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

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

What A Whopper!

The church I cook at has an outdoor classroom area (which is where the chickens live). There's also several raised garden beds. Now that it's prime growing season, when I enter the kitchen I never know what type of produce is going to be on the countertop.

Before the weather heated up it was heads of leaf lettuce and radishes. Then it changed over to green beans, green peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. The past two weeks I served some type of cucumber salad, but then I learned the vegetable didn't agree with one of the office staff and crossed that one off the possible ingredient list

This past Sunday there was zucchini waiting, including this monster:

Marker for size comparison

I was curious to know how much it weighed, so I pulled out the kitchen scale and learned it was 2 pounds and 7 ounces. The ones I buy at the grocery store are usually about 6 ounces!

(Fun facts-did you know that zucchini is a type of summer squash and technically a fruit? And that the name zucchini actually refers to an immature version? Once it becomes full-sized it's called a marrow.)

There is never an expectation for me to actually use any of the produce, but I was actually looking forward to the creative challenge of figuring out what I could make with this monster. After some internet research I decided to stuff it and serve it as the main dish at lunch today.

Cooked but not cut

The stuffing was a combination of ground chicken, onions, garlic, Italian spices, diced tomato, and a splash of white wine mixed with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and an egg. I cut the squash lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, added the stuffing, and threw it in the oven.

Even though my recipe said it was designed for a large squash, at the end of the cooking time it was still pretty hard. I only had ten minutes before the office closed for the lunch/staff meeting so I cut each half of the squash into three pieces, arranged the pieces on a plate, and nuked them for several minutes before putting the plate on the island for serving.

Everyone came through the line and put a piece of squash on their plate. After the meal was over everyone carried their plate to the sink. As I loaded the dishes into the dishwasher I saw that all of the squash had been eaten.

Five years ago today: Convertable

Monday, July 24, 2023

Reworking The (Cat) Restroom

In the past few weeks Jackson the Cat has had some litter box issues.

Most of the time there would be clumps of wet litter in the box, but other times there would be puddles of urine next to, and underneath the box. I never caught him in the act, but at 21 years old Jackson's not moving too well. Hubby Tony and I suspected it was getting hard for him to climb over the side and get into the box.

I poked around on the internet for adaptive litter boxes. There were a few, but they came at a hefty price and I wasn't sure they would work. Then I found a web page that had suggestions for senior cat litter boxes. One of the ideas incorporated the same model of litter box that we already had in the laundry room for Jackson! 

The box was designed with indentations on the sides. I followed the directions to cut one of the short ends along the indentation line so it was lower, then sanded the cut edges to remove any sharp edges. Not to pat myself on the back, but I think the finished box looks pretty professional.

 Jackson's been using it for several days, and all of the urine has gone where it's supposed to. 

Five years ago today: A Tale Of Three Pits

Sunday, July 23, 2023

I Wish!

The older I get, the more I like a regular routine. However, the past seven days have been anything but routine.  In addition to all of the normal commitments, in the past week:

  • Hubby Tony and I filled as volunteer money counters at church. Although we finished up quickly, the job still took a good chunk of the morning.
  • I had to coordinate dropping my car off at the shop for some new tires, and then picking it up the next day.
  • This past week there were three-two Zoom meetings and an in-person one. (Normally, my evening commitments are few and far between.)
  • I had two doctor's appointments.
  • All of Saturday morning and half of the afternoon was devoted to a Day of Reflection for a retreat I'm helping to plan.

Not everything was goal-oriented (but it still filled up the time). 

  • On Sunday I met with a friend for coffee and conversation.
  • On Friday there was a quick break in the  normal heat and humidity, so Tony and I went to the Botanical Garden and then out to eat.

Since I was on the run so much I didn't have a lot of time to clean up after myself, and clutter makes me anxious and irritated. Today I took a good look at the shambles on the kitchen island and in my office and started taking baby steps to whip everything back into shape.

