Monday, October 30, 2023

Halloween Miscellaneous

In case you can't read the sign in the 'graveyard', it says Rest In Pieces. There were bones scattered around the area.

So many inflatables in one yard! I wonder if any grass is visible during the daytime when they're all deflated.

 The concept of Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds is pretty meta. I got the bag from someone in my local Buy Nothing group. The seeds ended up being really good, and I went back to Trader Joe's for more. They were sold out.


 One little Halloween lion ready for Trick or Treat.

Five years ago today: On the Road Again

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Cat Caregiving

Jackson the Cat is 21 years old. Over the years he (and until 2019 his brother Pepper) has had a variety of caretakers when Hubby Tony and I were away.

  • When Son Donald was living at home and working full time there was nothing to think about. We just relayed our schedule and he took care of the rest.

  • Eventually Donald moved out, but one of his good friends still lived two blocks away at his parent's house. Good Friend had a flexible work schedule and was usually available at the drop of a hat.

  • When Good Friend moved to the other side of the city. We relied on Across the Street Neighbor Boy and then Next Door Neighbor Boy.

  • We moved into our condo right before COVID shut things down. When they started opening back up and we were able to travel Donald would come and stay here.

  • However, Donald eventually acquired two dogs when his roommate had to relocate. He couldn't bring the dogs here, so we started looking for alternatives.

  • Since the building is apartment-style I didn't want to give the key to some random person from Nextdoor or Facebook. We used a couple of pet-sitting websites until we found a one-person local company. We are so comfortable with the person that they have their own key. All we have to do is text or email and get on the schedule.

  • A couple of months ago a new neighbor moved in. In our building if someone sees a delivered package sitting in the foyer we bring it in and place at the person's door. One day I retrieved a box of cat litter for New Neighbor. Eventually I ran into them and found out they love cats, have two of their own, and if the timing was right they would be interested in watching Jackson for us.

  • Tony and I will be attending an organization business meeting out of town in the not too-distant future, so I reached out to New Neighbor to ask if they were available for that weekend. They were. Today they (the neighbor and their middle school aged child) came by for a meet and greet with Jackson. As cats do, at first he snubbed the attention, but as they were getting ready to leave he lumbered up to them, smelled their outstretched hands, and offered a friendly head butt.

Thursday, October 26, 2023


My area's had warmish weather with (highs in the low 80s), but a cold front's coming through tomorrow which will cause the highs to drop from the 50s into the 40s by Monday. Everyone and everything is getting ready for the change. Including the stink bugs, which are sneaking into our house on a daily basis.

There are multiple species of stink bugs. I have no idea which type we're seeing, but it really doesn't matter. All of them produce an unpleasant odor when they're disturbed or threatened, so squashing them isn't a good idea. 
However, they move slowly, so it's easy to place a cup over them, slide a piece of paper under the cup, and then release them outside. I realize that in the nice weather that's not much of a deterrent, but soon being tossed out will mean a frigid stink bug death.

Five years ago: Good Grease!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Sadly, Still True

This dialogue from Season 5, Episode 20 of  M*A*S*H (“The General’s Practitioner”) first aired in 1977. However, the exchange between Hawkeye (Alan Alda), and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) could have been ripped from last week's news cycle.

Hawkeye: War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.

Father Mulcahy: How do you figure that, Hawkeye?
Hawkeye: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?
Father Mulcahy: Um, sinners, I believe.
Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell, but war is chock full of them – little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for a few of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.

Five years ago: A Real Pain In The Heel

Sunday, October 22, 2023

A Lovely Day For A Wedding

Yesterday was the wedding of a friend of Hubby Tony's daughter that we have been looking forward to for the last two months. After a post-breakfast trip to the gym I came home and primped myself from head to toe. I cut the tags off my dress, put the inserts in my dress shoes, pulled out a dress purse, and found sparkly rhinestone earrings. 

