Thursday, May 19, 2022

"I Think I Love You"

I was listening to a radio program that featured music of the 1970s when this earworm came on. Now I can't get it out of my head. Won't you sing with me?
 


Monday, May 16, 2022

Vanishing Thoughts

Since I started blogging more than a decade ago I've accumulated over a hundred blogs in my feed reader. Not all of them post on a regular bases, but on any given day somewhere between 30 and 35 of them have new content. Of those, I comment on a good portion. Or at least I try to. All of a sudden I'm having a problem leaving comments. Particularly in Blogger. 

I've been around the blog world long enough to know the commenting system. It starts by clicking on the Post a Comment button. My identity pops up next to the comment box, along with my avatar if that's what the blog owner has set up. I type my comment, jump through the hoops to prove I'm not a robot if that's necessary. When I click on the 'publish' button I used to have great success. Now, my comment often disappears into thin air.

When that happens I go back to my feed reader and mark the post as unread, so I can go back to it later and see if the comment showed up. Sometimes it does, but more often there's nothing from me. After trying two or three times on any given blog post I give up.

I turned to the Internet to see if there was a solution. The sites I consulted all said that the blogs that allowed embedded comments (where others can post responses) didn't have the problem. Based on my experience, that isn't correct. Some of the blogs I'm having problems with do have embedding. Others don't. The whole thing is frustrating, and annoys the heck out of me.

So the moral of the story is that if you don't hear from me on your blog, it's not because I haven't tried.

Five years ago today: In Any Language, It's Still Dinner

Sunday, May 15, 2022

This Cat Has Been Around

In the summer of 2002 Hubby Tony and I chose two kittens from a litter at our sister-in-law's house. We waited until they were weaned, then brought them home and named the kittens Pepper and Jackson. Counting backward from their weaning date we arbitrarily assigned them a birthday of May 15th. The two brothers had a great life together until Pepper crossed the Rainbow Bridge in November of 2019.

Today Jackson turned 20 years old. In honor of the day we catered to his needs and gave him extra attention whenever he looked like he wanted it. Tonight Son Donald came over for dinner. After we ate I got Jackson's birthday treat ready. On a piece of paper I wrote the number 20, taped it to the kitchen floor, and arranged 20 cat treats on the lines.

Jackson was MIA, and Tony went to find him. Turns out that Jackson was in the back of the condo enjoying his early evening nap, and a little annoyed at being woken up. He was even more irritated when Tony carried him into the kitchen. Jackson doesn't see as well as he used to, so when Tony set him on the floor he walked past the paper a couple of times. Eventually he realized it was there and made quick work of the treats.

After all the crumbs were sniffed out and consumed Jackson left. I watched him walk down the hall, and suspected he was headed back to the bedroom for more napping. But it was his day to do anything he wanted.

Five years ago: The Wide Spectrum of Mothering

Thursday, May 12, 2022

A Grand Time With Grandchildren

Son Brian and DIL Nicole were married in May 2010. Ten years later Hubby Tony and I were all ready to babysit for them so they could have a celebratory getaway. However, thanks to Covid that didn't happen.

Fast forward to January 2022. We're all vaxxed and boosted; Nicole asked if we would be willing to try again. Tony and I agreed. Since we would already be in California for that period, we added time with Son Tony and his family. Then we also tacked on a destination just for us. We booked flights and waited for the time to arrive. 

Thursday morning Tony and I said goodbye to our first set of hosts, packed everything into the rental car, and headed back over the mountains towards San Jose. It was Cinco de Mayo, so we decided to stop at a taqueria in Livermore for a tasty lunch. After returning the rental at the airport we crossed the street to the passenger pickup area and waited a couple of minutes for Son Brian to pick us up.

When we got to his house their nanny (a lovely woman close to my age) was outside with two-year old twins Ell and Dee. Grandson Jay was at school. We joined the outside play, and when it was time to pick up Jay I went along with Brian. As the day unfolded the nanny went home, dinner was ordered in, TV was watched, and bedtime routines followed. Tony and I tried to watch carefully because the next two nights (with the nanny's assistance) we would be the ones doing it!

Brian and DIL Nicole had a late morning flight to Los Angeles, where they would be enjoying their adult-only time and attending a show on Saturday night. Their return flight was due in at dinnertime on Sunday. On Friday Jay's school was closed for a professional day, and after consulting with Grandma and Grandpa, his mom asked him if he would rather go to the aftercare program and see his friends or do something special with us. I was thrilled when he chose us.  We visited Happy Hollow, where we visited with the animals and enjoyed the picnic lunch we brought. At the gift shop Jay pondered all the merchandise before he chose a large rubber snake and snow cone to purchase with his own money. 

