Saturday, November 22, 2014

Last Call for the Fall Harvest

Started off another sunny, cold, windy morning with a couple of Christmas cartoons. Bugs Bunny's Christmas Tales is an anthology of three Chuck Jones shorts done directly for TV. The first is a condensed Christmas Carol with Yosemite Sam as Scrooge and Bugs as Nephew Fred. The second is a snow-themed Coyote/Roadrunner chase. The third has Taz in a Santa suit end up in Bugs' home on Christmas Eve.

Did a couple of Disney snow and Christmas-themed shorts next. "Once Upon a Wintertime" is a sweet featurette from one of Disney's 40s anthology movies. Two lovers and two rabbits have a scary adventure while out skating. "Santa's Workshop" and "The Night Before Christmas" tell just what Santa does before he heads out on Christmas Eve, and what happens when he arrives at the last house of his rounds. "On Ice" shows the Disney gang's ice skating and fishing fun...and how Mickey helps Donald out when his messing around with Pluto gets him into trouble. Donald has even more frozen trouble in "Donald's Snow Fight." When he ruins the Nephews' snowman, they decide that this means war! The ultimate snowball toss is on, but it may leave Donald with that sinking feeling.

Headed out to the last Collingswood Farm Market of the year around 9:30. They were very busy with people ignoring the cold long enough to buy their produce for Thanksgiving. It took me a while to find everything I wanted. More than half the booths were selling knit accessories and mosaic guitars instead of produce. There were enough booths left for me to buy grapefruit, a bag of baby spinach, cranberries for bread to bring to Mom's next week, broccoli, a small organic cauliflower (all of the non-organic cauliflower was way too big for me), and my favorite small apples.

When I got home, I switched to two winter-themed first season Sailor Moon episodes as I put everything away and got ready for work. Serena's feeling those "Ski Bunny Blues" when she finds herself competing against Raye in a skiing pageant at a major resort. The course gets a lot rougher than either imagined when it all turns out to be a Negaverse plot. And in "Ice Princess," Lita catches the eye of a handsome figure skater, which doesn't amuse his partner - or the Negaverse - one bit.

I left early for work. Today is the Acme's Thanksgiving Luncheon. They always have an enormous spread, and this year was no exception. I saw turkey with gravy, a green bean casserole, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, ham (brought by my manager Sam, which lead to lots of "Sam I Ham" jokes), meatballs, hot dogs and beans in barbecue sauce, corn, pretzels, and deviled eggs. Desserts included a big container of Lifesavers Wint-O-Mints and Hershey's mini-chocolates, two chocolate cakes, two fruit cheesecakes (blueberry and cherry), one plain cheesecake, pumpkin bread, butter thumbprint cookies with jam in the middles, chocolate chip cookies from the bakery, and my Apricot Honey Bread. I had turkey (salty but not bad), green bean casserole (delicious), mini Hershey's Special Dark bars (I love dark chocolate), the corn (pretty basic defrosted frozen corn, but I wanted a vegetable that wasn't drowning in mushroom soup), and two deviled eggs. Tried the thumbprint cookies later (crunchy with a sticky jam middle - not bad).

Work actually wasn't bad when I got in. It was on-and-off steady through about 2:30-3 PM, after which things picked up considerably. Other than I had one of those people who somehow think they can buy 150 dollars worth of groceries with a 90 dollar budget and held up the line putting it all back, there were no major problems. It was slowing down a little when I hurried out.

I called Dad earlier in the day. He said last week that Jodie is finally moving in with him. With her son and his girlfriend taking the apartment attached to Dad's house, Jodie's selling her house and getting rid of most of her furnishings and dishes. I rode over to Dad's as soon as I got home and got changed. When I arrived, he and Jodie took me a few doors down to Jodie's old house.

I ended up with a tall, slender wood hutch that Jodie's dad made himself, a "dry sink" (a counter with shelves and drawers under it intended to be used in the kitchen), a beautiful bench, some Christmas-themed dishes, and a computer chair that was Dad's. The hutch and dry sink will replace the baker's rack in my living room. The baker's rack is a cheap piece I picked up from the Ames in North Cape May shortly before they went out of business, probably about 12 years ago. The bottom of the drawer I use for silverware has been popping out for ages, and it really doesn't have the room for all of my cookbooks.

