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 yetanotherjournal (at) mindspring (dot) com

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» Monday, October 31, 2011
Some Tricks and Some Treats
I'd taken the day off today to finish the laundry and get things from the trip put away, and to rest up for Hallowe'en, which I find very tiring. It's fun when you dress up in a costume and go to a party, kinda dull when you have to sit on the stairs waiting to give out candy.

James ended up not going into work this morning. He's been feeling bad since Saturday, when he was nauseated after eating breakfast. It happened again yesterday, and during the day he deteriorated, getting stuffy and hoarse. So we ended up both sleeping in this morning, and then I did laundry, and more laundry.

Not much else going on. DSL had slowed to a crawl all day. We're supposed to get up to 5mb download speed and we had an average of .2 all day. It would have gone faster on dial-up. First tier support didn't even know about a DSL slowdown, but they gave me a number at third tier to call which confirmed a DSL problem. Nice teamwork, Earthlink. [eyes roll]

Had a yummy supper of lamb shanks with rice pilaf. I was already dressed in my candy outfit: the spiderweb "poncho" over James' purple shirt, with the spider pin in my hair and a purple spider on my hand. (Okay, the blue scuffs kinda ruined the effect, but I wanted to be comfy.) By the time it was 6:45, the first doorbell rang.

You know, this late Daylight Savings Time stuff is crap. Before it was dark before six and I kept the door open until eight; now I was stuck down there until 8:30—and some dimwit kids actually came by at 9:30 and pounded on the door even though the light was out. I guess parents don't give a damn where their little darlings are or that they have to go to school tomorrow.

Anyway, we had a bunch of cuties: several Spidermen, witches, fairies; only one Superman, some cute bugs and animals, the usual contingent of princesses, a very dapper cowboy, one girl who wasn't really in an Amy Pond costume but who had "Silence" tickmarks on her, pirates, one gypsy I think, and someone who looked like Tina Turner (or maybe it was Lady Gaga), two "Scream" people, and more, plus little Jack from across the street, who was dressed in a skeleton outfit.

The funniest costumes I saw weren't on the kids. One family came by with not only the kids in costume, but two stocky white bulldogs, one in a striped prisoner's outfit, and the other as a honeybee.

Quit in time to watch Scared Shrekless, followed by House and now Castle.

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Flourish

» Sunday, October 30, 2011
Back to the Routine
 
But first, sleeping late! Oh, sweet sleep, in one's own bed, on one's own feather pillows, with the window open, and the fan on...yes!

We took a long time at breakfast this morning, dawdling while watching Extreme Couponing and two Rocket City Rednecks. (Still have a Law & Order to catch up on.) James was feeling rather queasy and we didn't go out until he was a bit better.

Finally we went out to Hallmark (by way of Costco, where James bought me Colonel Roosevelt for our anniversary), to get the next little "Peanuts" quartet figure (Charlie Brown playing a saxophone). We walked around a little bit, got a small cinnamon stix serving from Cinnabon, and bought some new cooky sheets at Sears before going to Kroger and finishing the shopping for the week.

While we were away fall has certianly "fell." When we turned into the street yesterday, two towering trees at the perimeter of the neighborhood were bright gold, and the tree near what used to be the Robinsons' backyard was a brillant scarlet. From our deck we can see trees that are now more yellow or other colors than green.

We had bought a rotisserie pork roast from Kroger last week, intending to eat it the night before we left, but we had forgotten it and ate something else. So we had it tonight with yellow rice with veggie flakes in it. It's excellent, and we have another meal left.

I finally wrestled the Netflix connection into working (honestly, I always have to put the info in multiple times) and we are now watching the opening episode of season 5 of Waking the Dead. I love this show; it presumes that you have more than two brain cells to rub together and it's not above tossing unexpected images and overlapping dialog at you. This one opened with one of the cast members going to prison!

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» Saturday, October 29, 2011
The Big Finish
 
Wow, the car was covered with frost this morning!

Ironically, last night was the best night's sleep I had the entire trip, except for the Viagra-challenged dingbat who burned rubber and squealed by the motel in the wee hours of the morning. I expected to hear machine gun fire along with it.

We had breakfast in the little "Daybreak Center" at the Days Inn: two kinds of cereal, golden waffles, coffee, milk, orange juice, bagels, toast, some fruit. I was tremendously tired and only had a bowl of cereal and two pieces of toast. I've been jonesing for toast for weeks and satisfied it only in the past four days.

Next we packed up the car, which was ice cold. When it was full, James stayed in the room and I drove it around until there was warm air coming out of the vents, then we loaded Schuyler and Willow in.

Once the fog burned off—and boy, did we run into a big fog bank almost immediately—it was a nice ride. The temps never got above 60, so it was pleasant without being too frigid. Apparently the fog obscured every single one of the thoroughbred farms, because I don't remember seeing a one of them. We listened to a couple of more Agatha Raisins, then James took his turn to drive and we played Gaelic Storm. I drove the last leg in to more Agatha. Willow lay down to sleep a bit more today than yesterday, and Schuyler burst into volleys of chirps every time Agatha was out in the garden with birdsong in the background.

We saw some lovely autumn color in Tennessee in the Pine Mountain/Rarity/Elk Valley area, absolutely spectacular colors ranging from palest yellow to gold to orange to coral to scarlet and a few of the dark reds and purples. Very vivid yellows as always. It was quite nice, but we were tiring by that time and glad to see Knoxville and then skim by Chattanooga to arrive home about 4:30. We put the critters inside, emptied the car, and then went to Publix to get milk and something for supper. James was thinking of chicken, but our meals have been so carb-heavy this week that I persuaded him to have chicken and beef strips with our usual "summer salad" of greens, oranges, slivered almonds, and chow mein noodles. It was good, but gave me indigestion afterwards. Do you know I didn't have any indigestion while I was away?

Would that I could say the same about sleep-interrupted nights!

Rewatched the season premiere of Flying Wild Alaska because the television picture at the Days Inn was so poor, then the first two eps of the new season of This Old House, a special called The Real Story of Halloween, and finally a new veterinarian series on National Geographic, The Amazing Dr. Pol. Quite interesting...

...but quite enough for tonight.

James and I have been dragging all day, and Willow half asleep, but Schuyler was singing all through the night. That's our girl.

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» Friday, October 28, 2011
The Big Farewell (and, Briefly, a Big Lake)
 
Soooo tired.

The high-heels started up again this morning at seven, but I was already awake, and could hear when she took her shower, too. Next time at the Drury Inn, just a regular room. And I think Staybridge has nudged out Drury as favorite hotel. :-)

We had two problems this morning, one more critical than the other. The most urgent was keeping Skye warm. It was in the 30s outside. We also needed to do something with the Bronner's shopping bag.

Well, after we had breakfast and stuffed the car full, Schuyler was forthwith wrapped in both her flannel cage cover and her fleece one, left to load last. The Bronner's bag went next to the bird cage, secured to the seat back, only encroaching a little on Willow's space, but she refused to lie down until we were almost to our motel for the night and sat in the back seat with her eyes half closed unless we came to a stop.

We had a smooth trip through Detroit, ignoring the GPS' efforts to get us to go out of our way (very odd, since it routed us directly through Detroit coming in), and had a dandy, head-on view of the Ambassador Bridge as we came past it...and it is emblazoned "Ambassador Bridge," too, at the top of each tower.

On the way up we had passed something called "Luna Pier" that looked as if it were directly on Lake Erie. So we went the two miles out of our way, to bump our way into a badly-paved little parking lot next to a tiny rise, and, indeed, over the retaining wall, was Lake Erie, water lapping against the shore with seagulls skimming it overhead, but very misty in the distance and the sky a pale, watery blue. We couldn't tell whether there was an island in the distance or a shoal. We did see one boat, backlit against the mist, and what looked in the distance to be trees. Or not.

It looked, as I saw it, like a miniature version of Oakland Beach, back when Iggy's was Gus's and just a shack.

So we saw at least one Great Lake. Would have liked to have seen Lake Huron, but both times coming back from the Henry Ford the traffic was a mess going out to Port Huron, and we were exhausted coming back from Bronner's (and the traffic was a mess then, too).

So, back to the freeway at the nagging of the GPS, past Toledo and an Eastern Orthodox Church and the beautiful mosque with its gold dome and twin minaret. Past all the fields of corn, harvested or with stalks still standing, and the occasional brilliant autumn trees in a grove of otherwise dull ones. Past the Armstrong Air & Space Museum right by the freeway when we went through Wapakoneta. There was another mosque further down, with a thin, elegant minaret. We listened to an Agatha Raisin mystery about a murder in a rambling [walking] group, and also the Paul McGann Doctor Who story "The Scapegoat." Schuyler cheeped occasionally and we let Willow sniff about at an Ohio rest area.

We stopped to pick up lunch at the Arby's at the same exit at which we had stayed in Dayton, waving at that Drury Inn as we went by, and also got gasoline at Sam's.Club on the same road. However, we didn't eat it there.

We had gotten to the Wright Brothers shop and the visitor's center in Dayton so late that by the time James tried to buy something as a gift the park ranger had shut down the cash register. So we figured to just stop by and purchase it, and sit there in the parking lot and eat our lunch, since we couldn't do our usual thing when on vacation with the critters, get a picnic table at a rest area and eat there.

