Thursday, March 30, 2023

Receiving On The Radio

Today was the baseball Cardinals home opener game versus the Toronto Blue Jays. In St. Louis, where we love our baseball, the day feels like a holiday. The game actually started a little after 3:00, but the pregame ceremonies began 90 minutes earlier. Hubby Tony and I arranged our whole day around watching all of it. Dinner was designed to be easy to eat in front of the television-buffalo cauliflower bites, sausage on pretzel buns, marinated corn on the cob, and brownies. And plenty of drinks.

Tony turned on the television shortly before the official pregame ceremonies started. Much to his surprise he was unable to tune into the Bally Sports Midwest channel that was televising the game. After fiddling with options on the he called our cable provider and learned that when we upgraded our plan back in December, Bally wasn't a channel he selected. He was able to add it over the phone, but the representative told him the feed could take up to 24 hours to show up.

So instead of watching we listened to everything on the radio, starting with the organist playing "Here Comes the King" as the Budweiser Clydesdales circled the field.

Next came motorcades of Cardinals Hall of Famers and current players, a recognition of the 2022 National League Central Division Championship, and the National Anthems of Canada and the United States. There was a ceremonial first pitch, and finally, the game.

Once the game started Tony did a better job of listening than I did (I went to the office to do some computer tasks), but from the back of the house I could hear the excited announcers and crowd sounds when there was a good play. Instead of eating dinner in front of the television we took our plates (and the radio) to the deck and enjoyed the first outdoor meal of the season. 

It was an exciting game, with lots of scoring, but in the end the Blue Jays won 10-9. The season goes until October, though, and there will be many more opportunities to watch.

Five years ago today: What A Concept!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

I Guess It Just Wasn't Meant To Be

I currently volunteer to maintain a fellowship's group records. Several times a year I participate in a video conference call meeting with other people doing the same job. There are two time options for each meeting. The ones for this month were announced at the last call in January; tonight at 6 pm and Saturday at 1:30 pm (both Eastern time, so an hour earlier than that here). 

Two weeks ago I received a reminder message that asked me to register for the session of my choice and add suggestions for topics to be considered.Two days ago I received the link to the call, and left it unread in my Inbox so I could find it easily. 

Tonight Hubby Tony and I ate dinner early so I could fire up my computer and get logged in. These video calls use a program I'm not too familiar with, so I started the process ten minutes early. Good thing I did. There were a couple of hiccups, but I made it online just in time. There was only one other woman on the screen, and we talked briefly about how strange that was. I went back to the meeting link and saw that the actual start time had been changed to 6:30! We both exited the meeting, saying we'd see each other in a half hour.

During my wait time I straightened up the office and gave Jackson the Cat some pets. 

The second time I logged into the meeting went much smoother, and this time I was pleased to see a whole screenful of faces. The first thing I heard was a man saying something about the meeting being cancelled. At first I thought I hadn't heard him correctly, but he repeated the statement, adding that it was because of unforeseen personal circumstances with the meeting moderator and an alternate date would be announced in a day or two.

Just like that I had a free evening.

Five years ago: A Tale of Two Trees

Monday, March 27, 2023

It's About Time

One week past the vernal equinox I'm starting to see signs that it might actually be Spring:

  • Yesterday morning I went out to get the newspaper and heard the early morning bird chorus for the first time in months.
  • The natural areas and parks have swaths of spring beauty wildflowers, and yesterday I saw a dandelion in bloom.
  • The sedum on the retaining wall across the street from our condo building is turning green.
  • On the way to the gym today I noticed that the bush honeysuckle (an invasive plant which is the first to green up in the spring) was covered with tiny leaves.

 Five years ago: This Strange English Language

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Inattentive Times Two

By lunch time the sun was shining for the first time in days. The temperature was in the mid-50s F, which made it feel like spring. Hubby Tony and I decided to make an adventure out of going to Mass. 

We chose St. Luke the Evangelist church, which was a 20 minute drive from from the house. It was in the middle of a nice neighborhood that we could explore beforehand. Google Maps told us to expect a traffic jam on the Interstate, but we were pleasantly surprised that it had broken up before we got there. After arriving at the church and parking the car we walked 20 minutes one way, then turned around and came back.

Inside the church we chose a pew on the left side, halfway up the aisle. While I was settling in I looked around and admired the beautiful interior (and took a furtive photo of the altar, which doesn't do it justice).
Shortly after Mass started I noticed a father and daughter seated several pews in front of us. The girl looked like she might have been eight or nine years old. She was quiet, but wiggly and fidgety. She looked around at the walls and the ceiling and ran her fingers up and down the top of the pew. At one point she leaned her head back and appeared to be using her finger to count the wall decorations.

About this time I realized that the girls lack of attention was affecting my attention, and switched my gaze back towards the altar. That did the trick.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Worst Day Ever

Upon arriving home, a husband was met at the door by his sobbing wife. Tearfully she explained, "It's the pharmacist. He insulted me terribly this morning on the phone. I had to call multiple times before he would even answer."

Immediately, the husband drove downtown to confront the pharmacist and demand an apology. Before he could say more than a word or two, the pharmacist told him...

Now, just a minute, listen to my side of the story.
This morning the alarm failed to go off, so I was late getting up. I went without breakfast and hurried out to the car, just to realize that I'd locked the house with both house and car keys inside. I had to break a window to get my keys.
Then I was driving a little too fast and got a speeding ticket. When I was three blocks from the store I had a flat tire.
When I finally got to the store a bunch of people were waiting for me to open up. I got the door opened and started waiting on these people. All the time the darn phone was ringing.
Then I had to break a roll of dimes against the cash register drawer to make change and they spilled all over the floor. I had to get down on my hands and knees to pick up the coins and the phone was still ringing. When I came up I cracked my head on the open cash drawer, which made me stagger back against a showcase with a bunch of perfume bottles on it. Half of them hit the floor and broke.
Meanwhile, the phone is still ringing with no let up. I finally got back to answer it. It was your wife. She wanted to know how to use a rectal thermometer."
And believe me Mister, as God is my witness, all I did was tell her.

