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 theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Sunday, February 11, 2024
Anniversaries and Headaches
A quiet week. Our big event for the week was on Friday driving up to Canton for our monthly "trip" (It's about the longest trip we take these days, thirty miles). We browsed around Books-a-Million—I bought four books: a mystery anthology, a time-travel mystery, an Arthurian retelling narrated by Elaine of Astolat, and a rom-com, and James bought me Ali Hazelwood's Bride for Valentine's Day—then had lunch at Uncle Maddio's.

We got rick-rolled during lunch. 😊 At least we didn't get Whammed at Christmas.

James had his stitches out on Thursday. The ones under the skin graft were so buried we went through four doctors before one could be found who could see the stitches! Now I only have to tend the nose; the graft donation site near his ear has surgical glue on it which will wear off.

Saturday was our first Hair Day without Lin. Ron and Sheri (the hairdresser) decided to keep up the tradition. I wasn't feeling good most of the day due to the impending rain and a constant headache which even three ibuprofin didn't relieve, and Lin's absence made it worse. We stopped at Kroger on the way home, relaxed a bit, and then went to the Lawsons for a very delayed Christmas gift exchange. I usually play games with the others, but the headache was so draining I just stayed in the living room with the guys, mostly leaning on James' shoulder.

February 9 would have been my mom's birthday, and it was also the 60th anniversary of the great Disney live-action story The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, about smuggling on the Kent coast of England in the 18th century (about the time of the American Revolution). Patrick McGoohan plays both the daring Scarecrow (in a terrifying mask) and the mild-mannered vicar Dr. Christopher Syn. According to Patrick McGoohan, this was one of his favorite acting roles, and the original DVD release, as a "Disney Treasure," sold out in one week. One of the fond memories of my childhood.

Sunday was the Stupid Bowl, or rather the Puppy Bowl. All the puppies were cute, but there was a Yorkshire Terrier mix named Vanessa who was the most darling puppy you've ever seen. (There was also a tiny, 2-pound miniature poodle puppy named Sweetpea, but they let you know during the show that Sweetpea had medical problems and had passed away after the Puppy Bowl was filmed.) So adorbs!

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» Sunday, February 04, 2024
Mostly Medical
So, we cancelled the sleep study on Monday the 29th. The logistics were all wrong; I couldn't have Tucker waiting around the house 13-14 hours to pee. At the best we would have come home to a wet carpet, but the poor dog would have been miserable. We had arranged with Aubrey to come over to take him out and cover Oliver before bed, but then Alice came down with COVID and Aubrey was nursing her/quarantined. Not to mention we would have coats and hats to carry along with our pillows and other sleep stuff. Better we retry this when it's warm.

I was also worried about the sore on his toe. It looked worse to me, with peeling skin all around it, and the idea of him having to pad around a strange room to use the bathroom made me uneasy. However, when we went to the podiatrist on Tuesday she said it was getting better and it was time to lay off the Mupirocin and start putting on (all together now!) Betadyne! I am now the Betadyne queen! And she gave me another sheet of Mepilex. Yay!

It was probably best we cancelled the sleep study because James had a marathon session having the skin cancer removed from the tip of his nose on Thursday. Last fall it was biopsied and stated not to be cancerous. By December he had a dark black growth on the nose. When they biopsied it again in January it was basal cell carcinoma.

The last two times James had skin cancers removed, they only had to go one or two layers down. This time they had to go four, and because it went so deep, they had to do a skin graft from the skin next to his left ear to go over what they carved out. Where the graft was taken is just straight stitches, about three inches long right in front of his ear, typically ugly looking but not particularly bloody, which I was afraid of because during the surgery I hear he bled like a stuck pig due to the Plavix. We had to put ice on it the first night and leave the bandage alone, but for the rest of the week I had to clean it with sterile saline and gauze and then put on polysporin or Mupiricin (I did the latter) and re-bandage.

Thursday night the bandage on his nose was so big the C-PAP mask could not go over his nose, so he tried to sleep without it. He didn't get much sleep. Friday night even the smaller bandage I placed on his nose was too big for the mask, which just fits over his nose. So he slept some, but he snored when he did. Finally about seven o'clock I couldn't take him turning and twisting anymore, told him to put the light on, and I took off my original nose bandage and put on a smaller one that just covered the wound to keep germs out. So at least he got about three hours GOOD sleep.

This week I also did some decluttering, but it was mostly about the medical.

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» Sunday, January 28, 2024
When All Was at Its Calmest...
In many ways it was an ordinary week, so terribly ordinary that it would almost be otherwise forgettable. Monday and Tuesday were the usual chores. We had the usual shopping trips. James had physiotherapy and three doctors' appointments, one which wasn't needed (apparently his hemoglobin is finally in the normal range, so he didn't need this week's Procrit shot; he also had his A1C tested and it came out an amazing 5.9).

There were a couple of blips: one was that I got very worried over the sore on James' toe and we ended up canceling his sleep study partially because I didn't want him walking that much on his right foot till we saw the podiatrist next week. The other reason we canceled was because our petsitter couldn't come to walk Tucker; her mom had been diagnosed with COVID. We would have had to leave at 6 p.m. and wouldn't be home until 8 a.m. or so, and I didn't think it was fair Tucker would have to go 13-14 hours without getting to pee. I was also worried about the person with COVID, because she was already in shock about something else.

So were we, for that matter, and so was anyone who was friends with Lin Butler.

Lin was a very special person with a beautiful spirit, a killer sense of humor, a big heart, and a welcoming smile, smart as all get out—she was a chemist for Coca-Cola for many years—and a tireless fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis organization (her younger son was diagnosed with CF). In the last few years she has battled a number of health problems, including cancer and heart problems, and done so with bravery and humor. In October she watched her older son and his girlfriend of several years "tie the knot" with happiness, even though she was ill with bronchitis at the time. (She told her doctor she'd do anything he said, but if she had to go in the hospital again it must be after the wedding.)