The nanny came as scheduled to keep the twins' day normal. When we got back we spent the rest of the day playing outside and inside, building with magnets, putting dinner together, and reading books. Jay's bedtime went smoothly, but the twins sensed we were not their parents and put up a little fuss. However, they slept well through the night.

On Saturday the big adventure for Grandpa and Grandma was taking Jay to his Little League game. Afterwards we drove through McDonald's and got coffee for the adults and french fries for Jay. That night at bedtime the twins were even more adamant that we were not getting their bedtime routine correct, but with the nanny's help they eventually settled down.

Big boy batting, little boys running

On Sunday morning we walked to the grocery store with Jay and let him pick out a cake mix and frosting for a Mother's Day cake. After lunch Grandma, Grandpa, and Jay teamed up to make it, and Jay helped me frost the cake after it was cool. The finished product was far from perfect, but made with love.

When Brian and Nicole got home all the boys were thrilled to see them. Mom and Dad executed the correct bedtime routine, and all three boys went down quietly. In the morning Tony and I drove along with Nicole as she took Jay to school, then detoured to the airport to drop us off before she went to work.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

At Rug Rat Speed

Son Brian and DIL Nicole were married in May 2010. Ten years later Hubby Tony and I were all ready to babysit for them so they could have a celebratory getaway. However, thanks to Covid that didn't happen.

Fast forward to January 2022. We're all vaxxed and boosted; Nicole asked if we would be willing to try again. Tony and I agreed. Since we would already be in California for that period, we added time with Son Tony and his family. Then we also tacked on a destination just for us. We booked flights and waited for the time to arrive.

After leaving Salt Lake City Hubby Tony and I flew into San Jose, where we picked up a rental car and headed over the Altamont Pass towards the Central Valley. For Part Two of our vacation we were staying at Son Tony's and DIL Ie's house. As much as I was looking forward to hanging out with them, I really was looking foreard to giving Granddaughters Evee and Gee big hugs.

Baby and toddler heaven

This leg of the trip couldn't have been more different than the first. In Salt Lake City my step counter recorded some of the highest numbers in months, and Tony and I got to do whatever we wanted when we wanted to. At this stop I struggled to get my minimum number of steps per day, and our schedule revolved around bottle feedings and nap times. We played, read books, and generally helped out wherever possible. Each day after lunch we took Gee to the park in her stroller. It was great fun to help her navigate the play structure.

We were there from Monday afternoon until Thursday morning. Wednesday night Son Tony brought home carryout food and a lovely cake for an early Mother's Day celebration.

It tasted as good as it looked!

Five years ago today: Solitude and Silence

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

"All Roads Lead To Temple Square"

Son Brian and DIL Nicole were married in May 2010. Ten years later Hubby Tony and I were all ready to babysit for them so they could have a celebratory getaway. However, thanks to Covid that didn't happen.

Fast forward to January 2022. We're all vaxxed and boosted; Nicole asked if we would be willing to try again. Tony and I agreed. Since we would already be in California for that period, we added time with Son Tony and his family. Then we also tacked on a destination just for us. We booked flights and waited for the time to arrive.

Our trip was divided into three sections. The first destination was Salt Lake City (the "just for us" part).  We chose it because it was in the general direction that we were going, Southwest flew into the airport, and neither Tony and I had been there before.

On the morning of April 29th we headed to the airport. Originally we had booked a non-stop flight, but Southwest changed our plans, deciding that we wanted to make a stop in the Denver airport first. That added a couple of hours, but we were still deplaning in Salt Lake City before lunch. After picking up a rental car we drove to a lovely old building, where we had rented a private apartment Airbnb. After unpacking, we started exploring.

For the next two and a half days we explored the area on foot and by car. The Salt Lake City streets are logical and grid-like. Everything radiates out from Temple Square, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple and buildings are located. Major roads are numbered (200, 300, 400, etc.) and include the direction (North, South, East, or West.) 

Friday we concentrated on walking around the downtown area. Saturday morning we were in and around Temple Square, where toured the Beehive House (one of the official residences of Brigham Young), learned about the LDS from the Sister Missionaries in the Conference Center, and caught a portion of an organ concert in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Much of the area was being renovated, construction signs were everywhere, and it was a little hard to navigate.

Eagle Gate - Wikipedia

During the second half of the day we walked a trail up Ensign Peak (a 400-foot elevation gain). At the top we could see the Great Salt Lake and the city spread out like a panorama. In the evening we investigated a couple of neighborhoods recommended by our host before coming home and falling into bed.

On Sunday we drove a half hour southeast to Park City, the site of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. There, we walked around and explored the historic downtown area. On the way back to Salt Lake City we stopped to get information about the Olympics museum, but we were tired and decided to pass on visiting it.

