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» Sunday, January 27, 2013Challenger
WPBA showed the short film based on the story told here last night:
Greater Heights: Video Recalls Shuttle Victim Who Touched the Stars
I can remember that day like it was yesterday
Challenger Disaster Live on CNN
46 Years Ago Today
Sleeping late: priceless.
But then the Sunday chores begin: parcel out medicine for the week in their little compartments, hang out my clothes for the week, toss the towels in the hamper for washing on Tuesday (ditto nightshirt and this week's house clothes). Next breakfast, then the weekly grocery trip: twofers at Publix, followed by staples at Kroger. We did find some nice watermelon chunks, though.
Once that was put up, we went to do a couple of errands. We had a Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon, so we bought a small coffee grinder. We don't drink coffee, but we have bought some flaxseed to use as a supplement, and we needed a grinder for it.
We also each had a 50 percent off coupon for a local store, and I was able to pick up a Christmas gift, and we had a treat: I had a coupon for Baskin-Robbins: buy one cone, get a second for 99¢.
When we got home I decided to make an inventory of all the Christmas gifts I have so far, as my list has become outdated. Quite happy to discover I already have shopping done for at least four people and parts of other gifts starting to come together.
And that was our day. James has been sneezing and feeling bad all day, and I keep having chills. We had found some barbecue on twofer at Publix. It wasn't Lloyd's, which is too sweet and has too little meat, so we figured we'd try it. Alas, also too sweet and too finely pulled, so it's pretty much glop. We won't buy it again.
» Saturday, January 26, 2013Itchy Feet
It turned into a dreadful week at work. I had to throw a lot of effort into something that, in the end, I had to turn over to my team lead. It would have caused a serious problem otherwise. In the end, Alan at least stopped what would have been a critical event, although the total problem is not resolved. Plus we had the whole scare about possible freezing rain falling on Friday morning. It rained a little, but nothing freezing.
Didn't set the alarm last night and we actually slept until almost ten o'clock! This afternoon we did something different: went to the Atlanta RV show. We got there about noon and there was a big long line at the exit, since the exhibition center was right at that corner—unfortunately it was across the street. So James had to maneuver into the left turn lane almost immediately, and we inched behind the line of cars, having to park at the very back of the building.
However, the very long line around the side of the building went very quickly (a lot more quickly than the old line at DragonCon, that's for sure). While we were waiting the Lawsons arrived—they love camping and always come to the RV shows. So, pray tell, what are we doing here? We sure have no money for an RV and nowhere to keep it. Well, it was something to do, we love the annual RV program on HGTV, and we wondered...if we had just a little money, what could our truck pull?
Well, not really much. One of the vendors told us the max pull on the Tacoma is probably 3500 pounds. So we'd have to have something very small and very light.
We did find some cute little guys: a few A-frame popups, and also a cute little thing called an "ebug" or something like that. The one they had was cramped and had bunks in it for kids, but you can get them without.
After that we clambered in and out of larger units, one we would need a full-sized pickup truck to pull, and the fold-out campers with the screened sleeping areas. Again, these were mostly affordable. About 1:30 we stopped for a hot dog and bottled water, then I said to James, "Okay, I've been to Tomorrowland. Now I want to go to Fantasyland and ride Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." :-)
So we went looking through the expensive units, the ones that no way in hell could we ever afford, including two all-in-one units that cost more than the original price of our house (and several that cost what our house is valued at now [wince]). These were veritable palaces. Several had [small] walk-in closets and electric fireplaces. There were units that had the master suite "upstairs" (up a couple of steps). three or four actually had full-sized refrigerators.
We were sitting up in the front seats of a quite nice unit, with a swivel chair behind us, a nice little kitchen and all, and I said to James that I wished we could just drive off it, swing by the house to pick up the fids and some clothes and just go. I'm so abominably restless. Nothing seems to suit anymore. I just want to spread my wings and fly.
But of course we didn't go anywhere. We just walked around until five o'clock and then went home, after picking up dinner at Dragon.
Sigh. So many places to go and no way to get there...
