12/26/16 Chronicles

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  Monday 12/19/16

I can't believe it's less than a week until Christmas! I'm all ready for it, and all that, but the time really flew by. I was very organized this year and got my cards and presents out really early and got my decorations up fairly early. So no complaints in that regard. I've gotten a lot of cards back, too. Yay! I love getting cards.

I didn't go to bed until about noon, and then I woke up about 5:30 when David called. I'm going to try to get to bed early for a change, but we'll see. The allergies were really bad last night, probably from making lots of cookies with flour (inhaling it). Next year, only gluten-free cookies.

I made some yummy treats. I dipped gluten free pretzels in melted chocolate and then sprinkled them with crushed candy canes. Wow, so great! First I did it with white chocolate, and then with dark chocolate.

I read online about different ways to keep mice out...trying them to see if they work. Apparently they don't like aluminum foil or dryer sheets, or anything that has a strong smell. I cleaned out the cupboard underneath the sink, where we saw the mouse droppings. Then I laid down aluminum foil and dryer sheets and sprinkled crush peppermint and a mixture of spicy stuff like Cayenne, ginger and turmeric. Hopefully that will keep the little bugger away. Of course it might be coming in another way, and so it'll just avoid the sink...we'll see!

I spent way too much time today watching sappy Christmas movies on Lifetime instead of doing work. I went to bed about 2 am and then slept 9 1/2 hours!

  Tuesday 12/20/16

It's definitely too cold for me, and I hate putting the heat on all the time. Grumble, grumble, grumble! I got two big packages in the mail today from my SIL Susan and her husband John. More presents under the tree...yay!  Not sure what day we're opening presents. Might not open them until we get back from Dallas.

David got the oil changed etc. on the car today, so he came home for lunch. Nice treat! I was barely awake, though.  He took in all the cookies and gifts for the people at his work today, too.

Mrs. Illig passed away... she was a nice old lady. She had been my brother David's mother-in-law years ago, but she was a mom to everyone. She was sort of like a second mom to David and Stephen, as well as others. She let them sleep on her couch, loaned them money, etc. They did stuff for her that she needed, like helping her with her computer or getting her books. She was really into cats, and I think she had many of them. She and I used to always exchange Christmas cards, and hers were always custom-made with a different reindeer each year. I will miss her cards. I didn't know her all that well, but she was very nice.

I straightened up the house and did the dishes. I phoned the lady next door, Mary, to see if she wanted to come over.  She was making lunch and might come over later, or tomorrow.  She phoned me later and said it would be tomorrow. She invited me to go with her to El Dorado, but I declined. I have a lot to do tomorrow. Also, honestly, she has blood pressure problems and has said she feels dizzy sometimes climbing stairs, so I don't want to ride anywhere with her-- at least until she gets those problems worked out.

Having used this new computer a little while now, I have to say that there are only a few little annoying things. By and large, I love it. Occasionally, tapping and clicking seems to get disabled, and the only way to do anything is to use the touch screen. Then I have to close everything and reboot. I don't know if that's this computer, or a Windows 10 thing (although it didn't happen in my last one), or a Firefox glitch. If it happens again, I'm calling their tech support.

Now, I use some old programs that are no longer updated, especially MS Frontpage. In my old laptop, it crashed or froze up pretty often. I only use it certain times and otherwise use the more recent MS Expression Web. But in this new laptop, it seems more stable in general. However, sometimes if I open it, I get this weird error that I recall getting years ago on Windows. The only way to fix it is to force it to crash, then close my other programs, and then re-open Frontpage again. So weird.

And then one last thing, that I just remembered, is that the NumLock button keeps turning itself back on. I use the PgUp and PgDn keys a lot, and on this keyboard, they're at the very top, which is not as convenient. However, I found that if the NumLock key is off, then 9 is still PgUp and 3 is still PgDn. I use them a lot, so it's very annoying when it doesn't work right.

I went to bed around 1am.

  Wednesday 12/21/16

I woke up at 6:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. About 4pm I took a short nap.

I straightened up the house again, and the lady next door never called or came by as she said she would. I know she has a lot on her mind, to be fair, involving her daughter and what's going on with her health. Still, if you say you'll visit someone, you should at least call to say if you can't make it. And also, last week I had chatted with her for awhile and we discussed her coming by this week, and yet when I spoke with her about it this week, it seemed to surprise her. I don't know her very well, so she may be a bit scattered or have some medical reason.

