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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» Thursday, July 31, 2008The Doctor Makes It Clear
Or rather the champion restoration team who are doing the Doctor Who DVDs. I've been watching the first two parts of "Talons of Weng-Chiang," one of my favorite Who serials, with the popup commentary on. The picture is bright and clear, and the sound clear. Of course, this is compared to my old, washed-out copy from WGBH, where the picture shimmied every time a plane flew over and was shot through with electrical interference from God-only-knows-where.
"Weng-Chiang" is a wonderful period piece about a Victorian music hall and the Chinese magician it employs (a front for a visitor from the future who talks about Time Agents, giving speculation to a theory that Captain Jack Harkness of the new series would have been one of these), and two of the most delightful supporting characters in Who history, the bombastic but cowardly music-hall owner Henry Gordon Jago, played by Christopher Benjamin (just recently in the new series episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp"), and Professor Litefoot, the courtly elderly pathologist played by Trevor Baxter. (Jago and Litefoot were so popular that a series was considered for them.)
Other things this particular serial is known for: a hideously bad fake giant rat, and, oh yeah, Louise Jameson as Leela running around in wet Victorian underwear.
We are having our second thunderstorm of the day, and this one is making me feel as if I'm back at Fort Ticonderoga again, watching an exhibition of cannon firing. About half the claps sound like artillery fire rather than thunder rumbling. Willow is keeping close under my chair (but of course, since I'm having my lunch, that might just be for the food).
» Wednesday, July 30, 2008Argh!
I just checked our Netflix queue and disk one of The Adams Chronicles is back to "Long Wait"!!!! Seems as if I am never going to get to watch this series.
Someone's Stalking in the Garden
Laura Thyme's life has taken a tumble. The story opens with her leaving her home with its well-tended, beloved garden because her husband of many years has asked for a divorce; a policeman, he has fallen for a 23-year-old sylph, a coworker (which particularly embitters Laura as she was once a police officer, but he made her quit when they married). She flees to confide in a friend, Sam, who works with a man named Danny, who is afflicted with a hideous skin rash despite medication and his wife's care. Just as Laura arrives, Danny has invited university botany professor Rosemary Boxer and her boss (and ex) Stephen to his estate to discuss a donation and also to ask Rosemary to check out his trees, which are diseased. In the middle of her examination, Stephen gets a phone call and leaves Rosemary at the estate; when Rosemary's secretary shows up next morning she not only brings the testing equipment Rosemary requested, but a letter signed by Stephen making her "redundant" (the charming British term for being laid off). When Sam is killed in a car accident, Rosemary and Laura become friendsand soon discover all is not well on Danny's estate. For one thing, what's with the creepy elderly housekeeper who keeps trudging off into the yard with a big knife, not to mention the doctor making sheep's eyes at Danny's wife?
And once the mystery is concluded, what will get-your-hands-dirty gardening lover Laura and employment-less university lecturer Rosemary do? Form a garden restoration firm, of course, called Rosemary and Thyme. But like Jessica Fletcher, the ladies seem to find dead bodies grow where Rosemary goes (along with Laura, of course). :-)
If you are looking for complex British mysteries with much soul-searching or brooding angst or gritty police work, look elsewhere: try Foyle's War or Inspector Lynley or Waking the Dead. You can usually pinpoint the bad guy in a Rosemary and Thyme story before the halfway mark; the fun is watching Pam Ferris as Laura Thyme and The Good Life/Solo alumni Felicity Kendal as Rosemary Boxer play a British version of Trixie Belden and Honey Wheeler in their late 50s, mulling over clues as they replant gardens and play sleuth. (Since Rosemary is a former instructor we might even stretch it to call her a "schoolgirl shamus" <g>.) Besides the ladies' garden work, the murder usually has some kind of garden theme, not to mention that Rosemary and Thyme actually have plants in both their names (Boxer=Boxwood and Laura=Laurel), so plants (both botanical and mysterious) abound. If you're a "cozy" mystery book fan, you'll probably enjoy branching out to Rosemary and Thyme, available through Netflix, Amazon, or your friendly Borders brick-and-mortar store.
» Tuesday, July 29, 2008Birdie On Line
I have finally fixed up a web page for Schuyler.
I feel like a sloth about my web pages. So many of them need updating or, as in the case of Skye's page, construction, but when I get done with work, whether at the building or at home, I don't feel like sitting in front of the computer. The arthritis makes my neck hurt by the time I am done for the day and I spend most of my afternoons with a perpetual headache. I remember my mom going through this and now it's my turn.
Enter The Adams Family
Looks like Adams Chronicles, disc 1, is back in the Netflix queue (I really do wonder if someone damaged it and they had to get a new one, as the other parts have all been available); so when we finish with the last disk of Rosemary and Thyme's first series, we can be sent this miniseries next. Have done a little research on it and discovered that the first two parts are directed by Paul Bogart, who did The House Without a Christmas Tree, coincidental since Lisa Lucas (Addie of that film) plays young Nabby Adams in those episodes (adult Nabby is played by Katharine Houghton, Katharine Hepburn's niece) and Abigail Adams is played by Kathryn Walker, Addie's teacher. It must have been old home week on the Adams set during those episodes!
Next in the queue when the Adams family finally departs is Peter Davison's The Last Detective.
» Monday, July 28, 2008Urf
Sheesh. We've had three new History Detective programs and now we're already into episodes with one "encore segment." Phooey.
You know, if they expect me to put out this much work, they need to get me a computer that operates a little faster than a indolent tortoise on a cold day. All I'm trying to do is print out things and it's going so slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwly that I'm ready to tear my hair out.
» Sunday, July 27, 2008DVD Afternoon
Watched a total of four America episodes: "Gone West," "Huddled Masses," and "The Promise Fulfilled and the Promise Broken." I had particularly wanted to see the latter again, as I am reading Frederick Lewis Allen's Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s. This is a remarkably modern book considering it was written in 1931. Cooke talks about several of the same things that Allen does, including the siren song of saxophones and Bruce Barton.
Then I changed tacks and watched episodes of a series that I was sent by a friend. It hasn't been officially released, but it was broadcast and these episodes had been recorded and passed on. I'd love to have an official release, with the complete episodes (these are fairly complete, but lack the prologues that originally accompanied the network broadcasts). Of course since it would be a Universal release if it ever came to DVD, we couldn't expect any extras.
