Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year To You!

 We had some great pizza for dinner, rang in the new year with sparkling apple juice and a replay of the fireworks and ball drop in Dubai, then started getting ready for bed. By the time 2023 officially kicks in I will be long abed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

What's Going On?

Thanks to the Local Norway Facebook page I learned a new word today. Romjul is the period between  Christmas and the end of the year where you lose all track of time and motivation.
The word is especially appropriate for people like me who have nothing scheduled. Romjul life is nothing but a series of deep questions, like:

  • Is it time for a real meal, or another between meal snack
  • Should I try to pretend that the between meal snack will offer some health benefits, or just have another handful of junk?
  • Should I take a mid-afternoon nap, and where should it be?

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Just Like Magic

A couple of months ago my first generation iPad (which had served me marvelously for years) lost some key abilities. Apps loaded sluggishly or not at all, and the battery needed to be charged almost every night.

I added new iPad to my Christmas list, with the clarification it didn't need to be the latest model, just newer than what I had. On Christmas morning I was thrilled to open up a box containing exactly what I wanted. My new toy does everything I need it to do in a timely manner, and all my missing functionality is back.

Setting up the new device was amazingly easy, thanks to the wonders of Apple Air Drop. My original tablet didn't have that ability, but my iPhone does. All I had to do was bring the phone close enough to the new iPad and wait a few minutes... just like magic all of the correct apps showed up. Five years ago today: A List To Live By

Friday, December 23, 2022

Tannenbaum Times Two

Hubby Tony and I had talked about getting a new artificial tree this year, but when I had to quarantine right after Thanksgiving I figured the task wouldn't get done this year. However, Tony took on the job of finding just the right model. The one he came home with is the perfect height and width. It has three options for lights-white, colored, and fading back and forth between the other two. I'm not a big fan of the last alternative, so each night we decide what we want the corner of the living room to look like.

I thought I had heard every Christmas song out there, but the one piped in at Macy's this afternoon was new to me. I liked it.

Five years ago today: I Love You. Do You Love Me?

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

To all of my neighbors.....

I don’t mean to be a Grinch. However....

To those of you who are placing Christmas lights/decorations in your yards, would you please avoid anything that has red or blue flashing lights together? Every time I come around the corner, I think it's the police. 

I have to brake hard,

Toss my margarita out the window,

Fasten my seat belt,
Throw my phone on the floor, 

Turn my radio down,

And push the gun under the seat.

All while trying to drive.

It's just too much drama, even for Christmas. Thank you for your co-operation and understanding.

Five years ago today: It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Tis The Season To Be Busy

On Thursday the temperature is supposed to drop (with a prediction of close to zero degrees Fahrenheit) and snow will fall (depending on which source you check with, somewhere between one and five inches.) That's gotten everyone in a frenzy. Add that to the almost-Christmas furor and things were crazy out there today.

My first commitment was a chiropractor appointment. I left wearing my heavy winter coat, and was glad I did. The person ahead of me was having some issues. I heard the doctor diagnosing and giving advice, and his appointment ended up taking twice as long as a normal adjustment would. I always appreciate when the doctor does the same thing for me, but today the added waiting was an annoyance.

When I got home Hubby Tony and I went out to run some errands, one of which was to pick up some extra Christmas presents. This morning there was a gift bag hung on our condo door, which held a miniature loaf of banana bread and a small container of cookies from a downstairs neighbor. It seems like when one neighbor starts gifting others reciprocate, so we wanted to make sure we were ready.

We walked through several stores, debating between cookies decorated by special needs workers, chocolates, and specialty popcorn. In the end the four-pack of chocolate truffles won, and that task crossed off the list. We also popped into the office supply store and post office before starting a circuitous route back home.

Our next to last stop was at Sam's Club, where I realized I was feeling hungry and grumpy. We grabbed our items and headed toward the checkout, where the lines were long. I left Tony to pay and headed to the cafe area, where I ordered a piece of pizza for us to share. While waiting, I  chatted with the lady standing in line behind me. She was upbeat and energetic, and I felt her energy rubbing off on me.

On the way home traffic was so bad that Tony passed on his last stop, the bank. When we arrived back at the condo Jackson the Cat was waiting for his lunch, which he pointed out was being served late. I finished my own lunch and had a cup of coffee, then decided to walk up to the bank.

In preparation I moved items from my large purse to a wallet-sized one. By this time it had warmed up enough that the lightweight winter coat was all I needed. The walk was lovely. When I passed the mall exit, there were long lines of cars waiting to enter and leave. The closer I got to the major arterial road the worse the traffic got. And that road itself was gridlocked from the time I turned onto it until I reached the bank.

Inside the bank I opened up my purse and saw my drivers license and charge card. No ATM card. Fortunately, the teller was a joy to work with. She looked up my account information with a smile and at the end of the transaction sincerely told me to have a great day.

Five years ago today: Grateful

Sunday, December 18, 2022

An Interesting Mix Of Decorating

The other day Hubby Tony and I had an errand to run in the St. Louis Hills section of the city. The temperature was hovering around the freezing mark, so after the errand was done we bundled up and walked around the area.

