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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» Friday, December 19, 2014
The Hurrier I Go...
I'm free, I'm free! For seventeen days, at least.

Slept badly, so when I woke at eight I had a headache. I swallowed some ibuprofin and went back to bed until 8:30, then got up when the alarm rang and was doing some things in the bathroom...when I actually woke up and discovered I had dreamed getting up and instead had slept through 46 minutes of the alarm.

So it was after nine by the time I dressed, had breakfast, then walked Tucker. It was chilly out, but brilliant, despite some gathering clouds.

Now I'd had several ideas for today; the initial had been to bake cookies. But last year something went wrong with the wine biscuits; they were fine after I baked them, but by the time New Year rolled around they started to taste bitter. Since I don't like wine and can't actually taste if it's spoilt or not, I thought it might have started to turn. It's kept downstairs in the furthest corner of the closet in the dark, but we had a warm summer and it might not have kept as cool as I'd like it. So I needed to go to Mink's to get a fresh bottle of hearty burgundy. Besides, it is supposed to rain tomorrow, a perfect day for baking cookies.

First, I ended up going to the little Smyrna post office to mail one last package. The clerk there is a guy who looks just like Santa Claus, beard and all, and one of the regulars, in line in front of me, asked him why he wasn't wearing his Santa hat. He admitted it was too hot, and I agreed with him: it was over 50 outside! :-) Then I went on to MicroCenter to look for a new cell phone case. I found one just the right width but not tall enough that the magnetic cover would latch; however, I was able to get a USB cord for James. Egads. They now have fewer computer books than Barnes & Noble.

I was relieved to stop at Mink's and actually find the hearty burgundy without having to ask for help. They are remodeling the store, and all the wine is now lined up in neat rows near the front. Last time it might have well been down a flight of stairs near a disused lavatory behind a door that said "Beware of the Leopard." I walked down the vodka aisle with mouth agape: I've never seen so many flavors! Gingerbread! Strawberry! Vanilla!

On the way home I stopped at Publix to get a baguette. Well, there were some goodies on twofer, including olives, so fifty dollars later I was home and ready for lunch: some of the baguette, milk, and the rest of the leftover turkey from Tuesday night.

For the rest of the afternoon I embarked on a marathon gift wrapping session. I got everything wrapped except for Anne's and Clay's and Lin's gifts, and I still need to do the little craft projects for a couple of people. Only need to get three small gifts and then will be done, but I can leave the wrapping paper out and put the storage boxes away. However, I needed a part for one of my projects, and I knew they didn't have it locally because I'd stopped at the store last week. So as James arrived home as I was taking Tucker for a walk, I said "You want to go to Hiram?"

It was a little crowded on the road leading up to those long, long strip shopping centers on Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway, but we managed it in good time with the power chair jouncing along in the rear. We had supper at Folks...mmm, pork chop! Christmas carols were playing on the Muzak and the Weather Channel was predicting snow for Christmas somewhere. Sadly, not here.

Then we went to Michael's to pick up that item I needed, and James practiced with the power chair going in and out the aisles. I found the cutest winter fox stickers on sale (they were labeled as "wolf," which made me laugh—red wolves with white tail-tips; yeah, right) and James bought some Necco wafers. Then we trundled down to Five Below where I picked up a couple of gifts (for next  year) and bought a toy to put in the Toys for Tots bin (a Sofia the First puzzle).

Finally home again, home again, jiggety jog, where I put on the Toy Train Show Christmas edition and then Christmas at St. Olaf.

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» Sunday, December 14, 2014
Christmas Stories, Turkey Dinner, and All That Happiness

The only thing I didn't get to do today was sleep late. Can't be helped. Took Tucker on a good walk and then had a little to eat before heading out for the day. We'd forgotten to get mushrooms when we did the shopping, so when we stopped at Publix for a paper and some money, we got them as well.

Then it was off to have some fun: we had coupons for Barnes & Noble, 25 percent off! Not much time to stop there, so we basically did a scan of the store. James found a book of fantasy military stories and I bought Simon Garfield's book about the demise of letter writing. James also found a coloring book of airplanes. I've been looking at a book bag they have for ages, with a verse about winter on it, and I ended up buying it, even though the last thing I need is another book bag. But it's nice to be reminded of winter, especially during suck-a** summer.

O the year is passing too quickly since autumn arrived: the magazines on the stands are already talking about the New Year. It's eighteen days away. Egad.

A funny: as we were getting out of the truck I was telling James I had also used the coupon online. I said happily "I bought a book about the history of punctuation!" He started to laugh and said "I love being married to you." What, you thought I was going to buy chick lit or something from someone's book club?

Then we drove down to Stockbridge for this year's "Atlanta Christmas" performance by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. We left Marietta early enough that we could stop for lunch first at the exit where we had to get off for the performance; it contained a richness of choices to eat. We had thought to stop at Zaxby's, but we noticed as we turned on to the street that there was a Piccadilly Cafeteria at the exit. We haven't eaten at Piccadilly for years, partially because the ones we used to frequent closed, and partially because we just got tired of the food looking unappetizing and being salty. This meal was much better: we had chicken and dumplings; canned gravy, but otherwise it was good, and I enjoyed the sides I picked, corn and carrot souffle. We shared a slice of chocolate cream pie for dessert. Note: Do not buy milk at Piccadilly ever again. They charged $2.25 for a half pint of milk! Did the cow have a golden udder or what?

ARTC had a nice lineup this year, even if they didn't do either of my personal favorites, "Are You Lonely Tonight" and "Oh Tannenbaum." :-) They did perform "Davy Crockett Christmas," one of my new favorites, because it was like listening to someone talk about my own childhood: black and white television and the brilliant colors of Christmas.

We talked to Caran for a while after the show, then headed back toward town to have my birthday dinner: turkey and dressing at the Colonnade, of course. Even though people come in the place in shorts, I always feel like I'm underdressed when I go there. The white tablecloths and the cloth napkins remind me of going out to eat on Thanksgiving and Mother's Day. We had a great waiter, and, despite the crowd, ate a delicious meal delivered hot. James had the pork, and we both enjoyed it immensely. I noticed there were a lot of large parties that seemed to be exchanging gifts. It's always been a good place for Christmas.

Arrived home to walk and feed Tucker, listen to Snowy singing, and relax a little before bedtime. A nice day. Thank you, God.

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All In a Birthday Weekend

This birthday weekend has gone by on the wings of swifts! After my Wednesday I really needed some time off, but it's not like I've gotten any rest. In fact, when we last met, we had a new Christmas tree in the garage, and decorations half up. On my telework day I was able to put up the airplane tree (which really needs a spotlight) and tidy up downstairs during lunch. The new library tree looks so nice!

