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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» Thursday, July 20, 2017
Under Pressure -- And Loving It
So I mentioned last weekend that I had purchased a pressure cooker on Prime Day and on Saturday I made gravy with it (that's spaghetti sauce for you Medigones in the audience 😀 ). But we hadn't used it for its primary purpose.

I have to admit I was a bit in trepidation about having a pressure cooker. My total experience with pressure cookers comes from sitcoms and a Lassie story with Jeff, "The Watch," all in which they explode and get food everywhere and break things.

James has been having some major problem with his knees, and he was up most of the night in pain. So he was home today and feeling marginally better by dinnertime. Earlier he took some boneless skinless chicken thighs out of the freezer to thaw. At dinnertime he used the saute feature to brown the chicken. Once that was done he put in a cup of unsalted chicken broth and a can of cream of mushroom soup (which had quite enough salt in it, thankyouverymuch), then pressed the "poultry" setting and let it cook for fifteen minutes. Upon opening it, the chicken was about 200°F inside and nice and tender. The broth was a bit soupy, so he put it back on saute and thickened the liquid with cornstarch. Then we had it over rice. Oh, yum! Now want to try other things, like pork loin and beef with teriyaki.

The nice thing about pressure cookers, I understand, is that you can use cheap cuts of meat and have a nice, tender result. Looking forward to finding out.

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» Sunday, July 16, 2017
Routine Sunday

I guess I slept better than last night. Except it was filled with bad dreams. It's either one thing or the other.

We were up early enough to get to Kroger ahead of the crowds, walking the dog, but abandoning breakfast, so had a leisurely shopping experience, checking out the fruit and the meat managers' specials and some sales along with our list, and were home about 10:30. Once we'd put all up and had breakfast, we hopped out for just a little while again to pick up a few other things: tea at Nam Dae Mun, a chair cushion for James at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and then gasoline for the truck at Kroger. James has been having terrible trouble with his knees since he sat on a bad chair at work, and today he was just miserable, so we simply headed home after finishing.

Spent the afternoon doing chores: sorting pills for the week, cleaning the bathroom, getting clothes ready for work, cleaning out the kitchen sink, the usual junk. James made more breakfast burritos. I washed the towels and took Tucker outside and read "Blue Ridge Country" (looks like there are a lot of eclipse get-togethers planned in the area of totality).

Barbecue pork and roast potatoes were the supper du jour, and we watched America's Funniest Home Videos, America in Color (the 1940s tonight, with the scenes of the Japanese internment camps just making me angry and sad all over again), and now I have found a show called This Old Horse where a filmmaker is talking about movie horses, starting with John Wayne's horses.

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» Saturday, July 15, 2017
Bring on the New

It's always the same. If we don't need to get up early, we sleep, and sleep, and sleep. But when we need to get up early, we're tossing and turning in bed all night as if we're bopping along to Chuck Berry. So since we had to get up at 6:45 a.m., guess what we did and what we didn't do. Never mind; we made it there, even if we didn't make it at opening of Betsy's Hallmark. (Yes, it's already Ornament Premiere Weekend.) It wasn't very crowded, and we were able to get the ornaments we wanted. James picked up the new airplane (a "Mystery Ship"), Duck Dodgers, and Marvin the Martian. I got two mini ornaments (the cardinal in the pine cone and the Hallowe'en owl), the Hallowe'en raven, Judy and Nick (of course, since there's no such thing as a Betty Roberts/Scott Sherwood ornament), the swan in the 12 Days of Christmas series, Willy Wonka for the library tree, and the beautiful Los Tres Reyes Magos (the three kings), which I thought would go well for Epiphany with my La Befana.

I just realized I forgot to look for the new Marjolein Bastin ornament. Oh, well, those don't usually sell out.

I'm intensely curious now about what they are going to do next year for the 12 Days set. The first seven ornaments, as in the song, are birds (no, I'm not forgetting the "five golden rings"—it has been long believed that the "rings" are actually ring-necked pheasants, and that's how Hallmark portrayed the ornament). I had hoped the fourth day bird would be black—the original song which I learned in elementary school called them "colley birds," not "calling birds," in other words, blackbirds—but I guess they didn't think that was Christmasy. But now we are getting to people: the eight milkmaids, the nine drummers, the ten ladies dancing, the 11 lords a leaping, and the 12 pipers piping (or whatever order they have the last four in; it changes in different versions). Could they somehow stick with birds? The milkmaids could be cowbirds, the drummers ruffed grouse (they "drum" with their feathers when mating), and the pipers could be sandpipers. But what birds dance and leap? So this mystery won't be solved until next year's Dream Book gets released in April.

We decided to try Goldberg's Deli for breakfast because it was the nearest spot open. This was quite good and we had a great waiter (Jake). James was going to have lunch with the guys, so he had only a bagel breakfast biscuit with egg and turkey sausage. He said even the bagel was quite good and he'd like to try an omelet next time. I had challah bread French toast. Oy. Very filling, but excellent.

