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.


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» Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, JANUARY 17, 2017

Outside my window...
...mostly cloudy. I hope it stays that way. It's bad enough it's going to be in the 70s today. It's like it's April.

I am thinking...
...at this point I am just coasting. I'll save the thought for when I'm working.

I am thankful...
...that I am not sick today and can take down the Christmas tree at lunchtime and after work.

In the kitchen...
...there's a chicken thawing in the sink. I will cook some very plain chicken tonight. I've only had oatmeal, yogurt, and dry toast today.

I am wearing...
...Mutts blue pajamas and white socks.

I am creating...
...order. By this evening the "Christmas closet" will be all neat and tidy.

I am going...
...to get rid of some of the long Christmas hooks I had to buy to get short Christmas hooks. I don't need them.

I am wondering...
...when I should take another retirement class. They're really all the same, but Juanita said you should take a couple.

I am reading...
...Dickens' Fur Coat and Charlotte's Unanswered Letters, about prima donna Victorian writers.

I am hoping...
...for cooler weather soon. Having 70s in January is a drag. I don't want anymore eighteens, like we had a week or so ago, but 50s would be nice and 30s at night. I'm sleeping terribly because I always wake up being too warm.

I am looking forward to...
...Juanita's retirement dinner (given by her daughter) on Sunday and the RV show next weekend. We have free tickets. Next month is Anachrocon. At least I won't be having an allergic reaction to the shingles vaccine this year.

I am learning...
...I bought another book about watercolor painting. It was watercolors I used on my Advent wreath.

Around the house...
...the dog stands on the non-burning deck, Snowy's kind of quiet. I'm not playing "The Tech Guy" for him because the day goes by too quickly when I play Leo's shows. Don't want my telework days to go by quickly!

I am pondering...
...still buying a new stove. The old one is getting on my last nerve. At least it still cooks meat properly, but it nearly ruined my wine biscuits this year.

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

One of my favorite things...
...being all spic and span after taking up the holiday things. Sadly, it doesn't stay that way for long!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Work! Juanita's dinner.

A peek into my day...
How about a peek into something inspiring? So true!





















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

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» Monday, January 16, 2017
Roller Coaster Weekend

Well, it was a long weekend to remember, but, unfortunately, mostly for the wrong reasons.

Friday I continued a combination "de-Christmasing" of the house, putting up the winter decorations, and cleaning up for the party. I got everything packed up but the Christmas tree—it just wasn't going to happen and it was a postponed Twelfth Night party anyway, so we needed some appropriate decoration. Otherwise I had put up the winter decorations everywhere except on the room divider, because the Christmas tree was blocking the way.

Since we had to go to Sam's Club to get supplies, we tried to find somewhere to eat Friday supper nearby. The Marietta Diner was slammed. The Chinese buffet is too salty. Didn't want the halfhearted food at IHOP and fast food was out. We ended up at Williamson Brothers for barbecue (yeah, salty too), and then went to Sam's. Got honey barbecue wings and "Lil Smokies," but their mini-egg rolls were spicy, so we skipped them, but picked up chips and popcorn as well. Then we went by Publix to do the shopping and pick up another BOGO set of pot roasts. We were going to serve one of them at the party.

Saturday was Hair Day, so James zipped off to get his hair cut while I continued cleaning and clearing. There are so many books everywhere! :-) He came home when he got done to get the bowls down, the utensils, etc., help me move the table, and all that. We got done early enough that I could relax down for a little while and that James could be done with most of the warming up before the first guests arrived at five. Since Willow isn't around anymore, there is no Ritual Barking of the Dog, but all our dogs have known John and Betty are soft touches anyway. :-) We had a nice crowd—Bill and Caran even drove all the way here from Stone Mountain—and a good chat/feast/gift opening was had by all. We watched the Falcons beat some other team, which means they are one step closer to the Stupid Bowl, talked about commuting and Juanita's retirement, watched Aubrey find the pickle on the tree for the umpteenth time in a row (I didn't even remember where I'd put it this year), and generally enjoyed ourselves. Unfortunately my tummy was being a little touchy and I had to retire for a bit, ostensibly to walk the dog, but also to get me a little air.

Once the last guest had left around ten, we put up the perishables, stretched out for about an hour, then went to bed.

