Bentley’s Restaurant at the Lake of the Ozarks is one of Ted’s and my favorite restaurants.  I used to have a lot of business conferences and meetings at the Lake, and if Ted joined me, we would often eat there.  Now that we’re retired and business conferences are a thing of the past, we decided to make dinner at Bentley’s our gifts to each other for our birthdays and for our anniversary.  It’s a three-hour drive each way, but the Ozark Mountain area is very scenic and we both enjoy driving, so making the trip three times a year is fun.

Ted’s birthday dinner was delayed because the restaurant is closed in January and I was sick in February.  We made the drive yesterday for a joint celebration.  It was sunny and in the 60s, the Bradford pear trees were blooming all the way, and the redbuds were just coming out, so we had a beautiful drive.  Our favorite waiter took care of us and, as always, we agreed the food and the drive were worth it.  We’re looking forward to our anniversary dinner at Bentley’s in June.

Bentley's Restaurant and Pub

Bentley’s Restaurant and Pub, Lake Ozark, MO

Outdoor seating area--a little cool to eat here this time

Outdoor seating area–a little cool to eat here this time

Indoor view of the Lake. Lots of boats to watch in the summer.

Indoor view of the Lake. Lots of boats to watch in the summer.

The guests of honor ?

The guests of honor ?


The local evening news tonight reported on the murder of a pregnant third-grade teacher in her home.  Of course, neighbors were interviewed and appeared in the news report.  One neighbor described himself as shockified.

don’t know what to say to that, except perhaps, that I’m shocked.  Or, per James Bond in “Goldfinger,” that I find his vocabulary “shocking, simply shocking.”

Ted and I each have a Citibank credit card and we’ve always been impressed with their security.  Once, we went on a huge shopping spree and spent a lot more than usual in one day.  At one point, my card was refused for possible fraudulent use and the store clerk put me on the phone to speak with the Citi person.  I had to answer my security questions and verify that the purchases made that day were actually made by me.

Once or twice over the years, both Ted’s and my cards have been used in some unknown “suspicious” manner, and we were immediately called, texted, and emailed, and told about the activity.  If we verify the activity, all is well; if not, we get a new card within two days.

Tonight, I received the multiple notifications that my card had been suspiciously used.  Citi noticed that I charged groceries and movie tickets in Missouri today, and then attempted to charge a taxi in New York.  It sounds like fun to be in New York, but I’ll settle for the new credit card that will arrive in two days.

Now I’m puzzled about how my “secure” chip credit card number was copied.

It’s a beautiful spring day and we had no other commitments, so we went out to lunch and then drove to the Central West End.  Our mission (which we chose to accept):  check out the chocolate Easter eggs on display in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel lobby.

We learned from a local news report earlier this week that we were admiring 150 pounds of chocolate.  The eggs were molded and decorated by a local chocolatier.  Decorations were also handmade and were attached by gently blowing air (from a compressor, not from the decorator’s mouth) onto the chocolate to melt it slightly.  Unfortunately, to preserve them while on display, the eggs were sprayed with an inedible coating, so there will be no choco-fest to consume them next week.  What a waste of good chocolate!

You could smell the chocolate from 10 feet away.  Yum!

The gold must be a coating on the chocolate

The gold must be a coating on the chocolate. Notice the chocolate curlicues on the left egg.


Beautiful decorations!

Beautiful decorations!


Proof we were there. ? Happy Easter from both of us.

Proof we were there. ? Happy Easter from both of us.

Dylan and Sky like to build elaborate Lego scenarios and, every so often, they demolish what they’ve built and reconstruct something new and different.  While we were at Kari and Dean’s house last night, Dylan gave us an audio/visual presentation to describe his newly re-designed Lego city.

On the right and in the upper portion of the city, you can see tan building bases, as opposed to the green ones.  These are the desert areas.  Note also that in the upper right corner of the city is a mountainous building base–obviously the mountainous area of the town.  Whatever a city needs to survive is included:  merchants, parks, wheat fields, homes (including Lego furniture inside), trees, flowers, farm animals and pets, a well, a guard at the city gate, and even a king and his residence (which has fancier furniture than that of his subjects).  Dylan has always been very creative, and I enjoy watching his creativity develop as he grows.

