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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» Thursday, December 31, 2009
Another Year Shot Straight to Hell...
We end up saying this every year. Last night we were just shutting off the light.

How come the dang years go by so quickly and the weekdays go by so slowly? LOL.

Am sitting here trying to type in gloves. My hands are a mess in the winter, all scaly and dry, because I'm always washing them. Pet or walk the dog, have to wash my hands. Refill the bird feeder, have to wash my hands. Of course, after using the toilet, or preparing food. Need to deal with Schuyler's food or water, wash my hands. Before each meal, wash my hands. Work on crafts, wash my hands. It's a lot of water to dry them out. So I have them slathered in moisturizing cream and covered with my old confirmation gloves, which are thin so I can type. James is late coming home: he had Borders Bucks that expire tonight, so he stopped for a book, and then for gasoline.

He's going to think I'm nuts when he comes in: I have the Sun Bowl on. I'm not watching it, it's just on. I don't like football, but I like the sound of it on Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve/Day...reminds me of my dad and my uncles and male cousins.

Meanwhile, I've had a busy day. Started out finishing a project; was resigned to using Elmer's glue until I dug around the mess in my craft room and found my Modge Podge. Much better. But lordy, that stuff smells when it's fresh. (Modge Podge is for decoupage. You use it to glue items to a surface and then as a glaze to seal it.) That came out nice. Worked on some other aspects of the project, too.

About 10:30 ran out to Food Depot. Found a ham for dinner tomorrow, plus real bacon bits for him to use in his Cheese Bake for tonight. Then went to a local store for which I had a coupon which expired today. With a little judicious purchasing, I came out with five gifts I can put away for birthdays/next Christmas and a couple of half-price Christmas decorations. Since it was in my direction, I also stopped at another Food Depot and found some beef. We were completely out as of Tuesday night.

When I got home, I immediately cut up the ham steak I bought and put it in a container, layered with crushed pineapple and juice. Then I worked on two more craft projects. One was very delayed: decorating a new Christmas sweatshirt! I had a burgundy sweatshirt I got last year (back when A.C. Moore still carried sweatshirts) and some iron-on rhinestone holly leaves/berries I got at Moore's while on vacation this year. I should have ironed them on weeks ago. Anyway, it's done now so I can wear it tonight, and through January 6. It's only the seventh day of Christmas, after all.

The second project was the subway entrance I bought for the 1940s Christmas village on our mantel...but that story is told in Holiday Harbour. That was fun! Listened to nice classical music while I was doing so.

Finally I made the bed, played a bit on Farmville, and...well, we're back to where we started. Man, I need a nap!

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» Wednesday, December 30, 2009
C is for (After) Christmas Cruising
A quiet day in which I didn't get as much done as I wanted. Instead headed up to Town Center to hit the JoAnn; just bought some bits for craft projects, then stopped at Borders in case they had another copy of the book I had bought as a gift yesterday. It occurred to me that it would be a perfect gift for another person, too. But they didn't have one. Ah, well.

Used a coupon at Michaels to buy myself something to finish another craft project, then went on to Barnes & Noble, where I found the new issue of Early American Life. Popped in CD Warehouse to find a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for a reasonable price, then checked out Hallmark for any good leftovers, but all I got was a couple of sets of old-world Santa stickers.

Spent the afternoon dubbing off the episodes of the final season of Monk that I want to keep: the Sharona story, the dog story, and Captain Stottlemeyer's wedding. I'll get "Mr. Monk and The End" another day, and that will clear more things off the DVR.

So now we're watching Harry. Schuyler keeps chirping at the poor canaries Malfoy is experimenting with.

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» Tuesday, December 29, 2009
C is for Christmas Chill
O what a rush! James woke up with a start this morning; he'd woken early yesterday and turned the alarm off so not to wake me up and had never turned it back on. So it was 7 a.m. and he needed to be to work in a half hour! I scrambled out of bed, put his things near the door, and put his lunch together and warmed up his breakfast Hot Pockets while he got shaved and dressed. He was out in a trice and ended up only being three minutes late. Whew.

Willow got the short shrift of this because I went back to bed, then completely ignored the alarm I set. Between my getting up at nine and doing other things, like putting books away and fetching towels from the dryer, and having to go to the bathroom—sigh...twice—she didn't get to go out until eleven. This was good for me, however, because we had some really wintry temperatures this morning: at 10:51 it was still only 31°F. This may sound positively balmy if you're from Manitoba, but it's downright chilly for Georgia in December.

I even wore my jacket outside while refilling the bird feeder and was still chilled to the bone. I have the camera near the window but never seem to catch the photo I want: one of the chickadees is constantly at the suet, hanging upside down by one leg as he pecks at the seed! It's so cute!

Finally I realized that I'd never get anything done if I didn't just go, so I did, taking a nice ride down US41 and then West Paces Ferry into Buckhead. I stopped at the Barnes & Noble, but there was nothing much on clearance. I did find a Catholic magazine that looked interesting, so picked it up. I also went down to Richard's Variety Store to pick up something, then headed to the Buckhead Borders store, wanting to take a nice long whip to the recalcitrant traffic.

After rooting through their bargain bins found The Daily Coyote, a book about parrots, a mystery set at the time of Henry II, and a future gift. Oh, and the new Yankee! Yay!

Came home by the used book store on Clairmont Road and picked up a Readers Digest retrospective of the 20th century, a big fat coffee-table book on sale for six dollars and tax.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and half the evening dubbing off the first five Castle episodes of the season from the DVR, as well as the Hugh Laurie interview from Jay Leno's show. That should help clear it off some, but we need to watch more of the movies on it. I have Enchanted, Water Horse, and several other items we have never seen.