» Monday, January 21, 2013Taking Stock
Back to the routine: we were up Saturday morning to go to the Farmer's Market. It was cool but not cold, another lovely winter day, and we bought a pot pie, more cookies for Willow, a vegetable/couscous medley for dinner, some grape tomatoes, and James' chicken salad.
After those items were put up, we did some tidying in the bedroom. James had finished a bunch of books that needed to be out of the bedroom and downstairs shelved in the library. Evidently we haven't done this for a while, because the books three-quarter filled one of those new 66-quart storage boxes! I vacuumed the area and then piled new books for him to read. The books are downstairs to be shelved.
James went off to his club meeting and I should have either done more housework or put up the winter park on the china cabinet, but instead I was restless and went off to the Avenue at West Cobb to poke around the Barnes & Noble. Found a book to put away for a gift, two cross-stitch magazines, and also found a book about World War I as portrayed in the media of the time affecting how we perceive it. This is a British book filled with recruiting posters, poetry, newspaper illustrations, etc. and looks fascinating. I was reading a couple of blogs talking about Rilla of Ingleside and wonder if there's any nonfiction around about the homefront in World War I. There are several about the second World War (I have several of them), but I've never seen one about the first. Also stopped at Target to see if they had three-foot extension cords with regular plugs. I can never find anything in Target, and today was no exception. As far as I can tell, they had no extension cords at all. At Walmart they are with the light bulbs and the timers and the electrical fixtures.
Had supper at Giovanni's. Came home. No one on chat. :-( Watched Hoarders—a depressing show at any time—and read my magazines instead.
Sunday we drove up to BJs since they didn't have ScotTissue at Costco on Friday, stopping for breakfast at the IHOP across the street. It was very crowded, but the hostess and the servers were so efficient we did not have to wait long for a seat, nor for our meal. Having waited long times at other IHOPs, I was really impressed by the service. We left a good tip.
Found not only the ScotTissue, but a DVD set of The Flame Trees of Thika for only $10. On the way back we stopped at Barnes & Noble so that James could hunt up something to use his other coupon on. He found something on "the weapons that never were." Finally we had to stop at Kroger to pick up the usuals: milk, yogurt, Those Damn Bananas, etc.
Came home to discover that TCM was running a Danny Kaye film marathon with his daughter Dena commenting on some of the movies between showings. I was quite excited because Me and the Colonel was being aired next. This was a total departure for Kaye, who usually played loveable bumbling characters who sang complicated, tongue-twisting songs (written for him by his wife) in Technicolor brilliance. Colonel was filmed in black and white, the story of S.L. Jacobowsky, a Polish Jew trying to escape Paris as the Nazis approach. His only hope is a anti-Semetic Polish colonel, played over-the-top by Curt Jurgens, and his aide (Akim Tamiroff), who finally agrees to take Jacobowsky in the automobile he commandeers from him (Jacobowsky has the only gasoline), but who then goes behind enemy lines to rescue his French girlfriend. It's a very slow-moving film, but I love it because Kaye's character is so gentle and resourceful rather than manic, and there still is humor, but not the type that is a belly-laugh.
This was followed by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which is more classic Kaye. I'm a fan of the Thurber story and think the movie is a bit stupid (so did Thurber, who begged Samuel Goldwyn not to make it), but it looks nice. And next was Hans Christian Andersen, another classic, especially for the songs, which everyone remembers: "Inchworm," "Thumbelina," "The Ugly Duckling," the title tune, and "No Two People Have Been So in Love." The title card admits freely that it is not a true biography, but "a fairy tale" based on Andersen's life. I'd like it better except for the ballet. I admire ballet dancers, who are true athletes, and ballet scores are lovely, but ballet itself bores me silly. Anyway, Mike and I were discussing this one last week on chat, so I wanted to give it another look. Great color, great Kaye, super songs, snoozy ballet. :-)
Slept in this morning while James went off to work, at least until eight o'clock, then had breakfast and began doing some chores. I was vacuuming when I swore I could hear the garage door, but dismissed the thought. It was the garage door; it was so slow at work because everyone was either off for the holiday or for the inauguration that James was sent home. He modeled most of the afternoon; except for when I went out for gasoline, I was dubbing off Castle and also three episodes of Best Defense. During dinner we watched last week's Hawaii Five-0 until it was time for Jeopardy and Antiques Roadshow. Hope to watch the Sunday episode that aired when AR is over.
