Friday, July 30, 2021

Recreation Opportunities Now And In The Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 29, 2021

And Then There Were Two

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

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

Undemanding blossoms

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Constructive Wait Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five years ago today: Skirting

Monday, July 26, 2021

My Bad

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

Image by S K from Pixabay

 Five years ago: Hall Bathroom Redo (Part Deux)

Friday, July 23, 2021

Somebody's Got To Win. Right?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 22, 2021


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

The things I learned:

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


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

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

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

Monday, July 19, 2021

Stopping The Burn

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

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

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

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

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

Five years ago: Good Grief!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

One Last Set of Family Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five years ago today: Moving To Music

Friday, July 16, 2021

Twosome Traveling

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

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


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

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


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

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

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Family Frolicking

For Part 2 of our California adventure Hubby Tony and I got back in the car and drove south, then west until we reached the Pacific coast at Pismo Beach (which is halfway in between San Francisco and Los Angeles). We got there early enough to stick our feet in the ocean before meeting up with Son Brian, Daughter in Law Nicole, and grandsons Jay, Dee, and Ell at the condo we were sharing for four nights.

The large condo was right on the beach, and the bedroom Tony and I slept in overlooked the ocean. The temperatures were cool enough to leave the balcony door slightly open. Each night I fell asleep to the sound of the waves, and that was the first thing I heard when I woke up.

In the morning after breakfast we went to the beach, where there was some sand castle building and some supervised running into the waves. Dee was not a fan of the ocean, but it was hard to get the other two out.

Grandpa supervision is the best

Each afternoon was an adventure of some type-a park, playground, or a farm that had animals to feed. After dinner we would all go out for a walk. Back at the condo, after bath time Tony and I read books with Jay before he went to bed, while Brian and Nicole got the other boys situated,

Nicole stocked the refrigerator and pantry with breakfast, lunch, and snack items and we carried out restaurant food for dinner. Each night after the kids were in bed the adults enjoyed some type of dessert before we hit the hay ourselves.

Five years ago today: A Nap For A Cat

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Family Festivities

The first stop on our 2021 California trip was Son Tony's. If you've been reading here for a while you would have expected him to be living in Dallas. (If you've been reading here for a long time you would know he once resided in, Phoenix and Tulsa before that. Give yourself a gold star for persistence.) 

Back in January Son Tony accepted a different position in his company which required a move to California. Daughter in Law Ie comes from a large family that's spread out across the Central Valley area, so I wasn't the least bit surprised that's where they ended up. 

This was the first time for Hubby Tony and I to see their new place. To get there from our starting location Google told us we would be on Auxiliary Interstates 880, 680, and 580 before getting off onto state highways. However, at one point there was a traffic tie up and we were re-routed onto a small, scenic highway that turned into a narrow, winding road over a mountain. But we eventually made it.

Tony and Ie's house is large and spacious, with plenty of room for a growing family. Granddaughter Gee was initially shy, but it didn't take her long to warm up to us. Gee celebrated her first birthday in late May. The last time we saw her in October, Gee was scooting around on the floor but not quite walking. This time she cruised comfortably around the tables and furniture. 

Not quite walking yet, but soon!

Hubby Tony and I had plenty of time to hang out with the kids, and we also got to socialize on two separate occasions with parts of Ie's family. Some of her siblings live a couple of hours away, and when they come together tend to make the most of their time. 

On Saturday there was a birthday party for one of her nieces. Some, but not all of the family was there. The next day her oldest nephew celebrated his Master's program graduation with a party. This time all nine of the siblings were together for the first time in a long time. There were also many relatives from the other side of his family. All in all a huge crowd. We knew a very small percentage of them, but felt welcomed.

Before I knew it, it was time to get back in the car and head off on the next part of our adventure.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Fun With The Families

 Hubby Tony and I just returned from an awesome, jam-packed California trip. In just under two weeks we:

  • Flew into San Jose and drove to Son Tony and DIL Ie's house in the Central Valley area, where we stayed for three days and got some serious quality time with granddaughter Gee.

  • Drove to Pismo Beach and shared a beachfront condo with Son Brian, DIL Nicole, and grandsons Jay, Ell, and Dee.
  • Spent two days driving down (south) Highway 1 as far as Santa Barbara, then turned around and came back north through Santa Cruz, ending up at Brians house in the Bay area.
  • Had additional time visiting with Brian and family before getting on a plane to come back home.

Whew! I'm tired just reviewing all of it.

Five years ago today: O!

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Bathroom Humor

Recently I saw this sign on the door of a unisex bathroom. It made me smile.

