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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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» Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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» Saturday, October 24, 2020
Back from the Dead

Does anyone still remember WENN?

Remember WENN was American Movie Classics' (now just "AMC") first original series. No, it wasn't Mad Men as they advertise now. It ran from 1996-1998, garnered a ton of critical acclaim and a loyal fanbase, and was renewed for a fifth season (we know it was because during fourth season they ran a contest and the winner was promised a small role in a fifth season episode). And then, right after fourth season ended, AMC abruptly cancelled the series.* Apparently the new head of AMC hated the show and said it didn't fit with the new image they were trying to cultivate (which wasn't devoted to classic film). Since 1998, fans have been lobbying for a DVD set and AMC has ignored all requests, even though obscured 1960s series like Fractured Flickers and Good Morning, World! were turning up on disc. The fans thought they'd never see it again.

Out of nowhere I got a note early in the week from a fellow WENN fan that AMC was rebroadcasting the series, but not on their cable channel, or on their new premium service AMC+. Instead it was on an obscure streaming channel called "AMC Presents" that only runs on Amazon Prime, IMDb TV, and SlingTV. I had no idea Amazon Prime even had streaming channels; through research during the week I discovered that's because the channels aren't linked in the SmartTV apps. They are only accessible via Windows or Mac browser. I also heard from Rupert Holmes, creator of the series, about this; we used to correspond regularly, and then...well, you know, life...
The most important thing that happened during the week was that the roof was repaired. They had to replace half a sheet of decking, it was not as much as we expected, and we breathed a sigh of relief. So between the news about Remember WENN and the repair job we went into the weekend feeling rather jaunty. Alas, we did have to go to two Publix stores to get everything we needed, but there was a nice trip to Barnes & Noble and another to Hobby Lobby to make up for it. James did his last physical therapy session (unless his doctor prescribes more in November). And of course we went to Lidl, picked up more meds yet again at Kaiser, and...

...dropped off our absentee ballots directly at a polling place. They were accepted and acknowledged almost immediately. A pity we can't shut up all the voting commercials!

Must work out how best to watch Remember WENN next Wednesday. (Is the scheduler at AMC Presents a fan? How else would we get WENN on "Wens-day"?) It's shown as a block of six shows about four times a day, starting at midnight. If it's not accessible through the Prime app and we don't get Sling, my alternative is to pull it up on Prime on the desktop via Chrome and "cast" it to the television.
* What happened to the contest? you ask. Supposedly the winner was hustled to the filming of the final episode and included there.

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» Saturday, October 17, 2020
Bloody Hell, Books, and a Note of Triumph
Well, medically it's been a strange week.

So Monday I'm sitting at my computer hydrating myself nicely with water, took a rather big gulp, and it ran smack into the wonderful, perpetual post-nasal congestion at the back of my throat and stuck right there. I started gasping for air, and, unable to draw a breath, had to spit up the water. Right on my nice clicky keyboard. After I got my breath back I spent an hour mopping up the mess and drying the keyboard with my hair dryer. It still typed 66666666666666666 and ttttttttttttttttttt with a "ghost" hitting the keys for hours until it completely dried.
Thursday's problem was slightly scarier. James has a rough patch of skin on his left cheek. Since he's already had two small skin cancers removed from his face, he wanted this checked out. So Thursday our first stop was Kaiser, and then we would proceed to Publix. So the dermatologist took a biopsy and covered up the spot with a small Band-Aid. Of course the spot is on the side of his face where the beard is, so the bandage was basically stuck to beard hair. Then he had to go to the lab to get his test for Dr. Kongara in two weeks. Then we needed to go to the pharmacy for cranberry supplements. Finally we were heading for the truck to go to Publix—until James took off his mask near the chair lift.

His lips were covered with dried blood like black lipstick! Plus the biopsy spot was bleeding like a stuck pig down his chin all into the hair of his beard.

So we went back inside and they sent us back upstairs, and the dermatologist's nurse treated the biopsy spot, got it to stop bleeding, cleaned up the blood in his beard, and stuck a bigger, thicker bandage on the spot. But what was wrong with his lips? He'd bitten his lip, hard, this morning at breakfast this morning. Ah, the joys of living with blood thinners. Not.