The ceremony took place at 1:30, and the reception started at 6:00. At the last minute I second guessed my choices of purse and earrings, substituted items more appropriate for daytime use, and brought the fancier ones to change into for the evening. I also couldn't decide if I wanted to go bare-legged or wear panty hose. I ended up going without, because the sandals were open toed.

The inserts that were supposed to make the shoes less loose helped, but they still fit like flip flops and I knew I wouldn't be able to walk for long distances in them. I ended up bringing a pair of black comfort shoes to use in between events.

 The wedding was lovely. It was held in a historic church just south of downtown. The pews were filled with family and friends, all dressed in some type of dress clothes, and the bridal party was in black tie and gowns. The musicians were in the choir loft in the back.

The ceremony lasted a little over an hour. The reception venue was at a downtown hotel ten minutes away. Although we could have gone home, there would have been very little time to rest before driving back to the same section of town. We decided to stay in the area, attend Sunday mass at the same church at 4:30, then drive five minutes to the hotel.

During our down time I changed my shoes. Tony left his suit coat in the car. We walked several blocks to a coffee shop, then around the area. It was warm enough that I shed the jacket to my dress. We received several doubletakes from the casually-dressed people we passed, and one woman stopped and told me she liked my dress.

The second mass at the church was quite different from  the first. There were less about 50 people in attendance, and everyone but Tony and I was dressed casually. This time the hymns were a cappella. At the end of the service the deacon mentioned the earlier wedding and asked the congregation to pray for the newlyweds.

We knew exactly where the reception hotel was, but it was a challenge to figure out which garage was offering complimentary parking for the event. Before I got out of the car I changed back into my fancy shoes and swapped my purse and earrings for evening ones, then Tony and I walked across the street to the venue to start the second part of the day.

Although we didn't know everyone at our reception table everyone melded well, and by the end of the evening I felt like I had made some new friends. The dinner was typical hotel banquet food, but the staff was attentive and moved everything along.

Close to the end of the evening I realized that Tony and I should have a photo to commemorate our big day and asked one of our table mates to take one. Unfortunately the room lights bounced off the room's windows in a weird way and half of the photo was overexposed.  I didn't realize the mistake until I was in the car coming home, so we'll just have to remember the event without physical evidence of it.

Five years ago: As Good A Reason As Any

Friday, October 20, 2023

Time To Get Away

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house." ~Nathaniel Hawthorne~

In the middle of planning our parish Sausage Supper kitchen project Hubby Tony and I figured it would be nice to have a short break from the real world when we got done. We researched some options and decided on a trip to Galena Illinois, which is close to the Mississippi River not too far from the Iowa and Wisconsin borders. The city is five hours north of our house, and we hoped there would be some leaf color to see. 

We left on Sunday and arrived home last night. Sadly, there wasn't much leaf color yet but we still had a good time.


Our home base for the trip was the De Soto House Hotel, which has been in continuous use since 1855. The building was right in the middle of the Main Street shopping area, which made it convenient for doing tourist things. Across the street there was a set of stairways to the upper streets, and two blocks in the other direction a bridge went over the Galena River to a historic residential area.

Many notable people have stayed at the De Soto House, including Abraham Lincoln, Stephan Douglas, and Ulysses S. Grant. Grant lived in Galena after he left St. Louis and worked in his father's leather good store. Later, he actually used two of the hotel rooms as his presidential campaign headquarters.

In the present day each guest room was named after a person who had stayed in the hotel. Our courtyard-facing room was called the Simpson Grant (who was one of Ulysses' brothers). 

Tony and I took a trolley tour of the town and then went back and walked through many of the historical areas. We browsed through the shops, and made a few purchases. We ate dinner in two of the hotel's three restaurants, as well as several others around town, and compared and contrasted coffee from several of the places that offered it. We even had a flight of samples of five different root beers that were on tap at a root beer store.


The first night at dinner we were talking to the couple sitting at another table. The man asked if we were going to visit the baseball Field of Dreams movie site, which was a nice day trip. That hadn't occurred to either of us, but sounded like a great idea. Tony made reservations for a tour.Dyersville was about an hour from the hotel. Our map app had us take a state highway, then turn on a series of two lane roads. There was no directional signage, and the only indication we had arrived was a sign just outside the entrance gate and some baseball field light poles.

