2/19/18 Chronicles

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I've been very busy, so I didn't do a good job of writing in the blog during February! I just finished the previous week's blog, but then a lot happened.

  Monday 2/12

Brandy on bedIt was very cold all day.

I went to my classes as usual. When I came back, I waited for Dell tech support to call. They took a long time to call, so I decided to go walk the dog and asked them to call back in another half an hour, which they did.

I've been having a weird problem for months with the sound on my computer, but I was too busy to call Dell. I tried emailing them, but they couldn't figure it out that way, so I set up the call instead. Now I can't reproduce the problem, of course!  The tech support guy updated my sound drivers and hopefully the problem won't come back.

Later on, our friend Ira called me, and we had a nice chat. We made plans to have lunch on Wednesday after we arrive in San Diego.

I wanted to finish putting the Christmas decorations away, but I just ran out of time and energy. I had to get the rest of the house ready for tomorrow because Yolanda was coming to clean it. I should have done more of putting the decorations away over the weekend, but I put it off.  I stayed up way too late, and then my back was spasming from all that I did.  See, I'm not supposed to bend over, or lean, or reach up, or reach down, or lift anything. It's kind of hard to put all of the decorations away without doing those things. If I weren't doing it all in one day, though, it probably would have been better.

I also had to make sure the laundry was done, and I got everything together for our trip.

  Tuesday 2/13

I had trouble getting to sleep because of the back spasms, so I had to take extra medication. I was still in a lot of pain, and I only got a few hours' sleep. I canceled Yolanda and decided to stay home instead of go to school. I hated to do it, though, since I'm missing the rest of the week.  Also, we were supposed to have someone over next Monday for dinner, so it was a bad idea not to clean the house first.

I got up, finally, around 1pm.  It turned out to be a good thing, though, that I stayed home, because I was also very sick from gluten again. I have no idea what it was, but it might have been the Mexican food or BBQ from the weekend. It was very painful.

I felt somewhat better after that.  David came home and took Brandy to the vet to beshrimp spinach salad kenneled while we're out of town. I spent the rest of the day getting packed, and ready for our trip.  David came home around 4, and then we packed the car. I was still not feeling that great and was still pretty tired.

We drove to Texarkana in the pouring rain and stayed at the Rodeway Inn (that sounds like a country song!). It's cheap but not too bad. It's a motel and fairly clean.  We went to dinner at the Hooter's next door. He likes their wings, and I love the spinach salad with blackened shrimp. It's really delicious, with carmelized walnuts and blue cheese crumbles. I was looking at their gluten free menu, on their website, and it was a little bit confusing. However, after I asked the waitress about it, the owner /manager came over and assured me that it is gluten free, so that made me feel better.  It's one of the best salads I've had, anywhere, and I'm not even usually a shrimp fan.

I can't test anything because I ran out of my NIMA gluten sensor capsules.  I was really hoping that the new ones I ordered would have come before our trip, but that didn't happen. Fortunately, almost all of the places we went to eat, on our trip, were gluten free, or had gluten free items marked on their menu, or they were very knowledgeable about gluten. I didn't get sick all week! That was a nice change.

I brought plenty of snacks and water on our trip. After dinner, we went back to the room and David went to sleep. I stayed up to write my paper for my Wednesday class. I wasn't very tired, anyway, since I had slept so late.

  Wednesday, 2/14

Happy Valentine's Day!

