Yet Another Journal

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

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

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

FOR TODAY, Sunday, January 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am reading... print media: Philip Pullman's Daemon Voices, about the craft of writing; in e-book format: Candid Christmas, a history of the holiday; in e-magazine format: still on the December "Good Old Days"; in magazine format: the last of the Christmas magazines, saved for last to be savored: "Early American Life Christmas."
I am hoping... be okay enough tomorrow to go to the Atlanta History Center and that I can find a parking space. Tomorrow it is free for Martin Luther King Day and they have a new exhibit on Jim Crow, as well as an exhibit that is ending this month about women's suffrage. Plus they now have the Cyclorama there and I have never seen it—it used to be at Grant Park, near the zoo.

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

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

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

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

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

Edith Sitwell

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

A peek into my day...
Been listening to Colonial Williamsburg podcasts all day! So... archaeology on the site!

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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» Friday, January 17, 2020
Friends and Farewells

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I miss Pam's tree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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» Thursday, December 26, 2019
Boxing Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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» Sunday, December 22, 2019
Christmas Comes Marching In

I still can never understand it.

Look at it. It's almost Christmas. Summer went by like a constipated sloth wearing a body cast. The weather finally turned cool (and not until October 3, for God's sake!) and since then it's moved like the Indy 500, days just tumbling over days in their haste to go by: leaves turning, Hallowe'en, Veteran's Day skidding into Thanksgiving, with Christmas decorations already up everywhere, and suddenly it's less than ten days until the 25th.

Which is why after popping into Publix on Thursday to do the weekly shopping we returned home, I obeyed the spinning clock, pulled the divider out of the oven, prepped the dining room table, and commenced to baking wine biscuits. This took all afternoon and filled the house with a pleasant odor. I managed to finish one bottle of hearty burgundy without having to start another. Then at suppertime James practiced his culinary alchemy and we had turkey wings done in the air fryer basted with maple teriyaki sauce. To say this was divine is wayyyyyyy underpraising it. Oh, goodness, that was delicious, and eating them did not make me ill the way eating baked ones usually do, probably because all the fat leached out into the air fryer, leaving just crispy skin and juicy meat behind.

Thursday evening we also watched the new version of A Christmas Carol with Scrooge played by Guy Pearce, who is only in his fifties. This helped bring to life Dickens' description that Scrooge was aged by his miserliness rather than years. The producer of this is the guy who does the often bloody and violent Peaky Blinders series, and he commented that most versions make A Christmas Carol so cozy that you don't see what genuinely hard times Dickens was railing about. He wanted to make a Carol that more reflected the type of dreadful life the poor had in Victorian London. Well, the cast was excellent, it all looked good, and it did really bring home the horrors of poverty in that era. But in this version Scrooge isn't just a guy who decided money was more important than people (something that must have come from his father sending him to such cheap boarding schools), he's a sociopath made that way by a brutal father who basically traded Scrooge's innocence for free tuition. Scrooge isn't just greedy, he's damaged psychologically, and that shows in his character; what he does in this version of the Carol isn't just unfeeling, it's downright cruel (especially what he inflicts on Mrs. Cratchit). So when he does see the error of his ways at the end, it's not the happy reclamation of a soul. The end is a real downer instead, where it's implied that instead of other Scrooges that can be reclaimed, that there's just more of them and the spirits have more work to do, basically that it's an endless job that will never be finished. We aren't welcoming the one Prodigal Son back to the fold, we're instead emphasizing all the lost souls that will never be reclaimed. It's not hopeful, it's just more pessimistic.

It's also been tarted up to give a couple of female characters more to do. Intriguing idea to make Scrooge's sister one of the ghosts, but she just pops up that she's always "been interested in science" in the dialog like that updates her somehow, but seems to be there for no reason for that choice but to note that women were actually intelligent back then but were not given a chance to show it. It's Mrs. Cratchit's role that's been expanded the most, but the fact that she is played by a woman of color and then has some special connection with the spirit world smacks of stereotypes of Caribbean women and voodoo. It's like the stereotypical convention that Native Americans all have some type of spirit guide who can save them in times of crisis, a clichè that even made it into Star Trek: Voyager. So: looked good, excellent cast, but very grim, no hope, very bloody at times (check out the decapitated pet mouse). Would love one that kept the reality of the time with the story of the book!

