Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Compost Happened Today

It turns out that I attended the birth of the Composting & Organics Association of Missouri today (at least I think that is the name we decided upon). COAM??? Our company had been invited to meet up with other people in the composting industry at the Lake of the Ozarks today. As Jim is off on his Epic Adventure 2010, tag...I was it. I left St. Louis at 6:10 this morning as I was concerned about the construction on I-44. As it turns out, traffic ran smoothly and I arrived at Tan-tar-a in plenty of time for the 10:00 start of the program. I used to travel to this resort once or twice a year when I worked at MOMEDICO. It was a popular meeting place for doctors and office managers. I didn't like the resort then, and I don't like the resort now. But that is neither here nor there.

Around 25 people attended the meeting from all across the state, with the exceptions of Northeastern and Northwestern Missouri. Perhaps compost doesn't happen in those two areas of the state. It was fascinating to here about the different composting operations. From pig poop to hot dog casings, it's being composted in this state. All I could think was "So many stories. Wouldn't this make a great book?" Oops...time to replace my author's hat with my composting hat.

The main reason for the meeting was to discuss the landfill owners 11th hour attempt to get the ban on yard waste repealed during the last legislative sessions. They tacked a multi-page amendment onto a non-related DNR bill at the last moment. Their rationale is that they need the yard waste in order to make methane gas which they want to capture and offer as an alternative fuel. But the real motivation is that their tipping fees are down since they no longer get yard waste. A local composting company hired a lobbyist and they were successful in getting the whole bill squashed. But the landfill operators are not going to go away, and will most likely come back with a new bill in the next session.

The thought is that if all the organic companies in the state bond together we can present the legislature first of all with a united front, and second of all can provide statistics indicating the benefits of the composting industry to the state in terms of employment numbers, taxes paid, etc. Our lobbyist can beat up your lobbyist...

As a group we decided to form an organization and we all need to look around and see who else should be involved. We will reconvene the end of September and see where we go from here. I just hope we meet in Jefferson City or Columbia next time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Un-Dressing Room

This morning I went shopping at Kohl's. (Here's an insider tip: arrive at 10:00 on a Sunday morning. There were only three other cars in the parking lot.) Next month we are going to Washington, D.C. to see Andy and Megan, and I need a few things for the trip. A bag of my summer clothes mysteriously disappeared. Because we live in an old house we are pretty shy on closet space. Hence Jim and I put our winter clothes down in the basement in storage. I'm not sure what all was in the bag, but I first missed my "Got Albert?" Cardinals t-shirt. I LOVE that shirt and I have never seen anyone else with one on. Next I realized that my two summer nightgowns weren't with my other summer clothes. Then I missed a couple pairs of shorts...You get the drift.

So off to Kohl's I went with my 15% off coupon in hand. I picked up a couple of household items first before heading over to the petite section. Gathering up the items I wanted to try on, I headed for the dressing room. Other than a pair of jeans and two nightgowns, nothing else was working for me. I went back to petites for round two, adjusting sizes on the shorts and trying to clear the horror of seeing myself in triplicate in a swimsuit out of my mind. I took a new set of clothes to the dressing room, which was still gloriously empty, and was in my bra and underpants when I heard someone enter the space. Next thing I know I see the head of a man appearing over the top of the fitting room door. He thankfully was not looking my way, and I watched him in triplicate as I hurriedly stepped into some pants. I could hear him spraying the mirror at the end of the hallway outside of my door in preparation of cleaning it. Next thing I know, my door swings open. "Someone's in here!", I shouted just as he exclaimed, "Sorry!" He probably was sorry that he saw all of me in triplicate.

He proceeded to clean all the fitting rooms, including running the vacuum, even though I was in there. How odd...He apologized again as I finally made my way out. I was hoping to out-wait him, but he apparently was intent on doing a thorough job. Just my luck to run into a man who actually cleans.