I hadn't mentioned, but we were in separate cars, since he was heading for lunch and his club meeting. So after Goldbergs we separated, but still went the same way: Roswell Road to East Piedmont, which eventually turns into Barrett Parkway. He went on to Hobbytown whereas I stopped early at Barnes & Noble (I checked out CD Warehouse, but...nothing really). I found the new "Blue Ridge Country," which has an article on the upcoming eclipse, and also picked up, with a coupon, The Stolen Pearl, which is Elizabeth Wein's prequel to Code Name Verity, featuring Julie. Also found a hardback copy of One Hundred and One Dalmatians and a trade paper of Swallows & Amazons at 75 percent off.

I stopped at Academy Sports looking for something, didn't find it, and went on to the Dallas Highway Barnes & Noble because it was on the way home and I wanted to check out their clearance; nothing there. Oh, well.

When I came home I started a different project. This past Tuesday was "Prime Day" on Amazon, sort of a Black Friday sale but in July. The pressure cooker we bought in Helen hadn't worked out (it's possible it just needs a new seal, but it never builds up to pressure), so James was still looking for one. One of the featured buys on Amazon was an InstantPot, a big pressure cooker that was also a slow cooker, rice cooker, oatmeal maker, and it could saute meat before you cooked it in the same pot. I thought it would make a great early birthday gift and ordered it (I also ordered him an early anniversary gift and also a card reader). It came on Thursday and I decided to try it out today just for something basic like slow cooking. I had boneless pork ribs thawed in the refrigerator, pulled them out, and, consulting the manual, set the unit to sauté. I put a tiny bit of olive oil in the container and then browned the pork all over. (Next time I will put the temp on low instead of normal; it started to sizzle and stick the moment the meat hit the metal, but I flipped them over quickly and nothing burned.) Then I shut off the sauté (the manual says the most important button on this unit is the "cancel" button 😀), pulled out the pork, put a teeny bit of water in the bottom to loosen the fond, poured in a small bottle of tomato and basil sauce, put the pork back in, put more sauce in, and left it on "normal" (which is supposed to be low temperature on a slow cooker and is equivalent to 190°F).

The only funny thing about this is that I am so short and the pot is so deep I could not see all the pork while I was sautéing it. So there I was, standing on a stool like Sally from "Dick and Jane" in the kitchen fixing a treat for her dolly (with "Spot" at least looking on).
 
Did a couple of tidying-up items, and next thing I knew it was dark outside and raining. Turns out James' meeting was short and he just beat the rain in covering up the power chair. By the time he got home from Town Center, it had stopped.
 
For supper we went up to Fried Tomato Buffet for the chicken and dumplings and the barbecue pork ribs (well, that's what I went for). We came directly home after that.
 
The gravy was finished in seven hours; it tastes exquisite despite the sugar they put in the base tomato sauce now. (Damn you, Classico!) We will have it for supper some time this week; by then the flavors will have deepened even more.

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» Friday, July 14, 2017
Colonel McKean, Please!...It's Too Hot

Since everyone knows that I sleep late on my day off (well, if I have nothing else going on), I'll skip that part, and the inevitable breakfast and dog walk.

But it was going to be hot, so after that I got dressed and went out as quickly as possible.

First I had to pick up two prescriptions at Kaiser. I read the free "Points North" magazine in the waiting room (neat article about Airstream trailers), so that was soon completed. Then I went to Barnes & Noble in Buckhead since it's been a month and I was hoping on a new "Best of British." Found one, too, and a new "Project Calm" with a seashore theme. At the end of one row I found the magazine "The Horn Book." If you've never heard of this famous magazine, it was founded in 1924 and is the magazine for children's/young adult book reviews. I'd never seen one and picked it up, and it opened immediately to a four page tribute to one of my late online friends, Peter D. Sieruta, who died--is it that long now?--five years ago after complications from surgery. I never met Peter, but I followed his blog, "Collecting Children's Books," and his personal Facebook page, I remember he was just discovering the joys of new home ownership when he passed away. Peter used to write for "The Horn Book" and had just completed co-authoring a book when he died. Weird how it opened at just that place.

It was warm in the store, so I was happy to get in the car and pump up the A/C to drive back to Akers Mill and have lunch at Tin Drum.

Finally I went by Publix and did the twofer thing.

It was not a productive afternoon. I put some things away, but ended up with a sinus headache and finally retreated to the futon for an hour, then got dressed again just in time to take Tucker outside and then wait for James to show up. That few minutes out in the sun with the dog were horrible. It was about 93 and unless you were in the shade, the heat seemed to take the oxygen out of the air. By the time we went to dinner, I was sorry I'd make that choice. All that Chinese food just made me queasy. Brought me back to summer nights when I was a kid and it was so hot in the house I couldn't eat. I'd have a chicken wing or a couple of slices of cucumber and just drink lemon-lime Zarex syrup and water or milk all night.

Been keeping cool tonight and will be in bed soon to be up early tomorrow for the Hallmark Ornament Premiere.

