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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» Saturday, February 20, 2021
Into Each Life a Little Sunshine Shall Fall
 
It was a mixed bag of a workweek after Jen’s joyful visit. I hit a couple of stores on Monday to get needed supplies (especially stocking up on Command Hooks at Hobby Lobby before they ditch the 40 percent off coupon). James had been wearing the compression sock again on his left leg, but Deborah (the visiting nurse) put him back into the calamine lotion unna boot after she saw the two small blisters on the arch of his foot. This seems like a setback, but I’m sure the leg can stand the extra moisture that the calamine brings. Sure was a downer, though, along with the fact that I had to make Snowy his annual appointment with a completely different vet. The avian vet we have had for years, Dr. Karolyn Akins, has quarantined herself during COVID, and the other avian vet at the office left. I had to call three vets before I could find one that would give Snowy a polyoma shot, which they require before he can board at our vet. And the vet we will be going to is still doing curbside pickup. I do not like that at all.

Wednesday I had to call our insurance agent to question why I can’t see both our auto and our home policy online. (The short answer is that the auto insurance is in my name and the house policy is in James’ name with mine as the secondary name. To be able to combine them, the agent needs to change my name to primary on the house insurance.) I haven’t called our agent since the Smallwoods retired, and I had a rather long, hilarious chat with the new guy, Bruce, who’s originally from Long Island. I also paid our house insurance through him. We received two communications from Nationwide, one that had the complete house policy in it and said “This is not a bill” and didn’t have a due date on it, and then the second that said “Hi, your payment was due February 3.” So I paid the bill on my credit card (yay! Amazon points) and then paid off the credit card.

Thursday was kind of a sweet and sour day. We went off in the car (because it was supposed to rain) and did the shopping at Publix, then at Kroger. This was a great experience at Publix (even if they didn’t have chicken and wild rice soup) and a not-so-great experience at Kroger because the only electric cart left squeaked like the dickens through our entire trip through the store. We got home expecting to find out how the Mars landing came out, but it turned out Perseverance wasn’t landing until 3:55 p.m. So we went out to Sam’s Club. They had five free items you could get if you used the coupon we'd received by the 20th. Our membership was expired, but we renewed it when we walked in, then hurried around getting the five items, and a few other things, only to get to the cashier, who told us we didn’t have memberships! It turned out the membership renewal takes a while to “register” on the computer. (I call bullshit. We have renewed our Sam’s membership and bought stuff immediately afterwards on previous years.) So because the computer didn’t register us as being members, we had to leave all the stuff we bought behind, including a rotisserie chicken and a frozen pizza, which of course would have to be thrown in the trash! What a waste! 😠

Friday was a better day. We had the nurse coming, but she showed up at ten (alas, still re-wrapping his left leg, as he had a raw spot on his lower leg near the thighbone) and, amazingly, we had the rest of the day for ourselves. It felt insane. We’ve had six straight weeks of having to be at a doctor’s office at least once, and sometimes three times, on Thursday and Friday, along with the inevitable grocery shopping, and here we had a free afternoon! And not only that, it wasn’t raining! It was bright and blue and just chilly enough to make you feel alive but not bone-chillingly cold. So we did it! We loaded up the power chair and went out! We drove up to Canton, a 30-minute drive (my commute to work used to be longer) and went to Uncle Maddio’s Pizza for lunch. The Uncle Maddio’s near us closed during the pandemic, and the next-closest one, out in Acworth, closed not soon after. The closest one is now in Canton. We walked in the door and I began salivating immediately at the wonderful scents. Amazingly, the manager was all by himself in the store, doing all the work (assembling, topping, putting in the oven, taking payment, bringing out the food). We left him a big tip! And it was so good to have a no-cheese bacon-black olive-basil pizza again!

Not only that, but the Uncle Maddio’s was one parking lot away from a big new shopping center (Canton Marketplace) that has a real, live full-size Books-a-Million! (I know, I’m sprinkling this with far too many exclamation points, but this was an exciting and wonderful day compared with our lives since December 24.) We went in and wandered about for over a delightful hour. I picked up three bargain books: Creating Sherlock Holmes (one of those oversized volumes illustrated with a lot of old photos), Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It (which is partially based on his podcast and partly a biography), and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies, which I never bought full-price because it was too expensive. The store was chock full of books (unlike good ol' Barnes & Noble), and the magazine rack was long and inviting. (I talked myself out of the magazine about the history of London, though.) James got a new “Cook’s Illustrated” and some game cards, and we drank peppermint hot chocolate at the Joe Muggs coffee bar. About three o’clock we came home happy and relaxed.

I’d dreaded Saturday, but it wasn’t too bad. It was another bright and blue day, and we were headed to the Kaiser facility in Gwinnett County to get the first of our two COVID-19 vaccine shots. Alice had called us on Thursday just as we pulled into Kroger saying she had gotten a text that appointments were available. By the time we got home from Kroger, the Friday appointments were gone but they still had ones for Saturday afternoon. So we braved the interstate—really, drivers are getting worse!—and arrived there with time to spare to use the rest room. Because I did that whole allergic thing with the Zostavax and James is on blood thinners, they made us wait 30 minutes after the shot instead of fifteen, but we just sat and read and it went by quickly.

By then it was nearly two o’clock and we were really wanting something to eat. The east side of Atlanta is a really good area for Asian markets and restaurants, and we found, less than a mile away, a Hibachi Grill buffet. They were still doing it as buffet, but they made you wear gloves and a mask to go to the bar to get food. This cost a bit more than the lunch buffet at our Hibachi Grill, but they had seafood all over the bar: at least two kind of shrimp, crab, crawfish, tilapia, etc. I wanted the crab so badly, but I didn’t dare after having the shot and not knowing how it would affect me. And for about a minute or two, I did feel a little strange while I was eating. I can’t even describe what it was. I didn’t have chest pain, or shortness of breath, or feel dizzy…just felt a little odd. I stopped eating and took a couple of breaths and was almost about to say something to James when it went away. It didn’t come back, and I went back to dinner. Amazingly, they had ice cream cups in a freezer up front and instead of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate, they had strawberry, vanilla, and coffee! Enjoyed having a coffee ice cream cup!

On the way home we stopped at Costco for gasoline (we’d tried to stop at the Costco on that side of town, but the line was out into the street). The only bad thing about the day was seeing a “carbeque” on I-85 North. Somewhere there is a dead red Mazda now in a junkyard. We could see the smoke from quite a distance, then it turned from white to grey to black, and as we came by the car we could see the flames involving the whole engine compartment and burning underneath. I hope no one was hurt.

