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» Sunday, December 11, 2011Linda's Birthday Surprise(s)
(And one of them was a dilly...)
So, when we last left our frazzled heroine, she was sleepy from decorating a Christmas tree. So Saturday she slept late, along with one quite deserving husband.
And then we tackled the outdoor lights.
As I've mentioned, I love Christmas lights. One of my cherished memories of Christmases as a child was "going for a ride" to see Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. I've forgotten dozens of gifts, but I remember those lights! White sparkle was lovely, but I reveled in rainbows and was never happier to see festoons upon swags of multicolor lights.
However, for me putting up Christmas lights ranks somewhere on Dante's Nine Rings of Hell.
Two (or a little bit more) hours later, everything was up. James was a bit frazzled, as he'd done one string of lights twice, and then had to take it down a third time after we discovered it was backwards—the male plug which had to be at the bottom of the column to connect to the extension cord which connected with the timer to light the whole kit and caboodle was somehow at the top. Plus he stabbed his finger at least once and left big streaks of blood on one of the columns. I finally shooed him off to his IPMS meeting, climbed the ladder fearfully to get rid of the blood streaks, and messed with one of the cords that went on the bushes right in front of the house. We had a string of lights that half died last year, and one string that worked last year was dead as a doornail this year. None of the bulbs looked loose or broken, so I tried replacing the fuses on the string that wasn't working. Nada.
The folks on my Christmas group swear by a gadget called a Lightkeeper Pro, which makes nonworking light strings work again. I thought I'd hit Home Depot to see if they had one, and get a couple more of the small timers while I was at it. Timers, yes, Lightkeeper, no. I should have gone on to Lowes, but I lost one of the nose pads on my eyeglasses and my nose was screaming in pain, so I came home instead, and fixed the half-on, half-off light string so that the working lights were on top of the bushes and the nonworking half was stuffed in the back of the bush.
Also, we never could get James' sparkly stars to work; not sure why, as they worked fine last year. :-(
I also put out the two wooden reindeer, Woody and Holly, and the decorative stakes (candy cane, reindeer, and welcome bell).
Besides, I was determined to work on the Christmas cards. I chose a design (I have several sets of cards), worked for a remarkably short time to get an excellent set of labels printed out (usually the laser ink affixes so poorly to the labels that I have to cover them with Scotch tape), then sat down with pens and stamps and labels. My goal was to do at least twenty of the forty cards, and that was accomplished. Then I got up and printed the newsletter off. This goes to folks who don't read my blog and/or Facebook, or don't read it regularly. After figuring out why the printer wouldn't print (there wasn't enough paper in it, apparently, to lift the paper to the feeder), and one minor bobble, I got some of them printed out (had to print some additional later) and went on with the card signing and stuffing.
Then James came home and asked if I was ready to go out.
Hmmm. I thought we were going to the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performance of "An Atlanta Christmas" Sunday, followed by dinner at the Colonnade (where we always go for dinner on my birthday). Okay...quick gear switch...cleaned up, got dressed, grabbed the camera and the tripod (it's so dark at the Academy Theatre I never get properly focused pictures), and off we went on a chill and frosty evening out to Buckhead, a big shiny full moon overhead bathing the world in silver.
The Colonnade was packed! It must have been a lot of groups or families getting together for dinner, because our wait for two people was only about fifteen minutes. There were even people in the bar area eating. Our waiter—who was absolutely super and so efficient we left him a good tip—said this was not normal for a Saturday and they were really surprised at the volume.
Of course I had the turkey and dressing...that was a foregone conclusion. James had pork loin. It was delicious as always, and by a few minutes after seven we were tooling on our way to the Academy Theatre. It routed us by Clifton Road and CDC's main campus...good Lord! I haven't been to Clifton in several years, since I had a a Green Training class; it's nearly unrecognizable even from then! They had a little piece on CDC's website about them having to tear down the original, historic Building 1 from the 1940s back when CDC was the Communicable Disease Center; it was just not salvageable, but I didn't envision how radical the change was. I could barely take it in. I couldn't even identify the "new" Building 16 that became the main building some years ago. The old buildings, connected by metal catwalks and stairways, are all gone.
The Academy Theatre was dark without, but warm within. This year's show relied on the more traditional, original sketches that Thomas Fuller wrote, including the World War I piece "O Tannenbaum," which is a tearjerker; the joyfully nostalgic "Davy Crockett and Me," the World War II-set "USO Christmas," and my perennial favorite about two lost souls who find each other, "Are You Lonely Tonight?" The Academy Theatre people also did two holiday-set skits, one about a theatre and its unusual ghost, and the second about a grieving man and a woman who simply wants to do a good deed. It was all lovely, and we had a nice chat with Caran afterwards, as well as meeting someone who has just gotten into Remember WENN fandom via Bill and Caran's copies.
A long drive home, but I was able to catch Jen on chat via my phone, continuing the conversation after we got home. Emma and Mike showed up later and we had a good long chat until 2 a.m., even though I promised myself I wouldn't stay up later than one. Missing absent friends as well.
James gave me my birthday gifts as well: Susan Waggoner's Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas, another in her line of nostalgic books taken from old magazines and craft books, and also a photo book called Remember the Forties.
The dog alarm went off at 9:45 this morning, so there was no sleeping in for us. Yes, even on my birthday, grocery shopping must be done! So after breakfast we went to the Whitlock Avenue Kroger, hoping they had one of their pork roasts. I asked at the deli and they said they make very few because people don't buy them. Are they mad? These are delicious!!!! We got a rotisserie chicken (and it did the usual number on me later; not sure how they prepare them, but I never have problems with chicken cooked at home, or from KFC, but supermarket rotisserie chicken gets me every time) and a few groceries that added up to a lot. Ah, well.
Once the groceries were put away, we could go out and have fun. We went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to get James a new frying pan and another Misto (the original is being used for olive oil; James wants one for sesame oil as well), then cut through the back to avoid the mall. Stopped at Dunkin Donuts since neither of us had lunch: had a grilled cheese sandwich and James a flatbread sandwich.
Then we went to Barnes & Noble, as we had both a 25 percent off coupon and a 20. I scoured the magazine stand for the last of the Christmas magazines, although I couldn't find the December British "Country Living." Amazingly, the December issue of "Blue Ridge Country" had the most gorgeous fall cover and photos inside...I had to buy it. I also got the new Monk novel and the new collection of Valdemar short stories
By then the cloud cover had crept over what had been a wisped blue sky and the sun was getting low. We stopped at Publix to get some bread for my lunch and a few twofers, then came home. We spent the night watching Christmassy things I'd recorded, followed by White House Christmas on HGTV.
Now, earlier last week, I'd reminded James he needed to get his truck inspected because our vehicle registration renewals and taxes were due on my birthday. He stopped after work and had it done. And then, between work and Christmas decorations, I'd completely forgotten about it until we were on the way home tonight! So once I had changed clothes, I sat down at the computer and did it online per usual. One disaster averted.
Good thing, I thought, I didn't have to renew my license this year. I hadn't received any reminder.
At least I thought we got reminders.
Wait a minute.
Yes, you guessed it, my driver's license expired today, too.
This is why I love the internet: I got online, found the proper website, and renewed my license online, then printed the receipt in case I needed it for corroboration.