Yet Another Journal

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

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

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» Thursday, 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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» 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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» Sunday, November 22, 2020
Once again, fairly "major" things accomplished at week's beginning: finally, the bathing of the dog (this is just hard anymore because the hose on the new shower head is not long enough so I have to sit on the toilet lid and bend over to wash Tucker, rather than kneeling down where it's more comfortable since I got knee pads). Of course washing Tucker means washing all his bedding, but that was done as well, plus I cleaned out the mixed utensil drawer in the kitchen, as I simply could not stand all those stray twister seals any longer. I just kept a dozen unused ones, and hope I don't regret it!
Tuesday was a little unnerving because, although I did a two-mile walk and trimmed the bushes out front without any problem, I had a little dizzy spell while I was putting something up in the kitchen, so I rested for the remainder of the day. Wednesday was better, and laundry got done and I cleaned out a bunch of old videotapes from under the guest room television stand, except for the one of my parents' old home movies and another of our wedding receptions, and tossed a few things in the garage for good measure.

Thursday morning we were up and out fairly early to go to Costco. The COVID-19 increase in case reports news has sent everyone after toilet paper again. All Costco had left was some bamboo-based two-ply stuff. I got it anyway, just in case, even though I hate two-ply. We also shopped at Costco before lunch and Lidl afterwards, with James' podiatry appointment tucked in between. Thankfully, no ingrown toenails this time.

Friday we had to go to Petco to get Snowy more seed—if he wasn't such a picky eater I would have to do this less often, but he picks out only the canary seed and the millet and leaves the pellets and even the oat groats behind, which isn't good for him—and went to Sprouts, where we found butternut squash cut up: hurrah!!! We had a nice lunch with Alice and Ken at Okinawa in Marietta as well, and when we got home I watched Arthur Thanksgiving, which, thank goodness, did not have any songs in it like the Arthur Christmas special. Curious to why Arthur's little dog Pal (Pal is lost, which is the crux of the plot) speaks—only with other pets of course—in a British accent!

James was quite taken with the compression socks he got from the Walmart at Town Center last time we were there, so we went back on Saturday to get him more. Unfortunately they only had them in huge sizes (13-15). We did get more sugar-free candy and a new set of spatulas. He ordered the socks when we got home.

James was back to work today, but I got a little bit of extra weekend when Alice and Ken hosted a pre-Thanksgiving gathering. Juanita brought the bird of honor, and there were lots of other goodies. We stayed in different small groups, and I was outside for a while. Sunday is usually James' quiet day, so I connected to him via Zoom, so he sorta got to come as well.

