Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.
Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net
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» Wednesday, October 31, 2007Goblins Everywhere...
...Hallowe'en arrives later than usual in Holiday Harbour.
I finally put together all those photos I took on my cell phone (since I forgot my camera every time) from the various October events like the Mistletoe Market and the Apple Festival into one album. They're here.
» Tuesday, October 30, 2007Cool Joys
It went down into the 30s last night; we shut all the other windows, but of course left them up in the bedroomwith the fans on low both last night and the night before it was delightful for sleeping, all cocooned under the comforter, and so hard to rouse oneself from the warm quilted cave this morning. I think the house temp stayed at 68°F all night; no heat needed. Wonderful to live in a structure that's been properly insulated. :-)
Bat's Breath!...but a Green Light Anyway
My shipment from Amazon arrived in a less than pristine state: details in Holiday Harbour.
The other sets I purchased were Rick Steves' Austria and the Alps, The Lost Prince, and the double Eleanor and Franklin set, since you can't buy White House Years seperately (gee, thanks, guys).
» Monday, October 29, 2007A New Experience
Ever eaten oatmeal or whipped yogurt with a fork?
Ever since someone stole my oatmeal bowl and one of the spoons from our silverware set out of the bathroom at work, I've been eating out of my mug using one of those heavy duty Wendy's chili spoons. Last Tuesday the spoon broke and I was going to bring in another one that James had stashed in the truck. I forgot. So I was "tine one on" this morning. :-)
» Sunday, October 28, 2007From Big Box to Little Booth
James' computer's power supply is sending up signals that it's about to die, so we went to Fry's this morning to get him another. We had our lunch there: cream of potato soup...yum...but no bread bowls. Oh, well. James also had a sandwich, since he hadn't had breakfast (I had a Slim Fast meal bar).
Since I am about to convert to a larger hard drive soon, I was about to once again back up the portion of the drive I use for storage to CD-ROM and then a conversation during chat this weekend came back to me. Instead I looked for a thumb drive. What I got was a jump drive less than two inches long and not even an inch wide that holds FOUR GIGABYTES. Good grief. It copied back the contents of that storage partition, about a gig and a half, in a couple of minutes. Wow.
We also had to stop at Kroger for the yogurt I forgot yesterday and after I had tested out the jump drive and we'd put up the yogurt, we went to the fall edition of the Smyrna Jonquil Festival. This is a small craft fair with some stage shows and those inflatable bouncing things for the kids, and of course a line of "carnival foods," all fried. We passed them by, but I did accept a sample of the pumpkin latte the Starbucks people were giving out. It was in such a small sample cup that I hope there wasn't enough of the caffeine to "get" me.
I bought one thing: the library was having a used book sale and I got a thick 1954 volume called American Science and Invention: A Pictorial History. It begins with the crafts and trades of colonial America and ends with the atom bomb and television. Too cool.
Another nice sunny dayenough for me to get the beginnings of sunburn on my facebut I had to change into short sleeves before we went to the Jonquil Festival. It wasn't hot, but it was too warm for hanging out in a black long-sleeved shirt!
» Saturday, October 27, 2007A Supper Surprise
When James got home from work (yes, it was another Saturday workday again), we were ambivalent about a dinner locationwe are tired of all the same places. So we decided to go to Ted's Montana Grill. They are expensive, but usually their blue plate special is reasonable.
Well, not tonight. But we didn't want to walk out, so James ordered a burger (their burgers are nine dollars but come with a salad and are huge) and I looked about for something cheap. They had chicken breast, which I consider inedible unless it's drowned in gravy (which kinda negates the reason for eating chicken breast in the first place), and, strangely enough, this low-cal dish came with French fries!
Then I noticed that as an appetizer they had "four gigantic grilled shrimp," so I asked for that with a baked potato on the side. The waiter looked at me a bit doubtfully. "It's only four shrimp," he said.
Wow, but what four shrimp! They weren't quite as large as the ones used for baked stuffed shrimp at the Inn, but it was close.
What a beautiful day! Not a cloud in the sky, which was like a bright blue bowl overhead, and only in the high 60s. On days like this I feel like reaching out and hugging the air. The sun did get a bit much during midafternoon, but there was a good breeze to make up for it.
I was a bit "high" this morning because I finally finished up a package I was sending to a friend in New Jersey :-) with a purchase and hurried home to wrap the rest of the gifts and bring everything to the post awful before they closed. The folks standing behind me helped me pick out the appropriately-sized box and very soon everything was off. I've been looking forward to sending the things for ages.
Threw in the towel because the porch decorations looked incomplete, so I bought a Hallowe'en flag with a Michaels coupon. I also found the most beautiful fall-ornamented plaque at Love Street:
"Having a place to go is called Home,
Having someone to love is Family;
Having both is a Blessing."
