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 yetanotherjournal (at) mindspring (dot) com

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» Sunday, April 23, 2017
And Then the Deluge

We slept in this morning, and then James had to get to work restocking his homemade burritos. Yay me, I got to go out grocery shopping. I went to Costco for milk and popcorn and mushrooms, and bought a copy of Rogue One and the book White Trash. It had rained before we went to bed last night and it was spoiling for rain again this morning, the sky oppressively grey and low. From Costco I went to Kroger since they had yogurt, paper towels, and pork chops on sale. Just as I pulled in the driveway it started to rain!

Spent the afternoon listening to the rain drum on the roof—we had several spates of "Georgia Monsoon Season," with the windows getting soaked as the wind lashed water at them—adding stuff to the Netflix queue, including The Secret Life of Pets. We watched that at suppertime: it was cute and has some good chuckles, but I thought overlong. The budgie, Sweetpea, does get to participate in the adventure, but he's the only one of the critters who doesn't talk. How odd.

Later watched the first episode of The Vicar of Dibley off Britbox and then Call the Midwife, which had a "loss" theme tonight. Thankfully one of the losses was not Shelagh's baby! Right now I'm watching a special called The Secret Life of Pigeons, which has been fascinating: how they study their homing instincts, how pigeons have served man (and not just in squab dishes), pigeon shows,  their social habits, etc. And we even saw baby pigeons.

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» Saturday, April 22, 2017
Adventures on Saturday (Evening Edition)

James was much refreshed after his nap and we headed up to Town Center eager for our supper. We returned to the Fried Tomato Buffet and enjoyed the Saturday night specialties: chicken and dumplings (which was quite good), shredded barbecue pork, and pork ribs. I also had more of the cucumber and tomato salad and some olives "straight up."

We stopped at JoAnn afterwards as we had six excellent coupons which we used on useful things: all Command products. 😊 And then we decided to check out the new Thinkgeek store at Town Center Mall. This has only been open for a couple of weeks; the initial store opened up at the Mall of Georgia. It's been a popular online site to find fannish things as well as cool gadgets for years.

Our first goal was finding the elevator at the mall. This is the first time we've been to Town Center since James had gotten the power chair. There's no real reason for us to go anymore since Waldenbooks and BDalton have closed. Even the Lindt store is gone. We figured it would be near the Food Court and were correct. Thinkgeek was just past the Food Court going toward the Sears end of the mall.

We were actually a bit disappointed because it was mostly fannish stuff. Now, it was cool fannish stuff, but we aren't in the market for action figures and other geegaws that we have to dust. And I have no idea why everyone likes those Funko Pop figures with the huge heads. If I was collecting, I'd want something realistic.

They did have a couple of cool gadgets off in a corner. One was a Tesla watch. The second hand is on a tiny, separate dial, and at the top of the watch are two tiny "vacuum tubes" that you can turn off and on. Nifty!

Since we were there, we also checked out the Disney Store. They had some really neat action figure sculptures from Star Wars. The Rey was especially keen. We didn't see a Han Solo, but they do have one, but no General Leia! (But there's two Kylo Rens—hissssss...) Checked out the Animator's Collection dolls; I'm not a doll person, but if I was, I'd definitely bring home Lilo or Merida; I love the expression on the latter's face—she looks as if she has the very devil in her!

Also stopped at Teavana, which is a very expensive tea store. James was really interested in their chocolate peppermint tea, but on discount the tin was $30!

On the way home we had dessert at Bruster's Ice Cream and then drove home with the windows down; another perfect cool night.

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Adventures on Saturday (Morning Edition)

One feels so much more like doing things when one gets a decent night's sleep and doesn't have to be up in the dark. I love sleeping dark to light. Daylight Saving Time can go hang itself.

Once Tucker was walked (which James usually does on weekends) and breakfast was eaten, we were off on an expedition. The container I bought for my almonds was not large enough, so I wanted to go back to the Container Store for one that would fit. We actually picked up several, for the almonds and cashews James puts into dinners as well.

When we got done next door at Barnes & Noble—checked out the magazines and I bought a book about creative illustration with one of my coupons—we headed off to Trader Joe's on Roswell Road and had a surprise when we parked: they have moved Penzey's Spices next door into a smaller store. It actually rather suits Penzey's better as the other store was much larger than they needed (and I'm sure the rent is much cheaper). We picked up a small lunch at Trader Joe's (a tuna wrap for me and turkey for James) and stocked up on chicken apple sausage and miso broth and a few other goodies. We also went into Penzey's for some Chinese cinnamon and sweet curry.

At the end of the parking lot is a dog boutique. This is where the gentleman at the Farmer's Market bought the freeze-dried duck hearts that so entranced Tucker one Saturday. So I walked down there while James moved the truck. Yow! I couldn't afford the freeze-dried duck hearts, so I got turkey hearts instead.

I-285 was poking along, so we headed off via surface streets, a much pleasanter ride past the big houses surrounded by lush lawns and big overhanging trees of Riverside Drive and Heards Ferry Road. There's a stone home on Riverside Drive that I much covet, but then I've loved stone homes since I saw the beautiful ones in Pennsylvania.

We had been able to have the truck windows open early this morning, but it was too hot by the time we headed home, so James came in rather the worse for sun and sacked out in the recliner for a couple of hours. I used the time to watch four episodes of Make Room for Daddy, including one featuring Dinah Shore and her daughter Melissa.

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» Friday, April 21, 2017
Ping-Pong Friday

Nearly 10,000 steps just doing errands today!

Up at eight, ate breakfast, walked the dog, stripped the bed, then:
  • CVS with 30 percent off coupon; headbands and Breathe Rights
  • Kaiser to pick up thyroid medication; they were the quickest stop—my scrip was ready before I finished in the ladies' room
  • Visionworks to get my current pair of glasses straightened and to get the spare pair fixed. Guess what; the salesman lied to me (surprise—not!). The "insurance" on the glasses only lasted one year. He told me it was for the life of the glasses. However, they had the same frames in stock, so she gave me 40 percent off because I had AAA, and they just popped the old lenses in the new frames
  • The bank for cash
  • The library booksale at the Northside Library; I found exactly one book (this is a small book sale; sometimes they have lots of goodies and sometimes none), The Oxford Companion to Children's Books (which has exactly six lines about John Verney—humph!)
  • Tin Drum for lunch (I had credit, so I ate for $3) and reading of same book
  • Petco with my $10 off $30 coupon; the dog food was on sale, so I was able to get two bags of it, some dog treats, and even millet for Snowy, all for $22
  • Costco for gasoline
  • The post office to mail Emma's (late) birthday gift 
When I got home I put the bedclothes in the washer, and then took a nap!

Before James got home I took Tucker out for another walk, put the bedclothes in the dryer, and put the fresh sheets and the comforter back on the bed.

