Yet Another Journal

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

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

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» Sunday, November 30, 2014
Sunny Skies Followed by Weariness and Disaster

And the day started so well.

We slept (mostly) eight hours, got up for a good breakfast while I ordered one prescription online. I turned the other two in at Kroger, then we bought gasoline, then we did the weekly grocery shopping, and then we picked up the prescriptions before we left. I had to laugh. They had small Christmas trees, like the original Christmas trees the Germans originated; they were always tabletop trees. Kroger was calling them "elf trees." I remember the two years we had an "elf tree": in 1957, when my dad's mother died. Possibly in 1963 after my mother's parents had both died. Oddly, I don't remember that Christmas at all; in 1963, it was all about President Kennedy.

We put the groceries away and then decided to take the power chair on another run. We got it on the truck okay, but between the weight and the wind (it was warm this morning and we shed jackets before we left), James had to get used to driving it on the freeway and he didn't feel comfortable going over sixty. It's definitely making the truck feel different to ride in, never mind drive. However, we arrived at Sprouts in good order and did some shopping there, and bought sandwiches from the deli. We took those across the street and had delicious dark, hot chocolate at the chocolate shop at the Prado along with the sandwiches, eating outside at one of the tables (by then it was definitely warm enough), watching the Christmas shoppers go by and people lose their tempers in the parking lot. Then James negotiated the sidewalk and steered his way around inside Barnes & Noble. I bought a copy of "Time" (sorry, I was seduced by the Benedict Cumberbatch side of the Force) and the new Sleepy Hollow magazine. James used the 30 percent off coupon on the book The Martian.

By then I was already wiped out from the sun, the warm, and having to help get the chair out and off the ramp; James was having some trouble with it, as it doesn't have traction all the time, something we will have to make note of when we go back to the Mobility people for his "checkup." Plus he got his finger jammed when he was working with the lift. But we did stop at Trader Joe's and get some cranberry bars, potatoes, and a few other things.

It was better heading home—but that's when it happened. We pulled in the driveway. Now, the chair has to go into the garage when the truck is not physically in residence; it's a small garage and there's just not room around the vehicles to get the chair inside. So he stopped before opening the garage door, figuring he'd lower the chair, then open the garage door, and get it in before pulling the truck in. Unfortunately, the driveway is on a tilt, and James didn't think he was close enough for the lift to lay down flat. He wanted to pull up just a few inches to make sure the lift platform was flush to the concrete. I suggested "Why not just put it in neutral since you already shut the engine off?" Well, he did, and the truck, with the chair on the back, started to roll...really fast, because of the 500 pounds additional weight. He hit the brake but his foot slipped off it and smack we went into the garage door. The truck is okay, if scratched on the hood, but the garage door is toast. So instead of walking the dog and then putting decorations up while James warmed up the turkey leftovers, I was walking the dog and calling the insurance company. Great, they don't have any authorized repair shops. I have to get quotes. [snarl]

To feel better I put on the first of our Christmas favorites tonight, "Merry Gentlemen" from All Creatures Great and Small, "First Noel" from To the Manor Born, and "Silly, But It's Fun..." from The Good Life (Good Neighbors), and finally a little bit of Dave Allen for a good laugh. In the meantime I went online and advertised what I needed in garage repair on "Thumbtack" (I'd used this before, at work, to try to get quotes for a catering job for an awards ceremony) and already have one response. The quote seems a little bit low; not sure if this guy knows how bad the door is bashed in. The bottom two panels are completely wrecked, and that includes the handle that locks the garage when you don't have a garage door opener on it. The frame may be torn up, too.

Yes, that's my credit card you hear screaming. Again.

Oh, and I did managed to get some decorations up after all: the electric candles in the front and back windows, and the Christmas wreaths on the doors upstairs, and the mistletoe. :-) I also cleaned the Thanksgiving things off the porch and at least put the wreath and the Christmas flag up, because it looked silly to have Christmas candles up with Thanksgiving decorations. I took the decorations off the porch right after I'd walked Tucker for the night; I left him for, at the most, five minutes and don't you know he went after that poor turkey again? At least this time it only got wet! Earlier he had absconded with one of the two small, stuffed gingerbread men that go on our bedroom door and secreted it in his crate. We found it before his teeth did any damage, but we found the remains of a plastic spoon and one of the casters for the bottom of the dining room chairs there, too!

It's not like we don't give this dog chew toys! He has three chew bones, a Kong, and an antler. Sheesh!

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» Saturday, November 29, 2014
Over the River and Through the Interstate

We spent the day visiting with the family in Warner Robins. We spent about a half hour wondering if we were even going to get down there, as we ran into a mystery jam for about twenty miles. I drove on the way down and listened to This Week in Tech talking about net neutrality while James tried out his tablet. It was a sunny day and we started out in jackets and had to shed them by the time we arrived. And it's going to be worse tomorrow!

James' sister Sherii and her husband Bobby were down from South Carolina, and we sat around yakking for a while, then had a great lunch at Applebee's. We got to tour Reese and Bobby's new travel trailer, which still has the new trailer smell. :-) It has a nice bedroom cubby behind a wall; the television reverses so you can watch in bed or in the living/dining area. Even a nice little oven and a small fridge, plus a bathroom and some bunks in the back. James' youngest sister Sabra came over after we finished lunch and we talked some more, then left about six. Listened to two episodes of "The Splendid Table" and then some Gaelic Storm, fighting the same mystery jams on the way home.

Walked Tucker and later chatted with Emma.

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» Friday, November 28, 2014
Awake (Sorta) With a Credit Card

or "I Swore I Wouldn't Buy More Wrapping Paper, But..."

For some idiot reason, we stayed up late last night, even though James had to work today, so when that alarm rang we were both shell-shocked. I had intended to take Tucker out before I left, but even he wasn't awake yet. So I left and went up to Town Center with various slips of paper and coupons on me. At Bed, Bath & Beyond, with a 20 percent off of everything, I bought an oven thermometer, a bottle of "Cola Free" for James' Soda Stream, and some new wooden spoons. They gave me a coupon for $5 off $20 at Cost Plus World Market next door, so I went in, got the free Downton Abbey cup, and bought some crackers for the Twelfth Night party, little bottles of clotted cream for Christmas morning, some baker's twine in red/white/green, and some Christmas candy (rock candy cuts in different flavors). When I got home I put the latter in a bowl, and it's our first Christmas decoration. :-)

I stopped at Target for something, and reminded myself why Target frustrates me so. They seem to not have anything, but yet appear untidy and crowded. I did find a new rubber bone for Tucker, and I looked at the Christmas trees (goodness, nothing under 7 feet!) and lights, but I wasn't there long, just long enough for me to go into Best Buy (which wasn't crowded at all) and pick up season seven of The Big Bang Theory. I did notice they had Samsung Galaxy 5 phones in an exclusive color, steel blue.

With a 25 percent off everything (including sale items), I bought a few small things in Michaels, and a new library tree, pre-lit and 4-feet high. After all the discounts it was $15. Then I hopped next door to JoAnn. I swore I wasn't going to buy anymore Christmas wrapping paper, but $3.99 rolls were 99¢ each, and then I had a 25 percent off everything (including sale items) coupon, so four of them ended up costing me $3.00. Also got a few small things and "Cross Stitch Collection."

By then I was starving, so I beat feet over to the Barnes & Noble and had some hot cocoa and a bagel. I used my 30 percent off coupon to buy How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman, who was part of the crew on the BBC's Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, etc. I love her because she's not afraid to experiment with all aspects of historical life. You won't hear her whining about not being able to wear makeup like those twits on Frontier House! Also picked up three magazines and a remainder book about A Christmas Story.

And then...yes! I went next door into CD Warehouse and found a nice used copy of An Adventure in Space and Time!

Came home through Kennesaw National Battlefield Park and downtown Marietta, immediately took Tucker out upon arriving home, and, after putting about half of my purchases away, conked out on the futon for almost two hours. (I found out later from the FitBit that we'd only slept four hours and forty minutes!)

