Sunday, October 1, 2023

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

I suppose there's someone somewhere who would be fooled by an email with the subject line RE Post Docs! Your Tax Return for fiscal year 2023 is being Held For Processing ID-#645124348 that came from TAX IRS (with an email address containing of 7 random letters, a dash, 19 more random letters, a domain name from the UK, and nothing but a downloadable PDF in the body. I know it won't be me.

 This seems like an unnecessary product to me...but I'm not a dude. If you are and have a different opinion let me know, please.

Have you ever seen a touchless holy water dispenser? It was new to me. You put the fingers of your right hand underneath and it dispenses a few drops of water to bless yourself with.

I can't even begin to imagine who the target market for this is. Thoughts?

Friday, September 29, 2023

Decluttering And Eradicating

When we moved into our condo a little over three and a half years ago I thought I had done a good job of getting rid of superfluous things. However, it turns out Hubby Tony and I haven't used many of the items we put into the basement storage unit. I try to get down there to declutter a couple of times a year.

Last night was one of those sessions. I started by tossing some cardboard boxes into the recycling bin and moved on. There were two plastic storage tubs on the shelves that were nearly empty. I had held onto them 'just in case', but it was time for them to go. I consolidated their contents into a third tub and stacked the now-empty ones outside the storage unit.

Seeing the empty spots on the shelves was a great motivator. I decided to tackle a large plastic tub on a bottom shelf that contained miscellaneous gardening supplies. When I picked up the tub and hoisted it onto the floor dozens of ants started cascading off of the shelf onto the floor. And when I looked at the shelf there were easily twice that many left!

I dropped the tub back onto the shelf like a hot potato and hustled upstairs to ponder my options. 

Tony was getting ready to leave for a meeting at church, and when I told him about the issue he asked what we could do. Years ago I used to sprinkle a combination of borax and flour around the outside perimeter of the house to keep ants from coming in, and responded that I thought it would be good to start with a natural remedy this time. Thee was an almost-empty box of borax in the laundry room, which I took downstairs and sprinkled on the floor and shelf. 

I didn't see Tony again until this morning, and asked him if he had looked in the storage room. He told me he had, and that the ants were still active. Shortly after that I left to go to a meeting and run some errands. When I checked my phone after the meeting there was a text from Tony telling me he had gone to the hardware store, bought ant spray, and used it liberally in the storage room. 

Tonight I went down to the unit to continue my interrupted decluttering. There were a few ants still moving around, so I think we'll be going back to the hardware store for some traps.

Five years ago today: Bountiful Biscuits

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Who Will Eat It?

Last week I was talking to the business manager at the church. As part of our conversation, I learned that the parishes around his farm in Calhoun County in Illinois vied for the bragging rights for the best turtle soup.

I said I had eaten a lot of food, but turtle soup was not one of them. Business Manager said he had a container in his freezer and asked if I wanted to serve it as part of a staff lunch. Maybe with sandwiches? I told him I would let him know. A couple of days later I found a nice eye of round roast in the discounted section of the grocery store. It would make great sandwiches, and just like that I had a meal planned.

On Monday I roasted the meat and put it in the refrigerator. Today I sliced it thin, poured the drippings on top, and reheated it. (In addition to the soup and sandwiches there was a green salad, chips, pickles, and cheesecake).

The frozen soup filled half of a round paper ice cream container. After it was heated, the tomato base was thick with small pieces of meat that looked like hamburger. I sampled the soup, and discovered the meat tasted like a cross between dark meat chicken and pork, with a little bit of gamy thrown in. The broth had an unidentifiable sweet spice flavor (allspice? cloves?).

Looks a little bit like chili, doesn't it?

 I put both small and large bowls on the serving line so people who wanted soup could take a little bit or more. There were seven people for lunch today. Several did not take soup. (One person said they had some before and did not like it. Two are not adventurous eaters.)  One person took a small bowlful, but did not eat it. The rest of us filled large bowls and chowed down. 

At the end of the meal there were several servings of soup left over, and I brought a little bit home for Hubby Tony. He liked it, too.

Five years ago today: One Thing Leads To Another....

Monday, September 25, 2023

Italian Oven Baked Turnover

Last week the Associate priest asked me if they could have calzone for dinner tonight. I've never made the dish before, but I knew enough about it to know that I could figure out the procedure and agreed. The finished meal was well-received,, and I also learned a lot along the way.

My original understanding was that a calzone was a folded in half pizza with the edges pinched together. However, the first thing I learned was that a calzone does not have any sauce inside. Instead, marinara is served on the side for dipping. The second thing I learned was that traditional calzones have to have ricotta cheese (along with mozzarella) as part of the filling. The third thing I learned that a calzone was a first cousin to a stromboli, a type of savory turnover that is rolled like a burrito and cut into spiral slices. A stromboli usually has sauce inside and only has mozzarella cheese.

Once I figured out what I was making I found a recipe and made a shopping list. On the way to the church today I stopped by the grocery store for ingredients. Because I was also doing some precooking for Wednesday's staff lunch I took the easy way out and bought a pizza crust from the dairy case. (That rectangular crust didn't easily lend itself to circular pieces so my calzones were square instead of moon shaped. Neither priest complained.)

I divided the large pizza dough rectangle into eight pieces, quartered pepperoni slices and microwaved them to get rid of some of the grease, and sauteed colored pepper strips. 

When it was assembly time I put a spoonful of ricotta on each rectangle, added pepperoni, peppers, and shredded mozzarella. Next I folded the dough over the ingredients, pressed the edges together, then went back over the edges again with a fork to crimp them well. Right before baking I cut a slit on the top of each calzone so the steam could release during baking. 

I put the tray of calzones in the oven and set the timer. Halfway through I looked in the oven and noticed the calzones puffing up nicely. A couple of them were rocking gently back and forth as the steam came out of the top vent. 

