Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Decade Of Days

It's been ten days since Hubby Tony started his100-day retirement countdown. I tried to think how we could celebrate the event, and a Google search led me to a song from 1976 called "Ten Percent" by the band Double Exposure. (Get it? Ten days is ten percent of 100.)


I had never heard the song before, but Wikipedia told me that it peaked at No.2 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, No. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 63 on the Hot Soul Singles chart. The infectious beat was similar to many of the songs they played when I went out dancing regularly, and the lyrics were airy but cute.

When Tony announced he was off work I forwarded the song's video to him. It took him a second to realize its significance, then he grinned and started the video. For three minutes we danced around his office like we were back in our teens.

Five years ago today: It's A Real Mess Out There

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

It's All About The Fizz

I think that sparkling water is a nice change from what comes from the tap. However, to have it in the house I have to remember to get it on the grocery list (or make a special trip when I forget), and a lot of times it's not worth the extra effort.

When Hubby Tony and I were in Dallas back in October, Son Tony offered us carbonated water from his Sodastream machine. It took less than a minute to insert the special bottle filled with cold water and hold down the button on top to release carbon dioxide from the cylinder inside the machine. He told us about the drops that were available to flavor the water, but we all decided they weren't necessary. It was good plain or with a twist of citrus.

This year, instead of a traditional Christmas gift exchange we decided to draw names by family units, and give a 'household' type of gift. Tony and I were both excited to receive a Fizzi model Sodastream.

The Fizzi is the least sophisticated model, but it works just fine for us. It's cordless, and doesn't take up much room on the countertop. You can carbonate one liter of water at a time, which is just enough for us at dinner. (However, I can see wanting more when the weather heats up again, and I can always invest in some extra bottles.)

According to the website, the carbonating cylinder will make up to 60 liters of sparkling water. When it runs out we will have the option of buying a new one at one of several stores or exchanging it through the mail.  All very easy.

Five years ago today: Wanna Escape?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

You'll Never Believe What Happened

I had the toughest time of my life. First, I got angina pectoris and then arteriosclerosis. 

Just as I was recovering from these, I got tuberculosis, double pneumonia and phthisis. 

Then they gave me hypodermics. 

Appendicitis was followed by tonsillectomy. 

These gave way to aphasia and hypertrophic cirrhosis.

 I completely lost my memory for a while. 

  I know I had diabetes and acute indigestion, besides gastritis, rheumatism, lumbago and neuritis. 

I don't know how I pulled through it all. It was the hardest spelling test I've ever had.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

"Christmask" 2020

The strange Christmas of 2020 has come and gone. Despite everything, it was a good one.

Ever since Hubby Tony and I got married Christmas has been our holiday to host the extended family. Over the years the group grew from a half dozen to almost two dozen people. Even after the kids grew up and started moving away they'd still travel home. On Christmas Eve all four bedrooms would be filled, and the day itself was a whirlwind of celebrating, present opening, and cooking. 

This year when we woke up there was just two of us. We ate breakfast  (much more extravagant than our normal fare...muffin-sized stratas, fruit and yogurt parfait, and baked jicama tossed with sweet spices that tasted like apples). After lingering for a long time over our coffee, we bundled up for a walk through the neighborhood. The thermometer said it was about 20 degrees, and halfway through we decided we were cold and headed home.

This was our first holiday living in a condo, and I'm embarrassed to say I didn't think about how we might receive presents from our neighbors. We did indeed get a small bag of cookies from one and a card from another. Tony and I decided we would reciprocate, and 'just because' we included the other neighbors too. We made a batch of cookies, bagged them up, and taped this note to the bag:

While the cookies were cooling Tony helped me prepare a hearty Chinese-inspired soup. After lunch was made and cleaned up we bundled up again for the second half of the walk. This time it was warmer, but halfway through we received a text from Son Donald letting us know he was taking us up on our last minute invitation and leaving his house so we cut the walk short to head back. 

The rest of the day passed in a blur. We had a family Zoom call, then Donald helped us put together dinner. I dressed the table with a Christmas tablecloth and napkins, but passed on the traditional china and real silverware. Both the salmon cakes (on a bed of mixed greens and quinoa tossed with an orange vinaigrette) and the blended vegetable soup were quite tasty. The Seven Layer bars might have been purchased from the store, but they tasted homemade.

All in all, it was a day of memories made.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Christmas Song

Last night Hubby Tony and I went to a Christmas concert at our church. The program was a mixture of familiar carols and some new-to-me songs, like this one. It's called " Welcome to Our World" by Chris Rice. 

Five years ago today: One More Sleep!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Countdown Begins

You may remember that back in October Hubby Tony chose a retirement date. Since that time we've talked about the future new reality many times. A couple of weeks ago he told me he had counted backwards and found out when he would be 100 days away.

That milestone was earlier this week. In honor of the day I printed up a countdown calendar and gave it to him. Tony placed it on his bookcase, where he can see it when he works.

Five years ago today: Good Timing

Monday, December 21, 2020

Nice, And Easy Too

 A club that Hubby Tony belongs to holds their monthly meetings in a restaurant banquet room on the third Monday of each month. At the December meeting they invite the spouses and turn it into a party. The night starts with a happy hour and appetizers. Once everyone is seated the food is brought out by a waitress instead of the usual buffet line. Each table has a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine in the middle, and people help themselves. The meal ends with dessert and coffee. Some years there are organized pen and paper games, and sometimes just a quick recap of the club's year before the evening breaks up.

