What can one do on a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon? When I was cleaning out our game closet, I found “the world’s smallest jigsaw puzzle” (read the box). I decided this was a good day to solve the puzzle. The pastel Easter m&ms Kari gave me for my birthday provide a scale model for the size of the puzzle pieces. The tweezer was included with the puzzle. The box says there are 234 pieces that form a 4″ x 6″ finished picture. Thank goodness it didn’t have 12,000 tiny pieces as described on the prank puzzle box we gave La for Christmas!

Four hours later, there were still 5 m&ms, but I discovered there were only 233 pieces in the box. I must have lost one (second row from the top, right center) the last time I put the puzzle together.

My cousin circulated a photo of the Prange’s store in Sheboygan as it looked “back in the day.” Judging by the cars, this is probably in the 1940s. Everyone from the Sheboygan area remembers Prange’s. It was the largest downtown store and a meeting place to hang out–“I’ll meet you at Prange’s corner.” All those display windows were unveiled on Thanksgiving Day, revealing animated Christmas scenarios featuring carolers, Christmas toys, and a Santa Claus display. It was a tradition to go downtown after Thanksgiving dinner to join the crowd looking at Prange’s windows.

My mom often took me to Prange’s as part of a Friday girls’ night out, leaving my dad at home with my brothers. Mom and I would have supper (that’s the evening meal in Wisconsin-speak) at Prange’s and then we’d shop at Prange’s and at other downtown stores. Those were special evenings that I still treasure. (Name-dropping note: Mom went to high school with the Prange and the Kohler kids. I only knew those names as corporate entities.)

While I’m reminiscing, . . . When we were in Hawai’i, Ted and I saw a photo of Honolulu before it became the hub of activity it is today. Our resort was on Waikiki Beach–the curved shoreline in the foreground of the picture. The beachside walk Ted and I took started beyond the hotel where the beach juts out in the center of the photo, and went deeper into the foreground of the photo. Ahhh, back in the day . . .

My birthday party continues. On March 21, one of my friends took me out to lunch at the Walnut Grill. To help us digest our food, she treated us to a one-hour reflexology session. OMG! We felt so-o-o-o good afterward, that we kept telling each other how good we felt.

On Sunday, March 24, Kari’s family joined Ted and me for a family birthday dinner. Naturally, it featured my favorite birthday cake–Vienna Torte–for which I discovered the bakers’ secret last spring.

I gave Dylan a box of candles and told him to go crazy putting them on the cake. He went for seven candles at full height and one candle at 0.2 height. Result: 7.2 decades. Einstein has nothing on Dylan’s math!

You might be able to tell that the candle flames match the colors of the individual candles. (It was a little easier to see in person.) I didn’t get the candles blown out in a single try, but I made a really good wish, so I hope it comes true anyway.

Kari’s family gave me a bag of Easter pastel m&ms (my favorite m&ms), a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers, and a gift certificate for a mom-daughter lunch with Kari. (It’s behind the photo of tulips.) Awesome!

On Thursday, March 28, I went out with two of my former college staff members, Jeanette and Gail, and they treated me to lunch. We went to Lewis & Clark’s restaurant in Historic St. Charles and had a wonderful time together.

It’s only March 30 today, so the celebration isn’t over yet. Stay tuned for birthday season update(s).

After Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report was submitted, Steven Colbert brought his audience up to date. Here’s Steven’s list of reasons why . . . well, you can read it.

Thanks to Mueller, one reason can be erased.

On the other side of the whiteboard, Steven listed the ongoing investigations of President Trump, . . .

. . . and one of those can be erased as well. Only 16 to go.

As usual, I had a great birthday on the first day of spring. My tulips from Ted are opening nicely, and I’m looking forward to the other three bulbs in the pot blooming soon.

At our Pilates class, the group sang “Happy Birthday” to me. I asked how they knew it was my birthday and the answer was “Facebook.” Even though I’m not active on Facebook, I guess my birthday notification still went out to my FB friends. After class, Ted and I went out to lunch and followed that with a little shopping. I bought myself a birthday present.

For at least two years, when family members asked me for gift ideas, I’ve told them I’d like new speakers for my desktop computer. Mine are so old (25 years?), the rubber on the control dials has deteriorated and become sticky and gummy. Well, that’s not a problem any more.

