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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» Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Adventures in the Land of Chowda and Pahkin' the Cah in Hahvahd Yahd
Sorry--was wiped out last night and didn't put in an entry. It's there now.

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James and I went to Boston today. We'd talked about going to the Computer Museum, but basically ended up just wandering about absorbing the feel of the city. We went up on the commuter train, which we've been doing for a couple of years rather than driving up to Braintree and taking the T: we'd had one too many "garage full" situations.

So guess what happened when we got to the Providence Amtrak/T commuter rail station. Yep, the garage was full! We just found a parking lot and went on.

We had lunch in Harvard Square, doing one of my favorite things, feeding the sparrows. We got sandwiches from Au Bon Pain--alas, Warburton's has been swallowed by them (and Wordsworth only exists as a children's bookstore anymore)--and sat outside and fed bits of the bread to the little sparrows who flocked around us. We attracted the pigeons, too, but managed to lob bread at the sparrows most of the time. They were willing to pounce on the crumbs rather than just stand there and coo like the pigeons. Someone's been feeding all of them, though; they're all plump and well-preened and healthy-looking.

From there we went into the Coop [the Harvard Cooperative Society] bookstore. We were very bad. :-) James found a fat volume about war movies and the print copy of The Grantville Gazette (stories set in Eric Flint's 1632 universe) which has previously been only available online. I bought a New England seasons calendar, a new book about Walt Disney, also Harry Potter and Philosophy and one of the new Images of America books. This one is about the construction of Route 128. I spent many happy Sundays driving up to relatives in Massachusetts via 128, past Jolly Cholly's amusement park and Pleasure Island Park; today it's been overlaid by Interstate 93 on the south side and Interstate 95 on the north. One of the photos in the book brings back other nice memories: Northshore, the shopping center near my aunt's house where my dad bought my tricycle, back before it was a mall. Almost all the store names listed on the sign in front of the mall are now an exercise in nostalgia: Jordan Marsh, J.J. Newberry; S.S. Kresge...

I had a Starbuck's gift card, so James and I both had peppermint hot chocolates and a slice of pumpkin bread. The Starbuck's was full, so we went back to the area near Au Bon Pain to drink and eat. The pigeons and the sparrows either recognized us or they had a sharp eye for food, because soon we were tossing bits of pumpkin bread to the sparrows. They were quite bold and came within six inches of us.

James had found some wonderful space books at the Boston Museum of Science last year, so we took the T out to Science Park--or rather we took the T to Government Center then had to transfer to a shuttle bus because the T is under repair in that area. Alas, they have cut way down on their books and they didn't have any more of those particular volumes.

We decided to eat supper in town and had something at Quincy Marketplace while we peroused our new books. The Quincy Market/Fanueil Hall area was decorated with festive white lights and star ornaments lined the Washington Street area [shopping district], but to my disappointment they had not yet set out the decorations on the Common. Then it was time to head home with the rest of the commuter crowd and read more until we reached Providence again.

We watched the series House for the first time this evening. It's about a grumpy, pain-ridden but brilliant doctor who apparently works at a clinic. It's one of those "mystery diagnostic" type programs (CSI with doctors, with the same weird graphics showing the inner workings of things). In an odd twist, Hugh Laurie, who always played idiot twits in the different Blackadder series, is grumpy Dr. House. It was actually interesting to watch because of the character; I'm not much of a CSI fan.

We also saw Ken Jennings end his long winning streak on Jeopardy. This has been a blast to watch. I love Jeopardy and have loved it since it premiered in 1964; it was one of the best things about school vacations and being out sick. My favorite sequence in Airplane II is the Jeopardy scene with Art Fleming, the original host. They did a special sequence on Jennings on Nightline tonight with clips of the original show.


» Monday, November 29, 2004
Sunny Day by the Shore
We waited for Mom to finish her radiation this morning and then headed out to Newport. James has never seen any of the mansions and I wanted to see what they looked like "decked for Christmas." (Of course the irony is that all the Newport mansions were only "summer cottages" and in use for 10 weeks during the warm part of the year and none of them would have ever been used at Christmas. Nevertheless, it looked really nice.) It was another pretty blue-and-white day and I took advantage of the nice weather to take a different route, down 114 instead of 136. Dad didn't like going through the towns of Barrington, Warren, and Bristol, but the traffic wasn't bad and we had a chance to see the various areas decorated for the holidays.

If you're going to see one Newport mansion, the Breakers is the one to see. They include the kitchen and the butler's pantry as part of the tour, along with the main part of the house, so you get an idea how the entire home worked. This was the home of Cornelius Vanderbilt, grandson of the Cornelius Vanderbilt who made his fortune in New York steamboats and then railroads. The brother of the younger Cornelius, William, also had a home in Newport: Marble House on Bellevue Avenue (you see this most often in documentaries about Newport Society, chiefly due to the Marble House's ballroom, which is covered walls and ceiling in gold leaf).

Needless to say, the Breakers is a fabulous place and looks all the better decorated in Christmas Victorian style with roping, garlands, period toys (including dolls and a fab toy horse), and different styles of Christmas trees. The rooms are filled with authentic furniture in French and Italian styles, Tiffany glassware and china, marble walls (indeed, entire rooms) constructed in Italy, then disassembled, crated, and shipped to Rhode Island, then reassembled within the house. One room has designs painted on silver, another with then rare-aluminum plates (they cost more than platinum when the house was built). The ceilings of different rooms are inlaid with gold or painted by noted artists in themes like the Four Seasons. A theme of dolphins runs throughout the house, not just because the home was on the shore, but because the architect loved them.

We saw the morning and music rooms, the men's billiard room, the great hall, the upper and lower loggias, and the main bedrooms and baths, and of course the magnificent doorways, halls, and stairs. It's indescribable, really; no description will do, only a visit in person will do.

After a bite to eat, we had my favorite part of the afternoon. We'd headed out so late that it was approaching sunset when we reached Brenton Point. Mom was cold and said she'd stay in the car, but James and I took the cameras and walked along the sea wall. The ocean was a wonderful silvery blue-grey color, shading dark and light between the combers. The tide was coming in and the surf was wild and wonderful against the outjutting rocks of Brenton Point, and there were only a few people out watching the surf. This is the best time to come to the beach: it's pristine and still and open and free. We waited until the sun set and then walked back to the car; Mom had been unable to resist the beautiful sunset and had come out of the car to watch it. Before he died, she and my dad would always go outside to watch the sun setting over the field across the street from our house.

We found a station playing Christmas music and had that to "light our way home."


» Sunday, November 28, 2004
Sweets and Holiday Treats
This vacation has been one of glorious days interrupted by rain. Today was one of the rainy days, but the deluge didn't start until afternoon. We had planned to go out before it began raining, but I got a great surprise: an old school friend dropped in! She lives in Virginia now, but was visiting her parents for Thanksgiving and walked over this morning. Willow discovered she was a good dog scratcher after barking at her, but that's not strange because Cindy's had dogs all her life. We talked about various things, including our 30th high school class reunion which she attended last night. She joked that she thought she'd walked into someone else's reunion; who were all these grey-haired people?

