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» Tuesday, September 29, 2015
FOR TODAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015
Outside my window...
...cloudy, misty, and a bit dreary, but at least it's only in the 70s. 90s and sunny is not better! No breeze, either, so the drooping leaves of the trees in the back are just bowing soddenly.
I am thinking...
...not anything important. This morning I made sure all my purchase orders that were competed on GSA schedule were listed as closed, and then I started working on automatic closeouts again (we have to fill out a form to transfer the file to the file room).
I am thankful...
...end of fiscal year is over. It didn't get as hairy as last year, thankfully, because I couldn't have borne it if it had. Strange things happen anyway. This morning I found out the warehouse isn't taking delivery of copiers anymore. Who knew?
In the kitchen...
...some big chicken drumsticks are thawing. I love these drumsticks from Sprouts. You get a full meal and sometimes even a sandwich out of them. Thinking of how to season them, but I'll probably just use a little salt and a little ginger.
I am wearing...
...navy blue tank top, aqua shorts, and white socks, with scuffs. Looking forward to be able to wear my "Mutts" pajamas again.
I am creating...
...LOL—lots of sheets of paper! I still have about 180 of these closeout things to go. Finished a Christmas gift. I should work on a little gift I want to give.
I am going...
...to have to get cracking on some chores. I need to scan something to the insurance company. I still haven't mailed off the check to get a new copy of my birth certificate. Plus I need to call to get the furnace serviced and the ducts cleaned. Alice has recommended their service, Peachtree, so I need to call them. And the carpet still needs cleaning...
I am wondering...
...whether to do something special, like a group dinner, for our anniversary, and maybe for my birthday. It's our silver this year, and, good grief, I'm going to be sixty!
I am reading...
...The Complete Days by H.L. Mencken. Love his command of language and his tart comments about society. The casual racism is still disturbing, but it's a true picture of "the olden days," rather than the whitewashed version you get from modern books and films. I'm also in the middle of several other books, including one on the story of writing, another about World War I sites you can visit in the US and in Europe, one of Harry Potter essays, and even a couple more.
I am hoping...
...for open-window weather soon! Until it goes under 60°F at night, it's too warm on the second story to sleep with the windows open (even with the three fans going!).
I am looking forward to...
...the Georgia Apple Festival. That's a weekend from now. This weekend is the penultimate "ornament premiere" at Hallmark (yeah, they do another one now, in November; let's milk this for all it's worth).
I am learning...
...not to take up any more hobbies! I need to finish the projects in my craft room first!
Around the house...
...I'm working and listening to "The Tech Guy," whilst Snowy sings along. Tucker is asleep in James' chair. During lunch I cleaned out two bathrooms. Fun stuff! :-)
I am pondering...
...anniversary surprises. There is one. :-)
A favorite quote for today...
"We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage. We will welcome summer's ghost." . . . . . Henry Rollins
One of my favorite things...
...Doctor Simon Locke, which is about to conclude (on Thursday I think, on Friday if I'm lucky, and that's a long story) its fourth rotation on RetroTV.
A few plans for the rest of the week:
More closeouts! Not sure what we've planned for the weekend.
A peek into my day...
...it's FALL, y'all!
If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.
Labels: Simple Woman's Daybook
» Sunday, September 27, 2015On a Cloudy Sunday at the End of September
Oh, I would have liked to have slept later, but my left knee was bugging me and James was already awake and snatching a bit of breakfast. After dog-walking was concluded, I swallowed the last of the milk and a BelVita bar, and we went grocery shopping, first to Publix to get a couple of twofers and something James needed that's only at Publix, and then over to Kroger, where I went inside and shopped while James bought gasoline. Got the usual necessities of life (milk, bread for my sandwiches at work, yogurt, a few other things) and was out of there as soon as I could.
As soon as we had all the stuff put away, we could go and have a little fun. James hadn't hit the 20 off member discount at Barnes & Noble yet, so we tootled over to the Akers Mill store. They hadn't changed out their magazines since last week, and we saw the same old books. So we left there and headed to the branch at Town Center instead, which has the best magazine selection (at least the best cross-stitch selection, although the craft magazine section has now been half taken over by coloring books). I found the new "Country Sampler" and two cross-stitch magazines, and picked up a remainder copy of Jim Henson's biography. James found a book he had seen on Facebook called Ingredients, which tells you about each of the common ingredients that go into food, from niacin and ascorbic acid to MSG and carrageenen and shellac. It shows a picture and even the chemical formula.
We came home through the battlefield park, noticing the touch of autumn that has been lightly brushing the trees. While most of the trees are still green, some have a light golden glow about them, the tulip trees have leaves actively turning yellow, the younger maples have branches with leaves that are turning reddish. The jogging trails under the trees are already scattered with fallen leaves. The homes along Kennesaw Avenue look no different but already wear a somber air of autumn, and there are already joggers scattering early-fallen leaves.
We had a couple of hours to check out our new purchases and play fetch with Tucker, then went out to a happy event: David Gibson's birthday party at Longhorn. It was a big happy party of twenty and we ate and chattered and laughed and looked sober and passed around the cards and enjoyed each other's company.
Came home for the usual evening dog walk and continued watching From the Earth to the Moon. I confess, we skipped the Apollo 13 episode, not because I don't like it, but because I can't stand the way Emmett Seaborn gets crushed by that asshole young reporter. Won't be able to finish up tonight, though.
» Saturday, September 26, 2015Dampened but Undampered
So James was off to work this morning. He didn't have to be in until ten, so we got to sleep fairly late, if you think 8:30 is late, that is. Once again I helped him with the chair, and then started washing the comforter from the bed. I figured if I washed the comforter, then washed the bedclothes as I dried the comforter, I could go to Hair Day for a little while. Juanita was making chicken and I have something I want to take to Neil.
However, I never did get there. I discovered all those scraps of paper the dog has hidden under the bed over the last year (more scraps of paper, anyway; I thought I'd cleaned up almost all of them) and had to get it gathered up. My God, and I thought Schuyler could shred! After all that bending under the bed, I wasn't much in the mood to go anywhere.
