Thursday, March 31, 2022

Happy Retirement Anniversary

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Date Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Prayer for Ukraine

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

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

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

 Five years ago: Around The World In Six Blocks

Thursday, March 24, 2022

What's The Real Cause Of The Problem?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five years ago: Fancy That

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Age Is Just A Number

I recently learned that today was As Young As You Feel Day. Did you know that the average American starts feeling old at the age of 47? I have my fair share of aches and pains, but I try not to let them get in the way of living. No matter what your chronological age, if you feel young the number of candles on your last birthday cake doesn't matter.

With the holiday in mind all day I tried to think and act young. When I left the house in the morning, instead of my comfortable baggy jeans I wore a pair of slim, bright purple ones and one of my newer shirt with a large floral print.

I drove Hubby Tony to an appointment, and then walked around the area while I waited for him to be done. When my rambling took me next to a flat-topped curb I decided to see if I could walk and balance on top of it. It did not go well, but I was glad I tried. 

Back at home, I got ready for a noontime commitment. The last thing I did before leaving the house was call the person I was going to meet with and found out that she had become unavailable. I looked outside, saw that it was raining, and decided to be thankful instead of angry. (I would have gotten wet walking from the parking lot to that commitment. No outside walking meant that I would stay dry.)

Several hours later Tony suggested we get out of the house. It was supposed to be raining off and on all day, so I looked at my phone app and discovered there was a 50 percent chance of precipitation. However, that also meant a 50 percent change of no precipitation. We put our jackets on and had a wonderful walk.

Five years ago today: Global Goof Off

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The First Day Of Spring (At Last!)

In my area the 2022 version of the Spring Equinox happened at 10:33 AM. Today the day and the night were equal in length.

When Daylight Savings Time kicked in just a week ago, my bedroom went from being pretty bright when I woke up back to being pretty dark. After one week that first light was ten minutes sooner. By a week from now when I roll out of bed I won't have to rely on artificial lighting to see what I'm doing.

Hallelujah!I can't wait.

Five years ago today: Goodbye And Good Riddance, Winter!

Saturday, March 19, 2022


Back in the day I participated in pub crawls (organized events that visit multiple bars in one night). My pub crawling days are over, but this morning Hubby Tony and I participated in a coffee crawl, which is something more our speed.

Just like the alcoholic events it was modeled on, this crawl was a nice way to meet like-minded people. There were two sessions. We chose the early one because Tony had a commitment later in the morning. The ticket price included a mug and samples from nine different places. (Eight of them were coffee; one was a coffee-infused candy.)

At some locations an associate served the coffee. At others it was self-serve. At those I made sure to only fill my cup up halfway. However, by the end of the event I think I consumed triple the amount of caffeine that I usually do. Instead of crawling I was buzzing along!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Do I Or Don't I?

Last fall Hubby Tony and I had the opportunity to take a test ride on electric bikes. We both enjoyed the easier peddling and being able to go faster. Our test took place on a flat greenway, but I could see that an e-bike's power assist would be really helpful on hills.

A couple of weeks later Tony was talking to a neighbor and found out he knew a man who retrofitted  standard bikes to make hem electric. Tony contacted the man, tried out one of his bikes, and ended up purchasing it. Shortly after that the weather turned cold. Tony took the battery pack off and brought it upstairs, and the rest of the bike spent the winter in the storage unit.

Yesterday the temperatures were more like May than March, and Tony suggested we take our first bike ride of the year. That sounded good to me. He did some research and found a place in South County that we hadn't been to before, Cliff Cave Park, that had a paved greenway along the Mississippi River. I was still on the fence about electric bikes, and was anxious to see how my standard bike would hold up against Tony's motorized one.

After breakfast I dug the bike carrier out of the corner of the storage unit and installed it on the back of my vehicle, then we put the bikes on. The battery pack makes Tony's bike pretty heavy, but he took it off until we reached the trailhead. Once there, it only took a few seconds for him to get ready to ride.

The park had about seven miles paved trails, divided into lower and upper segments. The lower segment was flat, and had a couple of nice views of the river. The upper segment had an option to connect to Telegraph Road, which had a nice bike lane. We went south on Telegraph for 15 minutes, then turned around and came back.

On the flat surfaces I held my own against Tony and his motorized bike, and a couple of times even got quite a bit ahead of him. However, on the inclines and hills he left me in the dust. At the end of the ride I asked Tony how much he used his electric motor assist. He told me he only used the lowest speed, only on the hills, and at the end of the ride the battery indicator showed that he had used less than a third of the charge was gone.

