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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» Thursday, January 13, 2022
Just Another Hospital Tale

We arrived home from the hospital yesterday and have spent the day trying to be normal.

Going home yesterday was a total surprise; we had been told at the earliest it would be Thursday but more probably Friday. But the doctor looked at his foot yesterday morning and said it was healing well enough that, if James rested, he could go home. And I won't even have to tend the wound: it won't be unwrapped again until he sees the podiatrist next week.

He did have to have a second surgery on Tuesday. When they amputated his toe, they left the wound open so that it could drain. On Tuesday they took him down and closed up the wound. He came upstairs slightly more groggy than he had the first time, and for some reason they intubated him this time, so he had a sore throat which we plied with endless hot teas until I left for the evening.

Monday I also brought steak for a hot meal, but had to wait over an hour and a half to eat. At Northside Hospital they had a snack room where you could use the microwave and the refrigerator. At Piedmont and Wellstar they had microwaves you could use near the cafeteria. Here they have a "snack room," but only staff can access it, so I had to wait for a nurse to be available to microwave my meal. I feel this is terribly demeaning for the nurse! She's a professional, not my servant to warm up my food. But the cafeteria at St. Joseph's is only open breakfast and lunch and when they are closed, if there are any microwaves they are locked up in the cafeteria. I guess they expect you to not stay long, go out to eat, or get UberEats to bring  you something. Sorry, can't afford that. Also, the cafeteria food is awful. They put pepper in the meats, and their salad is packaged in plastic and dessicated. Ugh.

So on Tuesday I did something a lot better, I went to Hibachi Grill and got food by the pound: barbecue chicken and pepper steak, a few french fries, seafood salad, a big container of fresh (not dessicated) cucumbers and tomatoes, and two little desserts. I brought James half an orange worth of slices and some pineapple, and all this only cost me $2 more than the lousy chicken salad sandwich I had the first day. The salad I had with the salami sandwich I had made.

Did the same thing on Wednesday, but didn't need to, because they sent us home by suppertime. Good thing I did, though, because by the time we got home (after having to stop at Kaiser Cumberland for prescriptions) I had a killer headache that only went away after I slept last night.

Surprisingly James has not had a problem with his foot; it doesn't even hurt.

Today we have just laid low and relaxed. WEtv had four episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent on today, so we watched those.

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» Saturday, January 08, 2022
Happy Blue Year
Remember in my December 18 entry I mentioned this?

Friday morning we had to get up really early for an 8:40 appointment, but it was worth it: Dr. Friedman says the ulcer on James' left "ring toe" is finally healing as I thought it was (for once I was feeling good about a doctor's appointment!).

Yeah, well...

We'd juggled a whole bunch of treatments, but what was working best on closing up the hole in his toe was an application of medihoney on the wound and then covering it with a pad of Mepelix AG (antibiotic foam with silver in it, which retards infection). Well, I ran out of the Mepilex on New Year's Eve. Instead, until I could find some (you have to order it online and it's terrifically expensive), I was using the other silver-infused foam that we had tried earlier that didn't work as well. On January 3, there was a tiny pinpoint hole left to close up. I was getting quite impatient for it to do so.

The night of January 4, the whole thing had opened back up to the way it was back in October/November. Sorry for the language...but what the fuck??? So I drowned it in Betadyne, then the medihoney, then used the foam.

Here's where it gets yucky: Twelfth Night evening, when I went to treat it, it was full of pus. Well...crap.

It was still pus-y at noon the next day, so James logged off work and we went to Urgent Care. They let me wait with him, but not go in the back with him, and he finally got back there about three and about 4:30 (of course at rush hour) they said they were going to have to keep him overnight. So I had to go home for the C-PAP machine and socks and underwear and other supplies (and more oranges and Kind bars because they keep you up all night and you're starving instead of sleeping) and bring it back, and I couldn't even say goodnight.

So bye-bye Wednesday and then comes Thursday. Yep, he has to go to the hospital because this is bad, bad, bad. They decide this in the morning, but the hospital doesn't have a room, so he's waiting, and then he calls (again at rush hour and this time it's raining) that they have a room at the hospital, but they can't get an ambulance to get him there, so it's me and Butch on the road again because apparently though I can't go in the back, I can drive him.

So we get him to St. Joseph's, and they told us to bring him to Emergency and say he was a direct transfer for room 460. Emergency says they don't take him, Admittance takes him. So I drive the 30-40 yards to the Main Entrance, but Admittance is closed. Back to Emergency! They were good-natured about it and I actually got to go in. In fact, I almost got to take him upstairs, except the emergency room nurse did it instead. And I can stay, if I want, but it's only that stupid uncomfortable folding chair. So Thursday night I go home to the fids.

Friday they had a surgical procedure scheduled on the toe. Basically they would initially debride the wound and then assess it and decide how to treat it. Unfortunately, he was number four in line, so they fed him an insipid breakfast and then he was NPO. They came to get him about 2:55 and he was back about 6:30. Alas, the damage was too bad; they ended up amputating the toe, which we had been advised might happen. Plus tonight he wasn't allowed to get up, so this made it really difficult when he needed to pee. So I decided to stay. I always have a spare heart pill with me, just in case, and the rest of the pills (thyroid, cholesterol, and allergy) could wait until tomorrow, and I'd slept on the folding reclining chair before. Aubrey Spivey wonderfully gave up an hour of her evening to come over, feed and walk Tucker, and put both him and Snowy to bed, and shut off the TV and the lights.

Well, apparently I can't sleep on the folding recliner anymore. With the icky hospital pillow (I had brought James' real pillow to Urgent Care) and a blanket, in one of James' T-shirts and one of his sleep shorts, I was freezing, uncomfortable, and the one time I did fall asleep I was woken five minutes later by someone coming in to take his vital signs. At two o'clock, annoyed at my weakness and blubbering about it, I woke James up and got dressed and went home. The stupid parking lot payment computer would not take my credit card and kept chirping "use another card!" What, you think I'm Rockefeller or something? I only have one credit card, and I don't remember the PIN for my debit card because I almost never use it. Why don't you have tap to pay, you retro assholes? Finally I had to press the assistance button and they just let me out. Get your card reader fixed!