The other thing we did this weekend was turn on Hulu and watch the first four episodes of the new Animaniacs. I was…underwhelmed. Really, the best joke in the first four episodes was the promo they showed for the series where they parodied Jurassic Park. There were a couple of good bits: Donald Trump as the Cyclops in the takeoff on “The Odyssey” was a good laugh, and there were some good bits in a “Pinky and the Brain” sequence that paralleled the McCarthy hearings. They were trying too hard to be clever most of the time. I found most of the skits dull.

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Flourish

» Sunday, February 14, 2021
A Very Special Valentine Visit!
 
It was an eventful week, starting with a successful clean-up campaign. I have been needing to clean up the drawers in and the space under the vanity of the sinks. I tossed out 10-year-old peroxide, old everything else, concatenated other things, and made lots more room down there. I also cleaned off James' dresser, which was, frankly, looking like a bomb went off on it. There were old grocery receipts, pens, bits of models, pocketknives, loose coins, a remote control helicopter, a bottle of paint, and other things that didn't belong. It's now all clean and pretty, and I washed all three bureau scarves to boot. As an encore, I cleaned out all the appliance/electronic manuals and threw a bunch away (like the one for the stove we no longer have), and followed it up by rearranging the books in the spare room. "Viola" and all that.

We had another doctory weekend. Thursday we were up at six so James could be at the dentist at eight. (I drove him because it was raining and he couldn't take the power chair.) I finally bought some dental insurance (his work canceled the one we had when they reorganized), so he went to have his teeth checked. He needs several fillings and other work, and the dental insurance will not cover it for six months. At least we know how much it will cost. Eeek! Since the dentist is next to Kroger, we went there next, and then to Publix, and got the shopping done, and were home in time for me to take a nap. I am not a morning person.

And then...ta-da!...we went back to the infusion clinic and they removed the PICC line! His last intravenous treatment was yesterday. We are crossing fingers that everything is well internally. When I got home I got all the infusion stuff out of the way: the tray I did the prep on, the infusion pole, and all the supplies. Tossed out some, kept some useful stuff like the plastic gloves and saline, and recycled the heparin at Kaiser on Friday.

Friday we were up at seven for James' dermatologist appointment. He has them regularly to examine for skin cancer. She froze a troublesome wart on his right forefinger and also looked at his leg. She said the skin looked well and he could go back to wearing the compression socks!

You guessed it: we got home and I had another nap, at least until it was time to join Alice and Ken at The BBQ Place for lunch. We followed that up with a trip to Lidl.

We sorta got a chance to sleep later on Saturday, but had to get up at nine for Hair Day. This was fun. This month I remembered the Christmas gifts I forgot on the January Hair Day, and I gave out Valentine cards. It was so nice to see everyone. I don't miss going to a lot of stores, but I sure miss bigger Friday lunches and game nights. We came home so James could prep his breakfasts for the week and I could do some laundry and the vacuuming.

When we got ready for bed I noticed I had a message on my phone, and, holy cow, it was a great one! Our friend Jen, who lives in Oklahoma, was driving south from North Carolina (she had hand-delivered some paintings and then visited relatives) and wanted to stop by for lunch on Sunday! To say that we were thrilled was not the half of it. Valentine's Day or not, James was still working, but I was making chicken cacciatore as a special dinner for his lunch hour. So on Valentine's Day we had four hours of wonderful talk with Jen along with chicken cacciatore, elbow macaroni, a cucumber salad, and dark chocolate Oreos for dessert. It was so nice to see her. She was driving home via a couple of museums and is then going to have to prep to be deployed—she's in the Air Force—to the UAE from April to August. Oh, man, the Middle East in summer! I don't envy her that assignment!

The house was very lonesome when she left.

(Oh, yeah, and I managed to do all my Sunday chores, too! Yay me! (Tired me!)

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Flourish

» Saturday, February 06, 2021
Homestretch?
 
It was quite a week!

It began with the cold, the first time this year it's really felt like winter. Monday it was 25 degrees with the wind chill and it was almost as cold on Tuesday. I kept warm Monday updating the copyrights on my web pages; usually I do this on New Year's Day after the Rose Parade, but I had other things on my mind. 😞 In the late afternoon I went out to the mailbox and discovered the last document we needed for our taxes, so I sat down and did them. We owe the Feds a small amount, but do have a refund from the state.

It was also a bit annoying because I was feeling rather blah at the beginning of the week and it nagged on for days, even into our weekend. Thursday was the usual trip to the infusion clinic. They told us unless they received orders to the contrary, they'd be removing the PICC line next Thursday, so next Wednesday is James' last infusion! I sure hope there are no contrary orders and they indeed think he is well; it would be such a blessing.

Friday when we went to the podiatrist we got even better news. I was still worried about the leg because he has a few little spots that, even with the medi-honey, are not healing but instead are being irritated by the edges of the non-stick gauze that's covering it, even though the arch of his foot is looking almost perfect, with only some thick hard skin remaining from the blister left on it. The podiatrist peeled most of that off, took a look at those pesky, tiny raw spots, and finally, finally dredged out a calamine unna boot kit and wrapped up his leg in it and told us to let the nurse remove it on Tuesday. 😀 I am crossing fingers this will do the final trick.

Oh, the other thing is that James is out of the walking boot and the thick sock and into a regular sock, so he could wear a complete pair of shoes this weekend! He said he was tired of feeling like the villain in "Ship of Spies" (on Get Smart) who walked with a "clip-clop" noise. Plus today his new slippers arrived; these are the Velcro kind that fit around your feet. So he doesn't need to "clip-clop" any longer, and he was very pleased with this development because he was planning to go to the IPMS meeting on Saturday. It is now being held in a larger venue than previously and he would wear his mask during the meeting, so it seemed safe for him to attend. Came Saturday morning and all the forecasts said it would be pouring that afternoon, so he did the Zoom meeting instead.

So, of course, it never rained. Typical.

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Flourish

» Saturday, January 30, 2021
Be Careful What You Complain About
 
The infusion routine, especially now that James is on the ertepenem and he only gets that once a day, has gotten commonplace. My main concern is still, as always, keeping sanitary enough not to piggyback another infection through the PICC line. So multiple handwashings are mandatory, and the skin on my hands are bearing the brunt of the routine. Sometimes I'm awakened in the middle of the night with them aching because the skin is so cracked, and I have to rub hand lotion into them before I can get back to sleep. Sometimes I just give in and use the gloves Coram (the infusion folks) sent, and continuously wipe them off with alcohol wipes. (Bless you, Clark Howard, for posting about ordering alcohol wipes from Staples so I had them in the house!)
 
During the week I have been still discarding junk and I finally dealt with the Christmas gift bags that would leap out at me when I went into the spare room closet to get the vacuum cleaner. Like stampeding cattle they have now been corralled.
 