James arrived home about three o'clock. Now, yesterday, my stupid phone had gotten on my last nerve. We had to get to Leigh's house for Thanksgiving dinner and remembered the house, but not the precise directions. So I put it into the GPS of my phone, and right as we needed to make the essential turn, the stupid phone rebooted. I was tired of not having GPS access in the afternoon on my way home from work, too. Anne and Clay had mentioned they liked their Samsung Galaxy 5 phones, so I told James about the blue phones at Best Buy.

Holy cow, the place was packed! Everyone must have come over after work, and there was a line to get to talk to the cell phone rep! Was a blue phone worth it? No. So we drove across the parking lot to the Verizon store. They were loaded for bear: someone met you at the door and put your name on a waiting list. Everything was done on iPads. We didn't wait all that long, and, although the activation and the transfer of a few of James' pictures (he had some old photos of Willow he didn't want to lose) took a bit, we were out of there by seven o'clock.

Oh, and we didn't get the Samsungs after all. They had several free phones, but when I said we were looking for long battery life, we were shown the new Motorola Droid Turbo. It's running the latest build, KitKat, and had all sorts of bells and whistles and supposedly the battery lasts for fifty hours. I don't believe that, but if it lasts all day at hard (i.e. DragonCon) use, it's worth it. You can't swap batteries, but I feel better about that since I have one of those battery-charger sticks and it does work. So bye-bye went the Nexuses without a qualm.

Plus, the new phones are red!

They also had a new tablet that was free this weekend, the Ellipsis 8. James took one look at it and fell in love. The only charge we paid was the taxes on the phones and money for a tablet cover.

Dinner was from Dragon. I also finished repairing the turkey Tucker had savaged with the help of needle and thread, two black beads for eyes, and a brown Sharpie. Spent the other parts of the evening reprogramming the new phone!

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» Thursday, November 27, 2014
Friends, Food, and Flummery

There are never enough hours in the day to do what I wish! I wanted to sweep and wash the kitchen and bathroom floors yesterday and never got to it. James had finally put all the plastic storage away, so I exchanged the step-shelves on the counter which holds veggie flakes, additional spices, etc. for a taller but narrower one. Everything can be seen now. I did get some books reviewed.

James got home early because work had slowed to a crawl. He had bought some accoutrements for his power chair (a storage pouch and a drink holder, and also a flag), so we put the first two on. (Will have to study on how to get the flag on; we don't want to fasten it on before he has the back of the chair adjusted.) Since we were already down in the garage, I suggested we fix the truck's passenger side mirror. It broke several weeks ago, and I had ordered a replacement from Amazon which came with all that we needed to install, including super-sticky adhesive. I removed it from the box, placed it up against the broken one, and noted with approval that it would fit perfectly.

And then I dropped the wretched thing. Unprintable comments follow.

I ordered a new one as soon as we got upstairs. How provoking!

This evening we watched several Thanksgiving specials, The History of Thanksgiving, A New England Thanksgiving, and another Food Network special about the history of the foods, and then, finally, my favorite of all, The Thanksgiving Treasure, the second of the Addie Mills specials in which an eleven-year-old Addie befriends a crotchety old farmer in order to emulate the Pilgrims befriending the Indians. She does have an ulterior motive—he owns a horse and Addie is crazy about horses—but learns to think of him as a friend. This is my copy that I recorded off the Disney Channel so long ago when Disney had decent programming, but I discovered that they have re-released the first Addie Mills story, The House Without A Christmas Tree on a double bill with a professional copy of The Thanksgiving Treasure! I still have many Amazon points, so I ordered it.

This morning I was up at eight o'clock to go after a newspaper. I was awed by its size. On Sunday we usually buy a double paper to get twice the coupons, and this behemoth was even bigger than the two of them. And the Constitution takes advantage of the desire for this paper: once upon a time the Thanksgiving paper was the same price as the daily paper. Several years ago they started charging Sunday paper prices, and today they charged a dollar more than that! Once I got home I walked Tucker and then settled in to watch the Macy's Parade and then the National Dog Show. During commercial breaks and Broadway spots I baked a chocolate peppermint loaf to take along, read the paper, and pulled out ads I was interested in. There's nothing we need, but I'd like to get season seven of Big Bang Theory and some flannel pajama bottoms for James. And I really want to look into getting a new phone. Today we were heading to Leigh Boros' house and the GPS gave me trouble, and then the phone rebooted at the crucial turn. Enough!

So the best part of the day came during Thanksgiving dinner with all our friends. We shared turkey and ham and pot roast, rice (James made Uncle Ben's wild rice and put toasted almonds in it; fabulous!) and corn casserole and stuffing, and sweet potatoes, cranberries and beets, with pumpkin and raspberry pies and the chocolate loaf (which was overdone on top but still tasted good) for dessert. We sat at the table and told pet stories about half the night while another contingent watched football, and we finally headed home about eight, full of good food and good fellowship.

Finished the night watching the last half hour of Airplane! and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

And finally, Counting-Our-Blessings on Thanksgiving Day:
Having Willow for nearly 16 years.
For Snowy who sings and speaks and enjoys his teevee and loved vacation.
For Tucker, who freed us from our Slough of Despond.
For a warm home on a cold day (and, conversely, for a cool home on a warm day months ago).
For family (from Georgia all the way up to Rhode Island, and everywhere in between and out west) and friends who have become family (too many to name here) and long-distance friends.
For Kaiser who gave James his chair without quarrel.
For work, which buys us the things we love.
For autumn days and books, and conventions and books, and places to go and things to see and winter afternoons...and did I mention books?
And so much for those who serve: the police, the firefighters, the EMTs, the highway patrol, the doctors, the nurses, the social workers, the soldiers, the sailors, the flyers, the guards, and the volunteers. You are truly blessings, each and every one.

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» Sunday, November 23, 2014
The Best Place to Spend a Cold, Wet Afternoon?

A bookstore of course.

Before that, we slept. Oh, how we slept! I'm not sure how we stayed up last night, as tired as we were...well, I was chatting with Emma for a while, and even there I dozed off. I woke up at 9:30, took some ibuprofin, and went back to bed until ten. Then Tucker was perambulated in the rain and we had what was a sad little breakfast next to what Trish provided us every morning. And, oh, it was a rainy day. It drizzled in the morning, and then in the afternoon the heavens let go.

Of course we ended up going out in the thick of it, just as the thunder began. But all I had to face was putting all the vacation things away, and I really Did Not Want to Do It Just Now. So we went to Publix to pick up a newspaper, plus the fixings we need for our share of Thanksgiving dinner. Found a few other things on buy-one-get-one as well, and they had the cutest little Christmas reusable shopping bags, so I bought a couple: a snowflake on blue design and another with two snowmen inside a heart made of Christmas motifs.

Then we went on to Barnes & Noble because I had coupons. James didn't find anything, but I bought the newest Mrs. Jeffries mystery. I've always wondered what these were like, so I figured I'd get this Christmas story to see what the series was about. Plus I picked up the November/December "Landlove" and the Christmas issue of "A Primitive Place and Country Journal." I love prims!

For the rest of the afternoon and the evening I alternatively got things put away and just did "stuff": cleared out the toiletries/electronics bag and James heaved it back on its shelf, and half the bags were emptied (chocolates, pet stuff—although it isn't all put away, etc.). I put up the autumn tree from Cracker Barrel, which throws out a surprising lot of light, and put the books up, put the chocolates on the table, and put away the snacks we'd taken with us, and various other boring things. Made the bed, sorry to say did not start the laundry, although I got the first load in the washer, and finished reading Fear in the Sunlight; read my new cross-stitch magazines, watched North Woods Law and Alaska: the Last Frontier. Tried to watch Netflix like we did last night, but it wouldn't connect. (I had put "Journey to Babel" on and was amazed at the detail in these remastered Star Trek episodes, like braid on Kirk's uniform and the embroidery on Sarek's tunic. Of course all the defects in the makeup of the time show up, too; you can tell the Tellarites are wearing masks.) Instead I watched some season eight Lassie episodes I found on YouTube.

Right before sunset the clouds started clearing away. I looked up through the dining room windows to see an unearthly yellow glow over all the trees in the back yard. They have turned rather dull colors this year, but with the light on them they positively glowed even with faded color. (The camera could not pick up what my eyes saw; a pity!) Then I peeked down into the foyer and it looked as if chromium yellow light was streaming all over the lawn. I raced outside with my camera on panorama setting to this:

Ten minutes later the sky over the houses was a vivid orange, with purple above, and when it winked out it was like a light switch going off. Absolutely lovely!

