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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» Tuesday, December 31, 2019
My Favorite Dozen Things About 2019

 1. James didn't have to go to the hospital all year!
 2. After a false start, James' arthritis medicine worked.
 3. Dark chocolate Oreos.
 4. Lidl.
 5. Finally resolved loveseat problem and moved my desk into craft room (loveseat is now a storage platform!), leaving room for toy chest in bedroom which is now blanket chest.
 6. Bought all Lassie black-and-white episodes (uncut).
 7. Finally found the baby monitor so I can use it when doing laundry.
 8. Finally rid of that stupid Pixel phone.
 9. Subscribed to PBS Passport.
10. Saw David Tennant at DragonCon.
11. Molly of Denali.
12. Pam-next-door's Christmas tree.*

*I suppose I should explain. Pam moved next door in October. She's renting the downstairs of the house, and I guess she has kitchen privileges upstairs. She has a little Shih Tzu named Diesel who is having a territorial dispute with Tucker, who imagines he owns the neighborhood. Anyway, she had a Christmas tree downstairs in her "parlor," but right before Christmas she put a real one up upstairs in the dining room window. Since she doesn't spend most of the time upstairs, most of the time there was just a little light in the kitchen and the tree glowing in the window. Well, I spent so much time staring at that tree every time I walked Tucker at night that Pam must have thought I was nuts. But instead I was flashing back to childhood and going to my Papà's house for Christmas. I've written about this several places, including in an essay called "The Magic House." From that essay: slowly make my way up the cellar steps to the back entry, and thus to the kitchen.

As always it was dark, except for a nightlight, in a room that looked as if it hadn't changed since the 1940s. The newest appliance was the big white-and-chrome Roper stove with its two ovens, seated like a squat monarch overlooking a tiny kingdom. The table, looking like a dwarf compared with its big cousin downstairs, was covered with a red-checked cloth, and with the white-fronted kitchen cabinets and the homey little memorabilia on the walls and side tables, it looked like something out of a dream. Aunty never forgot the upstairs tables; cut glass dishes held ribbon candy and chocolates even here, and I'd be able to sneak a few more bites away from Mom's disapproving eye. But food was not the lure, but the light...

There was a soft glow from the dining room coming through the glass-paned door; to open it led you in a room from another century, furnished with the heavy sideboards and dining room set, and lit, like some enchanted glade, simply by the light of the Christmas tree. This had electric lights, of course, not the more dangerous candles, but these were always the original, large bulb sets, supplemented for many years by a dwindling few of the fascinating bubble lights. In those bulbs the ornaments flashed and glittered and twinkled: old molded glass fruits side-by-side with the Woolworth's balls both old--including clear ones from World War II--and new, the branches hung with the heavy old-fashioned icicles in lieu of the newer mylar ones. They danced in the little bursts of air that crept nevertheless under the cold windows and collided with the warmer air from the cast-iron radiators.

If I were truly alone, if one of the uncles had not crept upstairs to watch the big cabinet black-and-white TV and fall asleep--"I'm just resting my eyes!"--on the capacious sofa, I could curl up on the floor under the tree where brightly wrapped gifts and the manger set sat, to smooth the cotton footing under the various statues, to move sheep into their proper places, and wonder what it had truly been like in Bethlehem on that night. If you laid back on the cold floor just right and looked up, there was a faerie path between the tree branches lit by color and glitter--if you could only walk forward, you too could be a part of the Magic. There was the quiet to think, to dream, but still comforted by the sounds of the party below and the faint murmur of Christmas stories playing on the television.

Of course Pam's tree's didn't have big bulbs or vintage ornaments and lead tinsel, but lit up there, glowing multi-color against the dim dining room, seen with a stage curtain frame of drapery pulled up in a scallop on either side, glimpsed through open shutters of Venetian blinds, well, somehow, if just for a moment, that magic door opened up again and comforted me and set up longing all at once.

I miss Pam's tree.

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And So, It's New Year's Eve Again
It's a chilly day, starting out in the 30s, going up to the 50s, just the way I like it. When I took Tucker for his walk, the sky was a fierce, bright blue, the kind of color that hurts your eyes in its beauty. Birds were calling from the trees and a brisk wind swept in from the north; hard to believe two days ago it was 70°F—I much prefer the weather today, even if I could have used a heavier coat and stockings!

