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» Tuesday, June 08, 2021
FOR TODAY, JUNE 8, 2021
Outside my window...
...it is clouded over, very warm (in the 80s), and humid. There's a chance of rain every day this week and the humidity was at 83 percent this morning!
I am thinking...
...how long I haven't done one of these entries! There are so many things I can't do when reading: listening to a podcast, chores, etc. I'm listening to a podcast doing this and not sure how much I will get out of it, since you can't thoughtfully write and thoughtfully listen at the same time.
I am thankful...
...these days for many things. My husband's left leg was a mess for months due to being treated in the hospital just before New Year's for a bone infection where he could not wear compression stockings and the doctors just took him off his water pills, so he developed big ugly blisters on the leg. He had antibiotics via a PICC line for forty days, and we had a visiting nurse twice a week until we finally got rid of the last blister last month.
In the kitchen...
...James actually cooked today. We had some Jennie-O turkey burgers available and he just made them up. I don't really like burgers, but these with some Meadowcroft Farms sweet onion relish on them are fabulously delicious.
I am wearing...
...a blue flowered white tank top, black shorts, and white socks with scuffs on. Usual summer attire (the other set is pink-flowered with grey).
I am creating...
...I wrote a note to a friend of mine and was going to pop it into the mailbox, and, lo, the postal carrier came before one p.m. I nearly fainted.
I am going...
...still lot a much of anywhere. Husband was saying how dull and depressed he was feeling because all we ever do is go to the supermarket or Walmart, with Barnes & Noble as a "treat." We need to be going other places, even if it's to shop, because it's just very dull and making me sleepy and stupid-feeling, but it's hard, too. We don't like going much of anywhere in the summer due to the heat. All we have to do is be somewhere hot for a few hours—even if it's just somewhere where the air conditioning isn't working well—and we come home with no energy.
I am wondering...
...silly, really, but what happened to the little speaker I used to have in my office at work. I thought I gave it to my husband, but I don't recall taking it out of his work cubicle when we cleaned it out. I wanted to pass it on to someone, and it seems to have done a flit. Been searching all over for it today...oh, wait, there's somewhere I haven't checked...[moves away from desk]...ah, there it is!
I am reading...
...Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks, by Alwyn W. Turner, which is nifty because it's nominally a bio of Nation, but is also a history of British radio and television programming during Nation's lifetime. I also have an ARC (advance reader's copy) of Nicholas Meyer's new Sherlock Holmes books.
I am hoping...
...to come out of this lassitude soon. It's hard in the summer. I am not, and have never have been, a summer person. Summer was only fun when you were in school, and then once you passed your sixteenth birthday and had to go to work in the summer, that became bad news, too.
I am looking forward to...
...autumn. Period. (I suppose I should say DragonCon, but it sounds like it's going to be such a mob from not having the con last year that it sounds daunting instead. Maybe Taste of Smyrna. And a Friends of the Library book sale finally.
I am learning...
...just in a holding pattern.
Around the house...
...husband is working from home—this seems to be permanent, and I am glad, because the idea of him driving out to the Glenlake area every day gives me cold terrors—but not on a call right now, Snowy [the budgie] is burbling along to Leo Laporte ("The Tech Guy" podcast). Tucker [the dog] is asleep on one of the chairs under the dining room table. We have a fan on in forlorn hope that it will circulate the air better and keep down the A/C bill.
I am pondering...
...still people. Don't understand people, never will, even if I am one.
A favorite quote for today...
I recently discovered Hal Borland. This is a good one from him:
"We walked by starlight, and we remembered a time when we had no daylight leisure to walk. We spoke of how daylight is worktime, but that the great dreams are dreamed by starlight. There is warmth and life in the day's sunshine, but it is the stars that lure man's mind to the endless immensity of the universe."
One of my favorite things...
...last night I pulled out our DVDs and we have started to watch The Big Bang Theory over from the beginning.
A few plans for the rest of the week:
The usual shopping on Thursday (we need to go to Costco before the coupons expire). Lunch at Otter's Chicken on Friday. This restaurant was voted to have best chicken wings by "Best of Cobb [County]" magazine.
A peek into my day...
The cutest thing to see every morning: Snowy!
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Labels: Simple Woman's Daybook
» Saturday, June 05, 2021Cute Faces and Familiar Routines
Aannnnnnd absolutely the last of the Command caddies have gone up.
Ticked off the list: Monday I trimmed the bushes out front so Alex would scoop the debris up when he came to mow. Tuesday the A/C people came to do the annual summer service of the unit. I hate when they bring the salesguy with them. He checked out our water heater, which is, after all, fifteen years old, and was trying to sell us on a deal they had: $30/month and they install it free and do yearly service on it. He says a new unit costs $1,800. That means after sixty months it would be paid for, and then we'd still have to pay $30/month thereafter. Conceivably, then, if the new unit lasted as long as this one has, I'd be paying $5,400 for a water heater? (Of course, should the thing die anytime in that time period, we do get a new one. But mathematically it is paying extra. Deal or not?)
Wednesday I took the spaghetti sauce and the mashed baby vegetables (to add more vitamins to the mix) and the boneless pork ribs and made gravy. It slow-cooked for like ten hours, so it's well done! When it finished we licked it off the spoon like cake batter, it was that good. I was able to use Classico sauce again this time! Years ago that's all I used, their tomato-and-basil no-sugar added sauce for the base of my gravy, and then they started adding sugar. This was so long ago that there was no Facebook, but there were miles of complaints on their web site's feedback page. Just recently we were at Costco and noticed they started selling it with no sugar added again. Took 'em awhile to bow to pressure!
Thursday we did shopping in a great big swath: went to Publix, then I went into Kroger on my own for canned no-salt mushrooms and milk (and a couple of other things). Mushrooms have gone up 20 cents a can! We lunched at Krystal again (because it's cheap), then went to Petco to get Snowy some millet and birdseed. There were three adorable baby budgies in the display cage, all sitting on the floor. Two were mostly white, with blue markings, like Schuyler was, and one was yellow with green markings, like Bandit had been—all harlequin pieds. One white one had his head under his wing, one was falling asleep, and the yellow one was being the guard budgie. So cute with the little stripes still down on their foreheads. But budgies are now $50 each to buy!
