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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» Sunday, September 16, 2018
Yet Not Another DragonCon Weekend

It was another quiet weekend, although I am not happy. I got nervous on Thursday and called Kaiser, and the advice nurse agreed with me that James should not be having such rapid weight gains. We could not see his GP, but on of his colleagues. She checked James out, had him take some labs, get an x-ray of his chest, and told him to take three Furosimide for three days, rather than two. I'm still suspicious that the foley catheter is in the wrong place, but how do we determine that? The only way we knew last time was the MRI. But he has had the foley in the wrong place before.

Saturday we went to Hair Day. It was sandwiches and sides; we brought the potato salad, and there was also krab salad, a relish tray, and apples and cheeses. We had fun talking and were there until after two. On the way home we did the shopping at Publix, or rather I did the shopping, because there were no carts available. James sat out front and then paid when I got finished.

And we still forgot stuff. I went out to get them this morning.

We rested for a bit and then went out to Taste of Smyrna. It was trying to rain and the streets right around the downtown area were frankly soaked, but I wanted my pork and grits from Atkins Park and we pressed on. We weren't able to come last year and I wanted to make sure we got it this time! It actually didn't rain, and we both had the pork, plus James had jerk pork and cabbage and rice with beans from Rodney's, and I had sausage and meatballs with ziti from Maggiano's. We both had two chicken vegetable potstickers from a vendor called Chinese Southern Belle, with a killer soy ginger sauce. (Their teriyaki was good, too.) They were both low salt and low sugar. Then we shared a lemonade and had a small cone of ice cream each for dessert.

This morning I hit the ground running after trying to sleep a little late: I went back to Publix and got the additional two packages of wraps James needed (they only had one yesterday, and we only had three at home), plus onions and lunch meats. I also had to go by CVS to pick up something with a coupon. I was in line behind of a woman who spoke only Spanish (at least to her kids). She was with a teen boy and another boy who must have been 10-12. He wanted a little videogame-oriented toy and it was evident by Mom's tone of voice that she was saying, "No, you can't have that, it's too expensive; you may have some chocolate for a treat." The boy finally put the toy down but was standing there scuffing his feet, pointing back at the toy, and murmuring in both Spanish and English about how he wanted it. She had to keep giving him the gimlet eye and repeating "No, you may have some chocolate only." He kept looking at the older brother, who was giving him the look "Man, I'm not getting involved in this!" The boy finally chose a Nestle bar. I wanted to burst out laughing because I've seen that scuffle and mutter so many times, but I didn't want smile to because Mom was so ticked about her kid misbehaving in public. She looked pissed but a little embarrassed, too. Turned out they were parked next to me, and I had said good morning to a woman in the car who was probably grandmama.

Oh, on the way to Publix I had to go the long way around because downtown was still blocked off. Near the pond I saw a mother duck with three fluffy ducklings. I didn't know they had babies so late in the season.

James spent the afternoon making thirty burritos, some low-sodium sausage and egg, some ground turkey chili. I helped him package and put away half of them, but otherwise washed the towels and changed out the one on the power chair, put up the reusable shopping bags in both vehicles, paid TruGreen, put a square of honeycombed shelf liner under the cushion in the driver's seat of my car in the hopes it will quit sliding sideways, put up some clothes, and sorted meds for the week. Also watched a couple of things on the DVR, including a program where the host visited Sam Neill's Two Paddocks winery and met Sam's pet pig, Angelica (who's a boar). Also finished watching the silent 1916 Sherlock Holmes, the only performance of actor William Gillette on film. This is a version of the play he performed after he asked Arthur Conan Doyle if he could use the character, and Doyle, at that time sincerely sick of Holmes, said "You may marry him or murder him; I don't care." For the record, Gillette got him married. 😁

I have to keep moving.  If I don't keep moving, I start to think...

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» Saturday, September 08, 2018
Not a DragonCon Weekend

Was very annoyed on Friday: went to Costco for milk and they had no skim! So annoyed I forgot the cheese; glad James didn't need it immediately. Did get other things, but because I bought a rotisserie chicken and a lovely package of boneless pork chops, had to come home immediately. I just put perishables away and went to Publix. They had none of my favorite yogurt. Not a satisfactory shopping session. I had the wings of the rotisserie chicken for lunch and we ate the breast meat, cooked in with ramen noodles, for supper. I don't know how James puts together these tasty concoctions, but I certainly do enjoy them!

On Saturday morning, for once we had a nice, long sleep, and then James went off to his club meeting. I didn't have anything I really wanted to do, but I did have things that needed doing, so I did them: first I pulled down all that depressing summer stuff and converted over to autumn, outside (on the porch and the mailbox) and in (in the foyer and the dining room and under the mantel). Since the house is always dressed for autumn in some form unless it's at Christmas, this is just a matter of adding another layer to what's already here. I also vacuumed both upstairs and on the stairway, and put away all the things I had bought at Costco yesterday (lots of medical items on sale).

James had a very long meeting, but we were still able to get a seat easily at West Cobb Diner and had turkey dinners. He didn't feel up to going into Barnes & Noble, so I ran in and bought a cross-stitch magazine and two "Country Sampler" issues, then we came home, and, because it was the 52nd anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek, we watched "Balance of Terror" (James' choice) and "Journey to Babel" (mine).

Sunday we went to the Yellow Daisy Festival, that trip which is told here, since it's a fall event in the household.

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» Monday, September 03, 2018
DragonCon, Part 4 or "A Joyous Sound"

It was easier this morning: we got up, had breakfast, and went off downtown. I had reserved a space yet again in the America's Mart garage and then wish I hadn't done it, because a garage nearby was half the price.

We were very early, but since we wanted to see John Barrowman and Catherine Tate, we needed to get there early. We joined a queue of people already assembled outside the Marriott Atrium Ballroom. Now, they usually clear the big panels like this between each panel, so everyone gets out, and everyone waiting gets a good chance at a seat. But the word going around was that they were not going to clear the room after the Star Trek guests panel that was going on at ten.

The crowd for Barrowman and Tate was getting enormous, so the volunteers at the room just started letting everyone go in. Now, this worked out fine when they did it for Capaldi and Mackie yesterday; we got to move up. But, because they didn't clear the room, and were letting everyone in, not just DS services, we ended up being stuck in the middle of the room, with no chance to move up when the Trek panel ended. Granted, we had a good time, but it wasn't fair to the people who had shown up early. Not to mention that the Star Trek people thought people were coming in to see them, which was deceptive and was lying to them.

Putting that behind us, getting to see most of the Trek panel was fun. This was Ethan Phillips, Robert Duncan McNeil, and Garrett Wang from Voyager, Mary Chieffo and Ken Mitchell (who play Klingons) from the new Discovery, and of course Mr. Chekov himself, Walter Koenig. This was a very funny panel with everyone ribbing Phillips about his spontaneous remarks. Lots of commentary about Discovery, which we haven't seen, and praise for Kate Mulgrew's Captain Janeway. The one thing I remember best was that they were asked what was the strangest gift a fan has ever given them. Walter Koenig said someone gave him a Chekov doll, which was made with real hair and real fingernails. You should have seen the faces on the other panelists!

As I said, by the time the panel ended, the room was crammed, and then Disability Services had to stop everything to clear the front five center rows so that the line-of-sight people (deaf or hearing impaired, those with sight problems, etc) could use them. The people who had been allowed to sit there (and were assured they would not be moved) were given benches at the side. It was a major screw up. However, everyone was very nice and cooperative, everyone crowded in, and then the two crazies came in.

John "Scooter" Barrowman
If Barrowman and Tate are crazy on their own, as a team they are off the wall. The first thing that happened was that John Barrowman spotted someone in a scooter and said he always wanted to ride in one. The person in it let him borrow it happily, he got in, and took off, right down the left center aisle, yelping "Damn, this thing goes fast! Get out of the way!" He drove all the way to the back and then back up via the right center aisle, coming right by James and I. As he passed James he turned and shouted "Mine is better than yours!"

