Monday, October 10, 2016

They All Asked for You...

We are lucky, here on the Coast of Illinois.
We have the St. Louis Zoo.
Hands down, best free zoo in the world. 
Penguins are fans of paparazzi.
Except this guy.

Polar bears are quite a bit larger than on that ice cream wrapper.

A little great ape PDA.

This guy don't care.

Yes. I am a Sea Lion. What's it too you?
And I can swim upside down.

Rhino's prefer thousand island dressing on their salad.

Hippo's enjoy being mysterious.

This cheetah chooses not to run.

A little mother, daughter bonding amongst the Asian elephants.

These shoots are making me thirsty.

Raja, on the left. Born one year after my daughter. Now 100x her size. At least
Ready for my close up.
Still in the throws of major writing doldrum.
Come back again for more pictures from Autumn, here on the Coast of Illinois.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


It has been awhile, I know.
I seem to have gotten caught in the doldrums...the place where there is no wind and you are left to drift aimlessly...
Wow. That sounds dramatic.
Truthfully, I just can't seem to get two words on paper.
I have a lot of them in my head. They just refuse to sail downward into my jittery fingers.
Consequently, I am taking a little hiatus from the Coast.
Doing yoga.
Attempting to meditate.
Which, FYI, is not as easy as it sounds, what with all those words flinging themselves wildly around in my cerebrum.
For the remainder of October, Coast of Illinois will feature some autumnal photos.
And eventually some scenes from an upcoming adventure.
See you soon...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Three Dog Night Defense

The setting: a court room. A man sits slumped in the witness chair. The prosecution begins:

You say this 'Jeremiah' was a...(dramatic pause followed by disbelieving look towards the jury) a BULLFROG??? 

-yes. He was a good friend of mine.

Really? A good friend. Just how good a friend was he,sir, if -and I quote- 
(Looks down at sheet of paper and reads) 'I never understood a single word he said'. 
Yet, (lays paper down on bench, softens look briefly as shakes head) yet, still, you drank his wine....
Was it 'mighty fine'? Was it? (Slaps hand on bench in front of witness) Was it in fact might fine wine?! 

(Defendant draws himself up to full height, stands, faces jury)
Yes! I did it for the boys! And the girls! And all those fishies in the deep blue sea! 
Yes! (Looks imploringly at audience spreads open palms out in sweeping motion) I did it for you and me!
(The audience erupts in shouts and wild 70's electric organ music as bailiff drags defendant from room)

Prosecution stacks papers, throws them into briefcase clicking it shut as she says:
Yes, he always had some mighty fine wine....

(Inspired by a derogatory comment over my decision to taunt my husband with a line from the Three Dog Night song ONE last night as we fought over the bed sheet.)
Apologies to Hoytt Axton. Although I could totally see him playing the judge in this scenario. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

I mean, It Has Method Right in the Name...

I admit it.

I am not as hip and cool as I once thought.
But I am trying.
I have pushed through my comfort zone to give something new, foreign, slightly dangerous a try.

You see, after much prodding and taunting by some younger, hipstery co-workers, I finally given the Pour Over Coffee Method a try. 
The curve of the carafe. The scent of the brew. How totally sensual...
I have long been a Mr. Coffee Pre-Programable Drip Coffee Maker woman. From my first four cup pot, hidden discreetly on the allowable mini-fridge in my dorm room to the fancy new ten cup carafe-slash-single serve pod pot my family gave me for Christmas last year, I have always been a drip coffee maker. 
While not an actual 'Mr. Coffee', I feel Joe approves.
Sure, I strayed from time to time.
Back in the 80's my parents gave me a tiny espresso maker.
After visiting my NYC brother in the 90's I gave the French Press a go.
Yet I always returned to my beloved Mr. Coffee Pre-Programable Drip Coffee Maker.

