Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Wednesday, March 25, 2020
The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window... is dark now, but, watching the news, it's been dark for the past few days, even when the sun was out.

I am thinking...
...or trying not to think, while being mindful of our health, and washing hands. Since we really must go out to the grocery store, the paranoia is kind of hard to hold off. I went to Lidl today and sprayed the handle of the cart with alcohol, and the checkout screen, and used wipes. You hardly want to pick anything up.

I am thankful...
...for family and friends who are well.

In the kitchen...
...dirty dishes again. We had roast chicken and air-fried onion rings for dinner this afternoon. The latter was quite good! We think it needs nine minutes to cook instead of ten, but they were still luscious, and the onions used were very sweet. We were surprised because this was the cheap Publix brand.

I am wearing... Andy Runton "Owly" blue t-shirt, blue-grey-and-white buffalo check pajama bottoms, and white socks.

I am creating...
...nothing right now. I did cook chicken this afternoon. Not feeling like creating much now, although I should be.

I am going...
...right now, no one's going anywhere, unless they're six feet apart! But remember, folks, you don't have to stay inside! Fresh air is the best thing for you to beat off illness. Just don't be close to other people!

I am wondering... long all this can keep up. Small businesses are already suffering. Today Georgia government shut down hair salons and nail shops. I don't use either, but I know many paychecks are acquired through them. Restaurants? Hotels? Indie bookstores? What will happen?

I am reading...
..."dead tree": the second volume of the letters of Dorothy L. Sayers. Magazine: "Reminisce." E-book: The Journals of Beatrix Potter (but my loan ends on that today).

I am hoping... everyone else, that they find something to treat COVID-19. The stories of people's deaths are so heartbreaking: the 47-year-old, the 17-year-old boy, the elderly priest in Italy who gave up his ventilator to a younger patient...

I am looking forward to...
...freedom (and toilet paper not being a rare commodity!)

I am learning...
...impatience with stupid or callous people, like the jerk who spit on someone. Unmannerly brutes!

Around the house...
...James is gaming, Tucker is trying to find food (we had to put him on a diet; the vet says he's two pounds overweight), Snowy's been singing but is quiet now except for an occasional kiss, and the television is chattering with more closedown messages.

I am pondering...

A favorite quote for today...
"It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it." . . . Rainer Maria Rilke

One of my favorite things...
...having a mandarin orange at night. James and I started doing this over a year ago, and it's such a homely [in the British sense] little habit that makes us feel as if everything is okay.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Picking up my prescription refills, a trip to Publix, and then it's back to social distancing for us.

A peek into my day...
How about a peek into quite a few days ago? This is my friend Juanita with her new Sheltie puppy Riley! Yes, he's as adorable as he looks!

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



» Saturday, March 14, 2020
A Day Out

James decided he would go to his club lunch and meeting today. He promised to take precautions. So I let him go off, power chair in tow, and I decided I'd better go out before something else happened and everything got shut down like in Italy. I decided to go to Barnes & Noble. I was very careful, splashed alcohol on my hands before I went in, opened the door with a wet wipe, didn't get in close contact to anyone. The crowd was smaller than usual, but everyone there didn't act any differently. Checked out a book about female flyers during WWII, and opened the book in the middle to find the narrator referring to Jackie Cochran as "Ms. Cochran." Okay, I hadn't checked out the rest of the book. Perhaps this was an older woman narrating the story from the future. Nope POV through the entire book takes place in 1941. Characters refer to Jackie Cochran throughout as "Ms." Sorry, won't be reading that book. If you set it in 1941, I expect it to be historically accurate. What's next? The characters refer to burning their bras? Anyway, I had a 20 percent off coupon which I spent on a Tristan Gooley nature book, and then I picked out a book for me and a book for James: me the new book about the Carolina watermen and him about the Doolittle raid. I opened the door out with my shoulder and used wipes when I got in the car.

I had an extra protein at Tin Drum, so I went over there for a take-out lunch, discussing with the cashier the utter absurdity of having to emphasize to adults the necessity of washing your hands! Used a wipe after this as well, and stopped at Nam Dae Mun on the way home. They actually had some disinfecting sprays left! (I got one.) And food left, although it was rather scant. I got huge turkey legs (which I had to leave in the fridge because there was no room in the freezer), a nice round steak, and some pork chops, oh, and some low-sodium teriyaki sauce.

This didn't take up much time, so I went rooting around on Disney+ (did I mention we got Disney+ for free? Verizon ponied up because we have an unlimited data account now) and found the first five episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club, not the half-hour syndicated version they showed in the 1960s and 1970s when I was at college, but the originals, mostly uncut (two episodes had the "Mousekartoon" missing). The originals were an hour long and featured a thrice-weekly newsreel and the serials ran every day. The first episode was fascinating, with the newreel (visiting the Seminole tribe in the Everglades, kids in Rome riding a carousel, filming of the new Davy Crockett story, etc.) and the famous "What I Want to Be" serial narrated by Alvy Moore (yes, later the dimwit Hank Kimball on Green Acres). This was supposed to be a regular feature, but was cancelled by Walt Disney after the first installment, which had a little boy who wanted to be an airline pilot and a little girl who wanted to be an airline hostess. Alvy Moore (playing himself) takes the two kids to TWA and lets them go through the training. It's a neat trip to the past, and for a girl stuck into a gender-specific role, Pat was a much better character than Duncan. She's spunky and sticks to her guns, where Duncan gives up easily and has to be persuaded.

I was totally surprised to discover that the girl protagonist in this serial was played by Patricia Morrow, who later went on to play Rita in Peyton Place! I had no idea she was a child actress. The second episode featured "Sooty," a yellow and black bear hand puppet brought over from Great Britain, who had a little skit with his "handler" Harry Corbett. Sooty was a big hit in his native land (he was still on TV a few years ago), but he wasn't much of a hit with American children and was soon off the series.

(I got a kick out of the fact that they showed the old ABC logo, too, which had an eagle holding a lightning bolt over a round shield that had the ABC initials, and the names of the sponsors of each segment of the show.)