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» Sunday, July 09, 2017
Strong and Weak-End

Friday tipped back and forth between being good and bad. Good was that I got an order done, but by the time I got it done Puli had left. I could have finished earlier if I'd sacrificed my usual lunch hour and took it later, but by noon I had a pitiless migraine and I spent my lunch hour in a dark room. The rest of the evening wasn't bad: we went to Fried Tomato Buffet (mostly for the shrimp) and then James dropped me off at JoAnn with three coupons. I got two more Command containers (which are always useful) and a plug I can use with USB plugs instead of prongs. They also had autumn decorations out. I wasn't fond of most of it, but there were pumpkins covered with feathers (looked like pheasant-type feathers) and also pumpkins made of twisted, fall-colored raffia. Interesting.

We were going to stop by Bed, Bath & Beyond with a coupon, but a huge black cloud had built up while we were at the buffet. The rain started falling while I was in JoAnn (luckily James had decided to cover the power chair while I was shopping), but we skirted it going home and saw a lovely partial rainbow in the process.

Saturday we had a full plate in the morning/early afternoon. James was looking for a model base, so he dropped me in Michaels. Passed by their autumn decorations to check out the wood. The piece was so inexpensive it wasn't worth using a coupon on, so I went over to the jewelry area to buy a fine chain for a project. (It looked like gold in the store, but when I got home I realized it was silver. I'll have to rework the project.)

We finally reached Bed, Bath & Beyond. We decided to invest in one of those carts with the three wheels, because sometimes it's a stretch getting the groceries up the stairs. (I'm going to try using it with the laundry, too. The clothes are pretty heavy.)

It was lunch time by then and we ate at the Corner Bakery Cafe, which is kind of a Panera clone without the bread. They have a "pick two" system as well, and I got a cup of soup (good, but not like Panera's) and some cavatelli in marinara sauce. Great cavatelli, but the tomato sauce is so sweet you could spread it on bread with peanut butter.

Finally we stopped at Barnes & Noble for a little down time. I found a humorous book about decluttering, and James found a new "1632" novel and a magazine. Then we headed home to get cool and assemble a couple of gifts.

At six o'clock we arrived at Longhorn for a nice dinner with friends. Phyllis and Mel Boros' son Robb was in town with his two daughters, Sophie and Ziva, and we were helping them celebrate. We met Robb's friends, a nice couple, the wife who had lived in Warner Robins, and enjoyed a good dinner. We were also celebrating Charles Rutledge's birthday and had cake for dessert.

I had also brought Juanita's birthday gift with me so she could have it for camping. It is a little pouch in the Cunningham (her maiden name) tartan with an angel pin with her birthstone on it. Inside I put a little travel size adult coloring book of wild animals, colored pencils, and a sharpener. She was thrilled, which made me happy; I'd been so chuffed when I found the Cunningham bag. Birthday gifts sometimes are hit-and-miss; at least this was a hit.

As the party was winding down, we noticed clouds gathering outside the window. Radar showed a squall coming, so we hurried out and drove home, relieved to see the sun. Except that the moment we pulled in the garage we heard a "boom" that sounded like a cannon simultaneous with a flash of light. The next thing we knew, it was pouring, the wind gusting out of the north and the water sluicing down the street.

Went to bed relatively early for a Saturday, which brought us to this morning. I had a strangely restless night, waking once because I was cold enough to use the spread (really odd!) and another time to use the bathroom,  having weird dreams I didn't remember. So we both were up rather early and rushed through breakfast to go to Kroger before the next wave of shoppers came. We managed pretty well and were home before 11:30.

While I'd like to report we did something exciting during the afternoon, well...no.  We sorted our drugs for the week and otherwise got ready for work tomorrow. I washed the towels and made the bed. James cooked up some ground turkey and beef for breakfast burritos. I watched a few episodes of Doctor in the House (yes, this series is very old-fashioned and no longer politically correct, but it's still very funny; a shame Barry Evans died so young) and the "Gone West" episode of America. Took a short nap and then James made oriental chicken salad for supper. After the news and a "Grandma and Grandpa" Guy's Grocery Games, we are watching America in Color: the 1930s and are waiting for the new Amelia Earhart special.

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» Tuesday, July 04, 2017
Pops Go the Fourth!
It was a quiet day here at "the Hollow" (well, except for the pops, bangs and twizzles that have been driving poor Tucker mad all day). James teleworked and got about three calls; he got double time for it and built up a little karma (and made up for his doctor's appointment yesterday, too). I slept late and woke up sick, so that Tucker had to wait for his walk.

Things settled down and I was finally able to watch "Making a Revolution" from Alistair Cooke's America (watched the first two episodes last night). About one-fifteen put on 1776 and had a good time singing along, although even after all these years I miss "dancing" with Bandit to "He Plays the Violin." This is the new Blu-ray release and it looks spectacular. You can almost walk right into the picture and be part of the action. After 1776 went back to America for "Inventing a Nation."

Managed to get Tucker out late in the afternoon with a combination of treats and tugging. There were some pretty big pops and booms by that time, and I gave him a little treat each time he stood his ground.

