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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» Friday, December 30, 2005
I filled up my tank, bought more tape and something for the house, found something for James he's been looking for, got the milk and another big bag of rice, bought all the fixings for New Year's dinner, and even found a Cadbury Crunchie bar for a treat at prices that did not make me scream.

And I realized I am pretty much done on the dubbing project. I still have to see if I have all of "The Great War" and I have to finish Dangermouse.'s done. I now have four Xerox paper boxes full of old videotapes. Still don't know what to do with them. Can't sell them. Don't know anyone who wants them. Seems a shame to toss them, though.


» Thursday, December 29, 2005
Sounds of Silence
It's been very quiet here at work this week, but then I expected it to be. I sent a couple of orders out, but haven't been able to get a lot of other work done because everyone else is on leave and I need things like quotations and justifications and folks just aren't responding. I think there's only about six people on this side of the hall with me anyway. It's the time of year when everyone uses up their use or lose annual leave; in years past I've been one of them. Oh, well. I've caught up on my filing and cleaned off my desk a bit and sorted my mail and that's about it. Still playing my Christmas music and will until next Friday, when it will be time to put the CDs away and pack them.

Traffic has been nowhere as quiet as I expected. Usually it's deadsville because the kids are out and people take off to be with their kids or to go away for Christmas and New Year's. The traffic is thinner this week, but was still backed up yesterday, where in years' past the whole week has been quiet. Really speaks of the increase in population here.


Thursday Threesome

::Driving you crazy!::

Onesome: Driving-- Hey, what are you driving this winter? Same old, same old? ...or was Santa very nice to you (and if so, please pass him/her along to the gang <g>!)?

Same old PT Cruiser, Touring Edition, in purple. There was a lady last night on Jeopardy and when Alex Trebek interviewed her, it was that she gave names to her things. Her car's name was Owen, which she said was a "nice solid name." I figured it was because she still had payments on it. :-) Anyway, my car's name is Twilight, after the first line in "Stardust," since it's a retro car.

Twosome: you-- Hmmm... If you could, and money were no object, what would you be driving? ...and sure: taxes, license, dealer fees, gasoline, tires, insurance, etc. would be covered by Santa!

No, thank you. Not interested in a BMW, SUV, or anything like that. I have my dream car. But I might buy a nice camper. And if Santa is really generous with the money, I would buy James his airplane.

Threesome: Crazy!-- ...and it's crazy, but we've made it through another year. Are you going to be doing any celebrating to ring in the New Year? Yes? What's going to be your way to say "Hello" to 2006?

We are driving down to see James' mom since she worked Christmas and then returning in enough time to go to Bill and Caran's annual party, which simply sounds utterly exhausting to me.


Tuesday Twosome (late because I just didn't look!)

1. Top two Favorite Movies.

Galaxy Quest, The Homecoming

2. Top two Favorite Actors.

Sam Neill, Hugh Laurie

3. Top two Favorite Actresses.

Gosh, I pay so little attention anymore...I can't even think of any.

4. Top two Favorite TV Shows.

House, Monk

5. Top two Favorite TV Musicians.

What's a TV musician? Kevin Eubanks maybe? If this was a cut and paste thing and the question actually was "two Favorite Musicians," then Rupert Holmes and George Winston.


Holy Cow--Have Kids Changed That Much?
Fitness Experts: "Don't Let Kids Hibernate"

I was the admitted bookworm and as I grew older I hated going outside to play in the summer in the heat and the sun, but if it snowed you couldn't keep me inside. I made little paths in the back yard and pretended they were roads to different places and tramped over to my godmother's house or across the street to the field. I didn't have a sled or skates, but loved walking in the snow. I'd even beg my mom to send me to the store on an errand! Every kid in town was out when it snowed, coasting or sliding on the ice.

I laughed seriously at this line: "If you think it's too cold outside, Adams and other pediatricians suggest taking kids to swim in an indoor pool, play indoor team sports such as volleyball or take up individual pursuits like karate." It was never too cold for us. We walked to school in weather that sometimes crashed under zero Fahrenheit—and the girls were in dresses; we weren't allowed to wear pants! Most of our parents couldn't afford to join anywhere that had an indoor pool or gave lessons. We made our own fun—and, I'm sorry, IMHO, we enjoyed ourselves a lot more. Who wanted parents making the rules and telling us what to do and everything being so structured? Some boys were in Little League or Peewee Football and a few of the girls took dancing lessons, but when we played, we wanted to be left on our own. The more I hear about kids growing up today the more I'm glad I'm not doing it myself now.


» Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Singing in Christmas 100 Years Ago
Talking about the CD "Voices of Christmas Past" in Holiday Harbour.


» Tuesday, December 27, 2005
It's Christmastide!
Why not enjoy it? in Holiday Harbour.


Happy Hanukkah!
I'm a bit late since the first night fell on the evening of the 25th. Here are some Hanukkah definitions from


In Living Color
James just got back from the doctor (they were off yesterday; we did get ahold of the advice nurse, who told us he was doing everything right: washing it with warm water, compresses when needed for comfort, making sure his hands were kept clean and not spreading it). He indeed has conjunctivitis. Too odd. He has to stay home for two days and has an oral antibiotic as well as ointment for the eye.


An Extra Second in 2005
We have a "leap second" this year: "Wait a Sec for Leap Into 2006".

Of course this reminds me that my annual New Year's task is coming up: changing all the copyright dates on my web pages. Thank God for multiple search and replace! It's the re-uploading that gets tedious.


» Monday, December 26, 2005
After Christmas Shopping...
...with a twist Holiday Harbour.


Out and About
Snagging Christmas cards in Holiday Harbour.


» Sunday, December 25, 2005
So, Can Anyone Recommend... inexpensive book about how to read music? Even a kids' book would be good. I know how to find middle C from a sharp but I've forgotten how to do it from a flat.


