Sunday, February 28, 2021

LXX

Even on the weekends Hubby Tony's Countdown to Retirement marches on. Today he's completed 70 of his last 100 days. To honor the event I gave him a box of appropriately calorie-numbered snack bars.

I wonder if he will be snacking on the bars in his last days of work?

Five years ago today: Barley Salad

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Notify Me, Please

I've been a blog author for more than a decade. In all that time I've always received an email when someone commented on one of my posts. Last week I realized that wasn't happening anymore. I figured Blogger had changed things around, but when I checked my settings my email address was already there under 'Comment Notification Email".  Very puzzling.

To find out what was going on I turned to my friend Google for assistance. The search results indicated that people have been having the problem for years. I guess I've been lucky. It turns out that all I needed to do was delete myself from comment notifications, then add myself (again?) as an additional person to receive those notification emails.

The navigation process was easy. From the Blogger dashboard I went to:

  • Settings
  • Email (halfway down the page), then
  • Invite more people to comment notification emails

In the pop-up box I added my email address and clicked 'Send'. 

Seconds later I received a message in my Inbox telling me I had been invited to receive email notifications when new comments on the blog were published. It invited me to click a Subscribe link to accept the invitation.

It was exciting to see the first notification mail come through later in the day.


  Five years ago: Physics 101

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Small Return To Routine

The gym that Hubby Tony and I belong to was shut down last March. It opened up again in mid-June, but neither one of us was ready to return. We kept exercising the option of freezing our membership for 30 days. The past few weeks have seen fewer Covid cases, and Tony and I made the decision to activate the membership again.  It went live on the 15th, but after so much time away I was out of the habit of going. It wasn't until I realized that one of my assignments today was right next to a branch of the gym I decided it was time to get there.  

It's not like I've been sitting around doing nothing. My phone step counter tells me I average a little over 12,000 steps a day, but those steps aren't intense enough to raise my heart rate to an aerobic level. I was also looking to do something different than walking. A stationary bike sounded like a nice change of pace.

After hearing about a gym in Illinois that had a huge Covid breakout over the summer I almost changed my plans, but then I learned that the CDC concluded there was no mask wearing, the transmission happened during group classes, and the room had bad ventilation. My gym mandates masks, I wasn't going to a class, and the high-ceiling room is quite airy. In my mind there was little to be concerned about.

The location I went to isn't the closest one to my house, but it only took about 15 minutes to get there. I left my coat in the car so I wouldn't have to use the locker room, grabbed my water bottle, put on my mask, and hustled into the building.

The first thing I noticed is that there was only one way to enter. I'm sure that was so the front desk could control the number of people coming in, because the County mandates a 50% building capacity. This morning there were far fewer than that. All were following instructions and wearing a mask. It felt very safe. The treadmills, bikes, and rowing machines were six feet apart. Stands holding sanitary wipes were everywhere. Even though there wasn't enough foot traffic to get the room dirty, I saw employees continually cleaning and vacuuming.

I picked out a bike, and even though it didn't look dirty I wiped it down before I started. My 30 minute ride was enough to get me nice and winded. After I got off I wiped the bike down again, then stopped by the locker room to use the bathroom and wash my hands.

Since my first trip was so successful I will certainly try again. Next time I might even use some weight machines to start getting my flabby muscles back into shape.

Five years ago: (Try To) Do Something Good

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Unfolded

I have two categories of jeans...ones that leave the house and ones that don't. All of them are comfortable, but the house jeans are older (they used to be in the going out category) and extra soft. Since they're old I don't have to care if I spill anything while I'm cooking, and if I forget and wipe my hands on them I don't have to feel bad.

The hem of those house jeans was driving me crazy by curling up about an eighth of an inch above the stitching.

Quite unattractive looking, don't you think?

In an effort to fix the issue I tried wetting the area and putting a heavy book on it, wetting and hanging a heavy object to the bottom to straighten it, and ironing. Nothing worked for more than ten minutes after I put the jeans on. 

I turned to the internet for answers. Suggestions, in addition to the ones I already tried. included reinforcing the hem or using a flat iron. (I discarded both. I wasn't going to add yet another layer of material at the bottom of the pants and I don't own a flat iron.) One interesting idea was to turn the jeans inside-out before putting them in the dryer. I was skeptical that something so simple could be effective. Guess what? It worked!

Success!
Now I'll just have to remember to turn them every laundry day.

Five years ago: Can Do

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Life Is Like A Movie

If you're sad it's a drama



If you're scared it's a suspense movie


If you're happy it's a comedy



If you're motivated it's an action movie

And when you look in the mirror it's either a fantasy or a horror movie 


Five years ago today: Desk Supervisor Pepper

Friday, February 19, 2021

Just Me

It was almost a year ago (March 16th, 2020, to be exact) that Hubby Tony started working from home. At first it was strange to have another body around during business hours, but I eventually got used to it. Today, for the first time in eleven months Tony put on business casual clothes, packed his lunch, and left for the office to meet with the coworker who will be picking up one his projects after he retires.