James had three doctors' appointments scheduled this week and we also had a nurse visit scheduled on Friday and by the time we had two down on Thursday evening we were both feeling a bit Fed Up with this obscene routine of four days of work, two days of doctors' appointments, and a half a day Saturday where James has to prep breakfasts to eat before work. It seems all we have done for the past two months is work or sit on our fannies in doctors' waiting rooms.
 
Friday morning we had to get up at seven to get James' six month checkup at dermatology. I didn't sleep well and had to quick-foot it to the hall bath as James was still doing his morning ablutions in our bathroom. I headed out of the hall bath thinking "the first thing I do is take my pill" (the pantoprazole, so I can eat for the day without getting sick). I opened the pill container, looked at the four pills, and popped them in my mouth and swallowed.
 
And then realized what in the hell I did: the extra Claritin, fenofibrate, levothroid—not a problem, but within nine hours of each other, I had taken two atenolol, my heart medication, which, when taken too close together, can cause bradycardia, which slows your heartbeat to under 50 beats per minute and is bad news.
 
Yes, of course I panicked. I was already half-asleep, which is how I'd done such a damnfool thing in the first place. Since I've been walking most mornings, my resting heart rate is usually in the high 50s. It wouldn't take much to put me under. I got on the phone to the advice nurse. James cancelled his appointment. The advice nurse told me that basically I was on a new day, that all I really needed to do was keep moving and not take another dose tonight, but if I couldn't stay awake or my heart rate went under 50 to call someone immediately. I therefore spent a miserable four hours (on the toilet, of course, because I'd given myself a panic attack) of dizziness, sleepiness, and general ickiness constantly monitoring myself with the pulse oximeter (I did get down to 50) until I pushed past the grogginess caused by the combination of the atenolol and the allergy meds. We were able to have lunch with the Spiveys, get through the nurse visit, and even go to Publix.
 
Saturday, thankfully, was much calmer. All we did was clean out James' to-be-read pile, and I vacuumed and wrote a delayed Christmas letter to a friend who's not on Facebook (or actually much on the internet).

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Flourish

» Sunday, January 24, 2021
Late Nights and Electronic Neep

 I remember all those Saturday nights years ago when we used to do chat after episodes of Remember WENN (and long after it was cancelled) and yack long into the night, sometimes until three a.m. when the last fan logged on from California. We’d be plugging at the computer so long that poor Bandit, desperate for his night’s sleep, would fly behind me and cling to the blinds that covered the glass door and window that looked out on the driveway. And I would comment: “Gotta go, guys. Bandit’s hanging upside down on the blinds.” (Everyone would chorus, “Good night, Bandit!”)

This weekend we didn’t actually keep three a.m. bedtime hours, but we did stay up a lot later than usual.

Gawd, how did we do it back then? (Well, besides being 25 years younger!)

The week started triumphantly: I finally got Christmas put back up in the closet, and all the winter decorations up. On the up side, my new shoes (black Reeboks as always) came. On the down side, now I have to break them in. And that will hurt as always. James had a nurse visit as well.

The weekend ended up being dull, but enjoyable, since we had only one doctor’s visit this week: getting James’ PICC line maintained. We were so hungry afterwards and it was so gloomy–it had been raining and we had to take the car to Publix, as well as to Kaiser, and I had to push James in a wheelchair because we can’t take the power chair out in the rain–that we stopped at Capriotti’s for lunch. I had their “Bobbie” sandwich which is a Thanksgiving dinner in a sandwich (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce with mayo). I only had the turkey and stuffing and it needed gravy. Their chicken soup is okay, but not as good as Panera.

Friday we hit Kroger for mushrooms and milk (and a few other things), had to go by Kaiser Cumberland for the isosorbide that the pharmacy didn’t have last Thursday, and finally got to have some fun by going to Hobby Lobby. All I bought was a doily to replace the one I can’t find that goes under the light-up autumn tree in the downstairs hall. I have no idea where it vanished to. Must be the “blue guys” again.

Saturday we had nowhere to go, and, thankfully, nothing to buy. I definitely have too much month left at the end of my money this January! Did some laundry and a couple other things that have been needing doing for a while: I mounted a hook in the storage closet to hold the bag of tinsel, got a bag of lights out of my way by putting it up on a nail. But it was finally time for the one thing I’d been wanting to do for ages: re-scan all three televisions. The living room TV I scan every couple of months to see if we’ve picked up any new channels, but the little TV in the spare room and the other little TV in James’ “mancave” haven’t been scanned in several years. Since a year or so back they re-assigned frequencies on about half the channels, neither small TV was getting many channels. In fact James’ TV hadn’t been scanned in so long he was only tuning in whatever channel Svengoolie was on and a couple more, and he didn’t get that many in the first place because the only place we can mount his antenna is in the northwest corner. This is the reason I disconnected each television, one at a time, to bring in the living room to connect with the antenna upstairs, which points in the correct direction and will pull in the most channels.

Well, I was totally gobsmacked to discover that we are now receiving Georgia Public Broadcasting! Many years ago, when we used to use a set of rabbit ears as antenna, we’d get GPB sporadically (and never when it rained), but once we put up the Leaf antenna it went bye-bye. And now it was coming in clear as a bell. They must have installed a new transmitter or some type of booster, because I scanned the big TV back in November and there was no GPB to be seen. Plus we get all three PBS subchannels (Create, Knowledge, and Kids).

Since I’d already cleaned up the cords when I switched the spare room gadgets to the Ikea cart from the old microwave cart, it was easy to unplug and re-plug that TV and hitch it back up to the VCR/DVD and the antenna. Less so with James’ TV, which was trapped in a tangle of cords that rivaled Laocoön. Once I extricated the TV from the spider’s web, the tuning was nearly as confusing. I think we got his TV so cheap because it was a DC model made to go into RVs and/or boats. When it‘s tuned in, some of the channels appear on other channels (CBS46, for instance, is on channel 19 on his TV, and Quest, which is on 11-4 ordinarily, is on 10-9 on his). I also set up the new Fire TV stick he bought himself back on Prime Day, as the old one decided it didn't want to talk to the internet anymore. I just plunked the TV back downstairs and tested it when I finished, but on Sunday went back down there and sorted the cords with patience and zip ties, plus re-positioned his antenna so it received most of the channels (GPB, too, to my surprise), and replaced the power strip everything was plugged into, because if you picked it up, the plug slots were so loose half the plugs fell out. Alas, there was a casualty: when I tried out James’ old VCR, it wouldn’t even turn on. I thought it was the power strip, but it wouldn’t come on even in two different plugs, one in the library, one in the garage. Tried turning it on with the remote, in case the physical power button was broken, but that didn’t work either. Worse, it’s stuck with a VHS tape in it, but it was minimal loss, a half-hour anime pilot he doesn’t even remember.