Happy Christmas to All!
James' eye is still a mess. Oh, well.

He keeps apologizing for ruining my Christmas.

The four of us are here together, warm and safe and well fed. I'd say that's a happy Christmas.


photo of Lassie which says May Christmas Bring You Gifts of Love


» Saturday, December 24, 2005
It's Not a Wonderful Year
I'm trying to figure out which one of us walked under the ladder or had a black cat cross our path last New Year's Eve. {wry grin} Maybe we need to try First Footing?

James has had off-and-on sniffles and scratchy throat for a week and got up this morning with his left eye watering and "blobby." This is sort of a natural condition with me due to my allergies, so I knew how miserable that could be. But over the course of the day the eye deteriorated. It's now very bloodshot, swollen, crusty and hurts. He's been bathing it with warm water every few hours and bought some eye drops, but I suspect he may have conjunctivitis...God knows where he picked it up; isn't it usually a kids' disease? We'll see how it looks tomorrow. If it's just as bad or worse I think we may go up to the Walgreen's that is open Christmas day and see if the pharmacist is in and can recommend anything better until we can make a doctor's appointment on Monday.

A pity, because it was a nice day. We went to the hobby shop and there was quite a crowd and some treats in the back room. We had discovered when I wrapped gifts yesterday that we were missing a present, so when we went around today to various stores—mostly Hallmark stores because we had not yet bought this year's airplane ornament; we actually had to go to three stores before we found one, since apparently it was a big seller this year, but we also skipped about to two grocery stores, Michael's, and Petsmart for some Christmas millet for Pidgie—we providentially found something perfect.

Dinner was a bit of a bust, though. We usually have spaghetti on Christmas Eve, but James was so raspy I asked if he wouldn't rather have some soup. He said what he really felt like was some chicken and dumplings. That actually sounded quite yummy so we stopped at Mrs. Winner's on Austell Road and got three servings and a container of sweet potato souffle as a side. When we got home it was only 4:30, so he bathed his eye and sat back to rest them, and I put the food up in the fridge.

When we finally got peckish around 6 p.m., we warmed up the food. It was less than inspiring. The chicken and dumplings looked like globs of fat with some chicken shreds in it. Even after heating it up so that it was steaming it sat in blobs on the plate. The sweet potato souffle, instead of thickening in the refrigerator, was now the consistency of soup.

Dessert was at least delicious: our last stop had been Starbuck's, where we bought two slices of pumpkin bread, which we ate with Reddi Whip sprinkled with a little cinnamon.

To cheer him up later on, we opened presents: I'd bought James some new slippers, three DVDs (the second Looney Tunes collection, Clone Wars II, and the Wallace and Gromit shorts), a Cook's Illustrated book of baking, a Worst Case Scenario card game of cooking, and a wall decoration that looks like a bone and says "No outfit is complete without dog hair." :-) He got me an "embroidery" mystery novel and a trivia book, a "food" and an "office" magnetic poetry, a scrapbooking desk calendar, and a small glue gun—and the thing I wanted most, the Play'n'Roll Piano I saw at Providence Place this summer. This is a flexible keyboard that can be rolled up and carried with you. It has 100 different sounds and 100 different rhythms. Too cool. I was trying to pick out "Joy To the World" tonight. I can't read music well, but I can usually pick out tunes on piano keys; just haven't done it in years.

We also chilled out watching The Bishop's Wife, The House Without a Christmas Tree, and the Remember WENN episode "Christmas in the Airwaves." In a few minutes I'm going to be setting up to record Meet Me In St. Louis.


» Friday, December 23, 2005
Ghost of Christmas Past
Because of my mom’s death I have walked hand in hand with the ghost of the past more this year—throughout the year—than I have previously. I’ve always seemed to have one foot in the past, even as a child when I would ask my parents about World War II and the Depression and radio shows. Maybe it was because my parents were older (Mom was 38 when I was born and Dad turned 42 the next day)—I dunno. But the past has always been a companion, mostly sweet.

This year the Ghost of Christmas Past comes to me in the quick flashbacks I always have when I am troubled. The most common flash is of climbing up the narrow stairway from Papà’s cellar, where all are celebrating Christmas or Easter, on my way to the bathroom. Well, I always said I was on my way to the bathroom, anyway. I always wanted to go upstairs, alone, because then it became a time machine into the past, the kitchen with its metal cupboards and dark brown baseboarding, the table and the ladder-back chairs with a red checked tablecloth—if it was Christmas there were Italian candies in a candy dish set on the table, torrone and the citrus slice candy in flavors of lemon, orange, and tangerine—and the new (1950s) gas stove with the double oven that my grandma never got to use because she always cooked downstairs on the converted woodstove, and then through the glass-paned door with the glass doorknob into the very stiff dining room with its old photos and heavy furniture where, in late December and early January, the Christmas tree lived in front of the windows.

My memory is always of the old tree, with the big C7 bulbs and the lead tinsel and the ornaments, including some clear ones going back to World War II. There were still old-fashioned wallpaper and wall sconces in the parlor, where the old console TV always seemed to be running and perhaps there was an uncle asleep—”just resting”—on the sofa. It was a further trip into the past to go through the funny linoleumed “den” and up the narrow, high-pitched wooden stairs with the wallpaper so old there was a smudge mark from years of hands steadying the climbers to the narrow wood-floored hall leading to the old bedrooms and the old fashioned bath with no shower and the X-handled faucets and the big old iron radiator under the window. (We had radiators, too, at home once: 1950s style, not so tall or ornately designed as these 1920s ones. I remember Mom bleeding them.)