James is teleworking today. The swelling in his hand appears to be going down, and it hurts less, so we are crossing fingers that it was only a sprain he got when he probably slipped and caught himself (possibly when he thwacked his elbow and made it bleed on the sheets). We ice it three times a day and support it other times with an Ace bandage. I think having him not go into work yesterday, as the advice nurse suggested, was a good idea; he didn't have to risk losing his balance again or having to catch or push something with his bad hand, or lift his laptop case.

Tucker is experiencing his usual anxiety about the popping noises outside. He desperately hates fireworks. We tried tranquilizer treats on him last year and they did not work, even though we took the Petco lady's advice and started them almost a week early. At night he huddles next to me on the sofa or James on the recliner and shivers.

Nothing bothers Snowy—unless it's a loud noise close by or Mommy doing weird movements on her stepper. He's enjoyed the last few weeks with all the familiar Christmas stories and music playing away in the background. Raise the volume, he sings louder. He had a good time last night when I ran an old recording of the Boston Pops holiday concert, with Conan O'Brien reading "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

We had a quiet Christmas, but it's hard to tell because it zipped by with the speed of light. One minute Thanksgiving was over and now it's New Year's Eve. I know I decorated, made cookies, replaced 150 light bulbs on two Christmas trees (I still haven't told that story yet), walked around downtown, went to the ARTC Christmas performance, and to the Butlers' for Christmas, but that all seems like it went by in seconds. Maybe the best thing about work turned out to be how the hours crawled by any time I was in the office. 😕

I can't say it's been a bad year because we had only one scare and that ended up as spending the night in the emergency room. James did have to have those two skin cancers removed, one from each side of his face. Glad that, after a false start, the Plaquinil Dr. Salazar prescribed for James did work and he's not in such terrible arthritis pain, that the new blood pressure meds helped as well, and that just by tweaking his work snacks we reduced his A1C numbers. I want to keep this positive vibe up, because most of this year I feel like I've been an emotional wreck. I am not over the car accident last year: I hate driving anywhere anymore, even if it's to Lidl to get some of their amazing "dinner rolls," and, as James will (somewhat irritatedly) tell you, I am hyper-nervous when we drive in traffic. I am so glad I do not commute anywhere any longer (especially since traffic on both of my previous routes to work grows worse every day, and each nightly news show is lit up with the horrible accidents every day). I don't seem to get any comfort out of my crafts or writing any longer; it's only when I can disappear into a book with that great soother of souls, instrumental Christmas music, in the background, that I feel any peace at all. I feel like a lot of times I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I spent Sunday prepping a new journal; sometimes it seems as it is the sole thing that keeps me sane. Yesterday I started writing out a "20 for 2020" goal (re Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" podcast) and ended up with only seventeen items. I also answered the questions in the back of this year's journal and my answers came out pretty sad. Today I slept nearly eight hours and already I'm in the mood for a nap!

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» Friday, December 27, 2019
St. John's Day

It ended up being a quiet day because James is having some trouble with his left hand. It appears to be swollen, so when we went to Kaiser today to pick up my med refills, we tried to get in at the Express Clinic, but it was closed (so what's the use of having it and advertising it?). Our only alternative was going to Urgent Care, so we decided to try a cold pack instead.

James said he was going to hurt whether he was out or at home, so we stopped in at Hobby Lobby, where I got a few discount items, one to make a gift. By then it was after two, so we went to Tin Drum and picked up something for lunch to bring home. Tucker, of course, immediately appeared.

I decided to put a movie on: The Last Jedi, which we had, but still hadn't watched. (I thought about us going to Rise of Skywalker, but James basically can't get through a movie anymore, and even a bargain matinee would cost us both $30! Wow! I was thinking about seeing Greta Gerwig's Little Women, but even the cheap theatre is almost $8 for a matinee. I think I'll wait for it on Redbox or Netflix.) Well, it sure took its sweet time getting to the point! Great how they squeezed ninety minutes of plot into a two and a half hour film! I cannot for the life of me understand why the stupid fanboys hated Rose Pico so much that they harassed Kelly Marie Tran into getting off social media. For me, she was the best part of the film: the ordinary person just in a little awe of the heroic rebellion figures she'd heard about, thrown into the actual action.