James was home on time, so we watched a couple of episodes of Futurama and then the final Foyle's War. Really disappointed to see these end alreadybut next week we get some new Inspector Lynley episodes.
Mad Dogs and Italianwomen...
...are apparently the only ones out in the noonday sun; at least I was the only one about in our neighborhood a little while ago.
I got up not long after James left for work, cleaned the bathroom some, then dressed and went out for a paper, and then swung around to Costco, where I bought milk, cheese and juice. I tried to find a big box of Band-Aids, but they had none. James can grab some when he's off tomorrow and picks up his sugar-free pudding.
Instead of pulling the car in the garage when I got home, I just parked in the driveway, portaged everything inside, and swept out the garage, in the corners with the small broom, then the broad center with the push broom. It was 90°F out and I was glad that I was at least in the shade; I still came in soaking wet. If nothing else, it was great exercise.
Now I'm cooling down watching "The First Impact," the first part of Alistair Cooke's America.
» Saturday, July 26, 2008Up in the Morning, Out in the Night
We were up early this morning to go to the Farmer's Market before the "Christmas in July" festivities began. We also had to buy something to take to Games Night tonight; we got a loaf of French bread to go along with dinner, but didn't see anything dessert-y, so drove down to the German bakery and got one hazelnut coffeecake and one raspberry one. It was very hard rising since my left eye was irritated and watering copiously; something I'm allergic to was making me miserable all morning. Then we...sigh...went to WalMart for the monthly/triweekly there. Needed the usual tortillas and things we could only get there. It actually wasn't too bad, so we must have gotten there before the Christmas rush. :-)
Arrived home to have a little lunch, put up the groceries, and wrap the nice round steaks I bought yesterday. You should see Willow when we perform this procedure: she stands as close as she can without us telling her to back off, eyes bright and expectant, ears erect, every fiber of her little body at attention!
James eventually went off to his meeting, and I tidied up a bit and sat solving the problem of the DVD recorder. We haven't been able to make it "see" the satellite signal. I was clicking through the stations it set when we did the automatic setup (only two), and decided to try putting it on Channel 3 again. I thought I had done this weeks ago, but either I did it incorrectly or didn't do it at all, because, whap, there's the satellite signal. I felt so silly! So I was able to transfer all the Tonight Show "Headlines" segments to disk from the DVR. It was odd because the picture was a little fuzzy, so I disconnected the cable that was in the "RF out" port...and nothing happened; it was when I disconnected the "RF in" cable that the satellite input disappeared...which followsbut when I connected the cable that had been in the "RF out" port to the "RF in" port, it worked again, only the picture was now clear. So I was getting feed from both places? How odd. I'd have to move the whole stand to find out which cable was connected to what.
Oh, well, at least it works. I need to copy some other things off as well, just in case the DVR dies again. Wish I had the Hugh Laurie interview I lost!
When James returned from his club meeting we were off to the Lawsons for Game Night. We ladies played several board/card games, including Chronology, Imagine-iff, Scattergories, and Finish Lines, while the guys tried out the new Wall-E game on the Xbox and then played James' new card game, "Fairy Haven." Jerry and Sue made macaroni for supper, rigatoni in both a tomato sauce and agli'olio, and some meatballs, and there was a tomato and lettuce salad as well. Spent the game time snacking on grapes. Eventually left the table after Imagine-iff, quite flushed by hot flashes. Came home and nipped down the air conditioning until I was comfortable again. Phyllis always jokes about hot flashes that "my inner child is playing with matches." Phooey. Mine has a blowtorch.
» Friday, July 25, 2008Stunned
Holy cats! A serious episode of Monk. A game of cat and mouse. No over-reliance on Monk's funny quirks. And no "stupid Randy."
A Little Bit of Everything
At last! a decent night's sleep. Of course I have to stay in bed until 9:30 to do it, since I seem to get my best sleep after 6 a.m. I don't expect anything different any longer; my mom gave birth to a night owl, but then she was one herself (my dad always shook his head about how late we stayed up; he was pretty much an 11 p.m. guy himself).
I had a pile of coupons and also wanted to hit Publix for some BOGO staples: I bought pasta and peanut butter, and also some 100-calorie chip packs for DragonCon. Joann had a "coupon commotion," so I got some cross-stitch magazines, needles, magnets, and some storage containers/organizers that were half-price or only one dollar each. I also went to Linens'n'Things, but didn't buy the sheets I was looking at because I didn't know how thick our mattress was (we have a problem with our old fitted sheets not tucking around the mattress properly because they aren't deep-pocketed enough). (Turns out the mattress is 14 inches thick with the egg-crate foam underneath, so the sheets will fit.)
Disappointingly, the Costco at Town Center no longer carries soy isoflavones either. BJs still doesn't carry them, as I found out when I stopped on the way home, since we needed beef and granola bars. I did get some nice round steaks, cut by the butcher, and added to our staples stash with some canned soup.
I also picked up something I'd been see-sawing about: the Chuck Jones Collection. The reason I was wavering was because I already had what was in the collection.
Back in the 1970s, Chuck Jones did three specials (for CBS I believe) based on stories from The Jungle Book and three specials (for ABC), the first based on George Selden's The Cricket in Times Square, with two original sequels following them. I had recorded several of these myself, but they had been in terrible condition (especially Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, which had massive drop-outs). A few years ago, Lionsgate released these as three separate DVD sets, with one Kipling with one cricket: Mowgli's Brothers/Very Merry Cricket; The White Seal/Yankee Doodle Cricket; and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi/Cricket in Times Square. I bought all three.
The Kipling specials were excellent, as Jones was a Kipling fan and based the animated tales strictly on what appeared in the short stories. (I was amusedand annoyedwhen someone criticized Mowgli's Brothers as being "not fun like Disney's" version; maybe not, but the short cartoon is the original Kipling!) Granted, Jones' mongoose and seal were a lot "cuter" than their real-life counterparts, but the tale was adhered to, and The White Seal has the added bonus of a magnificent score by Dean Elliot, based on Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. (I laughed today when I looked at the reviews on Amazon for Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and someone criticized the lyrics for the one musical number. The lyrics are directly from Kipling's poem that accompanies the story.)