In addition, finally gave up on the lighthouse-themed towels in the hall bath. They are actually large dishtowels because there were no lighthouse-themed hand towels for a bath, but they have been getting sadly worn. Since the bath theme is lighthouse/seaside, I stopped at Linens'n'Things with my coupons and got a pair of towels that are sand-colored. I would have gotten sea blue, but was afraid they'd be confused with the same color towels in the master bath.
When I got home I had to complete an odious task: I realized early in the week the reason I couldn't tell if the bird feeder was full or empty was because the combination of two rainy days and the cayenne pepper we have to put into the feeder to deter the squirrels had created a thick moldy film on the lucite sides. The hot pepper suet had also molded. Ugh. So I scraped the wet gunk from the feeder, washed the lucite panels, and refilled it, then swapped out the moldy suit for fresh. Then I scrubbed my hands (I wore gloves, but...ugh) and brought the trash from the operation outside, bringing Willow with me for a walk. The moment I walked into the back yard, I heard an excited chirp and saw the white-breasted nuthatch perch, upside-down, of course, on the suit and call again, to be echoed by the same call from the trees. Another white-breasted nuthatch came flying down, a brown-headed nuthatch following, and also a chickadee. They must have been monitoring that feeder because I've been hearing them cheeping and chipping outside ever since!
I caught the series Travels and Traditions With Burt Woolf and wished I'd known it was on earlier so I could have recorded it: he did Christmas in Austria, from the Christkindlmarkets to dinner at a swanky Vienna restaurant to Christmas trees and crechés.
The only sour spot in the day was going out this morning and seeing pumpkin seeds and some rind strewn on the street. Our neighbors had two big pumpkins on their front porch steps and evidently last night some hoodlums came by to destroy them. I remember even back in the 1960s my dad would never buy pumpkins for the front steps because the boys would always come by and bust them open. But we were on the corner of a main street and near the junior high schoolit was a fact of life that the boys would destroy things left out, steal the Christmas bulbs, and jump our fence. We live on a dead-end street and this means someone deliberately had to come through to smash the pumpkins. :-(
» Wednesday, October 24, 2007Creepy...
Despite the fact that it would have tossed continuity aside, perhaps they should have saved the Torchwood episode "Countrycide" for next week. This had to be one of the creepiest things I've ever seen.
A Profitable Day
Phone call with a potential vendor, item advertised, another competed, the usual e-mails exchanged.
My order from Hamilton Books finally came: I got the making of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and also Welcome Books' Christmas Almanac, which has stories, trivia, and all matter of Christmas interest with nineteenth century scrapbook illustrations and vintage art.
The sun is just coming out, so I may have to rethink the lawn watering business. :-)
Oh, and I had the first of the apples that we brought home from Ellijay. ::drool:: Yum! Crispy, just tart enough...if only this type of apple turned up closer to home!
"Reunited...and It Feels So Good..."
According to our weather station, here it is after two and it still hasn't hit 60°F yet. It is still raining at the moment and is damp outside.
And I have the strangest feeling...
I have my well-worn WordPerfect sweatshirt on, the one Alice made for me, and a pair of sweatpants, and I'm having nice hot chicken caccitore leftovers for lunch.
I feel like singing! :-)
(The lawn people did a re-seed of our fescue yesterday. We have a permit allowing us to water for 20 minutes a day. Under these conditions I feel no compunction to comply. <g> As far as I'm concerned, it's God's job to water the lawn. We'll see what happens later in the week...)
» Tuesday, October 23, 2007Air You Wear
With the rain yesterday came another one of those dang warm fronts. By bedtime it was so sticky James closed all the windows and put us back on air.
Once I was out of the car this morning and then outside at lunch today, I'm glad he did. The air is like a heavy, sticky cloak about your shoulders, and not a featherweight gossamer cloak, either. It sits upon your shoulders like a hawk about to stoop.
The radar shows another line of thunderstorms marching toward Georgia and then hopefully we can go back to cool night temperatures again.
» Monday, October 22, 2007The Amazing Mysterious Sound!
As has happened so many times this summer, the weather forecast was for showers. Because it's happened so many times without fruition, we ignored it.
So I was surprised to emerge from the bedroom this morning and hear something uncannyit wasn't audible in the bedroom with two window fans and a C-PAP machine goingthe sound of water rapping on the gutters and gurgling down the spouts! As much as we needed it, the sound made me wince, since rain turns commuters into raving maniacs anyway and it was still pitch dark.
I was not disappointed, either. Rain should make people more careful. Instead they use the opportunity to display how many driving bad habits they have developed. God was with me as I accelerated getting on to the freeway, only to have to stop short to avoid the car in front of me: there was a car several lengths in front who had his flashers on and was going very slowly. Unfortunately the traffic left of me was going so quickly that there was almost no chance for me or the people around me to get around the disabled car and away from the exit-only ramp it was leading us to. Fortunately a gap emerged.
Erratic rainy-day driving seems to be epidemic everywhere. It just seems worse in Atlanta metro traffic.