Also glad to see Poe got to do a lot more in this film, and BB8 turned out to be a downright miracle worker.

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» Thursday, December 26, 2019
Boxing Day

Thursday morning was a definite case of "F Troop back to normal, sir!" with the additional chore of laundry that had to be done since my laundry day is Wednesday. James was out of Tylenol and mandarin orange cups, so after breakfasting and dog walking, we were off to Costco. We also picked up sliced cheese and checked out the books and the new magazines—yes, Christmas is over: TurboTax is out front and center! From Costco we went to Publix to pick up the twofers, lunchmeat, yogurt, and the other usuals, and came home. We went out so late that by the time we put the groceries up, it was after two, but I wanted to go fill up my car and check after-Christmas sales, so I left James to his computer and went out for a couple of hours.

I decided that I would choose whether I got the gasoline first or last if my low gas light came on before I got to the turn for Costco, and sure enough, it popped on as I turned on Greers Chapel Road. So it was gasoline first, then down to JoAnn, where I got three nice fat rolls of wrapping paper for $4. Stopped at Michaels, but nothing worth buying, and neither store had any bows. I could go to At Home (formerly Garden Ridge) or I could go to Barnes & Noble after that, and you can guess which I chose. Lucky I did, because they had all their featured books (the big double row of books they now keep in the front of the store) fifty percent off, and I was able to get Nathalia Holt's The Queens of Animation, about the women who worked at Disney. I loved her Rise of the Rocket Girls! It's on my list of favorite books of 2019.

Was home by 4:30 and in a little while James made dinner with two of the pork chops we got for Christmas—his mom and sister sent us a box from Omaha Steaks: some great-tasting hamburgers we already ate three off, a half dozen steaks, a half dozen pork chops, some hot dogs, and even some little desserts. All yum and nothing to dust. An inspired gift.

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» Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Christmas After All
You've heard of "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," right? Well, we had presents, but it was a rather low-key holiday itself due to James' work schedule. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty quiet. Christmas Eve morning I found the traditional King's College "Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" live on the BBC and listened to the entire thing for the first time. I have a CD of the service, but it changes each year. This concert has been done for 100 years now, and the college itself was built upon the instructions of King Henry VI. A lovely service! I particularly like the carols that don't get a lot of play here in the States, like "In the Bleak Midwinter" and the wonderful "Candlelight Carol."

During the afternoon I made a short jaunt to Lidl to pick up milk and bread, including a loaf for Christmas dinner. Afternoon dinner was a bit of a disappointment. We usually have macaroni and "gravy" on Christmas Eve, and I made some sauce yesterday, but the boneless pork ribs I used were very lean and hard, and it seemed overcooked.

Something fun happened later in the day. A few days ago I was listening to a "Happier With Gretchen Rubin" podcast when she talked about something called a "chaffle," which is a waffle made with one egg and shredded cheese, the ultimate in low carb.  I told James about it, and he was intrigued enough to order a small, one-waffle waffle iron from Amazon. It arrived and for supper he made "chaffles" with Swiss cheese and some with cheddar. I tried one of the Swiss. I really hate the taste of cooked eggs, so I poured on the maple syrup alà Addie Mills and found it bearable. Maybe I'll have some eggs once in a while via chaffles.

I had Christmas specials on all day and we watched The Homecoming at night. James got so busy with the chaffles that we never did go out and see Christmas lights, and it had to be an early night due to his teleworking next day.

I remember all those Christmas mornings I was up in the "wee smalls" because I just couldn't wait for  Christmas morning! Since I couldn't get up my mom and dad early, I would gather up my stuffed animals instead and have Christmas with them (I would buy them new ribbons at Garr's Fabrics every year). But now I'm an adult, and the best gift is sleep! So James was at his post at seven, and I slept until after eight.

Spent the morning prepping and then the afternoon cooking up the green bean casserole and the baked maple butter carrots I was taking to the Butlers. We had lunch about one and then opened gifts. James gave me three books, a Babylon 5 guide I didn't have, the Rivers of London novella The Furthest Station, and Tip of the Iceberg, a man who travels around Alaska. He also found a new Uno game for me, Uno Flip. This has a second side of differently colored cards that you play when you get a "Flip" card in the regular deck.

I bought him a Jethro Tull performance DVD, a book on the sinking of the Bismarck, and one of the two new "1632" alternative history stories.