Drove home half dazed, considered just bunking on the futon, but felt icky and sticky with used underwear on, so I did the full wazoo and even washed my hair, which felt like an oil slick after three days of not washing. By this time it was 4 a.m. and I fell gratefully into bed. James wasn't expecting me early, so I hoped to sleep until at least nine.

Thank you, Mother Nature! Chivvied me out of bed at 7:30 and then when I tried to go back to bed, gave me bellyaches for the next hour, so I finally gave up and got up. Snowy stared at me is dislocation for a few minutes until I put the television on, Tucker was walked, fed, and watered, and I finally got breakfast. I also took down all the outdoor decorations, since it's supposed to pour tomorrow, and put up the winter wreath and flag, and pulled all the candles from the windows. Then I had to tackle the problem of food. St. Joseph's cafeteria is only open in the mornings and early afternoon, not at night, and not on weekends, and, as I experienced last time, fairly limited. Your alternative is "the coffee shop," which sells Starbuck's overpriced junk and Newk's sandwiches. Even Piedmont wasn't this bad. I paid $8 and tax for a chicken salad sandwich that I only ate half of; James was so hungry Friday after surgery he finished the dinner the hospital gave him, the turkey sandwich they gave me, and the rest of the chicken salad in the sandwich.

So before I left the house, I made myself another salami sandwich (before I went to the hospital on Friday I went to Lidl and bought "dinner rolls"—"buns" in Rhode Island speak—and salami, and also found Beyond Beef in the "Too Good To Waste" bin for $1.50 each and grabbed four) and grilled a steak and cut it up. Half I brought to the hospital with me along with a container of milk and a banana. James' nurse for the day, Kevin, said there was a microwave I could use. So I had a hot dinner (well, the meat was hot) which I could share a few pieces with James, and he got to attend his monthly club meeting via Zoom while I typed this screed.

I stopped for gas on the way and, yes, dudes, my credit card is working.

Life truly is what happens when you're making other plans.

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» Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Welcome to Christmastide
Had Christmas gifts early Christmas morning—James bought me season two of A Discovery of Witches, Joe Straczynski's book about writing, a book of Bryant and May short stories, a book about geology of the Old West, and a nifty butter knife that will make it easier for me to have a treat occasionally. I bought him books, including three about the space program, a Larry Correia book, and a "Politically Incorrect" book for his collection. Tucker got a tug toy and some Paul Newman dog biscuits, and Snowy got a big sprig of millet.

Christmas afternoon was spent at the Lucyshyns home, having a killer dinner and lots of conversation. We were happy that one of our friends had been sprung from the hospital to be able to come to dinner; she had been in the hospital for a couple of weeks. We also had another friend who was looking rather sad at Thanksgiving but who was looking much improved at Christmas. He was using a cane instead of a walker and seemed much more alert and happy.

James had to work Sunday, of course, so we headed home in time to watch the Christmas episode of Remember WENN and prep for the next day.

Christmastide or no, Sunday is still my chore day since James is working all day. He had a bit of a bumpy day as he woke up with the runs—and James so rarely gets that; he usually has to take Metamucil—that it was a little concerning. We got some Pepto Bismol in him, he kept up drinking, and we had a bland lunch of rice and plain broth, and by the time suppertime came he was doing a lot better and he'd only lost about ninety minutes of work.

Monday it was my turn; no idea what caused it, but it least cleared up in time to go to Alice's birthday dinner at Okinawa. This was very small, only six people besides ourselves, but dinner and conversation were great.

Tuesday morning I did what I'd planned to do Monday, make a trip from dollar/discount store to dollar/discount store in search of after-Christmas deals. I went to Dollar Tree, Publix, CVS, Walgreens, and Big Lots before my bladder betrayed me. I didn't find tinsel, but I did get some cheap decor for out front of the development for next year, two rolls of wrapping paper, and a string of lights with 2.5 wattage bulbs to serve as spares (since the library tree has been almost completely dark for a week now; it was fully lit when I put it up the first week of December! first the middle went out, then the top). I didn't see any bows, either.

Wednesday was laundry day, and I also did another load of dishes, loaded up the old books to go to the library book sale, and reviewed books on my blog and prepped my dozen best books of 2021 blog entry.

All this is being done in miserable weather: it's been high 60s or 70s almost every single day this week. It's revolting. And then with rain coming in on Wednesday, it started smelling like a swamp outside, all moist and heavy like a terrarium.

2021 is counting down thing you know it will be the new year.

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» Friday, December 24, 2021
"And So This is Christmas . . . Eve"

After a Thursday of shopping, we were all prepared to have some fun on Christmas Eve. So we woke this morning, had breakfast, and I took Tucker on his long walk. We headed out early for lunch, intending to stop at Popshelf first for burritos, but traffic was so bad on the East-West Connector (since Walmart was between us and the restaurant) that we just went directly to O'Charley's and waited for everyone else. Juanita couldn't make it today after all, Mel and Phyllis were still being careful, and John never showed up, so it was just us and the Spiveys (including Aubrey). We talked about Marvel films (but not Hawkeye which they haven't seen) and other stuff, and Alice took a photo of us for Facebook.

On the way home we hit Popshelf. It was very crowded at that end of the shopping center because Popshelf is two doors down from Target, so I had James drop me off at the end of the sidewalk and he parked behind Office Max. Well, no sooner had I hit the sidewalk than I heard the weird honk/coo noise that the sandhill cranes make when they fly over—saw two small flocks of them the other day—and looked directly up to see them right overhead, so close that I could make out their long necks with the naked eye! I got two nice photos of them on my phone!

Bought twenty-five burritos and then brought them and James' leftovers home. We were feeling kind of bad not seeing Mel and Phyllis since we still had their Hanukkah gifts, so after I put the food up I grabbed the gifts and we drove back out to their house. We sat in the driveway and chatted with them for a while, and then drove home, stopping at Bruster's for ice cream on the way. James had peppermint stick Oreo, which was a lot more pepperminty than Oreo, and for once they had coffee ice cream (although theirs is nowhere as good as Baskin-Robbins, which is nowhere as good as Newport Creamery's, but them's the breaks) for me. I thought of Billy Joe in the Lassie episode "Yochim's Christmas": "This sure am the life."

Compared to last year, yes, it is.