We had our ribs tonight, but were originally in despair of getting them to cook in a reasonable time. James wanted to do them in the oven, but according to all the recipes this takes over two hours, and he didn't "get off" until five! Eventually he did them over the grill on the stove, having done a rub on them last night. Not too bad. Next time we need to do them at lowest temp, longer, with a better foil tent to seal in the flavor. Still moist and juicy. As a side we had gold potatoes with a thin coating of olive oil oven roasted. Forgot completely about the sweet corn, but my teeth probably wouldn't have taken it.  For dessert we had Marie Callendar chocolate satin mini-pies.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, we have been watching the broadcasts of the Boston Pops concert on (and off) television on the Fourth for years. Originally we watched on A&E, back when A&E was about arts and education rather than sleazy reality shows. This was broadcast in conjunction with WCVB-TV in Boston and hosted by Jack Perkins from A&E and Mary Richardson from WCVB. It took them a year or two to work out the kinks, and then it was aces from then on.

Then the sponsorship changed and went to WBZ (which was an NBC station when I was a kid but is now CBS), and most years there has been a simulcast nationwide with CBS—but CBS only showed the last hour, joining in progress the very end of the Pops' famous "1812 Overture" performance and changing the order of the concert performances to plug the latest pop stars and their new albums. Even the year or two they showed the whole concert the Pops themselves were downplayed to promote This Year's New Singing Sensation. Last year's broadcast was probably one of their worst, with the pop music loud, discordant, and intrusive. The only really good broadcast we saw was the year CBS dropped the showing and it was streamed live on the internet.

The sponsorship ended last year and we were faced with a drought of Pops once more, but some investment company stepped in to fill the gap. For the next three years the broadcasts will be on Bloomberg Television, and also streamed live on Bloomberg.com.

Well, so far Bloomberg has blown CBS out of the water (of course, given CBS's dismal coverage, that wouldn't be hard). Everything is back where it belongs and the pop star they had on (Andy Grammer) actually sang some good songs. Guests included Brian Stokes Mitchell, who sang a brand new Alan Menken song, Leslie Odom Jr from Hamilton, and Melissa Etheridge.

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» Sunday, July 02, 2017
In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the A/C...

We really slept in this morning, arising at ten. So much for going to Costco early. Never mind, ate breakfast as always, took Tucker for a walk after letting in his new harness all the way. The old one, a small, was let out all the way; I had to snug this one, a medium, all the way. So he's a big small or a small medium, whatever that means.

We went to Costco for milk and Clorox and came out also with toilet paper, mushrooms, ibuprofin, and Skinny Pop. Tasted "watermelon water" (wish they'd left out the lemon juice), franks and beans, and some type of potato salad which was good but too sweet, and I prefer my potatoes hot and buttered, thanks.

On the way home James stayed in the truck and kept the milk cold while I ran into Dollar Tree for some washcloths, sugarless candy, and more Pears soap. The cashier shut down the register after me, and I asked if it were her lunch break. She said no, it was time for her to go home! I hope I was a good last customer of the day.

We didn't buy much, but it seemed to take hours to get it into the house with the heat climbing into the 80s. I think I took no more than ten minutes sticking a couple of Independence Day stake decorations out front, putting up the flag on the front door, and putting a couple of "Uncle Sam" prim figures on the porch, and by the time I got inside I was lightheaded and badly needing some air conditioning and a drink.

So we spent the rest of the day in the cool, cool, cool of the afternoon; I did the July calendar on the whiteboard on the refrigerator, cut open the cards they were on and put James' iron pills in a bottle for him, made the bed, finished Bright Earth, and watched mind candy in the form of Storage Wars. For supper we had the chicken and wild rice soup.

Today I had some of the cherries I bought Friday. Will  you tell me what in the name of God the cherry growers of the United States have done to the beautiful Bing cherry? As a kid I would wait in anticipation for cherry season—they are my favorite fruit—and then we could only afford a paltry half or quarter of a pound, so I would have to savor those wonderful cherries when I could. I swore that when I was grown up I would buy all the cherries I liked. And until even as late as fifteen years ago, when Harry's Farmer's Market was still Harry's and not a stupid Whole  Paycheck Foods, and I could pick the best cherries out one by one, always the darkest, firmest of the bunch, they were sweet and heavenly, the sort of thing angels sang hymns about.

In this bag at least a third look perfect and feel perfect, and when you bite into them they are so insipid I want to cry. Is this a plot by the cherry growers to get everyone to buy the more expensive Ranier cherries? Whatever is going on, it's horrible.

Tucker has been on the "tranquilizers" two days now and nevertheless we still had to coax him downstairs tonight to go out. There were "poppers" going off that we couldn't hear and thunder and lightning on the horizon. We met one of the neighbors and their new puppy, which looks like a black and white Pomeranian. Tucker walked up to him whining and rapidly wagging his tail, and the puppy's reaction was to jump backward, yipping and growling defensively. They finally touched noses, but when Tucker tried to sniff him a second time, he went back into defensive mode. Too cute.

(Speaking of cute animals, remember the cat I mentioned in last weekend's entry, the one Jessie and Aubrey found in back of the funeral home? Jessie has adopted her. Her name is Fiona.)