Took our time getting up Sunday and spent the rest of the end of the day mostly cleaning up, but we had a nice break in the early afternoon: we had to go up to the Town Center Kaiser for James to pick up more insulin, so we took the opportunity to stop at Barnes & Noble with our coupons. James got lucky and found a new "1632" book, and I picked up a book about a man who walks the old roads of Great Britain, plus two cross-stitch magazines. I also asked James to drop me at JoAnn to spend some coupons: needed more superglue since mine had gone stringy, bought a Command shelf for the bathroom, and a red bandanna for the truck since the old emergency one has appeared to have done a bunk (plus the new "Just Cross Stitch").

We had eaten lunch at Panera after going to Kaiser, and were still pretty full at suppertime, so we just potlucked it for dinner. I wasn't feeling hungry much and just had a PopTart and some cereal. I was okay up until after I walked Tucker at eight thirty, so I could be ready to watch the first part of Victoria at nine. Alas, about five minutes to nine, I started getting terrible stomach cramps.

I'll spare you the details, save that I saw very little of Victoria, not to mention my bed. Nothing stopped until nine in the morning, and by then I was exhausted. I had my usual breakfast yesterday and neither the PopTart nor the cereal should have bothered me; it had to be something I'd eaten at Panera. I suspect the cream cheese I had on my bagel. It didn't taste bad, but it's a likelier trigger than the soup. Anyway, I finally slept from nine to noon, then watched Victoria and, thanks to PBS and no thanks to Dish Network and its amazing disappearing channels, last week's Sherlock, which was literally mesmerizing—I couldn't take my eyes off the odious Culverton Smith, who had definite Jimmy Savile vibes. Just plain creepy. And then I went back to bed until James got home. I didn't eat much today, just dry toast and milk, and had plain chicken broth and rice for supper. I hope I feel better tomorrow; I never even got to the tree and feel like a bowl of boiled spaghetti.

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Flourish

» Sunday, January 08, 2017
No Funday

We slept in this morning and had a leisurely breakfast instead of finishing cleaning up after a party. It seemed very strange not having had the party last night and I felt rather disconnected. Plus James was not feeling quite well (not heartwise, but as if he might be coming down with a stomach bug).

We finally went out around 11:30 as he wanted to go to Nam Dae Mun for more Jamaican ginger tea. We also picked up more low sodium teriyaki sauce. The plan from there was for me to run into Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up something with an expiring coupon, then we would stop at Barnes & Noble for a short time, and finally go to Publix for twofers.

It wasn't to be; as we approached Akers Mill he started stomach cramping and feeling sick, so we turned for home where he could dose himself with Pepto Bismol. But I still needed to use the coupon and get the twofers, so I went out by myself and did both. I went to Publix first because it was so cold I didn't have to worry about anything perishable spoiling. Then I stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Texted James to see if he might be up to Tin Drum. He said the curry would be okay, so I brought stuff home and he ate and felt a little better. We watched Aerial America all afternoon.

James said he was sorry for spoiling my day, but what really spoiled my day was turning on GPB for Sherlock and finding out Dish Network was not getting the channel. GPB is too far away for our antenna to reach, so we got skunked. Grrr.

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» Saturday, January 07, 2017
Party Overthrown

After you've lived in Atlanta for years, you tend to view weather reports with cynicism. "Monster storms" turn into drizzle, snow becomes frost, "just some rain" coats the road with ice, and "a nice day" turns out to be a blistering 89.

So it was with a sense of exasperation we greeted the snowstorm reports that started on Sunday. We had our annual Twelfth Night party planned for tonight.

Instead of petering out like they usually do, though, the snowstorm reports got worse. James said we should just call it off, but I grimly hung on, knowing that the expected storm would just turn out to be a bust if I did. Yesterday I realized that if we did have the storm they predicted, we wouldn't be able to go shopping on Sunday, so I ran out to the grocery store early for milk, bread, and other things needed for the workweek.

Last night it started raining, and it was so cold the rain almost immediately began to freeze. I'd brought in the two little Christmas log deer so they wouldn't get wet (after cutting some new "antlers" for them out of tree branches) and also the St. Nicholas banner, because I've never seen another like it and I need to care for it, and now my new snowflake flag was flapping outside. As the half hours went on, it flapped a little less because it was slowly being encased in ice, as was the American flag and the railings leading up the steps.

The news kept promising the rain would stop and it would turn to snow, and up to four inches were predicted. By 10 p.m., when I took Tucker out through the garage and disappointed him by not going much further than our own grass, which was already crunchy while the driveway and the sidewalk were slick with rain/ice, no snow seemed forthcoming, and we went disappointedly off to bed.

