Friday, April 30, 2021

Virtual No More

This weekend I will be in Jefferson City, attending a statewide business meeting of a group I belong to. As I was driving west on interstate 70 on a beautiful sunny spring afternoon it occurred to me I would be driving right by the Kan-Do Campground, home of Kathy of Kathy's Kampground Kapers.

I can't remember when I found Kathy's blog, but I really enjoy reading about her adventures as a campground owner. When Son Brian lived in Columbia Missouri and we visited him on a regular basis I often thought about stopping by to meet Kathy, but we were always in a hurry to get to his house or get home. Today I had plenty of time, I was by myself, and I could set my own schedule. No one would be inconvenienced if I detoured off the highway to meet her.

Borrowed from the kampground website-I forgot to take a photo.

The kampground was easy to find. I followed the signage to the lot, parked in front of the office, then walked in and asked the woman inside if she was Kathy. She was. I introduced myself. 

We had a nice chat about campers, road trips, and dogs. At the end of the conversation I met HeWho (Kathy's husband, and the focus of many of her stories). All in all, it was a wonderful visit.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

April Showers Bring Puddles

Early this morning a front came through, bringing rain with it. It was lightly drizzling when I left the house this morning. In the car, I heard the radio meteorologist say the pace of the rain was going to pick up. Based on his forecast I put my umbrella in my purse and carried it into my first stop. When I came out an hour later it was raining cats and dogs. I opened my umbrella and hustled across the parking lot but I was still pretty wet by the time I got into my car, and my tennis shoes were soaked from stepping in a puddle.

At home I put both my umbrella and shoes by the door to dry, and went about my day. Hours later I was trying to figure out how I was going to get my steps in and realized the rain had stopped. A quick check of the weather app on my phone told me it wouldn't start again for a couple of hours. That would be more than enough time for a walk.

My shoes were still wet, but it was warm enough I could wear sandals. Hubby Tony decided to walk with me. We rambled around the neighborhood streets and had a nice talk along the way. On this route there are a couple of places where the sidewalk is crooked and the low areas have puddles after any type of precipitation. Today was no exception. I tried to skirt around the edge of the first puddle. I misjudged, and the toes on my left foot ended up getting wet. The water was warm, and it felt good!

From that point on I actively searched out puddles to walk through. By the time I got home there were pieces of grass, tree catkins, and a little mud stuck to my toes and sandals. Nothing that a little soap (and a little more water) couldn't take care of.

Five years ago today: Oops!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Another Day, Another Adventure

The other day I noticed that our supply of balsamic vinegar was getting low. Two of the three 375 milliliter bottles were down to dregs, and the third wasn't far behind.  It was time to go on a road trip to get more. A couple of years ago Hubby Tony and I stumbled onto a store called Olive Oil Marketplace, and tasted their flavored balsamic vinegar. It was the best we've ever had, and we became complete vinegar snobs. 

The store has two Illinois locations. One is in Alton (at the northern end of the metropolitan area) and the other is in Belleville (almost directly across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis). Both are approximately the same distance from us, but in my opinion Alton has more places to explore. That's where we headed today.

The store didn't open until 11 am, and Tony asked if we could leave early to stop at a museum called The National Great Rivers Museum, run by the Army Corps of Engineers. I agreed.

The building is right next to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam on the Mississippi River. When we pulled into the parking lot there were no other cars. Inside, we found out that a tour was going to start in five minutes. The tour ended up being just the two of us and a knowledgeable docent. She highlighted some of the museum displays, then we walked outside. Although we were unable to take the elevator up to the top of the lock (it's been discontinued due to COVID restrictions), we got to see group of barges go through the lock. It was fascinating to see the dozen barges tied together and being guided by the channel by the tugboat at the rear.

At the vinegar store we sampled seven or eight varieties, and ended up buying bottles of garlic cilantro, black walnut and white balsamic peach. Based on past experience those should last us about a year, although we left the store with a lot of new ideas for using our purchase.