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» Saturday, July 01, 2017
Big Bang Weary

Very strange dream last night, or actually this morning; our friend Jen's parents dropped by our house to drop off some of my mother's clothes. What the hell? We have never met Jen's parents, and we did not know her when my mom was alive. Yet they had met my mother; she'd stayed at their house and left some clothes behind. I recognized them, too, especially one of her cardigans. How bizarre is that? Plus in this dream, we had just moved into another house with a small enclosed porch on the front and I was thinking "I can decorate this for Christmas!"

We didn't have any plans for today except going to Petsmart to get Tucker a new harness. The old one was bought when he was younger and now is a little too small. We did this around noon. They were adopting cats today, but Tucker was too interested in the other dogs to pay much attention (face to face with two cats in a crate, he seems a bit astonished). We ended up getting a purple harness and buying a purple collar to match (like Londo Mollari in Babylon 5, he's now "stunning in purple"). Not getting him the whole kit, though; the red leash can stay. Also got some seed for Snowy, and, while James kept Tucker company in the truck, ran next door to Michaels to pick up some Command hooks. To my delight they had fall stuff out! Pumpkins, autumn flowers in different muted hues, containers referencing falling leaves and Thanksgiving, owls and foxes and squirrels made out of brushy stuff.

We took Tucker home and, not wanting to veg all afternoon, decided to have our big meal at lunch and just graze at supper. Thus we drove out to Acworth and had lunch at Longhorn: six ounce Renegades with salads as sides, and bread as a chaser. When we emerged from the pleasant gloom of the restaurant the sky was still mostly cloudy, with the sun peeking around the edges. I "drove" the power chair across the parking lot to Books-a-Million while James followed in the truck, and then we swapped off. Several minutes later James was looking at the magazines, and I was looking at the books when a too-familiar sound came from overhead: the sound of rain pounding against the roof. Looked outside in disbelief to see Georgia Monsoon Season in full swing, an almost solid curtain of rain drumming on the pavement like Ringo Starr at a big concert. It faded out and came back several times, so we just browsed at leisure and shared a frozen hot chocolate as a dessert.

Stopped at Kroger on the way home to pick up a few necessary things, like bread for work.

It's been a quiet evening figuratively: watched part of a Wild Wild West episode, a new Father Brown, and a series about forgotten American history on the American Heroes Channel. However, outside all hell was breaking loose: we could hear fireworks from several directions and thunder was rumbling in accompaniment to lightning on the edges of the sky. Tucker's eyes got very large and, although he did come out with me, he kept stopping and staring, transfixed, in the directions of the noise. When he would do this instead of trying to run back to the house, I would praise him greatly. Not sure if the tranquilizer pills I got him yesterday are having any effect (they're not real drugs, but stuff like chamomile and melatonin). The noise, however, didn't keep him from wanting treats. Afterwards I slipped outside; someone on the other side of the development, I think on Landmark Street, always has these big fireworks. Some of them sound like mortars! And of course they had roman candles, so I enjoyed a short show.

Tucker, though, just curled up in a tight ball on James' recliner and tried to ignore it all. Poor puppy.

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» Friday, June 30, 2017
Mind the Wet Spots

The weather report was right about today: it dawned grey with portents of rain. The weather report had been so dire James had permission to telework. He was already up and working when I got up, and the sky was spitting when I took Tucker out. I ignored it because I had errands to run. First on the agenda was gasoline, so I went to Costco where it was cheap and, at least on a Friday before noon, pretty much empty.

One of the necessary errands wasn't Barnes & Noble, but I stopped anyway. I decided to pick up the "Breathe" List Journal, and also found Star Wars FAQ remaindered along with a book about the history behind the exhibits at Disney World. It was raining in earnest when I emerged as I hopped across the street to get some "natural" doggie tranquilizers for Tucker and the coming ordeal of fireworks. I'd seen these at Petco the last time I went and the cashier said they worked on her dog; she lives near SunTrust Park and they have fireworks after the games. Since it has stopped raining and the clouds were now high, I walked past Party City to go into Office Max and get some black magic markers.

Georgia Monsoon Season exploded as I was picking them out. 😕 Oh, well, it was only water. I was going to stop at Publix on the way home, but never mind that. Got in just as James was having his lunch, so I had mine as well. Didn't do much in the afternoon; fact is I fell asleep on the sofa about quarter to four and woke up in a hurry as James signed off work at five so I could walk Tucker.

Since he was working at home and we could get out of the house quickly, we decided to go to West Cobb Diner for supper. James has been getting out so late on Friday that by the time we get there the wait is pretty long. So we enjoyed our turkey dinners, and then went to Publix. They had chicken and wild rice soup on the bar, so we have Sunday night supper sewed up. Wended our way through the twofers and got some treats for the Fourth—fingerling potatoes, corn on the cob, mini chocolate silk pies—and then stopped for dessert at Baskin-Robbins.

