Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Open Air Frozen Treats

When I was reading blogs this morning Mevely reminded me that August 31st is Eat Outside Day. 

Lunch was on the run, and it was too sunny for Hubby Tony and I to eat dinner on the deck, but there was nothing that said that our al fresco eating had to be an entire meal. We thoroughly enjoyed our ice cream from a stand not too far from our house. I had pink champagne sorbet. He ordered scoops of dark chocolate and vanilla.

We sat on a bench and listened to music coming from the patio of a restaurant across the street. Large trees made the area quite shady, and it was a beautiful night to be outside.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

One Less Travel Annoyance

Over the past few years Hubby Tony and I have taken multiple flights to California to visit our kids and grand kids. As long as both Son Tony's and Son Brian's families continue to live halfway across the country I can't see our habits changing.

One of the things I kept meaning to get around to is signing up for TSA PreCheck, a program from the Department of Homeland Security that streamlines the airport screening process. A couple of weeks ago the task made it to the top of the list. Tony and I both completed the online portion of the application, then we scheduled back-to-back appointments to complete the in-person portion.

Today was In-Person Day at an office on a business campus fifteen minutes away. Even though we parked the wrong garage, we had enough time to get some steps in before it was time to find the designated office and sign in. There were two other people waiting ahead of us, and when the associate came out she told all four of us to follow her to an office in the back of the building. 

The other two people completed the process, then left. It was my turn. I had to verify my information, show my passport, do a digital fingerprinting, have my photo taken, and pay the fee. ($85 for five years.) Tony and I walked out of the building 30 minutes after we arrived. On the way to the car we both received emails that our enrollment had been received. 

After the TSA completes the background check and approves me I will get a Known Traveler Number (KTN). I'll be able to add the information to airline loyalty programs, so when I book flights my boarding pass will show that I can go through the expedited security screening line. Taking off my shoes and belt, taking out any liquids in my carry on, and pulling out my laptop will be a thing of the past.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Custom Cup Of Joe

Since the beginning of August the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team have been on a tear, winning 20 games and only losing 6. In 11 of those wins they've scored six or more runs. That means the next day Mobil on the Run, a local gas station and convenience store chain, sells coffee and fountain drinks for only 60 cents. 

Hubby Tony and I try to take advantage of the special price whenever we can. Sometimes I'll get a soda or a frozen drink, but my usual go-to is a cup of coffee. Most of the locations we visit brew large urns of drip coffee, and when there's a lot of people coming they often have a hard time keeping up with the demand.  Today we visited a location that had a fancy on demand system.

(That's my insulated cup underneath the spigot receiving the freshly-ground and brewed Sumatra Mandheling beans. I got tired of using disposable foam cups, so earlier in the summer I got one I could keep in my car.)

The machine was easy to use. On the touch screen you pick one of the three bean options, indicate what size you want, tell the machine if it should leave room for cream, then put the cup underneath the spigot and start the process. Approximately one minute later the coffee was ready.

There were also directions to make iced coffee, which I might have to try the next time I'm there. It's only the second inning of tonight's game, but the team has already scored 6 runs.

Five years ago today: Clean Out The Crud

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Similar Standpoints

Yesterday I walked past a house that had candidate political signs for three different races in the front yard.

I had no clue who two of the individuals were, but based on the political party of the US Senator candidate sign next to them I had a good idea what ideology the others probably had. Five years ago today: Bag It

Wednesday, August 24, 2022


Hubby Tony has been retired for more than a year. One of the things on his post-career bucket list was to go out together for a leisurely weekday breakfast. Can you believe that never got done?

In our defense, we're creatures of habit. Tony usually rolls out of bed before I do and doesn't want to wait around for me to get up before he eats. And I like my routine of pulling out my iPad to read the newspaper and catch up with my virtual friends while I'm sitting at the table.

Last night Tony and I were trying to come up with some way to get our exercise before the temperatures heated up too much. I threw out the idea of walking to the nearby Sunny Street Cafe. Cutting through  subdivisions, it would be about a half hour each way. Tony agreed it sounded like a good plan.

The days are getting shorter, which meant that when I woke up a little after 6:30 the sun hadn't quite made it over the top of the buildings yet. (Yes, I know that's early. Both Tony and I haven't been able to shake the early rising/early to bed habit.) However, by the time we walked out the door 15 minutes later there it was substantially brighter. The temperature was cool, and it was a lovely walk. There were only a couple of cars in the restaurant lot when we arrived, and only a handful of customers inside. We chose to sit in a booth.

