Month: August 2018

One of my first dates with Ted was in August 1968.  There was a full moon on a clear night in Madison, and Ted told me he wanted to go to Lake Monona to take some pictures of the moon rising over the lake.  He invited me to come with him and, naturally, I said “yes,” hoping this might be the equivalent of “looking at his etchings.”

We went to the lake, he took some pictures, we got back into the car, and he took me back to my apartment.  Mission accomplished.  He didn’t even hold my hand or kiss me in the moonlight!  Apparently, Ted was oblivious to the romantic possibilities of a lakeside moonlit summer night.  Today, I saw this cartoon in the paper, and it reminded me of that date.

Today, I scanned some photos for the kids from the 1972-76 albums and found some great memories.

This picture of Jeff on the U.S. Capitol grounds is one of my all-time favorites.  He’s 13 months old and had been walking for only two or three weeks.  Ted and I have always called it “Tiptoe through the tulips” (cf Tiny Tim).


On that same day, Ted took this picture of Jeff and me at the Capitol.  I labeled it “Jeff 13 months.  Mom 8 months.”  It was almost time for Kathy to join us.


Look at the delight on seven-month-old Kathy’s face.  Bubbles are magic, and not only for children–Dad and Jeff (in the mirror) are having fun too.


We bought Jeff a bicycle, but he refused to practice riding it.  When I asked him why he wouldn’t practice, he said he was just going to save it until he was six years old because all the six-year-olds knew how to ride bikes.  I finally convinced him those six-year-olds had practiced, so here he is–riding a two-wheeler at the age of 4-1/2.  Hey, Jeff, is that another pair of your favorite plaid pants?  (Note that Dad also has plaid pants in the photo above.  They really, really were in style in the 70s.)


Here’s a 1974 classic of Kathy, two months before her second birthday.  I called it “Whistler’s Sister.”


My brother Tom bought a pistol in 1976.  He showed it to us when we visited for Thanksgiving, so my brother Russ, Ted, and I all posed with it.  Do we look like we’re starring in a cowboy western?  (I mean, except that we’re all smiling and drinking Pepsi.)  I’m sure the pistol was unloaded.  Please say it was unloaded, Tom.


On that same visit to Tom’s Beloit house, a miracle occurred at our Thanksgiving dinner.  We changed wine into milk.  Oh, the days when we were too young and too broke to have enough glasses to go around the table twice–wine for dinner, rinse the glasses, then milk in the same glasses with pie for dessert.  That’s six-month-old baby Tom on Uncle Tom’s lap.  Check out the eight-flash pack on the camera sitting on the table in the bottom photo.


I’m loving this photo-scanning project!

I’ve been hungry for cupcakes for a long time.  I thought about making a batch to share with the kids’ families when they came home in June, but decided to bake cookies instead.

The thought of cupcakes continued to haunt me, but I did nothing about making any.

A few weeks ago, cupcakes came up in the book I was reading and I thought about making some, but didn’t.

Last week, Jeff posted on his blog that he was in the mood for cupcakes and made a batch.  “I should do that too,” I thought, but I didn’t.

In the book I’m currently reading, the heroine decided to start a cupcake business.  What are the odds that, within a few weeks, I read two books published in different years by different authors in which cupcakes played a role?

I decided that the universe wants me to make cupcakes, so I gave in and baked a batch of chocolate cupcakes, topped with Mom’s caramel frosting.


Jeff is taking some very nice pictures with his new camera and posting them on his blog.  His pictures are inspiring me to look for interesting things to photograph, so when I saw this purple flower in the sun, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to experiment with my skills.


In real life, the purple blossoms stood out in brilliant sunlight compared to the surrounding shaded marigolds, but my cell phone camera automatically adjusted the lighting.  Now I’m wondering if I need a better camera like Jeff’s so I can take better, more interesting pictures.  The down side is that Jeff said the camera cost more than his first car.  Granted, it was a well-used car that he bought in the mid-1990s, but the question is whether I really want to invest that much time and money in photography.  Food for thought . . . .

We have lots of red salvia in our back yard, and it attracts hummingbirds.  While I was sitting on the patio reading a book, a hummingbird spent almost two minutes darting its beak into individual pods on the salvia bloom.  I wished I had my camera with me to take a picture of the quick-moving tiny bird, but I knew if I moved, the bird would fly away.  I just enjoyed the moment and watched it work.

