Monday, September 20, 2021

A Late Summer Adventure

This morning I was dressed to go to the gym for a class,  but right before I needed to walk out the door I got busy and all of a sudden there wasn't enough time to get there before the class started. I took that as a sign from the Universe that I wasn't supposed to do any organized exercise, so I showered and changed into regular clothes.

I decided to walk up to the grocery store and use the ATM there to deposit a check. Heading north on the main street, I noticed the road work people had equipment completely blocking the sidewalk. I crossed over to the other side of the road and made a mental note to walk home on that side.

We're supposed to have a cold front come through tonight, which will change things from summer hot to fall temperate. I was hopeful the front would be early, but I hoped wrong. There was a nice breeze, but it was hot and sticky. By the time I got to the store my shirt was damp and I had sweat dripping down the back of my neck.

I deposited the check, walked around the store for a while, then started back home. I was more than halfway there when I noticed an organization membership card laying on the side of the road. I picked it up, then saw a loyalty card for a pet store not too far away. Then I saw something that looked like a debit card in the middle of the street. I waited until all the cars had passed and stepped out to pick it up. Before I knew it I had gathered a man's wallet, his driver's license, a couple of charge/debit cards, a little money, and some extra 'stuff'.

I was a sweaty mess, and all I wanted to do was get home, but I figured that the right thing to do would be to backtrack a quarter mile to turn my finds in at the police office. I took a look at the address on the license, figured out the man lived not too far from me, and thought it would be a nice gesture to stop by his place and tell him where to find his valuables.

At the police office I explained the situation . The person I talked to said they would send a patrol car by the house and drop off the things, but I asked for a piece of paper and jotted a quick note to drop off at the man's house in case he wasn't home.  As I passed the original location a second time I found a sheet of paper with a PIN on it and attached it to the note.

I walked past my condo and on to his townhouse (which, of course, was as far away in the neighborhood as possible). The man wasn't home, but his neighbor was outside and said that she would tape my note to the door.

I hope the story has a happy ending. I know I would be frantic if I lost my wallet.

Five years ago today: Go Away, Summer!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Bentonville Or Bust

When Hubby Tony and I were planning our mini vacation we arranged a cat sitter for five nights. We researched what there was to do in Eureka Springs and decided that three nights would give us time to take it all in. That meant we had two more nights to fill. We thought that maybe we would head to Branson. A couple of days before we left I ran into our downstairs neighbor and told her about our plans. She told me that based on her experience a couple of years ago Bentonville (Arkansas) would be a nice complement to our trip. 

The only thing I knew about Bentonville was that it was the birthplace of Walmart. I learned that Alice Walton (the daughter of Sam Walton) had built a fabulous art museum, there were a lot of trails and public art, and the downtown area had great architecture. I came home and did an internet search, which confirmed everything my neighbor told me. I also found out that the city is a hub for bicycling, and calls itself the "mountain biking capital of the world".

Just like that our trip itinerary was set.

On Tuesday morning Tony and I said goodbye to Eureka Springs. Driving directly from there to Bentonville would have taken a little less than an hour, but we took a less-direct route. We stopped to see Beaver Lake, formed by a Corp of Engineers-built dam across the White River. At the last minute we had decided to bring our bikes, so we used them to ride through Pea Ridge National Military Park, a Civil War battlefield. We stopped for lunch.  A little after 12:30 pm we were unlocking the door of our Airbnb apartment just off the downtown square.

We spent the afternoon wandering around downtown. I'm not the world's biggest Walmart fan, but the museum was interesting. The self-guided tour emptied out into a old-fashioned soda fountain. It was closed because of Covid, but the outside ordering windows were open for service and we got a snack.

Wikipedia

At dinnertime we drove several blocks to a restaurant that served large handheld crepes. The downtown street grid system was logical but a little confusing. North-South streets had letter names (A, B, C, etc), but depending on where the street was in relation to the town square you could have A Street NW, SW, NE, or SE. The same thing happened with the East-West streets, which had number names (2nd, 34d, 4th, etc). But streets seemed to dead end for no noticable reason and pick up again a few blocks later. I was glad to rely on my phone's map app.

The next morning we got out the bikes and took advantage of part of the Razorback Regional Greenway, which stretches for 38 miles. We were having a great time until somehow Tony's chain came off and got wedged behind the gear housing.  There was a bike shop nearby, but they couldn't immediately fix the problem, so I rode to get the car and retrieved Tony and his bike.

In the afternoon we drove to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, where we took in some of the galleries and walked around some of the outside trails. There's a Frank Lloyd house on site (moved from New Jersey) and we took a self-guided tour.


All good things have to come to an end, so after our second night in Bentonville we packed up the car and drove home. We got in mid-afternoon. Jackson the cat greeted us, then told us it was time for his lunch.

Five years ago: Not My Duck

Friday, September 17, 2021

Eureka!

The past few years, Hubby Tony and I have used our vacation trips to visit our children and grandchildren. A couple of weeks ago we decided it was time to branch out, did some research, and scheduled a week in Arkansas. just for us.

We took the quick way there, using Interstate 44 to drive southwest across the state to Springfield, and then south. In Sringfield we stopped for lunch at Casper's, which claims to be the oldest diner in the city. It's a dive in a good way. Located inside a quanset hut, the interior walls and domed ceiling are covered with a mixture of old posters, photos, and artwork. The food was fresh, fast, good, and cheap.


After a short walk through downtown Springfield and a quick trip into Bass Pro Shop (which was too crowded, and had too few masked people) we moved on to our first stop, Eureka Springs. If we had driven straight through it would have taken about five hours.

I had been in Eureka Springs with a friend years ago, but this was Tony's first time. The entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The streets are built into the hilly terrain and wind up and down the hills. The buildings are a funky mix of architecture styles. Every shop in the city is independently owned. There are no streets that intersect at right angles. There are no traffic lights.

Wikipedia

Tony and I stayed in the Grand Central Hotel, one of the original hotels in the area, and could walk just about everywhere in the downtown area. Every room in the hotel is different. Ours had a living room, a bedroom with a king sized bed, and a bathroom with a two-person Jacuzzi tub. The furnishings were all Victorian appropriate.

Our three days were a whirlwind of activity. Sunday morning we went to mass at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, where you enter the grounds through the belltower.  We bought passes for the trolley system, rode each of the three loops to orient ourselves to the city, then used it to get back to some things that were too far to walk to. We visited the Christ of the Ozarks statue, a white, 65-foot tall modernist statue of Jesus. 

