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 yetanotherjournal (at) mindspring (dot) com

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» Monday, May 25, 2015
A Day of Rest and Gratitude

We took it easy today: slept late, then used some coupons to get a breakfast sandwich (James) and bagel (me) plus a doughnut at Dunkin Donuts. Gave the iced coffee coupon away. Felt so bad for the employees; the doors were wide open because they had no air conditioning! It was like an oven inside. The lady who was working the ovens got a fan; that's all. We sat outside in the shade and contemplated how fast the weekend had gone by.

Then we went up to Akers Mill and I ran into Petco to get Tucker some new "poopy bags." They had them "buy two, get one free," and I thought I'd gotten a good deal until I saw the prices on the poop bags at Bed, Bath & Beyond, our next stop, to get James a new carbinator for his Soda Stream. The Petco bags are bigger and a bit thicker, but as long as they keep my hands away from the poop, I don't care about the thickness, and he ain't a big pooper. Phooey.

Then we had a nice hour or so at Barnes & Noble. I got a remainder book (Simon Winchester's The Men Who United the States) with my coupon, and James some magazines and a book about aircraft dogfights. Made a note of some books to buy with the 20 percent off coupons we have that expire in June.

We came home exhausted from the sun. James was feeling under the weather again, so he retreated to the bedroom and took a long nap. Bothers me, but the doctor did say it would take him some time to heal. I watched two episodes of The New Lassie, then found over an hour to go left on A Day for Thanks on Waltons Mountain, one of the three followup movies to The Waltons that were broadcast on NBC. They couldn't use the theme song, but I find I am still fond of the theme song used for these three films. The followup CBS films had Richard Thomas and got to use the familiar theme, but they messed up the timeline so badly that I've always been less fond of them.

James made a nice steak for supper, with onions and mushrooms, with baby Yukon Golds for a side. For dessert we had a doughnut.

Well, around suppertime a rainstorm came roaring through. Whap, off went Retro TV no matter what I did. I completely missed the first two parts of "The Twin Dilemma" (Colin Baker's first story) on Doctor Who, and was in despair of seeing Doctor Simon Locke (again) when I went into the spare room and found Retro was coming in nearly perfectly there! So I portaged the digital decoder back there and recorded the episodes. There were a few drop-outs, but not like the first time I watched the episodes in April, and it was quite understandable. Odd that 30 feet makes such a difference in the signal!

* * * * *

Today I had the freedom to rise when I wanted, shop where I liked, watch any television program I wished. Those freedoms were bought for me by the men and women of our Armed Forces. Today, on Memorial Day, I thank those who gave their lives to keep us free.

God bless you and hold you in the palm of His hands.

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Flourish

» Sunday, May 24, 2015
Traveling in Time(gate)

Wow, what a weekend!

It began inauspiciously on Friday, with James at the doctor and me at Kroger doing the weekly shopping. He was already home when I got back. The doctor says there was no use taking another X-ray because his lungs won't be well for ages yet. He needs to go back in a couple of weeks for it. So I made some sandwiches for lunch for Saturday and Sunday and pulled out snacks to put into our backpacks, let Tucker have his fill of the deck, talked to Snowy, and did some other chores. We left the house at three and still got caught in traffic heading down to "the House of Mouse" on I-75 south (but all the other routes were even longer; Fridays of a holiday are deadly anywhere). Happily, we got an excellent parking space, and ended up being first in line for check-in.

Had supper at the hotel restaurant. I wish it wasn't so expensive! But I have to admit the food is good. Had a steak dip sandwich and James had chicken and waffle (sounds odd but apparently is a traditional Marriott dish from their Hot Shoppe days). Saw Anne and Clay in the registration line and they came over and talked and had some key lime pie.

Then it was time for Opening Ceremonies, and we got our first look at Katy Manning. Katy played Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor, a pint-sized waif who made up with gumption what she didn't have otherwise. According to Katy's bio, she's 68. You couldn't tell it by the way she moves! She came flying in, all smiles, fun, and hugs and proceeded to enchant the entire audience. I couldn't wait for her panels!

My first panel was a retrospective of the first season of the new series of Doctor Who. I think we all had the same reaction: when we saw the opening scenes and heard the theme song, it was as if we had gone home. Oh, there were some oddities, like the farting Slitheen, but the consensus was that Christopher Eccleston nailed it, and some of his episodes, like "Dalek" and "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" are some of the best.

Next was "A Sense of Wonder," a panel asking if British writers did "a sense of wonder" in the science fiction field more than Americans, and which Americans still had "the touch" and did British writers are still continuing to have it. It was decided that there were not as many modern authors with the "sense of wonder," British or American. All I know is I am flat sick of dystopia!

Our final panel on Friday was a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Lost in Space, which did turn into complaints about "The Great Vegetable Rebellion," as all Lost in Space panels eventually do. But despite that coloring everyone's opinion, we have to admit there were some fine episodes from first season, including the pilot and first few episodes, and later in the season "The Keeper" and my personal favorite, "My Friend, Mr. Nobody," which was about Penny, and that after a rather uneven second season, more good episodes appeared in third season: "Antimatter Man," "Hunter's Moon" (a takeoff of The Most Dangerous Game), "Condemned in Space," and "The Haunted Lightship." We also talked briefly about Bill Mumy's graphic novel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul, which brought a conclusion to the story.

We headed home to walk Tucker, and I was chagrined to find that, although I had had success hitching the digital converter to the DVD recorder, I'd forgotten to shut off the recorder for timer recording, so I missed the next two episodes of Doctor Simon Locke after having no success at recording the first one in the spare room because the signal had become so pissy after three days of perfect signals.

The hotel does a killer breakfast buffet, but to save money we had breakfast from Chick-Fil-A on Saturday morning: nice wholemeal oatmeal and a fruit cup and some milk for me. We were at the hotel in plenty of time for our first panels, which for me was "Mr. Selfridge Calls the Midwife from Paradise," otherwise the British track panel for costume dramas. Some were recommended, like the original Upstairs, Downstairs, and the period murder mysteries count, too! However, my heart belongs forever to Flambards. ♥ ☺

And then it was time for Michele Gomez' first panel. This was quite a coup for Timegate, since Michele has never been to a convention anywhere before, and "Missy" (the newest incarnation of Doctor Who's "Moriarty" to the Doctor's Holmes) and she's just here for Saturday. She's Glaswegian by birth and apparently of Mexican heritage, and has a lovely rolling "R" Scots accent. However, she has lived in the United States for the past eight years, four in Los Angeles and now in Brooklyn. She was charming and friendly and occasionally devilish as she talked about being the newest incarnation of the Master and working with Peter Capaldi, sitting cross-legged on her chair for most of the questions. She also talked about wanting to play some of the classic roles, like Medea.

I took the opportunity after that panel to have a stroll around the Dealer's Room for a few minutes. Thought about buying a TARDIS key from the Pertwee era, but didn't. Did see a gentleman outside the Room with some Supermarionation videos and a book that looked a treat for James. He had a Parker (Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward's chauffeur) marionette on the table; I wondered if it was an original! Anyway, it was lovely; Parker was always my favorite Thunderbirds character. Then I ducked into the panel about the evolution of female characters in science fiction and fantasy. Apparently even some of the new superhero movies aren't doing justice to their female characters. Much chat about The Bechdel Test (applied against a movie, it must contain just one thing——a scene in which two or more named female characters have a conversation——that is, back and forth dialogue——about anything at all besides men) and the Smurfette Principle.