Did a bunch of other things: finished a project, tidied up some things in the kitchen and unloaded the dishwasher, finally put the crackers and cookies from DragonCon away, concatenated some boxes, found a pouch I've been looking for, then went downstairs finally and dug out the fall decorations. I did the front porch (also trimming the nandina bushes out front so you could actually see the porch), then the foyer, and finally the dining room and the mantel. After I finished the front and the foyer, I ran in for my camera to take a couple of fall photos. It was raining and my old lens hood doesn't fit on my new camera, so I made a paper version just to get some shots without raindrops on the lens. It has pretty much been murky grey and raining all day, like yesterday not a hard rain but a steady light rain, and I had to take one photo of the drops on the firecracker bushes; they looked like glistening clear cabuchon stones on the leaves. I even managed to get Tucker to pose in the foyer and on the stairs.
Tucker slept almost the entire afternoon (except for five brief minutes when he sprang out of James' recliner like an avenging angel, barking and snarling; I looked out the front window, and yes, sure enough, the German Shepherd was being walked), and Snowy complained bitterly because I didn't have the television on. I read some H.L. Mencken for a while, then finally sat down with the computer and continued work on my Dan Palmer story and the next thing I knew it was after six and I needed to take the dog out again.
We had a dinner invitation for tomorrow night, but I had already picked up Italian wedding soup at Sprouts for Sunday supper. So I suggested to James, especially because of the constant rain, that we just have the soup for supper—it was a good soup night!—and he agreed, and that's what we did, enjoyed Italian wedding soup and watched tonight's episode of Doctor Who, which was a saga of a double cross, which turned into a triple cross, which turned into a corkscrew. Every time they made a hard left, my eyes popped a little more. Trust me, I had my eyes glued to the screen for the whole fifty minutes!
Later I put From the Earth to the Moon back on.
» Friday, September 25, 2015A Rainy Day in Buckhead-Town
Woke up three times last night; totally annoying. At least I was of some use the last time, which was 6:45 a.m.—James was still asleep! He should have been up for work a half hour earlier!
Since I was awake anyway, I pulled on my dog-walking duds and helped him load up the power chair, which saved him a few minutes, and he made it in the office with two minutes to spare. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I checked out something I'd recorded last night—except it didn't record properly. Bit pissed about it. So I did something happier and took Tucker out for a walk. Now that it's cooler I don't mind going. Will be happiest when it's cool enough that I don't have to change to go outside.
It was what the Irish call "a soft day" outside, a wet one that ranged from mizzle to drizzle to a light steady rain, but it never turned into the heavy, driving torrents we get during the summer, and it was never oppressively dark. Tucker didn't like it much, but we got round, and then I had breakfast.
Since Barnes & Noble is offering 20 percent off for members this weekend, I thought it would be a good day to go into Buckhead, as it's the only place I can find "This England." As always, the Buckhead store was warm with the scent of Starbuck's, except it always smells a little burnt to me. I did find the autumn issue of "This England," plus (finally) the autumn "Landlove," and "Blue Ridge Country" with leaf tours, and I bought an issue of "Outdoor Photographer" which talks about taking good photographs of autumn landscapes. "Country Sampler's" Christmas issue was out, so I got that as well, and just for the heck of it I bought Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow.
I hadn't been to Richard's in a while, so worked my way down to Peachtree Battle Shopping Center (still wistfully thinking about Oxford Books and Oxford Too). Richard's Variety Store is about as close as you can get to a five and ten anymore. They carry some hardware and cooking items, but mostly toys and cards and gag gifts, plus a smattering of books. I picked up some odd things: a new sponge saddle, reflector lights for James' power chair, some bumper stickers as gifts, and also the cutest card for our anniversary.
Finally I cut through the vintage Peachtree Hills neighborhood with its tiny homes and abundant gardens back to Piedmont Road via Lindbergh. This area has changed so much since I first started work at CDC. We used to come down to the KMart shopping center at Lindbergh and Sidney Marcus for Myriad lunch, either to the Shoney's or the Piccadilly Cafeteria, or the Chinese restaurant, a couple of times to the Russian restaurant. Binders, the art store, used to be there, too, and the KMart was two stories. When I first moved to Atlanta, James and I ate Thanksgiving dinner at that old Piccadilly and then went to see Oliver and Company. That's all gone: now it's swanky apartments for rich swells and a few stores and restaurants. Ironically, the old Shoney's building is still there, all boarded up, very surprising considering land values there now.
So, I drive to the Container Store on the corner of Piedmont and Peachtree, except it's not there. Yay, Waze to the rescue! North on Peachtree Road? Past Lenox Mall? On the right? It couldn't be...
Yes, actually it could. The Container Store is now in the old Borders Store. Thank God. It would have been horrible if it had been turned into a shoe store.
I picked up more carabinars, as they have proved to be useful, and also items to keep cords straight, and other little gadgets. Damn, they add up quickly. But I did find something I've been looking for for months, except I didn't know what they are called. Apparently now that I found them, I discovered they go by different names. I bought them under the name "Go Straps." It is a small strip that fastens to the back of your phone (or tablet). Attached to the strip is an elastic, so you can put a couple of fingers in it and hold the phone securely. I've been looking for them since I saw them at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation last year.
I was going to take the back way home, through the pretty streets of Brookhaven, past my favorite house, and through Chastain Park and Mount Paran Road. ("Mr. Inflatable" may even have his Hallowe'en decorations out by now!) Then my low gasoline light came on, and I figured the freeway might be the more direct route. Nope. Peachtree Dunwoody and the Glenwood Connector were all backed up because there was a horrendous mess on GA400: a Publix 18-wheeler delivery truck and a tanker truck both fell off the overpass of I-285 Westbound onto GA400. I went right by it caught in the detour traffic shunting everyone eastbound: the Publix truck was upside down in the middle of the road with cardboard boxes scattered around it, the tanker turned sideways on the slope down from the overpass. It looked like every police officer in DeKalb County was there. Absolutely frightening. Thankfully, no one was killed, not even the truck drivers.
Came home feeling the effects of little sleep. Put down my bags, checked to see if Tucker and Snowy were okay, and then lay down on the bed almost until James came home.
We went to Hibachi Grill for supper, but I was so sleepy I don't think I tasted anything. We also went to Best Buy to pick up a new charger for James. We found some inexpensive ones there on Saturday, and it turned out that by today they had moved them and we searched for a half hour before finding them in a far corner of the store. Came home, chilled out reading "Autumn Bliss" (from "Bliss Victoria" magazine) and listening to the instrumental Christmas music I bought at the Yellow Daisy Festival, Celtic harp with violin, viola, hammered dulcimer and pennywhistle. Some Celtic music in with the sweet standards.