 Five years ago today: Fortuitous Flowers

Monday, March 20, 2023


I was reading something the other day that really got my attention. The author talked about how Facebook can see your web activity on other sites, which helps it target ads that it thinks might be interesting.

I decided it was time to check up my Facebook activity. During the process I discovered just how much information they had stored. Every time I had clicked through to a website or article Facebook had a record of it. Eek! Time to take action.

 My first stop was There, I clicked from one topic to another and learned that:

"Off-Facebook activity includes information that businesses and organizations share with us about your interactions with them. For example, your interactions could be visiting their website or using their app."

"When you visit a website or use an app, businesses or organizations can share information about your activity with us by using our business tools".


"We use your activity to show you things you might be interested in, like events you might want to go to. We also use your activity to show you relevant ads that introduce you to new products and services. If you haven't allowed ads based on data from partners, then this activity isn't currently being used to show you ads."

They also included a promise that the data is secure

"We don't sell your information to anyone.We prohibit businesses or organizations to share sensitive information with us, such as health and financial information, your date of birth and passwords."

Those words all sounded innocent enough, but I have no interested in targeted ads and don't trust their promises at all. I cleared the Activity History and Disconnected everything I could, then toggled off the button next to “Future Off-Facebook Activity” so nothing will be collected.

Until the next time they update the site and reset the settings. Then I'll have to go through the whole process again.

Five years ago today: Spring Is Here?

Sunday, March 19, 2023

It Won't Be Cold Forever, Will It?

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. However, it doesn't feel like winter is ready to leave yet.

February, 2023 was the sixth warmest one on record. I wore my lightweight winter coat more than the heavy one. March started out balmy. Daffodils were blooming everywhere, and the magnolia tree outside the window at the church kitchen was covered in beautiful pink flowers. 

Last Friday temperatures fell dramatically, and since then it's felt more like December. The heavy coat come back out of the closet, along with the ear covering and gloves. Although daffodils in sheltered locations still provide welcome spots of yellow, three consecutive nights of hard freezes left those magnolia flowers brown and limp. 

However, I know it can't be this cold forever. Soon we'll have a patch of beautiful temperatures, and then it will get too hot to be outside.


 Five years ago: A Tasty Potato Substitute

Friday, March 17, 2023

"We Irish"

A song for St. Patrick's Day

"We Irish"
 (Song and lyrics by Dolly Parton)
We Irish love to sing
We Irish love to dance
We Irish love to party
Whener' we get the chance
We have a lot of troubles
But we have a lot of soul
We'll drink a pint of Guinness
And forget about our woes
Ei-ee-ei, ei-ee-ei, we Irish are the best

We love our myths and stories
We love a mournful song
We love our joyful music
And a good old sing-a-long
We love our pennywhistle
Uilleann pipes and air bodhrán
We Irish love our football
Our heroes and our homes

We Irish love to sing
We Irish love to dance
We Irish love to party
Whener' we get the chance
We have a lot of troubles
But we have a lot of soul
We'll drink a pint of Guinness
And forget about our woes
Ei-ee-ei, ei-ee-ei, we Irish are the best

We Irish love St. Patty
We love to celebrate
And nothing suits us better than
An all-out green parade
Green beer and hats and jackets
Green dresses, shirts and ties
And nothing could be brighter
Than the light in Irish eyes

We got a pub on every corner
And a church to worship in
We party hard then pray the Lord
Forgive us of our sins
We rid ourselves of grief and guilt
Relieve our troubled hearts
I know God loves the Irish
And accepts us as we are

We Irish love to sing
We Irish love to dance
We Irish love to party
Whener' we get the chance
We have a lot of troubles
But we have a lot of soul
We'll drink a pint of Guinness
And forget about our woes
Ei-ee-ei, ei-ee-ei, we Irish are the best

Ei-ee-ei, ei-ee-ei, we Irish are the best

We Irish love to sing
We Irish love to dance
We Irish love to party
Whener' we get the chance
We have a lot of troubles
But we have a lot of soul
We'll drink a pint of Guinness
And forget about our woes
Ei-ee-ei, ei-ee-ei, we Irish are the best

Ei-ee-ei, ei-ee-ei, we Irish are the best 
Five years ago today: Resilience

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Not So Burdensome

At the end of February Hubby Tony and I went to a different church for mass just before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. A section of the church's bulletin was devoted to spiritual resources for the upcoming season. One of them was called Forty Lenten Ideas by Janet Schaeffler, OP.

I have referred to the document several times, and because today was the 22nd day of Lent, I decided to focus on Idea 22:

Consider who might be the last person you would leave any materials or resources to if you were to die today. Then spend at least ten minutes in prayer for that person.

To me, the big theme here was disliking someone so much you would cut them completely off. Try as I might, I could not think of anyone I know personally that I would treat like that, so I expanded the concept to public figures. 

The first thing that came to mind was that there are a whole lot of people in the political arena that would fall into the category. I chose the first one who came to mind and sent some prayers their way. I may not agree with the person's ideology, but I asked for good things to come their way anyway.

It was hard to get started praying for someone I didn't like, but when I was finished I actually felt better. It's funny how that happens.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Daylight At Night

On Sunday the clocks changed over to Daylight Savings Time, but since that time it's been rainy and gloomy. The sun never came out, and both nights it was still dark when Hubby Tony and I sat down for dinner. Tonight, though, our west-facing windows were full of sun, and we barely needed to turn on a light when it was time to eat.

