News from the Hill

...with the usual Smith Manor-isms

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July 01, 2019

Happy July Fools Day!

Today I was able to put the final touches on the website for 1807 & Friends. It was quite a battle, having to search two different computers for the proper files, get them all transferred to the Linux computer, and then stuffed into the new template which, by the way, still had to be made on the Windows computer. I finally found them all and got them arranged. You can see the results and next season's concert schedule at if you're so inclined.

That was, of course, after I visited the Walk-in Clinic to make sure there wasn't anything seriously wrong with me. I have been having spells of abject tiredness. On three different mornings last week, about an hour after arising from a restful sleep, I would start to feel drowsy and dizzy. The first time, I felt as though I had taken drugs. I absolutely could not make any sense of the computer, so I moved to the recliner and slept another four hours before I decided to wake up and get active again. The next day it happened again, but I didn't have the drugged feeling from the day before. Yesterday, after consuming only 5 ounces of apple ale, I felt as though I had drunk about five bottles of it, and fought the urge to go to sleep, since I was a guest for a Salmon dinner. The PA who attended me, made a thorough investigation of the possibility of stroke or heart failure, but found nothing, either by physical or verbal observation or in blood analysis. We're still waiting for the urine analysis and a thyroid test to return their verdicts. Everything else reported as within normal range.

Becky met her new dentist, Dr. Teresa Dao. She is very young, slender, Asian and very pretty. She and Becky were born just four days (and a few decades) apart, and they have already bonded.

July 02, 2019

Every week, we go to Tai Chi class, and the instructor always asks, "Who remembers anything from last week? Every week I stand there like a deer in the headlights wondering what she's talking about. This week, though, I actually remembered having been there last week, but I didn't realize until later that Becky had stayed home last week! Yup, like my friend, Jim, says, "If you think pushing 70 is bad, try pulling it!"

Since I received a $50 gift card for TGI Friday's yesterday as a bonus for having a credit card from my bank, Becky and I did TGI after Tai Chi. It didn't cost us anything from our account, and we have enough to do the same next Tuesday, too.

July 03, 2019

In the middle of the day, the Internet started exhibiting extreme lethargy. I ran a speed check on it and found that my download speed, which should have been better than 100 Mbps, was measured at 36.8 Mbps. I called Spectrum to see what was happening, and they asked if I was measuring the speed via WiFi, or through a wired connection. It was wired. They tried to lead me through a diagnostic, asking me to hold the Windows key and the letter R for a while until a window popped up.

"You're supposing I'm using a Windows computer," I said.

"Mac?" she asked,

"Linux," I said.

She couldn't help me with the Linux, so I changed to my Windows computer, but it was connected by WiFi, so she had me bypass the router and connect the modem directly to the computer. I did, and the speed then measured at 0.5 Mbps. She scheduled a service call, to arrive tomorrow between 11 and Noon.

July 04, 2019

Happy Independence Day!

At 10 AM I received two telephone calls (Cell and Landline) at the same time, reminding me of the appointed service call set for 11-Noon. At 11:30, I called Spectrum to say the technician had not yet arrived. Ten minutes later, I received another call saying that the technician had been delayed on another call, and he would be here by 1:15 PM. He actually arrived at 1:07 PM. His name was Harley. I showed remarkable self-restraint by not asking if his last name was Davidson.

Harley took one look at our setup and said that the problem was an "unauthorized" modem that was quite old. Well, he was half right. The modem was more than 10 years old, but it belongs to Charter/Spectrum. "Oh," he said, and ran a speed test direct from the cable, and he learned that the line had a "trap" on it, so he said he would have to climb the pole. I asked if he needed to empty the trap. That's when he explained that the trap was to prevent me from receiving cable television to which I am not subscribed. Of course, since they went to digital programing, it was unnecessary.

After removing the trap and installing a new modem, the speed was measured at 119 Mbps! Now I'm back on line, faster than ever.

July 05, 2019

Another Friday, another prediction of rain that didn't come to pass. Tomorrow, of course, they're predicting 60% chance of rain, but it isn't supposed to start until the afternoon. Perhaps I can get the lawn cut in the morning. Then I can go out to the store in the rain and replenish supplies that, somehow, keep getting depleated throughout the week.