When I took Tucker out for his final walk of the night it was still lightly. lightly mizzling. The streetlights turned the grass into diamond-strewn lawns, and our "firecracker" bushes on either side of the front steps had what looked like sparkling bits of stars dotted on the leaves.
Finally, parts two and three of "The Mind of Evil" on Doctor Who. The Master over Daleks any day, thank you.
» Sunday, September 20, 2015Do the Store Hop
"I wonder," James said upon awakening, "if Costco still has the three-pack of Flonase."
It's the sort of question that happens at 10:30 on a Sunday morning, when we've slept late after being up past one on Saturday night. In this case, it wasn't because I was on chat, but because James' tablet gave up the ghost and instead of spending a bunch of money on a new one, he just got a refurbished 12" Asus netbook with a Groupon coupon instead. He found most of what he was doing on it wasn't suited to a tablet, like reading the modeling web pages, and he wanted Windows functions instead of Android. It's light enough that he can turn it on its side like a big book if he wants to read the magazines he's subscribed to in Nook. But it only has a 32GB SSD card on it, and even when he tossed out all the pre-installed crap (like McAfee and the temp subscription to Microslop Office), it wouldn't load Win10; not enough room on the drive for the old Win8 files (like we would keep them, but...the only use for Win8 is downloading Win10 anyway).
He needed a micro SD card for it, and a dedicated thumb drive, and a mouse, so I used this massively cool app called Flipp that has been the only good suggestion I've ever gotten from "the dentist show" (a.k.a. Atlanta and Company on Channel 11, because every time I turn it on it seems they're discussing dental implants). This app collects all the Sunday flyers from the newspaper and puts them in a form where you can page through them. If you see something you like or need, you touch it and it "circles" it. Then when you're done you go into "my clippings" and there's everything you "circled" telling you what store it's at. First time I saw it I thought "What a perfect Black Friday app!"—except it doesn't tell you when the store opens. Beats cutting up the flyers like I've been doing and marking what store and what time. I found good deals on all three at Best Buy and a couple at Staples, so we headed for Best Buy as they were closer.
He found a very nice thumb drive on sale and it's no bigger than the dongle for a wireless mouse. Instead of his buying a mouse, I bought a smaller mouse for my netbook and he can have the larger mouse I'm using right now. But try as they might, they couldn't find the sale micro SD card. So, instead, we went to Microcenter. Not only did we find one at a better price, but I found a nice vertically-oriented belt carrier for my phone. I've been looking for one but they are always the wrong size. I bought a new "red dot" for the dog and a small flashlight to attach to the leash at night as well.
And then we went to Costco and got the Flonase, and some ibuprofin, and the milk. James got a second pair of slippers because he wears them all the time in the house and they just wear out, and, since my windbreaker has vanished, I bought one of the lightweight flannel shirts that are on sale to use for a light jacket instead. These are lovely shirts; we bought some for Christmas gifts last year. We also got another Christmas gift down. I think I have a half dozen or so to go. We enjoyed a couple of samples and cooling off inside the dairy room where they keep the milk and the eggs. I remember being so congested last year that this was the only place I could breathe properly
James stopped at Kroger for gas, so I went inside to get Those Damn Bananas, a few burritos for his breakfast, ice cream sandwiches for dessert, some cheese, and some chips for his chip container, and, oh, lovely, we could come home and undress and cool down. The temp outside was almost 90, but according to the thermometer in the back yard it was 102°F.
Spent the afternoon updating the little Asus and listening to music on the 50s/60s channel. Win10, as always, took forever to download. Later watched the Nova special about discovering the fossils of early man and last week's episode of Vicious. I really want Stuart and Freddy's apartment! :-)
» Saturday, September 19, 2015Two for the Price of One
So, since James didn't have to work today, we thought we'd take a different approach to Taste of Smyrna this year: we'd go when it opened and have lunch instead of dinner. This would keep us out of the hottest part of the day, since we weren't having nice temperatures in the 70s like last weekend. It would be a high of 87 instead—ugh! Since the event opened at eleven, we decided to get up at eight and go to the Farmer's Market, and then go to Taste of Smyrna afterwards.
We both got a crappy night's sleep. Honestly, I can sleep better in the daytime anymore than I can at night. I had four hours sleep and then I woke up with a stuffy nose and my mouth all dry, and then two hours later it happened again. Phooey! James had pains in his leg and was twitching half the night.
But we went to the Farmer's Market nevertheless and discovered the Street Fair going on, including a classic car show. We wandered among the Mustangs and the Chevys and the Fords, plush old Cadillacs and an Oldsmobile 88, and cars that had been "chopped and channeled" into roadsters. Someone had a Chevette there! I guess if I still had Misty now, he'd be a classic car. :-) The neatest thing was a Pierce Arrow Travel Lodge: a tiny little blue travel trailer from 1936! It had a bed at one end, a sink and a closet in the middle, and a little dinette at the end, almost like one today, but with nicer wood. It cost $600 new, which is probably what my dad was making per year back in 1936 (he started working in 1927).
From looking at the cars we strolled through the booths, which ranged from children's toys to little fall items to beauty helps, and finally we found the Farmer's Market proper squeezed in down at Mill Street. We bought some desserts for next week, including some scones, and I got a loaf of French bread. Saw the teeniest Yorkshire terrier, I don't think it weighed a pound. Another woman was being hauled down the street by two huskies, one of which was making his pleasure with the crowd known very vocally.
On the way back through the opposite side of the booths we stopped at one selling balsamic vinegars and flavored olive oils. We tries one that was cranberry orange and it was just fantastic, especially with the lemon olive oil. Now that we bought it we need to go to the Buford Highway Farmer's Market, because it's the only place I can find frisee, and the oil and vinegar will taste fantastic with frisee. We also bought a chocolate vinegar. We looked at each other and said "lamb"! It will make a fantastic finishing sauce for lamb or beef.