So we didn't get to Publix until way after noon and were ravenous when we finally got home for lunch. James chilled while I spent the afternoon watching a few things backed up on the DVR, like Norman Lloyd's birthday salute which I recorded two years ago, and cleaning some other things off it, like Hidden Figures (don't need to save it as it is available on Disney+). We also finally tamed the plastic leftover containers by dumping a bunch of them in the trash for tomorrow's pickup. Anything that was bubbling up, delaminating, didn't have a lid, etc. went in the bag, and now we have room for the new set of containers we got from Amazon Vine.

Friday we did a nice hop/skip/jump from Costco (renew memberships and buy cheese and mandarin orange cups), plus fill up the truck, Nam Dae Mun (thin steaks, chops, and some nice lamb steaks!), and also Lidl (for milk, bread, chocolate, and other necessities like mandarin oranges). In between jumps we had lunch at O'Charley's with Alice and Ken. A nice 6-ounce steak, applesauce, and a green salad was just what I needed.

Saturday was our banner day. First, like Friday, it was cool and beautiful! Even better, Saturday there was a nice breeze. I needed a new pair of knock-around-the-house pajama pants and James needed underwear as he was having "religious artifacting." We decided to try a different Wally World as the one closest to us is very shopworn and the second closest is always jam-packed. So we chose the one up at Kennesaw, between the mall and Barnes & Noble. Have only been past this one once, and never been inside. It's really nice, neat and clean, and huge! We got what we needed, including more sugarless candy, and, as I am wont to do these days, we took a stroll down the cleaning aisle not expecting to find anything.

There were two cans of Lysol spray left!
You have to understand I have not seen a can of Lysol since March! Over the summer months, I have managed to amass a small cache of necessary cleaning products. A kind friend brought me a bottle of alcohol, and in August I found two bottles at Publix. I have carefully collected alcohol wipes from Staples and then found some in another store. By hitting the grocerie stores at odd days and hours, I've found different disinfecting wipes (two of one brand, two of another, two actually of Lysol wipes). I know where a certain Kroger hides its disinfecting hand wipes. But I have not been able to find Lysol spray, which bugged me because with none of those other cleaning things I'd collected could I do what I needed to do with the Lysol: spray the laundry baskets after I put the laundry in the washer. Spray the mattress and the pillows when I change the bed. The little spritz of spray I rub onto the scale and then wipe off when I clean the master bathroom. So finding two cans of Lysol was a real win!

Plus we finished off the afternoon with a trip to Barnes & Noble. I picked up an Agatha Christie collection of spooky stories to read for Hallowe'en, and paired it with another book one half off, a history of the river Seine. Found a book for gift on the discount table, and another, ostensibly for me, a fantasy novel about people who can touch historical items and are "time sensitives" with them. It's the most books I've bought in a long while.

Will you please tell me how autumn whizzes by so quickly? October is half over. Summer sticks around like a constipated sloth and here it is almost Hallowe'en...

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» Saturday, October 10, 2020
It's Official...I'm Old; Plus Annoying News and a Birthday Party
It's official: I'm old. I got my Medicare card on the fifth.
Plus the first of the roof estimates is in. The guy came over on Wednesday. Yes, the flashing around the two attic vents is bowed up and water is getting under them. Also—he asked me: did you have a tarp on the roof at any time? I said no; no one's been up there since the house was built. Well he asked because right there over the spare room there are nail holes in pairs in several of the shingles. (Saw the photos later on—yikes!) He has no idea why, but this explains the two small leaks that I ignored because I thought it was from the HVAC leak and they never got any worse. Anyway, the estimate he offered us, even if they had to put in new decking, was so far under what we guessed a repair might cost that we decided to just let them do it rather than getting other quotes. Our friends had a good experience with them, the job is warrantied, and the next company can't come out to do even a quote until the 20th and we had rain coming on Saturday. (And sure enough, one of the water stains on the ceiling expanded about a couple of inches on Saturday night. It needs to be repaired before it rains again. When I called to cancel the other two appointments, one of the reps sussed it right out: "Oh, you've got someone who can come out before we can? I understand!")