» Sunday, October 21, 2007Sizzle
The sun's gotten to me. I have a raging headache and sinus pain. Annoying.
The ironic thing is that I'm always the one who usually remembers the suntan lotion and this morning we sallied out without it. Not that it would have helped the headache any, but my skin wouldn't be feeling so crisped.
My nose and cheeks are a bit pink, but there is actually no visible sign of sunburn. I just feel roasted.
Cacciatore, Country and More Country
Yesterday was "Hair Day" and it was our turn to provide the main dish.
About a month ago, knowing our turn was due, we came up with a "scathingly brilliant idea, " to quote Mary Clancy, which we promptly forgot in the morass of weekend work, end-of-fiscal-year, and assorted chores. Last Saturday we decided to make crock-pot chicken cacciatore and bought boneless skinless chicken thighs at Costco. Every night we would cook as much of the chicken as would fit into our crock pot in tomato-and-basil, no-sugar-added tomato sauce with an onion, a couple of small slices of green pepper, and a sprinkling of granulated garlic, and then put it up in plastic containers, so that yesterday at lunch all we had to do was decant it and warm it up. Someone else brought bread to "zoop" and we had the most delicious crab dip and a bacon-lettuce-and-tomato cheese ball provided by our hosts.
Afterwards we took our weekly trip to the hobby shop and also stopped at Book Nook. James got two books about aviation and I found a copy of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden. This book was very popular in the wake of the success of the series Upstairs, Downstairs in the mid-1970s. The author was an English countrywoman who lived on a large estate. She taught nature studies to girlsone of the few "ladylike" sciences acceptable to teach to women back thenand the Country Diary was originally written in 1906 as an example of the type of nature diary that she wanted her students to keep. The journal was "discovered" as the popularity of the British series brought a demand for Edwardian-themed programming and books, and printed in an exact facsimile in Edith Holden's own handwriting, with her meticulous watercolors of birds, birds' eggs, plants, leaves, and even paintings of the countryside. In the 70s there were Country Diary notebooks, journals, flower albums, diaries, photo albums, cookbooks, etc. until the craze ran itself out.
The book itself is a precious snapshot of times and flora and fauna gone by, with lovely watercolor portraits of different birds.
We were up early this morning to attend the Apple Festival in Ellijay, about sixty miles northeast of us. I had read about it in a flyer given out at one of the craft shows earlier this year. It is held for two weekends and because James had to work last weekend, we actually got the better of the two weekends to go: it was in the high forties this morning when we left at 8:30, but despite the fact that it got into the high seventies, it never got unbearable, except for the sun being relentlessly bright; even though there were mostly cool temperatures and we remembering our hats, we still were slightly sunburned. (James takes medication that makes him sensitive to sun and I've burned easily ever since the radioactive iodine treatments.)
We arrived promptly enough to get parking next to the Lions Club field where the festival was being held rather than having to take shuttle buses and spent an enjoyable three hours wandering over a hundred different craft booths. This one was a very nice mixture of crafts, clothing and other odds and ends; I got a few country-themed Christmas and Thanksgiving decorations, but the coolest thing I found were removable appliques. I have a lovely fall sweatshirt and a cute Hallowe'en sweatshirt, but I don't get to wear them very often because it's usually warm straight into November. These appliquesI got the fall pack with leaves, pumpkins, a turkey, a black cat, and a purple batwill stick to any shirt, long or short sleeved, then come off and stick to a different shirt. When the adhesive eventually starts to weaken, you can buy the glue to renew it at any craft shop.
We contributed to the Lions Club by purchasing lunch from them and to the Boy Scouts who were taking parking donations as well.
We also found another Christmas gift...yay!...and bought a bag of farm-fresh apples, Granny Smiths of course, before we left at one, just as the crowds were getting thick. There was one huge apple the size of a softball that we munched on all the way home.
» Friday, October 19, 2007A Picture of the Snowglobe...
The cold front's almost here. It's already crossed into the northwestern corner of Georgia, although it's only about three degrees cooler in Chattanooga right now. It continued to bring dark clouds this morning, but these scattered as noon came and passed, leaving the sky a brilliant blue dotted with "mackerel" clouds and cirrus clouds. It's so good to see cirrus clouds again!
I had realized looking at my fall magazine selections that I had not yet found the September/October issue of "Yankee," so I visited three bookstores in search of it, but was ultimately disappointed. I even went to the Books-a-Million in Acworth, since they seem to keep their magazines longer than other stores.
This is a both good and bad thing, because often I have been able to grab something I otherwise would have missed there, but their magazine section is a mess. I had looked forward to having a BAM nearby; the closest one before was in Jonesboro, and we have also gone to the ones in Warner Robins and Chattanooga. The coffee shop attached to BAM, J. Muggs, used to have a coffee shop/newsstand in Buckhead that carried all these magazines, but they closed. You can always find unusual or obscure magazines.