We put the items in an insulated bag and went off to Taste of Smyrna after a brief stop at Publix for "visiting Mrs. Murphy" and cash, arriving about 11:35. There were tons of parking spaces right behind the library, so that's where we parked and then strolled down the line of booths put up behind the shops. Everyone was back from last year except for the New Orleans place with the jambalaya James likes. We stopped at Mezzaluna's booth (they are on Spring Road and we pass them almost every day) and James had a rice ball and I had a slice of bruschetta. James used to get rice balls from a vendor at the Farmer's Market, but those were like tennis balls. This was a small rice ball of the type I was brought up with. We'll have to eat there sometime.
Next we both had our favorite, the "drunken pork" (it's made with bourbon) on top of sweet grits from Atkins Park. (I hate grits, but these are creamy, almost like cottage cheese.) James also had two tiny mini tacos from the new Taco Cantina place on Spring Road before we went down to the Thai booth and had the pad thai (James also had chicken satay sticks).
I also tried some pulled pork from "the Crafty Hog," the new barbecue place on Concord Road. It was melt-in-your-mouth tender, so we amended our original plan, which was to get barbecue sandwiches from Williamson Brothers before we left and take them home for supper. Instead, James went to get some jerk chicken to take home from the Jamaican booth. We had both drunk a full bottle of water, but I was still thirsty, so while he was Jamaica-ing, I got some fresh lemonade. Then we went back to the Crafty Hog booth and James got two servings of barbecue beef brisket and I got two servings (these are small servings, only a dollar; it was about sandwich filler size), and we took those home for a meal tonight instead.
It was only up to the low 80s when we got home, but four hours in the sun had done its work. Being in the sun leaches energy out of both of us, and we were both thirsty and sleepy. We both had a drink and got cool for about a half hour, and then went out to Bed, Bath & Beyond with our coupons; James needed a new carbinator for the Soda Stream and we needed a new Misto for the olive oil. Once we got done with the errand, we went to Barnes & Noble to enjoy ourselves a bit. Damn, they still don't have the September/October "Landlove." I got "Landscape," though, and the fall "A Primitive Place." I also picked up Bill Nye's new book.
This time when we came home, we took a nap until six!
Had my barbecue with some of the French bread and whiled away the hours until the new Doctor Who watching the previous episodes, "Death in Heaven" and "Last Christmas," until it was time for "The Magician's Apprentice." Hm. Seems someone is working for UNIT. :-) And I see we're using the "if you knew the little kid drowning was Hitler, would you save him" conundrum. As for the "hand mines," I don't know what kind of dreams Steven Moffat has, but I wouldn't want them! I wonder if we're going to see references to the classic series in all the new episodes this year.
» Sunday, September 13, 2015A Daisy of a Weekend
Stop me if you've heard this before: I slept late on my compressed day. 9:45! It was wonderful, and I have so much better dreams between six and nine.
But then it was time to get to work: I walked the dog and had breakfast, then took myself off to Publix for the twofers. I found some good sales and I had a really nice guy help me out with my groceries. He and his wife own five dachshunds! Oh, and I picked up "Better Homes & Gardens' Christmas Ideas," when I got home I found the Christmas edition of "Early American Life" in the mailbox, and at Publix I saw gallons of Peppermint Stick ice cream. So Christmas is indeed creeping up as we sleep, on little cat feet as in "Prufrock."
Amazingly, I didn't stop at Sprouts, but then I had to get home. James accidentally took the boneless pork ribs out of the freezer, so now I had to make gravy. I'm trying some no-sugar tomato sauce I got at Ollie's Bargain Outlet. And it literally is that: tomato sauce! Not even any salt. So I had to add basil (for a while I thought we didn't have any) and I also put some granulated onion and garlic in it. We can add our own salt (and the Romano cheese is salty anyway). We are going to have to add tomato paste to it to thicken it, though.
I spent the afternoon doing that as well as finishing Lucy Lethbridge's book Servants.When James came home from work, we went to Fresh2Order for supper, not having eaten there in a while. I notice that they have made the soup bowls smaller! Still, the creamy chicken vegetable soup is still as filling as ever. We considered checking out the mall, but the only thing interesting there anymore is the Hallmark shop. Oh, there's an Apple store upstairs now. Yippee.
Instead we crossed over to Costco. We needed milk anyway—and they didn't have any! skim milk anyway. We did get some chicken salad, soap, and a new pair of slippers for James. Once home, it was the final sally with Tucker, and then stayed up very late, James reading online and me reading Frances Brody's A Medal for Murder. The plot was so convoluted that I had to see it through to the end even if I stayed up until one a.m. And so I did.
But we were sleeping late Saturday because we had to be up early today. In fact, we barely got up in time for James to get dressed to get to his lunch with the guys followed by his club meeting. The moment he was off I packed Tucker in the car and took him to Unleashed for a bath. Naturally he looked as pathetic as possible and whined through the entire affair. At least he wasn't as bad as the boxer that had to be carried in.
I got him home and pulled out his bedding to wash, finding more shredded paper inside the crate, and then decided to go to Hobby Lobby. Spent about a half hour happily winding in and out of the autumn and Christmas aisles. Since all the Christmas craft items were 40 percent off, I got a few bits of things, mostly woodsy picks to finish a winter bouquet I started last winter with clearance items. Some of the floral foam was still showing. I also returned the dishwasher kit Lowes had made us buy with the dishwasher; it came with its own connector and we didn't need it.
Came home, did some vacuuming, sat and read my "Victorian Homes" magazine until James arrived. By now the cool front had come through, so we had supper at Tin Drum and ate outside, which we haven't been able to do since April. We stopped at Barnes & Noble for a few minutes, then were headed home when I proposed ice cream for dessert. So we backtracked to Baskin/Robbins on Dallas Highway, and then, since we were coming by Kroger anyway, stopped to get the milk Costco didn't have, along with some bread for my lunch sandwiches, cornstarch, and some turkey thighs. Found Aubrey Spivey working checkout, but she wasn't allowed to check me out; you can't check out friends. Didn't know that! Anyway, it meant we didn't have to go there today, and by the time I walked Tucker it was already in the 60s and lovely out!
Got up this morning at 7:30 in order to get to the Yellow Daisy Festival early. It was a gorgeous, sunny 55°F out and it was a delight to walk the dog and just loiter instead of chivvying him to get inside out of the heat. James opened all the windows before we left, and, so we could drive with the windows down, I put my pashmina on. Didn't need it by the time we arrived at Stone Mountain Park 45 minutes later.
