Tuesday, March 30, 2021

So Close He Can Almost Taste It

Tomorrow morning Hubby Tony will go into his office one last time. He will bring the remainder of his files for the coworkers who are taking over his projects, meet with his boss to turn in his computer and badge, and walk out of the office a retiree. 

Tony's been counting down his last 100 days and having a mini celebration when he reaches the end of each row of ten. Although the big whoop-de-do will be tomorrow, in honor of him finishing the last of the chart I gave him a bag of popcorn...which proudly states it is "100% whole grain."

 Five years ago today: Our Bags Were Packed...

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Free labor

An elderly Italian man living alone in New Jersey wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, since the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament: 

Dear Vincent, I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over.. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days. Love, Papa 

A few days later he received a letter from his son. 

Dear Pop, Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried. Love, Vinnie 

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son. 

Dear Pop, Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances. Love you, Vinnie


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Reaction Response

Yesterday afternoon I volunteered at my church's Fish Fry. This year is carry out only, and I was taking drive-through orders in the parking lot. The organizers set up a nice system using a set of tablet computers connected to one in the food assembly room to relay orders. People don't even have to get out of their car.

After taking the order I would either collect the money and take it to the cashier (returning change if necessary) or find one of the people who had a mobile card reader to run the charge card. Either way, there was a moderate amount of walking involved. Even though I've done this job several times during Lent, for some reason I was beat at the end of this shift. I was also really hungry and thirsty.

Every other week Hubby Tony had worked directing traffic at the other end of the parking lot, but he still wasn't 100 percent after his oral surgery and stayed home. He told me he would have some dinner waiting when I got home, which sounded like a great division of labor to me.

Traffic wasn't too bad on the way home, but all I could think about was my growling stomach and my dry gullet. In the condo I chugged down a glass of water, changed my clothes, and joined Tony on the deck for carryout Chinese...mixed vegetables in white sauce with brown rice, hot and sour soup, and (of course) fortune cookies.

I was so hungry I think I set a record for the amount of time it took me to inhale me food. I had a glass of water with dinner, and after it was gone I came inside and chugged another. I was still hungry so I ate an orange.

Twenty nine minutes after the meal was cleaned up I was fine. At the thirtieth minute I developed a horrible headache. There was pressure all over my face, and the entire top of my head was throbbing. I've heard of people having reactions to monosodium glutamate, but I've never had an issue before. An internet search indicated that might be what was happening. 

I spent the rest of the night drinking herbal tea to try to flush out my system. Two hours after the headache started left as quickly as it arrived, although I still felt limp like a wet rag. It was all I could do to drag myself to the bedroom and fall into bed.

Five years ago today: Easter Words Of Wisdom

Thursday, March 25, 2021

It Will Be Here Before We Know It

In the Roman Catholic church this is the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the day Mary said 'yes' to being the mother of Jesus. That means that Christmas is nine months from today. 

 Five years ago today: Knuckle Down

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Confusion Leads To Custard

This afternoon Hubby Tony had an oral surgery appointment. Back when he scheduled it Tony thought he was going to need a ride home, and I blocked out the time to be his chauffeur. A couple of days ago he learned the surgeon would be using Novocaine and he would be able to drive himself. I briefly thought about staying home, but when I couldn't find anything compelling that needed to be done I decided to go along for moral support.

The procedure was scheduled to take one hour. My plan was to drop Tony off, then get my steps. After a rainy morning my phone app said there was a break in the precipitation, but I brought my umbrella just in case. Before I left I Googled the office address to find out what there was to do around the immediate area.  Other than a grocery store, a couple of chain stores, and a boatload of fast food places there wasn't much, but the area has a lot of interesting architecture which is always interesting to look at.

The surgeon's office was in a small shopping center at the intersection of two major streets in South St. Louis, about 20 minutes away from our place. I went up to the surgeon's office on the second floor of a professional building with Tony, wished him good luck, then spent some time browsing through the center's stores on my way out to the street.

I had a destination in mind for my walk, but I'm not extremely familiar with the area and turned left when I should have gone straight. When I realized my mistake I wasn't too upset, because I wasn't too far from the iconic Ted Drewes frozen custard. Of course I would have to stop!

