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, April 07, 2024
After the Fall
The week did not open auspiciously, but instead with pain (James') and tears (mine).

I took Tucker out Monday morning and did our "regular" walk (across the street, down to the stop sign, reverse direction to the day care, and back across the street again). When I got home I called up to James, but he didn't answer. So I figured he was in the bathroom, which I hadn't begun to clean yet, and let the dog upstairs. Then I headed for the hall bathroom to "walk" me.

I looked down in the doorway to see James' shoes. They were attached to James, stretched out on the floor, his right arm bleeding in several places including on the hand, and some cuts on his right leg. He had somehow caught his right foot—we think, he says he doesn't know how he fell—on the doorframe and fallen face down. He did not hit his head, nor hurt his face; he was conscious, annoyed at himself, and uncomfortable.

So first I mopped up the blood and then came the problem of getting him off the floor. He can't roll over onto his knees. So I got him into a sitting position, and he basically crab walked—or actually pulled himself forward on a kitchen chair while I moved it forward incrementally and then held down—to the stairway, where he could stand up. Next I patched up all the bleeding parts and checked him for bruises.

We ended up not going to Urgent Care. He said he was bruised and did hurt, but that he didn't think he'd broken anything, like a friend did last week and who had to go to the emergency room. Instead James took Tylenol and I gave him an extra steroid. Needless to say he was very sore for most of the week, and David had to ease up on him when he finally got to go to PT this week (we hadn't gone the past two weeks due to the allergies making us feel horrible).

Lawn care, alas, is back in season. Alex is going to come on Tuesday this year, he says, so I had to stagger awake on Tuesday and go through a flurry of writing checks.

James was up to Walmart on Wednesday (sugar free candy and other stuff we can only get at WallyWorld) and then grocery shopping on Thursday. On Friday we took it as easy as possible, but did go to Canton for our monthly trip. Came out of Books-a-Million with many books, then we had pizza at Uncle Maddio's, and finally we stopped at BJs for fruit cups, maple syrup, and a few other items.

Saturday afternoon we had great fun at Ken Spivey's birthday party, which was held at Volcano Steak and Sushi, a new place out in Hiram (they also have a Korean BBQ and Hot Pot). This is one of those hibachi places where the guy cooks in front of you, and it was great fun to see little Kassidy (who's elementary-school aged) watch the chef do his tricks for the first time and be startled when he sets the fire on the grill!

James' club meeting was on a Sunday this month because it was the only day available, so he went off while I did some chores and washed some towels and did some writing and listened to the Colonial Williamsburg podcasts.

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» Sunday, March 31, 2024
Almost Easter
Sort of an interesting Holy Week in making some old progress. Back in 2022, I stopped listening to the Colonial Williamsburg podcasts (I was busy writing, and I can't write and pay attention at the same time). I had caught up on all the Gretchen Rubin podcasts, and need to catch up on "A Way With Words," but wanted to get to the Williamsburg ones, too. This week I started listening to them again and hope to keep up with Rubin and catch up with both the others.

Most of the opening of the week was chores. James did have an MRI on his toe on Wednesday. His right baby toe, the one that showed up with a sore in January, is still not healed. It doesn't look infected, but skin isn't growing on top of it and healing it up, so the doctor wants to make sure the bone isn't infected. (Got the report later in the week; it's not.)

Thursday James' Procrit shot was scheduled early, although we tried to change it. So we went by Lidl on the way home, and I got both chicken drumsticks on sale and some boneless pork ribs, so I made cacciatore for supper and also made gravy for later. And we had a nap, too!

It was a quiet Good Friday: we had to run out to pick up meds, but I did listen to the BBC Lent Talks.

On Saturday while our low-sodium ham was marinating in pineapple, we went to Barnes & Noble and to Hobby Lobby. In the evening I watched the spooky movie Stir of Echoes. Kathryn Erbe is in it, just before she did Criminal Intent. It was pretty creepy, but turned out to be a little of a murder mystery, too.

And Easter was quiet. Unfortunately I had to wash towels since we were out of facecloths. I watched my two Easter favorites, Here Comes Peter Cottontail and The Easter Promise, and we had ham and potatoes for dinner, and then...dark chocolate Lindt bunnies! Yay!

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» Sunday, March 24, 2024
Woohoo! Got up on Tuesday and our water pressure was back to normal. It has been a horrible two weeks dealing with dribbling faucets; hell, if somebody's house caught fire last week, I doubt if there would have been enough water pressure to put it out!

James had his nose checked again; Dr. Warner says it is healing okay. I wish the dang scab would just fall off.

Saturday we had Hair Day. Washed towels because we needed facecloths. Had a nap.

I am reading Braiding Sweetgrass, which is lovely and lyrical.

