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, July 26, 2020

I hate July. I hate July with a royal passion. Everything bad happens in July. My mom died in July. My dad died on an August first, but what killed him hit in July. James had his first heart attack in July. I lost my PT Cruiser in July. As I have gotten older July has come to stand for all that is misbegotten about summer: the chronic, debilitating heat; the swarms of insects that pounce on me day and night; the sunlight that makes my eyes flinch and swim; the endless race from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned supermarket to air-conditioned whatever location and then back, to collapse in perspiration-soaked weakness under a ceiling fan; the endless cheerful chirping relentlessness of the weather forecasters proclaiming another sunny day...

As 2020 has been particularly odious, July has turned out to be just more moldy icing on a rotting cake. My sister-in-law's foot infection has taken a turn for the worse, partially due to what sounds like doctor neglect. She is going to have to have the foot amputated. A friend of ours who hoped a small surgery on her heart would correct her problem faces another, more complicated surgery in the autumn. There's still no word when James will go back to work...not to mention no assurance that he will. The heat is intense; we can't go out more than two hours before returning home exhausted. There's no watching the news anymore; it's too depressing.

There's only refuge in books, and budgie song, and Christmas music.



» Sunday, July 19, 2020
Pear-Shaped Again

Well, it's been a particularly pissy week.

James was supposed to work Wednesday since he was supposedly back on full-time work, but was called Tuesday afternoon by his supervisor. Somewhere in the kerfluffle over COVID-19, someone forgot to renew the purchase order under which James is paid. If he worked on Wednesday, he would what we would have termed while I was working at CDC an "unauthorized commitment." He was still scheduled to work Saturday, but he had to work that day that because there was no one else to take his place. So Wednesday we got the grocery shopping out of the way.

Wednesday night the other shoe dropped. My sister-in-law has been sick for several months. She had an infection in her foot that, unknown to her, was making her sick in other parts of her body; the symptoms were manifesting more like the flu. The infection finally got so bad they put her into the hospital, where they discovered the circulation in her foot was compromised due to a too-narrow blood vessel in her leg. She had a stent put in, and they sent her home in a new splint (she had been in one previously to keep her off the infected foot) and she thought she was actually getting better, enough to work from home. But it turned out her foot wasn't getting better, it was getting worse. When the visiting nurse came over this week, she checked the foot and saw the infection was spreading into the leg; she called an ambulance immediately to take her to the hospital. Apparently something had not been done properly, and now there is a chance she could lose the foot.

In the meantime summer has done its usual number on me, and I spent Thursday either in the bathroom or asleep, so Friday we took it easy, had a simple lunch at O'Charley's, stopped to pick up Gold Bond powder for my other summer complaint, and spent the afternoon at home. Saturday James did his stint for work, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., so I mainly did housework, including some of the Sunday chores.

And now we wait for them to tell us when he can work again. It evidently wouldn't have been Sunday, since the suits don't work then, so we had another day at home. We've progressed into season five of Perry Mason and are ten episodes in to Space Battleship Yamato 2202. The latter's storyline veers quite a lot from the original season two of the series.

[Update July 20: James' supervisor called late today saying that nothing can be done until there's some executive board meeting. That's suits for you, no decision until everyone can have another useless meeting. His sister is still in the hospital awaiting another test.]

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» Saturday, July 11, 2020
Eyes in the Stars

James went back to working 40 hours a week this week; since he's still teleworking because he's immunocompromised and pretty much required to telework, all this meant was that we needed to leave his work desk and monitor out in the living room one more day.

As compensation for this, I was totally delighted to find an anime site which had the new version of Space Battleship Yamato (a.k.a. Star Blazers) available to watch with some advertisements. I started watching this series years ago, in the late 1970s, when my best friend Sherrye recommended it to me. "You have to watch this," she insisted. I didn't realize it was a serial story, so the first time I tried to watch it I came in the middle of second season and was totally confused. Who were all these people in the arrow-motifed white uniforms? Why was a World War II battleship spaceworthy? Who was that sneering blond haired guy with the blue skin? So I gave up on it, but the next time the first episode rolled around I came back. And was intrigued. And watched some more, and then got completely hooked.

Before Star Blazers, the only anime (back then it was known as Japanimation) I'd seen was Astroboy, Kimba the White Lion, and Speed Racer. None of them was very "deep." Yet here was a series about a young crew who participated in what was a nearly hopeless mission against severe odds, and they perservered and matured and fell in love or formed fast friendships and discovered wonders they didn't know existed. It was mind-blowing. And if you can develop a crush on an animated character, I did. Not the lead, of course; I never did that. No, it was on his quiet yet determined best friend, the "driver" of the spaceship "Argo," Mark Venture, who was my special guy.

When Star Blazers came to American television, it was intended for kids. American "suits" still didn't understand that Japanese "cartoons" came in all flavors, from material for children to material for adults. Space Battleship Yamato was an adult show, but Star Wars was still setting new records at the box office a year later and they figured an animated show about a crew of earnest Earthlings fighting dastardly aliens would be a sure thing for kids. So Star Blazers was expurgated for television—there were still big space battles, but blood wasn't shown, death was cut to a minimum (in several cases we got "oh, so-and-so got out just before the bomb exploded" line when in the original the person died), but amazingly the characterizations were left intact! So Susumu Kodai (Derek Wildstar) still went from a callow youth to an experienced deputy commander, his (mostly) good-natured rivalry with Daisuke Shima (Mark Venture) was part of the plot, and later his growing love for nurse and weapons officer Yuki Mori (Nova Forrester) remained. It was a revelation.