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» Saturday, November 14, 2020
Little Successes and Little Women
Started our weekend with things already accomplished: I'd brushed out the dog, finally got my safe-deposit box re-established and renewed a CD (only for six months because interest rates were so loathesome), made an eye exam appointment, and wrote out Thanksgiving cards. (Also, alas, the shrimp we had for our anniversary made me sick. Dammit.) 
Thursday, after doing most of the shopping and mailing the cards, we also got the lift for the power chair checked out. The crossbar was definitely not holding the chair as tightly as it could, so I'm glad that's been fixed. We also went to Barnes & Noble. I found an interesting bargain book about the history of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Unfortunately it was not the end of our grocery shopping, as we needed no-salt-added mushrooms and one Kroger didn't have them, so we had to go to another. Two Krogers on Friday are two too many. However, this was balanced out by a nice lunch at The BBQ Place with the Spiveys, Aubrey Spivey, and the Boulers (we hadn't seen the latter in a while).
We did have a nice time on Saturday morning when we attended the Marietta Farmer's Market. We brought Tucker with us and he had a great time greeting the many other canines wandering about: we kept bumping into the same spaniel who wanted to play, a supercilious poodle who was having none of it, a very shy puppy who was going to grow up to outweigh Tucker probably five to one, and a tiny Yorkshire Terrier who came on very strong despite probably weighing five pounds dripping wet. Tucker wasn't sure what to make of him, or of a huge black mastiff-like dog (a Cane Corso, perhaps, or a Presa Canario) who was very chill (big dogs, of course, have nothing to prove!). He was lying down when we encountered him, and Tucker circled him warily, keeping his distance. I think he thought it was a bear!
The rest of Saturday was more routine; James had his club meeting, so I did some chores and then sat down to watch the newest reiteration of Little Women by Greta Gerwig. In general I liked it. The idea of doing it as a series of flashbacks was interesting, and especially where there were parallels, as when Beth was sick initially and then later sickened again, it worked well. Saoirse Ronan was a great Jo (but does Jo never comb her hair? the real Jo would have worn it in a snood or in braids, as she has it at the beginning of the book, to keep it out of her face while doing chores), and for once Laurie looked like I imagined him (although Timothee Chalomet still looked like a kid at the end, which was disconcerting; no effort was made to make him look more adult, which, as a result, made Florence Pugh, as Amy, look older than he was and Amy was four years younger than Laurie). I must be the only person in the world who did not adore Christian Bale as Laurie (in the 1994 version).
For once Beth actually looked as sick as she was, but Beth herself, even though they do the incident with Beth catching scarlet fever from the Hummels and with Mr. Lawrence giving Beth the piano and her giving him the slippers and Jo taking Beth to the seashore to improve her health—well, even though Jo is there I never get this real sense of a close bond between Jo and Beth the way it is in the book.
The home interiors looked very realistic, as did the candlelit dim rooms.
I even enjoyed the ambiguity of the ending. It plays with the fact that Louisa Alcott never intended for Jo to marry anyone and only "made her a funny match" to please her publisher. She got her wish with her pseudo-Jo in Jo's Boys, as Nan Harding becomes a doctor and remains single.
Everyone has commented about Florence Pugh's performance, and I thought she did well as older Amy, but she looked ridiculous as young Amy. I have to say that in any of the versions where they use the scene where Amy burns Jo's book, this is probably the most hateful Amy I've ever seen, and that includes Ann Dusenberry's dreadful Amy in the TV miniseries version in the 1970s. In this version, as in the TV version, Jo should have let her drown. She was always whining.
I know the Marches were poor, but I do not see Mrs. March allowing Meg to show up at the Moffats looking like she was about to do housework. What on earth was that awful burlap-looking thing she was wearing when she got out of the carriage?
James Norton was stiff as a board as John Brooke. The only good thing you can say about him is that he was a better looking John than Eric Stoltz.
Once again it's Marmee's miracle arrival that saves Beth, although not so blatantly as in the 1994 version. After a bout of scarlet fever that severe, Beth was not going to be downstairs sipping soup the day after her fever broke.
And once again the March family has a Christmas tree, although historically they were not common in people's homes until the 1890s. Alcott doesn't indicate that the house is decorated for Christmas during either of the book's two Christmas scenes. The only ornamentation mentioned are Beth's roses and "Amy's pet geranium." The only Christmas decoration I recall Alcott mentioning at all was when Jo momentarily remembered Christmases when she was small and the Marches had money: "No stockings hung at the fireplace, and for a moment she felt as much disappointed as she did long ago, when her little sock fell down because it was crammed so full of goodies."
I have to say I felt this new version dragged, even with the altered narrative. I kept looking at the clock. Never a good thing.

My favorite of the film adaptations is still the 1994 one. Especially for the score. Oh, that wonderful score!
My favorite version of Little Women is still the book. 😃

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» Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...
...another warm day. I sure can't wait for it to be real November weather. I'm looking forward to wearing my sweatsuits.
I am thinking... is our 30th wedding anniversary! I can't say that it seems like yesterday, because there's a lot of water under the bridge between 1990 and today. But it's all been good (except for the hospital stuff).

I am thankful...
...thinking about that "hospital stuff"—thankful for Dr. Shash, and Dr. Kongara, and Dr. Starr, and all the doctors and nurses and staff (even at Piedmont, the place we hated most of all), and the nice people at the dialysis clinic.

In the kitchen...
...I have been concocting an anniversary feast. We have shrimp and I have made a scampi sauce for it with a combination of ghee, butter, and Smart Balance, lemon zest and lemon juice, and garlic paste. It tastes yummy and we will have it over linguine. We will have this for dinner instead of supper because despite the date, it's still a work day.

I am wearing... Owly t-shirt and blue-silver-and-white pajama pants and white socks.

I am creating...
...well, dinner. Also have made an appointment (next month, so my Medicare will have kicked in) to get my eyes checked. Dying for new glasses; the ones I'm wearing now have had a nosepiece broken off since last December. Now that James has a prescription we will probably being going to Costco to get him some glasses. It seems to be the cheapest place.

