Mom’s Missouri: Volume II

If you read my last post you know about my mom’s Missouri photo project. I had contacted the Historical Society of Missouri to see if they were interested in the project materials, negatives and location finder. They were! So I packaged it all up and now it has arrived in Columbia, Missouri to be cataloged and placed online. They said a specific link to her collection may take a while because they had lost a lot of staff in the past year. At least they have it; it’s clean and dry and somebody may actually benefit from it.

Here are some pics from More Missouri 1980s: Volume II. I sepia-toned this book for some reason. I must have had a lot of extra time on my hands because sepia toning is a real pain of a process. For one thing, it stinks like sulphur. Stains your hands so you have to wear gloves. But for some reason, I did it. I also have a black and white copy of this volume.

The only real thing I can see with what is different is that we used a little more descriptive text as to the locations. We made the titles on the back of the prints, instead of facing pages so in case the books came apart, the description and location is on the same piece of paper as the image.

I bring you More Missouri 1980s: Volume II.

The ironic thing is that a high school friend called me after my first post on this project and said he was involved in restoring old historic homes in Missouri and did I know the locations of the pictures. I told him that the Missouri Historical Society has all the info. He even asked about the negatives; they have those too.

Mom’s Missouri

My parents traveled extensively. They used to have a big map in our basement with the countries they had been to colored in. I remember looking at it and thinking “the only place they haven’t been is Greenland!” They have been to places you can’t go to now; Iran, Iraq, Uganda, Afghanistan, China, India…

They were both skilled amateur photographers and we always enjoyed the slide shows on their return. Or I did, anyway. Mom and Dad would invite some people over for cocktails and dinner and we’d look at slides and movies afterward. My dad shot 8 mm movies at that time and the photo viewing sessions could get long. I remember turning the lights back on one evening and one of the guests was literally snoring on the sofa. We laughed about that.

In 1961 my dad was transferred to Missouri from Massachusetts by his career-long employer, Monsanto. They and their families were lifelong New Englanders but if Monsanto says Go, you go. A bunch of their friends were transferred at the same time so they still had a social circle.

Once we ended up in St. Louis, my parents never looked back. They embraced their new state and enjoyed the differences from New England. After the kids had all flown the coop, they started making trips around Missouri. They loved being together, stopping on a whim and ending up at a motel at night.

In 1981 I was a newly divorced college graduate living in Columbia, Missouri. My Bachelor of Fine Art degree was in photography and graphic design. I had bought my own house (with my student loan money for the down payment) and had a full darkroom in the house where I spent many hours making black and white and color prints. My cat Skaggs would sit on the stool with me in there for hours; I called her my assistant.

I was doing some event photography, weddings, parties and meetings but during college and for a while afterward my main source of income was cleaning houses. I was an independent contractor and it worked out well. My transportation was my bicycle for many years and I worked all around town. My farthest house was 14 miles away and I would ride there and back after cleaning. It was a great way to make money and I just bid the job, not a certain number of hours. Then I worked FAST.

After I graduated my mom was looking for a new photo project. We talked about what she might do and she and dad decided to take a bunch of trips around Missouri and document the countryside as they saw it at the time. She was trying to decide whether to shoot color or black and white film and I suggested black and white because of the archival qualities compared to color at the time. Naturally, I suggested that I might develop the film and make the prints and put the books together. We set out a price schedule and I strongly suspect that part of the reason she cooked this project up was to help supplement my income. I was happy to be involved.

So we all embarked on an extensive and detailed three year project where Mom shot the film, Dad schlepped the bags and cameras and I developed the film and made the prints. We produced two volumes with about 50 prints in each book. She faithfully documented where she took every shot in two steno notebooks. Mom was nothing if not meticulous. We made multiple copies of both books so my brother and sisters could have their own copy. It was like a manufacturing process.

Many years passed. When my dad died in 1991, Mom determined that I would be the curator of all her photography, including this project. My brother died in 1993 and his copies of the books came back to Mom. I kept my copies all through several moves and lifestyle changes.

