Welcome to Winter Solstice Eve Morning

Good morning and welcome to the last half day before Winter. Officially, Winter begins tonight after ten o’clock (Central time)

Winter Solstice 2019 Countdown

Enjoy the shortest day of the year because I’m looking forward to the longest, darkest night of the year – every amateur astronomers dream.

Today, my son, daughter-in-law and grandson are driving here from Texas. They left before dawn and we anticipate their arrival late this afternoon.

With the help of my daughter, who arrived earlier this week, my main floor living area is mostly baby proof. And the new furniture was delivered Thursday afternoon. And Friday, Rachelle setup the Christmas tree and last night over home-made pizza we decorated (or rather she decorated because she’s the artistic one).

Rachelle and I will spend part of the day shopping, taking advantage of her Costco membership to stock up on food she can eat (corn allergy) and for the rest of the family as well. While I have a Christmas goose in the freezer, I need to plan for other meals and sides. Instead of just Terry and I to feed, I’ll have three to four times that many to provide for.

So we are ready for family gathering and making new memories until we once again scatter back to our nests for the new year.

The Autumn Equinox is Here! Wait, What’s the Autumn Equinox?



I’m a Libra so this is naturally my favorite day of the year.

I feel so balanced today.

Have a great day!

Posted from WordPress for Android via my Samsung smartphone. Please excuse any misspellings. Ciao, Jon

Stepping Through September

My New PedometerI started wearing my new pedometer the day I received it, on the third of September.  Almost a month has passed since then, and I’ve enjoyed and been encouraged by the ease and usefulness of it.  I love that it’s rechargeable.  I love that it lights up so when I’m walking Apollo during the evenings, in the dark, I can easily track how far we’ve gone.  I really like the total step feature, which is in addition to the seven-day memory.  But I didn’t pass through September completely unscathed.

About midway through the month I took the lanyard off my old pedometer and attached it to my new one.  I wanted a clip to fasten to my pocket opening so I wouldn’t accidentally drop the pedometer.  A day or two after doing that I realized the pedometer had somehow reset itself, losing not only the daily stats, but the memory and the total steps stats as well.  I determined that because this is a pocket pedometer (with no available belt clip accessory), the new lanyard, with the transitional piece of plastic near the pedometer, can become wedge between my body and the reset button (upper left hand button in the photo above), especially if I bend over repeatedly.  I am more careful now about removing the pedometer from my pocket when sitting, driving or doing heavy cleaning and housework.  Jeans proved to be the worst about resetting the pedometer.  My workout pants, looser fitting and with bigger and deeper pockets, were the best at preventing inadvertent resets of the pedometer’s memory.

I returned to the Pedometers USA website, hoping to find a belt clip for my model.  I did not find that accessory but I did notice a price increase.  When I purchased the PE-798 model earlier in September, I only spent $16.95.  Now, with just three days left in the same month, the price shot up to $29.95.  In reviewing other downloadable (but not rechargeable) models, the cute and compact CR-786 model goes for that nearly irresistible price of $16.95.  It looks like a thumb drive (and sort of is) but acts like a pedometer.

But back to how well the new pedometer performed in September after nearly four weeks of continuous use (minus the time I spent sleeping).  Even though the TrakNote software allowed me to export the data collected to a CSV file, I’m so terrible at using Excel 2010, that I gave up and copied/pasted the relevant information into my SparkPeople fitness web tracking account because I liked the charts better.

If I hadn’t accidentally reset my pedometer on the 13th and 14th, I might have actually reached my goal of 7,000 steps per day for most of the month.  The spike you see on September 22nd resulted from cleaning out the garage and an evening of stargazing at Powell Observatory.  I had to take it easy on Sunday the 23rd, when I woke up tired, sore and stiff.

I think it’s time to up my goal.  On the first of October, I will change my target steps, increasing them by a thousand, for a total of 8,000 steps.  I don’t know if I can reach the recommended goal of 10,000 steps by the end of the year (weather permitting of course), but we’ll see how well I do next month with the bar raised a bit higher.  I’ve languished at the seven thousand step mark for far too long.  Apollo wants me to walking him more often anyways.


Oh, and I almost forgot to mention an interesting occurrence between my coworkers and I.  Yesterday afternoon, my cube mates began discussing and guessing how many trips it would take around our floor to equal one mile.  Since I know my stride length and I always wear my pedometer, I volunteered to walk the floor one time to determine the number of steps around the perimeter (the hallway that hugs the exterior windowed offices).  Roughly, it came up to three hundred steps (I rounded up for ease of calculation).  Once I got back to my desk, I fired up Excel (I can at least do simple formulas, if not complicated fancy pivot tables and charts) and did the following calculations:

  • 1 mile = 5,282 feet
  • 5,282 x 12 inches = 63,384 inches
  • stride length (in inches) = 28
  • distance around floor perimeter (in inches) =
    300 * 28 or 8,400 inches
  • trips necessary to walk one mile = 7.56

So depending on your stride length, six or eight trips around our floor would equal approximately one mile walked.

Autumn Reveries

I am so tired I literally cannot see well as I write this blog entry.  I felt the need to preserve my tiredness for posterity by sharing the highlights of the first whirlwind weekend of October 2011, which coincidentally corresponds to my birthday.