After that it just got crazy. Because Catherine Tate invites her questioners up on stage, they did their Q&A in that manner, alternating sides. The best part was when a young lady came up to ask a question and she was filming the experience with her phone. Barrowman grabbed it and cried, "For God's sake, don't film this, experience it!" However, about halfway through her question session, he got the camera, aimed it down the front of his pants, and took a photo! Several minutes later, during another person's question, sudden shrieking came from seats about fifteen rows ahead of us. Both actors stopped, because they thought something was wrong, like someone being sick. No, it was the young lady from a few minutes earlier showing her phone to her friends!

Seriously, even right after the panel I couldn't tell you everything they talked about. But it was hilarious. And the very best thing about this panel? James laughed for an entire hour. I don't know if he was still in pain or not, but for one hour, it didn't bother him anywhere near at much.

As far as I was concerned, it was the best part of the weekend.

We didn't have anything else planned so we trudged back to the America's Mart to see if we could get into the dealer's room. There was still a line, but handicapped can go right in. As usual, we were confused by the two sets of elevators (you take one set up to the main floor and then another to the exhibit floors; for some reason when you come down the elevators, you can never make it back to those elevators you came in the first time). We walked around the first floor and one of the others, and James bought a polo shirt (he can wear it to work) that has the NASA logo and says "It's not flat. We checked." (Someone had this at the Trek panel and we had just laughed.)

As far as I was concerned, I had enough junk and there weren't any books out I wanted. The one thing I did want to do was go up to Artists' Alley and see Andy Runton. Sadly, no new Owly books. He is redoing all the old books in color, and then the new one will come out. However, I had him autograph his new print, which is of Owly and Wormy walking in Muir Woods. I remember Muir Woods very fondly from one of the two cross-country trips we took in the 1970s. Such a lovely place!

Finally it was time to go back to the Hilton. As usual, the America's Mart elevators delivered us somewhere else: all the way to the back of the building! So we had to go an extra block, then up the hill, then past the Hyatt and the Marriott. The owners of the full-sized TARDIS that usually sits in the Hilton lobby had already dismantled it, and we passed the café to get to the elevator to take us back down to the BritTrack room. This is usually our last panel of the weekend; the track members are dead tired and slap-happy, usually eating a late lunch, and give out snacks. This year was no exception. It was also the second year in a few where another panel was mistaken for the DragonCon-as-a-whole wrapup panel, and a man stood up and went on for several minutes about how he couldn't get into the parade, and then was embarrassed when he was told this was the British track wrapup only. Another couple was confused as well. Rob said they were welcome to stay but to please go to the DragonCon closing ceremonies and let the con chairs know the problems they had. We had water and chips, and cooled off, and schmoozed and enjoyed the commentary until it was finally time to clear out, then go all the way back to the America's Mart (I got plenty of exercise this weekend!) to fetch the truck. However, this time we could get to the elevators, although we had to bellow into a very badly working intercom to get someone to come open the doors for us. (This is a very badly run garage. No wonder it's so cheap.)

Then we just came home. We usually stop at Longhorn on the way home from the last day of DragonCon, but we didn't have the money. Instead we had soup at home.

I'm still happy. James laughed, after all those weeks of pain. It was worth every minute.

Star Trek panelists Ethan Phillips, Robert Duncan McNeil, Garrett Wang, Mary Chieffo, Ken Mitchell, Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Catherine Tate and John Barrowman bantering.

John Barrowman like a silver fox.

"So long and thanks for all the fish..." BritTrack final panel.



» Sunday, September 02, 2018
DragonCon, Day 3 or "I Flip Out...Again, But Then It Gets Better"

I'm a maniac who thinks too much.

James made his own decision to go to DragonCon today. He made himself a lunch and everything. So why was I awake at five in the morning, afraid I'd talked him into it and something horrible was going to happen because I did? And I had to tell him this when he woke up, didn't I, in case I had been too overambitious?

So we were a little strained this morning having breakfast and all. But we went.

Got the same parking lot as yesterday, but this time on the A level, which proved to be providential later. However, we couldn't go the same route out as I did yesterday because in the middle of my route had been two stairways, one down, then back up again. So we had to take the elevator, and came right out in front of the building, where the line for the dealer's room was building, and building. (N.B. There was a line for the dealer's room all weekend and the stories about waiting to get in were horrendous.) Then we had to hike all the way to the Hilton. Since it was downhill all the way, we just walked outside.

Luckily the Hilton was not yet crowded. We were early and stopped to take a pic of me with the Jurassic World critters they had all over the Hilton lobby, then get a muffin (too sweet) to share and a cold drink for James at the café. Then it was relatively simple, since it was only about eleven, to get  him upstairs in the elevator. He was going to the Apollo 11 panel, which I would have loved to have seen myself, but I was going to the Anne of Green Gables panel, because it was one of the two things I wanted to do today. (Apparently they did have one last year, but I did not see it in the schedule.)

Well, this was totally delightful. Although the audience was comprised mostly of women, there was a nice assortment of men, and at least one man and one woman who came up to ask questions who said their parents had bonded due to Anne and taken their honeymoon on Prince Edward Island. Megan Follows as always was gracious and fun. She still crinkles up her eyes in that lovely way when she smiles. She stated that her two favorite scenes in the original story were walking the ridgepole and she and "Diana" scaring each other walking through the "haunted wood." She said she did not grow up reading the Anne books, but liked fantasy the best and had read all the Oz books. She was asked if she was still friends with Schuyler Grant, and she said they do keep in touch, but that Schuyler was now in California running a yoga studio. Asked if she had a particular memory of a role she played other than Anne, she mentioned being in a movie where she played a young woman who was kidnapped (Cry in the Wild). David Morse, who was her kidnapper, accidentally shot her near her eye with a blank. Thankfully it did not hurt her as badly as Jon-Erik Hexum! Morse was appalled at what had happened and kept apologizing to her. Asked if she had a funny memory of any of the Anne movies, she said that Schuyler Grant did so many takes on the raspberry cordial scene and drank so enthusiastically that she really did throw up afterward. And everyone sighed and aww'd when she said her most precious memory of Jonathan Crombie was that he made her laugh.

I met James after the panel (he really enjoyed his, too; wish I had a Time Turner for these panel conflicts!) and walked (well, I trudged and he wheeled) back to the Hyatt with him. He would be here the rest of the day watching science fiction literature panels. There was no panel in the SFLit room when we got there, so we went in to talk to Bill Ritch and Phyllis Boros and another lady who taught Latin to middle schoolers. (She said her students get to rate her. That's appalling!) They were telling teaching stories and science stories, and it was quite entertaining.

About two I left James to his panel ("The Military Mind in SF") and went a'wandering. I thought about going to the art show, but instead went to the Marriott because they had a stuffed baby dragon for this year's con and I wanted to buy one for James. They hadn't had any in the Sheraton this morning when we checked, so I went to the DragonCon store at the Marriott and got one there, and a car magnet for Butch. (He did "put me back on the horse," so to speak, since I'd been afraid to go downtown yesterday without Twilight.) Then I got in line to go in the Walk of Fame. I used to like doing this way back when the WOF was downstairs in the Marriott. I would walk around and get candid photos of the actors signing autographs and interacting with their fans, but they won't let you do this anymore. But I did want to talk to Megan Follows about something she'd said; she said the character she found the most interesting in Anne was Marilla. I wondered if, being so busy as actors always are, she had seen there was a book coming out about Marilla.

So I waited in this long, sinuous, hideously stuffy and hot line to get in; the WOF is like a freaking zoo. Finally when I got in it was crowded, full of more lines, especially for Jennifer Morrison (who used to be on House but who was now the lead in Once Upon a Time), but at least it was cool. Megan Follows was at the back and was eating a salad when I came up, so I didn't keep her long. She had heard about the book coming out and wondered where I heard about it. Actually, Amazon suggested it to me.

