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, December 31, 2017
No Fireworks Inside
It's been a quiet New Year's Eve day. I had a screaming nightmare last night and then was sick, so I slept in until nine. I really didn't feel like getting up at all. I didn't have the heart for it. James had gotten up a little earlier and had his breakfast. I had mine and just watched Dr. Pol. We had a grilled cheese sandwich and an orange for lunch and I put on The Nine Tailors, because the mystery starts on New Year's Eve. This is my second-favorite Lord Peter Wimsey story, and even if Ian Carmichael was much too old to portray young Peter going to war, I think including him in the wedding party worked better than having an information dump, which is fine for a book.

I took some time today to wash and dry the towels and of course the pills had to be sorted and the bed made. I was still feeling down by suppertime. Since we originally planned to go to Bill and Caran's party, we just ate a cursory bite of what was leftover for our party contribution, peanut pork in phyllo cups, and I put on "A Year for All Seasons" from M*A*S*H and Ellery Queen's "The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne," but didn't even have the heart to put on Rudolph's Shiny New Year. But I was feeling so emotionally weary, and while I would have loved to have seen everyone, the idea of driving 45 minutes across town exhausted me, and the idea of doing it again after midnight exhausted me even further.

So we stayed home and watched Rogue One and soothed a nervous terrier as the booms went off outside, and then switched to Steve Harvey.

Been a bummer of the past two days. I was so determined 2018 would be better. Now I'm not so sure.

"It doesn't matter whether you feel useful or not when you're moving from one disaster to another. The trick, I guess, is to just keep moving."
. . . . Fr. Mulcahy, M*A*S*H

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» Saturday, December 30, 2017
Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
I had a very profitable day yesterday. I'm determined to get all the junk cleared from the house, and I wanted to fill up a trash bag up (and I did). There were other things hanging about, and the wrapping paper from Christmas, so I had that to begin with, and I cleaned out James' two drawers in the bathroom. There were old Kaiser bags in there from three years ago.

When I telework James pretty much has to dress up in the dark, and I've been thinking of making a little dressing room in there for him. There's already one of my grandmother's old chairs in there, and I added a second one that is in the library downstairs. With all the junk cleaned out (tossed in the trash or put in a box for donation) I made a little space where he can get dressed; he can even use the stepstool to help put his boots on. A couple of hooks behind the door and a small light would make it complete.

There was only one tiny problem: I used the dishwasher this morning and it would not drain. After watching a video on YouTube and calling Bosch, I bailed it out and washed the filter (but I had done that several months ago; it was not the filter that was clogged), and then tested the dishwasher on a rinse and hold. It sounded like it started to drain, but there was still water at the bottom of the cup the filter goes into. But I found the order we put in at Lowes and discovered we did get the extended warranty. So someone will be here on Tuesday to look at it.

After such a productive day we had a terrible time with dinner. We were going to Longhorn but it was completely packed, no handicapped spaces or close spaces available (James had put the power chair up). Everywhere else was crowded as well. So we went past Bed, Bath and Beyond where I was unsuccessful in finding the small light I wanted. We ate at Ken's Grill and did the last of our grocery shopping at Kroger.

We were up early this morning, finally headed on our trip to Chattanooga. We had breakfast first and stowed some oranges in the truck so we wouldn't be tempted to snack. It was going to be chilly later on, so we put on our warmest things and I put our scarves in the cab, although we planned to be back before dark. We were headed out toward Windy Hill to get gas when James realized he forgot his phone. This has been typical of this whole plan to day trip up there. We planned to go weeks ago, but first it snowed, then was James' party, then last weekend it rained. Today it was fine, just cold.

I retrieved the phone, and, since gas was cheaper up north of our location, I asked James if he would rather go through Delk Road to get to the freeway. This meant going through Sandtown Road. We were just driving, talking of nothing in particular--Tylenol, actually, for James' knees, when we crossed through the intersection at Pat Mell Road. The cab of the truck had just cleared the intersection when it happened: someone smashed right into the right rear of the truck. James knows he had the green light, but the other driver said that as well. The police said since there were no witnesses no blame could be assigned, and no one got a ticket.

I don't want to talk about the whole story, but the truck is toast. If it was just the back panel and the rear lights, it might be okay, but either the right rear wheel or the axle is bent. The chair lift is also twisted and bent. The other car hit us so hard the power chair was flung across the street and landed in the ditch on the other side. It had a twist in it when they got it back on the lift, but it straightened itself out when James rode it back into the garage.

Plus this is his second accident in two years. They will total the truck and then cancel his insurance and he'll have to go with a high priced company. We've no money for a new truck, but Twilight can't pull the chair. It's all a big horrible stinking mess.

We limped the truck home (it bounces like a bronco if you drive it over ten miles per hour) and just sat for the rest of the day; only watching the M*A*S*H marathon was some tiny consolation. The joy has gone out of the season. I want to bury my head in my mother's lap and cry and cry. No way to turn the clocks back and take a different direction. I don't even know why  I try to make things better. Once I do something else f**ks up.

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» Thursday, December 28, 2017
A Day That's So Tinsel!
Today James had an appointment to have his power chair looked at after he could not get it going at work a few weeks ago. The rubber cover of the control handle had peeled back one foggy morning and moisture had gotten into the contacts. He had to hobble into the building, but by the time lunchtime rolled up the fog was gone and the contacts dry. It's worked fine ever since.

I had toyed with going with him. He was driving out to the other side of town and if I went with him perhaps we could stop at the Buford Highway Farmer's Market or the Barnes & Noble at the Forum in Norcross. But if he just had to twiddle his thumbs for hours while it was being fixed, it wasn't worth it. So finally he went off to work this morning (he's one of the few there early) and left at ten to go to the appointment.

