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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» Monday, April 28, 2003
Friday Five (late because Blogger was down when I tried to post!)

1. What was the last TV show you watched?

You're Home with Kitty Bartholemew. Well, it was on the TV when we turned it on this morning.

2. What was the last thing you complained about and what was the problem?

Knocking the birdcage over. I was too much in a hurry. Bandit landed in the towel at the bottom, rather surprised.

3. Who was the last person you complimented and what did you say?

I told Bandit he was pretty.

4. What was the last thing you threw away?

The paper towel I used to wipe the bird's water dish.

5. What was the last website (besides this one) that you visited?

Atlanta traffic report.


» Thursday, April 24, 2003
Learning Something Every Day

While reading Agnes McClelland Dawson's From Sioux to Susan (story of a harum-scarum minister's daughter), came upon the use of "cubebs" or "cubeb cigarettes." (Haughty classmate of heroine Sue Roberts gets her into trouble by substituting real cigarettes for the "cubebs" Sue swears she has.)

Since everything seems to be on the web, I Googled "cubeb" and found it is a peppery type spice that, among other things, was smoked in the last century as relief for a headcold (or as the one website reprint of a nineteeth century text referred to it, "nasal catarrh," which makes it sound worse than it is). You learn a little something every day...


Thursday Threesome

Onesome: View- What is your favorite scenic site, either around your place, where you've traveled, or just that one special picture (like that Ansel Adams "Half Dome" shot)?

Oooh, hard one. Lots of contenders: the view from Prospect Mountain at Lake George, NY, in the fall--heck, anywhere in Vermont/New Hampshire/New York during autumn leaf season. The Shenandoah Valley's mighty pretty as well. And there's this one particular place...I have no idea if it still looks the same; last time I drove through there was 1978. But it's on Interstate 80 heading west, in the Eastern part of Pennsylvania. Eastern Pennsylvania, incidentally, is one of those places that, when God was giving out scenery, got in line twice. But this one particular spot: as you drive you're on a cut in the side of the Alleghenies. To your right the side of the mountain goes up almost vertically, covered in trees, and to your left all you can see is trees as well. Suddenly you come around a curve and in front of you is a beautiful valley of farmland--tiny barns, homes, cattle, woodlots, fields, vehicles--as far as the eye can see. Simply lovely. Makes me wistful just to think of it.

But my sentimental favorite is this:

This is Brenton Point in Newport, Rhode Island.

Twosome: From- How far is it from home to work? Are you a long distance commuter or do you just schlep on into the dining room/office?

Schlepping sounds lovely. It's 28 excruciating miles one way.

Threesome: Afar- for the travelers out there, just how far have you gone? I mean, is the trip to Grandma's about it? ...or have you made it farther abroad?

I've lost count--I've been in at least 35 of the 50 states--would like to make it to Alaska some day. (Hawaii holds no charms; I don't want to go anywhere warm.) Never made it "truly" abroad--going to Great Britain is my dream--but have been out of the country, to Quebec, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls including a lovely little town right on Lake Ontario called Niagara-on-the-Lake, and to Canada's Wonderland north of Toronto. (Also have been in Montreal, but didn't see anything of the city; went to Expo '67.)


» Monday, April 21, 2003
In Search of a Sugarless Nirvana

When James hadn't shown up by eight, I figured there was just a long wait at the doctor's office.

He'd had a persistent rash for about a month, and when over-the-counter drugs failed to cure it, the next step was the doctor. To lose the least amount of time at work, he'd made an appointment for 6 p.m. on April 8.

At ten past eight he finally called.

I wasn't to worry, he explained. He was just lying down on a gurney being infused with saline because he was dehydrated. Oh, and they'd given him an insulin shot. (All that and I wasn't to worry. Yeah. Sure.)

Kaiser had done their work well: to make sure the rash--which turned out to be a fungal infection--wasn't precipitated by an infection, they'd taken urine and blood samples. And found out his blood sugar was at 386.

Ah, well, we'd been hoping to avoid it, but it came anyway. James' dad was diabetic.

The irony is that over the winter he had made some lifestyle changes: instead of drinking cola all night along with during the day, he was drinking water. And we had both halved our usual dessert portion (a Little Debbie chocolate Swiss roll) to one each instead of two. He'd also lost 14 pounds. Had it happened last summer before the changes we could have understood. Ah, well.