I was eating breakfast when Tony said goodbye and left. It took him two trips to carry several large work bags (stuffed with project papers, his computer, and peripherals), and the work computer monitor out to the car. I heard him lock the condo door as he left. I felt like I could do whatever I wanted!

Since Tony has worked from home we pretty much do our own thing during the day, but I always know he's around. The design of the condo is such that his office is visible from both the living room and the hall to the bedrooms. Normally I can see Tony at work every time I pass by. Today the room was dark and silent. Instead of walking down the hall to speak to each other, we had to text back and forth like in the old days.

I had the run of the whole house. There was a Zoom meeting to attend at 9:30. Instead of setting up my laptop in the back bedroom and closing the door for privacy like I do every other week, I placed it on the dining room table. Just because I could. After the meeting was over I left to run some errands, and didn't have to explain where I was going or what I was doing. (Other than to the cat, who just said to make sure I would be back to feed him mid-afternoon).

When I got back from errands I still had hours before Tony would return. I tried to walk in the neighborhood (but discovered that many of the sidewalks were still in rough shape). I came home and got caught up on emails, played some computer mahjong, straightened the kitchen, fed the cat, had my afternoon crossword puzzle time, caught up on all the posts in my feedreader, and had time to play some more mahjong before I heard the front door open.  My solo time was over.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Gift And A History Lesson Rolled Into One

I was having a little trouble coming up with something to commemorate Hubby Tony's passage of 60 of the last 100 days until his retirement, so I started surfing the web. There I came across a song by Pete Seeger called "Sixty Percent". The song was on his album called American Industrial Ballads, which was released in 1956 by Folkways Records and reissued in 1992 by Smithsonian Folkways.

 
I'm sixty percent an American 
I'm sixty percent a man 
That's what parity say I am 
That's the law of the land 
 
Now do I work sixty percent of each day? 
Eat sixty percent of my meals? 
And does my truck take me into town 
On sixty percent of its wheels? 
 
Now will my chicks be content to eat 
Just sixty percent of their mash? 
And will the middleman give my throat 
Just sixty percent of a slash? 
 
Now all you workers in city and town 
I know your budget's a mess 
But when you get to that last lousy buck 
Remember I've forty cents less!
 
I guessed there was some history behind the lyrics, and came across the liner notes to the album. There I learned that the song was composed by a man named Les Rice, who was a New York apple farmer and a former president of his county's Farmers Union. The song was written in 1948 or 1949, and talks about how the problem of parity (the issue of farm income keeping up with farm costs) affects a farmer's life. 
 
Five years ago today: Where Are They Coming From?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

No Smudge

In all of my years of going to Mass on Ash Wednesday, the ashes have always been distributed the same way. After the homily people process up to the altar in a Communion-style line to have a cross marked on their forehead, along with hearing the words "Repent, and believe in the Gospel". I figured that everyone had the same experience.

I was wrong. Evidently in other parts of the world the priest gives a general exhortation, then people come up to have the ashes sprinkled on the crown of their head. Per the recommendations of the Vatican, that's how I received them today.

The new method eliminated skin-to-skin contact, and therefore there was less chance of spreading Covid. It made sense, but I can't say that I was a fan. The rite is completely optional, but the ashes are a sign of penitence, and  each time I see the cross on my forehead during the day it reminds me of it's importance. 

This year the only reminder I had was my growling stomach, which kept reminding me I was fasting.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Flexible Fat Tuesday

Even though there have been no live Mardi Gras events this year, Hubby Tony and I still did our best to celebrate the season. In honor of Fat Tuesday, tonight's dinner was going to be a big, rich, fat-filled, caloric blowout before the start of Lent tomorrow. When I was grocery shopping today I bought a pre-made flatbread and a Caesar salad kit. A stop at a bakery yielded two large cookies for dessert.

Right after I got home and had the food put away I was offered the opportunity to go to a nearby hamburger restaurant for dinner. I asked Tony, who thought about it for at least two seconds before he agreed we should change our plans. After Tony finished work we went to the mall and walked, then drove across the street to the restaurant. It was dark, and there was a sign on the door that they were closed because of the snowy weather that came through late yesterday. 

Good thing we could be flexible.

Back at home I preheated the oven while Tony tossed the salad. We ate it while the flatbread was baking, then moved on to the main dish when it was finished. After dinner Tony made decaf coffee to go with the cookies. When they were gone I brought out two bars of good dark chocolate that were in the pantry. We finished them off, too.

After the food frenzy my stomach was completely full. As it should be the night before the Ash Wednesday fast.

