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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» Wednesday, December 31, 2014
And So It Ends as It Began
So, James got home early both days this week. You'd figure he'd be home even earlier New Year's Eve, right?

Nope. He worked all day, which is good for our pocketbooks, but I'm sure he could have used a nap before the party.

Me, I walked the dog, scrubbed the master bath, made the bed, tidied up more, finished re-reading The House Without a Christmas Tree, and finally settled down to listen to Christmas music and read The Cottage Holiday. I also had the BBC's production of Master and Commander on in the background. About three I started watching The Nine Tailors, because the mystery proper starts on New Year's Eve when the church in the village of Fenchurch St. Paul is going for a marathon bell ring. (British Anglican churches do a complex mathematical thing called "change ringing"; I don't understand it, but I do remember the names of all the bells in the ring in this story: John, Jericho, Jubilee, Gaude, Dimity, Saboath, Batty Thomas, and Tailor Paul.)

I ran out to Kroger at one point; we were going to bring chips and dip to Bill's party, but they said they already had that. I got some cheese and some summer sausage instead, and sliced it up, and bought some crackers to go with the cheese ball we bought at the Chicken Salad Chick. I bought some potato soup as well, since we wouldn't eat until after nine; when James came home, I warmed it up with extra bacon bits and chives in it, and a little butter, and to James I added about a handful of chopped-up summer sausage I held back.

We left about eight fifteen, which should have put us at Bill and Caran's house at nine, but there was a whopper of a car accident on I-285 eastbound—five lanes blocked! We left the detour to the GPS, and we still can't figure out why it didn't take us all the way through on Chamblee-Tucker Road, since we crossed it at least three times. We were so close to work I could have spit and hit it. Eventually we ended up on the route we usually take home, through LaVista and Brockett. (Everyone else had to do the same thing. Several people were delayed by the traffic jam.)

Nice party, not as much of a crowd as other years, but still fun. Sat around and talked to Alice and Ken and whomever wandered into the hardback library (the paperback library is in a different room). Stepped into the dining room occasionally to get a bit of this and that. Alice brought a barbecue chicken and yellow rice that she cooked in her new pressure cooker which was delicious. The cheese and summer sausage disappeared. Alex's little pastries were great; I had the pumpkin creme brulee ones. Yum! Had a chicken wing, some chips, most of the Special Dark miniatures in the bowl, two of Lin's piecrust rolls, and lots of Alice's dish. Tried the sangria, but it needed more fruit juice; it still tasted too much like wine. :-)

And's time for the Happy New Year, Snowy. A chorus of "Happy New Year," the clink of glasses, and 2014 is history.

Bye, Willow. We miss you...

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» Tuesday, December 30, 2014
A Proper Tuesday

I've finally had the day I've wanted since before Christmas! I had two nice walks with the dog, and did little chores and all the laundry between reading favorite Christmas books and listening to BBC4X—Adrian Mole at Christmas, the Ladies of Letters, and a series about the history of home life in Britain, not to mention a program about the Wise Men and another about the craftsmen in Italy who make creches.

James came home in the afternoon and went down to the Man Cave for a while. We had steak and potatoes for supper and later I put on Little Women (with Winona Ryder). The scenery is so lovely in this, and I love the score.

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» Monday, December 29, 2014
Bargain Day
I decided that it was about time I got up and started hunting for after Christmas deals, but I wasn't going to rush, either. Tucker had a good walk and I had a good breakfast, and I started doing some tidying for the party. I was also hoping James might get out early, but when he wasn't home by noon, I just jumped in the car and headed for the Avenue at West Cobb. On the way I stopped at CVS, but they were completely out of decorations; I usually buy enough tinsel there or at Walgreen's to replace what I put on the tree, but I was out the gate too late this year. Still stopped by Walgreens to see if they had any worthwhile Christmas things left. I got some Russell Stover dark-chocolate gingerbread Santas for a few extra desserts, but there was nothing else. While I was in the store James called and said he was on his way home, and I wasn't but a couple of miles from home, so I went back to pick him up.

The place was literally wall-to-wall, but we managed to find a parking space right in front of Yankee Candle. They are having a great sale, so I picked up a gift there, and also some "Christmas tree" and "gingerbread" tea lights at half price. James waited in the car until I was done there, and then we drove down to circle a bit until we found a space sort of near Barnes & Noble. He limped gamely in behind me and I found an absolutely perfect gift for someone there, and a couple of other things, plus the new "ReMind."

Then we walked very slowly down to the Hallmark store, since the car was closer to it than it was to the bookstore, and he sat down on a bench while I went inside. I have some credit there and walked out with a lovely gift which cost me something like fifty cents. And I still have more credit left which is good through April, so I can pick up something else nice before then.

We did drive down to the end of the row to stop at Kirkland's, which was having their usual after-Christmas sale, but, alas, I didn't have the luck there as I did last year.

And then it was home for supper.

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» Sunday, December 28, 2014
Will the Last Person Out of Atlanta...

...please shut off the lights?

Seriously! We went down to Warner Robins today and you might have thought it was a weekend before Christmas. It took us nearly three hours to make the 100 minute trip. Of course, it seemed like we were sharing the road with that half of the country (plus one car from Ontario) who was driving down to the House of Mouse! SUVs, campers, small cars, big cars, cars carrying bicycles... Maybe there were people returning things at the outlet mall and the shopping centers, or shopping with gift cards, too. What a fat pain in the neck! Thank God for downloaded podcasts! We listened to a Rick Steves Christmas program and an episode of "The Splendid Table."

Thankfully spent a nice afternoon relaxing with Mom and Candy. Did presents and had spaghetti and meatballs for lunch.

The ride home was much quicker, with a Rick Steves New Year program—you should wear red underwear for good luck, say the Sicilians—and another "Splendid Table." Came home exhausted and just wanted to sleep, but there was this poor dog who'd been locked up all day.

We'll pay you back, Tucker.

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» Saturday, December 27, 2014
A Rude Interruption

We would have liked to have gone to the Farmer's Market this morning, but they are closed through the 10th. Instead we had breakfast and listened to Snowy sing along to This Old House. My back was giving me fits. It wasn't just hurting, it was cramping up, which made it exceedingly hard to get dressed, and James ended up taking Tucker out this morning. I sat myself on the sofa with the courderoy "husband" for suppert, and it was reasonably unkinked by the time we picked up Alice's birthday gift from under the tree, got in the truck, and headed for Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint at Aker's Mill shopping center.