Well, I guess if it forces me to do the dishes, it's not a bad thing :) I just wish I hadn't made all those Christmas cookies.  We'll eat some and the rest will get wasted because of food allergies.

I got some more cards and presents in the mail today...so nice! I got a late birthday card and present from my SIL Eileen and her husband Joe. This is our last day to receive anything in the mail before Christmas, since we're going out of town tomorrow, and Monday is a holiday.

It was a bit warmer today- in the 60's! Felt good for a change. It's supposed to be nice on Christmas Day- 72.

My allergies have been terrible, with lots of sneezing, being stuffed up, etc.

David came home for lunch and we went to McDonald's. My SIL had given us a McDonald's gift cards, so it was free!

The doctor's office is irritating.  If you need a prescription that doesn't have any refills left, you have to call at least 2 days in advance before it will make it to the pharmacy. Also, they don't refill stuff for very long. I'm tired of having to keep calling in prescriptions that don't have refills.  Kaiser in Honolulu was so much better.

I stayed up pretty late because I had a lot to do before our trip. I washed a few clothes by hand and put them through the dryer. I packed, did dishes, and did a little work on my site. I had a few things I wanted to get done. I was very tired around 2:30 when I went to bed.

  Thursday 12/22/16

I woke up around 6:15 and took a shower. I was so tried!

I had to take a shower, brush my teeth and finish packing. We decided to leave the window Christmas lights, as well as the tree lights, on while we're gone so that it doesn't look like we're not home. I hope they don't all burn out. I guess it's no big deal if they do...we just have to get new ones next year. I made us breakfast, and I watered my plants.  I took a Christmas card and some cookies over to the neighbors' house and put them in their mailbox.  Then I had a few other things to do. We left about 7:30.

It was pretty cold. I wore my favorite pants, which are really thin ones that I bought at Ross in Hawaii.  We were driving, though, so we had the heat.

We stopped at a gas station in this little town called Sulphur Springs...ugly name, but it seemed nice. The gas station had an Arby's. I just had to use the restroom, stretch my legs, and get something to eat. I miss Arby's. We had none in Hawaii near us, and we have none in our small town now.

From there it was a fairly short drive to Dallas.  David found our hotel pretty easily.  It's the Crowne Plaza, which is a nice cheapie hotel. Nothing elegant about it, and it's small, but it's not a dump or anything. It seems run very well, too, and the people are nice.

I was really tired but also hungry. We checked in easily. I changed into warmer clothes, and then we walked to the West End, which is not too far from here. We stopped at a steak place called Y.O., which was really good. We both forgot how large the portion sizes are in Texas! I got pork chops and it came with two really big ones. He got a super large piece of fish.  The food was delicious and the service was good, too. They played a lot of Christmas music, too, which I enjoyed.

We then walked about a mile to the Crafty Irishman. I was hoping for dessert or hot chocolate, but they had neither. At least I got some exercise, but my feet were really hurting, and I was so exhausted. It was tough, for me, walking back to our hotel after that. It was in the 50's, so not too cold, since I was wearing layers and had a hat, scarf and clothes.

I napped for about 5 hours, and then we took a cab over to a European-themed place called The Old Monk for dinner.  Neither of us was super hungry, but the food was great (although a bit expensive). I had a huge salad and a hot chocolate with Bailey's.  David just had a salmon and cheese plate, although it did come with bread, butter, crackers, apples, and some veggies. Actually, it came with nuts scattered all over the plate, too, so we had to send it back and get it remade. That was not mentioned on the menu. It just said "garnishes."

Then we briefly walked across the street to another place called The Dram.  It was very comfortable, with many couches. However, just like The Old Monk, it was playing loud music with a driving beat, and it was cold. These places don't like to use their heat, I guess. I can understand playing that kind of music if you have a big crowd, but there were maybe 5 people there, all sitting at the bar.  Also, it smelled really bad, like they used too much floor cleaner. We didn't stay long and went back to our hotel. We had some soft drinks there. Everyone was watching the football game. We got some bottled waters to take back to our room, too.

I had a hard time sleeping for more than a few hours at a time, all night. I kept waking up.

  Friday 12/23/16

I woke up around 6 am. UGH. I might go back to sleep at some point. I'm very hungry, though, so I'm contemplating breakfast.

