Tuesday, July 16, 2024


Our area had some impressive rainfall today. The official total in St. Louis was 1.86 inches, but in other parts of the metropolitan area it ranged from 1 inch to more than 6 inches. The local radio and television channels were full of stories about flash floods and road closures. Fortunately Hubby Tony and I didn't have any issues in our neighborhood. 

The sun came out mid-afternoon, and the temperature dropped enough to open up the windows and enjoy the fresh air.

After dinner we decided to take a walk. I put on my most comfortable sandals, and we said goodbye to the cat as we left. Our route took us through several subdivision streets. The first time I came across moisture on the sidewalk I tried to walk around it but accidentally got my toes in the water. It felt really good.

For the rest of the walk I actively sought out puddles, just like I did here.  One impressively deep puddle had silt in the bottom, so for a block I walked with grit in the sandal footbed. However, the next puddle cleared the issue up. By the time I got home my shoes and feet were both wet, but clean. 

 Five years ago: How Are Your Money Smarts?

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Slow Down And Watch Out For Chicks!

A funny from a friend....

Farmer Vernon lived on a quiet rural highway. But, as time went by, the traffic slowly built up and became so heavy and fast that his free range chickens were being run over every day. 

So he called the sheriff's office and said, "You've got to do something about all of these people driving so fast and killing my chickens."

"What do you want me to do?" asked the sheriff.

Farmer Vernon said, "I don't care. Just do something about those drivers."

So the next day the sheriff had the county go out and put up a sign that said:


Three days later Farmer Vernon called the sheriff and said, "You've got to do something about these drivers. The 'school crossing' sign seems to make them go faster." 

So, again, the sheriff sends out the county and they put up a new sign:


That did nothing but speed them up. Farmer Vernon called every day for three weeks with no results. Finally, he asked the sheriff, "Your signs are doing no good. Is it all right for me to put up my own sign?"

The sheriff told him, "Sure thing, put up your own sign." He was going to let Farmer Vernon do just about anything in order to have him stop calling. The sheriff got no more calls.

Three weeks after Farmer Vernon's last call, the sheriff decided to contact him. "How's the problem with those drivers? Did you put up your sign?"

Farmer Vernon replied, "Oh, I sure did. And not one chicken has been killed since then. I've got to go. I'm very busy." And he hung up the phone. The sheriff thought to himself, "I'd better go look at that sign... There might be something there that WE could use to slow down drivers..."

So the sheriff drove out to Farmer Vernon's house. The first thing he saw was a whole sheet of plywood propped up against a pole. Written in large, bright red letters were the words:


 Five years ago today: Reserve The Rind

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Fortieth FĂȘte

A little over a week ago Son Tony had a milestone birthday. Because of scheduling commitments it took a couple of days, but we finally got around to celebrating it as a family.

Since the birthday boy and his family live in California, it required his parents and one of his brothers to hop on a plane to get there. On July 5th Hubby Tony I were at the St. Louis airport bright and early. (Son Donald flew by himself.) The flight was uneventful, and we arrived at San Jose airport as scheduled. We picked up a car and got ready for fun.

The family wasn't gathering until mid-week. Three house guests were too many for Son Brian and DIL Nicole's small house, so we checked into a motel nearby. Each day we drove a couple of miles to spend time with Brian and company. While there, we: 

  • Played board games with the grandsons and completed a large jigsaw puzzle.
  • Gathered at a park in Los Gatos for a photo session. (I was unaware that some JCPenney Portrait locations offer outdoor photography, but it was a wonderful option. The photographer did a great job of organizing our group of 13, which included some cranky toddlers. I'm excited to see the proofs when they arrive.) The entire clan ended up back at Brian's for lunch.
  • Drove into San Francisco, where we visited the California Academy of Sciences to see the rain forest and aquarium displays. We also went to the Maritime National Historical Park where I stuck my feet in the ocean, and Ghirardelli Square for ice cream.
  • Went to a hot pot conveyor belt restaurant for lunch. Each seat in the booth had its own heating element. Everyone ordered their preferred broth and meat, then chose additional items to cook from the selection that passed by the table.

On Wednesday we packed up our things and headed towards the coast to meet up with Son Tony's family for the next portion of the trip. Each family had a cabin at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA. The six grands swam and played. The entire group came together for meals. There was a campfire, s'mores, and a birthday cake.

However, the perfect trip had a less than perfect ending. Before we arrived Grandson Ell had a 24-hour stomach flu, and then Grandson Dee had the same issue shortly after we got there. Both snapped back to normal quickly. Tuesday Donald spent a half day alone at the hotel with intestinal issues (which he attributed to too much hot pot). On Wednesday afternoon Hubby Tony developed an issue and quarantined until it passed. Thursday night after dinner Grandsons Dee and Jay got sick. 

Everyone was checking out on Friday morning, but Brian's group just packed up and left early. Later that night we learned via text that Grandson Ian had also joined the throw up club.

The plan was for Tony, Donald, and I to drive to Son Tony's house for a couple of days before our flight back home. The three of us talked it over and decided to change our plans and fly out early. Thursday morning we packed up the car and headed back to San Jose. Traffic was lighter than expected, so with our extra time we detoured over to the Apple campus and stopped by the visitor's center. The building is pretty much just an Apple store and cafe area, but there was a nice deck on top of the building and an interesting AR (augmented reality) model of Apple Park.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Swing A Round

I must be in my golfing phase. Just last week Hubby Tony and I played some indoor miniature golf. This week I was part of a group that visited Topgolf.

I've seen the massive Topgolf facilities, but had never been in one. It is more of an entertainment complex than an actual golf range. The three-story complex has one side open to an area to hit balls into. Depending on the activity the group chooses, everyone will be hitting their balls towards the large targets scattered throughout the field, or participating in a game that also has a virtual component.