As all good breakfast restaurant waitresses do, ours came by immediately and asked if we wanted coffee. We did. The brew was flavorful, and she kept our cups full. I had looked at the menu online, and had tetentively decided what to order, but when I saw they had a 'Senior' menu for people 55 and older I decided to take advantage of it. 

My breakfast consisted of two pancakes almost as large as the plate and two strips of bacon. Tony went a little healthier, ordering yogurt, granola, and fruit with a blueberry muffin on the side. (Of course we shared samples of our meals with one another.)

At the end of the meal I went to the bathroom, where I saw this cute mural painted on the wall between the men's and women's rooms.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Cracking Wise

  • What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite. 
  • What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches? A nervous wreck. 
  • What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup? Anyone can roast beef. Can you pea soup? 
  • Where do you find a dog with no legs? Right where you left him. 
  • Why do gorillas have big nostrils? Because they have big fingers. 
  • Why don't blind people like to sky dive? Because it scares the dog. 
  • What kind of coffee was served on the Titanic? Sanka. 
  • What is the difference between a Harley and a Hoover? The location of the dirt bag. 
  • Why did Pilgrims' pants always fall down? Because they wore their belt buckle on their hat. 
  • What's the difference between a bad golfer and a bad skydiver? A bad golfer goes, whack, dang! A bad skydiver goes dang! Whack. 
  • How are a Texas tornado and a Tennessee divorce the same? Somebody's gonna' lose a trailer.
Five years ago: In The Shadow

Saturday, August 20, 2022

A Classic Debuts

On August 20, 1882 Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuted in Moscow. 

According to Wikipedia, it was written "to commemorate the successful Russian defense against Napoleon I's invading Grande Armée in 1812". It is one of Tchaikovsky's best known works, but he disliked the piece, saying it was “very loud and noisy and completely without artistic merit, obviously written without warmth or love.”

I don't think a fireworks display is complete until the Overture finale plays, because the cannons are a great complement to the flashes of light in the sky. The Internet is full of videos of the composition, from serious compositions to popular performers, flash mobs, and one of my favorites, where Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner of the Animaniacs cause havoc with cannons.

Five years ago: From One Cat Lover To Another

Thursday, August 18, 2022

NOT Okay, Google

Earlier today when I was having a discussion with someone about the differences between regular and street-legal golf carts I had my cell phone in my hand. An hour later I got a spam email with the subject line Your Name Came Up For a Club Car Golf Cart Reward.

Coincidence? I think not. My phone was spying on me.

I've turned off quite a few sneaky features on my phone, but it seems like whenever there's an operating system update the company throws in a new wrinkle. Time to revisit the issue again. I turned to the internet for advice on figuring out this one, and found a helpful article called Your Phone Is Secretly Always Recording: How to Stop Google From Listening.

I have an iPhone, so there's not as much Google running in the background as there would be on an Android phone, but I followed the directions and turned off things in the Google app. I opened up the Privacy setting and and turned off the microphone permission for everything but a voice recorder app. While I was at it I also disabled "Hey Siri", which I never use.

I'd like to think that my actions permanently shut down all the ways the phone can figure out what I'm talking about, but I know that today was just a temporary fix. The tech companies will figure out a new way to do it, and I'll have to repeat my work again.

Five years ago today: I'm A Guardian of Magnificent Wisdom

Monday, August 15, 2022

Traveling With Toothpaste

Having family scattered across the country has really increased the amount of travel Hubby Tony and I do. My suitcase includes a toiletry bag with a hanging hook that also clips into the packed suitcase. When I reach my destination that toiletry bag is easy to carry into a bathroom and hang up. It will hold everything I need, as long as I stick to small-sized containers.

I've been home from the last trip for almost a week, but today I finally got around to putting my personal care things away and inventorying what I will need before the next trip. I got tired of buying overpriced travel sized tubes of toothpaste, so last year I invested in a refillable one.

