Yet Another Journal

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

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

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» Friday, August 31, 2012
DragonCon, Day 1, a.k.a. Human Again
First sweet relief...sleeping "late": 7:30!  Then it was doing usual chores and out the door to drive downtown; traffic was civilized, which confirms my suspicions that everyone got the hell out of town yesterday. We had breakfast at Cafe Momo at Peachtree Center, which is a buffet, so I got a mixed bag of food: oatmeal, orange slices, kiwi fruit, two slices of French toast, a rasher and a half of bacon, a chicken cutlet I didn't finish because it was peppered, wheat toast, and skim milk. Costumed and badged people milled around us, including a man and woman and three small children, all dressed as Indiana Jones. Several Indys here this year, and we also saw an Indy and Marion last night.

I tried to get into the John Barrowman/Kai Owen panel, but had little hope, and indeed got there in time for them to let the last fifty people in what was three ballrooms opened up into one. So I went to the panel about remakes where James had gone: what remakes worked (Battlestar Galactica, The Thing) and what didn't (a lot of movies I never saw, like Clash of the Titans, and stuff like Coupling--yeah, we strayed out of SF). Plus talk about what remakes people would like.

James was off on his schedule after that, but I stayed in the room for the discussion of time travel series. Talk was about the parameters that exist in most or many time travel stories--can't meet yourself or something terrible happens, certain events you can't change, favorite series--Quantum Leap, Time Tunnel, Voyagers--and movies--Time Bandits, Bill and Ted, Time After Time, Somewhere in Time, mechanism for time travel--TARDIS, Omni, Accelerator, force of will...all very enjoyable.

Next I girded up my loins to hike the two blocks over to the Westin. Not a terrible hike in itself, but when it's humid and hot, and the streets are packed, it's a different story. My hips hurt the most. I held a seat for James, who was coming all the way from the Hilton and got stuck when they closed the skybridge from the Marriott to the Hyatt, so took 45 minutes to get there.

This was a panel about the examination of the different types of Alternate History, with Brad Linaweaver, S.M. Stirling, the author of the new The Thieftaker, Jana Oliver, and the woman who wrote Girl in the Steel Corset. They talked about what was alternate history and what wasn't, what character or era they would like to write about, about not putting all your research in your story (with minute descriptions of cobblestones and leaded glass), etc. Very enjoyable. I see I shall have to get Thieftaker, which is set in Boston.

James had a panel back in the Hyatt, but I was staying on to see the "Shades of Sherlock" panel, about modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes and were they good or not. This was almost a disaster. I found the line, but decided to use the bathroom first. Well, I left my pouch in there, and didn't realize it for about three minutes. By the time I got back in there, it was gone! But some nice person had turned it in to the information kiosk, all safe, so no harm done, but I had lost my place in line...and when I got to the door the panel room was full! It was set up with some tables in it, so there weren't enough chairs for all the people in line! But I stayed there, and eventually a couple of people left before the panel started and I got in. Whew! All that drama in less than fifteen minutes.

A great panel! We talked about all versions of Holmes, and whether the new Elementary series would be good, and if there were any positive points to Rathbone and Bruce, and if Downey was too frenetic, and was Sherlock updating it correctly, and was Irene Adler really so special and was making her a dominatrix in the modern version a bit much? A very short hour indeed.

Then it was straight down the hill for two long blocks to get to the Sheraton. I stayed on the shady side of Andrew Young Boulevard and it wasn't too bad. I was headed for the panel discussing the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who next year, and supposing about what the BBC may do to celebrate it, hoping which Doctors and companions might be in a reunion special, as well as enemies--Daleks for sure, as they are irrevocably linked to the Doctor. Possibly Captain Jack and Rose.

They are doing what sounds like a docudrama or documentary about the creation of the series, talking about Verity Lambert and Sydney Newman and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and all the early people who made the series what it was and what it became.

I thought about going to Jonathan Frakes or David Gerrold's panels, but instead walked back to the Marriott to go to the panel about geeks in mainstream television. On the way through the hotel I tried to walk in the dealer's room, but it was too crowded. Said hi to Lin Butler, then went upstairs to look in one of the exhibition halls--the one McFarland is usually in, but they aren't attending this year...::sob::--to see if I could find the other book dealer who has a nice selection of SF and mystery books. I found a T-shirt dealer selling "Soft Kitty" T-shirts and bought one. Did find the book dealer, too; they have some small hardback science in history books that look interesting.

Enjoyed the panel, too, which focused mostly on Bing Bang Theory and Community, and geekiness as portrayed in other series like Chuck, Eureka--even Abby in NCIS.

And then it was time to rejoin James in the Marriott for tonight's ARTC presentation, Kelley Ceccato's "The Wood-Bound Werewolf," about a reserved writer and his mother who visit a hotel in a reclusive woods community, arousing anger in the townsfolk when they arrive in one of those newfangled "motorcars." An imaginative young woman discovers that the man is her favorite writer, but so much different than she imagined him. And then the author takes a fateful walk in the woods...

I really, really enjoyed this, caught up in the story, and when it was over I had the most astonishing feeling. I was happy. Really, truly genuinely happy like I haven't been in weeks. I knew I was stressed out over work, but I didn't realize how much I've been stressed and stretched until happiness came over me in a great wave of joy. I've enjoyed today, discussing things I'm interested in, and not pursued and hunted by phone calls, e-mails, deadlines, and discouragement. I still want to cry thinking about it.