We had supper at Uncle Maddio's and then did the shopping at Sprouts (some nice meat deals, Vidalia onions, and even Italian wedding soup for Sunday supper) and Publix (twofers, turkey thighs, yogurt, and assorted goodies). Once the groceries were put up, we took Tucker out one last time, and viola (as Snagglepuss would say), lots of steps.

Now I'm ready for bed.

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» Sunday, April 16, 2017
Easter Ease

It was a lovely, relaxing day. We slept until ten (of course we didn't go to bed until two, so it wasn't the sleep-in you might think). James walked Tucker whilst I sorted my meds for the week, then we had breakfast and I put on EWTN where the Stations of the Cross droned in the background while I tried to make order out of chaos. I finally got the winter decorations put up—yes, I've been slothful, but I just haven't had the heart or the time to take it all down (and puzzle-piece it back into the box, which is the most difficult part)—and put up the spring decorations, which are easy, because there are only a large clear shoebox of them. I'm afraid that I just can't get all het up about spring, except for the filigree-type china sheep. I also got the Christmas gifts off the hearth and put where they belonged. We'd completely forgotten we received a Regal Cinemas gift certificate; we could have gone to see Rogue One after all. Oh, well, I am off tomorrow, so maybe I can pick it up then. Someone—maybe it's Target—has it for $20 on BluRay.

At noon we watched Easter Mass from the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in DC. Much beauty and pageantry, and a lovely service. They are having a new dome installed with what looks like an absolute magnificent mosaic on it. Afterwards we watched Easter things: the Addie Mills story The Easter Promise, Here Comes Peter Cottontail, and finally Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

We had shrimp grilled in butter/garlic/chive sauce and linguine for supper, but we skipped the dessert. Somewhere during the afternoon I brought out our Lindt chocolate bunnies and both of us ate the whole thing, so we had our dessert before our supper. 😀 The chocolate silk mini-pies will have to wait till tomorrow or a more prosaic meal.

We watched Make Room for Daddy as well. I think James is quite enjoying them, although some are better than others. One story about Terry's friend who had neglectful parents was very pointed along with the humor, but the one about Danny thinking Kathy will be jealous of a woman appearing with him in Pittsburgh was kinda eh. And the finally it was time for Call the Midwife, in which we learned Sister Ursula's motivation, which explained a lot about why she was so strict and bitter. I felt quite bad for her by the time she left. She had forgotten she was there to serve Him and not "them."

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» Saturday, April 15, 2017
Canine Pursuits and British Absolutes

I can't even recall the last time we went to the Farmers' Market, but it was a cold day. Tucker had run out of his "magic dog cookies" ages ago, and since it would be cool this morning we decided to go, but be brisk about it since James' club meeting was also today. We decided to take Nature Boy with us, and he did certainly enjoy the entire trip, but supervising him is a full-time job for me. By the time we got there, there were no parking spaces on Powder Springs Road or around the square, so we just parked in back of Johnnie McCracken's Pub in the municipal lot (free on weekends) and walked.

Tucker is the Elephant's Child; he has "'satiable curiosity" enough for two dogs. He was very interested in the doors to an empty storefront that appears to be becoming another tiresome bar, so heaven only knows what has been going through them. Once we got to the square we cut across Glover Park, where entrants for a 5K were gathering. Friendly people! And then when we got to the market itself, O heaven! Other dogs! Labradoodles, mutts, a very elderly Golden retriever, a young Schnauzer, rescue greyhounds, and all sorts of canine acquaintances to touch noses and rear ends with in proper canine greeting fashion. Two little kids asked us about Tucker, we talked to the lady who runs Big Daddy dog biscuits (so we have "magic cookies" again), James bought some mint lime mixer, we have scones for desserts, and cucumbers and tomatoes for a salad for Easter dinner tomorrow (menu will be grilled shrimp in a scampi sauce). We sampled lemonade (too sweet) and the scones, but not much else because riding herd on Mr. Sociability kept me on my toes.

On the way back to the truck I ducked into the Local Exchange to buy two bags of Zesty Italian pretzels. Best pretzels ever.

On the way home, Tucker was allowed to do this, which made his day:

James dropped us off and went on to his IPMS meeting; I had better things to do, so of course I didn't do them. Last week I cancelled the disk portion of our Netflix subscription. We hadn't watched a disk since before his heart attack, and I decided I'd rather waste the monthly charge on Britbox, which we could get through the Roku stick I got free from Amazon Vine. At this moment, it was attached to the television in the spare room, so first I signed up with Britbox on the computer, then I signed on via the Roku. James set it up originally so I didn't really play with it much previously.

Then I brought it out to the living room. Trouble is, it works on an HDMI port, and all of ours are filled. But we don't use the small computer much anymore; we just use the disk drive on the small computer to view our Region 2 videos. So I unplugged that and if we want to watch British video we will just have to swap it out. Plugged in the Roku (to both the HDMI and the power source) and taped it to the top of the TV, since it has to be in line of sight of the remote to work properly (it's now sitting next to Judy Hopps), and then turned it on and made it go. For some strange reason, you can't get the A-Z listing of shows on the Roku app, just online, so I turned on Doctor Who ("Spearhead from Space"—Jon Pertwee, of course, and then the first episode of Keeping Up Appearances, which I don't ever recall seeing) and while I was watching I was online and putting shows on a watchlist. Nice selection: Cadfael, The Last Detective, all of Classic Who, Campion, A Touch of Frost, Waking the Dead, Absolutely Fabulous, Blackadder, As Time Goes By, Inspector Lynley, etc. Even some British cooking shows for James, and lots of documentaries, including the late 60s PBS staple, Civilisation with Kenneth Clarke. Have a big wishlist for more, though, especially old things, like Doctor in the House and All Creatures Great and Small. Would love to see some of the classic British cop shows: Z Cars, The Sweeney, Dixon of Dock Green...if they still exist, of course. And The Professionals! I heard so much about that show from Deb and Pat and the others in Boston in the 1980s.

I also finished A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which I enjoyed very much, and, although I hate to admit it, started doing a very late task: while I put up the spring decorations on the porch and in the foyer weeks ago, all the winter decorations are still up in the living and dining room. I just can't muster any enthusiasm for spring ever and this has been the worst yet. So not only don't I have Easter decorations up, I don't even have spring ones up. All the snowmen and silver trees and snow-marked items are gathered on the dining room table to be collected into the box, except for the winter park, which still must be packed away.

When James got home, we went to Longhorn for dinner (just basic entree and salads), our usual, the 6-ounce Renegade. I have to start telling them "medium" instead of "medium rare," as the Dallas Highway location barely shows the meat a picture of the fire. Next we went to Sprouts and picked up a couple of things, including beef and pork bits, onions, and grapes on sale. As James was finishing up the sale there, I ran next door with the coupon I'd gotten in e-mail and bought Tucker another bag of dog food, and got an even better coupon for next week: If I buy two bags of dog food and $2 worth of dog biscuits or a toy, I can get 33 percent off the deal! Of course I stopped to talk with the budgies; there was a cute one there who looked a lot like my sweet little Pigwidgeon. He was burbling quite contentedly near the glass wall of the enclosure.

