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» Sunday, August 20, 2017The Great American Eclipse 2017, Part 1: Bug Out
"As we say when approaching a tall piece of cheddar, better start from the top." . . . . . Father Mouse, Twas the Night Before Christmas
Back in March when we were at Atomicon, some talk emerged about the upcoming eclipse, so when I made reservations for next year, on a whim I put in a reservation for the Monday night of the eclipse. Now I didn't think I had a chance in hell of getting two days off during end of fiscal year, but if I did I thought we could just toss a change of clothes in a suitcase, take the fids to the vet, and go up early Monday morning, watch the eclipse with everyone and have dinner, then leave the next morning. After all, we had gone to the eclipse panel at Anachrocon, received free glasses, and it sounded incredible. We'd had a partial eclipse here in 1991—I remember going out to the parking deck at work and seeing "the crescents"; the leaves of the tree growing out of the deck of the bar near our parking lot acted like a pinhole camera and reflected the crescent sun on the concrete parking lot—but neither James nor I had ever seen a total eclipse.
I put in a leave slip and, to my surprise, got the leave. James also was allowed to take two days' vacation.
Then the news stories started popping up. This wasn't going to just be a "teaching moment" for schools while people rushed outside at work with eclipse glasses enjoy the show. Expeditions were being planned. Rabun County, up in northeastern Georgia in the longest part of totality, was planning a big "do." James commented that he wished we'd made reservations for Sunday night, too, because the closer the event came, the more concerned he was that we might start out Monday morning and find ourselves in a traffic jam, since the vet didn't open until 7:30. So about mid-July I hunted online and found a room for us Sunday night. (I won't mention the name of the lodgings due to what happened later on.)
We were very excited about this coming up. And then came last week's Cold. If it had been a mild sore throat and a little runny nose, I wouldn't have cared. But the pain in my throat was tremendous. Swallowing was more painful than when I had the mumps. I don't go to the doctor twice within four days for nothing, and to be told your throat wasn't irritated on Monday and end up with "a fever blister" on my throat by Thursday was frustrating. I couldn't sleep, I felt so bad I couldn't even read, I had work I wanted to finish and at least one purchase order that's pretty much blown up in my face. And I had a trip to plan with a fuzzy head and a ringing ear and a runny nose and a sore throat that felt like strep.
Nevertheless, everything got packed from all the medicines to the charge cords for the cell phones.
Saturday night when we got home from Ron's birthday dinner we noticed there were messages on the answering machine that we hadn't listened to. Most were from Kaiser, but one was from the vet—they were having employee appreciation day on Sunday and would be closed! Well, they would be closed after 9 a.m., anyway. We would have to be there early, but we were planning to do that anyway.
Needless to say, neither of us got a lot of sleep, but I think I clocked in at two or so hours. We tossed suitcases, C-PAP, food to share, the charger for the power chair, and the power chair in the truck, then I woke Snowy up, and before he could protest, plucked him from his nighttime perch and put him into the carry box (where, of course, he promptly began courting the cute bird in the mirror). The cage went into a big trash bag to load in the truck, and once Tucker and Snowy were aboard as well, we were on our way.
The vet's office was deserted when we got there, and I was quite upset. But there was a car parked next to us, and it turned out it was one of the vet techs waiting for someone to show up with the keys. Soon Dr. Mike and more staff arrived, and I used one of the exam rooms to transfer Snowy back into his cage—Snowy is a seasoned traveler and sang through the entire journey—and fill his water dishes and food dish. Tucker wildly sniffed around the small room until Dr. Mike entered and squatted down to meet him and then he went wagging into his arms. Not at all like Miss Willow who was Daddy's little girl only and had to be bodily removed, crying the whole time.
And then they were gone and we were on our way after breakfast at Panera. By that time we needed it!
We had an uneventful ride. Stopped to top off the tank of the car in Dawsonville just in case there was traffic in Helen. Discovered that the new Appalachian Parkway was open; you don't even need to go through the town of Cleveland anymore; you come out on Helen Highway at the Catholic church.
