Yet Another Journal

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

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

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» Sunday, July 31, 2011
For a day where I didn't have a lot planned, I did get a bunch of things done.

#1—Sleep late. Sleep will be at a premium until September 30.

Skim milk, oatmeal, and yogurt accompanied by budgie chirps. Perfect breakfast.

On Friday after eating supper at Folks, we went to MicroCenter to pick up a new enclosure for my old hard drive, which I use for backup. The prong that connected the box itself to the USB connector cord had broken off. Well, I thought it was an IDE drive. Nope, it was a SATA drive. So we took the enclosure back around noon. I also picked up another package of DVD holders. Last year I had found some great six-DVD holders to hold my self-recorded DVDs (stuff I have recorded off TV back as far as 1980). They really helped organize that collection, but there was little extra room. Well, MicroCenter had six-DVD cases that were even thinner, the size of a regular DVD case. Wow. I could actually have some room in the cabinet.

So basically what I did all afternoon was put the DVDs in the new cases, trimming the covers when I could, making and printing new ones if I couldn't. And I can still see things I can concatinate, like various Christmas specials, so I want another package of them.

Plus I put the hard drive in the case and did a backup of my hard drive and cut coupons.

While that was going on we listened to a "Splendid Table" podcast, then caught up on three weeks of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."

James assembled strawberries for dessert for later in the week, replaced the intake filter for the A/C, and made supper from some homemade turkey soup we had to take out of the freezer to get the beef in. Yum. We usually save the soup for when it's cold or when we're sick, so this was kind of a treat.

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» Saturday, July 30, 2011
Lunch at BJs and Other Stories
Dang. I did not mean us to stay up so late last night. But Leno had Gillian Anderson on and I had not seen her in ages, and they did the funniest segment: it was a film about American History comprised of "Jaywalking" segments, done in a pseudo-Ken-Burns style. From this film we learned John Wayne fought alongside Davey Crockett at the Alamo, George Washington gave the Gettysburg Address during World War II, the British rode on Paul Revere's ride, and other idiocy.

So I wasn't really happy to be woken this morning by the alarm clock. Nevertheless, we went to the Farmer's Market. The sky was perfectly clear, and even at 8:55 the sun was merciless. It was as if it had claws and dug its way into your skin. This was odd because there was a nice breeze and if you were in the shade it wasn't all that bad. So we squinted our way through the market, buying potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, a pot pie, and homemade cookies.

From the market we went to Kroger to pick up things for the week, including some bird seed to refresh the can for Schuyler's wild cousins. While James put the groceries up, I went outside on the porch to refill the feeders. I'm not going to buy seed at Kroger any longer; or at least that particular seed. First the black oil sunflower seeds are so big that they are jamming my small feeders. Also, I just noticed the seeds come with crasins and bits of fruit in it. No wonder I'm finding bees at the feeder!

We didn't stay home all that long, but got some coupons together and went back out. The cloudless sky was now scattered with big, white fluffy clouds that reminded me of bedtime.

James has been feeling discontented with his bank for some time, and has been researching credit unions. He made his decision last week and today we went to the LGE credit union (what was formerly the Lockheed Credit Union; it's now for anyone who's a resident of Cobb County) to open an account. After his direct deposit starts going there, he will close out his other account.

From there we went to the hobby shop, where I finished up A Discovery of Witches, and then we drove to BJs in Woodstock. We were within one serving of being out of beef and two away from being out of pork, and since we had coupons for other things, we decided to go.

Hadn't thought about lunch in the meantime and it turned out we didn't have to. BJs was having some sort of "Taste of" festival featuring neighboring food places. We had part of a ham sandwich from Atlanta Bread Company, some barbecue and sides from a barbecue place, their new breakfast oatmeal (steel cut oats!) from Chik-Fil-A, orange chicken from Panda Express, some fajita beef and chicken from a Hispanic market, salsa and chips, apple pie, and cake.

Plus we got some shopping done, too.

We emerged from BJs to find the sky boiling over with grey clouds. We didn't get caught in any hard rain, but a few big splats hit the windshield now and then as we came home with our booty. After a drink, we separated the sliced pork loin and the sliced bottom round and somehow wedged it all in the freezer along with the Jamaican meat patties.

To get the meat in, we had to dig out some leftovers, so we had some of the brown-sugar pork loin for supper, and strawberries over dessert shells with whipped cream for dessert.

I'm now traveling in time. I got a wild hare and ordered the first season of McMillan and Wife from Netflix; it includes the 1971 pilot movie. Hard to believe this is 40 years old.

Well, except when you see the 70s fashions! Most of Sally's clothes are still quite chic (well, there are those crazy-quilt pants she's wearing in the first episode), but oh, those men's fashions of the 1970s! In one sequence Mac is going to a party and wearing a tux. The tux has big round spots all over the jacket, shiny where the rest of the jacket was satin, plus he had a ruffled front on his shirt.

Notice this was co-written by Chester Krumholz, who later produced Dr. Simon Locke, co-starring Jack Albertson, who is also in the pilot film. I don't think Albertson was speaking to Krumholz after his year on Locke was over, though. :-)

(Oh, we did have some excitement this morning. Last night a fly and a wasp got into the house. We killed the fly, but the wasp disappeared. I was terrified James would get stung, even if his sting kit was nearby. And I've never been stung by a wasp or a bee; with my unpredictable allergy, anything could happen.

The wasp had not shown itself this morning, but after I took the bird seed out on the deck, when I came back in, there was the wasp on the doorknob. I shrieked for James, who rolled up the Noble Catalog that had come in the mail and dispatched the wasp with one smack.

I guess Harry Potter really is magic. LOL.)

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» Friday, July 29, 2011
What a Week!
The purchase orders are in deluge mode.