I asked Tony to give me the name and phone number of the bike retrofitter. I will give him a call. I think I could use my current bike, which would be a nice bonus and save me a little bit of money.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Everyone's Irish On St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  

An interesting mixing of cultural legends

If you search the Internet there are a lot of Irish prayers and blessings

But if you don't want to bless someone, you can always curse them

Five years ago: Cat Cleaners

Monday, March 14, 2022

More Than Just Pi

Today is March 14th (3/14), which many people celebrate as Pi (π) Day. 

However, in St. Louis 314 also happens to be the original area code for the metropolitan area. Back in 2006 an official 314 Day was created. Each year it has gotten more popular. Starting last weekend, there have been happenings, promotions, and deals to celebrate the day.

Tonight Hubby Tony and I had our own celebratory dinner. We got carry out from Imo's Pizza--St. Louis style pizza (a cracker-like crust, topped with Provel cheese, and cut into squares), toasted ravioli, and a salad with St. Louis style sweet Italian dressing.

There are other dishes that would pay homage to the area, but we decided to save those for next year's celebration. 
Five years ago today: A Pi Memory Helper

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Don't Forget!

I will be setting my clock before I got to bed tonight so I don't embarrass myself by showing up to church late tomorrow.

Five years ago today: In The Land Of Grandbabies

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Free Day On The Freeway

This weekend is one of the four statewide business meetings for a fellowship I belong to, which will take place in the middle of the state and several hours from my house. The meeting will start Saturday morning, but as an officer I help set up the meeting room on Friday afternoon and attend an officer's meeting later that night after dinner.

This time setup is at 3 pm. It takes about three hours to get to the hotel where the meeting is held. (I usually make a couple of stops, so I add another half hour.) Doing the math, leaving a little after 11 am should get me there in plenty of time. However, Mother Nature decided to have something to say about it. There's a prediction of snow/sleet overnight and a good part of tomorrow. The area I have to drive through has a forecast of three to four inches of snow. Not much, but since I really don't like driving in winter weather I decided that I would go a day early. With an entire day to get there I wouldn't have to be on a time frame. I could stop where and when I wanted, and at the hotel I could even take advantage of the hot tub that I never have time for.

I ended up leaving mid-morning. I drove due west on Interstate 70 across the river into St. Charles county, where I made several prescheduled stops. After those were done I was free to stop when and where I wanted to. At one exit I saw a sign for an antique mall and decided to pull in. I detoured to make a stop in the downtown historic Brick District of Fulton (something that has been on my bucket list since I've been attending these meetings). There, I found GOPO Popcorn Shop, where I could sample all of the flavors before buying. I left with a cup of locally roasted coffee and two small containers of popcorn for later.

After Fulton I made it to Highway 54 and went west, which would ultimately get me to my destination in Camdenton. In Jefferson City I detoured to Central Dairy for a rich, decadent ice cream cone, then continued my trip. I passed through Lake Ozark and stopped for groceries at Dierbergs, a St. Louis-area chain that has stretched their boundaries with a location at the Lake. There I picked up food for dinner and snacks for the weekend. I also found a gas station with prices a little cheaper than others I had seen and filled up my gas tank.

Although it was a day filled with exciting adventures I was glad to arrive at my destination. During the last half of the trip intermittent periods of fat snowflakes fell from the sky, an omen of what was to come. Tomorrow the only snow I have to deal with is what I will see from my hotel window.

Five years ago today: I Thought There Was Nothing To Eat...

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Extending Good Will

Hubby Tony and I recently went out to dinner at a new to us restaurant. When the waitress brought the check, she attached a Post-It note with one of my favorite quotes from Saint Teresa of Calcutta (AKA Mother Teresa):

The waitress left off the rest of the quote, which is "Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier", but even the shortened version made an impact. I slid the note into my purse, and for the rest of the night did what I could to spread love. It started with leaving the waitress a generous tip. I held the door for the person leaving the building behind me. I smiled at the people on the street. When I was wearing a mask inside buildings I smiled with my eyes. Later that night I passed the note on by sticking it onto a towel dispenser in a public bathroom. 

I can only hope I inspired someone to spread love the same way I was inspired.

