Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Tossing Out Old Food

 November 29th is the 333rd day of the year, and 32 days left until the end of the year. It is also (according to the National Today website) Throw Out Your Leftovers Day.

I hate to waste money by letting food go to waste, so Hubby Tony and I do a good job of monitoring what's in the refrigerator and using it up quickly. However, despite our diligence, this week we were unable to get rid of all of the Jello salad from Thanksgiving. Not only was the dish past its prime, it was taking up primo shelf space in the refrigerator.

I removed the container out of the refrigerator and took a good look at the contents before tossing them down the garbage disposal. There was no sign of mold, but the Jello was no longer a vibrant color, and there was a puddle of liquid that had exuded into the empty part of the pan. Time for the dish to go.

But hiding behind the jello salad I found a container of pineapple juice. When Tony announced he was taking the last of the muffins to have with his lunch I used that pineapple juice to make a new batch. This time it was leftovers for the win!

Five years ago: It Was Nice While It Lasted

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Am I The Only One Who Finds Interesting Things In Bathrooms?

A collection of offbeat items I've seen in the past month or so while using a public bathroom.

  • It's interesting to see the variations on the word bathroom, and if it was in any other room it would be a great conversation starter.

  • I thought this was a great, humorous way to get a point across:

  • This bathroom was so small my elbows could touch the wall on either side, and the petite sink was well less than a foot wide.

Five years ago: Roast Your Own

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Dispensing Vittles

It's now been two weeks since I started a job as a parish cook, and I'm starting to settle into a routine.

  • On Sunday morning the clergy (two priests, two deacons, and two seminarians) come for breakfast between masses. They've seemed to enjoy the bacon and scrambled eggs with biscuits and sweet rolls, and the sheet pan pancakes with sausage, each accompanied by fruit.
  • Monday night is a 'nice' meal for the two priests....a hunk of meat, a carbohydrate, vegetables, and dessert.
  • Wednesday 10-12 staff members come for lunch. I've served a ravioli lasagna casserole and pork chop ccacciatore with linguine. Both included a salad, bread, and dessert.

I have the menus planned and the basics purchased ahead of time, but on the way to each shift I stop by the grocery store to pick up perishables and look for things on sale that I can incorporate. (For example, last Sunday I found packages of pork chops for $2 each, and today there were clamshells of salad greens for $1.)

When I arrive in the kitchen I organize my ingredients and start cooking. The large island also does double duty as a buffet serving line. Each group is wonderful about scraping off their plates and stacking them on the countertop by the dishwasher, so clean up is easy.

Just like at my house, there's dead time while dishes are cooking. During that time I keep on top of washing the cookware. I've also organized the cabinets, and I spend time researching recipes for future meals.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Thanks For Listening

A month ago I woke up with a nasty sore throat, which only got worse as the day went on. For the next 48 hours I tried to manage the symptoms, but on the second night those symptoms kept me from sleeping and the next morning I went to an urgent care. After listening to my woes, the nurse practitioner suggested testing for a couple of different things. All came back negative, so she told me I had a virus that would resolve itself in several days.

That wasn't the information I wanted to hear, but she was right. After dosing myself with aspirin, taking long steamy showers, sucking on cough drops, and using Vick's Vaporub at bedtime the sore throat finally disappeared.

Fast forward to this week, when I got a bill for a couple of hundred dollars from the hospital affiliated with the urgent care center. The next day I got a letter from the hospital, which suggested that the insurance company had misunderstood their coding and ended up denying part of the claim. The letter went on to say they had filed an appeal in my behalf. However, it suggested I also contact the insurance company myself and explain the situation.

This morning I called the number on the back of my insurance card and navigated the automated system until I reached a friendly-sounding associate whose first language was obviously English. She asked for my name. I told her it was Kathy, then added [My Legal First Name] and [Last Name]. The associate had great observational skills, because for the rest of the call she called me Kathy. At the end of the call I thanked her for the treatment. She responded by saying that's what I asked to be called, and as a Barbara who preferred Barb she understood how important a name was.

Five years ago today: Random Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Gunk Begone

I suspect I'm not the only one who eats and drinks while sitting at the computer. This afternoon I was finishing off a muffin while composing an email. One side of the muffin broke off and fell right on top of my keyboard, scattering crumbs all over. When I picked up the keyboard to shake off those crumbs I realized just how dirty the whole thing was, and decided it was time for a good deep cleaning.

Mine wasn't quite this bad (thank goodness)! Wikimedia

Following the suggestions in the article How to Clean Your Keyboard I gathered my supplies-an old toothbrush, a can of compressed air, a glasses-cleaning microfiber cloth, some cotton swabs, and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol.

Instead of going to all of the effort of powering down my computer, I just carried my wireless keyboard halfway across the house to the master bathroom. I turned it upside down and gave it another shake, then used the toothbrush to brush up and down the rows to remove the debris.

I tried to use the compressed air but found out the can was empty. Plan B, going over everything with the toothbrush again took a little longer but worked just as well. It was a little distressing to see just how much debris was caught between the keys. When I was done tiny piles of detritius had accumulated at the end of each of the rows (mainly pieces of cat hair and dust). Without canned air to get rid of the mess I got an tweezer and carefully removed it. 