There was also a unique, brief "radio show" tribute to Ray Bradbury before the main presentation, and this year's testing of the microphones came with sponsor messages for extra goodness.

Congratulated Kelley after the show, chatted with some folks, took photos of the neat foam rubber ARTC radio Alice made (it's wearable and Isobel was in it part of the evening), and then decided to come home to our fids. Walked out of the hotel and through Peachtree Center "costume watching": superheroes, more Indiana Joneses, a woman with two lighted Death Stars for breasts ("those are no moons..."). I've seen male fairies today, found Waldo twice, seen numerous Doctors of various regenerations, watched ladies in various states of undress being photographed by appreciative male fans, even grinned at life-sized Statler and Waldorf.

We are having a "blue moon" this month, and the first thing we saw after emerging from city streets was the big, big yellow moon coming over the horizon. I'll bet it's so bright out in the country you can "walk by the light of the moon."

You know, it strikes me that I probably need a good's time to pull out "Lassie's Odyssey"...)

ONE complaint about today, and not DragonCon's fault: what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on downtown, Verizon? I'm paying you good money and suddenly there's barely any connectivity downtown--not only no 3G, but barely a phone signal! I thought something had gone wrong with my phone, but the minute we got out of downtown the signal was loud and clear. Everything was fine last year, but this year it's a freaking mess.

Oh, and James did some "networking" as we were leaving. Maybe... [she said hopefully].

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» Thursday, August 30, 2012
How Do You Spell Relief?
I am so relieved tonight. I finished the very last order I could do today. All those extra hours teleworking paid off.  Oh, I still have orders to finish, but I reached a point today that I couldn't do anymore without input from someone else. I hope this means the nightmares will go away; I could do without those!

I was also happily relieved that traffic was not as bad as I feared it would be. A lot of people take four-day weekends on Labor Day and I expected a lot of traffic jams. Slow traffic, yes, but only southbound was very bad; I guess folks were headed to spend the weekend at the House of Mouse. :-)

But no rest yet! Got home, had supper, and then immediately fell into making sandwiches for the weekend before we got dressed and drove downtown to register for DragonCon. The preregistration line was super-fast like last year due to their new barcode system; maybe it was a little too fast--we had to go through the "maze" of switchbacked line in the Sheraton so fast that James was hurting pretty badly by the time we got our badges due to a combination of bone spur and plantar fascitis.

Last year, since we'd already paid $15 to park, we walked over to the Hyatt and enjoyed a great show by two Celtic bands. We did the same this year, but we didn't stay long. The band this year was heavy metal and we walked out before we lost what is left of our hearing. Instead we walked over the skybridge into the Marriott, where the party-hearty had already started: we found Waldo, saw three Spaceballs walk into a bar (sounds like the beginning of a sci-fi joke), spied several Sheldon-shirts, and passed varied other costumes. Found Emerald Rose's table, and ARTC's, then walked into the Hilton and back to the garage.

But not home quite so soon; instead we walked back into Peachtree Center and had dessert at Dairy Queen, then sat people-watching until we finished, then came home, to do the mundane things, like gather the trash and watch the news, and the special things, like kiss the budgie and feed the dog a cookie.

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» Saturday, August 25, 2012
Searching for Fall

I am exhausted.

I wrote a post earlier this year, and I don't remember if I posted it at all, or it was on Facebook, talking about how much I feared this year's end of fiscal year. I didn't think I was up to it emotionally or physically and the thought of it scared the hell out of me. It's lived up to all my fears, too; I've been stressed, distracted, at least once a week at the point where I want to start to cry instead of going to work, miserable, and with a headache most days that wasn't alleviated by new glasses as I'd hoped. The nightmares have been the worst: I dream of being drowned in purchase orders, and even had a bizarre dream where Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory told me in quite snotty tones that all my purchase orders were done incorrectly.

I wanted nothing more than to come home Friday night and crawl on to the futon for some sleep, but hunger called. We had a full card from Fresh2Order, which meant we got a free dinner (they don't do the punch cards anymore; this will be our last). I had a 3/4 plate bourbon beef with a half-bowl of creamy chicken vegetable soup, which mostly filled me up, so I have enough leftover steak for two sandwiches. Excellent.

Later we dropped in next door at Costco to pick up some roast beef for DragonCon sandwiches. Wandered about the books, of course, and picked up the new combination Blu-Ray set of The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under (the latter should look quite good in high-def). They already had Christmas things out, including a huge stuffed Rudolph with a red nose that lights up; it's as big as a kindergartener. Also wrapping paper and lights.

Unfortunately the cool gadgets, like the under-the-cabinet lighting I saw there last time, had been moved to make room for jackets. Booooo.

On the way home we stopped at Publix for James to get cash and then we had dessert at Brusters. In bed before midnight! Good chance for eight hours sleep!

Did you have to bark at seven and a half hours, Willow? Groan...

It was nice out when we went to the Farmers Market today! Cool! Almost autumnal! The artists' market was today and we walked past paintings, decorative barrettes, origami ornaments, jewelry, wooden items, and other artistic things. We didn't have much to buy today: just chicken salad, a couple of brownies for dessert, a pot pie for Sunday dinner, and some baked ziti for another dinner. James also got a rice ball to replace the one he left behind last week, and when the nice Italian lady who helps run the booth heard what happened, she gave it to him for free, despite our protests. (The vendor's name is "Uncle Dom's." They are Sicilian. They also make super bread.)

