Spring in the Lou!

cucumbersIt’s Spring in St. Lou and though there is a slight chill to the air, the temperature is climbing and flowers are just starting to bloom. And you know what that means?

It means my blog posts for the next four months will probably be devoted to pics of flowers or vegetables from our yard and garden.

We’ve spent the last two weekends cleaning out the dead leaves and brush from the flower beds. We pile it into the vegetable garden and burn it. The ashes add nutrients to the soil.

Last year I had saved seeds from our last cucumber so we planted those last Sunday in a potting tray. The photo to the right is how they looked yesterday…just one week later! And that’s just from sitting on the kitchen counter in the sunshine. No grow light. No fertilizer. Just water, soil, and sun.

Two days ago we saw our first bloom of the year!  Just some tiny daffodils but they are a welcome sign of sprint and a nice pop of color in the yard that’s been covered buttercupin a blanket of brown or white for the past few months.

I planted lots of new bulbs last Fall so I’m excited to see those already coming up. Unfortunately, the rabbits are excited too and have already taken advantage of the fresh salad bar in our yard. Some of the new shoots have already been nibbled back to the ground! I made a trip to one of our local nurseries yesterday to buy more daffodils to plant around them as a deterrent. Daffodils are toxic to rabbits so they won’t eat them. I also put out some rodent repellent hoping that might keep the rabbits away too and give the new plants a fighting chance to grow and bloom.

This year we are making plans to add a bean house to the garden, extending the garden another four feet. A bean house is a trellis made from PVC pipe and wire.  We’ll plant green beans and cucumbers to grow over it. This keeps the vegetables off the ground and away from rabbits and also makes them easier to pick.

Besides planting the garden and a few potted flowers along the pathway, we are hoping to keep the outdoor projects to a minimum this year. We’ll see how that goes once summer arrives!

The Pages Hold My Secrets

Shannon Yarbrough:

I couldn’t have said it better. Words from a writer friend for your Friday.

Originally posted on It all started with Heathcliff:

To write fiction is to live in another realm wherein the author’s fantasies, wishes, dreams, daydreams, voices in the mind all roam free – experiencing adventure, romance, triumphant endings, and tis’ a win for the author as much as the reader once the words reach them. 

I know this, because it is my story – my books drip with the essence of my soul, my heart, my mind.

The pages hold my secrets … and my tears.

Where they are hidden, I will not tell (at least not now), but know I am in all of the pages. Every character in some way bears the visage of me or someone in my life or someone I want to know – someone I imagine as a part of my world.

Without time to write, I am not complete because I cannot live well without my dreams.

This is the crux…

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I’m tired of coffee.

I’ve decided to give up coffee.coffee

There. I said it.

No reason for alarm really. No health issues (that I know of). And no, I’m not crazy.

On Saturday, I poured a cup and it just tasted gross to me. I couldn’t finish it, and I decided to stop drinking it.

I’ve always liked coffee.  It’s been a morning ritual for me.  My second book is even about a coffee barista, a job I held once. So, I know a lot about coffee though I don’t consider myself a fine connoisseur of it or anything. I’m a three cup-a-day Maxwell House or Folgers type of guy. I rarely order coffee out or pick it up at a gas station. I don’t like Starbucks. I don’t hang out in coffee shops.

In fact, by the time I add creamer (powder or liquid, regular or flavored, I like both) and sweetener, it’s not really coffee anymore, just some fancy tasting cocoa or hot chocolate I suppose.

Have you ever liked a food and suddenly you found you didn’t like it anymore?  Maybe it reminded you of something. Maybe it gave you food poisoning once. Or maybe you’ve just had enough.

I have.

That’s how I feel about scrambled eggs.  I loved them once, but not anymore. I’ll still eat them, but I can do without so I don’t usually fix them for myself or order them.

Strange? Yeah, but there’s actually a serious psychology behind this behavior called food or taste aversion. It pretty much applies to your brain turning you off to foods that have made you sick before, but it goes much deeper than that.

So if I had to think about it and figure out why I drink coffee anyway, I’d say it’s for comfort. It’s a morning habit, part of the daily ritual.  It’s also comforting.  Yeah, I suppose it helps wake you up but I don’t really like strong coffee. It’s also a good laxative if anything.

So, what’s going to replace coffee for me then? A couple of things actually…

I read something a while back about how you should drink a cup or two of water each morning as soon as you wake up, even before you have coffee. It said you should drink it in large gulps and as quickly as possible. The article actually said you should try to work up to about 4 cups.

The reason for this is because you are sluggish in the morning usually due to dehydration. Most people think they are sleepy and so they go right for the coffee, but your body is actually dehydrated. There’s lots of other good healthy reasons that I won’t go into, but you can read all about the benefits of morning water drinking here.

I’ve done this off and on for a while now, and yes, I’ve done it every morning since putting down the coffee.  And guess what? It does work. I feel more awake and not so sluggish, and I’d say I almost feel even better than I did when I was drinking coffee.

But who wants to just drink water in the morning, right?

