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, July 31, 2016
The Rest of the Story
It took James' kidneys five, count 'em, five, days to recover from being stripped of fluid by the stupid "MoviPrep." One day was very bad because there is just so much time you can stay staring at a television with about ten decent channels, and then the channels don't offer anything good. I remember when you could count on the History Channel for good documentaries and the Discovery Channel would have something science-related or other interesting program. Now History seems to be American Pickers, Pawn Stars, or Mountain Men, and Discovery has endless reality series, especially the dreadful Naked and Afraid. We tried to play a game and got interrupted by the vitals squad, the vampire squad, and countless other hospitaly things. We tried to watch Murdoch Mysteries on Acorn TV and the program stalled out after eight minutes (the wifi is good enough for Facebook, but not for streaming). Even our books had lost their charm.

Finally in the morning the creatitine was down to 3.5, so they scheduled the stent for Friday at two. I had Aubrey Spivey do "reveille" with the fids so I could be there all morning. Finally they came and got him—and I had to stay behind because the stress flipped out my digestive system. I finally got downstairs a half hour later, to be set waiting in a plush little waiting room that looked like a doctor's office. Finally I got to go stand in a bleak hallway where James was wheeled out from the procedure room, looking a bit spacy, but not from being put out; he watched the whole thing and said it looked like a giant spider was attacking his heart.

The next few hours were really hard. His legs were involuntarily twitching from the restless leg syndrome and he had to keep the right leg still because they went into his heart through the femoral artery rather than through his wrist as in the original catherization. So I basically sat at the side of the bed holding his right knee down while he had these terrible leg cramps. They gave him some oxycodone for his back pain, which came back stronger than ever while lying flat, but it helped the leg cramps. He also had a small, localized pain in the chest area, and they called the doctor for it, but apparently this is common: the artery reacts to being stretched by the stent. It went away in a half hour, his blood chemistries remained the same, and his EKG was fine.

After almost four hours, a team came to remove the catheter from his leg. They had to pull it out and then one person had to keep pressure on it for thirty minutes. I was watching her and I did not see much blood, so they did a really good job! Then when they finished, he had to lie flat at least until after 10 p.m.!

I ran home to tend to the fids and take a shower during this time, and rushed right back. They let him stand up, finally, a little before 11 p.m. and he got a little dizzy, but we were told that was normal. I noticed that his blood pressure was very low (his systolic under 100) while the catheter was in, but the moment they took it out, he returned to normal.

Saturday was kind of a coasting day. The creatitine numbers were great; he had only gone up a tenth of a percent after the procedure (they used a minimum amount of dye, something like 15 percent rather than 55), and they asked that we wait one more day to make sure he didn't have a delayed reaction. I had brought James' colored pencils and an aircraft coloring book, and that's how he occupied most of the day and night while I divided my time between Two Crowns for America, a book of Doctor Who essays, and magazines on my tablet. The cafeteria actually had something decent for lunch, so I had that, and brought back tuna salad for a supper sandwich, which I made with part of the baguette I picked up at Publix yesterday when I bought milk.

I slept at home last night because the unfolding (and unyeilding) chair that becomes a bed has been doing absolutely rotten things to my back, not to mention the hard foam pillows vs. the arthritis in my neck. Of course, I ended up not sleeping well at all, including having a bizarre dream of having a kid take our vacuum cleaner and sell the parts to buy a video game. Er, what?

But, happily this morning, first one doctor came in and said James could go home, and then finally the other did, but he came so late that James had already ordered lunch. So we packed up slowly, and he took a long luxurious shower, and I went down to Au Bon Pain and had a last bowl of chicken noodle soup (I have had it up to here with soup and rotten salty food), and he ate lunch, and finally I went off to the car with the little shopping cart (which has already earned its keep) and picked up James at the back door.

This was around one o'clock, but we didn't get home until almost suppertime. First we decided to stop at Kroger with James' big new stack of prescriptions to see if any of them qualified for their $4/$10 prescriptions, only to be told they don't do that anymore! Well, this explains what happened with my own prescriptions, but why didn't they tell me they didn't do the program anymore? They only told me my two prescriptions didn't qualify anymore. While we were there we bought juice, Crystal Lite, and sugarless cookies for James and a few other things.

Then, in order to get the prescriptions filled, we had to truck all the way up to Town Center to the closest Kaiser office open on weekends. We got everything—of course the new heart medication is the most expensive!—except for the iron supplement they want him to take. They don't carry it. Walgreens doesn't either, but we can get it at CVS, for twice the price it is online. ::sigh::

If I was tired before, I was exhausted now, and it was already four o'clock. For a quick but not too salty dinner, we stopped at the closest Kentucky Fried Chicken to get some baked chicken. They were having trouble at the window and ended up basically ignoring it. I got in a snit and we tried instead to find a rotisserie chicken at the Kroger up the street, but of course at this hour they were all gone. So we slunk back to KFC, got the last six pieces of baked chicken (two miniature legs and four equally miniature wings). As James came back out with it, it started to pour and we had a nice brisk rainstorm and thunderstorm.

So, at quarter to five, we finally, finally got home.

I'd rather be sleeping, but we're watching television (with more channels, there's still nothing good on) and I'm washing my blanket for tonight.

Needless to say, Tucker is very happy to see his daddy, and Snowy has sung him a long complicated budgie epic.

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» Monday, July 25, 2016
Interim Bulletin
No stent today because two days of stupid "MoviPrep" screwed up his creatitine scores.

Getting really sick of the doctors making him sicker.

I also brought him up some cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets from the salad bar. How they expect him to stay regular with only 10 green beans or 15 carrots at every meal is beyond me.



» Sunday, July 24, 2016
Short Update
Since both of us are exhausted...