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» Saturday, November 22, 2014
51 Years Ago Today
Frank McGee signs off, November 22, 1963

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Nothing Happened Today...
...except that we came home, and that's good. We had no accidents, only left behind an old towel that went over the dog crate and some ham, everything was okay when we got home. So, "nothing" was excellent indeed.

Ate our last breakfast at Trish's, and were so sad to give them up! There's nothing in Atlanta that would equal the breakfast I've been having every day for a week, especially that big bowl of real oatmeal, at the price. Even worse, they were having Thanksgiving dinner today, starting at eleven, but we had to check out at ten and we certainly couldn't leave Tucker or Snowy in the car in these temps (it was in the 20s this morning). Trish even offered to make us some to go, but after we puzzle-pieced the car together, there wasn't one inch of it that was free that wouldn't have been in range of Tucker's hungry little mouth. So we sadly drove on.

We bought gasoline before we left, and we certainly are going to miss the prices at least 20 cents cheaper than Atlanta (there are a couple places on the Parkway that are down to $2.44, 30 cents cheaper). We had to stop to re-secure the Rollator (twice) and ate at Krystal just because it was easiest. At our last stop, the Georgia Welcome Center (where they had a nifty Christmas tree decorated with origami shapes), Tucker sniffed noses with a chihuahua. He's really had his nose out of joint on this trip, even though we played with him every night. He wanted to sleep on us, and he wasn't supposed to be on the furniture. The only thing he seemed to like was the walk every morning and evening up and down that gravel road. I will never forget him pouncing on those leaves! Snowy, on the other hand, has had a grand old time and sang continuously all the way home, faltering only the last few miles as he got a sleepy look, but couldn't manage the nap because the ride was occasionally bumpy.

We arrived home at 4:30, put the animals back in their accustomed places, and wearily dragged our bottoms to Kroger. It's supposed to pour tomorrow and neither of us wanted to go grocery shopping in it. Plus I needed milk! And we wanted dinner. So we have everything but a newspaper, including our own turkey (thighs), which we'll make tomorrow night for dinner.

And tomorrow it's time to do laundry and coo over the books and the birdie and the puppy.

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» Friday, November 21, 2014
Like the Ghost of Christmas Present...Our Time Grows Short
"Last day." Two of the saddest words: "Last day."

In the meantime, it all started out as always: we woke, we dressed, I walked Tucker, we had breakfast at Trish's. Wish the cabin wasn't reserved for tomorrow, because then I could ask for a late checkout, and we could have Thanksgiving dinner there, but alas, booked until Tuesday. But we will get to enjoy one more breakfast.

Today we drove into Gatlinburg and just enjoyed ourselves. James wanted to go to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, so we did. It was fun. This is the collection of George Barris, who designed custom cars for Hollywood movies and television. Several cars sit in the doorway, including "Jethro Gibbs'" car from NCIS. (From his dad, played by Ralph Waite, and there was a nice printout memorializing Waite near the car.) Inside, the biggest draw is the Batmobile from the Batman TV series in the 1960s. There were five of them made from the only Lincoln Futura ever constructed (also used in a Glenn Ford movie), and this was number four. Other cars were the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, the Ectomobile (Ghostbusters), the only surviving Jeep truck of three made for "Jo Harding" (Helen Hunt) in Twister, Andy Taylor's Mayberry police car (autographed by Don Knotts on the glovebox), Herbie the Love Bug, the Flintstone car from the movie with John Goodman, KITT from Knight Rider (with William Daniels dialog), some Fast and Furious cars and one from Transformers, Grandpa's coffin dragster from The Munsters, a Delorean (without the Mr. Fusion; with the hook) from Back to the Future, the Batmobile from the Keaton Batman, the Beverly hillbillies truck from the movie, Bob Hope's car that he used in Palm Springs, a Dolly Parton car, one of Elvis' cars and a Mercedes once belonging to Michael Jackson, a M*A*S*H series jeep, one of the 007 cars (along with gadgets from "M" and Bond's guns; so that's what a Walther PPK looks like)...and more. About half the cars had other movie memorabilia with them: the BatComputer, lobby cards, a map of the backlot at the time The Andy Griffith Show was filmed, Terminator bodies and props, etc. The neatest thing was something you might have missed looking at the celebrity cars: there was an old motorcycle and sidecar labeled that this was the first motorcycle to cross the Marne during World War I, the passenger being Black Jack Pershing!

Then we just walked down the street a bit--James still can't go far, even with "Topper."* We stopped at the Candy Kitchen (the one invaded by a bear in 2013) and I bought some orange creams, some almond bark since Trader Joe's has quit carrying theirs, and James got some sugar-free meltaways. By that time it was lunchtime, and we ate at Shoney's (had we known there was a Texas Roadhouse in the other direction, we could have limped down there and got a decent meal for cheaper than a mediocre one--we had the buffet and it was just plain "blah"). Then we turned around and came back, stopping at the Paula Deen store and having ice cream at Baskin-Robbins for dessert.

And then we were done with downtown, and we made the final trip back up the East Parkway. Before I took my coat off, I rearranged a bunch of stuff in the car so that we can get the birdcage, the dog, and our suitcases in the  back for the trip home. The Russell Stover stuff went in one bag, the other was used for the McKay's books except for the four largest ones, which I put on the decking. The cross stitch and Books-a-Million stuff went in back of the passenger seat with James' shirt and today's chocolates. So the trunk is cleared, and so is the back seat. And Tucker had his penultimate walk through the leaves.

It's time for supper, so I will close.

* You may be wondering why, since we were able to get James' power chair before we left, why we didn't take it with us. Well, a minor thing: James thought Tucker and Snowy would ride better in the car. Every time Snowy twitches, Tucker gets excited, and James didn't know if we could cope with that in the cab. But the major reason was that we are in the same row of cabins we stayed at last year (the cabin we stayed in, however, appears to no longer be managed by Stony Brook), and every single one of them has a porch that is raised from the ground and there is no ramp. I also remembered a slightly-high doorstep. We would have had no way of getting the chair on the porch, and, had we managed it somehow (backing in and lowering the platform onto the deck?), possibly then not in the cabin.

Of course when we got here we discovered this cabin is the one cabin that does not have a step-up porch and the entry is a minimum bump. But, "thems the breaks." Because we didn't know we'd get the chair on time, we had arranged that this would be a limited-movement excursion. Next year, as mom always said, "with the help of God and a few policemen," we will work on Tucker's behavior, get a handicap access place to stay, and take the truck/chair.

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» Thursday, November 20, 2014
We Do Knox
Well, we did get up early, and even Trish commented upon it when we entered the restaurant! Hoever, we still didn't get to Knoxville until 11:30. We went "the back way," which should have gotten us to Knoxville way before eleven, but we stopped for gas. Then the seat on the Rollator popped up during the drive. Not only was I worried about it coming off somehow, but the minute it did pop up you could feel the car fighting against it; it was forming a dive brake back there. We stopped at the side of the freeway, and then again a few miles up at the Russell Stover store because 12-ounces of milk and a small glass of orange juice had done its work, and the stupid seat had popped up again. But finally it was secure.

We stopped at McKay's Used Books, just off I-40, and had a great couple of hours browsing. I probably overdid it, but I still didn't finish up all my credit, and I paid for James' books, too, including a $12 cloud atlas he's been wanting. I mean, Mencken's The American Language and its supplement, which is as thick, or perhaps thicker, for $8 total? A German Christmas album featuring James Galway? A book called Trench Talk about World War I vocabulary? A history book about American women and another about Victorian women? A Noel Streatfeild? A Christmas gift? I didn't find the other two Bray Lassie books I wanted, or any "Dear America" I didn't have, but...them's the breaks at used bookstores.

We had lunch at Texas Roadhouse; they have something they call an early dinner, $9 for nine different dishes. We both had yummy six-ounce sirloins, mine with applesauce and sauteed onions. James had mushrooms and corn with his. Excellent rolls as well.

