I recently sewed a fall runner for our dining room table. The directions told me to make 16 of each type of leaf, so I did, but I decided I didn’t need a runner that long. Because I already had the extra leaves, my choices were to (1) throw them away; (2) make a smaller table centerpiece for the kitchen table; or (3) make a centerpiece and give it to someone else. I chose (3). I’m celebrating a friend’s birthday with her this week. She has a smaller table than I do and she decorates with lots of fall colors, so I decided to give it to her for her birthday.

Here’s my table runner.

This is the smaller centerpiece I made with the leftover leaves.

Now it’s time to work on another project. Will it be something new or will I work on the project I hoped to finish by February 2021 (first paragraph of the link) and haven’t touched for almost a year? Time will tell.

We run a dehumidifier in the basement over the summer to keep the concrete walls and floor nice and dry in the St. Louis humidity. About ten days ago, we received a letter informing us that the dehumidifier we’ve been happily running 24/7 for six consecutive summers could unexpectedly burst into flame. We qualified for a settlement equal to half the price of the dehumidifier. To claim the money, I had to submit the usual information–name, email address, model and serial number, etc. as well as a photo of the dehumidifier showing the specification sticker, model number, serial number, my name, the date of the photo, and evidence that I had cut the power cord on the device.

I emailed that information to the specified address on (see below) October 17. Today, only seven days later, a check for close to $150 arrived in the mail. That’s the fastest re-imbursement I’ve ever experienced! We’ll buy a new dehumidifier next spring, but we already have half the cost of it covered by this refund. Whoopee!

Fall is coming and the leaves on the trees are beginning to change their colors. I used to love looking at our sugar maple tree in the fall, but since I can’t do that any more, I have to settle for looking at Larry’s sugar maple tree across the street. A mature sugar maple stood where you see a small tree on the right, but it died the year after ours did and, like us, Larry had it cut down, then replaced it with a new tree.

After a nice stretch of warm weather (mid- and upper 70s), our thermometer topped out at 87 degrees today. The official high was a few degrees lower, but we live here, not at the airport. Tomorrow’s high is supposed to be somewhere in the 50s–quite a change. To celebrate this last day of summer-like weather, the flowers in our yard put on a showy display of blooms.

Ignore the deadheads on the rosebushes and just admire the blooms. The plants are going to succumb to frost pretty soon, and we’ll have to cut the roses back, so deadheading at this time of the year is low on the to-do list. Here are the knockout roses and two beds of carpet roses. Mind you, it’s almost Hallowe’en and these bushes are putting out blooms as if it’s late June.

The hibiscus tree has given us anywhere from 1-10 fresh blooms every day all summer. (The flowers only last one day.) Today, it had seven blooms–again, just as if October = summer. Check out all the buds that haven’t opened yet. Will they make it before the temperature drops to freezing? The whitish edges on the flowers prove that it’s fall. That effect has been increasing as the daylight has been decreasing. Apparently, tropical flowers depend on a lot of daylight to look their best.

I’m not one of those people who gets all excited about fall, pumpkin spice, and sweater weather. In fact, I’m getting ready to count down to the first day of spring, but meanwhile, today’s weather was awesome!

I’ve been having some occasional pain in my right knee for several months–nothing serious, and nothing long-lasting. And then . . . while Ted and I were busy getting things ready for Julian’s visit, I had a sharp, extremely painful spike of pain in my knee that lasted about an hour. I had a second similar spike three weeks later. After checking with Dr. Online, I decided I probably damaged the meniscus in some way and, given the pain level, I should probably see a doctor. I expected him to tell me either: (1) I’d have to take it easy for a number of weeks to let the injury heal; or (2) I’d need surgery to repair the meniscus.

I made an appointment, the doctor ordered an x-ray, I told him my theory, and he said, “That would be a good theory–if you had a meniscus. Unfortunately, your knee is bone-on-bone.” Gulp! This is how bone-on-bone looks. Yessir! Those bones are definitely touching each other.

I thought I’d better change my plans from resting my knee to replacing my knee. Let’s just say I wasn’t happy about the idea. But wait! Modern medicine can inject a lubricating cushion into the knee joint. I’ll be getting a series of three injections, given one week apart and I will most likely have relief from the pain in the first week and for up to six months. I was so excited about avoiding surgery and a painful rehab period that I didn’t ask about repeat injections after six months, but I’m holding that thought.

The exterior of the entire first floor of our house, as well as our beehive-style chimney, is made of antique bricks. (Antique = recovered from a torn-down structure.) Ted and I like the look of the antique bricks, but they’ve been here for 42 years and we noticed there are some bricks in the chimney that appeared to be loose, as well as some on the house that have broken edges from weathering. We called Mr. T, our chimney sweeper, and asked him to check things out and to do whatever tuckpointing is necessary. He replaced the loose bricks in the chimney about a week ago. After an entire week, I happened to look upward to the roofline and saw something on the roof ridge. It’s on the right end of the ridge.

Ted got out his ladder, climbed up on the roof, and removed the half-full can of diet 7-Up. Way to go, Ted!

