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» Thursday, March 15, 2018The Medical Black Hole
I have not fallen off the ends of the earth. Although in this case, we might as well be there.
Thursday night James had pain in his shoulders, like the kind he had when he had pneumonia. We decided that he'd take a shower, get some sleep, see how he felt in the morning. In the morning he was worse. The advice nurse told us not to go to the nearest emergency room, but to the Northside emergency room. [eyeroll] Guess what time it was. Yes, rush hour. Poke, poke, poke, all the way there, with James breathing harshly beside me.
They took him right back, and at first it looked like he indeed had pneumonia. We spent a few hours in ER, then were transferred up to a holding room for investigation and possible admittance. His EKGs were coming out fine, but it was extremely painful when he breathed. They served him lunch and he couldn't even eat it. Then they took a sonogram. Then an echocardiogram. Finally, very late in the afternoon, he was downstairs having an ultrasound when the nurse came to me and said, "I'm going to take you downstairs to the cath lab. They're taking your husband there immediately; he has fluid buildup around his heart."
So I evntually spent nearly two hours walking up and down the eventually empty corridor of the cath lab (because everyone there had gone home, except for the group, including James' cardiologist, who were working on him) crying and saying my prayers over and over until they let me into ICU. They'd taken a mess of fluid from around his heart and, to add insult to injury, his prostate had enlarged enough to block his urethra, so his bladder was backwashing into his kidneys. They got three liters of urine out of him eventually! Plus he had a drain in his chest, which the cardiologist used to pull even more fluid out.
So we spent three glorious [sarcasm alert] days in ICU, where they threw me out three times a day even though I am listed as a "care partner," not a visitor. (I get the point of limiting visitors around ICU. They had patients in there where six to eight visitors were arriving at one time! But I was helping out, keeping my mouth shut and myself out of the way, and doing what I was told.) Inevitably, they fixed him up with a temporary catheter and he had two dialysis treatments, which they hoped would help the kidneys and the heart. Alas, a bit of fluid did re-accumulate around the heart, so they made the decision that he is going to have a permanent catheter inserted and will have to have full-time dialysis, at least for now. 😔 We'd thought we'd kept that at bay, but that drug he shouldn't have taken in January and the backwash had done him in.
Sunday afternoon we got transferred to a regular floor. There were a few more plans. A coordinator named Tiffany started working for us to get James in a Kaiser-approved dialysis clinic. (Sadly, he was unable to get in either of the ones on the East-West Connector or at the Galleria, which would have been closest. He will have to go up near the Big Chicken, and on the "last shift," at 4 p.m. We will have to have "dinner" on those days and then send him off, because he can't eat a full meal so late at night when he will finally get home, between eight-thirty and nine-thirty.) He would have a dialysis treatment on Monday, and then on Wednesday the permanent cath would be installed and he would have dialysis, and Thursday he would go home. Friday (tomorrow) he would start at the dialysis clinic.
I can tell you now that we are not home today.
I called him Wednesday morning (the main floor room is a tiny room, and there's nowhere to sleep but a very hard recliner, which, believe it or not, was worse than the "padded boards" downstairs in ICU that I'd slept on Friday in one room and then Saturday in another—they needed the original room because it was a negative pressure room—so I have been going home at night since we got into the regular room to take care of the fids and sleep and have breakfast), and he was still waiting (and starving) for them to take him downstairs for the permcath. By the time I arrived on Wednesday they had fed him. The cath was off because the vascular surgeon refused to do it because he was on Brilinta. Instead he will have to cool his damn heels here for five days with a Heparin drip until the Brilinta gets out of his system. The vascular surgeon we talked to in ICU on Saturday knew he was on Brilinta and just as much told us he wouldn't do a procedure while he was on it. So why didn't they start him on the Heparin drip on Saturday? They told us they were hoping they wouldn't have to put him on dialysis permanently, so they didn't do it, but I think they'd pretty much decided by Saturday it was going to have to go on.
Plus apparently they told him he can't go more than three days without dialysis, so that means we couldn't skip a Friday for Atomicon or WHOlanta or whatever, BUT he can go five fucking days here without dialysis because some moron authorized the removal of the temp cath before the permanent one was put in, so he can't have any more dialysis until Monday.
After 21 years as a purchasing agent, the one damn thing I had firmly banged into my head is that you don't end one essential ongoing project--like storage for vaccines or electronic communications--until the new one is ready to be put in place. So not only is he stuck here, but he's stuck here not able to do anything toward getting well except be a good little sheep with an infusion bag. He is on infused Lasix to prevent more fluid buildup, but between now and Monday it's possible that fluid could start building up again around his heart, and then they will have to do another temp cath! He will have an echocardiogram again tomorrow to make sure that is not happening.
(The nephrologist did tell us the "no skips" are not set in stone. We could tell the dialysis clinic he would be out of town on one of the days, and they could schedule him for a day before, or we could go into a long weekend, for example, being very careful about his fluid intake, taking extra furosimide [Lasix], and eat very carefully, keeping an eye out for swelling, shoulder pain, breathing difficulties, etc.)
So we are at present stuck watching Mysteries at the Museum and being bored, which is better than Friday when James was utterly miserable, in pain with every breath he took, and then later flat on his back in ICU with a drain in his chest and a Foley catheter in...well, in the place where Foley catheters go. (The latter is still there. He'll have to prove he can go without it before we leave. I just wonder what we can do about the prostate.) He had to have it fixed at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning because it was giving him terrible pain; I was woken up by the urologist "reseating it" and James groaning. Now that he is better and growing restless, I feel better for him but am as frustrated as him about the holdup for the Brilinta detox. At least if they hadn't removed the cath he could have been doing the dialysis, which would be progress.
But I was completely strung out Friday night. I went in the ICU waiting room needing a good cry, was comforted out of it, but couldn't bear staying in there because it was so loud. At least a dozen people talking and laughing made such a racket I went out into a hall and found a corner to sit in. (I tried going back in there later, only to find myself seated across from a woman talking to a doctor about a patient in renal failure. I fled.)
Everyone here is as nice as last time, but the food downstairs still stinks. I had some turkey Sunday night that must have had the complete daily allowance for sodium in it. Yuck! The salad bar has little variety and lies untended half the time. Most of the entrees are peppered, and you get tiny portions for $4-$5, and then have to pay another $2 for a spoonful of rice. James is getting bigger portions from the patients' kitchen than you get for your hard-earned cash. Milk is a dollar for a pint! Sunday afternoon when they threw me out I went up to Perimeter Mall and bought myself something from Tin Drum, which I had both for lunch and for supper. At least it tasted good and filled me up. On Monday I bought myself some bread and mortadella for sandwiches and to dip in soup, and then Wednesday I bought more bread and made sandwiches using the chicken salad I bought for Hair Day last Saturday, since I don't want to waste all of it. (It's...bland. Eh.) Those will last through Sunday. Tonight I'm going to have the last of the mortadella as a side with a salad from downstairs and the usual stale dinner roll. (I hope I am lucky and they have olives. They don't some nights.) I'm spending $6/day on parking and don't have money to spend on rotten food.