Then we stopped at Barnes & Noble, but neither of us found anything we absolutely had to have. Our coupons don't expire until Mother's Day, so we've got time. By then we were both pretty tired, but neither of us wanted to go to the supermarket tomorrow, so we went across the street and got the usual: milk, a banana (only need one this week, thank God), a few other things, and two mini chocolate silk pies for tomorrow's dessert. And we are now set for desserts, since we have Lindt chocolate bunnies and Cadbury chocolate-filled eggs to go along with the scones. 😁

Stopped at Baskin-Robbins for tonight's dessert and then it was homeward to walk the dog and watch the Britcoms.

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» Friday, April 14, 2017
Retreat and Rescue

Why can't I sleep deeply like this on workday nights? I slept deep and hard last night, and I believe the only reason I was awake at 8:12 was that I had it in the back of my mind that I still hadn't found the newest copy of "Breathe." (Yes, the irony is not lost on me that I am getting irritated over not finding a magazine devoted to relaxation and mindfulness.)

So I had breakfast and gave Tucker a good walk and then hopped in the car and headed for the Barnes & Noble in Buckhead. I plotted the trip on the GPS this time, since I had a short turnaround time, and it rattled me by taking me the back way (Plant Atkinson Road) which was the way it used to take me to the hospital.

So, finally, the "Breathe" and a "Time" special issue about the first World War, and, to my enormous surprise, two different issues of "Best of British," which I literally haven't seen for years. I had two coupons, and picked up the new paperback copy of The Librarians and the Lost Lamp and also a history of the post office.

The Buckhead B&N literally has more unique items than even the Akers Mill store (especially in the magazines), so I pushed my stay to the limit and then had to hurry home, stopping only briefly by Publix to grab some bread. I was trying not to eat meat today, so arrived home five minutes before noon and hastily put together a blackberry spread sandwich while pulling up the readings for the day off Laudiate. I did my readings, then put on the BBC Lent talks that I had recorded in the past six weeks. This year's theme was Destiny, and my two favorites were the rocket scientist and also the 80-year-old gentlemen talking about old age. I was thinking, though, that the talks weren't quite as inspiring as in previous years. Then I put on some quiet music and read A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which I'm really enjoying—so much that I kept reading long after three.

James suggested we try a new buffet tonight; it was the Fried Tomato Buffet, and the name gave me a bit of pause. And, yeah, a lot of the stuff is fried. However, they have baked chicken and some non-fried stuff, and a salad bar. I was still avoiding the meat, so I ended up eating fried, as that was the only way the shrimp was served. When we got done eating we went next door to Petland to see the puppies (these are the folks with the "designer dogs" that they charge you thousands for), which, despite their price, sure are cute. There was one little shih tzu type puppy who stared in astonishment as James came rolling up in the power chair. What a face!

Anyway, I heard little budgie voices and went up in an upper area where they had budgies, hamsters, rabbits and ferrets. The budgies were in two little glass open-topped enclosures—well, most of the budgies were in one enclosure, and one lone budgie was in the other, and he hated it. He was frantic, pattering back and forth in front of the glass where he could see and hear his flock, but couldn't get to them. Several times he tried to dig his way into the other enclosure. Poor thing! He reminded me of Snowy, with darker stripes on his head, and blue where Snowy is grey. I was trying to get him to come to me, but of course he was just a baby and not tame, and when one of the Petland people came by, I said "He's all alone," and the employee tried to catch him, but he fluttered away, and the guy said, "I'll move him later." But the poor little guy was still running back and forth in front of the glass, trying to get through, and the next time he got close to me and started digging to get to them, I grabbed him and transferred him into the other enclosure. He was so happy; he walked right next to the other birds and started contentedly preening himself. People think birds don't have feelings, but the little guy looked miserable.

Then we went on to Michaels. They were having a 40 percent off on everything regularly priced with a coupon. The last time they did that, I was able to stock up on stuff, but this was a really thin trip: I got a wooden medallion, a magnet for my car, and some small wood blocks for mini-shelves. The other two things I bought (a frame and a pencil sharpener) were on clearance and not covered by the coupon.

We came home through the battlefield park in a soft velvet twilight, the air suddenly beautifully cool as we cut through the trees. I always think it so funny when we come through here on nice nights—we either come home from Town Center through Kennesaw Avenue like tonight or through Church Street, and both these streets are lined by big old homes, some low southern-style homes and others Queen Anne or some permutation of Victorian era, and a lot of them have nice deep porches which the owners have decorated with porch furniture. Some of this is quite elaborate: white rattan chairs with cozy flowered cushions, tables, little table lamps with soft pastel shades, big porch swings with padded seats, potted plants, "fairy lights," etc. The lamps on some porches must be lit by timers because they sit casting soft lights...on empty porches. I understand not sitting outside in July and August when the night air is as hot and heavy as the day air was, but even on lovely cool nights like tonight we never see anyone out sitting on these lush, plush, beautiful porches! Strange.

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» Sunday, April 09, 2017
Learning and Leaving Holmes

Second verse, same as the first: I still ate at home. Saved me the money I spent in the Dealer's Room, and I'll get much longer satisfaction out of that. (It did say there was a buffet in the program book. So why didn't the hotel employees know that?)

Today's schedule (details later):

"From Christie to Reichs: Famous Female Detective Writers"

"Baker Street Babes Podcast," in which they interviewed guest writer Michael Powell (who has spoken to Ray Bradbury and once talked for an hour to Dame Jean Doyle)


"Fandom Studies"

"Beyond Wikipedia" (research sources)

"Cabin Pressure, A-Z" (all about our favorite radio airline, MJN Air)

"Our Last Bow," the wrap-up panel, in which the con staff takes a bow and people air grievances. Still a request for panelists' names to be on the schedule, so people know if friends will be on the panel. I know a lot of the panelists do not use their own names because their fannish interest conflicts with their job/home life, but put their screen names. Also one panelist complained about being filmed although filming isn't allowed. I didn't realize there was an incident in 2015 where two different factions had a conflict at the convention which was filmed and posted on YouTube, showing one of the panel members breaking down and crying. How rude!

Anyway, new hotel is near the airport, apparently freshly remodeled by con time, four different restaurants from casual to formal, plus a "fresh bar" and they will have a food truck on the weekend. Long drive. We'll see.

