My Aunt Ruth spends a lot of time on the internet and finds a lot of funny cartoons. I enjoy seeing and sharing them. Read on, smile, and maybe even laugh out loud.

Here are some COVID-themed smiles.

Correction: That “tiger” is a heifer, not a cow (not fully grown, no udder) but I guess the photographer didn’t know the difference. Here’s some non-COVID humor.

I saved the best for last. This is my favorite.

Kari generously shares the fruits of her garden with us, usually in one of her produce bags. She said she bought the bags at the grocery store and uses them when she buys produce, rather than putting it in a store-provided plastic bag. I thought it would be great to have bags of my own, but I couldn’t find them at the grocery stores. Enter online shopping. The bags just arrived and I’m a happy customer.

USA Today reported that a pilot from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) was using a drone to map shoreline erosion on Lake Michigan when he began having reception problems. He pressed the button to recall the drone and his video feed showed the $950 drone coming back to him when its propeller suddenly came off and the drone dropped from 22 mph to 10 mph before plummeting into the lake.

The pilot spotted the culprit: a bald eagle “flying from the scene of the crime.” The motive for the attack is unknown, but the leading theories are territorial disputes and hunger. EGLE reported there is little that can be done legally about the attack because the Michigan Department of Natural Resources “has no mechanism or authority to issue corrective action notices against wildlife.” The good news is that Michigan has a thriving bald eagle population. There were only 79 nesting sites in the 1970s. That number grew to 849 in 2019.

The pilot was unable to find the fallen drone, and reported it is “resting comfortably” on the bottom of the lake. State Representative Beau LaFave tweeted the following:

Ted and I finally went more than 20 miles from home! Yippie! We drove to Kirksville to spend a day with Kathy and Annette. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we had a nice drive and a wonderful day together.

We had lunch at the house and then headed for Santa Fe Lake and spent the afternoon there. There were a few other people at the lake, but they were all watching their children play in the sandy beach area and on the raft which has a great slide. Splash!

Later in the afternoon, a group came to celebrate a birthday in the pavilion. We saw them cutting and passing the cake around, but they didn’t offer any to us.

Annette and Ted took the first turn paddling the kayak around the lake. It was about a 45-minute circuit, but the timing depends on the paddlers’ moods. Shall we just stop and admire this view for awhile? Shall we follow the shoreline all the way or cut across this little cove?

Luckily, there was a lookout posted to spot Kathy and me when we returned to the pier.

Annette pulled us up on the shore to stabilize the kayak before we climbed out.

The girls packed an ice chest full of snacks. We all agreed that for some unknown reason, being on the water always makes us hungry. There was plenty of food, so no one had to go hungry. Whew!

We had a pizza dinner at the house and some more visiting time, before Ted and I headed home. After being home for six months, it was wonderful to escape for a day!

I thought I was finished with my Family Mask Project, but it returned due to popular demand. Jeff saw my blog post about the masks I’ve made and asked if I’d make some for him, La, and Kyra. Well, of course I will!

I bought some more fabric, got approval from Jeff’s family for six of the seven fabrics I chose, and went to work.

The results? See below.

Today, as Ted and I were biking on the Katy Trail, my bicycle odometer turned to 1,000 miles.

That’s 1,000 miles since I got the bike on August 28, 2019. My next goal: 1,000 miles in 2020. I have only 364 miles to go.

I’ve had bikes on my mind (see previous posts)–probably because Ted and I have been biking so much during the past six months of our COVID-limited activities. Our recent bike activity reminded me that Ted and I have always biked, and I remembered a picture from October 1972. Jeff is eight months old and is already a bicycling veteran. After Kathy was born the following spring and was able to sit, we bought a matching baby bike seat for her and mounted it on my bike.

Compared to today’s baby bike seats and baby bike helmets, this doesn’t look very safe, does it? No helmet for Ted (or me) at that time either.

I made a few face masks for Ted and me and for Kathy, Annette, Kari, and Teddy in early April. In mid-June, when COVID-19 case numbers started spiking following the Memorial Day holiday, it became apparent that we’d be needing face masks for more than a few weeks. I decided to embark on a Family Mask Project as my contribution to fighting COVID-19. My previous recipients were happy to have me make more masks for them so they wouldn’t have to wash theirs so frequently.

