Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Thursday, July 04, 2019
...If Only They'd Stop Shooting at Me

We had a very nice Independence Day. I can't say it was the same for poor Tucker. People have been popping of fireworks all week and it has frightened him so much that he doesn't want to walk before bed.

We'd been up late the night before, so were correspondingly late in getting up. Once breakfast was over and Tucker was walked (at that point the popping was quieted), I put on our usual Independence Day entertainment, 1776. While the film was on, James made some sugar-free brownies, and I marinated a steak, and once it ended, we gathered up our contributions and drove out to the Butlers for a nice afternoon of food and friendship. There was so much food that we ended up not even using our steak. We had brought hot dogs that I'd bought earlier in the year in a fit of insanity (if it were a small pack, it would have been different, but it was a big pack and they were much too salty for James to eat), the brownies (which were quite good for box brownies, so we have a new snack that James can have), and some mixed chips to share. There were two lovely pies (and Lin made the piecrust twists I so love), potato salad, baked beans, hummus, pita chips, and other goodies, plus sausage, chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers.

Best of all, Colin Butler was visiting for the weekend. He had to go out of state (Salem, MA) to find a job in his field (nutrition), and is finally adjusting—after getting snow his first week there in March. He's getting some great experience designing foods for well-known restaurants, and is also working part time as a personal trainer hoping to get experience at that. If he's up there still in October, he'll have a great time in the craziness that goes on in Salem at Hallowe'en.

Clair, alas, had to come without Daniel; he'd had a dental visit yesterday and the dentist recommended cool and rest, so she and his brother left him with Netflix and the cat in the cool. It has been so hot lately that just parking and walking a few feet up the hill and up the driveway was a chore.

A little after six folks started wandering off. Alice and Ken and James and I had the same excuse: going home to keep the dog placated.

My problem when we got home was trying to get on some type of large screen. After two years of broadcasting the Boston Pops concert on Bloomberg TV, they decided to just do it on TV in the Boston area and do everyone else on their website. My natural choice was to go through the browser on our "Smart" television. Unfortunately the browser is stupid. It won't do live feeds, and there's apparently no way to update the stupid thing. I thought the Blu-Ray player had a browser in it, but it doesn't. So the natural choice would be to pull it up on the computer in a Chrome browser and then "cast" it to the TV, since the Chromecast has worked flawlessly when we've used it previously. Well, guess what. It cast fine, but all it cast was a Bloomberg logo. Apparently they're trying to stop you projecting events for a paying audience or something.

However, I was skimming through Facebook posts and someone was watching it through the Bloomberg channel on Roku. Hey, we can do that! And that's how we watched.

The concert was pretty good. The young lady (I think from America's Got Talent or one of those reality things) who sang the National Anthem sang it straight and didn't warble or wail. The "1812 Overture" was great as always. The only problem came at the end. The bimbos from Bloomberg declared that the whole last portion of the show ("1812," "Stars and Stripes Forever," and the fireworks) would be shown without commercial interruption. Maybe on Bloomberg TV, but we suckers watching on got two nasty commercial breaks, including one that completely ate up the fireworks finale. Creeps.

When we got through with that, I put on "Capitol Fourth," which I'd recorded previously. Some nice musical selections, a nice tribute to the moon landing, but a little bit too much of the Sesame Street Muppets interacting with John Stamos, who was a terrible host. He kept mugging to the camera and kept dragging his toddler son on stage. Gawd, what a farce. Then because it was still overcast in DC after the rain today, the smoke from the fireworks pretty much obliterated most of the view of them. They seemed to use a lot of red and yellow, which came together in waves of orange that made it look like the British were burning the city again.

While we were enjoying all the pops and bangs, Tucker was miserable. I made sure to take him out immediately when we came home so he wouldn't have to go out after dark and he was still reluctant about it, even though there was not much popping. But as soon as darkness fell the fireworks began. The people down the street were the quietest: they just shot off some small things and had crackers and poppers. But someone, or two someones, rather, on the main street, in two different locations, had come armed for Iwo Jima. Heck, all we would have had to do was walk out to the main street to get a show almost as good as on TV, and if the trees were shorter could have seen it from the front porch.

Tucker was either tucked shivering between James' legs or lying a-tremble under my seat all night, and he would not even come sit in my lap (or James' lap for that matter) as he has done on previous years. I had put Snowy's birdcage next to me on the sofa so he could listen to the music with us, and he was singing happily throughout both shows. I finally said soothingly to Tucker, "See, brother isn't afraid. Listen to him singing." Darned if Tucker didn't move himself under the birdcage for a little while (until James came back to sit in his recliner, anyway). I remember Willow doing this when she was scared, curling up under Bandit's cage, the budgie guarding the dog!

Luckily the noise didn't go on as long as it has in previous years and by bedtime it was quiet, and he was okay with receiving his cookie and going to bed.

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» Saturday, June 29, 2019
In and Out on Errands

The lower GI troubles reoccurred throughout the week. It was bad enough when it happened on Tuesday—I had to transport James to Urgent Care with a severe pain in his hip; after x-rays determined there was nothing wrong, they sent him home with pain meds and a referral, and I was so upset by thinking it might be something horrible (like appendicitis) that I worked my way into constant toilet trips (in fact, I was in there so long I managed to finish all of Alan Shayne/Norman Sunshine's book Double Life)—but it happened again on Thursday, which means we didn't get to start grocery shopping until after noon, by which time it had become hellishly hot. (I think I had some sort of low-level stomach virus. It could have been triggered by the heat; I tend to get sick when it's hot anyway. Or it could have been the lamb stew, which also gave James grief on Monday.) So we only went to Lidl and then were going to the Publix on Floyd Road, but they were out of handicapped access carts, so we ended up in Smyrna anyway, with me finding it extremely painful to sit.

On Friday, we needed to pick up what prescriptions James didn't corral at Town Center on Tuesday. Because he was picking up insulin, the pharmacy clerk (our favorite lady) at the Cumberland office gave us this big "icepack," so we were safe stopping at Sprouts for some fruits and veg before going on to Patak's butcher shop. We have only been here on the first Saturday of the month, the only weekend day they are open, so used today as an opportunity. To our relief, they have remodeled. Now you get to line up inside instead of outside, which is very helpful on a day like today. The smell in that place is incredible! If we brought Tucker here he would pass out from sensory overload. So we got a pound of fresh mortadella (half the price of Publix), some pastrami for James, fresh chicken wings (not as cheap as Nam Dae Mun, but larger), Italian sausage, kielbasa, and a pound of lovely stew beef (seriously, I need to come here for stew beef; Patak's price is what Sprouts has for a sale price).

We dropped this off at home and I put the insulin in the fridge and left the icepack out. We then had lunch at a new pizza place at Belmont Plaza in Smyrna, Your Pie. The place is nice, but the ceilings are high, meaning the acoustics suck, especially when they have background music. Had trouble communicating with the lady making my pizza because the echo was so bad. Pizza was okay. It had a crispy crust, and the service was quick. However, the crust is nowhere as tasty as Uncle Maddios. It kind of has this bland cracker taste. And somewhere either in the crust or the marinara sauce there is more stupid pepper! James also noted that, while he liked it, the Italian sausage is very spicy! He got the wheat crust and also found it pretty bland.