The Chester Cricket stories are in a lighter vein. Most poetic is the original story, about a lost Connecticut cricket who ends up in the Times Square subway station. His new friends, a cat named Harry and a mouse named Tucker (predictably, Mel Blanc voices Tucker in the cartoons), discover he has a stunning talent: he can listen to any piece of music once and "play it" on his wings. Chester is a sensation, helps revive the business of Mario the newsboy, but gives his final performance (a knockout version of "Meditation," played by Israel Baker) and then goes home to Connecticut (I feel a great kinship with Chester; seeing an autumn leaf makes him homesick). Chester's music makes New Yorkers stop what they're doing and really listen, captured in some delightful static portraits by Jones.
I find A Very Merry Cricket cute (Harry and Tucker fetch Chester back to New York to give the city some Christmas spirit; the Connecticut cat is hilarious), but, frankly, IMO, Yankee Doodle Cricket is a bore. The story was written for the Bicentennial, a slight tale where Tucker's ancestor's "Declaration of Interdependence," Harry's ancestor's interference with Thomas Jefferson's writing, and Chester's ancestor's playing of "Yankee Doodle" inspired the American Revolution. The comic relief here (if you want to call it that), is a snake who inspired the famous flag by commenting repeatedly "Don't Tread on Me." Ho-hum.
Anyway, I did buy the Collection (I'll put the old DVDs in the donation box; it also takes up less room on the DVD rack) and watched it all this afternoon while eating my lunch and trying to read. As always, Yankee Doodle Cricket puts me to sleep. I've never gotten through it without dozing off. I noticed something in the DVD version of A Very Merry Cricket that I had never noticed before, possibly, because I've seen it so many times since the 1970s, first run and on video and even an audio copy I made before I had a VCR, my brain was filling it in. Jones creates an audio tapestry of New York streets at Christmastime in a mixed cacophony of car horns, screeching tires, complaining people and whining children, and the ubiquitous store window display with a clockwork Santa Claus who repeats "Merry Christmas, kiddies!" in a jerky fashion. Near the end, when the electric circuitry overloads and everything begins to lose power, the Santa's voice slows down and then drags to a stop, like a cassette player whose battery is running down. This whole "dying Santa" soundtrack is missing on the DVD! (It's missing on the old version, tooI checked.) Beats me how they lose these little bits of soundtrack. I know I was pissed when Rankin-Bass released Little Drummer Boy with whole musical tracks gone and someone else reading Greer Garson's narration in one spot. This is minor; you'd never know it was gone if you hadn't seen the original, but it's annoying for a videophile.
The collection comes with one bonus the separate DVDs didn't have: a fifteen minute retrospective on Chuck Jones, specifically about his production of these six animated shorts. His widow and voice artist June Foray appear, along with animator Eric Goldberg.
» Thursday, July 24, 2008Star of David! Pointing Left Hand! Raindrop! Pencil!
James always jokes about the glaze I get in my eyes whenever I see a software package of fonts.
Which explains why this had me on the floor. ROFL! Wicked brilliant! (Rodney, you'll enjoy this one.)
(Header can be translated in...what else?...Wingdings...LOL).
Thanks to Alice for forwarding!
» Wednesday, July 23, 2008Don't Drink the Water
Am I glad I'm teleworking the rest of the week. We had a storm last night, and lightning hit the water purification plant for the part of town that I work in. It will take 24 to 48 hours to "boot up" the system again and in the meantime the water is considered not even safe to shower with. They trucked in bottled water in my building, according to e-mail, and I suspect you'd even have to use it to wash your hands after using the restroom because you'd use them to eat.
Speaking of yesterday's storm, when I walked Willow this afternoon, I decided to rattle the water barrel to see how much had collected, since we had a pretty torrential downpour. It didn't slosh; I could barely move it! I opened up the top spigot and water ran outthe darn thing was completely full!
We need to get one of those soaker hoses pretty soon if one big downpour is going to fill the barrel like that. It holds 53 gallonswho knew that much rain would fall? I thought it would take weeks!
We can go out and get our tree now. :-)
» Tuesday, July 22, 2008No More Late Nights
Jay Leno's Last Show May 29, 2009
I don't absolutely hate Conan O'Brien and Leno isn't always sterlinghe talks too much during interviewsbut to me O'Brien's humor falls flat more often. And I'll miss "Headlines," a Monday night highlight. We've been storing "Headline" segments for the past year or so for future viewing.
» Monday, July 21, 2008From Above
We're watching something on the Smithsonian Channel called Sky View: Fortress Britain. It's all about castles, beginning with the Roman fortifications and showing how castle design changed over the centuries. One of the first shown is Tintagel, alleged birthplace of King Arthur. I've known Tintagel for years in re-reading Mary Stewart's Merlin novels. Castles in England, Scotland and Wales are all shown. One of the "newer" castles shown was Fort George, built to subdue the Scots after the Battle of Culloden. It looks very much like Fort Ticonderoga in New York, but that's no wonder, as they are the same era. Wow! What views! All in HD!
This is from February, probably filmed last year. Many of the rivers are very low. Is there drought in Britain now? Everything else looks lush and green.
» Sunday, July 20, 2008The Siren Song of Books and Other Shopping Stories
Out this morning, definitely not bright and early, to finish the shopping. I started on a sore throat last night and am still feeling a bit run-down this morning. We went to Trader Joe's for more chicken salad, then went by the Borders at the Avenue at West Cobb where I finally found the new Yankee (I really need to subscribe; and I keep saying that, don't I, every time I can't find it). Borders is having yet another $3.99/trade paperback and $5.99/hardback "hurt book" sale and, as always, they found me: three likely looking books in the remainder pile: a biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, a book of essays about children's authors, and a mystery set in 1920s British East Africa (Kenya). I also got a Victorian-era book called A Foreign Affair.
We finished up at Costco. I had a coupon for an HBO video set, so I bought John Adams, and of course the ubiquitous omeprazole. I am really upset to find out Costco has quit selling the soy isoflavones. They have something called a "menopause mixture" (or something like that) with soy isoflavones in it, but it also has black cohosh, and I have read that you shouldn't have black cohosh if you have heart problems. I'll either have to check the Costco at Town Center or go searching for smaller bottles in the drugstores again, dammit.