We reached our hotel well before the check-in time of four o'clock, but did stop by to see if early check-in was a possibility. The place was very, very busy and the clerk distracted, but he said to check back with him about two. In the meantime, it was almost lunchtime. We knew the Spiveys were about 20 minutes behind us because Terry had messaged us, but was anyone else actually in Helen and did they want the shareable stuff we had brought and what was everyone doing for lunch?
We finally got ahold of Juanita. She and David and Keith Tarpley were eating at the Huddle House; she said everywhere else was packed. We were exhausted and joined them for lunch, and it was such a relief to have someone to talk to. We were both hot and frazzled and worried about the stuff in the back of the truck.
(Originally the plan was to take the car and the Rollator. We were just going to drive to the hotel, watch the eclipse, probably drive somewhere to dinner, and then hang around till next morning. We weren't expecting the crowd of 100,000 people it said on the news! So we wouldn't have had to worry about the stuff in back in the truck bed; it would have been in the hatchback. Changes have consequences.)
After eating, though, we had nothing to do, so basically we went back to our hotel and sat in the lobby with our stuff where it was air conditioned and comfortable and read and waited. People came in and asked about early check-in and kept being told the 4 p.m. story, but a couple of times they were told it was because the lower level was cleaned first and they were on the upper level. Eventually, about 2:30 we got into our room.
This was not one of the best hotels in Helen, and I knew that going in. It was an older property, and it was rather like the inexpensive motels we always stayed at when I was a kid: basic two beds, a dresser with a TV, a desk and a chair, and the sink in an alcove with the toilet and tub in another room. It was a bit down-at-the-heels but looked clean (much better than the place we stayed at in Kentucky in 2012, coming home from Michigan), and I stacked everything on the desk or dresser so we could flop down on the beds and relax until it was time to find out what folks were doing for dinner. I put the air conditioner on "afterburner" and once the stuffy air started to disperse I lost the claustrophobic feeling I got when we walked in the door. We both lay down to nap, but James was restless and we weren't lying down long. So we were talking and he made a joke about fleabag hotels and I looked down next to the pillows I'd been napping on and...
There was something moving.
Yes, there was some type of insect in my bed, very tiny, like a sesame seed. You can imagine what I thought! Bedbugs are always in the news these days. I got the tiny insect on a tissue and looked it up on line and it looked like a couple of pictures on the internet (but didn't look like most of the pictures on the internet). I was suddenly ill. There were no more rooms in town; I called around. If we didn't stay we would have to go home. So I marched down to the office with the little insect still crawling around in the Kleenex and showed it to the manager in private. He said he'd never seen one like it before—but then of course that's what you'd expect him to say—but that it probably came in on one of the cleaning carts. He said that he would send someone down to spray the room while we were out to supper. And I went back to the room not wanting to sit on anything and thanking God I had not put any of our luggage on the bed.
So we heard from Juanita and they were getting up a party to go to Bigg Daddy's. We said we'd drive down there and reserve tables. It was very crowded and very hot and very loud (they had live music), but we were seated fairly quickly and did have a good dinner. (Unfortunately I didn't finish my wings because by that point I was so tired and so unhappy and so freaked out, and we brought them back to the hotel and then forgot them the next morning.) Then we went back to the other hotel (the one everyone else was at and where we would be on Monday night) to hang with everyone for a while. They'd also had to wait until four to check in, and we weren't the only ones feeling exhausted.
By now I was very unsettled and slightly panicky. All the tensions of work and the annoyances of the cold and the fear from it being hard to swallow and breathe, and the heat, and the tumult of planning and packing were just sitting on my shoulders. I needed to talk to someone and quite badly, and when Juanita got back from calling Jessie (Jessie is on a five-month internship at Disney) I asked her if we could talk, and we went into the breakfast room, which was quite dim and cool and pleasant...and I talked and cried a lot and she counseled and reassured. I felt so bad about burdening on someone, but she was so sweet and said it was okay; that she could sense that I was very tense lately and that I wasn't looking like my old self. And here I thought I was doing the best Court Jester act I could. We talked a long time and then James wandered in looking for me and the conversation became more general.
