Yet Another Journal

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

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

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» Thursday, January 30, 2014
SnowJam 2014

It started out so innocently. Monday everyone went to work. There was snow in the forecast, but it was coming from the south and was predicted to stay there. Of course I wished for snow! Just a dusting, like we always have, gone on Wednesday...or maybe a late opening so I could sleep late. Well, that's not going to happen, of course. It never does.

The weather report on Monday night was substantially different. We were going to get the snow after all, perhaps about an inch, and it would start the next day about noon. I was glad I was teleworking, as Atlanta traffic is notoriously horrible in snow. It would probably take me over two hours to get home.

By Tuesday morning, they were saying one to three inches, and the news was assuring us that, unlike in January 2011, when the city was shut down for a week, the sanders and the plows were ready, and the crews geared up to go.

It did indeed start snowing sometime after eleven on Tuesday, and it was fun to watch. It was also bitterly cold, which it usually isn't here when it snows, and the snow quickly started sticking to things, including the street. I ran out to fill the bird feeders, bundling up in a hat and an insulated vest, something I usually don't don because the feeders take less than five minutes. Work was canceled at noon, and I'd already finished the laundry, so I could do other things around the house. I kept the computer on, though, in case an emergency came up, but it looked like everyone had indeed gone home.

About 2:30, James called saying he was coming home, as the snow was accumulating and he was getting reports of bad traffic. He said not to expect him at the usual time as traffic was slow. Over a half hour later he called back. A delivery truck was blocking the exit of his complex and he couldn't get out to the highway. He was going to go back inside until it cleared. He said he would leave at 4:30. I didn't get a call from him saying he was leaving until 5:10, and by then I was uneasy. According to the traffic report, it had been deteriorating all afternoon. The freeway map had gone from solid red to burgundy, even the routes he could use to get home. It was almost seven o'clock when I called him back. He was on the East-West Connector and had gone barely two miles in less than two hours. He'd been heading for Hicks Road, but he said he would try to get off at Cooper Lake Road instead.

The reports on television were getting worse by the minute. Apparently most businesses and all schools had been dismissed at one o'clock and everyone funneled on to the road at once. The inexperienced drivers crawling on the snow (which wasn't ice at that point) slowed down the other drives and now every main street was a mess of snarled traffic. Kids had left school on buses and had been stuck on them for six and seven hours now. People were running out of gas on the freeway. And of course all the snow on the roads had turned to ice, slick, nasty ice which was just getting more slick every time someone spun their wheels over it.

Just after eight, James called. He was stuck dead on Cooper Lake Road; the road was so slick he couldn't make the slope in either direction, and a tractor-trailer truck was blocking one end of the road anyway. He was, to my horror, preparing to spend the night in the car. Remember, I'm the one who takes naps in my car, summer and winter. In winter I've been out there parked in the sun, with a blanket over my legs, in my Rhode Island quality winter coat, and freezing to death. It was nineteen degrees outside and blacker than pitch! He had less than a quarter of a tank of gas, no blanket, only trail mix and granola bars for supper, and only some of his diabetes drugs. Well, yeah, I was hysterical; wouldn't you be? He said there was no way I could get to him; I'd only get stuck, too.

Facebook saved him. I posted this horrible news and several minutes later Alice Spivey's message popped up: her husband Ken's sister and her husband lived off Cooper Lake Road, near South Cobb Drive. If he were close to South Cobb, he could probably walk there. James called up Debbie and Jesse and they were about ten minutes from where he was stuck, and he was able to get to their house, but until this was all straightened out, I had about a bad hour of it. I ended up down in the library after checking to see if the faucets were dripping, clutching Mother's rosary beads and praying desperately for someone to help him. Thank you so much, God! (And Alice, and Deb and Jesse, and Facebook, which is a fat PITA sometimes, but worth it.)

So James stayed with Deb and Jesse and Mrs. Spivey; they made him dinner and even gave him their bedroom to sleep in. I ended up not eating because I was so upset it would have just given me indigestion had I done so. Instead I kept reading Facebook reports which were deteriorating by the minute: kids were camped out on school buses, or the buses had to go back to the school, and kids (and some parents) were camped out there. Cars stopped dead were all over all three interstates and state highways; some were up on curbs, backward, had crushed fenders. Some people had now been stuck in traffic for the past twelve hours. People near the freeway were making sandwiches and bringing food and bottled water to the stranded. A baby was born at the side of the interstate. News reporters were giving out water and getting help and food for stranded people with small children. The traffic map had gone from burgundy to black.

By one I was exhausted. I took Willow out one last time, covered up Snowy's cage, and slept on the futon. I didn't have to worry about work; the whole city was under a State of Emergency and everything was closed.

Things usually look better in the morning. Not this morning. The first thing I checked was the traffic map, which was still red. Holy shit. I spent the morning cleaning house. Talked to James, who said he was comfortable and was enjoying his unexpected stay, but hadn't been able to sleep well because he didn't have his C-PAP machine. He sounded exhausted. The hours started to tick on. I couldn't relax. Kroger called to tell me my meds were ready, which was stupid because they'd been ready since Sunday, but they never called.