I still love the original version, but the new versions, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 and Space Battleship Yamato 2202, are marvels of their own. The new animation is stunning. The story has even more depth than before, with the storyline tweaked slightly, and there are (finally) more female characters within the crew. Yuki (Nova) is no longer the only focus; there's a weapons officer, a scientific advisor, a pilot, a nurse, and even what you might call a morale officer (all female), not to mention a supposed female ghost who "haunts" the ship's drive, involved in the story. The characters have more depth, and, like the new version of Battlestar Galactica, there are several "dark motives" going on under the surface. Even the enemy Gamilas (Gamilons) are more complicated: they're shown to have families, children, even deceased children that they mourn for. Starsha of Iscandar also has new tweaks in the 2199 storyline.

The only thing that bothers me about the 2199 story is that by allowing Kodai (Wildstar) bond with the female Cosmo pilot Yamamoto (they were both orphans), there was very little of the Kodai/Shima (Wildstar/Venture) friendship and competition in the story as in the original. Shima had his own arc in the mutiny subplot, but you got very little of the other best friends (occasional antagonists) initial plotline, and I did like the friendship there.

The rest of the weekend was devoted to errands—James finally got through to Kaiser's teeny brains that he was out of pregabalin, and we got to pick it up Thursday, along with going to Publix and Nam Dae Mun; Friday while James was at physical therapy I picked myself up a thimble at Hobby Lobby and food for Mr. Snow at Petsmart (where I met a sweet pit bull named "Nala" and her buddy the pit bull puppy), and then we had lunch at Okinawa on Dallas Highway.

Saturday morning we went to Hair Day, and that was nice. We had cheese and crackers, fruit and mini-muffins, and two home-made frittata dishes to snack on, and talked and talked, until it was time for James' Zoom club meeting. This meant it was my chance to vacuum...didn't do it last week and I emptied four canisters of mainly dog hair!

The only problem with this week was that the pad thai I had at Okinawa on Friday was spicy. Not pepper, not curry James said, so probably ginger. I still ate it, and my heart was fluttery all afternoon, but only after I ate some cherries. So I can't figure if it was the spice, the cherries (???), or just the heat, because after lunch we had stopped at Hallmark. I was seriously afraid I would have to go to urgent care because my pulse was 80-84 just sitting on the sofa no matter how I tried to relax. I finally took my heart medication and that took two hours to kick in. Wondering if my acid reflux is getting worse and triggering the rapid heartbeat.

The one thing we did not do this weekend was attend the Hallmark Ornament Premiere on Saturday. We simply didn't have time before Hair Day and after James' meeting it was too damn hot—almost 90℉. The ornaments were on display Friday afternoon at Hallmark, but unless you were a member of the Ornament Club, you couldn't buy them until Friday night. Since I really only want one thing (the Lord a'leaping for the Twelve Days of Christmas set) and James really only wants one thing (this year's airplane), we just hope someone still has them next week!

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» Saturday, July 04, 2020
The Case of the Terrified Terrier

Ah, well, the tide has turned. James is going back to 40 hours next week. We have been thankful for unemployment payments for filling in the gaps.

For now, however, we needed to stock the fridge while we have the funds, so part of the weekend was darting from grocery store to grocery store, Wednesday it was Lidl for French bread, cheese rolls, and eggs (and we found a nice steak to grill for Independence Day), Publix for the recent dearth of BOGO items and more whole wheat bread, Kroger for milk and low-salt mushrooms. Thursday we went to Patak's [the butcher] for cheap meats; the man behind us had a full cart and told me he was stocking up for a big cookout for his friends. We had lunch after shopping, and then went up to the Barnes & Noble on Dallas Highway. Damn, it looks like a toy store in there: rows and rows of games, stuffed animals, puzzles, and a bunch of other crap. If I wanted to go to Toys'r'Us, I would have shopped there previously. You are a bookstore: add more books!

On Friday we had to make a stop at Publix to pick up stuff we forgot (we always forget something). Then we could finally relax, pick up some lunch from Dragon 168, and come home and eat in the cool. Didn't do much more than shelve some books for the rest of the day, and we watched some Perry Mason.

Independence Day was a lazy day. James grilled the nice sirloin tip steak from Lidl (marinated in Island Soyaki from Trader Joe's), and we had it with tater tots, onion rings, and corn on the cob, with double chocolate gelato for dessert. We watched 1776 as always and mostly I read until it was time for the Boston Pops concert. They showed clips from previous shows, plus some new segments filmed with orchestra members playing from home and carefully edited together to sound as if they were playing together on stage. The fireworks were too short. 😁

We were trying to keep things low-key because Tucker has been becoming more and more nervous all week. When we first adopted him he was wary about fireworks, but after the first year he started to freak out more and more. He's now at the point where fireworks render him nearly powerless. He sits between James' feet or under my feet, trembling in every limb, to the point where his ears are vibrating, his jaws wet from drool. To take him out before bedtime, I have to lead him down the stairs and manipulate him into his harness, and coax him along, just to get him to pee.

Last weekend we bought him a Thundershirt, which we have avoided in the past because they were just so expensive and no one could promise it would work, and it has ended up working pretty well. At the beginning of the week, when there were just firecrackers and little poppers, it definitely improved his mood. He trotted up the sidewalk as if he owned it, just as always. Alas, on Friday and Saturday, things were still dicey. Friday night even with the shirt Tucker was still trembling, although I did get him outside for a little bit. They have relaxed the fireworks permits here in the last couple of years so that they can sell bigger and louder fireworks, including Roman candles. Well, the folks off the main street sure went for the big ones. There would have been a great sky show to enjoy if poor Tucker wasn't so miserable. Saturday I took him out before dark, so it went better, but during the evening he was wedged firmly between either James or I.