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» Monday, December 28, 2009
C is for (Post) Christmas Chores
Okay, here's my list from last week, with the finished things crossed off:

First of all, finish wrapping the gifts...LOL.
Get the car washed and vacuumed.
• Finish putting together MIL's gift. (Waiting on this for the rainy days later in the week.)
Fix a permanent place for the space heater in the master bathroom.
Take the rest of the donations to Goodwill before next Thursday.
Walk around downtown Marietta while the Christmas decorations are still up.
• Maybe check out Antique Alley in Roswell.
• Enjoy my Christmas magazines. (Still working on 'em—I bought quite a few! And I didn't even buy any about cooking or crafts!)

To the list add:

• Finish the subway entrance for the village. (Which is also waiting for the rainy day.)

Not bad...I brought the two Xerox-paper boxes full of things to Goodwill this morning, after taking all the things out of the car ("Fred" the pillow and the car blanket, all my reusable bags, the maps and the magazines that I'm supposed to leave at work, etc.), then went to "Mr. Clean" for the car wash. I picked out the "Pro" wash, which is $14, but was $12 today due to a Manager's Special. When I went inside the casher asked me my birthday. Oh! I get a free car wash in my birthday month. So sum cost for car wash, window wash, interior polish and clean...completely free. I like that!

Stopped at Publix for two-for-one omeprazole and Kroger for other things...yow, 73¢ for one cucumber???—then came home.

Had turkey soup for supper. Was watching Disney's Babes in Toyland, but it's hard slogging for me; just never have been very fond of it.

[Later: Ulp! I didn't look in the sink and ended up defrosting a container of turkey soup—but there was already one defrosting in the sink. So it's turkey soup tonight and turkey soup again Thursday night. Ah, well...we have another turkey carcass anyway.

Tonight American Masters did a special on Louisa May Alcott, produced by Harriet Reisen, who just published a biography of Alcott. I enjoyed the book although there were two really obvious errors in it about Alcott's characters, and this special was quite good, painting Alcott as the rebellious person she was, not a willing writer of moral stories. She actually hated writing them and did it only to make enough money to keep her family comfortable, since her father was a useless breadwinner and her mother overworked. Incidentally, for years it has been believed she died from the aftereffects of mercury poisoning due to the calomel treatments she received after contracting typhoid while nursing Union soldiers. A doctor now believes, based on her list of symptoms and a portrait of her, that she may have had lupus.]

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» Sunday, December 27, 2009

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» Saturday, December 26, 2009
Birthdays and Bonuses
Following some good old fashioned after-Christmas depression, we had a nice time at Alice's birthday dinner, even if she couldn't eat much of it. She has had bariatric (sp?) surgery recently and had some problems due to medication she was taking that she should no longer be taking, but there was a lag in realizing that on the doctor's part. It was a nice mix of friends and family, and our waiters at Ruby Tuesday were super.

Afterwards James and I went to the Borders at Parkway Pointe—either Old Navy was having a great after-Christmas sale or everyone was at the movies, because the parking lot was worse than it had been before Christmas!—and I found the next Victoria Thompson book in hardback in the bargain bin (now I don't have to wait for the paperback) and another Inspector Rutledge mystery. Then we came home, peeking at Christmas lights all the way.

Chat was slow tonight, only Erich, Jen, Emma and myself, since everyone else is still away with relatives, but we did get to see The Poseidon Adventure on the Fox Movie Channel...I miss the marathon on New Year's Eve!

And so St. Stephen's Day came to an end.

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» Friday, December 25, 2009
Christmas Greetings: girl skating with dog

Meanwhile, we're over at Holiday Harbour; what did you expect?



» Thursday, December 24, 2009
C is for (Before) Christmas Chores
I had an interrupted night, so slept in a bit this morning. Then it was time to do some necessary things: cleaned a bit in the master bathroom, and dusted and cleaned the shelf next to the jacuzzi tub so that a permanent place could be made for the space heater. The day started out with a milky sunshine trying to peer through growing clouds and the sparrows and chickadees and titmice quarreling around the feeder, but it grew cloudier as the hours progressed. Instead of getting snow for Christmas, we're having rain and possible high winds.

I also figured out what was wrong with the light string out on the deck. We bought it after Christmas last year, when it was about a dollar, a long string of C-9 bulbs. We were planning to attach it permanently, but in the meantime just strung it from the rails so James would have light in the yard when he walked Willow at night. I found a gadget in Hobby Lobby that would allow us to turn the lights on and off with a remote from across the room, so James could turn the lights on before he went out. One of the bulbs shattered at the very end when I put it up, but the lights still went on...for a while. When they quit working I figured that bulb just needed replacing.

Nope, that wasn't it. The string must have gone bad. It wasn't the remote device, either; I'd plugged it directly into the fixture outside to test it.

So today when I was out there I pulled off the string, thinking I would take it down to the garage and see if the squirrel had chewed on it or something. But it came on when I plugged it in inside. But not outside.

Well, duh. I bet some rain got into the broken bulb and the GFI switch clicked off. Once I reset the switch the lights worked fine. Unfortunately, the distance from the deck to the gate meant the lights didn't help James with the combination lock, which was half the reason for putting them up there. So I re-strung the lights across the yard to the gate; it was just long enough for three of them to come over the gate and hang down near the lock. There. In fact, he says now it's almost too bright!

Cleaned the other bathroom, refilled the bird feeders before the rain started, and we've also collected the trash to go out on Saturday instead of tomorrow. In the meantime I watched "Merry Christmas, Bogg" (Voyagers!) and had started The Waltons' "The Best Christmas" when James walked in: they let him out early. We finished with Christmas 1936 on Waltons Mountain, and then watched Arthur's Perfect Christmas, which would be perfect if it wasn't for the songs...LOL. Loved Arthur's clumsy Uncle Fred ("Where does your brother work?" "In a china shop.") and the digs at repetitive toy commercials and Christmas shopping.