Each group has its own individual bay. There were a variety of clubs available, but the attendant was happy to bring me a left handed set. I have never played a round of golf in my life, but somehow I ended up on top in a game called Block Party (thanks to the lucky bonus points I accumulated).

It was a lot of fun, and I would definitely go back.

Five years ago today: Bearable Bedding

Monday, July 8, 2024

Murphy's Laundry Law

I have a nice collection of shirts in my closet. For some reason the only ones I spill food on are the light colored ones.

Two weeks ago I bought a white tee at Sam's Club. The first time I wore it I ended up with a blob of salsa right in the middle. I treated the spot, then immediately washed the shirt. When I pulled out of the washer there was still an obvious red spot. I treated the area again, this time with a bleach solution. I rinsed the bleach out, and put the shirt back into the laundry. The second time was the charm for removing the stain.

Yesterday I was wearing that shirt again, and got pasta sauce in approximately the same place. This time I wasn't at home to treat it, but a couple of hours later I squirted stain remover liberally on the spot, then saturated a piece of paper towel with remover and set it on top of the stain to soak overnight. I ran the shirt through the washer, and fortunately the shirt came out ready to wear again.

This afternoon I went out to lunch at a hot pot restaurant. I was wearing a light pink shirt, and if you guessed that I got broth splatters on it you would be correct. This time there were about a half dozen red blobs of tom yum broth all over the front. The first thing I did when I got home was change shirts, then I treated the spots with both stain remover and dish detergent and let the concoction sit for a while. Thankfully the stains came out in the wash.

Tomorrow I think I will wear a black shirt. That way I won't spill anything on it, and there will be no extra efforts needed before it goes into the laundry.

Five years ago today: Sleepytime Breathing

Saturday, July 6, 2024

A Simple Solution

I always carry a tube of hand cream in my purse. Last month when I was applying some, the lid fell on the floor and rolled away. I searched diligently but never found it. I put the topless tube in a Ziploc bag. For a while I carried it in the zipper section of my purse, but soon the inside of the bag got messy from lotion squirting out. It was time to retire the tube and start fresh

I've been making an effort to reduce my plastic consumption, so instead of buying another tube I purchased a lotion bar which had a solid consistency. I slid the bar into a small recycled container. The holder did a good job of keeping the bar intact, and fit nicely into the side zipper section.

But I recently changed to a smaller purse and the container was a little too big. I found an empty lip balm tube, filled it with pieces of the bar, and labeled the tube accordingly. Now all I have to do when my hands get dry is screw the lotion up and rub it on my hands.

Five years ago today: Three Weeks In Grandma Heaven

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Nine Holes Of Indoor Fun

There are 108 cities in St. Louis County, Missouri. Many of the larger ones host July 4th festivities, which include fireworks. Hubby Tony and I weren't inclined to attend any, but Mother Nature helped us decide to definitely stay at home. A storm overnight and this morning brought somewhere between 1.5"-2" of rain, and the weather people are saying that another front coming through tonight will bring more rain and maybe severe weather. Even if they're wrong, the ground would be so wet it would be miserable to sit on.

However, it's still a holiday and I wanted to do something different to make the day memorable. We researched indoor activities, and ultimately decided to check out Puttshack

What is Puttshack? The website says:

From the makers of Top Golf, Puttshack is an upscale tech-infused mini golf game, powered by patented Trackaball technology. (Get ready to ditch scorecards and focus on winning!)

The facility is located at the City Foundry, an old electric motor manufacturing facility that has been turned into an entertainment and retail complex. I made our booking for 11:00, right when the doors opened. When we entered, the attendant at the front desk told us that the display screens would tell us which of the four courses to go to. The Sapphire course was on the second floor


We arrived at the course, where another attendant helped us check in on the video screen. After each check in was complete the kiosk spit out an assigned ball. That ball tracked the number of shots and kept track of the score. Each hole had bonus point opportunities. There were also hazard traps, which subtracted points.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game play, and it didn't hurt that I came out on top by a few points.

We could have stayed and eaten at the facility, or had a drink at the bar, but we decided to save that part of the experience for our next visit.

Five years ago: A Personal Emergency Non-Computerized Information Lifesaver

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Four Tea

I don't know where the time went, but today Son Tony turns 40.

Since he lives halfway across the country it's hard to casually find out his wants and needs. For his last few birthdays Hubby Tony and I have sent some type of edible present--chocolates, baked goods, popcorn, or fruit.

This year we wanted to do something extra. It started with a handmade "four tea" card. After printing out the text, I attached a row of four tea bags to a piece of card stock.

While I did that Tony went to the store and purchased an Amazon gift certificate. We slid it inside the card, then put the card in an envelope and took it to the post office.

We hope Son Tony can have fun picking out something special.

Monday, July 1, 2024

License To Do As I Want

Last Wednesday I did my last cooking shift at the church. I prepared pasta, salad, garlic bread, and cantaloupe chunks for the clergy and office staff. The associate priest made his special family recipe for dessert-a four layer chocolate cake with alternate layers filled with marshmallow cream/chocolate chips and chocolate frosting/peanut butter cups, frosted with more chocolate frosting.

After I cleaned up the kitchen I stopped by the parish office and turned in my keys and grocery store payment cards. Both the business manager and his assistant are close to my age, and they both said they were envious of my new freedom.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday flowed as they always did. On Sunday morning, instead of scanning the newspaper before scooting out the door to get to the grocery store before heading to the church to have breakfast ready for the clergy at 10 am I thoroughly read the entire newspaper while enjoying a second cup of coffee. Hubby Tony and I took a mid-morning walk, which freed up the afternoon for time to do nothing.

Today would have been another work shift. Tony and I had our monthly Sunday collection money counting shift. Normally, after that's over I have to hustle to get back home and collect my things before heading back out for the church. Today I had no commitments, and all the time in the world. Tony and I ran errands, then went to a nearby park before heading back home. This afternoon I actually had time to read, work through a crossword puzzle, and tackle a project.

