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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» Monday, May 27, 2013
Good Old-Fashioned Post Convention Depression

Thanks be for comfy beds and feather pillows: I think I fell asleep the moment the light was switched off. Unfortunately we'd gone to bed late because we were still keyed up despite being tired, and I was woken, rather abruptly, at about 5:45 by a glow from James' tablet. He had gone to the bathroom and noticed it was blinking, and then noticed it wasn't charging.

Unfortunately he couldn't mess with it because in ten minutes he had to get up and go to work. Yeah, on Memorial Day. A real bummer. So I went back to bed, but I can't seem to leave these electronics problems alone; I'm like a dog with a bone. So about ten minutes later I got up, unplugged the silly thing, and re-plugged it in in the spare room. Had to wiggle the cord around and then it started to charge. Not sure if it's the socket or if it's the cord—my old cassette tape recorder, the one I received as a high-school graduation gift, always had a problem like this; the power cord would only work if curved in a specific direction (I finally electrical-taped it into optimum shape).

Then I went back to bed and I did fall asleep, but woke up with an incipient migraine, took something and went back to bed, and didn't get up until ten, and finished reading Mr. Monk on Patrol. I was in my most lachrymose post-con depression phase; I hate leaving conventions—it's like being thrown out of Narnia, having to leave a world that is warm and welcoming for real life which is uncomfortable and maddening and downright scary sometimes. I did enjoy my oatmeal, though! Booooooo to the hotel breakfast bar for only having grits.

I had to go to Kroger to pick up bread, yogurt, and Those Damn Bananas, and decided to go to Barnes & Noble first to cheer myself up. Apparently the Sunday drivers bled into today. However, I reached there without incident and even found something neat in CD Warehouse (used media) "next door": the Blu-Ray version of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, which has commentary and some storyboards. James called me as I was leaving to tell me they were sending him home, so I did a quick survey of B&N: picked up the latest Josephine Tey mystery, checked out the cross-stitch magazines, bought a neat carry bag on discount, and left, only stopping for gasoline on the way home.

He was at  home by the time I got there, and we went out for lunch at House of Lu III, which is next to Kroger. Not bad cashew chicken, but a little greasy, but the wonton soup was good. Then we did the shopping and came home, which overjoyed Miss Willow. Even Schuyler gave a volley of happy chirps. Spent the rest of the afternoon watching a science special called Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe, and two episodes of Lassie, "The Frog" (with two very funny scenes with constable Clay Horton and Ellen Miller discussing, or rather avoiding, the the sexing of frogs) and "Bee Hive." For supper we had the slow-cooked beef over spaetzle (yummy!) and the watermelon James had chosen in Kroger for dessert.

Plus we finally have the suitcase put away (since we had no need to haul it up and down in the three-week gap between Sabra's wedding and Atomicon and then the same between Atomicon and Timegate). Yayyyy. No more "little room with a teevee" for Schuyler for a long time now.

Now watching Killing Zone Atlantic, about looking for shipwrecks from the Battle of the Atlantic.

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» Sunday, May 26, 2013
Exiting the Timegate

Second verse, same as the first re sleep. You know, some people go away for the weekend to relax and sleep. Apparently I'm not one of them.

This morning we had one other thing to do: take the animals home. I figured we would eat breakfast, pack the car, take them home and come back. We could check out of the hotel when we returned. And the car had a new battery so we shouldn't have the same problem as last year.

But there was one problem: James wanted to see the ten o'clock panel and I wanted to see the eleven. This is why, after we had breakfast and loaded the car, I was the one heading home, while he saw "The SF Mystery: Does It Work?" Since it was Sunday, bad traffic was nil, but the Sunday drivers were aggravating. Still, I made it home, settled Schuyler and Willow in, and got back in 55 minutes, enough time to see most of my panel, the one on the new incarnation of Doctor Who. But this panel made me laugh, because most of it appeared to be complaints about the "new regime" of Steven Moffat. It wasn't two years ago that we were hearing the same complaints about Russell T. Davies, and how glad everyone was that he was leaving and turning things over to Moffat!

I left early just in case there was a line for Colin Baker's panel, but the big crowd had been yesterday. I was able to hear the end of Colin Spaull's panel where he told about being in a production of Heidi (in 1959) where he played Peter the goatherd. He thought he was going to Switzerland, but they filmed it on the backside of an old London zoo, and, in a scene where he was herding the goats, they had to cut because three kangaroos were in the background. :-)

Anyway, it was great finally seeing Colin Baker. His Doctor doesn't have a good reputation, and, if I have to be honest, I don't remember that many of his episodes, and what I do remember is scenes: the twins playing chess in "The Twin Dilemma" (voted, as he pointed out in the panel, if not the worst episode ever, at least one of the worst), his burst of temper, his companion Mel trying to get him to exercise and drink carrot juice (I'd have bursts of temper, too), and, most famously, his encounter with the evil Valeyard in "Trial of a Time Lord." I understand the audio dramas are much better, as they had better scripts. He did talk about filming "The Two Doctors" in Spain; they arrived, but most of the costuming didn't, and he and the rest of the cast had to...horrors!...loll around the pool for four days before it was delivered!

He talked about still being friends with Doctor Who cast members, including those who he didn't play opposite, like Louise Jameson, whom he's really good friends with and has appeared onstage with. In fact, he mentioned, Nicola Bryant, who played Peri, was competing in a composer competition later in the evening, with his own daughter Bindi singing the songs Nicola had composed. They've done many audio dramas together. His love of the series was very evident and he said he couldn't have imagined as a young man first seeing the series that he would ever have a part in it (especially since his father forced him to study law).

Anyway, a warm and very nice gentleman, as you will learn further down.