I spent my birthday on Thursday wrapping and boxing up gifts to go in the mail. I had seven to mail, but unfortunately only four were ready, so I got to work on those. The spare room now looks like a department store gift-wrap corner threw up in it, and the copy-paper boxes with the gifts are opened all over the futon. Instead of using bows which would flatten in the mail, I used butcher's twine in red-and-white, green-and-white, and red-green-and-white, and tucked the Christmas cards in the parcels. Then I took the four finished parcels, and the Christmas cards to the post office. The line wasn't bad considering the time of year, and one man left because passports were appointment only.

I made a short side trip to Michaels so I could finish a gift (except what I bought was too small, so I did something else) and I finished three small craft gifts. Then I wrapped as many parts of the other two gifts as I could and worked on something to tuck into one of them.

For supper on Thursday night James brought me a nice brisket of beef sandwich from Firehouse Subs, and we watched Doctor Who (parts three and four of "Planet of the Spiders"—almost time for Jon Pertwee to make his final bow) and then I put on The Bishop's Wife. I just plain love this movie. I know Cary Grant hated doing it, but he makes the suavest angel ever and I'd believe anything Dudley said if he was in Grant's persona. I even love the long skating scene. Especially adore Dudley decorating the tree and typing the sermon, and the way the harp calls to him. But I watch, too, just to see the bishopric! All that woodwork! And the stained glass! The pocket panel doors! The fretwork! The library! It's so gorgeous! It's almost as luminous as Loretta Young and she always looked lighted from within.

I wish I could say I awoke rarin' to go on Friday, but I would have loved to have slept later. Now that the other two gifts were completed, and that I had the proper address for one of them, it all went together easily, and I popped them in the car and went back to the post awful. I got the same clerk as yesterday, who even recognized me.

This time I came directly home. It was time for the Christmas tree. But once I decanted it and pieced the parts together, a problem arose: there's no plug at the top of this pre-lit tree, so no place to plug in "Little Blaze," the star. So, back into my outside clothing, and I drove over to Vickery Hardware in search of an extension cord. There I was, the lone woman in the store with a bunch of working men, and I'm standing at the checkout with a 15-foot brown extension cord and three triple-taps set in front of me, and for three solid minutes not one person paid attention to me. I guess they thought I was with one of the guys. Thanks a lot, fellas.

So came home and strung the extension cord down the trunk and thus was the star plugged in; I started with all the large glass ornaments, then on to the large Hallmark and Carletons, and finally filled in with the smallest ones. Finally I hid the pickle. As always I watched Christmasy things: Christmas Is, The City That Forgot About Christmas, and three Lassie Christmas episodes as I worked.

James got home a bit early after working overtime yesterday, but I was just starting to tinsel the tree as he arrived. I could have left it and finished after we had supper...but dang, after the interruptions today I just wanted to get it complete. And it does look nice: it's perfectly formed and a good size to decorate; I always though the other was too tall. But for a tree with 400 lights on it, it's so dark. Almost all the lights are on the inside branches. The tree I got from Michaels isn't like that, and it's only four feet high but you can read under the lights from it

We had supper at Panera where the chicken soup and the bagel were a nice reward for a day's work, and then we went by Kroger to buy a baby gate to put in front of the Christmas tree. I'm sure Tucker won't be able to resist it, and if he doesn't eat the tinsel or knock over the tree, he'll try to chew the rubber camels in the manger set. Since we were there we did the weekly shopping, too.

Before bed I was able to put out the manger set, each piece in place just the way Mother would have done it every year. Now the tree is complete.

This morning we went to the Farmer's Market. It was a double test this morning: we not only took the power chair, we took Tucker as well. Luckily we found a parking space in the public lot on Powder Springs Road, although it was a trip navigating the railroad tracks and the brick sidewalk. I handled the dog and James coped with the chair. Tucker was on sensory overload: the people! the dogs! the scents! oh, and there's FOOD! He sniffed and romped from booth to booth and dog to dog, his tail wagging all the time. One bit of sad news: Cuisine on the Run, where James has been getting his chicken salad for so long, is ceasing operations. They couldn't find an USDA-rated kitchen to work in any longer and have decided to give it up. We always were so happy to talk to Stu at his tent at the market; he was always so nice, and the chicken salad was delicious.

Anyway, it turned out that The Corner Shop, the British store, was open, so we took turns going in and looking at the goodies. I bought us some ginger covered in dark chocolate and James bought some Christmas cake. It turns out that the lady who owns the shop has been sick; she has COPD and has only recently found a medicine that works for her. It must be miserable not being able to breathe like that. I'm glad she has something now.

Then we had to hustle home because I'd completely forgotten about James' club meeting. We both stopped at the house long enough to use the rest room; James then went off to Town Center and I was bound and determined to get Tucker a bath without having to kneel down at the bathtub. I found my answer at "Unleashed," a small version of Petco that has a dog wash in the back. For $10, you get a tub with adjustable platforms, a very nice high pressure water shower head, two towels, dog shampoo and conditioner, a curry brush, and a place to dry the dog. Tucker definitely knew what was going on and tried to retreat under the tub. He was put back in and restrained with a leash. I talked to him through the whole process and finally he got resigned to it, just looking at me pleadingly with big eyes, but making no struggle; he had another fit when I turned the dryer on, but I can't blame him; it was so noisy! I finally folded his ears down with one hand and used the dryer head with the other. If it was summer I wouldn't have even bothered, but it was chilly out.

Finally he was all fluffy and clean, and I picked up a little treat for him, and then went by the coats. I was hoping to find something "knit" and red, but most of them were too small and/or icky pink, but I found a cute one in blue that was his size, with "Trouble Maker" the legend on the back! As we were checking out, the clerk told me Santa Claus would be out in a few minutes to take pictures with pets for a donation. Now, we always wanted to do this with Willow, but always seemed to miss the weekend, and she was so fixated on James she probably wouldn't have sat with Santa. It seemed providential. Tucker just romped over and greeted him, let Santa pick him up—a quick squeak toy noise and the photographer snapped the picture, and in five minutes I had a print. Easy peasy.

Then I took him home via the gas station so I could feed Twilight. Now, when we got home what I should have done immediately was to finish with the decorations (the woodland tree and the foyer, because James wanted to put the space tree up with me), and maybe wrap some gifts. But after putting a few things up I realized I was developing a headache. I'd had a plain hamburger on the way to Unleashed, so I wasn't starving. I put the Army/Navy game on for Snowy and finally decided to take three ibuprofin and lie down for a half hour. Well, the futon is full of boxes, so I lay down on the bed with a fleece over me, and was out like a light until James got home at 4:45, waking only to hear some boys talking loudly outside (the bedroom window is open).

We had supper at the West Cobb Diner. Boy, was it warm in there, and crowded. You could barely hear yourself over the crowd. We had turkey as always, and took half of it home for lunches. Then we went to the used book store, 2nd and Charles, to get rid of the leftover box I had gotten back from McKays. They only took a few things, and I dumped the rest in the "free books" bin except for the DVDs. James got something with his gift card, and I found a "Reminisce" book about the Depression with what little credit I got. (There was a beautiful book about Mount Vernon, but I didn't know if I wanted it that much.)