I have to say that I really hate it when your friends post stupid things on Facebook, and then you can't say anything because you know they might take offense. Ah, well.  I wish I could tell this person to stop worrying so much, stop being paranoid etc. but he wouldn't listen, anyway.  It's not a close friend....otherwise I could say it and they wouldn't take offense.

I found that there's a movie theater within walking distance, so tomorrow we'll hopefully go see the new Star Wars movie, "Rogue One." I was hoping to see "Doctor Strange" or "Fantastic Beast..." before they go away, but they're not playing there, and that's the only close theater. Still, it will be good to see a movie, especially a Star Wars movie. I heard it was pretty good. The theater is one that sells food and liquor, too, so that should be interesting. One of the theaters in Honolulu was starting to do that, too, but we never bothered to go.

We went to breakfast downstairs around 8. They have a pretty good breakfast buffet.  Now he's gone back to sleep, since it's still so early. I may, too!

There are a few things wrong with this hotel that we're not too pleased about. First of all, there's a skunk smell in the hallway. It's horrible.  Secondly, speaking of smelling - the shampoo smells AWFUL and makes your hair stink. Thirdly, the heater is pretty loud. Fourthly, the light by the door (when you walk in) takes a really long time to come on. Fifthly, we asked for a wake up call when we took a nap this afternoon, and it never came. Sixthly, when we went out for lunch, the room was not cleaned, even though David passed the maid and told her we were going out. Seventhly, later on, I told the manager this and asked someone to clean the room, or at least bring us fresh towels and an extra pillow. They brought us fresh towels, but not an extra pillow. Oh, and Eighthly, it's Friday night and their lounge was closed before midnight! In a major city! Sheesh.

Around 11:30am, he bought our hockey tickets and moved the car from valet parking to self-parking.  Then we took a cab over to The Old Monk for lunch. It was very cold, and drizzly. I didn't want to take my leather jacket out in the rain, so I wore a new Star Wars holiday sweatshirt over my other clothes instead. (It wasn't raining that much, as it turned out) I got several compliments on it!  It wasn't as warm as the jacket, though.

We had a good lunch. He had the fish and chips, and I had the cheese plate. We then walked over to the 7-11 to get a few things, and then we stopped at another lounge called Sissy's Southern Kitchen & Bar to just have a soft drink and wait for a cab. They seemed to think that cabs were not good around here, so they wanted to call us an Uber. I said, no Uber, and the cabs are fine. i told them that we took one there! So they called us a cab. It didn't take very long at all.

I hope that cabs won't be completely replaced by Uber and Lyft. I understand that people want to save money, but this is not a good choice. These drivers don't have any special experience or license. The company doesn't do a good background check on them.  As long as they have a valid driver's license and no criminal history, they can drive.  There have been many problems with Uber, internationally. Everything from disputes about money or accidents, to criminal assault and rape.  I'm not saying that all cabs are 100% safe, but they mostly are because the drivers are professionals. But don't take my word for it. Go to Google and type in "problems with Uber" to see what I mean. Sorry, but I don't want to trust my life riding with "some guy." I would only take them if I was desperate.

He took a nap while I did work. I should have napped because I was pretty tired.  We went to the hockey game around 6:30. The shuttle downstairs took us. They will take you anywhere within 3 miles, so that's cool. Unfortunately, they stop running at 10, so we couldn't get a ride back the other way.

The game was fun, even though I was very tired. Of course, it was cold inside because of the ice. I came prepared for that, with my leather jacket and my scarf, gloves and hat.  That area of seating had a waitress.  She was helping people near me and asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?" I said, "Well, can you make it warmer?" (trying to be funny).  She said, well, I can't, but a hot chocolate with Bailey's can." I said, " Really? Wow, I'll have one of those!"  There was no whipped cream, but it was still great and really warmed me up. Anyway, it was a good game, very exciting.  I'm not into sports, but it was good. They played a lot of fun Christmas songs and videos, so that was neat.  It was actually really festive. A lot of people were dressed up in Christmas sweaters or wearing other Christmas paraphenalia like Santa hats, reindeer ears, necklaces that looked like Christmas lights, etc.  There was even one guy in a  suit that had a Christmas print all over it.  So they made it fun.  We had good seats, too.  We were far enough up that we could see the whole game pretty well. I was glad because the closer you sit to the ice, the colder it is.  We just had hot dogs for dinner, and I also had some cinnamon pecans.  I didn't feel like running back and forth for food when it was so cold and I was so tired.