We also went to Sprouts for the first time in ages; bought more Litehouse "salad greens" as they call them now (herbs you're supposed to add to your salad, but we put them on the meat when we roast chicken and turkey).
This week's Friday lunch du jour was at the West Cobb Diner with all three Spiveys. Brought home half my portion, as usual, and then we treated ourselves to Barnes & Noble. I finally found the new Ghost and the Haunted Portrait (it's only been out for over a week) and also a book about a road trip taken by Harry and Bess Truman after the 1952 election that looks like fun.
Saturday was Hair Day, which is always fun, then came home to unload and load the dishwasher, that insatiable beast, wash a few clothes, and vacuum the living/dining area of its weekly effluvia of dog hair and bird feathers/seed.
» Sunday, May 30, 2021Pho, Phooey on the VA, and Phriends
If you wonder why these even weekly updates come so late, it's because, unless you choose some frantic activity to replace work when you retire, there's not a lot to write about. There's only a lot to write if there's an emergency—and those are certainly unwanted. My prayer to God is "I want to be bored." But then there's always that danger of boredom, too, which makes you depressed. So I do wish for something nice to do, but those options are truncated now that it's gotten hot. Neither James and I can bear heat any longer—it exhausts him and makes my heart do trippy things when we're exposed to heat too long. This is why we figure this year's DragonCon—which was just announced to be in-person this year—will probably be our last. Maybe we'll day trip or something further on. Wish more small conventions would come to the fore. We miss WHOlanta and Anachrocon. Will try to attend Spycon and the Harry Potter con in the fall. We have tickets for Libertycon, but they postponed it, which was a good thing, because the hotel prices made my jaw drop.
This week, for instance: good stuff, but nothing earthshaking. Alice and Ken hosted a Memorial Day picnic. Alas, it was on Sunday, so James had to stay plugging at the computer, but I brought him home a burger and some sides. Met two of Alice and Ken's church friends, Emma and LJ, who were also fannish. Spent the rest of the evening watching the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS and crying through most of it. This year they did tributes to people who have otherwise been missed: battlefield nurses in Vietnam and the firefighters and police who walked into the World Trade Center on September 11 and never came home (along with those who died in the buildings). I find that twenty years later 9/11 still makes me sob uncontrollably and feel afraid.
Monday I finally took all the scrapbooking stuff to Goodwill. During the week I put up the last of the Command caddies so it looks less frantic under the sinks. On Wednesday the visiting nurse, Jewel, came. We love Jewel and will miss her, but are crossing fingers that James' leg stays okay and we do not have to have a nurse any longer.
Thursday we went to Sam's Club for Kraft cheese slices and mandarin orange cups, then did the rest of the shopping. On Friday we completed the new set of towels by stopping at the Bed, Bath & Beyond Akers Mill store and getting a set of bath sheets and hand towels in indigo, then swung by Hobby Lobby. Incredibly, they already have an aisle of Christmas "picks" (the stuff you make into bouquets) going up! I grabbed a few things for the yard since all the summer stuff was half off: metal birds on stakes, a duck plaque to go on one fence post, and a metal owl to go on the other.
Saturday we frustrated ourselves for nearly three hours apply for a Veteran's ID card for James. You can get an annual park pass to National Parks for free if you are a vet and have proper ID. It took ages because they told you could use certain scanning formats for the documents you had to submit to confirm your ID, but you couldn't then use the same format (I scanned them as PDFs) to actually apply for the card (I had to rescan everything as a JPG). Then when we went to submit the rescanned stuff only then did they tell us you could only have a certain file size. I had to pull all the images into Paint Shop Pro and reduce the size and the colors to fit the specs. Someone who had no computer knowledge would have been flummoxed by the whole process. As it was, we were totally frustrated when we finally got to have lunch at 2:30 p.m., and picked up ice cream at Baskin-Robbins for a reward for putting up with it all.
Oh, for Friday lunch we finally tried Pho24, which closed down last year just on the day we were going to try it. It was quite good.
» Saturday, May 22, 2021Booking Along
Finally having some progress on organization this week! Since it was time to scrub out the garden tub (that we never use) anyway, I used the time to remove some hooks and move them to different locations so that cleaning equipment would be out of site. When we first got this house I had the idea to turn the tub area into a tiny spa, so there was a towel hung up, and calming nature paintings on the wall. Now that we have to use the tub to hold a rack with medical supplies, it's stupid. I took down the towel and its hook. Neither of us likes baths anyway.
I also mended a pair of suspenders so we wouldn't have to go to Walmart, ironed two things, and, most importantly, cleaned a box of scrapbooking items out of the spare room closet. I thought I might get into scrapbooking when I retired, but I feel now that it's not for me, so I took big pads of paper, embellishments, and odds and ends, packed them in a box, and will take them to Goodwill. (It wasn't a thorough cull; I still couldn't bear to get rid of the fall and winter papers.) [I got them as far as the trunk of the car, but didn't take them over until May 24.] While I was in the craft room, put together a few cute cat things for a friend who is ill and later in the week mailed a little package to her.
The Command caddies I ordered from Walmart arrived on Friday and I discovered that what I thought of as a small caddy is actually Command's medium caddy. But that was okay. I put up three of them on Saturday, plus two razor holders, and was quite satisfied to get a bunch of clutter, like a small basket of headbands, the charge cords to the water flosser and the motion sensor light, and other annoying bits off the master bathroom counter.
And, alas, had to call Kaiser again about my ambulance bill, which was still ten times the amount it was supposed to be. This time the agent put me on a conference call with someone at the ambulance company, and I kept quiet while they lobbed confusions back and forth. As far as I could tell, the problem was because I'm on the Senior Advantage plan and because I'm an ex-Fed; Ambulance Guy finally said, "Ah, this is Federal Government!" and apparently then he understood. Don't ask me, boss; I only know what's in my contract.
Over the weekend we took a Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon and started a "project" of getting new bath towels. Been thinking about replacing our bath towels for a while. They've been feeling a little thin, and the matching hand towels are getting "rusty." Well, I said, let me check what brand the previous towels were. ::blink:: Oh, hell, we got them at Linens'n'Things. Which has been closed longer than Borders has. So we had this $20 off $80 or more coupon, and I've been scouting BB&B for some time, but their stock has been so low I couldn't find two matching bath sheets and two matching towels in the colors (shades of blue) I wanted. Saturday, thanks to James' keen eye, we nabbed two nice bath sheets and two matching hand towels in pale blue. We have another $20 off $80 or more coupon for next week; crossing fingers we can find another shade of blue in a complete set of four.