Wednesday morning I'm scheduled to do an exercise class at the Y right in the middle of what would be my lunch-cooking shift. I'm hopeful there will be more time during the day to do whatever I want.

And the good news is that I can repeat this pattern this week, and next week, and the week after that.....

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Yet One More Cicada Post...

Many of the deciduous trees in my neighborhood are sporting brown branch tips, but there's nothing wrong with them.

The issue is caused by the periodical cicadas that emerged from the ground in May. They mated, then the females scraped a channel in a small branch to lay their eggs. If too many females used the same branch the twig gets damaged, which causes the leaves to die. 

The cicada eggs will hatch in the next few weeks, and the nymphs will fall to the ground and burrow underground until the reappear 13 years from now.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Clean Forgot

It's gotten hot enough here that outside activities need to be done early in the morning or late in the evening. I'm more of a morning person, so today Hubby Tony and I drove to the local YMCA branch and did a couple of errands on foot before I headed inside for an Aqua Zumba class.

Even though our walking route has a lot of shade, I know from past experience that at the end I will be sweaty, so in addition to my suit, pool shoes, and towel I bring fresh clothes to change into post-pool. At the gym I left my bag in the car, then headed to the bank and the post office before returning to the car for my things.

This branch of the Y normally has four locker rooms-one for women, girls, men, and boys. However, this summer they're renovating the adult ones and the youth locker rooms now serve all ages by sex. Except for the fact that the lockers themselves are smaller it's not much of an issue during the times I'm in there. Everyone is my age or older.

In the locker room I took my things out of the bag and realized I had forgotten to bring a beach towel. Before putting on my suit I took a second to figure out exactly what that meant. I could use my dirty clothes to dry off. The pool area is through the shower room and down a flight of stairs. Getting there would not be an issue but afterwards getting from the shower to the locker area could be a little problematic.

The showers are communal, with a row of heads lined up along one wall of the room. (Twenty-year old me would have had an issue with this, but past-middle aged me has no problem showering with a bunch of women my age.) My routine is to adjust the water correct temperature, stand under it, take my suit off and let it hang to drip. When I'm finished showering I squeeze as much water out of the suit as possible, dry off, then wrap the towel around me to walk through the wet area to the lockers.

Today I used my hands to try and squeegee as much water off my body as possible, then hustled my damp, bare bottomed self over to my locker. It took both my damp tank top and cotton knit shorts to dry my body enough to put the new clothes on.

Then I realized that in addition to drying my body, the beach towel also serves as a layer in the bottom of my bag to sop up water from the wet suit. Even though I put those clothes in the bag first, they didn't sop up much liquid. I think I might have left a small trail of water drops as I walked down the stairs and out of the dressing room.

Five years ago today: Almost Healthy

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

True To Type

After blogging for 15 years there are a lot of activities I come back to time and time again. Today was a good example. 

The first thing on my To Do list was a trip to the chiropractor (mentioned in approximately two dozen posts). Once again I walked in with a sore lower back and an achy left shoulder. I came out without either of those two pains. However, I know that when I return six weeks from now for my next appointment he will again be addressing those two issues and whatever else crops up.

Next, Hubby Tony and I set out on a road trip to Alton, Illinois (the subject of a dozen posts). Approximately once a year we head across the Mississippi River to replenish our supply of good balsamic vinegar (seven posts). 

The store didn't open until 11 am, so we headed to an antique mall and looked around. On the way back towards the river I happened to mention that we would drive right by Fast Eddie's Bonair, a legendary bar and restaurant. If it was open it would be a great place for lunch.

I knew I had written about my first trip to Fast Eddie's. Turns out it was on October 17, 2008 on my first blog. How time flies! Except for the prices things haven't changed much since then. The food is a loss leader, designed to get people in the door. Our meal of a quarter pound hamburger, beef tenderloin kebab with green peppers, and a basket of fries came to a couple of cents over $13. Some type of drink was required, but the waitress didn't seem to care what it was.

The place is still cash only, and there was a large sign that said it would take a minimum of 20 minutes to receive a food order. I suspect that's to get people to drink more. While we waited we helped ourselves to free popcorn. It was a little on the salty side-again probably to keep people drinking. The food itself was fabulous. I walked out stuffed.

At the vinegar store I got refills for four 375 ml bottles, and I was entitled to a free sample size bottle because I had told them my birthday was in June. On the way out of the store we asked the owner if she could recommend any coffee shops (innumerable blog mentions). She said there was a local company with a branch about five miles away so we headed there. They had already stopped making drip coffee for the day, but I ordered an Americano, which is just espresso with extra water. It did the trick.

Five years ago: Puzzling Non-Parity

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Egg Alternative

A couple of months ago one of the clergy at the church I cook at discovered he had a mild egg allergy. He can tolerate them when they're a minor ingredient in other foods, but some type of egg dish shows up at just about every Sunday breakfast. I wanted to make sure there was something he could eat, so I did some creative thinking and eventually came up with the idea of making muffin tin baked oatmeal cups. All I had to do was substitute 'flax eggs' (1 T flax seed meal and 2 1/2 T water, soaked together 5 minutes) for the real thing. My inspiration recipe was Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups on Sally's Baking Recipes. It was a hit with everyone. 

Today was my last Sunday cooking shift. The clergyman with the egg issue asked for the recipe, so as I was printing it out for him I decided to share it with you.

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cups (makes 12)
1 1/2 cups milk (dairy or nondairy)
2 large eggs (or 2 T flax seed meal and 5 T water, soaked together 5 minutes)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 heaping cup chopped apple (approximately 1 medium)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously spray muffin pan with nonstick spray.
In large bowl, whisk all ingredients together except for apples (and nuts). Fold in apples and nuts (if using). Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups, making sure both solids and liquids are in each. Fill all the way to the top.
Bake 28-30 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and skewer comes out clean.
Cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pan.

