Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Busy Weekend!

me, Tom Cooper, Deborah Ladd &
Emma DeLooze-Klein
This past weekend went by in a blur. Friday night the Webster Groves Public Library had an author signing of the new book, "Images of America: Webster Groves." I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the book for two reasons. First, because I love learning the history of the place I have called home for over 30 years. And second, because our house appears on page 60 of the book. How exciting is that? They had a nice little reception as well, but I needed to dash out and make my way down the street to Grafica Fine Art Gallery for the closing of our Women in Focus photography show. There was a small turnout, unlike our opening reception, which was packed. That gave us an opportunity to really study the photographs, and to get to know each other a little better as a group since we are relatively new.

Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. I was at Forest Park for the March of Dimes "March for Babies." This is the second year that I have volunteered to be one of the photographers at the event. I had so much fun last year that I jumped at the chance to help out again. I was quite concerned about the weather as storms were predicted, but outside of a slight mist first thing in the morning the weather held. My assignments were to cover the VIP tent, photograph the ceremony before the walk began, and then just take crowd shots. It is no hardship to take photos of the darling babies and children around the area. I like using my telephoto zoom lens because much of the time the people don't know that I am taking their picture. I heard on the news that $500,000 was raised in St. Louis. Wow!

Sunday morning I should have been cleaning the house to get ready for some company that will arrive late this week, but the morning was so beautiful that the Missouri Botanical Garden was calling my name. I arrived early, not realizing that the Tulip Trot had taken place that morning. I wondered why so many cars were already there at 9:00. Once I got inside the garden, though, it was not crowded at all. I enjoy these solitary walks where I can take pictures to my heart's content and  appreciate all the beauty displayed before me.

Then it was back to reality at home, where toilet brushes awaited me. But I had pretty pictures in my mind to make the job more palatable.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


pickleball paddle
A couple of years ago I read an article in the local newspaper about pickleball. Touted as the fastest growing sport in America, it looked like it would be fun to play. I have to admit that I was a little turned off when they mentioned that it was a good sport for older people. And then I realized I am an older person, whether I feel that way or not. Pickleball was invented back in 1965 by some men in Bainbridge Island, Washington. One of the men had a badminton court in his backyard, but they couldn't find the rackets to play. Instead they used ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. The game has elements of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton. You play on a court with a lower net, using an over-sized ping-pong paddle and a whiffle ball. There is some dispute as to whether the game was named after the family dog, Pickles, or whether it was a reference to Pickle Boat, which has a mixed crew. Here is a fun piece that NBC News did on pickleball.

I didn't give the game too much thought until one of our friends began to play it a lot. Earlier this year, my local recreation center offered a pickleball clinic, so I decided to check it out. One of the USPA Pickeball Ambassadors was there to conduct the clinic. Who knew, right? I have to say, I enjoyed learning how to play the game. There are many, many locations throughout St. Louis where you can play pickleball. Our center began offering play on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, which don't work out for me because of my small group weight training. I was delighted when they added Wednesday mornings, as that fits nicely with my schedule. The locations provide all the equipment, so you really don't have to invest in anything until you see if you like it. Most people eventually purchase their own paddles since the ones provided are always wood and not recommended for serious play.

I have now played in Affton and Shrewsbury as well as in Webster Groves, and most of the people are quite nice and not overly competitive. A few of the guys will try to make you eat the ball, but that is the exception rather than the rule. My experience has been that during the day I bring the average age of the room down, but at night I am definitely one of the older people on the court. Depending on how many people show up at any given time to play, you can get a great workout in. I know that I perspire more playing pickleball than I do working out in the gym. I am so happy to have an additional activity to add to my workout schedule so that I don't get bored.

Play ball - pickleball, that is!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring Beauties

In honor of tax day, I began my morning by spending two hours at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is truly my happy place, and I haven't been able to get there for a couple of weeks. In the spring I like to go at least once a week as things are changing so quickly there. My friend and I tried to go last Friday, with the intention of eating lunch outside on their terrace followed by a walk in the garden. We could not even find a parking space, so we went somewhere else instead.