We got there about 9:30 and didn't leave until after 2...it was the best weather for Yellow Daisy ever! It wasn't even 74 when we left! We could stroll slowly and not have to mop our faces with chill cloths and buy iced water bottles as in previous years. We bought the first of our two yearly fudge desserts, James got a new leather belt with the kind of buckle he likes, we bought some barbecue sauce, a couple of dip mixes, and bagged three Christmas gifts. We were starving by the time we left, but the broad expanse of lawn around which all the food vendors were arranged was starting to look like the Marriott on the Friday of DragonCon, and all the seats under cover were filled, so we just grabbed an ear of roasted corn each and came home. Of course this wasn't the end of it because we had to stop for a paper (so back to Kroger we went), and then once the truck was in, I had to take my car to Kroger (again!) to fill it up.
Had Asian chicken salad for supper, watched the final two episodes of The Astronaut Wives' Club and also the Rick Sebak special A Few Good Pie Places. The pies looked yummy but I'm getting a bit tired of Sebak doing food specials. Let's go back to interesting stuff like parks, buildings, and highways, too. Later on, via our free Acorn TV trial, I watched part 1 of the new Tommy and Tuppence adventures with Jessica Raine and David Walliams. I can't say I was thrilled. Tommy and Tuppence used to be a lot more fun in their original television incarnations, and they switched the setting from the 1920s to the 1950s. Tommy seems rather lumbering and rather foolishly trying to raise bees; Tuppence gets them involved in an "adventure" and then starts panicking about it! It's really sad because Jessica Raine strikes me as perfect for Tuppence.
» Monday, September 07, 2015DragonCon, Day 4
A little sad to have James go off to work this morning; even though we usually go to mostly different tracks there is always breakfast in the morning and going home at night, and the rare track where we meet up (like the Lost in Space panel). Since there was no chair to load and traffic is light on Monday and we no longer have to miss the runners at Cumberland Mall, I decided to luxuriate and sleep until 7:15. Today would be a very light schedule: I had originally planned for breakfast, a panel in the Hilton about service dogs, and then the last three panels in the Sheraton (which I was looking forward to if just for the working air conditioning).
Well, it was the plan. I started having stomach cramps at 6:45. [expletives deleted]
About 7:30 I was finally better and clipped on Tucker's leash to take him out. We were down in the cul-de-sac when Max came gamboling out; Max's family lives down at the end of the street and they do not let him run loose. I couldn't imagine how he got out. He used to be a small plush puppy; now he is a big adolescent dog, pure white, and a happy, friendly boy. I let him play with Tucker for a while, then went to the front door and rang the bell. No one answered, and Max wouldn't come when I called him, although he'd romped up to me at first. So I trudged back to the house and got an old leash and came back, only to find Max actively ignoring me now that I had the leash. I finally went back up to the door and pretended to be turning the knob. He came up to the door and I hooked him on the leash, then put him in the back yard and shut the gate. I have no idea how he got out, only that he did, because his paws were all wet with mud from near the gate.
I was already tired from chasing Max around when I fed Tucker and put him in the dining room, made sure Snowy had seed, and then headed downtown. When I got to Atlanta Road, I couldn't cross because there was some type of road race going on! Nice if you guys would have warned people; when they used to have the race at Cumberland Mall, they had signs up weeks in advance. I had to go down Windy Hill Road to cut over to Spring Road and get back on target.
I was off the freeway and almost at the hotel when the Florida car in front of me on Ivan Allen tried to turn right, which was the wrong way on a one-way street. Of course horns blared at him, and he swung wide trying to correct himself, almost sideswiping my car. So by the time I got downtown I was quite awake thankyouverymuch! Parked behind the garage again and they only charged $20.
As I got out of the car I heard Alice Spivey say, "There's a familiar car." She and Ken, with Jessie Elder, were there for the day. Alas, Aubrey also had to work today. We chatted a bit, then I headed for the elevator, the "Luke Skywalk," and breakfast (with a brief pit stop). Lonesome eating breakfast alone. Funny, we usually run into Laura Hayden there at least once, but not this year.
I decided I wasn't that interested in the dog panel, and instead went to the Hyatt to wait for the Art Show/Artist's Alley to open. The art show was pleasant enough, and I saw some cute dragon cartoons, but there's never much any more to attract my attention. Lots of fantasy fairies, not as much "intestinal art" anymore thankfully, some steampunk, lots of cute animals—not one spacescape! Didn't see anything at the print shop I wanted, but went back into Artist's Alley to pick up three of the "Hogan's Alley" magazines (devoted to comic strips) that I looked at on Friday. The editor was selling them three for ten. I also got a print for James' birthday; it is themed like a World War II "keep 'em flying" propaganda poster, but with Luke Skywalker and an X-wing instead of a pilot and his fighter plane. The artist is a history teacher and we chatted for a few minutes.
Okay. Karen Gillan's at the convention and I haven't seen her yet. Like the second Sleepy Hollow panel, I went to see if I could get in. I could. It was a fun panel, with all sorts of questions not always about Doctor Who. She talked a bit about her modeling career, her cousin Caitlin who played young Amy Pond in "The Eleventh Hour," shaving her head for Guardians of the Galaxy (they made her a wig out of the hair so she could wear it until her hair grew back; its just at her shoulders now), doing a new film called The Circle with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, also that she will be in a Western, working with Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill (they teased her like a sister), her admiration for Alex Kingston, her vote for scariest monsters (yes, Weeping Angels), what part she would most like to play (Lady Macbeth), and other entertaining topics.
And then it was time to trudge over to the Sheraton for the last two panels of the day. At least it would be cool. Compared to Saturday, and even Friday, the Marriott was practically deserted. I was able to leave the Atrium Ballroom and walk over the skywalk to the Hilton with no trouble (the Hilton was still full of lines for science and space panels, though), then down Courtland Street a block to the Sheraton. It was like a ghost town, not even a couple of dozen people milling around. I went downstairs and bought memberships for next year, hit the bathroom, and then perched in the Macon Room for "British Telly You Should Be Watching" with Roberts Bowen and Ray, someone named Gareth, and another woman, and track head Caro Brown, who was finally getting to eat her lunch.
