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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» Thursday, June 13, 2019
Tale of the Unexpected

So, another Thursday has rolled around. Woke leisurely, had breakfast, walked Tucker.

We were still having gorgeous weather this morning. Yesterday the high was only 72℉, and there was a breeze. It was like a day borrowed out of April, one we could actually enjoy without yellow pine pollen dust in the air. Had the front, bedroom, and dining room window open, and the door to the deck while we were at home. So walking this morning was a joy, even with the sun out. There was a smart breeze, and the air smelled fresh and wonderful, of grass, trees, and even flowers, rather than hot asphalt, hot concrete, and car exhaust.

When we got back, it was off grocery shopping! We got in the truck, James backed out, then stopped a foot from the garage door and said "Something's wrong." I didn't understand. I thought he meant the garage door, or, even worse, something wrong with him. "What's wrong?" To my relief, his response was only, "There's something wrong with the truck. I've got a flat tire or something."

Why, yes, yes, he did. The left rear tire was flat as a pancake. I remember when he came home Tuesday (he teleworked on Wednesday because he got about four hours sleep and didn't feel safe driving) the truck looked a little low when it pulled in the driveway, but the tire was not flat then, nor looked low.

So James slowly pulled the truck back in the driveway so as not to damage the tire, and we took the car to Lidl (where I went inside for milk and bread) and then to Publix where we picked up twofers, including more dog biscuits, and some lunchmeat and more turkey thighs. On the way home, James called AAA, and they were on their way before we arrived home. James could watch the truck's progress on a map on his phone.

Man, that's a big truck. The guy told me he towed a Hummer once! He had the spare tire out from under the truck, the bad tire off, the spare tire on, and the spare tire filled with air (there's a compressor on the front of the AAA truck) in less than 20 minutes. So Triple A has paid for itself this year.

I'd already eaten a sandwich (James was sweet and bought me mortadella, which I had with a nice fresh Lidl bun), James ate his, and we took the tire over to MMW (formerly NAPA Auto Center), although James was certain he would have to buy a new tire, and the tires for the truck are over $125 each. But...surprise! It was a puncture that could be patched and only cost $25. We hadn't been here since they remodeled, and the inside looks really spiffy now, new floor, checkout desk, even a little counter where you can get water and coffee. Mr. Gagnon, the sweet older man who would occasionally be the one who drove me home and back when I had Twilight repaired, must have retired. There's a new gang, but Mike the head mechanic is still there.

On the way home we stopped at Kroger to pick up no-salt mushrooms and found a windfall in the Manager's Special section in the meat department: three meals of sirloin steak and three meals of pork loin, all discounted. We got six main courses for dinners for about $22. Also the mushrooms. Pity Kroger is the only place to find no-salt mushrooms.

Because of the meat, we had to come straight home. We got all the servings in the freezer, and I also sliced up the green pepper we bought at Publix. Both James and I love green pepper flavor in chicken cacciatore, but we can't eat the pepper itself because it makes us sick. So I freeze strips of green pepper to break up into chicken cacciatore to give it the flavor, and then we discard the bits of pepper.

By the time that was over, it was almost time for supper. We had the last of the chicken cacciatore I cooked last time, and James had it with green beans and brown rice, and I had it with fresh French bread from Lidl. Finished my library books, watched two Perry Mason episodes, took Tucker out under an almost full moon that was so bright you could see the sky as dark blue and not black. It was so nice outside the college students renting one of the houses down the street were out goofing off on skateboards (and one on a scooter with lighted blue wheels).

There was a comment on my Facebook post about the flat tire saying that we "were sooooo lucky." Yes, we were. James teleworked Wednesday because he only had four hours sleep and didn't feel safe driving. What if he had gone to work and that tire gave out when he was driving to or from work, going 45 mph on South Cobb Drive or the East-West Connector? Or if he came out exhausted after ten hours work to find the tire flat and had to wait for AAA? Instead it went flat in the garage. So, thank you, God.

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» Saturday, June 08, 2019
Rain Detours

And so it rained.

James isn't allowed to get the power chair wet, so I offered to take him to his club meeting. He decided against going to lunch with the guys because he wouldn't be able to make the walk between the restaurant and the hobby store; just too painful for his back, knees, and feet. So we had a couple of hours to knock around before we needed to leave.

Some months back he was having painful problems with his legs. The rheumatologist told us at his April appointment that he had probably had something called a Baker's cyst that formed behind his knee that partially contributed to the problem that made it so tough for him to walk at Atomicon in March. When it burst this caused the terrible "popping" and excruciating pain he heard and felt when we went to the urologist one Friday, pain that didn't cease even when he lay down. The other problem appeared to be his home office chair. It was suddenly very wobbly and he was pretty much working his knees and feet eight hours a day balancing in that chair when he teleworked.

We called the manufacturer (Serta) and they told him they could do nothing about getting him a new chair because we didn't have the receipt (it has a three-year guarantee). Who would have thought to keep a receipt for an office chair? However, the lady he spoke to was sympathetic. She asked what the chair was doing, and James explained how very wobbly it was. She said most of the time a wobbly chair is caused by the plate at the bottom (the one that fastens the wheels and the upright with the pneumatic tube to the chair) that has cracked. She took down our address and said she would send us a new plate free of charge. This was in April. We never saw the plate and figured she'd gotten our address wrong.

Thursday when I was still looking for the missing DVD cases a box turned up on our doorstep for James. Inside was the errant metal plate.

So that's what we did this morning: take the old plate off and put the new one on, which was harder than we reckoned because the pneumatic tube was stuck fast in the hole in the original plate. We had to take turns beating the old plate off the tube with a hammer. And sure enough it was cracked. And sure enough when we put the new one on the chair had quit wobbling. So now it's back upstairs and the cracked plate is in the trash.

[Postscript, June 12: Oh, this is too funny. "Dingdong!" said the doorbell today. At the door was a package. Another metal plate from Serta! I put it away in the laundry room in case the plate breaks again.]

It was raining pitchforks and little fishes when I drove James up to Hobbytown a little after noon and deposited him as close as possible to the door. (I did not, however, park as closely as the inconsiderate dude we passed as we cruised by Bed, Bath & Beyond. The one at Town Center has a big overhang and some guy had parked his big long SUV under the overhang, completely blocking the front door of the store and the sidewalk, so he could load something into it without getting wet. Sheesh.) Then I went on to Whole Foods, as James was looking for more Hippeas (they are basically low-salt Cheetos made with garbanzo beans). Publix is always out of them and only carries three of the five flavors. I found the barbecue and the sriracha on a top shelf, of course over my head. A tall gentleman kindly helped me out. I also got some barbecue-flavor pretzels and turkey wild rice soup which we later had for supper.

From there I went to the library and read Marie Kondo's Spark Joy until James called me to come pick him up. We came home by Lidl for me to get bread, which I enjoyed with the soup, which was quite good! And by then the rain had let up, so we could ride with the windows down. (Lidl, however, had been a mess: the lines were all backed up, and there was only one self-serve register open out of four and that was misbehaving.)

Watched two more episodes of Good Omens tonight. I am not in raptures about it like some folks are (but then I've never been able to make it through a Terry Pratchett book, either), but it is fun; and I love the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley. Also love the fact that the Hellhound is now a cute terrier dog. Having peeked in the book at Barnes & Noble yesterday, it sounds as if the adaptation sticks pretty closely to the book, but that is certainly because Neil Gaiman has done it.