[Later: You’d figure I was done with this, but no. Monday I went in the spare room to finally take care of unfinished business. I’ve had the antenna in there hung in three different places, and today I found a fourth place where this TV, too, would get GPB. So I permanently tacked it up with Command hooks, took out the 3/4 inch brads in the other three places where it had hung (depending on what year it was, the signal to the TV came in better from a different location!), and zip tied all the cords on the Ikea table: the TV, the antenna, the radio, the VCR/DVD, and the RCA cable between TV and player. It looks like an electrical store back there, but now it’s a neat one. Plus, to make sure James’ old Fire Stick was dead, I tried to set it up on the spare room TV. Guess what–I guess it reset, because now it works again. Okay.

One disappointment I did have was the Proscan. This was a recorder/tuner I bought back in 2015 hoping to use it to record Doctor Simon Locke off RetroTV and other programs off broadcast TV. It would record to a USB stick. I discovered it was so old it would only discover about 40 channels, and was really almost too much work to record on, so it’s not a future option for using as a DVR when we “cut the cord.” So we either need to watch the few network programs we watch (Young Sheldon and stuff on PBS) at the time it’s broadcast or invest in a TiVo or some other type of DVR. Heck, the PBS stuff we can get through PBS Passport. All I have to do is keep pledging $5 a month!]


Flourish

» Sunday, January 17, 2021
Shoes and Gauze and Curtains Up...and Cabbages and Kings
 
Began the weekend exhausted, but I did get all the Christmas things down and mostly packed away by Thursday afternoon. It just wasn’t all put away into the closet yet as I had to pack the porch things and the divider items back into their plastic storage box. I’d lost a bunch of time from unavoidable delays: Monday was handicapped by my feeling ill, Tuesday by a trip to Kroger (I needed milk!). Wednesday I at least got interrupted by something happy–my new curtains finally came! (I ironed them immediately and put them up! They make the whole dining room look so much more cozy, and I am shut of those boring apple curtains at last.) Thursday’s distractions were the second visit to get the PICC line checked out (with Susan the Wonderfully Cheerful Nurse again) and a visit from the Home Nurse. We’d had a visit last Sunday in which the Home Nurse visits were set up; Thursday were with a different nurse who was originally from California. We’d thought she was coming Tuesday, so I didn’t change James’ bandage then and had to do it on Wednesday.

(I hate to sound so ultra-critical, but I am never satisfied by the way the Home Nurse or the doctor treats James’ leg. They never wrap it tight enough–I know it needs to have good circulation to heal, but he also needs the compression pressure to keep the blisters/leg ulcers from breaking out or getting worse. I wanted the Home Nurse so bad for his foot, and now I feel they are ruining his leg progress.)

Friday we did the Publix shopping first, and then had the podiatrist visit. Once again, we compared last week’s and this week’s photos, and his foot does indeed look better, but I still think James’ leg could look better. The doctor re-wrapped what the nurse wrapped yesterday (nowhere near snug enough, James complained), and we went on to a very late midday dinner at O’Charley’s. A nice little 6-ounce sirloin steak and baked potato, plus a juicy green salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side, were just what “the doctor ordered” for this girl. Then I exerted myself when we got home by bathing Tucker. I was shameless: I lured the poor animal in the bathroom with a dog biscuit. He looked so betrayed when I shut the door. But the first thing he did when I had him dry was eat that “cookie”! The funny thing is that Tucker feels so good after his bath. He races around and he “smiles,” which he doesn’t do that often ordinarily unless he’s playing. Even when James is petting him he looks very serious and plaintive.

Saturday we took a little detour from our appointed course, which was to do the shopping at the “Floyd Road Grocery Store Mall.” We got our stimulus check last week–even though they direct deposited the first one, we got the second one last week, via check–and it’s been sitting on my desk, making me nervous. I wanted it in the bank, and the last time I tried to deposit a government check via taking a photo of it in the banking app, it didn’t work. So I looked up the closest bank of mine that was open on Saturday after noon and went there and got that check deposited. Then went on to Costco for gasoline, and got to stop and do something fun by going to Barnes & Noble (besides, I needed the rest room by then). It was a wonderfully nice day, mostly cloudy with some breaks in the clouds and bright blue sky, but it was breezy and chilly, and that wind got down your neck and up your sleeves! It was especially chilly out there on B&N’s flat parking lot at the top of a hill! Got a couple of magazines and the history book The Secret Rooms, plus the new volume of “Strange Planet” cartoons, Stranger Planet. I love the little aliens and their commentary on human foibles.

On the way home we stopped at Lidl to stock up on various meats, fresh bread, lots more mandarin oranges, veg, and other things, and I dropped into the Mableton Publix across the street to get the things the Smyrna Publix didn’t have on Friday, including James’ no-salt-added chips. It was a good night to have soup for supper, and that’s what we did: I took the chicken-and-wild-rice we got at Publix Friday, mixed in dried vegetable soup flakes and fresh diced celery, cut it with no-salt beef broth to reduce the sodium content, and simmered it slowly for a half hour, until it was a perfect meal for a chilly night.

(Before bed I re-wrapped James’ leg. See, this is my problem. The doctor cleans the leg, puts medi-honey on the little abrasions that are there, puts non-stick gauze pads on the abrasions, wraps the whole with a little gauze bandaging for padding, then puts the Ace bandage on. But the Ace bandage is too loose and the non-stick gauze pads shift. Now the abrasions have the gauze bandaging on them rather than the non-stick pads, and when I remove all the gauze, it sticks fast to the abrasions, which have oozed and then dried. One looked completely healed at the doctor’s office Friday, but when I removed the gauze sticking to them, even as carefully as I did, it made the abrasion raw once more.)

Sunday once again the usual chores, but I got all Christmas put up in the closet, and set up the winter decorations. Plus I ordered myself some new shoes, as the ones I’m wearing are still the ones I was wearing when I retired three years ago. I had to get them from Kids Foot Locker, as neither Amazon nor Reebok had them in stock this year. I order a boys’ (“big kid”) classic leather shoe in 5.5 US size, which is wider than a woman’s size 6, which is what I’m “supposed” to take in a women’s shoe (when I don’t have to order a 6.5 to get it wide enough), and fits me better (and they’re $20/pair cheaper to boot, for the same shoe design–really, women’s clothing and shoes are such a rip-off pricewise).


Flourish

» Sunday, January 10, 2021
Doggedly, We Continue
 
So, with infusions going on, we are trying to live the semblance of a normal life, even if that exists with numerous doctors’ visits a week. James says now we know why our grandparents were always grumpy: they were constantly in pain and going to the doctor all the time!

Friday it was a sad sort of rainy day, the kind we would have liked to have gotten together with everyone for lunch. Alas, we asked at the last minute, so everyone either had (all together now!) a doctor’s appointment or something else already on the schedule. We’d thought of going to Hibachi Grill, then, not knowing the level of their COVID sanitation, chickened out and were headed for O’Charley’s, but saw Okinawa opened and thought they had in-facility dining again. When we got there it turned out they didn’t, but our friend Kayla works there and we wanted to give her some business, so we ordered and took the food home. Warm Thai food and a fire at night was appropriate for a raw sort of day.