So I guess it has worked adequately, but no, it hasn't solved the entire problem. Poor Tucker will just have to go on believing he's being shot at.

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» Saturday, June 27, 2020
Medical Probes and Dashed Plans

It's been a very quiet week except for Friday, and that was just a long day. We had to do the usual shopping on Wednesday, and James had physical therapy then as well. Thursday we both had to pick up prescriptions at Kaiser and I had a blood test so they would renew one of my prescriptions, plus we went to Costco for trash bags, popcorn, and mandarin orange cups. The highlight of the day was going to JoAnn, which is having a moving sale (their new Kennesaw store opens mid-July). James scored eight tiny bottles of Testor's enamel. I got mostly "to do" and "remember" stickers for my journal, a few autumn-themed iron-on patches, and three more rolls of Scotch tape, since there is no such thing as too much Scotch tape. 😃

Tonight we went to Fried Tomato Buffet for the first time in months. We found out they were open when James stopped by Hobbytown on Thursday to get some paint. They have changed it so you are served like at a cafeteria instead of picking your own food. I made the server laugh. "What would you like?" "Barbecue ribs. I want the ribs. Lots of ribs." She piled about seven in my plate. "What else?" "Nothing. I came for the ribs." 😉 (I did get some black olives, too!) I was pleased with their solution to the problems. All staff were wearing masks and gloves. Instead of going around the bar, you stand on one side, behind plastic barriers, and tell the lady on the other side what you wish on your plate. You walk down the bar and pick things, and she hands the plate to you at the end of the bar. There's a separate line for the salad bar. The server puts your drink on the table and then steps backward.

(We didn't take the power chair, and a good thing: as we got closer and closer to the restaurant—we went when dinner started, at four o'clock, because we knew the tables would be limited—the sky got darker and darker, and then it started to mist, and as we turned on to Greer's Chapel Road the wind picked up and snapped something on a light pole next to us. The bang made us jump! By the time we arrived at Fried Tomato, the wind was whipping the rain into a frenzy, but, oddly, it wasn't raining all that hard; we hardly got damp. Usually when it starts to storm like this the rain comes down in sheets, what I call "Georgia Monsoon Season.")

Friday was our "adventure." Unfortunately it was a truncated adventure. Originally, since we had to go to Kaiser's Southwood office for James' urology exam, and that was practically halfway to his mother's house, we had planned to finally deliver his mother's and his sister's Christmas gifts, Candy's birthday gift, and the Mother's Day gift, all excursions that had been put off due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and treat them to lunch. Candy has also had some health problems lately not associated with COVID (an infection in her foot) and been back and forth to doctors, had her foot in a cast, etc., and we wanted to see her. We planned to get things done at the doctor, then drive down to Warner Robins, go out for lunch, and come home after rush hour was over. But we got a message from Candy on Tuesday asking us not to come; she wasn't feeling well again and didn't want to spread any creeping crud.

So we went off to Southwood via the freeway. I swear that since the shutdown people are driving even crazier than before. You have your heart in your mouth half the trip.

The appointment took a little longer than expected. Dr. Starr wanted to go over James' recent CT scan with him. He showed us the kidney stone (very small, seemingly attached to the kidney wall), the little gallstones, and the lipoma. He does not believe either of the stones is causing the chronic UTI, but, if it does turn out the kidney stone is responsible, it would need to come out. He also checked to see if James was properly emptying his bladder, and did some other exams. James also had an x-ray; the doctor wanted to get a shot of the kidney stone so he could monitor it to see if it was getting larger. Unfortunately it didn't show up on the x-ray.

When we finally got done with all this, we headed back, stopping at Krystal for lunch. Traffic on I-285 was just as bad as on the way back. What fun.

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» Saturday, June 20, 2020
And More Medical Chat...And Friends! And Books!

James had a CAT scan scheduled at the Glenlake Kaiser office on Wednesday morning, to try and diagnose what is causing his chronic UT infections. Another dreary visit for him to the doctor. Hoping to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, I suggested I go with him. If they wouldn't let me go in (they said they wouldn't), I could wait outside on the bench outside the entrance in the shade and read; they told him the CAT scan would only take about ten minutes, and then he had to pick up a prescription which was already ordered. I had a double protein at Tin Drum, so then we could drive by, pick up lunch, maybe even stop at the Barnes & Noble not a half mile from the restaurant before driving home. James likes going to that store because they have the best magazine selection.

Alas, not to be. At ten o'clock James realized his appointment was for 10:20, not 11:20 as he thought, and he had at least a half hour drive to get there. He threw his clothes on and grabbed his wallet while I backed out the truck and loaded the power chair, and then while he drove to Kaiser—Tucker hadn't been walked yet, so I couldn't go—I tried to get ahold of someone at Kaiser to tell them he would be late. I was so nerved up I accidentally hung up on the first person I talked to, but got a much more sympathetic second person, but they couldn't say whether radiology could still fit him in.

They managed it, and he got in for the scan about a half hour later, he went to the lab, he picked up the prescription, and he went past Tin Drum and picked up our lunches, so everything got done, but I was bitterly disappointed. I had planned on us having a nice chat on the way there, enjoying each other's company, and instead I got stuck home when I really wanted to see something other than four walls or another damn supermarket.

