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, November 30, 2003
And It's Off...
The chair and phone stand are now with Goodwill.

I was so intent on getting this done that I never put up the first of the Christmas decorations for the first Sunday of Advent.


» Saturday, November 29, 2003
Shifting Around is Hard to Do
We've just started the massive effort it's going to be to reorganize the den.

How can I briefly describe this room--without boring you senseless--so you might understand what we're doing? Used to be a one-car garage. Now paneled and carpeted (sadly with really cheap carpet; it's coming out in carpet strings). Double glass doors, only one which opens, replaced garage door. A small "entry" around the doors is parquet wood.

As you come in the door, directly on your left is a secretary (on the same wall as the door), then lined up on the left wall are a bookcase of reference books/computer supplies, a computer desk, printer stand, telephone stand, sofa, end table which holds unread books/some art supplies made out of half of a white plastic etagere, a rolling videotape cabinet. On the right side as you come in is another computer desk (on the same wall as the door); lined up on the right is then the door to the furnace closet, a big papasan chair, the other half of the plastic etagere holding Bandit's cage/supplies, a gap for the doorway to upstairs, the encyclopedia bookcase, an armchair, and a bookcase with cross-stitch magazines and books about the English language.

Against the back wall is a video cabinet, speaker on a stand, the entertainment center, the other speaker, another bookcase with the media books, and a tower bookcase with reference books (with some wooden TV trays stuck in the corner).

In front of the sofa is a coffee table. A recliner set facing one end of the coffee table makes L-shape seating area facing the TV; it has a rolling TV stand "end table" next to it.

You betcha it sounds crowded. It is crowded, and this is, compared to the other rooms in the house, a huge room, about 15'x25'.

One of many bad things about this arrangement is that the television faces the glass doors, and even with blinds, the light comes in during the day and washes out the screen. Considering the television is ten years old and the brightness knob is all the way up and some scenes are still dark, washing out the screen ain't doing it any good. :-) We wanted it against the right wall, where the armchair is presently, but we didn't have a co-ax cable long enough the day we moved in, and we weren't going to tell the friends who were kindly helping move us in bloody 99F degree weather to wait while we ran to Radio Shack.

So the plan is (a) to get rid of a bit of the clutter and (b) eventually move the television either against that wall or into that corner. The corner looks to be ahead in the race at the moment, since we want to get a little bigger television screen next time. We can't afford a plasma and the bigger the set, the more tube sticks out in the back. Hence the corner setup.

The armchair and the telephone stand are going to Goodwill. We have company occasionally, but not enough to justify keeping the chair. No one ever sits in it except maybe twice a year. It ends up holding the recharging cords for the PDA and the phone.

To replace the phone stand, at least at the moment, and this is the step we took today: I removed the two halves of the etagere, the bookshelf half and the bird stand half, took them completely apart to scrub them, then reincorporated them into one tall piece. With the sofa moved "up" about six inches, this will replace the phone stand and also hold the unread books, art supplies, phone books we're planning to keep (we never use the residential and we haven't gotten a new Yellow Pages since we moved into the house), and maybe, if I'm lucky, bits like the Kleenex box and the scrapbook I started and never finished. "We'll see."

Ah, but what about Bandit?

Well, I emptied the encyclopedia bookcase, cleaned it, reversed it and repositioned it to replace the part of the etagere that held his cage, and refilled it. Then James put together one of those small white MDF shoe racks to sit on top of it. Voila, Bandit is on top of the rack, with his food and the budgie books sitting under him.

It looks a little odd, as the other was open and this has a brown backing, but Bandit has to have something to sit on. He's up a bit higher than he's used to, but only about two or three inches. It hasn't seemed to faze him.

With the bookcase moved we can now get the chair the heck out of there.

One of the other things I want to ultimately do is somehow reverse the bookcase near the door so its back faces the side of the computer desk. I can then put the secretary where the bookcase was. This will make a small vestibule. On the blank wall the secretary once occupied we can either use the exisiting hooks on the wall or get new ones and use those to keep our coats on. At present the coats hang on the door to the furnace closet and are in James' way.

I also vacuumed upstairs and downstairs today and washed another load of clothes and went to Sears to pick up my new glasses with the progressive lenses that are driving me nuts right now and stopped at Michael's for a new nightlight for the kitchen. Can you say "pooped"? I can.


» Friday, November 28, 2003
A'Hunting We Will Go...
"Black Friday" shopping: Into the fray, just a bit under the weather...check out Holiday Harbour


Friday Five

1. Do you like to shop? Why or why not?

Depends on the item. My dad used to say I could scent a bookstore at five miles. :-) I like media stores and book stores. I go shopping for clothing and shoes only under duress. Clothes, shoes, and jewelry bore the living daylights out of me.

2. What was the last thing you purchased?

LOL. The inspection on my car.

3. Do you prefer shopping online or at an actual store? Why?

I like to look at most things I buy, so I would say in an actual store. However, when I know what I want, online. It's usually cheaper and most of the places I order there's no postage and no tax.

4. Did you get an allowance as a child? How much was it?

I got my first allowance at age nine in 1965. It was a quarter. Used to take me three weeks to save up for a paperback book (read "the newest Get Smart novel"). Drove me nuts. :-)

5. What was the last thing you regret purchasing?

The salad greens I bought for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Usually I get greens fresh at Harry's, but they'd replaced the greens with herbs when we went on Sunday. I had to buy packaged greens which (1) were limp, (2) had spinach [barf!] in it, and (3) the Chinese endive wasn't sour. Ugh.