But in the end I scored two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts and two nightgowns so I am set for the trip. Too bad I don't "Got Albert" though.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The One That Got Away

One of the books I had autographed while at Book Expo in New York in May was entitled, "Confessions of a Compact Camera Shooter" with the tagline "Get Professional Quality Photos with Your Compact Camera". I joked with the author, Rick Sammon, that perhaps he could finally teach me what the camera classes had not. He replied that this is the book for me. We'll just see about that, mister!

A few weeks ago I was waiting for one of the cars to be serviced and I took along the Shooter book to read. Rick is a professional photographer who believes that anyone can take great pictures with a compact camera. By which he does NOT mean a point and shoot camera. Your camera must have some settings on it for this book to be of much benefit. Anyway, I had just read the section on how you should never go anywhere without your compact camera. After all, it will fit in your pocket, purse or briefcase, so there is never an excuse to be camera-free.

This came back to haunt me as I was walking the dog that very same day. I came upon the truck of a landscape contractor. He had the usual pickup truck, so nothing special there. What caught my eye was the trailer on the back of the truck. It was the typical mesh-like metal trailer, but on the back of the trailer was an assortment of items - dolls, action figures, small stuffed animals... Apparently whatever he finds in the yard as he mows gets attached to the back of the trailer. It was a moment...and I even knew what I would title my photo. "Yard Waste."

But where was my camera? Back at the house, of course. Had Rick Sammons taught me nothing? Apparently not, because Monday as I walked the dog along came same landscape contractor buzzing down our street. Was there a camera in my pocket? Nope. And just to further mock me, I had the dog out earlier than usual today since it is so hot, and the landscaper passed me again. I'm beginning to feel like Richard Dreyfuss in "American Grafitti" as he keeps getting a glimpse of Suzanne Somers in the '56 Thunderbird but can't seem to hook up with her. "Ain't That a Shame?"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Here Comes Santa Claus

On the way home from Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, my sister and I stopped in at Santa Claus, IN. I had read about this "town" when I was researching places to have the rehearsal dinner for Andy and Megan, so I thought I would finally check it out. I knew about the amusement park, aptly named Holiday World, because Megan's younger brother has worked there through high school and college. We passed Holiday World on the way to Santa Claus.

We drove by Santa's Lodge while looking for the town. Nothing. I turned around and entered a strip mall across from the Lodge. A plethora of Santas greet you along the mall, and we stopped into the visitor's center to seek directions to the town. Turns out we were there. Talk about the commercialization of Christmas - Santa Claus has been reduced to a strip mall. Since we were there, we toured the Santa Museum and picked up a couple of post cards picturing Santas, of course. A few steps from the museum we located the Post Office and had our cards sent off postmarked "Santa Claus, Indiana". Jim's mom collects Santa Clauses, so I knew she would get a kick out of her post card. As there was nothing else to do in the vicinity, I snapped off pictures of all the Santas I could find, and there were many.

As we drove back towards the highway we could see a monastery perched on a hill. Another quick stop found us at the St. Benedict Monastery in Ferdinand, Indiana. It is gorgeous, and the cemetery was fascinating as well. We have it on our list to take a tour next time we go over to Cincinnati. The monastery? Priceless. Santa Claus? Not so much. Ho, ho, ho...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Key to a Lasting Marriage

We have had to do a bit of maintenance with the cars lately. My car and Katie's needed oil changes, and we had to replace the front tires on the car Katie drives. I always just wait for the car to be finished instead of trying to work around Jim's schedule for dropping the car off and then taking me back to get it. Last week our work pickup needed new tires as well. Jim needed to pick up a donor plaque for a project he is working on (which looks like a huge table in the bed of the pickup truck, I might add), so he wanted to get the tires done before that occurred. On Friday I followed him to the tire shop, drove him to work and headed home to get some work done. He was going to have someone from work take him to pick the truck up later that morning. Well, that didn't work out, so back I went to take him to get the truck.

