This afternoon, I was looking for a form that I knew I printed, but couldn’t find, so I had to rummage through my inbox files to see if it was there. That’s where I throw stuff from my desktop if I don’t want to deal with it immediately, which meant I’d be cleaning out my inbox clutter. I don’t clean the boxes often, but I always find something interesting when I do. Today it was old photos of my siblings and me.

1952 when I had only two brothers. That’s Denny (3) on the left and me (5) restraining Steve (1). I remember those halter tops.
I have three brothers in summer 1956. It looks like we’re ready for bedtime prayers and no, we didn’t all sleep in the same bed.
Late summer 1956, before Russ was born in October. I’m holding/wearing a vintage 1940s Kodak Brownie Reflex Synchro model camera, handed down from my mom. Denny is apparently the geek, with his shorts pulled up high; Steve is the cool one, with the rubber sunglasses (you could pop the lenses out) and the Hawai’ian shirt.
Here’s baby Russ! It’s Winter 1956 and the three boys are in matching pj’s. Mom bought yardage and made all their pj’s from the same pattern and the same fabric. Russ and I might also match–I can’t tell for sure.
Winter 1956 again. Tom, Denny, and Steve are in the back; I’m holding Russ in the front. Steve’s baby picture is on the end table in the corner.
1958. I loved that dress! It was a two-piece, very in-style chemise. I wore it to the 4-H awards ceremony and had my picture in the local paper for being named the outstanding 10-year-old girl in the county. I’m wearing my gold 4-H award pin.
Fall of 1962. In the old days, before gender equality, I had to help Mom at home in the summer and on Saturdays, and the boys had to work with Dad at his Allis-Chalmers dealership and maintenance shop. Check out Steve’s “barn” lunch box and Denny’s more modern square one with the shorter, squat, wide-mouth Thermos that stood along the side instead of resting in the lid. I don’t recognize the people on Tom’s lunchbox, but I’ll bet he remembers who they were.
1963. We’re growing up. Steve (12), Tom (11), and Denny (14) are in the back and Russ (7) and I (16) are in the front. Mom spread out my skirt so it would look nice in the picture. My high school boyfriend liked that red dress, but I can’t believe those glasses were in style!
1967. We’re starting to leave the nest. It’s Denny’s high school baccalaureate evening and I’ve finished my sophomore year at UW-Madison.
July 2004. This is the most recent picture I have of the four of us–Tom, Steve, me, and Russ.
Denny died in 1977. The framed photo on the bookshelf is Kari and Dean holding Sky, their first baby.

Just for fun, here’s one more picture I found. It’s a sibling picture of my dad and his three brothers (he also had two sisters). My mom noted on the back of the photo that “They are singing some song they made up.” Dad’s given name was Wilton, but he was called Pete; Ken’s nickname was Beanie; Harold was always Arch (middle name Archibald); and Bob would answer to Duck. Don’t ask; that’s just how it was. Ken and Arch are still living in Wisconsin and are in their 90s.

Probably sometime in the 1950s. Left to right, it’s Pete, Beanie, Arch, and Duck.

Tonight I finally had time to play with my Christmas toy. For many years, Thom and I have exchanged a small Christmas Lego set. I don’t remember exactly when we started doing this but, given the number of Christmas Lego sets I’ve received from him, it was a long time ago.

Here I am, building my 2018 Christmas Lego set from Thom.
Note: Look at the red bell on the Christmas tree in the lower left corner of the photo. This was a childhood ornament of mine. My mother passed it on to me after I had my own home and my own Christmas tree. Two of my brothers also had bells like this. One was red like mine and the other was silver.

When Thom and I started our Lego exchange, the sets were sold at the check-out counter. They were small, wrapped in a cellophane envelope, had about 15-20 pieces, and cost $5.00 or less.

These are two of the early Lego sets I received from Thom. The candle and the elf were separate sets, so I received them in two different years.

Lego has evolved over the years and the pieces have become very specialized. In addition, a lot of people apparently like the Christmas Lego idea, so the individual holiday pieces have become multi-figured scenarios. They now sell for a lot more than $5.00 per set.

This is my completed 2018 Christmas Lego scenario. Compare it to the simple individual pieces in the photo above. There’s a big difference!

Every year, I enjoy selecting a new Christmas Lego set for Thom and I look forward to the one he sends me. Thank you, Thom. I love our Christmas Lego tradition.

