I had an appointment with my oncologist this morning to get the results of last week’s CT scan. He told me there has been no change in the two small “suspicious” areas since my October 2018 scan six months ago. What a relief! I have a number of benign cysts scattered around my body, and I’m beginning to believe these two areas are simply previously undetected benign cysts. I have two more CT scans in my future–August and November– before the one-year anniversary of my surgery, but I think that six months without change allows me to say, with some degree of confidence, that I had cancer.

Ted and I went out to lunch to celebrate after my oncology appointment, and then we met with our travel agent to finalize some details of our upcoming July and December overseas trips. The travel agent has a calendar on her desk that perfectly described my day.

Remember those down-filled swimsuits I saw in an Eddie Bauer ad? One of my select readers (Thom) tactfully mentioned to me that, in recent years, a lot of companies publish spoof ads on April 1, just for the fun of it. Duh! I’m so literal-minded, I didn’t even think about what day it was when I saw that ad!

How do you spell gullible?

April 14 was the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I saw a series of photos of the event and, although the pictures were interesting, I was amazed at the number of errors I saw in the captions. This was one of the most obvious ones.

The second sentence has one subject and two verb clauses. The subject of the sentence is “RMS Carpathia” and the verbs are “transported” and “were met.” The RMS Carpathia were met”???? No, it “was met.” Aaarrrggghh! I’m hoping the error was the fault of Wikimedia and not the Library of Congress.

It’s spring, so it’s thunderstorm season in the Midwest. USA Today had a video of unusual upside-down lightning. It actually grows upward instead of striking downward. Wow! I wish I had seen that!

For my birthday, Kathy and Annette gave me a jar of Cherry Man jumbo maraschino cherries. They are available at the Hy-Vee grocery store in Kirksville and are the biggest cherries I’ve ever seen. I measured one and it was a little more than an inch in diameter, so only 14 cherries fit in this 12-ounce jar.

Around the lid, the directions tell me to: (1) Open jar; (2) Remove one cherry; (3) Put in Mouth; (4) Chew (yum!); and (5) Repeat. Ted and I did.

Given the number of beautiful redbud trees in full bloom this week, I’ve concluded that nearly everyone in the St. Louis area planted at least one redbud tree in their yard. (We used to have three, but two died.)

I’ve always been fascinated by a certain redbud tree up the street from us. In all the years we’ve lived here, it continues to thrive in its own style. Most redbud trees have a “normal” tree shape with an upright trunk and spreading branches, but not this one. Today, I officially designated this nonconformist tree as the winner of my “Most Interesting Redbud Tree” award. (There is no cash prize.)

Ever since Sputnik was launched, I’ve been interested in space, and I wish I either: (1) had enough money to buy a ticket now for the first flight to the moon; or (2) would live long enough to be able to afford a ticket to the moon. Meanwhile, I get excited about photos from deep space, the latest of which was the first photo of a black hole.

That’s awesome! Literally awe-some. On a lighter note, here’s another depiction of a black hole.

Ted and I went to lunch at St. Louis Bread Co. this week. A number of years ago, when we were in the Seattle area visiting Thom, Ted and I went to lunch at Panera Bread while Thom was at work, and we remarked on how similar to St. Louis Bread Co. it was. A little research at the time taught me that Panera Bread bought St. Louis Bread Co., which explained the similarity. The original company, founded in Kirkwood, MO (a western suburb of St. Louis) continues to operate over 100 sites in the St. Louis area under its original name of St. Louis Bread Co.

In the St. Louis area, we call it “BreadCo.”

I love to see all the blooming trees in the spring. It makes every road I drive a pretty sight. It also makes our yard beautiful.

We have another magnolia like this beside the driveway. They bloom beautifully, but they’re as eager for spring as I am and usually get hit by one more frost. Thank goodness, this year was an exception, so we could enjoy the blooms longer.
The sand cherry bushes around the pool fence are in full bloom now.
This is our redbud tree in bloom and two of three of a different variety of magnolias in our back yard that are just beginning to bloom.
The front yard magnolia and this cherry tree are my favorites.

Spring. It’s my favorite season, and I’m loving it!

I went out to lunch with my group of retired SCC friends today and enjoyed more birthday wishes at a new restaurant across the street from the college: the Mellow Mushroom (pizza). It was pretty good, and I would definitely go back.

The redbuds, dogwoods, and Bradford pear trees are all blooming now, so Ted and I planned to have my birthday dinner at Bentley’s tomorrow. When I got home from lunch, Ted mentioned that it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but the weather and the blooming trees were perfect for a drive to Bentley’s at the Lake of the Ozarks today. We’re retired, so we changed our plans. Ted filled the car with gas and we set out on the 2.5-hour drive.

We had a beautiful drive and a delicious dinner, with a surprising conversational thread. When the waitress brought our entrĂ©es, she asked if we wanted extra butter for the baked potatoes. We said “yes” and I was remarking to Ted how much I enjoy lots of butter on a hot, baked potato when I overheard a man at the table on our right ask for more butter. The waitress’s response was, “You can never have too much butter.” Within moments, the people at the table on our left also asked for more butter. The man told the waitress to “just bring the cow.”