We came home via the battlefield park and Kennesaw Avenue to admire the Christmas decorations. One house had white lights with red floodlights: stunning! Two others had those GE light balls in the trees over their homes. In that neighborhood, though, with the vintage homes, mostly white lights. It was only when we got back into our own neighborhood after James stopped for gasoline that we saw a lot of multicolor trimmings, which I prefer.

Spent the evening watching Christmasy things: "Lassie's Gift of Love," Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, The Small One, "Pluto's Christmas Tree," and finally Mickey's Christmas Carol.

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» Sunday, December 07, 2014
The End is...Out of Sight

Couldn't sleep past 8:30, even having gone to bed at two. Wretched body parts. You ought to be able to put them to sleep for a fixed amount of time like you do a phone.

So, the Dish guy was coming anywhere from noon to five; this means we had to make tracks to the grocery store. We managed it all in less than an hour, and even remembered the eggs, and good thing, too, because just before we left, Dish called again and said he was due between 11:30 and 12:45, so we were back at eleven—and I was still putting up the groceries when the tech called and said he was outside.

If he had just installed "the Hopper" and that was it, it would have been quick. However, before coming in, he checked the satellite dish itself and found it in bad shape. He ended up, I think, replacing everything including the cables, and aiming the dish to the southeast rather than to the southwest, where it has a clearer line of sight. He said we had 70 percent loss of signal on HD. And perhaps since it's now aimed in the opposite direction of where the storms come from, we won't get dropouts so often. Installing the receiver itself was a lot like installing a new version of Windows, the install and then lots of updates. But finally everything was working, including all the music channels again. It's basically the same except for lots of pictures instead of words, and we get more recording space.

The one thing I forgot to do was check to see that he had reconnected the DVD recorder back to the Hopper. This was a problem because previously the two were connected with co-ax. The Hopper doesn't have a co-ax outlet, so he said it needed to be connected with RCA cables. However, he'd left the RCA cables running from the Hopper to the TV. I spent a fruitless hour trying to figure out why the Hopper and the recorder weren't connecting even when I connected it properly. Turned out, eventually, that the input on the recorder was wrong. It needs to be on Input1.

By then I was too irritated at myself for not figuring this out earlier, and it was really too late to go anywhere. What I wanted to do was decorate the library tree, but it wasn't the happy occasion it always is. I was tired and hurting. On the other hand, I was curious to see how the new tree looked; this is the $15 I got from Michael's. And in the end it's not bad at all. Taller than the previous one, but I still managed to fill it up. It looks quite nice.

Still, everything is a wreck. I'm so far behind!

This morning at Kroger we bought some boneless pork ribs. When we got home, I browned them, and put them in the crock pot with two bottles of tomato-and-basil spaghetti sauce. So now that the library tree was done, all that it took was to cook up the rest of the fusilli and sprinkle a bit of romano cheese on the macaroni and gravy and tender, tender pork, and it was dinner time.

Later it was finally time for The Librarians. Yeah, it's cheese, but it's cute cheese. Noah Wyle is now joined by an ex-terrorism officer, a professional thief, a woman with an idetic memory, and an oil worker who has an IQ of 190 and is an art historian. The fantabulous library has become freed from reality and the only link to it is a satellite location in Oregon with the cranky Jenkins (John Larroquette) in attendance. Wyle is evidently only going to make cameo appearances while his "Scooby Gang" learns the ropes. Oh, and Matt Frewer is a recurring villain, who has absorbed a little of the magic that was released when his operative returned Excalibur to its stone.

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» Saturday, December 06, 2014
The Endless Whirl is Making Me Dizzy

Stop. Please stop. I just want to finish decorating and slow down.

So today was Hair Day. And then the great Christmas tree hunt, and finally home for some decorating.

So Hair Day goes off smashingly. We made a noodle side to complement Shannon's offering of two kinds of chicken, fried nuggets and chunks in a sesame ginger sauce. Charles brought fruit and cheese, Phyllis a relish tray, and we also had chicken nuggets in little buns. Mel and I swapped phone app stories, we talked about Thanksgiving, and finally we had cake and ice cream for Neil's and Lin's birthdays (today and tomorrow, respectively).

Meanwhile, I did a little research and discovered that the Christmas tree I liked at Lowe's is out of stock at all stores, so even if I could reconcile myself to the white lights for a tree so pretty, it wasn't to be. Sigh. So after we left Hair Day we went back to the Kmart. For a few minutes it looked like we were sunk; all that appeared to be left were the 6-foot trees with white lights. I had James pick up the 7-foot "cashmere" tree with multicolor lights (which I didn't really like—I figured maybe we could look at what Sears had and return the tree if need be) before I went around a corner and found shelves full of the multicolor version of the 6-foot-tree. It's not that good-looking a tree, but it was only $50, too. Then we just headed home, and I was determined to get back to decorating.

Well, that was the plan. I remembered that the new series The Librarians was going to start tomorrow, and with our DVR as screwed up as it is (it only updates one day in advance now), and I wanted to program it. I did, but when I actually tried to tune TNT in, it wouldn't come in, just like every single music channel we have. They started disappearing one by one after Christmas last year, and now we don't get any at all, not to mention other stations, and some of them just drop out in the middle of recording, like it did during Doctor Who a month or so ago. Plus the DVR locks up, sometimes when recording, sometimes when playing back. So first I called up SiriusXM and closed our account, as I should have weeks ago—they were surprisingly non-combative; they must have taken the Comcast story to heart. I'm finally free of "Me and Bobby McGee." :-) Then I called Dish. I've been suspecting that it was one of the LMB units in the dish itself was the problem, but the technician did some diagnostic things and said it's the receiver.

And then, amazingly, she said she could send someone out tomorrow! Now, I've got a bunch of things on the DVR, but I really, really would like a chance to record The Librarians. So instead of watching Christmas stuff, I'm doing a mass-dub of Castle, and also got off a Feasts and Seasons I didn't have. But...sigh...there's all those nice new copies of a few New Lassie episodes, and who knows how long Angel2 will be running it: January 1 is coming up fast.

I did get some decorations up: the Rudolph tree, and put our decorations in our room (not set up) and most of the decorations in the spare room.

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» Friday, December 05, 2014
Free at Last

The garage door repairman was due at nine; I set the alarm for eight. My phone rang at 7:13—he was picking up our door and was on his way. Well, so much for sleep. Up, dressed, dog-walked, and finally ate breakfast, and he arrived as I was halfway through my yogurt. It was a little after eight.

The repairman, Danny, finished before ten; in the meantime I finished decorating the dining room and the kitchen, read e-mail, put some things away. When he was finished, I inspected the job—perfect! He only had to replace one of the two rails, and, of course, all of the door. The garage door opener was not damaged. I worked it a few times and it appeared fine. So I paid the bill and he went off to his next job.

