Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Know Your Partner

Before the world went into quarantine Hubby Tony and I lived pretty busy lives. He went to the office every day. I kept myself busy keeping the house in shape, cooking, and doing work assignments. We both had multiple volunteer commitments and meetings.

Then all of a sudden there was no work for me to do, Tony started working from home, meetings changed to video conferences, and commitments disappeared. No longer did we need to have a detailed conversation to find out about each other's day. Now, since Tony's working just one room over I know when he 'leaves for the office' and 'gets home', when he eats lunch (and what he had to eat), and if he talked to any of his co-workers. I don't do anything during the day that he doesn't know about.

I decided that it would be interesting to come up with a set of conversation starters we could use when we ran out of every day subjects. Google gave me a lot of hits, but many of the lists were for people who were just getting to know each other...or the topics were too deep for what I had in mind. After a lot of searching, I found the post 100 Funny and Random Questions to Ask Your Husband. I printed out the questions and put them on the corner of the dining room table. Now some nights after dinner we will ask each other a question or two.

We had to get a little creative with some questions (for example, we substituted the word album into What was your first CD and when did you get it) and completely skipped others (We were together when we got our first cell phones, so there's no need to ask about them), but now I know what Tony would do if he woke up to find himself completely invisible, if he was in a witness protection program what his new name would be and where he would live, his favorite smell, and what he thinks phones will be like in 10 years. He now knows about something I always wanted to do as a child and never got to, the dumbest thing I've ever cried about, what country I would never want to visit, and what fashion trend I wish would come back.

The questions have led to some great discussions, which to me was the whole idea.

Five years ago today: Another Thing Crossed Off The Bucket List

Monday, April 27, 2020


Exactly one year ago today Son Tony and DIL Ie got married. Later in the day their reception was at a beautiful lavender farm. The party was held in a large grassy area, but the bride and groom also got some great photos among the lavender plants in the field.

In my down time in between photos and reception I browsed through the facility's gift shop and purchased a bag of green tea flavored with lavender and jasmine. Back at home I brewed (and enjoyed) some of it, but my main tea-drinking time is after dinner, and I tend to choose decaffeinated.

I stored the lavender leaves in a Tupperware container so it would stay fresh.  When we moved that Tupperware container accidentally got shoved to the back of the pantry. I found it the other day and decided to make an effort to use it. Today, in honor of the not-so-newlyweds I made some lavender-jasmine iced tea.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


The first few days of my social isolation were novel and exciting. The novelty quickly wore off. Now things have settled into a pretty regular rhythm, but that rhythm much different then it used to be.

Each morning I think about projects I could tackle, then I quickly discard those ideas. For example, the spare bedroom closet and downstairs storage area are filled with unopened boxes from our move. Many of the items will ultimately be donated to Goodwill...and with the donation center closed I can't see any reason to pull things out of the boxes.

However, the other day when I needed to replace a broken button on a shirt I stated rooting through those boxes looking for my button stash. I found it in the first box I opened. Right underneath the bag I saw some fabric scraps, and decided to use them to make masks for Hubby Tony and me. Not so much because we needed them; we rarely go anywhere which requires wearing a mask, and when we do we use a makeshift folded cloth napkin/elastic hair tie model. However, I figured the mask-making project would be a good way to take care of some of my excess free time.

The first step was to figure out just what type of mask to make. There was no elastic in the box, but I found several yards of white grosgrain ribbon that I could use to make ties. My Google search for 'Face mask with ties pattern' gave me thousands of results. I clicked through to a half-dozen sites and found a pattern with easy to follow directions. Since I was starting from scratch, including setting up the sewing machine and ironing board, it took me several hours to produce the two masks. Time well spent.

The scraps were from projects I had done at our old house. Not exactly in the same category as Scarlet O’Hara tearing down the curtains to make a dress in Gone With the Wind, but now every time I wear my floral mask I can remember the valances in the living and dining rooms. And when I see Tony in his plaid mask I will recall the seat cushions on the dining room chairs.

Five years ago today: Stats And Pageviews

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Social Distancing Voting

Recently Hubby Tony and I got an envelope from the County Board of Election Commissioners. Inside each envelope was a cover letter and three sheets of colored paper.

The letter started by explaining that the April General Municipal election had been rescheduled to June. It went on to say that they recognized that because of our age (I'm still having trouble believing that I'm in the 'old' category) we are more at risk for severe reactions from COVID-19, and invited us to fill out a request for an absentee ballot. That request was the blue sheet. Not only did they invite us to vote absentee in June, but they also included applications for the August Primary election (pink) and even the November General Election (yellow)!

