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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» Saturday, December 31, 2016
Hit'n'Run Shopping
We slept in this morning, and then assembled our coupons for a quick assault. We wanted to do some errands, but not spend forever in the stores.

First we filled up my car at Kroger. It was 10:30 and the parking lot was already crazy. Arrived at Barnes & Noble along with a downfall of sleet (glad I refilled the bird feeders earlier!) which turned into rain later on. I picked up a couple of things from the clearance table and a discounted book on watercolor painting; James got some magazines and a Star Trek desk calendar. Next we skipped across the road to Bed, Bath & Beyond, where we had six coupons in imminent danger of expiring. With judicious arrangement of the coupons, we both spent about the same thing: I got two new bath mats for the bathroom since ours are fraying and one of those "scissors" to cut vegetables and meat. James got the 8 inch saucepan (we returned the ten when we got in), one of those square "copper" pans, and and bags for Tucker's "remains."

I had a wild hair and stopped at Publix on the way home. Got a baguette and hearty beef veg soup for James and chicken noodle soup for me for lunch as it remained cold and clammy without. I let him take a little nap afterwards because he'd slept badly, then we did another quick shopping assault, this time at Kroger. James gassed up the truck while I went inside ostensibly to get milk, a banana, something for my work lunch, and some of the low-salt ham for James. I stayed around the outside edge of the store and also ended up with lean ground beef, beef bits, the ham was on sale so I got two, the baby Swiss was on sale so I got more, some ricotta as a treat, a no-sugar-added apple pie, discount bows and wrapping paper, and oh-my-god, milk at 99¢/gallon!

Spent the afternoon watching New Year's specials: Burt Wolf talking about New Year customs, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and Ellery Queen's "Adventure of Auld Lang Syne," which takes place New Year's Eve of 1946.

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» Friday, December 30, 2016
You're a Rat Little Headache...
I feel like I wasted most of my last vacation day. When I got up my nose was a little stuffy and my throat scratchy. I was going to eat some mandarin orange with my breakfast and forgot after taking Tucker outside. I wasn't planning to go out today, but stay inside and get some tidying done, record stuff off the BBC, and work on finishing my Advent wreath that was supposed to be done this year. I sat down to watch a couple of the Rin Tin Tin episodes that I downloaded, which were the first two. There isn't much of an origin story in the pilot; O'Hara says they found them both in the burnt remains of a wagon train massacre, and Rinty was just a puppy. (German Shepherds didn't actually come to this country until the very late 1800s.) The second episode is similar to the Lassie story "The Whopper," where the men don't want to believe that Rusty and Rinty saw thieves after he tells them a fib. I also watched a British special called Charles Dickens and the Invention of Christmas.

While it was beautiful and blue out, albeit cold, we have rain coming in and by the time I got done with all those programs I had a headache that would have knocked out a horse. After what happened to James I am trying to avoid taking OTC painkillers, so I took a nap for an hour instead, and still had to take ibuprofin after I woke up. Instead I worked it off finishing the Advent wreath: I painted Christmas floral motifs between the candle spaces: holly, pine, cedar, and ivy. Now I just need to do the ink work.

Eventually the headache did go away.

We had supper at Uncle Maddio's, then went to Sprouts and finally Publix and still made it home by 8:30, where I finished up recording the Charles Paris mystery and started on Doctor Who. We also caught up with the last two episodes of Hawaii Five-0. Oh, crap. I know Daniel Dae Kim has a new series and I'm glad; if anyone deserves his own series, it's him! But I hope they are not going to kill off Chin Ho Kelly. ☹

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» Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Yet Another Elevator Day
You know that old saying "May you live in interesting times"? Today was "interesting."

It actually started last night. Alice had her birthday dinner last evening and of course we went. An added treat was that dinner was at Keegan's, which has great food. We sat with Jerry and Sue Lawson (the tables were arranged bistro style). I got a steak sandwich with some really nice onion rings on top and James got bangers and mash. He said the bangers were not overly salty, a plus.