And now I'm free. I've been stuck home for four solid days, and I was lucky Puli agreed to let me telework, and that she looked into a couple of things for me so I could carry on with my work.

I cleared up a couple of other things and then left for the Apple Annie Craft Show via Publix for money. Twilight was evidently unhappy to give up his four-day doze in the garage and started up sluggishly. The weather wrapped around the world with grey clamminess; even though it was almost 60°F, it was chilly. Before getting to the church, I stopped at the little used bookstore that's on Roswell Road near the Hancock Fabrics. They are closing and all the books are 40 percent off. I didn't see anything worth having.

After that I spent a pleasant hour or so wandering about the craft booths in the classrooms. Well, if I want to do crafts after I retire, maybe beadwork is out—nearly half the vendors there were selling home-made jewelry. Some was unique, made with polished rock, but most was just ordinary bead-and-chain work. All very pretty. Also saw cute kids' clothes, soaps, ribbon bows, Christmas decorations, stained glass, some lovely woodwork like cutting boards and lazy susans in all sorts of woods and patterns, artwork (one wonderful painting of a husky staring into the "camera"), and more. I miss the "prim lady," and they put the "papyrus lady" in the gym this year. The Asian woman who makes the cunning miniature flower arrangements from clay wasn't there.

I had no money for any of it, but just window-shopped. I bought a couple of things from the bake shop and church office (all the proceeds are for charity): ginger molasses cookies and buckeyes that we can have for dessert, and Kahlua fudge for me, and then did my very favorite thing: went into the Garden of Reconcilation. This is a central courtyard with a path around the perimeter, a statue of St. Francis and another of St. Anne, a big cross, and a stone waterfall in the center with a figure weeping in front of it. The entire place was scattered with American oak leaves from end to end and I crunched through them as I walked around the waterfall, visited St. Francis, then went to sit in one of the cafe chairs near the St. Anne statue. I love it in there. The only sounds (well, beside the intrusive airplane overhead) were the waterfall spattering down over the stones and the wind rustling the papery leaves left on the tree. Once a small whirlwind sent a shower of leaves down. For those moments, the aggravation of work yesterday faded away, and I was calm and so happy.

I went into the sanctuary and said a prayer before I left.

Now I was hungry, so I cut through the "back"—Bishop Lake Road (I always laugh when I see Bishop Lake; hon, where I come from, we call that a pond) to a short bit of Johnson Ferry Road to Sewell Mill, which skips all of that Roswell Road nonsense. Then up East Piedmont, which becomes Piedmont, which at Bells Ferry Road is then Barrett Parkway, and here I am at Barnes & Noble ready to have a bagel and some cocoa.

They were out of bagels. ::grump:: Everything they had left was sweet. I passed. I had a 20 percent off coupon and a $10 gift card from B&N that came in the mail yesterday, so I picked up the new volume of Valdemar short stories, the Christmas issue of "Landscape," and the British magazine "Style at Home." The lady at the checkout counter told me she had survived the evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina!

Came home through Kennesaw Avenue to observe the progress of Christmas decorations on the big houses, and through downtown Marietta.

It was almost four o'clock, so by the time I took Tucker for his afternoon walk, there wasn't much time to do anything else. James was home on time and we went to eat off something cheap: the IHOP senior menu. Next to KMart. The Christmas tree I liked best last year still looks a bit skimpy, so we went past Lowes to see the tree I liked (except for the white lights).

It's gone. Oh, dear.

So I'm nursing my feelings and wondering what to do next, and watching A Peter, Paul & Mary Holiday Concert..

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» Monday, December 01, 2014
Sunny Skies Followed by Weariness and Disaster

And the day started so well.

We slept (mostly) eight hours, got up for a good breakfast while I ordered one prescription online. I turned the other two in at Kroger, then we bought gasoline, then we did the weekly grocery shopping, and then we picked up the prescriptions before we left. I had to laugh. They had small Christmas trees, like the original Christmas trees the Germans originated; they were always tabletop trees. Kroger was calling them "elf trees." I remember the two years we had an "elf tree": in 1957, when my dad's mother died. Possibly in 1963 after my mother's parents had both died. Oddly, I don't remember that Christmas at all; in 1963, it was all about President Kennedy.

We put the groceries away and then decided to take the power chair on another run. We got it on the truck okay, but between the weight and the wind (it was warm this morning and we shed jackets before we left), James had to get used to driving it on the freeway and he didn't feel comfortable going over sixty. It's definitely making the truck feel different to ride in, never mind drive. However, we arrived at Sprouts in good order and did some shopping there, and bought sandwiches from the deli. We took those across the street and had delicious dark, hot chocolate at the chocolate shop at the Prado along with the sandwiches, eating outside at one of the tables (by then it was definitely warm enough), watching the Christmas shoppers go by and people lose their tempers in the parking lot. Then James negotiated the sidewalk and steered his way around inside Barnes & Noble. I bought a copy of "Time" (sorry, I was seduced by the Benedict Cumberbatch side of the Force) and the new Sleepy Hollow magazine. James used the 30 percent off coupon on the book The Martian.

By then I was already wiped out from the sun, the warm, and having to help get the chair out and off the ramp; James was having some trouble with it, as it doesn't have traction all the time, something we will have to make note of when we go back to the Mobility people for his "checkup." Plus he got his finger jammed when he was working with the lift. But we did stop at Trader Joe's and get some cranberry bars, potatoes, and a few other things.

It was better heading home—but that's when it happened. We pulled in the driveway. Now, the chair has to go into the garage when the truck is not physically in residence; it's a small garage and there's just not room around the vehicles to get the chair inside. So he stopped before opening the garage door, figuring he'd lower the chair, then open the garage door, and get it in before pulling the truck in. Unfortunately, the driveway is on a tilt, and James didn't think he was close enough for the lift to lay down flat. He wanted to pull up just a few inches to make sure the lift platform was flush to the concrete. I suggested "Why not just put it in neutral since you already shut the engine off?" Well, he did, and the truck, with the chair on the back, started to roll...really fast, because of the 500 pounds additional weight. He hit the brake but his foot slipped off it and smack we went into the garage door. The truck is okay, if scratched on the hood, but the garage door is toast. So instead of walking the dog and then putting decorations up while James warmed up the turkey leftovers, I was walking the dog and calling the insurance company. Great, they don't have any authorized repair shops. I have to get quotes. [snarl]

To feel better I put on the first of our Christmas favorites tonight, "Merry Gentlemen" from All Creatures Great and Small, "First Noel" from To the Manor Born, and "Silly, But It's Fun..." from The Good Life (Good Neighbors), and finally a little bit of Dave Allen for a good laugh. In the meantime I went online and advertised what I needed in garage repair on "Thumbtack" (I'd used this before, at work, to try to get quotes for a catering job for an awards ceremony) and already have one response. The quote seems a little bit low; not sure if this guy knows how bad the door is bashed in. The bottom two panels are completely wrecked, and that includes the handle that locks the garage when you don't have a garage door opener on it. The frame may be torn up, too.