We headed back to our hotel about 9:30, still puzzling over what to do about the insect occurrence. I searched the beds again looking for signs of bedbugs and found none of them (trust me, I checked on line to see what all of them were). I don't know where the original insect came from; we found no more, but I was still crawly. Instead of us sleeping on the bed (we each took one of the double beds), I pulled two blankets from the drawer and I slept in one like a sleeping bag in just my underwear. (They evidently don't use Downy or Snuggle in their laundry; these felt like Army blankets!) James didn't feel comfortable just doing underwear and also wore a shirt. But nothing else touched the beds except our bodies and those particular clothes.
(Neither of us found any bites the next morning, nor were we itchy. So I hope that's a good sign, but I'm still scared to death.)
...to be continued...
» Saturday, August 19, 2017First Day Out
I had a wonderful morning. James walked Tucker for me. He got a big hug from me for that, but I'm still not risking kissing him anytime soon. That's all we need is him being sick.
Otherwise, I guess I'm better—my throat no longer feels like someone is slicing it, and my nose is clear occasionally; my glands aren't sore any longer. But I'm still stuffy enough to affect my hearing, the throat still spasms, and no matter how much I drink, my mouth always feels dry. Not sure if it's from the Afrin, gargling with salt, or what, but the inside of my mouth feels like the Sahara even if I've just finished drinking and has a funny taste to boot (probably from the antibiotic). Worst of all, I'm tired to death. Even when I sleep, I'm not getting any relaxation from it.
So the trip to Kroger this morning practically wiped me out. It was my first time going anywhere but to the doctor since last Sunday. Came home and wrapped a birthday present and then lay down until we had to leave to go to dinner.
This was at what we used to call a Mongolian barbecue place (we used to do Mongolian a lot in Warner Robins; you pick a starch (rice or noodles), veggies, and meat, and the flavor oils, and they cook it for you. This place was called Big Chow and was at the Galleria (the place I've always called "the world's most boring mall" because it was filled with boutique clothing shops, but had no bookstores). Well, when we got there it was packed (no idea what's going on, but there was a shoe trade show), and they have to have guards on duty now so that people won't freeload, park for free, and walk to the Braves games. We had to park on the lowest level and come in through the empty end of the mall where there used to be a big restaurant and a movie theatre (we saw something here once; a Star Trek film? Howard the Duck? can't remember).
We had a nice crowd celebrating Ron Butler's 65th birthday and the food was good, but I'd like to come back at some point where I can actually taste it.
And now we're back home and my nose is clogging up again. Grrr.
» Thursday, August 17, 2017Time Out
It's been...a week. I've been sick all freaking week. And it feels as if there's a big raw cut at the back of my throat. Instead of sleeping at night I've been waking up every hour during the night to have to sip some water and get it past the burning hell that is my throat. I even pulled out the vaporizer and that didn't help. Usually when you have sore throat running cold or warm liquid over it will help. Not this time. I went to the doctor on Monday and she gave me a throat rinse and some cough medicine. I used the latter, but not the former, as it was Lidocaine and I remembered that stupid panic attack at the dentist. Instead I've been gargling with salt and water, sucking cough drops, taking ibuprofin, and drinking, drinking, drinking. I'm drinking so much water I slosh and I know the bathroom intimately.
I worked a little on Wednesday but was so wretched last night I called the doctor immediately this morning. The advisor asked me anxiously "Are you sure you don't want to talk to the nurse first? After all, you've had one co-pay already this week." I told her I didn't care about the co-pay; I just wanted to get well. Besides all the other previous symptoms, I had pressure and ringing in my right ear, my glands were tender, I could press on my throat and it hurt from the outside, and my nose is stuffed to the gills.
So now I have an antibiotic and some generic Afrin, and if you don't think I swilled the former when I got home... The Afrin stuff was much gentler than I expected; I've used Sinex before and that burns. The Afrin did open up my nose some. Throat's still a bitch.