I am trying something new. We needed soap, so I bought Costco's French-milled vegetable-based soap. I understand that vegetable-based soaps do not leave soap scum. The French-milling is supposed to make the bar more solid. This soap also has some moisturizer in it. Since I take hot showers due to my arthritis, hopefully this will help my skin.
We spent part of the rest of the afternoon watching the end of Flyboys, a World War I-set film based on the exploits of the Lafayette Escadrille. Although several men were shot and one died in a flaming plane, this was a remarkably bloodless film. I kept waiting for the champagne bottle and Neville Sinclair. :-)
Just One More Reason Not to Go to Cumberland Mall
Just got an e-mail announcing the closing of their Waldenbooks. Now there will be no bookstore there at all. So the only reason to go will be to eat at Fresh2Order or go to Hallmark.
Her Secret Crush
Too funny...James has been hanging about tonight on a site that sells soundtrack/scores of films and television. He played the Doctor Who theme and Schuyler just about went crazy. She started hopping around her cage and chirping at the top of her lungs. James thought it was just that he was playing the theme too loud and played some other themes. No, it was the Doctor Who theme that captured her attention several times.
Bandit used to have a "crush" on a television theme like that: he didn't care about the first two seasons of Babylon 5, but when Claudia Christian narrated the opening credits to season three, no matter what he was doing, he would launch himself out of the cage and fly around the room chirping loudly until the credits finished. I think he had a crush on her voice!
» Saturday, July 19, 2008Out and About...And About
We played it quiet last night since we were going to be so busy today, and certainly we needed the rest: we were up at the crack of 8:30 to go to the Farmer's Market before we had to go to Hair Day. We piled Neil's graduation gift and the pork and chicken barbecue we were bringing as the main dish into the car, perused the market quickly, buying more sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, a green pepper, potatoes, another loaf of French bread, a baklava ladyfinger for a dessert, and a homemade ham and cheese croissant as a breakfast for James. Then we were off to the Butlers' house for the usual tumult of Hair Day. Mel and Phyllis' son Robb, Robb's wife Kaycee, and their adorable little granddaughter Sophia were visiting.
About 2:30 we arrived home to put the barbecue away, then we went out again: to MicroCenter to get me a new mouse pad for the laptop, Linens'n'Things to spend a coupon, to Borders to spend another coupon, and then finally to Michael's to spend yet another coupon. At Microcenter I found a DVD set called "Hollywood Goes to War." It's rather a misnomer, because what it is are mostly documentaries narrated by famous actors or directed by famous directors. All but one of the Frank Capra documentaries in the "Why We Fight" series is here, plus a British film narrated by Peter Ustinov about the rise of Adolf Hitler. It has John Huston's "Battle of San Pietro" and "Report from the Aleutians" as well. The one fictional movie is Ronald Reagan's This is the Army. At Borders I found a gift for James and also found a book I have heard about for years, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, on the bargain table. It's supposed to be a mystery classic.
We got home to have a light supper, having enjoyed the barbecue, cucumber salad, macaroni salad, cole slaw, and olives at Hair Day (not to mention a piece of Pat's birthday cake), and watched last night's Jeopardy and Monk. I had wondered how they were going to handle the death of Stanley Kamel, who played Monk's psychiatrist, Dr. Kroger, and it turned out they had Dr. Kroger die of a heart attack on the series as well, having Monk so unsettled by his death that he bought a house (and involved himself in a mystery). It was quite sensitive to the situation, yet provided a mystery, and, yay! we didn't get "stupid Randy" either.
» Friday, July 18, 2008Fresh Wings
I filled up the bird feeder before work and was rewarded with the immediate arrival of a chipping sparrow and a slightly smaller, spotted bird. They both sat on the feeder perch for a time, then the spotted bird hopped on the rail and the chipping sparrow went back and forth, feeding seeds from the feeder to his little youngster. Awww.
» Thursday, July 17, 2008The Thursday Snooze
I'm in the office on a Thursday for the first time in over a year and it looks like the "Thursday afternoon slump" in computer response isn't confined totally to those of us teleworking. I booted up my computer after returning from class only to have it mosey indolently in view after about three minutes. Response time is lagged, keystrokes are jerky.
In case you were looking to get one of those "cushy jobs" as a Federal employee, you might want to look elsewhere. We walked into the building that the class was being held at and it smelled like sewage. This could have given low tide at the beach a run for its money. We were told two other buildings were in similar straits. The water fountains were all marked asking people not to drink the water. (Which begs the question: how about washing your hands and then eating something using your fingers, like a sandwich or a granola bar? I guess I'll find out, eh?) Class had barely started when a palmetto bug (that's Southern for "honkin' big roach"this one resembled a small mouse in size) strolled across the floor. Someone stomped on it, but those suckers are strong; a little while later it disappeared and then was found ambling across the floor again before someone permanently ground it into the floor.
» Wednesday, July 16, 2008When It Rains It Pours...
...into the rain barrel. Well, when it does rain. The gentleman who installed the rain barrel says it is sure to rain Saturday since his granddaughter has planned an outdoor wedding and reception in her parents' backyard. :-)
This is a 53 gallon barrel with a cover which is fitted directly to one of the downspouts at the rear of the house. It actually solves two problems, as since the fence was put in, any rain coming through that downspout has been splashing off the fence and eroding the soil around the post. Now the overflow will go into the barrel instead.
I think it's going to take a while to get to the point where we can get water out of it; judging by the position of the bottom spigot we'll need at least 10 gallons. So no maple tree for a little while longer.
One "good" thing about the drought last year is that the yard was fairly clear of biting insects. This year with the occasional rain we have received there are mosquitoes dashing about everywhere. I don't seem to have been bitten, but boy am I itchy from having been outside. While he was installing the barrel I cleared the Independence Day decorations from the front porch, put up the summer banner, and swept the empty half of the garage. An early lunch hour indeed.
» Tuesday, July 15, 2008Cozies
Caught a glimpse of the female cowbird today; haven't seen them around this season, but I'm sure they're out there, tricking the other birds into raising their young. The downy woodpeckers have been back since I finally put some suet out again. I had to clean the feeder this afternoon because the rain had made the seeds stick inside. I gave it a good shake and a wipe-out, and I had barely put it back in place when a hungry titmouse flittered over and grabbed a seed before he noticed me and fled. A brown-headed nuthatch followed, however, and remained munching.