Also stopped at The Container Store on Friday, also with a coupon, and picked up a rack that goes over the back of one of the doors under the kitchen sink. I am storing sponges there, the mineral oil for the dining room table, and other small things that were cluttering up underneath the sink.
Of course, since we were two doors down from Barnes & Noble...yeah, I committed book. Found McCullough's The Pioneers with the remainder books (this tells about the historical period after the Revolutionary War when the Ohio Valley was opened for European settlement, the same time period as one of my favorite Lois Lenski books, A'Going to the Westward); bought an Oliver Sacks book about his childhood (Uncle Tungsten), and The Diary of a Bookseller, a funny journal about a Scottish bookstore owner who keeps a record of his odd customers and the books they look for.
(I also discovered that Jim Butcher's Peace Talks was finally out in paperback. I devoured it in two days!)
» Saturday, May 15, 2021Cleaning, Replacing, and All That
Well, it was a nonstressful, but eventful week.
So, I did have "give the dog a bath" on my "to do" list for this week. Monday it became an absolute "to do," as I walked Tucker past the little white Baptist church, crossed Sandtown Road, stopped to take a photo of holly and honeysuckle twined together, and completely didn't notice that poison ivy was growing under it. So plunk Tucker went into the tub when we got home, then I had to wash his bedding and blankets, and finally I had to clean all the residual hair out of the hall bath. Fun! (Not.)
I didn't sleep well this week for whatever reason, but roused myself sufficiently to go out to the bank on Tuesday morning. I had a CD that matured this week, and needed to talk to someone to see if I could get a better interest rate on it. The last interest rate was .02 percent (not two percent, two hundredths of a percent). At that interest, it's better to be ignored. So I bopped down to the closest bank, where I have my safe deposit box. Closed temporarily? WTH? Okay, I'll go down a mile or two to the branch near Publix.
There all the parking spaces were blocked by cars, and the sign on the door said "Closed for emergency." Okay...WTF? At this point I went into Publix and bought some turkey thighs and BOGO chicken, which I popped into the insulated bag. Then I thought...one more bank...and the Austell branch was open. To my relief (due to the poultry in the bag), I was helped quickly. Any new interest rate was .01 percent! Screw it. I had the customer rep put the cash into my checking account and when I got home I paid down the Access3 account instead. (God only knows what percent that is at now.)
The representative also told me the two Smyrna offices were closed because of...COVID-19 cases! So it ain't over yet.
After grocery shopping on Thursday, we replaced the old microwave, because, as I mentioned previously, the compartment lining was chipping off badly. I'd planned to go a couple of places and price different microwaves, but we found the Panasonic that "Consumer Reports" recommended, and just bought the silly thing and brought it home to set up. I also cleaned up under the microwave (it's on a baker's rack which was the first new thing we bought for this house in 2006) and unearthed some superannuated fiber bars and a broken manual food mill. (I'd cleaned up the shelf over the microwave earlier in the week and threw out any grains that were stale—about half, sad to say, like the rolled oats, which smelled really bad.)
Friday we tried out a different restaurant that Alice recommended, the Bay Breeze in Mableton, set up in an old Ryan's steakhouse. My meal was a little more expensive than usual, but I hadn't had jumbo stuffed shrimp in literally years. And this was real crabmeat stuffing, not the breadcrumb stuff they have been using for years because the crabmeat was too expensive. (The shrimp weren't exactly jumbo, but I haven't seen real jumbo shrimp in years.) All the food was good, and James got to take the onion rings home to have in an omelet. The hush puppies were shaped like little doughnuts, which was a novelty.
We also stopped at Ollie's Discount Outlet. It sounds weird, but I got excited because they still had the holiday Renuzit air freshener scents. All the regular Renuzit scents are floral (ugh), apple (I use that in the kitchen), or vanilla (double ugh). These are "Hello, Pumpkin" (which sounds dumb, but it's really a nice cinnamony pumpkin scent) and gingerbread, which is a lot better than the nauseatingly sweet flower scents. Wish they'd still had the evergreen!
Saturday we went to the Farmer's Market for the first time in...ages. We ostensibly went to get Tucker more dog biscuits, but we also bought chocolate scones and another jar of Lillian's Hawai'ian BBQ sauce and some Filipino empanadas for James. For supper James took the wonderful-looking lamb steaks I bought at Lidl the day before and marinated them in what was left in the old jar of Lillian's sauce. Tres magnifique!
And, like that, it was almost Sunday again.
» Saturday, May 08, 2021Endings...
Thursday was an eventful day: we went to James' office to clean out his desk.
His employer have been in a big former warehouse for at least ten years now, and they no longer need the vast space because there are fewer employees. So they are selling the building, and the rest of the employees will be moving over to some other space they have near Perimeter Mall. We were a bit worried about the commute, but James got a message from his supervisor. The new space is very small, and there is no room for his power chair in the workspaces they have designated for his group. Since he is meeting their goals at telework and is getting consistently good ratings, he'll be allowed to remain on it. This is a great relief, as I would be worried about the effects of a long commute and a late dinner hour (perhaps as late as 8:30 p.m.) would have on his health.
My goodness, you should have seen the junk in there! We tossed away two 13 gallon trash bags and a couple of shopping bags with paper, old calendars, and lots of expired snacks. We brought home only his TARDIS cookie jar, Hallmark Christmas decorations, an airplane clock, and some models, plus an extra Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and the cable he had to buy to connect his laptop and his monitor (for some reason work wouldn't provide it). We also went to two different Publixes (Publii? 😀 ) and a Lidl to finish the shopping.
The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. On Friday we had lunch at The BBQ Place with Aubrey, Alice, and Ken, and had an enjoyable sojourn to both Barnes & Noble (I didn't buy a book—honest!) and Hobby Lobby, and on Saturday we had Hair Day, if only for a few short hours. We had to get back to the house by noon, as the visiting nurse supervisor was coming to inspect James' leg. We have finally [knock on wood, and so far] finally gotten rid of all the blisters and other damage that was done to his left leg while he was in the hospital in December due to having an infection from the ingrown toenail Kaiser seemingly had no time to treat (at least they kept telling us they had no available appointments), not being able to wear compression socks, being taken off his water pills, and given intravenous fluids in too large amounts. She says if the leg stays stable for another two weeks, the visiting nurse will no longer need to come.