» Wednesday, March 07, 2018The Overloaded Pantry and The Tiny Invaders
How do you know when it's spring in Georgia? Insects appear.
It's fine if you're outside. Spot a mosquito hawk buzzing around or a green fly against the red bricks of the front porch, and you sigh, but it's expected. But when you emerge on a warmish, bright Monday morning and find several dozen tiny little bugs on both sides of the doors to your pantry, it's more like an "oh, hell, no" day. What made it worse is that I saw the same little guys last year. When the exterminator came by for the spring quarterly spray a few days later, I had him spray around the doors to the pantry. But not in the pantry, which was cheek-by-jowl with all sorts of packaged foods.
The pantry's sort of been a thorn in our sides for a few years now. It's not a walk-in type, but rather a shallow closet, maybe about fifteen-twenty inches deep, with bifold doors. Over the years it's been filled with a Del's lemonade kit, a container with chow mein noodles, bottles of coffee syrup, Rice-a-Roni and Knorr sides, cereal and pasta put in large plastic containers, boxes of soup and pasta and cake mix, mandarin orange and applesauce and pineapple cups, casserole mixes we bought at the Yellow Daisy Festival, Reynolds Wrap, slow cooker liners, birthday candles, old cake decor, chips for cookies, baker's chocolate and cocoa, Asian noodles, and more. Over the years, things we wanted to "save" for special occasions got pushed to the back while newer things stayed up front. One of the things I knew I had to do once I retired—since it would be a full day job—was give that pantry a thorough cleaning-out.
Well, today had to be that day, judging by the little insects that were still hanging around the doors to the pantry. I called up Northwest Exterminating and they said they could come tomorrow, so it was drudge time.
It was worse than I thought. The little bugs didn't come from the outside, like the time we had ants climb up the deck and saunter into the dining room as if it were their own, or the time we carried cockroaches in on wild birdseed bags. These guys were coming from inside the pantry, from under the baseboards.
I'll spare you the details to not make myself queasy again, but let's say it was a mess. All the favorite stuff we'd saved for special occasions had been chewed and some of it invaded. I remember reading about a woman who died before she had ever used all her "special" clothes and shoes because she never found an occasion special enough; this was the same thing. I tossed what had been delicious soup mixes, and grain mixes. I tossed anything that was open. And it gave me another opportunity as well to clean out food that was too salty or too sweet or baking things we'd never use, not to mention jarred pizza sauce dated 2004 which must have come from the old house!
Along the way I had to clean out the potato bin, which was the least objectionable thing. The floor with all the dead bugs on it was the worst.
So I ended up with two largish plastic containers of food left (and the casserole mixes put into plastic ziplock bags) and four trash bags out in the garbage (not full, but heavy). Then I swept the walls and sprayed them with a vinegar/Windex cleaner mixture and washed the wire shelves and then scrubbed the floor after sweeping it up. Washed the shelf that was in there as well, and the potato bin, and after over three hours, I was done, and I was beat, and angry at myself at letting this go so long and losing those soups (although James couldn't have eaten them anymore anyway).
So it's done, and the exterminator will be here, and after he treats I'll ask if there's anything to prevent this happening again. Baits? Bay leaves?
Besides our not saving for special occasions again because you've finally realized that every day you're alive is a special occasion.
My reward for this performance was James coming home to make a delicious dinner of beef bits, mushrooms, onions and cashews, and roast potatoes. You can keep your gourmet dinners; this was heaven on earth.
» Sunday, March 04, 2018The Quiet Day
So today was the quiet day after yesterday's adventures. We slept late, had breakfast and I walked Tucker, then we went to both Kroger and Publix hunting "the wild grocery" before coming home. After the "hunting" was put up, we allowed ourselves to be sucked in by Bargain Mansions, which is an HGTV series about a woman who restores huge old homes. If it sounds familiar, it's a riff on Rehab Addict, except our hostess here is in Kansas City, Missouri, instead of Detroit and has her dad helping her. She buys large old homes (they aren't really "mansions" by any definition, just "McMansions" if anything) which need a lot of TLC and generally puts a little more modern swing on them than Nicole does in Rehab Addict (I like Nicole's houses better). Still, it's fun to watch. I finally turned the television off and James went downstairs to "the man cave" for the first time in ages and I read and listened to new age albums. Had eaten my City Café soup for lunch and then had my leftover turkey over fresh slices of bread for supper, plus a mandarin orange (we both had three today!), and a peanut butter HoHo each as dessert. Spent the evening reading.
The only chores I did today were emptying the dishwasher, washing the towels, making the bed, and sorting my pills. I even forgot to do James' pills! So I have a bunch of work cut out for me tomorrow.
» Saturday, March 03, 2018The Perfect Day
We finally did it; went on our trip to Chattanooga that was aborted on December 30 with the truck accident. We finally had a rain-free weekend, it wasn't hot (breezy, sunny, jacket weather with the jacket open over a sweatshirt later on, although it was in the high 30s this morning), and traffic was passable (a little more hairy coming home).
Up at 7:30, we had breakfast and I walked Tucker, then we made sure he and Snowy had breakfast and water, then we used the hand truck to walk the four boxes (there were originally three) out to the truck, put them in the back, tie the lids on (since I don't have work to get boxes from anymore), and then set out.
I drove up there and I have to say it was a treat. When we had the chair lift put on the old truck, it became a bit hard to drive; it would sway slightly from side to side. So we had the mechanic put on heavy-duty shocks in the back. That helped, but it was still a bit unbalanced. Either this truck was built more solidly or it's just because it's newer or the company that originally owned it had it upgraded, because it is nicely balanced and you can hardly tell the chair is back there at all. A very smooth and even drive.
We got to McKay's about eleven, unloaded our books, and then commenced to browsing. The place was quite crowded and there were no carts or baskets when we got there, so I had to get shopping bags out of the truck. When I went back to get our credit-or-cash when our number was posted on the board, my jaw dropped because they offered me so much in cash, so I took it, along with a little bit of credit. And we only got about half of one box of books back (will donate them to the library for their booksale), too. Plus we didn't bring much home: James got mostly CDs (the band Yes, some bagpipes and marches, and part 2 of the Carl Stalling project) and a couple of books. I got a brand-new book I can't mention because it's intended as a gift, two "Live It Again" books from "Good Old Days" magazine (1940 and 1948), Alistair Cooke's One Man's America (which I'd never seen before), Bill Mauldin's autobiography The Brass Ring, a book of correspondence from pioneer women, This Victorian Life (written by a woman who dresses and lives in a Victorian fashion), and the Babylon 5 season-by-season handbook we were missing (season four), a "Dear Canada" book, and a "Dear America" book.