Five years ago today: Only In St Louis

Sunday, March 6, 2022

A Little Working...A Little Playing...A Lot Of Fun

Right now, Covid cases are down in the area, restrictions are easing, and I decided I wanted to expand my circle of activities. Most of my volunteer work is for my church and a fellowship I belong to.  When I saw on Facebook that a local cat rescue organization was looking for additional help, I filled out an application. Today I attended a volunteer orientation.

The rescue organization's website has many different activities to choose from, but all of them start with shifts at their adoption center. Before Covid the center used to be open for drop-in visits, and Hubby Tony and I had been there a couple of times. It was a fun place, and I was excited to see some of what went on behind the scenes.

When I walked up to the center's door I was happy to see a large sign mandating masks for everyone. There were three other women being oriented. One of them was about my age. The other two appeared to be in their mid-20s After a tour of the building we started our tasks for the day. They included feeding the cats, filling dry food and water bowls, scooping litter, cleaning, vacuuming, and washing the floor. With so many hands the work went quickly and then we got to hang out with the cats.

There were about a dozen on the main floor (and another set that I didn't get to see downstairs in an isolation area).  Most of the main floor denizens were coexisting amicably in a room with large windows and lots of places to play, climb, and nap. A couple of cats were in cages because they did not get along well with the others. All were waiting to be adopted.

My two hour shift flew by. When I got home I washed my hands so Jackson Cat wouldn't be able to smell all the other kitties I spent time petting. I wouldn't want him to think I was being disloyal.

Friday, March 4, 2022

I'm Turning Into A Cranky Old Woman

Hubby Tony and are long time subscribers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. I think that my breakfast isn't complete until I've looked at the entire issue each day, easing into reality by starting with the comics and advice columns. Next I move to the real new sections, scanning every headline and thoroughly reading any article that catches my eye.

The cost of the subscription keeps going up. A couple of years ago we decided to save a little bit of money by changing to the e-edition during the week. On Saturday morning we get a slim paper which includes the ads and the Sunday comic section. Sunday morning the rest of the paper is waiting for us when we get up.

That system works well. Until it doesn't. Yesterday when I opened up the newspaper website on my iPad and clicked on the e-edition link I got an error message. I tried to get around the problem a couple of different ways but got the same message every time. Although I was annoyed, I figured that stuff happens, cut the company some slack, and used what would have been my reading time perusing other websites.

This morning I was even more annoyed when the problem was still there! Today I was offered the option of a newspaper version with limited functionality, but it did not work on my iPad. Zooming in enough to actually read the text made only a small portion of the page visible, and I was not able to use my finger to scroll up and down. 

I sent an email expressing my disappointment, which only got me an automated response. I spent the rest of my breakfast time visiting other websites until my coffee kicked in and I was ready to face the day. Hours later I checked the website on my desktop computer but the problem was still there. If it's not taken care of by tomorrow morning I will be very cranky!

Five years ago: A Funny For A Friday

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

I Am. Will You?

Pope Francis is asking people across the world to participate in a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in Ukraine today for Ash Wednesday. 

Joe Heller

Tuesday, March 1, 2022


You may know that today is Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French) a day of self-indulgence and the last big hoo-hah before Lent begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. However, for the past few weeks I've made quite a few poor food choices and over the past weekend my digestive system cried uncle. Today I tried to mix my decadence with some common sense.

I started off with a hearty breakfast, then followed that up with a healthy lunch. Mid-afternoon I was on the road and hungry. When I drove by a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant I thought spicy chicken sounded good. However, I found out I couldn't buy just a piece of chicken, and I didn't want a whole meal. I settled for a bowl of red beans and rice. Even though the red beans were pureed and more like refried the dish hit the spot.

For dinner I made some smashed white bean salad and served it with good wheat bread. Earlier in the day when I stopped in the grocery store to get a stalk of celery a bag of New Orleans style potato chips jumped into my bag. I don't know who suggests the serving size for snack foods, but I ate way more with my meal than what the back of the bag told me I should.

In the afternoon Hubby Tony and I walked to a local bakery to get some dessert. They were sold out of king cakes, Mardi Gras cookies, and paczki (Polish donuts), so I chose their variation of a fudgie. Tony got a flat cinnamon apple strudel. After dinner Tony plated both, then cut them in half so we could each sample.

And because one dessert didn't feel like enough, after my sweets were gone I followed them up with a big handful of frozen blueberries. Their frostiness tricked my mind into thinking I was having ice cream, and my stomach thanked me for doing without the extra fat and sugar.

Five years ago today: A Jeans Challenge Met