There are other flashes on these Ghostly walks: bundling up with Mom and Dad on the way to church or to the relatives and music playing on the radio, driving down Laurel Hill Avenue to see the lights from Garden City, or the stores downtown—the Outlet, Shepards, Woolworth’s, Newberry’s, Grant’s, the Paperback Bookstore—manger sets for sale piece by piece, the candy counters with candy by the pound, the Woolworth budgies, Santa Claus on a throne in Toyland, the Crown Coffee Shop on a cold winter morning…they all come tumbling out and stay bottled up in my mind, like John-Boy’s stories, until I come and write about them here.

I knew I’d only be feeding the Ghost once I pulled the tapes out of the car this morning, but paradoxically it makes me feel happy as well. These are three old cassettes I recorded back when I was still living in The Cubbyhole (my studio apartment in Brookhaven in the late 1980s). When I went home for Christmas that year I bought a quantity of C-120 cassettes from Radio Shack and recorded 10 hours of “the 36 hours of Christmas” broadcast from WLKW, the local then-beautiful music channel. Out of those I distilled four and a half hours of favorites. I’m playing them now: wonderful stuff I haven’t heard in years, "Io Bambino, Mio Divino," several Nana Moschuri songs like "Old Toy Trains," "O Sanctissima," "It was On a Starry Night," "Three Wise Men, Wise Men Three," Alfred Burt carols, Ed Ames’ "Christmas is the Warmest Time of the Year," and "This is the Night to Remember," which still makes me cry.

Plus I wandered further afield this morning after reading the story about the Rhode Island State House Christmas tree: had a link to a story about the failing fortunes of Rhode Island Mall (which I think I mentioned we visited back in August and found nearly deserted). Too hard to think of it echoing and cavernous like that: better to remember it when it first opened and bustled with shoppers, when Sears and Shepard’s were the anchor stores, when the funky little glass flower shop was next to CVS on the upper level (later the flower store became the Panasonic-only Impulse store, where I bought my first VCR) and down mid-mall was a funny ersatz old-fashioned place called the Old Country Store with horehound candy sticks, and downstairs was the Doktor Pet Center. Mom and I used to go there every Friday night once I learned to drive. That article led me to, where I read the piece about the old Lincoln Mall off I-295, which had my best friend’s and my favorite restaurant, the Roast House, with its fabulous Turkey Sandwich Special. The Lincoln Mall Cinema was the only one, I think, to show the awful Get Smart movie, The Nude Bomb.

And that site in turn led me to a nostalgia site for the old Howard Johnson’s restaurants…only five left in the country, according to this site, and the ones still extant no longer have the orange roofs. They had a photo of the one in Lake George, NY (which may be gone by now; the photos were from 2001) where Mom, Dad, and I spent many happy meals on our Lake George trips. It was next to the Northland Motel, on the main drag, and when Mom and I made an abortive attempt to take James there to see the autumn color one year, of course it rained, but it was at the Howard Johnson that we had dinner. I still have the stuffed black bear James bought me from the little toy kiosk near the front door.

Like Earl Hamner, I "walk in the footsteps of all my fathers." It’s a lonely trail sometimes and often makes me blue, but it’s been the source of such happiness I cannot help but smile and wish it was still there to make another generation happy.


Only In Rhode Island
I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes from laughing so hard:

God, that makes me homesick...

(Today's Providence Journal talks about replacing the tree.)


"An Atlanta Christmas"
If you're somewhere in the range of a Georgia Public Broadcasting radio station this afternoon at 3 p.m. (or somewhere where you can listen to it online—Oooh, look, there's an announcement on the web page), they're presenting a short form version of the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's "An Atlanta Christmas." This version has a variety of the more humorous sketches from the presentation:

Old Atlanta Christmas (song)
Mr. Currier, Mr. Ives, and all that Snow
The Santa Claus Blues
USO Christmas
The Ultimate Christmas Pageant
The Legend of the Poinsettia
The Zen Santa Claus
The Experts
Bumpers Crossroads: Rose's Fruitcake

It repeats again at 10 a.m. Christmas morning.


Do You Hear What I Hear (Again and Again)?
I can't tell you how disappointed I am in the Sirius Holiday Channel. Last year when we first heard it on Dish, it seemed to have a good variety in it; this year it seems to be completely different. I know all radio stations have "playlists" now and they don't venture outside a certain set of songs, but when you have a continuous music station and you are hearing the same songs repeated at 2:30 p.m. that you heard earlier at 10 a.m., your playlist ain't anywhere near big enough. I have heard Springsteen's "Merry Christmas" (or whatever), that annoyingly repetitive after one hearing "Wonderful Christmas," the John Lennon song, Eartha Kitt's and Madonna's "Santa Baby," Josh whasisname's "Believe," Gene Autry doing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Here Comes Santa Claus," and a bunch of others so many times that I can look at what's playing (while listening to a large variety of different music on the two local radio channels) and say "Oh, it's the Ronettes singing "Frosty" again." There are other cuts from the albums these songs are on...the Gene Autry album I bought for James has 12 songs on it; why don't they play the other ten? Barry Manilow did a whole Christmas album; why do they only play one of his songs? Bing Crosby did a lot more Christmas songs than "White Christmas" and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" And there's a whole TransSiberian CD—heck, there are two—besides "Christmas Eve Sarajevo."

The absolutely stupid part is that between CDs, records, tapes, and MP3s, I probably have at least four days of Christmas music before anything would repeat. And I don't have any of the recent popular albums like Amy Grant, Barenaked Ladies, NSync, Charlotte Church, etc.—heck, I don't even have a Dean Martin or any Frank Sinatra or Doris Day and only one Johnny Mathis and not all of Bing Crosby and Perry Como. If I bought all I wanted, I could probably have seven days worth of music that would never repeat. And Sirius can't spring for more than seven hours worth of music? Sheesh.


Friday Five

1) What word irks you everytime you hear someone say it?

Gosh, I work for the Feds. Lots of them. :-) "Utilize."