(The scan showed some interesting items: James has a few small kidney stones [not blocking anything], a few small gallstones [ditto], and a benign lipoma in the muscles of his right hip, which explains why he can't sleep on his right side without pain. But nothing to explain the chronic UTIs.)

While he was out, I called up Kaiser again about the emergency room bill from last July that Wellstar keeps sending us. We are only supposed to pay our deductible whether we go to a provider emergency room or an out-of-plan one, but Wellstar insists we still owe them over $1200! I'd already called about this in January and again in March, and they assured me they'd take care of it, and we did not owe anyone anything. This time I spoke to a nice lady named Betty who assured me she'd get the problem sorted [later: she did] and that she would also correct the overcharge we got from the company that makes James' orthopedic shoes.

Thursday I got my chance to pay a call on Kaiser; yes, we had to pick up yet another prescription. They wouldn't let me go in, so I indeed got stuck outside, in the heat, on the bench (this one not in the shade). James' urologist consulted another specialist, who said it was okay for him to take Ciproflaxen for a short time; that using it just for a week should not damage his heart, so he got that to take home. It was also time to go to the supermarket again.

James has been wanting chicken and dumplings for a while now, but no one serves them any longer—"Folks" has closed and the only fast food chicken place that made them closed; we discovered just recently they still serve them at Vittles down the street. So while we were at Barnes & Noble after our pharmacy trip, he called them to get an order to pick up. We won't do that again. There was little chicken in the meal and what there was was dry and stringy. It was mostly dumpling. The sauce made me sick all evening.

Friday we had a much better meal—we went out to lunch at O'Charley's with Alice, Ken, Mel, Phyllis, and Juanita. We hadn't seen Juanita to actually talk to her since March! She was just getting over poison ivy she'd contracted cleaning the yard. Discussed all sorts of things including whether DragonCon will be held or not, and if they will roll over memberships [later: yes, they have decided they will, and we are going to do it, whether it's held or not—we can't risk it], television, books we are reading (Alice is getting into reading about Chinese culture after seeing the film of and then reading Crazy Rich Asians), and of course all our doctors' appointments!

Saturday was pure relaxation: while I tidied up some things and vacuumed, mostly what I did was read the copy of The Annotated Black Beauty that I got out of a box of books John and Oreta were giving away on New Year's Eve. (Boy, if I'd known then what I know now, I'd sure have more disinfecting supplies in the house!) The graphic drawings of how a "bearing rein" (a device to hold the horse's head up in place while he's in harness) harms and torments a horse really brought it home how brutally some horses were treated in the 19th century.

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» Saturday, June 13, 2020
Sweet and Sour

An uneventful weekend, for which I'm heartily grateful. The big event of the four days was James' appointment at the Shepherd Center to get evaluated for a new power chair. We are supposed to be able to order a new one every five or six years, and it is six years in November. We are hoping they will let us have a new one, as one of the two motors is leaking oil and will need to be replaced, and it is best to replace both motors at the same time. The wheels also have dry rot or the rubber is chipped. Plus it's all banged up from the car accident where it was thrown across Olive Springs Road. Anyway, we'll see. Apparently Kaiser is now using different rules to approve them and has been turning requests for them down. If not we will have to just have this one fixed up. We tried to emphasize that without it James cannot go to work or really go anywhere—even the Glenlake Kaiser office!—that doesn't already have carts, like a supermarket or Walmart or Costco, and the technician must see how little James can move, because she tried to get him to walk in the hallway for six minutes, and he could barely manage two.

On Friday I got a shock. My old bank branch closed and I needed to re-establish my safe deposit box at the new bank built next door. Well, while James was at physical therapy, I went over to the bank to do that because the sign said "NOW OPEN." What it failed to say was "Open by appointment only." Whoever heard of an appointment to go to the bank? There weren't two people inside the building and they still wouldn't see me. Plus the bank employee asked for my name and telephone number to call me back, and never did. If I didn't have that stupid Access3 loan, I'd pull all my money out of the bank and set up a credit union account instead.

In better news, I found the wonderful farm which makes the sweet onion relish I love was now shipping their products without a charge. I ordered more of the sweet onion plus a spicy version for James, and the new bottles arrived on Friday.

Plus I have finally washed the winter things to put them away. Just about one month behind.

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» Saturday, June 06, 2020
Happiness is Friends
Another week, another visit to Urgent Care on Tuesday with James having signs of an urinary tract infection. Of course they wouldn't let me into Urgent Care, but I requested to go in to use the bathroom—I was feeling poorly myself—and after that I just tried to blend into the woodwork. Another guy was doing the same thing; we both just sat there and minded our own business. James was only there an hour and a half because he'd talked to the doctor beforehand and they were waiting for him. We picked up his antibiotic and went home.

Nothing much else going on for the week except that we watched a "Murdoch Mysteries" Christmas story, the first of them, A Merry Murdoch Christmas, which hit all the Christmas tropes: orphans, stolen gifts, some Christmas grinches (one of which was Inspector Brackenreid). It also involved what Quantum Leap called "a kiss with history" in featuring a young Mary Pickford (she did come from Toronto, but she was known as Gladys Smith back then), and also involved the European Christmas demon, Krampus. I had no idea Krampus was a tradition in Yorkshire, where Brackenreid is from. Oh, and we finally watched The Rise of Skywalker. Don't know what all the fuss was about: Star Wars was always intended as a flashback to the movie serials of the 1930s. Fans seem to expect it to be complicated and with depth. It's just supposed to be fun. Wish the script had allowed the viewer to pause for breath, and wish we'd seen more of Rose Tico instead of them making up a new female character, but I did love the final scene on Tatooine.

