Yet Another Journal

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

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

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» Sunday, November 30, 2008
Sunday Dark and Light
It was still grey and gloomy as Sunday dawned. After a leisurely breakfast, we took a quick trip to Kroger for my sandwich bread and bananas for the work week. $50 later... (LOL. We had coupons and they had paper towels on sale.)

When we got home we began the Christmas decorating! I placed the candles in all the windows and set up the timers (they're all on timers so I don't have to worry about them), and replaced all the autumn wreaths and swags on the doors with Christmas wreaths, and placed the garland—and the mistletoe (heh)—over the archway to the rooms and over the door to the deck (and put the bird garland on the deck door).

When I finished this, I decorated the lights yet, just the little tree with the blue lights, and the Santas in the big rockers. The garlands are badly faded by the strong sun that hits our porch in the afternoon. If I can find more blue garland somewhere I need to replace it. I also put out the little reindeer and candy cane and welcome bell stakes in the beds, and the plastic candy canes on the railing. Sadly, the latter are looking a bit worn. I also put up the Old-World Santa banner, the wreath on the front door, and the mailbox cover with the Christmas birds.

James also assembled the stool I bought, which is perfect for the little woodland tree and rustic Santa figure, and tested the little pre-lit silver tree he bought to showcase his Hallmark airplanes. The "needles" are holographic and the white lights will highlight the little planes perfectly. By the time we finished, it was 3:30 and we decided to go to Borders and have a treat: we had a BOGO beverage coupon for the cafè. When I was hanging the wreath on the front door, I noticed the sun had come out, and what a difference from the morning when we emerged from the garage! The clouds were scudding away and the sky was a brilliant blue.

I felt quite good as we reached the shopping center and went darting into Pier One looking at some beautiful glowing red lacquered trays before we went into Borders and settled down at one of the tables to drink our Cocoa Trios. They weren't scalding the way hot chocolate is usually served and I felt like we were a couple of kids at the malt shop sipping down our drinks.

Evidently my stomach has not settled down yet from Thanksgiving Day. Even the richness of the coca upset it, despite having eaten my oatmeal fine this morning and having taken my Prilosec. I came home with a sour taste in my throat and very hungry since I hadn't really had any lunch. James thawed the rest of our homemade turkey soup and we had it with elbow macaroni; a very mild dinner that just added to the sour taste. I had to swallow a couple of Gas-X tablets to get the bubbles to go away. It took until ten o'clock for it to fade.

In the meantime we watched several episodes of What's My Line?, including one in which Bennett Cerf acted as the moderator. One of the guests on that episode was Henry J. Kaiser. I piped up, "Hey, my dad had one of your cars!" And we belong to his HMO. :-)

Ended the evening and began the Christmas media season with our two favorite British stories, the "Silly, But It's Fun" episode of The Good Life (wherein Margo sends back the Ledbetters' entire Christmas provisioning since the tree is six and three quarters inches too short) and the All Creatures Great and Small story "Merry Gentlemen." I always marvel at the writers for this series. None of the stories that comprise "Merry Gentlemen" were originally Christmas stories in the Herriot books, yet they have become a seamless whole in the episode. I love this episode: it's like going home and being enfolded in warm arms. I especially love the cleaned-up dining room—the wallpaper and the wall sconces and the C6 lights on the Christmas tree and Helen standing in the dark with just the light of the tree on her face all remind me of my Papá's house at Christmastime.

And I love the churchbells at the end. I never hear churchbells any longer. If you do hear them, they are the tinny artificiality of automatic carillons. All sorts of noises out there these days, thumping cars and loudspeakers at car dealerships, and no room for the happy call of churchbells...

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» Saturday, November 29, 2008
Rainy Days and Saturdays
Which described today perfectly: it was grey and misty and as the hours progressed the mist lowered until even the shorter buildings lost their upper stories. By the time we got home, it was foggy and damper than ever.

In the hours we were out, we were pretty busy. First we attended to business and got James' truck inspected. From there we headed toward Books-a-Million via Dallas Highway, so we stopped at the Avenue at West Cobb and strolled about the Linens'n'Things. I'm a regular shopper at Linens, if not a profligate spender there, and I'm sorry to see it go. James got some new cookware and I bought some snowflake towels for the bathroom for Christmas. I also bought James a new John Scalzi book using my Barnes & Noble coupon.

From there we went to Books-a-Million. Bought a couple of magazines and a Jan Brett book on remainder (I love her beautiful illustrations!). We also stopped at Michaels, where I was lucky to find a pinking shears for a reasonable amount of money (thank you, coupon!). We nipped next door to PetSmart to see what dogs they had for adoption. There was a dog Willow's size there, almost all brown, and his tag said he was a Pomeranian-mix, too! He didn't have all the fuzz, though.

We stopped at the hobby shop for a while, then were feeling peckish after an early breakfast and no lunch. If you eat at Longhorn before four o'clock any day but Sunday, it's still the lunch menu and prices, so we did that for supper. After that we stopped for gas and for milk and things at Costco. James appeared behind me with a big rectangle and said "Happy anniversary!" Oooh! It's twelve new episodes of Rick Steves' Europe on DVD, along with a book called Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler! Yummy!

We made one more stop, Hobby Lobby, before coming home. Since it was a holiday weekend, we celebrated by watching...movies! I had Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull waiting for tonight.

Well, that was...underwhelming. After all the bad press I said I'd pass judgment when I saw it myself. It wasn't...terrible. It was just...silly. Shia LaBouef (whatever) was surprisingly good and it was nice to see Karen Allen again, but frankly, she acted half the time like she was stoned. Everything was "light." There was a joke in everything. The other films were drama with bits of comedy. This was a comedy with action parts and special effects. Frankly, I'm glad I only sprang for the one disk version.

I put Kit Kittredge on afterwards and enjoyed that much better. It made no claim to be anything but a nice family film and it was.

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» Friday, November 28, 2008
Golden Thanksgivings and Black Fridays... Holiday Harbour.

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» Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Schuyler's Roost...uh...Autumn Hollow. LOL.

This morning I was about my annual Thanksgiving tradition: trying to find a newspaper. Food Depot—no. Publix wasn't open and there were no vending boxes in front. Little gas station at Pat Mell and Olive springs—no. So I went to QT.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has got wise. Always this daily paper was the same price as the other dailies: 75¢. Today the big fat Thanksgiving paper was $2 like the Sunday paper.

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» Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Oh...Under The Heading of "You've Got to Be Kidding..."
When I was in Big Lots today, there was one of those pompous store announcements, this one that the store would be open on Thanksgiving Day (gosh, I'm sure the employees are giving thanks for that!—not!).

The speaker continued talking about having a big meal and getting together with relatives and friends and then all going to Big Lots and getting some great bargains, concluding with (I kid you not), "That's what Thanksgiving is all about!"

Needless to say, I was a bit...stunned? appalled? incredulous? Yeeesh.



One Treasure Left
We had potlucks for supper, saving up for the goodies tomorrow. :-) After Jeopardy I put on a couple of DVDs: History Channel's Home for the Holiday: The History of Thanksgiving and Travel Channel's New England Thanksgiving. I'm a bit puzzled as I thought I had a Thanksgiving special with Al Roker.

I finished up with my favorite: The Thanksgiving Treasure, the second of the four Addie Mills specials. This sequel is almost as good as the original, with Addie befriending a sour old man who is feuding with her father. As in the original, it's all the little touches which make this extra special: Addie and her best friend bicycling out to the country to pick cattails for a harvest bouquet and telling each other corny riddles, the 1940s classroom lined with tempera paint Thanksgiving pictures and the typical Thanksgiving mural in the back of the room, the cute little radio program the schoolkids are rehearsing for the Thanksgiving assembly, Addie having to negotiate with her nosey little cousin, the windswept and November-bleak Canadian prairie that stands in for the windswept and November-bleak Nebraska prairie. Add to that Lisa Lucas as Addie with her heart in her eyes, Barnard Hughes as the misanthrope who thaws ever-so-slowly, and Jason Robards as the puzzled, gruff father...what you have is a classic. Deserves a DVD release of its own.

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Giving Thanks Early
Didn't intend to go out today, but I had to vote in the runoff election. Was at the Austell government office about an hour. Everyone in line was pleasant, and I whiled away the time reading Crusader Nation, which I'm enjoying very much. Since I was in that direction anyway, when I was done I visited the Dollar General and the Big Lots on Austell Road. Found some thermal socks for James and bought Willow a treat: a small box of fortune cookies. Willow loves fortune cookies, or anything that crunches. No luck with the table, though.

I wasn't intending to go into any grocery stores today, but I had a few cans of soup I can't eat anymore because of the acid reflux and I thought I would put them in the Can Bank box at Kroger. Well, when I got there the store wasn't that crowded, so I got a cart and walked round and bought some canned goods, baking mixes, a pack of tuna, other little things, and then left it all in the Can Bank box. I really want to do this a few more times before Christmas.

And I still wish they had a Can Bank collection box in the store all year round.



» Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Linda and the Blustery Day
I was awakened by Willow barking and James saying "You'd better get up; Scott is here."

Sadly, it wasn't Scott Sherwood. LOL. Scott is our exterminator. You see, when it got so cold last week, I walked into the kitchen and found a roach on top of the stove waving its little antennae at me. Smush! Telephone call! I was really freaked out because I hadn't seen a roach in the house for over a year, and here we have a Christmas party coming up soon. Yeah, I know they're probably coming in (a) because it's cold and (b) because we're still in drought conditions, but it doesn't mean I don't want to do anything about it. So Scott spritzed behind the refrigerator and the stove, and sprayed in the garage and near the water heater and on the deck.