When Mom had to move out of her house, I ended up with all the remaining copies of the books, the location notebooks and all the negatives she shot for both books. It wasn’t a huge amount of stuff and I always figured I would do something with it; I just didn’t know what.

Mom died in 2012. Before that, she was in assisted living in Kansas City near us and I could easily ride my bike to visit her. I never told her this, but sometimes the bike ride was the best part of the visit. We had already bought our bus and Jim was working on it full time after his retirement from SAS Consulting Services. Now we knew we could hit the road without worrying about Mom having no company. That was a huge relief.

Then in 2014 we sold our house and most of our stuff in preparation for the full-time bus lifestyle. When we were clearing out our 2700 square foot house, we set aside the things we wanted to keep and bought an enclosed 4 x 8 foot trailer to store until we ended up someplace else. We stored the trailer in a barn in Missouri and when we bought our house in Texas, a friend towed it to Texas for us. Mom’s Missouri project was included in the trailer. I figured I would do something with it once we got settled.

More years passed, almost three to be exact.

Finally, last week, I sent an email to the Missouri State Historical Society asking if they would be interested in the books, negatives and notebooks. They answered back right away and I boxed everything up, except my personal copies of the books, and shipped it all off! So now Mom’s work can live on in research and historical studies. I always thought it would be interesting to go back to some of the locations and see what they looked like now, but that’s an undertaking for someone else.

I must say the books and negatives all held up very well with no chemical stains on the prints and the negatives clean and dry. Packing them up and sending them off is like the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. Seeing Mom’s notes and handwriting made me tear up a little but I hope she somehow knows that the project is in good hands and will live on in history.

Pictures from Volume I, Missouri 1980s: The Way It Was.


One humorous memory… I was working on this project when Mom and Dad were traveling out of the country and I entered this photo of Mom’s in a local photo contest. She won Second Place. I also entered one of my photos and got an Honorable Mention. I never heard the end of that. Thanks for the memories, Mom.

Photos from More Missouri 1980s: Volume II: soon.

Wild Week in Texas!

We knew it was going to start getting cold, really cold for the Rio Grande Valley where we have only seen temperatures below freezing once and then for just a few hours. This time it was expected to get below freezing for several nights. Urk! We spent a whole day trying to cover things in the garden the best we could.

Then we waited.

We had a nice Valentine Dinner at home, steak Diane and salad. With heart shaped treats from a friend.

On Sunday night after dinner it got very cold and we lost power. And water. We thought it was just a rolling blackout but our section of the park was without power for days! It was cold in the house, even colder than outside. We figured we would just stick it out but after a couple of days it was impossible to keep warm. Even the cats were freezing. Two pairs of f socks, two pairs of pants, three shirts, hat and gloves, in the house. And a cat on the lap… It wasn’t working.

A friend helped us run a very long extension cord to a house with power so we could at least plug in the refrigerator. We also have food in another friend’s freezer but that part of the park never lost power. Whew!

We decided to go get the bus and got the OK to move to a spot with electric and water. The power was out to all traffic lights and there were mile long lines at all the gas stations. We had filled up the car previously and the bus was full of diesel. A boil water order was in effect but the bus tank was full and we just used it. There was no propane to be had. The grocery stores had no meat, dairy, water or eggs. Thankfully, we were way stocked up for the pandemic and didn’t need to go near the store.

We brought some food and the cats over to the bus and waited it out. It was nice to be warm again and once the cats realized where they were, they were fine. Carmella even went on walks on her leash.

In the garden. Before…

And after…

I knew the castor beans would be toast but we had decided to cut them down before we started traveling this summer so they wouldn’t get taken out in a storm like last time. They were only five months old so the stalks weren’t too big. When they got blown down in the hurricane they were two years old and had trunks about eight inches in diameter. Jim had to dig out the stumps. When we got done with that backbreaking task, he said “Maybe we shouldn’t let them get so big next time.”