Last week I read a blog post from a woman who replaced her morning coffee with a warm cup of water, lemon, and honey. She did this for a year and claimed that she never got sick. And she lives in a household with two small school children. They always caught some cold or flu bug, but she never got it.  She also claimed it helped prevent constipation and gas, and listed some other benefits from the lemon/honey mixture including weight loss. So, I researched this option a bit and found it to be true! You can read more for yourself here.

So, yep, I bought 5 lemons this weekend and I’ve already had my first cup of lemon/honey water yesterday morning and  drank four cups of water and I felt fine. I think this might work so I did it again today and plan to keep it up.  I don’t have a craving for coffee. I feel awake and ready to go.

When I was your age…

935758_10151606473979674_1581728177_nToday I want to rant about this photo that occasionally makes the rounds on Facebook. While I get the idea behind it, it also pisses me off every time I see it.  Yesterday I saw it being shared by someone who has a three year old!  Now, first I think… Wow!  If you have an eight year old on Facebook and Twitter , you are violating Facebook terms which state:

Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher). Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.

Twitter’s age requirements are a bit hazy and they don’t ask for your age when you set up an account, but their basic terms do state you must also be 13 years of age.

I know the photo is meant to be funny and sarcastic even, but if your eight year old is on Facebook and Twitter, not only are you in violation of their terms, but it’s also your own fault for allowing your child to sign up.  If your 8 year old has a phone or iPad, it’s also your fault because you are the one that allowed them to have it and you bought it for them.

And it’s really sad to think that your child lacks imagination. Again, I blame the parent. Instead of the phone or iPad, you could have bought them the coloring book and crayons that you had as a child. Chances are you have a phone and/or iPad too, and kids love to mimic their parents or grow up to be like their parents. When was the last time you sat down and colored a picture on a piece of paper with crayons with your child as opposed to playing a game with them on the tablet or computer?

These days, 8 year olds don’t really have these things unless the parents allowed them to have it. These things are not privileges just bestowed upon your children because of the day and age they live in. They didn’t pop out of the womb while texting. True, they would be anomalies of your own childhood but you can thank a growing age of technology and advancements in society for such things that you have today to entertain you and your children.

Would you trade them all to be able to go back in time with your child and give them the childhood you had?  Probably not.  Would you give up Facebook and take up a pen and paper to write letters and send birthday cards via the U.S. Postal Service to keep in touch with your family and friends?  No. Would you pick up that black rotary dial phone hanging on the wall to call someone and tell (tweet) them something. Nope.  Would you settle for playing Oregon Trail on a floppy disk on a green screen Mac?  Maybe…it was pretty fun.

But my point is this picture makes it sound like your 8 year olds are privileged to have these things, and guess what?  They are.  But you were privileged too as a child to live in a free society such as ours that allows us to have such wonderful things. Sure, the things you had as a child were different than what your children have today, but imagination is still the same. Your child today might imagine something different than you did way back when, but it still works the same. So to think your child doesn’t have that one simple thing that hasn’t changed makes you an idiot in my eyes. And if your child is using Facebook over imagination, again, that’s your fault.

So both of you should put down the iPad, wipe the saliva off your chin and go outside and play. There is a world of imagination waiting out there. And afterwards, instead of plugging yourself back into the world wide web, go buy a deluxe box of 72 Crayola crayons and make art together. Facebook can wait. It’ll be there when you get back. Go share a memory instead of a meme.

Missouri History Lesson 101 – Kaskaskia, Illinois

20150118_123352_resizedWhat happens when you go down south on I-55 a bit in search of the town of St. Mary and it’s huge Antique Mall?  Well, if you leave St. Mary and head east with intentions to follow the river back north a bit to the town of Ste. Genevieve like we did today, you’ll come to a bridge that crosses a creek and takes you across the Illinois state line. Confused?  Yeah, we were too.  Where was the river?  We thought you had to cross the Mississippi River to get into Illinois.  Well, not here you don’t.

It turns out that when the river flooded in 1881, the channel shifted east of Kaskaskia, Illinois, cutting off the town from the state.  Kaskaskia was even an island at one time until the river continued flowing in its new channel and deposited earth into the old channel which caused the town to become connected to the west bank. Kaskaskia has a Missouri zip code but an Illinois area code, and today it is the hometown of only 14 residents thanks to the flood of 1993 which put the town under nine feet of water. Kaskaskia is the second smallest town only to Valley City which has 13 residents.

So what is Kaskaskia known for?  Well, it was the first state capital back in the early 1800s.  And in the 1700s before that it was a major French colonial river regional center that provided lots of crops and supplies down the river to New Orleans. It’s also the place of the state’s first execution – a slave was burned at the stake for witchcraft! In 1741, King Louis XV sent a bell to Kaskaskia for its church.  And guess what?  This bell is still there!  It’s older than the Liberty Bell and hangs in a small museum there. The museum was closed today but we got to see the bell through the window, called The Liberty Bell of the West.

Leave it to me to find something even more interesting there though – this old pecan tree and the polite sign that let’s you know not to pick the pecans because the church uses them!