» Thursday, November 27, 2003
The festivities go on at Holiday Harbour


Thursday Threesome

Onesome. Happy. When you think about being happy, what comes to mind? Is there something that always gives you a smile no matter how down you may be?

My husband, my mother, my budgie, and our dog.

Twosome. Thanksgiving. In the US, it's Thanksgiving. But we can all be thankful. Tell us, what are YOU thankful for?

My husband, my mother, my budgie, and our dog. And our friends, some of whom we had dinner with today.

Threesome. 2003. It's getting close to the end of another year. As you begin to reflect back, pick out a couple of good things that have happened this year. Yeah, we all have the bad, but today, just focus on the good!

Good? Vacation, even if the first half of the week was hot. Seeing a real Broadway play for the first time. Decluttering more junk out of the house. Bandit making it through another year.


» Monday, November 24, 2003
Not Already!
Check out Holiday Harbor"


Monday Madness

1. How many books have you read in the past year?

You want me to count? Are you kidding? I'd say at least 52, one for each week of the year, but it's much more.

2. What book should be banned based on its boring subject matter?

Math books. of course. :-)

3. What book should be (or should have been) on the 'best seller' list but wasn't?

Oh, gosh, I don't pay attention to Best Seller lists. It's either that Oprah's book club stuff about abused women and their horrible lives or some slop fake romance novel or something with a ton of sex and violence in it. Can't anyone tell a good story anymore?

4. What time of the day do you do most of your reading?

In the evening. (Unless I have a long daytime bathroom visit. [wry grin])

5. If you were to write a book, what would be its title?

I'm gonna worry about a plot before I worry about a title!


Out, Out, Damn Clutter
Spent the weekend pleasantly if frenetically at times doing more decluttering of the household, specifically the kitchen and a rearrangement of the food.

One of the things we did was donate to Goodwill the canister set we received as a wedding gift. It was a lovely canister set, stoneware in white and blue, but it was, sadly, essentially useless. None of the containers was airtight. That means although I had flour in the flour canister, because we didn't bake every week (or even every month), any time we did bake I'd end up getting a new bag of flour because I didn't know how fresh the flour in the canister was. On Saturday we had the canister full of flour of indeterminate age and three half bags of flour behind it. I tossed it all except the newest bag of flour that James bought for the latest batch of sugar-free cookies.

We keep our sugar in a big square Rubbermaid container, and the Sugar canister instead contained wheat flour. I think we bought it when we got the breadmaker, three years ago. Out it went.

The Coffee canister was empty and the Tea canister had peppermint tea in it.

Cleaned the canisters and off they went to Goodwill to make someone else happy.

To replace canisters we bought airtight (well, I guess as "airtight" as you can make a gadget like that) clear containers called "ClicClacs" at Linens'n'Things with the coupons we had. The two larges ones now hold five pounds of flour and the big Bisquick box (six pounds) from Sam's. Smaller ones hold "pioneer porridge" from Nora Mills, steel-cut oats, soy flour, and the biscuits James made for breakfast yesterday morning. Also being used are three glass "goose canisters" that have rubber rings (like on canning jars) and are pretty much essentially airtight, too, and two small "apothecary" jars from JoAnn (love those 50 percent off coupons!) which are tightly sealed.

We also cleaned out the two big pantry cabinets. We had foods in there that were still good, but that James could no longer eat because of the diabetes: puddings, cake mixes, extra baking sugar, honey-sweetened cereal, etc. We packed it all up in two photocopy paper boxes and left it next to the food collection barrels at Publix. It would be a sin to just throw it out and waste it.

With the food gone, James' fruits and juices, which were taking up so much room on top of the microwave, are now in the cabinet, the flour and Bisquick container taking their place. Since all the containers are now clear, we'll know when they are growing low instead of guessing. And the airtight ones will keep their contents fresher.

Each of the cabinets also has its own whiteboard, on which I have an index of what is kept on each shelf. These have been redone.


» Saturday, November 22, 2003
Where Were You?
November 22, 1963


» Friday, November 21, 2003
The Friday Five

1. List five things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the year.

Get more things decluttered and out of the house. Finish one cross-stitch. Get more books read. Dispose of the extra chair in the den. Do at least some small redecorating, like putting those shelves up. (Yes, dear, this is a hint.)

2. List five people you've lost contact with that you'd like to hear from again.

Yes, but would they want to hear from me again? Okay, I'd like to say hi to Diane who used to share history books with me in junior high. (Long story.) An old friend from Boston, Abby, who I believe may be remarried. Come to think of it, a couple of old friends from Boston. And my ninth-grade English teacher, Charles Abosamra.

3. List five things you'd like to learn how to do.

JavaScript. CSS. Convert .mp3s to CD format so I can send my mom some radio shows. How to not spend all weekend shopping for groceries. And how to let go without a lot of pain.

4. List five things you'd do if you won the lottery (no limit).

Didn't I do this one yesterday? New house, new cooler location, new PT cruiser, housekeeper for my mom. Oh, and a new computer.

5. List five things you do that help you relax.

Read, read, read, read, read...oh, wait...

Read, create web pages, snuggle with the birdie, listen to Christmas music, watch the idiot box.


» Thursday, November 20, 2003
Birthday Treat
Speaking of Fibber and Molly -- wasn't I? :-) -- I just treated myself to an early birthday present: a copy of Charles Stumpf's book Heavenly Days.


3 for Thursday

Jaz is being thought-provoking:

If you could do ANYTHING you wanted (let's say you had magical powers or something)...

1. What would be the first 3 things you'd do for other people?

How "magical" are we getting here? Do we have Godlike powers or can we simply conjure money/houses/etc. out of thin air?