I thought that bowel "Draino" was strong enough to peel paint off a wall. Evidently I was wrong. James had to go through the whole shebang again last night; needless to say, we are bung-eyed and tired today, but the colonoscopy came out clean.

(I wish I could say the same for the ants. Still caught two hanging around the door to the deck today. More vinegar. Put black pepper on the doorstep because someone said it repels them.)

The first stent is scheduled to go in tomorrow between noon and one ("with the help of God and a few policemen," as Mom always said) and they will keep him overnight. If all goes well, we should be at Kaiser with a handful of prescriptions on Tuesday.

Please God.

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» Friday, July 22, 2016
Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
This was it! Stent this morning, and hopes for good results and maybe home tomorrow.

The ants weren't a distraction, they were a harbinger.

For some reason they took a stool sample last night. This morning we found out there were traces of blood in it.

Oh, the explanation for the delay was reasonable: if James has polyps, they could be bleeding and causing the anemia. Worse, once the stents are in, it's a year of Plavix, a blood thinner, which will make polyps bleed. So instead of a stent today, he gets a colonoscopy tomorrow. And then maybe Monday, the stent.

I'm starting to wonder when they're going to check him for Dengue, Zika, and malaria, because they're apparently trying to get everything in.

James was, understandably, upset. I ended up grabbing a folded towel and slamming it repeatedly against one of the storage shelves. I wanted to kick something, but I would have only hurt myself.

My efforts to make the afternoon pass quickly turned into a goose egg. First I tried to play some DVDs on the USB player, but I only have the "Mouse" here, and it won't power the player. Tried watching The Good Life on YouTube and the videos were playing out of order. So, hey, we have Acorn TV and we haven't seen season eight of Murdoch Mysteries! I called up Acorn TV and it quit streaming after five minutes. We are so sick of TV we can barely stand it--it's like a never-ending stream of Law & Order: Criminal Intent--and we don't get any good channels here like Science or HGTV. Should have said yes to the stents at Northside.

He did take a long nap while I finished Radio Girls, which I really enjoyed, and after that we went to look up his previous test results on Kaiser's websit. Well, son of a -----! They are right: his BUN and his creatitine have risen steadily since last August, and his BUN jumped from 35 in December to 60 in April. So tell me--why didn't anyone say anything about this? Especially when he is seeing his GP every three months. I am so pissed I am nearly speechless.

After supper tonight I have decided I shall retire from CDC and start campaigning for proper food in hospital cafeterias rather than the rubbish they serve. I can't believe hospital cafeterias today. At least Piedmont has a decent Au Bon Pain with good chicken soup rather than a dreadful McDonald's like Northside. St. Joe's and Fatima in the 1960s wouldn't have stood for stuff like they serve now: big fat slices of pizza at 660 calories. Fried chicken. Nice plain baked stuff like chicken legs and pork chops drowned in thick sauces. Meat loaf topped in icky ketchup (James likes his with brown gravy). Too-salty soups. Just because you have to serve things "army style" doesn't mean you have to make it as unpalatable, unhealthy, and fattening as possible. People want barbecue or other sauce? Serve it on the side. Provide salt packets next to the soups. James pointed out that a chicken breast cooked in teriyaki sauce has a different taste from a chicken breast with a teriyaki sauce on it, and he's perfectly correct. But you don't come to a hospital for haute cuisine, and I resent having had to eat perfectly nice baked chicken tonight drowning in a thick teriyaki sauce or a nice broiled pork chop like last week at Northside doused in barbecue sauce.

So James has Draino delivered to him and has to drink it, four now and four more at four a.m. And tomorrow at eight he gets scoped, and then they'll probably tell him he has Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

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» Thursday, July 21, 2016
Interesting Times...Again
At least this morning it didn't involve James.

As I drove home this morning, James called. He had talked to the surgeon. They are going to put a stent in the worst of the three heart arteries tomorrow. If he is okay on Saturday they will send him home for a week to decompress/give his kidneys a rest, then he will go in for the other two stents on the Monday after. Hopefully the stents will work, and if he later needs a bypass, the kidneys will be on better footing. Of course the kidneys may never get better. A creatintine score of 3.5 may be his "new normal."

So I was in a fairly good mood when I got in the house...until I looked down at Tucker's water bowl. There was an ant near it. No, not an ant. Ants. And ants near the garbage can, on the stool next to the refrigerator, and crawling up the side of the cupboards next to the sink.

I freaked. The exterminator usually takes care of this, but it's been very dry and they get in looking for water. I ran for the vinegar spray and spent several frantic minutes spraying the back door to the deck (and on the deck) and the baseboards and the corners of all the kitchen with vinegar to destroy the trails while simultaneously stepping on/poking out ants and calling Northwest Exterminating with frantic notes in my voice. They responded splendidly and said they'd send someone over between eleven and one, and he actually arrived about 11:15.

In the meanwhile I tried to contact someone to come help me clean up the kitchen. If they were on the counters I had to clean them off. John and Betty came to my rescue, helped me remove stuff and John even cleaned the top of the stove off. We got the long counter cleared at least by the time the exterminator showed up, and then they brought me lunch and let me weep all over them and I just wailed out my frustration. It's like the Seven Plagues of Egypt here.

Anyway, after the exterminator left, having sprayed inside and out at the deck (where they undoubtedly climbed up, although I never found an ant trail) and even at the front door because I was afraid they were going to come in there, and I vacuumed and refilled Tucker's cleaned food dish and his water dispenser, I was able to head back to the hospital.

Since then we have had several "what the hell?" moments. For instance, someone asked James, "Why didn't you tell them when you got to the hospital that you had kidney problems?" Why not? Because he didn't know! Every time they have done a kidney test James says he has gotten a report back from Kaiser that he is midrange in this ratings and nothing was marked "high" or "abnormal." Then they gave him a blood transfusion because they say he is anemic! Where did that come from? Did the Heparin cause it, or anything else intravenous? He had blood tests a few months ago and apparently his tests didn't say he was anemic then!