This morning he headed out early to meet with his motorcycle gang as they are in the final planning phase of their week long ride to Wisconsin that takes place in a couple of weeks. I was still snuggled in bed enjoying my book when the phone rang. Never good news early on a Saturday. It was Jim, and the key had broken off as he was locking his gas tank. As this key also is used in the ignition, this was a big problem. Not only had he forgotten to take his backup key along, he had forgotten his phone as well. The station attendant was nice enough to let Jim borrow his cell phone to call me. And Jim was lucky that I had not started applying the color to my hair or I wouldn't have answered the phone.

Anyway, I found his cell phone and called wife #3 (I'm wife #1, his business partner Ted is #2 and his favorite riding partner Jim Diaz is #3), to explain that Jim would be late, went to the garage and found the backup key, slapped a ball cap on my head and took off for the Phillips gas station. Before I arrived there a sweet older couple from Arizona heard Jim discussing his problem with the attendant. They asked him if he needed some needle nose pliers. They proceeded to go to their motor home and return with three sets of pliers for him to try. He successfully removed the broken piece from the tank, so with me bringing the backup key to him, he was good to go.

Love means never whining when your Saturday plans are disrupted by your spouse - that is the key to a happy marriage. Now I'm off to wash the gray, if not the man, right out of my hair.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Weird Week

This week was already shortened due to returning from Cincinnati on Monday night. I had to play catch-up with my work, plus try to ready the house for Jim's sister and her fiance, who arrived on Friday and left around 3:30 this afternoon. We had an IRS issue with one of our trucks, so that necessitated a trip to the IRS office in Chesterfield. Mapquest could not identify the exact office of the only St. Louis County location for the IRS. Apparently the government always wants to know where you are, but doesn't want to be found itself. Mapquest gave me an approximate destination, which I thought would be close enough for government work. Yuck, yuck.

When I arrived at Town and Country Commons Thursday, I could not locate their office. After circling the over-sized strip mall parking lot a few times, I popped into Great Clips to see if they new where I could find the office, and a kind employee suggested I follow her as she was headed to the post office which was by the IRS office. It ends up that the Commons is on both sides of Clayton Road, and I needed to be on the north side not the south. After having my purse and files searched, I passed through a metal detector before being directed to the correct office. Apparently IRS agents get enough threats to warrant scanners. Imagine that. After waiting for my number to be called, I explained to the agent that we had made an error in filing our trucks last June 1 and had neglected to add a truck we had purchased in May 2009. The agent was saying he would just give me a waiver for last year so that I could get my cab card from the Missouri Department of Revenue. Hmmmm....was this a trap? I told the agent that we owed the money for last year because we had used the truck the past 12 months. He asked if we drove it less than 5,000 miles. Then he could still give me a waiver. We drove it more than that, so he said you know you will have the $550 fee plus interest and penalties. I know, believe me I know. I took my lumps, paid the fees and walked out with the paper that would allow me to get the new cab card from the state.

From there I had to deal with getting money moved around at the bank to purchase a new piece of equipment we had bought at an auction on Wednesday. Thankfully this machine is used for making soil and won't go on the roads, so the IRS won't be involved. I'll only have St. Louis County with their hand out for personal property taxes. I managed to get the monthly invoicing done Thursday afternoon. Then on Friday I again dealt with the bank to wire transfer money to the auction house. All of this was complicated by the fact that National City is now PNC. More hoops and less knowledge so far with this merger.

At any rate we had a nice visit with JoEllen and Bruce, who drove in from Kansas City. We grilled steaks Friday night and enjoyed eating out on the patio with the wonderful weather we were experiencing. Saturday we walked a couple of blocks and enjoyed the great hometown July 4th parade, which again included the Clydesdale's. Following lunch on the patio of McGuirks we headed to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Katie went along, and we were finally able to get a picture of her and me to go in the picture frame she purchased for me as a Mother's Day gift. Last night we walked up to watch the fireworks, and this morning I treated them to Gliers Goetta, which I had brought back from Cincinnati with me.

Tonight I am here with just Katie, enjoying some quiet time. Jim took the dog and went down to his partner's lake house for the evening. I am feeling tired and talked out, and just didn't feel up to going out. It will be an early night for me, I think. Independence, indeed.