Sunday, March 31, 2024

A Double Observance Day

Easter isn't the only event on my calendar today. It's also the third anniversary of Hubby Tony's retirement.

In honor of the second event yesterday I went to the bakery and bought a loaf of bread. (There were a lot of good choices, but I decided on Peach Cinnamon Swirl. I brought it home and added a label that said Now that you're retired you have plenty of time to 'Loaf around'.

Before breakfast this morning I gave Tony his loaf and suggested it would be a great accompaniment to a breakfast of Easter eggs and fruit. As it turns out, it was. Tony cut thick slices of the bread and toasted it. I had never had this type before and wasn't sure what to expect, but the large pieces of peaches mixed in with the cinnamon/sugar filling were a perfect combination.

Five years ago today: Perspective

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Easter Treats For All

Years ago when there were three youngsters in the house the week before Easter was a flurry of candy and trinket buying for their baskets. Now that there's just Hubby Tony and me we've scaled back, but in my opinion you can't celebrate Easter without at least some candy.

Last weekend we bought two dark chocolate rabbits from a local chocolatier. They were nicely packaged in cellophane bags, so we decided that instead of waiting till the last minute to set them out we would let our purchases also serve as decoration. I placed the bunnies on a crystal plate with some plastic grass and a few plastic eggs.

A couple of days later we went to Walgreens to get more candy. We left with some miniature chocolate bars, a few Cadbury eggs, a bag of jelly beans, and some Peeps. However, Son Donald is coming for dinner . He's more of a savory than a sweet guy, so Tony wanted to make sure there was something he would enjoy. For some reason it's really hard to find small savory snacks, but at the grocery store we bought some individual beef snack sticks.

With everything we brought home the plate was now too small, so Tony arranged everything nicely on a large lime green plastic tray. The tray has been there for two days and so far I've impressed myself by walking by all the temptation. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Fun With Drains

Hubby Tony was cleaning up after dinner tonight. Somehow, a small glass ramekin got stuck in the drain on the garbage disposal side of the double sink and was so firmly implanted that water couldn't go down the drain.

He tried to wedge the ramekin out with his fingers and then an ice tongs. No luck. Plunging the drain lifted the ramekin just enough for the excess water to go down but didn't do anything else.

I tried using the plunger on the opposite sink, thinking that forcing air through the trap would loosen the ramekin. It moved a little bit but then settled right back into place. I tried again with Tony waiting to grab the ramekin, but it didn't raise up enough to give him something to hold onto. We tried putting some water into the opposite drain, but that didn't make much difference.

Finally, we scooped out all of the excess water in the sink and filled the ramekin with ice. A couple of minutes later I added water on the opposite side and plunged. The cold had contracted the glass enough that the ramekin popped up! Tony was caught off guard, but when we repeated the process a second time he was able to catch it with both hands.

Five years ago today: The Best Thing Since Sliced...Bagels?

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Making An Informed Decision

Next Tuesday I get to go to the polls. There are elections for the city council, mayor, school board, and a couple of sewer district issues.

Earlier this week I received a sample ballot in the mail. Tonight I decided to figure out which of the candidates would receive my vote. I started by reading their biographies in the voters guide published by the local newspaper. I checked out their websites to get their positions on issues, and searched through a couple of non-partisan sources.

Next I read a couple of sources of information on the issues. The sewer district wants to issue bonds to pay for mandated improvements to the wastewater system and proposes a property tax increase to establish a stormwater improvement program.

As I made my choices I filled out the sample ballot so the voting process will be easy and quick.

Five years ago today: Detergent Diversification

Monday, March 25, 2024

I Wish I Could Think On My Feet This Quickly

It was the final examination for an introductory English course at the local university. With over 300 students in the class, it was designed to weed out freshmen that didn't belong.

The examination was two hours long, and exam booklets were provided. The professor was very strict and told the class that any exam that was not on her desk in exactly two hours would not be accepted and the student would fail.