Oh, yeah...the box of DVD cases that I reordered yesterday was nestled before the front door when we got home. Still wonder what delayed the first so radically.

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» Friday, June 07, 2019
Rain, Forgotten Items, and Missing DVD Cases

Another late night, another somnolent night's sleep. When Tucker and I emerged for our walk this morning, it was grey overcast, not hot, but uncomfortably sticky. We encountered another person walking around the neighborhood taking some exercise as well as ourselves, but otherwise it was quite quiet this morning. Even Tucker's bete noires the cats were undercover.

We ventured out before noon to end up back at Costco, but this time just for gasoline, and then next visited the new Hobby Lobby. We weren't there for anything special, but I bought a couple of the plastic totes to use in James' truck for shopping, and we found a cute resin sleeping dragon for half price. There are even more fall items out, and the Christmas crafting items, like blank ornaments and decorated papers, are starting to appear. I found something I had wanted to buy for a friend when she retired, but couldn't afford, on a really nice discount, so I picked that up as well. All their wall decorations were on sale, and we wandered through them noting how many themes you could use in a room: superheroes, baseball, football, Western, military...they had hooks, switchplates, plaques, etc. James ended up buying one can of a new kind of spray paint for his models; it's apparently safe to use on plastics, dries quickly, and is made from sugar cane!

Then it was time for lunch, and this time we were going out for a decent meal (yes, we're looking at you, Burger King): West Cobb Diner. We both had the turkey and dressing, and I had mine with cucumber/tomato salad and James had corn and beans. Came home with leftovers to boot.

Our final stop was at Publix to pick up the stuff we'd forgotten yesterday: eggs, chow mein noodles, and Miracle Whip. The clouds had been thickening and darkening all morning, then the sky had cleared a little and there had been sun, but now they were back, boiling up on every horizon, clear thunderheads off in one direction, looking as if they were rising out of the roof of Target. By the time we got out of Publix, clouds were spitting water steadily, so we covered up the power chair and beat feet for home. Got the chair in the garage just as it started to rain in earnest; James got a trifle damp getting the ramp up.

Spent the latter part of the afternoon watching a British comedy on Acorn TV that Patti Taylor had mentioned, All in Good Faith. I hadn't heard of it before. Richard Briers plays country pastor Philip Lambe, who feels he is no longer challenged spiritually and wants to start fresh in an inner-city church. Barbara Ferris is his wife Emma, who loves the snug country parsonage and the small town they're in. They have two kids, Miranda, a teen, and Peter, who has a pet tortoise and loves computer games. The congregation includes the insufferable Major, who, frankly, would have driven me away from that parish long before. Not as funny as The Good Life, but humorous and charming. We watched the entire first series (six episodes) before and while we ate supper.

Then I hit pay dirt: a lovely three-part series called Vintage Roads Great and Small, which starred Peter Davison and Christopher Timothy, old friends since they did All Creatures Great and Small forty years ago. In three 45-minute shows, they tour Great Britain (Scottish highlands, London to Land End's, Cardiff to Snowdonia in Wales) via what we in the U.S. would call "blue highways," the old two-lane roads, in a vintage Morris 4-4 roadster from the 1930s. It was a delightful combination of two old friends chaffing each other, stunning scenery, encounters with vintage motor vehicles, and even an awww-moment reunion between Timothy and his old friend Ted in Timothy's home town of Bala, Wales. Watched this for the evening, totally enchanted.

Today also marked the end of the saga of the DVD cases. Last Saturday I ordered DVD cases for the Lassie DVDs I bought. Amazon guaranteed they'd be delivered on Sunday. Personally, I didn't care. Well, they didn't turn up on Sunday, although according to Amazon tracking they had arrived in Smyrna at 9:20 a.m. that morning. But I expected them Monday. No Monday. No Tuesday either, so that evening I sat down and had a short chat with an Amazon rep, who said he would expedite them to be delivered on Thursday, and he gave me a $5 credit, which I promptly used to order the huge Kindle-only book about Perry Mason (covers all the novels, the movies, the comic books—did you know there were Perry Mason comic books? I didn't!—and of course the television series).

Anyway, no DVDs Thursday, and today when I went in to look at it, Amazon had canceled the order and was refunding my money. I have reordered them. We'll see if they come tomorrow.

Or I just may have started the cycle over again...

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» Thursday, June 06, 2019
Thursday at Costco (Again)

It is amazing how much better we sleep when we go to bed later. We are night owls for certain, happily inhabiting a twilight world and then flinching from light when we wake in the morning. (One of my favorite scenes in Auntie Mame is early in the movie after Patrick has arrived at his aunt's house, and, next morning, comes bouncing into the bedroom and opens up the curtains. Mame blinks at the glare and comments "Child, how do you see with all that light?") Last night we weren't in bed until after one and woke naturally and mostly alert after nine. Then time was reserved for breakfast and dog walking.

This weekend we expect to be thwarted by the weather, as the forecast for rain grows graver each day from yesterday. Today we did make it out fairly freely, although the air was sticky-humid.

This Thursday looked a lot like last Thursday, because we ended up going back to Costco because we needed acetaminophen for James' arthritis. He can no longer take ibuprofin or naproxen, and they have the largest bottle of the capsules at the most reasonable price. So we wandered through the books, picked up Splenda and a few other things besides the pain reliever, and then swung around to stop at Publix for the twofers, including more pork chops. Of course once we had perishables we had to go home and put them up, but in a little while we mounted up the power chair and tootled out to Dallas Highway.

We'd planned to have a quick lunch at Krystal—I love their little hot dog "pups"—and we could get a cheap lunch for $6. Alas, their computer was down, so they couldn't serve any food at all, which I found tiresomely stupid. Instead we went to Burger King, two storefronts down. That was a mistake; we should have taken the extra time to go across the street to Wendy's. The bun was dreadful—really, I don't criticize bread that often, but this was terrible!—and I threw most of it away and just ate the burger, and that tasted funny, too. Did they cook someone's cat? At least the French fries were good: crispy on the outside, meaty inside, and not overly salted.

The Barnes & Noble portion of the trip was successful, at least for me. James didn't have any books in his series coming out. I found a new classic Star Trek novel about how Kirk earned the captaincy of the Enterprise. I was going to get Don't Make Me Pull Over, which has just come out in paperback, until I discovered that the latest book of Harry Dresden universe short stories, Brief Cases, had also just come out in paperback. So I had a nice brace of fictional men to tote home along with the sweet one driving, and I had Harry Dresden to read for the rest of the night. (But I nearly spit out my food when he started talking about Burger King food being good! 😀 )

We are still planning to eat most of our daily large meals on weekends during the day, but today we broke that rule and had it for supper instead; on the way home from the bookstore we stopped at Dragon 168 for some welcome Chinese nosh. Pork fried rice for me, since they make it the proper way without peas and carrots. James loves their sa cha beef combo.

Later it was time for Perry Mason, but I pretty much had my nose stuck in the Dresden stories otherwise.

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» Saturday, June 01, 2019
Too Short, At Least Sweet

We have conclusively proved that a three-day weekend goes by just as quickly as a two-day one.

God, it was short.