The bench will hold my AG and Disney Toddler dolls, and possibly some of the smaller stuffed animals currently on my bed. I've been looking for a bench or a chair for them at yard sales for years. It'll free up a shelf for books or smaller dolls and allow me to find another place for the AG bed besides in front of mine.

The computer chair in my bedroom is shot. Rose and Craig bought it from Wal-Mart as a homecoming present a few days after I moved here in February 2006. While it still rolls pretty well, the lining on the chair part is ripped so badly, I can't sit on it anymore. I have thick towels over the seat so I can actually sit in it. It's also too big for my current roll-top desk. Doesn't really fit around it at all.

It was sprinkling when we went to Jodie's. By the time I headed home, the rain was gone, allowing me to get back dry. When I got in, I decided to try a project. I never liked the red stained wood IKEA shelf in the music area. The one in the entertainment area next to the TV is fine. It holds my movie and animation books and acts as a stand for the DVD recorder. The one in the music area did hold my music, stage, and radio history books...but it also didn't work with records. I need more record storage. I finally moved the IKEA shelf to the entertainment area, along with the music and radio books. It'll probably be moved again when the dry sink comes, but it's ok next to the baker's rack for now. The crates that were on top of it and next to it now replace it in the music area. I like that much better. More room, less fuss.

Ran the 1957 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella while I organized, and later as I ate the last of the leftover chicken soup for dinner. This was the duo's only venture into TV musicals. Other than the fairy godmother (Edie Adams) is a bit younger than in most retellings, this is a pretty straightforward fairy tale. The title lass (Julie Andrews) wants to go to the ball and meet Prince Christopher (Jon Cypher), but her stepmother (Ilka Chase) and stepsisters (Kaye Ballard and Alice Ghostly) insist this is impossible. Maybe not so impossible, as her fairy godmother reminds her. Will all her dreams come true...or will it all end by the stroke of midnight?

The version you end up with depends on what cast you prefer, and whether or not pictorial quality is an issue. The ladies here are the winners - Andrews (coming off her long-running stint in My Fair Lady on Broadway) simply glows as Cinderella. However, this was originally a one-time-only live broadcast. It was considered lost before a kinetoscope of a technical rehearsal was found in the early 2000s, which means that the picture is less than stellar and often blurry. What's there is frequently enchanting, though, especially a vibrant "A Lovely Night."

Incidentally, if you enjoy this, there's two more TV versions (with Leslie Ann Warren in 1965 and Brandy in 1997) and a stage version that'll be on Broadway until January. No two are exactly alike. The 60s version added one more song for the Prince; the 90s one threw in a Rodgers and Hart number for the Stepmother and a song by Rodgers alone for Cinderella.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wishing For Tomorrow

Ugh. My day mostly didn't go well. First of all, I overslept. I did finish Wishing for Tomorrow, though, which I very much enjoyed. This sequel to A Little Princess focuses on the the girls who lived at Miss Minchin's school with Sara and remained behind when she left. Poor Ermengarde feels abandoned. Snooty Lavinia throws herself further into her studies, especially after a new boy whose sisters went to Oxford moves next-door. Lottie makes a friend in the new maid, no-nonsense Alice. Miss Minchin takes less and less interest in teaching anyone but Lavinia and worries that she may lose more students. Ermengarde finally learns that she may not be a princess, but she, Lavinia, and all of them have their own special qualities...ones that'll help them when disaster strikes the school.

I was getting ready to go when there was a knock on the door. It was my neighbor's son. The windows and doors were here. They were going to start installing them downstairs today. Already? I thought they weren't doing that until spring. Oh, well. At least the house will be warmer this winter and that cracked window will finally be gone.

Much to my frustration, when I got downstairs, I discovered the back tire was going flat. I just pumped it two days ago! I guess it did have a slow leak. I was hoping it didn't. I can change the front tire pretty quickly, but I usually need help with the back. At any rate, I didn't have the time to change anything. I just rode the bike to work and was almost late.

Oddly enough, work was the opposite of how it's been for the past few weeks - crazy when I came in, not too bad when I left. I must have just  hit the noon rush hour. I guess everyone was leaving early to start getting ready for Thanksgiving. Most of the afternoon was steady-to-quiet. By the time it was picking up again, I was done. My relief was late; another college kid came in for me.

