...the Elevated Record

Blog from the Hill


This is the last of March, so I'll be brief. I'll close out the month, and give you until next Friday to read-if-you-dare, and then make April the default page. Hopefully, by that time, I will have reinvented the magic formula for making it look correct, otherwise, if you decide to peek ahead (and who could blame you) you'd have to contend with some iffy formatting.

I made a fun discovery today. I had gone to the store to purchase some Chicken Salad and Hummus, but on a whim, I decided to check out the cookie selection. As one on a gluten-free diet, I'm always on the lookout for desserts of that nature, and today I found something that seemed to have my name on it, that is if my name is Oreo! Gluten-free Oreo cookies. The man was just stocking the shelves with them and said that I was lucky to find them today because tomorrow they might not be there. They are, apparently, more popular than the store or manufacturer thought they would be.

The most exciting part of the day was watching a movie that I thought would be just as hokey as the original - Journey to the Center of the Earth. A scientist-professor whose brother failed to return from a trip to prove his theories about volcanos was losing his laboratory space at the university. He had sought to use that space to prove his brother's theories in his absence but had made no real progress for the last 10 years. His nephew came for a visit against his wishes, but in very short order his uncle found a miraculous occurrence in the data, and off they went to Iceland. That's the point in the movie that caught my interest. There was a very pretty Icelandic woman involved. The rest was some very improbable adventure beneath the crust of the earth, some incredible male bonding, and just a little romance. I was glad we watched it.

Happy Palm Sunday! Though there were only seven people in the church building, today, with the rest of us watching from home on YouTube, the service was done quite well. There was a Procession of the Palms, reading of the Passion of Christ from the Gospel, the usual hymns and chants and readings, and of course, there was the Holy Eucharist. What more could we want from the day? While Rev. Milly had modeled a rather long red chasuble in an email, earlier in the week, the one she wore today was much better suited to her more modest stature.

Since I submitted to a wellness visit from United Health Care (our new Medicare provider), I received a Visa card with $15 loaded on it as a "reward". It actually came in the mail yesterday. Today I took a trip to the drugstore and bought a 3-pack of tissues and two "Sharing Size" bags of M&M's. I used the card and paid the remaining $0.50 in cash. Now I have an empty Visa card that will never be used again. Other than that, nothing exciting was done today.

Happy Birthday, Becky! In celebration thereof, I drove Becky to Allergy Partners for her bi-weekly allergy shots. The staff sang Happy Birthday to her, and she retaliated by introducing them to the Viking Birthday song. We then drove to Publix to buy her a gluten-free birthday cake, chocolate, of course, and several other gluten-free items that we would need later. It was as though Friday at about noon is the time when everyone arrives at Publix, for the traffic entering the parking lot was thick and slow. Fortunately, though, looks were deceiving, for there were not very many people in the store. On our way home, we stopped at Sam's Club gas station to refuel Yoda, then at Starbucks for Becky's Birthday drink (I got one too because she doesn't like to drink alone). Once at home, we were surprised by a visitor, Elizabeth, who wanted to hand-deliver a birthday card on the day of the actual birthday. She stayed, briefly, for a chat, but then went on her way.

I awoke this morning with chills, took some Tylenol and got ready to leave. Becky and I drove up to Suzanne's house, delivered a bag of licorice to her brother Brian, a book to her brother Gregg (I had borrowed the book several years ago) and a tray of Oreo Klondike bars to whoever will enjoy them. Then we took Suzanne to her medical appointment and lunch at TGI Friday's. After returning her to her home, we returned to our own house through a very heavy downpour of rain. This evening ended with a somewhat spectacular thunderstorm.

