News from the Hill — with all the usual Smith Manor-isms

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September 01, 2019

Happy September Fools Day!

Having arisen this morning feeling normal, I got ready for church, had a bowl of cereal to eat while I swallowed one pill at a time (about a dozen in all, all supplements suggested by my Primary Care), then when Becky was done making her Pimento Cheese (we had a pot-luck Brunch at the church), we left for church. The Brunch was to say thanks to Mary Ann for leading the choirs through the interim between Directors of Music, and also to welcome Jim, our new Director of Music.

Today was Jim's first day at the helm of the choir, and he did a good job of warming us up, rehearsing us and directing the anthem (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - Bach). His directing style is precise, very easy to follow, and his excitment and enthusiasm is quite contageous. We have, once again, struck gold!

For the third afternoon in a row, I'm expressing liquid and air into the toilet. Not the most pleasant way to dpend the evening. Fortunately, I've only had three episodes today, improved from 15 yesterday and 12 the day before. Yecch!

September 02, 2019

This morning, I slept as late as I could tolerate, and got up about 8:00. About 9:30 I started thinking I should, really, mow the lawn, but I really didn't want to do it, because the last few times I did, I was attacked by yellow jackets. But since the exterminator was here twice to kill two subterranean nests, and since I hadn't seen any activity at those nest sites, I felt I really had to do it. So Becky and I went to lunch at about noon. After 3 PM, I started mowing. In order to get the mower out of the garage, I had to back Barnum down near the end of the driveway, then back Hildor out of the garage. Then I had enough room to roll the mower out. I added a pint (or so) of fuel to the tank to fill it, then I checked the oil, then I tried to find a way over to the large part of the front lawn, but I had parked the cars in just the right spot to make that access very difficult. While I devised an entry strategy, I mowed the small part of the front lawn, then executed my well conceived plan of attach and broke into the large part of the lawn, the part where the nests had been - well they're still there, but they're dead nests, now, and mowed. I had no trouble, and there was absolutely no YJ activity around either nest hole. Had I known, though, that the temperature was 90 degrees when I started, I think I would have waited for a cooler day.

September 03, 2019

Brunch with Jim and Carol started our day, then a visit to the church, since we were in the neighborhood, where we learned that someone is planning to start a Tai Chi group at the church. While it would be further to drive than Anytime Fitness, and I wouldn't have my usual warm-up on the treadmill before the class, the traditional warm-up for Tai Chi should prove to be sufficient. I may find it a good addition to my physical exercise rather than a replacement for the class at Anytime Fitness. Whether Becky would be willing to add a second Tai Chi day to her schedule is still to be determined.

After all that 'excitement', we participated in our Tai Chi, as usual. Our instructor kept embarassing me by telling me that I could do the form in the regular manner, while the others in the class would just concentrate on the feet. "He's been doing this for so long that he likely cannot do it without his hands, anyway," she said. Hah! Shows what she knows. I can do it with or without my hands. The thing is, though, I need to work on my hands more than on my feet, and today I noticed that I also need to work on my body alignment during the form. I found that my hips were not always below my shoulders, as they should be in Tai Chi Sun.

I managed to remain awake and alert all day, today! That's one in a row.

September 04, 2019

I have been re-reading the Harry Potter books, and have found many things that I had forgotten from the books. Today I finished reading the Goblet of Fire, or as I like to call it (because I usually don't recall the correct title), the Goblin Affair, book #4 in the series. I knew it was longer than the first three books, which I read in just a few days each, but this one took me a week. Naturally, I have other things to do that cause me not to read as often or as long as I would like. With that said, however, I did sit and read for longer today than I usually have the attention span to do.

Having just written the last sentence above, I'm reminded of the English teacher who told me, once, that the word "however" must always follow a semi-colon and be followed by a comma. I'm pretty sure, though, that the sentence cited is correct as punctuated. However you look at it, one of the two of us is wrong.

Choir practice, tonight, was wonderful and quite enjoyable. Jim, our new Director of Music, presented several anthems for us to sight-read through, and had us singing them a capella. The one he selected for Sunday has three stanzas, the third of which is to be sung a capella, and I think it will be much appreciated.