Well, I don't know what he put in that spray, but about three hours later (after I watched Nature and gave up on Today...LOL) I went into the kitchen and found a palmetto bug upended on the floor in front of the stove, waving his legs. Smush again!

Got the laundry finished and the bed made and cleaned the bathroom downstairs, but felt I needed a little more exercise than that. So I went out to Hobby Lobby. I got a kick out of the sign that said "Fall items, 90 percent off." The fall items left were on a cart. Can you say "Cleaned out"?

I was still looking for a small table for downstairs. I know what I'm looking for but I haven't seen one yet; what they call a telephone table. I have seen them, but they are built deeper than I want. I may go back to get the cute red one I saw at Ikea, but I won't put it at the foot of the stairs where I need a smaller table. Hobby Lobby has furniture, but nothing suited, and I even looked at plant stands at Lowes, where I went to pick up another bag of safflower seed, but they were too rickety.

On the way home I stopped at WalMart, since I definitely don't want to go there tomorrow or over the weekend! We needed the low-carb tortillas, and I picked up a few other groceries, as well as a folding tray that I can use for the table in a pinch. It's a nice dark color and with the cloth over it, James thought it was a table. Since it's a tray, it will be useful after Christmas as well.

Before I drove into back the garage, I swept it out. This is not the best thing to do when the wind is gusting up to 20 mph! I started chivying the dead leaves and scattered bits of paper toward the doors, only to have the wind blow it back. I finally closed the doors until I was ready to gather up the papers and toss them, then swept the rest of the stray dirt and leaves back outside where it belonged. The wind had been rattling and banging things outside since last night, when the cold front swept the last of yesterday's rain away, but it gradually died down over the afternoon.

Then vacuumed, brought the laundry up, cleaned the stairs and swept the foyer...golly, where did the time go?

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Oh, Please, Guys
Joyce Scardina was on Today after the "affordable sweater" thing (she's the gravelly-voiced lady from Sea World who also appears on the Tonight Show occasionally), with "wildlife the first European settlers were familiar with": a pileated woodpecker, a beaver, a horseshoe crab, and a wild turkey (what beautiful iridescent feathers on his back!). Geez, can "Hoda" (who the heck is "Hoda," anyway?) and Kathie Lee act more "girly"? I know from reading that beavers have a rather noticeable scent, but do they have to keep going on and on about it? They duck when the woodpecker flies and don't want to pet the turkey (he's a bird, already; they're soft!). Get a grip, girls! You sound like a pair of second-grade girls faced with a boy and a frog.

(After this was over, we were treated to the hosts of Atlanta & Company talking about the series The Real Housewives of Atlanta...aieeee....let me change the channel...never mind rotting my brain; this is going to rot Schuyler's brain...)



I've just finished watching a Nature I had on DVR and Today was still on "real" TV. Came up in the middle of "Today's Style" and they were talking about "affordable sweaters" for these "tough economic times." The first sweater that was modeled was $200! The second was "only" $75, but, to provide the right "look," was paired with an embroidered tank overshirt that was about $250. The other sweater was $99...this is "affordable"???? Holy cats!



Howl From the Past
I recorded Nature last night; it was an offering called "The Wolf That Changed America." The story was a familiar one which I had read years ago, in a Whitman edition of Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton, but the special set it into a context I had not known.

Seton was born in Canada and grew up considering wolves as vermin, as most people in the 1800s did. In 1893, he traveled to New Mexico to try to claim the amazing bounty of $1000 for a super-intelligent wolf the ranchers called Lobo, who led a pack that was decimating the growing herds of cattle and flocks of sheep increasing in the countryside as the wilderness became domesticated. Seton considered himself a wolf expert (he'd written what was considered the manual of wolf eradication) and was astonished when Lobo outsmarted him again and again.

Then Lobo found a mate, a white wolf called Blanca. Seton cleverly trapped Blanca and then used her as bait to catch Lobo, who missed her so much he became careless. Seton found Lobo next morning, the wolf who had evaded traps, poison bait, and all sorts of pursuit, caught with a trap on each leg.

But Seton found he couldn't kill Lobo and brought him back a captive to his camp, where the wolf died, "of a broken heart" as Seton stated. From then on his attitude toward wolves changed: he never killed another and championed the cause of all wildlife, national parks, and the visiting of nature (and leaving it as it was!—he was one of the founders of the Boy Scouts).

I always found the story of Lobo powerful and sad. Even as a child I understood the ranchers' impulse to protect their livestock, but wondered if the extermination was necessary. Discovering that the story had been a turning point, not only for Seton, but for all naturalists, brought the tragic tale I read when I was nine or ten to a better ending.

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» Monday, November 24, 2008
"Yo-Ho, Dick! Ho, Ebenezer!"
Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room, as you would desire to see upon a winter's night.
I've felt like Dick Wilkins and Ebenezer Scrooge, 'prentices to Mr. Fezziwig, cleaning up for the Christmas dance! The towels are done, the clothing is drying, I've hung the Ken Jenkins print as well as the framed WWI/WWII patriotic postcards we bought at the Tennessee Aviation Museum, the downstairs hall is swept and some Christmas/winter things sorted with their respective boxes, moved the long table with the woodland tree/Santa on it since 'twill have to do, cleaned the last of the spilled Frosty off the garage door, and tossed some things away. It's high time for a belated lunch, but not sure what I want.

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No Time to Waste
Will be using up some of my use or lose this week. No lolling in front of the idiot box for me! I did sleep late (9 a.m.). Scooted around the channels and discovered that Dish's holiday music channel is finally on. Nice selection so far. Been putting together my holiday letter to go with my Christmas cards. While I was doing that I've washed the towels and now started the other full basket. I think dirty clothes breed in that darn basket—I just washed clothes Wednesday and there's only two of us.

The only thing we bought at Ikea yesterday was one of those fold-up racks to dry clothes on. I don't dry our regular clothing all the way because James always complained with the other dryer that his shirts came out badly. Usually I toss the still damp clothes on the bed; since the window's always open in the bedroom except when the A/C is on, they dry by nightfall. I'm tired of doing that. I set the rack up in the laundry room and we'll see how they do in there. If not, I will set it up in the master bath, in the tub.

Eating some yogurt and planning to go hang the Ken Jenkins pic we bought in Gatlinburg. It's cold and damp, so I won't get overheated lugging in the ladder and doing all that up and down with the level and a marking pencil.

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A Miracle!
Ah, another sign of Christmas a'coming: that WalMart commercial where all the cashier lights start to play "Carol of the Bells" and blink in time with the music. I'd sure like to see that someday!

No, no! not lights blinking to music—that many checkout counters at WalMart being open at one time!



» Sunday, November 23, 2008
Behind Alistair Cooke
Did anyone catch this on Masterpiece Theatre: The Unseen Alistair Cooke? It was fabulous. After Alistair Cooke passed away in 2004, they found dozens of 8mm films he took of his travels in the 1930s, and many of these are shown on the program, a fascinating glimpse of America in the 1930s. I could have just watched the films all night, but I adored all of it.

Here's a review of The Unseen Alistair Cooke.

I wish I'd thought to DVR this. I can catch the repeat on WPBA, but Dish doesn't carry PBA's digital signal, so I'll get a badly framed fullscreen version instead. Bleah.



Surprises on Sunday
I joined Facebook on Friday.

I mention this only because it brought me an unexpected surprise: contact with my cousin Debbie. Debbie had sent us an anniversary card and I noticed the return address was different. I said, "I need to save this envelope." Whatever happened, the envelope didn't get saved. Well, last year I had found something special I had wanted to send to Debbie before Thanksgiving. I was going to send it to her old address until I saw the new address—and thought, "What if they don't forward it?" So I quickly asked Debbie what her new address was and had a response last night, so I could slip the gift, already wrapped, into a mailing envelope. So the first place we went to was the downtown post office.

Surprise! The parking lot in front of the post office was...gone. It had been dug up with bobcats and was roped off. We just parked at the side and walked to the front door to use the automatic machine, but it was funny watching people drive up and stop dead at the driveway entrance. You could almost see the "What the h---...?" thought balloon over their heads!

From the post awful we went to our original destination for the day, Ikea. We hadn't been there in a dog's age and I was looking for a certain small piece of furniture. I wanted something to put my woodland tree and Santa on that was a little higher than the shelf I've been storing it on for now. I found something, too—a stool! After Christmas it could do dual duty as a seat.

Except...surprise! they were all out of them. Bother. I saw a couple of alternatives, but I really didn't want to buy a table, although there was a rather cute red one.

Anyway, we ate lunch there as well. I had my appetite all set for chicken marsala, but they didn't have any today. Instead for the chicken dish they had a "Sunday dinner," a baked chicken quarter, stuffing, and sweet potato soufflè. Surprise again! Actually, it was quite good, especially the sweet potato, which didn't taste as if someone had dumped the contents of the sugar bowl in it.

When we left Ikea it had clouded over quite a lot. We were heading for the Kroger on Whitlock Road since we needed gasoline along with the fixings for corn casserole, which is one of the things we are bringing with us to the Butlers for Thanksgiving dinner. We went through the south loop past Southern Polytechnic, the Cobb County Civic Center, and innumerable other businesses, approaching downtown Marietta, and there, at the right side of the road not three-quarters-of-a-mile from downtown, we were flabbergasted to see three wild turkeys pecking around on the grass verge at the side of the road! One of those times I wished I was lightning fast and could have whipped out my phone in a millisecond.