Even though the temperature was below average at just 40 degrees, after dinner I decided I needed to take advantage of the new evening light. At 6:15 when Tony and I left the house to walk around the neighborhood there was enough sun to make nice shadows. 

We weren't the only ones taking advantage of the light. There was a portable basketball hoop on the tennis courts, and several people using it. A child was riding his training wheel bike while being supervised by his mom. Later in the walk we saw a dad and two boys playing catch in their front yard. 

I had on my heavy winter coat, a scarf around my neck, and gloves, but forgot to put on a hat. Halfway through the walk my ears were getting cold. The novelty of the evening sunlight had worn off, and we returned home. There will be many more nights of sunshine to take advantage of.

Five years ago today: Finding First Class Footwear

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Do Not Seize The Day

I had a very busy weekend. Friday after lunch I left to drive halfway across the state for one of the four yearly business meetings of a fellowship I belong to. The meeting took most of the day on Saturday, then I got back in my car and drove home. Knowing that Daylight Savings Time would kick in overnight I went to bed early so the loss of an hour of sleep wouldn't wipe me out.

Today I had my normal Sunday morning shift cooking breakfast for the six clergy. Although not everyone showed up, the ones who did seemed to appreciate my biscuit sandwiches with deli meat and cheese and a nice fruit salad. After I finished I met Hubby Tony for church. On the way home I realized I was dragging, so for the rest of the day I treated myself gently. That included a nap, a nice walk outside, a healthy dinner, and going to bed early again.

As I crawled into bed I remembered a funny a friend recently shared with me, and vowed to follow its advice tomorrow morning:

Do not seize the day. This will startle the day and may cause it to become aggressive and give you a nasty bite. 

Instead approach the day calmly without making eye contact, pet it gently, and slowly enfold it in a careful embrace 

If the day shows any signs of resistance to being engaged with, it is likely to turn on you. Back off and return to bed.

Five years ago: Changing The Hands Of Time

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Eliminate Or Pay

I can't remember when I got my first email address, but in the late 1990s I signed up for Hotmail; it was a game changer.  I liked that I could access my messages from any computer, and could check it when I had free time at work. Over the years Hotmail changed to, but it still functions the same way

Now I have email addresses scattered all over cyberspace (in addition to Outlook there's Yahoo for blogging and multiple Gmails, each for a specific purpose). Even though Outlook has a lot of detractors, I still consider it my 'main' address.

A couple of weeks ago I received a notification that I was running out of space on the Outlook system. I ignored the information until earlier in the week, when a red notification bar showed up at the top of the screen. It said that I had exceeded my limit and could either delete some of my data or pay for more storage.

I think Microsoft made the whole deleting part so difficult that most people would give up and pay. However, I was determined to get my data under the magic limit. After trying a couple of things with no luck I turned to the internet to see if other people had any answers. It took me about ten minutes to find the information I needed. It turns out that all the messages in my Sent folder counted against the limit! 

Other than looking for random messages I needed to reference, the Sent folder had been untouched for years, and I set about cleaning it up. The biggest offender was photo attachments. Before I bought an Apple desktop a couple of years ago, the process of moving photos from my iPhone to my PC-based desktop computer was laborious. I could never find the cable to connect the two and usually ended up emailing them to myself so I could download to the desktop. Then I could save them, or upload to the blog or another website like Facebook Marketplace.

As I started deleting all those images  I didn't need anymore from my email the storage amount started going down. After I got through all the photos I kept going, deleting other messages I didn't need-messages from volunteer organizations, my responsibility as a neighborhood trustee at the old house, and previous jobs.

When I was done, the red notification bar was replaced by a blue one, which suggested I might want to consider paying for more storage. I gladly closed that and moved on.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Spring Forward

Like it or not, if you live in most of the United States Daylight Savings Time (DST) will kick in at 2 a.m. this upcoming Sunday. I enjoy having extra daylight in the evening, but the switch means it's dark in the morning. And losing an hour of sleep means my body's routine is thrown off. 

I don't like the groggy feeling I have immediately after the change, so I thought the tips in a CNET article called How to reset your body's alarm clock were helpful.

  • In the days leading up to the start of DST, you should go to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night to help prepare your body for the time change. Then, when you go to bed on Saturday before the time change make sure to set your clock the necessary one hour ahead. When you wake up in the morning you will see the correct time.

  • Don't adjust your wake-up time on the first Sunday morning. Your body will become acclimated to the change after a few days (or no more than a week). If you can't make it through the day, consider taking a short (20 minute) nap in the afternoon to give you more energy. 

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and unhealthy meals before bed, especially the Saturday before DST kicks in. They can cause sleep disruptions, which will keep you from getting the quality sleep you need to maintain physical and mental health.

  • If you're an early riser, go outside the Sunday morning of the time change to get light exposure. Light helps you stay more alert during the daytime. It also reduces your body's production of melatonin, which causes drowsiness.

I'm definitely going to give these a try.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Gotta Go!

Did you know that today was National Potty Dance Day, which is about the movements people make when they need to use the bathroom? 

The past few times Hubby Tony and I traveled to visit the family, potty training was a popular topic of conversation between our kids and their kids. The parents even played videos like this one to embed the topic into the little one's brains.

After a couple of viewings I even started to sing along.

Five years ago today: Never Tie Again

Friday, March 3, 2023

Different Dinner

Both last Friday and tonight Hubby Tony and I had a volunteer shift at our church's Fish Fry. I was selling dinner tickets, and he was working at the drink table. Both shifts finished at 6:00 pm.