There is a double left turn at Aker's Mill and we were just starting through the turn when we heard a horn, a screech, and a bang, and the truck was shoved sideways and our necks snapped back. James and I looked back and there was something round and black was in the middle of the road, and there was a red coupe sitting in the lefthand turn lane with its front bumper pulled off. We pulled up to the curb on Aker's Mill in fear that someone had been hurt or the lift had been damaged, but there was just an inconsequential dent in the rear panel between the rear left wheel and the bumper. The bumper was fine and the lift wasn't touched. Mel Boros had pulled up ahead of us, having been several cars behind us and seen the truck parked at the side of the road. I called 911 and they told us to pull over somewhere, so we pulled over into the Bank of America parking lot and soon the lady with the red car followed along with the police. The policeman looked at the accident site and said the skid marks showed that James had probably been a little over the line when he turned. It didn't seem that he made that sharp a turn, but that is a bad corner. I'm not at all sure how she hit us, though. James said he did not see anyone on his left when he started through the intersection.

So we got to Alice's party a bit late and I was shaking all over and sick to my stomach by the time we got there. Both Aubrey and Jessie came over to give me a hug and I frankly started to cry; they are such sweet young ladies! Needless to say, although I ate the pizza because I was hungry, I didn't really taste it all that well and it made me sick later on.

Everything broke up about 3:30 and we drove up to Town Center to the "Chicken Salad Chick" store, which is next to Ippolito's Restaurant (next to where Michael's used to be). Stu at Cuisine on the Run, James' go-to chicken salad place, had recommended them. He got their standard chicken salad and one with apples and grapes in it, and I got one that sounded close to Trader Joe's old "gourmet chicken salad" that I used to love. We also bought a cheese ball for Bill and Caran's party.

We stopped at Barnes & Noble for a few minutes and I was able to make a start on next year's shopping. I also got a calendar for the spare room at half price.

On the way home we realized we couldn't go shopping as usual on Sunday because we were going down to James' mom's tomorrow, so, however reluctantly, we stopped at Kroger. But this meant we could get the bread and garlic spread we needed for tomorrow, as well as a dessert. We got a chocolate pudding cake.

Later chatted a bit with Mike, Jen and Emma online, but I was still feeling shaken up.

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» Friday, December 26, 2014
Rest First, Play Later
I was feeling a little under the weather this morning and wanted to make sure I was in good shape for our Boxing Day gift exchange tonight. So while I did a few chores, including washing the sheets and blankets, I pretty much swigged some ibuprofin and watched Christmas stories, starting with Rankin-Bass'  The Little Drummer Boy, which I love not only for its story, but the beautiful song "One Star in the Night" sung by the Vienna Boys Choir. I had just started the compilation of Tennessee Ernie Ford's Ford Show Family Christmas when Snowy burst out into song. Nor was the little guy wrong: James walked in the door too late to see Lee Aaker and Rin Tin Tin, but soon enough to see Jon Provost and Lassie (Jon tells Ernie he is running away from home because his parents didn't get him what he wanted for Christmas: a 12-gauge shotgun and a baby sister).

James rustled himself up some lunch while I went on to Christmas Around the World With Perry Como. Amused at the bickering on Amazon about the picture—1970s, guys, and probably not master tapes; did you think the network kept them?—and that the shows were shot in the autumn (what, you expected them to film at Christmas and interrupt the festivities?) and that Perry repeats too many songs (which is rubbish, because all he repeats is "Ave Maria," and that was always his Christmas signature tune).

Finally to a favorite, the Little House on the Prairie take on O. Henry, "Christmas at Plum Creek," and finally the unusual PBS special, Simple Gifts before getting dressed, packing up the gifts and our food contributions, and heading over to the Lawsons.

It was a great time. We got to see the new travel trailer, just a small one, but wonderfully compact and comfy, and had pizza for supper along with chips, cheese and crackers, brownie bites and other goodies. Alice, Juanita, Jessie and Aubrey did try playing an "Ender's Game" strategy game, but mostly we talked and exchanged presents. I think my personalized shepherd's hook bookmarks and Aubrey's Doctor Who-themed book thong were a hit. John liked the black plaid shirt.

By the time we arrived home, it was almost bedtime, which disappointed Tucker muchly!

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» Thursday, December 25, 2014
Merry Christmas!

You know you're old when your best Christmas gift is sleeping late! We sure didn't do this when we were children.

We just had a regular breakfast—I'd forgotten completely that I bought some clotted cream for toast or something else special—to the Yule Log that was running on one of the channels. We opened our gifts to the music. I'd gotten James a nice stack of books, all to do with the Navy or Naval aviation, an airplane decoration for his wall, and a shepherd's crook bookmark. I had the new Rick Steves' shows and one about the Holy Land, plus a travel pouch and sewing kit, an adjustable light to use for cross-stitching, Christmas robin coasters, and a "Make Way for Ducklings" pin. We also had cookies from Emma, a Bahrain-made box with an audio copy of Code Name Verity on it from Jen, a Bing Crosby and space DVDs from Rodney, and copies of autographed Remember WENN scripts from Mike.

We had light lunches—mine was just broth and crackers—to keep room for the Butlers' repast, and suddenly had to hurry to get ready to go over the house. We drove through a nearly silent world, all the stores being closed. Today it was finally a beautiful day, bright blue sky and even brighter sun. We arrived at the Butlers to find things in full swing and almost everyone there. I put out the cheese and crackers I'd brought, and we put aside the corn casserole and rice, heated and swathed in insulated bags and towels, to keep until supper. And then it was on to talking until suppertime, which was Cajun turkey, ham, beef tenderloin and pot roast, with sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, the rice, and the corn. Dessert was pies: Dutch apple, turtle pumpkin, pumpkin, blueberry and cherry. What a feast! What friends! The gift exchange just topped off a wonderful afternoon and early evening.

We arrived home after nine; the Doctor Who Christmas special was on, but I put it on hold because I was feeling a bit under the weather. Instead I put on NBC's Christmas reruns and we spent the evening quietly.

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» Wednesday, December 24, 2014
The Long Coast Until Christmas
All that preparation, and it all leads up to this: the day before Christmas! All the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. How quickly it's all gone by! It seems like yesterday we got back from vacation and were getting ready for Thanksgiving!

It was the usual at first this morning: get up, walk the dog, eat breakfast. It was still gloomy out, but not cold at all, as the cold front wasn't expected till this afternoon. I spent the morning working with some old Christmas photographs to post on Facebook, including two from my first Christmas, when I was only two weeks old. I had BBC4X and was listening to Christmas radio shows, one about stars, David Sedaris' "The Santaland Diaries," and the first part of the very last episode of Cabin Pressure.