This morning, Becky and I drove to the Reuter Center on UNCA's campus, and after quite a wait while our names were located in their computer system, then quite another while they let everyone else in to get their shots, we were called, one at a time, to get our 2nd Covid-19 vaccine (Moderna). On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a celebratory cup of coffee (Oatly Caramel Macchiato). At home, after watching two episodes of Forged in Fire, I went to the store. I had no trouble finding the eight items on the shopping list, so I decided to try to find Oatly Oat Milk. I didn't find it, but I did find a couple of other brands of oat milk, and I bought a half-gallon of it. After virtually attending Compline, I poured a glass of our new oat milk (Vanilla, unsweetened) and found it to be a really good drink by itself. I can't wait to mix a banana, some Nutella and peanut butter with it and blend it into a smoothie tomorrow. 

Happy Lunaversary! In celebration thereof, Becky got her allergy shots a little early to be outside the 24-hour no-shot-zone before our second Covid-19 vaccination (tomorrow), after which we stopped at Starbucks, where the woman in the vehicle before us paid for our drinks, and then Habitat for Humanity picked up our old Loveseat.

Our coffee, from the Monks, came today, and we finished watching the Indiana Jones series with the one we had never seen before, The City of the Crystal Skulls. That's about it. I think I napped a while, too.

The sermon, today, was delivered by a Presbyterian minister, who is also our Rector's husband. I don't think I've ever heard a sermon quite like it. He started by telling us a secret, that preachers have long tried to deny favoritism, while the truth is that they all have a preference of which Gospel to preach from. According to him, few enjoy St. John's Gospel very much. I, though, enjoy the way he, St. John, weaves a tapestry of words as he relates the teachings of Jesus. Other than that, during the Prayers of the People, Becky was mentioned as one having a birthday this week (Friday), so naturally, when we got to Coffee Hour, those in attendance sang Happy Birthday to her. It sounded rather like a rendition of Hogwarts' School Song, with everyone on a different pitch, tune and tempo. It was glorious!

We were expecting to receive a shipment of coffee from Mystic Monks Coffee today, but it didn't come. Instead, we got a shipment of Australian Licorice. It was a fairly good flavor trade in my opinion. Becky doesn't like licorice, so she will be pleased when the coffee finally arrives. It's Irish Cream flavored coffee, which she does like (and so do I). Aside from that, we have been enjoying the Indiana Jones movies, which were running a marathon on our TV today. We recorded them, so we didn't have to watch all four at once. We only watched the first two, leaving two more for tomorrow.

Becky drove herself to Allergy Partners again today, but in HILDOR (her Saturn). We had left it out of the garage overnight for that purpose, and as planned, it started right up and behaved well. This afternoon, I decided that I needed to take a trip to World Market to purchase some dessert bowls that would better match the shape of our favorite dessert, Klondike (square). I deliberately did not take the Interstate, because I knew they were doing some construction to widen it from four lanes to six and that traffic would be thick and slow. So I took the back roads, which of course is a very popular route for everyone else who doesn't wish to contend with construction delays. The result was that the trip was as slow as it would have been on the Interstate. It took me an hour for an otherwise 20 minute trip to the store. I took the Interstate back, and the return trip took an hour, also. I got the bowls, guessed right on the size, and they make eating the Klondikes with a spoon much easier than the round bowls with smaller bases that we had been using.

Today, I had a visit from a Nurse Practitioner, Jonathan H, for a wellness visit, paid for by United Health Care. It's an annual benefit - for them as well as for me. They get first-hand information about my health, and I get another pair of eyes to examine me to ensure everything is as good as reported by my Primary Care Physician. It certainly was today. BP 116/74, HR 60, Respiration 70 and Oximetry 1.1 (anything above 0.9 is excellent). When he left, I called AAA to ask them to come out and start Becky's car. I was told the battery truck would be here in 30 minutes. In fact, the truck pulled into our driveway in only 10 minutes. The technician started the car, first try, then checked the charging system, which was charging even with lights and AC running. After the truck backed out of the driveway, I drove to Starbucks for some celebratory decadence, went through the drive-thru, of course, so I didn't have to shut off the engine, and then got back home 25 minutes after I left. Then I moved YODA into the garage and left HILDOR in the driveway so Becky will be more comfortable driving to her shots in the morning.