Oh, well, time to take a shower and walk the dog, and then go back.

Please pray for James or similar good wishes. Thank you to the people who have been reading my mad ramblings and sending me e-mails of encouragement.

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» Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Quick Post
We are at the point where days have begun to blend into one another. I discover that I can hardly remember last week except it short, staccato memories of bright lights, trundling medical data carts, faces of nurses and doctors all in a jumble. The hours when I am at home with the fids is the only constant I can rest reality on. Otherwise it is that vision you get when walking into a strange place with a strong sense of dread, and a feeling of disconnection.

We are moved over to Piedmont now and although everyone is nice, the service seems more impersonal. The room has a higher ceiling, so it is less claustrophobic, but is laid out awkwardly, with the sink in the room and often blocked with James' IV pole when I get done using the bathroom.  No curtain to dress behind, no soft light in the bathroom. It is either dark or painfully bright, and the A/C is either arctic or sahara-like. James is nearly at the end of a long, long corridor filled with other heart patients, and there are two other wings just like it. It's a major hike to the cafeteria, which is good for my own cardiac health, but the food is uniformly too salty. I intend to check out the Au Bon Pain nearer his room today.

We saw the doctor's (which doctor? we don't know; we were just told Dr. Brooke [sp?]—doctors do not come and go in our room like they did at Northside and it's very like living incommunicado) nurse practitioner, who told us he will be to see us between his surgeries. In the meantime I have been home and have Tucker's dish next to me getting him to eat and Snowy is singing to my left, and I am so sleepy it is unbelievable—James' bed, he says, is much more comfortable, but I'm sleeping on this chair that pulls out into a bed that slants downward, and me going with it. James has sent me home for his duvet cover because the blankets are so hard and heavy, first cousins to those 200-pound duvets we met on vacation last year.

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» Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Hour of the Wolf
This is a quick post. It is not good news.

They did the heart catherization yesterday and the result was not good. Despite the successful stress test last year, James has 80 percent blockage in three arteries in his heart. At that point the doctors could have put stents in to open the blockages. However, we were told stents do not do well with diabetics, nor with patients with kidney problems. The advisory from the cardiologist was that bypass surgery would be best for him.

The Kaiser doctor talked to Kaiser and James has been transferred to Piedmont Hospital. A former co-worker has told me that she has heard they are the best for this surgery, which heartens me. But it took a lot of the heart out of me. This, of course, will be more invasive than stents and require a longer recovery. And it's a different hospital to get used to.

James mom and sister came up yesterday, as did Clay and Maggi. Both stayed through the news, and then late in the afternoon Mom and Candy left so the taffic wouldn't be so bad. Clay and Maggi stayed through when they sent the ambulance for James, then helped me get all the stuff that's accumulated in the room for a week out to the car, and took me out to dinner at Longhorn. I have never been so simultaniously hungry and not hungry in my life.

The nurse James talked to at Piedmont said I would have to be in the building by eight p.m., and I wasn't going to make that. So I went home and spent the night there. You know the drill: feed the dog and walk him, and then we sat down and watched an episode of Lassie together. Then I staggered off for the shower and finally slept in a comfortable bed.

James and I connected through Skype, although he says the wifi at Piedmont sucks, so we used 4G. He said I can get a cot in the room to sleep on, and I guess we will talk about my possibly being able to come in at night a little later with the nurse. Anyway, still got to pack the rest of my clothes, hide cookies for Tucker (he's been out on the deck this morning, one of his favorite things, and Snowy has been singing to me), brush my teeth and remember to take hairbrush and toothbrush with me.

James will have ultrasound today to find veins in his legs to use for the grafts.

And that's all I know for now.

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» Sunday, July 17, 2016
The New Normal
So it's been going for the last few days. We get up in the morning and about nine I run to the house (remembering to ask for my day pass), wake up the fids, put the television on for Snowy, walk Tucker, eat my breakfast, pick up anything I need to bring in, and then troll around for something for lunch. One day it was Panera, the other it was Tin Drum, one day it was Publix (the day I left my debit card behind). I park for the day and spend the afternoon reading or helping James disentangle IV wires, and go downstairs for supper. Sometimes what they're serving gives me indigestion. At least the salads are good.

At night the trip goes again. I still walk the dog, but now the activity is now a shower and fresh underwear. A few nights the three of  us have sat down to watch Lassie. I take my pills and fill water and food dishes, and have exactly five dark chocolate kisses. When I get back it is ten o'clock and I have to be let in by security. The first few days they didn't say anything; now they interrogate who I am and where I am going.

I am mostly exhausted. My back hurts; no matter which way I sleep on this couch-bed it is uncomfortable. The pillows are terrible. I need three. At least there is a "bed" and pillows; I remember James sitting up when I went for my thyroid surgery. The nurses and the techs are all "swell."

James' kidney function has not gone down to where they want it. His creatitine is stuck at 3.8. So tomorrow they are doing the heart catherization with the lowest level of dye they can and they have been prepping him with saline solution and some other drugs, including something that apparently tastes like "a fart in your mouth." Take that as you will.

It's bedtime. Wish him luck tomorrow.

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» Friday, July 15, 2016
We Live in Interesting Times
Well, this won't be a long entry, but it will be a frustrating one.

You remember James' backache? Monday morning it was gone, and he went off to work while I stayed home and teleworked while the new air conditioner was installed. I kept Tucker back in the dining room and Snowy next to me, and, except for Snowy walling his eyes as the big framework of the old A/C and the big framework of the new A/C exchanged places, the process was painless. I had the thermostat on 68 until the technicians came and even though the install wasn't done until two, the temp in the house was only 75. The tech complimented me on the house insulation!