It was time to get some steps in. We've walked through the small downtown Alton area enough to know we wanted to see something else this time. From the store we went west, turned right at the end of the road, then turned left at the first residential street. We ended up in an area on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River called the Christian Hill Historic District, filled with large Victorian houses.  

Tony and I sauntered around for about a half hour, then decided to head back to the car. Just before we got there I saw a statue of the musician Miles Davis, who I fond out was born in Alton in 1926, (but moved with his family to East St. Louis the next year.)

Young Man with a Horn

Five years ago today: Radiant And Red-Faced

Sunday, April 25, 2021

A Belated Earth Day Bargain

The large closet just outside the hall bathroom is filled with a collection of linens, extra toiletries, bathroom supplies, first aid items, and medicines. When we moved in I quickly tried to arrange things in a logical order, then moved on to the next project. The arrangement wasn't that great to start with, and after more than a year things were a mess.

I decided to tackle organizing the two shelves that held the non-linen items, thinking that shoebox-sized plastic containers would be good for holding different categories of items. I looked in the storage unit for something the correct size and came up empty handed. I'm trying to limit the amount of plastic I bring into the house, so I started looking for containers at thrift stores. That way I would be recycling instead of buying new.

For a couple of weeks I popped into stores when I had time, but always walked out empty handed. Yesterday I drove by a place that's going out of business. There was a sign by the door that indicated they were only going to be open one more week and everything was 75% off. I figured there wouldn't be much left.

The clothing racks were pretty empty, but in the back of the store I struck pay dirt. There was an entire shelf of plastic storage containers, and four of them were the size and shape I was looking for. None matched exactly, but that was alright by me. The cashier rang up my purchases, then applied the discount code. My total was a whopping 55 cents...a win for both the environment and my budget.

 Five years ago today: Undoing

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Jefferson Barracks

Yesterday was cloudy and cold. Tomorrow and Saturday there's a good chance of rain. Today was forecast to be chilly but sunny, and Hubby Tony and I decided to spend it outside. Tony was in charge of finding a trail. He threw out a couple of ideas, and we settled on Jefferson Barracks Park. Last summer we had ridden bikes in the park, but we ran out of time to explore the museums and said we'd go back.Today would be the day.

Wikipedia says: 

The Jefferson Barracks Military Post was an important and active U.S. Army installation from 1826 through 1946. It is the oldest operating U.S. military installation west of the Mississippi River, and it is now used as a base for the Army and Air National Guard. 

We entered the park through the north entrance, parked in the Visitor's Center parking lot, and started walking. The park has a paved trail, which is divided into a north and a south portion. Together they're a little over 2.5 miles. (A third trail is a Greenway that runs along the Mississippi River.)  There were very few people, and at points it looked like we were far from civilization.

At the south end of the park we walked past the historical buildings and stopped to read the historical markers. The active National Guard section was behind a tall fence. When I walked over that way to look at a World War Sherman tank I was pretty sure the people in the guard booth were checking me out. 

At this point Tony and I decided we were hungry. We left the park and walked to a restaurant five minutes away, where we enjoyed great bar food. The owner's father came by to ask us how our food was. When he learned that it was our first time there he asked if he could sit with us for a few minutes. He told us all about the history of the building.

After lunch we returned to the park, where we found out that all of the museums are still closed due to COVID. That was probably just as well, because we agreed we were getting tired...and we still had to get back to the other end of the park.

So we're now 0 for 2 in seeing the inside of the buildings at Jefferson Barracks. There's also a National Cemetery section, which will be a whole other day's adventure.  

Five years ago today: Don't Criticize The Competition!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A Happy Coincidence

 Four weeks ago Hubby Tony had some oral surgery done, and today he went back for a follow up appointment. The office is on the second floor of a strip mall building, right above a branch of the gym we belong to. Last night Tony realized he could use the Nautilus exercise machines there and asked if I wanted to go with him. Having nothing else pressing to do I said yes.