Imagine a hummingbird darting around these flowers.

Having our outdoor landscaping updated gave Ted and me some additional ideas for our yard.  We like the paving stones the landscaper installed to shortcut through our privacy hedge.  We’d been walking through there since 1981, and never thought of adding paving stones to the mulch.  The stones are so nice, we thought they’d be good leading up to our front yard outdoor faucet as well, so we took care of that today.

This will be nicer than walking over the mulch to turn the water on or off–in my case, usually with bare feet.  (The dying cedar bush is on the list to disappear.)

Paving stones all the way to the faucet.


All the edging the landscaper put around the mulch and stones in our yard made us want to contain the mulch in our brush area behind the storage shed too.  (It’s called the brush area because it’s where we put trimmed branches and raked leaves until Ted and his chipper turn them into mulch.)  We did that job right after finishing the paving stones.

Mark a line with string to remove the grass and install the edging.

Find a good installer.

VoilĂ !  Contained mulch in the brush area.

We’ve lived here long enough to have mature trees (39 years) and they can get overgrown.  Our pretty redbud tree behind the storage shed is getting stomped on by the big sweet gum tree behind it.


We thought removing one big branch (the one growing laterally in the photo above) from the sweet gum tree would give the redbud some room to grow, so we called “our” tree company.  They know us so well, the head cutter usually spends some time reminiscing with us about other work they’ve done in our yard.  For $35, the tree company will run our brush pile through their big mulcher, so we made sure to trim all of our trees and bushes before they came.  This saved Ted a lot of time putting all the brush through his not-for-commercial-use chipper.

Here’s half the brush pile on its way to the mulching machine.


The first step is to put ropes in place in the tree so the team can control the fall of the branch.

Here’s Sean stringing his ropes.

After Sean makes his cut, the two guys holding the ropes bring the branch down slowly . . .

. . . and it lands exactly where they want it to land.


We thought one branch would do it, but when that one was removed, the one above it looked like it needed to go as well.  In the end, the team took out four good-sized branches and five smaller ones.  The sweet gum tree looked less overgrown and better-shaped when they finished.

I think I heard the redbud tree take a deep breath now that it has room to grow.

Ted and I went back to Music on Main for the August performance in St. Charles.  Tonight’s band was Pepperland, playing a Beatles revue.  According to their website, Pepperland “plays songs of the Beatles in a new way while still paying tribute to the genius of the Fab Four.”  My critique:  They played very well, but they sure can’t sing!  That minor detail didn’t seem to bother any of them because, except for the bass guitarist, they all took turns enthusiastically singing Beatles’ favorites.  Maybe their singing style was their new way of performing Beatles music.

Historic Main Street welcomed us to the concert.

I’m not sure what was special about tonight, but the street included a balloon arch.  Pay no attention to that man in the corner.

Pepperland played lots of good Beatles tunes.

We’ve seen this couple dance at other concerts, and they perform like professionals–lots of dramatic dips and complicated turns.  They only dance for one song each time, so maybe they’re advertising dance lessons.  (His shirt had a company name on the back.)


And then, about an hour into the concert, I noticed a change in the sky.

The sky was blue in the north . . .

. . . but had a menacing cloud in the south.

I checked the radar and it didn’t look good.  The red dot indicates where we were sitting.


And then, . . . then there was rain.  Heavy rain.

I suspected trouble when I felt the gust front pass through and the temperature dropped.  The wind was strong enough to break Ted’s umbrella and to send all the balloons flying.

The band announced a 30-minute break and quickly covered their equipment.  There was a roof over them, so don’t worry about the uncovered drums.

(Most of) the audience packed up their chairs and ran for cover from the pouring rain.

Fifty minutes later, the band dried off their equipment . . .

. . . the little kid found a puddle . . .

. . . and about half of the audience returned for the remainder of the concert.  Good times!

Tonight’s outdoor concert was at O’Fallon Civic Park, about 15 minutes from our house.  It was a cloudy day and it started raining after 4:00 p.m., so Ted and I didn’t know if we’d go to the concert or not.  The rain stopped at 6:00, and the concert started at 6:30, so off we went.

