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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» Wednesday, December 30, 2015
"Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come and Play Another Day."


It wasn't bad enough that my sinuses started draining again. And that I had nightmares all night. I'd settled back in, James was off to the living room to work since it was going to be pouring again. Please, could I sleep now?

Crash! went the thunder! Squeal! went my cellphone, followed by a flood warning! Scream! went the weather radio!

Urgh. And this happened twice.

James was working industriously when I got up. Went to take Tucker outside and he wanted no part of the rain, but I tugged him downstairs and clicked the clicker, and he got the message. He pee'd, then headed back inside. I'll settle for that. (Later we found a hole in the clouds and got him a better walk.)

I had breakfast, then went to Kroger. I wanted to do 99 percent of the shopping today so that all we have to do tomorrow is pick up the bread to go with the beef and mushrooms, and then stop briefly to get me sandwich bread for the week on Sunday. It was Wednesday, so I got my five percent old phart discount, picked up some meat for dinner next week, bought lots of milk, and spent entirely too much money, but not as much as the lady in front of me, who spent $334.00. Ouch!

Then I came home and did different things: worked a little on each of the crafts, scrubbed a particularly grubby spot on the carpet, read more Christmas magazines, and played the two CDs Rodney gave me for Christmas, Percy Faith Christmas music and Jackie Gleason's band (people forget Gleason was also a bandleader). The Faith had some of my favorites that WLKW, once Providence's "beautiful music" station, used to play during their "36 Hours of Christmas" each year, including "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." Gleason's arrangements of the Christmas songs were in dance band tempo. It was so soothing I listened to it twice.

When James finished for the day, we got dressed and went to Kaiser; he had a prescription he'd forgotten to refill. This actually didn't take long; it was just getting there and then going home. Cheered up the ride a little by going a different way home and checking out more Christmas lights. Gosh, it seems as if everything has gone by so swiftly since October started; stinky, smelly, smothery, sweaty, sucky summer takes ages to go by and then the rest goes by in a flash. It seems like just yesterday we were on the ferry to Martha's Vineyard or checking out the beautiful leaves at Strawbery Banke, and December has just flown by. Wish I could rewind to Thanksgiving and do it all over again (as a friend said on my Facebook page, with proper temperatures!).

We had the potstickers from Buford tonight for supper while I watched Call the Midwife, this year's Christmas special, and cried and cried at the end. I'm glad Patsy has had a merry Christmas and hope things don't get ugly for her.

Following that we watched most of this week's "clip show" from Alaska: the Last Frontier, and then the season finale—yes, season, as the Librarians return next year—of The Librarians. I quite enjoyed how the treatment of Prospero was built upon things the Librarians had learned during the season, and the twist in Prospero's past.

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» Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Bargain Hunting and Time Traveling

Why, that's funny. If I look upwards, the sky is an odd color, like a pale bluebird. And there is a fiery round brand in the sky. What a strange sight. I don't think it's because we didn't sleep, because we slept late, after watching part of a Fallon rerun.

When we were finished with breakfast and Tucker had been walked, we loaded up the power chair and went off to the Buford Highway Farmers Market. We hadn't been in a while and there were several specific things we wanted to look for there. Unfortunately, we only found about half of them. They had no lamb steaks, just very thinly cut lamb for some type of holiday dish (I guess), and none of the Litehouse "Salad" greens blend we like to put on poultry and pork. We wandered the aisles and gathered other goodies: buckwheat noodles, potstickers, Ukrainian lamb dumplings, frisee, Ritter peppermint bars (we like them for desserts), dumpling sauce, French bread, lupini beans, etc. We double-bagged this in insulated bags and went off to have a little fun trolling the clearance tables at Barnes & Noble, both the one at Peachtree Corners and the one near Perimeter Mall. I found three gifts on the clearance table at Peachtree, a Cat-in-the-Hat ornament for the library tree, the Entertainment book at half price, a Jill Oxon's cross-stitch magazine that was really too expensive but it had a pattern for someone I wanted, and the December "The Simple Things." James got a weather calendar for his desk wall and a desk calendar of World War II facts. Perimeter was less fruitful, but I did find another gift, perfect for relating to a place where this person likes to go.

By then it was going on rush hour, so we headed home and had what was left of our Costco soup for supper (yes, we still had enough for another meal; it was a lot of soup!). James actually had to thin it out a little with some Trader Joe's chicken broth and vegetable stock, and it was still chock-full of chicken pieces, carrots, onions, and celery. We were wayyyyyyyyy behind on Doctor Who, so binge-watched "Face the Raven, Heaven Sent," and "Hell Bent." I still love Peter Capaldi, but, really, must we continue to have these long, lachrymose companion farewells? Can't they just quit traveling with the Doctor like the old companions used to and go back to their lives? Capaldi was brilliant in "Heaven Sent"—I didn't glance once at a clock, it mesmerized me so much—but I was amused at how much part of the premise matched a story on The Librarians a couple of weeks ago. Similarly, "Hell Bent" reminded me of the final episode of Quantum Leap.

More rain tomorrow...but this is bringing the cold back with it. Thank God. We have noticed several people commenting on Facebook, from all different places, that it just hasn't felt like Christmas. For my part I think it's all the morons running for office. They certainly have soured my holiday season. It should be illegal for candidates to start campaigning for office until the actual election year. (I'd say the Democratic and Republican conventions, but they still have to do that stupid New Hampshire thing...)

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» Monday, December 28, 2015
A Gathering of Order

Well, surprise. It's raining again. Not just soft showers, but pouring rain. The news is a litany of overflowing creeks, rivers over their banks, and water-washed-out roads. Everything's soggy, with water collecting on the front sidewalk in front of the bushes. Drip, drip, drip.

James teleworked today, which means operation Clean the Spots on the Carpet has been a bit truncated. I can't vacuum (prerequisite to pre-treating) while he's on the phone. However, there are plenty of other things to day. I decided to wash clothes today since he'll be off tomorrow. I also put all the wrapping paper, bows, tags, and tape away and the spare room looks like it's fit for visitors again rather than being the gift wrap department at Macy's. I also did a much-needed clean out of my craft room; I pretty much couldn't craft anything at that point because the top of the worktable was so cluttered. I found a gift that was supposed to go in a certain gift bag (not yet distributed because a gift exchange date has not been finalized yet), so was able to finish that, and found two tiny gifts to put together with said gift bag and another gift bag. (This, of course, also gets them out of the craft room.) While putting various bits and bobs away, I found a disassembled gift, assembled it, and put it away for next year, and also put the parts for another gift away as well. Already started on my list for next year, which makes me happy!

Then I started painting the base of the Advent wreath I never got to this year. Clair Kiernan has an adorable "easy Advent wreath"—four tealight battery candles, three painted purple and one pink, and a white Christ candle, with a little Christmasy wreath to go with it. I loved it, but I wanted a permanent base for mine, with the designations of the different Sundays (Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace) on the base. I did paint the little candles, and have a star-shaped candle for the Christ candle, but never got to the base, so I'm doing that now.

Between bouts of rain took the dog outside, read a Christmas magazine, and switched clothes from washer to dryer (although I completely forgot about the clothes in the end and was drying them at dinner time). Had our appetizer for dinner tonight: fried ravioli with dipping sauce (James also ate his mushroom). Then he said he wasn't feeling well, so he went to lie down for a while. I put The Gathering on. Not related to "Magic," Babylon 5, or some horror movie, this is the story of an older man who is estranged from his wife and family and who discovers he has only a short time to live. He wants to make amends with them without it becoming a pity party. His wife sees through his sudden reformation and helps him bring everyone home without revealing the secret, although his eldest son figures it out. It's a great film, sentimental but never mawkish, with a great performance from Ed Asner, and, in great supporting roles, Maureen Stapleton and Lawrence Pressman.