Five years ago today: A Bag Of Bottles

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Brunch And A Show

With Valentine's Day falling at the end of the weekend this year I suspect a lot of people celebrated last night. Hubby Tony and I chose to pass on joining them. Based on past experience, nice restaurants choose to offer limited option or prix fixe menus that focus on 'romantic' ingredients that I don't care for or are more expensive. Add in the government-mandated decrease in seating due to Covid and we decided it wouldn't be worth the hassle.

Instead, we celebrated by going out to brunch today. In addition to their regular menu, the restaurant we picked had some specials on the menu, including the one we chose-a French Toast flambée for two, prepared table side.

Flammable!

The meal came with three thick slabs of French toast for each of us, one of two toppings (we chose Bananas Foster), scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, and coffee. It didn't take long after we placed the order for the waitress to wheel a cart over to our table. 

It was fascinating to watch the process. The waitress turned on the burner to melt butter, then added a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar and some orange juice. Next she carefully poured some rum into a large spoon, removed the pan from the heat, passed the spoon over the fire so it lit, then poured the flaming alcohol back into the pan and cooked it until the alcohol burned off. 

She added the bananas, stirred the mixture, then repeated the flaming process again. This time she added some more brown sugar to the fire, which sparkled as it burned. The last step was to spoon the topping over our French toast and served it to us.

Five years ago today: Dinner With My Sweetie

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Cajun-ish

This is Mardi Gras weekend, the last hurrah before Lent starts on Wednesday. Although all of the in-person events in my area were cancelled, I still wanted to celebrate with food. I also wanted to use items we already in the house. There weren't many traditional ingredients, and I had to improvise.

Red Beans and Rice is a traditional Cajun recipe. I didn't have any red beans, but I decided a container of Great Northern beans from the freezer would work. There wasn't any andouille sausage, but some chopped ham gave the dish a nice meaty, salty taste. (Extra hot sauce added at the table added the missing heat.) No Cajun recipe would be complete without the "trinity" of onion, celery, and green pepper. I Googled recipes for Red Beans and Rice and clicked through to the third one. Based on their recommendations for spices I added paprika, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

The resulting dish was pretty good.


& Five years ago today: It's Not About Me At All

Thursday, February 11, 2021

ValenSpines Day

 I received a text this afternoon. In the preview all I could see were the words "ValenSpines Day". That sounded a little creepy, but when I opened it I found this cute poem from my chiropractor:

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Come in and let
Dr. [Chiropractor's Name] adjust you!
 
Love your spine.
Dr. [Chiropractor's Name]'s office
Five years ago today: This New Day Is Too Dear

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Cat Naps And Catnaps

Today's weather was predicted to be nasty and raw, and it lived up to it. When I rolled out of bed, the forecasted inch of ice and snow mix was already on the ground. It was overcast all day, and the 'high' temperature didn't even make it up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

 I didn't have anywhere I had to go, so I cooked a pot of lentils for dinner and piddled around on the computer. In the early afternoon I decided it would be a great time for a nap. There was just one issue. It was getting close to Jackson the cat's lunch time, and he gets pretty aggressive about reminding me. I wondered if I could get some quality snoozing in without being disturbed.

Just chillin' on  the bed
When I stretched out on the bed with my head propped up with a pillow Jackson was situated on the corner. He completely ignored me for the 20 minutes I read emails and blogs on my phone. Eventually I laid the pillow flat on the mattress and scooted down so I was prone. No response from Jackson. I took off my glasses, turned over on my side, and closed my eyes. Thirty seconds later I sensed something right next to my face. I opened my eyes and saw a cat's nose almost touching mine. 

Hi there!

Thankfully, after his initial contact Jackson was a gentleman. I acknowledged his presence, and he jumped off the bed and only let out a couple of loud meows before he left the room. When I woke up from my nap he was curled up on the floor next to the bed waiting for me.

Five years ago: Not Just For Christmas

Monday, February 8, 2021

Five Tea

Hubby Tony is halfway through his last 100 days of work until retirement. At the end of the day today, after he had crossed the date off his countdown calendar, I gave him a box containing five different flavors of herbal tea. (Five tea....fifty....get it?)

The past few months Tony has cut down his coffee consumption in favor of decaffeinated tea. The 18 bags in this collection should get him through until at least his next 10-day milestone.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Party For Two

Hubby Tony is much more of a football fan than I am, and even he lost interest in the game when the St. Louis Rams moved back to Los Angeles in 2016. However, he makes an exception each year for the Super Bowl, which is usually the first Sunday in February.

Years ago Tony would go to a 'men only 'watching party, hosted by the father of one of his good friends. When that group fell apart we started watching as a family. Eventually the boys moved away and then it became just the two of us. (I guess we were ahead of the trend. This year the news sources were advising people to avoid socializing for Covid reasons.)

The biggest problem with a small group is that it's hard to have a nice variety of food options. Two weeks ago I pointed out to Tony that a local caterer (The Art of Entertaining) was offering "Big Game" packages for different sized groups-one of which was just the right size for us. Tony placed the order and picked it up yesterday. I was out running errands, but when I got home and looked in the refrigerator the large bag took up almost an entire shelf.