Finally we went to Barnes & Noble. I feel bad for the people working at the Akers Mill store: it is bloody hot in there! No air moving at all. Found Time's Convert out in paperback and discounted already, so used my coupons on Don't Make Me Pull Over ("an informal history of family road trips"), also finally in paperback, and a nifty graphic novel version of the story of the moon landing, Moonbound.

Remember those fresh chicken wings? We had them for supper. Yumm!

So we ran around for two days and discovered we had still forgotten enough stuff to occupy this morning. We had to go to Costco to fill up the truck, then stop at Petsmart for birdseed (bojemoi! big bag of seed now $19!), and I nipped into Titan Comics to see if they had any recent copies of the "Rivers of London" comics. Alas, just old ones. We had also made a brief stop at the Spring Road branch of Nam Dae Mun in search of the elusive TVP, which they call "soya." Found enough bags of it to make a small store again, including some with caramel coloring that will make the pale ground turkey meat James uses in his breakfasts look more brown and appetizing.

In the meantime, we continue to enjoy more of season one of Perry Mason and A Taste of History. I didn't know the latter was originally a PBS program.

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» Saturday, June 22, 2019
Sabbath Days

"So," I said to James, "what do we have to do today?"

You know what? Nothing. No need to go out in the damn heat. So that's what we did. I happened to change stations on the television to find something better for Snowy and came upon the last day of the Royal Ascot races showing on NBC Sports until one p.m. Ascot is basically like the Kentucky Derby spread out in five days. The Queen opens it and often watches the races (sometimes she has horses entered herself), and everyone wears their best clothes (men wear morning suits!) and men have top hats and women wear all these little colorful confections of hats. I love watching the English race horses. American horses seem almost uniformly brown—chestnuts, bays, blood bays. The horses at Ascot come in all colors, and a beautiful grey horse (not a dapple grey, which is born black and gets whiter as he gets older, but a stunning silvery pewter color) won the Hardwicke Stakes, name Defoe. You can tell this horse was well raised; he was very calm and curious about everything, ears forward, just taking it all in. Little bit of a dish to his face; that's the Arabian blood showing through.

After the races ended I put on The Right Stuff. Lots of facts tweaked and humor added, and I understand Gordon Cooper hated Dennis Quaid's portrayal of him, but a great film about the awe of flight. I was curious what happened to Jane Dornacker, the actress who played the deadpan "Nurse Murch," so looked her up. Very interesting, but ultimately sad: apparently she was the postal service's first female carrier. She did Right Stuff and another film, then got into comedy and did news reports for WNBC radio. In 1986 she and the pilot of the helicopter she was riding in crashed in the Hudson River and both died. Since her husband had died not long before, this left their only child an orphan.

[Alas, on Sunday, my lower GI was in an uproar. I got the towels washed and the meds sorted, but I was pretty sick all day. Nearly threw up a couple of times.]

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» Friday, June 21, 2019
Fire the Fire Marshall

So, having done all the grocery shopping yesterday, we were free to do something fun today—well, at least if going out in 90℉ is anyone's idea of fun. We were going to partake of the Tent Sale at Half Price Books up near Merchant's Walk in East Cobb, no book higher than $2. I have found some gems at library book sales and sales like these—the thrill of the hunt, so to speak.

Except when we got there and parked near the tent, we couldn't get in.

The fire marshall had shut down their tent sale. WTF? Apparently this is their third tent sale, no problems two previous  years, but this year "they didn't have the right permit" and also they said there was some sort of problem with the tent arrangement that "couldn't be fixed" in a short time. Huh? Aisles too narrow? Tables could be moved. I mean, the whole thing is mobile. Sounds to me as if the correct palm didn't get greased.

We did go into the store, and I found WHOology, a trivia volume, on clearance and also bought How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, which looked like an entertaining study on the creation of the films and the fandom that sustained them.

We also dropped in on Fresh Market, which I've been curious about since it opened. Hell, we couldn't have afforded to shop here when I was working. It's like Whole Foods: expensive.

So instead we stopped at Trader Joe's for a few things, including James' favorite fruit bars, and got lunch on the run, as they have these premade wraps that are pretty decent.

And then we stopped at Nam Dae Mun, mostly for Ritter peppermint bars and black soy sauce. James was also looking for TVP, which we found there last time, but seems to be gone this time. Bother. We'll have to see if they have it at the store on Spring Road.

Spent the rest of the afternoon on Amazon Prime watching Perry Mason alternating with A Taste of History. James made pork chops for supper with rice as a side.

Of course as soon as it was time for Tucker to go outside, someone started shooting off fireworks just outside our neighborhood. These weren't little firecrackers, but big Roman candles. It was so loud our neighbors came outside to see what was going on. The airshow was gorgeous, but poor Tucker was petrified. I had to pull him down the stairs calling him a good dog the entire time, and gently lead him around until he felt safe enough to pee. I thought they'd quit the barrage as I took him around the upper cul-de-sac and just as we reached the part that was closest to where the fireworks had been going off, they set off four more big ones. Tucker tried to make himself one with the sidewalk and the poor dog practically dragged me home.

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» Thursday, June 20, 2019
Grocery Store Roulette

The mercurial weather from yesterday continued today. Even the weather reporter on the news was confused; would it rain in the morning? Or in the afternoon? It looked like the answer was "morning" as I stepped out to give Tucker his walk. We did the shorter walk since the sky was looming downward and rain was spitting at us, starting to fall in earnest as we mounted the front steps upon our return. So we took the car out instead of the truck, and headed for supermarket heaven, a.k.a. Floyd Road. James stayed in the car while I stopped at Lidl since they don't have mobility carts; I got bread and the ground turkey that was on sale; he uses the latter for home breakfasts and burritos. Then we made a brief detour to Clay Street and the East Cobb library so I could drop my books off.

Then it was time to turn around to go to Publix, mainly for the BOGOs, although James did get part of his lunch meat (we would get the no-salt-added turkey at the Smyrna store), and then again I just briefly dropped in at Kroger for milk (sale this week) and salt-free canned mushrooms. Now with all these perishable foods, it was time to hit the road for home to put this all up.

We did this as quickly as possible, because by the time we finished it was lunchtime. We had a coupon for Williamson Brothers barbecue, so off we went toward the Big Chicken and then hung a left. The place was considerably busy for a Thursday at one, but we got served fairly quickly. We both had pulled pork platters; I ordered "onion rings" and indeed got two huge rings. I had to use a knife and fork, and one filled me up, so James had the other. We both had enough to take home for a lunch.

