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11/4/02-Mon.-As usual for recent weeks, we have continued to have a great deal of moisture falling lately, receiving an additional several inches of rain in the past few days. The pitter patter of precipitation has been a regular background sound since the prior entry. Our mushrooms are growing still more mushrooms! Not like in the Victoria area of Australia, where, I understand, the drought conditions have become so bad that one popular politician is suggesting people reduce water usage by showering together. Hmm!

This past Friday, after my lap swimming at the Y, was mainly taken up with dealing with a plumber, as in the 11/1/01 entry of Investor's Journal. (By the way, the lifeguard for the Y pool fell sound asleep while on duty, not unusual for him. What was amusing was that he was caught by one of the other employees. The latter kept making noise, but the guard slumbered right on through it, oblivious of his colleague's efforts to arouse him or of the swimmers under his care. Finally he was jostled awake, and they had a little talk. Lifeguards are hard to get and poorly paid, so his job is probably not in jeopardy. But I did find it of interest that a lady was on duty, instead, this morning.)

Saturday, we prepared and mailed the claim to the city for reimbursement of the plumbing costs.

On Sunday we did a quite detailed review of our finances, with welcome results. We also watched "Bridge on the River Kwai" while Frances received her long massage. Following stimulating bedroom aerobics, we got to sleep a little late.

Today I did the weekly shopping while Frances, with admirable organization, completed the dishes chore, put out the trash, and prepared the requests for reprints of the pictures we'd taken during Mom's 80th birthday anniversary weekend. Later we dropped those off at a nearby drugstore photo shop.

A celebration seemed in order, if for no other reasons than that we'd confirmed good news about our budget and put the reprints and plumbing tasks behind us. So we went to Bombay Grill for a delicious lunch today.

Fran is busy daily now practicing with flute and/or clarinet, getting herself back in shape after the summer hiatus from much playing. The opera rehearsal and production season begins soon.

Pepper is holding up alright, all things considered. She appears to respond well to the latest antibiotics for bladder stone and infection difficulties.

For me, the most interesting thing at the moment, outside our immediate household, is the election tomorrow. I think the most Democrats or Independents, with concerns over civil liberties, fiscal responsibility, and statesmanlike relations with other nations, may expect or hope for is that the status quo prevail.

The Democrats have no chance for taking over both houses of Congress. Nor will either party gain sufficient control to prevent filibusters, and so be able to put together sweeping new legislation. I'd feel a lot more comfortable if our foreign policy and militaristic posturing were similarly restrained.

But the Republicans, even if by only a slim margin, have a chance to regain control of the Senate, along with the House of Representatives. As in his tax cut, which may have helped assure the elimination of federal surpluses, Bush has shown he can leverage a small lead in Congress into furtherance of policies that may provide short-term popularity but have long-term consequences. I am most sanguine when both major parties are prevented from being all they can be. In my view, that is ultimately best for our country as well as for business, and hence investors.

We surely are appreciating the cooler temperatures we have had of late, Pepper especially!

11/6/02-Wed.-Went to a new appointment with the foot specialist this morning, had the prescription shoe inserts fitted, and tried them out. They seem uncomfortable relative to the athletic footwear I've been using lately. After wearing them only a couple hours, my left heel and instep feel bruised and burning. The doctor wants me to keep them on almost continuously till the next appointment, in two weeks, to give them a good test. Hope I can still walk by then!

Last night Fran and I had a new disappointment. Our house completely lost water pressure. On investigating, we discovered a major leak, apparently from where the plumber had been working last week. We tried to use the shut-off valve, but it had no effect. The pipe to it had apparently burst. The flood was gushing up and overflowing into both the yard and the street. I called the plumbing company and left messages at its hotline and pager numbers, but, all night, there was no return of the calls.

I also contacted the city's twenty-four hour dispatcher, in hope of at least getting the water shut off at their cut-off. The man answering said they'd send someone to check it out. But, by morning, the water was still pouring out unchecked, and nobody had been out. Through the wee hours, I kept thinking I was hearing the sounds of the utility truck and workers at last arriving to remedy the crisis. Each time I would swiftly dress and go out, only to find things just as before, except with a larger lake having accumulated.