Our last stop was at Office Max again so I could pick up a refill for my old Sheaffer pen. When I was in elementary school, we were provided with pens, pencils, paper, crayons, etc. Once you got to junior high, you had to buy your own. I think most everyone just bought BIC pens and were done with it, but I told my mom I wanted a "real" pen. What she bought me as an elementary school graduation gift was a Sheaffer pen, and thereafter I had to supply the refills for it. I can't tell you how many stories I wrote with this pen! So now it is "inked" again and I can use it for the "Breathe" journal.

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» Thursday, June 29, 2017
The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, JUNE 29, 2017

Outside my window...
...night is coming on and it seems like it's been such a very long day. I can just see the outline of the bird feeder posts.

I am thinking...
...how hard it is to concentrate these days. I made a dumb mistake today by not saving a document—why does Microslop Word make it so difficult to correct margins and formatting?—and had to do half an hour's extra work to make it up. I need so much more sleep these days, and it's so hard to do that on work nights.

I am thankful...
...I have tomorrow off. Sleeping late sounds nice. I think James may be working at home tomorrow as it's supposed to rain all day.

In the kitchen...
...a few dirty dishes. I loaded up the dishwasher today, ran it, and emptied it again. We had potlucks tonight; I had leftover chicken wings and James got something from Checkers.

I am wearing...
...a flowered tank top, aqua shorts, and white socks.

I am creating...
...nothing right now. I'm feeling a bit down. I get these moody spells and they're as bad as summer heat. Tried opening a story to work on it and just sighed and closed it again. Maybe it's because I've been watching Babylon 5 and realize every other person in the titles have died: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Richard Biggs, Stephen Furst, Andreas Katsulas... (and Jeff Conaway from later on).

I am going...
...to try and cheer up tomorrow. Maybe something wonderful will  happen...otherwise it will just rain.

I am wondering...
...if maybe I've been thinking too much and need to do something instead. I got rid of some junk today. That felt good.

I am reading...
...Bright Earth, the history of color in art. This is completely different from what I thought it would be—I thought it would be more like Victoria Finlay's Colour—but it's interesting anyway, all about chemistry and how it affected the colors painters used.

I am hoping...
...summer will stay in the 80s like it's been and not go into the 90s most of the months like last year. I don't like 80s, either, but it sure is better than 90s.

I am looking forward to...
...Independence Day, even if James is working. He gets to telework and gets double time, and we also usually don't go anywhere. We have some ribs to grill and will watch 1776. We did this last year, too, when he worked. It was very quiet; I don't think he got two calls.

I am learning...
...to love naps! Remember when we were kids and struggled so hard against taking a nap? And now we would kill for one!

Around the house...
...still untidy. We have two old chairs and a microwave cart to get rid of, and it seems no one wants them. The clutter of them is making me unhappy.

I am pondering...
...how relevant Babylon 5 still is. The first episode introduces the idea that the people of Earth are turning their backs on the alien races that are now known in in that time, forming an "pro-Earth" movement. Thirty-four years later and that parallel is still ringing true. Sad.

A favorite quote for today...
[when asked if it's worthwhile for humans to be in space]
"No. We have to stay here. And there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics, and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-Tzu, and Einstein, and Morobuto, and Buddy Holly, and Aristophanes, and - all of this - all of this - was for nothing. Unless we go to the stars." . . . Commander Jeffrey Sinclair

One of my favorite things...
...well, you can always watch Babylon 5. It's streaming from a website called go90.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Sleep, I hope. And a bookstore. I need restoration.

A peek into my day...
How about watching some clips of my favorite of the Bab5 actors, the late Jerry Doyle:
The Best of Mr. Garibaldi


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

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» Wednesday, June 28, 2017
A Moving Experience
For some reason, ever since we moved into this building (that's 18 years ago), my organization loves to play "musical chairs" and move people around. This wouldn't be so bad if they moved people around when we weren't busy, like October when no one's funding has come in yet, so all we can do are no-cost modifications and advanced work until we do get funding. But except for one time in fall 2013, we always seem to move in third quarter, when we're busier than a ship's cat with a hold full of rats.

After six nerve-racking months in a big, fluorescent hell of a room in the Williams Building across the street (which is now an exercise room) and two-and-a-half wonderful years in a tiny but all-my-own hall office (no windows) in the Stanford Building, I was finally moved back to my original building, Colgate, last June, the entire escapade which is told here.

Well, in the interim from then to now, a lot of people have changed what branches they are in, so that the branch chief might be in one corner of the third floor, some of the workers on the long hall on the opposite side of the building from the chief, others squirreled in hall offices, etc. The "we're going to have the entire building" idea apparently is still out in Dreamland somewhere (and in the meanwhile there are wide open spaces going a-begging on the first and second floors while people are crammed into cubicles on the third floor), but Management decided that it would sure be nice if people in branches were next to other people in their branches and their branch chief, so for the past three days (and a few days last week when I was teleworking), people's file folders and personal items have been packed up in blue plastic bins and moved to another office (even if it's only three doors down from where they were originally).