"The fids" also "bought" us seasons 4-6 of Perry Mason so now we have the entire series (which even CBS All Access doesn't!).

About three I gathered up the food and the gifts and drove to the Butlers' house for Christmas dinner. James would join us after he finished work.

It was a lovely dinner, but Ron and Lin always have a lovely Christmas for all of our "family by choice." Each of the dishes was made with love by someone. Charles cooked a 27-pound turkey. Alex made a roast and Clair a pot roast with delicious gravy. The Butlers bought a Honeybaked ham and Ron made his killer mashed potatoes and Lin made pies. Then there was a big relish tray, corn pudding, the French bread I brought, and biscuits, and challah bread, and our carrots and beans. The green beans came particularly well even though I never did anything like this before. James walked me through it: saute some onions, then I made a mix of cream of celery soup, chopped up fresh celery into it along with slivered almonds, and then layered the onions and the frozen beans, pouring the mixture on top of them, and sprinkling the top with French's french fried onion rings, baking until it was hot. Clair particularly liked it with with the cream of celery soup.

Then we talked awhile and had dessert, and talked more and did presents. I opened two and saved another two until James got there, which he did rather late. Almost everyone had left before he was able to arrive and eat some of the food I saved him, but mostly to talk with those who were left. Helped tidy up a bit and then left Ron and Lin to some post-Christmas peace and quiet. Luckily our usual Thursday-Saturday weekend was upon us and we could stay up a little while to digest our dinners.

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» Sunday, December 22, 2019
Christmas Comes Marching In

I still can never understand it.

Look at it. It's almost Christmas. Summer went by like a constipated sloth wearing a body cast. The weather finally turned cool (and not until October 3, for God's sake!) and since then it's moved like the Indy 500, days just tumbling over days in their haste to go by: leaves turning, Hallowe'en, Veteran's Day skidding into Thanksgiving, with Christmas decorations already up everywhere, and suddenly it's less than ten days until the 25th.

Which is why after popping into Publix on Thursday to do the weekly shopping we returned home, I obeyed the spinning clock, pulled the divider out of the oven, prepped the dining room table, and commenced to baking wine biscuits. This took all afternoon and filled the house with a pleasant odor. I managed to finish one bottle of hearty burgundy without having to start another. Then at suppertime James practiced his culinary alchemy and we had turkey wings done in the air fryer basted with maple teriyaki sauce. To say this was divine is wayyyyyyy underpraising it. Oh, goodness, that was delicious, and eating them did not make me ill the way eating baked ones usually do, probably because all the fat leached out into the air fryer, leaving just crispy skin and juicy meat behind.

Thursday evening we also watched the new version of A Christmas Carol with Scrooge played by Guy Pearce, who is only in his fifties. This helped bring to life Dickens' description that Scrooge was aged by his miserliness rather than years. The producer of this is the guy who does the often bloody and violent Peaky Blinders series, and he commented that most versions make A Christmas Carol so cozy that you don't see what genuinely hard times Dickens was railing about. He wanted to make a Carol that more reflected the type of dreadful life the poor had in Victorian London. Well, the cast was excellent, it all looked good, and it did really bring home the horrors of poverty in that era. But in this version Scrooge isn't just a guy who decided money was more important than people (something that must have come from his father sending him to such cheap boarding schools), he's a sociopath made that way by a brutal father who basically traded Scrooge's innocence for free tuition. Scrooge isn't just greedy, he's damaged psychologically, and that shows in his character; what he does in this version of the Carol isn't just unfeeling, it's downright cruel (especially what he inflicts on Mrs. Cratchit). So when he does see the error of his ways at the end, it's not the happy reclamation of a soul. The end is a real downer instead, where it's implied that instead of other Scrooges that can be reclaimed, that there's just more of them and the spirits have more work to do, basically that it's an endless job that will never be finished. We aren't welcoming the one Prodigal Son back to the fold, we're instead emphasizing all the lost souls that will never be reclaimed. It's not hopeful, it's just more pessimistic.