We had turkey thighs and stuffing for Christmas Eve dinner, with all of us at table, even Schuyler. Willow was quite attentive to our plates, but didn't harass us, which means she got rewarded with samples. She's looking very fetching for Christmas in a cute little red, white, and green scarf that was on a snowman I repurposed as a winter decoration.

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» Wednesday, December 23, 2009
C is for Christmas Contribution
Supper is over. We have watched Jeopardy and the holiday edition of Georgia Traveler, then the 1968 The Night Before Christmas (how the poem was written), and have just started The Little Drummer Boy.

It was an interesting morning: a tale to be told in Holiday Harbour.

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Winter Morning
I snoozed an extra half hour this morning because my alarm didn't go off...went into the bathroom to see a perfect winter scene outside: a sun struggling through early-morning clouds framed by leafless trees. It looked so cold...yet you can see the "bones" of the trees sketched against the sky and it's beautiful as well.

When I turned on the television for Schuyler, Today was doing a year retrospective (hope it's online; would love to see it again). But why now? Isn't that for next week? Now Hoda is mentioning she is supposed to be on a train, but the train can't go anywhere...apparently there are power problems, and they can keep the heat and the lights running, but not the engines...yo! cut the heat and half the lights and rev up the engines already...if I'm on a train leaving town I'd rather be cold and in the dark and moving than be lighted and warm and not going anywhere. Sheesh...

Have to run out and do some errands...must clean that coffee table off's like a magnet, I swear!

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» Tuesday, December 22, 2009
C is for Christmas Cruising
Up earlier this morning, since I had things I wanted to get done, chiefly clean as much of the spare bedroom as I could. It's looked like the mailing room in a department store ever since I had to wrap and mail the out-of-town gifts and then left everything up so the other gifts could be wrapped. Well, I had all but two done, but James still had to wrap the little gifts for his co-workers.

Basically I cleared up all I could, left large scraps for James' gifts, and left out the tape, rolls, and pen. The tissue paper went into one bag, the Christmas tissue paper in another, greatly tidying the closet in the process. Also put some other things away. Finally, as the clock was edging away from ten o'clock, it was really time to go. I had two goals today: return my library books, which are due tomorrow, and take the plastic bags to Publix for recycling.

By then it was inching up toward 50°F, downright warm from my POV, so I didn't even take a light jacket, just grabbed up the bags, the books, and some coupons, and headed out to a sunny day with bright blue sky...but that's a tale involving books, dogs, and even a sheep in Holiday Harbour (a story which then finishes here).

[Much, much later...James made pork chops for supper and we watched Jeopardy, then I felt like reading and James was at the computer, so I put Holiday Pops on until the news came on. James wrapped his little airplanes, I wrapped the other two gifts, the rolls are back in the gift wrap container, and at last the spare room is peaceful again...]

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» Monday, December 21, 2009
C is for Christmas Crafts...
...and a strange occurance in Holiday Harbour.

I did have a bit of a sleep-in this morning, just to celebrate the first day of winter, you understand. :-) It was top of my to-do list for the next two weeks.

Seriously, there are things I want to accomplish or do before I go back to work on January 4. Some are mundane, some are fun, some involve Christmas.

• First of all, finish wrapping the gifts...LOL.
• Get the car washed and vacuumed.
• Finish putting together MIL's gift.
• Fix a permanent place for the space heater in the master bathroom.
• Take the rest of the donations to Goodwill before next Thursday.
• Walk around downtown Marietta while the Christmas decorations are still up.
• Maybe check out Antique Alley in Roswell.
• Enjoy my Christmas magazines.

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» Sunday, December 20, 2009
Shopping on Sunday... Holiday Harbour.

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» Saturday, December 19, 2009
The Rain in Georgia Falls Mainly...Everywhere
I must have been operating under a misapprehension...I thought it was supposed to clear up today. Ah, well, at least it wasn't warm!

The alarm rang too early, but we wanted to make sure we were on time for the last Farmer's Market of the season. The vendors huddled under their little marquees trying to keep warm; some of them looked downright dour. I made sure to get the card of the gentleman who sells the goat cheese pesto so we can get some more during the winter. It was in the high thirties, but very breezy, with dark, looming clouds above, the air still saturated from the deluge yesterday. With the leaves on the trees gone, Glover Park and the streets around the square were just one big wind tunnel. The cold went down your neck and crept into your bones.

A lot of folks take their dog to the market, and I was approaching a booth where a man had an elderly Golden Retriever on a leash. I put out my fist for him to sniff and he stuck his nose under it and pushed up, dog language for "Pet the puppy!" :-)

We came home past Kroger for the usual necessities of life (milk, of course). Bought some oranges and a few other things, which somehow added up to almost $50. Gah.

Came home to put everything up (and empty the rest of the twofer groceries from yesterday out of the back of my car) and then had breakfast...we were pretty hungry by then.

For the afternoon portion of the day we went past the library to drop off a Xerox paper box full of books and DVDs to donate, then went to the hobby shop. From there we went up to Town Center. God, I'm glad we didn't go near the mall because going to the REI down the road was bad enough. Of course it was between the wine store and Ulta (a makeup store), two stores down from a shoe store, and then was the Target. I would have had to be desperate to have gone into Target today!

We found a couple of cool things in REI, then stopped at Hobbytown. James always gets small presents for a couple of his co-workers there. I wandered around and found a really cool gift for someone I had already bought a gift for (but I can put that away and save it for the person's birthday), then bought a Stablemates Breyer horse and a Breyer horse coloring book and put it in the Toys for Tots box. Hopefully there's some little girl out there who will love it as I would have.

It had started raining as we were shopping, but as we came out of Hobbytown it had at least stopped. We made a brief stop at Borders for James to pick up something, and I picked up the first book in a series with the mystery taking place during the Blitz. By then it was nearly four o'clock and we hadn't had lunch and were starving. So I called up Dragon and we went to pick up Chinese food for supper.

