Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Sunday, July 31, 2005
A Sneering Sherlock Holmes?
I've just seen the Masterpiece Theatre preview of a new Sherlock Holmes adventure that will be on in the fall, with Rupert Everett as Holmes. I can't say that the previews make me want to rush to watch the story. Everett seems to play Holmes as a pretty boy with either a sneer or a petulant expression, kind of the Hayden Christianson school of acting.


Grimy and Gritty
We slept late, then spent most of the afternoon up in the attic (about four hours all told) because it was "cool" today (77°F) and will be in the mid to high eighties for the rest of the week. The attic is really an unfinished second story, and the person who could put some money into fixing the upstairs would really have a nice family house (especially if they fit in a tiny half-bath).

The attic has always been one of my favorite places, repository for the memories of our lives. I would love to go up there on cold winter days and rummage through the box that had the old newspapers in it: there was one that predated the house, of President Franklin Roosevelt's death, and also battle maps of the European front from about three months' worth of 1944 Providence Journals, but my favorite items in that box were the "hurricane book" that the Journal published after Hurricane Carol in 1954, comparing the damage done to that done in 1938 and my dad's photos from World War II (except the one I wasn't supposed to look at, which I didn't—it was of bodies at a concentration camp). Mom also kept the winter clothes up there in the summer and vice versa.

The ironic thing is that Mom actually did some cleaning of the attic several years ago. She told me she was culling things out and did I want all my Reader's Digest issues. I did, but I had absolutely no room for them, and reluctantly told her she could dispose of them. I hated to do it. From our own issues and ones I collected at flea markets, I had issues back into the 1950s; these were the good Digests, not the ones they have now that are lots of pictures and "big colored words." The Book Sections alone were worth the issues.

But there is still a lot of junk up there. I can't believe she made me give up those Reader's Digests and kept a huge, about 30"x30"x30" box full of old sheets, towels, and other raggy cloths! Not to mention my old vaporizer (I had colds a lot as a kid which turned out to be my allergy), ancient plastic flowers and Christmas centerpieces I made that she wouldn't put on the table anymore because they were dirty, old shoes and sandals (I remember the beige ones she wore to the World's Fair!), bank statements going back ten years, and empty boxes for Christmas gifts. Heck, my white robe and mortarboard from high school graduation are still hung up. Mostly what is up there are old clothes and fabrics, and more drinking glasses than any human being should be allowed to have. Back when I was in my late teens or early 20s, I went upstairs to label the boxes so we'd know what we had. I scribbled pointedly on one bag "Even more glasses!"

Now there's some other glass up there that might have been my grandmother's. It might actually be Depression glass. But I don't know.

Of course there's a bunch of my old things up there as well: photos that were on my bedroom wall (Blake's 7's Avon and Vila, Doctor Who things), old fanfiction, stationery, craft items, a Disneyland map from either 1975 or 1978, etc. I threw out a ton of things, but couldn't bear to give up all of it. Don't know what to do about my artwork from school; probably will chuck it. It's not particularly interesting or stunning.

We did find some useful things: more silverware, brand new, and some sets of knives from Imperial Knife, which is no longer in business (my uncle used to work for Imperial Knife).


» Saturday, July 30, 2005
I Feel Dislocated...
...I can't explain it. There's still lots to do, but I feel as if everything is stopped and I no longer have any function.

I did find the copy of Centennial I made for my mother—thought it was off TBS, but it was from the old Family Channel—so I'm a bit happier.


The Final Journey
We're here chilling out from the funeral.

We were picked up at 8:30 and escorted to the funeral home where we had a chance to pay our last respects alone, then the folks who wanted to be in the funeral cortege arrived to do the same. Then we had a prayer and people were called to go to their cars. We were left with my mom's nieces, Linda, Paula, and Debbie, who we had asked to ride in the limosine with us (their mother, my cousin Anna, had been sick all night and remained home).

We had a funeral Mass at St. Mary's in Cranston—I'm glad Mom got to see the church after they remodeled it; it is lovely, all the paintings and statues now bright and clear—and then were taken to the chapel at the cemetery for another short blessing before it was over. (We did not have a graveside service; Catholics don't usually do that.) Most everyone who was at the Mass came back to the house for goodies and the house got real small real fast! We had pizza slices, sliced smoke sausage in barbecue sauce, cookies, pastries, cake, and three different kinds of sandwiches. As many people who came over, we still have lots of leftovers; we don't have to make lunches for a while and have lots of desserts. (We have a couple of dinner invitations, so maybe we'll take some of the pastry with us as dessert contributions.) Everyone stayed about an hour and then James cleaned up the food while I vacuumed and started a load of clothes washing.

Now we're sort of flaked watching cooking shows on WGBH, Wil's sprawled out on the carpet, and Pidge was sleeping up on one of the curtain rods before he came flying down to join us.


» Friday, July 29, 2005
Thanks to Everyone Who Posted...
...a greeting on Mom's obituary at Please feel free to add one!


So Tired...
Had an hour nap and am still exhausted. We had to be at the funeral home by four and we had forgotten to pick up James' suit jacket. So we left five minutes early to get the jacket and then sat at the home for an hour waiting for things to start.

I was very pleased with the job the funeral home had done. Mom's right eye, which is facing the "rear," is natural-looking from that angle: they actually removed the blackened tumor and the eye is no longer swollen and even has eyelashes again. I have no idea how they did it. There are some wrinkles around the cheeks and you can see how painfully thin she was, but those are tiny quibbles compared to how awful her eye looked. I used to catch her looking in the mirror when I helped her in the bathroom and I know she was sad.

It was pleasant seeing both sides of the family again, but sad knowing how many of the older relatives couldn't come. It was also revalatory seeing cousins I'd last seen as toddlers or infants in arms! Some of our neighbors came as well, including Cindy's parents, the Gustafsons, whose other daughter Diane (younger than me) is undergoing chemotherapy again—she has had cancer for serveral years now. And my best friend Sherrye and her husband attended, but Sherrye's mom wasn't well enough to come. :-(

So we finally came home at nine and finished tidying the house for tomorrow. My eyes are sooooo heavy. We should get to bed soon as we are being picked up at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow. I hate to lock up. It didn't get violently hot today, but the house does hold heat and get warm at night, and there's a nice breeze from the fans now.


Not an Adequate Photograph
...but here's the collage that my cousin Janice did.


Fresh Cow Products

We had breakfast at a little breakfast/lunch/catering place called T's on Park Avenue—the food is to die for; I had french toast and James had a combo deal so big he couldn't finish that included an omelet, sausage, pancakes and whole-grain toast. We ordered some sandwiches for the "collation" while we were there.

Then we went out to "the farm" (Wright's Dairy Farm) in North Smithfield and got some cream pastries, cannoli and eclairs, "straight from the cow," so to speak, and also some cinnamon pinwheels and cookies. (Also got hermits and a special dessert for each of us.) Came back to pick up the punchbowl and talk to cousin Anna and the rest of the family, and then stopped by DeFusco's Bakery to get the one thing Wright's didn't have, some lemon squares. These are nice and sour and lemony, with a sweet crust.

Am now home to rest before we have to shower and go to the wake (viewing).


» Thursday, July 28, 2005
Family Business
I spent the morning getting some cleaning done in the house: washing the floor and tidying the kitchen. It was cool again, so that doing housework was not a chore. It's been so hot for the last two days I've been on the verge of hysterics—heat just makes me want to burst out crying.

I also finished the clothes washing, and gathered up all of Mom's books that I didn't want. We took them out to Readmore in Taunton, MA, which only took about half of them, and we got some odd assorted books with the credit, plus I bought a book about the Blizzard of '78. We came home and dropped the books off, then, since it was three and James hadn't eaten lunch, had a quick bite at Friendly's: salad for me and soup for him, and of course both an ice cream (no dessert for us tonight!).

We had talked with my cousin Anna about having something after the funeral, like a luncheon, at a restaurant. Before people would bring food after the funeral, but apparently it isn't being done anymore. I thought about it and called a few places, but it bothered me. I don't want to go to some strange place after my mom's funeral. So, if we still can, we are going to get some finger sandwiches from a place called T's on Park Avenue. Plus we bought some rugulach, brownie bites, marble cake (which we sliced), and other finger foods at Stop and Shop and are going to the bakery tomorrow for others, and bought some paper plates and things (in blue, which was my mother's favorite color), and are going to borrow a punch bowl and make punch with the juice and soda my mom had stocked up on, and just have it in the house ourselves.

Had a quick supper and fixed all the things we bought on plates and trays, I shaved my legs and ironed our things, and now we should be going to bed.

The operative word is "should."

Other stuff: we took Twi through a car wash today. It was the kind where you sit in the car and the brushes and mops and things come around you as the car is pulled through the wash. I had a damn panic attack from the claustrophobia and was freaking for a couple of minutes and felt like I couldn't breathe, which was stupid because the air conditioner was on the third notch and clearly blowing air in my face. I hate this. It's getting worse and worse.

My cousin Janice came over while we were eating supper, with the collage she had made of the photos we had given her. It is absolutely stunning. It is about 36 inches long and 24 inches high and divided in half longways. The pictures on the left are of Mom up till the time she got married and the ones on the right after I was born, the ones on the right being almost all in color. She bordered and divided the photos with a repeating red rose (my mom's favorite flower) photo. It's lovely. I will have to post a photo here.

