Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Wednesday, March 25, 2020
The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window... is dark now, but, watching the news, it's been dark for the past few days, even when the sun was out.

I am thinking...
...or trying not to think, while being mindful of our health, and washing hands. Since we really must go out to the grocery store, the paranoia is kind of hard to hold off. I went to Lidl today and sprayed the handle of the cart with alcohol, and the checkout screen, and used wipes. You hardly want to pick anything up.

I am thankful...
...for family and friends who are well.

In the kitchen...
...dirty dishes again. We had roast chicken and air-fried onion rings for dinner this afternoon. The latter was quite good! We think it needs nine minutes to cook instead of ten, but they were still luscious, and the onions used were very sweet. We were surprised because this was the cheap Publix brand.

I am wearing... Andy Runton "Owly" blue t-shirt, blue-grey-and-white buffalo check pajama bottoms, and white socks.

I am creating...
...nothing right now. I did cook chicken this afternoon. Not feeling like creating much now, although I should be.

I am going...
...right now, no one's going anywhere, unless they're six feet apart! But remember, folks, you don't have to stay inside! Fresh air is the best thing for you to beat off illness. Just don't be close to other people!

I am wondering... long all this can keep up. Small businesses are already suffering. Today Georgia government shut down hair salons and nail shops. I don't use either, but I know many paychecks are acquired through them. Restaurants? Hotels? Indie bookstores? What will happen?

I am reading...
..."dead tree": the second volume of the letters of Dorothy L. Sayers. Magazine: "Reminisce." E-book: The Journals of Beatrix Potter (but my loan ends on that today).

I am hoping... everyone else, that they find something to treat COVID-19. The stories of people's deaths are so heartbreaking: the 47-year-old, the 17-year-old boy, the elderly priest in Italy who gave up his ventilator to a younger patient...

I am looking forward to...
...freedom (and toilet paper not being a rare commodity!)

I am learning...
...impatience with stupid or callous people, like the jerk who spit on someone. Unmannerly brutes!

Around the house...
...James is gaming, Tucker is trying to find food (we had to put him on a diet; the vet says he's two pounds overweight), Snowy's been singing but is quiet now except for an occasional kiss, and the television is chattering with more closedown messages.

I am pondering...

A favorite quote for today...
"It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it." . . . Rainer Maria Rilke

One of my favorite things...
...having a mandarin orange at night. James and I started doing this over a year ago, and it's such a homely [in the British sense] little habit that makes us feel as if everything is okay.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Picking up my prescription refills, a trip to Publix, and then it's back to social distancing for us.

A peek into my day...
How about a peek into quite a few days ago? This is my friend Juanita with her new Sheltie puppy Riley! Yes, he's as adorable as he looks!

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



» Sunday, March 22, 2020
Farewells in the Rain (Atomicon, Part 4)

Alas, neither of us slept as well last night. I guess the crickets/air conditioner ambient sounds from the phone didn't work on us well enough this time. This always seems to happen on the Sunday morning of Atomicon. (Other things always happen to me, too. Despite being careful, I had the usual case of "traveler's complaint," although it was largely gone by the time we left.)

We got our little breakfast bags and had our last breakfast in the conference room; slowly people started trailing in and eventually the room was full. I'd talked the front desk into giving us an extra hour to checkout, so we had good time to pack and visit with everyone, and then about 11:45 I closed everything up, and towed it all one by one into the conference room.

Just as I finished, the staff came filing into the conference room. Charles had had an idea last week: knowing that the coronavirus was going to completely shut down most of the hotel's business, he suggested we have a tip jar in the room and put extra money in it besides any tip we left in the room for the chambermaids. He also bought two "thank you" cards, one for the cleaning staff and one for the hotel management staff, and we all signed them. He did the honors of presenting them with the jar. Moneywise, considering what they are going to face in the coming weeks, it was pretty much a widow's mite, but it was something.

After that, we sat around for about another hour talking.

Ken was sweet and got us a cart, and he and Aubrey helped us load up the truck a little after one o'clock. It had clouded up, so we swaddled the power chair in its tarpaulin and put the suitcases and other things in heavy plastic bags, and then off we went. We bought gasoline at the Ingles supermarket, and then had to stop just before we reached Dawsonville so I could use the bathroom, and by the time we reached the vet's office it was (1) pouring down rain and (2) we were both full to bursting.