About 12:42 Snowy burst out singing, and not much later James arrived home. He seems to have a time sense the way Frisky did when I was a kid; he'd always start singing at 3:30 when my dad left work and then put his head under his wing and fall asleep when he arrived. It was as if his job was finished and he could relax! Dad always wondered why the bird was always asleep when he got home! If Frisky didn't sing, invariable Daddy would call to say he was working late. Mom would say "I know, the bird isn't singing."

We watched Mercy Mission: The Rescue of Flight 771 as our late afternoon offering. I think this is James' favorite Christmas film, along with Mickey's Christmas Carol. An American pilot flying a small plane to New Zealand is lost when his navigation equipment fouls up and a New Zealand airliner piloted by an American expatriate is the only one who can help him. Considering the stars spend three-quarters of the film stuck in a cockpit, this is amazingly suspenseful, and after years of viewing we still cheer at the end.

I also watched The Night Before Christmas, an animated story about how "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was written, but didn't have time for The Little Drummer Boy because we went out to look at lights. We did some neighborhood lights first, including that development on Old Concord Road where all the homes have double glass doors as front doors. One house is very striking, with white lights and a red spotlight on the front. Then we drove on to see "The Lights of Life" at Life University. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper until you got to the place where you had to pay (alas, no longer free!), and then the rest of the drive was fine. Santa and his team were taking off in their usual place over the playing field, "Santa's Flying School" was up on the main hill surrounded by Christmas trees of all colors, and they had the religious iconography (a nativity, a Menorah, and Noah's Ark) in an alcove in the rear. The sea serpent swam in the pond and near the apartments Victorian couples celebrated with a kiss and bears snowballed each other and penguins cavorted before igloos. Then we came back by way of Spring Road and the Park View community before returning home and I put on The Homecoming: A Christmas Story as always.

Later NBC played Midnight Mass from the Vatican, but Channel 11 cut off the Pope smack in the middle of preparing Communion for yet another replay of the Spellman-Morehouse College concert. And a Merry Christmas to you, too! Besides, it was bedtime anyway.

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Happy Day Before Christmas...
...since technically it's not Christmas Eve till it gets dark.

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» Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The Young Family Cookie Caper
This was it. It was bake cookies today or bust.

Another grey day, damp, clammy, chilly. Tucker did all his good dogs, and then I promptly crated him again, since I had made sure I had wine, but not made sure I had enough flour. Since James was also planning to bake some sugar-free cookies, this was a must, and he also needed butter. This necessitated a short trip to Food Depot.

I'd set up all the other things, except the baking board, before I left, so it wasn't long before I was mixing and kneading dough for the wine biscuits. The new wine is just perfect; the dough is very purple, so purple that they looked like dark chocolate under low light. James came home just as I was starting the second batch (they let him out at eleven thirty—they wanted him to go at nine!), and I broke the cardinal rule of any sort of cooking or baking: I started chatting to him about his cookies and did not pay attention to what I was doing. I think I missed the final cup of flour, because when I put the wine in, the dough turned uber-sticky. So both James and I took some turns shoveling flour in until the dough was firm. It was smoother than usual (the cookies look like store-bought wine biscuits, except for the purple dye the supermarkets usually put in), and you can really tell the second batch from the first, but they both taste okay.

James baked for the rest of the afternoon, using a basic peanut butter cookie recipe from one of his diabetic cookbooks. He made the peanut butter cookies with crunchy peanut butter, then made almond cookies with slivered almonds and almond butter, and finally cashew cookies with cashew butter and cashew nuts. By the time he was done it was supper time. He scrounged out of the fridge and I had some vegetarian vegetable soup, which was a relief, since I'd eaten nothing since breakfast except for a slice of bread and butter and three of the cookies I'd baked.

Oh, I also washed three loads of clothes and changed the bed. :-)

We'd been listening to Christmas music all day, but about four I turned that off and watched Christmas Unwrapped, hosted by Harry Smith, and the British special, Christmas Past, before putting the news and Jeopardy on. For the evening I put on John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (something I don't understand why it's not on legit DVD, as so many people have asked for it!) and the Hill Street Blues episode "Santa Claustrophobia," with killers loose on the Hill, Washington still suffering from remorse after having killed an innocent man, Bobby Hill's displeasure at having his deadbeat dad show up again, a sullen teen aborting Belker's stakeout, and the staff appearing at a Christmas show at a children's hospital.

In the meantime, the rain has arrived, pounding on the chimney and accompanies by occasional rumbles of thunder. Hope it tapers off soon.

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» Monday, December 22, 2014
"...and Go Down-town..."
"...Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares..."

When I was little I used to sing this song pretending it was about Providence, because the lights truly were much brighter there: the Outlet Company, Shepards, Grants, Woolworths, Newberrys, Kresges, the Paperback Bookstore, Read-All, Richley's Card Shop, Pier Linen, even stinky old Cherry & Webb and Gladdings with their everlasting aisles of boring clothes, and, at Christmas, strings of lights strung across the streets and colorful displays in the windows. Now I have one chance to go downtown before Christmas and I decided to take it today—yes, cookie-making abandoned once more—because it's supposed to rain pitchforks and little fishes for the next two days.

It was grey, damp, clammy, and chilly when I took Tucker out for his walk. The birds didn't even want to come to the feeders, so there was nothing to watch as I ate breakfast. I finally left home about 10:30, which was later than I wished, but I didn't have any problem: someone was pulling out of a parking space right on the Square. I only had two hours (parking's only free for two hours), so I set my phone alarm and started to walk.

I began at DuPre's, which at one time was a hardware, feed and grain, and general store until the early 1980s (we remember someone on the Square telling us that as a boy he still recalled the farmers parking their wagons on the square, until "old man DuPre told them to knock it off"). It still has the original wide wood-plank floors, and near one doorway they still have a collection of old waybills and ads. Part of the building is now an "Art Center" where artists sell their wares, but most of it is an antique store. I love to go there at Christmas because they have pulled out all the antique Christmas decorations to the front and put other decorations dotted here and there in the booths: reproduction belsnickles, glass ornaments in bowls, tarnished garlands, feather trees with bead garlands, angels, and simplest and almost prettiest, a little hurricane lamp with clear chimney and rose glass bottom surrounded by a little wreath at its base and around the chimney. I bought an old Scholastic mystery story about a girl who lives on the Cape Cod coast.

