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, December 30, 2013
Trying to Help week of freedom left, and I can't sleep late.

But Things Were Done! Items were put away, I washed the towels, tossed things into a recycling bin. Willow ate the remainder of the chicken, but ignored the chicken and rice and the scrambled egg, so I tossed both, emptied the dishwasher, cleaned around the sink. Unbagged the Christmas gifts from Saturday and Sunday and put them under the tree. Indexed some new cross-stitch magazines. Put some of James' things up. Read Happy Christmas and had some chicken soup for lunch. Had Christmas music on all day for Snowy; the Dish stations end tomorrow at midnight. For the rest of Christmastide I'll go back to relying on my own stuff.

James did not get off early today, so I took Juanita's gifts and the little Christmas tree I made for her to the hospital this afternoon. I meant to take a picture of it, but never did get the chance: cute little cuss, frosted, in "sacking" at the bottom. I bought a box of eighteen glass ornaments in various colors, matte and glossy, a bead garland, and put a little star at the top and dotted about four snowman ornaments on the front. Hope it will cheer her up, for she certainly needs it. When I got there, Betty helped me gown up and put on gloves.

Sadly, although Juanita is off the IV antibiotics (due to an allergic reaction; she has to take it orally, which hurts her) and her white count is about half of what it was when she went into the hospital, she was not in good shape today: she had a fever of 102°F and was freezing although the room was very warm. She perked up enough to open the gifts (a basket with some scrapbooking things and a package with more), but then I put them aside on a shelf with the tree so she could rest again.

Apparently the hospital is overcrowded and getting someone to respond takes forever. Betty called the nurse to see if Juanita's fever was higher and it took someone 20 minutes just to show up, and at least 20 more to bring a thermometer! The container with ice water fell and although we asked to have someone come mop it up (we didn't want anyone falling, especially a nurse or a doctor), we had to clean it up for ourselves. Betty said they waited over six hours for more toilet paper to be put into the bathroom. Because of the drugs she is taking, Juanita's mouth is always dry, but they are feeding her dry food, and, worse, they are short of supplies. They have had to bring in their own pudding, peanut butter, fruit, juices, etc. (She coats her mouth with the peanut butter or the pudding to minimize the pain from the antibiotic.) And this is in one of the best hospitals in Atlanta!

(Oh, she no longer has any dietary restrictions, except, of course, for the items she has food allergies to. Betty mentioned to the sous chef—yes, they have a sous chef nutritionist!—that the chicken they had brought her was very dry; could they perhaps provide some dark meat instead. The nutritionists said they had to comply with some U.S. nutrition guidelines and they aren't allowed to cook dark meat, only white! Can you beat that? I wanted to rush home, thaw some turkey thighs, and cook 'em up with gravy so the poor woman can get some decent food.)

Headed home via Cumberland Mall to get my watch battery replaced. The guy told me it would take twenty minutes at first; say what? I've always just walked into It's About Time and had them replace the battery as I watched. I asked, "That long? I'm just here to get my battery replaced; I don't have any shopping to do," and he changed it to ten minutes. Shop in Cumberland Mall? Where? They don't even have a Radio Shack anymore. The only good stores left are the Hallmark shop and the Bath and Body Works, and I'm good with ornaments and don't need cologne.

James got home seconds before I did, and we had pork chops and mushroom rice for supper. I cut the centers out of several of my pork chop slices, to get the seasoning off, and fed them to an appreciative Willow; however, even though she crunched a couple of kibble this morning, she refused to eat the ones I spooned chicken broth over. We're just going to have to find her a new dog food.

Continued "kringly" programming tonight: "Dear Dad" and "Dear Sis" from M*A*S*H and "Lassie's Gift of Love" and "The Little Christmas Tree."

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» Sunday, December 29, 2013
Over the River and Through the Woods, Part 2

Today we were on our way to Warner Robins to "do" Christmas with James' mom and sister. James had called the vet and they said it was okay to leave Willow, so we set up a clean pee pad, put her blanket back on her bed (she had fallen asleep on the blanket last night, but I found her in her crate this morning), and James scrambled her an egg with some chicken in it. We left her that and some chicken broth, put the television on for Snowy, and headed south.

Aside from a mystery jam right before Southlake Mall, it was an uneventful ride. I drove down, and we listened to The Splendid Table and a Travel With Rick Steves, "International Christmas." I was very surprised when they talked about Christmas in Sicily and talked about having gifts on what in Mexico is the Day of the Dead. Other Italians do not do this, but then Sicily was its own kingdom up until the Unification in the late 19th century. We shared the road with seemingly dozens of vehicles from Michigan evidently heading south to The House of Mouse.

We had a nice afternoon with Mom and Candy. Unfortunately Sabra was sick, so she and Lee were not able to come over, and we wouldn't see her face when she opened her surprise. :-) We bought them a storage cube and then filled it with all sorts of breakfast foods: buckwheat pancake mix, steel-cut oats, wildflower honey from the Jonquil Festival, jellies from the Yellow Daisy Festival, jam from Panorama Orchards in Ellijay, coffee, tea, cocoa, plus a book of "Yankee thrift" projects, a cute serving platter that says "Eat at Mom's," a cheese knife, and a few other jims and jams. Got a big stocking with goodies that will last for months, and James got a military book and a DVD set about the Pacific Theater in World War II. For dinner we had spaghetti and meatballs, with James' fresh chocolate cobbler for dessert.