The best thing about this week was having Hair Day! We didn't have any lunch this time, people just brought snacks, in case everyone just wanted to come and go, but no one wanted to go. We sat around talking about books until almost two in the afternoon. John and Oreta had brought two big boxes of books they were getting rid of, and gave me two old series books. I also picked up a Mrs. Pollifax book and picked up about three books I thought James would be interested in.

It was so nice to have intelligent conversation in person after so many weeks.

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» Saturday, May 30, 2020
The Beautiful and the Sordid
Wednesday an official milestone was reached: 100,000 people in the United States had died of COVID-19.

And Wednesday we had another trip to Kaiser: James had to pick up the latest prescription for his UTI (now he has a fungal infection) and decided just to reorder a big batch of prescriptions as well. From there we went to Publix. We were actually thinking of going to Barnes & Noble, but instead we came home and I was glad of it, because (guess what) the heat was once again doing a number on my lower GI. We wanted to watch the SpaceX launch anyway: this is their first mission carrying human beings, two astronauts who are traveling to the International Space Station. And the launch is from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, where we went to the moon. Mission Control was alive once again. Alas, afternoon Florida weather struck: there was a chance of lightning and a tornado warning. Evidently they did not want a replay of the Apollo 12, where the whole spacecraft was hit by lightning. Twice. They have another launch window on Saturday.

Thursday we had to go back to Kaiser, because while he got all his refills they never gave him the new prescription! Sigh. From there we did a turn around Lidl, then I ran into Kroger for no-salt mushrooms and low-sodium Pringles. We had to hurry home, because James had his first physical therapy appointment for his back that afternoon. While he was out, I decided to tool out to the Office Max on Thornton Road because I thought it was high time I made sure I had a refill for my Sheaffer pen that I use in my journal, and that store was the closest one that had any (there were supposedly three in stock). Well, when I got there, there were none on the rack. Between a very nice salesperson and the manager, they found me the last, lone one, but the package was broken open. They gave it to me for fifty cents.

On the way home I stopped at a Big Lots and found more big rolls of Bounty, plus the oversize bottle of Suave shampoo I was looking for. And Home Depot had triple-taps; I got both a polarized one and two non-polarized ones. After shifting around a few things when I got home, we should have enough spares now.

And Friday we had lunch out with friends! Gathered with Alice, Ken, and Aubrey at O'Charley's, where we got seated in a corner near the bar. The waitress brought your stuff and put it on a tray behind you, and you picked it up yourself, for minimal contact. It worked out well, and my steak, baked potato, and green salad was dandy.

And then we did go to Barnes & Noble, which was both refreshing and disappointing. They have rearranged the entire store, with all the fiction now downstairs. I like the new layout, but I think if possible they may have fewer books in the store! So tired of all the dumb toys and stuffed animals and junk. I don't mind book-related toys so much, like Harry Potter wands and stuffed owls, and the like, because at least they have a connection with books, and learning toys, but building toys and dolls and stuffed animals are just annoying. Since I complained so mightily to them on Facebook, I decided I had to buy something: I found Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America, about the vice-presidents who succeeded to the presidency due to death (assassination or otherwise).

We still got home very early; I watched three episodes of Longmire and then, to lure James away from the computer, found Strategic Air Command on Amazon Prime. It worked, too!

Saturday morning I hurried downstairs to finally vacuum the library and then get the main area done, because we would spend late morning and most of the afternoon watching the SpaceX launch. It went flawlessly, even though there was a better chance of rain today and they went almost down to the wire on a weather scrub. But the clouds cleared and the Falcon rocket rose like a dream and lifted the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. It's so nice to see space coverage again! And I loved seeing the excitement of the younger people, including the two astronauts on the NASA coverage and drawings sent in by boys and girls inspired by exploration.

Alan Siler had also arranged to have a virtual WHOlanta on Facebook. I got to the correct group late, and then was always a little behind, so I only saw a bit of the Doctor Who music discussion and a little more of Sophie Aldred, but did see all of Colin Baker. It was a great idea, but I was too distracted by the SpaceX mission to give it my proper attention.

It was almost an antidote for what was going on downtown. People are protesting, and rightly, too, over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in south Georgia. The George Floyd death is particular nasty—the police officer had him pinned to the ground by putting a knee on his neck for eight minutes, effectively smothering the poor man while three other officers did nothing to stop him. The video of this is absolutely hideous and painful to watch. Arbery was shot earlier this year because two self-appointed neighborhood vigilantes thought this guy jogging through their neighborhood "might be" a burglar who had struck back in December and chased him down. He turned around and tried to fight them off—of course he did! what would you do if you were jogging and two crazy men suddenly started attacking you?—and they shot him (but haven't been arrested for it until now). But of course in a group of perfectly justified protestors there are always people who spoil it for everyone else: suddenly there are figures running amok setting fire to buildings and police cars, and then looting stores. Most of the stores wrecked and looted were owned by people of color, so who was actually harmed? An African-American police officer was deliberately hit and seriously injured as well, by someone on an ATV. Plus an AT&T store was looted. Because nothing says respect for the death of an innocent man like busting windows and stealing cell phones! Atlanta's mayor was furious and told them to go home and quit disrespecting George Floyd's death.

