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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» Sunday, February 16, 2020
The Somber End to a Fun Weekend

Well, this was it. The final Anachrocon.

We've been going to Anachrocon since it was a mostly steampunk convention at the Hilton at Perimeter Mall. (221B Con, the Sherlock Holmes convention, was also there for a while.) We sampled our first one just on a Sunday, enjoyed the few panels we saw (candy-making exhibitions, mostly), and signed up for the entire con the next year. The con branched out further once it moved to the Marriott at Century Center (where Timegate/WHOlanta was held after they moved from the Holiday Inn in Chamblee). They started having a whole track of history panels and there was also a Doctor Who track, along with costuming, fabrication, literature, and science. There are literature and science panels at DragonCon, but no real history tracks, just alternate history panels. It was so good to be able to talk to others about things that interested you in real history, like an infamous circus train crash in Georgia. Two men who re-enacted Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson also used to come to the con. Then there was a shake-up in the con committee, the con was held one year near our house (the Wyndham at Powers Ferry), and then they moved out to the Hilton at the airport like everyone (WHOlanta and 221B) else. But it was obvious at the Wyndham con that attendance was down. So...long story short, this year was the last.

We had our own obstacle this year since the lift on the truck had been broken and we were still waiting for the insurance claim to process so we could arrange to have a new one installed. There was no way James could get the power chair there. Instead we decided to take the Kia and the rollator, since it was supposed to rain most of the weekend anyway. So on Friday we packed up our food (since the restaurants in the hotel are too expensive for words; the "Italian" place has spaghetti and meatballs for $22! Even the sports bar is expensive and tiny portions; I don't want to know what the lah-de-dah "Magnolia Room" charges), headed down to the airport about 2:30, annoyed to find out rush hour had already started. I let James off at the door and went to park the car out back. Our friends Clay and Maggi had also just arrived and they turned up soon afterwards.

Spent most of this convention at the literature track, which, like last year, consisted of mostly writing panels. We spent Friday evening, in fact, solely in the literature track, where there was the one non-writing panel, the history of alternative history. The other Friday panels were about editing, writing effective villains, "That Took Me Out of the Story" (unforgivable errors mostly), and tropes.

Saturday we were there from eleven until 9:30 p.m. (and probably would have been later had I not considered poor Tucker's bladder). We did a cruise around the Dealer's Room when we arrived, then went to sit down in the 17th Century Medicine panel given by Jo Frost, waiting for the Writing Historical Fiction panel (which, as always, boils down to "research! research! research!"), and we both went to the "Writing Alternative Universes" panel.

At 2 p.m. I attended the Science Track's panel about "20s" technology. Debbie Viguie and a friend ran this as a humorous look at technology that came out in the 20s (1920s, 1820s, 1720s, 1620s...) doing a Bill and Ted riff. It was funny, and we voted for our favorite technologies and added things. (James had gone to a panel on tommy guns, and remarked wryly that he know more about tommy guns than the moderator.)

Attended the "Effective Research" panel back in "litrachure," then went wandering back to History track to see the "Untouchables" panel. Jeremiah Mitchell was still finishing the Battle of Atlanta, and it ran way, way over, so his "Untouchables" presentation was a bit truncated (but still ran over). Jeremiah loves to talk about the things that interest him, and, boy, can he talk. I'd seen the Capone/Ness presentation previously but he attacked it at a different angle this time.

So I was late getting out of that one and decided to give "Tesla vs. Edison" a miss.

The next panel was about unusual roles for women, which we all went to, but it was different from what I expected. The moderator was talking about specific people; I thought it was going to be more general (talking about women who became soldiers, perhaps, like Deborah Sampson, or about women being tram drivers in World War I, etc.). After that Clay, Maggi, James, and I stood around swapping pet stories—and watching the cute dachshund, Dobby, walk back and forth with his human, wearing a little doggy three piece suit.

The final Saturday panel was about the Kennedy assassination, which Maggi and I remember, but Clay and James don't, so they stayed outside and talked and we stayed in and watched Jeremiah, who had corralled all the conspiracy theory evidence (although there's enough non-conspiracy stuff to be puzzled about, like why no forensics teams ever saw that limousine) and started talking at 8:15, and, like the Energizer Bunny, kept going and going and going. Maggi left because her back was hurting, and I would have stayed if I hadn't started thinking Tucker was really going to need a walk—I tiptoed out at 9:30, Jeremiah having just reached the investigation that took place after the Warren Commission report.

So in we walk Sunday morning, and the first person I run into is Jeremiah. I ask "What time did you finish last night?" He said "Eleven." I just laughed.

We did three panels on Sunday, a literature one about developing story ideas, and then a panel in the history track about re-enactments and the value of historical accuracy. Instead, with the meager audience's help, it developed into funny re-enactment events and the crazy things re-enactors are asked (Jeremiah and Jo said they were both asked if their campfire was "real"). The third guy on the panel (Bill?) said that it was hard for beginners to attain historical accuracy anyway, because most re-enactors start in their teens when they have no money, and they don't have the cash to order handmade Civil War-era-like brogans ($400!). But, yeah, sneakers did kind of take you out of the moment. 😊

So we (well, Maggi and I at least) ended up back at the beginning for the last panel in Literature, "Give the Princess a Sword." Strong female characters—but don't make her a guy in a girl outfit. (The guys were outside in the open area, watching a demonstration swordfight.)

We probably should have stayed for closing ceremonies, but being on his feet was catching up with James, so instead we headed home. We did buy Girl Scout cookies before we left.

(And who was the last person we said goodbye to? Jeremiah. So he got the last word. 😉 )

There was one perk out of the Hilton this weekend: we never had to pay for parking! The ticket reader didn't work all three days—you couldn't insert the ticket into it; the feed did not work—and when you pressed the call button they just opened the gate for you. There's at least $15 saved.

Which, of course was a good thing, because as we got on the freeway we had problems in two ways: we just went straight up through downtown because I-285 had construction all weekend, only to find out the freeway was backed up all the way through downtown. Of course being stuck in traffic was the perfect time for the car to start giving me trouble. It was idling low (500 RPM) with a visible vibration, and it was fighting me as I tried to accelerate. Any speed under 2000 RPM and there was a vibration. (There was also a tick when it idled.)

We owe the hospital. We owe the IRS. And now this. Arrrrgh!

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Flourish

» Thursday, February 13, 2020
Stop the Rain--I Want to Get Off
So we've been following this weather pattern. It gets cold for a few days. The air is bracing, and you can sleep deeply at night. Then the rain comes in and it gets warm. It's wet, clammy, but still not cold enough to sleep properly. Urgh.

So far February has been mostly boring. And I was wishing for boring, so that's fine.