This was probably the friendliest, most laid-back venue we’ve gone to.  The swimming pool closed for the season last Sunday, but there was a playground on the left side of the bandstand and a track around the park where we saw some people walking before settling in for the musical part of the evening.  It was a small crowd–maybe 500-600–but that was more than twice as many people as we saw at the Municipal Band concert.  There were actually five food trucks, as opposed to the two or three we’ve been seeing, and Ted opted for the wood-fired pizza.  It was delicious!  He asked the vendor if they also have a restaurant where we could enjoy more pizza.  He was told that, at this time, they have only the food truck, so I guess we’ll have to chase down the truck if we feel an urge for their pizza.

Here’s the bandstand and the early crowd.  Part of the walking track is visible across the center of the picture.

Some of the kids enjoyed the playground more than the music throughout the evening.


Tonight’s band was Platinum Rock Legends, self-described as “the most exotic and awesome rockers” in the Midwest.  Their theme is “Live the Legend.”  They obviously have a positive opinion of themselves.  The program tonight featured their supershow with a boy band tribute.

Live the Legend!


As soon as the band came onstage, Ted and I recognized the first dancer to hit the floor.  We had seen him at The Meadows concert in late July.  He swapped out his blue shirt for a white one and added a new dance move tonight:  on the fast songs, he double-timed his one-foot-other-foot step.  He had plenty of partners–a number of women sought him out and danced with him.

This guy literally danced to every beat of music for 2.5 hours.  I wonder how many calories he burns at concerts.

Tonight’s security force was Cops in Carts.  They toodled around the area a little bit, but were out of sight most of the time.

The crowd filled in nicely and so did the dance area.

That’s a sturdy little ice chest!


Platinum Rock Legends regularly sings covers for 20 rock legends, complete with signature costumes.  I lost count of how many we saw this evening.

Here’s Queen, singing “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.”

Michael Jackson had the best costume, but it was hard to see him.  PRL loves the smoke effect and regularly clouded the stage with it.

Of course Prince sang “Purple Rain.”

This is the first summer concert at which we’ve seen one of the performers go into the audience while singing.


Because of the rain, traffic on I-70 was slow and the band arrived a few minutes late.  To make up for it, they played past the scheduled 9:00 p.m. finish.  Because school starts tomorrow in O’Fallon, at 9:00 p.m. it was time to pack up the kids, take them home, and go to bed.  The audience was significantly smaller by 9:05.

When it’s time to go home, it’s time to go home.  It was another enjoyable concert for Ted and me.

One of the things I planned to do after my July 26, 2012 retirement was to stay up as late as necessary to watch the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks during the second week of August.  So far, there has been an obstacle to doing that every year–usually clouds, rain, or too much moonlight to see all but the brightest meteors.  Last year, Ted and I agreed we should drive to rural Kansas to watch the Perseids in the dark.  This year’s Perseids were predicted to be amazing, with up to 70-100 meteors visible per hour, clear skies, and only a new moon which set early in the evening, leaving a dark sky.  When we found out the peak viewing time was over the weekend, we asked Kathy if she’d like to have us visit her in Kirksville (no nearby major cities) for the event.  She’s an avid star-gazer, so she told us to come on up.

We arrived in Kirksville in the late afternoon and spent some time with Kathy and Annette at the house before dinner.

There’s a new look in the dining room.  It was very welcoming with the afternoon sun shining through the window.  Ignore any out-of-place objects.  Kathy and Annette are updating their bathroom now and needed to shift some things around.

The girls store their winter stove wood in the back yard.  Does that make this a wooded lot?  The big trees provide a shady setting for outdoor meals at the picnic table.

An interesting mushroom is growing on one of the firewood logs.


There was no rush to eat dinner or to leave the not-busy restaurant (it was Sunday night), because we couldn’t see meteors until after dark.  We had a good time visiting together and catching up with each other until we decided it was dark enough to begin searching for a viewing point in the dark country north of Kirksville.  It took us about 30 minutes to leave the Kirksville lights behind and another 15 minutes to find a place off the road, without lights, where we wouldn’t bother anyone or get arrested.  It was about 10:30 p.m. when we settled on the parking lot of some sort of large equipment storage area.