It was just starting to rain when we finally got out; it was pretty stormy, which accounts for why we missed our destination several times (one wrong turn and one time going directly past it). This was Wright's Dairy Farm, which we had seen on Food Finds on the Food Network. It is a working dairy farm and they also have a bakery. Well, I haven't seen a good bakery in a dog's age; the rare places around us have a few insipid slices of yellow cake clogged with sugary frosting alongside limp cupcakes and soggy pastries and that's about it. The showcases here were full of goodies: cheesecake, cannoli, cream cakes, Bismarcks, and more, and also muffins. I went a bit crazy. James got German chocolate cake, I got a chocolate cake with cream interstices, Mother got two chocolate cannoli, then I bought three cream puffs for each of us (cream puffs with white cream! richness!), and also three muffins and three eclairs for Mother to share.

On the way back we stopped at Border's. I had a 15 percent off coupon and three $5 certificates, so I got some local interest books and also a copy of It's a Wonderful Christmas, which is a delightful collection of old advertisements and memorabilia from 1940 through 1965.

We watched Masterpiece Theatre tonight as they were doing a recent British production of Pollyanna. I had read some reviews of this production that said they thought it was better thant the Disney film because it played more closely to the book, which it did, but I still enjoy the Disney version. Changing the setting to England was fine, but I really thought the subplot with Tim the handyman and his love of motorcars was foreshadowing the ending a bit too much!

While Pollyanna was on, I helped Mother put up her little Christmas tree. The string of lights was very long and a bit daunting (the lights never have been my favorite part of putting up the tree), but it was finally fixed and the tree decorated and the manger scene put up.

Speaking of Masterpiece Theatre, we ended up staying up very late last night watching their presentation of Bertie and Elizabeth, a dramatization of the marriage and reign of George VI, who inherited the throne of England after his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Neither of the two latter people were portrayed very complimentarily! I wonder if Queen Elizabeth had any input in the portrayal, as they were her parents and she was also shown in various stages of her life.


» Saturday, November 27, 2004
Harbor and Heavenly Lights
Didn't go as far as we might have liked today; we all slept through the alarm. By the time we got this and that done and had breakfast (or rather brunch), it was almost noon.

We drove out Cape Cod further than I had ever been, but not to Provincetown and on the main road rather than the scenic drive, so we didn't see much on the outbound leg. We went out to Chatham Light--when you get local weather reports here, you always hear something from Chatham and I had always wanted to see it. The lighthouse itself is small and white, but the beach across the way is breathtaking on a blue-and-white day like today--the sky a pied bowl overhead, and the sand beach spread before you, lined around the edges with dormant wild rose bushes (some with rose hips) and sea grass. A flock of a dozen or so grey and white seagulls sat at the shore's edge looking like little sailor-carved and painted statues. The sea was beautiful, multiple shades of blue and greyish blue melding into each other, with little combers ruffling its surface.

We stayed on the sea wall about a half hour. Mother was cold and went back to the car, but we stood and watched a parasailer for the longest time. He was clad in a black insulated suit and had a red-white-and-blue sail that curved above the beach like a giant supple "C" shape. The wind was quite strong and the sail drew him across the water like a bird. He could barely curb it and bring it into land when a friend showed up to share the sport.

There were other couples and families there who didn't mind the sharp breeze. Little kids ran across the sand, and there were several people with dogs: a little fox terrier, a shaggy type, at least two Golden Retrievers, one who begged, straining at his leash, to be allowed loose for a run, and a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog, who galloped across the sand with abandon.

We drove back for several miles on Route 28, which was the local road that ran through Chatham, Harwich, and Yarmouth, dotted with little restaurants and local businesses, many closed for the season (I don't think James had ever seen a Dairy Queen that was closed for the season!). Then we got back on Route 6 and made our way back home via a different route so we could go to La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts, for their Festival of Lights.

La Salette was founded officially in 1953 commemorating an appearance of the Virgin Mary at La Salette in France. The shrine has a church and a monastery, also a small body of water surrounded by mosaic versions of the Stations of the Cross and several other landscape features, including the Holy Stairs, a flight of stairs that, if you are hoping from an intercession from God, you go up one step at a time on your knees, saying a prayer at each step.

For years at Christmastime they have always had a light display. It is now 300,000 lights strong. The water is surrounded by poinsettia-shaped lights and the Christmas alphabet done on a series of 26 boards. Near the prayer steps, there is a life-size manger scene. The rest of the grounds are covered with multicolor lights: figurals, lights wound around trees, bushes, along paths. Opening day was Thanksgiving; hundreds of people came in the pouring rain. Tonight we were lucky we got there before the lights went on: we got one of the last few parking spaces in the main lot; by the time we emerged two hours later, the auxiliary lot, the size of a parking lot on one side of a big shopping mall, was full of cars and buses--tour buses were still pulling up to the main area.

James wanders a bit bemused among this ornate display of "Catholicity" but even he enjoyed the craftsmanship of the display of Nativities from countries around the world, made of ordinary materials like wood and ceramic and also out of wool, stone, straw, burls from trees, even one in a loaf of bread ("Bethlehem," after all, means "house of bread"). The showpiece of the collection is a beautiful presepio built by one of the priests of the order, originally from the Azores. His manger scene is not only the Holy Family, Wise Men, and shepherds, but an entire town built around them, including the vintner, millers, farms, streets, people going about their jobs, produce stands, shops, trees, flowers, animals. The entire display takes up a room the size of a good-sized bedroom.

When I see things like this, I'm always certain Heaven is full of Christmas lights.

Speaking of preparations, Christmas decorating is going great guns this weekend. Thank God, Santa Claus arrives at his proper time after Thanksgiving around here, not mid-November, and though I'm sure somewhere there are already folks with Christmas lights up, we saw dozens of trees going home today on roofs of cars, and people stringing lights in their yards. It was especially pretty on Route 118 on the way to La Salette and also around the city of Taunton, which still has a beautiful town square or "green" as they were known in colonial times.


» Friday, November 26, 2004
Shipping Out in the Harbor
We had some time on our own today: went out to Taunton, MA, to East Bay Hobbies and then further out Route 44 to Readmore Bookstore. This is a little hole-in-the-wall place I found back in my twenties; when I go out there each time I'm always surprised it's still there. They sell new and used books, and many times you can find things there that went out of print a few years back. I found a locally-published book on the Hurricane of 1938.

James said there was a new ship at Battleship Cove along with USS Massachusetts and the other ships, so we went there. It's a Russian missile frigate, Tarantul class, called Hiddensee (well, Russian-built, anyway; it was used by the East Germans). There are no guided tours; you just walk about and look at your leisure. We also had lunch in the officer's wardroom of Massachusetts and walked on a landing craft similar to those used at Normandy. I cannot help but admire the bravery of the young men who rode these small flimsy craft on pitching Atlantic waves to get to the shores only to face bullets and artillery fire.

They also had an exhibit of the two different types of PT boats, the Elko-made craft and the Higgins model, the latter which had a tiger-mouth painted on it. As a devotee of McHale's Navy in my childhood, I still find PT boats fascinating. I still can't believe they are made of wood.

After the dismal rain of yesterday, it was absolutely gorgeous, blue sky, sun, and all that. It was also very cold, which was welcome--high was only in the low 40s and with the breeze whipping across Battleship Cove, as you can expect it was very chilly. But we both enjoyed it; Mom keeps her house warm now that she's not feeling well and both of us are suffocating. All the baseboards [heat] are closed in our bedroom and I've even had the window open to cool the room off.

