Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Dried Grapes

There is a 'day' for everything! Today it was raisin's turn

Cultures have been dehydrating grapes for centuries, but National Raisin Day has been celebrated since 1909. The event was promoted by growers of California, which produces all of the raisins in the United States. 

The ironic thing is that just before I learned about Raisin Day I had gone to the pantry and grabbed a handful of them to snack on. I find that when I'm craving something sweet sometimes they will do the trick.


Five years ago today: Amazing Occasions

Monday, April 29, 2024

Not Yet Approachable

Tomorrow will be two weeks since our foster cat Pimento came to live at our house. Unfortunately, he hasn't made much progress toward integrating himself into the family.

Every morning the food bowl is empty and the litter box is full. He still spends the day burrowed under the daybed spread. His previous foster parent had told us he was on the shy side when he first arrived at her house, so Hubby Tony and I aren't completely surprised by his actions, but I am looking forward to the day when Pimento is more than just a faceless lump. 

During the last email communication with his previous foster parent she suggested we try a Feliway diffuser, which plugs into an outlet in the office and emits a feline pheromone that is supposed to be calming. The internet was full of positive reviews for the product, but Pimento must not have read the reviews because it doesn't seem to have had much effect.


Saturday, April 27, 2024

Organize And Prioritize

I try to keep things straightened around the house, but today I was tackling yet more clutter that had managed to accumulate since my last reorganization. As I sorted the stuff into piles to keep, recycle, and toss there were some I thought about keeping 'just in case' I needed them down the line.

Then I remembered some wisdom I learned from The Minimalists, who promote a lifestyle without stuff. They have what they call the 20/20 Rule-two questions to ask yourself when you are tempted to hang onto something. The first question is “Could I replace the item for less than $20?” The second is “Could I replace it in less than 20 minutes?” If the answer to the questions is “yes,” you can afford to get rid of the thing.

So out went the glass tart pans I got from a free box at a garage sale, some florist vases, handful of plastic utensils from carry out meals, a nice plastic storage bag with a zipper from a set of sheets, and stack of boxes I've been stockpiling just in case I need to mail something.

I felt good about the clean spaces in my kitchen, dining room, and office. Will that keep me from accumulating more things to take the place of the ones I got rid of? Probably not, but I can try.

Five years ago: The Joys Of Modern Air Travel (NOT)

Thursday, April 25, 2024


The last time I went to the dentist for a routine six-month cleaning she examined my teeth and gums and suggested I schedule a deep cleaning, which involved going below the gum line to remove additional plaque. The procedure is done on one half of the mouth at a time, so I scheduled two appointments-one for the right side and one for the left side. The first appointment was today. 

I didn't realize until I got there that the procedure involved local anesthesia. I guessed that's why there were two appointments; in addition to possible discomfort it wouldn't be a good thing to have both sides of my mouth numb at the same time.

After a little chit chat in the procedure room the dentist and assistant got to work--topical gel where the needle would go, then anesthesia injections in both the top and bottom inside cheek. It didn't take long for both to take effect.

The procedure started with an ultrasonic scaler, followed by a water spray, and then a manual scaler. The assistant wielded the suction tube as needed. Thanks to the numbing none of it hurt, but it was humorous. My lips were so numb that when the assistant asked me to close my mouth so she could suction out water I had to manually move my lower right lip with my hand.

On the way out of the treatment room I asked the dentist how long until things were back to normal. She said the effects of anesthesia typically lasted between two to five hours. On the way home I stopped by Starbucks to treat myself to an iced espresso drink and had trouble making my lips and tongue work to tell the barista my order.

Back at home, I realized that there was no way I could drink without dribbling coffee down the front of my shirt. I got out a straw, but could only use it on the left side of my mouth and if I used my fingers to close my lip around it.

As it got closer to dinner time with only a slight reduction in numbness I took to the internet to see if there were any methods to make the issue go away faster. I learned that I could massage my lips and cheeks, wiggle my jaw, and move my tongue so I spent the next ten minutes massaging and wiggling as fast as I could. 

I don't know if it was psychological or an actual effect of the movement, but shortly before it was time to eat I realized the numbness was almost all the way gone. That meant I was able to eat dinner normally.

I have a second appointment next week for the second side of my mouth. Now that I've been through the process once I'll be able to plan a little better.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

It's Not You, It's My Computer

For the past few days, there are a couple of blogs in my reader that all of a sudden won't let me access them. Instead, I get an error message that says something about a secure connection failure and data authenticity failure. (For what it's worth, that error message went so far over my head it could have been written in Ancient Greek.)