Except for the rain, it ended up being a nice weekend. Now that I had my Medicare number, I could finish signing up for Medicare Advantage with Kaiser and mailed that out before we went shopping on Thursday. Friday we went to pay the taxes, but they only took cash or check. I paid it on my credit card to get the Amazon points when we got home instead. We also checked out Lowes and Home Depot for some small LED light bulbs that would fit in the ceiling fan fixture; I found them at Home Depot. We got home early enough to stay out of the heat that had returned, watching RV shows on the Travel Channel (and then Get Smart episodes all evening).

Saturday was Jessie Elder's 27th birthday party. We sat outside at Mellow Mushroom and added another table so we could social distance a bit more. It rained like crazy periodically as we celebrated; Jessie is a Disney fan, so it was a Disney-themed cake, and, as always when this bunch gets together, "a good time was had by all." We stopped at Kroger on the way home for milk and mushrooms, and then drove home through the edge of the Kennesaw National Battlefield Park, where the leaves are starting to turn to gold, and it's "lovely, dark, and deep" under the tunnels of tree branches.

Even with a three-day weekend, the days go by so fast. October is just spinning by and it's only the first third of the month.

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» Saturday, October 03, 2020
The Weakest Link...Uh, Leak
It all started when I went to iron the apple apron I got from Amazon Vine. I guess ironing should have been portent enough.

Anyone who's read this blog frequently know I am not a big fan of very bright lights. I find sunshine painful and I won't use the language I refer to fluorescent lights with. But for fine detail work, like making jewelry gifts, the stygian dimness given off by the 60-watt ceiling fan bulb in my craft room just wasn't doing it. One day I found a small-sized 100-watt light bulb at Publix. I would have preferred a 75, but beggars can't be choosers. I installed it.

Damn, it's bright. But over the last few months I've gotten used to it and I think in the last month or so I've quit flinching every time I turn it on. Except I turned it on Sunday, looked up as I was unfolding the ironing board, and yelped.

Let me note that more than several years ago, two water stains, like six-inch long dashes, appeared in the fold of the ceiling and wall of the craft room, on the north side of the house, after a really bad storm. I've kept an eye on them since then and they've remained the same, never expanded. Then when the guys replaced the HVAC system in 2016, they told me that I'd had a leak in the piping up there——there's a definite disadvantage to having the HVAC system in the attic——that leads to the condensate drain that goes outside the house. Mystery solved.

That Sunday morning there were two more water spots on the ceiling, near the dashes. These were round spots. And one was the size of a dinner plate.

So I did the cheapest thing first: called the HVAC people. If it was their leak, it was covered by the service contract. I was having other trouble with the system anyway.

So he came out on Tuesday. Um, no, it's not their leak. Damn. And also, the other problem with the system is the damper, which is not covered by the maintenance contract, which I find absurd. The damper is what directs the air upstairs or downstairs and makes the system function properly. (Actually, I found out the service contract I have only covers the semiannual check of the system. The actual maintenance contract for the system costs twice as much. Oh, and they should have told me to register the system with Lennox when I got it so I'd be under the warranty. I don't remember any of this at all, but then the new HVAC system was installed the same day James had his first heart attack. So...something had to take a backseat, and it sure wasn't going to be James.) Anyway, the service tech told me he suspects the leak is around the roof vents. I looked at them and it does seem the flashing is curving up a little. And he came back on Thursday to replace the damper (the gears on it were stripped). So we're going to spend the month of October getting quotes to have the roof repaired. What fun.

Which is why I made some financial decisions this week that will be effective in January. (I've also signed up for Medicare, which was a requirement given the birthday that was coming up. Damn. Where did the years go?)

This weekend was, as usual, too short. And we have three day weekends! Of course one day a week always seems to be taken up with James having a doctor's appointment. Thursday we went to Lidl and to Publix before arriving home to wait for HVAC guy. Friday we had lunch at Jim'n'Nick's barbecue with Alice and Ken, and then went back to Publix (a different Publix) for the things the Mableton Publix didn't have (like my yogurt and low-salt chips; I wish they'd all carry the same stock!). Once we got done with the chores, it was still cool enough outside so that we didn't want to go running for cover inside the house. So we went to Barnes & Noble instead. Picked up two autumn magazines and an early Christmas one to save for after Thanksgiving.