P.S.  He definitely inherited some of his mother’s creative genes.  Just like her, he likes to use a lot of Scotch tape when he works on paper projects!

Legoland by Dylan

Legoville by Dylan

My son-in-law, Dean, teases me about my “birthday month” because I usually spend at least a month (more, if possible) celebrating my birthday with friends.  This year’s kickoff event was last night at Kari and Dean’s home–and there’s some irony in that, Dean–where Kari cooked a delicious dinner and baked an equally delicious cake for my birthday.  In addition, she gifted me with a mother-daughter lunch or dinner at a future date to be mutually agreed upon (thus extending the birthday celebration).

Today, I had a birthday lunch with two friends; I have another lunch scheduled later this week; and there is yet another lunch coming up next week.  Ted and I celebrate our birthdays with dinner at Bentley’s, our favorite restaurant at the Lake of the Ozarks.  We plan to make the three-hour drive for that within the next two weeks.  In April, I’ll be meeting with a group of retired women friends from the college, and I’ve still got at least one more friend with whom I need to schedule a celebratory lunch.

How boring it would be to celebrate one’s birthday on a single day!

By the way, the TV weatherman acknowledged that even though spring technically began at 11:30 pm on March 19, March 20 was actually the first full day of spring.  That means I can still say my birthday fell on the first day of spring, just the way I like it.  Whew!


Awesome! The second time since I got married that I didn’t make my own birthday cake. (The first time was also thanks to Kari.) Adult kids rock!

Spring is my favorite season, and I love that my birthday is almost always on the first day of spring.  This year, the first day of spring just missed my birthday.  As we all know, this is a Leap Year, so every day after February comes a day later.  As a result, I had to wait an extra day for my birthday (like everyone else) and because of that, spring began at 11:30 pm last night.  (So close!)  At least the Google doodle of the day is spring blossoms.

Magnolia tree

Magnolia tree

It’s spring!  I love this tree in our yard.  We have two like this and three of a slightly different variety.

My baby brother and me

My baby brother and me


My youngest brother, Russ, will be starting a new job in Seattle on March 21.  This week, he’s driving cross-country from his current home near Philadelphia to Seattle.  He stopped at the Schroeder Hostel last night to spend some time with us, then hit the road again this morning.  Russ and I haven’t seen each other in person for ten years, so we enjoyed some face-to-face time.  My sister-in-law will stay in Philadelphia with their two youngest sons until the end of the school year.

In spite of Russ’s getting up early, driving for 15 hours, and arriving here at 8:30 pm, we stayed up talking until after 1:00 am, then got up right after 6:00 am and talked until he left at 8:00.  It will be less than ten years before we see each other again, since we go to Seattle regularly to visit Thom’s family.  I’m looking forward to that.

Right on schedule, I received an email message today from the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of the Federal Reserve) to inform me that PNC Bank has reported partial completion of the resolution of our complaint.  PNC has an additional sixty days to resolve the matter fully, and the CFPB will notify me whenever they receive information from PNC.

The first unexpected bill from PNC arrived December 23, and I went to the bank that same day to correct the problem.  Note that I signed paperwork that day and was told everything was resolved.  This was followed by contacts from PNC once or twice weekly for the next eight weeks, each indicating (to me) that resolution had not been achieved after all.  At the close of every contact, however, I was told that the situation was definitely resolved this time.

They were certainly a busy little bank while they were clearing up this problem!  Even though the calls and letters from PNC stopped after I reported them to the Federal Reserve, the MO attorney general, and the media, they not only kept the account open, but put a lien against our house and reported the account as delinquent to the Credit Bureau.  Amazing!  I wonder how they define resolution.

Since the CFPB’s intervention, we’ve received letters from PNC thanking us for allowing them to resolve the problem.  Really??!!  Is that as opposed to suing them for emotional distress as a result of their error?  Not to mention a large chunk of my time!  PNC has informed us, and presumably the CFPB as well, that the line of credit has been closed, the fees have been waived, the balance due is $0.00, and the lien against our property has been removed.  I believe we are now waiting for the Credit Bureau to “repair” (PNC’s word) our credit rating.

