Saturday, October 30, 2021

What Do You Do?

The local bar was so sure that its bartender was the strongest man around that they offered a standing $1000 bet: The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron. Anyone who could squeeze one more drop of juice out would win the money. Many people had tried over time but nobody could do it.

One day this scrawny little man came into the bar, wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit, and said in a tiny squeaky voice " I'd like to try the bet." 

After the laughter had died down, the bartender said OK, grabbed a lemon, and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains of the rind to the little man. The crowd's laughter turned to total silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass. 

As the crowd cheered, the bartender paid the $1000, and asked the little man "What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a weight-lifter, or what?"

The man replied, "I work for the IRS." 

Five years ago today: Starbucks Has No Coffee

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Halloween Spirit

This month I've kept an eye out for unusual Halloween decorations. Here's what I've found:

👻 Do any of these sound appetizing to you?

👻 I see this one when I drive the back way out of the subdivision. It cracks me up every time.
👻 The bucket is over the dusk-to-dawn light, so the scarecrow head glows when the sun goes down.
👻 Am I the only one who's never seen a tree decorated with Halloween lights before?

👻 This restaurant had 3-dimentional bats attached to the mirror in the ladies room.

Five years ago today: Fajitas For Two

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Oh My 'Gourdness'

Today was a perfect fall day-brisk in the morning and evening, but warming up nicely in the afternoon.  In the middle of the perfect afternoon Hubby Tony and I were taking a walk. I told him that I had learned that today was National Pumpkin Day, a holiday that recognizes the fall-favorite squash, but other than admiring the pumpkin I put outside of our condo unit door yesterday I wasn't planning on doing anything to commemorate the day.

For dinner we were having leftovers of the soup Tony made for dinner last night, a tasty combination of butternut squash, chickpeas, greens, and brown rice. I thought anything else with pumpkin as an ingredient would be too similar tasting.

We got to the back entrance to the subdivision and I turned to go home, but Tony wanted to get some more steps and kept going straight. He returned about 45 minutes later, carrying a foam tray from a local bakery. Inside were these cute frosted Jack-o'-lantern​s, his contribution to Pumpkin Day.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Shelter From A Storm

Last night we had some nasty storms come through the area, including multiple tornadoes. Fortunately the worst of it passed to the south of us and the only damage was some twigs on the deck. 

About the time the high gusts of wind and pouring rain passed through our area it was time to turn on the local news. The meteorologists had taken over from the anchors, discussing the weather situation in animated tones. They even had someone who was storm chasing and providing updates. After almost a half hour of those meteorologists rehashing the same data we turned off the television. Tony fed Jackson the cat and we both got ready for bed.

Tony put a local jazz show on the radio. I was drifting off to sleep when I heard the jarring tone of the emergency alert system, announcing a tornado warning two counties to the east of us in Illinois. The system did what it was supposed to do (get my attention), but then I had a hard time settling back in. My mind started racing, and I realized that if the weather had been in our area we had no emergency plan in place.

We live on the second floor of an apartment-style condominium building with a garage tucked underneath. If a storm was rapidly approaching would it be safer to hustle down two flights of stairs into the basement garage or hunker down in an interior room? At night we would have to throw something over our pajamas in case our neighbors were doing the same thing we were, which would take extra time. There would also be the issue of finding Jackson and carrying him down with us.

This morning I sent out a text to some of our neighbors asking them what they did in the event of a storm. They all told me they headed to the garage. One woman said she sat in her car. The others did not share any details. Hopefully I'll never have the opportunity to figure out exactly what they do.

Five years ago today: Froggy In A Flowerpot

Friday, October 22, 2021

And Then There Were Five....

Grandchildren, that is. Yesterday there was a text in our family chat group that Son Tony and DIL Ie welcomed a new addition to their family. Meet Granddaughter Evee.

Those cheeks!

According to Tony both mother and daughter are doing well, and once they get home the family plans to cocoon along with big sister Gee for several weeks. Hubby Tony and I already have our tickets to visit.

Five years ago: Pumpkin Juice

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Candy...And Much More

Today Hubby Tony and I pulled out our scavenger hunt book and headed for a section of the metropolitan area we don't know very much about--the Old North St. Louis,a neighborhood just north and slightly west of the downtown area.