Yes, that's my credit card you hear screaming. Again.

Oh, and I did managed to get some decorations up after all: the electric candles in the front and back windows, and the Christmas wreaths on the doors upstairs, and the mistletoe. :-) I also cleaned the Thanksgiving things off the porch and at least put the wreath and the Christmas flag up, because it looked silly to have Christmas candles up with Thanksgiving decorations. I took the decorations off the porch right after I'd walked Tucker for the night; I left him for, at the most, five minutes and don't you know he went after that poor turkey again? At least this time it only got wet! Earlier he had absconded with one of the two small, stuffed gingerbread men that go on our bedroom door and secreted it in his crate. We found it before his teeth did any damage, but we found the remains of a plastic spoon and one of the casters for the bottom of the dining room chairs there, too!

It's not like we don't give this dog chew toys! He has three chew bones, a Kong, and an antler. Sheesh!

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» Saturday, November 29, 2014
Over the River and Through the Interstate

We spent the day visiting with the family in Warner Robins. We spent about a half hour wondering if we were even going to get down there, as we ran into a mystery jam for about twenty miles. I drove on the way down and listened to This Week in Tech talking about net neutrality while James tried out his tablet. It was a sunny day and we started out in jackets and had to shed them by the time we arrived. And it's going to be worse tomorrow!

James' sister Sherii and her husband Bobby were down from South Carolina, and we sat around yakking for a while, then had a great lunch at Applebee's. We got to tour Reese and Bobby's new travel trailer, which still has the new trailer smell. :-) It has a nice bedroom cubby behind a wall; the television reverses so you can watch in bed or in the living/dining area. Even a nice little oven and a small fridge, plus a bathroom and some bunks in the back. James' youngest sister Sabra came over after we finished lunch and we talked some more, then left about six. Listened to two episodes of "The Splendid Table" and then some Gaelic Storm, fighting the same mystery jams on the way home.

Walked Tucker and later chatted with Emma.

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» Friday, November 28, 2014
Awake (Sorta) With a Credit Card

or "I Swore I Wouldn't Buy More Wrapping Paper, But..."

For some idiot reason, we stayed up late last night, even though James had to work today, so when that alarm rang we were both shell-shocked. I had intended to take Tucker out before I left, but even he wasn't awake yet. So I left and went up to Town Center with various slips of paper and coupons on me. At Bed, Bath & Beyond, with a 20 percent off of everything, I bought an oven thermometer, a bottle of "Cola Free" for James' Soda Stream, and some new wooden spoons. They gave me a coupon for $5 off $20 at Cost Plus World Market next door, so I went in, got the free Downton Abbey cup, and bought some crackers for the Twelfth Night party, little bottles of clotted cream for Christmas morning, some baker's twine in red/white/green, and some Christmas candy (rock candy cuts in different flavors). When I got home I put the latter in a bowl, and it's our first Christmas decoration. :-)

I stopped at Target for something, and reminded myself why Target frustrates me so. They seem to not have anything, but yet appear untidy and crowded. I did find a new rubber bone for Tucker, and I looked at the Christmas trees (goodness, nothing under 7 feet!) and lights, but I wasn't there long, just long enough for me to go into Best Buy (which wasn't crowded at all) and pick up season seven of The Big Bang Theory. I did notice they had Samsung Galaxy 5 phones in an exclusive color, steel blue.

With a 25 percent off everything (including sale items), I bought a few small things in Michaels, and a new library tree, pre-lit and 4-feet high. After all the discounts it was $15. Then I hopped next door to JoAnn. I swore I wasn't going to buy anymore Christmas wrapping paper, but $3.99 rolls were 99¢ each, and then I had a 25 percent off everything (including sale items) coupon, so four of them ended up costing me $3.00. Also got a few small things and "Cross Stitch Collection."

By then I was starving, so I beat feet over to the Barnes & Noble and had some hot cocoa and a bagel. I used my 30 percent off coupon to buy How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman, who was part of the crew on the BBC's Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, etc. I love her because she's not afraid to experiment with all aspects of historical life. You won't hear her whining about not being able to wear makeup like those twits on Frontier House! Also picked up three magazines and a remainder book about A Christmas Story.

And then...yes! I went next door into CD Warehouse and found a nice used copy of An Adventure in Space and Time!

Came home through Kennesaw National Battlefield Park and downtown Marietta, immediately took Tucker out upon arriving home, and, after putting about half of my purchases away, conked out on the futon for almost two hours. (I found out later from the FitBit that we'd only slept four hours and forty minutes!)

James arrived home about three o'clock. Now, yesterday, my stupid phone had gotten on my last nerve. We had to get to Leigh's house for Thanksgiving dinner and remembered the house, but not the precise directions. So I put it into the GPS of my phone, and right as we needed to make the essential turn, the stupid phone rebooted. I was tired of not having GPS access in the afternoon on my way home from work, too. Anne and Clay had mentioned they liked their Samsung Galaxy 5 phones, so I told James about the blue phones at Best Buy.

Holy cow, the place was packed! Everyone must have come over after work, and there was a line to get to talk to the cell phone rep! Was a blue phone worth it? No. So we drove across the parking lot to the Verizon store. They were loaded for bear: someone met you at the door and put your name on a waiting list. Everything was done on iPads. We didn't wait all that long, and, although the activation and the transfer of a few of James' pictures (he had some old photos of Willow he didn't want to lose) took a bit, we were out of there by seven o'clock.

Oh, and we didn't get the Samsungs after all. They had several free phones, but when I said we were looking for long battery life, we were shown the new Motorola Droid Turbo. It's running the latest build, KitKat, and had all sorts of bells and whistles and supposedly the battery lasts for fifty hours. I don't believe that, but if it lasts all day at hard (i.e. DragonCon) use, it's worth it. You can't swap batteries, but I feel better about that since I have one of those battery-charger sticks and it does work. So bye-bye went the Nexuses without a qualm.

Plus, the new phones are red!

They also had a new tablet that was free this weekend, the Ellipsis 8. James took one look at it and fell in love. The only charge we paid was the taxes on the phones and money for a tablet cover.

Dinner was from Dragon. I also finished repairing the turkey Tucker had savaged with the help of needle and thread, two black beads for eyes, and a brown Sharpie. Spent the other parts of the evening reprogramming the new phone!

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» Thursday, November 27, 2014
Friends, Food, and Flummery

There are never enough hours in the day to do what I wish! I wanted to sweep and wash the kitchen and bathroom floors yesterday and never got to it. James had finally put all the plastic storage away, so I exchanged the step-shelves on the counter which holds veggie flakes, additional spices, etc. for a taller but narrower one. Everything can be seen now. I did get some books reviewed.