Very surprised that I woke up on Friday morning with no nightmares after that one. (The intrusive and badly timed commercial breaks for no movie I would ever want to see except for Rise of Skywalker probably helped.) I had a good Hallmark coupon and wanted to add to a gift that was woefully inadequate. So James and I packed up the truck and headed for Amy's Hallmark at Town Center, where I found something quite nice, and also, with a second coupon, a gift to put away. We then went into the Publix next door (mostly to use the rest room, but also to pick up something we'd forgotten), and then stopped at Barnes & Noble to spend all of James' huge Christmas bonus, a $5 Starbuck's gift card, on a peppermint hot chocolate and a brownie.

Saturday we had a busy but fun day. We went to Lidl for bread, milk, and juice in the morning, then once home did a few other chores. Cut it really close to the time we had to leave (didn't realize it was so late), but got on chat with Verizon and cancelled those stupid Hum devices for the car. They're costing us $30 month and James' has never worked with his truck. In fact, he ended up getting a new one, which they made him pay for, and it still didn't work, and I was incensed when I discovered they wanted to charge us a termination fee for the "new" account. We told them we didn't want a new account when we had to get a new unit; we wanted to put the new unit on the old number, but apparently they didn't do that. Anyway, I got the dude to waive the termination fee, and we got the 55+ Unlimited plan so James doesn't have to worry about using his Surface at work and eating up all the data. (Unfortunately this doesn't seem to make us eligible for the free Disney+. Ah, well, I already pay for three streaming services we almost never use.)

We had supper at Fried Tomato Buffet and tanked up the truck at Costco up the hill, then set out on the freeway for the city of Tucker and specifically the Tucker Recreation Center, where the Atlanta Radio Theatre was putting on this year's version of An Atlanta Christmas. The rec center is an old school, and the show was in the auditorium, and we enjoyed this year's version with all of our old favorites, including "Are You Lonely Tonight," "Davy Crockett Christmas," and "USO Christmas." Stopped to talk to Clair and Daniel and Ron and Lin afterwards.

On the way in I'd noticed there was a tiny little white building set in front of the rec center on brick pilings. As we came out, used the flashlight on my phone to see what it was. In front the rec center people had planted a butterfly garden, with signs letting you know what each thing was. Turned out the "little building," which James thought might be 15 feet by 20, was an old courthouse! The "Browning Courthouse," specifically, from Tucker, original structure built in 1860 (!) and used until 1977! Wow. They must have had to sit on each other's laps!

We managed to beat the rain home and Tucker had his walk that did not turn into "a bath."

And then "click!" and our weekend was over.

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» Saturday, December 14, 2019
Anticlimactic Saturday

Today I didn't oversleep, but I was aggravated to discover that I hadn't taken my pills again last night. This is the second Friday night in a row. This means I not only didn't take my heart pill, but I didn't take my fenofibrate, which controls more than my cholesterol. Stupid.

So I moved deliberately this morning. I continued wrapping gifts. James left to go to his meeting. I had a sandwich for lunch. Once I could step away from the bathroom for more than a half hour, I went to the annual Mable House Christmas craft fair. I was a bit disappointed. Either it was very small this year, only the big hall full, and then a back meeting room with auction items (oh, how I would have liked that book lectern!); last year the two other meeting rooms had vendors in them as well, so there were a lot fewer choices. Like Apple Annie, mostly jewelry. Some ceramic products. Homemade jams. Someone had homemade candy bars. I was in and out in fifteen minutes.

Stopped at Aldi on the way home, but no nifty gadgets, and I was feeling rather limp, so I came home. Finished a gift, finished wrapping gifts, and cleaned up the spare room, but was exhausted and lay down on the futon instead of putting up the woodland tree now that I had the bureau cleared.

James called on his way home and asked if I still wanted to go out. I did, but I didn't. He brought home Chinese food from Dragon instead, and we had chocolate M&M peppermint cookies for dessert while watching White Christmas, and then I watched Lassie Christmas episodes for the rest of the night.

And, yes, I took my pills tonight! At seven o'clock, in fact.

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» Friday, December 13, 2019
Food and Friends and Food

Since we went out for fun yesterday we had to grocery shop today, and of all days I picked to oversleep! My alarm had gone off at eight, and I'd shut it off, sure I would wake up at nine or 9:30. But it was 10:30 before I'd awakened, and I had to skin into my clothes, walk the dog quickly, and then we were off to Publix in the car, since it was spoiling for rain. We had to do this doublequick as we had to be at lunch at 12:30. So we made it through Publix in record time, even with having a nice chat with the lady who helped us with our groceries, and even got home in time to put things away, and use the "facilities."