Before I knew it it was time to pack our suitcases again and head to the airport for the next part of our trip. On our way out of town we stopped to see the Cathedral of the Madelene, a beautiful Romanesque building.

Wikipedia
 Five years ago: Unexpected Art

Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Mom’s Job Description

Happy Mother's Day to all moms, grandmas, and mother figures who were honored today. I hope that your day was everything you wanted it to be. I couldn't find the author of this job description, but I think it is spot-on. Enjoy!

POSITION: 

Mother, Mom, Mama

JOB DESCRIPTION: 

Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often-chaotic environment.

Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.

Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES: 

The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.

Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.

Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.

Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.

Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.

Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.

Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery-operated devices.

Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.

Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION: 

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: 

None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: 

Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.

When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: 

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

 Five years ago today: Lubed Lips Lamentation

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Take Me Out To The Little League Game

Today, for the first time in three decades I had the opportunity to go to a little league baseball game. It was a lot of fun.

The team members were all five or six years old, and in their second year of playing organized ball. Last year they hit off a tee; this year a coach pitched soft lobs their way. Each batter had five chances to hit a pitch before a ball was set on a tee so they could successfully hit it.

Both teams were small enough that everyone got to play in the field every inning. Each time a child was assigned to a different position. I was impressed that most of the players seemed to have somewhat of a grasp of what they should be doing when a hit ball came their way. However, most of the time the hit ball went between players or over someone's head. 

During a team's batting portion players rotated through until they got three outs. Players who got on base could only run a single base at a time. There were two coaches on the field, and each dugout had another person to organize the batting order. That job was a bit like herding cats, but the players were having a lot of fun.

 Even though it had been a long time since I sat on a metal bleacher, it didn't take long for me to get back in the groove. Everything felt familiar--the parents yelling out encouragement, the smaller siblings running around and bugging their parents for concession stand treat, and the post-game team snacks.

Five years ago: Floods, Crests, And A New Day

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

May The Fourth Be With You

Today is Star Wars Day. The date is, of course, a take on the iconic Star Wars line “May the Force be with you.”

Given that the name of the event gives away its month and day, how many people would need to refer to a chart like this one? I'm guessing only true Star Wars nerds.

Five years ago: Write It Out

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Let's All Groan Together

Olaf the Viking Norseman is shopping at a supermarket when he comes across an old lady in a wheelchair, almost in tears.

"What's the matter?" asks Olaf.

"Oh," sobs the old lady. "I want to have a look at the frozen puddings but, as you can see, there are three steps down into the chiller cabinets."

"No problem," says Olaf, lifting her onto his back. "I'll take you."

Olaf strolls through the chiller cabinets with the old lady on his back. She selects several puddings and puts them in the basket he is carrying for her.

At the other end the old lady's husband is waiting with her wheelchair.

"I'd really like to thank you," says the old lady as Olaf sets her back down in the chair, "but I don't even know who you are!"

Olaf just waves and walks off.

"I was really worried about you," says the old lady's husband. "What have you been doing?"

She replies: "Well, I've been through the desserts on a Norse with no name."

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A Beautiful Spring Day Adventure

Today was forecast to have the pick weather of the week, so Hubby Tony and I decided to make it our date day. I researched places that we haven't been yet (a job that gets harder and harder the longer Tony is retired 😀) and emailed him a list with three possibilities. Out of the list he chose Lafayette Square, a historical neighborhood and park in the City of St. Louis.

Tony had an early morning commitment, but when he got home we jumped in the car and drove almost all the way downtown. We got off the interstate, turned left, then made another quick right when we saw the Lafayette Square light pole sign. 

There was plenty of on-street parking. We got out and started our adventure.

Lafayette Park is the heart of the neighborhood. It was the first public park in the St. Louis area (dedicated in 1851), and some say the oldest west of the Mississippi. Houses, row houses, and apartment buildings line the streets encircling the park.

In May of 1896 a tornado leveled much of the area. Many of the residents who lost their homes moved to other, newer areas of the city. After World War 2 the neighborhood declined until urban pioneers began renovating it in the 1970s. Now both the park and streets are beautifully redone.

If I had taken photos of all the buildings I liked my phone memory would have completely filled up. However, these 'painted lady' row houses are one example of what we saw on our walk.

 

 A townhouse building. I love the roof detail.

I didn't get close enough to this tree to know what type it was, but the mass of flowers were stunning.

Eventually we made our way to the park. Its meandering paths were shaded by huge trees. A pond in the middle had swans, ducks, and way too many Canadian geese. When I tried to get close enough to take a photo of the pond one of them hissed at me and I backed off. However, I managed to get a shot of this guy, sculpted by Bob Cassilly, who was a local artist.