Also disconcerting have been the latest national election results, which clearly were hugely in George W. Bush's favor.

Fran was rather upset last evening by the plumbing situation, so I gave her a massage and then suggested we go on to bed. There was nothing else we could do about the ongoing leak, and we would surely need the sleep by today.

After we'd turned in, though, I could not snooze myself. I finally got up again and, to stop negative obsessing, played around a little on the computer.

Meanwhile, I've discovered a small, ugly clot or aneurysm in my mouth, next to the lips. Another one, benign, was removed by my dermatologist two or three years ago.

I really have to hand it to George W. Bush and the Republicans! Though, as a liberal-leaning Independent, I differ with them vehemently on many issues, it is clear that in the just concluded election they had their act as together as the Democrats and their leadership proved to be unfocused and incompetent in theirs.

The Republican triumph was sweeping, offering Bush a mid-term mandate greater than any U.S. president has had at least since Reagan, in 1982. Indeed, given that the American Right now arguably dominates the three federal government branches, one could go back all the way to 1952, a half-century ago, when Eisenhower swept the Democrats out and Republicans into control of both the White House and Congress, while also enjoying a conservative judiciary, to find a comparable victory. It is truly stunning when one considers that the electorate was virtually equally divided on most key issues and political allegiances at the campaign's height.

The question now is: how will Bush use his increased power? Up to this point, he has gotten away with blaming a number of things on Democratic obstructionism, even though, in fact, that party's record as a loyal opposition is poor. Democrats ultimately went along with Bush on tax cuts, much of the war on terrorism, and even the proposed new attack on Iraq, while offering no viable alternatives of their own for significant domestic concerns.

In my view, the Democrats' go-along, play it safe, and just passively resistant approach is one of the reasons they were soundly defeated yesterday. If so, it is poetic and ironic justice.

Bush definitely holds the reins on the day after the election. A second term is in the bag if he plays his cards right, and is his alone to lose if he does not.

Many will have high expectations of a so successful George W. Bush administration, not least his big-spending, negative advertising colleagues on the far right.

Yet many others may not find common ground with his confrontational, cowboy style of politics. There is the potential, for instance, for a level of activism and civil unrest rivaling that in the 1960s. And for a crackdown on organizing and dissent not seen since the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The current administration is already playing fast and loose with individual rights. Who can doubt that, if there is another major terrorist attack in our country, Bush, supported by both Congress and the courts, will exact a heavier toll on the bell of liberty?

The political situation is reminiscent of the theatre of the absurd play, "Rhinoceros," by Eugene Ionesco.

Yet maybe I'm being too dramatic and pessimistic. Although his record there was based only on leadership among already conservative politicians of both parties, Bush's gubernatorial history as a consensus builder in Texas is often touted by his friends.

Now that he is more firmly in charge, let's give him the benefit of the doubt for a couple years and see how he performs as the leader of the free world, in building meaningful agreements at home and abroad. If he is as successful at this as he has been in the 2002 election, he will deserve a second term and much credit in the history books.

But if he turns out to still be as divisive, cavalier about human rights, and unilateralist as he proved during his first two years, he will not merit reelection, and God help us if the electorate nonetheless gives him four more years.

I am at least optimistic that owning market bargains will still eventually lead to meaningful profits, even as, in other areas, troubling developments are occurring.

On a brighter note, last night, well before discovering the latest water problem, Fran, Matt, and Glenda, besides their excellent conversation and companionship, treated me to a delicious dinner at Macaroni Grill. We all had a good time.

Later.-The plumber finally came. The job was finished on Fran's watch, a few minutes before I got back from a quick Trudy's breakfast and the new doctor appointment. Everything seems in good working order again, and at no extra cost, if we do not count stress, lost sleep, and many tons of wasted water.

11/10/02-Sun.-The fickle central Texas fall weather has dramatically changed again. Now we enjoy sunny, blue skies and a high of about 90° F. At night it still gets down into the 50s and 40s.

