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» Sunday, November 19, 2023Conjuring 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.
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.
» Sunday, November 12, 2023Doctor, 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.)
Last visit with vascular doctor.
Pre-sleep study consultation (in Decatur, no less).
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.
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 flannel...in 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.
» Sunday, November 05, 2023Temperature's Falling! And Then, Dammit, Rising Again
Well, finally! Tuesday was Hallowe'en, so now that all the Fright Night/Spooky Season stuff is over, there will be better stuff in the stores. Watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, of course, and the Hallowe'en episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, "Masquerade," with a very troubled Liza Minelli playing the mother of a little girl who was murdered years earlier, but whose attacker, a spaced-out child molester, was just recently escorted by Goren and Eames back to the United States; they soon begin to believe he was not the murderer. Would have watched other things, but James just discovered there were new episodes of Forged in Fire, so we got on Philo and he watched those instead.
The other "event" of the week was the weather: it was cold enough on November 1 to wear my Vermont sweatshirt. In my world, this is exciting!
Otherwise it was nicely routine, with no falls, the usual physiotherapy for James on Wednesday followed by our weekly doughnut treat. Also tried a new breakfast/lunch place with Alice and Ken, Eggs Up, in the shopping center at Brookwood near Hobby Lobby. There was also a trip to Barnes & Noble (finally the November/December "Yankee"!), and I put up the Thanksgiving decorations while James was at his club meeting on Saturday.
The fly in the ointment: it got hot over the weekend, into the 80s. It was disgusting. At least there was a nice breeze so that things didn't sizzle. How ridiculous to have beautiful leaves on the trees and the scent of autumn when the air smells like a heating pad.
And we are happily back to Standard Time, where the clocks need to stay.
» Sunday, October 29, 2023After the Fall and Before the Wedding
Everything was going so well this week. I even ran out on my own on laundry day to get more Smart Balance and stop at Sprouts for Litehouse salad blend. Except the Publix on the East-West and the Sprouts across the street didn't have either of those products. I did find the Smart Balance at the Smyrna Publix; we always stock up when they're on BOGO.
Then on Wednesday James had an appointment with his rhematologist. He spoke frankly this time about all the pain he has been in and asked if there was some way it could be relieved without using opioids. Dr. Salazar decided to put him on a short course (two weeks) of Prednisone to see if relieving the inflammation helps. Then we went to the Sprouts at Heritage Pointe and they had the Litehouse we needed, too.
» Sunday, October 22, 2023Apples! Apples! Nice Fresh Apples!
Thank goodness, the week was pretty harmless. The one problem was Thursday; by the time we went grocery shopping and finished it, if we went home to drop off the food, we would be late for James' Procrit shot! So we stuffed all the perishable items into the cold bag and dashed to Kaiser. They were quite understanding about the need to hurry with the shot!
Saturday was Hair Day, but we didn't stay long because James' club meeting was this weekend and it was the annual Swap Meet. He went off to the VFW Hall and I stayed home, finally swept out the garage, and vacuumed. In between I did some writing.
» Sunday, October 15, 2023Busy for Us and Happy for Emma!
Well, we had some Big Events this week (and none of them involved goddamn Urgent Care).
The Friends of the Library book sale was on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and it was the first time that I've gone that I did not go first thing on Friday morning. I still fret about James and I didn't feel like getting up early to boot, plus I know I'm not going to find the stuff on my want list at the sale (it has happened, but not often enough to be a pattern, like when I found Time Out for Happiness). I ended up going on Saturday instead, to kill a little over an hour before Jessie's birthday party at Mellow Mushroom. And, yes, I still did manage to find books, including Michener's Chesapeake and Alaska, a compendium of Agatha Christie's books, a book of British mystery short stories that includes one by the late Christopher Fowler, My American Revolution about the war in the Middle Colonies, and Ronald Kessler's The FBI. Also grabbed four books for James including a P.J. O'Rourke and a first edition Book of the Month club version of Victory Through Air Power (from 1942).
Ironically, James was going to go to his club meeting and only I was attending the birthday party, but he discovered the meeting was next week, so I followed him over there only to find out Jessie had a problem and could not attend her own party. There was a nice crowd anyway and we enjoyed ourselves.
Instead of the book sale on Friday James and I went to Home Depot, which was absolutely filled with Christmas trees! Doesn't anyone make a decent-looking tree under 7 1/2 feet tall? I simply cannot decorate one that big without getting on a stool! The small ones have mixed branches which are absolutely repulsive.
