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

. . . . .
. . . . .  

» Friday, December 31, 2004
The blogchatter du jour is in Holiday Harbour.


» Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Powering Down
Just an ordinary day at work...until the power failed about 8:15 (apparently something fried at the substation, which seems to be a common occurrence in DeKalb County; when I lived there we had at least one power outage a week). We lost everything; we had APCs on all our computers at one time, but they never worked properly--good ol' lowest bidder!--although the units remaining spent the next hour or so beeping pathetically until our LAN specialist turned them off.

Luckily I had brought a book with me, and at first sat under the emergency light reading. But the emergency light got dimmer and dimmer and I finally picked up and moved. A lot of folks have "use or lose" annual leave at this time of the year, so I just found an empty window office and continued reading.

We're often told there's a rule that if the power doesn't come back on after an hour, they're supposed to dismiss us. Well, after three hours someone finally came around saying we could go. As I went back to my desk, the power came back on. (Obviously I didn't get out the door fast enough. :-) But it was kinda hard to find my things in a perfectly dark cubicle.) So I rebooted my computer and sat back down.

Soon my supervisor appeared. "The dismissal is still in force," he said. Turned out it would take at least 2 hours to get the servers back up. Needless to say I didn't let grass grow under my feet.

It wasn't a bad afternoon. I did some errands--picking up prescriptions at Kaiser and perusing both Home Depot and Lowe's for a new freestanding cupboard for the kitchen (oh, and buying new halogen bulbs for the living room fixture; the notation on the box says "Lasts 1 1/2 years!"--uh-huh, two of the three lasted all of seven months...)--and "did" two Borders and two Barnes & Nobles. Cool! Three web design books on sale! I also noticed The Legend of Holly Claus is half price. It's gotten some nice reviews, so I'm going to go back and get a copy.

And I finally found the January issue of Yankee magazine. I was, in a word, upset. For the past two or three years, this issue of Yankee has come with a small calendar of New England scenes. I use it on my computer desk to note which paychecks of mine go for which payments, and also when the trash collection day is different than the usual Monday and Thursday. When we were visiting my mom last month, I saw several small calendars with New England scenery, but didn't buy them because I knew I would get my calendar in Yankee.

Not. It has a booklet about herbs, which, while very interesting, just isn't the same. I grabbed a small lighthouse calendar at one of the bookstores instead...but damn, I'm gonna miss the fall scenes and snowscapes.


Out, Out Brief Candle
Jerry Orbach dead at 69

Lennie Briscoe was one of my favorite television characters; I loved his wry humor. And who could forget his bravura performance as the candelabra Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast?


It's Super Jennings!
It's Ken Jennings vs. Old Champs

A new Jeopardy tournament scheduled to air in May.


» Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Tuesday Twosome is in Holiday Harbour.


Pop Culture Commentary
"Medium Large"


For The Calvin and Hobbes Fans:
Coming September 2005: The Complete Calvin and Hobbes


» Monday, December 27, 2004
"Monday Madness" is in Holiday Harbour.


» Sunday, December 26, 2004
New post in Holiday Harbour.


» Saturday, December 25, 2004
The Turkey Was Delicious, Thanks...
...but here's a plea for the season.


We're celebrating in Holiday Harbour.


Merry Christmas!
And "God bless us, everyone!"

Have a happy day, all!


» Friday, December 24, 2004
Christmas Eve Doings...
...await in Holiday Harbour


What I Want for Christmas
Pigwidgeon's list:

1. Millet
2. Grandma
3. Millet
4. More toys
5. Millet
6. Mama and Daddy at home
7. Millet
8. Things to chew

...have I mentioned millet?

Willow's list:

1. People food
2. Cookies
3. Baby carrots (and Daddy at home)
4. Wet dog food
5. The sunflower seeds out of Brother's food (and Daddy sitting in his chair)
6. More cookies
7. Daddy at home without Mommy

...did I mention cookies and Daddy?


Tis the Day Before Christmas
The cookies are baked.

The presents are wrapped under the tree.

Visits are planned.

The Christmas music is playing.

And I've watched The Homecoming.

Yes, it's Christmas and time to enjoy...


» Thursday, December 23, 2004
Up in the Air
I'm writing about airplanes {yes!} in Holiday Harbour.


» Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Dum Da Dum-Dum!
Remember Dragnet? The real Dragnet, with a poker-faced Jack Webb solving crimes? Many years ago, the great Stan Freberg came up with Christmas Dragnet. It's better heard than read, but here for your pleasure is a transcript.

If you want to really enjoy every silly word, this is on the Dr. Demento Christmas album. along with the now perennial "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," Doug and Bob MacKenzie's version of "The 12 Days of Christmas," and the delightfully zany "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."


» Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Some GOOD News on This Winter Solstice
Sixth Harry Potter Book Due Out in July

July 16, to be exact.

Here's some Q&A for Rowling.


Tuesday Twosome

Holiday celebrations...

1. Do you celebrate a religious meaning to this season and if so, what (Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.)? If not, why?

Yes, I celebrate Christmas. BTW, why ask why people don't celebrate a religious meaning? They just don't, for whatever reason.

2. What does this holiday season mean to you and why?

Warmth within the cold outside: warm house, pretty lights, special treats (edible and otherwise), gatherings with family and friends. I love the lights. It makes every house look welcoming.

3. Which do you enjoy the most: giving presents or receiving presents and why?

Giving, because I enjoy picking out something I think a friend or family member would like. Getting a gift is great, of course, but giving is more fun.

4. Name two holiday movies that best describes the season for you:

A Christmas Story and The Bishop's Wife.