Plus I was in conflict with someone yesterday afternoon and had to call in help this morning. I hate doing this. Everyone is as busy as, if not busier than, me.

And now there's a frippin' wasp in the house.

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» Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The Simple Woman's Daybook
FOR TODAY, JULY 27, 2011

Outside my window...
...bright sun, as for something different, I am writing at lunchtime. Birds fluttering from feeder to feeder.

I am thinking...
...that it's nice to stop for lunch for a change! It seems I always have something to do: laundry, errands, a lie-down from a sinus headache, or I work through lunch to get finished early.

I am thankful for... in last week, air conditioning! We had a couple of days of 80s and now it's headed up into the 90s again. I feel unbelievably claustrophobic in the summer because I can't tolerate the heat. Always boxed in. Had to run outside earlier to open the gate for the exterminator—already stuffy!

From the learning rooms...
...just finished Into That Silent Sea, a book about the early days of the space program. Most of the books I have of this type concentrate on the American Mercury program; nearly half this book examines the Russian Vostok space flights, with long stories about Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova, etc. Excellent.

From the kitchen...
...just had a leftover pork chop while watching Rick Steves. Nothing remarkable about it, just a nice plain grilled chop.

I am wearing...
...gosh, don't you get tired of asking? Blue tank top, aqua shorts, and terry cloth scuffs.

I am creating...
...advertisements! Really, I have a whole pile of them to do today!

I am going... keep plugging at this till James gets home (and if he gets home early, until 5 p.m.) You would not believe how many orders I have! (No, if you read this blog regularly in the would! LOL.)

I am reading...
...just got Alice Ozma's The Reading Promise from the library. Still working on The Wilderness Warrior and A Discovery of Witches, and the new Woman's Day just turned up in my Nook. Wow, didn't realize it was time for another already.

I have already decided that since Borders is going bye-bye I am finally going to subscribe to Yankee and Early American Life. I buy every issue, so in the long run it will save me money.

I am hoping...
...that my neck will feel even better tomorrow. I was home yesterday feeling useless with my neck knotted up again. I didn't mind having a stiff neck, but the sharp pain any time I turned my head or tilted it back was quite daunting. I tried going into work, and got about three miles before I realized I could not drive safely because I was unable to move my head properly. Today it is just stiff; while it hurts when I turn it, I don't get the sharp pain, or the pain in my temple when I put on my glasses. Arthritis is a right pain in the...well, you get it.

I am hearing...
...watching an OLD Julia Child show on the Cooking channel.

Around the house...
...air conditioner's on, ceiling fan on high overhead, I have a dirty dish, fork, and knife to put up, behind me Schuyler is gnawing on something, and Willow is lying on her dog blanket and grooming herself.

One of my favorite things...
...Rick Steves! Just downloaded a bunch of his "Travels" radio series. I like listening to them on the way home from work. He goes to the best places! How I'd love to see the British Museum and the Book of Kells! Today, however, on television, he was in Venice, which is funny since we're in the middle of watching the Zen mysteries on Masterpiece Mystery. The protagonist, police detective Aurelio Zen, is Venetian.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
More advertisements! More purchase orders! Certainly a headache, since during end-of-fiscal-year it's inevitable. No weekend plans except for Hair Day until Dragoncon, unless we find out James isn't working the day of Phyllis' birthday party.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

It's a video. It's funny and absolutely horrifying at the same time.

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook



» Sunday, July 24, 2011
Up late last night talking with Mike and Jen of many things, including how boring shopping malls are now that they're mostly clothes and shoes. (Oh, and purse stores...snore...)

After breakfast it was the usual trip to Kroger for the usual supplies—bananas, yogurt, milk, something thawed for Sunday supper, even a small bag of birdseed to supplant what's left in the storage can (the birds are now bringing their offspring to the feeders; sometimes the crowd is like Mother's Day at Twin Oaks Restaurant in Cranston <g>), and those other extras that present themselves when you go to the grocery store (since we had a $2 coupon off if you spent $10 on dairy, James stocked up on shredded cheddar).

We put up the perishables, then went to Costco for Breathe-Rights and some other things we had coupons for, mostly non-perishables we can stock away. For lunch we had samples (Bagel Bites, hummus, lobster and crab spread, cheese and crackers), then came home. I mostly read for the rest of the afternoon, but had QVC's annual "Christmas in July" feature on. The folks on my online Christmas group swear by this event, and I must admit that the cooking supplies, especially the great food processor, and the battery-operated lights were interesting. A few things were dumb, like a cookie jar that looked like a purse, and the toys were dull, but then we don't have grandkids to buy for. Eventually we ended up watching the end of the ComicCon coverage, and got to see both John Barrowman and Nathan Fillion interviewed.

While James fixed supper I cleaned out both bathrooms and gave the carpet yet another vacuuming, and now I'm watching programming on the Science Channel about Alaska. Schuyler is busy responding to her cousins above the tree line. :-)

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» Saturday, July 23, 2011
In the Dark of the Afternoon and the Light of the Evening
Realized a few days ago we had two different things planned for today, so acted accordingly: we slept in. I got up to take some ibuprofin at eight thirty and thought I'd have a few more winks; next thing I knew Willow was woofing softly and it was ten o'clock.

We had breakfast and read comics until about 12:30, when we left for the hobby shop. Only spent a few minutes there as we were headed back to midtown and this month's "Meet'n'Greet" with the BritTrack folks from DragonCon. There was a sizable art festival going on along Ponce de Leon near the Fernbank Museum, lining a good portion of the right side of the road, and it really had traffic snarled, so we had barely arrived at the Marlay House, sat down in the "snug" with Rob Bowen, Caro McCully and the others, and had just gotten something to drink when the power flickered, hiccuped, then went out.