Next we were to stop at Sam's Club. We needed popcorn and mandarin oranges (both fresh and cups), and also more triple-A batteries (every remote in the house runs on them), and, alas, it was time for us to re-up membership. Well, the changeable weather, which had been raining when we arrived at Williamson and not raining and cool when we left, changed in the five minutes' drive from barbecue to warehouse. By the time we got to Sam's it was pouring—what a day to have forgotten my hat!—and the place, as always, was packed, and every handicapped space was full. But look! Here came a woman trundling out a cart. She hurriedly loaded her car and then got in. She was in a space where she could just drive out, so we lined up behind her and waited for her to go.

Except she didn't. She just sat, and sat, and a couple of times waved us to pass her. We flashed the handicapped placard at her to let her know we were waiting for her parking space.

And then she wiped her face and calmly started eating! How rude when the store was so crowded. She could have pulled over to the side and eaten there and let someone have her space. Instead, after ten minutes, another person in a handicapped space pulled out and we got her space.

So we got what we needed (plus some pepper and BreatheRight strips) and headed home. We decided to go to the Smyrna Publix to get the turkey lunchmeat and get it over with. (Why go to this trouble? James isn't supposed to have salt. He tried the no-sodium Boars Head turkey with skepticism, and was amazed when it tasted good. In fact, and I can corroborate this, it tastes better than the regular turkey lunchmeat or the reduced sodium version. So we go out of our way to get this for him because it's good for him, but many of the Publix stores don't carry it. Why? Don't know.)

At long last the shopping was over and we could go home and relax. He had a bowl of vegetable soup for supper and I had a Lidl bun with pulled pork.

Later on I discovered Amazon Prime has five of the nine seasons of Perry Mason, so we watched the first episode, uncut unlike the first time we saw it on FETV, and then I turned up a series called A Taste of History. James is crazy about a YouTube series by a man who cooks colonial foods in authentic colonial style, over a fire with only the foods and the tools of the time, so I tagged this because I thought he'd enjoy it. This is similar, a professional chef, originally from Germany, who works at the City Tavern in Philadelphia, who cooks his foods (at least for this series) the same way, over an open fireplace. After watching three episodes, all I can say is that women in those days must have had back muscles like steel and muscles in their arms like weightlifters to manage the bending over and having to shift all those cast iron dutch ovens, spiders (a frypan with legs), frying pans, and kettles! And the food he cooks is making me drool!

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» Friday, June 14, 2019
The Case of the Squinting Dog

Pretty normal morning: woke up (thankfully), did morning ablutions, breakfast and all that, and it was dogwalking time. Then I noticed Tucker pawing at his face. Then he looked into my face.

He was squinting with his right eye. In fact he looked like Schuyler when she had conjunctivitis. Oh, what now?

So we had our walk, and then James held him while I checked out his eye. Not swollen, eye not red. I got a syringe and filled it with warm water and James held him while I rinsed out the eye, then patted out any blobby stuff, but this was clear, not infected looking. We'll keep an eye on it and pick up something for it while we're out.

We had a busy afternoon. Our first stop was Petco, where I picked up something for Tucker's eye, then we stopped at Barnes & Noble. Got the new "Just Cross Stitch" and found a Flavia DeLuce book I didn't have on the remainder table. James got some magazines and a military book. As he was paying, I nipped a few stores over to CD Warehouse. Had no luck finding a BluRay Crimes of Grindelwald, but I did find The Last Jedi for $8.99 and also a BluRay of Big Jake for only $5.

We decided to have lunch at Applebees. I was happy to see you could get ribs on the 2 for $25 menu, so we did that. James had chicken stir fry and ordered me the full rack of ribs for $5 so he could have some, and we had onion rings for an appetizer (a lot better than most, still not better than Mel's Diner in Pigeon Forge). Well, my mouth was watering by the time the ribs arrived, but they were spicy. I sort of enjoyed them, especially since as I moved toward the center of the rack the heat seemed to lay off, but I was so disappointed. I wonder if someone peppered another dish while it was sitting next to my ribs, or applied the sauce with a utensil that was used with a spicy sauce. I've had ribs at Applebees before, my godmother treated me once, and they were not spicy, they were sweet and delicious. This is like the second or third time I've been screwed with ribs when eating out, even in a real barbecue place. I think I will stick to the ribs at Fried Tomato Buffet and the riblet appetizer at Williamson Brothers Barbecue. I am so sick of freaking pepper.

Then we were off to the mall. We haven't been to Town Center in ages; there's really nothing there anymore: no bookstores, no Radio Shack, no Hallmark store, no Lindt store, just an endless succession of boring clothing stores and even more boring shoe stores. There's still a Disney store there, and we did go in that, just to look around, but we were there to shop at ThinkGeek; we'd been given gift cards there over a year ago, but just had no strong urge to go to the mall because it's so boring anymore.

ThinkGeek is a cute store, but it carries more modern fandoms. Most of the stuff is Funko Pop stuff, which I'm not interested in (if they did a Lassie, or a Maxwell Smart or Agent 99, maybe), or fannish statues. I'm at the age where it's just something else to dust! So we found a card/board game based on the old Missile Command videogame, and a Ghostbusters edition of Uno which added up to just $2 over our gift cards. Otherwise, rather a depressing visit overall.

The old Waldenbooks is now a damn shoe store. Bleah.

It had been a nice day weatherwise until we came out of the mall; the lovely spring weather with warm-in-the-sun/cool-in-the-shade and a breeze had continued this morning and early in the afternoon, but by the time we got out, it was hot and uncomfortable. We had to come home by Publix since we couldn't find the no-salt Boar's Head turkey that James needs to eat. It's like only the Smyrna store has it! Also got some BOGO watermelon and the carrots we are making for tomorrow's Hair Day.

Really bushed when we got home, and dozed off on the sofa when I was supposed to be reading the newest About Time volume. Tucker's eye looked a little better, but I still irrigated it with the eyedrops from Petco and will do it again before bed. James remembered as we were treating his eye that last night he had turned around to pet Tucker and he jumped at him unexpectedly, and James thinks he may have poked his eye, so that would explain the squint. Just nibbled on French bread for supper and later on had some bruschetta cheese.

Also finished up watching Good Omens tonight. Caught both the Doctor Who jokes, and loved the ending. I'm glad Aziraphale got his bookshop back. Very bromancy at the end, and I love "the faces" they chose. 😀

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» Thursday, June 13, 2019
Tale of the Unexpected

So, another Thursday has rolled around. Woke leisurely, had breakfast, walked Tucker.

We were still having gorgeous weather this morning. Yesterday the high was only 72℉, and there was a breeze. It was like a day borrowed out of April, one we could actually enjoy without yellow pine pollen dust in the air. Had the front, bedroom, and dining room window open, and the door to the deck while we were at home. So walking this morning was a joy, even with the sun out. There was a smart breeze, and the air smelled fresh and wonderful, of grass, trees, and even flowers, rather than hot asphalt, hot concrete, and car exhaust.

When we got back, it was off grocery shopping! We got in the truck, James backed out, then stopped a foot from the garage door and said "Something's wrong." I didn't understand. I thought he meant the garage door, or, even worse, something wrong with him. "What's wrong?" To my relief, his response was only, "There's something wrong with the truck. I've got a flat tire or something."