In addition to the calzone and marinara sauce, dinner included a salad with Imo's Pizza sweet Italian dressing. I made enough calzone for two meals, and I'm pretty sure they'll be gone by my next cooking shift on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

There Wasn't Much Autumn Today

The Autumnal Equinox happened in my area at 1:50 am this morning.  Now the days will get shorter, and the temperatures will drop, so it's time to enjoy the outside before the weather goes downhill. 

My first activity this morning was a cycling class at the gym. I came home and showered, then realized it wasn't exactly fall weather yet and a sleeveless tank top and shorts would be more comfortable than a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. Thank goodness I had procrastinated putting the summer clothes away.

Hubby Tony and I ate lunch on the deck. I noticed the huge maple tree outside the front door was already sporting a few colored leaves.

The small downtown area of our city was having an Autumn Outdoor Fest. Their advertising promised music, store sidewalk sales, and activities at the Farmer's Market. After lunch we fed Jackson the Cat and left.

Our first stop was at the bank just north of the downtown area, where I used the ATM. We browsed in the outdoor shop right next door, but when we came out we realized that because of construction the sidewalk going south was closed. We had to double back and walk around the block. There was a nice breeze blowing, but the sun was high in the sky. There were quite a few trees to provide shade, but by the time we made it around the block I was sweaty and wished I had done a better job of sunscreening my exposed skin. 

We walked down the east side of the downtown main street and stopped to listen to some music at a pocket park. Unfortunately, the singer's set was over five minutes after we arrived and the next one wasn't going to start for another 30 minutes, so we continued south to the Farmer's Market. There were some great-looking children's activities there, but we didn't have any children with us. I got myself a locally grown apple (which turned out to be excellent) and Tony picked out a huge plum (which he said was ripe and juicy). We sat in the shade and rested a few minutes, then crossed the road and walked north. I was disappointed in the number of stores that were participating in the sidewalk sale, but we popped into a couple to see what they had and take advantage of their air conditioning.

At this point Tony and I agreed it was too hot and we should just go home. Our last stop before heading back to the car was at a cafe to get coffee to go. I was tempted to order something fall-flavored, but decided to wait until it was actually appropriate to do so.

Five years ago today: No More Stains

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Gimme A Beet

One of the things on sale at the Asian market this week was beets (only 59¢ a pound)! I love beets, but Hubby Tony isn't as much of a fan, so I picked out one nice-looking large beet and added it to my bag.

As much as I enjoy fresh beets, I keep them as an occasional treat, mainly because they're a mess to process and cook. Red beet juice stains everything they come into contact with....countertops, cutting boards, and hands. Of course, since I don't cook them much I can never remember exactly how to do it. My BFF Google does, though. 

The first hit on my search for roasting beets was Cookie+Kate's Perfect Roasted Beets. I've never found a bad recipe on that website, and I figured this one was another keeper. Turns out I was right. 

The recipe only had three ingredients-beets, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. I left off the oil and dry roasted my beet. It still tasted good. Instead of the wedges that Kate suggested I did thick slices-mainly because it was easier and I didn't care about the end presentation.

I preheated the oven while I swashed and sliced the beet, then placed my slices on a Silpat silicone baking mat and took a scrubby to every surface the beet had touched. At the end of the cooking time the Silpat was covered in dark red juice spots (but they came off with a quick wash). I ate one of the smaller slices, then went back for a second one. I moved the rest of the pieces to a cooling rack, and then into a container for the refrigerator for munching on the next few days.

Five years ago: What Is Your Hourly Rate?

Monday, September 18, 2023

Chickens Eating Chicken

Last week my COVID symptoms kept me from doing my cooking shifts at the church. Today I put on my mask and showed up.

I decided to made an easy dinner of grocery store deli fried chicken, potato salad, and sliced tomato.  My shopping list also included milk and bread for the pastor and a package of bacon requested by the associate priest.

At the rectory I said hello to the parish office staff and headed back to the kitchen. After putting the perishables away and doing a few dishes left in the sink I put the bacon in the oven to bake. While it was cooking I took a good look in the refrigerator and realized that no one had eaten leftovers since I had last been there.

The remains from a chicken fajita lunch were now more than a week old. Time for them to go. I wondered if it would be strange to feed them to the chickens? They're omnivores, which means they eat just about anything, but it seemed weird. After thinking about it for a couple minutes, though, I decided to give it a try. 

I know from experience these chickens aren't fans of onions so I sent the vegetables down the garbage disposal, then rinsed the chicken to remove the taco seasoning and cut the strips into small pieces. When the bacon was done I grabbed the bowl of chicken and headed across the parking lot to the coop, where all three hens were out in the run. 

I opened the door and they scattered, but after I tossed the pieces of meat down and walked out they quickly returned. I've never seen them enjoy a snack as much as today's. They were actually squawking at each other as they competed over the morsels. It was so much fun to watch!

Five years ago: Go Away, Already!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Isolated No More!

Because I was with someone who tested positive for COVID on Monday, the next day I turned to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection for reliable advice. Their page What to Do if You Were Exposed to COVID-19 had a handy Isolation and Exposure calculator. I told the calculator I had been exposed to the virus, had not had a confirmed case of COVID within the past 90 days, and the date I was exposed. The calculator told me that I didn't need to stay home unless I developed symptoms.

On Wednesday, two days after exposure, I woke up with a scratchy throat, a headache, and a general 'off' feeling and changed my weekend plans. Over the course of that day my nose started running, I developed a cough, my body ached, and I couldn't stay awake for more than a couple of hours at a time.

But each day since then got a little better. Today was my fifth day of isolation, and according to the guidelines that meant it was testing day. I was completely symptom free, and it was satisfying to have the test come out negative, meaning I could be out in public places as long as I wear a mask indoors for another five days.