Next chapter due in sixty days or sooner.

Since Trump’s win on Super Tuesday, searches for “move to Canada” (see March 2) continue and are higher than at any time in Google’s history.  In fact, if you type “move to,” Google now automatically adds “Canada” for your convenience.

Over a week of weather in the 60s and 70s plus some rain gave me a surprise when I looked out the window today.  The grass is green!  It’s not turning green–it’s green!  Spring has sprung!

I was doing very well following my foot surgery.  For the first three days, it was elevation and ice–20 minutes on/20 minutes off with the ice.  Ted was awesome about getting up and down to fetch ice while I sat in the elevated foot position.  The doctor said I’d need pain-killers for three days, and he was right.  I guess he has some prior knowledge about this situation.  I’m not supposed to remove my bandages until I have the stitches removed, so I haven’t seen my toes, but I know there are stitches on the top of each one and an actual metal pin with a protective rubber tip sticking out of the end of each corrected toe.

After feeling pretty good Sunday, I woke up around 4:00 am Monday with pain in one toe that wouldn’t let me sleep and didn’t respond to medication.  I called the doctor and was told I might have bumped it in my sleep–no biggie.  Today, it was still hurting, so I called the doctor again and was told to come to the office.  I said it felt like the metal pin was pressing into my toe, but the other two toes didn’t feel like that.  An x-ray showed that one pin had made a one-quarter turn in its place and was jammed down a quarter inch so that it was pressing into the next bone beyond the joint!  No wonder it felt like a metal pin in my foot!  

The doctor pulled the pin back out to where it should be and it feels fine.  I don’t remember bumping my foot (I’ve been really careful, because it’s still very tender), but he said it doesn’t take much and that I’ll likely do it several more times before the pins are removed in a month.  The good news:  if it happens when my toes are more healed, it probably won’t hurt.  Now I have to worry about another bump, but if it’s such a common occurrence, it won’t be a surprise to the doctor if I need another adjustment.  It might be time to come up with a better idea than easily-jammed pins in the toes.

Today was my first day out of the house since the surgery.  It was weird to get one sock out of the drawer and to take one shoe from the closet instead of two.  Maybe after doing this for a month, it will seem normal.

Spring green tape from the doctor to replace hospital beige

Today’s footwear

Spring green tape from the doctor to replace hospital beige

Spring green tape from the doctor to replace hospital beige

Our health insurance company offered us a free gift if we completed a health survey.  I scored 98% in good health and habits on the survey and chose to receive a Fitbit.  Today it came in the mail and I set it up for wireless tracking.  Unfortunately, as a result of my foot surgery, I’ll be wearing a boot on my right foot for the next four weeks.  I don’t think I’m going to make my 10,000 steps per day for awhile.


I was talking with a gentleman who mentioned that he is now 70 years old.  I responded by saying that I will be 69 this month.  His response:  “You must take very good care of yourself.”  How nice!

This morning, Ted and I got up at the ungodly hour of 4:45 am (who knew there was life at that time of day?!) to check in at the hospital for surgery to correct three hammer toes on my right foot.

The problem started at least four years ago, but didn’t really begin to bother me until this past year.  As my second toe got worse, the knuckle kept getting higher and higher, making it increasingly difficult to choose from my nearly 100 pair of shoes to find one that wasn’t painful for walking.  The top of any shoe–even athletic shoes–rubbed on the knuckle, creating a blister.  Even socks were starting to feel too tight on my toe.

I finally made an appointment with a podiatrist last week and he said I actually have three toes that need correcting.  When he pointed out the difference between my right and left toes, it was pretty obvious, even to a non-medical person like me.  He said he could schedule the surgery today or next month, so I opted for today to get ‘er done.  Why wait?

Now I’ve got four weeks in a boot, followed by three weeks in athletic shoes, and then I’ll be fine.  To celebrate, I bought a new pair of athletic shoes last week.