 

We visited Thorncrown Chapel, made mostly out of glass, with a stunning view of the forest outside.


 And we ate! We visited a biker bar that offered Waygu beef burgers and beautifully composed, tasty salads. There was local food, Creole, sandwiches, and Thai. Desserts and snacks multiple times a day. 

Finally, Tuesday morning we packed our bags and left Eureka Springs, ready for the next part of the adventure.

Five years ago today: Scrub Away

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Cream Of The Crop Coasters

When Hubby Tony and I got married 41 years ago we got quite a few presents. Not many of them are still around, but this set of crocheted coasters still is.

They are the greatest coasters ever. No matter how much condensation is on a cup they absorb all the moisture, and when they get dirty I just send them through the laundry.

Not only are the coasters useful, they can also be fun. Back when Sons Brian and Donald were still living at home they would throw them at each other like Frisbees. When there was nothing available to put my drink on I would have to search under the furniture until I found a coaster. 

Unfortunately I have forgotten who the coasters came from. I would love tell them how much I'm still enjoying their thoughtfulness. 

Five years ago: Four Weeks And Counting

Monday, September 13, 2021

(Don't) Keep The Change

Is there a coin shortage in the United States due to COVID? Not according to an email I received from my bank, which referenced information provided by the U.S. Coin Task Force. The problem is that in the past year people's spending habits have changed, and coins are more apt to be sitting in someone's spare change container instead of being spent and circulated. 

More people are shopping online, which of course requires a debit or credit card. If someone's shopping in person, instead of digging into their pocket or purse to find loose change so they don't have to break another bill and get even more change they'll pull out the plastic instead.

The bank's message said to get the system rolling again I could use exact change for purchases whenever possible, redeem coins at coin kiosks, or (their favorite idea) deposit them at financial institutions. 

Five years ago: Tending Not To Remember

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Clashing

The shirt I was wearing today coordinated with my skirt. The mask in my purse coordinated with it, too. Unfortunately, the two patterns did not play well together.

(I wore the mask anyway.)

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Venipuncture and Vaccine

After my yearly physical was finished in 2020, I left the doctor's office carrying paperwork from the front desk and a written request for the 2021 blood tests. The hard copy was just a reminder to me to get the work done before my late-September physical appointment; the office also sent an official request to the lab.

That hard copy was waiting for me when I opened my September file. I had to fast overnight. I don't fast well, so I wanted to get the test done first thing in the morning. After looking at my calendar I designated today for the work.  

The hospital website had a list of all the available labs. Every lab had slightly different hours. I could go to one on the hospital campus as early as 6:00 am, and as late as 5:00 pm, but I was pleasantly surprised to see they had just opened an urgent care center in a strip mall less than a mile from my house (and on one of my regular walking routes with Hubby Tony). I called them and asked if I could have blood work done there. The answer was yes.

Last night I put a huge note in the bathroom reminding me not to eat breakfast this morning. This morning when I rolled out of bed I decided I would combine some exercise with my lab visit and walk to the urgent care. Tony decided to come with me, even though I told him I had no idea how long the visit would take.

Even though I've walked past the strip mall dozens of times I've never timed how long it takes to get there. I ended up arriving five minutes before the doors opened. There was one person ahead of me in line. I thought about chatting with him, but decided he might be visiting the urgent care because he was sick and kept my distance.

After the paperwork was completed it only took a couple of minutes before I was called to the back. The phlebotomist asked which arm I wanted the blood drawn from. I requested my right (non-dominant) one. She did an excellent job of finding the vein on the first try, and I was in and out of the building in 20 minutes.

I sent Tony a text telling him to meet me at the grocery store that's behind the strip mall. I was starving, and even though a big slice of cake was calling my name he steered me towards a healthier bagel. I could eat while walking, and we decided to finish off our normal walking loop route.

There's a Walgreens pharmacy right where we would turn to head towards our subdivision. Instead of passing it by Tony and I decided to go in and get our flu shots (another thing that's been on my list of things to do). When the technician asked which arm I wanted the injection in I told her the right one.  Now I have two (invisible) holes in that arm-one that took a tiny bit of liquid out of my body and another that put a tiny bit back in.

Five years ago: Under My Umbrella

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Whatever It Takes

A couple of days ago I got a  small, shallow scratch on the heel of my left hand. After it stopped bleeding I put a bandage on it, but because of the cut's location the bandage kept coming off. Liquid bandage wasn't effective either, because every time I did any type of cooking or cleaning the cut would open up again. Annoying.

After dinner tonight Hubby Tony and I took a walk. It was hot (halfway through I had sweat dripping down my neck), but there was a nice breeze blowing. Tony and I talked about what had happened today and what was on tomorrow's schedule. The stupid cut on my hand was already a little tender from putting dinner together. I can't walk without swinging my arms, and every few blocks I'd accidentally hit my hand on my hip. That really hurt.

When we reached the back entrance to the subdivision I was ready to head home, but Tony wanted to get more steps. I turned left and he continued straight. Without someone to talk to I noticed that the combination of heat and exercise was making my hands swell. I tried shaking my hands and clenching them into a fist, which made my cut hurt more. Soon that cut area was throbbing and I was feeling sorry for myself.

 I did a couple of arm circles, which helped some but probably looked a little funny. Then I figured out I just needed to keep my hand was above heart level. I spent the last two blocks of the walk holding my hands up in front of me like they had been surgically scrubbed.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day Levity

In the United States Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. The day honors and recognizes the American labor movement and the achievements of workers. It's also the unofficial end of the summer season.  In honor of the day here's some funnies about jobs and work.

Why did the man leave his job at the doughnut shop? 
He easily got exhausted of the hole concept. 
Why did a woman stop going work because of what her boss said? 
He told her that she's fired. 
 
Why did the tailor leave his job? 
He felt de-pleated at the end of each day. 
 
What did Bob tell his parents about his career goal? 
I am aspirin' to be a professional pharmacist. 
 
Why did a boy give up his dream of being a barber? 
He tried to, but he just didn't make the cut. 
 
Why was the diva excited about starting her mirror inspecting job? 
She could see herself doing it for a long time. 
 
What the pilot say when he hadn't studied for his big airline exam?
I'm just going to wing it. 
 
Why were the police on a lookout for the maze designer? 
He had gotten lost in his own work. 
 
Why did the young girl resign from her job at the Velcro factory? 
In the end, she couldn't stick with it. 
 