September 05, 2019

We arose at 6 AM, today. Becky had to go to the Dentist at 8:15 for a consult on her dental plans. Her one-hour appointment took only 30 minutes, during which she was told they would have to involve an orthodontist to realign her right-side molars, which had wandered badly in the year (or so) since their neighbor was extracted. She was told they had an option of braces or a bridge. I wear a partial bridge where my left first molar was extracted (it had a broken root), and that would be my advice to her, for after the first month, I have had no trouble with it. I have to reach for it with my tongue to see whether or not I remembered to insert it in the mornings. At any rate, the dental office called her this afternoon to ask her if she could come in again tomorrow morning at eight to meet with the orthodontist. We accepted the challenge of a second early rising (Two in a row? What were we thinking!?!), so early to bed tonight (unlike last night).

I stayed at home, turned on the television after falling asleep at the computer, and immediately went to sleep. Becky awoke me with a phone call to say she was at the dentist's office, then again to say she was leaving, then again when she opened the front door, and the next thing I knew it was noon! I'm going to stop taking the antihistamine that I have been taking (on the doctor's orders) for over a month, and see if that gives me any increased wakefulness. I doubt if it will. If it doesn't, that I'll see the doctor and ask what I can do about it. I seem to go to sleep halfway through a cup of black coffee (yet I can stay awake all the way through one with cream and sugar).

September 06, 2019

Up again at 6 AM, because Becky had to go to the Dentist at 8:00 (Hah! You thought I was playing yesterday's tape!) to meet with an orthodontist. We both went, and during the consult, I was asked to join the discussion. You all know how I hate to give my opinion on anything, but I joined in anyway. After a brief discussion, we made a change in the plan for Becky's dental health. Instead of dragging the process out for an implant, we decided to have only a six-week process and get her a permanent bridge. It will be half the cost of the implant, and less than half the time to finish its installation.

Then we went out to brunch at Rise & Shine Café. We learned that there is a new owner, and of course, I'm hoping that there will be no changes other than additions to the current fare.

Over the past week, I have been trying to burn a CD of music for the car. I tried twice on the Linux computer, and neither CD would play. Then I transferred the music files to the windows computer, and burned a third one. That CD wouldn't play, either. I've never had trouble burning CDs before, so I'm curious as to what has changed.

September 07, 2019

Having discontinued my use of antihistamines as of yesterday morning, I slept well, arose refreshed (or nearly so), and spent the morning reading the end of Jinx Schwartz's book, Just a Happy Camper (#11 in the Hetta Coffey series). Another good story, but with a handful of typos and errors, which is a clear departure from her usual accuracy. If I hadn't been such a "Grammar Nazi" (as I've been called), I could have overlooked them. As it was, they didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

After lunch, Becky and I went to Ingles' Pharmacy and got our flu shots, then up to Suzanne's to retrieve a bag of tomatoes that her neighbor had left for us. We will use them to good advantage in making "Tomato Sandwiches" the way Vernon used to make them (with Bacon in them, of course) when we return from South Carolina on Tuesday. We'll be up at our usual 6 AM for church, and afterward, eat a good lunch, come home to change into more comfortable clothes, then set off to Summerville SC. Monday morning, we will drive to Georgetown for Ruth Bell's funeral (Sid's - Becky's brother's - Mother-in-Law), then spend that afternoon visiting with Melinda (as we will have tomorrow afternoon, too), then drive back home Tuesday morning.

September 08, 2019

Church, this morning, went well. One of the choir members was absent (ill), and he was scheduled to be Intercessor (read the Prayers of the People). I asked the Verger (the person responsible for insuring the smooth conduct of the service) if he had arranged a substitute, and she said that he hadn't, so I volunteered to do it "If I don't forget," The Verger said she would not let me forget. True to her word, when it was time, she looked at the choir, found me absent from my chair, then looked at the acolytes across the sanctuary from her, and there I was, ready to walk to the Lectern after the Crede was finished. She smiled and nodded, and by golly, I did it.

The Anthem, (I will Bow and be Simple) went exceedingly well. In my opinion, we're giving our new Director of Music the wrong impression. Now he thinks we're actually good!

After church, Becky and I went home, changed clothes, and having loaded the car before going to church, we struck out for lunch, then for a 3.5 hour trip to Summerville SC. Our 3.5 hour drive to Summerville took us 5 hours due to "Incidents" (accidents) on I-26. We had to take some back roads for a while north of Columbia, and then from Columbia to Orangeburg we were on secondary roads. We got here safely, though, and are in our very spacious motel room, winding down for a restful night.