We got up at 4 am and left really early in the morning, which is why we spent theplanes night... We left around 6:45 in the morning. Too early! The flight was uneventful and short.  We changed planes in Dallas and had breakfast there. We didn't have much time, so we just grabbed a salad and a sandwich at Chili's To-Go area.  The girl selling them wasn't sure if the salad dressing was gluten free or not, and the other people there told her it wasn't. Yet, when I went on their website, it said all their dressings were gluten 3 Billboardsfree.  I don't like dry salad, and I didn't have anything to eat, so I took a chance. That turned out to be OK because I didn't get sick from it. I slept for part of the trip to San Diego, and then I watched a movie. They had a great selection of movies and shows. I was tempted to watch "Thor: Ragnorok," which I haven't seen yet, but the screen is just too small.  So instead, I opted to watch "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which is nominated for an Oscar and sounded interesting. It was very good, but we landed, and I still had 40 minutes left to watch. San Diego

We stayed down in the Gaslamp the first night, at the Gaslamp Plaza Suites. We've stayed there many times before. You never know what kind of room you're going to get there. You can get a super small room where there's barely room to walk (like a cruise ship cabin) or you can get aroom huge suite. We got a pretty big room, somewhat of a suite. It had an outer area with a nice desk, a couch, a coffee table, a web bar area with a fridge, and a little table for eating, and a TV. Then a separate bedroom area with another TV and the bathroom. It was great.

We were supposed to meet our friend Ira at The Field forThe Field lunch, but he didn't show up. He was driving down, and his knee was hurting, so he had to go back.  The Field is pretty good and has food I can eat, thankfully. I had their corned beef, without cabbage. The corned beef was so-so, but it had a good sauce, and the fries were great.

fancy cakeAfter that, we walked over to this French bakery I'd found online called Le Parfait Paris. It's right there on G street.  I really wanted some kind of Valentine's Day treat.  They had macarons, my favorite cookie/pastry in the whole world!  They are delicious and, when made correctly, should be gluten free! But some places don't make them gluten free.  Anyway, they had MANY flavors, and they wereView from our room of Osetra outstanding. They had a really delicious pastry as well, so I had a few treats to buy that were yummy.

I had a nap, and then later, we went to Osetra, our favorite restaurant in downtown San Diego. It's right across from the hotel we were staying in.  We've been going there for years. They used to be kind of a sushi place, but now they're steak and seafood. They had a special Valentine's Day dinner, so we had that.  It was really delicious as always.  It was a very nice Valentine's Day meal. We shared a good bottle of wine. There was a great salad, and then a small filet, and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. I didn't need more sugar! But it was great. And then we got a glass of Champagne at the end.my rose

After that, we walked around and went to various places.us at The Field again We stopped at TGIFriday's and a man came up to sell us some flowers, so I got a rose. A little while later, we went to karaoke at this place we'd never been before called The Double Deuce. I sang 2 songs. It was mostly younger people there, but they were a nice crowd and enjoyed my songs (they sang along). I always sing "Valentine" by Martina McBride (on Valentine's Day), and I also did "Kiss me" by Sixpence None the Richer -  It seemed like an appropriate song. That was a fun place, and we'll need to go back sometime.

karaoke at the Double DeuceThis trip is really to see David's mom, who's turning 90 tomorrow, so we didn't make a ton of plans to see other people, and we didn't set up a whole karaoke night or anything. We were downtown and found this place. It was a great Valentine's Day, that's for sure! We stopped at 7-11 on the way back to our room.

This was our 41st Valentine's Day! Yep, we're old...our first one was in 1978, right after we started dating.  It's our 36th married one. I did not get any card or bears this year, but that's OK...at least I got a great trip, wonderful food and pastries, and a single rose. :)

After we went back to the room, I wasn't tired at all, since I'd had a nap. I wrote my other paper (I basically have two papers due every week, on Wednesday and Thursday).

  Thursday, 2/15

I can't remember what time we got up, but it was morning. I just had snacks for breakfast. I hated leaving our room because it was so nice. I would love to live in a hotel!