On the way home we stopped at Kroger to do the rest of the shopping since James has to work tomorrow and we can't go then. We bought some soup for potlucks night, Those Damn Bananas, a few more yogurts in case, milk, four ice cream cups, and a few other things.

Came home and put all the perishables up, then took our time going out. I had time to finish The Great Silence, Juliet Nicolson's book about England between Armistice Day 1918 and Armistice Day 1920—fascinating chapters about how the war changed both upper class and lower class life, the sometimes grim result of war deaths on other family members, and two engrossing chapters about how a plastic surgeon changed the lives of those disfigured by wounds. She follows many of the characters she spoke about in her earlier book, The Perfect Summer: England 1911.

Then it was off to the hobby shop, where I was reading Anything Goes (a history of the 1920s) and Corley and some of the others had lunch. Finally we did go looking for fall: we went to Garden Ridge! And fall they did have: garlands and wreaths and picks, signs for the yard and scarecrows for the home, and masses of stuff for Hallowe'en: blinking ghosties and even a blow-mold ghost for the yard, aisles of skeletons dressed and undressed, tombstones and witches.

And there was Christmas aplenty, too: several aisles of color-matched ornaments, just boxes of plain colored "baubles," and Christmas trees in colors not known in nature, like electric blue and bright red. Some lightstrings were out, and we got two more blue ones to replace the ones we have for outside where we can't figure out why half the string won't light. Got some exercise walking the rest of the store, where we found aisles and aisles of "scrubs," both for men and women. Really amazing; it must be a moneymaker. Looked at cabinets and things, and then came to the big pallets where they toss all sorts of remainder books. We found a couple of gifts, and James got something about weather and a book by the guy who does Man Vs. Food, and I found Why? Because We Still Like You (a Mouseketeer memoir I hadn't felt like paying full price for and Inventing Late Night, about Steve Allen and the history of The Tonight Show.

Making our way home, we stopped at Aldi for more spaetzle, and then hit the Smyrna Kroger for gasoline (where it was cheapest) and went inside to get something for supper. We both got soup and James got something for work tomorrow, and we bagged a couple of cheap steaks.

When I turned on the computer we found out the news about Neil Armstrong. :-( We saw some news reports about it as we ate dinner, and when I switched to NASA-TV they were showing clips from the moonwalk and some speeches he did. Watched a bit of Storage Wars, then put on From the Earth to the Moon to watch "Spider" and "That's All There Is." The news footage gave me goosebumps. I still remember the space coverage and the moonwalk so clearly: the 19 inch black and white Magnavox television we had then, the doors and windows being wide open on the summer night to let in the shrill of the crickets and the buzz of the motorcycles zipping up and down Gansett Avenue, the warm summer night with its warm summer scents of cut grass, leftover heat, car exhaust, flowers, asphalt, and yeasty perspiration as we gathered around the ghostly blue fire of the transmission from the moon. The lunar module landed early in the evening, and after watching that coverage, we went to the St. Mary's Church annual feast for a while, an always heady combination of band concert, carnival games, food concessions, and people celebrating in the warm, sticky summer evening air. I had my faithful Philco radio attached to my ear as we strolled the booths and munched on hot doughboys sprinkled with sugar, and even though it was fireworks night, we headed home instead to watch the moonwalk. Goosebumps for sure. Not a night like it since.

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» Monday, August 20, 2012
Rediscoveries and Losses
Back in the 1980s, when I still lived in Rhode Island, I would take the bus up to Boston about once a month to visit friends. I still cherish these wonderful visits in which I stayed overnight, talked of fannish subjects to my heart's content with Mary B, and Mary, and Deb, and Abby and Gail, watched artwork being born and fanzines being created, and went shopping in bookstores, bookstores, and more bookstores. Providence had lost all its decent bookstores by then (my beloved paperback bookstore mutated into something with carpets and books turned face-out) and Boston was this wonderland of literary finds: Brattle Books, the National Park Service bookstore, and, out a subway ride away in Cambridge, Wordsworth, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Bookstore, and the Harvard Coop.

Sometimes I stayed with Mary B, but on later visits I bunked in with Abby and Gail in their slightly larger apartment in Orient Heights (and never dared tell my mother I was riding the subway back to the bus station all alone in the dark; the "T" always had attendants--I stayed in the light and never felt threatened). Abby was a big fan of Wendy and Richard Pini's comic "Elfquest," and, seeing her interest, on one visit I read what she had already collected, and fell in love.

Be it known that I am not a fan of high fantasy. I still haven't managed the Lord of the Rings trilogy and really don't care to. But "Elfquest" was different. It begins as the story of the Wolfriders, a small woods-dwelling band of the descendants of elves from another world who were stranded on a planet known only as "the World of Two Moons." When humans set their "holt" afire in an effort to purge the land of elves, the Wolfriders take refuge with the treacherous trolls, also stranded generations ago.  The trolls trick them into a tunnel with no end, or so they think--instead the Wolfriders find another band of elves, the Sun People, peaceful farming folk, including the fiery healer and the tribe's hunter. And so the quest begins.
So the next time I was in Cambridge, I plunged into the dark, delightful depths of what was then the narrow corner location of the famous comics shop Million Year Picnic. MYP reminded me a lot of the paperback book store: comics up to the ceiling and posters everywhere else, with action figures in cases and behind the counter. Used to comic book stands and spinners in drug stores, MYP was a revelation...I saw comics I never knew existed. I bought all the back issues of "Elfquest" and then continued buying the new ones. I also bought the sequel, "Siege at Blue Mountain," and the third series, "Kings of the Broken Wheel," and the full-color reproduction books of the original quest, as well as the novelization of the original story. I didn't so much get tired of the story as tired of searching for the comics themselves, even though several series followed on: "Hidden Years," "Shards," etc. (I also, I admit, back then didn't care for the artwork not done by Wendy Pini. The other artists were good artists, and Wendy couldn't draw everything, but the characters just didn't look right when others drew them.)