And then...snellfrocky! The vet had signs up saying they were doing curbside pickup! And when we got there part of the glass windows were papered over and an outdoor area was taped off! I called inside frantically. "You can spray us with anything you like, we'll wipe down anything you like, but we need the bathroom." (It's tough when you have that over 60s disease, Gottapee.) So they let us in and we tried to touch as little as we could; the secretary even took my credit card number from a distance. They had Snowy all prepped in his carry box, but I still had to empty the water dishes, and I knew the seed was toast; after the ride it would go all over the cage. The young technician who took Snowy back on Thursday was in scrubs and mask, and helped me put a bag over the cage. And then finally we piled ourselves and the fids back in the truck and drove home, where we would end up doing nothing more than dragging stuff into the house and putting up what we needed to put up (James' C-PAP machine, the phones and tablets on their chargers, etc.) and leaving the rest.

Something amazing happened when I had Snowy's cage wiped out, re-seeded and re-watered, and I opened the carry box to transfer him: he not only did not bite me, but he sat in my left hand and let me scratch him behind the ears with both fingers! Wow, maybe he did miss me! [Later: this didn't last long. He was back to biting me by Tuesday.]

We had prudently stored leftover turkey and leftover au gratin potatoes in the refrigerator, and so we had a nice supper of dark meat and cheesy potatoes, and split one of the zepolle we bought on Thursday for dessert.

I love Atomicon, really I do. I am so glad we got to go this year. But it's increasingly hard to travel when we have to drag so much stuff with us, and there is nothing like coming home to our bed, our fans, and my feather pillows!

And now back to "social distancing."

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» Saturday, March 21, 2020
I'm Game (Atomicon, Part 3)

We woke (having slept a bit better with some minor noise in the room provided by the Relax and Sleep app) to another lovely day. Again, most folks went out to breakfast, but we had ours in the conference room again joined by Jerry and later by Charles.

We had done our usual things yesterday (the bookstore and walking downtown and popping in and out of the shops, even if the latter was severely curtailed), and, because of the virus, did not feel like venturing other places we had gone previously (the art store in Clarkesville or even Hiawassee), so we figured we would stay close to the hotel this afternoon, but have a nice grand walk this morning, and we did. It was going to be a bit cooler today, but still in the 70s, so, like yesterday, we headed out after breakfast.

We walked the same route as yesterday, through the back road, emerging at the main road at Wendy's, walking by small, closed restaurants, and then along the truss bridge that spans the Chattahoochee River. Down in Atlanta the "Hootch" is muddy and brown and mostly torpid unless it's storming, but here it is clear and rushing among rocks. Anglers in hip boots dotted the stream. We passed the "castle" building with The Olive Tree, the glassblowers' shop, the T-shirt shops, the L-shaped shopping center where the old (better) Christmas shop used to be until it caught fire, and then kept going, down to the little waterfall overlooked by a gazebo, "Helen Falls."

Here scattered among the grass at the foot of the hill were tiny blue flowers with four petals. I have seen these growing in the neighbors' lawns and used Google Lens to look them up. This is "speedwell." (The photo makes it look huge. The blossoms are tiny, maybe an eight of an inch in diameter.)

We walked all the way down the hill, past Hofer's restaurant and bakery, past the big windmill, past the wooden toy store and Charlemagne's Kingdom (a big model train layout), all the way to Betty's Supermarket. We crossed the street to reach Betty's, then headed back up the hill past rental homes and old houses repurposed as restaurants and shops, and then past the row of shops we explored yesterday (Hansel & Gretel, etc.). There we stopped for a few minutes so I could take photographs of the beautiful flowers in the raised beds dotting the shopping area: tulips, daffodils, ornamental cabbage.

Behind the restrooms that are set across the street from these shops, there is a path that slopes downward so that you are mere feet from the river. I wanted some photos, so I went down the rather steep slope to take a couple of shots, and James in the power chair managed to navigate it, so I set the camera to "movie" and took a nice little video of the river and our walk under the bridge, the anglers in their hip boots, and just the pretty day. The path came out at the parking lots in back of the Helen shops, so we wound our way over the gravel surfaces and came out at the very back, to the back road that would lead us back to our hotel.