Right now all the restaurants in the county are under an indoor dining ban, so the party had to be cancelled. The group's president suggested that members might want to support the restaurant by ordering a carryout meal on the party night. I was all for that; any night I don't have to cook sounds like a good deal to me. Especially four days before Christmas.

In previous years Tony would get a letter ahead of time offering a choice of four entrees from which to choose. We made our selections, then sent the information back to the organizer. Tonight we could order anything we wanted. The restaurant's online menu had a nice selection of entrees (which came with soup or salad and a side dish of pasta, broccoli, or fried potatoes), sandwiches, pastas, and pizza. I chose Eggplant Parmigiano, my go-to whenever it's available. Tony ordered baked ravioli. He called in the order and picked up the food, while I set the table. I thought about getting fancy, but last time I had Italian food at home I got red sauce on the tablecloth, and decided to stick with a bare table and everyday plates.

When Tony got home he put the hot food into the oven to stay warm while we ate the salads-a wonderful combination of lettuce, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, pimentos, red onions, Parmesan cheese, with an olive oil/red wine vinegar dressing. Next it was time for the main course. As we do, Tony and I shared samples of food with the other person. We're more malt beverage than wine types of people, so we chilled some of our favorite dark amber ale, even remembering to put glasses in the freezer for the full effect.

Tony saved half of his entree for lunch tomorrow, but mine was too good and I kept going until it was gone. If someone had put dessert in front of me I definitely would have eaten it, but I was definitely OK without it. 

Five years ago today: WHAT Season Is It?

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Tradition Transgression

 It's been two days since I injured my toe. When I woke up yesterday it was fatter and darker in color than the rest, indications that I had a first-class bruise. 

In between icing sessions, Epsom salt sessions, and manipulation sessions to try to bring the swelling down and get the pooled blood back where it belonged I tried to get some exercise.  After Hubby Tony finished work we drove to a coffee shop in an urban area, where we had to park a block and a half away. Even though I was wearing my most comfortable shoes I barely made it. At the coffee shop we sat outside next to a fire pit and drank our mochas, then slowly walked back to the car. 

Today my toe didn't hurt as much, and I was really hoping to get my steps in (part of my strategy to not gain weight during the holidays.) After lunch when I put shoes on I was optimistic, but when Tony and I got several blocks away from the condo building I had to turn around. It was disappointing, because the temperature was the warmest it's been in several days-warm enough to wear the lightweight winter coat. 

Back at home Tony left to run some errands. I putzed around in the kitchen and felt sorry for myself for wasting a beautiful day. Then I had an idea...since it was relatively nice outside I wondered if I could put on a pair of sandals and finish my walk? I decided it wouldn't hurt to try. In the bedroom, I pulled out the summer shoe bin from under the bed and tried on the first pair I saw. The strap cut right across the bottom of my toe. Bummer! 

The only other sandal option was white and strappy. I follow the old fashion rule that you don't wear white after Labor Day, but I was willing to break that rule if it meant I could get outside. Amazingly, the white sandals were quite comfortable. I put on my lightweight winter coat, grabbed a key, and left.

The front door to the condo building was in the sun, which made it nice and warm. I walked up and down the street with no issues. However, after I turned the corner the sidewalk was shaded and my feet quickly got cold. I doubled back to the building and went inside.

I can always try again tomorrow.

Five years ago today: Another Day, Another Tree, Another Ornament

Friday, December 18, 2020

Almost Like The Real Thing

Earlier in the week a package of Beyond Sausage Hot Italian plant based links jumped into my basket at the grocery store. I thought it would make for a fast, easy dinner.
Tonight was that fast and easy night. Hubby Tony volunteered to cook the sausage up on the stove while I prepared the rest of the meal (sweet potato home fries and salad from a bag). After everything was ready he plated the food while I set the table. 
We each took a bite of sausage, looked at each other, and smiled. They were really tasty. The casing was a nice brown color, and didn't have the 'snap' of a real sausage, but the interior did a good job of mimicing the real thing.
Afterwards I took a look at the nutrition label. The links include pea, rice, and faba bean protein, fat that comes from coconut and sunflower oils, fruit and vegetable juice for color, and a casing made from algae.

Five years ago today: Christmas Thank You

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Numbers Don't Lie

When I was getting ready to go to the grocery store this morning I whacked my right foot on the closet door frame. After letting out a few unprintable words I bent down to examine the damage. 

The fourth toe (the little piggy who had none in the rhyme) had taken the brunt of the whack. I could manipulate it in all directions, so I was pretty sure it was bruised instead of broken. There wasn't a whole lot else I could do, so I put on a pair of shoes with a wide toe box and ran the errand. 

When I got home I iced the toe a couple of times and generally babied it. After Hubby Tony got off work he said he was going to walk and asked if I wanted to go. The shoes with the wide toe box still felt comfortable, so I decided to join him. After some initial pain my toe actually hurt less than it had in the house. Our route took about 45 minutes.

I was feeling pretty good about how well I had handled my injury until I opened up my iPhone Health app to check my steps and other statistics. The most recent update for the phone included what Apple calls "Mobility Metrics". One of them was Walking Asymmetry, described as "the percent of time that your steps with one foot are faster or slower than the other foot". That would also include uneven walking patterns like limping. Based on the graph, I guess I was.

Five years ago today: Where Did It Go?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Free License

If you've been reading here for even a little while you've probably noticed that I like to sprinkle photos, graphics, and clip arts through my posts. Sometimes they're mine, and sometimes I find something on the internet. However, I want to do the right thing and only use items that aren't copyrighted. Sometimes it takes a lot of clicking through to different websites to find something, but I just learned about an easier way to do it.