Fran, Pepper, and I all slept till late today, well after 9:00, luxuriating in the extra rest, though the mutt got fed and briefly let out before 7 AM.

We have decided to go ahead with surgery on the dog for her bladder stone, if the vet does not think it will be too risky. With some foreboding, we understand there are no guarantees, given her advanced liver cancer, and that these could be her last days. We expect to take her in this week for an exam and to likely schedule the operation, and hope to get it over with as soon as possible thereafter.

Fran had earlier wanted us to avoid it or at least put it off awhile, fearing it would be too hard on Pepper. But, without it, she also has the untreated bladder stone and an ongoing infection, requiring harsh antibiotic medicine, all of which is bad for her too. There are no easy choices here. If the procedure goes successfully, we hope the vet will also be able to tell from the stone or stones what kind of treatment is appropriate to prevent their recurrence.

Assuming the canine is not terribly affected by her upcoming trauma, we expect to be doing a lot of visiting and some traveling over the next six weeks or so, going to Waco for a few days' visit with my mom, and some of my other relatives, over both Thanksgiving and Christmas, visiting here in about two weeks with Mary, whose son, Jim, with a friend, will be competing in Austin for a national dance contest, after they have already done well in CA, CT, OK, and TX previously. Over the first week of December, we hope to spend a few vacationing days on the Texas coast, in and around Galveston. And, the week after that, we plan to be heading for Fort Worth and a couple days' stay with my brother, Allen (whose Ecuadorian wife, Nina, still has not been allowed to immigrate to our country), likely taking in the zoo and/or a museum or two while we're there.

Yesterday afternoon, we got together with Ron and his partner, Claudia, plus her daughter, Sharon, and son-in-law, Mark, and Ron's daughters, Esther and Jane, three affectionate dogs, and a horse, at Claudia's semi-rural place. Claudia had fixed a delectable chicken entrée, which we had along with noodles, scrumptious, seasoned mushroom and cream cheese gravy, salad, and deserts. There were also delicious juices and hot, thick coffee. I used the occasion as an excuse to go off my decaf. regimen and greatly appreciated a cup of java. We had good, interesting, and/or amusing chats and also played some games. Claudia had fixed her place up neatly with antique decorations on the walls and floors, and used fancy plates and silverware from a bygone era as well. The dining room set had cute country images.

Fran is busy now, starting yesterday and through most of the rest of the month, with the first opera of the new season of rehearsals and performances. The current Austin Lyric Opera production is "La Traviata." If Pepper is doing OK by then and the timing works out, with respect to our visiting plans, I'll probably go to a dress rehearsal in about ten days.

Last night I viewed the video of "U-571." If one can suspend much of one's reality testing and sense of history, this is an entertaining film. However, I agree completely with the linked review. The U.S., with much fictionalized fanfare, is here taking a rather amusing amount of credit for naval and intelligence coups solely by the Polish and British, early in World War Two. Our part in capturing an Enigma code machine came quite late in the war, after most of its usefulness was past. With patriotic fervor, the film makes it appear natural that our side can win the day in battles against huge odds and under terribly complicated circumstances. It is a propaganda vehicle, glorifying combat for our side at the expense of truth and whomever is our presently chosen "evil" enemy. The painting of good guys (us) vs. bad guys (the Germans) is arrogant and simplistic.

Both in its popularity among the clueless (my last state supervisor thinking it was great, for instance) and its distortion of the facts, the movie's deficits remind me of the way the current Bush administration enjoys remarkable appeal and successfully masks several real but inconvenient issues.

I note that Bush, with a reputation for being quite the life of the party in his youth, had a DWI incident and stopped drinking afterward, to avoid further limiting his life with alcoholic addiction. (I can relate to that!) He is rumored to have also done some "experimenting" with hard drugs, but neatly dodged that question in his presidential campaign. His propensity for things addictive seems not to have gone away but to have been channeled in a new direction. Now he seems drunk on power. That he is affable, sincere, and believes fully in the stands he takes does not lessen but accentuates the danger.