It was out for an hour, but we "made do." First we moved out of the snug and to the front of the pub, where there were windows and more light. There was no light or power in the kitchen, so they couldn't fix us any food, but they did have soup already made, so each had a bowl of that, creamy turkey vegetable with bread and butter on the side. Yum! Later after the power came on, we each had a beef brisket "slider." That was quite good, too, but the barbecue sauce "repeated" on me all afternoon.

However, the company made up for the blackout. We talked about Torchwood, Doctor Who, Martin Landau doing a Space: 1999 panel at DragonCon, the D*Con parade, and all matter of fun fannishness. The gathering broke up about four, and we headed home by going the "long" way, east to I-285, then south on I-85 and north on I-75 (since there was construction on I-285 westbound) rather than face the tangled mess on Ponce again.

Came home long enough to give Willow an airing, to talk to Schuyler, and to each have a sandwich and a drink before heading out again.

Louis Robinson was performing at Ragamuffin Music Hall tonight along with Jimmy Galloway and Pat Walsh, so we'd decided to go over a month ago. And so we did. It was a fun evening—each of them performing in turn. Again, it was a nice mix of folk and bluegrass and blues. Jimmy Galloway sure can pick! His fingers move over those guitar strings like lightning. Pat Walsh played both a six-string guitar and four-string tenor guitar. Louis Robinson did all of his standards, including the haunting "For Ireland" and the sweet "My Dear." (All three can be found on YouTube, although Pat Walsh warns that there is also a wrestler by that name and you should add "tenor guitar" to his search.)

We drove there and back listening to The Splendid Table, having spent an enjoyable day.

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» Friday, July 22, 2011
It's been a blue week here. In addition to Borders closing and this being the final flight of the space shuttle, more importantly today is the sixth anniversary of my mother's death. In addition, the purchase orders have tumbled in like a rockslide, as they always do at this time of year, but it doesn't make it any less unsettling.

James had some Borders credits left over, so we did head out there Wednesday evening to use one last coupon. With a touch of nostalgia, I used it on The King's Best Highway: The Lost History of the Boston Post Road (must have been all those trips as a kid to Ann & Hope on Post Road), and also a couple of books off the remainder shelves, Homework for Grownups and Sunnyside, a novel about the silent movie era that I was interested in because one of the subplots is about Lee Duncan, the man who found and trained Rin Tin Tin.

Ironically, when I woke up this morning, it was the first time in two days that my nose wasn't stuffed and my throat didn't hurt. This was good because I wanted to run out and do my errands and get back before it was really hot. (I went out at quarter to nine; it never was cool.) So I grabbed a SlimFast bar and my JoAnn coupons, jumped in the Patriot, and drove up to Town Center.

(Oh, yeah, the Patriot. When I backed out of the driveway last week I noticed droplets of transmission fluid under where the car had been parked. Since my extended warranty runs out on Sunday, I wanted to get that fixed "toot sweet"! So Wednesday I took off a couple of hours annual leave to take my car to the dealership, and came home with a rental car, a Jeep Patriot.)

Half of what I picked up at JoAnn was already on clearance, but I did get to use the coupons for some evenweave fabric and Command hooks. From there I went to Barnes & Noble with their skinflint little 15 percent off coupon, but did find something intriguing to spend it on, Harry Potter and History, as well as a "Reader's Digest" book of deals for people over fifty.

Came home via Publix, which had instant oatmeal on twofers. Also stocked up on Knorr sides, granola bars, and deodorant. I bought six boxes of oatmeal; would have bought more, but didn't want to clean out the shelf of lower sugar maple flavor. Instead I came home, started to have lunch, but instead dubbed off the last of How the States Got Their Shapes. I was almost done when James phoned to say he was being sprung early. Now, as soon as I'd arrived home, I'd downloaded e-mail. Last evening we'd received a farewell e-mail from Borders; today they were already advertising "up to 40 percent off."

So we went back out to East Cobb. It was only the magazines that were 40 percent off, but we got a few we like but don't usually buy: "Renaissance," "Mental Floss," some aviation magazines, plus summer issues of "Country Sampler" and "Birds and Blooms" (I usually only buy the autumn and winter ones). The history books were only 20 percent off, but I bought James a book about the Battle of the Atlantic that he'd looked at on Wednesday. He also found two Tintin books, and a cheap set of DVDs about the history of civil aviation (the DVDs were 20 percent off).

On the way home we stopped at the Johnson Ferry Road Publix for more oatmeal; now I have a good supply. Plus we bought submarine sandwiches from Firehouse Subs for supper, since by the time we got home through the traffic it was almost suppertime anyway. Then about 5:30 we got the call that the car was ready, so we went and got it.

This evening we have been watching the Blu-Ray of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Only one bad thing about Blu-Ray: there's one scene in particular where you can really see where Bill Shatner's hair ended and his toupee started... :-) Otherwise it's a beautiful print, with some interesting extras.

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» Thursday, July 21, 2011
The Simple Woman's Daybook
FOR TODAY, JULY 21, 2011

Outside my window...
...more watery sunlight and already in the 70s and humid. A couple of birds fluttering around the feeders.

I am thinking... tired I am and that the deluge of purchase orders has just begun. I no sooner woke up this morning than I started to cough and sneeze. Why when I spent most of my day doing nothing but staring at a computer. Not sure if someone at Enterprise Rent-a-Car had germs or if it were someone at Borders, or if this has been incubating. I'm really feeling quite wretched right now. Have taken some ibuprofin and will drink more water.

I am thankful for...
...being inside. The heat and the humidity is very tiring.