We had a minor adventure: James got off at 53A rather than 53B, which dumped us directly into downtown Dayton, with nary a helpful pointer directing us to the Wright Cycle Shop in sight. So James drove around the city while the GPS desperately tried to get us back on the freeway, and I struggled to type "Wright Brothers" into my phone over badly-mended streets (it came out "Wrugnt Btotjers" the first time) to get us directions. It was only a mile away, three quick right turns and a left. I popped in to use the ladies' room and get the gift after feeding Willow half my sandwich.

Next down to Cincinatti, where I monitored the traffic, but it was all in the opposite direction as we had experienced it last Friday, and finally into Kentucky. This, ironically, was the one place we ran into traffic, if just briefly; police cars being stopped on both sides of a Jersey barrier, everyone decided they had to stop and look. Idiot rubberneckers.

Interestingly, in Kentucky we passed one of those U-Hauls with a city or country attraction or notable painted on the side. This one was marked "Wapakoneta" and had a graphic of Neil Armstrong in his space suit on it!

We reached our motel about 5:30. It hadn't gotten over 50 all day and was quite damp and cold when we got to the Days Inn in Georgetown, KY, just north of Lexington. I had picked this one because it was the only place around Lexington I could find with five stars, and it intrigued me. Well, it's a motel, kinda down around the heels. The grout in the bathroom is gross, but everything is clean, and the bed is nice and firm. Don't know about the shower yet. It's across the way from a truck stop, so it appears the evening will be noisy.

Still, it seems to be popular with folks with pets! Next door to us is a Sheltie, and in the room after that is a Yorkie.

Bet no one has a Schuyler. :-)

So we had dinner at Waffle House, just on the other side of the Motel 6 next to us. Mmmn. Pork chops! Now waiting for the season premiere of Flying Wild Alaska.

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» Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Big Time Machine
 
First of all, I hate high heels.

I wasn't wearing them, I was hearing them. At 7 a.m.

Again, this is a suite: living room separated from bedroom by bathroom and "hall" with tile floor. Also, to move the air from the window air-conditioned bedroom to the living room, there is a vent above the hall. Big empty space, perfect as an echo chamber. Apparently whomever was in the suite upstairs was getting ready for a business meeting this morning and spent at least 20 minutes trotting around the bathroom tile in high heels, which you could hear, tap by infuriating tap, downstairs in our room. Arrrgh.

Both of us were therefore very tired today.

After breakfast we drove back into Dearborn to "the Henry Ford," this time to visit the museum building. Ironically, we are touring the place at the time the entire automotive exhibit is being remodeled, so we did not see many of the cars. Some of them were at the edges of the automotive exhibit, and there were also cars in the transportation exhibit, but we probably missed 80 percent of them. We could see some, covered in plastic, and see the bits of the new exhibit they are working on, including the improvement of overnight shelter during road trips (from self-carried tents to motor courts to the Holiday Inn), and also an exhibit on diners and fast food—James says he read the diner will eventually serve road food; heh...maybe Jane and Michael Stern will eventually eat there.

The museum is divided into several sections. We started at the agricultural implements, from a primitive colonial plow to one with a steel plowshare all the way through McCormick reapers, corn shuckers, and finally, modern, huge combines. There was also a home arts exhibit comparing four different kitchens: colonial, early republic (1830), Victorian and 1940s, and a set of elaborate dollhouses once owned by wealthy girls, from a four-room colonial to a more elaborate twelve-room home to a set of townhouses.

We did walk through the Wizard of Oz exhibit, which was intended for small children and was mostly based on the film. We had to check out the toys, which included poseable dolls based on the characters, books from the original novel to Gregory McGuire's Wicked, to other little items like a stuffed Toto sticking his head out of a basket and Oz costumes for your American Girl dolls!

A unique exhibit was the only surviving Dymaxion House designed by Buckminster Fuller. This was a house conceived to solve the housing problems that occurred after World War II. It was an aluminum, doughnut-shaped structure supported on a central pole, complete with two bathrooms (tiny ones, to be sure!), two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room, complete with air conditioning, which was nearly unheard of in a private home in those days. The closet and other storage areas were on rotating shelves to save space: no dressers or bureaus were needed for clothes or linen. Only one was ever sold, to a family who lived in it for 20 years, and extended it conventionally. Instead, more conventional projects, like Levittown, went through. The Henry Ford people bought the Dymaxion House from that family and reconstructed it here, although the closets are locked shut.

"Your Place in Time" is a timeline for anyone born in the 20th century, from the progressive generation (my mom and dad's) to Y2K, with a radio broadcasting "War of the Worlds," a classroom where the teacher is instructing the kids in a late 1950s civil defense drill, an exhibit of music from 1950s radio to eight-track tapes, a tribute to Hollywood and movie magazines, cases of memorabilia from each era, and an exhibit of the future as envisioned by SF magazines and books, including an evidently humorous book called Mr. Adam, about the only man left in the world who can father children.

Between this last exhibit and the factory exhibit was a small exhibit of firearms going back to wheel-lock pistols and rifles, including the original Pennsylvania rifles used by Daniel Boone and his compatriots. I looked for a Melchior Fordney like Levi Zendt in Centennial had, but they didn't have one of those. :-)

A very large exhibit was "Made in America." The first half is "power," and is almost more generators and working engines than you ever wanted to see. :-) The oldest engine had pumped water out of a mine in England from the early 1800s through the early 1900s! There were examples of water wheels and turbines, Edison generators, steam powered and gasoline powered equipment, and even a big Corliss engine, made in Providence, RI, like the one which powered all the machinery at the Centennial exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. (There were several pieces of machinery made in Providence, the Corliss pieces and also equipment made by Brown & Sharpe.) As each engine grew more powerful, this power was illustrated by how many 40-watt lightbulbs could be lit by the engine.

There is a small exhibit of different types of furniture over the years, from Jacobean chairs and chests that came over with the Pilgrims to plastic bucket chairs. In between was a classic wooden high chair like we remember from childhood, a plush Victorian chair once owned by Mary Todd Lincoln and one of the old, ornate desks and benches from the House of Representatives, decorated Pennsylvania Dutch cupboards and dressers, a Chippendale chair, tables, bureaus, seating, storage, fine furniture and rude benches, stained items and painted ones.

We saw one more exhibit before heading to the Michigan Cafe for Lunch: "With Liberty and Justice for All." This was a combination of four themes: the American Revolution (with a very rare copy of the Declaration of Independence from the 1820s, and a special exhibit on George Washington, including Washington memorabilia), the Civil War with special emphasis on Abraham Lincoln (the museum has on display the rocker in which President Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated; you could still see bloodstains...it was quite chilling), the Women's Suffrage movement, and finally the Civil Rights movement. This latter exhibit has the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to move to the rear; you can walk right on it and sit in the seat she was sitting on that day.

We then walked over to the Michigan cafè for lunch. The menu was about the same as at the cafeteria in Greenfield Village. James had a beef pasty which he found less than thrilling, and since he had the last one, I had chicken breast. Also less than thrilling. Real mashed potatoes, though; Clay would have loved them. The dessert, a chocolate "wave cake," was delicious.

We then went back to the aviation exhibit, which was what James was waiting to see. I must admit this was probably the best of the exhibits. The centerpiece is a reproduction of the Wright Flyer, and other pieces surround it: a DC3 that, at the time it was installed in the museum, was the plane that had the most miles on it (another DC3 has since taken the honor); a "flivver," a small airplane Ford conceived so that people could own airplanes the way they owned automobiles; a Lockheed Vega like the one Amelia Earhart flew; a Stinson-Detroiter that almost flew around the world, a reproduction of The Spirit of St. Louis used for the movie with Jimmy Stewart (Stewart bought it after the film wrapped and then donated it to the museum) along with Lindbergh memorabilia like sheet music, souvenir pillows, games, toys, etc.; two airplanes used for barnstorming (a "Jenny" and another older plane, a Laird biplane, flown by "the flying schoolgirl," Katherine Stinson, who took chances many men would not) in a super setup depicting an air show at a county fair; a racing plane ahead of its time (single wing with contouring and landing gear in the 1920s); and, best of all—oh, my ears and whiskers!—the Ford Trimotor used by Admiral Byrd to fly over the South Pole, and the Fokker with Wright "Whirlwind" engines that Byrd used on one of his expeditions! I was sorely tempted to reach over and just touch the tip of the tail of the Trimotor, but I didn't. They also had memorabilia from Byrd's Antarctic camp "Little America" and film from the era.

We then visited the smaller portion of "Made in America," which was small hand machines like lathes and borers, braiding machines, spinning units, etc. The highlight of this exhibit was the actual workshop of a cobbler who assembled leather pieces sent to him by a central jobber, which he would then send to shoe stores to be sold.

In walking down to the cafeè, we had passed the Museum's collection of Presidential limosines: one used in the Reagan era, the limo in which Kennedy was riding when he was shot (later retrofitted with bulletproof everything), Eisenhower's limo, and Roosevelt's big touring car, the "Sunshine Special." There was also a brougham used by Theodore Roosevelt. We passed them once again as we walked down to the train exhibit, and also saw tantalizing glimpses of what would have been on display in the automotive section, including an experimental "safety car," the earliest Chevy Suburban, the first Plymouth Voyager, and some older cars and horse-drawn equipment like a buggy.

The railroad exhibit is small but solid: a reproduction of the first U.S. locomotive, the "Dewitt-Clinton"; three stagecoaches that transported people from railroad stations to hotels, a combination car (baggage and passengers), the "Fairlane Special," which looked like Ford's private railroad car (unfortunately, due to the auto exhibit being closed, we couldn't read the placard on it); a steam locomotive that resembled the "Cannonball" from Petticoat Junction; a huge Canadian snowplow locomotive; a 1925 caboose put back in mint order; and "the Allegheny," the last of the huge steam engines that were produced before diesel replaced them. This is the only one left in existence; the others were all scrapped. This locomotive was huge, as long as a house and immensely tall. You had to climb a stairway of at least 15 steps (it may have been more) just to get into the engineer's compartment. And it was coupled to a combination coal and water car that made it nearly twice as long.