Why, yes, yes, he did. The left rear tire was flat as a pancake. I remember when he came home Tuesday (he teleworked on Wednesday because he got about four hours sleep and didn't feel safe driving) the truck looked a little low when it pulled in the driveway, but the tire was not flat then, nor looked low.

So James slowly pulled the truck back in the driveway so as not to damage the tire, and we took the car to Lidl (where I went inside for milk and bread) and then to Publix where we picked up twofers, including more dog biscuits, and some lunchmeat and more turkey thighs. On the way home, James called AAA, and they were on their way before we arrived home. James could watch the truck's progress on a map on his phone.

Man, that's a big truck. The guy told me he towed a Hummer once! He had the spare tire out from under the truck, the bad tire off, the spare tire on, and the spare tire filled with air (there's a compressor on the front of the AAA truck) in less than 20 minutes. So Triple A has paid for itself this year.

I'd already eaten a sandwich (James was sweet and bought me mortadella, which I had with a nice fresh Lidl bun), James ate his, and we took the tire over to MMW (formerly NAPA Auto Center), although James was certain he would have to buy a new tire, and the tires for the truck are over $125 each. But...surprise! It was a puncture that could be patched and only cost $25. We hadn't been here since they remodeled, and the inside looks really spiffy now, new floor, checkout desk, even a little counter where you can get water and coffee. Mr. Gagnon, the sweet older man who would occasionally be the one who drove me home and back when I had Twilight repaired, must have retired. There's a new gang, but Mike the head mechanic is still there.

On the way home we stopped at Kroger to pick up no-salt mushrooms and found a windfall in the Manager's Special section in the meat department: three meals of sirloin steak and three meals of pork loin, all discounted. We got six main courses for dinners for about $22. Also the mushrooms. Pity Kroger is the only place to find no-salt mushrooms.

Because of the meat, we had to come straight home. We got all the servings in the freezer, and I also sliced up the green pepper we bought at Publix. Both James and I love green pepper flavor in chicken cacciatore, but we can't eat the pepper itself because it makes us sick. So I freeze strips of green pepper to break up into chicken cacciatore to give it the flavor, and then we discard the bits of pepper.

By the time that was over, it was almost time for supper. We had the last of the chicken cacciatore I cooked last time, and James had it with green beans and brown rice, and I had it with fresh French bread from Lidl. Finished my library books, watched two Perry Mason episodes, took Tucker out under an almost full moon that was so bright you could see the sky as dark blue and not black. It was so nice outside the college students renting one of the houses down the street were out goofing off on skateboards (and one on a scooter with lighted blue wheels).

There was a comment on my Facebook post about the flat tire saying that we "were sooooo lucky." Yes, we were. James teleworked Wednesday because he only had four hours sleep and didn't feel safe driving. What if he had gone to work and that tire gave out when he was driving to or from work, going 45 mph on South Cobb Drive or the East-West Connector? Or if he came out exhausted after ten hours work to find the tire flat and had to wait for AAA? Instead it went flat in the garage. So, thank you, God.

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» Saturday, June 08, 2019
Rain Detours

And so it rained.

James isn't allowed to get the power chair wet, so I offered to take him to his club meeting. He decided against going to lunch with the guys because he wouldn't be able to make the walk between the restaurant and the hobby store; just too painful for his back, knees, and feet. So we had a couple of hours to knock around before we needed to leave.

Some months back he was having painful problems with his legs. The rheumatologist told us at his April appointment that he had probably had something called a Baker's cyst that formed behind his knee that partially contributed to the problem that made it so tough for him to walk at Atomicon in March. When it burst this caused the terrible "popping" and excruciating pain he heard and felt when we went to the urologist one Friday, pain that didn't cease even when he lay down. The other problem appeared to be his home office chair. It was suddenly very wobbly and he was pretty much working his knees and feet eight hours a day balancing in that chair when he teleworked.

We called the manufacturer (Serta) and they told him they could do nothing about getting him a new chair because we didn't have the receipt (it has a three-year guarantee). Who would have thought to keep a receipt for an office chair? However, the lady he spoke to was sympathetic. She asked what the chair was doing, and James explained how very wobbly it was. She said most of the time a wobbly chair is caused by the plate at the bottom (the one that fastens the wheels and the upright with the pneumatic tube to the chair) that has cracked. She took down our address and said she would send us a new plate free of charge. This was in April. We never saw the plate and figured she'd gotten our address wrong.

Thursday when I was still looking for the missing DVD cases a box turned up on our doorstep for James. Inside was the errant metal plate.

So that's what we did this morning: take the old plate off and put the new one on, which was harder than we reckoned because the pneumatic tube was stuck fast in the hole in the original plate. We had to take turns beating the old plate off the tube with a hammer. And sure enough it was cracked. And sure enough when we put the new one on the chair had quit wobbling. So now it's back upstairs and the cracked plate is in the trash.

[Postscript, June 12: Oh, this is too funny. "Dingdong!" said the doorbell today. At the door was a package. Another metal plate from Serta! I put it away in the laundry room in case the plate breaks again.]

It was raining pitchforks and little fishes when I drove James up to Hobbytown a little after noon and deposited him as close as possible to the door. (I did not, however, park as closely as the inconsiderate dude we passed as we cruised by Bed, Bath & Beyond. The one at Town Center has a big overhang and some guy had parked his big long SUV under the overhang, completely blocking the front door of the store and the sidewalk, so he could load something into it without getting wet. Sheesh.) Then I went on to Whole Foods, as James was looking for more Hippeas (they are basically low-salt Cheetos made with garbanzo beans). Publix is always out of them and only carries three of the five flavors. I found the barbecue and the sriracha on a top shelf, of course over my head. A tall gentleman kindly helped me out. I also got some barbecue-flavor pretzels and turkey wild rice soup which we later had for supper.

From there I went to the library and read Marie Kondo's Spark Joy until James called me to come pick him up. We came home by Lidl for me to get bread, which I enjoyed with the soup, which was quite good! And by then the rain had let up, so we could ride with the windows down. (Lidl, however, had been a mess: the lines were all backed up, and there was only one self-serve register open out of four and that was misbehaving.)

Watched two more episodes of Good Omens tonight. I am not in raptures about it like some folks are (but then I've never been able to make it through a Terry Pratchett book, either), but it is fun; and I love the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley. Also love the fact that the Hellhound is now a cute terrier dog. Having peeked in the book at Barnes & Noble yesterday, it sounds as if the adaptation sticks pretty closely to the book, but that is certainly because Neil Gaiman has done it.

Oh, yeah...the box of DVD cases that I reordered yesterday was nestled before the front door when we got home. Still wonder what delayed the first so radically.

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» Friday, June 07, 2019
Rain, Forgotten Items, and Missing DVD Cases

Another late night, another somnolent night's sleep. When Tucker and I emerged for our walk this morning, it was grey overcast, not hot, but uncomfortably sticky. We encountered another person walking around the neighborhood taking some exercise as well as ourselves, but otherwise it was quite quiet this morning. Even Tucker's bete noires the cats were undercover.