My new speakers–smaller in size than the old ones and with plastic controls that probably won’t deteriorate for a zillion years.

Next, Ted took me out for dinner tonight. Check the etching on the glasses to see if you can guess which restaurant we picked.

Answer: Maggiano’s Little Italy. Is that what you guessed?

We saw Maggiano’s about six months ago and have been meaning to eat there ever since. We shouldn’t have waited. We had a hard time deciding what to order, even after we narrowed our choices down to four items. Everything was absolutely delicious, and now we can’t wait to go back to try something else from the menu.

Because it was my birthday, the waitress brought us a complimentary dessert–complete with candles.

On our way home from Maggiano’s, the clouds cleared enough for us to see the last supermoon of 2019. Throughout the day, I’ve had cards, texts, emails, and phone calls from family and friends, wishing me a happy birthday. It was a perfect day, as usual, so it’s no wonder I always enjoy my birthday–and the beginning of spring.

Below are two words and their definitions.

Which of the two words do you think the reporter should have used in the following paragraph about the current flooding in the upper Midwest?

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today, so Ted brought me something green. I enjoy his tradition of bringing me a blooming spring plant just before spring actually arrives. It helps me believe that winter is really nearly over.

The official kick-off date for my birthday season this year was Tuesday, March 12. I had a birthday coupon for a free entrée at First Watch, so Ted and I went out to lunch.

I also had a $20 birthday discount coupon for another restaurant, so we went out to dinner this evening. Check the logo etched on the glasses to see if you can name the restaurant.

Answer: Weber Grill. (Groan if you feel you must.)

. . . it’s off to work I go.

Thom and Katie are working hard to launch their new business in the coming weeks. Thom knows I’m good at grammar, so he sent a few things to me and asked me to look them over. I did so, made a few minor comments (I also made sure my children knew good grammar), and offered to review/edit anything he needed checked in the future.

I worked as a writer-editor at the Bureau of the Census when Ted and I were first married and lived in Washington, D.C. My job was to compile the material, compose the text, and prepare the quarterly BoC catalog for print. We did not have personal computers at that time (1970), so all copy had to be typed perfectly, and printer’s marks for every single thing involved in the typesetting (yes, actual setting of type) had to be included for the printer.

Before meeting with the printer, two other writer-editors and I proofread the material together, taking turns reading it aloud. That experience showed me how valuable it is to have someone else’s eyes review your work–especially if that person is unfamiliar with the content. No matter how careful we are, when we read our own writing, we see what we expect to see and we often miss minor errors; when someone else reads it, the chance of catching those errors increases greatly. My intent was to offer a secondary reader’s eyes to Thom and Katie.

Thom told me he’d appreciate it if I would do that, and while we were all at Jeff’s house in February, Thom mentioned to Jeff that he has his first volunteer employee. Jeff didn’t expect to hear that it was me. I had an email from Thom a few days ago with my first official assignment.

My new job has flexible hours (as needed), a nice work environment (home), and good bosses (Thom and Katie). This is so exciting!

My brother Steve sent this so I’ll know what’s going on in the world tonight.

Today was our last day in Hawai’i. We’ve had such a good time and are feeling so relaxed that we hate to leave. At the same time, it will be good to be home again.

The day started with some leftover scattered light showers from last night, which cleared by lunchtime. As usual, we ate lunch at an outdoor restaurant. When the skies clouded over again, we decided it was a good time to print our boarding passes and pack our suitcases so we could go back outside when the sunshine returned. That was a good plan, and it gave us time to spend nearly two hours at our hotel pool. It was another relaxing afternoon.

The resort torch lighters run (yes, run) around the resort about half an hour before sunset, lighting the tiki torches that line the walkways. While we were sitting along a walkway waiting for the torch lighter, I was admiring how beautiful it is here–at the resort and in Hawai’i.

The foliage is beautiful everywhere we look.
The fountains, the palm trees, and the sunlight on some outdoor table umbrellas provided another pretty sight.
The torch lighter was right on time. I took this picture of him lighting one of the tiki torches.
He literally ran on to light the series of torches down the walkway.

After the torch lighting, it was time to return to our balcony to view our final sunset on this perfect vacation.

The sailboats were gathered for the nightly viewing and the cloud bank was above the horizon for a change.

Ted and I enjoyed our Saturday evening dinner at the Bali Restaurant so much, we decided to go there again for our final meal in Hawai’i.