Home to my family! Snowy sang, Tucker jumped up to be petted, and James fed me chicken and wild rice soup from Publix. He'd repaired the broken towel rack in the bathroom, cleaned the stove, and bought lots of goodies for future meals. Watched America's Funniest Home Videos and then Call the Midwife, with a Little couple expecting a child, and also the story of a new father who was blinded in a warehouse accident, and Patsy making the decision to go home to her dad, who is dying.

We were both crying at the end.

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» Saturday, April 08, 2017
Wall-to-Wall Paneling

Oh, that burns me up! I found out yesterday when I got home that the convention goers didn't have to pay for parking; you could get your parking ticket validated at the desk. All you had to do was show your badge to hotel staff! Nice of you to tell people, Marriott.

Plus, last night I asked a hotel employee if they still had the breakfast bar for the convention. He told me no, the breakfast bar was only during the week. So I ate breakfast at home with James, which was perfectly fine with me, got to the hotel, and discovered—guess what, breakfast bar! When I went to the desk to get the ticket validated I made sure to tell the young woman on duty that they lost a customer that day. Apparently this is new management at the hotel and they are so inefficient that 221B is going elsewhere next year. Unfortunately, to accommodate those who take MARTA and who fly in, they're going to a hotel near the airport. That is a long, lonely drive.

So we were up at eight, I got stuff together, I had oatmeal, toast, yogurt, and milk, I walked the dog, and then I was off. Instead of going to Costco I paid the extra 14 cents a gallon and got gasoline at RaceTrac.

This was the rest of the day; I'll catch it up later:

"The Worst Sherlock"

"Canon 101"

"World Building for Writers"

"Media Adaptations"


"Female Detectives"

Atlanta Radio Theatre Company presented four different stories: a funny short about a guy at the DMV, "Paranormal Investigations" part 4 with a cat protagonist, The Crimson Hawk: "The Widow's Web," and another short, "Multiverse Travel."

"Granada Holmes" (Jeremy Brett's Holmes)

"Stories Through Sound" (ARTC talking about making radio drama)

and finally "Arthur 'Continuity' Doyle."

And more damn traffic coming home even though I left early.

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» Friday, April 07, 2017
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Increased Traffic

So it's now my fourth 221BCon and I have a routine. I sleep late, get my kit together (lunch—because the hotel restaurant/lounge is not only expensive like its Marriott counterpart that does Anachrocon and WHOlanta, but they charge a lot for lousy food like hamburgers and nachoes; if they had decent food like salads and roast chicken it would be different), and then drive over to that side of town after the lunch crowd dissipates and before rush hour traffic starts, which is about one to one-thirty. So I slept until nine, but then had to go to Publix and to Kroger to pick up what I needed for sandwiches, which I then made when I got home. Plus I unloaded the dishwasher, made the bed, walked the dog again.

Now it's time for me to get across town and go get my lunch. I checked the traffic before I left; all green. Except by the time I got to the freeway (it takes 20 minutes), it was all backed up again. Urgh. Now, I hadn't stopped for gas because the line at Costco was out to the road; I had a very short window to get across town, since rush hour traffic on Fridays starts about 2:30. So I had to get off at Roswell Road to get a couple of gallons to make it through the rest of the day (at 40­­ cents a gallon more than near our house), and then I could go through the back (Hammond Drive) to skip the rest of the traffic.

Of course after an hour stuck in traffic, I had old persons' disease, Gottapee. Instead of going to lunch and then hitting Barnes & Noble at a leisurely pace as usual, I went to B&N first to use the bathroom, give the magazines a quick check, and then ran into the Container Store to get a container for the slivered almonds I use on my oatmeal (because they're cheaper if you get them in little plastic containers rather than a bag you can pour from). Only then could I sit down and enjoy lunch at Tin Drum and read From Holmes to Sherlock, the ARC I got on NetGalley.

So I arrived at the hotel in time to get my hair out of wild disarray, pin some fannish buttons on, and be first in the registration line, still glowering over the new parking arrangements. One has to pay for parking now! This is typical of the Marriott people; anything for another buck, even though their high-priced rooms are no better than what the Drury Inn or Staybridge Suites offers for half the price with breakfast thrown in. Checked out the charity auction items, but nothing interesting this year, peeked in the Dealer's Room which wouldn't open until five, and spent the rest of the time chatting to Caran at the ARTC sale table.

My first panel was "Sherlock and Young Adult Books," which is a burgeoning market these days. There are two different series of books about a young Sherlock, another series about his youngest sister Enola, and many homages like the new A Study in Charlotte. Someone (a lady who is a children's librarian in Boston) still remembers the Robert Newman "Baker Street Irregulars" series. I found the first book in that series when it came out and didn't know until recently that there were more of them.

I'm not sure what I expected from "Sherlock Holmes and Science," but enjoyed it. The moderator was a chemist, and he talked about what caused the yellow fogs so prevalent in London in Holmes' day (burning coal; breathing in London back then was the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day). He also talked about Holmes' use of forensics and some of the things they do on Sherlock that are definitely not accomplished by the procedure they show on television! 😊

"Strong Female Characters in Sci-Fi" was next, and of course we had to talk about Rey and Princess Leia and Jyn Erso, but went further back to note characters from Dune and Asimov.
The panelists wanted to get feedback from the half-dozen men in the room on what they thought was a good strong female character—and of course it was the same thing that made up a strong male character. We did discuss that the woman should not have to endure assault and abuse to suddenly become that strong female character. When asked what we'd like to see in 20 years about strong female characters, one lady said quietly, "I don't want this panel to exist. It should be just about strong characters, female and male alike." Exactly.

Again, wasn't sure what to expect about "Villains Need Love, Too." Basically it was a talk about what makes a villain truly evil, and is every villain truly evil, or just "bad" because they are against societal norms (like women who were strong in the 19th century might be classified as "mad" or "evil" or "unwomanly" by husbands or brothers or fathers and clapped into mental institutions); also, why were villains so attractive to us. Basically because they have the freedom to do what they want, while we are restricted, whether by morality or society.

Last of all was "Fandom Generations" (which, sadly, I had to skip the "Joan Watson" panel to see). It was all about the "good old days" before the interenet, back when, as one of the panelists said, you had to save up all year to go to MediaWest Con because that's where the fanzines were and you spent $$$$ on fannish reading for a year because it would be next year before you would meet again. About printed zines and communities of fans finding each other through fanzines and finding friends, and now you can immediately read tons of fanfic online, and you may find writers you like, but you don't actually socialize with them and that's a loss. We got into the early days on Usenet—I didn't even get to mention GEnie!—and newsgroups.

Hey, it's 10:00 p.m. now, it should be clear sailing home, right? Nope. First the ticket payment gadget at the hotel entrance gave the guy in front of me trouble; he couldn't get it to accept his card. He finally pulled out of line. (I watched what he was doing. I think he was trying to put his credit card in the room key slot.) So I get there and the red light is flashing. I push the red light, it goes out, and spits the guy's ticket back at me. I can't stop to give the ticket back to him because some honking big pickup truck is behind me blocking the whole road. So I put my ticket through and then pay with my credit card, but I still have the guy's ticket but if I don't go through the gate fast enough the gate will close again and *I* will be stuck. So I just left it on top of the ticket machine and went. I hope he got it back!