Since I was in the room I just walked around looking at who I could look at. William Davis (the "Cigarette-Smoking Man" on The X-Files) seems ageless. Christian Kane, who just finished up four seasons of The Librarians (TNT canceled it, the snots), was nearly unrecognizable in long hair, beard and moustache; he looked like Grizzly Adams. Saw Brent Spiner and some other Trek folks signing and spied Jennifer Morrison when she stood up.)

Then I got the heck out of there by taking the escalators to the bottom floor of the Marriott and fled for the Hilton and their blessed cool. Went downstairs early for the Star Trek panel I was going to and met both Alice Spivey and Juanita Gibson down there, and we had a nice little chat before the panel along with Joe Campbell.

Well, the panel was fab. I had misunderstood. I saw "Star Trek Fandom Herstory" and thought the panel was going to be about women characters in the Trek universe. Instead it was about women in Trek fandom! The two panelists were young and had not experienced the beginnings of Trek fandom, but there was Alice in the front seat who had pretty much been in almost at the beginning and me who'd joined later. So both of us had contributions as the panelists talked about fanfiction and the early conventions, the Welcommittee and Lincoln Enterprises, and communications before the internet. I sure wish Mary Bloemker could have been here for it, since she was at the very first August Party!

(Even got a lead on a fanfic book I'd never heard of, about Trekfic. I ordered it the next day!)

I called James when we got done and he sounded quite chipper. He'd even used the basement of the Hyatt to get to a panel in the Regency room, and he asked if I wanted to stay to see the ARTC performance tonight! I was thrilled. I told him I was going to see Catherine Tate and then I would meet him near the elevators at the Hyatt International Tower afterwards, and if he still felt okay to go we would brave the elevators to get to Regency again.

I didn't have to go far for Catherine Tate; she was just in a ballroom upstairs. I found a place at the end of a very long disability line and just waited, and pretty soon they started to load the room. Since I am "end of row" I can end up anywhere, even way down, but it doesn't matter. I'd rather be in the back than be in the sun waiting. If I am out in the sun too long it makes my heart pound very hard, so that I can hear it boom in my ears and pulse in my neck. It can be frightening.

What can I say about Catherine Tate other than she is very, very funny, and the whole hour was a delight. She saw a costume she loved in the audience—the Muppet character Beaker dressed as a "Meeping Angel" accompanied by Dr. Bunsenburner as the Doctor—and came out to meet them. Alas, too far away and quick for my camera lens. The other thing she does is that you come up on stage to ask her a question. I have never seen so many gingers in my life. One little boy of about ten with a vocabulary far beyond his years seriously asked her about acting; he was already appearing in plays at school. And of course there were the usual "favorite episodes," "favorite Doctor," questions. One person asked her if she read science fiction as a child and she said she hadn't, so what were her favorite children's books? Since I have been following the 150th anniversary of the publication of Little Women blog and discussions, I was delighted that she said one of her favorite books was Little Women and Good Wives, as parts one and two of the book were published in England, and that she greatly loved Jo March!

Once this panel was over I made my way posthaste to the Hyatt to find James waiting for me near the elevators, and to our delight, we had no trouble getting down the one level to the Regency VII ballroom. There was a Hyatt employee named Peter Miller in the elevator who was making sure all the disability people and people with strollers got to their proper floors, and while he couldn't take us on his first run, he came back to get  us. I was so impressed I posted this on the DragonCon Disability Facebook page and on the DragonCon page, and I sent the Hyatt a PM about it.

Sadly, we'd missed the original productions on Friday night, but tonight's Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performance was Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which we've heard before and is really good. I think this is my favorite adaptation. The story has been updated a little so that Conseil (Professor Arronax's nephew) is now his niece, and the navigator is also a woman, but they are in there as real people, not as spokespeople for women's equal rights. They just fit in as if the parts had always been written for a woman, and it works so well.

Even though Peter Miller had gone off duty, we had only a short wait for an elevator; a crowd basically let James in and I ran upstairs and met him, and we walked back down to the parking lot. To our surprise there was no one manning the gates, and someone sitting on the steps waved toward the Atlanta's Mart and said, "Go over there and they'll let you in." We didn't find any "they" to let us in and I basically had to trudge next to the power chair as we circled the A Level of the garage until we found the truck. Huh. Not really fond of that little business deal. But the rest of the day was swell, we stopped at Wendy's for a burger on the way home, and James wants to go again tomorrow. Hurrah!


Megan Follows, Anne of Green Gables panel

Catherine Tate talking to the boy who wants to be an actor

Matt Goodson as Professor Arronax and Jeff Hunt as Captain Nemo



» Saturday, September 01, 2018
DragonCon, Day 2 or "Butch's First Con"

Especially after yesterday, and because it was crowded Saturday, James did not think he would make it to the convention today. I took solace in the fact that he could have lunch with the guys (the hobby shop denizens still do lunch even though the hobby shop is long gone) and visit Hobbytown. Me, I put together a lunch and snacks, loaded up my backpack, and took the Kia downtown.

We have pretty much parked at the Courtland Street Garage since we started going to DragonCon, but their "event fee" was just too much for me. I went on Parking Panda and found a garage that was right next to the DragonCon dealer's room in the America's Mart. This was terra incognita for both of us: frankly I was terrified by driving downtown without Twilight, and I nearly went through a red light because I was so nervous not making that left turn on Ivan Allen Boulevard. I nervously parked, and ended up going down the elevator and cutting through the Merchandise Mart, coming out behind Peachtree Center. Then I had to go to registration, and this took a while as Disability Services was backed up due to an incident with the parade (apparently the Hyatt security people were not allowing the usual disability seating when they were supposed to). I've been getting an end-of-row badge because I can't stand for long periods and I can't be out in the sun. They also let me pick up James' badge, and I was hoping against hope he would make it tomorrow.

The long wait meant I was late for the panel saluting the 45th anniversary of Schoolhouse Rock. However, I did get there early enough for the singalong to favorite sequences: "Conjunction Junction," "Lolly Lolly Lolly," pronouns, "Interplanet Janet," "I'm Just a Bill," "The Preamble," and "Three is a Magic Number."

One of the panels I wanted to see today was next, the tribute to Harlan Ellison by the Sci-Fi Lit Track. Peter David and his wife Kathleen O'Shea were on the panel and, since they were good friends with Harlan and his wife, had some riotous stories to tell about "SF's bad boy." Peter told about people awed by the idea of Harlan babysitting 10-year-old Caroline David. Other funny stories were about Harlan's fondness for Goya paste with cream cheese and crackers and a practical joke Peter played on him involving it, and another was about Peter calling Harlan while on heavy sedation after a terrible back injury (Harlan advised him to unplug the phone before he made another call). Ken Garrison and a member of the Friends of Harlan Ellison club also told some funny or touching stories about him.

Next was the panel I was really looking forward to: Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie. I had nothing planned, so I figured I would go get into the disability line and eat my lunch and read. Well, the disability seating area was already packed, and under the lights in the Atrium lobby, it was hot. More disabled people were coming, so they took the people already seated and sat us in the back of the Black Lightning panel. I've never seen the show, but the panelists were funny and entertaining, especially one of the women cast members who apparently plays a villain.

When that panel was over, we were moved up first, and then the people who arrived later were filled in behind us before they let in the general population. This worked really well.

This was a fun panel. There was a running gag apparently going as people asking questions would come up and pose a dare Catherine Tate had posed in her previous day's panel. Throughout the panel Pearl Mackie collected names of restaurants to go to before she left Atlanta. (I wonder if she made them all!) Questions were varied, but there were the usual ones like favorite villains and favorite scenes. What role would you want? Pearl wants to be a bond villainess. She also revealed the worst part about being converted to a Cyberman was getting into the suit! Asked what they were taking away from Doctor Who, they said learning the craft and working with a great crew, and finding out that a simple television series can prove to be very powerful in people's lives. What was the difference between the first day of filming and the last? Happy and confusing to begin with and happy but also sad to leave it all behind. Peter Capaldi also talked a little about winning an Oscar for a short film, and how disorienting it was to be behind the scenes at a big event like that, pretty much like a dream. Pearl Mackie was asked what she would have liked most in the TARDIS. A bedroom! she said, and Peter agreed.