Trouble is, it keeps being peppered with these little things like the neverending rain. Normally we like rain. Rain mean James gets to telework if it falls on one of his weekdays. Rain on the weekend is a pain because we can't take the power chair out, which means James doesn't go anywhere but supermarkets. And that certainly fits the description of "boring." Saturday we had a little dusting of snow that promptly turned into slipper slush. James decided discretion was the better part of valor and didn't get to go to his club meeting.

But we got a double whammy last week.

On Wednesday I sat down with my copy of TurboTax and played with numbers. And boy did we get a shock. I figured we might owe money. Last year we had a month of my old salary and the unused annual leave I got in a lump sum which was taxed to the max, and those would override the fact I wasn't taking any deductions. This year I knew would be a different animal. It turned out to be a mountain lion. We're getting a small amount back from the state, but we owe an enormous amount to the Feds because I had my withholding at about $13 a month. (Yeah, I went in there and changed it. There goes $100 a month out of my pension check.) This combined with knowing we were going to owe Emory St. Joseph the co-pays for James' hospital stay last month was one whammy.

Alas, that paled to what happened last Friday. Thursday we started a series of James' doctors' appointments that were partially already arranged and partially a result of his hospital stay, and he went that day to the podiatrist so he can get new orthopedic shoes (the old ones are three years old and very scuffed). Today we had the cardiologist and tomorrow we have the nephrologist.

Friday we went to Kaiser Glenlake for James' MRI to determine if he had spinal stenosis. It took about 20 minutes, and then we thought we might stop at MicroCenter on the way home. We got back out to the truck, let the ramp down, got the chair on it, and I started the lift. About halfway during the process there's this terrible racket like the lift is struggling, although it gets all the way up. We stared at each other in bewilderment. Then I looked down. The "shoe" (that's what they call it), the little curved piece that comes around the triangular cog when the ramp goes up, and which folds the ramp up when there's nothing on it, was bent to the left and twisted. The terrible noise was the metal frame of the shoe grinding against the part that the rubber roller at the tip of the shoe usually rolls up against when it is straight.

James grumbled about having to call Mobility Works and my having to take the truck up there on Monday and more money going out, so I asked why we couldn't take it up there right then? We couldn't go to MicroCenter—if we let the chair down again the ramp might not come back up at all—so we'll see if they can look at it. Maybe they kept that part in stock, and if not, we'd order a new part. And maybe they could tell us the best way to get the chair down.

So there we stood eventually all looking at this bent piece, and the service guy said "let me take this around back and check it closer," and drove off to the back with the truck. About ten minutes later, he and Scott (who's our contact at Mobility Works) came back out. There is no way, they said, that it bent like that by itself. Not only that, but the spring that holds the ramp up was also broken, and part of the shaft was bent. Basically the whole lift would be eventually unusable; it would fail because sometime while we were in the Glenlake office, someone hit the lift and then just drove off. Mobility Works told us to call the insurance company and if the adjuster didn't understand the structural problem, they could call them and they would show him or her just what's wrong.

So there I was on the phone with Nationwide as they talked to James about all the broken parts, standing at the back of the truck, juggling the phone, my insurance card, and my tablet case (I was reading at Kaiser and while we were waiting at Mobility Works). I kept talking on the phone as we got back into the truck preparing to go home, and when we crossed Hwy 41, and when we used the small road that cuts through Cobb EMC's property. It is only when I try to find the Mobility Works card in my tablet case for the Nationwide representative that I realize it is not in the cab with me.

Like an idiot I left it on top of the power chair!

So we turned around and went back to Mobility Works, with me having a cow all the way there because of the tablet and also because I had a cross-stitch kit in there with my good Gingher scissors. We got back to the parking lot, where I figured the Case Logic pouch I had everything in had fallen off, hoping no one had run it over. But it wasn't there. Went back inside just in case. Not there. They start helping us look for it. In desperation I started walking back up the road to 41 in hopes that it was at the side of the road.

Just then Scott who had just left for the day, came back down the road with the case in his hands. He found it on the other side of 41, at the side of the road leading through the Cobb EMC facility; I guess it had stayed on the chair until we went over a bump and then it bounced off.

It didn't get run over and everything appears to be safe except one corner of the tablet cover is cracked. I was furious at myself for doing something so stupid. And also royally pissed at whomever hit the damned lift and didn't even say anything.

Case Logic, on the other hand, makes good tablet cases. Thank you, Case Logic!!!

To make sure we could get the chair down off the lift and then raise the lift back up (otherwise the truck cannot be driven), they took off the bent "shoe" and another part. So the ramp will not stay up anymore; it has nothing to hold it. When we got home we had to tie it up with some rope and three bungee cords.

And this of course means James will have to use the rollator at Anachrocon. Oh, aren't his back and ankles and knees going to love that.

At least the insurance is going to cover the claim. The adjuster came on Monday, could see all the other damage we couldn't, and said we'd be seeing the check next week.

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Flourish

» Saturday, February 01, 2020
Between the Raindrops

No, no, weather. You don't understand. You're supposed to rain Monday through Wednesday, so James can stay at home. Not Thursday through Saturday when we're (mostly) having weekends.

Thursday we got the grocery shopping out of the way as soon as possible, which is fine with me; I hate grocery shopping. James didn't need lunchmeat, which meant we could go to the Publix on Floyd Road (which doesn't have the low-sodium ham). Of course first we stopped at Lidl and got fresh bread, three gallons of milk, and an assortment of vegetables (cucumbers and onions) and fruit (oranges and Granny Smith apples), which I got 15 percent off on as a shopping reward. That was a nice surprise! Then we picked up BOGOs at Publix and headed home for lunch.

Since we'd done our due diligence, we now could go have fun. We settled for wandering around the Barnes & Noble at Town Center, although James couldn't have the hot chocolate he was craving, as the Starbucks next door had closed. (I don't have any hope that they will do the right thing and expand the bookstore into that space...)

And that was our big doings for Thursday. I'd wish for something interesting to happen, but these days, instead of being museums and trips, "interesting" usually involves hospitals and illness, so I wish for "routine" and deal with it.

Friday was damp, drizzly, and raw, and we stayed inside during the morning until it was time for lunch. We met Alice, Ken, and Aubrey at Uncle Maddio's, and then they followed us home. Aubrey was taking our old exercise bike for her own, and she was also going to contribute the box of food I had put together to the food bank at the church she works for. I don't envy Aubrey her taxes: she is working for a nonprofit, and also has her own small business, so it's complicated.