When we came out of the arena, it was just after 10.  We stopped at this little burger place, and he got a salad. I was just tired and wanted to go back to the room. I had literally fallen asleep for a few seconds at the game. I almost fell out of my seat! LOL! The place was called Shooters, and the waiter we had was super nice.  When we were about to leave, a youngish woman walked in and asked if it was ok for her to sit with us for just a minute.  She explained that her husband was in the bathroom.  We didn't mind.  She'd had a LOT to drink.  She was having fun!  We had a nice chat. Her boyfriend is from the L.A. area. I think she said she's from Missouri. They both live here in Dallas now.

So, anyway, we took a cab back to our hotel (there were some lined up outside the arena). The lounge and restaurant at our place was closed.  We had some snacks, and I read some messages on my computer. I went to bed around 12:15 and slept pretty soundly through the night.

  Saturday 12/24/16

We slept in and then got ready to go out.  We were taking things pretty leisurely.  We walked over to the movie theater, called Alamo Drafthouse. It was about 10 minutes' walk. We got there a bit early for the noon showing. 

When you walk in, the tickets are sold at a counter (not like the usual kind where they're behind glass and outdoors). The people were really nice and explained how it worked there. Downstairs is the lounge and restaurant, so we went down there to have lunch. It also has karaoke rooms! Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to use those. The waitress told us that we should just get our soft drinks and then go up to the theater to order the food; otherwise, she said, it might take too long. We agreed and did that.  The theaters are kind of small and don't hold as many seats as most.  Each seat is a recliner. They're very wide, too. So comfy. There's a little table in front, with a cupholder, and a menu. The waiter came over and explained everything to us and took our food order.

They have a really extensive menu. I got a gluten-free pizza. I got what was called the Carnivore. It was really delicious, but very spicy, too. Somehow I ate the whole thing. That was not a good idea! My stomach was a bit upset for awhile.  They also had a full bar. I got a delicious milk-shake-like drink-- a Bailey's Irish Coffee shake. So good.  Anyway, it was an interesting setup. You just had to write on the paper what you wanted and leave it up front of the table, and they brought it. They were also really good about staying out of the way during the movie and going around in the dark without any problem.

Before the movie, they showed a lot of Star Wars clips, spoofs, fan films, commercials, etc.  Some I'd seen already on YouTube. They also showed the Star Trek: Next Generation fan thing where Picard and the others sing "Let it Snow!"  It was very nice to see all of the stuff.  They showed some old toy commercials, too, from the 70's and 80's.

I enjoyed the movie, but I wasn't too thrilled by the ending. I liked the robot. He was funny. I thought they did a good job fitting it into the old Star Wars universe from the 70's.  Some of the CGI work they did with characters was weird-looking. No spoilers! David's not a movie fan (especially this kind of movie), so he was bored, but at least he went with me, so that was nice.

On the way back, we stopped at the Westin for some snacks and soft drinks. The people who work there are very nice, and we chatted a bit. I think we napped after that. Too much fun!  Well, that's what vacations are for.

Later on, we went out to karaoke at this place called Gator's in the West End.  There were not a lot of people there, since it was Christmas Eve.  Only 4 singers besides me. I think there were maybe 15 people there total, including the ones who worked there.  The KJ was very nice, although he kept calling me "Susan."  Correcting him only confused him!  There was only one other singer who could carry a tune, but at least everyone was having fun. One girl, who was very drunk, was wearing a Happy Birthday tiara and kept telling us it was her birthday. She was very fun, though, and very enthusiastic when I was singing, so that was nice.  After those 4 left, it was kind of boring. I only sang a few more songs before we left. Still, I got to sing 6 songs in less than 2 hours, so that was ok. It's just better if there are more people to sing for, and if they're listening and reacting.

I tried to sing mostly recent songs because most of the people there were younger.  However, I'm pretty sick of most of the songs I know, so it was hard to figure out what to sing. Truthfully, I wanted to sing Christmas songs, but it was not the right place for it. Most of them clearly were not feeling the Christmas spirit. I only sang 2 upbeat ones. First I sang Taylor Swift's version of "Last Christmas," and then later I sang "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." I also sang "Back in the USA," which I was surprised he had because it's kind of rare for karaoke (the Linda Ronstadt version); "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar, which is one I sing a lot; "I Don't Want to Wait" by Paula Cole (the Dawson's Creek theme song); and "Misty Blue" by Dorothy Moore. That last one was after the younger crowd mostly left. There were some older folks like us sitting in the back, so they appreciated it more.