A half hour into the exam, a student came rushing in and asked the professor for an exam booklet.

"You're not going to have time to finish this," the professor stated sarcastically as she handed the student a booklet.

"Yes I will," replied the student. He took a seat and began writing.

After two hours, the professor called for the exams, and the students filed up and handed them in. All except the late student, who continued writing.

A half hour later, the late student came up to the professor who was sitting at his desk. He attempted to put his exam on the stack of exam booklets already there.

"No you don't, I'm not going to accept that. It's late."

The student looked incredulous and angry. "Do you know WHO I am?"

"No, as a matter of fact I don't," replied the professor with an air of sarcasm in her voice.

"DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" the student asked again.

"No, and I don't care." replied the professor with an air of superiority.

"Good," replied the student, who quickly lifted the stack of completed exams, stuffed his in the middle, and walked out of the room. 

Five years ago today: Boy-bys

Saturday, March 23, 2024

A Delicious Duo

I received an email this morning from a fast casual chain Mexican restaurant that today was National Chip and Dip Day. Time to celebrate!
Tonight Hubby Tony and I had Guys and Dolls poker on the schedule. The men play cards, the women go out to dinner and gather at someone's house before meeting up with the men again at the end of the night. However, two of the women in the group are medically compromised so after explaining my residual cough issues we decided that I would pass this month and see them next time. All of a sudden my late afternoon and evening were free.

I can't remember the last time I had so many hours to myself with nothing to do. I ran some errands, added a little retail therapy, then decided to head to a branch of the restaurant that sent me the email.

I ordered a salad with chicken, a combination of black and pinto beans, fajita vegetables, cheese, and green salsa. At the cash register I added an order of chips and salsa. The restaurant was chilly, so after I paid for the food I decided to take it outside and eat in my car. The late afternoon sun was coming in the driver's side window and made the inside toasty.

Five years ago: A Parking Miracle

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Efficient Air Expelling

I've now had a croupy cough for the better part of a week. As soon as I think it's getting better I'll get an itchy throat and spend five minutes hacking.

I've tried all the obvious suggestions (medicinal ones like decongestant tablets, cough drops, and Vicks VapoRub) and natural remedies (tea with honey and lemon, hot water straight up, gargling with salt water, steaming my sinuses with a pot of simmering water and a towel draped over my head). All provide just temporary solutions.

I know my symptoms are transient, but right now they're making me miserable. In an effort to come up with something else that might help I've learned that there are actually techniques for effective coughing. 

The first one is a “controlled deep cough”. You start by sitting up straight, with your feet on the floor. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, then lean forward slightly, cross your arms over your stomach and cough twice, using your abdominal muscles to expel the air out through your mouth.

The second one is "controlled huff coughing". Sit up straight with your feet on the floor and lift your chin. Exhale slowly, then take a deep breath through your nose. Hold it for several seconds then force the air out with three rapid huffs (like you're breathing to clean a pair of glasses).

The techniques are helping, but I really can't wait for the day when I'm not coughing any more!

Five years ago: First Day Of Spring Color

Monday, March 18, 2024

One Bowl, Three Meals

 This morning I decided to have steel cut oatmeal for breakfast. I added one serving of dry oatmeal and water to a six-cup Pyrex bowl and put it in the microwave. This bowl is tall enough that the oatmeal doesn't boil over (because the last thing I want to do before coffee is clean up a gunky mess from the turntable).

As I was eating I realized that the croupy cough I've had for a couple of days was much worse, my body felt like it had been run over by a big truck, and I should probably cancel my plans for the day and stay home.

I spent the morning napping on the couch, reading, and drinking hot tea with honey and lemon. At lunchtime I cut raw veggies and a mushroom into pieces, dumped them into the Pyrex bowl, then added a handful of spinach, water, and a spoonful of Tom Yum powder and microwaved . The spicy soup tasted great and as a bonus cleared up my nasal passages.