11/11/02-Mon.- After two or three intervening appointments for Pepper since she was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer, and still no positive urinalysis findings about what kind of bladder stone she has (and hence just how to treat it without surgery), we have been treating her just with Dicural 45.4 mg, on which she has had no more "accidents," though she still licks herself in the genital area, indicating natural discomfort or irritation in the bladder region. She shows no definite symptoms of liver disease yet and is overall a happy, even an energetic, dog, but is easily tremulous, as when something unfamiliar happens, much more so than ever before. She also seems more insecure, as if she knows something is wrong but does not know what. Thus, she now tends to sleep in the bed with Frances and me at night, hopping over from her usual slumber place, a special padded chair, right after we turn out the lights. Previously she would only do this during loud thunderstorms or when there were New Year's or Independence Day fireworks going off in the neighborhood.

I had the impression, from the last couple times I'd seen our primary veterinarian, that he thought maybe we should go ahead with a biopsy and/or surgical removal of the bladder stone, rather than just not knowing precisely what type liver condition she has and continuing to give her antibiotics for the bladder problem. So, after discussing it with Fran, we decided to proceed with bladder surgery (not the biopsy, as the less procedures the better, and we felt we do not have to know just what kind of cancer or other liver disease she has, or how quickly it might affect her, if it means another risky operation), so long as the doctor who'd be doing the surgery, who is in practice with our primary vet, thought it was best, despite the extra risks caused by her liver malady.

So, I called and spoke with him today. But he was emphatic that even just forty-five minutes under general anesthesia might very well kill her, and said the bladder surgery could take up to an hour and a half. So, he'd recommend we just continue her on conservative care and healthy habits, in terms of exercise, diet, etc. (A urinalysis now and then is also suggested, in case it gives better info. with which to fight the bladder stone disease.)

I certainly agree, once he had put it like that. Fran and I are both quite relieved, now that this decision has been made, as we were wanting to do the right thing but afraid she might not survive bladder surgery.

Mixed with our relief, though, is the sobering knowledge of how fragile her health has become. What with a deeply broken jaw tooth, a dew claw caught on something and torn half off, very painful if moved even slightly, nails torn loose at the quick, etc., Pepper, who has always led an active life, has been in surgery and under general anesthesia several times before, including as recently as a little more than a year ago, with no real problems. Now those days of "routine" operations for various emergencies are over for her.

I had a good swim at the Y today. Meditation was also worthwhile.

11/17/02-Sun.-Fran and I were alarmed to learn today that the U.S. House of Representatives has just passed a bill, expected to easily get approval in the Senate as well, that will put (convicted felon, but "exonerated" on a technicality) Admiral John Poindexter in charge of a massively invasive program to collect essentially all possible information of any kind on our citizens.

Once it has been gathered and organized we shall each be at the mercy of the intentions of the politicians and bureaucrats with easy access to it. When we look at the records of Richard Nixon and of J. Edgar Hoover, each of whom, to serve his political ends, used a much smaller fund of personal info. on us, at the expense of rights, laws, and liberties, it seems stunningly irresponsible and naive to put this much extra power at the disposal of those who have already proven themselves less than honorable.

If you destroy our freedoms, you destroy what truly makes our country great. The terrorists must be very proud to have been the catalysts for this sweeping overreaction, reminiscent of what way too many white blood cells, trying to protect us from alien infection, can do to a human body.

Unfortunately, the "war on terrorism" is still in its early stages. It will take perhaps only one more major terrorist attack on our country for us to give up vastly more civil liberties. I fear we have seen our nation's best years. With the likes of George W. Bush and John Poindexter in control of our "defense" (like putting the foxes in charge of the hen house) and thousands of terrorists intent on bringing us down, the future is looking rather bleak.

In a short while even comments as innocuous as the above may be considered treasonously subversive. And those who can hire the best hackers or grease the right palms, whether insurance companies, prospective employers, or personal enemies, may have access to any incriminating information they wish on any of us.

It is taking us an extra few decades to get there, but we are heading into our own technologically sophisticated version of 1984, and into our Twenty-First Century Brave New World.

Frances and I today completed and put online the latest issue of "Wagnerian Express."