Five years ago: The Onset Of The Season

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Before They Were Famous

This long-ago photo of two future sports stars has been making the rounds on my Facebook wall. Both future sports stars went to a local school, Chaminade College Prep.

(If you follow professional sports in the United States or Canada, you probably know that the Florida Panthers are part of the National Hockey League, and the Boston Celtics are a National Basketball Association team. Boston won their league championship two days ago. The Panthers have a one game lead in their 7-game series.)

Five years ago today: Sounds Like A Pretty Impressive Place

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Tiny Extravagance

The National Day Calendar says that June 18th is National Splurge Day, which "encourages us to break out the rainy day funds and spend a little".

I tried to think about what that meant for me today. A decadent meal? A new outfit? A pedicure? An outing to a place I've always wanted to go to? Sadly, thanks to my schedule none of them happened. However, when I was at the grocery store I walked by the magazine section and inspiration hit.

I enjoy completing paper-and-pencil word puzzles in the afternoon when I have a cup of coffee and a snack. Back when we got the daily newspaper there was an entire page devoted to puzzles of all types. Four years ago we changed to receiving the paper electronically every day but Sunday (so that meant only one day's worth of paper puzzles). A couple of years ago the paper downsized, and now instead of two Sunday crosswords there are only one.

Our community newspaper includes a crossword puzzle in every issue, so I have two to complete every week. That's usually enough, because on the weekdays I work at the church I don't stop for a break once I get home, but in a little over a week those commitments will drop off the calendar. I looked through the selection of puzzle books and chose one to purchase.

The puzzles in the book aren't as complex as the newspaper ones, and I couldn't believe how much the book cost, but I'm calling it a worthwhile splurge.

Five years ago: Nothing New Under The Fashion Sun

Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Perfect Bug

Today was a triple celebration dinner at our house for Hubby Tony's birthday, Son Donald's birthday, and Father's Day. One of Donald's friends also has a birthday in June. He doesn't have any family in town, so Donald asked if we could include him. We agreed.

It's turned into a joke that Donald always requests fried rice for his birthday meal. I am always happy to oblige with such an easy entree, but this year I also added a big bowl of stir fried Napa cabbage with oyster sauce. Tony bought a cake from a local bakery for dessert.

Donald showed up early to help us cook. So as to not make his friend feel bad we gave Donald his present before Friend arrived, and he gave one to Tony. However, there was also an after-dinner surprise for both young men.

Earlier in the week Tony and I were out shopping. In a local chocolatier we found a basket of large molded milk chocolate cicadas. Each four-inch piece was covered in edible iridescent glitter (except for the eyes, which sported a coat of red).

The big periodical cicada infestation is just about over, but we decided to buy one for Donald and Friend as a joke. As Tony served dessert he included the cellophane wrapped chocolates. 

As a group, we decided that these insects were much better than the real thing.

Five years ago today: Happy Fathers Day

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Positive Personality Changes

It's been almost two months since Pimento the foster cat came to live with Hubby Tony and me. 

Before being taken in by the shelter a little over two years ago Pimento was found wandering the streets, so I can't imagine what kind of life he led. He was at his first foster house for a year, where he went from hiding to eventually sitting on the couch next to his 'mom'. When her work schedule changed and she felt she couldn't give him enough socialization time we stepped in.

Pimento's social skills reverted back to Step One. For weeks he only came out when we weren't there. In the morning the food bowl was empty, the litter box was full, and there was evidence that he had been sitting on the cedar chest in the living room to look out the window. One day I came in from running errands and saw him in the kitchen. The poor cat was in such a hurry to leave the room that he skidded across the floor.

But then we would start seeing Pimento sitting in the middle of the office floor. It was just a short distance from his hidey hole behind the bed or underneath the bedspread, but sometimes he would wait a few seconds before darting away. One day I reached under the bedspread and started petting him. Instead of shrinking away he leaned into the physical contact and actually purred!

We started giving Pimento a nightly bit of tuna cat food, putting the bowl further and further away from his hiding space so he would have to come out. He eventually became comfortable with Tony and me being in the room with him. After eating he would saunter down the hall to Tony's office and hang out for a couple of minutes before retreating to his safe place.

This morning I was petting Pimento behind the bed and he actually came out. His personality was completely different; it was like someone had flipped a switch. I pulled out my phone to capture the moment:

 Once the moment ended Pimento had 'peopled' enough and headed back to his quiet space. I'm hopeful that his affection is the start of real change.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Please Stand....

Last night was the second of the two St. Louis Cardinal baseball games that Hubby Tony bought tickets for at the beginning of the season. This one was special, because we were also celebrating Tony's birthday.

The day started out normally, but in the late morning some nearby construction led to a broken water main and all of a sudden water to the building was off. An hour later our internet went down. Tony and I soldiered on for a while, but eventually decided to leave the house early and run some errands before going to dinner and the game.

Dinner was at Michael's Bar and Grill. The restaurant has been around for decades, but we had never been before. Tony and I both got the Greek Sampler platter-a choice of moussaka (Tony) or pastitio (me), along with dolmades and spanakopita.

We entered the stadium during the string of ceremonial first pitches and made our way up to our seats on the right field side. That section was still in the sun, so we went back out to the concourse and found a bench in the shade. The announcer introduced the lineups for the Pirates and the Cardinals, then asked everyone to rise for the singing of God Bless America and the National Anthem.

In the concourse many people ignored the first song, which was performed by an elementary school choir. However, I was proud to see that right before the Star Spangled Banner the vast majority of people stood up, or stood still if they were walking, and took their hats off for the duration of the song. The elementary school band did a good job of performing. At the end of the song everyone went back to their previous activity.