It's also been tarted up to give a couple of female characters more to do. Intriguing idea to make Scrooge's sister one of the ghosts, but she just pops up that she's always "been interested in science" in the dialog like that updates her somehow, but seems to be there for no reason for that choice but to note that women were actually intelligent back then but were not given a chance to show it. It's Mrs. Cratchit's role that's been expanded the most, but the fact that she is played by a woman of color and then has some special connection with the spirit world smacks of stereotypes of Caribbean women and voodoo. It's like the stereotypical convention that Native Americans all have some type of spirit guide who can save them in times of crisis, a clichè that even made it into Star Trek: Voyager. So: looked good, excellent cast, but very grim, no hope, very bloody at times (check out the decapitated pet mouse). Would love one that kept the reality of the time with the story of the book!

Very surprised that I woke up on Friday morning with no nightmares after that one. (The intrusive and badly timed commercial breaks for no movie I would ever want to see except for Rise of Skywalker probably helped.) I had a good Hallmark coupon and wanted to add to a gift that was woefully inadequate. So James and I packed up the truck and headed for Amy's Hallmark at Town Center, where I found something quite nice, and also, with a second coupon, a gift to put away. We then went into the Publix next door (mostly to use the rest room, but also to pick up something we'd forgotten), and then stopped at Barnes & Noble to spend all of James' huge Christmas bonus, a $5 Starbuck's gift card, on a peppermint hot chocolate and a brownie.

Saturday we had a busy but fun day. We went to Lidl for bread, milk, and juice in the morning, then once home did a few other chores. Cut it really close to the time we had to leave (didn't realize it was so late), but got on chat with Verizon and cancelled those stupid Hum devices for the car. They're costing us $30 month and James' has never worked with his truck. In fact, he ended up getting a new one, which they made him pay for, and it still didn't work, and I was incensed when I discovered they wanted to charge us a termination fee for the "new" account. We told them we didn't want a new account when we had to get a new unit; we wanted to put the new unit on the old number, but apparently they didn't do that. Anyway, I got the dude to waive the termination fee, and we got the 55+ Unlimited plan so James doesn't have to worry about using his Surface at work and eating up all the data. (Unfortunately this doesn't seem to make us eligible for the free Disney+. Ah, well, I already pay for three streaming services we almost never use.)

We had supper at Fried Tomato Buffet and tanked up the truck at Costco up the hill, then set out on the freeway for the city of Tucker and specifically the Tucker Recreation Center, where the Atlanta Radio Theatre was putting on this year's version of An Atlanta Christmas. The rec center is an old school, and the show was in the auditorium, and we enjoyed this year's version with all of our old favorites, including "Are You Lonely Tonight," "Davy Crockett Christmas," and "USO Christmas." Stopped to talk to Clair and Daniel and Ron and Lin afterwards.

On the way in I'd noticed there was a tiny little white building set in front of the rec center on brick pilings. As we came out, used the flashlight on my phone to see what it was. In front the rec center people had planted a butterfly garden, with signs letting you know what each thing was. Turned out the "little building," which James thought might be 15 feet by 20, was an old courthouse! The "Browning Courthouse," specifically, from Tucker, original structure built in 1860 (!) and used until 1977! Wow. They must have had to sit on each other's laps!

We managed to beat the rain home and Tucker had his walk that did not turn into "a bath."

And then "click!" and our weekend was over.

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» Saturday, December 14, 2019
Anticlimactic Saturday

Today I didn't oversleep, but I was aggravated to discover that I hadn't taken my pills again last night. This is the second Friday night in a row. This means I not only didn't take my heart pill, but I didn't take my fenofibrate, which controls more than my cholesterol. Stupid.

So I moved deliberately this morning. I continued wrapping gifts. James left to go to his meeting. I had a sandwich for lunch. Once I could step away from the bathroom for more than a half hour, I went to the annual Mable House Christmas craft fair. I was a bit disappointed. Either it was very small this year, only the big hall full, and then a back meeting room with auction items (oh, how I would have liked that book lectern!); last year the two other meeting rooms had vendors in them as well, so there were a lot fewer choices. Like Apple Annie, mostly jewelry. Some ceramic products. Homemade jams. Someone had homemade candy bars. I was in and out in fifteen minutes.

Stopped at Aldi on the way home, but no nifty gadgets, and I was feeling rather limp, so I came home. Finished a gift, finished wrapping gifts, and cleaned up the spare room, but was exhausted and lay down on the futon instead of putting up the woodland tree now that I had the bureau cleared.