Once I finished there, I walked up to the Australian Bakery Cafe, frankly to buy something to use the bathroom. The place smelled of coffee and spices, and I spied fresh-baked gingerbread men. So I ordered two, and also bought something else as a special surprise for someone. Then I tramped out into the mist, on to The Local Exchange, which (surprise!) sells products from local craftspeople. In the rear I found a small selection of books, including one that I bought from a Georgia author. It's called Treason! Treason! and opens in a United States that never broken from the British empire; a professor and his daughter go back in time to correct the sequence of events.

I stopped briefly at Antiques on the Square, but as they are half an audiophile/old record store now, it's not as interesting, and they never decorate for Christmas. I did get a photo of Luke the standard poodle surrounded by customers selling off old records. He investigates every person who comes in the store with an air of quiet dignity.

Next I crossed the street and walked across the Square, every path which is lined with luminarias. In one corner parents and children waited in line at the little cabin where Santa Claus was holding court. I took photos of the Christmas tree, and the stage and gazebo all swagged with green roping and red ribbon.

Finally I strolled up to the Christmas shop and wandered through, admiring the ornaments, and then down the street and across Church Street to spend a few minutes in The Keeping Room, which smells of herbs and dip mixes and coffee and all the other packaged goodies they sell along with aprons, dishtowels, and other homey gadgets, and then lastly walked down Church Street past the ballet studio, the rocker factory, La Famiglia and Hemingway's, and Doodlebug's children's store, to dip into the little knicknack shop and jeweler and antique store for a few minutes before my timer ran out.

I headed home, the weather having grown a little colder, and thought of the weather forecast. So when I got home, once again the cookies were put off. I put up the little Christmasy stakes (Rudolph, the candy cane, the Welcome bell), and then pulled out the net lights James had bought for the columns and put them on the bushes in the front, and set them up on the timer. I tried to put together the Moravian star, but it's broken in the middle and won't go together properly. :-(

I was giving the lights a last tweak when the garage door went up and James arrived home. We went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to spend the four coupons we had: he needed a new cartridge for the Soda Stream, some Cola Free, and I bought some butane lighters—maybe we'll be able to use the fireplace eventually!—and a new holder for the toothbrushes. Navigating the parking lot of the shopping center was about as dangerous as we wanted to get today, so we returned home directly.

We had chicken apple sausages and potatoes for supper, and watched the last two episodes of The Librarians, including the Christmas episode with Bruce Campbell as Santa Claus! I love the way he kept flipping through his historical personas. After Doctor Who, I put The Gathering on. A nice quiet adult Christmas film to end the day, sentimental without being mawkish.

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» Sunday, December 21, 2014
Twas the Weekend Before Christmas...

...alas, James had to work half of it. However, he didn't have to be up until 8:30 to get in for ten on Saturday, so we did sleep eight hours. I've been having this recurring dream about finding trash on the floor after I've cleaned up. I have no idea what this means, but I hope it goes away after I finish wrapping gifts.

So James went off to work, and I went back to wrapping. I only had five gifts more to do, so I thought I'd have it done about lunchtime and then could commence cookie baking. Canta tu! as Mother always said when she didn't believe something. I had one small craft project to go, and while I was there I figured I'd do two more small ones, or maybe between the wrapping and the pliers work it was almost two when I finished. Not to mention I found Nicki and Vinny's card hiding in the futon; I couldn't find it to put into their parcel yesterday, so I mailed the package off thinking I'd mailed the card with the rest of them. So I put it into the mailbox. And now I was starving and feeling a bit stir-crazy. So I took my Barnes & Noble coupons and headed out searching for lunch. It was grey, chilly, and spitting a bit, so what's the best medicine for that?

After finishing my chicken soup and baguette (at Panera, of course), the original plan was to go to the Akers Mill Barnes & Noble. But part of me wanted to go into Buckhead despite the bad traffic.

It turned out to not be that bad. I keep forgetting Buckhead isn't Party City anymore; it's turned into plush Condo City instead. West Paces Ferry Road was less crowded on the Saturday before Christmas than it is on any Friday. West Paces and the properties south are wealthy, so the decorations are standard: green garlands and wreaths, red bows, little white "fairy" lights, and combinations thereof. It's also a land of brick or stone mailbox holders, and some of these are swathed in fresh greens that overflow off the top, all finished off with a red bow. The formula doesn't vary; no colored lights sully Buckhead! There was a bit of traffic in front of Whole Paycheck...I mean Whole Foods...and for a moment the Barnes & Noble parking lot looked like a traffic jam, until I realized most of the cars were cutting past the front of the store to get to the Publix next door to it. I found a parking spot right in front of the store.

The Buckhead store always smells like coffee. You can stroll the aisles supported by the heavenly arabica odor alone. I picked up the Christmas "Period Living" and, after checking the SF, the mystery, the film books, the essays, the travel, the history, the teens, and the reference/writing books, I finally picked up Chickens in the Road, the story of a woman who moves to the country. The store was full of people; I heard a couple speaking French, and someone else speaking German. The line was long, but the cashiers swift, and I was on my way just as it was starting to get dark. I drove back through the neighborhood, down behind the Atlanta History Center and paralleling West Paces: more white lights, more wreaths with red bows, sometimes pine garland wrapped with white lights along someone's wall or fence, sometimes garlands around columns, and one yard with six giant snowflakes hanging from the trees along the street. I love the varieties of homes, but I'm not fond of Georgian or what I call "doctor's houses," white with columns out front. I like the stone ones, like the beautiful homes in Pennsylvania, the mock Tudors, the pseudo-Victorians, and even the Italian country estate.

I stopped very quickly at the Akers Mill Barnes & Noble to spend the other coupon; I decided to get Code Name Verity because a friend of mine has enjoyed it so much. As I left the store, James called me. "Where are you?" "Behind Cumberland Mall." And the traffic wasn't bad, which was sad.

Since he was home early, we went to dinner. We went through three different ideas, and ended up at Hibachi Grill because it was a buffet and we could eat immediately, because James wanted to stop first at Hobby Lobby to get some small gifts for a few co-workers. HL is nearly stripped clean of Christmas items, especially all the cool craft items they had this year (I got my red-and-green butcher's twine there). Alas, the spring items are going in already. "The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on..."

Then we went to Kroger and finished the shopping so we didn't have to do it this morning. Later I chatted with Emma and Mike. Looks like everything's been delivered.

So this morning we had a leisurely breakfast, Tucker had a nice walk, and Snowy sang along to the television. About noon we went out to buy one last gift. Ended up at Penzey's Spices. They have crates as display shelves, and always a jar with that particular spice in it for you to sniff. It's like a world cruise via sense of smell: French herbs, Italian herbs, Turkish herbs, Vietnamese spices, Chinese spices, Indonesian spices, Mexican herbs. In the very back they have all the different types of cinnamon. The Vietnamese is very potent; it can clean your sinuses out! I don't know how on earth people can eat a spoonful of cinnamon!