» Sunday, August 13, 2017Sick Day
Not much to write about today. Not much sleep because of the sore throat and cough; the cough didn't keep me up, but getting up to soak my throat in water sure did. Got up at nine so we could go to Costco since James needed cheese, Splenda, and snack and sandwich baggies for breakfast burritos. We bought more Skinny Pop and picked up a nifty shop stool on sale. This should work when he cooks for long periods since he can swivel back and forth with it.
Then we just came home because I was miserable (except for the few minutes in the chill room with the vegetables). I had some oatmeal and James made me peppermint tea. My temperature spiked a couple of times but never over 100, and I coughed some trying to decongest, swilled water a lot, and watched Wild Britain and read Death Comes to Kurland Hall until suppertime, when we finished up the beef we made in the pressure cooker over quinoa and brown rice ramen noodles while watching the news. Colour Confidential was two more ones we had seen; I thought we missed more of them. Finally watched an Aerial America about Nevada.
God, I hate summer colds.
» Saturday, August 12, 2017Elevator Days
It was a highly productive Friday, but a rotten Saturday.
I was woken a bit earlier than I wanted on Friday by a text on my phone. James had forgotten his morning pills. So I dragged myself from bed, had breakfast and took Tucker on a good walk before bundling up what I needed and heading out. My first port of call was Walmart, to get some accordion folders for cleaning out our wretched financial files. (Last week James had to go renew his driver's license; to renew your license now you practically have to give them your firstborn: birth certificate, social security card, two bills establishing residency, and, if you were in the service, a DD-214. We couldn't find the DD-214 before he went, but that was because it was in a third accordion file I didn't see down there. It didn't matter; he did get the license.) Relax, folks, Christmas is not out at Walmart yet, no matter what people are saying. 😀 Also bought James some five-pound weights. Since it's getting more difficult for him to walk, he has been trying to do some other kind of aerobic exercise. I only had two-pound weights in the house; he's been using those, but it wasn't much of a stretch for him.
Then I drove past James' building to transfer custody of the pills, and went to Costco for gasoline, before arriving at my goal for the day: the book sale at the Northside Library. I picked up a couple of Christmas books for myself (one of old-fashioned stores and another called Holmes for the Holidays) and a copy of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories (truly, I've never read them, but always see them quoted), plus a book for a gift and another for someone who collects a series.
On the way home from the book sale I did the shopping at Publix (all very exciting stuff! [eyeroll]) and then came home to have some leftover barbecue beef and French bread for lunch. Worked on a website page until James came home. From there we had supper at O'Charley's and dessert at Baskin-Robbins.
Today we'd been planning to have lunch at Giovanni's, but James remembered he had his club meeting. It was actually fortuitous, because just before bed last night, sometime around the time I took my shower, I developed a sore spot on the back of my throat. Whether I slept with my mouth closed or open, the air flowing back and forth over the sore spot irritated it and made me cough. I'd wake up every hour, go in the bathroom, and drink to try and get rid of the infernal tickle, and then go back to bed. Hour after hour... Gah. When I did finally get up my nose was stuffy and I felt feverish and exhausted, despite having no fever.
So James went off to his meeting and I finally decided to sit down and finally dub some stuff off the DVR. So basically all day I've been watching the rest of season 7 of Castle and mourning how they ruined the show in season 8 (which I completely erased from the DVR because it was so loathsome). James went to fetch some supper from Giovanni's, but it didn't taste very good, and as the night has gone on my throat is feeling worse again and I'm coughing. Between episodes I cleaned bits in the kitchen and in the bathroom and made the bed and filled the bird feeders. I bored Tucker silly and he spent the afternoon sleeping in his cave, but I had Snowy song to make me feel better.
» Sunday, August 06, 2017Nothing Works Around There
Another nice sleep this morning, although a much more challenging day awaited. James was out of breakfast burritos completely, and we had forgotten to get "plastic cheese" (Kraft cheese slices) for them. Sigh. Well, I wanted to go back to CVS anyway; the item I'd forgotten was Gold Bond medicated powder and I really needed it with the summer rash and all. So after I walked Tucker, I got in the car and drove up to the CVS on Milford Church Road, which is next to a Walmart Neighborhood Market (basically a grocery store). I could get the cheese there.