And now it was time for the final panel of the day, "What Books Are We Reading?: Books We Keep Coming Back To," which turned into a discussion of "comfort books," the ones you re-read when you are stressed or depressed or feeling lost. The answers were not just SF/fantasy genre, either, as Jody Lynn Nye admitted hers was Gaudy Night (after which we discovered several Dorothy Sayers fans in the audience), and we even had a few romances. One gentleman even admitted that when he found himself  becoming too conventional and complacent, he went back to Kurt Vonnegut, whom I never considered a "comfort" read, but then "comfort" means different things to different folks. (Just in case you were wondering, my vote was Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy. And, though I didn't talk about it, Kate Seredy's The Open Gate.)

There was another panel I would have gone to, about favorite showrunners, but James and I decided to get a little something to eat. We always stay for the wrapup panel and the last two years have been sitting there starving. So I had potato skins and he had chicken wings, and we were set (literally, as we didn't have supper when we got home).

Wrap-up is always bittersweet. You can tell the con committee is exhausted, and after an eventful weekend they want some blissful rest. But time was taken to thank the con committee and the track managers and the hotel liaisons. There were a few complaints, but mostly suggestions for next  year, and including one happy revelation: we had been told that Colin Baker was donating a portion of his autograph session profits to the convention charity, one of the Atlanta food banks. It was only after he was well away on his flight that we were told he donated all of his profits to the charity! Combined with the $1000 raised from the cabaret fee, I think almost $4000 was raised all told. How lovely!

Anyway, as has been in the past few years, there are suggestions for expansion—a science track, children's activities—and perhaps a new hotel. It's good to see Timegate doing so well, but I hope it never gets too big, as being small is part of its charm.

Ninety minutes flew by, and then we were back on the road and home, and unloading the car, talking to the critters, and watching Alaska: the Last Frontier (totally hysterical segments about Otz and Charlotte having to move their outhouse because the "poopsicle" in it was finally getting so tall that...well, you know) and the next segment of North America, about young animals learning how to survive. Schuyler perked up a little as well. I hate when she moults!

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» Friday, May 24, 2013
Into the Timegate

Sleep is a good thing, but knowing things are done is a better feeling. This probably explains why I could have slept until 9:30 and instead was up at eight (aside from nature's strident screams). Had thought about going to BJs this morning, but we wouldn't have had the time. Instead we stopped at Dollar General for a few things, then went up to the Barnes & Noble at West Cobb to pick up a book that turned out to not be there. I looked for another book that Dani Torres is always talking about, but it wasn't there either. I finally settled on a cool-looking memoir about a family taking a year off for an around-the-world trip.

One of the soups of the day in the store cafe was chicken with wild rice, so we had some lunch there, sharing a piece of chocolate cheesecake for dessert. This ended the pleasure portion of our morning; we had to stop at the bank then head home. We'd packed most of our stuff up before leaving the house and we just added the few things we bought at the dollar store, set Schuyler's cage in the backseat and coaxed Willow into same, and headed off on our last adventure for the spring.

This being Friday and this being Atlanta and it being around two o'clock, we were afraid of being clogged in traffic on I-285. Thankfully, this didn't happen until we were almost at our destination, the Holiday Inn Perimeter for this years Timegate. So we missed the traffic, but had to wait a half hour to check in. There were folks to talk to, though, including a guy who had driven in all the way from Shreveport.  Nice room, though, a king-size bed with a sofa bed, and free bottled water so we don't need to raid the car for water for Willow. We settled the fids, brought up the rest of our stuff, and cooled off for a few minutes before heading downstairs to registration.

For some reason we always have trouble registering for this convention. One year we paid but the machine was out of paper so we didn't get a receipt or something, so we weren't on the list. Last year something else was wrong, and then we didn't have the money to pre-register for next year (and the car battery did its thing...). We instead pre-registered at DragonCon, which was the last date for the bargain price, and early this year we got an e-mail confirming our registration. So we got to the desk to discover that we were just one of some DragonCon pre-registrations that didn't make it into the computer. Registration personnel know us by now because of all the glitches, and I had the foresight to print out the letter, so we had no trouble.

The restaurant was another story. We got there at 4:50, found out the buffet wouldn't start until 5:30 due to some miscommunication, and had to order off the menu. We didn't get our food until 5:30, and we got our appetizer with our entrees. I think the Holiday Inn needs to get Gordon Ramsey in here. And I really miss the nice plain food they used to serve. They had a decent spaghetti and meatballs when we first started coming, and other simple stuff; now they are all about blackened fish and chipolte this and that, trendy crap. All but the two most expensive beef dishes were highly spiced in one way or the other, so I had ot have a salad wth chicken breast, which was good, but that's beside the point. We spent the meal tasting the mango salad dressing trying to figure what the spice was in it. Clay and Anne messaged us during the meal; they were in the hotel, and they came down to talk with us as we finished eating.

James took Willow out before opening ceremonies and we took her in with us; she sat in a chair between us and was good as gold. Alan had to squint to point out all the guests in the audience, and of course the two special guests, Colin Baker and Colin Spaull, came up on stage. The former brought down the house by saying he preferred Atlanta to Detroit, where he appeared last weekend, and cheerfully said he was going to write a book called "Time Lords Dig Chicks," riffing on the Hugo -award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords.

I brought Wil back to the room, where she drank madly, talked to Skye for a few minutes, then went back downstairs to join the panel "My Favourite Mistake," folks defending what was otherwise a universally reviled episode of Doctor Who. The choices ranged from old episodes like "Time and the Rani" and even the television movie with Paul McGann, to modern ones like "Fear Her," proving that what's one man's travesty is someone else's favorite, even if it's just for certain scenes.

James joined me for the Britcoms panel, which started out talking about Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine, but soon folks were chiming in with their favorites. We found out we weren't the only Dave Allen fans in the room.

James went to a panel on time-travel novels, which he enjoyed very much, and I went to the panel about Who in the 1960s. Louis Robinson told a hysterical story about how Monty Python's Flying Circus made it on the BBC, and a lovely woman named Annette Laing, former president of the Patrick Troughton fan club, a history professor who became a history professor because of Doctor Who, told stories about her visit to Great Britain. She and her mother visited with Patrick Troughton, who took her through the BBC, and when she talked about his dying, she became all choked up. I had to stay behind and tell her about how nice he was to us at MOC, the night before he died, and she just continued talking about how generous he was.