5. Name two holiday songs that best describes the season for you:

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "White Christmas."


» Monday, December 20, 2004
Hot Times in the Old House
I've had hot flashes too long. I can't tell them from a fever.

I think being dizzy should've tipped me off.

So I've been wrapped in a fleece watching Christmas things: Ask the Manager Christmas episodes, Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory, the British Christmas Past and the Voyagers episode "Merry Christmas, Bogg."

And I've been doing some reading (but more about that in Holiday Harbour).


Monday Madness

1. From Becky... How did you learn about computers? Were you self taught?

The first computer I was "exposed" to was in high school. I never got to work on it, though. You had to have an A in math to be in the special class to use it. I didn't want to; programming involved math and that's all you could do with a computer back then: program it to get numbers out of it.

When I went back to school for a year in 1981 I had hoped to take word processing, but they wouldn't allow it if you couldn't type over 60 wpm. Sounds funny now, but word processing was just for trained typists back then.

It took some friends with Commodore 64s to introduce me to the wonderful world of word processing. I'm self-taught in a lot of computer things, including web design.

Funny, when I was in high school my dad urged me to "go into computers; that's where the money's going to be." I didn't have the math grade and didn't want to go into anything that involved math. Years later I am finally "into computers" like he wanted.

2. From Tom... What is your favorite color and why is it your favorite color?

The blue of the sky on a winter day. And just because it's so beautiful and free.

3. From Olivia... What one thing going on in the world right now, has the most effect on you personally?

The war in Iraq. I have a co-worker serving there.

4. From Barb... If you were going to develop your own meme, what kind would you create?

I dunno. I'd rather answer questions than ask them.

5. From Sherle... Why do you enjoy answering memes?

:-) I'm an old broad who likes to share her opinions.

6. From Teresa... What is your wildest dream?

To live in New Hampshire and write books.

7. From Mz. Em... Why do you answer these questions?

Didn't I answer this in question five?


» Sunday, December 19, 2004
Welcome to the 21st Century
Seven years ago I was driving a terrible old Honda.

In 1990, TuneUp Clinic did an unneeded repair on my car while changing the oil and set my beloved Dodge Omni on fire. I needed another car in a hurry due to my commute and a friend found what he thought was a well-maintained Honda for me. It turned out to be a turkey that broke down every six months to the tune of between $500 and $700. At Christmas of that final year I had it, James and I got cellphones. He told me afterwards he was so glad we'd decided to do so: he was afraid of me breaking down and not being near somewhere I could call for help.

We only bought the phones for emergencies and rarely had them on. I rarely kept mine on anyway because three days after I got it I dropped it and it barely held a charge for about an hour.

The cell phone mania passed us by. I still don't understand the reason for wanting to be yapping on the phone most of the time. But I figured it was time for us to upgrade, so we did. We got the lowest price plan Verizon had (I considered Cingular, too, but Verizon had the same plan and a bigger calling area). Even with that, we still get free long distance, no roaming, free nights and weekends, and we can talk to each other (and other Verizon customers) without charge.

When it came to pick out the phones, we got a flip because one or the other of us were always pressing one of the phone buttons and turning it on, then when we needed to use it the power would be drained. (During vacation James' phone woke us up beeping because of low power. He had accidentally turned the phone on during the drive up to DC.) And since we were getting all the bells and whistles anyway, we got a camera phone. It was only $20 more. I can't remember how many times I've seen a beautiful sunset or a cute dog or bird and said to myself "I wish I had a camera." Now I do.

The free long distance will be a godsend. Now I can call my mom any time I like and not have to worry about how much it's going to cost as long as I don't go over my minutes. It will be nice to cheer her up during the day.


» Friday, December 17, 2004
Sometime's Christmas Shopping Isn't Fun...
...but why? I'm chatting about that in Holiday Harbour.


Friday Five

I think I've answered some of these questions before. :-)

1. What is a fond holiday tradition from your childhood?

At my Papà's house, on Christmas Eve and sometimes on Christmas Day, later on all the uncles and Grandpa would play poker. But earlier, when the kids were still alert, we would all play Pokeno with the grown-ups. Our parents would save pennies for a couple of weeks, and we would bet pennies on corners, "bingo," and centers. Then auntie would serve coffee and we'd eat Italian cookies and torrone.

2. If you could start a new holiday tradition, what would it be?

I've always had this hankering to sing Christmas carols around a piano, the way they used to do on Petticoat Junction or The Waltons.

3. What is your favorite Christmas song and who sings it?

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and just about anyone who sings it in the traditional manner (i.e. not screaming or rapping).

4. Is there a certain event, food, television program, etc. that makes your Christmastime complete?

Going out to see Christmas lights, wine biscuits, The Homecoming (and The House Without a Christmas Tree, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas), respectively. And Christmas music. Lots of Christmas music.

5. Does is traditionally snow where you live at Christmastime? If not, do you wish that it did?

No, and I do, even if it's just an inch. Snow makes everything pretty. It's like a magical event when it snows.


Spook's Walk
Arrrgh! Sci-Fi is showing the Kolchak: the Night Stalker series today and I didn't know it!


» Thursday, December 16, 2004
Schroeder Celebrates Today
It's Beethoven's birthday.


Thursday Threesome

::Christmas is Coming!::

Onesome: Christmas-- Hey, an easy start for you, what with the new layout and all: What is your favorite Christmas song? ...and sung or played by whom? You know, the one you tend to listen for on the radio or hit 'repeat' on the player...

Just one? I'd say any Christmas song played by George Winston. I'm also partial to Bruce Mitchell's "Joy to the World." And of course Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas."