For some reason, James always tells me bad things at bedtime. If he's gotten reprimanded at work, or something's gone wrong, or the doctor has told him something worrying, he always tells me at bedtime. He says this is to not ruin my evening, which is fine, but it really ruins my sleep. So it was actually normal that it was almost time to get ready for bed when he told me he had this peculiar pulling pain under his right arm and under his right shoulder blade. Oh, hell. So very calmly I shut everything off, covered Snowy, got Tucker to bed, and then started asking questions. It had started when we got home. He had no chest pressure, pain down his arms, pain in his jaw, or any of the other symptoms the cardiologist warned him to beware of. His heart was not racing, he wasn't dizzy or woozy. It didn't get worse if he moved. There was just this low-level  pain.

So he took his blood pressure (a little high, as to be expected), pulse, etc. His sugar was high, but we really hadn't eaten until eight o'clock and it wasn't even eleven. Take a shower, I said, and keep the hot water on the painful area. Huh. The pain went away. Okay, we would avoid the emergency room, but call the doctor first thing in the morning. He called in sick to work. I don't know how he slept, but I was up once an hour making sure he was breathing.

He called Kaiser at eight, got a 9:20 appointment, and went back to bed.

Anyway, the nurse asked a lot of questions, and the doctor asked even more. She made him raise his arms all different ways, pushed on them, asked a bunch of questions about when the pain appeared and what he ate, checked his heart, etc, etc. Her conclusion was what I had been hoping: she said had the pain been under the left shoulder blade she would worry, but because it was under the right, started after he ate and went away with the shower she was pretty sure it was digestive, eating something too rich too late. Of course she warned us to get help immediately if it came back and was worse than before.

Since we were out anyway, we stopped at MicroCenter on the way home. I have been thinking of a new laptop and MicroCenter had a cheap one on sale, so I wanted James' advice. We looked at the two cheap ones and they were okay (they still had DVD drives), but they were so big! Then the salesman started pushing a more expensive machine on us and I walked away. We did come home with a new router—to try to install when we dare, since we haven't had much luck the last two times—and two new keyboards. James kind of messed up his Microsoft keyboard when he tipped some soda on it. I didn't need one, but I couldn't program the buttons on my old Microsoft keyboard anymore since I upgraded to Windows 10. These are ergonomic keyboards as well, with the "camel hump" in the middle. I'm hoping it will help the pain in my wrists. All three of them were on sale. Yay.

We came home for James to relax, but he was restless and took the turkey carcass and made soup from it, adding celery and onion. I found a real treasure online: someone has posted 127 of the 164 episodes of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Even better, these are copies of the original broadcast shows (even if some have been time-compressed and Rusty sounds like a squirrel), unlike the copies that have been shown on the side channels like MeTV and CoziTV. Poor Rinty and friends have been practically eviscerated by modern syndication—first the soundtracks have been completely replaced (not just the theme song or the credit music, but all the background music, too) with more modern music that is completely inappropriate for a 1950s show, and then for some reason parts of the dialog are redubbed. Adding insult to injury, Rusty has been dubbed in by a woman! At least these butchered ones I've seen were still in black and white; the ones they show in England have been colorized as well. Ugh. Anyway, I spent all afternoon and evening downloading them. The picture isn't good on some, and one is incomplete, and another lacks the credits, but they are all watchable and just hearing the classic closing theme makes me grin.

We had soup for supper, which suited James' digestion much better.

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» Thursday, December 22, 2016
The Ups and Downs of Christmas
After kind of a melancholy Wednesday—I was doing laundry and thinking about Mom and Dad—I had a better Thursday.

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» Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The Shades of Christmas Past
Yesterday was devoted to must do's, today was supposed to be for "wanna do's." But first breakfast, a walk around the neighborhood with Tucker, and I had to finish cleaning up the spare bedroom, which looked like the aftermath of Black Friday gift wrapping. I had it tidied up except for vacuuming the carpet, and then went off for my usual Christmas tour of downtown Marietta.

I got a prime parking spot in front of the Local Exchange, which I wanted to stop at last, so first I went to look around inside Atlanta Antiques. In the back they have sound equipment, but in front there are all sorts of delightful things from the past, including two big cases of old cameras from the 1920s all the way through the 70s. I looked at a stereopticon that had slides of the life of Jesus, old postcards and Christmas cards, and old military, sports, and medical equipment. Luke the poodle wasn't there today.