So now he pricks his finger four times a day (he has the neat gadget B.B. King advertises on TV) and keeps score, takes two glyburide a day, and we have several new cookbooks and are looking at our diet to cut out starches and sugars. I've noticed a lot of the diabetic diet books have massive sections about how to still have satisfying desserts instead of sweet-laden cakes, pies, danish, etc. Another irony is that despite both our overweight conditions we've never been into these big fancy desserts, except perhaps a treat every three months if we went to Olive Garden and had Black Tie mousse cake or the Death by Chocolate cake at Spaghetti Warehouse. Usually three chocolate Oreos and a glass of milk, or the aforementioned Swiss Roll would do. And me, I'm more likely to nibble on the monthly loaf of French bread or a sandwich bun than go for highly-sugared treats, which I really don't like. (I'm Italian...bread is a major food group all by's hardwired into my psyche. LOL.)

Right now we're trying different things: the sugarless cake (much too dry), Diet Rite Cola (it's made with sucralose rather than aspartame, which gives James migraines), more veggies and less starches, even a long walk yesterday with the dog.

I just thank God I never developed a taste for soda--the Coca Cola seems to be the hardest thing he's had to give up!


» Friday, April 18, 2003
Friday Five

1. Who is your favorite celebrity?

Rupert Holmes. (But I'd have to be honest and say Lassie as well. {wink})

2. Who is your least favorite?

One? How can you narrow so many obnoxious people down to one? For starters how about Gilbert Gottfried, Adam Sandler, Carrottop, and Martin Short?

3. Have you ever met or seen any celebrities in real life?

Yes, have met and spoken to Rupert Holmes and part of the cast of one of the top ten television series of all time, Remember WENN (Amanda Naughton, Kevin O'Rourke, Melinda Mullins, Hugh O'Gorman, Tom Beckett, Carolee Carmello, and the late George Hall). Also Dave Allen, the British comedian. Now if you're counting "seen" as in "seen in concert/performance": Lassie, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Gallagher, the Moody Blues, Jimmy Buffett, Gene Roddenberry, and Mark Russell. And if you want to add people I've seen/chatted with at science fiction conventions, then this list would be endless: most of the cast of Star Trek, Babylon 5, several Dr. Who and Blake's 7 actors, Isaac Asimov, Tommy Kirk, Erin Gray, etc.

4. Would you want to be famous? Why or why not?

Famous? Probably not. Too much trouble with hangers-on and weirdos. But I would like to have that money to do as I like and not have to fiddle with numbers all the time.

5. If you had to trade places with a celebrity for a day, who would you choose and why?

Rupert Holmes. He gets to write (both music and prose) for a living.


» Thursday, April 17, 2003
Thursday Threesome

Onesome: Family- Hmmm... It seems like this weekend is a get together time for some people. How about you? Do you have a family gig to attend this weekend? Hosting one? ...or are you spending the weekend doing weekend things?

No weekend get-togethers here. We haven't even decided on Easter dinner yet. When I was a kid it was a big family thing: we'd have dinner (ham) at home then go to my grandfather's house. My mom would make rice pies (something, for all my love of rice in soup, I never liked) and of course wine biscuits, and the aunts all did the same. One brave aunt who didn't mind all the work might make wandis, which are delicious fried pastries--think of a long three-inch wide strip of dough that has been wound in and out of itself so it is like a big loose knot which is deep fried to a golden yellow and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. I'd shake most of the sugar off and crunch away...

Twosome: Waffle- Okay, here's the tough one: Waffles or Pancakes? You should hear the discussions in some households! ...and what about those Belgian things? Inquiring minds want to know!

Biscuits! Seriously, James makes biscuits on Sunday morning. When I go to the IHOP I sometimes have pancakes. The Silver Dollar ones are all I can finish. We've gotten Aunt Jemima waffles for at home but most of the time if we do that we buy French toast.

Threesome: & Grill- The outdoor cooking season is close at hand! For those who live large outdoors, are we talking grilling or barbecuing? If you enjoy cooking outside, what is your specialty? ...and for the indoor crowd: do you cook anything reminiscent of outdoor cookery?

James likes to grill, but we do it inside on the George Foreman grill. There's no real place outside we can grill without being attacked by mosquitos and the grill died a couple of years back anyway. We've never been able to justify spending the money on a new one because of not wanting to spend all that long in the yard.


» Monday, April 14, 2003
Friday Five
(late because things have been "up in a heavel")

1. What was the first band you saw in concert?

James took me to see the Moody Blues in...Macon, I think. I hated it. We had seats right near the speakers and it was so loud you couldn’t hear the music. I spent the entire concert with one ear against his shoulder and my finger in the other ear. Peter, Paul and Mary a few years later were a definite improvement. Almost saw John Denver once, but when I couldn’t get anyone to go with me, I sold the ticket I’d bought.