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» Monday, March 18, 2024
Atomicon 2024
We had a fairly good Atomicon, despite being utterly exhausted from allergies and coughing. We arrived in Helen Thursday afternoon just about four, when several of our friends were checking in, offloaded our junk, and then lay down until I started texting to find out where we were going to dinner. Spice55, the Thai place, was the choice, and we had the usual yummy dinner. I wait for this every year, as they make the best pad thai.

Something sweet happened after dinner: Jessie and some of the others were enchanted by the black-and-white stray cats hanging outside the shopping center where the restaurant was. A lady was also interested in the cats and she and James started talking; she was ex-Navy and also had been a Marine. Now, we had had an appetizer, so I still a lunch-sized portion of leftovers, and it was supposed to rain on Friday. I suggested we stop at the Dollar General, which has frozen foods, to see if we could find him something for lunch there. We did find some taquitos. The same lady also was in the store, and she was quite disturbed by how cluttered the aisles were and that James could not get around in his power chair. She told us she was going to report the store for ADA violations. And on the way out she paid for his taquitos!

Thursday night I was feeling well enough to play some games, and we played Uno No Mercy, which is fiendish. I got kicked out of the first game almost immediately, and ended up winning the last one.

It did indeed rain almost all day Friday. It was probably good because James and I were both stuffy and miserable, and we stayed in with anyone else who didn't want to go out in the rain, talking, farkling around on the computer. I found Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent available and watched that, and last night's Law & Order as well.

For supper the weather cleared well enough to go to the Nachoochee Tavern and have some pretty good pizza. I had to share with James, so I had to eat cheese [bleah], but it was still okay.

One of the things James and I have begun doing since Atomicon has been held at the Country Inn and Suites is to have a daily walk downtown after breakfast. It's about a half a mile, and then we stroll around the little downtown area, maybe walk down to Hofer's Bakery, and then return to the crossroads of downtown and head toward the parking lots, strolling a road in the back down to the hotel. Total it's about a mile and a half, maybe more.

I was feeling so short of air from the congestion that on Saturday morning we took the truck instead; we haven't done that in years and I felt like I was regressing. But I did manage to totter around downtown. We visited the glassblower's shop, bought our annual candy from Hansel & Gretel, and visited the history museum that we missed last year due to food poisoning. This is in a building that used to be the City Hall. Helen was a tiny little logging town at one time, outside of what became Unicoi Park, and when the logging left, so did a lot of the population. Helen became basically a gas and food stop, so they turned the town into a "Little Bavaria" to attract tourists. We've been going to Helen with our friends for...well, Jessie and Aubrey both turned thirty last year, so...longer than that!

We also bought more white peach balsamic vinegar (love this stuff) and some blackberry ginger as well from the Alpine Olive Tree. I got James a neat gift: someone gave us a little turntable/light gadget: you plug it in and put a statue or something on it and it lights it up and revolves. They had laser-etched lucite items, and I got James a U.S. Navy one, with an aircraft carrier and destroyer and planes flying overhead. (I was going to get him a smaller one, but he said the planes weren't correct!) It looks really pretty on the turntable.

We then drove down to the Mount Yonah Bookstore—the owner always puts out a "Welcome, Atomicon!" poster and gives us a discount—and I found a brand-new copy of the annotated version of The Phantom Tollbooth, one of my favorite books in the whole world (seriously, what my life would have been without the Stadium School and Hugh B. Bain libraries I will never know). I also found a book about a woman FBI agent, a book by Robert Ressler (one of the first FBI profilers), and the book that inspired the series Homicide: Life on the Streets, which introduced Richard Beltzer's John Munch character.

And it was back to Spice55 for supper with Alice and Juanita. I had pad cashew this time, which was exquisite.

Sunday I was feeling strong enough to do the walk downtown, if a bit slowly, and we made it to the Christmas store before I started to be nagged by lower GI problems. It was a good walk, anyway. We spent the afternoon reminiscing about old television series, and had supper at Rib Country in Cleveland, GA. The ribs are so good and half the price of any ribs in the Atlanta metro area.

Alas, neither of us slept well, so we staggered up, ate the hotel breakfast, and packed up and left. Stopped at the outlet mall because I so much needed new socks. We also stopped at a knife shop where James went in; I sat and read. And finally, by the vet—$1300 for exams and boarding! Oliver apparently seems to be okay to them; it looks like they don't have an avian vet again. ::sigh:: Yes, they noticed he's shy.

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» Thursday, March 14, 2024
Oh, God, Not Now...
It's been a week, even though Atomicon was at the end of it.

Sunday night I took the dog out as usual, and the pollen attacked. I've had reactions to pollen in the previous years, especially when the pollen counts were 6000-8000 plus. After ten minutes, I couldn't stop coughing. I coughed for two nights and two days, and even when that abated and I could get some sleep, even though I wasn't very stuffy, the post-nasal drip was horrendous and the mucus smelled terrible. Worse, after going out on Wednesday, James started the same routine. So we were exhausted doing our chores in the early week and exhausted packing for our weekend in Helen.