James got home at 5:30 to find the house quietly cool. He went into the bedroom to change and I warmed up the chicken and dumplings from Sprouts. I was just serving it to him, sitting in his recliner, when he looked up at me with a peculiar expression. "My chest is tight again," he said. Oh, no, not the pneumonia again. And then he added, "And my upper arms hurt."

Excuse my language, but...oh, fuck. Ten minutes of Twilight hurtling through the streets brought us to the emergency room at Wellstar.

I'm not going to give a play-by-play. This time James' heart was indeed the culprit and we did not spend the entire night in the waiting room after the EKG results came up. (Even I could tell his heartbeat was irregular by looking at the strip.) We were in the back by early evening, where they told us James had an infection and they IV'd him with two bags of antibiotic) and James got transported to Northside Hospital about 4 a.m., at which time I stumbled home, took Tucker out, and then got the three of us to bed and showed up back at Northside around 10 a.m. James was already in a bed in the cardiac unit.

The usual procedure when this happens is for the heart patient to have a catherization when he/she arrives. James couldn't have one because his kidneys were on the blink. He had an irregular kidney result the last time he had bloodwork done, and now he had a creatitine (sp?) score of 5 when it's usually a 1. The "muscle strain" diagnosed at Kaiser on Friday was probably a warning message from his kidneys. The swelling in his legs which I first ascribed to the kidney infection, was a sign of fluid building up from the problem in his heart and the kidneys have been racing to keep up.

So before they can do the cath the fluid has to be flushed out and his kidneys back to close to normal because the dye used in the cath procedure can mess with the kidneys. He was on IV saline solution until yesterday and now is taking something called Lasix which is a super diuretic. He's terribly frustrated and depressed because we can't go home at least until Tuesday (that's the least; we still don't know). I stay here all night, then go to the house in the morning, wake up the critters, take Tucker for his walk, eat breakfast (it's too expensive to eat every meal in the cafeteria), spend time talking to Snowy and putting the TV on for him, do little things like wash a small load of clothes at a time, then grab some lunch and come back. We have some friends watching the house, so I stay until the traffic dies down, then go back home, walk Tucker again, take a shower and change undies, sit around and talk to Tucker and Snowy and try to play with Tucker (but he is undone and mainly wants to be cuddled instead), and then finally drive back to the hospital. Brand new A/C and we can't even enjoy it.

Bid problem is that James really hasn't had a good night's sleep since Sunday night. Last night he had galloping insomnia and I did everything I could--talked about boring stuff, you know, like baseball, golf, the Property Brothers, shoe stores, and the FAR. I even tried reading the FAR to him (now that will put you out like a light). The only thing I didn't try was Vogon poetry... He says he slept maybe an hour. I fell asleep I guess about four and woke at 7:30 when the thundering hordes came through. How you are expected to rest and get well in a hospital I don't know. I remember my surgery in 1974 and the soft-footed nurses in white dresses and caps who quietly took your pulse and changed your meds if you needed and the lights stayed down at night and by the time visiting hours were over at St. Joseph's or Our Lady of Fatima you could hear a pin drop. Now it's like a freaking parade, people walking in at all hours for blood tests, this test, that test, to weigh you, and a monitor for your vital signs that is lit up like a Christmas tree, and every visit they have a rolling computer screen or they pop on these stupid overhead fluorescent lights that could be used to light up the stage for the latest hit musical. During my mad awake state last night I fantasized about getting a slingshot and rocks and shooting out every single fripping one of them.

The nurses and the assistants here have all been uniformly swell so far. Our favorite is Hannah, who makes Strawberry Shortcake's bright and sunny personality look like Eeyore on a bad day. She is absolutely adorable. One of the other nurses told us Hannah once had to wake up a doctor in the middle of the night and all he asked was "Who was that adorable young woman who woke me up this morning?" If someone else had done it, the nurse commented, they would have been yelled at.

Anyway, they have tried a couple of sleeping potions on him, including one he uses at home, but none has worked, so tonight he is supposed to get Ambien. I know part of the reason he isn't sleeping is because he is apprehensive. Every time he has had chest pain before it turned out to be muscle stress or something else like the pneumonia. This has been a real blow, especially since after the sinus and UT infection two months ago he has been eating more salads and drinking less soda, and we have never eaten extravagantly anyway. No butter, olive oil and sesame oil instead and that sprayed on, light salt...there's only been James' weakness for gravies (which I personally can do without). Usually when we go out to eat we take most of it home.

I don't know how we are going to manage restaurants. They are all oversalted lately, and we have given up several over the years, most recently Fresh2Order, because their stuff has just gotten so abominably salty.

And now he has fallen asleep during Jeopardy. I will have to leave soon, as the traffic is finally clear.



» Sunday, July 10, 2016
Backs to the Fore

It's been a lackluster day. James awoke in pain, tried sleeping on the heating pad, then finally got up to sit in a straight-backed chair. I walked the dog. Did the grocery shopping, coming home feeling rather queasy and with a stomachache. Probably subconsciously dreading tomorrow and yet another damn debt. (It is no longer subconscious and I'm still queasy.)

Couldn't do much for James, so spent the afternoon watching two episodes of Wild Britain (the presenter has a soothing voice and I thought it might lull James, now in the recliner, to sleep). Instead, after the second one, he went back to the computer and I fell asleep. Woke up in time to watch two episodes of The Wild Wild West, one with Artemus Gordon as the main character for a change, and the second "The Night of the Returning Dead," one of my favorites, with Sammy Davis Jr (as Jeremiah, what today we might call an "animal whisperer") and Peter Lawford.

