Sunday, December 31, 2023

Make Way For A New Year!

In 2024:
  • May peace break into your house, and may thieves steal all of your debts. 
  • May your pockets become a magnet for money.
  • May love stick to you like Vaseline. 
  • May laughter assault your lips and happiness slap you across the face. 
  • May you cry only tears of joy. 
  • May all your problems forget your home address. 

In short...I hope that the next year is the best one yet!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Today I Learned...

This afternoon I was walking through the neighborhood and came across a very unusual Christmas inflatable.
Bawk! Bawk!

I'm used to seeing Santa, reindeer, snowmen, trees, pop culture characters, and even the occasional religious icon blow up. I have never encountered a rooster.

When I got home I searched the internet for 'Christmas rooster' and found out that what I saw might be unusual in my area, but common in others because it's a popular icon in Latin American and Spanish cultures. 

According to tradition, the rooster crowed at midnight on the night when Jesus was born. For that reason in Hispanic countries the midnight mass on Christmas Eve is called Misa del Gallo (or Mass of the Rooster).

Five years ago: Repair Or Replace

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

An Obnoxious Visitor

Late last week my intestinal system started churning. Then the churning turned into full-fledged viral gastroenteritis (AKA stomach flu).  Since then I've been on a roller coaster:

  • Day One was a complete loss, I ate dry toast, applesauce, and bananas, sipped tea and hot water, and spent most of the time napping on the couch. 
  • On Day Two my stomach was feeling better. I expended my diet to include chicken soup and crackers. There were no intestinal issues after I snuck in a couple spoonfuls of yogurt, so I had a mid-afternoon snack and a conventional dinner. But it turns out the virus wasn't finished with me yet. Overnight the symptoms reappeared with a vengeance. 
  • On Day Three I was back to multiple naps and a bland diet. Both got old fast. I wanted to participate in the holiday revelry and holiday food! Because I had taken so many naps my sleep schedule was all messed up, and I tossed and turned for a couple of hours in the middle of the night.
  • Day Four I woke up with an actual appetite, and tentatively enjoyed some of the plainer Christmas goodies. After each meal I waited for my body to rebel, but it didn't. The worst issue was after dinner when my stomach grumbled over a small piece of vegetable lasagna and two slices of Italian baguette, but it didn't insist I needed to spend time in the bathroom expelling the food.  
  • By Day Five the symptoms had pretty much disappeared, but a lot of food still didn't sound appealing. One of them was chocolate, so I know I'm still not completely healthy yet!

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

You Are No Longer "Cool" When...

You daughter says she got pierced and you look at her ears.


The pattern on your shorts and couch match.

You criticize the kids of today for their loud music, forgetting that you rocked out to Alice Cooper, Kiss, Queen, and Black Sabbath.

You call the police on a noisy party next door instead of grabbing a beer and joining it. 


 You turn down free tickets to a rock concert because you have to work the next day.


When grass is something that you cut, not cultivate.

Clipart Library

When jogging is something you do to your memory.

Five years ago today: The Day After The Day

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Happy Christmas Eve

Our family's Christmas tradition is to go to Mass on Christmas Eve. Last week Hubby Tony and I realized this year that might be an issue because of his broken ankle.

At our church there's a system for people who aren't able to walk down to the altar for communion, but that only works if the person is near the back and sitting right on an aisle. That's easy to do for a regular mass, but way more people come for Christmas. There was also the issue of being able to park close to the building so Tony wouldn't have too far to walk. 

We talked about it, and decided that we would get there at 3:00 (an hour before the service started) to insure our prime seats. When we arrived there were a couple of dozen cars on the lot, but when we walked in we discovered the other people had parts in the mass! The choir and the group of children who would be participating in a Nativity reenactment were still practicing.  After the choir got done they took a break before offering some prelude music. 

By the time mass started the church was completely full. The thing I like about the Christmas season is that I don't need the hymnal to sing-I know all the words to the carols! It was a lovely service, with a cute Nativity reenactment and an inspiring sermon. I walked up to Communion and a minister came to Tony.