If I get Godlike powers I'd make all my chronically relatives, especially my mom, and friends well again with a cure for what's wrong with them so other people with the same illnesses get well, too. If not I want to create a big research facility that's magically perpetually funded to find the cure for all the nasty things. I'd say that takes up three wishes right there. Oh, yeah, and that housekeeper for my mom, too...

2. What would be the first 3 things you'd do for yourself?

Again, if we're going Godlike I'd like to be totally well, with no allergies. Um, if not, I'd still conjur up the new house, a PT cruiser, and some incidental cash (to stock the new house, of course--plasma screen TV and DVD recorder here I come).

3. What would be the first 3 things you'd do to your enemies?

Tricky one. Do I have any enemies? I mean, my bosom enemy is numbers in general. :-) I can't very well get rid of the things; society would collapse. I hope I don't have any human enemies--although I'm not naïve enough to believe that everyone likes me. Question sounds a little...vengeful, doesn't it? I mean, I'd really like to zap Saddam Hussain, Osama Bin Laden, and other dictators/bullies...but do I have that right? If I take revenge, aren't I as bad as they are?

On the other hand there's something to be said for zapping all dictators/torturers/murderers/child molesters with slow, painful illnesses. At least severe menstrual cramps (and the resulting icky discharge) perpetually for the rest of their lives...


Put to Good Use
Those AOL tins you get in the mail: I'm using them to store the CDs I've burned of old radio shows downloaded from the Internet.


Thursday Threesome

I think I'll answer these over at Holiday Harbour today, since the subject is appropriate.

Deb at Thursday Threesome did have an interesting question this week:

when i grow up

When I was a little girl, there were many things I said I would do when I grew up. And more I said I would NEVER do when I was a grown up!

I was reminded of it recently when I got a Swiss Colony catalog. Have you ever seen those little petit fours? Oh, I swear, when I was little, we would get that catalog EVERY year. And my mother never ordered from it! I said that when I was a grown-up, I would order from the Swiss Colony catalog and order myself some of those cute little petit fours. Have it done it, though? Nope.

What about you? When you were little, what did you swear YOU were gonna do when you grew up or had kids of your own? Come on now, fess up...

LOL. I said I wanted an apartment in Boston and was going to write books. You can see how well that worked out.

However, I did do something I said I would do as a kid: buy all the books I ever wanted as a kid. The moment I went to work, I started buying all those Marguerite Henry and Trixie Belden books my folks could never afford. Oh, and when the Internet came along, it was like heaven. I remember the year I drove my mom crazy trying to find a copy of Charlotte Baker's The Green Poodles, which I adored. I found that online, and all the other books I loved in the school library: Frances Frost's Windy Foot, Anne H. White's animal books, Kate Seredy's The Open Gate and The Chestry Oak, What Katy Did and its sequels, etc.


» Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Living With Ye Neurotic Hunde
As I've mentioned before, Willow developed a problem with thunder out of the blue when she was about two or three. Since we can't/won't let her bunk in with us, she stays safe by curling up in the spare room next door, either on a sheet I lay on the futon or under the birdcage. (It's almost as if she figures Bandit can protect her. [snort] A 38-gram budgie watching over a 17-pound dog...)

Last night it was predicted that we might have thunderstorms, but none came our way despite an almost constant drumming downpour. But somehow Willow must have equated hard rain with thunder, because she clung to us all night as if it were thundering: usually our TV-watching or antics online with the "not a walk" bore her and she retreats to snooze in her crate until James sits in his recliner and she can have a snuggle in his lap. This time she was next to James or next to me all night, and she sat in his lap through an entire episode of NYPD Blue when she usually can't settle for more than 15 minutes.

All night she had on what I call her "Camille face," big piteous brown eyes like the Dame of the Camillas on her deathbed. So when bedtime came and she didn't want to stay downstairs, I figured she heard thunder in the distance and spread out her sheet. But she didn't want to settle there, either, and after the second instance of finding her off the futon, I led her back downstairs, where she promptly rolled on her back looking pitiful, but I said goodnight gently and turned off the light.

She apparently survived the night nicely, James reports. Maybe she was only imagining thunder...who knows?


Toxic Waste
Evidently the Dewclaws were receiving the same type of porn spam we were before I changed e-mail addresses...


» Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Life's Little Irritations
I was sitting on the couch last night with Bandit, enjoying Thanksgiving Unwrapped when my arm felt crawly.

Gawd. Not another ant!

It was 9:30 and pitch dark, which still didn't keep me from putting on my shoes and taking a flashlight and the can of Raid and spraying around both doors and the foundation. Stupid things! And to have to worry about the horrid creatures a couple of days after a hard freeze and in November to boot.

After the sprayfest you could smell the Raid in the den, so Bandit and I decamped upstairs where we watched the first half of Skinwalkers again.

James had come home with the bad news that his cleaners is going out of business. In fact, they weren't even open late enough for him to fetch his shirts, so I'll have to go there after work this week, or on Friday for him. This cleaner was, at the time we started to use it, about 15 cents per dress shirt higher than some down the street, but it was practically across the street and very convenient. Now we'll either have to go about 2 miles down the road or James will have to find someplace on his way to or from work (there used to be a cleaner on Spring Road that was open very early and, as he takes that route in the morning, might be more convenient, but we don't know and we'll have to find something at least for this week).


» Monday, November 17, 2003
Monday Madness

1. Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, when will you be starting?

Started? I'm almost finished. If my mom's gift from ever shows up! And James has to get his mom something. That's it. I shop for Christmas all through the year. I've been known to buy someone's next year gift or upcoming birthday present on the day after Christmas.