Last Monday, when I went to the clinic, I was seen by a PA. She asked me to take my blood pressure first thing in the morning. So I've been doing so each morning: I sit up, I grab the cuff and give it a squeeze. Of course, just because I have a BP Cuff doesn't mean I know how to use it correctly, but I do my best. It's been fairly consistently around 120/74. The PA was supposed to call me in a few days after the consultation, but so far she has not called. Perhaps I will send an email to the clinic, addressed to her, so she will know the numbers I'm getting.

July 06, 2019

I arose at my usual 7:30 time, though I had intended to sleep longer than that, but the lower-right quadrant of my back was in crisis. I'm guessing it's from the reshaping of the spine that I've been doing for the last seven months, stretching of the ligaments to straighten the scoliosis. At least, that's what I hope is causing it. At any rate, I had every intention of mowing the lawn, but the weather looked iffy, though it wasn't supposed to rain until after noon, so I didn't bother with it. Maybe Monday, for sure.

I did go to the store to buy some cold cuts for sandwiches, then when I returned home, I prepared one of the eight Chebe bread mixes that I had bought recently, to make some hamburger buns. They turned out delicious! We had turkey sandwiches on two of those four buns for dinner. I might toast one of them for breakfast, since I'm supposed to take my morning supplements with food for maximum absorbtion.

July 07, 2019

This morning, the Choir didn't have an anthem to sing. Instead we had a trio of Piano, Violin and Flute. But I was asked to be ready to sing a solo in August. Now, if only I could remember what it was to be...I guess I'll have to email our Director-Pro-Tem and have her jog my memory.

After church was over, we came home, I fixed some turkey sandwiches on the Chebe rolls I had made yesterday. Today I added some Gouda cheese to them, and they were as delicious as yesterday's had been. Now I'll have to get on line and see what else I can make of the Chebe mixes. I'm sure there are many things, like Pizza crust, Sticky-Bun dough, etc.

July 08, 2019

We were invited to lunch with Jim and Carol at TGI Friday. We had a good conversation, as usual, concerning any subject that popped into anyone's head, and lasted about an hour and a half before fanny fatigue set in and we called TIME!

When we got back, it was 3 PM, and since the sun was at a low enough angle as to not be as detrimental to my skin as it might be earlier, I decided it was as good a time to mow the lawn as any. It took me 90 minutes to complete the front yard and the majority of the back. One of these days, I'm going to have to clear the fallen limbs from the way-back area and start mowing that again. Then again, one of these days the city will cart off the yard waste from the curb! it's been there for two weeks, and they're supposed to take it away every other week. If they don't pick it up tomorrow, I might have to call and complain. Even when they pick it up, they seldom get the entire pile, leaving twigs  where the pile had been. It's vexing, to say the least.

July 09, 2019

We had two new people in Tai Chi this morning: Dave, who by halfway through the exercise decided it was not for him; and Cathy who stayed the whole hour and seemed very interested. Of course, tomorrow, the two of them are going off for a vacation. They were initially attracted to Tai Chi because where they used to live, in Tennessee, they would see groups of people in the parks doing their morning Tai Chi exercise. I guess Dave was more interested in watching than participating. I hope Cathy joins the group.

Afterward, we were treated to lunch at Rise 'N' Shine, one of our usual haunts. Since our club cards were punched all the way to the end, the meal was free, save for the coffee. Their special today was Loaded Hash Browns with two any-style-eggs. Becky's were "Confused" (scrambled), and mine were "Stolen" (Poached).

I spent the remainder of the day transcribing two anthems with Mozart, our Sheet Music Processor. I got the both done, saved to disc and printed. Then after a supper of hot dogs and chips and a red wine called Chocolate Shop, in which I actually tasted some chocolate, I took a bit of a nap while "watching" an episode of Draining the Oceans. When I awoke, a couple was hunting for an apartment in Holland. Naps make for strange conclusions to TV pprograms, for sure.

July 10, 2019

Becky and I paid a visit to our Chiropractor, who limbered up our necks, realigned Becky's lower spine and addressed the soreness in my own. For the third visit in a row, my back made no noise as he pressed and wiggled it about. I rather like that it kept quiet. I suspect the nightly "back-cersizes" I've been doing have helped to strengthen the core sufficiently to keep it in line.

We then paid a visit to Suzanne's, where we enjoyed some of her Kitchen Wichery. We had several vegetable dishes and one egg-cheese-sausage dish. YUMMY!