There is a just a small bridge here over the river, and since there was little traffic, we crossed the road to check out all the fisherman. There was a man just at the edge of the river right under the bridge and we were talking with him; he had just tossed his line in and caught a fine trout! He was sorry they had to cancel their trout tournament next weekend. As we walked back, bicycle riders sped past, calling a good morning to us.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel, talking with whomever was there (a lot of people took walks today and came back bouncy and happy as well), messing around on the computer, watching Riley the puppy, and just having a grand time. At lunch time I still had the Zaxby's chicken wings from last night. James nipped over to Wendy's for a hamburger and brought me a milk. At suppertime we decided to go to Bigg Daddy's, which was in walking distance. As we were going back into our room to change, Aubrey was in the hallway asking if we by any chance had a blood pressure monitor. Well, yes, we did. Ken had been taking a nap and then felt a bit odd when he got up, and he did have a hospital stay for low blood pressure a couple of weeks ago, but that had been straightened out by his doctors. His BP was normal, so we went off to dinner.

Well, Bigg Daddy's wasn't seating anyone inside (understandable) but the way it is set up you have to go inside and then outside to the patio again, and there is a very small step up to get inside. Juanita almost tripped over the step, and then when Ken came in he missed it completely, tripped, and took a header right in front of me! Several men in the store helped him get up; thank goodness he did not look, at least, like he was hurt at all! (The only time I ever fell like that I landed on my face and broke my nose!) So we were able to have a nice supper, even if they followed instructions and broke us up into two groups and left empty tables in between. Bigg Daddy's food is very good. I had a bowl of chicken and dumplings and five delicious chicken wings. (Yes, wings again. I could eat wings until they came out of my ears.) James had soft tacos.
Just chatting (Juanita, Jerry, Pat, and the blur that is Riley.)

The final night is always a little bittersweet in the background, but the most fun. Some folks had a Dungeons and Dragons game going. There was a coloring group, and Clair was working a minute crocheted chain. James and a few others watched the DVD of Ford vs. Ferrari that the Butlers brought. Juanita, Alice, Aubrey, Kristine and I played Big Bang Theory Uno (there is a "soft kitty" card; if you draw it, you are required to draw cards from the deck until you get a Sheldon or a Penny card—they are both on two different cards, but you'd be surprised how many cards you had to draw sometimes)!

After that, we played Qwixx, which is a fun dice strategy game, and by then the film was over and it was time for bed.

Fisherman on the Chattahoochee during our walk.

Beautiful tulip in downtown Helen flower display.

Ron and Lin in a blur of chat.

Charles and Alex.

Jerry with Riley.

Damien, Kristine, Aubrey, and, at back, Ron.

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» Friday, March 20, 2020
What's Closed and What's Not (Atomicon, Part 2)

In the middle of the night, James grumbled "It's too quiet." And not enough air circulating, either. Needless to say, we didn't sleep very well. Sadly, this is normal when we go away. The one perfect bed and sleep situation we had was in 2013 on vacation, and we were both so sick with headcolds we couldn't enjoy it.

So about 8:30 we sleepily shuffled to the new breakfast arrangement they had. Usually it's a breakfast bar, where you can take eggs and sausage, make a waffle, get juice and milk, pick out a fruit or cereal, make oatmeal or grits and toast, get butter, jelly, sugar, coffee, and tea. Today they had the back of the bar blocked off and a hotel employee handed you a pre-wrapped biscuit or sausage biscuit, the cereal, fruit bars, and milk. You got juice yourself out of the dispenser, and there were packets of oatmeal and grits out front with jelly and butter and disposable eatingware. We took it back into the common room to eat, although most of the others had gone out to breakfast (a little family-run place down the road, Wendell's, is a favorite; I think some others went to Hofer's, which is a bakery and restaurant).

Overlooking the Chattahoochee River.
The temps were going to hike up into the 80s today, so we decided to take our walk into Helen right after breakfast. Initially it was cool, with a nice breeze, but we were soon warmed up with moving. There is a back way on a small service road parallel to the main road, and we strolled along that, watching the birds (lots of robins, the occasional azure flash of a bluebird) and the leafing trees, including a lovely willow in the back parking lot of the hotel. The wind was in our face on the walk in, but as soon as we crossed the river, it was at our backs.