We headed home about 5:30. Was cold most of the way because I believed the Weather Channel forecast and wore short sleeves! Other than having to stop in McDonough for gasoline, another uneventful trip, except for the dorks riding with their brights in the rear-view mirror. We listened to Rick Steves talk to people about the upcoming Olympic Games and about New Year's customs in Europe, and another Splendid Table. The last caller said he had received bacon-flavored coffee syrup for Christmas! The mind boggles!

When we got in, Willow trotted downstairs to meet us, and James took her out. I came upstairs to find she had cleaned up both the scrambled eggs and the chicken broth. James made her another egg with more chicken in it, but what she wanted most was what he cooked for himself!

Missed the new Call the Midwife special, so have programmed a later showing on the DVR and are now watching Alaska: the Last Frontier.

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» Saturday, December 28, 2013
Putting the Pieces in Place

James headed off for work this morning, and I tried to sleep in, but ended up getting up at eight anyway. Took Willow outside, and then fed her a few more pieces of the chicken I cooked yesterday. It's almost gone.

This morning I was determined to do some organizing. I grabbed a gallon Ziploc bag and corralled all the manuals and the parts to the Brother scanner and put them with the scanner. Then I tackled the craft room, which has been neglected since third quarter at work. My worktable had junk all over it, and there were bags from Michaels and the A.C. Moore expedition in Knoxville on the floor in front of the phonograph. I put the small cross-stitch frames with the ones I bought last year in Virginia, put up the baker's twine I used on the gifts that I had to mail instead of bows that would get crushed, corralled all the winter branches into a winter basket, put away the cross-stitch fabric I'd bought, cleared off the chair of cross-stitch kits and my "paint pots," and framed the Prayer of St. Francis that I bought from "the Papyrus Lady" at last year's Apple Annie craft show and put it up next to the bathroom door, moving the Susan Branch print to another location.

In the process I found a few more small items that had been supposed to go in Juanita's gift, so I peeled one end of it open and tucked the items inside. I also turned up a gift that was meant for Jerry and Sue, so I wrapped that and put it under the tree.

By the time I got done I had some goat cheese and crackers for lunch, which Willow coveted. I wouldn't give her the crackers because they were highly spiced, and she turned her nose up at the goat cheese.

I toyed with the idea of going out, but instead took the Christmas mailbox cover out of the craft room where it's been sitting since we got back from Virginia last year, and put it on the mailbox. Yeah, I know it's after Christmas, but it's not January 6 yet! Before I put it on the mailbox I printed on the back in large black magic marker "If this mailbox cover is not on the mailbox at [our address], it has been stolen!" (my previous two mailbox covers were swiped, one on Christmas Eve, and the replacement three days before I would have taken it down), and then tied it down with plastic straps. Let some kid take this one and then try to present it to mom as a "gift"!

Also washed the kitchen floor, took Willow out several times, and cooked her another chicken thigh. It takes longer to cut the fat off them than it does to boil them!

We had a game night/gift exchange scheduled at the Lawsons tonight, so I put all the gifts into a couple of carry bags, got dressed, and then finally got to take some ibuprofin and sit down with my eyes closed for about 20 minutes. James wouldn't get out of work until six, so Alice and Ken were nice enough to pick me up and give me a ride. We picked up Ken's mom, too, and I showed them the back way to the Lawsons.

Great night! We were so busy talking we never did play any games, although the girls (Aubrey, Jessie, and Kayla) played cards for a while. Jerry showed off their beautiful new enclosed porch, which replaced a crumbling deck. Very, very nice. Pizza was ordered, and there was also fruit, cheeses, crackers, cookies, and nuts. Gifts were exchanged and neat gifts were received, but the best gift was seeing everyone (especially Sue's mother, who is leaving tomorrow, and who is getting more frail each year we see her).

James and I drove home in the same mucky driving rain he had arrived in (it was only sprinkling when the Spiveys and I got to the house). Some nice lights still on in the Lawsons' neighborhood.

When we got home, Willow had polished off the scrambled egg I made her earlier. Hurrah! Gave her more chicken pieces (had been feeding her a few every couple of hours). Got on chat for a little while, but was so tired that my eyelids started to droop after a half hour.

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» Thursday, December 26, 2013
Feeding Miss Willow
When I got up this morning, I got a wag out of Willow, but I was still concerned about getting her to eat. I remembered that I had a leftover chicken thigh in the refrigerator, but I also knew that it had been seasoned. I dismembered it and shredded out the interior that didn't have salt and paprika on it, and then gave a few pieces to her. You should have seen her wolf them down! I only let her eat a few because I wanted to see how she reacted, but she kept them down well. Again, I offered her the plain mini-biscuits with no dye in them, and some of the unsalted chicken broth. She ate and drank, and I noticed she didn't look so sad today. About noon I gave her a little more chicken, and then about four the rest of it, and she was fine with it.

I wanted to vacuum, but instead of bothering Willow, ran the Carpet Flick over the rung instead, put some things up, loaded the dishwasher and started it, swept the kitchen, and washed three loads of clothes, plus I programmed the new phone with numbers. We needed BreatheRight strips, and just in time a coupon from CVS turned up in e-mail, so about 2:30 I went to CVS, then hopped over to Bed, Bath & Beyond to spend an expiring coupon, and stopped in at Petco to look for a millet holder for Snowy. It was a nice bright blue day—almost too blue and bright for driving!—and just chilly enough to be nice. By the time I got home James was home (he would have been home earlier, but he had to go to Kaiser for a new prescription). We had some chicken breasts thawed; one he cooked up for Willow with carrots and celery in no-sodium broth, and the rest we crockpotted with cream of onion soup and vegetables for another meal.