I'd brought home soup for lunch and we had a Hormel dinner (beef tips in gravy) over spaetzle for dinner, with a Hostess cupcake chaser. Watched some of the Olympic trials, then got bored and put on Waking Sleeping Beauty, a documentary about how the Disney Animation division found its legs again in the 1980s after The Black Cauldron failed (actually, I kinda like BC, although I was disappointed that Hayley Mills did not voice Eilonwy as was originally announced), through The Lion King. It was comprised not of interviews of "talking heads," as Leonard Maltin noted at the end, but of footage filmed at the time, which was fascinating: Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy Disney Jr, etc. Loved the animators' sketches of some of the events that happened.

Poor James has pretty much been sitting with a heating pad all day. He says he is going to work tomorrow with it.

If all this hasn't been "fun" enough and tomorrow going to be a nightmare, I found out at Kroger this morning that they no longer have levothroid on their generic 4/10 drug list. So I will have to go to Kaiser for refills from now on. Thanks heaps for nothing, Kroger.

(Yep, no longer just queasy; now dinner's coming up on me...ugh.)

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» Saturday, July 09, 2016
Nothing Re-Mark-Able

It's been one of those off-again, on-again days. The "on" part was a nice morning (albeit early) to go to the Hallmark ornament premiere. We were going to sleep until 6:45, but nature screamed at 6:30. Wish nature would let me get some sleep.

We ended up getting there ten minutes early, and once inside didn't buy all that much. James got the X-Wing from The Force Awakens and the Lockheed Vega (the F1-6 won't be out until October). I got the new Twelve Days of Christmas (the goose this year) ornament, the winter garden ornament to go in my winter village, the Harry Potter minis to go on the library tree (could have lived without the sorting hat and the Snitch, but wanted Hedwig), the Father Christmas reindeer to go with the woodland tree and its woodland Santas, the Hallowe'en owl, and I had to get that Hammond organ that reminded me so of fifth grade! (It plays a neat gospel song, too!) Noticed they have re-released the 64 Crayola box ornament from 2013. I have mine sitting under the pen/paintbrush holder on my drafting table.

The only other one I want is the pair of foxes and they aren't out until October. James looked at the gold Enterprise and passed on it; he'd rather have something that looked like the real thing.

We stopped at Sprouts before heading home, getting some meat and a container of soup for supper on Monday night, since the last thing we want on a day when we'll be without air conditioning half the day is to light the stove. Plus we stopped at Bernhard's to get a couple of desserts for next week.

James went off to his club meeting soon after we arrived home. I thought about going out, and then said screw it; I didn't want to go out in the sun. I fripping hate the sun and loathe summer with all my heart.

Instead I finished cleaning out the bathtub downstairs. We have been using it to store water for emergencies, but most of the washed and sterilized milk jugs had cracked in the past few years and were empty. I ended up with only three intact and one of those is cracked and leaking. The other water is in juice bottles, which are apparently made of stronger plastic. Last week I put some in the laundry room. First I swept and washed the floor in the bathroom, then put the remainder of the intact bottles behind the toilet and next to the walls, and then finally I scrubbed out the tub. Now we can get in there to change the light bulb (which is in a waterproof fixture over the tub) so you won't have to pee in Stygian darkness, and put in a new shower curtain that won't block the light from the fixture.

Satisfied, I came upstairs and made the bed and tidied up around the master bath, then settled on the sofa to finish "Wild Hunt" (one of the ElfQuest adventures). Walked Tucker about 3:30 and not soon afterwards James arrived  home. His back was aching again, but I had asked him not to take the muscle relaxant while he was driving alone. He took it before we headed out for supper (at Panera again; I had the soup and the Chinese cashew chicken salad and realized that even with a smaller bowl of soup, that is simply too big a meal for me—I'll stick to the bowl of soup and the baguette from now on).

We went to Barnes & Noble and were wiped out within fifteen minutes: last weekend when I went alone the store was hellishly hot and I was told their A/C was broken and a new one was coming in on Tuesday. Well, there's apparently some kind of A/C running now, but very faintly and it was still hellishly hot in there. I feel terribly sorry for the employees! I can leave, they can't. Anyway, I bought Art in the Blood and then kept an eye on James on the way home; he said he felt like the medicine for his back was starting to kick in finally (over ninety minutes later).

He's pretty much been half asleep for the rest of the night, Tucker didn't want to go for a walk tonight because some asshat is still shooting off cherry bombs, and my left knee is giving me fits. I wish it would rain and get it over with! The only thing of note tonight was watching the very first Keeping Up Appearances, which I don't think I've ever seen. There is a different actress as Rose and it sounded as if Sheridan was going to join a terrorist group! Very different from his later persona.

In any case, I had only six hours sleep last night and don't care if it's 10:30 on a Saturday night: I'm going off to bed!

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» Friday, July 08, 2016
This Not Better Be the New Typical
Spending money in big amounts makes me crazy, even if it's for something as necessary as an air conditioner. Especially when the price is twice what it was six years ago when yet another air conditioner needed replacing.

Maybe it's why I didn't sleep. Or it was my clogged nose which kept me awake most of the night because I'd wake up after breathing through my mouth and everything from my lips down to my throat dried out and I couldn't take a breath. When it was four o'clock and I'd slept less than an hour, I finally gave up, called in sick, and then tried to get some more sleep. I was awake, however, until James got up and went to work (six a.m.), after which exhaustion finally conked me in the head and I did sleep, even though I was tossing and turning.

I got up groggily at 9:30 for three reasons: Tucker needed a walk before it got any warmer, I needed to cancel an appointment, and, most importantly, the phone rang. It was James. Apparently he'd been suffering from a severe backache since 2 a.m. (the one hour of the night I did end up sleeping) and had already taken four naproxen and six ibuprofin. The advice nurse at Kaiser said he'd taken the limit of OTC painkillers for the day and needed to go to urgent care. And he was not to drive himself just in case they needed to give him major drugs. James said he wanted to work a few more hours to at least get five or six hours in.

