Thursday, September 30, 2021

Destination Unknown

During the week Hubby Tony and I set our own schedules, but we try to keep one day free for an activity together. This week that was today. We decided to try and complete yet another chapter in our scavenger hunt book, this time taking on the city of St. Charles.

It was nice and cool when we arrived a little after 9:30. As the morning wore on it got steamy, and we tried to stay on the shade whenever possible. In the end we figured out 16 of the 20 locations. Most of them were along the Missouri riverfront or in the historic Main Street area. 

Before we started we had some logical guesses and mapped out a tentative route, but the hunt still required walking up and down the streets several times. During the walk I saw a lot of people wearing a lanyard that indicated they were part of some organized group. At one point Tony and I stopped and chatted with two men who were sitting on a bench and learned that they were on a mystery tour. 

A couple of days earlier they had gotten on a bus in Wisconsin with no clue about the destinations or attractions they would be seeing. They had spent time in St. Louis visiting multiple tourist attractions, and St. Charles was their last one before they started back home.

I admired their sense of adventure. I don't know if I could do a trip like that. Could you?

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Cup Of Joe

I got multiple emails reminding me that it was National Coffee Day in the United States and Canada. 

Both Starbucks and Panera invited me to stop by for a free cup. The internet told me I could do the same thing at Krispy Kreme, but would have to make some type of purchase in order not to pay for my coffee at Dunkin'. 

As tempting as the deals were, I wasn't motivated to go stand in a line to save a couple of dollars. I also chose not to take advantage of the discount that Mobil on the Run, a local gas station, was offering after the St. Louis Cardinals scored more than six runs in their game last night

Instead, I drank home-brewed coffee twice-for breakfast and with my afternoon snack. The fresh pot of Kirkland brand dark roast Colombian we get from Costco is always good....and usually easier.
Five years ago today: Peppermint Patty In A Cup

Monday, September 27, 2021

Shame About The Weather

In the middle of last week the high for the day was in the mid-70s. Today it is predicted to be a record-setting 90 degrees. That's too hot!

The capris I pulled out of the back of the closet have been returned there, and the shorts that I thought I was done with came back out. The condo is closed up, so now instead of the sounds of nature I get to listen to the drone of the air conditioner. Tonight when I go to bed there will be no brisk fresh air to look forward to.

Tomorrow is forecast to be as warm as today, then for the rest of the week each day will be a bit cooler until things are back to where they should be on the weekend. Thank goodness.

Five years ago today: The Price Of Service Was Twenty Dollars

Friday, September 24, 2021

Signs Of A Return To Normal

On Friday mornings for more than ten years I've attended a meeting that starts at 9:30 in the morning. Before March of 2020 the meetings were all in person. Then things shut down and we moved to Zoom. Two weeks ago we started offering the meeting in a hybrid format, with people attending whichever format they were most comfortable with. So far that seems to be about half and half.

Last week I was still getting things put away after vacation. It was easier to skip the commute time and fire up the computer a couple of minutes before the meeting started. This week I decided to show up at the physical location. After 18 months it was strange to allow for the commute time, and I almost didn't make it in time. 

Driving through residential streets, I noticed another sign that things are getting back to normal. Remember last spring when toilet paper was impossible to find? Somebody obviously found enough to decorate this tree and yard.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Hunting For Cocktail Clues

Today Hubby Tony and I tackled another chapter in our scavenger hunt book, choosing to look for the items in the Central West End, a neighborhood that has a lot of turn of the 20th century architecture, including huge mansions on private streets. We had a great time finding the homes of literary notables, buildings old and new, businesses, and cultural institutions.  We're finding out that each chapter of the book contains a couple of stumpers, places that we don't know anything about.

 Today we were studying a building, looking for the small detail in the book's photograph, when a police officer walked by. I wanted to make sure he didn't think we were casing the place, so I offered a quick explanation of what we were doing. He seemed interested, and asked if he could help us find anything. I read him one of the stumper clues. He said he had no idea, but pulled out his phone to research it, saying he wouldn't share the information with us. Three minutes later we had walked down to the other end of the block when the officer found us. He asked if we wanted to know what he found (we did), and he gave us the address.

 The reason the house was notable? It was the location of the first cocktail party in 1917.


We thanked the officer and continued on our way. Eventually we stopped for lunch, but afterwards we drove by the cocktail party house. It was an imposing building, and one that I was familiar with. The book's clue mentioned the house was close to a church. That church would be the New Cathedral, and the house is the official residence for the archbishops of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Five years ago today: Password Pain

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Walk From The Sun To Neptune In 2,880 Feet

If you're ever in  the St. Louis area and have an interest in astronomy, you might want to visit the Delmar Loop Planet Walk in University City-a scale model of the solar system. 