2) What is your favorite word?


3) What does it mean?

Happiness. :-)

4) What word do you say far too often?


5) Name three words you think other people overuse:

Besides "utilize"? All those buzzwords. Like "paradigm" and "metrics."


» Thursday, December 22, 2005
Want a good meal in a nice atmosphere in Atlanta, GA? Two words: "The Colonnade." Cheshire Bridge Road, at the Cheshire Motor Inn, near the intersection of Piedmont Road. Established 1926. Food to die for. Try the roast turkey with celery dressing (the best turkey'n'dressing in the world) with a delicious gravy. Whipped potatoes. Applesauce that isn't oversweetened. A nice warm soft roll with butter.

Dessert? Who needs dessert when you've tasted ambrosia?

(The pork roast, short ribs, and barbecue ribs are all good, too, I've heard.)


Thursday Threesome

::Daily Ups and Downs::

Onesome: Daily-- Do you have a daily routine you've fallen into this Christmas? ...baking in the morning, shopping in the afternoon? ...checking your list (twice) and then trying to find that certain something at lunch? ...checking the shippers to make sure everything is on the way? ...making sure you don't miss a day with your Advent calendar?

Baking? Shopping? I have to work and am away from home about 12 hours a day. No time for either. Finished shopping several weeks ago. Must wrap tonight, although we won't see James' family till New Year's Eve (his mom is working Christmas Eve and Christmas; she's a nurse's aide). Maybe they'll let us out an hour early Friday and I can bake. {Pipe dreams...}

Twosome: Ups and-- USPS and DHL and FedEx? How's the inbound traffic this year? Are you receiving more from on line stores than you have in the past? (Oh, and a word to the gang on this: Amazon's "SuperSaver Shipping" is using a sequence of Airborne to the USPS to the recipient, targeting deliveries for Friday the twenty-third. Heads up tomorrow for inbound reindeer!)

Did my last Amazon order about a month ago. Not ordering anything else unless it's a Really Great Bargain until after we move. Mailed my two packages last Friday. The other one I forgot and the recipient said to wait until after New Year when he gets home.

Threesome: Downs--' hatch? What are your thoughts on eggnog now that it's that time of year? ...and sure, unleadeed or with the traditional added 'kick'. It seems no one is fence-sitting on this holiday drink; people either seem to like it or loath it. How about you?

James gets his eggnog in the carton (the Carb Smart stuff) and then cuts it with skim milk. I think it's still too thick and sweet. My mom used to make me an eggnog every morning for breakfast because I wouldn't eat eggs "straight." I drool at the thought. Haven't had one in years because of this salmonella thing. I'm told you can use pasteurized eggs but I've never seen them in any store around here.

Does it strike you as absolutely insane that here we are in the "future" with more advances in sanitary procedures than ever, but 40 years ago one could eat a raw egg from the farm safely and now we can't??????


Here He Comes!
NORAD enters their 50th year of tracking Santa Claus' journey at Holiday Harbour.


The Big Squeeze
The first time The Waltons episode "The Best Christmas" was rerun after I bought a VCR, I taped it, since it is my favorite episode along with "The Achievement" (John-Boy's book is published). In that era (early 1980s), stations still typically sliced several minutes out of syndicated reruns to make more room for commercials. "The Best Christmas" was missing a small scene of Olivia, Grandma, and Elizabeth talking about Christmas preparations in the kitchen.

I noticed while scanning Zap2It that "The Best Christmas" was running yesterday at noon, so I set up to record it, hoping that scene would be restored. I had no illusions that I would want to keep that version; I preferred my faded and occasionally static-y WCVB copy to one that I knew, although the picture would be better, would contain pop-ups, "bugs," and compressed credits. I had an idea that I could splice the restored scene into a new recording of the show and thus have the entire episode with minimal interference.

Well, thanks to new technology, Hallmark did show "Best Christmas" uncut, except for the teaser at the beginning.

But ohmyGod, you should have seen the time compression! I have heard people complaining about time-compressed reruns, but this is the first time I'd seen how bad it is—I haven't noticed it on M*A*S*H and the only other time I watch Hallmark is when a new McBride is on. I have watched shows on other channels that I know are time compressed, but the compression has never been that obvious. It was hideously obvious in "The Best Christmas." All the scenes, especially of people moving quickly, looked jerky, like a silent movie, or actually more as if frames have been removed—sometimes it seemed like one step short of pixillation. And any scene where anyone speaks in more than a slow drawl almost has a chipmunk factor. It was appalling.

Anyway, I did manage to edit the deleted scene in pretty well (it's so easy to edit with a DVD recorder; nice clean cuts, no pops and no rainbows), although it's really obvious—not just the color being brighter and the picture being sharper, but because especially Elizabeth talking sounds like birds chirping! Too weird.

(That episode of The Waltons would have been 49 to 50 minutes when originally broadcast. Hallmark is probably squishing it into 40-41 minutes of actual broadcast. What is that, a 20 percent compression rate? Holy cow...)


» Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tradition or Myth?
This was also made mention of in Joey Green's new book, Weird Christmas: What about that "Christmas pickle"? Holiday Harbour.


Happy Winter Solstice!
It actually feels like winter here: it was 27°F this morning and will only get up to the high forties today. (Thanks for the nice Alberta Saskatchewan clipper, Brent!)  :-)
"The Shortest Day"
Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!
May I direct you to my winter web page?


» Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Here We Go Again
I was awoken last night coughing and with my dinner coming up on me (plain old pork chop, no extra spices, just minimally salted and grilled and very delicious the first time around). I had to get up twice to drink some water and have a cough drop. This morning my digestive system feels like I'm on a tossing ship.

At least I managed to snag the last six boxes in the copy room. (It was cold in my cubie, so I picked the easiest way to warm myself up.)