Our weather continues to be gorgeous. I went for a short walk this morning. Later, however, I've been having some new foot pain. While I was taking a slow pace, Fran and Pepper went on a longer, more brisk route and had the excitement of finding and chasing a small herd of deer.

Fran's been quite busy with yard work recently but has injured her right hand in the process.

I've done some groundcover and seed planting in an area where the grass had died.

While giving Frances her massage today, I started watching "An American Rhapsody," not a monumental flick but serious and stirring. I'd recommend it.

Am considering possibly volunteer work for the ACLU and/or activities with Austin's Meditation Center.

Last night Frances and I went for seafood dinners, which were indeed delicious. I have a whole meal of leftovers waiting now in the refrigerator.

The meditation continues, as does the swimming at the Y. I'm very much enjoying the still cool, sunny weather. And, physically, I seem to be gradually in better shape than has been true for awhile, though some nuisance problems persist.

11/19/02-Tues.-We were lucky early this morning, taking advantage of one of the perks of retirement, getting up in the middle of our sleep time on a weeknight to check out the Leonids Meteor Shower. At first there was a lot of cloud cover, so we went back to bed. But I awoke about an hour later, just before five AM, went out, lay on a mound of leaves, looked up, and began to see the meteors. So I rushed in and got Fran up too. We shared the leaf pile and watched for about forty-five minutes just from our backyard. Despite some clouds still obscuring part of the sky, trees cutting off more of our view, and the moon terribly bright on one side, I saw nearly thirty shooting stars and Fran, with her younger eyes, almost forty, some of the meteors quite bright, with long trails. It was quite exciting, the best such show we've had in many years.

Afterward we went for walks, had breakfast, and did miscellaneous tasks till exhausted (about 8 AM!), then took naps and slept till after 11:00.

Tonight there was a bright full moon. We watched for a predicted Penumbral Lunar Eclipse this evening, but saw no changes. Apparently it is only visible from parts of the U.S.

Frances has been sprucing up the place in anticipation of my sister-in-law, Mary's, arrival for a short visit, starting Friday evening. Her son, Jim, will be in town too, with his partner, for a dance competition.

The meditation was pleasant today.

11/20/02-Wed.-Reading an interesting article on relativity in "Natural History," from the November, 2002, issue: "And Then There Was Light."

This morning I had my latest podiatry appointment. Don't feel it resolved anything. Still think the expensive orthotic inserts for my shoes are an imperfect fit, with frequent pain at the left heel. But the doctor thinks this due to the plantar fasciitis rather than the inserts, though the pain had essentially resolved, with use of taping and commercially available inserts (at a fraction of the cost) and athletic shoes, before I put in the prescribed inserts, only returning after they were being used instead.

The doc conceded, though, the left orthotic could be tilted on its axis too far toward the outside of the foot. So, he taped the foot again, to help deal with the fasciitis and glued some folds of gauze under the left heel, to test this hypothesis. I'm to see him again on 12/5. Well, "Rome was not built in a day."

In an e-mail this morning, my mom gossips that my brother, Pete's, latest girlfriend, Ruth, "is history." No details. Meanwhile, my sister, Alice, lets us know that, with Ed's unemployment for the last several months, another victim of the worldwide telecom sector crash, they don't know how they're going to keep making the $9000+ a month mortgage payments on their (way overpriced) millionaire mansion (actually appraised last year at $3,000,000, though the same place in our area would have gone for $500,000, at the very most). Alice herself is just doing a little part-time French teaching. This may provide a couple hundred dollars a month, likely a liberal estimate. She has no intention of working at a regular job.

It gives me little, if any, satisfaction to be able to say "I told you so," as Pete's instability in relationships persists or my sister and brother-in-law's extravagance leads to struggle, now that the bubbles that supported their inflated lifestyle have begun to burst.

I had hoped that, against the odds, Pete could manage, with middle-age, to acquire more maturity and settle down in a permanent involvement with Ruth.