Saturday we did something we hadn't done in...well, I'm thinking about a year! We gave up on going to the Marietta Farmer's Market last summer because even when we got there early it was outrageously hot, we went a couple of times in the fall, and didn't even hit the winter market once, and then of course when we might have started thinking about going in the spring COVID-19 reared its nasty little head and for a while the Market was cancelled. Now it's being held in the parking lot where we used to park when going to the market, with the booths widely spaced and entrances offering hand sanitizer and people making sure you are masked. We finally got Tucker more Big Daddy dog biscuits, and also bought a Hawaiian glaze originally made by the vendor's great grandmother in Hawaii, plus a homemade croissant. I was too late to get my favorite flavor of goat cheese, though.

We also stopped at The Corner Shop (the British place) and James got a couple of treats (a steak pie and a beef and onion pasty, and we bought a Fry's peppermint cream bar. We dropped all this off at home, then went to the Hallmark Ornament October premiere. Didn't buy any ornaments, but had two coupons, so ended up with two nice Christmas gifts.

Saturday ended nicely with my Hamilton Books order having shown up. Along with the two Hallmark gifts, this whittles my outstanding Christmas gift list down substantially.

But, O Lord, why the roof already? I was hoping that would hold up a few more years until the house got to its 20th birthday, not here on what will be its 15th soon.

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» Saturday, September 26, 2020
Let There Be Light...and Danish...
This weekend ended with an announcement: we have finally watched all 261 episodes of the original Perry Mason. I guess it's time to go hunt up The Mandalorian on Disney+ and see what all the fuss is about.

In better news, my sister-in-law (so far) is better and should be going back to rehab soon. I hope after this they take better care of her!

The two highlights of our weekend were going out to lunch at Olive Garden with a portion of "the lunch bunch" on Friday (Alice, Ken, Aubrey, and Ken's sister Debbie) (James had gotten two restaurant gift cards for his birthday and we used one today, including buying Olive Garden's take-home $5 entree—we got spaghetti and meat sauce) and having Hair Day on Saturday. The latter was funny because Publix had their Danish on sale buy-one-get-one-free, and of course what happened: several people showed up with Danish! However, what was funnier is that we all picked a different kind: we brought maple, Lin got apple cinnamon, and someone else brought raspberry. So we had an assortment after all. Alex made breakfast sliders that were so good even I ate one (after giving James the eggs, of course—cooked eggs, ugh!).

On the way home from Olive Garden we saw a memorial billboard to Gale Sayers, who died this week. I don't know anything about football, but Brian's Song will remain in my memory forever.

Saturday we also had a trip to Lidl and I vacuumed—much fun, eh? It was at least more fun than Friday's visit to Kaiser for prescriptions and to Walmart to replace one of the burned-out floodlights in front of the garage. (Get LED lights, they said. They last forever, they said.) James replaced it immediately when we got home and I was quite upset that after it lit the first time, it didn't seem to go on again. However, when I went out at night, the photosensor did catch my movement and turn the light on. So the only thing I can think of is that Walmart (they are Walmart-brand floods, which have the motion sensor built into them, for the same price as the brand-name floodlights) has adjusted them so they only go on in the dark and not during the daytime, which I agree is much better. The original other bulb goes on any time day or night.

Anyway, the autumn decorations are now all up...just waiting for the temps to go down permanently instead of jacking up and down like they always do in the fall. At least it's not 90°F like it was last year, well into October.