The temps rose slowly, but by early afternoon still hadn't hit the thirties. I kept thinking about James' insulin and the C-PAP, and looking at the road. My Cousin Donna called to see how I was making out and I joked that if I was in Rhode Island I would have been expected to be at work even with the roads in this condition. Living here has turned me into a wimp. I drove home in the Blizzard of '78 in a Chevette, for God's sake, although, granted, I had a bucket of salted sand, a shovel, and a blanket in the back of my car, plus snow tires. I ought to at least be able to make it down two main roads in order to pick up James! The moment I checked the traffic map and saw there were yellow spots turning to green, I acted.

I dressed for bear because it was about 17 with the wind chill outside: t-shirt under my sweatshirt, two pairs of socks, my winter coat with my pashmina, thick winter hat, driving gloves. I shoved brownies in my pockets, grabbed two walking sticks out of the garage just-in-case, both spare batteries for the phone, and gave Twilight his head.

Still, I almost chickened out when I reached the downhill slope where Sandtown Road meets Windy Hill. It was coated with ice and when I tried to slow down further from my already creeping speed, the car started to fishtail. I remembered to tap, not jam, the brakes and the car slid against the curb and not into the car waiting to turn left, thankfully. Windy Hill had one lane cleared on either side, and I didn't accelerate or brake on slick spots, and I got through that, and then down South Cobb Drive with heart in mouth. When I reached South Cobb and Cooper Lake I called James, parking in the driveway of a Kindercare.

About twenty minutes later (it seemed so much longer) James, Deb, and Jesse came tramping up to meet me; the latter were on their way to Walgreens. James had taken a tumble the moment they got out on the street; he scraped his knees, banged his head, and wrenched one hand, but he was mobile. Came back the same way I'd come. We even were able to stop by the drive-though at Kroger and pick up my meds. The car performed flawlessly. Go, Twilight!

So spent the rest of the afternoon making sure James wasn't getting dizzy or unsteady after the bump to the head (more cognitive questions—this seems all too familiar). His knees looked like a playground accident. The worst was his hand, which was swelling up so much we figured we were headed to Kaiser in the morning. He called in to work saying he would be out today, but would definitely be in Friday, even if it meant having me take him to work or driving my car. We had the soup for supper and gave Willow a few of the noodles and carrots, which was a bad idea, as she, after having improved for a day and a half, was back to the raised tail and the rushing outside. Thrilling, especially since the dog hates snow, and wouldn't even stay outside to finish pooping. And then we retreated to showers and to bed, with the C-PAP breathing a soft lullaby in the background.

This morning Willow let us sleep, which was very welcome, and then we spent much of the day running after her and having to clean up accidents. When she finally made it to the pee pad, I praised her so much you might have thought she won the Nobel prize.

Thankfully, the swelling had gone down on James' hand and he could make a fist again, although the bruising remained. I finally got to vacuum. Snowy sang up a storm. I tried to find something Willow would eat, and this didn't work until evening. I tried giving her pumpkin again; several dog forums said you could put cinnamon on it without hurting the dog, so I tried that and she cleaned up the heaping teaspoon I gave her. We'll see. We paid and sorted out bills that got delayed because of the expense at the vet. Had homemade pizza for supper, and since we can't give Willow the leavings anymore, fed her some dog biscuits instead. Later we watched an amusing Big Bang Theory; loved Sheldon hanging out with James Earl Jones, and the ladies wondering just when you grow up.

The big thing we did today was go fetch the truck. The side roads we habitually take were good enough today to use, with only a few icy patches here and there. Instead of going down Cooper Lake directly, we went down King Springs Road and then turned left on Cooper Lake; James was trying to come home through King Springs, but the truck wouldn't make the grade and the big truck had been blocking the road. Even with the sun out having dried the main roads, both King Springs and Cooper Lake had big icy patches, but we skimmed them nicely and found the pickup parked just where James had left it, outside a subdivision opposite the dam at Lake Laurel. It all looked so innocent out here in the sun; I didn't want to imagine it in the dark and cold! It was surrounded by ice except directly at the back of the truck, so James walked there, and then held on to the side as he navigated the thick ice on the left of the truck. He had a brief skid as he turned it around, then we both headed home with no problem.

Still talking, talking, talking on the news about whose fault it was, people going crazy because they have started towing cars that were left at the side of the road, and analysis. And lots of people have made videos of "SnowJam 2014."

We have first aid kits in the car and flashlights, and I have a blanket and pillow, and James has spare towels, but I've decided I'm going to put an emergency box in each one, too: a clear shoebox with a change of underwear and socks, those hand-warmer packets that you activate, some packets of sunflower seeds and nuts, a toothbrush and a little travel toothpaste, etc. We used to have something like this in the car back when we drove up to Atlanta from Warner Robins for the Phoenix Science Fiction Society meetings on Saturday night, just in case we didn't feel like driving home at 2 a.m. Probably a cheap red bandanna, too, for the aerial or hood if in trouble. I'll have to think on a total inventory.

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» Sunday, January 26, 2014
Wishful Thinking and Realities

Hark, the dog does bark! James got up at seven, I got up at eight, and he got up again at nine and stayed up. I slept till ten and still felt in need of sleep. Cleaned up the bathroom and had a bagel with veggie spread on it for breakfast. Willow still waffled about what she wanted to eat and turned up her nose at the last of the chicken and rice, and didn't want plain rice, either.