West Cobb Diner was crowded on this chilly, damp, and gloomy day, but they managed to squeeze the seven of us in (the Spiveys, Aubrey, Juanita, Jessie, and us) and we had a nice dinner. Jessie has a 3D printer and brought in the model of Hogwarts castle and grounds she had done. The level of detail is phenomenal. She had started to print an R2-D2 but the printer came unbalanced on the second day (you read that correctly) of printing out the dome top and she had to stop it. We were talking about tiny houses and a new thing that they are trying in Mexico: 3D printing small houses of concrete (yes, the 3D printer extrudes concrete instead of plastic). Aubrey also got some additional hours on her church job, which is great. She'll get extra money and still have time to do manuscript editing freelance.

On the way home, James and I stopped at two different Lowes because I am down to about 20 replacement bulbs and I wanted more. Well, the Lowes Christmas stuff is already on discount and all the replacement midget lights were gone! I did get some of the clear C7 incandescents for the candles downstairs and clear bulbs for the nightlights. Otherwise they are so expensive.

We were heading for Costco, but it was so rainy and miserable we made a U-turn on the East-West Connector and went to Lidl instead. Picked up bread, milk, chocolate, proscuitto for a couple of lunches (on sale), juice. They were sold out of ground turkey again, so I got James ground beef instead.

I went into the spare bedroom and wrapped James' gifts because I knew he had to wrap something for the Secret Santa game at his club party tomorrow, and I didn't want him to accidentally come upon them. After Hawaii Five-0 ended, he did his wrapping, including my gift, and I spent the rest of the night wrapping the gifts we need for the Lawsons' party on Sunday.

Was very glad to crawl into bed when the time came!

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» Thursday, December 12, 2019
Birthday Girl

My birthday (#64 on the Hit Parade) was actually yesterday, but since James was at work for ten hours, there wasn't exactly time for mutual celebrating. Besides, Wednesday is my laundry day, and that's inviolate except for emergencies. However, once I had the second load of clothes in the dryer, I did go out. I was going to stop at Barnes & Noble, then have lunch at Tin Drum.

I did stop at the bookstore, but while checking out the store was musing that a couple of gifts that I had seemed a little skimpy, so instead of buying lunch I bought two small things to add to the gifts. I also bought a new journal for 2020, even though I ordered one from the publisher two weeks ago. I've never gotten any acknowledgment that it was mailed. If I get it, I'll save it for 2021, if not I'll dispute the charge with my credit card company.

I'd rather go to Tin Drum next week when I have an extra protein anyway. That way I can make two meals of it.

On the way home I stopped at a couple of Dollar Tree stores looking for small 6x6 calendars. The small calendars you see sold in stores are 7x7 and don't fit next to my computer; I use one to track James' payday and tax/insurance bills. I suppose I can use the one on my computer, but it seems to have lost all the birthdays I put on it, so I don't know if I want to. No dice. I didn't find one until the last days of December last year.

By then I was hungry and headed home; as a treat watched four Christmas episodes of WSBK-TV38 (Boston)'s best show ever, the irrepressible Ask the Manager. Realized Cliff Allen's been gone for almost 21 years. 😥 I made macaroni "with the gravy" for supper and enjoyed every morsel, as I just had fruit and cheese when I got in.

Today we had an enjoyable day together. We picked up James' missing meds at Kaiser, then drove into Buckhead with a Barnes & Noble 25 percent off coupon that popped up this morning. The Buckhead B&N is next to a Publix, so we were able to drop off our bag for Toys for Tots before perusing the store. I was looking for the new Bryant and May mystery, but even though it's available on Amazon, not a sign of it in B&N. I got Philip Pullman's book about writing instead. James found a new David Weber book and three aviation calendars which he'll use to dress up his cubicle at work.

Then he took me out for a birthday lunch. There's a new place to eat downtown, the Marietta Square Market, basically a small version of Faneuil Hall in Boston, which is full of small restaurants. This has about ten different eating places, or maybe a dozen, including Cousins Maine Lobster. I was jonesing for a lobster roll, and they had one with butter instead of mayonnaise. Of course when I got there I noticed they carried another entry that was a lobster tail and tater tots. I have this tater tot thing. Alas, the lobster tail was tiny—I didn't know they could harvest lobsters that small! James had a huge portion of lamb curry and tandoori rice and some potatoes plus a spinach kind of mush, and most of it came home for a lunch. They also have a barbecue place, Cuban, burgers, pizza, sushi, Cajun, and more, plus a breakfast place/bakery. We got dessert from there when we were done.

Got home just in time to miss the rain, did the usual: news, Young Sheldon, last night's Forged in Fire, and more news.

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