I'd wished (and still do) as well that Ed could pull yet another of many rabbits out of a hat, to restore the super income he's enjoyed, both from work and multiple refinanced loans on their place (to take advantage of lower rates and mushrooming San Jose area home equity), and give them a chance to do the more prudent thing, sell their place, while they can still do so with some profit, and purchase a residence more within their means.

But in such judgments I am proving myself true to type. It is said there are few so self-righteous as those who are themselves reformed former abusers. And certainly I was, in my youth, quite immature and imprudent.

We are all but human in our failings. Even now I am surely not immune to impractical or childish impulses. I can empathize with, if not approve of, Pete's starting over and over again, whether with jobs, residences, or relationships. I can see some of my own recent reactions and earlier regretted foolishness in Ed's recently sobbing with Alice over their diminished options, complaining that the only full-time work he might get soon is as a mall Santa Claus, a job unlikely to pay even one-tenth of their needed monthly income.

We should not be complacent or feel in any way superior. Our own situation is far from completely secure. A significant period of deflation or loss in value of the dollar, unexpected military developments, a major new terrorist attack in our country, a severe illness for Fran or myself, or any number of other eventualities, could see us also in very distressed circumstances, and in a relatively short amount of time.

Today, though, we are once again enjoying gorgeous weather, with sunny skies and cool winds. Tonight I'll see "La Traviata." Appreciating the present moment is easy under the circumstances!

11/22/02-Fri.-I was quite impressed, on this 39th anniversary of JFK's death, with the National Public Radio coverage of the assassination day, including Walter Cronkite narration and relevant playing of audiotapes seldom ever heard before.

My sister-in-law, Mary, is visiting, arriving tonight about 8:00. We're having a good time catching up with one another's lives. This evening too I had a brief phone chat with her son, Jim, on the road, heading from Oklahoma City toward Austin, and using his cell phone. We exchanged slightly witty repartee. I'm hoping we have a chance to visit tomorrow.

Fran got back from the opera performance at 11:30. About an hour earlier, Mary had retired for the night to the guest room.

I went to my dentist's office for a cleaning and fluoride treatment yesterday morning. I was told things were in relatively good shape, but that I've several fractures in my teeth, that will need correction sooner or later. The hygienist's efforts left my mouth quite sore, with several acutely painful places. Oh well.

11/23/02-Sat.-Am looking forward to reading the new Bob Woodward book, Bush At War. I've seen him on TV several times in the last few days, as he hits the news and talk shows, promoting it. I'm eager to learn his insights and see a less public view of the George W. administration.

Fran's been in a bad mood most of the weekend so far. I don't think she and Mary like, or are very comfortable with, each other. Sigh.

11/24/02-Sun.-Up early, for Pepper's sake. Fran and Mary continue sleeping. We all got to bed close to 1 AM. I fed the dog, put her out, did some meditation, had a cup of decaf. coffee, and began this journal update while waiting for the others to rouse themselves.

Had a rather good time at the Lindy Hop dancing exchange last night, meeting Charlotte, Jim's partner in dance and perhaps more, and, with Mary, enjoying watching the dozens of mostly young couples, some in period attire and with their make-up and hair also in the styles of the early 20th century, dancing with flair, energy, and creativity.

After awhile there was also a demonstration by a local quartet of belly-dancers, whose moves ignited the crowd and were the most artistic yet seductive I had ever seen in this type performance.

During the latter half of the two to three hours we were there, a live group was playing Glen Miller and other big band sounds of the thirties and forties.

Earlier in the day, I had meditated for about an hour and a half, taken a short walk with Mary (while Fran and Pepper went on a fast one in deer country), gone out to eat for brunch with Mary and Frances at Bombay Grill, met Jim (over by the center where they'd later be dancing) and went with him and Mary to West Lynn Cafe for supper.

Mary, Fran, and I had also gone to an afternoon movie showing of "Spirited Away," a terrific Japanese animation movie by director Hayao Miyazaki.

A discouraging note: my left foot is still problematic. Hard to tell if there's been any improvement.