I am having 1968 flashbacks. I was twelve in 1968. Via the news I saw Dr. Martin Luther King shot. I saw Bobby Kennedy shot. I saw riots at both the Democratic and Republican conventions. I saw police turn fire hoses and tear gas and German Shepherds on Vietnam protesters and Civil Rights marchers. I saw Watts burn. And I thought people would know better and be better when I was an adult. And we're still doing this effing racist shit. As if the color of your skin has anything to do with what kind of person you are! Madness! Revolting! Sickening! This isn't 1820, or even 1920! It's the 21st century and why are we still falling for this fake crap about "superior racial groups"?

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» Monday, May 25, 2020
From Victory to Defeat
I got a wild hare to make barbecue ribs for Memorial Day. James had to work, but we had a rack of ribs from an old Publix BOGO in the freezer and plenty of barbecue sauce. So I went online and hunted up a recipe.

In general I was pleased. The ribs themselves were very meaty and were juicy, but they were also very stale. I could taste that "plastic" taste that gets into stale food these days. Also, I have to remind myself that ribs cooked on low (275℉) are not pork chops; even thought they are at proper temperature (160℉), they are not "done" enough to be falling-off-the-bone tender.

On the other hand, cooking them in the bottom oven was brilliant. It did smashingly; the ribs just needed another hour to be tender off the bone. Finishing them off at 400℉ in the top oven also worked (but ten minutes was too long; five would have been enough). My basting sauce, a combination of Smack Yo Mama Big Kahuna and Sweet Georgia Brown, and my final sauce, maple barbecue with smoky bacon maple syrup, was great, too.

Next time, fresh ribs and longer oven time.

We also had fresh sweet corn to go with the ribs, and they were almost better!

And then today I went downstairs to do laundry and found one of my precious jars of Panorama Orchards (from Ellijay, GA) blackberry spread on the floor of the laundry room. It must have come unbalanced after I had to deal with a leaking cup of applesauce and fallen during the night. So I had to sweep up the glass, take up the broken jar (the mass of preserves which at least remained intact, it being so thick), sweep the floor, then vacuum the floor, then wipe up what little bit of sticky was there, all before I could start the clothes.


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» Saturday, May 23, 2020
This Week In Heat
Well, crap, summer has struck. On Monday all I did was go to Lidl, then I stopped at both Office Max and Lowes looking for USB plugs (you know, the kind of electrical plug you plug a USB cord in to charge something—flummoxed last week when I was also looking for them because no one seemed to understand what I wanted!) and the guy at Lowes didn't understand either. Thank goodness I found some at Office Max! Anyway, it was hot and disgusting-smelling and then the summer inevitable happened, and I was sick for the rest of the afternoon from the heat. Ended up crawling in the spare room and sleeping for over two hours. We had such a nice spring and now it's in the 80s. Having to wear a face mask exacerbates the effect. I had no problems with it while it was chilly or in the 60s. Now that it's 70s and 80s I don't feel as if I'm getting any air with it clapped on my face like an Alien and sweat collects in the mask.

We had a busy four days off, mostly grocery shopping. Wednesday it was BOGOs at Publix, then we drove out to Trader Joe's and stocked up on James' bedtime tea, their yummy orange chicken [Later: good thing we bought it, too...], chicken sausage, fruit bars for James (Lidl has some that he says are acceptable, but he prefers TJ's), and of course one dark-chocolate covered Biscoff bar as a treat. And I finally found vegetable broth!  Thursday's grocery odyssey it was Kroger, where we were able to get the low-salt items Publix didn't have. Then we took a giant step and ate our first meal in a restaurant since March 21: went to Ken's Grill. Everyone wore masks, tables were cleaned again before we sat down, waitress placed food at the edge of the table—we scrunched over as far as we could on the table so not to breathe on her. Met Jesse Medina coming in to get some takeout, so it was nice to talk to someone else in the group! And...pork chops! I love their pork chops!

For dessert we went to Hobby Lobby and then had Baskin-Robbins cones for the first time in what seemed like forever.

Back to Kaiser on Friday for James to have another test, then he asked me what I wanted for lunch. Well, I had an extra protein at Tin Drum; the Akers Mill location is still closed, so we went to the closest one, on Roswell Road. It was horrible in there: they have redone the place in an industrial decorating pattern with the tall ceiling and the pipes and vents above, and with the cashier next to the chefs cooking, you can barely hear anything, and try bellowing through the stupid mask!

On the way home we stopped at Micro Center. I walked out with nothing because they don't sell Blu-Ray cases any longer. Damn.

Saturday I trimmed the bushes out front while it was still shady and that was about it.

What else? My checkup got cancelled. Again. [Later: There's a reason for that, chaps...]

But I found out Barnes & Noble was re-opening tomorrow. Cool!

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» Saturday, May 16, 2020
Tilting at Medical Windmills
On Sunday morning, James was showing signs that his UTI from April (see April 21 entry) had returned, and come back worse than ever. He drank as much as he could, and was doing quite well until Sunday evening, when he started running a fever. James shot off a note to his urologist after he finished with work.