On the way home the traffic was like normal daytime traffic (not rush hour, just lots of cars). At 10:15 at night! Are you kidding me? Made it home so tired from ticket machine and traffic that I pretty much read e-mail and then the both of us went to bed.

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» Thursday, April 06, 2017
The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...'s late afternoon and partly cloudy, very windy, almost at the end of a very strange week of storms and contradictory weather.

I am thinking...
...about this week, which started out very warm (70-80 degrees F), Monday a day of violent thunderstorms, Tuesday calm, Wednesday more violent thunderstorms for about sixteen hours on and off, and now today, where the temps haven't broken 60!

I am thankful...
...we had no damage during either thunderstorm day. There were tornadoes in other parts of the state, or just collapse from four inches of rain yesterday.

In the kitchen...
...nothing cooking tonight, as it's potluck night. We have to go pick up James' pickup truck, which had to have new shocks installed (the old ones were leaking), and we'll probably go to Dragon 168 to pick up supper.

I am wearing...
...a green short-sleeved shirt and brownish (I call them "tobacco colored" because they have a greenish tinge) jeans and black Reeboks.

I am creating...
...nothing at work! Ever single order I have has some sort of problem. It's an ongoing annoyance.

I am going... try and relax this weekend. It seems like even when we go away for a weekend, like we did two weeks ago, I never fully relax. I don't sleep well in strange beds (and the last one was particularly bad). Actually, sometimes I sleep the best on the futon, even with that lovely foam bed.

I am wondering...
...what to have for Easter dinner. We can't really have ham anymore, because of the sodium, and for some reason I lost my taste for ham long ago. Maybe a nice roast chicken? Or just throw caution to the wind and have something neat like lobster ravioli? I'm not going to work the next day (I need to gauge the Braves traffic online to know how to proceed once there are regular home games (in case you've missed my rantings, some idiot built the new baseball stadium right on my route home; it's already taking me 75 minutes to get home). They had an exhibition game last Friday, but our internet connection died about the time I was supposed to be surveying traffic.

I am reading...
...a really cool (but occasionally strange) book by Robert Macfarlane called The Old Ways, about a man who walks ancient pathways in his native Britain and in other countries (he has been in Palestine and Spain so far). The imagery is lovely.

I am hoping... find something cool but affordable this weekend. I'm thinking about a deerstalker, but I don't want to pay a lot (but not a little, because then you get something cheesy).

I am looking forward to...
...221B Con this weekend. James isn't a big Sherlock Holmes or mystery fan, so it's nice to be with a bunch of people who like mystery books in general and Sherlock Holmes in particular. Only have two "dueling panels," but one is a real doozy: the "Joan Watson" panel vs. the "olden days fandom" panel. I am really torn! There are so many Elementary haters that I want to talk up that series as much as possible.

And the panelists for the women mystery writers panel better show up this year or I'm going to be severely pissed.

I am learning...
...not enough to suit me. I want to learn interesting stuff, whether it's about computers, history, Great Britain, anthropology, art, writing. I do not wish to learn anything more about procurement law.

Around the house...
...quiet while waiting for James to get back from Dragon. We were supposed to both ride over to the car place, but the shuttle guy brought the pickup truck, not the van. No room for me. I'm making Snowy happy and listening to Leo Laporte. Snowy loves his Leo.

I am pondering...
...this year's vacation. There's so much I want to see. But should we play it safe? And how do we keep Tucker from barking in a hotel room? He's only stayed in a cabin. (That was nice. Even the day of snow.)

A favorite quote for today...
Since it's the centenary of the U.S. entry into World War I:
"European nations began World War I with a glamorous vision of war, only to be psychologically shattered by the realities of the trenches. The experience changed the way people referred to the glamour of battle; they treated it no longer as a positive quality but as a dangerous illusion."  .....Virginia Postrel

One of my favorite things...
...Elementary, which I think I will go back to watching! I get behind because when I get home from work most nights I don't want to watch anything. My eyes hurt and my glasses hurt.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
221B Con, where I can revel in literary conversations.

A peek into my day...
...Tucker waiting for cookies. He's always waiting for cookies.

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» Sunday, April 02, 2017

We had Hair Day Saturday morning, stopping at Publix beforehand to both get our contribution and grab some twofers. We had a lively crowd today, and because it was Colin's 26th birthday, we had a cake and presents. The lunch centerpiece was salads (chicken, crab Louis, fruit, and potato), so we had sandwiches and there was also a cheese and cracker plate and a relish tray.

We were going to drive home, drop off the groceries and the remainder of the bread we brought for lunch, and then go to the Akers Mills' Barnes & Noble. Well, James's been having trouble with gout in his left elbow, and now the arch of his foot was hurting in the same way. He wasn't in any condition to go out, but didn't say anything about it until we were on our way home, when the pain started to worsen.

So we were home for the rest of the afternoon and evening. He had to take some medicine that the doctor gave him for flare-ups and pretty much had to lie out the remainder of the night. He slept a lot of it, and didn't even notice when I took the dog out the last time. I just chilled and read some magazines and watched Father Brown, Rosemary & Thyme, Keeping Up Appearances, and As Time Goes By. Father Brown was a Christmas episode which I wish I hadn't missed the beginning of.

We slept a full nine hours last night and both woke up refreshed, James with no pain in the foot. Glad the medicine helped! We had a quick breakfast and then ran two errands and the trip to Barnes & Noble. The first errand was stopping at Nam Dae Mun, the mostly Asian market on Spring Road. We needed more low-sodium teriyaki sauce and also black sauce, sweet sauce, sesame oil, and ginger tea. The second errand was to Costco to get gasoline and then restock eggs, milk, mushrooms, and liquid soap (also picked up more popcorn and a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them—geez, when's Rogue One coming out; everyone's talked about it so much I want to see it).

Lunch at Uncle Maddio's pizza and the trip to Barnes & Noble were much more fun, even if I didn't buy anything at the latter. James got the new 1632 book. Alas, they still don't have the new "Breathe" magazine. Looked at the spring "This England," but I can get a year's subscription to the digital version for less than the price of one print edition. I can do this with "Breathe," too, but I don't get the extras that are in the print edition.