When that step was done I dampened a cotton swab with water and cleaned around each key. That didn't take care of all of the crud, so I repeated the process with alcohol. I took the keyboard back to the office. When I started typing I discovered that some of the keys still felt a little sticky, so I repeated the cleaning process one more time.

Now I can still see some dust in between keys, but from my reading it sounds like the only way to take care of that issue is to pop the keys off and clean underneath them. I'm not ready for that level of commitment; instead I'll just be satisfied that things are much neater then they used to be.

Five years ago: Farcical

Friday, November 18, 2022

Funnies For Friday

  • I'm at the age where I have to make a noise when I bend over. It's the law. 
  • My IQ test results just came in and I'm really relieved. Thank God it's negative. 
  • Today I was checked by Dr. B. Gee. I hope I will be stayin' alive. 
  • My friend stopped by to tell me he had just been diagnosed as Dyslexic. Said he was going home to write it in his dairy. 
  • When we were young, we would compare liquor and women. Now we compare statins. 
  • Smoking will kill you... Bacon will kill you... But smoking bacon will cure it. 
  • I'm an antisocial-psychic. I can see ahead of time that I won't want to talk to you. 
  • Why did the blond fail her blood test? She didn't study! 
  • Just called to make an appointment with a psychic but she told me that I don't show up. 
  • I just found out I'm colorblind. The diagnosis came completely out of the purple. 
  • Working at a hospital is the worst cause you can't call in sick. You: "Yeah, I can't come in today, I'm sick." Boss: "Come on in, we'll check you out." 
  • I'll be ill if you remove the apostrophe. 
  • Doctor: Your body has run out of magnesium. Patient: 0mg! 
  • Claustrophobic people are more productive thinking out of the box. 
  • If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea... does that mean that one enjoys it? 
  • My dad died when we couldn't remember his blood type. As he died, he kept insisting for us to "be positive," but it's hard without him. 
  • I injured my back in Egypt and had to see a Cairopractor
Five years ago: Wonderful World Places

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Squash Samples

The other day I was browsing through the produce department of the Asian market. Next to the bin of Japanese eggplant I saw a strange green item that looked like like a lumpy, unripe pear. 


The sign on the shelf told me it was chayote. I did a quick Google search, and found out chayote was a type of summer squash. It was on sale for only 99 cents a pound, so a cheap experiment if Hubby Tony and I ended up not liking it. I selected two squash, and put them in my basket.

Back at home, I did some more research to figure out the best way to prepare my new purchase. A video from America's Test Kitchen offered five suggestions--stir fried, sauteed, raw, pickled, and with sugar and salt. After mulling over the options, I decided to prepare each squash differently so Tony and I could compare and contrast.

I cut each squash into thin slices, then tossed the first one with a mixture of sugar and salt and let it set for 10 minutes for the flavors to meld. (The video suggested 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt for a 12-ounce squash. Mine was closer to eight ounces, so I downsized accordingly.) I sauteed the other one with onion, then seasoned it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

At dinnertime Tony heated up the planned leftovers and set them on the table. I added the bowls of squash, and we took spoonfuls of each. The sweet and salty chayote was crunchy and slightly sweet. It tasted a little bit like a cucumber and the texture was similar to jicama. The sauteed one was softer, but still had a nice bite. 

By the time the meal was over there was no squash left.

Five years ago: Conspicuously Concealed

Monday, November 14, 2022

It's Not All About Me

Yesterday we received a text from California that our family had increased by one member with the birth of a healthy baby boy. Of course, Hubby Tony and I are over the moon.

I asked the parents if we could share their good news. They answered that we could, but since neither one of them use social media they preferred it be shared in person, text, or email. So, respecting their wishes, I sent the birth photo only to their aunts and one friend. I am not adding it here, or posting anything to Facebook. I will not get dozens of Comments, Likes, and Loves. I think my ego can handle it.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Fickle Forecasts

When I left the house on Thursday, I wore a three-quarter sleeve length light cotton shirt, cropped jeans, and sandals.

It was lovely all day--maybe even a little too warm for the heavy denim in the mid-afternoon. When Hubby Tony and I went to bed I left the window on my side cracked open so I could enjoy the outside sounds. 

However, just before dawn a cold front came through. 

When I left the house yesterday, my lightweight winter jacket was in order. The cropped jeans were replaced by full length ones, and sturdier shoes covered up my tootsies.

The temperature started out at about 40 degrees, but it dropped during the day. When Tony and I went out to run some errands after dinner that lightweight winter jacket wasn't warm enough. I was glad we were only going a short distance from the car into the store.

When I leave the house today, I will put on the heavy winter coat, and wrap a scarf around my neck. Depending on if the sun comes out or stays behind the clouds I may also have to add gloves and an ear warmer.
Five years ago: More Than Just Veteran's Day

Wednesday, November 9, 2022


About a month ago a woman that I know from church posted on her Facebook wall that the parish she works at was looking for a part-time cook for the priests and staff.

I'm not sure what prompted me to respond inquiring about the hours, but I definitely wasn't thinking about myself. 