(And Tony I ended up finding empty seats on the shady side of the stadium. Given the Cardinal's poor performance so far this season there were plenty to pick from. The first eight innings were scoreless, but the Pirates got two runs in their half of the ninth and the Cardinals only managed to get one run for yet another loss.) 

Five years ago today: Blues Win!

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Moving On

I have been working as a parish cook for a little over 18 months. since November, 2022. When I heard about the opportunity I wasn't looking for a job, but I really enjoy the creative challenge of coming up with menus that fit with the likes and dislikes of the group.

However, last fall when Hubby Tony broke his ankle we realized how life can turn on a dime. In mid-2021 Tony started a three-year term of a volunteer commitment with relatively heavy time commitments. His term is over this month, and he decided to step down. I've decided to do the same thing.

Starting in July both of us will have more flexible schedules, which will give us the ability to plan more joint activities (and also find interesting things to do on our own).

I gave the pastor a little over a month notice so he could be looking for someone else that might be interested in cooking for the church. In the meantime I've been planning my menus with an eye to using ingredients I had stashed in the freezer and pantry. That way a new person can start fresh.

Five years ago today: LGB!

Saturday, June 8, 2024

A Tale Of Two Sales

This morning when I was driving to the gym I saw a sign for a garage sale at a nearby senior living community and decided to stop on the way home. By the time I got to the gym I saw three more signs advertising the event, so I figured it would be a good one.

The community campus was crowded, and it took five minutes to find a place to park. I followed the other people to the resident parking garage underneath the building. The first thing I saw was a bank of cashiers seated at folding tables. The second thing I saw was a sign that listed the forms of payment--cash or checks. 

Knowing there were only a couple of dollars in my wallet, I turned around and walked out. (I stopped carrying a checkbook years ago. For a while I had one emergency check in my wallet, but even gave that up.)

Before I drove home I thought I would try my luck at a different type of sale. One of the members of the local Buy Nothing group was having a Free Market. All of the items were donated by members, and all were free to take. 

This time I found a parking space easily, but it still took five minutes to get there because my easy-to-find space was at the opposite end of the street from the sale. As I walked I saw groups of people coming back to their car carrying things in tote bags and wished I had remembered to grab one from my back seat.

When I got close to the sale the first thing I saw were several popup tents next to the driveway. I made one sweep through the sale and found a Tervis tumbler with a large K on the side, a Pioneer Woman salad plate, and a scarf that will be perfect in the fall. 

By this point I was hungry and needed to pee so I found a wash basin to carry my things and left. It felt strange not to give anyone money for my finds.

A couple of hours later I returned to the sale. Although I scored two shelf brackets that I can use in my closet, this time I mainly concentrated on looking for items that a friend could include in themed baskets she makes for charity auctions. I came away with a couple of vases, some seasonal decorations, a small basket, and some miscellaneous tchokes. My friend will be thrilled

Five years ago: No Hubby, No Go

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

New Chicks On The Block

Last week when I was cooking at the church I walked some food scraps across the parking lot to the  chicken coop. Much to my surprise it was fuller than it used to be. In addition to the three usual hens there were also three young pullets sharing the space.

These chicks are always on the move!

There has always a definite pecking order in the coop and it's even more obvious now. The two trios of females are always on opposite sides, and the juveniles keep an eye out for the adults and move as a group. 

Today I distributed some melon and strawberry chunks. I put most of them where the old hens were hanging out, but also tossed a couple of handfuls over towards the youngsters. The alpha hen ran over to also claim that food, causing the newbies to scatter in terror. I didn't think that was fair, so I opened up the the closed raised garden bed and tore off three leaves of lettuce and fed one leaf to each them through the fence.

Five years ago: Seedlings, Shoots, and Sprouts

Sunday, June 2, 2024

I'm Not Crazy (Thank Goodness)!

Yesterday morning I got myself a cup of tap water and noticed it had a slightly 'off' smell and taste. I asked Hubby Tony if he had observed any issues. He hadn't. However, for the rest of the day my Adam's ale wasn't as it should be.

The problem was still there today. Once again I questioned Tony about the issue. He said the water was the same as always. I wondered if my sense of taste and smell were going bonkers. In 2007 St. Louis tap water was named "Best Tasting City Water in America". Since that time other cities have surpassed us, but ours is still up there in quality.

Eventually I turned to the internet to see what was going on. I felt vindicated when I read on the water company website:

Due to rains within the Missouri River watershed and the associated change in source water characteristics, customers may experience a slight yellow or greenish tint in certain locations within St. Louis County and Missouri American Water Customers in St. Charles County. Additionally, customers may experience taste and odor in their tap water. This taste and odor may range from a chlorine or chemical taste to an earthy musty taste and odor. Treatment measures are being utilized to minimize these conditions. Please be aware that there are no health risks. Our team is continuously testing to confirm safe drinking water standards are met. The water should return to normal by June 4th.

Now I will drink my 'off' water without worry and know that things will be returning to normal soon.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Unique Illumination

Recently an unexpected package showed up in the foyer of my building. The label had my name on it, but I didn't recognize the sender. When I opened the box a lovely nightlight was inside from Son Tony's family.

The acrylic slab has flower stickers attached to the back, and the a groove in the base has a strip of LED lights that shine up through the clear plastic. There's a convenient on/off switch. The cord ends in a USB connector, which is perfect because the USB hub on my desk had an empty slot.

What the photo doesn't show is what makes the gift extra special. The wood base is personalized with the words 'we love you' and everyone's first name.

Five years ago: Window Washing Workout

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tastes The Same But Saves Money

What passes for sweet cherry season has arrived in my city. The grocery stores are selling the fruit for $5-$6 a pound, which is more expensive than other fruit. I understand that's because cherries are labor intensive to harvest and the fruit has to be handled carefully or it will bruise. But Hubby Tony and I love their taste and buck up the extra money.