James was doing three panels at this convention, including one at Saturday at one o'clock, but I went to the Retro TV panel instead. This was all about Doctor Who, so I wasn't expecting any Police Surgeon chatter, but I wish I'd had the guts to ask! Apparently Who has helped Retro expand its stations, and it sounded as if they are planning to move it to ten o'clock. Well, rats...what will happen when Locke rolls around again?

And then it was time for Katy Manning. Once again she came bursting on stage full of energy. This woman is the most difficult person ever to photograph; she just moves every single minute! With a bright scarf, lots of jewelry, and perpetual motion, she's like some brilliant bird come down from the sky to make friends. She bounced from subject to subject at joyful will: how sad it was to leave the series but how it was the right time, taking "the pointing picture" with Peter Capaldi, who asked to see her when he found out she was filming on the very next set, her terrible short-sightedness, her philosophy on aging, which is basically to enjoy every day and stop looking back. Near the end of the Q&A, a little girl got up to ask a question, and Katy had her come close and share her mike and answer her question about if she liked working on Doctor Who. Gosh, I wish I could bleed off some of this wonderful woman's energy.

At three o'clock I went to a panel reviewing the latest season of Doctor Who. I think the consensus appears to be that "Flatline" was the best episode. I agree! it was the closest new Who to a classic episodes that I've seen in the past ten years. Also discussion pro- and anti-Clara (Lee Martindale was definitely on the anti- side) and whether the Brigadier "rising again" was a good tribute or a travesty.

I went back to Michele Gomez' second panel because—well, who knows if I'll ever see her again? Besides, she was just as enjoyable the second time around. Someone asked how she would decorate the inside of her TARDIS if she had a choice. She held up a fancy leather purse and purred "Prada!" She also told the story of how she took her nearly six-year-old son on the Doctor Who set with her. She was afraid he'd be a bother, but she discovered the makeup artists covering him in tiger stripes and his only comment about her filming was "Mummy, there was a really big BANG!" Someone also asked her to deliver a Roger Delgado (the original Master) line, which she did with fine ruefulness.

At five I met James at the restaurant. I remembered having the chicken soup at Anachrocon, and when that was still the Saturday soup, we both got that, and an order of potstickers. It's a wonderful soup, thick with spaetzle-like noodles, carrots, celery, and onions. Much yum. And then, because Alan had talked about it so much at opening ceremonies, we shared the secret desert, fried pound cake. It comes with strawberry compote, real strawberries, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I had to admit, with the strawberries it was good (James can keep the vanilla ice cream; I despise vanilla), but I would have been just as happy with the nice light pound cake with the strawberries, and you can leave off the batter.

So it was back to the panel whirl for Saturday night. I attended the Sherlock panel with Louis Robinson, Kim Holec, Kathryn Sullivan, and a lady whose name I have completely forgotten. Well, it was tagged as a Sherlock panel, and we did discuss the BBC show, but we also talked about Jeremy Brett, and Benedict Cumberbatch's other projects, and why no one ever talks about Elementary, and the gentleman who was at 221B dressed as Jeremy Brett, and all sorts of other Holmes-related matters.

I had to go to the Good Reads panel: Alice, her daughter Aubrey, and Sue were all on it. So we talked about...what else? Good books to read, and how to find them (like Book Bub) and if bookstores are dying (not yet, but...they're running scared if all those Barnes & Noble coupons are any indication), and the one question we really couldn't answer: how do we turn children on to reading something besides their hated textbooks? (Oh, Aubrey, who's in college, had a surprising revelation: the classmates she knows do not read e-books. School textbooks as e-books, yes, but real books, ones to read for pleasure? They want them in traditional format. I wonder if the booksellers know that!)

Following this panel, it was time for the cabaret. Okay, I have to admit, I was a tiny bit disappointed by the cabaret this year because it didn't have the variety of performers that they usually have. Oh, it was good, but I missed Louis doing a piece and Professor Satyre. The show was opened by "Lt. Moxie Ann Magnus, chief cosmetologist on the USS Enterprise under James T. Kirk," a fixture at Timegate. In her tall blonde beehive hairdo and her tall, tall high heels, dressed in brilliant blue, Moxie had had an aborted visit to the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones and arrived on stage with her toaster gift, which she planned to recycle. She then introduced Courtland Lewis, who wrote Doctor Who and Philosophy, who did two rock Doctor Who-themed songs. Next, Moxie interviewed Katy Manning, who had a hilarious time on stage telling an it's-funny-now story about her nearsightedness, which involved lip gloss, no mirrors in a bathroom, a perplexed woman coming face-to-face with Katy while trying to eat her dinner, and finally a prawn up Katy's nose. Finally, Moxie had Jevocas Green, who plays "the Forgotten Doctor" in a series of online videos, play her straight man (he said with a serious face, "well, that will be a first," bringing down the house) for a vaudeville act involving every single science pun known to man (or woman, for that part). A raffle finished out the festivities, and, although Gallifrey Game Night sounded like fun, letting Tucker out of durance vile and giving him a walk sounded more humane. So endeth our Saturday night.

Sunday morning was hard. I did have a moment walking Tucker; we were passing Dave and Linda's grey-and-white house (with some black highlights) when I heard a "chip-chip-chip" and looked up. There, against the relative monochrome of the grey/white/black and flat pale blue of a summer sky, was a cardinal, flame red as he perched above. Lovely!

We ate at the restaurant this morning and my wallet merely screamed. Anne and Clay had breakfast with us, and I have to admit there's a good choice and there's even a omelet station. But the Marriott at Perimeter has just as good a breakfast without the omelet station and it's only $9 at 221B Con. Wishing for better prices...

First panel for Sunday was "Books We Would Like to See As Films." I'm starting to be cynical about this subject. Oh, every once in a while you get a film like To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone With the Wind came out well, too, but mainly you get crap like the adaptation of A Ring of Endless Light. There are more bad movies made out of good books than good movies made from the same. But several books were mentioned as possibilities for either movies or television miniseries. Aubrey made a point for Cinder, a new book with a female cyborg protagonist. Some others mentioned were the Belgariad, the Retief books by Keith Laumer, Bester's The Stars My Destination, and the Harper Hall books. (The Dragonrider books were mentioned, but as Anne commented, the dragons would just be burning each other.) I'd like to see a nice retro version of Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, myself, but with my luck they'd give Kip a six-pack and a love interest. Yeeech.

Next it was take two for Katy Manning, and she was no less "up" than yesterday. Today she regaled us with stories of knowing Liza Minelli...except she had no idea who Judy Garland was. To her Liza was just her good friend and Judy was just Liza's nice mummy. She told a funny story of riding in the back seat of Judy and husband Sid Luft's car with Liza at fourteen and they were just giggling like mad and he asked crankily, "Why are they giggling?" and Judy snapped back, "Because they're 14 years old!" Years later, she was going somewhere with Liza, but this time they were traveling in a limo. Katy was wearing a skirt with an elastic waistband, and it got caught in the car seat as she slid to get out of the limo seat. So finally she ended up tripping into the street because the elastic let go and she and Liza sat there giggling madly and Liza said, "I can hear Momma now—"why are they laughing?" "because they're 45 years old!"

I went to the British history panel next. It was a little disorganized, but then it's a big subject! Maybe we should have discussed periods of history as they related to Doctor Who (although we did mention Blackadder Goes Forth and how it looked like it was making fun of the tragedy of World War I—until the last few minutes of the final episode). We chatted about Richard III, bad press, Shakespeare's play, and Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, plus car parks of course, Henry VIII, the Reformation, the everlasting rivalry between England and France, Scottish independence, and even a slight trip back in time to the Celts.