Then a stop a few storefronts down at Trader Joe's for more chicken/apple sausage, items to take with us for Christmas dinner, and other little things.

Now, we both still had the coupons from Barnes & Noble we received in the mail a few weeks ago. I could go to the store after the new books come out on Tuesday, but this was basically James' last chance to pick up anything he wanted. So we approached the Perimeter Mall area with some trepidation, but since we used the back route, through Lake Hearn Drive, we ran into no traffic at all. The parking lot was crowded, since B&N shares the shopping center with the Container Store, Bassett Furniture, and Restoration Hardware, but the handicapped parking space was free.

The store was quite busy. Alan Siler was working today and I got a nice hug before we started threading through the aisles. Seeing that I'd just been to Barnes & Noble yesterday, you would have thought I couldn't find anything, but I did: a new history book about London called Shakespeare's Pub and the Norman Rockwell book American Mirror. I also bought a cross-stitch magazine with an adorable set of fox patterns, the winter edition of "This England," and a retro magazine I'd never heard of before, "Remind." It's on cheap paper, but reprints vintage ads and comic strips and little bits of trivia, plus has retro quizzes and puzzles. Figured I couldn't lose picking up the Christmas edition.

We came home by Kroger. James dropped me off and I went in to get some hot chicken soup for supper, along with some Italian bread and Kerrygold butter, and a newspaper. Finished wrapping the final three gifts! The marathon wrap session is finally over! Spent the rest of the evening eating supper and reading the paper, watching a few Christmas specials (The Bestest Present, A Christmas Angel, and It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas) before watching the Christmas episode of Alaska: the Last Frontier. They did a secret Santa and each person drew one name; all the gifts had to be homemade. Eve made Bonnie (Atz's wife) some rosehip mead, Charlotte fixed up an old sled for Atz, Atz and Bonnie made a teepee for Shane and his wife to live in while they are building a house (complete with stove), and so forth. It was a real kick to see what kind of surprises they cooked up for each other!

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» Friday, December 19, 2014
The Hurrier I Go...
I'm free, I'm free! For seventeen days, at least.

Slept badly, so when I woke at eight I had a headache. I swallowed some ibuprofin and went back to bed until 8:30, then got up when the alarm rang and was doing some things in the bathroom...when I actually woke up and discovered I had dreamed getting up and instead had slept through 46 minutes of the alarm.

So it was after nine by the time I dressed, had breakfast, then walked Tucker. It was chilly out, but brilliant, despite some gathering clouds.

Now I'd had several ideas for today; the initial had been to bake cookies. But last year something went wrong with the wine biscuits; they were fine after I baked them, but by the time New Year rolled around they started to taste bitter. Since I don't like wine and can't actually taste if it's spoilt or not, I thought it might have started to turn. It's kept downstairs in the furthest corner of the closet in the dark, but we had a warm summer and it might not have kept as cool as I'd like it. So I needed to go to Mink's to get a fresh bottle of hearty burgundy. Besides, it is supposed to rain tomorrow, a perfect day for baking cookies.

First, I ended up going to the little Smyrna post office to mail one last package. The clerk there is a guy who looks just like Santa Claus, beard and all, and one of the regulars, in line in front of me, asked him why he wasn't wearing his Santa hat. He admitted it was too hot, and I agreed with him: it was over 50 outside! :-) Then I went on to MicroCenter to look for a new cell phone case. I found one just the right width but not tall enough that the magnetic cover would latch; however, I was able to get a USB cord for James. Egads. They now have fewer computer books than Barnes & Noble.

I was relieved to stop at Mink's and actually find the hearty burgundy without having to ask for help. They are remodeling the store, and all the wine is now lined up in neat rows near the front. Last time it might have well been down a flight of stairs near a disused lavatory behind a door that said "Beware of the Leopard." I walked down the vodka aisle with mouth agape: I've never seen so many flavors! Gingerbread! Strawberry! Vanilla!

On the way home I stopped at Publix to get a baguette. Well, there were some goodies on twofer, including olives, so fifty dollars later I was home and ready for lunch: some of the baguette, milk, and the rest of the leftover turkey from Tuesday night.

For the rest of the afternoon I embarked on a marathon gift wrapping session. I got everything wrapped except for Anne's and Clay's and Lin's gifts, and I still need to do the little craft projects for a couple of people. Only need to get three small gifts and then will be done, but I can leave the wrapping paper out and put the storage boxes away. However, I needed a part for one of my projects, and I knew they didn't have it locally because I'd stopped at the store last week. So as James arrived home as I was taking Tucker for a walk, I said "You want to go to Hiram?"

It was a little crowded on the road leading up to those long, long strip shopping centers on Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway, but we managed it in good time with the power chair jouncing along in the rear. We had supper at Folks...mmm, pork chop! Christmas carols were playing on the Muzak and the Weather Channel was predicting snow for Christmas somewhere. Sadly, not here.

Then we went to Michael's to pick up that item I needed, and James practiced with the power chair going in and out the aisles. I found the cutest winter fox stickers on sale (they were labeled as "wolf," which made me laugh—red wolves with white tail-tips; yeah, right) and James bought some Necco wafers. Then we trundled down to Five Below where I picked up a couple of gifts (for next  year) and bought a toy to put in the Toys for Tots bin (a Sofia the First puzzle).

Finally home again, home again, jiggety jog, where I put on the Toy Train Show Christmas edition and then Christmas at St. Olaf.

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» Sunday, December 14, 2014
Christmas Stories, Turkey Dinner, and All That Happiness

The only thing I didn't get to do today was sleep late. Can't be helped. Took Tucker on a good walk and then had a little to eat before heading out for the day. We'd forgotten to get mushrooms when we did the shopping, so when we stopped at Publix for a paper and some money, we got them as well.

Then it was off to have some fun: we had coupons for Barnes & Noble, 25 percent off! Not much time to stop there, so we basically did a scan of the store. James found a book of fantasy military stories and I bought Simon Garfield's book about the demise of letter writing. James also found a coloring book of airplanes. I've been looking at a book bag they have for ages, with a verse about winter on it, and I ended up buying it, even though the last thing I need is another book bag. But it's nice to be reminded of winter, especially during suck-a** summer.

O the year is passing too quickly since autumn arrived: the magazines on the stands are already talking about the New Year. It's eighteen days away. Egad.

A funny: as we were getting out of the truck I was telling James I had also used the coupon online. I said happily "I bought a book about the history of punctuation!" He started to laugh and said "I love being married to you." What, you thought I was going to buy chick lit or something from someone's book club?