[Later: Whaddya know? I complain about it publicly and Amazon ships it. :-) I'm glad because I also have some Christmas music and videos I want to send my mom and, since the Amazon stuff usually comes earlier than I expect it, I might be able to mail her stuff Friday or Saturday morning so she can have it for the day after Thanksgiving. Only one question for ya now, guys--where are my Lassie DVDs????]

2. What are your favorite holiday goodies (baked goods, etc.)?

Wine biscuits. They're an Italian cookie. The recipe is on my Christmas web page. (Cough. The actual link's on the bottom at the moment, until next Thursday is over.)

3. Do you decorate for Christmas? Inside, outside or both? When will you be putting your decorations up?

We will have some decorations outside, a mailbox huggie with a pine wreath and red bows, and a wreath for each front door, but we don't have any outside lights because the dimwit who designed the house didn't put an outdoor plug in the front, only in the back. Duh. I decorate a little each Sunday of Advent, the items I have mentioned on the first Sunday, more things inside on the second. The tree goes up on my birthday, December 11, or the Friday closest to it, and stays up until January 6.


» Sunday, November 16, 2003
We don't really know Bandit's birthdate: we bought him on December 28, 1994, and we knew he was at the Aviarium a few weeks earlier, a just-weaned fledgling, because we had seen him there. So basically I tried to pick out a date I would remember.

(Thankfully James felt sorry for this poor little baby bird alone in his cage looking all skinny and scared. I didn't want to take him home at the time; the apartment complex we were in was going to the dogs. We had the thumping stereo next door, roaches in the kitchen, and the drunken maintenance man downstairs and I was scared every moment of every hour we were away that something was going to happen to him or Leia.)

Today Bandit is nine years old. (And God help me, I remember the date because it's Max and 99's anniversary...)

Budgies have been known to live to 15-20, at least American budgies. The English budgie, which is bred larger, tends to have a shorter lifespan and is more prone to tumors due to interbreeding. Bandit is half English and half American, and the hybrid vigor seems to have carried him along through some really bad times. He got sick the first spring we had him, when he was not even six months old, to the point where he was so dehydrated they had to infuse him. There have been other points in the last nine years where I thought I might have to put him to sleep.

In February of 2002 he started to have trouble breathing when he flew. The vet diagnosed either a liver problem or a tumor. To diagnose it completely, she would have needed to do a barium test on him: infuse him with barium and then take x-rays every five minutes, basically tying the little guy down to do it.

I never had the procedure done. At the time he was in such bad shape I didn't think he'd survive it. If it were a liver problem, she told me, it might--might, mind you--be cured with medication and a complete change of diet. Snort. At that point I'd been trying to change his diet for seven years; Bandit would rather starve than eat pellets--he had demonstrated it at least once a year. I tried cold turkey, gradual substitution...nothing.

If it were a tumor, nothing could be done due to his size, although she told me that a hospital in California was trying to come out with surgeries for small birds. If he were a big macaw or an African grey, with some substance, it would have been worth seeing the horrific numbers. But he's so small, so could I put him through either procedure?

So I end up nursing him along. He pants a bit now, which I try to help by keeping a vaporizer running in his room when the window is closed. I must say that even with the air conditioning during the summer, he improved immediately upon cooler weather. He still loves to kiss and chirp and show off occasionally to the Pretty Bird in the downstairs bathroom mirror.

But he pants terribly just flying back to his cage and prefers to spend most of his nights snuggled up next to my neck, occasionally grinding his beak (a contented gesture in a bird) or softly chirping to me. Sometimes he still jumps on the keyboard when I'm on the computer and manages to type a letter. When I get home from work or an errand he burbles out a song to me--a "while you were out this is what happened" message, I believe, although he may be reciting me the latest storyline to Passions for all I know. :-)--but this is his biggest activity.

He's still eating well, takes an interest in things, and doesn't seem to be in pain, so I'm just going to leave him alone. At that 2002 vet visit, she told me he probably had less than a year to live. He's beaten her prediction by ten months so far.

I tell my mom Bandit's a lot like her, little and tough.

I'll keep caring for him till I can't anymore--and I pray to God often that when the end comes it will be easy for him, 'cause it sure won't be for me...


» Friday, November 14, 2003
OH NO! Disney Treasures Postponement?
Disney's site and a couple of others are still saying a December 2 release for "The Front Lines," "Tomorrowland," "Mickey Mouse in Color Set 2," and "Donald Duck" sets--but Deep Discount DVD,, and several other sale or Disney sites say these sets have been postponed until May 2004. ::sob!::


Trapped in a Running Gag
One of the recurring characters on Fibber McGee and Molly was Teeny (also voiced by Marian Jordan), the little neighborhood girl who was always bedeviling McGee. Teeny is part little girl, part smart-aleck, and occasionally wiser than her years (once she gave McGee a lecture about the love of a good woman).

One of the running gags in the 1941 shows is that Fibber would mention a food item in a non food way in a line of dialog, prompting Teeny to whine "I’m hungry!" (Example: McGee says something is too corny. Teeny asks, "What?" and Fibber repeats "Corny!" Teeny wails back, "I’m hungry!") The exchange on one of the shows we listened to Sunday went something like this after Fibber’s food reference:

"I’m hungry!"

Ever exasperated, Fibber explodes: "You’re always hungry! Don’t they ever feed you at home?"

Teeny says tearfully, "No."

Well, of course ol’ in-reality-softhearted McGee says with concern, "I don’t believe it. You mean they really don’t feed you at home?"

Teeny whimpers, "No." Then she adds, tragically, "They put the food on the table and I have to feed myself!"