However, this year the Asian market by my house has been selling cherries for a third of the prices at the other stores. The first time I bought a bag I discovered there were quite a few fused ones mixed in.

A double cherry consists of two cherries fused together. Most of the time they each have a pit; sometimes one of the pits is on the small size. A small percentage of the doubles in my bag had one full size cherry and one small, raisin-like fruit stuck to its side (which is called spurring).

In our house the vast majority of the cherries are eaten out of hand and the doubles don't bother us at all.

Monday, May 27, 2024

A Beautiful Day For A Ceremony

Around here Memorial Day Weekend weather is pretty unpredictable. It can be chilly enough for long sleeves or hot enough for tank tops. Last night a storm with strong winds and large hail came through, but  today was perfect-sunny, nice temperatures, and low humidity.

Hubby Tony and I knew that we wanted to attend our city's Memorial Day program and decided to get there on bike. We left early and spent 45 minutes cycling through residential streets before ending up at the City Hall grounds.

The City had closed the major road at the train tracks, and a fire truck displaying a huge American flag was parked in the western lanes. A couple of hundred people were sitting in folding chairs on the grass, and more were standing around the perimeter of the area.

After some opening remarks, the Boy Scout Troop presented the colors. A Legion member sang the National Anthem and offered an invocation. 

There were two short presentations by Legion members. The first was about the history of the American Legion, (where I learned that the first caucus of the organization was held in St. Louis, and that Main Street in Kirkwood changed its name to Argonne to honor the the residents who died during that battle) and Legion Post 156. The second was about the history of Memorial Day. Then a bagpiper played Amazing Grace.

The second part of the program was by students from the local Catholic school. As part of their Faith in Action program the fourth graders concentrated on veterans, with an emphasis on learning about ones from Kirkwood. Several students read their short essays about a specific veteran. 

The audience sang God Bless America, the Scouts retired the colors, and a trumpeter played Taps. At the end of the ceremony the emcee thanked us for coming and invited everyone to the Post for hamburgers and hot dogs. That didn't start for 30 minutes, so Tony and I rode around some more. The sun was warmer, but it was still cool enough that I didn't break a sweat.

We arrived at the Post building and got in line for food. The small room was very crowded, and it seemed like most of the people there were members, family or friends. We ate and chatted briefly with the people sitting next to us, then left so someone else could have our seats.

Five years ago today: Vintage And Adjunct Vintage

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Dive Bombing Displeasure

Are you tired of hearing about periodical cicadas yet? (I am!) However, their mating/egg laying cycle is only halfway over, with predictions of two more weeks before they disappear for another 13 years. Based on my informal observations, the past few days may be the peak of activity.

The forecast Hubby Tony heard right before we I went to bed last night today was for rain. That's what was happening when we woke up, but much to our surprise the sun came out mid-morning. My weather app said it would be dry until late afternoon.

With the unexpected nice weather we decided to go out to get some coffee (by taking advantage of the baseball Cardinals 6-run game promotion at Mobil on the Run). We chose a location that had an on-demand brew system. After procuring our caffeine, we decided to walk to a nearby grocery store to pick up a couple of items Tony needed for dinner.

Most of the walk was along a busy arterial road, but when we came to a nice-looking residential street I asked Tony if he wanted to turn. He agreed. The short lane was lined with cute bungalows and two-stories. All of them had large yards and mature landscaping. And more flying cicadas than I had ever seen. The quantity and noise was similar to this video:

Logically, I knew that the insects are renowned for their clumsy flying, and all they're doing is searching for a mate, but it was unnerving to  bob and weave to avoid them. After walking through the gauntlet of flying bugs we made it back to the main street and headed toward the grocery store. We saw fewer flying menaces, but quite a few cicadas were hanging out around a weed tree patch.

At the store Tony picked out a nice ripe avocado and a bunch of green onions. On the way out of the store I stopped at the stand of free publications. One of them had a cover story about free summer concerts, so I decided to bring one home to see if there were any I didn't know about. 

This magazine used to be bulk mailed to our old house, and I tend not to agree with their editorial positions. But the rolled up issue was great for swatting at the dive-bombing cicadas on the way back to the car.

Five years ago: Inoculation Anon

Friday, May 24, 2024

To-Do Tool

I was recently introduced to the concept of the 'needle list'--the everyday things I need to do, but put off doing, then feel bad about not getting them done. The term was coined by Serena Wolf, who says:
"...the Needle List is a running list of smaller tasks that I am prone to procrastinate—think returns, personal emails/texts, cleaning “the chair,” organizing a drawer, getting something repaired, making non-urgent medical appointments, sending thank you notes, etc. These little to-dos, which usually take only a few minutes to complete—live rent-free in the back of my mind and just NEEDLE me on a daily basis."

Serena says she blocks time off once a week to tackle the things on her list, which makes life less stressful. My schedule is pretty flexible, so I try to spend a 15 or 20 minutes each day, which keeps my list in check.
Five years ago: Don’t Fry Day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Big Bug Buzz

I came across an article that talked about the current brood of periodical cicadas putting out potentially dangerous sound levels. The reporters used a decibel meter several places around town. At one park they had readings between the high 80s to mid-90s. At another location the insects were louder than a light rail system train, and at a third louder than a tanker truck driving on the interstate.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, sounds at 85 dB can lead to hearing loss if you listen for more than eight hours at a time, and higher loudness causes faster damage.

If you've never heard a cicada buzz, it's a rising and falling drone. I find the annual cicadas whirr pleasurable, but put millions of them together and it's downright unpleasant. A cool front came through the area last night, and today we opened up the windows, which meant that the cicada drone was even more obvious.