However, this morning time got away from me. When I realized I would really have to hustle to leave the house to fit Tony's schedule I almost backed out, but one look out the window at the sleety mixture that was falling from the sky was enough to convince me that using a treadmill in a warm gym would be way better than taking a walk outside. I sped through the last of the paperwork I was doing, changed my clothes, and was ready when Tony got his car keys.

In the mall parking lot Tony and I plotted out our time but when I checked in at the front desk they had a flyer listing the group classes. I noticed there was a yoga class starting in less than five minutes and my plans changed. As a bonus, I was familiar with the instructor from a different branch of the gym six years ago, and knew that I would get a great stretch.

Of course I hadn't brought my yoga mat, but one of the group exercise mats worked well enough. The large room only had a handful of people in it, and I was able to put my mat in a place that was far away from everyone and I could still see the instructor. When the class started I realized that some of the instructor's pose combinations hadn't changed and I felt right at home.

Even back before the pandemic shut everything down my yoga classes had decreased, and today it showed. My flexibility wasn't near what it used to be, and my balance was horrible. This class turned out to be a good fit. It was gentle, with a lot of stretches, and the sun salutations weren't too vigorous. Due to enhanced room cleaning between group classes they've reduced the length from an hour to 45 minutes. Before I knew it the instructor was calling for Shavasana, meaning the time was almost over.

Five years ago today: Spring Clean Your Life

Monday, April 19, 2021

It's A Wrap

Hubby Tony had a dinner meeting, so I decided it would be a nice night to treat myself to a meal out.

Mid-afternoon, after I fed Jackson the cat and enjoyed my coffee and crossword puzzle time I left the house to run several errands. After popping into three stores I ended up at a large ethnic grocery, where the goal was to replenish my supply of herbal tea. (Based on my experience, ethnic markets tend to have better selections and prices than the conventional groceries.)

Although it was only 4 pm, as I walked into the grocery store I realized I was hungry. That's a bad idea in a place that has aisles dedicated to all different parts of the world, but I decided to grin and bear it. The tea selection is right across from the produce section, to the right after you enter the store. Sure enough, I found a Polish brand that sounded good and bought two boxes - multifruit and  rose hip.

Picking out the tea only took five minutes, but by now my stomach was starting to growl. My plan to go out to dinner morphed into buying something at the store and cooking it when I got home. I walked up one frozen food aisle and down the other. In the Indian section I saw some interesting-looking wraps. I compared the different varieties and settled on this one

The packaging described the contents as a 'Mildly spiced lentil patty along with mint chutney wrapped in wholesome flat bread'. Its size and shape led me to believe it would be similar to a frozen burrito. At $2.49 the price was right and I tossed it into my bag. With the main dish decided, I walked back to the produce section and found a small head of leaf lettuce to make a salad. All of a sudden had the start of a meal.

It was still too early for dinner when I got home. I took chickpeas out of the freezer, thawed them in the microwave, and made a batch of hummus. Most of it went into the refrigerator, but I spooned some into a bowl and scarfed it down to take the edge off my hunger. I finished some paperwork, then washed and chopped the lettuce, dressed it, and nuked the kebab.  The whole production took less than five minutes.

My Indian burrito prediction was pretty on the money, but the lentil patty had a nice spice to it. Between my before-meal snack, the wrap, the salad, and a large handful of grapes for dessert I was full enough.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Go Away!

The forecast for tomorrow is pretty spring-like. But jump ahead until Tuesday, when it's back to a winter chill. Some portions of the metropolitan area even have a freeze watch for late Tuesday through Wednesday morning.

I don't car how cold it gets....even if I have to wear multiple layers when I leave the house I refuse to get out my heavy coat again!

Five years ago: In Fashion? Me?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Sitting Tight

It's been 15 months since Hubby Tony and I moved into our condo. (Time sure does fly.) 

When we downsized from our large house we got rid of a lot of furniture, but our comfortable, three-cushion La-Z-Boy couch with a recliner on each end came with us. We've had the couch for almost 20 years. It's structurally sound, but has a few cosmetic issues. The foam in the cushions is breaking down a little, and the padded footrests have dips in the middle. In addition, the couch is really too big for our new place. 