Mr. Coffee is convenient. Set it and forget it until you get up in the morning to the earthy, heady scent of freshly brewed beans. (I can say beans as, since my espresso period, I have always ground my own beans.)
Mr. Coffee is familiar. My Mom used one. So did my Grandma.
Although when we camped, my Mom used a tiny percolator pot set directly over the camp fire and on special family events Grandma would drag out the hefty 35 cup percolator. It was fun to watch the coffee pop up into the glass bulb in the center of the lid and even more fun to wash the stem and metal basket. If you pushed those babies down into the dishwater with the correct pressure and angle and probably torque, you could send tiny bubbles flying all over the kitchen.
Most importantly, Mr. Coffee is safe. There was NO direct access to boiling water. Sure, this results in a barely tepid cup of coffee, once the tap water has heated up and dripped through the grounds and filter into the pot which sits on a heated burner. But seriously, how else can you get that authentic burnt coffee diner smell?
Most recently I have taken to pouring the freshly dripped coffee into a thermal carafe. Thus leaving not one but TWO pots of stale coffee stains to wash when I get home from work.

I feel it was a cruel twist of fate that, as I strolled through the coffee maker aisle at Target, wistfully staring at the Ninja Coffee Bar System, that I noted one lone pour-over pot with a red clearance sticker. It was as if Joe Garagiola himself were standing in front of me, bathed in heavenly light. Only it wasn't Joe Garagiola, he was hunched over the Mr. Coffees with his heavenly head in his hands.
Nope, it was more like an Indie Band bass player with a man bun, excessive yet well-groomed facial hair, and a local brewhaus t-shirt, staring at his I-phone arranging a ride from Uber, bathed in the heavenly glow of an organic, fair trade dark roast.

There was no judgement as I checked out with my fancy new coffee pot. I stopped at the in-store Starbucks and bought a bag of 'limited edition, single source, hand roasted' beans and hurried home, crafting my reason for buying yet ANOTHER coffee pot.
Rob just shook his head.
He does not drink coffee.

And now I am converted.
The coffee is smooth, although it does take a little longer to prepare in the mornings.
I am working at convincing myself that the process of warming the carafe, grinding the beans to a the perfect medium – between coarse French Press and super fine Turkish, waiting for the water to boil then slowly pouring said water of said medium ground beans is making me mindful of my activities and more appreciative of my mornings.

As opposed to making me late for work...

But it's totes worth it.
For Realz.
My coffee pot collection from left, Turkish Ibrick, Bunn Espresso with built in frother, Bodum French Press, Birletti espresso pot. I feel my very international in my caffeine hobby.

Check out the featured post on the right for a story of how COFFEE has gotten me into trouble. One of many. Not the last...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Took a Little Trip...

Ordinarily, I try to keep politics and religion out of the Coast of Illinois. But in order to put this post into context, I must break that rather slim, Miss Manners initiated rule. 
I had no idea there were so many Land Pirates...
I am a Parrothead.
There. I said it.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, please tune your SiriusXM radios to channel 24. Parrothead is the term associated with fans of Jimmy Buffett.
But it's more than a music thing. Or being a member of a club.
I don't officially belong to any of the numerous local Parrothead clubs. They are fine institutions and not only do many fun activities but the basis of their philosophy is to 'Party with a Purpose' which means most group functions have a charitable element attached.
I belonged to one local group for a year and it was fun. I was introduced to some fun people, some great music venues and musicians. But most importantly, for me, belonging to the group made me examine just what it means to live in Margaritaville.

Which leads to another explanation.
Margaritaville, while being a very successful song and brand, is also a philosophy.
A good friend recently asked me to define just what that means.
It's not easy but let me try:
Margaritaville is anywhere you feel most content. It's not a specific place, although it can be.
Living in Margaritaville means enjoying every moment of every day. And if that is impossible then Margaritaville becomes the destination to get you through.
It exists solely in your mind, for those times when work is just too annoying or the kids are just too trying or life has become just too sad.
It is the place where you know you will feel safe. You may not feel happy immediately but you know that it is the place where your best chance of fulfillment exists, even if it is temporary.
Because life is just too short.
And once you find Margaritaville, you will always be able to return.

On rare occasions, Margaritaville becomes a real, living, breathing place.
As it did this past Saturday.

Because of my past affiliation with the St. Louis Parrotheads, I became Facebook friends with several members. And while I didn't renew my official membership, Rob and I prefer to be Feral Rogue Parrotheads, my Facebook friendships still exist.
So thanks to that wonder that is social media, we were invited to the No Name Deck for a concert by the PHINS. 