We ventured out before noon to end up back at Costco, but this time just for gasoline, and then next visited the new Hobby Lobby. We weren't there for anything special, but I bought a couple of the plastic totes to use in James' truck for shopping, and we found a cute resin sleeping dragon for half price. There are even more fall items out, and the Christmas crafting items, like blank ornaments and decorated papers, are starting to appear. I found something I had wanted to buy for a friend when she retired, but couldn't afford, on a really nice discount, so I picked that up as well. All their wall decorations were on sale, and we wandered through them noting how many themes you could use in a room: superheroes, baseball, football, Western, military...they had hooks, switchplates, plaques, etc. James ended up buying one can of a new kind of spray paint for his models; it's apparently safe to use on plastics, dries quickly, and is made from sugar cane!

Then it was time for lunch, and this time we were going out for a decent meal (yes, we're looking at you, Burger King): West Cobb Diner. We both had the turkey and dressing, and I had mine with cucumber/tomato salad and James had corn and beans. Came home with leftovers to boot.

Our final stop was at Publix to pick up the stuff we'd forgotten yesterday: eggs, chow mein noodles, and Miracle Whip. The clouds had been thickening and darkening all morning, then the sky had cleared a little and there had been sun, but now they were back, boiling up on every horizon, clear thunderheads off in one direction, looking as if they were rising out of the roof of Target. By the time we got out of Publix, clouds were spitting water steadily, so we covered up the power chair and beat feet for home. Got the chair in the garage just as it started to rain in earnest; James got a trifle damp getting the ramp up.

Spent the latter part of the afternoon watching a British comedy on Acorn TV that Patti Taylor had mentioned, All in Good Faith. I hadn't heard of it before. Richard Briers plays country pastor Philip Lambe, who feels he is no longer challenged spiritually and wants to start fresh in an inner-city church. Barbara Ferris is his wife Emma, who loves the snug country parsonage and the small town they're in. They have two kids, Miranda, a teen, and Peter, who has a pet tortoise and loves computer games. The congregation includes the insufferable Major, who, frankly, would have driven me away from that parish long before. Not as funny as The Good Life, but humorous and charming. We watched the entire first series (six episodes) before and while we ate supper.

Then I hit pay dirt: a lovely three-part series called Vintage Roads Great and Small, which starred Peter Davison and Christopher Timothy, old friends since they did All Creatures Great and Small forty years ago. In three 45-minute shows, they tour Great Britain (Scottish highlands, London to Land End's, Cardiff to Snowdonia in Wales) via what we in the U.S. would call "blue highways," the old two-lane roads, in a vintage Morris 4-4 roadster from the 1930s. It was a delightful combination of two old friends chaffing each other, stunning scenery, encounters with vintage motor vehicles, and even an awww-moment reunion between Timothy and his old friend Ted in Timothy's home town of Bala, Wales. Watched this for the evening, totally enchanted.

Today also marked the end of the saga of the DVD cases. Last Saturday I ordered DVD cases for the Lassie DVDs I bought. Amazon guaranteed they'd be delivered on Sunday. Personally, I didn't care. Well, they didn't turn up on Sunday, although according to Amazon tracking they had arrived in Smyrna at 9:20 a.m. that morning. But I expected them Monday. No Monday. No Tuesday either, so that evening I sat down and had a short chat with an Amazon rep, who said he would expedite them to be delivered on Thursday, and he gave me a $5 credit, which I promptly used to order the huge Kindle-only book about Perry Mason (covers all the novels, the movies, the comic books—did you know there were Perry Mason comic books? I didn't!—and of course the television series).

Anyway, no DVDs Thursday, and today when I went in to look at it, Amazon had canceled the order and was refunding my money. I have reordered them. We'll see if they come tomorrow.

Or I just may have started the cycle over again...

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» Thursday, June 06, 2019
Thursday at Costco (Again)

It is amazing how much better we sleep when we go to bed later. We are night owls for certain, happily inhabiting a twilight world and then flinching from light when we wake in the morning. (One of my favorite scenes in Auntie Mame is early in the movie after Patrick has arrived at his aunt's house, and, next morning, comes bouncing into the bedroom and opens up the curtains. Mame blinks at the glare and comments "Child, how do you see with all that light?") Last night we weren't in bed until after one and woke naturally and mostly alert after nine. Then time was reserved for breakfast and dog walking.

This weekend we expect to be thwarted by the weather, as the forecast for rain grows graver each day from yesterday. Today we did make it out fairly freely, although the air was sticky-humid.

This Thursday looked a lot like last Thursday, because we ended up going back to Costco because we needed acetaminophen for James' arthritis. He can no longer take ibuprofin or naproxen, and they have the largest bottle of the capsules at the most reasonable price. So we wandered through the books, picked up Splenda and a few other things besides the pain reliever, and then swung around to stop at Publix for the twofers, including more pork chops. Of course once we had perishables we had to go home and put them up, but in a little while we mounted up the power chair and tootled out to Dallas Highway.

We'd planned to have a quick lunch at Krystal—I love their little hot dog "pups"—and we could get a cheap lunch for $6. Alas, their computer was down, so they couldn't serve any food at all, which I found tiresomely stupid. Instead we went to Burger King, two storefronts down. That was a mistake; we should have taken the extra time to go across the street to Wendy's. The bun was dreadful—really, I don't criticize bread that often, but this was terrible!—and I threw most of it away and just ate the burger, and that tasted funny, too. Did they cook someone's cat? At least the French fries were good: crispy on the outside, meaty inside, and not overly salted.

The Barnes & Noble portion of the trip was successful, at least for me. James didn't have any books in his series coming out. I found a new classic Star Trek novel about how Kirk earned the captaincy of the Enterprise. I was going to get Don't Make Me Pull Over, which has just come out in paperback, until I discovered that the latest book of Harry Dresden universe short stories, Brief Cases, had also just come out in paperback. So I had a nice brace of fictional men to tote home along with the sweet one driving, and I had Harry Dresden to read for the rest of the night. (But I nearly spit out my food when he started talking about Burger King food being good! 😀 )

We are still planning to eat most of our daily large meals on weekends during the day, but today we broke that rule and had it for supper instead; on the way home from the bookstore we stopped at Dragon 168 for some welcome Chinese nosh. Pork fried rice for me, since they make it the proper way without peas and carrots. James loves their sa cha beef combo.

Later it was time for Perry Mason, but I pretty much had my nose stuck in the Dresden stories otherwise.

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» Saturday, June 01, 2019
Too Short, At Least Sweet

We have conclusively proved that a three-day weekend goes by just as quickly as a two-day one.

God, it was short.