From the learning rooms...
...I'm reading Into That Silent Sea, a history of both the American Mercury program and the early Soviet missions. I'm learning quite a bit about the Russian cosmonauts and their space program.

From the kitchen...
...empty of food except for the Trader Joe's chocolate cake and some homemade cookies from the Farmer's Market. The latter is dessert tonight.

I am wearing... tank top and shorts and the blue scuffs. Wish I were wearing a blankie and in bed.

I am creating...
...purchase orders. Frankly feeling too dispirited to do anything else.

I am going... feel better, I hope! Will take more analgesics later and keep drinking water. Maybe it's only my stupid allergy.

I am reading...
...Changes by Jim Butcher, Into That Silent Sea (part of the history of spaceflight series), and still reading through The Wilderness Warrior, A Discovery of Witches, and A History of the World in 6 Glasses.

I am hoping... get together with some friends this weekend. There's a Brittrack Meet'n'Greet again.

I am hearing...
...quiet right now. Very soon I'll put on a podcast or BBC4X to hear the last part of "Tomorrow, Today!" a comedy about a 1960s radio show about "the future": 2006!

Around the house...
...I just vacuumed yesterday, and the rug still looks like it needs another vacuuming. I need to change the bag on the vacuum cleaner, I think!

One of my favorite things...
...forgive me, right now all I can think of is my pillow and my blanket. Stupid nose and throat! Work, ibuprofin, work!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Vacuuming (she said darkly). Maybe trying to put the books away. :-) Sleeeeeeep.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

Two, actually:

Thanks for all the memories, guys: happiness, awe, knowledge, discovery, suspense. We'll miss you.

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook



» Wednesday, July 20, 2011
"The Green Thing"
Passed along by one of the folks on my Christmas list (BTW, don't think these are "1930s-1940s good old days" stuff: most of this went on well into the early 70s):

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right—our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts—wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house—not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?



» Monday, July 18, 2011
A Moment of Silence
Borders to Liquidate Remaining Stores



» Sunday, July 17, 2011
Sunday, Sunday...
Won't bore you too many of the morning details: we basically wandered Publix and Kroger more than an hour to find the best deals (we had to wait on James' prescriptions anyway). When we got home he wasn't feeling well, so we spent our Sunday inside. I packed up the Independence Day decorations—half were down, but I hadn't put them up yet—and read some of Queen of the Road, but mostly caught up on stuff that had been delayed by our Harry Potter movie marathon: Colour Confidential, a couple of Futurama episodes, the final How the States Got Their Shapes (for the season, we hope). I was particularly looking forward to the latter because of their discussing regional accents. Interesting that "tonic" as a word for soda is dying out in Massachusetts. You couldn't go there in the 1960s without hearing everyone say "tonic." Probably due to the homogenization they discussed near the end of the episode.

We had our usual summer supper tonight, chicken breast strips in a mixed greens salad with mandarin oranges, slivered almonds, and chow mein noodles, with Trader Joe's chocolate cake for dessert, then watched part two of Torchwood: Miracle Day. I've never been so on the fence about a series. I mean, I'm intrigued by what's going on, what part Pullman's character will play in this, who's behind the manipulation, etc. Did love Gwen's "I'm Welsh!" when she decked the rogue agent. But Myles and Barrowman have such small parts at this point, and Captain Jack isn't his usual larger-than-life self. It was disappointing.

Plus there's a charm to British programs that American-produced shows just can't seem to capture. They're more character-driven, more introspective, less about action and more about people and concepts. I'm thinking particularly of those chilling "closed door" scenes in Children of Earth where the government types are trying to figure out where the 10 percent of the children will come from. I've been a Anglophile of British programming since 1974 when Doctor Who first appeared on WGBH in Boston, and I've watched everything from The Good Life to All Creatures Great and Small to Lord Peter Wimsey. There's just something about the differing view of a British-produced program that I find irresistible. And so far parts one and two of Miracle Day have veered into the inevitable plotlines of the endless action films over the years where innocent characters are framed, conspiracy theories abound, and one doesn’t know who to trust. I've counted on British dramas not to lead me down that endlessly rutted path. (And...sigh...not the CIA again.)

I'm really hoping the next parts turn this feeling around. There's a good production team behind this series.

But right now this isn't the Torchwood I've "come to know and love."

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» Saturday, July 16, 2011
A Magical Saturday
We had one more Harry Potter film on Blu-ray last night.

But first we had supper at Shane's, and that was lovely! It was cool outside, cloudy, with a wonderful breeze, only in the mid-70s. We ate outside, where the breeze ruffled our hair and the paper towels, the only annoyance the fly that kept trying to light on our barbecue.

Then we went to Hobby Lobby, where I took delight in wandering through the aisles full of fall finery, and more aisles already being stocked with Christmas ornaments. I did buy three fall stems and a thin vase for them that I need to used glass paints on. These are small, fine, fiery leaves and also some pods.

Then we came home and watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. After all the goodies on the previous six Blu-Ray disks, this one was kind of a cheat: just the additional scenes and four minutes about the music! I hope the second disk has all the rest!

Of course they just want you to buy the ultimate editions...

I wish the movie had included the brief scene that explained the radio that Ron kept listening to, and the scene where Ron comes to after being splinched. I wanted the Dudley farewell scene, but I can see why they didn't use it: Dudley looks and acts silly. I can't imagine why they filmed it that way. It was a rather bittersweet scene in the book.

So this morning we were up at the crack of eight, and, after a brief detour to the bank, went to the Farmer's Market. This sojourn was even nicer than last night; it was all the way down in the mid-60s, cloudy, and a bit misty. Wore my hat and carried my umbrella as we bought some veggies and some cookies for next week's dessert, noshed on some samples. Came home by the bakery to get a couple of desserts for next week.