Saturday was Hair Day, and we had a treat: John and Oreta brought home-made lentil soup with ham in it. I haven’t had lentil soup in years, and Mom didn’t make her own; we would have Progresso, which she said tasted pretty good compared to the home-made version. I’ve never been fond of lentils, but this was warm and savory and full of ham and I gratefully ate a bowl. James had two and took some home as well. We brought a bag of mandarin oranges, and there were cookies and a fruit bowl, plus Charles made a very spicy cheese dip. I, naturally, did not partake, but the chips were good.

When we finally got home, I finished decorating the porch for winter, then took down the door wreaths and put the candoliers and the wreaths up, plus took down the decorations in the hall bath. So that’s a start on Christmas coming down.

Sunday was my usual cleaning day and James worked, so we were sort of back to normal. I am just sad that he is having so much pain in the infected foot. It seems to have terrible spasms. When it gets bad enough he takes half a pain pill, but he refuses to get into that habit and more often “grins and bears it.” I wish I could help him and can’t and it makes me crazy.

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» Thursday, January 07, 2021
The Lost Christmas
I pulled the lights last night.
 
Usually I get a little choked up about this. I love Christmas: the colors, the conviviality, giving gifts, the music, the colder weather, the activities. Of course, this year none of the activities happened. There was no "opening volley" like the Georgia Apple Festival or the fall library book sale. I wasn't feeling well for Thanksgiving, so we stayed home for that. No Apple Annie craft show, no Marietta Home Tour, no Candlelight Tour at the Atlanta History Center, and we never even got to the Lights of Life display. The Lawsons cancelled their Christmas party/game night, we missed Christmas dinner at the Butlers, Bill and Caran cancelled their New Year's Eve party which has been going on for years now, and we also cancelled our Twelfth Night party.
 
But last night I was just numb. I pulled light after light until I was done, shut off the lights out front, and even replaced the candoliers with the welcome lights with little emotion. I feel we lost Christmas. There are decorations still up, but I haven't really taken joy in them in days. Only the tree, shimmering tinsel magnifying the lights, can managed to make me smile.
 
On New Year's morning James' medication showed up as promised, and I watched the instructional video for the infusion that Coram provides. The actress playing the instructor was very soothing and reassuring, but there are so many ways for this to go wrong. The main way would be a germ getting into the intravenous line, which would happen if I didn't stay sterile enough. There can also be air gaps in the line which could cause an embolism. However, later the nurse (Elisa) showed up and she walked me through everything. I was extremely nervous, but of course James followed along and we did checks and balances on each other later on when we actually did the process (we waited until nine o'clock because it needs to be done every twelve hours). We got through it, but my hands were shaking! And the infusion took so long. It was supposed to take an hour at a 100 "opening" on the flow dial, but it was more like two hours. We were exhausted by the time we got to bed. I called the infusion people back and they said we could up it to whatever opening got us to an hour infusion. Let me tell you, it was never the same time period twice. One day it was forty minutes, another day, on the same setting, it was an hour and twenty minutes. Bizarre.
 
Of course I've gotten more comfortable with it in the last seven days.
 
As expected, since James was discharged from the hospital, he now has lots of doctors' appointments. We saw the podiatry doctor on Monday, and he showed James the hospital photos; where the big blister on the arch of  his foot looks dreadful to me, all full of fluid and black and blue as if it is bruised, it doesn't look anything like it did in the hospital when it formed. And his toes are definitely more pink than red now. Wednesday we saw another doctor at Cumberland just for a general followup (I'm guessing Dr. Mobley was not available).
 
Today he had his first checkup at the infusion center at Kaiser TownPark. We got this incredibly cheerful nurse named Susan who really did brighten our day. She (or someone else in infusion) will be changing the dressing on the PICC line once a week and making sure it is working properly. She says I'm doing a good job so I'll take her word for it. (And we felt lucky, as someone was in there getting their chemotherapy. I hope whomever it was does good on it and gets well.)

Last but not least we got a call from the doctor who attended James in the hospital. He said they had identified positively both things that were infecting him: one was strep (which can be hideously dangerous; Jim Henson basically died from streptococcus) and the other was anirobes, which I had never heard of. So they were changing his medication to something that was only to be infused once a day—thank goodness!—and came pre-mixed. He had the first dose of the new medication given to him by the nurse just in case he had an allergic reaction. She was the chirpy type, but very nice, and she showed us, just in case, what to do if he had a very rare reaction on the second dose (basically epinephrine and call 911!). That made me nervous, but the first infusion went off without a hitch. It's also quicker, thirty minutes, it's supposed to be, instead of an hour.

In non-medical news, we had Aaron Lawson come over to help us with some household chores. He is on vacation from his pharmacist college in Wyoming. He put LED lightbulbs in the garage door openers for us (there were "pigtails"—icky compact fluorescents—in there, and James's side was burnt out and mine had a bulb and a half on), and replaced the light bulb that was out in the overhead in our bedroom. (I usually do this, but lately when I put my hands over my head like that I get a little lightheaded.) He also dragged James' old desk chair downstairs for us, and the old microwave cart that was supporting the television and DVD/VCR in the guest room. After he left I set about assembling the new little cart I had bought at Ikea to replace it. It looks so much roomier in there now (the two front bedrooms are pretty small).

Now it's time for me to start taking all of the Christmas things down. I'm not going to hurry. We had hardly enough time to enjoy it...

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» Thursday, December 31, 2020
And the Year Came Tumbling Down
I usually write about Christmas and New Year in Holiday Harbour, but these winter dates have been no holiday for us. 2020 ended, as it has for many people, on a bad note for us. On Christmas night, James developed a fever and his left food was red and swollen. On Saturday morning I took him to Urgent Care. Of course I was not allowed in, so I went off to make some after-Christmas purchases. I wandered aimlessly around At Home (formerly Garden Ridge), found a couple of things at And That, stopped at Barnes & Noble, then came back to Urgent Care. They released James about suppertime, with two doses of antibiotics and some Tylenol3 (Tylenol and codeine) for pain. I thought this was very strange, as the last time his leg and foot looked that bad, they kept him and gave him IV antibiotics. But we ate a small meal at Panera and went home.
 
James seemed fine in the evening, but at bedtime when we uncovered his foot for him to wash, the foot was scarlet, swollen and angry. I was appalled. Why had they sent him home with antibiotics? He needed IV medication! I called the Advice Nurse and she said we should wait the forty-eight hours Urgent Care told us to wait and if he was worse to take him in. He did develop a temperature, so I suggested he take some Tylenol3 and see if it controlled his temperature. It didn't, but it rendered him almost totally insensible. I finally walked him to the futon in the spare room and there we stayed until he wasn't so zonked out.