Even for a Friday it was very quiet. Cars were going by only in ones and twos. I had called to make sure The Olive Tree was open, so our first stop was the pseudo-castle building with the olive oil/vinegar store, the Christmas shop, etc. to refill our bottle of peach-flavored white balsamic vinegar. We couldn't get our own samples as is usual, and I sprayed the door handle with straight rubbing alcohol, but otherwise we had a nice chat with the proprietor. James also got a smaller bottle of chipolte-infused oil to use when making burritos and other spicy dishes. We also peeked in the quilt shop (O-so-pretty, but I can't even justify a hand-made king-size quilt for only $95), but the Christmas shop wasn't open, so we went on, briefly stopping at the glassblower's shop to see if they had any autumn leaf suncatchers (ours are dreadfully faded from the western sun), but they had only Christmas and Hallowe'en.

We strolled past the rest of the shops and then turned around and walked the remainder of the stores on the other side. The T-shirt shop was closed, but Hansel and Gretel chocolates were open. James made it up the steep ramp into the store, and I bought my yearly treat of dark chocolate almond bark. Again, I was feeling bad for these folks; there was no one else in the shop but us—how are they going to survive with no tourists to visit?—so I also bought some dark-chocolate enrobed orange creams, quite missing the orange creams from Sweenor's Chocolates in Garden City. They let us go out the side door instead of going down that steep ramp, which was much appreciated!

Daisy the bookstore cat.
We took our time coming back, then decided we would go "down the road apiece" to Cleveland. James wanted some cash, then we would stop at the bookstore (the Mt. Yonah Book Exchange) and finally have lunch at Wendell's, which we understood would be take-out from the reports of those who'd gone to breakfast. So we trucked (literally) back to Cleveland and did a withdrawal at the Regions bank, then did the bookstore. The owner was sitting outside, with a black-and-white cat mooching around near the door. He came inside, which did not please Daisy, the resident bookstore cat. (Many people say their cats have green eyes, but they are usually a yellowy-green. Daisy has real green eyes, a pale leaf green, and she's gorgeous and knows it; she even posed for me.) Oddly, this year I could not find a book I liked, but James got three, including the big picture book about the first World War that he didn't buy last year. (This was published in 1916 and has been so well-loved the binding is broken.)

When we got down to Wendell's it was 12:30, but they were already closed. So we went back by Wendy's to get James a drink, me a milk, and a medium French fry. The fries were a side to my leftover pad Thai, and James had a real fusion meal: his leftover Thai, a burrito, and the other half of the fries!

Spent the rest of the afternoon talking and paging through Facebook where the virtual convention "Concellation" topped 21,000 members. Tried to read, but it's hard to do that when so many interesting conversations are going on around you. Of course we talked about coronavirus reports a lot.

A group of people were going to Bodensee (one of the two big German restaurants in the area), but they are expensive, so we chose instead to go with the gang that went to Glenda's, a small country restaurant in Cleveland. To keep the table sizes down, we went in two shifts. Again, very sobering going to Glenda's, as there's usually a line out the door, but only three or four other people were there when we arrived just before six.

I was disappointed in my meal. The chicken there is only fried; if I wanted it grilled it would have taken almost a half hour. So I got popcorn shrimp, which I'd had on a previous visit. It was awful, with no shrimp taste at all, and the corn on the cob was tasteless. When the best thing in the dish is the mashed potatoes and the roll, you have a problem. Ken also had the popcorn shrimp and liked them, but I think he got a fresh batch and I got the end of the run. Should have had the pork chop, or the chopped steak like James did.

(Aubrey went with the Bodensee group and she reported to us that they sprayed everyone's hands when they walked into the restaurant, and then sat everyone one table apart, no more than ten to a table.)

Stormclouds over Helen.
Because I was still a little hungry, James stopped at the Zaxby's across the street and got me five wings, but they ended up in the fridge in our room while we snacked on cookies and grapes and tangerines and Fritos in the common room. Before we settled down there, though, I had to run outside and get some photographs of the clouds, which were building up and spoiling for some rain (it rained very little). The wind had picked up, too, and it was really quite pretty, although everyone kept telling me I should go inside!