It actually did snow, but just enough to edge the lawns and the road, and the tips of the branches and the tops of the bushes were covered with a glaze of ice that made all the trees and plants look set with diamonds and silver. Tucker had another short walk, which he also hated, especially as he was bundled in the tweed coat because it was only 20°F and the wind cut like a knife.

So I finally went online and canceled till next week. Sadly, the house will be less festive by then because I will need to start taking down the decorations. The supreme irony in all this is that by next weekend it will be nearly 70!

James and I did go to Kroger for a little bit this afternoon as he was out of mushrooms. We also got Bisquik and he made biscuits late in the afternoon. I don't think James has made biscuits since before Willow got sick. We had them with Kerrygold butter and blackberry honey and they were better than all the gourmet meals in any food magazines. And the biscuits came in handy later on: we were going to have homemade pizzas, but the crusts were stale. So we had pizza fixings on biscuits. Not the best alternative, but it worked out.

Looking about for something to do tonight and put Frozen on; it's been sitting on the DVR for awhile. I enjoyed watching it and I did like the reindeer, but I guess maybe I came on this one late. Not seeing what all the fuss was about. Then I put on the Vicious special. Sorry this series is over; for all the bile I love Stuart and Freddie (or maybe what I want is their apartment ☺ ).

Now we're seeing out Christmas watching The Good Life and All Creatures Great and Small.

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» Monday, January 02, 2017
The Party's Over
Well, this was it. The last of eighteen days of freedom. Most were wonderful to okay. One was scary. Two were depressing.

Today was...rainy. But we needed the rain. I was inside warm and dry (except during dog walks) where James was teleworking. Slept until almost nine, had the usual breakfast and dog walk, and settled in to do my annual chore: updating the copyrights on my web pages. Between my web software and Firefox's FTP software, this didn't take too long. Keep looking at my web page, which is now so dated, and I've never done web pages for Snowy and Tucker. I keep promising myself to do something, and then when I have time, I have no inspiration. So...just waiting.

Cleaned up a few things in my craft room, tossed some stuff away, but most of the day I was recording off the BBC and reading Facebook and Christmas magazines and listening to Christmas music. We had the Christmas tree on, and James' work was very slow. In the morning we watched the Tournament of Roses Parade on HGTV with no commercials. The usual colorful show: beautiful floats, bands, horses. Several cavalry troops. Farmer's Insurance did a float based on one of their commercials (the swimming dogs). Netflix's float featured the Little Prince. The National Hockey League had a float to celebrate their 100th anniversary. There was a neat Monkey King float that made me want to watch Alakazam the Great again. The Trader Joe's float had a steampunk "driver."

Was going to watch this year's outdoor hockey game, but it wasn't snowing, so, no fun.

We got mail today; my winter flag arrived, covered with snowflakes and nice and blue.

Beef bits and Yukon Gold potatoes for supper, and I'm now watching The American St. Nick, about an American soldier who played St. Nicholas in a Luxembourg town in December 1944.

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» Sunday, January 01, 2017
Drippy New Year
Well, it hasn't been the most sterling New Year's Day.

As always, we drove out to Bill and Caran's New Year's Eve party last night. Rain is predicted for the next two days, and it was already drizzling, cars were darting in and out of traffic, and on the freeway we got in back of a car from Florida being driven by someone who had evidently already been celebrating, as he/she was weaving in and out of lanes (but still using a turn signal; go figure). We called 911, but since we didn't have the plate number, it wasn't really useful. Anyway, I hope he got where he was going safely.

We had a great time. It was a smaller crowd than usual, probably because of the weather, but it didn't matter. All the company was good, and both Chris Cook and Marilyn Teague were there—we hadn't seen Marilyn since her husband died, and Chris for several years. There were lots of nice goodies besides our chicken sausage: quinoa and rice, two big cheese balls, cold cut slices and various breads, little smokies, pigs in blankets, and a tray of cocktail shrimp. By the time the ball dropped in Times Square, I was crying with relief (although 2016 extracted one final piece of flesh, as we found out William Christopher had passed away).

I'm not sure I'm allergic to shrimp, but it does have detrimental effects on my digestion. If I'd had the brains God gave a goat, I would have had one and left it, but no, I had a few.