On nights and weekends Ted Drewes is extremely busy. Today there were very short lines at each of the three open stations, and there were partitions between them to help with social distancing. I passed on a signature concrete, which is a serving of frozen custard so thick that it doesn't fall out when the cup is turned upside-down. Instead, I ordered a scoop in a cone, which would be easier to eat while I walked.

My trip was a little less than a mile each way, which hopefully used up quite a few of the calories I consumed.

Not the greatest perspective...the cone was not as big as it looks!

Five years ago: Cake Pan Purging

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Nice To Meet You

 Hubby Tony and I were out shopping this morning when we passed a woman going the other way. Tony looked surprised, stopped, and greeted the woman by name. It turns out it was his boss, who I have never met. 

Tony has talked often about his co-workers, including his supervisor, and I've learned quite a few details about her. I had no no idea what she looked like. Back before COVID forced everyone to work from home Tony would attend an occasional after-work happy hour. but there were no organized activities for spouses.

Of course I couldn't shake the woman's hand, but we warmly nodded at each other. She told us what she was getting from the store, and I asked about a house project Tony had told me she was doing. Then we parted ways.

It's nice to know, though, that for the next ten days, whenever Tony mentions his boss I will be able to put a face to the name.

Five years ago today: That's A Winner

Saturday, March 20, 2021

90 Percent Is Almost There

Today Hubby Tony crosses off the 90th of his last 100 days until retirement. Since the day fell on a weekend, where he has extra time, I made him a chart so he could write down all his ideas for filling up his free time.

Five years ago today: It's The First Day Of Spring. Really!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Step Up

Three weeks ago I went to the gym for the first time in more than a year. Since then I've thought about going back, but life has been busy. Today there was nothing on my calendar, and when I went to bed last night I made sure I put exercise clothes where I would see them when I woke up.

After breakfast I googled the two closest branches of the gym to find out how long it would take to get to each. I couldn't decide which direction to head in, so I decided to check out the group class options at each. I wasn't planning on acting on the information, but when I saw that an instructor I liked was leading a class I liked at a time that worked for me my decision was made. 

At the gym, I walked in the entrance-only door that had a large sign stating that face coverings were required at all times, scanned my card, and picked up a ticket that allowed me to attend the class.The group class room had large pieces of tape on the floor to indicate where the equipment for each person should go.There were several people already in the room already, all masked and socially distanced. I took a spot along one of the walls so I would have fewer people around me, but by the time the class started the room was filled almost to capacity and there was still plenty of distance between me and the people around me.

The class was Step, which involved stepping up, around, and down from a raised platform in different patterns. The step itself is four inches tall, but there is an option to add additional risers (each an additional four inches). I started off with one set of risers, but that was too much; halfway through the class I took them off. The class started five minutes late and ended five minutes early so people could disinfect their equipment. The instructor modified the moves so that we were always right next to our own step. 

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the class, I had underestimated how much exercise it provided. I kept looking over at the clock and counting down the minutes until the cool-down portion would start. At the end I was sweaty and winded. My mask was soaked from my heavy breathing, but I happy I made the time to take care of myself.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Special Simmered Supper

I know that people in Ireland do not eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. But just like I can't imagine not wearing green on March 17th, I can't imagine the day without the American interpretation of a traditional boiled dinner. I love the salty cured taste of the corned beef and the way the cooking broth flavors the vegetables.

My cooking process for the meal takes two days. The easiest type of corned beef to find in the store is brisket, which has a thick layer of fat. Yesterday I cooked the meat in a large pot of water, removed it from the broth, then chilled the broth to make it easy to remove the hardened fat. Today I sliced the meat and prepared the rest of the meal (in our case cabbage, potatoes, and carrots). 

Of course a holiday meal isn't complete without dessert. Karen would take the time to whip up a great meal-ender, but there's only two of us in the house and I don't have enough will power to avoid the sweets that would be left over. When I was out running errands today I stopped in a nearby bakery to buy some shamrock-shaped sugar cookies. The display cases were a riot of green cookies, donuts, breads, and rolls. A cute little snake bread asked to come home with me, and I couldn't refuse.