I was curious just how loud the din was at our house, so I used the online loudness meter at Youlean.co. The noise turned out not to be so bad. I Placed the laptop immediately next to the windows in each room and got values of 30-36dB (similar to leaves rustling or a study room). Outside on the deck, the meter showed a range of 54-60 dB (about the same as a normal conversation).  

We're halfway through this cicada cycle. In about two weeks the singing and mating should be wrapped up. Thank goodness!

Five years ago: Unconcerned

Monday, May 20, 2024

Fried Exotic Veggies

One Saturday night after church Hubby Tony and I had dinner at a strip mall restaurant that specialized in Vietnamese pho. The server was friendly and helpful, and the food freshly prepared. 

On the way back to the car we passed a nut and candy store, and decided to go in. The associate behind the counter greeted us immediately. It only took a few seconds for me to realize that most of the merchandise was from the Middle East. As soon as I started to look at the items behind the counter the associate asked if I wanted a sample. One of the bins held a colorful collection of what looked like vegetables. It turns out they were.

The veggie chips I sampled were a savory assortment of fried orange and purple sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, green beans, and taro. I decided to buy some to take home. The associate scooped some into a bag, weighed it, and printed out a price label. Tony chose several pieces of wrapped candy and handed them to the associate. It also was put in a bag, weighed, and labeled.

 The next day Son Donald came for dinner. I pulled out my veggie chips and we noshed on them before the real meal. I discovered that as part of the bagging process many of the vegetables broke into small pieces, but even the crumbs were tasty.

When I looked up the nutrition information for my snack I discovered that veggie chips had a little bit more fiber than potato chips, but otherwise the nutrition was about the same.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Great Song, Surprising Songstress

Most Saturday mornings I take a cycling class at the gym. I enjoy this instructor's choice of music, which is mostly a combination of rock with an occasional disco, country, or techno song thrown in. I know the vast majority of them, and can even sing along in my head, which helps me forget I'm working hard.

This morning she used a rap song that was new to me. I don't listen to Top 40 hits so I didn't recognize the male voice (which turned out to be Pitbull), but the female one was unmistakable-Dolly Parton!

What do you think?

Personally, I wouldn't be at all annoyed if this song ended up in the regular cycling class rotation.

Five years ago: Given With Love

Thursday, May 16, 2024

A Bevy Of Brood Bugs

I won't be breaking off branches during my walks any time soon, because the periodical cicadas have taken most of those branches over.

Cicadas are insects. There are two types--annual (which can be found worldwide) and periodical (which live only in the eastern and central parts of the United States). The latter are divided into two groups. There's a set that comes out every 13 years and another that comes out every 17 years. Both types emerge in broods, which are labeled with Roman numerals.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

In some parts of the country two broods are emerging in 2024. Not here, though. We're 'lucky' to have just the Brood XIX 13-year insects. That's more than enough for me, as there are millions in the Brood. When the nymphs emerge from the ground they climb up onto a vertical surface, shed their exoskeleton, and fly off in search of a mate. 

They are horrible flyers, and often run into things. Adult cicadas are somewhere between 1 1/2 inches and 2 inches long, so when they run into you you can definitely feel it. They're also noisy! To attract mates male cicadas buzz loudly, and large groups of them turn into a loud droning sound. Fortunately, our condo building is close enough to a connector road and the traffic sounds mitigate some of the drone.

Fortunately, the cicada event will only last a couple of weeks before all the mating and egg-laying is completed and the nymphs burrow down into the ground...until their next awakening.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Half Staff

Did you know that this week is National Police Week, and May 15th is Peace Officers Memorial Day? I didn't.

According to Wikipedia, Peace Officers Memorial Day is a United States observance that "pays tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty".

The Day and Week were created by Congress in October of 1961, and President John F. Kennedy signed the bill into law. In 1994 President Bill Clinton directed that the flag of the United States be flown at half staff on May 15, one of two days which requires American flags be lowered to half-staff by federal law. (The other is Memorial Day.)


Five years ago today: My Warm Weather Treat

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Making My Gut Happy

This afternoon I was leafing through the latest issue of the AARP Bulletin and found an article about gut health and how it can affect health in general. I learned that a healthy gut can help control your weight, reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, help you live longer, and increase happiness.

The article went on to say that the first step in a healthy gut microbiome is to feed it whole (instead of processed) foods. A satisfied gut likes a wide variety of whole food plant based items. The people with the healthiest microbiomes ate at least 30 different types of plants every week, which includes vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. The article also said some people strive to eat at least 20 different plants every single day!

For grins, I decided to see how my diet today had stacked up. The article just said different items, not how much of each, so I figured that small amounts would count.

  • Breakfast was a bowl of cereal with blueberries (1) and walnuts (2). 
  • Lunch was baked tofu (3), a container of vegetables with carrots (4), celery (5), colored peppers (6), cauliflower (7), zucchini (8), and grape tomatoes (9), a homemade muffin that included oatmeal (10) and whole wheat flour (11), and a pear (12).
  • Mid-afternoon I nuked some spinach (13) and mushrooms (14), then added a handful of wasabi peas (15). 

At this point I realized that hitting the 20 different plants goal was actually doable, and really leaned into the project.

  • Dinner was already going to include lettuce (16) that needed to be used up. The meal turned into a main dish salad with chopped tomatoes and carrots (not counted, because that would be double dipping), pickled watermelon rind (17), green onion (18), roasted chickpeas (19), and sunflower seeds (20). On the side there was some good sourdough bread. Dessert was strawberries (21).

Lest you think I had a perfect eating day, ten minutes after dinner was cleaned up I also had a couple of truffles from my Mother's Day present box.

With no expectations, I'm going to try to find ten more plants to consume before a week has passed.


Sunday, May 12, 2024

A Trio Of Mother's Day Pleasures

This has been the best Mother's Day in a long time.