The nasty cough she had from the bronchitis hung on into November and the two times we saw her in December, and the last time we saw her, on the morning of January 6. She was talking about a little trip she was planning to take with our friends Alice and Juanita; I didn't catch where it was they were going that day, but it turned out to be in Florida, at a little beach condo. I'm sure she was dreaming about breathing in the wonderful sea air, and she did get to enjoy it for one evening.

Later that evening she had trouble breathing and was taken to the nearest emergency room. It turned out she had double pneumonia and had to be intubated.

She died of heart failure three days later.

So it was a very ordinary week. And a very cold week and a terrible week and an empty week. There is a gap that can never be filled, an empty place at the table, a missing piece of our hearts.

Here in Georgia the day of her death had been very wet, a steady, miserable drizzle all day; even when evening fell, there was a mist of rain droplets casting a bit of a fog, with the streetlights haloed by the rain. At bedtime, just as we were preparing to shower, the lights went off, then on again, with the weather as it was, not much of a surprise since we have pinpoint blackouts on sunny days, too. But then the lights started blinking off and on in the most astonishing way, the bulbs sometimes powered so low that only the filament was lit. It reminded me of some horror movie where that happened, not sure which one.

James snapped on a flashlight before the lights quit doing their carnival thing and went black completely. And that's when I noticed lights were flickering outside. Through the bathroom window there was this weird flickering like heat lightning in the summer, just a constant, rapid flashing like the wings of a fluttering bird.

I thought I was seeing things, so went from the bedroom to the back door on the deck and opened the door, and then had to call James because this spooky light was just flickering on and off all through the air outside. It was eerie. James came stumping out on his cane and watched this, then said, "Try looking out the front window and see if it looks the same," so I ran into the spare bedroom; sure enough, I could still see the flickering light through the curtains, and pulled up the shade.

Flickering, yes, facing west as well, dancing over the roofs of the houses across the street, but now you could see the source in the northwest sky, a point far beyond the trees where the lights were dancing like fireworks seen through a translucent cloud cover, hovering over a central point, yellowish, whitish, and sometimes other pale shades. All at once, it turned bluish, then got intensely bright and then was extinguished.

Martian War Machines? Spaceships over Witch Mountain? We figured a transformer or something similar sparking, and the mist in the air reflecting the flickering light everywhere. (Another source said it was a power station overload.)

By the time I got back in the bedroom and called Cobb EMC, the power was back on, and the lady on duty must have thought I was crazy talking about how the sky flickered.

Being the sentimentalist I am, the thought did flash into my head--maybe it was Lin trying to send us a message. Maybe now she can light up the sky.

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» Sunday, January 21, 2024
De-Christmased At Last
"Doggedly I continued." And finally today, Sunday, January 21, it is all put away in the closet and I vacuumed downstairs to boot.

It took a while, although there was a Monday rush: I had to get everything downstairs removed and stored because we were going to have a severe cold snap (lows in the teens) this week. I didn't want to freeze my feet off downstairs. So Monday, between chores, I took down everything in the library and the airplane tree in the hallway. Happily, the foyer stuff was already down. On Tuesday I took down all the dining room decorations and the Christmas village and the board it sits on over the mantel shelf. The latter killed my back, so I spent Tuesday evening watching Killers of the Flower Moon, which I was so interested in seeing after reading the book. I found it turgid and overlong, and wondered why Martin Scorsese chose to center the narrative around Molly's useless husband Ernest, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his larcenous uncle, played by Robert DiNiro. It was gross watching these two slimeballs plotting the deaths of Molly's family so they could take over their oil shares, while Ernest professed to love Molly! Oh, the cinematography was great: there's one haunting scene where Molly is dying because blockhead Ernest is slowly poisoning her via her insulin, and there's a fire outside, and her sickroom is lit with flames as she burns up with fever.

It doesn't help that I'm not a DiCaprio fan at all; I would have liked to seen more of the Native Americans and also of the FBI search for the culprit instead of Leo as a lazy horse's ass.

The cold came rushing in on Wednesday; I wore my "Rhode Island weight" winter coat to physiotherapy—finally, already, Kaiser!—and to Publix. The wind had a blade edge. Compounded with this, our internet service was dead all day. It's not like we didn't have stuff to watch, and we both ended up hotspotting on our phones and could get on the internet, but it was still frustrating. It was very localized, too, just in our neighborhood; I suspect that some idiot with a backhoe or a ditch witch severed the fiber line and that's why it took so long to restore.

Thursday we had a big fat dose of reality. James goes to podiatry every six weeks to get his feet inspected due to the diabetes and get a proper nail trim. Pretty much every night I rub lotion on James' legs and feet and treat any injuries on his legs where the skin is fragile. Today the doctor found a sore on the right side of his right baby toe, about 5 millimeters in diameter, with evidence of penetration under the skin. I put the lotion on from the left side and usually check his feet and toes, but this got completely past me. James got an x-ray to see if there is infection down to the bonethere is no pus but the toe is faintly redder than the othersand I have to keep Mupirocin on it with a covering of Mepilex AG, and we have to come back in two weeks.

James thinks it might be because he's wearing the Skechers instead of slippers and they are a little narrower, and the wound came from the shoe rubbing his toe. But he's been wearing them around the house since October and the raw spot was not there when he went to podiatry six weeks ago! I'm just appalled that I missed it in the first place and am kicking myself. The tests came back by yesterday and the infection is not in the bone, but he does have staph. I hope the Mupirocin works.

I took the Christmas tree down on Friday, to the accompanying scream of my back, taking solace in Lassie episodes. There has been a "Lassie channel" on Xumo for a month or two, but they were mostly repeating the Jeff episodes and the transitional episodes over and over and not in order. Well, the same channel is now a Roku Live Channel, and they appear to now go through eighth season. So seventh season Lassie took my mind off my aches and pains on Friday, and when we got done at Lidl, Publix, and Kroger on Saturday, then had a nice trip to Barnes & Noble, I lucked out when we got home and "Lassie's Odyssey" was just starting! Solid gold Lassie, my favorite story from when I saw the original broadcast in February 1962. (Of course the asshole chimpanzee story "Casey" came next, but one can't have everything.)