I ran upstairs to the room, knowing that after drinking so much when I took Wil upstairs before, she'd probably need to go out. The dog walk area is in a far corner, brightly lighted, but in the midst of a big dim parking lot. As I approached the dog walk area I heard a radio. Willow squatted to pee just as a man came out of a dark car parked right next to the area. I felt my heart in my throat, but calmly told Willow to come along. The man was paying more attention to another man coming down the parking lot. I have to say I was scared, but I just walked her calmly on, and they didn't bother me. I stopped to let her poop under a tree, collected the leavings, and then went inside. Whew. Sad that you can't trust anyone anymore. I mean, they looked like hotel workers and were probably on break, but how do you know?

Several people petted Wil as I led her through the atrium area and I found James, Anne, and Clay talking to a young woman who was interested in writing SF and who'd been at the panel. Then they headed for bed and James walked me back outside in  case Willow needed to finish peeing (she did) and those guys were still back there. Hm.

Everyone our age seemed to have gone up to bed; Caro McCully was the only person left down there that we knew. So we came upstairs to soothe a restless Schuyler and cool off.

And now it's an hour later and it's time for bed!

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» Thursday, May 23, 2013
A Mixed Bag, With Scrubbing
Yeah, don't faint—a midweek post that's not a Daybook. It's been a bit of a week. Had a lot of work ready to go out, but my supervisors were so overloaded with other work they only got to one  Frustrating.

Had some leave days to use up, so took one today. It was a mixed bag of a day: I washed two bathroom floors, two toilets, the kitchen floor, and the dog. I also went to Aldi for milk and chocolate early enough that it was warm but still fairly pleasant and breezy out. The storm that wreaked so much devastation in Oklahoma dispersed on its way east and we got no rain at all. There are no words for Oklahoma; it looks like the city was aerial bombed.

I also took down the spring decorations, so the house is now "almost fall" again with a few exceptions (the table in the foyer).

While I was having lunch I watched two episodes of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, a 1999 animated series (watched another after James got home, which concluded a story arc). I'd picked up the entire series at Fry's for $7. The story: in the 22nd century, Inspector Lestrade's great-great [whatever] granddaughter is a police officer in New London, under Director Grayson. She's been given a Cyborg sidekick she sarcastically calls "Watson." When the brainwashing device they use on violent criminals suddenly quits working, Lestrade thinks it's the work of a new Moriarty and has Sherlock Holmes, who lived a long life and died of old age, and whose body was preserved in honey, revived and then rejuvenated by an experimental process. Sherlock survives this frightful process with aplomb, is a quick study on the centuries he's missed, and is soon following clues again using "eyes and brain," and a certain amount of snark, ably voiced by Jason Gray-Stanford, who went on to play Randy Disher on Monk. Lestrade's cyborg reads all the journals of Dr. Watson given to him by Holmes and absorbs his mannerisms as well. Fitted with a plastic face that mimics Watson, the cyborg becomes Watson.

Kinda corny but not as bad as the angular cartoons they have today, and they have neat touches: for instance, in one episode Holmes and Lestrade meet Wiggins, head of a group of street kids (Baker Street Irregulars, anyone?). Most of the episodes are thinly based on Holmes stories. Of course if Holmes says "Elementary, my dear Watson" (something Holmes never said) or "eyes and brains" one more time, I'm going to bop him. :-)

We had potlucks for supper and watched the season finale of Elementary. I have to admit, I never thought of that permutation! In fact, I had suspicions near season beginning that Moriarty might be Holmes Senior. This series has been a pleasant surprise. They didn't get gicky with the Holmes/female Watson relationship and the mysteries and characters have been interesting. Loved the ending with Joan and the "new bee."

Later we watched the final two episodes of season three of Hawaii Five-O. Never saw that coming, either. I mean, that's where they leave us? Seriously? Seriously? Aieeeeeee! And we never heard Doris' explanation of why she visited Wo Fat. "To be continued" indeed!

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» Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, MAY 21, 2013

Outside my window...
...getting on toward sunset; I had no time to write this morning. The birds are taking their last bites from the feeder as the cool sunset wraps around the grove of trees behind the house. Look at that brisk little chickadee on top of the hook.

I am thinking...
...I'm in no way ready for summer, but today I took the freshly-washed jackets and scarves and hats and gloves and put them up in the closet. Now it's time to watch the calendar until October, with end-of-fiscal-year standing there like a Death's Head in between.

I am thankful...
...that I've finally been able to complete a craft project! I almost don't want to do anything after work anymore, my head aches so, especially when I have to drive in. I'm not sure what bothers me most, the commute or the fluorescent lights. Even the sun seems kinder than the lights!

In the kitchen...
...James is slow cooking a piece of London broil. We had about a third of it tonight as "beef bits" with mushrooms, onions, and cashews, with ramen noodles on the side, and now he's cooking the rest with wine.

I am wearing...
...definitely in summer stuff now: black shorts and tank top, and some white socks to keep my tootsies warm under the A/C.

I am creating...
...I've just finished painting the last bit of the "Me Shelf." (It's really "Shelves," I suppose.) Need to find a way to prop the "World Book" up a bit.

I am going...
...(I hope) to have a good rest this weekend, and have some fun as well. I can hardly believe it's Memorial Day weekend already! Of course, James isn't even sure yet whether he's working the holiday or not.

I am wondering... I can find more time in a 24-hour day and not lose sleep at the same time. My verdict: Impossible!

I am reading...
...just finished Duel With the Devil, about Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr's real-life team-up in a murder trial four years before the famous duel. The author paints a very vivid picture of turn-of-the-century (the 19th century, that is) New York City. Still in progress on some other books.