The guy behind us put up a new fence separating the properties today. He took down our chain-link, which my dad had to replace when I was in junior high because the heat from burning the paper (we used to burn the paper back then, before air quality laws, in a big aluminum barrel that looked like a trash can except it had holes in it to allow the fire to burn) had melted part of the fence and also because the stupid kids from the junior high used to jump a different, sagging part. The neighbor also replaced what was left of my godmother's chain-link fence, which gave me a bit of a pang, because that bit of rusted fence was around 80 years old and was all that was left of the "speedway," the car race track that had been here in the 1920s. (It was originally a horse track where Governor Sprague could race his champion trotters, and then later a fairgrounds. My dad said he saw a Wild West show like Buffalo Bill's here when he was a very little boy, probably about 1920.) It's silly to be sentimental about a fence, but I am; I spent a lot of time in my godmother's back yard when I was little, sitting under the grapevine arbor that was there back then, and eating fruit with her mother.


» Wednesday, July 27, 2005
About 6:30, Darkness Fell...
Well, it seemed like that anyway. One minute bright sunlight, the next it was clouding over.

We promised ourselves we'd treat ourselves to a good dinner sometime. We had it tonight: we went to Legal Sea Foods on Post Road. This is a "branch" of the original Boston restaurant. It's a little more upscale than, let's say, a Red Lobster, and the prices show. But the food is equal to the price.

James had something called a Shrimp Trio, double baked stuffed shrimp, cocoanut fried shrimp, and wood grilled shrimp, the last which he liked the best. I gave into my cravings and actually had an appetizer for dinner: steamers. Steam little clams, serve them with clam broth to rinse them, dip them in drawn butter—ahhhhh. Also had a mixed field greens salad. Yum.

It rained while we were there and the temperature dropped 14 degrees.


Waiting for  Godot  Thunder
Sheesh. Last week I couldn't wait to get rid of the rain and now I'm checking the radar map every fifteen minutes like a worried mother who has a kid late from the prom and grumbling, "Where is that frappin' line of thunderstorms heading this way?" Well, the first volley is in Hartford at the moment with the actual line back on the New York border. C'mon, get a move on, willya?

I slept horribly last night and the heat is making me stupid and sleepy and giving me a headache. I keep throwing water over me and then going back for more ten minutes later.

We went out earlier to bring James' suit to the cleaner (or the "cleanser," as it is known in Rhode Island), and also went in search of ice cube trays because the two Mom had do not fill his iced tea pitcher. Had I been thinking we'd have gone to Benny's—it's the closest "they'll have it!" place since Woolworth's bit the dust—but instead we went in search of an elusive dollar store, with a stop at Linens'n'Things to buy fans for the other three rooms. All are going now, plus the big box fan in the hall.

And then of course the dollar store didn't have ice trays. We found 'em in Stop and Shop, though.

The dollar store was up where the Christmas Tree Shop and A.C. Moore, the craft shop, are. We stopped at both places yesterday after our abortive trip earlier. I like Moore's—it carries different things than both Michael's and JoAnn and I picked up a gift for a friend there. I need to go back: they have much better fall garlands than either Michael's or JoAnn—those two are opting for these horrible autumn leaves that are just a chenille-looking material in which a leaf shape has been cut out of rather than trying to make the darn leaves look like actual maple leaves. Moore's has leaves like that, and also floral candle rings, which I can't find in either of the other two stores. I use the floral candle rings as small wreaths for the glass doors (I have to replace them every few years as the house faces south and the wreaths eventually fade and rot away from the sun). I went crazy last year looking for them and had to settle for small twig garlands instead. They also have a bunch of small wooden Thanksgiving motifs. It is very hard finding Thankgiving-oriented things in Georgia. Someone at work told me once that Thanksgiving was a "Yankee" holiday, which may explain it, but certainly all my friends all know and remember the holiday!

The Christmas Tree Store was rather a bust: all they have now is summer junk, in bright pastel colors. Ugh. I did get a nutcracker; I keep buying the silver ones they sell in the supermarket and they don't make the corrugated edges which crack the nuts with sharp edges any more (I guess it is "dangerous" or might "hurt children" or such nonsense); they are rounded and when you try to crack a nut, it slips right out of the nutcracker. What use is that?

And we had Del's Frozen Lemonade on the way home. It helps, if just for a while.

James and I have been slowly cleaning out things; it's too hot to do more. We did Mom's top drawers, which were where all the bills and things were kept, and found some change and the money she had put aside for church, which I took. (I'm a bit ticked off at her church for what happened when she was sick: I called to ask that she receive Communion and in three weeks the priest came just once and stayed five minutes! David, the nice lay person the Hospice sent, came once a week religiously [no pun intended] and prayed with her for around a half hour. What happened to sick calls and support from your parish? Sheesh. She's been going to that church for 50 years and that's all the spiritual support she gets!)

Among all the old papers and assorted detrius of life we found a book from 1951 (maybe from when they bought the house) 1003 Household Hints and Work Savers which includes advice like making sure you clean the ashes out of the furnace and using "the wire on top of milk bottles" to make hair curlers, and a copy of the original issue of Reminisce magazine, which I've been getting for years.


Brent: re newsreaders, check your comments.


Today's "Duh!" Moment
From Associated Press:
TV Guide is slashing the circulation it guarantees advertisers by about two-thirds and relaunching itself as a large format magazine with far fewer TV listings and more emphasis on lifestyle and entertainment, the magazine announced Tuesday.

The radical changes to TV Guide come as it struggles to remain relevant in an age where many TV viewers get their listings from on-screen guides provided by their cable companies or online.

The new TV Guide, which will launch with the Oct. 17 issue, will contain just 25 percent listings and 75 percent stories, versus the 75 percent listings and 25 percent stories it has now, the company said early Tuesday.
I thought the whole point of purchasing TV Guide was the listings. And that the biggest complaint against TV Guide and why people use online listings is because the magazine has defaulted to grids which tell you nothing about the episodes. So instead of listening to what readers want, they're going to turn it into another Entertainment Weekly, People, or any other trash entertainment rag out there. ::snort:: That figures.

Of course I remember when TV Guide actually wrote informative articles about not only television's stars, but other people in the business, about the business side of television, and other subjects having to do with that medium. It was a magazine for adults, and didn't cover movies that had nothing to do with television, NASCAR, and rock stars, and didn't resort to collectors' covers to sell issues. Kids could read it, too, but it was written for adults.

Granted, cable has made the job of reporting "what's on" more difficult, and it's no longer fun to collect TV Guides from other parts of the country, as I used to do as a child when we went on vacations. It was interesting seeing the local programs and personalities, and notice the farm reports in the midwest, the surf reports on the coast, and the ski programs in the mountains, and what other interests the local folks had.

But if TV Guide isn't there to give us the listings, what the heck's the use of it?

Somewhere Walter Annenberg (TVG's founder and first editor, who hoped TV Guide might have something significant to say) is spinning in his grave—and the RPM will darn near run the power in the city of Philadelphia.


» Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Previews of Hades
It is fiendishly hot here.

"I don't want to hear you," I'm sure I'll hear a chorus from anywhere the actual or virtual temperature has been 100°F or over. I'll remind you denizens of the 100-degree-zone that most of you do have air conditioning, or, I hope, a house that was built for hot weather: high ceilings, tall windows, and/or adobe. This is a small, old house built for cold weather; in hot weather, even with ceiling fans, it's downright tropical.

Pidgie seems to be taking it the worst. He's sitting around with his wings raised to get cool air, even though we have him near the fan. I put out a bowl of water for him and let him out—Frisky, the budgie we had when I was a girl, always took flutter baths on hot days—but he wouldn't avail himself of the water. Willow is just lying sacked out.

We have all the ceiling fans roaring, the floor fan on, and a little fan pulling whatever cool air there is in our bedroom. It's still sweltering.

It's tempting to run to Lowe's or BJ's and grab a window AC, but the temperatures are supposed to be cool by Thursday and it seems silly. It's been okay at night and tolerable during the day. Plus we're going to have to pay for a collation after the funeral and we need the money.


Mom's Obituary

We found a blue casket for her that has a "reverse" cover so the left side of her face, which was less ravaged by the cancer, will face forward for the viewing on Friday.


» Monday, July 25, 2005
Rest Day
We slept late (as well as we can sleep on that old mattress and a bed that squeaks!) and had a leisurely breakfast. We had forgotten things at the grocery store yesterday and the panty hose that I bought did not fit, so we went back to Shaw's supermarket after we couldn't find the right size hose at Walgreen's. Also stopped by Border's—it seems the only way I can get my Best of British is here; the Border's in GA doesn't carry it any longer. And James sent a fax to work at Office Max. Then we went to B.J.'s for milk; much better paying $2.36 for a gallon of milk than $3.69!

When that was all home and put away, we took some time for ourselves and went to the hobby store in Apponaug, and then were going to go to A.C. Moore (craft shop) and the Christmas Tree Store. Unfortunately we went into Stop and Shop first to get stuff we couldn't find at Shaw's—Campbell's chicken broth (!!!!) and Hood's Carb Countdown chocolate milk for James. We thought the insulated bag was in the car, but it wasn't, so we had to come right home instead of hitting the stores. Oh, well.