Our plan was to get situated, figure out what we wanted, and buy new seating. Just about the time we had the figuring out part done, Covid shut things shut down. Even after the stores opened back up we made do, figuring that a new couch was a want and not a need. 

Now that Tony has a lot of time on his hands we decided weekdays would be a good time to go furniture shopping, because there would be less foot traffic. A couple of weeks ago we visited some stores and sat on furniture. We came home, measured the room, and checked a couple of websites. After discussion we figured out the room would look nice with a pair of love seats arranged in an L-shape. Rather than relying on an ottoman for our feet we decided to stick with something that reclined.  

Today we went back to a store with a list of three specific love seats that we wanted to take a last look at. We sat on all of them, figured out which one we liked the best, and placed an order. That's the good news. The bad news is that Covid shutdowns in the factory caused a backlog of orders, and  it will take approximately 20 weeks for our new furniture to be delivered. We'll be using the old couch for quite some time.

Five years ago: Pop Goes The Egg

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Take Me Out To The (Daytime) Ball Game

When Hubby Tony made his list of post-retirement activities, going to a weekday afternoon baseball game was near the top. He researched the options, bought tickets, and today just before the announcer read the starting lineups for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals we were settling into our seats.

Our view

Not surprisingly, there were multiple social distancing procedures in place. First, the stadium was at 32 percent capacity. Masks were required. Tickets were sold in pods so there was no sitting next to strangers. (We were on the aisle and there were six empty seats between us and the next pod.)  Every other row was roped off. Tickets were electronic, and all concessions were cashless. The larger food stands had only touchscreen ordering.

I know a lot of thought went into the Covid plans, but the entrance procedures still needed some tweaking. Tony purchased our tickets on the secondary market. They were missing the designated entrance gate information, and we talked to at least one other person who had the same problem. Instead of bringing my big purse I put my essentials in a wallet on a string, which fit the posted size standards. I still had to go through an Inspection Lane, which an usher didn't point out until we had stood in a different lane for 15 minutes.

But the minor annoyances went away when we entered the stadium and walked up the ramp to the upper deck. Although the low-60 degree weather was a little cooler than I would have liked (our seats remained in shade for the entire game) I solved the problem by putting on a promotional puffy vest they handed out at the gate. Eventually we walked down a couple of levels and over to the sunny side, which made a big difference.

Yadier Molina, the Cardinals beloved catcher, celebrated a milestone today when he became the first Major League Baseball player to catch 2,000 games with one team.

What an achievement!
 That announcement was the most exciting part of the day. Last night the Cards had won big time with a score of 14-3. They obviously used up all their offense, because today they lost 6-0. It was still a lot of fun, thought, and probably not the last time we attend a getaway game.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Taking Care Of Business...And More

I had three tasks that needed to get done today. Because he could, Hubby Tony decided to tag along, and patiently waited in the car while I completed each task. The last one was only a couple of miles from the Botanical Garden, so after all the 'have-tos' were finished we headed in that direction. 

(Last Christmas Tony gave me a Garden membership for Christmas. Since then we've made several visits. After the last one, we agreed that as the weather gets nicer weekdays would probably be better than weekends if we wanted to avoid crowds.)

When I pulled into the Garden parking lot it looked like there were a lot of cars, but I found a spot halfway down the first row. Due to capacity limitations you have to have a ticket to enter, but they're free for members. After getting our tickets scanned, and a quick trip to the rest rooms, we walked out the doors and into the gardens. 

The beds had a lot more color than the last time we were there. There were huge swaths of tulips and daffodils, and they were also scattered throughout other areas (like the rose gardens) that wouldn't have any color on their own. 

Tony and I meandered through the Hosta, German, and English Woodland gardens before we reached the Japanese garden. The cherry blossoms were past their peak, but there were still a few trees in bloom. Between them and the azaleas it was lovely.