Twosome: Is-- Is the longer "Holiday Season" this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas making it easier to get your Christmas act together? Last year's was short; has this year flowed any better for you?

Since I shop for presents all year long, it's not that bad. I don't get myself down to the wire like that. I do have two Christmas gifts yet to buy. Usually something throws itself off the shelf at me saying "Buy me for So-and-So." It hasn't happened with these two people this year. So the length of the shopping season doesn't matter to me. It's longer this year? It doesn't seem like it; the days have just flown by!

Threesome: Coming-- Ready or not, here it comes! Are you ready? What do you have left to do with just over a week to go? ...or are you just cruising?

The two gifts I just mentioned--plus I have to finish something for my mother-in-law and a couple of young ladies. Enough to keep me busy until Christmas!


» Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Nostalgia, Inc.
Remember Woolworths? That's what I'm doing today in Holiday Harbour.

For much, much more Woolworths nostalgia, try Karen Plunkett-Powell's super Remembering Woolworths, full of memories and vintage photos.


» Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Tuesday Twosome

Winter Wonderland...

1. What two things do you "have" to wear when it is chilly/cold outside?

A hat for one. I never did understand those girls and women who wouldn't wear hats so they wouldn't spoil their hair and walked into a building with their ears turning purple. I need gloves when it gets really cold or I can't feel my hands.

2. What are two good things about wintry weather?

It's cool, cool, cool, and the air is nice and breathable and doesn't smell bad. And the sky isn't yellow on the horizon. And at night if it's not snowing it's crystal clear and you can see the stars.

3. What two things do you really dislike about wintry weather?

Um, nothing? No, I take that back--people who act like idiots in cars. They either drive like it's not slippery, or go so slowly they aggravate others. You need to be careful when you drive in the winter, especially on ice, but you shouldn't drive like a maniac and you don't have to drive like great-granny.

4. On average, how cold does it get in your city/town and how long does the cold weather last?

Really cold weather? Usually one week in January. It went down to 8°F one year; that's why our pipe broke!

5. Would you rather be stuck at home because of a blizzard or flooding?

Blizzard. It's dryer.


» Monday, December 13, 2004
New posts in Holiday Harbour.

Happy St. Lucia Day!


Monday Madness

1. From Mel... Do you have a favorite 80's song?

Don't laugh..."Him." Not just because Rupert is a friend of mine, but because it reminds me of Sundays driving out to South County (Galilee, Sand Hill Cove, Scarborough) on Tower Hill Road with the windows open and the breeze blowing in my face and being with Mom and Dad.

2. From Luzja... What's the biggest event in your life to date?

Hm. It's a tie between getting married and buying a house.

3. From Amy... What's one more thing during your lifetime you would like to learn how to do well?

Would like to? I should learn to swim, but I'm still too afraid of having no footing.

4. From Susan... what is your earliest childhood memory?

I was about two or three and we were about to go out somewhere. It was a warm day because the car windows were open. We were still parked in the driveway and of course there were no seatbelts back then. I leaned so far out the window I fell on my head on the concrete driveway. I remember that. I don't remember the doctor or having to go to Boston to the doctor to make sure I was okay.

5. From LDH... What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?


6. From Beverly and Rosie... Where, When and What is your most favorite memory?

Oh, gosh, I can't pick one. One of them would have to be having Christmas at my Papa's with all the relatives and playing Pokeno around the big old table in the basement and eating goodies like macaroni and lasagna along with the turkey.

But then there were those Sunday with James making biscuits and Bandit sitting on my shoulder...

7. From Shirl...Do you fit in?

Naw, never did. Didn't bother me most of the time; didn't want to be a mundane. But when I did I felt a lot like young Scrooge's song in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol: "A hand for each hand was planned for the world; why don't my fingers reach?"

8. From Sherle... Tell me your favorite recipe then go to Recipe Swap and share it with all of us!

My favorite recipe is my mom's wine biscuits here.


Good Fences Make...Bad Backs
The fact that I can sit at the computer right now owes to a good mattress, Advil, and a long, long sleep.

Yesterday was a bit of a blur. We had groceries to stock up on, so had stops at Walmart and BJs. We also had to go to Lowe's for some lumber.

Pertinent digression: Our property backs on an apartment complex. It's a bit "low rent." Most of the folks are just nice ordinary people and the worst trouble we have is someone playing loud music (audible through closed windows with the A/C on) late into the night (but usually on Saturdays when it isn't so bad). But there are a few of the hoodlum element.

Two years ago I stood at the sliding glass doors and watched in incredulity as some "kid" (I use it loosely; he could have been in his twenties) bashed a hole in the fence (apparently to use the wood for something, since he didn't come through). (I would have shouted to him, but the doors don't open.) I called up the apartment complex. When someone finally answered, they sounded properly horrified and said they would do something about it. Yeah. Sure. Some weeks later James took some spare fence panels that were in the shed and used three-inch deck screws and blocked all the broken parts of the fence. It remained okay.

(Digression about the fence: we bought this house from friends. There was originally another fence behind the property, but it was cheap and collapsed. Our friends were going to replace the fence and contacted the apartment complex management to inform them there might be some workers on their property. The complex management replied with asperity that the fence was theirs and they would replace it. And so they did, with the sorriest bit of fencing God has ever seen. Instead of using six-foot solid fencing boards, they used five-foot boards at the bottom of the fence and one-foot boards at the top. They were held to the crossbraces of the fence by only two nails about an inch long; a good kick would take them loose. By the time we moved in, the fenceposts were leaning backward and we had to brace them with other fenceposts.)