September 09, 2019

We set out at noon enroute to Georgetown SC for the funeral. along out route of travel there was but one slow-down. It wasn't just a slow-down, but a stop for about 10 minutes. The road was being repaired, and was down to one lane for about two miles. We had to wait for about 6 vehicles to make that trip at 20 MPH. Then it was our turn to make that slow trip.

Nowhere along our route was there a restaurant that we felt like stopping for lunch (we didn't want "fast food"). So we got some coffee before going to the church, and that satisfied our desires for the while.

The funeral was a traditional Episcopal service, very stately procession, scripture readings, hymns and, of course, a homily. Also, her grandson, Roddy Smith, sang a solo (Deep River) in his beautiful and powerful baritone voice - twice as much voice as one would expect from someone his size.

After the graveside service, then, there was a reception where we got to meet Roddy and Holly's two-month-old daughter, Sidney Ruth Smith. She is adorable. We have photos! The finger-food at the reception was all gluten-intensive, so again, we had no lunch. We decided to wait until  re got back to Summerville to find a meal.

It was after 7 PM by the time we found a restaurant that we thought we might try. It is Boxcar Betty's, and they serve chicken sandwiches, so we requested ours with no bread, and instead, on a bed of lettuce. The chicken was quite tasty, and the sweet potato fries were sweetened with cinamon sugar (why sweeten a sweet potato?), and were double what either of us could eat! We brought them back to the motel for a snack.

September 10, 2019

After breakfast this morning, Becky and I loaded up the car, did a clean sweep of the motel room, checked out and drove home. It was no problem getting home, no wrecks, no road maintenance - in our direction of travel, anyway. They were repairing the east-bound lanes over the bridge that crosses Lake William Bowen, near the SC/NC border, but we didn't even slow down. For some reason, the semi's on the road were traveling at the speed limit or slightly below it. The vehicles that passed us were out-of-state drivers in a hurry.

When we stopped in Landrum SC, we gassed up at Ingles, as usual ($2.15 per gallon), then drove into Landrum proper to eat lunch at the Hare and Hound Pub. Becky had a Chicken Pot Pie without the crust, which I guess made it a Chicken Pot. I had a Guinness Beef Stew. We explained to our waiter, Brian, that we were gluten-free, and he advised us that they have some very delicious gluten-free bread - for future reference. Both our meals were delicious and filling, and I had no drowsiness after such a good meal, which was somewhat surprising. It also meant that I could drive all the way home. My back is complaining, now.

September 11, 2019

For the victims of the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Pennsylvania Field attacks, we pray to the Lord, "Lord, have mercy!"

While remembering the tragedy of the day in the year 2000, we pretty much rested up from our trip to Summerville, Georgetown, Summerville and back home. We're still pretty sore (backs and leggs, mostly), but we were able to sing well at choir practice this evening. One of the choristers made a delicious cheese dip with creame cheese, green onions, pineapple and ground almonds. It was stunningly delicious.

Musically, though, we had a wonderful practice. Jim, our new Director of Music, led us through Sunday's anthem, as well as four other pieces, looking ahead to future Sundays. It was all good, solid music, and we rose to the challenge of singing it a capella, of course. A while ago, I had spoken with Jim about my standing as a "feadógoer" (Whistle Player), and he mentioned a piece that he'd like to do, which requires an Eb whistle. Since I had only Bb, C, D and F, I ordered an Eb one from Amazon, which came in today. When I told Jim about it he was glad to hear it. Now all I need is a quiver to carry all five of my whistles. It should be no trouble to make one, or maybe easier to buy one.

September 12, 2019

This morning I had a visit from a nurse practitioner from my Medicare provider. She basically gave me a physical exam (as much as she could without me getting undressed). I did have to bare my feet to her, and she remarked that I didn't even have toenail fungus! See? I told you I was special!

After the visit, Becky and I went to lunch (neither of us had the energy to cook), then drove to Hendersonville to pick up my new glasses. "I can see clearly now the [strain] is gone" - Jimmy Cliff. Now i'll be able to see the computer screen, the television, traffic on the roads, and I will have no more excuse for missing words, notes or accidentals in choir or handbells. "It's a blessing - and a curse." - Adrian Monk

September 13, 2019

Friday 13th came on a Friday this month!