 
In the southeast corner we found the Park House, which was built in 1867 for use as a police station. Now it's the office for the  Lafayette Square Restoration Committee. I can't imagine any newly-built public building being half this ornate!

Tony and I walked for about 90 minutes, then decided we were hungry. Based partly on the name of this restaurant, we decided to check it out.

Mayo Ketchup serves Puerto Rican, Dominican and Cuban food. The restaurant's name is actually a common dipping sauce for fried food in those cuisines.
 

Tony's sandwich (on the right) had a 'bun' of large, smashed, twice fried green plantains. It was filled with avocado, lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion, potato sticks, and garlic mayo 

My bowl (on the left) contained white rice, black beans, maduros (fried sweet plantains), tostones (fried green plantain slices), pickled onion, and avocado. We ate until there was nothing left.

After lunch Tony and I agreed that our feet said it was time to head back to the car and head home.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Tart Tisane

Hubby Tony and I drink both coffee and herbal tea. After Tony's has his allotment of coffee for the day he switches over. Except for in the very hot weather, once I'm settled on the couch after diner I make myself a cup. The tea tastes good, and sends a message to my stomach that it's done eating for the day.

Both Tony and I have tried using loose tea with an infuser. but for ease we prefer tea bags. Tony's favorite flavors tend to be mint, camomile, and blends that include ginger. I usually reach for something that includes 'warm' spices like cinnamon or ginger, or something with a tang. I especially enjoy anything that includes hibiscus (the 'zing' in every Zinger tea).

It's easy enough to pick up boxes of herbal tea at the grocery store, but I also enjoy hunting at international markets.  Which is where I found this flavor from Croatia. Five years ago today: A Navy Blue And Black Kind Of Day

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Slivered

Hubby Tony left Thursday morning for a retreat. Today the retreat ended with a mass, and there was a potluck luncheon afterward. Sunday is Tony's day to cook, but I went ahead and prepared a main dish salad that would be easy to pull out of the refrigerator when it was time to eat.

I made a shopping list, then went to the store and picked up ingredients that weren't already in the house. However, when I got home I realized that I had forgotten to put sliced almonds on the list. I could have turned around and gone back to the store, but decided to investigate alternate methods.

My recipe called for a half cup of sliced almonds. We had a Costco-sized bag of whole almonds in the freezer, so I decided to find out if it was possible to convert whole almonds to sliced. Turns out that following this article, it was easy.

There were just a couple of steps: 

  1. Blanching - I poured boiling water over the almonds and let them sit for five minutes.

  2. Peeling - After soaking, I drained the almonds and let them cool off a little bit. The skin was really loose, and slipped right off.

  3. Slicing - I tried to slice the almonds horizontally, but it was too much work. My slices were thick and uneven. I wasn't trying to impress anyone, so I decided to sliver them vertically.

  4. Toasting - I let the almonds dry out, then toasted the slivers in a small frying pan until they became a nice light brown color.

Preparing the almonds turned out to be the hardest part of the recipe. I mixed them in with the greens, grains, dried cranberries, vinaigrette, and feta then called dinner made.

Five years ago today: My Friend The Frog

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Beating The (Temporary) Heat

Just a couple of days ago the weather was wet and lightweight winter coat chilly. Then overnight it turned into premature summer. Both yesterday and today the temperature got up into the mid-80 degree Fahrenheit. The heat will be short lived. Tonight storms are forecast to come through and tomorrow it will be ten degrees cooler. 

Hubby Tony is gone this weekend, so I was the one who got to make all the house decisions. I could have turned on the air conditioner, but I was enjoying the outside sounds so much I decided to see if I could make it without artificial cooling.

Yesterday I wasn't home much. In the evening I turned on the ceiling fan in the living area, and by bedtime things had cooled off enough that using that ceiling fan on low speed made it the perfect temperature for sleeping. Today the television meteorologist said that it was going to get windier as the day went on, so I did all my outside things mid-morning. When I came home I opened up every window to get a cross breeze going. All afternoon I moved slowly, did little physical work, and drank extra liquids.

I found out that sitting on the upholstered couch was hot (unless you're Jackson the Cat). My body preferred wooden chairs.

After dinner I left the house to meet some friends. I triple verified that the forecasted rain wasn't starting until the middle of the night, then left the windows open. By the time I got back again things had cooled off. It should be another comfortable night.

Five years ago: Mid-Spring Thoughts

Thursday, April 21, 2022

New To Me Nitro

Yesterday Hubby Tony and I went on a day-long bus tour sponsored by the community college. The tour was called Taste of the Neighborhoods, and made stops at a Mexican bakery, a Greek restaurant, an Italian grocery store, and an ice cream shop with a unique method of making their product. They used liquid nitrogen! 