The first step is to do a Google Search for the thing you're looking for. Navigate to the Images tab at the top of the page. Look a couple of tabs to the right, and click on the Tools tab. Five options will pop up. Choose Usage Rights, then select the Creative Commons licenses option. 

What is Creative Commons? Wikipedia says:

 A Creative Commons license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work". A CC license is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they (the author) have created.

Once you find the perfect image from the filtered list, there's one more step. Click on the image and it will pop up on the right side of the screen. Below the name of the website it came from is a License details link. Sometimes there are no restrictions for using the item. Sometimes the creator wants to be credited, or credited in a certain way. Since they've done all the work, I figure it's the least I can do.

Five years ago today: A Windy December Day

Saturday, December 12, 2020

An Enjoyable Way To Get In The Day's Steps

This morning I realized I needed some type of holiday activity to liven up my weekend, but of course everything has been cancelled. Hubby Tony and I needed to take our daily walk. Instead of rambling through our neighborhood for the hundredth time I proposed we go to the small downtown area of Kirkwood (which is filled with small shops) and browse while we exercised. Tony agreed.

The weather was December-like (brisk but not too cold). We drove to a park four blocks away from the main strip, then left the car and proceeded on foot. At each store we first looked through the window. If there were a lot of people inside we moved on, but if it looked safe we stopped in. At the farmer's market we discovered they had installed temporary walls to turn part of the area into a Christmas shop. There we found the perfect ornament to add to our collection.

A great wish for the end of 2020

 Our last stop was at a formerly-closed bakery that has recently reopened with a new concept. They're partnering with a sheltered workshop to provide job training skills for people with intellectual disabilities. The associate who assisted us did a great job of educating us about the store's mission. He pointed out the cases of items that came from the commercial bakery and those produced by the trainees. After looking everything over we picked out some breakfast sweets for tomorrow, two cups of coffee, and a cookie that looked like it needed a home.

Not much to look at, but it tasted wonderful!
Five years ago today: No Jacket Needed

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Potluck For Two

An organization Hubby Tony belongs to always has a potluck dinner and presentation of donations to four or five charities at their December meeting, which would have been tonight. Of course the event got cancelled this year. The donation portion turned into a Zoom event, which we will watch, but I was sad that there would be no socialization....and no food. 

A couple of days ago I decided that although there was no way I could recreate the 50 plus dishes that would line the cafeteria tables at a normal event, I could make an adventure out of dinner tonight by serving a small-plate tapas meal with lots of choices.

The real event always includes smoked pork loin and fried chicken, so during his lunch break today Tony and I walked to the grocery store and bought deli fried chicken, some sliced pork, and some barbecue beans. Other than that, whenever possible I tried to use ingredients I already had in the house. Most of the dishes were simple and took no more than five minutes to make. They included:


  • A rice/black eyed pea casserole that started with a single serving of soup from the freezer
  • A personal-sized deep dish pizza
  • Deviled eggs
  • Frozen peas marinated in Italian dressing
  • Cubed and roasted sweet potatoes
  • Chopped salad from a bag


  • Seeduction (from Whole Foods)


  • Frozen miniature cheesecakes
  • Chocolate chip/pretzel cookies
  • Spiced peach slices
  • Dark chocolate covered ginger 

Twenty minutes before it was time to eat I baked the pizza, heated up the hot things, and arranged all the dishes on the island. The hardest part was finding enough serving spoons for everything. I didn't plan it, but when we were finished I realized there was enough food left over to recreate the meal again tomorrow.

Five years ago today: Instant Healthy Dessert

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Don't Dawdle?

 Tonight I saw an ad that suggested some items I might need for my "last minute holiday gift giving". Really?! It's only the 9th of the month.

Way back when we had children in the house, our family tradition was to put Christmas lists in our shoes at bedtime on December 5th, (the eve of St. Nicholas Day) so St. Nick could take them to Santa. After the lists were gone no one could add any items, and I could confidently hit the stores on December 6th. I always managed to get everything in the house with plenty of time to spare.

Granted, back then I bought all my presents in actual stores. There was no internet to order from. And I didn't have to mail anything out of town. But now I do send things to our far-scattered family. The post office deadlines are somewhere between December 15th and the 23rd (depending on how much you want to spend-it costs more to have it under the tree on Christmas the later you wait.) I guess that if I needed to have something shipped to me before I mailed it out I might be a little concerned about the timing, but if that was the case I would make my purchase in person or via the store website at the plethora of local places that have plenty of stock.

Five years ago today: It Shouldn't Be This Hard!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Parking Lot Performance

Part of my walk today took me through the parking lot of a large strip mall. Halfway through the lot I stared to hear music. Eventually I saw a middle-aged man sitting in a folding chair in a small island close to the stores. He was performing on a large accordion, and had a karaoke music machine next to him to provide background music and amplification. 

(I've often walked by people playing on busy street corners, but this is the first time I've seen a musician set up shop in a parking lot. It's probably a good place, with lots of cars driving by and foot traffic from people going into stores.)

There was a hard-to-read handwritten sign propped up on the karaoke machine. From what I could make out the man had lost his job, had a family to support, etc. 

I've been scammed enough that I don't give money to down and out people, but this felt different. It was about 40 degrees outside, and this man was more of a busker than a panhandler. I looked in my wallet, but all I had was a $20 bill and some change. It didn't feel like enough but I dumped all the change into the man's tip bucket. Without missing a note, he smiled and thanked me.