Shortly before game time today Tony got all the food out. There was a selection of vegetables with dill dip, two appetizer spreads (one cold and one warm), crackers, and tortilla chips. We decided the vegetables were a little light for us, so I added some mushrooms and red pepper strips. 


For the main course there were two types of chili (classic red and white bean chicken) and two dollar roll sandwiches (turkey and roast beef).

 Dessert was a selection of bite-sized bars and a mint for each of us. To make things a little healthier we added orange sections.

Sunday is Tony's day to cook dinner, so he took charge of microwaving the things that needed to be hot. Once the broadcast started Tony primarily watched the game and my focus was the commercials. Just like always.

Five years ago today: Here For The Food

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Writing By Witness

 Earlier in the week when Hubby Tony brought in the mail there was an interesting-looking stationary envelope sandwiched in between two pieces of junk mail. It was addressed to both of us by name. The only sign that it might not have come from one of our friends was the addition of the phrase "or Current Resident". It even had a real stamp on it.

When I turned it over, the envelope flap revealed the sender.

Even though I was pretty sure I knew what would be inside, I still took out the single sheet of stationary and saw a neatly hand written letter. The signature line was pretty anonymous, but it was obvious that someone had taken a lot of time on it.

I suspect that Jehovah's Witnesses aren't making in-person house visits because of Covid, and at least some people are intrigued enough by a personal letter (like I was) to open it.

Five years ago today: Errands And Exercise

Monday, February 1, 2021

Stuck Song Syndrome

Yesterday Hubby Tony and I did the end of month grocery shopping together. I had promised to make a batch of granola, so I made sure dried fruit was on the list. I thought I had all the other necessary ingredients, but when I got home I realized that although we had plenty of ground flax seed for normal use, there wasn't enough for that and the granola (which requires a whole cup).

Today after lunch I decided to combine a walk with a trip to pick up the necessary flax seed. There are two full-service groceries within walking distance, both branches of large local chains. One (Schnucks) is a half mile away, and the other (Dierbergs) is twice that far. Both carry Bob's Red Mill ground flax seed. However, Schnucks only has the one pound bags, and I prefer the larger two pound bags that Dierbergs carries.

I decided that the extra distance would be good for me. My weather app said it was 34 degrees, so I bundled up before grabbing my charge card, keys, and mask. Once outside, I found out it was brisk but not biting. 

It took me about 15 minutes to get to the store. I knew exactly where I needed to go to find the flax seed. I grabbed the bag and headed toward the cashier. After I made my purchase I realized that I should use the bathroom before the walk home. At this store the restrooms are in the back of the building, so I walked through the produce and deli sections to get there. 

After I finished in the bathroom I decided it would be a good idea to get some more steps while I was in a warm place.  I walked though the meat department, segued into the bakery area, then turned and meandered down the dairy aisle. Next I turned and went up one of the frozen food aisles and back down past the personal care items. 

The store wasn't busy; there were more associates stocking the shelves than there were customers. I wasn't paying particular attention to the store music, but that changed when I noticed the song playing was "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps.

 

Before I knew it I was walking to the song's beat. When I passed an associate stocking potato chips I noticed she was singing along softly. There was a second associate two aisles over in the canned goods doing the same thing. I didn't sing, but I had the song stuck in my head all the way home.

Five years ago today: Easy Come, Easy Go.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Who Drove What?

Back in the 1980s the phrase "What would Jesus do?" (abbreviated as WWJD?) became popular. If you think about it, those same initials could also have stood for "What would Jesus (and other figures from the Bible) drive?" Some examples:

 One theory is that Jesus would tool around in an old Plymouth because the Bible says, "God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury."

In Psalm 83, the Almighty clearly owns a Pontiac and a Geo. The passage says to "pursue your enemies with your Tempest and terrify them with your Storm."

Perhaps God favors Dodge pickup trucks, because Moses' followers are warned not to go up a mountain "until the Ram's horn sounds a long blast."

Some scholars insist that Jesus drove a Honda but didn't like to talk about it. As proof, they cite a verse in St. John's gospel where Christ tells the crowd, "For I did not speak of my own Accord..."

Meanwhile, Moses rode an old British motorcycle, as evidenced by a Bible passage declaring that "the roar of Moses' Triumph is heard in the hills."

Joshua drove a Triumph sports car with a hole in its muffler: "Joshua's Triumph was heard throughout the land."


Following Jesus' lead, the Apostles car pooled in a Honda... "The Apostles were in one Accord."