The next morning James' foot looked quite a bit better—it wasn't anywhere near as red or swollen—and he had no fever. This was the first day of his vacation and he rested and I did a few of my usual Sunday chores. But by the time bedtime was back, the foot looked horrible. I took him back to Urgent Care and they kept him overnight on IV antibiotics. On Monday morning, January 28, he was transferred to Emory St. Joseph Hospital. And there he stayed for four days.
 
Even though the ingrown toenail I was treating since mid-month showed no sign of infection—not red, swollen, oozing pus, or any of the other signs—there was an infection, and it has turned inward. The reason James' foot was so red and swollen, and his left leg up to the calf was swollen and hot, was that the infection was growing into his bone. I am furious. If podiatry had cut the ingrown toenail when we asked about it at the beginning of December, this never would have happened.

The doctor at Emory thought James was dehydrated and started loading him with IV fluid. Plus, he has not been able to wear compression socks, as he is required to to control the cellulitis on his left leg, due to his swollen foot and leg. So wham, next his left leg broke out into blisters, including a big bottom-of-a-teacup sized blister on the arch of his foot. We had to nag them for a couple of days to just bandage the thing. In the meantime James was given IV antibiotics.

Several things bothered me about his hospital stay. I would have settled for the olden days visiting hours of two to four and seven to nine, just to get some input. He said everyone was very nice to him, but they never gave him a sponge bath, and he had to complain that the blister was leaking on the floor when he walked before they bandaged it. He wasn't sure he was getting all his medication (he wasn't). We asked them to get James an unna boot like they use at the Wound Clinic at Kaiser and put it in a pressure bandage, but instead they have just wrapped it in some zinc-impregnated bandage ("viscopaste," nasty stuff) and covered that. Since he was required to treat it once he came home, I had to learn how to rebandage it by contacting James on Zoom and watching the nurse do it. How frustrating and infuriating.

New Year's Eve they fitted him with a PICC line. This is a catheter that goes into a main vein of the heart to deliver antibiotics. On New Year's Day they will send supplies and a nurse to the house to show James and I how to give him IV antibiotics twice a day through this line until February 10! (We tried to get a home health nurse but Kaiser would not allow it because they say we are capable of doing this ourselves. They would only send a nurse if we were incapacitated in some way.) We will also have to go to Kaiser once a week to get the PICC line cleaned. Every day I will need to irrigate it, prepare James' medicine to go through the IV tube, connect it to him and let it flow, and then irrigate it again and flush it with Heparin, in the morning, and at night. And all with keeping it germ-free.

What a wonderful new year this will be! [I'm sure you don't need a sarcasm alert for that statement, either.]

Emory didn't release him until 8 p.m., what with one thing and the other, and by the time we got home we were both exhausted. He'd probably slept eight hours in the four days he'd been there and was tired out. We sat in the living room and cossetted Tucker for a while, because he was trembling at the fireworks already going on outside, but finally we got James cleaned up via sponge bath, and by the time 2021 began we were already in bed, listening to the cannonade of fireworks going on outside from various homes in the neighborhood.

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Flourish

» Friday, December 25, 2020
Alas, Not The Christmas We Expected
Christmas goes slightly awry...but this is 2020, after all...

(In better news, on Wednesday, along with making Christmas Eve dinner prep and doing the laundry and cooking lunch, I went online to find well-rated junk removal people. I got a college student named Preston Peretti first try and he came over an hour later and took that damn mattress away. The albatross is gone, which is my best Christmas gift.)

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» Saturday, December 19, 2020
Softer Feelings

Yes, we deliberately chose “firm” on the mattress over “medium firm” after trying them both out a second time. Didn’t feel much difference at the store.

However, after sleeping on it two nights…

Can’t be helped. Monday I got online and sought out reviews of mattress pads, finding a list that was the ten best reviewed pads on Amazon. I picked out the one that came first on the list, a 2-inch gel-infused pad, which is supposed to make it cooler in summer (I’ll believe that when I feel it). It was delivered on Tuesday, whereupon I decanted it from its sealed state–it rather looked like a large taco–and laid it out on the library floor to swell up. Wednesday it got put on the bed. Better now.

On Monday I thought I’d better get a start on wrapping the gifts. I figured I would do the five gifts than were sitting on the arm of the futon since they kept falling off each time James had to retreat there in the middle of the night because his shoulder was still hurting from his fall (this was going on every night for a while), and then decide if I wanted to keep going. The next thing I knew they all were wrapped, as if Dudley the angel from The Bishop’s Wife had helped me some, something I am truly grateful for. I usually come out of wrapping gifts in pain and hungry as a bear.

James had another MOHS procedure on Thursday morning to remove a small skin cancer from his left cheek. I wasn’t allowed to come along, but he did fine although he was gone a long time (or at least it seems so when you are sitting home clock watching). It took them a bit longer than usual to stop the bleeding due to his blood thinners. After he arrived home, we picked up some prescriptions at Kaiser and stopped at Publix to do the shopping, and then kept ice on the surgical spot on and off for the rest of the night. He said there was little pain and only used the ice because it was suggested in the post-surgical instructions. He had no problems next day as well, to the point we could go to Lidl and spend some time at Barnes & Noble to boot. Then when we got home I did my yearly baking of a batch of wine biscuits. It’s been very difficult to rouse Christmas spirit this  year and I wasn’t feeling like baking, but there was no having the wine biscuits if I didn’t bake them, so I just did it. It ended up being almost as easy as wrapping the gifts, and when the lovely smell of the cookies permeated the house I felt better.

Saturday ended up quite pleasantly. Since it was more prudent for the Lawsons to cancel this year’s game night/Christmas party, they brought our gift by as they did their weekend errands. Jerry always picks some clever way to package things, and this year he found some surplus Royal Mail postbags--these are actual mailbags that have been used by British postmen--as a gift container! These are bright red, so quite festive, and no wonder they called the postmen “robins” carrying those red bags. In the late afternoon we finally had my birthday dinner at Fried Tomato Buffet, stopped at a couple of stores (where I picked up another gift), looked at the puppies at Petland, and then finished off the night taking a ride home through the battlefield park and seeing a herd of deer grazing peacefully on a swath of open grass, and stopping for ice cream before arriving home.

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» Saturday, December 12, 2020
Not The Birthday Gift I Was Expecting

To say this has been a week full of ups and downs would be an understatement.