To my jaw-dropping amaze, CVS had no Gold Bond, or any kind of talcum/cornstarch period! They suggested I go to Walmart! So I did, and I got the cheese and the Gold Bond. Abso-fragging-lutely preposterous.
I had noticed the other day that my right front tire seemed low, so I went out of my way to the QT (because they are the only ones that have free air) on Austell Road. I pulled up next to a lady with a nearly flat tire, who looked at me with big eyes and mouthed "It's broke. No air." I bulged my eyes back and mouthed "No air?" She shook her head, looking absolutely frazzled. Sigh. Pulled out and drove home, but have no idea what she was going to do. She needed even a little air to get home without ruining the tire. Some stupid vandals probably damaged the air pump. They think it is funny.
I dropped off the cheese with James, picked up a towel and the dog soap, and transported Tucker to Petco and the dog wash. This time there was a chow chow being bathed in the lefthand tub and a shepherd-cross getting "drowned" in the righthand one, so we were pig in the middle. Tucker had been really eager to go out until faced with the washtubs, and did a passable imitation of Ophelia drowning during the entire affair. He made everyone laugh, though, when I was done with him and kept shaking my hand at him and saying "Shake!" and he shook off every time. This was something I had taught Willow and have been teaching Tucker.
On the way home we passed another QT and I was able to get some air (after the dude with the BMW blocked the parking space near the air hose). Tucker passed out from exhaustion after his ordeal and was quiet all afternoon. I helped James bag some burritos and made the bed and washed out Tucker's bedding, and chilled out watching more of Ray Mears' Wild Britain.
Supper was chicken and wild rice soup and we were able to watch Colour Confidential this week except the very end of the second show when a rainstorm stamped its way in with a great noise of thunder and blotted out the signal. Isn't it funny how analog television never failed during storms and digital always does? Seems like technology is regressing sometimes. It was a rerun anyway. I know we've missed some, but we haven't reached them yet.
» Saturday, August 05, 2017Sometimes It's Unexpected
We totally expected to eat at O'Charley's on Friday night, but by the time we got there every parking space was taken, so we shifted gears and went to Uncle Maddio's for pizza instead. We used to go to SteviB's sometimes, but Uncle Maddio's is just so much better for just a bit more, and their pizza crust is wonderful. And I judge pizza by its crust!
We took care of Publix after eating supper on Friday, although going to a different Publix didn't totally solve the problem of something we were looking for, and I had to got to Customer Service to get them to give us our discount on a couple of things that we had coupons for.
After a relaxing evening and a nice sleep-in, we had a good Saturday. We both had 20 percent off Barnes & Noble coupons, but this one had a wrinkle: we could only use them at Perimeter Mall. However, I wanted to go to the Container Store anyway.
We started out with lunch at Panera. Sadly, they've gotten rid of the Chinese Citrus Salad James liked, but he had an Asian salad with half a panini and I had my usual soup with a plain bagel and cream cheese. The Cumberland location was still processing breakfast orders we were so early. Once we finished eating we were on to Perimeter. I just wanted more of the metal "clothespin" clamps they have; we use them to close bags (like popcorn bags) instead of those bulky "chip clips" and for hanging things (like the facecloths in the bathroom). Of course we browsed the store—the Container Store is so about "this is cool but damn we can't afford it"—and I picked up a clear plastic corner basket that had lost its suction cups. It can still be useful for keeping things.
I picked up what I was looking for at Barnes & Noble, the new Georgina Rannoch mystery, but James couldn't come up with his choice, the new Larry Correia "Monster Hunter" book; it had been released earlier in the week but was not in the store. But we went to customer service and the associate ordered the book for him, using the coupon, and it will be mailed free to us. James also picked up some modeling magazines and a new "Cooks," while I was disappointed in not finding the new "Breathe." I should really get "Breathe" on my tablet; it's cheaper, but I like to have it as a bedtime read because it's about relaxation and tablet reading is a no-no before bed.