Today we had another good sleep-in, a leisurely breakfast, the dog was walked (sadly I waited until the temps were up in the 70s; they were mid-60s when we got up), and then we ran a short errand: we went to Ollie's Discount Outlet. The tarp that James uses to cover the power chair if it rains blew out of the truck bed coming home from WHOlanta, so we needed to get another, and also another bungee cord to fasten it on, as he'd been using two smaller cords we usually use to secure gallons of milk in the truck bed. The old one rotted in the Georgia sun. I found a book about Gypsy Rose Lee and the Great Depression among the bargain books, and James, having finished Sea of Glory and really enjoying it, picked up another Nathaniel Philbrick book, Valiant Ambition.

We stopped briefly at Publix so I could run in and get the loaf of whole wheat bread we'd forgotten, and I found Mayfield Dairy had mini Brown Cows (ice cream bars) in a no-sugar-added variety. We will rotate these with the dark chocolate Oreos, peanut-butter filled chocolate Twinkies, and the dark chocolate Reese's cups for desserts.

Sadly, the weather wasn't quite as nice as yesterday. The 90s had disappeared yesterday, and although it was in the 80s, there was a very nice breeze and the sun didn't feel like it was burning through your skin when you walked under it. The breeze had died down today and the air felt a little close.

And that was the extent of our day. Farkled around on the computer. Watched the first part of Good Omens, which gave me several chuckles. Fell asleep on the sofa. We had a salad with chicken meat from the rotisserie chicken we bought on Thursday for supper with a Brown Cow each for dessert. Watched a Wheel of Fortune rerun and then decided James needed a pick-me-up and put on Strategic Air Command. I know how Jimmy Stewart feels at the end of this one, too.

My nicest surprise today came after the dog started barking this afternoon. It was the mailman delivering a very special package. You see, back when Nickelodeon was showing Lassie, I always regretted not keeping all the episodes, but it was just too much. The videotapes would have cost a fortune and I would have needed two VCRs to cut the commercials out of the episodes to keep. So I just kept my favorite episodes of both Jeff and Timmy, and eventually transferred the VHS tapes to DVD. Back then Lassie turned up regularly on the rerun circuit relatively intact. Now when it does the episodes have up to five minutes hacked out of them. Anyway, there's a gentleman online who recorded all the episodes, from the first one with Jeff to the very last Holden Ranch story, and I got the black and white episodes from him. (I never much cared for the forest ranger episodes, although the first four years with Corey Stuart were okay. I don't mind watching those episodes edited, though.) The channel he recorded them from pretty much has them uncut, although they still have the syndication titles on them. (For instance, the title cards changed at least four times when Timmy was on, but they only use the second version on the syndicated prints.) Alas, they got the same butchered version of the five-part color episode "The Journey" that we did. Too much to hope for. I'd love clean, uncut network copies.

So tomorrow begins James' workweek again, and also mine: towels need washing, medications need sorting, and I'm planning to cook some turkey and some chicken to put away for next week's meals.

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» Friday, May 31, 2019
Tripping the Aisles Fantastic

We have had a taste today of how things might work once James gets to retire—that is, if the tradewinds continue to blow favorably, as Captain Daniel Gregg might say. (I can't go out and walk the dog on warm summer evenings any longer without thinking of all those evenings I had to rush home from the hospital and walk the dog and put the fids to bed and then rush back.) Yesterday we did grocery shopping during the week (a chore I would eventually switch to Tuesdays as that seems to be the day the stores are least crowded, based on my last year's experience), and today we had the totally novel experience of going to Ikea during the week.

We didn't rush anywhere. Last night we went to bed when we were tired (about midnight), rather than having to hustle to bed early (before eleven!) so James can get up at 6:15 a.m. (an uncouth hour unless one is going somewhere interesting like on vacation), and got up a little after nine. I notice he sleeps so much better when we do this. Then we had breakfast, and I walked Tucker, and we headed for Ikea around 11:30. Noticed on the way there that Sam Flax, the art store, is back on Northside Drive, after having relocated on Peachtree Street for a while. I suspect the Buckhead rents did them in. Ironically, they are now in a building that is pretty much across the street from where they used to be (which is now a Goodwill).

I wasn't out to buy anything at Ikea—we just hadn't been in a while and I wanted to take some snapshots for Alice of clever storage items, as she's having a bathroom remodel. But since you never know what you will find there, James did buy a little reading lamp to clamp on the side of the bed, as the one he has there now is large and awkward. Otherwise he rolled and I walked (the path through Ikea is one and a half miles, according to my Fitbit) looking at goodies. On the way out I bought ginger cookies. Ikea's are the best and I haven't had any since last fall.

We didn't eat there, as frankly my tolerance for Swedish meatballs isn't all that much, but were going on to West Cobb Diner. We haven't had their turkey dinner in three forevers. One of the things we would like to start doing on James' days off (and days he teleworks) is to eat our largest meal in the afternoon rather than at night. (This has the added advantage that, if we go out to eat, it's actually cheaper.) However, since it was already two o'clock and traffic was building, it looked as if it would take some time to get from Northside Drive to Dallas Highway, and we were both pretty hungry. So we had personal pizzas at Uncle Maddio's instead (ah, that exquisite crust!) and then finished the afternoon by shopping at Sprouts. They had steak on sale, and also their ginormous chicken legs for only 77 cents a pound.

We also got some chicken noodle soup at Sprouts and has a small portion of it for a light supper. It had an odd taste, not spoiled, but like someone had taken some of the clam juice from the clam chowder and slipped it into the chicken. So...not yum.

Ended up the evening watching some of the backlog of This Old House.

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» Thursday, May 30, 2019
The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...
...the sun is going in and out of the high clouds, and occasionally the trees toss, but there is no sign of rain on the horizon. After a rainy winter, it is suddenly extremely hot, especially the last few days when it has been up in the 90s. Even though I stay out of the sun as much as possible, I have not felt well the past couple of weeks, with digestive and other ailments. At least I am not as bad as last week, where, in turn, I had a stiff, painful neck, followed by a toothache and a fever, and then just general tiredness after the pain went away. Summer always messes my physiology up.

I am thinking...
...that it is still strange to be on James' new schedule. As I had mentioned, he is now working 10-hour days Sunday through Wednesday. This is the first time he's had to work a weekend day in quite some years. The worst part of the schedule is eating supper so late. The food comes back up on me despite a daily dose of pantoprazole. When James teleworks we do eat dinner in the afternoon and just have a light meal when he gets off, but we can't do that the other three days. (He could eat a big hot lunch at the lunch counter at work, but that would be expensive, and restaurant food is usually too salty for him.) This is actually the first week he has had a "normal" new schedule: the first week he had a mole removed on Thursday, and last week he had the stitches out from that surgery. We are planning to use Thursday mornings for grocery shopping; this will keep us out of supermarkets and shopping clubs on busy Saturdays and Friday nights.

I am thankful... was a "normal" Thursday instead of a surgical one! It just would have been better if it were cooler!

In the kitchen...
...the rest of a rotisserie chicken is ready to be put away. We ate the wings, legs, and thighs for dinner. We'll use the breast meat with some mixed greens, orange cups, sliced almonds, and chow mein noodles on Sunday for a dinner salad.