I am hoping... sleep tonight! I hate going to work with less than five hours sleep.

I am looking forward to...
...Sherlock Holmes, the Doctor, books-books-books, and various other surprises this weekend.

I am learning...
...rather, I'm relearning how to do a Blanket Purchase Agreement. Haven't done one in years.

Around the house...
...television is on, the bird just clucked, the dog has taken advantage of James' absence to commandeer his recliner. I just vacuumed and there are onionskins on the carpet. Yeesh.

I am pondering...
...unfriending people on Facebook. I friended several persons just to play Farmville and don't play any longer. But I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. So what do you think?
 One of my favorite things...
...wildlife shows. It's time to watch North America! It begins with the most adorable mountain goats. I'm waiting for the bit about the fox pouncing in the snow.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
A day off, a day out, maybe a book shipment, and Amazon Vine!

A peek into my day...
It's late, and I think I'll skip this this week. Perhaps next week I can do better.

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



» Monday, May 20, 2013
Project: The "Me" Shelf
I've written before about my love of a vendor called "Country Pickin's" who ply their wares at the Yellow Daisy Festival every year. They make little "shadow boxes" and the figures that go in them. I've bought one a year for several years now. My first, of course, was this, which stays up in the dining room all year 'round except for Christmas and winter. (Two years ago, I bought a few little Hallowe'en figures to go in it at that time of year. Such is my torrid interest in Hallowe'en that I completely forgot about them last year.)

Fall Shadow Box

I "cheated" a bit with the next one and bought the same shadow box to serve for two seasons. Here it has Christmas figures (and it's hung in the kitchen at Christmastime):

Christmas Shadow Box

And here it is with the winter figures (back in the dining room):

Winter Shadow Box

The next one was intended to go in the kitchen, and there it sits, except at Christmas, when the Christmas shadow box is there. "Kiss the cook," of course, refers to James, because you don't want to eat what I cook. LOL.

Kitchen Shadow Box

Since our bathroom has a lighthouse/seashore theme, it was natural that I put together this piece for the bathroom:

Bathroom Shadow Box

This cute little shelf (which I painted; it was raw wood when I bought it) is supposed to represent the household: the dog and the birdhouses, the apple motif for our kitchen/dining room, the gingerbread to represent both James' love of baking and Christmas. The autumn leaves are decorative buttons from Michael's with the shanks cut off, and of course there are the two heart buttons for James and I.

Household Shadow Box

I bought this one for myself, and it's over the bookcases next to my side of the bed. "Fall Forever" is the motif.

Fall Forever Shadow Box

So when last year came, my thought was "What next?" There are several other themes that Country Pickin's sells, but I have no interest in. One is beach/tropical, another is sewing, yet another is cooking, and there is Hallowe'en. I thought of the patriotic theme, and then had a brainstorm: I would do a "me" shelf, which would be filled with things that represent my interests.

One problem: they didn't have some things that I am particularly interested in, like drawing or writing or books or cross stitch.

We all know who the mother of invention is! So this is what I bought last September. You can see the bookcase (of course), the dog, the sheep (there are sheep all over the house), the lighthouse, the Christmas tree, the birdhouse, the snow plaque, the gingerbread, the fall hatbox, and the inevitable apple.

However, at the bottom, you'll see a sewing figure next to the apple, and at the right, a column of very uncharacteristic Linda things: a Hallowe'en slate, some cookbooks, and three Hallowe'en themed books, the two small purple spell books and the ugly yellow/orange open one (and, would you believe, I wished they'd had more?).

2012 Purchases

Paintboxes are wonderful things and so are color printers. Here, in the same order they are in in the previous photo, are the remade items. The slate is now an Android tablet, the folksy cookbooks are now folksy favorite books (especially Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot!), the two spell books are now Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy and Kate Seredy's The Open Gate, and the ugly yellow and orange and purple spellbook is now an open volume of the World Book. Plus "stitched with love" has spools of thread removed and "skeins of floss" replacing them.

Some sheets of paper make a little drawing pad (with a budgie on it) and half a yellow toothpick, painted with a black tip and a pink "eraser" turns into a pencil. And then there's one more cross stitch item.


Here's how you make a miniature cross stitch frame with a project in progress. Take four red toothpicks and cut the tips off:

Crossed Toothpicks

Here's the hard part: take a bit of 32-count evenweave cloth and start stitching a design with one strand of floss "over one." (If you have more brains than I did, you will use a magnifying glass. Ouch!)

Cross Eyed Stitch

And finally you glue the "work in progress" to the frame. (Make sure the glue doesn't stain like mine did. No, I'm not redoing it. Not now. My eyes hurt thinking about it.)

Cross Stitch in Frame

I hope they are there in the fall. And have more spell books I can turn into other books, because this will need more books. Many more books.

It's not quite finished yet, as I need to paint the back of the "World Book" brown so it matches the sides. Then I'll see about setting up the shelves. Maybe I'll put the tiny glass Christmas figures I got at the glass shop in Helen on it, too.

There's one kicker. When I finish it, there's nowhere to put it. Looks like I need to call on Necessity again...



» Sunday, May 19, 2013
And When the Sky Was Opened

Friday night I couldn't sleep. Last night I could have, judging by the portions in which I did, if the dad-blasted weather radio hadn't been blasting off at regular intervals to tell us there were flood warnings in Bartow County. (We don't live in Bartow County. We don't even live near Bartow County.) At one point James had no sooner gotten up and made the radio shut up and then gotten back to bed than it went off again with more flood warnings for Bartow County. Ugh.

I know I did sleep a bit because I woke up from a dream where we went to someone's house where they'd just moved in. I looked at the bare walls and said to James, "Remind me to do something about our walls when we get home." We do now have some space on the bedroom wall now that the stuffed animals are gone. I bought about four of those multi-photo frames several years back; I need to pick out some family and friend photos, have them printed at Walgreen's or CVS, and put them in the frames and put the frames up. I've only intended to do it for five years now.