We arrived twenty minutes before the tour started. The gate attendant told us we could walk around, and borrow a ball, bat, or mitt from the available selection. She did suggest that if we walked into the corn surrounding the outfield it would be a good idea not to go too far.

The farm house is up a small rise from the ball field. We waited with several other couples for the tour to start. The tour was led by a woman who had been an extra in the movie. She shared a lot of facts about how the history of the property, how the movie came to be filmed there, and trivia about the filming.I haven't seen the movie for several years, but now I want to watch it again.

After we finished at the movie site we drove into Dyersville for lunch and a walk around the small downtown area. We stopped into the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, a church designated as important by the Pope because it carries a special spiritual, historical, or architectural significance. St. Francis Xavier is one of 53 basilicas in the United States, and one of three which are not located in big cities. I thought it was interesting that the Basilica Coat of Arms included ears of corn and a bundle of wheat.


Galena is about a half hour away from the Wisconsin state line. I had never been in the state before and wanted to do something there "just because". One of the tourism guidebooks we picked up had a list of day trips. Tony did some research and we decided on the small town of Shullsburg (the state's third oldest community, which figured predominantly in Lead Belt history). 

 The drive there took us through cornfields and rolling hills.  When we got there we watched a video in the Visitor Center about the town and its history, then walked around the small historic downtown, looked into the windows of a cheese factory, strolled over to the Catholic church (which was surrounded by streets named Peace, Truth, Goodness, Charity, Happy, Friendship, Faith, Pious, Justice, Wisdom, Virtue, Mercy, Judgement, and Hope). The restaurant we chose didn't offer the traditional lunch pasties that day, but we still managed to find great home style food.

Unfortunately, we found out that the Badger Lead Mine and Museum were only open seasonally, and just as we started looking for Gravity Hill it started to rain.I wonder if we'll ever get back there to try it out?


On our drive we stayed off the interstates as much as possible. Instead we took the Great River Road, which follows the Mississippi River. Some times the river was visible,

and often the road veered away from the water, 

 but it was always scenic.

Five years ago: Laugh Out Loud

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Style, Comfort, Practicality, Or Price?

It was over a month ago I bought a formal dress for a wedding. The dress hung in my closet while I pondered what type of shoes I wanted to go with it. They had to be flat or extremely low heel, have padded insoles, and (ideally) have adjustable straps to accommodate my strange feet that straddle the line between normal and narrow width. 

And to top it off I preferred to not have to pay a bunch of money for them.

My first stop was a comfort shoe store. I explained what I was looking for to the associate and showed her a photo of the dress. She measured my feet and then sprung into action, bringing out a stack of five potentials. I fell in love with the first pair. They had just enough glitter to be fancy, fit like a glove, and I could easily walk in them. However, when I took a look at the price I found out they were almost $200! If they were a more practical color I could have gotten a lot of use out of them, but since I don't get invited to many formal events I was loathe to spend that much.

However, despite the price I went ahead and bought them. With my luck if I couldn't find anything else the store would be out of my size, and the store policy allowed for returns within 30 days.

I kept looking. One of the big box shoe stores had a 40 percent off sale. Most of their dress shoes weren't for me, but there was one style I liked. It was even blue like my dress! My size wasn't available in the store, so I pulled out my phone right there and ordered them from the website. With the discount these shoes were significantly cheaper, such that if I only wore them a couple of times I wouldn't feel like I was wasting my money.

The store website said it would take somewhere between four and seven days for the shoes to arrive. A week later I received an email the shoes were ready to be picked up. When I tried the sandals on I found out they were comfortable, but the straps over the top of my foot were a little loose.

The next day I stopped into a shoe repair store and explained the situation. The associate gave me two suggestions. The first was a set of adhesive half-sole inserts that would fit under the ball of my foot and hold it in place. The second was to have him tighten the straps. I went with the easy, quicker, and cheaper first option, and the next day I returned the first pair.