I was off at ten, too, after breakfast and dog-walking, headed ultimately back to Richard's Variety Store to get more of the magnetic hooks. The ones we have in the kitchen are terrible; we use them on the range hood to hold potholders, and they frequently fall off if you put the "Ove Glove" on them carelessly. But first I wanted to stop at Love Street, the little gift shop, to see what was on sale after Christmas.

My cell phone ringing distracted me, and I turned the wrong way, so I ended up stopping at the CVS on Concord Road first, and I was so happy I did. The one thing that has bothered me this year is that I could not seem to find any tinsel [icicles]. To me it's not a Christmas tree without the icicles, and because with these thin, modern icicles you cannot save them the way you used to be able to, I have for the past years always bought enough tinsel to replace what I put on the tree (about 2 1/2 boxes) and usually a couple more. But this year I was not seeing any, either in CVS or in Walgreens. But there in the CVS were about 30 boxes of the stuff, down on a bottom shelf in a corner. I bought a dozen, and a door decoration, all half price. Then I did go over to Love Street and bought another little log reindeer, this with a red nose, to join Woody and Holly on the lawn, and also a bicycle bell for James' power chair. (He has one now, but due to the structure of the arm of the chair it can only be installed upside down and doesn't work that way. This one works differently and does work upside down.)

I headed toward Richard's then, cutting through the little village of Vinings. I usually don't pay attention to what's in Vinings, as the little shops there seem to be all clothing and expensive housewares and restaurants. But last time I cut through, I thought I saw a sign that said "books." There is indeed something there that is a combination book and magazine/coffee shop. I didn't stop to look, but checked out the other shops. There appears to be a vinegar and oil shop here as well! Noticed a Mellow Mushroom before stopping at the Vinings CVS. Nothing else in the decorating aisle, but I did get Tucker a new sweater (half price), as his "Trouble Maker" sweater bought when we first got him is now too small.

James texted me as I was leaving CVS. All they had to do was order a new rubber overlay, and we can install it ourselves. So he got that ordered and was heading home. So instead of going on to Richard's, I went home, stopping by Publix to pick up the twofers. Found some pork chops at a good price and got James some ground beef as well.

James arrived soon after, and once the groceries were put up, we went out for lunch, back to the Mellow Mushroom I'd spotted in Vinings. We both had a hoagie and got a big one. Boy, were they big! We brought half home and had them for supper. The service was great and we enjoyed eating there.

Next we went to Richard's where I did pick up the hooks, and then went to Barnes & Noble. James bought a book with one of his coupons, and got a stack of magazines with the last coupon for magazines. He also found the calendar he wanted.

Finally we headed home, stopping by Publix once more to drop off the recycling.

Spent a relaxing evening watching the box. Watched a wonderful British special I recorded called The First Silent Night, hosted by Simon Callow, about how the song was written. The old story that you have heard—that mice chewed the bellows of the organ and the words and music were written at the last minute for guitar—is not true. Joseph Mohr had actually written the words two years earlier as a poem after seeing a beautiful painting of the Nativity every day at his parish church. The organ was already broken, and had been for a while. He and Franz Gruber were going to perform the song on guitar to show their solidarity with the people who lived there, using their native musical instrument, the guitar. Beautiful, beautiful Austrian scenery throughout, mostly snow-covered woods and valleys. Afterward watched the NOVA episode "Bird Brain," about the intelligence of birds. Clever birds!

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» Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Well Begun is Half Done
So what do you do when Christmas is over?

Start getting ready for next Christmas!

After breakfast and dog walking, I went off to Town Center. Started at Barnes & Noble due to a traffic diversion; bought two years' worth of Christmas cards, both with a wildlife theme. There's a Hallmark store on the other side of the shopping center, so I went there next. Of course people were crowded in there buying ornaments at half price. One woman had one whole shopping cart full of ornaments. I'd be willing to wager she was buying up all the fannish ones (Batman, football players, Avengers, Baby Groot, etc.) and will hold them for a while and then sell them on E-Bay as collector's items. I just picked up the new Marjolein Bastin's Garden ornament which I had not gotten originally: it's a snow-capped wreath with apples on it, with two tiny chickadees coming to feast on the apples. It was half off, and I had rewards points!

Next to JoAnn; you guessed it, more Command hooks. I said I was going to reorganize in the new year and I mean it! Plus two clearance items. Next door to Michael's, where I picked up a 70 percent off garland (I put it on the porch later on) and dessert chocolate. I crossed to 2nd and Charles because they had neat, cheap cards last year. None this year, but I found a lovely roll of holly wrapping paper for a grand total of 37 cents. Stopped at Hobby Lobby and bought bows and tinsel cord. Finally stopped at Publix, didn't find their crusty white baguette again and in very bad temper bought a Chicago roll (which was not a good substitute), and some black-eyed peas for James.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home listening to Christmas music and reading Christmas magazines.

Had beef bits and Rice-a-Roni for supper and watched bits of Happy New Year, Charlie Brown. Really dreadful. The first few specials were the best, all charm and gentle humor, then they gradually lost their magic. Charlie Brown spends a good part of this one shouting. And what teacher gives a little kid War and Peace to read over Christmas vacation? Better was the first episode/preview of the new season of Better Late Than Never, which William Shatner talked about at DragonCon. The four crazies (Shatner, Terry Bradshaw, Henry Winkler, and George Foreman) and "the sidekick" Jeff are doing Europe this time, and discover beergardens and take a Sound of Music tour.

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» Monday, December 25, 2017
Merry Christmas!!!!