We watched the first disk of Rosemary and Thyme tonight. This isn't a "heavy" mystery series, very much the definition of "cozy." Laura Thyme and Rosemary Boxer are two fifty-ish women who have been dealt blows: Laura's husband left her for a twenty-something sylph and university botanist Rosemary has been made redundant. In the first adventure, they meet for the first time and solve the mystery of a friend of Rosemary's who is suffering from a painful skin diseaseor is he? By the second episode, the women have teamed to start a gardening business. Although the mysteries are serious, the mood is light, and Pam Ferris and Felicity Kendal, as Laura and Rosemary, respectively, are delightful to watch; they look like they're having such fun with the roles. If you're a gardening fan, the settings are a plus: some of the most gorgeous gardens I've ever seen.
» Sunday, July 13, 2008A Good Day to Tidy
Well, shucks, the sun was coming outbut the weather radar shows another line coming toward us, so we have just finished running to the store for a Sunday paper (and other things).
Rainy days are perfect for doing "what needs doing" inside, so that's what the early afternoon has turned into. I decided to finally take apart the big "memorial board" that my cousin Janice made for my mom's funeral. It's been sitting in the corner of my craft room getting bumped into each time I go to the window, so I unpinned all the photos, and even though they are photocopies from exisiting photos, still put them into a careful pile and collected all the thumbtacks into a small container, then folded the board in half. James said, "That's foam core board; it can be used again," so I presented it to him and he disappeared downstairs.
When he didn't come back up, I followed him downstairs with my latest project, a clear glass vase down which I had dripped yellow, red and orange glass paints to give it a fall motif, the copper "metallic shred" I bought yesterday at Hallmark, and some glass marbles at the bottom of the vase. I found him finally trying to alphabetize and properly shelve his paperback books, so as he worked I put some of the shred in the vase and then arranged in the vase the reason I had bought it: three autumn branches I bought over six months ago for about $1 each, so there is now a nice autumn bouquet on the end table. I'd also tossed his socks in the washer, so curled up on the papasan chair nursing my headache until they were ready to toss into the dryer, then came upstairs, which was when I checked the radar map and decided that this was a good time to go get the newspaper.
We went to Publix to turn in our plastic bags for recycling, and, since they had some staples as BOGO (buy one get one [free]), we picked some up. We have decided we really ought to have more staples in the house in case of emergencies and will buy extras whenever they are on sale or when we go shopping. That's why we installed wire shelves on the back of the coat closet downstairs. We added some instant mashed potatoes (which we usually don't eat, but would be okay for emergencies), two boxes of pasta, and some fruit cups.
We're also trying some of their sugar-free ice cream sandwiches since they don't carry the Blue Bunny sugarless ice cream bars; only Food Depot and WallyWorld carry them and we didn't feel like going to either place.
My, it's getting dark out there...
The Rain in
...stays mainly over Atlanta...wow, it's been raining for almost three hours, both light and heavy (there was a tremendous clap of thunder a few minutes ago and the rain is pouring down again); I know it's at least that long because I got up at quarter to ten after listening to Willow woof for a few minute and, with my glasses off, saw what was either rain or fog out the bathroom window. No knowing how long it was raining before that. And, hurrah, it looks oas if it's been raining over Lake Lanier all that time!
James confirmed it was rain and took Willow out, while I crawled back into bed. I'm feeling rather...icky is the only word for it...this morning. I had a sore throat starting last night and a headache, and they were still around this morning, along with a stuffy nose. I think the headache is sinus-generated, as my teeth are hurting, too.
James, bless his heart, made biscuits for breakfast and the hot fluffiness soothed my throat. The throat isn't so sore now, but my sinuses are aching more by the minute.
I am feeling a bit unsettled because I dreamed about my mother last night. I was driving someone someplace, in what looked like my Neon, but it had a hatchback, with the back open, as if the platform wasn't there. I had to stop for a minute, maybe at a bank machine, and when I came back there was my mother sitting in the hatch part. She was dressed as she always did when relaxing around the house, in a flowered housecoat and and old pair of nylon stockings. She was stretched out in the back as if she were sitting in her chair and I think she was crocheting or had one of the afghans on her lap. I opened the hatch and asked her what she was doing there, and I could touch her foot and the material of the stocking, but she wouldn't speak to me. It's always like that. She never speaks to me, only just looks at me, with her lips pursed. I can't tell if she's angry or just quiet. It's so frustrating.
» Saturday, July 12, 2008Well, Fudge
All of a sudden part one of the Adams Chronicles is showing up as "long wait." I don't want to see the rest of the series before I see the first part, so I have moved Rosemary and Thyme to next in the queue. A definite "Rats!"
I hope no one lost the first disk!
Speaking of British mysteries, there's a new series of Foyle's War beginning on Sunday.
A Little Bit of This and That
We were late enough to the farmer's market that the ears of corn I bought were rather anemic, but thankfully they still had loaves of fresh bread left. We also got tiny onions andta-da, will be having a rainbarrel installed on Wednesday. Hopefully we will at least be having these small rainstorms, where it rains furiously for fifteen minutes to a half hour (a nice rainy day would be better, but I am Not Holding My Breath). Someone was selling the cutest Japanese maples this morning!
We went from natural to plastic, driving to Amy's Hallmark on Delk Road for the ornament premiere. I was restrained and only bought five ornaments, and two of those were for the library tree (the classic Pooh and the bears reading) and one for the Rudolph tree. (The other two were Lady and the Tramp, which is one of my favorite Disney animateds, and Snoopy and the "Beagle Scouts" because Woodstock was always my favorite "Peanuts" character.) I got the candy elf for free and James bought this year's airplane ornament, plus I signed up for the ornament club because one of the exclusives is a bookshop and the other is a snowman that I can remove the stocking from and he will be perfect for my winter village (plus because I fell in love with the upcoming Canadian Santa and he's exclusive to the ornament club).
The purchase I loved the most only cost two dollars: it was a small bag of very thinly cut "filler," which basically looks like tinsel, except it's in copper. I love copper and this seemed perfect to put into the vase I had glass painted to hold a bouquet of autumn leaves.