Afterwards I put "Merry Gentlemen" back on because James not feeling well was kind of bumming me out.

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» Sunday, December 27, 2015
Southward Bound

The traffic is getting worse every year for our Christmas trip down to Warner Robins. I'd expected problems on the inbound trip, since it is the end of a holiday weekend, but we had no trouble coming back up, it was heading down that was wretched. I don't think it would have been any better if we'd left earlier.

We didn't get out of the house until eleven although we got up at 8:30, then had to dodge downtown because of some football game or the other. Except for the heat (it was up in the high 70s before we knew it), it wasn't a bad ride until we passed Southlake Mall (which is a veritable ghost town these days; I recall the days when we drove up to Southlake because it had more and different stores from Macon Mall). Then for seventeen long miles it was zero to twenty miles an hour. The funny part is that there was no difference in the spots where the traffic was good and when it was bad; the road didn't get narrower where it slowed down and there weren't any accidents. There was car after car of Floridian folks presumably headed home and almost as many out-of-state cars presumably heading down to the House of Mouse or House of Harry Potter. After that it sped up a bit, then slowed down a bit; we didn't get to go the speed limit until we were nearly to the I-475 split south of Forsyth. It basically took us nearly three hours to do a hour and forty minute trip. I didn't sleep well and could barely see between sleepiness, a sore right eye, and sun glare.

We met the folks at Olive Garden and had a nice meal and chatter. Our appetizer came so late that we just took it home along with most of James' meal and a slice of black-tie mousse cake. Then we did a gift exchange back at the house with a football game running in the background. We gave Mom and Candy a soup basket this year; soups we accumulated from various craft shows and novelty soups we found in the supermarket, along with two big Mickey Mouse soup bowl mugs. The artwork is like an architectural drawing.

Then we went over to Maggi and Clay's for a while. The two dachshunds, Rupert and Jennifer, greeted us with a salvo of barks (Rupert kept barking at us through most of the visit; I thought Willow had protective issues!), and we were also greeted by a mostly-lab adolescent black puppy, Tessa, who belongs to Maggi's grandson Jayson, who's living with them. They weren't able to come to the Twelfth Night party last year and we missed taking them their gifts at Anachrocon, so they had two sets of gifts to open. We shot the breeze for a couple of hours and then set home in the dark. Traffic, as I mentioned earlier, was now fine, so at least we got home in good time, although we missed The Librarians (it's on the DVR) and were just too tired to watch Alaska: the Last Frontier (ditto).

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Of Addie and Additudes
I periodically do searches on subjects and people that I like, and as always after my annual watch of The House Without a Christmas Tree I did a search on that topic and found a link in Google Books to a memoir by Alan Shayne, the producer of the special, who was in a relationship with Norman Sunshine (who did the evocative collages between the commercial breaks) for many years. In the following portion of the book, Shayne talks about how the story was conceived and filmed, and just a little bit about the sequels.

Read here, starting at the final paragraph on the first page through the end of the chapter, then come back, but prepare for spoilers or wander on.

I found the entire process fascinating, especially how Gail Rock's history was mined from her memories, but that the pivotal event of the story, the absence of the Christmas tree, happened [spoilers follow!] 
Read more »

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» Saturday, December 26, 2015
Dragging in a Summer Wonderland

James had to go to work today, but we still got to sleep late, as he didn't have to be in until noon. I slept marginally better than the night before, but still tossed and turned. Did manage to get the vaporizer aimed directly at me this time, which may have helped. Funny how the stupid cold showed up the moment it got warm again!

I had breakfast and walked Tucker about 11 a.m., and the temperatures were already up in the high 60s. The weather is loathsome; who wants the wretched air conditioner on when it's nearly January? They keep being slaphappy about it on the news programs. "Oh, the weather is wonderful!" If you're perspiring profusely in December and you don't live in the southern hemisphere, it is not.

I wasn't feeling all that well, but wanted to use a couple of coupons, and my car badly needed a fill-up. So I went to Kroger for the gasoline first, then drove to Barnes & Noble to check on the clearance tables. Even at half price, the nice stuff is still too expensive, so I passed on it. I went into Office Max for a few minutes to see if I can find a new printer stand; ours is broken. There is a three-shelf wire shelf there that might do if our printers aren't too heavy. There's a more expensive one, but I think it's too wide; I'd have to measure.

Finally I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to use two of the three coupons I had. I bought Tucker a new dog blanket for the living room and restocked on "Plinks" (deodorizers for the garbage disposal). I also stopped at the newer Office Depot on Cobb Parkway to look at furniture; this store recently downsized and is now useless. All they have is chairs.

Cost Plus World Market was absolutely stripped of Christmas except for one or two things here and there. I've never seen it that clean; they must have put stuff away for next year rather than discounting it. And I checked out Michaels. Did find a couple of gifts there to put away. On the way home stopped at Love Street to see how they have remodeled. They've moved the front door and blocked off the former front entrance and the back entrance (the original front and back doors when it was a small home), and knocked down a wall. Some of the same gift merchandise as previously (jewelry, knicknacks, "name" purses and scarves, twee baby things, trays and candy dishes, that sort of thing), but it seems to be uniformly more upscale (and expensive). The Christmas items were half price, so I did get something for a gift, and another non-Christmas item that was more reasonably priced. Behind their sister store Heart and Sole in another former house next door they have opened "The Garden Shed," where they keep all the garden decorations that used to be in the "back yard" of Love Street, plus they had some upscale Christmas decor. Too rich for my blood!

Pretty much stopped when I got home; this cold has just sapped all my energy. I feel like I have the flu, but have no fever or aching bones, plus I am now barking like a seal when I cough. I put all the Christmas gifts from yesterday up, but that was about it. For supper I had the small portion of ziti and pork that was left over from Christmas Eve dinner; there was enough gravy, so I cooked a few more ziti to have a fuller meal. Discovered the Christmas episode of Vicious on the DVR and watched that, walking the dog at 6 p.m. and again just as James got home at 9:30.

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» Friday, December 25, 2015
A Quiet Christmas

We slept as late as we could this morning; no leaping from bed at the crack of dawn like we used to as children to see what was under the tree. In my case, it was because I was up about every two hours to go to the bathroom and then swill more water. The vaporizer is supposed to last 8 to 10 hours, but is always stopped by the time I get up.

Since we're adults we had breakfast and then gifts. James gave me the new annotated Little Women and the newest John and Carole Barrowman "Bone Quill" book, a Blu-Ray of the film Mr. Holmes, a Special Dark bar, a chocolate orange, and a nifty bracelet that has a dog's head. I got James three books, a picture book of color photographs from World War II, Five Came Back (wartime movie directors), and Enduring Courage (about Eddie Rickenbacker) and two DVDs, one of George Carlin and another of a weekly series called The Aviators, plus the little item I bought him from White Rabbit Cottage, a block of wood that says "Love my hero" on it. We also opened our gifts from Emma (homemade cookies), Mike and Jen (a little autumn tree lamp), and Rodney (a facsimile copy of the original Murder on the Orient Express, two Christmas CDs I didn't have, and a lovely big book of Apollo photographs!

Watched The Homecoming about noon and then got ready to go to the Butlers while James finished our food contributions (gravy, green bean casserole, and roasted maple-glazed carrots). We headed over to arrive at four so I could rest as much as I could. The most strenuous thing I did was climb up the driveway, but I was still wiped out by the time we got home.

But we had a great time. Dinner was delicious, we had a fun gift exchange (got nifty emergency items from Keith, fannish art prints, homemade biscotti, homemade coasters (everyone got these and they were all different), a Christmas trivia book, and other neat goodies), and of course we talked and talked and talked. It had been lightly sprinkling when we got there and pouring rain while we were there, but it had thankfully stopped by the time we left, so we were able to enjoy the decorations between Country Walk and home. Unfortunately there was no clearing in the clouds, so we didn't see the first Christmas full moon in umpety umph years.