I remember the first time we had food from Dragon was my birthday and I was decorating the Christmas tree at the old house and James called to say he was stopping to pick up supper at the new Chinese place. He was getting me a pork with Chinese vegetables that came with pork fried rice. He said on the phone, apologetically, that it looked like it had the same old peas and carrots in it; he could see the green of the peas. Sadly, most fried rice at southern Chinese restaurants is like the fried rice you get at the food court at the mall: sort of a yellowish or brownish color with some onions and peas and carrots. Chinese restaurants up north (at least in my experience in Rhode Island, Boston, and New York City) make fried rice totally differently: dark brown, onions, bits of egg, bean sprouts, and whatever meat is involved. I despise cooked peas and the carrots make the fried rice too sweet.

So James brought dinner home and I took a break before the tinseling and opened the container and...the green wasn't peas. It was scallions (ur..."some people call them green onions but they're really scallions"...and who will get that joke?). It was dark brown. It had onions and bean sprouts and scallions and nice little chunks of pork...OMG, OMG, OMG! It was real fried rice! (Almost) best birthday gift ever!

Watched a bunch of Christmas Britcoms tonight, including an Are You Being Served? episode I swear we've never seen. Have "Waters of Mars" recorded so we can watch without the fool commercials. Pity we can't escape the stupid pop-ups and "bugs" and banners, too...ugh.

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Flocking Our Way
I forgot to mention, while I was baking the cookies, and while it was raining fit to beat the band, all the birds that were at the feeder! I haven't seen such a crowd for a long time: a male bluebird and two females, the red-headed woodpecker totally ignoring the suet for the large feeder, the pine warblers back, along with the usual crowd of white-breasted and brown-headed nuthatches, tufted titmice, chipping sparrows, and chickadees—and a male goldfinch in his winter regalia, head brownish instead of bright gold, but still with those stunning black bars on his primaries. They were looking a bit bedraggled from the rain, but otherwise flitted around getting their dinners.



» Friday, December 18, 2009
Perking Up a Rainy Day
So what did I have planned for today? Thinking about walking around Marietta square and getting the car washed.

Well, so much for that. Everything's awash out there. Rain pounding down so hard that I used an umbrella to fetch the trash barrel from the curb. I usually don't pay I used to tell my mom when she complained that I put my jacket over my schoolbooks and then got wet walking home: "I dry. The books wrinkle when they get wet." :-)

So I pull out all the things I need for baking to make sure I need nothing else, then go to Publix for fresh baking powder and flour to replace what I'm going to use. There are lots of cool twofers: start stocking up for the Twelfth Night party with M&Ms and Wheat Thins/Triscuits. We have enough pineapple but I got one can crushed to go with our ham steak on New Year's Day. Found mixed vegetables for James without potatoes! Found three-cheese boxed potatoes! And Electrasol...oh, Finish...whatever they're calling themselves these days.

And I did remember the baking powder and the flour...a miracle. biscuits and the Holiday Pops channel!

Read "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey used to say, in Holiday Harbour.

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» Thursday, December 17, 2009
Cloudy Thursday
I woke this morning to grey skies and a hard frost spread around the house, whitening the grass and the bushes, and even the railings of the deck and the tops of the bird feeders. Later the sun poked its way out, leaving a nice warm sunbeam spread in front of the television for Willow to sleep on—for all of an hour or maybe two. Then the patchy clouds came back, the sun glowing sickly in the fuzzy interstices between them. It was chilly out by then; a good day for Christmas music and a coffee-scented candle as I tip-tapped at the keys.

As I had started a bit late this morning, I skipped most of lunch and ate at my desk (a leftover bit of pork chop and plain saltines with garlic-flavor goat cheese), just stopping long enough to pop the clothes in the washer and sweep the foyer (again). I'd like to say I got a lot done today, but I spent most of it looking up orders for people to check on receiving. One order that I started I couldn't do because a total was wrong; thank goodness I checked with the vendor first.

James arrived home early for the simple reason that he had never had lunch. We had beef bits with baked sweet potatoes and watched the news; they are talking about a cold, rainy, miserable day tomorrow—oh, but at least it won't snow. No, because pouring rain and 37°F is sooooooo much better. (Actually, they are now mentioning the "s-word" in connection with northeast Georgia...snow...or sleet.)

Saw something we'd DVR'd the other day...Graham Norton's salute to Doctor Who...hysterical...David Tennant speaking with his true Scots accent, trading quips with Norton about farting ( and Conquest (fighting with Biblical weapons), and the two M*A*S*H Christmas episodes, "Dear Dad" and "Dear Sis."

Off to bed...the master bath is finally warm...we gave in and bought a little electric space heater. James figures the big window just leaches out heat in winter; it's usually in the mid-50s in there in winter. With the heater it's more like high 60s or low 70s...much nicer after taking a shower!

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» Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Oh, Where, Oh, Where Has My Library Book Gone?
I love it:

Man Returns Library Book 99 Years Overdue

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» Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I decided to telework today and go in tomorrow, partially because I thought there was a meeting, mostly because of feeling so wretched yesterday. (Sometimes I go into work feeling badly, but it straightens out between ten o'clock and noon; yesterday, it never did. The only thing that made me feel vaguely better was having a candy cane; the peppermint settles my stomach some.)

I ended up taking three hours of sick leave this morning to sleep late, hoping it would help. I suppose it did, even though I felt like I accomplished nothing. At lunch I finally vacuumed those awful stairs and while I was downstairs, found some little green and red garland I bought last year at the dollar store. I draped one swag over the pendant light in the dining room, and used the other one on the mantel. We have so few Christmas cards that I strung a piece of tinsel cord under the mantel shelf and put the cards on it, and then strung the other garland along the cord. It looks very retro.