We bought the ingredients of the feast, not to mention more wild bird seed, and then stopped at Lowes for safflower seeds. We arrived home to find another rude surprise: apparently they were having a block party at the trailer park behind us and had a DJ. It sounded like a frappin' rock concert out there he was so loud.

Since we had "Sunday dinner" at noon, we partook of "potlucks" for supper. Watched the last part of the third Adams Chronicles disk, with John Quincy Adams as Congressman following his tenure as president. It was at this point he defended the African-American captives aboard the "Amistad." William Daniels, who was John Adams in 1776, plays the older John Quincy Adams in The Adams Chronicles. He made the story very lively, even in the long scene where he was filibustering Congress.

I decided to put some of the Thanksgiving specials on that I had recorded after this, so we have watched Thanksgiving Unwrapped and The Secret Life of Thanksgiving. Of course sometime this week I will watch the Addie Mills story, The Thanksgiving Treasure!

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» Saturday, November 22, 2008
Simple Gifts... Holiday Harbour.

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Life Happens When You Have Other Plans
We ran to Kroger this morning for yogurt and other useful things, then James thought he would have time to run the truck to Carnett's to get an oil change and get the car inspected before he had to go to his monthly club meeting. I'm getting the paycheck that I will be devoting to the car registrations next Friday, and his truck has to have its emission inspection before I can renew.

If you get the emissions inspection, a car wash is free. He had the wash, and then they took the truck to the bay for the rest. We had barely settled when the technician called James. They had tried to start the truck to do the inspection and it wouldn't start. This was baffling because it started fine in the garage and at Kroger. But there it was clicking and not turning over. Anyway, the guy jumped us off and he did change the oil, but he didn't want to do the emissions inspection with the engine cool.

Well, if the battery was dead or about to go dead, it would make getting around over the weekend a problem, and definitely for going to work on Monday! So he was planning to drop me off and find somewhere to replace the battery. Now the place we usually go to is closed on Saturday, and the only other place I could think of would be the Sears Auto Center. In short: ugh. Then I remembered we would be passing by Merlin's. We used to go there quite a bit in the past—I remember the day I needed something done to the car, but the exterminator was coming to the house and the critters needed to be out of it, so I turned up there with Leia and Bandit and they didn't mind a bit—but I didn't know if they did batteries, so we stopped to ask.

They did indeed, and while we were there James also asked them to replace his left rear tire, on which the tread was wearing very thin.

So we got that all taken care of and James was only ten minutes late to his meeting.

Ironically, we never did get the truck inspected, since Merlin's doesn't do that.

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Where Were You?...
November 22, 1963

45 years, and sometimes it feels like yesterday.



» Friday, November 21, 2008
Places You Should Eat
(with apologies to Rick Sebak!)

I've recommended this before, but if you live anywhere near a Fresh 2 Order, you really must try it. I have not had a bad meal in this place. Tonight they were out of my favorite, the pork roast, and I had the bourbon beef instead, with wheat-berries. The beef also comes with mixed greens. Usually they are grilled with the beef, but someone forgot tonight, so we just had nice greens with a balsamic dressing. We were both pretty hungry so James had a full bowl of chicken tortilla soup (he says it's wonderful, but I don't do spicy) and I had a half bowl of their creamy chicken vegetable, which was smashing. James has also had both of their chicken dishes and pronounced them delicious.

The same could not be said for Costco, but we did go in there twenty minutes before closing! No samples for us! The wind is keen tonight on top of the cold—I took Wil out for a short walk when I finished work and had to keep sticking my nose in my scarf; I actually wore my coat—so we were glad of a close parking place. We mostly bought milk and other staples, but we stopped long enough to drool at the laptop station. They had two netbooks there, an Acer and an HP. The Asus was smaller and resembled James' EEPC, complete with the tiny keyboard, but was only $350; the HP was marginally larger and had a standard-size keyboard, but was $500. Both were under three pounds and came with wireless built in. Too cute!

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An Icicle in the Works
Holy cats, it's cold outside! It's 35°F and dropping like a rock...with the wind chill it's already under freezing. After I got done with my work, I took Willow out, and then for a short walk. Once I got in, the blood rushed to all my extremities and now I'm roasting! I'm glad I refilled the bird feeder all the way this morning (instead of three quarters so the "tree rats" wouldn't get at the seed), so the little guys could stock up before evening. The female downy woodpecker was hanging on the suet just before sundown and she was so fluffed up she looked like a woodpecker toy.

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» Thursday, November 20, 2008
Promoting Myself
As of Sunday I am officially a GS-08 Purchasing Agent (rather than a GS-07). (Happy St. Clement's Day to me! It's also "stir-up Sunday," the one before the first Sunday of Advent.)

This is ironic because I am presently struggling with two problems that should be really easy and have turned into a bit of a headache.

I'll use the extra money to buy more birdseed. :-) My, those guys are hungry!

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Bet He Doesn't Come With Violin Music
If you've been watching television for the past few weeks, even cable channels, you may be aware that a new CGI movie from Disney called Bolt was being released today. This is a story of a dog who appears in a television series and who has been led to believe that his superpowers are real. His co-star is also his owner, a little girl. When he is accidentally lost, he has to make his way home, helped by a stray cat and what looks like a really paranoid hamster.

This morning Gene Shalit reviewed the film on TODAY (he liked it), and they happened to show a clip about how Bolt is lost. It looks like he is playing [he's not; he thinks the little girl is in danger], leaps into a box, and is accidentally locked in a van and taken away! Except for his being taped into the box...I burst out laughing and exclaimed, "OMG! It's 'Lassie's Odyssey'!!!!!!"

Wonder if someone at Disney is a fan??? LOL.

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» Wednesday, November 19, 2008
A chilly, chilly morning. Even the birds kept away from the feeder until the sun was a little higher. We had a new total on brown-headed nuthatches today: six!

I worked today to the spicy odor of a café au lait candle. For someone who used to eschew candles, I'm sure losing them a lot. It's the Christmas scents and the coffee. :-) And I still don't trust the things: I light them and leave them on the stove.

But I do wish someone made a decent peppermint candle. I sniffed a so-called "peppermint" candle last year. Ugh. Nauseating.

At lunch Willow and I took a walk. From the weather report, I thought it was very cold and bundled up in jacket, hat, and scarf. Cold, fiddlesticks. It was nearly 50; I had to unzip the jacket, toss the scarf over my shoulder, and stick my hat in my pocket.

After work I finished decorating the house for Thanksgiving—turkeys and Pilgrims in every corner, and pumpkins scattered about liberally. I also designed a nice Christmas wallpaper for my computer with some scans from the Tasha Tudor Christmas book Take Joy!. I used one of the pictures—children around a Christmas tree—and blended it with the wreath on the title page to make it look as if the picture is framed in greens.

Still haven't found an image I like for Thanksgiving, though.

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» Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"John Glenn Winked at Me!"
I had the news on and it said that for a few minutes tonight it would be possible to see the International Space Station orbiting with the naked eye. You looked to the west at about 6:54 p.m. and found Venus and Jupiter, who are on a diagonal line from each other, and the space station would come up from below and then climb. Well, our front porch faces west, so I bundled up and went outside.

There were a bunch of lights out there, however; it appeared that tonight's landing pattern to Hartsfield-Jackson has the airplanes routed from north to south, crossing between the two stars. But they were moving right to left and my surprise I saw a bright dot come out of the trees and climb upward just to the "left" of Venus. It didn't blink, just rose in the sky until it reached the zenith over the roof of the house and vanished.

So I think I saw it. Majorly cool!

(The title quote is from Space Camp. Trust me, I was just as thrilled as young Andee! <g>)



How You Know You're Getting Old
You gasp with pleasure walking through a drugstore aisle because they have your medication on sale for $1.50 less than the least expensive place you buy it! (And then you grab two boxes...)

(Wasn't this a "Pluggers" strip once? LOL.)


Continued Cold and Windy
I was thinking "A Visit from St. Nicholas" this morning—not because of the Christmas tree in the window at the corner of Old Concord and Powder Springs Street, but due to the line
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
since the gusting wind was scattering leaves across the streets before me in vast herds, a blustery Lassie chivvying botanical sheep. According to, the temp stood at 32°F (22 with the wind chill factor), although the car's external thermometer stated 34. I still wore my fleece jacket, albeit with a scarf and hat, not the coat. The heater in the car works fine, thanks, as does the one at work. (It's still 78 in here, despite the chill outside.*) Tomorrow morning's going to be the real freeze, predicted down to 29°F. Abandon ship! Abandon ship! Freeze warning!

Get a grip, weather guys and gals, okay?

* At least it's not as bad as senior year in high school. Seniors had homerooms on the fourth floor at Cranston East, and back then they were chronically overheated in winter while the rest of the school was either a normal temperature or freezing cold on the ground floor—many's the day the homeroom teacher had the windows open because the thermometer in the room stood at 92°F. Cross this with coming in out of a mile and a half walk in 25 degree weather in which you were clad in heavy coat, scarf, and hat with a heavy sweater and a vest over that, and you can see it's sauna time! :-)

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» Monday, November 17, 2008
Chill Factor
I started my Thanksgiving decorating when I got home from work, with the porch and the foyer. Not much to it as I just add to the fall decor. And it certainly feels like Thanksgiving—hoo-wee! It's 41, 35 with the wind chill factor. North Georgia's going to be in a deep freeze tonight.

Since a chill night calls for gingerbread (and since the house did have an overwhelming scent of the pork chops we had for supper), I tried out the Hallmark/Yankee Candle gingerbread candle. It is surprisingly sweeter when it burns, but not overly sugary. A sweet smell to read a Country Living by.

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A Nip in the Air
Sure, if you're a Canadian, 39°F is just the opening to a nice spring day.