I normally use the Firefox browser, but I also have the problem with Safari. The suggestions I found on the internet were no help. So the moral of the story is that if I normally comment on your posts and you haven't seen me lately it's not that I don't want to. It's that I can't.

I hope like so many of the internet issues I've encountered I hope this one will go away soon.

Five years ago today: Did You Know?

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Doing My "Smell" Part

Less than a week after I signed up for a Parkinson's Disease smell test the materials were delivered via a UPS bubble envelope. Inside that envelope there was a page with directions as well as a sealed standard envelope. That envelope had everything I needed to complete the test-an identification code, four test booklets, and a sharpened pencil.

The test instructions were easy to follow. Starting with the first book I was to use the tip of the pencil to scratch the sample on each page, smell it, then fill in the circle that corresponded to one of the four scent answers. If what I thought I smelled wasn't one of the choices I was to pick the closest answer, and if I couldn't smell anything I should guess.

Each book took five minutes to get through. However, I found that by the time a book was finished my nose needed an additional five minute break. When all the books were completed I entered the answers online. After I finished entering the information the website thanked me for my time and said I could discard the test. My tiny part of the research was finished.

Five years ago today: Happy Easter 2019

Friday, April 19, 2024

Settling In

Debra at She Who Seeks left a comment asking what our foster cat's name was. I can't believe I didn't formally introduce Pimento (which is the moniker given to him by the shelter) !

It's now been three days since Pimento left his last foster home and came to ours. The first thing Hubby Tony and I did when we set the cage in the office was to open the door. Pimento spent the rest of the day hugging its far back wall. At bedtime we closed the office door. During the night we heard some noises from the room. The next morning the water and food bowls had been tipped over and the cage was empty.

There weren't too many places an adult cat could go. The room has a day bed with a trundle underneath it, and we found Pimento hiding in a six-inch gap behind the trundle. He spent the rest of Wednesday and the daylight hours on Thursday there. Each morning there was evidence that he had eaten/drank/used the litter box.

If I'm quiet maybe they won't find me

Not only did he officially set up shop behind the trundle bed, somehow he managed to move the hefty metal frame three additional inches from the wall so the hidey hole was a little bigger.

Yesterday morning Tony left for the weekend. When I went to bed last night I left the office door open. This morning Pimento wasn't in his cage or the spot behind the bed. I walked around the condo looking for him in obvious places, then not so obvious places. When I checked out the office a third time I noticed a lump on the bed. Guess what the lump was?

Found you!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

I Thought It Was Pretty Thoughtful

The other day I received an email with the subject line of Avoid Unwanted Mother’s Day Emails. It went on to say that the company understood that Mother's Day can be difficult for some people, and if I didn't want to receive any marketing messages related to the day I could opt out by clicking on a link.

I have no problem with quickly deleting messages that don't apply to me but I guess not everyone is, and a topic could be a trigger.

Five years ago today: To Put It Another Way...

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Caring For A Kitty

At the beginning of February Hubby Tony and I said goodbye to our beloved cat Jackson. We told each other that we travel too much to adopt another cat, but we both agreed it was sad not to have a feline to greet us when we got home and to snuggle up with us on the couch.

We thought about fostering at a local cat rescue organization, but didn't know if the size of our condo and our lengthy trips to visit the kids would be an issue. Tony called the organization and talked to one of the fostering people, who answered all of our questions. After pondering the topic for a few days we decided to apply to be fosters.

Twenty four hours after submitting the application I received an email offering a FaceTime call so the organization could get to know us and get a sense of our space. At the end of the call the operations manager said she had a cat in mind that would be a good fit for us-the current foster's work schedule had changed and she realized the cat wasn't getting the attention he deserved. Later that day we received some paperwork to read and sign off on.

Coordinating with the current foster took almost a week. Today Tony and I went to pick up our new temporary feline at the rescue organization office. We came home with a cat in a kennel, a box of litter, a bag of food, a cat tree given to us by his 'mom', and one of her sweat shirts that the cat liked to sit on. 

 When we got home we placed the kennel in the office and opened the door. We filled the litter box, food, and water bowls, assembled the cat tree and set it in the corner of the office, then closed the door to the room so the cat could adjust to the new surroundings in his own time. 

We've checked on him a few times, but so far he hasn't felt the need to leave the cage

Our new friend is a handsome six-year old grey and white tabby with lovely green eyes. As fosters, our job is to provide a house, nourishment, and affection, medical attention as needed, and coordinate any visits with possible adopters. Tony and I are looking forward to the challenge.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Doing My Small Part

According to the Parkinson's Foundation, nearly 90,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year in the United States. I've had friends and parents of friends succumb to Parkinson's, and know several others who are currently fighting. When I saw a Facebook ad looking for volunteers to participate in a smell test sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research it seemed like an easy way to do my part to help.