James got home early because work had slowed to a crawl. He had bought some accoutrements for his power chair (a storage pouch and a drink holder, and also a flag), so we put the first two on. (Will have to study on how to get the flag on; we don't want to fasten it on before he has the back of the chair adjusted.) Since we were already down in the garage, I suggested we fix the truck's passenger side mirror. It broke several weeks ago, and I had ordered a replacement from Amazon which came with all that we needed to install, including super-sticky adhesive. I removed it from the box, placed it up against the broken one, and noted with approval that it would fit perfectly.

And then I dropped the wretched thing. Unprintable comments follow.

I ordered a new one as soon as we got upstairs. How provoking!

This evening we watched several Thanksgiving specials, The History of Thanksgiving, A New England Thanksgiving, and another Food Network special about the history of the foods, and then, finally, my favorite of all, The Thanksgiving Treasure, the second of the Addie Mills specials in which an eleven-year-old Addie befriends a crotchety old farmer in order to emulate the Pilgrims befriending the Indians. She does have an ulterior motive—he owns a horse and Addie is crazy about horses—but learns to think of him as a friend. This is my copy that I recorded off the Disney Channel so long ago when Disney had decent programming, but I discovered that they have re-released the first Addie Mills story, The House Without A Christmas Tree on a double bill with a professional copy of The Thanksgiving Treasure! I still have many Amazon points, so I ordered it.

This morning I was up at eight o'clock to go after a newspaper. I was awed by its size. On Sunday we usually buy a double paper to get twice the coupons, and this behemoth was even bigger than the two of them. And the Constitution takes advantage of the desire for this paper: once upon a time the Thanksgiving paper was the same price as the daily paper. Several years ago they started charging Sunday paper prices, and today they charged a dollar more than that! Once I got home I walked Tucker and then settled in to watch the Macy's Parade and then the National Dog Show. During commercial breaks and Broadway spots I baked a chocolate peppermint loaf to take along, read the paper, and pulled out ads I was interested in. There's nothing we need, but I'd like to get season seven of Big Bang Theory and some flannel pajama bottoms for James. And I really want to look into getting a new phone. Today we were heading to Leigh Boros' house and the GPS gave me trouble, and then the phone rebooted at the crucial turn. Enough!

So the best part of the day came during Thanksgiving dinner with all our friends. We shared turkey and ham and pot roast, rice (James made Uncle Ben's wild rice and put toasted almonds in it; fabulous!) and corn casserole and stuffing, and sweet potatoes, cranberries and beets, with pumpkin and raspberry pies and the chocolate loaf (which was overdone on top but still tasted good) for dessert. We sat at the table and told pet stories about half the night while another contingent watched football, and we finally headed home about eight, full of good food and good fellowship.

Finished the night watching the last half hour of Airplane! and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

And finally, Counting-Our-Blessings on Thanksgiving Day:
Having Willow for nearly 16 years.
For Snowy who sings and speaks and enjoys his teevee and loved vacation.
For Tucker, who freed us from our Slough of Despond.
For a warm home on a cold day (and, conversely, for a cool home on a warm day months ago).
For family (from Georgia all the way up to Rhode Island, and everywhere in between and out west) and friends who have become family (too many to name here) and long-distance friends.
For Kaiser who gave James his chair without quarrel.
For work, which buys us the things we love.
For autumn days and books, and conventions and books, and places to go and things to see and winter afternoons...and did I mention books?
And so much for those who serve: the police, the firefighters, the EMTs, the highway patrol, the doctors, the nurses, the social workers, the soldiers, the sailors, the flyers, the guards, and the volunteers. You are truly blessings, each and every one.

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» Sunday, November 23, 2014
The Best Place to Spend a Cold, Wet Afternoon?

A bookstore of course.

Before that, we slept. Oh, how we slept! I'm not sure how we stayed up last night, as tired as we were...well, I was chatting with Emma for a while, and even there I dozed off. I woke up at 9:30, took some ibuprofin, and went back to bed until ten. Then Tucker was perambulated in the rain and we had what was a sad little breakfast next to what Trish provided us every morning. And, oh, it was a rainy day. It drizzled in the morning, and then in the afternoon the heavens let go.

Of course we ended up going out in the thick of it, just as the thunder began. But all I had to face was putting all the vacation things away, and I really Did Not Want to Do It Just Now. So we went to Publix to pick up a newspaper, plus the fixings we need for our share of Thanksgiving dinner. Found a few other things on buy-one-get-one as well, and they had the cutest little Christmas reusable shopping bags, so I bought a couple: a snowflake on blue design and another with two snowmen inside a heart made of Christmas motifs.

Then we went on to Barnes & Noble because I had coupons. James didn't find anything, but I bought the newest Mrs. Jeffries mystery. I've always wondered what these were like, so I figured I'd get this Christmas story to see what the series was about. Plus I picked up the November/December "Landlove" and the Christmas issue of "A Primitive Place and Country Journal." I love prims!

For the rest of the afternoon and the evening I alternatively got things put away and just did "stuff": cleared out the toiletries/electronics bag and James heaved it back on its shelf, and half the bags were emptied (chocolates, pet stuff—although it isn't all put away, etc.). I put up the autumn tree from Cracker Barrel, which throws out a surprising lot of light, and put the books up, put the chocolates on the table, and put away the snacks we'd taken with us, and various other boring things. Made the bed, sorry to say did not start the laundry, although I got the first load in the washer, and finished reading Fear in the Sunlight; read my new cross-stitch magazines, watched North Woods Law and Alaska: the Last Frontier. Tried to watch Netflix like we did last night, but it wouldn't connect. (I had put "Journey to Babel" on and was amazed at the detail in these remastered Star Trek episodes, like braid on Kirk's uniform and the embroidery on Sarek's tunic. Of course all the defects in the makeup of the time show up, too; you can tell the Tellarites are wearing masks.) Instead I watched some season eight Lassie episodes I found on YouTube.

Right before sunset the clouds started clearing away. I looked up through the dining room windows to see an unearthly yellow glow over all the trees in the back yard. They have turned rather dull colors this year, but with the light on them they positively glowed even with faded color. (The camera could not pick up what my eyes saw; a pity!) Then I peeked down into the foyer and it looked as if chromium yellow light was streaming all over the lawn. I raced outside with my camera on panorama setting to this:

Ten minutes later the sky over the houses was a vivid orange, with purple above, and when it winked out it was like a light switch going off. Absolutely lovely!

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» Saturday, November 22, 2014
51 Years Ago Today
Frank McGee signs off, November 22, 1963

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Nothing Happened Today...
...except that we came home, and that's good. We had no accidents, only left behind an old towel that went over the dog crate and some ham, everything was okay when we got home. So, "nothing" was excellent indeed.