There was also a big laugh when Peter was asked how he, Stephen Moffat, and Mark Gatiss could lose a Doctor Who trivia contest.

After this big panel, I decided to go to a small one: the Alternative History track's panel for the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. This was low-key, relaxing, and fairly cool. The panelists and audience discussed favorite characters and episodes, and they talked about the movie that is coming out based on the series. There is also apparently going to be a sequel series called Ms. Fisher's Mod Mysteries, with Phryne's granddaughter solving mysteries in 1970s Australia. That sounds interesting.

I didn't have anything planned for 5:30, so instead of doing something else I just made that long trek back to the parking garage (via the Courtland Street Garage elevator and Peachtree Center and the Merchandise Mart) to fetch Butch and drive home. I'd done what I wanted to do today, enjoyed myself, and just wanted James and some soup. I told him I was on my way home, and he waited to eat supper until I got there. Providentially, there was a can of Campbell's chicken noodle in the cupboard.

We chatted a little and he said he'd had little trouble going to lunch and although he was still in pain while sitting, he thought with some pain medication he could manage going to the convention tomorrow and have a little fun. Hurrah!

Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie

Peter Capaldi

Pearl Mackie



» Friday, August 31, 2018
Sleeping Beauty and the Nervous Wife

Normally yesterday we would have made a Publix run and then rushed home to cook some chicken to make sandwiches for DragonCon, and today we would have been on the way downtown with our backpacks early, swearing at rush-hour traffic and getting our con badges before going to Peachtree Center for breakfast at Cafè Momo.

Alas, this year has driven us to hospitals, too many visits to urgent care, an interrupted Atomicon, and pretty much nearly crazy. James had sort of decided he could manage the convention even with a power chair and a catheter, but the prostatitis was the last straw. He can't sit still long because of the pain and it especially hurts when he drives. So we weren't planning on attending today, and, really, I wanted to get some sleep because I haven't gotten much the last couple of days.

I thought I was okay with it, but when I got up this morning I realized I was feeling sad at not being downtown, and was thinking wistfully of all the Brittrack panels that I would have loved to have seen this morning ("Brit TV You Should be Watching," "The Science of Sherlock," etc.). It wasn't James' fault he wasn't feeling well, and I was being childish, but I was longing to do something besides cleaning and grocery shopping. I was planning on going downtown tomorrow on my own, because Saturday is always the hardest day at the con for James since you can't get an elevator for love or money. He can go to lunch with the guys from the hobby shop, who still go to lunch even though the hobby shop is long gone. Me, I've been trying to walk a mile a day in training, except for those two wretched weeks after July 14 when I was incapable of little besides brooding.

In retrospect, it was good I sat the day out.

Let's go to Publix and get the shopping over with, I told James, and stop at CVS to use our coupon. Then we could go to Barnes & Noble with the coupon they had sent in e-mail. This would make up a little for DragonCon. So we did the Publix thing, and the CVS thing.

I noticed on the way home James was acting a little...fuzzy, I guess. He was driving perfectly, but it was as if he had to concentrate on it, and when we got in the house, he sat down in his computer chair for a moment. He said he "felt a little off," but had no chest pain or breathing problems. I don't think he was even winded from the stair climb, just hurting in the hips, knees, and back as usual. But he acted like he was about to fall asleep...or something worse. So I fetched his blood pressure cuff and his blood tester. His BP was fine and so was his sugar; it was still up from breakfast. We both guessed he hadn't slept well. He went to get a drink and was falling asleep in the middle of it.

So I figured we'd chill out for a little while. I scrolled through what was on television and found that Canadian ocean rescue movie I watched a few weeks ago, The Neptune Factor. Ben Gazzara (with a hideous Southern accent), Ernest Borgnine, Yvette Mimieux, and Walter Pidgeon were the stars, but most of the cast was Canadian, including Chris Wiggins and Donnelly Rhodes. (I'd commented on Facebook last time it aired that if it had Colin Fox in it, we'd have a 1970s Canadian actor trifecta.) Sadly, it's rather dull, except for the laughable sequences where they used blown-up images of tropical fish to create menace. James sat down to watch it with me, sipping on a slushie, and promptly fell asleep. He kept saying his mouth was dry which is why he was talking so slowly, but it worried me.

He slept through the whole movie, then went into the bedroom to change his clothes. I went through to our bathroom and just for the heck of it, checked out his pills.

The Friday morning pills were still there, although he said he'd taken them. The Friday night pills were gone.

And so now I knew what had happened: he'd taken his night pills instead of his day pills. Which meant he'd had an Ambien at breakfast this morning. Plus, because he didn't realize he'd taken the wrong pills, he took a pain pill when he got up as well. No wonder he was "feeling a little off."

Well, at least he hadn't had a stroke or a TIA. I let him sleep, and he was okay by suppertime and evening.

However, I was a nervous wreck half the afternoon.

Spent the evening watching a rerun of Fury and two episodes of Hack My Life, which is silly, but it was better than what was actually on.

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» Sunday, August 26, 2018
An August Weekend

I guess it was a normal weekend except for James still being in pain when he sits. On Saturday afternoon we went up to JoAnn to buy some upholstery foam to hopefully make his chair at work more comfortable. They had some pre-cut foam pillows on sale, but we ended up just getting a thick, heavy duty piece instead. It's amazing how much foam costs. The thickest foam we found at JoAnn was $85/yard! For a piece a half inch thinner it was $65/yard. We found a piece that was actually valued at $37, but the lady at the fabric counter suggested I sign up on the JoAnn app because there was a 60 percent off coupon there. I did and James got the piece for $15. (Her name was Cynthia and she was just terrific; after we paid for the foam we went back and she used an electric scissors with a long blade to cut it in half for us.) Now we just need to get a pair of cheap pillowcases.

Then we got gasoline for the truck at Costco, and went into Costco as well; since we were there, might as well get milk, and we needed toilet paper, and James wanted more of the chickpea "Cheetos."

We also stopped at Publix after we dropped off the milk and had lunch (we bought a rotisserie chicken at Costco and ate the legs and the wings) to get the twofers, but had to stock up on Crystal Light since James drinks so much of it, and stocked up on other stuff, so it was an expensive trip.

We ended up spending the rest of the night watching the M*A*S*H marathon on Sundance Channel, from the last few episodes with Trapper John through BJ and Colonel Potter's opening episodes. Frank Burns becomes incredibly annoying when you binge-watch; he was easier to take in weekly doses. 😃

Didn't get to sleep until two, so actually slept in until 10:30 this morning! Only woke up once to use the bathroom; James said he woke up an hour later, but his pillow called him back to bed. I see this is the only way we can get a decent night's sleep; go to bed late so we're exhausted. At 10:30 p.m. we are just not tired!

Skipped breakfast to get to Kroger before all of the churches let out; it was still pretty crowded, but we got around okay. James had some "Kroger bucks" and coupons for vegetables, paper towels, and cleaning products, so we got mushrooms and other things, and even found a chuck steak in the "Manager's Special" area for supper. James found a tiny piece of steak there as well, so he cooked it up with eggs, mushrooms, and onions and had half for lunch and saved the other half for Thursday when he will telework. I had the rest of the trumpet pasta from our macaroni dinner the other night, with Publix French bread to "zoop" in the leftover sauce.