I had trimmed out a bunch of the cannas and they grow from a bulb anyway so I figured they would be OK. They are already starting to grow back. So are the elephant ears. We got the castor beans cut down yesterday and used some of them as edging. Not sure whether the Norfolk pines will be alright or the rubber trees. I left the crotons standing too; maybe they will grow from the stems but not real hopeful about that. Even though we covered them well, two plants I was babysitting for friends who aren’t here got bit. It just got too cold. They were plants from her parents’ funerals and very sentimental. We couldnt even bring them in the house, it was freezing in there too. I will try my best to get them growing back but feel badly that we just couldn’t save them.

The irony is that temperatures are back in the eighties now, heading toward ninety this week.

In better news, we are more than two weeks out from our second vaccine shot and arranged our first impromptu dinner party in almost a year! Dr. Fauci said you could get together with others who had their shots and we enjoyed several bottles of wine and much laughter. We all got carry-out from the venue here in the park so no cooking involved.
That felt great!

The bus is back in storage. What a good bus! After sitting for over a year with the occasional startup, it fired right up and kept us warm. Jim even discovered a few things that needed to be fixed so maybe a blessing in disguise. We have power and water (no boil order) at the house.

Texas was apparently four and a half minutes from the whole electrical grid shutting down entirely until they started the rolling blackouts. Texas decided to build their own grid and remove themselves from the national grid to avoid federal regulation so no extra power was available during the freeze. If that breakdown had happened it would have taken MONTHS to restore. And they were warned by the federal government TEN YEARS AGO that they needed to insulate and improve the whole system. Maybe they will pay attention now. Maybe not. Ted Cruz decided to jet to Cancun and Rick Perry said Texans would rather be without power for a few days than be subject to regulation. The Governor blamed it on the Green New Deal. If regulation keeps the heat and lights on, I am all for it.

So, this year we have experienced a flood, a hurricane, a pandemic, isolation, and a deep freeze. Several friends here have had health problems, falls, stroke or broken bones. Our hearts and our food go out to them.

We remain grateful. We are BIG BIG lucky. Life is good!

Pandemic Place Settings

Since the pandemic began, we have asked each other everyday… What should we have for dinner tonight? Of course it’s just the two of us but still fun to make it special and nice. And delicious! Anyway, we have to eat and I got all the stuff.

I joined a Fiestaware group on Facebook. Now I am going to have to get some new pieces.

It’s like having a new art project every day. When we moved to Kansas from Washington DC Jim brought me the animal candlesticks when he went back on business from a little store called Kindred Spirits. I got eight before they weren’t available anymore. I love them. The painted table runners are so candle wax can’t drip on the tablecloth. Now I use dripless candles. And the place card holders were my Aunt Muriel’s. A friend told me what they were and ever since then we have had themed place cards. When I found them while cleaning out their house I thought they were cake decorations or something. The Wedgewood china was inherited from my aunt Barbara and the Fiestaware we bought from our friend Ronnie a couple years ago when we could still travel.

And some food…

What are we having for dinner tonight? Holiday hamburgers on ciabatta buns with with tomato, avocado and mozzarella cheese.

Another Year of Gratitude

Once 2020 turned into a year of staying in place, we decided to continue our tradition of jotting down thankful thoughts and putting them in a jar to open on New Year’s Day. We knew 2020 was going to be different by early February but wanted to remember to be grateful. We have done this before, several times and try to do a note a week. This year we had 45, so not bad for a pandemic. 

A sampling of gratitude, in no particular order.

We’ve already started on this year’s jar. Hopefully we be grateful to get out and about more.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

NOTE: I started this post at the beginning of January, just never finished it. Updates in parentheses and italics where things have changed.

We made it! 2020 is over. However, it seems that people now think everything has changed and all is right with the world. Not exactly; we still have a lot of work to do.