Alice invited us over later in the afternoon to watch the new Star Trek: Picard. Since we had already had our dinner at the pizza place, we told her we'd bring along our own sandwiches and we could have a picnic. We watched the first two episodes and also the interview show "The Ready Room," hosted by Wil Wheaton, about the series. It is very good! I wasn't particularly enchanted with Discovery, but this was quite compelling. Jean-Luc Picard has retreated to the family vineyard, closeted away from a world which has outlawed androids (like Data of the Next Generation series) after the android workers at the Starfleet Mars outpost went berserk and killed all the sentient beings working there. Suddenly a young woman shows up. Earlier in the episode she and her boyfriend were attacked by strange assailants; he was killed, but she automatically defended herself, she knows not how, and killed all of them. She somehow knows Picard can help her with this, but he no sooner tries than she is killed. Feeling responsible, he does some research, and comes to the conclusion that she was a perfect human-appearing android, and the daughter of Data! Plus she has a twin sister!

It only gets better from there!

And there was today: still cloudy, not as raw. James needed "plastic" cheese (Kraft cheese slices) and it was on discount at Sam's Club, so we risked the Saturday crowds and made the trip. As always, it was crowded, but the crowd was stocking up on distinctly different products than they usually buy, which was the only reason I remembered that tomorrow was the Stupor Bowl. Instead of a variety of staples, people were loading their carts with party supplies, bags of chips and bottles of salsa, long slabs of pork ribs, steaks, pre-made shish kebabs, big bags of Tyson chicken wings, pork roasts... I was starving by the time we left and the smell of the rotisserie chicken we bought did not help.

Nor was having to drive down to Hobby Lobby to get something I needed before we could go home. Found some nice calligraphy pens on discount and came home with those as well. Then James made tater tots in the air fryer and we had those with the chicken. We still have enough left for at least one meal, too. Yummmmm. Tater tots in the air fryer are prime: crispy outside, soft and tasty inside, no grease whatsover. Just crisp and potato flavor.

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Flourish

» Sunday, January 26, 2020
That Was the Week That Was - A Medical Review
Yeah, I just had to go open my yap on the 19th about how quiet January had been. Never open your big mouth about this kind of thing. Next thing we knew poor James was in the hospital for two days, precipitated by chest pain about 4:10 on Monday morning the 20th. He took two nitroglycerin and the pain lessened, but didn't go away, so we hotfooted it over to Emory St. Joseph (our first time there since Kaiser changed hospitals) and they did a battery of tests which indicated negative for a heart attack, but they admitted him anyhow, and did more tests. By the time rush hour started on the freeway (which was in eyeshot), the pain was gone and he was hungry and thirsty. He also had an x-ray and other things, and the Kaiser hospital doctor was all for rushing him into the cath lab and fixing that last capillary, but James demurred: the last thing he wants to do is go back on kidney dialysis and the contrast dye could easily push them over the edge. He told them to contact his cardiologist: if he wanted it done, James would willingly have the cath. So we had to wait for Tuesday for the verdict (the cardiologist was off for MLK Day). In the meantime we cooled our heels in the hospital, where everyone was super nice, especially the nurses Jasmine, Martha, and Lorrie, plus anyone who came to draw blood. Unlike at Piedmont, where we never saw any doctors and hardly any nurses, and the cleaning staff was surly, we saw two or three every day, from various departments, including the cardiologist.

(The only fly in the ointment in the entire stay was when I ran home after they admitted him to get his C-PAP machine. I'd left my two tablets in a carry case in the room because I saw no need to carry them home just to bring them back. While I was at home, the toilet in James' room flooded. They couldn't clear it, so they moved him to another room. About the time I was packing up to go home for the night, I asked about my carry case and my tablets. James said "Oh, we moved everything," and we started going through the stuff on the shelves in the cupboard. No carry case. Martha asked us what was wrong, and when we told her, she said, "Well, they've cleaned that room. If they found anything they should have turned it in, but I'll go check," and she came back with the case with my tablets. It was sitting in the chair where I left it; they'd cleared the toilet and "cleaned" the room and no one apparently noticed it. 😒 )

They finally decided to send James home Tuesday afternoon—by then his creatitine had climbed to 2.8 where it has held steady at 2.3-2.4 for months; they thought it was because he was dehydrated (well, of course, you nitwits: they only give you ice in the hospital now, not water, and they don't have pantries like Northside, where I could go get him a drink when he needed it). So they took him off his furosimide [diuretic] until he could see his GP and have his blood retested on Friday; it was permissible for him to start re-taking it if (1) he gained a great deal of weight immediately, (2) got short of breath, (3) started showing signs of edema, or (4) blisters on his legs.

Incidentally, on my hospital cafeteria ratings, this one gets a mediocre C. Now I admit I never did see it in complete action on Tuesday; it shuts down on weekends (which is bizarre; isn't that when people visit???) and seemed to be at half-operational status on the holiday. The food I had was okay, but I freaking object to paying $14 for two meals that consisted of a hamburger on a bun, a bag of Doritos, a pint of milk, and a pint of milk, a dozen cucumber slices, and a chicken leg quarter that looked like it came off a robin. (Let's not even mention $6/parking! If you are tending a person in the hospital, you should be able to park for free. I never heard of hospitals charging parking until I was an adult.)

So, Tuesday afternoon James finally got some sleep, with a very insecure Tucker tucked between his legs as he zoned out on the recliner. Next morning he was back to work, and he worked Thursday, and most of the day Friday, until he lost only 3  1/2 hours from the whole thing, and ended up with only a one-day weekend. I have to hand it to James: most guys would have said screw it, I want at least two days for my weekend, but he soldiered through, and he was massively busy all three days.

Friday we went to see James' GP. He was seen an hour and a half late and the first thing the doctor said was "I see you talked them out of the cath" and frankly, I wanted to belt him one. No, James didn't "talk them out" of anything. We both clearly said, several times, that if his very own cardiologist, the one who removed a couple of liters of fluid from around his heart in March of 2018 and who knows the kidney situation more than anyone except his nephrologist, wanted him to have the cath, he would have had the cath.

Anyway, the doctor told James to hold off on the furosimide until the blood test results were back. They came in Friday night and his creatitine was down to 2.1. I daresay if he could stay off the furosimide totally it might go lower. But from Sunday through Saturday James had gained eight pounds, he was puffing a little coming up the stairs where he hadn't before, and Friday night he had two small blisters on his left leg. So we made an executive decision based on what the hospital told us: he took two furosimide Saturday afternoon, and two more Sunday morning, and he's now down four pounds. Hoping he can stay on the dose of two rather than the four he was taking previously as it is better than his kidneys. His weight and his legs will keep us apprised of the situation.

We spent Saturday morning at Publix and went to Hobby Lobby as a treat, but otherwise relaxing was the theme of the day, and James was back to work yesterday.

Just keep still, Linda. Just keep still.