Then I did a quick run at A.C. Moore; I always take advantage of being in a Moore town, because they definitely have different stock from JoAnn and Michael's. However, it's obvious they will never carry the little wooden embellishments, about postage-stamp size, that I used to love, and unique items were very thin this year: I did get a new Christmas banner although I don't want to get rid of my Father Christmas, even though he's getting quite yellow. This has birds all over a Christmas mailbox, which will tell you why I was attracted to it. Also got some pretty chains, some small cross-stitch frames, Rhode Island (!!!!) and New Hampshire scrapbook stickers (ironically they had no Tennessee), and something for James.

Then we drove back to Sevierville. Instead of going down "Glitter Gulch" (even though it was around three and not crowded), I headed back down Dolly Parton Parkway to head back to the cabin via the opposite end of our back route into town. But I made a wrong turn. This was actually fortuitous because we ended up on the East Parkway just as we wanted to, just a little closer to Gatlinburg, and we drove through some nice countryside: some suburban-looking clusters of homes, but more often woods, mountainsides, fields of cattle and pastures with horses, little crossroads with local convenience stores and gas stations, and for several miles we paralleled the river. It was all very pleasant, and we still arrived back at the cabin before dark.

I am going to miss walking Tucker up and down the road! Last year, about midweek someone came and cleaned out the dead leaves on either side (cabins on one side, the laundry shed on the other), but it is still thick with a plush carpet of leaves. Either Tucker is imagining things, or there are little field mice or chipmunks or something scurrying under them. I spent ten minutes tonight convulsed by his freezing, then pouncing, like the fox in the snow in the Yellowstone Park Christmas video, on where he "hears" something moving underneath. He buries his nose in the leaves and snuffles and snorts, then wheels and leaps and pounces again. It's better than television.

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» Wednesday, November 19, 2014
An Interesting Detour
Our original plan was to drive into Knoxville today.

However, by the time breakfast was over, it was already 10:30, and since I still had to call and make reservations for the dinner theater one day this week (we get a free ticket to the Lumberjack Feud, which I wanted to see last year, but we were too damn sick), I had decided to do it after breakfast and thought, well, we'll do that tonight. And since we picked the early show, we had to be there by 4 p.m.

So we will get up earlier tomorrow and go then.

Today we started out by driving out to the needlework store in Wears Valley; I would drive out to Wears Valley anyway, without the shop, since it's such a pretty ride. Must be lovely at peak! It is cold this morning, but without the snow and the wind, nothing like yesterday, although I should have started the car before bed last night, as it started very sluggishly.

I got a couple of Prairie Schooler patterns, two "Stoney Creek" magazines (no one in Atlanta sells them), an old "Just Cross Stitch" with a pretty autumn band sampler, a magnetic wrist bracelet to hold needles, and some two-ended needles. I always feel nostalgic when I walk in because there's a tatting display right in the doorway; my mom did shuttle tatting for years.

Next we drove out to the Russell Stover outlet store, which is almost at I-40. James found very little in sugarless candy that we can't get in Walmart, but we got our Christmas chocolate for the season; eating one for dessert a night I think we will still have enough by Epiphany. I bought a box (24) of the peppermint bark snowmen, a box of those wonderful dark-chocolate covered gingerbread Santas, and a half-dozen each of dark-chocolate covered caramel and dark-chocolate covered mint. Also picked up cashew brittle and some candy for friends.

Heading back in from the outer edge of the Parkway, we stopped at Smokey Mountain Knife Works. I can't describe this as a Bass Pro or Cabela-like shop; they don't carry fishing gear or a lot of camping stuff. They do have knives, from Case to other models, plus guns, tarted-up knives (with sequins and junk), some camping and camo things, specially-made swords from fantasy movies like The Lord of the Rings, and downstairs there is gourmet food, barbecue paraphenalia, kitchen gadgets, etc. The neatest part of the store is the Relic Corner, which carries old things you can buy: Civil War trash found on battlefields (bullets, belt buckles, etc.), older relics like Revolutionary War things (Hessian buttons, musket balls), fossils, 19th Century medicine bottles, dinosaur coprolites, fragments of mammoth bone, etc. Very neat.

We left there early enough to stop at Kroger to get James more Coke Zero, then arrived at the Lumberjack Feud in good time. They saw James' Rollator and put us a front row so we didn't have to climb stairs, so we got a really good view of all the action. All the actors are actual winners of lumberjack contests (men and women), and they do old-fashioned lumberjack activities like log rolling, speed tree climbing, etc. in the framework of a corny but entertaining show about two feuding lumberjack families, the Dawsons and the McGraws. You also see the "Timber Dogs" (three Labradors and what looked like a redbone hound) do several feats like water jumps and fetching balls while walking on logs, and a black horse named Bill came out several times to deliver logs on skids.

We got the Christmas show, in which a maniac elf named Elfred comes from the North Pole to Pigeon Forge, where he's found the perfect Christmas tree. Both families want to cut it down, since, since the National Park opened, they've been out of work. So the ranger decides that a contest will be held to decide who will cut down the tree. This leads into demonstrations with climbing, chopping, two-man sawing, one-man sawing, chain saws, and finally the log rolling. Santa Claus appears via "Elftime" to say both families will benefit if he builds a road to the Park (one family will open the 17 pancake houses in the 3 mile stretch and the other will open amusements which will make them all rich), so everyone technically wins.

We were served dinner in "bear proof" tin lunchboxes that latched shut: a complete holiday dinner of turkey, dressing, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and tri-color corn, with a roll each, a drink, and a surprisingly not overly sweetened apple cobbler. The pre-show was a bluegrass trio singing standards and Christmas music. It was a lot of fun. We even got a show souvenir, a "lumberjack cookie" (a slice of wood sawed in one of the contests) that I got autographed by all of the Dawson performers, the Ranger, and the maniac Elfred.

Yeah, and we bought the photo they took of us, just like last year at Biltmore. In fact it's the same outfit who takes the pics at Biltmore.

Back to the cabin for an early bedtime...I hope!

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» Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Doing Nothing Is Like Doing Nothing at All
It had stopped snowing by the time we went to bed last night (about one o'clock), but big fluffy flakes were coming down this morning when we got up around nine. They weren't really sticking all that much, but were a constant delight when I took Tucker outside, because they were all almost textbook snowflakes, with beautiful six sides in different patterns, sometimes clumped together in a clot of six or seven, all perfectly formed. Walked Tucker up the road and back, frequently resorting to sticking my nose in my pashmina just to get it warm, and then we went to breakfast at Trish's. There were more people there this morning than last, and I was amused when one guy, yakking on his cell phone, mentioned he would be, that day, up "on the mountain cutting wood." I thought I was watching The Waltons.

The snow was light enough to just be a frosting on the grass and look pretty, and the road was well-traveled and quite clear, but it was so cold and the East Parkway is so curvy at points that we decided to stay in today in case there was ice between us and Gatlinburg; we even had lunch planned just in case.

I don't know how people go on vacation and loll around lying on a beach or getting massages at a resort all day. Doing nothing is about as interesting as doing makework at work. I pretty much read magazines all day, plus about half of Inside the TARDIS, and we listened to Christmas music until even I got bored and put on the radio drama "Paul Temple and the Spencer Mystery." Later we just put on Mike Holmes for the rest of the night.

I did take Tucker out about 1:30 and that was fun: we walked all the way up the gravel road and then crossed to the paved road that runs in the back of the cabins. This leads to some small houses on the east side and the businesses on the west side of the creek (behind our cabin is Jack's Market, a small grocery). I took photos of Tucker in the snow, the creek, and finally a picture of the sky, which was now clear (by that time, even though it was still only 22 degrees with the wind chill bringing it down to 10, the snow was melting, especially on the car) and bright blue.

I took the container of potato soup we bought at Kroger, split it in half, added some milk and bacon bits, and we had that for lunch along with toast. For supper we had Hormel beef tips over egg noodles and a chocolate chocolate-chip and walnut cookie each for dessert.

That's it. Like "Sounds of the Season," a Christmas music channel I've heard about for years that only runs on cable. It plays a lot of songs I haven't heard in years, like "Donde Este Santa Claus," and blows all of SiriusXM's Christmas playlists out of the water.