Next I crossed the park to check out the ice rink and Santa's spot and the big Christmas tree, along with local school Festival of Tree winners and some romping reindeer sculptures (one wearing a tutu). I walked up to the Christmas store, but they weren't opening until noon. The Keeping Room wouldn't be open until 12:30, so I just walked on to DuPre's to spy the Christmas decorations among the antiques. I thought they weren't quite as festive as in past years, but had a happy time wandering through Depression glass, old furniture, vintage textbooks, glittering costume jewelry, teacups, lots of tchotchkes, and other neat stuff. I bought a book from 1956 called Merry Christmas, Mr. Baxter, written by Edward Streeter, who also wrote Father of the Bride. It looks like a wry comedy of manners set in New York City at Christmastime.

As my time was getting short (parking is free only for two hours), I went on to The Corner Shop (the British store), bought a Doctor Who calendar, and chatted with the lovely older lady who runs the shop with her daughter. We were mostly talking about how salty and sugary foods are today.

There is a candy store next door to The Corner Shop, so I popped in to see if they had anything sugar free. They had some taffy, so I tried getting some for James. And then I was back at the Local Exchange to get the Best Pretzels in the World, Knotty Pretzels in Zesty Italian flavor. Yum.

I was feeling a call of nature, so drove on to the main library to use their facilities. Of course I checked the stacks, and then the "for sale" books. Found a nice one called Swedish Christmas, which I actually finished today.

From the library it was only a short way to the antique market. This is another place I visit before Christmas, where choice placement of garlands, ornaments, sparkly trees, bead roping, and Christmas lights gives all the antiquities a festive air. I saw an antique cane I was kinda interested in. I'll need one eventually, and would like a unique one. But it was $90. Also saw one James might be interested in. Admired all the cool old furniture, wandered into an alcove full of nothing but old china, checked out framed antique sports programs, drooled over the furniture (they had a lovely whatnot, very sturdy and not scuffed at all), and finally found the vendor with the books and checked out their small supply of Happy Hollisters novels. One booth had Jim Shore figures for sale, and I found a darling owl wearing a "Pilgrim hat" standing next to a pumpkin. He will go perfectly with my Jim Shore turkey.

It was 2:15 and I was starving, so I quickly did a Tin Drum survey and then drove down to Cumberland Mall to get my discounted meal and read Swedish Christmas. Lastly I stopped at Barnes & Noble with one more coupon they sent through e-mail and bought A Very Vintage Christmas, which we'd seen over the weekend.

Came home to walk Tucker and then finish the vacuuming and listen to Christmas carols on TuneIn radio. James made pork chops for supper and later I put on two Christmas episodes of M*A*S*H and the two For Better or For Worse Christmas specials, The Bestest Present and A Christmas Angel.i

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» Monday, December 19, 2016
Marathon Gal
Oh, what a day...

We had a surprise yesterday when James' mom called about getting together for Christmas: now that they have a new car they suggested they come here. So we are having company on Christmas Eve. We were going to get some dark meat parts for us and a breast for Mom and Candy, but when I got up this morning and dashed to Kroger (I didn't even eat), all I could find were ginormous turkey breast and no parts. They did have small turkeys, so I got a little, 9-pound one. Also got extra dessert, more milk, and a few other things. Then I could come home, tuck away the groceries, take the dog out and have breakfast.

Next I went to cookie baking. This was not really fun. The wine didn't turn the first batch mix the proper color and it was very dry. I had to keep adding wine and since I was at the bottom of the bottle, I had to strain it through a coffee filter in case the mother came out. Then the temperatures in the oven varied wildly. This is okay for meat, but terrible for baking. The oven usually reads a little higher than the temp actually is, so I set the thermostat 25 degrees higher. When it said it was up to temp I put the cookies in, the oven thermometer read 200. Ten minutes later the oven was smoking because the bottoms of the cookies were smoking and the oven thermometer read over 400! I had to throw open the back door and put on the kitchen ceiling fan. The cookies came out burnt on the bottom and still raw at the center. The second batch came out better, but there was still smoke and the oven temp varied wildly on that set of cookies.

Once that was done, I took Tucker out for his walk, and for the next 2 1/2 hours I wrapped gifts. Some went into paper, others went into gift bags. I had to wrap at least four birthday gifts as well. I finished right before James arrived home, and resolved not to do anything more for the night except watch Christmas specials. Tonight was reserved for The Gathering, the magnificent television movie starring Ed Asner and Maureen Stapleton.