There are nine stations-one for each planet plus the Sun. (Pluto is not included, because it's not considered a planet any more.)  Each sign has a depiction of the planet at the top and then a list of fun facts about it below.

If you're familiar with the area, the Walk is on the north side of the 6100 to 6600 blocks of Delmar. It starts near the Moonrise Hotel and goes west. Each inch of the sidewalk represents 80,000 miles, and the marker's distance from one to the next is to scale.

Five years ago: World Gratitude Day

Monday, September 20, 2021

A Late Summer Adventure

This morning I was dressed to go to the gym for a class,  but right before I needed to walk out the door I got busy and all of a sudden there wasn't enough time to get there before the class started. I took that as a sign from the Universe that I wasn't supposed to do any organized exercise, so I showered and changed into regular clothes.

I decided to walk up to the grocery store and use the ATM there to deposit a check. Heading north on the main street, I noticed the road work people had equipment completely blocking the sidewalk. I crossed over to the other side of the road and made a mental note to walk home on that side.

We're supposed to have a cold front come through tonight, which will change things from summer hot to fall temperate. I was hopeful the front would be early, but I hoped wrong. There was a nice breeze, but it was hot and sticky. By the time I got to the store my shirt was damp and I had sweat dripping down the back of my neck.

I deposited the check, walked around the store for a while, then started back home. I was more than halfway there when I noticed an organization membership card laying on the side of the road. I picked it up, then saw a loyalty card for a pet store not too far away. Then I saw something that looked like a debit card in the middle of the street. I waited until all the cars had passed and stepped out to pick it up. Before I knew it I had gathered a man's wallet, his driver's license, a couple of charge/debit cards, a little money, and some extra 'stuff'.

I was a sweaty mess, and all I wanted to do was get home, but I figured that the right thing to do would be to backtrack a quarter mile to turn my finds in at the police office. I took a look at the address on the license, figured out the man lived not too far from me, and thought it would be a nice gesture to stop by his place and tell him where to find his valuables.

At the police office I explained the situation . The person I talked to said they would send a patrol car by the house and drop off the things, but I asked for a piece of paper and jotted a quick note to drop off at the man's house in case he wasn't home.  As I passed the original location a second time I found a sheet of paper with a PIN on it and attached it to the note.

I walked past my condo and on to his townhouse (which, of course, was as far away in the neighborhood as possible). The man wasn't home, but his neighbor was outside and said that she would tape my note to the door.

I hope the story has a happy ending. I know I would be frantic if I lost my wallet.

Five years ago today: Go Away, Summer!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Bentonville Or Bust

When Hubby Tony and I were planning our mini vacation we arranged a cat sitter for five nights. We researched what there was to do in Eureka Springs and decided that three nights would give us time to take it all in. That meant we had two more nights to fill. We thought that maybe we would head to Branson. A couple of days before we left I ran into our downstairs neighbor and told her about our plans. She told me that based on her experience a couple of years ago Bentonville (Arkansas) would be a nice complement to our trip. 

The only thing I knew about Bentonville was that it was the birthplace of Walmart. I learned that Alice Walton (the daughter of Sam Walton) had built a fabulous art museum, there were a lot of trails and public art, and the downtown area had great architecture. I came home and did an internet search, which confirmed everything my neighbor told me. I also found out that the city is a hub for bicycling, and calls itself the "mountain biking capital of the world".

Just like that our trip itinerary was set.

On Tuesday morning Tony and I said goodbye to Eureka Springs. Driving directly from there to Bentonville would have taken a little less than an hour, but we took a less-direct route. We stopped to see Beaver Lake, formed by a Corp of Engineers-built dam across the White River. At the last minute we had decided to bring our bikes, so we used them to ride through Pea Ridge National Military Park, a Civil War battlefield. We stopped for lunch.  A little after 12:30 pm we were unlocking the door of our Airbnb apartment just off the downtown square.

We spent the afternoon wandering around downtown. I'm not the world's biggest Walmart fan, but the museum was interesting. The self-guided tour emptied out into a old-fashioned soda fountain. It was closed because of Covid, but the outside ordering windows were open for service and we got a snack.