Some months back I noticed there was an Elfquest website with all the comics digitized and posted online. It was very awkward reading them in Windows, so a few days ago I relocated the site to see if the issues were readable on the tablet. I had to go through three browsers, the native one, Dolphin, and Chrome before I discovered they were readable in Firefox for Android, so I am now happily spending some time reading what I missed, rediscovering Cutter, young chief of the Wolfriders, his best friend, diplomatic Skywise, the gentle but firm Leeta, jealous Rayek, the aristocratic Savah, and the other members of the tribes.

This happy discovery was muted today by the news of William Windom's passing. He was a favorite of my mom's in the early 1960s, appearing in the television version of the movie The Farmer's Daughter. This was a series I only heard, since it was on after my bedtime. :-) I did get to watch him in his excellent role as the emotionally tortured starship captain Matt Decker on Star Trek. But later, when Windom did his short-lived but inventive series, My World and Welcome to It, based on the writings of James Thurber, I was there waiting. John Monroe  remains one of my favorite television characters of all time, with his surface cynicism and hidden sentiment, his scrawled cartoons that his editor never understood but his fans loved, quailed by family and small children but king of his own fantasies. The series instilled my lifelong love of both Windom and Thurber, and I was later to start watching The Waltons because of Windom's humorous, bravura role as Charlie Sneed, "the Robin Hood bandit" providing turkeys to poor families in the Christmas film The Homecoming. It was only much later that I discovered Windom in his first film role, that of the bigoted prosecutor in To Kill a Mockingbird.

I was later lucky enough to see Windom in a reading of Thurber essays at the Ravinia in Atlanta sometime between 1988 and 1990; it took place in December and was my birthday gift to myself. I remember he read Thurber's "Memorial," which was an essay written after the death of Thurber's favorite standard poodle. The final paragraph, however, is all-embracing enough to be of comfort:

"The poodle kept her sight, her hearing, and her figure up to her quiet and dignified end. She knew that the Hand was upon her and she accepted it with a grave and unapprehensive resignation. This, her dark, intelligent eyes seemed to be trying to tell me, is simply the closing of full circle; this is the flower that grows out of Beginning; this--not to make it too hard for you, friend--is as natural as eating the raspberries and raising the puppies and riding in the rain."

(You can read the entire essay here.)

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» Sunday, August 19, 2012
Spattering on Sunday

The next time I bathe the dog, I need to search her for the hidden Sunday alarm. Nine o'clock on Sunday is just too much. :-)

After blundering out of bed, it's time for Sunday chores which I do before breakfast as an incentive to get them done. This means I put my clothes for the week on the hooks on the back of the bathroom door, since on early weekday mornings I tend to bump into walls, then I apportion out my prescription and OTC drugs for the week: Prilosec, heart pill, cholesterol pill, thyroid pill, allergy pill. This assures I don't forget any (well, so the theory goes; it still happens). As in any morning, there are moments of "unavoidable delay," as Frank Gilbreth referred to them. I used the opportunity to finish The Story of Charlotte's Web, which has been a great bedtime book. In order to invoke the children's book, the author has written in a nostalgic, calm style which is perfect to read before going to sleep. Well, as always I looked through the notes (sometimes there's another chapter's worth of information in the notes!) and was absolutely chuffed to find that in the chapter where the author wrote about E.B. White contributing to the St. Nicholas League, he references three scans of the magazine pages done for my St. Nicholas web page!

I'd no sooner fixed my breakfast than Schuyler started scrabbling on the side of her cage, chirping. "Oatmeal! I want my oatmeal!" I'd hardly turned to her with the bowl in my hand before she was on her top perch, next to the bars, waiting for the spoon. She nibbles on the oats with her eyes half-closed, enjoying it so.

Not much to shopping. We went back up to Battle Ridge this week, first to stop by Publix for some bread and other twofers, where I was happy to discover some fall magazines: the latest "Bliss Victoria" (also their British issue), "Blue Ridge Country" with its lovely landscape photos, and something called "Southern Lady," with autumn articles. "Spiffing!" to quote Daisy Dalrymple. Then to Kroger, then home to put up the perishables, but, perish the thought, not the end of our shopping day. We needed Chex mix for my lunch and Mandarin oranges, so we went to Sam's Club. Picked up a book as well, some mushrooms, and James got a copy of Act of Valor.

Finally, after taking my car to Kroger for gasoline, we were done. The clouds had swollen and were spitting at us by the time we arrived home, but by the time it actually rained, we were far, far away, setting down to watch Rick Steves Europe (the British isles) for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

We had found boneless pork ribs on sale at Publix this morning, and when we got home, about one, James had popped them in the crock pot with a bottle of Classico tomato and basil spaghetti sauce, bits of green pepper, and mushrooms, and let it cook on high. So for dinner we had fork-tender pork and mushrooms, with bread to "zoop" in the gravy. And leftovers for lunch to boot!