We were also sad this week because we finished the last two available Thunderbirds Are Go episodes on Amazon Prime. There are twenty-seven more, but they're still only available on ITV's site, and we can't watch them due to region blocking.
» Saturday, May 01, 2021Outside and Inside
Here’s to a weekend that contained friends and tasks well done!
This week I got my own new Fitbit. I like having a real watch face and have found a nice analog clock in the Fitbit files which also shows my stats and the battery status. I chose the rose-gold (read: copper) Versa 2, which came with an insipid pale pink wristband. Luckily the Sam’s Club version also comes with a navy blue wristband as well, and before I set up the unit you can bet I changed the watchband! Fitbit has a pretty cocoa-brown leather band on sale for Mother’s Day, so I have ordered that.
Alas, I had a frog to kill this afternoon: I finally got the ambulance bill and it’s for about ten times more than I’m supposed to pay. I called Kaiser, who told me they already paid the ambulance company, gave me a payment number, and a phone number for the ambulance company to call if they argued with me. Kaiser thought they wouldn’t. I knew better, because I’ve dealt with this type of folks before. Sure enough, the ambulance company said they were only paid partially, and that they didn't take "arranged payments" or whatever they called it, and that she would have to contact her supervisor. I gave them the payment number and let them deal with. My agreement with Kaiser says I pay a set price. I’m not paying them any further. You guys fight about it.
Thursday we had to have James’ blood pressure retested because it was so high when he saw Dr. Mobley two weeks ago. A day later, when we saw Dr. Friedman, it was 30 points lower after James chilled out a few minutes, but apparently it didn’t count. So, once again, when we got there it was high. The nurse gave us ten minutes, James closed his eyes and just breathed deeply, and it went down over 20 points. Driving just makes his blood pressure go up! Then we did the rest of the grocery shopping, which makes my blood pressure go up (or it feels like it, anyway).
Friday we had a lovely lunch at Okinawa with Alice and Ken—the one on Dallas Highway because the one in Austell still isn’t open for dine-in—and then went on to do a little shopping: went by Hobby Lobby where James found model paint on a great discount; got poop bags for Tucker at Petco to make sure I got them, because we were completely out (they sell them at Bed, Bath & Beyond much cheaper, but I wasn't sure they'd be in stock); walked around Hobbytown just because James’ club meetings aren’t there anymore and he hadn’t been in a while; then finally bought new washcloths at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and did find three times the amount of poop bags for a dollar less than Petco! The obvious place is not always the cheapest.
For dessert we stopped by Dunkin Donuts (I refuse to call them “Dunkin”) and got a couple of doughnuts for dessert.
Today was the day of James’ club meeting, and after he left, I busied myself doing some chores I’d put off. Yesterday at Hobby Lobby I had picked up three garden decoration resin animals on sale: a rabbit, a hedgehog, and a generic bird. I gathered these up and brought them outside along with a garden dragon I had bought last year, put highlights on, and then left in my craft room. I put the dragon and the hedgehog out front underneath the firecracker bushes, and put the bunny and the bird under two of the trees in the back yard. (I’d planned to get a few more rabbits on sale at Hobby Lobby after Easter, but had ended up with the fever from the COVID vaccine and never went.)
Then I packed up the two boxes from the garage (one box of trousers and one of general “stuff”) and shuttled them to Goodwill. There’s a Dollar General in the Goodwill parking lot, so I stopped there as well and found two inexpensive “fairy homes” in the garden aisle. These also each went under a tree when I got home, but first I drove out to Austell to check out the new location of the Book House. This used to be on Veteran’s Memorial Highway near Ollie’s Discount Outlet, but they’ve relocated in an old gas station. Didn’t see anything I wanted. So many romance books! In every used bookstore they seem to outnumber everything else.
After relocating the fairy houses to the backyard, I did the vacuuming upstairs, and just in time, as the meeting broke up early and James was home at the unheard-of hour of 3 p.m. (Nothing wrong; everything just broke up early.) He spent the rest of the afternoon cooking his breakfasts for the week, and we just had leftovers for supper and watched the Britcoms and Father Brown.
» Saturday, April 24, 2021The Fun Before the Rainstorm
It was kind of a blah week. It still doesn't seem quite real that James' mom is gone. I keep thinking that he hasn't called her in a while and should give her a ring. James went back to work feeling more than a bit shell-shocked, and I spent most of it cleaning up from the weekend’s events–washing the clothes, sanitizing and then putting up the suitcases, etc.–and cooking daily dinners.
Thursday we went to Sam’s Club and James found something he wanted: a new Fitbit. Not only was his old “Bit” (the "Alta" that included a heart-rate monitor) quite beat up–he caught it in a door at least once and it had a big scratch across the screen–but he couldn’t read it in sunlight. Sam’s had Fitbit’s “Versa 2,” which is more of a smartwatch, and it has different home screens, some with real clock faces. So he bought it and I got severe Fitbit envy. Unfortunately they only had the black one at Sam’s, not the “rose gold” (read: “copper”) one. I ended up ordering one next day on Samsclub.com.
When we got home that afternoon, we started work on the closet project. Our bedroom closet is, frankly, full of junk. Because the kitchen is so small, we have to keep a lot of kitchen things in there, like the turkey platter, our electric skillet, some Corningware, etc. Plus there's lots of clothing James just doesn't wear anymore. His stuff is a mixed-up mess anyway: he has something like two dozen pairs of pants on a shelf rather than hung up, and he can never find a particular themed T-shirt he wants to wear. (I know why this is: most of them are either hung inside out or “backwards”–facing the back of the closet–or both!) So, Thursday we started with the pants. Most of them were too small for him, and about a third of those were not wearable due to patches. So the worn ones got thrown out and there is a stack of other pants to go to Goodwill. I will need to tackle the shirts next week.
Thursday we also finished up the grocery shopping with trips to Lidl and Publix, so Friday we could actually go out and have a little fun.
According to an old classmate of mine who thinks you can’t have fun without alcohol, this probably counted as minimal fun, but it was good enough for us! We had lunch at West Cobb Diner with Alice and Ken and Aubrey Spivey, and saw Mel and Phyllis Boros for the first time since our wonderful Christmas Eve that turned into trouble when James got the fever from the foot infection. They both were two weeks out from their second vaccination and finally felt safe enough to go out in public. Phyllis said it was so good to finally talk face-to-face with other people besides Mel and her daughter and son-in-law!