This is an annual panel, but they did it a little differently this year: "If you like [fill in the show], you might like..." naming more shows. Doctor Who produced Blake's 7 and Survivors, Downton Abbey included suggestions for Upstairs, Downstairs, Duchess of Duke Street, The Crimson Field, etc. and so on. Everyone contributed and some folks took notes.
Finally, the feedback panel, which used to be called "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish." I've always loved going to this panel because it's with a bunch of folks I love, plus since it's the last panel, everyone is tired and things sometimes get a bit looney. It's when the track runners take suggestions, ask you to do panel reviews, discuss what works and what doesn't. Usually leftover snacks get passed around, everyone looks shellshocked, and it's one more hour in Narnia until it's time to exit the wardrobe. It always leaves a lump in my throat.
James texted me that they were letting him out early near the end of the panel, so I asked if he would go to Kroger and pick up some milk and a banana. In the meantime I drove home and walked the dog.
James came home with more groceries than milk and a banana, and then we did the usual Labor Day supper at Longhorn, and stopped at Barnes & Noble before we went home. Like Caro I was practically falling asleep at the table, and we weren't in the bookstore long.
» Sunday, September 06, 2015DragonCon, Day 3
I might have gotten on better today if I'd gotten more than six hours sleep. [grumble]
Third verse, same as the first: up, around with the dog, pack up lunch, and git. We did stop at the bank for money. James discovered why his debit card got rejected yesterday even though he just got paid: it expired 8/31 and the credit union never sent a replacement.
We both had a couple of panel choices this morning, but somehow James had accidentally put John Barrowman's panel on his schedule. So we said, sure, let's do it. Let's be spontaneous. We ended up way in the back, but we could still see.
John came on stage in a blue TARDIS dress and spike-heeled red pumps.
After that, it got crazy.
He's a one-man dynamo. He loves being on stage and it shows; he bounced from one end of the stage to the other, telling stories (risque and otherwise), wagging his eyebrows, flirting with the ladies as well as the men, told tales on his handsome bodyguard, chatting about Captain Jack and how Jack and the Doctor were really just him and David Tennant, talking about helping with shuttling soldiers back to their bases, and being serious about a group home for LGBT children who have been thrown out of their foster homes. His sister Carole came out, saw him in the dress and pumps, and sent a pic to their mother. She announced amusedly some minutes later, "Mum just saw your picture and said, 'Oh, God, he looks like me!'"
Time to split up: I went off to the "Sherlock vs. Elementary" panel in the Hilton. I was sitting in the room cooling my heels (literally; that's a nice cool room) waiting for things to begin and scrolling through Facebook on my phone when someone touched my hand. It was Louis Robinson saying hi. Really enjoyed this panel a lot—it flew by. Basically Louis and the other two panelists talked about what they liked about each series, how they differed, yet at the same time respected the Holmes canon, sometimes with overt references, some with hidden. Louis described Sherlock as a "firecracker," where Elementary was more like a slow fuse. Much praise for Lucy Liu's interpretation of Watson. It was a much more balanced panel than what was at 221B, where one of the panelists was rather scornful of Elementary. It was more a comparison of both series and what was liked about each, rather than a "versus."
Next, into the madness that is the Marriott to see a tribute to The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling. Most of the presentation was a portion of a documentary that was made for the archive version of the series release (and, dammit, no you can't get it separately). It's called As Timeless as Infinity: The Twilight Zone Legacy. (Preview here.) What we saw was fabulous. They went back to Serling's home town, showed a brief history of his early writing career, interviewed his wife and daughter, and talked to writers who were influenced by him, including Joe Straczynski.
Now, there was another Sleepy Hollow panel two floors up, in the big Marriott Atrium Ballroom. I figured, well, I'll see if I can get in. And I did! I was way, way back, but I was there, and there was a treat: Nicole Beharie couldn't make it and Tom Mison was late, so Corey Castellano came back in with John Noble! I hadn't seen the latter, so it was a nice surprise. He answered a lot of questions about Henry, and about all the fear and anger that must have been bottled up in his abandoned first incarnation of Jeremy Crane. He left when Tom Mison finally arrived, attired in an Indiana Jones hat, ready for more questions about life on the set. He said again that he prefers that there not be a romantic relationship between Ichabod and Abbie—"That's what all your fanfiction is for."—and got a cheer from most of the audience. Not many more hints on what's coming up in the new season.
I was "at large" for the next hour and a half, so I set out to see if I could manage the dealer's room again. I got halfway around the choked first floor and it was too much like Walmart on Black Friday for my taste, so I went up one floor and the crowd was a little less crazy up there. One booth that was cool was something called "Geek Chic," which was gorgeous furniture that would look good in an elegant home, but you could game with it. There was a coffee table, a dining room table, and other attractive items. [I looked it up. The coffee table alone starts at $1,900.00.] The whole back of one of the floors is all leather accessories: pouches, gauntlets, vests, skirts, kilts, etc. The leather scent was marvelous. Lots of jewelry dealers, some books, tons of toys like those big headed things everyone seems to like.
Next up was "Ask the Experts: Everything Doctor Who," which was pretty cool. Robert Lloyd, Robert Allsop, and Rob Levy, plus Alan Siler (now it was Three Robs and an Alan) answered questions about the series, and most of the questions weren't your run-of-the-mill ones like asking if a certain character was coming back. Folks asked if it was ever said where time travel tech on Gallifrey comes from, or did we know if the Doctor had other family, etc., was the Doctor truly "the last of the Time Lords" because of Romana, the Meddling Monk, Drax, etc.
Oh, and I bought Alan's new book, a compilation of commentary on what he thinks are the best Doctor Who episodes, and got it autographed. Can't wait to read it. Also bought a book of Christmas short stories.
This was the last of my panels, so I went over to meet James at the Hyatt for "So You Want to Be a Monster," with two of his favorite writers, Larry Correia, who does the "Monster Hunter" books, and John Ringo, who is going to do a "Monster Hunter" book, plus their publisher, Toni Weisskopf. James said Toni would be there to "keep the guys in line," and he was right. The two of them were like a couple of kids talking about their books and their characters. I don't read the books, but even I had fun, and Ringo read some passages from his upcoming book, which takes place in the 1980s.