All this meant we didn't get out to the RV show until after eleven. We walked around for about two hours, mostly looking at the little ones: pop-ups (a couple which have a "cassette" toilet, which means it's in a little enclosure; some have a combination with a shower where you can whip a shower curtain around you), the A-frames (which I like because you don't feel claustrophobic), and the small trailers less than three thousand pounds which is what the truck can pull. Those are the most claustrophobic, and some I don't even know how anyone sleeps in them. I don't mean chubby cubbies like us, I mean healthy weight, normal height human beings! I can't see some six foot guy and five eight woman being able to stretch out in one of the beds in these things.

The most claustrophobic were these tiny "teardrop" trailers. Basically it looks like a Pullman bunk, room for a double bed. At the rear is a kitchen unit. Only about four feet tall and maybe seven feet long. Claustrophobia incorporated.

So then we wandered through "Fantasyland," a.k.a. the big buses. Pretty slick. One had French doors into a separate den with a fireplace, and the bedroom and bath were up three steps. We only looked at one Class C (the kind that looks like it's built on a pickup truck), which were the ones I liked best last time.

It's all Fantasyland anyway, because we can't afford any of them.

On the way home we went past MicroCenter and got me an OEM copy of Windows 7. Ouch.

Then we stopped at both H.H.Gregg and Sears to look at convection microwaves. The Sharps they are selling are very small. There was a Kenmore the size of our dead one. But we wanted to shop around more, so we just got a cheap microwave so we can warm up things.

I checked out new units online. The Kenmore is the cheapest, and if we want another Sharp it's over $500. I keep thinking: at that rate, wouldn't it be cheaper to just save up and get a new stove with a convection oven? I loved the Sharp and it did keep the kitchen cooler during the summer, but it was awkward to cook in because of the way the kitchen is set up, and it was huge. James deserves a decent kitchen range, and he'd love to have one with a grill on the top. I just wanted to get a new dishwasher first, because the one we have sucks big ones. It only has one washing arm and sounds like a truck. We miss the Bosch we installed in the old house!

Anyway, had to clean up the bathroom again. We had lasagna from the Farmer's Market for supper, and between fielding Willow and swapping microwaves I got Win7 loaded—it was surprisingly painless, although we did not have a choice to format the disk like the MicroCenter tech said, so everything's still on the disk—and I got Citgo loaded, too, so I can work on my own computer Tuesday. (I even deleted spam e-mails.) James' desk is really uncomfortable for me.

Willow finally ate some ground turkey, veggies and rice at the end of the night. She also chased off a loose chihuahua on our front lawn. If only the other problem would clear up!

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» Saturday, January 25, 2014
Stop. Just Stop.

As expected, we had to clean up after Willow this morning. Most of it was confined to the pad, and the floor was easily mopped up. She tries so hard to be good, even if we exasperate her, and she exasperates us. James made me an eggnog for breakfast, and we had to take Willow out several times. I have been reading online that white rice will help, so I gave her some of that for breakfast, and she gobbled it up.

We arrived at the Farmer's Market in time to get the last container of chicken salad. Also bought some lasagna for Sunday supper. Then we went up to Town Center so I could use a Michael's coupon to pick up some ingredients for a gift, and then stopped at Barnes & Noble to see if the January "Best of British" was out. Still December, but the big bins of clearance items were now 75 percent off. Saw a bunch of beautiful, different coffee-table books about the Beatles I knew Emma would love! I rummaged through them and found a nice cookbook for James, a Manhattan-set YA that looked like fun, Simon Winchester's book about the San Francisco earthquake, and two books for gifts. Plus some pretty gift bags, and, with a coupon, a book of Doctor Who short stories.

Headed home to check on Willow; had to clean up a minor accident. She didn't seem to want to go into her crate and relax. Nevertheless, we ran to Kroger and got the grocery shopping done; confirmed why we avoid supermarkets on a Saturday—not the long lines, but just too many people wandering around the store (and stopping in the middle of the aisles to talk) to navigate properly. Got the usual staples, more brown rice for Willow, and also some ground turkey for her.

And then when we were in for the night she led us in and out the front door, her tail held up. While James took her out the last time, I fixed her several things: some canned pumpkin, which several animal care websites advised for bowel problems in dogs, the Hills' gastrointestinal dog food moistened with unsalted beef broth, and more white rice. The rice was all she tasted. The pumpkin she didn't even bother tasting. I also warmed up the rest of my chicken wings for supper.

Poor James. He hit the microwave to warm up his dinner, it ran for ten seconds, then stopped. He thought the breaker had snapped.

Nope. It's dead. Now, granted, this convection microwave is at least nine years old. We had it in the old house. We warm things up, and we grill lamb, chicken, steaks, pork chops, make baked potatoes and sweet corn. It's been used.

But...why now? Really?

Willow was still restless, which means one of us had to keep an eye on her all the time to watch for the telltale raising of the tail. The last couple of times she asked to go out she didn't do anything but walk restlessly around.

I finally solved what was wrong after rinsing out the grass of the pee pad. I checked her crate and the blanket and fleece were soiled. Willow is a clean dog, so it follows she would not want to go back in there. I put her bedding in the washer and James put fresh in and she immediately went into the crate and fell asleep. Poor girl has had a hard day. I hope we can give her something to help.