A "Working" Christmas



» Sunday, December 24, 2017
Christmas Eve at Our House
Books And Christmas Lights in Our Hearts

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» Friday, December 22, 2017
HOW Many Days Til Christmas?
Well, isn't that just like fall (and winter)? The days are just flying by now that it's gotten cool and beautiful (and while I have the time off), while stinky sweaty stultifying summer staggers through with the speed of a constipated sloth. It doesn't help that I've been busy. On Tuesday I took time to do some work as well as have some fun. Since I was going that way anyway, I stopped at the Walmart next to Sam's club for a new lamp for my desk, and a new rubber mat for in front of the stove. I was looking for sweatpants, but all the ones for women have open bottoms like pants. I already have two pair of those and they drag on the ground and get caught under my heels. I wanted regular sweatpants that gather at the bottom. Damn stupid fashions! Instead I treated myself to highlighters.

It was raining when I left Walmart just like when I left the house. Miserable, wet, and grey. To cheer myself I went to the antique mall. They are moving all the way to Canton in January and as a result there were not as many decorations this year. But there are compensations: I did find the second "Happy Hollisters" book, a reproduction of a Kresge's catalog from 1913 (the year my dad was born), a collection of short stories and a novel from a magazine called "Treasure Trails" from the 1950s (based on The Children's Hour; was that a TV show? a radio show?), and a Bennett Cerf book I didn't have, Shake Well Before Using! This seems to have longer than usual anecdotes in it as well.

Incidentally, being used as a bookmark in the last book was a list of coal prices for 1951 (which was the year the house I grew up in was built; my parents could have opted for a coal furnace but chose an oil burner instead), complete with postal code instead of ZIP code and letter exchanges on the phone numbers.

At least James was home teleworking to offer a warm welcome!

James teleworked again Wednesday because he had an appointment with the doctor at eleven. I left at ten because I wanted to go to Richard's Variety Store before they pulled all the Christmas decorations to go pink. I stopped at Barnes & Noble on the way to check out the magazines and if there were any books I could get with my coupons. I did find a couple. James called me when I was on the way to Richard's. He'd gotten his eleven o'clock appointment tomorrow mixed up with his 2:30 appointment today, so he was heading home to get in an hour or so more work. I made it home in time to go to the appointment with him, which was with the nephrologist. This is the second time Kaiser's internet has been down when I'm there. Is it something I said? Anyway, the doctor was pleased with James' kidney recovery, but a little worried that his blood pressure is slightly high. It's probably trying to juggle three doctors' appointments in one week!

Thursday I didn't stir a foot from the house. James went out to Town Center and was there for hours getting his iron infusion because they had trouble getting a vein to work. They finally had to call someone from the emergency room and she did it in a trice. I spent most of the day wrapping gifts—and discovering I hadn't finished one (but it was quick finish)—and was absolutely knackered when he got home, and annoyed because it's bloody raining again.

But there are the good parts: having him home teleworking, Snowy singing, Christmas music, and Christmas specials!

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» Tuesday, December 19, 2017
After the Lost, the Found
This morning I was up at eight, and after starting a load of clothes, ate breakfast and gave Tucker a long walk. It was cloudy and slightly foggy, which made sense since there was a warm front [yeeech] on the way. By the time I'd finished unloading the dishwasher of yesterday's baking items , one washer load was done and I popped it in the dryer, and put a second load in the washer, but delayed the wash. I had some things to pick up (thankfully with coupons) and didn't want the clothes sitting in this sultry weather.

About 10:15 I headed up to Town Center and Bed, Bath & Beyond. I picked up a few little things: food-safe mineral oil for the table and cutting boards, a refrigerator container for James' insulin, a couple more little lights for the library, and a new blanket for Tucker, who tends to bite holes in his. At JoAnn I had five half-price coupons and a 40 percent off. I got mostly Command hooks, but bought a piece of foam for James' truck seat. Hoping that works better than a wadded-up towel.

I also found some Christmas items on deep discount: two little resin foxes and a large bottle-brush tree and a pack of smaller ones. I went next door to Michaels and found some small wooden rectangles. I'm seeing craft project here...

In the meantime I cut through the back way to Barnes & Noble; I didn't have a coupon, but I wanted to look at the clearance table. I found a book on Mickey Rooney and one on Neil Armstrong, both for $4 each, and joined the queue. In front of me was an older man in a US Army veterans cap, behind me was an older couple buying a stack of discount games. The woman tapped the veteran on the shoulder and handed him a card, saying "Thank you for your service." The veteran stammered a little and she said, "It's a homemade card. I make them and hand them out only to veterans." The veteran said thank you and then was called to check out. I was called next and did so with a big grin on my face (and donated a kids' book to their book drive).

I realized I hadn't taken anything out for dinner, so I stopped at Nam Dae Mun for some chicken legs and also got some little steaks to put in the freezer. Total: $5.35. I put the meat up when I got home, but the craft project called me and I even forgot about the clothes sitting in the washer (well, for a little while; they did get dried). I painted two of the wooden rectangles white with Delta Gloss paint and then sprinkled them with coarse white matte glitter and a little blue microglitter after leaving spots for foxes and trees to go. When the paint was dry and the glitter firmly stuck on, I glued the items on. Now: two winter decorations.

Before I painted the rectangles, I noted they needed a little sanding. There was a small paper bag hanging on the back of the craft room door with sandpaper sticking out of it. I looked at it, but the grit was still too coarse. I knew I had finer-grain sandpaper, so I dug in the bag--and found six "S" hooks I bought at the hardware store near Corley's hobby shop years ago, and...what was this thick, hard black thing in there?

Rewind: for Christmas 2010 James gave me a little gadget called a Flip video camera, which...gasp!...took HD video. I used it at Christmas and a couple of times right after, and then it disappeared. Actually, it was hiding in plain sight; it was in a black case, and it was wedged between my computer CPU and the upright of the computer desk where it was dark and I couldn't see it. So I pulled it out again, put new batteries in it, and used it for Phyllis' birthday party, Christmas 2011, New Year's Eve, and the party at the Lawson's house in early 2012. The last thing I did was make a video for my cousin Debbie of our house decorations. And then it vanished, never to be seen again.