The KJ was very nice. Most of his songs seemed to be from Youtube or other online services. His microphone was very sensitive, and he didn't have the background turned up too loud, so it was kind of loud for the singers, especially when they are clearly not ones who know how to sing on a mic. 

A lot of the places were closed, so we went back over to the Westin. I was hungry. They had a small lounge menu, but there wasn't much I could eat on there. The manager heard that there was nothing I could eat there, because of the gluten, so she got them to whip me up a nice cheese plate. It was great. It had 3 different really good cheeses, and some delicious kind of relish that was both spicy and sweet, and a fairly large cup of nuts. The good kind - Marcona almonds, with some walnuts. It was wonderful. And she said, it was on the house! So that was even better.  What a great Christmas gift. The bartender was new and young, but we had a nice chat. He's from St. Louis.  His partner works for Southwest, so they get lots of free and cheap flights.

Oh, this was funny-- as we were leaving, we were taking the escalator down, and suddenly it stopped! That was very disconcerting. I almost fell. They were very apologetic, but I just thought it was funny at the time.

We went back to our hotel after that. We were both pretty tired! It was after midnight.

  Sunday 12/25/16

Merry Christmas!

Today it was a record high for Christmas Day of 80 degrees! Wow! It was also super windy - 20 miles per hour winds!

We had reservations at a place called Pyramid. It was in the Fairmont Hotel.  It was one of the few I could find online that was having a Christmas meal, near our hotel.  It was not a buffet; it was a prix fixe lunch. It was not that great. I mean, not terrible, just disappointing (especially given the price). I chose the endive salad and the chicken main dish.  First of all, the endive salad came with a lot of that prickly lettuce I hate. They call it frisée, but I didn't know (until just now) that it's a type of endive as well. It had a good dressing, and some dates...I ate as much of it as I could stand.

The chicken was ok but a bit dry.  The sauce and accompanying veggies were very good.  They had a delicious dessert buffet, but I couldn't eat most of it. I did try these tiny crème brûlée, and a little bit of eggnog cheesecake. Both were outstanding. I really wish I could have eaten the gingerbread pudding or the chocolate peppermint cake. They looked yummy.  We also had some mimosas.  The waiter was a bit inept when it came to asking the chef for us about nuts and gluten. He meant well, but he seemed to be a little over his head.

Santa came by and said hi, and we took a photo together.  That was fun. There were many great Christmas trees and other decorations up in the hotel, so I took a lot of pics. I went into the gift shop, too, but it wasn't very interesting.  David called his mom and one sister. After that, we stopped again at the Westin briefly. We should have just stayed there! But it's a lot more expensive per night. Our room at the Crowne Plaza was about $80 per night; the Westin is more like $250!

I worked on my site while David napped. I tried to nap a little, but I wasn't tired enough.

Later on, we went over to the Old Monk again. The hotel shuttle driver took us over for free, so that was nice.  David had read the sign on the door that said they're open at 6, but he was off by 2 hours.  Nothing else around it was open, either. We walked a few blocks to the Denny's. It had a long line, and they said there was a 15-20 minute wait. I guess a lot of people go there for a cheap Christmas dinner.  They were short-handed, too, so that's the main reason it was taking so long.  It didn't seem like too long of a wait. However, once they seated us, we waited an hour to get our food. Good thing we were in no hurry and had to wait for the other place to open, anyway.  They had several elderly people working there, including our server, so I'm sure that didn't help.

After that, we went to The Old Monk. They had the A/C on, so it was very cold to me. Also, I was really getting tired. David hadn't eaten much at Denny's because he wanted to eat there. I had my dinner at Denny's, so I just sat there with my hot chocolate and watched him eat.  None of the other places we went to, besides the hockey game, had hot chocolate! Only this one. Weird!  We got a cab back to our hotel and I went to sleep very early, about 9. I was exhausted. Too much fun! :)

Oh, once again they didn't make up our room while we were gone, even though I specifically stopped at the desk and asked them to have it made up.  I had to stop there again later to ask for more towels and Kleenex. Well, I guess that explains the low price...

I hope you all had a nice holiday! I guess this is my last Chronicle of 2016. I guess we're all glad that this year is ending.

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