Five years ago: Worth the Drive

Thursday, July 20, 2023

A Profoundly Perceptive Pooch

(I know quite a few people who are as quick-witted as Lady, but I wouldn't be one of them.)

A wealthy woman decided to go on a safari in Africa, and took her faithful pet dog Lady along for company. 

One day Lady starts chasing butterflies and before long discovers that she is lost. Soon she notices a leopard heading rapidly in her direction with the obvious intention of having lunch. Lady thinks, "Boy, I'm in deep doo-doo now." 

Then Lady notices some bones on the ground close by. She immediately settles down to chew on the bones with her back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, Lady exclaims loudly, "Man, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this the leopard halts his attack in mid stride, a look of terror comes over him, and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!" says the leopard. "That was close. That dog nearly had me."

Meanwhile, a monkey had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree. She figures she can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off she goes. But Lady saw her heading after the leopard with great speed and figured that something must be up.

The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans, and strikes a deal for herself with the leopard. The cat is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine."

Now Lady sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back, and thinks, "What am I going to do now?" But instead of running, she sits down with her back to her attackers, pretending she hasn't seen them yet. And just when they get close enough to hear, Lady says, "Where's that monkey? I just can never trust her. I sent her off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard, and she's still not back!!"

Five years ago: I Do NOT Love Hot Summers

Monday, July 17, 2023

Life Is Too Short To.....

Last week Myra did a thought-provoking post she called her "Life is too short to ...." list. After pondering her words I decided to come up with my own list


  • Be unhappy 
  • Not look everyone in the eye and say hello 
  • Work at a job you hate when there are other options 
  • Hang out with people who don’t appreciate you
  •  Do the exact same activities day after day 
  • Not make a regular diet out of of junk food 
  • Not take a nap because you're too 'busy'
  • Buy clothes that don't flatter you just because they're on sale
  • Not make amends 
  • Sit on the sidelines 
  • Be mean to yourself
  • Not take some quiet time for yourself every day 
  • Not use the fancy dishes and real silverware 
  • Be afraid to admit your mistakes 
  • Not forgive yourself for those mistakes 
  • Worry about what people think

What things would be on your list? 

Five years ago today: Smart Forecast

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Easy Come, Easy Go

Tonight Hubby Tony and I volunteered to help organize the food at an event sponsored by our church. In addition to having some great food, the organization we were serving for was raising funds through the sales of merchandise and raffle tickets for baskets and a 50/50 drawing (where the winning ticket got to take home half of the pot).

Tony's serving commitment was still going on when I went through the food line and took a seat at a table with some friends in the back of the room. I never saw him come in, but it turns out he was closer to the front of the room with some of his friends.

Halfway into the event one of the ticket sellers asked if I would hold the tickets for someone who had made a purchase but was not able to be there for the drawing. I said I would. When the raffle portion started at the end of the night they began with baskets holding self care items, family game night items, wine, and snacks. Those numbers weren't even close to the tickets I was holding.

The emcee then announced the winner of the 50/50 would be taking home a little over $600. Can you believe I was holding the winning ticket? (I never win anything!)

I walked up to the front of the room to a round of applause. As I reached the stage, one of the ticket sellers revealed that I wasn't really the winner, adding that the actual prizewinner wanted to donate the money back to the organization. I walked back to my seat to an even louder round of applause.

For the rest of the night people commented on my 'good fortune'. When I finally caught up with Tony he said that the people at his table jokingly told him we should take them out for a nice steak dinner.

Five years ago today: Last Of The Family Fun (California, Summer 2018)

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Not So Distinctive Eyewear?

A couple of weeks ago I went to the optometrist for my yearly check up. I was pleased to find out that my eyes were in good shape, but my prescription had changed enough to warrant new glasses. Thank goodness. I've had my current pair for two years, and was ready for a change.

I have pretty bad near-sightedness, which makes it hard for me to see what new frames look like on me. The optician gave me some great suggestions, and in the end I chose these.