It felt strange, but good to be out. I went to a couple of grocery stores with Hubby Tony. Later in the afternoon we went to Mass, where we sat in the social distancing, masks required section. On the way home I popped into Costco, then drove across the street to a restaurant and got a gyro salad to go.

I suspect the time will go quickly and it won't be long until I'll be putting on a mask by choice instead of by obligation.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Fun Emoji Combinations

Do you know about Google Emoji Kitchen? It's a way to merge two emojis and then use them.

The process is easy. The first step is to go to and search for Emoji Kitchen. Next, click on the Get Cooking button.

From the list of available emojis, click on two. They will show up in the first boxes, and the merge will be in the box on the right. There's an option to share your creation via email or social media, or you can right click to copy or save the image.

Sometimes combining two similar emojis came up with different results. For example, joining the newspaper and bear together featured the animal above the fold on the front page. Newspaper and dog had the dog carrying the paper in its mouth.

Combining grinning face with open mouth showing upper teeth and pink hearts yielded hearts with open mouthed smiles. Swapping out the face for pumpkins gave pumpkins with hearts floating above them.

I had a great time wasting time experimenting with the site. If you decide to play with it what do you think?

Five years ago today: Wanted: Cookies

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

No Retreating For Me

Since June I've been one of 30 women planning a religious retreat at a local retreat center. The event starts on Thursday evening and ends on Sunday morning, but since I'm part of the organizing team my weekend actually starts with set up Thursday morning. It should. But it won't.

Monday morning Hubby Tony and I did money counting at the parish office. The counting is done in a room with a large conference table.Tony and I were at one end of the table and the other two people (another couple) sat at the other end.

Tuesday morning we received an email from one of the other counters saying they had just tested positive for Covid. The CDC guidelines say that anyone exposed should wear a mask, and then isolate if symptoms show up. I mulled over what that would mean for a weekend-long event. I would hate to be the one to pass on the virus to anyone, but I knew that at least one of the planning team members had respiratory issues and chances were good that other planning team members or retreatants would too. 

In the end my mulling was pointless; this morning I woke up with a scratchy throat, a headache, and a general 'off' feeling and it was obvious what I had to do.

I emailed the retreat leadership team and the organizers of the events I was working on to let them know, and made arrangements to drop off my supplies at another team member's house. When that was done I put away the personal items I had piled in the corner of the bedroom to take with me, and recycled the paperwork I no longer needed.

The event will go on without me, but it will be strange to have a quiet weekend instead of the jam-packed one I have been planning for. 

Five years ago today: The Middle Of The Month

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

A Day To Encourage Others

According to Wikipedia, September 12th is the National Day of Encouragement, a time to provide motivation and positive affirmations toward others.
Over the years I've found that it doesn't take much effort to build people up. Tonight I participated in a Zoom committee meeting and did my best to be an encourager. As we hashed through some questions one of the members was quiet, and even though I wasn't leading the meeting I went out of my way to ask her what she thought.

At the end of the meeting we had gotten a lot done, and right before I logged off I added a "great job" to everyone. 

Five years ago: Better Than An Exterminator

Sunday, September 10, 2023

See You Later, Alligator

Yesterday Hubby Tony and I attended a performance of the play "Million Dollar Quartet". The jukebox musical (where the songs are well-known popular tunes rather than original) dramatizes a recording session at the Sun Record recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee on December 4, 1956. The session included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis (who was a newcomer at the time). At the end of the show, after the bows, there was a 'encore' concert and each musician performed one complete song. Carl Perkins' was "See You Later Alligator". 

Listening to that made me think of a teacher from the preschool I used to work at who had a wide assortment of rhyming goodbyes. Every day was different, and it was often tied into something the class had talked about earlier. Some of the ones I remember: 

  • See you later, Alligator 
  • After a while, Crocodile 
  • Gotta go, Buffalo 
  • See you soon, Racoon (or sometimes Baboon) 
  • Gotta Bail, Whale 
  • Take care, Polar Bear 
  • Peace Out, Trout 
  • In a shake, Garter Snake 
  • Hit the road, Happy Toad 
  • Gotta scat, Cat 
  • Can't stay, Blue Jay 
  • Bye-bye, Butterfly 
  • Toodle-loo, Kangaroo 
  • Time to scoot, Little Newt 
  • Till then, Penguin 
  • Bye now, Brown Cow 
  • Adios, Hippos 
  • Hasta Mañana, Iguana 
  • Out the door, Dinosaur 
  • To your house, Quiet Mouse 
  • Better skadoodle, Poodle 
  • Until then, Hen 
  • Adieu, Cockatoo 
  • Farewell, Gazelle 
  • Hit the Street, Parakeet
Five years ago: In Lieu Of

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Formal Preferred, Please

The daughter of a friend of Hubby Tony is getting married in October,. We've had the date on the calendar for months. When the invitation came several weeks ago I was surprised to read that the dress code was 'black tie preferred'. 

Tony and I aren't particularly black tie people. He can get away with wearing a dark suit, but I didn't have anything appropriate to wear hanging in my closet and would have to buy a dress. 

A couple of days after Tony RSVPd we went to the mall to walk. There's a store that always displays fancy formals in the window. I enjoy seeing them, but before that day there was never a reason to go in. I figured all of their merchandise would be too fancy for what I was looking for, but they had a nice selection of dresses that would work for me. That day was a sweltering one, and I was too sweaty to think about trying anything on, but the helpful associate encouraged me to come back later. 

I did browse the formal wear departments of the anchor stores while I was there, and found out their prices were higher. For a couple of weeks I popped into the thrift stores by my house on a regular basis. I didn't have any luck. 

Earlier this week I made a solo trip to the formal shop, tried on some dresses, and settled on my two favorites. The next day Tony went with me and we decided on sequined sheath dress with a lace jacket.