We also went up to Betsy's Hallmark at Merchant's Walk and found a gift for friends, but nothing more for now. Most of the things I want aren't coming out until October or November, like that Canadian Santa, the "Swingin' Jukebox," and the working View Master.
We made a short stop at Book Nook on the return trip and I was quite excited to find several vintage sports books as a gift for a friend and also a book that a close friend has talked about wanting to find, as well as a book for myself called Christmas the World Over. We were slow approaching the hobby shop, however, because there was a horrific accident right in front of their shopping center: a small car had pulled out in front of an SUV, which swerved, struck the car a glancing blow, and then plowed into a telephone pole so hard that it toppled the polewhich dragged the wires and toppled two other telephone poles. The guys said it sounded like a bomb went off outside.
We finally brought our purchases home and stowed them, then ran to Kroger to get dog food and wild bird seed. We also picked up some sale pork chops to have on the grill. After a trip to Lowes for a new battery for James' cordless drill (we had a coupon that was expiring immediately) and some safflower seeds, we were finally able to come home, relax, and cool off. It is hideously humid out and it took ages, I thought, just to be comfortable.
We usually eat out on Saturdays, so it was unusual to have supper at home tonight. The chops were thin, and grilled in almost a minute, not long after I had sliced up the farmers market cucumbers and tomatoes into a salad. Nothing much on tonight, though, and I didn't even feel like popping a movie into the DVD player. We started watching the Rick Schroder version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, but when we started talking back to the television and asking why, we figured it was time to quit. :-)
» Friday, July 11, 2008Fun for Everyone
Remember family movies? Walt Disney studios used to make most of 'emSummer Magic, In Search of the Castaways, Pollyanna, Toby Tyler, Nikki: Wild Dog of the North, Big Redbut they came out of other studios, too: Gypsy Colt, Bristle Face, Goodbye My Lady, Flipper, My Side of the Mountain, The Railway Children, Journey to the Center of the Earth. These were films everyone could enjoy, from Grandma to the five-year-old. There might be a little romance for the adults, a little slapstick for the kids, adventure for everyone, an occasional saccharin, but always heartwarming ending. Nothing popped, whizzed, or exploded; nobody swore or made bathroom jokes. These were real folks. They might resemble your cousins, the kids down the street, the stories grandma told you about her childhood on the farm or in the tenements.
Believe it or not, there is a movie out there right now that is just like those films. I saw it today, and I was surprised, happy and even a little astonished. It's Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, based on the series of books.
It's 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Kittredge family is increasingly feeling the pinch of the Depression. Older son Charlie is already away, serving in a CCC camp rather than going to college. Left at home with her parents is 10-year-old Kit (really Margaret Mildred). The Kittredges are just managing when the bank repossesses Mr. Kittredge's car dealership. Mrs. Kittredge opens the house for boarders and Mr. Kittredge boards a train for Chicago to find work. At the same time, the Kittredges help out a pair of wandering young hobos, teenage Will, a refugee from Texas, and Countee, a young African-American boy whom Will met on the road (Countee's father has died and Will promised he would care of Countee). But the atmosphere in town threatens the hobo jungle nearby where Will and Countee live: a series of robberies has happened all over Ohio, supposedly done by hoboes, and suspicion dogs all those who live there.
The story is a combination of several of the series books and short stories, plus some things created solely for the movie, including several of the boarders at the Kittredges, and although the story is not rapid-paced, it progresses at a good clip and the cast is excellent. Abigail Breslin is Kit, from her blonde bob down to her Mary Janes, and Zach Mills and Madison Davenport, as boarder Stirling Howard and Kit's best friend Ruthie Smithens, respectively, are also picture- and character-perfect for their parts, and Mills, especially, makes you hurt for the little boy who is afraid he will never see his father again. Appearing in two very appealing supporting roles are Colin Mochrie as Mr. Pennington, a down-and-out stockbroker living in the hobo jungle, and Wallace Shawn (yes, good ol' Vizzini from Princess Bride) as Mr. Gibson, the editor of the newspaper that Kit is desperately trying to sell her stories to.
I have to admit I was very slightly disappointed when a slapstick element showed up during the climax of the filmapparently you can't show kids in any sort of serious jeopardy anymorebut this was my only quibble with this film. A literate script, a great cast, picture-perfect portrait of the era, believable children and adults going through good times and bad, heartbreak and happiness, and a happy ending that is at once sweet but realistic (everything does not get solved). And not one fart or peeing joke! That last may be the best news of all.
(For heaven's sake, now that we have one moviecan we have more?)
» Thursday, July 10, 2008Whither the Weather and All That
It's cloudy out today so far, not overcast really, but the sun hidden behind big fluffy clouds, some with dark undersides. We've been having rainstorms every evening so that we have not been able to go out bike riding any time this week. It's actually a bit of a relief, as the air is like a pall and I find it hard to breathe when it's warm like that. The air is like a hot towel splotted on your face. Even a little cool breeze in the evenings would be such a relief, but it doesn't get cool around here after dark the way I remember it doing in California the two times I visited. I remember it being so chilly in Disneyland after dark that I had to put on a sweater. With the hot flashes now, though, my sweater days are long gone until it gets down into the fifties! :-)
Every time I go into the kitchen to get some water I see, along with the birds flocking at the feeder, yellow leaves swirling down in the fitful breeze outside. Yes, it's the dead of summer, the trees all green, but from somewhere at the tree tops there are yellow leaves being pulled free and gliding or fluttering down to the lawn. One golden-yellow leaf landed right on the deck, quite a contrast to the male cardinal who fluttered down a few minutes later to peck at sunflower seeds. But even the leaf is gone now, hurried along by the wind.
We finished watching John Adams last night, although the disk is not yet back in the mail: we haven't yet watched the "Making of" special and the documentary about David McCullough. So I guess this means we can't start The Adams Chronicles until next week. This will be a totally different experience, I know, since it is a 1970s PBS production filmed (I believe) on videotape and done rather in a static manner like a 1970s BBC costume drama. No matter, the cast is good (George Grizzard as Adams, William Daniels as the adult John Quincy Adams, etc.) and I've wanted to see it for ages. After that, we have a queue of British mysteries coming, and some Disney stuff I haven't seen in ages, like Miracle of the White Stallions and Nikki, Wild Dog of the North.