Frankly, while the staff at BAM in Acworth is great, their care of the magazine stand...sucks. The magazines are always untidy; I know people are inconsiderate and just shove the issues back any old way, but in the other stores there's always someone to neaten what these clods leave behind. This doesn't seem to happen in Acworth. In addition, the other stores always have the latest issues available. The Acworth store is woefully slack about this. I noticed the summer issue of "Vermont Life" still out when the fall issue has been out for almost two months. Their display issue of "TV Guide" is from September 18-23, 2007, with no newer issue available. And that's just what I noticed.
Dipped in and out of both Michaels and JoAnn for embroidery thread and glass Christmas suncatchers to paint for the front door. Michaels had a wreath made of peacock feathers that was quite striking. Plus I found a Christmas gift for someone! I also had success finally at finding a flannel sheet set at Linens'n'Things; they hadn't been out before now. I bought a twin set as we don't actually use them on the bedtoo warm. James will use the flat sheet as a coverlet for when it is cool and I'll use the fitted sheet on the sofa cushions to protect them from stains.
I made a stop at Home Goods since everyone on the "Christmas to the Max" group I am subscribed to has been raving about their holiday things. I saw several items I thought were cute, like a Scotty-dog Christmas teapot, but we really don't have room for it. I did buy a book about collecting Santa Claus figurines which was heavily discounted and a quite striking musical snowglobe. I have never seen one like it. The base is bright silver, like an old-fashioned chrome car bumper, and the Santa inside is of a more modern design, with a gold-rimmed red robe; he is holding a small Christmas tree and a swirling silvery list. His beard is also this silvery white color, and all the colors are quite brilliant with a metallic cast.
The one essential stop was at WalMart: we needed whole-wheat low carb tortillas again, and since I was there I also picked up yogurt, lunch meat, pineapple, etc. The big surprise was finding sweatshirts and sweatpants of good quality (Hanes and Fruit of the Loom) at good prices: $7 for the shirts and $5 for the pants.
Mistletoe Rides Again..
» Wednesday, October 17, 2007I Surrender
It's been warm for the last couple of nights and James and I toughed it out without the A/C, with the result that both of us have had about six or seven hours total sleep each in 48 hours. We have a warm front coming up from the Gulf of Mexico, which will be good news if it carries the rain its supposed to (the drought is now so bad they're talking about restaurants only providing water when people ask for it and when they reseed the Bermuda in the back yard next week, we will have a special notice to post allowing us to water the lawn), but it is unbearably sticky along with it. I just closed up the house again. It's supposed to break by later in the week. I hope so.
» Monday, October 15, 2007Say Cheese! Part 2
A few more new camera pics:
Portrait of Schuyler using the macro feature:
The Christmas things I bought at the Chattahoochee General Store (telephoto with flash):
The tree next door asserting that it really is fall (telephoto without flash):
The vase of Chinese lanterns and cattails on the hearth (done with the ISO low light setting):
» Sunday, October 14, 2007Say Cheese!
I've been thinking about a new camera for some time although I loved my Mavica when it first came out; Alice had one and I thought the concept was wonderful, especially in the one I eventually purchased, which could take MPEG movies. These MPEGS were tiny, but I still have cute little clips of Bandit making love to a chair (don't ask) and Willow as a young dog. And using floppy disks was so convenient!
But this was back in 1998 after my film camera, the wonderful Pentax which I had bought a super telephoto lens for, finally gave up the ghost. The shutter did not work properly even after I had it repaired and the standard lens had broken the day we went to see Intrepid in NYC. So the Mavica I purchased to replace it was nine this fall.
My main problem has been with the lens. A 3X zoom is simply not enough. I was constantly borrowing James' camera at DragonCon to make use of the 10X lens, but his Mavica with the 10X lens did not have the MPEG movie function. In the past few months I have also been having trouble with the camera function itself: focusing problems, and lately the battery telling me one minute that it had 120 minutes charge on it, then a second later telling me I was running out of battery life.
I also noticed that I was having to do a lot more editing of photos than I used to; the colors weren't exactly correct or were washed out.
Not to mention that the Mavica wasn't even a one megapixel resolution camera. When I wanted to send some snapshots to relatives, I would buy a disposable camera and have the pics developed. I wanted something I could print myself or take to Walgreens or CVS and have printed.
I had planned to wait until Black Friday to go hunting a new camera, but an opportunity presented itself today at Office Depot. I went looking at the camera itself, just working the buttons without looking at instructions, then came home and read some reviews of it. The majority of the reviews were excellent. Some people were looking for "more camera" and stated so. I was looking for basic things: did it break "right out of the box"? Were the higher functions difficult to learn? Did something not work properly? I was amused at a couple of the reviews. One person was concerned because he had taken some test photos and the battery appeared to have used quite a bit of its charge; he was concerned lest he have to take the battery charger with him on a vacation. Say what? You mean you don't take it with you? (It also seemed silly, as in the case of this camera, the charger is the size of a pack of cigarettes! It's not exactly hefty.) I charge my battery every night no matter how far I've run it down.