James came home having had a good lunch, and we watched the final two episodes of Crusade. Pity there were no more. Matthew Gideon, Galen, Dureena, and Max Eilerson were all very compelling characters, especially the enigmatic Max, and I enjoyed Gideon's relationship with Babylon 5 commander Elizabeth Lochley. Dr. Chambers and John Matheson were duller characters and needed some rounding out.

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» Friday, March 13, 2020
The Coronavirus Craze (Crazies?)

We had to pick up meds for James this morning, and there was so much flurry on the news about the coronavirus, including the school shutdowns next week, Italy being on lockdown, people stuck on cruise ships, Disney and Broadway theatres closing, etc. that I didn't know if there would be a mob there milling about thinking they were sick, or if it would be very empty, so we went early to Kaiser. It was the latter; only about fifteen-twenty cars there and very quiet. It was only about ten minutes.

Now, yesterday we had done our usual shopping at Publix. getting BOGOs and other things on our list like Dawn dishwashing liquid. There were already signs that the crazies had been through, as there was not a disinfecting wipe to be found or paper towels—the most bizarre result of all this is that toilet paper is gone, which is very strange, as the virus does not cause diarrhea. One of the BOGOs was Ocean Spray juice—all juice is expensive today, but James needs the cranberry or cranberry mixes to help with keeping his kidneys and bladder clear. We'd only gotten 4 bottles, and when it runs out, we have to use the inexpensive watered-down stuff from Lidl.

So, thoroughly expecting crowds, we went back for 4 more bottles and also the tater tots we'd forgotten. Wow. Boy, were there crowds; it looked like Walmart on Christmas Eve, except more registers were open. I wanted to pick up more alcohol, but couldn't find it (or even the empty space where it should have been). We got one of the last of three rolls of paper towels, there was no toilet paper at all, almost no Kleenex, no wipes of course, no Gatorade, just big gaps in one section, none in others. Still plenty of vegetables, but bottled water gone. Lots of Banquet/Hungry Man/Lean Cuisine, almost no pizzas.

Well, I remembered seeing some alcohol at Lidl. And we could get bread. And, as much as I love the store, there's never a big crowd at Lidl, even on Fridays (and this worries me that the existing stores will close). Oh, but they found Lidl today. There were more cars in the parking lot than I've ever seen except when they opened and were offering free groceries. Almost all bottled water was gone (I noticed this at Publix, too—do these people's homes not have water faucets?), but we managed to snag one last extra purified water for the C-PAP machine. No alcohol, no liquid cleaning products at all, no peroxide, no milk, dammit, no eggs, no oranges, vegetables and fruit stripped, no packaged bread whatsover (and, bizarrely, a woman bemoaning on her cell phone that there was "no bread" when the bakery was stocked full of bread!

The one sane part of the day was having our usual Friday lunch, today at The BBQ Place with Alice, Ken, and Aubrey Spivey, and that was a nice downtime of blazing normalcy.

Tomorrow James is still planning to go to his meeting and to lunch, and I hope that goes well. It's just very unsettling.

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» Saturday, March 07, 2020
Not Quite the End of the Rain, The End of the Cold, and...Ugh!...Effin' Daylight Saving Time

Our three-day weekend ran the gamut from really awful to really awfully nice out.

The rain was still hanging on with skeletal damp and chilly fingers on Thursday morning, so we took the car to go shopping at Publix, and it got us damp, cold, and disgusted enough to just bring the groceries inside and stay put. Used the opportunity to collect another box of books to take to McKay's (if we ever find a nice day that we don't have anything else planned!). I'd had to rearrange some book piles yesterday anyway, to pull up reading for Women's History Month, so I had at least one to add myself. Swept out the foyer, did a few other tidying things, finished reading Mary Poppins, She Wrote (which did not make me fond of P.L. Travers at all; she struck me as self-absorbed and willing to follow any sort of philosophical mumbo-jumbo from men who were charlatans or Bronson Alcott wannabes). We had a new Young Sheldon episode this evening, then watched the next Babylon 5 film in the queue, Thirdspace. Not my favorite of the films, to say the least.

The rain cleared out late in the afternoon, and by the time Friday dawned it was bright, sunny, and windy enough for Mary Poppins herself to go aloft. I took Tucker for a long walk today, as we've been cooped up by the rain for three days. The birds seemed very happy to be shut of the rain, and a mockingbird was singing his head off overhead on a telephone wire. Then James and I went off to stroll Hobby Lobby for a half hour (bought some nice bright orange duct tape to put on the bottom of the chair lift in the desperate hope that it will help) before James and I joined Alice, Ken, Aubrey, Mel and Phyllis for lunch at Top Spice. Had some very nice pad thai with enough left over for a lunch, and equally good conversation.

We'd been waffling about what to do after lunch because President Trump was flying into town this afternoon (at rush hour, of course, every single President has flown into Atlanta at the worst possible traffic time for years) to meet with CDC officials about the coronavirus outbreak. He comes in at Dobbins Air Reserve Base which is just a few miles from our house, and then they shut down the freeway when he arrives and again when he leaves, which dumps more traffic on our local streets. So early this morning he was coming, and then he wasn't because a CDC employee was suspected of having coronavirus, and then by the time we had lunch the trip was back on because the test for coronavirus was negative. So we gave up and just went to Barnes & Noble across the street (nothing bought, just to look around) then came home.

This evening's B5 feature was River of Souls, followed by Hawaii Five-0. There are only two episodes left after this, with the series finale on the third of April. Alex O'Loughlin needs to quit because the back injury he sustained a few seasons back is now so bad that he can't even pick up his little kids, plus his and Scott Caan's contracts are up, so they are ending it. I'm sure Scott Caan will be glad not to have to fly back and forth to Hawaii every other week and be with his family instead. I will miss it, but it's no tragedy. One less program to have to remember.