At dinnertime we drove several blocks to a restaurant that served large handheld crepes. The downtown street grid system was logical but a little confusing. North-South streets had letter names (A, B, C, etc), but depending on where the street was in relation to the town square you could have A Street NW, SW, NE, or SE. The same thing happened with the East-West streets, which had number names (2nd, 34d, 4th, etc). But streets seemed to dead end for no noticable reason and pick up again a few blocks later. I was glad to rely on my phone's map app.

The next morning we got out the bikes and took advantage of part of the Razorback Regional Greenway, which stretches for 38 miles. We were having a great time until somehow Tony's chain came off and got wedged behind the gear housing.  There was a bike shop nearby, but they couldn't immediately fix the problem, so I rode to get the car and retrieved Tony and his bike.

In the afternoon we drove to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, where we took in some of the galleries and walked around some of the outside trails. There's a Frank Lloyd house on site (moved from New Jersey) and we took a self-guided tour.

All good things have to come to an end, so after our second night in Bentonville we packed up the car and drove home. We got in mid-afternoon. Jackson the cat greeted us, then told us it was time for his lunch.

Five years ago: Not My Duck

Friday, September 17, 2021


The past few years, Hubby Tony and I have used our vacation trips to visit our children and grandchildren. A couple of weeks ago we decided it was time to branch out, did some research, and scheduled a week in Arkansas. just for us.

We took the quick way there, using Interstate 44 to drive southwest across the state to Springfield, and then south. In Sringfield we stopped for lunch at Casper's, which claims to be the oldest diner in the city. It's a dive in a good way. Located inside a quanset hut, the interior walls and domed ceiling are covered with a mixture of old posters, photos, and artwork. The food was fresh, fast, good, and cheap.

After a short walk through downtown Springfield and a quick trip into Bass Pro Shop (which was too crowded, and had too few masked people) we moved on to our first stop, Eureka Springs. If we had driven straight through it would have taken about five hours.

I had been in Eureka Springs with a friend years ago, but this was Tony's first time. The entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The streets are built into the hilly terrain and wind up and down the hills. The buildings are a funky mix of architecture styles. Every shop in the city is independently owned. There are no streets that intersect at right angles. There are no traffic lights.


Tony and I stayed in the Grand Central Hotel, one of the original hotels in the area, and could walk just about everywhere in the downtown area. Every room in the hotel is different. Ours had a living room, a bedroom with a king sized bed, and a bathroom with a two-person Jacuzzi tub. The furnishings were all Victorian appropriate.

Our three days were a whirlwind of activity. Sunday morning we went to mass at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, where you enter the grounds through the belltower.  We bought passes for the trolley system, rode each of the three loops to orient ourselves to the city, then used it to get back to some things that were too far to walk to. We visited the Christ of the Ozarks statue, a white, 65-foot tall modernist statue of Jesus. 


We visited Thorncrown Chapel, made mostly out of glass, with a stunning view of the forest outside.

 And we ate! We visited a biker bar that offered Waygu beef burgers and beautifully composed, tasty salads. There was local food, Creole, sandwiches, and Thai. Desserts and snacks multiple times a day. 

Finally, Tuesday morning we packed our bags and left Eureka Springs, ready for the next part of the adventure.

Five years ago today: Scrub Away

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Cream Of The Crop Coasters

When Hubby Tony and I got married 41 years ago we got quite a few presents. Not many of them are still around, but this set of crocheted coasters still is.

They are the greatest coasters ever. No matter how much condensation is on a cup they absorb all the moisture, and when they get dirty I just send them through the laundry.

Not only are the coasters useful, they can also be fun. Back when Sons Brian and Donald were still living at home they would throw them at each other like Frisbees. When there was nothing available to put my drink on I would have to search under the furniture until I found a coaster. 

Unfortunately I have forgotten who the coasters came from. I would love tell them how much I'm still enjoying their thoughtfulness. 

Five years ago: Four Weeks And Counting

Monday, September 13, 2021

(Don't) Keep The Change

Is there a coin shortage in the United States due to COVID? Not according to an email I received from my bank, which referenced information provided by the U.S. Coin Task Force. The problem is that in the past year people's spending habits have changed, and coins are more apt to be sitting in someone's spare change container instead of being spent and circulated. 

More people are shopping online, which of course requires a debit or credit card. If someone's shopping in person, instead of digging into their pocket or purse to find loose change so they don't have to break another bill and get even more change they'll pull out the plastic instead.

The bank's message said to get the system rolling again I could use exact change for purchases whenever possible, redeem coins at coin kiosks, or (their favorite idea) deposit them at financial institutions. 