Last summer, as we biked and biked and biked through the neighboring subdivisions, Ted and I noticed that quite a few homes have planting borders by Curb Appeal. We talked to some of the homeowners and they were all very pleased with the work they had done. In spring, we went to Curb Appeal, made our selections, and signed a contract to have the work done. John, the manager, said they would schedule us when our concrete work was completed because the curbs butt up to the concrete edges in some places and it’s easier to do them last. The concrete work wasn’t finished until September 23, so Curb Appeal scheduled us for the prep work October 1 and installation the following week. It was an interesting process to watch.

Prepping meant cutting away the sod where the curbs would be laid.


There’s a machine in one of the trucks that mixes the concrete blend. Then it gets dumped into the yellow wheelbarrows you can see in the photo below and taken to where it’s needed. Those wheelbarrows have a little motor (you can see it on the wheelbarrow in the photo above) that is engaged by a lever on the handle. I bet that makes it a lot easier to haul concrete around! One guy shovels the mix into the curbing machine (below) and the machine operator (John) works backward as the machine releases and forms the curbing. The machine also lays two lines of rebar within the curbing as it moves.

After the curbing is laid, the finishing guy smooths it out and gently sweeps off the scraps.

The next step is to cover the curbing with release.

Then the finishing guy takes a roller with a pattern on it and rolls it over the curbing, first in one direction, then in the opposite direction, to create a pattern on the finished curb.

The expansion joints are cut about two inches deep on three sides–front, top, and inside edges.

Then the excess release is blown off. This mess isn’t bad at all. Check the following picture to see how much dust the concrete crew raised.

The guys did a nice clean-up job, raking the lawn and picking up the stray crumbs of concrete from inside the curbing as well.

The final step is to spray a sealant on the curbing and to tape off the area to avoid anyone stepping on it while it dries.


When John was here for his final check before beginning the prep work, I mentioned that we didn’t realize we needed a sidewalk from the hot tub to the existing sidewalk at the house until the concrete job was finished and we walked around the hot tub. We can go around the hot tub, a pergola post, and the patio furniture (four turns) to reach the existing sidewalk, but a direct route toward the driveway/garage (no turns) would be much nicer. John said they also lay stepping stones. We checked out his displays and decided that would be even nicer than a regular sidewalk, so John marked where the stones would be placed.

To keep the stones at ground level, the ground had to be dug out along the lines John marked. Then he re-marked the edges for a reason unknown to me.

John (right) and Trevor (left) placed heavy-duty plastic in each hole where a stone would be poured. Then the guy in the center brought the motorized wheelbarrows over and shoveled the concrete mix onto the plastic in the holes. John and Trevor moved the concrete around to fill the holes completely and flattened the tops to ground level.

Trevor sprinkled release on the stones and then pressed a stamp on each one to give it a stone-like texture. When he finished, John used a little blow-torch to melt the excess plastic away from the edges of the stones. I guess, in theory, we could dig down a few inches and lift the stones out of their plastic beds.

Of course, the excess release had to be blown away. Of course, we had to clean the excess dust off the surrounding concrete, furniture, etc. It wasn’t nearly as awful as the clean-up after the concrete work.

Just like the curbing, the last step was to spray sealant on the stones and to tape off the area.

We really like the results and have been getting a lot of compliments from passers-by on how nice the concrete and the curbing look.

This area (curbing around the trees in the left center and around the arbor vitae hedge on the right) looks even nicer now because the grass has come in and the stepping stones are surrounded by green. They provide a great shortcut from the storage shed and the hot tub to the driveway and the garage. That’s one more home improvement job checked off the list.

See a performance at the Fox Theatre. One of Julian’s reasons for coming to St. Louis at this time was to see a performance by comedian Bill Burr at the Fox Theatre. Julian is not accustomed to living in the suburbs, so his plan was to simply take public transportation from our house to the Fox. That would be great–if the @#$%&! voters in our county had not voted down public transportation many years ago. We lent Julian one of our cars to drive to the Fox. He wanted a Steak ‘n’ Shake fix while he was here and decided to stop at Steak ‘n’ Shake for a carry-out dinner (no dine-in available) to eat on his way to the program. He enjoyed the performance–and the dinner–and surprised us by being back at our house by 10:30–long before his curfew. (Just kidding.)

Take bicycle rides. Kari left her bike at our house for Julian to use at will. In return, he adjusted her derailleur for her. It was a good deal for both parties. In addition to our bike ride on the Dardenne Greenway, Julian and I biked through the surrounding neighborhoods and he biked some of the St. Peters bike trails with Kari, as well as going out on his own.

Swim. Julian has always enjoyed our backyard swimming pool. Unfortunately, he had some follow-up surgery on his trampoline-injured knee just a week before arriving at our house and wasn’t supposed to soak the wounds in water. He couldn’t resist the pool, however, so he decided to try waterproof bandages. He tested them and they seemed to work fine, making it possible for him to use the pool after all.