Becky and I visited the chiropractor, today. While we were there, Becky got a phone call (bogus, of course) which sounded our home-made ringtone of the Pachelbel Canon in D, which was cobbled together from recordings of various train horns - including Thomas the Tank Engine! Dr. Reilly was delighted with it. He wondered if he could put it in his iPhone, but of course, I don't know anything about iPhones. I may have to research it. But aside from the famous Canon in D, he was eager to report about the largest tax raise ever (his words, I think). I might have to rename him Dr. Politico!

Happy John Day! (John 3:16, that is). Today I got two surprises. The delivery of our new reclining loveseat, which was supposed to arrive between 11am and 2pm, arrived at 10:15am. The old was carried out to the porch, then the three sections of the new one were carried into the living room, assembled and plugged into the electric socket (well, actually to my power strip that was plugged into the wall socket). The installers demonstrated the features to me and left. They were gone by 10:45. The second surprise is that our Emerald Card, on which I have been receiving our tax refunds, had a deposit of $2,800 overnight - the stimulus money. That will very nearly pay off the loveseat.

Beware the Ides of March! We got up at 7am, this morning (slept late), so I could take the trash and recycling to the curb. Then, instead of napping, which is my norm on a Monday morning, I started moving furniture out of and in the living room in anticipation of tomorrow's delivery of our new power recliner loveseat. Then, though, I found the need to vacuum the newly exposed carpet. The vacuum cleaner started smelling like burning electrical insulation, so I started cleaning the hair from the sweeper brush roller that was, I quickly surmised, keeping the roller from rolling. Once the hair had been cut away, I was able to vacuum the carpet as I had wanted. I was finished by 10am, but felt so spent that I didn't have the energy to drink the cup of coffee I had poured. I managed, then, to snooze through a few television programs.

Happy Pi Day! I went to bed at about 11pm (EDT) last night (just bragging, I guess) and rose to the sound of my wake-up alarm at 6am (on purpose!) for my morning shower. After showering and dressing, I went into the living room, tried to turn on YouTube to watch videos before the church service (also on YouTube), but guess what...my blu-ray player, though which I access YouTube (because Spectrum is too cheap to put it into the channel lineup the way Dish does) was not connected to the Internet. It had been connected to it the day before, but that was before the time change. While I was trying to get in touch with Sony to see why it was not only not connected, but why it would not reconnect to or even find my Wi-Fi, I decided to unplug the player from the electricity, wait ten seconds then plug it in again. It found the Wi-Fi right away after that. That was, of course, after church. We had watched the church service on the computer, then "attended" the Virtual Coffee Hour, then I read my emails. That's when I found that Lloyd had released the changes to the 1807 & Friends, so after lunch, I posted the changes to that website and submitted my invoice for payment ($30!) so Becky and I can go out to lunch once during whatever week the payment arrives. Usually, they are as prompt as I am in invoicing them, but once I got the check fairly late (I had to remind them, once).

I'm not always a fount of exciting things that I might have done each day, and this is one of those days. I did, though, read a meme about hot to set clocks ahead in the Spring. It said that to set a sundial ahead, move one house to the right, but you would need an electrical or electronics engineering degree to set appliance clocks ahead, and that car clocks cannot be set ahead, so just wait another six months and it will be on time. It's a good thing I have a degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, because it enabled me to not only set the stove, microwave and coffee maker clocks ahead, along with two different makes of cars and likewise two different clock radios (radii?), and all within three minutes!

Today, I learned what kind of a lamp Noah had on the Ark. An Arc Lamp, of course. Other than that, a trip to the grocery store, my Camry Hybrid registering 36.5 MPG on this tank of gas and feeling pretty well, I have almost nothing to report. So instead, I'll just say that 36.5 MPG isn't the best mileage I've gotten in a car. I had a Plymouth Neon that would routinely get 44 MPG. I didn't like that car, mostly because it was not exciting to drive, and besides that, it was uncomfortable on a long trip. The Camry, though, is very comfortable to drive, though to be honest we haven't taken any long trips since we bought it. I'm told that on a long trip it will register more than 40 MPG. We'll see if that ever hapens.