Until today. In the little paper sack was the Flip in its black case.

Put new batteries in it, it still works, the software loaded up right away.

I've been saying over and over I need to get this house clean. And this is one of the reasons why. Maybe someday I'll find my pocket-sized birth certificate and my original social security card.

Despite the traffic, James made it home from cardiac rehab in good time. We had chicken legs and pickled tomato slices (boy, are they pickled, and taste strongly of cinnamon, too) for supper, with peppermint "Jo-Jos" (Trader Joe's version of an Oreo, with candy cane chips in the center) for dessert. For Christmas programming: both Prep & Landing specials (they're so tinsel!) and Geraldine Page in A Christmas Memory.

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» Monday, December 18, 2017
Lost Corkscrews and Losing My Mind
Well, today was a bit of a topsy-turvy semi-disaster.

Plan for today: bake cookies. I really didn't want to bake, but it was the only way I'd get the cookies. So, sleep until eight, then bake, and also wash the towels.

James texted me at 7:30 that he couldn't get the power chair off the lift at work. It worked fine when he left, but the rubber flap that covers the controls has come loose, and there was a dense, dense fog outside. He figured the contacts that run the chair had gotten wet. So he limped in and soldiered on. In the meantime, I'm thinking, oh, no, not again. First the truck, then the computer... (For the record, the fog dissipated, James checked the chair at lunch, and it worked fine. He'll have it looked at next week.)

So I was up at 7:30. Once I'm up, first comes nature's call, and then comes my stomach chiming in claiming it's starving to death. Straightened a few things out, then began to prepare to bake. At one point I went downstairs to see if we had any canola oil. We didn't, but I found a bottle of hearty burgundy in the pantry closet, after having a reminder on my Google calendar all year that I had to buy a fresh bottle of wine this year (which we did last weekend). I felt just like Ruth in "Lassie's Gift of Love" when she finds four potatoes in the oven instead of three. Finally I had all my ducks in a row—and just enough canola oil—when I realized I had one tiny problem: where was the corkscrew for the wine bottle? We use the damn thing once a year, for my cookies, and the rest of the time it's hung up on a hook with the meat thermometer, where it's been since we moved into the house.

Guess where it wasn't today.

I searched all the drawers (there are only three) and even on the baker's rack, then put on a pashmina and went off in a huff to Kroger where I found corkscrews...with the beer. Well...okay. I got one with a red handle so it would be easier to see.

So I didn't start baking the wine biscuits until 11:30. I rotated the trays, and the stove performed flawlessly. This year I didn't burn the bottoms of some of them; it's silly anyway. I took the first batch out after 46 minutes and let the second batch cook about ten minutes longer. The convection cooked them nice and easy; the second batch was more dense, the second still a little soft inside, but they both taste good.

I shoved all the baking things in the dishwasher, cleaned up the kitchen and cleaned off the side of the dining room table where I mixed the dough, and then settled down on the sofa to have some milk. I found an interesting British documentary called Legends of Santa on Amazon Prime, narrated by Richard Attenborough. I really enjoyed it, but lack of sleep caught up with me when it ended, about 4 p.m. and I fell asleep on the sofa, only to be woken by James (again...LOL) telling me he was stopping for gas on the way home.

Thus awakened, I decided to take the newly-washed baking board back into the bedroom (it lives in the master bedroom closet, since there's no room in the kitchen). Now, I run the fans in the bedroom every day to air out the room, and they were going strong when I entered. So was a horrible smell in the room: it reeked of natural gas!

I rushed back into the main part of the house; no smell. Ran down the stairs and opened the front door: it was indeed from outside. Was Miranda and Eddie's gas meter leaking? Or was it ours? I ran back into the bedroom to confirm it was indeed gas I smelled, then called 911. The operator told me that apparently they did some type of "controlled release" of the odor they put in natural gas while doing maintenance on the gas pipeline in Paulding County. The wind blew the scent to Cobb and South Fulton Counties. So everything was okay, and I turned the fans to vent out and closed the door and kept an eye on Snowy. But that was...scary.

The rest of the evening was a bit more normal. James made the little thin steaks I got at Publix with teriyaki rice as a side into a nice dinner. We watched Wheel and Jeopardy, and then I put on Friday's two episodes of Hawaii Five-0. Well, I think Steve has paid Danny back for the loan of half a liver. 😀

One more thing had to happen, though: I'd recorded a Moody Blues concert off PBS a few weeks ago for James. I put it on after we got done with Christmas on Oahu (and Junior officially being part of the team), and it turned out to be the end of a Pavarotti special followed by a Graham Nash special. Well, gee, thanks, GPB. And a Merry Christmas to you, too.

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» Sunday, December 17, 2017
Third Sunday of Advent

Third Sunday of Advent:Hygge and Hard Drives

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» Saturday, December 16, 2017
We Should Live in Upson Downs

Today was a crazy mixture of good and strange.

James and I had to be up early to get to Hair Day. We weren't going to be able to stay for lunch because he had to be at his club Christmas party today. Well, we did a stupid. James took his blood sugar, took his insulin, we fed the dog, we fed the bird, but we didn't feed either of us. So no sooner did he get his hair cut than his blood sugar crashed. I had to feed him two of the chocolates we brought and a can of Coca-Cola before he even got as high as 67. Plus on the way to Ron and Lin's he had barked his knuckles on his keys, and his skin is very sensitive on his hands since his first heart attack, so a tiny little spot kept bleeding. By the time we got home, he was back "on line" so to speak, but he ate a burrito and took his blood pressure to make sure it was okay, and I cleaned up the cut and rebandaged it, so he went off to the party as scheduled.