Later that day I got a personal message from her. She started by telling me she had been working as the receptionist at that parish's office for the past year, and went on to say that if I wanted more information about the job I could call the parish Director of Operations. I knew the man-both because one of his children was in elementary school with my youngest and he used to have that same job at my church. (As our chat conversation developed I also found out that the office administrative assistant also used to do that job at my church. Quite the connection there.)

Before that day I had no desire to have a job, but as I thought about it the prospect fascinated me. I like to cook, and getting paid to do it would be a nice bonus. It would also be a challenge to figure out the likes and dislikes of people who aren't related to me. The job was only six hours a week, so it was more like a side hustle. 

I talked with Hubby Tony and decided to call the Director of Operations. We chatted on the phone, then I discussed the whole subject over again with Tony. The next week I went to talk to the Director in person. I met the pastor, who seemed like a nice guy. I made sure they knew that I make multiple trips out of town to see the family. When they asked me if I was interested in the position I said I was. Paperwork was filled out and just like that I had something to do three days a week.

However, between the priests' schedule and my schedule it took until today to get the show on the road. This morning after breakfast I put on nicer clothes and got in the car to drive 15 minutes to the South County location. I turned in the last of my paperwork to the admin, received a key and charge cards to the local grocery stores, and got a temporary login to the timekeeping system. I talked to the administrator, pastor, and associate priest.  I rummaged through the kitchen and discovered it was well stocked with equipment and made a list of cooking basics that would need to be purchased.

The parish hasn't had a cook for the past seven years, so everyone is making up the job requirements as we go along. However, I know that in addition to doing grocery shopping as needed I will be providing a hot meal for the priests on Monday night, a lunch for the priests and staff on Wednesday, and for all the clerical staff Sunday morning in between masses.

The nice thing is that I'm doing this for fun. The pay will be an extra bonus, but if I decide the cook gig isn't for me, all I have to do is let them know and walk away.

Five years ago: Figure Of Scrutiny

Monday, November 7, 2022

A Little Personal Protest

Last week I got a voting reminder from the County Election Board that also included a sample ballot. There are a lot of things to weigh in on, including national, state, and county positions, amendments to the state constitution, and a couple of dozen judges retentions. It took me a couple of days, but eventually I researched everything and filled out sample ballot to take into the polling place.

Most of the positions and issues were easy for me to decide on, but there is one that has me stumped. In my opinion none of the candidates (Republican, Democrat, or third-party) are worthy of my support. After talking to a couple of people about the problem, I believe I will leave that spot blank.

I've never done that before, but the internet told me it's a valid option and even has a name. Undervoting, according to Wikipedia, is when "the number of distinct choices selected by a voter in a contest is less than the maximum number allowed for that contest, or when no selection is made for a single choice contest."

In the end my lack of a vote won't matter, but it will make me feel better.

Five years ago: National Saxophone Day

Friday, November 4, 2022

Always Something New To Taste

This weekend Hubby Tony and I are attending a business meeting for an organization. The meeting takes place at a hotel at Lake of the Ozarks, but there is also a Zoom option which requires laptops, cameras, projectors, and speakers. Last year I volunteered to house the equipment at my house, which requires me to arrive early with a trunk full of supplies.

Tony and I got on the road mid-morning. I had packed finger food lunches for both of us, which we pretty much ate while driving. However, for some reason the finger food lunch turned out not to be enough for either of us. When I stopped for gas outside Rolla, the marquee outside the convenience store had signs for both Stuckey's, and a place called Turbo Joe's.

Although a Stuckey's Pecan Log is always a great choice, the steam table on the other side of the building had a nice selection of fried foods. I was fascinated by the golf ball-sized orbs in the front row, which were labelled as  Boudin Balls. The associate told me they were a mix of sausage and rice, battered, and deep fried. Tony and I looked at each other and decided that an order of those balls would make a fine supplement to lunch.

The boudin balls were as good as they looked, similar to the to the interior of a stuffed pepper-soft but firm at the same time, and had a nice jalapeno kick.


 Later, Google told me that boudin was a type of Cajun pork sausage. Sometimes it includes pork liver and heart (but there was no taste of those in what I ate. Thank goodness).

Five years ago: Who's Your Cat Daddy?

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Just Say No

I'm a little late to the party, but I've decided to observe “NO”vember. For me, that means:

  • If someone asks me to do something, I will do my best not to feel uncomfortable if the answer to their request is No.
  • I will do my best to say No to food junk food that tastes good in the moment, but makes me feel horrible after the fact. 
  • I will also say No to places where I lose all my willpower (like the discounted Halloween candy aisle).
  • I will attempt to say No to procrastination, which means more real work and less social media scrolling and computer mah jong.
  • I will endeavor to say No to my negative self-talk, and remember to speak to myself the way I would a good friend.
  • I will also try to say No to comparing myself to other people.

What about you? If you were to participate in NO-vember, what would be on your list?

Five years ago: Abstracted

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Roasting In The Range

Remember my pre-Halloween pumpkin display? 

Now that the holiday is over, it's time to process those squash. Today I tackled the smaller kabocha (Japanese pumpkin). Partly because it was smaller and would take less time, and partly because yesterday I finished off the previous one.

I prepare a kabocha every couple of weeks, and have it down to a system.