Ate our last breakfast at Trish's, and were so sad to give them up! There's nothing in Atlanta that would equal the breakfast I've been having every day for a week, especially that big bowl of real oatmeal, at the price. Even worse, they were having Thanksgiving dinner today, starting at eleven, but we had to check out at ten and we certainly couldn't leave Tucker or Snowy in the car in these temps (it was in the 20s this morning). Trish even offered to make us some to go, but after we puzzle-pieced the car together, there wasn't one inch of it that was free that wouldn't have been in range of Tucker's hungry little mouth. So we sadly drove on.

We bought gasoline before we left, and we certainly are going to miss the prices at least 20 cents cheaper than Atlanta (there are a couple places on the Parkway that are down to $2.44, 30 cents cheaper). We had to stop to re-secure the Rollator (twice) and ate at Krystal just because it was easiest. At our last stop, the Georgia Welcome Center (where they had a nifty Christmas tree decorated with origami shapes), Tucker sniffed noses with a chihuahua. He's really had his nose out of joint on this trip, even though we played with him every night. He wanted to sleep on us, and he wasn't supposed to be on the furniture. The only thing he seemed to like was the walk every morning and evening up and down that gravel road. I will never forget him pouncing on those leaves! Snowy, on the other hand, has had a grand old time and sang continuously all the way home, faltering only the last few miles as he got a sleepy look, but couldn't manage the nap because the ride was occasionally bumpy.

We arrived home at 4:30, put the animals back in their accustomed places, and wearily dragged our bottoms to Kroger. It's supposed to pour tomorrow and neither of us wanted to go grocery shopping in it. Plus I needed milk! And we wanted dinner. So we have everything but a newspaper, including our own turkey (thighs), which we'll make tomorrow night for dinner.

And tomorrow it's time to do laundry and coo over the books and the birdie and the puppy.

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» Friday, November 21, 2014
Like the Ghost of Christmas Present...Our Time Grows Short
"Last day." Two of the saddest words: "Last day."

In the meantime, it all started out as always: we woke, we dressed, I walked Tucker, we had breakfast at Trish's. Wish the cabin wasn't reserved for tomorrow, because then I could ask for a late checkout, and we could have Thanksgiving dinner there, but alas, booked until Tuesday. But we will get to enjoy one more breakfast.

Today we drove into Gatlinburg and just enjoyed ourselves. James wanted to go to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, so we did. It was fun. This is the collection of George Barris, who designed custom cars for Hollywood movies and television. Several cars sit in the doorway, including "Jethro Gibbs'" car from NCIS. (From his dad, played by Ralph Waite, and there was a nice printout memorializing Waite near the car.) Inside, the biggest draw is the Batmobile from the Batman TV series in the 1960s. There were five of them made from the only Lincoln Futura ever constructed (also used in a Glenn Ford movie), and this was number four. Other cars were the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, the Ectomobile (Ghostbusters), the only surviving Jeep truck of three made for "Jo Harding" (Helen Hunt) in Twister, Andy Taylor's Mayberry police car (autographed by Don Knotts on the glovebox), Herbie the Love Bug, the Flintstone car from the movie with John Goodman, KITT from Knight Rider (with William Daniels dialog), some Fast and Furious cars and one from Transformers, Grandpa's coffin dragster from The Munsters, a Delorean (without the Mr. Fusion; with the hook) from Back to the Future, the Batmobile from the Keaton Batman, the Beverly hillbillies truck from the movie, Bob Hope's car that he used in Palm Springs, a Dolly Parton car, one of Elvis' cars and a Mercedes once belonging to Michael Jackson, a M*A*S*H series jeep, one of the 007 cars (along with gadgets from "M" and Bond's guns; so that's what a Walther PPK looks like)...and more. About half the cars had other movie memorabilia with them: the BatComputer, lobby cards, a map of the backlot at the time The Andy Griffith Show was filmed, Terminator bodies and props, etc. The neatest thing was something you might have missed looking at the celebrity cars: there was an old motorcycle and sidecar labeled that this was the first motorcycle to cross the Marne during World War I, the passenger being Black Jack Pershing!

Then we just walked down the street a bit--James still can't go far, even with "Topper."* We stopped at the Candy Kitchen (the one invaded by a bear in 2013) and I bought some orange creams, some almond bark since Trader Joe's has quit carrying theirs, and James got some sugar-free meltaways. By that time it was lunchtime, and we ate at Shoney's (had we known there was a Texas Roadhouse in the other direction, we could have limped down there and got a decent meal for cheaper than a mediocre one--we had the buffet and it was just plain "blah"). Then we turned around and came back, stopping at the Paula Deen store and having ice cream at Baskin-Robbins for dessert.

And then we were done with downtown, and we made the final trip back up the East Parkway. Before I took my coat off, I rearranged a bunch of stuff in the car so that we can get the birdcage, the dog, and our suitcases in the  back for the trip home. The Russell Stover stuff went in one bag, the other was used for the McKay's books except for the four largest ones, which I put on the decking. The cross stitch and Books-a-Million stuff went in back of the passenger seat with James' shirt and today's chocolates. So the trunk is cleared, and so is the back seat. And Tucker had his penultimate walk through the leaves.

It's time for supper, so I will close.

* You may be wondering why, since we were able to get James' power chair before we left, why we didn't take it with us. Well, a minor thing: James thought Tucker and Snowy would ride better in the car. Every time Snowy twitches, Tucker gets excited, and James didn't know if we could cope with that in the cab. But the major reason was that we are in the same row of cabins we stayed at last year (the cabin we stayed in, however, appears to no longer be managed by Stony Brook), and every single one of them has a porch that is raised from the ground and there is no ramp. I also remembered a slightly-high doorstep. We would have had no way of getting the chair on the porch, and, had we managed it somehow (backing in and lowering the platform onto the deck?), possibly then not in the cabin.

Of course when we got here we discovered this cabin is the one cabin that does not have a step-up porch and the entry is a minimum bump. But, "thems the breaks." Because we didn't know we'd get the chair on time, we had arranged that this would be a limited-movement excursion. Next year, as mom always said, "with the help of God and a few policemen," we will work on Tucker's behavior, get a handicap access place to stay, and take the truck/chair.

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» Thursday, November 20, 2014
We Do Knox
Well, we did get up early, and even Trish commented upon it when we entered the restaurant! Hoever, we still didn't get to Knoxville until 11:30. We went "the back way," which should have gotten us to Knoxville way before eleven, but we stopped for gas. Then the seat on the Rollator popped up during the drive. Not only was I worried about it coming off somehow, but the minute it did pop up you could feel the car fighting against it; it was forming a dive brake back there. We stopped at the side of the freeway, and then again a few miles up at the Russell Stover store because 12-ounces of milk and a small glass of orange juice had done its work, and the stupid seat had popped up again. But finally it was secure.