Last week we stayed around and ate dinner there. However, tonight my stomach was craving something simple, and the Fish Fry is anything but that. This afternoon I whipped up a batch of Smashed White Bean Salad, which is light and filling at the same time, but I knew that after the shift I would be hungry. Driving home and getting a meal organized would take a half hour, and by then I would be pretty hangry. I started thinking creatively and asked Tony to do the same.

A couple of hours later Tony came up with a great plan. He portioned out servings of bean salad into plastic containers and put them in a cooler on ice. When it was time to leave for church he carried the cooler down to the car and put it in the back seat. 

After our shifts were over we drove to a grocery store five minutes away. I put the containers of bean salad in a shopping bag and carried them into the store. There we purchased a loaf of bakery bread, a bag of chips, and two apples. In the cafe area we made sandwiches and then ate our dinner. It felt a little strange, but no one else there batted an eye.

Five years ago today: Magazine Yourself

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Reinventing Remains

When I cook breakfast at the church on Sunday mornings there are usually six people (and sometimes seven) eating. Two weeks ago I had already put a package of sausage links in the oven and cracked a dozen eggs to scramble when I heard that the two seminarians had a commitment and wouldn't be there, and one of the two deacons was taking communion to the nursing home. And then for some unknown reason the associate priest was also a no-show. Needless to say there was a lot of food left over. I packaged up the leftovers and put them in the refrigerator before I left.

The next day when I returned to cook dinner for the priests the leftovers hadn't been touched, and the containers were still there on Wednesday when I came to prepare lunch for the staff. I hate to waste food, so I moved the leftovers to the freezer for future use.

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent and one of two days observant Catholics are supposed to fast (which means one regular-sized meal, two lighter meals, and no snacks). That day I prepared a simple staff meal of tomato soup, grilled cheese, and fruit salad.

As you may also know, observant Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, but I the associate priest told me he was trying to avoid it on Wednesdays too. I figured that if one person was choosing not to eat meat on Wednesdays others might also, and when I planned my menu for today's lunch I kept that in mind.

The meal had two main dishes. One was chicken thighs cut into chunks, then roasted and tossed with barbecue sauce. The second was a hearty fried rice with peas, carrots, edamame...and the leftover scrambled eggs from two Sundays ago. The buffet line also held a green tossed salad and a brownie cake.

At the end of the meal there wasn't much left, and everyone seemed satisfied, which made me feel good. Almost as good as using up food that otherwise would have gone to waste.

Five years ago: Be Careful How You Type

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Culinary Adventures At The Mall

Last August the food court at mall close to our house dedicated one of the stalls to pop-up restaurants.  The concept was slow to get started, but since the beginning of the year it's been occupied almost continually.

A pop up is there for a week. Hubby Tony and I like to support small businesses, so we've been trying to get there for each one. Some times it's for a snack, and others a full meal. While we're ordering I like to talk with the business owners to find out their back story and if they have a current brick and mortar or food truck presence. After we've eaten we make sure to go back and thank them. Over the past month we've shared:

Vegan "chicken nuggets" tossed with an addictive garlic and oil sauce:

Freshly fried beef and vegetable empanadas:

A gooey butter cake egg roll with vanilla ice cream:

And tonight's dinner-a hamburger, Philly steak sandwich, and an order of fries topped with garlic aioli and Parmesan cheese:

 Last week I noticed the list of pop ups only went through the end of the month. When we asked tonight I learned that the month of March was full; the mall just hadn't put up a sign yet. I can't wait to find out what culinary adventures are in store.

Five years ago: Not So Humdrum Dinner

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Good For Everyone

Hubby Tony and I joined the YMCA just in time for their Annual Campaign, which raises funds for scholarships and projects. The solicitation has been nicely low-key-- information posted in the common areas, volunteers standing in the lobby asking if we would like to donate, an opportunity to take a special Zumba class with the suggested donation going to the campaign, and flyers advertising the upcoming rubber duck race taking place in the pool (followed by a display of rubber ducks on the registration desk).

Last week's activity was an online auction. The items were a mixture of things and experiences. I registered and put bids on a couple things that interested me. The online system had a feature that sent me a text when someone topped my bid. I knew what the maximum amount I would pay for each item, so I would either ignore the text or submit a higher offer.  

When the auction ended I found out I had won one item, a collection of Starbucks bean coffee and two cups (one regular, one thermal). Today I picked it up.

 I got a deal, paying approximately half the retail price.The Y got money for their programs. Win-win.

Five years ago today: An Early Sign Of Spring

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Boyfriend Upgrade

From a friend....

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a slowdown in the overall performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications that had operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. 

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, but installed undesirable programs such as NFL 5.0 and NBA 3.0. Now Conversation 8.0 no longer runs and House Cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. 

What can I do?  

Signed, Desperate 


Dear Desperate!

First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an entertainment package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.  However, here are some suggestions. 

At the command line, try entering C:\ITHOUGHTYOULOVEDME and download Tears 6.2 to install Guilt 3.0. If all works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. But, remember, overuse can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy-Silence 2.5, Happy-Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1. Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will create snoringLoudly.wav files. Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-Law 1.0 or re-install another Boyfriend program. These are not supported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have a limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Cooking 3.0 and Lingerie 9.9. 

Regards, Tech Support 

Five years ago today: Test....Test....

Monday, February 20, 2023

Observing Presidential Birthdays

February is a confusing month for presidential birthday holidays.

Abraham Lincoln's birthday is February 12th. Some states, including Missouri, celebrated it as a state holiday on the 13th. It is not a Federal holiday. George Washington's actual birthday is February 22, but in 1968 the Federal Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved it to the third Monday in February. The day soon became known as Presidents' Day,. As Wikipedia says, the day:

"provides an occasion to remember all U.S. presidents, to honor Abraham Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays together, or any single president of choice."

However, officially Missouri still calls the day Washington's Birthday. Confused? 