Why was the astronomer so happy about his first job? 
His career was looking up. 
 
Why can't people with temper issues become good badminton players? 
They're too high strung. 
 
Why didn't the government pay attention to the issues of the people who worked in caves on Labor Day? 
They considered them miner issues. 
 
Why was the young boy's mother unhappy about him becoming a baker? 
She thought he wasn't making enough dough. 
 
Why did the astrologer not choose to become a historian when he was in high school? 
He didn't see a future in that field. 
 
Why shouldn't people who don't like stressful jobs work for pool maintenance? 
The work is considered to be rather draining. 
 
Why shouldn't people with a mean attitude become masseurs? 
Nobody wants to be rubbed the wrong way.
Five years ago today: Formerly Mine

Saturday, September 4, 2021

What's It Going To Take?

The other day I was setting up an account on a website. The first screen asked for my name and email address. Easy stuff. The next screen asked me to choose a User ID and password.

As is often the case, there were specific requirements for the password. It couldn't contain 3 or more of the same character in a row, had to have at least 8 characters including one letter, one number, and a special character (! @ $ % ^ & *). It couldn't be the same as the User ID, and the string of characters in the new password box and confirm password box had to match. I typed:

Number/Capital letter/Number/Lowercase letter/Lowercase letter/Pound sign/Number/ Capital letter/Number/Lowercase letter/lLwercase letter/Number/Number/Exclamation point
And then typed the same string a second time in the confirmation box. Each requirement got a check mark next to it when it was satisfied. At the end everything was good to go except for the special character. The site didn't think I included one. I went back and reviewed my work. Even typed the string into a Word document so I could see it in black and white. I definitely had completed the field correctly.

Just to make sure, I modified my potential password, adding a dollar sign in the beginning. The site was still unsatisfied. I was getting angry. I copied and pasted their list of acceptable special characters into Word, carefully added letters and numbers in between each, then pasted the result into the website. Would you be surprised if I told you I still didn't meet the requirements for the dang special character one? Everything else was just fine.

I got frustrated and walked away. Later I was chatting with some people, who were full of suggestions. I should clear out my cookies and computer cache. Try a different email address. Try a different special character. Drop one of the special characters.

If this wasn't an account I needed I would have bagged the whole thing. Eventually I ended up attempting the password setup with three different browsers on two different computers. Always got the same result. I chatted with the website help desk, who couldn't figure out the issue and put in a ticket to the Technical department. I was frustrated that I wasted much time in on this, but felt vindicated that it wasn't something I did wrong.

Later in the day I got a call from the help desk person asking me to verify exactly what special characters I used. I gave her the information she was looking for,. She said she would pass it on to the Tech team and get back to me with an answer. Twenty four hours later I still hadn't gotten my answer, so I went back to the website and attempted to log in. Worked like a charm, and ten minutes later I had completed my business there.

Five years ago today: Twin Trails Teaser

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Pursuit And Produce

The forecast for today was lovely, with a high temperature about 80 degrees and low humidity. Hubby Tony and I decided to tackle the Soulard neighborhood section in our scavenger hunt book.

Soulard is one of the oldest neighborhoods in St. Louis, established before the Civil War. Soulard Market is the oldest public market west of the Mississippi. The area is also known for being the home of the North American headquarters of the Anheuser-Busch brewery and a huge Mardi Gras celebration. 

The area has a lot of bars and restaurants. I know a few of the marquee locations, but today I saw another side to the neighborhood. We walked down blocks of red brick row houses and stopped to read plaques at historical houses and buildings. We found historic churches, parks, and statues. We walked through a parking lot at the brewery and all of a sudden a security van (driven by a friendly officer) pulled up to ask us what we were doing there. He gave us directions to the building we were looking for.

After we found about two thirds of the places we stopped by the Market. I needed some kale for a recipe and was pretty sure I could find it there. Twenty minutes later we left carrying the bunch of kale as well as a big bag of tomatoes and a box of 10 mangoes. (For the price we couldn't pass them up.)

Stockvault 
 Most of the mangoes were perfectly ripe. A couple were a little past their prime, and a couple could have used a day or so on the countertop. All got processed. Tony and I set up an assembly line-I cut the flesh off the seed and removed the skin. Tony cubed the flesh, then put some of it in a container for eating in the next few days and some on a tray to freeze. When I was done my hands were sticky and slimy and I couldn't wash them off fast enough.

Five years ago today: Five years ago today: Real Staying Power

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Vet Visit Etiquette

Today was Jackson the Cat's least favorite day of the year...his annual visit to the vet for a checkup and shots. 

Going to the clinic is the only time Jackson typically leaves the house, and he doesn't enjoy anything about it.  When I brought the carrier up from the basement yesterday he gave it a sniff, then gave it the stink eye and a wide berth. 

Jackson's appointment was mid-afternoon, shortly after his lunch. I hoped that he wouldn't have a chance to find a secluded place for a nap, but the condo doesn't have many places for a cat to hide and when it was time to leave Jackson was easy to find. As soon as he was locked into his carrier he started a mournful howl, which continued sporadically all the way to the vet.

Last year the office did curbside-only appointments. This year they allowed one person inside, but you had to call from the parking lot first and get permission to enter. Hubby Tony wanted to be Jackson's person. I agreed. However, I decided to come along too and pass the time reading a book.

The clinic is on Manchester Road (a major arterial street) and it's always hard to gauge just how long it will take to get there. We ended up arriving five minutes early, and when Tony called he found out there wasn't an office ready yet. We waited in the car until Tony got word that they were ready for him. He carefully removed the carrier from the back seat of the car and carried it across the parking lot.

I got my book out and started reading. Fifteen minutes later my phone rang. It was Tony, who put me on speaker phone so I could hear and be a part of his conversation with the vet. I learned that Jackson has some geriatric-cat issues, but for the most part he got a clean bill of health. As the vet left the room Tony ended the call, and five minutes later he had finished the paperwork part of the visit and was ready to go.

Five years ago: Gimme A Subject

Sunday, August 29, 2021

When Will I Learn?

This weekend I was in the central part of the state at a business meeting for a fellowship I belong to. I helped set up for the meeting, so I left the house Thursday afternoon and got home last night a couple of hours before bedtime.

I usually eat a pretty healthy diet. During my trip I did fit in some some minimal fresh vegetables and fruit, but for the most part it was an orgy of simple carbohydrates, fat, sugar, and chocolate. By the time I got home my body was rebelling. My stomach was churning and I had trouble sleeping with all of the junk coursing through my system. I woke up this morning with a headache. I had no energy, it was hard to get out of bed, and I was so grumpy that even Jackson the cat kept his distance.