I wish I could say "now we can relax" but starting Wednesday we have a marathon three days of doctors' appointments (and of course it's going to freakin' rain) and then another spate of them starting Monday the 29th. ::groan:: And I still need to bathe the dog and change the bed.

Sunday I got all the Christmas stuff back into the downstairs closet. Yay!

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» Sunday, January 14, 2024
"Undecorating," the Garbage Rustlers, and a Lift
Found myself struggling this week: first it was putting up the Christmas decorations, now it was taking them down.

It didn't help that I was distracted by other tasks that needed doing. For instance, James has been having trouble turning left out of our street. There is some kind of waxy-leaved bushes that were planted out front when they built the neighborhood, which are now taller than they were eighteen years ago. He can't see the cars coming up on his left on the main road. So Monday morning after my dog walk I marched up to the front with my hedge clipper and took down about half of it. This should have been a quick and easy job, but evidently the battery is not charging properly and I had to keep unlatching it and plugging it in again. Very frustrating. I came home and ordered a new battery. Zounds! It's one third the price of the hedge clipper!

I also had to do all my regular Monday chores—sorting meds, washing towels, and cleaning our bathroom—and also go to Kroger, since I was out of milk. So, didn't get anything done on Monday.

Tuesday is laundry day. I got out the boxes for the decorations, but that was about it since I had to go to two Publixes. Last week when they had Smart Balance on BOGO they evidently get any in stock: we went to two different Publix stores and they were out. Tuesday was the last day of that BOGO, so I went to the East-West Connector store for some and the Smyrna store for the rest, stopping at Big Lots in between to see if they had any gingerbread pizzelles left. Yes, they did, and they still had Christmas bows and paper on sale, too.

Wednesday was shopping day this week since Kaiser still hasn't gotten off their tuffets and re-upped James' physical therapy referral, even though he asked them before Christmas. By the time I get done shopping and dragging all that stuff upstairs to put it away, I'm generally done for the day. I also cleaned out the hall closet some: we have too many party things and I took away half the bowls and relocated some of the light bulbs.

Thursday James had to get his blood tested for his Procrit shot, then we had to buy a storage box for the Christmas village since I broke the old one bringing it upstairs. Instead of one big box which is hard to bring upstairs now because of the chair lift (that's how it broke), I bought four small boxes. We had lunch at Top Spice, but I'm discontent with their pad thai. Next time I'll get the other pad dish and not that one, even if I like the peanuts in the pad thai.

We finished watching Echo this week; it was only five parts. Not much for Vincent D'Onofrio's acting chops, but Alaqua Cox is mesmerizing to watch. I loved the way Maya's family, even her resentful grandmother, came to support her, especially her goofy cousin Biscuits. Graham Greene a delight as always.

The darnest thing also happened on Thursday after we got home. Our trash gets collected early Friday morning. Usually when I walk the dog Thursday morning I will try to put the can at the curb early because I have forgotten to put it out on Thursday night before. This way if I forget, all that rolls over to the next week is one bag of trash.

About twenty minutes after we got home, I heard a great thumping outside and looked out the front window. There was a garbage truck marked "Waste Connections" and the garbage guys were manhandling my Smith Sanitation trash bin. They emptied it, then slapped a "Waste Connections" sticker on it and put it back in place.

I was confused and questions raced through my head: Did Smith change their name? Get bought out? Is trash day now on Thursday? And WTF weren't we notified of anything happening?

Later that night  I went to my online Smith Sanitation bill. They had sent a note back in November that they were not going out of business back, but competitors were passing around a rumor that they were, so not to believe them. I responded to the note telling them what had happened with these Waste Connections people.

So Friday morning we're up early because James has a 11:30 appointment. I wasn't up ten minutes before a very flustered lady from Smith called me, having just read my note. Apparently this Waste Connections is a competitor and they are just driving around slapping their stickers on competitors' trash cans! She said when she got off the phone with me she would call our driver, explain what happened, and make sure the rest of the trash got collected. (Trash was collected at 8:23 am.)

I immediately flashed on all those Westerns where the cattle rustlers would take the herd before branding time and rebrand the cattle with a different mark and brand the calves, too.

Now we have garbage rustlers? Unbelievable!

Friday was a suck-ass miserable day, 43℉ and a steady, cold rain. James is always cold these days due to the anemia, but I was cold, like someone dumped ice water between my shoulder blades. I couldn't get warm and felt so bad the nurse at the infusion clinic gave me a warm blanket, too! I was in my fleece hoody all night. We watched the season finale of For All Mankind. (Yes, of course Margo got arrested, but I think an America prison is a much better place than being dead or ending up in the Gulag! And the bitch that got her into that situation probably ended up either of those ways so that makes me happy.)

James did his club meeting on Zoom this afternoon, while I finally puttered around enough to put away the porch and foyer decorations, the 12-Days-of-Christmas tree, the woodland tree and the table it was on, and boxed up the candoliers and the pillows. I also put out the winter porch and foyer decorations, and sorted the bows I bought at Big Lots. In the evening we watched the heist movie Lift (yes, Vincent D'Onofrio was in it; why do you ask). If you turned your brain off at the beginning, it was a fun movie. VDO had some good scenes at the beginning, then his part just dried up. The other stars were fun, especially the daredevil woman who was the pilot. I didn't understand the "charisma" of Kevin Hart's character Cyrus. He was supposed to be a charmer who kept this group together, but I didn't understand why they threw their loyalty in with him. I was quite amused at the eventual villain: portrayed by Jean Reno, who, in the crime series Jo, discovered that lethal Nicole Wallace, Robert Goren's occasional nemesis on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, was actually alive. So now Reno and D'Onofrio are connected by two things.

Sunday I finally got the Rudolph tree, the spare room decorations, and our bedroom decorations down, and the box downstairs.

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» Sunday, January 07, 2024
New Year: Parade Dreams, Films, Friends, and Fun
This week began with the Rose Parade and ended with party cleanup.