It also appears that the shade on the window next to the Christmas tree is dead. I had it up Saturday when I was decorating the tree, in order to see better, and forget and left it up. When I finally put it down on Sunday it seemed a little funky, and then flopped down all the way. I took it down gingerly, terrified of hitting the tree, and tried to fix the spring, but it's completely broken. Pity we can't just get the roller. I hate to waste the shade.

James made "Hawaiian pork chops" (with pineapple juice) for supper and then I put on some Christmas specials: the Hill Street Blues episode "Santa Claustrophobia" and the British special Christmas Past. I wish I could find a complete copy of the latter somewhere; according to a British film site, the special was originally 53 1/2 minutes long and the version I have, which aired on A&E (back when A&E had decent programming and not "reality" shows) is only 45 1/2 minutes...would love to see those missing 8 minutes! I'm pretty sure they talked more about the Christmas truce.

Late in the afternoon I developed a headache on the right side of my head near my ear. I get these occasionally, on both sides, and usually I take two extra-strength Tylenol and lie down in the dark and they go away. This one subsided, but never went away, and now is back, hurting all the way down to my neck. My right ear is ringing, too, and my teeth hurt. Headaches like this make me nervous, ever since my dad died. Suppose I need to get to bed.

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» Monday, December 14, 2009
Osama Bin Laden and Kim Jong-il should feel as bad as I do right now.

Sheesh, if I partied all day yesterday and drank myself into a stupor it might be explainable. But having just put tinsel on a Christmas tree and vacuuming up afterwards and making a bed does not equal "whooping it up."

A bad night's sleep does not help, however.



» Sunday, December 13, 2009
Forgot Something... say one more good night on chat, even though the person wasn't there in person.

I know she was there in spirit.

Good night, Dana. Happy Hanukkah!



Mostly Christmas
Most of this weekend's report is in Holiday Harbour, but something funny did happen tonight. James helped me change the bed (because the mattress weighs a ton) and we put on the new memory foam mattress pad I bought on Black Friday...about time; the box was at the foot of the bed and I've tripped on it at least once. Well, you have to unroll it and then put it into the zippered cover they provide for it. It feels so funny, like weird!



The Short Report
We're here. Just busy putting up the tree. Still have the tinsel to go.

And then I finally get to vacuum because it's no earthly use vacuuming until James brings the tree up and it scatters all its nice little artificial needles until we take it down again...

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» Friday, December 11, 2009
54-[Not]40, No Fighting :-)
So, when it's your birthday and you have the day off and you can do anything you like, what's the first thing to do?

Well, sleep late, of course. That's what us old folks do. (Well, unless there had been snow outside. If there was snow outside I could have turned 75 and it wouldn't have kept me in. <g>)

WalMart isn't exactly the place to go on your birthday, but I needed yogurt and other stuff, so I made a fun trip of it: stopped at Borders on the way to pick up the paperback copy of Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop. Of course got more than I went there for, including a new extension cord for the Christmas lights (finally).

I had my favorite Lean Cuisine for lunch and watched The House Without a Christmas Tree. I could just walk into this house and be at home, warm and safe: I remember relatives with older houses and a cooking range like Grandma's with the warming shelf and the stovepipe disappearing in the wall, beadboard cabinets, the elaborate wallpaper, the squat refrigerator with the door latch you had to remove after you disposed of it, Morris chairs...and that classroom with all the woodwork! Just like Hugh B. Bain!

Had to rearrange the decorations on the room divider somewhat as I found the proper ones in the box with the Rudolph tree, and put up the Rudolph tree and the little Christmas decorations in the spare room, and coupled the little Italian resin tree from Gatlinburg last year and the little Scottish resin tree from Gatlinburg this year as a decoration for our bedroom. I stretched to put one decoration up on a shelf and it fell and boinked me on the temple...ouch. Luckily it wasn't that heavy.

Been feeling restless and a little depressed for the rest of the afternoon. James was home late after stopping on the way home to get me some birthday surprises: a tiny glass owl, a USB decoration of fiber-optic stars, and a chickadee tea towel (very pretty embroidered design!), and a USB enclosure for my old disk drive.

Something funny happened this afternoon. I went downstairs to put the Rudolph tree box back in the closet and something was vibrating in James' hobby room. I couldn't figure out what it was. It sounded closest near his Ott light. I pulled the plug and it still kept humming! Well, when he got home he looked around on the desk and it turned out it was an embossing tool that was next to the light! We have no idea how it got turned on.

Oh, phooey. I hate feeling like this. I'm gonna put John Denver and the Muppets on...

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» Thursday, December 10, 2009
All Tired Out
Busy day. Did two orders, trying to determine whether I can do another or not, doing research on another, answered yet more questions about invoices that I don't even pay, did payment authorizations and discovered that one I put in last week doesn't seem to be there this week. All this and shuttling the truck to the car place and getting driven home and then getting driven back and coming home (I came home by Lowes because the temperature is dropping like the proverbial rock and those poor birds are going to need suet tomorrow). Oh, the tire had a nail and they were able to fix it; no new tire!

During lunch I found out Netflix had, via online view, that odd Christmas movie I saw two years ago, North Station. So now I've seen it all; still very strange, with a very Gallic Santa Claus (it's a French-Canadian film, dubbed into English) who spends half of the film depressed, but it has a weird, wacky charm all its own. I even finally found out why Bianca was so hacked off at Cathy the elf.