Five years ago: Tending Not To Remember

Saturday, September 11, 2021


The shirt I was wearing today coordinated with my skirt. The mask in my purse coordinated with it, too. Unfortunately, the two patterns did not play well together.

(I wore the mask anyway.)

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Venipuncture and Vaccine

After my yearly physical was finished in 2020, I left the doctor's office carrying paperwork from the front desk and a written request for the 2021 blood tests. The hard copy was just a reminder to me to get the work done before my late-September physical appointment; the office also sent an official request to the lab.

That hard copy was waiting for me when I opened my September file. I had to fast overnight. I don't fast well, so I wanted to get the test done first thing in the morning. After looking at my calendar I designated today for the work.  

The hospital website had a list of all the available labs. Every lab had slightly different hours. I could go to one on the hospital campus as early as 6:00 am, and as late as 5:00 pm, but I was pleasantly surprised to see they had just opened an urgent care center in a strip mall less than a mile from my house (and on one of my regular walking routes with Hubby Tony). I called them and asked if I could have blood work done there. The answer was yes.

Last night I put a huge note in the bathroom reminding me not to eat breakfast this morning. This morning when I rolled out of bed I decided I would combine some exercise with my lab visit and walk to the urgent care. Tony decided to come with me, even though I told him I had no idea how long the visit would take.

Even though I've walked past the strip mall dozens of times I've never timed how long it takes to get there. I ended up arriving five minutes before the doors opened. There was one person ahead of me in line. I thought about chatting with him, but decided he might be visiting the urgent care because he was sick and kept my distance.

After the paperwork was completed it only took a couple of minutes before I was called to the back. The phlebotomist asked which arm I wanted the blood drawn from. I requested my right (non-dominant) one. She did an excellent job of finding the vein on the first try, and I was in and out of the building in 20 minutes.

I sent Tony a text telling him to meet me at the grocery store that's behind the strip mall. I was starving, and even though a big slice of cake was calling my name he steered me towards a healthier bagel. I could eat while walking, and we decided to finish off our normal walking loop route.

There's a Walgreens pharmacy right where we would turn to head towards our subdivision. Instead of passing it by Tony and I decided to go in and get our flu shots (another thing that's been on my list of things to do). When the technician asked which arm I wanted the injection in I told her the right one.  Now I have two (invisible) holes in that arm-one that took a tiny bit of liquid out of my body and another that put a tiny bit back in.

Five years ago: Under My Umbrella

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Whatever It Takes

A couple of days ago I got a  small, shallow scratch on the heel of my left hand. After it stopped bleeding I put a bandage on it, but because of the cut's location the bandage kept coming off. Liquid bandage wasn't effective either, because every time I did any type of cooking or cleaning the cut would open up again. Annoying.

After dinner tonight Hubby Tony and I took a walk. It was hot (halfway through I had sweat dripping down my neck), but there was a nice breeze blowing. Tony and I talked about what had happened today and what was on tomorrow's schedule. The stupid cut on my hand was already a little tender from putting dinner together. I can't walk without swinging my arms, and every few blocks I'd accidentally hit my hand on my hip. That really hurt.

When we reached the back entrance to the subdivision I was ready to head home, but Tony wanted to get more steps. I turned left and he continued straight. Without someone to talk to I noticed that the combination of heat and exercise was making my hands swell. I tried shaking my hands and clenching them into a fist, which made my cut hurt more. Soon that cut area was throbbing and I was feeling sorry for myself.

 I did a couple of arm circles, which helped some but probably looked a little funny. Then I figured out I just needed to keep my hand was above heart level. I spent the last two blocks of the walk holding my hands up in front of me like they had been surgically scrubbed.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day Levity

In the United States Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. The day honors and recognizes the American labor movement and the achievements of workers. It's also the unofficial end of the summer season.  In honor of the day here's some funnies about jobs and work.