I took Becky for her shots today, and for the third week in a row there were no shots for grass. The first of those three weeks there were no shots at all, then the next two weeks have been for trees only. It makes me wonder what has been going on. We heard that the Allergy Partners computer system was hacked and held for ransom, but it was announced that the system was recovered. Apparently their supply system is in turmoil, whether from the same cause of another, with the result that people are not getting the shots they need to combat their allergies.

We were told, at the LazyBoy store, that we would be contacted by Friday to set up a delivery date. They called today. I was given the option to set it up on line, so I received a text with the URL for that setup. The problem was that they game me only one date, March 18th, but that's the date of my physical with our Medicare provider's health professional (RN, PA or MD - who knows), so I ended up calling to set it up. The first person I spoke with said he'd see what was available when the schedule was opened online, and then he would call me back. Pretty soon someone else called me to set up the schedule, and again had to wait for their computerized schedule to become available. Then the first one called me back and set us up for a delivery on the 16th. That's next Tuesday! I'm really pleased to be getting our new loveseat so quickly.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to scoot my body back to the backrest of my side of our reclining loveseat, and in doing so, I accidently broke part of the back support spring system. As a result, the chair has been leaning me to the right and also twisting my body to the right. The result is a marked pain in my lower back. I had been searching on line for a suitable source for a replacement, but finding very little decent results. It hadn't occurred to me to try to find a LazyBoy store, but sure enough there is one, as was pointed out to us by Suzanne. I had shied away from them because of the price, but she pointed out that they were running an in-store-only sale presently, so Becky and I visited the store and spent a lot of time talking to one of their salesmen, Chris, who came from Staffordshire, England, 31 years ago. After getting to know each other, he asked what we were looking for, so I showed him a web photo of one of their chairs. "A Pinnacle," he said, and led us to such a chair. It was every bit as comfortable as I had imagined nothing could possibly be, so we started talking about price, whether we could get one without the center console and so forth. Anything we would order from the factory would not come to our house before four months had passed. Well, you can imagine my response, starting with a few "capital letters" and ending with, "That's not acceptable." Chris then found that he had a chair in their back room that someone had ordered but refused. It has a center console, is a power recliner with a 7-day battery pack (in case of power loss), lifetime warrantee of the frame and mechanical/electrical structure (included in the price), and a lifetime warrantee on the fabric (that we could purchase). To make a long paragraph short, we bought the unit and expect to have it in our home next week. In the mean time, I will be sitting in a different recliner, and hoping not to have too many spasms from the discomfort of watching television with my head turned (arthritis in my neck, of course).

I had some erands to run today. First, I went to BestBuy, bought a plastic case for my new phone. I'm not overly fond of cases for cell phones, but the new phones feel a bit slippery, and if I'm going to drop it, it needs a case, and if it has a case, chances are I will not drop it. Second, I bought some new speakers for my Windows computer, because the tiny, tinny speakers in the back of the monitor are woefully inadequate. Third, I drove to Mission Pharmacy to replenesh Becky's stock of Good Neighbor sugar-free antacids (Tums-wanna-be). Fourth, I went to Ingles to pick up a few things on the shopping list. I amazed myself by finding everything on the list this time!

Church was a little different, this morning. Our Rector was not present, but she did give the sermon that she had prepared as a video file earlier, and had a supply priest officiate the service. He did so at a somewhat faster pace than Milly uses, which is more to my own liking. I have learned to tolerate Milly's slower pace, because her sermons are worth the wait, in my opinnion. Afterward, at the Virtual Coffee Hour, seven of us got together and had a good, lively discussion of things happening in the community, in our families and in our own lives.