The test is officially called the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI). It tracks people with and without Parkinson's over time to learn more about the disease. Smell loss is linked to a higher risk of Parkinson's, but not everyone with smell loss will develop the disease.

It only took a few minutes to create an account, read and accept a consent form, and add some general information. Next I filled out a short screening questionnaire. When I finished, I found out the smell test would be mailed to my house. After I complete the test I will upload the information to a website. At that point I'll learn what the next step will be.

Because the test is for research they won't tell me how I did, but that's not why I'm participating. I'll just be happy if my data can help.

Five years ago today: I Wish It Could Be This Easy

Friday, April 12, 2024

A Tastebud Adventure

 A little over a year ago I wrote about the pop-up restaurants at the mall close to my house. For a couple of months the location was filled every week, but all of a sudden the location went dark. Last week I was thrilled to see that the counter's lights were back on. This pop-up operator, the Maize and Wheat Colombian Cafe, had been there last year, and the food was very good. Today Hubby Tony and went there for lunch.

The Cafe started out as a food truck, then opened a brick and mortar restaurant in a location about 20 minutes from the mall. The pop-up offered a smaller menu than the restaurant, but it looked like there was something for everyone, including empanadas (fried cornmeal dough turnovers), arepas (stuffed corn cakes), salads, and even a hamburger.

I was looking for something unique, and decided to order a Canoa de Maduro, described as a stuffed ripe yellow plantain with shredded beef, chicken (or both) topped with mozzarella cheese. Tony got plantain soup and an empanada. The associate who took our order said it would be ready in seven minutes. He was right.

My stuffed plantain mixed the sweetness of the fruit with savoriness of the beef and chicken and the smoothness of the melted cheese. Tony offered me samples of his items, and I reciprocated. The empanda was hot and the pastry wasn't greasy at all. His soup was a delicious mixture of broth with chunks of green plantain, carrots, and peas. It tasted like it had simmered for a long time, but the other dishes were freshly prepared.

Tony got a small container of salsa  to go with the empanda. I received a container of something that looked and tasted like mayo ketchup. It didn't take us long to finish everything.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Breaking Off Branches

Bush honeysuckle is a non-native invasive plant. There are several places along my regular walking routes where thickets of the weed bushes have popped up. I can ignore them except when the plant encroaches onto the sidewalk and makes it hard to get through.

I've figured out that the branches are so thin and weak that I can break them off as I walk by without even breaking stride. Most of the clumps are in common ground (not someone's yard), but even if they belonged to someone I figure that anything that's in my way is fair game. It's really satisfying to tear off the pieces so I don't have to duck under or weave around them, then throw a whole handful back into the thicket.

Five years ago today: Veggie Dog

Monday, April 8, 2024

Almost Total 2024

Last week Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) of Straight Up - No Chaser wrote about how she was not going to be participating in today's eclipse viewing. I commented, saying:

I saw the one that passed just over our area in 2017. We volunteered for a viewing event at a local retreat center, which was a lot of fun, but one totality was enough for me.

The eclipse totality was just a couple of hours south of us. In St. Louis it was 99 percent. For the past week every media outlet has had stories about the event. Over the weekend it seemed like every other post on my Buy Nothing group was a request for eclipse glasses. I ignored the stories and scrolled by the requests.

This morning Hubby Tony said he was going to buy a pair of eclipse glasses and asked if I wanted some. I work on Monday, but decided to have him get me a pair. They were only a dollar, and that way if everyone else in the parish office was going outside to see the eclipse I could be sociable and join them.

In anticipation of my Monday night meal I spent some time thinking about how I could come up with a themed dinner. I even went to the grocery store to see if I could find a good inspiration ingredient but came away empty handed. 

That turned out to be a good thing, because mid-morning I got a text from the pastor. He had decided to drive down to the totality zone and would not be there for dinner. The associate priest said he would fend for himself. Just like that I had a free day.

Tony and I talked about what that meant. The McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park (a 20-minute drive east of the house) was offering activities, so we decided to head there after our class at the gym. However, just before it was time to leave for the gym I ended up smacking my toe into the bed frame. I quickly determined it wasn't broken, but it was painful to walk.

On the drive to and from the gym and again on the way to the park we heard stories on the radio of gridlocked highways and roads on the way south to totality. One man said a normal half hour drive had taken him three hours, and we were thankful we weren't in the mess. We stopped at Comet Coffee for a cup (an appropriate store name for spending time looking at the sky, don't you think?), then drove to the park and followed the signs to the Planetarium.