We got out of there about 1:30 and immediately headed for City Café for lunch. Even at almost two o'clock they were still crowded, and we had to wait while other folks who came in behind us got seated in booths because of the power chair. But finally we got to chow down: their wonderful savory (and not overly-salted) chicken noodle soup (with broken-up spaghetti in it instead of noodles like my mom and aunts made), a salad, and I had an open-faced turkey sandwich and James had open-faced meatloaf. We had to take half of it home, because their portions are so big, and I bought two more soups to take home as well.
Finally we went to the Hamilton Mall to check out their Barnes & Noble. Why is it everyone else's B&Ns are always better than the ones in Atlanta? This one has so many more books! I bought the second Lilly Long mystery (which no one near us carried), Walter Lord's book about Dunkirk, and a travel book about a man and his girlfriend who just drop everything and backpack around the world. Wouldn't that be a wonder?
Traffic was a little techier on the way home and James' ankle was bothering him, but we got back unscathed after having a wonderful day and spent the remainder of the evening watching The Incredible Dr. Pol. Why is it any time we watch lately they are gelding something? 😀
» Wednesday, February 28, 2018
FOR TODAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2018
Outside my window...
...gloomy. It's raining again, and will rain more tomorrow, and they're talking about thunderstorms, so I guess March is coming in like a lion.
I am thinking...
...that it is exactly one month ago I retired. Not only am I not bored yet, but the days are just whizzing by because I've been keeping busy. Since a house never runs out of things to be cleaned, I shouldn't ever be bored!
I am thankful...
...that I am retired, because people are getting crazier on the road every day. The other day I was running an errand and switched into the left lane preparatory to making a left turn. Someone whizzed past me on the right, and then someone else passed me using the turn lane! A friend of ours got hit by an eighteen-wheeler yesterday; she is fine, thank goodness, but her car is totalled and the truck driver never stopped.
In the kitchen...
...James has finally knocked off work (he's working at home due to the rain) and is making a quick dinner: thin steaks and some mushroom rice (because mushroom rice goes with everything).
I am wearing...
...chiefly blue "Mutts" comic strip pajamas and a flannel shirt because it's a little chilly. I'm so happy because it has gotten cooler again after over a week of temperatures in the 70s. I managed to keep the house reasonably cool by judicious use of fans; luckily I am home now so I can open windows and curtains to the breeze but close them again when the sun swings around. (I don't understand how people have homes without curtains! Their air conditioning bills must be frightening!)
I am creating...
...well, since like King Canute couldn't stop the tide from coming in, I cannot keep spring from coming, I had to get to work today on a reworked wreath (I say "reworked" because the base grapevine wreath is the same) for the front door. I have to redo the wreaths every few years because the house faces west and the hot Georgia sun just dessicates and fades the flowers and leaves. Then I realized that the blue and purple pansies that were in the little tin bucket on the porch with the wreath would no longer match the orange daisies and pink and green blossoms on the wreath, so it was off to Michael's. The results are below!
I am going...
...to need to get back to work. Not sure how to tackle the spare room closet, which holds gifts, wrapping paper, party stuff, a box of fabric, gift bags, old con programs, bed wedgies, vaporizers, stashed dog toys, and God only knows what else. They all need to stay in there, too, but there's got to be a better way to arrange everything. It practically tries to leap out of the closet at you.
I am wondering...
...if we are going to have a bad summer or a good summer. It would be nice to keep temperatures out of the 90s, but I'm sure that's a forlorn hope. At least I don't have to go out if I don't want to.
I am reading...
...Paper book: Murder in Morningside Heights. Magazine: "Smoky Mountain Living." E-Book: Apollo 8. E-Magazine: "The Simple Things."
I am hoping...
...we can reschedule or trip to Chattanooga. I'm still afraid of going anywhere long-distance. James says I need to get "back on the horse."
I am looking forward to...
...Atomicon! Dreaming about game playing, chatting, delicious food, and mountain drives!
I am learning...
...well, all the stuff on the Barnes & Noble clearance tables were $2. I bought several nice gift, plus a book for me about digital photography.
Around the house...
...just about to watch Jeopardy, Snowy is calling, Tucker is eating, and James is asleep in the recliner. F Troop back to normal, sir.
I am pondering...
...people who are so angry they will shoot up a venue. What would make them so angry? Do we set too high standards on life today?—fabulously sexy, have all the gadgets, keep up with the Joneses, luck into a good-paying job and a beautiful home and a cool car all at once.
A favorite quote for today...
“Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o'clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.”― Thomas de Quincey
One of my favorite things...
...is coming on Friday! Masterchef Junior is back! One of the children is an orphan; his parents died not long ago in a murder-suicide. I hope he has someone to lift him up. What a terribly sad thing to have to endure as a child.
A few plans for the rest of the week:
A trip to the bank to take care of business.
A peek into my day...
The door wreath and the tin bucket bouquet:
If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.
Labels: Simple Woman's Daybook
» Sunday, February 25, 2018Weekend Ups and Downs—and Farewell to Curling
Not rain again? Why, yes! Thankfully only on Sunday, so we had to bundle all our errands and fun excursions into Saturday. This means we hustled to Costco bright and early Saturday morning, picking up milk, "plastic" cheese, and generic Flonase, the latter which turned out to be on sale, so, even better. James got a new "Milk Street" magazine as well, and we tried some of their "hazelnut spread" (generic Nutella).
We'd already planned a general route, but having bought milk, since we have been having temperatures in the high seventies all week, we had to bring it all home first. That we did, then went on to have a better time: visited the big Michael's store that's where Borders books used to be (::sob!::), had lunch at Chicken Salad Chick (their chicken-almond-cranberry is good, but not as good as Trader Joe's version used to be), and finally Trader Joe's for oyster crackers, etc. We are also trying one of their homemade pastas.
Our last, frustrating stop was at Verizon. We had gotten James' "Hum" gadget set up in the new truck and it worked about two weeks, but lately it's been telling him he hasn't driven anywhere and that he's parked on South Cobb Drive (specifically the car lot where the truck came from; we're not sure how that happened, since we didn't install the Hum in the truck until we had it in our possession). So since Verizon sold us the Hum, we went back there. The whole shopping area around the Verizon store was a flipping mess. I know shopping centers are busy on Saturday, but it was like Chip and Joanna or some rap star was appearing live at one of the stores: bumper-to-bumper traffic, entrances blocked, the whole magilla. I'm wondering if it was because of the new Chinese buffet, Chow King, and the new restaurant The Juicy Crab.
Plus when we got there it turned out Verizon couldn't help us! We had to call customer service and they sent us to Hum, and no one knows what's wrong.
So we rested up for a couple of hours—I rested so well I fell asleep—and then went to Fried Tomato Buffet for supper (because...barbecue ribs on Saturday night). Next was Bed, Bath & Beyond because my bedroom fan had just died. The poor thing lives a hard life; it's on pretty much all the time, all year 'round; last week it started faltering on low setting, although it was fine on high, and then last night it just burned out. (I'm surprised the fans are already out. We've had trouble finding them even in March.) I also wanted to get a couple of more Turbie Twists because I like the way they dry my hair.