And then I tottered outside with Tucker and it was bedtime.

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» Sunday, December 18, 2016
Rainy Without and Warm Within

What woke me up this morning was warmth. During the night it had gone up to 67°F and by eight-thirty those nice cozy blankets from last night were scratchy and hot. Sigh. So I went into the bathroom, where I could just see the sun rising over the pretty-much-naked trees in the back yard, and was scrolling through my phone for a few minutes when I looked out again and it was as dark as twilight and the trees were lashing back and forth. The front was coming through with a vengeance for about five minutes, then it got light again. Unfortunately it also started raining so I couldn't re-fill the bird feeders and Tucker went outside, did his thing quickly on the lawn, and then dashed back inside.

I had an eggnog and some oatmeal for breakfast, with James having eggs, and then we headed out for what turned out to be a long day. First we stopped at the new Publix so James could check it out and we could pick out some peppermint tea. They were still giving out samples and we had some kind of chicken pilaf with a raspberry vinegar salad, and also some salami and crackers and cream cheese with brown sugar sauce poured on top of it. We picked up some lamb, some ground turkey, something for Christmas Eve dessert, more wraps so James can make more breakfast burritos to get him past the new year, and this and that, including some soup for dinner.

I still had a 25 percent off Barnes & Noble coupon and a ten dollar gift card, and James had a 30 percent off coupon, and both had to be used in the store. So we decided to go into Buckhead, which meant a nice ride down the snazzy lengths of West Paces Ferry Road. This has always been a wealthy neighborhood, but they've been knocking down the former posh houses to build even posher homes, "McMansions" as it were. One even looks like an Italian palazzio. All of them have mailboxes swathed with fresh Christmas greens which must come from Very Expensive Florists and most are traditionally decorated with wreaths, red bows, white candles, and green garlands. The forecast was for rain all day and it was indeed misty and grey, and, as the hours went by, getting colder: it was 67 when I got up and at eleven it was already down in the 50s.

We had a peppermint cocoa when we got there, sharing a piece of what was labeled as gingerbread loaf, but what was very lightly gingerbread and had citron in it. Then we hit the magazine racks. I found the magazine I was looking for, the winter edition of "This England," also a big thick magazine from "Country Life" called "Forever England," the new issue of "Breathe," and the January "Country Sampler." I found the book I wanted to get, but James looked around and was dissatisfied with the books he saw. He thought about getting a game, but Buckhead didn't have a good selection of games. Because it was raining, he hadn't taken his power chair, and was looking exhausted from the pain of walking, but we paid for our stuff and then drove home via the Akers Mill store, which usually does have a good selection of games. This time he couldn't find anything that pleased him, but he saw a new book there about the Pacific theater in World War II and bought that. I picked up the book I wanted at a good savings, a beautiful art book about Beatrix Potter. Everyone remembers her for Peter Rabbit and her children's books, and perhaps for preserving a large part of the Lake District in England and keeping it from developers, but not many people know she drew botanical models that were so good they were used in textbooks. And half the time she wasn't credited because textbook publishers didn't want to give a woman credit!

By now the mist and the damp were deep into our bones and it was after three and we were tired and achy. We decided to just come home and eat. We had the soup we picked up at Publix this morning (I picked more noodles and chicken and veg than soup, and then took most of the soup so James could substitute no-salt broth in his bowl; a good thing I did, too, as it was very salty) and James made grilled cheese sandwiches. I put all the four Timmy and Lassie Christmas episodes on while we ate, and we had two of our gingerbread boys from Books-a-Million for dessert.

Later on we watched the news, and then the saga of Ralphie Parker and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun in A Christmas Story, and finally the new Christmas episode of Alaska: the Last Frontier. This was a great episode. They did a "white elephant" Christmas—calling it "white rabbit" instead—and there were some killer gifts. Shane made a stone axe which Eivan ended up with, Eve (and little Finlay) made blackcurrant wine, Charlotte made an old model of the Kilcher original homestead, Eivan made a samurai sword and scabbard, Atz did a basket sculpture with an old pelvis bone...just real cool stuff, and it was funny, too.