After a nice leisurely lunch, we stopped at Staples to hunt up the new set of Sharpie colors, which Alice tipped me off about, and then went to Barnes & Noble. I picked up the second of the Brontë sisters’ mysteries; still say with their new remodel there are not enough books in the stores! On the way home we stopped at Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. The weather was gorgeous both days, and we were quite satisfied.
The reason we wanted to get all our chores and fun done on Thursday and Friday was because it was supposed to pour fishbuckets on Saturday, 100 percent chance of rain all day. James decided he would use the bad weather to make some more burritos for quick breakfasts, as well as do his ground meat for the week. He gets a mixture of ground turkey, right now the “beyond beef” we got for $1.50 at Lidl, and TVP (soya) soaked in chicken/beef/vegetable broth, and cooks it up with carrots, celery, and onion minced fine in the food processor. Then he takes four servings of that and adds eggs to it to cook up for breakfasts on work days, adding different spices each day to individualize them.
While he cooked, I took advantage of a break in the rain (we'd had the hardest rain between four and eight, and by the time I went out the sun was struggling to get between the clouds) and went back to Sam’s Club, and of course on Saturday they had the copper Fitbits. Unfortunately my Samsclub.com order had already processed through and I couldn’t cancel it; I’d just have to wait for my mail order to come on Tuesday. I did go to the Walmart across the way and bought two camisoles, a shirt to wear when dog-walking in the heat, new pants’ hangers and wire hangers, and a few other things. The hangers will help me continue the closet project. When I got home I did the vacuuming, and it did rain in the evening, with thunder and lightning, but nothing like what they'd predicted (which was good, because they were talking hail and possible tornadoes).
Saturday evening we started watching season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery. The first episode had such a Star Wars vibe I wondered if we'd wandered into the wrong series. Goodness, Mary Wiseman (Tilly) looked so pale in the first episode. Had she been ill?
» Sunday, April 18, 2021Saying Farewell
If the news on Monday hadn't been bad enough, life threw us another curve on Wednesday (the 14th). James got up about 2 a.m. to use the bathroom, dozed off on the toilet, and once more pitched forward and hurt himself. I woke to him bellowing for help, and he had another lump on his right forehead, a bloody nose (he hit his nose this time), a scrape on his left arm near his elbow, and, of course, sore shoulders. It was 911 time again. This time it was a different group of firefighters, who got him off the floor, and two paramedics who got him in the ambulance to be taken to the hospital to be checked out. They suggested Kennestone because if he had a brain bleed due to the head injury it was the best place for him (they have the best trauma center around), and we didn't argue. They were allowing one visitor, so I got dressed and "saddled up" Butch and followed them there.
Thankfully, the CT scan showed no bleed, the x-ray showed no bones broken in the shoulders, and the nurse let me mop up the dried blood on his face. We got home about six in the morning and immediately decamped to the futon and ended up sleeping until ten. Hurrah for five hours of sleep instead of two. James called Kaiser and got a followup with Dr. Mobley on Thursday, and I washed the dog, packed some more, and by the time Jewel came for her weekly visit, we were sort of coherent.
Up to a few years ago, we went down to Warner Robins to visit James' mom and sister (earlier visiting his dad and sister Sabra and niece Nicki, too) fairly often, at the longest every couple of months, usually about once a month, which eventually dwindled to every six weeks. We'd visit Maggi and Clay for a couple of hours, too, and arrive home a few hours before bedtime, having caught up with what was going on. The drive took about an hour and forty minutes, and before James needed the power chair we would take the car. Twilight was a delight to drive long distances, even as the years wore on we would creak a little more emerging from the front seats.
The operative word here is "was." Initially the only traffic problem was near Southlake Mall, but as the mall died, you'd figure the traffic would get better, but no. More stores appeared around Southlake, and then there was the endless construction at the I-675 split down in Henry County. The "hour forty" became "hour forty five" and then "hour fifty" and got progressively worse, especially at times of the year (Christmas week, school winter and spring vacation weeks, and steamy, sucky, sizzly summer) when I-75 south was clotted with tourists descending on The House of Mouse.
Anyway, Friday morning we went to James' appointment at the podiatrist, then came home and loaded stuff in the truck until it was all down there except for the fids, came back upstairs and had lunch (chicken salad sandwiches), and then loaded up the kids (yes, it's actually easier to cope with Snowy because Tucker gets overexcited and will not be still) and were on our way about 1:15. This should get us in about check-in time at three.
Yeah, like that happened. Mystery traffic jams all the way down (the I-675 split excluded!) and it took us three bloody hours to get there—so long to get to the I-475 cutoff that we had to stop at the rest area so we could both use the bathroom. Even I-75 northbound was backed up. Tucker finally settled down and lay quietly, and Snowy sang for a straight three hours as he attempted to mate with the bell toy in the carry box. Finally pulled into the La Quinta on Watson Boulevard about 4:15, towed all the stuff upstairs on a luggage cart, got Tucker set up in his crate, Snowy set up on his cage on the folding tray, and just collapsed on the bed to get the full effect of the air conditioning as one hundred miles south was a temperature difference of ten degrees more.
A bit later James got ahold of Sabra and we decided to meet for supper at Zen Japanese Steakhouse, which was right behind our hotel. This was a typical place like a Benihana, where they cook the meal on a grill in front of you, and the food was pretty good. I know the steak in my steak and scallops was meltingly tender! Sabra was there with her husband Lee, James' sister Sherii with husband Bobby, and Sherii and Bobby's two daughters Katie and Jessicca, and Jessicca's husband Tom. We chatted through dinner and then after dinner at the hotel everyone else was staying at, the Courtyard by Marriott.
When I was first in Warner Robins, GA, it was still a small city, and things pretty much ended once you got past the mall and Corder Road. In the last thirty-five years everything has built up west of the city going toward the freeway. The place our hotel is, heck the place where they eventually built the "old" Publix (the new Publix is near our hotel) on the corner of Houston Lake Road, was mostly country dotted with a few houses and some small businesses, and, going toward the freeway, lots and lots of peach and pecan orchards. Now Watson Boulevard is solid traffic from U.S. 41 about a mile west of the our La Quinta all the way to the old mall, which is now a health center. It's like Barrett Parkway up at Kennesaw, lined with restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, stores like Best Buy and Hobby Lobby. In fact, judging by the traffic this weekend, it's like Barrett at Christmastime. Good God.