Well, I happened to peer out the window the other day and what should I behold but a nice hole in the fence in one of the places James had repaired, where the kids had broken through before (they're too lazy to walk around to our street and want to cut through). The wood was all splintered and pushed aside so someone the size of a 12-year-old might squeeze through. Yes, I called the apartment complex. The line was busy.

So Sunday we bought enough boards to fix the hole, and I helped James push the fence back up a little bit more upright and brace it with the the fenceposts. This, compounded with spending the evening putting up the Christmas tree, completely undid my back, even though I took pain medication from the time we got back inside.

The ultimate solution is to have it out with the apartment complex, I know, but I hate these confrontative issues. If I had something to back me up, I'd be in a much better position. I spent one entire day last winter calling city and county offices attempting to find out if there was some type of ordinance that required the apartment complex to keep a barrier (well maintained or not) between their land and private land. The conclusion: "I don't know" and the infamous "We'll have someone call you back," the latter which was the response when I called them to find out how to safely dispose a computer monitor and if they had a paint recycling center. Need I say that no one ever called back, on any issue?


» Saturday, December 11, 2004
Birthday Doin's
Had a swell day, but it was a good thing my mom called to wish me happy birthday this morning or we would have been too late to go to the bank! We decided to do all the fun things today, so grabbed a quick bite, then went to turn James' shirts in to the cleaner. He dropped me off at Harry's Farmer' Market to get veggies and other goodies and visited the hobby shop. Then we were off to Stone Mountain Park for the "Fruitcake Festival" where the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company was performing.

Their "Atlanta Christmas" presentation was extended this year to a nearly three-hour show (two performers from Theatre Gael also did a reading of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" to harp accompaniment, which was very good). While the usual annual stories appeared (by now they are as familiar and welcome as the well-loved books in our library), this also included a previously unproduced story by the late Thomas Fuller about two boys wishing for Davy Crockett hats for Christmas. I sat absorbing this story with delight because it was basically my own childhood Christmas pushed back a few years. We had one of those boxy old televisions they spoke about. There was also a very funny new story called "A Blue Hanukkah Carol" about a young man stranded at home on Christmas Eve and meeting some very, visitors.

The different sketches were separated by caroling and we were openmouthed with delight when Daniel and Oreta Taylor's 16-year-old daughter soloed "The Carol of the Birds." Sarah has been taking voice lessons and the result was ... absolutely magnificent. She has the voice of an angel. Most of the Company had not heard her sing the piece, so her own compatriots were speechless as well.

After the performance we hit Michael's for a new set of lights (as the one on our wreath seems to have failed) and then went to Media Play where I bought too many DVDs. We ended the night at our usual Saturday night trivia. Mel and Phyllis Boros brought miniature Menorahs and we had a fifth evening of Hanukkah celebration.


Natal Felicitations to Myself
I'm Jack Benny's age plus ten. I think that qualifies me for Old Farte status. :-)


» Friday, December 10, 2004
I Did Something Right
When we brought Pidge home, knowing we were eventually going on vacation, I made the decision to take him with us if we could. The car accident put the execution of the plan a bit behind, but we did get it going as soon as we could. First I bought a roomier carry box and left it next to Pidgie's cage so he could get used to it. Then, one by one, I started stocking it with a mirror and toys and left it open.

His curiosity got the better of him and soon he was clambering in to converse with the mirror. He would toss his toys inside and sit on the edge of the door and look down at them.

Then we started with taking him out in the box, then sitting in the car, then a short trip, then a longer one to Petsmart and Bruster's. I still had my heart in my mouth when we started on that long, long ride.

He did super well--of course the super-sized sprig of millet in there every time he rode inside was a big plus! But I wondered if after the trip was over if he would still feel the same about the carry box. When we got home it went back to its place next to his cage, and when I let him out I still open the box.

I needn't have feared. He goes in there to peck the mirror, or just to climb in and out, and doesn't seem afraid or hold any aversion to it. I expect that means the trip was moderately pleasant for him. I'm glad I managed that. (LOL. He sure enjoyed harassing Grandma.)


New post in Holiday Harbour.


Friday Five

• Last Week's:

1. If you have a phobia (or something close to one), what is it?

Just one? :-) My worst phobia is that I'm claustrophobic. As a kid I couldn't even play hide'n'seek by hiding in a closet and closing the door. Even though "the doughnut" is open and rationally I know I can breathe, even CAT scans give me panic attacks. This is getting worse as I get older.

I'm also afraid of snakes and worms. When I used to read the encyclopedia I would skip those entries. Irrational, I know, but there it is.

2. How long have you had the phobia (or something close to it)?

As I said, since I was a kid for all of them. I still remember the day when I was seven or eight and my mom took me to someone's house. The person who lived there had a little boy and he found out I was afraid of worms. He deliberately dug one up and chased me with it. 40+ years later I can still remember this horrible kid.

3. If you know anyone with a phobia (or something close to it), how does s/he act when s/he is experiencing it?

Well, I know James has to lie down when they take blood. Needles make him slightly woozy.

4. What is one phobia you would wish not to have?

Agoraphobia. How would I ever go anywhere?

5. What is one phobia you wouldn't mind having, if you were to face one?

I don't there a fear of hot places? :-) :-) :-)

• Thanksgiving Week:

1) As a child, where did you go for Thanksgiving and who was there?

I understand we're ahead of today's trend: we went out to eat! My dad's paisan owned a beautiful place called Venetian Gardens, which was on West Shore Road on the way to Oakland Beach. At one time it was a supper club and still had the stage for the orchestra. When we first started going there they had a live pianist, but as the years wore on it was just Muzak. They had a hat check girl and a cigarette girl and the waiters all wore suits. It was pretty spiffy.