[We're cooking her more white rice. When she's asleep she's fine, but she can't go more than a half hour being awake without that tail going up, and then we have to urge her to the front door.]

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» Friday, January 24, 2014
What Fresh Hell is This...

When last we met...James was recovering from falling on the stairs, Willow had a bad day...

So of course next it was my turn. Now, I've discovered a new popcorn that doesn't seem to bother me, unlike other popcorns, Skinny Pop. It's light and delightful. And we found a nice sweet Italian sausage from Trader Joe's that didn't bother me either. However, both in combination...up until after 3 a.m. with pain unrelieved no matter which way I lay down. Note to self: do not eat popcorn and sausage in same evening. This list is getting long. Pain was at least followed by blessed sleep.

Wednesday was actually normal, until I got home. To recap: On Monday I had gone to C-net looking for a piece of software I needed, since C-net had provided me with reliable software in the past. Found the software with some five and four star ratings. But when I started installing it, it started installing other software I didn't want, like a "malware blocker" and a toolbar. I immediately halted the install, and then uninstalled the three programs this download had installed (ironically, the software I actually wanted never got a chance to install). I then did a virus scan. Everything seemed fine.

When I booted my computer up Wednesday night, nothing happened. In big white letters on black it said "NTLDR missing." Great. Tried to repair it with the system disk. "NTLDR missing." Great. When I uninstalled the bloatware it took my system boot with it. Good thing I had 99% of the data backed up. So reloaded Windows. Got into it enough to load the wireless utility (since my network card died ages ago), was able to copy a few other things to the backup disk, like my e-mail boxes, and then Windows Explorer and Dr. Watson started throwing errors. (It's still throwing errors. I got the last few files by booting into Safe Mode.)

Well, I knew I was going to have to update to Windows7 in April because Microsoft will quit supporting WindowsXP, but I didn't want to have to update this weekend. I don't have time.

Thursday I was concerned about Willow's appetite. She wants our food, which she can't eat, and is turning up her nose at what she can eat, like the chicken breast/veggies/brown rice and the dry food which she snarfed up only a few days ago. She's starting to get that basenji look on her face again like she did when we got her home from the vet, big worried eyes. Hoping to jump-start her a little bit, I gave her a tiny can of the wet Beneful. After all, it's what we've been making for her on the stove: a meat, a vegetable, and rice.

Evidently it's too rich for her, as she had the runs all evening.

Which brings us to this morning. She slept out in the living room all night, no accidents, used the pee pad to urinate. James took her outside. She peed. I was just coming out of the bathroom when she appeared at the door, then disappeared; by the time I left the bathroom, she had left nice little wet, stinky deposits in the hall, the living room, the dining room... So I took her out again. I let her take her time. She sniffed around, peed again. I hadn't even gotten upstairs to get my lunch and leave for work when she did it again. By the time I had everything cleaned up with biological product cleaner, it was after seven.

I have a very patient supervisor; she said I could telework. So I juggled responding to phone calls, forwarding e-mails, correcting and posting a proposal, answering questions about option modifications, and sundry other little things while having to get up and chase the dog outside once an hour. By noon I'd finally gotten her to use the lawn instead of the rug, and I knew I'd never get any work done if she stayed out, so I locked her in the bathroom with food and water, and checked on her every half hour. She used the pad twice and I lavishly praised her and gave her dog biscuits. To even up her stomach, I gave her rice in broth for the rest of the afternoon.

By the time James got home I was wiped out—and starving, since to make up for the time I wasted cleaning up after the dog, I hadn't taken lunch. James made Willow some brown rice in broth (it has more fiber) for supper, and we went out to SteviB's for supper and then stopped at Publix on the way home.

The brown rice, I must reluctantly report, did not help much, as we had another emergency after we got home, well after we thought she was doing better. We'll have to get a new entry rug at Walmart. I'm not putting that mess in my washer!

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» Monday, January 20, 2014
The Intruder from 2013

Face it, 2013 wasn't one of our sterling years. Oh, it had its positive points: we discovered the joys of Anachrocon, Timegate was nice, so was DragonCon, did see some nice things on vacation, and, best of all, summer was relatively cool. Except for the weekend of DragonCon. Of course.

But then there was the reorganization at work, having to pack up and move from one building to the other (twice!), getting the flu (on Valentines Day, nonetheless), a deluge during Atomicon, Schuyler's death, being sick on vacation and Thanksgiving, missing the only Thanskgivukkah for the next 7,000 years, and Willow being so sick, and, the most frightening thing, almost losing Juanita.

Needless to say, we were happy when Willow perked up, just about the time 2013 got its sorry ass out of the door. However, it seems to have paid a return visit this weekend.

Started out well enough: Friday was my compressed day off, and I used the afternoon to do errands: Stopped at Home Depot to get a new bottom pivot for the bifold door (left bifold door in spare room came off, we bought top pivot to fix it, turned out bottom pivot was broken as well), then drove into Buckhead to check on some clearance items, came back by Bed, Bath & Beyond to use two coupons, and stopped at Barnes & Noble to use another. At home I took as many of the Christmas items downstairs as possible, but there was still one box too large, one too heavy, and the tree. Then we had a yummy turkey dinner at the West Cobb Diner.