I'm also eating the last of the yogurt I bought, the chocolate mousse again. I know many folks eat it voluntarily and like the taste; I just don't understand how. Icky. Sour. Even covered up by chocolate taste or key lime taste. (When the key lime sour can't overpower the yogurt sour, you know it's strong. As yogurt flavors go, though, neither was that bad. Better than sickly sweet fruit along with yogurt sour.)


» Monday, December 19, 2005
Yuletide Television...
...some comments in Holiday Harbour.


She Scores!
Well, "Xerox™" boxes, anyway. There was finally a new shipment of copy paper boxes at work. I brought six home and have at least a dozen more in my cubie, plus some other odd boxes.


Color of Hope
Do Brighter Walls Make Brighter Students?

I dunno if I'd like to go to a school with lime green and bright turquoise walls, but I can see where this is coming from. Certainly painting the walls won't make the kids do their homework if they don't want to, but I'm sure a cheerful, cleaner looking school might make them feel more like learning!

I am constantly surprised today at how new schools look like prisons: narrow little windows way up on the walls, the kids constantly bombarded with artificial light. I went to an elementary school where one wall of each classroom was almost all windows, and 1929-and-earlier junior high and high school buildings also with a lot of windows. The incandescent lighting in many classrooms was a supplement only. While the walls weren't flourescent colors, they were light and interesting. I would assume the schools being painted here may be of that era, but not well kept up. I can't imagine being boxed up in one of these modern schools with the institutional paint jobs.


Beethoven Mystery Still Lurks
Lead Did in Beethoven?
"...based on records of an autopsy performed the day after Beethoven died, it seems that he experienced kidney failure that may have been caused by his overuse of analgesic powdered willow bark and alcohol."
Aspirin and booze do not go well together.


Monday Madness

1. Name 1 toy you owned when you were younger, that meant a lot to you.

Oh, gosh. There were a couple of stuffed dogs—Fifi, the grey stuffed poodle, and another dog that was actually a poodle but whom I named "Little Lassie" (you can see what my favorite TV was) and then renamed "Fang" after the dog in Get Smart. I used to tell them all my secrets (a lot of little girs do this with their dolls; I always hated dolls). I also had a "dobby horse," a stick horse named "Whinney" that I was very fond of. My mom tried to throw it out when I got older and said I was too old to ride a stick horse. I hid him behind the bush in our yard and used to go visit him.

2. Name 2 games you enjoyed playing as a child.

"Chutes and Ladders" and the children's version of "Scrabble" with the pictures on the different letters. Or did you mean outdoor games? Tag. Tag was my favorite game in the world; I loved to run.

3. Name 3 foods you didn't like as a child, but do now.

Man, I can't think of anything...cheese, I guess. I wouldn't eat cheese at all as a child. Now I will eat grilled cheese sandwiches and sharp cheddar and cheese spread and put romano cheese on my spaghetti and on my chicken soup. I still don't like it on salads or in most other foods.

I didn't used to like meat loaf or pot roast, but James can make them so I like to eat them. I'd still rather have "real" beef, though.

4. Name 4 foods you didn't like as a child, and still don't like.

Now, that's easy. Spinach, fish, eggs, and casseroles (ugh...cheese and mushy peas...).


» Sunday, December 18, 2005
Trimming the House
Remember Glass Wax stencils? We do in Holiday Harbour.


So It Goes...
Quiet here...not feeling well again...intestinal problems...starting feeling ill last night in Birmingham at a friend's party—certainly not because of her food, which was fab!—but probably a holdover from the reactions I had to both antibiotics...another friend suggested I try some yogurt, so I got some today...Yoplait has chocolate along with those sickeningly sweet fruit flavors all the yogurts use; I got two of them and a key lime...the chocolate in the yogurt wasn't enough to cover that acid-y yogurt taste and later on it came up on tasted like...strawberries. How bizarre. I've only had a little chicken stew and a bowl of oatmeal otherwise.

We decided not to put the tree up...I'm feeling on and off melancholy...certain Christmas carols will just leave me in tears...I played John Denver and the Muppets and was all choked up during "Silent Night." I did put up the ceppo on the little blue table in the den that holds our seasonal things. The little tree at the top has all our Hallmark minis (and some miniature ornaments I bought at Thall's drugstore in Cranston before they closed). The little Nativity was something Hallmark put out once upon a time. I built the stable from balsa wood and the angel is one of the Thall's ornaments. We'll put our gifts under that. In the candy dish on the right are the few old glass ornaments left over from my mom's tree that I did not incorporate into apothocary jars as gifts for my cousins who cared for her so much. (If you can make it out, behind the ornaments is our partridge—Shirley, of course.) I didn't feel like digging in the bins for the winter flowers, so I put a garland and bow in the container hung on the wall. Next year I can put flowers in it.

ceppo with nativity and Christmas tree

The only place I'm really happy is when we go walking through the new house and planning where we'll put everything. Realistically I know it won't counter all the melancholy, but it gives me good vibes walking through the rooms.


» Friday, December 16, 2005
Friday Five

1. What is the oldest object in the room with you?

A book called How Sweet It Was! by Arthur Schulman and Roger Youman. It is a pictoral history of television, oversized hardback. I bought it from Woolworth's when I was about 11. My mom nearly had a cow when she found out I spent...gasp...$10 on it. (Paperbacks at that time sold for 60 cents and hardback novels for about $3.)

2. What is the newest?

The magazines I bought today: Midwest Living, Cottage Living, Period Living and Traditional Homes, and Birds and Blooms.

3. What is your favorite object in the room with you?

Pidgie! Oh...LOL. The computer.

4. What is the most valuable object?

The television.

5. What is the ugliest object?

The wall to wall carpet. Ughhhhhhhhhhh.