And after all that, the weekend is over, and...damn, I have to go back to the grocery store! My baking powder is outdated!

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» Saturday, December 17, 2016
Merry Friendmas!

We had a relatively quiet morning, and a good thing, because the rest of the day zipped by at top speed. Despite going to bed late, James woke early and went off to do his morning routine and walk the dog. I tried to sleep a little longer, but merely dozed. When I got up I had breakfast and then had to wrap a couple of gifts for this afternoon: the "wizard college" print I got for Aubrey Spivey's graduation gift and Juanita's retirement gift (a plaque that said "I'm not retired. I'm just starting" and a National Parks coloring book). I didn't have any cards, but thought I still had a greeting card generating computer program. Nope. Just made two simple ones with graphics and lettering instead. Looks like I should buy some card software.

We arrived at the Outback Steakhouse in Kennesaw in good time by coming through the back, and good thing, too, as Barrett Parkway is not only lined with stores that are crowded at Christmas, but Town Center Mall is down the road apiece and the road looked like one big parking lot, and had a great lunch. James and I decided to split today's coupon special, which was a huge ribeye with two sides. I ate the potato and he had mushrooms and we both carved off the steak, which arrived at the table on the bone and looked like something the Flintstones would order for dinner. (James took a picture of me gnawing the meat off it.) We brought half of it home, but I won't order a ribeye again; they are just too fatty. I was re-tasting it for the rest of the night. Aubrey had some cool gifts, including a beautiful dragon scarf. After everyone had finished eating, most of us repaired to the house to have cake and talk some more. Jesse was telling us about his new job, and we watched Cinnamon the dog play with the cat, who was batting at her face with sheathed claws.

We headed home about six so I could walk Tucker before we left for the Atlanta Radio Theatre performance. It was a very strange day weatherwise, as it had started out cold and was actually getting warmer as the day progressed. As we left it was just a little foggy and much warmer than it had been in the morning—nearly 20 degrees higher.

"An Atlanta Christmas" was being performed on our side of town this year. Previously it had been out in Avondale for many years (we actually used to enjoy that ride, as we got to see the decorations in downtown Avondale) and then for the last few years all the way down south in Stockbridge at a very nice venue that the GPS continued to misdirect us to (the only problem being southbound traffic on I-75). This year it was at the Good Acting Studio right next to the Masonic Lodge just north of downtown Marietta, about a 12-minute drive from us.

It was a great performance as always, with a bunch of my favorites including "O Tannenbaum" (a.k.a. "Crazy Uncle Richard's World War I Christmas letter") and "Are You Lonely Tonight" (two lonely people meet at the office party) and even "The Legend of the Poinsettia" ("It's red!"), plus a new story called "Role of a Lifetime," about a 1950s actor who has a temporary position playing Santa Claus and is faced with the sobbing wish of a little girl who just wants her daddy back from Korea for Christmas. They finished up with the rollicking  "A Blue Hanukkahmas Carol," the story of a stranded young man, and four very peculiar ghosts.

Then we came home and relaxed to Christmas music until bedtime.

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» Friday, December 16, 2016
Top of the Eighteenth

Today was the first day of eighteen anticipated days of leave and weekends and holiday festivities. If this is an example of the rest of the time, I'm going to have to go back to work to get some rest. 😀

I did take the opportunity to sleep late, then had breakfast and walked the dog. It wasn't quite as cold as yesterday morning, but the wind still had a knife edge. Bits of cloud from the upcoming rain already hanging out against a bright blue sky. Now, I had one gift package that had not gone out in last weekend's mass mailing because I needed to add something to it. Plus another gift that had not gone out because we hadn't decided what we would buy. So today I needed to go complete those two gifts. Accordingly, I went to Kroger to pick up these missing pieces. I also found a nice steak and some chops, bought milk and yogurt, and a couple of gift cards. Well, I picked up one of the missing pieces. I was in line and had checked out when I realized I hadn't picked up the one I actually went there for! So I just did a U-turn after leaving the cashier, went back for what I needed, and got back into line. At least I could use the express lane this time.

I brought the groceries home, put up the perishables, finished the packages, then drove to the post office and got the items off. Now I could have a little fun.