Watched Rehab Addict  most of the afternoon except when we went out to Ollie's to look for cheap pillowcases. Found pearl couscous, a new spatula, and a couple of other things, including a hardback mystery book for $4

Watched Guy's Grocery Games tonight (a pizza competition) and then turned the remote over to James so I could read magazines.

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» Friday, August 24, 2018
We Just Keep Plugging Along...
Not much to write about in the last couple of weeks. We thought James had a UTI again, but it turns out to be "prostatitis"—once again caused by long-term use of the Foley catheter. They put him on a month's worth of Cipro, but that's not the problem: it's causing him severe pain when he sits down. The guy who didn't want to see pain medication and hid it in the back of the drawer is now taking it regularly and he said it does very little to help. The problem is that his entire job is sitting; he has to sit to take calls. And he can't stand up long due to his back problems. So he's pretty damned-if-he-does damned-if-he-doesn't.

Of course if the original plan had come to fruition, on Monday he would have been having surgery and maybe getting over this crap. But his cardiologist wants to be very careful and doesn't want him to have the surgery until it's been a year since his heart attack. We appreciate that. But his urologist wants to get this through before Kaiser jumps ship at Northside Hospital and transfers to Emory Midtown (the thought gives us both the shudders). Supposedly Northside is no longer large enough for the amount of patients Kaiser sends them.

He's still alternating teleworking and going into work. He teleworks on rainy days (the power chair isn't supposed to go out in the rain) and on doctors' appointment days, and he also worked at home while he made sure he didn't get woozy from the pain medication. His big problem, as I mentioned, is the sitting. Tomorrow we are going to go to JoAnn and buy a piece of thick foam for him to sit on. His most comfortable seat is at the side of the bed, which is a foam mattress. He's been teleworking on a Serta padded chair with a pillow on top of a cushion, and that doesn't help. Last weekend he tried to go down to his hobby room and work on a model, and he could only bear the chair about an hour. So this is kind of put a kink in the works to go to DragonCon, too. He's managed it with the chair, and thinks he could manage it with the chair and the catheter (he just has to keep drinking). But he can't sit still, and he doesn't know how he would manage through panels.

So he's miserable and I'm miserable because he's miserable which means he's miserable for making me miserable and we're just going in circles. It's not a happy revolution because we're feeding off each other's depression.

I've been trying to pull myself out of this loathesome post-accident depression with mixed results. I've gone back trying to get in my minimum of 30 minutes a day "vigorous exercise," which would be easier if Tucker wasn't so reluctant to accompany me. I pretty much have to coax him through half the walk, at least the outbound leg. He walks fast enough coming home. In the morning I've been leaving the subdivision and crossing the street (no sidewalk on our side of the main road) to walk down to the stop sign in one direction and the day care center in the other, and Tucker doesn't like the sound of the cars thundering by on their way to work. (They do thunder, and drive a lot faster than they should.) And of course I'm doing the decluttering thing, just a little slower than I have been. Monday has become my "clean the bathrooms" day and Thursday my laundry day. Somewhere during the week I'll wash the kitchen floor.

The success list is mostly minor, but all mine:
  • Finally fixed a stained glass leaf that fell and cracked more than a year ago. It's a bit battle scarred (I had to fill in some missing chips with glass paint), but back up on the door. And I replaced the useless suction cups that held up all the leaves in the doorway and replaced them with Command hooks so no more leaves should fall down.
  • Located my cassette splicing tape (if it was a snake it would have bitten me) and fixed an old cassette tape. (Found my hand rewinder, too.)
  • Washed the floor in the foyer and cleaned off the bench.
  • Updated a bunch of web pages and sorted my computer graphics into more appropriate folders for future web updates.
  • Loaded necessities in the new car.
  • Bought a new Magic Bullet for James for his birthday. His died, and the BOGO unit we got didn't work right out of the box. Unfortunately we can't return it because we got it in 2005. The old one lasted that long.
  • Shelved a bunch more books.
  • Turned in old glasses to the Lions Club.
  • Donated another box of stuff (mostly old desk decorations from work) to Goodwill and have another box started already.
So, not much.

Tonight when James finished work we had supper at Folks and then we did the rounds at Michaels (I bought a gift for someone and James got wooden stands for his models) and Five Below. On the way home we had a gorgeous combination: a bright orange-and-pink sunset spread all over the western sky while in the southeast the moon rose like a light-saturated glass globe. So lovely!

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» Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Tale of the Car: The Bittersweet Final Chapter
Yes, I'm still alive.

However, I'm still recovering from an emotional tailspin that's been a nightmare.

The foley catheter that James had inserted after the urodynamics test on June 26 was defective in some manner and kept disconnecting from the leg bag. He had to come home from work one day, and, because he sits off in an area with no one else around, went through another day with the damn thing popping off about a dozen times. That Thursday he called Kaiser urology, but they couldn't get him in. They told him if he felt it needed to be changed, he needed to go to...guess where: Urgent Care. So we did that on Friday afternoon after taping the catheter output to the leg bag with electrical tape.

The tech they had put the catheter in was not experienced at it. By Saturday afternoon, July 14, it went sour. James called me about 3 p.m., after walking out of his club meeting in terrible pain. I asked if he felt capable of driving to Urgent Care at Towne Park (he was about three or four miles away) and he said yes. So he went there and I went to drive to meet him. I was nearly there when I had to slow down for traffic. It proceeded forward and then had to stop again, but I reacted three seconds too slowly and rear-ended someone. Alice and Ken came to rescue me, but amazingly the car was driveable even though the hood was bent up and the grill broken and the A/C quit working. In fact, according to the HUM device plugged into the car, all the systems (battery, coolant, engine, transmission, etc.) were working perfectly. I drove it home (with Alice as co-pilot) and ironically they were going to take me back up to Urgent Care, but James was on his way home. They had to put in a new catheter (and this time they did it correctly). We need to have a big, big talk with Urololgy or someone at Kaiser. This is the second time we've had a foley put in at Urgent Care and it's gone bad.

I had a big bruise on my left shoulder where the seat belt caught me and I ached all over for a while, but the biggest ache was in my heart because I hit someone. (The lady wasn't hurt.) I've never hit another car in my life. And I knew Nationwide would want to total the car. Even though I've taken such good care at it, and even coddled it after the bridge collapse on I-85 last year, and the seats and the interior still look brand new, the body work would be a bear. I did take it to my mechanic and he said he knew a fairly honest body shop; I went there next and they said it would be $5K to fix and even then, because the hood was jammed shut, they might have to make more repairs after reaching the $5K limit. After the impact of the accident, vapor came out of the vents and the A/C quit working. There was another $1K right there. In misery I just gave up.

(Incidentally, the HUM from Verizon worked fine, just like the similar gadget in those OnStar commercials. I had barely reached for my phone to call 911 when the dispatcher came on the line and asked if I'd been in an accident. They called the police for me and the dispatcher stayed on with me until the police showed up, while I sobbed to poor James stuck at Urgent Care.)

On July 25, exactly fourteen years from the day I bought my PT Cruiser,  I had to tell the insurance company to come take the car away. They were fourteen good years and so many adventures: my mom's house for Thanksgiving after the car being broadsided by an SUV costing $13K to repair, LaSalette Shrine, Udvar-Hazy (twice), Newport, Orchard House, Quonset Point, Yorktown, Jamestown, Williamsburg, Valley Forge, Roadside America and The National Christmas Museum (now both closed), Hershey, the PA Railroad Museum, Strasburg Rail Road, Newport News, Norfolk, Dayton, Wapakoneta, Bronners CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, the Henry Ford, Greenfield Village (where I still want to live), Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Helen, Toccoa, Chattanooga, DragonCon, Owensboro, bringing Schuyler home from Petco...and surviving I-75/85 and I-285 weekdays. It was the last car I had that my mother rode in, and, with our finances, the last new car I will ever own. Lots of memories. Much heartache.