It had thundered earlier and it was still awash outside, so we took our time with breakfast and doing internet surfing. A little after noon, the weather took a breather and we made a quick stop by Bed, Bath & Beyond to get a new seat cushion for my desk chair before going to Costco. It was a busy place to spend a Sunday afternoon. We strolled by the cameras and the DVDs and the books, and the new Galaxy Note, and cut a swath through the store. It turned out they had Brawny and ScotTissue and other things we needed, so that our planned trip to BJs (the original plan for today) wasn't so much of a washout (pun intended). And we lucked out as it wasn't raining at all when we exited.

After the groceries were put up, we bought my gas for the week, and then we were done with chores for the day. We watched parts eight and nine of Edwardian Farm, had some chicken wings for dinner, and watched the final parts of series two of Call the Midwife and Mr. Selfridge.

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Not Necessarily Brain Twisters

Dammit, what has gotten into my sleep cycle? With a chance to sleep late this morning for the first time in five days, I'm restless and can't. I didn't get up when James left for work, but I was awake not long afterwards. What a PITA.

So I had nothing planned for today, although I'd either wanted to go to Office Max or Bed, Bath & Beyond, and got to neither due to stomach cramps. However, I did get some things done that needed to be done, including one thing long delayed. First I had to go to all the sites where I use my main credit card and change the expiration date of the card, since my new one arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. I think I got everyone but SiriusXM, and I don't remember our account number, especially since I don't use them anymore. I also ordered some books from Hamilton Books, mostly for gifts, but also a book by Agathe von Trapp and the third Nikki Heat book.

I also did something I put off last year: updating the copyrights on my web pages. I usually do it New Year's Day. But not only had I skipped this New Year's, I did so last year, too, so everything still said 2011. That has not been amended.

And I finally worked on some crafts, back to putting together my "shelf" project, from the parts I bought from Country Pickin's at the Yellow Daisy Festival. Today I painted part of a couple of the miniature books, and painted what is going to be a tablet. I also turned some multicolor string into "embroidery skeins" and made a drawing pad and a pencil. Once the books are dry I can paint the other sides of them.

We had bought soup last night and James had a veggie burger, so we ate in and watched Doctor Who: rewatched "The Crimson Horror" (still giggle at the Tegan jokes), and then "Nightmare in Silver," cueing up finally for "The Name of the Doctor." I've watched it twice so far and my mind is still pretzel-shaped. So who is John Hurt's "Doctor"? Is it the Doctor of the Time War? (McGann's Doctor grown old?) Or someone else? Rodney turned up on chat and for about an hour we were batting around the ideas that were being tossed around on the Digital Spy website.

Then I went back to watching The New Adventures of Kimba the White Lion on YouTube. This is a recently updated version, not the 1980s version that took the original cartoon and put new voices and music to it. It's in Japanese with English subtitles, but you can keep up with a lot of what's going on without them. And the credits are adorable, showing "Leo" and "Liya" (a.k.a. "Kimba" and "Kitty" here in the U.S.) as tiny cubs (even if they don't meet in the series until they are adolescents).

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» Sunday, May 12, 2013
Mother of Sleepy Pets

A quiet Sunday; even Schuyler and Willow spent most of the day sleeping. James made buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, then we went out to do a few errands: mail a card, pick up a newspaper, and get a new CO2 cylinder for his Soda Stream. Then we could enjoy ourselves for about an hour at Barnes & Noble, where I picked up Mr. Monk Gets Even, which Lee Goldberg states in the introduction is his final Monk novel. Puzzled, though—in the rear of the book is the first chapter of another Monk novel, supposedly written by Lee Goldberg! Odd. I also picked up Paul Reiser's Parenthood for $2. I loved Couplehood, but Babyhood was a bit of a disappointment. For $2 I'll give Parenthood a try.

After stopping for gasoline we came home for the afternoon. Sat through a dreadful show on BBC America called Top Gear because they were building a space shuttle and James wanted to see if they could get it to launch. (Well, it did, but the landing was a bit of a fireball.) They were running Gordon Ramsey this morning and it was much preferable, even if Gordon does scold more than Schuyler does!

Spent the afternoon finally trying to catch up on the second season of How The States Got Their Shapes. We had the beef tortellini with the spaghetti sauce I made yesterday, which was okay and not as greasy as I feared. Later it was time for Call the Midwife—Chummy returns, a black woman in the almost-all-white Poplar neighborhood faces bigotry, a downtrodden woman and the bullying man who took her and her son in years earlier await the return of the young man from America—and finally Mr. Selfridge, with a smart lesson about being the other woman, as well as the power of discounts.

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» Saturday, May 11, 2013
Meat and Memories

Sadly, the bed can't guarantee a good night's sleep. I was fine until about six a.m. and then this and that began to hurt and I began to toss and turn and...well, you know the drill. James awoke minutes before the alarm, so that night was shot.

Today was the day we were supposed to provide the centerpiece luncheon at Hair Day: James had planned to make teriyaki chicken. Then his revised May work schedule came out. Joy, he had to work today. However, his hours were from noon to nine, and he did want a haircut, so we had to hustle. This means we split up like a couple of pool balls at the Farmer's Market; James picked up the veggies and the chicken salad, and I snagged some goat cheese, some cookies for dessert, and finally some beef tortellini for supper tomorrow (I wanted beef ravioli, but they were out).

We bought breakfast (ah, I see Burger King has gotten wise and is not offering its oatmeal pre-mixed anymore) and then proceeded on one of my favorite rides, from Barrett Parkway to Macland Road through Villa Rica Road. It was in the 60s with a nice breeze, with the scent of greenery thick in the air. I'm not certain what grows at this time of year, but there is a particular spicy odor associated with groves of trees, not minty or "greeny," but unmistakably pungent. (Not to mention, judging by the way my eyes are itching now, something else I'm allergic what else is new?)