Well, sorta. I had coupons and had to do some other errands first. I stopped at CVS on the outbound with one to pick up Breathe Rights, and at Petco with another to get Tucker more dog food and of course I bought him more treats. I had to stop to say hi to the budgies, and bought Snowy a new grit perch.

Okay, now for some fun: I had a great coupon for Barnes & Noble. I didn't end up with a book, though, because by then it was 1:30 and I was hungry enough to eat a book rather than read it. I had a cup of clam chowder at the café and read Facebook (which included such gems as this), then couldn't decide between two books and bought a cross-stitch magazine instead. James has a 30 percent off; maybe he'll want to go to Buckhead on Sunday.

Fed the car at Costco, then checked out a Dollar Tree. I usually get a cheap ($1.50) 5"x5" calendar from Michaels to keep track of my paydays and what I pay on them, tacked up next to my computer. Michaels doesn't seem to have small calendars this year. I tried at Kmart last week, since I'd seen them there previously, and they had none. Aubrey said she saw some at a Dollar Tree. The one near our house looked like a bomb—or at least unsupervised small children—had tramped through it. No small calendars. Tried Dollar General; saw no calendars at all.

(Oh, also stopped at the new Publix on the way home. I went there at lunchtime for the grand opening day and picked up a bunch of twofers and had samples. Supposedly Milk Bones were on BOGO, but there were no signs up. I talked to one of the managers and he gave them to me for the discount prices. Another manager asked me as I headed for the register if I'd looked for something that I didn't see. I suggested Davidson eggs, of course. Anyway, I noticed that on the deli soups they said they would carry chicken and wild rice soup on Friday, so I stopped by there today. And they had none. Grump.)

Came home to walk Tucker again, drink two big glasses of milk (the clam chowder was salty), and wait for James. We had supper at Giovanni's, certainly an improvement on Red Lobster last weekend! Cost less plus leftovers. Then came home to watch a Danny Kaye Show Christmas special I recorded off GetTV and listen to some Christmas music.

Oh, yeah, and ordered one of the two books online...

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» Sunday, December 11, 2016
Birthdays Come Around Again

It's been rather an uneven birthday.

We slept late, which was a swell birthday gift all in itself. We both had breakfast after walking the dog. The sky was slate grey and silver grey rippled, and it was chilly and slightly damp, with a bit of a breeze that snuck into the weaknesses of your jacket. About 11:30 we left to go to Books-a-Million. Last year they were the only place that had gingerbread boys. But first we stopped at Publix so I could drop off the recycling and our contributions for Toys for Tots, and also get a newspaper. Well, I got a shock—the store is closing on Wednesday (I thought the aisles looked rather empty), with the new store a mile or so away in Smyrna opening on Thursday (we heard it was opening next year!), so they didn't get a Toys for Tots bin. I was so surprised I walked out without the paper, too.

Luckily (or unluckily), James had a call of nature and we stopped at the next Publix on the route and I bought a paper and left the toys behind. From there we proceeded to Books-a-Million after stopping at Kroger for gas. And, yes indeed, they did have gingerbread boys. We had them with peppermint cocoa and bought a half dozen more for the rest of the season. Alas, the days when I could have sweets for lunch and do okay afterward are gone. By the time we left, I was feeling distinctly queasy.

James wasn't doing so well, either. He thinks the food at Red Lobster last night made him sick. So I paid for my purchase, a remainder book, and we came home where he could have some ginger tea and take more Pepto Bismol. I got things ready for work tomorrow, then watched the Lassie episode "The Little Christmas Tree," and then The Lost Tapes: Pearl Harbor. This was fascinating as it was comprised of news bulletins, interviews, recordings, and other vocals over photographs, film from newsreels and the scene, handwritten notes, and documents. I didn't get all of it and need to try to record it again when it's on December 22.

I always listen to Roosevelt's speech and try to put myself in my mother's place, or my father's. What did they think when they heard the bulletins, and then the speeches? Was Dad scared of the idea of going to battle, or just too angry to care? Did Mom realize how many of her family would go off to war, even the nephews she still thought of as boys? I look at the old photographs and wish I could jump in...not to change, I know I can't do that, but just to see. I want to know how it was so much!