James and I have been exchanging this bit of silliness for a week now...


The Friday Five

1. Using one adjective, describe your current living space.


2. Using two adjectives, describe your current employer.

Overly complicated.

3. Using three adjectives, describe your favorite hobby/pasttime.

Absorbing, challenging and rewarding.

4. Using four adjectives, describe your typical day.

Workday? Tedious, frustrating, annoying, and long.

5. Using five adjectives, describe your ideal life.

Active, restful, challenging, non-frustrating, and healthy.


» Thursday, November 13, 2003
Fall Fever Rather Than Spring
Oh, it's so nice out right now! It's sunny and perfectly cloudless and about 52 degrees and the wind is blowing in a way that just pinks your cheeks and energizes your blood. I wish I could go home early and change into something warmer and take the dog for a nice walk!


Oasis No More
Used to be work was the one place I could escape from weird spam e-mails until I changed our e-mail addy a few weeks ago. We'd get the occasional sales spam occasionally, and on one spectacular occasion the "I Love You" virus message (sorry to say, I was one of the people who opened it--it appeared to have come from one of my Bell South vendors, who I trusted). But the odd stuff usually passed us by.

I just got a very strange e-mail from a Mohammed Sawari who is urging everyone to help correct an online encyclopedia called Wikipedia. Apparently the name "old name" of "Mecca" is now insulting and should be "Makkah," and Mr. Sawari is urging people to log on to Wikipedia and correct it.

Huh? I've never heard of "Mecca" being incorrect before. Mr. Sawari states that it's now an insulting term because a British company uses it for a gambling and drinking establishment. "Mecca" has been used for all sorts of desirable locations in the past several hundred years and now it's "incorrect"?

Very strange.


3 for Thursday

Today's looked interesting:

If you won a million dollars...

1. What are the first 3 things you'd buy?

A new house. A PT Cruiser. The services of a housekeeper for my mother.

2. What are 3 things you'd do?

Move somewhere cooler. Take a trip to Great Britain. And never look at another purchase order ever, ever again.

3. What are 3 charities or people you'd give some of the money to?

American Heart Association. Cystic Fibrosis. And an animal charity (not sure which one, but not PETA). Or maybe something that protects old homes and green spaces. There are so many good charities...


Thursday Threesome

Onesome: Envision-- How much television do you watch each week? Are you one of those who can you call up the nightly program schedules for the major networks (and a cable channel or two) in your head? ...or do you have to search the paper to find out when the Thanksgiving Day parade is? (Hint: It's on a Thursday.)

Um, I don't know what to say. The television is usually on all the time. We don't really watch it half the time; we could be reading or online or working on a craft. It's just on for white noise and for Bandit, and if something interesting turns up, we watch it. We know vaguely of what programs we have watched and ones we don't which nights they are on, but the only network show we watch is NYPD Blue.

For instance, last night we finished watching The Screen Savers on TechTV--it's been pretty dull this week, about home video--and just let it run into the next program because we were both busy online. Then I couldn't stand the hosts anymore and changed it to HGTV, but I don't think either of us watched what was on. At nine James put Good Eats on and he watched and I sorta watched the show on sweet potatoes and then Jamie Oliver was on, but all I really watched was the end when he was feeding the baby. Then at ten I was cross-stitching an apple and James was playing Rocket Mania and I noticed Melinda Mullins' episode of M*A*S*H was on, so I watched that and then put the GPTV show about the battleship Wisconsin on but was only half watching it because I had my glasses off.

Most nights it's like that. :-)

Twosome: whirled-- Oh, my! That holiday stuff is coming up soon! Are you ready for Thanksgiving? ...or are you going to be whirling around at the last minute?

Dear, I've been ready for Thanksgiving for months. Oh, you mean food-wise? I think we're probably going to someone's house for dinner, "with the help of God and a few policemen," as my mom says. There's no Harry Potter movie to go to this year. If we do eat at home, we'll have turkey parts, wings, thighs, legs (turkey breast--ugh!), baby carrots, potatoes. Oh, and of course we'll watch the Macy's Parade...but I really miss the old CBS parades {sniffle}. They still have 'em, but they're from different cities now and not as interesting. I loved the original line up: Macy's in New York, J.L. Hudson in Detroit, Gimbel's in Philadelphia, and Eaton's Santa Claus Parade in Toronto. Gimbels is gone, J.L. Hudson has mutated into Target (God help us), and I think they still have the Santa Claus Parade, but Eaton's is gone.

Threesome: peas-- Shine on the the healthy stuff; we really don't care if you eat your vegetables (okay, the mom's here on the Porch do <g>): what are you looking forward to eating on Thanksgiving that you just cannot get the rest of the year?

Actually, nothing. Maybe pumpkin pie, although some supermarket delis sell 'em all year round. The one thing I miss most is squash pie. I guess it's a New England thing--I've never seen one down here, but I don't think I ever saw a sweet potato pie in RI, either. Squash pie is like pumpkin pie, but made with butternut squash instead of pumpkin mix. It has a lighter flavor, but still has that cinnamon-spicy edge.


» Wednesday, November 12, 2003
You Know You're Listening to Too Much Fibber McGee and Molly When... wonder how Harlow Wilcox would have placated Mary Hartman about the waxy yellow buildup on her kitchen floor...


» Monday, November 10, 2003
Speaking of Italian...'s our wedding anniversary today, the big thirteen. We're planning on Olive Garden tonight; James wants to try that new stuffed chicken marsala they've been advertising.

[N.B. Nov. 11--he said it was great. I had the three-meat ravioli and we had the Black Tie mousse cake for dessert. Mmmmmmnnnnnn....]