We had a bonus at our La Quinta: there was a dog show, the Peach Blossom, a few miles south in Perry, at the fairgrounds and Agricenter. Every hotel in town that was pet friendly had dogs, and ours was not an exception. We saw lovely pooches everywhere: a smiling Samoyed, a boxer, a pair of Westies, a Corgi, two huge Swiss Mountain dogs (looks like a Bernese, but with a short coat), an Aussie, a couple of pugs. (According to the desk clerk on Sunday, we missed a beaut: he was brought here from Russia. Something called a Caucasian Shepherd Dog, originally bred to hunt bear in the Caucasian Mountains. Like a "St. Bernard on steroids" was how he described it; he could see the top of the dog's head as it walked by the check-in desk!!!)
I had not asked for a handicapped accessible room because none came up when I searched Petswelcome.com's listings, so we had to take it slow getting James in and out of the bathtub/shower. This hotel had the craziest diverter (the gadget that switches from the faucet to the shower) I've ever seen: it was the round spout where the water came out—you pulled it down to get the shower to turn on! Then I had to do treatment on the remaining blisters on his leg. No wonder we don't like to go anywhere anymore: we have to bring more and more medical supplies with us every time we go anywhere.
Saturday morning we got up in time for the breakfast buffet. This was back to being a normal buffet unlike the Country Inn and Suites for Atomicon: eggs and sausages, a waffle maker, a pancake maker, four kinds of juice, a toaster and several kinds of bread, bagels, muffins, and pastries, oatmeal and grits (packaged), several fruit choices, 2 percent milk in a dispenser, also skim milk, butter, margarine, cream cheese, and even cheese slices (which James really appreciated) in a fridge. Hot coffee and tea were available, too.
At this point we had nothing to do until the service, but neither of us had slept well—the pillows were like rocks and two were too many and one not enough, plus they keep the parking lot brilliantly lit so you won't feel like you'll get mugged, but the light completely overwhelms the white "blackout curtains" they have on the windows and glows all around them, and the bed is next to the window, so you can see how that goes. So we just sort of lolled there until we decided we'd better have lunch before the service. Guess what we had seen just down the road when we returned from the Courtyard last night: an Uncle Maddio's Pizza! We went down there and got individual pizzas to go, then ate until it was time to get dressed for the service. Dress was "nice casual," so I wore the black blouse I'd worn to Juanita's wedding with black work pants and my Mom's Trifari bird of paradise pin, which is the nicest piece of jewelry I own. James wore a blue Oxford cloth shirt over his Navy-plaid kilt, with a Trifari green- and clear rhinestone sword pin as a kilt pin, and just regular compression socks instead of the white socks that go with the kilt. I polished our shoes and put on a little blush, and we wore our hats, as it was sunny, warm, and clear with a brisk breeze. Traffic was terrible going back to Magnolia Park, so we weren't as early as we wanted to be. Clay and Maggi had just arrived, and we walked up to the marquee with them only to find out that Alice, Ken, Aubrey, and Juanita had driven down all the way from home to attend the service. I nearly cried. Terica and Ben, who live in town, came, too, but could not stay long as they had to get back to her father, who has dementia. Several friends of James' family were there, like Edwin, and James' Aunt Sandy and her daughter Crystal had also driven down from Kennesaw in that horrible traffic mess!
Sabra did the honors at the memorial ceremony. We were touched because she had asked James if there was anything he wanted read at the ceremony and he asked her to read the Henry Scott Holland piece that had been used in an episode of Remember WENN, a beautiful quotation that goes
"What is death? Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room, and I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other then, that we are still. Speak to me in the easy way that you always used, laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together, let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Life means all that it ever meant; there's absolute unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I'm out of sight? I am waiting for you, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well."
Sabra liked it so well that she read it at the opening of the ceremony. Then she started to tell "Mom stories" that made us laugh and cry all at the same time. It was not a long ceremony, but very touching, and Mom's casket was surrounded by beautiful baskets of flowers, which she would have loved.
Sometime during the ceremony James' sister Candace showed up, having been driven up from Dublin, GA, by a friend. We have not seen her since she developed the terrible infection in her foot last year, and the wound got so bad that she had to have her leg amputated at the knee. She is now in a Veterans' Administration facility in Dublin, supposedly having therapy so that she will be strong enough to be transferred up to New Jersey where she can stay with her daughter Nicki and her grandsons and son-in-law. We know she has not been doing well there, but we were shocked by her appearance. She looks old before her time, thin and wan. I hope she can get out of there soon!
After the ceremony, we went with Alice, Ken, Aubrey, Juanita, Maggi, and Clay to the local Cracker Barrel to have a little snack and decompress. Juanita couldn't finish all her meal so I had a very nice pancake, and James had a slice of chocolate cake. Cracker Barrel is usually SRO, so I was shocked that we found a table almost right away. Then they went along home, and we went back to be with the fids. About seven o'clock we ordered some teriyaki wings from Buffalo Wild Wings and had them delivered to the hotel. They were good, but the sauce was rather salty.
We had a sort-of better night's sleep on Saturday night, were up in time for some packing and the breakfast buffet, then packed up the luggage, the crate, the cage, and finally the fids, got in the truck and got on the road. The GPS was saying a little over a two hour drive, to get us home a little after one, and we didn't do badly in traffic until I noticed James was blinking a lot and sounding tired as we approached McDonough, so we got off at exit 212, hoping to go to Chick-Fil-A, then remembering it was Sunday and they were closed. Sigh. I could have used the waffle fries. I told James we could go on if he wanted to, after using the bathroom at Books-a-Million, since they wouldn't let us go in at Wendy's, but he really needed to eat, so we went to McDonald's instead—at least they'd let us in to use the bathroom. James asked for a quarter pounder without cheese for me and a plain hamburger without cheese for Tucker, and guess what...cheese. Thanks for nothing, McDonald's. I still ate half. Tucker didn't care.
Yes, Snowy sang all the way home, too, but by the time we got close he was starting to look a bit exhausted!