We took a taxi over to El Cajon. We should have taken Lyft because it would have been cheaper, and the taxi driver had trouble finding where we were going (to be fair, it was a bit hard to find).  We went to this place, San Diego Mobility Vans, to rent a van for wheelchairs, so we could take my MIL out to lunch for her birthday. It doesn't have a very big sign, and it's behind this storage place.  We took the wrong freeway, first of all (our fault), and then had to circle back. Eventually, though, we found it. It cost more to take the cab then to rent the van for the whole day! LOL! Oh, well. Next time we take Lyft.  Anyway, the guy was really nice that rented us the van, and he showed David how to use the ramp for the wheelchair, and the van itself. It didn't take too long.  We drove it over to Susan's and unpacked our stuff. 

Susan Hildbrant was visiting and was already there.  She went to high school with me and was in my SIL Eileen's class. She's one of her best friends. She's been a good friend to me online, and we were in a play together back in high school. We did "The Matchmaker," which is the play they made "Hello Dolly" from. We had the whole third act together, pretty much, so we got to know each other pretty well. She's a very nice person.  She's a family friend and lived down the street from my in-laws. Anyway, she's been visiting my MIL off and on, so she came for her birthday, too. It was nice to see her, and she hasn't aged very much. If anything, she looks way better. Very nice to see her!

the quiltSusan made a quilt for her mom. She put the squares together and then used her embroidery machine to decorate it. They have been on a lot of trips together over the years, as well as when Susan and the rest were kids, so Susan put a different trip in each square, with a little picture and the name of the trip and the year. Then, on the bottom, she put, "Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!"  Then on the back, the material is a map. It was really neat.

We all went over to the home where my MIL lives. Susan had gotten a cake at the bakery, so she brought it out, and the people there helped us light it and all that. Eileen called and helped us all sing "Happy Birthday!"   My MIL hasthe family dementia, but she's not too far gone most of the time. She generally knows where she is, who she is, and who we are. She just gets a little confused sometimes.  Also, her hearing and eyesight are not that great, so that doesn't help.  She's in a wheelchair now because of her arthritis, so she doesn't get out much, so that's why I wanted to rent the wheelchair van.  Otherwise, she only gets out to go to the doctor because Susan doesn't have a wheelchair van and can't lift her in and out of it, or put the wheelchair in her car.  So it's very sad that she's stuck there all the time.  She used to love to go out to the mall, and out to eat, etc. Even though she's got dementia, I'm sure that she misses going out, and misses her friends and all that stuff.  If she were just mentally gone all the time, that would be one thing, then she might not care...

Anyway, sorry to be depressing... We took a lot of photos, which you can see on my Instagram if you scroll back to February 15  My MIL seemed to enjoy herself and had a good time. The cake looked good. I had some of the icing.  We didn't get her a present to unwrap. We flew out there, and rented the van for her, so that was our present. I would have gotten her something, but honestly, it's hard to shop for her now. She can't own too much because the other residents will walk off with anything.  I used to get her earrings or other jewelry, or gift certificates...anyway, it's hard. We got her a sweater for Christmas, which she was wearing, so that was nice.  Susan suggested that, since she needed a sweater.  Anyway, I'm happy that the van ended up being a great idea.

We went out to Nicolosi's in San Carlos. We all like the food there. They have lots of gluten free stuff for me, too. I had some kind of veal, which came with spaghetti, and a salad. It was all delicious. I brought back the leftovers and then forgot to eat it. Oops!  At least my MIL did love it because she asked whose idea it was, so we figured out that it was my idea (not all that big of a deal, since we know she loves it there), so she told me it was a good idea and thanked me.  She can't really get involved in the conversation at a restaurant (too hard for her to hear), but she seemed to enjoy being out, and eating the food, and having the company.

After we took her back to the place, we took the wheelchair back, too. There was no point in keeping it, since we weren't going to take it out again, and there was really no good place to park it at Susan's house, except on the street.  Susan followed us over there and gave us a ride back. 

yummy GF cupcakeWe hung out briefly at her place, then we went to this gluten free bakery over in Hillcrest called Starry Lane Bakery.  They're also nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, etc. so Susan wanted to go there, as well. She's allergic to lots of things, including nuts and eggs. Susan H. went with us, for fun.  It's a really good bakery and their food doesn't taste like it's lacking at all. They have awesome cupcakes, and I got a great lemon bar there. I bought quite a few things, actually. It's definitely the best GF bakery I've ever been to.  Because it's so light and flaky, though, you can't really freeze it, and it doesn't last long.