I also checked to see if the multicard reader I'd bought a couple of months ago accepted the memory card this camera used. Why, yes, it did.
So I have another Sony, a DSC-H7, and a 2GB memory card. According to the chart, at 8.1 megapixels, I can put at least 1000 photos on the card. Wow. I don't think I've taken 1000 pictures on any trip we've taken, even two weeks in New England on our honeymoon. At 640 Fine, I can take a 25 minute movie.
And the lens? It's 15X (it also has a digital zoom, but I've been warned about those), has a macro function, and, to add icing to the cake, it's a Zeiss lens. Mmmmn.
First pics (sorry that Schuyler isn't better; the camera tends to focus on the bars rather than her, so I did have to sharpen the pic a bitotherwise, other than size reduction, these are as they came out of the camera): James at his computer, Miss Willow looking at her "Daddy," and Miss Schuyler trying to figure out just what the heck that box is:
Ironically while I was out buying the camera my wireless mouse quit working. I thought it was the batteries, but it turns out it is the transmitter that sends signals to the mouse. What a pain.
» Thursday, October 11, 2007Cool, Man!
» Wednesday, October 10, 2007The Mom Song Sung to William Tell Overture
[falls out of chair laughing]
The Mom Song
Courtesy the "Christmas to the Max" Yahoo group.
Open Windows, Take 3
A cold front went through yesterday, and another is bearing down on us (the last time I looked at the weather map, it was just entering Chattanooga, an hour-and-a-half drive north). So the moment the sun went down the windows went up and the fans are going.
When I was finished with work for the day I got the vacuuming done and also finally did something about those damn wires for the surround speakers. We laid them out before Christmas, but they'd come loose and tangled, plus the ones near the television still looked like an untidy spider's nest. Much better!
Autumn Photos in Autumn Hollow
» Tuesday, October 09, 2007Thunder
Sounds like it's storming outside. Can't see a window where I sit.
Behind the storm is a cold front. Yay, front!
Not Doogie Howser
NameThatDisease.com - Test your disease knowledge
Linked from the House discussion site.
It's On the House
We'd been watching The War for the last two weeks so we have not seen any of the new House episodes yet. I taped them on the VCR in the spare room. (No, we don't have a TiVo. Or a DVR. I should have asked about one when I upgraded our satellite service, but I forgot. And yikes, they are charging us enough for the HD receiver every month!) Needless to say, the picture wasn't as good as we're used to.
(Is there just too much broadcast interference in this area? We are 18 miles from Atlanta, which, granted, is about 10 miles more than it was from Cranston to Providence, but can it make that much of a difference to a pair of rabbit ears? The transmitter for Channel 6 was in Seekonk and we used to get that clearly, too. But there is not one local station I can get clearly here using that old-fashioned method. The picture was terrible on all stations at the other house and it's still bad here: snowy, noise, wobbling picture, hissing, occasionally voices obliterated by a surge of noise. UHF channels in Boston, 48 miles away, came in more clearly on a bow tie than VHF channels tune in here. ???)
Anyway, the season opener and the followup episode were very enjoyable. The downward spiral they had last year and that entire misery-enducing subplot with Detective Tritter was rather depressing. Robert Sean Leonard got in some good ones in the "kidnapping of the guitar" sequencehilarious back-and-forth one-upsmanship in the endand last week's episode, beginning the arc about House hiring a new team, was funny as well as sobering. Dr. Cuddy must feel like a den mother at times rather than an administrator. Looking forward to tonight's episode.
» Monday, October 08, 2007A Stitch in Time...Creates Aggravation
I'd planned to not go out today, except perhaps to get some gasoline, and do some crafts, but have ended up starting and half completing a long-delayed sewing project. This started when I discovered one of the hems on James' trousers had come completely unstitched. Since I had all the equipment out anyway, including the ironing board and iron, I blithely went into the project knowing it would take me some time, since I don't have a sewing machine and must hand-stitch, but didn't think it would take three and a half hours! Not to mention only being half finished!
I stick to my assertion that I'd rather scrub the bathroom than sew! I don't know how people who quilt do it, in that crouched position for hours. Leaves my neck stiff and my bones aching. I stretched out by putting up some laundry.
I'm going to start the second half in a few minutes and do just enough that I can put up the iron and board. James is working on Saturday so perhaps I can force myself to sit down and finish it. Now that I know what I'm doing, it may go a little shorter.
» Sunday, October 07, 2007A Stitch in Time
If you're a cross-stitcher like me you have probably noticed DMC's "Color Variations" line. Instead of a straight varigated thread, which ranges in one color from dark to light and back again, the color variations line mixes several complementary colors. I've been buying the skeins one by one with coupons and still haven't a full complement of the original 24. Today I discovered an additional twelve have been released, including the lovely greys, "Stormy Sky," and brilliant blues and purples, "Northern Lights." I actually purchased "Desert Canyon," which looks more to me like autumn leaves. (There is an "Autumn Leaf" combination, but it's more yellow-green.)