Today we had another good sleep-in, a leisurely breakfast, the dog was walked (sadly I waited until the temps were up in the 70s; they were mid-60s when we got up), and then we ran a short errand: we went to Ollie's Discount Outlet. The tarp that James uses to cover the power chair if it rains blew out of the truck bed coming home from WHOlanta, so we needed to get another, and also another bungee cord to fasten it on, as he'd been using two smaller cords we usually use to secure gallons of milk in the truck bed. The old one rotted in the Georgia sun. I found a book about Gypsy Rose Lee and the Great Depression among the bargain books, and James, having finished Sea of Glory and really enjoying it, picked up another Nathaniel Philbrick book, Valiant Ambition.

We stopped briefly at Publix so I could run in and get the loaf of whole wheat bread we'd forgotten, and I found Mayfield Dairy had mini Brown Cows (ice cream bars) in a no-sugar-added variety. We will rotate these with the dark chocolate Oreos, peanut-butter filled chocolate Twinkies, and the dark chocolate Reese's cups for desserts.

Sadly, the weather wasn't quite as nice as yesterday. The 90s had disappeared yesterday, and although it was in the 80s, there was a very nice breeze and the sun didn't feel like it was burning through your skin when you walked under it. The breeze had died down today and the air felt a little close.

And that was the extent of our day. Farkled around on the computer. Watched the first part of Good Omens, which gave me several chuckles. Fell asleep on the sofa. We had a salad with chicken meat from the rotisserie chicken we bought on Thursday for supper with a Brown Cow each for dessert. Watched a Wheel of Fortune rerun and then decided James needed a pick-me-up and put on Strategic Air Command. I know how Jimmy Stewart feels at the end of this one, too.

My nicest surprise today came after the dog started barking this afternoon. It was the mailman delivering a very special package. You see, back when Nickelodeon was showing Lassie, I always regretted not keeping all the episodes, but it was just too much. The videotapes would have cost a fortune and I would have needed two VCRs to cut the commercials out of the episodes to keep. So I just kept my favorite episodes of both Jeff and Timmy, and eventually transferred the VHS tapes to DVD. Back then Lassie turned up regularly on the rerun circuit relatively intact. Now when it does the episodes have up to five minutes hacked out of them. Anyway, there's a gentleman online who recorded all the episodes, from the first one with Jeff to the very last Holden Ranch story, and I got the black and white episodes from him. (I never much cared for the forest ranger episodes, although the first four years with Corey Stuart were okay. I don't mind watching those episodes edited, though.) The channel he recorded them from pretty much has them uncut, although they still have the syndication titles on them. (For instance, the title cards changed at least four times when Timmy was on, but they only use the second version on the syndicated prints.) Alas, they got the same butchered version of the five-part color episode "The Journey" that we did. Too much to hope for. I'd love clean, uncut network copies.

So tomorrow begins James' workweek again, and also mine: towels need washing, medications need sorting, and I'm planning to cook some turkey and some chicken to put away for next week's meals.

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» Friday, May 31, 2019
Tripping the Aisles Fantastic

We have had a taste today of how things might work once James gets to retire—that is, if the tradewinds continue to blow favorably, as Captain Daniel Gregg might say. (I can't go out and walk the dog on warm summer evenings any longer without thinking of all those evenings I had to rush home from the hospital and walk the dog and put the fids to bed and then rush back.) Yesterday we did grocery shopping during the week (a chore I would eventually switch to Tuesdays as that seems to be the day the stores are least crowded, based on my last year's experience), and today we had the totally novel experience of going to Ikea during the week.

We didn't rush anywhere. Last night we went to bed when we were tired (about midnight), rather than having to hustle to bed early (before eleven!) so James can get up at 6:15 a.m. (an uncouth hour unless one is going somewhere interesting like on vacation), and got up a little after nine. I notice he sleeps so much better when we do this. Then we had breakfast, and I walked Tucker, and we headed for Ikea around 11:30. Noticed on the way there that Sam Flax, the art store, is back on Northside Drive, after having relocated on Peachtree Street for a while. I suspect the Buckhead rents did them in. Ironically, they are now in a building that is pretty much across the street from where they used to be (which is now a Goodwill).

I wasn't out to buy anything at Ikea—we just hadn't been in a while and I wanted to take some snapshots for Alice of clever storage items, as she's having a bathroom remodel. But since you never know what you will find there, James did buy a little reading lamp to clamp on the side of the bed, as the one he has there now is large and awkward. Otherwise he rolled and I walked (the path through Ikea is one and a half miles, according to my Fitbit) looking at goodies. On the way out I bought ginger cookies. Ikea's are the best and I haven't had any since last fall.

We didn't eat there, as frankly my tolerance for Swedish meatballs isn't all that much, but were going on to West Cobb Diner. We haven't had their turkey dinner in three forevers. One of the things we would like to start doing on James' days off (and days he teleworks) is to eat our largest meal in the afternoon rather than at night. (This has the added advantage that, if we go out to eat, it's actually cheaper.) However, since it was already two o'clock and traffic was building, it looked as if it would take some time to get from Northside Drive to Dallas Highway, and we were both pretty hungry. So we had personal pizzas at Uncle Maddio's instead (ah, that exquisite crust!) and then finished the afternoon by shopping at Sprouts. They had steak on sale, and also their ginormous chicken legs for only 77 cents a pound.

We also got some chicken noodle soup at Sprouts and has a small portion of it for a light supper. It had an odd taste, not spoiled, but like someone had taken some of the clam juice from the clam chowder and slipped it into the chicken. So...not yum.

Ended up the evening watching some of the backlog of This Old House.

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» Thursday, May 30, 2019
The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...
...the sun is going in and out of the high clouds, and occasionally the trees toss, but there is no sign of rain on the horizon. After a rainy winter, it is suddenly extremely hot, especially the last few days when it has been up in the 90s. Even though I stay out of the sun as much as possible, I have not felt well the past couple of weeks, with digestive and other ailments. At least I am not as bad as last week, where, in turn, I had a stiff, painful neck, followed by a toothache and a fever, and then just general tiredness after the pain went away. Summer always messes my physiology up.

I am thinking...
...that it is still strange to be on James' new schedule. As I had mentioned, he is now working 10-hour days Sunday through Wednesday. This is the first time he's had to work a weekend day in quite some years. The worst part of the schedule is eating supper so late. The food comes back up on me despite a daily dose of pantoprazole. When James teleworks we do eat dinner in the afternoon and just have a light meal when he gets off, but we can't do that the other three days. (He could eat a big hot lunch at the lunch counter at work, but that would be expensive, and restaurant food is usually too salty for him.) This is actually the first week he has had a "normal" new schedule: the first week he had a mole removed on Thursday, and last week he had the stitches out from that surgery. We are planning to use Thursday mornings for grocery shopping; this will keep us out of supermarkets and shopping clubs on busy Saturdays and Friday nights.

I am thankful... was a "normal" Thursday instead of a surgical one! It just would have been better if it were cooler!

In the kitchen...
...the rest of a rotisserie chicken is ready to be put away. We ate the wings, legs, and thighs for dinner. We'll use the breast meat with some mixed greens, orange cups, sliced almonds, and chow mein noodles on Sunday for a dinner salad.