Then there was a small but interested crowd at a tribute to Leonard Nimoy. Eric Watts had a very funny story about his inner reaction (all fanboy) vs. his outer reaction (calmly shaking hands) to meeting and introducing Leonard Nimoy to the audience some years ago at DragonCon. We also looked at a couple of clips from The Wrath of Khan.

It was back to Katy Manning one last time, and I was sitting with Caran Wilbanks again as I had during her earlier panel. This was Katy, Alan Siler, and Louis Robinson, who had done part of the film editing for the story, talking about the serial "The Daemons," which was infamous in Britain for talking about Satanism, and even worse Satanism happening in an Anglican parish, and a scene where the church is blown up—it was so real looking that some people protested them blowing up an actual church! They only showed the last part, which features the Brigadier uttering his most famous line, directing a rifleman toward a living gargoyle: "Chap with wings: five rounds rapid!" and Jo Grant defeating the Pan-like alien of the piece by offering to sacrifice her life for the Doctor's. Louis made everyone laugh when he told the story about the BBC calling him, saying they needed additional editors for that episode: would he like to do it? Oh, throw me in that briar patch, B'rer Fox!

Thought I'd bump into James at the history of geeks in pop culture panel, but sat with Matt and Kelley instead. Lots of dislike for Big Bang Theory here; we didn't like it at first, either, and, like Dawn commented, it's a sitcom: blondes are dumb, men are man-boys or stupid fathers, kids crack wise. And sorry to say, although I didn't say it in the panel, I have seen or read about a lot of fans who are like the guys on Big Bang. One panelist commented that her sister didn't want to be seen in public with her if she had fannish things on! What a sad, sad person.

And then it was time for the final panel, the future of science fiction in America. Thank you, so much—more people who are flat-out tired of dystopia. Let's get out of this rut and see more space opera and readable space epics.

That's it then, everything over but the shouting...and that was done at the Wrap-Up Panel, where kudos were passed around, thanks were given, and all were appreciated. People were quite complimentary about the restaurant, especially the servers. I guess next year we will have to conserve our pennies and just grin and bear it (but Saturday breakfast from Chick-Fil-A worked out just fine). We never did check out the con suite, either.

As we were walking out toward the car, I saw Lee Martindale sitting outside having a smoke. She has to use a power chair, and I wondered if she might give us some tips on air travel. I didn't even know how they did it. Did they seat you in your chair? Does it go as baggage? (Yes, to the latter.) She was quite nice and said if we were ever seriously considering a trip to e-mail her and she would send a checklist to help us. So maybe we can fly some time in the future after all.

Well, we were exhausted by the time we got home. I took Tucker for a walk and then barely had the energy to open up a can of soup. Bed felt very good tonight!

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Flourish

» Monday, May 18, 2015
Never a Moment's Peace
I wanted James to have as much rest as possible today and going downstairs to deal with the mailbox post repair was not in the game plan. So I stayed home, thinking I might be able to work, but instead I was awake half the night, including when James awoke thinking his C-PAP machine had failed. (Instead, there's a leak in the mask, so he exchanged it for another one and finally did get some sleep.) When the alarm went off, I had a pounding headache which I treated with ibuprofin and more sleep. Had just finished with walking Tucker and having breakfast when the man and his partner (maybe father?) turned up to do the mailbox. He was able to mount the piece of wood with the number on the new post, and had the post painted and drying while they squared off the hole and poured the Quikcrete. (Had to scrabble to turn on the outside faucet, though, and we need a new hose; it has a split in the middle.) The post was back up, painted, and the mailbox remounted in a little over a half hour. (We'd toyed with having him get a new mailbox, too, but...no. Maybe next payday. This one is now pretty battered.)

One of the things that happened on Thursday when James was at Kaiser for eight hours was that he was supposed to get some additional blood tests. He was told when he was sent up to Town Center that they would do them there. Well, they didn't. So when the mailbox was finally in, I took him to Cumberland to get the rest of the blood tests. It was lunchtime, so we were going to Panera afterwards, but the Cumberland location is in a very tight corner, and there were no parking spaces. So we went to Tin Drum and barely found a seat, but then it was lunchtime.

When we got there it was sunny, although there were gray clouds hanging in the north over Kennesaw. I put the sunshades on the car and cracked the sunroof a little, having already dropped James off so he wouldn't have to walk too much. Then once we had ordered and barely found a seat, he noticed he'd left his tablet in the car. I went to get it because the heat is bad for it. It was still sunny. Twenty minutes later, eating our bowls, there was a rumble of thunder and suddenly outside it was awash.

And my sunroof was cracked open!

I was sopped by the time I got back inside, although for half of the trip I did have an umbrella. I was still wet after we finished eating and went directly home. I covered up the bed for James and about an hour after he lay down I dragged in there to lay down myself, still cold from being wet although I'd changed the moment we got home. He was having trouble sleeping, but I settled down on the comforter with a fleece and prepared to seriously nap.

And then it thundered. Heck, it was a cannonade. It sounded battle going on out there. And then the hail began, followed by torrential rain that beat on the bedroom windows. Weather alarms on my phone went off. And on James' phone. And an alarm. Arrrgh!

I did sleep fitfully until 5:30, only to discover (1) James never did; he went outside to watch the storm, and then Tucker clung to him for the rest of the afternoon, and (2) the mail had run, so I guess the mailbox post is stuck fast, and (3) the sun was already back out. Yay. Yay. And booooooo.

Just had GrapeNuts for supper and James ate some leftover barbecue and part of the soup I bought him yesterday, and then the usual Doctor Who (we've lost Tegan so it's about time for Peri to show up; maybe we need to stock up on cheese to go with the whine).

I thought James sounded better this morning, and he didn't seem to be quite as tired today, so says he is going to try to go to work tomorrow. So we need to get ready for bed early. I can record Police Surgeon, so no worries (at least I hope) about that. If they don't fill in with the missing second season episodes, they should start Doctor Simon Locke again on Thursday second showing.

Wish they'd find "Marooned"....

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Flourish

» Sunday, May 17, 2015
In Search of...

Left James having breakfast after a late sleep, to go pick up a few more things at Kroger. I got him some soup for lunch, a rotisserie chicken so we wouldn't have to cook tonight, some Hormel beef tips and gravy, and a few other things, and picked up a prescription. Came home to put the things up, had some soup for myself, and then dragged myself off to Lowe's in search of a mailbox post. They had them, of course, but did not have anyone to install them.

It was already hot and miserable, but I went over to Home Depot. Had a bit of difficulty finding the right department (mailbox posts are with hardware at Lowe's, but with lumber in Home Depot), but once I got there, they were very helpful. When I said neither James or I could install the post, the clerk put a request for quotes with four companies on something called "Red Beacon," which I guess is like Thumbtack. These people would call us at home and talk to us about installing a mailbox post. As I walked out of the store and called home, asking James to pick up the phone if it rang (we don't usually), the line was already busy! In fact, two people had already called, and James was talking to a third! He said he could come over first thing tomorrow morning to check out the job, and he gave me a rough estimate. I said okay, and then called up the first person who had left a message to see what he had to say. Well, he could come over right then to give me a quote. James was back in bed by then and I was dearly in need of a nap as I hadn't slept well and my left leg was hurting from hip to ankle, but I told him to come on over and spent the rest of the time finally taking down the Easter decorations from the foyer and putting up the minor summer ones: the seashore display on the blue table and the forest animals and trees on the divider. He came just as I finished.

To make a long story short, he not only gave me a lesser estimate, but he said he would try to replace the number plate that is on all the other mailbox posts (with our house number in black, incised letters) and he'd buy paint and paint the new post, too. So I took the deal, and then immediately notified the other two people who had called. The guy I'd talked to on the phone sounded a bit miffed and I was upset about it all night. I hate having to make decisions where someone "loses."