Today was a brilliantly beautiful day, still with a bit of wind, but bright and blue. Tucker and I had another long walk, but had to dodge so many glass shards on the sidewalks the moment we step out of our street. There are broken beer bottles everywhere on the main street on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Instead of watching the spring creep in I have to watch the sidewalk so Tucker doesn't step on glass! I wish people would get drunk and wreck things in their own homes and quit spoiling the landscape for the rest of us.

So we braved the Saturday crowds and went to Walmart for this and that. Got more sugarless candy, more melatonin for James, other foodie items, etc. While wandering around just looking at the DVDs, discovered Peter Jackson's World War I film, They Shall Not Grow Old, in the rack for just five dollars! I love old newsreel footage, and that is what this film is comprised of, old film footage from British military sources that has been colorized with a narrative. It has gotten all sorts of fantastic reviews and I wanted to see it, but never managed. And the DVD is a lot less expensive than seeing at the movies would have been.

This particular Walmart was celebrating the opening of their new garden center, so we got a burger, chips, and a drink (water) for only $2 each (a lot bigger burger than one from Wendy's that would have set us back $4 each alone!). Then, since we were halfway there anyway, drove a few more miles out to Hiram, checked out the big Michael's there, bought Snowy more birdseed in Petsmart (they had several little groups of budgies, including a sweet yellow and green one who was almost a dead ringer for Bandit), and Five Below to get some dark chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups for desserts.

The last stop was at the Sam's Club at the far end of the shopping center which was selling gasoline for $1.969 a gallon!

I spent the rest of the day turning all the clocks (thirteen) and timers (six) ahead one hour, James made the humongous turkey wing we bought at Nam Dae Mun in the air fryer with a side of tater tots (also done in the air fryer and then kept warm in the oven) for dinner, and the movie du jour was the prequel movie to the Babylon 5 sequel Crusade, A Call to Arms. Alas, it's the last we see of Michael Garibaldi. Rest in peace, Jerry Doyle.

Tomorrow's our final day of cold nights (and, by extension, a good night's sleep) and by the end of the week it's supposed to be in the 70s. I don't suppose some year we could actually have a proper spring and have temps in the high 50s and 60s for three and four weeks at the time before it gets to the seventies and broiling point? Could we please? Please?

And now, because our clocks are already set back, we're going to goosestep to the command of stupid Federal law and Damn Daylight Effin' Saving Time and go to bed. Die, DST, DIE!

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» Saturday, February 29, 2020
Leap Weekend

It was nice that Leap Year Day fell on a weekend so most people didn't get an additional workday. At least it didn't rain all weekend!

The big treat was going to Olive Garden on Saturday. They have a usual deal that if you buy an entree, you can get a "To Go" entree (three different meals; not every thing on the menu) for only $5. Well, for Leap Day the "To Go" was only $2.29. So we had a nice plain pasta meal, and then both got "To Go" spaghetti and meat sauce entrees. (Turned out our waitress wasn't supposed to let us have two. But she did. She was a great waitress, too; we gave her a nice tip.)

Did some grocery store hopping and got some nice bargains, too: two Lidls, a Publix, a Kroger, and to top it off Nam Dae Mun (where we found great lamb steaks). Discovered in Kroger that they are still making Cadbury chocolate filled chocolate eggs, so I got some to put away for Easter.

Lunch this week was at O'Charley's with Mel, Phyllis, and Leigh. Alice and Ken couldn't come because Ken was in the hospital. Thankfully they found out it was because he had an infection and a wrong medicine dosage and he was not there too long. Alice agrees with me about how bad the cafeteria is at Emory St. Joseph! She could have gotten a better meal by walking across the street and going to Northside Hospital—and Northside is no prize when it comes to cafeterias!

We also went to Hangar Orthopedics and ordered James some new shoes. Boy has the price gone up; it's tripled in three years!

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» Saturday, February 22, 2020
I Might As Well Clean...No Money to Go Anywhere!

Our Thursday-Friday-Saturday weekend was rudely interrupted by work: on Friday James had to make up for the Anachrocon Sunday he was off. We had happier news by then, but it came the long way around.

When last we met the car was acting funny. So Monday I took it to the mechanic and Tuesday I picked it up, considerably poorer. Apparently all four spark plugs were burned out and this had short circuited one of the cylinder igniters. They also replaced the oil pan/plug, where the car has been leaking oil. I'm not sure if I shouldn't start looking for a new mechanic. These folks took care of Twilight for years, and I think Tucker before that, and they have always been very competent. But they are under new management, and I heard the new owner speak disparagingly of the head mechanic who is beloved by all the customers. I notice they are not as busy as they used to be, and am wondering if they are driving people away. They were very nice to me, but the bill was larger than they quoted on the phone.

The good news for this weekend was that we have a new lift for the truck. We got the check from Nationwide on Tuesday (the adjuster rushed it through)* and Mobility Works had an opening, so by Friday it was on. It is considerably smaller than the old one (which I hope means it's less of a target) and the four outer, smaller wheels actually hang down now where they used to be on the lift platform. Only the two big wheels are on the platform, but the groove that holds them is deeper and it actually seems more secure.

The bad news is that because the platform is smaller, we have problems loading it on our driveway. Everywhere else that is flat, like a parking lot, is fine, but our driveway not only slants, but it curves; it's like a big swoop. So when we lower the lift all the way, the outer edge of the platform isn't flat on the driveway. So we have to find the best way to put the platform down and load the chair. We had to find the sweet spot for the bigger platform, but it doesn't work on the new one.

The only halfway fun thing we did this weekend was go to IKEA (I wanted ginger cookies) and then have dinner at Fried Tomato Buffet.

*I'm really impressed with Nationwide. From hit-n-run to new lift it's been exactly two weeks.



» Sunday, February 16, 2020
The Somber End to a Fun Weekend

Well, this was it. The final Anachrocon.