As she rang up the sale I asked the associate about accessories. She gave me suggestions for shoes (black, red, nude, or silver) and purses (which can either match the dress or the shoes). She also told me that in her opinion I did not need any jewelry other than earrings (and I have some fake diamond dangles that I can polish up and use).  

Now I just have to start looking for the other pieces. I'm not a dress shoe type of person either. Wish me luck.

Five years ago: A Wow! Day

Monday, September 4, 2023

Naming Of The Driving Paths

I had a hankering for a good hot dog today, so Hubby Tony and I ended up at Steve's Hot Dogs in the South Grand neighborhood. Ironically, I ended up ordering a Al Hrabratsky bratwurst, a play on the name of Al Hrabosky who is a former Cardinal baseball player and now color commentator for the team. His playing days nickname was the Mad Hungarian, and the sausage was topped with brown mustard, sauerkraut, celery salt and Hungarian paprika. Hubby Tony ordered a St. Louis Dog and we split both, along with a basket of fries.

Coming home on the highway we got in a discussion about the naming conventions for roads.  Tony thought that it made a difference if the road ran east/west or north/south, and that things changed when a road passed through the border from St. Louis City to St. Louis County, but the highway exits we passed didn't prove his points. When we got home we I did some research and found out (thanks to Vox) the differences between streets, boulevards, avenues, and many other types of roads.

The major ones: 

  • Roads are the most general category, and a way to connect two points. 
  • Streets are public roads with buildings on both sides. They often run perpendicular to avenues. 
  • Avenues are public roads, often in a city, usually with trees or buildings on the side. They frequently run perpendicular to a street. 
  • Boulevards are wide streets with trees on both sides. They often have a median.

The article goes on to list many other types of roads. Many of them are represented in my area, although when you get out into the suburbs it seems like developers are less inclined to follow the conventions:

  • Lanes are narrow roads, often in a rural area. 
  • Drives often take their contours from the natural environment like a mountain or lake.
  • Ways are small streets off of a road. 
  • Courts are roads that end in a circle or loop.
  • Terraces usually describe streets following the tops of slopes. 
  • Places are roads or streets that usually have no throughway. 
  • Alleys are small pathways between buildings. They may or may not be wide enough to drive on.

The next category of roads wasn't part of our driving home discussion, but I found the definitions helpful:

  • Frontage Roads are also known as access or service roads. They run parallel to larger roads and provide local access. 
  • Highways are major public roads that usually connects multiple cities. 
  • Interstates are large, typically federally funded networks of roads that are part of a highway system. They may go between states, but don't have to. 
  • Turnpikes are part of a highway, but are usually a toll road. 
  • Freeways are part of a highway system. They are large roads with two or more lanes on each side. 
  • Parkways are large, decorated public roads. They are named for the parkland that often appears on the side of the road. 
  • Causeways are raised roads that pass across low or swampy ground or water. 
  • Beltways are highways surrounding a city. 
  • Crescents are winding roads that resemble a crescent. They may attach to a road at both ends.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Finding The Right Job

In the United States, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. The U.S Department of Labor says that Labor Day is "An annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers".  Most people include the day as part of a three-day weekend.

In honor of the holiday, here's a lengthy resume of someone who quite unsuccessful in the job market:

As a young man:

  • My first job was in an orange juice factory, but I couldn't concentrate on the same old boring rind, and I got canned.
  • I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn't hack it, so they gave me the axe.
  • I tried working in a doughnut shop, but I soon got tired of the hole business.
  • I manufactured calendars, but my days were numbered.
  • I tried to be a tailor, but I just wasn't suited for it. Mainly because it was a sew-sew job, de-pleating and de-pressing.
  • I took a job as an upholsterer, but I never recovered.

In my prime:

  • I tried working in a car muffler factory, but that was exhausting.
  • I wanted to be a barber, but I just couldn't cut it.
  • I was a pilot, but tended to wing it, and I didn't have the right altitude.
  • I studied to become a doctor, but I didn't have enough patients for the job.
  • I became a Velcro salesman, but I couldn't stick with it.
  • I tried my hand at a professional career in tennis, but it wasn't my racket. I was too high strung.
  • I became a baker, but it wasn't a cakewalk, and I couldn't make enough dough. They fired me after I left a cake out in the rain.
  • I was a masseuse for a while, but I rubbed people the wrong way.
  • I managed to get a good job working for a pool maintenance company, but the work was just too draining.
Later in life:
  • I became a personal trainer in a gym, but they said I wasn't fit for the job.
  • I thought about being a historian, but I couldn't see a future in it.
  • I was an electrician, but I found the work shocking and revolting, so they discharged me.
  • I tried being a teacher, but I soon lost my principal, my faculties, and my class.
  • I turned to farming, but I wasn't outstanding in my field.
  • I took a job as an elevator operator. The job had its ups and downs, and I got the shaft.
  • I sold origami, but the business folded.
  • I took a job at UPS, but I couldn't express myself.
  • I tried being a fireman, but I suffered burnout.
  • I became a banker, but I lacked interest and maturity, and finally withdrew from the job.
  • I was a professional fisherman, but I couldn't live on my net income.
  • I worked in a shoe factory, but I just didn't fit in. They thought I was a loafer, and I got the boot.
  • I worked at Starbucks, but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind.
  • So, I've retired, and I find I'm a perfect fit for this job!
Five years ago today: Emoji Fun

Friday, September 1, 2023

Back Up And Running

Free SVG
You may remember that on Monday our internet went down, and the earliest technician appointment was last night.

The appointment arrival window was from 5-6 pm. I had a meeting to attend, and when I left the house Hubby Tony had received notification that the technician was on their way. I wished him luck on my way out. 

My meeting ended at 9:00, and I hadn't gotten any updates from Tony. I texted him asking about the project status. Seconds later I learned that we were back online. (Alleluia!) The whole appointment had gone so smoothly he'd even had time to do some grocery shopping and reconnect our TV to the network.