I am wearing... and purple and white tiny flowered print tank top and aqua shorts, and white socks. It's the only costume for weather this hot, even under air conditioning.

I am creating...
...cleanliness! Tucker got a much-needed bath today; I have been brushing him since the last one, but his fur was just getting too greasy and he was always rolling over on the carpet to rub himself against it. All I did was run my fingers through his coat to rub the soap against his skin, and then again to help rinse it off, and hair just came off tangled within them, a big chunk that glommed together into a shape bigger than Snowy. (After I walked Tucker, I brushed him as well and got two big wads of fur off with the slicker brush. All winter coat! No wonder he was so itchy!) Now I am washing the towels and his bedding. Tonight he will go to bed in a nice tidy crate.

I am going... have to stiffen my resolve about two unfinished projects: checking all the lights on the Christmas tree (a bunch of them are out, so I have bought a big bag of replacements) and tidying up the garage. What's left to do in the garage are the shelves of tools, nails, screws, etc.—in other words, the hardest part to keep tidy! Some stuff needs to go, and the rest has to be sorted.

I am wondering...
...pessimistically about the results of these later suppers. It is going to play hob with our weights, because who wants to exercise after eating dinner at practically eight o'clock (James doesn't get home until 7:40 now)? If we could both walk, it would be different, but he can't, and during the summer it's still over 80 degrees outside even after dark. Who wants to exercise in that muck?

I am reading...
...The Farmer's Son by John Connell, about a college-educated Irishman who comes home to help run the family farm (cows and sheep). It's very James Herriott-like and I love the narrative.

I am hoping...
...the weatherman is correct and it will at least go down into the 80s. 90s in May is appalling.

I am looking forward to...
...Hair Day, which has been changed to the 15th, so that James can actually go to his meeting, too, this month, and a book sale at Half-Priced Books.

I am learning... to properly give Tucker a bath in the tub. The price on the "dog wash" went up, and I have knee pads now, so I am trying it. I learned from last time and had the bathroom better prepped; I still ended up sopping wet. But Tucker is clean, and seemed very happy about it afterward, although he sits there and looks pathetic during the process.

Around the house...
...alas, James has dozed off again. Tucker is in his cave under the dining room table, and Snowy tweedles to his "girlfriend" toy occasionally. The news is on.

I am pondering... to stay awake in the afternoons after I finish chores. I'm having to get up early to take Tucker on his long walk in the mornings and it really starts to show by afternoon. Yesterday I only dozed on the sofa, but I think it's what's hurting my neck. On Tuesday, when I actually sacked out on the bed, my neck felt okay, but I had horrendous dreams.

A favorite quote for today...
This has been a favorite since I heard it on All Creatures Great and Small so long ago:
"Heat, ma am! It was so dreadful here that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones." . . . . . Sydney Smith

One of my favorite things...
I was watching it this afternoon: a syndicated courtroom show called Caught in Providence which is mostly traffic court. The judge, Frank Caprio, is what my mother would have termed "a hot sketch" and loves to invite kids up at the bench with him, and runs a relaxed, amusing courtroom.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Maybe a trip to Ikea.

A peek into my day...
A wet dog from a previous bathing session. Poor baby thinks he's been drowned.

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



» Sunday, May 19, 2019
Time Moves Forward (And Does Not Tarry With Yesterday)
We all travel in time, the saying goes. We just travel forward and can't go back.

I'd had the time after WHOlanta pegged as quiet time, but it's been anything but—nothing really bad for us personally, thank God, but one unexpected and tragic event has happened and some interesting events have occurred.

On May 6, we heard that we lost our friend Claudia Barbour. James and I last saw Claudia at the Apple Annie craft show at the beginning of December. She was with a friend and we learned she was being treated for cancer. She told us things were going well, and we invited her to the Twelfth Night party, but she didn't come and we assumed it was because she was not feeling well due to the treatments. Evidently things did not "go well" after that December day. We remember her friendship and the fun we had launching model rockets in her horse pasture, her smile and the twinkle in her eyes.

I am continuing to try to walk more, not just for exercise, but to help my vitamin D, which is in the tank. I'm at an age where I need to worry about bone density. Tramping the same mile and a half route out of the development and back in does become monotonous, but I have been listening to podcasts ("Happier" with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft at present, until I catch up) while I do, and trying to observe what nature can be observed on a suburban street, which included having a good look and sniff at Chinese privet and honeysuckle blossoms. (I wish they made perfume that smelled like the privet! I would buy it!)

Most of the time I am amused by the birds. One morning Tucker and I were buzzed by a swallow at least four times. Since we just walked up and down the street a couple of times that day since I was keeping an eye out for the A/C guy and we were nowhere near someplace that could be a nesting site, I'm assuming this is a dashing young swallow enjoying his wings and his ability to turn on a dime. A avian Eddie Rickenbacker, as it were. One morning as we approached the daycare center down on the main road, which has a big lawn to the left of the structure, we saw a funny bird territorial dispute. There was a robin hunting worms there and apparently a male cardinal had the temerity to try and hunt a meal there, too. The robin kept chasing him off—they did that fluttering circling around each other and hissing birds do when they fight--and still the cardinal kept coming back! He only flew off a few yards when Tucker and I finally reached the driveway.

The following morning a male bluebird was perched on one of the mailboxes and I don't think I was more than two yards away from him. To my surprise instead of flying away, he flew to the sidewalk directly in front of me and pecked at something for a minute, so I could admire his lovely blue wings. I even had a close encounter with a silver spotted skipper (a type of small butterfly) who was perched on a mailbox post one morning. I stopped to admire the dark wings with the orange spots on the top and the broad white stripe under the wings, and, on a whim, held out my forefinger to it as you might to a pet bird. To my surprise it stepped up on my finger and actually let me carry it a few driveways before it fluttered off on its way. What a magical experience.

And once in a while something cute happens: one morning as we meandered toward the stop sign on Sandtown Road, walking toward us was a man with a tiny little girl. I think she was only about twice Tucker's height, and you could hear her chattering for quite a distance. As we grew closer, she saw Tucker and started repeating "Doggie! Doggie!" and the dad (I guess) asked if she could pet Tucker because "She has a cat, but wants a dog." I said "Sure, if he can quit sniffing at whatever he's sniffing at!" Would you believe Tucker was so absorbed in whatever he was trailing he had hardly noticed they were there and looked surprised when she tried to pet him? He loses track of everything when he's trailing a scent. 😊

More prosaically, the aforementioned HVAC guy did arrive to do his semiannual check. We didn't need a filter replacement at the time, so the filter I ordered is back in the garage until autumn.

I was happy to finally receive George Winston's a new album this month, as he has been undergoing cancer treatment and not done one for quite a while. I've had it on pre-order since I heard it was being released. I have to be honest; his new albums are not as good as his old—not his piano playing itself, that is as lovely as ever, but in what music he is playing. This may be due to his health, or just his own changing tastes. I'm not really into The Doors, and while I love his Vince Guaraldi tributes, I prefer his own compositions.

To temper the sad news about Claudia, we also were able to celebrate Lin Butler's retirement at Longhorn on the 10th. Good food, good friends, good chat, and a cake; you can't ask for anything better.