And then the last thing before bed was watching The House Without a Christmas Tree. A nice thing to see out the holiday.

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» Thursday, December 24, 2015
Loaded With Stuffing

Well, it's been a fun couple of days, and, yeah, I'm being sarcastic. I was just slightly stuffed up on Wednesday morning, uncomfortable, but nothing unpleasant. Outside the weather was decidedly unpleasant: rain. Awash in rain. Dripping with rain. Soaked with rain. James isn't supposed to take the power chair out in excessive rain, so he got permission to work at home Wednesday and possibly Christmas Eve as well, and when I emerged from the bedroom with a swollen nose he was already hard at work taking calls.

I basically spent the day wrapping gifts and trying to keep my nose unclogged. A lot of hand washing was involved. I started out saying I would wrap five, then ten, and just kept going until I was done. I also had four birthday gifts to wrap as well. I left the paper out so James could wrap my gifts, and I still have one large gift that needs to go into a larger bag, and a little gift to wrap. Between the wrapping, the washing, and the nose-blowing this took all afternoon. I had hot soup for lunch, more ibuprofin, and by suppertime my nose was still completely clogged. I barely tasted the leftover fried rice for supper, and there were a couple of times I almost panicked because I simply could not breathe. The nadir came when I desperately pulled the jar of Vicks Vapo-Rub out of the cabinet and tried sniffing it. I couldn't even smell that.

As on Wednesday morning, I practically had to drag Tucker outside Wednesday night. The thunderstorms did not help. He hates the rain. He hates it so much he pee'd on the carpet instead of asking to go out. Grrr. To get in some Christmas spirit, watched "Merry Christmas, Bogg" from Voyagers! and "The Best Christmas" from The Waltons.

Work got slow for James and they let him "out" early on Wednesday. The same did not happen today. He was very surprised that it was so busy for Christmas Eve. Of course he worked at home again, so we didn't have to wait for him to make his way home. :-)

Last night I dragged out the new vaporizer, the one I bought for Bandit when it appeared the cold mist unit wasn't working. I never used the new one, a steam vaporizer, since Bandit passed before we could use it. I went crazy looking for salt to use in it; it needs salt for the chemical reaction to make the steam. I cleared off my nighttable and had it next to my pillow last night. Not sure how much good it did because the fan was blowing the steam around, but can't sleep without the fan—too hot, especially now, where we are having a stupid heat wave for Christmas and are expecting 75°F that day! Warm and raining, so sticky and humid.

This morning I could smell the Vicks again (faintly), but now the expected is happening and I'm developing a cough. The only thing I really did today was run to Publix. Got Coke Zero for James, a baguette for me, and salt for the vaporizer (I used Kosher salt last night) and a mask so I might go to dinner tomorrow. Otherwise all I recall doing was blowing my nose. Oh, and dragging the dog out into the rain. Again. It was pouring the proverbial cats and dogs all morning, and we had very loud thunder from about 6:30 through about ten o'clock. My alternative was to read, and that I did. Later in the afternoon, keeping the sound low so James could work, I had The Night Before Christmas and Simple Gifts on.

We had the gravy I made with ziti for supper. James ate a big portion and I took seconds since I didn't have any lunch except for watery chicken broth, and there is a small portion left for me to eat on Saturday while James is at work. After Jeopardy we took our annual ride to go see Christmas lights. Really, next year we must "gobble and go." By the time we were headed back to the house at 10 o'clock half the homes had shut their lights off. Don't they know you are supposed to leave your lights on all night Christmas Eve? Anyway, we saw some nice lights right off Windy Hill near us, including a very purple house, and then went searching off West Sandtown Road for the pretty lights we saw on the way to the bookstore last week. We did see a dandy development, Paces Farm, with some really nice lights, including a house with white snowflakes in each window and a house done all in red and green lights, then came back by Ellis Farms, and finally drove through the old neighborhood and stopped briefly at three of the new developments near downtown Smyrna. To our disappointment, the guy with the falling star (or comet, whatever) didn't have it up this year.

Arrived home to watch Mercy Mission: The Rescue of Flight 771 and then Midnight Mass from the Vatican.

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» Tuesday, December 22, 2015
More Than the Sky Drips

Well, this is just ducky. Yesterday I was bouncing around from store to store feeling fine. Today was my cooking baking day, and the cookies got done and so did the laundry, but it wasn't pleasant.

It started somewhere in the wee hours of the morning. I was having one of those stupid nagging dreams (again, some data that was incorrect on some computer document) that woke me. I was aware that I was also struggling with post-nasal drip, a steady stream of it clogging my throat, and my right sinus was on fire. I tried turning from one side to the other, propping up my head, salt spray...nothing helped. I woke James at least once and finally retreated into the spare room where I may have gotten two hours of sleep to add to the initial two. I finally got up with my right sinus feeling like someone was driving a sixpenny nail through.

I had a sketchy breakfast, including some oranges, and, after walking the dog, went to Kroger to see if I could find something to head this off at the pass. My throat was already hurting from the post-nasal drip. The pharmacist wasn't much help; she recommended more Claritin! Oh, please. Once the drip starts, my next stop is a cough and then bronchitis. I've had these colds before. I did buy some Sinex, got another gallon of milk and more yogurt, and beat feet home so I could have some juice and some hot chicken broth, and take some ibuprofin.

I started the laundry and about noon started my baking. It went well except for my runny nose; I can't tell you how many times I washed my hands. I cleaned everything up after the cookies finished and sorted out the clothes. Hard drive is backed up finally as well. My throat is getting more sore all the time and my sinuses feel stuffed with beans.

I had James pick me up some Mucinex on the way home. Need to fight fire with fire.

Chicken sausage with apples and mushroom rice for supper, and a couple of M*A*S*H Christmas episodes ("Dear Dad" and "Dear Sis") and A Pops Holiday Party (a Boston Pops compilation special with Arthur Fiedler, John Williams, and Keith Lockhart).

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» Monday, December 21, 2015
White Rabbits and Rabbit Holes

Yes!!!! Two weeks off work to do Christmasy things! But first back to bed for fifteen minutes because I woke up with a headache, expected because of the disgusting upcoming weather: not only rainy, but hot! Now they're saying 75°F on Christmas Day. If I wanted to live in Florida I would have moved there. (Actually this weather is apparently coming from the vicinity of Hawaii. In that case, only one thing to do about this El Niño villain: "Book 'im, Danno!" ☺ )

Having dispatched breakfast and walked Tucker, I tidied up things for a couple of hours, then I gathered up coupons and went to "see more Christmas." There is an old house on Due West Road converted into a little home decor store called "White Rabbit Cottage," mostly high-price items I really can't afford, but it's lovely to see the Christmas swag. Some of the house remains as it did; the majority of the rooms are walled in horizontal boards. One room has beadboard. The hardwood floor is still intact, and in the kitchen (it's the checkout area, and the cabinets and sink are still there) the wood is painted black and white check to simulate linoleum). There are candles and jewelry and tchotchkes and shawls and decorative spices, dishcloths and plates and candle sheaths, Santa Clauses and angels and reindeer in all different mediums and sizes. I bought something cute and small for James and some interesting "ribbon," multiple strands of green string interrupted at intervals by red string. I also went into the "barn" next door, which has larger items like lamps and sofas, more jewelry and some ornaments.

I also stopped at "Acorn," a similar store less than a mile down the street. I'd seen it advertised in Cobb Life, but never gone there. Again, mostly high end stuff out of my budget, but I did get the prettiest fall "jewel" ornament (on discount; looks like a big colored glass faceted diamond of red, orange, and yellow), a red-and-green Christmas drop (also on discount; like a lamp crystal), and a holly ornament (ditto discount; three green holly leaf ornaments strung with three red beads). The owner's pale-furred Labradoodle was wandering loose around the store; he must be very mellow to be trusted with all these glass items!