Saturday morning we slept in, then James replaced the bottom pivot and got the bifold door back in place before heading off to his club meeting. I worked on a project for my Lassie web site most of the afternoon. When James got home, we brought the last two Christmas boxes downstairs and put them all up in the closet, and then James tackled the very last chore, bringing the tree downstairs. Even after eight years of managing it, it's not his favorite task. It's six feet tall and awkward, and from the top of the stairs down to the landing, I held on to the top in hopes of helping him balance.

When he got to the landing he had to pivot 90 degrees and was trying to shift the tree so it didn't brush the wall. I saw the tree turn, then start to split in problem...

...and James went with it.

In the old days in the movies a crisis situation always went in slow motion; today they do it as a series of freeze frames, each several frames ahead of the next. That's what I saw as he fell over backward, a series of freeze frames: him losing his balance, and tipping, and tipping, and finally the landing, and his head hitting the wall of the foyer, knocking the bench down two stairs and the tree skittering down the stairway to the ground floor. And then I screamed.

He let out a couple of unintelligible moans, then as I slid to my knees next to him he tried to get up saying he was okay and me telling him to lie flat until we found out if he had a back injury. I had him move his feet and his toes and his arms and his fingers, and when he had his breath back cognitive questions. And then because of his bad leg it took him a while to get up, and his back was in pretty bad shape, but he finally made his way upstairs to a massive dose of Aleve. Once a half hour I would ask him cognitive questions, and in the meantime I went downstairs to clean up the mess.

Whereupon I pulled all the lights off the tree, which made it fall apart, and I stomped on at least one part and tossed it all in the garage to go into the trash. Stupid tree. Always hated it anyway.

Needless to say, we ordered dinner in.

I spent the night crying. I didn't seem to be able to stop. James sat and hurt a lot, even after a hot shower, and we went to bed early, and I cried and he hurt, and eventually we fell asleep until the dog barked.

Sunday James stoked up on ibuprofin and naproxin. My eyes still hurt and I didn't particularly feel like going out, but groceries need to be bought no matter what, so I went to Publix for twofers and Kroger for the usual. I would have made it in record time if I hadn't had to wait for the nice Kroger employee to get me more yogurt from the back. Later I went to Belk on Dallas Highway because they had bedsheets on sale—$40 any size, 400 threadcount. Lucked out because the Kroger next door had gas for six cents a gallon less than the ones nearest our house. We had quick and easy Hormel beef tips over spaetzle for supper, and I made Willow some chicken breast, veggies, and brown rice. She wolfed it down and then promptly regurgitated it. Apparently she takes the metaphor "wolf down" seriously.

This morning Willow started to bark and James was able to move a bit better and take her out, but she kept barking. We weren't certain why, so got up. Since she didn't eat much yesterday, James warmed her up some food. She drank water, didn't want the food. In fact, she started the ceaseless pacing that marked the days before she had to go to the vet in December. I gave her a pain pill, but it didn't seem to help very much. So she paced, so I tried to feed her, so I took her out a couple of times. About noon I went to Costco to pick up more omeprazole (it's a good sale) and ended up finding a light jacket, which I've needed for several years now. All I had were two fleece ones.

Wil seemed to shake off her torpor at suppertime and was actively mooching food, but she couldn't have our portions (Italian sausage and scampi-flavored noodles) and didn't seem to be interested in either her chicken mix or the beef broth I put out. She did eat five small dog biscuits and some watermelon. Not sure what happened. All she's eaten is the grain-free dry food or the chicken mixture for weeks now. No leftovers of our food, no goodies besides plain dog biscuits, except for the one fortune cookie she had last night. She's been sleeping most of the evening while we watched a whiz-bang cliffhanger on Sleepy Hollow and Alexis finally coming to her senses on Castle.

Please send 2013 away! I'm ready for a new year.

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» Sunday, January 12, 2014
Errands on Sunday

Wow, even James slept in this morning, because Willow didn't bark.

However, we would have preferred it if she did. Let's say I didn't get breakfast for a little while. I guess we are going to have to start locking her up in the bathroom again. Grrr. By the time I got to eat, I was starving and I'd already woken up with a headache because I was hungry. Oatmeal and milk solved the problem.

We got up so late we didn't get to Kroger until after noon; the store looked very crowded based on the parking lot, but there didn't seem to be that many people in the store. We needed lots of basics, including milk, bananas, bread, yogurt, etc. and had four coupons for BreatheRight strips that brought them down to a price that merely made me scream. (However, they make a big difference in how you sleep, especially when you have a deviated septum, so they're worth it in the end.) On the way home we had to stop at Advance Auto Parts to get some bungee cords to hold the "trunk" in the bed of the truck. There was a poor couple there desperately trying to find the fuse box in their car; they bought it used and it didn't come with a manual. It's a toss-up because they're in a different place in each car.