We've been going to Anachrocon since it was a mostly steampunk convention at the Hilton at Perimeter Mall. (221B Con, the Sherlock Holmes convention, was also there for a while.) We sampled our first one just on a Sunday, enjoyed the few panels we saw (candy-making exhibitions, mostly), and signed up for the entire con the next year. The con branched out further once it moved to the Marriott at Century Center (where Timegate/WHOlanta was held after they moved from the Holiday Inn in Chamblee). They started having a whole track of history panels and there was also a Doctor Who track, along with costuming, fabrication, literature, and science. There are literature and science panels at DragonCon, but no real history tracks, just alternate history panels. It was so good to be able to talk to others about things that interested you in real history, like an infamous circus train crash in Georgia. Two men who re-enacted Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson also used to come to the con. Then there was a shake-up in the con committee, the con was held one year near our house (the Wyndham at Powers Ferry), and then they moved out to the Hilton at the airport like everyone (WHOlanta and 221B) else. But it was obvious at the Wyndham con that attendance was down. So...long story short, this year was the last.

We had our own obstacle this year since the lift on the truck had been broken and we were still waiting for the insurance claim to process so we could arrange to have a new one installed. There was no way James could get the power chair there. Instead we decided to take the Kia and the rollator, since it was supposed to rain most of the weekend anyway. So on Friday we packed up our food (since the restaurants in the hotel are too expensive for words; the "Italian" place has spaghetti and meatballs for $22! Even the sports bar is expensive and tiny portions; I don't want to know what the lah-de-dah "Magnolia Room" charges), headed down to the airport about 2:30, annoyed to find out rush hour had already started. I let James off at the door and went to park the car out back. Our friends Clay and Maggi had also just arrived and they turned up soon afterwards.

Spent most of this convention at the literature track, which, like last year, consisted of mostly writing panels. We spent Friday evening, in fact, solely in the literature track, where there was the one non-writing panel, the history of alternative history. The other Friday panels were about editing, writing effective villains, "That Took Me Out of the Story" (unforgivable errors mostly), and tropes.

Saturday we were there from eleven until 9:30 p.m. (and probably would have been later had I not considered poor Tucker's bladder). We did a cruise around the Dealer's Room when we arrived, then went to sit down in the 17th Century Medicine panel given by Jo Frost, waiting for the Writing Historical Fiction panel (which, as always, boils down to "research! research! research!"), and we both went to the "Writing Alternative Universes" panel.

At 2 p.m. I attended the Science Track's panel about "20s" technology. Debbie Viguie and a friend ran this as a humorous look at technology that came out in the 20s (1920s, 1820s, 1720s, 1620s...) doing a Bill and Ted riff. It was funny, and we voted for our favorite technologies and added things. (James had gone to a panel on tommy guns, and remarked wryly that he know more about tommy guns than the moderator.)

Attended the "Effective Research" panel back in "litrachure," then went wandering back to History track to see the "Untouchables" panel. Jeremiah Mitchell was still finishing the Battle of Atlanta, and it ran way, way over, so his "Untouchables" presentation was a bit truncated (but still ran over). Jeremiah loves to talk about the things that interest him, and, boy, can he talk. I'd seen the Capone/Ness presentation previously but he attacked it at a different angle this time.

So I was late getting out of that one and decided to give "Tesla vs. Edison" a miss.

The next panel was about unusual roles for women, which we all went to, but it was different from what I expected. The moderator was talking about specific people; I thought it was going to be more general (talking about women who became soldiers, perhaps, like Deborah Sampson, or about women being tram drivers in World War I, etc.). After that Clay, Maggi, James, and I stood around swapping pet stories—and watching the cute dachshund, Dobby, walk back and forth with his human, wearing a little doggy three piece suit.

The final Saturday panel was about the Kennedy assassination, which Maggi and I remember, but Clay and James don't, so they stayed outside and talked and we stayed in and watched Jeremiah, who had corralled all the conspiracy theory evidence (although there's enough non-conspiracy stuff to be puzzled about, like why no forensics teams ever saw that limousine) and started talking at 8:15, and, like the Energizer Bunny, kept going and going and going. Maggi left because her back was hurting, and I would have stayed if I hadn't started thinking Tucker was really going to need a walk—I tiptoed out at 9:30, Jeremiah having just reached the investigation that took place after the Warren Commission report.

So in we walk Sunday morning, and the first person I run into is Jeremiah. I ask "What time did you finish last night?" He said "Eleven." I just laughed.

We did three panels on Sunday, a literature one about developing story ideas, and then a panel in the history track about re-enactments and the value of historical accuracy. Instead, with the meager audience's help, it developed into funny re-enactment events and the crazy things re-enactors are asked (Jeremiah and Jo said they were both asked if their campfire was "real"). The third guy on the panel (Bill?) said that it was hard for beginners to attain historical accuracy anyway, because most re-enactors start in their teens when they have no money, and they don't have the cash to order handmade Civil War-era-like brogans ($400!). But, yeah, sneakers did kind of take you out of the moment. 😊

So we (well, Maggi and I at least) ended up back at the beginning for the last panel in Literature, "Give the Princess a Sword." Strong female characters—but don't make her a guy in a girl outfit. (The guys were outside in the open area, watching a demonstration swordfight.)

We probably should have stayed for closing ceremonies, but being on his feet was catching up with James, so instead we headed home. We did buy Girl Scout cookies before we left.

(And who was the last person we said goodbye to? Jeremiah. So he got the last word. 😉 )

There was one perk out of the Hilton this weekend: we never had to pay for parking! The ticket reader didn't work all three days—you couldn't insert the ticket into it; the feed did not work—and when you pressed the call button they just opened the gate for you. There's at least $15 saved.

Which, of course was a good thing, because as we got on the freeway we had problems in two ways: we just went straight up through downtown because I-285 had construction all weekend, only to find out the freeway was backed up all the way through downtown. Of course being stuck in traffic was the perfect time for the car to start giving me trouble. It was idling low (500 RPM) with a visible vibration, and it was fighting me as I tried to accelerate. Any speed under 2000 RPM and there was a vibration. (There was also a tick when it idled.)

We owe the hospital. We owe the IRS. And now this. Arrrrgh!