As I was driving Becky to her appointment with our Primary Care Physician, I realized that my distance vision hasn't been this clear sor a year, at least. Naturally, having had Cataract surgery two years ago, there was a honeymoon period during which I was so taken with my newfound clarity of vision that I may not have perceived the distant fuzziness. Now, though, there is none of that fuzziness. Now I'll have to get used to wearing my glasses again, for I had been accustomed to removing them to watch TV (clearer picture from across the room), and to use the computer (same reason). Now I have no excuse not to wear them, other than the habit of not using them. I caught myself removing them while watching TV tonight, and when I caught it, I put them back on, much to my relief.

Becky has been urged to have herself tested for the Braca test to check for breast or ovarian cancer, since breast cancer runs in her family. Our primary care told her that she would have to have a genetic study done at the hospital, which may cost around $600, and asked her if she had any Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. She has no record of it, whereas I have learned that I have about 1.7% of it in my genetic makeup. I'm sure that would not have jumped the marriage line into her makeup, though <grin>. Insurance may not pay for the test, he said, so maybe we will defer that until after we win the lottery - just like everything else.

September 14, 2019

I have started itching again. The hives haven't returned, but I'm getting rid, rough patches of itchy skin on my shoulders and back.

I dozed nearly all morning again, today, then I remembered I needed to go to the store, so while I was out shopping, Becky prepared a delicious lunch for us, which was ready upon my return.

We had a good rain shower this afternoon, about 20 minutes of wetness. While I'm sure we still need more rain than that, it was a very welcomed event.

September 15, 2019

Church was wonderful, this morning. The Children's sermon was delightful, expounding on the scripture of the shepherd who lost one of his 100 sheep and searched until he found it. Fr. Gary had brought a bag of stuffed animals and was showing them to the children, one at a time, as the children identified them, but he said there was another one, which somehow was not in the bag. He went frantic looking for it, and when he found it, he expressed his overwhelming joy. It was GROOT! I couldn't resist saying, "I am Groot!" in my own imitation of him. If anyone noticed, nobody commented. The anthem, Taste and See, went perfectly, and was particularly well received.

After church, we were pleased to have been invited to Suzanne's for Split Pea Soup. We enjoyed avery nice salad, the soup, some guacamole and a slice of cheesecake, along with a Red's Apple Ale (for me) and some coffee (for Becky). Afterward, we lasted through three hands of Mah Jongg, none of which I won. I think it was payback for the last time we played (seems long ago) when I won almost every hand.

September 16, 2019

This morning started about 9 with a one-ring telephone call, which indicates it was a blocked caller (gotta love it).

Not long after that, Suzanne called to arrange a ride to an appointment that she had just made. She's suffering a massive kidney infection. However, a little later, she called to say she wasn't going to keep the appointment, because it wouldn't be with her Primary Care, and she didn't want to have to educate a Physicion's Assistant as to her completely abnormal physical make-up and reaction to most medications. She will see her PCP a bit later, so that will suffice, we hope.

Becky went out after lunch to get her hair trimmed, and I went out to get lottery tickets, Vitamine K, Co-Q10, and came back carrying potato chips, tooth brush heads, cashews, MrClean Erasers - in addition to what I had intended to buy. Success!

September 17, 2019

I decided, this morning, that I would finally increase the speed of my treadmill walking. I have tried it a few times in the past, only to feel I needed to lower it again to my former setting. This morning was different, though. When the treadmill went into Cool-Down mode, I still had no discomfort, though I was "glistening" (sweating). It felt good to have lasted 30 minutes at the higher speed. No, I'm not going to say what the speed was - you'd just laugh.

In Tai Chi class, I was instructed not to answer some questions, because our teacher wanted to know if anyone else knew, and she knows I usually blurt out the answers before anyone else has a chance. Next, I suppose, she'll insist on us raising our hands to speak in her class. Another time, she tried to embarass me by actually asking me to answer a question. Well, I showed her! I even knew the answer. Next, she said we were to go home and write something down that we talked about in class so that when we meet again and she asks, "What do you remember from last week?" we will be able to give an answer other than, "Nothing. Was I here?" So next week I will be able to say, "Don't answer this, Bill!"