I planned earlier in the week (still in September) to attend the Friday opening night showing of Courageous with my hubby.  Since I ended up driving the van for the workday commute last Friday, I got home early, around 5:15 pm.  While changing out of my work clothes, I received a call from my uncle, who is visiting Winfield, Kansas for events surrounding Homecoming at his alma mater, Southwestern College.  I’ll spare you the details from the thirty minute conversation and instead refer you to last month’s post about interfamily technical support.  I dispensed what help I could and we headed south to the Legends, making a quick stop at Subway for a bit of supper.

With a good fifteen or twenty minutes to spare, we were surprised to learn the movie was nearly sold out and we ended up seated in the second row of theater eight.   While Terry and I thought the movie was good, we did not think it was as great as Fireproof or even Facing the Giants. It suffered from scrambled subplots, sprawl and heavy handed preaching at the expense of good story. There were a few laugh-out-loud moments. While the theatre was packed, but you could tell you were ‘preaching to the choir’ from the composition of the audience.

Saturday, the first of October, we had planned to board the dogs and head south to Wichita to visit Terry’s life-long friends after the recent death of several family members, with the intention of attending the memorial dinner Sunday evening.  As noon approached (and the cutoff for dropping off the dogs at the kennel), we learned one of the family members thought they had the flu, and since neither Terry nor I have received this year’s flu shot yet, we opted to do a marathon trip on Sunday rather than expose Terry to potential viruses.   I canceled the boarding and Terry canceled the lodging, which left us with time on our hands.

Terry wanted to take me out for a birthday dinner, since my actual birthday would be spent driving to and from Wichita to attend a funeral.  I struggled for an hour trying to find someplace relatively close to dine at, finally deciding to try Stone Canyon Pizza in downtown Parkville, Missouri.  We drove through a beautiful fall later afternoon along K-5 and Missouri 45 only to discover upon arriving in Parkville that the city was overrun with an Octoberfest and locating a parking spot close enough for Terry became a pipe dream.  The backup plan became Zona Rosa and we eventually ate at Abuelos, a Mexican restaurant (not my first choice for cuisine, since I despise cheese, but they were convenient and not overly crowded and we got front door parking on a Saturday evening).

Terry suggested that we drop by High Noon Saloon to listen to Southern Reign.  We arrived shortly after the first set completed, spoke to the band members briefly, then found a table and enjoyed the next two sets.  I surprised myself by ordering a hot chocolate as my first drink, since the door to the Saloon was propped open and the temperature kept falling quickly as the night progressed.  I must admit that hot chocolate proved to be one of the best, if not the best ones I’ve ever drank.

I spent most of Sunday morning recording DVDs from the DVR (same way I spent Saturday afternoon once we decided not to drive to Wichita).  I even sneaked a watch (without the hubby) of the season finale of Doctor Who (more on that later in the week) and the latest Star Wars: the Clone Wars.  Terry woke up before noon and we hit the road by one o’clock.  Having forgotten that Kansas recently raised the speed limit on Interstates from 70 mph to 75 mph, we made record time down the turnpike, savoring the autumn beauty of the Flint Hills.

Many friends and family attended the memorial service and dinner, including half of the decedent’s high school Class of 57 (all eight of whom drove up from Oklahoma on Sunday and planned to return that night).  Of the two hymns we sung a capella, I loved singing In the Garden, which had been my great-grandmother’s favorite hymn.  I received several complements on my singing, even though I haven’t sung regularly in months and tried to keep my volume as soft as I could without sacrificing pitch and phrasing.  The dinner, provided by the host restaurant (Yaya’s Euro Bistro) proved delicious and soon afterward the guests began to depart.  We tarried long enough to briefly speak with our grieving friends, then hit the road north, shortly after eight o’clock.

I drove the first leg of the trip, stopping briefly at the Matfield Greene Service Center to get some water for Terry.  His poor digestive system needed some heart burn relief via Alkz Seltzer.  I spied a couple of interesting paintings of sunflowers, my favorite being the one below:

I continued driving north and took a brief side trip to Emporia for my one birthday treat of the day:  ice cream from Braums.   Terry drove while I enjoyed my butter pecan waffle cone, returning to the turnpike.  The clear skies shone with brilliant stars, such that I even asked wistfully if Terry could drive without the headlights just so I could enjoy such pristine dark skies.  He ignored me and kept driving safely.  Soon after finishing the cone, I fell asleep.  I drug myself out of my dreams after we crossed over the Kaw River east of Lawrence and stayed awake until we pulled into the driveway at a quarter past eleven.  I stumbled upstairs and crashed into bed, but failed to fall back asleep until after midnight.

After such a jam packed weekend, I dreaded the five o’clock alarm that would set me off on further adventures, this time for my employer, with a business trip to the Windy City aka Chicago (a misnomer if you consider the factual data that points to Dodge City as the windiest city in the States).  In fact, I’m finishing up this blog post in my hotel room after a long day of work and travel.  I’m so looking forward to more than five hours of sleep.

When the Weatherman Gets the Weekend Forecast Wrong …

Sunrise Saturday 5 Mar 2011
Sunrise Saturday 5 Mar 2011

Now I’m not sure what to do today.  All week long, the weatherman has been predicting doom and gloom for today, including sleet and snow.  I had planned to start a fire in the fireplace and bake pies, bread and experiment with a chicken pot pie recipe I found last week.

But if the sunrise (click on photo to see the rest of the album) is any indication of what the rest of the day will be like, do I really want to be confined another weekend in my house?  Perhaps the dogs would like to visit the dog park today?  If nothing else, I’ll take Apollo on a longer walk this evening.  Roxy and I walked before the sunrise, when it was still only 24 degrees.