Later. This morning, Mary, Fran, and I went over to Trudy's for breakfast before my sister-in-law headed back to Houston. I'm concerned about her. She's been putting on quite a bit of weight again but not exercising, is under a lot of stress at work, has dropped out of her routines of going to Lifestream Way association meetings and meditating (activities that have apparently been vital moorings for her over the years), and at times this weekend, sometimes when she was driving and once during the night (when she'd left the hot water running unattended in the bathroom, evidently for quite a long time), she has seemed distracted enough that she forgets what she is doing.

These could be signs of depression, reactions to stress, or indications of early and still mild organic brain damage. In recent years she has also expressed some paranoid ideation. Her mother, though highly intelligent and creative before, was a victim of Alzheimer's disease. Mary greatly fears the same fate. Her mental state unfortunately is consistent with the very initial stages of the condition, but could also have an entirely different etiology.

I finished the day's meditation.

About 12:30, I drove over to Claudia and Ron's and joined in a party they were having for Jane. Esther was also there, along with eight or nine of Jane's young friends. Esther had sprained an ankle in a touch football game on Friday and was in a splint and using crutches. We had a picnic party, with grilled hotdogs, a piñata, gifts opening, looking at Claudia's horse, Arrow, playing with the canines, chatting, lighting and blowing out candles (on a delicious birthday cake), singing "Happy Birthday," and picture taking (by me and Esther). It was fun! Jane turns nine tomorrow.

Tonight was easygoing. I took the dog for a short walk, got a great massage from Fran while we watched "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and enjoyed some good public TV (PBS) viewing.

11/26/02-Tues.-Fran and I had thought we'd go to Galveston for a few days of vacation next week. It seemed a good idea when we came up with it. But we're spoiled by retirement, I suppose, and now feel that, "with everything else going on," as Fran said, it would be too enervating to try to fit that in as well.

We'll be getting back from a Thanksgiving visit with my mom next Saturday. To go to the coast and have it be worthwhile, before Fran has a small performance, on the following Thursday, December 5, we'd have to leave right away again, on Sunday. Then, on the very next Saturday, December 7, we have guests coming over. Yet, introverts that we are, we've not yet fully recovered from our most recent visitor's stay with us.

I think when we were working we might have jumped at the chance to squeeze in three or four days by the ocean. But now, it seems better and more relaxed to wait till our calendar is not otherwise so full.

Besides, my left foot is still rather painful. It may not be the best time for beachcombing hikes by the albeit beautiful sea.

I ran some errands today and, despite its being during traditional work hours, quickly encountered great crowds of others also out and about, perhaps having begun the holidays early, or maybe, like me, blessed with not having to work.

I tried to find some frames for new near vision glasses, nice looking yet inexpensive, but could locate no bargains. And a discount eyewear shop I'd used before has apparently gone out of business. So, will keep looking for a deal. Maybe tomorrow I'll have more success.

The dog is unencumbered by any concern over her fate and, all in all, is still doing great. This afternoon, for no discernable reason but in apparent ecstasy, she was rolling and thrashing around on her back in the living room, making satisfied little grunts. Each time she'd right herself and shake her hair and skin back into place, the endorphins would kick in with further jolts of happiness she felt she must express and, willy-nilly, over she went again for yet another session of joyful squirming, bringing giddy smiles as well to Frances and myself.

I think the mutt likes our cooler weather. A front has come through in the last twenty-four hours. Tonight we might get a little freeze.

11/28/02-Thurs.-Kind of a blah, anticlimactic day. Got an early start, to avoid the worst of the holiday traffic, which worked out well. We arrived at Mom's a little after 10 AM.

Visited with she and Pete, and helped set up her Christmas tree. Later we all went to Leila and Horace's and joined them and their kids, plus Leila's relatives, for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It was pleasant but not the same, for me, as the big shindigs we were used to having at Mom's.

We rented a couple videotapes on the way back to her place. Pete left for the Dallas area and a continuation tomorrow morning of the construction project with our brother, Ernie, and one of their crews.

Frances felt like some time to herself and so played on Mom's computer for awhile this evening. Mother and I read, visited, or watched television. The dog, after eating and my taking her for a walk, was content to mostly just lie around in whatever room she could find one or more of us.

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