I was planning to go out to Betsy's Hallmark at East Cobb, but all the traffic was so bad that I just got exasperated and quit. Instead I drove to downtown Marietta, found a parking space in the square after two orbits, and wandered around for a bit. I went into The Corner Shop and bought a Terry's dark chocolate orange (there are other sliced chocolate oranges, but Terry's are the best) and some mint sauce for the next time we have lamb. Then I picked up my favorite Zesty Italian pretzels in The Local Exchange. On a whim, looking for sugar-free taffy for James, I went into the candy store, and was delighted to find Mint Juleps! These are squares of mint taffy that I remember buying from the penny candy counter at Tom's Superette when I was in the single digits. The Vermont Country Store used to sell them, then quit, and I couldn't find them online, so I thought they'd quit making them. Looks like Necco makes them now. I got a whole bag, which should last for months.

Finally I did a Christmas stroll around DuPre's antiques. I sadly noticed that they have removed the old receipts and waybills and price lists from around one of the doors, from when DuPre's was a hardware store. At Christmas they always pull out antique Christmas items or put little trees up in the different antique dealers' bays, and the decorations make me smile. Someone had crocheted bunnies for sale that looked just like Elizabeth's stuffed rabbit in The Bestest Present.

Then back to the car, which needed gas. I filled up at Kroger and since I was there, stopped for milk and sodium-free mushrooms, but they were out of the latter. They had a sale on pork loin roasts, $2/pound, so I got one.

Finally home. Yesterday at Publix I had found a little $2 package of pork rib tips. I cooked them in olive oil and basted them in Sweet Georgia Brown barbecue sauce and a little bourbon pineapple sauce. They were quite good and I put two aside. Then I felt like watching the Winona Ryder version of Little Women and that's what I was doing when James came home from his party, having had a good time and made out well at the "Dirty Santa" (gift exchange) game.

When the movie was over, we went out to MicroCenter and bought James a new computer. He looked at a Dell, but in the end he got one like mine, except his has a separate video card. Since he does game occasionally this works better for him. We got the computer home and cleaned out under the desk where the CPU sits, discarding a couple of old devices and putting a new network cable on it (the other was too short and kept pulling the router over backwards). James got into it quickly, but then the internet connection slowed to a crawl for no reason I can tell. This is like the third hour it's been updating, and it's only 89 percent. I've rebooted the modem twice and it speeds up and then immediately slows down again. We really need to install the new unit, but James wanted to wait after we got his computer up and running. It's getting old fast.

Then we tried to watch Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon off the DVR. Well, the satellite box has gone crazy. We'd watch about a minute of the show and then the DVR, on its own, would change the channel to 0 and we'd get ABC and that awful I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown was on to add insult to injury. I unplugged the unit and it didn't seem to make any difference, but it straightened out after I pressed the reset button. Well, at least for a while. We got to watch both shows, and the minute I deleted Young Sheldon the "0" thing started happening again. At first I though it was the remote getting stuck, but the box turned itself off and on when I started to change the batteries and the remote was empty! Dammit, the DVR still has a bunch of stuff on it I want to watch, movies I recorded when they had free HBO and Showtime weekends. I hope we don't have to replace it.

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» Friday, December 15, 2017
Day 1 of Eighteen
I always save up my annual leave for Christmas. No use in taking time off in the spring or the summer when the weather is horrible; if it's going to be miserable anyway I might as well be at work. So, yay, I could sleep late, but not very. James was teleworking and I couldn't sleep.

He was teleworking today because earlier in the week we had noticed pink fluid dripping under the truck. Oh, no, transmission fluid is pink! Thursday he teleworked and I brought the truck over to NAPA Auto. Apparently in Toyotas coolant is also pink and that's what was leaking, from a hose that goes from the front of the engine to all the way in the back, so to replace the thing they had to take the whole intake manifold (? the top part of the engine anyway) off. So they didn't finish Thursday, but did have it by this morning so James could go off to his iron infusion this afternoon.

I had a Hallmark coupon for Amy's Hallmark on Dallas Highway, so I headed out there. I found a cute gift to put away. Then I walked down to Barnes & Noble to pick up a Christmas issue of "Smoky Mountain Living." The Dallas Highway store is the only one that carries this reliably.

I'd forgotten to put my 20 percent off all periodicals coupon in my wallet, so I swung by the house to get it. B&N is giving a 20 percent off discount to members this weekend, so it would be a good time to pick up the new "This England Annual" I saw on Monday. Picked up the January "Country Sampler" as well. (I'm enjoying 'em now. Won't be able to afford them next year.) Also used the 25 percent off coupon I got in e-mail and the 20 percent off coupon I got in the mail on two books about an American woman who marries a Frenchman.

I came home by Publix since I've managed to go there three times without dropping off the toys I collected for Toys for Tots—and I still forgot them in the car and had to bring them back in after I loaded the groceries in the hatchback (well since I was at Publix I might as well do the shopping, right?).

Once James got home we went to MicroCenter to buy a new hard drive for James' computer. James hasn't gotten a major Windows update since last November. Each time he tries it reaches 89 percent and goes to black. He has to reboot and put it back to the previous version. Well, when he tried it just recently it went to black and stayed there; it would not let him go back to the previous version. We figured the update fried the Windows operating system. So we were going to load Windows 10 onto a new hard drive; then we would get James' files off the old hard drive via an enclosure. By the time we got home, we were so bushed we just ordered chicken wings for supper and then got to work on loading Windows 10.

Except it wouldn't. I finally got on chat with Microsoft and this patient tech support guy worked with us for three straight hours to get this thing to load. But we kept getting an error message CLOCK WATCHDOG TIMEOUT. I looked it up and the tech did as well, and a processor error. There's nothing wrong with the disc. There's everything wrong with the computer.

And...groan...another late bedtime.

