The normal high and low temperatures for St. Peters at this time of the year are 61 and 42 degrees.  The weather forecast, however, is predicting high temperatures between 28 and 49 degrees for the next ten days and lows below freezing for six of those ten nights.  Up to two inches of snow is forecast for tomorrow.

So today we bought a new liner for our pool and set up a pool opening date to have it installed. . . . And that’s how you define optimism.

I love having my birthday on the first day of spring–even if the wind chill was 24 degrees when I got up this morning.  Google and Snoopy are celebrating with me.

Kathy and Annette came for a weekend visit to celebrate my birthday.  When they arrived, we headed to Pizza Hut to meet Kari’s family.  The boys had not planned to join us for lunch, because they thought we were going to have something like grilled cheese at the house.  When they heard we were going out for pizza, they announced that “Pizza Hut trumps grilled cheese” and immediately found time in their busy schedules to join us.

I saw the kids less than two weeks ago, and Sky was almost taller than I am.  Today, when I saw him, I was looking up into his eyes just a little bit.  I now have four grandsons taller than I am and three more who are growing quickly.


The girls, Ted, and I spent the afternoon catching up with each other while the kids played, and then we had a birthday dinner with gifts and cake.

The woman who has it all:  family, birthday gifts, and a perfect Vienna Torte.

Kari’s family gave me a book I can’t wait to read and a voucher for a lunch date with Kari.  That means there’s some quality mom-daughter time coming up soon.  The hand soap and lotion are from Kathy and Annette.


When I was about 11 or 12, my Aunt Shirley gave me a pretty bisque porcelain flower pot with hand-painted raised flowers on one side.  I could never get anything to grow in it, but I love it.  Some time ago, I gave it to Creative Kathy and asked her to think of a way to make the flower pot pretty to display.  She filled it with flowers to match those on the pot.

With a table runner Kari made, the enhanced flower pot is a perfect spring centerpiece for the kitchen table.


The big finish for the birthday dinner was the perfect Vienna Torte I made yesterday.  Yum!

Teddy (left) is in a state of supreme happiness anticipating the cake.  He came back later and asked for a second piece.  Of course, Grandma said “yes.”


The weekend was over too quickly.  Now I’m looking forward to my remaining birthday lunches / dinners with friends and with Ted–two down and five to go.  I love my birthday season!

My favorite birthday cake is Vienna Torte–a recipe from my grandmother.  It’s a chiffon cake with a custard frosting.  My mom always made it for my birthday, and I started making it after Ted and I were married.

I never have trouble making a great chiffon cake, but it’s always a challenge to achieve the right texture for the custard frosting.  Grandma’s Vienna Torte frosting recipe tells me to cool the custard and then to “add powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla.”  That’s what Mom did and that’s what I’ve done every time I made the cake.  A few times, it has turned out perfectly; most of the time, the custard is runny instead of fluffy.  It firms up in the refrigerator and tastes fine, but its unpredictable consistency is frustrating.

This year, I decided to see if Google had any ideas related to custard frostings.  I searched “frosting recipes with custard and butter and powdered sugar” and–surprise!–found several.  They weren’t exactly like Grandma’s, but I found four that required cooking a custard, letting it cool, and then combining it with butter and powdered sugar.  Each of the online recipes, however, directed me to first whip the butter; then to whip it with the powdered sugar; and then to add the custard to the butter/powdered sugar mixture and whip it.  I have always done the opposite:  added the other ingredients to the custard.

Using Grandma’s recipe and following the online whipping directions produced a perfect custard frosting!  Maybe that’s what Grandma did all along and she just didn’t write it down for herself and/or future generations.  After all these years, I can finally make stress-free Vienna Torte for my birthday.

I have to go now so I can do my happy dance.

Today, Ted and I went shopping for groceries and had the opportunity to observe Channel 4’s “Weather Radio Wednesday.”  In early spring (pre-tornado season), Channel 4’s weather team visits a different metro area location each Wednesday from 3:30-6:30 pm.  This Wednesday, they were at our local St. Peters grocery store.  They had weather radios for sale, and were also available to program weather radios to sound alerts for the metro area county of the user’s choice.

The line to reach the Weather Radio Wednesday team stretched the length of the store aisle, and then curved another 8-10 people around the corner.

Two weather team members (blue shirts) covered the weather radio sales and programming.

Channel 4’s chief meteorologist (on the right in a blue shirt with a Channel 4 logo patch) did public relations duties with the crowd and also broadcast his 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm weathercasts from this location.