In routine news, I've done some spring cleaning of the master bedroom (oh, that ceiling fan! not to mention the one in the living room) and did the saddest spring task, washing and drying and putting away all the jackets, hats, gloves, and scarves. Once again we barely had a spring, but went almost directly from chill at night and nice days to 80s and, starting next week, 90s! Of course it was open window weather when the pine pollen was at its worst, so we lost over two weeks of fresh air for not wanting yellow dust all over the house.

The best television news so far: The Orville has been renewed by Fox. This has been the best season! It's still a weird show sometimes, but it gets more and more thought-provoking each week. And, in what could have been sad news, this month we also bid farewell to The Big Bang Theory after twelve seasons. James and I didn't watch this series at first; it sounded dumb. But at one of the conventions we were going back and forth to the con suite, and one time we had an hour or two between panels, and it was playing constantly on the television. After the convention we started watching the reruns on two different channels and the first run episodes on the network, and we eventually started collecting the DVDs. So this will be our final year of the tradition of buying the DVD set at Best Buy on Black Friday! It was a fun, fuzzy ending: Sheldon finally realized what he had, Leonard got to tell him off, we finally saw the Wolowitz kids, Amy got a new look and enjoyed it, and Sheldon and Amy did indeed get a Nobel Prize. They also tied it in with the end of the season finale of Young Sheldon, where ten-year-old Sheldon is listening to a shortwave broadcast of the Nobel Prize awards all alone, not knowing his future friends (shown as kids) are "somewhere out there." Later they did a wrap-up special. All very satisfactory. I will miss Big Bang, but I'm not absolutely heartbroken over its end. It's a good place to leave it. Better it goes now before someone does a Castle to it.

The big news in the last week has been James' new work schedule. Several people have left and there was not enough coverage on weekends. Alas, after so many years of being free of it, James is relegated to working one weekend day again. He chose Sunday since this will leave Saturday free for his club meeting and also for Hair Day. He also is working four 10-hour days, so his schedule is now Sunday through Wednesday. We have just begun the second week and hope to provide a little more routine to the new schedule, as last week was rather unsettled. The big event last week was James' second MOHS surgery on Thursday. He had another small basal cell cancer mole removed from near his left ear. The procedure took only two hours and then we were home with him having to ice the site every two hours. We followed all the instructions—although I almost went spare when we couldn't find the polysporin (we aren't allowed to use Neosporin), but finally remembered it was in the suitcase because we had to take it with us when we went to Atomicon—and it looks as if it is healing nicely, at least as far as "Nurse Linda" can see.

The only problem with the new schedule is that we are not eating until 7:30-8:00. This is going to play hob with both our weights. It's already bugging my digestion. One afternoon when he teleworked we did eat dinner rather than supper and that "went down" (literally) better, but that's not going to work when he's in the office. My best hope is to either have something cooked right when he gets home at about 7:40 p.m. or if it's something he needs to cook have everything prepped when he walks in the door.

I can always walk two miles, but he can't walk at all. Guess I'd better get that exercise bicycle I bought a couple of days ago assembled and see if he can ride it.

Then there was the phone saga. Last week while he was teleworking, James dropped his phone as he has dozens of times before. Unfortunately this time it hit one of the legs of the laptop desk rather than the carpet. When he picked it up it was "bruised" with tiny flecks of purple at the bottom of the screen. As the day proceeded, so did the "bruise." By next morning the screen was almost totally purple-black and unusable except for answering phone calls, since James could just swipe up in the usual place to answer it. So that evening we found ourselves at Best Buy. He was particularly interested in the new, less expensive Pixel 3a, which has the headphone jack restored to it, and he needs the headphone jack since his home headphones have Bluetooth, but they don't stay on between calls, so he uses the wire instead for reliability. But despite all the publicity about the damn things on the review sites and on television, Best Buy didn't have any in stock and James needed one for Wednesday at work. He ended up with a Motorola G7, which has twice the storage memory, and the ability to load a microSD card. The camera apparently isn't as good as the Pixel, but, you know, if we want good pictures we do have real cameras.

I was quite envious, as I've made no secret that I've never been happy with the original Pixel we got back on Black Friday of 2016. It was too small (they were out of the XL size), it didn't do a lot of the things my old Droid Turbo did (I'd wanted the Droid Turbo 2, but the ads made the Pixel sound like the greatest thing since HD-TV), and I missed the Moto Voice feature. (I eventually named the phone "U.P." for "Useless Phone.") Plus right before WHOlanta it started eating battery out of nowhere; one night I barely got to the car to plug it in before it died. I'd take it off the charger, read Facebook (no video watching) for ten minutes, and it would go down fifteen percent. So Saturday while we were out I went and picked up another G7. Alas, the one feature of Moto Voice that I loved most, the fact that you could give it a passphrase rather than using "Okay, Google" to ask it a question, Motorola (actually Lenovo) has gotten rid of. Otherwise, it's quite nice. I did have a bobble loading my old podcast app. It was a free app, but limited in how many feeds you could download and had ads. So for $3 I bought the full version (unlimited feeds and no ads), which was a separate unlock app. Usually when you buy a new Android phone, if you have been backing up religiously to Google, all your apps will re-download onto the new phone if you give it permission to do so. When they all downloaded, the unlock app was not there. When I checked the Google store, it wasn't there either, and as I checked the app itself, I realized it hadn't been updated since 2015. So, orphan app.

I looked around for the best substitute and found Podbean. I'd downloaded it, added some feeds, made some playlists, but it was dreadfully awkward; you had to add to a playlist and then download as a separate function; MyPOD did this in one action if you set it up that way. And if you used the shortcut widget, whatever podcast you were in last automatically started to play. Very provoking, and I couldn't find anything in the settings to stop it. So on a whim I loaded up MyPOD on the phone anyway to see what would happen and it mostly still works, with no ads, and I can add all the feeds I had before (I just stuck the backup feed file on the phone and told it to import and everything was there). You can't sort by title properly anymore, and every time you open it it asks that you load the unlock app, but the feeds still download and the podcasts still play. So I'll use it until it doesn't work anymore and then go back and wrestle with Podbean again.

(I should be able to go into the file folder on the old phone and actually find the .apk file for the unlock app, but I haven't been able to manage that. I did it previously on an older Android phone. Not sure if they've taken away that ability or they've just hidden the files too well.)

[Update, May 20:  I decided there must be a solution to this problem, and I found it: an app called APK Extractor (yeah, go figure). I extracted the .apk folder from my old phone and saved it to Google Drive, then went to Google Drive and extracted it to my new phone. Viola, as Snagglepuss used to say.

I can see my mother giving me that look, cupping her right hand with the thumb and first three fingers joined and bobbing it at me, and calling me "Calabrese!" Makes me laugh and cry at the same time.]

And, as Walter Cronkite used to say, "That's the way it is."

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» Sunday, May 05, 2019
A Few More WHOlanta Photos

Alan Siler at Opening Ceremonies

Marc Scott Zicree and one of his most famous creations.

Janet Fielding once more.

Jon Davey, who played Cybermen and other costumed denizens of Doctor Who.

Edward Russell, who did marketing for Doctor Who.

Jason Haigh-Ellery from Big Finish Productions, who continue to do Doctor Who audio drama.

Louis Robinson, late of the BBC.

Robert Allsop, who did costuming and props on Doctor Who.

Kelly Yates, comic book artist, who has done several Who graphic novels.