It was a dark but pleasant evening. After dinner, I felt like taking a walk and working off some energy. Kathy offered to walk with me, and we had a very enjoyable walk and talk. Soon after we got home, I reached up to remove my necklace and discovered that the chain had broken and the pendant was gone. Surely someone at the dinner table would have noticed that the two ends of the chain were hanging down from my neck, unconnected and without a pendant. Since that didn’t happen, it seemed likely the 52-year-old chain had broken in some mysterious way while Kathy and I were walking.

I thought there was little chance of finding a pendant that’s only a half-inch in diameter in the dark, so I decided to retrace my 1.5-mile route in the morning. Between evening and morning, the overnight rain in the forecast could wash the small pendant down a sewer drain; a vehicle could drive over it and damage it; someone else could find it and pick it up; etc., etc. The pendant was a birthday gift from a man I dated during my freshman year of college and it had my birthstone (aquamarine) mounted on it. It wasn’t valuable, but I always liked it, I wore it frequently, and it gave me joy. I didn’t expect to find it, but it was worth a try.

In the morning light, Kathy, Annette, and I started walking, keeping our eyes on the road and scanning the concrete for my pendant. After a little more than a mile, I spotted my pendant lying face-up and undamaged in a hollow spot on the road surface. I shouted, “There it is!” and the three of us went into happy mode. We were all surprised but grateful that our hunt was successful.

Today I bought a new chain for the pendant and I wore it home from the jewelry store. It gives me joy again.

We had some weather excitement today: a wake low. I wouldn’t have known a thing about it if I hadn’t watched the TV weather report while I ate my lunch.

I learned that a wake low is a very special meteorological phenomenon, because: (1) only modern weather technology has made it possible to detect wake lows; and (2) they have been observed only in the Mississippi River valley (us), Florida, and the Great Plains.

A wake low occurs when there is a small low pressure area behind (i.e., in the wake of) a squall line, which is under a higher pressure area. As the squall line passes over low-level warm air, the air behind it cools (rain-cooled air). A wake low forms as a result of a unique rate at which the rain warms and cools the air, combined with a unique pressure difference between the high and low pressure areas above and behind the squall line. An identifying characteristic of a wake low is strong winds.

For those who didn’t see the noon weather report and therefore didn’t know we had a wake low, that means we had strong winds gusting at 50+ mph this morning in St. Charles County (us) and northern St. Louis County (Lambert airport), resulting in flight delays, some downed trees, and minor property damage. We didn’t have downed trees or property damage at our house, but we did have property movement.

This is our normal winter placement of four lawn chairs that we leave outside for sunny afternoons and firebowl evenings.
This is the wake low placement of our chairs this morning. Three of them found new positions.

I can’t believe it: I have my own internet domain! This is so cool, technology-wise, and I’m easily excited about getting and working with new technology! I was excited in the 1970s when I bought my own electric typewriter, and again in the early 1980s when our family had one of the first Apple IIe computers. The thrill continues. In 2016, I bought a tech device Jeff hadn’t even heard of (because he didn’t need it), and last September, I changed a command in the root drive. Now I have my own domain name. I’m a hip, tech-savvy baby boomer (with Jeff’s help).

Readers, take note:

If you want to continue reading my blog, as of today, it is at In case the string of consonants appears confusing, think “doctor d” and take out the vowels. Doctord, drd, and docdi were already taken. There must be people just like me out there, because I had the same issue with my personalized license plate which is also DCTR D for the same reason.

Now, the background story. Jeff has generously been allowing me to post my blog on his domain, but he is going to retire that address in August. As a result, he had to select a new domain for his own blog, personal email, etc. and so did I.

I offer thanks to Jeff for setting up my new domain and for making everything work so that, for a transitional period, if you go to, you will automatically be re-directed to my new domain. This will be true until August when ceases to exist, so if my few (think “select group”) readers want to keep reading my musings, change your bookmark for this blog.

As I told Jeff, I probably could have done this myself . . . with step-by-step instructions and phone support from him. For Jeff, who has all kinds of domains, it’s no big deal, but I never expected to need or have my own domain name. Thanks, Jeff, for keeping me cool!

Kari’s family opened their gifts at home this morning and then came to our house in the early afternoon to join Kathy, Annette, Ted, and me to open more gifts.

Dylan created two new games to give as his gifts to us and to Kathy / Annette.
Dylan was excited about his new pocket watch. It’s gorgeous, but challenging. There is no battery–you have to wind it; it’s analog, not digital; and the hours are shown in Roman numerals. Dylan is confident he can handle these challenges.
Teddy found happiness in two new pigs and a pig nose.

Ted and I saw some prank gift boxes while we were Christmas shopping. We immediately knew two people who “needed” them. Annette was the recipient of a Roto Wipe (box).