Then we drove down to Stockbridge for this year's "Atlanta Christmas" performance by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. We left Marietta early enough that we could stop for lunch first at the exit where we had to get off for the performance; it contained a richness of choices to eat. We had thought to stop at Zaxby's, but we noticed as we turned on to the street that there was a Piccadilly Cafeteria at the exit. We haven't eaten at Piccadilly for years, partially because the ones we used to frequent closed, and partially because we just got tired of the food looking unappetizing and being salty. This meal was much better: we had chicken and dumplings; canned gravy, but otherwise it was good, and I enjoyed the sides I picked, corn and carrot souffle. We shared a slice of chocolate cream pie for dessert. Note: Do not buy milk at Piccadilly ever again. They charged $2.25 for a half pint of milk! Did the cow have a golden udder or what?

ARTC had a nice lineup this year, even if they didn't do either of my personal favorites, "Are You Lonely Tonight" and "Oh Tannenbaum." :-) They did perform "Davy Crockett Christmas," one of my new favorites, because it was like listening to someone talk about my own childhood: black and white television and the brilliant colors of Christmas.

We talked to Caran for a while after the show, then headed back toward town to have my birthday dinner: turkey and dressing at the Colonnade, of course. Even though people come in the place in shorts, I always feel like I'm underdressed when I go there. The white tablecloths and the cloth napkins remind me of going out to eat on Thanksgiving and Mother's Day. We had a great waiter, and, despite the crowd, ate a delicious meal delivered hot. James had the pork, and we both enjoyed it immensely. I noticed there were a lot of large parties that seemed to be exchanging gifts. It's always been a good place for Christmas.

Arrived home to walk and feed Tucker, listen to Snowy singing, and relax a little before bedtime. A nice day. Thank you, God.

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All In a Birthday Weekend

This birthday weekend has gone by on the wings of swifts! After my Wednesday I really needed some time off, but it's not like I've gotten any rest. In fact, when we last met, we had a new Christmas tree in the garage, and decorations half up. On my telework day I was able to put up the airplane tree (which really needs a spotlight) and tidy up downstairs during lunch. The new library tree looks so nice!

I spent my birthday on Thursday wrapping and boxing up gifts to go in the mail. I had seven to mail, but unfortunately only four were ready, so I got to work on those. The spare room now looks like a department store gift-wrap corner threw up in it, and the copy-paper boxes with the gifts are opened all over the futon. Instead of using bows which would flatten in the mail, I used butcher's twine in red-and-white, green-and-white, and red-green-and-white, and tucked the Christmas cards in the parcels. Then I took the four finished parcels, and the Christmas cards to the post office. The line wasn't bad considering the time of year, and one man left because passports were appointment only.

I made a short side trip to Michaels so I could finish a gift (except what I bought was too small, so I did something else) and I finished three small craft gifts. Then I wrapped as many parts of the other two gifts as I could and worked on something to tuck into one of them.

For supper on Thursday night James brought me a nice brisket of beef sandwich from Firehouse Subs, and we watched Doctor Who (parts three and four of "Planet of the Spiders"—almost time for Jon Pertwee to make his final bow) and then I put on The Bishop's Wife. I just plain love this movie. I know Cary Grant hated doing it, but he makes the suavest angel ever and I'd believe anything Dudley said if he was in Grant's persona. I even love the long skating scene. Especially adore Dudley decorating the tree and typing the sermon, and the way the harp calls to him. But I watch, too, just to see the bishopric! All that woodwork! And the stained glass! The pocket panel doors! The fretwork! The library! It's so gorgeous! It's almost as luminous as Loretta Young and she always looked lighted from within.

I wish I could say I awoke rarin' to go on Friday, but I would have loved to have slept later. Now that the other two gifts were completed, and that I had the proper address for one of them, it all went together easily, and I popped them in the car and went back to the post awful. I got the same clerk as yesterday, who even recognized me.

This time I came directly home. It was time for the Christmas tree. But once I decanted it and pieced the parts together, a problem arose: there's no plug at the top of this pre-lit tree, so no place to plug in "Little Blaze," the star. So, back into my outside clothing, and I drove over to Vickery Hardware in search of an extension cord. There I was, the lone woman in the store with a bunch of working men, and I'm standing at the checkout with a 15-foot brown extension cord and three triple-taps set in front of me, and for three solid minutes not one person paid attention to me. I guess they thought I was with one of the guys. Thanks a lot, fellas.

So came home and strung the extension cord down the trunk and thus was the star plugged in; I started with all the large glass ornaments, then on to the large Hallmark and Carletons, and finally filled in with the smallest ones. Finally I hid the pickle. As always I watched Christmasy things: Christmas Is, The City That Forgot About Christmas, and three Lassie Christmas episodes as I worked.

James got home a bit early after working overtime yesterday, but I was just starting to tinsel the tree as he arrived. I could have left it and finished after we had supper...but dang, after the interruptions today I just wanted to get it complete. And it does look nice: it's perfectly formed and a good size to decorate; I always though the other was too tall. But for a tree with 400 lights on it, it's so dark. Almost all the lights are on the inside branches. The tree I got from Michaels isn't like that, and it's only four feet high but you can read under the lights from it

We had supper at Panera where the chicken soup and the bagel were a nice reward for a day's work, and then we went by Kroger to buy a baby gate to put in front of the Christmas tree. I'm sure Tucker won't be able to resist it, and if he doesn't eat the tinsel or knock over the tree, he'll try to chew the rubber camels in the manger set. Since we were there we did the weekly shopping, too.

Before bed I was able to put out the manger set, each piece in place just the way Mother would have done it every year. Now the tree is complete.

This morning we went to the Farmer's Market. It was a double test this morning: we not only took the power chair, we took Tucker as well. Luckily we found a parking space in the public lot on Powder Springs Road, although it was a trip navigating the railroad tracks and the brick sidewalk. I handled the dog and James coped with the chair. Tucker was on sensory overload: the people! the dogs! the scents! oh, and there's FOOD! He sniffed and romped from booth to booth and dog to dog, his tail wagging all the time. One bit of sad news: Cuisine on the Run, where James has been getting his chicken salad for so long, is ceasing operations. They couldn't find an USDA-rated kitchen to work in any longer and have decided to give it up. We always were so happy to talk to Stu at his tent at the market; he was always so nice, and the chicken salad was delicious.