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WHOlanta, Day 3

And here it is, the final day of the final WHOlanta. I can't tell you how I was looking forward to this convention while still dreading this day. Naturally we were quite bleary after yesterday's key adventure, but managed to eat and dogwalk and get on our way, and in reward we found a handicapped parking space right outside the door.

My first panel was about Victoria. It was a very small panel, so we got to chat amongst ourselves about the aspects of the series we enjoyed, and also why they had to finagle things to create drama (for instance, the subplot about Victoria's half-sister this season trying to undermine her relationship with Albert—the real Feodore and Victoria had a good relationship). I'm also wondering how they are going to resolve how nice Victoria is to Bertie in this series to how nasty she was to him in the future when he is older!

Mark Heffernan (right) at the Victoria panel.

Next attended the "Television Production" panel. This featured Louis Robinson, Matt Golden from RetroTV, Who alumni Edward Russell, Jason Haigh-Ellery, and Robert Allsopp, and Marc Scott Zicree. This panel basically boiled down to "when you're the producer, the buck stops here." Zicree talked about a show he worked on where filming could either stop or they could film something else that they had not planned, so they filmed the alternative items so to not stop production. Another time they needed another set, but the set designer quit. He and some of the other crew members took an existing set apart, rearranged the parts creatively, and created the two sets they needed. Another time a series on the next soundstage over was cancelled. By thinking quickly they were able to claim several parts of this series' sets and save themselves money.

One of the things they talked about was making decisions and that sometimes they had to be made immediately, with little time to think of the consequences. Matt Golden said something that stuck with me, and I wrote it down: "I would rather make a bad decision than no decision."

Matt Golden [left]
Marc Scott Zicree [left] and Louis Robinson talking.

Next James and I went to the EarthStation WHO podcast, where they were talking about everyone began watching Doctor Who. There was a gentleman in the room who just began watching last year while on a military assignment, and then there were folks like us who started watching in the 70s either with Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker. It was great hearing everyone's story. We even talked about the party we had for the TV movie premiere in 1996 (we took over a sports bar and watched on the big screen TV). This was recorded, so James and I may appear on the podcast.

As a bookend to Friday's "Why We Read," today was "Why We Write." I always liked the answer attributed to Samuel R. Delaney: "There are books I want to read that haven't been written yet, so I have to write them." Those characters in your head just want to come out!

Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion, moderated the next panel about The Twilight Zone and what a groundbreaking series it was. His book is pretty much the text on the television series. He talked about meeting Rod Serling's wife Carol and what a television pioneer he was. Also some brief discussion on the new series running on Amazon Prime (or Netflix, I forget which). Alice said of the ones aired so far, one was outstanding, the rest were okay.

Attended a very small "What's on Britbox and Acorn TV?" panel (Mark Heffernan at the table and five of us in the audience). There was one woman in the audience who did want to know which was best to get, so we discussed that: Acorn has more non-British series (Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian), but Britbox has more series, and they do have some British soaps shown "live" and other events live as well (I watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding on Britbox's live stream). We ended up discussing how hard it was to "cut the [cable] cord" because, as I have found out, once you get all the channels you want, you don't end up saving very much! (James had gone to a cord cutting panel while I was Victoria-ing.)

At four it was time for "The Great Big Doctor Who Panel," starring Janet Fielding and the rest of the guests, including Jon Davey, who's played a myriad of Cybermen and other baddies over the years; Jason Haigh-Ellery from Big Finish, who does Who audio adventures; Edward Russell, who did Who marketing; Robert Allsop, who did costuming and props for the show; and Kelly Yates, who did Who comics, plus Louis Robinson, who worked at the BBC while Who was on. The combined panel is usually a time for the guests to answer silly questions, so we enjoyed hearing about Janet's shoe expeditions!

The Great Big Doctor Who panel, with Janet Fielding on the hot seat.

And then came the dreaded end. The last hour of programming was a fantastic photo-and-video retrospective put together by Alan Siler, from the first event at the Elk's Club in Tucker to last year, and then at the end were special messages sent to him by previous guests. We saw videos from Domenic Glyn, Katy Manning, Sophie Aldred (and her dogs), and a lovely one from Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, filmed at the white cliffs of Dover by Sylvester McCoy!

At this point I started blubbering and didn't come up for air until Closing Ceremonies was over. Alan and Susan made farewell speeches, two young ladies sang a song for them, all the guests and track directors and other helpers came up and took their bows, and then as always there were prize drawings. I got lucky and won a program for this year's convention autographed by all the guests.

Alan bids his farewells.

Susan says her thanks.

We filed out of the room to find Lt. Moxie Magnus posing with people outside the TARDIS, so we took a turn ourselves. It cheered me up but little and I started crying on the way out again. Sue Phillips gave me a hug and we sang "Tipparary" (ala The Mary Tyler Moore Show), and then it was time to leave. All the miserable rain from yesterday had washed everything clean and we were able to drive home with the windows down. (Sadly, we also lost the tarp that goes over the power chair. It must not have been bound securely enough and flew out of the bed of the truck.)

Then it was home for real life again: walking the dog and Call the Midwife. It really has been fun. And I'd do it all again—even the Saturday I was sick in the bathroom of the Holiday Inn for three hours, and the last day of con in 2012 when the car battery died.

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» Saturday, May 04, 2019
WHOlanta, Day 2

It always happens.

We were up on time, had breakfast, and I walked the dog. We were all set to head to the hotel.

Except when we got down to the garage James couldn't find his keys. So I spent twenty minutes looking and never did find them, so we took the spare key. Did get to the hotel in time to see most of the British Empire panel, which was interesting because Louis Robinson was on the panel and his father worked for the British tram system in India. He was talking about how startling it was that the Indian officials grew "more British than the British," and would send their sons to British schools, and have tea and speak in twee British accents.

Next James and I went to the Q&A by RetroTV, who is still showing the classic episodes of Doctor Who. While they discussed Who a bit, they were promo-ing a new series they were doing for Retro's sister channel Heartland, The Unseen World, where they are traveling to unusual and unknown attractions. Since I'm currently reading the book Curious New England, this seemed to fit right in. I told them they should go to Mystery Hill in New Hampshire.

RetroTV panel: Matt Golden at far left and Alan Siler at far right

My next panel was "Quatermass and Early British Science Fiction." Louis was also on this panel and talking about the marvelous inventive series that popped up once in a while that are now lost because the tapes were erased. However, SF was few and far between due to low budgets and also the view of management that SF was for children and wasn't quite "adult." The television executives would, as the running gag of the panel went, rather mount another production of Pride and Prejudice.

Anthony Williams and Louis Robinson.

I went looking for James and discovered he was up in Clay and Maggi's room having lunch with them (yes, they carried their own food, too, although they had gone out for this meal), so I went up as well. Again, a great time chatting as we don't see them as much any longer.

Yesterday when we were talking out in the foyer area of the meeting rooms, Sue was looking for another person to be on a panel about science fiction on TV. This was me. So at two Sue, Alice, Aubrey and I did a panel! We talked about past and current science fiction on television, what were our favorites, and then contributions from the audience. This was fun.