Five years ago: Make a Snowflake

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Slice Of Pie Is Getting Larger

At the end of the day today Hubby Tony crossed Day 61 off on his retirement countdown calendar. He's now forty percent of the way to being done with punching the time clock.
To celebrate the milestone, I sent him an email from the folks at Reader's Digest, which offered 9 Fascinating Facts About the Number 40 You Never Knew (And we went out for ice cream after dinner.)
  1. Forty is the only number in English which has its letters in alphabetical order.
  2. Minus 40 degrees, or “40 below”, is the only temperature that is the same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
  3. When the bubonic plague gripped Europe during the Middle Ages, ships would be isolated in harbours for 40 days before passengers could go ashore. The word quarantine originates from the Venetian dialect form of the Italian quaranta giorni, meaning “40 days”.
  4. There are 40 spaces on a Monopoly board. Proving that life is a gamble, the game gives players equal chances (one in 40) of going directly to jail or winning the Free Parking prize.
  5. Forget “nine months” – a typical pregnancy actually lasts 40 weeks.
  6. It took chemists 40 attempts to develop the magical spray we knew as … wait for it … WD-40 (full name: Water Displacement, 40th formula).
  7. In literature, 40 is the number of thieves Ali Baba clashes with in the “Arabian Nights” tale.
  8. Also, 40 is the number of winks Dr William Kitchiner suggests taking for a perfect nap in his 1821 guide.
  9. In religion, 40 seems to be shorthand for “a long time.” Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness being tempted by the devil; the great flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights; the Jewish people wandered the desert for 40 years.
Five years ago: Kale, Yeah!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Snow And Synchronicity

Last night the news meteorologist predicted we would get snow starting at 6 am. There was nothing on the ground when my alarm went off a half hour after that time, but during breakfast a couple of flakes came down, enough to give the grass a tiny dusting of white. Then it stopped. Two hours later, just about the time I thought the forecast was wrong once again, it started snowing for real. Big flakes covered the street and sidewalk. It came down for several hours. By the time it stopped there was about an inch on the ground.

One of my To Dos for today was to get supplies at the store for tomorrow's work. I had no desire to go out while the streets were snow covered, so I amused myself all morning by working on dinner and playing on the computer. After lunch I took the recycling to the communal bin and ran into my neighbor coming in from the garage. She said she had no trouble driving, so I decided I could go out too.

At the store I knew exactly what I needed. I grabbed my supplies and headed toward the checkout. The conventional lines were very long so I moved over to the self-serve area. There, the female attendant directed me to a machine and I started scanning my items. One of them was supposed to be on clearance but rang up at a higher price. Attendant was helping someone else so I completed the purchase and figured I would have to go to the Customer Service area to complain. 

Just about that time Attendant came back to her station and I started to ask her about the price discrepancy. However, I took a look at her name tag, and a good look at her face, and realized I knew her. We had both worked at the mall Customer Service desk from 2011 until I left in 2014. Back then Attendant had a day job and worked at the desk on nights and weekends. Our schedules didn't overlap a lot, but enough that I got to know her pretty well. She was about my age, and the only one of the desk staff who also had grown children. 

After we spent a couple of minutes catching up, Attendant asked me if I had heard about our boss passing away last spring. I had not. We talked a little bit about how shocking the news was. Boss would have been in his mid-40s, but had some preexisting health conditions. I would have liked to chat longer, but there was another customer that needed assistance, so I said goodbye.

As I walked away I realized that my being at that part of that store at that time was no accident. I was meant to be there so I could run into someone I knew and hear about someone else I knew.

Five years ago: A Chair Massage Like No Other

Monday, January 25, 2021

What A Difference A Year Makes

Today was a raw, nasty mid-winter day. The temperature was high enough that the intermittent precipitation came down as rain and not snow or sleet, but that was the only positive I could think of. I thought I would walk outside, but quickly changed those plans and headed to an inside location.

At Walmart I strolled up and down most of the aisles in the store looking at the merchandise as I went along. One aisle over from the Valentine's products I came across a display of Mardi Gras decorations and accessories. Looking at the display, my first thought was "Remember just last year, when a masquerade mask is what people thought of when they heard the word?"


Five years ago today: A Box At A Time

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Sprouts Begone!

Today the temperatures made it into the low 50s Fahrenheit (way above the 40° average). By the time I left the house at 9:30 to run errands it was already warm enough to put on my lighter weight winter coat, although I still wrapped a scarf around my neck. Thirty minutes later the scarf came off, and an hour after that I didn't need the coat zipped.

When I went outside to get the mail in the afternoon the temperature was even balmier. Tomorrow is forecast to be twenty degrees colder, so I knew that I needed to make the most of the warmth. I walked down to the end of my street, then turned around and came back up.

Across the street from our condo there's a retaining wall. When we moved in last winter the area at the top of the wall was a jumble of bush honeysuckle and creeping euonymus, both weedy and invasive plants. Once the weather warmed up the jumble was taken out and replaced with a row of evergreens, which will eventually grow together to make a hedge. 