The restaurant advertises its “oceanfront dining,” and this was the ocean view from our table. Our waiter told us we had the best table in the house, and I’m sure we did. What a gorgeous dinner setting!

Our airport pick-up time is 5:25 a.m. tomorrow. Our flight to LAX boards at 7:18 a.m. and we’re scheduled to arrive at STL at 10:36 p.m. local time. It’s been a wonderful week, and we’re looking forward to our next visit to Hawai’i. Next time, we’re going to Maui, because we’ve been told we’re “Maui people.” Aloha, Hawai’i.

As usual, Ted and I chose an outdoor restaurant (not hard to find) for lunch today.

I wish the weather in St. Louis was always this pleasant for outdoor eating.

After lunch, we decided to take a walk on the sidewalk that runs for several miles along the oceanfront. We saw some interesting sights.

This is the sidewalk–right along the beach.
The rules are different at the beach. At this Dairy Queen, it’s “No shoes, no shirt, service.”
It’s a surf-mobile! You can carry one more if you put it underneath the chassis.
On our walk, we learned that the people we see bobbing on the sand bar are taking surfing lessons. The lesson is over and these surfers are heading back to shore.
We had a beautiful view of Diamondhead. It doesn’t look that far away, but it’s about three miles from here to there.
Even getting change at the ABC Store was fun.
When we returned to our room, it was time to sit around the pool for awhile. I took this picture of Ted from our balcony.
We had intermittent rain showers for several hours, so there wasn't any visible sunset to watch today.

We had intermittent rain showers for several hours, so there wasn’t any visible sunset to watch today.

After dinner, Ted and I decided to sit at the outdoor Tapa Bar, listen to the live music, and enjoy some mai tais. Thanks to the rain showers, there was a cool wind and the temperature dropped to 66 degrees,* so we didn’t stay long, but it was fun for a little while and the mai tais were delicious–lots of pineapple, lime, and orange flavor, with some rum for fun. Oh yes, the music was good too.

*On our way to the resort from the airport, our cab driver told us that when the temperature goes below 70 degrees, he starts looking for his boots. I hope he found them today.

Tonight we went to the resort’s Starlight Luau. The event was on a rooftop, but it was cloudy and not starlit. There was no refund for that, however, so the show went on.

Here we are, ready to luau.
The buffet had many local Hawai’ian selections and everthing was delicious. This time, Ted was brave enough to try the purple poi dinner rolls.
The master of ceremonies gave us directions for the buffet procedures, introduced the performers, and even sang. I kept thinking of Don Ho, although Don was much better.

A rectangular piece of cloth about one yard wide and two yards long can be wrapped and knotted in a variety of ways to create at least eight different garments for men and women that range from swimsuits to semi-formal wear (in the tropics, not in New York City). The models showed us the results of the various wrapping and knotting techniques. Amazingly, the cloth rectangles are for sale in the resort shops.

The performers showed us dances from each of the six Polynesian nations: Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand, Fiji, and Hawai’i. The colors of their clothing indicate which country they represent, but I can never remember which is which. The first picture below is Hawai’i. I remember that because “Don Ho” told us the hula is found only in Hawai’i and the women’s skirts are not made of grass; they’re made of tapa leaves.

The highlight of the luau was definitely the fire dancers. Before performing, they hung protective netting around the stage to prevent audience injuries in case one of the fire swords went astray. Ted and I have seen fire dancers before, but this was the first time we saw a pyramid-type dance formation.

We had a very enjoyable evening. The food was good, and the performance was fun. On our way back to our room, we had an added bonus.

We came upon an open garage door with a large figure inside the storage area.
Apparently, there are times the resort needs a huge sumo wrestler figure as a prop.

In Hawai’i, the fun never ends.

Today, Ted and I went to the top of Diamondhead. This is the most popular hiking trail in the state of Hawai’i. It’s 0.8 miles one way and rises 560 feet in elevation, beginning on a paved state park sidewalk, but quickly giving way to a worn, lava rock trail and stairs.