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Flourish

» Sunday, January 19, 2020
The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Sunday, January 19

Outside my window...
...it's dark. No time to do it during daylight, I have been quite busy all day, doing my regular Sunday chores (washing the towels, charging the flosser and the motion sensor light in the bathroom, and sorting medications for the week) and my Monday chores (cleaning the bathrooms and washing the kitchen floor), plus cooking Sunday dinner and washing the comforter for the bed and taking my usual mile-plus walk.

I am thinking...
...how fast the Christmas holidays went by! Seems like it was just December 1 and I was starting to put up the candoliers and the outside lights. I just got the last bit of the decorations (the big tree in the living room) down last Sunday. But what happened between those two times buzzed by at the speed of light! I know we did things: went to the Apple Annie craft show, watched this year's performance of "An Atlanta Christmas," had several gift exchanges, went to the Butlers' house for Christmas, and I took my annual Christmas walk in downtown Marietta. Plus we went out to celebrate "my Beatles' birthday," as Alice put it. But those swept by like the click of a finger.

I am thankful...
...for a quiet January so far.

In the kitchen...
...all is cleaned up from the dinner I cooked today: pork chops. I sauteed them in sesame oil with ginger, onion flakes, and some herbs, then finished up by poaching them in a little beef broth. Had mine with leftover rice pilaf and James had leftover spaetzle.

I am wearing...
...dark green sweatshirt, grey sweatpants, and white socks. Tomorrow I will have to put boot socks on; the low is going to be 22°F.

I am creating...
...nothing, really, since it was a work day. Well, I did create some warmth for tonight by washing the comforter. I washed it before I put it away, but we haven't used it in three or four years, and it smelled stale, and I worried that some of those stupid carpet beetles might have gotten in the bag. So I spent the afternoon washing the comforter and then running up and down the stairs restarting the dryer because a king-size comforter may be dry in one place, triggering the dryer sensor to stop, but may still be wet in other places. Had to keep pulling it out and putting it back in wet parts first so they hit the sensors.

I am going...
...to relax for the rest of the evening, I hope! I never plan on anything anymore.

I am wondering...
...if there's anything more I can do to save money. It seems to disappear so quickly, and all on things we need. I thought my spending was over for the month and here comes the bimonthly bill for the garbage collection. Sigh.

I am reading...
...in print media: Philip Pullman's Daemon Voices, about the craft of writing; in e-book format: Candid Christmas, a history of the holiday; in e-magazine format: still on the December "Good Old Days"; in magazine format: the last of the Christmas magazines, saved for last to be savored: "Early American Life Christmas."
 
I am hoping...

...to be okay enough tomorrow to go to the Atlanta History Center and that I can find a parking space. Tomorrow it is free for Martin Luther King Day and they have a new exhibit on Jim Crow, as well as an exhibit that is ending this month about women's suffrage. Plus they now have the Cyclorama there and I have never seen it—it used to be at Grant Park, near the zoo.

I am looking forward to...
...Anachrocon on Valentine's Day weekend. Sadly, this is the last one. I will miss my yearly dose of history panels!

I am learning...
...since I've been listening to the Colonial Williamsburg podcasts all afternoon, lots about colonial and Revolutionary War history!

Around the house...
...I've had this and that for an evening meal, and James is eating soup. There's nothing new good on television, so I have put on The Waltons on the Hallmark Channel.

I am pondering...
...the rest of the week. Not sure what to do if tomorrow doesn't work out.

A favorite quote for today...
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."

Edith Sitwell

One of my favorite things...
"Early American Life" magazine. I must renew the subscription this year.
 
A few plans for the rest of the week:
Well, tomorrow, I hope. Shopping on Wednesday because James has a doctor's appointment then and is working Thursday instead.

A peek into my day...

https://research.history.org/research/archaeology/history/_images/coffeehouse-dairy.jpg
Been listening to Colonial Williamsburg podcasts all day! So... archaeology on the site!

[Coda: Well, never did get to the History Center. About 4:10 a.m. James was having chest pains so I had to take him to the emergency room; chest pains disappeared about a half hour after he arrived. He is staying overnight so they can monitor his blood enzymes, and decide if they are going to take him for another catherization. The dye will do bad things to his kidneys, so his cardiologist has been avoiding doing this. We were told this morning that the blood enzymes did not indicate he had a heart attack, or at least that was the verdict this morning.]


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

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Flourish

» Saturday, January 18, 2020
Rain...and Then, For an Encore, Rain Predicted

Happily, it rained early in the week when James had to go to work, so he had the opportunity to telework. Then it was nice for two days.

Then, of course, on the day his monthly club meeting fell, it was supposed to pour.

I wasn't hors de combat today with toilet problems or any other nonsense, so I left myself open to do anything I liked. They did, in fact, open a new Cobb County library last year, and I could have gone and checked that out if I wanted. But I didn't. So we left the house about 10:45, and we made it to the restaurant before it even opened. Once the doors opened, James was off, and so was I.

I carried a coupon off to Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy some more doggy debris bags; we were down to our last three. I also found, on clearance, two pairs of thick men's socks for James to wear to bed; because of his diabetes his feet are always cold. Then I hopped over to JoAnn and bought another skein of Etoile floss and silver/blue ribbon on clearance (I need this for our winter wreath, as the Georgia sun has rotted the silver ribbon I have on it.) The last craft stop was Michael's, where I found the recent Crayola pearlescent crayon box. I didn't know these existed until last night. I had coupons for both stores, so escaped from both for less than $3/each.

Next I went to 2nd and Charles, the (mostly) secondhand bookstore. I am always aggravated when I go there, because despite the big bright halogen lights overhead, most of the rows of books are in the dark because of the positioning of shelves vs. lights. There were several times I wanted to turn on the flashlight on my phone to check out what was on shelves. As always, I found no books I had on my "wanted" list, but I did find a book: The Moor, about the English moors from Dartmoor to Yorkshire, their history and ecology.

By the time I got out, my eyes were aching from squinting and I needed to sit down (particularly in a rest room). So I went to Barnes & Noble. We got two $25 gift cards for Christmas, one from B&N and one from Amazon. James, since he now has a Kindle Fire, took custody of the latter, and I had the former with me. There was a 15 percent off entire purchase coupon this weekend, so I was able to get two books with the gift card plus less than $3: Meg and Jo, a modern retelling of Little Women, and Never Home Alone, a book about how many little critters, however clean you keep it, exist in your home. I'd been looking at it in the hardback version.

James gave me a call not soon after I'd headed back to the hobby shop and parked outside, and we wended our way home (ironically, except for the fifteen minutes I was in JoAnn and James was eating lunch with the guys, it had not rained at all). For supper James took the Italian sausage we bought at Patak's yesterday, cooked it with onions, and then made some "tater tots" in the air fryer. Oh, these were exquisite, crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, not greasy or "wet" feeling when you bit into it.