The neighborhood has block after block of unique apartments, flats, and single-family residences, many built in the 1930s. They are predominantly red brick, but there are enough of blonde brick and stucco to keep things interesting, and a few tear-downs and rebuilds that used more modern materials. 

Tony and I walked in one direction until we got tired of going that way, then turned and started heading back towards the car. The first time I saw a tree with eyes stapled to the trunk I was a little confused. Then I realized that each of the trees along the sidewalk in front of a house had a pair.

I stopped to take a better look at the house. To the left of the front door there was a Grinch blow up hanging off the edge of the roof, and the yard had several other inflatables...A cute dog. A Dora the Explorer. A large Santa (who had come untethered and fallen over). And next to Santa a large Krampus

On t he right side of the yard the taller-than-the-house skeleton sported a Christmas hat and lights, and had two beribboned black trash bags at its feet. I wondered if it was purposely put there for the holiday, or a leftover from Halloween that was easier to repurpose than take down.

Five years ago today: One For You, None For Me

Friday, December 16, 2022

Decorating Made (Too) Easy

I was walking through the aisles of a Walmart Supercenter and came across a display of large bows. I thought that was a nice touch for customers, until I realized they happened to be displayed at the end of the vacuum cleaner aisle.

First of all, I don't think that you should buy someone close to you an appliance for Christmas. But if that's what your heart is set on, you should at least have to walk to another part of the store to get the supplies to wrap it with.

Five years ago today: The Doctor Will See You Now

Monday, December 12, 2022

Snail On Celery

Yesterday Hubby Tony bought a stalk of celery at the grocery store and used some in his dinner recipe.

This morning I was cutting up vegetables for lunch. I took the stalk out of the mesh produce bag and noticed a brown bump (about a quarter of an inch long) on one of the ribs. I flicked the lump into the countertop food scrap container. After I finished chopping the vegetables I took the container to the laundry room to dump the scraps into the used cat litter bag. The lump didn't come out and looked like it had attached itself to the bottom of the container. When I looked closely I saw it was a tiny snail!

I wondered how long the snail had been on the celery. Did it hitch its ride in the field, during processing, or at the grocery store?  Wherever it happened, I admired the critter's perseverance. However, it couldn't live at my house, so I stopped and considered my next step.

I'm a no-kill type of girl, and would normally release a living thing into the wild outdoors. However, the temperature outside was hovering around freezing, and is forecast to take another dive down later in the week. The snail would probably die a slow, chilly death. Would that be better or worse than being tossed into a stinky bag of cat litter and food scraps which would ultimately end up in the trash?

In the end I chose the latter option. I flicked the snail off the container into the bag, but made sure there was room for it to move away from the other items before I closed the partially-filled bag with a binder clip. Later in the day I tossed more items in the bag and saw the snail had attached itself to the bag up near the top. 

Five years ago today: What's On Your TV?

Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Season Of Good Enough

About this time every year I start reading articles and blog posts about getting things perfectly ready for the end of the year holidays. That includes finding ideal presents, going to too many activities and parties, making sure everyone in the family has the right clothes for those events, and throwing healthy diet expectations out the window.

Reading the tales always reminds me of my friend Sandy's motto for this time of year... Tis the season of "good enough".

As she explains it, the slogan means to do away with the expectation that everything you do will be Hallmark and Martha Stewart perfect. Keep your expectations realistic. Figure out the things you can and cannot control, and let go of any assumptions about those things you can’t control.

I can't remember how many years ago I was gifted with a cute snowflake note holder holding round tag with the motto, but it's been displayed so many years the tag is looking a little worse for wear. But it's good enough, and I still set it out every year as a visual reminder.

Five years ago today: To Toss Or Not To Toss

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Internet, Where We All Learn From Each Other

Sometimes the information learned is substantial and thought-provoking. Sometimes it's less earth shattering, but still important.

This morning after breakfast I learned on a forum that December 8th is National Brownie Day. A couple of hours later Catalyst at Oddball Observations offered the same news. After two mentions how could I not act on the information?

Before dinner I had to run to the grocery store. In addition to the items on my list a large frosted brownie from the bakery department added itself to my bag. Although I could have made a whole pan for the price of the slice, there are only two of us in the house. I knew that if I made a pan way too many of those brownies would find their way into my mouth, so buying a pre-made one was my way of exhibiting some portion control.

Dinner was a clean-out-the refrigerator main dish salad with chopped napa cabbage, roasted sweet potatoes and freekeh, tossed with a honey lime vinaigrette with hints of garlic and jalapeno and topped with chopped cashews. Hubby Tony plated and served. He also carbonated some water and made a pot of decaf coffee to go with the star of the show dessert.

All was good.

Five years ago today: A Nice Way To Make A Living

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Vanity Egotism

It's been a long time since I've ran my name through Google to see what's out there, but thanks to tonight's search I can say that:

  • On Facebook there are five other people with my name.
  • LinkedIn had nine profiles for people who spelled their first name exactly the same as mine. If you add alternate spellings (Cathy, Cathie, Kathie) there were six more. Include variations on Katie and the number doubled.
  • A Kathy who isn't me has 'my' name on Twitter, Pinterest, and Flickr (and as far as I can tell they are not the same person.)
  • The same photographer with my name who I found back in 2008 still has an online presence, but she didn't show up until the third page of hits.