However, the old plants did not go quietly. Wherever the landscapers forgot to pull up all the roots sprouts appeared. During the nice weather an employee of the condo management company would occasionally come and maintain the area, but now that it's cold I haven't seen him.

I'm thoroughly enjoying condo living, but every once in a while I still like to get my hands dirty, and decided to take advantage of being outside to pull up some of the sprouts. I walked along the wall yanking on the ones I came upon. The soil was moist from some rain earlier in the week, so many of them came out easily, spewing out pieces of dirt along with their root systems. I ripped the leaves off the stubborn sprouts, figuring that would temporarily deprive them of nutrients so they wouldn't thrive.

I've never heard that residents couldn't play at gardening, but I've never seen anyone do it. I kept looking around to make sure no one was taking offense at my efforts, but the street was quiet.

Five years ago today: Let's Call It Soup

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Ternary

First Hubby Tony completed one entire row of ten days on his Retirement Countdown calendar. Then just like that a second row was history. Today he crossed off the last day of the third row. 

To commemorate the day I went to the party store and bought him a balloon to put on the corner of his desk.


The store associate added helium to the balloon and attached a long piece of ribbon to the bottom. When I got home I tied the balloon to a weight, leaving a long trail of ribbon across the floor. Jackson the cat had a good time playing with the trail for a couple of minutes, so the gift ended up being for two.

Five years ago today: It's Popcorn Time!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Putting Things Back In Order

This morning I opened up my blog and noticed that the layout was out of whack. The right sidebar wasn't where it was supposed to be; instead it was at the bottom of the first page of posts. 

I poked around in the Layout and Theme sections, but when I didn't have any luck fixing the problem I started searching through the Blogger Help posts. It didn't take long for me to find the answer to my issue. A Platinum Product Expert by the name of DarkUFO suggested the problem was some bad HTML code in one of my posts.

The solution was to open the posts up one at at time from the Dashboard and see if the sidebar was in the correct place. When I found the one where the issue started I could look at the HTML code to find the error.

That was easier said than done. Last year when I was forced to change to the New Blogger, one of the things I hated the most was that they switched to 'real' HTML. It was harder to figure out because there were no line breaks. However, I wanted to make sure things looked tidy on my blog so I did what I had to. 

Fortunately, the issue wasn't too far down the list of posts. When I found it I selected and cut the text from the Compose page. Next I clicked over to the HTML view and removed what was left (which I assumed was the 'bad' code). I pasted the cut text in, then went back to Compose to put in paragraph breaks. 

Now things are back to normal in my tiny corner of the internet universe.

Five years ago today: A Cultural Challenge

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Good For Animals And People Too

A while back Hubby Tony told me he had misplaced his styptic pencil (which he uses to stop the bleeding from shaving nicks) and asked me to add it to the grocery list. I was happy to oblige. However, I could not find styptic pencils in any stores. Tony joined in the hunt and also came up empty handed.

I checked some online retailers. They had styptic pencils, but they either came in packages  that were larger than we needed or were very expensive. One day on a website dedicated to shaving I read a discussion about styptic powder as an alternative to pencils. A poster suggested buying it from a pet store. Evidently it's a common remedy used by groomers for blood due to clipping nails, and other superficial cuts and scratches

I checked with my local pet store-they had it in stock-and I picked it up the next time I was in the area.

Tony used the powder and said it worked just like a pencil would have.  Some time later I was shaving my legs and ended up with a cut on my shin. I wondered if the styptic powder would work for me, too, and decided to try it out. I followed the directions, which said to "Apply with moistened cotton tip applicator to the cut, nail, or other superficial bleeding area using moderate consistent pressure for five to ten seconds".  The powder stung like crazy for a few seconds, but the bleeding stopped immediately.

Five years ago today: My Trash Is Your Treasure

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Welcome To The Future

(Author unknown) 

 CALLER: Is this Luigi's Pizza? 

 GOOGLE: No sir, it's Google Pizza. 

 CALLER: I must have dialed a wrong number, sorry. 

 GOOGLE: No sir, Google bought Luigi's last month. 

CALLER: OK. I would like to order a pizza. 

GOOGLE: Do you want your usual, sir? 

CALLER: My usual? You know me? 

GOOGLE: According to our caller ID data sheet, the last 12 times you called you ordered an extra-large pizza with three cheeses, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and meatballs on a thick crust. 

CALLER: Super! That’s what I’ll have. 

 GOOGLE: May I suggest that this time you order a pizza with ricotta, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and olives on a whole wheat gluten-free thin crust? 

CALLER: What? I don’t want a vegetarian pizza! 

GOOGLE: Your cholesterol is not good, sir. 

CALLER: How the hell do you know that? 

GOOGLE: Well, we cross-referenced your home phone number with your medical records. We have the result of your blood tests for the last 7 years. 

 CALLER: Okay, but I do not want your rotten vegetarian pizza! I already take medication for my cholesterol. 

