The severe thunderstorm that struck our area a few days ago destroyed our pool toy storage shed, so we had to buy a new one. Assembling the new shed provided us with an afternoon outdoor project in beautiful weather, so it was (mostly) fun.

The basic shed assembly wasn’t too tough. There were eight pieces: a floor, two side panels, two back panels, a roof, and two doors. I like putting things together and Ted is a Master Assistant when I’m working on stuff. He let me do most of the assembly work while he handed me tools like a surgical aide and held pieces in place while I joined them together.

Everything was pretty straightforward except attaching the doors and finishing the roof. The black metal hinges on the doors (photo below) snapped into place and then required a bolt through each hinge for extra security. With one of us working on each door, I think Ted and I spent more than 45 minutes trying to get those 6 bolts screwed into place. We managed to get the top and bottom ones in tightly, but eventually gave up on the middle ones. It looked and felt like the metal exit holes for the bolts were smaller than the diameter of the bolts. We could see the ends of the bolts in the holes, but we couldn’t make the bolt threads turn their way through those holes. We finally made an executive decision to let the top and bottom bolts do the heavy hinge work on the doors and to let the snapped-in-place middle hinges go along for the ride.

It was easy to snap the roof onto the two hinges on the back panel, but we wondered what would prevent the front of the roof from blowing upward in a breeze. The pictures and directions for finishing the roof were confusing, but we finally figured out how to position the steel support bar in the surface maze of the roof. The roof locking piece was more of a mystery. Eventually, we found a place on the roof where it would fit and a notch on the side panel that would hold it and lock the front of the roof to the top of the side panel. Now it won’t flap up and down in the wind.

With everything feeling secure and looking good, we put the shed on our flat dolly, wheeled it into place, and added the pool toys.

All set! It looks good and it’s guaranteed for 10 years. We had a good run of 11 years on the old shed, which is now at the recycle center, preparing for its next life.

While we’re here, look at how the storage shed fits into the corner of the chimney and the house. The storm winds pulled the old shed out of this nook, ripped off the padlocked doors, turned the shed around, flipped it over, and threw it into the open area in the right center of the picture, all while keeping the pool toys inside. Mother Nature is a crafty old gal!

Today we learned that we have a second granddaughter. Thom and Katie presented us with Hadley Rose, who is 20½ inches long and weighs 9 lb. 6 oz. She looks just like her dad did when he was born (lower photo).

Welcome, Hadley. We can’t wait to see you and hold you.

Ted and I have lived in the Midwest nearly all of our lives, so it’s a given that we’ve headed for cover in the basement several times when weather radar and warnings indicated a tornado was dangerously close to us. Having said that, Ted and I agreed that the thunderstorm we had this weekend was the worst we’ve ever experienced. The NWS issued a severe thunderstorm warning (no tornado watches or warnings) and we experienced the worst of the storm. The red marker for St. Peters is about two miles from our house. The darkest / most severe section of the storm cell is headed directly toward us.

During the heaviest rainfall, we couldn’t see the houses across the street from us. It looked like dense fog outside our windows. By the time I got my camera, the rain had let up a bit, but it was still heavy. Wind gusts were 70+ mph. It seemed like the wind was blowing rain against the windows from every direction. The wind blew the rain in sheets and small waves down the street. We watched a beach ball blow past our house. Afterward, I asked our neighbors if it was their ball and Karen said no, they’d watched it blow past their house as well. There are three more neighbors with swimming pools uphill from us, and I guess one of them lost a beach ball.

Three of our gutters have underground drains to central areas of the yard; one drains onto a sidewalk. Water was coming out of that gutter like a gusher. Kari said all three of her rain barrels quickly filled. We have a hill behind our house and the street in front of our house slopes as well, so we had a considerable amount of run-off in our back yard. The water in the lower left is moving downhill to the left like a rushing river.

After the storm, neighbors started coming outside to assess damage, to talk about the storm, and to start cleaning up the mess. Everyone looked a little bit shell-shocked at how strong the storm had been.

Our damage was minimal. We have a vertical two-door storage cabinet against the house, tucked into a corner formed by the house and the exterior of the fireplace chimney. We store pool stuff in the cabinet–kickboards, noodles, balls, mats, etc. The wind ripped the padlock off the cabinet door latches, picked up the cabinet, ripped off both doors, turned the cabinet 180 degrees, flipped it over, and threw it into the back yard in a single pile. Except for one kickboard, the pool paraphernalia was still inside the cabinet.