2. Who is your favorite artist/band now?

Hm. Tie between George Winston and Rupert Holmes, but always leaning toward the latter. :-)

3. What's your favorite song?

“The Impossible Dream” sung by Richard Kiley.

4. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?

Organ...which I can play after a fashion. I just haven’t in years. I keep being tempted by Casio and/or Yamaha keyboards and then figure it would just be something else to dust.

5. If you could meet any musical icon (past or present), who would it be and why?

Gosh. One? Irving Berlin. George Gershwin. Rodgers and Hammerstein. You know, people who could write real music, not the tripe I heard playing the other day with x-rated lyrics about naked women in bed. Urgh.


» Thursday, April 10, 2003
Thursday Threesome

Time to: Are you a punctual person, always on time? Or do people have to tell you that everything starts an hour earlier than it really does, just so you'll be on time? Or are you somewhere in between?

I'd say somewhere in between, although lately it seems as if I'm always behind somehow. A coupon gets forgotten, the printer runs too long, I start working on a web page and time disappears. But if we need to be on time, we are.

Spring: After a long week, what puts a spring in your step? How do you spend your downtime?

By not getting up early. I'm a night person. I've been a night person since I was a baby and woke my mom up--good thing she didn't have a job outside the house--to play in the wee hours of the morning. I only get rested up well on the weekends, and then it's back to six hours sleep at the most and getting lightheaded under the fluorescents. Downtime? I like to read, watch the occasional DVD, work on web pages, commune with the budgie, and spend time with "the mister."

Forward: As we enter Daylight Savings Time and the clocks spring forward, do you like having that "extra" hour of daylight or would you rather just not mess with it? Or do you live in an area that doesn't follow DST?

A question on which I have very strong feelings. I hate, hate, hate Daylight Saving Time. Maybe it was all those great books I got dragged away from by being forced to "go out and play in the fresh air" (read "bitten by every mosquito west of the Providence River"), but I've hated DST since I was a kid. It being light outside didn't change my bedtime!

It's still annoying, in fact even more so. Last week I was driving to work in the daylight, just after sunrise, granted, but it was daylight. Now it's pitch-bloody-dark again. Mornings are supposed to be light. Night is supposed to be dark. What on earth do we need an extra hour of daylight for anyway? It was fine during World Wars I and II, when this nonsense started. Factories didn't have the type of lighting we do now and many of them relied on the natural light coming in through big walls of windowpanes and through skylights. That extra hour, and in some cases extra two hours (there was something called "Double War Time" in WWII) was a godsend to munitions factories, aircraft plants, farmers, etc. Now all buildings have adequate lighting and all playgrounds and parks have big floodlights. Farm equipment includes large floods as well. Kids are usually at organized activities, not playing on the streets, and the ones who are–well, remembering my own childhood, dark never stopped us from playing. We'd gather under streetlights or stop under the outside lights of someone's house.

The big "thing" about DST is it is supposed to "save energy" because you don't have to turn your lights on as early. What is forgotten is that in most places in the summer it doesn't start to get cooler until the sun goes down. So while you don't have to put your lights on in that hour, your air conditioner, which sucks many times more power than those few incandescent lights, is still roaring on "high" because it's broiling outside. From my POV, DST causes more energy use, not less. I've never heard of power problems when people turn on all their Christmas lights. I have heard of brownouts and even blackouts when every air conditioner in town is blasting under the merciless summer sun.


» Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Check out H(M)otel 128


Talk about traveling in time. When I saw this I was "Little Rosie" again, as in the "Rose is Rose" comic strip, about eight years old and watching the world from the right-side backseat of our black 1958 Chevrolet Impala (oh-so-imaginatively dubbed "Blackie").

My dad's youngest sister had married a man who was in the home construction field. Later in the 70s when the housing boom died in New England they moved down to Maryland, then to Florida. But at this particular time, the early Sixties, they lived in Peabody, Massachusetts along with their adopted daughter. My dad's youngest brother worked with him at the time, and he, his wife, and his son, a couple of years older than myself, lived nearby in Beverly. Before my mom got a part-time job to supplement our income and we could go to more "touristy" places, our yearly vacation consisted of spending a week with each family.