After supper my cousin Janice and her mother, my Aunty Ella, came over; Janice has volunteered to do a collage for the funeral service. She had a bunch of pictures and I was going through the ones here: talk about a trip down memory lane! I really need to scan some of these wonderful photos and put them online. There are shots of Miami Beach in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s vacations, and more recent things.

We are watching something on PBS called The Perilous Fight: America's World War II in Color, two hours of color footage from the 1940s. It's wonderful; I wish I'd known it was on to tape it.

Mom would have liked it, too.


» Sunday, July 24, 2005
In Residence
It was a lovely Virginia morning, cool enough for us to go on open windows until about ten. The mist was hung over the hills in the distance, showing clearly why they are called the Blue Ridge. If I didn't love New England so much, I would love to live right there in that valley.

If nothing else, we would love to spend some weeks vacation just working our way up the attractions off I-81. There are at least a half dozen different caverns (I've been to Luray, but would love to go again; for someone who is claustrophobic, I still like caves—at least caves with the lights on!), a natural bridge, the Skyline Drive, several birthplaces, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library (think of the wonderful old photos!), and other things.

As we drove north, Wil and Pidgie added two more states to their tally: a little sliver of West Virginia and then Pennsylvania. We wanted to avoid DC, Baltimore, the Jersey Turnpike, and NYC, so we took I-81 north. We had a choice between continuing and catching I-84 eastbound in Scranton or taking what looked like a shorter route west on I-78 to Allentown and then on through New Jersey, to take I-287 up to the Tappan Zee Bridge and then catch I-84 or the Connecticut Turnpike on the other side of the Hudson. We took the I-78 route and got caught in patchy traffic, were held up on the way to the bridge, and then ran into a backup on I-84 just east of Danbury. The latter could have been the worst: as we rounded a curve the traffic backed up and there was a big pillar of black smoke ahead. Luckily we were near an exit, the car in the next lane let us over, and we could proceed east on US6 for a few miles until we skirted the problem and got back on the freeway. We could see the westbound traffic all backed up as it headed for the problem. Perhaps it was a truck fire; the plume of smoke was quite tall and big.

We reached my mom's house about six thirty and decamped. I had let my cousins know we were coming, so all the windows were open and the house wasn't so stuffy. We immediately set all the ceiling fans to "afterburner" and started the big floor fan and the little window fan. My cousins had also left juice, milk, eggs, and bread, but we still needed to make a grocery run, so we went to Shaw's (with a stop for some cold Del's frozen lemonade first), then went to my cousin Anna's house where they were holding their annual party for the church feast, and had some supper and exchanged hugs with everyone. This is St. Mary's Church's one hundredth anniversary and they were having a bigger "do" than usual. We had to make our way through the crowds assembling for the fireworks as early as six p.m. as we arrived.

They had a spectacular fireworks display, judging from the flashes we could see from the house, but the fireworks themselves weren't visible because of the trees. When I was very small we could see the fireworks from the front steps.

Lord, it's hot, and going to be horrible on Tuesday and Wednesday.


» Saturday, July 23, 2005
Greetings from Virginia
We're in Harrisonburg, VA, at the same Motel 6 we stopped at last fall. Different room, though, still at the back of the motel; these must be the pet-friendly ones.

I still feel disconnected, and vaguely guilty that I am here traveling. And every time I see something interesting, I think "I need to tell Mom..." Damn.

We left late (9:30 a.m.) and I still only managed to get five and a half hours sleep. James said it was too quiet. First time in weeks without the baby monitor on.

It didn't take too long to load because we put about half the stuff in the car last night. "Twi" is chock full because we have an extra suitcase full of dress clothing.

It's been the usual trip: Willow threw up the first hour, Pidgie is as always unflappable and singing. We decided to take a chance on cooler temps and did the Highway 321 North at Gastonia (SC) to I-40 to I-77 to I-81 again. No such luck about the temps; too damn hot. Like last time, we picked up Wendy's for lunch in South Carolina and then ate it at the North Carolina Welcome Center rest stop at the picnic tables at the pet walk. Doing scans through the radio dial made me long for satellite radio. Finally gave up and listened to two Our Miss Brooks episodes and a Kraft Music Hall (Bing Crosby with special guest "that rising young comedian Phil Silvers").

We stopped a little after eight and had supper at Bob Evans (figures; they only have the pumpkin bread in the winter—they are on top of a hill and we saw from that summit an absolutely gorgeously spectacular scarlet sunset) and stopped at Barnes & Noble for some magazines and dessert: a double fudge chocolate cupcake that we split. Nothing much on TV, even with cable.

We're pooped.


» Friday, July 22, 2005
Empty (Warning: Reality Check)
It's finally come back to bite me.

We waited for the nurse to come over this morning to do the paperwork and call the funeral home. She walked in the bedroom and said, "Oh, my goodness, she's so small I almost didn't see her." She did the paperwork and destroyed all the narcotics and made the call to Nardolillo's. Robert Nardolillo immediately called a embalming service here, and the two gentlemen came—in suits!—to fetch Mom's remains. The stretcher they brought probably weighed more than Mom did.

And so she was gone.

I had taken the fleece and afghan Mom was using as blankets right downstairs and soaked them in the washer because they smelled rank. She hadn't had a chance to wash since her decline on Sunday and I was quite aware being in the room all that time that she wasn't clean, a fact that would have embarrassed her had she been conscious. I had already decided to throw out the three bedpillows, but there were also two chenille sofa pillows being used as support that I thought could be salvaged, and the comforter could be washed or even dry cleaned (she was lying on top of the comforter rather than under it because we wanted to allow her to sit up when she wanted).

In hindsight, we should have gotten the hospital bed, but by the time I thought to ask for it, she was unable to be moved without screaming in pain.

I know certain bodily functions happen at time of death, but had never experienced them. I know now. James had bought a plastic cover for the futon mattress itself and the egg-crate pad over it. It didn't help. We had to trash everything because it was so badly soiled: the pretty pale yellow and powder blue striped comforter Ann and Clay gave us as a wedding present, the blue and white goose sheets, the mattress pad, all five pillows. Poor James started to walk into the room and had to retreat the first few times, almost throwing up. The smell had also gone through the plastic sheeting and we tossed out the egg-crate foam as well. The futon mattress seems to have escaped, we hope. But the odor seems stuck in my nose.

Once the hospice folks came by to collect the potty chair she had never used, we were free. We went out, nothing to keep us home. We went to Barnes & Noble, then stopped at Cold Stone Creamery. My stomach was so upset I couldn't tolerate the thought of cooked food. The ice cream is good, but nothing spectacular. We stopped at Border's so James could get a book. We got some air freshener (a gel that is supposed to absorb strong odor like cat urine) at Lowe's, because even with everything out of the spare room and disposed of elsewhere, it still was overwhelming. Then we got Ortho and a big bag of baking soda at BJ's and came home. We had already treated the futon mattress and the carpet with the pee-be-gone stuff and now I scattered baking soda all over the room and set the air freshener in the middle of the room. And it will stay like that till we get home.

Then we both took a jug of Ortho and went out to treat the doors and windows and foundation of the house. The "feels like" temperature was 99°F.

We had showers, and I then spent about an hour arguing with Kaiser about giving me a refill on my Atenolol. There were no refills on my prescription and I had never been given a new appointment for a checkup. I only have fifteen left and that was too little for me. At this point James, whose International Plastic Modelers Society group were having their national convention this week, went back to the show for a few hours and I took my car, which had its oil changed and was trip-vetted this morning, dropped off my library books, went to BJs to tank up, and then stopped at WalMart for three things for the trip.

James stopped by Kaiser on his way home and got the pills. When he got home my body had given out. I had stomach cramps and diarrhea, and was suddenly woozy. So instead of going out we had supper in. The soup was good, but it's given me roaring indigestion and I am so sick I could throw up.

Cleaning the room was the worst physical part, but now I'm feeling the psychological effects. I am empty. There is no one to run upstairs to care for, or no one to call on the phone. The house that in March was just right for the four of us now seems too big without there being five of us.

Hells bells, I'm knackered...


Mom passed away this morning somewhere between six and seven...James was up with me most of the night because her breathing was so horrible and I had gone back to bed with him about six so he could get some sleep.

Before I did I opened the window in her room and told her it was okay to go.

She's free.


» Thursday, July 21, 2005
The News We Weren't Waiting For
The nurse says Mom is failing fast. She could pass away at any time, but it is expected that she will not last through the weekend. I'm upset, but not as upset as I could be. After eight weeks of caring for her, I have seen how much she has suffered. All I want is for her to be at peace. She'll be with my dad again, and my godfather, and her sister and brothers and parents. I know it will be a happy reunion. (I like to imagine that Frisky, the budgie she loved best, and all her dogs—all named Brownie—will be there to meet her, but that's the way I am. To me it wouldn't be heaven without my animals.)

At this point, we are planning to drive up. Before you say I am absolutely crazy, let me tell you that I already discussed this with the gentleman from Nardolillo's Funeral Home (who will contact a funeral home here to deal with things) and that our timeframe is open. Mom's remains can be shipped and stored until we get home. Driving will be cheaper than flying. We can take the animals with us, although I know they would be perfectly safe either at camp or with our friends to care for them at the house. But the most important reason will be for us to both decompress after watching Mom decline, and on the return trip we can take some time to comfort ourselves and our souls. We can possibly stop to visit friends, or perhaps stay overnight with them.