Anyone who's lived in the metropolitan area for any length of time knows that Crown Candy Kitchen is there. For most people, including me, that's the only place they know. However, after several hours of walking around I know so much more!

The area of North St. Louis was established shortly after Lewis and Clark left to explore the Louisiana Territory, and a couple of decades later was incorporated into the city.  By the mid-1850s it was heavily German, and later a large Polish enclave developed. By the 20th century many new residents came from the Deep South. After World War Two there was an exodus to the suburbs, leading to decline. In the 1980s, a nonprofit organization began to promote and revitalize the area. 

 I parked my car just down the street from Crown Candy and we walked through the small commercial area on North 14th Street, which was lined with unique vintage buildings. We were standing outside of a hardware store (which had a sign that said it had been established in 1875) when the owner came out and talked with us, sharing a little history of the area.

The residential parts of the neighborhood were filled with red brick buildings, and there were commercial buildings on the corners of many blocks. Sadly, many of them were in rough shape, and their were quite a few vacant lots, but I was pleased to see a substantial number of nicely maintained homes. I don't think I'd walk in the area after dark, but during the day I felt perfectly safe.

Tony and I brought finger-food lunches to eat as we walked, but we popped into Crown Candy for dessert. When I saw a chocolate and marshmallow sundae on the menu I knew what I was ordering. The combination was one of my Dad's favorites, and I have fond memories of indulging with him at the kitchen table.

Not fancy, but brought back memories
Five years ago: Finding An Easier Way

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Back In The Zapping Game

Remember my microwave issues? We've only been without one for two weeks, although it feels like a lot longer than that to me. I'm pleased to announce that yesterday an installer came and put in our new one.

It has been wonderful to be able to cook and heat things with the push of a button. This morning I had oatmeal, and since I didn't cook it on the stove I didn't have to worry about anything sticking to the pan. Heating up leftover coffee is a piece of cake, and making hot water for tea is seamless. I haven't prepared a real meal yet, but look forward to turning on the cooktop light to illuminate the stove.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Disappointing Din-Din

Tonight was the monthly meeting of one of Hubby Tony's clubs, which takes place in the banquet room of a restaurant. On there club nights I usually take myself out to dinner.

Shortly before Tony left for the evening I was trying to figure out a restaurant that sounded good. The weather has been fall-like, which makes me think of chili. That made me wonder if the St. Louis Bread Company (aka Panera) had turkey chili on their menu yet. I checked, and they did. Just like that I had dinner plans!

Panera's turkey chili is a great combination of chunks of ground turkey, vegetables, and three kinds of beans in a slightly spicy broth. In addition to being tasty, it's also pretty healthy-lots of protein and complex carbohydrates and low in calories.

There are two Panera restaurants close to me. The one to the west is a little over two miles away, and if I go to the east it's about three and a half miles. At 4:45 pm I checked Google to see which would make more sense traffic wise, and was surprised to find out that the one to the east closed at 5:00. However, it said that I could head west, as long as I arrived at the location before 7:00.

I made all the stoplights and arrived in the Panera parking lot five minutes after I left the garage. There weren't many cars when I pulled in. I walked up to the door, which had a sign taped to it that said only the drive through was open. I got back in the car, drove around to the side of the building, and saw this:

 UGH! Now, because I couldn't have it I really wanted turkey chili.

Panera packages some of its soups for retail sale, so I drove to a nearby grocery store. They had several varieties, but not the one I had my heart set on. I browsed through the store's grab and go section, but most of the food would have to be heated and I didn't want to drive home and mess with that.

By now I was getting seriously hungry. I left the store parking lot and turned right. The first place I drove by was a Chick-fil-A and I turned into the lot. The way my dinner search was going, I wasn't surprised to find a line of cars at the drive through, but the restaurant is legendary for their efficiency and the line moved quickly. 