At this point I was feeling a little bit better, so I took the car to Sam's Club for gas and stopped by the grocery store for another jar of honey (masking up before I went in). I puttered away the rest of the afternoon with more reading and mindless social media scrolling.

Hubby Tony had a dinner meeting so I was on my own for dinner. I put together a dribs and drabs main dish salad with a serving of rice, leftover pork steak, red and yellow pepper pieces, caramelized onions, and chopped romaine lettuce. Everything went in the trusty Pyrex bowl, because why not?

Thursday, March 14, 2024

No Decimal Point

Most people know that March 14th, written as 3/14 in the United States, is also Pi Day. However, in the St. Louis metropolitan area the date has an additional meaning because the digits 314 happen to be the original area code for the metropolitan area. Around here March 14th is known as St. Louis Day. Hubby Tony and I decided to celebrate with some local activities and food.

There were a lot of organized options. One of the things that caught our attention were several self-guided 3.14 mile walks. It looked like today was going to be rainy, so yesterday after I got home from work Tony and I drove to the St. Vincent Greenway, a new to us trail.

After a great walk, we got back in the car and drove to Chuck-A-Burger, a local drive in that's been around since the 1950s.

The restaurant was close to Tony's teenage stomping grounds but I had never been there before. A friendly carhop took our order and brought it out to the car. (In a bag-no carhop tray.) I tried to take a photo with the food on my lap but couldn't properly capture the perfectly grilled double smashburger with crispy edges, crispy fries, and hand breaded onion rings. You'll have to take my word for how good it was. Tony took the scenic route home.

We went to bed thinking it was going to rain all day today and planned accordingly. However, this morning my phone app said that after an early morning storm the day would be dry until evening and we quickly modified our plans. We still went to the gym, but before my class stopped by Kaldi's Coffee for coffee to drink and a bag of their special 314 Day blend for later.

After the gym we walked to Mission Taco Joint, where as part of our lunch Tony and I each had a toasted ravioli taco-a crispy corn tortilla, Italian-seasoned meat filling, marinara sauce, and Provel and Parmesan cheeses.
After lunch we headed went home. Tony had a dinner meeting tonight, so later in the afternoon I headed to Schnucks, one of the areas two local grocery store chains, to pick up something "St. Louis" for my dinner. I ended up buying a pork steak from the prepared foods counter. Appropriate, as St. Louis is the home of the pork steak.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Trees Taking Over

Drive down any highway or road at this time of the year and the clusters of white tree blossoms are very easy to pick out. Some of those blossoms are welcome, like wild plum, serviceberry, ornamental cherry, and crabapple. However, others are not. Looking at you, Callery pear AKA Bradford pear.

Bradford pear trees grow fast and in just about any soil. They have pretty white flowers in the spring (which some people think smell terrible, but I've never noticed) and pretty reddish leaves in the fall. For a while they were popular and everyone was planting them.

But soon people discovered problems with the trees. They have a weak branch structure. When a tree gets large it is easily split or knocked over by wind.  Originally they were thought to be sterile, but it turns out they can cross-pollinate with other strains of ornamental pear trees. Birds eat the berries and poop out the viable seeds, which grow into invasive thickets of thorny trees.

Weed tree thicket. Nothing planted on purpose here.

The Department of Conservation has put Callery pears on the Invasive list. A bill has been introduced in the state House of Representatives that would pull the certification of nurseries if they sold it (and a couple of other invasive plants). There have also been a couple of 'buy back' programs that will give people a free native tree if they provide proof they've cut down a Callery pear.

Five years ago today: Put Water In Plants

Monday, March 11, 2024

Scams And Spams

I received an email from an acquaintance that contained an e-vite for a party
The body of the message told me that I should click on the invitation to see more details and RSVP. I did as directed, and ended up at a website with a blurred background image behind a box that asked me to log in with my email address. Warning alarms started to go off in my brain, and I quickly closed the page.