In Georgia 39°F as a morning temp is greeted with dire warnings the previous evening from every weather report on every television station in the area. You might think the next ice age was on its way.

And it's supposed to be 29 tomorrow morning! I leave it for you to imagine the hue and cry this evening.

Me, while I had the heater on my feet, I still drove to work with my window half open.

Oh, I saw someone with their Christmas tree up, a white tree fronted by a star which changed color (for a minute I thought it was one of those old color wheels)! Good grief.

Only a barbituate-addicted sloth could move slower than my work computer this morning...I had a 386 with Win3.1 that used to go faster. Plus the internet connection is bouncing up and down like Magic Johnson manipulating a basketball. There are internet pages I need for backup in my folders before submitting them for signature and it's taken me 90 minutes to print about five pages. Gah.

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» Sunday, November 16, 2008
A Brrrr Under Our Saddle
The temperature continued to fall yesterday evening, so very chilly that it felt very natural when James went downstairs to work in his hobby room to put "Holly" on, and later the Christmas episode of All Creatures Great and Small while I was on chat—a long nice one lasting until almost 3 a.m.!

Well, one of the chat group went out stimulating the economy yesterday—we did it on a smaller scale today. We had to go by Kroger to pick up the few things I couldn't find at WallyWorld, and then we went to BJ's. At BJs I bought a new telephone/answering machine with two extensions (we jokingly call them "puppies"). We only needed one extension for James' room downstairs, but this one filled the bill. The phone we have now still works, but the main receiver's battery died and we are using the extension receiver upstairs instead. These phones are so old that they use special batteries made for the model; even if I could find one it would probably cost as much as a new set. Until we got a new one, I couldn't use the intercom to talk to James if he was working on his models. Worse, I use the phone for our weekly staff meeting since I am teleworking that day. If the meeting ran long enough to drain the battery, usually anything over 30 minutes, I could run downstairs and use the other receiver. But then the battery went dead in the main. I was embarrassed the last time we had a staff meeting and I had to warn them that if I got cut off it was because of the batteries in the phone. (There is also a phone in the bedroom, but you can't plug an earphone into it. I like to be able to take notes and look through my work for any problems I want to discuss with my supervisor during the meeting; hard to do one-handed.)

So the new phone has the answering machine feature and the intercom feature on the extensions. It's also wall-mountable, which the other wasn't and it runs on regular rechargeable Ni-CD triple-A batteries rather than expensive proprietary batteries. It doesn't have a headphone plug, but it does have a speakerphone, which means I can leave the headset in the holder during the meeting and no batteries will run down.

I also got the shower stall scrubbed out this morning, and then we replaced the vinyl strip at the bottom of the door, which keeps any possible water from leaking out of the shower. It has been torn and dangling for several months, but we just never got around to getting a tool to pry the end cap off and put the new strip on, and since water never leaked out from underneath we had no imperative to do the replacement.

The funny thing was that we could not buy this strip separately! It's something that is certain to wear out every couple of years or so, and you would think they would be a dime a dozen, but we had a hard time finding one. We finally had to get a generic "shower repair kit" at Lowes, which included not only the vinyl strip but screws and wall anchors to enable hanging of a new shower door.

These were our errands for the day, and we came home to refill the bird feeder, fixing the tension on the window shades in the bedroom, get ready for work tomorrow, read the Sunday paper, etc. We had potlucks for supper and, after the news, switched channels listlessly before settling on Airport. We figured the DVD would look better (it did), so we put that on instead.

I love Airport. It's not only an entertaining movie, but there are a lot of nice memories associated with it. It opened in 1970, at the Majestic Theatre in downtown Providence. The Majestic was one of the last of the grand old movie theatres left downtown—it started out life as a vaudeville house—and I especially liked it because almost all the Disney movies opened there. I had probably seen all my favorites there: Mary Poppins, Three Lives of Thomasina, The Moon Spinners, Big Red, Summer Magic, In Search of the Castaways... It had plush seats and a huge ladies' room that was downstairs and a big screen in front of which a big plush curtain still opened before the movie started (it still had a stage as well).

My dad had jury duty right about the time Airport opened. He worked as a polisher in Trifari, the jewelry manufacturer, so jury duty was a bit of a vacation for him. He was placed on the trial of a man who was accused of embezzling money from his company. One afternoon, the judge dismissed the jury early, so instead of coming directly home, he decided to go see Airport, since it had one of his favorite singers/actors in it, Dean Martin. He came home raving about it, and was especially tickled with the scene where the priest makes the sign of the cross and slaps the hysterical man who caused all the problems on the plane in the first place. (The bomb wouldn't have gone off had this man not interfered.) He said we had to go see it, and so Mom and I did, and we loved it, too (especially Helen Hayes!).

The Majestic closed soon after that—luckily it wasn't razed like the RKO Albee, but became the new playhouse for the Trinity Square Repertory Company; although they demolished the interior and the stage with its beautiful red curtain was gone forever, the beautiful exterior remained. Airport and all those Disney films always remind me of those fun days at the Majestic.

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» Saturday, November 15, 2008
It Goes Down, Down, Down...
When we rose the wind was rising as well. The warm front had lingered during the night, but during breakfast the trees began to toss and the leaves swirl about the deck. I opened the window and found the humid, heavy-smelling air gone and a decided nip in the air.

The clouds hung around for the rest of the day save for the occasional glimpse of brilliant blue sky and the temperature sank like that proverbial rock. It was in the mid-50s when we left the house and already in the 40s when we arrived home around four. We have a freeze warning tonight.

But the weather showed its intentions plainly just as we left the house: for just a second or two, I saw snowflakes swirled in the air above the porch, and then they vanished.

We just went "flitterin'" today, starting at the German butcher shop/bakery. Bought more pork schnizel and James decided to try some Swiss/bacon potato salad. We bought a baguette for supper and had a small treat apiece: James had a hazelnut cookie and I had a nut/baklava one that was not sugar-drenched. Oh, we were talking to the proprietor about the farmer's market in the square having ended so early, and he said they have talked the City of Marietta into extending it at least one more month next year. Cool!

We needed potatoes and raw cashews, and I wanted mixed nuts, so we made a short stop at Harry's Farmer's Market. To my surprise, there were no loose mixed nuts, just individual bags. And no raw cashews, which James uses in stir fry, either! Sheesh. We did sample a tiny "Thanksgiving dinner"—a bit of turkey, two kinds of stuffing, some cranberry sauce, and a sliver of pumpkin pie—as a demonstration of the type of food they can cater, and also a small taste of "grass-fed Angus tenderloin" (ohboy, I wish we could afford beef like that!). The guy doing the cooking should be working where he could get paid a lot better than Harry's will pay him, that's for sure!

Next was a visit to the hobby shop after dropping James' shirts off at the cleaners. I was reading the Christmas issue of "Bliss Victoria" (which I suppose qualifies as "Christmas porn"—lots of beautifully decorated rooms that would utterly overwhelm anyone besides a crowd of professional decorators or someone seriously dedicated to decorating for the holidays) and "Country Woman" (lots more down-to-earth).

We'd both eaten breakfast and had the little cookie at the bakery, but by now it was after three and we were both starving. But before taking care of that problem, we stopped for a few minutes at Book Nook. I found a copy of Father Goose—I'd seen the feature on 20/20 and the followup, "C'mon, Geese," but never read the book—and also a wonderfully nostalgic book called Stories to Live By. These are 1950s girls' stories from the old American Girl magazine (the original one, a Girl Scouts' magazine). A couple of stories were written by Betty Cavanna, who was a prominent girls' writer in the era and into the 1960s. Her heroines were always girlish in the style of those days, but they were also smart and saavy and didn't wait for boys to get them out of jams.

Anyway, we had been discussing only this morning needing only one or two more gifts for certain people. Well, what did my eye fall on but a book that one of these people would certainly get a kick out of! It was sans cover, but I don't think the giftee will mind.

We grabbed a quick, small burger at Wendys since it would be suppertime in such a short time, and then popped on the freeway for a few miles as the quickest route to Borders. I am assembling a gift for someone out of smaller parts and needed the finishing part from Borders. I also found the November British Country Living...yay!

Our last stop was at Michaels. By now the wind was downright raw, and we hurried in and out.

Since it was so nippy out, we decided to have one of our cached containers of homemade turkey soup for supper. This already had turkey meat in it, and we added a can of canned turkey and had it with elbow macaroni and a piece of the baguette to dip in the broth. As we ate, we were entertained by a collection of What's My Line? episodes that have been on the back burner of the DVR (so to speak).

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» Friday, November 14, 2008
What's a Joint Like This...
My own fault, too...I was warm and left the fan in the window Tuesday night. My neck was killing me for two days, made worse by sitting in front of the computer working. I took ibuprofin and Tylenol alternately and slogged through. I remember my mom going through this when the weather changed. Well, I wished it would change already. My sinuses hurt, my teeth hurt, the back of my neck hurt, my nose hurt....sheesh!

Not to mention the Sirius/XM merged schedule finally went through...nobody on either either side was really happy. Of my preset channels, I lost Fine Tuning, which was a dog's breakfast of a channel, but occasionally they played Celtic music and Take Five, one of the two women's channels, which was funny (I listened to it Hallowe'en day), to be replaced by the brainless clothes/shoes-obsessed denizens of "the Cosmo channel"; "Sonic Theater," the book channel is now called "Book Radio" (zzzzz) and is only on the air weekdays; Cinemagic is off the air until New Year's Day (for whatever reason they won't tell us); the Weather Channel station is gone. "Escape," thank God, survived, as did the 1940s channel, and "Holly" is back, although every time they say "Sirius XM" in the interstices between the songs it brings a cold icicle to my heart.