Did see a book I ordered when I got home, because it was simply more affordable that way. A World Remade, the story of the United States in World War I. I have been waiting for a book like this. Thursday, the 6th, is the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into "the Great War." What I was really hoping for is that someone would do a book just about homefront WWI. There are a bunch about World War II (I have at least a half dozen of them, like Daddy's Gone to War), but our total immersion in the first war fascinates me. People could see WWII coming, but how did we get involved in WWI? This has interested me since I read all those old kids' series books that used to be on, the ones that predated Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, like Grace Harlowe and the High-School Boys and the Campfire Girls and Ruth Fielding: once WWI came along every single one of those kids' books had wartime plots, with the girls acting as nurses or hospitality house hostesses (the precursor to the USO) and the boys as soldiers. This book, I note by the reviews, does have some explanation for that.

Anyway, the summer temperatures have done the usual number on my GI system, so after we were delayed at Costco we came straight home, where my bathroom sojourns were interrupted by enjoyable moments watching The Queen's Castle on PBS. LOL. If I think I have trouble with sixteen clocks and timers during "spring forward" and "fall back," I had to feel for the Windsor Castle clockmaker, who has to adjust 432 clocks twice a year! Loved the segment with Prince Philip showing the filmmaker around the "Home Park," where the estate has two different herds of cows, a deer park, and other neat things. He'd shake his head at the photographer who wanted to film him entering the Land Rover and comment about it every single time.

Soup for supper and a new season of Call the Midwife starting: I wanted to beat the living daylights out of Lester. I'm not sure about Sister Ursula; she reminds me of the nuns of my childhood, stern and inflexible. Her sternness seems very prideful and that is unbecoming of a sister of the Church.

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» Sunday, March 26, 2017
To Those We Leave Behind

May have slept better last night, certainly didn't sleep long enough. My eyelids feel like they have bricks on them. Nevertheless, we were up at 9:15 to get dressed/start packing so we could get breakfast before the buffet shut down. Damn, no French toast again. This time I had extra oatmeal.

The younger crowd was still occupied in a new game of Betrayal, but some folks were already heading out, like Jerry and Sue. When we got done with breakfast, we rushed back to the room and finished packing, stuffing as much as we could in the suitcase (since we bought the pants and underwear, the thing was packed; I even had to unzip the gusset) and moving everything forward and out as we worked, then finally towed everything into the common room, where we packed up the leftover cookies and noshed on a few fruits (well, more than a few; James had six tangerines). I guess we need to have a game night to whittle the cookies down; the hotel also provided us with their cookies daily. I then went to check out and make reservations for next year, plus to make a reservation for the day of the eclipse. Helen will be in the area of totality, if just for a minute or two, and a bunch of folks in the group had already made reservations as well (the Spiveys, the Butlers, and Charles that we know of). Shari came by to say goodbye while I was there. She usually stays over Monday, but said with everyone gone it would be too lonesome and she could use the money instead of the time off. She has to drive all the way back to Birmingham.

Juanita and David asked if we wanted to join them at Wendell's for lunch, and we pretty much thought it would make a much better experience than last night. 😕 So we loaded up the truck with their help, and put the tarps on because it was very cloudy and threatening of rain, then went back inside to say our goodbyes. Gave everyone left a hug and then headed down to the diner with the truck looking like a funky Conestoga.

Boy, it was crowded! Everyone must come here after church! We almost didn't find a parking space, then had to wait a little while, but were soon seated. James and David and I had the Sunday lunch special (we had chicken and David the meatloaf) and Juanita had their fish one more time. She says their fish is very lightly breaded and is super moist. She was still sorry about having to make a fuss last night, but eating dry foods cause her a great deal of pain.

Then lunch was over and we parted and headed off. James stopped for gasoline at the Ingles in Cleveland, and a little later for a Coke Zero in Dawsonville; otherwise we went nonstop from Wendell's in Sautee to the vet in Dunwoody. Of course since we put the tarps on, there was a simple spatter of rain and nothing else. The sun came out by the time we reached our exit.

We always arrive at the vet from Helen needing to use the restroom and this time was no exception. As I washed my hands, I could hear Snowy calling and he was in full chirble as I came out to the reception desk. We got him settled in the carry box before Tucker was brought out; he came out from the back like a steam engine dragging the vet tech behind him, right to me bouncing up and down until he noticed James. Paid the bill, which merely made me scream (I expected it; it included a checkup and shots, too, plus bathing and claw clipping for Tucker), and the tech helped us out the truck and getting the tarp off the truck bed so we could put in the bird cage, once more wrapped in a plastic garbage bag. We were so intent on this and on getting home that we didn't notice that we left Tucker's blanket and his fox behind, and Snowy's cage cover, until after the vet was closed. I left a message for them and guess I will have to stop tomorrow on the way home.

We were exhausted when we got home, from lack of sleep and the sun, but did get everything out of the truck except for a couple of things from Walmart that are in the "trunk." Was going to wash the clothes in the suitcase and was so tired that I gave up on it. They're in the washer, anyway. By the time we got everything settled it was suppertime, and James made something with eggs and I had leftover pork chop and potatoes, and we watched last Thursday's Masterchef Junior. It amazes me what they have these kids make! Not just good food served in a nice manner like at the diners we ate at, but "presented" like a piece of artwork. Seems silly as long as as the food doesn't look like the dog's dinner. Then I put on three of the four Make Room for Daddy episodes that recorded last week, where the kids talk Danny into proposing to Kathy, and then an episode about their honeymoon with the kids, and another with Terry not wanting Kathy to take over her household duties.

Sort of spent the rest of the evening in a funky daze. In fact James fell asleep for almost all of the Danny Thomas stories. Had North Woods Law on, as I didn't think James would be interested in the Brontë sisters and recorded that instead.

And now our wonderful weekend is over, again all too soon, and it's time for bed.

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» Saturday, March 25, 2017
Other People Meet at Bars, We Meet at Bookstores

Well, slept a little bit better, but not much; still the hip problems and had to get up at seven to use the bathroom and then hoped to get back to sleep. When I did get back to sleep, it was a Louisa May Alcott-like dream where I was someone sent to take care of a young cousin and didn't find out until I got there that I had to stay a month. I was so upset in the dream that I called out and scared the family dog. Thankfully the alarm rang.

Came into the conference room to find a big table almost full of folks eating; we got our own food from the breakfast area and brought it in and helped clear a space for Lin as well. No French toast this morning, so I had extra regular toast. (I see the curse of A Discovery of Witches goes on.)

During the end of breakfast, Alice and Aubrey were talking about going to a little bookstore in Cornelia that we'd never heard of. After they left, I asked James if he wanted to try to go to it, too, and John Campbell was interested, as well. So we rushed into our room to finish getting dressed and grabbing money.

Because we were in the truck, John unfortunately couldn't ride with us, so he was following behind. Cornelia was about a half-hour's drive away, turning left at the big field where a big herd of Holstein cows are always grazing. It was cloudy again today, but not quite as chilly as yesterday, so we just brought our flannel shirts in case. Didn't really need them today.