Anyway, we were at HD to get light bulbs. I've discovered I like their "bright white" bulbs (3000K), since they are brighter, but don't mess with my eyes. I got a box of four clear 60-watt equivalents and one of 100-watt equivalents. For the living room I bought two bulbs which you can adjust from "warm white" to "daylight." I have left them on "true white" for now and am crossing fingers they don't irritate my eyes.
We also went to Lowes just for the heck of it, and...more Christmas trees. Same heights, too.
Had lunch at Hibachi Grill—oh, God, are they now in this oversalted hell, too?—then finally returned the pair of slip-on shoes I got for James at Walmart and bought up sugar-free candy, and picked up some things we hadn't gotten at Lidl during the big shopping trip on Thursday.
On the way up the stairs with the groceries, I whacked my right elbow good on the woodwork of the stair rail. Oh, my God! I bang one of my elbows at least once a week and it's horrible and painful, but goes away in a minute. Today I had to run to the fridge and put ice on it for twenty minutes and it raised a big purple bruise and dear Lord it hurt! I was afraid I'd broken or chipped something. After the ice I wrapped it in an Ace bandage for the rest of the night, and by shower time it was fine.
All I could think of was: if my arm is broken, how will I cath James????
Something nice happened to a friend of mine on Saturday that I was very happy about. Rupert Holmes was signing his book Murder Your Employer at the Deptford, NJ, Barnes & Noble store. Our friend Emma goes there all the time! I was practically jumping up and down in the truck seat as we went to James' physiotherapy I was so excited as I texted Emma the news. She was able to go and have MYE and also her copy of his novel Swing autographed by Rupert, and he told me how nice it was to meet another "friend of WENN" (Remember WENN, that is).
We didn't go to the Apple Festival on Sunday because both of us got too little sleep and it's a 75 minute drive. I did manage to format a new piece of fanfic for upload on Thursday, though.
Something sad did happen on Sunday that was of little consequence, but was still a bummer. I signed up for Twitter a couple of years ago so I could read posts from a few people I liked, including Susan Branch, Sam Neill, J. Michael Straczynski, and Vincent D'Onofrio. The latter, especially, would post neat views from his apartment of the NYC skyline, or his unusual little "poems" which are by turns funny, inspirational, and sometimes downright melancholy. After Elon took over Twitter, D'Onofrio mentioned he might quit, and Sunday afternoon he just pulled the plug. It will be sad not waking up to a funny video (like the one he posted a couple of weeks ago of him and his daughter cleaning the carpet in his apartment!) or a pretty view or a poem).
» Sunday, October 08, 2023Something New and Something Old
James had a really good surgery followup on Wednesday; I guess the fistula is "maturing" okay. It will take several months to be completely functioning, and then it will be ready when James needs it.
Am I just being desperate hoping that he won't need it for a long, long time?
Afterwards we went to Barnes & Noble. I bought two "buy one, get half off on the second" books, and also a nonfiction book called The Murder Room, about detectives and forensics experts who get together to solve cold cases.
We have found something interesting to watch on Apple+, For All Mankind, which is an alternate universe story (you see, it's not just for fanfiction!). The Soviets landed on the moon before Apollo 11, so the Space Race is still going on. Things are the same—Neil and Buzz still land on the moon—but there are fictional astronauts, and now some of them are women because on their second moonflight the Russians sent up a female cosmonaut, so of course the United States had to have female astronauts, too. The ERA gets passed in this universe and Teddy Kennedy doesn't go to the party on Chappaquiddick—but once in office he is having an affair with Mary Jo Kopechne. Some of the social advances still seem kind of quick, but it mostly jibes.
Friday we got things done: took our clothes to the cleaners to be ready for Neil and Emilee's wedding, brought the boxes for donations to Goodwill; after physical therapy we grabbed some quick food at Krystal to go on to Kaiser for James' Procrit shot, bought gas at Costco, then finally picked up some craft supplies before going home.
Saturday I did a lot of tidying, and also finally put all the fall decorations up. In March, I had just left the winter decorations I had taken down in a box because I wanted to go through the rest of the winter decorations to get rid of some of them, the ones I didn't put up last year. So I went through the winter box and gathered a dozen or so things that "didn't spark joy" anymore and put them in a donation box. Then I finally put the rest of the winter decorations away.