Monday Madness

1. How many 'meals a day' do you eat?

Too many, if my waistline is any indication. :-) Three officially during the week. A lot of times on weekends only two. I don't really eat a lot when I'm home; I'm usually too busy. It's at work that I'm hungry all the time. Afternoons are the worst. The moment I have my fruit I get hungrier.

2. Do you enjoy cooking? Why or why not?

Not really. It seems an awful lot of work to go through just to get something to eat. :-) James is the cook in the house; he views it as a treat where he gets to experiment with different sauces and cooking times and cooking methods. It usually works out well. But on my own, I'd rather just dump some rice in some Campbell's chicken broth, then go back to constructing another web page.

3. Who cooks most of the meals in your home?

I think I already answered this one. :-)

. . . and one more (optional) for good measure;
4. Share a favorite recipe with us.

Hmn. Okay, on the way home, buy a fresh loaf of Italian or French bread (crispy crust) and a can of Campbell's roasted garlic and tomato soup. At home, take those chicken parts (bone in, what's good about chicken with no bones?) that you had thawing, put them in a Pyrex baking dish (or any pan as deep as a glass baking dish), toss on a little garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt. Brown in 450 degree oven, 15 minutes on one side, then fifteen on the other.

Now turn the chicken again, open the soup and with a spoon or mayonnaise spreader or small spatula spread the glop (it's gloppy before decondensing) on top of the chicken. Cook another 20 minutes. Turn chicken over and add half a can of water to the baking dish. Stir between the pieces so the tomato glop and the water start to mix and spoon this mixture over the chicken. Add a small can of mushroom pieces, and, if you have some, some thin slices of green pepper to taste. Cook 20 more minutes.

Take out of oven; serve with liberal covering of the tomato sauce. Take the French/Italian bread, cut into slices or long pieces, and "zoop" in the sauce between bites of the chicken. Heaven tastes like this--has to. Or it will if God is Italian, anyway... :-)


» Sunday, November 09, 2003
Tuckered-Out "Terror"
She doesn't show it at home, of course, but Willow is shy. She approaches people carefully and is pretty much frightened of other dogs; turns tail and hides behind James or tries to get away--except in odd circumstances, like the time the guy down the street was walking his Akita and she challenged him in large barks. (This huge dog gave her a look like "What?")

Our friend Amy, whose dogs are entered in bench, agility, and obedience shows, says she needs more socialization, and we do try taking her places that are not the vet: Petsmart, which she hates because of all the "wolves" around, and to Bruster's, where they call a little bowl of vanilla ice cream and a dog biscuit a "dog sundae."

Well, we'd been planning a trip to Helen in the fall to see the leaves, and that's what we did today. And we took Miss Wil with us.

In case you haven't read "back issues," Helen is up in the North Georgia mountains (for you doll aficionados, Helen is about 8 miles from Cleveland, where the real Cabbage Patch Dolls come from). A bunch of us go up there every spring for a weekend get-together at Unicoi State Park, which is three miles from Helen. We prefer the fall to the spring, wanted to see some autumn leaves, and wanted a nice walk around.

Alas, the leaves had peaked last week, when James had to work. However, we did have a nice time, even if Willow, as usual, whined the first half hour of the ride. We took my .mp3 player and listened to Fibber McGee and Molly episodes on the way up and back. It was in the high 50s, so we were able to stroll around for a half hour and not perspire copiously. The sky was a vivid, chilly blue over the Bavarian-style rooftops of downtown Helen as we stopped at Paws and Claws and bought some gourmet dog cookies (the proprietor loved Willow as she likes "scruffy dogs"), at the Christmas shop (James and Wil stayed outside and she allowed some kids to pet her--she's not as afraid of kids), at the ice cream place (she had a small cup of vanilla, sans dog biscuit), and at the Hansel and Gretel candy shop, which has edible sugar-free candy.

We walked her back to the car through the back, passing over the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River that widens and muddies here in the metro area, but which is shallow, cold and clear up in Helen. She kept sniffing at it through the bars of the bridge, so we found a set of steps that led down to the water to see what she would do.

It was funny: she was thirsty and realized it was water, and also something in it called to her instincts, I'm sure. But tempering that was her loathe of baths, and all that river looked like to her was a big bathtub! So she finally turned back with us and back to the truck.

We were doing fine, but we managed to tire her out; she snoozed most of the way home!


» Saturday, November 08, 2003
Smoke Gets in My Mind...
I had a major flashback today.

We were at the hobby shop and one of the employees stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. Just as the door eased closed I got a whiff of the smoke...

...and suddenly I was ten years old again and it was Saturday night at the bowling alley.

I didn't quite grow up in the bowling alley but I spent a lot of my younger years there. I think it started when my Dad gained a little extra weight and the doctor told him to take up some exercise. He started going bowling and Mom, who had bowled during lunchtime with her pals at work when she was in her 20s, wanted to go along, too. Of course since my parents almost never went anywhere I couldn't go, I went along, too.

This wasn't tenpins, the type that everyone thinks of when you say "bowling." This was duckpins, with a smaller set of pins and a smaller ball that looked like a softball mated with a regular bowling ball. (In Massachusetts, they also have candlepins, which have the same ball, but with tall skinny pins that look like...surprise!...candles. You don't clear the deadwood between sets in candlepin bowling; it's very odd.) Dad and Mom did try to teach me to bowl, but even the smaller duckpin ball was awkward in my small hand. I could either throw hard enough to knock down the pins or throw accurately, but not both. So usually what I was doing at the bowling alley was sitting at one of the tables behind the lanes and, for a half hour for several years, watching the television that most bowling lanes kept behind the front counter or in a small lounge.