The Rose Parade was covered live on KTLA in Los Angeles and we watched that feed cast to the television instead of the commercial-ridden network broadcasts. Other than sorting medications for the week, did nothing on New Year's Day except eat junk food and watch Galaxy Quest. The day ended on a satisfactory note with the two-hour M*A*S*H retrospective: just the cast and the producers talking about the show and the changes of format, no dubious celebrities telling us how much they loved the show.

Tuesday I updated all the copyrights on my web page so I could do my monthly web site backup. Except when I went to do the backup, the backup drive was gone. It usually sits next to my computer desk and has been in that location for over a year. But, apparently, it, and the container it was in, at some point tipped over and fell in the wastebasket, and it was sometime previous to when I emptied the baskets for trash last Thursday. Annoyed that I now have to go waste money on a new one.

Kaiser still hasn't reupped James' referral to physiotherapy, so we went to MicroCenter on Wednesday instead; I got the cutest little two terabyte (it's about the size of a deck of cards) backup drive that can be hung up on the side of the tower instead of near the basket. It was a grey, bitterly cold day and it was good to get home after we went to Publix next door.

Thursday we did our monthly trip to Canton: strolling the aisles of Books-a-Million, then lunch at Uncle Maddio's Pizza, and finally a stop at BJ's for maple syrup and fruit cups.

On Friday James had his second iron infusion. I posted a short story on AO3 and cross-posted on We ate supper out so as not to have to dirty dishes. Alas, it seems the Okinawa on Dallas Highway doesn't have beef bulgogi like the one on the East-West Connector. I had Mandarin beef instead, but it wasn't a fair trade.

And Saturday was our Twelfth Night party! We ran to Hair Day quickly to get James' hair cut, then came home to finish tidying up and then it was time for food and conversation. We had a couple of call-outs as the Spiveys and the Butlers both were under the weather, but it was a great time anyway. Clay and Maggi and Bill and Caran were here until midnight talking up a storm.

Sunday was cleanup day, and I went outside and took down the lights as well since there's a massive rainstorm coming on Tuesday.

Watched three good movies this week: Operation Mincemeat (now I can't wait to read the book!), Feast of the Seven Fishes (which kinda reminded me of Mystic Pizza but more low-key; I liked the Italian family dynamics more than the jerky Yuppie mother who was trying to force the rich boyfriend on the blond girlfriend), and Knives Out, which was so really convoluted (and I thought some of the families on Law & Order: Criminal Intent were bad).

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» Sunday, December 31, 2023
Holiday Week

Christmas Day was quite pleasant; we had a leisurely breakfast. We had no gifts to open--James hadn't wrapped mine (the Law & Order monopoly game) and his hadn't arrived from Amazon yet (a new food processor), so we watched The Little Drummer Boy and The House Without a Christmas Tree until it was time to go to the Butlers for dinner, conversation, fuzzy Christmas feelings, and a gift exchange.

The food certainly beat Bay Breeze all hollow: perfectly cooked turkey, ham, and Clair's pot roast, over half a dozen veggie sides, desserts from pie to the little Favorina florentines, and of course Lin's cinnamon-and-sugar piecrust folds. She always makes them and I always hug her for it. I remember when I was a kid and would only eat the pie crusts; the filling didn't interest me at all. One of my aunts used to make the little pastries out of piecrust. too.

Later we had a mad gift opening—I opened everything so fast I'm not sure I know who gave me what—but everything was nice, from cross-stitch kits to dessert treats. We checked out Christmas lights on the way home, but weren't able to go on to check out the lights in Smyrna because we both needed to "hit the head" by the time we got to the house. Ah, the pleasures of being old!

Tuesday was a funny day: usually it's me who has post-holiday gastric distress, but today it was James. He remained close to home while I ran errands: went to Barnes & Noble, only to find this year their post-Christmas hardback sale is only 33 percent off, and there was nothing I wanted that bad for only 33 percent off. Instead I went to Hobby Lobby and got Oliver a new cage cover, as the one I bought at JoAnn was too small (I ordered a yard and they gave me only 30 inches—not cool, JoAnn). Then I got Butch gassed up at Costco and finished up by picking up something at Kaiser for James and then went to Publix. (I was actually heading for Big Lots, but traffic was stopped dead for a big accident; I ran past three accidents in the two hours I was out, and in two cases one car had hit the other car so hard that the wheel was bent. In fact, one of the cars had its left rear wheel broken off with the axle sticking out of it! After seeing the third accident, I just wanted to get home unscathed.)

James was better by Wednesday, so we went to physiotherapy; this is his last until Kaiser gets off their duff and re-ups his referral. On the way home we stopped at Lidl.

Thursday it was James' turn to get gasoline at Costco. This time we went inside to get the rest of the things for our Twelfth Night party. I also did a search-and-destroy through the garage and tossed away a garbage bag full of stuff, plus a bunch of old magazines. And to make it a medical trifecta, James had an iron infusion on Friday. Made the mistake of eating at Whattaburger afterwards. I am so not impressed by this place. The burger tastes of that fake "grillmark" shit and James clearly asked them for my burger as "a bun, the burger, and ketchup only," and they gave me the whole darn salad (thank goodness they remembered to omit the mustard). I burped the crappy thing up the rest of the afternoon.

Yesterday we went to a nice little gathering at the Spiveys home to celebrate Alice's birthday and watch the UGA vs. Florida State game. The company was great, but Florida State did a crash and burn. Later we learned the final score was 63 to 3!

Today I washed towels and cleaned the bathroom so I didn't have to do it on New Year's Day. Still have to sort meds for the week, but that's a twenty minute thing. For supper James made something he calls "egg roll in a bowl," ground pork cooked up and then blended with diced coleslaw, carrots, and celery. It was yummy. We watched a few Law & Order: Criminal Intent episodes, then Rudolph's Shiny New Year, the Ellery Queen episode "The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne," and finally the M*A*S*H episode "A War for All Seasons."

I put on the live feed from Times Square at 11:30, but the music was dreadful, so I found an old Guy Lombardo special from New Year's Eve 1976 to watch until it was almost time for the real Happy New Year. So we saw 1977 in about 11:55, then switched back to Times Square for the final countdown.