In Missouri you have to give a reason for wanting to skip the trip to the polls, so this out-of-the-blue correspondence was a big deal. There are only six allowable excuses. The closest to the current situation seemed to be "Incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, including caring for a person who is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability".  That's also the only one that waives the requirement for notarization.

I have no idea what the state of the world will be next week, let alone more than six months from now, but both Tony and I filled out our applications and put them out in the mail for pick up. The good news is that even if I get an absentee ballot in the mail I can still change my mind and vote in person.

Five years ago today: Busy, Busy, Busy

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Three Little Piggies' Dinner

Three little piggies went out to dinner one night. The waiter came and took their orders for drinks.
"I would like a Sprite," said the first little piggie.

"I would like a Coke," said the second little piggie.

"I want lots and lots of water," said the third little piggie.

The drinks were brought out and a little later, the waiter took their orders for dinner.
"I want a nice big steak," said the first piggie.

"I would like the salad," said the second piggie.

"I want lots and lots of water," said the third little piggie.

The meals were brought out and a while later the waiter approached the table and asked if the piggies would like any dessert.
"I want a banana split," said the first piggie.

"I want a root beer float," said the second piggie.

"I want lots and lots of water!" exclaimed the third little piggie.

"Pardon me for asking," said the waiter, "but why have you only ordered water?"
"Well, somebody has to go 'Wee, wee, wee, all the way home!'" replied the third little piggie.
Five years ago today: Time Marches On

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Entrées and Entertainment

For the past month, ever since Hubby Tony and I haven't been able to eat at a restaurant for our Saturday night dates we've gotten restaurant carry-out food for dinner. Each week it's been fun deciding which local places to support. Sometimes we dine fancy, and other times it's more casual. But it's always good.

The past week has been dreary and cold for this time of year (we even had to turn the furnace back on). Today was jacket weather, more like it should be for mid-April. At 4 pm the temperature was still 60 degrees. It seemed like a shame to eat yet another meal inside at the table, but since we don't have furniture for the deck yet, we had to come up with an alternate idea.

In previous weeks Tony's been the one in charge of the dinner procurement. Today we went together. I was driving, so Tony called the restaurant to order our food as we left the condo. He had some trouble getting through, and we were almost there by the time he was finished ordering and paying.  I parked in a spot close to the restaurant, and to kill the time until our meals would be ready we walked for 20 minutes. A couple of minutes after we returned an associate came out of the restaurant carrying our food in a bag. He handed it off to us and we left.

We didn't go far, though. Right across the street was an almost-empty parking lot next to the train station. I backed my SUV into a spot next to the tracks and put the back seats down to make a dining area. Just as we were settling in to eat a train went past. The colorful cars provided some nice entertainment to go along with our entrées. Twenty minutes later a second train went by. We sat in the back of the car and talked so long that we even saw a third train about 20 minutes after the second.

It was a great way to eat outside in the new era of Social Distancing.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Just Right

Right now I have all the time in the world to do projects around our new condo. Unfortunately, most of those projects involve some type of materials or supplies. I would have to go to the hardware store for them, and I'm choosing not to do that.

One project that could be done, though, is shortening the too-long blinds that cover every window. The blinds are nice faux wood with two-inch slats. The first time I opened the windows, which required me to raise and lower the blinds, it was obvious how unattractively bunched up they were when they rested on the sill. (I'm guessing the previous owner purchased standard sizes based on just the window's width.) The extra length also made them heavier and harder to raise. Two good reasons to get rid of the excess.

From doing the same job at our previous house I knew it was an easy fix, so I gathered my supplies and got started. Our apartment-style unit only has two exterior walls, and six windows. The procedure was the same on each window.

Too long!

The first step was to figure out just how long I wanted the blind to be, and slide the extra slats out. Blinds are pretty basic. There's a pull cord to raise and lower them, and ladder cords to hold each slat in place. Unlike the previous blinds I had worked with, this time the pull cords did not go through the slats, but rather were combined with the ladder cords which cradled the slats on both sides. All I had to do was wiggle each unwanted slat out, avoiding indentations for the cords (three of four on each slat, depending on its width).

Halfway done
Next, I removed the plugs underneath the bottom rail, untied the knotted cords inside it, then pulled out the cords from the holes on the sides of the bottom rail and removed it. I slid the bottom rail onto the ladder just above the windowsill, then cut off the cords two rungs down from there.

The last step was to thread the cords back through the holes in the rail. (I found that brushing a little fingernail polish on the ends of the cords kept them from fraying and made it easier to thread them back in.) When they were all in place I tied each set into a knot, making sure the bottom rail hung straight. Finally, I stuffed the excess ladder and lift cords back into the bottom rail plug holes and replaced the plugs.