James was sort of quiet as we started out home. Right before he got onto the freeway, he admitted that he was having some type of a pulling feeling in both armpits. I wasn't doing so well myself. I'd left the house feeling fine, but by the time we were well on our way, I suddenly was feeling two different urgent calls of nature. Even worse, everything I'd eaten, which wasn't a lot, was starting to give me heartburn, and when my heartburn is at its worst, my heartbeat feels like it's irregular. It was raining in earnest now and the freeway was all spooky, shiny slick with rain and reflections from headlights and rear lights and buildings. Spring Road was terrible for this, as it's lined with orange construction barrels. Everything looked Dutch tilted. James told me testily that the pain was not in his chest or jaw or down his arms, just a pull under his armpits. We made it home and he said the moment we got in, the pain vanished. Perhaps it was just tension from having to drive home in such weather? I took my heart pill when we got home, too, and that straightened out part of my problem.

I ran to the bathroom, but was sick for the rest of the night. James got ready for bed with a tiny recurrence of the tugging (but not when he came up the stairs) and a headache. I was sick to my stomach by then and we didn't crawl into bed until 3 a.m. Not sure when I fell asleep, but I know when I woke up: it was seven o'clock and I had a terrible stomachache and my right ear was ringing like a churchbell. Sat freezing in the bathroom until I gave up after I had to get up a third time and put on socks and the fleece bathrobe we keep hanging up in there. I didn't get back to sleep, and finally about 8:30 just got into clothes to go lay down on the futon. Out of sheer frustration and fear I started to cry, waking James the rest of the way up. He told me the tugging had gone away the moment he got some sleep. (It came back briefly today, not when he climbed the stairs twice and took the dog out, but just walking from his computer to his chair; he fell asleep and it went away again. He'll have to tell all of this to Dr. Mobley on Thursday.)

I spent the day on the sofa, reading, and asleep for at least two hours. Watched a bunch of Aerial America episodes: California, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and New England. Had some bread and milk only for lunch. Outside it gloomed and drizzled and finally poured.

For supper we had the homemade turkey soup with the square "pot pie" noodles. It was epic! Gingerbread men for dessert. Watched AFV and then this year's HGTV Dream Home. It is another remodel this year; have they taken flak for building new homes? This year's is a beach house on St. Simon's Island. The host is gushing over the views out the back door, which include this fetid looking creek. He's thinking view and I'm thinking mosquitoes! Beach people are weird. ツ Looks good in some rooms, though.

And now it's time for Sherlock...

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» Saturday, December 31, 2016
Hit'n'Run Shopping
We slept in this morning, and then assembled our coupons for a quick assault. We wanted to do some errands, but not spend forever in the stores.

First we filled up my car at Kroger. It was 10:30 and the parking lot was already crazy. Arrived at Barnes & Noble along with a downfall of sleet (glad I refilled the bird feeders earlier!) which turned into rain later on. I picked up a couple of things from the clearance table and a discounted book on watercolor painting; James got some magazines and a Star Trek desk calendar. Next we skipped across the road to Bed, Bath & Beyond, where we had six coupons in imminent danger of expiring. With judicious arrangement of the coupons, we both spent about the same thing: I got two new bath mats for the bathroom since ours are fraying and one of those "scissors" to cut vegetables and meat. James got the 8 inch saucepan (we returned the ten when we got in), one of those square "copper" pans, and and bags for Tucker's "remains."

I had a wild hair and stopped at Publix on the way home. Got a baguette and hearty beef veg soup for James and chicken noodle soup for me for lunch as it remained cold and clammy without. I let him take a little nap afterwards because he'd slept badly, then we did another quick shopping assault, this time at Kroger. James gassed up the truck while I went inside ostensibly to get milk, a banana, something for my work lunch, and some of the low-salt ham for James. I stayed around the outside edge of the store and also ended up with lean ground beef, beef bits, the ham was on sale so I got two, the baby Swiss was on sale so I got more, some ricotta as a treat, a no-sugar-added apple pie, discount bows and wrapping paper, and oh-my-god, milk at 99¢/gallon!

Spent the afternoon watching New Year's specials: Burt Wolf talking about New Year customs, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and Ellery Queen's "Adventure of Auld Lang Syne," which takes place New Year's Eve of 1946.