The trip is not set in stone. The gentleman from Nardolillo's says arrangements can be made if we want to fly. We may decide to. But right now as miserable as I am and as cooped up as I have been, I feel it would be good to be on the road with the man I love most in the world and our "fids."

Preparing for the trip has given me something to do between looking in on Mom. I'm washing clothes and have the suitcases out to air. If we do drive I already have Willow's things packed and can clean out Pidgie's carry box next. I have called the guy at the car care place near us and he is going to call me tomorrow to see if we are still planning to go through with the trip. If so, he is going to get a ride over, pick up "Twilight," change the oil and get the car tripworthy, and bring it back. I will not have to drive there at all.


The Sounds of Night
Been awake since about three-something. Checked Mom, wandered around, went back to bed, checked Mom again, coughed some, checked Mom again because she was moaning slightly; at this point it was four hours since the last morphine and I gave her another dose in case. I don't think she has to worry about becoming a drug addict at this late date and the nurse has said repeatedly it will ease her breathing. Then I went back to bed, hoping James would wake up. No chance. Probably for the best; he's going to have to be there to hold me up when I fall down.

So now I'm down here doing what I do when I'm troubled; I write. I'm trying not to disturb Pidgie too much, but he gave a faint, questioning "Cheep?" when I turned the computer on.

It's not just Mom, it's thinking about the whole "dog and pony show" that has to follow. I want a nice service for her, but from this vantage it looks like a nightmare, with the added ordeal of having to do it in midsummer. Death plus slow roasting on a spit of Mother Nature's making. What a daunting prospect.


» Wednesday, July 20, 2005
And The Big News for the Day
James Doohan, Star Trek's Scotty, Dead

Mom took me to my first and second Star Trek conventions, but I don't think Jimmy was at either of them. However, he was at another of the New York conventions I attended, the one we affectionately dubbed "Snowcon" because there was a blizzard the day we were to leave and we had to stay over another night. (Ironically, there was no snow in Rhode Island and my dad wanted to know why the heck I couldn't get home that night. Well, because the trains were up to eight hours late!) So in honor of the extended holiday, the six of us (Ann, Alice, Mary, Rosie, Gail, and I) had a party in our room. Then Gail and Rosie went off to supper. Mary was feeling claustrophobic and Ann had a migraine and they went off to someone else's room down the hall, and Alice and I joined them because we wanted to watch the end of Backstairs at the White House.

Anyway, while we were all away from our room and the party was in full swing, James Doohan and his escorts showed up and we didn't even know it until after they left! We were told he had a nice time!


This was my comment on May 21, after we had purchased the new HVAC (heat and air conditioning) unit for our house:
I hope it makes the electric bill a little lower like they claim!
Well, I still haven't gotten the electric bill, but I noticed that our gas bill (it's a gas furnace) has gone down $15! James thinks it's because it has electronic ignition instead of a pilot light.

I'd wondered how much gas a month that pilot light burned in summer. I guess that's my answer.

As for the electric bill, I don't expect it to be very cheap. Since I am home and Mom has been upstairs and I have wanted both of us to be getting air, I have been turning the temp down, at least in the afternoons, to around 75°F or sometimes less.


For Crying Out Loud...
...isn't it ever going to stop thundering and raining?

And yet Mom slept through all the racket... ::sigh::


Nothing to Do But Wait and Pray
Mom had a very bad night last night. She has been complaining about her back, so she was lying flat, but after we went to bed she was breathing heavily and raspily, and was coughing something fierce and moaning and crying. I had given her the dose of liquid morphine the nurse indicated was appropriate at this stage and half an Ativan, but it wasn't helping. We finally turned the lights on and called the advice nurse, who said she could be administered additional doses of the morphine until she stopped coughing and quieted down. So I gave her a second dose. We also propped her up on pillows—unfortunately with much pain involved—and set up the cool-air vaporizer I had bought for Bandit; the book the hospice gave us said keeping the air in the room moist would help.

The second dose did it and she mostly slept, but was restless from 4 a.m. on. Needless to say James nor I got much sleep. I was up with him—good thing, too; he needed a collar button resewn—and have been up in her room most of the day. She can barely interact, and it's further disheartening because Mom can't even use the straw any more to drink, and she's slid down on the pillows again, so I can't use the glass to give her water. (I can't move her; she cries out when I do, or try to lift her head so she can drink. I'd be afraid of her choking on ice.) Then I remembered the syringe I bought to give Bandit his medicine way back when; a second, unused one was still in the medicine cabinet. I can suck water out of the glass with it and put it into her mouth; she can take this little dose okay.

To keep myself sane I keep dubbing things: I can check their running time, set the stopwatch setting on my alarm clock, start whatever, and then go back upstairs. It keeps a routine going that helps. So far today I have copied two New Lassie episodes, the television movie The Big Time about the early days of television, the two part Swiss Family Robinson (Martin Milner version with a young Helen Hunt as one of the kids) about Jean Lafitte (Frank Langella...sigh...), John Belushi's tour-de-force in "Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise," the inferior-but-cute "The Love Boat: the Next Generation" with Patrick Stewart, The Peter, Paul and Mary Holiday Concert, and the Lassie Christmas episode "The Little Christmas Tree" (which came off Discovery Kids and looks like hell, but is still, after all, a copy).


» Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Nurse's Visit
She basically says I'm doing everything right. She talked to my mom without my being there, but I was in the bathroom during part of it and heard Mom say to the nurse she thought I was doing too much! And I think I'm not doing enough!

The cough Mom has developed since yesterday I've been told is natural as secretions build up. It's not a cold—her lungs are clear—but something the body does when it's beginning to shut down. Her heart rate has also increased, which I've noticed each time I take her pulse.

The nurse said the next time Mom is agitated that half an Atavan will do, which is what I figured. She also says that at this point when the Percoset is finished it's time to start the liquid morphine, but the smallest dose possible.



Something About Harry...
...with today's "Scribblings" entry.


» Monday, July 18, 2005
The Sound of...
...I don't know. Mom's been up since about four. I helped her change and use the bathroom, and then sit up with the heating pad on her back, which hurts. She's in an odd mood. She knows who I am but seems distant. She ate a few bites of watermelon which I fed to her. She dozes off but is mostly sitting with her eyes half open looking at nothing. Somehow this is worse than her sleeping all the time.

My cousin Eileen called and Mom expressed an interest in talking to her, but she just held the phone and kept telling Eileen "I can't hear you."


The ativan did make Mom relax, too much. She slept on through when we went to bed and muttered and murmured all night. Every time I went to check on her she would be sound asleep and quiet. At least once she was awake enough to want water.

Finally about five I heard a thump in the room. Mom had reached for her water and instead knocked over the tray it was on. I mopped up the water and gave her a drink and it was only then she was awake enough to take the pain pills.

Hopefully I did enough to keep James from waking up most of the time, but I'm sure he was "underslept" as he headed to work. Mom was quiet, so I stayed abed until ten, when she was stirring and complaining of pain again. I tried talking with her but all she wanted was the pain medication and to go back to sleep, so I let her.


» Sunday, July 17, 2005
Sunshine [Not Much] and Shadow
Gawd, it rained again today. This morning I opened the bathroom window to see what the weather was and the back yard smells like primordial ooze. I swear—smothering heat and the smell of vegetation and mold.

Went to bed late and then Mom woke me up at three a.m. needing to use the bathroom. We were a half hour at that and then I couldn't get back to sleep until five. So I had about six hours sleep, but wasn't doing too badly. Mom was still asleep and slept most of the day. James ran out for some groceries and a paper before noon and a little bit after noon, I went out for an hour to get Pidgie some birdseed.

About six James was making supper. Mom was awake and I asked her if she wanted a little steak. She expressed an interest in it (!!!!) but needed to use the bathroom again. As always, the trip to the bathroom tired her. She was washing her hands and asking me to do something—the question was a bit incoherent; I couldn't understand it—when suddenly her knees started to shake and her head wobbled and she didn't answer me. This passed after about 20 seconds, but then she wasn't able to hold herself up. James hurried upstairs and helped me get her into her bed. She was scared—who wouldn't be?—and finally murmured that she had suddenly gotten dizzy, but her hands were shaking and I was scared, so I called up the hospice nurse, who called back immediately. She was concerned about the shaking and asked if I could give her one of the Atavan tablets that are in the emergency kit. This I did, and it did help relax Mom.

Boy, did it. She was sleepy within ten minutes and I let her sleep about a half hour and then checked on her again. She was talking to me, but it was mumbled and incoherent, but she was able to indicate her back hurt and she wanted to lie down. I had to call James again. She was literally limp and he had to pull her up while I turned her legs onto the bed and then he had to shift her.

She let me know she wanted the light out after some questioning and now she is sleeping again. ::sigh::


» Saturday, July 16, 2005
I have had time to read all of the new Harry Potter because Mom has pretty much been asleep all day. She awoke, as is becoming sadly usual, in a lot of pain—it really upset me that she was calling for her mother—and I gave her two of the pain medication as instructed. (I found out only later one dribbled out of her mouth, so she didn't get the required dosage.) She was still asleep a little after two when I ran out to get some more watermelon and see if the pet store near Kroger had Pidgie's seed (they don't). James said he didn't hear her move, so somewhere while we were moving cars she got up and went into the bathroom by herself (I'm not sure how she even managed it). I found her when I got home a few minutes later.