Today was about resetting my system. All of my meals and snacks were healthy. The only sweets I ate were fresh fruit. I lost track of how much water I drank. When Hubby Tony and I went to a local gas station to take advantage of a drink promotion they run when the baseball Cardinals score more than six runs the previous day I passed on the yummy frozen Pepsi, got myself a cup of cold brew coffee, and felt pretty virtuous about it.

My resetting has paid off. The headache disappeared after breakfast.  It took a second meal for the other issues to go away. By mid-afternoon I was tackling the items on my to-do list. Moving around gave me even more energy, and soon I was running on all cylinders. Thank goodness.

Five years ago today: No Interstates Allowed

Friday, August 27, 2021

Wash Your Hands And Freshen Your Breath

This morning I went out to a breakfast meeting. The food was fabulous and the group got a lot done. I drank a lot of coffee, so I stopped by the bathroom before leaving the restaurant. The sink area was quite unique. It was a large sheet of marble with two faucets and hardly any sink indentations. Somehow the water managed to make it into the drain.


And the area had another new-to-me feature, a mouthwash dispenser with a sleeve of tiny cups next to it. 

You never know what you're going to find!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

How Hot Is It?

Every year about this time I get sick of the August weather. Every day is hot, humid, and miserable. Just how hot is it? 
  • Every time I leave the house I seriously consider if I even need to, because it feels like too much work.
  • At 9 am I went to the grocery store to get a couple of things. I could already feel the heat radiating off of the blacktopped lot as I walked across it.
  • I could have made a nice cup of tea using the bottle of water that had been left in the car while I ran errands.
  • The halls in our condo building don't have any ductwork for heating or cooling. This afternoon I walked from our second floor unit down to the basement to toss the trash. By the time I got back upstairs I was sweaty.
  • Shortly before I went to bed, the temperatures was still 88°, and with the heat factor added in it felt like 99°.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Distressing

This morning when I put on a pair of denim shorts I noticed that they were getting pretty rough looking. The top layer of the hem is starting to fray, and there are fray holes (approximately a quarter-inch wide) by the rear pockets and halfway down the outer right seam.

I've had these shorts for years; they're one of my favorite pairs. The natural waist hits at just the right spot. The length is perfect-not too short and not too long. The five pockets (two front, two rear, and a small one inside the right front hip pocket) are well-proportioned and functional.

I thought about putting the shorts in the Goodwill box, but based on what I've seen in the stores after a couple more washings and wearings they might actually become fashionable:
You pay extra for flaws this season
Five years ago: Midnight Moonlight

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Distractible

On any given Sunday the Catholic Mass readings are the same worldwide, which means that every Catholic will hear the same sections of the Bible. Except for when they don't. 

Shortly after Hubby Tony and I slid into our pew this morning the lector announced that it was the feast day of St. Louis King of France (the patron saint of the city). All of the churches in the Archdiocese were celebrating the day instead of using the readings for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. The lector pointed out that the passages was not in the missal, and we would need to pay extra attention as they were read.

I understand things better when I can read along, but I focused my attention on the pulpit and did my best. However, there was a family with three young boys (who looked to be approximately 6, 4, and 2) in my peripheral vision that kept distracting me. I could tell they were trying hard to sit quietly, but every once in a while they would poke at each other. Mom or Dad would send a glare in their direction, but soon they would be at it again.

At the conclusion of the readings the priest stepped into the pulpit to give the homily. I really tried to focus all my attention there, but it was impossible to concentrate. The middle young boy was trying to look at some books he pulled out of his mom's purse, but his younger brother was getting in the way. It looked like things were getting a little tense, so I closed my eyes to avoid looking at them and focus on the priest's words. I was far enough back that I was confident he couldn't see me and assume I was snoozing.

However, someone was watching. At the end of the sermon I opened my eyes and found that the middle boy was looking at me with a big smile on his face. Oops!

Five years ago today: A Dog's Life

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Hunt For Pastries

Last week Hubby Tony and I started the chapter in our scavenger hunt book for Kirkwood. Most of the things we had to find were convenient to the city's downtown area, but we're finding that each chapter has a couple of outlier locations. This time one of them was the Nathaniel Reid bakery, which has won a bunch of prestigious local and national awards. The bakery is in a strip mall on Manchester Road just a couple of miles from our house. I've driven past it hundreds of times, but never been inside. Tony and I decided we were going to combine a trip to check the bakery off of the list with a trip inside for a sweet treat. 

Manchester is a busy arterial road, and I think I missed every stop light. In the bakery there were several people ahead of us in line, but that gave me a chance to check out all the delectable-looking things behind the counter. I kept changing my mind until it was my turn to order. After we paid for our things we drove to a nearby park, found a bench in the shade, and dug in.

My Veronique pastry was a delightful combination of sponge cake, creamy cheese, mousse, and black currants. It was beautifully composed, and probably photo worthy, but I was hungry and dug in. Tony's chocolate croissant had layers of flaky dough and chocolate, with slivered almonds sprinkled on top. It didn't take long until there was nothing but crumbs left.

Five years ago today: Color Coding

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Mended

Hubby Tony had a minor same-day procedure scheduled at one of our local hospitals today. 

He had to be there at 6 am. For the first time in months I set my alarm, which went off a little before 5. That gave me just enough time to eat a quick breakfast, brush my teeth, put together a lunch, and gather the things I would need to entertain me for a couple of hours. 

It was still completely dark when we left for the hospital, and traffic was light. It's often hard to find a spot in the parking garage but this morning I snagged a spot not too far from the door. Once in the building Tony knew exactly where to find the same-day surgery office because he had been there last week for a pre-procedure Covid test.

Between the two of us we've only had a handful of procedures, but in my experience they build in a lot of waiting time. Tony checked in as scheduled, but didn't leave for the operating room until two hours later. During that time he talked to a secretary, a nurse assistant, two nurses, an anesthesiologist, and the doctor. I lost count of the number of times he gave his complete name and date of birth and what type of procedure he was having done.

Because of Covid the same-day surgery waiting room was closed. Once they wheeled Tony out of the pre-op room I spent the next 2 1/2 hours killing time. I walked outside until it got too hot, then sat in my car and read for a while. Eventually I went to the cafeteria, where the people waiting there outnumbered the people eating. 