In my mind, as long as I get the day off it doesn't matter what it's called. Both of the priests at the parish I work at had plans, so I didn't have to go cook dinner. The temperature was forecast to hit the mid-60 degree Fahrenheit range. Hubby Tony and I wanted to plan an outside adventure, maybe something that also included a road trip.

We couldn't find any interesting official Washington's Birthday or Presidents' Day events, but we did some out of the box thinking and decided to head to the city of Washington, Missouri and make our own celebration.

Washington is a historical town along the Missouri River with a small downtown area. Our plan was to walk around, pop into shops that interested us, and maybe get dessert to go along with the lunch that we were bringing from home. (I thought that cherry pie would be a nice tie in to the George Washington cherry tree myth.)

Tony and I pulled into town at 10:00 AM, right when independently owned stores usually open up. However, it didn't take long to figure out that many of them had signs indicating they were no longer open on Mondays, and some others were closed for the holiday. 

We made the best of it, though, by walking along a riverfront trail. The area was quiet, scenic, and serene. I went from having my lightweight winter coat all the way zipped up, to halfway zipped up, to taking it off. While I walked I munched on the finger food lunch, and by the time we got back to the starting point it was gone. We never found a place to get dessert, but before we started back home a cafe was happy to sell us cups of coffee to go.

Five years ago today: Fun With The Health Kiosk

Sunday, February 19, 2023

What's On Your Camera Roll?

When I see something unique or unconventional I'll whip out my phone and take a snapshot. The downside of doing that is that eventually my photo app gets overloaded and it's time to purge some photos. Before I get rid of them forever I thought I'd share some of the oddball ones with you. Normally I wouldn't post someone's personal information, but I have to think that if you choose a license plate like this you're looking for attention. (Make sure you start by reading the bumper sticker next to the plate.)

Why am I so drawn to bathroom decorations?  I can't even remember where I saw this one, but the message is spot on.

Shoebox cards are humorous, so it doesn't surprise me thay found a cute way to say the store is out of a style.
I saw this entry when Hubby Tony and I were walking in a historic neighborhood the other day. Take a look at the stairs! Each step was made from a concrete block of decreasing size. I didn't see any adhesive holding the steps together, and when you look closely you'll see that there are brown planter boxes in the middle of two of them.

Five years ago today: The Presidents, Explained

Thursday, February 16, 2023


After finishing a three-year term as secretary for a fellowship, at the end of last year I was elected to maintain the group records for the next three years. Most of the work is computer-based, but I have to give a report at each of the four yearly business meetings.

The first meeting is next month, and I've already started pulling my thoughts together. Instead of just standing at the podium and speaking I decided some of the information would be easier to convey via PowerPoint. I've barely ever used the program, but after playing around with it I've come up with some slides that convey the necessary facts.

This morning one of my fellow volunteers sent me a cool-looking chart that did a great job of summarizing some of the key points I need to pass on. The chart was a PDF document, which means it couldn't be edited with the software I have. I tried running the file though an online converter, but the graphics came out so jumbled they were unrecognizable. I decided to try to make a chart myself using Word. It took me quite a while to figure out how to do it, but at the end I was proud of my work. After patting myself on the back I added the chart to my slide deck.

This is what it looked like (with the real wording replaced).

Five years ago: What Is Your Investing Spirit Animal?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Flowers And Fun

When I came into the kitchen this morning there was a beautiful flower arrangement and a small box of chocolate covered strawberries from Hubby Tony waiting for me on the island. I walked back to the bedroom and retrieved the box of decadent cookies for him I had hidden in my dresser drawer. We agreed that since it was Valentine's Day we could break into the sweets before breakfast.

After breakfast was cleaned up and the morning chores done we got ready to leave the house. Two weeks ago I made reservations for us at the Botanical Garden. We try to get there once a month, but today our main goal was to see the Orchid Show.

The temperature was lightweight winter coat warm, but there was a light rain falling as Tony pulled into the parking lot. We walked briskly into the building and a docent scanned our tickets. The garden just opened a fancy new visitor's center, and the conservatory where the show was held was in a far corner of the building. The displays were arranged on both sides of a path that meandered around the room. Sometimes smaller specimens were displayed together:

 Sometimes the flowers were positioned in large swaths. These Dancing Lady orchids always make me smile. They look like they're flying through the sky:
Doesn't this one look like it's been tie dyed?

 After we walked through the show we realized that the rain had stopped so we went outside and walked around the garden. Other than a few staff members who were working, the garden was completely empty. I felt like it was our own private paradise. 

By this point we were getting hungry, so we left the Garden and headed towards the second portion of our date. Instead of celebrating Valentine's Day with dinner out, we opted for lunch. Tony had made reservations at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, a restaurant that has a great reputation. After a yummy lunch of field greens salad and thick slices of meatloaf layered over smashed potatoes and sauteed spinach I would have to agree.

Five years ago today: Valentine's Day Trivia

Monday, February 13, 2023

A Thirty-Second Fix

Yesterday I was getting ready to go to work and slipped on a pair of black shoes. I've had the shoes for several years and never had any problems with them, but now I noticed they squeaked when I walked.

I didn't have time to do anything about the problem, so I spent the morning walking around with noisy shoes. 

When I got home the first thing I did was shake those shoes off into a corner by the closet. I told myself I wouldn't wear the pair again anytime soon. An hour later I had to leave again to meet a friend. I was running late, and the quickest thing to do was to put on those black shoes.

My friend and I had a nice long chat, and I returned home mentally refreshed. 

This time I swapped out my nice jeans for wear around the house jeans, took off my shoes, and put on a pair of slippers. I played with Jackson the Cat and we took a nap on the bed together. The nap was supposed to be short, but I overslept and had to scramble to get ready to leave for a Super Bowl party. For the third time in the day the problematic black shoes were the easiest option. I had a couple of spare minutes, so I Googled How to fix squeaking shoes.