The good news: I finished putting up the downstairs decorations on St. Nicholas Day (as well as doing most of my Sunday chores) and put up the Christmas tree the next day. Alas, even these fun events were fraught with frustration: the top half of the library tree did not light, I couldn’t fix the problem with the Lightkeeper Pro, and I ended up just replacing bulbs until it came back on. It looked as if most of the yellow bulbs were burnt out! I lost count of how many I replaced, mostly yellow, but also some at the bottom of the tree where I’d replaced lights last year! Not only that, when I plugged in the three segments of the main tree to test them, the top did not light. I left it plugged in while I decorated the library tree and the library, and then the downstairs hall and the airplane tree. When I came upstairs with the tree ornaments, nary a light did I see in it.

Until I kicked it. Then it lit up!

Since I started late (I was sick during the morning), I had to quit tinseling the tree halfway through to attend an online seminar on “Christmas Past” that I signed up for last month, thinking it would be fun. It was, although I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know. The company was nice, though. Then I did finish the tree and it was safely pushed in the corner for this Christmas season.

Tuesday I found some special programs on Amazon Prime about Tasha Tudor, and really enjoyed those, especially the Christmas-themed one with her children. This was filmed, of course, before she died; apparently there was then a big court battle because she left everything to the son and not her other children. Happier times at Christmas, at least. And Wednesday I found out where to drop my Toys for Tots contribution.

And then Friday we thought everything was really hunky-dory because we went to IKEA and finally bought a new mattress. It was a great birthday gift: our old one that we bought at the Home Show had gotten so soft James was sliding off the side of the bed. It was warrantied for fourteen years and only six years old, but the company that made it had gone out of business. Bye-bye warranty. So we went there and once again tested all the foam mattresses (we have to have foam, as we have a adjustable bed), and still decided on the same mattress we had picked out a couple of months ago, except instead of the medium firm we got the firm. We made arrangements to have the mattress delivered and the old one taken away, with signed documents to that effect. Cool, right? Well, maybe… On the way home we stopped at the Buckhead Barnes & Noble, which had been the best one around here. Alas, it has been as denuded as the others, the magazines aren’t up-to-date, and there were panhandlers hanging around the doors. At least we had some ice cream as our dessert.

And then came Saturday! We had a delivery window from 1 -5 p.m., so I took my time getting up. It was 9 a.m. before I noticed I had a call from a delivery service at 8:05: it was the people delivering the mattress. He said it was contactless delivery and he would just leave it on the porch! Sure enough a few minutes later Tucker barked, and a rolled up mattress was dumped on our porch. A few minutes later the dispatcher from the delivery company called me to make sure we got the mattress. I explained it was supposed to be delivered, set up, and the old taken away during the afternoon. He said he’d call to see what was going on. I continued calling him all afternoon, but never got any satisfaction, and of course I tried calling up IKEA, but their automated message continue to inform me that they were too busy to take calls and to contact them online (but the only thing you could do online was cancel the delivery, and that had already happened!), and then it would hang up on me! I finally got through via a different phone number only to be told that they shouldn’t have told me they would do a pickup; they weren’t doing any pickups. Our salesman called the desk and asked before he made out the paperwork! This is a violation of my contract with them–we wouldn’t have bought the mattress there had I known they wouldn’t take the old one away. Basically after several calls they tell me they are refunding our delivery fee and we will have to make arrangements to get the old mattress removed ourselves.

About five o’clock I got mad. The mattress was in a deflated roll, and I just kept upending it until I got it on the landing, and then I managed to tug it up the nine stairs left one at the time till I got to the top and James could help me pull it. We always turn the mattress when we change the bed, so it wasn’t much different to actually get the old mattress off the bed (it took about ten minutes of tugging and grunting because the old one has no handle). After that, the new mattress was positively a doddle to cut open and unroll on the bed to inflate. I know it’s supposed to inflate for a whole day, but it can’t be helped. Tired of James thumping his heel against the side of the bed when he starts to slide off and it must hurt his feet as well.

So yeah, we have a new bed, but now we’re stuck with a queen–sized mattress leaned up against one wall of our bedroom, blocking the chifforobe, the toy chest, and the chair that I sit in to put on my shoes. Not only that, but just as I finished taking my shower, I got heart palpitations! I’d already taken my pill over an hour earlier, so I didn’t know whether I was going to bed that night or Urgent Care.  I finished drying off and put my nightgown on and went to lie down, taking deep breaths and willing my heart to get back to normal rhythms. It would beat-beat-beat-beat then try to slow down then go back to beat-beat-beat-beat to start the cycle again. And then it was back to normal rhythm. The whole incident only lasted about 20 minutes at the most, but seemed like hours. Now I know how my mom felt when this happened to her. She would be doing something and just stop in her tracks and sit down and be very quiet until it passed. Scary.

In the meantime James admitted to me on Monday morning that he almost fell again in the bathroom–I was really upset and went ballistic, which was why I was sick on Monday morning. He is continuing to have problems with his shoulder after the fall, even though the X-rays determined he did not break anything.

This has not been one of our better weeks, even with the comfort of the Christmas tree.

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» Saturday, December 05, 2020
Our Aching Heads

Well, it was a week. And boy what a week...

It did indeed rain on Sunday, but with the lights already outside the rest of the First Sunday of Advent decorating was a doddle. I put additional things out on the porch, and hung the garlands on the inside doors and set the candoliers in the windows. Our neighbors were already brightening their homes as well. Pam next door has a plain white lit tree downstairs, and a red-and-white peppermint tree upstairs. Miranda and Eddie strung multicolor outlines on the front of their house later in the week. Even the lady across the street put a color-changing tree in one of her bedroom windows.

About 2 a.m. Monday morning everything went pear-shaped. James got up to use the bathroom, fell asleep as he leaned forward to pull up his pajama bottoms, and took a header into the wall. I was woken from sleep by an enormous thump and raced into the bath to find him on the floor with a big black-and-blue goose-egg already forming on his right temple, coherent but in pain, and no way to get off the floor, since his knees are so bad he can't roll on them to get up. So I had to call the rescue squad. Four nice firemen/EMTs rescued him, checked him out including his blood sugar, thought he was okay, but since he banged his head, also thought he should go to the hospital to get checked out. The EMTs were geeks and before they left we were talking Star Trek. Then James went off to St. Joseph's via ambulance and I tried to get back to sleep and miserably failed since most of what I was doing was crying.

He was only there about four hours. They took bloodwork, checked his sugar again, did a CAT scan of his head and thankfully detected no internal bleeding, gave him one pain med, and then had him call me to take him home about 7 a.m. He looked terrible for lack of sleep, his shoulders ached terribly, and he said they seemed really in a hurry to get rid of him. Once Kaiser opened, we got the earliest appointment for him with Kaiser, right after the one I had on Thursday, but with a different doctor. Hell, I was going to take him with me anyway if he couldn't get an appointment; I didn't care.
 
Tuesday he did still get up and work. I wrapped up and mailed the out of town gifts [and made a big goof, but didn't realize it until later]. I also got Thanksgiving and fall packed up and got the last of the boxes down myself since James wouldn't be able to help me.
 