I got a call from the doctor when the procedure was finished at 9:30, and he told me I would receive another call when Tony had been moved to a recovery room. That happened about an hour later. I gathered up my things and went to join him

Tony was drinking some cranberry juice and eating crackers when I arrived. The post-op system is just as slow moving as the pre-op, and it was made worse when Tony's body took longer to pass through some basic milestones before they could discharge him. 

However, eventually the nurse called the doctor, explained the situation, and got his permission to send Tony on his way. He was putting on his clothes when I left to get the car. By the time I drove around to the door Tony had been 'chauffeured' out by a wheelchair porter. He climbed in the car and we were on our way home.

Five years ago today: Off To The Halls Of Knowledge

Monday, August 16, 2021

Good Old Andy

Sent to me by a friend..

A man walked out to the street and caught a taxi just going by. He got into the taxi, and said, "Perfect timing. You're just Like Andy."

Cabbie: "Who?"

Passenger: "Andy Sullivan. He's a guy who did everything right all the time. Like your coming along when I needed a cab, things happen like that to Andy Sullivan, every single time."

Cabbie: "There are always a few clouds over everybody."

Passenger: "Not Andy Sullivan. He was a terrific athlete. He could have won the Grand Slam at tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang like an opera baritone and danced like a Broadway star and you should have heard him play the piano. He was an amazing guy."

Cabbie: "Sounds like he was something really special."

Passenger: "There's more. He had a memory like a computer. He remembered everybody's birthday. He knew all about wine, which foods to order and which fork to eat them with. He could fix anything. Not like me. I change a fuse, and the whole street blacks out. But Andy Sullivan, he could do everything right."

Cabbie: "Wow. Some guy then."

Passenger: "Yep, and he really knew how to treat a woman. He would never answer her back even if she was in the wrong; and his clothing was always immaculate, shoes highly polished too. He was the perfect man! He never made a mistake. No one could ever measure up to Andy Sullivan."

Cabbie: "An amazing fellow. How did you meet him?"

Passenger: "Well, I never actually met Andy. He died. I'm married to his damned widow."

Five years ago: Give Me A Shot

Friday, August 13, 2021

Southpaw Point Of View

Boynton

I'm one of the 10 percent of the population that's left handed. Because we're such a minority a lot of things don't work as well for us. All of them are first world problems, but really annoying.

  • Ergonomic scissors have the wide and skinny blades upside down when you hold them in your left hand and you can't see where you're cutting.
  • Any chair with an attached desk has the desk on the right hand side.
  • I have to choose my spot carefully at a restaurant so I don't have a right-left elbow war with the person next to me.
  • If I'm using a pen with slow drying ink I'll drag the side of my hand through it, and both my hand and the paper end up smeared.
  • Spiral notebooks are hard to use, because the spiral part gets in the way. So is paper inside a three ring binder.
  • The ounce measurements on glass measuring cups are only visible when you hold them with your right hand.
  • The number keypad on my computer keyboard is on the right hand side. I either have to reach over or use my right hand to input the numbers.
  • Way back when I learned how to use a mouse no one told me there was an option to reverse the buttons to make it work left-handed. I figured out how to do it with my right hand (and still do).

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Just Doing His Job

My area is in the third day of an excessive heat warning. Today was forecast to have dangerously hot conditions with a heat index (a combination of temperature and humidity) of 107 degrees. When I left the house a little before 9 am it was already 83 degrees.

Because of the nasty weather conditions I've been getting my steps walking at the mall and in big box stores. That was getting old, and I really wanted to ride my bike, but didn't think that was a particularly good idea. Instead I decided to go to the gym and ride an exercise bike. Not as much fun as the real thing, but safer in the heat.

The branch of my gym I chose to go to has their bikes inside of a Cardio Theater, a darkened room with rows of equipment all facing towards a wall of televisions. The bikes are in the back row. I chose one, adjusted the seat, and started to ride.

I was halfway through my workout when a man who looked to be in his late 40s walked into the area using a white visual impairment cane to navigate. When I saw he was carrying a spray bottle and rag in his other hand I realized he was a gym employee. 

The man folded up his cane, laid it on the floor, and got to work. I watched as he sprayed cleaning solution on the seat of a bicycle and wiped it off, sprayed solution on his rag and cleaned off the front console, then sat down on the floor to dust the bottom portion. When that was done he stood up and moved over to the next machine by using his hands to feel for it. 

Eventually the man made it over to the machine next to me and I said hello to him. The room was pretty noisy, and I think I surprised him, but he greeted me back and kept working.

When I finished, I got off my bicycle and grabbed a disinfectant wipe from the dispenser to clean all the surfaces that might have gotten sweaty. I walked away and didn't look back to see if the man was re-doing my work.

Five years ago today: Egg Experiment

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Bicentennial Fun

August 10, 2021 is the two hundredth anniversary of Missouri's entry as the 24th state to enter the United States. There were several celebrations over the weekend and more today.

One of them was at the History Museum, and Hubby Tony and I decided to go. It was a very hot and humid day, so on the way to the museum we stopped to get some steps at the mall. We arrived at our destination when the doors opened at 10. The official bicentennial programming started at 11, so we spent the first hour walking through some of the displays. When we stepped outside to eat the lunch we brought with us we went out of our way to find a bench in the shade.

After lunch we watched part of a lecture, and listened to a very interesting fiddle performance. About that time I was getting antsy from sitting and we decided to leave.

There were several ice cream parlors offering promotions on ice cream cones, the state's official dessert.  After dinner we went to Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery, where I chose Maple Bourbon with Salted Candied Pecans from the 'naughty' (boozy) side. Since it was of the Missouri Pride flavors to commemorate the Missouri Bicentennial I figured it was appropriate.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Fermented Spicy Goodness

During the summer Hubby Tony and I eat a lot of watermelon; the sweet red flesh is juicy and refreshing in hot weather. (I especially like cubing and freezing it, then eating the pieces like bite-sized popsicles.)  

But what to do with the rind?  Two years ago I started dabbling with cooking with it. Last summer I tried using it to make kimchi (a Koren dish of salted and fermented vegetables). The results were really good, and this year I started the process of coming up with my own version of the dish. To do that, I took the best of four different recipes I found on the web:

Sorry about the sloppy writing and food splashes :-)

My recipe:

  • 1.5 pounds watermelon rind (just the white part. Remove all the red flesh and green peel)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced (or however many it takes to make a pile equal to the pile of ginger)
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (Korean if possible-they're not as spicy as the crushed red ones. Of course you could decrease the pepper to make the dish less spicy.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional, but it adds a lot of umami)

Slice the watermelon rind into small pieces, or use the slicing blade of a food processor. Put the rind into a glass bowl and add salt, mixing so all pieces are coated. Let set for 20 minutes.