Unbelievably, we caught up to the Spiveys about a third of the way there, until we got to someplace where the police were escorting a long ride of motorcyclists; we and John ended up between the police cars and the motorcycle riders, so we pulled over until the latter passed. A little further on, as we approached the Walmart, for no reason John got in the turn lane and turned around and went back. We hoped there wasn't a problem back at the hotel.

The GPS led us a merry chase as we got into Cornelia, which is a fairly large town with chain stores and a megachurch called the Torch, telling us the bookstore was on a street around the corner from the public library. It was, in fact, in a shopping center before the public library, a tiny little place that was also a notary public. And, sure enough, the Spiveys were there.

I didn't find anything (all that I was interested in I already had; they had a pristine copy of The Little House Cookbook!), but James got a nearly untouched three-volume set of the history of 20th century sea power for only $30 and another book of interviews with fighter pilots. Then we were all feeling peckish, so we went to a place that the elderly lady running the store recommended, Fender's Diner. This had an old diner vibe and was definitely a vintage place that is well-beloved by the folks in Cornelia. It was a nice lunch, too! I had roast beef and onions au jus with onion rings (truly I will need to pay) and James had a hamburger steak with vegetables.

We'd decided that when we finished at the bookstore we were going to detour to Clarkesville to go to The Art-Full Barn, which is part pottery shop and part comic shop and part art shop and part model shop, and Alice and Aubrey couldn't resist an art store. They used their GPS and we used our phone, and we made it there first, despite the phone telling me initially that we were going in the same direction. Whatever, we made it, and I had to go out and admire the animated metal pinwheels in different colors and styles that are out front. They remind me of the metal sculptures made by Aunt Meg in Twister. Really, they are not so expensive; the most expensive one was $150.

Alice and Aubrey did indeed enjoy this store, and so did Ken, who stocked up on comic books. James also found a comic, and, although the model department is now very small, he got two models. I bought a set of oil paints.

The Spiveys went on home, but we continued onto Cleveland and then turned back toward Helen so we could stop at the Mount Yonah book store. Surprise! Ron and Lin, their son Neil, Bill Ritch, and Charles Rutledge were already there. Some folks meet at bars, we get together at bookstores (and I do still miss those Friday nights at the Borders Books on the East-West Connector!). Bill had turned up a really neat find: there's no copyright on it, but it's a hardcover copy of Swiss Family Robinson with an inscription to a person for Christmas 1918! The pages are browning, but it's in super condition. (He let me look at it back at the hotel. I thought I had a complete version, with a different translation, but no, what I have must be still abridged, because there are some parables Father tells the boys that are not in my edition. Franz is called "Frank" in this edition, but I was delighted by the footnotes, that explained to the evidently younger reader what things like trigonometry and oil lamps are, and how when the book was written there were no trains. Plus it still has the color plates!)

Anyway, James turned up a book on fighter pilots and I found the next book in Gerald Johnson's history of America trilogy for young people, the first which I bought here a few years ago, and then on the way out I found a copy of Mercedes Lackey's A Study in Sable in paperback. James bought both for me.

After a short stop at Nora Mill Granary for James to get some white gravy and start on this year's Christmas surprise for Mom and Candy, we finally arrived back at the hotel. Turns out John thought we were going to the Mount Yonah store and turned around because he didn't recognize anything. As he said, a failure in communication. But I swear we said it was in Cornelia.

Saturday night we usually eat at the German restaurant, but James said that this year he thought the German food would be too heavy. Well, there I was typing and the next thing I knew James was asking where we wanted to go for supper, and when I looked around almost everyone was gone. Juanita and David, though, were about to head back to Wendell's for supper and asked if we wanted to come with them. Well, we'd love to!

Unfortunately, Wendell's isn't open for dinner, and another place the desk recommended was only a breakfast place. So we decided to try Cowboys & Angels, which Shari had spoken of favorably. This was downtown, close to where we had parked yesterday.

Cowboys & Angels is a bar/restaurant with live music, so we kind of expected it to be loud when we got there. But when James and I walked in, the sound was deafening: live band playing not-bad music, but amplified in a small space, and with everyone talking over the music, it was awful. When David came in, we asked if he thought Juanita would mind moving outside. David thought it was too loud, too, so we went outside.

The tables and chairs outside are set on dirt covered up by pine bark. James sat down in a chair and immediately started toppling backward as the thin legs of the chair sank into the dirt. David and I had to rescue him, and he found a different chair and took a different place. About then Juanita walked up from having parked the car, and we explained about the music. Of course then we had to smell cigarette smoke, but at that point it seemed the lesser of two evils.

Juanita has lots of health problems, including a penicillin allergy, a cheese allergy, and a shrimp allergy. The latter is so bad that she can't even eat fish fried in the same oil that shrimp has been fried in. But the waitress told us that they did not serve shrimp. Juanita also has some other health problems and had bariatric surgery some years ago. She cannot eat dry foods (like crackers or chicken breast) because it makes her throat seize up and causes a lot of pain. So when she ordered the fish, she told the waitress the only way she could eat it was if it was moist. The waitress assured her they could cook it that way. She was also asked not to include the tartar sauce as Juanita is allergic. The place was very expensive, so James and I split a ribeye and had salads for our two sides and David had a hamburger.

Well, when Juanita's fish came, it was cooked in a very thick sauce and inside the fish was dry as paper. Plus the tartar sauce had been included in a cup and had spilled over the second piece of fish. Juanita called the waitress back and said she was sorry, but the fish that she could eat was too dry, not moist as promised, and that the other piece had tartar sauce all over it. The waitress said she would get her a new batch. James had had some mushrooms as appetizers, with a very light beer-batter coating instead of the dry cornmeal coating, and Juanita asked if when they made her a new batch, could they fry it in the beer-batter instead? The waitress went off for fifteen minutes, then came back with Juanita's cold plate and said if they did her a new batch like that she would have to pay for it again! Can you beat that? We had to talk to the manager and they finally gave her a new fish dish with the fish fried in the beer batter, and it was indeed moist instead of dry and Juanita said it was good, but it was too much work to go through, especially since the food was so expensive.

This place also reminded me why I don't like bars. The restaurant and the surrounding buildings are in a pretty area with paths and metal sculptures and grass and flowers. When we had been there yesterday we noticed two domestic rabbits hopping around, apparently "free range," a black-and-white one and a black one (I swear I'd seen a white one earlier, too, but didn't see it now). Well, while we were eating, the two different bunnies came out to graze; they disappeared when some little kids chased them, but returned and we were enjoying watching them.

The people at the table behind us were frankly getting flat drunk. So when the bunnies came back out, a woman screeched "Oh, look at the rabbits!" and honest to God got up and tried to chase them, in a pencil skirt and high heels. She kicked off the shoes and went staggering after the black rabbit, and of course he hightailed it out of there. She then came wobbling back and was so tipsy she could hardly get back into her shoes. When someone teased her about the shoes, she shouted back than she "had blood on them from beating her husband." (Once back at the table, she admitted loudly that it wasn't true, she wasn't even married.) Mind-boggling. Why people want to get drunk and do stupid things are beyond me.