We had time for a few bites of lunch (leftover chicken wings from the party) and then had to drive out to the vet fast to get more of those $100 Cushing's pills, since they were closing at three. We brought Willow so they could see how she was, and then stopped at Trader Joe's so James could pick up more soy crackers, and we got a few other things. I stayed in the truck with Willow and she whined the entire time. :-)

By the time we got home, it was nearly time for dinner. I'd been popping up all day and putting away a Christmas thing here, and a Christmas thing there. I did get all the garlands and the door wreaths down, and the candles out of the library window, and now the two boxes, the one of garlands and candles, and the one of pillows and stuffed animals, are both done. We had pork chops and fried rice Rica-a-Roni for supper and watched things off the DVR: the first episode of the newest This Old House sequence, the remodeling of a 19th century Italianate home in Arlington, MA (wonderful view of Boston at the beginning!!!) and two episodes of Alaska: the Last Frontier.

The only disappointment of the night was when we tried to fit the new pivot pin on the top of the bifold closet door. It turned out to be too short! But not really. It turns out the pivot pin at the bottom is broken, too, and therefore the door is not being lifted high enough off the floor, so we can't fit the door back on until we get a new one of those. Urgh.

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» Saturday, January 11, 2014
Donder und Blitzen

Ah...time to sleep before going to the Farmer's Market!

In short succession, the alarm went off, I hit the snooze alarm, then rain crashed against the window, followed by a gust of wind that billowed the curtains and the shade (later we found out it broke the staff of the small flag outside), then the weather radio alarm went off (twice), then the dog barked, and then it thundered. And by that time, after James took Willow out, we decided it would be too wet to go anyway. So we did get to sleep late anyway, but not exactly as we wanted. It was so nice and cozy under those blankets!

After breakfast—oh, we were listening to a jazz station this morning, and you should have heard Snowy singing along!—I started taking Christmas things down. I'd packed up the Rudolph tree, the things in the spare bedroom, and the things in our room already and had them in their box, and this morning I started dismantling the dining room, which already had almost all of the kitchen things in with them. I worked until noon, at which time it had finally stopped raining, and we were off on a couple of errands.

Thankfully the Farmer's Market still had an hour to go (we were even lucky enough to get a parking space on the Square), so we got James' chicken salad, my goat cheese, and a couple of other things, and stuffed them in an insulated bag with some ice, since it was getting warmer by the minute (Tuesday the high was 26°F, and today it was going to be at least 61; if you don't like the weather in Georgia, wait a minute). Then we drove up to JoAnn, since I was completely out of candle bulbs. Had a coupon and got a couple of things for gifts, a magazine, and a book for card making. By the time we got out of JoAnn the dark clouds were gone and the sky was bright blue and cloud white.

From JoAnn we stopped at Publix trying to find a new dry dog food for Willow. Well, to our surprise they had the new Rachael Ray grain-free, which I've seen advertised for over six months, but not seen in any store until now. It is turkey, beets, and vegetables; that's it. Finally we stopped at Lowes to get an upper pin for the bi-fold closet door hinge in the spare room. I was taking something out of the closet this morning and the door nearly fell on me. The spring that keeps the pin in the hole in the frame had broken. It didn't look like the one we already had, though, so we stopped at Home Depot, too, and got theirs. Whatever fits!

Finally we stopped at CVS to pick up some BreatheRights with another coupon, and then we could go home. We had the Italian wedding soup we bought at the Farmer's Market, and I put on Galaxy Quest because we did not get a chance to watch it on New Year's Day. I love this movie—it's a funny movie not played for laughs, Tony Shalhoub is wonderful in it, it's one of the best representations of fandom ever, and the fans get to help save the day! I also finished packing up the dining room/kitchen decorations, including the ceppo. At the rate I am going, it looks like I will have to spend my day off Friday taking down the Christmas tree. I still need to do the library!

After watching all the extras on the GQ disk, I put on Day of the Doctor. Still quite a ride! I love Ten and Eleven arguing like a couple of schoolboys and the War Doctor just rolling his eyes. And I loved being able to see "The Night of the Doctor" on a big beautiful screen instead of on the computer. The extras are cool, too, but I wish they'd been able to put Peter Davison's "Five-ish Doctors Reunion" on there as well. Watching things on computer screens is overrated. :-)

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» Friday, January 10, 2014
The Week That Was and Was and Was

And on Monday, I'd used up all my use-or-lose leave, and it was back to work. However, I lucked out; they were predicting such bad weather on Monday that we had a delayed opening. Hey, anything that gets me more sleep is fine with me. And then of course I spent about an hour cleaning almost two-hundred e-mails out of my e-mail box. Of all of them, I had about twenty legit ones.

It was a long, long week. I did about three purchase orders and worked on modifications, but have a couple of things that I need to get out but have not gotten back with signature from the vendor, and I really, really want to get the process finished up. I had some bids that closed and one that, frustratingly, did not turn out. After being two weeks free of fluorescent lights, the ones in my office really packed a wallop when I got back; maybe I need to look into getting a torchiere lamp. It bothers me how lightheaded they make me. The two telework days were better, and during lunch I did get a start on taking down the decorations (well, I got the woodland tree down, cleared off James' game table, and made sure all the decorations in the immediate area were corralled in the library so I don't forget them), especially on the porch. I went out on that cold, cold day on Tuesday afternoon (the high was 26°F) to at least get the Christmas things off the porch (they're still in the foyer) and put up the winter wreath and flag, and took the lights and stakes and put them into the garage.