Alas, although the sun was setting as we drove past Providence, they still didn't have the Christmas lights lit on "Nibbles Woodaway," the infamous "blue bug" on the top of New England Pest Control. "Nibbles" was officially lit for the Christmas season yesterday, but I guess it wasn't dark enough for him to be on. Nibbles has other costumes for different times of the year, including summer.

Before supper we had a rather sad errand: my godfather (husband of my Confirmation godmother) passed away on Wednesday. We went to the wake. I hadn't seen anyone in the family for years. My godmother's youngest daughter, also a Linda, and I had been best friends in elementary school. (Linda was a big name that year; there were three of us in that 1962 first grade class.) We "swapped mothers" for Confirmation, so my mom is her godmother.

My godfather, Armand Azzoli, had a shoe store on Washington Street in downtown Providence for years. His store was one down from the corner which was the bus stop for us to get the bus back to Cranston, and if we were early, especially on cold days, we'd go in and talk to him and get warm. He loved playing the guitar. Even after he retired, until he got sick, he was never still: he joined a band--sort of like Grandpa Jim in the comic "For Better or For Worse" and played at the senior center.


» Thursday, November 25, 2004
Talkin' Turkey
We watched turkeys and ate turkeys. :-)

Of course sat and watched the Macy's parade, but I managed to miss the last part of the dog show. (I did see the fox terrier win--hurrah!). As mentioned some months ago, the Roto-Rooter man tried to sell Mom a complete pipe replacement just to unblock her kitchen drain. The drain was still working very slowly, so she brought me some Drano she had downstairs. We were going to put it in the drain before we left to eat, but I wanted to make sure there were no fumes that would harm Pidge. So I opened the bottle.

The sides had been pressed in and the darn thing burped like a volcano and spilled on the counter and into one of the sinks where the dish drainer was. So I had to scrub the counter, and the sinks, and re-wash the couple utensils in the drainer as well as the drainer itself and the rubber mat in the sink.

Just for the record, the combination of Drano this afternoon and baking soda and vinegar tonight combined with a vigorous workout with the plunger worked slightly. But the drain is still slow.

We had a delicious dinner at Bassett's Inn on West Shore Road. I had a traditional Italian Thanksgiving dinner: I had macaroni for a side dish!

But it pains me to watch Mom eat. The radiation has irritated the inside of her mouth and she can't eat anything hot or with any type of a "bite" however slight (I'm not talking pepper, I'm talking salad dressing or oranges). The only thing that made her feel good was the Grapenut custard pudding she had for dessert. She hates eating so now that she's lost weight, which the doctor says is not good. She has some ointment for her mouth, but it has to be reapplied every three hours and it isn't coping against the radiation well.

Because it was pouring when we finished, we came home instead of going visiting. We ended up watching Samantha: An American Girl Holiday, which is based on the different historical series of books formerly published by Pleasant Company, now owned by Mattel (you can tell the change because suddenly there are dolls and accessories and a bunch of other geegaws based on the different characters. I was amused when I saw the first announcements because of the eight girls in the series I always thought Samantha was the least interesting: she's the rich orphan living with her grandmother in 1904. I would have thought they would have made the story about Addy, the girl who escaped slavery, or perhaps the two frontier girls, Native Kaya or immigrant Kirsten. (The other girls are colonial Felicity, Hispanic Josefina, Depression-era Kit and World War II Molly.)

The books are all "empowering" for girls, so while you will find old-fashioned attitudes there, modern politically correct slants always overrule them. Samantha, for instance, learns about the evils of the factory system and has an aunt who is a suffragette. The movie turned out to be a combination of several of the six books (the first and the sixth, primarily, and also one of the short story books), and to emphasize the character of Nellie, who is suddenly becoming a main character of her own right, with a book of her own, the mischievous twins have been condensed into one younger girl. But the books at least had marginally good narratives: the movie is a series of hugs and assertions of love, with no suspense to it. The orphanage sequence fell flat because every cut to commercial showed the happy ending. The girl playing Samantha wasn't bad, but Nellie, who in the book is practical and sturdy, is wimpier in the movie. Almost every shot has her seeing Samantha suddenly and having her jaw drop open and squealing her friend's name. Granted, none of the three of us were of the age group this movie was aimed at, but children aren't dopes: I don't think they need such predigested pap.

The commercial breaks were made more tedious by an animated series of Tide commercials about a blizzard affecting several families who were heading to a special event that turned out to be a clothing drive for the poor. It could have been an interesting narrative using live action and a better script, but the result was dull and preachy.


Thanksgiving Memories
New post in Holiday Harbour.


Giving Thanks...
...for the car being fixed in time.
...for the bump in Connecticut not being worse.
...for Pidge and Willow "doing the ride" (although she is depressed; he, on the other hand, is going hell-for-leather around the living room as I speak).
...getting to see Mom one more time.
...for the Macy's Parade and turkey dinner and relatives and no rain and a cool spell coming.
...for absent friends.

Hug everyone you love this Thanksgiving. Hug them hard and enjoy their company. Enjoy them every minute and give thanks that you can do so. "Time goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday."


» Wednesday, November 24, 2004
"Rainy Days and Wednesdays..."
We had a "rest day" today that wasn't exactly restful. The day was quite miserable, cold, wet rain alternating with cold, wet drizzle, and we went out on errands. First Mom had her radiation treatment, then we had lunch. We had to go out to the restaurant where we had reservations for Thanksgiving to confirm them (evidently they've had people make reservations and then not show up) and managed to get an earlier seating. Pretty good for last minute at a popular place.

We then hopped down Bald Hill Road stopping here and there, including a craft store called A.C. Moore which was akin to a Michael's. Oh, remember that extensible rake handle I was waffling about some weeks ago, the one we couldn't find in any Lowe's in Georgia? We found one in Lowe's RI--they had six! We'll have to fold down half the back seat to get it home, but will have it for spring. Finally we hit Ruggeri's Market for supper fixings--James made "Hawaiian pork chops" (cooked with pineapple and pineapple juice and teriyaki sauce). Because tomorrow is Thanksgiving, we had pumpkin pie for dessert.

Saw my cousin Anna and her husband Anthony. He used to be a small jolly bear of a man; now he has Parkinson's and is thin and sad. Anna's doctor suspects she has another tumor. It's hard to watch people who were always so strong being victimized by age this way.

Because we leave the television on for Pidgie, we've been seeing bits and pieces of local TV all day. Doug White looks more like a silver-haired doll every time I see him. Patrice Wood still looks terrific. John Ghiorse, the former wunderboy meteorologist (he was the first in the RI area; before we just had a weatherman, who read the Weather Service reports), looks greyer and more tired. We also saw bits of Regis and Kelly (egads, I thought it was bad with Kathie Lee...) and Ellen DeGeneres...who was sort of amusing, especially when she was talking to Tom Hanks.

We covered up Mother's shadow box with her little glass things with an old sheet and let Pigwidgeon out tonight. He flew about the room and perched on the curtains, but they caught in his claws, so he perched up on the painting over the sofa instead. He spent most of the time he was out trying to convince one of his saucer toys that it was sexy and that it should mate with him.


» Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Due North
Early start this morning and we still got caught in traffic going into DC. We purposely skirted Baltimore via their "beltway"--and were delayed even there.