Because we had parked close to the entrance of the parking lot the worst part was getting out, and we were afraid we wouldn't make it to our chosen restaurant before it closed at 6. However, we pulled into the parking lot with ten minutes to spare. 

Back at home, our White Castle Original Sliders hit the spot.

Five years ago today: Appreciative

Saturday, December 23, 2023

"Christmas With Louise"

One of my Facebook friends posted a hilarious story about Christmas with an inflatable doll named Louise. There was no author attribution, but with a little research on the website Truth or Fiction?  I learned that the story was written by Jeff Foxworthy, and appeared in his book No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace at Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay’s kids’ stockings were overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.

One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don’t sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown. If you’ve never been in an X-rated store, don’t go. You’ll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You’re kidding me!" "Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section. 

I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll. One that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the carpool lane during rush hour. Finding what I wanted was difficult. Love dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I’d only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for "Lovable Louise."

She was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve, with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours, long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise’s pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more. 

We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner. 

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked.

My brother quickly explained, "It’s a doll."

"Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.

"Where are her clothes?" Granny continued.

"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, trying to steer her into the dining room.

But Granny was relentless."Why doesn’t she have any teeth?"

Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny! Hang on!"

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, "Hey, who’s the naked gal by the fireplace?" I told him she was Jay’s friend.

A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa’s last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise that sounded a lot like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.

The dog screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth to mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants. Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember,

Later in my brother’s garage, we conducted a thorough examination and found the cause of Louise’s collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called gorilla tape, we restored her to perfect health.

Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies. I think Grandpa still calls her whenever he can get out of the house.

Five years ago today: Pocket

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Dinner By Candlelight

The Winter Solstice occurs in my area tonight at 9:27 PM.

Most cultures do something to commemorate the shortest daylight of the year. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia. At Stonehenge in England people gather to see the sun rise over the stones. The Hopi tribe celebrates Soyal. There is Dongzhi in China, and Yalda in Iran. Closer to home, at Cahokia Mounds there was a discussion about the day on December 17th, but no ceremony (out of respect for Native American cultures).

Hubby Tony and I usually don't make a big deal out of the day, but since this year his broken ankle has kept us around the house more than usual we decided to have dinner by candlelight. I arranged some battery operated candles on a tray and dimmed the lights.

From the table we could see the Christmas tree lights and a dimmed can light over the fireplace mantel. Our dinner music was a Winter Solstice playlist on the computer. It included many lovely songs, including this new-to-me one:

Five years ago: Cooking By The Seat Of My Pants

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Sometimes It's Actually Helpful...

to go down video-watching rabbit holes.

I was wrapping presents and discovered I was out of small boxes. However, I remembered a video that showed how to use one side of a shirt box to make a downsized one. The system worked like a charm.

I'm sure you're already finished with your holiday preparation, but just in case you still have some wrapping to do here's a tutorial.

Five years ago: Giving For The Sake Of Giving

Sunday, December 17, 2023

A Chocolately Countdown

As I've been doing every evening this month, on Friday before I went to bed I stuffed an activity for the next day in the Countdown to Christmas calendar. On Saturday morning I was surprised to see two things in the pocket. Hubby Tony had added one of his own. (What a guy!)

Tony quickly moved his activity to today's pocket, and this morning he told me to pull it out. The slip indicated that we would be celebrating "Chocolate Covered Anything Day". Even though the official day was the 16th, we decided anything chocolate is worth waiting for. 

Tony did all the planning for our chocolate covering event. After dinner he melted dark chocolate chips while I arranged a plate with items to dip. There were clementine sections, graham crackers, marshmallows, caramel corn, crackers, grapes, almonds, and a handful of dried cranberries. 

I carried everything to the table, including a Silpat sheet in case either of us wanted to set our covered creations down until the chocolate hardened. Neither of us did. Instead we dipped, ate, and repeated the process until everything was gone.

As we were cleaning everything up Tony and I agreed that this had been a great "Day" to celebrate.