Interestingly enough, this time I didn't have to move, so I've been sitting around in the middle of something that looked like an old "Toonerville Trolley" comic strip, with file cabinets jacked up on dollies whizzing by me, and people pushing carts, or plastic bins on wheels back and forth. An area near me (between me and the printer) had been crammed full of old file cabinets just being stored until it was a maze; most were repurposed for offices or remaindered to the warehouse. You can damn near have a dance in that space now. Since my team lead and I are the only one in our branch in Atlanta (the rest of the gang is in Spokane—um, yes, that Spokane—or Cincinnati or possibly Morgantown; I forget), they moved her opposite me and I got to stay put this time. Wild.

When I first moved into this cubicle I was supposed to have the filing cabinet—standard four-drawer black lateral filing cabinet—right in front of my cubicle for my files. Well, it was full of someone-who-shall-remain-nameless's contract files (all one contract, by the way). And so was the filing cabinet to the right of my cubicle. I got a tad huffy and insisted I had to have somewhere to put my files. So [nameless] very reluctantly moved the files in the filing cabinet to the right and I've had that one since last year. This year the moving team was trying to really get everything straightened out during this move—hence the repositioning/excessing of the stray filing cabinets, which had been sitting there for at least three years—and I was told I would have that filing cabinet in front of my cubicle. Well, guess what, this morning, one file drawer was still full. Since the person taking possession of the cubicle next to me is going to need my current file cabinet, and since no one appears to be designated—yet—for the two cubicles to the left of me, I got totally Fed Up, moved the drawer full of files to an empty drawer in one of those other filing cabinets, and then moved all my files to my correct filing cabinet. To add finishing touches I labeled all the drawers and put my wooden name plate—the one I was given when I started here in April 1988—on top of it.

So here I am one year later, finally finished moving. :-)

Oh, and June 18 was my 32nd anniversary of working for the Federal government. I'm not crazy yet!

[twitch]

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» Sunday, June 25, 2017
Chores in Living Color

It was a quiet, albeit busy Sunday. We were up until two, so we slept until 9:30, at least, and James walked Tucker, and we had breakfast. Then we got to work: James had to replenish his supply of breakfast burritos. He used to make them with tortilla wraps, but they were actually too fragile. He now uses the Toufeyan wraps (low sodium, low carb) you get at Publix and fills them with egg, diced tomato in various flavors or Rotel, and low fat ground beef and/or turkey. Sometimes he'll make it with low salt turkey and low salt ham that Boar's Head makes. A couple of weeks ago he made some like egg rolls in a burrito, with bean sprouts and cabbage.

I scrubbed out both bathrooms thoroughly except for just sweeping the floor and not washing it, and then I went downstairs to put together the little bookcase I bought at Big Lots (ironically, it's on sale this week). I noticed it has the little lock screws like the bookcases at Ikea! Once I finished with it, I replaced the old microwave cart in the hallway that's holding various surplus canned goods and cereals with it and stocked it up. It holds more and doesn't stick out as much.

I'm hoping to give the cart to someone who needs it, as well as the two surplus office chairs we have. They're pretty battered, but someone could  use them until they got something better, or put them out in the garage or a "she shed" or carport without worrying if they got messed up. None of them are really good enough for Goodwill; I'm thinking of them as merely "interim furniture" until someone can afford something better.

Got upstairs to find James finishing the last burrito; he still had to put them in bags! I made the bed and started gathering the trash and finally soothed my aching back by lying down.

Sooner than I knew it, it was time for Colour Confidential. Ion Life wasn't coming in too well, but I got to see most of the two episodes. I love Jane Lockhart's color wheel. That's her "gimmick, the color wheel with the boxes, but I love how it works. She fills each of the boxes with something that relates to the person/people she's designing for. Both guys in the second show loved cars, so her color wheel was full of car-related colors and things for cars (a yellow scrub-brush, a blue dolphin air freshener to hang from the rear view mirror, an orange model car, etc.). The previous lady was a teacher, so she had yellow pencils, red crayons, etc. Jane will ask which colors attract their attention and then she tells them how that color will make the room feel (small, large, warm, cool, etc.). Other palettes have featured food (for people who liked to cook), photography equipment (for a pro photographer), sports-related items, etc. Always loved watching her do this.

After a couple of hours cooking burritoes, James didn't want to cook. We had Chinese takeout and finally settled on Science channel and Mythbusters.

And now time to turn the alarms back on. Indeed, the saddest moment of Sunday.

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» Saturday, June 24, 2017
All Those Dreadful Adult Things

We began the weekend with one of the most unpleasant tasks of adulthood, paying respects to the deceased. Ken Spivey's mother had passed away earlier in the week and Friday night after supper we went to the visitation. Mrs. Spivey was a very sweet, soft-spoken lady and although she had a good long life, it was sad to see her leave us.

So we stayed and chatted with everyone for a while until we got distracted by the cat. Aubrey and Jessie had found the sweetest calico cat hanging out behind the funeral home. It was just a young cat with plush long hair and a beautiful boa of a tail, and was just eating up all the attention, kneading her paws and rubbing her head against everyone who held her. She had no collar, but seemed familiar with humans.