We got home and settled in to watch Christmas things. First played The Gathering, with Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton. Forget Hallmark Christmas movies, this is a Christmas film for adults. Then The House Without a Christmas Tree while we ate a light supper (the soup we brought home from Chattanooga). Caught the weather report, watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, then went on to The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which is absolutely my favorite Christmas film ever (you can take It's a Wonderful Life, thanks).

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» Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Return to McKay's
James' day-off Wednesday was fast approaching, and I knew what I wanted to do with it: go up to McKay's Used Books in Chattanooga. We hadn't been up there since January of 2020, and there was a pile of eight Xerox paper boxes and a stray stack of books in the library waiting to be traded in. On Monday I went downstairs and separated out the books: James' discards in four boxes, my discards in four boxes, and DVDs and CDs in a ninth box, and tied up each of the boxes with strings so the lids wouldn't blow off in the bed of the truck. I also cooked pork chops and read and listened to Christmas music.

Since we were going to be out Wednesday, I did laundry on Tuesday and also put the gifts away from Sunday's gift exchange. We crossed our fingers Tuesday night and went to bed.

Amazingly, Wednesday morning was chilly, but clear. I didn't have any stomach problems, and James wasn't having an allergy attack. I figured, hey, get up at eight and we would be on the road by 9:30. Alas, more like 10:30, so we arrived at McKay's right before lunchtime again. On the other hand, it was a wonderful day to come; either there aren't a lot of people on Wednesdays or not a lot of people shopping there before Christmas. We got right in with our books (I put the DVDs and CDs in James' bins because he had the room) and started to wander around. I wasn't looking for much, because right now I have so many books. I did look for any "Dear Canada" books (I've found them in McKay's before), and hunted around the television and movie books and found the old CSI Companion and also a book I bought as a gift two years ago and dearly wanted to keep, but couldn't because I didn't have an alternate gift. I got a nearly new copy for only $1.50. What I did go look for were some of the CSI novelizations, and found about a dozen, but only bought five (I also got one at 2nd and Charles, so now I have a half-dozen). Also found The Pictorial History of Radio. Alas, didn't find anything I was looking for in DVDs, like Emerald City. James got a nice bio of Pappy Boyington and a John Ringo book and a couple of other things. I looked at the biographies and some of the travel books, but only skimmed history.

By 1:30 we were ravenous, so we put our empty boxes, wedged together so they had no open surfaces, up against the tailgate of the truck, and went to City Cafe Diner as usual. I had the open face hot turkey sandwich and James had a chicken pot pie and ordered a side of tater tots that was in a huge plate. He forgot how big the portions were last time. I brought half my turkey home and he half the pot pie and half of the tots, and we ordered a wedge of chocolate overload cake and couldn't eat it we were so full!

Of course we had their wonderful chicken "noodle" soup which has broken up spaghetti in it instead of something like egg noodles, and we ordered some to take home.

Before we left for home, we filled up with gas, but alas, by that time it was 3:30 and we didn't want to get stuck in Wednesday rush hour traffic in Atlanta, so we once again put off the trip to their Barnes & Noble at the Hamilton Mall. Their B&N is so much better than ours, or was the last time we were there; of course now that the new owner has taken over, it may not be.

Alas, we ran out of luck on the way home: no matter how tightly the boxes were wedged together, they still kept flying up and we lost three of them out of the truck bed on the way home, and to keep the rest intact we had to weigh down three of them with the books we bought and take the other three into the cab with me. As we were riding home with lots of leftover and uneaten cake, and I had the extra soup we ordered between my legs, it was kind of uncomfortable. We had to stop a couple of times to rearrange the boxes and once for James to use the bathroom.

But finally we were home and changed and munching on a light dinner while finally watching the end of Hawkeye. Wow! What a finale! They killed the Rockefeller Center tree dead and had a killer fight on the ice; in the meantime, Kate Bishop went up against Kingpin. Wow, does he wear armor or what: Kate shot him directly with an arrow and he just pulled it out. And then there was the whole cliffhanger at the end...they say this is only a "season finale," so will there be another one? And I do want a series about Echo/Maya Lopez, which is apparently in the works.

Except for the boxes, it was a wonderful day!

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» Sunday, December 19, 2021
Christmas Party

James had twenty hours of vacation time left going into December. At first he was going to take the Sunday before and the Sunday after Christmas, but someone had already claimed Boxing Day. Tim also depends on James on Sundays because for the first three hours of the day he's the only one on phone duty. So he asked for either the 22nd or the 29th (both Wednesdays) and then five hours each Sunday afternoon on the 12th and the 19th.

We had already used the afternoon of the 12th for my birthday dinner; Sunday we had our annual Christmas get-together at the Lawsons' house. We managed to remember all the gifts except for David's, but both forgot our phones; I didn't care for any other reason, but if Butch broke down we had no way of calling for help! Luckily nothing happened. We had pizza as the main course (Jerry even ordered me a bacon-black olive-and-no-cheese pizza) and a group played games, but I sat on the back porch with Alice and Juanita chatting. Then we had the mad gift exchange with wrapping paper flying. And then it was time to go home, which was rather a relief. They always have a nice wood fire at the party, and my allergy just revs up when I have to breath woodsmoke anymore. I was finding it kinda hard to breathe by the time we left, so the cold air was very welcome, and we got to look at Christmas lights on the way back.

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» Saturday, December 18, 2021
Downtime, Hawkeye, and a Trip to Canton
Well, it was an up-and-down sort of week, and I do mean down...

Monday at least was good: the blue tree I ordered from Home Depot arrived, so I finally got to put up the airplane tree. I thought from the photos on the website it would be a light blue, but it's a royal blue, but it still does look nice with the ornaments on and the white lights. There aren't a lot of blue planes in the collection, so there's a nice contrast.

At 11:30 the problems began. We tried to get the "Dot" in our room to time our fifteen minutes of reading as usual, and it said it couldn't collect to the internet. So I just timed it on my Fitbit and then we went to bed. It's not responded like this before and always been okay in the morning. But when James got up to work the internet was still down, and it was down all day. We had to call Earthlink and we emphasized James was handicapped and needed the connection to work. But they couldn't send anyone out until Wednesday morning. James tried to connect to the internet through the hotspot in his phone, but the VPN he has to use to get to the main call center wouldn't stay connected to it. So he lost a whole day's work and two hours on Wednesday.