To get to our viewing spot, we took the Prius Kathy bought from Ted.  This gave Ted his first-ever opportunity to ride in the back seat of his former car.

We brought lawn chairs, but lying on the ground was more comfortable for looking upward.  You can see my vacant spot.

We were surrounded by large storage sheds, 18-wheelers, a caterpillar, a dump truck, and who knows what else.  It was too dark to identify everything around us, but we had a great view of the sky.


Unfortunately, the Perseid show didn’t match its hype.  After two hours, we had seen 19 meteors.  Only 19!!!  It was still a very enjoyable evening.  The outdoor temperature was in the low 80s, and it was so dark and clear that we could see the Milky Way.  We spent our viewing time identifying constellations, chatting about all kinds of things, and wondering how much longer it would be before we saw another meteor.  We saw quite a few spectacular meteors with very long tails and we had a good time together, so the evening was a success.

Tonight’s free outdoor concert was at the Chesterfield Amphitheater–our second visit to this site.  So far, this is the nicest and largest venue we’ve attended for free music (seats 4,000 people) with the best bands.  The Chesterfield Parks Department must have a bigger budget and richer sponsors for their free programs.

The featured band tonight was Silver Bullet STL, presenting a Bob Seeger tribute.  Prior to the main act, we were entertained by Boy, a singer / keyboard player.  He was a lot better than Ricky Kiel, who entertained us while we waited for Dogs of Society two weeks ago.  Boy won’t be ready to headline for awhile yet, but at least people sort of listened to him–more than they did while Ricky Kiel performed.

Bob Seeger music apparently attracts a different kind of crowd than Elton John music.  For starters, while we were in line to enter tonight, the lady behind us (clean-cut, our age) told her friend she’s waiting for Missouri to legalize marijuana so we can just bring it in.  (It’s on the ballot.)  At the security entry check, lawn chair bags had to be removed to make the contents visible.  Compare that to the EJ concert, when a quick squeeze of the bag to verify the feel of a lawn chair was sufficient.  In addition, some of Chesterfield’s finest were milling around, and there were more security people at the stage.  Ted and I didn’t notice any problems, so all the security people earned easy money tonight.

Boy sang some nice, mellow songs and has a decent voice.

It was a perfect night to be outdoors, and the crowd filled in quickly.  We saw people from babies to baby boomers–not just old folks like at the St. Charles Municipal Band concert last week.

Security was twice as tight as last time–two guys looking bored.

Of course, there were several beach balls going around.

Silver Bullet STL takes the stage.  They were loud!!!!  We were in the 5th row and the sound was nearly painful.  They  played all my favorite Bob Seeger songs.  My Number One Favorite?  “Old Time Rock and Roll,” of course!

It took 15-20 minutes for people to start dancing.  There was always room to dance–not like the Elton John concert when the dancers could only sway in place.

I think the lady on the right recorded the entire show.  Her arms were probably numb when she went home.

Here’s a view of the stage from the back of the amphitheater.  We were w-a-a-a-y in the front center.


For years, Ted and I have seen notices of free summer music and always said, “We should go,” but we didn’t.  Why did we wait so long to enjoy these beautiful evenings and free concerts?

This afternoon, Ted and I went to a theater in St. Louis County to see Generation Wealth, a just-released movie.  I’d give it three stars out of five.  Mostly, it made me sad because the people featured in the movie seemed to have no feelings of self-worth, so they tried to validate themselves with lots of money and conspicuous consumption.  I’m much happier than any of them seemed to be.

The more interesting parts of the afternoon (for me) were the Goodyear blimp and the thunderstorms.  The 100th PGA Championship tournament is in St. Louis at the Bellerive Country Club this week.  Not only has traffic been heavy all week, but the Goodyear blimp is in town to provide all the aerial shots of the action.

See all those building cumulus clouds?  It’s almost time to get off the golf course and to bring down the blimp to avoid the heat-induced thunderstorms that are brewing.


We had to drive through some heavy thunderstorms on our way home from the movie.

There’s a bridge just ahead, but the rain is so heavy, you can’t see it.  Ted is driving at creeping speed.

We had to get this close to the bridge to see it.  On a clear day, it’s visible for several miles on the highway.

More thunderstorms are developing in every direction.