James called on his way home and asked if I still wanted to go out. I did, but I didn't. He brought home Chinese food from Dragon instead, and we had chocolate M&M peppermint cookies for dessert while watching White Christmas, and then I watched Lassie Christmas episodes for the rest of the night.

And, yes, I took my pills tonight! At seven o'clock, in fact.

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» Friday, December 13, 2019
Food and Friends and Food

Since we went out for fun yesterday we had to grocery shop today, and of all days I picked to oversleep! My alarm had gone off at eight, and I'd shut it off, sure I would wake up at nine or 9:30. But it was 10:30 before I'd awakened, and I had to skin into my clothes, walk the dog quickly, and then we were off to Publix in the car, since it was spoiling for rain. We had to do this doublequick as we had to be at lunch at 12:30. So we made it through Publix in record time, even with having a nice chat with the lady who helped us with our groceries, and even got home in time to put things away, and use the "facilities."

West Cobb Diner was crowded on this chilly, damp, and gloomy day, but they managed to squeeze the seven of us in (the Spiveys, Aubrey, Juanita, Jessie, and us) and we had a nice dinner. Jessie has a 3D printer and brought in the model of Hogwarts castle and grounds she had done. The level of detail is phenomenal. She had started to print an R2-D2 but the printer came unbalanced on the second day (you read that correctly) of printing out the dome top and she had to stop it. We were talking about tiny houses and a new thing that they are trying in Mexico: 3D printing small houses of concrete (yes, the 3D printer extrudes concrete instead of plastic). Aubrey also got some additional hours on her church job, which is great. She'll get extra money and still have time to do manuscript editing freelance.

On the way home, James and I stopped at two different Lowes because I am down to about 20 replacement bulbs and I wanted more. Well, the Lowes Christmas stuff is already on discount and all the replacement midget lights were gone! I did get some of the clear C7 incandescents for the candles downstairs and clear bulbs for the nightlights. Otherwise they are so expensive.

We were heading for Costco, but it was so rainy and miserable we made a U-turn on the East-West Connector and went to Lidl instead. Picked up bread, milk, chocolate, proscuitto for a couple of lunches (on sale), juice. They were sold out of ground turkey again, so I got James ground beef instead.

I went into the spare bedroom and wrapped James' gifts because I knew he had to wrap something for the Secret Santa game at his club party tomorrow, and I didn't want him to accidentally come upon them. After Hawaii Five-0 ended, he did his wrapping, including my gift, and I spent the rest of the night wrapping the gifts we need for the Lawsons' party on Sunday.

Was very glad to crawl into bed when the time came!

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» Thursday, December 12, 2019
Birthday Girl

My birthday (#64 on the Hit Parade) was actually yesterday, but since James was at work for ten hours, there wasn't exactly time for mutual celebrating. Besides, Wednesday is my laundry day, and that's inviolate except for emergencies. However, once I had the second load of clothes in the dryer, I did go out. I was going to stop at Barnes & Noble, then have lunch at Tin Drum.

I did stop at the bookstore, but while checking out the store was musing that a couple of gifts that I had seemed a little skimpy, so instead of buying lunch I bought two small things to add to the gifts. I also bought a new journal for 2020, even though I ordered one from the publisher two weeks ago. I've never gotten any acknowledgment that it was mailed. If I get it, I'll save it for 2021, if not I'll dispute the charge with my credit card company.

I'd rather go to Tin Drum next week when I have an extra protein anyway. That way I can make two meals of it.

On the way home I stopped at a couple of Dollar Tree stores looking for small 6x6 calendars. The small calendars you see sold in stores are 7x7 and don't fit next to my computer; I use one to track James' payday and tax/insurance bills. I suppose I can use the one on my computer, but it seems to have lost all the birthdays I put on it, so I don't know if I want to. No dice. I didn't find one until the last days of December last year.

By then I was hungry and headed home; as a treat watched four Christmas episodes of WSBK-TV38 (Boston)'s best show ever, the irrepressible Ask the Manager. Realized Cliff Allen's been gone for almost 21 years. 😥 I made macaroni "with the gravy" for supper and enjoyed every morsel, as I just had fruit and cheese when I got in.