So I walked the dog, cancelled the appointment, ate breakfast because my stomach was growling, and then my thoughts turned happily to going back to bed until about noon, when I figured James would be home.

Except I was just heading that way when the garage door went up.

Turned out the back pain was getting worse now that the ibuprofin was wearing off. So instead of heading to bed I was dressing and headed to Kaiser at Town Center.

We spent about three hours there. The nurse examined James' back and the motion of his leg. She didn't think it was a spinal problem. They tested his urine for kidney problems and that came up blank, so, eliminating the other factors it could only be muscular. As always, tell the doctor your back hurts and eventually they stick you with muscle relaxants and send you home. It happened once again.

So I guess it was a good thing I was home sick, or I would have had to leave work anyway.

By the time we left Kaiser it was well after two and James' blood sugar was down to 52. So we stopped next door at Panera and had lunch, then came home. By now I was in a sleepy fog and after I walked the dog—oh, then the utter bliss of more sleep! James took the muscle relaxant and it sent him off to dreamland as well. I only roused because Snowy was calling for someone in a loud, plaintive chirp. I wobbled out there to find Tucker sacked out in James' computer chair. Poor Snowy was the only one awake. I spoke to him awhile, then went back into our bedroom to sleep, but I couldn't get into doze mode again, so instead I came out to watch the news and all the sad activity in Dallas.

Much, much later, not until seven, did we rouse out of sleep torpor and go to Firehouse Subs for supper.

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» Thursday, July 07, 2016
Life...Don't Talk to Me About Life
I'd been feeling kind of run-down all week, so I slept a little later on Thursday, and just worked through lunch, eating lunch at my desk. It was an unremarkable morning, except that I was feeling a bit feverish. I took my temperature at least once, but that wasn't the cause. Finally about two or three o'clock—the time was melting together at that point, I happened to look at the thermostat as I went to the bathroom.

78°? What the...

To my horror, the air conditioner was off. I mean, completely off. The thermostat downstairs was completely blank; the one upstairs was still working because it has a battery backup. I went down in the garage and checked to see if the breakers had popped. No, the ones labeled "A/C" were fine. (It turned out everything was dead because a breaker had snapped, but it was the one labeled "furnace." I had forgotten the blower is actually on the furnace circuit; the A/C circuit just runs the compressor.)

So I called up our maintenance provider and they sent someone over, who arrived just as James got home (in the meantime, I put every fan in the house on high). Turned out our freon was down to two pounds (it's supposed to be five). We could get a charge, but the technician suspected we had a leak and it might last a day, or a week. He thinks what happened is the unit came on and, because the freon was low, the breaker snapped.

So rather than next spring, as I'd planned, we're going to get a new unit on Monday. Two stage instead of one stage, with an air filtration system (for our allergies), a remote control for the thermostat, and they are going to look into why the air flow in the master bath is about half of what comes out of the registers in the kitchen and the dining room (so that in the winter we freeze in there). They're also going to put a larger register in there. He thinks the two-stage system will also solve the problem of when we put the heat on downstairs in the winter, it gets cold upstairs. And vice versa when the A/C is on.

Damn. I didn't want to do it now, but in the spring when we had a little more money saved. Anyway, put the down payment on my credit card so I get something out of this in Amazon points; then I'll just pay the credit card off with the money put aside from the tax return.

Talk about life is what happens when you're making other plans.

At least it was cool enough to sleep tonight. With the additional freon (which we get a refund on when the new unit is installed) it went from 81 to 75 by bedtime.



» Tuesday, July 05, 2016
Another Writing Gig
I'm the guest blogger today at Joanna Wilson's "Christmas TV History":

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» Monday, July 04, 2016
D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T, See What It Means to Me
James worked today--albeit he got to telework—so this is not the blog entry for riotous festive Fourth of July tales. My biggest activity today was trying to get Tucker to go outside. The pops, bangs and booms from around the neighborhood have Mister Sure-I'll-Take-on-That-German-Shepherd! petrified. This morning wasn't so bad, and I managed to get him to pee during the late afternoon, but by dark he curled up in a tight ball either at my feet, or James' feet or in James' recliner and stayed there. If you tried to coax him out he sat, shivering, with his left paw up, looking like those old big-eyed dog paintings from the 1960s. I tried taking him out before bed, after the neighbors had finished burning ground fireworks, but no dice.

I could have gone to Michael's with a coupon or JoAnn with same, but I find I am so tired of driving I didn't want to. There's an old joke about Rhode Islanders: that if they have to drive any longer than an hour they get a motel, but my Dad wasn't like that. He loved to go places, and I used to, too. But after 28 years of Atlanta traffic I am flat burned out.

So I did minimal tidying up (I would have vacuumed, but that would have interrupted James, although he only had two calls, one in the morning and an interminable one in the afternoon). Mostly I watched television or read my magazines and my book about Betsy Ross. Had Alistair Cooke's America on in the morning: "Making a Revolution" and "Inventing a Nation" for the obvious reasons, and then "Gone West" just because I like it. I switched on John Williams albums after that—"By Request" and "Music of America" and one other—but we didn't watch 1776 until after James had cooked supper. We had some, unfortunately tough, steak I got on sale and excellent corn on the cob, with pumpkin bread (how can you get more American than pumpkin?) from the Farmer's Market with whipped cream on top.