Ended up watching the end of Anne of Green Gables, the Sullivan version. The new version with Martin Sheen is on tonight. I'm not sure if I want to watch it, as I hear they've made it "more relevant," which gives me the shudders. I remember "relevant" TV from the 70s, and it usually means "boring." So we went on to the episode of Alaska: the Last Frontier that we skipped last week to watch something else, and then this week's episode.

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» Saturday, December 10, 2016
Surprises: Good, Bad and Terrific

We decided to go back to Costco this morning to see if we could get two more of the terrific chair pads we bought last week, so we were up at eight, out in the cold air, and at Costco by the time they opened. Alas, we could not find the seat cushions. Or Eggland eggs, either. We stocked up on milk and "plastic cheese," as James calls it, and a couple of other things, then did find a real bargain: we have our computer chairs on clear plastic chair mats. At that moment very old plastic chair mats. Mine had fine cracks in it, since I sit there all day at least two days a week. I had looked at new ones at Office Depot and they were $45. These were larger and they were only $19! Yeah, with those stupid little spikes in them to keep them from sliding on the carpet they are a pain to handle, but after I had vacuumed around the desks and we heaved them upstairs, they went in place fine. I'd almost rather wrestle with the Christmas tree, though!

James left for his IPMS meeting and I put up the milk and cheese. Now, for years I have heard about something called Christmas at the Mable House, which is a craft show at an historic home on Floyd Road. I've always put it on my calendar and never have gone. This year I was determined to go. First I had to stop at the Publix on Floyd Road to get some cash in case they didn't take cards. Well, this Publix doesn't  have a SunTrust anymore, either—are they pulling out of all of them?—but I could get money out of the Presto machine for nothing. (I picked up a baguette and the eggs for James, too.)

The Mable House is just a block down from the Publix. The craft show wasn't at the house, though; it at the meeting building across the driveway. It was arranged more like the flea markets we go to rather than having the vendors at individual booths as at Apple Annie (some of the vendors were there, they just weren't taking money). Each item had a number signifying whose craft it was and a price. You paid for all at the end at a check out cash register and I guess at the end of the day or the show each crafter gets his money. I bought some little items like a tea bag holder for James and something cool for David Gibson.

From there, since I was so close, I stopped at KMart. I usually put a little 5x5" calendar next to my desk, marking when I will be paid and which paycheck goes for what. I usually get one at Michaels, but I haven't seen any this year. KMart is the only place I've seen these tiny calendars. But there were none. I did find more tinsel (I try to replace what I use every year and a little more), real 50-strings of "fairy lights" (I bought three, and they weren't $15 bloody dollars each, either), and C7 bulbs in multicolors as I'm toying with making the candles multicolor one day.

I also stopped at the used bookstore to see what they had in Christmas books, but only bought a couple "Sisters at Heart" I don't have (these are like "Dear America" books, but with a Christian slant). The Christmas books were piled out front but I either had them, they were romances, or they were cookbooks/decorating books.

By then I was starving because it was almost 1:30. I had a $9 birthday credit at Tin Drum, so went there for lunch, which ended up costing 54¢. (In the end, it was a good thing I filled up!) I stopped in at Barnes & Noble before going home. Children were singing the score from Annie. I picked up a "Period Living" and "English Period Homes."

I had just gotten home and was tidying up a little when James arrived home. He wanted to take me out for my birthday dinner tonight. Usually we go to the Colonnade, but it's way in Buckhead, and I wanted something different for a change. Let's go to Red Lobster, I suggested.

Well, our waitress was nice and the food was good, but oh, goodness...I ordered a pick-two combination so I could have grilled scallops and grilled shrimp, and as my side I had "roast gold potatoes." The sorriest plate I've ever seen emerged along with James' seafood trio (which has fried shrimp and alfredo shrimp, both which I dislike): six puny shrimp on a stick and three good sized scallops and a tiny one on another, with six (count 'em, six) tiny round potatoes, two about the diameter of a dime. James was aghast. He gave me some of the alfredo and the sauce was thick and unappetizing. I ate the shrimp and the scallops up, but could only eat one of the potatoes because they were so heavily peppered. James was annoyed enough to complain to the manager, who comped us the scallops. Honestly, they were $2.50 extra. They could have at least given me six, and all full size!