Today we had an enjoyable day together. We picked up James' missing meds at Kaiser, then drove into Buckhead with a Barnes & Noble 25 percent off coupon that popped up this morning. The Buckhead B&N is next to a Publix, so we were able to drop off our bag for Toys for Tots before perusing the store. I was looking for the new Bryant and May mystery, but even though it's available on Amazon, not a sign of it in B&N. I got Philip Pullman's book about writing instead. James found a new David Weber book and three aviation calendars which he'll use to dress up his cubicle at work.

Then he took me out for a birthday lunch. There's a new place to eat downtown, the Marietta Square Market, basically a small version of Faneuil Hall in Boston, which is full of small restaurants. This has about ten different eating places, or maybe a dozen, including Cousins Maine Lobster. I was jonesing for a lobster roll, and they had one with butter instead of mayonnaise. Of course when I got there I noticed they carried another entry that was a lobster tail and tater tots. I have this tater tot thing. Alas, the lobster tail was tiny—I didn't know they could harvest lobsters that small! James had a huge portion of lamb curry and tandoori rice and some potatoes plus a spinach kind of mush, and most of it came home for a lunch. They also have a barbecue place, Cuban, burgers, pizza, sushi, Cajun, and more, plus a breakfast place/bakery. We got dessert from there when we were done.

Got home just in time to miss the rain, did the usual: news, Young Sheldon, last night's Forged in Fire, and more news.

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» Saturday, December 07, 2019
Friends and Food (and A Little Bit of Christmas, Right This Very Minute...)

We had Hair Day today; a very small crowd, only eight of us, and John Campbell, who popped in for a haircut and then headed out again. We had the sobering news that a friend has to have a cancer removed on Tuesday. It is outpatient surgery, but that doesn't make the diagnosis any better.

For lunch we had sandwich fixings and a little salad that James made, and goodies from the relish tray Mel and Phyllis brought. For dessert Ron and Lin bought a birthday cake that ended up being just for Lin and I, the other December "babies" having not made it this month. "A good time was had by all," I think! We finished up early because Sheri was having people over for the LSU vs. Georgia game.

Lunch perked me up, but I was feeling decidedly under the weather because like an idiot I forgot to take my pills last night, so I was not only stuffy, but my heart was hammering at the least movement because I'd missed my atenolol (and I can't take it in the morning because then I wouldn't be able to take it at night). I told James I'd take it easy for a couple of hours and see if we could go out to eat, but at suppertime my stomach was still dicey. Instead we had turkey soup for supper. We really screwed up with the turkey carcass Juanita gave us; we put too much water in. It basically tasted like poultry flavored water, with water predominating. We usually cook two packets of ramen noodles when we have them, but only use one packet of flavoring, so James tossed an oriental flavor packet in and made it just right, not too salty, not too bland. I had it with elbow noodles only and James added veg and canned chicken to his.

In the afternoon I did finish decorating the living room, with James' help, and then brought the empty box downstairs and put all the empties back in the closet. Just have one more box to empty, the decorations for the library and the lower hallway. I cleared out in the library to have a clear palette, so to speak.

Spent the evening watching The Bishop's Wife and then the Pearl Harbor episode of The Waltons.

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» Friday, December 06, 2019
Delights, Dessert, and When's Dinner?

Well, it was a busy but profitable and happy day.

First, we did sleep well, which is always a good thing. James got up first and I came muzzily back to the world a little while later. With dressing, morning prep, breakfast, and dog walking behind me, we girded up our loins and headed out the door. As we drove to our first destination, I was busily slapping return address labels on the Christmas cards.

James stopped for gas at Sam's Club, and I ran in to buy some Clorox2, which was on a good sale (saving $4.00), and as I trudged to the back of the store I passed bags of Halo mandarin oranges, also on sale. The oranges turned out to be providential, as you'll see!

First we were headed for the Apple Annie Craft Show, held at the Catholic Church of St. Ann on Roswell Road. We had a really nice time going from classroom to classroom looking at all the artists and their work, although there was an overabundance of jewelry artisans. Not that any of the items were bad to look at: all of it was lovely, including some intricate bracelets of chain mail, many gemstone bracelets, and some pendants that looked like landscape scenes but were just really different minerals curved within the stones. There are always things I love but cannot afford, but I don't begrudge the artists what they charge for them; having done crafts I know these gorgeous items take so much time to work.