I am, meanwhile, happily reading a book called Heidi's Alp, which was discussed on one of my book blogs, the story of a British family who borrowed a camper van and drove through Europe looking for the sites of children's literature: the Holland of Hans Brinker, the Pied Piper of Hamelin...and the landscape of Hans Christian Andersen's Denmark! Felt right at home after last night. Terrific travelogue and discussion of books.
» Friday, January 18, 2013Eat, Play...Assemble?
It isn't often James works a weekend day and then gets a day off that coincides with my compressed day off, so we took advantage of today.
First we got some well-deserved rest. It has been a miserable week, four straight days of rain, and I have been on edge because of the reorganization at work. Well, they finally broke the news to us this week. They're splitting Grants and Contracts apart again, which is sensible. That's the way things ran when I joined CDC. They're both methods of acquisition, but they're like apples and oranges: both fruits, but completely different.
Sadly, Small Purchases is going to be consolidated again, which, again, is the way it was when I first joined CDC. I am sorry for this because I will really miss the people I am working with. They have been a great bunch of people.
I managed to get things done despite the cold rain making me feel stupid and cross-eyed. Yesterday we had snow approaching us—this is after it was 70°F on Sunday!—but by the time it was cold enough here, the storm had passed us by.
This morning you could have never told we had four days of miserable weather: The sky was painted a bright blue devoid of any cloud, and it was briskly cold, in the 30s. We had breakfast and then went out to Publix, where there was a generous supply of twofers this week: instant oatmeal, Honey Nut Cheerios, Smart Balance, etc. We filled four fabric grocery bags.
After we had put the groceries away, it was time to have some fun. We drove out to the Barnes & Noble at Perimeter Mall. We had coupons and just wanted to go to a different store. Found a cool book about children living in the city at the turn of the last century, and the newest "Just Cross Stitch." We had lunch at the cafe, a nice cup of potato soup with oyster crackers (James also had a sandwich), and split a cookie.
We also stopped at Costco. I'd intended to buy toilet paper, but they didn't have Scot Tissue any longer. Grump. James did get chili and mushrooms.
We made it through I-285 before rush hour got bad and came home past Lowes.
Since we moved into the house, we have had a large plastic container (larger than the 66 quart ones Publix was selling on twofer several weeks ago; I think these are more like 100 quart, and I use three others for Christmas decorations, one for the Hallowe'en decor, and a fifth for the Thanksgiving stuff) sitting in our bedroom closet, full of kitchen things we can't fit in our tiny kitchen, mostly things I got from my mom's house: Corningware casseroles and a roaster as well as a carving set from Imperial Knife, where my Uncle Brandy used to work, plus an enameled turkey roaster we got from our late friend Diane, and some Christmas cookie cutters. On top of it we had a stuffed full container of holiday linens. It was hard to get in and out of.
Well, at Lowes I bought a nine-compartment storage shelf (of a lighter brown color than the image linked) and four canvas containers in red, green, light blue, and dark blue. Once we arrived home, I started assembling it. I don't think James expected that, as it was almost suppertime. But it was very easy, except for one recalcitrant screw, which we were able to finish hammering in. And then we pulled the plastic container out of the corner, put the shelves in the corner, and set things in the cubicles: the Corningware casseroles in one, the electric skillet in another, the roasting set in a third. The Christmas linens are in the green container, the fall ones in the red container, the paltry two Easter towels in the pale blue one, and the dark blue one is empty right now except for some shammy cloths. The turkey platter and the serving tray for the Corningware casserole I had to set on top of the shelves. Other things that didn't have a place are also tucked here and there.