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» Sunday, December 24, 2023
Food and Not So Festivities
It was an unremarkable week leading up to Christmas. Tucker did finally get his bath. The gifts were wrapped and the spare room finally looks decent again. Wednesday was James' physiotherapy and "Doughnut Day," plus we made it to Hallmark to spend our coupons. Grocery shopping was done on Wednesday, and on Thursday I finally got my birthday dinner.

It was terrible. Some friends recommended Bay Breeze a few years ago, and we have enjoyed going there. They have baked stuffed shrimp that is actually affordable, and, even if it's not the "jumbo shrimp" they describe, it's usually good. Well, apparently it's gone way downhill according to other friends. We didn't get our appetizer until after our entree and it was overcooked, the shrimp were overcooked and tough and salty as the dickens, as was the appetizer (potato skins). After we finished eating, we went to downtown Marietta to walk around. We found gingerbread boys at the Australian bakery, went into The Corner Shop (the British store) and the candy store (found a dark chocolate Toblerone for dessert), and I checked out the new bookstore on the square, Elephant Books. (It's pretty much just starting out, so not a lot of books, and it strikes me as a "boutique type" place.)

We never did get to the antique store to see the vintage decorations among the vintage items because Mr. Lower GI was acting up again and we had to come home.

Friday I finished prepping my 2024 journal, and then Sunday it was back to the chores again, so Christmas Day would be free.

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Oliver Again

A better photo of Oliver.



» Sunday, December 17, 2023
This is Oliver

 He's twelve weeks old, so I've set his birthday on September 13. Easy date for a Space: 1999 fan to remember.

This store has all sorts of birds, including big macaws and parrots. A Fischer's conure (a beautiful turquoise bird) seemed to be fascinated by me. I was trying to teach him not to bite. There was also an adorable canary, almost pale white with lemon yellow markings. We seemed to connect; he kept running to the bars to check me out. His other passion was shed feathers; every time I saw him, he picked one up and played with it. But $130! Goodness!



Birthdays and Other Things That Make You Blink
On Monday evening at 11:30 p.m., I officially turned 68 years old. How the Dickens did that happen? In my head I'm still the six year old who fell in love with Lassie, the ten year old who learned to play the organ in the fifth grade classroom at Stadium School, the fifteen year old who adored Mr. Abosamra's English classes, the eighteen year old who missed almost the entire final quarter of twelfth grade due to surgery, the twenty-something who cried when the Paperback Books store in Providence closed...ten budgies, eight cars, two states, and many years!

Monday we were off for a birthday dinner. Alas, we forgot Bay Breeze was closed on Mondays. We made a short stop at Ollie's Discount Store, then ate at Okinawa instead. Bulgogi beef, yum!

I spent the rest of my birthday replacing light bulbs on the bottom of the Christmas tree.

And when I did, that part of the bottom of the tree still didn't light up. I wanted to cry. Instead I just threw a spare string of lights at the bottom and replaced the lights in the middle of the tree where they had gone out last year. Those came back on.

I gave up and put the decorations and the tinsel the next day and it exhausted me fully. The best part of the night was listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's annual Christmas concert. The guest was David Suchet, who told the story of Englishman Nicholas Winton and the Czech Kindertransport, so I spent time tinseling in tears.

By the way, I want you to see the smallest Christmas miracle. I bought this star at the Woolco at North DeKalb Mall, Market Square as it was then, and now demolished, in 1991 for our first Christmas tree together. Every year "Little Blaze" still lights...every year I know it might be the last, any day this year might be, too, but I always see her light anyway. Inspiration from a small Christmas star. She makes me cry.

I had a bunch of Hallmark coupons, so on Friday we went to Gretchen's at the Avenue at West Cobb. Unfortunately Mr. Lower GI decided to go spare at this point; James got a Battlestar Galactica ornament and I had to hotfoot it to Barnes & Noble to use the bathroom. The result was that I spent no coupons, but did buy four discount books, including two Christmas books.

It took us a long time to get over Snowy's death, then we had the whole summer with James falling or hurting himself in some way. In the last few months he's been asking me if we were going to get another bird. For a long time I couldn't think about it. Snowy's death itself had been so painful—I couldn't forget how his little body struggled as his legs stopped responding to his body, but he still attempted to crawl into a corner to die, and he didn't want me to hold him or comfort him in my hands
—that I cried almost constantly about him at least once a week, most recently a week ago on his adoption day. James said I needed a bird; I was thinking more that he needed a bird; after all Snowy had been his working companion.

But this weekend he talked me into it. He'd found a bird store out in Norcross called Fancy Feathers.

But that's a story for another post. I did vacuum before we left. The last thing I wanted to do was frighten a baby bird with "the bizippy thing."

Sunday I got disgusted at my laziness and went downstairs to at least put up the airplane tree. It took me what seemed like forever because I dropped something like every fifth ornament. I broke the wing off one of the glass airplanes, and one ornament I dropped even knocked two more off the tree. I was fit to be tied by the time I was finished because I felt old and useless. There's nothing to decorating the airplane tree. You hang the ornaments, swag the garland, put on the star, and you're done. And it took so long. Sigh.

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» Sunday, December 10, 2023
Decorating Begins...Slowly...and Other Stories
I was so conflicted. I wanted to write. Wanted to put up Christmas decorations. Wanted to do something fun.

Well, I did do some decorating almost every day this week, but was way behind due to procrastination and just plain depression. Monday I did kick myself into action. I had gifts I had not mailed out last year that I definitely wanted to get out this year, and early so I could use media mail. So I wrapped all four gifts and went to the post office. The line wasn't too awful because there were actually (faint!) four cashiers at the Smyrna post office, and the one I got was very jolly. I also mailed all the Christmas cards and went to the Smyrna fire station to drop off Toys for Tots.

(Amazingly, every single person I mailed to—media mailgot their gift before the end of the week! Emma got hers in two days.)