We played Timeline for a while, and then I really wanted to play Uno or another card game, but got persuaded to play a strategy game instead, Forbidden Island, with Oreta, James, Pat, Alex, and Melinda. You are archaeologists trying to find four artifacts on an island that is starting to sink. Cooperating with each other, you have to get the artifacts off by helicopter before you are swamped with water and drown. Well, we made it down to the last step and then were drowned. It bothered Oreta because we had done everything right and still hadn't won. It wasn't until we were packing the game away that I noticed the side of the box: the game is for one to four players and we'd had two players too many, so I guess we did really well (and I did okay only because everyone strategized wayyyyyyyy better than I did).

Tonight we did a little better sleeping. I downloaded the app "Relax and Sleep" again (I'd deleted it from my phone because I never used it) and I set it to make the noise of an air conditioner running and also some crickets chirping in the rain. This was low enough for both James and I to hear it, but not so loud to keep us awake. And it actually did help, especially after I set out the little fan that stays in the suitcase.

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» Thursday, March 19, 2020
The Weekend That Almost Wasn't (Atomicon, Part 1)

The news was bad enough about sickness and death in other places, but then came local school closings, runs on supermarkets (the difference between Thursday and Friday was astounding), and doctor's appointment cancellations (we had three in one day). But our weekend in Helen was approaching, what should we do?

There was discussion online. The hotel had cancellations right and left and asked us not to cancel if possible; they said they would be taking extra sanitary protections, would not serve breakfast via buffet, and the pool and hot tub would be closed. There was no coronavirus in White County, where Helen is located.

Some folks dropped out. A few weren't feeling well already. One had to take care of her parents after a car accident. One just wanted some alone time after returning from a visit to her son's college. Some were still working. Another could not fly. Once the dust settled, we were under the 50 person limit for groups requested by the governor. So we all kept an eye on our health—James and I have been taking our temperature every day for about two weeks now—and one by one this smaller group came together, with bulletins flying fast the last couple of days of which restaurants were still open and if groceries could be had there.

Tucker arrives at "camp."
Our Thursday morning was the usual combination of remembering everything, including James' blood pressure cuff, the thermometer, etc. I discovered nearly at the last moment I had not packed Snowy's food! More flurry there. So instead of leaving the house at noon, we left...a bit late. Tucker allowed himself to be carried to the back and, after giving me a rather smart bite, Snowy went off with the extremely young-looking vet tech a few minutes later.

Before we headed up to Helen, we stopped at the East 48th Street Market across the street from the vet's office, which sells Italian food, sandwiches, and baked goods. It was St. Joseph's Day and they had zepolli, the traditional pastry for that holiday: a puff pastry filled with cream, with a little sqiggle of cream on top and a maraschino cherry as an accent. I got two, one with custard and one with cream, although I couldn't tell the difference once they were in the box! I felt bad that they were losing business because of coronavirus, so I also got a cannoli and two chocolate walnut biscotti, and a package of our favorite fusilli pasta. Everyone was very nice as we did the social distancing thing.

Then we headed up to Helen, the traffic very light on GA400 and therefore from Dahlonega through the country road that heads to Helen. It was all so normal compared to the "new normal" that I wanted to cry: horses calmly grazing in newly-green pasture where they give trail rides, the cattle (beef and dairy) scattered across great swaths of green grass, the trees blooming in whites and purples and pinks and the azaleas in pink and red, the little farm stands both still open and crumbling away. We used the new bypass and arrived at the Country Inn and Suites only an hour later than we wanted, at four p.m. The Spiveys had arrived just before us, and the Butlers pulled in soon afterwards, and we started setting up the common room with snacks.

Dinner du jour tonight was at Spice55, the wonderful Thai place we ate at last year. They would only take ten to a table, and we were just under the limit with us, the Spiveys, Aubrey, Juanita, and the Butlers, with the Boulers showing up later. It looks like we got there just in time, because they are going to take-out only starting tomorrow. Dinner (pad thai) was fabulous, and I had enough to make a lunch tomorrow. James had only a tiny portion leftover, so when we stopped at Dollar General—the person who was to bring disposable eating products was nursing her mother after a car accident—I not only picked up some plastic plates, but a couple of low-sodium burritos as well for a supplement.