To access the cubbies, we had to move a small, three cubby shelf that held some old things we didn't need anymore. It now holds spare light bulbs, empty cases, a nice portfolio James brings to interviews, and his C-PAP case, and the floor of the closet is nice and clean. We do have to finish our "bug out" bags and the one for the animals, but they are now tucked out of the way.
Had supper, then James headed down to the "man cave" for some modeling time (his meeting is tomorrow). I'm upstairs blogging and watching television: had Hoarders on, and then a couple of Lassie reruns, and am now watching Elementary.
» Saturday, January 12, 2013A Saturday Abroad
So I tastefully arranged myself sidesaddle on my vacuum cleaner...
Well, really, it seemed as if I had ought to; I've used it enough since last week to consider it a vehicle! Really, I feel like La Befana!
When it was well and truly time to put the vacuum cleaner up, I did so with relief. James was required to tramp off to work this morning, but today was the first BritTrack Meet'n'Greet of the season and I didn't intend to miss it. Have seen these folks only on Facebook since September (except for Caro and Jason, who we bumped into at Garden Ridge while space tree shopping). So I set out on my journey intown by stopping at the Smyrna Library for a long reason I won't bore you with. While the Smyrna Library is in Cobb County, it's not part of the Cobb County library system. While I was in there trying to use the wifi, I discovered that instead of having a Friends of the Library book sale twice a year like Cobb County does, they have three shelves permanently set up as "Friends of the Library" sales shelves. There are also sometimes records and tapes, but mostly books. Surprisingly, a bunch of these books were brand new, and I found four that I can put away as Christmas gifts! I also got a copy of the AP stylebook for only a quarter. A serendipitous stop, I'd say.
Then I drove out to the Marlay House, which is an Irish pub at the edge of downtown Decatur. Since it was [insufferably] warm today, the streets were alive with walkers and bicyclists. I have no idea why they prefer walking/riding in such miserable weather, but that's just me. Anyway, arrived at the Marlay House and saw a bunch of familiar faces! Surprise! It was the Tolkien fan group! The BritTrack folks were in the rear (although after the Tolkien group broke up a lot of them wandered back to our group).
Anyway, we had a great time. I made the mistake of having an appetizer: a cup of "New England clam chowder." Think about the normal type of clam chowder you're offered in the typical restaurant, gloppy, white, minimal clams (if any; James and I once ate in a Shoney's where the "chowda" was as thin as milk and had no clams in it at all), and little diced potatoes. This had clams in it, bacon, and big chunks of potato, something in every spoonful, and was a nice light beige color, with a satisfying, rich taste. as if it had clam broth in it. And bread to dunk in it, too. So when my lamb stew came around I barely ate a few forkfuls and asked for a container instead. (Since James asked me to bring him a Shepherd's pie, now we both have something for supper on Sunday.) Eventually we had fourteen people, all talking about Doctor Who or DragonCon or British TV programming. About halfway through the afternoon, Rob Bowen's girlfriend remembered she had left something in the car she wanted to give to one of the ladies in the group.
Instead she came back with a birthday cake for Rob, which she had in the car they'd both driven to the pub in. And he didn't know it! I like this woman! He's turning 42 in a week or two, so the cake said "Of course the answer is..." with a "4" candle and a "2" candle. She also gave him a T-shirt that did a riff on the milk commercials which said "Got 42?"
It all broke up about 4:30 and I headed home. James was already in and had walked the dog by the time I got in. We went to supper at IHOP—we like eating off the senior menu; it's enough and cheap!—and then came home. Nothing really to do unless we want to go to Barnes & Noble...said while I sadly remember all those Friday and Saturday nights at Borders, bumping into the Butlers or the Boroses or the Spiveys. All the best people hung out in Borders. :-)
(I wonder what happened to Shaun, who used to work at the Austell store.)
So now I'm on chat...
Can't See the House for the Trees
James said to me Thursday night, "What are your plans for tomorrow?" I answered: "Deforestation."