Finding fabric was never a problem, but I couldn’t find interfacing, thread, or elastic in April and had to use what I had in stock at home. I had a large box of leftover thread from previous sewing projects, two yards of sheerweight interfacing, and a few yards of elastic on hand. When the elastic ran out, I substituted wide rubber bands for ear bands. The number of masks I made was limited to the yardage of interfacing I had. By late June, the supply chain was catching up to demand. I found elastic and interfacing online, bought some more fabric, and returned to my box of leftover thread.

I love my project room. I extended my table to its full length and spread out my supplies and work area. It was handy to leave everything in place between sewing sessions and not have to pick up the mess because I needed the space.

See how handy the ironing board is to the table? One day, I reached across the ironing board to place an ironed mask on the table and bumped my inner left arm on the iron. Ouch! According to the internet, irons reach 400 degrees. It was a bad burn, but is healing well. After that, every time I picked up the iron–even weeks later–the burned spot actually tingled in fear of repeating that experience.

I bought a variety of fabric patterns, sent photos of swatches, and asked everyone to make their choices.

My total mask output from April through today was 92 masks. Ted’s and mine are already put away and some of Kari’s family supply has been delivered. These additional masks are ready for distribution. Sky and Dylan chose black; Kari and Teddy have the blue piles; and the other two piles are for Kathy and Annette. I’ll deliver those when we visit Kirksville August 22.

I enjoyed having a sewing project and I really got to know my new (?) sewing machine. The machine is three years old, but I’ve used it mostly for minor mending. The Family Mask Project taught me that my sewing machine has some very nice features. I’ll have to think of other things to sew so that I can use it more often.

As Ted and I left for an evening bike ride, we noticed a thundershower (TRW) east of our neighborhood. The anvil cloud was stunning.

Simon Cowell fell off his ebike and made national headlines, including a public warning from the NBC Nightly News anchor. Because “elderly people” (ask people over 60 how they feel about that term) make up a large part of the ebike market, we were warned to “be very careful,” because ebikes go “10-15 mph faster than regular bicycles.”

Say what??!! Ted’s and my ebikes don’t go faster than our regular bikes. They only go as fast as we pedal. The pedal-assist feature on our bikes makes climbing hills easier, but if we don’t pedal, we don’t go.

When I went to the bike shop to pick up my replacement bike bag I asked Brad about the NBC News warning. He pointed out that there’s a difference between a no-pedal throttle-control ebike and our pedal-assist ebikes. Brad said pedal-assist ebikes “require effort to go 20 mph” and I agree. (Not counting downhill.) My research on ebikes revealed that they don’t require an effort great enough to train for extreme bicycling, but they provide a good workout, especially since ebike riders tend to ride farther and more often than regular bicycle riders.

I don’t think Ted and I need to worry about exceeding the legal speed limits on our ebikes.


Author’s note: The “elderly” (age 60) Simon Cowell was riding a throttle-control ebike. On that type of ebike, the rider either twists or squeezes the throttle and the bike takes off. Throttle-control ebikes can go up to 60 mph. No pedaling is required. Cowell might have expected more of a bicycle experience than a motor scooter experience and was caught off-guard. Unfortunately, his injuries were serious and required six hours of surgery and the placement of a rod in his back.

If not, too bad. The worldwide bicycle shortage is apparently a long way from over.

Ted and I went to the bike shop today to have Brad, the owner, look at my bike bag. The lining on the main top pocket regularly gets stuck in the zipper teeth. It was a relatively expensive bag and it looks like I might get a replacement. Brad said he’d get back to me on that by Monday.

While I was waiting for Brad to finish with another customer, I talked with Tony and I asked him how many bikes they have for sale now. Tony pointed to a small collection of bikes in a corner of the showroom–a few e-bikes and a few kids’ bikes–and then waved his arm over the rest of the showroom. “All of these other bikes you see,” he said, “are here for repair.” He told me people are raiding their basements, garages, and attics to find old bikes they can fix because the wait time for a new bike is so long.

These are some of the bikes waiting for repairs. Note that the line of bikes along the window wall is two rows high.