Five years ago today: An Irish Toast

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

At Long Last

Last week I started on four different multi-step assignments. Each involved calling a specific person at a company to get answers to some questions. Then, based on their answers, making an appointment for an in-person visit.

Three of the assignments went swimmingly. At the fourth, the woman I needed to reach seemed to be using her voice mail to screen calls. Each time I called I spoke to the front desk concierge, who transferred me.  The phone would ring four times, and I would get the woman's message to 'leave your number and I will call you back'. I didn't want to do that, because I needed to have some information in front of me when I talked to her...and I was sure her return call would come at that one time I couldn't get to the information easily.

Finally I got tired of the waiting game and left a message. When the phone rang and the caller ID showed me it was the company I answered the phone, only to find out that my contact had punted the call off to someone else.

I requested a phone call from the correct person, ended the call, and went on about my day. 

Of course the call from the correct person came at an inconvenient time and I couldn't answer the phone. Finally, days after I started the assignment, I called and reached my designated person.

(The rest of the assignment was a piece of cake.)

Five years ago today: The Wonders Of Wi-Fi

Sunday, March 14, 2021

St. Louis Day

I bet you've heard that March 14th has been designated as Pi (π) Day since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. But unless you live in my area, you probably wouldn't know that the area code for much of this metropolitan area is 314, meaning that the day could also be known as St. Louis Day!


Several local stores and restaurants were celebrating the event with sales on pies and pizzas, but Hubby Tony put together a delicious homemade dinner. Using the day as an inspiration, he made a crustless asparagus quiche (the basic dish is defined by Merriam-Webster as an unsweetened custard pie usually having a savory filling) and creamy tomato soup.

Five years ago today: Sun Up, Sun Down

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Love That Popcorn!

I was talking to someone today who worked at a center for seniors, programming daily activities for them. She told me that today was Popcorn Lovers Day, and the seniors at her center were going to celebrate by having a popcorn taste test and ranking event. I came home and told Hubby Tony about my conversation. He said it would be a great idea if we observed the day too. It didn't take me long to agree. (We take turns coming up with the diet-ruining ideas.)

I wasn't sure where we could go for good popcorn, but Google reminded me that there was a store called the Kirkwood Pop Company just a couple of miles from the house. Their website menu listed 14 different flavors, pretty much evenly split between savory and sweet. 

After Tony put away his work things at the end of the day we drove to downtown Kirkwood.  A light, annoying drizzle kept us from doing more than walking quickly into the store, and back to the car when we were done. The store had all the flavors available, but quite a few of the smallest-size bag slots were empty. It was hard to decide, but eventually we decided on one sweet and one savory flavor.

Guess what we had for dessert tonight?

Five years ago today: One And Done

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A Snapshot Of A Day

Today Hubby Tony has crossed off 80 out of 100 days on his Countdown to Retirement calendar. In honor of the day I pulled out the photos from our 1980 wedding. We spent time going through them and reminiscing.

The photos were at the bottom of a box that was at the bottom of a pile in the spare bedroom closet. After I found the correct box I had to dig out both the large official album and the three snapshot albums that held the set of proofs. After dinner was cleaned up Tony and I moved to the couch. Jackson the Cat was curled up in the corner and not happy about giving up his spot. We offered him the opportunity to look with us but he declined.

Tony opened the official album and we entered Memory Land. We got married in the morning with a standard Catholic mass. It was a very hot day, and everyone had to work hard to keep from getting sweaty. My dress had a sweetheart neckline, lace sleeves, and a long train (which was bustled for the reception). The two-tiered veil reached down to my hips. All the bridesmaids wore the same dress, but the Maid of Honor's was a different color. The groomsmen wore white tuxedos with vests, and Tony's had tails. We were chauffeured around in the back seat of the Best Man's car. 

After the ceremony there was a reception line in the church vestibule, then the wedding party went back into the church for photos-the only location we used. I remember how long it took to get all the permutations of family, bridesmaids, and groomsman. When the photos were finally wrapped up we went back to my mom's house and rested.

Our reception was that night in a Knights of Columbus hall. The room was set up cafeteria-style with rows of long tables covered with white plastic and arranged in front of the dance floor. There was a table against one wall for gifts, and others in the back of the room for the buffet line. The live band we hired was quite good.