After we got back, Susan H. had to drive back to Vista.  It was very nice to see her and hang out a bit!

Susan took us to the grocery store, I think, after that. I got some more snacks and food, and bottled water, and she also drove through a fast food place so I could get a diet soda.

charcuterieThen we had a nap. Later on, we went to Hooley's, a Mexican-Irish place in Grossmont Center. We took Lyft over there and back. They have great food. We weren't that hungry, so we just ate light. My BIL John had recommended the cheese plate, so I had that. It's actually pretty big as it turns out, but it was scrumptious. It had meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, and some peppers and other things. I wasn't too fond of some of the cheese, so I took it back for Susan. The plate usually comes with bread, which I didn't get for obvious reasons.

I wish we lived there again. It's so nice to have great restaurants and bakeries, that don't make me sick, and Lyft everywhere as well as many other options, shopping, and many friends and relatives there, karaoke etc. Ah, well. Maybe one day!

I think David went to sleep after that, and I just did work on my site.

  Friday, 2/16

me with Black Panther posterMy SIL Susan and her husband, and their friends, go to movies when they first open at this place called Hazzard Center that has morning movies. So we went to see "Black Panther" at the 9am showing. She wanted to leave early, in case there was traffic, so we left at the ungodly hour of 7:30 am. I was very tired!  It was not open yet when we got there (there was no traffic), so we went to this nearby coffee place called Intermezzo Espresso. It was kind of chilly out, so I had some hot chocolate, and I think she had tea. It was very good, and they knew about gluten. I had hoped to go to Denny's for breakfast, but it was too early, so I just had snacks before we left, for breakfast, so I could take my pills.

We met John and some of her friends there at the theater. It was really nice to hang out with Scifi fans again, especially ones close to my age. I don't get to do that very often, aside from relatives.  I didn't know most of these people, or very well, and yet it was very comfortable just standing around, waiting for the movie to start, and chatting about fan things. I knew that no matter what I said, they would not take offense or think I was weird, and they would get any references or jokes I told. I had forgotten what a nice feeling that is, to be around your own kind. I didn't even realize I missed it! I mean, I love my husband, but he's not a fan, nerd, or geek, so he doesn't get it and never will. A lot of my online friends are fans, but it's not the same as hanging out with people in real life.  It's very similar, although not quite the same, as being around people from your home town, or being in your home state (after having lived elsewhere), or hanging out with your family, being around an old friend. It's the shared experiences, references, interests, etc.  I guess that if you go to a particular church or something, it might be similar. Or if you live in a small town your whole life. I don't know how to describe it, really. I felt the same way when I went to the 2 scifi/comic conventions in Hawaii. Even though I was by myself at them, it was nice to hang out with "fellow travelers," as it were.

I just got a diet soda. I was trying not to eat too much, especially since I already had the hot chocolate, and I have plenty of snacks at home. John got a large popcorn, so I just had a little bit of that.  The movie was fabulous. There wasn't one dull or bad part. (I wasn't tempted to fall asleep!)  Everyone loved it, you could tell.  Afterwards, being the geek I am, I told John and his friends how nice it was to "be with my people."  They kind of laughed but knew what I meant. I talked to Susan about it later, and she agreed. 

A lot of people claim to be scifi fans or geeks or nerds nowadays, but to be a real one, especially those of us who grew up back before it was "cool," you had to not just be a fan of comic books, scifi, fantasy etc. but you had to have bad social skills (or be really insecure) and be bullied at some point as a child, or come from a dysfunctional family. I mean, I'm sure that studies have been done on it, but most of the real fans come from something like that. I mean, you can have terrible social skills and not be a scifi fan, and vice versa, but it's just not the same.