On Wednesday afternoon Son Tony flew into town for business, and Hubby Tony and I were able to meet him for lunch. It was great to see him and catch up. As we were leaving the restaurant he got an envelope out of his car and handed it to me. When I got home I opened the envelope and found a pop-up card with a heartfelt inscription from DIL Ie and some type of drawings from each of the three grands.

Friday afternoon Tony and I were getting ready to leave the condo and discovered a box outside of our door. The box held a package of chocolate truffles from Son Brian and DIL Nicole. On Saturday Brian called. It had been several weeks since we had talked and we had a nice long catch-up conversation.
Tony always cooks dinner on Sunday, but in honor of Mother's Day he made portable picnic food. We packed it up and drove to Son Donald's house, where he and his two Chihuahua-mix dogs joined us for a short ride to Forest Park. We found a table to eat, then the three of us took the dogs for a walk.
Dogs and 'dog grandparents'

Five years ago today: The Mom Song

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Pimento's Big Day

Today Hubby Tony and I took our foster cat Pimento to the vet for annual shots.

In the three weeks Pimento has lived with us, he's settled into a predictable pattern. Most of the day he shelters under the daybed cover in the office. When Tony and I go to bed, the cat has moved to stage himself behind the trundle bed mattress (probably so he can get a fast start on eating and using the litter box after we turn out the lights).

Given that Pimento is already somewhat secured under the cover I figured it would be relatively easy to get him into a carrier for the trip. The plan was to close the office door and have Tony to sit on one end of the bed to lift up the cover so I could grab him. However, in the morning we discovered Pimento had mixed his routine up and was hunkered down behind the bed.

Putting him into the carrier turned into a five-minute slapstick of pulling out the bed frame, Pimento sliding underneath the trundle, and scampering around the room in an effort to elude us. He even jumped into an open window and tried to climb up the screen in the gap between the glass and the screen before I was able to extricate his claws from the screen mesh and grab him.

The animal hospital the shelter uses was a thirty minute drive from the condo. The arrangement is for the vet to do shelter work during breaks or any free time, so we dropped Pimento off at 8 am. The receptionist said to expect a notification sometime between 12 and 2 pm letting us know to come pick him up, but to call if we hadn't heard anything by 3 pm.

After leaving the clinic, the next stop was at his previous foster's house to return a sweat shirt she had left in his cage when we made the transfer. We chatted with her for a few minutes and learned some interesting tidbits that explained a lot. She told us that Pimento has a small tip of his right ear gone, which indicated he had gone through a Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) process. Along the way someone recognized he had the possibility to be someone's pet and contacted the shelter. She had done her part to help socialize Pimento, but when her work schedule changed she realized he would benefit from someone who was around the house more and turned him over to us.

The pickup went smoothly. In addition to his shots Pimento had his nails clipped. After his rough day he fell asleep in the carrier on the ride home. Tony set the carrier down in the office and opened the door. Pimento was thrilled to be back home.  

At bedtime we couldn't find Pimento in any of his usual spots. Tony discovered him under our bed, scrunched up against the headboard wall and as close to the middle of the queen sized mattress as he could get. I'm sure he felt safer there, but I was excited to see he knew enough about other parts of the house to choose a new place.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

A Win For The City And A Win For Our Pocketbook

Tonight Hubby Tony and I had tickets to a Cardinals baseball game.  Even though they haven't been doing well this year we optimistically thought that this would be the night their luck would change. (We were wrong. The team started strong in the first inning, scoring three runs. But they ended up losing the game 7-5. And to add insult to injury Willson Contreras, one of the most productive players on the team, broke his arm in a freak on-field accident and will probably miss the rest of the season.)

We got downtown a couple of hours before the game to grab some dinner. Instead of paying for a spot in a garage or parking lot Tony snagged an on-street parking space halfway between the restaurant and the stadium. 

As he got ready to pay we noticed that the meter was set up for event pricing. Instead of the usual $1.50 hourly rate that is only enforced until 7 pm (with a total cost of $3.00), the flat rate event pricing cost was $5.00. However, it was still a good deal, as that was still substantially lower than the $15 the nearest lot was charging. 

So the city got more revenue out of us and we got to keep more money in our wallet.

Monday, May 6, 2024

A Farmer Funny

Farmer Joe decided his injuries from an accident were serious enough to take the trucking company who was responsible to court. During the trial the trucking company's lawyer was questioning Farmer Joe by saying, "Didn't you say at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?"

Farmer Joe responded, "Well, I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the......."

"I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question. Did you not say at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine?'"

Farmer Joe said, "Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..."

The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that at the scene of the accident this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."

By this time the Judge was interested in Farmer Joe's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie."

Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and hit my truck on the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans."

"Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her he took out his gun and put her out of her misery."

"Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, 'Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her - how are you feeling?'"

Five years ago: Let's Go Blues!

Friday, May 3, 2024

What Does My Phone Know That I Don't?

This weekend I will be attending an organization business meeting in the Lake of the Ozarks area. I was trying to figure out what to pack, so I opened my weather app in my condo in Kirkwood, MO to find out.

For some reason my phone had a different idea of where I was standing.

Does it have old information cached, or does it really want to go back to Hawaii? (For what it's worth, this is the first time I've had the issue. And some of the locations it picked up I have no recollection of searching for. For others, the search would have been a couple of years ago.)

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Yet Another Reason Why I Like Condo Living

Yesterday Hubby Tony and I noticed some large bees lazily buzzing around outside my office window. This morning I was putting my suit and towel out on the deck to dry after a water class at the gym. I looked up, noticed a series of holes in the wood window header, and realized we probably had carpenter bees. 

But instead of quarterbacking the problem like we would have if we were homeowners, all I had to do is snap a photo and send it off to the condo management office. They responded, saying they would have a pest control company look into it. 

Just like that the issue was out of our court.

Five years ago:John Wayne's Five Rules to Remember in Life