I was ravenous, and my desire to have a healthy meal flew out the window. I ordered a fried chicken sandwich, an order of waffle fries, and the original dipping sauce. After I got my order I drove to a far corner of the lot and sat in my car to eat my food. I haven't had Chick-fil-A in a long time and thought the food was far too salty. But it filled my stomach and didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Five years ago today: Berry's Birthday

Sunday, October 17, 2021

It's Always Interesting To Do New Things

When it comes to the flow of our Sundays, Hubby Tony and I are pretty predictable. We've either gone to mass on Saturday night (which means we're free to do some type of adventure Sunday morning), or attend the 9 am Sunday mass (and take the time to socialize afterwards, getting home in time for an early lunch). 

Today, though, we mixed it up. The parish Hispanic community was celebrating the Peruvian holiday of El Señor de Los Milagros (The Lord of the Miracles) at the 1 pm Mass, with food and music after. Everyone in the parish was invited; Tony and I decided to go.

I was unfamiliar with the day, but Tripsavvy told me:

In the mid-17th century, Angolan slaves painted an image of a crucified Christ on the walls of their meeting place in Lima. When an earthquake devastated the city in 1655, the mural was one of the few things left standing. Talk of a miracle spread throughout the parish, and Lima’s faithful came to worship the image, now dubbed El Señor de los Milagros. 

Today, the image is the focal point for the largest religious congregation in South America. Processions begin early in the month, with major processions normally held on October 18, 19 and 28. Purple-robed devotees follow the image on its course through the streets of Lima, which themselves are draped in purple.

Tony and I decided not to worry about the suggested color dress code. We arrived ten minutes early. The courtyard was a sea of purple and I started to regret my decision. (However, there eventually ended up being plenty of people who had on alternate colors.) 

A couple of minutes before 1 pm we were directed to move over to the far end of the building, where a tapestry with a replica of the painting was hanging. The priest took the tapestry, held it up high, and began a procession into the building. Immediately behind him came then deacon, then six men arranged in two rows, each wearing deep purple robes. The rest of the group fell into the back of the line. 

Once inside the church everyone found their place and the Mass began. A liturgical band added lovely Peruvian music. I don't understand Spanish, but I still enjoyed hearing the prayers from a different point of view. During the spoken prayers I participated by saying the English words in my head.

After the Mass was over everyone moved to the parish center. Tony and I sat at a table with a woman from the Hispanic community and her two children. We went through the buffet line and got a plate of flavorful rice mixed with chunks of chicken and topped with some fresh spinach. After the meal we went back for dessert-a slice of cake and the puff pastry dessert I call elephant ears. However, I learned that in Peru they're orejitas de chancho (pig ears). 

Five years ago: Yea! House Guests!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Tech Inept

I'm currently the secretary for a state-wide fellowship. About a month before each of the four yearly business meetings I put out a call for the reports that will ultimately go into the minutes. I never get everything, but a week before the meeting I organize what I've received and send them out to the members. During the meeting I follow up with the people who haven't sent me a report. After the meeting I compile everything, add the results of voting on motions, and send the final minutes to the website to be published.

This procedure usually works well. The vast majority of people send me their report in a Word file or Google doc. With those I can copy their information and paste it into my document. However, a couple of days ago someone sent me a photo of their typed report. It was a very nice photo, but impossible to get the information into my document unless I retyped all the information. 

I asked the author if she could send me the information in a Word file. She said she would, but instead she sent the photo again. I believe the woman is about my age, but she is more hands-on than technology oriented, and not very tech savvy. I sent her a message asking what program she used to type the report, and saying I needed the report from that program.

The next day I received a message saying that she would send me the information. Instead of what I was looking for, I got a message from a copy store in the woman's town with a PDF of the information attached. 


I tried one more time, sending a message to the woman asking if she had typed the report or if someone else had done it for her. I said that whoever did the typing should send me the file. Later in the day I got a forwarded message from the woman with the information I needed attached.

Five years ago: This Happened The Other Day....

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Much Ado About Not Much

Today I had a whole mess of stops to make, including getting packages to the post office.

In retrospect, I realize that I could have done a better job of planning out my errands. Yesterday was Columbus Day (a Federal holiday) which meant that the post office was closed. I should have put two and two together and figure out that because the post office was closed yesterday it would be busy today. 