The Coronavirus is multiplying faster than ever. Almost 300,000 new infections A DAY in the United States! Maximum number of deaths every day; more than 9/11 every day!. So obviously we’re not done yet. We got ourselves on the list to be vaccinated but no call so far, in fact, I just got an email that their supplies were depleted and wouldn’t be replenished for a while. A few people in the park have been vaccinated already and more are signed up. The rollout of the vaccine is slow, just like the (former) administration’s response to the virus itself was. Maybe the new administration can speed things up.

(Update: Jim spent two hours on hold and one hour registering us and we got the first shot the next day, on January 15, a huge relief! Second shot scheduled for February 5. As of January 23, over 410,000 people have died in less than a year. What a tragedy.)

And the virus is now officially in our park. A woman and her husband have both tested positive. He is in the hospital. So has another person and several have had contact with her. And as another friend here said, if there’s one case there are likely more. And the newer, highly contagious version of the virus is here in the USA too. Continue to be vigilant!

(Update: Now there are five people who are known to have the virus here. The gentleman who was in the hospital is now in the ICU. And one other person was in hospital for a few days. They are still having events in the park but we are staying home and staying safe.)

And just six days into 2021, the President of the United States openly encouraged violence and insurrection over the counting of the Electoral College votes. He got it too. A mob of mostly white men broke into the Capitol during the sessions and vandalized the seat of our democracy. Six people ended up dead, including two Capitol Police officers. After watching the Black Lives Matter protests after the killings of several unarmed black men, I was shocked at the hands-off tactics employed at the Capitol. Officers held doors for the protesters to enter, took selfies with them and shook hands with the protesters. A video taken by the President’s son showed the Trump family dancing and applauding the rioters as they prepared to breach the Capitol, saying “Fight!” Good Lord.

It was a very different scene from the tear gassing and rubber bullets employed at protests last year, including the one where President Trump had Lafayette Square cleared with tear gas so he could set up a photo opportunity with a Bible. During that incident a man lost his eye after being shot in the face with a rubber bullet.

Actions and words have consequences. On both sides.

(Update: The now former President has been impeached for inciting a riot. Just two weeks after the riot, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in after the National Guard was deployed and twelve Guardsmen removed from the Capitol duty due to extremist views. We were worried that something might happen at the Inauguration but thankfully everything went smoothly. Except it looked like Dr. Jill Biden’s feet were killing her! And up and down all those steps!)

This isn’t a political blog and it won’t turn into one. It’s just for documenting our travels and experiences so we can keep track of them ourselves. And since we didn’t travel last year and probably won’t this year, internationally anyway, this is what we’ve got.

We will continue to hunker down and ride things out. The day after the riot I went to the store and seriously stocked up. We feel very fortunate that we have each other to share these strange times with. Let’s all keep the faith that 2021 will get better.

So Long 2020. Welcome 2021.

2020 is finally coming to an end. Even though in some ways it seems like a very long year, in others it was like time was flying by. I have been keeping a “pandemic calendar” since March when things started heating up. A friend gave it to me and on the outside it says “2020, A Year to Remember.” I’ll say. 

Even though the year is almost over, the reason it was such a bitch isn’t. In fact, just today I saw that they have a new variation of the virus in England and Scotland that is 70% more transmissible than what we have been dealing with. Combined with pandemic fatigue and people who don’t even believe in it, things should get interesting fast.

My cousin’s son is in Scotland on lockdown. He has been traveling through Europe for the past year and is allowed into other countries precisely because he hasn’t been in the USA. In fact, when he got to Scotland and required to quarantine, the Scottish Border Control called him and asked if he needed groceries or medications.  They had somebody deliver them to him so he wouldn’t have to break quarantine. He said it was refreshing to be in a country that was taking the virus seriously. Meanwhile, Trump has been promoting herd immunity and slowing down the vaccine delivery to states that are run by Democrats. January 20 can’t come soon enough. 

An author friend of mine in Virginia and his wife both caught the virus and he has been describing his symptoms on Facebook. It sounds full-body miserable. Another friend related that his older brother had it, then reported as he went into in critical condition and was put on a ventilator. Then he had a stroke and died. Yikes! 