Our first "second home" was the original Garden City Bowling Lanes. This was only a small bowling alley (maybe 20 lanes?) with a coffee shop attached. I used to love the lady they had working at the coffee shop counter; I think her name was Cecelia. She would let me have free milk if I didn't have a dime (yes, a glass of milk in a coffee shop was a dime back then!). Garden City was owned by the Zarella "boys" (they were in their forties), aristocratic looking Tom and his shorter, more casual brother Ray. They also owned the Speedway Bowling Lanes, which was walking distance from our house, but which closed when the original Garden City Lanes closed.

Bowling was going great guns at the time (late 60s). We'd been to a bowling place up near my uncle's place in Beverly, Massachusetts that had forty lanes, half ten-pin and half candlepin. The new Garden City Lanes had 36 lanes, with a billiard room on one side, the coffee shop in the middle, and lockers and bathrooms on the other side. Here on Saturday nights I begged one of the guys behind the counter--possibly Tom or Ray themselves, more often Bobby, or Vinny, or Teddy (who later became a state trooper)--to change the channel so I could watch Get Smart. I watched almost all of the original episodes this way. Otherwise I would sit in one of the tables in back and write stories or go in the ladies' room and play. Sounds strange, but all alone in there I would make up and act out stories.

Dad and Mom bowled for fun on Saturday night. Also Sunday night they were in a league--each of the teams were named after mixed drinks. The first year they were half of the Grasshoppers, a name that still makes me smile. League nights were fun because sometimes the other bowlers bought their kids. I had a crush on Don, who had dark curly hair and big dark eyes, for the longest time, but I was most envious of Jeannie Miller, who went to a Catholic school. She was learning about physiology and had chemistry class while we were still fooling around with boring junk.

Dad also bowled in a summer league on Tuesday nights and Mom and I went with him. We'd take a long walk from the bowling alley all the way down to Garden City's branch of the Outlet Company and then back to Woolworth's to visit the budgies and get some popcorn.

Garden City Lane's gone now. They knocked it and the Garden City Cinema, probably the first General Cinema movie theatre in the state, down about the same time and replaced it with a strip shopping center and a Shaw's supermarket, respectively. After he retired, Dad would still go over to the other bowling alley, Legion Bowladrome, and keep score for the retired men's leagues. I haven't been down that part of Park Avenue for several years now; it's probably gone, too. I still remember the night we went there instead of to Garden City and I missed Get Smart because someone wanted to watch Lawrence Welk. How I cried when I got home!

Sheesh. All this from one whiff of cigarette smoke...


» Friday, November 07, 2003
The Friday Five

1. What food do you like that most people hate?

Spaghetti and tuna fish (yes, with spaghetti sauce). Go ahead. Gag. This is what we had as a kid on Fridays back when good Catholics couldn't eat meat. I think it tastes good. It tastes better with tuna canned in olive oil, but any tuna works.

2. What food do you hate that most people love?

Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Gag. Ugh. I mean, the doughnuts themselves are good, very nice and light and fluffy; they are what Dunkin Donuts calls a raised doughnut and if I remember correctly, are the least fattening of the doughnuts. But then Krispy Kreme goes and ruins the darn things by drowning them in "ick," which is my term for either frosting/icing or breading. I don't want my desserts coated in sugar and I don't want my meat covered in breading or batter. I want to taste the flavorful dessert or meat, not the goop on top.

This is probably my mother's fault. When she did bake when I was a kid (she was embarrassed because they'd never leveled her oven correctly and all her cakes turned out lopsided, so she almost never baked cakes), she made cookies and cut down the sugar in all of them. (When she did make cakes, they either weren't frosted or had powdered sugar on them.) To this day I want my Cinnabons without frosting, scrape the icing off Danish, and toss the dipping sauce for Burger King's Cinni-Mini's in the trash. I even used to pick the raisins out of oatmeal cookies because I thought they were too sweet. (Now I just eat them and wince. Needless to say, I prefer raisin-less oatmeal cookies.)

3. What famous person, whom many people may find attractive, is most unappealing to you?

Oh, god, where's my list? J-Lo, Leonardo DeCaprio, Ben Affleck...

4. What famous person, whom many people may find unappealing, do you find attractive?

That's a hard one. I was always the person who liked the older or character actor best in a TV show rather than the sexy young star. My favorite character on St. Elsewhere was Dr. Auschlander (Norman Lloyd) and I liked "the Man" (Jack Albertson) better than Chico (Freddie Prinze), for example. Heck, I still like Dennis Franz better than Mark-Paul Gosselaer (sp?).

5. What popular trend baffles you?

Nail salons. And people who have fingernails 2 and more inches long, covered in gaudy polish and glitter. Guys--all fingernails are are vestigal claws...


» Thursday, November 06, 2003
Christmas at Lithia This Weekend
Check out Holiday Harbour for details.


"Back Seat Driver"
This is the Suspense episode I mentioned downloading the other day. I'd read about it several times over the years but had never heard it performed. The story starred Jim and Marian Jordan, otherwise known in the radio world as Fibber McGee and Molly, as a Los Angeles couple, who, while driving home from a movie, are taken hostage by an armed killer. The story certainly did keep me in suspense and the performances were nicely done, especially Jordan's lead role which was a complete turnaround from McGee. Enjoyed the surprise at the end as well. :-)

Incidentally, part of the background story includes brush fires burning in the hills around Los Angeles. Still very pertinent today!