This was a popular event.  I heard the store manager say it was like Christmas, with people cruising the parking lot, looking for a place to park.  Ted and I can verify this, as we needed to park on the perimeter of the parking lot.  Thankfully for us, the grocery-purchase lines were much shorter than the weather radio line.

In The Proposal, Betty White (the grandma) gives Sandra Bullock (the soon-to-be granddaughter-in-law) a necklace that has come down through the family.  When Sandra protests, Betty insists that grandmas love to give their things away because it means they’ll still be around in some way after they die.  This is true.

A few years ago, I gave Kyra, my only granddaughter (as she likes to remind us), a few pieces of my jewelry.  I wasn’t sure if she’d wear them or not, but I hoped she would at least treasure them as a memento of me.

Kyra is currently serving on a mission for her church in Bakersfield, CA.  She sends a weekly email message and always includes some photos about what’s going on in her life.  Today, as I was scrolling through the pictures she sent, I recognized a necklace from me on her neck.

Yes, grandmas love to give their things away.  They love it even more when they see their granddaughters enjoying those things.

This is me at three years old.  Check out the necklace.  I’ll bet my mom made that skirt and blouse.  The decorative bow in my hair that matches the skirt is definitely her touch, and she loved to do detailed sewing like the blouse.

Here’s Kyra.  Check out her necklace.  Beautiful girl, treasured necklace, and a little tear of happiness in grandma’s eye.

Today’s Google doodle features William Henry Perkins, a British chemist and entrepreneur who accidentally discovered the first synthetic dye.  In 1856, when he was just 18 years old, Perkins was trying to synthesize quinine to treat malaria.  His experiment failed and, instead of quinine, his beakers were filled with a dirty brown sludge.  When he cleaned the beakers with alcohol, the sludge became a bright, rich purple dye that he called mauveine.  A long chain of chemical advances resulted in a bright, inexpensive synthetic color available to the masses.  Thanks to Perkins, we don’t have to smash roots and berries to have colorful clothing.

In its apparently never-ending quest for health, happiness, and statistics, Google studied consumption of its employees’ favorite candy:  m&m’s®.  Organic figs, nuts, and other healthy snacks were placed in clear containers; m&m’s® were put into opaque containers.  After seven weeks, the 2,000 Google employees in the New York office consumed 3.1 million fewer calories in m&m’s® form.  That was the equivalent of nine vending machine-size bags of m&m’s® for each of the 2,000 employees in the seven-week period!

I have only minimal will power when it comes to m&m’s®, so I rarely buy them.  If, however, they are placed in front of me (e.g., at an event or given as a gift for, say, my birthday), I give myself permission to eat them.  Kathy and Annette gave me a vending machine-size bag of m&m’s® for Christmas as well as an opaque container for them.  After we took down the Christmas tree, I put the little bagful of m&m’s® into the container and set it on the kitchen counter in plain sight.  (This was a gift, so my rules gave me permission to eat the candy.)  Google’s research is right:  That little bag of m&m’s® lasted more than a week.  The letters on the container are far less tempting than those colorful little chocolate bits in an open dish, and I pour fewer pieces into my hand than I grab from an open bowl.  Go, Google!

I bravely purchased an 11-ounce bag of Easter m&m’s and put the little pastel temptresses into the opaque jar. After more than two weeks, nearly half of the bag’s contents is still in the jar, even with “Chocoholic Ted” helping me eat them.

Dr. William Anthony, a Boston University professor, wanted to spotlight the health benefits of napping.  In 1999, he selected the Monday after the change to daylight saving time to celebrate National Napping Day.  He knew that after losing an hour of sleep, people would already be in nap mode.

To celebrate, thank Dr. Anthony and treat yourself to a 20-minute nap today.

Ted’s and my Pilates class meets Monday and Wednesday mornings.  The previous session ended Monday, March 5 and the next session doesn’t begin until Monday, March 12.  Without that Wednesday class, we had a full seven days without Pilates, our only specifically scheduled exercise.  The weather has been cold, gray, and gloomy and Ted and I have been reading some very good books.  We decided to live on the edge and take a whole week off from exercise.  The plan was to just take it easy, and don’t accomplish much for a week.  After all, what’s retirement for if you can’t do stuff like that?

I made it three days.  By the fourth day, I felt like such a slug, I had to get out and walk at least two miles.  Ted held out until the next day, and we’ve exercised every day since then.  We didn’t see any walkers going past our house today because the weather is that bad, but we were out there, raising the bar for everyone else.