Willow had to stay in her crate, but we went into two service area restaurant complexes, one in Maryland (prettily decorated with white lights and red-bowed wreaths for Christmas) and one in New Jersey, and took Pidge with us. James told me when I got back from getting my Nathan's hot dog in New Jersey that Pidgie was quite a "babe magnet": three different young women stopped to say "how cute!" :-)

We had two minor mishaps: Pidge's water bottle suddenly failed and drenched the bottom of his carry box. There was no way we could clean it up or get a new water bottle without risking his getting out, so the poor guy rode from New Jersey to Mom's house without drinking. We still don't know what happened to the bottle: it was working fine early this morning.

The other was having to stop short in thick traffic on the former Connecticut Turnpike. The cars in front of us screeched to a stop and we just narrowly missed hitting the car in front of us. The car behind us bumped us hard, but thankfully there was only a one-inch scratch on the rear bumper, one of the backup lights was cracked, and my license plate was dented. Chrysler makes good bumpers.

Got to Mom's about 4:30 and unpacked and various things, then had Chinese for supper, came home for the usual laundry things and watched television. Mom is...doing as well as can be expected. I knew she had a growth near her eye, but the cancer has spread to the right side of her face. It looks like a giant bruise and is affecting her right eye and her mouth. The eye is all irritated. It's very frustrating that I can't do anything.


» Monday, November 22, 2004
I haven't paid the final lodging bill yet, but I'll post my reviews:

Udvar-Hazy Center: if you love aircraft or spacecraft, or the way they fit into history, A+.

TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Chantilly, VA: A+. These folks are very nice. The room we had--a studio--was clean, well laid out, and nicely appointed (complementary coffee, coffee maker, dishes, etc. in the kitchen), complementary coffee in the lobby all day, danish in the morning, cookies in the evening, and food you can buy, from noodles to main dishes, for eating in your room. The staff was friendly and helpful; I asked for two more pillows and a blanket at nine o'clock at night and we had them within five minutes. They gave us directions to the nearest Metro station. They're under the landing pattern to Dulles airport, but are so well insulated you can barely hear the aircraft. Plus: they take pets, treat animals with friendliness, and dogs/cats may stay locked in carrier in the room unattended, unlike Motel 6.

Bob Evans, Lee Jackson Highway, Chantilly, VA: B+. Bob Evans was in walking distance, so we ate there every morning and night. This is a chain restaurant. Like Shoney's or Friendly's or any of the innumerable similar places, it's not haute cuisine and doesn't claim to be. The food is plain ordinary food and what we ate of it was good. I don't recommend the open-face roast beef sandwich, but the turkey and dressing is good (I don't recommend much dressing/stuffing because a lot of it is bad, but this was good; it's not as good as the Colonnade in Atlanta, but nothing is) and so are the pork chops. The French toast is great and they don't burn their bacon. James recommends the pot roast omelet, the sirloin steak and noodles, and their biscuit and gravy. And thank God it's not noisy with long waiting lines and overpriced food like those Yuppie chains Chili's, O'Charley's, Cheddar's, etc. The service was fabulous. When we staggered in after nine on Saturday night and told the waitress we were starving and thirsty, she had drinks at our table in under five minutes and some rolls in five minutes. Our dinner was out in fifteen minutes, hot and savory.


Taking Flight in Chantilly
Today's destination was our primary reason for making a stop here in DC: the new Smithsonian Air and Space building, the Udvar-Hazy Center, which was just about three miles down the road from our motel (the reason I chose this place beside the good reviews). It was a grey day, so we couldn't see much scenery later in the afternoon when we went up into the observation tower to watch the planes landing at Dulles. (Frankly, we almost get a better look at the planes from our parking space; the hotel is right under the Dulles landing pattern. The soundproofing, however, is such that we hardly hear the planes when they come over.)

This is a huge building built like an airplane hangar--which of course is what it holds. The "stars" of the gallery are "Enola Gay," the airplane which carried the atomic bomb to Hiroshima; the space shuttle "Enterprise," which never flew but which did get the space shuttle program "off the ground"; the very first Boeing 707; the Stratoliner (the very first pressurized commercial airliner); and a Concorde from Air France. Scattered about are other aircraft that were either formerly in the main Air and Space Building on the Mall or stored out in the facility at Silver Hill, including Wiley Post's "Winnie Mae" (too bad he wasn't flying her when he and Will Rogers took that flight together). There are commercial planes and military planes, helicopters, missiles, early aircraft, gliders, and aerobatic planes--including "Little Stinker," the second Pitts special ever made. The Pitts is one of the smallest aerobatic aircraft; I saw one at an airshow many years ago and exclaimed, "It's not much bigger than Shadow [my Dodge Omni]!"

In the back gallery (the James McDonnell Space Hangar) with "Enterprise," there are also space satellites, space suits, several Mercury capsules, including one flightworthy one that never made it to space, one of Robert Goddard's rockets, sounding rockets, the original model of the Mothership from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and even an original Univac computer.

The display is interesting in that the planes are not all mounted on the floor of the building area, but are hung from the ceiling at different levels. There are walkways at the different levels so you can see most of the aircraft close up and get unique perspectives on the others below.

Smaller displays include a wonderful assortment of "space related" toys and products, including a wonderful saucer sled, Apollo and Mercury capsule cooke jars, Space Patrol pens; astronaut flight suits and space food; memorabilia like Jimmy Doolittle's uniform and Eddie Rickenbacker's jacket; and furniture and china with balloon motifs from the "balloonmania" that spread across France after the Montgolfier brothers' first successful balloon flight.

It would take me all night to list all the great things we saw, so I won't even try. Just surf here and investigate Udvar-Hazy for yourself.

We went up to the tower before we left; a level below the tower but not in the building proper was a display of how air traffic control works, including a radar screen showing planes landing in Newark, NJ, where you can listen to the voice of the air traffic controllers bringing in their charges.

It took us about five and a half hours to get around and see everything, with a pause for a Subway box lunch (the building is so new that the cafeteria isn't finished yet). We were quite footsore by the end and were content to stop for gas, cash, and cough drops for James' throat on the way back before returning to our room and two very excited animals.

This has been a nice two days, except for James' sore throat, but it's like having a couple of Ritz crackers with cheese at the big buffet table. We figure we need to come back for a week just to do most of the interesting museums: one day at Air and Space proper, one day at History, one day at Natural History, one day at the Postal Museum, many museums, so little time!


» Sunday, November 21, 2004
Doing the Nation's Capitol
Actually not too much...we got a late start and then a bit misdirected on the way to the Metro station. Plus James has been spoiling for a sore throat for weeks now and the dampness yesterday along with the driving stress now has him ragged out.

It was a perfect day for wandering around the Mall. It was overcast most of the day which made it heaven for walking, and although half the trees are past peak there are some beautiful ones still extant. The Reflecting Pool was lined with beautiful golden trees which sent yellow eddies toward the water every time the wind blew. Several trees were such a beautiful orange-red one almost wanted to drink them in. The Washington Monument grounds are closed for landscaping, but we walked past it and spent over an hour walking around the World War II Memorial. I found my dad on their computer system and found myself in tears.

The Memorial is absolutely magnificent, a somber, beautiful combination of stone and water. One side is devoted to the Atlantic campaign, the other to the Pacific. As you approach the front there are bas relief panels on either side depicting scenes from the era. The Atlantic side begins with lend lease and continues through D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge to end as the Americans and the Russians meet at the Elbe bridge. The Pacific side begins with families listening to the news of Pearl Harbor through soldiers shipping out and on ships and airfields and ends with "War Ends" and a soldier coming home. All around the Memorial are different quotes, but the most affecting portion is the wall of 4000 gold stars. Each stands for 100 Americans who died in WWII.