Once all the truck was put away, it was time for more magic: heading to the movie theatre to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. We got there a half hour early and sat reading our Nooks, although it was hard not to pay attention to the blaring pre-film entertainment. There was a preview for a new fall series that was quite arresting: it's called PanAm and it's about stewardesses in 1963, alà Mad Men.

And then we sat mesmerized for two hours. If the first film was buildup, this one was pretty much all action. Excellent effects—I hear it looks quite good in 3D—and enjoyable performances all 'round. The dragon looked marvelous; I was upset about the cruel way it had been treated! Around the halfway point I started to sniffle, and by the time the epilog rolled around I was in tears. Harry finally had what he wished for all his life.

There was a meme going around saying that when the credits were through, you should pull out a wand and shout "Mischief managed!" Well, we bought fake "wands" (Fourth of July glowsticks) but forgot them, but when the last word scrolled by, James put up his hand and said "Mischief managed!" with me as a faint echo. We were the last ones in the theatre, but three women, an older woman with two younger ones, had just come in for the next show, and one of the girls said, "See! I told you!" The older woman said, "Well, you can do it, too." LOL.

When we emerged from the theatre the clouds were clearing. We had lunch across the parking lot at Oriental Cafe, then went to the hobby shop for a while.

Finally to the second portion of today's magic: this is the weekend of the Hallmark Ornament Premiere. Looked through the catalog online some weeks ago and happily did not find too many things that I wanted. Some ornaments will not be released until October, too. Ended up getting eight things, including James' airplane for this year. Still thinking about the Irish angel, which is quite lovely.

We also went to Borders, but the trips are getting funereal. James read that what's left of the store is in big trouble. It looks as if the only one who will be buying the business will be liquidators. It's like losing a close friend. Heck, I've been shopping at a Borders' owned company (starting with Waldenbooks) since the early 70s. I remember those Saturday nights after Warwick Mall opened, walking the length of the mall to enjoy myself at Waldenbooks. When Madeleine L'Engle wrote her first sequel to A Wrinkle in Time, I bought it at Waldenbooks, and the second one as well, and so many other volumes I loved.

Our final stop was at Trader Joe's, then we came home to eat supper. We saw a documentary on the London premiere of Deathly Hallows and watched A Year in the Life of J.K. Rowling, the last of the features on the Half-Blood Prince Blu-Ray set; that one had a bumper crop of material!

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» Thursday, July 14, 2011
The Simple Woman's Daybook
FOR TODAY, JULY 14, 2011

Outside my window...
...there's a collection of light, high clouds making it hazy. It is already hideously muggy, the air slung like a heavy blanket over everything. You can barely draw a breath.

I am thinking...
...that I should have been glad for the dry heat we had in June! This is infinitely worse.

I am thankful for...
...air conditioning! Really, weather like this is a misery. Remind me why I'm supposed to like summer again? Heat? Makes it hard to breathe and gives me a rash. Sun? Gives me migraines. Fire ants? Palmetto bugs? Sweat forming the moment you step out a door? Beats me. Okay, one thing: only one washer load of clothes rather than two. Summer clothing is so much thinner that it takes up less space.

From the learning rooms... brain is in neutral this week. Too much to do.

From the kitchen...
...nothing. We've finished the homemade cookies from the Farmer's Market.

I am wearing... tank top, aqua shorts, and the powder blue scuffs.

I am creating...
...more purchase orders, I hope. I had three I'd hoped I could do yesterday and it turned out due to mistakes I could only do one. Plus the big one I was working on doesn't come out correctly; the option periods aren't separated, and I don't know why.

I am going...
...well, we are finish up watching the Harry Potter films on Blu-Ray so we're all psyched up for the new film tomorrow. Like we haven't been psyched up since we saw the first part in the theatre in November. Not sure when we will actually see it. Opening weekend will be a nightmare.

This is also the Hallmark Ornament Premiere weekend! This year's Dreambook is here.

I am reading...
...Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion, about a couple who take a road trip in their custom-designed RV; A History of the World in 6 Glasses, how six different beverages defined six different periods of history (beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, and soda); still working on The Wilderness Warrior, and, on my Nook, A Discovery of Witches.

I am hoping... will get cooler, or at least less muggy. I have been feeling queasy and uncomfortable all week because of the heat.

I am hearing...
...the hum of the computer and an answering hum from the refrigerator. If I open the bedroom door, I can hear James C-PAP unit faintly. It's much quieter than the previous ones. He's home today because he worked on Sunday.

Around the house...
...Schuyler is occasionally chirping at me, hoping I will come talk to her. She doesn't understand I have to work. Willow is watching me expectantly, although I can't imagine why, as I have finished eating. I'm surrounded by papers from work. Down in the foyer, there's a pile of Independence Day decorations that need to be put up.

One of my favorite things...
...I confess, I am enjoying my Nook. I have a solid collection of out-of-copyright books I have found online, including Angela Brazil's school stories, and some nice free volumes (Barnes & Noble gives out a free book every Friday). Plus when I'm in range of any wifi I can surf the web.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Possibly Harry Potter, most certainly the ornament premiere. Of course, as mom always said, "With the help of God and a few policemen."

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

A cool thought for what has already been a very warm week. Oh, I so want to follow this road into the magical world of autumn, where Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner:

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook



» Monday, July 11, 2011
Windows 7 and Me
I got word some weeks ago that my separate desktop computer at work and the laptop I was given for teleworking would be merged into one unit, a brand-new laptop that I would have to take back and forth to work.

Now, this sort of makes sense to me, but on the other hand: I have a working desktop. I have a working laptop. Why "excess" both of them and spend money on a brand new laptop? I would have waited until either the desktop or the laptop died before spending the bucks. But evidently after 26 years of government service, I still don't understand the decisions behind government spending.