But I think a lot of this was because I was so worried about James.

He decided he wanted Chinese, so we didn't have the rotisserie chicken after all. I had wings and he had something spicy. We watched things off the DVR—and, oh, finally, they are replaying the Bing Crosby special I missed in December, so I programmed it!—including a very creepy Big Picture about virus spreads, until it was time for Call the Midwife. This was the season finale and ended happily for some (Chummy came back from the Mother's Home and made a decision about her mother's ashes, Bert and Violet's relationship eventually ended happily, a young deaf mother gave birth with her husband there to translate for her, as the midwives have been pushing for) and devastatingly for others (Trixie had to admit something she had been denying, Patsy and Delia's friendship reached an insurmountable empasse, and another young mother with severe nausea got medical assistance that helped her, but there was a catch). Very emotional throughout, and it was wonderful to see Miranda Hart again!

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Flourish

» Saturday, May 16, 2015
Seesaw Saturday

Today started on Thursday.

James had noticed for the past week or so that he was unusually tired. He doesn't sleep well anyway because he has restless leg syndrome and twitches in his sleep. But he's also had some trouble breathing as well. Since he had the day off Thursday from working Sunday, he made a doctor's appointment for the morning to make sure it wasn't something serious.

He didn't come home until after six, having determined that his heart was okay—but he has walking pneumonia! And if he's not feeling better by Tuesday he's supposed to go back for more x-rays and may have to go into the hospital!

So Friday I teleworked so I could take care of Tucker and take care of James if he needed it. He was supposed to be on complete bedrest, but he spent four aggravating hours trying to get ahold of the advice nurse at Kaiser because he was rather weirded out by the instructions on the paperwork that went with the antibiotic he was taking: it said if you took OTC pain meds you might suffer from nerve damage (and he needs the pain meds for his arthritis and was unable to sleep from the pain) and if you took oral diabetes medication you might have a reaction. They finally told him it was okay to take all the meds he was curious about, but it took a lot of time away from when he should have been sleeping. I wasn't having much luck with the work I was doing; I had one order that wouldn't complete because a totally new error message came up. And I had stomach cramps after lunch.

Once the day ended, and James went to lie back down, I went downstairs to fetch a package that was on the porch. It was the little Proscan digital converter box I had found on Amazon.com; I thought I could run the antenna in the spare bedroom through the box and into the VHS/DVD recorder and possibly record Doctor Simon Locke. And, astonishingly, it worked. Now, to watch the television you have to turn the recorder on, but it seems a small price to pay if I want to record something else, including Lassie on CoziTV or Rin-Tin-Tin on Antenna TV. Unlike the old converter box from my mom's TV, this did tune in Channel 32-1 and all its subchannels, including RetroTV, but this is seven years newer.

The neat thing about this tuner is that if you put a USB drive into it, it records to the USB drive. I tried it on one episode of Police Surgeon and got a very nice copy of the show in a format that plays on Windows Media Player. Now I need to figure out how to program the silly thing. Anyway, we had leftovers, watched Doctor Who and Police Surgeon, went to bed.

Today I was determined James get more sleep. I got up at nine and walked the dog, then grabbed up my wallet and went to Sam's Club by way of Publix (I wanted a baguette and they had nice hot beef vegetable soup that I picked up for James for lunch). At Sam's I finally gave in and bought a third Leaf antenna. The poor rabbit ears balanced on the big television are just giving up the ghost. I also bought a USB drive packet that has a tiny 16GB drive that I was going to use for the Proscan (except the Proscan doesn't recognize it even though it's formatted as FAT32 just like it's supposed to) and also a 16GB drive you can plug into your cell phone and transfer files to and from it (this works okay). And then milk, Jamaican meat patties, some grapes, Tyson teriyaki chicken for supper, and some mandarin oranges in juice. Got out of there in a trice because the Sam's Club self-checkout has one of the laser guns instead of you having to pick stuff up and use a scanner. It makes it so much easier. Topped off my gas tank, too.

James was just getting up to eat when I got home, so he had his soup and I had a sandwich, and then I plugged the Leaf antenna into the big television—it was getting great reception just sitting on the stepladder! Once determining I was getting the same channels as the old rabbit ears, I rescanned the channels. Still didn't get GPTV. Sigh. And to my surprise, the Atlanta Channel didn't come in, either, although it came in on scans for the other two antennas. But everything else tuned in quite well. Decades was showing a Dark Shadows marathon. Sam Groom showed up on Gunsmoke on ME-TV. Then someone had a Twilight Zone marathon going.

About four James went back to bed and I shut off most of the lights and sat writing in the cool dimness. Tucker was asleep with Snowy occasionally protesting behind me because I'd shut off the noise. When James got back up after six, we had some of the teriyaki thighs from Sam's Club and I bounced around on the broadcast channels for a while, then put the satellite back on. Except for the Britcoms, there was nothing good on. Later we watched a British special about the Golden Age of mystery stories—featuring lots of Dorothy Sayers!—and this week's episode of Star Talk.

Just as As Time Goes By began, James thought he heard something being dropped on the porch and Tucker sprang up and began to bark frantically. When I went to look out the window, our mailbox post had fallen down! We went out to look at it; it seems to be of natural causes and the bottom of the post is all crumbly. I supposed someone could have knocked it down, and if it had fallen northwards I would be more suspicious, but it fell to the southeast. Someone would have had to be driving on the wrong side of the road to make it go over. Possibly the post even had termites.

So now there's something else I have to do tomorrow. I never will get all the Easter decorations taken down and put away.

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Flourish

» Sunday, May 10, 2015
Mother of Fids

So James went off to work and I went on the run. Instead of breakfast, I grabbed a Belvita bar and multi-tasked by eating while walking Tucker. Then I tucked him back into his crate and scampered off to the grocery store: first Publix for twofers—I grabbed yogurt there, too, since Kroger is so erratic—plus a treat for Mother's Day, some lamb shanks, and buy-on-get-one Hallmark cards. I still had to go to Kroger for my sandwich buns and the Edge shave gel I forgot at Publix. Picked up some stir-fry beef, burritos for James, and the newspaper.

Good work—did them both in a bit over an hour!

Once the groceries were shelved, we were off on an excursion, "we" meaning me and the ADHD terrier. He sat in the passenger seat of the car, cool as you please, on his hind feet looking out the window. Of course he was less thrilled at our destination: Unleashed, where it was time for him to hit the dogwash. Surprisingly, considering it was Mother's Day, there were a lot of mothers giving dogs a bath. One had just finished; the other two tubs were taken up by a patient-looking Golden Retriever and a nondescript curly-spotted mutt. We had to wait for the third tub to be washed out, as apparently it had contained two small but very shaggy dogs.

As always, when he was wet and soapy he looked like the saddest, most abused puppy in the entire world, tail between his legs, head down, a picture of abject misery, continuing that way through the rinse cycle. It was so warm out I only gave him a cursory dry, which he appreciated because the dryer is so loud. As we checked out and paid, the cashier gave us a whole small bag of dog treats! He was very appreciative, although he was only allowed to eat one.

Well, he'd eaten and I hadn't, but I still needed to feed the car. The QT at the corner of Austell Road and South Cobb Drive was over fifteen cents cheaper than anyone else, so we went the long way round and "fed the car" there. It was only when we got home, wayyyy after two, when I got something to eat. Watched an episode of Elementary, worked on a story, played "red dot" with Tucker, talked to Snowy, made the bed, and, of course, cleaned out Tucker's crate and put his bedding to wash.