James had to take care of another annoying health problem this week: he has had a dermatitis problem on the tip of his nose for several years now. It bleeds and crusts over and then heals. The last time the dermatologist biopsied it, it wasn't cancerous, but some type of skin irritation. But in the last couple of weeks (ironically since he had the new drug for arthritis—which he quit taking) it has bled and formed a huge scab about a centimeter in diameter. So Tuesday we had to go to Kaiser to get it biopsied again. (The dermatologist said James was clearly reacting to the new drug with all his other symptoms, and he'd heard of those side effects for that drug before.) I did get the laundry done, too.

Wednesday was the usual physiotherapy and Doughnut Day. James also had to get a blood test. That awful methotrexine has really bollixed up his system—his readings were all awful and his iron levels worse than ever, so that he has to have iron infusions scheduled.

Thursdays I inventoried all my gift boxes and prepped for gift wrapping.

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» Sunday, December 03, 2023
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The week had a good start—since I'd done all my Monday chores on Sunday, we took the time on Monday to go up to Books-a-Million—bought a couple of remainder books—and while we didn't have lunch at Uncle Maddio's as usual, we did stop at BJ's to get maple syrup and other goodies.

This week I started putting up Christmas decorations, but because Advent is so late this year, I got complacent—not to mention that this year I am still not feeling much "Christmas spirit." I got so dispirited last year, and really haven't come out of it, although I managed to keep James out of the hospital this year (so far). The falls and the hell he went through during those ertapenem shots ground me down to nothing.

We couldn't even go to physiotherapy this week because I got sick just before it was time for us to leave. When I wasn't in the bathroom, I was asleep—until we had to go to Kaiser for James to get a blood test. Ended up stopping at Publix on the way home.

Recovered a bit on Thursday, enough to do some shopping and get James his biweekly Procrit shot, and we stopped by Big Lots, where I was lucky enough to find a set of blue lights for the Christmas tree on the front porch, since the previous set had blown out when I put up the lights earlier this week. Unfortunately, Thursday night was a flat nightmare.

Tuesday James ran out of Ambien, which he needs to sleep. So when we were at Kaiser on Wednesday, we picked up a new supply (Kaiser will only give him a thirty-day supply at the time; we are required to pick it up in person) and I had to finish filling in the Ambien for the rest of the week in his day-and-night pill dispenser.

Apparently I filled it once...and then filled it a second time. So James had two on Thursday night and I didn't realize. So I thought he was having some sort of stroke after I had tended the raw spot on his leg and I couldn't get him to sit up. I kept telling him to wake up and he kept insisting he was awake and then closing his eyes and going back to sleep. At one point he was lying crosswise on the bed with a pillow under his head and I was in the bathroom in tears.

That brief sleep seemed to rouse him a little, and I was able to finally get him straight in the bed and his CPAP mask on and send him properly off to bed. This is when I was finally able to go into the bathroom and check the pill compartments and take out that extra Ambien from the other five compartments. Sigh. I spent most of the night checking James' breathing. On Friday morning, he didn't remember most of what happened—I told him he was asleep!

Friday we went to the Apple Annie craft show as usual. Saw many nice things, but so much of the show is jewelry now, or beautiful woodwork that I don't grudge the artists the money, but we can't afford. Instead we bought stuff from the bake sale, which should last us as desserts for several weeks!

When we finally went into the sanctuary before leaving as I always do, to pray, I burst into tears instead and just knelt there and cried and cried.

On Saturday morning, James had his hair cut, and then we spent the next five hours at Urgent Care getting a problem checked out. Since Monday, probably another side effect of James' new meds—I sent Dr. Salazar a note telling him I was not giving him the third dose on Sunday—James has had a raw wound on the inside of his right thigh. Monday it was a little spot; by Wednesday it was a big raw sore. I dipped into the expertise given to me by Greta at the wound clinic (who doesn't appear to be there anymore) and have been treating it with Xeroform sheets and surgical bandages. It was bleeding on Friday night and looked ugly, like raw hamburger, and looked just the same when the nurse and later the doctor examined it at Urgent Care. (BTW, Urgent Care was slammed. I'm surprised it only took us five hours.)

They gave us more of the prescription antibiotic mupriocin ointment which Greta had once prescribed, and told me to just keep doing what I was doing with it (putting a barrier between the wound and other flesh so there would be no friction)! Also that we were smart in deciding not to take any more of the medication, since all these side effects had boiled up the moment he'd begun to take it.

(They told me not to put anymore Xeroform on it, but I did anyway, as an extra barrier. By Sunday it had quit bleeding copiously and was just leaving small patches of blood when I cleaned it three times a day. The mupriocin is truly a wonder drug.)

I suffered the same fate as James, and never received a reminder from the county to renew my car registration. I got the car inspected last month and just got online Sunday morning to renew it. Still find it funny neither of us got a reminder, but Alice, who lives up the street, got hers fine.

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» Sunday, November 26, 2023
The Thanksgiving That Really Wasn't
We ended up not going to Thanksgiving dinner after all.

James began taking a new drug on Sunday (once a week) to help with his arthritis. Immediately he developed an odd line of rash-looking bumps in a straight line on his right hip. By Thursday he had a sore throat and stuffy nose so bad (the sore throat was so bad it didn't go away when he drank and he had some sores in his mouth) we were fearful of spreading something. Luckily we had bought "emergency turkey" at Publix last week, we had potatoes, and had carrots. So we stayed home and watched the Macy's parade and the National Dog Show. Only later in the day did he feel better, and we realized it wasn't really a cold coming on.

Friday he was better. We went to Town Center, where James bought me my Christmas gift (the Law & Order Monopoly game) at Hobbytown, and we went to Target to look for a new microwave. Well, we found a microwave/convection oven again! A nice woman helped me get it into the cart, and we bought it and left, only to discover someone had put a plain old microwave in the pile with the microwave/convection ovens. So we had to get them to help us bring it back in and do a return—and then go back and get another one (found another nice person, a guy this time, to help me get it into the cart)—all the time hungry and thirsty.

Stopped briefly at Barnes & Noble to see if they had any Black Friday specials—they didn't, which was annoying since they told me on Wednesday they wouldn't tell me about the Friday specials, and which I thought was damn rude—and then picked up supper at Cracker Barrel (chicken and dumplings, of course). Alas, this batch was really salty.