On Saturday July 21 at Aaron Lawson's going-away party, Jerry, bless him, was trying to cheer me up and asked if I'd like to look at his car to maybe think about getting a used Kia Soul. (Both he and Clair seem happy with their Souls.) As we were leaving, Jerry invited James to sit in the car to see if he had good head clearance. Just as we approached it, a big red-tailed hawk swooped down over our heads and landed in a tree almost right over the car, and looked back at us. It was so close we could see the beautiful patterning of the spots on the chest feathers. So James "tried on" the car, and then we got in the truck to drive home. We were approaching the end of Sewell Mill Road, almost at Roswell Road, a few miles from the Lawson house, and I saw a flash of white next to the window. Flying right next to the passenger side of the truck, so close that James couldn't see it, was another red-tailed hawk.

Just for the heck of it I Googled and got "The hawk is a messenger bird. Usually when we see a hawk it means to pay attention because a message is coming to you. Hawks represent clear sightedness, being observant, our far memory and guardianship. They also bring courage, wisdom, illumination, creativity and truth. Hawks give us the ability to see the larger picture in life. They can help you to overcome problems and make wise use of opportunities."

The last time something like this happened it was right before Mom died. I was trying to take her out to Riverside and maybe to where Crescent Park used to be. It was before they redid I-195. I drove to work that way for 3 1/2 years; I could have done it blindfolded. But three times, no matter which way I turned, I kept ending up on I-195 pointed toward Fall River. So we went to Ste. Anne's instead, and I remember Mom looking at me with a beatific face and saying "I'm so glad we came." Me, too.

James whiled away some hours for me by looking for used Kia Souls. We found one with a great Carfax report (one owner, no accidents) except for a lot of miles (150K for a three-year-old car!) up in Roswell. So we went up there Sunday the 29th and got caught up in a whirlwind of perky car salesman (so help me, I asked him "Are you always this relentlessly cheerful?"). Anyway, we drove it and it seemed okay. It's got a smaller engine than the PT so it's noisy, but it runs okay. Beggars can't be choosers, and because James needs the power chair to get around, we won't be using it on vacations anymore, except maybe for weekend things where we are not moving around much (like when we went up to his sister's for Thanksgiving in 2016). It will strictly be an errands and emergency car.

So I had it checked out by my mechanic on Monday the 30th and had it bought by that afternoon. The tow truck came by for poor Twilight last Friday (I promised not to cry anymore but I did after the taillights disappeared from our street). I've put all the shopping bags and etc. in the new car—it's a 2015 white Kia Soul, and it is definitely not "bigger on the inside" like the PT—and did a bunch of errands in it today.

Ambivalent about names. Since Twilight and Cloudy (the truck) had weather names, I thought "Hoarfrost" or "Frosty" for short, and James started singing "Frosty the white car, is a jolly, happy Soul..." I laughed and considered decking him at the same time. But a couple of times I've called it "Butch." It does have a flat top, after all.

Still, miss my "boy." And still miserable about hitting someone. I've been driving since 1971 and never hit another car in my life.

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» Tuesday, July 10, 2018
The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, JULY 10, 2018

Outside my window...
...still sunny at quarter to seven, and hot, 89℉. I do hate daylight saving time. I want it to be all cozy and at least getting close to sunset by the time we finish dinner, not bright and sweltering.

I am thinking...
...that I'm sad that Ikea is cheaping out lately. Part of our home is furnished with Ikea, and they've quit making what we thought was the nice stuff and they're going back to all that ugly 60s stuff. Plus the "lock screws" on the Billy bookcases are now made with plastic rather than metal.

I am thankful...
...I have finished assembling the bookcases I bought!

In the kitchen...
...James made Trader Joe's chicken and apple sausage for supper tonight, with a side of three-cheese potatoes. It's about time to start up the dishwasher again.

I am wearing...
...a blue-flowered white ribbed tank top, aqua colored shorts, and white socks.

I am creating...
...more space for books down in the library. On Sunday at Ikea I bought a short wide Billy (30" wide), a short narrow Billy (15" wide), and a Gnedby (technically a CD shelf). I assembled them all today and stocked the wide Billy with my linguistics books. The place where they were can take my overflowing history books. I had several ideas for the Gnedby, but am probably going to move my paperback young adult books (like L.M. Montgomery) there. Then my mystery books, which are also overflowing, can overflow around the corner to that spot. Not sure what's going in the narrow Billy, perhaps my books about books (Murder Ink, the Dorling-Kindersley book about Sherlock Holmes, Heidi's Alp, etc.). There's also another bookcase that most of the books in it will be recycled. James' "Backwoods Home" magazines are in it, but it can fit other stuff.

I am going... continue on the library project tomorrow morning, at least that's the plan. In the afternoon, I have to go with James to the nephrologist.

I am wondering... I got all this stuff done before I retired! Well, because it didn't get done. That's why everything's in a mess.

I am reading...
...Edward and Alexandra, about the lives of Edward VII of England and his wife, the Princess Alexandra of Denmark. I've always thought "Bertie" got a bad rap from his mother Queen Victoria; he was too much like her before she became besotted with Prince Albert. Maybe if she had given him some responsibility, he wouldn't have gotten involved in all the scandals he ended up in the middle of.

I am hoping...
...things will continue to go well for James. I worry so much about him, and about the upcoming surgery, but he needs to have that Foley catheter gone. It is so much trouble and we can't seem to keep him in Statlock holders.

I am looking forward to...
...working more on the library project. I still have to get rid of all my flowers from work. I don't actually want them, but they do hold nice memories, so it's hard.

I am learning...
...that there still aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do!

Around the house...
...James is in the recliner, Tucker has dragged his blanket at James' feet to sleep, and Snowy is budgie-burbling quietly in the background. I'm about to change the channel to watch something on PBS.

I am pondering...
...the wonder that is the rescue of the Thai boys and their coach. We have been following that closely. So glad they were able to be rescued!

A favorite quote for today...
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”  ― Alan Bennett

One of my favorite things...
...coming up this weekend, the Hallmark Ornament Premiere!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Going with James to the doctor tomorrow, I hope more work on the library, Ornament Premiere on Saturday.

A peek into my day...
LOL. Just click on the links to the bookcases! That was my day!

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



» Sunday, July 08, 2018
Post Independence

Friday I'd headed up to Town Center in the hopes of hitting JoAnn, only to have forgotten the coupons. 🤔 Oh, well. Instead I went to Barnes & Noble (since I didn't forget that coupon) and then did most of the shopping at Publix. I got us some generic beef and gravy for supper, and some nice pork chops for the cookout on Saturday, plus hummus and crackers to share.

Also watched the last of the Charleston house segments on This Old House. This was what was called a "Charleston single," built in the 1800s. The house is actually turned sideways to the driveway and the "front door" leads onto a full-length porch before you get to the house doors. I understand putting modern appliances and plumbing fixtures in, but it pains me to see these beautiful old period homes with modern furniture in them and these stark white decorating schemes. I wouldn't want to dust Victorian tchotckes, either, but I wish there was more of a balance. All that chrome and white seems so cold (and I still hate stainless steel appliances). They also worked on a second house, in a historically black neighborhood. It was so badly damaged they couldn't finish it before the show ended, so they posted the "reveal" on Facebook. Why not just make an extra episode?

(Oh, and Friday afternoon I finally got the Audacity recording program to work on my computer after several years of not being able to use it. On this computer as well as the previous one, the newest version of the software (the older one would no longer work) would always say it could not find a source to record from. I finally bought the cheap version of Total Recorder to record and then would edit on Audacity. Well, last week TR quit working; stuff I recorded came out garbled. It's done this before, but the only thing I could do to fix it this time was make TR my default recorder. This disabled Audacity for editing. I'd looked for answers to the recording-on-Audacity before, even asked Audacity (they responded in technical gobbledegook I didn't comprehend), but I tried searching again—and this time found something that was understandable and worked. It was as simple as going into sound in Windows Control Panel and un-disabling the recording setting! Apparently this is something Windows does automatically. Stupid thing.)