I'm not one of those people who worries a lot or cares what other people think, any more, because I'm older and more confident. My social skills are way better than they used to be. However, inside is still the big geek who worries every time I have to talk to non-fans about whether someone likes me or not, or whether they're going to laugh at me, etc. Sure, we all have those worries, to a certain extent, but it's just different if you're a geek.  That's why fans are defensive and talk about having to deal with "mundanes" or "muggles."  It's why so many of them are anti-sports and pro-video game, or proud of eating junk food. It's just part of being a geek. I'm not saying we're all the same, though. You do have fans who can "pass" (like my SIL) among non-fans or who like sports, even.  But inside, we're Fans with a capital F. It's not something we chose to be.  For me, it was having 3 older brothers and a mom who were geeks, as well as being in a dysfunctional family. I was totally clueless, going through school.  Sometimes, I still am.

saladAnyway, Susan and I went home, and we picked David up, and went out to lunch. I suggested Claim Jumper, so we went there. I love their salad bar, and it's been a long time since we went to it (the one in Grossmont Center; David and I went to the one in Las Vegas last year, but they didn't have any salad bar).  The waitress wasn't very good, and she wasn't really helpful when I asked about the gluten in the salads at the salad bar, but I think it was OK. I stayed away from everything that wasn't a vegetable, except for the dressing, which she assured me was gluten free.  We had a nice chat, and then we went to see my MIL one more time. They were kind of tired, so I mostly chatted with her. We took her out to the garden area, and I just talked mostly about Brandy.  She seemed to understand what I was saying, for the most part.

After that, David took a nap while I worked and watched some DVD's. Susan and John had a D&D game at their house in the other room. I spent a lot of time texting and talking to people on the phone as well, to set up other meetings. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to see my friend Mary because she was working a lot.

Us with the PopasWe found a place called Swami's in La Mesa, and we met our good friends George, Beth and their son Nick there (their daughter Coral was at a friend's house).  It was a very informal place, like a diner. They have a huge menu and many gluten free items, and they serve breakfast all day. I had a choice between pancakes and Cinnamon French toast, which is so rare. I chose the French toast, with strawberries.  Itfrench toast was pretty good.  It was great to see our friends, and Nick is always a fun kid. I think we were all pretty tired, though.  After dinner, we walked down the street a little to let Nick burn off some energy.  I was taking photos when a couple, walking by, offered to take one of all of us, so that was nice!  Then the Popas took off. We then took a Lyft to Hillcrest to this Irish pub Iracalled Oscar Wilde's.  Ira met us there, as did my brother Pat and his wife Laurie!  We had hoped my brother Stephen would come, too, but he was too tired. That's too bad, but we had a great time, anyway.  It was a lot of fun talking about our childhood and other family stuff.  We enjoyed ourselves!  Ira and David shared some nachos.

I was still hungry, and they had a great appetizer with Brussels sprouts, bacon, onions and melted cheese. They were outstanding.Laurie and Pat The best thing ever. I'm not sure if they were gluten free, though. I did ask about wheat and flour, and the waiter seemed to think they were OK, but the problem is, if they don't know specifically about gluten, then they're probably using seasonings that aren't safe. The sprouts were so good...charred, just the way I like them.

I found out that it's Chinese New Year! That was such a big deal when we lived in Hawaii. I miss all that!

  Saturday, 2/17

We had to leave in the morning to go to the airport. I hated to leave!  Susan drove us, so that was nice of her.

Old Towne marketWe were in a pretty nice terminal that we've been in before.  They have a good place there that serves Mexican food. The waitress was great and knew all about gluten. I had fish tacos. They were a little dry, but otherwise very good. There's also a great gift shop there with a lot of unique items.

Unfortunately, I got very sick in the airport from something I ate. I figure it was either something at the Claim Jumper salad bar, or those Brussels sprouts.