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» Sunday, December 10, 2017
Second Sunday of Advent
"Second Sunday of Advent: A Christmas Miscellany"

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» Saturday, December 09, 2017
Christmas Tree Adventures

"The Christmas Tree Distraction"

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» Friday, December 08, 2017
Unexpected Snow Day
So when they started talking about snow on the news, we paid just cursory attention to it. Snow in December? Yeah, we did that on Christmas a few years ago—it was gorgeous! But when we get snow it's usually in January and February. And they were only talking about a dusting. Or maybe one inch. Well, except for that one computer model that said we might have almost three inches. But that was just one model!

So I had a little late sleep this morning, and then had to hustle eating breakfast and walking the dog. I'd spent about three hours yesterday wrapping the out-of-town gifts and boxing them. They were ready to go to the post office. Now, when I'd gotten up it was raining. When I walked Tucker and left the house for the post office, it was snowing briskly, but just forming a light frosting on grass and bushes.

At the post office I heard that Cobb County had just canceled school for the day, and when I went past Campbell High I could see students already heading home. I was worried about James: he had a doctor's appointment at one and would have to drive all the way to Glenlake near Perimeter Mall. With schools being released, people being allowed to go home, and the snow continuing, traffic would be very bad. But by the time I got home, he'd already called Kaiser, and discovered all the afternoon appointments were labeled "reschedule." So he did, and teleworked the rest of the afternoon.

I took the opportunity to vacuum downstairs and sweep the hall, wash some old towels so we could take them to the pound, give Snowy fresh water, run out on the porch and fill the bird feeders (should have done it while it was dry yesterday!), and install the new all-in-one I bought on Black Friday. The snow ranged from large flakes to small, sometimes to sleet, and there was a spell of freezing rain, and then it went back to snow again. I put on my Christmas cassettes as James worked and later on baked some gingerbread in a nod to Sook Faulk's "fruitcake weather" (I despise fruitcake). I prefer gingerbread weather.

Since future dog walking was imminent, I went looking for my boots. Now I haven't seen them since the last time it snowed, which was a few years ago, but they have to be in the master bedroom closet somewhere. There's no other closet they can be in and they wouldn't be in the garage or any other bedroom. Darned if I can find them! So where the heck...

I ended up taking Tucker out at 5:30 wearing my usual dog-walking rubber-soled canvas shoes. My feet weren't that cold—I put my boot socks on this morning and they are toasty warm—but it was funny walking on the snow in them. It is just, just at freezing, so the snow is very wet and there is wet slush under the snow, but it's still cold and once the snow started sticking to the pavement (about three o'clock), "all was lost," so to speak. The "crump, crump, crump" of the creak of the snow was very loud in the silence made by the accumulation.  If I stopped for any appreciable time the soles of the shoes started to freeze to the ground! Tucker had done "all his good dogs" in the morning, but you should have seen him squatting; he did not want to touch that snow and was hunched in a funny-looking manner and didn't seem to care to be outside. At five he just pee'd, but seemed in much better spirits about the snow.

It was so pretty outside that I brought him back in and then ran outside with my phone to take some pictures. The white snow and the darkening bluish-grey sky was so very striking, and the net lights shining through the snow of the bush they were on made me smile.

We had tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for supper. Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ever had that "classic" combination. We didn't eat tomato soup and I don't like it in general; it's just that the Trader Joe's soup we sampled was so good. James, though, didn't like the low sodium version we got instead. I have to admit it's a little sweeter than the full sodium version, not quite so savory, but I still enjoyed it. We had gingerbread for dessert, and later on watched A Very Merry Cricket and A Charlie Brown Christmas. The DVR never started to record Hawaii Five-0, so we missed the beginning, but were able to catch up. The satellite dish must be coated solid with snow. That's funny because we've had snow before, but never lost the signal this long.

But then we've never had this much snow. I don't remember this much snow ever. We ended up with five inches on the deck, even with having had some rain tamping down the snow. We're supposed to get more overnight, and it will be about 30℉ as a low.

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The Simple Woman's Daybook

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Outside my window...'s snowing. This is a momentous event for early December, even in north Georgia (unless you live up northeast in the mountains). They started out saying we would get a light dusting or "maybe an inch," although one of the models indicated we might get 2.8 inches. I said "Hah! Like that's gonna happen." Well, it rained early, then it snowed, then it rained a bit, and now it's snowing again, and according to the weather report the snow could last through the we hours of the morning. Luckily they let the schools out about 10 a.m., so while traffic is bad, I don't think any schoolbuses are trapped on the road. After "Snowpocalypse" a few years ago, I hope everyone "got the hell out of Dodge"!

I am thinking...
...that this day didn't quite go as planned. I spent late yesterday afternoon wrapping and packaging the out-of-town gifts and planned to take them and the cards that had to be mailed to the post awful this morning, then I was going to the Northside Library booksale. Got to the post office, just to hear the news they closed the schools and various state and city offices were closing. So instead I went home, installed the all-in-one I bought on Black Friday, vacuumed downstairs, refilled the bird feeders, and did other tidying up, skirting James, who was teleworking because he was supposed to drive to Glenlake to see his cardiologist for a checkup.

I am thankful...
...that they rescheduled James' doctor's appointment, and that neither of us had to be anywhere today. The snow did stop and turn to rain, but now it's snowing again and is supposed to snow through the wee hours!

In the kitchen... Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" he relates his cousin Sook getting up on "a morning in late November" to announce "it's fruitcake weather." I don't like fruitcake and I call it "gingerbread weather," so I'm trying to bake some gingerbread. Not sure how it will come out as the box is past its sell by date.

I am wearing...
...a violet sweatshirt and dark grey sweatshirt and my wonderful boot-top knee socks that I'm so glad I bought. They not only stay up, but they're nice and warm.

I am creating...