Next to the train equipment was a small exhibit of other transportation, mostly automobiles, from a tiny 1940s Crosley to a huge Bugatti that looked a lot like Cruella DeVil's car (I believe her car was based on a similar vintage Bugatti). There was a Cord roadster, a beautiful Thomas Flyer, the very first Mustang off the line, a slick but icky-colored classic Corvette, and a Chevrolet BelAir the same vintage as myself. There was also a horse drawn vehicle called a "chariot." We had seen this name on the toll bridge fare placard in Greenfield Village and wondered what on earth it was. I rounded the corner, saw it, and said, "It looks like a pumpkin coach for Cinderella!" Really, what it was was a half-sized coach for two people, with a driver up front and a platform in the back (for a footman or manservant, I guess), and it did kinda look like the pumpkin coach in Disney's Cinderella (not in orange, though).

We walked out for the day through two exhibits, jewelry (which included mourning jewelry, a Masonic pin from 1880, colonial pieces—two from the early 1700s—and even a piece of costume jewelry by Coro, where my mom used to work!) and clocks that went back to the units that once made Connecticut the clockmaking center of the U.S. Let me tell you, when you owned a "shelf" clock in the days preceding spring-driven clocks, you had better have had a big, strong shelf!

We were tired and missed the short silver and pewter exhibit, but did take a brief nip into the gift shop, where we got a refrigerator magnet, mug, and some recipe cards.

Well, by this time it was almost 4:30 and Detroit rush hour was well into full swing. On our route home (I-94 to I-75 northbound) there were already three accidents. However, on the way in we had passed a shopping center. The outside sign only advertised the stores, but we figured there must be some restaurants in the milieu as well, and we were right. We had supper at Panera Bread, chicken soup with a baguette and a grilled cheese sandwich for me, wild rice soup with an Alpine steak sandwich for James, until the traffic had let up a little. We still got stuck in stop-and-go, especially on I-94, but there were no accidents. Before we came upstairs, we bought gas for tomorrow. This is not a good stretch of road for gasoline; we had to go several miles before we found a gas station!

Homeward bound tomorrow...

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» Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Big Holiday
 
Remember in a previous post I talked about wishing to go to a store called Bronners someday?

Today was that someday.

No, I won't give you a play-by-play about wandering about the world's largest Christmas store. Let's say we got there at 10:30 and finally came up for air about 3:00 (with a half-hour for lunch). I'll probably chat more about it some time in Holiday Harbour. I will give you the particulars: Bronners is located in Frankenmuth, about 71 miles north of where we are staying at the moment. The road to Frankenmuth is lined with rural landscape, except when you pass through Flint, and when you get off the freeway you are surrounded by harvested fields and other rural, small town amenities. Bronners is located on 25 Christmas Lane, which is a smile all in itself. The founder, Wally Bronner, started out as a sign maker, and eventually got into selling Christmas decorations as part of the business. The store is 5.5 acres and sells Christmas material from all over the world. Most of the stock is decorations (tree and otherwise), but they also have lights, Christmas trees, a few books and music products, an area of fall, Hallowe'en and Thanksgiving decorations (me being me, the first things I bought were fall things), and a room that tells the Bronner story with displays of Nativities from all over the world (there are also collections of what must be every single Hummel and Precious Moments figurine ever sold).

After visiting Bronners, I walked over to see the Silent Night Memorial Chapel. The original church, St. Nicholas, in which "Silent Night" was first performed, had to be demolished early in the 20th century because of dangerous structural damage. On the site, the Austrians built a chapel to memorialize the birthplace of the song. Wally Bronner obtained permission from the Austrians to build an exact copy of the chapel on the grounds of Bronners. It's a lovely, tall circular structure, with two beautiful stained glass windows, an altar and pews, some lovely artwork, and bulletin boards with the story of the song, its authors, and the chapel. Outside is a simple white Nativity scene. "Silent Night" as sung by different singers is played continuously over loudspeakers lining the walk to the chapel. Lovely.

Not a quarter mile down the road from Bronners is Michigan's Own Miltary Museum. I had offered this to James as someplace to go if he got bored with wandering around in Christmas-land, but he stuck with me (at checkout we suggested they should have another T-short besides the one that says "I got lost at Bronners": this one should read "I followed my wife all the way through Bronners"...LOL). So since we had 90 minutes until they closed, we walked through it together.

This is just a neat little place, the only one like it in any of the 50 states. It honors military from Michigan (except one guy from New York...later) with their uniforms and other memorabilia. There are a few men from the Civil War, one from the Spanish-American War, and then one whole gallery of World War I veterans, followed by World War II, etc. There was a special corner of the World War I gallery for "the Polar Bears," otherwise known as the North Russia Expeditionary Force, troops dispatched by Woodrow Wilson to Siberia to battle the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. 90 percent of the men who served were from Michigan, most of them from Detroit. This is a fascinating piece of military history about which I know little; I've just heard it mentioned briefly.

Each display case has exhibits from one man (or woman). Four cases cover the five Michigan governors who had military careers, including one gentleman who lost both his legs at age 19 in World War II. All of the World War II and later display cases are changed out regularly, because they have more memorabilia than display cases. If the curator—a man who started collecting World War II memorabilia in 1945 when he was twelve years old—has advance warning of someone who is coming to the museum whose display is not up, he can put that memorabilia on display so his or her family can see it. He had just finished a display for a World War II vet who is visiting tomorrow.

There are also cases for Medal of Honor winners and other servicemen who won awards, and a gallery in the rear for Michigan's participants in the space program, including Jim McDivitt and Roger Chaffee.

There are two cases holding German and Japanese memorabilia that soldiers brought home. The owner is very intense, and told us the showcases are deliberately disordered, with items just tossed in, because the regimes of those countries were evil at that time, and he does not want to give people the idea he is honoring the ideals of those regimes. He also has photos from concentration camps and prisoner-of-war camps and says he has to be careful which ones he puts out, so not to scare children.

Each case holds different things, depending on what the person or their family saved. The memorabilia from the Spanish-American War veteran, for example, had all his braided epaulets and his sword. Several men were survivors of the "Hanoi Hilton" and the rubber sandals and striped prison costume were part of the display...chilling when combined with a placard telling of their ordeals. One man's exhibit had the toy soldiers he used to play with as a boy. The "Polar Bear" men had fur boots and other clothing to keep out the cold. One soldier's letters home, on lined paper done in pencil, were lined up so you could read. The astronaut memorabilia included bits of space suits. If the person has passed away, there was usually a booklet from his memorial service. There were medals and service pins, a portable communion kit for a chaplain killed in battle, rifles and helmets, tin cups and canteens, small personal items, photographs of family.

The story of the man from New York: this was an African-American man who won both a Purple Heart and other medals for bravery. For one reason or the other, his family sold his medals after his death. The medals were bought by a military collector in Michigan. So since there was no display like this for servicemen in New York, the Michigan museum displays his medals.

Brrrr was it cold by now. It had been bad enough when I walked out to the Silent Night chapel—it was about 49°F with a sharp 15 mph wind; Weather Channel said the wind chill made it 39. At five when the museum closed the clouds were lower than ever and it was damp. We drove back to the Drury Inn, and confounded the critters by immediately turning around and going back out to supper at a local place called "Recipes." James had a shrimp mac and cheese while I had pad thai.

And then we were back, so Willow could prowl the living room and Schuyler could chirble at me.

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» Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The Big Stroll
 
I can't remember how old I was the first time I heard about the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. It may have been on one of the Evening/PM Magazine shows, or some documentary on television. All I do know is that I said "I want to go there someday."

Today we took care of half of that.

We left a bit late to skip Detroit rush hour, and ended up arriving at "The Henry Ford" (which is what they call it) about ten. We parked on the museum side, unfortunately, so had to cross through the entire building, with its tantalizing tidbits of exhibits, to get to the Greenfield Village portion. The entire complex is a paean to American life, Henry Ford style; in fact, as you approach the village complex, a statue of the boss greets you.

Greenfield Village is like Sturbridge, or Plymouth, or Mystic, or any other recreated village in that you walk around to different historical buildings, manned either by docents dressed in a tourguide uniform or in the costume of the period of the house. It is more like Strawbery Banke in that all the homes are not from the same era. However, these homes and buildings are not native to the area, as those at Strawbery Banke. Instead, Henry Ford bought up historic buildings and moved them to this little parklike area with paved streets and curbstones, peppered with the occasional restroom or a food stand, dotted with benches for sore feet. It's like Disneyland in a way as it is girded by a railroad track and you can get rides on old-fashioned steam trains which have several stations around the complex. For history buffs like me, it is Disneyland.

The buildings range from those of the famous—Thomas Edison is very prominently featured—to those of the ordinary—a two-room cabin with a tacked-on kitchen taken from a little town near Savannah. They have been having Hallowe'en weekends for a couple of weeks now, so the place is decorated prettily for autumn with pumpkins and cornstalks, with some Hallowe'en touches near the Wright Brothers' home. I can't possibly tell you everything in order, especially since we interrupted our walk through the village some time after noon to have lunch at the cafeteria, but I'll hit the highlights.

