Home Again

Stilt Sandpiper

Yesterday, we drove home. We got a late start leaving Ann Arbor, but still made good time and with the time change working in our favor, got home at six. A bit of rain greeted us as we crossed the Mississippi. Its only real effect was to pump up the humidity though. Welcome back to Sweat Louis! The lawn didn’t look as bad as I had feared, so no rush there. As Joanie reported, the city had removed our last Silver maple on the parking strip. I’m sure the squirrels who inhabited it thought, “What about the foreclosure moratorium?” The stump still remains and I can see that the squirrels had hollowed the heartwood down to the ground. The city should be back eventually to grind the stump away, like it did the first two.

Last night, was a dark and stormy night. Thunder and lighting were out all night long and have extended their display into today. Moments after the first rain began, I could hear the sirens wind up their wails at the nearby fire station. This occurs every time it rains. Nobody drives carefully on the highway until it’s too late. Is it just me? But the first few fat raindrops sounded like squirrel scratching when they hit the back porch. Anyway, I kept being awakened with each new round of storms.  We were rewarded in the morning with flash flood warning boxes blanketing the city. Our sump pump even got into the act.

Joanie takes in our mail while we are gone and there were a few surprises. My absentee ballot for last week’s election had eventually arrived. I had to go to the election commission to cast my ballot, because it had not shown. Surprisingly, a second ballot arrived for Anne. When I asked her, what about the other 9,998? She said that she had had China handle all of those. Our bill for the Toyota never arrived, so I’ll have to go online and try to fix that, along with straightening out many of our other bills. Most of them are already online and normally, I have no problem paying them remotely, but unfortunately I really need the laptop to do that. The bank’s iPhone app doesn’t really distinguish between the multiple accounts that we have with the same payee and I’m not about to put a ton of money down, thinking I’m paying off a credit card, when what I’m really doing is paying thirty years of rent on the safety deposit box. I’ve already done that.

My final must accomplish chore for today is to restock the larder. To that end, I placed and received grocery orders through both Instacart and Shipt. I used Shipt to backfill some of the items that Instacart couldn’t fulfill. Now our once empty icebox is reasonably filled again. There is still laundry, cooking and cleaning and it might even clear off enough for a walk. Oh and don’t forget the blog either.

A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings

Monarch Butterfly on a Mexican Sunflower

We mixed up our neighborhood walk some and visited Washington University. The campus was pretty dead, except for the bustling maintenance men. No word yet as to whether the school will reopen in the fall. We got as far as the DUC, which stands for Danforth University Center and doubles as the nickname for the cafeteria that resides within. Named after the former chancellor, William Danforth, brother to former Senator John Danforth, it seemed incongruous to have a legacy contracted to DUC, but somehow typical of students. On the way back we discovered the Danforth Butterfly Garden, which was named for wife Elizabeth. Finding it was an unexpected treat. It was filled with flowers and had an unusually wide variety of milkweed types.

Our normal walking path takes us through Concordia, a Lutheran seminary. All summer, it has been pretty dead too, but as of late there are cars in the parking lots again. No word yet as to whether it will open or not. Next week, Anne’s school district is supposed announce its fall plans. It’s anyone’s guess as to what they will be, anything from full virtual, to full classroom, to something halfway in-between. I’m pretty sure that Anne won’t be substitute teaching, but that’s not for certain either. She is keeping her options open, at least for now.

It seems ludicrous to me that reopening the schools is even under consideration. The pandemic is currently raging out of control, way worse than it was when the schools were all closed in the spring. Reopening the schools seems like pouring gasoline on an already burning fire. The reason of course that this is even a thing is that Trump wants to do anything to juice the economy, no matter what the cost in American lives, just so that he can get reelected. I can’t see why anyone would want to endanger their lives or even more importantly sacrifice the lives of their children on the altar of his campaign. Still, I’ll have to wait for what happens. If the schools do reopen and the inevitable illnesses, medical bills and deaths do occur, there will be holy hell to pay. I know of a couple of gun-toting personal injury lawyers here in town, who would be glad to redress any wrongful deaths with a lawsuit or two. Even WashU with one of the largest endowments in the country should take pause at that thought.

Get Ready, Get Set, Go!

Gros Cap Windmills at Night with Firefly on the Beach

As the few remaining days tick by, preparations for our imminent departure are well underway. We’ll be traveling for only a few weeks, which by past year standards in not all that much, but this year is not one of those years. This will be our first trip since everything changed and as such, I would like to do it as safely as possible. We will be driving to Anne’s family cabin on the shores of Lake Superior. We’ll drive up there all in one day, which is a very long day, but one that we have done before. We have the new car, which has satellite radio to keep us going. We’ll make only minimal stops. Stopping only for gas and to use the bathroom. Once there, we’ll pretty much stick to our cabin in the woods and not venture out much, at least like we have done in the past. 