Well, Willow completely flummoxed us. While the chicken was cooking she was so completely attentive! When it was just cooked we gave her bits of it and she wolfed them down. But James wanted it to be more nutritious for her, and took the carrots and celery in it, pureed them, and then put them back in the broth and cooked them with brown rice. We dished up a nice little bowl for her: and she wouldn't eat it. This is a dog who would wolf down raw carrots her whole life, who'd wait for them to be tossed to her!, and all of a sudden she won't eat them, raw or cooked. I don't understand! I understand when she was in pain, but why have her tastes changed all of a sudden?

Anyway, later I managed to feed her a couple of pieces of it, and I even picked the carrots out of it, but she just doesn't want it!

There wasn't a thing interesting on television tonight, so I put on the "Merry Sitcom" DVD with Christmas episodes from That Girl, McHale's Navy, Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, Bewitched (the episode with Bill Mumy), and an obscure series with Robert Young called Window on Main Street, about a widower writer who returns to his home town. You'd never see a series like this today; too low key!

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» Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Blue Christmas
It was a pretty gloomy Christmas morning here. We got up and had a regular breakfast, and we weren't much in a rush to open gifts. Willow wandered around like a ghost. We did get her to eat a few dog biscuits, and drink some chicken broth, and I fed her a few bits of chicken from the chicken and rice. We listened to Christmas music and also watched The House Without a Christmas Tree.

At three we gathered all the gifts and went to the Butlers for Christmas dinner and general merriment. We talked for house and had a wonderful dinner, with main dishes of pot roast, turkey, and ham, potatoes, brussels sprouts, carrots, corn, rolls and butter, and sundry other goodies, not to mention two pies for dessert. Later we exchanged gifts. It was such fun, and so pleasant to laugh.

We had a nice look at lights when we got home, but Willow still looked woebegone and we felt like she looked. Then we sat by the light of the Christmas tree until it was time for bed.

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» Tuesday, December 24, 2013
A Christmas Eve on the Seesaw
If my emotions go up and down anymore today, I'm going to bang my head on the ceiling and my backside on the floor.

We had an odd scare last night. While I was taking my shower, I heard a thumping, but thought it was James in the closet. When I was taking my pills I heard it again, and James said it sounded like someone was banging on the side of the house. So he went outside to check, and I snapped on the back yard lights and went out on the porch with the big flashlight to see if someone was skulking around the yard. Neither of us found anything, but it was disconcerting and it took me a long time to get to sleep, with the result that I woke up groggy.

James wanted me to go to World Market to pick up some of the vodka sauce to serve on the shrimp tonight, so I ate breakfast, called up the vet (they were taking another test, and if it came out okay, we could go over before three to pick up Willow!), and went out. As usual, the Christmas Eve maniacs were out in force. I did get the vodka spaghetti sauce and bought James some "CrawTaters" (spicy potato chips) as a treat. Crossed the parking lot to Michael's, bought a holly garland at half price, and used my coupon on some evenweave linen. On a whim I went home via the Vinings Kroger to get a special dessert in case Willow came home and we had to stay with her, another baguette, a couple of greeting cards, and...ta da! they had Davidson eggs! This girl is going to have a real eggnog like her mom made her for breakfast every morning kindergarten through twelfth grade (it was the only way I would voluntarily eat an egg).

(Does it strike you as regressive that in 1963 we could go get our eggs fresh from the farm and eat them raw and never worry, and fifty years later, when the world is supposed to be improved, that we can't eat a fresh egg without worrying about salmonella?)

Had arrived home and was putting things up when the garage door sounded. Yes, things were slow at work again, and James was home. He'd already had lunch, but I ate the rest of the tortellini. About 2:15 the vet called: we could come get Willow if we got there before they closed at three. We were out the door so fast I think Snowy saw a blur.

Naturally, they gave us special food for her and said she had to eat only that. I was game, but didn't realize the problems it would cause. We wrapped her up in a big soft bath towel and brought her home, and she sniffed to make certain everything was where she left it. But all night our efforts to get her to eat the Hill's gastrointestinal food was a flop. I warmed it up. I added water. I tasted it myself in front of her. I put it in an oatmeal bowl. I put it on a plate. She curled her nose and looked sad, and I said, "James, we're losing her," and cried a lot.

About ten, I gave her one of the mini Milk Bones, the plain "white" ones. She ate it, which proves she is hungry. I tried dipping one end of another in the special dog food. She attempted only to eat the other end, and then turned the biscuit over until the dog food fell off it. I looked to heaven and asked, "God, what do I do?"

And then I went to the refrigerator and got the plain chicken and rice James had cooked for her, warmed up a couple of mouthfuls, put the bowl on the floor. She sniffed at it and licked. I squatted down and she licked some off the spoon, took some from my fingers, and almost cleaned out the bowl, and then came looking for more. About an hour later I did give her some more, of which she only ate half, but it was better than nothing. I hope it wasn't a bad decision. I just couldn't bear her looking so hungrily at us anymore, and it was what they recommended originally.

This evening we watched The Homecoming, which is customary for Christmas Eve, and also The Waltons episode "The Best Christmas." Now we are watching midnight Mass from St. Peter's Basilica.