We are planning a quiet Christmas with just the two of us, of course. On the menu? Smoked brisket, scalloped potatoes, Chef John’s green beans with lemon and pecans (they were really good on Thanksgiving) with my mom’s cheesecake for dessert. And Tequila Bloody Marys. We will count our blessings and be thankful for all we have and can do. My heart goes out to those who are suffering, have lost their jobs, their homes and loved ones. Can you imagine being quarantined with someone you don’t like very much? I bet a lot of people find themselves in that situation. 

We had a phone meeting with our financial advisor and she reported that we are doing fine. Even though we missed out on two international trips this year, hopefully we can travel next year. At the very least, we’re going out in the bus. We have a neon sign we bought from a friend in Denver that we need to pick up. When he tried to ship it they wouldn’t touch it because they said it would break. We hope to see our friends Marni and Eric in mid-Missouri. Last fall, Eric had a terrible accident and basically blinded himself in one eye. He has had several surgeries and his vision is expanding but still blurry. Our good friend Judy lost her husband Warren this year and several friends here have also passed away. 

We know we are blessed and BIG BIG lucky!
header 03-02-15.

We sincerely wish you all a very warm and  holiday season and the very best of 2021. 

The Turkey’s in the Brine!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, has been for a very long time. No presents, no gifts to buy, just good food and good company. Of course this year the good company part is suspended thanks to COVID-19, cases of which are rising daily. Over 220,000 new cases a day!

We are foregoing our normal large gathering and it will be just the two of us this year for dinner. Last year we had ten people and it was a rocking good time, a Friends Thanksgiving. Hope we can do that again next year. 

From last year’s feast…

Part of the Thanksgiving tradition is Bill Bridge’s Tequila Bloody Mary recipe. Perfect for sipping on all day long while cooking and preparing. Click here for the recipe. I have a big batch mixed up for my taste testers to try before the big day.

This year I changed up the turkey brine recipe. Here’s the update. I normally brine for 48 hours but this year I am going for 72 hours. It IS 2020, after all…

2020 Turkey Brine Recipe (15.5 pound fresh turkey)
Add to a cooking pot:
1 1/2 heads garlic, peeled and cloves crushed
2 cups Kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups Orange Juice (not from concentrate)
2 cinnamon sticks
3 T. Thyme
3 T. Tarragon (I ran out of Rosemary)
6 Bay leaves, crushed
Zest, pulp and flesh of two navel oranges
15 Allspice, crushed
15 Cloves, crushed
2 T. Peppercorns, crushed
1/2 gallon Apple Cider

Stir well and bring to a boil.

Add 1/2 gallon apple cider and 2 gallons water to a clean 5 gallon bucket. Add the boiled stovetop mixture and mix well. Remove all the organs from the turkey, rinse and immerse in the bucket. Put the lid on and store in a cool place. We used to put the bucket in the garage in Kansas but it’s too warm here to leave out so we make room in the refrigerator, which is packed!

When ready to cook on Thursday, fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes. Rinse the turkey well in the cold water for about ten minutes to remove any excess salty flavor and pat dry. We don’t stuff a brined turkey, but add cut up lemons and oranges to the cavity. You could also add a cut up onion.

When it’s time to roast the turkey, melt a half stick of butter in a skillet. Add 10 cloves garlic, either cloves left whole or minced garlic. Add 1 T. Thyme, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Pro tip: Before placing the turkey in the roasting pan, make a 5 inch wide “sling” of aluminum foil, folded over several times. Place the sling under the turkey in the middle with plenty of room on both ends to easily lift the turkey from the pan when done. I learned this from my dad.

Pour the butter and garlic over the turkey and sprinkle the bird with pepper and Hungarian paprika. Place in a 450 degree oven, uncovered, and roast 20 to thirty minutes until golden brown. This method guarantees a well browned turkey without having to turn up the oven and try to brown at the end.