After dinner is always gameplay, but we spent time talking instead. We don't see a lot of these folks often. John and Oreta live on the other side of town, as do Kristine and her husband, and Naaman Taylor as well, along with Nancy and Jake. Nancy's son Tony is a trucker and usually on the road, and we don't visit with his wife. There were two little ones with us this year, in fact, Max, a little over two, and August "Gus," an adorable little blond girl about two. They had a playmate in Juanita's new little Shetland Sheepdog puppy, Riley, who is being trained as a certified therapy dog, and Juanita hopes one day to train him to alert to her occasional spells of ill-health. Riley, is, frankly, adorbs! All these people except for Aubrey and Alice and a few more are new to him and he regarded the whole common room of people reading, talking, gaming with wide-eyed enthusiastic wonder, trotting about playing fetch, puppy romping, and desperately seeking and sometimes finding the odd crumb.

Alas, the nights when we stayed up until one and two in the mornings playing Uno are gone. Most everyone drifted out about eleven, as did we, to try and get some sleep in a strange yet familiar place.

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» Saturday, March 14, 2020
A Day Out

James decided he would go to his club lunch and meeting today. He promised to take precautions. So I let him go off, power chair in tow, and I decided I'd better go out before something else happened and everything got shut down like in Italy. I decided to go to Barnes & Noble. I was very careful, splashed alcohol on my hands before I went in, opened the door with a wet wipe, didn't get in close contact to anyone. The crowd was smaller than usual, but everyone there didn't act any differently. Checked out a book about female flyers during WWII, and opened the book in the middle to find the narrator referring to Jackie Cochran as "Ms. Cochran." Okay, I hadn't checked out the rest of the book. Perhaps this was an older woman narrating the story from the future. Nope POV through the entire book takes place in 1941. Characters refer to Jackie Cochran throughout as "Ms." Sorry, won't be reading that book. If you set it in 1941, I expect it to be historically accurate. What's next? The characters refer to burning their bras? Anyway, I had a 20 percent off coupon which I spent on a Tristan Gooley nature book, and then I picked out a book for me and a book for James: me the new book about the Carolina watermen and him about the Doolittle raid. I opened the door out with my shoulder and used wipes when I got in the car.

I had an extra protein at Tin Drum, so I went over there for a take-out lunch, discussing with the cashier the utter absurdity of having to emphasize to adults the necessity of washing your hands! Used a wipe after this as well, and stopped at Nam Dae Mun on the way home. They actually had some disinfecting sprays left! (I got one.) And food left, although it was rather scant. I got huge turkey legs (which I had to leave in the fridge because there was no room in the freezer), a nice round steak, and some pork chops, oh, and some low-sodium teriyaki sauce.

This didn't take up much time, so I went rooting around on Disney+ (did I mention we got Disney+ for free? Verizon ponied up because we have an unlimited data account now) and found the first five episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club, not the half-hour syndicated version they showed in the 1960s and 1970s when I was at college, but the originals, mostly uncut (two episodes had the "Mousekartoon" missing). The originals were an hour long and featured a thrice-weekly newsreel and the serials ran every day. The first episode was fascinating, with the newreel (visiting the Seminole tribe in the Everglades, kids in Rome riding a carousel, filming of the new Davy Crockett story, etc.) and the famous "What I Want to Be" serial narrated by Alvy Moore (yes, later the dimwit Hank Kimball on Green Acres). This was supposed to be a regular feature, but was cancelled by Walt Disney after the first installment, which had a little boy who wanted to be an airline pilot and a little girl who wanted to be an airline hostess. Alvy Moore (playing himself) takes the two kids to TWA and lets them go through the training. It's a neat trip to the past, and for a girl stuck into a gender-specific role, Pat was a much better character than Duncan. She's spunky and sticks to her guns, where Duncan gives up easily and has to be persuaded.

I was totally surprised to discover that the girl protagonist in this serial was played by Patricia Morrow, who later went on to play Rita in Peyton Place! I had no idea she was a child actress. The second episode featured "Sooty," a yellow and black bear hand puppet brought over from Great Britain, who had a little skit with his "handler" Harry Corbett. Sooty was a big hit in his native land (he was still on TV a few years ago), but he wasn't much of a hit with American children and was soon off the series.