Sunday night and into Monday we became even more worried: his urine output had halved despite the fact he was drinking more water, and he gained five pounds overnight. At noon we drove to Kaiser so he could take a urine test as the urologist had ordered. He worked the rest of the day, but was feeling worse every hour. At dinner time, we decided we had to fish or cut bait. So we had dinner, waffled a bit, then about 9:30 we took our nightly showers, got into fresh clothes, put Tucker and Snowy to bed, and drove to Urgent Care. Of course I packed snacks and things to do, and a good thing I separated the snacks into "his" and "hers" bags, because they took him back and left me to cool my heels in the car from eleven p.m. through 4:30 a.m. (I did expect this, but it was still annoying.) I tried to sleep, but Butch's seats are damn uncomfortable even with a back support and extra cushion; I still had the car blanket and that kept me warm, as it got down into the 40s, but Fred the traveling pillow has long been relegated to the spare room. Instead I used a crescent-shaped travel pillow, which would have worked if I wasn't so distracted: twice I had to pee, several times cars drove up with people dropped off at Urgent Care, I kept losing things in the front seat (like my glasses and my phone), James and I were texting each other, and at three a.m. a mockingbird started singing in the parking lot. Eventually I just pulled out my tablet and started to read.

James spent a miserable five and a half hours being prodded, stabbed, scanned, and other diagnostic miseries. They took blood and urine, scanned his bladder (they said he is emptying properly, so we worried about his kidneys seemingly needlessly), and also revealed he has a hernia. I wasn't in the treatment room with him to turn out the lights between pokes and prods, so he had to lie the whole time with the Nazi-interrogation-fluorescent lights in his eyes. In a way, even in Butch's non-ergonomic seat, I had a more comfortable place to perch. I was even almost warm enough, especially when I doubled up the blanket.

So, it turns out the UTI du jour is e.coli, and he's also anemic. They gave him two bags of antibiotic intravenously. When he emerged we were both so tired it needed all four of our eyes to get us home, but thankfully, since we'd showered before we left, we could just get undressed and go straight to bed. We slept till eleven and then James tried to work, but he was still feverish and after two hours could not read the teeny-tiny type on his computer screen. Then he gave up.

Of course the doctor put him on an antibiotic, but even that caused a problem. James made it clear to both the Urgent Care doctor and the nurse who was assigned to him that he could not take Ciproflaxin because of its interaction with hydrochloroquine. And guess what we came home with a prescription for! So we had to call them back and get something else that would not affect him. They finally decided on amoxicillin clavulanate, which, of course, we had to go pick up. What fun.

His fever didn't break until Wednesday, although it went off and on up and down to 99 point whatever for a few days. But between the fever and the anemia he's been feeling rotten and his temper has ebbed and flowed. All we did on Thursday was go to Publix and that wiped him out, and he was really upset about it. You see, even after two heart attacks he's still not used to being sick for any extended period of time. James' way of "being sick" used to be him coming home early from work or fading in the middle of an afternoon with "I'm cold" (even in 90 degree weather), going to bed early, calling in sick the next day and spending the morning in bed to drag downstairs about noon to eat soup and stare dully at the television. At night he'd feel better, go to bed, and go back to work the next day, all well.

It didn't help that his arthritis has been acting up and his back has been very painful. He finally had me put on the cream the rheumatologist prescribed, and that did help, thank goodness!

He did feel a little better on Friday, when we hosted a "socially distanced" picnic in the garage. I went out there in the morning, measured the garage, and marked safe distances out in chalk with a tape measure after backing the vehicles out. Aubrey had to work, and Juanita had something come up, and Mel and Phyllis had a medical appointment, but Alice and Ken were able to come and that was nice, to be able to chat in person! Of course I made sure the downstairs bath was nice and tidy, and stuck a sign on the toilet that said "Sanitized for your protection by the Sheldon Cooper Cleaning Co., Ltd" as a joke.

We ended up going to Dragon for our weekly eat-out meal out again; since they've been closed over a month I want to give them as much business as I can. I tried the barbecue ribs and they were excellent and meaty, but they have to be saved for a treat—much too rich.

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» Saturday, May 09, 2020
The Tweaks of Life

Well, Wednesday we had a definite pause. We had gone to Lidl and then to Publix, and James seemed a little "off." He seemed very drowsy. Well, when we came home, I checked out his meds and was horrified. I had sorted the day pills into the evening slots and vice versa. He probably hadn't noticed since Sunday! So he'd taken an Ambien this morning. Needless to say, the rest of the day was shot.

Thursday we were all much more awake, and did the trip to Patak's we had put off yesterday because the line was so long and we had perishables in the car. They were out of pastrami, to James' dismay, but we got Italian sausage, stew beef, breakfast sausage, and some mortadella. To our absolute surprise, three EMTs walked in, not one of them wearing masks! You would think health workers would know better! Before we came home, we bought gasoline at Costco before the price goes back up.

Friday it rained most of the day and nowhere to go anyway. We made the best of it: James got Mexico Lindo food for lunch, I got chicken chow mein and pork fried rice from Dragon 168, and we had an afternoon matinee: Apollo 13 and Twister (I guess I was in a Bill Paxton mood). Plus I finished reviewing the books I read in April.

Ah, Saturday, started when I took Tucker for a walk. We'd crossed the street and were walking past Timber Creek's property, and I was slightly woolgathering, musing on what to do that day. Perhaps I'd do "bothers"—go into a room, find something that bothers me, and fix it. And then I noticed the big plant Tucker was cozying up to and then peeing on had "leaflets three." (Not sure of today, but kids in New England in my day were brought up the rhyme on "leaflets three, let it be.") I kept him at a distance for the rest of the walk, then once home tied him on the front porch, stuck my head in the front door and yelled up the stairs to James, "Google what poison ivy looks like, willya?" So he did.