Anyway, Adams was fabulous, and I'm almost thinking of getting us a copy. I have a $10 off coupon I can use if I can find it in Costco. Of course we knew what would happen in the final part, but couldn't help shedding a tear as first Abigail, then John succumbed to old age. I was very surprised at the surgery scene with daughter Nabby, as I had been led to believe it was very gruesome (and having seen some explicit things on HBO, thought they had played it up judging from the comments I read on the IMDb). It was simply implied, and I expect the imaginations of the viewers did the rest.
Thank God Netflix is working better than my work connection, which has been dragging through midmorning and early afternoon, and has now kicked me out, and when I log back on will not connect. This seems to be a chronic problem on Thursday afternoons. I may have to quit answering e-mail in the morning and save it till afternoon so I can work in ICE during the morning when it is functional.
» Tuesday, July 08, 2008There Oughta Be a Law
Believe me, there is. There are many of them. :-)
I've spent the last two days in an Appropriations Law refresher class. I would have preferred to have been working on the pile of purchase orders I have (sixty at last count, plus the ones I've been assigned but told not to do since they're going to be transferred to someone else). But the class was only going to be scheduled at this time, so we all had to take it.
Much of it was bewildering, because they were saying we couldn't do things that I knew we weren't supposed to do anyway. Were there actually people out there who thought we could? But then I always am bewildered by people who deliberately do things wrong; it's my upbringing, I guess. I would no more pay for my daughter's wedding with a Government credit card (one of the actual cases!) than I would rob a bank.
Unfortunately, I find Appropriation Law rather soporific, and it it was to the instructor's credit that he made the class interesting. He reminded me quite a bit of David Clennon's portrayal of Lee Silver in From the Earth to the Moonif he was teaching geology instead of law, I could easily see him leading an expedition into a canyon looking for "context." :-) In any case, I couldn't doze off in class if I had wanted to: I was sitting right next to my branch chief!
The only other non-remarkable thing about the past two days have been the annoying drivers I've run into. Monday morning I was sitting in the straight/right turn lane waiting for the light at South Cobb to change. The car behind me started beeping at me, evidently wanting to turn right. But I was going straight. So they cut around me and turned right from the left turn lane! On the way home ten hours later I was tailgated by a small SUV going through the exit at Brookwood; a very dangerous place to do so, since cars abruptly brake on the ramp and you don't want to be going too fastI was almost rear-ended once at this same exit. This morning someone used the HOVlane to pass me getting off the Brookwood ramp because I slowed down for the sharp curve. For cryin' out loud, guys, slow down already.
» Sunday, July 06, 2008One Technological Goodie
The manual to the DVD recorder says that it plays DivX and .avi files. I couldn't believe it, but put on a series I only have in .avi episodes. Good God! It does work! Now I don't have to watch them on the computer.
Just groceries in the morning, nothing special: but when we left the house, the sky was greying ominously and it was thundering by the time we exited Kroger and raining by the time we got to BJs. It was "Georgia Monsoon Season" by the time we were walking the store and we got drenched as we loaded the car. Man, was that rain cold!
We put everything away and then just went out goofing off for a while: went to Borders, then to the mall to walk around. We also had to hit Radio Shack to get a new weather radio, since the summer tornado situation pretty much demands it, and visited the new, relocated Hallmark store. (They'll be busier next week, when the Ornament Premiere takes place.)
We're watching To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat Pig, one of a series of Rick Sebak documentaries that air on PBS that are produced by the ubiquitous WQED in Pittsburgh. This one is about farmer's markets around the country and includes the DeKalb Farmers Market here in Atlanta. Sebak does these delightful shows about different aspects of Americana: he's done hot dogs (A Hot Dog Program), ice cream (An Ice Cream Show), classic amusement parks (Great Old Amusement Parks), flea markets (A Flea Market Documentary), the beach (Shore Things), sandwich shops (Sandwiches That You Will Like), unusual structures (A Program About Unusual Buildings & Other Roadside Stuff), and even final resting places (A Cemetery Special), plus a bunch of documentaries about Pittsburgh that PBS doesn't show, but I would love to see. Great stuff. I would have recorded the other ones that aired today (I have the ice cream, hot dog and amusement park ones on videotape courtesy of Big Lots), but the DVD recorder isn't set up properly and isn't getting a feed from the satellite box.
One thing I noticed today is that WBPA Atlanta on broadcast is in digital and widescreen, while the feed on Dish Network isn't. Get with the program, fellas...
» Saturday, July 05, 2008After the Social Whirl
After yesterday's fun we played it quietly today. There was the Farmer's Market trip, then an "exciting" trip to Goodwill to donate the old microwave and the pendant lamp we replaced in the dining room. Then the usual visit to the hobby shop, a stop at Trader Joe's for more chicken salad, a visit to Borders (where I bought a copy of Rhys Bowen's new series starting with Her Royal Spyness and James found the soundtrack to John Adams), and finally Michaels for a new flagpole.
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing with a pizza and the middle three episodes of John Adams. The recreations of the fashions of the French court in those days were quite startling, even if you have read about them. The people looked like marionettes! Still mesmerized by the performances and writing, and the detailsinteresting how they are even aging people's teeth!
Fresh to Order
They did have the Farmer's Market this morning despite all the celebration on the Square last night. We got two large, luscious-smelling tomatoes, four ears of corn (two white, two yellow), two cucumbers, and a red pepper, plus another baguette, and James had a homemade ham and cheese croissant for breakfast.
The baguettes come from a bakery that is down on Atlanta Road, so we decided to go looking for it. It's in the long, low concrete building that used to be a catering company, and is next door to a German deli named "Weinerz" which was rated as a best new food store in Atlanta. We bought salami, mild Italian sausage, some Polish brats, and "chicken cheese weiners with bacon," and then walked next door to the bakery and bought a treat for dessert, a chocolate croissant we will share.
We've left the chicken/cheddar weiners in the fridge for supper tomorrow night, which we will grill with two of the ears of corn according to a recipe in Cooks Illustrated.
» Friday, July 04, 2008Ticking Down the Fourth
We're sitting watching the repeat broadcast of a A Capitol Fourth: fireworks over the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian, and Marines playing over at what looks like Arlington. We're trying to figure out where everything is taking place.