Of course DMC actually does not give names to its colors, only numbers. The names are provided by others to give stitchers a better idea of the color they are working with.
Here's a stitching site that shows the different color variations threads, with the new ones on top: Stitching Bits and Bobs.
One Froggy Morning
We stopped for gas at BJs this morning and James said, "Look at the frog on the trash basket."
Sure enough, there was a little tree frog clinging to the side. I wondered what on earth he was doing there; James figured he probably had come there during the night to collect the bugs attracted to the fluorescent lights. The BJs lot sits on a hill bordered at that end by a stand of trees.
I'm not much of a frog person, but I did remember that their skin is supposed to be kept moist. It was getting hot and he was in the sun and would have to cross hot concrete to get back to the trees. But I have the usual girlish prejudice to touching frogs, so I got a small piece of paper, and touched it lightly with a corner just to determine if it was still alive.
It hopped straight on my right forearm. Okay, I squealedthen smiled at it, bemused. Its feet felt like those jellied rubber toys in spider shapes they have in dime stores around Hallowe'en. I walked to the edge of the grass and it turned to look at me as if it couldn't figure out this method of locomotion. Then I extended my arm downward and it hopped back into the grass.
» Saturday, October 06, 2007Traveling in Time
Today we drove east to a little town named "Social Circle" to attend their Friendship Festival. I've heard about Social Circle for years from several friends of mine; every so often they drive out there (it's a little over an hour's drive from us) to eat at a restaurant, the Blue Willow Inn, which serves authentic Southern country food and has been written up in travel guidebooks and restaurant guides.
We never did see it, however. We parked at the Methodist Church and walked up to the old storefronts where the craft portion of the festival was being held. These storefronts comprise one block and are original to the town. Today they are antique stores and other little shops, but we had fun imagining what the others must have been: probably, since this has always been a rural area, a feed-and-seed store and a harness shop, and then also a shoe store, maybe a millinery or haberdashery, clothing store, pharmacy.
But there is one store that is exactly where it has been for the past 87 years, the General Store. It opened in 1920 and is still family owned; I had wanted to see it since a story about it appeared in the newspaper a few months ago, sadly announcing that the store may not make another year. (Story here.)
You walk in and are immediately transported back in time. The tall shelves on the left that climb to the ceiling, the wood and glass display cases, the worn wooden floor, the chipped, scratched and battered counters. The place smells old, like a museum piece. In the rear are bins that may have held nails. The ceiling appears to be about 15 feet high and the rolling ladder used to access those lofty shelves appears to be originaland there is still merchandise on the shelves to be reached. Another stair on the opposite side goes up to a platformed area. Under this platform sat a wooden display case for J.P. Coats thread; the top opened and then drawers below. The dry goods store from which I bought my gym suits in junior high had similar antique thread cases. Wide, wooden-framed doors at the side could be opened in the summer to air the facility. You could walk the aisles and imagine the people who'd walked through over the years: dirt-poor farmers, flappers, housewives clutching lists of provisions, soldiers coming home from World War II, kids clutching a precious penny for a Tootsie Roll. The walls saw tin Coca-Cola ads, placards for revivals and church suppers, instructions for rationing coupons, notices of sales and dress goods just in.
Here's a photo of the store from, I think, a few years ago. It looked considerably worn at the heels today. Check out those display counters! I remember ones like those in a tiny little department store named Bunn's that used to be on Cranston Street.
Missed a chance to get a doughboy (fried dough). They were out. Haven't had one since we went to Iggy's after Mom's death.
We did pop in several of the antique shops. We found one place just full of dolls. You could take the stock in 100 Toys'R'Us stores and not have as many dolls as this place did. They were piled up to the ceiling: baby dolls, walking dolls, dolls of all colors and nationalities. There was one doll that was being carried by a woman that was about the size of a toddler and so realistic looking I had to stare a second time. I will wager most of these dolls are bought by adults. Do little girls even play with dolls anymore, except for Barbie and Bratz?
I turned a corner and found a small collection of Pocket Dragons. Normally, I only buy one a year, at DragonCon, but I spied a tiny one, sleeping in a flower blossom. Exquisite. Then I saw another, larger one piloting an airplane, complete in goggles and WWI aviator scarf. James' SCA name was "Dragonweyr," so it seemed an appropriate gift!
Social Circle is about fourteen miles east of Conyers, so after we had visited the booths and stores, we drove back to Conyers. We haven't been there in a year and in the meantime they had mowed down an enormous stand of trees and planted yet another shopping center. Coupons supplied some Christmas craft items at Michael's and at Hobby Lobby, then we visited the monastery. Of course we stopped a few minutes to pay our respects at the church. The interior is so lovely, with the stained glass panels on each aisle done in blues and purples. This lends a cool, ethereal look to the church proper. The stained glass in the altar area, however, is done in yellows and oranges, like the fire of God. Your eyes are drawn irresistibly to the bright light.