It was over just before the Boston Pops concert, which was, once again after a few years' absence, being broadcast on CBS, who managed to turn the whole event into rubbish. Instead of broadcasting the entire concert, they aired two comedy show reruns (including the loathsome 2 Broke Girls) and joined the "1812 Overture" in progress, which means we heard the last few notes and the howitzers being shot off. CBS doesn't think that's all there is to the piece, do they? Otherwise we heard the Boston Pops perform only twice, once during the sing-a-long and the other during "Stars and Stripes Forever." The rest of the time they played second fiddle to some pop stars, Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, and a supposed "country" group called Big Little Town. Jonas and Lovato wailed their way through "America the Beautiful"; otherwise they did a medley of their hits. If they weren't wailing so loud, I would have fallen asleep before the fireworks, which were brilliant—literally, as there was much use of a bright chrome yellow this year mixed with red fireworks, producing extraordinarily orange smoke—with a dreadful soundtrack: all loud songs, only one patriotic one ("God Bless America" yelled as loudly as the singer could manage), no soft ballads, no movie music, no John Williams pieces. Complained bitterly on CBS's Facebook page as well as the Pops' page. Some folks blaming Keith Lockhart when it's totally not his fault; probably CBS agreed to broadcast if they could pimp their pop tarts. All CBS needs now is a pimp suit and a pimpmobile. What tripe!

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» Sunday, July 03, 2016
Pre-Fourth of July Frog

I have these stupid nagging dreams; I guess they are intended to remind me I am behind on something or need to be prodded to proceed on something. Last night's was a beaut: we were traveling with friends and I was always behind. At one point I had missed breakfast because I had been doing something else and now everyone was leaving and I was starving. (I woke up at this point and was actually hungry.) In another section of the dream, we were staying in a house that was an old Victorian house that our friends (no one I knew) were remodeling. The house was a mess; a warren of small rooms and peeling wallpaper and water damage, but in places some spots of real beauty, like original wallpaper that was in good shape that they were going to save, and a bedroom that had been a woman's bedroom and had a headboard made of cerise satin, like a 1930s film star might have. Another bedroom was also a woman's bedroom, and it was so big she had had a big, curved partition made at one end where she had a big washstand and bowl on one side and a reclining sofa on the other, with swinging doors to get inside. The final scene in this dream was James and I with the dog, and him warning me to keep Tucker out of the dog poop that we were standing next to. Bizarre.

Not to mention that I was interrupted at least twice waking up because my nose was clogged and I'd come awake because I couldn't breathe because the inside of my mouth had dried out.

At eight o'clock I heard James stirring. He'd already changed out of his night clothes, tested his sugar (he was at 59!), put the towels in the hamper...I looked at him out of glazed eyes (we'd gone to bed about 12:30) and asked him why on earth he wasn't asleep. I can't sleep, he said. I told him he wasn't trying hard enough. I felt him lay back down and then went right back off to sleep, and there we stayed until almost eleven.

No way we were going to "beat the Baptists" to Kroger, so we took our time and ate breakfast before heading out.

We ended up just going to Kroger. It was bad enough taking Tucker out earlier, but now it was the ninth ring of Hell, The sun feels like it could strip paint off your car—or like the heat lamps they use at the grocery store for the rotisserie chickens. You can only put your hand in for so long before you feel your skin scorching. We bought Those Damn Bananas, burritos, some soup for lunch, and a few other things and just came home. We ended up lolling in the living room watching Holmes on Homes. I had a 60% off JoAnn coupon and a 40% entire purchase coupon for Michaels (which I usually love because I buy little inexpensive thing for craft projects all at once) and I didn't even want to go out for those.

About four o'clock we roused ourselves from our torpor and went downstairs and finally killed the frog.

You know there's that saying that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning then nothing worse can happen all day? On the decluttering Usenet group I used to be on, we used to call any chore we didn't want to do "a frog." Well, we've had all the Christmas decoration containers and the winter decoration containers and the Easter box and the spring decoration stacked up in maze fashion in the library since after Christmas so we could reinforce the mounting of the shelves they were stored on. I haven't been able to shelve the completed books I took down there because all the holiday containers were in the way.

A couple of years back I related that one of the wire shelving units in our master closet pulled away from the wall and collapsed. It was pretty overloaded with winter coats, all my jeans, and James' dress pants, plus the suitcases on the shelf on top. When we did the repair we realized the installers had just missed fastening the shelves into the studs. I checked in the downstairs storage closet and none of the shelving supports were set into studs either, and some of the boxes have ceramics in them and are heavy. For the past ten years the shelves have held the containers okay, but I've been worried since the closet incident. So we installed four supports in the studs, two for each shelving unit. We couldn't put any supports into the two studs on the longer shelf, the ones closest to the closet door because the drill kept hitting something hard. We thought it might be metal put in to guide the electrical conduits for the switch and electrical plug on the other side of the wall in the garage. So we put in those two extra supports using wall anchors. Not as good as studs, but better than nothing. Then James helped me replace the sections of the Christmas tree and the containers. The three heaviest containers are still on the floor because it hurts James' back to get them down anymore.

We finished at six and had supper about seven: shrimp scampi over spaghetti. Should have thawed another package of shrimp; we only had nine each, and these were only medium sized. We scarfed all the spaghetti, and I had some of the rest of the scampi sauce on bread. Later we had some ice cream for dessert.

We watched part three of Sons of Liberty, which I recorded last year not realizing I started with chapter three of five. Not sure what I think of it. It was a "dramatic presentation" based on the events leading to the American Revolution, not a documentary, and some people were not happy with the casting or the "sexing up" of the story. For instance they had Sam Adams as a young handsome athletic man (I can't think about Samuel Adams without remembering Johnny Tremain's description of him—or maybe it was Rab Silsbee's description—as "a dog fox with a fat pullet in his mouth") rather than a greying chronic debtor. I did like the way they showed Boston as a small town, a working town, not the bright set-like place Disney gave us in the film version of Tremain. It looks like a working port, and the workingmen looked particularly grimy as they should. Some people took umbrage with the portrayal of Franklin in the bathtub lusting over the pretty ladies, but I gather from my own reading on Benjamin Franklin that he indeed did love to spend long hours in the bathtub, attended by young ladies, and he was quite the roué.