We had a great time talking and sharing our grill goodies, chips, fruit, and chocolate, and later on watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Poor Jessie wasn't feeling well, though, and spent about an hour curled up on the futon in the spare room. There were steak, brat, burger and chicken leftovers which Willow gobbled without a qualm and begged for more; for dessert she got to lick out the strawberry bowls. Schuyler let out an occasional scold, but she's not a social critter like Bandit or Pidgie were.
The party broke up about quarter to ten, just about the time the neighbors down the street started shooting off fireworks. They must have gone to Alabama or South Carolina, since they had Roman candles and other things not sold here. So as everyone drove off, James figured we should shoot off our small collection of Georgia-approved fireworks, and so we did, out on the driveway with me holding the hose, and the thunder of the finale of the fireworks on the Square providing background noise. Our fireworks were small, but colorful, with some crackers in the midst. In the middle of them I ran back upstairs, put CBS on, then hit pause on the DVR, so that after we finished setting them all off, we could come back in and watch the Boston Pops fireworks. Sheesh. They didn't even broadcast them in HD! But it was a great show, with a knockout finale. One set was completely blue and purple, another had fireworks that looked like waterfalls. During one of the sets the music sounded really familiar, because it was the theme song to John Adams. CBS is still showing too many crowd shots, and they move the camera too much. This isn't "shaky-cam theatre," guys. It's fireworks. Point the camera and leave it there. Gawd, I miss WCVB/A&E's old broadcast.
When that was over we cleaned up a bit, then I thought to check the schedule and that's how we ended up seeing the end of A Capitol Fourth.
[And now it's 12:15 and we're watching 3-2-1 Fireworks, a documentary about how the DC fireworks are manufactured and set up.]
Happy Independence Day!
"Stand by, we've done cleaning..."
LOL. We're ready for company, the steaks are thawing, and in a little over two hours our guests will be arriving for a cookout.
Our holiday actually started Wednesday, when James was supposed to pick up eight pounds of strawberries for our dessert. We had seen them at Costco on Sunday, but did not want to buy right away, not sure they would last the week. Of course, this is the night James gets a late call. At 7:30 he is still at work with no idea when he will get off the phone and Costco closes at 8:30. So I went myself.
The plan, however, temporarily backfired, when I discovered the strawberries were gone and hadn't been restocked. I did get gasoline there, though. And the International Farmers Market on Spring Road did have strawberries (the same brand that was at Costco, incidentally, "Sesame Street"our strawberries have Big Bird on the box!).
Which explained why we were hulling and fixing strawberries at 10:45 on Wednesday night, because earlier we were watching the two episodes of The Baby Borrowers I had recorded. I don't ordinarily watch reality shows, but this one isn't a contest and looked like fun. Five pairs of teenagers who claim (or at least the young ladies claim) to love babies and who think they would make good parents are given homes to live in and in turn have to take care of babies, toddlers, small children, teenagers, and the elderly. The first two episodes chronicled how the project began and what will be entailed and at the end the babies arrive, and the second episode is more about caring for the babies.
I know these are older teenagers, but it's clear that a couple of the girls haven't done more than a lick of work before. I was especially upset when one girl, after being reprimanded by the child's mother (the parents are watching via closed-circuit TV and there is a professional nanny watching each couple, but they don't jump in unless the child's life is in danger), refused to interact with the baby any longer and actually went to work (a job provided by the program) to get away from the child. One young woman from Dunwoody, GA, started out badly, but then got the hang of it; another stuck her boyfriend with all the caretaking chores and asked him to go to work, too. Another young woman, whose boyfriend had volunteered for the show simply to show her that they shouldn't have children immediately, seemed a bit perturbed that the baby took to the boyfriend, not to her!
Next week, the toddlers!
Yesterday was a regular workday, but during lunch I ran to Hobby Lobby to see if there were any other Independence Day tchotches that I wanted, but I only got the little apple candy dish (with a red-white-and-blue apple body) and a square dish painted as a flag. Also stopped at Lowes for more suet for the birdies, and Borders.
After work was over, finished vacuuming, tidying up, swept and washed the floor of the foyer, finished the laundry. After supper we finished the kitchen. It sounds like the house is an absolute wreck, but it's just the usual thing, just stuff that's been allowed to stay here and there since we were away, and then James had his show last weekend. Things need to be put in their places, top surfaces mopped up, dust whisked away.
This morning we did the last of the tidying, got out the paper products and washed the last of the dishes, and then got to do something more pleasant, set up the new DVD recorder. This went well, although the channel setup seemed to take forever. We tried out a disk or two and the upconvert does seem to help The Rocketeer a little. Unfortunately the transfer is dreadful off the bat.
On the other hand, the combination shows off 1776 to great effect...movie quality. (In fact, I've been to movie theatres that didn't have a picture this good.)
Still have to figure out the VCR and all that other stuff, but it'll come in time.
» Wednesday, July 02, 2008Blast from the Past
RTN shows Love, American Style every weekday. Today they are showing "Love and the Old-Fashioned Dad," the pilot to the animated syndicated series Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. Hanna-Barbera animation, but in a more limited style than the series; looks more like storyboards with no backgrounds. Wild.
» Tuesday, July 01, 2008Ooooh! Quick Turnaround!
James dropped disk one of John Adams into the mailbox where he works. They already have it, have sent out disk two and it is supposed to be here tomorrow!
...just watch YouTube!
Here's an exercise in nostalgia, one of those marvelously silly and corny old Bob Hope Chrysler Theater specials, "Murder at NBC," with all the cameo guest stars, including Don Adams playing Maxwell Smart, and wonderful Wally Cox. Remember seeing this the first time it was broadcast (1967? Rowan and Martin are in it, so it would have been after Laugh-In began):
As I recall, this was followed by a Western spoof in a similar vein, "Shootout at NBC," with all the Western stars: James Drury, Doug McClure, etc.
Oh, Good Grief...
Is Kevin Sullivan mucking up Anne of Green Gables again?
Anne of Green Gables ~ A New Beginning
The little girl they have to play young Anne looks sweet, but the rest...bad enough Sullivan screwed up the third film when the first was so marvelous and the second, while having mixed three of the books, was still true to the spirit of Montgomery's Anne. It take it Gilbert is dead? And the only children they ever had was the boy they adopted in the third movie? Good God...