The process was new to me. Here's a video from our local Higher Education Channel that explains it:

 

Basically, the nitrogen is so cold (-321 degrees Fahrenheit) that the ice cream base flash freezes. They have to use a blow torch to soften it enough to scoop. 

The shop usually makes each batch to order, but with the size of our group they did it in bulk. We had a choice of one of four basic flavors. First, an associate poured base into a deep metal bowl and added flavorings. He set the bowl on a stand mixer, turned it on, then picked up a nitrogen canister and hit the liquid with a blast. Immediately steam poured around and on top of the bowl. The associate let the mixer run for a short while, then picked up the bowl and hit the bottom with a short blast from a blow torch. Someone else took the bowl over to the end of the counter, scooped it into containers, and served it up. 

Because the freezing was so fast, the ice cram was smoother and silkier, with very small ice crystals. I thought it was a lot like frozen custard. It didn't take me long to make the scoop disappear.

Five years ago today: Aves Aperture (Part 2)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Sometimes Simple Is Best

This was today's thought from my page-a-day calendar. It only takes a few words to convey the most important concepts.

How did you use your super power today?

 Five years ago today: Busy, Busy, Busy

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter 2022

Hubby Tony and I had a lovely, relaxing Easter weekend. Yesterday we got together for lunch with extended family members we haven't seen in person for several years. For dinner we walked to a nearby Chinese restaurant, and later in the evening attended our church's Easter Vigil. This morning we slept in. After breakfast we leisurely read the paper, then took a mid-morning walk before the forecasted afternoon rain.  Son Donald came over for dinner. 

With only three people eating I didn't want to make a ham and have a ton left over. When I learned that the temperature was going to be in the low 50s Fahrenheit, I started thinking of nice warm comfort foods. I ended up making Ina Garten's Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables, adding French bread and a simple green salad. 

The lamb made the dish decadent enough to feel holiday special, but the warm, savory sauce was perfect on a gloomy day. Ina's recipe called for three pounds of lamb, but because of the size of the packages at the store I used 2 1/2 pounds, and added roasted brown mushrooms to bulk the dish up. No one complained. There was enough stew left over that dinner is covered for tomorrow night and I was able to send some home with Donald.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

A Happy Accident

Last night Hubby Tony was searching for information about a volunteer project he's working on. I've been involved with the same organization in the past and thought I might have what he was looking for in one of my email folders. Unfortunately, I couldn't help him out, but I did find this powerful poem that I had saved back in November 2006.

I tried to find the author, but my search was unsuccessful. If you know, please pass the information on so I can give them credit.

BE THANKFUL 

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. 
If you did, what would there be to look forward to? 
Be thankful when you don’t know something, 
for it gives you the opportunity to learn. 
 
Be thankful for the difficult times. 
During those times, you grow. 
Be thankful for your limitations, 
   because they give you opportunities for improvement. 
Be thankful for each new challenge, 
because it will build your strength and character
 
Be thankful for your mistakes. 
They will teach you valuable lessons. 
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, 
because it means you’ve made a difference. 
 
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. 
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who 
are also thankful for the setbacks. 
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. 
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, 
and they can become your blessings. 
 
Author unknown

 Five years ago today: An Easter Adventure

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Rhinorrhea

Last night I was getting ready to go to a meeting when I realized that my sinuses were full and my nose was drippy. I figured it was spring allergies and popped a pill on my way out the door.  

The allergy pill usually starts working within 20 minutes. However, this time it didn't. My nose and sinuses were miserable all night long, and I left immediately after the meeting instead of staying for the socialization part. By the time I went to bed I realized my issue was more than allergies. Based on the symptoms it was probably a big, honking cold. 

Before I went to bed I found my Neti pot, used it, and took a decongestant, but I still had a miserable night. In the morning, after a hot shower I decided to make sure that my diagnosis was correct by giving myself a Covid test. As I suspected it would, the test came up negative, so I used the Neti pot, took another decongestant, and got on with my day. 

The Mayo Clinic says that adults usually have two or three colds each year, but I haven't had one since the fall of 2020. This one had all the classic symptoms--a punk feeling, a constant clear runny nose, slight sore throat, watery eyes, congestion, and sneezing. If I had a dollar for each time I blew my nose I would be able to take a nice vacation down the line. I'm sure Hubby Tony got tired of listening to the noise.

I laid around the house as much as possible, but when I had to be around people I made sure to wear a mask so I wouldn't spread my germs. I chugged warm water (which kept me running to the bathroom). When I went down to the basement with some trash I rubbed hand sanitizer on the doorknob so someone else wouldn't pick up my germs.