Turned around and went back to Barnes & Noble, which was hellishly crowded. There was a line at the café all the way through the magazine section! I did find the Christmas "Landscape" and the December "Period Living." Hope I can find the December "Simple Things." Made note of things I would like to buy after Christmas on discount.

On the way home I stopped at Publix to pick up a few things we'd forgotten, like disposable foil containers for Christmas dinner contributions and also onions. By the time I got home, it was nearly time for James to get home. I walked Tucker again.

I'd taken some pre-cooked pork chops out of the freezer. These had been cooked in barbecue sauce and James warmed them up with more sauce and some juice so they were sweet and yummy. For the evening we watched some Christmas sitcoms: McHale's Navy, "The Day They Captured Santa Claus" where McHale's crew's efforts to help an orphanage runs up against an invasion force; Bewitched, "A Vision of Sugar Plums," in which Samantha wants to return the wonders of Christmas to a cynical orphan played by Billy Mumy; and That Girl: "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid," with a flashback of Ann Marie as a teacher at a private school staying with a little boy who's left alone for the Christmas break. Finally we ended up with Disney's Mickey's Christmas Carol, to make us laugh, and The Small One, which reduces me to puddling goo. I remember listening to this on the radio so long ago, a production narrated by Bing Crosby.

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» Sunday, December 20, 2015
Spicing Up a Sunday

It's Sunday. You know the drill: sleeping late, dog walking, breakfast.

And then we trotted eastward for a trip to Penzey's Spices to pick up a gift. If going downtown to see the antique shop Christmas decorations is a visual sensation, Penzey's is a scent-sation (sorry; couldn't resist). It's a simple store: jars of spices stacked on crates, and a sensory overload for the nasal passages. Open jars for each spice let you experience them aromatically, from acrid garlic to sweet salad powder to biting cinnamon. The Vietnamese cinnamon will really clear your sinuses! There are also extracts in the back: three kinds of vanilla, orange and lemon peel, and others. Plus there are meat rubs and no-salt options, and different kits.

When we finished at Penzey's, we trotted up to Trader Joe's. Alas, we have come too late: we got the last two boxes of cranberry fruit bars, and the peppermint bark and the peppermint JoJos were completely gone. We'll have to hoard the ones we have carefully so we'll have some respite during the summer from...summer. Despite the paucity of favorites, we filled a bag (edameme crackers and all that).

Then we just came home. I took the boneless pork ribs I bought yesterday, browned them, and put them and the fond into the crock pot with two and a half jars of tomato and basil sauce. It cooked fragrantly the rest of the afternoon and the early evening while we read the paper, listened to Christmas music, watched A Christmas Story after a minor bobble with the player, then tuned into The Librarians, who were in a small town named Cicely...with a totem pole...but it wasn't in Alaska. This was followed by the Christmas episode of Alaska: the Last Frontier, and then we put the completed gravy up. Now we can have spaghetti for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner again.

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» Saturday, December 19, 2015
The Costco Before Christmas

I don't like my alarm clock even when it's waking me up to something good.

Actually it was only a middling action: trip to Costco. On the Saturday before Christmas. Yeah. I know, but we needed Claritin. So after a sketchy breakfast and a dog walk, we managed to get to the store seven minutes after opening. The parking lot was already full and one handicapped space was left.

We did get the Claritin, plus Flonase for James, some chicken soup for Sunday supper, a gift, Jamaican meat patties, mushrooms, milk, mandarin oranges, and tomato sauce, wandered about the books and DVDs, and waited in a long, long line at checkout, and got held up because there wasn't a barcode on the soup. Eventually we made it out.

After we put up the groceries, James wanted to stop at the Bead Shop since it's the only independent place around that sells models any longer. I took the opportunity to take a nap in the cab of the truck.

Finally we threaded our way through the freeway and had a nice ride through West Paces Ferry Road with its stately houses and wreath-garland-and-red-ribbon decorations (and once again, the variety of greens with a red bow on the mailboxes). We had to jockey through the parking lot to find something near Barnes & Noble (the one in Buckhead is next to a Publix), but after that had a good browse round the shelves. I found almost too many magazines (except the Christmas issue of "Landscape," which I guess is delayed by the overseas mail). I did find the winter issue of "This England" as well as the yearly Annual they put out, a magazine I've never heard of, "Mystery Scene," which has an article about Foyle's War, the December "Cape Cod Life," and two issues of the British magazine "The Simple Things," October and November. (There seem to be a lot of December issues of magazines missing. "Period Living" and "Style at Home" are also still on November.) I used my 25 percent off coupon on the new Bryant and May novel. James bought me a book for Christmas (the third John and Carole Barrowman fantasy) and a sequel in a series he reads and a couple of aviation magazines.

On the way home we came by the Publix at Macland Road and I bought some yogurt, buns, turkey salad and a bottle of Coke Zero for James, and a small apple pie while James picked up our order from Dragon 168. Tucker was so enthralled with the smell of the food he didn't ask to go out until after we finished eating. Spent the evening watching the "Advent and Christmas" segments of Feasts & Seasons and then all the Prep & Landing specials. They're so tinsel!

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Flourish

» Friday, December 18, 2015
A Christmas Stroll

"On the first day of freedom, my schedule gave to me..."

Don't have to be back to work until January 4. Yayyy.

So I'd originally planned to bake today. But it's supposed to be only in the 40s today and warmer by next week. As far as I'm concerned, walking in 60 degree weather is as bad as swimming in 40 degree weather. Who wants to walk when it's warm? And cold the way it's cold today—stuck on 45°F with a brisk wind—also means I can't open the back door when the kitchen's too hot because Snowy might get a draft.

It was a strange morning. I woke about 5:38 to use the bathroom. Funny, James wasn't in bed, and he wasn't in the bathroom. I remembered him moving around earlier, and I wondered if he had woken up thinking the alarm had rung and had already gone off to work! No, turned out he was in the spare room sitting up wrapped in a blanket. His nose was completely clogged and he hadn't slept a wink because he couldn't breathe. I propped him up on pillows and went back to bed; I couldn't sleep and neither could he, so he came back to bed and we lifted the head of the bed up. I reset my alarm, but it still rang at the original time. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep after 5:38.

The rest of the day went better. I had breakfast and walked Tucker, and left James to get some more sleep (he did) and lucked out finding a parking space right on the Square. They have a "ice rink" there this year and people were lined up for it. The bandstand is filled with a giant nativity scene, sponsored by a local Christian group, and the Christmas tree and the gazebo are covered with crimson bows and green garland.

I stopped at the Antique Store/audiophile store first. Luke the white standard poodle was in this morning and he came to greet me. They don't usually decorate but I enjoyed poking around the books and old items, including a big tall Victrola cabinet and at least two stolid little cube-shaped Brownie Hawkeye cameras, which is what we had when I was a little girl (although I can't remember if we had the flashgun, too).

Then I walked directly down to Dupre's Antiques. This used to be a big hardware and feed store until the early-80s, when it closed. They still have a wall of advertisements and waybills in one corner. It's filled with little booths of various antiques from knicknacks to china to framed art to old furniture. At Christmastime they pull out all the antique Christmas items (and some new ones, too) and dress the store. Sometimes it's a decorated tree, sometimes it's just the simplest things: a few ornaments in a bowl, or a string of lights, or some garland. I always love to see it, since after Christmas everything goes back to being mundane. They had a big hand-carved rocking horse (not an antique, but a beauty!) in front. I spent most of my time there.