I'd planned to walk down to the Lincoln Memorial and stop by The Wall, but James was flagging badly. So we walked back past the other side of the Washington Monument and saw the National Christmas Tree ready for lighting and the White House. We ended up in the Museum of American History to have a bite to eat at the Subway on the first floor--James' throat badly needed something hot; we had soup--and dabbled in a couple of galleries before we had to get back. We saw about half of the "America at War" exhibit, mostly the World War II portion, and also a bit of the Presidential gallery. I nipped in to see the First Ladies' gowns--when I was first here back in 1973, they had them all on exhibit and Mamie Eisenhower's gown was paired with the tiara she wore at the 1956 election. The tiara was made by Trifari, the place where my dad worked for 29 years and I worked for 3 1/2. I wanted to get a photo of it. But they don't have all the gowns out any longer, just a selected few, and the tiara wasn't there.

We did visit the gift shop--not the souvenir-shack on the Mall entrance side or the little one on the third floor, but the big one downstairs that had books, DVDs, CDs, and beautiful crystal ornaments. I came down the stairs to it with big eyes and said "James, it looks like the [Harvard] Coop!" I could be very, very bad here with all the wonderful history books (in debt and have no time to work because I was reading!), but I only bought something fun, What Were They Thinking?, a listing and detailing of the 100 worst television events. (It's a brand-new book: Janet Jackson's boob is in it.) One of them was "Spock's Brain," of course. Number one was...naw, if you're interested, buy the book. It's hilarous.

We had to head back at 4:30 because we were meeting Rodney Walker, one of the friends we made in Remember WENN fandom, for dinner. We did get a nice shot of the Smithsonian "castle" and the Capitol with the lights coming on before descending into the Metro again. Got turned around on the way back; coming in from the opposite direction, the exit is completely different, but made it in time. We just walked over to the Bob Evans across the way and ate, then came back to the room to chat some more. I let Pidge out and he found a very satisfactory perch on top of the kitchenette cabinets. His chirp echoed up there, which I'm sure he enjoyed.


» Saturday, November 20, 2004
Off on the Road to ... Virginia
Your roving correspondents here...greetings from Chantilly, Virginia.

We started out from home at 7am after about five hours sleep, which made it a bit difficult later in the day, but we managed. I'd already mostly loaded the car yesterday afternoon, so all we had to put in was the cameras and the laptop, and then the animals. Pidge, not six months old and sitting in a 12x10x10 cage carry box, coped pretty well. The thermometer I bought at REI didn't work, so it was hard to gauge when he was going to get overheated without it happening and his raising his wings. Willow got put in the car last because, as always, she was nearly hysterical thinking she was (a) going to be left behind and then (b) going to "dog camp." she finally cottoned to the trip more when we stopped for lunch and she got to eat a plain Wendy burger at a picnic table.

The weather was uniformly cloudy or rainy. This wasn't too bad except when we went through a "gap" on I-77 which literally did climb into the clouds. If it had been sunny we would have had some beautiful views. It started to steadily drizzle when we got to Manassas, so we had to find our hotel in the rain.

We are staying in a studio room: a wonderfully compact room, tiny living room and kitchenette, bath and a big closet. Pidge got loose when I transferred him from carry box to cage and flapped about the room until he lost his breath and then was duly and happily transferred into his cage, where he began to burble to his cuttlebone the moment he turned the TV on. Willow is still wandering about the room looking askance at everything.

We're pooped. We now understand how parents traveling with their kids feel carrying the changes of clothing, the stroller, the playpen, the toys... :-)

There's a Metro station nearby so tomorrow we're planning to take it into the city and see the new World War II memorial and other things on the Mall.

(PS: We noticed several Russell Stover candy outlets on the way up and stopped at one right near I-77 to pick up some sugarless dark chocolate and other diabetic goodies.


» Thursday, November 18, 2004
Thursday Threesome

Onesome: No talk to? Nah, who is it you look forward to seeing at one of the holidays just to be able to sit around and chat with? Sure, even someone you see during the rest of the year!

Depends on where I am for the holidays. If it's here, it's the annual Thanksgiving at Pat and Alex's. A good chance to talk to all those folks from "the other side of town." (Don't laugh--Atlanta is so sprawled out and the traffic is so bad that it's a major chore to get from one side of town to the other; on bad days it can take two to three hours to go the 30-50 miles.)

Twosome: diets- Have you ever tried one of the "fad" diets out there? Yes, I include Atkins in this category! How did it work for you? Would you do it again or try another one?

No, just the garden variety 1200-calorie-per-day ones. Atkins sounds very appealing because I loathe vegetables except for salad greens and veggies and raw peas (but of course you're supposed to eat veggies on Atkins, too). But I love bread and rice too much. I could live without potatoes and corn, but bread and rice...oh, my. A well done loaf of fresh Italian bread is even better than chocolate sometimes.

Threesome: on Thanksgiving- What's your favorite dish? Would you be happy just pigging out on turkey, or do you need all the fixings? Does the pumpkin pie make the meal or do you prefer Mom's green bean casserole?

Drumsticks!!!! And wings and thighs, but mostly drumsticks. With gravy is tastier, but I'll take without. Hopefully I'll get some squash pie when we're on vacation.


» Wednesday, November 17, 2004
The Neverending Repair
Drove nicely home yesterday. This morning I backed out of the driveway (which is about on a 30° slope), put the car in drive...and nothing happened. If I pressed the accelerator, it just revved as if it were in neutral. Puzzled, I shifted to neutral then back to drive. Still revving. By this time I was just a tad perturbed about being stuck in the middle of the street, since motorists seem to use our street as a cut-through to the traffic light.

I shifted the car down into third gear (I guess it's third gear; it has a three on it--all my other cars have had a "2" in this position) and it finally "caught." I put it back into drive and thereafter had no more problems, even doing the usual "Atlanta 500" at speeds approaching 80 mph.

So, understandably ticked off (especially since they assured me the transmission was untouched by the force of the collision), I gave the shop a call. Body Shop Guy tells me that because the car was disconnected from the battery for so long, the computer-driven transmission probably needed to be...well, in a word, "rebooted." {wry grin} BSG said if I took the car by on the way home they could probably get it right up on the machine and resynched.

I love my computer, but boy, sometimes I wish things were all-mechanical again...


What Kind of Blogger Are You?

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.


» Tuesday, November 16, 2004
"And Now the Purple Dusk of Twilight Time..."
My car is back--finally, after eight weeks. "Feels" okay, but I can't tell until tomorrow morning when I'm barrelling along at 75 mph with someone tailgating me. {wry grin}

I suppose I should be dancing for joy, but I had things brought up short for me last night--had a scare with my mom. As she gets older the physical distance between us is growing more daunting. And at this point I don't know what I can do about it.


» Monday, November 15, 2004
Transparently Yours
My patience is wearing just a "tad" thin. Called up the body shop at 3:30...he says the guy is still working on my axle. God forbid I want him to rush and connect little unemportant things like the brake lines incorrectly, but this is stupid. It's eight weeks ago to the day that I had the accident, and the body shop got the car two days later. It took them two weeks to give me an estimate, then told me it would be done in three weeks, at the end of which they told me it would be two more weeks. That was last week.

I just called up the insurance claims guy and complained to him. If this is "Blue Ribbon service," what the heck do the poor schmucks with el cheapo insurance get treated like?