This tube is made out of BPA-free, food-safe plastic. I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to fill:

  • Attach the adapter to a full sized tube of toothpaste 
  • Compress the travel tube to remove the air
  • Attach it to the other side of the adapter, then
  • Squeeze the toothpaste from one tube to the other
  • When the small tube is filled disconnect both tubes and replace the caps

It didn't take me long to recoup the cost of the travel tube, and it makes me feel good to know I'm not throwing so many disposable travel sized tubes into the waste stream.

Five years ago today: Age Has Its Privileges

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Coming To A Mall Near You (Maybe)

I think that just about everyone knows that malls aren't what they used to be. West County Center, the mall within walking distance from our house, has multiple empty storefronts and a couple of unused food court spaces.

The mall's parent company, CBL Properties (which owns 45 malls throughout the country, including West County Center and three other locations in the metropolitan St. Louis area) seems to be trying out some creative solutions to get people to come in. The latest is to convert one of the vacant food court stands into a pop-up eatery.

The concept opened this week with Yogi Donuts, which normally fries its mini-donuts to order from a food truck. You can get a 6, 9, or 13-pack of freshly prepared donuts-plain, tossed in cinnamon or powdered sugar, or drizzled with one of several sauces (some of which include sprinkles).

Of course we had to try some. Hubby Tony got his with cinnamon sugar. I chose chocolate sauce and sprinkles.

If the pop-up eatery concept is successful it may be expanded to other malls. I wonder what will be at this one next?

Five years ago: Cheap! Cheap!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Tarmac Turmoil

Once the worst of Covid died down, Hubby Tony and I have made regular flights to California to see the kids-once in 2020, twice in 2021, and (so far) twice this year. All of the flights have gone perfectly or with just minor hitches. Until a couple of days ago.

Before we left for the San Jose airport Tuesday morning I checked the Southwest app. The flight was on time, scheduled to depart at 11:30. It still showed as on time when we got through TSA.  We walked around the terminal to kill time, checking on the flight status every few minutes. It was always the same. However, right before boarding was ready to begin Tony got a text that informed him the departure time had changed until 12:20 pm. That meant we wouldn't get into Dallas until 5:50, and would make a tight connection to the second leg of the trip. But I was optimistic; our last few flights arrived slightly earlier than scheduled, and Tony and I can hustle if necessary.

Once the boarding process was completed and all passengers were seated, the pilot came on the PA system and announced there was a mechanical issue he needed to have checked out. It took ten minutes for that to be done, but another 20 minutes to get a supervisor over to log the event. That meant we (along with a lot of other passengers) would miss connecting flights. There were three cities affected, and the head flight attendant told all those passengers to gather their things and leave the plane to be rebooked. We did.

As we were standing at a service counter waiting to talk to a Customer Service agent, I heard an announcement that the airline had resolved the issue and we should return to the gate. We did. By the time Tony and I realized that the 'solution' was rescheduling us on a flight that left Dallas at 10:35 pm it was too late to take advantage of any other options.

Back at the gate, the cabin crew realized that in their haste to let people off the plane they no longer had a  good count of how many passengers there were, so they made everyone deplane, line up in the correct Southwest method, and get back on. By the time that happened, the pilot announced that he had missed his legal flight window time by five minutes. Because he had 'timed out' the airline needed to find a new flight crew.  Then, after the new flight crew was secured there was paperwork that needed to be completed. 

By this time people up and milling around the plane. Laptops that would usually be stowed for departure were brought out and powered on. The flight crew passed out cups of water and bags of snack mix, but the delay was so long I also pulled out my in-flight snacks and ate them.

The flight actually left the gate at 4:52 pm. When the plane doors closed people cheered, and it looked like the attendants were as happy as the passengers were.

Once the plane was at cruising altitude, instead of the small bag of snack mix we usually get on our flights the cabin crew handed out "Hawaii snack packs", which also included cheese and crackers, gummy bears, and a tiny bag of four Tic Tacs. In addition, they offered anyone who was of age the first adult beverage free of charge.

I usually don't drink alcohol on planes, but felt like this day called for it. The flight attendant brought me a cup of ice, a lukewarm can of Diet Coke, and a airline-sized bottle of rum. It was hard for me to get the right percentage of alcohol to soda, and because of plane turbulence I was afraid the liquid would slosh out of the cup. I drank it faster than I would have on the ground and ended up with a headache. (Fortunately I had aspirin in my purse.)