I walked to the far end of the strip mall, then doubled back. When I went by the man again he was standing and dancing around while still playing his accordion, I'm guessing to warm himself up. 

Five years ago today: Stop And Look

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sock Seam Solution

I have an issue with the toe seams on socks. Especially the one on the right side of my right foot that hits in just the wrong place.

In the summer I go barefoot inside, and when I leave the house I often wear sandals. The only time I put on socks is if I'm taking a long walk which requires athletic shoes.But once cold weather comes I need to wear them daily to keep my feet warm. Then it only takes a couple of days before my right pinky toe is sore and irritated until warm weather comes again.

For years I've put up with the problem, but the other day I had a brainstorm. If I turned my right sock inside out it might look funny, but then the stitching wouldn't be rubbing against my toe. (I tend to wear solid color socks, so the difference would be barely visible under my jeans. Besides, in these social-distancing days I don't get close to anyone anyway). 

I tried my potential solution the other day, and it worked so well it's become my permanent fix.

Five years ago today: Elemental

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Adventures In Christmas Decorating

In the large house Hubby Tony and I used to live in, it took a couple of days to decorate for Christmas.  We'd put up outside lights, swap out the items above the cabinets in the kitchen, empty and refill the large floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on either side of the fireplace in the family room, switch out some of the artwork, get out the ladder to place silk poinsettias in the niche above the front door, and put up the eight-foot tall tree in the living room. When it was done we collapsed on the couch to admire all of our work.

As part of the downsizing process last year, we got rid of the vast majority of the decorations. Yesterday I carried the boxed tree and four bins (one for ornaments, one for lights and garland, and two for everything else) up from the storage unit. It was fun to decide for the first time where each item went in our condo. The tree is pre-lit, so there were no lights to put on, and because it's smaller then the old one took much less time to decorate. When everything else was done I plugged the tree lights into the timer so they would go on and off automatically. 

Today I started thinking about the outside of the condo. Our building is close to the main entrance and visible from the street.The owner of the unit across the hall from us has a strand of lights hanging from her eaves, which makes that section of the building look festive. I didn't have the supplies to do the same thing, but I decided I could wrap lights around the top rail of our deck to give our place some color.

I grabbed two strands of lights from the bin and plugged them into an outlet to check them. They worked fine. Outside, I connected the strands, curled them loosely around the rail, and plugged them in. Only the strand farthest from the door came on. UGH!

I didn't want to figure out what the issue with the strand was, so I took it off and replaced it with another one. This time when I plugged it in all of the lights came on. I walked out to the street to look at my project, and decided that the wrapping wasn't evenly spaced. Back upstairs, I adjusted things and plugged the lights back in. Now the second strand wasn't working again. AARGH!

I gave up, unwrapped both strands from the rail, and brought them inside. Just for grins I attached them together and plugged them into an inside outlet. The entire set lit up.  BOO! HISS!

I decided that the lights were conspiring against me, and I chucked the project for the day. I haven't decided yet if I will attempt it again tomorrow.

Five years ago today: Adorning The Grounds

Monday, November 30, 2020

A Social Bubble Adventure

The new 2020 rubric for family visits: 

1. Quarantine for two weeks 
2. Get negative Covid test 
3. Fly (masked) to San Jose 

Waiting for a ride to the airport
4. Spend two weeks in a social bubble with family members 
5. Put mask back on to fly home 
6. Plan on another two weeks of quarantine

Back before the world turned upside down Hubby Tony and I had planned on flying out to California in May to babysit the (then) three year old Jay and nine-month old twins Ell and Dee so Son Brian and DIL Nicole could celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. Plane tickets were bought, but then cancelled and the idea of a trip turned into wishful thinking

Brian and Nicole are very careful to limit their interactions with the outside world, so I was surprised when Nicole broached the subject of a visit again in early September. Tony and I said we were comfortable with the idea if they were, so the tickets were re-booked. This time there would be no couple's getaway, just an extended visit.

The family had outgrown their small bungalow and last month purchased a larger four-bedroom ranch. They hadn't had time to furnish the guest room yet, so Tony and I stayed at an AirBnb a mile away. Using Brian's car, each day we would drive to their house after breakfast and stay until bath time at night. We figured out it was nice to have a quiet enclave to retreat to after a busy day.

The family hadn't been together since last Christmas, so the twins took a while to warm up to us. (As a matter of fact, the only people they'd seen on a regular basis since March was their parents and the nanny that comes in each day.)  However, on the third morning when Tony and I walked up to the front door they were both standing there waiting for us, and came running when we walked in.

What did we do in California? Not much, but everything. We helped out where we could with projects around the house, got down on the floor to play, mediated a few spats, and took morning and afternoon family walks,. While out walking, we taught the twins Grandma's favorite activity of crunching through leaves,

and for the rest of the visit they would do an adorable little dance in the piles with a smile on their face.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with Brian and Nicole for the first time since they moved out to California five years ago, and the day after helped them put up their Christmas tree.

 All good things have to come to an end, though, and today it was time to come home. After an extra-early breakfast we drove to the house and said our last goodbyes, then Brian drove us to the airport. Covid experts say we should quarantine for two weeks, so now we will hunker down to make sure we didn't bring the virus home with us along with our suitcases.