As Julie says in the movie Julie and Julia, “Is there anything better than butter?”

I think I’m almost finished celebrating my 2019 birthday.

While the girls were here, someone looked at the kitchen floor and said, “Is that a puzzle piece?” It was! It was the missing piece from the tiny puzzle I put together about a week ago. Ted and I swept and scrubbed the kitchen floor just a few days ago and didn’t see a puzzle piece. My best guess is that it was stuck between the seat cushion and the chair frame and finally worked its way out.

It took sharp eyes to see this one-quarter-inch puzzle piece. If you didn’t know it was there, you might not even notice it in this picture.

Kathy and Annette came for a Saturday-Sunday weekend to celebrate Kathy’s (April 26) and my (March 20) birthdays together. Of course, Kari’s family joined us. (That’s what’s so great about having at least one of our children living nearby.) Thanks to all the outdoor work Ted and I did last week, we thoroughly enjoyed the near-80-degree temperatures.

The weather was beautiful for sitting on the patio in the afternoons.
Teddy killed time between his turns to play by making T’s with his Settlers game pieces.
We had dinner at Red Robin, where Kari and I shared a margarita.
After dinner, we sat around the firebowl, enjoying the warm weather, the clean pool, the clean concrete, the freshly-washed yard lights, and the party lights. We enjoyed the fire too.
Then it was time for cake–one for each of us. Dylan, the candlemeister, got things ready. He gave us one candle per decade of our ages.
Two birthday girls. At this point, neither Kathy nor I knew what was going to happen next. Read on.
In spite of doing our best, after two tries, I only blew out four candles, and Kathy’s score was still zero.
After four tries, all seven of my candles are out, but none of Kathy’s is. Are these trick candles, or what?
Finally! It’s time to cut the cakes.
There were birthday gifts for Kathy . . . (Check out the cute photo-bomber in the background.)
. . . and birthday gifts for me too.
Kari and the boys spent the night at our house. The boys were assigned to the three convertible beds in the basement. I threw all the pillows from those beds onto the futon. Teddy thought it might be fun to sleep under the pillows instead of in his sleeping bag.
After more outdoor time Sunday afternoon and dinner Sunday evening, Ted and I were alone again. Our time with the girls’ families went by too fast! About an hour after Kathy and Annette left, we had a light sprinkle of rain and a beautiful rainbow to end our co-birthday weekend. Perfect!

I saw an Eddie Bauer ad for thermal swimsuits. Ted and I don’t swim in our pool after early or mid-October (depending on the weather) because, even with heated water, the air is really chilly when we leave the water. I don’t think an insulated swimsuit will help my exposed skin, so I’m pretty sure I won’t be one of the delighted swimsuit buyers who must get into that alpine lake for an icy polar plunge.

This has been a busy week for Ted and me. We’ve been working hard to welcome spring to our yard.


We went to our Pilates class this morning to get some exercise. In retrospect, we’d have had plenty of exercise without the class today. The pool crew is coming tomorrow to open our pool for the season, so we needed to take off the cover, clean it, and pack it away until the crew puts it back on in the fall.

We tried something new with our pool last fall. We had a different pool crew last spring and, when they saw all the algae in our pool, they told us algae doesn’t grow in water colder than 60 degrees. (Why didn’t anybody tell us that ten years ago when we installed the pool?!) To test this theory, we waited an extra month to close the pool last fall, and are opening it a month earlier than usual this spring so that the water temperature was below 60 degrees all the while it was covered.

This is what the pool water looked like last year—and every other year—when we opened it. It usually took us 5-6 days to get it cleaned up for swimming.
This is how the pool water looked when we removed the cover this week. The pool crew told us sunlight filtering through the pool cover stimulated this minor algae growth.

With the cover off the pool, it was time for me to fire up the pressure washer to clean the winter dirt off our concrete. Bad news. Our two-year-old power washer leaked water out of every orifice–even where it didn’t look like there should be water. The only place it didn’t send water was through the hose, so we diagnosed a faulty pump–which we already replaced once under the warranty. We’ve had nothing but problems every time we tried to use this power washer, so we threw up our hands, then got in the car and bought a new one–a different brand.

We got the new power washer set up and then I finally got to work in the driveway. That was our first priority because we needed a large, clean surface to spread out the pool cover for cleaning.

I power wash the winter dirt off the driveway. Then Ted and I spread out the pool cover, wash one side, let it dry, flip it, wash the other side, let it dry, and pack it up. It’s heavy enough and awkward enough to require two people to handle it.

Since the pool guys are coming tomorrow, the pool deck was next on my power washing list.

Here I am, working hard while the pool cover is drying.
It’s easy to see where I’ve cleaned and where I need to clean.
At least you can tell I’m making a difference.

While I was busy doing all of the above, Ted took my car to the dealership for my airbag replacement. When he got home, he kept the power washer filled with gas for me, hung the party lights and the wind chimes over the patio, hand-washed every one of our two dozen solar lights, replaced the two dozen batteries in the lights, and re-set them around the pool and the patio. By then it was 7:00 p.m. and we were hungry.