I asked the sender to provide more details:

Before I open the invitation you sent me can you give me a heads up as to the content? Sorry to say there have been so many scams and spams I've turned leery of things I don't know:-(

The person isn't big on email, and I wasn't surprised when I never got a response, so I Googled the name of the e-vite company. On their website I learned that legitimate messages from them would come straight from their domain name (instead of someone in my contact list) and would never contain an attachment. My instincts were right!

I forwarded the spam message to the company, marked it as phishing and deleted it, then changed my email password.

Five years ago today: There's A Day For Everything!

Saturday, March 9, 2024


Today was one of the four yearly business meetings of a fellowship I belong to.

In this fellowship, terms are three years long, and 2024 is the second year of this one. The first March meeting of each term is hybrid, with some people choosing to attend in person and some virtually. The other two March meetings are online-only.

In-person meetings are held close to the center of the state, which means for me it would be a two to three hour commute each way. I was excited to be able to skip the commute and Zoom in. However, the forecast called for brisk temperatures and that's a problem. In chilly weather my office is cold and I was going to have to sit in it for hours. I wasn't looking forward to shivering all day, so I reached out to my local Buy Nothing group to see if I could borrow a space heater for the day. Yesterday I picked this up:

When I got home I realized that the person was nice enough to label the buttons to make it easy for me to operate:

I placed the heater so the warm air blew straight towards me. That made my back warm, but my toes were still cold. After the lunch break I also wrapped a blanket around my feet, which helped.

I was so grateful for the the loan that when I returned the heater I included a little thank you chocolate shamrock:
Five years ago today: Ha-Ha

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Spring is busting out

The temperatures around here have been seesawing big time, but overall things are definitely looking more like Spring and less like Winter. Daffodils are in bloom:
Trees are sprouting new leaves:
The sedum in the living retaining wall across the street from our building is putting out new growth:
One of my neighbors added this huge cardinal statue to their tree for a pop of brightness:
The chickens at the church I work at have started producing eggs again (don't you love the colors?):
Five years ago today: Ashes On The Go

Monday, March 4, 2024

Brushing Balance

A while back I read an article that talked about how people's balance decrease as they age. The article ended with some simple exercises that would help with the issue. One of them was to stand on one leg when you brush your teeth.

That sounded goofy, but I decided to give it a try. My rechargeable electric toothbrush has a timer that vibrates very 30 seconds, so I do each quadrant of my mouth (top outside, bottom outside, top inside, and bottom inside) for 30 seconds. I figured it would be easy to lift one foot off of the ground for one segment.

I figured wrong.

A third of the way through I had to put my hand against the countertop and ended up lowering my foot so the toes touched the ground.

But I kept at it and got better. Some days are better than others, but most days I can lift it my leg into a yoga tree pose with my foot on my calf and keep it there for 30 seconds. I'm working on raising my foot up my leg even more.

It works best if I take my house shoes off, use my good posture, and suck my core in. I use the sink as a focus point and concentrate on the brushing part. If I think about my balance I lose it and have to start over.

Five years ago today: Walk With Deliberation

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Mid-Winter Break Adventure-Part 4

After spending five days at the Aulani resort on Oahu with some of our kids and grand kids Hubby Tony and I decided it would be nice to add extra days to the trip. We opted to fly into Kailua-Kona on the Big Island and spend four days exploring the cities of Kona and Hilo.

The flight from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu to Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport was only 50 minutes. There was no time for drink service, but the crew offered cups of water. When we arrived, there were two options for disembarking from the plane-a set of steps at the front and a ramp at the back. Both emptied out onto the tarmac. Passengers walked directly to the terminal, which was an exotic-looking open-air pavilion. 

After we picked up our ride for the next four days (this time a standard SUV) our first stop was for lunch and a cup of Kona coffee. Full and caffeinated, we drove towards Hilo north on Highway 19, stopping when and when we wanted to. The terrain on the west side of the island was rugged and the vegetation sparse. At the top of the island the road curved south, and the terrain became green, lush, and tropical.