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» Monday, December 23, 2013
It's a Wrap! and a Walk to Boot
a.k.a. "Let There Be Light!"

So happy that it's gotten colder! Tossed and turned last night because I was so warm that it made my joints ache. It was still cloudy when I got up and had breakfast. Then I installed Snowy's new water dish, which, of course, threw him in a tizzy for a few minutes. It seems to work okay, and I saw him biting it later on, so he now knows there's water in it.

Since it is two days before Christmas, and the spare room looks like a wrapping paper factory exploded in it, it's about time I finished wrapping gifts, so I commenced. My goal was to at least get wrapped the gifts we will need on the 25th, and James' gifts, but first I had to wrap the things that had not been able to fit in the closet because they were in the way of getting the closet open. So I had wrapped over a half dozen gifts before I could get to the essential ones.

About noon I called the vet's office, to be told Willow was doing "great," but she still wasn't eating a lot. I asked if that could be because she was homesick. I mean, if she's off IV, why can't we try taking care of her? Sigh.

I took a couple of hours off and did a before-Christmas walk on the square in Marietta. I didn't do it last year and was sorry I didn't, and thankfully it was brisk and blustery and Christmasy.

Started out at Dupre's Antiques, which used to be a big hardware store. At Christmas they pepper the whole store with mostly vintage decorations and push to the front any seasonal things like vintage magazines and old toys. I ducked in and out of tinseled booths, and was very tempted by a box of vintage Woolworth's glass balls (I like the Brit term better, "baubles"). Then I crossed the street and walked past the festively decorated Australian Bakery and joke shop to stop at the Corner Shop (the British place). Looked at all the goodies, but only bought a few small things for [mumble] and a Fry's orange-filled bar all for me.

Then I diagonally crossed Glover Park in the middle of the square. The paths are lined with luminaria and several families were waiting for Santa Claus to get back from feeding his reindeer. Since it wasn't that cold, the fountain was flowing freely, and it looked pretty with the Christmas tree in the background. Some singers had been performing on the permanent stage when I started my walk, but they had stopped by now.

I crossed the street and walked down Church Street to a new boutique that is where half of the old Willow Too antique store was. Alas, it's an upscale antique boutique, and nothing particularly nice like Willow Too used to have: I always went in there and found some great primitive things, and once I found a shepherd figure that matched the rest of the manger set.

Visited a couple of other antique stores, the Christmas shop, and the Keeping Room (they have household things, and soup/dip mixes), then strolled by La Famiglia restaurant and Hemingway's bar before heading back to the car. On the way home, I stopped at Family Dollar, as occasionally I have found cool ornaments there, but it was mostly junk.

James was home when I got there; he'd come home soon after I left for downtown! While I finished wrapping gifts, he rewired the pretty autumn leaf motif ginger-jar lamp we bought years ago at Lowes (the three-way switch had died). Snowy finally has more light! And then he finished wrapping gifts, and the tree looks even more festive and after I wrestled with things in the closet, the spare room looks cleaner although everything is not out of the way yet.

We had a container of chicken leftovers for supper over rice, and watched Christmas things for the rest of the night: John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, A Muppet Family Christmas (which is distinctive for having all the Muppets in it: the Muppet Show gang, the Sesame Street crowd, and even the Fraggles from Fraggle Rock), and finally Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory, the real version with Geraldine Page.

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» Sunday, December 22, 2013
Coming Up for the Third Time

It rained today. Pints of rain. Quarts of rain. Gallons of rain. Close to hogsheads of rain, or so it seemed. I could hear the whiny voices of the past saying "But at least it isn't snow!" If it had snowed, it would have been drier!

We celebrated by sleeping in and going out just before noon, braving the throes of Costco since there were necessities required. We scouted out new things for the party, checked out the books and DVDs, and bought an $8 copy of A Christmas Story on Blu-Ray (which we later couldn't find when we got home; turned out it got tucked into the console pocket where I keep my sunglasses). The lines, amazingly, were not that bad, and we came home by Kroger to pick up veggies, turkey thighs, yogurt, and sundry other groceries.

James remembered earlier that he needed to go to Hobbytown to pick up some small gifts for a few co-workers, so when we had the groceries up it was time to slosh up to Barrett Parkway. I tried to take a nap while he was in Hobbytown, then we proceeded to [mumble] to pick up one last gift and also went in Petsmart to find a proper water dish for Snowy (the one I'm using makes a racket when you put it between the bars and it leaks) and to get him some smaller perches, which the vet said would be better for his feet. We also cut through the back and went to Petco as well, and found two more perches and bought him some cuttlebone, and, to finish up, went to Publix for twofers.

It was about four when we got home, and I still had one more errand to finish. I've been collecting a toy here and there all year to put in the Toys for Tots barrel, and things have been so chaotic I'd forgotten about them. Being in the Town Center Publix reminded me that I still had them, and the drive ends today. So I gathered up the toys and brought them to the Publix near our house.

And then we were done. Had steak for supper and I had French bread to zoop in the juice to boot. Later, we watched The Sound of Music. (Not on the network; it would have taken forever with the commercials.)

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» Saturday, December 21, 2013
Intensive Care

"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care..."

And it sure feels good, too.

James got up once and went right back to sleep, but once I did, I pretty much just lay in bed thinking. There was something that we planned to do today that I was dreading.