• Thomas Edison's Menlo Park, New Jersey, complex, moved here piece by piece. This is where he and his team of workers invented the long-lasting light bulb, the phonograph, and so many other items. There are several buildings, but of course the laboratory is the showpiece. There are duplicates of his inventions inside, besides the phonograph, the electric pen (an early duplication invention made obsolete by the typewriter and carbon paper), the automatic vote tally, and, strung all over the laboratory, reproductions of Edison's light bulbs, which they have hand-blown. This was particularly memorable because the woman they had working as a docent was an unabashed Edison fan and just rattled on story after story after story about Edison, including the one about the chair that is nailed in the middle of the floor of the workshop upstairs.

Henry Ford and Edison were good friends; they even had homes in Fort Myers together. Ford had the Menlo Park lab installed in Greenfield Village before Edison's death, and, on the 50th anniversary of the light bulb, he had Edison there at Greenfield, in the lab, with notables like President Hoover, Marie Curie, Will Rogers, etc. Edison was in his 80s at that time and asked to sit down, so a workshop chair was brought over for him to sit on. After the crowd left, Ford commemorated the occasion by nailing the chair to the floor where Edison sat in it in tribute to him. And so that's where it sits [chair appears in this pic]!

There is also a reproduction of Edison's dynamo plant and Edison's Fort Myers factory (a smaller building that shows that he wanted to work even when he was relaxing).

• The Wright Cycle Shop. As the park ranger in Dayton pointed out on Sunday, the Wrights had several cycle shops, and this was just one of them. However, it's the cycle shop for most aviation buffs because this is where they worked on the Wright Flyer and the problems of aerodynamics. This bicycle shop has the airplane shed out back.

Next door is the Wright family home, which was actually donated to the museum while Orville Wright (Wilbur died in 1912) was still alive. He used to come to the museum to make sure the house looked exactly as it did in 1903, complete with his own childhood books and the carved staircase newel post and rails and bannisters he made from cherrywood. The house was the usual Victorian wallpaper/carpeting, but very cozy. We spent some time here talking with the young docent, who asked us how we started visiting historical sites, and we recommended places for her to go!

• Henry Ford's birth home. It was still in the family after his sister died, but had been empty for about fifteen years. It was moved to Greenfield and reproduced from Henry's memories. He was very thorough about the whole thing: for instance, he couldn't quite remember the china pattern they had when he was a child. So he had a garbage pit dug up to find the fragments of the china. Again, a very Victorian home, but cozy. Nearby is the barn, which is surrounded by a field which appears to be kept farmed during the year. Right now it is lined with corn stooks and dotted with pumpkins.

There is also a reproduction of his first Model T factory, before the assembly line. The docent said it would take about a day to assemble one car. This building holds the last Model T which was produced in 1927.

• A reproduction of George Washington Carver's birth cabin. This had a particularly nice touch: each of the fifty states were asked to supply a board to panel the interior of the cabin, and each sent a native piece of wood: red maple from Rhode Island, live oak from Georgia, pine from Maine, etc. It was actually a larger cabin than the one next door to it, the birth place of William McGuffey, of the famous McGuffey readers. His cabin was about the size of the living room we have back at the hotel! Next door to the McGuffey cabin is the McGuffey school, also a log cabin and crowded with benches and desks.

• The Firestone farm—Ford was also good friends with Harvey Firestone of tire fame. We actually didn't make it out to the farm, although I got a nice picture, with its lovely patterned roof. We did ride by it on the train and saw several flocks of Merino sheep (grey rather than white); they also have shorthorn cattle and other heritage breeds.

• Robert Frost's home. This was a home he lived in while he was in residence at the University of Michigan, and the house was actually fixed up in the style of the original owners in the 19th century, although a recording of Frost reciting "The Road Less Traveled" is playing in the home.

• Noah Webster's home, with a very large exhibit of Webster's books (he didn't just do a dictionary!) upstairs. I was surprised by the bright color of the front parlor, a vivid green. The docent said they did find notes that Webster ordered the room painted "apple green." She also noted that most folks had wallpaper back then, because it was cheaper than paint (!!!), so Webster was quite well off to have painted rooms.

• The Logan County courthouse. This was brought from Illinois and was where Abraham Lincoln would have practiced law during his years as a a circuit judge. Ford was so reverent of this building that he even had the plaster of the ceiling broken up, numbered, and then reinstalled. It was so awesome sitting in a building Lincoln had worked in.

• Charles Steinmetz' cabin. This was a tiny place, with only a porch lined with windows and a sleeping room with a hammock. Steinmetz was handicapped with a spinal curvature and was only in less pain sleeping in a hammock, not a bed.

The oldest building on the property is out on the furthest boundary, a windmill from Cape Cod built in the 17th century. One home over from the windmill is the Plympton house, which is a colonial dating from the early 1700s, but the bricks in the chimney, from an older house, date from the 1600s!

We enjoyed visits to some other neat shops. One was a millinery shop having belonged to a widow and her daughters, full of actual vintage hats in glass cases and reproduction hats on stands. They also sold men's clothing supplies (suspenders, buttons, etc.) and children's hats. Another was the tintype shop. The tintype artist had, when photographs became popular, given up his art to work in the Ford factory. He was finally the last tintype artist living, and when Ford found out, he installed him at Greenfield, doing tintypes of guests, including famous folk like Walt Disney. We walked through the Smith's Creek Depot, a railroad station that was on the route Thomas Edison traveled when he was a "news butcher" as a kid. They don't know that Edison ever stepped into the station, but he could have. Surprisingly, to me, anyway, the station master kept his home in the station itself. I don't think I'd ever seen that before, although it makes sense.

One home mentioned Stephen Foster, but did not say it was Foster's home. This contained a small exhibit of American music, with displays of instruments, and plaques about how music was used at social gatherings like singing schools and band concerts for people to get together (and young folks to court!). The Georgia home previously mentioned belonged to the Mattoxes, an African-American family. A grape arbor where the family ate and cooled off in the hot summer months was meticulously replanted there, and a chicken coop out back held the same number of hens and one rooster as the Mattoxes owned. The house is notable for being decorated in Depression-era magazine pages, and the ceiling is lined with brown corrugated cardboard. We chatted with three ladies eating their noon meal in the Daggett farmhouse, which is 19th century, and also two ladies quilting in the kitchen of the Susquehanna Plantation, dressed in Civil War-era memorabilia. One of the ladies was from Atlanta.

We visited a wagon shop, a jewelry shop where they also sold watches and silver serving pieces, the Sarah Jordan boarding house where Edison's workmen stayed—the owner and her daughter and the long-suffering Irish servant on one side of the house, the men on the other, two tiny brick slave cabins (and these being solid they were better than most quarters than those enslaved had), and an entire stone English cottage, barn, tower, and blacksmith's forge imported from the Cotswolds. This last was lovely, with vines crawling up the side of the cottage, and a bursting full English cottage garden to its left. We were entertained by the chipmunks that were scampering about under the plants.

There was also a doctor's office; he was a homeopathic doctor, and had some plants I had never heard of as part of his pharmeocopia. We visited the General Store at the same time as some kids working on a school assignment; the docent was giving them gentle hints about which items in the store had been manufactured in the city. We peeked in the little house of John Chapman, who was Henry Ford's favorite teacher. In fact, we thought we got almost every place except for a machine shop and the farm, and now that I am looking at the map, we missed the saw mill, the potter's shop, the glassblower, the printing office, the carding mill, a weaving shop, a gristmill, and another school! Oh, well. We can't get back in without buying another ticket. I saw what I really wanted to see, too: the Wrights and the Edison stuff.

As I said, we took a ride in a Model T, a fun, top-down, brisk ride. It had started out chilly this morning, but was clearing up as we took the ride. The driver told us about the car as we drove, and I made a little film of it (interrupted by a dead battery) as we rode. Later we rode the train around the perimeter, which includes the oxbow of a part of the river separated from its main course by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Henry Ford Academy (a charter high school). The doors were open at the school and we waved to a bunch of the kids as we went by!

We were out of there right at closing time, and expected a nice 40-minute ride home via I-94 and I-75. Instead, the dippy GPS routed us through an alternate road that was fine until it became uncontrolled access with traffic lights every other block. Two out of three lanes on part of the road were closed even though no work was being done on it, and traffic crawled. It took us an hour to get back. Bleah.

I was so disappointed: I brought back a cup of milk from the breakfast buffet this morning to enjoy with my supper (leftovers and some pretzels and things from the evening hot snack). Well, it was frozen solid because the little fridge is set so high! In fact, here it is 10 p.m. and it's just thawed!

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» Monday, October 24, 2011
The Big Weather Change
 
Sigh. Alarm set for eight, awake at 6:30. This means I was awake a few minutes later when it started to thunder.

Ah, well. It was raining pretty well when James took Willow outside, but it had stopped by the time we had finished breakfast and had loaded up the luggage cart (Willow jumped upon it before we had it full; we weren't going to leave her behind!). I stopped at the desk to tell them that the sink was not emptying properly and also that we had not been able to get hot water out of it. So they credited my card with one night's stay! That was nice of them.

We got gasoline at the station catty-corner from the hotel and were off; Schuyler wrapped against the chill: it was 50°F out and heavily overcast. We drove through a band of rain, and then it slowly began to clear, lower clouds to higher, lighter grey clouds, to fluffy clouds, to cloudless and fluffy clouds again. It was always breezy, and by the time we reached Michigan it was snapping the flags out.