Monday Madness

1. bar soap or shower gel

Bar soap. You have to keep pumping and pumping the gel container for enough gel.

2. cd's or cassettes

CDs unless what I want isn't on them. I have a bunch of European Christmas albums that never made it to CD.

3. television movies or documentaries

Even though documentaries are often slanted to one cause or the other, I'd rather watch that than a TV movie based on a historical event. These dips of movie producers seem to think you have to toss dramatic scenes that never happened and a sex scene or two in to "keep it interesting."

4. wall calendar or desk calendar


5. dsl, cable, or dial-up

Dial-up: been there, done that, DSL is superior. Don't want cable--don't want them yammering about getting their TV service.

6. summer or winter

Winter, winter, winter. Summer is just three months of sweaty misery.

7. city or country

I guess to live on a small income, country. I always thought it would be fun to live in a big city like New York, but only if I had the income for it.

8. camping or stay in a hotel

Don't like insects, so camping is out. Besides, James has to sleep with a C-PAP machine. He has to have electricity. I guess one could drag a generator along, but all those I've seen are noisy and noisome.

9. gold or silver


10. fiction or non-fiction books

Both, so long as the narrative is interesting!

11. mashed potatoes or baked potatoes

Baked, with lots of margarine.

12. ranch, italian, or catalina dressing

Italian, even if it does give me indigestion.

13. solid or spray deodorant

Solid. I don't like the odor of the sprays.


» Friday, November 12, 2004
Even Later Car Update
Monday they hope, perhaps Tuesday. Apparently for legal reasons, any work on recalled cars has to be done first, and the axle will take at least half a day to put on. The manager at the body shop says if it's not done by Tuesday he's going to be stamping around asking what's holding up the show. I did get to see the axle, which looks nothing like the barbell cartoon drawing you might see of an axle.


"Oh, The Weather Outside is Delightful..."
Boston, New England Seeing First Snowfall of Season

Must be that Red Sox win...Hell freezing over has overflowed. [wink]

"The areas expected to be hardest hit are interior southern Rhode Island ..."

Darn, and Salty Brine isn't there any longer to say "No school Fosta-Glosta."


Latest Car Update
If not today, Monday "fer shure." Apparently when the car was shoved against the curb the axle near the right rear wheel was bent very slightly. You couldn't tell anything was wrong when you drove the car, but it failed the alignment test when they put it on the machine. So they ordered a new rear axle and are trying to install it today. Unfortunately Chrysler had a power steering problem recall on one of their models (not the PT) and the service department is backed up replacing them.

I'm not surprised at all the damage done: the SUV that hit me looked, that morning anyway, the size of an elephant and was probably going at least 30-40 mph because there's no stop sign at the end of that driveway. People zip around the roads around the buildings here insanely fast. We have a particular problem at my own building because people use our driveway as a shortcut to the building where they hold training. Especially between eight and eight-thirty, when people are on their way to class (training starts at eight-thirty), cars tend to dash through there in a hurry. As much as I loathe speed bumps, maybe it's time to slow the speed demons.


New post in Holiday Harbour.


Friday Five

1) Realistically, where do you think you'll be five years from now? What job will you be working, will you have family/friends/pets, where will you be living and how?

I suspect I'll have the same job; I've got 19 years invested in Government service and really can't afford to give it up. Hope I have the same family, friends and pets, although Willow will be a little senior citizen dog by then! The one important thing that will be missing is my mom. I don't expect the cancer will ever back off. I've got several members of the family under chemotherapy now.

2) Unrealistically, given a perfect life, where do you want to be five years from now?

LOL. Are we dreaming? We both want a house in New Hampshire, where it stays cool longer.

3) What's the big barrier keeping number one and two separate and distinct, or is there one?

There aren't jobs in the Northeast in our fields and a position would have to be high-paying, due to the taxes up there (my mom, on a smaller piece of property, is paying more than four times the taxes we have here); if there were, at our age it's more difficult to be hired (even though they say there's no age discrimination). Mostly it's medical insurance. There aren't many affordable medical plans for people with pre-existing conditions, especially for someone like me, who has already had cancer once.

4) Utterly and completely abandoning realism, make up where you'll be in five years. Alien abductions and portals to alternate universes are encouraged.

Still in the house in New Hampshire. It's got a big bay window for the Christmas tree, a nice hobby area for James--oh, and a runway because he wants a Cessna Citation. I could finish my children's book and try to get it published. We could go abroad for several months--I'd love to see Ischia where my mother's parents were born--and then purchase a motor home and travel around the US and Canada.

5) Where did you believe you'd be now, five years ago? Pick a crucial event of the past five years and tell us where you’d be now if it had been different.

I hoped I would still be doing support work. I enjoy doing support work--typing, keeping lists, making appointments (filing's a pain in the neck, but nothing's perfect)--and I didn't realize I'd be transferred to another job without warning three years ago when I was out on medical leave. I've had a couple of interviews, but nothing panned out, and now the support work in general is going to the contract employees. Life happens...


Unlike Humpty Dumpty...
Wow. I saw my car yesterday, all back together again. They swore I'd have it by "by the end of the week," which has to be tonight since the body shop is closed tomorrow. "We'lllllll see." There was a little irregularity in the right rear wheel when they aligned it, so they need to tweak something, and they are supposed to clean it out (the powder from the airbags is still all over the passenger seat).

Ironically yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Tune-Up Clinic setting my Dodge Omni on fire.


» Thursday, November 11, 2004
Thank You for Your Service and Sacrifice
Poppy graphicSheryl's Holiday Site: Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, Armistice Day includes the poem "In Flanders Fields."

And thanks, Dad.


Thursday Threesome

::World Weary Traveler::

Onesome: World-- Okay, you've been here; you've been there. ...or maybe not. Is there someplace you think it would be cool to spend a holiday? Christmas in the Alps? St. Patrick's Day in Erie? Oh, sure, take the entire family if you'd like!

Oh, the Rose Parade in Pasadena, for sure. Perhaps Christmas Eve in Disney World. But we have alternative things to do on those days that I prefer: a great party a friend of ours throws on New Years Eve and Midnight Mass. Well, cross fingers and we will make it to NYC to see the Christmas things this year. Don't feel comfortable leaving my mom behind, but she has to have radiation ever day. They can skip the treatment because it's a holiday, but she can't skip a treatment and make herself feel better--and let me tell you she is depressed right now, being mostly confined to the house.

Twosome: Weary-- Have you ever had to deal with jet lag? How have you handled it? ...and which direction is worse for you, going East or going West? Just curious...

I've never gotten out of the Eastern time zone on a plane flight, so I don't know.

Threesome: Traveler-- When you've traveled, what conveyance has bothered you the most? That camel in Morocco? The train ride through the Rockies? Your brother-in-law's Dodge? What just set your nerves on edge?

Very similar to the latter--my mother's car. The mechanic kept telling her that the car was "all right." Yeah, sure. The engine sounded like a truck, the brakes stuck, and it overheated when we tried to drive it out to Newport.


» Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Christmas Project Finished!
Our "Christmas project" is finished! This is a photocopy paper box full of goodies for the Bagram Hobby Club stationed in Afghanistan: a dozen plastic model kits, paints, brushes, thinner, and other tools, some granola bars, a DVD, and some games, including a set of Uno cards. On Saturday we can mail it.