And finally it was the long, sad walk back to the truck and hefting up the power chair, and driving home, and taking Tucker for a walk (after his Dreaded Enemy the German Shepherd had finished his). Today is James' last con day. Tomorrow Twi and I have to go down there on our own. ::sniffle::
» Saturday, September 05, 2015DragonCon, Day 2
We were able to get up a bit later this morning (15 whole minutes!) for dog walking (and Tucker even got a few minutes on the deck to bark at non-existent cats) before leaving for downtown. Went to the same parking lot as yesterday, passing people hefting lawn chairs and water bottles to start lining up for the parade, to find out they jacked up the price $10. ::sigh::
After breakfast at Cafe Momo, I walked James part of the way back to the truck (he forgot his hat, not to mention his pills for the day), then went to the "Doctor Who: The Dormant Years" panel in the Sheraton. This featured the four Robs (Robert Bowen, Robert Ray, Rob Levy, and Robert Lloyd—plus Alan Siler) talking about the years between the cancellation of the classic series and the reboot: Virgin novels, missing adventure books, audio plays, fanfiction, Usenet and bulletin boards, and more.
Wanted to make the Wild Wild West 50th anniversary panel, but the parade was still wending its way down Peachtree Street to turn on Andrew Young and end up between the Hyatt and the Marriott. I was going to go through the bridge and Peachtree Center, but it's a good thing I didn't because later I found out they were stopping people from doing so. Instead I girded my loins, because Andrew Young is a steep hill, and trudged as far as Peachtree Center Avenue, where the parade made the final turn, and stopped dead. Only one way around it; wormed through the crowd on the corner and walked another block, and then trudged up Ellis Street on the opposite side of the Westin. At least a nice breeze was there to greet me. James went another way and got stuck and ended up watching the parade instead.
The West panel talked about if it was the first steampunk story (no, because things like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Great Race came first), but it had more of an impact because it was a four year series. There were five men on the panel, so as favorite character Jim West came in first with one holdout for Artemus Gordon (bet you would have gotten different answers if there were some women on the panel). Plus no one watched it first run. I feel old! :-) Of course, talk about favorite characters (yes, besides Dr. Loveless) and episodes (yes, besides Dr. Loveless episodes). (No one mentioned "Night of the Colonel's Ghost," darnit.)
And then, the parade mess gone, I was able to walk freely back to the Marriott to join James at the 50th anniversary panel for Lost in Space. It was a typical Saturday at the Marriott, which meant it looked like a mob scene, and the same people stopping in passages to take pictures. Stop blocking traffic, you yoicks!
So we had some talk about the series, about the movie, about the animated "movie" no one remembers (and with good reason), and the emo pilot for a new series with the main character a teen, then cast appearances, how the pilot differed from the series and the scenes reused, and the upcoming Blu-Ray anniversary edition (some of the episodes will contain genuine 60s-era commercials).
We managed to get James out of the Marriott by the simple expedient of going all the way to the back and using the garage elevator; with the cheek-by-jowl crowd in the hotel by 2 p.m., his going up two levels in the elevator to get back to the skybridge to the Hyatt was impossible. So he basically got back to the hotel by just riding the chair up the sidewalk next to both hotels.
I went to the Sheraton to get in line for the Sleepy Hollow panel; waited from 2:30 until they loaded the room at 3:30, and then we had to wait until after four. Since Sleepy Hollow is now filming in Georgia, they didn't have to go far to get Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie as guests. Interviewer John Ichabod Anderson (yes, that's his name) opened the panel with Tom Mison, and I totally have forgotten the first question because the next person who came up to the microphone made a couple of nice comments, then asked "Did anyone ever tell you that you look like a smokin' hot Jesus?" He turned red and made a motion to "text his Mum" (this became a running gag the moment people mentioned something embarrassing), and then "smokin' hot Jesus" and its permutations became another running gag, the one Nicole Beharie walked in on a few minutes later—you should have seen her face!—along with Corey Castellano, who designs the monsters. (When asked how much lead time he gets on monsters, the reply was a wry "Not enough!") I was quite heartened to hear that neither of the cast members wishes a romance between Ichabod and Abbie ("Ichabbie" as the 'shippers call it); Tom Mison said he loved the show for that, that they are just friends. Nicole Beharie looked sternly at the audience and added, "We read your fanfiction, you know!"
Other questions were about most scary villains (he said the Sandman and she said the coins that brought out your evil side, since anyone can be evil), monsters they would like to face or fantasy elements they would like to do (she wants to be a mermaid). Corey Castellano said he sometimes gets very vague descriptions of the monsters in the scripts; my favorite he mentioned was when the writer said it was his first monster and he didn't know what it looked like, but make it took good! Anyway, an outstanding and often hysterically funny way to spend an hour, and definitely worth the wait.
Headed back to the Hyatt where James was attending a Military Science Fiction panel, but wasn't interested myself, so decided to check out the dealer's "room" which is down the street in Building 2 of the America's Mart. I couldn't figure out why there was a line to get down there on the second day of the con until I got down to the doors and realized you had to cross the street to get there—people were waiting for the light!
I didn't stay long. The place is huge and complete cacophony, plus you have to walk past a huge foyer with escalators going up to the second level, then the food court, and only then you get to the exhibit halls. I found the McFarland booth and looked at the books, and bought a button apiece from a nearby booth, and then got the hell out of there. Too loud, too warm, and just creepy. Like shopping at Walmart before Christmas.
Found James back on the Embassy level at the end of his panel, but the room was full, so I stayed out for the remaining time of the panel talking to Jake Skidmore. Jake had a stroke over a year ago, but is sounding and looking so much better.
We could have stayed for a book publisher's panel, but we were both tired, so we came home and as a treat stopped by Tin Drum to get supper to go. (We'll probably be leaving the same time tomorrow since James has to work on Monday.) We came home to find "The Day of the Doctor" replaying on BBC America with Ingrid Oliver (Osgood) being interviewed during the breaks. We watched that through to the end (and Peter Capaldi's eyebrows) before turning on the news.
» Friday, September 04, 2015DragonCon, Day 1
I am not promising how detailed this will be. The days of blogging till midnight and then getting up at seven to start all over again are over. And I only slept five hours last night. I cannot seem to wind down between workdays.
Because of rush-hour traffic we were up at 6:45. Tucker had his walk plus a big bowl of food, and Snowy got some millet, and then we loaded the chair and were off. Traffic wasn't terribly bad, and we discovered Williams Street has its own HOV lane. Today we parked at a lot behind the Courtland Street Garage. It was only $20 for the day.