Slice the green onions into pieces approximately the same size as the watermelon. Chop the garlic and mince the ginger.

Pour the rind into a colander and rinse off the salt. Squeeze out the excess water and return the rind to the bowl. Add the green onions, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and fish sauce (if using). Mix everything together.. It will look like this:

c

Cover the bowl and let the kimchi ferment at room temperature for 24 hours, or until liquid starts to exude. Stir it a couple of times.  Transfer to a jar and put it into the refrigerator.

The final dish is a delicious combination of spicy, sour, salty, and garlicky. Because it's fermented it's loaded with probiotics. I like to eat it by the spoonful, put it in a salad, or use it like a hot sauce.

Five years ago today: Where's My Food?

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Once Every 200 Years

August 10th marks the two hundredth anniversary of Missouri’s entry into the United States as the 24th state.  For the next week or so there are all kinds of celebrations going on. Today Hubby Tony and I visited one of them, which took place on and around the grounds of the first State Capitol in St. Charles.

We got there a little before the official start time, and walked a couple of blocks out of the way to visit a farmer's market. There we got some produce and talked with a coffee roaster (who made us a darn good cup of drip coffee) and picked up some tips for coffee shops in St. Charles.

The anniversary event was organized by the Missouri State Parks. There were historical reenactors, lots of activities for kids, and booths manned by both state employees and community organizations. There was a section behind the building seemed to be focused on pointing out some of the state symbols....

  • A native bird organization showcasing houses for bluebirds (the official state bird)
  • A booth manned by two young women, one of whom played the state song ("The Missouri Waltz") on the state instrument (the fiddle)
  • A tent manned by a beekeeping (the state insect) organization, which was giving out information about hives and how you could make your area bee friendly
  • The Department of Natural Resources, which manned a table with samples of rocks and minerals you could find in the state. I learned about the state rock (Mozarkite), and picked up a small sample of Galena (the state mineral)
  • A woman sitting at a table holding a sign proclaiming the state dance (square dance), who told me all of the other people in her group were across the street actually dancing. She looked sad to be left behind, but gave me a lot of information about groups in the area
  • Two women sitting at a table under a large black walnut tree (the state tree nut) demonstrating ink made from the inner skin of black walnuts with quill pens
  • The department of conservation, which had a sample of the state grass (big bluestem) and mounted displays of the state game bird (bobwhite quail). We had a discussion with him and learned there was a small native prairie that still remains in the St. Louis metropolitan area, which I added to my list of things to visit
  • A volunteer organization that grows and promotes native trees
  • A group from one of the large state parks in west St. Louis county, which brought specimens of the state fish (channel catfish), amphibian (American bullfrog), invertebrate (crawfish), and reptile (three-toed box turtle). They also had a poster which displayed the state animal (Missouri mule), horse (Missouri Fox Trotter), dinosaur  (Hypsibema missouriensis), fossil (Crinoid). And for some reason they included symbols that had nothing to do with fauna. It was interesting to learn that jumping jacks were the state exercise and ice cream cones were the state dessert

We were there for about two hours before it got hot. The sun was high enough that there wasn't a lot of shade to be had and we decided to leave. It's a shame that the anniversary couldn't take place a month from now when the weather would be much nicer.

Some of our swag

Friday, August 6, 2021

Frozen Soda Treat

Earlier in the week I learned that today was National Root Beer Float Day, and right away I knew that Hubby Tony and I would be celebrating. I'm always down to observe an event that revolves around yummy food or drink, but this celebration would kill two birds with one stone. It would get rid of the two aluminum bottles of Fitz's root beer taking up space in the refrigerator.

Tony bought the bottles about a month ago to include in a gift basket, but in the end decided not to include them. That gift basket's loss was our gain.

Five years ago today: Dividing Iris

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

It All Comes Full Circle

At age 4 success is not peeing in your pants
 

At age 12 success is having friends
 


At age 16 success is having a drivers license 

 At age 20 success is having sex
 

At age 35 success is having money

 At age 50 success is having money
 


At age 60 success is having sex
 
  

At age 70 success is having a drivers license
 

 

 At age 75 success is having friends
 

 

At age 80 success is not peeing in your pants
 

 

Five years ago: Incommodious

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Directory Of Businesses

The last time you needed to look up a business's information what source did you use? If you said the internet we're of like mind. A couple of weeks ago a pile of what looked like magazines showed up on the condo building foyer table. However, when I took a closer look I saw that they were Yellow Pages.

I didn't even know they still existed.

There are eight units in the building, and eight slim directories were piled in a neat stack. I did the polite thing and took one upstairs, walked back to my office, and deposited it straight into the recycling container. Someone else in the building took another one. The rest of the books remained on the table gathering dust. 

Yesterday I noticed that the person who takes it upon herself to decorate the table had changed the decor. The books were gone. Probably not a coincidence.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Recreation Opportunities Now And In The Future

Yesterday you (probably) read that Hubby Tony have a wedding anniversary coming up. After almost 41 years we don't feel the need to surprise each other anymore, so we went on a city road trip together to purchase presents.

It was hard for me to come up with something that Tony would like. The internet is full of ideas for a milestone 40th anniversary. The subsequent one, not so much. A couple of websites suggested that according to a Modern list a gift of land is appropriate. I found some imaginative interpretations of the theme (such as a vacation or day trip, something for the patio or garden, or a framed map) but nothing that worked for our wants or needs. Stretching my creativity to the limit, I decided to give Tony an America the Beautiful lifetime pass, which will allow him (and me,  as his traveling companion) free entry into facilities managed by the National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, and US Army Corps of Engineers.

There are two places in St. Louis to get the pass. One is the Gateway Arch National Park. The other one is the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. The Arch is located downtown. It can be a challenge to find parking, and then you might have to walk quite a distance from that parking space to the visitor's center. The Grant site is small and tucked back in a suburban area. I've ridden my bicycle past it many times, and I knew it would be easy to navigate.

After lunch and coffee we headed towards Grant's place. In the visitor's center Tony showed his identification to the ranger at the front desk, who added his name to the official log. I paid for it and Tony got his pass. The whole thing took five minutes

The ranger told us we were welcome to walk around the grounds by ourselves, but that if we were interested in going inside the White Haven house (the childhood home of Julia Dent Grant, and where she and Ulysses lived from 1854 to 1859) we needed to be with a tour group, and the next one was starting in 15 minutes. We decided to wait.