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» Saturday, September 19, 2020
Judgments and a Judge Passed On
The good parts about this week, and weekend—including the joyous news that on Wednesday it was 100 days until Christmas, having Tin Drum for dinner on Thursday, James' appointment with his cardiologist going well, and, best of all, that it was cool enough to open the windows and doors, with a great breeze (and there were ordinary things, too, like the exterminator coming to head off the cooler-weather insect invasions and buying new frying pans at Bed, Bath & Beyond)—were completely overwhelmed by the sad news about Chief Justice Ginsberg, and also my sister-in-law ending back up in the hospital. Will you tell me how in the name of God's green earth that a woman in rehabilitation for an amputation, who should have been watched day and night, ended up with a UTI so bad it caused sepsis? And this is the second time it's happened while she has been hospitalized/covered by rehab. The Veteran's Administration medical care in this country is a farce. It really hasn't changed in one hundred years, when the Coolidge administration had it investigated for gross abuse of the system (people earning an annual salary for only working four days in the year—not in a week or a month, but four days only in one year—and orderlies selling the gold intended for fillings for veterans' teeth). Last time I was in a VA hospital it stunk of urine and feces.

It was bad enough inattention from the VA caused her to lose her foot in the first place!

As for Ruth Bader Ginsberg, what changes have taken place during her time in the court! These are freedoms we need to cherish and keep. God bless, Your Honor.

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» Sunday, September 13, 2020
A Varied Week

Well, what followed DragonCon was a series of interesting events (but at least not interesting in the Chinese sense).

On Tuesday, while I was dipping in and out of "Star Trek Day," I took down the master bedroom curtains, washed them, washed the windows, and did something about the window shade on my side of the bed (finally). The spring broke on it some time ago, and for many, many months now when I opened the window I just rolled up the bottom of the shade and secured it with a large paperclip on each side. It occurred to me just recently that we had a window shade we cut for James' "man cave" and had never put up; it's been propped up behind the door of my craft room since...well, you don't want to know. I tried it. It fit. So now I have a working shade again and the curtains are clean. (I have saved the broken shade; it's back behind the craft room door. It would be fine down in the "man cave" since James doesn't open the windows, but we can't get to the window now with a shelf full of modeling things in the way, and we never put the mounting hooks up anyway. Ah, well.)

Since it was cloudy out Wednesday morning, I put up the main autumn decorations outside: leaf mailbox cover, leaf wreath, fall banner, fall basket. Also did laundry and installed a "shelf" over one of the power outlets in the garage. These will be used to hold the rechargeable lights I found for his power chair if we have to take it out at night. I also put something away in his truck, and thereby hangs a tale:

Thursday James headed downstairs, got in the truck, and headed for physical therapy. Well, no he didn't. The truck wouldn't start. I should have simply told him to take the car, instead I just grabbed my pouch and took him there myself. On the way we discussed what to do with the truck: we figured we'd just call AAA and have them replace the battery. After all, it was five years old...

Well, no, I realized as I drove home, no it wasn't. The starter died last year, and they replaced the battery along with it. The receipt from November 2019 was in the glove compartment. So I called up the mechanic, who told me, sure they'd replace it free; it's under warranty. I told them I thought it was because the door didn't close properly when I'd put something in the cab. He told me that if it was just the light that had drained the battery, maybe they didn't even need to see it; if I could get it jumped off and then keep it running for awhile, the alternator would recharge the battery.

As I once again considered calling AAA, up the street comes our neighbor Gary, who walks his little daughter in the stroller every morning. I hadn't jumped off a vehicle in a dog's age, so I asked if he would help. We already had jumper cables, and the car...

Annnnnnd it worked. I locked the truck and left it running outside and just was about to take Tucker walking again (he got shorted on his first walk) but realized a whole hour had gone by and it was time to pick up James. Did I dare? Yes, I did, although I don't feel comfortable driving the truck; I dressed and went to get him. Just in case, instead of going directly to shopping, we drove home, turned it off, he changed clothes.

Yay. Restart. Still working, so far...

On Friday we had lunch at Top Spice [Thai restaurant] for the first time since the lockdown. Everyone likes Top Spice, so we had nine people, which was within safety guidelines. We also stopped in at Barnes & Noble (didn't buy any books; they don't have a thing I want) and at Hobby Lobby.

Did a bunch of other little things on Saturday including vacuuming the whole upper story and all the dust bunnies under the bed, and then it was Sunday and chore day (backed up my hard drive, too). So it was a varied week.

Big Thanks again to Gary for helping out!

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