Since she was already up I asked her if she would like a sponge bath and she said yes, so I did all the ablutions. She is positively skeletal now, with less and less spare flesh every day.

The sponge bath only took about fifteen minutes but it completely tired her out and when she got back to bed she admitted she was in pain, so I gave her her pills and let her go back to sleep.


Pottermania Redux

We have to wait how long until the next one?


James stayed at home and I went to Borders; in return I bought him a book.

The line was so long I'm already up to Chapter 4.


» Friday, July 15, 2005
Sleepless in Atlanta II
Sorry, Mom was awake again and I went to sit with her for a bit. It started to thunder and Willow immediately appeared in the room and sat on my mom's feet (Mom was sitting up at this point; she's now lying down again). Oh, and yes, it's raining again.

Anyway, when the nurse got here at two, I had been sleeping, so it helped a little. Mom was completely unresponsive to her. She just kept rubbing her eye and either not saying anything or grunting. This is the first time the nurse has seen her so; as I mentioned in a previous message, Mom seems to either relax or withdraw with me and "act" or respond with visitors. The nurse says she seems angry; that she knows she is getting weaker and can't do anything about it.


Sleepless in Atlanta
At bedtime Mom was awake and took her nightly pills well. Unfortunately she seemed to be awake half the night, too. I went in and look at her several times; at one point she asked me who I was at least twice. Another time she asked if she were in the hospital. Most of the time she was unintelligible or echolalic. My nose was so stuffy I couldn't sleep anyway, so it was mostly a sleepless night for me. What I regret is James getting woken up, too.

This morning she was awake as James was preparing for work. Surprisingly, she was weak but making some sense. She said she'd been awake all night because her back hurt. She said her eye hurt and wanted her pills, and then asked for something to eat. I got her a little bowl of Rice Krispies and she managed four teaspoon-fulls. I was half asleep and spent a good deal of time sitting at her side. She asked me a couple of questions about where James was; I told her I had permission from work to stay with her. She started repeating "permission from work to stay" and then fell in a doze.

She eventually told me she wanted to go back to sleep and she did, and by the time the nurse came over, was incoherent again. She wouldn't even talk to her.


» Thursday, July 14, 2005
A Low Day
I have developed a stuffy nose and had a hard time sleeping last night. I was finally sleeping comfortably when Mom stirred, at the dreadful hour of 7:30 a.m. (it's dreadful when you didn't get to sleep until after three). She was fairly coherent, used the bathroom, and took her pills, and then went back to bed. James was home today, so we might both be sleeping late, so before going back to bed myself I pulled on some clothes and took the garbage out (since we can't leave it outside because of the feral cats).

I got up about ten or afterwards, still feeling tired. James went out for a while, including "hunting" down more boneless pork loin, chicken wings, and turkey legs at BJs. I was up and down the stairs about every half hour, but Mom didn't stir until dinnertime, except at four when I gave her medication, which she took, half asleep. At dinnertime, which wasn't until almost 8 p.m., she was raspy and fairly incoherent and echolalic. I would ask her a question and she would answer, repeating it at least a half dozen times. This time it took both James and I to get her up and to and from the bathroom. When I asked her if she wanted the television on, she said it was a silly name and asked what a television was.

I tried to take it easy today, not wanting this stuffy nose or cold to develop any further, taking some preventive meds. When I wasn't checking on Mom I was re-reading Airport and dubbing off A Sentimental Journey: America in the '40s (Reader's Digest special that was on PBS, run time nearly three hours) and Irving Berlin's America. My DVD of 7 Faces of Dr. Lao had come, so we watched that after Mom was tucked back into bed.

Maybe I'm going to sound mean or callous now, but I am wishing that some night she just passes away quietly in her sleep. I pray for it at night. It is hard enough seeing anyone weak and disoriented, but it's even harder seeing this in my mother. She was always a little thing, 5'2" just like me, but with more chuzpah than I could ever hope to have. She always spoke up for herself and knew her own mind. When the girls she worked with at the factory wanted to speak to management, Mom was usually the person they chose to represent them. She wasn't afraid to talk to the supervisors. When she was pressed to get married because she "wasn't getting any younger," she preferred to be an "old maid" before she went into a relationship with someone who would order her about or even worse, bully or abuse her as she had seen in other relationships. She wanted to be independent as long as possible and didn't get married until she was thirty because of it. Dad provided our income for half of my childhood, took care of his family, cared for our things, his car, our house, our yard. But Mom was most often the mover and shaker, and they never did anything without one consulting the other. When Dad died Mom picked up her life, learned to drive, and took care of herself again. She didn't go looking for another man to take care of her.

So knowing that and seeing her nearly as helpless as an infant and bewildered and without direction is difficult. All I can hope is that I'm doing all the right things and smoothing the way for her. I can only pray for a release that will set her free.


» Wednesday, July 13, 2005
DVD Coda
Mom still sleeping. I'm relaxing after having the sinus headache from hell; someday it's going to stop raining.

Oh, and I also got another movie out of the way: The Haunted Honeymoon. Not the Gene Wilder/Gilda Radner flick, but the only Lord Peter Wimsey story ever filmed for motion pictures. It's a pretty faithful if abridged version of Busman's Honeymoon, but Robert Montgomery (yes, Elizabeth's dad) plays Lord Peter. Constance Cummings is Harriet Vane and Sir Seymour Hicks is a rather elderly Bunter. WXNE only cut two minutes out, so it's relatively intact if a bit snowy.

As Lord Peter adaptations go, I know Edward Petherbridge looked the part more and was closer to the correct age, but my heart will always belong to Ian Carmichael.


My God, It's Raining Again
It's been raining on and off all day, in fact, with the appropriate thunder. This time we're having a storm the radar says isn't there. :-) At least on the screen it looks like the storm is going south of us on its way east, but thunder is still rattling the panes and making Willow woof.

Been a depressing day anyway. Mom is obviously hurting, but this afternoon she started to protest about taking her pills again. She finally let slip that it was a bit difficult drinking the water. Right now I don't know if it's because she's been drinking from a straw that I'm holding most of the time, and I'm not pulling it away on time, or if her swallowing reflex is actually shutting down. The latter is a clear sign she is deteriorating, according to both the nurse and the book I read.

It's silly, but what I really mind—aside from the most important problem that she's in pain—is that when she is contrary like this she calls me names. Not bad names and I know she doesn't mean it, but it's upsetting to be told to go away and that I'm a "pain in the ass." All I want to do is what's good for her, and she knows that, but the pain muddles her.

I have discussed that with the nurse, and she says she will get a prescription for a higher-dose pain patch again. This will help keep the pain corralled. The nurse says it's hard, but that if Mom refuses the medicine I should just come back later. When the pain is bad enough she will take the medication, and I have something I can give her if the swallowing really is a problem. But it's hard to wait and know she's hurting, too.


At the DVDs Again
Been up since eight, so had a chance to nock off a bunch of things from tape to DVD when I wasn't upstairs:

The last two episodes of The Day the Universe Changed.

The Royale: Back when it was a classic movies station, AMC wanted to create another series, this time about the movies, to run back-to-back with Remember WENN; this was their first effort. The protagonist is a 10-year-old boy named Billy who is a latchkey child since his dad was killed in the war and Mom has to work full time at the grocery store. With his buddies, he runs in and out of the local movie house, The Royale. After Billy does $100 worth of damages to a promotion in the theatre, he's allowed to work off his debt by helping Carl, the projectionist.

This show had a promising plot that fell flat after the first episode (there were three; AMC finally strung them together as a movie, which won Pat Carroll an Emmy Award as Best Actress in a "Children's Special"—huh? this was not a children's story). The other two stories had to do with Billy writing the script (!!!) to English-overdub an Italian art film that turned out to be risque and the theatre offering dancing classes while Billy wangled his way into staying on at the theatre when his debt is paid off.

Some of the characters were quite good: Billy is an interesting character, as is Mildred, a retired teacher who is now the ticket seller, and also Carl, who lost his son in the war, thereby setting up Carl and Billy in a father-and-son type relationship, and Mildred and Billy in a grandmother/favorite aunt and boy relationship. On the other hand, there were big problems: the supporting characters were bland, stupid, and badly acted, from the milquetoast theatre manager to Kermit the martinet head usher to the vapid usherettes. The Italian art film plot was plain stupid; not even someone as stupid as the theatre manager would allow a 10-year-old to translate a film. In addition, the entire Billy/Carl relationship was completely rushed into 57 minutes when it could have been hinted at and developed later in a series.

And one more glaring anachronism: Carl was African-American. Granted, in the 1940s area The Royale took place in (I think it was New Jersey), maybe racial relations weren't as bad as they might have been, let's say, in Mobile, Alabama, or Nashville, Tennessee. However, Billy and Carl's relationship is clearly modern, and no one ever objects to Carl's race. Indeed, the entire town seems to want to "mother" Carl. The only negative comment about Carl comes from Billy, who describes him from "coming from the wrong side of the tracks."