Lower the temperature to 325 degrees. Either use a loose tent of foil over the turkey or replace the top of the roasting pan, slightly askew. Baste every 20 minutes or so with drippings from the pan. A sixteen pound turkey will be done in about 3-1/2 hours. When the internal temperature reaches about 175-180 degrees and the juices run clear, remove from the oven and let rest for at least twenty minutes while making the gravy.

The brine makes the gravy fabulous without having to add any extra spices or flavor. To avoid lumpy gravy, make a watery paste with flour and water and add slowly to the gravy stock. Works every time. I learned this from my mom.

The menu:

Billl Bridges Tequila Bloody Marys
Turkey
Mashed potatoes made with heavy cream and lots of butter
Gravy
Chef John’s Green Beans with pecans, lemon and parsley, simple and delicious
Homemade dinner rolls
Homemade cranberry sauce (a friend is making this and sharing)
Wine
And for dessert, my mom’s famous cheesecake recipe, which I may as well include here. It’s super easy and tasty.

CHEESECAKE
Mix together:
1 pound cream cheese (we use lowfat)
2/3 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Pour into 10 inch graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until middle is firm, not soupy. Cool at least one hour.

Mix:
1 pint sour cream (lowfat)
3 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Pour over cooled mixture and spread evenly.
Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.
Top with graham cracker crumbs or fruit pie filling. Jim likes blueberry.

This can be made several days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. I would do that now but the refrigerator is filled up! I will figure something out.

Even though the holiday will be different this year, we are looking forward to celebrating the many things we have to be grateful for. This is the year to not think about what you are missing out on, but be thankful for what you have. We certainly are.



A Time to Heal…

Now that the election is over (sorta, kinda) it’s time to repair our country. The deep divisions championed and exploited by Donald Trump have done a lot of harm. I think alot of people resoundingly rejected those methods but the problem lies with the almost half of voters who still support Trump. Why? I’ll never know. I have always maintained that he is a horrible person, assaulting woman and bragging about it, calling his political enemies disgusting, insulting nicknames, inciting racial violence and white supremacy and of course, making EVERYTHING about him. He just doesn’t know how to operate any other way. His phrase “your favorite President, me!” is a bad joke.

As of this writing they have called the election for Biden and Trump should just accept the results of the election and go quietly into the night. It’s not in his nature to do that though. His own family said he will start breaking things and that if he has to cheat and steal to win, he still considers it a win. He will probably never concede and I’d bet good money that he won’t have the traditional sit-down photo op with Biden or attend the inauguration. I just hope he doesn’t do too much damage in the meantime. Like not allowing the smooth transition of power to occur.

While I am delighted to have a new President, I am troubled by many peoples’ reactions to the virus in this country, which is spreading by leaps and bounds. Over 220,000 cases A DAY and a quarter of a million Americans dead since April. I get that everybody has pandemic fatigue but this is one of those times when if everybody would just do the recommended things, we would all be through with it a lot sooner. Limit your trips to essential services, wear a mask and social distance in public, don’t gather in groups and wash your hands. Then wash your hands again.

Some people just aren’t doing those things. Well, some are, but many across the country continue to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in groups, attend large events, eat in restaurants and not maintain physical distance. And now, against all health experts recommendations, lots of people will be traveling for Thanksgiving, and probably Christmas too. It is discouraging and frustrating because we have been trying to do the recommended things since March. Yeah, I’m tired of it too. Very tired. But I would hate to blow our months of shelter in place now. I guess we choose to err on the side of caution.

We haven’t even had a dinner party. That is one of the things I miss the most. But we are pulling out all the stops for Thanksgiving. We practice yoga a couple of days a week in a large high ceiling room with a concrete floor where physical distancing is possible. That’s about the only activity we have done except I still swim laps. Some people are acting like the virus isn’t even a real thing, and as seen by the number of Trump flags all over before the election, I don’t wonder why. Most of them have come down now. Shouldn’t they at least be at half mast?