There was lots of rain and thunder all around us all the way home from the movie, but Ted is watering our new trees as I write this, because we didn’t get enough rain at our house to cover the bottom of the rain gauge.  Go figure!

Last night’s free outdoor concert featured the St. Charles Municipal Band in Frontier Park on the Missouri River.  It was another beautiful evening to be outdoors listening to music.  Ted and I noticed, however, that the concert skies are getting dark earlier as the season gets later.

The bandstand is on the left and the Missouri River is visible in the upper right.

The crowd was smaller than others we’ve seen and there was hardly anyone younger than 50 except that girl in the lower right.  She probably came with her grandparents.  The red arrow shows Ted; the blue one indicates Kilwin’s.  Read on.


To be truthful, the band wasn’t that good, although there were moments when I thought the band members might have more ability than the music director / conductor gave them credit for.  For starters, his tempos were the pace of a Missouri Synod Lutheran church organist.  The musicians had plenty of time to read their music.  No one danced.  Frankly, I think the Oostburg High School band (an annual first place winner in AA state competitions back in my day) was better.  Still, it was enjoyable to sit and listen.

During the slow times, we could watch the planes land at Lambert Field in St. Louis.  (Look above the bandstand.)

I also had time to notice that, beneath the American flag, the small, dark, fluttering object was not a wind sock, but a tiny Missouri state flag.  They couldn’t find anything bigger??!!

Ted and I were happily surprised to see that a former neighbor of ours plays clarinet in the band, and has done so for 35 years.

Ruth (our former neighbor) was one of the soloists during the Dixieland selections.  After the concert, Ted and I played “groupies” and went up to the bandstand for a brief exchange of family news–hers and ours.


The “concert hostess” who introduced each selection informed the audience that Kilwin’s is a sponsor of the band and if we wanted some ice cream after the concert, Kilwin’s could provide it.  (See the blue arrow in the crowd picture above.)

Ice cream sounded good and we’ve never been to Kilwin’s, so we stopped in after the concert.

It was a good night to join other after-concert ice cream fans on Kilwin’s outdoor patio.  The ice cream was outstanding!  We’ll be back for more.


It was a lovely night on the river banks.  Did I mention that the band’s encore piece was “Down by the Riverside”?

With all the updating Ted and I have done to our yard this summer (a new pool liner, all new outdoor chairs and a glider, party lights, and landscaping), I thought it would be interesting to look at our house over the years.  Here we go . . . .

1979, when we bought the house


1998, nineteen years later


2018, twenty more years later.

Many years ago, Ted and I hired a landscaping company to install weed barrier fabric, mulch, and decorative rock in our yard.  Over the years, the fabric has deteriorated and Ted said he now spends the bulk of his outdoor work time pulling weeds.  Not fun!  It was time for an update, so we called a landscaping company and had them do all the work for us:  remove the current mulch and gravel, dig a spade edge around all of our trees and landscaping areas, lay heavy-duty weed barrier fabric in those areas, and add new mulch and gravel.  We also contracted with them to remove and replace our dying privet hedge.  The results look fresh and beautiful and Ted hasn’t pulled a weed for weeks.

We changed two beds from mulch to lava rock.


The gravel walkways provide drainage from the patio and give us a route (or two) to the back yard.


Paving stones provide a nice shortcut between the new hedge and the burning bushes.


The landscaper suggested borders around the mulch and rock in the pool area and we really like the new look.  These borders and the spade edges help keep the mulch and rock where we want it.


Our mission–and we choose to accept it–is to sit outside and enjoy the new look that required no hard labor on our part.  We love it!

Once upon a time (1979), a couple named Ted and Diane bought a house on a corner lot.  To provide some back yard privacy, Ted and Diane planted sticks of privet bushes (1980), and those bushes grew.  Here’s what Ted and Diane’s privet hedge looked like in 1982.


The privet hedge continued to flourish and provided lots of back yard privacy, as well as a backdrop for special occasion family pictures like Ted and Diane’s 25th wedding anniversary in 1994.


But, as time went on, the hedge got older and wasn’t as resilient as in its younger days.  In 2013, 14 inches of heavy, wet March snow fell in the area overnight.  The following morning, Ted and Diane went outside to brush the snow off their snow-weighted, bent-over bushes.  The younger bushes recovered and grew upward that spring, but the aging privet hedge lacked the resiliency of its youth and remained permanently deformed.  In spite of regular watering and fertilizing, the privet hedge continued to weaken until it could only produce a few leaves each year.