GOOGLE: Excuse me sir, but you have not taken your medication regularly. According to our database, you purchased only a box of 30 cholesterol tablets once at CVS Pharmacy, 4 months ago. 

CALLER: I bought more from another Pharmacy. 

GOOGLE: That doesn’t show on your credit card statement. 

CALLER: I paid in cash. 

GOOGLE: But you did not withdraw enough cash according to your bank statement. 

CALLER: I have other sources of cash. 

GOOGLE: That doesn’t show on your latest tax returns, unless you bought them using an undeclared income source, which is against the law! 

CALLER: WHAT THE H@#&! 

GOOGLE: I'm sorry sir, we use such information only with the sole intention of helping you. 

CALLER: Enough already! I'm sick to death of Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and all the others. I'm going to an island without the Internet, TV, phone service, and no one to watch me or spy on me. 

GOOGLE: I understand sir, but you need to renew your passport first. It expired 6 weeks ago. 

Five years ago today: Time To De-Lurk

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Scarf Up

As I've gotten older I've found it's important to keep my neck warm. If it's cold, I'm cold all over. 

Ironically, thanks to annoying hot flashes a turtleneck provides too much warmth, but I've found that wearing a scarf is helpful. Around the house I use a cotton infinity scarf that can wrap around my neck two or three times (depending on how cold I'm feeling). When I leave the house I have a silk scarf that I loop around my neck before I put my coat on. I bought a new coat this year, and the scarf's colors don't particularly match, but I don't particularly care.

One of the promotional swags I got for my birthday was $5 to spend at a big box shoe store. I stopped in there today to see what I could find. That amount of money would be a drop in the bucket on the price of a new pair of shoes, but in the clearance rack I found a 'strip' scarf made out of super soft lightweight jersey knit. Its original price was $20.00. The clearance price was 40 percent less than that, and by adding my swag it cost about what I would pay for an inexpensive lunch. Sold!

At the cash register the associate asked if I wanted my scarf in a bag. I declined, telling her I would just wear it out. She thoughtfully removed the price tag for me and stapled it to the receipt in case I needed to make a return. I thanked her, but I'm quite sure I will be keeping this scarf for a long time.

 Image by Piyapong Saydaung from Pixabay

Five years ago today: An Edible Tribute

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Twice Ten

It seems like Hubby Tony just got done celebrating him completing one tenth of the last 100 days until his retirement, then I turned around and another tenth was gone.

Today we went to the mall to pick up something he ordered,. When we got home I spent a couple of hours working on a computer project while he ran to the grocery to purchase some ingredients for tomorrow's dinner. We went to Mass, picked up a doodad at Best Buy (via their curbside option), then went out to dinner. In an actual restaurant! On Monday, restaurants in the county reopened for limited indoor dining for the first time since mid-November when the County Executive suspended it.

(There are lots of  safety protocols in place. Restaurants can't have more than 25 percent of the tables filled, must close by 10 pm, and have to get a name and contact information for each party for contract tracing purposes.)

We chose a place that has great bar food and lots of TVs showing sports. Everyone I saw waking around had a mask on, and people kept their distance. There were a lot of good choices on the menu, but I decided on a buffalo chicken wrap with onion rings. Tony chose fish and chips. 

We had great service. The server stopped by our table a couple of times to see how we liked our food and refill our drinks. When she brought out our bill she thanked us for coming in, and said she really appreciated our support. In honor of that and Tony's work milestone we made sure we left a 20 percent tip. 

Five years ago today: Is It Soup Yet?

Friday, January 8, 2021

Steaming

This morning after breakfast and morning chores I closed myself in my office for a Zoom meeting. When I came out, there was a beautiful bouquet of red and white flowers in the middle of the kitchen island. The card told me the vase came from Grandsons Jay, Dee, and Ell in California, and said "Happy Birthday! Love you Grandma!"  (My natal day isn't until Monday, but I had no objection to the celebration starting early 😀.)

I remember how exciting it was to get mail in my name when I was young, so I decided to send them an actual thank you note. It took a surprisingly long time to write out a couple of sentences expressing my gratitude using my best printed penmanship. I addressed the envelope, put a stamp on it, and walked it out to the mailbox.

After lunch I decided to take a walk. When I got home there was a large box on the ground next to the mailbox addressed to me. Inside the condo, I opened the mailing box and an insulated liner and found a box containing a dozen dipped strawberries. The card said the same thing as the one accompanying the flowers...which meant I had only thanked the senders for half of my present!

Fortunately the mail truck hadn't come yet. I ran outside and grabbed the envelope out of the mailbox. I knew I had more notes to write another one, but hated to waste a stamp. All of a sudden I remembered that a New Thing I had done for my original blog, steaming open an envelope, would be appropriate again today. 