Some time ago we finally replaced our very old shower head with a two-headed system, one on the wall and one on a wand. We had it set so water would come out of both shower heads, and the wand could be turned on with the switch on the arm of the wand. Except two weeks ago the cheap plastic switch broke off. James likes to use wand only, but I like the overhead during the shower and the wand to rinse certain areas. So since then I've been standing on tiptoes to turn the different sources on and off. As I said, being short is a b*tch.
Anyway, we found a shower head where the wand is held on by a magnet, so it can be up to soak under and then removed with a twist of the hand. Not sure when it will be put up, but hope it will work the way we anticipate.
Before heading home we stopped at Hobby Lobby, where several categories of items were at half price. So now we have three Christmas gifts to put away.
Today was quieter. We were woken about 8:30 by rain pounding on the windowsills; I had to get up to pull the shades down and pull my new fan out of the window, then went back to bed. (At least it has gotten cooler!) About eleven we went to Publix to pick up twofers and CVS to use our 30 percent off purchase coupon. That was it for the day outside of the house. I also washed towels, sorted both our pills, made dinner, recorded some stuff off the BBC, did odd chores—.
And now it's time for closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics! What a quick two weeks it has been! And have never seen so much curling in my life! Sorry the Korean women's team didn't win gold; I was rooting for "the Garlic Girls"!
» Friday, February 23, 2018The Many Labors of Retirement
I made a remark a few days ago on Facebook that a couple of people misinterpreted: I said "Now I know why people don't want to retire: time goes by so quickly when you're not at work." By that I meant work days went by sooooooooo slowly. I'd do a bunch of things, think an hour had gone by, and it was only fifteen minutes. Instead, since January 31, three weeks have gone whizzing by with the speed of light. You may not live longer if you keep working, but it sure feels like it (at least if you aren't fond of your job; I always envied people who loved what they did for work).
Here's an example from this week: while Wednesday started with a nice mindful walk of the dog while watching and listening to the birds, who are already claiming territory and singing at the tops of their lungs about it, suddenly my day was skimming by. Those plastic drawers I rearranged in the master bedroom closet? I used my chalk markers and chalk stickers to label them, and then cleaned out the top shelf of the pantry and labeled most of the plastic containers that hold cereal, macaroni, TVP, etc., and repurposed one of the small containers for James' Sweet'n'Low. (He is glad it is out of the pantry, as it was always falling on his head.) I also marked the new boxes of Christmas cards I bought on discount. To put them up I will have to clean off the entire top of a cabinet. (I am not looking forward to the climbing up and down.) I also wrote a final two thank you notes for retirement gifts, and another note to a friend who is not on the internet much and hinted that now that I was retired I might have time to write to her more than once a year. 😀 I used to be a prodigious letter-writer in the 1980s, and that had gone by the wayside due to the nine to five grind. Writing to her more often will be fun!
Thursday I went in more directions than Marco Polo. I had a wellness visit at the doctor Wednesday afternoon, and had to do a fasting blood test first thing the next morning. That was accomplished expeditiously, and then I went to hang around the Barnes & Noble at Akers Mill (oh, yeah, twist my arm!) until Tin Drum opened for lunch. (I actually didn't buy anything but did see a couple of books I might be interested in.) I was stuffed to the gills when I finished, since it had been both my breakfast and lunch, and knew I needed to walk it off! So I drove up to Town Center. I started at their Barnes & Noble because they have the best magazine selections, and did get "Smoky Mountain Living" and the new "Just Cross Stitch." Otherwise I don't buy spring and summer magazines. Too pink and white and needlessly chirpy about what I consider hot and depressing. I thought about getting the new Flavia De Luce mystery, but honestly—$26 full price for a tiny hardback like that; even at the 30 percent off I could have had, it was $18. I can wait for the paperback, thank you.
Next I stopped at Office Max to check a keyboard out, and then walked next door to Best Buy where, surprise!, they had the same keyboard for about $16 cheaper. Still not sure I want to buy it, though. So instead I popped into Michael's to buy a Command hook with my coupon, and then next door to JoAnn, where I used coupons on chalk tags for drawers and some motivational stickers for the journal I'm keeping this year.
On the way home I stopped at the Dallas Highway Barnes & Noble, which is the only one in this area that has the Neanderthal book recommended at the Anachrocon panel. I wanted to make certain it was worth buying; how can you tell about a book unless you see it? It's smaller than I expected, but still looks intriguing. Plus I found a book about typography on the clearance table for $2.
By then I was tired out and headed home.
Today it was inescapable. I had two things to do that had been put off long enough. One was getting Tucker a bath. He hasn't had one since October, and, although most pet sites say that if your dog spends most of his/her time indoors, it doesn't need bathing that often, Tucker's fur was thick and oily and even brushing him wasn't helping anymore, and the white parts of his coat were turning tattletale grey. I'd intended to get him a bath before the Twelfth Night party, but it was so bitterly cold that week I didn't want to take him out in it even if they do have dryers. So I swallowed my oatmeal and yogurt and milk, leashed the dog, grabbed his soap, and off we went to what used to be "Unleashed by Petco" which is now just a little Petco store. A big dog named Cody that looked part Golden retriever was being bathed in the next tub when we got there and he whined and complained through the entire process. Tucker whines occasionally, but he spends most of his time turning exactly in the opposite direction of where I need him to be. Apparently dogs can also make themselves weigh twice as much as they do just by sheer resistance. My arms are aching now from simply pushing him into the correct position.
Now that he was done shedding all over my car, it was the car's turn to be "thoroughly valeted," as Margo Leadbetter would say. I'm embarrassed to say when the last time the car was washed. We can't even rinse a car off here because of the drought, so to get a wash I have to take it to the car wash. Usually I do this before vacation, but we haven't gone on one since 2015. I think the last time it was washed was December 2016, but I'm not sure if that was the time I get a free car wash because it was my birthday month or it was the time I struck up a friendly conversation with the woman sitting next to me and it turned out she was trying to sell me a windshield repair. (I hate people who do that.)
Washing the car: no work at all watching them at the car wash. It's pulling out all the reusable grocery bags, the water bottles, the blanket, the Bracketron, the trash container, my umbrella, charge cords, the windshield sunshade, the window sunshades, the Kleenex box, the wipes, the luggage carrier, the insulated bags, the bungee cords, James' cane, etc....and then putting them all back in when you're done. Really. I was a half hour at the car wash, and just unloading and reloading the car took me most of the rest of the afternoon—not to mention that the sun came out and I was roasting out in the driveway sorting out the reusable grocery bags. I find I have enough of them that I can put away the fall/Christmas/winter themed ones for six months and still have enough to go shopping! I tossed out at least once ripped bag, dozens of store receipts, old window sunshades on the rear windows, and other assorted detritus. Then I had to adjust the phone in the Bracketron, put all my change back in the change slots, stick up the new window sunshades, ad infinitum it seemed.
And finally, finally, I could put on my "TARDIS Chameleon Edition" emblem that I bought way back last fall (or maybe it was late summer), because I wasn't putting it on until the car was clean. I had to use a ruler and a tiny spot of paint marker, but I have it exactly opposite the PT's own "Touring Edition" emblem on the hatchback.