Next I walked down past Hemingways (where I had lunch two weeks ago) and the new Italian restaurant and the ballet school to The Keeping Room, which sells spices, soup mixes, grains ground at Nora Mill, aprons, and other cooking items. I tried some flavored olive oils and balsamics and rubs (the lemon balsamic was absolutely wonderful), but they were very expensive. From there I walked the third side of the Square. Ducked into Sweetcakes, which is a bakery. and even they didn't have gingerbread boys! Stopped at the Christmas Shoppe (which is a real Christmas store, not a cheat like the "Christmas Tree Shops" which sell pool crap in the summer) to look at all the different ornaments. They have different football teams, colleges, and then the blown glass made by Radko and Olde Fashioned Christmas (we have several ornaments from the latter that we got at the National Christmas Museum, including St. Nicholas, St. Francis, and a grandfather clock).

But no gingerbread boys.

Crossed through Glover Park to get a closer look at the stage, the tree, the gazebo, and the ice rink (which was being re-groomed), and then finally went back to the Local Exchange (which is a store—duh—that sells local products). Found some yummy Italian-seasoned pretzels and bought a large cookie for James and I to split. Stopped next door at the Corner Shoppe (the British store) to see what goodies they had; she'd just received a big shipment of Doctor Who datebooks and what looked like Downton Abbey datebooks, too.

Finally I stopped at the Australian Bakery Cafe, where I bought two chocolate shortbread cookies and asked about gingerbread. They're getting some Monday, they said. Damn.

I got back to the car with minutes to spare (it's only two hours free parking) and went to the closest place I could think of with a public bathroom, the library. I checked out the Christmas books and the history books, plus the books they keep for sale. I was quite tempted by an entire set of the Little Colonel books, but instead I went to Dunkin Donuts and bought a grilled cheese sandwich. I ate in the car and spent the entire time tossing bits of bread crust out to the sparrows and watching the leaves. They were driven about by the brisk wind and almost looked like little birds flying themselves as they swept by or described little circles against the pavement.

From there I went on to the Cobb Antique Market near the Big Chicken. This is also decorated for Christmas, some booths more than others. This place has a lot of furniture as compared to Dupre's, from little bookcases to some really huge sideboards. I was particularly enchanted with one small four-shelf bookcase with two shelves with doors. One of the doors revealed an old radio set!

I was particularly tickled that they had no less than three glass-fronted mahogany secretaries just like the one my godmother used to have—it made me a little melancholy. I would have loved to have taken home a bunch of their furniture. They had a wonderful coat tree that actually would have fit in the foyer—but the price on it definitely wouldn't have fit my budget! In fact, any of the mahogany secretaries were cheaper than this coat tree! Then there was the IBM Selectric (once the superstar of office technology), a creaky old Underwood portable, the collection of books in one booth that included The Rover Boys, old hair dryer chairs from a 1950s hairdresser, lovely hutches lined with old china, Fiestaware, ruby glass, china shepherdesses that wouldn't have been out of place on Ma Ingall's whatnot, vintage signs and photographs, old Christmas costume jewelry, and more.

By now it was after three and I was very, very sleepy. I drove home dodging school buses and the worst Friday afternoon traffic ever to find out James had gotten a little more sleep, and took a nap myself.

For supper we went to Shane's barbecue and damn near froze to death. Really. It's winter and I expect it to be cold out. It was very crisp and nice today for walking, and pretty cold tonight with the wind sending icy fingers down your neck. However, when you're sitting in a restaurant eating dinner you want it to be comfortable. Not hot, not stuffy warm...but not ice cold, either. It was really miserable trying to eat and keep warm at the same time, and the food got cold almost immediately. They've also remodeled and put these hideously bright can lights overhead. Not very cozy anymore.

Thankfully, our other stop, Barnes & Noble, was nice and warm. Looked around but decided to save our coupons and go into Buckhead to see if there were any better choices. I noticed there's another book out by John Barrowman and his sister, and I'm strangely temped by Rainbow Rowell's Carry On. (This book has a odd history. Rowell wrote a novel called Fangirl about twin sisters who go off to college. Cath and Wren have always been close and write fanfiction in the universe of the Simon Snow books (similar to Harry Potter, with a wizardry school) in which Simon and his "best enemy" Baz are the main characters. Wren turns wild child at college and gets drunk all the time, but Cath eventually comes out of her shell thanks to her long-suffering roommate and a cute guy, but at first takes refuge in her Simon/Baz fanfic. Rowell was so intrigued by the fanfiction world she made up that she wrote her own Simon and Baz book).

Anyway, out of Claritin, so must go to Costco tomorrow. Costco the Saturday before Christmas. Aieeee.

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Flourish

» Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Sparkles on the Road

Our awards ceremony apparently was a topping success, so everyone got 59 minutes of administrative leave. According to the traffic maps, everything was already a fat, hot red mess boiling up to burgundy, so I drove home "overland" through surface streets, stopping for about fifteen minutes at Atlanta Vintage Books. Sadly, they had no Christmas books except for recipe books, and their regional section didn't have any New England books I was interested in. I did get a good look at two of the bookstore cats, two magnificent longhairs, one a calico (I'm partial to calicoes).

This is my usual street route: from I-85 south to Shallowford Road, turn left at Dresden Drive and go until the road ends, cross Peachtree Road and go between the SunTrust Bank (my first bank when I moved to Atlanta) and the Dunkin Donuts, hang a right at the Y-junction at the golf course. This is the Brookhaven neighborhood, which goes back to 1910, with stately brick or white houses, and most of the homes have fir boughs tied with red bows (some with berries, or bells) on their mailboxes, and the decorations are very classic: green wreaths or garlands and red bows, white lights. As you turn right on Mabry, the houses are a mix of older ones from the 1960s and new construction—lots of brick. (And one sore-thumb house replacing an old ranch, a modern monstrosity of concrete and glass which is so hideously ugly that I flinch when I go by it because it looks like a dentist's office.) My favorite house in all of Brookhaven is here, a brick structure that reminds me of an English hunting lodge. I imagine the interior: all dark wood baseboards and molding, hardwood floors, staircases with turned bannisters, a lovely kitchen with an Aga and a Belfast sink...of course, I have no idea what the interior really looks like; it could be white and stainless steel for all I know. But that's what I imagine, and how I would love to decorate it! (And look at that little arched window up on the right—what a perfect place for a writer's aerie.)

Then left on Windsor, over the bridge that crosses GA400, past a row of wonderful Craftsman-style brick homes, left on Roswell Road, and then immediately right on West Wieuca to go through Chastain Park. Three horses were being exercised at the equestrian ring as I turned right at the end of the park on to Powers Ferry Road, then almost immediately left on Jett Ferry. This eventually took me through a tree-crowded neighborhood until it was time for me to turn left on Mount Paran Road.

Mount Paran is mostly a wealthy neighborhood with homes wayyyyyy beyond money I'll ever see, especially the newer ones, which, if for sale, are being sold by Christie's and Sotheby's. One just recently constructed, a sprawling brick job with a fountain and pond in the front yard and a porte cochere, is for sale again.

Further down, around the intersection of West Conway, is a small development of McMansions (including an Italianate house that looks like a wealthy financier's country home) off a dead-end street. The guy on the corner is the one we call "Mr. Inflatable." With this imposing looking house which begged for classic Christmas decorations, he instead covered the sizable lawn completely with inflatable decorations (he also had dozens at Hallowe'en). We always go by to gape. Alas, "Mr. Inflatable" is gone. The house is under contract to a new buyer. (Come to think of it, there were a lot of "For Sale" signs in this whole neighborhood. Perhaps the Atlanta economy isn't as good as they say. But, damn, they're still building apartments, condos, and duplexes with a vengeance.)