I was also told I'd be getting Windows 7 with this new hardware. Now, I've heard nice things about Win7, rather than the vile epithets that accompanied Windows Vista. My own desktop computer came with WinXP installed, but I also got a Win7 disk in case I wanted to upgrade. This meant I could "try it out" before "buying," so to speak.

So last week the IT tech told me it was time to get my laptop. We arranged it for today, but, surprise, when I got in, my CPU was gone and there was the laptop already set up to the docking station. So I turned it on and gave it a swing, eventually couldn't get into any documents in ICE (it's always ICE that "breaks the king's peace," as it were) and contacted the tech, and he turned up some minutes later to help.

After working on it one day, my feelings are mixed.

First, the one thing I notice about each new version of Windows is the icons get bigger and brighter. Win7 as on my desktop this morning made me feel like a 4-year-old who needs BIG LETTERS and BIG COLORED PICTURES to be able to do anything. (By the time we get to Windows 10 it will probably come with virtual Crayolas.) With XP I could rein in this iconic overload by going into the start menu and asking it to exhibit Windows Classic menus and small icons. I've been told this is possible, but I haven't found most of it. I'm an adult. I just want words. I don't need singing and dancing icons. I did make the icons smaller, but I still have this blob of color and words on my start menu rather than nice neat rows of folders the way I like them.

The worst problem I had was the way it looked on the monitor. When I first turned on the computer, it had been set for the highest resolution the monitor would handle. Everything was impossibly tiny—and I've never complained about tiny! I told the tech about my problem and he showed me how to adjust the resolution. I find it a tiny bit annoying that everything isn't bunched together logically like it used to be. Screen resolution is in one place, wallpaper in another, themes in a third area...why? I can't tell you how long it took just to change the wallpaper (now a fall scene; in this heat I must have something inspirational to look at). Anyway, I got the screen resolution set so that Outlook was very readable, but ICE is still horribly teeny, with the lines too close together. Grrr. Plus, depending on the application (this includes ICE again), the typeface is raggedy. There's something called "ClearType" that's supposed to help with that, but you can't change it unless you have administrator access. Gah.

Plus I can't get the Desktop. You know, the Desktop icon in the Quick Launch bar (no Quick Launch in Win7; instead you pin things to the taskbar). The one that brings you back to the main screen with the icons. I did find a "desktop," but it opens in Windows Explorer and shows you what's on your desktop. Duh. The taskbar is its own set of problems. When I move my mouse over the minimized windows of the taskbar I get two colors melding and bleeding into one another like special-effect smoke in a Harry Potter film. The two colors are very light, with white letters on them, and the lack of contrast makes me squint. I can hardly tell which is which. I tried to find "Themes," but all I found was something with sets of nice pictures (apparently there are wallpapers that change every 30 minutes; give me a break—I want a work environment, not an art gallery. I did finally find the gadget that changes the colors of the frames and the windows, etc. but it didn't seem to work well on those minimized windows. Have to give it another smack tomorrow.

To add insult to injury, I was supposed to undock the laptop and bring it home.

No matter which latch I pushed, I couldn't disengage it from the docking station.

Combined with five purchase orders, one mod, a very delicately worded e-mail that needs to be sent, a contention over invoices, a missing contact, what seemed like three million e-mails—well, it wasn't one of my more stellar days.

And it was a bloody 95°F today, and hotter tomorrow.

So home, and James, and Schuyler and Willow, and supper, and two glasses of milk, and coffee ice cream for dessert, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were all very welcome tonight.

But I'm not sure what looks more like Voldemort right now, Win7 or the purchase orders...

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» Sunday, July 10, 2011
Three-Day Weekending
The funding from Congress has done its work and the work is tumbling in. So I was very glad for my compressed day on Friday.

It wasn't a strenuous day. I did a course or two around Wally World looking for things as varied as a scatter rug (not found, at least not the one I wanted), a pruning shears, and yogurt, after already having hit Publix and been disappointed that the oatmeal that was a twofer was not the instant I needed for breakfast. Sam's Club gasoline was the least expensive way to feed the car, so I did that as well.

Then I spent the afternoon dubbing off How the States Got Their Shapes until James arrived home. We had supper at Fresh2Order and dessert at Baskin-Robbins, made a brief stop at Michaels, then came home.

At 10 p.m. we watched the first episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day. Torchwood has gone underground in the year since the events of Children of Earth. Suddenly the name "Torchwood" is text messaged to every government agency. After that, no one dies. I mean, even if you are burnt to a crisp or shot in the heart, you don't die. (This leads to one very gross scene.) One of the people affected is a CIA agent injured in an accident; a man convicted of child molestation and murder is also set free after his execution fails to kill him. In the meantime, Gwen and Rhys, with their baby daughter, are hiding away on a smallholding in the wilds of Wales. But their peace is short lived.

I'm...intrigued. I'm just afraid it's going to turn into a lot of gunfights and car chases. I really preferred it when Torchwood made me think, so I hope it turns that way.

Saw a very familiar name in the credits as co-executive producer: Vlad Wolynetz! Vlad used to be associate producer of Remember WENN. Majorly cool!

We managed the Farmer's Market Saturday morning, although I definitely would have preferred to sleep late! Someone had the cutest grey-brindle French bulldog puppy on a leash, and half the crowd wanted to cuddle him. We also went to Kroger, then came home, where James watched Ice Pilots before going to his club meeting. I did some cleaning and stripped the bed, and started watching a movie called Angel, based on a book by the English author Elizabeth Taylor. Romola Garai, from I Capture the Castle, played the lead, a self-absorbed British daughter of a grocer, who became a popular author of romantic novels (the character was based on the 19th century bestselling author Marie Corelli). She really was an obnoxious person! (I was doing some reading on the original book and apparently the character is even more repellent in the books!)