Afterwards we would do rounds at the relatives and have desserts. My Aunty Lisa made a mean high-crust apple pie! (Of course I'd leave the apples for my mom and eat all the crust!)

2) What food(s) do you remember best/were tradition then?

Oh, the turkey, because it was the only time of the year we ate it. My mom, as good a cook as she was on other foods, couldn't cook a turkey to save her life. Also butternut squash, but the restaurant always sweetened it too much. There also used to be squash pies. These were like pumpkin, but with a milder flavor. When we went on vacation we tried desperately to find a squash pie in one of the markets. Not even Ruggeri's (the Italian market) had one! I guess it's like crullers and no one makes them any more. I wonder if they are still making rice pies for Easter?

3) Where do you celebrate now, and with whom?

For the past years we have been celebrating with friends. We had a couple of Thanksgivings at Pat and Alex Lucyshyn's house and some at Ron and Lin Butler's. One year we had James' mom, sister, and niece up, but it was as long a ride for them as it was for us. On a couple of our favorite Thanksgivings we went out to eat and then went to a movie.

4) Has your menu changed (if so, whats new?) ?

More sugarless food! I always thought desserts were too sugary anyway.

5) What are you thankful for this year?

Mom being with us another year, not being hurt badly in the car accident (and the car being finally fixed), Pigwidgeon.

Friday Five had an alternative set of questions for those who don't celebrate Thanksgiving, which I thought interesting as well:

1) Was there a holiday meal, a special event meal, or even a weekly/monthly meal that you recall from childhood?

Oh, all those Christmases and sometimes Easter's at Papa's house! We would gather in the cellar around the big old table covered in oilcloth (Aunty Margaret still finds oilcloth somewhere; I didn't know they sold it any more) and eat macaroni and lasagna and roast chicken all cooked on the big black woodstove that had been converted to gas. There would be plates of torrone and Hershey kisses scattered among the homemade Italian cookies--wine biscuits and pepper biscuits and butterballs and almond bars and molasses cookies (and wandi's if someone had the fortitude to make them!)--on the big dresser that served as a sideboard. After dinner we would play Pokeno and the men would play poker or sneak upstairs to watch football with their eyes closed. :-)

2) Who would gather with you for this meal?

My dad's family. We'd see my mom's folks on Christmas Eve (actually, since her older brother and his eldest daughter lived not five minutes from us, we saw them frequently).

3) How about these days?

There are special Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with friends now. We also go out and eat Saturday nights and play trivia with friends.

4) Who dines with you this time?

See above.

5) If you could create a gathering, why would people gather, who would you invite, and what would you eat?

This question attracted me because I've always had this secret wish to have one of those swell gatherings like they used to have on Petticoat Junction. I dream of a big get-together with lots of simple homemade foods (nothing fancy dessert-wise, either), and later everyone gets together and sings Christmas carols around the piano.


» Thursday, December 09, 2004
New posts in Holiday Harbour.


Thursday Threesome

• This Week's:

::Jingle Bells::

Onesome- Dashing through the snow: Do you get much snow where you live? Do you enjoy winter sports like skiing or would you rather stay in by the cozy fire?

No, unfortunately or fortunately as the case may be. I love snow. I love to walk in it. However, if I tried to shovel snow now after years of inaction, I'd probably have a heart attack.

Twosome- In a one horse open sleigh: Have you ever been on a sleigh ride or a carriage ride? Do you even like horses? Or would you just rather travel by your own two feet?

I've never been on a sleigh ride but would like to. I was on a carriage ride at least once, in Helen, GA. I've even ridden a horse. I was up too high and it made me queasy, but it was a nice ride anyway. I don't want a horse. They're expensive to keep and to keep them properly you need to spend a lot of time with them.

Threesome- O'er the fields we go: What's the first thing that pops into your mind when someone says field? Corn? Football field? Outfield?

The field across the street from our house when I was a kid. There were two levels to it, the upper field where we had outdoor gym class (my junior high was across the street) and the lower field where the guys played baseball on summer nights. This was a right-of-way for the railroad and you could cross the field and cross the train tracks. The tracks are gone and it's a bicycle trail now, and the field has been fixed up. There's a jogging track around it and a playground and they've replaced the batting cages.

It looks spiffy but I kinda preferred it when it was wild.

• Last Week's:

::Dancing Polar Bears::

Onesome: Dancing-- Dancing? Does anyone go dancing anymore? I mean, disco died, and the club scene? Hmmm... Is dancing dead? ...or are we just here on the web instead of out for the evening?

Dunno. A lot of fun things aren't done any longer. Maybe folks have two left feet like I do. James and I shuffled through our first dance at our wedding reception.

Twosome: Polar-- Polar bears seem to do well in the snow... How about you? Is snow just another thing you deal with when it shows up, or is it shutdown time? ...and if you're posting from a non-snowy locale, do you make trips to actually see snow? It's okay to admit it...

I love the snow. It's ice I don't like. You actually have good traction on snow as long as you don't go too quickly. Ice is just treacherous. I tried to see snow over vacation, but we didn't have time to go quite north enough. They were probably making snow at Killington and Pico.

Threesome: Bears-- Bears? Christmas Bears? Have you seen the number of bears on the shelf this year? Are you getting one for anyone? ...or are you looking forward to receiving one? ...or do you still think that inguana in the elf outfit is more your style ?

I am probably one of the only women on earth who doesn't give a fig about bears. I had a special teddy when I was little, but still preferred my stuffed dogs. I have two bears right now, but they are special gifts that I keep because of the sentiment. Most of the time when I get bear-themed things I give them to people who like bears.