I guess the truth is that I have been in kind of a funk most of the year from James' different falls and the wretchedness of summer. This makes it hard to be enthusiastic about decorating or crafts; I just want to brood. When it gets at its worst I can escape into my stories, but it doesn't do a lot for my wanting to do anything else. It got so cool over the weekend we could ride in the truck with the windows down and I felt like taking a longer walk with the dog. It's such a relief not to sweat because the moment I do my rash flares up again.
Maybe once it gets cooler permanently—but that's always such a fluctuating thing in a Georgia fall and winter—I will be in better spirits. At least I hope so.
» Sunday, October 01, 2023New Experiences
We have discovered the best day to go to Costco: Tuesday. Oh, there's still a crowd, but it's a smaller crowd, and parking spaces are more available. In fact, we ran into a friend there: Alex Lucyshyn was there on his lunch hour. We bought toilet paper, which was a relief, because we were down to three rolls. James has been hankering for a new air fryer because ours was so small, so we bought one today. Alas, he made wings in it the first time and burnt the sauce. I ended up throwing up by bedtime. (But the wings themselves were cooked perfectly.)
I am determined to get more junk out of the house, so I made up two boxes of items we don't use (the old rice cooker, a sander I never used and now I don't make furniture any longer, etc.) to go to Goodwill. The box didn't go anywhere this week, though.
On Saturday, we took a few things to electronics recycling—the notice for it popped up unexpectedly on Twitter a few days ago—then went to an event in Acworth called the "Time Traveling Book Sale that had popped up on Facebook Events. This took place at the Acworth Community Center, and while there were a few booksellers, most of the dealers sold other book-related items. James bought a couple of dice from a vendor, and we saw the neatest keyboard at one vendor's table. It really does click like a typewriter keyboard!
We also went to the Crazy Book Lady bookstore. I found a neat book about numbers in literature and science, a book called Indian Time to read next month, and, finally, James Michener's Creatures of the Kingdom, which is all the collected nature and animal shorts from the beginnings of his books like Centennial, Hawaii, etc.
We ate in a spot off state route 41, Capo's Pizza/Ristorante. The service was very good and the "garlic knots" were to die for, but the spaghetti sauce was much too sweet. We didn't need dessert afterward.
Anyway, James has been wanting to see the film Greyhound for ages, but it's only on Apple+. Best Buy had this special offer for new subscribers: three months' free membership, so I got it. We watched Greyhound on Sunday and we both really enjoyed it. Laughed at some of the reviews, which complained there was "no character development." This was basically an action film, a war action film, about American destroyers escorting supply convoys across the Atlantic and being trailed by U-boat wolfpacks. Except for the first five minutes in the hotel, it is nonstop shooting and battle, and it's so well done I enjoyed it immensely. I didn't care if there was "no character development"--it was perfect as it was.
» Sunday, September 24, 2023An Unwelcome Visit
So we stayed nice and confined at home. Took another COVID test on Tuesday. The lines are lighter, but the tests say we still have it. So no physiotherapy this week. However, when we talked to someone at Kaiser, they said if we were no longer showing symptoms, we were no longer contagious. So we went to the supermarkets in masks on Thursday. Kaiser aggravated the hell out of us that day, though. We went to Kaiser first to pick up a prescription, then to Costco for gas, then to the supermarkets. On the way home from Publix, we got a call from Kaiser saying we had to go back to Cumberland where we'd already been three hours earlier because James needed a blood test before his Procruit shot on Friday. I was sick from being out in the heat and instead of getting to rest after putting the groceries away we had to go back out.
At least we got to go out and eat on Friday. We were craving bulgogi beef and went to Okinawa.
Alas, one of us was back on the sick list on Saturday. It is actually a little sensitive to talk about, so I won't, but James ended up back at Urgent Care on Saturday. It wasn't dangerous or life-threatening, but it was...annoying. Especially being at Urgent Care was annoying.
» Sunday, September 17, 2023An Unwelcome Visitor
People who visit us might be amused or weirded out by the amount of extra groceries we keep downstairs in the hall and in what's supposed to be the coat closet next to the garage. We have jars of peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, and cans of soup, vegetables, and containers of olive oil and chicken broth; the freezer is also always stocked. We aren't "preppers" by any means, but we are prepared, and this week we were glad we had.