Seeing that I did not find it at the Perimeter Barnes & Noble, James stopped at the door of the Akers Mill store so I could run in, but I didn't find it there, either. Oh, well. As a final stop I ran into CVS with a 30 percent off coupon to get more BreatheRights and something for my rash (an annual summer occurrence). There was a third thing I'd wanted, but I had forgotten what is was.
So we came home to chill out for a while, played with Tucker, and pretty much zoned out until James said "Aren't we going to supper?" Oh, dear. It was almost seven o'clock! O'Charley's would be packed again. So we went up to the Fried Tomato Buffet, which wasn't crowded, and had barbecue ribs and other goodies, then James sat in the car while I ran into JoAnn with a couple of coupons (I got another Command container and more Aida cloth—and guess what I found there: the new "Breathe"!).
The most wonderful thing was coming home from JoAnn. Now that the sun was down, James was able to sit in the car outside the store with the windows down, and it was cool enough—on August 4!—to drive with the windows down and not feel like you were smothering and dripping with sweat! I was running out of gas, so we just came home via Barrett Parkway and got gasoline and shopped at the Kroger on Dallas Highway—I needed sandwich bread anyway, so we'd have to come by on Sunday, since Smyrna is back to baking buns embedded in cornmeal. And on the way home we stopped at Baskin-Robbins for a dessert ice cream.
A nice day altogether, and something soothing to read at bedtime.
» Tuesday, August 01, 2017
FOR TODAY, AUGUST 1, 2017
Outside my window...
...sunny as I am doing this rather late in the afternoon rather than in the morning as usual. It's warm outside and cool within.
I am thinking...
...that it took me too long today to figure out why I kept looking at the calendar and wondering why the date was familiar. It is 32 years ago today that my dad died.
I am thankful...
...for air conditioning (this is my mantra during the summer). Also for the laundry being finished.
In the kitchen...
...I'm cooking chicken drumsticks basted in maple barbecue sauce. Well, they smell good. 😀
I am wearing...
...a blue-flowered ribbed tank top, aqua blue shorts, and white socks, in other words, the usual summer mufti; just the colors of the top and shorts change.
I am creating...
...order out of chaos, slowly. I have some things ready to go to Goodwill, and another box started for more culled books. There's no use keeping books I won't read again.
I am going...
...to have to start better grocery shopping if I intend to retire. We are spending too much on groceries! I'll need to start perusing the weekly flyers and finding the best bargains.
I am wondering...
...why the news programs just keep repeating the same news over and over and over. If there isn't enough news to broadcast, cut the length of the news programs! I remember when both the local and national news programs were fifteen minutes. Somehow they managed to cover it all and didn't have to make their own news.
I am reading...
...Brilliant Beacons, the history of lighthouses in America. I've always been fascinated by lighthouse keepers and their families after reading a story called "Maudie Tom, Jockey," about a lighthouse keeper's daughter. Their work was back-breaking and some lighthouses were so isolated the keepers went stir-crazy.
I am hoping...
...the decision I'm pondering on is the right one.
I am looking forward to...
...the eclipse! We will have 97 percent coverage here in Atlanta. Some of the schools are keeping the kids in longer that day so they can observe the eclipse safely (teachers making sure they have their glasses on).
I am learning...
...well, this year with some of the people I have to work with taking forever to respond, I think I am learning patience. Or impatience as the case may be.
Around the house...
...smells like barbecue sauce. I vacuumed during lunch and also swept the kitchen, so things look a bit tidier.
I am pondering...
...retirement, since never having to get up early again (except voluntarily) or never having to drive 26 miles before seven a.m. (except voluntarily) sounds really good
A favorite quote for today...
“Someone made a grievous mistake when summer was created; no novitiate or god in their right mind would make a season akin to hell on purpose. Someone should be fired.” ― Michelle Franklin
One of my favorite things...
Jeopardy. I've been watching it since Art Fleming hosted the original show.
A few plans for the rest of the week:
More work, and a trip to the Container Store.
A peek into my day...
Something I saw a few nights ago: bats flying around (not my photo). Wish I'd see them more often.
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