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

cabinetDo you have one of these?  A pantry that you love because it’s so big and there’s so much space?  Or maybe you installed it yourself because your kitchen needed more storage space?  Yeah, one of those.

Our kitchen is small and has a built-in pantry in the wall  in the space that goes back over the basement stairs. It’s not very big, but its deep. It reminds me of one of those mortuary drawers for dead bodies you see on CSI.  I wish it pulled out like that because you have to practically climb inside to reach the back.

And we got tired of doing just that, so we bought a tall freestanding pantry to put on the free wall in the kitchen. Oh wait, we actually bought two of these and backed them up side-by-side. Yay! Double the pantry space now. That’s awesome, right?

Nope.  It sucks.

Instead of climbing into a deep cave, we now have to have a small step stool just to reach the top shelf. And there are only 4 shelves in each pantry, including the bottom, so yeah, things are stacked three and four high. It’s impossible to keep clean because I live with a pack rat. Speaking of, last night he couldn’t find Ranch dressing in the fridge for his pizza, so I told him to check the pantry because I thought I had recently bought a new bottle.

Well, telling him to go look in the pantry is like telling a kid to take out the trash or clean his room when his favorite TV show is on. It ain’t gonna happen!  And I’m the same way. I don’t want to tackle the pantry to look for something he needs when there’s pizza to be eaten.  So he did without. And this morning when I went to make the coffee, guess where I found the Ranch?  Take a look in the picture for yourself.

Yeah, we’ve added those nice little wire drawers meant for canned goods – a sad attempt to be organized when you just end up piling shit in front of them and have to unload about a dozen or so things just to reach a can of soup!

I frequently think it would be a neat challenge just to consume everything in the pantry – not all at once of course – but to go without buying anything else that would end up in the pantry until we’ve emptied out some of what we have. Even before writing this, I wanted a cup of hot tea and found a half-empty bag of black licorice in the recesses of pantry hell. Any other time I would have overlooked it, but I just yanked that bag out and threw that shit away.  Man, that felt good!  What else can I throw away????

And speaking of tea, we have enough to change the color of the Boston Harbor again. If I drank nothing but tea, I still couldn’t consume all that we have in a year!  And believe me, we drink a lot of tea.   And you guessed it, what happens when you can’t find what you are looking for? You assume you don’t have any and you buy more. Every time we make chili, I buy a new bag of Fritos and I’m sure there’s at least one unopened bag lurking somewhere in the bottom of the pantry. If not, there’s at least four or five half eaten bags that we could combine into one.

I’ve pulled unopened stuff out of the cabinet before that had an expiration date of two years ago!  Yeah, it’s that bad and it sucks and I hate it. I hate it even more when I buy groceries and spend an hour putting things away because I’ve got to put together a magical Jenga stack of items just to get everything into the cabinet.  Twice now we’ve been abruptly awakened in the night to a shelf crashing down in this monster bitch.  But nothing ever breaks!  And we never learn. We continue to restack that Jenga game of canned goods and macaroni boxes and cereal we never eat just to play again.

This has got to change!

It feels good to vent about it, but excuse me now, because I made a meatloaf for dinner and you have to have macaroni with meatloaf, right?  So I’ve got to go face the beast.  Maybe we’ll have a canned veggie too.  Ha!  Counting the licorice, and the macaroni box, and a can of peas, that’s 3 things I took out of the pantry today!  This could be fun…

Tea,anyone?

2014 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

365 of Me: 365/1 The End of a Year in Pictures

Well here we are… It was my 2014 resolution to post a picture a day here on my blog, and while I wasn’t faithful to it every single day, I did backtrack and keep up and today I can proudly say I’ve reached the end of a year in pictures.

Posting a picture a day wasn’t as tough as it was to find things to take pictures of. If you follow my blog, you might have grown bored by the numerous pics of flowers, plants, and vegetables I posted during the spring and summer. But those were the things that are/were part of my life and that I found important and photo-worthy. If you don’t believe me, then you try taking a new and different photo a day starting tomorrow.

I’ve been asked what I’ll be blogging about next year. I don’t know yet, but I do know I won’t be posting every day. So only time will tell.

And I hate to end on a somber note but I’m posting two pics today. The first is the picture of my grandparents from their gravestone that I took the day of the funeral.

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And the second is the sunset I saw as I was driving back to St. Louis on Monday afternoon.  Life is precious, and no one knows how many sunsets we’ll see. So when you have time to stop and admire it, just remember it could be your last. And because of that, you should admire every sunset as if it were.   See you next year!

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365 of Me: 364/2

Sunday night after the funeral we gathered at my aunt’s house to eat and visit. It’s the first time that much of my family has been together since the mid-eighties so it was really special despite the circumstances. I snapped these photos of my grandparents from photos hanging on my aunt’s wall.

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I never met my mom’s father. He died of a heart attack in 1965 when his youngest child, his only son, was just 5 years old. I love this photo of him. He looks like an old western movie star.

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