Why did the man leave his job at the doughnut shop? 
He easily got exhausted of the hole concept. 
Why did a woman stop going work because of what her boss said? 
He told her that she's fired. 
Why did the tailor leave his job? 
He felt de-pleated at the end of each day. 
What did Bob tell his parents about his career goal? 
I am aspirin' to be a professional pharmacist. 
Why did a boy give up his dream of being a barber? 
He tried to, but he just didn't make the cut. 
Why was the diva excited about starting her mirror inspecting job? 
She could see herself doing it for a long time. 
What the pilot say when he hadn't studied for his big airline exam?
I'm just going to wing it. 
Why were the police on a lookout for the maze designer? 
He had gotten lost in his own work. 
Why did the young girl resign from her job at the Velcro factory? 
In the end, she couldn't stick with it. 
Why was the astronomer so happy about his first job? 
His career was looking up. 
Why can't people with temper issues become good badminton players? 
They're too high strung. 
Why didn't the government pay attention to the issues of the people who worked in caves on Labor Day? 
They considered them miner issues. 
Why was the young boy's mother unhappy about him becoming a baker? 
She thought he wasn't making enough dough. 
Why did the astrologer not choose to become a historian when he was in high school? 
He didn't see a future in that field. 
Why shouldn't people who don't like stressful jobs work for pool maintenance? 
The work is considered to be rather draining. 
Why shouldn't people with a mean attitude become masseurs? 
Nobody wants to be rubbed the wrong way.
Five years ago today: Formerly Mine

Saturday, September 4, 2021

What's It Going To Take?

The other day I was setting up an account on a website. The first screen asked for my name and email address. Easy stuff. The next screen asked me to choose a User ID and password.

As is often the case, there were specific requirements for the password. It couldn't contain 3 or more of the same character in a row, had to have at least 8 characters including one letter, one number, and a special character (! @ $ % ^ & *). It couldn't be the same as the User ID, and the string of characters in the new password box and confirm password box had to match. I typed:

Number/Capital letter/Number/Lowercase letter/Lowercase letter/Pound sign/Number/ Capital letter/Number/Lowercase letter/lLwercase letter/Number/Number/Exclamation point
And then typed the same string a second time in the confirmation box. Each requirement got a check mark next to it when it was satisfied. At the end everything was good to go except for the special character. The site didn't think I included one. I went back and reviewed my work. Even typed the string into a Word document so I could see it in black and white. I definitely had completed the field correctly.

Just to make sure, I modified my potential password, adding a dollar sign in the beginning. The site was still unsatisfied. I was getting angry. I copied and pasted their list of acceptable special characters into Word, carefully added letters and numbers in between each, then pasted the result into the website. Would you be surprised if I told you I still didn't meet the requirements for the dang special character one? Everything else was just fine.

I got frustrated and walked away. Later I was chatting with some people, who were full of suggestions. I should clear out my cookies and computer cache. Try a different email address. Try a different special character. Drop one of the special characters.

If this wasn't an account I needed I would have bagged the whole thing. Eventually I ended up attempting the password setup with three different browsers on two different computers. Always got the same result. I chatted with the website help desk, who couldn't figure out the issue and put in a ticket to the Technical department. I was frustrated that I wasted much time in on this, but felt vindicated that it wasn't something I did wrong.

Later in the day I got a call from the help desk person asking me to verify exactly what special characters I used. I gave her the information she was looking for,. She said she would pass it on to the Tech team and get back to me with an answer. Twenty four hours later I still hadn't gotten my answer, so I went back to the website and attempted to log in. Worked like a charm, and ten minutes later I had completed my business there.

Five years ago today: Twin Trails Teaser

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Pursuit And Produce

The forecast for today was lovely, with a high temperature about 80 degrees and low humidity. Hubby Tony and I decided to tackle the Soulard neighborhood section in our scavenger hunt book.

Soulard is one of the oldest neighborhoods in St. Louis, established before the Civil War. Soulard Market is the oldest public market west of the Mississippi. The area is also known for being the home of the North American headquarters of the Anheuser-Busch brewery and a huge Mardi Gras celebration. 

The area has a lot of bars and restaurants. I know a few of the marquee locations, but today I saw another side to the neighborhood. We walked down blocks of red brick row houses and stopped to read plaques at historical houses and buildings. We found historic churches, parks, and statues. We walked through a parking lot at the brewery and all of a sudden a security van (driven by a friendly officer) pulled up to ask us what we were doing there. He gave us directions to the building we were looking for.

After we found about two thirds of the places we stopped by the Market. I needed some kale for a recipe and was pretty sure I could find it there. Twenty minutes later we left carrying the bunch of kale as well as a big bag of tomatoes and a box of 10 mangoes. (For the price we couldn't pass them up.)

 Most of the mangoes were perfectly ripe. A couple were a little past their prime, and a couple could have used a day or so on the countertop. All got processed. Tony and I set up an assembly line-I cut the flesh off the seed and removed the skin. Tony cubed the flesh, then put some of it in a container for eating in the next few days and some on a tray to freeze. When I was done my hands were sticky and slimy and I couldn't wash them off fast enough.

Five years ago today: Five years ago today: Real Staying Power