Five years ago today: A Great Time Was Had

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Animated Memories

Although you can find classic Christmas animated shows on streaming services, tonight Hubby Tony and I revisited our childhoods and watched some of them as they were first broadcast...on network television, complete with commercials.

The holiday programming was 25 minutes late starting because of a college basketball game, but eventually the familiar stop-motion animation of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer began.

The show first aired in 1964. All the characters I remembered were there-Rudolph, his father Donner, Clarice the doe, Sam the Snowman, Hermie the misfit elf, Yukon Cornelius, and the Abominable Snow Monster. There was Christmas Village, the Island of Misfit Toys, and the snowstorm that almost cancels Christmas until Santa realized Rudolph's red nose could guide the sleigh. Happy endings all around.

Next up was Frosty the Snowman, which came along in 1969.

This one had Jimmy Durante as the narrator, Frosty the Snowman, inept magician Professor Hinkle with his rabbit sidekick Hocus Pocus, the group of children with Karen as Frosty's human hero. We watched Frosty's ups and downs, including the scene where he came to life, a parade through town, the train trip towards the North Pole, the greenhouse where Frosty melted and came back to life once again, and more.

If we had wanted to, we could have continued our watching with Frosty's Winter Wonderland, a sequel to the original produced in 1976, but we decided two classic shows were enough for one night.

Five years ago: Chocolate Covered Anything Day

Friday, December 15, 2023

Why Not Rewear?

Now that Hubby Tony has his ankle splint replaced with a boot it's opened up the possibility of more motion. He's still being very selective about the activities he does out of the house, but last night we  attended the Christmas party of the organization he's most involved with.

We were assigned to bring a side dish, so I made a double recipe of potato salad bites (with half red and half Yukon Gold potatoes) and arranged them in a repurposed Costco-sized pie container. 

It wasn't until about an hour before the event that I started thinking about what I was going to wear. I used to have several Christmas-themed shirts, but eventually it wasn't worth it to hang on to those limited use items. I climbed into my closet and started looking around. After several unsuccessful attempts I came up with the combination of a red shawl lapel cardigan sweater over a black tee shirt. At the last minute I stuck on a vintage plastic snowman pin. With a pair of nice jeans and comfort dress shoes I was as set as I could possibly be.

Over the course of the night I couldn't believe the number of people who complimented me on my outfit! I decided to reuse the top part of it for a get together I had this morning. Iswapped out last night's fancy jeans and dress shoes for regular jeans and tennies. Once again I got a bunch of compliments.

There's one more event Tony and I will probably attend next week. There will be absolutely no overlap in the attendees, so I just might wear the shirt, sweater, and pin combo again. The event is a little dressier, but I can always wear dress pants...

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Cups Of Cacao

According to the National Day Calendar, December 13th is National Cocoa Day. Time for tasty chocolate drinks! A couple of local places were offering specials for the day, but Hubby Tony and I chose to celebrate by having a personal cocoa tasting event at home.

I bought four different flavors of cocoa mix from a display at the grocery store.

After dinner I heated water and prepared each flavor in a cup.

Tony and I each started our sampling with the flavor we thought would be the best (Chocolate Supreme for me and Raspberry for him). After that all of it was fair game. When all the cocoa was gone, I decided that Chocolate Supreme was indeed my favorite. Tony thought the Hazelnut came out on top.

Monday, December 11, 2023

The Next Step

Today Hubby Tony had his ankle surgery follow up appointment. The technician removed the splint and stitches. The surgeon came in and said the incisions were healing nicely. Tony left with a walking boot that he can take off to shower. However, he still has to use his knee walker (no weight bearing for three more weeks) before he gradually starts putting weight on his foot.

We celebrated by stopping by the mall to walk around a little bit, then got lunch on the way home.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Love It!

This afternoon Hubby Tony had some envelopes that needed to be mailed. I needed some steps. Our mail carrier has been a little unreliable lately so I told Tony if he put the envelopes in a grocery bag I would walk them up to the post office, then take the long way home.

The day was sunny but brisk. My walk to the post office took five minutes longer than it would have otherwise, because I had to stop and admire the pair of hawks perched on the light pole.