But the garden opens early on Wednesdays, so I was there at 8:20 and it was glorious! I was able to stroll at a leisurely pace and take as much time as I wanted with my photos. After 9:30 it was much more crowded, particularly with school groups, so I was out of there by 10:15. As a fellow photographer commented, "With all the school groups, it is time to get the hell out of here and get a drink!" Amen, Mr. Shutterbug, amen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Clean Up Crew

tree crew
We were fortunate to be able to find a tree service who could come on Saturday and remove the fallen oak. It was an added bonus that he was a couple hundred dollars less expensive than the next higher bid. He came recommended by a neighbor, and his company is insured so we felt comfortable accepting the bid. Our neighbor was having concrete poured for his new walkway and steps on Monday, so it was imperative that the tree be removed before then.

the aftermath
The tree crew made short work of getting the limbs off the car so that it could be moved out of the way. Unfortunately the large limb somewhat crushed the roof of the car. I am not sure it will be feasible for it to be repaired. Speaking from experience, if the insurance company decides to total the car, no one wins. I hope they can fix it. You can see from the top picture that the excitement in the neighborhood drew quite a crowd. I'm sure these guys aren't used to having so many people watch them work. They finished up by mid-afternoon, and nothing was left but all the gouges in the grass.

Mirassou Moscato
It was nice for us, too, that the work was done on Saturday. We had nine people over Sunday afternoon for Easter dinner. It was such a beautiful day that we were able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. I mixed up a batch of Moscato Limeade Punch from a recipe that I found on Real Housemoms. It is really good, but I felt like it was a little heavy on the limeade flavor. So I added an additional half bottle of moscato to the pitcher. It went from good to great! In my estimation, Mirassou makes the best moscato, so I always have a couple of bottles in the wine rack. This was a tasty punch recipe that I will be making again.

My niece brought a layered taco dip appetizer, and my nephew brought deer sausage and cheese. I balanced that with a veggie tray. I prepared a ham, scalloped potatoes and rolls, and my sister brought baked beans and deviled eggs. She also made an adorable cake for dessert. I am not a personal fan of peeps, but the cake was really good underneath all the peeping. It was a Hoppy Easter, for sure.

Easter Cake

Saturday, April 4, 2015


tree damage
The St. Louis area had some thunderstorms with high winds and heavy rain on Thursday and into Friday morning. The lightning flashes and thunder crashes kept me awake well into the early morning hours on Friday. Around 6:45 a.m. I heard a different kind of crash. One I had heard only one time before when one of our 100+ year old post oaks tumbled to the ground. Only in that case, it was the middle of a calm, sunny day when the tree dropped. Fortunately the only damage it did was to our planting bed. This time we were not so lucky. Our 100+ year old white oak fell this time, landing squarely on the Pathfinder owned by our next door neighbor.

Recently the neighbor added a small circular drive to his front yard so that his daughter could park her car there. On our side of the street we have a private alley that runs behind the houses, and most of us park our cars in the garages or parking spots out back. Same neighbor has also been building a new front porch on his house, and that fortunately was spared any damage from the falling tree. As both the neighbor and Jim dealt with insurance companies, I went out front to take some pictures. Yikes! We were so lucky that the daughter was not at that time getting into her car to go to school. She could have been seriously injured. She was off for Good Friday, so that was a blessing.

Both insurance companies said that the tree removal would not be covered as it is considered an act of God. Their policy will cover the car, less their deductible. But essentially, Missouri law states that you are only responsible for whatever part of the tree is on your property. That means at any point in time a neighbor can trim off any limbs of your tree that is hanging over their property line. Most people do not realize this. And in this case, that meant we only needed to clear the tree stump and probably four or five feet of trunk off our land. The rest of the large tree is their responsibility. Including all the limbs our tree sheared off of their beautiful maple. It doesn't seem fair for sure, but that is the law. We will definitely work out some sort of compromise.

Jim called two tree companies to come and give us bids for removing everything, and the neighbor lady and I talked to both of the estimators when they came out. Both showed up at nearly the same time, which was awkward to say the least. In the meantime another neighbor came by with a third name for us to call. In the end, the third company gave us the best bid, and they are here today cleaning everything up. They first freed the car from the large limbs so it could be taken off for an estimate. I hope it is not totaled, as no one wins in that deal.

It was not a very Good Friday around here.