The rest of the ride was annoying. Once I got to highway 41, traffic reappeared. I tried to get around Cumberland Mall by going through Windy Hill, but the line at the light was thirty cars long and only four or five cars were getting through per cycle. I finally doubled back to Spring Road, where the traffic was at least normal rush hour instead of "lawd-a-mercy the traffic map's gone burgundy."

I hadn't taken that ride in ages. Would have been a beautiful one a few weeks ago had the trees turned properly, but that ten days of rain did them in. Still, the Christmas decorations made it all brighter.

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Flourish

» Sunday, December 13, 2015
A Radio Christmas

Before one can play, one must work, so it was up this morning to give Tucker a quick trot around the neighborhood, and then we grabbed a BelVita bar each and went grocery shopping. We got soup for supper and other essentials at Kroger, and also stopped briefly at Publix to get the chicken and ham salads James eats for snacks instead of noshing on sweets. Once we had all the groceries put up, we took a little breather, then set out southbound on I-75 to Stockbridge, where ARTC is performing this year's edition of An Atlanta Christmas. I was worried about traffic around Southlake Mall; I should have worried about the speeders—it was like the Atlanta Motor Speedway out there. We had the windows down all the way; what weather we are having, up into the low 70s. Mosquitoes are out and the air is all full of particulates and trees are blooming. No wonder our noses are stuffed and my joints are aching.

We arrived at Stockbridge about 1:20 and went to the Piccadilly Cafeteria for lunch. James had some turkey and I had the chicken cacciatore (which, frankly, didn't have enough chicken, but the onions were plentiful—but I don't dare eat that many) on top of spaghetti. We shared a piece of "chocolate cake" which turned out to be a really thick brownie. Wow. Chocolate overload.

For the next two hours we were at the theatre and enjoyed this year's version of the Christmas show (it has separate elements which can be included or rearraged for a different experience each time), which included many of my favorites, including the wistful "Are You Lonely Tonight?" and its humorous sequel, "The Experts," the wonderfully nostalgic "Davy Crockett and Me," and the funny "Legend of the Poinsettia" and "Blue HanukkaChristmas Carol" (in which a man who's missed his flight out of Atlanta due to fog and is home alone on Christmas Eve meets three definitely peculiar ghosts), plus more. Music was provided by a transgender group called Spectrum who sang seasonal favorites plus an absolutely hilarious song called "Chiron Beta Prime."

If we thought traffic was crazy on the way down, we hadn't seen anything yet. James was doing 75 and at one point four motorcycles came zooming past us doing fast lane switches like they were some sort of performing team. One of them cut in front of us so sharply that the bike tilted at a 30 degree angle to the pavement!

By the time we arrived home, it was suppertime. I took Tucker for his evening walk, then we had our soup and ended up watching America's Funniest Home Videos, with lots of footage of falling Christmas trees.

This week's episode of The Librarians brought Ezekiel front and center and showed what he could be—but of course there was that little twist at the end. And the little fillip with Jenkins just as the final scene faded out does not bode well for our merry troop.

Finally it was Alaska: the Last Frontier. Next week is their Christmas episode.

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Flourish

» Saturday, December 12, 2015
A Tree is Calling

A naked Christmas tree was calling me. I had the alarm set for 9:30, but just before nine one of those tree branches was figuratively poking me. "I'm out here. Decorate me." Then the phone rang—stupid robocall.

So I answered Hope [the tree] rather than Morpheus, despite his being a very persuasive guy. But first I had to answer the call of nature and the call of the canis familiaris. (It's entirely too early for all these calls...)

Anyway, after breakfast James dug in his model stash for something to take to the model club gift exchange, and I wrapped both that and the duplicate Hallmark ornament he'd bought for the occasion for him, and sent him off for his monthly luncheon with the guys and the annual "Dirty Santa" game. The temperature was already in the mid-60s and headed up to the 70s, so I put on the lightest thing I had, a sleeveless duster, and commenced to decoration: get all the boxes of ornaments out of the big box, put the older ornaments up on the back of the tree, including my lovely little horns and bells that came from McCrory at Macon Mall and the frosted red balls that look like the ones on the druggist's tree in The House Without a Christmas Tree, some others at the back or the bottom to fill in the glitter, even though the back won't be seen, then on the front and the visible side the large glass ornaments, the large Hallmark ornaments, and finally the smaller ones fit in the gaps of the larger ones.

This is the perfect time to watch most of the Christmas specials that James isn't as fond of, so it was a wonderful orgy: Christmas Is, The City That Forgot About Christmas, the two For Better or For Worse Christmas cartoons ("The Bestest Present" and "The Christmas Angel"), It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas (the inside jokes are still hysterical; I love "William Shatner" narrating "Little Drummer Boy"), Raggedy Ann and Andy: The Great Santa Claus Caper (which has the same closing credit music as A Very Merry Cricket, The Simpsons Christmas Special, and finally the original A Christmas Memory with Geraldine Page, which reduced me to a blubbering mess. I finished tinseling before I was halfway through The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and I hadn't really been paying attention to it, besides rolling my eyes at Alice Wendlekin.

Then I had to vacuum quickly before I could run downstairs to get the manger set and place the figures piece by piece into the stable. Every chipped figure is as familiar to me as my name; some of the pieces are as old as I am. Mary still has the 15¢ grease pencil mark on the unpainted chalkware surface under her kneeling body.

Then I vacuumed again and by the time I was done with that James was home. I took a quick shower because I was drenched in perspiration. When I was putting the tinsel on, I had to put a glove on my left hand, which was holding the tinsel because my hand was so soppy from sweat that it was making the tinsel stick to my hand. Then I got dressed, because I had assumed we were going to see ARTC tonight, but James' back was particularly hurting him and mine was feeling none-too-well at this point.

So we just reloaded the power chair and went to West Cobb Diner for dinner. I was ravenous; in my obsession with the Christmas tree I'd had only my gingerbread boy and a glass of milk since breakfast. I ate that turkey and dressing up tooth and toenail, and the cucumber and tomato salad, too. Afterwards we went to Barnes & Noble, where I got the final book in the Apothecary trilogy, the January "Country Sampler" (::sob:: already!) and the new "Small Room Decorating." (You need decorating porn once in a while.) I was looking for a December "Period Living," but they still have November, and where is the Christmas "Landscape"? I must go into Buckhead!

Came home to read and listen to Christmas music on Dish's Traditional Holidays channel.

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Flourish

» Friday, December 11, 2015
The Birthday "Girl"

Surprise! My first birthday event was a screaming nightmare at 1:32 a.m. I never know where these come from. I vaguely remember a dream where it began getting darker and darker, and I woke up not knowing where I was and demanding of James why it was so dark, to which of course he replied that it was night and we were in bed. The scariest thing about these nightmares is how hard my heart pounds afterwards. It sounds like a kettledrum that's going to explode. Here I am, sixty today, and I still have the same night terrors I did when I was six.

So after a slightly interrupted eight hours sleep, we—for James asked his supervisor if he could have today off instead of Thursday in exchange for his working last Saturday—got up and had breakfast (I was fantasizing about breakfast at Trish's, but Cosby is a bit of a commute), and Tucker went on his morning walk. We headed out about 10:30 going toward MicroCenter; James is looking for a Bluetooth headset for use in working at home. Big surprise where they keep the computers/televisions; they've cleared all the big screens out and filled the room with laptops and desktops. I don't game, but the gaming machines look prime—16GB of RAM! Anyway, he didn't see anything appropriate.

We went on to have lunch at Sabor Do Brasil. We haven't done Brazilian since Copacabana Grill closed. This is a tiny place with a few meats and some rice dishes and vegetables on the bar, and then of course you get the meat off the grill. I enjoyed the plain sirloin the best, although I tried the bacon-wrapped sirloin. Something about steak that tastes like bacon was just wrong, and it was a little dry, but altogether the meal was satisfactory.