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» Friday, December 30, 2016
You're a Rat Little Headache...
I feel like I wasted most of my last vacation day. When I got up my nose was a little stuffy and my throat scratchy. I was going to eat some mandarin orange with my breakfast and forgot after taking Tucker outside. I wasn't planning to go out today, but stay inside and get some tidying done, record stuff off the BBC, and work on finishing my Advent wreath that was supposed to be done this year. I sat down to watch a couple of the Rin Tin Tin episodes that I downloaded, which were the first two. There isn't much of an origin story in the pilot; O'Hara says they found them both in the burnt remains of a wagon train massacre, and Rinty was just a puppy. (German Shepherds didn't actually come to this country until the very late 1800s.) The second episode is similar to the Lassie story "The Whopper," where the men don't want to believe that Rusty and Rinty saw thieves after he tells them a fib. I also watched a British special called Charles Dickens and the Invention of Christmas.

While it was beautiful and blue out, albeit cold, we have rain coming in and by the time I got done with all those programs I had a headache that would have knocked out a horse. After what happened to James I am trying to avoid taking OTC painkillers, so I took a nap for an hour instead, and still had to take ibuprofin after I woke up. Instead I worked it off finishing the Advent wreath: I painted Christmas floral motifs between the candle spaces: holly, pine, cedar, and ivy. Now I just need to do the ink work.

Eventually the headache did go away.

We had supper at Uncle Maddio's, then went to Sprouts and finally Publix and still made it home by 8:30, where I finished up recording the Charles Paris mystery and started on Doctor Who. We also caught up with the last two episodes of Hawaii Five-0. Oh, crap. I know Daniel Dae Kim has a new series and I'm glad; if anyone deserves his own series, it's him! But I hope they are not going to kill off Chin Ho Kelly. ☹

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» Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Yet Another Elevator Day
You know that old saying "May you live in interesting times"? Today was "interesting."

It actually started last night. Alice had her birthday dinner last evening and of course we went. An added treat was that dinner was at Keegan's, which has great food. We sat with Jerry and Sue Lawson (the tables were arranged bistro style). I got a steak sandwich with some really nice onion rings on top and James got bangers and mash. He said the bangers were not overly salty, a plus.

For some reason, James always tells me bad things at bedtime. If he's gotten reprimanded at work, or something's gone wrong, or the doctor has told him something worrying, he always tells me at bedtime. He says this is to not ruin my evening, which is fine, but it really ruins my sleep. So it was actually normal that it was almost time to get ready for bed when he told me he had this peculiar pulling pain under his right arm and under his right shoulder blade. Oh, hell. So very calmly I shut everything off, covered Snowy, got Tucker to bed, and then started asking questions. It had started when we got home. He had no chest pressure, pain down his arms, pain in his jaw, or any of the other symptoms the cardiologist warned him to beware of. His heart was not racing, he wasn't dizzy or woozy. It didn't get worse if he moved. There was just this low-level  pain.

So he took his blood pressure (a little high, as to be expected), pulse, etc. His sugar was high, but we really hadn't eaten until eight o'clock and it wasn't even eleven. Take a shower, I said, and keep the hot water on the painful area. Huh. The pain went away. Okay, we would avoid the emergency room, but call the doctor first thing in the morning. He called in sick to work. I don't know how he slept, but I was up once an hour making sure he was breathing.

He called Kaiser at eight, got a 9:20 appointment, and went back to bed.

Anyway, the nurse asked a lot of questions, and the doctor asked even more. She made him raise his arms all different ways, pushed on them, asked a bunch of questions about when the pain appeared and what he ate, checked his heart, etc, etc. Her conclusion was what I had been hoping: she said had the pain been under the left shoulder blade she would worry, but because it was under the right, started after he ate and went away with the shower she was pretty sure it was digestive, eating something too rich too late. Of course she warned us to get help immediately if it came back and was worse than before.

Since we were out anyway, we stopped at MicroCenter on the way home. I have been thinking of a new laptop and MicroCenter had a cheap one on sale, so I wanted James' advice. We looked at the two cheap ones and they were okay (they still had DVD drives), but they were so big! Then the salesman started pushing a more expensive machine on us and I walked away. We did come home with a new router—to try to install when we dare, since we haven't had much luck the last two times—and two new keyboards. James kind of messed up his Microsoft keyboard when he tipped some soda on it. I didn't need one, but I couldn't program the buttons on my old Microsoft keyboard anymore since I upgraded to Windows 10. These are ergonomic keyboards as well, with the "camel hump" in the middle. I'm hoping it will help the pain in my wrists. All three of them were on sale. Yay.