Yesterday the pain abated enough for me to do a bit of shopping. I had a couple of coupons at JoAnn, one of which netted me the new British "Cross Stitcher" which came with a little cards/fixings package almost worth the price of the magazine (and I got it at half price), and also various half price Christmas things. Also stopped in at Linens'n'Things; if they'd had this many customers earlier in the year they wouldn't be going out of business. Some of the bedding was 40 percent off, so there were people leaving with great carts of things.

I came home by the Walmart at Powder Springs Road, which didn't have half the things I wanted, so will need to go once again to the older one with the long lines. ::grouse:: I stopped briefly at BJs, which is where I found Dr. Syn. They only had one left, and when I got home, while I was watching it, I was surfing the Ultimate Disney message boards glad I had grabbed one. They only made 39,500 of the set and apparently online they are going like the proverbial hotcakes—several of the sites are already out of them.

I had "Holly" on all through the ride, which I enjoyed except for the singularly depressing experience of heading home on a damp rainy day listening to Faith Hill sing "Where Are You, Christmas?"...

I can't add much more to my emotional earlier post about Dr. Syn than to reiterate that it is indeed beautiful...nicely restored and in widescreen. I also watched the paltry extras on the first disc, which were Walt Disney's widescreen intros (why they didn't just stick them in the shows, I'll never know) and the sixteen minute featurette about the history of the Syn character and the Disney movie. Patrick McGoohan appeared only sparsely and I was very shocked when I saw him: oh, I didn't expect him to still look young, and he didn't look bad, like Don Adams did when he reached eighty, but goodness, I wouldn't have recognized him. Sean Connery still looked like himself as he got older, as did Charleton Heston, but McGoohan looked so different, with big black-rimmed glasses and a goatee, like Lester del Rey, the science fiction writer.

I kept tearing up during the old Wonderful World of Color titles, though...powerful memories there! Sunday nights after Lassie, sitting in front of the TV—not sure if we still had the big old console GE back then (looked a bit like this, with the rounded screen, the knob area, and the fabric padded speaker, but ours wasn't quite so shiny in the knob area—I just remember the knobs being brown Bakelite) or that nasty Magnavox portable we had afterwards. I was a couple of months past eight years old the first time this was broadcast, and the first episode aired on my mom's birthday.

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I'm Sorry, James, I Jumped the Gun
But there was only one left and I was worried...


It's widescreen, it's gorgeous...and they're complete Wonderful World of Color broadcasts!

Scarecrow forever!



» Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I Is Santa's Elf
Busy, busy, busy day.

My primary goal today was to get some packages ready for mailing. Usually I mail my Christmas packages around the fifth to the tenth of December. However, last year after Thanksgiving I lucked out and found several lovely Thanksgiving gifts I wanted to send to certain people this year, plus I created another one just lately. So I want to combine the two actions into one mailing. (Not to mention that anything that keeps me out of the post office in December is a definite plus! LOL)

This means I was wrapping Christmas gifts on Martinmas Day (at least I was within "Old Advent") and tucking other things in the boxes. Still have a couple of things to wrap. Sadly, one of the items is a very belated birthday gift from August, so don't think me all that efficient.

I was also working on some Christmas crafts today. I had bought two metal winter ornaments that I wanted to turn into Christmas magnets, which I did after cutting the metal hangers off by gluing small magnets on with super glue. I also made a wooden Christmas decoration for myself and two for one of the people receiving the packages mentioned above. Played Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" LP as I did so.

I also had an artsy project today. I designed a cover for the series of DVDs I bought James for our anniversary, and also captured the theme song and removed the voiceovers using Audacity so, if James can figure out how to transfer it to his cell phone, he can use it for a ringtone.

Not to mention I made the bed, cleaned up the living room some, cut out the coupons from Sunday's paper, sorted out the Christmas gifts I have stashed away and made notes on the couple of things we need to get, and made dinner.

I'm tired! :-)

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Here Comes St. Martin on His White Horse... Holiday Harbour.

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Veterans Day
Today in History: November 11

Even as late as the 1960s, my parents still called it "Armistice Day." But then Mom was born about eight months before the Armistice and Dad was about to turn four years old, so it had been "Armistice Day" from babyhood for them.

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» Monday, November 10, 2008
I intended to hit only a couple of stores today, but time, and my ideas, got away from me. And I didn't even go to Cracker Barrel!

(Folks on my Christmas group are always talking about the cute things they find in Cracker Barrel. I wanted to check them out! I know Bob Evans usually has neat stuff in the fall and at Christmas.)

I started at the Barnes & Noble at Bells Ferry—or, rather, I started at the CD Warehouse a few doors down. I often check them out for used DVDs, but don't usually find anything. Today they had a copy of Kit Kittredge for $10, which I snapped up. I can't believe they are charging a minimum (at Costco) of $18.99 for this DVD when all it contains is the film!!! No extras at all, except you can get a dopey digital copy. Like...who cares?

I found a cool book in B&N called Christmas Long Ago. It's actually a Schiffer price book for collecting what's called "paper ephemera," but I love the Schiffer books because they actually tell you about the items and their historical period rather than just showing a photo of the item and listing a price. This one is mostly Victorian Christmas postcards and cards, but also includes paper dolls, trade cards, engravings, and advertisements, all in full color, and talks about customs back then and contains quotations from period books.

Anyway, I had to laugh: I was approaching the checkout line and passing the calendars as I did. They had a desk calendar...I couldn't believe my eyes!...called "What Your 'Poo' Says About You." I kid you not! It is a fact a day about toilets, colonic issues, etc!!! Anyway, there was a man coming up behind me and he grinned at me and said in a very charming British accent, "I saw that just as you picked it up. Too much information, don't you think?" I had to agree!

From there I went to Michaels, where I picked up two gifts, and then I crossed Barrett Parkway to go to Town Center Mall. I was approaching a long line of full parking spaces when a space opened up right next to the handicapped slots, about three spaces from the door! A good thing, too, since I'd parked at the wrong entrance and had a bit of walking to do. I was headed for the Yankee Candle Store, and I was successful in finding the café au lait candles. Instead of buying a big candle I purchased the collection of eight tea lights and then bought a holder for them—these were of crackle glass with autumn leaves on it and all the fall stuff was half price.

I dropped in at Hallmark, and then stopped for a few minutes at FYE, which sells DVDs and CDs. If you bought two or more used DVDs they were 20 percent off. I found something called A Classic Christmas: The Ed Sullivan Show (I talk about it here) and also bought season two of A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

From the mall I went to JoAnn. For once their books weren't already on sale, so I bought 101 Places in the USA and Canada to See Before You Die. Also got a couple of things from the dollar bin and a piece of aged-looking plaid material to go under my woodland tree and Santa.

I stopped at Borders, which was a bad idea, since all I had for breakfast was oatmeal and yogurt and it was now after three and I was starving. So finally I just headed home and ate what was left over of last night's salad for a very late lunch. Did some tidying in the house and finally sat down to watch The Nude Bomb, which played on Sleuth a few nights ago. I remember when this came out. It played only at the Lincoln Mall cinema and, of course still being crazy over Get Smart, I drove all the way there and saw the movie after lunch at the Roast House. I was...disappointed, especially that Barbara Feldon wasn't in the story. Maxwell Smart is a free and easy bachelor in this one, working for PITS rather than CONTROL.

We had thought about going out for our anniversary tonight (eighteen years today!), but by the time James gets home, it is 7 p.m. This means we probably wouldn't get to eat until 8 or 8:30...not very conducive when you have to be in bed by eleven. So I just brought some Chinese food home and we ate at the table with the electric candles flickering.

Oh, I have one of the café au lait candles lit. Wow, that smells good! I wish I could drink coffee, but regular gives me palpitations and decaf gives me heartburn. I love the scent of coffee! It reminds me of all those family holiday gatherings where an aunt or a cousin would be brewing fragrant coffee to go with the dinner or the dessert on the table, or morning breakfast when Mom would be brewing coffee in the percolator for her and Dad. Sometimes one of them would spoon a couple of servings of coffee into my milk, or occasionally I could have Eclipse coffee syrup in my milk as a treat. Hot coffee is a comfortable, welcoming scent, the scent of home and love.

[Later...well, that did it...I had to go have some coffee can take the girl out of Rhode Island, but you can't take the Rhode Island out of the girl...LOL!)

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» Sunday, November 09, 2008
Sunny Fall Day
Perfect for sleeping late and then having a quiet day. We went to Trader Joe's and discovered that the pumpkin tarts are finally out. These make delicious desserts and I am only sorry they don't have them all year round. I mentioned this to the cashier and she said "You would get sick of them." And not get sick of the ones that are around all year round, like the chocolate and the pecan? Pumpkin seems to be everywhere at Trader Joe's: pumpkin butter, bread mix, puree, filling...Thanksgiving is indeed around the corner, and the Christmas items, like peppermint bark, is appearing as well.

We also stopped at Borders, and then came home for a quiet afternoon. James changed the heating filters and I dubbed off the three Rick Sebak specials I had on the DVR (Sandwiches You Will Like, To Market to Market to Buy a Fat Pig, and A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway) and "White Falcon, White Wolf" from Nature. We had what is beginning to be our ubiquitous Asian salad with turkey for supper.

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» Saturday, November 08, 2008
Saturday Shopping
"Oh, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful! and yet again wonderful! and after that, out of all whooping!"

. . . . . Celia, As You Like It

Yesterday was rainy, and following the wet came the cold front! (I stood in front of the television at one point while the weather map was onscreen, cheering the front on.) We woke this morning to cold air coming through the fan in the window, which made it a lovely morning for curling up in blankets and snoozing.