Each household had its own charms. Dad's brother lived in a place that was right on the street, like photos you see of English homes: a sidewalk, a step, a door, and you are in the house. The land sloped down in the back of the property, so you had to descend a long wooden staircase to the back yard to play with the English springer spaniel, Jeff, who ate Cocoa Puffs for breakfast and was that great miracle to an allergic kid, a pet dog! His wife didn't buy groceries at any old neighborhood store like we did: she shopped at an "exotic" supermarket called an "IGA." Dad's sister had a modern ranch house with radiant heat in the floor--so nice to pad on warm floors in the morning!--and a refrigerator built directly into the cabinets (it seemed so odd to find the milk right next to the cabinet the cereal was kept in). But the big hit here was the big inground pool, which my uncle seemed to clean more than he swam in. Both aunts took us to that most exciting of all places, a real shopping mall--oh, not enclosed in those days, but a mall just the same, with all those "foreign" Boston stores: Jordan Marsh, Filenes, Marshalls. My very first tricycle came from Jordan Marsh.

Aside from vacations, though, every month or two we'd wake up early on a Sunday morning and "go to Massachusetts." Originally this was a longer drive before Interstate 95 was finished. Dad would swear all the way to Dedham because U.S. 1 was clotted with small towns, traffic lights, and "Sunday drivers." And there was the big glittering attraction of Jolly Cholly's amusement park in North Attleboro, with its huge clown logo, enough to leave a youngster with eyes big as those proverbial saucers pleading "Can we come here some time?"

Dedham was a relief because that's when you reached Route 128 (otherwise known as "the New England Circumferential Highway"--don't worry, no one actually called it that). It was one of the first freeways in the area and once you got on you didn't have to worry about a traffic light (except for one stretch of road almost to Peabody). Being on 128 was almost like being home. We'd get on at Exit 63 and I would spend the time counting up to Exit 32, which was where we got off. We passed all the towns with their wonderful English-sounding names: Burlington, Dedham, Lexington, Concord, Needham, Wakefield, Wrentham. Dad's little joke was "Needham? Just Dedham or Wrentham!" which was high humor to a small child. We passed tempting places like big drive-in theatres and Pleasure Island, the big, big amusement park that had live stage shows with favorite celebrities--Lassie, the Lone Ranger, Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody had appeared there.

The H(M)otel 128 was the sign that you had really "arrived" at 128; it was set right on the intersection of U.S. 1 and Route 128. At that point I had never stayed in a motel that I remembered; we'd gone to Florida when I was three, but all I remember was being hot on the train and playing in the sand, not the motel. And I'd never stayed at an honest-to-God hotel which of course had fantastic things like bellboys and a fancy restaurant and elevators and big, long hallways with moulding and wallpaper and carpeting, like the places rich bachelors lived on TV. What now looks hideously dated, with cookie-cutter pseudo futuristic furniture and bad color combinations, was back then a glimpse of opulent paradise and modernity, of that other world out there that only existed in the square boxed screen of the television, and the gateway to adventure west and north of Boston as well.

Thanks for the memory, Mr. Lileks...


» Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Well, I'm chuffed:

My cousin Kathy's husband, Jeffrey Lanphear, is being sworn in today as a RI Superior Court judge. Jeff sat in front of me in home room all three years in high school and was always a nice guy. Congrats, Jeff!


» Saturday, April 05, 2003
Routine Yearly Tasks

Yearly checkup for budgerigar: $131.00
Five pounds Fiesta mix seed for budgerigar: $4.49
Millet for treat for budgerigar: $2.95

Cute little budgerigar: Priceless.

Love ya, Bandit.


» Friday, April 04, 2003
Friday Five

1. How many houses/apartments have you lived in throughout your life?

Eight. Seven of them in the past 19 years.

2. Which was your favorite and why?

The one I grew up in, because I enjoyed my childhood immensely.

3. Do you find moving house more exciting or stressful? Why?

I have a lot I could write about moving but it all boils down to "moving sucks." If there's anything positive about moving, it's that you discover exactly what is "junk" and what you actually prize.

Now if I actually could build the dream house cited below, moving might be slightly anticipated. But it would never be pleasant.

4. What's more important, location or price?

Ideally, location. Price, unfortunately, will win out most every time.

5. What features does your dream house have (pool, spa bath, big yard, etc.)?

Two-story country-farmhouse type styling. Blue with white trim.

Eat-in gourmet kitchen for James, enough storage space including a separate pantry, and kitchen cupboards with shelves wide enough apart for cereal boxes. Belfast sink (or anything deeper than the shallow puddle sinks they stick in houses these days) and a faucet with big swing handles so you can elbow them on and not have to touch them with greasy hands. Gas cooking (electric stoves...shudder) and a range hood. (Maybe an Aga. They sound cool.) Enough counter-space. Maybe an island. And a nice old-fashioned china cabinet or hutch.

Ceiling fans in every room, but none over the stove, please. Double-paned tilt-in windows and full screens that cover the entire thing. No sliding glass doors. A screened porch to defeat those #$#$!! mosquitoes.