We were able to spend at least a good hour talking with everyone before we were on the road again. James dropped me off and went to work, I put the produce away, wrote out the penalty check to the State of Georgia, and headed off to the post office. (I mailed in our Georgia tax payment on time, but TurboTax had the wrong PO box number on the paperwork. The post awful returned our tax payment. When I mailed it in with a copy of the incorrect PO box number and the returned envelope, they assessed us a penalty anyway. Phooey. Don't have time to mess with it.) On the way home I stopped at Kroger because James had forgotten to tell me he needed pudding and I needed bread. I lucked out and found some pork roast on the hot bar, and also got something to make sauce to go on the tortellini.

With everything stuffed into the insulated bag, I made a quick stop at Barnes & Noble, and noticed that there weren't five books out I wanted. There were six. Sigh. So I bought Victoria Thompson's newest in paperback and then headed home.

Spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the spare bedroom, which has been disordered since we had the new bed installed. I took the memory-foam pad that we had on the old mattress and put it on the futon; I'll put the egg-crate foam on the sofa-bed in my craft room. It's a bit neater in the spare room now, but won't be completely cleared for a couple of weeks. Also did some vacuuming, pulled out the hose and gave the front porch a good washing down (even though Alex had used the leaf blower on it), and copied things off the DVR, including Len Goodman's Titanic special, the special about the Seattle World's Fair, the Lipizzaner episode of Nature, some short clips, and finally Castle (and Best Defense for James).

In between all that, I worked on the spaghetti sauce for tomorrow's dinner. I really don't like using sauce right out of the jar; it never tastes all that good, even if it's the best stuff, with no sugar added. So one of the items I bought at Kroger was some pork. I couldn't find any small packages of chops or boneless ribs, so I bought pork neck bones. I knew this would be extra work because the neck bones would be more fatty and also because I would have to strain the bits of bone out of the resultant sauce. But I figured I could manage it, and I did, and the strangest thing happened: as I was peeling the bits of meat off the pork neck bones to place in the container. Of course I was nibbling the leftover meat from the bones—this is the most savory meat, after all. I knew I'd never cooked neck bones before—but I remember doing this before, long, long ago, eating the last bits of meat off the neck bones and crunching cartilage. Not only that, but I recall that Mom and I did this together. It was spooky. I'm guessing many years ago when I was of elementary school age we had a week or two where money came up short and Mom bought neck bones to make the gravy rather than the cut of pork she always used. What an odd but comforting memory for the eve of Mother's Day!

[I'm putting the gravy in the refrigerator. The extra fat from the neck bones should rise to the top and we can skim it off before warming it up for supper.]

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» Friday, May 10, 2013
Sleep Rises

I can now confirm that the bed really is conducive to sleep, if your body is so inclined. I woke up this morning about 8:30, squinted at the alarm clock, said "I should get up," and my head plunked back down on the pillow. The same thing happened at 9:30. At ten I said to myself sternly, "Now are  you really going to waste your day off sleeping?"

Well, it was tempting...

Instead I wasted my day off going to Walmart. :-) But we needed BreatheRights and they are cheapest there. I also found the elusive Yellow Banana, which Kroger has evidently forgotten about for the last three weeks, so bought them there, and picked up a few other odds and ends like soy isoflavones and two new pairs of diabetic socks for James. I had a nice nostalgic moment walking through the stationery department and spying a 12-pack of PaperMate Flair pens in a rainbow of colors. I had a full set of Flairs years ago, which I used along with my crayons to make covers on the spiral-bound notebooks I filled with stories, wanting "proper books."

Made a brief stop at Petsmart to pick up some fruit pellets for Schuyler. There was a gregarious sun conure in one of the glass cages on the end cap and he brightened as he saw me approach the budgies and came close to the glass. He was on the floor of the cage and when I said hello to him he obligingly rolled over like a little dog asking for a tummy rub. What a cutie! After I'd picked up the pellets I came out from the other side of the conure's cage to find him in the little fur-lined triangle "tent" that are little cozy places for birds. He came right out when he saw me, and when I waved at him, he lifted his right foot and "waved" back. Yes, a cutie. Who was $600. And noisy. Not a birdie you take "to the little room with the teevee."

I had to go to Kroger anyway, to pick up a prescription, and I'd given them enough time, so off I went, hoping to finish up the rest of the shopping. Of course I walked in and they had—you guessed it!—yellow bananas. Gah. Picked up what I thought we needed and finally came home to do some housework and try to finish The Apothecary, which I picked up at Books-a-Million a few weeks ago. A great adventure book!

We had supper at Stevie-B's again, then went to Barnes & Noble. There are more fifteen percent off coupons this weekend. Of course, we go weeks and weeks with no new books, and now this weekend we have two coupons and at least five books I want! One of them was on the remainder shelf, so I bought it as well as the new Dr. Dody McCleland mystery.

Finally we stopped at Publix to get a few twofers (and ended up, of course, getting a lot more), and then drove home past Kennesaw National Battlefield Park. It was twilight, the perfect time to drive around the park, and, as I noted on April 26, it's so funny seeing those wonderful cozy porches with plush-cushioned wicker furniture or rocking chairs and pretty tables and softly-lighted lamps, and a beautiful cool night out, and no one sitting outside!

Watched a couple of things off the DVR, including the thoughtful "The Leash" episode of Lassie (Jeff is fearful of all his family after a friend's mother is seriously injured in a car accident), and last night's Late Night With David Letterman. I remember when I loved staying up late to see the first incarnation of his show on NBC; it was quirky enough to be funny, like my beloved Ask the Manager, and had some cool guests (I still  have one of the Siskel and Ebert appearances). Today's Dave is old and cranky. He had Jack Hanna on and I wasn't sure if Hanna was scowling because Dave was being such an idiot or because he was stoned. The animals were cute but Dave was appalling. The final part of the show had him interviewing Benedict Cumberbatch. You should have heard the audience groan and seen Cumberbatch roll his eyes when Dave referred to his being in the new Star Wars movie. In the words of Marian Jordan: "'Tain't funny, McGee."