Dessert was better; we went to Bruster's and had ice cream. Yes, ice cream when the mercury stands at 40°F. One of my favorite stories from my mom was the one about the snowstorm in which she and her best friend walked all the way downtown and then walked home eating ice cream in the snow. We have no snow, but we've had the cold! It was 27 this morning and I even put Tucker's jacket on him. He hated it, but he wore it. :-)

We took him out again when we got home, and then settled in to "watch some Christmas." I played Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, and then put on Rick Steves' European Christmas for some real hygge. Following we listened to the additional songs on the disc, and then we got caught up watching an old NYPD Blue episode on Heroes & Icons. That was such a good series.

Anyway, the biggest news of the day came when James arrived home from the IPMS meeting. I got an excited phone call right after he pulled into the driveway: "I found it!" His wedding ring was sitting in the groove where the garage door comes down! How we missed it when we searched I don't know, but he's happy and I'm happy that it's back.

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» Friday, December 09, 2016
Lots of Hits and One Sad Miss

So, this week we've had some new work done, one training course completed, one telework agreement renewed (I have my Friday back! yay!), one backache—contracted from one dog yanking me out the door to chase a cat—successfully defeated, and some sad news: James' wedding ring turned up MIA on Thursday after he came back from the doctor. He's pretty sure he had it on that morning, but he has checked at work and I have checked at Kaiser and no one has seen it. Blast.

And now to something fun: the Christmas tree!

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» Sunday, December 04, 2016
Second Weekend of Advent

We had a fairly happy and busy weekend.

"Hair Day" was scheduled for Saturday morning and we were bringing the main dish. On Thursday and again on Friday I had supervised the cooking of pot roast in the crock pot. We used a pork roast recipe with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and cinnamon, and it came out wonderfully. There was a nice crowd, but we were all a little subdued: Lin was sick and Phyllis coming down with a cold, and Charles was, after eating with us, heading back to Pennsylvania to be with his mother, who is under hospice care. There were veggies to snack on for breakfast and mashed potatoes and rolls to go along with the pot roast.

I was rather appalled by the stories we were hearing from Pat and Alex's son. He said he was often distracted by kids playing loud music in class or talking aloud, and we in all innocence asked why the teacher didn't make them shut up. He said the teacher can't do that! If he/she does, the parents of the kids will complain to the school board and the teacher will get into trouble. How on earth do kids learn anything today if their teachers have no authority? What rubbish!

We were on dessert (a nice cake) by the time we had to leave and go get James' eyes dilated. They couldn't do it when he had the eye exam because he had it at night. (If they dilate your eyes, it makes your pupils open and more sensitive to light. So why couldn't they do it in the dark???) So we had this done, and then went down to Kroger and did that part of the shopping. By then the eye dilation kicked in and he was getting a headache, so we came home with the groceries and were in for the night. Put on John Denver and the Muppets, Muppet Family Christmas, "Santaclaustrophobia" from Hill Street Blues, and the documentary Christmas Past. After that, when James couldn't find anything decent to watch besides Guy Fieri, we went to bed!

As of Friday Atlanta had not had rain for 42 straight days, but finally rain was coming toward us. One of the reasons we came directly home from Kroger is that we had to get the power chair under cover because the anticipated rain was starting. Today it rained, it misted, it mizzled, it showered. James woke early, but I tried to stay in bed, defeated finally by a stuffed nose and a dry mouth. We went to Costco and while James had eaten breakfast, I forgot to grab a Bel Vita bar on the way out, so I was happy for a few samples at Costco. We found Skinny Pop there and bought sausage and mushrooms.

(We also bought new chair pads for our desk chairs. I've been using a rectangle of padding and a "chill pad" that was out of shape. These are nice and firm and so much better. We need to go back and get two more for work, especially on my $1600 supposedly ergonomic chair which has to be the most uncomfortable piece of office furniture ever.)

For a little fun we went to Barnes & Noble next. Checked out the books and the magazines, and we had some cocoa. On the way home we stopped at Big Lots for a new "airplane tree" and Publix for Smart Balance, lunchmeat for my work sandwiches, a Sunday paper, and a few other things, then arrived home for lunch, a movie, and decoration of the airplane tree.

This evening we watched America's Funniest Home Videos and Pearl Harbor: 75 Years Later.

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