Five years ago today: Nothing But The Best Deals (Or So They Say)

Thursday, November 26, 2020

How To Make Turkey Stuffing

Thanksgiving is not my holiday to host the big family group, so I rarely cook a stuffed turkey. Pretty sure this is not the best way to do it, though.

Five years ago today: Gratitude

Monday, November 23, 2020

Helping Yourself Out

Today I:

  • Chose to live in the moment instead of worrying about the future
  • Chose to eat healthy
  • Chose to go on a walk instead of sitting in front of the television
  • Chose to bite my tongue when someone said something rude
  • Chose to read something uplifting instead of zoning out with social media

What about you? Did you do anything that you will be glad you did down the line?

Thursday, November 19, 2020


Did you know that if you use the Google Maps app it can tell you when a particular business is most popular? For example, a typical Thursday at my local Walmart is the busiest between 4 pm and 6 pm.

 After the Google people gather all of the Maps data they compile it into trends, one of which is by the type of store. That turns out to be very helpful in figuring out what places to avoid if you want to stay away from crowds.

Google Map Trends

Five years ago today: A Tiny New Angel

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

"The Sweetest Dragon You'll Ever Meet"

I'm always on the lookout for new and different foods to try, so I was excited to get a package of yellow dragon fruit in a bag of goodies.

 I've seen the fruit at the Asian market, but it was always a little intimidating looking. These packaged ones were a little friendlier looking. I learned that the easiest way to peel a dragon fruit was to cut off the ends, slice shallowly through the skin from top to bottom, then take the skin off in one piece.

 The white fruit pulp was almost translucent, and the black seeds gave it an exotic look. I chopped it, then added it to my bowl of breakfast cereal. It tasted like a cross between kiwi and watermelon. Quite yummy.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Why Didn't I Think Of This Before?

Hubby Tony and I are trying to distance ourselves from the ever-expanding COVID infections in our area, so we decided to 'attend' Mass virtually tonight. 

Back when we used to participate virtually on a regular basis, the biggest issue was getting the angle of the laptop screen correct....and then adjusting it again each time we stood up, sat down, or knelt. Ten minutes before the livestream was going to start I had a brainstorm. There was an HDMI cable in my office left over from another project. Would it work to connect the laptop to the TV in the living room?

It only took a couple of minutes to figure out that the answer to my question was yes. When pulled up the church's website there was a message saying the stream would start in five minutes. I used that time to check out the volume level, clear up some clutter that was in my field of vision, and meditate. 

The Mass started right on time. It was so nice to be able to watch on a large (40 inch) screen instead of a tiny (14 inch) computer screen. I almost felt like I was there in person.

Five years ago today: Good Enough!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Pumpkin Polenta With Chipotle Pintos And Roasted Vegetables

I was looking for something to make for dinner, but the pantry and refrigerator were pretty empty and I couldn't get to the store. The one thing there was a lot of was pumpkin puree (the result of processing the Halloween pumpkin), so I started a Google search for recipes with that as my inspiration ingredient. 

After discarding all of the sweet recipes, side dishes, and those that called for ingredients I didn't have there were two possibilities. Both of them mixed pumpkin puree into a basic polenta. One called for spooning chipotle-spiced pinto beans on top. The other was topped with roasted vegetables. I took the best of both recipes, added a sprinkle of cheddar, and called it dinner.

Polenta is very easy to make. You mix corn meal with water or broth (for four servings I used a cup of corn meal, two cups of broth, and a half teaspoon of salt), heat it till simmering, then turn the heat down very low and cook it for 40-45 minutes, stirring several times so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Polenta is done when the mixture is thick and smooth, with no corn meal graininess left. Some recipes call for adding butter, cream, or cheese at this point. I mixed in two cups of pumpkin puree and a tablespoon of butter.

For the beans, I sauteed two cloves of garlic in a little olive oil, then added three cups of pinto beans along with their juice, a teaspoon of cumin, a little salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of chipotle in adobo and simmered them until the liquid was almost gone.

The vegetables were a mixture of onion, garlic, and Normandy blend of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots roasted at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. (Most recipes call for oil, but I don't think it's necessary and left it out).

The recipe made four servings. Since there were only two of us eating dinner, it lasted for two meals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Just In The Nick Of Time

For the past week the temperature has been about ten degrees above average. It got so warm that I switched from jeans and long sleeved shirts to capris and tees. According to the nightly news and the weather app on my phone, though, a change was coming. Today was forecast to be rainy and tomorrow 20 degrees cooler.

First thing in the morning my app said the rain would start at noon, but as the day wore on the precipitation start kept getting pushed back. At 3 pm the sun was shining, the app said that the first substantial chance of rain was two hours away, and I decided I would take advantage of it while I could. Hubby Tony was working, but when I suggested he take a break and go out with me it didn't take him long to agree. Ten minutes later we were locking the front door on our way out.

Our area's COVID numbers are going through the roof, and because of that we've been trying to avoid people whenever possible. Tony suggested that if we drove to a parking lot a half mile from the house we could walk on a scenic road--up one side and then down the other. The road has a wide shoulder on each side instead of a sidewalk, and because of that not much foot traffic. There was an excellent chance we would be the only ones there.

We walked for about 30 minutes, then turned around. The first leg featured a combination of sun mixed with puffy clouds and a nice warm breeze. However, shortly after we started the trip back the sky turned ominous. The wind began gusting, the gusts were cooler, and they caused the leaves on the ground to fly though the sky.