We (and everyone else) also had a lot of tree litter and broken branches in our yard. In some places nearby, the street looked like it was carpeted in green. Ted picked up the bigger branches–the largest had a nearly 3-inch diameter–and I raked up the litter. Then Ted collected my piles in his wheelbarrow and added five loads of tree litter to the branches he’d already thrown on our brush pile. He’s going to have to get out his wood chipper when things dry out.

The neighbors across the street from our driveway weren’t quite as lucky as we were. A mature tree in their yard was broken by the wind and will need to be removed. Fortunately, it fell alongside the house and not into the bedroom windows or onto the roof. Within a half mile of our house in both directions, Ted and I counted 4 mature trees blown down by the wind and 18 homes with major (4″-12″) limbs broken off the trees. Amazingly, none of the trees or large limbs caused visible damage to homes or cars. We apparently have very considerate trees in our neighborhood.

It took Ted and me about two hours to clean up our yard. The next day, we went to Home Depot and bought Ted a Father’s Day gift.

The photo below is a screenshot of an ad that appears when I play my free Solitaire game online. Read the text carefully. It was probably written by a right-brained (creative/artistic) person who cannot “match three.” Or spell.

Ted and I celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary quietly. We remarked that it’s a good thing we were married in 1969 instead of 1970 because we had a great weekend with our entire family to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2019. If we’d been married just one year later, the COVID quarantines and restrictions would have meant canceling our celebration.

This time, we started our anniversary party a day early, when Kari, Dylan, and Teddy came over to our house to swim. It was a perfect day for swimming–the temperature was in the upper 80s and the humidity was low. The water temperature was 86 degrees, thanks to the warm weather we’ve had all week.

It was fun to swim, then get into the hot tub (we’ve lowered that water temperature for the summer), and then get back into the cooler pool.

After about two hours in the water, it was time for a game of sheephead. Dylan came prepared with a deck of cards and Kari brought The Chips (inherited from Grandma Sch). Teddy won the first hand and already has three additional chips on his pile. Ted was playing too, but stepped back to take the pictures.

The following day, on our real anniversary, we didn’t do any jobs around the house or yard. It was fun to have a “play day” when we only did what we felt like doing. Since the CDC says it’s now safe for fully vaccinated people to eat indoors at a restaurant, we went out for dinner–something we haven’t done for 15 months. Still being COVID cautious since new cases in our area are rising right now (post-Memorial Day weekend), we went after the peak dinner time. The “experience” of eating indoors at a restaurant was fun. We each ordered a glass of wine and toasted each other to the next 52 years together.

When we got back home, we lit our anniversary candle, enjoyed a piece of the Bissinger’s ohh-la-la chocolate that we bought as a gift to ourselves, and watched a Netflix movie.

Today, Ted and I decided we felt like biking the Katy Trail from St. Charles to Machens, so we did. Machens is the eastern terminus of the Katy and we’ve been there before, but it’s a nice ride. We biked 25 miles round trip–just enough for today. The weather was perfect and there were wildflowers blooming for miles along the trail. We met very few other bikers, so it was a quiet ride and we could bike side-by-side nearly all the time.

When we arrived in Machens, there were several other people there. Since it’s the terminus, people at Machens always ask “Where did you come from?” Today, there were three of us who started in St. Charles and one man who started in Clinton, MO, the western terminus of the Katy. We all compared notes on how much of the Katy we’ve covered. Ted and I have bikes 67 miles of the trail. One man who has taken the train westward, then biked eastward toward home, reviewed all the places the train stops along the Katy. You may bring your bike on the train, but they only allow four bikes and the bike has to be a regular size two-wheel bicycle–no three-wheelers, trailers, etc. There’s apparently very limited bike storage space on the train. As a result, it’s necessary to make a reservation and buy your ticket about a week before you plan to go.