It poured again later on, but it had slacked off by the time I took Tucker outside for his final walk.

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Flourish

» Friday, January 17, 2020
Friends and Farewells

Now, today, today was perfect weatherwise! Cloudy, breezy, in the 50s. Cold enough for long sleeves and a jacket, but not so cold that you are freezing, going down to the 40s at night to keep the bedroom, even on a second story, cool enough to sleep. There are so few beautiful days like this. It's either raining and cold (okay if you don't go out) or sunny and hot—which sucks out the nose.

It was finally time: we had to go to Walmart. We were out of the waterproof Nexcare "band-aids" that we use on James' legs when his cellulitis acts up, and he wanted more sugar-free candy. So we timed it so we went there before lunch, picked up both the bandages and the candy, a couple of other minor things, and then headed for lunch at Hibachi Grill, where Alice and Ken, and Mel and Phyllis joined us presently. We were talking about the shocking news that turned up on Facebook: musician Ken Spivey had died on Tuesday! We first met Ken at Timegate, later WHOlanta, where he played Doctor Who-themed music. His shows were always enormously fun. Apparently he had been ill for some time. I shall always remember Ken, and my favorite of his songs, "Companion's Lament," which always seemed to me to be the best theme for the last day of a convention. Alice also passed around photos of Juanita and her new Sheltie puppy, Riley. We ended up telling pet stories.

When lunch broke up, we went to Patak's Meats for some mortadella and pastrami. Of course we came out with lots more: beef for stew, pork for stew, chicken wings to make in the air fryer, and Italian sausage. At the supermarket this would cost a fortune; at Patak's not so much. We stuffed the freezer full again, and had the lunchmeat at night since we'd had dinner in the afternoon.

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» Thursday, January 16, 2020
Shop Till the Money Runs Out

But, alas, it was another stock-up week: we needed toilet tissue, bath soap, Swiffer cloths, almonds, and orange cups. We got to Costco rather late as we were both up late reading last night and woke up to find the morning mostly gone. After circling to see all the toys, including one of the Scott Wilkinson-touted OLED televisions and a Surface Pro 7 and Surface Table, and all the books, we got down to searching for our targets, plus sampled some apple juice, gluten-free crust pizza, and a trail mix of very dark and not very sweet chocolate chips mixed with almonds, cashews, and walnuts. We also got vitamins, but were pissed that Costco did not have their own brand of soap. We were out, so we bought Dove, which I hate. I miss the soap they had many years ago, which was French-milled, lasted for ages, and wasn't goopy. I guess we will have to go looking for a new brand of soap again.

We also bought gasoline, then headed for Publix. Some of this was another stock up mission, plus we found a real bargain that was providential: we forgot to take something out for dinner/supper and their soups were BOGO. We got a chicken noodle for me and chili for James for today, and chicken and wild rice for another day. Also of note: BOGO chicken thighs or legs, which will make another nice supper.

Finally we stopped at Lidl for milk, bread, and ground turkey; also picked up chocolate, celery, grapes, Granny Smith apples, and onions. Some of the children's toys they had for Christmas are now on discount, so I decided to start collecting for Toys for Tots early and bought a cute little doctor's kit, and also a stuffed alpaca.

The result was that by the time we got home, changed clothes, and put the perishable foods away, it was wayyyyy after three. We had our soup and watched Caught in Providence for the afternoon, and then later on had a sandwich and did the game shows, Young Sheldon, and a Nature I recorded at Christmastime: "Snowbound: Animals of Winter."

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» Saturday, January 11, 2020
Stormy Weather and Other Weekend Tales
 
Thursday morning we had to make the long, long (45 minutes) trek down to Morrow and Kaiser's Southwood office for James' urology followup. Luckily it was a nice sunny day, there was no backed-up traffic (although even moderate Atlanta traffic these days gives one the impression they are trying to run you down), and we were taken in almost immediately. Dr. Starr was pleased, we got a new "hat" (urine measuring device), and were off after stopping for lunch at Krystal. We had no plans for the rest of the day since we had the later doctor's appointment cancelled yesterday, so, since the Books-A-Million in Acworth closed, we thought we would stop at the one at Arbor Place Mall; it was on the way home.

Boy, what a disappointment. The old store was large, and you entered from the parking lot. It's now squeezed into a storefront no bigger than an old Waldenbooks and one third of it are silly toys. I found a bargain book as a cute gift, but it's not worth driving out there anymore. Sad. James had been jonesing for a frozen hot chocolate at the J. Muggs coffee shop, and of course that was gone as well.

On the way home we stopped at Lidl to pick up milk and other necessary things.

Friday morning we rushed through our shopping trip to Publix to get on to more fun activities: lunch at The BBQ Place. I got a simple sandwich and fries, James got a sandwich platter, and we were stuffed—the portions are enormous. Aubrey was able to take some time off work, and joined Alice and Ken and Mel and Phyllis as our lunch companions. We asked after Juanita, who had been poorly at our party and it turned out she had pneumonia and was resting at home!

On our way home James stopped at Kroger for gas and I nipped inside to get some no-sodium-added mushrooms. Valentines Day was already spilling out of the seasonal aisle and sending creeping tendrils elsewhere. Once I got home, I did more Christmas divesting: woodland tree down and spare room decorations put up, Rudolph tree, master bedroom mini-tree ditto, all put up in the same box, and the box taken downstairs. Later on we had sandwiches, having had our main meal at lunch, and watched Hawaii Five-0.

Saturday we took the opportunity to sleep in. A big rainstorm was stalking in from the west and it was oppressively warm and humid for January. We decided to try and beat the rain, and went off to Barnes & Noble with coupons. James got a new John Ringo book, a "Cook's Country," and an aircraft magazine, and I scored Northland, the story of a man who hikes the US/Canadian border. Then it was finally back to work: while James retired to the kitchen to cook and roll thirty hand-made burritos to take for breakfast when he goes into work, I removed and packed up all the decorations from the kitchen and the dining room and took those boxes downstairs, leaving the foyer, the 1940s Christmas village, the living room decorations, and the tree to go.

We had the back door open and the fans madly trying to keep it cool in the master bedroom when the wind gusted and knocked one of them out of the window. I raced in the bedroom and closed the windows just in time; outside the air turned into a welter of water pounding against any horizontal surface it could, and Tucker was at the back door looking rather disbelievingly at the wall of rain beating on the deck footing. Rain was splashing in, so I shut that door, too. It was so warm the air conditioner came on not long after that.