» Thursday, December 15, 2005
I just have to vent somewhere. I spent an hour and a half editing a statement of work in the system we have here, saved and exited the document correctly, and now I just went back into it and it's completely blank. It does this a lot, just drops the connection to the server, and doesn't save your work. Stupid thing.


Thursday Threesome

::Candy Canes and Peppermint Sticks::

Onesome: Candy canes-- Treat of the Christmas season or something you just never got into? (Oh, and "traditional" or with green stripes for the aficionados out there ?)

Oh, I love candy canes, but the minis are about all I can eat, unless I want to be working on candy-cane into the next day. I bet spearmint candy canes would be wonderful; I love spearmint. That used to be my favorite kind of gum.

They are also good crunched up and added to chocolate cake mix!

Twosome: and Peppermint-- or cinnamon scented candles and such? Which do you prefer when you walk into a home or business this time of year? ...or maybe even fresh evergreen from a real tree?

Evergreen smell would be the best, but I'm allergic to real trees. I keep apple and cinnamon air freshner in the kitchen all the time, so I guess cinnamon. Peppermint is nice, too. Anything fall-scented or winter-scented I like (and lilacs).

Threesome: sticks-- ..or schtick? ..or even maybe kitsch? Yeah, what is your most un-favorite piece of Christmastime memorabilia? That display at the hardware store? The "Simpsons Nativity"? That ornament you made in third grade that still ends up on the tree each year? Inquiring minds and all that...

I don't keep anything that's an "un-favorite" piece. Life's too short to look at ugly of anything.


» Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I Wish... would snow...


RIP John Langstaff
Details in Holiday Harbour.


"'King Kong' a Giant Pleasure"
Wow, what a review!

Paul Clinton's review of the new Peter Jackson film.


Just a Nice, Normal Budgie
I always had to shake my head at Bandit, who was the only budgie I've owned that didn't like "people food." We eventually got him to eat a celery leaf occasionally and he liked "white seed" (rice), but unlike Merlin and Sylvester and Frisky, he never looked with interest at dinner plates. (Merlin was crazy about pork chops, especially pork chop bones. Sylvester liked turkey. Frisky liked anything that didn't eat him first, but he was especially fond of Special K, wheat bread, and salami.)

Budgies are actually supposed to eat table food of certain kinds to stay healthy: vegetables, rice, noodles, wheat bread, etc. Fatty stuff isn't good (not for us humans, either!), nor is spicy food, and chocolate is poisonous. A complete seed diet is bad for them; too fattening. I'm glad Pidgie likes the LeFebre fruit pellets along with his Forti-Diet and the occasional sprig of millet, which is the bird version of candy.

But lately he's been picking stuff off the dinner plate, too—his favorite...don't laugh...seems to be chicken soup. Last night James made pork slices cooked up with celery, carrots, onions and mushrooms in a brown gravy sauce. Pidge sampled a little of everything, but seemed quite taken with the pork! (and the gravy).


Well, Cross Fingers...
...we think Mom's house is sold. The listing is withdrawn from the realtor's web site and our lawyer tells us the people who are buying it are applying for their mortgage and of course an inspection must be done.

I hope they're nice. I wouldn't want my godmother to have any trouble.


» Tuesday, December 13, 2005
DVD Transfer Diary
I'm getting down to the wire: did Journey of Natty Gann last night. Still have at least one Sam Neill movie, probably more like two. And the American Playhouse presentation of "Into the Woods."

I also have PBS's The Great War, but I think I'm missing two parts. It's all on one VHS tape, which isn't long enough for eight parts. Darn.


Tuesday Twosome

1. Name you are most frequently called? Nickname you are most frequently called?

I'm usually just called my name. But James calls me "Pup," so I guess that's the nickname I'm most frequently called.

2. Age people think you are? Age you wish you were?

People used to think I was younger; dunno what they think with the dark circles I always have under my eyes! I wish I were ten again. The only bad things in life were spinach and fractions. :-)

3. Have you ever had someone mess with you while you were sleeping? Have you ever messed with people when they are sleeping?

Nope and nope. I have night terrors and talk in my sleep; I hope no one messes with me.

4. Have you ever actually listened to Telemarketers? Have you ever prank-called someone?

Yes, I've listened to them, but now either let the machine field the call or just say I'm not interested and hang up. It's always credit cards or something boring like that.

5. What is the longest you have gone without food? What is the largest amount of food you have ever eaten at one sitting?

Probably after one of my surgeries. As for the other, who remembers? Eating's just something you have to do; I don't keep score. Probably it was some Thanksgiving.


Looks like I should resign myself to feeling sick for a few more days. The "fallout" from the drug reaction is still not over and I'm sick to my stomach again. I've just gnawed on a bit of plain bread to see if that helps.

I'm also worried about the Cipro; I took it last night before bed and it did seem to make me slightly woozy (but I didn't sleep well at all Sunday night, so I could have been just tired). No problem being woozy at bedtime, but I can't risk it before a 28-mile drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I'm going to wait to take it after I get home tonight and see if the wooziness strikes again; if it does I will have to call the advice nurse again and ask how I'm supposed to take this stuff and go to work at the same time.

(I hope now that I'm off the other stuff the other side effect will go away: my gums hurt. It's become downright painful to brush my teeth.)



» Monday, December 12, 2005
Good Grief...
...they gave me Cipro.

Isn't that what they gave those folks who they thought might have anthrax?

Label on the bottle says "May cause dizziness." Then how in Sam Hill am I supposed to take 'em and drive to work, too?

Infections were much simpler before I had the reaction to the amoxicillin.


I have had to call the doctor again. I phoned the pharmacist earlier and told them about the symptoms I was experiencing. She said I should definitely not take the medication any longer and they would have the doctor call me back. I hope I don't have to go in again. Sigh.