Our Hilo base for two nights was built in the early 1900s. It proudly proclaimed that it offered a true Hawaiian experience (aka there weren't any resort amenities). The place was funky, and definitely wouldn't have been everyone's cup of tea, but it worked for us. It only took five minutes to walk to downtown Hilo, and over the course of our stay we hit a farmer's market and a food truck event (where we found someone selling what they called butter bomb cookies. To me they looked like gooey butter cookies, a bite-sized version of a St. Louis gooey butter cake.) I had to have some! There were several flavors available, but we chose the most Hawaiian one, ‘uala, a type of purple sweet potato.

On Saturday we drove to Hawaii’s Volcanos National Park, home to Kilauea and Mauna Loa. At the higher elevation it was a little chilly, and a light rain fell on and off. Because of Tony's ankle we passed on most of the hiking, but did drive and take short walks to three things so we could experience them

  • the caldera of the Kilauea volcano
  • some steam vents
  • the Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)

 Sunday morning we said goodbye by Hilo and headed back to the Kona side. This time we took the Saddle Road that cut across the middle of the island. Along the way we stopped at Rainbow Falls

Our last lodging was at a timeshare resort that also rented by the night. It had a complete kitchen, so we bought some food and ate breakfast there each morning. We also ordered in one night. The other night we went to a luau, where we  splurged and got fresh flower leis. The event was fun, but some mid-event rain had everyone scrambling for ponchos.

Our last day on the island was jam-packed. We drove south to Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, once the home of royal grounds and a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers and a sanctuary for noncombatants in time of war. On the way back we stopped at a coffee farm, where we were able to get a tour and see some immature beans growing on a plant.


When we got back to the condo we put on our suits and walked to the ocean. It was overcast, and the small beach was rocky, but we walked out into the water and sat down to let gentle waves wash over our bodies.

Our flight home left Kona airport at 8 am. Thanks to a two-hour layover in Las Vegas between the two legs of the flight we touched down in St. Louis (four time zones ahead of Hawaii) at 10:30 pm. A very long day to end a very good vacation.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Mid-Winter Break Adventure-Part 3

Back in 2020 Hubby Tony and I had started planning a trip to Hawaii for our 40th anniversary, but COVID put the kibash on our plans. Since then our vacations have been fun but not milestone-worthy. When we found out DIL Nicole, a first-class bargain hunter, had snagged a deal at the Disney Aulani resort on Oahu and asked us to go with their family we were all in! 


 Son Brian, Nicole, and their family had a suite big enough for five. Tony and I had a conventional hotel room several floors above and joined them for meals in their suite and most activities.

Flying to Oahu was interesting. We took Southwest, which doesn’t have assigned seats. It was a production to get seats for seven people close to each other, but some of the boarding numbers were in the A group and the rest of the family came on during the Family Boarding a dozen passengers later.

 Our group was going to be at the resort for five days. Having never been to the area before I reached out to the only person I know who lives there, Kay of Musings. She sent me a link to her post about things to do, but in the end I only left the resort twice. Once was a trip to Target with Nicole for provisions and the other was to the Dole Plantation, where we took a train ride, navigated their maze (which was certified by Guinness World Records as the World's Largest in 2008), and had some of their famous Dole Whip.

As you would imagine, the resort had a multitude of ways to get wet. We spent one morning at the beach, but the boys liked the lazy river even more. When I navigated it with energetic Grandson Jay I found out there was nothing lazy about the experience!

The Disney fingerprint was visible, but low key. Our hotel room had towels arranged like "Mickey" ears. All seven of us went to a Disney character breakfast, and every day there were characters walking around the pool area. The shave ice had the option of Mickey ears on top of the mound of snowcone-like ice.

It amazed me how fast the five days went, and soon it was time to pack up and leave. The rest of the family was headed back home but Tony and I had one more jaunt planned.

To be continued (one more time).......