Several of our friends are not coming this season, including our Kansas Chiefs pals, Doc and J. And my bud Elsie with her husband and two cats are wintering in their home in Massachusetts. None of our Canadian friends are here since travel is banned to the USA. Meanwhile, on the cusp of winter, people are coming into the park from all over the country. And our county is one of the hotspots in Texas which has over a million cases, more than Mexico and Italy. Stay safe!

We are happy about the timing when we bought our little house and the garden is doing well. It’s something to do. We are very appreciative that we are where we are and can do what we can. We count our blessings daily. Pandemic fatigue is real, I know.

The hospitals are filling up all over the country. Health experts are warning of a horror show this winter. Cold weather will force people inside where community spread is more likely to occur. And now they are saying the spread is not Just from large events, but smaller ones in peoples’ homes as well. Who knows?

Winter is coming. It could be a long one. And as my friend, Jennie says “Wear your damn mask!”

Everything’s Coming Up Rainbows

Well, not really with the months of quarantine and the political landscape being what it is…

But we do remind ourselves on a regular basis that we are lucky and to count our blessings. Jim is putting in hours of practice on his ukulele, I’m still swimming laps and we are fortunate to have our little house and garden. The house and especially the porch have been an excellent respite. And as I mentioned in this post, cooking has assumed a new importance. I read the New York Times every day and have gotten lots of good recipe ideas there. Some examples:

Crockpot baby back ribs with tomato and olive salad
Pasta and beef
Bacon wrapped shrimp from the grill for Chiefs game day
Barbecued chicken with Cajun potato salad and tomato
Sourdough/whole wheat bread
Brats and tots for game day. We always watched the games with our friends Doc and J but they aren’t coming this year because they’re being careful about Covid. We miss them.
White chicken chili with Parmesan and avocado
Pork medallions and broccoli

My Kansas City yoga friend, Melody, is a weaver now and when she showed a picture of her tea towels on Facebook I asked her if she had an Etsy shop. She said no. But she made us these awesome pieces. They seemed too nice to use for tea (dish) towels but we have started using them and they are amazing. We saved the red and white one for a Chiefs game day coffee table placemat.

After Hurricane Hanna and the subsequent downpour we decided we should fix the garden shed which is attached to the back of the house and the only part of the house on ground level. Our friends Cher and Steve had a good solution; cut out the wood on the ground up to where it flooded and replace with concrete block. That way, even if it flooded no damage to the wood. Jim and Richie were going to do it but we hired somebody and are glad we did. Before and after:

We bought a pole saw and have been doing a lot of the tree trimming in the garden ourselves but one tree had really taken off and was out of control, the Flame Tree. When we moved in, this tree was just a stump and we weren’t sure it would grow back, but it did with a vengeance. Just two years later it was over 20 feet tall and quickly encroaching on the other trees, the house and our neighbor’s house. At that rate we wouldn’t even be able to reach the branches to cut them off. It’s too bad it never bloomed; the bright red blooms stay on for weeks in early summer. But it was moving in on the Crape Myrtle which looked like this for quite a while.

We tried to get the park’s tree guy to come by and give us an estimate and at one point he said he would be over in 15 minutes but he never showed. So we called the company we used before and they came out and did the job the same day. We got our tree guy now.

Before:

During:

And after:

At the back of the house, the new castor beans are starting to get big. Finally some shade for the outdoor shower! The picture on the right is when they are about two months old. I never water them and they just keep growing.

The Flame Tree was also starting to interfere with our flagpole which blew down during the hurricane. Jim ordered another one and got to work.

People are starting to come back into the park from all over the country. Some people are being careful and social distancing but many aren’t. They have shoulder to shoulder happy hours and some indoor activities. We remain vigilant. I know people who have had the virus and they were very sick, even with a “moderate” case. And now they are learning that there can be long term effects like organ damage and decreased brain activity.

Just a few more days until the election. VOTE! Vote as if your life depends on it, because it might.