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» Monday, November 17, 2014
Little Blue Riding Hood and the Rainy Day
So we slept the night away to the beating of rain on the roof, listening to it patter through unavoidable delay and turning over in bed. It was still gloomy and raining when we got up at 9:30, and colder than a witch's you-know-what when I took Tucker for his morning airing.

This morning we had breakfast at Trish's Place. The crowd was sparse, and we talked to Trish herself, an older lady who told us the restaurant is moving in February, a little closer to town, where she can run the place as she did here in Cosby, but get a salary. She'll also be doing catering for a Christian conference center. She sounds pleased with it. Good to know all this good food won't be going away. Anyway, I had a hugh bowl of oatmeal, toast, bacon, and baked apple with milk.

Since it was supposed to get colder as the day went on, we did some things with our eyes on the thermometer built into my car dashboard. To start out, we drove to Sevierville via our favorite back road so that we could go to the Tanger Outlet. I needed some things from the Hanes store, and also got a couple pair of fuzzy socks to wear when I telework (can't wear slippers; it makes sparks--I've killed at least one computer mouse and don't want to kill the computer proper). Checked at the Reebok store, but they didn't have classic black in my size; alas, will have to buy online. Also stopped at the Yankee Candle outlet and got more cafe au lait and christmas wreath tea candles. Picked up some cookies for dessert at the cookie store, and looked around the Disney Store.

Nipped over to Books-a-Million to have a hot cocoa and check out the magazines. Found a lovely "Crazy" (British cross-stitch magazine) with cute Christmas designs. I also found a new Doctor Who book, Inside the TARDIS: The Worlds of Doctor Who and Rudolph!, a very strange looking fantasy that starts out with Santa hacking into the Vatican's website. And, because James simply left me alone too long, I got the two Melody Carlson Christmas compilations that were on remainder.

Now we headed back to the cabin via "Glitter Gulch." Did find a parking space at The Incredible Christmas Place, but James stayed in the car, so I just did a half-hour of Christmas immersion. They had a live singer and there was the coolest Christmas tree with fiber optics making it turn into a rainbow. I wanted to see the new Department 56 Downtown Abbey building. It is huge; you would have to have a big table to put it on. It comes with a stone wall and gate with a Maggie Smith figure out front. There is also a gazebo with two figures.

I bought two car magnets and a gift for Nicki; they had the handsomest cashmere scarves and I bought a plaid one for James because his other wool scarf died an ignominous death in the dryer.

Stopped briefly at Dixie Darling, the cross-stitch store (too many beading kits!), and at Cracker Barrel to see the Christmas things, but only bought two adorable Pilgrim sparrows, and James bought me a light-up maple tree for my birthday which will go perfectly with the light-up turkey we bought there in 2009.

As we drove, the temps were still dropping; it was about 35 as we headed up the East Parkway and little ice pellets started appearing. We made one last stop, at a combo convenience store/deli to get a cigarette lighter so I could burn a candle tonight, and James found a lined hat.

By the time we pulled into the cabin five minutes later, the pellets were snowflakes.

James warmed up the soup while I took Tucker for his walk. It was that silent it gets before it snows, one where there's almost a faint ringing in the air, and we walked up the gravel road to the last cabin. I had barely registered that there was a road behind the cabins when in the failing light I saw a big canine shape, pricked ears, greyish, long-legged. It was standing staring at us, but, unlike a dog, it did not bark. In my dark blue hooded jacket, I wheeled Tucker around and booked it out of there just as animal began to lope. I suppose it could have been a dog, but it didn't lope like one, either.

Well, that was exciting.

Had hot chicken soup with oyster crackers for supper with a chocolate cookie dessert. We watched the news and the usual games (Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy) and an hour of TVLand before switching to tonight's Sleepy Hollow (looks like Tom Mison took the episode off) and finally Castle and Beckett "honeymooning" at a Western reinactment town. A bit lightweight, next week looks better.

Of course just as The Tonight Show was starting, Tucker needed to go out (yes, we were back in time to see Benedict Cumberbatch!). The car was covered with a light blanket of snow, and Tucker trotted through the white stuff preoccupied with the cabin lights in the distance. Or maybe he just still smells the coyote (wolf?) that we saw. Because of the snow, I didn't need a flashlight at all as I did last night: the snow on the ground glowed, as did the white-grey sky, and I could see the driveway and the trees and everything very clearly. We even went out to the gravel road and it was all distinct.

After I finished with Tucker, I just tossed my pash back on, went out, started the car. My dad used to do this with his cars on very cold nights, start them up again before bed. I cleared the glass on the car, but left a "blanket" on the hood to keep the engine a bit warmer. The windows are already frozen shut.

Well, we have food in the cabin; if we need to stay in tomorrow, so be it.

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» Sunday, November 16, 2014
Descent Into Rain
Sadly, the bed here is not as good as the one in the cabin last year ("Creek Fever," a couple of cabins down the dirt lane); the other was much firmer and had better pillows), but at least I didn't have to climb into it. I felt like Tenzig Norgay last year. This cabin doesn't have a drawer front falling off, a broken can opener, and other problems, and the hardwood floor in this one ("A Love Shack"--I know, that's so wet, as the Brits say) is fabulous. However, we were both so tired last night that we fell asleep not noticing there was a window in the loft bedroom. But the light woke us up! And, miraculously, we slept fairly well.

After Tucker had his walk, we started out to breakfast. Trish's Place isn't open on Sunday, so we dropped our registration papers off at the office and went to the Mountain Lodge, which was recommended to us. It was a good breakfast, but not as good as Trish's. Then we went through our favorite back route to Sevierville, full of farmhouses and cattle and little Baptist churches, marked with fading fall leaves but surprising bits of color, autumn decor on some homes, and a nice sense of peace, except when the crazy Tennessee drivers pass us. These people drive so quickly on these narrow roads!

We spent an hour at the Tennessee Aviation Museum, which was a refuge from the rain that had finally started in earnest. James bought a lovely Thunderbolt T-shirt and some Christmas ornaments as we exited.

Since the weather report is talking about ominous black ice on Tuesday, we stopped at Kroger for extra suppers and a lunch, and some peppermint cocoa from Starbucks. Then we had a late lunch/early supper at Mel's Diner. The food here is fabulous. I had mesquite beef bits with their onion rings (best onion rings ever) and applesauce. James had meatloaf.

From there we tried to stop at the Incredible Christmas Place, but the place was SRO because of the rain. As we walked around the smaller Christmas place, my back started giving me fits (it's been cramping since yesterday) and we just went on to do a quick recce of the Book Warehouse. My back gave out in earnest before we were even done and we had a scary ride up the East Parkway because the numbskull behind us had his brights on and it was reflecting off the fog drifting over the road; James was finding it hard to see with the glare in his eyes. I had my heart in my mouth several times despite him being a good driver.

Thankfully we got in safely and because everything on television is rubbish or stuff we'd already seen and James didn't want to listen to Sounds of the Seasons while we read, we have been listening to Cabin Pressure (the BBC radio series with Roger Allam and Benedict Cumberbatch) while drinking our hot chocolate. (The final episode of the series airs at Christmas! Must keep a lookout for it.)

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» Saturday, November 15, 2014
There's a Weight Off
Finally, finally got all that electric detrius out of the garage, some of it after three years. We can't seem to be around on Free Electronics Recycling Day. So all the fans are gone, and the old phones, computer leftovers, etc. We used the chair lift to get the old convection microwave there. When we were done we had breakfast at Chick-Fil-A.

Then we finished packing my car, loaded Tucker in the back seat, Snowy into his carry case, and we left for Gatlinburg.

This sounds so simple. It somehow took us two and a half hours (or more) to get to Chattanooga. Lunch and a bathroom break accounted for part of it, but we also had to stop because Tucker escaped from his travel harness...twice...and was trying to sit between us and give the gimlet eye to Snowy who got to ride up front. Oddly, we thought Snowy would have problems with this. He looked pretty wary as we set out, listening to the end of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," and the beginning of "Splendid Table" until WABE died. Once we put "The Tech Guy" on, Snowy happily burst into song, and he continued through two different episodes of "A Way With Words." Tucker kept whimpering from the back seat, especially as we crawled down the main Parkway during Saturday afternoon rush hour. We missed the office being open by ten minutes. However, our instructions were in the late arrivals box.