Plus I washed towels this morning and clothes this evening, so we're set for the week.

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» Saturday, August 18, 2012
Glimpses of Heaven

Ah, so I thought it would be a normal Saturday: arise grumbling, dress, and head out to the Farmer's Market in the warm summer funk.

Until the garage door opened. It was cloudy, cool, and breezy, more like a mid-autumn morning than a summer one! No sign of rain, just blessedly comfortable. We settled two birthday gifts and a set of Remember WENN DVDs into the car and drove with windows open to downtown. We were moving pretty briskly because we were due at hair day, but did buy some vegetables as well as two apple turnovers and some peaches.

Alas, our hurry resulted in one casualty. There are a couple of Italian vendors at the Farmer's Market, Costa's Pasta, and another booth whose name I never remember; they sell some vegetables, Italian bread, homemade pasta, ready-to-eats liked baked ziti. And today the woman had a tray full of nearly-baseball-sized golden-brown spheres that looked like they were breaded. I was fascinated. I hadn't seen them in years, but my mind immediately identified them: rice balls! My aunts used to make them over the holidays. I was afraid I was mistaken, but James asked what they were, and sure enough, they were rice balls. He bought one to have as a lunch, but had to put it down to pay for it and left it there, something we didn't discover until we got back from Hair Day. Well, snellfrocky.

And now for the most enchanted part of the day: the ride down Polk Street through the old homes, and then down the pseudo-countryside of Villa Rica Road, cool breeze on our arms and faces, the air so pleasant you could smell grass, fresh-turned soil, leaves, and the new-mown hay in the battlefield parklands, and it struck me then how much a little bit of heaven this was, the small moments that make life so special.

Hair Day was fun as always. We got to see Juanita, who broke her ankle earlier in the week. I gave Daniel his DVDs and we chatted a bit. We ate the apple cake and pumpkin bread we bought at the Farmer's Market, cherries and grapes that Juanita brought and the apples and cheese Charles provided, and some Ruffles, too, I'm afraid. The football draft started at noon and soon a few of the guys including Alex and Colin were gathered around a laptop. Phyllis and Ron opened their birthday gifts (books, of course). Somewhere in there, James got his hair cut. I was too busy talking to notice.

We left early so James could get to his meeting on time (for some reason Hair Day always coincides with the IMPS meeting, even when one is moved). I did a bit of tidying up, but mostly recorded things off the BBC. Goodness, after her bath Willow has left bits of hair drifted all over the carpet! I did wash all her towels and her dog bed/blanket that sits in front of the fireplace so she'd have a place to lie tonight.

I told James I was after comfort food, so of course we went to Panera Bread and I had chicken soup with a baguette to dip in it. Since we had only a small lunch, we splurged on a cookie each for dessert instead of splitting one. We sat comfortably reading on our tablets—I've found all the issues of "Elfquest" online and a browser that will read them!—and watching the clouds gather overhead, all "shades of grey" (steel and slate, silver and leaden, mist and storm) with edges of white near the sunside and black outlines opposite, billowing upward.

James wanted to get an SD card, so we went to MicroCenter: always a dangerous place. I decided to get some scrapbooking software, although I think I really just want it for the graphics. :-) I keep drooling over the full-color book of the elements, but I really need to find a used copy at that price! James also got one of those little, inexpensive drum-shaped speakers; it has quite creditable sound for its size.

Spent the evening watching some dressage and jumping on the tablet (since the Olympics app is still available). I think we overloaded the internet connection a couple of times, since I was recording off the BBC and James was watching videos on YouTube. Might as well, since there's nothing much good on television.

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» Friday, August 17, 2012

Yes, that's what it is. Looking forward to sleeping late this morning and Willow barks at 6:49. Arrgh.

Stayed home all day to wait for the lawn guys and of course they showed up after James got home from work and we'd gone to dinner. Double arggh!

Did get vacuuming done. Cleaned hall bath which is now covered in dog hair because I gave Willow a bath. Burned Yankee Candle's "Harvest" for a while. Not bad. Listened to BBC4X all day; they are doing my favorite Lord Peter Wimsey story, Murder Must Advertise. Found my plum-colored jeans.

Also tried some Laughing Cow cheese for lunch. Got garlic and herb flavor and was disappointed. I've been eating goat cheese so long that cow's milk cheese is depressingly bland.

We had supper at Ken's grill and then went to Barnes & Noble. Wandered about, bought a cross-stitch magazine, plus the newest "Her Royal Spyness" mystery in paperback and Michael Collins' Carrying the Fire.

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» Sunday, August 12, 2012
Another Sunday, Another Deadline

Hark, hark, the dog doth bark...oh, it can't be time to get up already.

Ah, but it was.

James made biscuits for breakfast; square ones, using the brownie pan! It was the only bright thing today, as I was coping with another sinus headache and James was sick to his stomach most of the day. We ate a rather dispirited breakfast and then went out to Kroger. Found some more goat meat, bought Those Damned Bananas and other things for lunches and suppers, got milk, and came home to put it away, then took Twilight out to "feed" him, and that was it for being outside today. James nursed his sick stomach and watched HGTV and later Pawn Stars, and I spent the afternoon copying DVDs for a friend and finishing my book reviews for July (better late than never, I guess). We had chopped pork in mushroom gravy over spaetzle for supper, and watched the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics. I don't much like modern music, so I wasn't all that impressed. Most of it was kinda dull, except for Eric Idle, the Morris dancers, and the roller-blading nuns singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

I can't believe it's Sunday night already. Or rather I can't believe it's time for Monday morning soon. I want to dream of turning leaves and cool breezes and the sea and the mountains and bookstores galore, and all I dream of are purchase orders.