The one tiny interesting spot for three days, in fact, were the air-for-your-tires units at Costco! They are great, much better than the air at QuikTrip. You know it's a bad week when getting air for your tires is the best thing that happened.

Thursday morning I woke up at six a.m. feeling so horrible I had to take one of the at-home Covid tests, because damned if I was going to give 20 people and the hotel staff in Helen a virus. Happily, it came out negative. Unhappily I didn't get much more sleep because we had to run to Kaiser at ten to get James' Procrit shot.

So this means it was exhausting loading the truck—and we have to take so much f*cking stuff with us now because of the cathing and being prepared in case an ulcer pops up on James leg and taking our pillows because the hotel pillows absolutely suck.

I can report that Oliver rode well in the car, despite the fact that (1) he was right next to Tucker, who, ordinarily he's afraid of; every time Tucker is playing at night, he gets upset and calls out in alarm, and (2) I didn't cover him; he didn't seem scared of the landscape flying by. They let me set him up in his cage in one of the exam rooms, and Elliot just took him back like that. (Tucker, unlike Willow, lets Elliot put a leash on him and just accompanies him in the back with a jaunty trot.)

And then, we were off to Helen...

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» Sunday, March 10, 2024
A Matter of Power
I am so pissed!

In our 18 years in this house, we've had normal water pressure, some really good water pressure (like mostly on during the last two years), and some abysmal water pressure, like it was in the fall of 2022. But it's been so nice for the longest time.

On Monday when I was cleaning the bathroom, the water in the toilet turned brown.  I called up the water department and they said the firemen were probably cleaning out the hydrants, and that I should turn on the outside faucets for ten minutes to clean out the line. This seemed to work cleaning out the water.

Then the freaking water pressure dropped. I'm not talking "just a little bit." I'm talking you can't wash your hands after you flush the toilet because the water coming out of the faucet is a stream the diameter of a drinking straw. Even on full stream the shower massage won't work, and you can't run the faucet or flush the toilet if you're in the shower. The water coming out of the kitchen faucet droops down instead of coming out straight.

It makes cleaning out James' catheter a fat pain in the ass, too. And I have to clean it out three times a day, and the catch containers, too.

If you call up the water department, they will tell you this is your fault and you must have a leak.

Miserable, miserable.

At least Will Trent was on again, although it won't be back until April now, due to stupid basketball. The same goes for Elsbeth, which I'm still on the fence about. She's almost too flaky.

In better news, this weekend was the semiannual book sale sponsored by the Cobb County library. It was cold when I got there Friday when they opened; I went back Saturday when James was at his club meeting. Day 1 and then Day 2 hauls.

Once Upon a Crime are crime stories based on fairy tales. America's Jubilee is about the 50th anniversary of American independence (1826). Raising Cubby is partially research for a child character I'm writing. Joy Adamson's Africa is a collection of her art—people who've read her wildlife books forget she was a trained artist—including four absolutely gorgeous portraits of native African people in traditional dress.

We had been noticing since it got cold that the batteries on James' power chair were discharging rather quickly. It seemed to go away during warm weather, so we didn't worry about it much, but in the last couple of weeks it seemed that his usual speed, "3," appeared to be slower than he was used to. Thursday during shopping the batteries were half drained just from a trip through Lidl and Publix.

So James looked up to see if any of the Batteries+ stores had those batteries in stock. Turned out the one on the corner of Roswell and Wieuca did, so we went out there Sunday to get them replaced.

We did not get the names of the two guys that helped us, but, wow, you had to see the work they had to do to get those batteries out! James looked up a video on YouTube and the process seemed very simple: remove the front cowling and footplate by depressing the silver buttons on each side of the latch, unplug the batteries from the chair, then pull them out, take off the leads, attach the leads to the new batteries, slide the batteries back in, reattach wiring to the chair, and replace the front cowling. The videographer did note that putting the front cowling back on was "kinda fiddly."

Well, the front cowling was "fiddly" and it took a good ten minutes before they figured it out, but it wasn't the only thing they had trouble with. Both batteries are rectangular blocks, no curves. The batteries they pulled out were swollen and distended on the top and the sides! (These were the original factory batteries.) The guys had to get on the floor and pull on the strap around the batteries and brace with their feet to get them out! It was a tight fit going back in, too, but not like that! They were a great couple of guys and James has already left excellent reviews for them on the survey and also did a Google review of the specific store.