On the first hit I learned that if the shoes had removable insoles (mine did) I could take them out, sprinkle baby powder on the shoe bed, and reinsert the insole. It worked! Five years ago: Fat Valentine's Day

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Let’s Hear It For Pizza!

Hubby Tony and I usually go out to dinner on Saturday night so we don't have to cook, but this week other commitments will keep us from doing that. Tony threw out changing to Friday night, but when I found out that today is National Pizza Day our plans for an easy, non-cooking night were set.

Unfortunately, Tony's schedule didn't allow us to enjoy a leisurely meal out but we did the next best thing. At the grocery store we browsed through the selection of frozen pizzas from local companies and decided on a St. Louis style (with a thin, cracker-like crust made without yeast and topped with Provel cheese). I've had a lot of rich food lately so I advocated for the lighter Tomato Basil Garlic pie. While we were there we also grabbed a Caesar salad kit and some adult beverages.

Shortly before dinner time I preheated the oven and tossed the salad. When the oven was hot Tony quarterbacked the baking and serving of the pizza. St. Louis style pizza is traditionally cut into squares, but tonight he chose triangles.

We sat down, poured drinks, and started eating. When we were finished everything was gone. That meant that clean up was easy, too.

Five year ago: I Thought The Holidays Were Over

Monday, February 6, 2023

Shining Sun

The other day I was leaving to run some errands. When I opened the door I thought someone had stuck large Post-It notes on the wall. I looked closer, and realized that the bright squares were a series of sunshine patterns.

Moving towards the stairwell, I figured out that the vertical lines came from the balusters.

The sunlight was coming at just the perfect angle from the window on the landing between the garage and the first floor so it could travel up the stairwell and reflect onto the wall. If it was any other season the tree outside of the window would have blocked the light.

Five years ago: A Local Angle

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Wind Current Style

Since Hubby Tony and I joined the YMCA a couple of weeks ago I've been enjoyed their wide variety of group fitness classes. So far I've participated in Zumba, Step, and Yoga. Today was Cycling. 

It's been a long time since I worked out on an exercise bike with a group. At the gym before my previous one I used to take Spinning (the trademarked name for choreographed cycling classes) on a regular basis. When I moved from that gym to the one we just left there were no convenient Spin class times, and then the classes were moved to an upgraded membership level and it wasn't an option for me. At the Y all group classes are reserved on the app, and Cycling fills up quickly. When I opened up the app yesterday I was pleased to see availability this morning and jumped on the opportunity. 

With the reservation system there's no need to show up early to insure a space. Nevertheless, since every brand of exercise bike is a little different I gave myself extra time to make sure I was set up before the class started. That didn't matter since the instructor rolled in late, apologizing that she had been held up at a railroad crossing.

Inside the cycling room I picked a bike in the middle of the last row. It wasn't hard to adjust the seat  and handlebars and I was ready when the instructor cranked up the music. About a quarter of the way through the class the instructor walked around the room and turned on large oscillating fans. I happened to be right next to one. The breeze did a great job of keeping me cool, but every time it blew my way my hair went crazy. At the end of the class my style was quite interesting!

Five years ago today: Setup Snafu

Thursday, February 2, 2023

How Fast Is Enough?

I used to have a heavy foot on the gas pedal, but now I'm a 'recovering speeder' who tries to go the posted speed limit. My new habit comes in handy when I pass a hidden patrol car and I don't have to worry that I'm going to see flashing lights coming after me. However, the past few months it feels like traffic is going faster.

 The subdivision and non-highway streets I use on a regular basis have enough stop lights and signs that traffic usually flows at close to the posted rate. However, the interstate is different.

In the St. Louis metropolitan area the interstate speed limit is 60 miles per hour. To keep up with the flow of traffic it takes an additional five miles per hour (and on 8:00 on Sunday morning when I drive to the church to cook breakfast ten miles per hour is often more appropriate). Depending on how I'm feeling I either join in the speeding, or poke along in the far right lane and let all the other cars pass me.

As you move away from the city the speed limit rises to 65 mph, and maxes out at 70 mph. I'm not on these roads as much, but ironically, I don't see as much limit exceeding on these roads. Wonder why?

Five years ago: The Real To-Do List

Monday, January 30, 2023

Cooking Remotely

Last night the forecast called for a 60% chance of a light snow/sleet/freezing rain mix starting about 6 pm. By the time Hubby Tony and I turned on the news at 9 the highways were a mess--cars sliding off the road, jackknifed trucks and multiple crashes. Because of the issues several highways were closed.

MODOT (the Missouri Department of Transportation) said this morning's rush hour would be a mess, and advised people to not drive unless they had to. That was fine by me, because I didn't have anywhere to be until after lunch, which is when I would head to the church to make supper.

When I rolled out of bed this morning the only traffic sound I heard was a salt truck driving by. I ate breakfast, leisurely read the newspaper and all of the blogs in my feeder, then checked my email and Facebook before I got up from the table. It was lovely.

Two hours later I was tired of being in the house and looking for something to do. The collector road visible from the condo window looked like it was well-cleared, and the presence of a couple of sets of tire tracks on the subdivision street led me to believe that it was safe to go out. I sent a text to both priests at the church indicating that I was planning on being there unless I heard otherwise, then made a trip to the produce market and grocery store. My drive was non-eventful.

When it was time to leave for the church I looked at my phone and discovered two texts. One was from the associate, who asked me to purchase a couple of things for him at the grocery store. The other one was from the pastor, telling me to hunker down at home, and they would be okay without me. Pastor trumps associate, so all of a sudden my day was free.