Even though the shape is similar, I thought the colors (variegated teal blue versus deep purple) were different enough that people would notice. I was wrong. No one has commented on the change!

Five years ago today: Extended Family Fun (California, Summer 2018)

Monday, July 10, 2023

Fun with Fungi Identification

Last night I was pulling weeds out of the sedum that's planted in the living retaining wall across from our condo building. Halfway down the wall, I was surprised to see that a large brown fungus had replaced the greenery in several of the plant niches. 


Whoa! I hadn't walked past the wall for a couple of weeks, but there was definitely nothing there before. Because I wanted to know what I was looking at, I took a photo, then came inside and searched for a website that could help me with identification. The internet suggested the website FungusID, a wild mushroom identification assistant.

The site was easy to navigate. After I uploaded my photo, the page thought for a couple of minutes, then gave me three possibilities: Polyporus umbellatus, Meripilus sumstine, or Clavaria fumosa.  Given that the mushroom was nestled into a niche my photo wasn't great, so even the best option only had an 11.68% chance of success.

Each possibility had options for clicking through to other sites to get more information, which I did. I finally concluded that our wall probably sported impressive-sized specimens of Meripilus sumstinei, commonly known as the Giant polypore or Black-staining polypore. 

Giant polypore normally grows in large clumps on the ground around the base of oak trees and tree stumps, so it's growing location was very strange. However, the landscaping on the top of the wall (which was a scruffy mixture of half-dead trees, bushes, and weeds) was replaced shortly after we moved in. I wonder if there are still oak roots buried underneath the mulch to support the fungus?

Five years ago today: Family Old And New (California, Summer 2018)

Saturday, July 8, 2023

More Than Just Meetings

The convention I attended in Albuquerque lasted for three days. Hubby Tony and I were there for a week, meaning that we got to do a lot more than that.
  • There was a tour bus trip to Sandia Peak Tramway, where we took a 15-minute tram ride to the crest of the mountain and walked on some of the trails at the top.
  •  We went to the Albuquerque Old Town area to shop and see the historic buildings, including the San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church, which was built in 1793. 

  • There were daily trips up and down Central Avenue, which is what Route 66 is called as it passes through the city. The area had quite a few unhoused people, but I've always found that if you look them in the eye, offer a friendly greeting, and keep moving they'll leave you alone.

  • We made a day trip to Santa Fe on a commuter train.

  • In Santa Fe we visited the Loretto Chapel, where a "miraculous" circular staircase with no visible means of support was built by an itinerant carpenter who disappeared after the construction was finished.
  • We visited the Rio Grande Zoo.

And we ate...

  • A lot of New Mexican specialties (featuring green and red chile spooned on top of hamburgers, tamales, huervos rancheros, breakfast burritos, and more)
  • New-York style pizza
  • Tapas
  • Soul food at a brunch that also featured a DJ playing 60s-vintage soul music
  • Ice cream in both bar and scoop style. 
  • We found a lot of coffee shops within walking distance of the convention center and tried a different place every day. 
  • There was a grocery store within walking distance, where we stocked up on breakfast food and produce so we didn't have to move quickly in the morning.
Five years ago: Welcoming Weather

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Like-Minded People From Around The World

I've had quite the interesting week, full of new-to-me activities. Hubby Tony and I flew to Albuquerque for a convention. It was one of the biggest meetings I've ever attended, with almost 4,000 people in attendance.

Although there were some optional activities the day before, the event officially opened with a parade. I participated as part of the Missouri contingent. Our group had special t-shirts. I found a clip art of the Arch to make a head band, which I accented with tinsel spikes.

After the parade was over there was time for photos, and then the conference part began. It kept going for two and a half days. There were three 'big' meetings (for all attendees) and dozens of more intimate sessions to choose from, all divided into interest tracks. I'm pleased to say I made some good choices of sessions, and learned something in each one.