Five years ago: Time For Reading

Monday, October 16, 2023

It Was Worth A Try

When I woke up this morning I felt fine. Mid-morning I developed an annoying headache that wouldn't go away, with pressure radiating through my forehead, eyes, and cheeks. I tried ibuprofen, allergy medicine, and another cup of coffee. No luck. Four hours later I repeated the OTC medicines. Still no results. I wasn't at home, so I didn't have access to anything else. 

I walked by a store that sold essential oils, popped in, and sampled a blend that purported to relieve headache symptoms. It didn't work. A block later I saw a cannabis store. I have never been in any type of dispensary but I was desperate enough to stop in and see if they had anything that could help.

The friendly young clerk said there wasn't; the only thing they could suggest would be a honey stick that contained CBD. I learned that there was no solid research that it would work, but in their opinion it wouldn't hurt to try. That opinion might have been biased but I agreed with the assessment. 

My Colorado Hemp Honey stick was only $3. It tasted just like honey. It gave me a bit of a sugar rush but didn't do much else. At this point I can only I wake up tomorrow headache free.

Five years ago: Free To A Good Home

Saturday, October 14, 2023

It's Fun To Be Flexible

When I woke up this morning I thought I knew how my day was going to go (paperwork, computer stuff, and straightening the house), but then a friend of Hubby Tony told him about a weekend event called Walktoberfest in Old Webster (Groves). The neighborhood was featuring shopping, food and drink opportunities, crafting, and  polka music. This afternoon's polka band was one Tony was familiar with and wanted to see. He asked if I wanted to join him 'for an hour or so'. I did, and all of a sudden my day took a completely different turn.

Tony had some errands to run. He sent me a text when he was done and I met him in front of the bandstand. We tapped our feet to the So. Grand Polka Band, then walked around the area, popping into stores that interested us. At one we were offered a sample of apple cider. Later, a sidewalk popup was promoting a wine bar down the street by serving tiny cups of sangria. In between I made a few purchases and got some ideas for things to buy down the line.

We walked back to the stage and listened to the band again.  Tony struck up a conversation with what turned out to be one of the musician's parents and learned a little bit about the band and its history. It was a chilly, blustery day, so I left to get a cup of coffee at a French pastry store a couple of storefronts away. Tony followed me, and before I knew it I was adding a piece of chocolate tart to my order. We split the rich, decadent treat, then went back to the bandstand a third time.

When the band announced they were taking a break we walked around for a little bit then came back for their last set. Tony decided to purchase their CD, which included this song:

The 'hour or so' Tony had suggested ended up being three hours.  
Anything with a good beat gets my toes tapping. The infectious polka music had me dancing in place. When I was done I was amazed at how many 'steps' my phone had recorded.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Reclaimed Wrapping

My area's community college system has a great Continuing Education program. Twice a year they send out a catalog listing their professional and personal development classes. I scan through the booklet and pick out one or two to sign up for. This semester's class was Beeswax Food Wraps, held tonight at Perennial, which provides opportunities to learn creative ways to reuse materials.

In addition to me, there were three other people in the class. We sat at tables on the classroom side of the room and started the night by introducing ourselves. The instructor talked about good ways to reduce our amount of kitchen trash, then segued into the food wrap presentation.

After a short preface the group moved to the other side of the room, where two counter-height tables were covered with a old sheets and pieces of parchment paper. In the center of one of the tables there was an electric pot partially filled with water holding three wide-mouth mason jars. The instructor made up a fourth jar by measuring out beeswax, jojoba oil, and pine resin, placed it in the pot with the other jars, then asked us to return to the first side of the room.

Each person got to choose the fabric for their wraps from a variety of salvaged cotton, and used a cardboard template and pinking sheers to cut squares. When everyone was finished carried took the squares back to the craft table.