Since we slept in, breakfast was late and we didn't go out until after noon. We had to complete a gift and had talked about going somewhere quite a distance from home to buy the parts to complete it. But with Willow in a pricy "durance vile," we didn't have the money for gasoline, so we went somewhere closer to home to buy it. We also stopped to pick up a model James had ordered, and went to Harry's Farmer's Market. We haven't been here in several years, and it really has gone downhill since Whole Foods took it over. There's nowhere as much fresh produce as it had as an independent vendor, the "wall o' chocolate" is gone, they have fewer cheeses (couldn't find any Romano cheese at all, a heresy!), and the hot bar and salad bar are both very poor now. Was hoping to find something for supper and was very disappointed.

When we finished there, we drove out to Dunwoody to visit Willow. This is what I was dreading. She looked so awful, swollen and doped up on Wednesday; she reminded me of my mom before she passed away, blank-eyed and sorrowful. I ducked into the bathroom as we entered, so James saw her first, but when I walked in, she was on her feet, no catheter in her leg, and James said she wagged her tail at him and came eagerly forward when she saw him. She greeted me, but less enthusiastically; not surprised, since I'd "abandoned" her on Wednesday.

She's still painfully thin because they have just started to try to get her to eat today. With pancreatitis, there is no medicine that will help. You have to let the pancreas "rest" by withdrawing food until it is less inflamed and can manage food.

We put her on the exam table and pretty much spent over an hour talking to her and cuddling her. We noticed she liked it when James scratched all the shedding fur on her back and asked for a brush and gently brushed out her coat. I washed the sleepers from the corners of her eyes. They brought in some food for her, a chicken mush with rice in it, but she turned away. However, when the tech came with some other food, beef mush with rice and heated up (which smelled a lot more appetizing), I managed to get her to eat some of it by taking up a fingertip-full and letting her lick it. She ate very little, perhaps a dozen little bits at all, maybe a tablespoon of the stuff, but it's more than she's eaten since last Friday. We also took her for a walk outside. James let her sit next to him on the bench and she just leaned on him.

Finally we had to let her go back, and the heartbreaking thing was that if she had eaten the little bowl of food they would have let her go home. But she definitely looks better, and is more aware of her surroundings and taking an interest in things. I hope, I hope this is a good sign.

We wanted to make another hospital visit on the way home, so called to see if it were okay, then went over to Northside Hospital to visit Juanita. Since it would have been rude to stand in her hospital room with growling stomachs—it was already 3:30 and we hadn't had lunch—we visited the hospital "cafeteria" which is a McDonald's. Boy, that says something about the healthcare in this country when a McDonald's is allowed to serve food in a hospital! A cafe is open during the week, but how about on Saturday and Sunday when people visit? Condemning hungry people to McDonald's is cruel. They could have at least picked someplace with semi-healthy food, like Panera. (Yeah, the chicken soup probably has too much salt, but at least it's chicken soup, not ... hamburgers.)

Anyway, you have to wear a gown to visit her and no hugs are allowed. She has a critical C-Diff infection which has only been exacerbated by her nursing her mother through her last days. They have tried different antibiotics on her with no success, and she has one more chance on a different antibiotic. If it doesn't work she will have to have her colon removed. But at the moment it seems to be working, so we are crossing our fingers and praying for the best.

She is exhausted from the treatment and the pain, but determined to beat the infection if she can. We talked for over an hour and then I saw her eyelids drooping, so we left. Came home to little lonesome Snowy, ate some Asian chicken and Ramen noodles for supper, and watched Auntie Mame on Turner Classic Movies.

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» Friday, December 20, 2013
No Jingle Bells or Collar Tags
I managed to make it to work on Wednesday without arriving to the lights being out again. In fact, it was a very productive day, with a tiny bit of filing, a lot of e-mails, and even some documents to be signed (sadly, none of them were purchase orders).

I did take a few minutes to call Juanita at the hospital. She sounded so exhausted. I hope the new course of antibiotics works for her.

After work, I went to visit Willow. It took them so long to bring her out it scared me, and then she limped into the room (she has a bandage on her left leg). She looks so miserable and she whined under her breath almost the entire time she was there. I finally got her to lie down and just talked to her softly for fifteen or twenty minutes. Her face is all puffy from the fluids.

By the time I left the vet, even though the GPS took me a back way, it took me 75 minutes to get home, including the five minute I lost behind the guy who was yakking on his cell phone and didn't proceed through the nice green traffic light. Put the damn iPhone down and drive.

Thursday I teleworked, putting the finishing touches on a modification, advertising several orders, and basically trying to corral everything so that I could go on leave for Christmas and New Year's. Played some Christmas music, then listened to a history of Christmas carols on BBC Radio 4. Occasionally Snowy will explode in a volley of chirps.

But I miss the jingle of collar tags, giving Willow my oatmeal bowl to lick out, and taking a break when taking her outside.

The vet called back today, saying she had slipped out of her catheter and was depressed, but was drinking water. She's hoping to do another test tomorrow and check her numbers.

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» Tuesday, December 17, 2013
We had to take Willow back to the vet yesterday. They called with the results of her blood test and her white count was 35,000, when it's 5,000-15,000 to be in the normal range. James came home early and I wrapped her in a towel and sat next to her in the truck. She shivered the entire way there. We had a while to wait before the vet finished with her previous appointment, so we talked with her and petted her until Dr. Karolyn came in. They are going to give her IV fluids and antibiotics and keep her until she is doing better. They weighed her and she had lost over a pound of her weight since Saturday, and her skin is all drying and flaking because, while she's still drinking, she's dehydrated. She looked so sad as they took her away.