  • Use a large knife to hack the squash into quarters.
  • Cut off the stem and blossom end
  • Remove the seeds and pulp
  • Cut the large pieces lengthwise into slices
  • Place the slices on a cookie sheet covered with a nonstick liner
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the flesh is soft
What do I do with the seeds? I'm glad you asked. Years ago when my boys were young they always wanted to roast the seeds of pumpkins. I was always underwhelmed at the results. Then I learned that if you simmer the seeds in salt water before baking, the saline taste permeates both the shell and the interior kernal. I follow the boiling and baking process from Bob's Red Mill, except I don't add any oil or additional seasoning to the seeds before baking them.

Sometimes when I cut open a pumpkin or squash the seeds are flat and limp, but today they were full and firm. I knew I would enjoy eating them when they were well-roasted. The procedure:

  • Remove the seeds from the pumpkin 'guts'
  • Rinse them well
  • Put the seeds in a pot with water to cover and salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, and simmer for ten minutes
  • Remove them from the water, and dry well with a towel (or put them on a towel to dry overnight)
  • Roast at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Stir them several times while they're baking

In the end I ended up with a cup of roasted seeds. Most of them made it to a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid to be eaten over the next few days.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Skeletons Everywhere

Happy Halloween!

Last week I was driving through a parking lot and saw something out of the corner of my eye. After I parked the car I walked back to check. The car was parked and had no driver, but it didn't look like the passenger was upset about sitting there.
A couple of days later Hubby Tony and I went to the Botanical Garden. I'm not sure what type of critter this is supposed to be, but the skeletons were having a good time with it.

And it looks like these skeletons are having a great time too.

Five years ago today: Knock, Knock....

Saturday, October 29, 2022


Last night Hubby Tony and I went to a funeral home visitation for an acquaintance from church, where we stood and chatted for a little over an hour. Even though I had worn comfortable shoes, as I walked out I realized that my feet were killing me.

Back at home, I figured out that the bursa on my ankle was the root cause of the foot distress. (I really hope the issue goes away soon. Doesn't "My bursitis is acting up again" sound like something an old person would say?

Before I went to bed I liberally rubbed Icy Hot all over the area, and put a sock on so it wouldn't rub off onto the sheet. When I woke up today things were improved but not perfect. After lunch I decided to do an Epsom salt soak. I don't have an official foot soak bowl. Instead, I followed the chiropractor's suggestion for keeping the water hot for a long time and brought the trusty red Igloo cooler up from the storage area.

I ran the faucet in the bathtub until the water was steamy, filled the cooler halfway, stuck my feet in, and got comfortable. Even with the cooler, because of the fall-like ambient air temperature the water only stayed hot for 15 minutes. However, that was enough. I dried off my feet and emptied out the water from the cooler. Then I cleaned and dried it out. 

Tony and I are going to an event tomorrow and need the cooler to keep our drinks chilled.

Five years ago today: Dueling Diagnoses

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Who's Got The Pumpkin?

Thanks to Facebook, this morning I learned that today was National Pumpkin Day, which I guess makes sense during this week's run-up to Halloween. 


Today I kept an eye out for interesting pumpkins. I didn't have to go far. The first one was right outside the condo building. 

One of the residents takes it upon herself to decorate the area around the front door. This summer the planters were filled with tall greenery and Creeping Jenny. When the weather started cooling off she swapped the greenery out for mums. Then one day small pumpkins joined the party. 

Yesterday there was heavy rain and a brisk wind. The leaves from the tree outside the building fell off in droves, covering the grass, sidewalk, and walkway. The lawn maintenance company will soon come and remove the layer of leaves. Until they do I'm being extra careful walking in the area.

The second vignette is right outside my condo's front door. 

The large one is, of course, pumpkin. The small one is a kabocha, sometimes called Japanese pumpkin. Although right now both squash are serving as a seasonal decoration, after October 31st they will be processed and cooked.

For the past month every grocery store I go into has a display of Halloween squash. At the full-service stores kabocha is priced as an 'exotic' (usually for about $3.50 a pound). However, I knew that the Asian market I frequent every couple of weeks sold them for a third of that price. Guess which store got my purchase?

Five years ago today: Eat The Whole Thing

Monday, October 24, 2022

Phenomenal Formation

Wikipedia says that "Tower Rock, also known as Grand Tower, is a rock formation and landmark island in the Mississippi River, in Brazeau Township, Perry County, Missouri". It normally looks like this: 


However, thanks to drought the river is at near record low water levels. This is what Hubby Tony and I saw when we visited it today:

Right now the island is more like a peninsula, with a land bridge connecting it to the shore. The phenomenon has had mentions on just about every news media outlet in the past week, and Tony and I decided to see the rare occurrence while we could.

Tower Rock is approximately two hours south from our house. Google Maps gave us two suggestions to get there. The more scenic route only took fifteen minutes more, so we chose that. We took the Jefferson Barracks bridge over the Mississippi River and went south on Route 3 (a beautiful scenic drive which is part of the Great River Road, although the river isn't visible) to Chester. There we crossed back over into Missouri and took a series of state and county roads until we got to the gravel road leading to the conservation area.

Halfway down the approximately one-mile gravel road traffic ground to a halt. Cars were parking wherever they could. Tony found a place and we joined the stream of people walking towards the river.