Note that this device is Number 1 in #1 and #2’s.
It’s ranked with 5 stars, beating out the car wash sprayer (3 stars) and the elm/maple leaf (1 star).
The mini version is even portable!

The other lucky (?) recipient of a prank box was Laralee, who enjoys jigsaw puzzles.

Only 12,000 pieces. The shiny box made a reflection in my camera lens. The entire sky is really a single shade of blue.
The 12,000 pieces are micro size (1/4″, according to the box) and require a tweezer (included) to place them in the puzzle.
If you like this puzzle, here are four more to enjoy. Again, each puzzle was a single color, without shading. (I need a better camera.) My personal favorite is “Summer Night Sky” with the two stars shining in the blackness.

Of course, the boxes did not represent the real gifts inside, although we included a small jigsaw puzzle to make Laralee’s box sound more authentic. After all the gifts were opened, it was time for a snack.

Well, if we must . . . .

Merry Christmas to all!

The St. Charles Christmas parade was so much fun last year that we–Kathy and Annette, Kari’s family, and me (Ted wasn’t feeling well)–decided to go again this year. Last year, the weather was very cold and blustery, and there was snow on the ground. We were more comfortable this year with sunshine and a temperature in the low 50s. We started the afternoon with lunch at Pizza Hut, which is always a hit with Kari’s boys. After that, we headed to Main Street for the parade. Perfect timing–we had five minutes to select a good viewing spot before the parade leaders came into view.

Since pictures of the period characters in the parade look very similar from year to year, I decided to “people watch” instead.

Yes, the carolers are colorful, but check out the guy in the red and white striped jacket on the right.

This family must be related to Mr. Burst. They came in their Christmas pajamas.
We were near the end of the parade route (closest to the riverfront for the Santa send-off), so we were among the last people the parade marchers saw. A number of them gave a thumbs-up to the lady with the camera for having the tackiest Christmas sweater along the route. It was covered with large Christmas lights that flashed.

Santa and Mrs. Claus in their horse-drawn carriage are the last people in the parade. The parade-watchers fall in behind Santa and follow him to the bandstand at the riverfront.

We were in the middle of the crowd, so this shows about half of the attendance. Santa was in a hurry this year. He’s usually the last item on the short program agenda, but this year, he was first. If you look closely, you can see his red suit in the bandstand and he’s already saying farewell to the crowd.
By the time we arrived at the park gates, Santa and Mrs. Claus were in their carriage, leaving to go home to pack the children’s gifts for Santa to deliver tonight.

The parade and send-off were finished, so we went shopping in a few of the Main Street stores. Fun, fun, fun!

Ted started feeling a little bit sick on Saturday, December 22, the day before Kathy and Annette arrived for Christmas. He is still running a low-grade fever today, so he wasn’t able to go the St. Charles Christmas parade with the rest of us–Kathy, Annette, Kari’s family, and me. He doesn’t have much energy and feels achy. He should be feeling fine by the time our family Christmas is over and the girls have returned to their homes.

Symbolic picture of how Ted is feeling.

Kathy and Annette arrived today for their Christmas visit, and Kari joined us for dinner after her shift at the skating rink.  Kathy and Annette brought unstuffed pepper soup and a salad for the main course, I made a cherry pie for dessert, and Kari brought cookies and candy she and the boys made for the holidays.

Kari and I previously decided we didn’t want so many cookies and so much candy this year.  We agreed that we’d each make a full batch of two specific cookies we enjoy (cherry and chocolate freezer cookies for me; cut-out cookies and scotcheroos for her) and we’d each make a batch of the single candy we most enjoy (bon bons for me; turtles for her). Together, we’d divide the batches to increase our individual variety and to share the bounty with Kathy and Annette.  We didn’t know that Kathy and Annette were also going to make some cookies and candy to share with us.

The pepper soup and the salad were delicious, but they paled in comparison to the desserts we had available after dinner!

Here’s the Christmas cherry pie I made with Door County cherries from Wisconsin and Ted’s mom’s cherry pie recipe.

The table groaned when we covered it with the cookie and candy selections.  There were so many choices, and every one of them was tempting.

In November, when the St. Louis area was hit by a 4-7″ snowfall (depending on where you live), I posted a front-page St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo of Mr. Burst , shoveling his driveway in his bathrobe.  I was surprised Mr. Burst didn’t even take time to put on his pants before going out into the cold.

I was even more surprised to see today’s paper.  In a special section titled “The Year in Pictures,” Mr. Burst made the front page again.  The November photo of Mr. Burst was used as the cover shot for the special section.  What a guy!