Unlike smaller birds who fly away when I try to get close, these two could have cared less that there was a person nearby taking their photo.

I made the post office drop and continued on my way. As I was meandering down a connector road I saw a sign in front of a house on the other side of the street.

I checked for traffic and crossed the road to take a better look. There was a table filled with black florist buckets holding bunches of single variety, cellophane wrapped flowers. More buckets were on the grass below. 

Thanks to the brisk temperatures many of the flowers were droopy, and I didn't know if I could revive them, but a bunch of green button mums and a bunch of rust-colored calla lily blooms came home with me. The combination felt holiday festive.

It took me 20 minutes to get home, and I tried to keep the flowers safe. I ended up putting the empty grocery bag over the bloom end so they wouldn't get blown around, but wished I had something to keep the stems wet. Back at home I arranged the blooms in a vase and added a packet of flower food. Some of the mums were starting to shed petals, but they perked up with food and drink.

Five years ago: A Holiday Diversion

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Counting Down The Days

When Hubby Tony and I were getting ready to welcome December I realized that with his broken ankle  the month would look very different than it usually does. There would be little to no out of the house socializing; the organization, fellowship, and club parties we usually attend would have to get by without our presence.

In an effort to liven things up in the house, for the first time in decades I hung the Countdown to Christmas calendar that we used when the boys were young. It has a pocket for each day, and I would fill each with a strip of paper that had an activity that would help us get ready for Christmas. The calendar came with a cute mouse that moved from pocket to pocket to mark the time. The 1990s version of the calendar had activities like visiting Santa, decorating the house, watching holiday shows on TV, and making presents. So far the adult version has been filled with instructions to look elsewhere for a treat, inspirational sayings, and activities

Tonight would have been the first of the Christmas parties. This one offers a happy hour, buffet meal, and a selection of desserts. Instead of eating another home-cooked meal Tony arranged for me to pick up dinner from a local catering company. (In honor of the event today's calendar activity said KATHY DOESN'T HAVE TO COOK TONIGHT!)

On the way home from running errands this afternoon I stopped by the catering company. I came home with a brown paper sack of food. At dinner time it only took a couple of minutes to put the salads into bowls and heat and plate the entrees. 

Each meal came with a salad (Italian for Tony and Vineyard with fruit and sweet poppy seed dressing for me).

Tony's entree was Stuffed Green Peppers with ground sirloin, brown rice, and vegetable marinara. I had Chicken Crepes with berry relish and honey almond green beans.

For dessert, leftover chocolate gooey butter cookies from the freezer paired nicely with a juicy pear.

Five years ago: The Search Is Over

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

A Nice Change Of Pace

Since Hubby Tony is under instructions to keep his broken ankle elevated he's had little chance to socialize. Last week one of his friends called and asked Tony if he would be up for a visit, suggesting he and another poker buddy could stop by. Tony said he would.  After everyone checked their calendars they settled on Wednesday around lunchtime. I would be at the church cooking lunch for the office staff, so they could have a nice leisurely chat.

The plan was that the friends would stop at a nearby restaurant to pick up lunch. Yesterday I swung by the grocery store and bought some cookies for dessert.

This morning I could tell that Tony was excited for the day's change of pace. After breakfast he got a pot of coffee ready to brew and asked me to get out the cream pitcher and sugar bowl from the cabinet over the refrigerator. When I left a little before 9 AM he was sitting in his normal place on the couch cleaning off the end table.

I returned home a little before 1:30. The men were sitting at the table playing cards and having a great time. I grabbed a cup of coffee and watched until the end of the game. After they left I helped Tony clean up.

Five years ago: A Tasty Tribute

Monday, December 4, 2023

Breaker, Breaker

A couple of months ago Hubby Tony and I got a letter from our condominium association that told us the insurance company who holds the master policy for the development was leaving the condominium market. The association was working with a broker to come up with other options.

We attended a meeting where the broker explained the situation and outlined the options. They weren't pretty. The rates would go up substantially, and on op of that most of the units had electrical breaker panels that were recalled earlier in the year. In order to get insurance, the new insurance company was going to require condo owners to replace the boxes.