We came home for James to relax, but he was restless and took the turkey carcass and made soup from it, adding celery and onion. I found a real treasure online: someone has posted 127 of the 164 episodes of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Even better, these are copies of the original broadcast shows (even if some have been time-compressed and Rusty sounds like a squirrel), unlike the copies that have been shown on the side channels like MeTV and CoziTV. Poor Rinty and friends have been practically eviscerated by modern syndication—first the soundtracks have been completely replaced (not just the theme song or the credit music, but all the background music, too) with more modern music that is completely inappropriate for a 1950s show, and then for some reason parts of the dialog are redubbed. Adding insult to injury, Rusty has been dubbed in by a woman! At least these butchered ones I've seen were still in black and white; the ones they show in England have been colorized as well. Ugh. Anyway, I spent all afternoon and evening downloading them. The picture isn't good on some, and one is incomplete, and another lacks the credits, but they are all watchable and just hearing the classic closing theme makes me grin.

We had soup for supper, which suited James' digestion much better.

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Flourish

» Thursday, December 22, 2016
The Ups and Downs of Christmas
After kind of a melancholy Wednesday—I was doing laundry and thinking about Mom and Dad—I had a better Thursday.

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» Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The Shades of Christmas Past
Yesterday was devoted to must do's, today was supposed to be for "wanna do's." But first breakfast, a walk around the neighborhood with Tucker, and I had to finish cleaning up the spare bedroom, which looked like the aftermath of Black Friday gift wrapping. I had it tidied up except for vacuuming the carpet, and then went off for my usual Christmas tour of downtown Marietta.

I got a prime parking spot in front of the Local Exchange, which I wanted to stop at last, so first I went to look around inside Atlanta Antiques. In the back they have sound equipment, but in front there are all sorts of delightful things from the past, including two big cases of old cameras from the 1920s all the way through the 70s. I looked at a stereopticon that had slides of the life of Jesus, old postcards and Christmas cards, and old military, sports, and medical equipment. Luke the poodle wasn't there today.

Next I crossed the park to check out the ice rink and Santa's spot and the big Christmas tree, along with local school Festival of Tree winners and some romping reindeer sculptures (one wearing a tutu). I walked up to the Christmas store, but they weren't opening until noon. The Keeping Room wouldn't be open until 12:30, so I just walked on to DuPre's to spy the Christmas decorations among the antiques. I thought they weren't quite as festive as in past years, but had a happy time wandering through Depression glass, old furniture, vintage textbooks, glittering costume jewelry, teacups, lots of tchotchkes, and other neat stuff. I bought a book from 1956 called Merry Christmas, Mr. Baxter, written by Edward Streeter, who also wrote Father of the Bride. It looks like a wry comedy of manners set in New York City at Christmastime.

As my time was getting short (parking is free only for two hours), I went on to The Corner Shop (the British store), bought a Doctor Who calendar, and chatted with the lovely older lady who runs the shop with her daughter. We were mostly talking about how salty and sugary foods are today.

There is a candy store next door to The Corner Shop, so I popped in to see if they had anything sugar free. They had some taffy, so I tried getting some for James. And then I was back at the Local Exchange to get the Best Pretzels in the World, Knotty Pretzels in Zesty Italian flavor. Yum.

I was feeling a call of nature, so drove on to the main library to use their facilities. Of course I checked the stacks, and then the "for sale" books. Found a nice one called Swedish Christmas, which I actually finished today.

From the library it was only a short way to the antique market. This is another place I visit before Christmas, where choice placement of garlands, ornaments, sparkly trees, bead roping, and Christmas lights gives all the antiquities a festive air. I saw an antique cane I was kinda interested in. I'll need one eventually, and would like a unique one. But it was $90. Also saw one James might be interested in. Admired all the cool old furniture, wandered into an alcove full of nothing but old china, checked out framed antique sports programs, drooled over the furniture (they had a lovely whatnot, very sturdy and not scuffed at all), and finally found the vendor with the books and checked out their small supply of Happy Hollisters novels. One booth had Jim Shore figures for sale, and I found a darling owl wearing a "Pilgrim hat" standing next to a pumpkin. He will go perfectly with my Jim Shore turkey.

It was 2:15 and I was starving, so I quickly did a Tin Drum survey and then drove down to Cumberland Mall to get my discounted meal and read Swedish Christmas. Lastly I stopped at Barnes & Noble with one more coupon they sent through e-mail and bought A Very Vintage Christmas, which we'd seen over the weekend.

Came home to walk Tucker and then finish the vacuuming and listen to Christmas carols on TuneIn radio. James made pork chops for supper and later I put on two Christmas episodes of M*A*S*H and the two For Better or For Worse Christmas specials, The Bestest Present and A Christmas Angel.i

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» Monday, December 19, 2016
Marathon Gal
Oh, what a day...