The Tower Rock Natural Area is run by the Conservation Department. Other than a very basic parking lot that looked like it would hold about a dozen cars, an identification sign, and a set of railroad tracks running along the river, the area is very natural. A woman who was leaving the area announced to no one in particular that if we went down to the far end the climb down was easier, so we did that. The limestone rock was eroded into layers, and moving from one to another was easy. Even though there were signs telling people not to climb the rock, some people were doing it anyway. I was content to walk around from one side of the land bridge to the other, and get within a couple of feet of the river. 

Getting back to the car was easy, but getting back to the main road wasn't. Too many cars had parked along the road, but one motivated driver played traffic cop until a path opened up and we followed a slow line of cars up the gravel. That same drought that dropped the river level also made for a lot of gravel dust, and eventually the car was covered in gray.

We chose to take the more direct Interstate route home The one stop was at a McDonald's for a bathroom break and coffee. 

Five years ago today: More Than Just Fried

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Golden Glow

My condominium building was constructed in the mid-1980s. Based on its size, I'm guessing the tree outside the front door was planted about the same time.

From the living room and office windows I enjoy seeing its bare branches of winter and the green leaves of the growing season. However, this time of year is my favorite. The leaves turn a beautiful yellow color, and in the afternoon when the sun shines through the leaves it gives the living room a golden glow.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Meteorological Ups And Downs

At this time of year the average high temperature for my area is 67° Fahrenheit, and the average low 48°.  However, this week Mother Nature is really confused. Earlier in the week we had well below normal temperatures, along with an overnight freeze. Yesterday and the weekend will be pushing 80°. The ups and downs make it hard to figure out what to wear. I'll use yesterday as an example. 

6:30 am-Rolled out of bed, and it was chilly. I put on jeans, but in anticipation of the nicer temperature later in the day I  dug into the back of my closet for a short sleeve shirt. That was too cold, so I added a fleece jacket. The last piece of the outfit was a pair of socks underneath my house sandals.

8:45 am-I got ready to leave the house for a meeting. Changed into my 'out of the house' jeans and tennis shoes. Grabbed a jeans jacket from the coat closet and slung a scarf around my neck before walking out the door.

9:15 am-Pulled into the meeting parking lot. Decided it was warm enough to leave the scarf in the car.

10:40 am-After the meeting I was glad there was nothing around my neck as I walked to the car.

11:00 am-Finished my first errand at the grocery store. Realized it was now too warm to have a jacket on, so took it off for the rest of the errands

12:00 pm-Back at home, changed into a pair of capris. Swapped out the tennis shoes for sandals, but left the socks on.

2:30 pm-Took a walk with Hubby Tony. It was beautiful in the shade, but a bit too warm in the sun.

3:30 pm-After the walk it was too hot for socks. Took them off and just used sandals.

5:00 pm-It was nice enough to eat dinner on the deck. However, about 5:20 the sun went behind the trees and it started getting chilly. Time to come in.

5:30 pm-Put socks back on.

6:00 pm-Changed back into jeans. Staged fleece jacket nearby on couch.

6:45-Put fleece jacket on.

10:00 pm-At bedtime the flannel sheets that were wonderful just two nights ago were much too warm. Ended up draping a lightweight sarong over my shoulders and went to sleep.

2 am-Woke up chilly. Pulled fleece sheet up and went back to sleep.

Five years ago: Eat Dessert First

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Break The Diet But Not The Bank

Tonight, after a healthy dinner (a soup of tom yum broth, napa cabbage, carrots, garbanzo beans, and brown rice with grapes for dessert) my stomach kept telling me it wasn't satisfied. I tried to ignore the messages, but when Hubby Tony said he was going to the grocery store for a couple of things I asked which one. 

One of the local chains (Schnucks) sells single slices of cake. That's where Tony was headed. I told him to bring me home the piece of cake with the most icing he could find, and he would get bonus points if it was an edge piece with swirly decorations on the side.

When Tony returned I rummaged through the bag as he hung up his jacket. He apologized that there were no edge pieces available, but thought that sprinkles would make up for it. I was impressed with both his choice and his shopping skills.

Five years ago today: Computer Generated Chirography

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

A Real Pain In The A(nkle)

For the most part my sprained ankle issues have resolved themselves, but the bony protrusion on the outer edge was still very painful and swollen. Two nights ago I was sitting on the floor organizing some items, and when I got up I accidentally smacked that protrusion against a chair. I was in agony for hours!

I've also had trouble finding shoes that didn't rub on the sore spot. My options were my trusty Birkenstock sandals (which weren't a great choice with the chilly mid-40 degree weather the past few days) or a pair of slip-ons that made my feet hurt because they didn't have good arch support. When my sore feet led to a sore lower back I knew it was time to get help. 

 Yesterday I called Dr. Chiropractor's office right after it opened and got an appointment for this morning. During the appointment he poked, prodded, and twisted the sore area, then told me my ankle bursa (a fluid-filled sac that cushions the bone when it moves) was inflamed. The common name for the condition was bursitis.

As a treatment, he suggested I soak my foot and ankle in Epsom salts and apply Icy Hot pain reliever at bedtime. Before I left the office, Dr. Chiropractor used a hand held massager to stimulate the area around the bursa, gave me a standard adjustment, then ended by using the massager on my back.