Then on to our first day of breakfast at Cafe Momo. I had oatmeal, roasted potatoes, a slice of toast, two slices of French toast, four strips of bacon, four pieces of kiwi, and four slices of orange, plus milk. Nothing gourmet, just good food. Sue Phillips joined us to eat in Peachtree Center.
James had no early panel, so we went to see Julian Glover at the Hilton. It's so cool to see such a seasoned character actor like Glover. Anthony Taylor even asked him about Q.E.D., which he did with Sam Waterston, who he said was one of the finest American actors. He also talked about both his stints on Doctor Who, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Avengers and more.
James left the panel early to go to the Westin, since he had to navigate the elevators, but I stayed for the end and then joined him there for the panel, which was an introduction to Alternate History, and how was it different from Speculative Fiction. One of James' favorite authors, Taylor Anderson, who does the "Destroyermen" series, was one of the panelists.
The dealer's room was about to open, and we both had a free hour, but we discovered that the line to get in went halfway around the America's Mart, and it wasn't the handicapped entrance; that was back on Peachtree and blocked by the crowd. So we went back to the Hyatt and walked around Artist's Alley for a half hour, talking especially to Andy Runton. He has a new "Owly" book coming out soon!
I ate my luncheon sandwich while James was in the restroom, and then he headed back for the Westin for a survival panel, while I went to the Sheraton to see René Auberjonois, but his panel was canceled due to travel problems (he won't be at the convention). So I trudged back to the Hilton to see the Doctor Who spinoffs panel instead. Caro Brown, Robert Ray, Kelly Yates, and a lady whose name I didn't catch chatted mostly about Torchwood. Roger Nichols was there and we said hi, and also saw Mark Heffernan.
Then it was back to the Sheraton to see Sylvester McCoy. If you are tired and feeling a bit out of it, a dose of Sylvester is what you need to get you back on your feet. At 72, he's like a Scottish elf, all bounce and sparkling eyes. Alan Siler talked to him for a while, and then, as is his wont, instead of you going up to a microphone and asking him a question, he takes the mic and comes to you. The lady sitting next to me asked the first question, so I got a nice view of the "real" McCoy for a few minutes. He told funny stories about appearing in the Doctor Who movie, about doing The Fiveish Doctors Reboot with Peter Davision and Colin Baker (and Paul McGann), about filming "Survival" and how hot it was, how he and Sophie Aldred were sympatico, and more. And of course, to end the panel, he played the spoons!
I met James back at the Hyatt where we listened to Peter David and Esther Freisner, among others, talk about humor in science fiction (there were many funny stories, as you can imagine). We had to work about ten minutes to find an elevator back upstairs, but this year, unlike last year, we did get to see the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company Friday production, a "two for one" bargain: Rory Rammer, Space Marshal: "Queen of the Spaceways" and Blues for Johnny Raven, a noir mystery in which the ambiance drives the story with Daniel Kiernan in the world-weary title role. (James and I worked with this script many years ago and we still talk about saxophone music—because there's always saxophone music.)
Then chatted a bit afterwards with Alice (who was taking photos) and Juanita and Jessie; also saw Ron, Lin, Pat, Alex, Stephanie, and even Stuart.
It was the typical evening at the convention; everyone heading upstairs to their rooms and to room parties, so after the plays it took us a full half hour just to get up one floor to the exit, and it took an elevator full of mildly inebriated attendees to do it, especially the blond lady who kept letting people in and out. We ended up going all the way up to the revolving restaurant on the top ("Oh, my god, it's the elevator from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!" someone howled) and then coming down, and even managed to get another wheelchair-bound guy aboard. It was frustrating and howlingly funny all at once.
On the way out we met Kim Holec and Mike Langford coming in and chatted a few minutes there as well.
Then it was down the hill to the parking lot, load up the chair and come home. Tucker had been good all through the day, and I took him outside immediately. Spent the rest of the night watching Hogan's Heroes.
» Thursday, September 03, 2015An Elevator Day
My emotions have been galloping from one end to the other today. I got up early for work, but found I couldn't do many things. One order I had advertised came in way over the cost estimate, so I had to repost it (it had already been delayed because I received a bad description). Another order I can't do because the vendor hasn't propagated in ICE [our purchase order/contract generating system], and the third I can't do because the vendor's listing has expired at SAM.gov, and being registered is a prerequisite of doing business with the government. I tried to do a modification, but at the point I sent it for review we had a report that our team lead had gone home due to a death in the family. I followed up on e-mails, did a bunch of tidying up, and during lunch packed up my backpack and put the juice boxes in the refrigerator to chill.
We had a whopper of a thunderstorm during the afternoon; Tucker was clinging to my legs, then retreated under the table. I was on chat with James and one boom made me jump in my seat. The APC on the computer and on the modem/router did its work, though, and I never lost my connection or the internet itself.
James was supposed to get out early, due to working overtime the other night, but he got on a long call and didn't arrive home until after four. Still, we thought we'd try to make it downtown to get our DragonCon badges. Maybe that's the mistake we've been making all these years; waiting until traffic "let up later." Waze took us through the back and we got downtown in only 45 minutes. Amazing considering last year's awful commute.
Got a parking space on the ground floor of the garage, went to the Sheraton and got our badges, went to Disability Services and got James' handicapped sticky. There was a book launch panel going on, so we wanted to go to that, but we turned the wrong way going toward the Hyatt and ended up back at the Hilton, so we just trudged back up the hill and finally made it to the panel about 7:20. I was so glad I'd run to Sprouts and got some little containers of Italian wedding soup; we ate them then and there.
We were going to have supper at Peachtree Center, but it was really warm in there, so we headed back to the garage. When we checked out, we were aghast. They had a man with a sign outside that said $20 event parking, but the "event" time was only two hours! Who goes to an "event" that only lasts two hours? We had to pay forty dollars to park! That's even more than the hotels charge a day for parking. Now I know why the garage seemed empty when we got there; it's usually chock full on Thursday night of the convention. What a bunch of price gougers!
Came by Wendy's on the way home, gave the dog a trot around the neighborhood—oh, and I made 10,000 steps before we left Peachtree Center.