I did buy some of the lavender spray from the Wolf Creek people which I use to scent the bedsheets; it's supposed to help with sleep, and it does smell sweet. And even with all the little carry bags I have, I bought something from the missions sale: a brightly multicolored bag with a llama on the front, made in Bolivia. It will fit a tablet or even two in it, and even has small pockets.

James had his fun in the nursery school bake sale room: we got about six desserts, including mint chocolate cookies, peanut butter cups, pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, etc. Also bought some toffee candy and two squares of fudge from the mission bake sale.

Of course we stopped in the church before leaving, to say a prayer. It was cool and dark in the sanctuary, and I prayed for everyone I knew and then some. I find such peace there.

(We had also parked the truck in the handicapped parking spaces, right next to the church's Christmas tree lot. It smelled divine! Miss the spicy pine of a real tree, but they make me too sick to want to have one.

So, with all the baked goods we would have been fixed for dessert for a week, but then we followed that up with a trip to Trader Joe's. We always go in December to stock up on their only-for-Christmas goodies like peppermint bark, peppermint puffs, and the piece de la resistance, the Candy Cane Jo-Jos. Jo-Jos are Trader Joe's version of an Oreo, and at Christmas the creamy interior is studded with candy cane pieces. They are wonderful, with the sharp chill sting of peppermint in every bite. We bought a box each of the items I mentioned, and then an extra set of the peppermint Jo-Jos and the peppermint bark to put away for darkest July and a taste of heaven when summer has gotten on our last nerve.

We came home by way of Kaiser, where James needed to have bloodwork done for the nephrologist to make sure the blood pressure medication wasn't messing up any of his numbers*, and to pick up nearly $150 worth of prescriptions (and two were missing!). Oy! The oranges I grabbed at Sam's served us in good stead, because we never did get lunch! The moment we got in the door I started some chicken roasting (the thighs we got at Publix yesterday) which we had with chicken-flavored noodles. I also put some Christmas things on the hearth and on the media shelf, and put up the little "ethnic Christmas" display in our bedroom (the Scots and Italian Santas and ceramic trees and other little things).

Chilled out for the rest of the afternoon with The Incredible Dr. Pol, the news (oh, well, you can't really chill out with the news, can you, not these days)?, the nightly game shows, and finally Hawaii Five-0.

(*Well, hurrah, bloodwork looks to be okay! In fact, his A1C dropped from 9.7 to 7.6! I guess exchanging granola bars for snacks at work for nuts and hummus on crackers and snack portions of cheese did the trick.)

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» Thursday, December 05, 2019
We Need a Little Christmas

It has been a "kringly" week as I've been having a good go at prepping the house for Christmas. Sunday I put up the outside lights and the candoliers and inside door wreaths. On Monday I put finishing touches on the porch, put out the wooden reindeer, and put all the Thanksgiving and fall back into their boxes.

Tuesday was crazy busy because I went hopscotching from Home Depot to Hobby Lobby to Lowes to Walmart in an effort to buy another timer and Christmas replacement lights. I found both, thankfully, because the project I started Monday night still needed completing on Tuesday and I'd almost run out of parts. (More about this in another post.) Once home, since I had the dining room cleared, I at least put up the ceppo.

Wednesday I went full blast decorating the dining room and the kitchen, and putting up the Rudolph tree in the hallway and some Christmas items in the spare room (I couldn't put up the woodland tree because most of the spare room was scattered with gifts I needed to wrap). Along with all this I managed to clean house and do the laundry, and work around James on Wednesday because he had low blood sugar during the night and wasn't really safe to go into work.

It was a good thing I was restless this morning, because I had things to do. Post breakfast and dog-walking, I wrapped and boxed gifts going to three different locations. Then, so not to wait till later when it got more crowded, we did the weekly shopping at Publix. There weren't many good BOGOs this week, but there were chicken thighs. After we brought everything home and put it up, I wrapped and stocked the final box and we headed to the Smyrna post office. We stopped for takeout at Hibachi Grill instead of messing with lunch, and I printed labels and prepped the Christmas cards to mail. The last thing I did was put up our 1940s wartime Christmas village. It always makes me smile when it's finally put together, and I wish I could pop into it to just experience the holidays in a different era.

Been running through Christmas specials this week as well: "Merry Gentlemen" from All Creatures Great and Small, the Christmas episodes of The Good Life and To the Manor Born, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Christmas Story. More to come when I've got a minute...

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