Three blocks away from the car big fat drops of rain started falling. We picked up the pace to a slow jog and made it back to the car without getting too wet. Ten minutes later, we were back at home and picking up the projects we had abandoned when the skies opened up. The rain was blowing in through the windows and I had to hustle to get them closed. As I did I thanked my lucky stars that we had turned around when we did.

Five years ago today: Secret Stairs

Sunday, November 8, 2020


 I wonder if it's a cosmic coincidence that this was my thought for the day calendar page one day after President-elect Biden gave his victory speech.

Five years ago today: Have You Seen Any Of These?

Friday, November 6, 2020

Saxy Time

 Today's fun holiday is National Saxophone Day, which commemorates the birth of Adolphe Sax, the woodwind’s inventor.

 In Adolphe's honor I wanted to share one of my favorite saxophone songs with you, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto's version of The Girl From Ipanema. Each time a sax solo starts I'm in heaven.

Five years ago today: Little Rolls Of Pumpkin Goodness

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Leaf Walking

Last week I stepped outside to get the newspaper and noticed that the pots of annuals outside the front door were a mass of drooping stems and wilted leaves, signs that we had the first hard frost of the season. But then the temperatures popped back up for Second Summer, with balmy daytime temperatures and less than frigid overnights.

I know the beautiful weather won't last long, so I've been trying to take advantage of it. This morning I incorporated a walk along with my errands, and after Hubby Tony finished work today I took another walk with him through the neighborhood.

The established neighborhood we live in has large, mature trees. There are enough sidewalks with substantial lifted edges that I pay more attention to where I'm walking (so I don't trip) than I do looking up into the tree canopies. Now that the leaves have fallen on the ground, though, they reveal the types of trees I'm going past.

Many of the sidewalks had dead leaves piled along the sides. In a few places the leaves covered the entire sidewalk. Those fallen leaves are an invitation to crunch through them, one of my favorite things to do at this time of the year. I zigzagged from one pile to the next, trying to make it through as many as possible.

Five years ago today: Mower Movement

Monday, November 2, 2020

Stop, Please

Election Day 2020 is tomorrow, which means the onslaught of political ads, mail, and texts will stop. (Thank goodness!)

The ads and mail aren't new, but before this political cycle I can't remember getting political texts. This time around they're coming from campaigns. political parties, and advocacy groups. Sometimes they tout the accomplishments of one candidate, sometimes they bash that candidate's opponent. Sometimes they just want to remind you to get out and vote. I suspect they're trying to reach out any  way they can because of COVID, but that doesn't make them any less annoying.

Every time I get one of the political texts I respond with the word STOP. Sometimes if I'm in a good mood I add a polite 'please". That usually brings that thread to a screeching halt, but today I received a considerate response back from a volunteer trying to make sure I didn't have any trouble doing my civic duty:

"No problem, we'll remove you from our texting list. It's possible other groups may still have you on their lists. If that happens, just reply STOP to be removed automatically. If you or friends or family have any voting questions now through Election Day, you can call or text the MO voter info hotline. Have a great day!"
Five years ago today: Sometimes There's No Deep Meaning

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Rambling Around

The time changed from Daylight back to Standard overnight. It was already bright when I got up, which automatically put me in a good mood. Today was forecast to be sunny but brisk, with a high about 50° F. Hubby Tony suggested we take a drive to see the last of the fall leaf colors. I countered with a suggestion that we drive to the Historic Main Street area of St. Charles, where we could shop for a present we needed and walk on the Katy Trail. Tony decided that was a great idea. 

Our area had a dry summer, which made for mostly subdued leaf color, but the trees that were close to sprinkler systems and got sufficient water put on quite a display. The 20-minute drive went quickly. We got to Main Street right after most of the stores opened and easily found a parking space. Our first stop was our friends Dave and Sally's store Baubles, Bites, and Boots where we found the present we were looking for...and a couple of extra things.

We put the bag in the car, then started walking. The Katy Trail parallels the Missouri River. About a quarter mile down, there was a cross street that led to a riverside park. A parade of cars with large red-and-white striped flags sticking out their front windows drove from the park past us. We learned that they were in parading in solidarity with the protests in Belarus, which started after the reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko, (widely believed to be rigged).

Flag of Republic of Belarus 1991-1995

We continued down the trail. Shortly after we crossed under the highway we came to a nature area and decided it would be fun to explore. The trail was covered with a thick layer of leaves in some places and hard to follow. After a while we figured out it was better to just follow the pieces of pink marking tape tied to the trees. The trail eventually looped around and we made it back to the trailhead.

Instead of taking the Katy Trail back we walked on street. At this point it was about 90 minutes later, and the sidewalk was crowded. I was glad when we arrived back at Tony's car.

Friday, October 30, 2020

I'm Always Learning Something

A while back I was introduced to this cute poem and wanted to share it with you:


When I'm an old lady, I'll live with each kid,
And bring so much happiness just as they did.
I want to pay back all the joy they've provided.
Returning each deed! Oh, they'll be so excited!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids) 

I'll write on the walls with reds, whites and blues,
And I'll bounce on the furniture wearing my shoes.
I'll drink from the carton and then leave it out.
I'll stuff all the toilets and oh, how they'll shout!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids) 

When they're on the phone and just out of reach,
I'll get into things like sugar and bleach.
Oh, they'll snap their fingers and then shake their head,
And when that is done, I’ll hide under the bed.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids) 

When they cook dinner and call me to eat,
I'll not eat my green beans or salad or meat,
I'll gag on my okra, spill milk on the table,
And when they get angry I'll run if I'm able!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids)

I'll sit close to the TV, through channels I'll click,
I'll cross both eyes just to see if they stick.
I'll take off my socks and throw one away,
And play in the mud 'til the end of the day!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids)

And later in bed, I'll lay back and sigh,
I'll thank God in prayer and then close my eyes.
My kids will look down with a smile slowly creeping,
And say with a groan, "She's so sweet when she's sleeping!" 