I am wearing... and purple and white tiny flowered print tank top and aqua shorts, and white socks. It's the only costume for weather this hot, even under air conditioning.

I am creating...
...cleanliness! Tucker got a much-needed bath today; I have been brushing him since the last one, but his fur was just getting too greasy and he was always rolling over on the carpet to rub himself against it. All I did was run my fingers through his coat to rub the soap against his skin, and then again to help rinse it off, and hair just came off tangled within them, a big chunk that glommed together into a shape bigger than Snowy. (After I walked Tucker, I brushed him as well and got two big wads of fur off with the slicker brush. All winter coat! No wonder he was so itchy!) Now I am washing the towels and his bedding. Tonight he will go to bed in a nice tidy crate.

I am going... have to stiffen my resolve about two unfinished projects: checking all the lights on the Christmas tree (a bunch of them are out, so I have bought a big bag of replacements) and tidying up the garage. What's left to do in the garage are the shelves of tools, nails, screws, etc.—in other words, the hardest part to keep tidy! Some stuff needs to go, and the rest has to be sorted.

I am wondering...
...pessimistically about the results of these later suppers. It is going to play hob with our weights, because who wants to exercise after eating dinner at practically eight o'clock (James doesn't get home until 7:40 now)? If we could both walk, it would be different, but he can't, and during the summer it's still over 80 degrees outside even after dark. Who wants to exercise in that muck?

I am reading...
...The Farmer's Son by John Connell, about a college-educated Irishman who comes home to help run the family farm (cows and sheep). It's very James Herriott-like and I love the narrative.

I am hoping...
...the weatherman is correct and it will at least go down into the 80s. 90s in May is appalling.

I am looking forward to...
...Hair Day, which has been changed to the 15th, so that James can actually go to his meeting, too, this month, and a book sale at Half-Priced Books.

I am learning... to properly give Tucker a bath in the tub. The price on the "dog wash" went up, and I have knee pads now, so I am trying it. I learned from last time and had the bathroom better prepped; I still ended up sopping wet. But Tucker is clean, and seemed very happy about it afterward, although he sits there and looks pathetic during the process.

Around the house...
...alas, James has dozed off again. Tucker is in his cave under the dining room table, and Snowy tweedles to his "girlfriend" toy occasionally. The news is on.

I am pondering... to stay awake in the afternoons after I finish chores. I'm having to get up early to take Tucker on his long walk in the mornings and it really starts to show by afternoon. Yesterday I only dozed on the sofa, but I think it's what's hurting my neck. On Tuesday, when I actually sacked out on the bed, my neck felt okay, but I had horrendous dreams.

A favorite quote for today...
This has been a favorite since I heard it on All Creatures Great and Small so long ago:
"Heat, ma am! It was so dreadful here that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones." . . . . . Sydney Smith

One of my favorite things...
I was watching it this afternoon: a syndicated courtroom show called Caught in Providence which is mostly traffic court. The judge, Frank Caprio, is what my mother would have termed "a hot sketch" and loves to invite kids up at the bench with him, and runs a relaxed, amusing courtroom.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Maybe a trip to Ikea.

A peek into my day...
A wet dog from a previous bathing session. Poor baby thinks he's been drowned.

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.



» Sunday, May 19, 2019
Time Moves Forward (And Does Not Tarry With Yesterday)
We all travel in time, the saying goes. We just travel forward and can't go back.

I'd had the time after WHOlanta pegged as quiet time, but it's been anything but—nothing really bad for us personally, thank God, but one unexpected and tragic event has happened and some interesting events have occurred.

On May 6, we heard that we lost our friend Claudia Barbour. James and I last saw Claudia at the Apple Annie craft show at the beginning of December. She was with a friend and we learned she was being treated for cancer. She told us things were going well, and we invited her to the Twelfth Night party, but she didn't come and we assumed it was because she was not feeling well due to the treatments. Evidently things did not "go well" after that December day. We remember her friendship and the fun we had launching model rockets in her horse pasture, her smile and the twinkle in her eyes.

I am continuing to try to walk more, not just for exercise, but to help my vitamin D, which is in the tank. I'm at an age where I need to worry about bone density. Tramping the same mile and a half route out of the development and back in does become monotonous, but I have been listening to podcasts ("Happier" with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft at present, until I catch up) while I do, and trying to observe what nature can be observed on a suburban street, which included having a good look and sniff at Chinese privet and honeysuckle blossoms. (I wish they made perfume that smelled like the privet! I would buy it!)

Most of the time I am amused by the birds. One morning Tucker and I were buzzed by a swallow at least four times. Since we just walked up and down the street a couple of times that day since I was keeping an eye out for the A/C guy and we were nowhere near someplace that could be a nesting site, I'm assuming this is a dashing young swallow enjoying his wings and his ability to turn on a dime. A avian Eddie Rickenbacker, as it were. One morning as we approached the daycare center down on the main road, which has a big lawn to the left of the structure, we saw a funny bird territorial dispute. There was a robin hunting worms there and apparently a male cardinal had the temerity to try and hunt a meal there, too. The robin kept chasing him off—they did that fluttering circling around each other and hissing birds do when they fight--and still the cardinal kept coming back! He only flew off a few yards when Tucker and I finally reached the driveway.

The following morning a male bluebird was perched on one of the mailboxes and I don't think I was more than two yards away from him. To my surprise instead of flying away, he flew to the sidewalk directly in front of me and pecked at something for a minute, so I could admire his lovely blue wings. I even had a close encounter with a silver spotted skipper (a type of small butterfly) who was perched on a mailbox post one morning. I stopped to admire the dark wings with the orange spots on the top and the broad white stripe under the wings, and, on a whim, held out my forefinger to it as you might to a pet bird. To my surprise it stepped up on my finger and actually let me carry it a few driveways before it fluttered off on its way. What a magical experience.

And once in a while something cute happens: one morning as we meandered toward the stop sign on Sandtown Road, walking toward us was a man with a tiny little girl. I think she was only about twice Tucker's height, and you could hear her chattering for quite a distance. As we grew closer, she saw Tucker and started repeating "Doggie! Doggie!" and the dad (I guess) asked if she could pet Tucker because "She has a cat, but wants a dog." I said "Sure, if he can quit sniffing at whatever he's sniffing at!" Would you believe Tucker was so absorbed in whatever he was trailing he had hardly noticed they were there and looked surprised when she tried to pet him? He loses track of everything when he's trailing a scent. 😊

More prosaically, the aforementioned HVAC guy did arrive to do his semiannual check. We didn't need a filter replacement at the time, so the filter I ordered is back in the garage until autumn.

I was happy to finally receive George Winston's a new album this month, as he has been undergoing cancer treatment and not done one for quite a while. I've had it on pre-order since I heard it was being released. I have to be honest; his new albums are not as good as his old—not his piano playing itself, that is as lovely as ever, but in what music he is playing. This may be due to his health, or just his own changing tastes. I'm not really into The Doors, and while I love his Vince Guaraldi tributes, I prefer his own compositions.