A funny thing happened. We have an old folded towel in the crate, with a remnant of fleece on top of it. On top of the crate, I've always put another old towel, so he has a little dark cave. Well, the top towel was in the washer, and I left the spare behind in Gatlinburg, so I just put the fresh bedding in the crate and to my surprise he went in there and slept all afternoon instead of going into his "cave" under the table! Can it be he's never liked the covering?

We had ziti and homemade gravy for supper—mmmn, nice tender pork!—and I had bought a slice of chocolate decadence cake for James and I to split as it is Mother's Day.

Oh, he gave me the cutest present: it's a book of cartoons called The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes, done by a long-time Holmes fan who finally was invited to become an official Baker Street Irregular! The cover cartoon sets the stage: the front of 221B Baker Street with a welcome mat that says in large, friendly letters "DO NOT CLEAN YOUR BOOTS."

Watched Murdoch Mysteries and tonight's episode of Call the Midwife (another tearjerker) until it was time for bed.

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Flourish

» Saturday, May 09, 2015
The Collie, the Doll, and the Wardrobe

It's always something. :-)

After breakfast and having walked the dog, we set to work on Operation Closet. We had all the parts, all the items were cleared out of the back of the closet, James had gone downstairs to get the drill and the bits and the screws...wait. Stud finder? Check! Pencil? Check! Hooks? Check! Supports? Check! Drill and bits? Check! Two inch deck screws?

What, we only have three-inch deck screws?

So our shelf project was on hold about a half hour while we went to Vickery Hardware for two-inch drywall screws. And I did manage to remember to pick up a 9-foot extension cord for the Christmas tree, so that's finally off my to-do list.

The shelf itself was anticlimactic. I used the wall patch mixture to cover the neat drywall-anchor-sized holes, and then we installed the shelf in the studs this time, and I vacuumed the mess of drywall powder left on the rug. Then we went out for lunch at Williamson Barbecue. I don't know why we bother ordering entree plates when we'd both be satisfied with the appetizer plate of riblets! (Just wish they wouldn't drown it in so much sauce.) But we had a coupon, so now we have something extra for pot-luck night. Finally we stopped at Sam's Club to get an antenna for James' television. It's cheaper to buy the pair at Sam's than to buy the single antenna full price. Since we were there, we got milk, Skinny Pop, and canned mushrooms.

Once we were home, the patch compound was dry, so I sanded it down and pulled out the can of paint we used to cover the scars of the repair the wall in the kitchen, and I painted all the patches, and also some scuffs and nicks. I vacuumed once more and then left it for a while as I did other things. For supper we just scrounged around in the closet; I had Grape Nuts. Later on, when I was sure the paint was dry, I moved the stuff back in the closet. This time I put the big suitcase with the smaller one inside it in the corner, my baking board and the two boards we put on the stove for the serving dishes when we have a party against the wall, and then in a row next to the suitcases the "bug-out" backpacks we have in case of emergencies. Next I hung up the winter coats, my work-in-the-yard pants, my dress pants, my jeans, and James' dress pants. On the shelf I put the carry-on size suitcase, the toiletries case we use for the critters' food and the dog's bowls, the other foam pillow we got with the mattress, and a spare feather pillow.

There was a casualty. Corey, the big stuffed collie dog I bought for myself when I first went to work—Mom kept him after I left home and she always claimed he looked so real that she felt safer—and Matilda, the doll my Papà brought me home from Italy, were in the corner when the shelf fell. Matilda has a dent in her head. She looks pretty shabby anyway because she's either been in the attic or the basement most of her life. I wasn't actually allowed to play with her. I know I could take her to a doll hospital, but I kind of wonder what's the use—I don't have a little girl to hand her down to.

James had to go to bed early due to work tomorrow, but I stayed up a bit past midnight chatting with Emma before I gave into the soreness and retreated to bed myself.

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Flourish

» Friday, May 08, 2015
Operation Antenna

Been a busy, busy day. First the usuals: up, walk the dog, eat breakfast. Next, I had to do something about the shower in the master bath. It absolutely wears me out to clean it, so it only gets a lick and a promise. In Rhode Island that might work, but here, with the hard water, and the fact that you can't open the window, the soap scum, the rusty water marks, and the increasing spots of mold are hard to hold back. So I ran hot water in the shower to steam it up, stripped the sheets off the bed, scrubbed the toilet, and then got to work on the shower. I started with my old Mr. Clean extendable scrub brush, but that's never enough. I finally had to go in with the Soft Scrub and the scrubby sponge and bend down to scrub by hand. The shower door had a lot of soap scum. When I do this when James is home, I get him to keep pressure on the door while I scrub, but this time I could only use my right hand to hold the door closed and my left to do the scrubbing. I have arthritis now in my hands and especially in my elbows after hurting them when we moved work from Buckhead to University Park (movers moved the boxes of contracts, but we had to pack the contracts in the boxes; I remembered to move so that I didn't hurt my back and hurt my arms instead), and by the time I got done my hands were shaking. It took me about an hour to get it just so.

I gulped some milk and rewarded myself for cleaning the shower by sitting down and finishing work on my Doctor Simon Locke webpage. I was really just doing a short page for Police Surgeon; try as I might, I still can't rustle up much enthusiasm for the follow-on series. As I commented: I think what's worst about Police Surgeon is that it so typifies the urban decay of the 1970s...[i]t's all there in faded color: the drug pushers and the desperate addicts, the crumbling city infrastructure, the protection rackets leaning on the small business owner, idealistic police officers battered from all sides by their social conscience and their fears along with their opposite number, the cops "on the take"...time machine time. It's, quite frankly, depressing to someone who lived through it.

Quite out of nowhere I decided to work on the antenna project. We have two small televisions in the house that use only antennas, as they aren't used much. Well, antenna reception around here frankly sucks. We have a rabbit ears/round UHF antenna combo on the main television to get the "side channels" like ME-TV, AntennaTV, GetTV, and, of course, RetroTV, which is showing both classic Doctor Who and Doctor Simon Locke/Police Surgeon. We got it years ago from Radio Shack and it's led a hard life; one of the aerials is actually almost snapped in half and is wired up and duct-taped together. To get RetroTV it sits rather drunken-looking on top of a plastic bookrest that's balanced on the television, with one aerial up and one aerial down like Small One's ears in the Christmas cartoon. But reception-wise it's heads-and-shoulders above every other set of "superior digital TV antenna" that's set foot in the house since: both of the small televisions only get about six channels total: WSB and its two subchannels ME-TV and Laff, WTBS, the local CW channel, and a couple of Spanish channels. I lucked out and got a special sale on the Amazon Fire Stick for $20: James keeps that downstairs for when he's in his "man cave," but he mostly watches Svengoolie's campy movie, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Lost in Space when he's down there on Saturday nights.

Back before Christmas James had a day off and stopped at Sam's Club. He came home with a set of two "Leaf" digital antennas and they've been sitting by his desk ever since. One was a flat square and the smaller one looked like elongated moth's wings. The other two antennas we have are so crummy that I didn't hold up much hope for them. And...antennas with no adjustable aerials? How did you pull the signals in? A couple of weeks ago a woman called Leo LaPorte about "cutting the cord" and he recommended a Leaf antenna. Could there be something to these things after all?