(Okay, I did do one fun thing today. On the way home from the car wash I stopped at Hobby Lobby. Picked up discount chalk labels, bookmarks, inspirational stickers, and had a nice chat with a lady who was planning a "Glow Party." I have no idea what that is, but can't possibly be what I found when I looked it up on Google—something about glow sticks and drugs! Sounded like it was more an inspirational or sales thing to me.)
I also stopped by O'Reilly Auto Parts and finally found a seat belt adjuster to put in the truck. I hope it works, since I'm tired of the shoulder belt trying to strangle me. It's such a pain in the --- being short!
» Sunday, February 18, 2018Time Travel Without Leaving the Neighborhood
a.k.a. "Anachrocon Ate My Weekend and I Loved It."
Normally we would have been at Anachrocon when it opened on Friday afternoon; however James had an iron infusion scheduled and didn't want to cancel it. So I spent the morning and early afternoon making chicken cacciatore out of a leftover chicken leg quarter and some thighs, and making sandwiches with the bread I'd just run out to get that morning. This will keep us from having to go to the hotel restaurant, if there is one, or out for supper. My sandwiches were plain; I made James' with some cheese and just an hint of pepper or Mrs. Dash.
All this domesticity tired me out—while I have been experimenting with cooking other dishes besides baked chicken and homemade gravy, I'm never going to like the process—and I took a nap until Life360 tweedled at me through my cellphone and I knew James was on his way, then got dressed. I followed his journey on Life360 and the traffic map; there was horrendous traffic as always on Friday. Once he was here, we had to fight our way to the hotel, which thankfully was at Wyndham just beyond Cumberland Mall. All we had to do was get past the traffic sink that's the mall.
It was lightly raining, so we didn't bring the power chair inside. We'd missed all the panels we might have been interested in, so we simply met up with Clay and Maggi, took a brief look around the hotel, and then had supper at the hotel restaurant. Like previous old hotel, this is a restaurant that basically caters to business people, and it's "southern fusion" or something like that which means they charge you out the nose for plain food that has been gussied up with some spices. $20 for meatloaf? Are you kidding me? Maggi and James had chicken gumbo soup and Clay had some shrimp and I had a salad. (James and I ate our sandwiches when we got home.)
We had not attended a convention here for years, from back when it was a Holiday Inn or something like that, mostly because I remember this hotel as being very small and the cons finally outgrew it. Well, even remodeled, it still is. There are some small meeting rooms on one side (where the literature, history, and science panels will be), then the lobby and a restaurant, then two bigger meeting rooms on the other side, and then opened up rooms that are for the dealers (mostly steampunk this year) and main programming. There's also a little side room where the authors are selling their wares.
So they headed for their room and we headed for home; to pop up at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning and do all our usual morning ablutions (and terrier attendance) before heading back to the hotel. We did have the hotel breakfast buffet, which is more reasonable than the previous hotel (except for the cook making omelets, it's no better than the buffet Drury Inn, Staybridge Suites or Country Inn and Suites serves). James did avail himself of the omelet guy, who is what my mother would term "a hot sketch."
So I wandered in only a little late for the Battle of Hastings panel. The overall theme this year is Vikings, and there are a lot of Viking crafts and costuming and some panels. This one ties in because the Normans led by William the Conquerer were actually Norsemen way, way back, ones who settled in northern France and who were now French. The battle was described very well and I felt I understood more about what caused the battle and how Harold was outwitted, although his defensive position was well thought out.
Next I went to Lee Martindale's bardcraft panel. Lee talked about some of the duties of a bard; they did not just sing and entertain; they were the oral historians for the region and also resolved conflicts and brought the news from place to place. You apprenticed as a bard for seven to fifteen years, which means it wasn't just memorizing a bunch of songs, but a sense of fair play along with showmanship.
I sat with Caran Wilbanks during the 17th century medicine panel, which was a comparison between Eastern European and Western European disciplines; the Eastern usually had "wise women" and midwives while Western had doctors and barber-surgeons. They used medical methods that we would consider a bit gross, but that are still being used today —leeches and maggots, for instance—but under more sanitary conditions, because they are still the best for the job. The panel kept the dialog amusing so not to gross anyone out too much, and they passed around some cochineal beetles which are still used to make red dye. I was re-reading about them just recently in St. Clair's The Secret Lives of Color.
Jeremiah Mitchell, who did such a good panel about the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations last year, did the first of four panels next. This was about the Titanic, and it turns out he had a distant family member on the ship, Ann Elizabeth Isham. There is a theory she didn't make it off the ship because she went back for her dog. He talked about the unhappy fate of Charles Lightoller, the Second Officer of Titanic, who survived and was reviled much of his life. I did not know he was one of the small craft owners who went to the aid of the soldiers at Dunkirk.
Next I went to a panel about writing diverse characters. I've been working on a story about a fannish teenager. Now when I was a teenager I grew up in a pretty much Italian Catholic neighborhood and didn't even have a Protestant friend until I was in fifth grade. I know a child today would probably not grow up in that kind of atmosphere, but I want to make sure if I create a character of another race or culture in the story that I am not writing a stereotype. The panel concurred that research was your friend.
The Great Story Shift was a panel by a professor in Humanities who was even more entertaining than the stories she was relating. She talked very fast and was very funny as well as informative, and discussed myths like Jason and the Golden Fleece, Tristan and Isolde, and even Beowulf. (Since I never had to read Beowulf in school, I was interested to hear the story.)
Never could find what I wanted to see next, so I wandered about a bit and then found James half-dozing in the "Microbes in Our Food" (about fermentation) panel because it was so hot in the room. The Science and Literature rooms were overheated most of the weekend while the History room was freezing. We brought flannel shirts with us today and were glad of it when we were in Stratford!
The next panel I went to, "Researching What Never Was," was a bit of a misnomer. It was described as a panel about how to do research for details of the past. However, it turned out to be Stephanie Osborn's discoveries about how they dressed, lived, etc. in the time of Sherlock Holmes as portrayed in her novels. It was still interesting, but not what I expected.
Mitchell's second panel was one I had particularly wanted to see: the story of the murder of Leo Frank. In 1913, an 11-year-old mill girl named Mary Phagan was raped and murdered at the Atlanta pencil factory where she worked. The factory accountant, Leo Frank, a "Yankee Jew," was accused, tried, and convicted of killing her on the testimony of the janitor. He was sentenced to prison, but was removed from said prison by a bunch of "upstanding citizens" (including a sheriff) and lynched not far from where we live, off Frey's Gin Road near Roswell Road. There used to be a dentist's office there that had a plaque for Leo Frank, but the building was bulldozed to make way for a freeway project. I had read somewhere that when they finish the project, they are intending to put up a memorial, but God only knows when that will be, since we stay in a perpetual state of construction.