It didn't take long to boil a pot of water, and just a couple of minutes of holding the flap over the steam released the glue so I could open the envelope. After writing out a new note I put it in the envelope and used a glue stick to reseal it. I took it back out to the mailbox, where it will be picked up tomorrow.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Rack Receptacles

Later this month it will be a year since we moved into our condo. Once the initial settling in was done last January I completed a couple of organizing projects, but when the nice weather came I abandoned my efforts. Then the fall was busy, and then the holidays came. (It's amazing how fast time can fly by.)

I have resolved to take advantage of the cold, nasty winter weather to complete more projects. First up was a pantry door rack system from The Container Store, which adds extra space to the smallish storage area. 

 
 
When I was doing project research I learned that there were two types of systems available-over the door and screw on. I chose the more permanent option because I knew I was going to put some heavier things in the baskets and I wanted it to be sturdy. 
 
The installation was very easy. I held the upright against the door and marked where the five screws would go. Next I drilled holes to insert anchors into the hollow core door, tapped the anchors into place, then screwed the upright in place. The baskets snapped easily into the upright, and can be repositioned up or down in 1-inch increments. At the store I guessed that four baskets would be enough, but if I decide I need another one there's room at the bottom.

Five years ago today: Over The Doorstep

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Yam Is Not Always A Yam

Did you know that sweet potatoes and yams are actually two different vegetables? I came across this video some time ago that described the differences and decided that I would try to find a true yam to see what it was like.

This week the Asian market had African yams on sale for 99¢ a pound, cheap enough that I could satisfy my curiosity. The one I purchased was about a pound (on the small size, as the tubers can be up to five feet long).

Once the yam was in the house I had to figure out how to cook it. Wikipedia said "The most common cooking methods in Western and Central Africa are by boiling, frying or roasting."  However, even when I searched for African yam recipes many of the hits were actually for sweet potatoes. However,  I eventually took elements of several different recipes for Yam Stew and came up with my own spin. My dish had chunks of yams, garbanzo beans, and chopped bok choy simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. I served it with brown rice and more hot sauce on the side.

 After they were cooked the yams looked like cubes of potatoes. However, if I had cooked potatoes for the same amount of time they would have been falling apart. The yam cubes were firmer and starchier. Overall, pretty good.

Five years ago today: Strike A Pose

Monday, January 4, 2021

Thank God Its Monday

That's not a phrase you hear often, is it? However, according to the people at the National Today website, the first Monday in January is National Thank God Its Monday Day. They say "A Monday can represent new opportunities, new beginnings, or simply a brand new chance."

That's how I felt this morning when I rolled out of bed. It was dark and cold, but I was excited to get the day started. It felt like the first real day of the new year and I was going to take advantage of it.

It has been a long time since things have been normal. I spent the first two weeks of November quarantining for a trip to visit family. We were gone for two weeks, then I spent the first half of December quarantining again. After I was free to move about, I felt the stores were too crowded with people shopping for Christmas and stayed home as much as possible. From December 25th through the end of the year my schedule was all out of sorts, and it was even hard to remember what day it was. This year, because New Year's Day was right before the weekend that end of the year feeling lasted a couple of extra days.

But today it was time to get back to normal. Before I left the house I packed myself a standard 'Kathy lunch' of finger foods to eat in between stops. I had one work commitment, and popped into stores along the way there and back home for errands or just for fun. The schools were back in session, which meant the stores weren't crowded and it felt safe to browse.

All in all, it was an uneventful, wonderful day.

Five years ago today: Christmas Cleanup

Friday, January 1, 2021

Just For Today

In my opinion, the day hasn't properly started until the coffee consumed and the newspaper read. I ease into reality by starting with the Everyday section (which contains the comics, advice columns, and puzzles), then go back and jump into the news.

This morning's Dear Abby advice column is the same one that shows up every January first, but it's a good one; a list of New Year’s resolutions adapted from Al-Anon by the original Dear Abby (Pauline Phillips) and continued today by her daughter Jeanne Phillips. It was just what I needed to read today.

JUST FOR TODAY: I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not set far-reaching goals or try to overcome all of my problems at once. I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime. 

JUST FOR TODAY: I will decide to be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. If my mind fills with clouds, I will chase them away and fill it with sunshine. 

JUST FOR TODAY: I will accept what is. I will face reality. I will correct those things that I can correct and accept those I cannot. 

JUST FOR TODAY: I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration. I will not be a mental loafer. 

JUST FOR TODAY: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I’ll not speak ill of others. I will improve my appearance, speak softly, and not interrupt when someone else is talking. Just for today, I will refrain from improving anybody but myself. 

JUST FOR TODAY: I will do something positive to improve my health. If I’m a smoker, I’ll quit. And I will get off the couch and take a brisk walk, even if it’s only around the block. 

JUST FOR TODAY: I will gather the courage to do what is right and take responsibility for my own actions. 

Five years ago today: Here's To The New Year