So by the time we finished eating it was full dark. David and Juanita walked to get the car, and we walked as far as James could go to meet them at the street. Well, the black rabbit had come back and stood there about 10 feet from us, just eating and swiveling his ears back and forth as I talked to him. A few minutes later a guy just walked four feet past him and he didn't turn an ear. He's just put off by drunks. Me, too.

So games were in full swing when we got back to the hotel. I watched them play a game called Anomia, where people who pull a card with the same symbol have to think of an answer before the other person does. That looked like fun. Then I joined in when they played something called Karma. There's a passing resemblance to Uno. And, then, of course, we played a couple of games of Uno! Always fun. I love Uno!

The "kids" wanted to play Betrayal, so we cleared the table for them. James was reading on his baby laptop trying to find a certain model from a model show to show to John Campbell, and I sat next to him and worked on a cross-stitch while watching Oreta, Ron, Lin, Shannon, and Phyllis play a card game called "Once Upon a Time," which seemed to be about making up a fairy tale. Shannon was also working on a beading project. Some folks were still coloring and Bill and Damian were talking politics (Damian has served in Afghanistan, so knows the politics of the military a little better than the rest of us).

The Betrayal game broke up about midnight when the gamers found a flaw in the scenario they were running, the fairy tale ended, and people wandered off to bed. We weren't the last folks out the door, but it was close. 😊

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» Friday, March 24, 2017
All the Colors of the Rainbow and Cards Against Humanity, Too

Well, that was a rotten night. The mattress was too hard and either the air conditioner was too loud or too cold. I'd wake up with my hip hurting, turn over on the other hip, and wake up a half hour later with the other hip hurting, and thus it continued all night into the morning. On a positive note, for once the pillows weren't bad. We eschewed the 200-pound duvet: James used the blanket that was on the shelf in the closet, and I unfolded my trusty shawl scarf all the way and it made a nice blanket. (Today I repurposed it into a scarf as we drove home from supper. I'd rather bundle up and have the truck window open.)

So we were a tad bleary-eyed when we staggered out for breakfast. Picked out cereal, oatmeal, milk, and toast and butter from the breakfast bar, and then the hotel also left eggs, sausages, potatoes, and French toast in the conference room, so we all noshed together there. They have expanded the breakfast area further back, so now there is room to get around to the various stations, but they have the syrup hiding near where people are making waffles. It needs to be where people aren't inconvenienced by its presence.

Now we'd talked about driving back to the outlet mall, but we were so woozy we just gave it up and sat talking and coloring until almost noon. Tony's wife brought all sorts of adult coloring books, gel pens, pencils, and even crayons. Then James was looking for new jeans, so we went to check out the Walmart a few miles away in Cleveland. Thankfully it was cloudy out and we didn't have to face the glare of the sun as well. He did find two pairs, and also a plain pair of black pants, and we picked up a bunch of little things: strawberries for the conference room, the flags I need for outside the house (since we were there so I won't have to go at home), and a few other things. I even found a pretty, light item called a "kimono wrap." I got wild and picked one in bright red.

By then it was way past lunchtime, and we decided to go to Wendell's, a place on the way back to Helen that Juanita recommended. It's just a little mom-and-pop place in an old sort of strip mall country shopping center, and there really is a Wendell, but we didn't meet him. We had just put our orders in—James had a chicken dish and I had open-face roast beef—when Shari and Phyllis arrived. So they sat with us and we all had a jolly lunch discussing early DragonCons and Shari's new play. Then they went on to the grocery store and we visited the antique store next door. Lots of glass vases and Hummel figures and old tchochkes. Juanita found a full set of her wedding china (Noritake), same pattern, in there last weekend. Well, James spied an electric pressure cooker for $30. He's been thinking about buying one, so he figures we will try this and if we like it, we will get a good one, and if we don't, or it breaks, we're not out much. Alice has one and loves it. She cooked a mean chicken and rice one night when we came for dinner.

We dropped off the things we bought at the room, and then went downtown for about an hour. We wanted to buy a pretty trinket to put with the gift we got for James' mom's birthday, and found one in the glassmaker's shop. I love this place; it's full of color and sparkle and glitter. We stopped and had ice cream at the stand near the glass shop; I wasn't really pleased with their coffee flavor.

Then stopped by The Olive Tree to get more White Peach Balsamic Vinegar. We ran out of our last bottle from The Leaning Ladder, and since it is salad season again, we'll be wanting it.soon. We hard a nice chat with the proprietor, could go to the Christmas store because it was closed, and then went on to stroll (or in James' case, roll) on the opposite side of the street. I bought my yearly almond bark at Hansel and Gretel, and we searched for a knife dealer who evidently isn't here anymore. One of the horse carriage drivers had two dogs with him, a medium-sized black shaggy type and a Jack Russell terrier. I wanted to pet them, but just let them sniff me instead. Took some photos of the flowers and the metal horse and ostrich sculptures down near where we were parked before we left.

Went back to the hotel to chat more and work on the coloring project I'd begun this morning as we were talking before the Walmart trip: a wolf in fall colors, using the big Crayola set like I have at home. I'd almost finished when it was dinner time. (I completed it when we came back by adding blue coloring to the feathers surrounding him; winter swirling in after the fall.)

It wasn't until after six that everyone got their wagons in a row (we're saving the ducks for the weekend when it's supposed to rain) and went off to respective restaurants. Ron and Lin, who'd arrived when we were heading downtown, wanted German and went to Bodensee. A few folks went back to Big Daddy's. We joined the contingent going to Glenda's, a tiny place in Cleveland that we passed on the way to Walmart. I was kind of worried because a lot of the country-style places have a lot of fried things and nothing else. Pleasantly, this wasn't like this, although we both blew it by having popcorn shrimp. We will have to be insanely good after this. The company was good and so was the food. The portion was so big I never ate my biscuit.

Once back at the hotel we changed into comfy things and then headed back into the conference room. Shari is a mad Phase 10 fan, so a bunch of folks started that up, but I found myself drawn into a game of Farkle. This is a game played with six dice. Ones and five keep you in the game and then various combinations get you different points—or kick you out of the game. I went out first, but everyone had one last roll and Juanita beat me on points. It was a lot of fun.

The Lawsons arrived just as we were finishing, so Sue joined the game and I went to see how the Phase 10 tournament was going back in the conference room. Instead they were playing Cards Against Humanity, which I threw myself into with a will (Shakespeare, not Robinson), and we were up until after midnight in helpless laughter. Jake won.

And now of course we're all going to hell...but not before we go to bed!

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