(In the 1980s, a man who had been an office boy at the pencil factory said he saw the janitor carrying Phagan's body into the basement, and the janitor threatened to kill him if he said anything, so it is now strongly suspected that the janitor was the real killer. But there is no evidence left to prove it.)
Finally on Saturday night was the panel I was really waiting for. Ever since my teen years I have been crazy about anthropology, from when I read Robert Silverberg's The Morning of Mankind in the Bain library. Anyone who has read anthropology books knows the story of the Neanderthals, the "nasty, brutish" cavemen who were finally overwhelmed by nice intelligent Homo Sapiens (us). Well, things have changed a lot from 1971. New studies have proven that Neanderthal man lived in communities, cared for their elderly and infirm, buried their dead, could speak, and did all this before Homo Sapiens. I remember Jean Auel made quite a stir in Clan of the Cave Bear when she pronounced all these, except for the speech, with her Neanderthal characters raising the human child Ayla, including Ayla having a "half breed" child. One of the things they believed back when I was in school was that Neanderthal and human never had offspring together (or never had offspring that survived). Today they can tell you that almost everyone of European ancestry has a little bit of Neanderthal genes. (The only ones who do not are people whose ancestors are strictly from Africa.) Red hair and blue eyes, in fact, came from the Neanderthal. (Apparently so did Type 2 diabetes.) But they were not stupid and brutish; however, they were strong. Fossil records now show that they had twice as many muscles in some parts of their body along with thicker, stronger bones, so they were much stronger than any human, even today. The speaker, Dr. Dea Mozingo Gorman (who was positively fascinating), recommended this book, which I am definitely going to get! I read Brian Fagan's Cro-Magnon a few years back, which had some of this info, but was disappointed by it.
Anyway, the room was SRO and we loved the pael so much that when the hour was over Dr. Gorman kept going and we stayed on until almost another hour had gone by. Both Phyllis and Oreta, sitting behind me, asked questions. James rolled in, having seen two panels (New Madrid fault and rebuilding after the Apocalypse) in this time, to find us still talking, so we had to make haste to get home to get Tucker "aired."
This morning we also got up at 7:45, even though neither of us had a 10 o'clock panel. We had the buffet again and James tipped the omelet cook as much for his humor as for his cooking. Then we just started wandering about, and as we approached the costuming and fabrication panel rooms, we saw Clay in one of them. It turned out he had come for a panel about female warriors, but it had been cancelled. Instead, they were holding demonstrations of how to do cording to go with a costume. We stayed. I got to do Viking whip cording, which involved four spools of yarn fastened to a vertical pole and another person. You held a spool in each hand, and basically tossed spools to each other, left to left, then right to right, and once you had a rhythm, you could even talk. Clay and Caran, who walked into the room during the spool-tossing, did finger looping (which I'd like to try if I can remember the steps), and then James worked on something called "shoopido" (?) which is the thing they taught you in camp with vinyl cording. It was fun!
Jeremiah Mitchell did a panel at eleven about Eliot Ness and how, despite all the work he did to catch Al Capone, the canny gangster never attached his name to anything and Ness couldn't pin anything on him. As everyone knows, Capone was eventually convicted, but for tax evasion, and only because a careless accountant labeled an account book "Al" and was willing to "sing." Ness himself wasn't perfect, but he was "untouchable" about bribes.
Walked the dealer's room one more time and bought memberships for last year, said goodbye to Clay and Maggi (she wasn't feeling well because she'd been unable to get some medication she needed), then finally went to the rest of the "Mining Urban Legends for Story Ideas" panel.
Finally, James went off to see the escape pod panel and I went to the last of Mitchell's panels, this one about the O.K. Corral. I'd already seen the Time Traveling With Brian Unger about this, so I knew it wasn't this black-and-white good-guys-bad-guys 40s Western movie thing that was commonly portrayed. The Earps weren't knights in white satin and the Clanton "gang" wasn't one, and what started the big trouble was a nervous Ike Clanton misinterpreting something he overheard about the Earps.
And finally it was time for closing ceremonies. This was very short, with the two con chairs thanking everyone; Lee Martindale said she had a swell time as Guest of Honor, and farewells were said. We came home and, tiresomely, had to stop at CVS and Kroger for a couple of things we needed before we could do so. Supper was comfort food, chicken soup with stellini (James had chili), and then it was time to get ready for another week after a nice weekend of time traveling.
I really must get that Neanderthal book; just hoping I can wait till I get another coupon!
» Wednesday, February 14, 2018"Anything Can Happen Day" Rides Again
This morning's mission was easy: Think up something for Valentine's Day dinner and go shopping if I needed anything for it. But it turns out I didn't. I just wanted to get there early because as soon as work ended, I knew, people would be pouring in to buy balloons, candy, and other treats for their significant others.
They were there when I arrived, too, but not in large numbers. I trotted through Publix for twofer deals and also found chicken leg quarters on sale for 99¢/pound, pork for stew (what we call "pork bits") on sale, as well as thin round steaks on sale. Then I went across the street to Sprouts to pick up nice lamb shoulders and beef bits on sale. Tossed all the meats into an insulated bag so I could do a quick recce at Big Lots, then came home, and repackaged most of the meats for the freezer.
I toyed with going out again, but instead decided it was time to tackle the spare room. Since 2005, the futon has been wearing a quilt and pillow shams I bought after my mom died. I picked a mostly yellow and blue pattern because the spare room in the old house was painted yellow. Well, the futon and its cover has been "rode hard." When I'm sick instead of going in our own bed, since the bedroom is a "dog free zone," I lie down on the futon. I remember spending days in there two years ago when I had an allergic reaction to the shingles vaccine. It's our "quiet room" when we have a party. At Christmas we wrap gifts in there. I'll take the odd nap there. So the quilt has been well washed and the shams well snuggled up to. Although the yellow scheme was bright, I didn't quite like it anymore. So I bought a new coverlet (I should have bought a quilt but bought a comforter instead) for our bed and planned to put the bright fall-patterned quilt from the bed on the futon.
Except when I went looking for the quilt's pillow shams to wash (the quilt being done), I couldn't find them. I still can't find them, and I don't understand, because quilts almost always come with two pillow shams. The yellow one did and I thought this one had. But I found nothing but the one thing I'd forgotten: the patchwork quilt I formerly had on the bed, which was a nice pattern of greens and reds with hints of other colors, but not Christmassy looking. That had pillow shams. After looking fruitlessly everywhere for fall-pattern pillow shams (I even still have the pretty matching quilted bag it came in), I gave up. I'm washing the patchwork quilt and shams and will put that on the futon. I've discovered I like our bed better in a solid color, although if I ever do find a decent fall pattern that I can afford, I will probably buy it.