I am going... write out my Thanksgiving cards today or tomorrow.

I am wondering...
...what 2021 will bring. I have ordered my 2021 mini-Susan Branch calendar and a new journal. After this year, the future will always be frightening. I know I should be optimistic but something deep inside me is afraid that just around the corner there is something about to bite.

I am reading...
...I just finished Neither Wolf Nor Dog, about a writer who is summoned by a Native American elder to tell his story and who is taken on an odyssey to truly impress upon him the havoc Europeans pressed upon the tribes that lived here before us. Very moving and sad. Am now reading New England Flavor, a New England writer talking about his boyhood living on a small New Hampshire farm in 1908.

I am hoping...
...the vaccines they are talking about on the news will be effective.

I am looking forward to...
...the outdoor gathering at Alice and Ken's house next Sunday. Poor James will need to work, but I've promised to bring him a care package.

I am learning... to make a good scampi sauce! The last time we didn't have lemon and the sauce was overly buttery and had no contrasting flavor. A little bit of juice and zest has seemed to have made all the difference.

Around the house...
...James is tapping away at his computer finishing up some notes. Snowy's taken a break from singing. Tucker, of course, is under the table on a chair, asleep, his body on one chair and his head pillowed on the other, with one leg dangling down. I don't see how he's comfortable that way, but...there it is.

I am pondering... it got to be two weeks till Thanksgiving already. Summer, as always, lumbered by so slowly, but sweet autumn goes swiftly by. Alas, we are having a rather dull season livened only by one or two bright trees per mile. Even the lovely maple tree down the street is rather dowdy.

A favorite quote for today...
...thinking about "all that hospital stuff," a classic:
"Happiness hangs by a hair." . . . Mary O'Hara, Wyoming Summer

One of my favorite things...
...cold please come back!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Thursday we have an appointment to get the power chair lift on the truck serviced. Since we got the new chair earlier this year, I had noticed that the crossbar that keeps the chair secured to the lift did not depress in the seat as far as it did into the old chair. We called to have it looked at, but no one called us back, then they turned around just a few weeks ago saying the lift needed a 6-months' checkup, something they'd never asked us about with the original lift or its successor. We're also talking about going to the Farmer's Market on Saturday.

A peek into my day...
There's just something irresistible about a sleeping budgie (or, in this case, one that's just been awakened):

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



» Sunday, November 08, 2020
Triple Strike
Reached an autumn milestone for this year: it was the final lawn mow for 2020. Won't have to pay for it again until April, but sure as little green apples something will come to eat that money. I thought I would have some spare money this month to get ahead on bills, but wham, Medicare charged me for three months instead of just one. Always something else.
We spent our three-day weekend getting quotes on glasses frames now that James has a new prescription, plus doing the usual grocery shopping. It was yet another Hallmark Ornament weekend, and we went to the Dallas Highway store with coupons and came home with a needed gift. While we were at Target pricing glasses I noticed they had a DVD sale, three for the price of two, which netted me Greta Gerwig's new version of Little Women, 1917, and the first season of the new British series of His Dark Materials, which surprisingly was only $18. On Friday we had lunch at West Cobb Diner with Alice and Ken and Mel and Phyllis.
So those were the nice things. One must have balance.

Late in January James saw his primary care doctor and was due for a followup late in March or early in April. Except when he called they told him our doctor (I have him as primary, too) was on leave. This was about when everything started shutting down for COVID-19, so James just talked to some else. During the summer he had a couple of video appointments with other doctors, as they told us out doctor was still on "extended leave." I had a horrible suspicion and rather fretted about it all summer. Any time I had to call Kaiser I asked after him. They would tell me he was still "out of the office."

So when James saw him on Wednesday all I feared was true. He did have COVID-19 and was hospitalized at the end of March. He was in the hospital 28 days and spent seventeen of those on a ventilator. When he was finally released he could stand up but had no strength to walk. He spent the next two months in rehab and only started taking patients again at the end of last month. He also had been a rather large man, and it looked like he'd lost at least a hundred pounds. You can see all the figures on television, and listen to the interviews with survivors. But the glass screen is still one last barrier; it doesn't quite hit a hundred percent of "understand" until you've talked to someone who made it through the ordeal.