So on Tuesday afternoon we piggybacked off the hotspot and watched the first three parts of Hawkeye, which looked like so much fun in previews. Each of the episodes took an hour to watch because the signal kept dropping out, but the story is such fun and interesting that we made our way through it.

The repairman showed up about 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Guess what: not Earthlink's fault again: the problem was at the box out on the street. Someone repaired another line in the box and broke one of the two wires to our connection. Dammit, I am so tired of that happening; I hate when AT&T fixes anything anymore.

This way we could watch two more episodes of Hawkeye, and guess who shows up at the end of part five: Kingpin. (Played by Vincent D'Onofrio as in the Daredevil series.) I thought I recognized that chuckle at the beginning of part three!

But now we have to wait like everyone else for the end next week!

Thursday was back to normal in that we had grocery shopping, but James had agreed to work in the morning to make up for Tuesday. So I went to the Smyrna Publix to do it myself, and then to the Smyrna Kroger, which is useless. They had no skim milk. WTF? In the afternoon we had to go to James' eye exam. He has to have his eyes examined every year to make sure the Plaquinel he takes for his arthritis isn't damaging his eyes. But, aside for cataracts just starting, he's doing okay. No sign of macular degeneration or glaucoma.

Friday morning we had to get up really early for an 8:40 appointment, but it was worth it: Dr. Friedman says the ulcer on James' left "ring toe" is finally healing as I thought it was (for once I was feeling good about a doctor's appointment!). I think it should be healed by the New Year, or maybe earlier. (Every bit of the money James earned on Thursday morning went for doctors' appointments...)

Since we had to be up early anyway, after the appointment and a blood test and picking up a prescription, we hit the freeway and went up to Canton for the day. First stop was Books-a-Million, where they had games on sale, so we picked up four. And then we had pizza at Uncle Maddio's. The owner is still working the whole place alone!

There was a lot of traffic home, but all-in-all it was a great day.

Saturday we went to Lidl and then stopped at Hallmark where I needed to pick up a gift with a coupon. They had some items BOGO so I have a start on next year's shopping. When we came home I baked two batches of wine biscuits and I vacuumed.

And now there's only a week to go until Christmas...time sure flies at the end of the year!

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» Saturday, December 11, 2021
A Happy Birthday Saturday and Other December Tales
I was ready to decorate the Christmas tree on St. Nicholas Day, but the weather didn't cooperate: it was still too warm. If I'd done it on Monday, the tinsel would have stuck to my hands. So instead I changed the bed, cleaned out James' side table that would be next to the tree, cleaned out the corner, and brought the tree up and assembled it—as well as replacing about seven more bulbs (after I replaced every bulb at the bottom of that tree last year!) and fluffed it, all ready for the morrow.

The tree was up on Tuesday, while I worked my way through Pearl Harbor specials on the History Channel (yeah, I know...actual history specials on the History Channel!) for the 80th anniversary. When they quit, I put on my own: The Waltons' episode "Day of Infamy."

Wednesday was my usual laundry day. We were also celebrating Snowy's eighth adoption day. And James was happy because Forged in Fire was back Wednesday night.

Thursday was a busy day: we did the three-stop shopping trip in Lidl, Publix, and Kroger and then came home for lunch. This particular Thursday we actually went out again, as we wanted to drop off a bag of childrens' items at Vickery Hardware since they were collecting for Toys for Tots. James needed gasoline, so we went to Costco next, and then ended up at Barnes & Noble. This time I committed book: the newest Harry Dresden in paperback, a murder mystery taking place in Italy featuring an Irish/Italian former NYPD detective, something called The Love Hypothesis about romance among academics, and also an issue of "American Road" magazine devoted to lighthouses.

Ended the evening with Star Trek: Discovery and a very surprising ending for Tilly! (She's one of my favorite characters, so this was particularly heart-rending. I'm also getting particularly fond of Adira and Grey.)

On Friday we slept until ten, then had lunch at West Cobb Diner with Alice, Ken, and Aubrey Spivey. Turkey dinner of course, my favorite dish there. On the way home picked up Christmas napkins at Party City and then burritos at Popshelf.

On Saturday rain was predicted, so I drove James up to the sports bar where they were holding his club's Christmas party, then went across the street to gas up my own car at Costco. From the Costco parking lot you could see the black clouds of the storm marching south, so I figured I'd better go somewhere and take cover, so I chose 2nd and Charles, the used bookstore. The skies opened while I was there, but I lucked out, too: among the DVDs found the sixth season of Homicide: Life on the Street for $15. This season had a famous episode called "The Subway" that won a Peabody award and PBS did a documentary about; both are on the DVD set. Did I mention "The Subway" featured Vincent D'Onofrio? Oh, and that another episode in this season featured Kathryn Erbe? (Yes, when I have an obsession I do it thoroughly.) I also found one of Max Allan Collins' original CSI novels—and I also discovered a nifty Christmas gift for Aubrey there.

At this point I was hungry, so I drove toward Barnes & Noble, hoping to find something to eat on the way, but Tin Drum is gone and I didn't want anything else. Instead I popped a watermelon candy and soldiered on. Since I was there anyway, I strolled down to CD Warehouse and not only turned up the DVD (with commentary) of the rom-com Happy Accidents (you can look this up and find out why it's significant), but I found the BluRay of the newest film of Midway, which James wanted to see, each for $4. Next door at Barnes & Noble I turned up the newest "Chicken Soup for the Soul" Christmas volume and also a book of short stories based on Christmas and crime just as James called asking to be picked up. The party itself was over and they were starting to watch the Army-Navy game. So I tooled on to pick him up.

We were supposed to go to Longhorn on Saturday night to have dinner for my birthday—yes, Saturday was my "Route 66" birthday—but neither of us wanted to go out in the rain, so we stopped at Zaxby's on the way home and I bought wings for both of us. Amazingly, what did we watch? The Army-Navy Game! Yes, us, the sports-phobic. But James was Navy and we cheer for Navy. (And they won!)

[Later: We ended up at Longhorn Sunday afternoon. James had 20 hours of vacation time left, so he's taking one whole day (the 26th, we hope, if not the 22nd or the 29th) and then two Sunday afternoons off, since Sunday is generally a dead day, but they need him early in the morning as no one else is covering until 10 a.m.]