Watched a documentary I had been looking out for—they even featured it on Today this morning—on BBC America tonight: Pedigreed Dogs Revealed. I knew dog breeds were being cocked up by the American Kennel Club, but I didn't realize the British Kennel Club was doing the same thing. They even had some asinine judge saying that those horrible, ugly sloping hindquarters they breed now on German Shepherd dogs are "breed standards." Oh, get real, you git! Look at British and American Kennel Club photos from 80-100 years ago. Sheps had straight backs. And Basset Hounds and Dachshunds had longer legs, Bulldogs have longer noses, Yorkshire Terriers were terriers and not toy dogs, Pekingeses didn't look like ambulatory dust mops, etc. How is changing the dog "preserving the breed"? And the hindquarters on modern German Shepherd show dogs are hideous. The dog doesn't trot, it shambles. It's disgusting to have ruined such a beautiful breed.

The worst part was watching these poor Cavalier King Charles spaniels with a condition where their brains are too big for their skulls. Some of the dogs suffer hideous pain. All because some "dog lover" wants to make the animal look more "puppyish." Why don't they breed their own children for smaller skulls and larger brains? God, they'd look cute, wouldn't they, while they were writhing in pain!

Now watching Being Neil Armstrong, with Andrew Smith, the gentleman who wrote Moondust.

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» Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Cookies, Chores and Those Damn Lights
We had a combination Homeowners Association meeting/cookie swap tonight. Pleasant, even if I was as tired as all get out: besides working I finished the decorations on the divider, did a load of laundry, tidied up the hall (there's no use sweeping it until James brings the tree upstairs), and finally put up the decorations in the foyer. This would have taken less time if the %@$!$!$! lights had not been burned out on the miniatures tree! I was done just in time to change clothes and run next door. I haven't baked a darn thing yet, so we brought Pepperidge Farm ginger family cookies and Peppermint Jo-Jos.

Spent the rest of the evening watching Schuyler's favorite show (Ellen) and harvesting crops in Farmville. They have snow you can buy!

Oh, we managed to get the tire on the truck pumped up. James stopped and got a hose and a air pressure tap so he could use it on the air compressor he uses for his airbrush, but the poor thing wasn't up to the task. We actually got it up to 20psi using the bicycle pump!

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Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall
Frankly, I'm sick of water...or too much of it, anyway.

As always yesterday morning, I made a "pit stop" before I left the house—making sure I can get through the 40 minute drive—and when I flushed the toilet clogged up. The plunging only resulted in water all over the floor; I mopped it up with paper towels which I left in plastic bags near the remind me that everything now needs scrubbing earlier than its usual weekend cleaning. Gah.

Driving home was a sloshy, chill mess, with traffic backed up on the downtown connector all the way past the GA400 onramp (over 2 miles)—at least I wasn't on I-285 westbound, which looked like autumn trees at peak on the traffic map: all reds, oranges, and yellows! I called James on the way home to ask him to take "Woody"—the wooden reindeer with the tree branch antlers that's on the front lawn—inside, as they were talking about a possible 3 to 4 inches of rain! The long ride was assuaged slightly by the fact that Holiday Pops is finally on the air. When Smoky Robinson or Elvis get too lugubrious on "Holiday Traditions," I can swap to "Holiday Pops" and hear orchestral and choral Christmas music.

When I got home James was in a swivet because he's suspected his right rear tire had a slow leak for a couple of weeks as he's had to add air to it twice; well, he didn't check it in the last few days and now it was nearly flat, so he was looking forward to having to change it after supper. Putting the spare on from the truck involves having to get it out of its sling underneath the chassis—a chilling job on a rainy 40-degree evening. Since I'm teleworking today and tomorrow, I told him to take my car today. He's going to stop at Vickery Hardware on the way home and see if he can get an adaptor for his air compressor. Since it's a slow leak, if we can get enough air in the tire to stay in the tire during the 2-or-so mile drive from our house to West Cobb tire, I can take it there tomorrow and get a new one put on without having to resort to the spare.

Had a horrible night's sleep—weather radio blaring tornado watches at all hours—and then woke up to the glorious revelation that Willow had left a puddle in the kitchen. Well, at least it wasn't on the rug.

If the day couldn't get even more miserable, I just found out my cousin Anthony died. After I left home and my dad died, my cousin Anna and her husband Anthony and their kids were always mainstays for my mom. Was she too sick to shop for groceries? Something wrong with the car? They were always there. Anthony never refused Mom anything. If he couldn't do it, he'd find a way to get it done. He was a teddy bear of a man, almost always in smiles, ready to tease you. Sadly, Anthony inherited Parkinson's disease from his mother. (I remember his mom at family gatherings when I was a child, sitting in a chair and endlessly trembling. You wanted to hug her.) He also developed Alzheimer's disease, so for the past...oh, it's at least been ten years...he's been in a world of his own, hardly comprehending the world around him. It's a tragedy with anyone, but it was especially hard to see Anthony's vibrant personality disappear to be replaced with helplessness.

If you have a little extra money today, please consider donating it to Alzheimer's research. It's a nasty disease that robs people of themselves.

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» Monday, December 07, 2009
Trim Up the House
We had an eventful Sunday.

Oh, it wasn't just putting up the outside lights, which we finished at 6 p.m., late enough to see how good they looked. LOL. Putting up the lights wasn't the end, you see, since I had to decorate the rest of the porch as well with the stuffed Santas and garlands. Earlier, in the morning, I had been working on decorating the kitchen and the dining room, but finally we just needed to go to the grocery store, so off we went, first to BJs and then to Kroger.

Oh, in the middle of that we bought new cell phones—not only new cell phones, but Droids.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm the one that's always been the cynic about cell phones, and why you would want a smart phone. Funny what being stuck on a cold, dark, spooky train platform in Pennsylvania watching your scheduled train notice vanish in thin air will do for you.

And, okay, it's cool, too, especially the GPS. And the local business finder, and the Christmas music station...