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» Thursday, February 13, 2020
Stop the Rain--I Want to Get Off
So we've been following this weather pattern. It gets cold for a few days. The air is bracing, and you can sleep deeply at night. Then the rain comes in and it gets warm. It's wet, clammy, but still not cold enough to sleep properly. Urgh.

So far February has been mostly boring. And I was wishing for boring, so that's fine.

Trouble is, it keeps being peppered with these little things like the neverending rain. Normally we like rain. Rain mean James gets to telework if it falls on one of his weekdays. Rain on the weekend is a pain because we can't take the power chair out, which means James doesn't go anywhere but supermarkets. And that certainly fits the description of "boring." Saturday we had a little dusting of snow that promptly turned into slipper slush. James decided discretion was the better part of valor and didn't get to go to his club meeting.

But we got a double whammy last week.

On Wednesday I sat down with my copy of TurboTax and played with numbers. And boy did we get a shock. I figured we might owe money. Last year we had a month of my old salary and the unused annual leave I got in a lump sum which was taxed to the max, and those would override the fact I wasn't taking any deductions. This year I knew would be a different animal. It turned out to be a mountain lion. We're getting a small amount back from the state, but we owe an enormous amount to the Feds because I had my withholding at about $13 a month. (Yeah, I went in there and changed it. There goes $100 a month out of my pension check.) This combined with knowing we were going to owe Emory St. Joseph the co-pays for James' hospital stay last month was one whammy.

Alas, that paled to what happened last Friday. Thursday we started a series of James' doctors' appointments that were partially already arranged and partially a result of his hospital stay, and he went that day to the podiatrist so he can get new orthopedic shoes (the old ones are three years old and very scuffed). Today we had the cardiologist and tomorrow we have the nephrologist.

Friday we went to Kaiser Glenlake for James' MRI to determine if he had spinal stenosis. It took about 20 minutes, and then we thought we might stop at MicroCenter on the way home. We got back out to the truck, let the ramp down, got the chair on it, and I started the lift. About halfway during the process there's this terrible racket like the lift is struggling, although it gets all the way up. We stared at each other in bewilderment. Then I looked down. The "shoe" (that's what they call it), the little curved piece that comes around the triangular cog when the ramp goes up, and which folds the ramp up when there's nothing on it, was bent to the left and twisted. The terrible noise was the metal frame of the shoe grinding against the part that the rubber roller at the tip of the shoe usually rolls up against when it is straight.

James grumbled about having to call Mobility Works and my having to take the truck up there on Monday and more money going out, so I asked why we couldn't take it up there right then? We couldn't go to MicroCenter—if we let the chair down again the ramp might not come back up at all—so we'll see if they can look at it. Maybe they kept that part in stock, and if not, we'd order a new part. And maybe they could tell us the best way to get the chair down.

So there we stood eventually all looking at this bent piece, and the service guy said "let me take this around back and check it closer," and drove off to the back with the truck. About ten minutes later, he and Scott (who's our contact at Mobility Works) came back out. There is no way, they said, that it bent like that by itself. Not only that, but the spring that holds the ramp up was also broken, and part of the shaft was bent. Basically the whole lift would be eventually unusable; it would fail because sometime while we were in the Glenlake office, someone hit the lift and then just drove off. Mobility Works told us to call the insurance company and if the adjuster didn't understand the structural problem, they could call them and they would show him or her just what's wrong.

So there I was on the phone with Nationwide as they talked to James about all the broken parts, standing at the back of the truck, juggling the phone, my insurance card, and my tablet case (I was reading at Kaiser and while we were waiting at Mobility Works). I kept talking on the phone as we got back into the truck preparing to go home, and when we crossed Hwy 41, and when we used the small road that cuts through Cobb EMC's property. It is only when I try to find the Mobility Works card in my tablet case for the Nationwide representative that I realize it is not in the cab with me.

Like an idiot I left it on top of the power chair!

So we turned around and went back to Mobility Works, with me having a cow all the way there because of the tablet and also because I had a cross-stitch kit in there with my good Gingher scissors. We got back to the parking lot, where I figured the Case Logic pouch I had everything in had fallen off, hoping no one had run it over. But it wasn't there. Went back inside just in case. Not there. They start helping us look for it. In desperation I started walking back up the road to 41 in hopes that it was at the side of the road.

Just then Scott who had just left for the day, came back down the road with the case in his hands. He found it on the other side of 41, at the side of the road leading through the Cobb EMC facility; I guess it had stayed on the chair until we went over a bump and then it bounced off.

It didn't get run over and everything appears to be safe except one corner of the tablet cover is cracked. I was furious at myself for doing something so stupid. And also royally pissed at whomever hit the damned lift and didn't even say anything.

Case Logic, on the other hand, makes good tablet cases. Thank you, Case Logic!!!

To make sure we could get the chair down off the lift and then raise the lift back up (otherwise the truck cannot be driven), they took off the bent "shoe" and another part. So the ramp will not stay up anymore; it has nothing to hold it. When we got home we had to tie it up with some rope and three bungee cords.

And this of course means James will have to use the rollator at Anachrocon. Oh, aren't his back and ankles and knees going to love that.

At least the insurance is going to cover the claim. The adjuster came on Monday, could see all the other damage we couldn't, and said we'd be seeing the check next week.

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» Saturday, February 01, 2020
Between the Raindrops

No, no, weather. You don't understand. You're supposed to rain Monday through Wednesday, so James can stay at home. Not Thursday through Saturday when we're (mostly) having weekends.

Thursday we got the grocery shopping out of the way as soon as possible, which is fine with me; I hate grocery shopping. James didn't need lunchmeat, which meant we could go to the Publix on Floyd Road (which doesn't have the low-sodium ham). Of course first we stopped at Lidl and got fresh bread, three gallons of milk, and an assortment of vegetables (cucumbers and onions) and fruit (oranges and Granny Smith apples), which I got 15 percent off on as a shopping reward. That was a nice surprise! Then we picked up BOGOs at Publix and headed home for lunch.