The plane arrived in Dallas slightly later than promised, but because there were so many people who were ultimately going to St. Louis they held the second plane so we could get from one gate to another. And then we had to wait an additional ten minutes for the pilot of that flight to arrive from another plane. 

That was the last issue, though. Plane #2 had plenty of open seats, there was hardly any turbulence, and we touched down right on time. But all of the delays took their toll. Instead of arriving back at home at a reasonable 8:30 pm, it was closer to 1 am by the time Tony and I were unlocking the front door.

This afternoon both Tony and I received emails from the Southwest Proactive Communications department apologizing for all the issues, and telling us that in the next two weeks we will both be receiving a "LUV voucher" that we can use on another flight. I can't wait to see exactly what that means.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022


Hubby Tony and I have just returned from another visit to California to see the kids and grandkids.

Two thirds of the visit was with Son Tony and his family in Modesto in the Central Valley. Granddaughter Gee is a two-year old toddler and Granddaughter Evee an infant. Their ability to get things done is limited, so we helped out where we could-cooking, washing dishes, and general straightening. The two generations of Tonys worked together to hang a television and cabinets in the family room. I did yard work, trimming bushes and pulling weeds and an aggressive landscape vine that was growing up surfaces and across the grass. 

The afternoon temperatures were high (sometimes pushing 100 degrees), but in the morning it was pleasant to be outside. Tony and I walked-to the grocery store, a coffee shop, and restaurants for lunch. One day we drove to the city's farmers market. Another day we ventured to a state park and hiked in redwood groves.

Before and after Modesto we spent time in the San Jose area with Son Brian's household. Tony and I were able to do some walking adventures both by ourselves and with Grandson Jay. The second weekend we went on a field trip with the entire family. Grandsons Dee and Ell are three, and have definite opinions about what they do and don't want to do. With the addition of Grandma and Grandpa the adult/child ratio was just right.

To make the whole trip even more memorable, Son Donald also flew out for a couple of days. For the first time since the end of 2019 all of the family was able to be together. Donald spent time at both of his brother's houses, and one morning the boys went out together for an adventure and lunch.

The getting together with the family part was wonderful. The getting home part left a lot to be desired. (To be continued...) 

Five years ago today: Paw-lease

Saturday, August 6, 2022

A Welcome Welcome

Hubby Tony and I attended Mass at a different church tonight. The large building has two sections built at right angles to each other with the sanctuary area in the middle. We arrived 15 minutes early and chose seats in a pew on the left side of the right section, with a good view of the altar.

Five minutes later a woman approached us and asked if we would be willing to bring up the Offertory gifts (unconsecrated communion wafers and wine). The process is a standard part of Mass, but every church does it a little differently. I told the woman we were visiting and weren't familiar with their process, but she said she would cue us and we agreed to do the task.

As the ushers were beginning their collection process the woman motioned to us to join her in the foyer between the two building sections by the baptismal font. She gave us each a small squirt of hand sanitizer, then handed me the covered container of wafers and Tony the carafe of wine. We waited until the priest moved in front of the altar, then walked up the aisle and handed the items off. In exchange we received a nice blessing.

At the end of the Mass the priest thanked everyone who had participated in the ceremony, including the musicians and the servers. Somehow he had learned that we were visitors, and included that fact when he thanked us. Several of the people seated close to us turned around and smiled. Both actions made me feel very welcomed.

Five years ago today: Wonders All Around

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Cat Calamity

This morning Hubby Tony and I were walking along a busy two-lane suburban street when we passed an Amazon box on the curb next to the sidewalk. The tabs on the box had been removed, and when I looked into the box I saw a cat that had been placed to look like it was sleeping but was obviously dead. Kitty didn't have on a collar, but looked well fed and I'm guessing was someone's pet. I spent the rest of the walk feeling sad.
I hope that if someone accidentally hit the cat as it was crossing the road they reported it, then had the presence of mind to move it off the road so the owner could find it.

Five years ago: Texas, Thanks To Tony

Monday, August 1, 2022


 So yesterday I was complaining that I wasn't being notified about new blog posts via my reader. This morning had the same issue, but when I opened up the app this afternoon there were 42 new posts waiting for me! 

Now I get to spend the rest of my evening catching up with what Mike, Christine, Bohemian, Jennifer, Liz, Victor, Kathy, Kay, and everyone else has been up to.