Tony and I went to the mall and walked, then I came home and took a nap.

However, there was one tiny problem. One of the things I had planned to do at the church rectory was some pre-cooking for Wednesday's staff lunch. The directions on the boxed bar cookies I was serving for dessert called for baking and completely cooling the cookies before frosting. I wouldn't have enough time to do all of that on Wednesday.

After thinking about the issue for a bit I came up with a solution. With the permission of the business manager I logged in from home home long enough to prepare and bake the cookies. I had to use my own pan, butter, and eggs. On Wednesday I will just have to make sure to bring my pan and replacement ingredients home.

Five years ago today: Isn't It Ironic?

Saturday, January 28, 2023

TG And KG 4Ever

Today the weather was more like late March than late January, with a high temperature of almost 60 degrees. Since tomorrow will be back to normal (a high just a little above freezing), Hubby Tony and I decided we needed to get outside.

After looking at the activities going on in the area, we decided on the Fete De Glace Ice Festival in the historic Fifth Street area of St. Charles. Unfortunately, hundreds of people had the same idea we did. The area was packed, and it was hard to see any of the ice carvers at work.

We left the ice festival and walked to the Foundry Art Center. At the door we learned there was a chili and beer festival going on. That did not interest us at all, but we walked through the galleries and I enjoyed seeing the art. One of the areas was called a Graffiti Room. The walls were wrapped with cardboard, and a table in the middle held a large container of markers. Although the cardboard was almost completely covered, there was just enough room for me to add some graffiti of my own.

Five years ago today: Field Trip Day

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Astrology Advice

Today's newspaper horoscope said:

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)— Today is an 8 — Indulge yourself with household projects. Beautify spaces and nurture your household with hospitality. Reduce clutter. Simplify and clarify. Share domestic treats with family.

The winter weather system that the meteorologists were hyping up for the past few days turned out to be a dud. Instead of the 4-6 inches of snow originally predicted our area got about an inch, and with temperatures just below the freezing mark it didn't take a big rise for things to start melting. By lunchtime most of the streets were snow-free.

However, based on the forecast many schools and entities were cancelled last night or first thing in the morning. The church I work at decided to open the office at noon and passed on the staff lunch that I would normally prepare. Just like that I had a day to do nothing.

In addition to filling up my time with copious amounts internet surfing and computer mah jong, I decided to honor my horoscope by:

  • Cleaning out a jewelry box that I have been meaning to get around to for weeks. I put all the broken and unused pieces in a bag to donate to Monarch Jewelry. When that was done, I filtered through my earring and necklace containers and pulled out anything I didn't think I would use any more. From there I sorted through a few dresser drawers and purged some items.
  • Once again I cleaned off the kitchen island, which was cluttered with receipts and plastic bags. I put everything where it belonged, and found a home for some miscellaneous items.
  • I talked with a friend about a volunteer coordinator job I do (which she used to do some time back) and got some tips about monthly reporting. I learned that my friend had given the last coordinator a formatted document to use. At the beginning of the year the last coordinator had given me a flash drive with all her information. I got busy and never got around to looking at it.

    Rather than recreate the wheel I decided to find that document. However, I couldn't remember where I put the flash drive. While I searched I straightened. By the time I found it, a corner of my office was well-cleaned.
  • I baked a batch of muffins, starting with a container of juice from the freezer that turned out to be pumpkin. I added a scoop of cocoa powder and a teaspoon of cinnamon into the dry oatmeal and whole wheat flour. The two dozen tasty muffins will last for a couple of weeks.
  • For dinner I made some savory oatmeal (four servings-enough for tomorrow night's dinner too). There are definitely benefits to 'sharing domestic treats'.

Five years ago: Lippy

Monday, January 23, 2023

Third-Degree Times Two

You've heard of the Air Force's ultra-high-security, super-secret base in Nevada, known simply as "Area 51"? 

Well, late one afternoon, the Air Force folks out at Area 51 were very surprised to see a Cessna landing at their "secret" base. They immediately impounded the aircraft and hauled the pilot into an interrogation room.

The pilot's story was that he took off from Vegas, got lost, and spotted the base just as he was about to run out of fuel. The Air Force started a full FBI background check on the pilot and held him overnight during the investigation.   

By the next day, they were finally convinced that the pilot really was lost and wasn't a spy. They gassed up his airplane, gave him a terrifying "you-did-not-see-a-base" briefing, told him Vegas was that-a-way and sent him on his way.  

The next day, to the total disbelief of the Air Force, the same Cessna showed up again. Once again, the MP's surrounded the plane...only this time there were two people in the plane.  

The same pilot jumped out and said, "Do anything you want to me, but my wife is in the plane and you have to tell her where I was last night."

Saturday, January 21, 2023


Earlier today Liz at Finding Life Hard? asked if I had heard about what3words. I had not, but Wikipedia told me:

"What3words is a proprietary geocode system designed to identify any location on the surface of the earth with a resolution of about 3 metres (9.8 ft)".
The article goes on to say:
"What3words differs from most location encoding systems in that it uses words rather than strings of numbers or letters, and the pattern of this mapping is not obvious; the algorithm mapping locations to words is protected by copyright."

I had fun playing around with the site. To start, I entered an address in the search box in the upper left hand corner. The search box changed to show the what3words identifier, and a line pointed to the location on the map. I found out that the mall close to my house was, and the grocery store across the street was snap.hails.limbs.The nearby park was descended.topped.frock.

There's an option to share the information via email or social media platforms. You can navigate with several different apps. Signing up for an account lets you save locations and sync the information across devices.
Five years ago today: Time For Some Updates

Friday, January 20, 2023

Y Not?