The dinner menu was 1980's St. Louis wedding standard. Sandwiches with a variety of breads, meats, and cheeses. An assortment of salads. A relish tray. Crudites with dip. A chafing dish of mostaccioli. Fresh pineapple chunks speared with toothpicks and arranged back in the shell. And of course cake-the main tiers on a tall stand, with six smaller ones arranged around it. All were covered in white icing and accented with the same colors as the bridesmaid's dresses.

It was a lot of fun going through the albums and reminiscing. Everyone looked so young! We talked about the people we hadn't seen in years.  When we had gone through all the photos Tony helped me put everything back for safekeeping.

Five years ago today: Mapquest Maximized

Sunday, March 7, 2021

(Barely) Back In The Saddle Again

The radio weather dude said it would be getting up to 66 degrees today. I suggested to Hubby Tony that we pack a picnic lunch and take our bikes out for the first ride of the year. He agreed.

After we finished our morning activities I put together meals for both of us (in individual Ziploc bags so we could each carry our own), threw on a t-shirt and a pair of exercise capris, and found a backpack. Tony was nice enough to check my tires for air. On the way out the door I grabbed a fleece and the all-important face mask.

The last time I rode was shortly before Halloween, and today my body told me in no uncertain terms it wasn't used to that type of exertion. We stayed away from the most direct route because of its large hill and left through the back of the neighborhood. I was embarrassed when I could barely make it up an incline that was no big deal last year, and I might have been able to walk up another one faster than my pedals took me, but I managed to stay in the seat.

Tony and I rode to a small park about three miles from the house. There were a lot of people out enjoying the nice weather, but it was easy to find a bench and eat. We took a scenic route home, going several blocks out of the way before doubling back to a grocery store, where Tony purchased some ingredients for tonight's dinner. The last part of the ride was backtracking our original route, and it was wonderful to be able to coast down the hills that gave me so much trouble earlier in the day.

Our total ride was a little over eight miles. By the time I got home I was already feeling the muscles that will be sore tomorrow. I don't know when my schedule and the weather will cooperate for another bike ride, but I'm already looking forward to it.

Fie years ago today: Granola

Saturday, March 6, 2021

My Thoughts Exactly

 Some time ago I found ta lovely poem, called "Dust If You Must" by Rose Milligan. It describes my attitude towards housework perfectly. (I pretty much would rather do anything than dust. Or vacuum. Or straighten.)

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better 
To paint a picture, or write a letter, 
Bake a cake, or plant a seed; 
Ponder the difference between want and need? 
Dust if you must, but there's not much time, 
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb; 
Music to hear, and books to read; 
Friends to cherish, and life to lead. 
Dust if you must, but the world's out there 
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair; 
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain, 
This day will not come around again. 
Dust if you must, but bear in mind, 
Old age will come and it's not kind. 
And when you go (and go you must) 
You, yourself, will make more dust.
I tried to find out more information about Rose but came up empty-handed. If you happen to know anything, please share.

Five years ago today: I Don't Know How Superman Did It!

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Cusp Of Spring

It's almost three weeks until the Spring Equinox arrives, but in my area it's starting to feel like winter is on the run. Some examples: 

  • On Saturday Hubby Tony and I took the tarp off the bistro table and chairs on the deck. 
  • When Tony and I visited the Botanical Garden on Sunday the witch hazel and snowdrops were blooming. 
  • Sunrise is about the time my alarm goes off in the morning, and if it's going to be a clear day I wake up to a room that's only semi-dark. 
  • Today I heard the condo maintenance man weed wacking in front of our building. 
  1. This afternoon after Tony finished up work and we got ready for our almost-everyday walk my phone app said it was 57°F (a couple of degrees above the average temperature for the day). I wore my lightweight winter coat, but after 10 minutes it was unzipped, and after 20 minutes I had taken it off and tied it around my waist. During the walk I saw a couple of yards with visible fertilizer pellets. 
  • When we got home I suggested we take our dinner outside and eat it on the deck. We did. The late day sun was weak, and didn't provide a lot of warmth, but the first al fresco meal of the year is always exciting. We stayed out just long enough to finish our entree, then headed back inside for conversation and dessert. 

Five years ago today: Launching