So I had a swell birthday with books and DVDs, but felt rather sad because we'd found out late the evening before that a friend was in the hospital with a slight stroke. This person has had many health problems this year, including having to have chemotherapy, and we feel terrible that they've ended up in the hospital yet again. After what James went through last year it is doubly dismaying.

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» Saturday, December 04, 2021
"At Christmas the Yuletide Elves Never Sleep"
Christmas decorations? Yes!—we are off with a bound!

Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, which mean it was time for lights! I'd decided I wanted to go back to the blue lights out front, so after the dog walking sequence of our day, I went to the garage and went rooting in the boxes. Although I'd bought all new strings of blue lights on Saturday, I decided to use the old lights if possible. I spent an hour or so distributing them on the bushes in the front of the house. In retrospect, maybe it was a bad idea, because they are two different batches of blue glass and one bush doesn't really match the other (some of the lights are bluer than others) and some of them are faded and look white. But, for better or worse they were out there, as well as the tree that goes on the porch table and the wreath on the front door, which are still multicolor since I don't anticipate finding blue lights for those.

I also unboxed a set of white and blue snowflakes James had picked up on clearance one year and plugged those in out front as well. They will make a nice background for the three log deer: Woody, Holly, and Rudy, he of the red nose.

While I was outside Ashley from next door came out with her dogs and then stopped to talk to me a while. She kept asking if she could help! I thought that was sweet. Maybe I am looking decrepit these days? 😀

Then I came inside and put up the candoliers in the windows (frosted blue on the upper story and clear blue down in the library) and the inside door wreaths (since they're all in the same box) and set up the timers. All this and doing my essential Sunday chores: sorting meds for the week, washing towels, and cleaning the master bath.

Monday it was time to clean out the Thanksgiving decorations, and that I did, and everything got boxed. Also unloaded (again) and reloaded (again) and ran the dishwasher. That thing is insatiable!

Tuesday I helped James start up the turkey soup from the carcass and meat we got from Juanita, and then decorated the foyer, cleared off everything upstairs, put up decorations in the hall bathroom, first put up the ceppo on the china cabinet, and then worked on decorating the dining room. Finally the two of us ended the night by straining and putting up the soup.

Wednesday was, of course, laundry day, and along with that I finished up the dining room and decorated the kitchen, put up the woodland tree and the supporting decorations in the spare room, put up the Rudolph tree, put up the Scottish/Italian decorations in our bedroom, and put up the stuff on the landing.

Thursday we finally got to the bank, then did the trifecta of shopping (Lidl, Publix, Kroger). We also tried a new restaurant that is next to the Mableton Kroger, "Yummy Bistro," an Asian fusion place. James and I both had Japanese noodles with beef, and he tried some tempura sushi and I had pork potstickers. (We both had to put the appetizers up for another meal; the Japanese noodles were indeed "yummy" and filling!) After lunch I stamped and addressed the Christmas cards and put two packages together, and later on I brought up the board from the "Christmas Closet" and set up our 1940s Christmas village on the mantel (and those decorations under the mantel, as well). Almost immediately two bulbs were out, so I had to order more from Amazon. Those special village building bulbs are expensive (they're shorter and squatter than C7 bulbs so they fit into the houses better)!

Friday we went to the post office to mail everything I'd stamped and packed, and then drove off to the Apple Annie craft show at the Catholic Church of St. Ann. It was lovely to be back after last year's break. Lots of jewelry crafters this year, so didn't buy much except for some baked goods and a new St. Jude medal to go on my chain as the old one Mom bought me from Tally's in Providence years ago is now sadly worn and may break off any day. It was warm enough for James and I to have a lunch outside (it was catered and not very good). Then we had to get going to make his podiatry appointment at four. Dr. Friedman said the ulcer on his toe was looking very good and the medihoney was working, then completely changed his mind and told us to try something with a different kind of medihoney and a different pad. I'm hoping this will work.*

Saturday morning we had a treat: James made buckwheat waffles! They were delicious with real maple syrup. Then James headed off to his meeting as this week was their Christmas party. Except it wasn't, he had read the message incorrectly. So he came back about 90 minutes later. In the meantime I had given up and gone on Home Depot's site and ordered a blue tree to use for the airplane tree, and later in the afternoon I put up the library tree—after replacing something like 20-30 bulbs on that tree last year, I still had to replace nine more before I could decorate it!—and put up the rest of the library decorations. The airplane tree will have to wait until the blue tree comes; I've always wanted a blue tree for the planes.

Finally at rest, it was time for The Snowman and A Christmas Story.

* It didn't. I went back to the medihoney and hope I am okay doing it.

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» Saturday, November 27, 2021
Thanksgiving and Second Thanksgiving
I don't get it. Summer lasts for so long. It goes by with the speed of a constipated sloth, leaving behind the ugly scents of hot asphalt and sizzling concrete, mold and heated metal.

And now here it was Thanksgiving week!

The early part of the week was notable in that it was cold enough, or we thought it was cold enough, that we pulled the comforter down from the closet shelf and put it on the bed, only for me to put it back up a day later. Even as chilly as it was, it was too warm. Ironically, when we had the furnace inspected on Monday, it was too warm.

Thursday it seemed Thanksgiving was back to normal. Except that Dish Network and Tegna are still in a pissing match and I couldn't record the Macy's Parade on NBC, so I watched it on CBS instead. This was actually good; the coverage was better than NBC has done in years. We spent half the morning cooking for dinner this afternoon: steamed carrots with maple syrup glaze and also a green bean casserole. James "mixed it up" a little by using cream of onion soup instead of cream of mushroom soup and also added chives to it. Finally about two we headed over to the Lucyshyns across town, only to be held up in traffic! On Thanksgiving Day, of all days! No accident ahead, just scads of cars on I-85 northbound. We finally got off the freeway and went surface streets.

Dinner was delicious as always: turkey, ham, pot roast for the main meats and all sorts of veggies, two different kinds of fruit salad, regular pies and also a hot crispy fruit pie. Had football on the television, and were able to host a friend who is basically in hospice care as he has an incurable cancer. We also had another friend who was able to come but not enjoy himself as he used to: he has a host of medical problems and basically can only sit and watch television and eat simple things. Despite that, we all enjoyed it.