In my experience it takes about a week for a cold to go away, but I'm going to do my best to hurry this one along.Tonight when I go to bed I'll use the Neti pot, rub some Vick's on my chest, take a decongestant, and hope for the best.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A Sign Of Things To Come?

I had a couple of stops to make today. One of them was mailing a package at a post office.

When I entered the post office three windows were open. Two of them had customers; the clerk at the unoccupied one motioned me down to hers. As she went through her spiel I kept thinking something was different. The whole area around her work station looked brighter and more open. Then I realized that this window did not have a plexiglass shield in front of it. something I haven't seen for almost two years.

St. Louis County's mask mandate expired in late February, and the City of St. Louis followed suit in early March. Was this no-plastic barrier workstation another sign of things loosening up? The clerk and I did not discuss the change, but I wondered if she had an opinion about the matter. The National Institutes of Health recommends the use of shields, but some think having a barrier makes things worse

As things continue to open up I wonder if plexiglass-free workplaces are the wave of the future, or if there will be choices.

Five years ago: Aves Aperture

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Ten Times Ten

Today is the 100th day of the year. I spent some time finding different ways to celebrate it.

  • The day started out chilly, and when I left the house at 10:00 to make a Costco run and before church I put on a lightweight jacket. By the time I came out of church a couple of hours later it was warm enough to ditch the jacket. By mid-afternoon I had traded my jeans for shorts. The first pair I grabbed from the drawer fit back in the fall, but today I could only get the zipper up halfway.  After dinner, I measured out one cup (100 calories) worth of grapes for dessert.
  • I've been trying to increase my balance by standing on one leg. My personal best is about 20 seconds, but I set a timer for 100 seconds and alternated from right to left leg until the timer went off.
  • I checked in on the Doomsday Clock, which is still set at 100 seconds.
  • I cranked up the song "100 Days, 100 Nights" by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and danced around the room.

Five years ago today: Raise A Glass

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Fermentation Fun

Starting back in 2012 I made sauerkraut on a pretty regular basis. However, when we moved to our condo the equipment didn't make it upstairs from the storage unit, mainly because he new smaller kitchen doesn't have a good place to keep a crock of fermenting cabbage for the seven to ten days it takes. 

 For my birthday back in January Son Donald gifted me with a fermentation and storage container. I didn't even know something like it existed, but now I don't know what I did without it

The container has an exterior locking lid to help keep the sauerkraut smell contained, and an inner vacuum lid to provide an anaerobic environment. The interior lid has a small plug in the middle that you can open to let out accumulated gasses.

Since receiving my gift I've started made sauerkraut on a regular basis again. The ingredients couldn't be easier-a head of cabbage and some kosher or pickling salt (because the iodine in table salt is a problem for fermentation.) Using a food processor, the job takes about 20 minutes from starting to closing the lid.

The first job is to shred the head of cabbage. Next, I weigh it, add a tablespoon of salt for each 800 grams of cabbage, and massage the two together until the cabbage starts breaking down. Once the cabbage is exuding liquid I pour it into the container.

Sometimes the cabbage is dry and doesn't produce enough liquid. If that happens I mix up a salt/water brine and pour it into the container. The next step is to press the layer of cabbage down with the vacuum seal lid, close the plug, and clip the top lid in place.

Depending on the ambient room temperature it will take somewhere between seven and ten days for the sauerkraut to be done. I'm impatient, so every day I take off the top lid to check on the progress. At the beginning it tastes like raw, oversalted cabbage. As the cabbage shreds turned from green to yellow, the taste changes from raw to 'krauty'. When a taste test decrees the sauerkraut is done I scoop the sauerkraut into a couple of repurposed salsa jars and move it to the refrigerator. 

This sauerkraut is good straight up or as a side dish, but if it gets too hot the probiotic cultures are killed so I take the jar out several hours before a meal so it can come to room temperature. 

Sauerkraut with apple pork sausage link and sweet potato oven fries    

Five years ago: A Single Letter Can Make All The Difference

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Moving Picture At The Movie Theater

Last week a woman I know from church sent an email to several people, asking if we would be interested in attending a preview of Father Stu.  (The invitation came thanks to her brother, who works in the movie promotion business.)  The movie had a couple of big names in it. Mark Wahlberg stars as Father Stu, and Mel Gibson co-stars as his father. Neither Hubby Tony or I had been to a movie preview. I quickly responded and said we would be there.

Then I did some research. I found out that the movie is based on the true story of Stuart Long, who was an amateur boxer before becoming a priest. After an injury ended his boxing career he moved to Hollywood, worked in a grocery store, and had a few on-screen bit performances. He became infatuated with a Catholic woman, began going to church to impress her, and was ultimately baptized. After a horrible motorcycle accident he realized that he wanted to be a priest. Church officials were skeptical, but Stu ultimately entered the seminary. He was diagnosed with an incurable muscle disorder, and died in 2014 four years after he was ordained.