Hubby Tony and I have been members of a local multi-branch gym since 2009. I like it because they have a nice selection of aerobic machines, weight machines, and group exercise classes. If I want to, I can find a branch just about any direction my errands take me. 

In October the branch I use most frequently started a renovation process. Each day I went in it was interesting to see what had changed. Two portable restroom trailers (one for men and one for women) were set up outside the back door to replace the now non-existent locker rooms. The Cardio Theater room was closed, and then encased behind sheets of plastic. The Spinning room went dark.

Shortly before Thanksgiving I received a message that the location was going to temporarily close so they could complete the work in a more timely fashion. There was a promise it would be open again at the first of the year. We could have put a freeze on our account, but instead we went to other branches sporadically, then left town for the holidays. We got back home one week into the new year, but the location was still closed. When I looked into the issue I learned the reopening date was now mid-February. 

Last week Tony and I went out to dinner with some friends and learned they were getting ready to join the YMCA. At that point changing gyms hadn't even occurred to me, but the more Tony and I talked about it the more sense it made. I had fond memories of a Y family membership we had years ago, but at our old house the closest location wasn't particularly convenient. However, at our new house there is a branch just three miles away. Earlier this week Tony and I toured the facility, then decided to join. 

I've now gone a couple of times-once for a group exercise class, and once to use the aerobic and weight machines. Both experiences were positive. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of the aquatic classes and doing some water walking in the pool.

The Y membership is month to month. The auto payment for our current gym won't happen for a couple of weeks, so we have a little time to decide which place works best for us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Adventures In Instant Pot Cooking

You may remember that on Wednesday I prepare staff luncheon for a church. Today's menu was chicken stew served over polenta, green salad, and bread. One of the staff was celebrating their birthday, so dessert was a store-bought chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles.

On my way there I stopped at the grocery store to purchase ingredients. I had just started arranging those ingredients on the kitchen island when the associate priest walked in.

He asked what was on the menu. I told him.

He asked how I was preparing the stew.

It sounded like the question had an ulterior motive, so I asked if he had any suggestions. As a matter of fact he did, saying that his Instant Pot would do a great job.

I had never thought about preparing stew that way, but was intrigued with the concept. I received an Instant Pot five years ago. Since that time I've used it on a regular basis, but predominantly for cooking rice, lentils, and dried beans. My stew 'recipe' was more like an idea floating around in my head than an actual recipe, but I suspected the priest would be disappointed if I didn't use his toy, and I'm nothing if not flexible so I told him I would give it a try.

He beamed, pulled out his phone and searched, then started giving me cooking suggestions. The information was coming much too fast, so I told him I would figure it out and see him in a couple of hours when it was time to eat.

After he left I did my own Google search and I decided my inspiration recipe would be the one that had "Best" in it's title. I used the inspiration recipe more for cooking times than for actual ingredients. My dish had boneless chicken thighs, onion/garlic, carrots, and celery. (And at the end, when the ratio of liquid to solids was off I threw in some leftover oven fried potato chunks from Sunday's breakfast.) The liquid was a combination of cream of chicken soup, a partial jar of pizza sauce from the refrigerator, white wine, and chicken broth.

This Instant Pot had a different pressure release regulator valve than mine, but I found the priest and he showed me how it worked. After I sauteed the vegetables, put the rest of the ingredients in, and sealed the lid on, it took 25 minutes for the pot to come to pressure and cook, with another 15 minutes for steam release. At the end I mixed in a corn starch slurry that added an additional five minutes.

After the meal was over there wasn't much stew left over so I'm considering that a success.

Five years ago today: A Wrong Remark

Monday, January 16, 2023

Opposite Intent

A contronym is a word with two opposite (contradictory) meanings. The words can be homonyms (words with similar spelling or pronunciation) or antonyms (words with opposite meaning). Some examples: 

  • Bill: A payment, or an invoice for payment
  • Bolt: To secure, or to flee 
  • Bound: Heading to a destination, or restrained from movement 
  • Consult: To offer advice, or to obtain it 
  • Custom: A common practice, or a special treatment 
  • Dust: To add fine particles, or to remove them  
  • Finished: Completed, or ended or destroyed 
  • First degree: Most severe in the case of a murder charge, or least severe in reference to a burn 
  • Garnish: To furnish, as with food preparation, or to take away, as with wages 
  • Give out: To provide, or to stop because of a lack of supply 
  • Handicap: An advantage provided to ensure equality, or a disadvantage that prevents equal achievement 
  • Hold up: To support, or to impede 
  • Left: Remained, or departed 
  • Model: An exemplar, or a copy 
  • Out: Visible, as with stars showing in the sky, or invisible, in reference to lights 
  • Overlook: To supervise, or to neglect 
  • Oversight: Monitoring, or failing to oversee 
  • Peer: A person of the nobility, or an equal 
  • Put out: Extinguish, or generate 
  • Puzzle: A problem, or to solve one 
  • Quantum: Significantly large, or a minuscule part 
  • Refrain: To desist from doing something, or to repeat 
  • Rent: To purchase use of something, or to sell use 
  • Sanction: To approve, or to boycott 
  • Scan: To peruse, or to glance 
  • Screen: To present, or to conceal 
  • Skinned: Covered with skin, or with the skin removed 
  • Splice: To join, or to separate 
  • Temper: To soften, or to strengthen 
  • Throw out: To dispose of, or to present for consideration 
  • Transparent: Invisible, or obvious 
  • Trim: To decorate, or to remove excess from 
  • Trip: A journey, or a stumble 
  • Unbending: Rigid, or relaxing 
  • Variety: A particular type, or many types 
  • Wear: To endure, or to deteriorate 
  • Weather: To withstand, or to wear away 
  • Wind up: To end, or to start up

Can you think of any others? 

Five years ago: Adventure Is Where You Find It