• Thanksgiving Week's:

::Christmas Bells are Ringing::

Onesome: Christmas-- Is it Thanksgiving? ...or just the day before the start of the "Christmas Season"? (...and how are you supposed to shop if you're all stuffed with food?) Hey, is anyone going out tomorrow to save tons of money standing in endless lines with 10,000 of your closest friends? Just curious...

Oh, it was Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving, and I hate the fact that Christmas prep starts so early, distracting people from it. We have gone shopping on previous Fridays--if you get up early enough and plan your route with the sale papers, it's actually fun and profitable. Two years ago we got nearly $200 of computer parts and equipment for about $40. But this year we were away and didn't have much room in the car--the darn car is a TARDIS considering how much extra we did squeeze in it: the books we bought, my dad's memorabilia box, a manuscript, the bags of sugar-free candy, the bag of things from the Vermont Country store--oh, yeah, and that extensible Wolfgarten pole for the rake! We had to fold half the back seat down to get it home, but we made it.

Twosome: Bells-- Okay, we'll give in and admit that maybe the season has started: what decorations are you looking forward to seeing in the next few days? ...the lights in the downtown? How about knowing you'll soon have a tree with that memorable ornament? The Toys for Tots drop off? What makes you comfortable knowing the Christmas season is really here?

Oh, the beautiful multicolor Christmas lights and the music. I love both. Sometimes I play Christmas music when I'm depressed, but it doesn't feel quite right; now is just the time for it.

Threesome: are Ringing-- your ears? What song are you just dreading to hear this season? Come on, the one that just makes you scrunch up inside and want to duck into an iron foundry so you can't hear it? Weird Al? Something from "The Nutcracker"? Those dogs? I mean come on, there's some bad stuff out there ...

Even worse than the dogs. "The Christmas Shoes." Once upon a time, this was a beautiful little anecdote about a man (or a woman, depending on which version) who discovers the real meaning of Christmas from two little children who purchase a last Christmas gift for their dying mother. Then it was expanded into a book and a totally bathotic Christmas song that makes me flinch every time it plays.


» Wednesday, December 08, 2004
New post in Holiday Harbour.


Happy Hanukkah!
Play the dreidel game online:

History Of The Driedel


» Tuesday, December 07, 2004
A Day to Remember
Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan...
After having seen the World War II memorial in DC, this day is all the more meaningful.

Some excellent Pearl Harbor links:

National Parks Service: USS Arizona Memorial

US Navy's Pearl Harbor Site

National Geographic's Pearl Harbor Site (sigh--ignore the links for the awful movie)

Pearl Harbor Remembered

Pearl Harbor Attacked

Eyewitness to History: Pearl Harbor (this entire site is fascinating)

Facsimilie of Roosevelt's Speech to Congress

I'll have to watch my copy of The Waltons' "Day of Infamy" tonight. It captures the individual reactions of Americans on that day quite well.


A Song to Sing By
At home last night found the held mail carefully stacked on the porch table. After disposing of half in the wastebasket and putting the first Christmas cards up, I dug into the two boxes from which contained something for James, the second series of All Creatures Great and Small (it has the Christmas episode "Merry Gentlemen" in it), the widescreen version of 84 Charing Cross Road, and the last series of The Good Life; we watched "Merry Gentlemen" and the first three Good Life episodes later.

As I used the "secret region hack" to change the DVD player to Region 2. James asked curiously why I didn't just keep it on Region 0 ("bypass," as it's known on our unit).

Good question. I think I had it on "bypass" at one point and a couple of my Region 1s wouldn't play, my old version of The Andromeda Strain being one of them. (The new version plays fine on that setting.) So I tried different Region 1 and 2 versions until I was satisfied it was good in general. (I can always change it if I have a problem.)

The final DVD I tested was The Secret of NIMH, skipping through scenes to get to the credits where Paul Williams sings the theme song, "Flying Dreams." James and I fell in love with this song when the movie came out. I used to sing it to my budgie Sylvester. It's why our APAzine and our website is named "Flying Dreams." It's the song we danced to at our wedding reception in RI. So we stood there and cuddled as it played, reliving a lot of nice memories.


» Monday, December 06, 2004
Cool Cats
Here's the cover to Rupert Holmes' next book, Swing. It looks delicious all of itself.


Catch Up Time #1
Monday Madness

• This week's:

1. From Briar... and Sherle... What's your favorite TV show and why?

I don't have a favorite TV show right now. I may start watching House, though. I liked what I saw last week.

2. From WickedSway... What's your sign?


3. From Beth... Why is common sense so uncommon?

Oh, there's an IMHO for you. Probably because people want things too quickly. They don't stop to think before they do.

4. From Bug... What are 5 (or 10) great things about your life partner?

He puts up with me! He cooks. He has a good sense of humor. He gets along with my mother. He reads. He doesn't like sports.

5. From Elena... Why do you blog? Are you a writer at heart? Is it a passion? Or because it's en vogue?

Don't follow "vogues." I've been writing since I could set pen to paper. It's as natural as breathing. (Heck, when my allergy's bothering me, writing is easier than breathing...)

6. From Lady Starlight... How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?


7. From tmk... Fiction or nonfiction?

These days nonfiction.

8. From Moody... If you were an animal, which animal would you like to be, and why?

Lassie. I'd be kind, gentle, and help everyone all the time. :-)

• Last week's:

1. How did you choose a name for your blog?

It seemed everyone was blogging, but I didn't have a particular theme. Since I always have kept a journal anyway, this was "yet another journal." "Holiday Harbour" was a holiday refuge. "Cozy Nook"--well, doesn't everyone want a cozy nook to read in?