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» Saturday, August 11, 2012
A Story With Legs

Woke to someone on NPR saying that Paula Ryan had been chosen to be Mitt Romney's vice presidential choice. Paula Ryan? Who's...

Never mind. Paul Ryan.

Thankfully, outdoors was much better than my hearing this morning. It was cloudy and only about 70 degrees; I don't think it's been that cool in the morning since...early spring. There was a slight, slight breeze, too.

The biweekly artists' market was this week, too, so we perused paintings and jewelry and hair decorations before proceeding across the street to the stalls. We bought sweet corn, more chicken salad, a piece of brown sugar pound cake for a dessert, some dog biscuits, and five nice hard, crisp peaches. On the way home we stopped at the bakery for dessert for two more nights, and also went to Publix for the twofers. We found a big table of clearance items and stocked up on some granulated bullion and four boxes of steel-cut oats, plus got more lamb "steaks."

Once these were put away, we went out to have a little more fun: we went to MicroCenter. :-) James was buying a keyboard and I was looking for more DVD cases for my incorporation project. The computer/laptop department was, expectedly, overflowing with parents and kids looking for tax-free goodies. The rest of the store was rather pleasant. I bought the cases and also found some thumb-drive holders with clips on them, and a packet of DVD-Rs so I could make copies for someone.

From there we went to the hobby shop, where I amused myself by reading Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog. This is set in the same universe as her Doomsday Book, Blackout and All Clear, but is a comedy based on Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.. I tried reading it once before but wasn't able to get into it. Now I understand that all the confusion I had in the first chapter comes from the fact that the protagonist is exhausted from too much time travel.

Just for the heck of it, we went up to Books-a-Million. We stopped at the Petco next door and I bought a couple of new toys for Schuyler that I hope will alleviate her boredom. They were having pet adoptions and there were two of the cutest puppies. One was half chihuahua, half Italian greyhound, so bigger than a chihuahua, but smaller than the Italian greyhound, with big wide eyes. It saw us and ran to the crate bars, scratching and making happy noises. The other was part Labrador and part Welsh Corgi, and was small, with small paws, and Corgi-sized ears and a Lab-length tail. He was a beautiful wheat color, with an open, alert puppy face, and also very cute. There were several larger dogs, too, including a part Catahoula hound and one which was part Australian shepherd and a lovely merle color all over. Again, we have no idea how Willow would react to another dog.

And at this time of the year, it's just not conducive for adopting a puppy anyway.

Had a nice wander about Books-a-Million though there are no new autumn magazines out. They had some interesting sale books, including Alone in the World: Orphans and Orphanages, and the sequel to Our Own May Amelia. The orphan book was a buy one get one, so I got a small novel called Voyage about Jewish immigrants. I also found a neat book called Star Trek FAQ. Usually books with goofy names like this are cheap little trivia books with questions and answers at the back of the book. This is a history of the series, past experience of the actors, memorable episodes, and a bunch of other cool stuff.

We discovered that there was a Panera Bread across the parking lot, so we went there and picked up supper, but also stopped for a while just to have a treat. I had a plain bagel with garlic and herb cream cheese, and James had a chocolate chip bagel with honey walnut cheese. He wished they had peanut butter or Nutella to go with it.

Spent the rest of the evening comfortably at home watching The Big Bang Theory. Had our Panera for supper, recorded things off the BBC, blogged, and watched Schuyler give the evil eye to one of her new toys. It's a wooden tube with shredded twine at each end and some holes in the tube to access paper and string to shred. Hopefully she'll get used to it.

The first highlight of the evening was going down to the laundry room, pulling back the door and finding an untidy spider web behind it, with a great big daddy longlegs in the middle of it! By the time I asked James for a jar to try to take it outside with, it had scuttled behind the dryer in a great tangle of legs. I swept the web away—amazing! it wasn't there Tuesday when I did laundry.

The reason I was in the laundry room is that we had stripped the bed and I was washing sheets. If anyone asks us if we've had "vigorous physical exercise" this week, we can say "yes," because wrestling with our mattress is like putting the moves on a gorilla. It has baffles in it so we won't wake each other up with our restless sleeping, is heavy as you-know-what, and even though I dutifully measured the mattress and made sure the sheets I bought would fit it, the fitted bottom sheet always slips off. We have sheet "garters" to keep the corners on, but they are a stone-cold bitch to actually keep on on the sheets; the cloth always makes the knobs slip out of the metal. Just wicked annoying.

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» Friday, August 10, 2012
Entering the Homestretch
And I know how a steeplechase horse feels. So many more scary fences until the end of the fiscal year!

Today I was chasing headaches: by the time lunch came I felt like someone was driving a nail into the bridge of my nose. I took four ibuprofin and took a welcome nap in the car. It actually wasn't bad out; with a cool breeze under the trees.

My phone barked halfway through the nap. Really. It was a text message telling me season four of Big Bang Theory was ready for pickup at Walmart.