Of course by the time we left McDonald's, the traffic at the I-675 split had built up. At one point the GPS took us off the freeway, a couple of miles on local roads, then back on the freeway. The shortest way home was through I-285, so around downtown Atlanta we went, got home an hour later at a little after two, hauled stuff in and pretty much left stuff that didn't need to go upstairs downstairs, changed clothes, and took a bloody nap until James' furosimide alarm went off at four o'clock.
Spent the rest of the afternoon watching documentaries on Curiosity Stream: one on red pandas, one about the Magna Carta, and finally one called Sherlock Holmes Against Conan Doyle.
At last, back to feather pillows and a firm mattress and lights out.
Until we get an alternative safety method, I have pulled the two foam wedgies that we used to use on the old, non-adjustable bed to prop up our heads from the spare room closet and set them opposite the toilet in the master bathroom. God forbid if James falls forward again he will hit foam rubber.
Tonight it's My Grandfather's War and part three of Atlantic Crossing.
» Sunday, April 11, 2021Loss
James’ mom's condition continued to deteriorate this week. She was having difficulty breathing and they made the decision to put her on a ventilator and sedate her. Later in the week they withdrew the sedation, and were ready to take her off the ventilator when she regained consciousness. She has not yet come to. Late in the week the hospital called in hospice services.
So, it has not been a good week here. At least the side effect fever from the COVID vaccine is gone.
Well, at least that side effect went away. This weekend I had another. It didn't much matter.
At least we were able to have lunch on Friday with Alice and Ken.
[James' mom passed away Monday night, April 12, at 9 p.m.]
» Saturday, April 03, 2021Vaccine Fever
You know me, dentist phobia. So I figured I'd give the gums a good week's treatment before I called the dentist. This was really painful Monday and Tuesday. I had a low-grade fever both days and I had to quit using the water flosser because it hurt so much. Even my upper and lower palette swelled up and the salt rinses were painful; they made my sinuses hurt. My glands were swollen, too. Oddly, at no time did I have any type of toothache; I have had sore gums before, but it has always been associated with a toothache. Instead I flossed with regular floss, which was painful enough, and kept up with the salt rinses along with peroxide rinses (I looked at a $12 tooth rinse at the supermarket; the active ingredient was, guess what, peroxide! I figured to save $12 I could stand the bad taste.) Tuesday I was asleep most of the afternoon. Wednesday I felt better and the fever never came back.
Thursday morning, when I resolved I would call the dentist if things hadn't improved, the swelling was down almost everywhere, and brushing and rinsing didn't hurt much anymore, and by Friday everything was fine again. So...beats me. I didn't think peroxide and salt would take down real infection. I did remember my strange reaction to the Zostavax, though, and looked up reactions to tetanus vaccines online. And there were bleeding gums and swollen glands. Hmmmn.
The rest of the week went by smoothly for us, but not so for James' mother. On Monday she had a very mild heart attack, which I guess was linked to the slow heartbeat? We're getting the reports from James' sister, and she can only visit Mom on limited hours, so she doesn't know everything the doctors are doing.
Friday I did my usual quiet three hours between noon and three, reading the Mass readings for Good Friday, then listening to all six BBC Lent Talks for this year. This year's theme was "hope." I finished out the three hours with Madeleine L'Engle's And It Was Good, the first book in her Genesis trilogy in which she covers the creation through the almost-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. Said prayers for Mom and hoped things will turn around.
And, finally, today, O finally!...I got my second vaccine! We made a day of it: I-285 was backed up at one in the afternoon, so after I was "shot" and waited the regulation thirty minutes reading Ben Aaronovitch's What Abigail Did That Summer, we drove home overland through (mostly) Holcomb Bridge Road. Had lunch at Zaxby's and stopped at Trader Joe's for chicken sausage and chocolate and other goodies.
Tonight I had a fever of 100.3. Why am I not surprised? They say it means you are building antibodies, so it's a good thing.
[The fever, incidentally, lasted through Sunday and Monday, and then vanished as if it had never arrived.]
» Saturday, March 27, 2021Needed: Leprechaun
If it wasn’t for bad luck, we might not have any at all.
Oh, some good stuff happened this week. I finally had the staples removed from my head–hurrah, I can brush my hair properly again!–and then the next day I went out in the yard and finally did the tidying I wanted to get done when it was cold: I used the Wolfgarten "lopper" connected with the extension pole and took down a bunch of tree branches before they leafed out, plus cleaned around Pidgie’s and Schuyler’s graves and tossed out some broken resin lawn ornaments.
And now it’s really spring: we’ve had the grass cut for the first time this year.
The nicest part of the week was going to Barnes & Noble.
The lousy surprise was going to Dr. Friedman on Friday and discovering James had a new blister on his foot–it wasn’t there last night! He’s at the point where his leg is almost well, but there’s always this one tiny little thing that keeps it from being back to where it was in December. Thankfully, the doctor didn't decided to put him back in the calamine unna boot.
The even worse surprise was James intending to call his mom for her birthday later on, and discovering she was in the hospital. She had bradycardia from high calcium; something is wrong with her parathyroid. I know that one; I remember the awful calcium drip I had to have when I had my thyroid out (since it messes with your parathyroid, which controls your calcium), and also the liquid supplement that the night nurse brought, and even after I left the hospital I had to have a special prep of it mixed up at Wender and Roberts, which was a real apothecary and not just a drugstore. It sounded as if she might need to have the parathyroid removed, but maybe there's some sort of medical therapy for it.
James also had to return the new (refurbed) laptop he’d bought because the wifi quit working. It was a crazy week for technology period, since one of my most-used phone apps stopped working completely and I had to reload it twice before it “took” again. Both phones seemed to have trouble connecting to the wifi for a couple of days; we even considered rebooting the router. But then it straightened up out of nowhere, so maybe it was the phones.
Anyway, I noticed when I brushed my teeth Friday night that my gums were very sore and bleeding. They’d been fine previously and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I immediately started myself on salt and water rinses, and even that hurt! By Saturday morning I could barely brush my teeth and I didn’t feel very well. As a precaution, I took my temperature before we went to Hair Day and it was 97.9℉, so I didn’t know what the problem was. Now, we were supposed to leave Hair Day at one to get to my appointment at the Kaiser Gwinnett office for my second vaccine. Instead about noon I asked James if we could go home so I could lie down for a half hour before we left for Gwinnett. The first thing I did upon getting inside was take my temperature again and it was 100.5! I took some ibuprofin and then kept taking my temp every ten minutes and it never got lower than 99.9. So I had to call Kaiser up and cancel the appointment again. [Later: I got an e-mail on Sunday and was able to reschedule it for April 3. What a pain in the neck!]