It's an "Ill" Wind
What a lovely anniversary present: we both have colds! I've been spoiling for this for a couple of days, but was trying to hold out until Thursday, since I have the day off anyway. But this morning I figured it wasn't really safe driving at 75 mph on the freeway when your eyes won't focus due to four hours sleep between coughing jags. [wry grin]

On the other hand James enjoyed his anniversary presents: David Weber's newest Honor Harrington novel--actually, it's "the Next Generation," as its the story of her protégés, the two new Hallmark airplane Christmas ornaments, and the DVD The Dam Busters, about the famous British raid during World War II.

He bought me the stuffed "baby Kimba" I loved so much at DragonCon, plus an IOU on a trip to Media Play (or perhaps waiting till next Tuesday when Foul Play is released).

One of the advantages of being home was being able to call my mom...she'd just gotten home from her third day of new radiation treatments. She has to have them for thirty weekdays in a row (she gets to skip tomorrow and Thanksgiving). They made a mask for her face so that only the spot next to her eye is exposed and she has something that fits in her eye so that is not damaged.

I remember all the care she took of her face--always treating it at night with Deep Magic so her skin would always be soft and nice. Now the cancer is creeping from her scalp to her face, destroying all that meticulous work.


» Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Railing Against the "Pink Aisle" Boy Toys is a reprint of one of his 1991 columns; depressingly, it still holds true today. The "Disney Princesses" line gives me hives. Oooh, goody, there's nothing better for a woman to do than put on a gorgeous gown and pretty shoes and get a man.

I hated dolls. I would have tossed Barbie out the window. The only doll I did like was my Penny Brite doll, because she was posable. She came in a red "Annie" type dress; with my poor seamstress skills I made her a sleeveless top and a pair of pants, then set her astride one of my Breyer horses so she could go out and have real adventures, not stay home and serve tea or go to a party. (Although she couldn't get there very fast: I wanted one of the Breyer stallions, the ones that were rearing up or trotting or doing something. Instead I got stuck with two mares, who were just standing there. Yawn.)

Sorry. Still annoyed that I never got Tinkertoys or Legos because my aunts whined that those were boys toys. (Okay, I have to be honest--I didn't get Tinkertoys because one of my aunts actually did put her eye out with a stick when she was a little girl--in my family "don't run with that stick in your hand" was an actual fear.) I did get Lincoln Logs one year but there wasn't much creativity in a small container of them. One of the reasons I loved kindergarten so much was the wonderful building sets we had. Oh, and the big Britains farm set. We kids used to fight to be first at the table where the barn and house and animals were set up.


Tuesday Twosome


1. Name two things you love about the city/town you live in:

Good friends nearby and ... gosh, that's it.

2. Name two things you dislike about the city/town you live in:

Traffic and bugs.

3. Name two cities/towns you would live in if you couldn't live where you are now:

If I had the money for an apartment like Paul and Jamie Buchman used to have on TV? Boston or New York of course.

4. Are you a "true local" (born and raised) or a transplant of the city/town you live in?

Transplanted nearly 21 years now.

5. Do you like to leave your city/town when you have a long weekend or do you like to stay home?

Would like to, can't afford to.


» Monday, November 08, 2004
Good Grief...
Late Halloween treat (or trick, depending on how amusing you find it).


Monday Madness

Name 3 (or more, or less!) things...

1. cannot live without.

My heart medication, my allergy medication, my thyroid medication, and my acid reflux medication.

2. CAN live without, but cannot seem to part with.

Starlog #1 through whatever the number was several years ago when I realized I wasn't reading the darn things anymore, my old Starbursts and other British magazines about Blake's 7 and Dr. Who, and my stuffed animals.

3. wish to accomplish this COMING week.

Surviving traffic, getting some POs done, and GETTING MY CAR BACK.

4. have accomplished this PAST week.

Survived traffic, got some POs done, and made arrangements to visit a friend on vacation.

5. ...on your holiday (or non-holiday) 'wish list.'

Hm. Foul Play, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, M*A*S*H season 7, and Mary Poppins special edition.

6. would like to change about yourself.

Weight, mostly. The TFH, but I don't feel like having surgery again, and my nose (ditto).

7. like about yourself.

:-) Sometimes not much. My writing and web page design and affection for pets.

8. should be doing right now instead of what you ARE doing.

Almost anything else. :-)

9. your life that could use a little more organization.

My desk at work, my computer desk, and the coffee table!


» Saturday, November 06, 2004
A Bad Spell, Part 2
Arrrgh! In Best of British of all places, about a gentleman who makes hand-tooled leather cowboy belts. "He still pedals his wares..."

"Pedal" is how you make a bicycle go. The word is "peddle."


» Friday, November 05, 2004
The Good News and the Bad News
The good news: It's cool!!!!! Temp's supposed to go into the 30s tonight.

The bad news: I still didn't sleep as well as I wanted. (Yes, Betty, I did take some aspirin before bed, too.) But at least I didn't wake because I was warm.

The good news: Toys'r'Us had the new Trivial Pursuit edition at half price, so I picked one up. They had Sky Bars on the way out. I haven't had a Sky Bar in a dog's age. (If you can't tell from the wrapper, the bar has four fillings: caramel, white nougat, peanut butter, and fudge.) Mmmn. Wonder how it would taste enrobed in dark chocolate?

The bad news: I also went to Waldenbooks to get a new Entertainment book. This way I'd get points. Not. The Preferred Reader program is gone. Why do I see Waldenbooks going the way of the dodo bird as well?


» Thursday, November 04, 2004
Thursday Threesome

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day::

Onesome: Winnie the Pooh-- What was your favorite book series as a kid? Was there one you tried to find the complete set to read? ...or maybe just one book you remember well?

My favorite book series as a kid was probably the Bobbsey Twins, but I didn't get to read more than eight or nine of them because they were expensive. My favorites of the series were actually the three original versions (where the Bobbseys had a horse and carriage instead of a station wagon) that were republished by Whitman. (I later collected these old volumes, at least up to the ones published in 1930. I couldn't stand when they began using Dinah as comic relief.) I also read Donna Parker, but I preferred animal books. In those my favorite series was probably the Windy Foot books, and also Silver Chief, Dog of the North and its sequels.

Twosome: and the-- holidays are just around the corner? Are you ready for things? ...or are you too immersed in life to even think about it?

I'm always ready for the holidays, but this year I'm more ready for vacation. But I need to get my car back first!

Threesome: Blustery Day-- Hey, what do you like to do on a stormy day when you're not working or in school? Do you curl up with a book? Watch TV? Bake? How do you pass the time when you don't feel like going "out in it"?

Oh, read, definitely, or watch a favorite movie. Stormy days are great for watching Turner Classic Movies, too! There's always housework to do, too.


» Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Watching the Weather Map
Maybe it would help if I got behind that wretched cold front and pushed.


Halloween As I Remember
This is a nice essay about kids and Halloween in the 1950s.


Poll Position Coda
Ironically, when I drove past the school at 5:10 last evening, there were perhaps six cars there. Unless there were people in the building who had walked, the polls were pretty much deserted.


» Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Tuesday Twosome


1. When did you register to vote and what compelled you to do so?

I have been registered to vote ever since I was old enough to vote. When I was growing up the voting age was 21. I would have turned 21 a month after the 1976 election. I didn't think that was fair and was glad when the voting age was lowered to eighteen. Voting is a privilege, even when those who are running aren't always the best people for the job. Everyone who can vote should vote.