Well, looking for the pillow shams brought me smack up against the master bedroom closet. I watch all these home-hunting shows and laugh when the woman immediately claims most of the master bedroom walk-in closet. James has more clothes than me! He has a dozen or so regular button-down shirts for when the big-bugs come to inspect work, polo shirts for the rest of the time, and more t-shirts (with pockets or with logos) than you can shake a stick at, and at least a dozen and a half jeans/work pants, plus dress pants and his good suit. I have a few t-shirts, a few shirts I wear all the time, nine pairs of regular pants, three pairs of dress pants, two dress tops, a dress skirt, another skirt and blouse, about a dozen seasonal sweatshirts, three "good" sweatpants, three sweat/pants combos, and scrubs pants and odd t-shirts I wear all the time (my "dog-walking" outfit), and most of my stuff lives in drawers or in the stacks of plastic drawers in the closet. That's what I also tackled today; sorting out the "hang around" sweats from the ones I wear out and putting them in plastic drawers which are right now labeled with post-it notes because the chalk markers and chalk labels I could find perfectly well last week have vanished into the maw of the craft room. Once I find them I can label the plastic drawers for good.
I decided to get rid of the yellow-theme quilt and shams even though I'd considered donating them. Really, they had spots and a couple of rips and just looked sad and tired and were verging on pilled. My cousin Janice had passed around a cool idea for Lent via Facebook: discard a bag of junk every day for the forty days of Lent. Not sure I have forty bags of junk to toss or donate, but I'd like to make a stab at that. I dumped the quilt, shams, old sheets, torn pants, and just plain junk garments that I would not consider donating to anyone into a big plastic garbage bag. It weighed a ton when I dragged it out to the trash.
The later afternoon was taken in preparing for Valentine's Day dinner. Since I was home I had a chance to prepare: I made crab ravioli in a butter/white wine sauce I Frankensteined from Kerrygold/ghee/Smart Balance, white wine, Litehouse salad herbs and some extra chives, and a little peach white balsamic vinegar (it didn't come out too bad). Plus we had a cucumber salad, and boxed chocolates from dessert. I gave James the book Viper Pilot and a gift to come tomorrow, and he gave me the book Red, White, and Who: Doctor Who in America. I've been reading it all evening, and Olympic skating has gone by the wayside. (I did watch curling this afternoon.)
[Later: The book was terrific and James liked his other gift, a new stand for his cell phone. I like Amazon Deals of the Day!]
» Tuesday, February 13, 2018Someone Else's Junk
I woke up in the middle of the night for no earthly reason with my right knee aching. I have no idea what caused this; I moved around a lot yesterday, but nothing that should have put the kibosh on my knee.
I wanted to check out a couple of Goodwills today as my friends do; they always find great bargains, but once I got there the idea of going through rows and rows of clothes almost sent me to sleep. I did check out the books and the tchotchkes in the back. The old knicknacks made me kind of sad. Grandma or Mom collected that and it was special to her and now it's on a shelf with ugly vases. There was a little framed rectangle of faded pressed flowers inscribed with a loving phrase. Wonder who that belonged to and why she let it go.
So I didn't buy anything, but went on to Target for a couple of more 60-watt-equivalent LED ceiling fan light bulbs for each of the bedrooms and a 3-pound weight (I only have one). Stopped at Office Max, looked at a couple of "netbooks," came home for lunch and stretched out my knee to rest it and watch curling.
Had some rather insipid chicken and a rice mix for supper. While I was surfing the internet I realized that with the Olympics on we had completely forgotten about Westminster and had already missed the first night! But we are here for Best in Show!
I have been making more lists and am determined to get rid of more stuff!
» Monday, February 12, 2018Just Keepin' Moving!
* Emptied dishwasher; started to refill
* Washed kitchen floor
* Washed kitchen counters
* Cleaned out kitchen sink
* Put away some things on coffee table
* Cleaned master bath and hall bath toilets
* Washed master bath and hall bath floors
* Put Mom's records in alphabetical order
* Started bag for Atomicon
* Took a speaker downstairs for use in the library
* Put reusable shopping bags back in my car
* Put the Rollator back where it belongs
* Put three things in the donation box and one in the recycling bin
* Emptied the last few things I had at work out of the Climb Cart and put them and it away
* Listened to three episodes of "The Tech Guy" and recorded things off the BBC
Beef stir fry and rice for supper and now time for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy before Olympics!
» Saturday, February 10, 2018Sunshine Out of Rain
Compared with yesterday, which was a dead loss of a day because of a severe lack of sleep (nothing serious, just...a pain in the neck), today was sunny within, if not sunny without. It was another day of grey, mist, rain, fog...well, name something wet that doesn't involve snow or ice and we had it today.
James went off to a model contest, and I took advantage of some good coupons. JoAnn had 40 percent off your entire regular price purchase, and I bought little things including laminating sheets and a nice piece of Aida cloth. Since I was at Town Center, Michaels was right next door. They had a 20 percent off even sale items, and a single 40 percent, so I picked up some little things including chalk labels for use in the kitchen.
Next I cut through the back to go to Barnes & Noble. This was a profitable trip because all the clearance items were at 75 percent off, so I was able to pick up some really nice gifts for 3/4 off the price as well as another nice set of Christmas cards. Plus they had the Victoria tie-in book on the remainder shelf and I got it for $7. The only fly in the ointment to the bookstore portion of the day was the inconsiderate lout with the ginormous SUV who parked over the line and so close to me that I had to get in the car via the passenger door and crawl over the steering column to be able to back out.
I had less luck at Publix across from the bookstore: I was picking up Toufeyan wraps and ground meat for James and they had no low-sodium low-carb wraps at all. So I skipped the ground meat as well and went home via the Macland store instead. They had at least three packages of wraps, so I got them and ground turkey, which was the least expensive.
Came home from there and watched a very strange movie called Arthur and Merlin. In this version, Arthur and Merlin meet as boys; Merlin is a strange child who is born with marks on his face that mark him as a member of an ancient race that knows magic. Arthur saves Merlin from being sacrificed by King Vortigern's chief Druid. Fifteen years later Arthur is still fighting for the King, who has become forgetful. While helping a Christian woman avoid becoming a sacrifice, Arthur finds a magic sword which gives him visions. He saves the king because one of these visions, but is banished because he offends the Druid, who is using Dark Magic for his own ends. Another vision shows him the Druid is working against the King, and he realizes he needs magic to fight magic, remembering the Druid was afraid of young Merlin. He goes looking for the boy to find he has grown up in solitude learning magic. Socially Merlin's on the Sheldon Cooper level. Anyway, they do defeat the Druid, but very strange Arthurian story. Its main positive point is that it actually takes place during when the mythical Arthur would have lived, and not in medieval times as so often portrayed. A definite "eh!"
James had arranged a little retirement party at Keegan's tonight, so we left at five, picked up the cake (chocolate, chocolate, and chocolate) from Publix (bagging three more packages of wraps), and proceeded to the restaurant. We had some no-shows due to the miserable weather, but very understandable, and they were missed. The service was a bit iffy tonight, due to one of the waitstaff not being used to a crowd, but we had a good time. James actually found me the sweetest gift at the model show: it's a bracelet with multicolored crystal beads and one single cross bead. Terica also gave me an African violet. Poor thing. I will try to remember to care for it, but plants usually have a hard life with me.