Small, lightweight boot for driving (not until next week)

Uncomfortably, clumsy boot for walking

Uncomfortable, clumsy boot for walking (4 weeks)

Today, I saw Dr. P. for a checkup on my wrist.  (It’s doing well.)  After the medical business, I planned to ask Dr P. if he was serious about the teacher trainings, or if he’d spent the last three weeks wondering what made him suggest such a crazy idea.  Before I could say a word, he asked if I’d given any thought to doing the trainings.  It turns out that he was very serious about the idea and that he is very passionate about training the teachers in his school to teach in a method other than memorization, as they do now.  

Those who know me won’t be surprised that I had prepared a folder for him with a written proposal outlining a training schedule, the skills to be addressed in that training, and the follow-up trainings needed.  We talked for a few minutes and agreed that we need a meeting of the docs:  Dr. P., Dr. John, and Dr. Me.  As soon as I got home, I called John.  We set a date, time, and place to meet (March 14, 7:00 pm, John’s office) and it’s beginning to sink in that I am definitely going to India to provide teacher trainings later this year.  

The children in Dr. P.’s school are poor and orphaned, and are unlikely to have an opportunity to develop any skills they have.  Dr. P.’s goal is to give these underprivileged and undereducated children a chance to develop their abilities.  This is an amazing opportunity for me to help achieve that goal.  I am excited, but also humbled and definitely grateful for what I am sure was the Lord’s intervention in bringing this gift to my life.

On “Wheel of Fortune” tonight, Pat Sajak and Vanna White had their usual post-show chat.

Pat:  Today is March 2.

Vanna:  Yes, it is.

Pat:  If it wasn’t a Leap Year, today would be March 3.

What can you say when it’s true?  Not much gets past Pat!

In the hours following the results of the Super Tuesday primaries, Google searches for “How do I move to Canada?” spiked 1,000% and reportedly came close to crashing the website.  Today’s Washington Post headline declared “The Real Winner of Super Tuesday Is Google.”

I didn’t go to Google for it, but I’ve asked myself if moving to Canada in the event of a Trump Presidential win is something to consider.

On the news tonight, there was a report about the Zika virus.  We were assured that those in the St. Louis area who have contracted the disease were infected as a result of traveling to areas in which Zika is endemic.  In St. Louis, Zika is a concern, however, partly because, as the reporter said, “At least one mosquito native to this area is a known carrier of Zika.”

One mosquito???!!!  There’s one mosquito to worry about???!!!

Andrea called me back today.  She works in the Executive (get that!) Client Relations Department at the Pittsburgh corporate headquarters of PNC Bank.  She said the call was in reference to the complaint I filed with the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of the Federal Reserve Bank).  Yea!  Further proof that my tax dollars are doing some good.

Andrea admitted the bank made an error in processing the paperwork to close our line of credit, and she told me I should not be receiving any more calls.  (Like I haven’t heard that line before–eight times in six weeks!)  I will be receiving a letter from the Credit Bureau indicating that our credit record has been corrected.  (I knew that even if it was a bank error, receiving calls from the collections department meant our credit rating would take a hit.)

I will also receive a letter from the bank telling me that the line of credit is closed and all charges have been waived.  The catch?  The letter must first be approved by PNC’s legal department and again by its claims department.  This might cause the letter to be delayed beyond the CFPB’s deadline of March 11.  If that happens, I will receive a letter explaining the reason for the delay.  I assume the CFPB will receive a similar explanatory letter.  In Andrea’s place, I probably wouldn’t want to send that letter without a really solid reason for missing the deadline of my federal oversight agency.

What a lot of fuss because someone didn’t file the paperwork we signed!  Or is it?  Ted and I can’t help thinking that, all along, this may have been a ploy to get us to pay the $50 fee just to make the hassle go away.  Fifty dollars times x number of bank customers equals. . . .  My words of wisdom?  (1) Don’t bank with PNC; and (2) the CFPB rocks!

It isn’t over until the fat lady sings, but I think the orchestra is warming up.