All day long I looked forward to the night's entertainment. In the end there were eleven people in our group. We gathered in the theater lobby a half hour before the film started. We told the ticket taker what we were there for. She directed us around the corner, where we stood in a line of people waiting to enter the theater. A woman came down the line, saying that for anti-piracy reasons we needed to completely power down our phones. When our group reached the head of the line our event organizer gave our names to the usher and he waved all of us through. By the time the movie started the theater was completely full. I put up the foot rest of the comfortable reclining seat and got ready to be entertained. 

I've seen quite a few movies with religious themes, but nothing quite like this one. To start with, it had an R rating (mainly for language-the expletives flowed, but the boxing and accident scenes were also a little intense). The plot was fast moving and uplifting. Stu's conversation story felt real, but in a couple of places the story felt preachy. The movie ended on an upbeat, feel good mode.

Father Stu is being released next weekend. On the way out there was a table where you could stop, scan a QR code, and leave a review, but I passed. It was late, and I was tired. However, I suspect the topic of the movie will come up in conversation as I interact with people and I will be able to speak well about it.

Five years ago: Cyberspace Blunders and Gaffes

Monday, April 4, 2022

A Notable Note

The first Monday of each month Hubby Tony and I volunteer at our parish office to help count the Sunday collection. Our team of four people opens the bags from each mass and dumps the contents into a big pile. That pile is divided into cash, loose checks, and envelopes; the envelopes are further divided into type. Each person takes a category, counts it, then records the information on a sheet. At the end the information from the sheets is transferred to a computer spreadsheet.

For the most part it's routine work. However, today there was a note attached to a folded up dollar bill that made the task a little more memorable.

(In case you can't read it, the note says "Thank you for teaching us so much about God")

I'm not sure who the 'you' the note refers to is, but I sent my photo to the money counting coordinator so she could forward it to the pastor if she thought it would be appropriate.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Collecting Perfect Pieces

Some people enjoy shopping for furniture by walking into a store and buying a complete coordinating set. I'm not one of them.

I'm sure you remember the story of our new loveseats, which led to the need for a square side table. Then the  Queen Anne cherry finish table on the other side didn't mesh. Several weeks later I bought a mid century modern table at an antique mall. Its color was more in line with what I wanted, but I knew that the style made it a temporary substitute.

Nice, but not right

The first night I used it, I discovered that the bottom tier of the table was too low for me to reach over to set a cup on it. I got used to using just the small upper tier, but made an effort to stop by thrift stores, antique malls, and estate sales whenever I had the time. 

Last week I was wending my way through the furniture department of a thrift store and saw something that was the right color and chunky style I was looking for. A quick measure told me that it was the right height, and close enough to the targets for width and length. When I picked it up it was heavy and obviously real wood. The store had labelled as a bookcase, but it looked like my new table to me.

'Right' table (on the left)

 The last piece of the project is a coffee table, then that section of the room will be complete.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Happy Retirement Anniversary

At the end of March 2021 Hubby Tony hung up his hat at work. Since that time he has kept himself busy with fun activities and volunteer tasks. A while back we were talking about why people celebrate birthdays and wedding anniversaries but not retirements. The conversation didn't go very far, and I suspect Tony forgot about it. However, the topic kept percolated in the back of my mind and I decided to do something about it.

I went to the dollar store and looked at their selection of both retirement and wedding anniversary cards. I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for (imagine that!), but purchased an anniversary card with a simple verse inside. At home I used Word to design a graphic, put a text box inside of it, then printed it out and glued it to the card. I added an arrow to show where the word should go.
What do you give someone who is commemorating the transition to the next act of their life? Last week I found out that Tony was getting tired of carrying his big set of keys (car fob, building door, and unit door) around when he went walking. It was a simple task to go to have an extra set of house keys made. I slid the keys inside the card and sealed it up.

My plan was to give Tony his card after I finished with my morning tasks. However, when he came home from coffee with his friends he said that the topic of his retirement had come up. I pulled out the envelope for him to open before I left. 

And because every celebration is better with food, while I was out I got a small carry out pizza, which  made a great addition to lunch.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Date Day

Today was the pick weather day of the week, and Hubby Tony and I decided to plan a date. I did some research, presented Tony with some options, and he chose Shaw Nature Reserve. The last time we had been there was more than ten years ago. Time flies.

We got on the road mid-morning, drove west through the Ozark foothills on Interstate 44, and arrived at the Reserve a half hour later. The first stop was the Visitor's Center to get out tickets scanned and receive a token to get the car through the gate. After entering the park proper we followed the road to the right. 