The next transfer was Paramour, another AMC production that was supposed to pair with Remember WENN. This one took place in 1943, about a horse racing magazine that is losing money, so its publisher brings in a new editor—a woman named Samantha McRae, "Sam" for short—to turn the rag into a movie gossip magazine. The publisher's feckless nephew Robert Brandt, who's the executive editor in name only since he spends his days partying and drinking, is incensed...until in the course of four episodes he manages to...of course...fall in love with Sam, whom he hated and was fighting with just two hours earlier.

Again, another show that had a lot of things going for it: the actors included Simon Jones as a college professor turned gossip columnist, a pre-Broadway-smash Kristin Chenowith as one of the layout artists who ends up doing movie reviews (and other duties as assigned) on the new magazine, and Audrie Neenan, who was so deliciously nasty as Miss Cosgrove on Remember WENN as the gum-snapping secretary. But the show itself was...dreadful. G. Ross Parker and his co-writers the Seegers gave a good try in reproducing Rupert Holmes-type snappy/clever wordplay, but combined with abysmal stories it was no go. The characters came off as the Remember WENN characters recombined: for instance, Neenan's secretary was a cross between Maple LaMarsh and Gertie Reece, editor Sam McRae was a more streetwise Betty Roberts with a touch of Hilary Booth, etc.

The worst of all these recombinants was David Andrew McDonald, who was stuck with the thankless role of making Robert Brandt into a sympathetic character. He appeared to be based on Scott Sherwood, with the good looks of Jeff Singer, and with the integrity of neither. While Scott came off as a scheming entrepreneur in his first appearances on WENN, he had some charming qualities and exhibited initiative and conscience. Brandt is a lazy boor whose acceptance into the armed forces makes him no more appealing; in fact one is longing for him to reach North Africa and get shot by one of Rommel's Afrika Korps.

Of course the last of AMC's projects, The Lot, which made the last two look like Oscar winners, was the one that eventually replaced Remember WENN and lasted for about a dozen episodes or so. I recorded the first four, hated all the characters except the wardrobe man (who, I discovered later, was supposed to be gay, but AMC balked at something so "risky," so they made him British instead), and nearly rolled off the sofa laughing at the ridiculous scene were they all gather around the radio in Hollywood listening to the arrival of the Hindenberg in New Jersey, gasping and crying when they hear it catches fire and crashes. Duh, guys, this stuff wasn't broadcast over the air as if it were covered on CNN back in those days, and certainly not cross-continent; people would learn about the tragedy later on a news report.


Sigh...Oh, Well...
"Today's Return to Flight launch of Space Shuttle Discovery has been postponed due to an issue with a low-level fuel cutoff sensor onboard the vehicle. The sensor protects an orbiter's main engines by triggering them to shut down in the event fuel runs unexpectedly low."


» Tuesday, July 12, 2005
From James' Blog
I am:
James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice B. Sheldon)
In the 1970s she was perhaps the most memorable, and one of the most popular, short story writers. Her real life was as fantastic as her fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?


Discovery's A Go
T-23 hours: Return to Flight

Good luck! I'm looking forward to this next space mission!


Mom woke in a great deal of pain this morning and, I hope, has been sleeping since. I keep running upstairs to see how she is and she is sleeping then, so I hope so. She has a growth in the right corner of her right eye that is getting bigger by the day. This is what the doctor removed by surgery in April, but it did not stop the progress of the cancer. It was pinpoint size when I first saw it and now is about the size of a nickel, black and burnt-looking. Mom keeps rubbing at it when I don't have it covered by a cold compress and the edge has been bleeding.

I should be dusting but am feeling a bit sleepy this morning and am dimly watching Connections instead.


» Monday, July 11, 2005
By the way, I forgot to mention that on our excursion Saturday we went to see what the new Chapter 11 discount book center looked like. If you remember, the last time we visited Kudzu Discount Books on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, they said they were going to close and be replaced by a Chapter 11 discount book center, and I was a bit melacholic about it because Chapter 11 has never struck me as much of a bookstore; lots of bestsellers and a few bargain books and not much else, and Kudzu often had unusual or odd books among the chaff.

Alas, the store is up for rent; I guess a discount center didn't materialize.

If you look up, you can still faintly, faintly see the old outlines of the letters for the old Woolworth's sign; this was the Woolworth's closest to me when I moved to Atlanta. ::sniffle:: I still miss Woolworth's.


On, On, Brief Candle
Mom was actually up for a few hours today: she sat up and watched Frasier and the news. But during Days of Our Lives she said she was hurting and wanted to go back to sleep. So I gave her a backrub with some alcohol and her regular pills, and that's where she is now.

Meanwhile, it has stopped raining—for now, I understand, as the forecast is for thunderstorms for the remainder of the day. This morning it was pouring so hard you could hear the rattle on the baby monitor. (I looked out the window about nine o'clock and saw kids playing in the rain! Wow; catch my mom ever letting me do that way back when!) Then it stopped. Then it rained hard again. Now the sun is out and it's steamy hot.

Between times I've been vacuuming and sorting coupons and finishing the laundry, and dubbing off The Day the Universe Changed. I believe I've found James' copy of Connections, too.


» Sunday, July 10, 2005
Just Another Rainy Sunday
Mom has slept all day except for a brief bathroom visit where I rubbed her back and she brushed her teeth. I was actually up early because I was afraid the VCR wouldn't go off: CBS Sunday Morning did a super, super 10-minute piece on Rupert Holmes (when's A&E going to do a Biography?) A lot of times these interviews are flip and sarcastic, but this one was very pleasant.

I got three more dubs out of the way, three Disney documentaries, and finally got a nice (letterboxed!) copy of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution from TCM.


» Saturday, July 09, 2005
Out in the World Again
Mom has slept most of the day so far, except for moments when I have had to give her pills. The increased dosage of Percoset seems to be keeping the pain down, but it may also be making her very dopey.

Thanks to Alice (Thanks, Alice!), James and I got out a few hours today. We went to Fry's for lunch.

Don't laugh. A friend of ours—hi, Charles!—is always talking about how good the Saturday "soup of the day" is at Fry's, Italian wedding soup. So I had some in a bread bowl and James had it straight with a club sandwich that had real ham, not the processed junk they give you in many places, and even real bacon. It was good, too, and we wandered about Fry's getting things we needed: I wanted some more of the three-DVD cases (I need one for my National Geographic specials and one each for Jeff's Collie episodes and Timmy and Lassie episodes) and James got more floppies for taking pics at the IPMS Nationals.

We stopped for a few minutes at the Aviarium where I consorted with the birdies in the bird room. One green parrot and I were bobbing and cocking our heads at each other; he finally said "Hello!" when I walked away. Many conures and cute baby budgies.


50 Things in the Life of an Italian Child
Ann sent this...thanks, Ann!

1. You have at least one relative who wore a black dress every day for an entire year after a funeral.

2. You spent your entire childhood thinking what you ate for lunch was pronounced "sangwich."

3. Your family dog understood Italian.

4. Every Sunday afternoon of your childhood was spent visiting your grandparents and extended family.

5. You've experienced the phenomena of 150 people fitting into 50 square feet of yard during a family cookout.

6. You were surprised to discover the FDA recommends you eat three meals a day, not seven.

7. You thought killing the pig each year and having salami, capacollo, pancetta and prosciutto hanging out to dry from your shed ceiling was absolutely normal.

8. You ate pasta for dinner at least three times a week, and every Sunday.

9. You grew up thinking no fruit or vegetable had a fixed price and that the price of everything was negotiable through haggling.

10. You were as tall as your grandmother by the age of seven.

11. You thought everyone's last name ended in a vowel.

12. You thought nylons were supposed to be worn rolled to the ankles.

13. Your mom's main hobby is cleaning.

14. You were surprised to find out that wine was actually sold in stores.

15. You thought that everyone made their own tomato sauce.

16. You never knew what to expect when you opened the margarine...after all, you thought washing out and reusing margarine containers was normal.

17. You never ate meat on Christmas Eve or any Friday for that matter.

18. You ate your salad after the main course.

19. You thought Catholic was the only religion in the world.

20. Your were beaten at least once with a wooden spoon or broom.

21. You thought every meal had to be eaten with a hunk of bread in your left hand.

22. Your grandmother never threw anything away, you thought seeing washed cleaning rags hanging on the clothes line was normal.

23. You learned to play the card games scoba or brisca before you went to school.

24. You can understand Italian but you can't speak it.

25. You have at least one relative who came over on the boat.

26. All of your uncles fought in a World War.

27. You have at least six male relatives named Tony, Frank, Joe or Louie.

28. You have relatives who aren't really your relatives.

29. You have relatives you don't speak to (or each other!)

30. You drank wine before you were a teenager.

31. You relate on some level, admit it, to the Godfather and the Sopranos.

32. You grew up in a house with a yard that didn't have one patch of dirt that didn't have a flower or a vegetable growing out of it.