We had a funny encounter coming out of the sanctuary. There was a Japanese retreat group just finishing their session and they were taking a group photo on the stairs. The gentleman taking the photo asked me if I would take it so he could get into the picture. I had a bit of a bobble with the cameras as I didn't press down on the shutter button long enough the first time, but all was finally taken nicely.
By then James' blood sugar was beginning to flag, so we tried Smokey Bones for the first time. He had pulled pork and brisket of beef, but I stuck with the pulled pork. It was quite good, so moist and flavorful it didn't need barbecue sauce. The baked potato and the apples were quite good as well. I definitely would recommend the place.
Incidentally, the weather was pretty good today. It was overcast most of the time we were in Social Circle, with a slight breeze. The sun broke through a couple of times, but it was soon extinguished. Unfortunately it cleared up while we were in Conyers, so we had to use the A/C in the car for a while, but we drove there and back with open windows. Yesss!
We stopped at Hallmark on the way home to take advantage of the weekend specials, then returned home.
» Friday, October 05, 2007A Day "Aboot"
Apparently my body was thirsting for sleep, because it was a struggle even to get up at 10:30. It rained yesterday and was still raining this morning, although it had stopped by the time I left the house, and as much as I visualize all those little blades of grass reaching up gratefully, my shoulders still ache. I recall again this is how my mom woke up most of her later life and now it's my turn.
My main errand was to go to Trader Joe's today as we had been told the popcorn would be in on Wednesday. It wasn't there, nor was there a space for it. Damn. I got their "gourmet" white popcorn and it isn't bad, but even though it claims to be low salt it tastes saltier, the popcorn kernels are smaller, and they are not as sweet and tender as the other popcorn I had. :-(
I did get a lovely bunch of things at Michael's from the dollar bins: a small calendar for near my desk (I list paydays on it and what is paid on that payday), and three decorative soaps, some note cards, and five small cross-stitch kits, all with Mary Engelbreit designs.
Due to good coupons and a combination of Borders Bucks/credit card rewards, I got a Molly Murphy mystery at one Borders for 59¢ and a sale table copy of the New Yorker 75th Anniversary book of cartoons along with the new Thanksgiving Ideals at a second Borders for $2.59. I'm saving the last credit card reward coupon for next weekend, when there is a 30 percent off coupon rather than this week's 20, because Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is finally out in trade paper. Yahoo!
Incidentally, I had a laugh using what I call Borders' "magic TV." This is the computer where you can look up a book, movie, or CD and see if it is in store or at another store in the area. I looked up Christmas Ideals and it told me this year's volume was "not yet published."
This is amusing because I saw three copies of it at one of the Borders I shopped at.
I also stopped at a Hallmark store to find them putting out the remainder of this year's ornaments for the next phase in the ornament premiere. The winter garden pieces are out; I would like them for a display during January and February rather than for Christmas. They also had a great deal of Christmas merchandise for half price (probably last year's stock). I got two "old world" type Santas with scenes painted on the bottom of his robe, one with birdhouses (of course) and one carrying a lantern which had homes on it, plus a little winter sculpture of two chickadees on a tree branch.
» Thursday, October 04, 2007The 50th Anniversary of "The Space Age"
NASA's Sputnik Anniversary Site
The New York Times Retrospective on Sputnik
SputnikOne Man's Dream
Memories of Sputnik
And for something a little different, Leslie Fish's "Surprise!"
I don't remember Sputnik; I wasn't even two at the time. I remember newspaper coverage of Alan Shepard and hearing about Gus Grissom, but my first "live" experience with the space program was watching John Glenn on a television at school. After that I followed the space program with fascination.
"Junior's" First Adventures
No sooner do I hear from Rodney that they are finally releasing Young Indiana Jones to DVD (but sadly only in movie form, with "Old Indy," played by Remember WENN regular, the late George Hall, neatly excised), than what do I spot tonight on History International (also on the History Channel and History HD)...yep, Henry Jones Jr in the flesh (or should I say in the cathode ray?).
Of course the DVD will not have those excruciating commercials, banners, bugs and pop-ups for the next show...
(Meanwhile...grumble...when do we finally get a new series of This Old House?)
Oh. My. God.
Movies must always change, even if slightly, from the books they are based on. There is usually no way that everything imparted in a book can be placed in a 2-hour (more or less) movie.
On the other hand, there are movies that completely destroy the entire meaning and feeling of a book. I caught Fox's Green Grass of Wyoming a couple of weeks ago and was just as disappointed when I saw it the first time in the 1970s. Everything that made Mary O'Hara's sequel to My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead so absorbing and appealingKen McLaughlin's journey from boyhood to manhood, Carey Marsh's efforts to break with her domineering grandmother, Nell's experiences as a late-in-life mother of a little girlall are gone from the film.