If I'm even around to check in another 14 years I wonder how many other changes there would be?

Five years ago today: Travel, Trips, And Tours

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Seat Of My Pants Food Preparation

 Today is the tenth day since I had a positive Covid test, which means that when I wake up tomorrow the CDC says I will no longer be contagious. It was also my first meal for the priests and clergy since starting my quarantine.

You may remember that I am cooking in the rectory kitchen Sunday morning, Monday night, and Wednesday mid-day. My system is to take items for any given meal out of the freezer the meal before, and stop at the grocery store for perishables on my way there. Thanks to my quarantine the system had broken down, but I knew that there was a bag of sheet pan pancakes in the freezer that would be enough to feed the six clergy. All I had to do was heat the pancakes, cook bacon in the oven, scramble a dozen eggs, and rinse some raspberries.

However, when I arrived I saw that someone had broken into the bag of pancakes and they were half gone. (I was happy they liked them, but still annoyed. I will need to come up with a system to indicate off limits food.) 

I didn't have time to go back to the store and still have breakfast ready on time so I put on my creative thinking cap.

The planned meal for last Sunday was an egg casserole with ham and two kinds of cheese. Everything was in a plastic grocery bag in the refrigerator. It had been there for a little over a week, which is almost over the edge of acceptable. However, I decided to take a close look at the ingredients. All seemed fine. Even the most problematic ingredient (the ham) still looked fresh and pink. It was well wrapped and not past the sell-by date. Just to be on the safe side I microwaved it and drained off the juices before incorporating it into the dish.

My recipe was more like a list of proportions: 2 parts bread, 1 part milk, 1 part eggs, 1 part add-ins (in this case, ham) and 1 part cheese.

The procedure couldn't have been simpler. I greased a baking pan and filled it with bread chunks, then tossed in the ham and most of the cheese. I mixed eggs with whole milk and seasonings, poured the mixture over the bread, and pressed down to make sure all the chunks were saturated. I let the eggs soak in for a half hour before adding the rest of the cheese on top, covering the dish with foil, and baked it for 20 minutes. I took off the foil and baked it for an additional half hour.

When it was time to serve I put the casserole on the counter, added bowls of salsa and raspberries for those who wanted fruit, and stepped aside. The clergy don't have much time before the next Mass starts, so they come through quickly, eat, and put their plate next to the dishwasher before leaving again. However, as the pastor left he told me with a grin to pack everything up so he could have more later.

 Five years ago today: From Gardening Shoes To Galoshes

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Positively Positive. Bummer!

On Thanksgiving I woke up with a scratchy throat and a general 'off' feeling. Son Donald was coming over for dinner, so Hubby Tony and I gave ourselves Covid tests. Both were negative. Friday morning I woke up feeling even worse... a headache, chills, and absolutely no appetite. I took another Covid test. This time I wasn't so lucky. A second line appeared underneath the control line, indicating it was positive.

As far as I know, this was my first time to have the virus. After being vaccinated, boosted, and boosted again I had mild symptoms, but for the first two days I I was so fatigued I felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck. I also had an off-and-on headache and a drippy nose/hacking cough. All out of the house activities were cancelled or postponed.

However, once the worst passed and my symptoms began to ease I started going stir crazy. Other than a very small deck our condo doesn't have any outdoor space, so I borrowed a page from early-pandemic times and took short walks through the subdivision. I had a mask to use when necessary, but for the most part I did not see any other people. When I did I gave them a very wide berth by crossing the street.

I thought Hubby Tony and I would have trouble maintaining our social distance, but it turned out to be pretty easy. I moved my sleeping quarters to the daybed in the office, which ended up being surprisingly comfortable. The main living area of the condo is one large room (and Tony's office is an adjunct off of the area), so we were actually able to spend time together as long as there was a lot of distance between us. For example, at meal time one of us sat at the table in the dining room and the other one sat at the island in the kitchen. Or I sat on the couch while he worked at his office desk. We felt comfortable with the procedure because both Tony and I have been vaccinated and boosted. Tony also tested himself on a regular basis. Each test was negative.

Yesterday was five days since the initial test, so it was time to retest. This test also showed two strong lines, so I sent a message to my doctor's office for advice.  Later in the day I found out that I could continue to receive positive results for several weeks! But as long as my symptoms were improving and I had been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medications I could return to normal activities as long as I wore a mask for an additional five days.

This morning I couldn't remember the last time I was so excited to do errands and grocery shopping. Before I left the house I checked to make sure I had a fresh mask with me. It was strange to head towards the car in the garage instead of leaving the building on foot. I thoroughly enjoyed strolling down aisles at the grocery stores. Even the lines of people waiting at the checkout didn't bother me in the least.  I was free!

Five years ago today: An Advent of Gratitude

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 and 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!