After breakfast we were off on a day of shopping and walking. It was a bright blue-skied day, chill and crisp with occasional gusts of wind, one that made one want to dance and call out, "It's fall! It's fall! It's fall at last!" If I could have swooped up the whole world today and given it a hug, I would have. During the day we were constantly driving through swirls of golden leaves hustled from their branches by the wind.

We started out at Hallmark, this being the last of the ornament premieres (boy, they really drag these things out...LOL). The Canadian Santa was released this weekend: he's lovely, with a birchbark robe marked in holly, snowshoes slung over his back, and carrying a basket with evergreens in it. I got that and the Marjolein Bastin bird ornament. Because I bought two ornaments, I got a third, a little Santa. I also bought a Webkinz cardinal and the new Yankee Candle gingerbread candle (oh, Lord, do these smell of gingerbread—you don't even have to burn it). I had a $5 off coupon and a $2 credit coupon, and because I spent a certain amount, I was entitled to a "free gift bag" worth $50.

Now usually these freebies are pretty lame, but this one was quite neat. It contained a booklet of recipes/decorating ideas, a singing card, a white porcelain dated bell, a small serving plate that says "Merry" with a snowman on it, a magnetic round photo frame with a snowman hat on it with the legend "Snow much fun," a Christmas-theme packet of tissues, and a dated keepsake ornament of a glove with toys in it. And it came in a nice gift bag, too!

We ducked into Publix to take advantage of the twofers, then went to the hobby shop for a while. From there we headed up to Books-a-Million, which was having a 20 percent off everything in the store sale today only. Bought a Charles Wysocki calendar, a copy of Country Woman, a copy of a North Carolina magazine, Our State with a big section of autumn photos, the December Cross-Stitcher, and a book for a gift.

From there we had lunch at Longhorn, which is right across the parking lot. As always, we both only ate half our steaks and brought the rest home for a lunch. Thus fortified, we went to Dollar Tree and then to Michaels. James bought a small pre-lighted silver tree which he is going to use for his airplane ornaments. They tend to get lost on the big tree anyway. This is made out of that holographic material, so it will set off the ornaments quite nicely.

We decided to stop at Walmart to see if they possibly had the Hood's Calorie Countdown chocolate milk. Ah, well, no miracle here. We did pick up some things we needed, then drove home via Kennesaw National Battlefield Park. It was approaching sunset, but no darkening could quench the brightest of the trees, which stood out like small lanterns in the growing darkness: fire orange here, golden yellow there, purply scarlet brush. James saw three deer standing in the meadow near the park headquarters building, but by the time I turned, I had missed them.

We had to make one more stop at Kroger for prescriptions, chicken broth, and other odds and ends before arriving home with our treasures and having soup for supper. Schuyler was chirping so plaintively that I sat her cage near me and she is now contentedly preening.

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» Friday, November 07, 2008
Slideshow of Some of the Gatlinburg Photos
Shutterfly Site

(You can slow down or speed up the slideshow, or make the photos full screen, by mousing over the upper right hand corner of the screen until the menu shows up.)

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» Thursday, November 06, 2008
Farewell, Mike
The name "Michael Crichton" always takes me back to Memorial Day weekend in 1971, when my best friend and I saw The Andromeda Strain for the first time. We both fell in love with the film and I bought the novel two or three days later.

Over the years I've enjoyed many Crichton novels, including Jurassic Park and Timeline, but Andromeda Strain remains my favorite. Thanks for the good reads, Michael. We'll miss you.



Which House Character Are You?
I kinda figured:

(I wouldn't advise taking this quiz; they ask you a whole bunch of nosy questions and for personal information. I faked everything.)



Back to the Routine
Back to purchase orders and purchase authorizations, but entertained nicely with the albums I have bought. Already played one of the Porter Music Box albums (I picked two, one which James bought for me as an anniversary gift, trying to pick out those that had songs not in my collection, and in hindsight, should have picked one—there were four Christmas CDs —with more traditional tunes as the few modern tunes just don't sound right in music box format) and am now playing the brass album. Yummy!

I am about to rearrange the Gatlinburg entries so they are on the proper days. Hope to add a few pics for each entry at some point after I'm done for the day, or tomorrow, or over the weekend.

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» Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Fit to Be...Well, You Know What
I have this big hunk o' "use or lose" to use up.

When you pass 15 years of service as a federal employee, you earn eight hours of leave every two weeks. I haven't taken many days off and we haven't been on vacation this year except for the past two days and going up to Owensboro, so I have enough days that I have to use, or I lose them, to take Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's weeks off—and I still had days left over. So I chose the other two Fridays in December that I don't have off, my birthday (a Thursday before a Friday off), and our anniversary, not, sadly, because James has it off, but because it's between Sunday and Veterans Day, also a holiday, to make it a long weekend. But I still had one more day and I chose to do that today so I could tidy up after our trip.

Well, I was called to take an interview today; it isn't for anything much different, just at a higher pay grade, with promotion to a higher pay grade. I could asked for it to be tomorrow, but this gave me a chance to get ready in the morning and then drive in and not have to keep on my interview clothes all day. So that's what I did: prepped this morning, changed in the bathroom at work (since after a forty minute drive in a sunny car my nice blouse and skirt would have been wrinkled and sweaty), and did the interview. It was with my present supervisor and someone else that I knew, and was very relaxed.

Now, I had done a couple of orders last week that had some items that needed printing out for the backup file. I figured that since I was already at the office, I would just print the items there and file them. Shouldn't take more than fifteen minutes.

Wrong! It took that damn computer of mine twenty fripping minutes just to get to the Windows desktop. This is not the first, second or third time this has happened, either. Plus when I finally got all my icons and all my desktop, the wretched thing refused to do anything for me. It said it wasn't connected to the printer, then that it couldn't print because there had been an error, when I clicked on buttons the screen went blank for a couple of seconds, one application wouldn't close, and I kept getting a popup about a dialog box being open...but I couldn't get rid of the popup so I could deal with the dialog box! After fifteen minutes of this nonsense I said screw it and tried to shut down; it wouldn't even let me do that normally—I finally just had to shut the computer off.

I went stamping out in a huff and went to Costco to replace the entire gallon of BJ's milk that had spoiled despite the "sell by" date being two days from now and the gallon never having been opened. What a waste of money and of food. Picked up a gift while there and trundled the milk home. By then I had a screaming headache because I had been so nervous this morning I hadn't eaten anything but oatmeal and a yogurt cup. I finally had to lie down for an hour in a dark room to make it go away.

But I did get the things I bought sorted out, Christmas things in one bag, winter in another, and craft things into my crafts room.

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» Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Amazon Read My Mind!
I was ranting about blister packs again a few days ago, so had a laugh when I read this!

In other words, we're going back to good old fashioned cardboard boxes!



Alternate Routes
I opened all the blinds I could this morning as we were dressing and packing in an effort to see as much of the view as we could before we had to leave, since the entire chalet is surrounded with trees changing color. We were up at eight and eating breakfast by nine; loaded the dishwasher, piled all the dirty towels and facecloths in one place in the bathroom, tossed the trash, loaded the car and seated the fids, and were off. I took an MPEG movie of the drive down (so we will never forget that winding road!) and also the main street of Gatlinburg.

We decided to go home via the route I had thought we had to use to get here: up to I-40 and then south on I-75, so we once again drove through Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, then through a route 66 to get to I-40. This turned us on to a street lined with supermarkets and ordinary stores, but then diverted into more touristy, but plain places, including two more Christmas stores, a two-story knife store with a knife museum, women's clothing, and other shops.

Just before we reached I-40, a Russell Stover discount store came up on our left. I needed to use their bathroom, but on the way out I found a box of dark-chocolate covered maple cream "Buzzard Eggs." I haven't finished last year's box that James found for me at Christmas (if I have one as a treat every two weeks that's a lot), but decided to restock. James also went in to use the bathroom as well as to check out their selection of sugar-free candies, as the Russell Stover stores have a lot more varieties than Walmart or Kroger.

Once on I-40, we weren't far from Knoxville, and each of us wanted to make a stop. In James' case, it was a small hobby shop he had found listed online. Alas, it was very small and mostly radio control things. The notable thing about it was that it also had needlework supplies. I didn't bother going in since James said it was nothing I couldn't find at Michaels. I always look for unique things, like band samplers.

I wanted to go to A.C. Moore. There is no Moore craft store in the Atlanta area, and we used to drive once or twice a year to the store in Chattanooga, once in the early fall and once before Christmas. The Chattanooga store closed some time ago. I thought we could go to the next closest store, in Columbus, GA. Well, that closed as well! The next closest store was Greenville, SC. It might be possible to go there if we were going to combine a trip to Commerce for shoes. Well...the Greenville store has closed, too, and the closest store is now Knoxville! Damned if I'm going to make a special trip to Knoxville to go to A.C. Moore!—but since we were going past it already, I wanted to take the opportunity to stop there, since they do have unique items.

I just purchased small things, mostly winter themed, including a new winter flag which was on sale. Most of what I bought were these small themed wooden pieces that you attach to other items in a decorative fashion. I bought several Hallowe'en themed ones as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas. I skipped anything that I could buy at Michaels or JoAnn, so I was only in the Christmas area, the stand where the wooden embellishments were, and the few aisles of autumn/Hallowe'en things.

This was the last of our shopping stops. By this time it was a little after one and we were ready for lunch. We stopped at a Wendy's about two exits away from Moore. Ten minutes later we were on I-75 south and heading for the rest area where we could sit and have a leisurely lunch and Miss Wil could have a nice walk and the plain hamburger we bought for her.