Tried taking Tucker out before the sunset was even gone from the sky, but even encouragement from the little boy down the street didn't help; he wouldn't pee at all. It's been popping and cracking and booming out there since way before the sun went down.

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» Saturday, July 02, 2016
I'm Melting, Dammit

Hadn't been to the Farmer's Market in months, and Tucker needed bedtime cookies, so we struggled out of bed this morning at eight. Tucker was immensely puzzled at not being taken for a walk until he realized he was going for a ride in the truck, and then he wouldn't even take the time to pee. He wanted in the cab now! And he spent the time there standing on my leg intently peering out the window.

It was already hot as we trudged into Marietta Square. The market had just opened and was already crowded. Lots of dogs today: corgis, clipped poodles, a Bernese-cross, a big Doberman, and more, including a shy dachshund who sorely puzzled Tucker, who wanted to play. We bought scones, cucumbers, two ears of corn, a loaf of pumpkin bread, and the dog biscuits, talked to the ex-chicken salad guy, and bought some home-made limeade to drink. Yum!

After putting our purchases up at home, we were going to get gasoline at Costco and then have lunch. But it turned out our membership had expired and we had to leave without filling up (wish they'd let you re-up at the pump!). So we were at the door of Longhorn at eleven when they opened, gratefully enjoying the air conditioning because it was already broiling hot; by the time we'd finished at the Farmer's Market I was soaked at the back from neck to ankles. We both had 6-ounce steak with salad sides, and a "Texas tonion" for an appetizer. (I like this adaptation of onion rings much better than Outback's "bloomin' onion," which was disappointing the one time we had it.)

James really needed the gas and I was going to need to fill up, too, so after eating we went back to Costco, where, miracles of miracles, a handicapped parking space was open. We bought milk (reveling in the chill of the dairy case), Jamaican meat patties, mandarin oranges, Skinny Pop, Breathe Right strips, more omeprazole, and season two of Shaun the Sheep. The place was massively crowded with people stocking up for the Fourth, but the lines were running pretty efficiently. At checkout we re-upped our membership and then we could finally buy gas and come  home.

For the afternoon I put on The Right Stuff, and we enjoyed that until it was time to get dressed to go to the Hungry Ear Coffee House to see Louis Robinson, Bruce Gilbert, and Bob Bakert perform. Stopped for a couple of burgers on the way, and by the bookstore to spend the 15 percent off coupons we forgot last night. Were almost late to the performance because I had to wait ten minutes for the customer service person to dig the book I wanted out of the stockroom. For heaven's sake, don't say "the book is available" at a certain store unless you have it out.

(I feel bad for the employees at the Akers Mill store—I noticed it was terribly hot in there yesterday and when I inquired about it while checking out tonight the cashier told me they will have no air conditioning until Tuesday, when they install a new unit. Good grief! Give those employees some fans! And time and a half! No A/C! In 95°F heat!)

Had a good time at Hungry Ear except that I was still warm and the heat had just hit poor James all at once; he spent half the concert with his eyes closed trying to relax. They played some great stuff, including a James Taylor piece and a rock'n'roll singalong at the end. Louis did a couple of his standards plus a song he hadn't played in eight years, and Bruce had a nice song about jazz plus one that he did the music for and Louis did the lyrics and it was sweet and very wistful.

And then it was home to drag Tucker outside again. Things were really popping and banging tonight and I had to keep at him just to get him to pee. I don't want him to be frightened, but honestly, he needs to relieve himself outside. Otherwise it's not healthy for any of us. We're going to have to spend another $400 at least to get the carpet cleaned again.

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» Friday, July 01, 2016
Work and Play

Not one more Friday off without something useful getting done! So I donned my most tattered duster to work in and scrubbed all the floors upstairs, cleaned both upstairs toilets, wiped off the sinks countertops in the master bath, put up the huge bag of toilet paper we bought, and tried to clean up the constantly overflowing odd papers that seem to always be around. This after breakfast and dog walking.

By then it was after noon, so I decided to go out and enjoy myself a little. I stopped by the Smyrna library to check out the perpetual book sale. All I picked up was a John Ringo book for James. Then I went by Barnes & Noble. Was excited to see that Bonnie MacBird's Sherlock Holmes novel Art in the Blood was out in paperback, but was disappointed to find that the illustrations that she showed us at 221B Con were not included. (Found out later the illustrations are only in the deluxe edition. Rats.) Also noted that The Secret Life of Pets posable action figures don't include the budgie. Well, grump!

Had one last stop: Michaels, to buy a set of calligraphy pens, but by then it was after two and I was starving. So not to spend a lot of money I bought a grilled cheese sandwich at the QT gas station's new "Kitchen." Employees at the QT were great; sandwich sat on my stomach for hours afterwards. Wish Cumberland Mall had the teriyaki skewers like at Town Center Mall. A little chicken would have hit the spot.

When I got home I walked Tucker again, and that was a bad idea, because fifteen minutes out in the heat creamed me. I tried watching Lassie, but after one episode gave up completely, swigged some water and ibuprofin, and fell asleep until James came home.

For supper we went to the West Cobb Diner. The sandwich was still making me sick so I basically ate my salad and about a quarter of my entree. I have enough turkey and dressing left over for two lunches. Then we went to the West Cobb Barnes & Noble, where I picked up something I hadn't seen at Akers Mill: the new "Just Cross Stitch." It's already time for the Christmas ornament preview!

On the way home we stopped for ice cream.

Once again had to practically drag the poor dog down the stairs. Ever since the firecrackers started up earlier in the week he does not want to go out in the dark. Unfortunately that means he's leaving little "gifts" and wet spots on the carpet, and we are running out of Urine Gone and Bed, Bath & Beyond hardly stocks it anymore.

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