Meanwhile, after five hours sleep, I went tramping off to work this morning. Still juggling two problems, at least one of which I don't understand because I had no part of it. Came home feeling like I hadn't eaten in a week and sleepy as all get out. Nevertheless, I finished putting up the ceppo, the little display of stuffed Christmas creatures on the landing, and the Christmas village, so I can look at it and daydream of stepping back in time. Was putting the village up while watching Ride a Wild Pony on the Hallmark Movie Channel. I don't think I've seen this movie since it was released in the theatre: a poor Australian boy and a rich landowner's daughter (who has been paralyzed by polio) clash over the ownership of a Welsh pony that the wild little boy calls "Taff" and the imperious, but secretly lonely, girl named "Beau." It's a nice character piece, and no cloying miracle like the little girl walking happens at the end.

In the meantime Castle is over, and it's time for bed.

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» Sunday, December 06, 2009
New Toy
Know how I said I'd never be interested much in cell phones?

Times indeed change!



» Saturday, December 05, 2009
D for Disposal—the gifts and cards were all mailed this morning. Not only that, but we were behind only two people in line! I've never seen that few people in the Marietta post office! And we got there just in time, because about a dozen people came in behind us.

D for Discovery—the Farmer's Market is still open! It will be going until the 19th. And they had a tent for them today; a good thing, because it was in the 30s this morning with a brisk wind. Brr and all that. Sadly, we didn't get one snowflake from the precipitation they predicted; heck, not even a raindrop. We bought fresh veggies, some goat cheese, and a baguette, and got free pedometers from the local hospital. A Christmas tree seller was outside the tent with the most wonderful smelling trees. Pity I'm allergic. We walked to and from the tent through Glover Park, where there's a Santa cottage set up for the kids and a big Christmas tree, and luminaria lining the walks.

D for Decorating—because that's what I did all afternoon. James dropped me off at home and went to the hobby shop, and I started to decorate. I wanted to start with the foyer, but I couldn't get that box down. So I decorated the library tree and got the airplane tree and the woodland tree out. By the time James got home, I was almost done with the library tree (he finished one more ornament for me, a horse representing the Piebald in National Velvet and put the table into place), and then I decorated the woodland tree and he did the airplane tree, except for the garland, which gave me fits and I abandoned in favor of having something to eat, having not had any lunch.

D for Dinner—since we were going to the other side of town tonight anyway, James took me out for my birthday dinner a little early. We went to the Colonnade, of course. I had the turkey, of course. It was nice, leisurely, and we had a marvelous waiter.

D for Delight—since tonight was the first of two performances of "An Atlanta Christmas" by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company at the Academy Theatre in Avondale Estates. This is a tiny little theatre behind the main street, and as usual we missed the street because it looks like a back alley! On the way there we stopped at Book Nook [used book store] and I found an anthology of Christmas science fictions stories Christmas Forever, a sequel to Christmas Stars, which I have in paperback) and a British book about budgies with full-color plates.

James bought me a cocoa and we chatted with Caran until the performance began. The first half of the show contained the more historical stories and the bittersweet "Are You Lonely Tonight?" (one of my two favorites) and the second half of the show highlighted the funnier pieces, including "Legend of the Poinsettia" (in which the fourth Wise Man tries to give the Baby Jesus a poinsettia) and the sequel to "Are You Lonely Tonight?"

Good grief. Neil turns twenty tomorrow. I remember holding him when he wasn't even a day old. Yow. But I did get an idea for his brother; when I buy that, I will be done with gifts. All the rest I've had for a while.

And D for Desist: Resting now; on chat. Great day, especially dinner and the show!

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» Friday, December 04, 2009
In Fall the Christmas Fairy Never Sleeps
Gah! Stop the merry-go-round so I can get some sleep!

Yesterday was all about work. I did another order, and tried to explain to a vendor why we can only pay maintenance fees in arrears. (Well, because it's a law. A Washington DC type law.) Prepped some other orders to go. And ate at my desk, again, because during what should have been my lunch hour I was moving out all the fall items and putting them in boxes preparatory to decorating for Christmas.

But before the decorating...comes finishing the Christmas letter to go in with some of the Christmas cards, which must be labeled, stuffed, and stamped. And some of the Christmas cards must go into packages which must be also be packed, taped, and labeled.

So what I did Thursday night was write the letter, and it was pretty much finished when we went to bed.

This morning, like an idiot, I thought maybe I could finish it and print the letters and pack the cards into the gifts and mail them today on the way to the Apple Annie Craft Show.

This moment of insanity fizzled out about 8:30 a.m. I had to fish or cut bait; I couldn't do both. So I headed to Apple Annie, feeling guilty about wanting to go have fun.

When I arrived at St. Ann's Church, no one was parking on Roswell Road yet, but the parking lot was full, as well as the lot across the street. The policeman directing traffic said you could park at the church down the street and take a shuttle. Except I didn't feel like sitting in a school bus for a half hour waiting for it to be full enough. I did that during the Smoke Rise show.

So I decided to do my other errands in the area and then come back. If there was parking then, so be it.

I started at Borders. I was looking for a book for a gift, but didn't know what to get. Instead I bought A Christmas Miscellany and, since it appears I never met a linguistics book I didn't like, a British book on the remainder shelf, The Story of English, as well as the winter Birds and Blooms and...oh, my ears and whiskers, the December issue of the British Country Living. How did that happen? It usually comes in around the 10th to the 15th!

From there I stopped at Bed, Bath and Beyond for a small purchase, then went on to Michaels. I wanted to get some decorative unbreakable baubles for the wreath on the front door. I had always deliberately under-decorated it because I wanted lights on it. Well, since I can't seem to keep a working string of lights on it, I might as well fill it out a little. I bought two large red baubles, and three each green and blue ones. (Put them on tonight after we got home. Not bad.)

Next, Trader Joe's, stocking up until Twelfth Night: peppermint Joe-Joes (like Oreos, only with candy cane crumbs in the creme), almond bark, peppermint bark, chips for James, oyster crackers, a few other things. Then Hallmark. The other two musical houses were out; James is going to make a display on his desk at work. I had a $5 off coupon they sent me for my birthday and innumerable Gold Crown reward coupons, so I pretty much got them for free.