Later in the day I realized that the area already felt better. It didn't hurt unless I pressed directly on it. Hubby Tony and I took a walk, and I was able to move more freely than I had in weeks. Back at home I treated both feet to a soak and did preventive maintenance on the calluses and cuticles. When I was done both my ankle and my feet were happy.

Five years ago today: Dedicated For Data

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Perfect Poundage

This week I have to mail a  package to Alabama.

In preparation, today I boxed the item up and then used my kitchen scale to weigh it. The package was right on the border of being too heavy for First Class (which, according the Post Office website, is the best way to send something if it's 13 ounces or less. Otherwise the class isn't cost effective.) 

The handy USPS Retail Postage Price Calculator showed that I had multiple mailing options, but I needed the package to get there relatively quickly and decided that Priority was the best choice. As a bonus, the rate also comes with tracking and enough insurance to cover the cost of the item I was sending.

Priority pricing kicks in when a package is 14 ounces or more. I needed to add a little extra weight to get my box over the minimum.

Later in the day I was out in the neighborhood and walked past a place where the city recently replaced the sidewalk. As they do, when the job was finished the workers added new topsoil and grass seed in the area that had been dug up. Several pieces of the crushed stone base had worked their way up to the top of the soil. I brought home one of the pieces, slid it into my box, and weighed the whole thing again. Now the box was easily within the Priority class, but not excessively.

I wonder if the person receiving the box will wonder why there's a rock in there?

Five years ago: No Phone. No Problem?

Friday, October 14, 2022

There's Got To Be A Catch

One of the benefits of subscribing to Amazon Prime is getting free two-day shipping. If not, as long as the order totals $25 it will take five days for the package to arrive with no shipping fee.

If the items don’t add up to $25, there are sites (like FillerChecker.com and CheapFiller.com) where you can enter the amount you need for free shipping and get suggestions. Or you can search on the Amazon website for filler items under [price point of your choice]. 

For fun, I looked to see what was available for under one dollar. There were items from just about every department, but the vast majority of them did not qualify for free shipping. However, I'm sure the quality of the $0.01 ring was worth the $3.95 shipping cost :-)

 Five years ago: There's A Name For Everything!

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

What Do Long-Distance Grandparents Do?

Visit the grandchildren, of course!

Hubby Tony and I just returned from two weeks in California. Since the last trip was weighed heavily towards Son Tony's Central Valley family, this time we spent most of the time with Brian's family in the San Jose area. Brian was on a business trip for the first four days we were there, and DIL Nicole appreciated the extra adult hands.  The first weekend I got to see Grandson Jay's baseball game and have quality time with twins Ell and Dee. The second weekend was a 6th birthday party for Jay.

During the week in between, Tony and I picked up a rental car and tooled around the area. We never got farther than three hours away from Brian's, but we had a great time. First, we stopped in Morgan Hill for lunch and a little window shopping. We kept going, and that night we slept in Gilroy, the self-proclaimed Garlic Capital of the World.

The next day we walked around Gilroy's downtown area, looked at their historical buildings, had some great Mexican food, and indulged in a local specialty: 

Just a subtle garlic taste

On Wednesday we visited Mission San Juan Bautista (which still functions as a Catholic church) and the city around it.

San Juan Bautista-Wikipedia

After the Mission we headed towards the coast, jumped off the highway in Carmel for lunch, then drove farther up the coast to the Point Sur Light Station and State Historic Park. There we joined a group of people on a walking tour to the top of the hill, where we got to go into the light house and other buildings and learn about the history of the area.

From Point Sur we drove to Monterey, where we checked into the historic Monterey Hotel. We have already been to the Monterey Aquarium multiple times, so we spent Thursday looking at the city's beautiful architecture, strolling along the oceanfront trail, and meandering around Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf.

 Friday morning we checked out of the hotel. Our original plan was to take a scenic route home, but when we got a text from Brian that they needed some help with afternoon childcare we headed to their house in a more direct manner, arriving back shortly after lunch.

Five years ago: One Year Old (And Wonderful)

Monday, October 10, 2022

Bound And Ready To Go

I realized that I never told you about the resolution of my ankle woes.

The boot I received at the urgent care did the trick, but it was bulky, hard to move around in, and wouldn't allow me to drive. When I learned about a highly recommended compression brace I tried it out and never looked back.

The brace was a long elastic strap with a foot loop on one end and a big piece of Velcro on the other. The inside of the elastic had wavy silicone lines, which kept the whole thing in place.

To put it on, I stepped into the loop and stood on it to hold it in place, then started wrapping the strap (silicone side in) around my foot and ankle like an ace bandage. To secure the strap, I stuck the Velcro to the strap.

The wrap completely stabilized my ankle without being bulky. I could walk (albeit more slowly than normal), do things around the house, and even drive short distances. Yesterday I realized that my ankle was getting better and even took it off for an hour or so.

Five years ago: Mouse Control

Saturday, October 8, 2022

You Never Know

Sitting by the window of her room in the convent, Sister Barbara opened a letter from home one evening. Inside the letter was a $100 bill her parents had sent.