Have pizza/calzones; play games. Saturday’s dinner was pizza for Ted and me and a Calzone for Julian. In the evening, we decided to play a game. Julian selected Phase 10, a card game he’d never played. He won on his first try. Unfortunately for him, he tried to figure out my strategy as I took the lead in the next game (I followed him in the play order). In frustration, he mentioned that he just couldn’t see what strategy I was using. Maybe because I didn’t have a strategy. I pointed out that the game is designed for ages 8+ and really depends more on which cards you draw than on any strategy. Julian decided he prefers games that involve strategy. We’ll go for that on his next visit.

Roller skate. On Sunday, Kari’s entire family came over to visit and to have dinner with us. Before dinner, Kari and the four boys decided to go roller skating (free for all, because Kari’s a manager at the rink and gave each boy a family pass for entry). When they returned to the house, we had a chicken dinner. Chicken is a big hit with Kari’s family, and even though they ate a lot of it, the highlight of the meal was the ice cream sundae bar.

Dylan, the artist, had the prettiest sundae, . . .

. . . but Teddy’s sundae was the most colorful.

And then it was Monday, Julian’s departure date. Luckily for Ted and me, Julian’s departure time was changed to two hours later than expected, so in addition to the eight extra hours we had with him after his early arrival, we had two more extra hours with him before his departure. We hope Julian had as much fun with all of us as we did with him, and we all hope he’ll visit again soon. Love from all of us to Julian.

Today, Ted and I took Julian and Teddy to see the Cahokia Mounds. Cahokia Mounds is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally the site of a city of 10,000-20,000 people (larger than either London or Paris at that time), it was the site of the largest prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico. Monk’s Mound at Cahokia is the second-largest mound in the world. In fact, Monk’s Mound has a larger base than the Great Pyramid of Cheops (also a UNESCO WHS), although it is not as high as that pyramid. Eighty of the 120 original mounds at Cahokia have survived. The most direct route from our house to the park is I-70, so we crossed the Mississippi River via one of my favorite bridges: the Stan Musial Bridge at St. Louis.

The entrance to the park’s Interpretive Center is impressive.

These are called the “twin mounds.” Conical mounds like the one on the right are always burial mounds; flat mounds like the one on the left usually indicate a place where citizens lived. The higher one’s social rank, the higher one lived on the mound. Commoners’ homes surrounded the base of the mound.

We saw a herd of deer on our guided tour of the park. The tour guide said deer are everywhere in the park.

The park’s big attraction is Monk’s Mound, the largest one. This is also a flat mound, but it is so large that there are four levels of social importance on it. Because it is so large, it is likely that an important leader (a king-like official) lived at the top of Monk’s Mound. You can count three terraces below the top of the mound if you look at the outline of the mound on its left side.

Every visitor’s to-do list includes climbing to the top of Monk’s Mound, and our group was no different. The two young men nearest the bottom of the stairs are our boys. There are two flights of stairs on Monk’s Mound with a total of 154 steps. Julian climbed them twice.

Here are Julian and Teddy after they reached the top of Monk’s Mound.

Julian got creative on his way down. Teddy (at the top of the flight) simply used the stairs.

There’s a nice view of the park from the top of Monk’s Mound. You can see another, smaller flat-topped mound in the upper center of the photo below.

From the top of Monk’s Mound, it’s also possible to see the St. Louis skyline, including the Gateway Arch. (Due to the clouds, you have to look closely to see the Arch.)

Cahokia Mounds includes a structure called “Woodhenge.” It is the astronomical equivalent of England’s Stonehenge, with 48 poles set around its circumference and another pole in its center. At the spring and fall equinox, there are celebrations at Woodhenge. If you stand in alignment with two of the outer poles and the center pole at sunrise on the equinox, then look east, you can see the sun rise over Monk’s Mound in line with the center pole. The dark, flat surface behind the center pole in the lower center of the photo is Monk’s Mound.

Rain showers moved into the area on our way home and we saw a stunning rainbow. It was a pretty way to end an enjoyable afternoon with two of our grandsons.

Today, Ted and I, Kari and Teddy, and Julian were hoping to visit Cahokia Mounds. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t co-operate. Although it was only partly cloudy here, a band of rain swept through Cahokia, scratching our plans for a day outdoors at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Teddy came up with Plan B for an indoor activity: bowling.

The pros have nothing to fear from our group, but we had a lot of fun. The first game was pretty bad (let’s call it the warm-up), but the second was better, and by the third, we were well into the spirit of things. We all had a good time and then we enjoyed snacks at home before Kari and Teddy had to leave.

Julian practiced putting some spin on his ball.

Kari mastered sliding into her release.

Teddy bowled several spares and made his goal of getting a strike.

Ted the Jock showed us how you nonchalantly walk away when you bowl a strike–one of several for him, including two in a row in the tenth frame of one game.

Scores varied by game, but Ted was always the high scorer and the only one with a three-digit score. The display showed first initials for bowlers, so to keep Ted and Teddy apart, Ted became “G” for Grandpa. We might have to ban “G” from bowling like Sky, Dylan, and I have threatened to ban him from miniature golf because he outscores the rest of us every time.

Just kidding, G.