Then I headed back to St. Ann's. It was after noon and, sure enough, there were many spots in the parking lot. The past two years they were putting an addition on the church and parking was at a premium, and the rent-a-cops wouldn't let me in the parking lot, saying it was full, even though I could see a dozen empty spaces, which is how I ended up parking on Roswell Road for two years in a row.

This is a juried craft show, so only the best crafts end up being here. I bought a few small things—a pine cone star, a twig star, a tiny basket with tinier pine cones in it—and was not about to spend a large amount of money until I came upon a vendor who grows her own papyrus, turns it into paper, and does marvelous calligraphy on it, like illuminated medieval manuscripts. She had a lovely one, trimmed in a small drawing of the Holy Family and surrounded in holly. I was mesmerized. Of course I couldn't afford one made of the real papyrus, but bought a print of it. What I bought was this verse, but stylistically done more like this. It's breathtaking.

Also bought a little sheep wreath from a vendor who did assorted primitive items.

Finally headed home, but stopped at the home of the "prim lady," who was having a sale today. I got the cutest little white Christmas tree, about a foot high on a wooden base, with pipe cleaner candy canes at the end of each branch, for ONE DOLLAR. Can't beat that with a stick.

Oh, I did stop at the post awful on Lower Roswell Road to get my Christmas card stamps and ran into a funny. A lady in front of me had a box that she was just about to mail when she said "Oh, I guess I need to repack this." I saw that a corner was loose and was about to say "They'll tape that for you," when I noticed it was wet, too. She said it was a fruitcake and apparently the rum was seeping out, took the box and left. The lady behind me in line looked at me and I looked at her and I said, "Wow. I hope she doesn't let people drive after they eat that fruitcake!" Imagine, there's so much rum in it it's leaking out of the box!!!!

Also got gasoline and, oh yeah, finally got the car inspected.

When I got home I went back to finishing and printing out the letter, but at that point it was time for James to come home. We had supper at Williamson Barbecue and then went to Bruster's for dessert: James had peppermint ice cream with crunchy candy cane bits in it and I had cappucino, which has a faint taste of cinnamon in it. I burped up cinnamon and barbecue sauce all night. Sigh.

On the way home we drove through Life University, which is brave with "the Lights of Life" once again. They have about half shifted over to LED lights and, lordy, is it bright! I notice that with regular lights the blue ones have the faintest color; in the LED ones the blues are the brightest!

And from when we got home to a quarter to Monk's series finale, I printed letters, put them in cards, put all the cards in envelopes, printed the labels, covered the labels with tape because the #$!%!$!$ printer ink won't fuse to the labels (even though they are laser printer labels), put on the stamps, put the cards that went with packages with the packages, taped up the packages, labeled the packages...argh. You know, I love giving gifts. It's one of the joys in my life. But I really, really, really despise prepping packages for mailing.

And finally at quarter to midnight, I could log onto chat where the four of us (James, Rodney, Jen and I) were about to watch the very last Monk...

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» Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Wet Weather and Work
Yesterday, fog. Today, rain.

Not exactly bone-chilling winter rain, since it was in the high forties, low fifties. But it was a gully-washer at one point: I looked out the bedroom window and there was a river starting at the downspout and heading to the gate in the back yard.

It was a typical workday; mostly what I was doing was a temp service order. I had Christmas music playing and a Yankee Candle Roasted Coffee scent burning, so it was pleasant. Leftover turkey soup for lunch, which I actually ate at my desk, because during my lunch hour I had to run to the library to get the book I put on reserve (Harriet Reisen's Louisa May Alcott, which was just released), and then brought the storage boxes upstairs preparatory to putting the fall things in them, and then oiled and buffed the dining room table (it's natural wood, so you don't polish it, you treat it occasionally with food-safe mineral oil). After James arrived home, I ironed the new runner for the table and put it down. It isn't all decorated yet, but the new, lighter runner looks very nice.

I also pulled all the gifts out of the closet to sort out the ones that need to be mailed soon, and wrapped James' gifts to keep them covert, and about half the gifts that will be mailed. I discovered that the "tinsel cord" that I bought at Michaels was actually elastic ribbon, which was cool, since I can't put bows on the packages I send in the mail.

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» Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Fog and Fire [Trucks]
Wow, had a full range of events this morning already and it's not even 8 a.m.

If it had been Christmas Eve this morning (there's a good trick! LOL), Santa Claus would have needed to add Rudolph to the hitch. I almost expected to hear the bawling of Point Judith light in the distance. The fog gave the entire neighborhood a surreal look, especially where they're digging up to [presumably] widen the road. They held the official tree-lighting in downtown Smyrna last night, so the library/civic center/rotary area looked like a Christmas painting by Monet.

The fog parted on Spring Road and it was amazingly clear, until I went back of the mall and approached the river; then it was back in smoky masses. The traffic on I-75 south looked like it was disappearing into a indistinct abyss.

The east side of town was clear, with ribbed high clouds above. This caught the sunrise and made the eastern sky all shades of orange and purple. If "red sky at morning" color indicates future weather, tomorrow's rain will be a whopper.

So I get to work and there's a fire truck parked in the main drive and everyone's outside sitting in their cars. Apparently a fire alarm went off; something about a fuse box abnormality. I didn't dare go back to the car; I was woken from a sound sleep this morning (how sound? James said Willow barked all night—I didn't hear her) and would have been tempted to go right back. Eventually stood out there chatting to a former branch member (hi, Sharon!) until she had to leave and a few minutes later the fire personnel emerged and drove off.

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Old-Fashioned Christmas Stories...
...all December long in Tales from St. Nicholas.

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