~~Barbara Hall~~ 

It looks good, right? However, at first I couldn't get the stanzas to format correctly. After the most recent Blogger update, every time I pressed the Enter key there was a blank space in between lines. I needed the poem stanzas single-spaced with a double space between them.

A little poking around on the Blogger help page gave me some useful information that solved my issue. One of the formatting tabs at the top of the typing screen has more options than it used to. Mine was set to Paragraph style, which incorporates those extra lines. Normal style doesn't. You can switch back and forth between the two. Now I know.

Five years ago today: Too Soon! Go Away!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



Late in the day I learned that today was National Chocolate Day. I really wanted to celebrate, but there was no chocolate in the house (because I can't trust myself around it), and I was too lazy to leave the house and go out in the cold and rainy weather. 

After dinner Hubby Tony had a virtual meeting to go to. While he was in the back room Zooming I rooted around in the pantry to see if there might be something chocolate hidden in a back corner, but came up empty handed.

So I did the best I could, falling back on a maneuver I've used in the past when the chocolate urge has been too strong to ignore. I tossed a little cocoa powder into a handful of raisins, which are moist enough that the cocoa stuck to them. Of course it's not really chocolate, but the snack tricks my taste buds into thinking they've had a treat. It was better than nothing.

Five years ago today: Happy National Chocolate Day!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Cold, Or Something Else?

On Saturday I woke up an hour later than my usual time and felt 'off'. I had a drippy nose, a slight cough, a tinge of a headache, not much energy, and a mildly scratchy throat. After breakfast I took allergy medicine and waited for it to take my symptoms away.  That didn't work.

If it had been October of 2019 I would have figured I had a cold, been annoyed, and shouldered on. However, what if this was more than a cold? I knew that 80% of people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms. Could I be one of them? Later in the day Hubby Tony and I were going to get together with some friends for a socially-distanced Halloween event. I would feel awful if someone got really sick because of me. After talking it over with Tony, we decided we would both go to the urgent care and get tested. Not the most exciting date we've ever had, but at least I wasn't in it alone.

At the urgent care we got signed in and escorted to a room. It took less than five minutes for a tech to come to take our vitals, ask about our symptoms, and administer the COVID test. Following her directions, I removed my mask and blew my nose to clear out my nasal passages, then tilted my head back while she stuck a long Q-Tip looking swab up my nose until it wouldn't go anymore, rotated it around, then removed it and placed the swab into a container. She performed the same procedure on Tony. When she was done she told us to hang tight until the doctor came in.

We had to wait another ten minutes for the doctor to show up. He looked down my throat and in my ears and listened to my lungs, then gave Tony his turn.  Based on my mild symptoms he stated that he was pretty sure I didn't have the virus, but just to be safe both Tony and I needed to quarantine ourselves until we received the results of the test on Monday.

I laid around the house for the rest of the day. My symptoms never got worse, but they also didn't improve. After dinner we watched TV until it was time to go to bed. Sunday I felt better (and would have gone out if there was anywhere I could have gone), but other than watching a video Mass and piddling around on the internet did little of substance. 

This morning when I came into the living room Tony greeted me with a big smile. He said he had already received his test result, which was negative. I quickly logged into the laboratory portal and found out I was also COVID free. That was the best news I've heard in a long time!

We needed both fruit and vegetable produce, so after breakfast I was thrilled that I could run to the grocery store to stock the refrigerator. It felt great to know that I could mask up and not worry about giving anyone germs.

Five years ago today: Nooch Me

Sunday, October 25, 2020

What A Good Idea!

Last night Hubby Tony and I ordered a carry out dinner from a local restaurant, and he went to pick it up, As we were unpacking the bags of food at our dining room table, these packets of hand sanitizer fell out.

I've had restaurants include a moist towlette to clean my hands with after I've eaten a messy meal, but this is the first time I've been offered the opportunity to clean them beforehand.  I thought it was very appropriate and considerate.

Five years ago today: Totally Random

Thursday, October 22, 2020

In Search Of...

Earlier in the week I got an email from a company touting their "Halloween Spoketacular Scavenger Hunt", which involved taking a bike ride to find a list of Halloween items. 

The event was geared to the family, but nowhere did it say you had to take a child with you. Today was a warm, sunny temperature island (a high of 85 degrees!) in the middle of a brisk, rainy fall week. After a morning full of errands I decided to get out my bike and take a ride to look for the things on the list. Although it was recommended, and would have been a lot of fun, I didn't try to put on any type of Halloween attire. Instead, I dug a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, slid my feet into my shoes, and filled my water bottle before I left the condo.

The scavenger hunt was very entertaining. I rode for an hour through several neighborhoods and found most of the 22 items on the card before I decided I was hot and it was time to head home.

Five years ago today: A Way To Show You Care

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Wanna Follow?

The other day Mevely317 (Myra) from Respice, Prospice left me a nice comment. At the end she asked if I had "a 'followers' or subscription icon" on my blog.

According to official Blogger sources, they introduced the Followers option and sidebar gadget back in 2008.  I don't know why I never used it, other than the fact that I personally use a third-party feed reader to deliver posts from all the blogs I've chosen to follow (no matter who the host is). 