Convention attendees wore name tags on red lanyards. No matter where I walked in the blocks around the convention center I would see them, and it turned out to be a great opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone I didn't know. Participants came from around the world, although the vast majority I spoke with were from the United States. I even met some people from my state that I didn't know!

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Good Fourth Of July Advice

As republished in this morning's St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

This advice, sponsored by Myer Bros. Drug Co., was published on July 4, 1911, by the Post-Dispatch:

Fourth of July accidents are just as certain to come as is that day on the calendar. The rule of reason applies in many of our acts of life, but when it is a matter of celebrating the day of independence, both old and young seem to lose the power of exercising ordinary caution. The following rules in the treatment of blank cartridge or puncture wounds have been given wide circulation among physicians. While pharmacists are not skilled as surgeons, still we feel justified in publishing these rules as a matter of public education so that our readers will understand the necessity for prompt and heroic treatment. Of course, the very first thing to do is to place the patient in the hands of a competent physician. To prevent lockjaw:

  1. Freely incise every wound
  2. Carefully and thoroughly remove from the wound every particle of foreign matter.
  3. Cauterize the wound thoroughly with a 25 per cent solution of phenol (carbolic acid).
  4. Apply a loose wet boric acid pack.
  5. Inject subcutaneously 1500 units of (tetanus antitoxin) serum.
  6. In no case should the wound be closed. It should be allowed to heal by granulation. The dressing and packing should be removed every day.

Among the things that the American people particularly dislike are “don’t,” but that is no reason why we should not study them and give timely “dont’s” prominence as the Fourth of July celebration approaches:

  • Don’t think because it didn’t go off right away there’s no fire there.
  • Don’t hold your eye over it, to see why it didn’t go off.
  • Don’t pick it up right away, if it didn’t go off.
  • Don’t see how long you can hold if before it goes off.
  • Don’t fail before lighting it to pick the place to throw it.
  • Don’t throw it at a horse.
Five years ago today: Fireworks On The Fourth

Monday, July 3, 2023


Remember how I told you about our cat Jackson meeting up with some dogs?  I'm glad to report that things have gone well. Overnight both dogs and the cat had free rein of the house. Jackson crawled under our bed, which isn't unusual. (It's one of the spots he regularly hangs out.) 

Donald got a message early in the morning that the power was restored 'near' his house, and he assumed his street was also back on the grid. But because he had already brought everything he needed to to work from our house he went ahead and did that. To keep Jackson feeling safe Donald set up what he called ' a fortress'. The hall bathroom also has a door that opens into the spare bedroom. Jackson's food and water bowls are in that bathroom, so also Donald also moved the litter box in and made both rooms a dog-free zone. 

At the end of the work day Donald packed up everything, including his dogs, and headed out. I wonder if now that the ice has been broken Jackson would be amenable to more visits, or if going forward he would prefer to keep his house canine-free.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Nice To Meet You. Maybe.

Yesterday some storms come through the metropolitan area. Our neighborhood came out unscathed, but other areas reported heavy rain and wind gusts as high as 70 miles per hour. 

According to the electric company more than 89,000 houses were without power. Son Donald's house was one of them. And to add insult to injury, a loss of power at a water treatment plant meant that his neighborhood was also under a boil water order. No one could predict when either issue would be resolved, so Donald asked if he could come stay at our place. Hubby Tony and I quickly agreed.

The only hitch was Jackson the Cat and Donald's two Chihuahua-mix dogs. Jackson's pretty set in his ways, and his only contact with a dog was years ago. Tony and I wouldn't be there, so Donald came up with a plan to give Jackson his own dog-free area. But first he had to get the dogs into the condo.

Later in the day Donald sent us a video of the meeting. There was a lot of wary circling, but on the whole the encounter looked pretty civilized. Donald reported that after he stopped the recording one of the dogs got too close to Jackson, who gave him a swipe to let him know who was the boss.

Donald's plan is to work from home at our house tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if the four-legged critters continue to get along.