For supper James and I had the chicken and wild rice soup we'd picked up at Publix, and did a long delayed action: turned on the Roku, went to Acorn, and finally continued watching Murdoch Mysteries. We had watched the first episode of season nine, some time back to see if Crabtree cleared his name, and then never returned. Now last night when we watched Hawaii Five-0, Grover was investigating a murder at the swanky golf club where he was trying to get a membership. Once he saw how badly the members treated the help, he didn't want to join. So tonight we rejoined Murdoch at season 9, episode 2, where Mark Twain, an avowed anti-monarchist, is invited to speak at the Empire Club, where Inspector Brackenreid is seeking a membership. After seeing how snooty they are, Brackenreid decides he doesn't want to join. We were amused at the parallel plotlines of two shows four years apart.

Was rather delighted, as well, to see William Shatner playing Mark Twain. He turned in a nicely restrained performance as a man beset by debts and required to lecture to pay them off.

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» Wednesday, January 08, 2020
Rhythm Found and Lost
And then came 2020 (whose song should be "I Can See Clearly Now") and Bill and Caran's New Year's Eve party, and the Tournament of Roses Parade now being ruined by performances at the beginning and end, and they actually stopped the flippin' parade in the middle to have another musical performance—are you kidding me? And then came cleaning the house for the party, and then The Party, which was a blast.

And so came Twelfth Night, and so came Epiphany, and Monday night, with the usual regret, I pulled all the plugs on the lights—except for the Christmas tree, which we shall enjoy at night until I take it down, and the airplane tree, which is in the spot opposite the door to the garage that provides James light "downrange" (so to speak) when he leaves for work in the morning.

So when I got up Tuesday, where to start? Upstairs? Downstairs? In my lady's chamber? I ended up doing a little bit of everything: herding things in corners out to where they will be found when I pack up (for instance, the red wire tree in the master bath or the gingerbread decorations on either side of the kitchen window), taking down all the indoor door wreaths and candoliers in the windows, packing up the couple of Christmas pillows and a throw and most of the Christmas stuffed animals. What I definitely wanted to get accomplished was taking down the airplane tree and putting back the usual light source there: the lighted autumn-leaf tree we bought at Cracker Barrel in Knoxville on our way to vacation in Pennsylvania in 2009 (so it was 10 years old in November). Got not only that done, but took down the library tree and packed up everything downstairs.

I took the opportunity to put a few things into the donation box: some candles I've never lit and don't intend to, three of a set of nine small ceramic houses, as only six fit under the library tree and there's no real room for them.

I got almost all the boxes upstairs to start packing that stuff up, but fell victim to the allure of designing a new web page. Thought it was high time to do that tribute to Kate Seredy I'd always intended to do; I'd already screencapped some of her art, but had not assembled all of it, or put together a biography and a bibliography, so I spent around three hours working on that throughout the day, then had to lay off since it was time to cook dinner: made steak and buttered potatoes. Today would be different.

But trouble was brewing: James came home Tuesday night complaining about a pain in his right lower back. It had come on him suddenly around five o'clock, and, had it been ten years ago, he would have just suspected he turned wrong. However, since the pain was near one of his kidneys, we were now more suspicious. He had to forego his Ambien to take a pain pill and then says he didn't sleep most of the night for the pain. By the time five a.m. came he was groaning audibly and said we might need to go to Urgent Care after breakfast.

Needless to say, that was enough to keep me awake until first light, not to mention wreaking havoc on my digestion. James called in sick and we decided to eat breakfast first, because once you get to Urgent Care, you could starve to death or eat the dreadful pre-made ham and cheese sandwiches they keep back there.

Kaiser keeps advertising these Express Clinics at each of their facilities, so I wondered if we just couldn't go to the one at Cumberland. So we went there first, thinking all they could do was tell us to go to Urgent Care at Town Center. I went in to see if the Express Clinic was actually open, as it wasn't last week, nor was it today (so why keep promoting it, guys????), but they had available appointments, and James could either go to a strange doctor at 9:20 or see his own doctor at two. We chose to come back at two; James swigged another pain pill and planted himself in his computer chair with a heating pad, and I frankly fell asleep on the sofa for over an hour. Then we both had something for lunch and went back for his appointment.

The doctor thinks James might have spinal stenosis (he has all the symptoms, including the pain lessening when he leans forward) in his compressed discs, and is arranging for an MRI. Oddly, we had an appointment arranged with the doctor for tomorrow after we got back from Southwood to see James' urologist, so he let us roll tomorrow's appointment into today: James needed four prescriptions renewed, asked what to do about a minor problem, and got a "prescription" to see if we can afford to get him a new power chair (he is apparently allowed one every five to six years, and he is going to have to replace both motors on the old chair anyway, which will run about $600). I just realized he forgot to ask for a referral to the podiatrist so he can get new orthopedic shoes; his are two years old and pretty scuffed up. Ah, well, we remembered most of it.

We got home in time for me to take down the net and bush lights outside, pack up the outside decorations, banner, wreath, and mailbox cover (since it's supposed to rain like crazy starting Friday), and put up the winter banner and wreath, and then come inside for supper, which was leftover egg rolls from the party and not very appetizing. I am irritated with myself for getting so nerved up I couldn't do anything during the time we were at home this morning and just lost my rhythm. (I did take the decorations down in the hall bath—but that takes like ten minutes, tops—except for the snowman soap dispenser which will get put up once it's empty.) But I could have managed more today with a lack of sleep and a dicky digestive system.

Really enjoying the Jeopardy "Greatest of All Time" tournament! The questions are really challenging and it's always fun watching these three guys play, they are so good.

Man, is anyone else staring when the date pops up on a screen or a paper somewhere "January 2020"? I mean, it's 2020. When I was a kid, that was supposed to be the super future. We were supposed to have cured cancer, defeated racism, had flying cars, and Picturephones. Of all that only the last has come true via Skype and Facetime, and really, who cares?

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» Tuesday, December 31, 2019
My Favorite Dozen Things About 2019

 1. James didn't have to go to the hospital all year!
 2. After a false start, James' arthritis medicine worked.
 3. Dark chocolate Oreos.
 4. Lidl.
 5. Finally resolved loveseat problem and moved my desk into craft room (loveseat is now a storage platform!), leaving room for toy chest in bedroom which is now blanket chest.
 6. Bought all Lassie black-and-white episodes (uncut).
 7. Finally found the baby monitor so I can use it when doing laundry.
 8. Finally rid of that stupid Pixel phone.
 9. Subscribed to PBS Passport.
10. Saw David Tennant at DragonCon.
11. Molly of Denali.
12. Pam-next-door's Christmas tree.*


*I suppose I should explain. Pam moved next door in October. She's renting the downstairs of the house, and I guess she has kitchen privileges upstairs. She has a little Shih Tzu named Diesel who is having a territorial dispute with Tucker, who imagines he owns the neighborhood. Anyway, she had a Christmas tree downstairs in her "parlor," but right before Christmas she put a real one up upstairs in the dining room window. Since she doesn't spend most of the time upstairs, most of the time there was just a little light in the kitchen and the tree glowing in the window. Well, I spent so much time staring at that tree every time I walked Tucker at night that Pam must have thought I was nuts. But instead I was flashing back to childhood and going to my Papà's house for Christmas. I've written about this several places, including in an essay called "The Magic House." From that essay:

...to slowly make my way up the cellar steps to the back entry, and thus to the kitchen.