Heading home, the freeway was apparently still clogged up and we had to go south to Stone Mountain to be able to double back to I-285 and go north and then west to go home. Quite exhausted when we got there.

No need for Black Friday shopping this year; I think those days are gone. We have enough gadgets and enough thumb drives and hard drives for a while. We had to go to the post office to pick up a registered letter and then tried to go to the bank, only to find it closed for the weekend. Then we did the grocery shopping, which means that we didn't get lunch until almost dinner time.

Saturday we went to Popshelf to get James more beef and bean burritos so he won't have to make his own, then went by Lowes where I found strings of blue lights on discount sale. Back at home we made more carrots and green bean salad, because in the afternoon we were invited to what I called "Second Thanksgiving" at the Spiveys' home. Juanita made the turkey at home and brought it over, and it joined the veg and numerous desserts and breads. Football was on here, too, as well, and the cats wandered in and out at will as Cinnamon the dog stared at people trying to get them to feed her.

Then we came home to watch our usual Christmas starts to the season: "Merry Gentlemen" from All Creatures Great and Small and "Silly, But It's Fun..." on The Good Life.

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» Saturday, November 20, 2021
"The State of Happiness is Just a Point of View..."
It was a week of in and outs. On the "in" side I did some book reviews and blogged and shelved books. On the "out" side, I finally got rid of the alarm clocks—we don't use them anymore and there's no radio station I want to wake up to any longer.

Thursday was a usual shopping day, Lidl, Publix, and Kroger in a row. And then we managed to have a little fun at Barnes & Noble. I'm having to buy "Yankee" magazine again since Nook canceled my electronic subscription. But at least the print copy came with a calendar, so I'm stocked on calendars now. James also took delivery on a sanitizer for his C-PAP machine. We are hoping this will cut down on the allergy problems he's been having for the last few months (he gets up sneezing very hard and it continues all day). I've been washing the mask and making sure there are no particulates in the tank, but this will make sure all the germs are taken care of.

Something nice did happen after B&N: Did you ever have an ordinary moment when you suddenly realized you were...just happy? I had a moment like that Thursday: we'd finished the grocery shopping, everything was put up, and we'd had lunch; James was driving us to Barnes & Noble, we were going through the back way with all the trees, it was autumn, the windows were down and it was cool, and I was exactly where I wanted to be.

And later on we had the season premiere of Star Trek: Discovery. That was a very interesting opening act before settling into a more traditional episode! Glad they didn't make the new President a snotty sort, and she was actually very knowledgeable. This was followed by the first Ready Room of the season, with Wil Wheaton on a slick-looking new set that looks like a real Trek ready room. Also watched Prodigy, and perhaps Gwyn has finally gotten the message that her father can't be trusted?

Friday we had a very small "lunch bunch" at Top Spice (Thai), and also went to Hobby Lobby. I got Patti Callahan's new book about C.S. Lewis and "where" Narnia came from, a novel called Once Upon a Wardrobe. I read it as an e-book and wanted a real copy.

Saturday we had to take Tucker to the vet. He's been biting at his tail so much it was getting irritated, so we were treating it with aloe wipes and some anti-itch medication and leaving the Thundershirt on him so he couldn't twist up and bite at his tail. What we were worried about was that his left ear was drooping more and more every day from the beginning of the week, and now it seemed to have fluid in it. So we dropped him off before nine o'clock and then had to go to Hair Day. That part at least was fun. Afterwards, not so much: James cooked up some "Plant Based" (that's the brand name) burgers that we tried. He had no problem, but whatever they put into those burgers to make them taste like meat made me very ill. I was burping it up all night. I had a nap and then indulged in Pepto Bismol and "Goren and Eames therapy."

We were instructed to come pick up Tucker at 5:30, but didn't actually get him until after six. The vet is still doing the stupid drop-off thing and we had to sit in the car for 45 minutes and twiddle our thumbs while the guy in the car next to us smoked noxious cigars. Barf.

So Tucker finally got his exam and his shots, which they had conveniently "forgotten" to do when he was there boarding in March, although we confirmed this when we dropped him off. (We're still pretty pissed about this; can you tell?) The itch on his butt is from a flea allergy, even though we haven't had any fleas, and they gave us steroids for him. (We never got his flea meds in March, either; they wouldn't give them to us because he hadn't had his exam!) The fluid in his ear is a hematoma, and they only wanted to do it if he had his teeth cleaned, too. Well, this bloody costs $1,000, which we'll have to save up for. Hopefully the hematoma will reabsorb. We have to watch it.

We didn't get home until way after dark and forewent watching the final, clip show of Call the Midwife. I was frankly disappointed by this season of Call the Midwife, except for the final episode. Every plot seemed to be "okay, this bad thing happened, but everyone was supportive and the baby was okay." Just very "by the numbers" this season, and unsatisfying. In the last episode, even though the baby was born with Down syndrome and his adoptive mother rejected him, things came out okay, and Rich Guy came through for Nonnatus House. Meh. Instead we watched more Murdoch Mysteries.

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» Saturday, November 13, 2021
An Unexpected Vacation, or Doctors' Appointments, Store-Hopping, and Crime Series Watch
If James was going to have a week's furlough, at least we could get a "sort of" vacation out of it. So I turned off all the alarms and we looked forward to a nice Monday morning of sleeping in.

Thanks, Alex, for coming to cut the grass (last cut of the season). Absolutely no thank you for showing up at 6:50 a.m. Sigh. In the meantime, James devoted Monday to giving the stovetop a good scrub.

Tuesday I did the laundry (because Wednesday was reserved for our "big exciting trip" down to Kaiser Southwood) and a couple of the chores I would have done on Sunday. Happened to catch a message that Vincent D'Onofrio was going to be on the gossip show Daily Blast Live, so we watched it this afternoon. Sure wish the hosts would shut up and let the guest talk instead of bantering amongst themselves, but this seems to be the fashion today. Miss Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, and Merv Griffin, who actually let their guests talk—what a novel idea. For the rest of the day I had my D'Onofrio/Erbe fix—mostly watched Law & Order: Criminal Intent. (I've started—early, since it was a birthday gift to myself—watching the DVD set I bought and realized the initial shows were still done in the era of pan-and-scan.)