When I got home Tony shared the details of the appointment. I learned that our eight-unit condo building has a master box in the basement. It had so many splitters coming off the main wiring that it was hard for the technician to figure out which one was ours. However, he eventually found the correct set, then realized that our wires were corroded. He put in new ones, which fixed the problem.

 Tony and I will be headed to the store today to buy a nice gift certificate for the neighbor who let us use her signal.

Five years ago today: Downtown Fun

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Touristing In Our Home Town

This morning Hubby Tony and I were looking for something to do for a date. The temperature has been mild (but it will turn into summer again over the weekend), so something outside was definitely in order. 

A chance article in the newspaper which talked about how the baseball Cardinal's horrible season was negatively impacting the downtown restaurants and bars got me thinking that Tony and I should play tourist and eat lunch in the area. Our downtown area has its problems, but I want to make sure it stays around. And so just like that we had a plan.

Tony had a commitment at 1:00, so we left a little after breakfast. Unfortunately that meant we ended up in the end of rush hour traffic, but that only added five minutes to the trip. After finding a place to park we started walking without much of a plan. A block later we saw the Central Library building and decided to go in.

St. Louis Public Library Central Branch

The Carnegie library building takes up an entire city block. It was designed by architect Cass Gilbert (who also designed the U.S. Supreme Court Building), built in 1912, and renovated in 2012.
In 2022 it was named one of the 11 Most Beautiful Libraries in the United States by Fodor’s Travel.

We walked up the imposing flight of stairs to the entrance and opened the huge brass-framed doors. Inside, I stopped for a minute to survey the incredible architecture. After taking in the beautiful wood reception desk, ornate molding, and sweeping marble staircases on either side I saw a large sign for the current exhibit in the Great Hall, called PROM Magazine: Where did you go to high school? 

PROM was a local monthly magazine that documented high school life from 1947-1973. I wasn't in high school at the time so I didn't know much about it, but I learned that every school (public, private and parochial) had a student correspondent who reported on what was going on at their school. The stereotypical question people ask each other in the St. Louis area is "where did you go to high school?", and the magazine may have been the start of it.

Afterwards we walked up the beautiful staircase to the second floor where we found an exhibit of photographs called Cementland: Bob Cassilly's Unfinished Masterpiece. Bob Cassilly was a local and founded the City Museum. A later project was Cementland, which would repurpose a former cement factory in north St. Louis into an amusement park. Unfortunately Cassilly died working on the site.

The property stood vacant for a decade, and eventually sold. Before it was dismantled photographer Richard Sprengeler documented it. The stark black and white photographs showed a site that had gone to ruin. There was graffiti on just about every surface, and the outside shots showed Nature taking over.


 After we left the museum we walked around for a bit and ended up at the Soldiers Memorial. Here, we walked through the special exhibit entitled Vietnam At War and At Home. One half of the hall had displays about the war from an international perspective. The other half focused on the local impact.

After so much culture we were getting hungry. We walked several blocks east to Chili Mac's Diner, where Tony got tamales covered in chili. I got a Junior Slinger (a hamburger patty, American fries, and an egg, all covered with chili). The restaurant uses the chili recipe from a long-departed restaurant named O.T. Hodge. It was as good as I remembered.


Monday, August 28, 2023

Offline And Online

Last night after dinner Hubby Tony and I figured out our WiFi was down. He called our provider (Spectrum), who verified that there was no outage in our area. They did some things on their end and asked Tony to reboot things on ours. We thought the issue was taken care of and left the house for a walk.

When we got home we discovered the problem was still there. Tony called again and this time eventually got escalated to an actual person. After a couple of tests the associate determined we needed to have someone come out and take a look at the issue. The first available technician appointment was Thursday evening...four days away! 


Tony didn't have any choice but to accept the appointment, and the associate promised we would be informed if something came up sooner.

Of course without WiFi we couldn't do anything online. Our streaming television also needs the WiFi signal, so we spent the rest of the night reading an accumulated stack of magazines and newspapers and went to bed early.

This morning, without WiFi I couldn't read the newspaper on my iPad, check emails, scroll through Facebook, or peruse the blogs that had accumulated in my reader. Instead I read a magazine while I ate breakfast, then started my day early.

While I was getting ready to leave for the gym it occurred to me that our downstairs neighbor has the same internet provider, so I sent her a text to see if she was having any issues. She wasn't. Tony and I decided to get to the gym early and use their WiFi before we started exercising (a class for me and the cybex and weight rooms for him).

My class was almost ready to start when I got another text from my downstairs neighbor asking if we would like to use her WiFi network until we resolved our issue. Before I was able to respond she sent the network name and password information. What a nice gesture!

Five years ago today: Chain Of Foods

Friday, August 25, 2023

Soft And Firm

Tomorrow I will be attending an all-day fellowship business meeting in Springfield Missouri. Depending on how many bathroom stops you make the drive from my house takes somewhere between three and four hours, so I came this afternoon with two other meeting attendees.  

My lodging for the night is in the same hotel as the meeting. When I walked into the room I noticed that the bed was made up with a white duvet and large, fluffy pillows. It wasn't until I was getting ready for bed I noticed that they were two different pillow firmnesses...and Housekeeping had used pillowcases that indicated which type each was.

 Five years ago: I Hope They're Wrong, But I'm Not Holding My Breath

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Heat Wave Caroling

"The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire") is one of my favorite carols, which was written by Robert Wells and Mel Tormé in 1945. However, I just learned that the tune came together in an effort by the writers to think themselves cool.