Unfortunately I couldn't positively identify the photos that were on the computer screen as the same plant Tucker had given the close encounter to, but I couldn't swear it wasn't poison ivy, either, so, guess what: pulled on a pair of rubber gloves, dumped the dog in the bathtub, and gave him another bath, his second since Monday. Gah. Of course I had to wash his bedding and the towels, too. He wasn't happy, and neither was I.

Good thing I had nothing planned at all. I only ended up doing one "bother" after all.

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» Saturday, May 02, 2020
The Outside World

We actually did something amazing on this long, long weekend still in effect: we went places that weren't supermarkets, buying clubs, or a doctor's office. And we did it safely, too.

As usual, on Wednesday we went to Publix (there I am, going the wrong way up an aisle again) and Lidl, early enough that we found everything we needed. But we also stopped at Walmart; while James did get sugarless candy for himself, mainly we went there to get him more sleep shorts. We thought about ordering them, but wanted to look at what was available and what material they were made from. I don't know names of material from Adam; I just know I hate jersey. And even when I looked up men's sleep shorts on Walmart's site, I kept getting directed to items that were fleece. Fleece shorts? Seriously?

So we masked and I carried my trusty squirt bottle of isopropyl alcohol and some folded-up paper towels, and I liberally sprayed and/or wiped the cart and the self-checkout machine. The fabric department was completely out of cloth; lots of mask-makers have gone through here. Bet you can't find bandanas at JoAnn right now, either.

That was enough for a Wednesday; on Thursday, another novelty: James had his hair cut! (His hasn't been cut since February. I've been trimming it, and was told I did a good job, and James has his beard trimmer, but he was still looking like a sheepdog.) His stylist was taking one appointment at the time, cleaning and wiping down between cuts, which were scheduled at one an hour. We also got to see friends leaving there (within social distance, of course) and waved at friends arriving (we all use the same stylist, and this day had been arranged). On the way home we made a call and—calloo! callay!—our favorite Chinese restaurant, Dragon 168, had reopened! They're a real hole-in-the-wall place anyway, and you don't really go in there to sit inside and eat, although you can, there are tables and chairs, but they have fashioned a plywood pass-through structure that fits into their door. You call in your order with your credit card number, and they give you a number—we were number one on Thursday! number two showed up as James was waiting—and then you get your order through the pass-through.

Before we went home to eat, we gassed up the Kia at Costco because it was $1.299!

Friday we had a real treat: talking to live friends in an outdoor setting! Alice had scoped out Heritage Park, which had a pavilion with picnic tables. She and Ken and Aubrey had showed up early to wipe down a picnic table (they were still covered in pine pollen from the park having been closed for six weeks) with disinfectant, and we sat in chairs at one long end of the picnic table, and they sat in chairs on the other end, six feet apart and sitting so that neither group was downwind from the other. We had a nice lunch and a nice chat, and I think it only broke up because all of us needed to use the restroom (the park facilities were still closed though the park was open, and the trash cans had not been maintained).

Saturday we decided to go out and see if we could see the tribute flyover the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels were doing for the healthcare workers. The flight plan was published on Facebook, and it looked like it was going right down highway 41 or I-75. We picked up lunch, then went to a couple of places before settling in at Akers Mill shopping center. (Alice and Ken went to the parking lot near the closed AMC theatre and they got some nice shots, but it was too crowded; in retrospect, the way the flight came in, we should have stayed in Barnes & Noble's parking lot, as we could have seen from the top of the whole hill.) The planes came in from a totally unexpected angle so we were just able to gape as they zoomed over.

On the other hand, everyone we saw at Akers Mill was pretty cool about social distancing. Cars parked in every other parking space and many people wore masks. We were sitting in the shade in front of a closed restaurant and no one was near us. We saw footage on the news later on about people crowding together on overpasses to see the planes and were glad we didn't go there, although the overpass over I-75 near the Monstrosity (Truist Park) would have been the best viewing spot of all.

Best of all we discovered Hobby Lobby was back open, so we put on our masks and went in, mostly to use the restroom, but just to look at something different. We stayed away from other people and when we got home quarantined our few small purchases in the library until next weekend.

We also finished watching both seasons of Star Trek: Discovery (yes, second season was a big improvement; my favorite characters are still Sylvia Tilly, who manages to put her foot in her mouth more than I do, and Jett Reno, the engineer with attitude) and Star Trek: Picard, plus all the behind-the-scenes "Ready Room" shows on both series. I'm about Star Trek'd out for a while! To my surprise, I found the most recent animated Lassie cartoon with the kids' programs. I managed to download all 26 English-language episodes from You Tube, as apparently the series was never shown here in the US, just in Canada, Europe, and parts of the Middle East, and figured they were just repeated here, but was gobsmacked to discover a 26-episode second season on CBS All Access instead, labeled as season one. This left me in a quandary: our free subscription would end on May fifth.

So I sat down Saturday after we got home from the flyover and binge-watched for five hours. (Later: and then I watched more between chores on Sunday and four final episodes on Monday and got through them all. I canceled on Tuesday as scheduled, since I couldn't see any reason for keeping it any longer. If I want to watch other Star Trek, it's on Netflix, and the other shows on CBS All Access I might be interested in (Perry Mason, I Love Lucy, Caroline in the City) are not intact. Oh, the episodes are uncut, but they don't show all the episodes in each season. If there are thirty episodes in a season, for instance, CBS All Access carries only fifteen or twenty of them. In addition, with Perry Mason they don't show any season six or nine episodes. What kind of a deal is that? Why say you "carry __________ series" and then not have every single episode of every single season?

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