Ohio was farm fields from Dayton until we approached the outskirts of Toledo, broken by groves of trees sometimes filled, sometimes dotted, with chrome-yellow brilliant trees mixed in with bits of orange. We crossed the Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30; see our adventures on the Lincoln in November 2009), emblazoned with the Lincoln logo, and also I-80, which I was last on in 1978. We stopped at a rest area in Ohio next to a windswept farm whose fields lay bare in the sharp breeze (some miles down the road we had passed a farm that was going to be sold at auction; very sad). We picked up some Wendyburgers before we left Ohio and ate in the car at the Michigan welcome center, where the breeze off Lake Erie made it too chilly to eat at the picnic table.

Then we drove through Detroit, past the Ambassador Bridge, and up a long, long freeway to our hotel in Troy. I remember way back when when all you needed to visit Canada was a driver's license and they inspected your car. I would have liked to have gone...but we didn't have time to get passports.

This is an odd neighborhood: a mixture of hotels, a few restaurants, and many high-rise office buildings. Down the street there are some shopping centers and stores; we hung around for a while after moving into the room (this one a full one-bedroom suite, with a full living room rather than a sitting room), and then went out to the TGIFriday attached to the hotel. We did the "2 for $10" thing, with me getting an appetizer (potstickers) and chicken bruschetta, and James getting dynamite chicken and the dessert (peanut butter cup pie), and then we shared. Afterwards we stopped at Petsmart to get something for Willow, and then went to Barnes & Noble just to walk off dinner. Did buy two cross-stitch magazines.

Nothing much on television again...were watching House Hunters on HGTV until Castle started. Schuyler has been singing her little head off tonight. Almost couldn't hear the dialog over her voice! We have her on the desk in the living room rather than on the tray like she was at the other hotel, and she seems pleased by it.

Wow! They are saying the aurora is visible in some towns outside of Detroit! They even had photographs sent by viewers of the shimmering curtain.

Oh, we watched Castle on WXYZ, the television station that derived from the original Detroit radio station of the same call letters. This is where the radio series The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet were created. Almost as good as passing by KDKA. :-)

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» Sunday, October 23, 2011
The Big Mission
 
Breakfast didn't end until ten today, so we slept until 8:30 this morning, then went downstairs. The breakfast area was mobbed, almost as noisy as last night. We were right, there was some type of soccer tournament in the area. The people sitting next to us were talking to someone else about having lost to another team.

Since the Armstrong Air & Space Museum didn't open until noon today, we made a minor stop at the WalMart across the street (James needed 81mg aspirin), then went back to the bookstore at the Air Force Museum, since it had been so crowded yesterday when we were shopping. I found a discount book about the selling of War Bonds, plus bought two CDs, the Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants singing "Songs to Fly By" and also a collection of Christmas performances. By then it was about eleven and we headed up to Wapokoneta, listening to last week's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."

The road is rather bland, farms (mostly growing corn; the stalks appear to have been harvested, but are still erect—perhaps for a corn maze, sale, or later to be harrowed under to enrich the soil?) interrupted by exits with stores and gas stations. Again, the fall color is rather muted except for occasional patches of bright leaves, usually the smaller trees and brush in front of a grove. We also saw one of the "barn quilts" that are so popular in this area. Instead of hex signs on the barns here, they paint a quilt pattern, and there are guides to them.

After an hour we reached the little museum, which is a domed and angled structure behind a Bob Evans. There were only a few other cars in the parking lot; I supposed the place doesn't get much business this time of year.

This is just a neat little museum that you can go through and read everything in about two hours (this includes sitting down to watch the 30-minute film about the Apollo 11 mission), chiefly to do with Neil Armstrong's career. There is personal memorabilia like family photos and his school yearbook; his service uniforms, keys to the city and other awards given at the time of the moon mission, his backup Apollo space suit and his Gemini suit, etc, and also some dandy things like the Gemini VIII space capsule that almost killed Armstrong and David Scott (one of the thrusters jammed, sending the capsule into a continual spin), a moon rock, Gene Cernan's jump suit and Jim Lovell's longjohns, and other space memorabilia, going all the way through the space shuttle era. There were also neat things that people had sent Armstrong, including a ... well, James said almost a mosaic: it was a portrayal of the command and service modules and the LM, made of beads, clips, fasteners, and other everyday items...fascinating! Portraits, too, and a bust of Armstrong...all sorts of cool things, including a collection of newspapers chronicling the mission. My favorite was the local newspaper's headline: "Neil Lands on the Moon," like he was everyone's kid.

As I mentioned, there's a film about the moon landing in a little planetarium-like theatre. As you walk in there, there's a small entry corridor that is some combination of lights and reflective mirrors that makes it look like you are floating among the stars. Too cool. Just a tiny touch, but it works.

You finally exit through the gift shop, which is small but has a variety of neat things, including men's ties, one with mission patches on it. Bought a couple of postcards and a gift, and we signed the guest book, then went outside to take photos of the jet out front. James tells me it is a very rare experimental plane that Neil Armstrong had test flown; only four were built and three of them were scrapped, so this is the only one left.

We had lunch at the Bob Evans, where I partook of the turkey dinner and James had meatloaf. We had pumpkin bread as our side!

We still had a bit of afternoon left, so we drove back to Dayton past the hotel and to the Aviation Heritage Trail to the Wright Bicycle Shop and the Visitor Center. Alas, we'd tarried too long at lunch and only had 40 minutes for both, but the park rangers were nice: we were taken directly over to the bicycle shop, and then we wandered around the exhibit, basically where I read a few things but took a lot of photos.

This is not the bicycle shop, the one where the Wright Brothers worked on the airplane. What you see is the third bicycle shop they owned; the fourth, where the Wright Flyer was born, was around the corner on another block. That building, as well as the Wright homestead, was taken up and moved to Greenfield Village in Michigan, as part of the Henry Ford Museum. The third bicycle shop was, in fact, only rediscovered recently; the brothers had a total of five different shops, each one larger than the next. Number three is fitted out as it would have been at the turn of the century, and there are several bicycles (mostly reproductions) illustrating the type of cycle they would have sold, plus the part shelves, and the workshop in the back where they could straighten frames or spokes.

The Visitor's Center honors not only the Wright Brothers, but Paul Laurence Dunbar, the African-American poet, who grew up in the same neighborhood as the Wrights. Sadly, we were not there long enough to see his home. From our walk-through of the exhibits, we saw the steps in which the Wrights worked on making a heavier-than-air craft fly (including some bad initial structural design) and also their jobs previous to becoming involved in the lucrative bicycle business, which included a printing concern. People today rarely think of what a great transportation breakthrough the bicycle was: for many people it's only a kid's toy, or for exercise junkies. The bicycle actually was a factor in the woman's suffrage movement, as dozens of young women took up bicycle riding ("immodest!" cried many) and therefore had to wear less restrictive clothing to do so.

Finally it was five and we headed back to the hotel to take Wil for her walk. About seven we walked over to Panera and got some soup for supper. Been casting about the television all night for something to watch and finally settled on Holmes Inspection.

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» Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Big Hangar
 
Will you tell me why I am so blankety-blank hard to unwind? I have never been a "type A" personality, yet the only time I seem to relax any more is when I am reading; otherwise I'm strung tighter than a bow. Last night we had a comfy bed and comfy pillows in a nice cool room after a great shower. The blackout curtains really worked (and a good thing, too, because there's a spotlight that shines right toward our window). We went to bed and had eight solid hours of nice sleep ahead of us, from 11:30 to 7:30.

I woke up at 6 and never could get back to sleep. My mind was racing about the glass of milk I stupidly left in the refrigerator; I was supposed to drink it yesterday before we left. Now it's going to sour in there. Left a cup of yogurt behind, too. I can't sleep because I am thinking about having to clean the refrigerator. Is this idiotic or what?

So we were up at 7:30 to dress. I got a rude surprise: the last pair of GV jeans I bought at Costco didn't fit. Although they were marked my size, they were at least one size too small. Phooey! James walked the dog and then we went down to breakfast. I hate to be disloyal to Drury, but I think I like the Staybridge breakfasts better. Their oatmeal was in packets and didn't have a metallic taste. They also had mixed fruit instead of just apples and bananas. And there was toast.

So this morning we were headed to the Air Force Museum. We were here eleven years ago, having stopped in Dayton a day early before going on to Columbus for the "WENNvention" [gathering of Remember WENN fans] [that account is here]. There was a new hangar of experimental planes James wanted to see, and some of the planes formerly on the flightline were now inside. Plus we had had to rush through the post-World War II galleries very quickly last time. So since we were heading for "points north," it made sense one of the points was here.

The first thing we did was spend a half hour in line to get registered for the bus to the hangars where the Presidential planes and the experimental Air Force planes were. Both of us skipped out of line to take a couple of pics. After that we started walking through the galleries we had examined in detail last time: early aviation (starting with balloon ascents and the efforts of non-Americans—there's an actual Bleriot, which will mean something to anyone who loved the British seies Flambards) through World War II. The exhibits segue logically one into the next along a curved pathway that makes the experience more interesting, as you turn a corner and see a new vista of aircraft, or come upon a little alcove where you might have a small exhibit about spying or prisoners of war. You walk out from the World War II gallery into a short, but very effective display about the Holocaust. There is also a display for Bob Hope's involvement with entertaining the troops, a small exhibit about service flags, and a huge, beautiful hanging quilt paying tribute to Air Force installations, as well as a mosaic reproduction of the famous photo of the Wright brothers' flight.