Just right!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Not-So-Great Day

April 15th is, among other things, That Sucks Day. Holiday Insights says:
Bruce Novotny, the creator of That Sucks Day, established this day to be celebrated on April 15th, as there are a number of major events in history that suck... on this date. They include: Tax day, the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and the sinking of the Titanic.
Although thanks to the Coronavirus Tax day has been postponed, there's enough bad things going on in the world today that the designation seems very appropriate.


Five years ago today: Slow No More

Monday, April 13, 2020

There's A Word For That

This morning I was reading the comics with my breakfast and came across a new-to-me word:

Beetle Bailey
Before I could go onto anything else, I needed to know what a grawlix was. As it always does, Google provided an answer. It turns out that a grawlix is the string of random punctuation marks and symbols cartoonists use to represent profanity. The term was actually invented by Mort Walker, the creator of the Beetle Bailey strip.

Now I know.

Five years ago today: "Vegi" Mélange

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Curious Poem For Good Friday

This very interesting poem, called "Curious Piece of Antiquity, on the Crucifixion of our Saviour and the two Thieves" can be found on page 51 of The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Queer, the Quaint and the Quizzical by Frank H. Stauffer


The middle cross represents our Saviour; those on either side, the two thieves. On the top and down the middle cross are our Saviour's expression, "My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me?" and on the top of the cross is the Latin inscription "INRI"—Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judæorum, i. e. Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Upon the cross on the right-hand is the prayer of one of the thieves:—"Lord! remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." On the left-hand cross is the saying, or reproach, of the other: "If thou beest the Christ, save thyself and us." The whole, comprised together, makes a piece of excellent poetry, which is to be read across all the columns, and makes as many lines as there are letters in the alphabet. It is perhaps one of the most curious pieces of composition to be found on record.
Five years ago today: Commonplace

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Heat Ho Hums

I was already having problems motivating myself to accomplish anything of substance this week, and then Mother Nature threw me for a loop. Today was unseasonably warm, with a high temperature more appropriate for June than for April.

The morning started off pleasant, but by mid-afternoon it was a little sticky in the condo. I knew the heat was temporary (a cold front is scheduled to come through, and it will be in the low 60s by bed time), so I didn't think it was worth the bother of closing everything up and turning the air conditioner on. Instead, Hubby Tony and I decided to make do with the ceiling fan.

Sitting on the couch right underneath the fan I thought about the projects that needed to be done, but eventually gave into lethargy. Those To-Dos can wait.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Take One, Leave One

I've always been a reader, but in the past few years instead of books I've substituted the daily newspaper (which we get virtually during the week and physically on Sunday), blogs, and internet forums.

After one week of sheltering in place I decided to spend less time on the computer, and picked up the book I had been working on for months. In three days I finished it and needed a new one. When we were packing boxes to move to the condo I purged my bookcases, keeping only the books that meant something to me. Now I can't find the box. (It's here somewhere, and based on experience I'll discover it when I stop looking so hard for it.)

My missing books aren't a problem, though. There are two public book exchanges within walking distance of my condo. The first one is at the end of the community by the pool. The other one is a little less than a mile away at the far entrance to the subdivision. BC-19 (Before COVID-19) I would sometimes stop and see what the exchanges had if I happened to be walking right by them. Now I walk to them specifically.

When I need a new book, I start by checking out the closer box. Then I stroll over to the other one to see what they have before I decide. Even though the boxes are close together, each has its own personality. One has a selection of hardcover books recently culled from the public library's stacks, and includes a large handful of thriller and action paperbacks. The other has more religious-themed, teen lit, and romance books.

Each time I return a book I rotate which box I put it in, to help cross pollinate the selection. So far I've chosen, read, and returned a couple of selections from Reese Witherspoon's Book Club. I'm in the middle of a road trip novel, and a compilation of short stories is waiting in the wings. Each time I've visited the boxes they have some turnover, so it will be interesting to see what's there next time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Plague Or Pollen?

Since I'm not leaving the house on a regular basis, I'm in a bit of a time warp. From the windows at the front of my condo all I can see is grass, evergreens, and some later-blooming bushes and trees. From that vantage point it certainly doesn't look like Spring.

However, the calendar says it's April. The past few days I've heard the birds chirping when I roll out of bed, and open the windows for a couple of hours in the warmest part of the afternoon. I took a walk through the neighborhood after lunch today and noticed that in the Bradford pear and redbud trees have started blooming. Several houses that I passed were having their lawns cut, and the smell of the fresh mown grass was delightful. I don't have any diagnosed allergies, but all of a sudden my nose was running from something, which caused a nasty case of postnasal drip, which started up a little hacking cough.

In a normal world no one would think twice about a little hacking cough. Today, however, the two people I passed on my way back home gave me an apprehensive look before they hustled away. I probably would have done the same thing.

Five years ago today: Male-Centric