It ended up that Jessie took the cat home. She and Aubrey drove through the apartment complex behind the trees behind the funeral home to see if there were any "lost kitty" posters, and then she planned to take the cat to the animal shelter tomorrow when it opened to see if she were microchipped.

This morning was Hair Day. I got my hair trimmed today, though I don't know what the use is. It's pretty much stopped growing. I remember when I had hair down to my waist. For lunch we had pot roast, potatoes, carrots, corn on the cob, a relish tray, a veggie tray and a fruit tray, and some pecan coffee cake, accompanied by the usual talk.

We were there long after two and then, since we were so close to Hiram, went to Five Below and picked up some dark chocolate peanut butter cups for dessert. Then we came home, having already had too much of the heat. I fell asleep on the sofa and woke up with the dog asleep on my leg. James fell asleep in his chair. By the time we both woke up it was suppertime. We had a free pizza coming from Uncle Maddio's, so we went there, and then finished up the shopping at Publix, where there were some excellent twofers and sale items, and we replenished the carrots we brought for Hair Day.

Spent the evening watching favorites from season one of Get Smart.

In other news, our seven-months old Hot Shot is now damaged after the "dispense" tab broke off tonight. We ordered it back in November to replace a twenty-six year old  Hot Shot that we got as a wedding gift! What rubbish they make today!

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» Sunday, June 18, 2017
Just Another Weekend...Sort Of

It's been a quiet weekend: nothing much going on, but not much to write about. We slept in Saturday morning, after staying up late to watch more Star Blazers on Friday night. James walked Tucker, and then after breakfast went to his club meeting. I decided to go check out something at Home Depot, but on the way, dumped a Xerox paper box full of working, useful, but unwanted odds and ends I wanted out of the house (timers, a Christmas card holder, etc.) and the books we couldn't get rid of at McKay's last year at Goodwill. (I was amused to note our neighbor Dave was ahead of me in line.) I also stopped at Big Lots and got a cheap bookcase to replace the old microwave cart downstairs that is an auxiliary pantry. The cart is too wide for the narrow hallway and I want it gone.

I appeared to have arrived at Home Depot at the same time everyone else did. Seriously, it was like a convention. I didn't find what I was looking for there, and went on to Barnes & Noble with an eye to spending one last coupon, but I didn't see anything, and the books I was looking at were just making me depressed. I went home feeling low, and pretty much ruined the rest of the afternoon by forgetting myself and biting down too hard on my bad tooth while I ate lunch. I didn't see stars, I saw planets, asteroids, and a couple of galaxies. I had to run in the bathroom and put on some Ambesol in a hurry, and eventually took some ibuprofin and lay down. Luckily James called on his way home and was willing to detour to Dragon 168. The fried rice was easy on my tooth, and it really didn't hurt for the rest of the night...well...

It didn't hurt in the evening. We finished up watching Star Blazers and then I put on Watership Down, which I hadn't watched in years. Still mesmerizing and exquisite, especially the beautiful watercolor backgrounds. James wandered downstairs to work in the man cave for a while (he's watching Man in the High Castle) and I finished up with Hazel, Fiver and company and watched A Dog of Flanders. I had bought the newly-released DVD when it came out, but had not yet seen it. This was not only the first time this 1959 film had been on DVD, but the first time I was getting to see it in its original aspect ratio. I've only previously seen pan-and-scan version; this was a popular movie that usually ran on TV during Christmas vacation or during other school holidays. I have to say I was pleased! It's not only a sweet, leisurely film about a boy, his dog, and the boy's artistic ambitions, but it was filmed on location in Belgium and Holland, so it has a real European look that looks fabulous in widescreen. David Ladd is very solemn and earnest as young Nello, and the "dog of Flanders" is played by "Spike," who was Old Yeller in Disney's film.

I had quit using the mint rinse the dentist gave me over a week ago because the cinnamon oil in it burned the dickens out of my tongue. Now that my tongue was healed I planned to go back to it but use it for fifteen seconds instead of thirty. Not only was fifteen seconds still too long–it burned my tongue the minute it hit my mouth–but my teeth were fine until I used it. Once I got into bed the bad tooth and the two next to it started to burn and hurt. I had to drag out of bed and put on Ambesol and take some ibuprofin. Let's say I wasn't very alert in the morning.

We were up a little earlier this morning so we could go to Costco. The place was mobbed even though we got there only twenty minutes after opening. Picked up milk, popcorn, and a few other things, and were able to escape reasonably fast. We just dropped what we bought off at home and swapped vehicles; I needed gasoline and decent bread for lunches, so the only solution was going to Kroger on Dallas Highway. We went there for bread, almonds, and a large pill container, and as always, ended up with a bit more.

That was it. We came home and put everything up, I put away the spare filter for the air conditioner and tidied up a few other things, then put on some quiet music to sit and read to. At five we watched Colour Confidential successfully, had chicken breast in mixed greens/oranges/almonds oriental salad, and resigned ourselves to the news and Guy's Grocery Games. However, have found Aerial New Zealand. An escape from network television.

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