At this point we decided to break for lunch, so went upstairs to the cafè, where they have hot dogs, hamburgers, some ham and cheese sandwiches, fruit, drinks, milk, chips, and desserts. It has been busy here all day, and we shared company with what sounded back down on the exhibit floor like veterans visiting for the day, plus a plethora of Boy Scouts. After lunch there wasn't much time before we needed to be on the bus, so we just wandered around the gift shop until it was time to gather in the auditorium.

For reasons that I'd rather not go into, I ended up not going to the experimental hangar. James enjoyed the excursion very much and took about a gajillion pictures, to the point where he ran down my spare battery down on his camara. He had already run down his own in the first gallery! By that time I was slightly better and wandered after him through the remaining two galleries: Vietnam and Korea, and the Cold War, which also included the missile gallery and the few spacecraft exhibits (including the Apollo 15 capsules, Gemini and Mercury capsules, and a moonrock). All those names from Vietnam bring back such bad memories. We watched it night after night on television. My cousin Jimmy went to Vietnam and came home so changed and emotionally fragile. My friend Penny's dad went as well. I remember going to her house one night to watch her Dad appear on the news. And we never saw the actual carnage...just indistinct bodies and wounded men wrapped in bandages.

Vietnam was part of my childhood, but it's funny how the World War II gallery also always resonates with me, as it was my parents' war. But then it was as alive in our house when I was a kid as it had been to them twenty years earlier. I would ask my mother to tell me the story about what happened to her the day of Pearl Harbor, and even today I can't hear John Charles Daly's Pearl Harbor announcement or FDR's "Day of Infamy" speech without getting gooseflesh.

While waiting for James to finish taking pictures in the last gallery, I sat down near a young mom discreetly nursing a baby under an afghan; she had another tiny little girl with her. Very soon dad and slightly older brother turned up. I'd say she was three and he was about five. She was sitting in the stroller and would push him away and he would pretend to get pushed backward, then come back for more. Then she slipped out of the stroller and they were trotting around the stroller. So cute!

So, very close to closing time, we ended up back in the gift shop. They have a great selection of military and aviation books, and I could have bought a lot more than I did, including a illustrated book of World War II memorabilia (games, ration cards, greeting cards, etc.), several space books, and others I can't recall. I did get a book called A Ball, a Monkey and a Dog, about the early days of the space program, and a book chronicling girls' serial/series stories about aviation (The Girl Aviators, The Aeroplane Girls, etc.), plus the souvenir booklet. By the time we walked out it was 4:55 and they closed at five.

We had supper mostly at the Drury evening meal setup. This time they had hot dogs, mac and cheese, baked potatoes, salad greens, pretzels and chips, and chili. I had to have some mac and cheese (if you get my drift) and also had a baked potato with cheese sauce, and some bread. It was terribly noisy in the dining area; apparently there was a little girls' soccer competition in the area. This explains the three little girls on the elevator yesterday, as we ran into one of them on the elevator again tonight—she said, "I remember you; you're the ones with the parrot." Schuyler gladly accepts the compliment!

We finally fled from the tumult and walked across the parking lot to the Panera Bread to buy some of their chicken soup, and two cookies, and brought it back to the room. Willow fixed her eyes on the bowls for the entire time we ate, those big liquid brown eyes that try to persuade you that she's starving to death with a bowl of kibble not a foot away. We finally mixed her dog food with two spoonfuls of the broth and she scarfed it down.

Wandered about the television dial tonight, ending up finally watching the second half of The Fugitive on "Spike," and most of an America's Funniest Home Videos. Did some checking; the Neil Armstrong museum doesn't open tomorrow until noon, so we have a quiet morning tomorrow.

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» Friday, October 21, 2011
The Big Ride

Yes, it's a long, long, long weekend edition.

We were up at "o'dark thirty," but actually didn't end up leaving the neighborhood until 7:30 a.m., so we ran into school buses aplenty. It was sunrise about the time we hit the freeway, fortified by Chik-Fil-A (I wasn't driving at this point, so I could have more oatmeal). Mainly, we drove, stopping for gasoline or potty breaks for us or for Willow. We either listened to Gaelic Storm or some BBC programs—two Agatha Raisin stories with Penelope Keith and Malcolm Sinclair, and a Paul McGann Doctor Who, "The Beast of Orlok," plus a "Splendid Table" talking about small kitchens. We also listened to an hour of a local radio talk show while stuck in traffic. And we made it here on a tank and a half of gas.

We are in "points north," as I put on my calendar earlier this year, right now staying in Dayton, OH, at the Drury Inn. It was a nice ride, if somewhat long because of being stuck in traffic in Cincinnati. (We should have taken the perimeter road, but both the traffic report on the GPS and the traffic report on the radio said traffic was moving well going straight up I-75. Boy, were they full of it. Wish I'd checked Google Maps on the Droid first; it was up to date on the problem, but by then it was too late!) Willow whined for the first half hour and then looked aggreived for the remainder of the trip (unless James stepped away from the car; then she cried and whined). Schuyler was alternatively quiet or whistled along with Gaelic Storm (and chirped loudly at the birdies in Agatha Raisin's garden).

We saw some very pretty fall color north of Knoxville and then again for a few miles after we crossed Kings Mountain—some as bright as what we saw in New England last year—but otherwise the autumn leaves were rather dull or it was past peak as we went northward. When we stopped at our first rest area in Tennessee, there were two wild turkeys wandering the parking lot followed by people taking photos of them. In Florence, Kentucky, we saw the famous water tower which says "Florence Y'all."

We arrived at our hotel about five o'clock and were pleasantly surprised by the room. They had something called an "oversized room" for a dollar or two more a night, so I got that, figuring it would be a longer or wider room where there would be more room for Willow's crate and Schuyler's cage. It did puzzle me when the description mentioned two televisions. Instead it is like a baby suite, with a little sitting room as you come in with two plush chairs, one a recliner, a lamp table, and a console with a television on top and a microwave and baby refrigerator inside. Then there is a small hallway with the bathroom and closet to the left, and then a nice-sized bedroom with a second television and even room to keep the suitcase on the luggage holder without it being somewhere you will trip on it.

The hotel is also in the middle of at least a half dozen restaurants, including a Panera Bread a few dozen steps from the hotel, a Red Lobster almost as close, and a Golden Corral across the street. The Drury has an evening food offering along with a breakfast, usually something informal like chicken tenders, hot dogs, chili...they had hot dogs and chili tonight, so we availed ourselves of the Golden Corral. The lobby is lovely: registration desk on your left and a big gathering place on the right, with sofas in conversation groups and a television on the wall with a fireplace. You go straight through to the elevators, with the meal area behind, and to the left is a small indoor pool and an exercise room. Very spiffy!

So you had to see us coming in: all the luggage on a luggage cart, with James pushing behind and Willow leading, and me in front carrying Schuyler's cage. We had three little girls with us on the elevator holding the door for us, and ooohing over Wil and getting peeked at by a curious Schuyler. It was too cute!

After dinner we have been just lounging in the sitting room. I put Schuyler's cage on the tray we brought, between the chairs, and Willow's crate is in the corner near the television. Found Keeping Up Appearances and a show called Mulberry about Death's son, who is trying to learn the business, but who has become attached to the wealthy, peppery old lady he has been assigned to. He's constantly at odds with her housekeeper and butler, a married pair who are stealing the old lady blind, selling off her wine and the contents of her kitchen garden to buy things for themselves.

Very sleepy already and it's not even ten o'clock. Been doing too much prep and not enough sleeping...

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» Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The World is Poorer Today
Radio Giant Norman Corwin Dies in California at 101

CBS News Story

Los Angeles Times

Corwin's Website

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The Simple Woman's Daybook
 
FOR TODAY, OCTOBER 19

Outside my window...
...it is still pitch black. We had a cold front come through last night (although you couldn't have told it by 2:30 a.m., when it was warm and still, and even with three fans in the room it was too warm to sleep). But it was cooler this morning, and with the trees moving and rustling like they are, I'm sure I'll have to shut the windows soon. [8:25 a.m. Yes, indeed, I did.]

I am thinking...
...about being a little nervous today. I have to go for a mammogram at 10:30. There's always something sinister about a mammo, because a problem you didn't know about might be lurking there, but I have never had a problem with the procedure itself. I have read stories about women who don't want to go because it's terribly painful. I have always found it a brief discomfort, nothing more, but last year when I had mine, the technician had to get very close to me to adjust the machine and I had an unexpected attack of claustrophobia. She released me from the apparatus immediately and let me take a breath, and I finished with no problem, but it preys on my mind.

[Later: I had no problem. Kept my eyes over the machine and stared at the wall ("close your eyes and think of England?").]

I am thankful for...
...cooler weather, although the last few days of 80s have not been bad. 80s in the fall are different from 80s in the summer; it's a "softer" heat which doesn't hurt your skin.

From the learning rooms...
Just bought what sounds like a fascinating book: Words to Eat By: Five Foods and the Culinary History of the English Language. Lynn Rosetto Casper of The Splendid Table was talking to the author on a recent show.

From the kitchen...
...all dark and quiet, and will be, as tonight is "pot lucks."

I am wearing...
...same thing I was wearing last week, as it's been so warm I haven't worn them since last week.

I am creating...
...just this blog. On a brief hiatus, although I have a couple of more projects to work on before Christmas. I discovered I had the wrong color of a craft component and need to go to JoAnn, since Michaels apparently sells little of that item.

I am going...
...to suggest to James we have a "work day" the first weekend of November, unless he has to work. We still need to put the shelf up in the kitchen, the one that will go over the baker's rack and hold the items we use rarely: the stock pot, the small crock pot, and a few other cooking things. They are just jammed together on the baking rack now and it's awkward.