When James got home we went to supper at Ken's Hometown Grill. We go here often because the food is inexpensive, but good. It's nothing earth-shattering, just plain food, sort of like a Waffle House, but you get better choices. I like having their pork chops. At Waffle House you can only get hash browns with your pork chops, but there you can get fries or baked or mashed potatoes as well. And instead of a salad (because the salad dressing will just make me sick to my stomach), they will bring me sliced tomatoes. Much better than...yuck...iceberg lettuce.

Since Borders is gone, there's nowhere to go on weekend evenings. Neither of us felt like going to Barnes & Noble, so we just came home. Had to finish changing the bed anyway; the mattress is so heavy it takes both of us, and I'm trying the new "garters" (that's what they look like, old-fashioned garter belts) to keep the bottom sheet on the bed.

Later was chat, and we had a bunch of fun. Jen got the e-reader we sent her to celebrate her engagement and promotion, and for when she gets deployed, and the whole bunch of e-books we sent along with it. So we talked about books, and later Mike and I got into a debate about the historical veracity of 1776, which was fun, too—even if it made me stay up too late.

James, sadly, was abed early since he had to work today. I woke up at 9:30 with that foggy, drugged feeling that I hate. Still, I managed to clean part of the master bath, clean and refill the bird feeders (blast, the thistle seed makes a mess when it rains!), eat breakfast, make out a card to mail, then go out and mail the card on the way to Michaels. I now have both the pumpkins I need for the front porch in the fall (the others were so badly faded I had to toss them out) and can take them off my calendar. Also got a paper and made a stop at Family Dollar.

Did some more cleaning, and then spent a satisfactory afternoon watching the next two episodes of History Detectives and two episodes of Secrets of the Dead, one about the 1918 "Spanish" influenza, and a second about Herculaneum. The first of the two History Detective episodes had a fascinating and ultimately very affecting segment about an African-American soldier and his white friend in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, serving during the Spanish Civil War. I had heard about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in passing during my reading about that era, but I did not know it was the first non-segregated group in the American military.

Supper was lasagna from La Famiglia, which we bought at the Farmer's Market, along with a salad, and strawberry shortcake for dessert, and then watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. We are wayyyyyy behind in watching all the films before the premiere of the last one! Not sure if we can get through all the extras and the films by the weekend.

Evenings are just too short.

So, may I say, are weekends, even three-day ones.

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» Friday, July 08, 2011
What We're Watching Now
Torchwood: Miracle Day Steeped in Fandom, Libido and Relationships



» Monday, July 04, 2011

Ah, yes, stocking up on those sleep-ins before end-of-fiscal-year. We were slug-a-bed, as Mrs. Latham would have said in Johnny Tremain, until ten o'clock. After a leisurely breakfast, we went to Publix to pick up a couple of things, and bumped into an old co-worker of mine. He used to work in procurement and transferred to IT and is still there. So we spent some time chatting (and almost forgot the one thing we had specifically gone to Publix for).

Once home, we got into comfy clothing, grabbed some lunch, and settled down to patriotic viewing. We'd left Schuyler watching John Paul Jones with Robert Stack, but when we got home The Scarlet Coat with Cornel Wilde was showing.

After a brief tussle with the Blu-Ray player, which had somehow become disconnected from the network, I exiled ol' Cornel to the frontier by putting on Disney's "Ben and Me," which can be found online. This is the whimsical story of Ben Franklin, as told by his good friend Amos the Mouse (adapted from the Robert Lawson book by Bill Peet).

Next, of course, was our annual viewing of 1776. I love this film, not just because of the enjoyable story and music, but because it brings back good memories of Bandit. I would put him on my finger and we would "dance" during "He Plays the Violin." I daresay he never figured out why we were doing it. But he did it every year for nine years. (We used to dance during "You Make It Christmas" from Remember WENN, too.) Schuyler's not up to dancing, but she did get bouncy when the song came on.

Following, I put on the "Making a Revolution" episode of the Alistair Cooke's America series. It's a crying shame this isn't available in Region 1! (To think Jersey Shore is on DVD and this isn't! I'd gladly pay for a nice restored Blu-Ray, thank you, with a nice bio of Cooke and any behind-the-scenes bits! I love this series!) My copy came from—thank God for hackable DVD players! I followed this with "Inventing a Nation" and am about to put on "Gone West," which is one of my two favorite episodes.

(Er...those interested might try here. For some reason, "Firebell in the Night" is missing.)

James was planning to grill our Italian sausage, but just as he got ready to go out to start the grill, it started to thunder, and then came some bright lightning. We'd had a five-minute shower about two hours earlier, but this was a more serious rain. He cooked inside instead, the sausage and some garlic-flavored rice.

[Later: A grand night for fireworks it was. We watched A Capitol Fourth on PBS. One of the first things we saw was astronaut Jim Lovell in the crowd. Nice music and a good fireworks show. Then we changed channels for the Centennial Olympic Park fireworks, but they must have been rained out—it was raining most of the evening, aborting James' plans to set off the fireworks we'd bought at Publix—so they were showing the New York City celebration instead. This was outstanding, shot into the air from six barges on the Hudson River. They had fireworks colored like watermelons, pinky red on the inside and green on the outside, and ones shaped like mushrooms. Also lots of hearts and smiley faces. Finally over to CBS for the Boston Pops and fireworks. The camera work is slowly getting better, although there were still a couple of shots of the crowd. Don't care about the crowd. I did like the new-this-year shots of the fireworks over Boston landmarks, like Fenway Park and the Massachusetts State House. They also had the mushrooms, the hearts, and some whitish fireworks that looked exactly like an impressionist painting. The fireworks feed, for some reason, though, didn't look like it was in HD. Lots of pixellation!]