Fellow panelists: Aubrey Spivey, Alice Spivey, Sue Phillips

I was set to attend "The State of Fandom in 2019," but didn't in the end, but instead sat chatting with friends until it was time for Janet Fielding. If you are not a Doctor Who fan, Janet played Tegan Jovanka, an "air stewardess," as they were known back then, with the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison). Tegan never failed to say what she thought, and her fannish description has always been "a mouth with legs." Janet was funny, charming, and also very opinionated, especially about her favorite subject: shopping. She'd enjoyed being in Atlanta early because she finds it difficult to find shoes small enough for her feet, and she'd found a great pair of running shoes! She also expressed displeasure for most of the Tegan costume choices on the series. :-) After Doctor Who she did some other acting, and like other Who actresses before her, became an agent for other actors. She delighted in teasing Peter Davison throughout the panel, but you could tell it was all in fun.

Janet Fielding

After a very short hour, went off to the young adult fiction panel. I'm glad to hear dystopia is passing us by—so depressing. Following was the panel I had been really looking forward to: "A Guided History of Atlanta Sci-Fi Conventions." This was a really fun and nostaglic panel, which went back to the 1970s way before I arrived here in Georgia to the conventions I remember: Dixie Trek (and its coverage on GPB), Fantasy Fair, Phoenixcon, the Doctor Who Exhibition, and lots more, including the 1981 Space: 1999 convention and even Weaponscon and the one MOC (Magnum Opus Con) that was held in Atlanta (alas, it was at the 1987 MOC in Columbus, GA, where Patrick Troughton died of a heart attack).

Atlanta Convention History panel (on the table is a quilt made from Ken Spivey's old con T-shirts)

We were sticking around for the "Fanfiction as Writing Training" panel, which I was really looking forward to, so we went to see an annual event, "Professor Satyre's Sci-Fried Sideshow," where Mike Langford does these wild mashups of television programs and old movies. We are sad to see that Mike's partner, our old friend Kim Holec, is now in a wheelchair, so that tempered some of our fun in the silly situations.

Really enjoyed the fanfiction panel, because Lee Martindale was on it, and she definitely does not believe in fanfic. She thinks you should create all your own characters, situations, etc. even as practice for writing. But we all started discussing fanfic and I think we kinda blew her mind, since we were talking about crossover fic, mpreg (male pregnancy), alternate universe stories, and real life character stories. Heck, they weren't considered fanfic, but I remember those "I met Donny Osmond [or Bobby Sherman or David Cassidy]" stories in "16 Magazine" and "Tiger Beat"! I didn't even get to mention that fanfiction goes back to Don Quixote sequels penned after the book was published, and Charlotte Brontë wrote real-life fanfiction about the Duke of Wellington! Also, many established novelists started out in fanfic, of course the lady who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey, which started out as a Twilight fanfiction, Naomi Novik, and even Peter David.

But we headed home very late and I had to rush to take Tucker outside before he burst. James was a little happier because he realized where he left his keys.

Except they weren't there. We knew they were in the house because he drove home last night and lowered the garage door via the opener on his keychain. So for an hour, as it went past midnight, we kept retracing the track of the keys. We looked everywhere. Finally I said that we couldn't keep it up; we needed to get to bed, and we started undressing. Then I said, "James, is there a pocket in your kilt?" (He wore his beautiful blue plaid kilt this weekend.) He said tiredly, "That one doesn't have pockets." I said, "I thought they all did."

Why, yes, they do. And there were the keys! I just don't see how he didn't hear them rattling around!

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» Friday, May 03, 2019
WHOlanta, Day 1

Today it was the usual refrain: James had to work. We'd already made sandwiches last night, so this morning was just for loading up the backpacks. We had some lunch, got gasoline, and then headed down for the airport; despite it being officially before rush hour, the traffic from our house to the intersection of I-20 was bumper-to-bumper. After that it was clear sailing, but we have to decide which is worse: stop-and-go traffic that is actually paying attention or the high-speed traffic where everyone is out to kill you. We were a little rattled by the time we got to the airport Hilton—but we did find a good parking space.

After registration, we bumped into the Spiveys and sat down to talk. They had the same complaint about the hotel that we did: the food is too expensive! The sports bar has the cheapest food, but it was terrible, expensive, and the service was bad. We never did see the prices on "good" restaurant, the Magnolia Grill, just the supposedly "moderately priced" Italian restaurant, where spaghetti and meatballs was $28! This offends the frugal part of my Italian soul to the limit. So they had sandwiches, and we had sandwiches, so we went up to their room to eat supper. This was fun! Clay and Maggi arrived while we were eating and came upstairs to talk as well.

Right before six we went downstairs for opening ceremonies. The guests this year included Janet Fielding, who played Tegan with with fourth and fifth Doctor (described fliply as "a mouth with legs"). Later we all went on to the first literary panel: "Why We Read." (Well, because it's not possible to do anything else. It's like breathing. And you can't live without breathing, can you?) 

Janet Fielding at Opening Ceremonies

Afterwards I went to the Doctor Who reboots panel, discussing which regeneration was the most significant . Surprised no one mentioned the original reboot: Patrick Troughton! Different actors had taken over a role before, but the difference in look was never acknowledged. This was the first time "regeneration" had happened and the change of face was acknowledged.

James and I took a turn around the dealer's room and then decided to leave early, since Saturday will be a long day. We are planning on staying very late.

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» Sunday, April 28, 2019
The Sunday Goes Whizzing By Again

After breakfast and dog walk, we were on a mission: we wanted to hit the bakery at Lidl, get cranberry juice at Aldi (where it's the least expensive), and then finally stop at Kroger for distilled water, no-salt mushrooms, and onions. No need to go driving from one location to the next: the handy-dandy "supermarket shopping mall" on Floyd Road would serve us well (there's a Lidl and an Aldi going out toward Mableton, and a Food Depot, a Publix, and a Kroger coming back).

Lidl was the first stop and we lucked out. While James was stocking up at the bakery (baguette, buns, cheese buns, and dessert cookies), I ran to the back and got two gallons of skim milk, a dark chocolate bar, and some chicken drumsticks for 79¢ a pound. On the way out we also found distilled water for ten cents cheaper than Kroger, inexpensive Vidalia onions, and...tada! cranberry juice at the same price as Aldi. We didn't bring the power chair (James just limped around leaning on the grocery cart), so this was a big plus: all we needed to do then, at Kroger, was to have me run in and get the mushrooms (and I also grabbed two cucumbers and some ramen noodles). That's my favorite kind of grocery shopping: fast!

We got home not long after one, and the rest of the afternoon went by at the speed of light: I put up the groceries, made a quick salami sandwich with one of the buns, washed towels, sorted both our pills for the week, and made the bed. While I was doing the latter, I got aggravated at how dusty the headboard of the bed is. I could dust the master bedroom once a week and the spare room once a year, and at the end of the year the master would still be dustier than the spare room. I think it's the C-PAP; our bedroom in the old house was the same. I cleaned that up, and also the top of the chifforobe and vacuumed the stuffed animals on it. When I put the vacuum cleaner up I was looking forward to sitting down for a while, only to discover it was time to start dinner!