Thankfully, traffic was light, but by the time I got home I had yet another headache. Gah.

We had supper at Zaxby's, which we haven't done for a long time. I know chicken wings aren't really good for you, but this was a treat. And it was near Walmart.

Picking up the DVD was annoying. I had to go in the back and wait while at least three people walked by me, said "Can I help you?" and when I said I was there to pick up a package, said, "I'll be with you in a minute" and then disappeared completely. Finally a woman came in and out, saying the same thing, and then a fifth person came in and actually did fetch my DVD! We also got hangers for James' new suit jackets and shirts, a five dollar copy of Hoodwinked, BreatheRights, triple tap electrical plugs and electrical tape (since ours has done a bunk), and a few other things.

In retrospect, it probably wasn't a good idea to go to Walmart on tax-free weekend. :-) But really, the only crowded areas were near the school supplies. Even the children's clothing aisles were pretty much deserted.

Then it was home to watch about four episodes of Big Bang and the extras, which included a music video of Barenaked Ladies performing the theme song to the studio audience. Cool!

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» Sunday, August 05, 2012

Well,that was an unpleasant turnaround. I woke up this morning feeling vaguely off and once I had breakfast (plain oatmeal with a small sprinkling of brown sugar cinnamon, a cup of mandarin oranges, and some milk) I was sick for several hours thereafter: queasy and with a terrible headache. Squinted my way through James getting air in his rear tire, stopping at Publix and stopping at Kroger. It was only after I ate the chicken soup we bought at Kroger with a little French bread and took three ibuprofin that I started feeling better.

We had to go to Lowe's to get a new part for the gate. The part that goes into the latch which locks—the "tongue," I believe is what the lady at the fence company called it—had bent over a week ago and broken when they latched the gate after cutting the grass. When I called the fence company last week to see if they could fix it, the lady was honest with me: they send over installation crews, not repair crews. The job would cost $250.00. She said if we knew a handyman he could do the job much cheaper, or if we were good at DIY, we could do it ourselves. We'd just have to buy the entire latch assembly; they didn't sell just the tongue.

So that's what we bought at Lowe's. I picked up a triple-tap, too, and a timer that said it did something that it didn't, which means I'm saving the packaging and taking it back.

Now, when we left the house, James had forgotten to put his soup up. He had bought a slightly larger container of soup than I had—sixteen ounces vs. twelve—and hadn't finished it. He left it on the very edge of his end table, which is right next to the recliner, which is the only piece of furniture Willow is allowed upon. She sleeps there at night.

When we got in, the empty cardboard soup container was on the floor, licked clean.

Not angry at the dog at all; after all, we'd left it where she could get at it. What flabbergasted us both is that she managed to finish it without spilling one drop, not on the table or the recliner, or the carpeting! Clever girl!

We got into lighter things and I refilled the bird feeders and put out the thistle sock I'd bought at Lowe's. Not sure how the birds identify this as food, but I'll try one. Mr. Goldfinch has been such a colorful delight that he and the missus deserve a treat!

Somewhere along the line James disappeared. Turns out he just went outside and took the old tongue off and put the new one on. I'd planned to help him, and he had it all done in a trice. Not worth $250.00, that's for sure.

James had found pork roast at Kroger, so we had that for supper tonight, with shell macaroni in cheddar sauce and a green salad, with watermelon for dessert. Watched HGTV most of the night since we've now seen all of first, second and third season of  Big Bang Theory. Will have to look to see where we stand with fourth season.

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Good-bye, Hello, and Good-bye

It was a momentous day in more ways than one.

We still had vegetables left over, so we scrapped the Farmer's Market visit and slept late. At least as late as a barking dog would allow, even after James took her out before we went to bed. Had breakfast and puttered about until it was time to start getting dressed for Amy Rutledge's memorial service. The address of the church had sounded familiar and when I looked it up, I knew why: it was the church right near our veterinarian's office.

I pressed my clothes, patted a bit of makeup on, and we were off, leaving early so James could drop off two models at the hobby shop before we headed out to Dunwoody. The local IPMS club is taking a "club project" down to the Nationals next weekend in Orlando: a Lego aircraft carrier with its deck covered in little egg planes. These are popular small Japanese model kits that portray aircraft...well, in egg shapes. They're cute and fun. James had done one previously and finished two more for delivery today.

We wanted to make sure we arrived at the church on time, especially since the freeway had road construction on it, although at the moment it had to have been stopped because it was raining quite steadily. We stopped on the way at Jersey Mike's for a small sandwich each and shared a bag of kettle chips and a cookie since we didn't know how long the service would be, and went surface roads only and arrived about a half hour early, so we stopped at Kroger and I bought my buns for lunch there. (The buns at the Smyrna Kroger are always covered with bits of cornmeal that keeps the bread from sticking to the baking pans. Ugh.) Then we circled back to the church and drove through the parking lot until we saw familiar faces and parked the truck.

As it always is at funerals, we saw folks we hadn't seen in some months, and those we pretty much only talk to online. One by one everyone arrived and we waited under the overhang outside one of the church halls.

By the time the service started at two, it was pouring rain. I'd carried my umbrella, but James hadn't, and it turned out the short service was being carried out outside. So James had to run back to the truck for his own brolly.

It was a nice service, held in a little outside garden with a statue of the Virgin Mary amongst flowers at one end and a little alcove with a fountain and plinths near which there were small memorial plaques. We were in the rear and the pounding of the rain against the umbrellas made it hard to hear, but we said the Lord's Prayer and did the responses.