33. Your grandparents' furniture was as comfortable as sitting on plastic...Wait!! you were sitting on plastic.

34. You thought that talking loud was normal.

35. You thought sugared almonds and the Tarantella were common at all weddings.

36. You thought everyone got pinched on the cheeks and money stuffed in their pockets by their relatives.

37. Your mother is overly protective of the males in the family no matter what their age.

38. There was a crucifix and/or a statue of a saint in every room of the house, including the cellar.

39. Boys didn't do house work because it was women's work.

40. You couldn't date a boy without getting approval from your father.

41. You know what granita is.

42. Your Christmas tree was silver.

43. You called pasta "macaroni."

44. You have at least one irrational fear or phobia that can be attributed to your mother.

45. Your father is either a gardener, builder, mason or mechanic.

46. You dreaded taking out your lunch at school; you would pray that you didn't have melanzane (eggplant) again.

47. February 14th is "VALENTIMES" Day.

48. Going out for a cup of coffee usually meant going out for a cup of coffee over Zia's house.

49. Pontiac Parisiennes were also known as Italian Cadillacs.

50. Every condition, ailment, misfortune, memory loss and accident was attributed to the fact that you didn't eat something.


» Friday, July 08, 2005
Mom Update
She woke before noon this morning early enough for me to give her a bit of a wash before the nurse showed up. The nurse was concerned at her pain level and called the doctor to get the medication upped. She also ordered me an emergency box of medication I might need on a weekend, including some pain meds.

Mom had expressed interest in some food while the nurse was here, and I brought her a scant three tablespoonfuls of Rice Krispies-in-milk which she looked at tiredly. (she never ate it and Willow was the recipient of the largesse.) I had her soaps on but she spent the afternoon either asleep or with her head in her hands. I am giving her two of the low-dose Percoset every four hours and it doesn't seem to be touching the pain.

James was feeling tired and sick today (we both haven't slept much the last two nights) and so since he was home I made a run outside. It feels so strange to be outside and driving! I went to the library and got four books, then stopped at Publix to get more watermelon for Mom and also found some nice cherries. I am looking for lactose-free ice cream and haven't found it in four markets now, the others being Kroger, Walmart, and Food Depot. Maybe its in Ingles? Mom could just pop in the car and find some a few miles from the house at Ruggieri's.

On the way home I got a wild hare and stopped at CD Warehouse and, to my disappointment, found out it was going out of business. Stock is about half depleted, but all their DVDs were 25 percent off. So I got The Aviator and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow both for $18.

Mom ate one small square of watermelon and returned to either sleeping or holding her head. I gave her the 8 p.m. dose an hour early because she wanted to go to bed. At nearly ten she had to go to the bathroom. Poor Mom was half asleep during the entire proceedings and I had to keep waking her up to do various things. Sigh. It's going to get to the point where I am going to have to ask James for help lifting even though she weighs barely nothing any more (she was 120 back on June 3 and I know she's lost a lot more weight since then. Her cheeks look cadaverous (except where her eye is swollen and bruised). My back and knees are already screaming at this "abuse."


Well, Okay, Brent... :-)
What I was doing ten years ago: Still working at CDC. But I was still in PAB back then and doing my regular support job and happier.

5 years ago: I think that was before the last reorg. I was still in the IT section and doing my regular support job and was happier.

1 year ago: [sigh] Still doing purchase orders.

Yesterday: Dubbing off a bunch of things between checking on Mom. (Luckily the dubbing is easy: you make sure the tape is tracking properly and start the DVD recording. You don't even have to watch it, just get back before it's over to shut it off.)

5 snacks I enjoy:
1. Blue Bunny No-Sugar Ice Cream Bars
2. Chocolate Cream Oreos
3. Fig Newtons
4. Sun Chips (mmmn...Sun Chips...)
5. Traditional Chex Snack Mix

5 songs I know all the words to:
1. Any song by Rupert Holmes.
2. Any Christmas carol.
3. Most TV theme songs before 1984.
4. Most classic commercial jingles.
5. A bunch of movie songs (like the theme to M*A*S*H)

5 Things I would do with $100 million:
1. Get the hell out of debt (good answer, Ivan).
2. Wrest the rights to Remember WENN from AMC and release it on DVD. (Ditto Lassie.)
3. Buy a new house with a gourmet kitchen for James, enough room for the books, and no friggin' wall-to-wall carpet.
4. Give my cousins a bunch of money.
5. Endow some charities.

5 locations I would like to run away to:
1. Boston, MA
2. London, England
3. New York City, NY
4. Alaska
5. Australia (to see Pidgie's relatives in the wild)

5 bad habits I have:
1. Eating too much chocolate
2. Not eating vegetables (but I hate vegetables)
3. Procrastination
4. Not sticking up for myself
5. Finishing James's sentences

5 things I like doing:
1. Writing
2. Reading
3. Cross-stitch
4. Listening to OTR in the car
5. Playing with Pidgie

5 things I would never wear:
1. A corset
2. A bustier
3. Hip-hugger jeans
4. Wool (I'm allergic)
5. Miniskirts (God, I hated the sixties...)

5 TV shows I like:
Um, past or present? :-) Here's now:
1. House
2. Monk
3. Jeopardy
4. Mystery!
5. Design on a Dime

5 Biggest joys of the moment:
Sigh. Not much of this going on at the moment, but
1. Good friends
2. Family
3. Pets
4. New car
5. Air conditioning

5 Favorite toys:
1. Computer
2. PDA
3. DVD recorder
4. Digital camera
5. Car


» Thursday, July 07, 2005
DVD Transfer Diary
Mom slept most of the day, but I had to keep running upstairs to check on her because she doesn't sleep quietly any more. Each movement inspires a cry or moan. I was also nearly asleep on my feet because I couldn't sleep last night; the A/C wasn't going because it had rained all day and I was hot. I've got to get myself a light blanket.

So I dubbed some Disney stuff:

The Omega Connection: Harmless Disney flick about espionage in England (although rather sobering after what happened this morning in London) with the requisite young handsome American secret agent (Jeffrey Byron) and the usual repertory company of British actors including Roy Kinnear and Nigel Davenport.

Walt Disney Presents: "From the Pirates of the Caribbean to the World of Tomorrow," a 1968 presentation showing the "new" Tomorrowland and New Orleans Square.

Walt Disney Presents: "Disneyland, the Park," a short from Disney's black and white ABC series. Shows the original Frontierland, with the mine train ride, the mules and stagecoaches, and the Native American village, also the original Tomorrowland.

And one Christmas disk:

The Famous Jett Jackson: "What Money Can't Buy"—If I had to name the best series on TV about an African-American family, Jett Jackson would have been it. Jett is a young actor whose adventure series, Silverstone, is filmed in his home town of North Carolina because he was homesick for his family. His mom is an actress who still lives in Hollywood, and his dad is in law enforcement. This was a wonderful series about family and friendship, and this Christmas episode, about Jett's effort to give his great-grandmother a special gift, was one of the best.

So Weird: "Fountain"—This was a cute Disney series about a girl whose Mom (played by Mackenzie Phillips) is a rock star; Fiona, "Fi," is interested in the paranormal. This episode finds Fi, who wants a perfect holiday, depressed because it looks like the family will be spending Christmas Eve in the tour bus on the way to a benefit concert. Then she has a magical drink at a soda fountain and finds herself going back in time.

Punky Brewster: "Yes, Punky, There is a Santa Claus"—I actually liked the Punky Brewster cartoon better than I liked the series, but, like the So Weird episode, this story had serious underpinnings: Henry has told Punky that Santa exists, but when he plays Santa Claus at her school, she tells him the only thing she wants for Christmas is for her mom to return.

Ziggy's Gift—Based on the comic and actually kinda sweet. Of course Ziggy doesn't speak a word.

And other stuff:

Disney's The Horsemasters, which stars Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello, co-starring Janet Munro and Donald Pleasance. Nowhere as good as the book, which I recommend to be read by any child who pleads with Mom and Dad for a horse or pony; an absorbing novel that doesn't pull its punches about how hard it is to properly care for horses.

Two blooper specials, one from NBC and one from Fox.

And finally The Fantasty Film Worlds of George Pal, which I popped on after TCM's special Watch the Skies!. James said, "Where did you get this?" You know, I have no idea. It's one of my original videotapes. It could be off WSBK-38, or even WLVI-56. Nice film recap of Pal's career, starting with the Puppetoons.

And which makes me tap my foot and ask "Where the hell is Seven Faces of Dr. Lao on DVD????

Blink. Holy cow, it is on DVD!


The Cowards Have Struck Again
More Than 30 Die in London Blasts

Instead of fighting out in the open with equal opponents they choose to strike at those with no defenses.


...Our Muppet Show
For devotees: first season of The Muppet Show due out on August 9.


» Wednesday, July 06, 2005
When It Rains...
It really rains. It rained yesterday. It's raining today and tomorrow the forecast says "strong storms." In fact, it's supposed to rain nine out of the ten days coming up. I hope Steve shows up on that one day; the lawn is growing like a weed. (Who am I fooling? Our lawn is weeds.)

So far Mom has spent the day sleeping. The rain only aggravates her arthritis anyway, and the eye is paining her as well. She's had all her medication, so far, but I need to change her pain patch at some point. Meantime I have cleaned the bathroom, swept and tidied the kitchen, and am trying to finish more DVDs. So far:

HBO Comedy Hour: Live from London from 1988, with Rowan Atkinson, French and Saunders, and Ben Elton. Hosted by Howie Mandel, who I loved on St. Elsewhere, but on stage, a little of him goes a long way. This finished off a "British comedy" DVD along with Solo.

Moonlighting: "Atomic Shakespeare"—Moonlighting was another of those series everyone was crazy about and I could take or leave. I did see some episodes I did like, including the "film noir" black and white story, but this was the one I kept: Moonlighting meets Shakespeare as David and Maddie play Petruchio and Katherine in "The Taming of the Shrew." This one finished up another DVD.