The instructor laid a demonstration square on parchment paper and demonstrated the best way to paint melted wax onto it (not too little, not too much). When the painting was complete the group moved over to irons on the second craft table. Here, the instructor placed a second piece of parchment on top of the first and ran a warm ironed over it so the wax melted through and completely saturated the fabric. The last step was to hang it on a drying rack to cool.

After the demonstration was finished it was our turn. My first piece of fabric had too much wax, which flowed out of the fabric and onto the parchment when I ironed it. The second attempt was better, and by the third try I really had the system down.

I've seen beeswax wraps in stores before, but they were pricey and I wasn't exactly sure what I would use them for. Back at home, when I opened up the refrigerator I saw a partial lemon in a plastic container. I wrapped the lemon up neatly in a beeswax cover, and I'm excited to see how well it lasts there.

What will they wrap next?

Five years ago today: New Shoe Blues

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Work-Around Solution

A couple of months ago I posted about issues leaving comments on Blogger blogs. The problem came on suddenly, and ended just as quickly. Since that time the annoyance has returned sporadically. It's very annoying when I can't comment with my profile, but I've come to accept the Name/URL option (and even the Anonymous option, which means I have to remember to identify myself within the comment). 

But then things got worse. Last week I experienced a big blue box that told me to Sign Into Google where there should have been a comment form. But clicking on that blue box did no good. I couldn't leave comments on a good percentage of the blogs I follow! 

Eventually I figured out that the issue was internet cookies, small files utilized by web browsers to track and save information about users. Cookies from Google domains (including Blogger) are now treated as third-party. Firefox, the browser I use, has a feature called Total Cookie Protection. It is designed to protect a user's privacy by eliminating third-party cookies. However, some websites or features on a web page may not work if you block third-party cookies. I guess that includes signing in to comment. 

Now that I've figured out the issue I'm happy to say I've found a work-around. If I come across a blog that won't let me leave a comment with my Blogger profile, the first step is to click on the shield to the left of the address bar: 

 That brings up a box with a toggle switch. 

 If I turn the tracking protection off all of a sudden my profile is available and I can comment. After I leave a comment I turn the tracking protection back on. And keep my internet actions a little more private. 

 Five years ago: Fall Foliage Map

Monday, October 9, 2023

The Biggest Batches Of Food I've Ever Quarterbacked

You may remember that yesterday was our church's Sausage Supper, and Hubby Tony and I chaired the kitchen. Between Saturday's set up and the actual event, most of the weekend was devoted to the project.
I started my Sunday morning with a normal cooking shift for the clergy, then drove across town to join Tony for the day's main event. The the food line opened at 2:00, and the first kitchen workers were scheduled to start at 12:30. Because Tony had been told it would take two hours to heat a batch of green beans in the commercial cooking kettle, we arrived early enough to get the first one started. (His info was wrong; the heating time was closer to 30 minutes. Tony will put that in the notes for next year's event.)

I wrote out the recipes for green beans and sauerkraut Tony and I 'developed', then put one at each station along with the ingredients and necessary equipment. Once the first shift arrived it didn't take long for each station (kraut, beans, and dish washing) to get into a routine, and then each shift trained the next on the best practices. Tony had scheduled just the right amount of volunteers for each shift-everyone had enough work to do, but the work wasn't overwhelming enough that they didn't have time to chat. 

Over the course of the 5-hour meal we cooked 56 commercial-sized cans of green beans and 27 commercial-sized cans of sauerkraut. After the serving line closed there was approximately two cans of each left over. The kitchen clean up crew transferred the leftovers into disposable aluminum pans so they could be donated.

The event wasn't without hiccups. The serving line ran out of mashed potatoes and applesauce for short periods of time. Our kitchen wasn't responsible for either of them, other than Tony calling the person running back and forth between the restaurant to check on the status.

The day was long but enjoyable. The best part, though, had nothing to do with cooking. Someone told me she had recently been introduced to my blog via the promotional signature I attach to my emails. She said she enjoyed reading through the posts and thought I was a great writer. I'm pretty sure I was blushing as I thanked her profusely.