After the service we repaired to Allison's Restaurant a mile or so away where Amy's husband and her family had planned a small "collation" and we sat and talked. A guest book was passed about and we enjoyed each other's company and some delicious food: salmon and cream cheese on wheat bread with dill, coconut shrimp, chicken fingers, a few other meats, "tea" sandwiches (cucumber, egg salad—thinking of you, George Hall!—shrimp salad), and two desserts, tiramisu and strawberries and cream. We got to see Mike Rogers and John Cochrane and Stephanie Gould, and met some of Amy's friends from dog shows.

One of the things James and I were talking to Phyllis about was our need for new dress clothing for Juanita's wedding. I'm going to have to put off that ordeal until after the present ordeal, a.k.a. end of fiscal year., is over. He's going to wear his new kilt, in the U.S. Navy tartan, at the wedding and has all the accessories for it, but needed a new jacket. His old suit goes back to our wedding, almost 22 years ago, and doesn't fit around the shoulders anymore.

So since we were right across the parking lot from Jos. A. Banks, the menswear store, after the reception was over, we went there looking for a suit jacket. Wow. They had jackets almost up to $1000. The average price was about $450! We had to wander about for about fifteen minutes just for anyone to talk to us, and then were told they'd have to special order a jacket for him. Well, we were only shopping.

On the way home we stopped at Cumberland Mall, or across from Cumberland, anyway, at the Men's Wearhouse. We were greeted promptly here, by a salesman who let James try on three jackets in navy blue, and we found a nice looking one that fit perfectly. Well, they were having a sale, and he was able to get another jacket, a blue-grey in a pale houndstooth pattern, for just a little bit more, and then he bought a white shirt for the wedding and a blue shirt to wear with the houndstooth jacket. It was a lot more than we usually pay for clothes, but if the new clothes last as long as the old ones, it will be a good deal. So now he's kitted out for Juanita's wedding. My mom would be proud! :-)

This was a great salesman, by the way...we were only supposed to be looking today. He did look a bit nonplussed when James said he would be wearing it with a kilt!

God, I don't want to think about buying a good dress or a blouse and skirt. Half the stuff for women with my tubby figure are big flowered prints. It's bad enough being stout without looking like Hyacinth Bucket!

Stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond for a bottle of syrup for James' Soda Stream, and then finally home.

We needed a little amusement after the gravity of today, and had a big marathon of Big Bang Theory episodes this evening, watching the rest of season two (about eight episodes) and the only two episodes of season three we hadn't seen, plus the extras on both DVD sets. At last! Enough blooper scenes to make a gag reel on a DVD set worthwhile; most DVDs that do blooper reels have about two minutes of gags and that's it.

And then we got sad news on chat: we'd decided to go to Virginia this year because of Jen being stationed near Norfolk and her ship not scheduled to deploy until next year. Well, wouldn't you know they're going to go on a short mission just when we're due to go on vacation? Typical: Uncle Sam giveth and Uncle Sam taketh away. Phooey!

This is a picture I found of Amy running her basenji, Widget, in an agility trial, on her friend Sharon's Facebook page. Hope Sharon doesn't mind that I have reposted it. We had known Amy for a long time, from when we would drive up to Atlanta from Warner Robins for the Terminus TARDIS meetings at White Hall at Emory University back in the mid-1980s. We danced at her wedding, and she and her husband Charles made it possible for us to have our wedding and reception at the clubhouse at their apartment complex. We watched Amy run her dogs, first Brucie and then Delenn and Vir, and finally Widget, in a couple of agility contests. We hadn't seen much of her of late, but we kept up with her dog show awards on Facebook. We'll miss her.

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» Friday, August 03, 2012

All right: my idea of a good doctor's appointment! Got there at 8:25 a.m. and was out by 9:35, which included picking up one prescription and having blood taken. I mentioned to the doctor that I'd had a sore throat the last few days and he took a look and said it was just from post-nasal drip. Made me wonder what he saw back there...don't think I want to go any further than that!

Had some great wholegrain oatmeal for breakfast along with a fruit cup and milk, which I ate while perusing Facebook. Then I went to Costco to walk around some. Found some neat new gadgets there, including a wireless lightbox that goes under kitchen cabinets and it is motion activated. Picked up season two of The Flying Nun on DVD and, more prosaically, a new bottle of Clorox 2. Then "fed" the car and stopped at Aldi for milk.

I spent the afternoon doing some housework and thinning out DVDs by putting them in smaller cases. I'm considering what to do with the Babylon 5 sets. The originals came in huge, bulky cases, and the covers are holographic. I don't really want to destroy them, but boy, do they take up space! I'd sure like to fit Big Bang Theory into the tower, too. And The Flying Nun, too.

I do doubt Pie in the Sky will ever fit, though.

Supper at Hibachi Grill, and then we drove to the Barnes & Noble at the Avenue at West Cobb to see if they had "The Highlander" in for James—and they did. I found a couple of remainder books. We drove there and back watching an ominous black sky on one side and blue-and-white on the other, and while we were in the store it rained, making it dreadfully steamy.

The poor air conditioner has just been toiling away today; this afternoon it was so hot it couldn't even keep up. Scared me. We simply must have some cool weather where the serviceman won't suffocate in the attic (where the unit is) but where the unit is off so it can have some maintenance!

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