2. How many times have you changed the name of your blog?


3. How many blogs to you update regularly?


4. How many times have you moved in your life?


5. On a scale of 1-10, how stressful is moving (in your opinion)?

42. :-)

6. When moving, do you/would you rent a moving van/truck?

Yes. And have had the help of wonderful friends. They deserve all the credit. THANK YOU.

7. Do you wear glasses? If so, how old were you when you needed them?

Yes. Ten. My best friend snitched on me; she told my mother that I couldn't see the blackboard.

8. What one question would you hope someone running a meme, would ask?

I can't think of a one. Why do you ask this on a Monday. (Never mind, why do you ask this on a work day?)

• Thanksgiving week:

1. What is your favorite sport?

Dog agility trials. (Team sports? I don't do team sports.)

2. Do you watch sports on television?

Just dog agility trials, "bench" shows, and horse jumping.

3. In high school, did you (or do you) play any sports?

Play them? I couldn't even figure out where I was supposed to throw the ball when we played softball in gym class. The only games I liked were dodge ball and tag and those were considered babyish after second grade.

4. Any favorite teams?

The Clydesdales that pull the Budweiser wagon. :-)

5. If applicable, did you (or do you) attend your child's games?

It's not, but if I had a sports-minded child of course I would attend his/her games. I'd want to support them.

6. Do you think professional athletes make too much money?

Damn right. Let them go out and get an honest job. (This of course leaves being a politician out...)


Check Out The December 6 Strip
James and Willow have made the comics:

Raising Duncan


» Sunday, December 05, 2004
Endgame, Part 2
Well, we're in for the night, and pretty much mostly unpacked. Pidge has been running up and down his cage roof tossing bird toys off the floor (he did it at Grandma's, but not to this extent; he found it much more fun to jump on Mom's head and get her attention) and Willow is lying on her dog bed, blissful on the fleece (she already had her recliner fix when James sat down earlier). Not quite sure what to do with everything (it's remarkable what we packed in the car). And we're actually cold for the first time in two weeks. (We also had a decent night's sleep for the first time in ten days; Mom's mattresses are both over 30 years old. She said wistfully late Friday night that she should have had us go with her to buy a new one. Arrrgh! We could have gone on Wednesday, after it stopped raining.)

We went from one extreme (below freezing) this morning; by the time we got to North Carolina we had to peel off our jackets because it was in the sixties. It was another clear blue-and-white day for most of the ride (we should have known it was going to be nice, as we had seen a magnificent scarlet and orange sunset last night), and we got to see all the beautiful country we missed on November 20 because of the fog and then darkness: lovely farms--lots and lots of cows, both dairy and feeder steers--and rural landscapes against the line of the Blue Ridge. The steep roads that had led up in the clouds on that Saturday were clear and we saw an outspread valley to the East; it was still a bit hazy and you could still see for miles.

Pidge got his first turndown today--after we'd brought him into a Wendy's and also the Russell Stover outlet store in North Carolina (where I-77 and I-40 meet) and the South Carolina Welcome Center (they were serving wassail and apple doughnuts--yum!). The clerks at the Russell Stover store actually made a fuss over him. They didn't have any of the boxed sugarless dark chocolate, so we stopped at the larger store in Anderson, SC, and they wouldn't let me bring the carry box in. The manager was apologetic; it was because they served ice cream. Actually, the fact that we didn't get directed out of the other places was the big surprise; we just waited outside while James shopped and Pidge was cooed over by a half-dozen elderly ladies who came in as part of a bus tour.

Willow scarfed down a plain junior Wendyburger with relish and actually challenged a bigger dog at a rest area. Wow.

BTW, many thanks again to Charles Rutledge who suggested using Route 321 instead of taking I-85 into Charlotte. Apparently construction has made the interchanges a mess there. 321 was a great road and we even found Public Radio's delightful current events' quiz show, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me playing both times we were on it. Mostly we just listened to Christmas music until even I was sick of it. Oddly, we noticed most of the "Lite" all-Christmas music stations are 102Mhz, 103MHz, 104MHz, or 105MHz.

Unfortunately the moment we got north of Atlanta, it started to rain, so we had to schlep all our things into the house while getting wet. We're good at it, though, and didn't get too damp. (That was left for the run to the grocery store for the necessities of life: milk and a Sunday paper.) The only bobble we had was the DSL modem not working. I guess if you don't use them for a while they shut themselves off. James rebooted both the router and the modem and everything is now fine.


» Saturday, December 04, 2004
Endgame, Part 1
"I'm so glad we had this time together,
just to share a laugh or sing a song.
Seems we just get started and before you know it
comes the time we have to say "So long."
It was a bridge-and-river day mainly--it seems the return route is all via major bridges over major rivers: the Connecticut, the Hudson, the Delaware, the Potomac, and more (plus one tunnel going through Baltimore). (Once again it was a beautiful day on the Hudson as we went over the Tappan Zee Bridge and I didn't have a camera ready.) An unremarkable day, thankfully; traffic good except for some gawpers holding up traffic to see the accident on the northbound lane. This morning was the most painful, loading the car and saying goodbye to Mom...we had a case of the weeps for a few minutes and my dinner tonight was only minimally appetizing. The worst part was not getting enough sleep last night, between "last-night blues" and hot flashes. Should have left the bedroom window open despite it being in the 30s.