We considered mightily the fact that this party was an hour away at a private home where we hardly knew anyone, on an afternoon in August when the relative humidity has been 200% with a forecast of 99.9% thunderstorms.

So of course, we were in.

As we drove across two bridges and two rivers the clouds parted and the sky turned blue and the sun shined down. The humidity down shifted from steam bath and as we walked into the backyard of our hosts we were greeted with bear hugs and handshakes and a genuine greeting of 'so glad you made it!'. 
Our lovely hosts, who opened their home and backyard and also had the foresight to rent a port-a-potty for the gathering!

We feasted on potluck and brauts and chatted with other lawn chair pirates as we sipped our fizzy waters and rosé and the occasional mysterious beverage poured from questionably reused apple juice containers. 

We sang along with a phenomenal band.
We booed the guy who kept requesting 'Freebird'.
We helped out a local senior center with personal care item donations.
We Conga-ed.

And for a few hours, we lived in Margaritaville. 

Check out these sites and show some love!
For info on the band:
For Info on the St. Louis Parrotheads:

Check out the featured post for another tale from my own personal Margaritaville odyssey.

If Sunday's are 'easy' then...

I need to have a word with Lionel Ritchie.
He sings on and on about how 'easy' Sunday mornings are. But if they're so easy, just what do you call this:

I am usually up early on Saturday mornings. It's this thing my husband and I do, where we rotate getting up early with the kids so one of us gets to sleep in one of the weekend days. Of course our kids are grown now and I am getting up to keep the CAT quite.
But, I digress...
Truthfully, I love getting up early on Saturdays. Especially when it is nice outside. And for the first time in, oh I don't know – one million days – the humidity here on the Coast of Illinois is finally below one thousand percent and the temp is a sweet 77 degrees.
Consequently, JoeyKatt and I enjoyed a peaceful early morning deck sit. (After I combed a knot out of his fur causing him to bit the crap out of my arm and then curl up like a REAL CAT on my lap to sleep.)
As I was sitting there on the deck, sleeping cat in my lap, blood oozing down my arm, I noticed just how quietly noisy our backyard is.
I have three bird feeders and a squirrel platform in the yard. There is a definite feeding schedule out there.
On work days I fill the feeders super early – 0550 or 0600 – and the mob of squirrels who reside in our maple bush condo hit the feeders like teenagers on a feeding frenzy after an all night gaming session.
On Saturday I don't fill the feeders until 0630 or 0700. The teenage squirrels are now passed out from their late night partying. The grownup squirrels are out, but they calmly eat at the platform or from the ground seeds thus allowing the birds to actually dine at their feeders. Chickadees and wrens first, then a hesitant cardinal and a squawking blackbird. The hummingbirds zing back and forth.
It's a cacophony of chirps, tweets and peeps.
I sit on my cushion, coffee in hand, purring cat a random arm bite away and take in the rustle of tree leaves as the sun slowly climbs and it occurs to me, Lionel Ritchie is wrong.
Sunday's are not easy – when our kids were small they were a riot of feeding, dressing, churchgoing, lunching, family outings, school prepping, lunch packing.
Saturday's were the random cartoon, breakfast, anything can happen days.
But I guess, Impromptu like Saturday Morning didn't flow as well in the song.

Saturday's are also for breakfast.
When our kids were little it was 'farmer breakfast' – eggs, bacon/ham/sausage, fruit, pancakes/biscuit/french toast.
Now it is 'pontoon' breakfast:
um, we're gonna need a bigger plate...
We discovered this at the Ozark Yacht Club cafe. They fold all the yumminess between a 'pillow of hash browns'. I use the much raftier hash brown patties with sausage links, over easy egg and cheese sandwiched between.

Impromptu Like Saturday Morning...

If you have time - check out the new Featured Post to the right below Blah Blah! I will be featuring some of my old stuff, posted back when I had no idea what was going on here in the blog world....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Random Thoughts, A Food Truck and Meet Monty

A word of warning for all you guys who read this blog: This post begins with many lady-words. Grab a beer, put your hand down your pants and skim down to the photos if you wish. However, the photos DO NOT have anything to do with lady-words.
So just settle down.