We had a surprise yesterday when James' mom called about getting together for Christmas: now that they have a new car they suggested they come here. So we are having company on Christmas Eve. We were going to get some dark meat parts for us and a breast for Mom and Candy, but when I got up this morning and dashed to Kroger (I didn't even eat), all I could find were ginormous turkey breast and no parts. They did have small turkeys, so I got a little, 9-pound one. Also got extra dessert, more milk, and a few other things. Then I could come home, tuck away the groceries, take the dog out and have breakfast.

Next I went to cookie baking. This was not really fun. The wine didn't turn the first batch mix the proper color and it was very dry. I had to keep adding wine and since I was at the bottom of the bottle, I had to strain it through a coffee filter in case the mother came out. Then the temperatures in the oven varied wildly. This is okay for meat, but terrible for baking. The oven usually reads a little higher than the temp actually is, so I set the thermostat 25 degrees higher. When it said it was up to temp I put the cookies in, the oven thermometer read 200. Ten minutes later the oven was smoking because the bottoms of the cookies were smoking and the oven thermometer read over 400! I had to throw open the back door and put on the kitchen ceiling fan. The cookies came out burnt on the bottom and still raw at the center. The second batch came out better, but there was still smoke and the oven temp varied wildly on that set of cookies.

Once that was done, I took Tucker out for his walk, and for the next 2 1/2 hours I wrapped gifts. Some went into paper, others went into gift bags. I had to wrap at least four birthday gifts as well. I finished right before James arrived home, and resolved not to do anything more for the night except watch Christmas specials. Tonight was reserved for The Gathering, the magnificent television movie starring Ed Asner and Maureen Stapleton.

And then I tottered outside with Tucker and it was bedtime.

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» Sunday, December 18, 2016
Rainy Without and Warm Within

What woke me up this morning was warmth. During the night it had gone up to 67°F and by eight-thirty those nice cozy blankets from last night were scratchy and hot. Sigh. So I went into the bathroom, where I could just see the sun rising over the pretty-much-naked trees in the back yard, and was scrolling through my phone for a few minutes when I looked out again and it was as dark as twilight and the trees were lashing back and forth. The front was coming through with a vengeance for about five minutes, then it got light again. Unfortunately it also started raining so I couldn't re-fill the bird feeders and Tucker went outside, did his thing quickly on the lawn, and then dashed back inside.

I had an eggnog and some oatmeal for breakfast, with James having eggs, and then we headed out for what turned out to be a long day. First we stopped at the new Publix so James could check it out and we could pick out some peppermint tea. They were still giving out samples and we had some kind of chicken pilaf with a raspberry vinegar salad, and also some salami and crackers and cream cheese with brown sugar sauce poured on top of it. We picked up some lamb, some ground turkey, something for Christmas Eve dessert, more wraps so James can make more breakfast burritos to get him past the new year, and this and that, including some soup for dinner.

I still had a 25 percent off Barnes & Noble coupon and a ten dollar gift card, and James had a 30 percent off coupon, and both had to be used in the store. So we decided to go into Buckhead, which meant a nice ride down the snazzy lengths of West Paces Ferry Road. This has always been a wealthy neighborhood, but they've been knocking down the former posh houses to build even posher homes, "McMansions" as it were. One even looks like an Italian palazzio. All of them have mailboxes swathed with fresh Christmas greens which must come from Very Expensive Florists and most are traditionally decorated with wreaths, red bows, white candles, and green garlands. The forecast was for rain all day and it was indeed misty and grey, and, as the hours went by, getting colder: it was 67 when I got up and at eleven it was already down in the 50s.

We had a peppermint cocoa when we got there, sharing a piece of what was labeled as gingerbread loaf, but what was very lightly gingerbread and had citron in it. Then we hit the magazine racks. I found the magazine I was looking for, the winter edition of "This England," also a big thick magazine from "Country Life" called "Forever England," the new issue of "Breathe," and the January "Country Sampler." I found the book I wanted to get, but James looked around and was dissatisfied with the books he saw. He thought about getting a game, but Buckhead didn't have a good selection of games. Because it was raining, he hadn't taken his power chair, and was looking exhausted from the pain of walking, but we paid for our stuff and then drove home via the Akers Mill store, which usually does have a good selection of games. This time he couldn't find anything that pleased him, but he saw a new book there about the Pacific theater in World War II and bought that. I picked up the book I wanted at a good savings, a beautiful art book about Beatrix Potter. Everyone remembers her for Peter Rabbit and her children's books, and perhaps for preserving a large part of the Lake District in England and keeping it from developers, but not many people know she drew botanical models that were so good they were used in textbooks. And half the time she wasn't credited because textbook publishers didn't want to give a woman credit!