When we got home, I had an email from me, to me, informing me that I needed to upgrade my Joomla! websites from 3.9.8 to 3.9.9. I logged into each site and ... there were no upgrades to be made. Each site said I had the latest Joomla! installed. I clicked on Search for Upgrades, and found that there was, indeed, one to be installed - Joomla 3.9.10!!! Now they've all been upgraded.

It's a funny ol' world, ain'it?

July 11, 2019

On Tuesday, I had sent a message to my Physician concerning the itching that has been going on for two weeks. I described it as hives the size of my thumb print. Yesterday, I received a response, advising me that, if I had a regular dermatologist, that I should seek advice and treatment there. This morning I called Dr. Lyke's office for an appointment as soon as possible. This afternoon I saw her, and she confirmed my suspicions, calling them Idiomatic Hives. Dr. Reilly defines Idiomatic as, "No Idiot knows the cause." Dr. Lyke said the only course is to treat the symptoms, so I'm on a prescription dosage of an OTC antihistamine, coupled with a lotion with camphor and menthol to keep the nerves from relaying the itch. So far, I still itch, and I bought the meds on the way home from the dermatologist. I took the first dose of antihistamine as soon as I got home, and had Becky dab some lotion on my back and shoulders, being able to reach only those hives on my scalp, lower abdomen and between my buttocks.

Just as I was getting ready to leave the house to visit the dermatologist, the wind and rain outside reached a pique. I could barely see the other side of our street. I had gone out onto the porch to check on our potted Basil (which, by the way, got plenty of rain today) on the porch, and as I grabbed the door handle to come back inside, a tremendously close and loud crack of thunder startled me (I never saw the flash, or if I had, it was so concurrent with the noise that it didn't register with me). I pulled my hand off the door handle quite forceably, causing lots of pain in my arthritic distal joint of my right pinkie. I took a video of the rain, the wind having already abated just a little, and posted it to facebook. The trees across the street were dancing in the wind, and the trash can that had been set out last Tuesday (trash collection is on Monday) moved one house downhill, its lit open and facing the torrent of water gushing down the hill. It was quite a storm, lasting more than an hour.

July 12, 2019

It has been a restful day for me. Since I'm on such a massive dose of antihistamine, I've been drowsey all day, but still itching like mad. Even the Sarna lotion doesn't calm the itch. Perhaps I'm not slathering enough onto the hives often enough.

It rained again today, but nothing as strong as what we received yesterday. We're told to expect rain every day for the next week. Oh, Joy!

July 13, 2019

Friday the 13th came on a Saturday this month!

As such, there was no mail delivered today, which was not, altogether, evil. It does, of course, just delay the inevitable. <Grin>

I have overcome the side effects of the antihistamine, the drowsies. That's a good thing, for now I can be assured that I will not be hung over at church tomorrow. Unfortunately, I will be itching and unwilling to scratch in full view of the congregation. Fortunately the worst itch is at my neck and shoulders, so if I surrepticiously reach up and stick a finger beneath my collar it shouldn't be much of a disturbance. I might also, from time to time, wiggle my back against my chair to try to quell the occasional itch there, too.

July 14, 2019

The choir showed itself porud, this morning. We sang a contemporary version of Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The men had the melody line all the way through, while the women sang a very fun counterpoint. It came across wonderfully well.

I had some troubleshooting to do on Suzanne's car, so I drove her car and took her and Becky to Big Lots for their 20% Off sale for Rewards Members. The car's fine, but the front brakes (disc brakes) are causing the brake pedal to pulsate. The rotors are warped, and will need to be replaced, at a convenient time in the future. They were replaced not long ago, she says, so it's possible they're still under warrantee.

After our shopping trip, we gorged out on fried Avocado and played four hands of Mah Jongg. I only won two of the four hands, Becky won one and Suzanne won the other. Fair enough, I guess. I even played a hand I had never played before, which was my first win. It wasn't as difficult as I had anticipated, of course.

July 15, 2019

Beware the Ides of July!

As is my habit of a Monday, I arose at 6 AM to take the trash to the curb. I noticed that there was a kiddie pool in out yard, back by the gate into the back yard. It was standing on edge, apparently blown over the wall by last night's wind. That was the only thing I saw to be amiss at that hour. I, of course, went back to bed and slept a bit later than usual, arising again at 9:30. While I was in the bathroom, we received a phone call from friends, who invited us to share an early dinner with them at TGI Friday's at 4 PM. Naturally, we accepted.