In the Japanese garden we stopped to admire the koi in the pond, then left and moved to the formal Boxwood garden. About this time we decided we were getting tired and quickly scooted through the Rose garden, made our way back to the visitor center, and exited to the parking lot.

Five years ago today: Out With The Bad

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Time To Sleep

If you do an internet search for sleep calculator there are millions of results. Tonight I played around with one of them-a website called Sleepytime, which claims to help you wake up refreshed by finding the best time to go to sleep.  

The site has three calculation options. You can put in what time you need to wake up, what time you plan on going to sleep, or what time you should wake up if you go to bed NOW.
I decided to try out the first option. I have to leave the house at 9:00 tomorrow morning. Because I like to move slowly, my alarm will be set for 6:30 am. I put that information into the drop-down boxes, hit calculate, and learned that I should try to fall asleep at 9:30 pm, 11:00 pm, 12:30 am, or 2:00am. I'm not sure why there were so many options. Maybe because some people need more sleep than others?

As an interesting side note, I learned that the average human takes fourteen minutes to fall asleep. I also found out that the site works by counting backwards in 90-minute sleep cycles. I know from past experience that if you wake up in between cycles you feel refreshed, and groggy if you wake up in the middle of a cycle.

Five years ago today: Zen Masters (In honor of National Pet Day)

Thursday, April 8, 2021


A couple of weeks ago I decided I was tired of some of our everyday cloth napkins. I tossed them in the Goodwill pile and bought three new pairs at a local thrift store. 

It's been great to see fresh colors and patterns on the table at dinnertime. However, one of the sets has an interesting problem. They're made out of the same material, and appear to be cut on the grain. So why does one of them come out of the dryer relatively wrinkle-free and the other one wrinkles badly around the edges?

(Because it's just Hubby Tony and me it's not worth pulling out the iron to correct the problem. I just smooth out the wrinkles to the best of my ability, fold both napkins, and put them in the drawer.)

 Five years ago today: Day Lily Determination

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Getting Things Done At 10 Miles Per Hour

Right now the temperature is more like mid-May than early April. We opened all the windows, and last night at bedtime I turned on the ceiling fan for the first time since last summer. When I woke up this morning it was already in the mid-60s, and on the way to a high temperature of 80 degrees.

I had three errands to run and decided to combine getting them done with getting some exercise by riding my bike. After rolling out of bed I pulled on shorts and a tee shirt instead of showering. After breakfast and computer paperwork I gathered my supplies and threw on my backpack. On the way out the door I said goodbye to Hubby Tony, who had his own list of To-Dos for the morning.

First up was voting. All my ballots last year were submitted by mail, and I was excited to do it in person. Last year they implemented a system that lets you visit any polling place in the County. A couple of weeks ago I received a sample ballot in the mail. On the back it had a list of the four closest polling places to my house. The one I chose was three miles away, at the far end of the range, but convenient to my other errands.

I caught the tail end of rush hour, and traffic was a little heavy. It took me a half hour to ride to the polling place in an elementary school. When I pulled into the parking lot it was loaded with cars and buses dropping off students. The voting line was filled with parents, but moved quickly. The ballot had a school bond issue, school board elections, and some sewer district measures. I had figured out my options ahead of time, quickly filled out my selections, and I was out in 15 minutes.

After voting I rode to the grocery store to pick up a couple of ingredients for dinner. The cashier asked if I wanted paper or plastic for my items; I said 'neither'. She placed my things at the end of the counter, where I picked them up and stuffed them into my backpack.All except for the banana that I ate outside before I put my bike helmet back on and left.

My last stop involved a little backtracking to get to a branch of my bank. This location has both a walk-up and a drive through ATM. There were no cars waiting to conduct business, so no one to complain when I rode my bike through the line. I completed my deposit quickly and was on my way again. The trip home was uneventful, and I pulled into the garage about 90 minutes after I left.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Today Is When It Started Getting Real

Hubby Tony ended his working career on Wednesday. Thursday we got our first Covid vaccination. Friday our activities took us in different directions, although we did come back together for dinner. The weekend was filled with normal weekend activities, plus rituals for the Pascal Triduum (the three days leading up to Easter-Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Saturday). Son Donald joined us for Easter dinner.