I am reading...
...The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (a series of essays about Doctor Who), A History of the World in 6 Glasses (I seem to hit this only intermittently; I'm on the tea chapter now), and am about halfway through Cherie Priest's Boneshaker.

I am hoping...
...things will go well during my appointment (both during and afterward).

I am hearing...
...the television in the background for Schuyler. Something on the Today show. The door to the bedroom was squeaking earlier; I had to close it so she wouldn't get a draft.

Around the house...
...all very quiet. You can hear the faint pattering of rain outside, but it's not intrusive. The other rooms are dark, and beckon you to come nap. I must work instead!

I am pondering...
...the news has me pondering the questions of why people do what they do. Mentally disabled adults are kept captive in squalor while people steal their benefits. A woman gets drunk while her baby is kidnapped. And more people hurting others. Why must this happen?

One of my favorite things...
...Susan Branch @ (what else?) www.susanbranch.com! I love her homespun drawings and lettering. I have both of her Christmas books and was overjoyed when she put out one for autumn. One of the things in the dining room is a framed Susan Branch postcard with the legend "a season of love and laughter" with an autumn-themed table set below, and as a caption the lovely Humbert Wolfe quote: "Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!" Yes, indeed!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
I'm due to give Willow a bath, and I think I will put the Hallowe'en decorations up tomorrow during lunch. I'm not much of a Hallowe'en fan, but it should be nice and cool tomorrow as well—the forecast is 50s and windy—to do the job. The weather is so freaky here it might be 80 again by the weekend!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

As it gets closer to Christmas, I long for Christmas-y places to visit. Here's someplace I want to see someday, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, the world's largest Christmas store:



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

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» Tuesday, October 18, 2011
"Harry Potter in 99 Seconds"




From Mugglenet.

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So Want This
TARDIS Glass Christmas Ornament

Thanks to Teri, who mentioned it on Facebook!

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My New Favorite Commercial
I love the expression on her face when she looks at the green glop! (And the little Wii avatar.)

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Wishing I Lived In Reasonable Driving Distance From New Jersey...
The Homecoming 40th Anniversary

I love this movie. Much prefer it over It's a Wonderful Life and many other highly-touted Christmas films. Seeing it in a movie theatre would be lovely!

(Be nice if they did something next year for the 40th anniversary of The House Without a Christmas Tree...like maybe a DVD set of all four Addie Mills stories—this is a hint, son! With extras—an interview with Gail Rock, a chat with Lisa Lucas, tributes to Jason Robards and Mildred Natwick, a featurette on the locations in Canada where they filmed...sigh...)

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» Sunday, October 16, 2011
And So It Ends
Friends Of Old Time Radio Gather In Newark, N.J. For One Last Convention

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Stream-O'Consciousness Sunday
 
Nope, not gonna do it...will not sleep more than eight hours...alarm is set for exactly eight hours after I went to bed...of course I wake up when James leaves for work...again at 7:30 because my knees are hurting...but I do get up at 8:30.

Oatmeal, yogurt and milk, the staff of breakfast...out to hit Bed, Bath & Beyond when it opens...a stop at Publix for a newspaper and to spend a twofer Hallmark coupon...birthday card and some wrapping paper more suitable for guy gifts...now to BB&B past another Publix...OH! they have Thanksgiving cards! got one and a birthday...well, guess what, BB&B doesn't open till eleven...okay, then across the road to Costco to get gasoline...3.119!...then into Costco...oh, look, a gift for James...wow, they have Murdoch Mysteries...and Foyle's War for less than a fortune...very tempted by Prohibition.

Then off to BB&B...bought a Misto and a gift...then to Michaels for some inexpensive frippery and double-sided tape (wanted something to finish a craft project, but they didn't have it...I suppose this means a trip to JoAnn...grump)...let's try Dollar Tree...cool, a book about blogging!

Need lunch...time to head home...aieeee, when I get in the house Taboo is starting...someone getting a tattooed eyeball...ewwwwwwwwww...

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» Saturday, October 15, 2011
Books and Buddies
 
I had to go get blood taken yesterday, so I planned on rising so I could just get up, get dressed, and drive to Kaiser when they opened or a few minutes afterwards. It was a chilly morning, but since I planned to be in and out of buildings, I didn't bother taking a jacket. It was a bright blue day with a breeze

I didn't count on the school buses! Honestly, school buses still driving around at 8:30...8:40...8:45...when on earth does school start? No wonder I see school buses driving around from 4:30 through 6 p.m.! It's not just after-school programs keeping the kids there late.

Anyway, the vampires took three vials of blood, then I crossed the road and had breakfast at Chik-Fil-A: multigrain oatmeal with about half a pack of the brown sugar cinnamon and the nuts on it, and the fruit cup, and milk (of course). Dawdled my way through breakfast reading on my Nook, so didn't get to the Cobb County Library book sale until after ten. It was already packed, and I had to park down near the pond where the trailer hookups are. Mud everywhere and my tires so encrusted with it that when I left I crunched and crackled my way down the road until all the pebbles fell off.

I found some goodies everywhere, so my cloth grocery bag was crammed full and I was hefting and resting, hefting and resting until I got to the counter's desk. The tally is here. I was quite happy at finding the Sydney Taylor; they are so rare and expensive now!

Okay, I know the sale attracts a lot of stay-at-home moms. And they can't leave their kids at home alone. I know they can't, and I'm glad they don't. But I wish they could find babysitters! I really, really hate strollers, especially the SUV-sized ones they make today. Not to mention the people that bring suitcases to put their books in!

From there I went to the Avenue at West Cobb and the Barnes & Noble, windows down and the sunroof open. I spent almost as much on magazines as I did on all those books. I got this month's "Atlanta," plus a special "Saturday Evening Post" about Norman Rockwell—today is exactly one year that we visited Rockwell's studio in Stockbridge!—and the October issue of the British "Country Living." Thought about having a bite to eat there, but decided not to.

Instead came home and had the rest of my onion and chive goat cheese with whole-grain crackers and some milk, and watched Rick Steves in the Cinqueterre. James got home early, but we didn't go out until dinnertime, to pick up some Chinese from Dragon 168 while we bagged some twofers at Publix. We now have enough Hallowe'en candy, and even some cards and wrapping paper. We ate supper at home while watching Murdoch Mysteries.

Unfortunately, the Chinese did not agree with me and I was up a lot later than I wanted, and woke up this morning feeling distinctly sleep-deprived. We blew off the Farmers Market, but only could sleep a half hour later since we had Hair Day today. Last night, James made some pumpkin bars to bring with us; they seemed like a good fall treat, but we both decided they were too sweet. Folks ate them, and we brought some of the leftovers to the hobby shop, but we regretfully tossed the remainder. If we want something like that, we need to make it ourselves; they put so much sugar in everything these days!

Hair Day was fun as always. Chicken was the main dish, with carrots and potato salad on the side. I ate of that sparingly due to last night, but did eat quite a few of the olives and the dill gherkins that Phyllis and Mel brought, and drank strictly water.

We finished the weekly shopping after going to the hobby shop. Found some finely chopped beef (not ground) we plan to eat in tortillas, and also bought two cucumbers for a nice salad during the week. Plus their Hallowe'en decor was on sale, so I picked up two more small signs for the porch and a copper-colored wreath hanger, which will be more appropriate for fall.

The remainder of the evening we have been watching Frontier Force, a National Geographic series about the police (which includes wildlife officers and search and rescue) in Montana. As in Alaska State Troopers, they seem to have to deal with a lot of drunks and druggies. But it isn't all arrests; they also showed them tracking down missing hikers and hunters, and transporting mountain sheep away from a dangerous area. Several episodes with snow, and breathtaking mountains always in the distance.

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» Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The Simple Woman's Daybook
 
FOR TODAY, OCTOBER 12, 2011 (the real COLUMBUS DAY)

Outside my window...
...still quite dark because it is overcast; even the birds aren't at the feeder. It's supposed to clear up later and go up into the 70s. I like the idea of the former, but not of the latter. :-) Staying 60s would make me very happy.

I am thinking...
...not yet, not yet. Once I have breakfast and start work. :-)

I am thankful for...
...not having expected company last night (we are getting quotes on a home project). It took me 75 minutes to get home in the rain and I arrived home stiff and with a headache. It was nice to eat and relax, and not have to talk business. I suppose I misheard and they are coming tonight.

From the learning rooms...
...LOL! I will learn to listen to telephone messages better!

From the kitchen...
...James cleaned it yesterday, so it is quite spic and span except for the floor, which I need to wash. If this inquires about treats, we have the apple pie we got at Panorama orchards, which is still a bit too sweet for me. I've never had a high tolerance for sugar: I don't like frosting (icing, whatever...I call it "ick"), Danish, Cinnabons with the ick on them, even raisins are too sweet for me. Bittersweet chocolate is my speed.

I am wearing...
...my Mutts "jammies" which are fall wearing on telework days. The top is pale blue with hearts on it and a big picture of Earl, the little terrier in the comic strip, with dark blue sleeves. The pants are dark blue with stars, "sweet dreams," and Mooch [the cat] and Earl on a bed.

I am creating...
...order! I need to do more sorting and disposing on Friday. I'm keeping the Early American Life, Best of British, and, right now, Yankee issues, but I need to take the other magazines and just get the useful stuff out of them. Why have year old computer reviews? I just need the links to useful software from PC World. I just want the fall and winter photos from Country and Country Extra and Vermont Life and Midwest Living, etc.