Then we headed up to Books-a-Million in Acworth. We had a great time looking through the store and I bought a couple of things for the Toys for Tots collection at work and the "Life" Santa magazine. James picked up a few magazines and then we sat at the coffee shop and had frozen hot chocolate (since it was 71°F out at the time)—and they had gingerbread boys! Three bakeries searched and I find gingerbread boys in a bookstore. Go figure. I saved mine for later.

Came home through Due West Road amongst all the school buses. When we got home I found the zip ties and put the mailbox cover on. Hope it keeps someone from swiping it; I'm on my third one since we moved here. Then I walked Tucker—and little Jack Wallace wished me an enthusiastic happy birthday!—and we came inside to watch Christmas specials for the rest of the evening: something on Discovery Family about extreme Christmas lights, the British history special Christmas Past, the Hill Street Blues episode "Santaclaustrophobia," and John Denver and the Muppets. I had brought the Christmas tree parts upstairs this morning and put them together and made sure the lights worked (and got up on the ladder and put the plastic diverter on the air vent, so the tinsel wouldn't get blown about), and when we got home James brought the ornament box up, I put the star on top and strung the extension cord for it down the tree trunk and then proceeded to "fluff" and make sure all the lights were visible. Just the fluffing took almost 90 minutes. About then I quit because it was so warm; I've turned the air conditioner back on. But the tree's lit anyway; it's just naked. :-)

I love a blank Christmas tree. It's like a wonderful piece of canvas, waiting to be filled.

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Flourish

» Sunday, December 06, 2015
One More Ornament Premiere

Yes, Hallmark keeps milking it more each year. But if they're going to thrust coupons at me, I'm going to take them!

Since I'd done the shopping yesterday we had nothing to do but sleep late, and wasn't that nice? After breakfast we went out to Betsy's Hallmark at Merchant's Walk because (a) I had Hallmark coupons and James wanted to get two ornaments for his club meeting's "Dirty Santa" next weekend and (b) I had a 40 percent off coupon for the store itself. Since it was Sunday we didn't have to worry about the construction on Terrell Mill Road. James got one model (the Waco), but the Mustang was sold out even when the attendant called around. I'll bet all the collectors got them. With the coupon I bought him a magnetic pocket to use on his power chair.

Then we cut through East Piedmont Road and went to the Barnes & Noble at Town Center to look around, but didn't stay long. We had to get home in time for me to wrap both Neil's and Lin's birthday gifts, for we had to be at Longhorn at 5:30. We had the same long arrangement of tables as last time. Ron and Lin bought some spicy appetizers for the table, but James and I tried the new cheese dip with pita. Oh, gosh, that was good. I wrapped up a large portion of my six-ounce steak for a lunch instead. We had a fun time.

Thankfully, it was a relaxing evening watching The Librarians and Alaska: the Last Frontier. In the latter it was the episode where Atz Lee has his accident. He broke 27 bones; after falling off a 40-foot cliff he's lucky to be alive.

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Flourish

» Saturday, December 05, 2015
Christmas Pilgrims

The weather report was auspicious; it was going to be chilly to cool today! Last year was a bit of a bust anyway, but I had not attended the Marietta Pilgrimage Christmas Home Tour the year before because it was just too warm to go walking out in the sun. Yesterday I stopped downtown to get my ticket and this morning I was off before James ever left for work to park downtown behind Johnnie McCracken's pub, stroll through Glover Park, check on what was going on at the Farmer's Market, and head to Mill Street to catch the bus to the first house. I left the house with my jacket on, but realized it would be a liability when it got into the 60s later on. So I just left the flannel shirt over my sweatshirt, grabbed my light hat, and stuffed little snacks into my pouch, and I'd stopped at Walgreen's to get a pack of sugarless gum to keep me from getting dry. I hadn't had breakfast, so I munched a BelVita bar on my walk. I also had a 90-calorie brownie, a packet of peanuts, and a packet of crackers with me, which I ate over the morning and held me until I had lunch after two.

The first stop was the Harrison-Heck-Savic House circa 1900, a lovely Victorian with modest gingerbread trimmings. The current owners started restoring it in 2009 and, especially compared to the pictures, where the big verandah is all closed in, it is simply gorgeous. Hardwood floors throughout, a formal parlor in the front and a dining room on the side with the original stained glass window with diamond-shaped panes of colored glass in it. (There is a matching window upstairs which they had made to duplicate the original. From the outside you can't tell the difference.) Upstairs there is a turret porch and a darling bathroom with old-fashioned tiles. The two rooms on the back of the house, a big eat-in kitchen and a den, mold seamlessly with the old house and even have the same beautiful brown crown molding throughout.

This ended being the only house without a line to get in, although there was one by the time we left, and most of the tour was spent in lines.

The next home, Setter's Run, is from 1934, and although it looks like a tiny cottage from the front, it is huge inside, 6,000 square feet. There was quite a wait for this one, and I was entertained by the three ladies behind me who evidently do this every year and who were trying to keep warm. I was a little chilly myself, but knew I'd be happier later on. Anyway, the house is called "Setter's Run" because the owners have always had English setters, and there is a setter plaque on the door and setter heads incised on the window shutters. Inside there all the doorways were arched on the the first floor; you walked through a living room (with a piano that had survived in Europe during World War II!), and a dining room which was once a brick porch. There is a new kitchen; the old one was a galley kitchen and so narrow the table and chairs were foldout benches (the owners had this feature re-installed downstairs in the family room because it was so clever). The hallway to the upper story is filled with family portraits going back to the 1830s, and there is an old butler's pantry that now shows off the owner's mother's china collection.

The next four houses were all in a row on Church Street and there were long lines at each but the last, which had a short line. I was glad I brought my seat cane and my snacks! The Clay-Willingham-Cook house was built in 1914 and originally had a little porch tacked on the side; the porch is now a sun room. The house has all sorts of beautiful items from that era, although it is decorated in a modern/vintage style that somehow went together, much less traditionally than the other homes. It was built by the son of Alexander Stephens Clay, whose statue stands in Glover park, and the next owner was the brother of the woman who founded the Atlanta League of Women Voters.

Number four was a house James and I had seen previously in 2006 (and most of this is my commentary from the last time), the Northcutt-Whitaker-Gillis House from 1915, a big square house with a big front and side porch and a pool house in the back, painted grey with burgundy and hunter green trim.

It is just as lovely inside. The owners have enlarged and restored it. It has front and back stairs, beautiful hardwood floors, enclosed porches, and wonderful decorations. A big glass curio cabinet contains little doll-like figures from Germany. On the wall upstairs after you climb the stairs, 25 years' worth of the children's pictures with Santa are displayed.

The funniest thing was in the remodeled kitchen, which is beautiful without being pretentious. There was a photo on the counter of the kitchen before it was remodeled; the owners had entered the room in a Good Housekeeping "ugliest kitchen in the United States" contest in which the prize was a remodeling and had thought they had won, but they only got a cash prize, which they used to start a remodel. Boy, was it ugly (plus it had an electric stove—ick!); as the docent in 2006 commented, "I'd hate to see the kitchen that won!"

(They did not have the feather tree with the cross-stitched ornaments this time. I was a little sad. The Irish tree they had instead was very pretty, although I was amused to see Merida on the tree. She's Scots, not Irish!)

The penultimate house was the Reece-Wade-Sanstead House, circa 1940, with the obligatory telephone nook, tiny black-and-white tiles in the bathroom, Art Deco furnishings, a little sign on the basement door that warned you not to let the cat out, a compact but actually roomy kitchen. In keeping with the home's Art Deco themes, the tree was white and silver, but one red ornament at the top represented the lady of the house's mother. (Everyone kept saying "awwww" because the woman who owned the house was always leaving little romantic/sentimental touches around the house.) And in addition to all that goodness, there was a spiral staircase leading down from the deck. I loved it!