Sister Barbara smiled at the gesture. As she read the letter, she noticed a shabbily dressed stranger leaning against the lamp post below.

Quickly, she wrote, "Don't despair. Sister Barbara," on a piece of paper, wrapped the $100 bill in it, got the man's attention and tossed it out the window to him. The stranger picked it up, and with a puzzled expression and a tip of his hat, went off down the street.

The next day, Sister Barbara was told that a man was at her door, insisting on seeing her. She went down, and found the stranger waiting. Without a word, he handed her a huge wad of $100 bills.

"What's this?" she asked. "That's the $8,000 you have coming Sister," he replied. "‘Don't Despair’ paid 80-to-1."
Public Domain Vectors

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me

This afternoon I was low on energy and decided to take a quick nap. I set the timer on my phone for 20 minutes, removed my glasses, and stretched out on the bed. Just when I was getting comfortable I felt a fly crawling across my legs.


I covered my body with a sheet, reset the timer, and got comfortable again. The fly started crawling across my face. 


I grabbed a towel and swaddled my face so everything was covered but my nose and mouth. I reset the timer for a third time and got as comfortable as I could, given that darn near every part of my body was wrapped up. As I was drifting off to sleep I could hear the fly buzzing around my face, but that didn't bother me at all. As a matter of fact, I was happy to have thwarted its attempts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Taco, Taco, Taco

This morning my email had messages from Chipotle, Qdoba, and Uncle Julio's informing me that today was National Taco Day. Of course, each of the 'Mexican' restaurants invited me to come there and celebrate.

Instead, Hubby Tony and I searched out a taqueria that was so authentic we were the only non-Hispanic customers. The chips were crisp, the salsa was spicy, and the tacos were authentic.

Much better than any chain place.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Dressing For The Season?

Hubby Tony and I went to Mass at a different church this morning. As we settled into our pew I looked across the aisle and noticed an older woman dressed in a fascinating manner.

Except for the top half of her face, she was completely covered. On the bottom half she wore a flowing white cotton skirt long enough to touch the top of her tan ankle boots. On top, a white shawl was layered over an ecru-colored fleece top, with a green-and-white striped scarf draped around her neck.

From my seat I couldn't tell if the gloves she had on were cloth or plastic, but the large green hat was straw. The lower portion of her face was covered with a green mask. When she turned to the side I could see the center of the mask contained a large image of Jesus with his Sacred Heart.

On it's own the whole outfit was very interesting, but given that it is Ordinary Time (the stretch between Easter and Christmas) in the Catholic Church, and green is the liturgical color for the season, was it a coincidence that the woman chose the outfit, or did she dress for the season?

Five years ago: Designed For A Door

Friday, September 30, 2022

Translating Types Of Caffeine

I had this post ready to go for National Coffee Day yesterday, but I got caught up in self-care of my ankle and completely forgot. Please forgive my lateness, and enjoy

Do fancy coffee drinks confuse you? Have you ever wondered about the differences between lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites?

This No Nonsense Coffee Guide might help.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Gimme The Boot

My ankle adventure continues (even thought I wish it wouldn't.). 

Yesterday my house sandals worked like a charm on my out of the house adventure. My ankle was feeling better, and I really thought I had turned the corner. Last night, when I elevated my foot by propping it up on the couch one of the people I was hanging out with accidentally bumped into it. Immediately the area started hurting again. When I went to bed I had a horrible time finding a comfortable position, and while I tossed and turned I decided that today I would visit a doctor.

Right after breakfast I searched the insurance website for an in-network urgent care. I called shortly after they opened, and was able to make a midday appointment. At the urgent care the doctor evaluated my ankle, took some x-rays, and determined there was no fractures. (Thank goodness.) 

I left wearing an orthopedic boot, which I will use until the ankle improves.Five years ago: Volunteering Vegetable

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Felicitous Footwear

The sprained ankle that I got over the weekend is a tiny bit better, but it's not anywhere close to normal yet. Yesterday I stayed inside, kept the ankle wrapped, elevated my leg and regularly iced the offending spot. In the evening I treated it to a lovely Epsom Salts soak.

However, as much as I'd like to repeat the same process today life goes on. I have to leave the house and actually do some walking between a parking lot and my destination.

Because of some off and on plantar fasciitis issues I always wear something on my feet, even in the house. My current house shoes are plastic Birkenstock sandals. In the five months since I've brought the pair home they've never gone outside.  I keep a pair of old, ratty shoes by the door to change into as I walk out, and then immediately change back into the sandals when I return. That way I'm not bringing any type of dirt or germs.

This morning when I tried to put on my tennis shoes, the bruise on my ankle said that wasn't a good idea. It also didn't like the pair of sandals I tried. I realized that my only option is to give my house shoes their first taste of outside freedom and wear them on my adventure. I wonder if they will enjoy it, or be annoyed that their inside pampering days are over?

Five years ago today: Feels Like Fall

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sedentary And Sluggish

Over the weekend Hubby Tony and I were walking on a residential street without sidewalks. I wasn't paying enough attention to the road, stepped into a pothole, and ended up twisting my ankle. 