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» Thursday, May 09, 2013
Tired and It's Not Even Fourth Quarter
This week at work has been just plain exhausting. Granted, I was still feeling sick on Monday. And it's not as if there's a ton of work. I only have thirty-five orders. It's just that they take so long to do anymore. Even with three fluorescent bulbs off, it's still too bright. The light reflecting off my desk blotters hurts my eyes. But the worst is that I can't seem to make any progress. I just start working on one thing when something else comes up, and then a third thing interrupts that. I can't seem to work chronologically any longer. That makes it harder to concentrate.

I think the bed is working out for a better sleep, although I haven't had a chance for the minimum eight hours since we brought it home. I have the strangest dreams, though. Last night was melancholy: I dreamt that we found the last Borders that was still open. Of course the dream ended before we could go in. Damn.

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» Sunday, May 05, 2013
Home From Paradise

Much better sleep last night, although James had to wake me up to tell me I was snoring. I'm not surprised, as my nose has been stuffy since we arrived. Unfortunately a call of nature sent me to the bathroom well before the alarm. Not to mention several other times this morning. Nor did I improve. Sigh.

Almost everyone was down for breakfast on this final day, either in the actual dining room itself or in our meeting room. James had gone downstairs before me and saved me a place at the end of a table, and we ate in the midst of happy chatter. After we finished, we went upstairs, finished packing, towed everything downstairs and stuffed it into the car, checked out, and then returned to the meeting room, which we had until three. But it was Sunday and it was raining and one by one people started to leave: the Lawsons, with Aaron only days to go until his fifteenth birthday; Jessie and Aubrey and their friends (including the irrepressible Isabel); a couple here, others there. James was getting one of his visual migraines and so we left about 1:30, driving through the drizzle and the mizzle, stopping at the North Georgia Premium Outlets to use the facilities. (As we were leaving, the Butlers showed up, and Facebook showed later that several others left pretty much after we did.)

The clouds lessened as we approached Dunwoody, and of course by the time we got there the sky was partly cloudy and the sun was peeking into the bits of blue sky showing. Willow came charging out of the back room in obvious delight, and then in a hurry to leave, whether her sister was ready or not. Schuyler was delivered next, all fluff and hitting at her bell. It turns out Willow is turning out her hindlegs not because of arthritis but because the ligaments on her knee joints are slipping. The growth appears benign.

So we get home and of course then we have to go to Kroger. I shall scream one day when I walk in there. There had to be about fifty or sixty bananas at least and every single one of them was green. I bought peaches instead. The sandwich buns were covered in poppy seeds, which are even more revolting than caraway seeds. However, we did find something for supper, and some chicken for Tuesday night, and a few desserts. The sun and blue sky proved to be a "sucker hole," and by the time we got out of Kroger it was already spitting rain, although it didn't break into the real thing until a bit later. I tossed all our weekend things into the washer, brought James' blankets upstairs, and then we watched the last two episodes of Elementary and the next part of the Nature about Australia (some of it being last in the rain), as well as a new Feasts and Seasons about Saints Philip and James.

Then finally it was time for Call the Midwife, a melancholy story about tuberculosis in  the flats and a young woman who is the last survivor of an entire family, except for her father, who died of TB. She has never found herself good enough for him.

And now we are on to Mr. Selfridge...and the weekend will be over. A good weekend, despite the rain.

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» Saturday, May 04, 2013
All Awash

And so it rained. It rained in small drops and rained in large, it misted and poured and pattered in succession.

I don't believe anyone cared.

I just wished we'd gotten more sleep. Even though it was chilly out, none of the air was coming in the window. The room was warm, the blankets were heavy, the bed was comfy, but, frankly, the pillows sucked. Two were too little and three was too much. We tossed and turned and grumbled and moaned, and finally I grabbed the big pillow I'd intended to use as a floor pillow (my old feather pillows stuffed in one big flannel pillowcase) and used those. And then I did get some sleep, but all it was was nightmares. I dreamt Schuyler got out of her cage and was fluttering about on the floor like she did the other night and some strange old woman almost stepped on her. By the time the alarm rang, I was staggering on my feet.

Was better after breakfast. We were able to take our food into the conference room and eat all together, which was fun. We haven't been able to do that at the Lodge for years. The last time we got the breakfast room was...I think it was the year I had my surgery.

We took our time with breakfast, and, about 11:30, along with our friend Sue, drove out to Clarkesville. We were trying to find a local antique mall that also had a store that sold art supplies/models/comics/toys/backyard birding supplies (I kid you not). The antique mall was on the main road. We had a good hour walking about here; each of the little booths inside had not only tchotckes and furniture and vintage glass and dishes, but old books. I saw a 1961 civics book but didn't buy it.

In the back there was a larger bookstore; mostly old things. I found several children's books, including two taking place during World War II, a Reader's Digest pictorial about the first World War, and two books for James, a 1959 aerospace children's book and a WWI-set series book. James found a gift for someone and bought a rechargdable flashlight.

We also went to the art supplies/etc. part of the store, which is in downtown Clarkesville, a tenth of mile away. It was Free Comic Book Day, so we all got comics. The art supply part of the store was incredible. They even had encaustic wax, which I've heard of in relation to ancient artwork, but I've never seen the actual thing.

We came back to the hotel in time to relax a bit and then get ready to watch the Kentucky Derby. The race track in Kentucky was equally awash and at the end of the race all the horses were the same color: brown. So were the jockeys. It was an excellent race, despite the mucky track; the winner, Orb, came from the middle of the pack to win. James and Lin favored a horse called "Normandy Invasion." :-)

After that we went to the Western Sizzlin' for supper (a nice variety on the buffet), then came back for more games and chatter.