So about 5:30 we finally pulled before the cabin. This is in the same group as last year, but in the cabin closest to the road. Good thing it's going to be cold and we won't have to open the windows. We got Tucker in his crate and Snowy back into his cage in front of the television, then we went to grocery store to get provisions for the week. Maybe Kroger's rotisserie chicken would feed us for a week, but this scrawny one labeled "Mega Chicken" from Food City did not live up to its nomenclature. We ate the dark meat with instant Rice'a'Roni on the side, and had some brownies for dessert. Tucker wandered round and round the cabin looking confused, and went out twice to sniff around, and finally fell asleep on the back of James' armchair.

Snowy sang. He's quite a traveler.

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» Friday, November 14, 2014
Frantic Friday

Today's been just a three-ring circus.

We were awoken at 7:45 by the H.H. Gregg guys telling us the television would be delivered in 40 minutes. I got dressed and dusted; gawd, I did this last week and there are dust drifts again. The two guys came in, moved the old unit outside, plugged in the new unit and attached the DVD player, etc., gave us the paperwork, and were on their way. The remote fits in my hand! And it has a laser pointer to make selections. And the picture is gorgeous, but so was the old one (when it turned on) and I really, really didn't want to buy a new television right now.

We got it minimally set up for Snowy (he broke into song when it came on), walked Tucker, then went to Mobility Works to fetch pickup truck, lift, and chair. We were shown how to work the lift and the security bar, and then we were off for home. We didn't stay there long because while we were waiting for our rep, Scott, to get to us, I was giving poor Twilight the once over: he was grimy and forlorn looking. So I pulled  the grocery and insulated bags, "Fred the traveling pillow" and the blanket, the Bracketron, the Kleenex, the wastebasket, and all the other car junk out and James followed me to "Mr. Clean" because we had an idea to go to Lowe's to get a cover or a tarp for the chair (and then I could look at that Christmas tree again). (We ended up not going; we figured we could do it another time because we weren't planning to take the chair out much in the next week.) We did test using the lift and the chair at Golden Corral for lunch. The "joystick" is very nippy. Meanwhile, the food at Golden Corral gets saltier all the time.

So we got home and I had to put everything back into the car, and James got in the chair and took Tucker for a walk with it. Tucker actually wanted to ride, not to walk, so he got the chair inside, and thankfully all the garage rearranging I did on Veterans Day worked out because the truck fit nicely with the extra 20 inches of folded ramp on its butt. Meanwhile I took terrier-wit for more walkies.

We had a small supper and messed around with the television; it's like trying to fly Concorde. I did find out how to block out the channels we don't watch, and finally got the antenna in a good-enough position to see Doctor Who, which was the final two parts of "The Time Monster," the next-to-the-last story with Roger Delgado as the Master before his fatal car accident.

James gave the kitchen a scrub and I took Tucker out and now I'm falling asleep so will go off to my downy pillows..."feathers"!

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» Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Non-Veteran Affairs
Woke up when James' alarm went off and despaired of getting back to sleep as I was hot and restless—then woke up at eight o'clock. This being Tuesday, I still had laundry to do, which I would start after I took Tucker for his walk.

One teeny, tiny problem.

Our television is almost seven years old. We got it in the spring of 2008 after the switch or the power supply, whatever, died on the huge 40-inch tube job we'd moved from the old house (or, rather, the movers moved, because I wasn't having any of my friends getting a hernia helping move that thing; I swear it weighed 200 pounds—when the guys from H.H. Gregg delivered this television, they nearly popped a gut taking the big tube job away, and there's a dent still in the foyer floor caused by one of the guys losing his grip). Well, this television as well has been having trouble with the on/off switch since...August, I think it was. You'd switch it on and it would have to click twice to come on. Then it became four clicks. And ten. We started leaving it on at night, tuned to a blank channel. Once I forgot, and as I left the house to take Tucker for "walkies," it had gone through twenty clicks without starting up, but was finally on when we got back.

Last night after Castle, I was a dope and accidentally shut it off. Now if I'd noticed and turned it right back on, it would have come on; it only did the multiple click thing when it had to be started "cold." But I didn't and this morning when I turned it on, it clicked and clicked, and out Tucker and I went for twenty minutes, and it was still clicking when we returned. It was still clicking at ten o'clock, and eleven, and even after I unplugged it hoping it would "reboot" (or at least stop clicking) and re-plugged it in, it just clicked away—at noon, at one, at two...

In the meantime I replaced the light bulb in the laundry room (compact fluorescents supposed to last for ten years, eh? this one hardly made it to four and never was bright enough), did the laundry, had lunch, cleaned out the carry box and put a new toy into it, and made room in the garage since the truck will be longer with the chair lift on it. I hung several light items on the wall with tenpenny nails hammered into studs, tossed a bunch of trash away, put the ladder in a different place. I also pumped up the tires of my bicycle—hey, they're still okay!

While I was downstairs, Tucker swiped two stuffed turkeys I use for Thanksgiving decorations, demolished the head of one, and gouged the eye out of another. Thank God he didn't eat any of the eyes—he understands at least ten words, but his self-preservation level is zilch—and I tossed the decapitated turkey, was able to wash and put the missing eye back in the other, and he went to his crate to cool his little doggy heels.

After the clicking had gone on for six hours now, I thought, well, maybe I'll go to H.H. Gregg/Costco/whatever to look at televisions. I hadn't even reached the bedroom to change when the doorbell rang. Guess who! Yes, TruGreen. Where the !@#$!@#$! were you on Friday? Then I was going to take Tucker out when James arrived home; it was so slow that they were releasing everyone who got in early. So we went to H.H. Gregg and bought a TV. Not much different from the old one. It's "smart" but I didn't particularly care. The neat thing is that, because they are making the frames on them smaller, we could get a 50 inch screen vs. the old 46 inch and it was still the same width. The financing took twice as long as the actual looking around and picking out the television, and we did finance because it's 24 months same as cash and my credit card is frankly screaming with all the crap we've had to buy this year: the trailer hitch, the lift, the co-pay on the chair. It's like a freaking faucet.

You've guessed the payoff to this one, right? When we got home the television had finally come on. Screw it, I'm tired of paying higher power bills because the silly thing has to be on all night every night. But, dammit, couldn't we have waited until January?

We had turkey thighs and rice for supper, watched the last of the Shelter Dog specials and finally put a little Dave Allen At Large on.

And I had to give Tucker another rubber bone (good thing I bought two) because his new purple one has vanished. Today I looked for it everywhere. He only plays with it in the living/dining room, and I checked under everything, including under James' desk (found a rachet set, a Coke-spattered CD, and a Patrick O'Brien book) and the secretary (found the other ball), but it was not to be found, and he was just playing with it Monday night! I still haven't found the old rubber bone, which I even looked for under our bed, in our closet, and under the futon in the spare room. There's either a wormhole in our house or the dog's a fripping wizard.

This still doesn't explain what happened to my copy of The Happiness Project...


Someone died, someone was wounded, someone will never walk again, someone was separated from their family for over a year, someone came home feeling panicked and alone...someone sacrificed for all my freedoms, including the silliest, to give me a day clear to read a book, buy a gadget, spend extra hours with my husband. They served in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard. So many get up every morning and don't know what life will bring because of what Fate will deal them. Forget Nik Wallenda, daredevils, plucky adventurers, climbers of Everest and divers below. These are the real brave ones; they give up much to make a difference to us, the people they serve.

Happy Veterans Day.

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» Sunday, November 09, 2014
Why Doesn't 72 Hours Go By This Fast...

...when you're at work?

Slept fifteen minutes through the alarm on Friday, then didn't stop going all day. I had to stay home anyway because TruGreen was supposed to be here today, and they never give you a specific time. So there was a dog walk, and breakfast, and I spent the rest of the day doing a bit of dusting, putting up the Thanksgiving decorations, clearing off the dining room table, tidying, sweeping the stairs and the foyer and the downstairs hall, and writing out Thanksgiving cards (I tried to mail them, too, but for once the mailman came early). I finished reading Carola Dunn's The Bloody Tower, had another walk with Tucker, and was happy that James came home early (he worked overtime earlier in the week).