Happily, after missing "First Thanksgiving," there was still "Second Thanksgiving" to look forward to at Alice and Ken's house. Turkey and veg and fun and friendship. All good. Juanita gave us the turkey carcass, but we decided last year it was just too much work anymore making the soup and there was no room in the freezer for the containers. So instead we stripped the carcass and got another two meals for us. Juanita makes great turkeys, so this was a fine gift. Add gravy and it's all good.

Besides the side effects James seems to be having from the new meds, our Hot Shot broke. We use this to make tea, hot chocolate, and instant soup, and the loss is keen. We went to order a new one, and Sunbeam doesn't make them anymore. All we can find is coffee makers. So I brought my old one from downstairs to use that.

I can't imagine why they quit making useful things.

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» Sunday, November 19, 2023
Conjuring the Week
It was an ultra-typical week. Thank the Lord nothing bad happened. In fact, I finally "ate a frog." Our garage door openers——we have six, but one is missing——are from 2006, when we bought the house. Two quit working, we figured, because the batteries were dead. The holder on my keyring one finally broke, so I swapped it out for the opener that was inside next to the garage. Now the working two, one each on our keyrings, were getting cranky. I kept saying "We need to bring them to Batteries Plus."

Naw, didn't need to do that at all. Looked 'em up, they take a standard 2032 round battery that we keep in stock because our scale and James' diabetes meter use the same battery. Pried them all open, put in new batteries. Now they all work. Win.

This was the silly part: I said at the beginning of the month that, "Hey, Conjuration should be coming up soon. Let me see if a schedule is up." It wasn't. Then I totally forgot about it, and only remembered when I saw a friend's Facebook post.

We couldn't do anything about it on Friday anyway, since James had a doctor's appointment, and then it turned out the doctor put in a new scrip for his arthritis that we had to go pick up. The convention was in a new location (Gwinnett County) rather than down near the airport, which suited us fine, but by the time we got there in rush hour traffic after going to Kaiser, we'd have to turn around and come home.

So Saturday morning we got up and went.

The new hotel is very nice. The old was a nice venue, but the food there was insanely expensive (a plate of spaghetti with one meatball for nearly $30???; even the sports bar was pricy, and you had to pay for parking), so we always had to bring our own sandwiches (although this helped keep the sodium down for James). It mainly catered to business travelers on expense accounts. The Sonesta had free parking, and during the weekend they put out a "floating" meal stand that had breakfast things in the morning and then lunch things until 3 p.m. I had chicken soup both times and it was flavorful, not overly salted, and had lots of noodles in it (and it wasn't Progresso; yeah, I'm looking at you, Panera Bread!). James had sliders both days. There was also a restaurant where, while the main meals were expensive, you could get a big burger for a reasonable $15, and they had these Philly cheese steak egg rolls that were to die for. We had them Saturday night, and should have ordered two each instead of one. Oh, and did I mention it was pet friendly? We met some really sweet dogs during the weekend.

Anyway, enough with that. Conjuration basically has a Harry Potter theme with the names filed off; one of the co-founders told a very funny story about how, after they started the call, they got a very polite call from the Warner Brothers people about "your little Harry Potter convention" and he was quick to say that it was a convention about magical media of all kinds, and they had to do a couple of tweaks, but WB was cool about it.

Saturday I did the following panels (lots of writing panels, as usual). James went to a few of his own things.
  • "Fandom Funerals and Repass" (half) (fictional deaths that got to you...yes, Old Yeller was mentioned!...mostly they mentioned fandoms we're not into, like Game of Thrones)
  • "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Screenwriters" (about the movie and all the D&D "Easter eggs" and how fun it was)
  • "Editing Feng Shui" (this panel had some positive qualities about getting rid of verbal clutter but I don't think the presenter was as prepared as she could have been)
  • "Positive Mental Health Methods for the Creative" (basically coping with stress from real life)
  • "Dragons, Wizards & Pens" (a fun panel: given a subject prompt, four writers had to come up with the best opening line for a book--we went to this last year and it's always fun)
  • "People Who Live in Your Book" (designing characters for your stories)
Sunday, alas, we didn't get up early enough for me to get to the Harry Dresden panel, but:
  • "Sort This--Identifying and Sorting Plots and Characters" (using "sorting methods" like the Hogwarts houses to give your characters personality--also things like horoscopes, Myers-Briggs; I even suggested Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies)
  • "Learning from Luna Lovegood" (panel about neurodivergencies, mostly autism, which I found interesting because I'm thinking about introducing an autistic character in my fanfic)
  • "Fanfiction 101" (not that I needed the 101, but there were several people here who really wanted to know the basics, like "where do you find it?" and "is this legal"?)
  • "It Ain't Easy Being Geek" (how nerds/geeks are perceived by media—Big Bang Theory anyone?—and acceptance)
  • "To Tell the Truth--Or Not" (one of our favorites from last year, too: four writers get together and, given a prompt ["the most way out thing you've ever seen at a convention," for example], they have to tell a story and the audience guesses if it's true or not—heard some great true stories this way!)

Talked with Alice for a while afterwards. James pre-paid for next year. Sadly, the restaurant was closed today and we couldn't get more egg rolls for supper.

Dear folks: next year, please keep the singalongs way away from the panel rooms, please? On some panels we could barely hear the panelists speaking.

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» Sunday, November 12, 2023
Doctor, Doctor, Doctor...Ouch, and Therapy (Plus Lots More)
You've heard of 1001 Nights? This week was 1/3 dozen doctors. (And, to be honest, 1/4 dozen doctors, since physiotherapy doesn't really count.)

The tally:
Last visit with vascular doctor.
Pre-sleep study consultation (in Decatur, no less).
Also, physiotherapy.

So doing housework on Monday was actually sort of relaxing. 😉

So James' fistula appears to be healed properly. Not sure if it's ripe yet. The doctor keeps asking "When are you going on dialysis?" Well, not yet, I hope. It's not like anyone's told us. James has no symptoms: he's still urinating fine, the urine looks normal, he has no loss of appetite, edema, nausea or vomiting, or shortness of breath. (Dr. Kongara keeps asking.) On the steroids Dr. Salazar gave him, he lost five pounds.