By now the mist and the damp were deep into our bones and it was after three and we were tired and achy. We decided to just come home and eat. We had the soup we picked up at Publix this morning (I picked more noodles and chicken and veg than soup, and then took most of the soup so James could substitute no-salt broth in his bowl; a good thing I did, too, as it was very salty) and James made grilled cheese sandwiches. I put all the four Timmy and Lassie Christmas episodes on while we ate, and we had two of our gingerbread boys from Books-a-Million for dessert.

Later on we watched the news, and then the saga of Ralphie Parker and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun in A Christmas Story, and finally the new Christmas episode of Alaska: the Last Frontier. This was a great episode. They did a "white elephant" Christmas—calling it "white rabbit" instead—and there were some killer gifts. Shane made a stone axe which Eivan ended up with, Eve (and little Finlay) made blackcurrant wine, Charlotte made an old model of the Kilcher original homestead, Eivan made a samurai sword and scabbard, Atz did a basket sculpture with an old pelvis bone...just real cool stuff, and it was funny, too.

And after all that, the weekend is over, and...damn, I have to go back to the grocery store! My baking powder is outdated!

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» Saturday, December 17, 2016
Merry Friendmas!

We had a relatively quiet morning, and a good thing, because the rest of the day zipped by at top speed. Despite going to bed late, James woke early and went off to do his morning routine and walk the dog. I tried to sleep a little longer, but merely dozed. When I got up I had breakfast and then had to wrap a couple of gifts for this afternoon: the "wizard college" print I got for Aubrey Spivey's graduation gift and Juanita's retirement gift (a plaque that said "I'm not retired. I'm just starting" and a National Parks coloring book). I didn't have any cards, but thought I still had a greeting card generating computer program. Nope. Just made two simple ones with graphics and lettering instead. Looks like I should buy some card software.

We arrived at the Outback Steakhouse in Kennesaw in good time by coming through the back, and good thing, too, as Barrett Parkway is not only lined with stores that are crowded at Christmas, but Town Center Mall is down the road apiece and the road looked like one big parking lot, and had a great lunch. James and I decided to split today's coupon special, which was a huge ribeye with two sides. I ate the potato and he had mushrooms and we both carved off the steak, which arrived at the table on the bone and looked like something the Flintstones would order for dinner. (James took a picture of me gnawing the meat off it.) We brought half of it home, but I won't order a ribeye again; they are just too fatty. I was re-tasting it for the rest of the night. Aubrey had some cool gifts, including a beautiful dragon scarf. After everyone had finished eating, most of us repaired to the house to have cake and talk some more. Jesse was telling us about his new job, and we watched Cinnamon the dog play with the cat, who was batting at her face with sheathed claws.

We headed home about six so I could walk Tucker before we left for the Atlanta Radio Theatre performance. It was a very strange day weatherwise, as it had started out cold and was actually getting warmer as the day progressed. As we left it was just a little foggy and much warmer than it had been in the morning—nearly 20 degrees higher.

"An Atlanta Christmas" was being performed on our side of town this year. Previously it had been out in Avondale for many years (we actually used to enjoy that ride, as we got to see the decorations in downtown Avondale) and then for the last few years all the way down south in Stockbridge at a very nice venue that the GPS continued to misdirect us to (the only problem being southbound traffic on I-75). This year it was at the Good Acting Studio right next to the Masonic Lodge just north of downtown Marietta, about a 12-minute drive from us.

It was a great performance as always, with a bunch of my favorites including "O Tannenbaum" (a.k.a. "Crazy Uncle Richard's World War I Christmas letter") and "Are You Lonely Tonight" (two lonely people meet at the office party) and even "The Legend of the Poinsettia" ("It's red!"), plus a new story called "Role of a Lifetime," about a 1950s actor who has a temporary position playing Santa Claus and is faced with the sobbing wish of a little girl who just wants her daddy back from Korea for Christmas. They finished up with the rollicking  "A Blue Hanukkahmas Carol," the story of a stranded young man, and four very peculiar ghosts.

Then we came home and relaxed to Christmas music until bedtime.

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