Since we'd done our due diligence, we now could go have fun. We settled for wandering around the Barnes & Noble at Town Center, although James couldn't have the hot chocolate he was craving, as the Starbucks next door had closed. (I don't have any hope that they will do the right thing and expand the bookstore into that space...)

And that was our big doings for Thursday. I'd wish for something interesting to happen, but these days, instead of being museums and trips, "interesting" usually involves hospitals and illness, so I wish for "routine" and deal with it.

Friday was damp, drizzly, and raw, and we stayed inside during the morning until it was time for lunch. We met Alice, Ken, and Aubrey at Uncle Maddio's, and then they followed us home. Aubrey was taking our old exercise bike for her own, and she was also going to contribute the box of food I had put together to the food bank at the church she works for. I don't envy Aubrey her taxes: she is working for a nonprofit, and also has her own small business, so it's complicated.

Alice invited us over later in the afternoon to watch the new Star Trek: Picard. Since we had already had our dinner at the pizza place, we told her we'd bring along our own sandwiches and we could have a picnic. We watched the first two episodes and also the interview show "The Ready Room," hosted by Wil Wheaton, about the series. It is very good! I wasn't particularly enchanted with Discovery, but this was quite compelling. Jean-Luc Picard has retreated to the family vineyard, closeted away from a world which has outlawed androids (like Data of the Next Generation series) after the android workers at the Starfleet Mars outpost went berserk and killed all the sentient beings working there. Suddenly a young woman shows up. Earlier in the episode she and her boyfriend were attacked by strange assailants; he was killed, but she automatically defended herself, she knows not how, and killed all of them. She somehow knows Picard can help her with this, but he no sooner tries than she is killed. Feeling responsible, he does some research, and comes to the conclusion that she was a perfect human-appearing android, and the daughter of Data! Plus she has a twin sister!

It only gets better from there!

And there was today: still cloudy, not as raw. James needed "plastic" cheese (Kraft cheese slices) and it was on discount at Sam's Club, so we risked the Saturday crowds and made the trip. As always, it was crowded, but the crowd was stocking up on distinctly different products than they usually buy, which was the only reason I remembered that tomorrow was the Stupor Bowl. Instead of a variety of staples, people were loading their carts with party supplies, bags of chips and bottles of salsa, long slabs of pork ribs, steaks, pre-made shish kebabs, big bags of Tyson chicken wings, pork roasts... I was starving by the time we left and the smell of the rotisserie chicken we bought did not help.

Nor was having to drive down to Hobby Lobby to get something I needed before we could go home. Found some nice calligraphy pens on discount and came home with those as well. Then James made tater tots in the air fryer and we had those with the chicken. We still have enough left for at least one meal, too. Yummmmm. Tater tots in the air fryer are prime: crispy outside, soft and tasty inside, no grease whatsover. Just crisp and potato flavor.

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» Sunday, January 26, 2020
That Was the Week That Was - A Medical Review
Yeah, I just had to go open my yap on the 19th about how quiet January had been. Never open your big mouth about this kind of thing. Next thing we knew poor James was in the hospital for two days, precipitated by chest pain about 4:10 on Monday morning the 20th. He took two nitroglycerin and the pain lessened, but didn't go away, so we hotfooted it over to Emory St. Joseph (our first time there since Kaiser changed hospitals) and they did a battery of tests which indicated negative for a heart attack, but they admitted him anyhow, and did more tests. By the time rush hour started on the freeway (which was in eyeshot), the pain was gone and he was hungry and thirsty. He also had an x-ray and other things, and the Kaiser hospital doctor was all for rushing him into the cath lab and fixing that last capillary, but James demurred: the last thing he wants to do is go back on kidney dialysis and the contrast dye could easily push them over the edge. He told them to contact his cardiologist: if he wanted it done, James would willingly have the cath. So we had to wait for Tuesday for the verdict (the cardiologist was off for MLK Day). In the meantime we cooled our heels in the hospital, where everyone was super nice, especially the nurses Jasmine, Martha, and Lorrie, plus anyone who came to draw blood. Unlike at Piedmont, where we never saw any doctors and hardly any nurses, and the cleaning staff was surly, we saw two or three every day, from various departments, including the cardiologist.

(The only fly in the ointment in the entire stay was when I ran home after they admitted him to get his C-PAP machine. I'd left my two tablets in a carry case in the room because I saw no need to carry them home just to bring them back. While I was at home, the toilet in James' room flooded. They couldn't clear it, so they moved him to another room. About the time I was packing up to go home for the night, I asked about my carry case and my tablets. James said "Oh, we moved everything," and we started going through the stuff on the shelves in the cupboard. No carry case. Martha asked us what was wrong, and when we told her, she said, "Well, they've cleaned that room. If they found anything they should have turned it in, but I'll go check," and she came back with the case with my tablets. It was sitting in the chair where I left it; they'd cleared the toilet and "cleaned" the room and no one apparently noticed it. 😒 )

They finally decided to send James home Tuesday afternoon—by then his creatitine had climbed to 2.8 where it has held steady at 2.3-2.4 for months; they thought it was because he was dehydrated (well, of course, you nitwits: they only give you ice in the hospital now, not water, and they don't have pantries like Northside, where I could go get him a drink when he needed it). So they took him off his furosimide [diuretic] until he could see his GP and have his blood retested on Friday; it was permissible for him to start re-taking it if (1) he gained a great deal of weight immediately, (2) got short of breath, (3) started showing signs of edema, or (4) blisters on his legs.

Incidentally, on my hospital cafeteria ratings, this one gets a mediocre C. Now I admit I never did see it in complete action on Tuesday; it shuts down on weekends (which is bizarre; isn't that when people visit???) and seemed to be at half-operational status on the holiday. The food I had was okay, but I freaking object to paying $14 for two meals that consisted of a hamburger on a bun, a bag of Doritos, a pint of milk, and a pint of milk, a dozen cucumber slices, and a chicken leg quarter that looked like it came off a robin. (Let's not even mention $6/parking! If you are tending a person in the hospital, you should be able to park for free. I never heard of hospitals charging parking until I was an adult.)