Between dinner prep steps, I worked on a project: looking into cord-cutting options.Our Dish bill is ridiculous, and we don't even have any of the premium movie channels. (Nope, we're not following Game of Thrones.) So I made a list of the channels we watch most often in a WordPerfect document and turned the list into a table with columns of checkoff blocks next to each channel. Then I went one by one through the channel lists on each of the streaming services and checked off which plan had what channels. I listed both Sling plans (Orange and Blue), PlayStation Vue Core and Elite plans, two pertinent Hulu plans (base and with the "entertainment" option), a YouTube plan, and something called Fubo. It's crazy: Playstation Vue has the best single offering of channels but then doesn't carry the History Channel (which James wants for Forged in Fire). Sling Blue carries Discovery Channel (which we want for Alaska: the Last Frontier) and History Channel, but neither Sling plan has Cooking Channel (Good Eats repeats) and DIY (I love Rehab Addict and we both like Mike Holmes), nor Animal Planet, Smithsonian, and TCM. What would work for us best to get all the channels we like would be the Core PlayStation Vue plan and the base Hulu plan together—but that adds up to only $10 less than we pay Dish for our programming now with more channels. Plus while all of the plans but Sling have local channels, none of them carry PBS! I even checked the Dish Flex pack. That would be only $20 less than we pay now, and we'd lose a bunch of channels we love, like NatGeoWild, Science, DIY, and Cooking. If we could only get rid of those dozens of tiresome sports channels and the music channels we never listen to except at Christmas, and then not have to pay for them! They are more than half of our subscription!

We had the chicken drumsticks, of course, baked in cream of chicken with herbs soup and some plum balsamic vinegar. It gave the drumsticks a nice rich taste. James had his with rice and I had mine with baguette slices (in no universe would I choose rice over fresh French or Italian bread). Watched the news and then it was time for Call the Midwife, served with a Perry Mason chaser.

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» Saturday, April 27, 2019
The Whole Tooth

We had a full schedule planned this morning: we were going to get to the Jonquil Festival right at opening time so we could find a parking place at the library, then we would attempt a trip to Costco (a dangerous proposition on a Saturday), and then to Lidl. Unfortunately yesterday I bit down the wrong way on my bad molar. I went to bed with it feeling very tender and while it was okay when I woke up, I had to give it some TLC this morning, chew my oatmeal carefully, and then brought some Orajel with me when we left.

Alas, everyone else had the same idea about the Jonquil Festival: the close parking lots were full when we got there at opening time, so we had to park at the lot on the other side of the festival area. It was still cool when arrived, so the walk wasn't bad. We did a full walk-around of all the booths, bought some more blackberry honey and some sugar-free strawberry jam for James, and, irony of irony, he bought books and I didn't: Philbrick's Sea of Glory and a Barbara Tuchman book about the American Revolution. We saw a lot of nice things, including jewelry made by a sixteen year old girl (she's been doing this since she was eleven) that was very professional-looking. Sampled dips and a rum cake.

By the time we finished it was 11:30, so we had pork sandwiches from Williamson Barbecue for lunch. My tooth was starting to bother me, so pulled pork was the only thing I could manage. We sat in the shade at long folding tables up for that purpose. I noticed as we came down that one of the food trailers had elephant ears, and we were sitting across from that one as we ate. So I wasted $7 on one because the last time I had anything resembling a doughboy was 2015. Disappointing. It was overcooked until the dough was actually crispy and dark brown, and the lady had to smear some kind of syrup on it to get the sugar to stick on it. It cooked so long the dough was tough. Iggy's at Oakland Beach would be ashamed to serve such as a doughboy.

We made a quick trip home with our purchases and then went on to Costco; amazingly we were able to find a parking space right off. We picked up cheese and mandarin orange cups, which we needed, and also boneless skinless chicken thighs to turn into sandwich meat for WHOlanta, since the hotel restaurants are too expensive. We also picked up mandarin oranges "in peel" and found James' favorite "Hippeas" there again (puffs made from chickpeas). Still no skim milk, and they don't have Eggland eggs, so on the way home James parked at Publix and I ran in for eggs for his breakfast, yogurt, and Crystal Light. Alas, I forgot the distilled water, but we still need mushrooms, so Kroger is our fate tomorrow since they are the only place with no-salt added ones.

My tooth was throbbing by then, so we headed home without going to Lidl, and I left James to put away the groceries while I took three ibuprofin and liberally painted my tooth and gums with Ambesol, then crawled onto the futon for a long nap. Woke up over ninety minutes later feeling hungry and slightly dislocated. James cooked up some fine egg noodles and put them in chicken broth and I had that. A little later, I bit down hard on the tooth, saw stars, and since then it has felt better.

Spent the evening watching Rick Steves, Father Brown, and Britcoms.

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» Sunday, April 21, 2019
An Easter Weekend

Thursday's e-mail had delivered to me something I really needed: a Barnes & Noble coupon for the weekend. My old Samsung tablet gave up the ghost—the battery swelled up and was popping the screen right off—so I had picked up another, and needed a case to keep it in. I didn't want a big heavy one this time, but a kimono sleeve instead, and I had already gotten a Go Strap to hold the tablet itself while I read. So to do something different James and I went to the B&N in Buckhead. There were no books out in any of the series James was reading, so he picked up a British magazine devoted to the Apollo 11 moon landing. I got the kimono, and also found three treats: in the $5 clearance bin was an interesting-looking book about life hacks. Also, their hardback discount books, usually $7 or $8 each, were two for $10. So I finally bought myself a copy of Walden (I've never read it, and this copy is nicely illustrated) and also a book you can't escape reading about if you've read Victorian children's literature: Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, also nicely illustrated with classic illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Walter Paget, and Robert Bell.

Since Publix was closed for Easter, we had to brave it to finish the shopping on the way home from the bookstore. We stopped at the big East-West Connector store, hoping it would be less crowded. Fat chance! It was a mob scene in there. We were glad to get home and relax for a little while until we went to supper at Fried Tomato Buffet and then stopped at JoAnn to use some coupons on do-it-yourself trays (actually wooden picture frames with deep frames) to put on top of the new "toy" chest.

Stayed up late watching this and that, including the rest of "Visit to a Hostile Planet" on Lost in Space.

Easter was a very quiet day. We got up late, dawdled, and finally James went downstairs to work in his man cave. I sat down to watch the usual Easter things: first Rankin-Bass' Here Comes Peter Cottontail, my favorite of their Easter offerings. I remember that at a bad time in my life its song "The Puzzle of Life" helped me cope with what was going on.

Next I put on the Addie Mills story The Easter Promise. I've made no secret that I consider The House Without a Christmas Tree a small masterpiece and its sequel The Thanksgiving Treasure a worthy followup. I've always been more ambivalent about the final two. The Valentine special, Addie and the King of Hearts, is riddled with clichès and was only an hour as compared to the usual ninety minutes. It was the only time the book version of the story was superior to the media version. The Easter Promise is much better, but suffered compared to the first two in being the first of the two that were not filmed in Canada in countryside that looked very like 1940s Nebraska. Instead it was made on a soundstage and looked like it. I love Addie and have always watched the stories from her point of view. This time I was suddenly watching it from Constance's point of view and found I enjoyed it a little better that way.

I also watched It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, in which the funniest gag isn't watching Marcy ruin every batch of Easter eggs they buy, but the wonderfully funny scene near the beginning of the story where the kids walk into the department store and it's decorated for Christmas already, and the Lutheran TV special with Benji and his sheepdog Waldo, Easter Is.

We had a great Easter dinner: shrimp scampi over linguine, wit a cucumber salad.

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