The flight from San Diego to Texas was fine...there was a young woman sitting by the window on our row, with a really cute little teddy bear that she obviously got as a Valentine's Day present. I wanted that bear for my collection! ;)

Batman and Harley Quinn movieI watched the rest of my movie, and it was very good. Kind of a weird ending, but not bad. The acting was great, and the characters were very complex. I also napped for a bit and then watched this Batman animated movie, "Batman and Harley Quinn."  It was kind of bizarre.... very humorous and not for children. Hopefully I can finish watching that one sometime.

American Airlines has gotten so bad. Well, most of the airlines have gone so downhill, especially in coach. No one gives out pillows and blankets any more, or free Tiginfood etc. This crew seemed really overwhelmed or something. They didn't even pass out earbuds for the movies. I had to go ask for them. In fact, the woman sitting in our row DID ask, and he never brought them. I had to go get some for both of us.  They never asked us to pay for our drinks, either, so I guess that's a good thing.

We had quite a bit of time to kill in Dallas, so we went over to the international terminal, whichairplane is really nice. It's like an upscale mall.  It had lots of nice shops. We went to this Irish pub called Tigín. I had a great salad. I would have liked to have looked at more of the shops, but I spent more time in the bathroom. :(

We flew to Texarkana; the flight was fine except bumpy when we landed. We landed really hard! Anyway, we got there at night, so we stayed at the Wyndham Garden.  They've kind of gone downhill. The people working there are not really as nice as before. They had a little area near the check-in desk with snacks and drinks, but that's closed down. I asked about getting something to drink (thinking, water) and the woman at the desk said I had to get it at the bar.  We went there, and they had a really loud, modern band.  There were a lot of younger people around. We sat on the little couch by the door, and got some drinks.  They had no bottled water, though. some band They were charging a cover, but they let us in free because I explained that we were staying at the hotel and just wanted to get a couple of drinks. We were both very tired.  When we went to our room, they had two bottled waters! So that was funny.  The desk person should have mentioned that. The a/c there doesn't go up very high and blows cool air for a long while.  There were some suspicious-looking people lurking near the elevator.  I don't think we'll be staying there again. It's gotten too rundown.  Too bad because it used to be a nice little place.

David didn't stay up too late, but I stayed up way too late, until at least 3 am.

  Sunday, 2/18

breakfastWe got up pretty early and had breakfast at the Denny's across the street, which we both enjoy. They have a great breakfast menu, and I love their gluten-free English muffins and hash browns (which are hard to find most of the time). Then we headed back home.  We only had a short time to relax.

programWe went to SAU for their version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."  It was not held in the usual part of the theater.  It was held in the back area. They had no chairs. Instead they had wooden risers with pillows on them.  We sat at the end, which meant that I had to really crane my neck to see what was happening. It was very uncomfortable for me.  They then moved the risers on our side back, to reveal more stage, but I still had to crane my neck. Between the lack of back support and having to crane my neck, I started getting a lot of pain. Also, I had been pretty sick from something I ate, before we came to the play, so I had him take me home at intermission. It's too bad because otherwise, I was really enjoying it. They did a good job. Someone told me that it's available online, but I haven't been able to find it so far. I would like to see the rest of it.  I have to say that I prefer traditional seating...

We were both pretty tired from jet lag or whatever. We took naps, and he went to bed super early. I didn't stay up very late, either.

I was invited on Facebook in 2006 by one of my site's volunteers, Kasey. I didn't use it very much at first. Back then, you had to have worked with or gone to school with any "Friend."  Then, apparently in 2009, I invited everyone in my contact list, because lately I keep getting these Facebook videos that say, "You've been friends with so-and-so for 9 years!"  So funny. A few are 10 years...The only problem is that if you miss the video and don't post it, then it's gone.  Here's a fun video that Facebook made for me about all of my friends this year. It's pretty cool.

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