In 2018, Ted and Diane sadly decided to send the nearly 40-year-old privet hedge to the Brush Pile for Aging Bushes, and replaced it with younger, more vigorous trees.


Within two to three years, the new trees will provide more back yard privacy and perhaps a new backdrop for Ted and Diane’s special occasion family pictures.

The End

With the pool getting updated, Ted and I decided that a glider would be a nice replacement for our old patio furniture.  We were surprised to learn that we had to select the fabric we wanted, thus making the purchase a special order, but we were assured it would arrive no later than early June.  This would give us a delivery date well before the kids were coming home for their summer visit, so we placed the order.

Just as predicted, the glider arrived in early June.  Unfortunately, it was damaged and had to be re-ordered.  It was disappointing not to have it for the kids’ visit, but we didn’t want a damaged glider, so we waited.  It finally arrived a few weeks ago, and it’s really nice to glide gently on these summer evenings under our new patio party lights.

Ted’s new car (December) was injured in the parking lot by a hit-and-run driver.


The car is scheduled for restorative surgery in the car hospital (body shop) next Monday.  Can you believe this is a five-day job to repair??!!

One of the nice things about not traveling this summer is that we’ve spent many summer afternoons with Kari and the boys in the pool.   School starts for the boys next week and September (cooler weather) is looming, but it was 90+ degrees today and a perfect day for another afternoon together in the refreshing water.

My photographer friend, Bob, posted a gorgeous picture on Facebook this week.  Wow!  This was one of those “sunny by dark” days when the western sky cleared just before sunset, leaving lots of clouds to produce a beautiful scene.

The mat inside our front door was being mysteriously moved out of place, and Ted and I were wondering if there was a ghost in our house.  Some minor investigative work on our part revealed the identity of the ghost.

Dylan, an artist, thought the mat looked better centered, so he moved it for artistic balance.


Thanks for looking out for us, Dylan.  We’d much rather have you in our house than a ghost.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg heads the Ocean’s 8 team.


Ed. note:  If you get a chance to see the movie “RBG,” do it.  It’s a very interesting biopic about an amazing woman.

This is Emanuel Leutze’s iconic 1851 painting, “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”


Political artist Jon McNaughton, inspired by Leutze’s painting, created his own version of Leutze’s work and titled it “Crossing the Swamp” (below).  McNaughton says he wants President Trump to be remembered for restoring America’s greatness.  In McNaughton’s painting, the water in front of the Capitol is filled with alligators, and President Trump is lighting the way to safety for his soldiers.



Following the release of McNaughton’s painting, social media reacted with mocking parodies, including different people in the boats.



Long live the First Amendment.

Drawn like a moth to a flame.

I had this citronella candle burning while I sat on the patio under the party lights last night.  When I blew out the candle, I noticed the unfortunate moth.

While the kids were home in June, I asked them to go through some of our old photo albums to mark pictures they’d like to keep.  The plan is for me to scan the old photos and put them on a USB drive for each kid.

Going through the photos brought back lots of memories.  One of those memories was that Thom never liked to smile in pictures, as shown in the photos below from the 1994 album.

March 1994–my birthday.  Thom is thrilled to celebrate with me.  I baked my traditional Vienna Torte birthday cake.  Why is the shirt so big???

May 1994–ditto for Thom, except this time, it’s Kari’s 16th birthday.  Isn’t that a pretty princess cake I made for her?  The “16” doll on the left of the cake completed her baby-through-16 doll collection.

June 1994–Thom’s graduation.  It’s another happy day for him.  Does he have an acorn in his cheek?

2017–my birthday.  Thom is a much happier guy now.


I predict more photo memories coming up as I work my way through 12 albums.

In my recent Beach Boys post, I included this photo.

The big screen onstage showed 1960s video clips during the performance.  A vintage car was parked on the right side of the stage.


My brother, Tom, sent me an email with some information about the vintage car.  He said it wasn’t “a ’30 Ford wagon and we call it a woodie,” but might be a “Little deuce coupe / You don’t know what I got.”

Well said, Tom.