But I understand that not everyone does things the way I do. If someone wants to read what I've written I should make it as easy as possible, and decided to add the Followers gadget to the blog’s sidebar. The process took less than a minute. Now anyone who wants to follow the blog via Blogger has an easy way to do it.

Five years ago today: Fixing A Hole

Sunday, October 18, 2020

He's Deciding To Hang It Up

 Hubby Tony has been working at full-time jobs for more than four decades. For the past few years the subject of retirement occasionally came up (usually when an acquaintance made the big lifestyle change), but for Tony the event was always somewhere out in the future. In his past seven months of working from home I sensed that the idea was becoming more and more appealing to him.

Once Tony finished up a significant project in September he started seriously talking about setting a date. At his employer it's considered best practice to give six months notice. That insures his supervisor won't assign him any new projects, allows him to attempt to wrap up any loose ends on the existing ones, or arrange for their transfer to someone else. Eventually Tony decided that the end of March would be a fine time to start the new chapter in his life. 

Once the date was set, Tony relayed the information to his boss and the rest of the family, and started mentioning it to coworkers as he Skyped or texted with them. He also started the process of filling out the necessary paperwork. 

Now that things have been officially put into place, we're measuring time by how long it is until Tony's big date. Based on past experience, I know the months will fly by

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Dallas Debut

Hubby Tony and I just returned from a mini-vacation, road tripping to Dallas to visit with Oldest Son Tony and his family and attend the baptism of Granddaughter Gee.

It was an entire day's drive each way, and the first long road trip for Tony's new car. On the way there we went southwest through Little Rock. We took a different way home, going northeast through the Oklahoma Indian Nations and then east once we reached the interstate. The Sirius radio trial that came with Tony's car was still in force, which kept us from needing to channel surf in the outstate areas.

The days in between drives were filled with wonderful conversation, wonderful play time, and wonderful food. I quickly remembered how wonderful it is to sit on the floor and play with a baby...peek-a-boo, toys, books, and cuddles. During some nap times Tony and I got out and explored the neighborhood on foot.

On Sunday Tony and I were privileged to stand in as proxy godparents for her baptism, as the real godparents could not attend. There were three children baptized, and priest did a good job of modifying the ceremony for covid reasons (using a different cotton ball to anoint each child with oil, using a pitcher to pour holy water instead of dipping from the communal font, and skipping the prayers over the ears and mouth). It was still powerful, though, and I'm glad that we got to be a part of it.

First Grand who has dressed in pink!
Five years ago today: Next Year's Lawn Starts Now

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Hand Hygiene For All

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you may not have known that today was Global Handwashing Day. (I didn't either, until I received an email from a body and skin care store telling me their products were a perfect way to celebrate.)

According to the website, the day is "a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives" and "an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times".

I've always done a good job of washing my hands, but back in the spring when the pandemic started I really kicked it up a notch. I know I'm fortunate in that there's always plenty of fresh water and soap available for me to use. And I have the luxury to choose what type suds to use: bar, liquid, or gel soap, scented or unscented, and with or without added moisturizers. 

Have you increased your hand washing in the past few months? Or were you always conscientious about it? What's your favorite type of soap to use?

Five years ago today: Operation Exercise

Saturday, October 10, 2020

A Ram Sang (AKA Anagrams)

An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of a different word or phrase. There are millions of them, but here are some of my favorites:
  • Debit card = Bad credit
  • Snooze alarms = Alas, no more z's
  • Halley's Comet = Shall yet come
  • Slot machines = Cash lost in me
  • Punishment = Nine Thumps
  • The Morse code - Here come dots
  • Dormitory = Dirty room
  • Vacation time = I am not active
  • The eyes = They see
  • Astronomer = Moon starer
  • The Hurricanes = These churn air
  • A decimal point = I’m a dot in place
  • Schoolmaster = The classroom
  • Presbyterian = Best in prayer
  • Eleven plus two = Twelve plus one
  • Conversation = Voices rant on
  • A gentleman = Elegant man
  • Funeral = Real fun
  • Hot water = Worth tea
The Argyle Sweater
Five years ago today: Older Than I Look?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Organized Outside Movement

 A couple of weeks ago Hubby Tony came home from his trip to the the grocery store with a story. While there, he had talked to the owners of a gym that's getting ready to open a couple of miles from the house. Based on what he learned, he signed up as a "founding member" (getting the benefits of the cheapest membership, but not paying anything until they actually start business). He told me that he liked the gym's claims of a limited number of people in each class, enforced proper social distancing, and the thorough cleaning of the area after each group leaves.

Before the gym opens they are holding free public classes (some in a park, others in a mall before the opening hour). Each time Tony gets information about a class he forwards it to me.  I attend whenever one of the class times jives with my schedule. 

It feels great to do something physical other than walking! So far I've only been to the outdoor classes, There's room to spread out, and no recirculated air to breathe. The largest group has been six people. Everyone does a great job of keeping their distance from each other, and if necessary the instructor uses a sound system so they don't have to yell.

I've participated in both early morning and early evening sessions. Each is unique in its own way. In the morning the class is more likely to be held under a pavilion, because of early-morning dew on the grass. In the evening there's more activity in the park, and you can hear the marching band practice music from a high school a couple of miles away.

Based on my small sample I'm inclined to sign up for a gym membership too. The commitment is month to month, so the worst that will happen is that I will go once, decide it's not a safe environment, and lose a little bit of money.

Five years ago today: Ten Minutes At A Time