So Wednesday we had to drive 35 miles to the Kaiser Southwood office—thankfully traffic only a problem until we got to the I-20 cutoff—to visit James' urologist. Didn't realize we hadn't seen him for over a year! Dr. Starr did a cytoscopy (sp?) on him to make sure his bladder was emptying properly (it is). Apparently his prostate is growing back slightly on one side, but has left a sizable enough gap for everything to come out properly, so it's not a problem right now. There was a bit of scar tissue from the surgery, which the doctor was able to clear. We also picked up some new "hats" so James could continue monitoring output. Dr. Starr will see us one more time in May, and then he is retiring, bless him. If anyone deserves it, he does. And then he will recommend a doctor at Glenlake, which will save us these marathons to Southlake.

We had planned to eat our anniversary dinner—did I mention Wednesday was our wedding anniversary? it's our "Baskin-Robbins anniversary," 31derful years—at the Olive Garden nearby, but, forever spooked by Atlanta traffic as always, we drove back home and ate at the Cobb Parkway location instead. I did the make-your-own-pasta (rigatoni with marinara sauce and meatballs) with a salad and James had his favorite, chicken marsala, with a "zuppa toscana" chaser, and we shared a piece of black tie mousse cake as dessert (the waiter wrote "Happy Anniversary" on the plate in chocolate fondant, which was sweet). Of course if Olive Garden's marinara sauce gets any sweeter, we're going to have to start classifying it as a dessert...

To get it out of the way, we stopped at Publix on the way home.

Thursday we had to complete James' doctor trifecta for the week. We had an appointment at Glenlake with a podiatrist in the morning, so instead of taking the freeway, we did our usual back door route through Lower Roswell and Paper Mill roads and were rewarded with gorgeous autumn color (Paper Mill is a ritzy neighborhood, so the houses are set in groves of trees, and the road itself descends to a creek bottom where the mill used to be and then back up). Glenridge Drive behind Kaiser Glenridge was beautiful as well.

We saw Dr. "Mosh" this time (he has a very long last name) and he agreed with me that Dr. Friedman's suggested method of treating the little ulcer on James left "ring toe" was not working and changed it. Now I am to put betadyne on it and he gave me some silver-infused Mepilex foam to put on top of it. He also gave us some silicone spacers to use to keep James' baby toe from rubbing the affected one.

Since it was on the way home, we stopped at Trader Joe's to (1) get a quick lunch, as we like their wraps, and (2) pick up more stuff. They had the Christmas stuff out so we got fresh "candy cane Jo-Jos" (Oreo cookie-type filled with crushed peppermint), peppermint bark, and peppermint puffs covered in dark chocolate. There is a Lidl nearby now, so we stopped there for our Lidl stuff like mandarin oranges, bakery items, etc. and found a loaf of whole wheat bread for James since Publix didn't have any. We were even able to get the two stores' worth of groceries home and put away and sit for awhile until it was time to hit the last appointment, the nephrologist, who gave James a clean bill of health.

On the way home this time we stopped at Kroger for milk and yogurt and ramen noodles.

Friday we actually had a free day, so took some stuff to Goodwill—sadly James' old desk chair was too battered for them to take—and then went to Walmart to get James new compression socks, plus what stock of sugar free hard candies they had (not much). On the way home we stopped at Popshelf to get James some Tina burritoes (their beef and bean flavor has the lowest sodium count of all the pre-made burritoes in the stores).

Saturday! Finally! The event we'd waited for for two years: Free Electronics Recycling Day! Now we could safely get rid of the damn microwave that James rapped the truck door on every time he got into the truck. And the three dead UPS units, a VCR that wouldn't even turn on anymore, a fan, various little electronic devices, my old alarm clock, RCA cables, old lamps, etc. However, they would not take the light bulbs, even the damn CFLs which are supposed to be toxic and are supposed to be disposed of properly. Made me angry.

We hadn't been to the Farmer's Market in downtown Marietta in a dog's age, so we went there next. Didn't have much money, but we bought some sweet Argentinian chorizo sausage (which we had for supper; it was delicious, but the sample we'd tasted was not so salty, or we wouldn't have bought it) and of course homemade dog biscuits for Tucker. We also brought the six preserve jars we've been saving for months on the drainboard to the guy who makes his grandmother Lillian's Hawai'ian marinade, as he recycles them to put his product in. It was crisply cold this morning, which made loading the electronic junk in the truck and walking around downtown a positive delight.

We walked around the square as well and stopped at The Corner Shop (a.k.a. the British store) and bought a Terry's dark chocolate orange, a couple of meat pies for James, some chocolate "Christmas pudding," and a Scotland sticker. Then we went into the candy store next door where they sell all sorts of hard candies and unusual candy bars and different brands and flavors of sodas, and they had four kinds of sugar free hard candies! James got sugar free Chik-O-Stiks, butterscotch candies, root beer barrels, and peanut butter bars. Finally we stopped at The Local Exchange, but they didn't have any Marietta Square stickers (ours have been burnt out by the sun), so we got back into the truck and headed for home. As a last treat for our unscheduled "vacation," we each had a doughnut at the new "Dunkin" on Powder Springs Road near where we used to live.

And thus ended the furlough, because James got the call that he was all funded up again—well, for the next six months anyhow—and back to work on Sunday. Alas, back to my having to cook dinner. But a week was a nice vacation from it.

In various other news, we are watching Star Trek: Prodigy—James likes it, I don't hate it, but I could skip it without pain—and, between out bouts with watching Murdoch Mysteries, we are dipping into the original CSI on Hulu (it's on Paramount+, too, but the commercials on Hulu are less obnoxious). William Petersen is almost as nice to look at as Vincent D'Onofrio. (Notice I said "almost" here...LOL.)

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» Sunday, November 07, 2021
Conjuration Convocation
We ended up having a really nice time at Conjuration. Again, it's highly Harry Potter oriented, but they have a very nice writer's track, and we spent a lot of time at those panels.