We ate supper at Panera, surrounded by teenagers doing homework. I never heard of going out to eat while doing homework! How bizarre. Once home, with only poor little Snowy to chirp occasionally, it was depressing. Still depressing today. I did my work like a clockwork unit, part of my mind far away. For lunch I had the wonton soup James ordered with the chicken wings on Friday. I dropped a scallion and was about to call Willow to dispatch it.

No one to give a lick of a plate to tonight, either.

We did get a vet report this afternoon. She was still getting the fluids and antibiotics and they put her on pain medication, too. They've ruled out pancreatitis, but still don't know where the infection came from. I guess she won't come home tomorrow, either, because they said we can "visit" her then, for a little while. They say she is barking, even in the ICU. Probably saying "Help! Help! Daddy, come rescue me!"

Later this evening we got the depressing news that our friend Juanita was back in the hospital. She had been so sick at one point, at her dying mother's bedside, that she had to be rushed to the emergency room and was not there when her mom passed on. She was well enough this weekend to attend her mom's memorial service, but now is back in the hospital, her infection having worsened again and her fever back up.

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» Saturday, December 14, 2013
A Day to Forget

It hasn't been one of those sterling days.

Willow's appetite has been iffy since yesterday. She didn't want dry dog food yesterday morning, so I gave her half a container of wet. She polished that off while I proceeded to decorate the tree, but as the day progressed she got more and more restless. I was so happy when she finally went in her crate to sleep for a little while. At supper we tried all sorts of things to get her to eat, but she refused everything, and wouldn't even take her pill via the Pill Pocket, which previously had been like doggie catnip.

This morning we put out more wet dog food, she ate some, then promptly threw up, and started wandering up and down, from her crate to her bed in front of the fireplace and back again, over and over.

We had to go to a memorial service for Juanita's mother this afternoon. We stayed for the service, and long after that only long enough to say hello to everyone and give Juanita a card and a little gift, since we'd called the vet and asked to bring Willow in. After the service we ran home, changed out of her good togs, got Willow, and drive out to Dunwoody. We dropped her off and went to Barnes & Noble, a tricky proposition since we had to skirt Perimeter Mall on a Saturday before Christmas.

While we were still wandering around the bookstore, the vet called and said at the minimum she probably had a urinary tract infection, as there was blood in her urine. They'd taken blood as well and were going to send it to the lab, and we could take her home if we liked as long as we stayed with her. So we picked up groceries at Kroger on the way back and then went to the vet's office.

The vet described her as "puny." Well, yes, she's been puny for a while. I noticed when I gave her her bath before vacation that I could feel her spine like dinosaur bones under her back. That's why I made sure to bring wet dog food to mix with the dry on vacation, because she never eats well on vacation, and she licked her bowl clean every night, and she was fine when we got home. After the last blood test she had for the Cushing's, though, she didn't seem as perky, and that eight straight days of rain made her stiff as well. We made sure to give her extra time to get up and down the stairs to go outside, and made sure she was dried off when she came in and it was raining. I mean, they've taken at least two blood tests since she became "puny." Didn't they notice?

Anyway, the vet also said that she notices signs of senility in her, but we already have seen that.  Sometimes she doesn't seem to know where she is all the time. The vet says she is also hyper reflexive and flinches at movement. I'm not sure what that means, if anything. And she suspects Willow might be in pain from arthritis, too.

So they sent us home with a broad-spectrum antibiotic which we pretty much had to put down her throat along with her Cushing's pill. She wanders back and forth from her crate to her bed and back again, and can't get comfortable. It's almost like it's not comfortable for her to put her head down. I've tried putting extra padding on the bed, letting her get up in the chair where she's been so happy—nothing. The poor dog is so unhappy.

And so are we.

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» Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, December 11, 2013

Outside my window...
...right now it is sunny, not a cloud in the sky; after nine days of clouds/rain, it cleared up yesterday afternoon and got very chilly. It was 29°F this morning.

I am thinking... golly, I'm getting old. I will officially be 58 tonight at 11:30 p.m. since I missed being born on my dad's birthday by a half hour.

I am thankful...
...for today! When I arrived at work, the power was out, and had been out since 7 a.m. I heard two different stories: that a transformer was out and that a car had hit a light pole. The entire University Park complex was without power, as well as the neighborhoods nearby. So I basically came in, wound my way to my new office, ate my yogurt (new kind, mocha from Dannon, which doesn't taste much like coffee or chocolate) since I couldn't heat up water for my oatmeal, and then sat in the hallway near the window reading Christmas in Germany until they cut us loose. So I am home teleworking on my birthday.

In the kitchen...
...there's birthday cake! Brought it home from my mother-in-law's house Saturday; it was half for me and half for my sister-in-law Candy, whose birthday is the day before mine.

I am wearing...
...purple sweatshirt, gas flame blue sweatpants, white socks, and blue scuffs. Not cold enough to wear slippers, and even when it is, I can't wear them working at the computer. Static electricity is a Bad Thing.