Anyway, it turned out that The Corner Shop, the British store, was open, so we took turns going in and looking at the goodies. I bought us some ginger covered in dark chocolate and James bought some Christmas cake. It turns out that the lady who owns the shop has been sick; she has COPD and has only recently found a medicine that works for her. It must be miserable not being able to breathe like that. I'm glad she has something now.

Then we had to hustle home because I'd completely forgotten about James' club meeting. We both stopped at the house long enough to use the rest room; James then went off to Town Center and I was bound and determined to get Tucker a bath without having to kneel down at the bathtub. I found my answer at "Unleashed," a small version of Petco that has a dog wash in the back. For $10, you get a tub with adjustable platforms, a very nice high pressure water shower head, two towels, dog shampoo and conditioner, a curry brush, and a place to dry the dog. Tucker definitely knew what was going on and tried to retreat under the tub. He was put back in and restrained with a leash. I talked to him through the whole process and finally he got resigned to it, just looking at me pleadingly with big eyes, but making no struggle; he had another fit when I turned the dryer on, but I can't blame him; it was so noisy! I finally folded his ears down with one hand and used the dryer head with the other. If it was summer I wouldn't have even bothered, but it was chilly out.

Finally he was all fluffy and clean, and I picked up a little treat for him, and then went by the coats. I was hoping to find something "knit" and red, but most of them were too small and/or icky pink, but I found a cute one in blue that was his size, with "Trouble Maker" the legend on the back! As we were checking out, the clerk told me Santa Claus would be out in a few minutes to take pictures with pets for a donation. Now, we always wanted to do this with Willow, but always seemed to miss the weekend, and she was so fixated on James she probably wouldn't have sat with Santa. It seemed providential. Tucker just romped over and greeted him, let Santa pick him up—a quick squeak toy noise and the photographer snapped the picture, and in five minutes I had a print. Easy peasy.

Then I took him home via the gas station so I could feed Twilight. Now, when we got home what I should have done immediately was to finish with the decorations (the woodland tree and the foyer, because James wanted to put the space tree up with me), and maybe wrap some gifts. But after putting a few things up I realized I was developing a headache. I'd had a plain hamburger on the way to Unleashed, so I wasn't starving. I put the Army/Navy game on for Snowy and finally decided to take three ibuprofin and lie down for a half hour. Well, the futon is full of boxes, so I lay down on the bed with a fleece over me, and was out like a light until James got home at 4:45, waking only to hear some boys talking loudly outside (the bedroom window is open).

We had supper at the West Cobb Diner. Boy, was it warm in there, and crowded. You could barely hear yourself over the crowd. We had turkey as always, and took half of it home for lunches. Then we went to the used book store, 2nd and Charles, to get rid of the leftover box I had gotten back from McKays. They only took a few things, and I dumped the rest in the "free books" bin except for the DVDs. James got something with his gift card, and I found a "Reminisce" book about the Depression with what little credit I got. (There was a beautiful book about Mount Vernon, but I didn't know if I wanted it that much.)

We came home via the battlefield park and Kennesaw Avenue to admire the Christmas decorations. One house had white lights with red floodlights: stunning! Two others had those GE light balls in the trees over their homes. In that neighborhood, though, with the vintage homes, mostly white lights. It was only when we got back into our own neighborhood after James stopped for gasoline that we saw a lot of multicolor trimmings, which I prefer.

Spent the evening watching Christmasy things: "Lassie's Gift of Love," Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, The Small One, "Pluto's Christmas Tree," and finally Mickey's Christmas Carol.

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» Sunday, December 07, 2014
The End is...Out of Sight

Couldn't sleep past 8:30, even having gone to bed at two. Wretched body parts. You ought to be able to put them to sleep for a fixed amount of time like you do a phone.

So, the Dish guy was coming anywhere from noon to five; this means we had to make tracks to the grocery store. We managed it all in less than an hour, and even remembered the eggs, and good thing, too, because just before we left, Dish called again and said he was due between 11:30 and 12:45, so we were back at eleven—and I was still putting up the groceries when the tech called and said he was outside.

If he had just installed "the Hopper" and that was it, it would have been quick. However, before coming in, he checked the satellite dish itself and found it in bad shape. He ended up, I think, replacing everything including the cables, and aiming the dish to the southeast rather than to the southwest, where it has a clearer line of sight. He said we had 70 percent loss of signal on HD. And perhaps since it's now aimed in the opposite direction of where the storms come from, we won't get dropouts so often. Installing the receiver itself was a lot like installing a new version of Windows, the install and then lots of updates. But finally everything was working, including all the music channels again. It's basically the same except for lots of pictures instead of words, and we get more recording space.

The one thing I forgot to do was check to see that he had reconnected the DVD recorder back to the Hopper. This was a problem because previously the two were connected with co-ax. The Hopper doesn't have a co-ax outlet, so he said it needed to be connected with RCA cables. However, he'd left the RCA cables running from the Hopper to the TV. I spent a fruitless hour trying to figure out why the Hopper and the recorder weren't connecting even when I connected it properly. Turned out, eventually, that the input on the recorder was wrong. It needs to be on Input1.

By then I was too irritated at myself for not figuring this out earlier, and it was really too late to go anywhere. What I wanted to do was decorate the library tree, but it wasn't the happy occasion it always is. I was tired and hurting. On the other hand, I was curious to see how the new tree looked; this is the $15 I got from Michael's. And in the end it's not bad at all. Taller than the previous one, but I still managed to fill it up. It looks quite nice.

Still, everything is a wreck. I'm so far behind!

This morning at Kroger we bought some boneless pork ribs. When we got home, I browned them, and put them in the crock pot with two bottles of tomato-and-basil spaghetti sauce. So now that the library tree was done, all that it took was to cook up the rest of the fusilli and sprinkle a bit of romano cheese on the macaroni and gravy and tender, tender pork, and it was dinner time.

Later it was finally time for The Librarians. Yeah, it's cheese, but it's cute cheese. Noah Wyle is now joined by an ex-terrorism officer, a professional thief, a woman with an idetic memory, and an oil worker who has an IQ of 190 and is an art historian. The fantabulous library has become freed from reality and the only link to it is a satellite location in Oregon with the cranky Jenkins (John Larroquette) in attendance. Wyle is evidently only going to make cameo appearances while his "Scooby Gang" learns the ropes. Oh, and Matt Frewer is a recurring villain, who has absorbed a little of the magic that was released when his operative returned Excalibur to its stone.

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» Saturday, December 06, 2014
The Endless Whirl is Making Me Dizzy

Stop. Please stop. I just want to finish decorating and slow down.

So today was Hair Day. And then the great Christmas tree hunt, and finally home for some decorating.