The package came with a "Leaf Metro," with a range of 25 miles and no amplifier (the moth), and a "Leaf Ultimate" (the square one, now known as the 50), with a range of 50 miles and with an amplifier. I discarded the idea of the Metro immediately and attached the Ultimate to the television, mounting the antenna high on the wall over the spare room door, and then scanned the channels. Well, it did quite well, identifying 43 channels, picking up Fox5 and the religious channels, several more Spanish channels, and WPBA, the Atlanta PBS station, but it was still missing WXIA [the NBC affiliate) and several other channels, including RetroTV, that it should have been receiving. It's always seemed funny to me that trying to program any of the televisions in any other room but the living room gave such limited channel choices. So I wheeled the TV on its cart out into the living room, draped the antenna on one of the curtain rods, and ran the scan again. This time it identified 60 channels, and both RetroTV and WXIA showed up. Weird, I tell you, these digital signals. The distance between the living room and the bedroom is, by James' estimation, about 30 feet. Why such a disparity in tuning? Pretty soon I had blocked out the Spanish channels, the church channels, the shopping channel, and the jewelry channel, and was ready to take the entire dog-and-pony show back into the bedroom.

I wished I could do one more thing, though, record off RetroTV, but the DVD recorder/VHS unit is, of course, analog and won't record digital signals. And then I thought of the converter box. We inherited my mom's "kitchen TV" after she passed away, and James used it for a while including after the switch to digital, when we bought one of the converter boxes for it. Both are still in the closet. So I rooted out the converter box (since at this point it's under the shelf that fell down), attached it to the antenna, the box to the DVD/VHS, the DVD/VHS to the television...and...it worked!

Except for one teeny, tiny detail—while it got almost every single station that the television tuned in, the exception was the side-channel stations based at Channel 32 on the dial, which, of course, includes RetroTV (Channel 32-7).  Just typical of life, as February Callendar commented.

(It appears that the converter box will get the side channels on already established broadcast stations in Atlanta. We get 2-2 and 2-3 because 2-1, WSB, has been a broadcast channel for years. We get 5-2, 11-2 and 11-3, and 46-2 and 46-3, etc. because they are the local Fox, NBC, and CBS affiliates and also established broadcast channels. But Channel 32, as far as I can tell, didn't exist before there were digital stations. So the converter only picks up 32-1, the guide to the other channels, but not the subchannels, including Oldie Goldie and RetroTV. Piffle.)

Anyway, I put the converter box away, disappointed, and wheeled the television back into the spare room. This time with the Leaf mounted in the same place as the first time, I got every single channel I had tuned in in the living room, with the exception of the Atlanta Channel, which is basically a tourist channel that tells you about attractions in Atlanta. Odd because it came in clear as that proverbial bell in the living room! But no loss. Then I started moving the antenna around until I had that same signal somewhere a little less obtrusive. It ended up right over the window, where most of the coaxial cable is hidden by the curtain or tucked against the baseboard.

We'll have to get another and tune James' little set downstairs in the living room before taking it downstairs and manipulating the antenna down there. It would be nice if he had more choices than Svengoolie! Might be good for the living room, too—but right now I don't want to mess with RetroTV's signal since they're showing Doctor Who eps I don't remember all that well and since another showing of Doctor Simon Locke should be in the offing.

By this time it was three o'clock and I was conscious that I hadn't eaten, nor had I taken the sheets down to wash. So I warmed up and ate a small leftover piece of steak with a glass of milk, then started the sheets washing, then put the fresh sheets on the bed (we did the pillows later). By this time every joint in my body ached from the shower intervention, so I took four ibuprofin and spent an hour or so reading Erik Larson's Lusitania book and watching a marathon of Love: American Style on the new "Decades" channel (69-2) followed by forty minutes of Star Trek on ME-TV ("Patterns of Force," a.k.a. "The Nazi One"). The pain eased a bit as I took Tucker outside—he was very good all afternoon, either in his "cave" or out on the deck—for his walk just before James arrived. My Hamilton Book shipment had come in, too: two hardback books which I had intended buying in paperback this summer at $7.99 which I got from Hamilton for only $4.99, and that beautiful Smithsonian History of America in 101 Objects valued at $50 which I got for $14.99.

We had supper at Tin Drum again. James had the Thai Curry, which he enjoyed, and I had the teriyaki chicken again, but on noodles. This was good, but very drippy; the noodles definitely didn't absorb the sauce like the rice does. We made a brief stop at Bed, Bath & Beyond with an expiring coupon and I bought some Command hooks. Then a final stop at Barnes & Noble because we had soon-to-expire coupons there as well: one that came via e-mail today, and two that had come in the mail. I got the third book in Victoria Abbott's mystery series with the 15 percenter and with the two 20s I got a nice new hardback copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and a 2002 book about the Lusitania. And then at checkout I saw there was a new Penderwicks book! Arrgh! Too many books, not enough coupons or time.

Came home to "Warriors of the Deep" on Doctor Who and then completing making the bed and finally Police Surgeon. Sal Mineo was in the first episode and Susan Strasberg in the second; let's say her elevator didn't go all the way to the top anymore. Like Blanche Dubois, she was depending on the kindness of strangers.

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Flourish

» Sunday, May 03, 2015
Just Another Manic Sunday

That sun is always too bright, especially at ten o'clock. But then we were up really late, because Mike had turned up on chat and we hadn't spoken to him in awhile. We did not visit our beloved pillows until around 2:30 a.m.

It was business as usual: taking Tucker for a walk, breakfast, and the weekly trip to Kroger. We found some meat bargains, and James picked up ground pork to make "pork glop" with peanut butter. I chose to buy a couple boxes of the Jimmy Dean chicken barbecue sliders and we had one each after we put the groceries away. Two of them make a nice meal; these were just a snack.

There was something, unfortunately, we'd forgotten at Kroger. I wanted wild bird seed anyway, as I had cleaned off the deck last night and noticed how lonesome the empty feeders looked, so we went to Walmart. Of course none of the power carts worked (the ones at Walmart always look like gorillas have used them in games of catch, and some kind person had left chicken bones on the footboards of the dead one I found in the parking lot), so James limped through the store as we picked up the pharmacy item he needed, then I left him at the bench at the pharmacy and went to fetch the birdseed.

On the way home, we stopped at Lowe's to get the parts to fix the shelf in the closet, although it's not going to get done this weekend. It's already after three and it will take us an hour just to get the coats and the pants out of the closet and get ready to work. We had an extra key made as well so that the next time one of us gets locked out there's a chance a friend will have the correct one!

Once at home, we refilled the can and I topped off the bird feeders and put out the finch sock I bought at Kroger. I always whistle as I refill the feeders, in the hope that the birds will come to associate the whistling with full feeders. (I know, how Pavlovian.) It must work because there have been two cardinals, two chickadees, and a titmouse there already. :-) I'm hoping the finch sock will bring the goldfinches back—at least before the damn squirrel chews through it.

Sat down to watch some things off the DVR. Saw an episode of The New Lassie that Angel2 had previously not rerun. I don't remember this episode at all; it's the "infamous" one that features a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Despite that, it was a pretty good episode, with a rattlesnake threatening an antique shop owner whom Will is doing business with for a baseball card. Stopped the DVR-ing long enough to watch the last fifteen minutes of the Pioneers of Television special on Robin Williams. Still makes me cry.

Next a new Brian Unger show, Time Travels. Once again Unger investigates historical events, but this one is much better than the second season of How the States Got Their Shapes. In each episode, Unger goes to two locations, and takes five people along with him to discover hidden history. The first episode featured the Golden Gate Bridge (they went down into the piers where the suspension wires are buried) and the first famous skyscraper in New York City, the Woolworth Building—apparently tourists aren't allowed inside! What a shame; the lobby is so beautiful, with fretwork and mosaic work, and Frank Woolworth's office in the penthouse is mostly marble. The second show featured the gunfight at the O.K. Corral (secret: that wasn't where the gunfight was held) and "divorce ranches" from the 1930s-1960s. I have the rest of the series scheduled to record!