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» Sunday, March 03, 2024
The Gathering and The Innocent
The highlight of this week was the second annual occurrence of Marietta: The Gathering. This is a fannish event held on the Square in Marietta. No celebrities or anything, but there was a "dealer's room" in booths out on the street—I found a new kitsune pin! and James bought me the cutest fox pin—and a Star Wars presence and lots of attendees (and their dogs) in costumes or t-shirts. We stayed an hour or two, also went to the candy store to get James some sugar-free candy and to the British store. Discovered a new Italian market/café is going to open downtown!

The preceding day was cold and rainy, so we stayed in all day and James made biscuits in the air fryer. They were so good! I spent the day reading Barbara Feldon's book Getting Smarter, some about her time on Get Smart, but mostly about her relationship with Lucien Feldon, who turned out not at all what he portrayed himself to Barbara. I was surprised that she believed some of his wilder stories.

In other news, I posted the conclusion of a fanfiction, finally put up the knife holder I bought for James (we mounted it on a cupboard door, having no other space for it), and went to Sam's Club and bought some nice sirloin steaks.

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» Sunday, February 25, 2024
Saying Farewell
On Saturday, exactly a month since she passed away, Lin Butler's memorial service was held. There were memories, of course, from her husband and sons, and from family members, several more from friends. We cried a little, smiled and chuckled at some memories, hugged each other, and greeted some friends we hadn't seen in awhile, including Carrie, Bill Gould, and Trudy and Al.

Juanita did a lovely thing: she collected hundreds of beautiful shells from the beach, cleaned and dried them, and left them out for people to take as souvenirs; not only that, she made up special bags of shells for individual friends. It was the sweetest thing. After the service a big group of us went to eat and chat more at O'Charley's.

A odd thing happened at the funeral home. I was surprised when we were seated in the rear to be next to a big highboy dresser that was the spitting image of the one my mother and dad had, complete with the fan pattern and slim legs with rounded "feet," same color. It was part of the set we had to sell (well, Queen Anne really wasn't either of our styles) after my mom died to get money to live on. My godmother's brother gave us cash for it. We had no safe place to keep it, so we stored it under the dog's crate. When we'd take money out for groceries we'd call it "the first national bank of Willow."

Oddly enough when I walked to the opposite side of the reception hall, they also had a glass-fronted secretary that was identical to the one my godmother had. It was as if Mom and Padina were there to comfort me.

Otherwise it was a quiet week. Now that I had a new battery for my hedge clipper, I finished trimming down that bush at the front of the street that was obstructing James' (and, I'm certain, everyone else on the street!) view when making a left turn.

We found the Indian grocery store that Jerry recommended, Patel's, which is near the old Sears at Town Center. A whole aisle of spices! And of course lots and lots of I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't had a screaming headache. Ever since the trees started blooming my headaches have bloomed right along with them.

The podiatrist looked at James' toe again. I have been unsatisfied by its healing progress. She agreed with me that it wasn't healing as well as she wanted it to, either; all it seems to be doing is developing a callus around the soft spot. She didn't think it was infected, though; she told me to stop using the betadyne (some day I will discover what podiatry's "thing" with betadyne is) and replace it with metahoney.

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» Sunday, February 18, 2024
Hearts and...More Books, Of Course
This was a week of getting tiny things done (like mending), Valentine's Day, and of a short trip that ended in a rather blah manner.

The best news was that I finished the taxes, sent the state their $28, and anticipated the refund. James had them charge him the full tax rate when he cashed out his 401K, but we made so little this year he's getting it all back. We'll do what he did with the 401K money, put it toward his credit card, because those individual physiotherapy/Kaiser bills add up fast.

We don't do much for Valentine's Day anymore. It was a nice day, so after physical therapy we stopped at Walmart. We bought yogurt and sugar-free candy, but most of what I wanted I just had to order. Walmart is nowhere near stocked the way it used to be. We also stopped at an Indian grocery store in the same shopping center (we thought it was the one Jerry recommended, but it wasn't). To my surprise, they had jars of lupini beans. Of course I grabbed some; nice to have them on this side of town. For supper we had the shrimp we got at Publix in a scampi sauce with spaghetti, with caramel-center dark chocolate hearts for dessert. His Valentine gift arrived in the mail that evening just in time: I got him a set of accessories for his air fryer. He bought me Ali Hazelwood's Bride.

On Friday we did something we hadn't done for a while: went to the Barnes & Noble in Buckhead. It was a good bookstore trip, but we ended up eating at IHOP on the way home. I don't want to eat here anymore; any meal I'm interested in gives me heartburn, and I won't eat eggs, and I don't want total carbs (like pancakes or French toast) for dinner.

Did more books on Sunday: 2nd and Charles trip, but didn't buy anything. James also went in Hobbytown while I stayed outside and read--I was in the midst of a rather absorbing story. Sunday was also the day we watched Oppenheimer. Interesting filming technique--but "Oppy" seemed like a weird duck. Glad I saw it, but don't ever see myself watching it again.

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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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