Oh, and TruGreen never showed up. Thanks a lot for nothing, guys.

We mounted James' new purchase, the strap-on bike rack, on the back of my car with a minimum of cussing (mostly me because the sun was, as always, in my eyes) before going out to dinner. It worked really well with the Rollator, although we will have to use independent straps instead of the built-in ones because they are built to fit a bike, not a walker. We decided to have supper at the West Cobb Diner and grinned when we realized the Spiveys were just arriving ahead of us. We all had dinner together along with Ken's mom and Mrs. Medina (the mother of Jesse who is married to Ken's sister Deb). Following that we went to Barnes & Noble with our coupons. James got the new 1632 book and I bought Dallas 1963.

Since I was imprisoned by TruGreen on my day off, I decided to go out a little when James worked yesterday. I went to the Farmer's Market to get James some chicken salad and Tucker some dog biscuits. I didn't even bother trying to park out front on Cobb Parkway; just left the car in the public lot behind Johnnie McCracken's Irish pub. This was actually a good thing because they had the market in front of the old courthouse again this week and it was a shorter walk. I scored the dog biscuits (they have corporate sponsorship now: new bags and correspondingly higher prices) and two bacon, cheddar and chive scones for dinner tonight, but the place that makes the chicken salad lost their lease and they have to find somewhere else that has a USDA-approved kitchen before they can make it again. :-(

I mailed the Thanksgiving cards, then drove to the antique mall that's on Cobb Parkway, across the street from the Big Chicken. I love to go to antique stores before Christmas, when they scatter garlands and ornaments and old decorations among the booths to give it a festive look. There was a big lighted tree at the entranceway, and they were collecting toys for Egleston Children's Hospital. I hadn't had breakfast except for a couple of samples at the Farmer's Market, so was happy to nab a couple of free ginger cookies while I walked through the aisles of different booths. Found several dealers who had some Happy Hollister books, but didn't buy them, and enjoyed all the vintage goodies, including a tall Edison phonograph with two levels of storage for records below, an old Underwood and 1940s Smith Corona typewriters as well as an IBM Selectric II (yeah, sad: Selectrics are now antiques), 1950s metal kitchen tables with formica tops, old plows, seeders, a nice Hoosier cabinet despite the warped bottom door, old electric organs, vintage furniture, and even an old Bakelite Viewmaster like I had as a kid, plus lots and lots of china tchotchkes.

I was pretty peckish by the time I left, but I really didn't want to eat lunch out. What I did want to do was find something for supper tonight. I thought some of Publix's chicken and wild rice soup would go great with it. Yep, of course they didn't have any. At the first one I got some French bread for my sandwiches this week, paper towels, and donated $10 worth of food to the can bank and got another reusable shopping bag with the Pilgrims on it. I took the food home and then went to Costco, where I noshed on some samples, bought milk, a copy of Planes: Fire and Rescue for James, some crackers and some lobster spread, and what I really, really needed: omeprazole. With the milk in the back I now had to work fast, so I was happy to see there were not long lines at the gas station, where it was $2.75. Of course by the time I made my way around to the line, eight other cars had gotten in ahead of me. Thank goodness it didn't take so long.

The second Publix just had chicken noodle soup, and I gave up and bought it, then came home, put everything up, and watched Love Actually, which I'd heard a lot about. I could have lived without Kris Marshall's storyline of the young guy who just wanted to get laid, but was totally charmed by both Colin Firth's and Liam Neeson's storylines, and got a good giggle out of Martin Freeman's part of the story.

I was supposed to be warming up supper when Tucker abruptly decided he needed to go out, but supper was done pretty quickly by the time James got in. I had more noodles, chicken, and veggies than soup, so I thinned it with vegetable broth, added a little white wine and ginger, and warmed it up slowly. With the scones on the side, it was a nice treat. James needed it because they ran the air conditioning so high all day he was freezing.

And then it was time for the season finale of Doctor Who. I'm still waiting for a dangerous version of the Master rather than the full-crazy version they have had lately, and I wish they hadn't killed off Osgood, but...Kate! Danny! And that coda with the Brigadier! I'm still not satisfied with the stories they are giving him—my favorite this season was "Flatline" because I've been watching the old series on RetroTV and this was the closest I've seen to a classic episode in ages—but I absolutely love Peter Capaldi in the role and I wish they'd give him more to do; why is the companion always the salvation lately? I liked Matt Smith but his Doctor was getting too wired and the stories were like puzzle pieces. Can't we just have a simple straightforward adventure any longer?

Slept in this morning, and then it was rush, rush, rush all afternoon. First was the weekly run to Kroger. I needed yogurt. We ended up with a scooter cart basket full of all sorts of things, including sale meat, burritos, and popcorn. James forgot and left the newspaper on the "trunk" in the bed of the truck and we almost got it home, but it fell in the street when we turned onto Gray Road. Luckily it didn't scatter much and I was able to collect it. With the groceries put up, we went out to celebrate our anniversary one day early by having dinner at Longhorn. We shared a plate of ribs and had the shrimp and lobster dip appetizer. Between those two things, we were too full for dessert. James bought me a pretty sweatshirt at the Apple Festival and has something on order for me, but I was able to give him his gifts: the Planes DVD, of course; a gift for us both, all 44 of the Dave Allen shows that were broadcast here in the United States; and something he's been looking for for years, a copy of the series Our World with Linda Ellerbee and Ray Gandolf.

From there we went to Hallmark to use some coupons. Got a couple of ornaments and two additional Thanksgiving cards. We also stopped at Petsmart to get a few things for Tucker. Couldn't find what I needed to get for Snowy, though. Best part of this trip was the nice ride through Lower Roswell Road out to Merchant's Walk.

With only a little daylight left, we decided to take Tucker and Snowy out to the other Petsmart at the East-West Connector. I'm still getting Snowy used to the carry box and he is wide-eyed and a little nervous, but he did burble to his mirror quite a lot. Petsmart flat awed him: all the colors and the sounds. The one thing he didn't do was chirp back to the budgies! Maybe he thought they were television.

I was so filled up from lunch I didn't eat until eight, and then only a bowl of cereal. We watched Friday's Hawaii Five-0 (look, how many times are we going to see one of the team be tortured? it's really gross) and yesterday's This Old House, and the tribute to Robin Williams that PBS ran last night, and then missed the first seven minutes of Alaska: The Last Frontier because, while the DVD had it programmed into the schedule last night, it was completely gone from the programming today. Got to call Dish; half our music channels haven't worked since last Christmas, and last Saturday the signal dropped out on Doctor Who in the middle of recording. Both the DVR and the dish itself are slowly dying.

Oh, and we are dropping James' SiriusXM subscription. He hardly listens to it anymore, and when he does, it's always the same few songs. Tired to death of "Me and Bobby McGee."

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» Monday, November 03, 2014
Class Time
Another two years, another Appropriations Law refresher. I wouldn't mind so much except for the fluorescent lights. The instructor is quite nice; used to be an Air Force JAG and he watches Sleepy Hollow. Lived in Warner Robins, which seems to be epidemic among people in Georgia. The real downside is that the building the course is at is at Abernathy Road (near Perimeter Mall). I used to avoid this place when I first moved to Atlanta in 1988; it's only grown worse since then. The traffic is always abominable. However, the instructor is going to let us eat lunch at our desks while he's teaching so he can then let us out early, which will help a lot.

There's also free wifi, so that's why I'm here.



» Sunday, November 02, 2014
Almost Perfect

So James had to go off to work this morning. I wanted to get eight hours sleep, but my body decided that a bathroom break was more important. Gee, thanks. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up instead, muttering imprecations against body parts, and did my Sunday chores (putting the towels in the hamper, sorting my pills for the week, getting my clothes ready for work; I would put things up in my bag later, after I finished my chores). Then I had breakfast first before walking Tucker, because by then my stomach hurt from being hungry. It wasn't as blustery as yesterday, but the cold air still felt great.

