our special time was over. Tony moved back into volunteer mode while I cleaned everything up and took it out to the car. Soon there was no sign that a special meal had taken place.

Five years ago today: Last Night/First Night