Let's rewind a bit. Christmastide and Epiphany being over, it was time for the melancholy to commence and for the decorations to return to hibernation (I tell Schuyler this with a straight face: if the Christmas tree doesn't hibernate until next year, it loses its Christmas magic). Monday I was back to work and it took me two hours just to wade through accumulated e-mail. (Eighty percent of it was junk mail, too.) Tuesday I teleworked, and, although there was plenty of work to keep me busy, there was lunch hour and after work to accomplish taking down and boxing the ceppo, plus the small things on the kitchen shelf. Then I took a few things off the new dining room shelves and containerized them. Next I boxed up the Rudolph stuffed figures and the "Peanuts" band and the few other knicknacks on the TV stand with the mantel garland, deer, Christmas card string, and berry wreath, and then containerized the woodland tree ornaments and its surrounding decorations (the tree itself goes in the box with the library tree and the airplane tree). Finally, I boxed up the Christmas stuffed animals, two pillows, and the throw. This sounds like it would really take a long time, but putting away is much easier than putting up because you must make them look pretty when you set up. Putting away is just folding, rolling, and tucking!
I did do something at lunch I had needed to do. I had five village figurines that had grey bases instead of white ones, like the rest of the figurines, so I painted them with Plaid white and then sprinkled them with a glitter that has the look of snowflakes. They were tiny bases and my brush made quick work of it.
Wednesday I was back to the office with some calculation to do: since the President had given us Christmas Eve off, anyone who took leave on that day got the leave back. I had five hours of "use or lose" (literally—you either take the time off or you forfeit it) left, and had thought about taking it Friday, with three other hours to make the day. Instead now I had eight more hours to contend with. But for my "deforestation" project, it was perfect. I submitted a leave slip for Friday, then had to decide to do with the rest. In the end, I donated two hours to the leave donation program (people who are out on emergency leave and have run out of leave days of their own) and took the other three Thursday afternoon.
This gave me time to get the Rudolph tree down and boxed (also Schuyler's decorations). I'm a lazy bum with the Rudolph tree; now that it's decorated all I do is wrap bubble wrap around it tightly and tape it, and then lay it in the box. Next year I just put it up, unwrap it, and straighten out what's come loose.
Next I took all the decorations out of the spare room and put them up, then started on the long haul, clearing the kitchen and dining room. This takes time because I must divest the feather tree (1950s ornaments), the "1910 tree" (little one with vintage looking but plastic ornaments), the gingerbread shelves in the kitchen, all the little odds and ends put up (like kitchen magnets), the pass-through "prim" decorations, and the decorations on the table and the console. The hard part is getting it all to fit back into the box!
I also took down all the door wreaths upstairs and replaced them with the usual fall-themed wreaths, and took the window candles down, then took that box downstairs and did the same thing downstairs. Finally I boxed up the village while James was cooking. Again, hardest part is taking the buildings down and separating them with bubble wrap. The little figures are then set in the space left in the center, and the trees gathered up and put in another pile.
Friday I slept in as late as I dared. I threw caution and my arthritis to the wind and just did it. Started at nine and ended at five, taking an hour break for lunch. It wasn't the most pleasant of days to be taking down decorations, as a warm front was moving in. I already had most of the windows open. This is why I started by taking down the decorations down in the foyer first, since it would be the warmest there later on. Every time I went upstairs, I would get to the third step from the top and the humid, warm air would hit me in the face like a wet washcloth. Upstairs my slippered feet were sticking to the carpeting. Ugh.
In progression, I took down the space tree (literally, since it was mounted to the wall!), putting the ornaments into boxes and putting all those boxes into a larger box that I use simply for decoration, thereby making use of it twice. Then, whoosh, I flew through the airplane tree (well, not that fast, as some of those ornaments are pretty fragile) and put the little candlestick lamp back on that table and reset the timer, which I have on when we leave for work and again when we come home, as it's pretty dark down there on those early mornings and on rainy evenings.
Finally it was time to tackle the library tree and library decorations (and manage to fit them all back into the same boxes...LOL). I was actually astonished that I managed to do this at all, since the airplane tree and the woodland tree also go in that box.