I decided to take my morning vitamine supplements at 10:30, along with a bowl of cereal, thinking that would do me until four, but at 12:30, Becky decided she needed some nourishment, too, so prepared a bowl of goodness without mercy, so I had an unanticipated lunch. At 3:20, we left home to go to the restaurant, and I noticed a wire from the utility pole to our house as it sagged to within six feet of the ground. It is our Internet wire from Spectrum. Upon our return from dinner, I snapped a photo of the sagging wire and emailed it to Spectrum, asking them to come out and make repairs before I became entangled in it by accident. Well, I'm not quite 6 feet tall, but if I were carrying a pruning hook, or a ladder, it could happen if I was less than totally careful. So far, there has been no response to the email. I may have to call them tomorrow.

July 16, 2019

Tai Chi class was down to only five students today. Cathy, the new woman from last week, had said she was starting her vacation this week, so she wasn't there. I don't know where most of the other women were, and Bob hasn't been there for a while. He's suffering dementia, and sometimes doesn't know where he is, so it's no wonder he doesn't come. I understand there are medications that could reduce the effects of his type of ailment, but apparently he isn't taking them.

Afterward, Becky and I went to our dental appointments for cleanings. My dentist is new. I should explain that we go to the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) for dental care, so our dentists are fresh out of Dental School and serve a one-year Residence with MAHEC under the watchful eyes of a seasoned Dentist. The downside, if there is one, is that every year we see a different Dentist. The last one who treated me only saw me once, then graduated from Residence and is starting either in an established practice or starting her own. Today I was examined by Dr. Bates, and I, somehow, tastefully did not ask if her family still owned the Motel.

This evening I drove out to attend a Men of the Church meeting, but unfortunately that meeting happened last week. This is the second month in a row I have missed the meeting, and I hope it doesn't disqualify me from a) being a member of the group, or 2) being a man. But while I was at the other man's house, I got to meet his dog, Moses. A speckled black, change-eyed dog who barked at my arrival, Moses had quite a gentle manner - loud barking, but gentle. When he calmed down from my disruption, he approached me, put his head in my hand and let me pet him for a while. Once he had stopped barking, he reminded me of Amy's Bear-Bear, with a few differences. He wasn't nearly as large as the Bear, but his eyes were odder than Bear's, too. While Bear has one blue and one brown eye, Moses has one-and-a-half blue eye and just a half a brown one. Quite odd, I thought. I had never seen another dog with one blue-over-brown eye. I enjoyed meeting him.

July 17, 2019

Ropeyarn Wednesday, once again; a day for laungering and repair of clothing. As no repairs were necessary, I started the day with a washer-load of towels and wash cloths, then after an hour, a full load of dark clothing. As I was waiting for the towels to dry and the clothes to wash, the appointed time for an interruption happened.

We had an interesting visit from an insurance agent, today, under the guise of offering us "Mortgage Insurance". It turns out that I'm not eligible for such insurance due to my heart conditions. Instead, they wanted to sell me whole life insurance at an outrageous cost for $20,000. That amount would pay off 1/3 of the mortgage, or pay 40 months of the payments. Naturally, I was given enough information to cause me to "understand" that every insurance agent in the past, every financial advice I've ever received, was wrong. Well, I've had that tactic applied to me in the past, and it was proven to be fraudulent then, too.

When at last the aforementioned agent departed (sans contract), I retrieved the towels from the dryer and in exchange, put the dark clothing into it. After folding the towels, I put the white clothes in the washer, and we went out to lunch. By the time we returned, the dark clothes were dried, so as the whites were drying, we hung the  dark clothes, folded the socks, and basically just left them for the hour it would take the whites to dry. Eventually the laundry got done and put away.

July 18, 2019

Today was nowhere as exciting as the last two days. While I was watching the morning news, or reading (who can remember which), I received an email informing me that TGI Friday's had a special on ribs, so we had to get lunch there. The ribs were delicious.

When we came home, we finally got the information we needed concerning the Communion Hyms. They come from the Songs of Grace book, and are usually printed without accompaniment. One hymn had only chords and a melody, the next had fourpart harmony, as did the third, and the third had a melody only for the refrain, but two-part harmony for the stanzas. The fourth had four-part harmony. I transcribed them into Mozart, as-is, and Becky will write the harmonies as needed.