Today was the first real morning of Tony's free agency. He was gone when I rolled out of bed, and I knew he had gone to mass and coffee afterwards with his friends. When he got home there was no work day setup to do. Jackson the cat is a creature of habit, and seemed to be annoyed with the change. Tony placated him by sitting at his desk for a few minutes and dangling a length of ribbon they play with.

The day passed in a flash. Tony tagged along for my trip to the gym. I joined him on his trip to Walgreens. We tried unsuccessfully to figure out a technology issue, then decided we needed to talk to an Apple technician. 

Mid-afternoon Tony went to the dentist to get his teeth cleaned, something he couldn't have done if he had to put in a full day at work. When he got home he helped me put dinner together, then I helped him clean up. He did some things on his computer, then went back into the office for his standing Monday night Zoom meeting.

And the good news for Tony is that there are endless tomorrows to do more of what he wants to do.

Five years ago today: A Wright Adventure

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Jerusalem Tomorrow

I love Emmylou Harris's version of this David Olney song about a charlatan who 'heals' the sick and makes a 'mute' speak. When he encounters Jesus, he decides to go along as long as his way is paid. They're going to Jerusalem the next day.


 Five years ago today: Buy Me Some Peanuts And Cracker Jacks

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Can You Call It Medical Tourism If You Only Drive 40 Miles?

This was the first day of Hubby Tony's retirement. We spent it getting our first Covid vaccination.

Based on his profession, Tony technically could have qualified a couple of weeks ago. But he chose to put it off, because he was busy wrapping up the loose ends at the job. He also wanted us to be able to get 'shot' at the same time.

Originally, scoring a dose of the vaccine was somewhat of a crap shoot, because our Governor sent a higher proportion of doses to outstate, non-metropolitan areas. There were reports of vaccines going to waste because not enough people were signing up. People from the St. Louis area started taking to the road to get vaccinated, as much as two hours each way. Hannibal, Cape Girardeau, and Rolla were popular destinations. That inequity been righted, a few mass vaccination events have happened not too far from us, and more are on the way, but in the St. Louis area there's still more people who want the shot than there are shots to give them.

Several weeks ago Tony talked with a 'vaccine hunter' who had taken it upon herself to connect people with places. She kept sending him links, and last week he followed up on one in Washington Missouri. Appointments were available, and he asked if I wanted to go; it took me about a half second to run to my computer and start logging in.

We made our appointments for 10:30 am. That would allow Tony to sleep in, and make sure we were finished with everything before lunch. Washington is a city along the Missouri River that has a nice downtown area with plenty of restaurants. Our plan was to leave our car at the vaccination location and walk to one of them.

Our vaccination instructions said to wear a short sleeved shirt to make the injection process easy. The weather turned brisk overnight, and I left the house wearing three layers-the short sleeved shirt, a fleece, and my lightweight winter coat. The location was easy to find. Inside, there were socially distanced chairs placed against the walls of the small building. Tony and I checked in, filled out paperwork, then waited  for our turn. Just a few minutes after the pharmacist called us into the consultation room we were finished. I spent the required 15 minutes waiting period  browsing around the store.

We asked the pharmacist for restaurant suggestions. He offered three, and we chose the first one, the Old Dutch Hotel and Tavern. The restaurant area was on the ground floor of a small hotel. It had beautiful aged wood floors, and a metal ceiling that looked original. Our waitress was friendly, and the food was fresh and tasty.

On the way back to the car Tony and I popped into a couple of stores and got a cup of coffee to drink as we walked. Along the way we saw the other restaurants the pharmacist had mentioned, and discussed which one we would try on our next visit...28 days from now.

Five years ago today: It's All O.K.