As always it was dark, except for a nightlight, in a room that looked as if it hadn't changed since the 1940s. The newest appliance was the big white-and-chrome Roper stove with its two ovens, seated like a squat monarch overlooking a tiny kingdom. The table, looking like a dwarf compared with its big cousin downstairs, was covered with a red-checked cloth, and with the white-fronted kitchen cabinets and the homey little memorabilia on the walls and side tables, it looked like something out of a dream. Aunty never forgot the upstairs tables; cut glass dishes held ribbon candy and chocolates even here, and I'd be able to sneak a few more bites away from Mom's disapproving eye. But food was not the lure, but the light...

There was a soft glow from the dining room coming through the glass-paned door; to open it led you in a room from another century, furnished with the heavy sideboards and dining room set, and lit, like some enchanted glade, simply by the light of the Christmas tree. This had electric lights, of course, not the more dangerous candles, but these were always the original, large bulb sets, supplemented for many years by a dwindling few of the fascinating bubble lights. In those bulbs the ornaments flashed and glittered and twinkled: old molded glass fruits side-by-side with the Woolworth's balls both old--including clear ones from World War II--and new, the branches hung with the heavy old-fashioned icicles in lieu of the newer mylar ones. They danced in the little bursts of air that crept nevertheless under the cold windows and collided with the warmer air from the cast-iron radiators.

If I were truly alone, if one of the uncles had not crept upstairs to watch the big cabinet black-and-white TV and fall asleep--"I'm just resting my eyes!"--on the capacious sofa, I could curl up on the floor under the tree where brightly wrapped gifts and the manger set sat, to smooth the cotton footing under the various statues, to move sheep into their proper places, and wonder what it had truly been like in Bethlehem on that night. If you laid back on the cold floor just right and looked up, there was a faerie path between the tree branches lit by color and glitter--if you could only walk forward, you too could be a part of the Magic. There was the quiet to think, to dream, but still comforted by the sounds of the party below and the faint murmur of Christmas stories playing on the television.


Of course Pam's tree's didn't have big bulbs or vintage ornaments and lead tinsel, but lit up there, glowing multi-color against the dim dining room, seen with a stage curtain frame of drapery pulled up in a scallop on either side, glimpsed through open shutters of Venetian blinds, well, somehow, if just for a moment, that magic door opened up again and comforted me and set up longing all at once.

I miss Pam's tree.

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And So, It's New Year's Eve Again
It's a chilly day, starting out in the 30s, going up to the 50s, just the way I like it. When I took Tucker for his walk, the sky was a fierce, bright blue, the kind of color that hurts your eyes in its beauty. Birds were calling from the trees and a brisk wind swept in from the north; hard to believe two days ago it was 70°F—I much prefer the weather today, even if I could have used a heavier coat and stockings!

James is teleworking today. The swelling in his hand appears to be going down, and it hurts less, so we are crossing fingers that it was only a sprain he got when he probably slipped and caught himself (possibly when he thwacked his elbow and made it bleed on the sheets). We ice it three times a day and support it other times with an Ace bandage. I think having him not go into work yesterday, as the advice nurse suggested, was a good idea; he didn't have to risk losing his balance again or having to catch or push something with his bad hand, or lift his laptop case.

Tucker is experiencing his usual anxiety about the popping noises outside. He desperately hates fireworks. We tried tranquilizer treats on him last year and they did not work, even though we took the Petco lady's advice and started them almost a week early. At night he huddles next to me on the sofa or James on the recliner and shivers.

Nothing bothers Snowy—unless it's a loud noise close by or Mommy doing weird movements on her stepper. He's enjoyed the last few weeks with all the familiar Christmas stories and music playing away in the background. Raise the volume, he sings louder. He had a good time last night when I ran an old recording of the Boston Pops holiday concert, with Conan O'Brien reading "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

We had a quiet Christmas, but it's hard to tell because it zipped by with the speed of light. One minute Thanksgiving was over and now it's New Year's Eve. I know I decorated, made cookies, replaced 150 light bulbs on two Christmas trees (I still haven't told that story yet), walked around downtown, went to the ARTC Christmas performance, and to the Butlers' for Christmas, but that all seems like it went by in seconds. Maybe the best thing about work turned out to be how the hours crawled by any time I was in the office. 😕

I can't say it's been a bad year because we had only one scare and that ended up as spending the night in the emergency room. James did have to have those two skin cancers removed, one from each side of his face. Glad that, after a false start, the Plaquinil Dr. Salazar prescribed for James did work and he's not in such terrible arthritis pain, that the new blood pressure meds helped as well, and that just by tweaking his work snacks we reduced his A1C numbers. I want to keep this positive vibe up, because most of this year I feel like I've been an emotional wreck. I am not over the car accident last year: I hate driving anywhere anymore, even if it's to Lidl to get some of their amazing "dinner rolls," and, as James will (somewhat irritatedly) tell you, I am hyper-nervous when we drive in traffic. I am so glad I do not commute anywhere any longer (especially since traffic on both of my previous routes to work grows worse every day, and each nightly news show is lit up with the horrible accidents every day). I don't seem to get any comfort out of my crafts or writing any longer; it's only when I can disappear into a book with that great soother of souls, instrumental Christmas music, in the background, that I feel any peace at all. I feel like a lot of times I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I spent Sunday prepping a new journal; sometimes it seems as it is the sole thing that keeps me sane. Yesterday I started writing out a "20 for 2020" goal (re Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" podcast) and ended up with only seventeen items. I also answered the questions in the back of this year's journal and my answers came out pretty sad. Today I slept nearly eight hours and already I'm in the mood for a nap!

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» Friday, December 27, 2019
St. John's Day

It ended up being a quiet day because James is having some trouble with his left hand. It appears to be swollen, so when we went to Kaiser today to pick up my med refills, we tried to get in at the Express Clinic, but it was closed (so what's the use of having it and advertising it?). Our only alternative was going to Urgent Care, so we decided to try a cold pack instead.