So Hair Day goes off smashingly. We made a noodle side to complement Shannon's offering of two kinds of chicken, fried nuggets and chunks in a sesame ginger sauce. Charles brought fruit and cheese, Phyllis a relish tray, and we also had chicken nuggets in little buns. Mel and I swapped phone app stories, we talked about Thanksgiving, and finally we had cake and ice cream for Neil's and Lin's birthdays (today and tomorrow, respectively).

Meanwhile, I did a little research and discovered that the Christmas tree I liked at Lowe's is out of stock at all stores, so even if I could reconcile myself to the white lights for a tree so pretty, it wasn't to be. Sigh. So after we left Hair Day we went back to the Kmart. For a few minutes it looked like we were sunk; all that appeared to be left were the 6-foot trees with white lights. I had James pick up the 7-foot "cashmere" tree with multicolor lights (which I didn't really like—I figured maybe we could look at what Sears had and return the tree if need be) before I went around a corner and found shelves full of the multicolor version of the 6-foot-tree. It's not that good-looking a tree, but it was only $50, too. Then we just headed home, and I was determined to get back to decorating.

Well, that was the plan. I remembered that the new series The Librarians was going to start tomorrow, and with our DVR as screwed up as it is (it only updates one day in advance now), and I wanted to program it. I did, but when I actually tried to tune TNT in, it wouldn't come in, just like every single music channel we have. They started disappearing one by one after Christmas last year, and now we don't get any at all, not to mention other stations, and some of them just drop out in the middle of recording, like it did during Doctor Who a month or so ago. Plus the DVR locks up, sometimes when recording, sometimes when playing back. So first I called up SiriusXM and closed our account, as I should have weeks ago—they were surprisingly non-combative; they must have taken the Comcast story to heart. I'm finally free of "Me and Bobby McGee." :-) Then I called Dish. I've been suspecting that it was one of the LMB units in the dish itself was the problem, but the technician did some diagnostic things and said it's the receiver.

And then, amazingly, she said she could send someone out tomorrow! Now, I've got a bunch of things on the DVR, but I really, really would like a chance to record The Librarians. So instead of watching Christmas stuff, I'm doing a mass-dub of Castle, and also got off a Feasts and Seasons I didn't have. But...sigh...there's all those nice new copies of a few New Lassie episodes, and who knows how long Angel2 will be running it: January 1 is coming up fast.

I did get some decorations up: the Rudolph tree, and put our decorations in our room (not set up) and most of the decorations in the spare room.

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» Friday, December 05, 2014
Free at Last

The garage door repairman was due at nine; I set the alarm for eight. My phone rang at 7:13—he was picking up our door and was on his way. Well, so much for sleep. Up, dressed, dog-walked, and finally ate breakfast, and he arrived as I was halfway through my yogurt. It was a little after eight.

The repairman, Danny, finished before ten; in the meantime I finished decorating the dining room and the kitchen, read e-mail, put some things away. When he was finished, I inspected the job—perfect! He only had to replace one of the two rails, and, of course, all of the door. The garage door opener was not damaged. I worked it a few times and it appeared fine. So I paid the bill and he went off to his next job.

And now I'm free. I've been stuck home for four solid days, and I was lucky Puli agreed to let me telework, and that she looked into a couple of things for me so I could carry on with my work.

I cleared up a couple of other things and then left for the Apple Annie Craft Show via Publix for money. Twilight was evidently unhappy to give up his four-day doze in the garage and started up sluggishly. The weather wrapped around the world with grey clamminess; even though it was almost 60°F, it was chilly. Before getting to the church, I stopped at the little used bookstore that's on Roswell Road near the Hancock Fabrics. They are closing and all the books are 40 percent off. I didn't see anything worth having.

After that I spent a pleasant hour or so wandering about the craft booths in the classrooms. Well, if I want to do crafts after I retire, maybe beadwork is out—nearly half the vendors there were selling home-made jewelry. Some was unique, made with polished rock, but most was just ordinary bead-and-chain work. All very pretty. Also saw cute kids' clothes, soaps, ribbon bows, Christmas decorations, stained glass, some lovely woodwork like cutting boards and lazy susans in all sorts of woods and patterns, artwork (one wonderful painting of a husky staring into the "camera"), and more. I miss the "prim lady," and they put the "papyrus lady" in the gym this year. The Asian woman who makes the cunning miniature flower arrangements from clay wasn't there.

I had no money for any of it, but just window-shopped. I bought a couple of things from the bake shop and church office (all the proceeds are for charity): ginger molasses cookies and buckeyes that we can have for dessert, and Kahlua fudge for me, and then did my very favorite thing: went into the Garden of Reconcilation. This is a central courtyard with a path around the perimeter, a statue of St. Francis and another of St. Anne, a big cross, and a stone waterfall in the center with a figure weeping in front of it. The entire place was scattered with American oak leaves from end to end and I crunched through them as I walked around the waterfall, visited St. Francis, then went to sit in one of the cafe chairs near the St. Anne statue. I love it in there. The only sounds (well, beside the intrusive airplane overhead) were the waterfall spattering down over the stones and the wind rustling the papery leaves left on the tree. Once a small whirlwind sent a shower of leaves down. For those moments, the aggravation of work yesterday faded away, and I was calm and so happy.

I went into the sanctuary and said a prayer before I left.

Now I was hungry, so I cut through the "back"—Bishop Lake Road (I always laugh when I see Bishop Lake; hon, where I come from, we call that a pond) to a short bit of Johnson Ferry Road to Sewell Mill, which skips all of that Roswell Road nonsense. Then up East Piedmont, which becomes Piedmont, which at Bells Ferry Road is then Barrett Parkway, and here I am at Barnes & Noble ready to have a bagel and some cocoa.

They were out of bagels. ::grump:: Everything they had left was sweet. I passed. I had a 20 percent off coupon and a $10 gift card from B&N that came in the mail yesterday, so I picked up the new volume of Valdemar short stories, the Christmas issue of "Landscape," and the British magazine "Style at Home." The lady at the checkout counter told me she had survived the evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina!

Came home through Kennesaw Avenue to observe the progress of Christmas decorations on the big houses, and through downtown Marietta.

It was almost four o'clock, so by the time I took Tucker for his afternoon walk, there wasn't much time to do anything else. James was home on time and we went to eat off something cheap: the IHOP senior menu. Next to KMart. The Christmas tree I liked best last year still looks a bit skimpy, so we went past Lowes to see the tree I liked (except for the white lights).

It's gone. Oh, dear.

So I'm nursing my feelings and wondering what to do next, and watching A Peter, Paul & Mary Holiday Concert..

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