I attended the monthly meeting of the Western NC Linux Users Group (WNC LUG) today for the first time this year, and since the person who usually records the meeting was not present, I decided to try to record it. I was able to start the recording, but 15 minutes later it was terminated. I have tried to send the file to another member of the LUG who might know what to do with such a short recording, and if it was me, I would discard it. The meeting did not contain any Linux-Specific content, just a bunch of chit-chat amongst friends. When I started attending several years ago, I was under the impression that it was for people who used Linux as an operating system. What I've found is that the members are, by and large, people who build program modules for their businesses and like to explain to the rest of us how the modules were thought to be necessary and how wonderful they are iff (that's "if and only if") they are needed. They all seem to speak in Engineer-ese or Programmer-ese. I have tried to get them to translate their presentations into User-ese, but without much luck.

Becky and I were invited to serve as Guinea Pigs for Suzanne's latest development, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Banana Bread. I found the single-service slice (2.5" thick from a standard loaf pan) to be quite delicious, filling and satisfying. As far as I'm concerned, she can publish the recipe as it it, though she says she wants to tweak it a bit more, and maybe try different flavors. Since we were there, and had brought our Mah Jong set anyway, we sat down to play a few hands. I won the first two, Suzanne won the third, I won the fourth and Becky won the fifth and final hand. I was, though, one tile away from wining again when Becky pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat! I had promised my Sister-in-Law, Melinda, that I would let the others win, today, since I had hogged most of the glory last time. Still, I was given winning hands, so what could I do?

Today was a weird kind of day. I took Becky to get her shots this morning, then on the way home we stopped at Starbucks for our "Consolation Prize" cuppa. We got home just in time for the noon news in which we learned that today was an ideal day to get the car washed. We could have done that after Starbucks, since the carwash is three doors away - but we didn't. UPS brought the rest of my CPAP Supplies order - a nearly empty box with a replacement hose that I didn't really need in it. I spent much of the day reading a fairly good novel about submarine warfare (what fun for an ex-submarine sailor). Oh yeah, and I learned there is a Target store closer to home than the airport - this after living here for nearly 20 years!

After Compline tonight, Becky and I went to the living room to watch our recorded programs on the TV/DVR. Not long after we sat down, we heard something fall. Thinking it had sounded like it fell in the computer room, we entered, turned on the light and found that one of my two old cell phones had fallen from the shelf to the desk. They had been on that shelf for two weeks. I had taken one of them down to see if I could load something from Google Play, found that I could not, and then I returned it to the chelf. When we found it had fallen, I placed it back on the shelf, and then we watched our programs. Afterward, when we returned to the computers so I could type up this Blog Entry, It fell again while I was sitting here. I took both of the phones off the shelf, then, so I might be able to avoid damage to them or to myself (or to my drink which I had moved from beneath where the phones were). As I started typing this entry, I noticed that one of them was slightly moved from where it had been. That's when I remembered that I had failed to turn the phone off after its failure to download anything. When I went to turn it off, I noticed that the battery level was 11%. That explained the falling phone syndrome! When the battery goes below 15%, it gives short vibrations every 10 minutes to try to attract the user's attention. Since I hadn't paid any attention for an hour, or so, the vibrations had moved the phone toward the edge, and eventually it sought its own level. I have since switched it off, so I expect no further falling. I may have to see if there is still a phone kiosk at the mall that will pay a pittance for old phones. We have new ones, so these old ones are unwanted.

I've just discovered something very strange about Rye Whisky. I just mixed a shot with some ginger ale and noticed that there is a steady stream of tiny bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass and bursting at the surface. Bourbon doesn't do that, and I'm wondering why Rye does. I haven't found any reference, in what I've read so far, that Rye contains any special effervescent properties, but whatever the reason, I was tickled by it (it tickled my nose and my sense of humor).

Happy March Fools Day!

It's been two days since our first Covid-19 vaccination, and I went most of the day without the need for Tylenol. I did take some just before 8pm because of minor body aches and low temperature (about 1.5 degrees low). I've been functioning fairly well since the shot, sleeping soundly and awakening ready for a new day. When we got the shots, I signed up for daily V-Safe Check-Ins, so each afternoon I get a text message with a link to my daily questionnaire, which I fill out and submit. I promise not to do that in this Blog, too.