When I entered the service area there was a young man at the counter, two older women sitting in chairs, and a third woman standing. There was only one clerk working. I got my number and prepared to wait.

A man came in right after me carrying a tall stack of Priority boxes. Standing Woman raced over to open the door for him. He set them on the work table, left, and came back with another tall stack. I was thankful he would be doing his transactions after me. Shortly after that a patrol officer entered carrying a box. He took his number and moved to the other side of the room.

The young man had a complicated transaction that lasted about eight minutes. I spent the time checking the time on my phone and looking around the service area. This location is housed in a Depression-era building, and there's a beautiful Works Progress Administration-produced mural that covers one of the side walls. 

As the seconds ticked by I was getting annoyed thinking about all the things I still had to do. When the young man finally finished up the clerk called the next number, which turned out to be Standing Woman. However, instead of taking her turn she got the officer's attention, thanked him for his service, and indicated he should go next.

What?!? Maybe Standing Woman didn't have any place else to be, but what about all the other people who had been waiting? She didn't ask if they were OK with someone leapfrogging over them in line. As it turns out, the officer only had to turn in a box that already had postage on it. His transaction took 30 seconds, and the clerk moved on. It took another five minutes, but I finally did my business and got out of there.

Five years ago today: Efficient And Easy

Monday, October 11, 2021

This Day In History.....Live From New York

On October 11, 1975 the first episode of Saturday Night Live aired. 

George Carlin was the host. The cast included Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Michael O'Donoghue, Gilda Radner (and a man named George Coe, who never appeared on the show again). There were two musical guests-Billy Preston and Janis Ian.

Here's the monologue from that very first show. Even after 46 years I still it's still pretty funny.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Exercising Body And Brain

The other day I was reading an interesting article about memory called Turn Off GPS — and Turn On Your Brain. The main idea was that relying on a device to get you places can make your brain lazy, because that devise doesn't allow the hippocampus part of the brain to activate.

The article gave some great suggestions, including trying to get to destinations in different ways, trying to draw a map of your neighborhood, using a paper or digital map the next time you plan a route (then trying to get back home on your own), and using environmental clues to get places.

This morning Hubby Tony and I used that last tip when our errands took us to a part of the metropolitan area we don't get to much. We know the major roads there, but nothing about the residential streets. Before completing the errands, we decided to walk in the area. The high temperature was forecast to be almost record-setting hot, so we decided that earlier in the day was better than later.

We used the Interstate to get close to the destination, got off and drove east for a couple of miles, then turned south down a major road. So far we were in familiar territory. Three miles down the major road I saw a brown sign on the right (the first environmental clue!) that indicated a County park. It turned out to be a lovely area with athletic fields, picnic shelters, a  playground, and a small water feature. Paved paths looped throughout the park to each of the different areas.

The first path we took just looped back to the bathrooms, the but the second one exited out the back of the park and into a neighborhood.  We kept walking. That street dumped out into a residential collector street that seemed to have quite a bit of traffic but didn't have a sidewalk. After checking for vehicles, we crossed into a second subdivision, and that subdivision spilled into a third. About then I was getting hot and tired, so we backtracked our way to the park. 

It was early enough in the day that the sun was still in the eastern sky (environmental clue!), The roads were straight enough (another clue!) that we could guess that we were paralleling the major road we had driven on. We went down a couple of roads that said No Outlet (a clue that we'd be turning around and exiting quickly). We also passed a few houses that had children's toys in the yard (a clue that it was a family friendly area).

After retrieving the car we took it to complete the first errand. Tony is much better at navigating than I am, so as we were headed to the second errand I was pleasantly surprised to see a sign for one of the streets we'd walked on dump out onto the arterial exactly where I thought it would.

Five years ago today: What A Deal!

Thursday, October 7, 2021

No Nuking Now

Earlier today dkzody left a comment on my non-fuctioning microwave post, asking if I had been able to get it replaced. Unfortunately, we're making progress, but the project isn't finished yet.

Monday morning Hubby Tony called the Customer Service department and determined that it would not be cost-effective to have a technician come out.