Pidge has two more "locations" under his belt: on the ride up we stopped at both a Maryland House restaurant and a New Jersey service area and took Pidgie in the restaurant with us (James got a lot of attention sitting with him in the Jersey place). Nobody minded. Today we brought him in another service plaza, a McDonald's in Connecticut and also a convenience store with a Blimpie inside on the Garden State Parkway (NJ again). Not only did anyone mind, but a tiny child kept asking me questions about him and the convenience store people all said "How cute!" I also walked him around a rest area building in Virginia. Poor Willow. Too bad so many bad dogs have to ruin it for good dogs.

We arrived at the McDonald's in Connecticut at the same time as a bunch of tour buses. I think they were those organized shopping expeditions that go to New York City before Christmas to see the store windows and shop. The line was horrific...and let's not talk about the one to the ladies' bathroom! (As always, there was no line at the gents!)

We finally "lighted" in Harrisonburg, VA, after a lovely sunset drive--and the sight of a herd of deer in Manassas' National Park--through the mountains, in a Motel 6. Quite clean and adequate, but a step down from the TownePlace Suites, that's for sure! We found a Bob Evans to eat supper at and procured a loaf of the yummy pumpkin bread.


» Friday, December 03, 2004
The End of This Part of the Story
We had a quiet day. While Mom was at radiation, I did some things to help her. She's been having trouble operating the DVD player, so I color-coded some of the buttons for her. She's also been struggling with the portable TV in the kitchen; she doesn't have cable and this thing has a useless "power" antenna that barely gets the local stations--and it has one of those stupid round UHF antennas on it to boot. (Found out one of the problems right away; it was set for "cable" instead of "antenna.")

So after she got home we went to Radio Shack to get a regular set of rabbit ears and a bow-tie antenna for the UHF. I used to get a dozen stations with that combination; the silly thing she has now barely gets three. We also had some keys made and I bought her an "Ove glove." She cooks a lot with her toaster oven and uses a clumsy oven mitt. The Ove glove is Kevlar and very flexible. We also stopped at Garden City Shopping Center for some chocolates and then had hot cocoa and pumpkin bread at Starbuck's.

After our errands we visited some of my relatives: my Aunty Margaret and Uncle Johnny. They were, as usual, at my Uncle Guido's house, which used to be my grandfather's house. Right now Uncle Guido is at a nursing home after a fall, but is supposed to come home soon. We caught them half-napping, but talked for about an hour about various family events, and my Uncle Ralph, who lives next door, stopped over. We would have stopped to see my Aunty Lisa, but she doesn't sleep well any longer because of leg pain, and was trying to nap.

We had supper at Chinese and, before and after, got things packed and mostly in the car. James made tea for the trip. All we have left to load tomorrow is the small suitcase, the toiletries, the laptop, the "black bag" (which has the cameras and Willow's extra towel and goes wherever it fits), "Fred the traveling pillow," the animals, and ourselves. I can't believe we fit all those books in the car! Willow was not happy with all the packing. After six years with us she's still afraid we're going to abandon her.

Finally we could sit down and relax and watch The House Without a Christmas Tree.


» Thursday, December 02, 2004
A Little Bit of the Country
James and I took a nice long drive today; it was perfect weather, cool and clear (at least until we got close to our destination). I said, "Let's see if we can find some snow," so we ran up I-95 and I-495, first to Marlboro, MA, where there was a hobby store called the Spare Time Shop that he'd read about online. This was a small store, but crammed literally ceiling to floor with plastic models, fantasy card games, military/aviation books, model rockets, and other hobby materials (James saw everything but train supplies). You could probably look around for a couple of hours before you saw everything.

From there we drove west (US 2) and then north (I-91) to the Vermont Country Store. This is the "new" store in Rockingham as opposed to the original store in Weston. It's a fascinating place. They truly are a "country store" in that they sell clothing, gadgets, and even some "grocery items" like cheese, preserves, and maple sugar/syrup products, plus they have soaps, candy, toys, souvenirs, dishtowels and regular towels, slippers, blankets, sheet sets, Christmas ornaments, gardening implements, books, and probably a lot more things that I've forgotten. They also have a "discount barn" with out of season items. Some of their items are old brands and items that have been discontinued everywhere else. You can get old-fashioned candies like Mallow Cups and Charleston Chews there, a Chatty Cathy doll, Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, Evening in Paris perfume, Beeman's and Clove gums.

And of course the place was decorated for Christmas, with trees and roping and garlands.

We stopped to take some photos on the way out and I looked up at the sky. It was starting to turn from grey, high clouds to that lighter silver that occurs before it starts to snow. It was about 42°F, but I said, "It could snow." In a minute or two, it was snowing, just briefly, a small flurry of flakes around our heads and the front of the store.

Rockingham is off I-91, which runs up the length of the Connecticut River (its source is somewhere in Canada), and on the east side of the road is the valley surrounding the river. It must have been magnificent with color about five or six weeks ago, but now the grass spreads alternately green, brown, and yellow behind the sketched branches of the trees. On the return trip there was a parking area across from one of the vistas where they had trimmed the trees down enough for you to see beyond. It was all very pretty and peaceful, even if there were only a few flakes of snow.


» Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Like Grandma, Like Grandbird
We had a whopping rainstorm this morning, but ventured out to buy Pidgie a new water container and stop at the big Barnes & Noble on Bald Hill Road. The rain wasn't bad most of the time, but the wind was gusting into the 20s, sometimes into the 30s (it's been into the 40s up in Boston). James also stopped in at the Apponaug Hobby Shop.

The moment we settled in the house the rain went away, although it's still mighty breezy out. We were reading with the television on in the background--and both Mom and Pidge fell asleep, her in her chair and Pidge in his cage, next to each other. They look so cute being asleep together...