Our tour was led by a knowledgeable park ranger, and I learned a lot. The only problem was that there was a man on the tour who peppered her with questions. The questions were on point and interesting, and probably added information I wouldn't have gotten otherwise, but the temperature was close to 100 degrees and I was ready to end the day. Before the tour had officially wrapped up Tony and I made our way to the exit.

Five years ago today: When Does "Done" Mean Done?

Thursday, July 29, 2021

And Then There Were Two

Hubby Tony and I celebrate our 41st anniversary next Monday. Neither one of us need 'things', but we both wanted to do something to commemorate the occasion.

A couple of days ago Tony said he wanted to get me a plant. I thanked him, and said that it would look nice on the deck right now, but when it had to come inside for the cold weather the condo doesn't get enough sunshine to support greenery. Instead, I mentioned that the large metal flowers we got last summer required no attention and looked nice on the deck. Maybe we could go on a trip to find some more?

Undemanding blossoms

I called the store where we made the purchase last year and learned that they were sold out. Tony did research and found a few places that might have what we were looking for. This morning about 10 am we were leaving the house on our flower-finding adventure.

The most promising place was a garden store, but on the way there we stopped at a couple of big box hardware stores that claimed to have metal flowers. I was unimpressed. When we reached our destination I found a nice selection of flowers close to the front of the store. Together Tony and I decided that a second planter holding another five flowers would give us two pops of color on the deck.

Twice the metal vegetation
Tony carried the large ceramic planter to the car and I brought the flowers. We went and got pizza for lunch, then started on the second part of our escapade....

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Constructive Wait Time

I had an appointment to get the car's oil changed at 10 this morning. After that I was supposed to have another appointment across town but last night it got cancelled. I asked Hubby Tony if he wanted to tag along with me. He agreed.

We talked about what we could do while we waited for the car. Maybe we could take a walk in a nearby park? Or bring the bikes on the carrier and ride around the area by the garage?  On a nice day both would be great options, but my weather app said the temperature would be in the mid-80s, with humidity that made it feel even hotter than that. Add an additional 'being in the sun' factor and nothing sounded appealing. I was ready to throw in the towel on the whole adventure.

But while I was brushing my teeth this morning I had an inspiration. Ten minutes to the south of the garage is a greenway that runs along the Meramec River. It's flat and has lots of shade. Organizing things so that we could ride there would be a pain, but maybe worth it. I asked Tony, who said it was definitely worth it. We began putting out plan into action.

I made lunches to take with us, then changed into comfortable bicycling clothes. Tony changed his clothes then went downstairs to put the bikes on the car carrier. I said goodbye to Jackson the cat and followed Tony down. 

Once the bikes were strapped on the carrier I made sure everything I needed for the adventure was in Tony's car. We both got in our respective cars and drove to the trailhead, where we locked the bikes to a rack. Tony followed me to the garage. I dropped the car off, then I got in his car and we backtracked to the trailhead.

We had a wonderful ride on the flat, shady trail. There were very few other people on it, but we had a couple of nice conversations with fellow cyclists and actually saw a couple we knew from church who were walking.  The car took a little over an hour to be done. After I received a call from the garage Tony and I rode back to the trailhead. We repeated the whole convoluted process in reverse, then headed home.

Five years ago today: Skirting

Monday, July 26, 2021

My Bad

I was composing an email asking for financial renumeration for some expenses. My computer spell checker told me the word was wrong. I disagreed, and turned to Google to arbitrate. Imagine my surprise when I found out I have been using the wrong word for years! The Merriam-Webster dictionary said:
  • Renumeration means "to enumerate to count or list again" and is a very rare word.
  • Remuneration is a noun that means "something that remunerates" or "an act or fact of remunerating"

Image by S K from Pixabay

 Five years ago: Hall Bathroom Redo (Part Deux)

Friday, July 23, 2021

Somebody's Got To Win. Right?

People in Missouri haven't been particularly inclined to receive a COVID vaccine shot. We're one of the 15 lowest states in the country for people who have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, and we've made the national news for our soaring number of cases, so earlier in the week the state announced they would be sponsoring a 'vaccine incentive program' (AKA a COVID sweepstakes).

In total, the state will reward 900 individuals for receiving their shots. They're awarding prizes in three categories-adults who received the vaccine before July 21, those who received their shot after July 21, and young people between the ages of 12 and 17. The prizes are quite generous. Adults can win $10,000 cash. Teenagers $10,000 prizes will be in the form of an education savings account. Between mid-August and mid-October there are several rounds of drawings.

You have to opt into the program, so the day after the big announcement I filled out the form to enter on the website. Entries will be rolled over from one round to the next, so I will have multiple chances to add a little extra money to the household budget for the year.

Five years ago today: Yet Another Thing I've Just Learned

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Peachy

Just in time for prime eating season I took a quiz about peaches. I thought I knew a lot about the fruit, but it turns out I was far from an expert on them. 

The things I learned:

  • Mealy peaches were refrigerated before they were fully ripe.
  • A deep blush is NOT a sign of a ripe peach. It's a fruit that has a creamy yellow background color. 
  • If a peach is still slightly green, it will ripen if you leave it at room temperature for a couple of days.
  • Most peaches in the USA come from California (not Georgia, which is called the Peach State)
  • Research has found that compounds in peaches inhibit the growth of breast cancer.
  • Peach pits helped save the lives of soldiers during World War I. They used them to make activated charcoal for gas masks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Smooth!

I was doing a crossword puzzle and came across the clue 'Band whose 1999 hit “Smooth” spent 12 weeks at No. 1' I knew that the answer was "Smooth", a great song I never get tired of hearing. I smiled to myself, knowing that now I'd probably have the tune stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Fifteen minutes later can you guess what came on the radio? Somehow the disc jockey read my mind.

Five years ago today: The Grass Isn't Going To Cut Itself

Monday, July 19, 2021

Stopping The Burn

Hubby Tony often uses fresh jalapeno in his dinner recipes. The other day he bought a package that contained eight peppers. He used one in his dish, then cut the extra ones in half, de-seeded them, and put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer.

When they were frozen I dumped the pepper pieces in a Ziploc bag for long term storage. I don't remember touching the peppers, but I must have. I also don't remember touching my face, but I must have, because fifteen minutes later I felt a sharp, burning sensation right next to my left eye and realized I must have gotten pepper juice there.