The man who biked from Clinton started riding two days ago and finished the 237 miles by 2:30 p.m. today while we were there. He described the Katy as a “Missouri gem” and said he was really impressed with the maintenance and the condition of the trail all the way. His wife drove the support vehicle. She followed him on the highways, brought him lunch, picked him up at the end of the day, transported everything except his daily trail necessities, and arranged for overnight accommodations, When she heard we are from St. Peters, she said she’d been shopping there earlier this afternoon before she had to leave to meet her husband at Machens. I took a celebratory picture of the two of them with his dusty bicycle.

Ted took a picture of me at the Machens stop before we left for a good ride back to St. Charles.

When we got home, we cleaned the dust off our bikes, had a light dinner, then relaxed in the hot tub before getting into the pool. Next: a Saturday date night Netflix movie with fresh strawberry sundaes.

I wanted to title this post C12H22O11, but couldn’t get the subscripts into the title line. Just in case you’re not up on your compound formula knowledge, that’s the formula for Sucrose, a local bakery that uses Su as its logo, as if it’s listed on the periodic table. Last Christmas, Kari’s family gave Ted and me a gift certificate to Sucrose and we finally used it. It was definitely worth the wait.

I was expecting to order something like a jelly doughnut or a long john, but Sucrose is not that kind of bakery. They do have some cupcakes and cookies, and they offer some breads on Saturdays, but the main feature is irresistible desserts. We chose to spend the gift certificate on some chocolate raspberry mousse (served in molded chocolate cups) and some fruit tarts–a simple name for an elaborate offering.

We’ll be going back soon to try some of their other desserts. Thank you, Kari’s family, for introducing us to this bakery.

I just finished reading Kristin Hannah’s book The Four Winds. It’s a really good fictional account of one family’s struggle during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The sections of the book are indicated by the year of the narrative and a quotation related to that year. Sadly, FDR’s statement in 1934 is true today.

The author’s note at the end of the book states that she started writing this book in 2017 and finished it in May 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. The Dust Bowl was the worst environmental disaster in United States history and included a collapse of the economy and massive unemployment. “Never in my wildest dreams,” Hannah writes, “did I imagine that the Great Depression would become so relevant in our modern lives. . . . In the end, it is our idealism and our courage and our commitment to one another–what we have in common–that will save us.”

I’ve been searching the internet for a hamburger bun recipe. What I really wish I could make are Wisconsin hard rolls. In this case, “Hard” does not equal “stale.” Wisconsin hard rolls are made without eggs and they’re crusty on the top.

I couldn’t find that (secret?) Wisconsin recipe, so I decided to settle for something that would produce rolls that were firm but not dry, and light but not mushy. Based on the ingredients, I found a recipe I thought might be pretty good and I tried it. The recipe is called “Beautiful Burger Buns” and they are.

They’re light, they taste good, and they don’t disintegrate if you add a juicy pickle or some sauce. Yummy!

P.S. I’m still going to stock up on hard rolls whenever we visit Wisconsin.

I saw this truck while I was stopped at a red light. I can’t imagine why the owner / driver needs spikes on the front wheels, unless Q ordered it for a James Bond sidekick who drives a pickup truck. Those spikes look lethal.

It’s been a cool, wet spring around here. Normal high temperatures should be in the 80s by now–and every now and then we actually get a day in the 80s. I’m such a sucker, I fall for it every time and say, “Spring is probably here for real now,” and then the temperatures drop into the upper 50s and lower 60s for highs, and the rains return. This will be one of those years that we go from winter to summer–suddenly it will be hot every day without the gradual warming of March, April, and May. The April 20 frost finished off all the spring-blooming trees, but the rain we’ve been getting has been good for the summer flowers. Our yard is looking flower-y cheerful these days.

The roses have been blooming for a few days, but I had to wait for the rain to stop to take pictures. The knockout roses are looking good.

The carpet roses are bushier than usual–maybe thanks to the rain.

This group of roses was gorgeous about five days ago but, again, I had to wait for the rain to stop to get a decent picture.

The poolside dahlias are becoming bushy.

The day lilies will bloom all summer, but the first blooming always has the most flowers at one time.

My favorites are the hibiscus tree and the marigolds. I love seeing these while I’m working at the kitchen sink.

The snapdragons will provide a variety of color in front of the hydrangea bush, which will bloom in two or three weeks.

Maybe it takes winter to make the spring and summer colors look so good. I’m loving it.