When I asked Tony what the wait time is for a new bike right now, he laughed / snorted and reached for a handful of papers. He had eight sheets of 45 names per page of people who are waiting for a test ride on a bicycle. Each line on the page includes the customer’s name, contact information, and the bicycle model the customer wants to test ride. When that model becomes available, the first customer on the list wanting that bike will be able to test ride it to see if he / she likes it enough to buy it. Wow!

Tony wasn’t finished. He went over to the counter, picked up a copy of the August 1-2, 2020 Wall Street Journal and showed it to me. The article mentions that it can take a bicycle mechanic an entire day to earn the equivalent of the profit on a single high-end bicycle sale. Also, repair shops are running out of parts and there is a weekslong backlog for repairs.

Ted and I are so-o-o-o glad we bought our bicycles last August!

Ted and I rode the Katy twice this week: once to the north from St. Charles and once to the west from Defiance. The Katy Trail follows the railroad track of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, and my always-active mind wondered why it’s called the Katy instead of the MKT. I checked online, where all questions are answered. Yes, it was the MKT Railroad, but the Kansas-Texas division of the railroad used “KT” as its stock exchange symbol, and KT soon evolved into the nickname “the Katy.” Now we know, so back to the bike rides.

Katy to the north

In the past, we’ve only biked a few miles north of St. Charles. Our goal this time was to ride to the beginning of the trail at Machens, 12.6 miles, according to our trail map. We almost made it.

We started at Frontier Park in St. Charles.

Thanks to COVID-19, there was a warning sign at the park. I guess it’s a sign of the times. (I know. Bad pun.)

We continued on our way. The trail wasn’t crowded, but after leaving St. Charles 2-3 miles behind us, we met fewer than a dozen other bicylists the rest of the way.

The river views were scarce, but still beautiful. Since we were biking toward the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and since St. Charles County is very narrow at this point, we wondered if this was the Missouri River or the Mississippi River. How can you tell without a map? Answer: Check the direction of the flow. Even after living here for 47 years, it still seems wrong to me that the Missouri River flows north. The Mississippi River does the “right” thing and flows south. The water in this picture is flowing north.

I love this house, especially the center window wall.

Was this a picture-perfect day for a bike ride? Absolutely!

We biked through lots of heavily shaded areas on the trail. After one such area, the trail curved and had a short rise. Suddenly, we were riding in the open on top of the levee. It was a little bit exciting to find ourselves almost instantly elevated above the corn.

We saw lots of water lilies in a tributary of the river. You can see beds of water lilies all the way to the distant curve of the tributary.

The farther we biked, the less frequently-traveled the trail became. It started to look more like a country driveway than a biking trail.

One family had a raft in their little river tributary. It brought back childhood memories of swimming in Wisconsin’s inland lakes. All the lakes with a public swimming beach had a raft and we always said, “Let’s swim out to the raft.” It was a perfect place to sit, sunbathe, or jump/dive into the water.

When we reached Black Walnut, we knew we were only three miles from our destination of Machens at the beginning of the trail.

And then we were abruptly stopped.

With only a little more than two miles to go, trail maintenance workers had closed the trail. We’ll give them some time to finish their work, but we still want to make it to Machens so we can say we went all the way to the beginning of the Katy Trail. That’s a plan for another day.

Katy to the west

The weather has been cool all week, and definitely unusual for August in Missouri. The normal high temperature is 89 degrees, but we had highs in the upper 70s plus low humidity for several days. We needed another long bike ride.

We enjoyed our recent bike ride from Defiance westward so much that we wanted to do it again. Not to mention that we were disappointed we didn’t make it all the way to Dutzow last time. We thought it was about seven more miles one way, but found out later it was only two miles from where we stopped and turned back. Let’s do it!

It was another pretty day and another pretty bike ride.

We passed Augusta again. All the highlights of the town are listed on the blue sign, but the sign is at the bottom of a steep hill and the crossroad at the top of the hill goes upward even more to the right. We need to check out Augusta a little more before we decide to tour it by bicycle.

Wildflowers were blooming along the trail.

This time, we made it all the way to Dutzow–16.2 miles one way. Mission accomplished!

Next week is expected to be hot and humid again, but Ted and I have several trail rides planned for the next set of cooler days.