Five years ago: Famous In Their Field

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Who's Got The Recipe? We Do. (We Hope.)

The church Hubby Tony and I belong to began as a mission more than 150 years ago when the area was very rural. Even though there is nothing rural about the area now the church has still held onto some of the rural traditions, including a fall Sausage Supper and festival.

During COVID the Sausage Supper took a hiatus, and this is the first year since then it is completely back to normal. Planning got a late start with a Sunday morning meeting 10 weeks ago. I was busy with my cooking gig for the clergy, but Tony went and signed us up to oversee the kitchen.

Since then he's taken the lead in the planning and organizing, including attending meetings (always held on Sunday morning), quarterbacking correspondence, and soliciting volunteers so we don't have to do everything ourselves.

The menu for the event hasn't changed in the 30 plus years we've been attending. There's sausage and/or fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, sauerkraut, green beans, applesauce, bread, and homemade donated desserts. (They used to make apple butter, but there was no talk of resurrecting the item this year.)

The sausage links are grilled by a group of volunteers. About 20 years ago the organizers decided to outsource the chicken to a nearby restaurant, and a couple years ago added potatoes and gravy to the list of items to purchase. That meant that this year all we had to quarterback was the sauerkraut and green beans.

Tony heard anecdotal evidence of a master recipe for both dishes, but in the end the green bean 'recipe' was just some notes jotted on a piece of paper. There was nothing written down for the sauerkraut, but in talking with people who had worked in the kitchen in the past Tony came up with ingredients it might have included. I also did a Google search for sauerkraut recipes, then put together a taste test using different combinations of ham base, dehydrated onion, and brown sugar. 

After taking a couple of bites of each one we decided on the winner, then scaled up its quantities for commercial-sized cans.

Four flavor combinations, and a control in the back

We did a similar test with a can of green beans, but since our 'recipe' listed ingredients it was just a matter of coming up with proportions.

The Sausage Supper is this Sunday, with set up on Saturday. Other than last-minute details I think we're pretty much ready. I understand that before the serving line opens we will get a visit from one of the church staff. The person has been in the parish (and to way more Sausage Suppers) than we have, and will taste to see if our dishes taste 'the way they're supposed to'.

Five years ago: Trucking

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Apostle Of The Impossible

Today Hubby Tony and I did something that was new for both of us. A relic of St. Jude has been traveling throughout the United States, and the church we attend was hosting it this today. We were there.

What is a religious relic? Wikipedia says :

"A relic is an object or article of religious significance from the past. It usually consists of the physical remains or personal effects of a saint or other person preserved for the purpose of veneration as a tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect of some forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, shamanism, and many other religions."

St. Jude (sometimes referred to as Thaddeus) was one of the twelve Apostles. He was Jesus' first cousin and a brother of St. James the Lesser. He has come to be regarded as the patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations.

St. Jude was martyred in Beirut in about 65 AD. His body was buried there, but transferred to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome during the time of Emperor Constantine. Several centuries ago, his arm was removed and the bone placed in a wooden reliquary carved in the shape of a priest's arm imparting a blessing.

We arrived at 3:15, and left an hour and forty-five minutes later. I had no preconceptions of how the event would go, but the nearly-full parking lot surprised me, as did the line of hundreds of people that wrapped halfway around the gym, down the side of the school, turned and hugged the side of the church before doubling back to the entrance.

Inside the church the line snaked across the back, then down towards the sanctuary where a large glass box held the relic. Along the way there were large signs that gave information about St. Jude, his life, the history of the relic, and the etiquette for venerating. To keep the line moving each person could pray for a few seconds in front, and if they desired touch the glass case holding the reliquary. Once a person's veneration time was over they could leave or move to a pew for quiet prayer and reflection.

While Tony and I waited we saw a lot of people we knew, and caught up with some we hadn't seen for decades.  I talked to the man behind us, who said that he had a son named Jude who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. The treatment was successful, and the man was coming to give thanks to St. Jude.

Five years ago: Will Summer EVER Go Away?

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?