National Geographic Special: "Treasures of the Past." Great special about the restoration work: a biplane, the Tall Ship Elissa, Duesenbergs, Philadelphia Toboggan Carousel  #6 in eastern Colorado, and the Catherine Palace in Russia. Narrated by Richard Kiley (they spared no expense). (Sorry, Jurassic Park joke.)

On right now: National Geographic Special: "The Explorers—a Century of Discovery." Peary in the Arctic, Admiral Byrd, Africa, mountain climbing...a cornucopia of old film. Just grand.

5:40 p.m. Update: Tornado watches. Mom is up watching the news. I'm making rice for soup. I'm dubbing off A Ring of Endless Light (yeah, I know parts of it drove me crazy, but it's some L'Engle, at least).


» Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Musta Been the Pasta and Meatballs Question

You Are 74% American
Most times you are proud to be an American.
Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes you cringe
Still, you know there's no place better suited to be your home.
You love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from you!

Sue's right, there's one question there's no answer for. What do you say if you don't watch sports?


Oh, because suddenly my posts weren't wrapping properly, I revamped Holiday Harbour.


Tuesday... (And DVD Transfer Diary)
Gave Mom two Percoset last night and she wasn't in too bad pain when she woke this morning, so I'll keep doing that. I gave her this morning's medication and by eleven o'clock she was awake if not totally painless, and insisted she wanted to come downstairs and not sleep. Then she realized that I don't usually watch her soaps and amended her request; she said she'd stay upstairs until three o'clock, when Passions is over.

I went downstairs and copied off Solo, the British series written by Carla Lane and starring Felicity Kendal as Gemma Palmer, who discovers her long-time lover has cheated on him and throws him out, and also changes her job. There were only two series and I really only liked the first, which was more bittersweet.

At one o'clock, Willow was barking and it turned out Mom was coming downstairs by herself. I warned her about the soaps and she said that was okay. So I put on a couple of movies I thought she would like, Deadline for Murder, which was Elizabeth Montgomery's final film (which I recorded because Dean Stockwell played an oddball coroner in it), and Donovan's Kid, a seventies Disney film starring one of my favorites, Darren McGavin, as an Irish con man. Mickey Rooney co-stars as his partner, and Katy Kurtzman, a popular child actress of the era, is Jamie, the daughter he didn't know he had. The cast includes Shelley Fabares, Ross Martin, Michael Conrad, and Murray Hamilton. (Watching this movie makes me long even more for a copy of High Flying Spy, another Disney Western epic with McGavin, co-starring Stuart Whitman as Thaddeus Lowe, the balloonist who used his craft to survey for the Union during the Civil War.)

Mom expressed interest in some soup, but didn't eat a bit of it when I offered, and finally fell asleep. About six o'clock, just after I had started transferring Up the Down Staircase, she finally gave up and said she wanted to go up to bed. So I helped her upstairs and left the television on for her, which is what she wanted (she now said it was too early to sleep), but she was off in dreamland after a half hour.


» Monday, July 04, 2005
Happy Independence Day!
animated American flag                                   animated American flag                                   animated American flag

We're watching the Atlanta "Salute to America" parade. At the beginning they surprised several families by bringing their spouses home from Iraq. ::sniffle:: The parade is supposedly being broadcast in HD; we don't have an HD receiver yet, so we're not enjoying the effect. Indeed, I think the cameraman doesn't know how to manage—all the long shots are overexposed. After this is over, it will be time for our annual 1776 viewing.

Pidgie is making enough noise today to overwhelm firework noise and buzzing me and landing on the keyboard. So far he has typed an "i" and a "[" twice. (What that means I have no idea.) Mom is downstairs with us and trying to eat some Rice Krispies. James is in the kitchen preparing the boneless ribs for the crock pot.

Later [10:55]: the ribs were great. Mom still didn't eat much. Sigh.

We spent the evening going from concert to concert. Started with A Capitol Fourth; the show isn't bad, but for our nation's capital the fireworks aren't much. It ended just in time for us to see the fireworks from Lenox Square. They went all out with bright lights, mostly orange. I turned to James at one point and said, "It looks like Sherman came back."

Finished the night with what CBS shows of the Boston Pops performance; as always they come in right at the end of "The 1812 Overture." At least we didn't miss the patriotic singalong. Then somebody named Hard and Rich and somebody else named Cowboy something or other sang real loud.

This year's fireworks were quite good: along with the "saturns" (round purple shapes with gold rings) and the usual chrysanthemums, willows, and fountains, they had smiley faces, concentric circles, and shapes that looked like outlined cubes. Also something that looked like a multicolor Christmas wreath. Harry Smith and his co-host shut up during the fireworks. The shots of the crowd were a little less intrusive this year, but they were still there, and the motion of the camera was almost nauseating—and they still don't tell you what the music is that's playing. However, they get major points for showing the fireworks with no commercial breaks. Can we hope for a steadier camera and close-captions for the music next year?


» Sunday, July 03, 2005
Of course I go out when it's pouring. [wry grin] I stopped at a Kroger in the vain hope that all of them have not rearranged and someone is still carrying the bags of Jolly Rancher watermelon-only candies. Not only was it a forlorn hope, but it was raining so hard that when I stepped out of the car I was ankle-deep in water. I spent the rest of the time out with sopping wet, ice-cold feet.

Got nice steaks and boneless pork ribs at BJ's, but no cherries. We'll have the ribs in the crock pot tomorrow for the Fourth. Mmmn.

Walgreens to pick up Mom's prescriptions. After the small trip yesterday she has been pretty much sound asleep all day. She woke up this morning in a lot of pain and I gave her two Percoset and a Gabapentin per the nurse's instructions and got her back to sleep.

A brief stop at Lowe's to return something, and another at Food Depot for whipped cream for the strawberries I bought at BJs. Home to clean up a bit because we have a couple of people coming over this evening. Mom was half awake when I came home and let me give her another Percoset. Now she is sound asleep and I don't want to wake her up for the Gabapentin.


» Saturday, July 02, 2005
DVD Transfer Diary
Oh, the end of The Story of English did end up after Empire of the Air, followed by a CBS about media censorship called America Censored (hosted by John Denver), followed by a 20/20 piece about Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

Maybe I'll do The Day the Universe Changed next. I wonder what happened to our copy of Connections. Connections2 wasn't anywhere near as good.


Sigh. And she didn't even enjoy it, except for buying Willow and Pidgie some treats at Petsmart.


I'm Being Selfish, I Know
James and I were going to take turns going out today. He'd go to the hobby shop and wherever else he wanted to stop, and then I was going out on my own for a little while, to get millet for Pidge and maybe stop at Michael's.

Mom has said she wants to go out. So I've just finished helping her get washed and we are waiting for James to get back. I'm glad she wants to go out but I so wanted some time out on my own. I tend to dash in and out of stores to get it over with, especially now that it's so hot, and now I'll have to plod instead. I hate summer, I hate summer, I hate summer...

At least the mosquito bites have stopped itching. (I went into the back yard this morning to make sure there weren't any tree branches touching the roof—they aren't, but they're getting close, so we'll have to cut them at some point, since I know they touch the roof when it rains—because I found an ant in the hall bath upstairs last night. Maybe Ingrid brought it in; she did walk across the lawn... Anyway, James got the ladder out and raked what pine straw there was up there down, so that may help; there's nowhere for the ants to nest if they get up there.) I wish Steve would come over and clean the yard. Maybe the mosquitoes would go away if he did.


» Friday, July 01, 2005
It's Not...
It's not that it's hard to see Mom in pain...although it is. She generally wakes up that way and I have to rush and get her her medication. I'm learning to live with it, although it's still sore.

It's not that she's too weak to bathe herself...I'm not much of a nurse, but I can at least help her.

It's when she gets petulant and I can't do anything about it.

She woke up in pain as always and I gave her two Percoset; the nurse told me that was fine. She was fairly alert most of the early afternoon and I helped her wash, and she spoke to Ingrid, who told me privately that she sounded a little depressed. I'm not surprised. But she wanted to see something funny and watched What's Up, Doc? with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal because Wimbledon was on again pre-empting her soaps. Later on she dozed off.

About six thirty James and I discussed having Chinese food and I asked her if she wanted some. How about some egg drop soup? Hurrah, she expressed interest in it.

Not twenty minutes later, when I went to give her her medication, she was suddenly childish and petty. She wouldn't take the pills and when I asked her why, she said she just didn't want to. I said please and tried to reason with her. She just called me a pain in the neck and told me to leave her alone. She was acting like a small spoilt girl.

So finally I did. Fifteen minutes after that, when James got home, she was still surly.

But at eight-thirty, when I went back up to check and ask if she needed her pills, she said yes, took them calmly, and went back to sleep. Sigh.


I have almost finished dubbing off Robert McNeil's The Story of English. There are nine episodes, so it doesn't fit on two disks like Television did. What I'm doing now, since there's absolutely nothing worth watching on, is dubbing off Empire of the Air: the Men Who Made Radio and will put the final part of English on that. After all, they're both about communication.


Remember the git who stole my mom's car and then we also found out he'd robbed a convenience store? Well, he got off with six months probation because he was a juvie. Figures.