(I got a kick out of the fact that they showed the old ABC logo, too, which had an eagle holding a lightning bolt over a round shield that had the ABC initials, and the names of the sponsors of each segment of the show.)

James came home having had a good lunch, and we watched the final two episodes of Crusade. Pity there were no more. Matthew Gideon, Galen, Dureena, and Max Eilerson were all very compelling characters, especially the enigmatic Max, and I enjoyed Gideon's relationship with Babylon 5 commander Elizabeth Lochley. Dr. Chambers and John Matheson were duller characters and needed some rounding out.

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» Friday, March 13, 2020
The Coronavirus Craze (Crazies?)

We had to pick up meds for James this morning, and there was so much flurry on the news about the coronavirus, including the school shutdowns next week, Italy being on lockdown, people stuck on cruise ships, Disney and Broadway theatres closing, etc. that I didn't know if there would be a mob there milling about thinking they were sick, or if it would be very empty, so we went early to Kaiser. It was the latter; only about fifteen-twenty cars there and very quiet. It was only about ten minutes.

Now, yesterday we had done our usual shopping at Publix. getting BOGOs and other things on our list like Dawn dishwashing liquid. There were already signs that the crazies had been through, as there was not a disinfecting wipe to be found or paper towels—the most bizarre result of all this is that toilet paper is gone, which is very strange, as the virus does not cause diarrhea. One of the BOGOs was Ocean Spray juice—all juice is expensive today, but James needs the cranberry or cranberry mixes to help with keeping his kidneys and bladder clear. We'd only gotten 4 bottles, and when it runs out, we have to use the inexpensive watered-down stuff from Lidl.

So, thoroughly expecting crowds, we went back for 4 more bottles and also the tater tots we'd forgotten. Wow. Boy, were there crowds; it looked like Walmart on Christmas Eve, except more registers were open. I wanted to pick up more alcohol, but couldn't find it (or even the empty space where it should have been). We got one of the last of three rolls of paper towels, there was no toilet paper at all, almost no Kleenex, no wipes of course, no Gatorade, just big gaps in one section, none in others. Still plenty of vegetables, but bottled water gone. Lots of Banquet/Hungry Man/Lean Cuisine, almost no pizzas.

Well, I remembered seeing some alcohol at Lidl. And we could get bread. And, as much as I love the store, there's never a big crowd at Lidl, even on Fridays (and this worries me that the existing stores will close). Oh, but they found Lidl today. There were more cars in the parking lot than I've ever seen except when they opened and were offering free groceries. Almost all bottled water was gone (I noticed this at Publix, too—do these people's homes not have water faucets?), but we managed to snag one last extra purified water for the C-PAP machine. No alcohol, no liquid cleaning products at all, no peroxide, no milk, dammit, no eggs, no oranges, vegetables and fruit stripped, no packaged bread whatsover (and, bizarrely, a woman bemoaning on her cell phone that there was "no bread" when the bakery was stocked full of bread!

The one sane part of the day was having our usual Friday lunch, today at The BBQ Place with Alice, Ken, and Aubrey Spivey, and that was a nice downtime of blazing normalcy.

Tomorrow James is still planning to go to his meeting and to lunch, and I hope that goes well. It's just very unsettling.

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» Saturday, March 07, 2020
Not Quite the End of the Rain, The End of the Cold, and...Ugh!...Effin' Daylight Saving Time

Our three-day weekend ran the gamut from really awful to really awfully nice out.

The rain was still hanging on with skeletal damp and chilly fingers on Thursday morning, so we took the car to go shopping at Publix, and it got us damp, cold, and disgusted enough to just bring the groceries inside and stay put. Used the opportunity to collect another box of books to take to McKay's (if we ever find a nice day that we don't have anything else planned!). I'd had to rearrange some book piles yesterday anyway, to pull up reading for Women's History Month, so I had at least one to add myself. Swept out the foyer, did a few other tidying things, finished reading Mary Poppins, She Wrote (which did not make me fond of P.L. Travers at all; she struck me as self-absorbed and willing to follow any sort of philosophical mumbo-jumbo from men who were charlatans or Bronson Alcott wannabes). We had a new Young Sheldon episode this evening, then watched the next Babylon 5 film in the queue, Thirdspace. Not my favorite of the films, to say the least.