To temper the sad news about Claudia, we also were able to celebrate Lin Butler's retirement at Longhorn on the 10th. Good food, good friends, good chat, and a cake; you can't ask for anything better.

In routine news, I've done some spring cleaning of the master bedroom (oh, that ceiling fan! not to mention the one in the living room) and did the saddest spring task, washing and drying and putting away all the jackets, hats, gloves, and scarves. Once again we barely had a spring, but went almost directly from chill at night and nice days to 80s and, starting next week, 90s! Of course it was open window weather when the pine pollen was at its worst, so we lost over two weeks of fresh air for not wanting yellow dust all over the house.

The best television news so far: The Orville has been renewed by Fox. This has been the best season! It's still a weird show sometimes, but it gets more and more thought-provoking each week. And, in what could have been sad news, this month we also bid farewell to The Big Bang Theory after twelve seasons. James and I didn't watch this series at first; it sounded dumb. But at one of the conventions we were going back and forth to the con suite, and one time we had an hour or two between panels, and it was playing constantly on the television. After the convention we started watching the reruns on two different channels and the first run episodes on the network, and we eventually started collecting the DVDs. So this will be our final year of the tradition of buying the DVD set at Best Buy on Black Friday! It was a fun, fuzzy ending: Sheldon finally realized what he had, Leonard got to tell him off, we finally saw the Wolowitz kids, Amy got a new look and enjoyed it, and Sheldon and Amy did indeed get a Nobel Prize. They also tied it in with the end of the season finale of Young Sheldon, where ten-year-old Sheldon is listening to a shortwave broadcast of the Nobel Prize awards all alone, not knowing his future friends (shown as kids) are "somewhere out there." Later they did a wrap-up special. All very satisfactory. I will miss Big Bang, but I'm not absolutely heartbroken over its end. It's a good place to leave it. Better it goes now before someone does a Castle to it.

The big news in the last week has been James' new work schedule. Several people have left and there was not enough coverage on weekends. Alas, after so many years of being free of it, James is relegated to working one weekend day again. He chose Sunday since this will leave Saturday free for his club meeting and also for Hair Day. He also is working four 10-hour days, so his schedule is now Sunday through Wednesday. We have just begun the second week and hope to provide a little more routine to the new schedule, as last week was rather unsettled. The big event last week was James' second MOHS surgery on Thursday. He had another small basal cell cancer mole removed from near his left ear. The procedure took only two hours and then we were home with him having to ice the site every two hours. We followed all the instructions—although I almost went spare when we couldn't find the polysporin (we aren't allowed to use Neosporin), but finally remembered it was in the suitcase because we had to take it with us when we went to Atomicon—and it looks as if it is healing nicely, at least as far as "Nurse Linda" can see.

The only problem with the new schedule is that we are not eating until 7:30-8:00. This is going to play hob with both our weights. It's already bugging my digestion. One afternoon when he teleworked we did eat dinner rather than supper and that "went down" (literally) better, but that's not going to work when he's in the office. My best hope is to either have something cooked right when he gets home at about 7:40 p.m. or if it's something he needs to cook have everything prepped when he walks in the door.

I can always walk two miles, but he can't walk at all. Guess I'd better get that exercise bicycle I bought a couple of days ago assembled and see if he can ride it.

Then there was the phone saga. Last week while he was teleworking, James dropped his phone as he has dozens of times before. Unfortunately this time it hit one of the legs of the laptop desk rather than the carpet. When he picked it up it was "bruised" with tiny flecks of purple at the bottom of the screen. As the day proceeded, so did the "bruise." By next morning the screen was almost totally purple-black and unusable except for answering phone calls, since James could just swipe up in the usual place to answer it. So that evening we found ourselves at Best Buy. He was particularly interested in the new, less expensive Pixel 3a, which has the headphone jack restored to it, and he needs the headphone jack since his home headphones have Bluetooth, but they don't stay on between calls, so he uses the wire instead for reliability. But despite all the publicity about the damn things on the review sites and on television, Best Buy didn't have any in stock and James needed one for Wednesday at work. He ended up with a Motorola G7, which has twice the storage memory, and the ability to load a microSD card. The camera apparently isn't as good as the Pixel, but, you know, if we want good pictures we do have real cameras.

I was quite envious, as I've made no secret that I've never been happy with the original Pixel we got back on Black Friday of 2016. It was too small (they were out of the XL size), it didn't do a lot of the things my old Droid Turbo did (I'd wanted the Droid Turbo 2, but the ads made the Pixel sound like the greatest thing since HD-TV), and I missed the Moto Voice feature. (I eventually named the phone "U.P." for "Useless Phone.") Plus right before WHOlanta it started eating battery out of nowhere; one night I barely got to the car to plug it in before it died. I'd take it off the charger, read Facebook (no video watching) for ten minutes, and it would go down fifteen percent. So Saturday while we were out I went and picked up another G7. Alas, the one feature of Moto Voice that I loved most, the fact that you could give it a passphrase rather than using "Okay, Google" to ask it a question, Motorola (actually Lenovo) has gotten rid of. Otherwise, it's quite nice. I did have a bobble loading my old podcast app. It was a free app, but limited in how many feeds you could download and had ads. So for $3 I bought the full version (unlimited feeds and no ads), which was a separate unlock app. Usually when you buy a new Android phone, if you have been backing up religiously to Google, all your apps will re-download onto the new phone if you give it permission to do so. When they all downloaded, the unlock app was not there. When I checked the Google store, it wasn't there either, and as I checked the app itself, I realized it hadn't been updated since 2015. So, orphan app.

I looked around for the best substitute and found Podbean. I'd downloaded it, added some feeds, made some playlists, but it was dreadfully awkward; you had to add to a playlist and then download as a separate function; MyPOD did this in one action if you set it up that way. And if you used the shortcut widget, whatever podcast you were in last automatically started to play. Very provoking, and I couldn't find anything in the settings to stop it. So on a whim I loaded up MyPOD on the phone anyway to see what would happen and it mostly still works, with no ads, and I can add all the feeds I had before (I just stuck the backup feed file on the phone and told it to import and everything was there). You can't sort by title properly anymore, and every time you open it it asks that you load the unlock app, but the feeds still download and the podcasts still play. So I'll use it until it doesn't work anymore and then go back and wrestle with Podbean again.

(I should be able to go into the file folder on the old phone and actually find the .apk file for the unlock app, but I haven't been able to manage that. I did it previously on an older Android phone. Not sure if they've taken away that ability or they've just hidden the files too well.)

[Update, May 20:  I decided there must be a solution to this problem, and I found it: an app called APK Extractor (yeah, go figure). I extracted the .apk folder from my old phone and saved it to Google Drive, then went to Google Drive and extracted it to my new phone. Viola, as Snagglepuss used to say.

I can see my mother giving me that look, cupping her right hand with the thumb and first three fingers joined and bobbing it at me, and calling me "Calabrese!" Makes me laugh and cry at the same time.]

And, as Walter Cronkite used to say, "That's the way it is."

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