Squeet! (Wisconsinese for “Let’s go eat.”)


Today I finished power washing the rest of our concrete while Ted took the spring things out of the storage shed, cleaned the inside and outside of the shed, and made room for the winter things. When he had all the lawn furniture on my newly-washed patio, we worked together to wash off the furniture and put it in place.

It’s beginning to look and feel like spring in our back yard.

After I was finished spattering dirty water over everything, Ted wiped down the pool fence and put the winter things in the storage shed. We finished just in time to sit poolside in the clean lawn chairs on the clean pool deck for about 15 minutes before the 7:38 p.m. sunset.

The pool, outdoor lights, and furniture are ready for the weekend.


You’d think we retired people worked enough this week to get a day off, but it’s going to rain tomorrow, so that didn’t happen.

Ted’s list of jobs today included mowing the lawn, washing the back windows that got spattered by my power washing yesterday, planting grass seed in the bare spots to catch tomorrow’s rain, replacing the storm doors with the screen doors, and cleaning up the fireplace.

Ted is finished mowing.

The pool guys swept the pool yesterday to loosen the algae so the pump could remove it. My job today was to vacuum the debris that settled on the pool floor. After that, I swept the pool once more to loosen the remaining bits of stubborn algae so they will get pumped out. I’ll have to vacuum again tomorrow to pick up the remaining minor debris.

One more vacuuming tomorrow should finish cleaning the pool. That will be only two days’ work instead of the usual 5-7 days to get it clean. We’ll stick with our new system of covering and opening the pool in cooler weather.

My other jobs today were to trim back the roses (we should have done that in February), to take the flannel sheets off our bed, and to make a batch of Scotcheroos for the weekend. We finished early today: 6:00 p.m.

Yes, it’s beginning to look like spring in our yard.


It rained all day today, so we didn’t get the pool vacuumed. Instead, we vacuumed in the house. Kathy and Annette are coming this weekend to celebrate Kathy’s (April 26) and my (March 20) birthdays. Kari’s family will join us.

It was a good day to clean and do laundry, since we couldn’t work outside anyway. There was a lot of cleaning and a lot of laundry to do, so it wasn’t a day off, but it was less physically demanding than the last three days have been.

Tomorrow, Ted is going to vacuum the pool while I make birthday cakes–funfetti angel food cake for Kathy; Vienna Torte (again! whoopee!) for me. After that, I think Ted and I get a break–just in time for weekend fun with the girls and their families.


All finished.

The pool is vacuumed and the birthday cakes are ready to eat.

Tomorrow: Party time!

On “The Late Show, ” Steven Colbert reported that an Italian firm has designed stand-up airplane seats.

Colbert pointed out that, if you’re standing up, it’s not a seat.

He added that the only remaining way to cram more people on an airplane would be to put everyone in a pile. Do you think first class would be on the top, or would they get on first, like they do now?

The good thing about the pile? No seat belts needed.

As I was scrolling through the pictures in my camera, I came to this one and couldn’t figure out what it was.

It finally occurred to me: While I was working outside yesterday, I was wearing my red jacket and I had my phone in my jacket pocket. This is literally a “pocket photo.”

In June 2014, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA–pronounced “NIT-sah” according to Google), issued a recall of Takata airbags that were installed by 19 different automakers, including Lexus. The airbags exploded spontaneously, resulting in injury or death to the drivers and/or passengers in the vehicles. In fact, owners of the affected vehicles were warned not to drive their cars at all unless they were on their way to the dealer for a replacement airbag. For owners who were afraid to drive their cars, dealers offered car pick-up service.

The recall is currently estimated to affect more than 41.6 million vehicles–including mine–and is the largest recall in U.S. history. Naturally, there weren’t enough replacement parts for all the cars that needed new airbags, so cars were prioritized by risk factors. The greatest risk of explosion seems to result from humidity, high temperatures, and age of the vehicle. My turn for an airbag replacement came this spring–almost five years after the original recall–so I guess my risk level was low.

Ted took my car to the dealer and came home with a 2019 Lexus RX 350 as a loaner. Wow! No wonder there are so many of those on the road! It was unbelievably smooth to drive and had an even smoother ride. Just to tease Ted about his car, I told him it made my current Lexus feel like a Honda. My car is a sporty model–the IS-C, which stands for Intelligent Sport-Convertible. It has a “sporty” ride, which lets me “feel the road” a little more. Translation: It’s not as smooth as the Lexus RX crossover or the Lexus sedans. (But even so, Ted admits that it rides much smoother than his Honda.)

It was a dream to drive the RX for 48 hours, but it’s too big for me. I’ve got my eye on a Lexus RC (Racing Coupe) when I get tired of my IS-C. The problem: I looked at one in the showroom when I picked up my car today, and the base price was $64K. The one on display had lots of extras and hit $84K. I better start saving my pennies.

The RX-350 is almost exactly the size of Ted’s Honda CR-V.
Two cars this size really filled the garage. I’m going to stick with driving something smaller.