[Sunday my gums were still sore but…of course, no fever.]
» Sunday, March 21, 2021Well, the Morning Was Okay... (Atomicon, Day 4)
All good things must come to an end. But surprisingly, we had had another good night’s sleep, and were reasonably awake when we schlepped out of the room in slippers and hang-around clothing to get our breakfast, after starting to toss stuff into the suitcases and James packing up his C-PAP. We ate in the common room with a small crowd, and then people started wandering in after breakfast at Kami’s Place, and while James held the fort, I ran back in the room, packed up most of everything, portaged it into the common room, and checked out of the room promptly at eleven, after which we sat and gabbed a little longer. We were in no rush because we couldn’t pick up Tucker and Snowy until after 4 p.m. Finally we loaded up the truck and followed the group (Damien, Kristine, Aubrey, Ken, Alice, and Chris) that was going to Kami’s Place for lunch. The decor hasn’t changed and the food is still yummy: James had an omelet and I had a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar cheese.
And then we were on our way home. When we got to Dawsonville we stopped at the North Georgia Premium outlets for a bathroom break as well as to stop at the Hanes store to buy underwear and socks for me and underwear and shirts for James. [Later: This turned out to be a bust for James–none the underwear he bought, even though it was his size, did not fit; they were labeled as briefs but were really low-rise briefs. We couldn’t even donate the unused ones because he had taken them all out of the packages. We had to throw them away.] Popped in the Yankee Candle outlet store but they don’t have the coffee-scented candles anymore.
This took long enough that we arrived at the vet after four, but had to wait forever for the other people picking up their pets so they could let us inside (they weren’t letting anyone else in, and they didn’t want to have to explain why they were letting either of us in to use the restroom and for me to put Snowy back in his carry box and empty all the water and seed out of his cage and get it wrapped up). Snowy came out singing his head off as I made a mess out of one of the exam rooms by spilling his seed everywhere, and soundly bit me when I put him into the carry cage.
And then the vet tech came out and said none of Tucker’s exam/bloodwork had been done! Dr. Mike examined Snowy and gave him his polyoma shot, but Tucker didn’t get his checkup or his labs or even his bath! She kept apologizing and said they owed him a free bath! And now we have to drag over to the other side of town again to get him a checkup!
So we dragged in home wayyyyyyy after five, whereupon I stuffed a load of laundry in the washer, then we had barbecue leftovers for supper and watched M*A*S*H and Star Trek, and later on an old film about a boy and his horse, The Red Stallion. It had the little dog “Daisy” in it who used to be in the “Blondie” films and who also played Jacob in National Velvet.
» Saturday, March 20, 2021Sweet and Sour, Pizza and Ribs (Atomicon, Day 3)
It was our last full day in Helen, so we celebrated by having a long, long breakfast with everyone. Hopefully next year we can go back to proper breakfasts and we won't have to juggle cereal bowls and cups over to the conference room; previous years they brought us eggs and sausage and we could use trays. (This year the tables used for breakfasts were covered in their extra inventory of paper products.) Luckily it was a little cooler today than yesterday, so the fact that we didn’t go out until almost noon was okay. Once again we traversed the back street and took the bridge over the Chattahoochee, and this time we did find the Olive Tree–it is now downtown on Main Street next to the coffee shop, in a terribly teeny space (I think it was formerly a T-shirt and sunglasses shop!), but we did manage. They didn’t have their sign out yet, so they had to keep shooing people in, though. (They can't leave the door open because the vinegar samples attract flies.) We already had a second bottle of the white peach balsamic vinegar, but we had loved the honey ginger as a finishing sauce for pork and chicken last year, so we got a larger bottle of that.
This time we walked all the way down to Hofer’s bakery and sandwich shop, where the nice broad sidewalk ends and turns into a narrower path not suitable for the power chair. James wanted a slice of German chocolate cake, but the ramp at Hofer's is not wide and kind of hard for him to navigate, so I went in to get it for him, and found a bonus: Ritter dark chocolate-covered peppermint cream bars. They were terribly expensive, but I got two as a treat. We used to find these all the time at Nam Dae Mun, then they quit carrying them, and I'd wondered if they had quit making them.
On the way back we peeked in the other stores on the opposite side of the street and I bought my yearly half-pound of almond bark from the Hansel and Gretel candy shop, and got James some sugar-free caramels as well. It was another lovely, breezy day, and we loitered under the overhangs of the different little shops, listened to the live music being played in the performance area, then walked/rolled under the bridge again, along the river, and wound through the parking lots through the back via Edelweiss Street.
Once again we had leftovers for lunch–James had the big chili bowl he didn’t expect last night at Bigg Daddy’s and I had the other half of my personal pizza. People wandered in and out, and we always had someone to talk with.
A big group went out for dinner tonight at Bodensee, the German place down the road, but it’s rather expensive, and Bodensee is not a large place. I was also kinda jonesing for barbecue. We found two likely places, both a few miles away in Cleveland, but one was going to close in a half hour. So James and I, plus Alice and Ken, and their former church pastor, Amy, went to a place just past the Walmart we went to yesterday, Rib Country BBQ. We had to wait about 20 minutes, but, boy, what great food and the service was terrific! I wanted ribs and James said “Let’s splurge!” and we got a dinner for two: a rack of ribs, a pound of barbecue, a pound of brisket, and half a barbecue chicken, plus french fries and I had applesauce on the side and he had baked beans. I ate every single rib except for the one I gave to James, he ate a little of everything, and we had two big containers of leftovers to take home. [Later: James used the fries to make eggs, Spam, and potato breakfasts, and we ate off the leftovers as well!]
By the time we got back, people were already playing games. Oreta had the new anniversary edition of Chronology, and she, Melinda, Shawn, and I played both versions. The new version has a lot more modern stuff and isn’t as “nerdy,” I think. She also showed us how the locked room mystery games work, but we didn’t play one. There were different “conversation pits,” and James partook of several, and we wandered sleepily off to bed sometime after midnight.