2. Did you vote early (if your state offers this) or are you voting on election day?

I tried, but the line was too long and I wasn't up to it. Going early this morning was really the best choice.

3. Do you truly believe your vote counts or are you not convinced that "every vote counts"?

Oh, I'm sure every vote counts. Look what happened in 2000.

4. Did you make up your mind about what candidate to vote for a while back or within the last two weeks?

I've pretty much known for a while now.

5. Compared to your parents' views, are you voting the same as or different from them?

Differently, but then the times have changed. My parents believed their political party truly represented them as Americans of their social class. I don't believe it does any longer.


Poll Position
Got to the polls about 6:20 a.m., fortified with milk, a sliced apple, and a granola bar. There were already about 30 people in line (which was inside, so I didn't need my book light). I read the ballot they passed out, then went back to my book. Everything opened promptly at seven and I was done by 25 past. Enjoyed the new touch-screen voting machines (previously we had the punch cards that caused so much trouble last time in Florida; they were pretty simple--I cut my teeth on the old close-the-curtain-and-flip-the-switches voting booths), but I felt exposed. Cobb County has the new touch screens in the old cubicles for the punch-card voting--those lay flat on the surface; the touch screens are elevated. I felt like everyone could see who I was voting for. I miss the privacy of the old booths.

If all this Bush/Kerry animosity has done anything, at least it has brought people back to the polls. You have no right to complain if you didn't vote, but the non-voters complain anyway. "It's too much trouble, can't get the time off from work, the line is too long, there's no one I like running..." Well, heck, there's no one I like running, either. I always vote for the least objectionable candidate, not the one I like the most. But at least you're doing something. I was alway eager to vote. I remember being so disappointed when I realized the next Presidential election would come a month after my 21st birthday, and was happy when they lowered the voting age to eighteen.

I've always thought people should have election day (at least a Presidential election day) off from work (years ago election day was a holiday; you read in old books about late campaigning, parades, firelit torches out in the street as people waited outside the newspaper offices for the returns). It would give them no excuse not to vote. Perhaps, to encourage people to go, you would have to submit a receipt to your employer that said you voted and then you would be paid for the day off.

The one thing I do hope is that people can read the ballot more intelligently than they can the signs at the polling place. The school was full of warning signs about cell phone use not being not allowed; they were blue and white and black and on the wall and on posts every twenty feet or so. Yet cell phones were ringing all over the place and the lady behind me yapped on her cell the entire 40 minutes we waited for the doors to open.


» Monday, November 01, 2004
DVD Stuff
Sigh. Okay, I understand the reason for region codes on DVDs from the POV of the Powers That Be. What's released on DVD in one country hasn't always made it to the movie theatre or the syndication screens of another country, so the UK doesn't want Buffy DVDs being sold before the advertisers who are paying for the syndication of the series get their profits, and any country who hasn't brought out Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban out yet at the movies doesn't t want their theatres to lose revenue.

On the other hand, it strikes me as the stupidest vehicle to lose sales on Earth. What if someone in the US or Canada (Region 1) has visited the UK (Region 2) and fallen in love with a particularly British-oriented series that hasn t been syndicated here (or which was shown here once and then never again)? Chances are because it's not a Monty Python or Are You Being Served? there's probably no chance you'll ever see it on US TV. (This applies vice versa as well.) Then out comes the Region 2 DVD. If you have a region-hackable player or a region-free player, the producers of that series have made another sale. But that's only "if." There are so many different programs that haven't crossed the pond, or crossed in a different format, that it's quite annoying.

And sometimes the price boggles, too. For instance, the cheapest I ve found the second series of All Creatures Great and Small here is $50 (with postage). I can get the Region 2 version, even with airmail overseas postage, for only $40! There are American movies, for some bizarre reason, that are only in release in Britain, like Disney s So Dear to My Heart. Then there's one of my favorites, 84 Charing Cross Road, which is available here only in a full-screen version. The same movie is sold letterboxed in Region 2 (and is the same price, even with overseas postage).

Thank God for region hacks and region free!


In for a Bad Spell
Didn't Monday Madness just ask about correcting grammar?

I found this on CNN's site this morning, in an article about a little girl who can't feel pain (emphasis mine):

"They put the dye in her eye and I remember the look of puzzlement on all their faces," Ashlyn's mother says. "She was not phased by it by any means."

I see this all the time, but I didn't expect it on a professional web site. The word is "fazed," as in "To disrupt the composure of; disconcert."


A lackluster Hallowe'en. It was too warm for my cat costume--indeed it was too warm even for the regular clothing I had on; I overheated badly and had to take my Atenolol early, even though I didn't get palpitations...I just didn't feel right. We only got about 15 kids, most of them just big kids who had no costumes.

I wasn't really up to it, anyway. If it's cool enough I have the fire on and I always play episodes of The Shadow. But I'd called my mom beforehand and was pretty depressed: she has to have 30 radiation treatments on her face. They had to make a special mask for her, and, so her eye won't get damaged by the radiation, she has to wear a "cover" fitted in her eye. She says it hurts. And what could I say? There's nothing I can even do.

At least we're back on Eastern Standard Time. It was so nice to be able to see this morning driving to work instead of it being pitch dark. It's funny, too, that it didn't rain--it seems like the first day of EST for years has always been rainy and you can't take advantage of the sunrise! Daylight Savings Time is an anachronism now and it no longer saves energy--what we "get back" from people not putting lights on we get taken away--and more--by air conditioners running full-tilt another hour before night cools everything down. Wish they'd kill it completely so we could have light in the morning as we're supposed to.


Monday Madness

Do you.....

1. Code your own website or use a template?

I use a variety of methods. I can hand-code if need be (most of the "Salute to Winter" page was hand-coded, for instance), but I like to work on HTML Assistant Pro 2000. I'd like to see what Dreamweaver is like. FrontPage...ugh. It writes fat code and puts in IE-only codes so there's no cross-browser compatibility.

2. Use a digital camera or a film camera? If digital, do you print your own pictures, order them online, or send them out?

We just leave them on disk. We've printed out a couple in our APA, but the ink for prints just costs too much.

3. Make your own cards or buy them at a card shop?

Dollar General has lovely cards. I used to buy Hallmark all the time--despite the fact they laid me off--because discount store cards just never said what I wanted them to and looked cheap. But Dollar General's cards are very pretty, nicely printed, and have appropriate verses.

4. Draw your own graphics or get them from the internet?


5. Take showers or baths?


6. Make your own candles or buy them? And are they soy or paraffin?

Make...candles? No candles in the house that we burn. We have a bird. Maybe once a year we light the candles on the kitchen table. Mostly they're for decoration.

7. Celebrate Halloween or not?

Yeah, we did. It was too hot and I wasn't feeling well and we only had about 15 kids. I think they did Hallowe'en on Saturday while we were at trivia. We did have fun on Saturday night. Rockford's was running the A/C high enough so I could wear my black sweats and be a "jellicle cat." Mel had the funniest costume: he dressed as a Knights Templar with a bunny mask: "Crusader Rabbit," of course!

8. Sleep in on weekends or get up early even if you don't have to go to work?

Usually we sleep in, but we were restless this Sunday. I was a bit worried about taking Pidge in the car the first time. He seems to have coped. It was the dog that whined through the entire trip.

9. Correct other people's grammar, or just let it go?

In print, yes.