Wikipedia says:

According to Tormé, the song was written in July 1945 during a blistering hot summer. It was in an effort to "stay cool by thinking cool" that the most-performed (according to BMI) Christmas song of all time was born."I saw a spiral pad on his (Wells's) piano with four lines written in pencil", Tormé recalled. "They started, 'Chestnuts roasting..., Jack Frost nipping..., Yuletide carols..., Folks dressed up like Eskimos.' Bob didn't think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics."

Unfortunately, listening to the song tonight didn't do much to cool me off. Maybe because at 8:31 pm it still feels like it's 102 degrees.

Five years ago: Removed Root

Monday, August 21, 2023

Hot And Humid. UGH!

My area, along with a good chunk of the middle of the country, is in the middle of a heat advisory. Until the weekend the temperatures will be close to 100 degrees, but the humidity will add another 5-10 degrees to that.

Just how hot and humid is it?

  • Our area is under an Excessive Heat Warning until Thursday night, which means that the Heat Index is forecast to be around 105 degrees for 4 consecutive days.
  • Yesterday Hubby Tony and I walked to the community clubhouse for a happy hour. The building is only two blocks away, but by time we got there I was a puddle of sweat.

  • When I come out of an air conditioned building my glasses fog up.
  • I went to the gym this morning for an aquatics class. When I got home I spread my towel over a chair on the deck. Eight hours later the towel was still wet.

  • At the church today I walked some scraps over to the chickens. They  grumpily told me it was too hot for them.
Five years ago: Yard Work Fun

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Combining Have Tos And Want Tos

Yesterday I had a couple of activities that took me to the South St. Louis area of the city. The temperature was decent, so I asked Hubby Tony if he wanted to come along with me and walk. He did. 

We both like finding new places to see, so I suggested to Tony that he do some research on what was around the area. He came back with a mainly residential street route that would also pass by a couple of parks. The area has a lot of mature trees, and their shade would make the walk even nicer.

As part of the adventure I promised Tony dinner from Imo's Pizza that, in honor of the nice weather, we would eat al fresco. Their "original" St. Louis-style pizza has a cracker-like crust, topped with Provel cheese (a combination of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses), and it's cut into squares.  I like having salad with pizza, but I think Provel is pretty rich, and the restaurant puts it on just about everything. We decided to supplement the pie with our own salad (a bagged butter lettuce blend) and Italian dressing. 

Our first stop was at Son Donald's house to drop off some things. He was in the middle of cutting his grass, so we said a quick hello to him and his dogs and continued on our way. By this time it was almost rush hour and the street traffic was stop and go. I picked a parking spot not too far from the location of the restaurant and we started walking. 

Twenty minutes later I saw a store I wanted to go into.  It was filled with Mid Century Modern furniture, art, kitchen items, collectables, and jewelry. I'm always amazed that things I grew up with are now considered vintage. This place even stretched the boundaries of MCM to include things like the Pyrex and Corningware casseroles I got for wedding presents (and still use).

We spent so much time in the store that when we left Tony rerouted us to a park. It's wide paths were lined with trees, bushes, and flowers. Eventually ran into a talkative man who told us how excited he was because he had just a deer in this park. Our conversation segued into a discussion of nature centers, green spaces, and astronomy. When we finished talking I decided to call in our dinner order so it would be ready when we got there. Along the walk back there I saw a picnic table that we decided would be a great place to come back with our food.

The person on the phone at the restaurant said my sausage and pepperoni pizza would be ready in twenty minutes. I ended up having to wait ten minutes longer than that and was really hungry by the time I received the order. We drove back to the park, carried the food to the table, and dug in. It was the best pizza/salad combination I've had in quite a while.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Parenting In A Nutshell

From a friend...

  • NEWBORNS-How can such a tiny person eat so often? I really need a shower. Will I ever sleep or fit into pants again?
  • TODDLERS-I turn my back for two seconds and he’s totally naked and on top of the refrigerator.
  • LITTLE GIRLS-I think she started a sentence five years ago and hasn’t stopped talking since. I’m going to lose my mind.
  • LITTLE BOYS-Can you please get the pee in the toilet? And for the millionth time put the seat down. Your sister just fell in.
  • TWEENS-You are too young to wear that. You are not old enough to watch that. I don’t care if everyone else has a phone.
  • TEENS-Get off your phone. Is your homework finished? Don’t roll your eyes at me. Why are there so many towels on your floor? It smells in here. Get up…it’s noon!
  • YOUNG ADULTS-Are you eating enough? When are you coming come? I love you. I miss you. This house is too quiet. 

Five years ago today: Yard Work Fun

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Setting Up For A Session

Earlier this month I replaced my laptop. 

I couldn't remember when I bought the old one, but the serial number sticker on the bottom said it was manufactured in February of 2017. As a rule of thumb, the average lifespan of a laptop is three to four years. Compared to that mine had a nice long life, but in the past six months it definitely had issues. The battery wasn't holding a charge as long as it used to. The start up time was measured in minutes rather than seconds. A couple of apps wouldn't open. 

And so it was time to get a new one.

I did research, asked a couple of techies what they recommended, and ultimately bought a new model from Costco during the state's Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday (which saved me a nice chunk of change). I spent a couple of hours downloading browsers, programs, and apps before everything was configured the way I wanted it. Since then it's been a joy to open the top panel and get to work

Tomorrow night I'm hosting a Zoom meeting, and I realized a couple of days ago that I should probably test my webcam before then. You can do just about anything online, including a Webcam Test. The process was easy to do.The site detected the camera and asked me  to press the “Test my cam” button to check its functionality and properties.

I clicked the button and began the test. Two minutes later the test was completed, and all the camera's stats were displayed. 

I was glad to know that the basics were functional, but I still didn't want any surprises, so I set up a test Zoom meeting and sent the invitation to Hubby Tony. Good thing I did, because before the meeting could start it needed to do a download. It would have been really embarrassing to not be on time to my own meeting!

The actual Zoom took less than 30 seconds. Tony and I said hello and goodbye. I ended it.