Since then I've tried to take it easy so I can get back to doing normal things. Tonight I was surfing the web and came across koalastothemax.com

The website opens with one large circle that fills the screen. There are no directions. If you move your mouse over the circle it divides into four smaller ones. Hover over one of those smaller circles and it will divide into four more. Keep going, and pretty soon the circles will get so small they'll reveal an image.

Five years ago: Monster Plant

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

He's Now A Happy Cat

Today I learned that September is Happy Cat Month, sponsored by the CATalyst Council to spread awareness about cat health and welfare. The council advocates for regular vet care and positive pet care practices.

The information was timely. You may remember that our house had a recent experience with vet care. Just a couple of weeks ago Jackson the Cat went to the vet and came home with a diagnosis of arthritis.

Hubby Tony and I have been diligent about giving Jackson his prescribed pain medicine on top of his food and injections of a drug to lubricate his joints. I've administered four shots now. The first time I was apprehensive about sticking a needle into his skin, but each time I've gotten more confident. Now I have it down to a system. I wait until Jackson is curled up on the bed or laying in the sun. When I'm confident he's not going anywhere I fill the syringe, grab a small section of his nape, part the hair so the skin is visible, insert the needle so it goes in between the skin and muscle, then push the plunger down. Jackson will give me a look, but then go right back to his nap.

Jackson is still an old guy, and doesn't have the pep he did when he was younger, but since we've started the medicine Tony and I have noticed that he's now spending less time sleeping under the bed and more inclined to wander around the house. Jackson also wants to spend more time with us. Both Tony and I have been the recipients of great head butts. Jackson's also grooming himself more. His fur has lost the dandruff-y look it had, and I don't have to comb out any hair mats.

Five years ago: September Summer

Monday, September 19, 2022

Spam, Scam, Or Something Else?

I have my email filters set to the highest level, which means that everything that doesn't come from someone in my contact list ends up in the Junk folder. Last night that Junk folder held a message with the subject line '2021 contribution report'. I almost deleted it with the rest of the spam, but something about this message felt different. I opened it, and saw that it was professionally written. No spelling or grammar issues.

The email contained a forwarded message, which came from a company asking for some information for their accountant to use for year-end purposes. The woman who sent it on to me copied the original sender in her reply, and said she was forwarding the request to someone who was working on the information.

Nothing about the message felt like a scam, but I know that con artists can be very tricky. The signature line of the woman who forwarded the message to me indicated she was a Methodist pastor. I searched for the name of the church, which was real. I also did a search of the company name in the original message, which gave me two options-a funeral home and a company that made granite monuments for cemeteries. Both made sense in this scenario. If someone was trying to pull a fast one over on me, I don't think they'd go to so much work.


Based on the information I learned I decided to contact the pastor and tell her the message had been misdirected. If things were revered, I would like to know that the intended recipient didn't get the information. An hour later I received another message from her, thanking me.

I love a story with a happy ending!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Little Boy and the Old Man

Said the little boy, ‘Sometimes I drop my spoon.’
Said the old man, ‘I do that too.’
The little boy whispered, ‘I wet my pants.’
‘I do that too,’ laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, ‘I often cry.’
The old man nodded, ‘So do I.’
‘But worst of all,’ said the boy,'it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.'
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
‘I know what you mean,’ said the little old man. 
    ~~Shel Silverstein~~

 Five years ago today: Tree Away

Friday, September 16, 2022

The Wonders Of Midwest Weather

This is so true!

Last weekend it was cool enough to open up the windows and enjoy the sounds of nature. For the first time in months I exchanged my shorts for jeans. Since then each day the temperature inched up a degree or two. The jeans turned into capris, and then back to shorts. The air conditioner went back on, and the sounds of nature were replaced by the hum of the fan.

By Tuesday, depending on what source you're using the temperature could break a record when it gets up to 97° F!

The weather is supposed to get back to normal again by next weekend, and the high temperatures will return to the mid-70° F. In my opinion the change can't come soon enough.

Five years ago today: Demonstration And Dissent

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Good Grain!

 Every Thursday afternoon I get an email from the Asian market by my house that lists their specials for the next week, and scan through it to see what I might like to buy. Some of the items are familiar. Others I didn't used to know but are now favorites thanks to taking a try on them. Some exotic produce costs more than I want to pay. Some products (like meat offal) would never jump into my basket.

Last week's email contained a photo of a box about the size of a pound of pasta. The caption called it freekeh. Its price was right, so I wanted to know more. Google told me that freekeh is a grain that's popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, made by smoking and removing the shells of green durum wheat grains that is a good source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Freekeh sounded like something I wanted to try, and I added it to my list. The next day I drove to the store to pick up some produce and the aforesaid grain. I had to walk up and down a couple of aisles before I found what I was looking for, but that didn't bother me at all; I enjoy wandering around there.

It took several days, but I finally got around to experimenting with my new purchase. I decided to make a main dish cold salad. Four four servings I cooked one cup of dry freekeh, fluffed it with a fork, and let it cool. While it was cooking I chopped four medium tomatoes and a half cup of Italian parsley, and minced two big cloves of garlic. I also drained and rinsed 3 cups of black beans. 

I added all the ingredients to large bowl, added a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and some salt/pepper to taste. After everything was combined I put it in the refrigerator for several hours.

Five years ago today: Travel Jewelry Roll