[Later: When everyone was back from supper, Bill's copy of "The Crimson Horror" (latest Doctor Who) was cued up and at least a dozen of us watched the episode. Sue said it was the best Clara episode she'd seen so far, and I thought it was pretty good myself. Plus there were two references to a previous companion! When the episode was finished, I found a game of Chronology just finishing up and took someone's place. We played two games, chatted a bit more, and then went upstairs about one.]

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» Friday, May 03, 2013
Friday Evening at the Uno Game
It had begun to mist heavily by dinner time. We corralled Sue, Bill, and Caran and went to Bodensee, the German restaurant we went to last year. James and I had the sampler plate. Sue tasted a little of everything and we still have leftovers; it's a big platter for two. We had a nice chat and, since we walked there and back, got rather damp as it was drizzling in earnest on the return trip.

Changed our clothes and spent the rest of the evening in the big conference room, where we got the sad news about Alice's brother Joe. Earlier in the afternoon we got word that Joe had been in a car accident caused by his having a heart attack while driving. Ironically, it was good that it happened then because if he had been at home, it might have been days before he was found. Instead people who saw the accident called the police and Joe was rushed to the hospital. But he didn't make it. Alice is devastated; she just talked to him this morning.

Later on we played Big Bang Theory Uno, which has a "Soft Kitty" card, which can be meaner than a Draw 4 card. :-)

But I'm tiring early because of the fluorescent lights in the conference room. Nasty things. Just like at work.

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And So After Bed
Well, not bad. James thinks the pillow that we got with the mattress (we got one each, but I chose to pillowcase my two new feather pillows and happily used them instead) is still a bit too thin. We'll work on it. We had the head raised at the same angle as our old wedgies. Pretty nice.

And then we finished up packing and drove to Helen.

Well, there were divers steps in between. :-) We had to load the animals into the car and take them to the vet to board, and to get their checkups. The kennel lady came to get Willow so quickly that she didn't even have time to panic. She gave me a goodbye sniff and trotted off. Schuyler looked a bit perturbed about being taken away.

We had breakfast from Dunkin Donuts. Mnnn...wheat bagel and cream cheese with milk and a chocolate-frosted doughnut chaser. We didn't stop anywhere, just drove up listening to a BBC program about the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight and then all five parts of Hollywood History of the World, which was a lot of fun. It was narrated by George McDonald Fraser, who writes the "Flashman" books.

When we had to postpone this year's Atomicon to the first weekend in May because of construction at Unicoi, James and I were dismayed because in May it is usually in the 80s. Well, we are happy—sorta—because "the Three Chilly Sisters" appear to be here this weekend. It's going to get no warmer than in the 60s. The bad side of this is that it's going to rain all day tomorrow. Up to four inches in some places, we hear. This precludes the hikers from having a good walk (although I'd wager the more gung-ho of them will garb themselves in raincoats and go anyway). Anyway, it's cloudy today, with a brisk wind, and I don't think it's gotten out of the 50s. Nice for us.

Oh, we did stop at Nora Mill to get more buckwheat pancake mix and a little bag of Pioneer Porridge. We have some, but James has the idea of cooking it in the rice cooker. Otherwise we stayed in the meeting room Nancy had arranged for us, talking with everyone.

We are at a different hotel this year because of the construction at Unicoi, the Country Inn and Suites, within walking distance of downtown. Of course by the time we got there, it had started to rain. That was okay because everyone was already gathering at the conference room we have reserved for the weekend, and we've ended up just staying in to talk to everyone. This was different from the lodge where we usually have the entire building and thus the common area attached, but also nicer in a way. It was a large, long room which was set up with a television/theatre arrangement, and then long tables and chairs around them. This came in handing for having a snack, or using a computer/tablet, or pulling out a game. The far wall already had a microwave and a small fridge and a sink, and more tables were set up with utensils and a toaster oven. Pretty cool.

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» Thursday, May 02, 2013
And So to Bed...
It was a rather hellacious day at work.

I had one order I knew I could do and another I thought was ready. Instead I spent the morning confering and convincing. By then it was time for a training class online.By the time afternoon came the bottom had fallen out. I found out that an order I awarded last fall has run into serious difficulties. On Monday I'm going to have to participate in a conference call, but it doesn't sound like it's going to help with the order. Blast.

The only good thing that happened today—well, okay, the grass got cut—was that our new mattress was delivered. This is the one we bought at the Home Show over a month ago. It is memory foam like a TempurPedic, but is manufactured by a different company which uses soy-based materials. We also bought an adjustable mechanism for it. The head lifts and so does the foot, and it has a massage function. I was so frazzled by the time work ended and James was so tired after helping clean out the room that once I put my desk and papers up, we both lay down on the bed and let the massage lull us for a half hour. I think we only got up because we were both hungry.

We didn't know whether to laugh or cry, though. One of the things we ordered with the bed was a memory foam dog bed to soothe Willow's old bones. I think they sent the wrong one; we asked for a tan medium bed, which was 24 by 30. This is more 30 by 48 and is black. We pulled up her plush blanket and put it into place with much ceremony and called her; she lay down on it for a few minutes then wandered away. Now Wil had been in a bit of high dudgeon all day. When the bed installers called to say they were on the way, I blocked her into the dining room with the baby gate. She barked angrily at them. Then Alex and gang came to mow the lawn. More angry barking. And now we were replacing her blanket. She protested in the only way she could: she peed on it. Luckily the cover was Scotchgarded. James cleaned it up and later tossed the blanket over it. She was lying on it a little while ago and did look comfy, but to sleep tonight she still wants her favorite place: James' chair.

Okay, that was not one of the best Big Bang Theory episodes tonight, but there is something very appealing about Sheldon and Leonard being influenced by a "Mr. Wizard"-like television personality (played by Bob Newhart). Much better later on was the breathtaking "Legendary White Stallions" on Nature, the story of the Lipizzan horse. These are such beautiful animals, really "poetry in motion." I've loved Lipizzaners since seeing Disney's Miracle of the White Stallions and reading Marguerite Henry's White Stallion of Lipizza.

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