My biggest concern is food and have been planning our menu for weeks now. With luck, we will bring the right amount, not too much or too little. I’ve started packing clothes too, but Anne is still consumed with her latest project. It started out as a memory quilt for her mother, but with her passing, it has morphed into a remembrance quilt. One side of the quilt is the family’s tartan, while the other side is composed of about a hundred photographs of family members, both past and present. As these things go, it has been quite the undertaking, but it looks like she will finish it in plenty of time. Not that that matters much, because she is planning on bringing it with her, along with her sewing machine.

It will be nice to get out of Sweat Louis for a while. We had one day this week when the weather wasn’t so awful darn hot. A cold front had come through, lowering both the heat and the humidity. When we walked that morning it was so pleasant. Most mornings our four mile hike eventually turns into a Bataan death march by the end. Even a Camelbak full of ice water can only partially ward off the hot weather. Each day, I am reminded why since I retired, we spend as little time in town during the summer as possible, but not this summer.

One thing that I am looking forward to seeing this summer is the new comet Neowise. Up until now, the comet has only been visible in the morning sky. Meaning getting out before dawn, which I have tried, but without much effort and with even less success. This coming week though, since Neowise has already swung around the sun and is now heading back out to the Oort cloud, from which it came. About the time that we will be arriving in Michigan, the comet will switch from being a morning star and become an evening star, where all the hundreds of sunset pictures that I’ve taken over the years come from. I hope to get a photograph of it while I’m there.

Anne’s COVID Hair

Sizzling Hot!

Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like mine? Covered in sweat and ready to slime. Don’t cha? Oh, we about to get it just a little hot and sweaty. She makes the place sizzle like a summertime cookout. I’m on the prowl for my lady, I’m on the lookout. Don’t cha know?

This is an old photo that has some new play this year. I give you its Coronavirus edition. This is my girl all decked out in her Chihuly brand spikes, like she’s wearing a corona.

Yep, it’s summer in Saint Louis. We are still walking everyday, but now that it has warmed up extra precautions are called for. This week, we have taken to carrying water in our Camelbak backpacks. Only it is mostly water in its solid form. Ice, ice, baby. In addition to hydration they also act as cooling cold packs. Helping to keep the heat at bay as we ramble around the park.

It is coolest early in the morning. So, we try to get out of the house as early as we can manage and today we managed to get out too early. We left home, before Anne had had her coffee, which kind of defeated our purposes. It was cooler, but about halfway around, we ended up sitting on a park bench. After that it was all down hill. We ended up cutting our walk short, with only about half the number of steps that we usually get. Oh well, call it a rest day. Our first in over a week.

There were a couple disquieting things about today’s walk, other than the whole pooping out thing. Two people sneezed in our vicinity. Normally, living here in the allergy capital of the world, I would paid it no mind, but you know. The first sneeze occurred as the woman was approaching us. She was masked as were we and even though she was more than six feet away, it was a little unnerving. The second time, the man was unmasked, but much further away. Still coming on the heels of the first sneeze it was a bit too much and probably contributed our loss of resolve, because shortly afterwards, we decided to turn tail and run for home.

After Anniversary Report

Hibiscus Closeup

We ended up ordering delivery from Pi Pizza for dinner last night. Our order included their Bada Bing salad, which is composed of field greens, toasted almonds, gorgonzola, dried Bing cherries, all topped with a tangy raspberry vinaigrette. We also ordered their deep dish Buck Town pizza that includes mozzarella cheese, roasted chicken, artichoke, red pepper, green olive, red onion, feta and sundried tomatoes. For dessert, we had a couple of the key lime pie bars on a vanilla wafer crust that I had made. They turned out quite well.

Instead of a romantic movie, I signed up for Disney+ and we watched Hamilton. This adaptation of the stage musical for the small screen was quite nice. It was easier to follow the dialogue and watch the characters than when we saw it at the Fox last year. We were going to see it performed there again this spring, but alas that was not to be. This televised version made for a worthy replacement. Plus it featured the original Broadway cast, including Lin-Manuel Miranda.

We got out to a late start for our walk this morning. We didn’t get going until nine, which is when we are usually finishing it up. Consequently, knowing that it would be hotter than normal, we outfitted our Camelbak packs. Filling them with ice water. It made quite the difference and will be the way to go forward.

On the way home we stopped for gas. This is the first time that we’ve gassed the RAV4 since March. There was still fifty miles left of range and after it was filled up the remaining range was 450 miles, meaning we had only driven 400 miles in the about four months. We could have waited another week before gassing the car, but I didn’t want to risk it. Apparently there is a problem with the remaining range estimate on the RAV4. Toyota is studying the problem now and plans on issuing a recall when they have it figured out. As near as I can tell the problem revolves around the uneven bottom of the gas tank that traps some of the gas.