We’re heading for the high point in the center of this photo. If you zoom your screen, you’ll discover blurry objects that resemble people at the top.
Here’s Ted on our way up. You can see people and the cut trail above him.
This is a good view of the Diamondhead crater. Before it started raining in the distance, we could see Molokai in the upper right.
This is what we walked on most of the way.
We paused for a moment to enjoy the views before making the final push to join the crowd at the top.
Just in case we didn’t notice that there’s nowhere higher to go but into the sky, the sign tells us we’re at the end of the trail.
Here’s Honolulu from the peak of Diamondhead. The arrow on the left points to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The arrow on the right points to our hotel tower (one of eight) at our resort.
The views from the top are magnificent.
I think I can see New Zealand on the horizon. We’ll be there next December.
The hike up wasn’t bad, but going down was easier.
We enjoyed every minute of our time on Diamondhead this morning.

What did we do today in Hawai’i? Actually, not much of anything, and it was wonderful!

As we have every morning of our visit, Ted and I sat on our balcony sipping hot chocolate and coffee and admiring the view. We both enjoy the way the ocean’s color changes with the distance from shore and the depth of the water.

Just above the trees, you can see a brownish tinge in the water. There’s a good-sized sandbar out there and a lot of people stand on it and bob up and down with the waves.

After awhile, we got hungry and went to lunch. While we were eating, the restaurant manager came over to our table to tell us he could not only see, but “feel” that Ted and I were very much “in sync” with each other and that it was a “beautiful thing.” He also told us that the next time we come to Hawai’i, we should spend our time on Maui because we are “definitely Maui people”–whatever that means. Obviously, we are so relaxed, it shows.

After lunch, we spent a big chunk of the afternoon in our bathing suits on the beach and in the ocean water. I didn’t want to leave my camera/phone unattended onshore while we were in the water, so I don’t have any pictures of this. (No great loss for my readers.)

Then it was time to watch the sun set. It’s weird, but the sky has some cumulus clouds overhead most of the day with a clear horizon. Every day, however, as sunset approaches, a cloud bank appears on the western horizon and partially obscures the setting sun just before it drops behind the ocean. It happened again today.

Except for the clouds on the horizon, the sky was perfectly clear.

We had dinner reservations at the resort’s four-star restaurant, which had a dress code of “beach casual.” The sign asks for no swimwear, shorts, tank tops, or flip-flops, with collared shirts and closed-toe shoes preferred. We learned on our last visit to Hawai’i that an aloha shirt is considered dressy and an aloha shirt with a lei counts as formal, so Ted wore one of his aloha shirts. I wore casual pants (not jeans) and a nice top, but I only brought sandals for shoes, so I wore open-toed shoes and was admitted without any comment from the hostess. The man at the table beside ours was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, but I think he was the only one to seriously test the guidelines. The food and service were outstanding and we ranked them as the second-best we’ve ever had. (The best was in Taos, NM on our Fall 2017 trip to the Southwest.)

Here’s Ted and the view from our window table. It’s an open-air restaurant (of course!) so there is no outside wall–only a very nice ocean view and a soft, warm breeze every now and then.

And that was it for today–lunch, beach time, and dinner. Yes, we’re really relaxed.

Ted and I have reached a state of complete relaxation, and it feels wonderful. With no specific daily plans and no “at home” tasks to do, we’re just enjoying ourselves moment by moment. Today we took a walk in the downtown area, discovered we can watch the sunset from our balcony, went to the resort’s Friday night fireworks show, and finished the day with some ice cream.

We saw this mural while we were walking this afternoon.
Here’s today’s sunset as seen from our balcony.

The resort has a ten-minute fireworks show on Waikiki Beach every Friday evening, beginning at 7:45 p.m. I’m positive they shot off an hour’s worth of fireworks during those ten minutes–the bangs were less than a second apart and the sky was ablaze with color for the entire show. The crowd was huge. Ted and I aren’t official crowd estimators, but we’re certain there were more than a thousand people sitting on the beach for the show, and that’s not counting those who watched from their hotel balconies.

The crowd is gathering for the fireworks show.

After the show, the restaurants had a second rush. (The first rush was just after the 6:36 p.m. sunset.) It was a beautiful night to eat outdoors. As usual.

When the fireworks crowd left the beach, several young men arrived and played with fire.

Ted and I went out for ice cream. This girl is making the waffle cones and bowls. She just rolled the waffle cone on the countertop and is reaching for a paper holder for it. These are fresh waffle cones!

We found some chairs and enjoyed the tropical evening air while we ate our ice cream. It was another relaxing day, and I’m looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.