Five years ago: Calendar Fun

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Conversation And Education

This morning for breakfast at the church I made pan pancakes (batter poured into a greased baking sheet, baked, and sliced into squares), scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh cantaloupe. The clergy comes in to eat between 9:00 and 10:30 mass. Often they eat and run, but today one of the deacons and the associate priest invited me to sit and talk with them for a while.

The deacon mentioned that he recently found an old 45 RPM record in his basement. It dated back to his teenage years and featured a version of the Lord's Prayer sung by an Australian nun that had made it onto the Billboard Top 100 chart.

I had never heard of the song or Janet Mead, the singer. The associate priest wasn't even born then. However, he searched on his phone and shortly we were all listening to the song.

The deacon called it folk music. I think it's more of a  pop-rock tune. Whatever the style, it's a catchy tune that I can't get it out of my head.

Five years ago: Gettin' Our Kicks

Friday, August 11, 2023

Cooperation Salad

Yesterday I was going through my email folders looking for a message. I never found what I was looking for, but instead I fell into a memory.

In 2008 I was part of a group of women organizing an event. Most of the meetings were in the evening, and lasted a couple of hours, but there was one on Saturday that lasted most of the day which included lunch. 

Instead of asking us to bring our own lunch or ordering food in, a couple of weeks before the event the organizer had passed around a sign up sheet for a "Cooperation Salad". The email I was reading was a reminder of who had signed up for what. The recipe theory was that everyone brought one or two ingredients. Just before the meal they were mixed together, dressed, and served. 

At this event the organizer supplied the dressing, bread, and butter. I was in charge of the hard boiled eggs. Our meal also included multiple desserts. I found a similar version of the 'recipe'  here, but the one our group put together contained:

  • 1 bag (1/2 gallon size) iceberg lettuce, broken up
  • 2 cucumbers peeled and sliced and 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked, cut into strips
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 16 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and cut up
  • 1 bag (1/2 gallon size) Romaine lettuce, broken up
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound cooked ham, shredded or cut into strips
  • 1 dozen eggs, hard cooked, sliced
  • 1 bag (1/2 gallon size) fresh spinach, broken up
  • 3 green bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 whole boneless chicken breasts, cooked, cut into strips
  • 1 51/2 - 7 ounce box croutons and 2 to 3 cups diced celery
  • 1 bag (1/2 gallon size) red leaf lettuce, broken up
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced, and 4 medium tomatoes, chopped plus large bowl
  • 1 recipe of the following salad dressing for each 6 people:2 tbsp. tarragon vinegar/1/2 c. oil/2 tbsp. sugar/1/2 tsp. Tabasco/1/2 tsp. salt 
  • dessert for 10 (3 needed) 
  • case of water (3 needed)

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Have You Played With Your Cat Today?

According to National Today there are here are 25 cat holidays throughout the calendar year, and today was one of them. International Cat Day takes place every year on August 8th. The day's official website suggested that cat owners should play with their cats for five minutes every day, which would improve their physical health and mental well being.

I was ready to play but Jackson the Cat wasn't going for it.  In his defense, in human years he's 100 years old, and spends most of his day laying around. However, when I pulled out a mylar tassel and wiggled it close to him Jackson gave it a half-hearted swipe before losing interest. 

I let him be.

 Five years ago today: Thanks, But I'll Pass

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

A Long Line Of Chalk

Last night there was a little break in the temperature. It was so nice at bedtime I even opened up the windows and enjoyed the nighttime sounds.

Unfortunately, it's already starting to heat up again. Before it gets too miserable Hubby Tony and I decided to take a bike ride after breakfast. My e-bike was acting fine until I left the garage. All of a sudden the electric assist stopped and the control panel went blank. There shouldn't have been any issues-the battery had been charged after the last ride. I tried turning everything on multiple times, but didn't have any luck, so I told Tony to go ahead and ride without me.

Back in the garage, I realized the key to unlock the battery pack from the bike was in the condo. I fetched it, removed the battery, brought it upstairs, and set it on the charger. After that I needed to decide what was next.

There are two full-service grocery stores within walking distance of my house. I realized I could walk to the farther of the two (a little over a mile away) and look for inspiration for tomorrow's staff luncheon at the church. I prefer that chain because I usually don't buy very much, and the store lets me make my tax exempt purchase at the self serve register. At the other store I have to get in line behind all the overflowing carts and use a cashier.

I grabbed my wallet and a bag and left the condo. By this time it was 8:30, and already starting to heat up, but there was a nice breeze blowing and enough trees to provide shade. Just past the subdivision pool I noticed someone had drawn a chalk line down the sidewalk. 

I didn't think much about it until I turned the corner and saw that the line continued on the new street. Then I couldn't help but track it. 

Sometimes the line was light, and sometimes dark. Sometimes it was straight, and sometimes curvy. Sometimes it was joined by a second line.

 When the street ended I turned left. The line still was there, but I could also see that it crossed the street to the sidewalk on the other side. On my side of the street I saw two pieces of chalk. I used one of them to sketch a smiley-faced appreciation of the work the line drawer put in.

The line continued all the way to the end of the subdivision. I turned left and the rest of the trip was uneventful. At the store I decided that tomorrow's lunch will be meatloaf, mashed potatoes, some type of vegetable, garlic bread, and cookies from the bakery. After purchasing my items I started back home.

When I reached the subdivision entrance I decided to figure out just how long the chalk line was. I took a screenshot of my health app that showed how far I had already walked. When I reached the end of the line I took another one for comparison. It was six tenths of a mile! Someone put a lot of effort into their chalking.

Five years ago: Doing My Civic Duty

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Briny Rejuvenation

In my home kitchen I use a dishcloth for hand washing the things that can't go in the dishwasher. Every morning throw it in the laundry (along with the dish towel that hangs over the oven handle) and start new ones. 