Saturday morning and early afternoon we were planning to do some chores. This got postponed when James' replacement tablet showed up. He has an Ellipsis from Verizon, but it fell and the screen cracked. We have replacement insurance, and we had ordered a new one. To our surprise it was delivered before noon by the "brown truck of happiness," and we spent most of the time deleting all the rubbish they put on it, and putting useful things on instead (like James' e-books).

We had a great time at Alice and Ken's on Saturday night. Ostensibly it was a party to celebrate their new backyard, but it was spitting rain, so Ken grilled out under the carport again. I like the backyard. There's a concrete patio and the rest is in ivy and pine straw. No grass to cut in back! It was the usual crowd of friends, plus Clay and Maggi drove up from Warner Robins, and some of Alice's church friends came. James' marinade of the pork chops was prime, and we also enjoyed yellow rice, baked beans, the hummus, chips, fruit salad, watermelon, and Clay's bourbon fudge. (Yes, you could taste it.) Juanita surprised everyone by showing up without her cast (she had to have a broken bone fixed in her foot).

This morning we slept in, I walked the dog—on a rare summer morning that was sunny but only warm, not burning, and breezy, simply lovely; if it was in the 70s all summer I would not complain!—and we ate breakfast, then went off to Ikea. I can't proceed down in the library without buying a few small bookcases to fit in the spot where the desk once was. We got there at 11:30 and the place was already crowded; we didn't realize till we checked out that there is a Back to College sale this weekend.

Sadly, the restaurant doesn't offer any of the variety it used to. There was a nice looking salad that was ruined by feta cheese, a salmon plate with baby greens that would have been okay had I not wanted to burp up fish all afternoon, the usual meatballs, chicken tenders (ugh), and vegetable balls. I didn't want to eat fifteen meatballs, so just got cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots from the salad bar (other choice was lettuce) and ate one of James' meatballs and a couple of forkfuls of his mashed potatoes. We shared a slice of chocolate cake for dessert, and then marched on into the showroom. Saw a desk chair that looks promising. I don't want one with armrests—armrests are for supervisors who don't do any work—and this one had nice back support. Trouble is I'm in love with a drafting chair at Sam Flax, but it costs over twice as much.

Anyway, we picked up some S-hooks, an aluminum holder for wooden spoons, ginger cookies for me and chocolate ones for James, and three bookcases: a short full-width "Billy" and the same height but narrower one, and a full-size "Gnedby." I need to transfer some books (not sure which yet) so that my overflowing history book collection has somewhere to go. I've accumulated a bunch of World War I and more Victorian books since we got the original bookcases.

I also bought a cotton bedspread to correct a dumb mistake I made during the winter. I replaced our fall quilt (which had always been a bit too garish but was all I could find in my price range) with a comforter, which was stupid, as I'd already relegated our nice denim comforter to the closet because it was too heavy most of the year. This bedspread, in a cadet blue, has a nice waffle texture and is light enough to be used as an extra blanket if needed but not smothering.

Stopped at Publix for forgotten things and milk, had teriyaki chicken and ramen noodles for supper, I washed and dried the bedspread and put it on the bed, as well as sorting pills for the week, and then we finally watched A Capitol Fourth. I loved the Boston Pops and the super fireworks on Wednesday (Bloomberg is doing a great broadcasting job; go screw yourself, CBS), and Rita Moreno's performance was a blast, but Capitol Fourth, for once, had better musical guests: Jimmy Buffett, the Beach Boys, Pentatonix, and more. When Renee Fleming sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" I got goosebumps. And you should have seen Tucker and Snowy staring at us when we got up and danced to the Beach Boys! I think Tucker thought we were having a fit.

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» Monday, July 02, 2018
A Bit of Luck
It didn't look like a very auspicious day at first. I got up, walked Tucker, ate my breakfast, washed the kitchen floor, and then went to give Tucker his breakfast. He had two bits of dog food left from last night, and I picked up one and then...what was that black spot moving on the other?

Ants! Son of a bitch!

I shrieked and began killing ants under the dog's dishes and on the baseboard headed for the door (there couldn't have been more than a dozen; I think I caught the scouting party). Once that was done I raced for the closet panting "Don't panic! Don't panic!" and refilled my vinegar bottle, and then proceeded to drench the baseboards near the deck door and the deck door and the deck doorstep and then outside against the house and around the door. I dumped out Tucker's water, took his food outside (because it had been sprayed with vinegar) in a bag, and washed both the water dispenser and the food bowls and then wiped them off at the bottom with vinegar and wiped the clear plastic tray under the dishes off with the vinegar as well.

Once I finished up I called Northwest Exterminators and got them to send someone out on Tuesday. [Later 7/3: He came. The ants had a nest under the plastic storage container on the deck! Opportunists!]

And then because I didn't trust the vinegar to do the whole job, I went out to the garage and got the Ortho and sprayed outside, and then did another pass inside with the vinegar.

::glare:: Ants! I hate ants.

On top of this we had to go to Kaiser this afternoon to see the gastroenterologist. James was wary about this appointment because he was afraid they were going to ask him to have another colonoscopy. He had one two years ago—which came out clear—that drove his creatitine levels to hell. But the consultation was not what he feared. They are still trying to track down the cause of his anemia, and problems in the GI tract are a primary cause of that. But in this case the doctor is still pretty sure it is his kidneys, and does not want him to have another colonoscopy. So we left there pretty well relieved.

We drove home through Kennesaw Battlefield Park and downtown Marietta. I said, "You know, if we could find a parking space, we could stop at The Corner Shop [the British store]." Lo, a car pulled out of a parking space! So we had a nice visit there and we bought James some lemon cookies.

It was about 3:20 and James said idly, "But what are we going to have for supper?" Then "Hey, we can go to Golden Corral!' It took us a bit to get there, but we were able to indulge in the Senior Early Bird special, which we got skunked out of on Saturday, which is a meal and a drink for $8. The trick is that they don't put steak on the buffet until four. Oh, they have popcorn shrimp, fish, roast and fried chicken, meat loaf, pot roast, bourbon chicken, sliders, barbecue pork, burgers, fixings for tortillas, lots of salad fixings, fruit, and other things, plus dessert, but no steak before four. So we just had appetizers at first—the chicken soup was surprisingly low in salt and the roast chicken is almost as good as the old Old Country Buffet that used to be on Buford Highway—and then at four lined up for our steaks. Their blueberry pie was good, too. I had that with one chocolate chip cookie and a marshmallow dipped in the ubiquitous Chocolate Fountain.

We got home to hear a helicopter hovering somewhere west of our house. We turned on the news to see that indeed it was just up the road. A man had come home from work and found armed robbers inside his apartment! There was a standoff, but the guy is okay, thank God! They had two of the robbers and were looking for a third.

Had to take Tucker out before dark tonight; someone was shooting off Roman candles last night and gave the poor dog the shakes. We are giving him a Petco-recommended valerian/melatonin "cookie," but it's really no help when the boomers start going off. Just one scared him tonight, even though there were nothing but poppers going off and fireflies flashing when we walked.

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» Sunday, July 01, 2018
Minimalist Weekend

Because James has been in and out of work, we've been kind of in and out of money. All those thirty dollar visits to the doctor and to Urgent Care add up quickly. So we didn't eat out as usual on Friday night, but had some chicken legs that were already cooked in the freezer.

Saturday morning we did our shopping at Publix, making sure to get supplies for James to make breakfast burritos this weekend. They only had three packages of the low-sodium low-carb wraps that he uses instead of tortillas, which are usually too fragile for the roll of the burrito. So after we went home and put all the stuff up and had a little snack, we headed back out for a treat: a frozen hot chocolate at Books-a-Million. On the way we stopped at another Publix and managed to procure another three packages of wraps.