» Sunday, December 11, 2005
Birthday Festivities
Still not up to speed here; I seem to be experiencing half the side effects of the antibiotic...not fun or conducive to sleeping. However, the Pepto Bismol and cheese is helping to keep it at bay.

After a brief dash to the house (see pics), we drove out to Stone Mountain Park for the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's annual performance of "An Atlanta Christmas." The friend I had had the nightmare about was there and I felt better talking to her; she's still not well, but they are figuring out what is wrong with her and she's at least able to go out, although she is still very tired.

It was the usual program of Christmas skits, plus a couple of new ones, including the funny "Zen Santa" and a spoof of driving on the ice (featuring the couple from my favorite story, "Are You Lonely Tonight?"). They got to do "USO Christmas" this year, and of course we laughed through the standards about the Christmas pageant and the mall Santa, and sat thoughtfully during "O Tannenbaum," a story set during the Christmas truce of World War I.

We came home for a quiet supper and then my final birthday treat: watching The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.


More House Pics
Surf over to Autumn Hollow.


Climb Ev'ry Mountain...
...we spend the day "up north" among the Christmas finery, in Holiday Harbour.


» Saturday, December 10, 2005
Out of the House!
Finally. Still was pretty tired today, especially after last night's...uh...bathroom diversions. The salad I ate at Sweet Tomatoes seems to have taken revenge on me (or didn't like my meds, or something like that).

We had a "Christmas excursion," so I'm going to pop over to Holiday Harbor and include it there.

James gave me my birthday gifts tonight, since we're going to be busy tomorrow (more house photos, and the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's Christmas performance at Stone Mountain Park—maybe a sojourn to the DeKalb Farmer's Market to get boneless turkey thighs—only place that has them around here for a reasonable price—since I like to go before Christmas and see all the international foods anyway). He bought me a copy of How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas (a sequel to The Autobiography of Santa Claus), a Magnetic Poetry calendar, and another fascinating-looking book called The Air-Raid Warden was a Spy, stories about homefront America during World War II.


» Friday, December 09, 2005
Cold and Clear
I think the "mycin" is finally starting to kick in. I really hate the fact that I had an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin back when I took it in May. I probably would have started feeling better a lot sooner. The pharmacist really meant it when she said this stuff would make you nauseated if you didn't eat first, and that it would leave a metallic taste on your tongue. Ugh. At least I'm not itching like last time.

It's been very cold out today for Georgia—36°F with the wind chill bringing it down to 27°F, and now it's only about 40°F. (Brent's probably thinking that's like a nice spring day.) There are folks around here that will put on a coat when it gets under 60°F.


» Thursday, December 08, 2005
This damn cold has talons like a sabre-tooth tiger's fangs. It doesn't want to let go. I tried to do a few housework duties today and ended up out of breath and coughing. I've been able to save the cough syrup until bedtime the other nights, but about 10 o'clock I had a coughing fit so hard I was starting to heave and James had to run upstairs to get it. It's helped since then but now already I'm starting to cough a little again.

God, what a year—"jinx" written all over it. Wrecked truck, sick dog, sick husband, bronchitis, night terrors, heat waves sans air conditioning, and worst of all, losing Mom to something hideous and painful and nothing I could do to help. Last night I dreamt that a close friend died. Too much.


» Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Living History
My parents were adults on December 7, 1941. Dad was five days away from his 28th birthday. He worked as a polisher for the Colonial Knife Company and was also in the National Guard. Mom was 24 (about to turn 25 in two months). I think she was still working at Coro at the time, although she might have gone over to Trifari by then. So in our home World War II wasn't something from a book; it was as real as the things happening in my own childhood: the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy's assassination, Vietnam. It was easy to open a door into their world: just ask a question or go into the attic and look at the war maps cut from the paper, Dad's medals and photos, the front page announcement of FDR's death. (Or just walk into my Papà's house, which always looked like it hadn't changed much from that time.)

I never did ask my Dad what he was doing on December 7; I do know that as National Guard he was mobilized immediately. I regret I never had asked; I suppose I should talk to one of his sisters about any recollections.

Mom and the family had gone to church that morning, of course, and after Sunday dinner she had gone visiting a cousin. She was walking past someone's home and they had opened the window and called out to her about the announcement just on the radio. I remember her telling me that when the news was confirmed she and other family members and friends went to church. It was crowded with other people who had come out to pray. I can imagine the inside of that old-fashioned Catholic church still: just a little dim inside, the votive candles flickering (certainly many of them must have been lighted that day), the scent of warm wax and incense and wool coats and the December cold that blew in each time the next person opened the door, looking for solace.

I always think a lot about those lives lost and those others changed on this anniversary, but this year, with Mom gone, it is especially sad.


Radio Coverage of December 7-8, 1941
Sound files from the era at The Authentic History Center.

Apparently the famous John Charles Daly announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor, used on many historical programs, is an edited version of two different announcements Daly did.

The Kaltenborn clip is used in The Waltons episode "Day of Infamy." I have a copy of The Jack Benny Show with the war interrruptions.

People used to CNN and Fox News, plus local stations providing total coverage of a news event the moment it happens, may be surprised that most of the radio broadcasting schedule went on as planned that night. There were occasional bulletins and the story was covered on news programs, but there was no wall-to-wall news as would be done today.

(Check this site out: a great variety of different historical media.)


Yay for Codeine
I actually slept most of the night and did not wake up with a coughing fit. (Don't you just hate when you're coughing so hard you see white sparks all the way around your field of vision?) Still tossed and turned, though.

I remember how my mom always struggled through colds and flu because she never got a fever; now I seem to be in the same boat. I have all the "pleasures" of the flu without an elevated temperature. It's normal for me with my allergies to be stuffed up or have itching eyes. It's feeling like I've been pummeled by a boxer that I hate (and still being sleepy after eight hours of sleep). The doctor said to rest yesterday and I did, but I did do a really simple chore: hanging the wreath on the front door. Just going upstairs, getting it out of the closet, and replacing the Indian corn with the wreath got me winded and coughing.

