Sunday, February 28, 2021


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


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!

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.


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


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.