We watched the last Big Picture I had recorded, about trash and the recycling of same, as we ate dinner, the shrimp from Trader Joe's with spaghetti in garlic butter sauce on the side. Now we are watching Star Talk with Christopher Nolan as the guest star.

Next up: Call the Midwife!

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Flourish

» Saturday, May 02, 2015
Practicing for DragonCon

We got a rude surprise yesterday. James asked to work May 16 or 17, so he could have the Friday of Timegate off. Well, he's not only working one Saturday during May, he's working three. Sigh. So we decided to go to the Farmer's Market today since we can't go together for the rest of the month. Yes, we took Tucker with us; he needs more to do than the daily walks and a few pets and scritches from the kid down the street. He had a lot of fun, too, and we would have had a lot more fun if it hadn't been so crowded.

Turns out there was some type of carnival on the courthouse side of the square, the artist's market on the side of the square where the Market usually sets up, and the Farmer's Market itself was squashed in on the side street where it's held during the winter. We ended up parking behind Johnnie McCracken's pub, careful to avoid the rear lot of the pottery place which tows at the least provocation (they have at least put up larger signs, but it looked like someone got towed anyway and took revenge: their plate glass window had a shot through it this morning, with the glass all crazy-paned), and crossed Glover Park to get to the vendors. When they cram them on Mill Street like this, it's crazy hard to get around, and even worse for James in his chair. Let's say that in his navigating the people and the booths that it was good practice for him at DragonCon.

We bought some bacon—Tucker even got a little piece—two scones, a huge chocolate chip cookie that we split for dessert tonight, and James bought tamales and some tamale sauce. As we were heading back to the truck, we noticed the flag was out on The Corner Shop, and the proprietor was just putting out "It's a Girl" balloons. The British Royal Family has finally had their blessed event: Kate had a little girl. Now she has the set. :-)

In the meantime little terrier-nose had his paws full dodging people and touching noses, from a huge goldendoodle to a Shih-Tzu/Maltese puppy who was very shy of his forward play invitations.

We brought Tucker and the groceries home, gave him his breakfast, and went off on our errands for the day. But first, it was lunchtime! We ate at Whole Foods because I remembered their yummy cucumber-and-tomato salad. This I had with barbecue pork and olives, plus a slice of nan bread and a cup of minestrone. Next I "drove" the power chair down to the Hallmark store while James brought the truck down to the other end of the shopping center (saved loading the chair and messing with the lift). We had some coupons to use on a Mother's Day card, and if we bought $20 worth of stuff, we got a $10 gift card. Well, in the Betsy's Hallmark catalog, there was a nifty silicone "pad" that can be used as several things, including a trivet, but we were interested in using it to microwave soup. Usually we stick the bowl in the microwave and then have to be careful carrying the hot bowl out. This goes on the carousel and then you can turn the sides of the pad up and lift the soup out without burning your hands.

The $10 gift card will come in handy when the ornaments come out in a little over two months. The catalog just went live online at the beginning of the week. Not too many things I want, but James is very excited about the P-38 plane for this year. And there is a lovely anniversary ornament with white doves, which I think I will buy as a keepsake because this year is our 25th.

We stopped at Trader Joe's long enough for me to run in for some of the shrimp for supper tomorrow night (sadly, the chicken apple sausage was out of stock), and at the Chicken Salad Chick store so James could get more of their fruity chicken salad. Finally we stopped at the comic book store on East Piedmont, which was jammed because it was free comic book day. Supposedly there was a free Doctor Who comic this year, but those were long gone by the time we went by at three.

I don't get it. Everyone loves when it gets warm and they drink up the sun. When we both got home we were exhausted, not from all the errands, but just by being out in the sun. It's like it sucks every inch of energy out of my body, and I felt like I was sunburned even though I had my hat on most of the time. We came in and fell asleep for over an hour, and then rustled up a pot-luck supper because of the big lunch. James had something with beans, and I ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich made from the baguette I bought at Whole Foods, some frisee with black cherry balsamic vinegar (from the collection we got in Helen during Atomicon), and some milk, of course. We watched this week's episode of Hawaii Five-0, the latest Ask This Old House and This Old House, Thursday's episode of The Big Bang Theory, and then three episode's of Kal Penn's series The Big Picture, in which subjects ranged randomly from sex (drive-in prostitution in Switzerland?) to the internet to food.

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Flourish

» Sunday, April 26, 2015
Quick, Before We Melt

I slept last night, but not very well. While I was taking my shower, there was a terrible thumping sound. I jumped out of the shower, yelling, thinking James might have fallen. He thought I had fallen in the shower stall.

What actually fell was the back shelf/rod in the closet, the one we hang our dress pants, my jeans, and the winter coats on. The suitcases are kept on the shelf, which pulled right out of the wall because it looks like none of it was fastened into one of the studs. The wall anchors just gave way and pulled through. And here I was Friday thinking how good it looked now that the big suitcase was tipped up on its side.

It doesn't look as if anything got hurt, except for a lid on a box on an adjacent shelf, but I can't tell yet because this would mean cleaning the pants and the coats out of that corner and I simply wasn't up for it today. I hope nothing happened to Matilda (my doll that Papà brought me back from Italy), as she was in the corner under the coats.

When I did sleep, I had nightmares: in one, there was a pet monkey (not a chimpanzee, a real squirrel monkey) and it was killed. (Don't ask me where that came from; I haven't watched anything with monkeys in it.) I got up at eight feeling shellshocked and went back to sleep until 10:30 and dozed until almost eleven (we went to bed at two; James was working on the Quest jet down in the Man Cave and I was chatting with Emma and listening to Christmas music). Then we had to hustle before it got too hot to go out grocery shopping; it was already in the 70s and sunny, with only a brisk breeze to save the day. I took Tucker for his walk while James got himself a burrito; I ate a BelVita bar in the car.

We stopped at CVS briefly to use a coupon for BreatheRights, then went to the Battle Ridge Kroger because I needed buns for my lunch (the Smyrna Kroger makes terrible buns) and the usual: milk, bananas, yogurt, burritos, and a few other things, and I bought gasoline. Then we brought the stuff home and put it up, then released Tucker from "Durance Vile" and took him with us in the truck to go to Petco and pick up more dog food, a new antler, and a few snacks. There were no dogs in the store for him to interact with, but I took him to visit the cats, all of whom chilled out except for the one who hissed at him. It took him a few minutes to realize "these are cats!" and once he barked I took him away promptly. We also visited the budgies—"Wow, look, more brothers!"—and the ferrets. And he knew what the mice were, too; they took cover soon after he showed up.

When we got home, I tackled a major irritation: the chifforobe. I pulled out James' electric blanket which doesn't heat up anymore, and trashed that and a bunch of other stupid things like receipts. Anyone got any idea what to do with a Nook Color? It still works but it isn't a tablet, just an e-reader. It's not worth any money, but I wondered if someone just wanted an e-reader. I have some things to go in the electronics recycling bin, like our old phone chargers (and probably the old Droids, too; they've been wiped), and we took down a box of books James had already read and winnowed out what he didn't want to keep to take to McKay's. We have a Xerox box full to go to McKay's and another one started. Really, the rubbish one accumulates!

Next weekend, of course, we'll have to fix the shelf. We need three hooks, at least one fresh strut, and some screws to fasten those things into the studs!

(I'm now worried about the shelves in the "Christmas closet." Bet they're not screwed into the studs, either.)