No huge bathrooms, but the master bath just a little larger than the one we have to fit a hamper. Okay, maybe double sinks. Showers with nice strong water pressure. A jacuzzi somewhere would be nice; my shoulder still hurts from the surgery 13 years ago. Walk-in closet in the master bedroom.

Lots of electrical plugs everywhere; phone jacks and cable connections in all rooms. A built-in vacuum system. Shades, no #$#@#$! blinds. Washer and dryer upstairs with the bedrooms where it belongs (front loading washer). A den with good air circulation (complete with a home-theatre system with a plasma-screen TV and a progressive-scan region-free DVD player). Linen closet(s). An air conditioner large enough for the entire house. An easy-access attic. A separate downstairs hobby room (in/off garage?) for James so I don't have to smell glue, paint, and fixative after he builds a model (oh, yeah, he wants a spray booth while we're wishing). A front or back entryway with room for coats, hats, umbrellas and the rest (it needn't be large; just exist).

A yard big enough for a small dog to run around in, no more, some trees for shade and lots of lilac bushes and one nice dark-red rosebush. Oh, and a big satellite dish, the kind that gets wildfeeds.

The two necessities: a room just for the books, with big tall bookcases back-to-back library style to fit the most books. Empty bookshelves for more books. This would have a fireplace with a gas log and nice comfy chairs to read in. Or maybe a window seat! Nice hardwood floor with a rag rug...which brings us to...

...NO CARPET. EVER. ANYWHERE. (Okay, maybe in the den.) Hardwood floors, pergo, vinyl in the bathroom and the kitchen. No carpet, no carpet, no carpet ever, ever again...

(Oh, did I mention it's in New Hampshire?) (Where it's cool and I figure I'll keep better...ooops, sorry, Rhoda flashback...)


» Thursday, April 03, 2003
Speaking of flowers, my HMO has decided that the new over-the-counter prescription-strength Claritin is good enough for my allergy and has taken me off Allegra. When I asked the pharmacist about it yesterday--worried about possible interactions with my beta-blocker--she did add that it might take a "few days" to start working properly.

I hope it hurries up. Even with the pollen as high as its been--over 3000 of whatever they use to measure the damn stuff--the Allegra has been keeping it at bay. I've barely had any symptoms at all. This morning, after the first dose of Claritin, my right sinus is stuffed, my right ear is ringing, my nose is running, my eyes are itchy, and, predictably with all these allergic signs, I'm sleepy. What goes with this stuff?

Of course I still miss Seldane...Allegra worked fine but nowhere as good as the Seldane ever did.


Thursday Threesome

Onesome: April Showers- What the heck? Snow again in the East (and other places) over the weekend? How are the heck are we supposed to get out into the garden? What's the forecast for this weekend where you are?

60s and rainy. Ugh. Give me "jacket weather" (50s) and partly cloudy any day.

Twosome: Bring- Bring in the clowns! Yeah, do you get any help around the garden (house/apartment)? ...or when it comes to flowers, are you the Lone Arranger?

Are you asking about the garden or the house? The kitchen is James' domain. He cooks, loads the dishwasher, cleans the stove and counters. I sometimes wash some dishes by hand, really clean the counters, wipe the front of the oven and dishwasher, and keep the floor swept. He'll carry the vacuum cleaner upstairs and move stuff when I vacuum. On other things it's a plead basis.

In the garden he mowed and I weed-ate. Now we have someone to do it for us. We'll still have to go out and spray and treat for fire ants. (Bugs. I hate bugs.)

I arrange silk flowers--does that count?

Threesome: May Flowers- Ah, yes, posies and pretties for everyone to enjoy... How about you? What is your favorite flower? ...and not only to receive: what do you enjoy growing at your place?

I don't enjoy growing anything. If it's growing outside, I'm allergic to it. James has learned flowers for a special occasion will only make me sneeze. We had two rose bushes. The yellow one seems to have died over the winter. {sigh} The thing I enjoy most is keeping the holly/box hedge short.

That babbled, I like lilacs best. They don't grow here (or grow well here) because it never gets cold enough in the winter, I'm told.


» Wednesday, April 02, 2003
In today's AP news, there is an article about actor Robert Conrad being involved in a car accident and possibly being DUI at the time. Under a photo of him as the character of Pasquinel is the following caption: "Actor Robert Conrad is shown in Colorado in this 1978 file photo taken during the making of the television adaptation of his book 'Centennial.'"

His book? Boy, this is going to come as a big surprise to fans of James Michener...