Ted and I spent ten months of 2018 looking forward to our six-week trip to Bali, Australia, and New Zealand.  In preparation for leaving on November 26, we did our Christmas shopping and gift wrapping in October, had a few holiday lights strung in the front yard by early November, and had selected a lot of the summer clothes we planned to pack . . . when we learned we would be canceling the trip.

I experienced some digestive problems for most of the year and was hospitalized for the problem in June.  The symptoms continued to worsen, which led to the inevitable series of specialists and tests, culminating with three specialists agreeing that my best option for a long-term solution was surgery.  I was given the choice to delay the surgery until after the trip, but I knew I wouldn’t enjoy myself and it seemed foolish to spend the money on the trip, only to spend my time in pain in my room or in a foreign hospital.  Ted and I decided to cancel the trip, and we filed the travel insurance claims for a full refund.  We plan to re-schedule the same trip for next winter.

None of the doctors knew exactly what the surgeon would discover, which was a little scary to me.  Not knowing what to expect, Ted and I put our travel plans on hold but agreed that, depending on what kind of follow-up treatment I needed, our “consolation prize” for canceling the six-week Bali-Australia-New Zealand trip would be a shorter trip to Hawai’i as soon as I was well enough to travel.  The surgery went well and my recovery is progressing as predicted by the doctors, so Ted and I sat down last night to book our Hawai’ian getaway.

Unfortunately, it quickly became obvious that if we want to go to Hawai’i during the Missouri winter, we need to book our flights months, not weeks, in advance.  We planned to use our frequent flier miles to go back and forth and found that, except for a single first-class flight, the only remaining seats require an overnight stay between the connecting flights in both directions.  (No airlines go directly from St. Louis to Hawai’i.)  We have the miles we need to fly business class, but neither of us has enough frequent flier miles to go first class.  As he put the travel books back on the bookshelf, Ted sadly remarked that “Maybe it’s a sign we should stay home this winter.”


Last week I had a holiday lunch date with four retired women friends from the college.  Today, I had a lunch date with two other retired women friends from the college.  These two were both on my staff.

Jeanette was the first person I hired to help with the administrative work in my department.  Until then, the Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) program was a one-woman show presided over by me.  Over the years, Jeanette and I became close friends.  We work in such similar ways and think along such similar lines that other people sometimes said Jeanette and I shared a brain.

As time went on, the AEL program grew in size and, several years after I hired Jeanette, I hired Gail to work as a lead GED teacher.  She and I share an almost identical teaching philosophy, based mainly on “What’s the best thing to do to benefit the students?”  We always worked well together and, in addition to being co-workers, we, too, became very good friends over the years.

The three of us enjoy getting together regularly for lunch and have been doing so for several years.  This time, before we left the restaurant, Jeanette said, “We need a picture,” so we did the selfie thing.  Here we are:  three good friends.

L->R:  Jeanette, me, Gail

Last night, Ted and I went to Teddy’s first orchestra concert.  To anyone without a loved one in the orchestra, it wasn’t much different from Sky’s and Dylan’s concerts in previous years.  For us, though, there was a grandchild change and an instrument change.  Sky and Dylan both played cello, but Teddy is learning to play the viola.

Ted and I arrived 10-15 minutes before the concert began, knowing that Kari was saving us seats with her family.  We would have arrived earlier, but the orchestra must have a bumper crop of musicians compared to previous years.  Traffic was backed up about a half-mile to enter the school property.  When we finally reached the parking lots, we joined many other attendees trolling the lots in search of empty parking spaces.

Even the auditorium was packed, with the bleachers filled to capacity and staff members scrambling to set up folding chairs around the margins of the gym.  Kari had seats saved for us, but another lady pushed Kari’s coats aside and sat down.  When Kari mentioned she was holding two places, the lady said, “Well, we only need one more,” and then that person sat down, leaving no room for Ted and me.  We joined the rest of the overflow crowd on folding chairs (which were probably more comfortable than the bleachers).  The photo below shows our view of the concert.  About a dozen people were even farther back than we were.  The sixth grade orchestra is partially visible.  Teddy is seated with the fifth grade orchestra on the other end of the gym.


Ted walked to the other end of the room and managed to get a photo that showed Teddy playing his viola.  Follow the red arrow to Teddy’s adorable curly hair.  If you could follow the other red arrow far enough, you could see me sitting on a folding chair, waiting for Ted to return.  Notice the other people on folding chairs along both walls.


Kari’s family joined us after the concert and we exchanged greetings and hugs with all the family and took a better picture of Teddy with his viola.


Ted and I love these concerts and we’re already looking forward to the spring performance.  We plan to be there earlier to avoid the unexpected parking and seating issues.