However, in better news, Willow has been improving slowly day by day. We have been cooking chicken with vegetables (sometimes with rice and sometimes without) for her (Wednesday we took some of the lean stew beef we had for supper and made that with veggies for her; needless to say she loved it). She's still thin, but she's lost that pinched look, and she can jump into James' chair again. I really lucked out finding that coat on sale for her, since she really needed it, having no fat padding right now, when the temperatures fell so low earlier in the week. She hated it, of course; had an injured look on her face each time I put it on, as if to say "I'm not some poodle dog!"

This is a Big Deal. When we brought her home Christmas Eve I thought for sure they'd let us take her home because they thought she was going to die and they knew we wanted her to do that at home. It is so nice to see her mooching for food again, and not looking so forlorn.

Finally it was Friday night! We had supper out at Panda Express, then went out to the Perimeter Mall Barnes & Noble to pick up my copy of Day of the Doctor. I ordered it when they did their sale in December, but there was some sort of glitch and I never got called to pick it up; our friend Alan works there, so I let him know and he made sure I got my copy at the sale price. Also picked up the P.L. Travers' bio, Mary Poppins, She Wrote.

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» Sunday, January 05, 2014
Errands on the Twelfth Day of Christmas

Well, we finally got to sleep late! Of course that was interrupted by Willow, barking to go out at 7 o'clock. but it was nice and cool without and nice and warm within, and it was so snuggly that it was depressing to get up and turn both alarm clocks on. :-)

So we didn't go out until noon. We had a CVS coupon, so we went there to get some BreatheRight strips. We happened to cut through the former Christmas aisle and everything was 90 percent off. I scored three packs of very pretty tissue paper, a gift card box, a candy-cane striped garland, five boxes of tinsel, and a jingle bell wreath I hope to use at the office next year for less than $5. James usually gets a pair of slippers during Christmas because almost everyone has them on sale, but we didn't see any this year, but he found a pair at CVS.

Then we went to Kroger. Now, we are expecting a steep temperature drop tomorrow. It was in the forties today, but the high tomorrow is supposed to be in the twenties, and the low tomorrow night in single digits, and it's supposed to start raining late tonight. We're not expecting snow, but we might have ice, which I'm more wary of. Apparently everyone else has been watching the weather, too, because the crowd at Kroger was massive; it looked like Christmas Eve! We threaded through the carts and people and got some chicken for Willow and steak for us and other groceries.

Once we got home and had that put away, we did two prep things: one, we brought the rest of the bird seed upstairs and put it in the barrel on the deck, as the birds were eating the remainder of the last batch. I also put out some suet. More importantly, we turned off both outside hose taps. Imagine my surprise when I went to one of the taps and saw a little grass snake lying in the pine straw. He was alive, too, because he was gone when I went back outside to confirm the tap was off.

Once done with that, it was a time to relax and read the paper, cut coupons, and listen to the last Christmas music channel left on Dish, the Traditional Holiday channel. This has been a nice background music for this season. Once done with the paper, I read more of the Christmas in... books from World Book. Nothing worth watching on the idiot box!

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» Saturday, January 04, 2014
Party Like It's 2014

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to Hair Day James goes...

I stayed home because (1) the centerpiece was chili and I can't eat it and (2) I was down to the last of the cleaning for the party. I swept and washed the master bath floor in case someone needed to use it, tidied up the bedroom, cleaned the hall bath thoroughly, washed the kitchen floor, and then cleaned off the coffee table and the sofa, put up my cross-stitch things, and generally tidied. I needed to vacuum, but Willow was asleep and I thought I'd let her, as I knew she would be schmoozing tonight.

I was just about finished when James came home, and we went to Costco. The place was like a mob scene! James finally dropped me off and I ran inside to get things for the party and I also found omeprazole on sale. By the time he found a parking space, way down near the Costco gas station, I was already at the checkout counter! We came home by Publix, where we got a few more party things, and then commenced to get ready. I finished vacuuming, moving chairs, etc. just in time to get tidied up and change before Anne and Clay showed up.

We had a very small crowd, as Isabel was at her mom's party and Juanita; of course was unable to come (but she is now testing negative for C-diff—hurrah!), so we had the Spiveys, the Boulers, Anne and Clay, the Butlers, and Terry Sanders. Had the football games on for most of the party, first the Eagles and the Colts and then the Chiefs and whoever. Nowhere near as fun as the hockey game in the snow from New Year's Day!

A small crowd means we had lots of leftover food. We decided to eat the roast beef au jus rolls tomorrow and the chicken wings on Monday since we both have to be back to work and will not be in the mood to cook. (We will have to cook for Willow, though. Good news: Anne brought some of the dog food she cooks for her three dachshunds. It is ground chicken, frozen vegetables, and brown rice in a sodium free broth. Wil would have preferred all meat, but she did eventually eat it all, mostly because the big pleading eyes she turned on everyone, including her usually go-tos, John and Betty, didn't work and she didn't get any goodies at all.)

Spent the rest of the evening listening to Christmas music. Sigh. It's over again for another year. Now it's time to plan for the RV Show and Anachrocon and maybe the Home Show...

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» Friday, January 03, 2014

Ah, finally, after two weeks, I get James to myself for a day. :-) He is off today because he worked on Saturday.