Right after Russia launched Sputnik in 1957, our schools were participating in the President’s Physical Fitness Program–also launched in 1957.  (Coincidence?  I think not.)  Maybe all that “beat the Russians” exercise in grade school successfully conditioned Ted and me to get up and get out, and spoiled us for inactivity.

Ted and I were working in the back yard last week and noticed that one of our redbud trees wasn’t looking good.  It’s been failing for several years, and we had a major limb cut out of it a few years ago.  Last week’s inspection revealed the base of the tree looking so rotted, we were afraid a spring wind storm would blow it over.  It would then hit (1) our storage shed; (2) our pool fence; or (3) our neighbor’s sunroom windows.  Every option would require a repair.  Ted called the tree company and they came to the house today, chainsaws in hand, to remove the 31-year-old tree.

Men at work.  They cut the main limbs away, one by one.  Two guys held a rope around the soon-to-fall limb while the third guy cut it off with his chain saw.

The final limb bit the dust, guided just to the left of the neighbors’ sunroom, and is lying on the ground.  No more redbud tree; no broken windows.

This is the rot Ted and I saw at the base of the tree last week.  The other side of the trunk looked the same.

The inside of the tree was mostly rotted away at the base, and the space was filled with leaves.  Squirrels at work?

When the cutter sliced the trunk into pieces that could be carried to the truck, the slices broke into chunks instead of holding together as a single unit.  The cutter’s comment:  “That’s not good.”  He said it was a good thing we had the tree removed, because it was definitely going to fall down very soon.

The last step:  recycle.  The tree is now mulch and is ready to enrich the earth from whence it came.

This gorgeous photo was taken by Malcolm Denmark, a Florida Today photographer.  It shows the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral early this morning.  Ooh, aah.

My brother Tom sent a cartoon to my siblings and me and it reminded me of some related cartoons I’ve saved over the years.

English majors always try to be grammatically correct, . . .


. . . they can be challenged when looking for employment, . . .


. . . and they sometimes find the perfect niche.  Thanks, Tom.

Kari was notified that Teddy would be receiving three awards at school today, so she invited Ted and me to attend the assembly.  Each classroom teacher gave awards for subjects taught in that classroom.  Special subjects included art, music, computers, etc. in addition to reading, writing, math, and the Big 3–given to one student in each class for being a safe, respectful, and responsible learner.  We were very proud of Teddy.

In the special subjects category, Teddy received a music award.  He’s on the far left.

Next was the classroom reading award.  He’s on the right in the back row.

Teddy’s third award was the Big 3.  Kari said the teacher told her Teddy is the most mature child in her classroom.  (Check it out.  The boy on Teddy’s right is wearing a shirt that says “Fossil Fuel” and has a picture of a dinosaur riding a motorcycle.)

The Big 3 includes a medal in addition to the certificate.  Here’s our winner.


Today was also Hat Day at school.  Most of the hats were cute, but not remarkable.  Some kids went for the extremes.

A Beefeater, perhaps?

World’s largest hat?

No hat, but the boy in the middle wore a three-piece suit and a tie for the event.  He looks bored here, but he was excited about his award and was glad-handing everyone.  Future politician?

Back at Kari’s house, we celebrated all these certificates with fresh-baked raisin bread and fresh caramel-frosted chocolate cupcakes.


Meanwhile, outside in Kari’s driveway, the Camry lives on.  Ted and I bought the Camry in March 1992.  It wouldn’t die, and we got sick of driving it, so Ted replaced it with a 2003 Solara and we gave the Camry to Kathy.  In December 2017, Kathy bought the Prius from us and gave the Camry to Kari.  Those Toyota cars just won’t quit!


It’s so much fun to live close to one of our kids’ families so we can regularly be a part of days like this.

Ted and I are currently in the process of working with our travel agent to plan our Australian trip.  With that in mind, check out this drawing one of Ted’s friends sent him.


The rough outline of our trip has us traveling from late November into early January.  The itinerary gives us two days in Bali to recover from jet lag; a 15-day cruise from Bali to the northern and eastern  Australian coasts, ending with two days in Sydney (part of the cruise); and then immediately continuing with a 15-day cruise (same ship, same stateroom) along the eastern side of New Zealand, ending with two days in Auckland.  Then we’ll fly to Sydney to spend 3-4 days with our Australian friends, Mark and Tracey, whom we met on our 2015 European river cruise.  After that, we’ll go back to winter in St. Louis.

Thank you, National Weather Service, for observing meteorological seasons, making today the first day of spring.  I love spring!