Speaking o' the McGees, I whiled away my endless rainy commute yesterday listening to episodes, including the silly one where Fibber gets his thumb stuck in a bowling ball. It is very hard to drive while trying not to fall out of your seat laughing at Harlow Wilcox vigorously trying to what we think is get McGee's thumb unstuck. Ah, but remember, this is Harlow Wilcox--what he's really doing is polishing the bowling ball with Johnson's Wax!

Wilcox, incidentally, is the announcer for the Suspense episode, only on that show he's pushing Autolite spark plugs. After the show the Jordans made good work of ribbing him about his two identities of "Waxy" and "Sparky."


Kingdom of the Spiders #2 Coda
I didn't see "Charlotte" this morning until it had gotten a little lighter. The web was suspended in the same place, but she was sitting lower so that until there was more contrast, I couldn't see her up against the dark seats.

When I got to work I opened the left rear door and gently felt around until I started to dislodge the support strings of the web. It fell sideways and the spider scuttled near the window of the other rear door.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do next as I rounded the car, but Ms. Spider made it easier: I saw her drop down into the seat. When I opened the right rear door she was perched defiantly on the muff I'd tried to shoo her off with yesterday, so I pulled muff, spider and all, out of the car and laid it on the trunk, turning it over until she scuttled off onto the car and lowered herself down to the ground via her own web string. I had one last glimpse of her fleeing for cover under the car.


Thursday Threesome

Onesome: Keep - What’s your favourite keepsake? Do you have something that has so much sentiment attached you’ll keep it forever? Tell us!

My wedding ring. :-) And the children's books...

Twosome: The Back Porch - We’re named for Deb’s back porch, a place where people go to relax and wind down. Where’s your relax and unwind spot?

The futon in the spare bedroom--or "Bandit's room," as it's now known since he lives there during the day.

Threesome: Donate! - Got a cause you donate to regularly?

Goodwill--which helps declutter the house, too. And the Can Bank, when it's in the stores.


» Wednesday, November 05, 2003
One Bit of Coolness
I managed to download the Suspense episode with Jim and Marian Jordan last night...


Kingdom of the Spiders Part 2
I seem to be having a problem with spiders this year.

This morning I was tooling down the freeway to work when I nonchalantly glanced in my rear view mirror.

There, suspended in midair, was a big black spider.

We're not talking rubber Hallowe'en spider here, guys. Live spider, at least an inch long and almost as wide.

When I got to work I opened one of the back doors and peered in. Sure enough Ms. Spider had suspended herself on a web between the two corners of the back window. I tried to get her out with a "muff" James bought me as a joke and which I keep in the car, but every time she scuttled, I yipped a little and backed up, so finally she hightailed it for a corner of the back window.

I was reduced to waving the muff near the corner, hissing "Charlotte! Get out of there!" Needless to say, there was no response.

So now I have this honkin' big spider in my car and I have a nap coming up this afternoon. I don't really want to kill it--they eat bugs after all--and besides, I'm Italian. It's bad luck to kill a spider.

But if it comes down to her or me...


» Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Monday Madness

1. What is your most artistic accomplishment?

My website.

2. What is your favorite method of artistic expression?

Writing, whether for the website or for other reasons.

3. Name one form of art that you haven't yet tried but would like to.

Hm. Maybe drawing with pastels?


» Sunday, November 02, 2003
Change of E-Mail Address
Friends and family:

I changed our primary e-mail address today. Sorry to say I was not able to use the temporary e-mail address I gave you several weeks ago. Earthlink would not allow it.

You should have received an e-mail message from me by now. If you didn't, please follow the link above to our domain and send us an e-mail using our website address (don't forget to delete the NOSPAM before sending). I'll then send you an e-mail with the new address.


» Saturday, November 01, 2003
Tis Funny, McGee
One of the things I'd discovered lately, as I've probably related, was the joy of finding .mp3 versions of radio series online, whether on file sharing services or on Usenet.

I started out, comprised of equal parts liking the performances and also of having seen Say Goodnight Gracie, searching for episodes of Burns and Allen. But I also was interested in other comedies and ended up with seven CDs full of The Jack Benny Program and increasing episodes of Fibber McGee and Molly.

Somehow in doing all these downloads, I seem to have fallen madly in love with the gang from Wistful Vista. Fibber's wordplay and Molly's patience are the main draws, but I must give major points to the creative way the Johnson's Wax commercials were worked into the text. Harlow Wilcox even managed to make a horror story out of furniture that hadn't been properly cared for in one outing. My favorite parts may actually be when the cast flubs a line and proceeds onward, giggling madly all the while.

Plus I discovered a certain unintentional nostalgia in the Christmas episodes. Back in the 70s one of my favorite Christmas specials was a syndicated animated effort called The Night Before Christmas (not Twas the Night Before Christmas, the Rankin-Bass special with the mice). This was a fictionalized retelling of how Clement C. Moore came to write "A Visit from St. Nicholas," with a musical version of the poem at the end. Lo and behold I discover that original arrangement was written for the Fibber McGee and Molly program and was sung annually by "Teeny" and her "friends."

Unofficial Fibber McGee and Molly Homepage (with downloads)

Fibber McGee and Molly FAQ

Wistful Vista

Meet Marian and Jim Jordan / The Chicago Years (check out the "Smackout" link!)

Fibber McGee and Molly Material

Historic Peoria

Radio Hall of Fame Listing

Scripts (scroll down)


E-Mail Update for Friends and Family
Still trying to change the address to the one I gave you last month. If it doesn't work, I will contact you with the alternative choice. If you don't receive an e-mail from me about this, please use the address on our website to contact me.

Gawd. It's like planning D-Day.