And now they have taken Susan Cooper's quintessential British fantasy The Dark is Rising about a young British boy who must confront ancient evil into a CGI-fest of monsters with yet another sullen teenage American hero from a dysfunctional family. (Heaven deliver me from another dysfunctional family! Have all the movie producers in Hollywood had rotten childhoods?)
Here's an examination of the destruction in A Blog of Authors.
» Wednesday, October 03, 2007The Walk, The Mouse, and Other Things
It was overcast all day and I kept toying with the idea of opening the windows, but was reluctant to do so because the temps tonight were supposed to be in the high 60s.
It was only 76°F at lunch time, so I took the opportunity to take Willow and myself for a walk. By the time we got home, I was glad I hadn't opened the windows, since it was indeed in the 70s, but extremely humid.
I'd been working fine all morning with my new wireless mouse, and when we got back from our walk, I had ten minutes left for lunch. I figured I'd sit down and play a game of mini-golf in Webkinz, when suddenly my mouse started doing weird things. The mouse pointer would just skate to the top of the screen. I'd shake the mouse and it would react normally for a second, then do it again. This went on for about five minutes. I rebooted. The mouse was okay for about five minutes, then started it again.
Well, I paid $5 for the mouse and you do get what you pay for. I called James and asked if he would stop at MicroCenter on the way home and get me a little more expensive mouse. But things were slow at workwe don't have a budget yet so we can't issue any purchase ordersso I figured I would save him the trouble and just run out to Office Max or Staples and see if they had a good one. Then I would just work that much later.
As I was getting dressed, a thought occurred to me.
I changed the batteries in the mouse and now it works fine. Heh. The box said the batteries should last three to eight months, depending on use. I killed them in five days.
Anyway, I spent late afternoon before supper working on my Thanksgiving page, adding vintage postcards that I got in a clipart book and some Thanksgiving poems; also a post I wrote in "Holiday Harbour" last year about "A Boy's Thanksgiving Day" ("Over the River and Through the Woods") and "We Gather Together," the two classic Thanksgiving songs.
Wasn't paying much attention to TV, but while I was reading my new Reminisce I started flipping channels.
Boy, I wish I knew about this two weeks ago: HDNet is running Torchwood uncut, no commercial interruptions at all. But I've missed the pilot and Gwen's first day at work.
I know commercials pay the bills but I am getting increasingly disenchanted with commercial television. It was okay when they broke an hour show four times, just a couple of minutes at the time. Back when I was a kid there were only four or five minutes commercials in an hour. Then it was eight minutes of commercials in an hour (about the time Wild Wild West was broadcast). Then ten minutes in a hour at the time of The Waltons. Now an hour show is about 40 minutes. Plus we have ads streaming across the bottom of the screen, popup previews, and credits squished so you can't make out who played that familiar-looking guy with another ad roaring over the theme music. It's so fripping horrible when a dramatic scene is coming to a climax and some boobish Gilbert Gottfried clone with a screechy voice or big-boobed bimbo pops up to promote some new dingbat comedy or reality show. I don't even watch Doctor Who or Torchwood (or Monk) live anymore, and I'm probably going to start doing it with House, too. I just can't bear the noise.
» Monday, October 01, 2007Cause and Effect
It was another good night for sleeping last night, but, alas, we couldn't enjoy it: our neighbors snapped their rear floodlights on about 11 p.m. and left them on all night. One of the lights shines directly into our bedroom windows; no way we could have slept with the windows open and the fans on, since it's bright even with the shades all the way down and the (insulated) curtains closedsomeone with really good eyes could probably read in what light spills around the corners of the shades. Somewhere, somehow, I have to find dark shades. Are there any stores that sell roller shades besides Home Depot and Lowes that might have them in color? Penneys? Sears? I've found them onlinealmost forty dollars each, plus the postage, but I hate to do mail order if I can buy locally.
We were already "up in a heaval" before bedtime anyway: apparently Willow spottedor thought she spotteda fly in the house (it was probably the ladybug that got in last night) and retreated to the spare room where she hopped on the futon, which she knows is forbidden. She was so weirded out she would not come when either James or I called; he finally had to set her in his lap and make her stay while we shut off all the lights except the television to attract the "fly" while we waited for the weather report. This freaked poor Schuyler out so much she refused to go up to her swing and sleep and instead remained wide-eyed by her food and water dish.
If there's a fly in the house, the bright TV screen usually does the trick, but nothing was attracted. We finally left Willow behind her gate and she did then go in her crate to sleep as always.
Despite the fact that it's about 55°F right now, it is still 80 in my cubicle. Sigh.
And if I thought my wheel mouse at work was hard to push around after having bought an optical mouse, it's even worse now that I have a wireless mouse. It's like driving a car with no power steering. :-)