I am going... put the tree up tomorrow (as mother would say, "With the help of God and a few policemen"). I wanted something to do while James went to his club meeting Christmas party. It's supposed to be 40°F by tomorrow, so hopefully he can go.

I am wondering...
...if this is the only snow we will get this year.

I am reading...
...A Kentucky Christmas which is a book of fiction and nonfiction about...well, you can guess! I guess Annie Fellows Johnston is considered declassé today—no entry from her at all.

I am hoping...
...we will get up to McKays before Christmas! This is the one thing I want for my birthday!

I am looking forward to...
...Sunday, when we will go see our umpteenth edition of An Atlanta Christmas performed by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company.

I am learning...
...well, I can't say I'm learning anything about baking. That's what I like about Dromedary gingerbread mix. You add water and mix it in the pan.

Around the house...
...playing my Christmas cassettes. I have only about 64 of them anymore, and some I can't replace, so I must be careful with them. They were picked up at Oxford Books when they closed, and Media Play, who always had a wonderful selection of nonstandard Christmas music along with the usual pop stuff, and places we traveled to, back when I bought cassettes instead of CDs. Some of them have been replaced; all of my Mannheim Steamroller albums are now on CD. Snowy gives an occasional chirp and James is finishing up a call. Tucker's in his "cave" under the dining room table.

I am pondering...
...Christmas tree "construction." It's a long job. It takes at least an hour to fluff after I get the tree put together, then I have to run an extension cord down the trunk for the star, then come the ornaments, and then 90 minutes for the tinsel.
A favorite quote for today...
"See the sunlight through the pine
Taste the warm of winter wine
Dream of softly falling snow
Winter snow Aspenglow
As the winter days unfold
Hearts grow warmer with the cold
Peace of mind is all you know
Winter snow Aspenglow..."  . . . . . . "Aspenglow," John Denver

One of my favorite things... drama! This weekend at Good Acting Studio, 507 Roswell Street, Marietta,GA 30060.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Tree decoration! Friends! A walk in the snow!

A peek into my day...

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.



» Sunday, December 03, 2017
First Sunday of Advent
Holiday Harbour post: "Never Enough Time"

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Christmas Creeps in on Little Cat Feet

Since we didn't have a delivery time for the new recliner, we pretty much stayed home all day Saturday. (To be fair, someone responded to the customer service call that the lady from La-Z-Boy put in yesterday, and we did get a call about noon that our window was 2:30 to 5, but by then it was too late to do anything.) So I got to work decorating and finished the dining room and all the geegaws on the living room bookcase. James also helped me get some of the other boxes down from the closet. I also cleaned off the hearth, realizing by how dusty the fireguard was that we haven't used the fireplace in a long time. It simply hasn't been cold enough, but we're supposed to have a big cold front come in the middle of next week. So maybe Tucker and Snowy will see a "tame fire" for the first time.

("Tame fire" is a family joke. When we moved in the old house, Jerry Lawson kindly installed a gas log for us as we didn't want to deal with firewood and creosote in the chimney. This was back when we had Leia, and she took one look at the flame in the fireplace that suddenly appeared, and cast this very anxious look at James. "Daddy, that's a fire. I know what that is, and it's a fire. Is it supposed to be in the house?" James noticed her expression and petted her, and I said, "It's okay, Leia, it's a tame fire." She looked very doubtful. Anyway, we put some pumice stone in the fireplace along with the stuff that makes it look like "coals" are glowing. The pumice makes the fire pop as if wood was burning. One night we finally got Leia to relax and curl up in front of the fire, and one of the tiny pumice stones popped right out of the fireplace and popped her on the flank. She wasn't hurt, but gave the fireplace an injured look, stalked away, and would never sleep near it again.)

They delivered the chair about three—we knew the deliveryman; he lives down the street—and to our surprise and delight, he took the old chair away with him. We did not want to pay $80 more dollars to have them take it away. I mean, the "bones" of the chair were still good; it was still structurally sound. It just needed reupholstering. Anyone who can reupholster would be getting a bargain with new foam and fabric.

And then we could go out. We thought about going to West Cobb Diner for dinner—nope, not tired of turkey yet—but since James had a 25 percent off coupon for Barnes & Noble, and I had a 20 (don't ask), and the best Barnes & Noble is miles away from West Cobb, we went to Longhorn instead. Then wandered about the bookstore, where James used his coupon on the history of the aircraft carrier and I used mine on the newest "Year Round Christmas" mystery. I also picked up the Christmas "Daphne's Diary" and "Period Living," plus two Nikki Heat books I don't have from the remainder table. Looks like I have them all now except for the latest crossover with Derek Storm.

Stayed up too late as always, so this morning when I woke up early it was surprising that James was not. Indeed, after shuffling sleepily into the bathroom, he went back to sleep while I was the one that got up and put the decorations up in the kitchen. James did get more sleep, then we had breakfast and went grocery shopping, first after the twofers at Publix, and then for the basics at Kroger. Then back to the house. I put the decorations on the room divider, then got the village box upstairs (and the board that goes on the mantel) and put up our little World War II Christmas town, and the string for Christmas cards (when we get more than one 😀 ). Sad to say there was no time left to do anything with the foyer.

There was one last wing left from "Monty" the Thanksgiving turkey, so I had that for supper, with a little left over for a sandwich for tomorrow. James had chili. Watched The Small One and then the Carol Burnett 50th anniversary special. Wish they'd just show clips and less chatting, although I was so happy to see Lyle Waggoner and Steve Lawrence.

Got some middling photographs of tonight's "Supermoon" over the house with Christmas lights on. I have got to learn how to manually set my camera to take photos in darkness. I played with the shutter speeds, but got nothing very satisfying. The streetlight in front of the house doesn't help!

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» Friday, December 01, 2017
Broken Winded or Broken Rib?