The rain cleared out late in the afternoon, and by the time Friday dawned it was bright, sunny, and windy enough for Mary Poppins herself to go aloft. I took Tucker for a long walk today, as we've been cooped up by the rain for three days. The birds seemed very happy to be shut of the rain, and a mockingbird was singing his head off overhead on a telephone wire. Then James and I went off to stroll Hobby Lobby for a half hour (bought some nice bright orange duct tape to put on the bottom of the chair lift in the desperate hope that it will help) before James and I joined Alice, Ken, Aubrey, Mel and Phyllis for lunch at Top Spice. Had some very nice pad thai with enough left over for a lunch, and equally good conversation.

We'd been waffling about what to do after lunch because President Trump was flying into town this afternoon (at rush hour, of course, every single President has flown into Atlanta at the worst possible traffic time for years) to meet with CDC officials about the coronavirus outbreak. He comes in at Dobbins Air Reserve Base which is just a few miles from our house, and then they shut down the freeway when he arrives and again when he leaves, which dumps more traffic on our local streets. So early this morning he was coming, and then he wasn't because a CDC employee was suspected of having coronavirus, and then by the time we had lunch the trip was back on because the test for coronavirus was negative. So we gave up and just went to Barnes & Noble across the street (nothing bought, just to look around) then came home.

This evening's B5 feature was River of Souls, followed by Hawaii Five-0. There are only two episodes left after this, with the series finale on the third of April. Alex O'Loughlin needs to quit because the back injury he sustained a few seasons back is now so bad that he can't even pick up his little kids, plus his and Scott Caan's contracts are up, so they are ending it. I'm sure Scott Caan will be glad not to have to fly back and forth to Hawaii every other week and be with his family instead. I will miss it, but it's no tragedy. One less program to have to remember.

Today was a brilliantly beautiful day, still with a bit of wind, but bright and blue. Tucker and I had another long walk, but had to dodge so many glass shards on the sidewalks the moment we step out of our street. There are broken beer bottles everywhere on the main street on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Instead of watching the spring creep in I have to watch the sidewalk so Tucker doesn't step on glass! I wish people would get drunk and wreck things in their own homes and quit spoiling the landscape for the rest of us.

So we braved the Saturday crowds and went to Walmart for this and that. Got more sugarless candy, more melatonin for James, other foodie items, etc. While wandering around just looking at the DVDs, discovered Peter Jackson's World War I film, They Shall Not Grow Old, in the rack for just five dollars! I love old newsreel footage, and that is what this film is comprised of, old film footage from British military sources that has been colorized with a narrative. It has gotten all sorts of fantastic reviews and I wanted to see it, but never managed. And the DVD is a lot less expensive than seeing at the movies would have been.

This particular Walmart was celebrating the opening of their new garden center, so we got a burger, chips, and a drink (water) for only $2 each (a lot bigger burger than one from Wendy's that would have set us back $4 each alone!). Then, since we were halfway there anyway, drove a few more miles out to Hiram, checked out the big Michael's there, bought Snowy more birdseed in Petsmart (they had several little groups of budgies, including a sweet yellow and green one who was almost a dead ringer for Bandit), and Five Below to get some dark chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups for desserts.

The last stop was at the Sam's Club at the far end of the shopping center which was selling gasoline for $1.969 a gallon!

I spent the rest of the day turning all the clocks (thirteen) and timers (six) ahead one hour, James made the humongous turkey wing we bought at Nam Dae Mun in the air fryer with a side of tater tots (also done in the air fryer and then kept warm in the oven) for dinner, and the movie du jour was the prequel movie to the Babylon 5 sequel Crusade, A Call to Arms. Alas, it's the last we see of Michael Garibaldi. Rest in peace, Jerry Doyle.

Tomorrow's our final day of cold nights (and, by extension, a good night's sleep) and by the end of the week it's supposed to be in the 70s. I don't suppose some year we could actually have a proper spring and have temps in the high 50s and 60s for three and four weeks at the time before it gets to the seventies and broiling point? Could we please? Please?

And now, because our clocks are already set back, we're going to goosestep to the command of stupid Federal law and Damn Daylight Effin' Saving Time and go to bed. Die, DST, DIE!

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