Then came home to watch Olympics: snowboarding, biathalon, women's skating, and finally curling!
» Tuesday, February 06, 2018It's a Mickey Mouse Club Life for Us...
I joked to James at one point that to keep me on the "straight and narrow," so to speak, maybe during my retirement I needed theme days like they used to do on The Mickey Mouse Club. You know, one day would be Laundry Day, Wednesday would be Grocery Shopping Day, etc.
Today could definitely have been classified in Mouse Club terms: Anything Can Happen Day.
It didn't seem unusual at first. James got up before seven, alas unable to sleep late; I followed at eight. It was warm this morning, in the high 40s, and it was, as always, Laundry Day. I started the first load after breakfast, but before walking the dog, and then proceeded to do little things like get the last Xerox paper box out of the way in the garage (we'd sorted all the junk from the old truck into boxes), bringing in the box of garbage bags, taking completed books and magazines downstairs, repairing the buttonholes on the hood of my winter coat and the top of my winter hat, unloading and loading the dishwasher, etc. I also put away the gifts Lawsons gave us for Christmas, quite taken with the Woolrich throw; I thought it was a blanket, but it's more like a loose throw/poncho type thing with an open front. I used it going back and forth into the garage since I was in short sleeves.
Somewhere along the way, around lunchtime, I checked out the weather forecast. Bad news: this warming trend continues! Warm tomorrow when it rains, then high fifties, and then more rain and back into the low 60s for the foreseeable future. While the Northeast would probably be dancing at that forecast, I was dismayed, because here it is February and I still hadn't tackled the bushes in the front yard. They are dormant right now and it's the perfect time to cut them, and I can't seem to get our lawn folks to come back in February to do them for me. Ideally I want them taken back to where they were when we moved in, little individual bushes that can regrow and we can keep them low this time, but I would settle for making them smaller and shorter. The patch that is in front of the porch annoys me most: the firecracker bush is too high and nearly blocks the view of St. Francis, and the two nandina bushes on either side of Francis are too bushy and too high and sending out runners to take over the whole bed.
Which is why I abandoned anything else to be done (except the laundry), got into old clothes, found my work gloves, pulled out the hedge clipper and the heavy-duty extension cord and got to work. Now, I had a bad habit previously of not watching where my electrical cord was and chopping it eventually with the hedge clipper, but in the last five years I've tried to be mindful of it and I've kept the latest one for a while. Alas, it met its end today; I was trimming a corner, pivoted without looking, and !zap! went the cord with an acrid smell of ozone and scorching. Thankfully I had pretty much finished the two nandina bushes and the firecracker bush in front of St. Francis and only had to drag out the loppers and the secateur to finish up, and then rake up all the waste. Sadly, I did not get to the bushes to the left of the front steps (as you leave the house). I have had problems trimming them anyway, as the yard slopes on the other side of them, so I can never shorten them as much as I like, but I sure would have liked to try.
Tomorrow it is going to pour rain; I don't know if I'll ever get to the store for a new power cord and get to do it. Bother. James helped me clean up the waste later on so it won't get drenched in the wet weather.
Anyway, at around 2 p.m. or slightly thereafter, I was sans hedge clipper and raking up clipped branches—I really did hate to cut off those pretty red nandina berries!—when I heard some kind of odd noise coming from the south. As it got closer I thought it was geese, but it wasn't honking, more a sort of gurgling noise. I paused, looked over the back of the house, and saw an utterly ginormous flock of large birds flying overhead, and indeed they were not in the traditional Vee of the goose, nor had I ever seen such a large flock of geese before. We've had big flocks overhead, but only about fifty or sixty at the most. I watched the two separate groups that approached meet, cross each other, intertwine and turn, just like a big ballet.
Then I remembered I had James' little camera in the pocket of my coat and dashed inside to grab it. They were flying right around the area of the sun, so I basically had to point and shoot because all I could see in the LED screen was my reflection, but I did get a few pictures. They swerved and soared and crossed and rearranged for another five minutes—there were at least one hundred, if not two hundred or more. I did get one close up picture that showed they were some type of crane or heron! (On Facebook later Jerry said they looked like herons; looking at my photos enlarged I think they were blue herons.) Finally it was if they had rearranged themselves sufficiently and the two groups, still separate, but still following each other, disappeared toward the northern horizon. It was so very cool, and maybe it was providential that I cut the extension cord, because I wouldn't have been able to hear them over the hedge clipper. (Click on images below to enlarge.)
Well, that certainly means spring is coming, dammit!
Did not notice until I brought the dog in (my bad) tonight that Mom's lamp in the foyer was out. I figured the bulb had just burned out, but when I replaced it, it still didn't work. Oh, no! Then I noticed the lighted snowman we have as part of the winter decorations was not on, either, so I went into the garage. Sure enough the breaker had been tripped. I turned it back on, and the lamp came on. The snowman did not, but the timer on it had presumably been stopped. Sure enough, stopped at 2 p.m., which, of course, was the moment I zapped the electrical cord outside. Wait a minute, you mean the foyer plug and the heavy-duty porch plug are on the same breaker? And why didn't the GFI switch on the porch plug work instead of triggering the breaker? Odd.
Anyway, finished up the evening with PBS's American Experience and "The Gilded Age." Interesting story about Henry George and more information about Coxey's Army.
» Sunday, February 04, 2018...and Then There's the Day You Want to Do Nothing
Cloudy, gloomy, raining...perfect day to stay in bed. So I did. But James couldn't sleep and ended up plunking the carcass of "Monty" the Thanksgiving turkey with carrots, celery, a bay leaf, and some spices into the stock pot to simmer. (It did all afternoon and so we had turkey soup for supper.)
But we still had to go to the store. We only had to get a few things, so we just went to Publix, but for meat we went to Nam Dae Mun. Why pay $5.99 (at least) a pound for beef when you can get it for $2.99? We found thin steaks, beef chopped into small bits for tacos, nice pork chops, and lamb steaks. Surprisingly, could not find any ghee. I'm sure they have some and we just couldn't find it, but no one knew where it might be. Maybe the other store on Spring Road has it; they do have different products.
Then we came home. The clouds and chill and grey are just making us sleepy and dull. I put some John Denver CDs on as the smell of turkey soup cooking wafted through the house. Finally James picked out the carcass a little after four, and we cleaned up and reloaded the dishwasher and put most of the soup in a container but left out some for ourselves. Completely forgot the Puppy Bowl was on, watched the repeat at six, then went on to America's Funniest Home Videos and Victoria. Found sad posts on Facebook of people who had to miss the latter for the Stupid Bowl. [shakes head] No accounting for taste!
Note to self: I don't have to wake up at 5:45 tomorrow! (Would you believe I was having nightmares about work last night? Apparently I couldn't retire before I did a big pile of closeout files—not the easier automatic closeouts, but the awful ones where you have to call the vendor to make sure they are not going to bill you again, and then have to do a modification deobligating remaining funds and do a whole bunch of paperwork involving dates that I never understood. Boy, did I wake myself up fast! [shudder])