Friday, March 31, 2023

It's Been Two Years

Today is Hubby Tony's second retirement anniversary. Twelve months ago I got him a present to celebrate the event. This year I bought him some mints, wrapped them up in newspaper I grabbed from the recycle bin, and added a "Retire Mint is sweet" label.

When I saw Tony this morning I asked him what was special about the day. He had trouble coming up with the answer, but as I handed him the package he smiled and said he couldn't believe he could forget such an important milestone.

Five years ago today: World Backup Day

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