Thank God the dubbing project can be done without expending a lot of energy. I'd love to have the videotapes out of here by the end of the year. I've been working on them, two and three hours a day after work, since February.

Off to take more Mucinex... (what fun)


"An Eventful Weekend"
For the past few years, Mike Waters has been blogging the events of World War II as if blogs existed at the time and commenting as if he was a citizen of the late 30s watching the situation explode in Europe. I've been waiting to see how he reported on December 7, 1941.

A new chapter in the story is about to begin in Michael's Modern Blog


» Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown!
His television Christmas story turns 40; more in Holiday Harbour.


Amongst the black and white eps of What's My Line?, etc., I found a copy of the game show He Said, She Said. This was the "parent" series of the later Tattletales with Bert Convy; the host of HS,SS was Joe Garagiola (yeah, the ex ballplayer/sportscaster) and I used to enjoy watching it during school vacation. Pretty dull crew in this outing; my favorite shows were the ones with Brett Somers and Jack Klugman. Somers brought down the house one day when she commented that her little boy had told her, "Mommy, when you're on that show, they should call it 'She Said, She Said.'"

I do remember when I went in for surgery in my senior year, I couldn't watch He Said, She Said, at least until the stitches came out. It hurt too much to laugh.

I wish I'd saved more of the What's My Line? shows. Most of the panel and the host had been on radio at one time—the host, John Charles Daly, is the voice you usually hear announcing the bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II retrospectives—and it was great watching them dressed to the nines in evening gowns and tuxedos to participate on a game show. My favorite panelist was Bennett Cerf, the head of Random House publishing company. I had most of his humor collections from the time I was in elementary school. (My other favorite humorist at that time was Sam Levenson, who appears in one of the episodes of I've Got a Secret that I have. He wrote a wonderfully funny memoir called Everything But Money back in the 60s.)

I still like Random House; they're publishing Rupert Holmes' books, after all. :-)


St. Nicholas Arrives... Holiday Harbour.

Also, here's a account of St. Nicholas celebrations in the Netherlands.


I have bronchitis (I impart this news in the same tone that Captain Renault says "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" in Casablanca) and am contagious while I'm still hacking the way I am. The doctor says I'm to rest for at least another two days. (That would be nice if I could actually sleep without coughing. He says I should take the cough syrup with codiene.) Since I seem to have had a reaction to the amoxicillin last time, I received a "mycin" instead.

What a wonderful St. Nicholas Day present. (What an even more delightful thing to happen five days before your fiftieth birthday.)

Since I'm effectively housebound, I've been dubbing off the last few things that seem to be lurking in the tape case: I did Sabrina (the original) yesterday (not knowing TCM was showing it in a couple of days; oh, well) as well as the one episode of the terrible Payne series that I kept (Amanda Naughton was a guest star, which was the only reason to keep this dog) and a Burke's Law (the new version) with Dean Stockwell. There's various other things, but I'm too fuzzy to remember them now.

Now I'm continuing on what's left of Game Show Network's old "Sunday night in black and white" feature, which I started last night: What's My Line? mostly, I think, plus I've Got a Secret and a To Tell the Truth or two.

I got home in time (I was only at Kaiser for 45 minutes, which included a pharmacy stop, which astonished me) to record Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, a slice-of-life World War II era story taking place in a small farm town populated mostly with those of Norwegian descent. It is the tale of a year (actually, nine months) in the life of seven-year-old Selma Jacobson, played by Margaret O'Brien, and her partner in crime, cousin Arnold Hansen played by Butch Jenkins. It's a very sweet movie, but I'm sure James is glad he missed it. :-)


» Monday, December 05, 2005
For St. Nicholas Eve...
...did Clement C. Moore really write what's considered his most celebrated work? in Holiday Harbour.


Just As I Expected...
...I can't get an appointment until tomorrow. (Sheesh, if I wanted an appointment with my own doctor, I'd have to wait until Wednesday.) Still no fever. As I get older, I'm developing a lot of my mother's traits. (This, of course, after the last seven years, scares the living hell out of me.) Mom never got a fever when she was sick, either. I'm just miserable. Of course couldn't sleep at all last night, but did sleep well after eight o'clock.


» Sunday, December 04, 2005
St. Barbara's Day... Holiday Harbour.


House Visit!
See daring ductwork, firm fireplaces, and boggy backyards! in Autumn Hollow.


» Saturday, December 03, 2005
Wires and Pipes and Holes, O My!
More house progress in Autumn Hollow.


At Long Last, a Christmas Tree!
Details and some Christmas treats in Holiday Harbour.


» Friday, December 02, 2005
Day of disappointments. No new Best of British at Border's in Buckhead. No new Quick & Easy at Barnes & Noble. Feeling too lousy to do anything else. Coughing now.

At least I got my library books returned and bread bought for next week.


» Thursday, December 01, 2005
Willow Online!
Vote for Willow at Dog Show USA - Dog Gallery!


Oh, Great...
...I have a stinkin' cold.

I noticed yesterday when I climbed the stairs that I was a bit more out of breath than usual. I hadn't slept well—I had another nightmare—and just figured it was because I was tired. By afternoon when I was ranting about Microslop Word, my throat was sore. It's very dry at work and that's pretty normal for this time of year.

By the time James got home my throat was hurting worse and I was starting to lose my voice. I had "sick soup" for supper and concentrated on the TV, but presently I started coughing.

Needless to say I didn't sleep well last night, between the coughing and not being able to breathe.

I still can't breathe well and I'm still coughing. I'm taking Ibuprofin and Mucinex and drinking, but I still feel like hell.

(It's all Word's fault...)