I am going...
...to take the car to the mechanic in a few minutes. I need an oil change, a tune up, and I need to get it inspected. They will give me a ride back home.

I am reading...
...Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Mr. Monk on the Road by Lee Goldberg, and A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage, and, because it called my name, A Rather Curious Engagement by C.A. Belmond.

I am hoping...
...to continue on my decluttering streak. It's helping me work out some personal frustrations.

I am hearing...
...birds chipping from outside the window. And the wonderful silence that goes with no A/C being on. The ceiling fans humming.

Around the house...
It's all vacuumed! Looking up at my bookshelf over the computer, it needs to be cleaned out. I just, just realized where my IRIS Pen software is, after making such a fuss and having to get it from the manufacturer. It's up there, over the computer, hidden by another book. Bother. Some of these books, too, have to go.

I am pondering...
...a conversation last week which troubled me, and the sharp, sad realization that I can't stop things that trouble me from occurring.

One of my favorite things...
...a radio show and podcast called A Way With Words. Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette discuss grammar, punctuation, sayings, proverbs, dialect, idioms, and more. It's always funny and lively. I plan to play an episode or two today.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Tidying. The Mistletoe Market (though God knows why it takes place so early. The Cobb County Library Book Sale. (I know, like I need more books!)

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

Our former neighbor Susan posted this on Facebook...so beautiful! Fall is such a lovely season!



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

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» Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Tidy-Up Tuesday
We had a "tidy-up Tuesday" today at work—the supervisors treated us to breakfast (eggs, ham biscuits, fruit, orange juice, coffee, and some other things), we had atta-boys all 'round, and then we were encouraged to clean up our offices. Great quantities of ring-bound binders (many from submissions of proposals), copy paper boxes full of papers, and other items suddenly appeared in the hall. We had a big shredding container brought upstairs and we not only filled it, but we filled it with so much paper that the axle of the wheels was bending and the rubber wheels were tilted sideways.

It was a perfect cleaning day, too: overcast, drizzly, and cool, which was a mixed blessing, especially during rush hour (it took me 75 minutes to get home and it was barely drizzling), as noted in Holiday Harbour.

However, I finally cleaned out the bottom drawer of my black filing cabinet of old course information (instruction books for WP5.1, WP for Windows, Paradox, etc. included), just keeping the contract law materials and the ICE instruction manual, and some old reference stuff going back to when I started here in 1988. I also finally got rid of my rubber stamps, a sorta-fond memory of the days in PAB, and a clunky old rack I used to use to hold invoices. The old order changeth...

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» Monday, October 10, 2011
Assault on Clutter
Woke to a damp-scented morning, a precursor to the afternoon, when we eventually did have some rain. The breeze picked up a bit, too, leaving us to enjoy a nice cool evening later on. It was just perfect for sleeping in on a holiday. After breakfast I attempted to tidy the craft room, but surrendered after putting some jewelry pieces away and indexing and shelving some cross-stitch magazines.

I had an idea to dub off the first three episodes of this season's Castle while looking through some catalogs before throwing them away. Halfway through the first catalog I just said "screw it" and tossed them all. I did get the coffee table partially clean, so that was a plus.

While finishing Castle I had some goat cheese and crackers with milk for lunch, then went to tackle the spare room closet. This has been a thorn in my side for some months. It hadn't reached the proportions of the McGees' hall closet, but lately every time I went in there Clay's gift fell over and blocked the door. The Christmas and birthday gifts I've been accumulating all year needed to be tucked away in the boxes, and that was done (Clay's went on the shelf). Then I emptied out the left side of the closet, which included two boxes of software and manuals that we haven't used since we moved into the house. It's time for them to go, so those were left out. I rearranged the other boxes back in the corner, shifted the vaporizers and CD cases on the shelf so that I could put the bag of party supplies on the shelf next to the paper party supplies (instead of it sitting out on the floor of the room itself), and then spent a half hour folding tissue paper and the heavier waxed paper Hobby Lobby wraps around glass items so they would lay flat and go into one big bag instead of four. I also used some wire to hang the mailing tape and labels from the rod so they would be readily available for mailing projects.

An unexpected bonus: the Dyson now fits in the closet, too!

I discovered that Animal Planet was running Animal Cops: Houston this afternoon and we watched it through early evening. I'm a bit miffed because I have the DVR set up to record all of the Animal Cops series if the episodes are new, but these appear to be 2011 episodes and they've never recorded. Grrr.

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Please, Mr. Columbus...
From the late, great Lou Monte:



Grazie, paisano!

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» Sunday, October 09, 2011
Food'n'Festivals
 
We swapped sleep-in days.

Yep, yesterday we slept in, and I do mean that: got up at 10:30 and took so much time over breakfast we didn't go out until 11:30. Since we both had prescriptions to drop off at Kroger, we did so, then went to Publix for twofers (except they only had two boxes of oatmeal left, but that was enough for work—we did get Hallowe'en candy, though), then came back to get the rest of the Kroger things and our meds. We were home just in time for James to go to his IPMS meeting while I worked on a few things including wrapping two gifts, as we were off to dinner later at Longhorn to celebrate two birthdays: Jessie, who just turned 18 and John, who is [mumblety]. Special guests were: the Lawsons! We hadn't seen them in ages: they've been remodeling parts of their house and have been on a cruise. (While we were looking at Sue's Facebook posts of the cruise, suddenly we also had messages from Juanita, who was on a different cruise—since Rodney took a cruise earlier this year, it appears it's going around. Jen and Mike even spent some time on the water during their honeymoon, but they were in a canoe, not a ship. Please note: this is not contagious. We don't intend to be on the water when we go on vacation. <g> )

So we came home from dinner and rested up—even got off chat early, which is a miracle—since this morning's alarm was set for 7 a.m.

Well, okay, I set it for 7 a.m., but it reverted to the original setting of 7:30...I was awakened by James at 7:24, saying it was 7:30. !@#%!@!$%! alarms! You would not believe how quickly we got out of the house. Even with walking the dog we were on the road by eight.

We usually go to the Georgia Apple Festival on the second weekend, but James has to work next Sunday and next weekend is so busy it will make my head spin, so today was our chosen expeditionary day. We lucked out as in two years ago and got a nice day for it; it never got over 70°F and there was a nice breeze, plus it was cloudy (of course, since we remembered our hats!). We made it up to Ellijay in 70 minutes (and that included stopping for gasoline and eats at the QuikTrip—no oatmeal, but I found a container of Mandarin oranges, a piece of sharp cheddar cheese, and a Lunchables package; James just had a couple of burritos).

We parked at a new place, "Huckleberry Holler," which is a country play park mostly for the kids: petting zoo, little pumpkin patch, recumbent bikes in place of go-karts around a perimeter walled by hay bales, hay rides, a corn maze, and shooting corn cobs with some type of air bazooka at a target. From there you walked over a new little bridge dedicated to service veterans that crossed the creek and led right into the back of the Lions' Club fairgrounds where they hold the Apple Festival. We walked among the craft exhibits for about ninety minutes, buying the last of our Ginny's fudge for the year, something called "Christmas Chocolate" (hot chocolate mix, very dark chocolate with a hint of mint), and jelly from the folks at A Screw Loose: the basalmic jelly with garlic they told us about last year, which is great as a finishing sauce on meat (their regular balsamic is super on lamb) and coffee jelly! Woohoo! Let's declare these folks honorary Rhode Islanders!

(And I was thinking...if you bought some Nutella, and then used it on sandwich bread along with the coffee jelly...[insert George Takei's voice here: "Oh, myyyyyy..."])

Instead of buying our apples at the festival and tote a peck of them across the fairgrounds, we just decamped and went to the apple store, Panorama Orchards. A bag of fresh onions, a peck of Granny Smith apples, a homemade apple pie, three jars of fruit only spread (cranberry, blackberry, and strawberry), a carob-and-peanut butter treat for Willow, and a little packet of sugar-free peanut brittle (peanuts predominate!) later...

Had to have one of those apples the moment we got in the truck. Don't know what those waxy things are that they sell in the supermarket are, but they're certainly not fresh apples. This thing crunched with a satisfying snap when you bit into it and it was just sour enough, a yummy sour with no trace of bitterness. Oh, yum!

We brought the produce home, then took Twilight out for a run out to Betsy's Hallmark, where the next in the series of "ornament premieres" was taking place. I had ten dollars worth of coupons, so we got the new "Nautilus" ornament (from Disney's version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and the first segment of their new wireless "Peanuts" musical ornaments. This is Schroeder playing piano; the rest of the quartet is Lucy and Charlie Brown playing other instruments, and Snoopy playing sax (of course) being released about every two-three weeks until December 1. They each play several songs, then when linked together play all the songs, in a neat cool-jazz style. I wasn't interested in buying them until I heard the jazz music.

Then we made the mistake of stopping at the new Whole Foods across the parking lot and fell into the world of bulk foods. They have bulk grains, spices, nuts, dried fruits, some candies, flours, etc. We got more steel-cut oats, some nuts to go on the oats, some bulger wheat James wants to try, salad dressings that can double as marinades, and various other small things, including some soup and some "sweet-and-sour" chicken for dinner.

So we spent the whole day with nice open windows, enjoying the day and listening to a combination of backlogged episodes of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and episodes of The Splendid Table, and were ravenous come suppertime. The chicken tasted more like chicken cacciatore than sweet-and-sour, but it was quite good, even for chicken breast, and the soup was delicious. Now off to watch last week's PanAm before this week's airs...

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