Most of what we planned to do today was tidy up for the party. I unclogged my sink in the master bath (again) and then cleaned off the counter, and scrubbed the toilet and rinsed out the jacuzzi. The floor I'll leave until tomorrow. Tidied the bedroom, and ran a duster about. Clicking around the television, we found something called America Unearthed, about people using archaeology to try to prove their pet beliefs. The first show we saw was set in Newport, at the old stone tower that has been identified as a grist mill built in colonial times by Benedict Arnold (the great-grandfather of the traitor), but which others say was built by Vikings, the Chinese, and, in this case, by the Knights Templars. The next show took place at Mystery Hill in Salem, NH, which we visited in 2010, a neolithic settlement which still exists even though people have lived on the land through the Civil War. Got a kick out of both.

And that's basically what we did all day, plus cook for Willow. We ate supper at home to save money (we had some chicken breast James had slow-cooked in cream of onion soup). Willow ate a whole chicken thigh, a few tastes of kibble, some of the Hill's food with chicken broth in it (the dog's going to start clucking soon), and even ate a few bits of my chicken breast and some of the spaetzle James served it over.

In the evening we went to Hobbytown so he could pick up some modeling glue, and then stopped at Second and Charles to grab a book. I found two more boxes of the Christmas cards I liked, and then one box with cute little birds on the front. On the way home we stopped at the Dallas Highway Barnes & Noble to see if there was anything cool on their clearance tables. Sadly, only found two things.

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» Thursday, January 02, 2014
Getting Ready for the Future
Had a successful morning following breakfast: I stopped at Barnes & Noble to check out their clearance tables and found at least six excellent future gifts. From there I used two more Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons to get myself a Ped-Egg to use on my feet and some Plinks for the garbage disposal. Then I stopped by Kaiser to refill a prescription (I found one of the three pharmacy parking spaces that are not for a handicapped user, a miracle in itself), and finally I went to Aldi for milk, and completely lucked out finding what James was looking for, a blue Christmas tree to use as the airplane tree. however, it is not prelit, so next year we will have to get it a string of lights.

The Christmas lull was over and James worked a full day, so I spent the afternoon cleaning downstairs in case the kids want to use it at the party. Bathroom all scrubbed out, and everything vacuumed; also the downstairs hall and laundry room, and rearranged some of the food stock.

Willow managed to eat almost 1/3 of a can of the Hill's gastrointestinal diet which I'd watered down with unsalted chicken broth, and I cooked her a thigh for supper tonight. We had leftovers for supper and watched a new Big Bang Theory. This was a sad episode. Raj and Stuart just hung out trying to sharpen their conversational skills, Sheldon tried to learn the secret of humor, and Leonard did the right thing (you should not accept drunken marriage proposals!) and got screwed (as usual) for it. Then watched an old Father Brown off the DVR.

The garbage men aren't due until Saturday morning due to New Year, but we gathered the trash anyway because half of the baskets were overflowing. We can just put another bag in the container tomorrow night if need be.

Tomorrow—more cleaning! Party prep!!!

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» Wednesday, January 01, 2014
2014 Comes in With an "Eh"
It wasn't the world's most sterling New Year's Day. James had to get up and go to work, although he didn't have to be in until eight. I tried to sleep in and was thwarted by (1) nature and (2) barking. So I got up, took Willow outside and then fed her, messed with e-mail and surveys, tried to read, and finally settled at the computer updating the copyrights on my domain and on my website. Yeah, I know. Thrilling, but it has to be done every year. I was DVR'ing the Rose Parade and didn't watch much, but I was keeping half an eye on it to see the big "controversial" float: I forgot who the sponsor was, but a gay couple was supposed to be married on one of the floats in keeping with the theme "Dreams Come True.". Several people on a mailing list I belonged to said they weren't going to watch it because "it wasn't family material." Sigh. Not family friendly, huh? Two gay men who have been in a stable relationship get married aren't family friendly, but a heterosexual couple who beat up their 2-year-old for peeing his pants are? or who starve their 6-year-old daughter to death? prostitute their children to people on the internet? Married heterosexual couples who abuse old people or sell meth or rob stores together with their child in tow or fence stolen goods are apparently "family friendly" simply because they are heterosexual, but a lesbian couple who are honest and loving aren't? Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

And of course, after all that, as far as I can tell, no one covering the parade showed the ceremony. Probably didn't want to hurt their ratings. Because, of course, it's not about what's right, it's about what sells.

When I got done with the copyright upgrades, I did a full backup of my hard drive. I've only done partials for the last two months, backing up only what needed backing up. I cleared the disk and started clean.

Willow kept me busy all afternoon asking to go out, which means I missed most of a treat: they had a hockey game on this afternoon, the Maple Leafs vs. Detroit, and it was being played outside and it was snowing. Reminds me of the old days when football games were played on real fields and the players got muddy or snowy or wet, not like these pampered, steroid-swollen, overpaid oafs who play in the comfort of a covered stadium. Would have been happy to watch it all afternoon.

I made turkey thighs for supper. Did feed some small pieces, sans gravy, and from the leanest part of the thigh, to Willow, who is definitely hungry, but who still refuses to eat the Hill's food. She had chicken once again, and some broth. Once James got home, I played the Rose Parade as we had supper; Vin Scully was the Grand Marshall and his voice is as mellifluous as ever.

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