We had a nice time out. Petco was adopting dogs, so we went to check them out. There was a group of larger dogs playing together in an enclosure; one bull terrier (who ended up going home with someone) was playing dominance games with the others. Other dogs were lined along an aisle. There were some puppies, and also a couple of dignified adult dogs.

Of course I visited the budgies, too!

We spent about an hour in the bookstore looking around. I picked up a remaindered book, and then we enjoyed the frozen hot chocolate. No one quite makes it like the Joe Muggs coffee shop they have.

Now we were hungry and we headed for a treat. We had read several places on the web that Golden Corral has a senior Early Bird until four o'clock, under eight dollars with a drink, every day but Sunday. We can't afford to eat at Golden Corral any longer and we were really looking forward to it. But after fighting through construction traffic on Cobb Parkway, we arrived to see that it did not include Saturday. James was tired, so we did not drive all the way back up to Town Center to Fried Tomato Buffet, which is the next cheapest buffet to eat; we just had dinner at Hibachi Grill.

The sun blazed on us everywhere we drove. By the time we got home we were hot and tired, even through we'd been in an air-conditioned car. I know we shouldn't have laid down after a meal and I regret doing it, but the bedroom was dark and seductively cool, and we were both asleep for about an hour. In fact, James got up before the alarm I'd set and I slept on another half hour. Summer just sucks all the energy out of me.

Spent the evening watching two movies on TCM. The Mask of Dimitrios was a 1944 movie which starred Peter Lorre as a Dutch mystery story writer. While he is in Istanbul, a man named Dimitrios, a famous criminal, is pulled out of the Bosphorus, and he becomes fascinated with his story, following a trail of the amoral man's different capers across Europe. Along the way a man named Peters (played by Sydney Greenstreet) befriends him and he learns much about the treacherous Dimitrios, including one very big surprise—maybe more than he really wanted to know. This is a classic movie which I'd never seen. Lorre and Greenstreet play well together and Zachary Scott, in his first starring role, is a great treacherous villain.

Following was Errol Flynn in Footsteps in the Dark, which was a comedy mystery. Frances Warren is a wealthy insurance broker with an equally wealthy mother-in-law who lives with him and his wife. He's bored with his job, so in his spare time he writes mysteries under a pseudonym with his chauffeur as his typist, and, like Rick Castle decades later, hangs around the police department to get ideas for his books (the cops in this one played by Alan Hale Sr. and William Frawley). His wife and MIL know nothing about this; in fact his MIL is in a snit because his latest book, Footsteps in the Dark, lampoons her hoity-toity women's club meeting. But all his late nights "at board meetings" (really following the police around) arouse their suspicions, just about the time he's checking out a burlesque performer named Blondie White (Lee Patrick, who played Topper's goofy wife in the television series, has a fairly dramatic role here). I enjoyed it, but it's not a belly-buster of a comedy by any means. Supposedly Flynn loved doing it, too, but it did not do well, so they never made a sequel. I would have liked to have seen it, since it is intimated at the end that his wife is equally bored and would be joining him in his sleuthing.

Today I did chores (washed towels, did hard drive backup, finished my June book reviews, sorted pills) and went to Kroger, where I ended up playing "Where's Waldo?" All I needed was milk, no-salt mushrooms, and a Smart Balance low-sodium. I stopped at produce to buy peaches, plums, two ears of corn for Independence Day dinner, and some mandarin oranges, then descended into a maze—they'd rearranged the entire right side of the store! A lady and I wandered around bewilderedly for five minutes figuring where they might be, then I shagged down a friendly Kroger employee. She was working from a list because she'd come back after being off for a few days and didn't know they'd rearranged either. It took us another five-ten minutes to find the mushrooms, which are currently under a sign that says "cookies." And after all that I didn't get the Smart Balance because the Smyrna Kroger, at least, doesn't carry the low sodium version. Arrrgh.

Listened to "The Tech Guy" this afternoon, and then two episodes of "A Way With Words," then finally chilled out to music.

Publix had shrimp rings on twofer this week, so James took them and made shrimp scampi of them for supper; a nice butter-garlic sauce and shrimp over linguini. Happy tummy time.

Now watching The Incredible Dr. Pol.

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» Friday, June 29, 2018
Adventures in Medical Land
Warning! Major medical neep!

James had his urodynamics test on Monday. This is basically a test to see how much pressure his bladder builds up before he feels various urges to void. He said he now has a better idea of women's visits to gynecology; they had him up in stirrups. Needless to say, this was not a pleasant test, and they discovered that now, without the Foley catheter, he can no longer void at all. The doctor told him there would definitely be some sort of bleeding as the test had irritated the areas tested, so we expected blood in his urine. Without being too graphic, there was quite a bit. What really frightened me is there was also blood coming from the entry point of the catheter. It was not flowing, but it was dribbling, and I got quite upset and did not sleep most of the night. Of course this was contagious and James was also restless most of the night. Nevertheless, he got up and teleworked until he could call the doctor at 8:30. The doctor called back about an hour later and assured him that unless he was developing signs of an infection (fever, swelling, etc.) or the blood was gushing out, this was normal. (The blood loss was more like a menstrual flow, which is normally only a couple of tablespoons.) James went back to work feeling relieved and I crawled onto the futon and slept a blessed three hours.

Later Tuesday night we thought we had a problem: when you have bleeding in that area you have clots. Clots block catheters. James had no output from noon onward. So when he finished work he cooked dinner, because if we had to go up to Urgent Care to get it flushed out it would take hours and we wouldn't eat until late. While James was moving around in the kitchen evidently the blockage broke loose, so we didn't have to go. But around bedtime it looked like it was happening again. Since we were seeing the urologist early Wednesday morning, we just showered and went to bed. (The only good news was the dribbling blood was gone.)

Needless to say James was under a lot of pressure on Wednesday morning, and was so full he was having overflow around the catheter. This "runoff" caused a little relief, but not all. And of course we had to drive all the way out to Kaiser Glenlake in rush hour traffic. (Didn't I retire not to have to do this crap anymore??? Even riding in the truck instead of driving myself I was stressed out.)

The moment James' name was called we told the nurse what was going on. She reported to the doctor, who told her to take care of it before he came to talk with us. She was really sweet. I asked if I could watch because we have an irrigation kit here at home and I wondered if I could do this instead of always popping up to Urgent Care. So I watched carefully. She did something different than the nurse at the emergency room at Wellstar did back in April; instead of irrigating first, she put the empty syringe—with the plunger all the way in—at the end of the now open catheter tube, then she very gently pulled back on it. Pop! out came the clot and the waterworks flowed. After a while, James smiled. 😌 I bet! Apparently, I even came in handy; the nurse needed three hands to do the entire process and I provided a couple.

Dr. Starr came to talk to us after that. He said that last week's MRI, because the catheter was not properly inserted when it was taken, definitely showed the proof that James' bladder is backwashing into his kidneys. Kidneys don't work backward; this is probably what has caused most of his kidney problems. The first step is called a TURP. You can look that up for yourself. General anesthesia, overnight stay, and it will hurt for a while, but what's best for his kidneys. So we are going for it if his cardiologist and nephrologist and GP sign off on it. As always the caveat: it may not work, or may not work forever. It's presently scheduled for August 27.

So home we went. James went back to drinking his water and teas, but he was way behind on it, and when his output didn't meet the usual numbers by evening, we wondered if it was just that. So we went to bed, but I woke up at 4:30 Thursday morning to find James in the bathroom and nothing in the night bag. Well, boys and girls, time to see if I was watching carefully yesterday. I scrubbed my hands, decanted the irrigation kit, got the syringe in proper position, then we popped off the container bag and I put the syringe in place at the output end and very gently pulled back the plunger.

Pop! out came the clot and then came the deluge.

Wow. It did work.

And then I cleaned up and we both went back to bed. In the real morning, everything was clear and flowing, if you get my drift.

Yes, I truly didn't realize that once I retired I'd get a crash course in nursing.

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