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Flourish

» Saturday, April 25, 2015
Waiting for the Rain

The weather report looked rather grim last night, with rain predicted in two waves, one sometime in the morning, one sometime in the afternoon, with thunderstorms and dire predictions. If there was thunder this morning we slept flat through it. I might have seen some lightning when I used the bathroom at seven. Otherwise, it was just cloudy and humid, with a nice breeze, when I took Tucker out. James had made the couscous for Hair Day last night, but it looked puny in its plastic container this morning, so he made a bit more while I was out with the dog.

Very small Hair Day today. We had expected at least two more, Juanita and Jessie, but Juanita's brother had a stroke yesterday, so we did not expect her. Phyllis made the main course, barbecue lamb, and we also had Lin's fabulous Asian salad and veggies with dip, and for dessert, Charles brought Klondike bars. We were there till about two, talking about all and sundry, and then we left to go home and get the power chair so we could wander around the Jonquil Festival for about an hour.

Not only didn't it rain, but the sun came out and James forgot his hat, so I gave him mine (he's the one who takes meds that make him sensitive to sun). We bought some buttons from the Button Girl—he actually got four, I only got one, the only Sleepy Hollow button they had!—and another small bottle of wildflower honey and some "Lose a Finger" dog cookies for Tucker. These look like peas and when he's pestering me while I'm teleworking I like to get eight or ten and toss them around the dining/living room and tell him to go find the cookie. We looked around the food trucks, but just decided to come home and eat leftovers (jerk chicken for James and spaghetti for me) and watch This Old House and yesterday's Hawaii Five-0 as well as last Sunday's Call the Midwife.

Incidentally, it never rained at all.

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» Friday, April 24, 2015
Swimming in Books

Well, I've used up all my extra leave, except for the day I need in the fall for the library sale and an emergency day, so this is my last Friday off for two weeks ::sob:: I hate getting up at six in the morning! So today I left the alarm and woke up naturally, which was about nine o'clock and dozed on and off for another half hour.

Then it was time for dog-walking. This took a while as I actually didn't walk the dog, just tied him out as I took the Easter things off the porch (finally) and trimmed some of the nandina. Tucker was actually pretty good; he never went in the street, although he could have. When we got in, he begged to go out on the deck; I finished Grace Against the Clock, washed a few dishes, made the bed, and put some things away. I got  up so late I actually ended up having some lunch instead of breakfast. Then I decided to go to the South Cobb library. I discovered that before Christopher Fowler had begun writing his Bryant and May mysteries, he wrote some urban horror books that featured Bryant and May. South Cobb had one of them, Rune, so I wanted to borrow it. Well, when I walked in, right with the new books was an autobiography of Katherine Paterson, and I also found one of the American history books that was on my Amazon wish list, The Expansion of Everyday Life, 1860-1876.

Then I wanted to check out The Book House, a book store on Veteran's Memorial Highway that we found one Sunday, but it is closed on Sunday. I thought this was a remainder book store, like the one on the main street at Pigeon Forge, but it is a used book store just crammed with books upon books, doubled up on shelves, stacked up in corners. As always, at least a fourth of the store is devoted to old romances (this happens in all used book stores). But in the back I find old children's library books, a good collection of old science-fiction and fantasy paperbacks (Larry Niven! Jerry Pournelle! Christopher Stasheff! Clifford Simak!), biographies cheek by jowl with history books, true crime crammed in a corner where it belongs, and up front behind a bookcase of classics a small bookshelf of Christmas books and right near the front a big double-shelved collection of old books including Whitman TV tie-ins. I picked up one book called A History of the World War (didn't look at the copyright but with that title, definitely pre-1939) and folded inside was a Chautauqua program. There was a paperback reprint of Burrough's Tarzan of the Apes with a front cover featuring Ron Ely, star of NBC's 1960s Tarzan series.

The one thing I didn't find was the mysteries; I'm sure they were there somewhere!

I bought two of Joe Wheeler's Christmas in My Heart books (these are short story collections with the stories taken from magazines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries) and one of the Sutton series of Christmas books, this one The Great British Christmas. Amazingly, the cashier told me all the thousands of books in the store are indexed on computer; they cataloged them starting in 2005 and now catalog everything that comes in. Wow.

I thought I'd stop at Ollie's to see if they had any of the "Angel Treats" I'd gotten earlier in the year, dark chocolate Hershey squares. Alas, they are now malted milk balls (barf) and sugar free milk chocolate (barf two). I did pick up two "Dear America" books for more than 75 percent off the list price.

On the way home I dropped the plastic grocery bags at Publix for recycling. Once I got home I found my shipment from Hamilton Books on the doorstep. Several of the books were for eventual gifts, but I had a few inexpensive goodies for myself: Connie Willis short stories, Susan Cooper's bio of John Langstaff (of the Christmas Revels), a David Crystal book about English that was only $2, a mystery featuring Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde (we were talking about the two of them at 221B), and the beautiful illustrated version of Bill Bryson's At Home at 70 percent off. The only pricy thing in the shipment was The Collected Days, the three-book compilation of H.L. Mencken's memoirs.

I fell asleep reading Rune (not because it was boring but because the sun always drains energy out of me) and didn't wake until James arrived home. We went to fetch supper from Dragon 168, taking Tucker with us; he had a ball sticking his head out the window. Later we watched the news to see what kind of storms are heading our way (it went from bright sun with a winter sky and a breeze when I was at the library to flat grey and humid by the time James got home), Doctor Who, and last night's Big Bang Theory.

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» Sunday, April 19, 2015
Soggy Sunday

You know it's been raining too much when you take the dog out and he doesn't want to walk on the grass!

But, honestly, we outdid ourselves this morning! Now, granted, we went to bed a little after two, but when I finally woke up, it was 12:15! We haven't slept that late in ages! Oh, we used to do that long ago, when the Phoenix Science Fiction Society meetings would end late and then we'd go to dinner and get home at two and three, or those insomniac nights when we'd go to ::sob!:: Oxford Books, which stayed open until two, or even the nights we'd stay up on WENN chat until two or three, but not lately. James said he did wake up around ten, but he was hurting so much he took some Naproxen and came back to bed. I don't remember, as I was happily in the arms of Morpheus.

We did want a paper and I did want to go by the library to renew my card and I did want a look at the new cross-stitch magazines, so we got up, I walked Tucker, and then we went off downtown via Wendy's for a fast meal.

Wow, I hadn't been to the library in so long they couldn't even find my card number and had to give me a new one! I find little time to go to the library anymore; I used to reserve things online and then have them sent to the Sibley Library so I could pick them up, but after they cut the library budget (rather than, of course, cutting the fat cats' salaries) and closed Sibley on Friday I just got out of the habit.

From there we went to the Barnes & Noble at Town Center, which has the best selection of cross-stitch magazines. I wasn't impressed by any of the patterns, but I did find a cool book called A Brief Guide to The Sound of Music. Why am I buying another SOM book when the FAQ book turned out to be such a snooze? Well, because this had the sort of thing that I was expecting from the FAQ book: for instance, it has a synopsis about each of the two German movies about the Trapp family, plus synopses of each of the episodes of the Japanese anime versions. That's more like it!

We'd apparently slept through all the rain, wind, and storm that was supposed to spring on us last night, but it was still dark, miserable, and humid all day. We treated ourselves to a BOGO deal at Baskin-Robbins, then stopped at Publix for the double Sunday paper (a waste since there was only one packet of coupons). By the time we got home, it was nearly suppertime. We watched one of the four episodes of season seven of Murdoch Mysteries we had on DVD from Netflix, then James warmed up the Italian wedding soup and we had that with the scones from yesterday.

The chaser was three more Murdoch episodes—and now it's time to get lunches ready and go to bed! Hope I'm as sleepy tonight!

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