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» Sunday, July 03, 2011
On the Road—Temporarily
Today we went on a long-delayed visit to see James' mom and sister; after a nice sleep-in, we left about 10:30, stopping by Burger King for breakfast (my usual: Cinni-Minis without that noxious frosting, orange juice and milk). It was already so hazy that when we got on the freeway we could only see the blurry silhouettes of the buildings downtown, almost bluish smoky masses. It remained hot and stifling all day.

We listened to a "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and a "Splendid Table" on the way down to Warner Robins, almost the perfect length for the ride, concluding just as we got to the exit. It was an unremarkable ride except for passing mile marker 196, about the halfway point of the ride, where great swathes of trees were mown down or showing splintered, bent, or bowing trunks in clear signs of a tornado having passed through some days or weeks earlier.

We presented Mom with some gifts upon arrival, including the little souvenirs we brought back for her from the Yankee Candle flagship store last October which we'd forgotten at Christmas: belated birthday and Mother's Day gifts, including books, two three-DVD movie sets (one of Sam Elliot and the other of Tom Selleck), a pair of slippers into which a microwaveable or chilled pad can be inserted, some homemade cherry preserves, and a little trinket that said "My mother: my first friend." We then sat chatting and watching the idiot box until it was well past the noon hour and we could go out to eat without facing crowds.

We had lunch at Cheddars, which was quite good. James and I had a potato skin appetizer, and I had a cup of potato soup and an Asian chicken/shrimp salad. We passed on dessert, though, as we were quite stuffed.

Then back to the house until about six o'clock. We emerged to darkening skies, and, after a stop at Baskin-Robbins for dessert, went on to run into a booming and very bright thunderstorm just south of Macon where the I-475 bypass splits off. We usually take I-475 and were poured on the entire length of the road. After that the route was damp for a while, then dried rapidly. On the way back we listened to another "Splendid Table" and last week's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," which featured Bill Clinton playing "Not My Job." They asked him questions about the new My Little Pony revival, which had also been the real story in the "pick the actual news story" segment of the show. Apparently there are scores of young male fans of the new series who are called "bronies" (a portmanteau word of "brother" and "ponies"). Well, that's fandom for ya.

Came home to get cool, interact with Schuyler, and read UnSpun, which was a book I spotted on the "required summer reading" racks at Borders last year, but didn't buy. It's about critical thinking of "spin," whether political or advertising. Now watching The Revolution, but really ready to revolve into bed...

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» Saturday, July 02, 2011
Vegetables and Volumes
James got "sprung" early yesterday, and I had admin time due to the holiday, but we ended up going out at the usual time for supper. Went to the Hibachi Grill for various Chinese tidbits, then out to the Barnes & Noble on Dallas Highway. I finished reading Billy Boyle and began River of Darkness, an English mystery set in the post-World War I countryside. (You can tell it's a modern book because there's a very modern sex scene in the first part of the story, one a person of that era wouldn't have dared to write. <g>) There was a spectacular sunset when we emerged, all orange and pink lined with dark greys and some midnight blues.

Since we never will learn, we went to bed past midnight and I growled at the alarm when it rang this morning. I was having the most bizarre dream: I was giving the cutest black kitten a bath—and it wasn't trying to scratch me. Ah, a fantasy dream.

So we went to the Farmer's Market and got an absolutely huge cucumber, several tomatoes, freshly-dug Yukon Gold potatoes, chicken salad and cheese spread, some breakfast, two Portuguese rolls, some cookies for dessert this week, a turkey pot pie for Tuesday's supper, and two muffins (a chocolate and a key lime that will knock your eyeballs out) for dessert. Then we stopped at the post awful before going on to Kroger; we figured since we were out anyway...

This worked out very well; we need to just keep doing it during Farmer's Market season. We went to the Whitlock Avenue Kroger, got what we needed, and packed it all up and came home.

To Willow's and Schuyler's dismay, we pretty much put everything away then went out again. We hadn't been to Books-a-Million in ages, and it's next to a very nice Longhorn that is seldom crowded, where it is possible to get a nice quiet meal. We each had a 6-ounce Renegade; I had sweet potato and James had mashed. And we did indeed have a nice meal.

Found some cool books on the remainder racks at BAM, including ones that could be used as gifts, and a Nook guide. Then we walked two doors down to Petco, where I bought Schuyler a new gravel perch, and one of the puppies up for adoption came romping up to James. It was a golden-brown, ridiculously loose-jointed Boxer/Labrador/Golden retriever cross and at two months old was already Willow-sized with big jowls and huge paws. His attitude was "Oh, boy, people!"

From Acworth we drove down to the hobby shop and stayed a little while; they decided to close early due to the holiday weekend, and we came home via Baskin-Robbins, all the while listening to an episode of The Splendid Table. My gosh! when Jane and Michael Stern talk about food, how they do make you hungry. It's like reading A Discovery of Witches—man, that book will make you ravenous.

Finally back home in the cool, smiling at Schuyler, who is giving the evil eye to the new perch. I've held off buying a new one as long as possible, but it was positively grungy and no longer sanitary for her, with very little gravel left on it. It's the same exact perch, but it's blue instead of white. Budgies hate change. In the last few minutes she's stepped on it twice, but with a hurried skitter. I put a millet sprig over it, hoping to lure her, but she's attacking that from the top, still glaring at the perch and the obstruction it's put between her and her mirror. Birds are so funny!

[10 p.m. The millet has done its work. Schuyler is standing on the perch, munching away.]

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