So much for that! The rest area was closed; not just the facilities building, but the whole darn rest area. Since we knew Willow must be very thirsty by now, we exited at the next opportunity, which turned out to be a dead motel and a convenience store selling gasoline. We parked in the shade of the building and I tended Willow while James went in to use the facilities and bought us a couple of ice cream sandwiches to "pay" for the use of their area. Willow used the facilities as well, had some water, and enjoyed her hamburger; we enjoyed ours as well, even though they were rather cold by then!

James had been driving since we left the chalet, so I drove the rest of the way home from this "lunch" stop. We were still finding some lovely trees although I noticed that the moment we crossed the line from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge and then to Sevierville, the trees had muted...instead of spectacular color, they were more dark gold and russet and burgundy; perhaps it's a soil thing. So the occasional eye-popping trees were all the more noticeable, especially one row of trees that began at pale yellow, the next being gold, then orange, and the last one brilliant red-orange. Even more delightful would be the occasional bright orange or red tree peeping from between green pines. And of course since by the time we reached north Georgia it was late afternoon, the trees were enhanced with late afternoon sun.

We managed to survive Tuesday rush hour since we were going against traffic and arrived home around five. It was in the mid-70s and we almost immediately threw open all the windows and turned on the fans. As is our habit, we immediately unpacked, started the laundry, put things away, then had supper, although it will probably be days before all our new purchases will be placed where they belong. Along with the new books I bought at the Book Warehouse, my order from Hamilton Books had arrived: I had purchased a gift for James and one for his mother, as well as a really inexpensive cross-stitch book ($3!) and a book about the Pilgrims and "the myth of Thanksgiving."

So Willow has her "box" back, Schuyler has her "real TV," and we are watching What's My Line? as well as the two Hallowe'en-themed episodes of I've Got a Secret that we missed.

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» Monday, November 03, 2008
We're Walkin', Yes Indeed...
No weird dreams last night, thankfully. We did the breakfast-at-home thing again, bade the animals farewell, and squiggled down the mountain for the next-to-the-last time. And this time we made the correct turn without making a mistake! Of course we will remember when it's almost time to leave. On the way down, there were no cars behind us, so we stopped on some of the curves early in the ride to take some photos of the vista below. This road is just...drama; the convoluted curves and the switchbacks, the narrowness of the upper part of the route, the steep drops just inches from the asphalt edge.

If the car had a say in this, I would expect it would be relieved at going back home!

We parked the car at a lot in back of the main road. Now that it's Monday, the weekenders and daytrippers are gone and parking is aplenty. We emerged at a seafood restaurant, next to the Hollywood Wax Museum and decided to turn left instead of right. This turned out to be a good idea as there wasn't much if you walked in that direction, besides hotels, a couple of restaurants, and a few inexpensive gift shops.

We really didn't go into most of the myriad attractions on the main street: besides the wax museum, there is a famous cars display, a dinosaur exhibit, a magic show, and several Ripley's attractions including the "believe it or not" museum, aquarium, a mirror maze, and a "haunted adventure," but one of the first things we did do was go up in something called "the Space Needle." This is a spire resembling, but not similar in design to, the real Space Needle in Seattle. The tip of the spire of the structure is at 407 feet, but the observation deck (no restaurant, just a concrete platform) is several feet below that.

Once we stepped off that elevator, we were surrounded by hills painted in brilliant autumn color. I cannot even describe how beautiful it a painting, a symphony of varied pigment, a fantasia of leaves. I burst into tears it was so beautiful—but didn't waste much time crying because I would have been missing the scenery! We wandered from one point of the compass to the next and drank up the scenery. Give me a phone and an internet connection with a laptop and a desk and chair, and I would have stayed happily up there working until the color faded! Took lots of photos as well as a movie and left reluctantly.

For the rest of the day we just walked the area and wandered in any store that took our fancy. There was a little Christmas shop that was going out of business, various little knicknack shops, etc. We stopped at a little store that sold nothing but magnets to buy a Gatlinburg one for our fridge collection. We found a very simple one shaped and colored like an oak leaf, and I also found a budgie magnet that comes in two parts; you can put it up on either side of a glass to make it look like the bird is flying through empty space rather than glass.

We stopped at a kitchen store and sampled homemade local jams and butters, and I bought a potato peeler that works in the palm of your hand. We peeked in a clock store that my dad would have adored: there were rows of beautiful wood-and-brass grandfather clocks and cuckoo clocks on one wall.

They have a system here, and also down in Pigeon Forge, where they number the traffic lights. This way you don't have to count lights or crane your neck to read a street sign and is super convenient. (They are just numbers, not mileage or any other distance measurement.) We had begun our walk at traffic signal #8 and walked all the way down to #5.

One place we stopped was a little...well, grotto is the only way I can describe it. This was an area of shops off the main road that was made to emulate a little European village, with narrow walkways punctuated with the occasional seat or fountain with shops on either side. We popped into a little toy shop, wandered about the Thomas Kincade gallery (they had dimmer switches so you could turn the lights down low; they were aimed directly at the "light" portions of each painting so that the paintings had a glow), and went into a Celtic shop that sold Scottish and Irish items. They were playing a toe-tapping CD called "Gaelic Thunder." Must hunt that up!

We reversed course here and started back up the street. By now it was early afternoon, and, although it was not hot, it was quite warm in the sun. Needless to say, we were a bit hot! So we stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. James had something called "twice cooked pork" and I had cashew chicken that was made simply with celery and chopped water chestnuts. It was also quite garlicky, but that's okay...I like garlic. I now have no worries about vampires. LOL.

We walked the rest of the way back to traffic light #8 and then had to decide what we wanted to do. What we had considered doing was riding one or two of the trolleys that circle the town or go out to various places like Pigeon Forge or the arts and crafts community. But we were nowhere near a trolley stop at the moment. Finally we just started walking back down the street. We each had a small cone of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and then, thus refreshed, this time walked past traffic light #5 to one of the small Welcome Centers. We were going to buy a trolley pass, but by this time it was 3:30 and the woman there said she did not think it was economical for us because the trolleys stopped running at six, and the last one would go up to the arts and crafts community at five. (She actually recommended taking a car there. We'll have to go another time since we have to leave tomorrow.)

So instead we walked a little further down to traffic light #3 and stopped at a gallery called "Beneath the Smoke." This is the official gallery of photographer Ken Jenkins, who does nature studies. I knew him already because the beautiful autumn print that I had purchased yesterday at the Incredible Christmas Place was his. Upstairs is also a nature store with books about birds and other wildlife. I bought a card with a photo of a mother wolf and her newborn cubs and another of a vixen with one of her kits, and James bought me some things for my birthday (one's a calendar, the other is a surprise). These are stunning photos, and Mr. Jenkins has traveled to all of the national parks in search of subjects for them. The most breathtaking was a shot of a puma caught in mid-leap from one butte top to another. Another I liked but I didn't see a small card of was of an adult wolf leading a "community sing" of three cubs, all howling in unison. There were also spectacular shots ofeagles, bears, and deer.

We made our way back to the aquarium, crossed the road there to a bridge over the river, and stood for quite a while watching the mallard ducks in the stream below. This was very shallow and so clear you could see tiny fishes swimming about in slightly deeper pools. There were several dozen ducks, some hunting for dinner (I have several shots of "duck butts"), some on rocks sunning themselves and preening, the rest darting about in the water (and they can move remarkably fast!). Then we crossed the street to the trolley shelter and waited for the next red trolley (the one that circled the Gatlinburg area proper). There was a woman there talking on a cell phone...she had been there when we crossed the street to see the ducks and she was still there when we came back and was still talking ten minutes later!

We rode the entire circuit of the red trolley. These are not for tour purposes, but simply a transportation system. The best part of the ride was driving up a narrow road similar to the one we have been navigating twice a day...with something as big as a trolley! Now there was drama! a circular hotel called the Park Vista, and then through some back streets where the smaller motels like the Scottish Inn and other places were. To my surprise, we saw what they used to call a "motor court" back in the 40s, 50s and early 60s, the type of motel we would have stopped at for vacations when I was a kid: wooden screen doors, metal chairs outside to sit on...the whole magilla. Talk about going back in time!

We hopped off—well, by this time, actually limped off...LOL—the trolley when we completed the circuit and went into a place called "the Mall." This was a six-story building full of little shops: we visited a smaller version of Book Warehouse, a shop that sold nothing but turtle-themed items, and another little toy shop. From there we began walking back up to traffic light #8.

You see, we were waiting for dark. When you ride the elevator in the Space Needle, you get a receipt good for a second trip within a 24-hour period. I wanted to go up just as darkness fell, to see the town illuminated. It was not quite late enough, so I took an opportunity to return to a little gift shop called The Maple's Tree, which we had stopped at early this morning before we went to the Space Needle. They had a section with a large selection of small "prim" sculptures (primitives, which look like Early American folk art) and I wanted an inexpensive one. I got a little sheep sitting in a still life of saltbox house, shaker boxes, candle, and red star that said "dream out loud" and also a set of tiny blocks with a snowman and snowflakes on it that says "winter blessings."

The sun had gone down, but the sky was still rosy as we emerged on the platform, and there was a wonderful cool breeze. We watched the darkness deepen and the sky turn to the color of dark plum as we circled the platform, checking out the sites that looked so different from this morning. In the distance, the Mysterious Mansion glowed purple. One set of buildings was lined with white. The Wax Museum's sign glowed bright scarlet. Even without the Christmas lights (the decorations are all up, but the winterfest activities don't start until Friday) dark, it was nearly as colorful as it had been earlier.