At noon I decided to eat something and take a break, and decide whether I wanted to take down the main tree. I had some toast (I see A Discovery of Witches still has me under a spell), then took three Ibuprofin and lay down for a half hour, and decided at 1:45...let's go for it. I got done at five o'clock. It took me a bit longer than usual because I put new hooks on every single ornament (about 215 of them). Some of the hooks were awful, cheap ones I got...somewhere, really thin wire, less than 26 gauge, I think—I have stronger floral wire! The new hooks were green, bought at Walgreens after Christmas at half price. The longer ones were so-so, but the short ones appeared sturdy.
At 4:30 I was finally at the back of the tree and gave James a call, wondering if he would pick up Chinese at Dragon. By the time he got home with the Sa-Cha beef (his) and the pork fried rice (mine), I was finished, and pretty exhausted. I would have quit there, but the job's not over until it's over. After dinner, James helped me lug all the boxes still upstairs downstairs to the storage closet and put them up on shelves in their proper order, then struggled with getting the tree down the stairs and through that narrow closet door. We covered it with its plastic cover, and then pushed it into the corner, where I'd already propped up the space tree and its corresponding extension cord and timer. (With the tree down, I could also finish removing the decorations that were on the divider to the open foyer and the garland hung underneath with "Bandit's angels" on them. These were tucked away in the space left in one of the boxes, and put away before the tree.)
We had ice cream for dessert to reward ourselves, and then I pulled out the vacuum cleaner and at least vacuumed the living room area so we could put the rocking chair back into its place in the corner where the tree had been.
And when James brought the big white board that sits on the mantelpiece to hold the village downstairs and put that up in the closet, we were done, done, done!
Of course the rest of the carpet was still a wreck, with "pine needles" and tinsel and bits of glitter everywhere. I dispatched that early this morning, starting upstairs with the bedrooms, then the dining room, then the stairs, working my way down to the foyer and then the hallway, and finally down to the library, where I moved the rocker and hassock and end table back into place, and vacuumed, vacuumed, vacuumed until it was all done.
Now to put up the winter decorations...LOL.
» Sunday, January 06, 2013So Long Until Tomorrow
So the lights go out at the end of another holiday season. I'm now ready for my post-Christmas depression.
Of course this year I never got over last year's Christmas depression...
End of season summary in Holiday Harbour.
» Wednesday, January 02, 2013Party Prep 1
This would have gone a lot faster if I hadn't wasted at least ninety minutes in the bathroom this morning. Apparently the crud going around finally got to me. (And at least I wasn't at work, suffocating in a ninety-degree stall. Air circulation in the third-floor bathroom is a joke.)
However, I did wash three loads of clothes, got the downstairs bathroom ready for company, washed the hall floor downstairs, put a bunch of things away, cataloged cross-stitch magazines that have been sitting around since last spring so I could put them away, collected plastic bags for recycling, backed up my hard drive, and, finally felt well enough about three o'clock to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond to use a couple of coupons before they died. James needed a new canister for his Soda Stream and I just went ahead and bought a bath sheet for James' recliner. We had a recliner set (seat cover, footrest cover, armrest covers) for years from Harriet Carter. When it wore out, we ordered another. It hadn't been on the chair for a month before it started to shed, and when I washed it, more of the "fleece" fell off. Evidently Harriet Carter has a new, cheap-ass supplier. A towel won't look as "fitted," but it will be easier to pull off and wash, and it can't possibly shed any faster! I picked one in a nice autumn-y burnt orange.
There's still so much to tidy up; it's not dirt, it's just...stuff!
When James got home, we finally put our new license plates on the car. He got the "plain" one with the one peach, and I got the fancy one with the peaches and the peach trees. We were nonplussed to see that we have new license numbers. Arrrgh! And I hadn't memorized the last one yet!
We ate leftovers for supper in a further party clean-up measure. It wasn't a cheerful supper; there are layoffs where James works. He was told his job is safe, but his supervisor privately advised him to "start looking around" just in case. Urgh.
» Tuesday, January 01, 2013Best Wishes for 2013!