There were quite a few cars already parked along the street, and I didn't want to walk far, so we modified our plans and found a spot on the grass to spread our towel. The eclipse was in its initial stage. I ate the apple I had brought (a Cosmic Crisp), then placed the eclipse glasses over my regular glasses and laid on the ground to watch the moon cover more and more of the sun. It was very peaceful. By the time the skies darkened and we saw 99 percent totality there were quite a few groups doing the same thing as us.

After the moon started to move away from the sun Tony and I decided to leave. It turned out to be not too far to the Planetarium so I limped there to use the bathroom. They were live streaming totality from different places. We watched the event from Cleveland and Niagara Falls before heading home.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Now You Can Know, Too

When I was driving to work today I passed a house that had a HAPPY UNICORN DAY banner. There were also some colorful lumps on the grass next to the sign. They didn't look like trash, so I wondered if they might be deflated inflatables.

I had no idea there was a unicorn day, but my interest was piqued. Later I did a Google search and found out it is coming up on April 9th. (There's a day for everything!) After I satisfied my curiosity about the day I started clicking through on some of the People Also Ask questions and found out these additional random facts:

  • If you call someone or something a unicorn it means it is rare and highly valued.
  • The unicorn is the national animal of Scotland.
  • A unicorn birther is a woman who reaches near complete dilation with infrequent contractions and little discomfort.

  • In the business world, a purple unicorn describes a candidate that completely meets all the requirements for a job. They are rare and almost mythical.
  • In myths the unicorn is portrayed as male. In the modern times, it is depicted as a female. The gender fluidity makes it a symbol of the LGBT community.
  • In the dating world a unicorn is an individual who joins a couple as their third partner.
  • In the Renaissance a unicorn was a symbol of virginity and purity.
  • Unicorn milk refers to something that doesn't actually exist.
Do you know of any more?
Five years ago: The Fix

Friday, April 5, 2024

Baseball And Carpets

Yesterday was an unofficial holiday in the St. Louis area...the home opener for the Cardinals baseball team.

Hubby Tony and I went our separate ways in the morning, but after lunch we walked to the grocery store together to get items for a dinner that would be easy to eat in front of the television. We left with deli chicken sandwich meat, baked beans, potato salad, and raw sliced peppers with onions-all from the discounted food section. The only preparation was to stir fry the vegetables, which I did before sitting down to watch the pregame festivities.

There are a whole slew of events that take place before the first pitch is thrown. It starts with a wagon pulled by a team of Budweiser Clydesdales circling the warning track. They introduce the team owners and management, which is followed by motorcades of the Cardinals Hall of Famers (riding in Mustang convertibles) and current players (each in the bed of a Ford pickup truck). Then comes the National Anthem, and finally a ceremonial first pitch.

The first part of the game wasn't the most exciting, but then the team got five runs in the seventh inning and won 8-5. Since they scored more than six runs Tony and I could take advantage of a drink promotion today at Mobil on the Run, a local gas station chain. 

This morning we had an appointment to have our carpets and living room loveseats cleaned. The technician finished up about 1:30 and Tony and I left just a couple of minutes after that. The closest Mobil on the Run is too far to get to on foot, so we drove a third of the way there, parked the car, and walked the rest of the way. After filling our cups we reversed our course and got back home about 90 minutes after we left.

Every time we've had the carpets cleaned it takes hours for them to dry, and this time seems to be no different. Tony and I walked around the condo with our feet encased in plastic shoe covers supplied by the cleaning company. Because the floor was too wet to replace the dining room chairs at the table we ate dinner outside on the deck. The upholstery in the living room was damp so after cleaning up dinner we sat on the day bed in the office. 

I hope that by tomorrow morning things will be dry enough to start move things back where they belong.

Five years ago: Get Pumping

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

It's That Time Of The Year...

When Mother Nature can't figure out if it should be Winter or Spring. 

Last weekend it was warm enough to open up the windows and wear short sleeved shirts with capri pants. My finicky feet like to have good arch support at all times, so around the house I wore house sandals-sometimes with athletic ankle socks and sometimes without. 

Monday night a cold front came through, causing the temperatures to drop all day yesterday. I started the morning with Spring clothes, but by dinner time I had swapped out the short sleeves for long and the jacket for a winter coat. By bedtime I had dug out my winter house shoes, a pair of shearling lined clogs.

This morning I dressed for cold weather in jeans, a sweat shirt, and wool socks with the clogs. But by the end of the week it will be back to Spring again. That's why for now both pairs of house shoes will have a predominant place in the closet, right next to each other, so I can decide each day which to use.

Five years ago today: Walk On