However, at the church their preference is for a sponge. I have to go with their choice, but each time I'm there I try to make sure the sponges are rinsed well so they don't pick up any odors, and toss them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to sanitize them.

When I read about using salt to clean sponges, it sounded like an interesting idea. The theory is that table salt draws moisture from the sponge, which reduces the likelihood that bacteria can survive. It can also absorb oil from the sponge, making it more efficient. This morning I decided to give salt a try. 

There were two methods-a saltwater soak and a vinegar/salt/water soak. I used the first. 

There are always two sponges in the sink. Because I was also actively cooking I kept one of the sponges to clean up messes with. I filled a small bowl with warm water and a quarter cup of salt, mixed until the salt was completely dissolved, then added the second sponge. It wanted to float, so I placed a slightly smaller bowl on top of the sponge to keep it submerged. 

The last thing I did before I left a couple of hours later was to remove the sponge from the water, squeeze it out, then rinse it with clean water. It looked and smelled clean. For extra effect I even put it in the microwave. 

Friday, August 4, 2023

If You Use Blogger, Are You Having Issues?

I've been blogging since 2008. In that time Blogger has had its fair share of issues. The most recent problem revolves around commenting on other Blogger sites. The process used to be seamless-my profile was automatically there and I just had to start adding content. Then all of a sudden I started seeing this warning:

Comment with your Google account if you’d like to be able to manage your comments in the future. If you comment anonymously, you won’t be able to edit or delete your comment.
Depending on the blog settings there's a list or drop down box of options to choose Google Account, Anonymous, or Name/URL. Most of the time the first one works, although for some reason I have to click on an extra box to allow it. Annoying, but gets the job done.

But tonight I'm seeing a completely new issue. I wanted to reply to comments on my latest post, but I keep getting an error message...ON MY OWN BLOG! The message says:

Unable to sign in to comment. Please check your browser configurations to allow sign-in. Learn more. You can still comment anonymously, or with name and URL
I've tried using both my desktop and my laptop. Neither worked. Based on past experience the issue will fix itself. I just hope it doesn't take too long.

Five years ago today: Here's To Smiles

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

The Salad Bar Saves The Day

When I started cooking meals at the church I would purposely make a little extra, thinking that the priests or parish staff would heat up leftovers on days I wasn't there. It didn't take me long to figure out that no one was particularly interested in eating any type of leftovers, so now I try to gauge portions more accurately. If there's a large amount of something that I can reuse down the line I'll put it in the freezer. I noticed the other day my stash was getting large, so the next few week's meals will feature those ingredients.

Today's featured ingredient was a package of smoked sausage bites, which I incorporated into a cold pasta salad. The salad also included tri-color rotini, cheddar cheese, black olives, carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes from the parish garden, peppers, and a white wine vinaigrette. The meal also included a green salad, bread, and brownies.

When I got to the grocery store this morning I had a list of needed ingredients on my phone, but as I walked up and down the aisles I decided some pepperoncini would add an extra zing to the pasta. However, even the smallest jar on the shelf was way too much for my needs.

 Then I remembered this grocery store had recently reinstalled their salad bar (which closed at the start of the Covid pandemic). When I reached the bar I saw it was half the size it used to be, but had what I needed. I filled a takeout salad dressing cup with sliced pepperoncini, put the lid on tightly, and placed it in my cart.

The salad bar was $10 a pound, but my cup weighed a little less than half a pound, so I got exactly what I needed and paid way less than the cost of the jar.

Five years ago today: Red Bud Woes

Monday, July 31, 2023

Immersion Activity

The past few weeks the two priests at the church I cook at have been away quite a bit, so by mutual agreement I haven't gone to prepare dinner on Monday nights. As much as I enjoy my cooking gig, it's been nice to have a lazier start to the week. I've used the extra time to try out some interesting activities, including today's Deep Water aerobics class at the gym. 

(This was actually the second time I signed up for the class; last week there was a fire drill that cut it short, but I got enough of a taste to know I enjoyed it.)

In deep water aerobics, you put on a flotation belt and jump into the deep section of the pool where your feet can't touch the bottom. The theory is that exercising in the deep water provides more resistance and makes the exercises more challenging.

By the time the class started there were about 20 people in the pool. The group was mainly women. All attendees appeared to be in their 60s or older. The instructor stood on the side of the pool and led us through a short warm up before the aerobic part started.

The first class had followed more of an interval training format-one exercise done for a short period of time followed by a rest before the next one started. Today was more of a 'dance' format. Before each song the instructor would quickly go over the moves and then start the music. The moves were repeated multiple times during each song.

With both formats, the institutor may have been able to see the times I couldn't exactly follow the directions, but because my entire body was under water no one else could. I just tried to work hard and not run into other people.

Today's playlist was mainly from the 1970s and 80s. The most memorable song had also been the post game victory locker room song for the St. Louis Blues hockey team in 2019. It was also the victory anthem after they won the first Stanley Cup in their 52-year team history.

 Five years ago today: A Real Pain In The Tooth

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Summer Signs

Late July is always hot in this area, but for several days we've also (along with a good chunk of the rest of the country) been under an excessive heat warning.  Hubby Tony and I have taken our walking inside, where I've been collecting photos of things that strike my fancy:

Maybe I'm still a five year old at heart? When someone asks me what my favorite color is I can't tell them what it is.

And on a really bad day those puppies also reproduce.

Thank goodness I don't have to supervise toddlers on a regular basis. When I do it wears me out.

The residential areas in St. Louis are notorious for having stop signs every few blocks. We're also notorious for our "rolling stops", where a driver slows down instead of coming to a complete halt before continuing on their way.

Not everyone would agree with this one, but compared to Third World countries we have it darn good here.

Not exactly inside, but I'm considering the Ikea parking garage close enough.

Five years ago: Ahead Of Time Anniversary