Anyway, we asked him honestly if it would be safe for us to go to South Carolina to visit James' mom, and he said he couldn't recommend it with all James' co-morbidities. They are truly expecting a second surge of the virus for the winter. James is pretty bummed.

Friday we learned that actor Geoffrey Palmer had died. As Time Goes By is probably my favorite British comedy series after The Good Life; I always have loved it because it's a show about adults, and ordinary misunderstandings that happen between people who live together. Palmer lived a long and busy life—he was 93!—but it was still melancholic.

And now it's Sunday morning and we've learned the sad news about Alex Trebek. I'm a Jeopardy fan from way back, when it was a daytime game show hosted by Art Fleming. If I wasn't in school, I was watching Jeopardy; it was one of my favorite things to view if I was home sick. I used to tell my mom I was going to New York (where the show was filmed at that time) when I was eighteen to try out (no Teen Tournaments back then). Alas, it was cancelled the year I was eighteen. So when Jeopardy came back in 1984 I was delighted. I'd already seen Alex Trebek on other game shows like High Rollers and Wild Cards, and enjoyed him as a host. He fit Jeopardy like a well-tailored suit, and visiting with him daily was always a treat. We will miss him.

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» Saturday, October 31, 2020
What a day: good food, clear skies, Hallowe'en programs, a "blue moon," and the end of wretched Daylight Saving Time.

We had to give up "Hair Day" in April due to the pandemic and lockdown, and had a socially distanced one with appointments only for May. In June, a few people gathered, pretty much just to talk, but our monthly lunches along with haircuts kind of went by the wayside.

In the past few months, though, Alex has been testing recipes on us. Last month he brought some "breakfast sliders," which even I ate (I gave the egg to James). Plus with folks bringing fruit, or fruit trays, veggie trays, etc., we were having pretty good breakfasts.

So today, with all the conversation and the camaraderie, we had some outstanding food. Our contribution was the least interesting: we brought pumpkin bread (Entemann's pumpkin loaf is surprisingly good) and two kinds of Pepperidge Farms cookies that went very quickly. John and Oreta brought candied bacon (an Alton Brown Good Eats recipe) and candied turkey bacon, and it was just superlative, sweet and salty all at once. I think we all ate too much to be good for us. Alex made creamy onion soup. Now, I'm not a fan of "French" onion soup with the thick coating of cheese on it. But this was...astounding. It had cream and butter, and sweet onions sliced finely, all in chicken broth, and was so good! Plus to offset the decadent bacon and the succulent soup, Ron and Lin provided a veggie tray heaped with celery, cucumber, baby tomatoes, broccoli, and lots of carrots with ranch dip on the side. So good!

Alas, good times had to end, people wandered off on errands, and we had to go to Lidl for milk, bread, chicken thighs on sale, and other necessities of life. Unfortunately they had no carts available, so I ended up pushing James in their available manual wheelchair through the store. Let's say I had my cardio for the day and was wiped out when we got home.

Thankfully we had an extra hour to relax (except for having to turn twelve clocks and five timers back one hour). We had no Hallowe'en visitors at all (I don't think anyone on our street did trick-or-treat) and sat back later to watch The Haunted History of Hallowe'en, the For Better or for Worse special "The Good-for-Nothing," and, of course—and not on stinky AppleTVIt's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. "You've heard of the fury of a woman scorned, haven't you? Well, that's nothing compared to a woman who has been cheated out of tricks-or-treats." 😁
The treats today well overwhelmed the tricks.
Now on to November, Standard Time, the Thanks Jar, and Thanksgiving!