Had a great Sunday at Yellow Daisy and was quite already until bedtime, when my post-nasal drip unleashed. If that wasn't bad enough, I started to cough. And cough. And cough. Not a lot of sleep for me Sunday night or Monday for that matter. Monday I took a nap and that made me feel worse! Got the chores done anyway. James wasn't feeling as bad as I was, but he had a sore throat and general lassitude.
Since we had physical therapy this week and James' Procrit shot, I decided we'd better err on the side of caution, so out came the COVID test kits.
And we both tested positive. James' was very pale, but there, and mine was a bright thick purple! Son of a bitch. Dodged the damn thing for three years and it came at us out of nowhere.
Because of all his health problems James called Kaiser and got a video appointment with his doctor on Thursday; because of his kidney problems, he couldn't have the regular COVID med you see advertised (Paxlovid) and had to have a different kind. This led to us driving down to the Kaiser Cascade office, eleven miles away, in a driving rainstorm because the alternative was not nearby. What fun, because by this time I had a 100 degree fever and felt like sh*t. When we got home from Cascade I fell asleep for four hours! Only had the fever and the cough at night for two days, but the post-nasal drip persists.
» Sunday, September 10, 2023A Daisy of a Day, James' Buzzer, and Other Stories
Bracketed the week with goodies.
Did the usual chores a day late this week since Monday was Labor Day. We spent that afternoon at craft stores and then went to Longhorn to celebrate James' birthday. Since we got there before three we got luncheon prices, which was fine with me.
» Sunday, September 03, 2023From Pain to Pleasure
Poor James—he came down with a thump late Tuesday. Monday after the supposed dose of steroids during his surgery he had no pain at all and was walking tall and easily until bedtime. He even forgot his cane several times because he really didn't need it. Tuesday he had a little pain, but was doing okay. Wednesday the pain came back with a vengeance, especially after we went to physical therapy. Karen didn't have him do any arm exercises; just leg and hip and he was pretty miserable that evening, even though he told me he was "okay" at Publix. Thankfully, this let up a little by the end of the week and we could go on to have some fun.
One other doctors' appointment this week: his Procrit shot. Apparently it's raising his iron levels well. And he got some comfort food: after doing the shopping we picked up chicken and dumplings from Cracker Barrel.
» Monday, August 28, 2023The Surgery
Our day started at five a.m.
» Sunday, August 27, 2023Buffets and Benson (With or Sans Stabler)
Another week of chores. The big event was eating at the new buffet on Austell Road, the Atlantic Buffet, which bills itself as a Chinese/American/Mexican buffet. It was pretty good. We went on a Friday so there was a lot of seafood (I ate lots of shrimp and paid for it the next day). They had sushi, a hibachi grill, and then various Chinese dishes. The "Mexican" was a little rectangle of space with taco shells and various fillings. The "American" appears to be cheese pizza and lasagna and mac'n'cheese. Most of what we ate was okay and not all that salty, and I enjoyed it because they had steamers as part of the seafood and also coffee ice cream in the ice cream freezer (with the desserts they also had grasshopper pie).
But this place took over the old Golden Corral which has been closed for ages, and they announced the Atlantic Buffet "coming soon" for so long that we figured they were doing a thorough cleaning out. What a surprise to pretty much find out that it looks like the old Golden Corral setup, with minor modifications, and the old ripped up vinyl sofa that was there when GC closed was still there! I did like some of the food but the "remodel" was thoroughly disappointing. However, lots of working class folks in there for a big hearty meal.
Watching the Futurama revival on Hulu. Some funny stuff, but it seems to have lost its edge.
I've also been watching Law & Order: SVU from the beginning because of how people rave about it, and also curious about the fervent Benson/Stabler shipping. It's a completely different show from what it is now, which basically seems to revolve around Olivia Benson, more of an ensemble drama the first two seasons, and then as seasons three and four go on, more stories revolve around Benson and Stabler. Everyone's always on about John Munch (Richard Beltzer's character), and yet he has less and less to do each season, and seems to hang around just to make a pithy remark or offer some kind of conspiracy theory. Once in a while he gets a chance to shine. Same thing with Fin...they sort of toss him in every so often. I guess I still haven't reached the point where you start seeing this "thing" between Benson and Stabler. They don't even seem to have the rapport Goren and Eames had reached by second season.
I'll tell you though, after four or five of these in a row, the show is very depressing! Probably why we never watched the first time around!