James said he was going to hurt whether he was out or at home, so we stopped in at Hobby Lobby, where I got a few discount items, one to make a gift. By then it was after two, so we went to Tin Drum and picked up something for lunch to bring home. Tucker, of course, immediately appeared.

I decided to put a movie on: The Last Jedi, which we had, but still hadn't watched. (I thought about us going to Rise of Skywalker, but James basically can't get through a movie anymore, and even a bargain matinee would cost us both $30! Wow! I was thinking about seeing Greta Gerwig's Little Women, but even the cheap theatre is almost $8 for a matinee. I think I'll wait for it on Redbox or Netflix.) Well, it sure took its sweet time getting to the point! Great how they squeezed ninety minutes of plot into a two and a half hour film! I cannot for the life of me understand why the stupid fanboys hated Rose Pico so much that they harassed Kelly Marie Tran into getting off social media. For me, she was the best part of the film: the ordinary person just in a little awe of the heroic rebellion figures she'd heard about, thrown into the actual action.

Also glad to see Poe got to do a lot more in this film, and BB8 turned out to be a downright miracle worker.

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» Thursday, December 26, 2019
Boxing Day

Thursday morning was a definite case of "F Troop back to normal, sir!" with the additional chore of laundry that had to be done since my laundry day is Wednesday. James was out of Tylenol and mandarin orange cups, so after breakfasting and dog walking, we were off to Costco. We also picked up sliced cheese and checked out the books and the new magazines—yes, Christmas is over: TurboTax is out front and center! From Costco we went to Publix to pick up the twofers, lunchmeat, yogurt, and the other usuals, and came home. We went out so late that by the time we put the groceries up, it was after two, but I wanted to go fill up my car and check after-Christmas sales, so I left James to his computer and went out for a couple of hours.

I decided that I would choose whether I got the gasoline first or last if my low gas light came on before I got to the turn for Costco, and sure enough, it popped on as I turned on Greers Chapel Road. So it was gasoline first, then down to JoAnn, where I got three nice fat rolls of wrapping paper for $4. Stopped at Michaels, but nothing worth buying, and neither store had any bows. I could go to At Home (formerly Garden Ridge) or I could go to Barnes & Noble after that, and you can guess which I chose. Lucky I did, because they had all their featured books (the big double row of books they now keep in the front of the store) fifty percent off, and I was able to get Nathalia Holt's The Queens of Animation, about the women who worked at Disney. I loved her Rise of the Rocket Girls! It's on my list of favorite books of 2019.

Was home by 4:30 and in a little while James made dinner with two of the pork chops we got for Christmas—his mom and sister sent us a box from Omaha Steaks: some great-tasting hamburgers we already ate three off, a half dozen steaks, a half dozen pork chops, some hot dogs, and even some little desserts. All yum and nothing to dust. An inspired gift.

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» Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Christmas After All
You've heard of "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," right? Well, we had presents, but it was a rather low-key holiday itself due to James' work schedule. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty quiet. Christmas Eve morning I found the traditional King's College "Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" live on the BBC and listened to the entire thing for the first time. I have a CD of the service, but it changes each year. This concert has been done for 100 years now, and the college itself was built upon the instructions of King Henry VI. A lovely service! I particularly like the carols that don't get a lot of play here in the States, like "In the Bleak Midwinter" and the wonderful "Candlelight Carol."

During the afternoon I made a short jaunt to Lidl to pick up milk and bread, including a loaf for Christmas dinner. Afternoon dinner was a bit of a disappointment. We usually have macaroni and "gravy" on Christmas Eve, and I made some sauce yesterday, but the boneless pork ribs I used were very lean and hard, and it seemed overcooked.

Something fun happened later in the day. A few days ago I was listening to a "Happier With Gretchen Rubin" podcast when she talked about something called a "chaffle," which is a waffle made with one egg and shredded cheese, the ultimate in low carb.  I told James about it, and he was intrigued enough to order a small, one-waffle waffle iron from Amazon. It arrived and for supper he made "chaffles" with Swiss cheese and some with cheddar. I tried one of the Swiss. I really hate the taste of cooked eggs, so I poured on the maple syrup alà Addie Mills and found it bearable. Maybe I'll have some eggs once in a while via chaffles.

I had Christmas specials on all day and we watched The Homecoming at night. James got so busy with the chaffles that we never did go out and see Christmas lights, and it had to be an early night due to his teleworking next day.

I remember all those Christmas mornings I was up in the "wee smalls" because I just couldn't wait for  Christmas morning! Since I couldn't get up my mom and dad early, I would gather up my stuffed animals instead and have Christmas with them (I would buy them new ribbons at Garr's Fabrics every year). But now I'm an adult, and the best gift is sleep! So James was at his post at seven, and I slept until after eight.

Spent the morning prepping and then the afternoon cooking up the green bean casserole and the baked maple butter carrots I was taking to the Butlers. We had lunch about one and then opened gifts. James gave me three books, a Babylon 5 guide I didn't have, the Rivers of London novella The Furthest Station, and Tip of the Iceberg, a man who travels around Alaska. He also found a new Uno game for me, Uno Flip. This has a second side of differently colored cards that you play when you get a "Flip" card in the regular deck.

I bought him a Jethro Tull performance DVD, a book on the sinking of the Bismarck, and one of the two new "1632" alternative history stories.

"The fids" also "bought" us seasons 4-6 of Perry Mason so now we have the entire series (which even CBS All Access doesn't!).

About three I gathered up the food and the gifts and drove to the Butlers' house for Christmas dinner. James would join us after he finished work.

It was a lovely dinner, but Ron and Lin always have a lovely Christmas for all of our "family by choice." Each of the dishes was made with love by someone. Charles cooked a 27-pound turkey. Alex made a roast and Clair a pot roast with delicious gravy. The Butlers bought a Honeybaked ham and Ron made his killer mashed potatoes and Lin made pies. Then there was a big relish tray, corn pudding, the French bread I brought, and biscuits, and challah bread, and our carrots and beans. The green beans came particularly well even though I never did anything like this before. James walked me through it: saute some onions, then I made a mix of cream of celery soup, chopped up fresh celery into it along with slivered almonds, and then layered the onions and the frozen beans, pouring the mixture on top of them, and sprinkling the top with French's french fried onion rings, baking until it was hot. Clair particularly liked it with with the cream of celery soup.

Then we talked awhile and had dessert, and talked more and did presents. I opened two and saved another two until James got there, which he did rather late. Almost everyone had left before he was able to arrive and eat some of the food I saved him, but mostly to talk with those who were left. Helped tidy up a bit and then left Ron and Lin to some post-Christmas peace and quiet. Luckily our usual Thursday-Saturday weekend was upon us and we could stay up a little while to digest our dinners.

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