After class, Rosalind treated Becky and me to lunch at the Créperie, in payback for when we took her to lunch, once. The thing is, now she's bought two lunches to repay the one lunch we bought. I guess I must even the score. By the way, Rosalind is the Chinese woman (Chan Li Ying is her Chinese name) in our Tai Chi class. I had a Cubano crépe, Becky had the Cackalacky, and Rosalind had the Smoked Trout. Then she bought a Bahama Mamma dessert crépe and shared it with both of us. Yum.

September 18, 2019

Today, I tried to boot up my Toshiba Netbook for the first time after returning from our trip to South Carolina 9 days ago. It would not boot up. I tried everything I knew, and never once even saw the "hard drive" light flicker. Of course, since I had replaced the hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD), naturally the only sound I heard was the fan. Nothing I did made any difference. Then I got the notion that I should reinstall MX Linux. That would show me that a) the SSD was fried (after less than a year?), or 2) the Boot sector had been corrupted. It was #b! The OS installed just like melted butter going onto hot toast, no loss of data (because I don't store data on that computer-wanna-be, other than just a few files that are inconsequential), and I've been using it ever since. I think the previous installation had been faulty to begin with, because every time I booted it up, I had to designate the only browser installed as my default browser! Now, It not only knows it's my default, but it doesn't ask me for any verification no matter what I'm doing. I installed it from the same source as the first time, so I think something had gone bad from the start the first time.

Choir practice was wonderful. Jim, our new Director of Music, ran us through several anthems, working out kinks here and there, adjusting tempos to where they should be (Vivaldi up to its vivaciousness), and having us sing a capella much of the time. After our traditional Wine and Nosh break, the choir went into the Sanctuary to give the anthem for Sunday a final run-through, and since Becky and I will be away this Sunday, we sat in the Nave and listened for balance between the choir and the organ. The balance was excellent, of course, and I found out that we (Grace Episcopal Church) have a really good-sounding choir! When I'm singing in it, I don't hear it the way the congregation would hear it, so it was a very pleasant and wonderful revelation.

September 19, 2019

At 19 minutes past 9 this morning, it was 20190919 9:19, and then at 19 minutes past 7 this evening, it was 20190919 19:19 (military DTG, or Date Time Group) - so there!

I spent most of the day running the Toshiba ragged to ensure it was working well. I even did an initial backup after yesterday's re-installation so I will be able to restore to a clean machine in the event of another Boot Sector failure. I'm not expecting another one, but just in case, I'm taking my ISO Stick from which to reinstall the OS, should I hit that snag. Just think, if it were a Windows computer, I would be paying a computer repair facility a lot of money to get it back for me.

Our friend, Suzanne, needs a new battery installed into her Samsung tablet, and while I've never done that kind of surgery on such an item, I watched a video to see how it is done, and learned that there is a Battery Replacement Kit which includes the battery and all the tools needed to affect the replacement - for less than $20 (plus shipping). She has ordered the kit, and I will make the swap at the end of next week when it arrives. Now if only I could get my old Kindle to come back to life. Maybe there's a kit for that, too. I'm not sure why I need to have more than one Kindle, so maybe I won't, unless I want to repair it (just to see if I can), then unregister it and gift it to someone.

We're all packed and ready to go back to South Carolina for the annual Bishop Family Reunion. I understand it will be interesting with all the love-bugs in the air (and maybe in the food), but we'll get through it some kinda way.

September 20, 2019

Becky and I left Asheville this morning at about 8:30, got some coffee at Starbucks, cashed a check at the bank (more on this later) and headed southeast for Summerville SC. We were just here two weekends ago, but that was for a funeral. This time, it is for the 95th annual Bishop Family Reunion! Becky's maternal grandmother was a Bishop, so we're included.

Now, about the check that we cashed. In yesterday's mail, we received a check, our portion of the procedes of a class-action suit against ADT. It took a long time to remember I had consented to participate in that suit, but I did. The check was for a whopping $15.14!!! That more than paid for our morning coffee. I used the rest of it for a bottle of Coka-Cola in Orangeburg when I was feeling drowsy.

Anyway, we made the trip with no trouble, this time, stopping in Columbia for lunch at the Olive Garden (we shared two bowls of salad).

    

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