So, Tuesday afternoon James finally got some sleep, with a very insecure Tucker tucked between his legs as he zoned out on the recliner. Next morning he was back to work, and he worked Thursday, and most of the day Friday, until he lost only 3  1/2 hours from the whole thing, and ended up with only a one-day weekend. I have to hand it to James: most guys would have said screw it, I want at least two days for my weekend, but he soldiered through, and he was massively busy all three days.

Friday we went to see James' GP. He was seen an hour and a half late and the first thing the doctor said was "I see you talked them out of the cath" and frankly, I wanted to belt him one. No, James didn't "talk them out" of anything. We both clearly said, several times, that if his very own cardiologist, the one who removed a couple of liters of fluid from around his heart in March of 2018 and who knows the kidney situation more than anyone except his nephrologist, wanted him to have the cath, he would have had the cath.

Anyway, the doctor told James to hold off on the furosimide until the blood test results were back. They came in Friday night and his creatitine was down to 2.1. I daresay if he could stay off the furosimide totally it might go lower. But from Sunday through Saturday James had gained eight pounds, he was puffing a little coming up the stairs where he hadn't before, and Friday night he had two small blisters on his left leg. So we made an executive decision based on what the hospital told us: he took two furosimide Saturday afternoon, and two more Sunday morning, and he's now down four pounds. Hoping he can stay on the dose of two rather than the four he was taking previously as it is better than his kidneys. His weight and his legs will keep us apprised of the situation.

We spent Saturday morning at Publix and went to Hobby Lobby as a treat, but otherwise relaxing was the theme of the day, and James was back to work yesterday.

Just keep still, Linda. Just keep still.

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» Sunday, January 19, 2020
The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Sunday, January 19

Outside my window...'s dark. No time to do it during daylight, I have been quite busy all day, doing my regular Sunday chores (washing the towels, charging the flosser and the motion sensor light in the bathroom, and sorting medications for the week) and my Monday chores (cleaning the bathrooms and washing the kitchen floor), plus cooking Sunday dinner and washing the comforter for the bed and taking my usual mile-plus walk.

I am thinking... fast the Christmas holidays went by! Seems like it was just December 1 and I was starting to put up the candoliers and the outside lights. I just got the last bit of the decorations (the big tree in the living room) down last Sunday. But what happened between those two times buzzed by at the speed of light! I know we did things: went to the Apple Annie craft show, watched this year's performance of "An Atlanta Christmas," had several gift exchanges, went to the Butlers' house for Christmas, and I took my annual Christmas walk in downtown Marietta. Plus we went out to celebrate "my Beatles' birthday," as Alice put it. But those swept by like the click of a finger.

I am thankful...
...for a quiet January so far.

In the kitchen...
...all is cleaned up from the dinner I cooked today: pork chops. I sauteed them in sesame oil with ginger, onion flakes, and some herbs, then finished up by poaching them in a little beef broth. Had mine with leftover rice pilaf and James had leftover spaetzle.

I am wearing...
...dark green sweatshirt, grey sweatpants, and white socks. Tomorrow I will have to put boot socks on; the low is going to be 22°F.

I am creating...
...nothing, really, since it was a work day. Well, I did create some warmth for tonight by washing the comforter. I washed it before I put it away, but we haven't used it in three or four years, and it smelled stale, and I worried that some of those stupid carpet beetles might have gotten in the bag. So I spent the afternoon washing the comforter and then running up and down the stairs restarting the dryer because a king-size comforter may be dry in one place, triggering the dryer sensor to stop, but may still be wet in other places. Had to keep pulling it out and putting it back in wet parts first so they hit the sensors.

I am going... relax for the rest of the evening, I hope! I never plan on anything anymore.

I am wondering...
...if there's anything more I can do to save money. It seems to disappear so quickly, and all on things we need. I thought my spending was over for the month and here comes the bimonthly bill for the garbage collection. Sigh.

I am reading... print media: Philip Pullman's Daemon Voices, about the craft of writing; in e-book format: Candid Christmas, a history of the holiday; in e-magazine format: still on the December "Good Old Days"; in magazine format: the last of the Christmas magazines, saved for last to be savored: "Early American Life Christmas."
I am hoping... be okay enough tomorrow to go to the Atlanta History Center and that I can find a parking space. Tomorrow it is free for Martin Luther King Day and they have a new exhibit on Jim Crow, as well as an exhibit that is ending this month about women's suffrage. Plus they now have the Cyclorama there and I have never seen it—it used to be at Grant Park, near the zoo.

I am looking forward to...
...Anachrocon on Valentine's Day weekend. Sadly, this is the last one. I will miss my yearly dose of history panels!

I am learning...
...since I've been listening to the Colonial Williamsburg podcasts all afternoon, lots about colonial and Revolutionary War history!

Around the house...
...I've had this and that for an evening meal, and James is eating soup. There's nothing new good on television, so I have put on The Waltons on the Hallmark Channel.

I am pondering...
...the rest of the week. Not sure what to do if tomorrow doesn't work out.

A favorite quote for today...
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."

Edith Sitwell

One of my favorite things...
"Early American Life" magazine. I must renew the subscription this year.
A few plans for the rest of the week:
Well, tomorrow, I hope. Shopping on Wednesday because James has a doctor's appointment then and is working Thursday instead.

A peek into my day...
Been listening to Colonial Williamsburg podcasts all day! So... archaeology on the site!

[Coda: Well, never did get to the History Center. About 4:10 a.m. James was having chest pains so I had to take him to the emergency room; chest pains disappeared about a half hour after he arrived. He is staying overnight so they can monitor his blood enzymes, and decide if they are going to take him for another catherization. The dye will do bad things to his kidneys, so his cardiologist has been avoiding doing this. We were told this morning that the blood enzymes did not indicate he had a heart attack, or at least that was the verdict this morning.]