We stopped at McKay's Used Books, just off I-40, and had a great couple of hours browsing. I probably overdid it, but I still didn't finish up all my credit, and I paid for James' books, too, including a $12 cloud atlas he's been wanting. I mean, Mencken's The American Language and its supplement, which is as thick, or perhaps thicker, for $8 total? A German Christmas album featuring James Galway? A book called Trench Talk about World War I vocabulary? A history book about American women and another about Victorian women? A Noel Streatfeild? A Christmas gift? I didn't find the other two Krulik Lassie books I wanted, or any "Dear America" I didn't have, but...them's the breaks at used bookstores.

We had lunch at Texas Roadhouse; they have something they call an early dinner, $9 for nine different dishes. We both had yummy six-ounce sirloins, mine with applesauce and sauteed onions. James had mushrooms and corn with his. Excellent rolls as well.

Then I did a quick run at A.C. Moore; I always take advantage of being in a Moore town, because they definitely have different stock from JoAnn and Michael's. However, it's obvious they will never carry the little wooden embellishments, about postage-stamp size, that I used to love, and unique items were very thin this year: I did get a new Christmas banner although I don't want to get rid of my Father Christmas, even though he's getting quite yellow. This has birds all over a Christmas mailbox, which will tell you why I was attracted to it. Also got some pretty chains, some small cross-stitch frames, Rhode Island (!!!!) and New Hampshire scrapbook stickers (ironically they had no Tennessee), and something for James.

Then we drove back to Sevierville. Instead of going down "Glitter Gulch" (even though it was around three and not crowded), I headed back down Dolly Parton Parkway to head back to the cabin via the opposite end of our back route into town. But I made a wrong turn. This was actually fortuitous because we ended up on the East Parkway just as we wanted to, just a little closer to Gatlinburg, and we drove through some nice countryside: some suburban-looking clusters of homes, but more often woods, mountainsides, fields of cattle and pastures with horses, little crossroads with local convenience stores and gas stations, and for several miles we paralleled the river. It was all very pleasant, and we still arrived back at the cabin before dark.

I am going to miss walking Tucker up and down the road! Last year, about midweek someone came and cleaned out the dead leaves on either side (cabins on one side, the laundry shed on the other), but it is still thick with a plush carpet of leaves. Either Tucker is imagining things, or there are little field mice or chipmunks or something scurrying under them. I spent ten minutes tonight convulsed by his freezing, then pouncing, like the fox in the snow in the Yellowstone Park Christmas video, on where he "hears" something moving underneath. He buries his nose in the leaves and snuffles and snorts, then wheels and leaps and pounces again. It's better than television.

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» Wednesday, November 19, 2014
An Interesting Detour
Our original plan was to drive into Knoxville today.

However, by the time breakfast was over, it was already 10:30, and since I still had to call and make reservations for the dinner theater one day this week (we get a free ticket to the Lumberjack Feud, which I wanted to see last year, but we were too damn sick), I had decided to do it after breakfast and thought, well, we'll do that tonight. And since we picked the early show, we had to be there by 4 p.m.

So we will get up earlier tomorrow and go then.

Today we started out by driving out to the needlework store in Wears Valley; I would drive out to Wears Valley anyway, without the shop, since it's such a pretty ride. Must be lovely at peak! It is cold this morning, but without the snow and the wind, nothing like yesterday, although I should have started the car before bed last night, as it started very sluggishly.

I got a couple of Prairie Schooler patterns, two "Stoney Creek" magazines (no one in Atlanta sells them), an old "Just Cross Stitch" with a pretty autumn band sampler, a magnetic wrist bracelet to hold needles, and some two-ended needles. I always feel nostalgic when I walk in because there's a tatting display right in the doorway; my mom did shuttle tatting for years.

Next we drove out to the Russell Stover outlet store, which is almost at I-40. James found very little in sugarless candy that we can't get in Walmart, but we got our Christmas chocolate for the season; eating one for dessert a night I think we will still have enough by Epiphany. I bought a box (24) of the peppermint bark snowmen, a box of those wonderful dark-chocolate covered gingerbread Santas, and a half-dozen each of dark-chocolate covered caramel and dark-chocolate covered mint. Also picked up cashew brittle and some candy for friends.

Heading back in from the outer edge of the Parkway, we stopped at Smokey Mountain Knife Works. I can't describe this as a Bass Pro or Cabela-like shop; they don't carry fishing gear or a lot of camping stuff. They do have knives, from Case to other models, plus guns, tarted-up knives (with sequins and junk), some camping and camo things, specially-made swords from fantasy movies like The Lord of the Rings, and downstairs there is gourmet food, barbecue paraphenalia, kitchen gadgets, etc. The neatest part of the store is the Relic Corner, which carries old things you can buy: Civil War trash found on battlefields (bullets, belt buckles, etc.), older relics like Revolutionary War things (Hessian buttons, musket balls), fossils, 19th Century medicine bottles, dinosaur coprolites, fragments of mammoth bone, etc. Very neat.

We left there early enough to stop at Kroger to get James more Coke Zero, then arrived at the Lumberjack Feud in good time. They saw James' Rollator and put us a front row so we didn't have to climb stairs, so we got a really good view of all the action. All the actors are actual winners of lumberjack contests (men and women), and they do old-fashioned lumberjack activities like log rolling, speed tree climbing, etc. in the framework of a corny but entertaining show about two feuding lumberjack families, the Dawsons and the McGraws. You also see the "Timber Dogs" (three Labradors and what looked like a redbone hound) do several feats like water jumps and fetching balls while walking on logs, and a black horse named Bill came out several times to deliver logs on skids.

We got the Christmas show, in which a maniac elf named Elfred comes from the North Pole to Pigeon Forge, where he's found the perfect Christmas tree. Both families want to cut it down, since, since the National Park opened, they've been out of work. So the ranger decides that a contest will be held to decide who will cut down the tree. This leads into demonstrations with climbing, chopping, two-man sawing, one-man sawing, chain saws, and finally the log rolling. Santa Clause appears via "Elftime" to say both families will benefit if he builds a road to the Park (one family will open the 17 pancake houses in the 3 mile stretch and the other will open amusements which will make them all rich), so everyone technically wins.

We were served dinner in "bear proof" tin lunchboxes that latched shut: a complete holiday dinner of turkey, dressing, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and tri-color corn, with a roll each, a drink, and a surprisingly not overly sweetened apple cobbler. The pre-show was a bluegrass trio singing standards and Christmas music. It was a lot of fun. We even got a show souvenir, a "lumberjack cookie" (a slice of wood sawed in one of the contests) that I got autographed by all of the Dawson performers, the Ranger, and the maniac Elfred.

Yeah, and we bought the photo they took of us, just like last year at Biltmore. In fact it's the same outfit who takes the pics at Biltmore.

Back to the cabin for an early bedtime...I hope!

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