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» Friday, October 30, 2020
All This, and Apples, Too
Well, if we wanted to do it, we had to do it today.
So we did; we got up, I walked the dog, turned the television on for Snowy, and we went "adventuring."
After picking up a fast-food breakfast, we found ourselves driving north on a beautiful blue-and-white day, with delightfully low temperatures (it was in the low 60s; we had to wear our flannel shirts at first!) and a nice breeze, up I-575 until it dead-ended into Georgia route 5 and thence to the north Georgia foothills. No apple festival this year, but we weren't going to miss our fresh apples, and a little over an hour later we arrived in East Ellijay and pulled into Panorama Orchards, along with at least a dozen other retired-looking people.
So we wandered around gathering what took our fancy: another jar of blackberry spread to replace the one that did a nose-dive during the summer, a whole peck of apples, more Dionis goat's-milk moisturizing lotion for my soon-to-be winter-wizened hands, blueberry tea for James in those cunning little wooden cases (he's also trying apple and ginger peach), some applesauce cake, more pot-pie noodles. We also got the bright idea to buy some unique Georgia-food items for Christmas baskets for the folks.
Once done there, we traveled 20 more minutes up the road to Taste of Amish (they have a new store since the last time we shopped in Blue Ridge) and found the bonanza: more "soup greens" and also their "vegetable flakes." We were getting vegetable flakes on Amazon, but they had dried peas (ugh!) in them. Taste of Amish's "soup greens" are a mix of dehydrated onion, carrot, red pepper, celery, and a couple of other things, but no peas. The "vegetable flakes" are about the same, but have dried potato in them. I got three containers of both; we have been really enjoying "spiking" the Publix chicken and wild rice soup, which is thick like stew and rather salty, with sodium-free vegetable broth, and several handfuls of the soup greens along with a diced stick of fresh celery. Cuts the salt down and just plain delicious.
By now it was lunchtime. We turned back south and actually were headed for the Zaxby's in Jasper, but their dining room is so small they didn't have it open, so we went to Shane's rib shack for barbecue sandwiches instead. Rode home with the windows open, and it was just the most astonishingly wonderful day, the best we've had since we got to make it to Atomicon.

The only fly in the ointment was breakfast: none of the fast food places has oatmeal any more. I had to settle for French toast sticks (disappointing) and hash brown tater tots (okay).

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» Thursday, October 29, 2020
1940s Smiles and Stormy Weather
I went to bed Tuesday night feeling like it was Christmas Eve. And all because of Remember WENN.
Between household chores and doing some pruning out in front of our neighborhood (I've asked the lawn guy and he keeps forgetting or doesn't understand—I don't know enough Spanish to properly explain) and hanging a garland on the development sign, I did a deep dive this week into finding out how to access the series for its streaming broadcast on Wednesday. The channel, AMC Presents, was available in two places that I could find: Amazon Prime's streaming channels (someone told me you could access these channels even if you didn't have Prime) and a free stream from the folks at Sling TV. (Supposedly you can get it through IMDbTV, but I never figured out how.) All this info was ported over to the Remember WENN Facebook group to other eager fans who hadn't seen the series in years. I didn't go berserk and stay up late for the midnight showing, or be crazy and get up for the 7:30 a.m. showing, but was tuned in and waiting at 1:07 p.m. when the afternoon version kicked in. I did indeed have to pick it up from the Amazon streaming channels via a Chrome browser and then "cast" it to the TV via the Chromecast, but it worked beautifully.

Seeing the series again on "real TV" was wonderful, except for the commercials that are, as always today, thrown in with no rhyme or reason in the the middle of dialog, songs, etc. I was told it was obvious AMC had found the master copies of the episodes and even had them upgraded to 720p, and indeed the episodes looked quite nice and bright and appealing on HD television. They showed the Christmas episode and five others, including the election episode, which was appropriate, and on Facebook everyone compared notes. I've missed those Saturday nights on chat where we all watched episodes and then came in the chat room to talk about them!

During the night Tropical Storm Zeta barged through north Georgia and you could hear the wind loudly even through closed windows. We escaped unscathed, thank God, except for a thick pad of pine straw all over the deck, but some friend of ours a little further north weren't so lucky: a tree hit their bedroom. They weren't hurt, but the bedroom is toast, there are tarps on the roof, and the insurance has been called. Plus of course thousands of folks were without power. Surprisingly, we woke Thursday to electricity and internet, and had no problem going up to Town Center for James' eye appointment, except that he was exhausted from only three hours sleep and I had to work hard to keep him awake on the way there.

So when we got home, the internet was dead, but, again, after a big storm, not surprising. And not only the internet, but our cell phone service as well, which was surprising. The internet came back up about 2:30, but the phones were funky all day.

About 4 p.m. we just gave up, and, so we didn't have to do it on Friday, went to Publix for twofers. Astonishingly, seeing that it was so late in the afternoon, they still had disinfecting items, including Clorox wipes and a couple of other brands.

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