Then it was time for the grocery store run. I wanted to rinse off the front porch first so I could put the Thanksgiving things up on a clean area; there was still pine pollen encrusting the glass table, but we had never turned the faucet on outside when spring came. So I had to find a stepstool, take it out in the garage, move things in the closet, then climb up to turn on the water (James can just reach it on his tiptoes), swill off the porch, and then do everything in reverse before I could put up the Thanksgiving wreath and flag, and replace the American flag. Then I could go to Kroger. Got gasoline, then went inside for the usuals—those damn bananas, milk, yogurt that was thankfully there, onions, mushrooms, a sale steak for dinner tomorrow, a few other things. They did not have another Hartz rubber bone, and Tucker's is torn. Hmn.

I put the perishables in the insulated bag. I had checked my coupons and found I had four BreatheRight coupons expiring on Tuesday. BreatheRights are about $12 at Kroger; I knew they were only $10 at Walmart. So I drove down to the one on Powder Springs and the Connector and bought them there, plus a little fox-shaped bowl that's part of their fall line which was on sale. I had a second reason for wanting to go: I'm still Christmas-tree hunting. Predictably, the Walmart trees were cheap. I'll pass.

Then I worked my way down the connector. Bought Tucker another bag of dog food and a new antler to chew on at Petsmart. Bought padded envelopes at Office Max. And then, weary by then, stopped at Lowe's to look at their Christmas tree. That's when It happened. I found the perfect tree. It's pre-lit, six and a half feet tall, and has these realistic-looking branches like those of a spruce tree (it has the other kind, too, but just as filler), and it's not that expensive, just over $100. We paid nearly $200 for the other tree, after Christmas, and I never liked it.

There's only one problem: it has white lights. I don't like white lights. I've always had a multicolor tree. But this is such a nice tree...


Brought the groceries home and put them up, and, then, because I'm a sap, went to an abominably crowded Smyrna Kroger (by now it was 1 p.m. and the place looked like Times Square six hours before midnight on New Year's Eve) just to buy Tucker a new rubber bone. I was passing the frozen dinners and picked up a Lean Cuisine sesame chicken for a lunch. I should have stuck with an Annie Chung noodle dinner: the chicken, in "nuggets," was mealy and disgusting, and the sauce came up on me the rest of the afternoon. I finished recording The Roosevelts (with an annoying interruption from a bad DVD-R) and cleaned the stairs and took Tucker off for another walk, where he appeared to finally make friends with the little Peke-type dog down the street. Snowy chattered happily behind us, uttering "Good bird!" repeatedly.

Soup for supper, yesterday's This Old House and tonight's Alaska, the Last Frontier for entertainment. I had to take Tucker's blankets out and shake them before we put out the trash: his crate is full of shredded paper!

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Linda and James and the Chilly, Cloudy, Memorably Wonderful Day

We spent last night quietly, thank God. I left work an hour early and traffic was as bad at 2:30 p.m. as it usually is at 3:30. Amazing the way a kids' holiday can muck up adult matters. Even Spring Road was a mess.

Stopped at Publix on the way home with the idea of picking up some supper for the both of us so we wouldn't have to go out. I got James some chili and myself some chicken noodle soup. When I got home I took all the things off the porch, as well as the flags because of the strong winds predicted for tomorrow, then waited until as late as possible to take Tucker outside. When I got back James had called; he was already at Firehouse Subs picking up some supper. GMTA! We ate the sandwiches and left the soup until Sunday, and watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and For Better or For Worse: The Good-for-Nothing, and then the usual Doctor Who on RetroTV. Even though we had our lights out, we had two doorbell rings, including one way after the time I would have shut the lights off anyway. They banged on the door, too, and we could hear the voices of the kids outside; it was "the big horses" as my mom used to call the teenagers who came around after the little kids had gotten their candy.

The temperature was dropping like a rock and with the fan pulling that nice cool air, we slept like a couple of rocks, too. I'd had to turn the heat on because it was already 65 in the house at bedtime, not that I would have cared, but I was worried about Snowy. I finally woke up about 8:15 to find it cloudy, the wind tossing the trees behind the house like a dog shakes a toy. I tried to go back to bed, but was cold, it was windy...why wouldn't I want to be out in it? It was a Jo March type of day, not letting any chill stop you from having fun.

So out Tucker and I went. I felt the sting of something cold on my cheeks, but never actually saw any snowflakes. Found out later that there was snow up north, in varying degrees: a frosting up in North Georgia, but more snow over the Tennessee line in the Smokies, but for now we had a lovely brisk walk. The cold air felt so good to breathe! In the summer it's so hard to draw a breath.

We ate a quick breakfast, then cleaned out the car so we could put the rear seats forward to put James' Rollator inside along with the two boxes of books and DVDs we were taking to McKay's in Chattanooga. After getting gasoline we were on our way. Did our own leaf-peeping; although the colors aren't as strong down here, we did see a beautiful little clearing that was full of vivid scarlet and orange, along with a few distinctive trees. We listened to a "Splendid Table" and then most of "A Way With Words," and I had to fight the wind to keep the car on the road, as we are having gusts up to 40 mph. Every so often little wet pinpricks would appear on the windshield, and both of us swore we saw occasional snowflakes. The temperature was only about 41 at that point; if there was snow it melted as soon as it had contact with the window.

We reached McKay's about 12:30, turned in the boxes, and went about browsing. When I went back to pick up my trade in, they gave me nearly a full box of books back, but I still had $136 in credit! Those DVDs really added up. I'll take the rest of the books to 2nd and Charles, and what they don't want, I'll take to Goodwill. I paid for James' books as well as my own, and I still have $86 left of credit. Got three "Dear America" books (Tory girl, English girl in the West, and German girl immigrating to the US after Kristallnacht), one "Dear Canada" book, a William Safire English usage book, another linguistics book called Blooming English, a "Reminisce" compilation book called From Flappers to Flivvers, and, most wonderful, a "Reader's Digest" book called Yesterday's Britain. I also go the DVD Holidaze for $2. James got an F-15 book, some science fiction paperbacks, a book about extreme weather, and another about pilot stories.

I did only a cursory examination of history, nature, and science, since we were so hungry; I didn't even go upstairs to check out for Christmas CDs, but I guess I have enough. :-)

We found a place to eat very close to McKay's, the City Cafe Diner. All I can say The portions were enormous; we both had open-face sandwiches, me roast beef and James meat loaf. We both took half of it home. We also had a cup of their chicken soup, which was savory and delicious and came with a bonus: nostalgia! When the waitress served it, it brought back so many memories! Instead of rice or just some sort of noodle in it, they had broken up spaghetti and used that for the noodles, just like my mom and my aunts used to do! We also got some onion rings as an appetizer: excellent! Plus we took home a big slice of "chocolate decadence" cake for dessert. The service was prompt and friendly as well.

Finally we drove over to the Hamilton Mall Barnes & Noble, nearly getting sideswiped by an idiot in a van in the process. I don't know why everyone else's Barnes & Nobles are better than any of the ones in Atlanta, except perhaps the Buckhead store—this place is huge, and there's a fantastic variety of books, with the magazine racks so crowded you can barely get them in and out. James got a lovely book of military aircraft paintings, many that look like photographs, with his remaining 20 percent off coupon, and I used my two on Jerry Ellis' Walking to Canterbury (he walks the route that the pilgrims used to take to Canterbury, as in The Canterbury Tales) and the new Christmas book Inventing Scrooge, plus the magazine "Christmas Cottage."

We left there just in time to get home before dark, listening to the rest of the first episode of "A Way With Words" and then a second episode as well. Took Tucker out for another walk and then just killed time until Doctor Who, in which the mysterious Missy was revealed (and yes, it was exactly who I thought it was, but I would have preferred the Radio Times not spoil it on Facebook, thank-you-very-much). So they created Danny just to kill him? Really?

Later on watched The Night That Panicked America (television movie from 1975 with Paul Shenar as Orson Welles). Lots of familiar faces in the film: Michael Constantine, John Ritter, Vic Morrow, and Casey Kasem. Following that I put on a Studio One production hosted by Edward R. Murrow, called "The Night America Trembled."

Sadly, poor Tucker ended the night literally "in the doghouse." He bounced around so much that my little stuffed cow that I have had for years that sits on the console...sigh...sat on the console...fell off. He tore off its eyes and chewed it up pretty badly.

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