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.