Later in the day I saw these graphics in a different bathroom. They were on the inside of the door, so I'm not sure what their purpose was...except maybe to put a smile on the face of anyone sitting and facing them.

Five years ago: (Temporarily) Off The Grid

Thursday, July 8, 2021

A Prayer for Dealing with Difficult People

St. Thérèse of Lisieux (often referred to as The Little Flower) was a French nun and one of the most popular Roman Catholic saints. She is particularly known for her Little Way, which speaks of not of doing great things but of doing small things with great love.  

I particularly like her Prayer for Dealing with Difficult People. Even if you substitute the name of your particular Higher Power the words are still powerful.

Dear Heavenly Father, 
I pray that you show me the way,
for I do not know how to deal 
with this difficult person in my life.
I know that you have placed them here 
for a reason and I am grateful for that. 
Grant me your Godly Wisdom 
so that I may uplift your name! 
Give me strength and courage 
so that I can forgive them just as 
you have forgiven me. 
Please guide my thoughts and actions as I deal with them. 


Five years ago: I Scream

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

A Happy Coincidence

Last Tuesday I got an email from Panera that they were giving me a free bagel every day for two weeks.  I've been able to take advantage of the promotion before, and I think the option of fresh bagels is worth the hassle of remembering to swing by a location for the freebie each day. Although sometimes that freebie is more exciting than others.

A couple of days ago Hubby Tony and I were on a road trip to a new-to-us destination. We had run into traffic and the trip was taking longer than expected. Thanks to the delay were both getting hungry and had to use the restroom. 

We were driving in the wrong lane of a wide road and missed the left turn we should have made. Instead, we had to continue straight through the intersection and turn left into the first strip mall to turn around. Just then I saw the familiar sign for a Panera restaurant!

Fifteen minutes later we had both empty bladders and an Asiago bagel to share on the way to our destination.

Five years ago today: Get Crackin'

Sunday, July 4, 2021

A Song About America For The Fourth Of July

Time to dance!

"Living In America"
(written by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight, performed by James Brown)

Yeah, uh! Get up, now!
Ow! Knock out this!

Super highways, coast to coast
Easy to get anywhere
On the transcontinental overload
Just slide behind the wheel
How does it feel

When there's no destination that's too far
And somewhere on the way
You might find out who you are

Living in America
Eye to eye, station to station
Living in America
Hand to hand, across the nation
Living in America
Got to have a celebration
Rock my soul

Smokestack, fatback
Many miles of railroad track
All night radio, keep on runnin' through
Your rock 'n' roll soul
All night diners keep you awake, hey
On black coffee and a hard roll

You might have to walk the fine line
You might take the hard line
But everybody's working overtime

Living in America
Eye to eye, station to station
Living in America
Hand to hand, across the nation
Living in America
Got to have a celebration

I live in America,
I live in America
Wait a minute

You may not be looking for the promised land
But you might find it anyway
Under one of those old familiar names
Like New Orleans (New Orleans)
Detroit City (Detroit City), Dallas (Dallas)
Pittsburgh P.A. (Pittsburgh P.A.)
New York City (New York City)
Kansas City (Kansas City)
Atlanta (Atlanta)
Chicago and L.A.

Living in America
Living in America - yeah
I walk in and out
Living in America

I live in America - state lines
Gonna make the prime, that
I live in America - hey
I know what it means, I

Living in America
Eddie Murphy, eat your heart out
Living in America
Hit me, I said now
Eye to eye, Station to station
Living in America
So nice, with your bad self
Living in America - I feel good!
Five years ago today: A Song For Independence Day

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Just A Teenage Scavenger Trying To Eat In Peace

Yesterday I was driving home from the grocery store and saw something move in the grass to the right of me. There was a huge bird standing there that looked to be eating something. The grass abutted a church parking lot, and I quickly turned into the lot so I could get a closer view of what was going on. 

As close as I could get

The bird kept me in its line of vision, but didn't seem too concerned. It was more interested in eating. When I got out of my car to try and get a better photo the bird slowly ambled a little farther away. Then when I stood still it ambled back to its meal. I watched in fascination as it bent its neck down and used its beak to pull off pieces of whatever dead critter was in the grass.

I figured by the bird's size and choice of food that it was probably a vulture. Back at home I did some research and learned that there are two possible types of vultures in my area. The turkey vulture has a red head and dark brown feathers. The black vulture's head is grey and it has black feathers. But a juvenile turkey vulture has a dark head and bill. That's my guess of what I saw.

Much better photo of a juvie turkey vulture by Teddy Llovet

 Five years ago today: Smooth Riding