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