I carefully splashed water on it, but that didn't help. Then I remembered that if I had ingested the hot pepper drinking water wouldn't help, so I probably needed to find a different solution. Google didn't have any information about pepper juice on your face, so I turned to a WikiHow article entitled How to Get Jalapeno Off Your Hands.  

The article had three suggestions. Two of them (rinsing with alcohol or a diluted bleach solution and using a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide) sounded like they could be problematic close to my eye. But the third one said the jalapeno capsaicin could be dissolved with olive oil. I got the bottle of EVOO out of the pantry and carefully rubbed a couple of drops on the offending spot. It took a couple of seconds, but the burn disappeared.

The last step was to wash the oil off with soap and water. Although the article suggested that dish detergent would do a better job of cutting the grease I went with a milder face soap. It took two cycles of washing and rinsing before my skin didn't feel oily any more.  And more importantly, it didn't burn.

Five years ago: Good Grief!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

One Last Set of Family Fun

Hubby Tony and my recent California family visit ended with a bang--two extra days at Son Brian and DIL Nicole's house.

On Sunday morning we all went to Happy Hollow, a small zoo and amusement park. Because the back seat of Nicole's vehicle was full of children in car seats Tony and I followed them there. In the parking lot Brian put twins Dee and Ell in the wagon so they could ride to the entrance. At four years old, Jay was a 'big boy' who could walk.

The boys enjoyed looking at the animals and playing two different playground. They rode a kiddie ride, and then it was time to leave. On the way out of the park Ell decided he could walk on his own. There were large green footprints painted on the sidewalk every few feet. Ell zigzagged from one to the other, stopping to stomp on each. I held back and tried to encourage him to move faster, but he was enjoying moving at his own pace. Eventually the rest of the group stopped to regroup and we caught up. Ell was happy to climb in the wagon for the rest of the trip.

On Monday Brian and Nicole both had to work. Jay went to school, and the nanny came to take care of Ell and Dee. Tony and I went on one last road trip to Half Moon Bay, a town and beach about 45 minutes northwest. Because it was a weekday it was easy to find a place to park. We walked through the town, stopped in a diner for lunch, then drove down to the beach area.

Tony has a friend who grew up in that area and talked fondly about it. I knew that the ocean there was better for surfing than for swimming, but the temperatures were in the low 60s and I wasn't even tempted to take off my shoes and stick my feet in the water. Instead, we walked north along a Coastal Trail from one beach to another, then backtracked to the car.

On our way out of town we stopped at a fish market and bought a container of clam chowder to bring home for dinner.  We got on the road early enough to avoid the rush hour traffic. Back at Brian's got everything out of the car, then took it for a well-deserved wash. After a quick stop at the grocery store for items to complete the dinner menu we returned and helped get food on the table.

 We had one last night of reading stories with Jay. In the morning we had one last set of snuggles from each of the grandchildren before an Uber came to take us to the airport.

Five years ago today: Moving To Music

Friday, July 16, 2021

Twosome Traveling

For Part 3 of our California vacation Hubby Tony and I were on our own. He has has always wanted to drive along some of the iconic stretches of the state's Highway 1. On this trip he got to cross that off of his bucket list. 

This was the shortest of our vacation segments, but the most jam-packed. In two days we went south, then turned around and headed back north to end up in the San Francisco Bay area. Follow along if you'd like.

DAY 1

  • The last thing we did before exiting Pismo Beach was to check out the drivable beach area. We had no interest in potentially getting stuck in the sand, so after a brief stop in the parking lot we were on our way.
  • I was driving so I got to choose the route. Even though most websites said that this stretch of Highway 1 was mainly farmland and not very scenic I did it anyway. Just because. The road soon veered inland. We passed through several small burgs with three-block main streets and saw fields being tended by busloads of workers.
  • This area of California has quite a few Spanish missions. When we saw a sign for La Purisima Mission State Historic Park we stopped in to see what was there. However, when we found out it would take several hours to do justice to the park we used the bathroom and got back on the road.
  • When we got to Buellton we stopped for lunch at Pea Soup Andersen's and had their specialty in a bread bowl.

  •  Our next stop was Solvang, which brands itself as "The Danish Capital of America". The town did have some lovely architecture, but the weather was very hot and there were a lot of people to contend with. After purchasing a pastry and coffee we got back on the road.
  • We took the most direct route to Santa Barbara, where we toured the Old Mission. About this time we realized that we had tried to cram too much into the day so instead of exploring Santa Barbara we headed north.
  • We stopped in Morro Bay for a little sightseeing and dinner, then navigated to a hotel in San Simeon, our final destination for the night. 

DAY 2

  • The Hearst Castle is the flagship thing to do in that area, and the thing that was on my bucket list, but it was closed because of road issues. (BUMMER!) Instead, we started off the day getting a good cup of coffee at a roasting company then heading north toward Big Sur.
  • The 90-mile stretch of the highway through Big Sur was a little stressful to drive through. For the first hour of the trip some coastal fog obscured things, including the ocean views. The narrow road hugged the sides of hills and had lots of twists and turns.  Around just about every one of those turns there were cars pulled off to the side to enjoy the scenery. I lost count of all the times we pulled off ourselves and saw things like this:

  • Halfway through the area we stopped at a taphouse for a surprisingly good lunch. My caprise panini was a work of art, with thick slices of tomato and mozzarella placed diagonally on toasted sourdough bread slathered with pesto.
  • After Big Sur we ended up at Carmel-by-the-Sea. So did hundreds of other people; we had to drive around for five minutes to find a place to park and ended up about a half mile from the beach. We strolled down a shop-lined street, stopped for coffee, then continued toward the ocean. Once there I took off my shoes and got my feet wet, then we walked on a beach bluff path until we got to a street that would take us back to the car.
  • On the other side of the Monterrey Peninsula from Carmel by the Sea is the city of Monterrey. We have been there a couple of times, so we just continued on our way north. We passed through a series of small towns and farm fields until we eventually reached Santa Cruz.
  • Our plan was to go to mass at the mission church, but we arrived an hour early and killed time walking around the downtown area. After mass we returned to eat at a restaurant we had picked out, then walked back to our car for the last leg of our trip, ending up at Son Brian's house. We got there just after the grandchildren had gone to bed.  After a short conversation with Brian and DIL Nicole Tony and I headed to bed ourselves.