I am creating...
...purchase orders and a nice day, since I can spend it with Willow and Snowy. Snowy is our new budgie. We actually bought him, but he's more like a rescue. The other birds must have been bullying him: he's missing all his tail feathers and he looks like they sat on him. We discovered why when we got home: he has a lame foot. Only one toe out of four on his right foot works properly. I have to find out if we can buy any kind of perch which will make him more comfortable, but still strengthen what grip he has in those toes. But he's bright-eyed and eats well. I've even heard him grinding his beak, which means he's content. If I can make him happy, then I have created rightly. :-)

I am going... make supper tonight. We have six chicken drumsticks and I will make cacciatore and ask James to stop at Publix for a loaf of French bread to zoop in the gravy. A birthday dinner most wonderful!

I am wondering... many more Christmas gifts I have yet to buy. It's only a few, but I think I can only tell if I wrap the others. At least two of the Christmas gifts I mailed have reached their destinations, so I'm very happy!

I am reading...
...The Big Book of Christmas Plays, from 1988. Remember doing Christmas plays at school? This is a collection of them. I found it at the book sale this fall. I remember having to pick out the 6th grade Christmas play. It turned out to have a nice role for my best friend. :-)

I am hoping... get the Christmas tree up Friday. I am dreading it because I have to string new lights on the tree. I love decorating the tree, but putting lights on a Christmas tree falls about number ten of things I hate.

I am looking forward to...
...Christmas gatherings! One with friends, one with the family, New Year's Eve, and finally our party!

Around the house...
...a bit neater than last week, but catalogs, Christmas magazines, books everywhere.

I am pondering...
...strangeness: people who call 911 over not getting their hash browns at McDonalds, parents who starve babies, kids who kill other kids. Why?

A favorite quote for today...
" not an external event at all, but a piece of one's home that one carries in one's heart."  ...Freya Stark

One of my favorite things...
...Christmas specials! Will watch some tonight!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Purchase orders, purchase orders, purchase orders and then decorating, decorating, decorating.
And trying to persuade Snowy I'm not going to eat him.

A peek into my day...
...big-eyed budgie:

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



» Saturday, December 07, 2013
Over the River and Through the Expressway

Alas for sleeping late on Saturday, as we were bound and determined to attend the Farmer's Market, which is now all year 'round. We bought chicken salad and goat cheese, but skipped a pot pie since we had bought a turkey one at Trader Joe's yesterday. The weather had changed during the night and this morning it was misty, chilly, and damp. The parking lot was full because the Marietta Tour of Homes was taking place this weekend, but we actually found a parking space on the Square. Too bad we didn't have time to walk around and see the decorations.

Once we had brought the food home and put it away, it was time to be off: we loaded my car with belated birthday and Mother's day packages and a birthday gift for Candy, and with a Christmas package, and drove down to Warner Robins, since James' sister Sherii and her husband Bobby were in from South Carolina for the weekend. We listened to a Travel with Rick Steves Christmas episode and The Splendid Table on the way down. My Lord, was I sleepy; James had to keep me awake all during the I-475 cutoff and to Warner Robins.

Had a nice afternoon sitting and catching up, especially on such a grey, rainy day. The only fault we had was going out to eat together at Cheddar's. The food was okay, but the waitress was not good at all. She forgot to put in two orders (ironically the two orders of the two people who hadn't eaten yet, although they did have an appetizer), forgot Sherii's baked potato and James' onions-and-mushrooms, and all three salads. She also spilled part of James' drink on his sister Sabra's head and then patted it, saying "You're not wet," and never cleaned the used glasses off the table, so that we finally had eight accumulated on a very small table for eight people! Sabra finally complained when she and Lee didn't get their food, and the waitress even mouthed off to the shift manager. The manager actually comped the whole table.

When we got back to the house there was birthday cake for myself and for Candy; our birthdays are one day apart.

Now, we found out that the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company was only presenting "An Atlanta Christmas" one weekend this year; usually it is two weekends. We couldn't go on Sunday because we were going to the bird show, and what if we brought home a bird? Besides, the Academy Theatre's new venue is in Stockbridge, south of town. So what better thing to do but leave about six and see the show tonight?

On the way back we listened to another Splendid Table and a story about decorating Williamsburg at Christmas, and, even though the GPS slightly overshot us, we found the Stockbridge Arts Center quite easily, and it's a very nice venue—the theatre was almost too warm! The first act was more familiar tales, and the second half had two new pieces, a Bumpers Crossroads comedy about "Ernie, the Christmas Snail" (Grandpa telling tales to the children) and A Rory Rammer: Space Marshal, "A Visit from St. Rex." Clair and Daniel Kiernan, who do the two-character piece "Are You Lonely Tonight?" about two office workers at the annual party, made a funny change to the ending that had me roaring with laughter. And then next was the "Christmas truce" story, "O Tannenbaum," which always makes me cry. Ron Butler performed the lead role, Richard, and he said he just read the words Thomas Fuller wrote. No, no, no. Even the best words must be performed expertly, as anyone who remembers Russell Means' disappointing performance of Chief Joseph's moving "I shall fight no more forever" speech on the "And How" episode of Remember WENN. (Not to mention Kevin Bacon's howlingly lackluster reading of the last line of the live performance of Mister Roberts on NBC in 1984.)

By the time we arrived home, we were bushed, but there was cause for celebration. We knew we would be gone a long time today, so, while we left Willow's "pee pad" set up in the bathroom, we did not lock her up. When we arrived home she had used the pad at least twice, and had made no accidents on the rug. Now we will try it on Monday.

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» Friday, December 06, 2013
"Christmastime is Here, By Golly..."