Finally the last house, the 1924 Hagood-McNabb House. The McNabbs, the current owners, used to own a distillery that is now part of Dewars. The house has a long central corridor with a formal parlor on one side decorated chiefly with Chinoserie, Mrs. McNabb's favorite, and a study on the other side belongs to Mr. McNabb, very masculine, dark furniture and shelves all the way up the tall ceilings, completely crammed with books, with a Christmas tree of his interests, and a big painting of a Scotsman in a kilt over the desk. There were front stairs and back stairs, the latter which led to a completely remodeled kitchen. The upstairs used to be a half story, and was now a full story, with as many vintage parts used as possible; the back stairs are also from the 1920s, but from another house that was torn down, again, all dark beautiful woodwork, with a modern family room at the back decorated with specialty toys.

Very tired and very hungry now, caught the bus back to downtown and had lunch—well, I had an appetizer, really, a plate of potato skins that were absolutely delicious and make me miss those trivia nights at Rockford's all the more.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Museum of History, formerly the Kennesaw House, a hotel. The book sale woman was indeed wrong; there was not a World War I exhibit at all. The changing exhibit this year was of baby boomer toys, and I was happy to see some favorites there: a stuffed Lassie, Whitman books, old board games, a Beany (from Beany and Cecil) figurine, "Highlights" and "Boy's Life," models, paper dolls, etc. (Following is more description from the last visit.) The museum is small and rather a hotchpotch of things, but it was great browsing. Also in this gallery was a collection of music-making instruments, from an old-fashioned hurdy gurdy to a 1950s "hi-fi." The docent played some of these items for us, including the hurdy gurdy, a music box, and the Edison cylinder machine. Off in a corner were some memorabilia taken from the old courthouse, and a model of a 1940s kitchen with all sorts of old brand name items scattered about.

There were two military galleries: one was from the Revolutionary War to modern times, with a collection of pistols and rifles from Mr. Dupre, who used to run a store on the Square (it is now an antiques market). This had small cases devoted to different subjects: the Holocaust, women in the military, etc. The other was a Civil War gallery with relics having been dug up in the area, and of course an exhibit about the Great Locomotive Chase, which was planned right there in the Kennesaw House. Another room is a reproduction of one of the rooms at the Kennesaw House, complete with big heavy bed and furniture and a fireplace.

Finally there was a rather mixed gallery of local interests: memorabilia from businesses around the square, like a beauty shop—this had an original permanent machine, which looked like something to electrocute prisoners—and a fluoroscope like the ones that used to be in shoe stores to look at the bones in your feet), more war memorabilia, printing presses and typecases, an old wringer washer, saws, doctor's equipment, and many other objects. A corner was devoted to the lynching of Leo Frank and another area discussed segregation and Jim Crow. At the very back is a big fold-out Victorian dollhouse, all completely furnished down to the small figures.

The museum closed at four, so I bought a Christmas CD (sequel to the one I bought the last time I was here in 2008), and then, because I'm a total idiot and did not want to go shopping tomorrow morning, stopped at Kroger and got the shopping done. There was no one in line when I got there, but everyone in line when I was ready to check out, and it took people over twenty minutes just to get to a register. I wasn't the only one who was disgusted.

Took Tucker right out when I got home so I could finally rest my feet; had leftovers for supper and mostly listened to Christmas music. James didn't get home until 9:30, just about time for me to take Tucker out again!


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» Friday, December 04, 2015
Getting Ready for Christmas

It was take-a-break-in-the-decorating day. That's what I've been doing most of the week, cleaning, putting away Thanksgiving decorations in their puzzle-box combinations, and putting up Christmas ones. I'm about half done: kitchen, dining room, living room (except for the tree), bedroom, hall bathroom, hallway, and part of the spare room. The woodland tree ornaments are in the spare room but I still have to get the woodland tree out of the library box (it's in with James' airplane tree and the library tree). I've dusted, polished, and neatened, written out Christmas cards and mailed most of them, and taken the fall magazines downstairs.

We had a heavy frost last night and the lawns were still coated and the roofs sugary-looking when I walked Tucker. The sun was just over the trees and where it struck the roofs they were clear, but I noted with some interest that there was a clear dividing line between the now-dried sunned roofs and the still-frosty shady roofs; it looked as if someone had marked the division with a white watercolor marker. Quite striking!

This morning I wrapped and made ready for mailing the five out-of-town packages. Discovered to my dismay that I had only two padded envelopes. Luckily I had my camera box for one gift and an old Amazon box for the other, and I had enough brown paper to wrap the third, which wouldn't fit in a padded envelope anyway. I loaded these in a Xerox paper box and was off to the Apple Annie craft show by way of the Mount Bethel post office (and Publix, where I stopped for cash).

Apple Annie was fun, but most of the things I saw that I loved were expensive, so I passed on them. One woman did beautiful nature photographs and had two handsome pictures of a gorgeous hawk. The papyrus lady was there, but I didn't see anything of hers that I loved that I didn't already have. There were gorgeous inlaid cutting boards and intricate jewelry; not a lot of cutsey-poo "grandma gifts" for the grandchildren this year. One man makes one-of-a-kind wooden crosses, another "glass art" that also functions as containers. I miss "the prim lady." My prims are all the more special now. The bakery goods were uniformly overly sweet; I usually buy something and take it home for a dessert but skipped this year.

Instead I spent a nice quiet interlude in the courtyard, and then went into the sanctuary to pray for a while before heading home.

Passed by the new Sprouts, but they are still closed while waiting for a stinky liquor license. Did stop at Book Nook, but nothing unique there this time. At this point the glare of the sun was making thousands of little nails stick into my head, so I just headed downtown to pick up my tour of homes ticket, since they're $5 more tomorrow. I'm excited about the tour of homes, but I'm really looking forward to the free admission to the museum just to see if the lady I spoke to was correct and there was a World War I homefront exhibit. WWII homefront exhibits are wonderful, but are a dime-a-dozen, WWI would be unique.

I started to think that what I was in the mood for was a gingerbread boy. Not gingersnaps or ginger cookies, and not cake gingerbread, but a crunchy-crust chewy-inside gingerbread boy, like the kind Addie and Grandma are making in The House Without a Christmas Tree. There's a paucity of bakeries around here, but at Christmas surely one of the few would have gingerbread boys.

Struck out. Royally. The Australian Bakery had none at all. I stopped at The Corner Shop (the British store) and they had lots of goodies from across the pond, but no gingerbread. Bernhard's had gingerbread, but it was backed with chocolate and ::shudder:: iced. McEntyre's was my last hope, and they had lots of goodies (cupcakes, cookies, pastries), but no gingerbread boys. Can you beat that?

By the time I got home, the little nails had turned into drumsticks. Lassie was just starting on Angel2, but instead I took off my shoes and took refuge on that luscious futon until right before James came home (he was tardy due to a late call).

We had supper at Giovanni's, sitting smack next to the Christmas tree, and then went to Barnes & Noble at the Avenue at West Cobb, where I bought the mystery I saw last week taking place in WWI-era Alaska. Saw two keen books, one on Roman sites in Great Britain and another claiming that our languages today come directly from Stone Age sounds.

By the time we got home it was time to perambulate the pooch again. As we drove up to the house, we could hear an owl hooting from the trees at the back of the house. We haven't heard an owl in years, since we first moved in. This one was quite vocal, calling through our whole walk, although fainter up in the cul-de-sac. He must be quite close to the back of our house. It was already frosty outside, and the stars looked like little ice chips. Orion's Belt was tipped all the way on its left side and looked like it was balancing on our chimney as we stood in the driveway and I listened for the owl.

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