I have been wanting to update the Coast for quite some time. I have numerous ideas and photos but as it turns out, the link between my brain and the actual words has been disconnected.
My brain has turned to mush.
You see, I stopped my hormone replacement therapy (HRT) about 10 weeks ago. I was having headaches and discovered the one constant was the medication I was taking at bedtime. Stopped the med and the headaches stopped. Instantly!
DISCLAIMER: HRT is a personal choice and starting as well as stopping should be down after discussion with your MD. Which I have done extensively for my own personal issues.
Anyway, once I had no more headaches I felt great.
For about six weeks.
And then the hot flashes restarted. But this time they are accompanied by insomnia and freeze flashes.
It seems my hypothalamus has decided to play thermo-roulette.
Add to that the ten thousand degree humidity here on the Coast of Illinois and I can go from zero to five thousand degrees in 2.2 seconds then just as quickly spiral downward to negative thirty-two. This sudden freeze is new to me. I have always been a pretty thermo-neutral person.
It does me no good to put on a sweater – the freeze doesn't last that long. And as to rolling up my shirt to air out...well, that is STILL socially unacceptable in most situations.
Consequently, I have been on the AttentionDeficit Express.
My sweet husband, in an attempt to settle me down, surprised me with an overnight stay in Grafton, Illinois-(more on that in an upcoming post)- and while it was wonderful and relaxing and delicious, all I could think of as I sat on the hotel deck on Sunday morning, sipping my coffee and watching the barge boats, was this: Just how many people have used this hotel coffee maker to wash their underwear?
You know what? I don't care! Underwear coffee is delish. Especially when sitting outside watching the actual working Coast of Illinois.

A thought put in my head by a discussion with my so-called friends regarding just how clean hotel rooms really are.
Why? Why do you people do this to me?

Back to reality, and work, I found that taking melatonin does help me feel sleepy. However feeling sleepy and actually sleeping are two different things. On night six of barely sleeping I was so tired I honestly couldn't open my eyes yet I couldn't fall asleep. (I highly suggest this torture as a way to truly weed out our presidential candidates.)
I spoke with the nurse at my doctor's office, and after she finished laughing at my discovery that stopping HRT causes a return of hot flashes and insomnia, she offered to send me out a sleep aid.
I am terrified of these pills.
I feel I would be entirely too susceptible to sleep eating, sleep driving and sleep gambling – which I can only assume I would be just as bad at as awake gambling.
Being the health-care professional that I am, I did what most people do. I ignored the doctor's advice and after working three 10-hour shifts in a major trauma center when the 1000 beds available were all full yet people continue to shoot, run-over and fail to take actual care of themselves, I returned home, changed the sheets, bathed in a lavender 'sleep' bath, sprayed the new sheets with lavender 'sleep' spray. I ignored the news, Facebook and all other social media, opened the window – as our AC was out due to a Wizard of Oz worthy storm – and passed out.
It is amazing what an actual good night sleep will do.

I am still not quite back to normal.
There are some who would argue that I have never been there.

But I am beginning to feel a little more like myself.
I have continued to limit my exposure to the hyper-insane news.
I am hiding everyone who posts ridiculous, poorly researched news items on Facebook.
I have started exercising again.
And I am making myself sit down and write.
I apologize if this post is not quite up to my usual silliness.
Let me make it up to you with this pictorial.
I call it:
My 70-Something Parents Meet Their First Food Truck!
This is the General Sherman Hot Dog Truck. It stopped at our local grocery store.

This is Dad. He is ordering two hot dogs. And a water. And a root beer. He is fuzzy because it is ONE MILLION DEGREES OUTSIDE.

This is Mom. This outing was part of her birthday celebration. She and I decided to split a dog.  Nothing but the best for Mom!
It seems the mustard was a little more difficult than anticipated. You can do it Mom!
While the folks wanted to take their hot dogs home to dine in the comfort of air conditioning, I made them eat outside, standing up like proper food truck hipsters. The dogs were delish.

And then we went in to grocery shop and LOOK! An ice cream sundae bar set up just for us! Don't you love when the world works in your favor!
Stay cool everyone! This is the time of year when we must remember – Come January temps in the zeros we will be praying for July again!!
Say hello to Monty! He has finally made his way to his station outside our front door. 
 Welcome to the Coast of Illinois!