What an end to the day!

We trudged back through the restaurant complex and down to the parking lot. James wanted to eat at someplace called the Great American Steak and Buffet that we had seen in Pigeon Forge, so off we went. This was quite nice, with very flavorful meats. A plus: the place was near the Incredible Christmas Place, so I was able to get a photo or two of the beautiful blue lights decorating the store exterior.

Finally back to hearth (which we haven't used since it's still too warm in here for us—the temperature is over 70 although I have the thermostat set on 60!) and "home."

It's been the shortest long weekend ever. Dammit.



» Sunday, November 02, 2008
Little Chalet in the Maples…Pines…Whatever
Golden Guide. Leaves. Order from Amazon…

James hit the pillow and slept like that proverbial rock. I, alas, was restless. Went upstairs at least once about an hour after we'd retired to see if it was too warm/too cool for Schuyler. All seemed fine.

When I did fall asleep, I had the darnest dream. We were at some sort of convention and James decided to trade in his truck for a sports car. Not even a nice sports car, but a really ugly, low thing that had flat sides, was white with that lime green trim…all together now!…that is popular this Christmas. (Man, that color is haunting me. I must really hate it.) He had a bunch of people trying to sell me on it, including, God help me, Dr. Joyce Brothers. I was upset because he was angry at me and wouldn't speak to me, and couldn't sleep. At one point every time I descended a certain flight of stairs (or entered a certain foyer area, I can't remember), there was someone trying to talk me into letting James have the car—yes, including Dr. Joyce Brothers!

Waking up was actually a relief.

We had breakfast here: James some Hot Pockets and me two packets of oatmeal and a yogurt and some milk. Schuyler had her breakfast with me. Willow is wandering around trying to figure it out. She is completely puzzled by this tendency of her humans to suddenly abandon the den and go to a strange den. The doors aren't where she expects them, and the windows, which go almost down to the floor and overlook trees because the chalet is set on the side of the hill, are confusing.

We got Willow and Schuyler settled for the day, then descended the mountain once more. It was again a perfect, sunny day. During the first few minutes of the ride, you can look out over the city of Gatlinburg. The trees are just at peak, starting on the downturn, and the slope is brilliant with autumnal impressionist spots of yellow, orange, and red.

We again used the back street to skirt most of the traffic, but there wasn't much this morning. First we had to go up to the rental office to officially register. We mentioned our modem problem and in talking about it, realized we had completely forgotten to try to reset it by unplugging it and replugging it in. We figured we'd try that tonight.

Next we got gasoline, then headed north. Since Gatlinburg is so crowded on the weekend we decided to use today to go to the Tennessee Aviation Museum. This is at the Sevierville Airport. Since we'd expected internet access, we hadn't printed out any instructions, but we let the GPS unit do its job. Except it tried to take us through a road where the bridge was out—not its fault. We eventually found the airport anyway, but on Sunday the museum doesn't open until one.

So we turned around and went back on the "main drag." One of the things I had been wanting to see here was a big Christmas store known as "The Incredible Christmas Place," which we've talked about on Christmas to the Max.! Christmas overload! I can't even describe's a big store. There's a little café and candy shop, a Vera Bradley (ugh...clothes) shop, a regular gift shop, and then the main Christmas shop. You wander from area to area, shelves or upright displays with different theme ornaments and decorations: sports ornaments, or gingerbread, or cardinals, or angels, a big corner with nativity figures, a cubby that has all the different Department 56 villages set up, snowmen, Santas, poinsettias, a corner for their Singing Santa (who was not on duty when we walked through), a big Christmas tree display, and a corner where they had different types of lights, and more, plus the entire store was decorated for Christmas with garland, swags,, wow, and wow.

We really don't have any room for more larger Christmas decor, so I just bought little bits of things: some icy branches and a snowflake for winter decorations, a candy-cane theme pick that just struck my fancy, a Jim Shore angel that I planned to use for the ceppo (found something better later on, but can always use a Jim Shore angel somewhere!), a couple of other things. They had several displays with Christmas CDs, but I eschewed the country music and the regular stuff—instead I bought a CD of music box Christmas music and James bought me another for our anniversary next week. I love music box tunes and prefer instrumental Christmas music.

By the time we had walked through the store it was quite past lunchtime. James wanted "real food" and not the sandwiches from the café, so we went a few streets down to Bennett's, a barbecue place. I had a pork dish and James had beef brisket, and we shared a chocolate cake slice for dessert. This was a dense cake, almost the consistency of a cheesecake. (The name of the place made me chuckle, as I had taken my little black-and-white stuffed "Cheeky Dog" with us because Schuyler likes him. His name is Bennett after Bennett Cerf.)

When we finished lunch, we turned around and returned to the airport.

This is a neat little air museum, with a display hall exhibiting various military memorabilia from World War I through Desert Storm: uniforms, medals, ration books, instruction manuals, photos, etc., the usual. However, each of these museums always has something unique to them, and this one had an exhibit about military chaplains in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and in the Gulf. There were photos of how services were carried out on battlegrounds, items they used like portable organs and cases carrying hymnbooks, and stories of chaplains' heroism. There was one story about "the four chaplains" on a ship which was torpedoed and sunk by the Germans. The chaplains, one Dutch Reform, one Methodist, one Catholic, and one Jewish, who worked together to help the injured and encourage the survivors.

The other part of the museum is a clean, bright hangar where at least a dozen different aircraft are exhibited. There are also a couple of land vehicles: a jeep, a halftrack, and a beautiful 1930s automobile that was specially built for Amelia Earhardt, and an "Airwolf" type helicopter.

You enter and exit through the gift shop (it's a state law <g>). James got a T-shirt and a set of playing cards with beautiful airplane paintings on them, and I bought a sticker for his truck and some postcards that were taken from vintage posters.

On the way back, we did a goofy and stopped at a store that advertised itself as the largest "Advertised on TV" store ever. (There must be a dozen of these stores in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Sevierville area.) Well, it certainly was large; it was in an old supermarket! And it did have all the Billy Mays/Debbie Meyer/Sham-Wow/etc. gadgets you see blared at you on television every few minutes. I was interested in seeing if they had that Buxton handbag that is supposed to miraculously expand. I saw it. I guess you can fit two water bottles and an umbrella in it, but it sure looked small to me! The store wasn't just those items, either, but a lot of dollar-store type junk, too. The walk up and down the aisle was good exercise, at least!

When we were at the Christmas store, I had seen a beautiful poster of a fall valley, but was so in a hurry to get to the Christmas portions that I had put it back. Now we stopped back there so I could pick up the poster. Someone had bought the one we saw downstairs, but we found another upstairs and in doing so met the store's mascot, an African grey parrot who was asleep in a big cage near the stairs. He woke up as we talked to him, stretched his wings, then decided we were no threat and went back to sleep.

I also took the opportunity to take a couple of photos outside the store, which is nicely landscaped with lighted trees and bushes and a small railroad layout. I was particularly charmed by a blue spruce with blue lights on it.

Opposite the store is a big Christmas-themed-year-round hotel, The Inn at Christmas Place. I knew they had wi-fi, so I pulled out James' EEPC—we carried it with us just in case we ate or stopped at a place with a wireless signal—and turned it on...sure enough, we were getting the bleed from the hotel's wi-fi signal. That's how I originally posted yesterday's entry. We bloggers find a way. :-)

We had seen another, smaller Christmas store near Bennett's barbecue place, so we stopped there. This was actually a very large store, not as big as the other place, but it went way down in the back and made a connecting-U with the china shop next door: tons of stuff including imported European ornaments, Jim Shore stuff, stuffed and standing Santas, different themed ornaments, etc. The difference was this looked like a department store with aisles, while the larger store looked more like a decorator's dream. I got a woodland deer for my woodland tree, two small china angels for the top of the ceppo, a small resin tree about four inches high—there were a dozen of these little trees, each decorated in a different ethnic theme, like Mexican and British, and I got the Italian one, with Della Robbia fruit, grapes, gondolas, etc.—and a CD of brass Christmas instrumentals. If there's anything I like as much as music box Christmas music, it's brass Christmas music!

By then it was dark and after six. James stopped by Hardee's and got himself something to eat; I still had the rest of my steak from last night in the fridge. We came down Pigeon Forge's now less busy main street, did the five miles of darkness between the towns, and emerged into a Gatlinburg that was now decidedly less crowded. We even drove down through the hotels and gift shops at a normal speed.

So we were returned to the bosom of our critters. We had dinner at the table where Schuyler's cage is set, and you should have seen her as we were eating: she craned her little neck at James, eyes bright at seeing his salad. He offered her a bit of tomato and she nibbled on it. Willow got a bit of the gristle from my steak and was happy then and finally ate her dog food.

(Incidentally, it was very nice pulling into the parking area at the cabin. There is minimal light here and you can see a canopy of stars overhead. We identified Casseopeia and Orion quite easily. We used to be able to see the stars from our deck, but the folks next door keep their deck lights on all the time and it washes out the sky.)

Anyway, we unplugged the modem and replugged it in. No go. We are receiving packets, but not sending them. However, there's another modem downstairs and James got that to work, on the EEPC, anyway. Which how we were able to eventually post. Simple, eh? LOL.

In the meantime, I finished Conant's All Shots tonight, and we watched the nineteenth edition of "Treehouse of Horror." Is it me, or are these no longer really very funny? The opening gag was short and sweet, but the transformers thing was kinda blah, as was Homer as an assassin. The Great Pumpkin spoof was quite spot on until it veered from the story, and it remained fairly entertaining to the end,

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