I did an online search and found out they still manufactured the model. Since I liked its style and design and knew it would fit the opening above the stove, I suggested we buy the same thing again. Lowe's had free delivery. Home Depot did not. We headed to Lowe's.

There was only one associate in the appliance department, and he was doing the best he could. We waited 20 minutes for our turn. The store website said we would have to order the microwave, so I was pleasantly surprised when the associate told us he had one in stock. Ten minutes after we started our turn we were the owners of a new microwave.

All that needed to happen was the installation, payed for through Lowe's and done by a third party company. The next day I received a call from the scheduler who offered the option of next Tuesday. I agreed. However, this morning we received another call from the scheduler, saying that our technician had been exposed to Covid and needed to quarantine. Now our installation won't be for another week and a half. 

In the meantime Tony and I are making do. We pulled out the electric kettle to reheat coffee, and I've been cooking more things on the stove. The biggest issue I've found so far is the loss of the light above the stove. The kitchen has ceiling can lights on either side of the stove, but they don't provide enough illumination. 

I thought about buying a cheap puck light to stick underneath the counter, but all I could find at the store were multi-packs. Then I remembered the hands-free headlamp I bought for myself last year to walk in the dark. The band ended up being too small for my head and I never used it. Today I wrapped that too-small band around the cabinet handle and aimed the light towards the stove. The temporary solution is good enough for me.

Five years ago: This Gives New Meaning To The Pose 'Cat And Cow'

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Always Something Interesting Online

Yesterday I participated in a boot-camp type exercise class. Today I have so many sore muscles I can hardly move. After lunch I took a nap, then turned to the internet for some mindless silliness. Scrolling from site to site, I was reminded of the autofill texting games that were popular a couple of years ago. Basically, you type in the beginning of a text, then complete a phrase or sentence by choosing the predictive text words or phrases your device offers.

I decided to play with writing my epitaph, following the directions that said: 

Write 'Here lies [YOUR NAME]. [Preferred pronoun] was...'

and started clicking away. I soon found out shorter groups of words tended to make the most sense. The longer I clicked the predictive text the weirder things got. I spent longer than I should have figuring out what I wanted my gravestone to say. My favorites were:

  • Here lies Kathy. She was just talking about her phone and said she didn't know what she wanted.
  • Here lies Kathy. She said she didn't want to go back to work.
  • Here lies Kathy. She is coming back to mail me a new shirt. 
Five years ago: Frog Leap

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Microwave Woes

Today for breakfast I made myself some oatmeal in the microwave. At lunchtime Hubby Tony tried to use it and nothing happened. The appliance was completely dead. I checked the breaker, which looked fine. (I still turned it off and then back on, because I've been fooled in the past. No luck.) 

This is a standard over the range microwave with an integrated light and fan. The back of the unit is completely inaccessible unless you were to unscrew the unit from the mounting bracket, so there is no easy way to see if something is amiss. Not that either Tony or I would know what to look for anyway. 

Tony searched for the manual online, figuring that would be easier than trying to go through all the papers we got from the previous owner when we moved in.  He found the document. He also found out that our microwave was nine year old, and the average one lasts about seven years. The manufacturer's Customer Service department is closed on Sunday so Tony couldn't call and get any advice, but we're assuming that paying for a service call and repairs will probably cost more than buying a new one.

So we're temporarily without what I consider an important appliance.

We do not have a toaster oven, so any heating up will temporarily have to be done on the stove or in the oven. For the foreseeable future defrosting something will have to be planned out in advance. The dirty dishes will increase, because instead of placing food in its ultimate bowl or plate there will also be a heating pot or pan. At least a pot to heat water for tea doesn't need to be washed-just air dried. Our Mr. Coffee has a thermal carafe which keeps the contents warm for a long time, but it can't work miracles.  I wonder if coffee heated in a pot can just be rinsed?

And then there's a couple of non-cooking disadvantages. I didn't realize how much I rely on the microwave clock until it wasn't there. Even though our range also has a timer, it operates in one-minute increments and I prefer the preciseness of the microwave one. I don't often need to run the exhaust fan, but what are the chances that now I'll produce so much smoke and steam that I'll wish there was something to vent it with?

Five years ago today: Want Some Carbs With Those Carbs?