We were a little discombobulated Saturday morning, so did not arrive in time for an 11 a.m. panel that I was interested in; however, we discovered the schedule online was not accurate, either, and that panel wasn't being held. Alas, it also meant that the raptor demonstration we had wanted to see wasn't going to happen this weekend either. It was okay, though; we found things to do. In fact, I knew the moderator of the first panel we attended: Dr. Dea Mazingo-Gorman, who did the anthropology panels at Anachrocon. "When Magic Gets Sciency" was about customs in ancient societies that were considered "magical" back then that have a scientific basis. For instance, in ancient Egypt, worshipers of Horus wore eye makeup that identified them as members. While this eye makeup had lead in it, it also protected the Horus-worshippers from eye infections caused by bathing in the Nile due to its scientific properties. Another was Lake Avernus, which is near Pozzuoli, Italy. There are caves in the area which caused death when you entered them. Turns out the lake is the caldera of a former volcano and poisonous gas still issues into the caves. Also talked a lot about the interconnectedness of ravens and wolves, which appear in many different mythologies including Native Americans. Apparently when wolves vanished from Yellowstone, so did the ravens; when they reintroduced wolves, the ravens came back. Neat panel.

Sometimes You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover" was a fun panel about cover art past and present for fantasy novels, and how good covers can persuade you to read a book even if you don't know what it's about. But it was the next two hours that were the most fun: "Dragons, Wizards & Pens," a writing "contest" involving four writers, a moderator, and suggested words. The writers were given a word and then had to write an opening sentence for a story, and the audience voted on which was the best opening line. Half were audience suggestions and we suggested "budgie" (another suggested word was "carburetor," so I think budgie wasn't so bad!). The entries were hilarious; if laughter really is the best medicine, we had a dose of the best.

"Static Character vs. Dynamic" was a good discussion about static (characters that stay the same, like Batman or Indiana Jones) versus dynamic (characters who change). Next was our final Saturday panel, "To Tell the Truth--Or Not," in which our panel of writers had to tell a real-life story from a prompt and we had to decide if they were telling the truth or lying. They were quite clever at it.

We also cruised the dealer's room a couple of times and James bought me the updated version of Alan Siler's book Doctor Who's Greatest Hits for our anniversary (later I got Alan to autograph it), and talked to one of the authors who was on the "Dragons" panel, Barbara Evers.

Came home to scritch the budgie and walk the dog (and turn back all the clocks and the timers) and drop into bed to do it all over again. This time we were a bit more collected and arrived mostly in time for the 10 a.m. panel:
"To Trope or Not to Trope," about the tropes in stories we hated, the ones that have been done to death, and the ones that we love to have "flipped."

We didn't have anything we really wanted to see next, but stayed for an interesting discussion about being a mother in the Harry Potter universe. The three panelists were all mothers—in fact, one had to take time out occasionally to tend her little ones (looked like about two and four). I think the most difficult thing about being a wizard mom would be when the kids started to manifest magic and you would have to teach them not to!

We sat and ate our sandwiches and talked to some folks, and then went back to the panel circuit. Alan Siler did a panel about the old "Land of Oz" amusement park in North Carolina. It was very popular in the 1970s, but then closed after a fire and was abandoned. It's since been fixed up and opens two weeks out of the year, with the performers all volunteers. The woman who plays Glinda originally played Dorothy in the 1970s. Alan went there in the 1970s, when he was age seven, and then went back with the television crew of The Unseen World. A lot of marriage proposals apparently take place there because one or both people went to the park as children.

The next panel was "World Building 101," which was exactly as it sounds. Most of the authors began with characters, but a few did begin with the worlds they needed.

The last panel was called
"The Storyteller's Toolbox" and was conducted by John Adcox. He was challenging the teaching of the three-act story structure and says it's more like a four-act structure instead, and illustrated this by applying the structure of Star Wars to his four-act graphic. It made a lot of sense.

Before we left James bought me two books for my birthday, the first in an independent series about a witch and her sentient cat.

We came home and James made an easy supper of ramen noodles and Trader Joe's orange chicken. Later we watched Call the Midwife.
Is it me or has the series been kind of "by the numbers" this season? Maybe it was because of the difficulties of filming with the pandemic going around, but I'm just not feeling the love this year. Usually I cry at the end of several episodes; this year it's "okay, this bad thing happened, but everyone was supportive and the baby was okay."

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» Friday, November 05, 2021
Fresh Apples and Magical Locations
We had a good weekend despite James' toe (which is now not red and looking better although the wound appears a little larger) and the news we got on Friday afternoon.

Alas, first we had to get through the shopping on Thursday as well as getting James a blood/urine test for his nephrologist appointment next week. But that was pretty painless.

Although it was cloudy and a tad chilly on Friday, we drove up to Ellijay and had a nice day. We listened to "Travel With Rick Steves" on the way up, and once we got past Jasper we started seeing some very nice color on the trees considering Georgia doesn't always get brilliant color. We stopped at Panorama Orchards as usual for fresh apples, fruit spreads, pot pie noodles, sugar free taffy, fruit teas, goat's milk lotion, and a few other things. Then we drove another 15 minutes to Blue Ridge to go to Taste of Amish. We can't get into this store with James' power chair due to a curb, so I went in alone to buy more "soup greens" and also found Necco Wafers (James uses them for low blood sugar instead of those icky lemon tablets they give you), some smoked cheddar, and a packet of seriously delicious ginger cookies with a nice ginger bite on the "back end."

We had lunch at Shane's BBQ, and then headed home. James' right leg was getting twitchy, so we stopped at a Cracker Barrel so he could stretch his legs and use the bathroom. While I was wandering around the gift shop (if you've never been to a Cracker Barrel, it's a country style restaurant that also has a gift shop) and found an adorable Christmas/winter sweatshirt in my size with two chibi-type foxes, pine trees, and snowflakes on it. They had a couple of other shirts that I liked, including one with chickadees on blue, but none in my size. A lovely piece of serendipity.

For some years we have been recommended a small convention called "Conjuration." It started as just a Harry Potter convention, but has branched out to encompass magical media. Our friends Alice and Ken go every year. Well, this year they went to Disney World instead, but we decided we would go on Saturday.

Things changed as we drove home: James got a phone call from his boss. Once again, they forgot to renew the purchase order that pays his salary until too late. So they have no money to pay him next week. So guess what, he's on furlough until "the board" re-ups the PO.

To look at it positively, I don't have to cook next week. And now we can go to Conjuration both Saturday and Sunday.

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