Because he worked last Saturday, James had today off. We didn't get to sleep too late because the dog alarm went off, but that's life.

Once we'd eaten, it was time to get on the move. We were headed for the Apple Annie Craft show, but it isn't prudent to get to Apple Annie early, or you'll end up parking on Roswell Road. So we stopped at the post office and dispatched all the gifts (except for Nicki's, which I have to finish) and bought stamps for the Christmas cards (which aren't finished yet), and arrived at Apple Annie about 11:30.

We had lunch first; I don't usually eat there, but I had a hot dog and we sat to eat, and then I left James reading at the table while I wandered from room to room. As I expected, most of what I liked was too expensive, or I didn't have anywhere to put it, like a $90 real wood lazy susan or hand-molded comic animals. The Papyrus Lady didn't have anything new that I wanted. I wasn't interested in more tchotchkes. But I had a pleasant walk-around and then fetched James when I got to the bake sale, where we bought a chocolate peppermint loaf and some cookies for desserts.

Then we got to do my favorite part of the day: go outside to the courtyard. It was very, very warm and smothery, in the early 70s., and we didn't stay out there long; just paid our respects to St. Francis and St. Anne, and then went to sit in the sanctuary long enough to say a prayer. I like this church; I feel comfortable here. Too bad it's so far away.

We got more desserts after we stopped at Trader Joe's, as the complement of Christmas goodies were in: peppermint Jo-Jos (peppermint Oreos), chocolate-covered peppermint Jo-Jos, truffles... Let's say we have dessert for at least two weeks! Also picked up more soup, broth, and a pot pie, and some goodies for a couple of food gifts.

Finally we stopped at Betsy's Hallmark, where we had a coupon. We looked at many things for gifts, but a particular item caught both our eyes as we walked past it, and of course we picked that up. I also bought a word game that is played with dice.

On the way home we stopped at the bead store, as the owner is selling some plastic models. James bought two, including one he was planning on ordering anyway.

For supper we ordered in: I had chicken wings and he had Chinese, and then went downstairs to the "man cave" for a while. I put up the Christmas village and watched Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and The Little Drummer Boy. I should have roused myself earlier, or I wouldn't have been wrapping gifts at 11:30 at night!

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» Sunday, December 01, 2013
The Advent of Something New

Ah, well. Read somewhere that one should say "rabbit-rabbit" first thing in the morning on the first day of the month to bring good luck. Missed it today. It was very hard awakening, then it was time for the usual Sunday things, collecting the towels for the laundry, apportioning this week's pills, basically getting ready for another week.

Then it was time for grocery shopping. One thing we needed to do was get me a new Kroger Plus card; mine has been coming separated from itself for months and now won't scan at all. Well, the Smyrna Kroger had no cards at all. Seriously? Someone comes in your store and says "I want to be a Kroger Plus customer" and you tell 'em you can't do it? Not very good business sense.

So when we went out we went up Dallas Highway and hit their Kroger. I got a new card and it was "connected" to James' account so we could continue to build up points. We also stopped at Lowes, since my beloved ginger jar lamp with the autumn leaves scattered on it gave up the ghost several months ago. It's too dark in the living room without it, so we bought a lamp rewiring kit. We also strolled out to look at the Christmas lights, as we blew a string of lights on the tree last year and are now going to have to endure the ordeal of putting more lights on the tree. (I love most Christmas decorating, but putting lights on the tree ranks right up with toothaches.) We then had to decide what to do about outside, as about half of our strings of blue lights (including two new ones) died last year. We decided to invest a little money and bought two nets of solar powered lights, but they don't come in blue. Since we added multicolor net lights last year anyway, I thought we might go multicolor on the outside lights, too. Unfortunately we bought one set of whites. It will have to go back, and we need at least three more. But we left them in the foyer to charge and they do look quite nice when they are on. Maybe the expense will be worth it.

Before we can put net lights over the bushes, they need to have a crew cut, so after we got home from Lowes I dashed outside and used the hedge clipper to flatten them out and trim some stragglers. Came out of it covered in twigs and leaves, and itching like the dickens. Ugh.

James had a trick up his sleeve for supper. Some weeks ago he had cooked some delicious sausage he got at the Buford Highway Farmer's Market. Well, it was delicious, and full of so much salt we couldn't eat it. It tasted like the Atlantic! So he immediately froze it. Now we know if you have something that is too salty, you can put a potato into it and it will soak up the salt. So he hunted up a potato soup recipe and made it with no salt at all, and then cut the sausage into small bits and cooked it thoroughly in the soup. It came out quite well.

This afternoon I did start the Christmas decorating by pulling out the indoor door wreaths and the window candles. I had to order new five-candle candoliers from the Vermont Country Store earlier this year because they are the only place left that carries them. The two are in the front window with clear blue bulbs, and the two three-bulb candoliers are in the library windows with frosted blue bulbs. James' man cave has two timed flickering candles, and in the dining room windows we have single color-changing candles. Each of the indoor doors has a small wreath that is usually just a candle ring, but some are small wreaths, like the bottle-brush wreath on the library door. Have the Christmas stuffed animals unpacked to distribute around the house when the time comes, and the Christmas pillows and blanket in the rocker downstairs.

Been watching "kringly" things this evening: All Creatures Great and Small, "Merry Gentlemen"; To the Manor Born Christmas; and The Good Life, "Silly, But It's Fun."

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