Each unit has two panels-one in the unit and the other in the basement. We had replaced the in-unit panel  shortly after we moved in, but the instructions were to have the second one done before the end of the year. We contracted with the same company that did the original work, and the job was done today.

I had a commitment in the morning, and cooking at the church in the afternoon, but let the electricians in and walked them down to the basement before leaving. Tony was around to answer any questions.  I stopped by the house in between commitments. Although the power had been shut off Tony had pulled up the blind in the office to let in as much light as possible, and he was busy sorting papers. 

I got a text from him mid-afternoon that the job was done. Next week the inspector will come and sign off on the job and our unit will be legal. And safe.

Public Domain Vectors

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Christmas Cookie Rules

Image by

  1. If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test cookie and thus calorie free.
  2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.
  3. If a friend comes over while you're making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calorie free, (rule #1) yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and, being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free also.
  4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.
  5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.
  6. Cookies colored red or green have very few calories. Red ones have three and green ones have five - one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!
  7. Cookies eaten while watching "Miracle on 34th Street" have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package.
  8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.
  9. Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate have no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. We all know how calories like to CLING.
  10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It is a rule!

~~Author unknown~~

Five years ago today: Have You Seen It?

Saturday, December 2, 2023

For Liz

On Wednesday I wrote about buying Mighty Mississippi commemorative stamps for Hubby Tony. Liz at Finding Life Hard asked if I could post a photo of my purchase. I would be delighted to.

Whenever possible I choose commemorative stamps instead of generic ones. According to the USPS website, the pane arrangement on the front of this sheet of ten stamps shows the north/south and west/east location of each state.

The stamp details:
  • Minnesota shows the headwaters at Lake Itasca
  • Wisconsin offers an autumn view of the Great River Road 
  • Iowa shows a steamboat near the city of Bettendorf 
  • Illinois displays a sailboat passing limestone bluffs 
  • Missouri illustrates the St. Louis skyline and Gateway Arch at sundown 
  • Kentucky presents the city of Wickliffe just downriver from where the Ohio River joins 
  • Arkansas offers a levee next to a forest and farmland 
  • Tennessee shows a towboat pushing a row of barges upstream toward Memphis 
  • Louisiana offers the New Orleans skyline and Crescent City Connection bridge
  • Mississippi shows a delta bayou and cypress trees with Spanish moss

And after all that information, on the back of the sheet there’s a map of the river and its major tributaries.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Feeling My Age

Next month I have a milestone birthday, which happens to coincide with becoming eligible for Medicare (federal health insurance for people 65 or older).

I find the whole Medicare topic very confusing. Back in the fall I went to a seminar and learned all about its ins and outs. For example, the Initial Enrollment Period lasts for seven months-three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, and three months after.So in theory I could have waited until next April before applying, but Hubby Tony's been working on his medical Open Enrollment process for next year and said it would make things easier if I was in the Medicare system. Today I filled out my official application.

When Tony went through the process two years ago he had to apply by telephone. It took hours, because it was hard to get through, and then there was another long wait time to actually talk to someone. I had the option of applying online. The whole process took about 15 minutes. At the end I got a confirmation number, and directions for how to check the status of my application.

 Back in September when I had my annual physical the doctor recommended that since I was over 60 years old I get the RSV vaccine. I had good intentions for taking care of it, but the task never made it to the top of my list. 

Two weeks ago I made an appointment for the shot, but when I got to the pharmacy I found out the doctor's office hadn't sent the necessary prescription. I contacted the doctor's office and they did what they needed to do. Once again it took me a while for the task to make it to the top of my list, but after dinner tonight I showed up at my local Walgreens for a vaccine appointment.

There were no other people waiting, and the whole process went quickly. I was wearing a long sleeved shirt, so the pharmacist suggested that instead of rolling up my sleeve I bare my shoulder from the top. He did the injection slowly, then put a bandage on the site and briefly discussed the common side effects (fatigue, fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain) before suggesting I stick around the store for 10 minutes to make sure there were no major issues.

Five years ago today: Another Advent Of Gratutude