Remember that endless round of complaints about the reaction to the flu shot and the cough and the fever and all that other gunk I've posted previously?

Yeah, well it never really went away, it just changed its mode of attack. Last Monday, I noticed when I hefted my work bag to go home, that my left side hurt. Could this have been from all those coughing jags I'd had earlier? If that was it, it struck me that it was a little late; my bouts of coughing had pretty much calmed down, even if I still had a sore throat. The worst part was when I did cough; sometimes it really hurt, so I learned to hold my left side when I did. Holding my side seemed to keep my side from feeling like it was about to pop out. The pain didn't keep me from sleeping or doing anything, but it ached constantly and was wearing me down day by day.

Anyway, since my birthday was coming up, it meant the car tag renewals were due, and that meant inspections had to be done. So Tuesday I took Twilight to the mechanic to get the oil changed and the inspection done. I need two tires and my front brakes are at 30 percent, so that will need to be done after the first of the year, although Mike told me if I don't drive too much it will be okay for while. Wednesday my chair at work made the pain in my side worse (this is the "$1600 ergonomic chair" that is one of the most uncomfortable chairs I've ever sat in) and the ride home made it worse.

Now Thursday we had planned to have James telework so I could take the truck to get its oil changed and get inspected. But there were "suits" in his office this week and there was no teleworking. So Thursday I woke up early, took James to work, then took the truck to the mechanic. At eleven I went to the dentist. Yes, I finally have all my teeth deep cleaned and will need to go for a followup in February. (Yeah, I still have the tooth with the recission. If it doesn't bother me, I'm going to leave it, because it requires oral surgery.) Later in the afternoon the truck was ready, so they came to pick me up. I got out of the pickup truck they transported me in, forgot to hold my side when I coughed—oh, dear God! I thought I ruptured something because there was this hot, sharp new pain that hurt when I breathed. I didn't just see stars, I saw constellations, and I think Pluto was in there somewhere. There was now a permanent, painful knot in my left side just to the left of my breast. I was gasping so much even Mike asked me what was wrong.

Julie (my dental hygenist) had said I really should call the doctor even if the pain wasn't bad, since I was starting to wonder if I had a kidney stone. Well, after the cough, it seemed expedient.

So I went to that appointment at nine this morning. Dr. Jones said she works fast, and boy, did she mean it. When I wondered if it was a kidney stone she said bluntly "Are you seeing blood when you urinate? Does it hurt when you urinate?" and my answer was no to both. She said if the pain I was describing was a kidney stone, I would have either or both of those signs and I wouldn't be able to sit in the chair I was currently sitting in. She probed the area, listened to my lungs, and said while it didn't sound like I had pneumonia, she wanted to rule out that or a cracked rib from my previous coughing. I expressed surprise; as I said, the pain began pretty much after the coughing jag was over. She said it could have started during the coughing jag but worsened afterward.

So down I went for an x-ray. I wasn't there five minutes before the technician came out and said the x-ray machine was down and we'd have to wait 45 minutes. The other people waiting said they could reschedule, but I couldn't. So I sat to wait; a nice nurse got me a cup of water. Then he came back out and said the x-ray was down for the count. So I went back upstairs to see what Dr. Jones wanted me to do. I was no sooner talking to her than her nurse's head popped in. The x-ray machine was working again! So back downstairs I went, but I did finally get the x-ray, and then had to wait.

By this time it was after 11 and I was starving. Luckily I found a watermelon candy in my pouch. Finally, back to the doctor. No pneumonia, no cracked ribs. She thinks it is just extreme muscle pain from the past and present coughing. She is bothered by the fact that I had a low grade fever (99.2) upon checking in, my blood pressure was low (99/55), and I still had the cough, even if it wasn't as violent these days. So it's another course of antibiotics, cough medicine, and steroids for the pain. If it isn't better by next week, back I go.

My left side was really hurting after all those trips upstairs and downstairs, but I decided to salvage the day. I had lunch at Tin Drum and swilled the first three of the course of steroids, and then went out to the Apple Annie craft show. On my first shot, I got irritated at the two police officers they had directing traffic. I could clearly see empty spaces in the parking lot and three cars left while I was turning around, but they were tenaciously guarding the "lot full" sign. I was hurting too much to drive the two miles to the other church where the shuttle was operating, so I grumped back to Trader Joe's to pick up more of the gingerbread bars we bought on Sunday. They must have been popular because there were only about seven packages left!

By the time I'd eaten one, I figured I'd driven all this way in super-annoying traffic and I might as well try to get in. So I went past the supercops to the front entrance; as usual the right hand didn't know what the left was doing and there out front the "Lot Full" sign and orange cones were pushed to the side. I found someone just backing out.

There was a huge number of jewelry dealers this year. In each of the classrooms, there was at least one jewelry dealer, plus more in the gym and in the parish hall. It was a bit overwhelming. I bought a little ceramic dish for James' tea strainer and spoon, and, in a fit of whimsy, one of the items they were selling for the missions, a wonderful pashmina in autumn colors. I also ran into Claudia Barbour, who I hadn't seen since last year's Apple Annie. She has bought property in Toccoa!

So when I get home I discover La-Z-Boy has called to give us a preliminary time for our chair delivery. Unfortunately the little robot lady giving the number to call dropped one of the digits. I called La-Z-Boy, but all the nice lady who answered the phone could do was send an e-mail to the delivery people. They didn't call back again. That means we'll just have to wait around all day tomorrow for the chair. Gee, thanks.

I was wiped out and fell asleep in the spare room. We ordered dinner in and I had another steroid. I've had four now and it's amazing how much it has already helped the pain. It's definitely not gone but I can take a deep breath without wanting to scream. In the meantime, watched a Christmas episode of QI thanks to Britbox and tonight's Hawaii Five-0.

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