Hundreds of clumps of daffodils were blooming, providing cheery splashes of color. Not much else was, but it was still lovely to walk through the restored prairie, forest, bluff, and river bank areas. The spring peepers we heard outnumbered the people we saw.

Some of the prairie area showed signs of having been burned in the fall, and I made a mental note to try and come back later in the year to compare that section to the other parts. Shortly after starting our walk we came across a tall fence with a large gate, with an explanation of why it was there.

 During our two hour visit the weather was quite the roller coaster. We experienced:
  • Overcast skies (Including some impressive rolling clouds.)
  • A stiff breeze (I zipped my jacket up all the way and wished I had a scarf for my neck.)
  • A light drizzle (Twice. Once for less than five minutes when we left the visitor's center. The second was when we stopped at a pavilion to use the rest room. It lasted for ten minutes, and we took the opportunity to eat the food we brought.)
  • Sunshine (I took off my jacket and stuff it in my day pack.)
  • Sunshine and light drizzle (This time the drizzle lasted for less than a minute. Unfortunately, it did not lead to an obvious rainbow)

By the time we made it back to the car we could cross "getting steps for the day" off our lists. Tony had researched coffee shops we would pass on the way home, and he suggested one in the city of Pacific. Instead of directing us to the Interstate, Google Maps suggested we take Historic Route 66. The section we drove on was pretty industrial looking, but I had fun trying to figure out how things might have been different 70 years ago.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Prayer for Ukraine

Yesterday was sunny but brisk; a perfect day to be outside. Hubby Tony and I decided to go to the Botanical Garden and see what was blooming. They're constructing a new visitor's center and have half of the parking lot blocked off. Instead of going to the auxiliary lot and getting on a shuttle bus, we went the opposite direction. Tony parked close to St. Margaret of Scotland church, where we had decided to go to Mass. We walked to the garden, through the garden, and back, which made my step counter proud.

Mass began in a normal fashion, but after the petitions the priest invited everyone to sit down. As a group we recited the prayer that Pope Francis used on March 25th when he consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The congregation followed the prayer up with the singing of "God the Great One! Prayer for Ukraine" (sometimes referred to as the Ukrainian National Spiritual Anthem).

The cantor did a beautiful job of leading the singing. I was unfamiliar with the song and stumbled over the words. My version in English was a poor substitute for the one the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performed on the Cold Open of Saturday Night Live on February 26th.

 Five years ago: Around The World In Six Blocks

Thursday, March 24, 2022

What's The Real Cause Of The Problem?

It's been raining off and on for three days, and today was forecast to feel more like late winter than early spring. This morning I had a task to take care of at a big box hardware store halfway across town. Hubby Tony came with me; we combined my activity with walking up and down the aisles to get in some steps.

I had promised him lunch out, but my task went so quickly it was long before before any lunch restaurant would open. We modified our plans, deciding to head most of the way home and grab food from a carry out Chinese place, but on the highway I came up with another idea. There's a great Indian restaurant close to the house. We've been there a couple of times for dinner, but never during the middle of the day. Tony did a quick search to verify the place was open and we headed in that direction.

The restaurant calls their early specials a 'lunch box', which includes small portions of six different entrees, rice, and naan. Tony and I each ordered one. The entrees arrived on large round metal plates that had a shallow indentation for each item. Our waiter also delivered a metal bowl of wonderfully-seasoned basmati rice and a basket holding a large buttered naan cut into four pieces. 

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I started eating, and didn't stop until every morsel of food on the plate was gone (and the sauces completely sopped up). Halfway through the meal the waiter came by, saw the empty bread basket, and asked if we needed more. I said we did. 

If anything the second naan was even chewier and fluffier than the first. It also disappeared.

At the end of the meal the waiter asked if we were interested in dessert, but both Tony and I were full. We paid the bill and left. A half hour later I had a nasty case of indigestion. None of the food was overly spicy, and I blamed the issue on overeating.

Mid-afternoon I had a chiropractor appointment. The doctor was in a chatty mood, so I was telling him about my great meal and subsequent digestion issues. He told me that it was because I had eaten the food in the wrong order.

He explained, and I tried to follow. I learned that an Indian health system called Ayurveda says that food should be eaten mindfully and in a specific order. He went on to say that nowadays most Indian restaurants were Westernized and no longer follow the concept. At that point he realized that his next patient was there and ended the discussion.

I came home and tried to find out more about the topic and found out that there were six basic tastes that should be incorporated into each meal. A ideal Ayurvedic meal starts with sweet foods. followed by salty, then sour foods. Next comes pungent, astringent, and bitter items.

I know better than to think that I'll completely revise my diet according to these new rules, but I'll play with them when I remember. What's the worst that could happen?

Five years ago: Fancy That