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



» Saturday, January 18, 2020
Rain...and Then, For an Encore, Rain Predicted

Happily, it rained early in the week when James had to go to work, so he had the opportunity to telework. Then it was nice for two days.

Then, of course, on the day his monthly club meeting fell, it was supposed to pour.

I wasn't hors de combat today with toilet problems or any other nonsense, so I left myself open to do anything I liked. They did, in fact, open a new Cobb County library last year, and I could have gone and checked that out if I wanted. But I didn't. So we left the house about 10:45, and we made it to the restaurant before it even opened. Once the doors opened, James was off, and so was I.

I carried a coupon off to Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy some more doggy debris bags; we were down to our last three. I also found, on clearance, two pairs of thick men's socks for James to wear to bed; because of his diabetes his feet are always cold. Then I hopped over to JoAnn and bought another skein of Etoile floss and silver/blue ribbon on clearance (I need this for our winter wreath, as the Georgia sun has rotted the silver ribbon I have on it.) The last craft stop was Michael's, where I found the recent Crayola pearlescent crayon box. I didn't know these existed until last night. I had coupons for both stores, so escaped from both for less than $3/each.

Next I went to 2nd and Charles, the (mostly) secondhand bookstore. I am always aggravated when I go there, because despite the big bright halogen lights overhead, most of the rows of books are in the dark because of the positioning of shelves vs. lights. There were several times I wanted to turn on the flashlight on my phone to check out what was on shelves. As always, I found no books I had on my "wanted" list, but I did find a book: The Moor, about the English moors from Dartmoor to Yorkshire, their history and ecology.

By the time I got out, my eyes were aching from squinting and I needed to sit down (particularly in a rest room). So I went to Barnes & Noble. We got two $25 gift cards for Christmas, one from B&N and one from Amazon. James, since he now has a Kindle Fire, took custody of the latter, and I had the former with me. There was a 15 percent off entire purchase coupon this weekend, so I was able to get two books with the gift card plus less than $3: Meg and Jo, a modern retelling of Little Women, and Never Home Alone, a book about how many little critters, however clean you keep it, exist in your home. I'd been looking at it in the hardback version.

James gave me a call not soon after I'd headed back to the hobby shop and parked outside, and we wended our way home (ironically, except for the fifteen minutes I was in JoAnn and James was eating lunch with the guys, it had not rained at all). For supper James took the Italian sausage we bought at Patak's yesterday, cooked it with onions, and then made some "tater tots" in the air fryer. Oh, these were exquisite, crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, not greasy or "wet" feeling when you bit into it.

It poured again later on, but it had slacked off by the time I took Tucker outside for his final walk.

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» Friday, January 17, 2020
Friends and Farewells

Now, today, today was perfect weatherwise! Cloudy, breezy, in the 50s. Cold enough for long sleeves and a jacket, but not so cold that you are freezing, going down to the 40s at night to keep the bedroom, even on a second story, cool enough to sleep. There are so few beautiful days like this. It's either raining and cold (okay if you don't go out) or sunny and hot—which sucks out the nose.

It was finally time: we had to go to Walmart. We were out of the waterproof Nexcare "band-aids" that we use on James' legs when his cellulitis acts up, and he wanted more sugar-free candy. So we timed it so we went there before lunch, picked up both the bandages and the candy, a couple of other minor things, and then headed for lunch at Hibachi Grill, where Alice and Ken, and Mel and Phyllis joined us presently. We were talking about the shocking news that turned up on Facebook: musician Ken Spivey had died on Tuesday! We first met Ken at Timegate, later WHOlanta, where he played Doctor Who-themed music. His shows were always enormously fun. Apparently he had been ill for some time. I shall always remember Ken, and my favorite of his songs, "Companion's Lament," which always seemed to me to be the best theme for the last day of a convention. Alice also passed around photos of Juanita and her new Sheltie puppy, Riley. We ended up telling pet stories.

When lunch broke up, we went to Patak's Meats for some mortadella and pastrami. Of course we came out with lots more: beef for stew, pork for stew, chicken wings to make in the air fryer, and Italian sausage. At the supermarket this would cost a fortune; at Patak's not so much. We stuffed the freezer full again, and had the lunchmeat at night since we'd had dinner in the afternoon.

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» Thursday, January 16, 2020
Shop Till the Money Runs Out

But, alas, it was another stock-up week: we needed toilet tissue, bath soap, Swiffer cloths, almonds, and orange cups. We got to Costco rather late as we were both up late reading last night and woke up to find the morning mostly gone. After circling to see all the toys, including one of the Scott Wilkinson-touted OLED televisions and a Surface Pro 7 and Surface Table, and all the books, we got down to searching for our targets, plus sampled some apple juice, gluten-free crust pizza, and a trail mix of very dark and not very sweet chocolate chips mixed with almonds, cashews, and walnuts. We also got vitamins, but were pissed that Costco did not have their own brand of soap. We were out, so we bought Dove, which I hate. I miss the soap they had many years ago, which was French-milled, lasted for ages, and wasn't goopy. I guess we will have to go looking for a new brand of soap again.

We also bought gasoline, then headed for Publix. Some of this was another stock up mission, plus we found a real bargain that was providential: we forgot to take something out for dinner/supper and their soups were BOGO. We got a chicken noodle for me and chili for James for today, and chicken and wild rice for another day. Also of note: BOGO chicken thighs or legs, which will make another nice supper.

Finally we stopped at Lidl for milk, bread, and ground turkey; also picked up chocolate, celery, grapes, Granny Smith apples, and onions. Some of the children's toys they had for Christmas are now on discount, so I decided to start collecting for Toys for Tots early and bought a cute little doctor's kit, and also a stuffed alpaca.

The result was that by the time we got home, changed clothes, and put the perishable foods away, it was wayyyyy after three. We had our soup and watched Caught in Providence for the afternoon, and then later on had a sandwich and did the game shows, Young Sheldon, and a Nature I recorded at Christmastime: "Snowbound: Animals of Winter."

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