Oh, Thursday, Thursday, terrible Thursday. Thursday morning I was sitting at my computer just doing some odd writing and I experienced a terrible dizzy spell. The room didn't spin, but my head did, lasting about fifteen seconds. I could still see straight, I called out for James and could speak coherently and not slurred, and could grab his hand, but I have never been so giddy. It frightened the dickens out of me. By the time we arrived at the doctor's office that afternoon, I was scared out of my wits and my blood pressure was normal for anyone else, but high for me. By the time the doctor came in the office (he was running late, so James and I basically rolled in for our appointments at the same time). After listening to me babble hysterically for fifteen minutes and checking my heart and breathing, the doctor decided the dizziness and the blood pressure was caused by stress, and he authorized a sonogram for me so we can figure out what caused the stomach pain last week.
 
The doctor James saw authorized some x-rays to check out his shoulder pain, but, alas, the Cumberland office had no x-ray tests happening that day (the tech was out sick) and the West Cobb office closed at five, and we didn't get out of there until 4:55. Sigh. So we went home and didn't get the x-ray until Friday morning. We also went to Costco to pick up James new glasses, and he was quite pleased with both pairs, once the lady at the counter figured out which was which, but the line was so long we nearly missed lunch with Alice and Ken and Aubrey. He got two pair, one for distances and one for use at the computer. I can't wait to get my eyes checked on the 22nd and go to Costco for glasses; I'm also planning to get one pair for distance and one for the computer.
 
In the afternoon I put up most the rest of the upstairs Christmas decorations. Sigh. Sand is leaking from the weighted bottom of the woodland tree—never knew it had sand in it—but the little white star lights I bought for it at Lidl work pretty well, as do the lights I bought for the mirror above the Rudolph tree. The dining room and kitchen are all nice and sparkly, and the 1940s Christmas village is up.
 
On Saturday we had Hair Day and Chinese from Dragon 168 for supper. Cross fingers I will be able to put up the downstairs decorations up on Sunday. Then all I will have left is the tree.

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» Saturday, November 28, 2020
Thanksgiving and Christmas Changes
 
It wasn't the most sterling of Thanksgiving weeks. I've been experiencing some problems with my stomach and lower GI tract all week. It was at its worst last Saturday, but it has slowly improved all week. Wondering if it has been some type of stomach flu, but then I've never had anything like this last so long. Since I needed to check in with my doctor anyway to renew a prescription, I made an appointment for the next week.

Came home from the gathering at Alice's this past Sunday with a turkey carcass, so on Tuesday we had made turkey soup. Of course after that we had to play freezer Tetris to get the soup stored, except for the one container we kept out to have soup when the bottom drops out of the thermometer, which we were told was coming up. In the meantime we had low 70s for Thanksgiving and the surrounding days.

We ended up staying home for Thanksgiving after being invited to the Lucyshyns like last year. I was still having minor stomach pains. We only knew there was an invitation open recently, so we had already prepared to spend the day on our own: we'd bought two packages of turkey thighs (so we'd have leftovers), diced butternut squash, baby carrots, roasted potatoes, and stuffing. I cooked the turkey in two glass baking dishes. One baking dish was used to make the gravy, in the other dish I cooked the turkey thighs partway, then, James having already put together the stuffing mix with fresh celery and cooked it up on the stovetop, laid the stuffing under the thighs and cooked them all the rest of the way until the turkey was at the proper temp. Meanwhile, I used the lower oven to roast the potatoes, waterless cooked the carrots, and warmed up the butternut squash, which had been cooked and mashed already. Missed most of the initial broadcast of this year's socially distanced Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while cooking, but saw almost all of the National Dog Show, and then rewatched the parade (NBC apparently had nothing better to broadcast Thanksgiving afternoon) while we ate. Dessert was Hershey's dark chocolate pudding (sprinkled it with Andes peppermint bits for a "punch," but they were sticky and stale, so I threw the rest away), which is as good as it sounds.

We did some minor Black Friday shopping the next day: first we hit Staples, which had a set of 22 InkJoy gel pens on sale for $10. We then went to Target, where I went looking for a double cube storage set. I had found them online but was bewildered when we arrived at the store not to find them with the furniture (but while we were waiting for help found a nifty-looking convection oven/microwave/air fryer in appliances—not sure we want to drop the cash on it, though). Once we did find the double cube we rode it up front on the platform at the front of James' power chair, checked ourselves out, and he carried it out to the truck. Easiest Target purchase ever. Then we hopped next door to get James a new wireless keyboard, which he'd reserved at Office Max (water fell in the old one, and alas, the hair dryer did not help it recover as it did my own keyboard). When we got home, I put the double cube together. It replaced a dog's breakfast combination of a small teak table, a storage cube, and a cloth storage bin under one of the living room windows. Now two cloth storage cube boxes are stored neatly in the double cube compartments, and my CD player and my cassette player are set on top.
 
A surprise came in the mail as well. I believe I wrote that I found a cheap DVD player that could be hacked to play Region 2 (British) DVDs. Well, last week it quit working! I sent a letter of complaint to the manufacturer and they sent me a new one.

Saturday we had a fun visit to Hobby Lobby and then a routine Lidl excursion. The weather report was calling for torrential rain on Sunday, and the first Sunday of Advent is when I traditionally put up the outside lights and the window candles. So when we got home I put out the outdoor Christmas lights. We have multicolor net lights for the small bush right in front, and then I scatter multicolor strings on the top of the larger bushes to one side of the door. Well, the multicolor strings (I did three this year, scalloping them on the outside of the bushes as well) worked fine, but one section of the net lights burned out. After nearly ninety minutes trying to get them re-light, I tried bunching them so the gap that was out wasn't so noticeable. It looked terrible. I went rummaging in the garage and found two more strings of multicolor lights, and a shorter string of LED lights. I arranged the two larger strings on the top of the front bushes, and then scalloped the short string underneath. Looks much better.

I also had a new wrinkle on the front door wreath this year. Most of the "picks" on the wreath were faded from the Georgia sun, as was the bow. So I had gone down in the library, pulled off the old picks and the bow, and attached bright colorful new picks (three Christmas-y ones and then three woodsy ones and three holly corsages), the three green baubles from the previous decorations (the green had not faded at all, so I reused them), and a new bow. The ribbon I could find for the bow was not as wide as I wanted, so I wasn't satisfied, but the new picks look nice. Plus at Hobby Lobby I had picked up a string of multicolor battery-powered LED "seed" lights. These were nestled on top of the wreath and do look quite nice. Bet they eat batteries like crazy, though.

[On Sunday I did put up all the window candles, as well as the indoor door wreaths, so the first Sunday of Advent decorating was done.]

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