Since we were at Glenlake anyway, we went to Merchant's Walk and checked out the new Barnes & Noble in the shopping center where the Borders used to be (the B&N is in the old Bed, Bath & Beyond). The new store is...quite trendy. The bookshelves curve and "float" around the store so you are led in a certain path around it; James didn't like it, said they didn't have enough stock. I thought it was kinda cool (but, yeah, all the bookstores can use more books!) In fact, I found a cool book about Josephine Baker's spy work there, and bought James Travis Baldree's new book. I also had to get Victoria Finlay's new book, Fabric. "But, Linda, you hate to sew." Why yes, I do, and I can't tell one type of cotton fabric from another (except flannel). But I love Victoria Finlay's writing, and this book is no different. It starts out with barkcloth and tapa, both made out of the inner bark of palm trees, and she travels to New Guinea and other South Pacific islands to meet the few Polynesian craftswomen who still practice doing the fabric the old way. She also uses the book as a way of assuaging her grief after the deaths of her parents.

We also went to Trader Joe's, where most of the Christmas stuff is out. Where are the Candy-Cane Joe-Joe's? All they had were the chocolate-covered ones.

Wednesday was Doughnut Day Physiotherapy. It was a warm day, like the previous one, and James was still in minimal pain due to the steroid treatment, so we took the rollator instead of the chair so we could use Butch and take him by the cheap ($15) inspection place. Everything was okay, and then we went on to what was a very extensive workout, and yes, the doughnut. On the way home we stopped at Publix to do the weekly shopping.

Thursday we took a box to Goodwill, dropped off our good duds at the cleaners after their appearance at Neil and Emilee's wedding, then James got his feet inspected and a good pedicure at Kaiser before we went on to Lidl and two different Publix stores, since the Scufflegrit store on Wednesday had none of my favorite yogurt flavor (chocolate hazelnut). (They had plenty of that nasty coconut almond, though!)

Friday was our 33rd wedding anniversary. (Rodney pointed out that in March we would now be an LP!) We celebrated by having to get up at a hellacious seven a.m. to drive out to Decatur, as James has not had his C-PAP vetted in a long time. The only way to get this done is have a new sleep study, and when you're on Medicare you have to have a neurological exam before the sleep study. So this was the exam part, at 10:30. At the Emory sleep center. Off North Decatur Road. (What I call the "old neighborhood" since if you drive a few miles and a couple of turns and you're at Clifton Road and CDC headquarters.)

It was cloudy and rained most of the afternoon, which made it a PITA with the power chair, but we managed to have a good time. We found the building in one shot (thanks, Waze) and the exam itself was anticlimactic (James' opinion was "I had to drive all the way out here for that?"). I'd seen there was a Whole Foods across the street, and the last time we ate at the Whole Foods in Kennesaw they had a killer salad bar, so I said, "Let's go there for lunch."

Mistake. It is (or at least at that Whole Foods) no longer killer (no more of the delicious cucumber/tomato salad!) and there wasn't a darn thing on the hot bar I could eat without risk of (1) eating something spicy or (2) eating something that didn't give me massive indigestion even with a Protonix. They had clam chowder, but it was watery. I just had a salad while James found meatloaf, tikka masala, lasagna, and something else. He brought half of it home and the darn lunch cost $34! We could have gone to Tin Drum for less and gotten better food.

We did get some nice chocolate tarts for an anniversary dessert and two chocolate bars for other desserts.

There was a Half-Price Books across the street with a JoAnn next to it, so we took refuge out of the rain there. I got lucky in HPB and found another John Douglas book; also a hardback of Stephen King's On Writing and a "Bottom Line" book for $2 (we already had it, but I wanted to make sure!). James got some cool Lego Christmas sets (polar bears, a snowman, and a train) in JoAnn. I just bought a yard of good case we get another bird. I cut off part of Snowy's cage cover for a shroud.

Anyway, James has become addicted to his new air fryer. We went from a 2.5 quart to a 5.something quart, so he's been making everything in it: warming up burritos in it if he has frozen burritos, making egg/cheese/ham/etc. egg dishes, cooking drumsticks and thighs, etc. So instead of putting it back on the dog's crate after using it, he's just left it smack in the middle of the kitchen counter, pre-empting prep space. We have very little kitchen counter as it is.

So Saturday I did a little cleaning in the kitchen pantry closet and cleared a space wide enough to put the two clear containers we have for English muffins and for Toufeyan wraps. If I then moved the tea machine next to the toaster, there was enough room to put the balsamic vinegars, the air fryer, the Magic Bullet, and the two-level lazy susan against the back wall next to the refrigerator. This means the entire counter got clean, and also the other counter. It was a long afternoon's work, but it worked out.

Finally on Sunday we went to Costco, as we were running out of probiotics. We've been taking them for three months and it has really helped my lower GI problems, and I think they've made James more "regular." Bought toilet tissue, almond flour crackers, and a few other things, too, then dumped all the stuff at home and went to IKEA.

I remember when you could get a decent lunch at IKEA; now all they have are the meatballs, veg meatballs, or chicken strips. I had a salad that there was no dressing for, and a kids' meatball dish (four with mashed potatoes). I was famished when I got home. Found a cool light to plug into my desktop that will throw light on anything I'm copying from, a clip-on light for my side of the bed, and a cheap squirt bottle to use when I iron creases in anything. Also got some ginger cookies. IKEA's new self-checkout screens are terrible. They're not sensitive to the touch at all and take you forever.

I'll tell you, though, that I'm so glad we moved into the current house when we did. IKEA has gone back to their "roots," which means plastic bucket chairs, ugly square sofas, lots of blond and white woods, and other junky 60s-looking crap. I'm glad we got all the Leksvik furniture when we did, as there's very little I would buy there now, except for the Billy bookcases. It didn't help that they are remodeling the entire bed/bedding department.

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