I got my schedule first. For the first time in months, it's almost entirely evening work. The only time I work during the day is Sunday...which of course, means I'll miss the Eagles game. On the other hand, I have a lot more hours than the last few weeks, I'll be able to get a lot of cleaning and baking done at my apartment, and I'll get to see Collingswood's Christmas Parade in full next Saturday. And yes, I did get Thanksgiving and Black Friday off for our trip to Mom's.

I didn't have a ton of shopping to do, at any rate. It was mostly restocking the larder. I was completely out of sugar, eggs, chocolate pudding mix, and parchment paper. Replaced the cake mix I used last week. They had more of those tasty small turkey tenderloins with three dollar off manager's coupons on them - I grabbed two. Bought honey and orange juice to use for holiday recipes this week and next week. Also grabbed my annual advent calender with the cheap chocolate. It always tastes terrible, but the pictures on the front are usually cute - this year's has Santa delivering two teddy bears who are very much enjoying the ride.

I ended up walking the bike home. At least it was a nice day for it. It was cold again, probably in the mid-30s, and still windy, but sunny and cloudless as well. The sun was setting in a soft glow of pink and orange as I arrived at my apartment. I tried to fix the back wheel on the porch downstairs, or at least what I could get of it with all the new windows and doors in their boxes laying there. I just couldn't get the bolts off! I ultimately asked my next-door neighbor Richard for help with it.

I spent the rest of the night upstairs at my place. I made that yummy Apricot-Honey Bread for the Acme's Thanksgiving Luncheon tomorrow while dubbing Red Skelton's Christmas Jollies. This was an 80s collection of skits from Red's shows, mostly the ones from the 50s and early 60s if the black and white and slightly fuzzy picture were any indication. Actually, my favorite segment was one of the last ones. Red's "silent spot" was his hilarious miming of a man who has just come home from New Year's Eve with the world's most monumental hangover. He gets stuck in the window trying to get fresh air, can't find his alarm clock, and his butler has a really hard time getting him back to bed!

I switched to cartoons as I had a quick chicken soup dinner. The Berenstein Bears' Christmas Tree is the tale of how Papa Bear is determined that he and Brother and Sister will get a real, perfect tree from the wilderness, not some tree lot. What they don't realize is that other animals need home for the holidays, too. They keep picking trees that are already occupied. When they do finally get back to town, the animals whose homes they spared have a big surprise for them at their tree house.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Getting Organized

I awoke to a phone call. Yes, it was the Acme. They wanted me to come in two hours early, at noon. No problem. I was only working four hours today, and I need the extra hours. I didn't have too much planned for this morning, either.

In fact, the only thing I really had planned for today was some organizing in my bedroom. I wanted to make room for the Ever After High dolls, clear off the top of the printer (which tends to accumulate everything from receipts to old phone messages), and clear all of the printer paper out of a drawer in my desk and off the top of the crate holding oversized comic books. I recycled the receipts and moved everything else that was on top of the printer but the phone and the phone book into the drawer. The printer paper was moved to the top of the printer. Fancier paper and lined paper were switched to the shelf under the printer. The box holding my stationary went under the phone. I moved Gram Bear and Tenderheart over to the top of the comic books crate. (Tenderheart may not stay. He doesn't fit well with plump Gram and Polite Panda.) That leaves space for Cerise and Briar on the children's hardback books shelf, appropriately under the Sailor Moon dolls.

Ran March of the Toy Soldiers as I worked. This is the renamed 1934 Babes In Toyland with Laurel and Hardy as the fat and thin comic relief, this time on the right side of the law. Once again, nasty Barnaby comes between two Mother Goose lovers, here Little Bo Peep (Charlotte Henry) and Tom Piper (Felix Knight). Stan and Ollie first have to help Bo Peep and her mother, the Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe, get the mortgage on the shoe from Barnaby. Though they get into trouble for it, they do ultimately manage to get things right. After that, Barnaby outright gets Tom exiled. Bo Peep and the boys don't believe it and, after the boys prove his innocence, travel into Bogey Land to rescue him.

The Babes you go for depends on which cast you prefer and how big of a fan of Laurel and Hardy's antics you are. I honestly like them both. Though I grew up on the Disney version, I do like Laurel and Hardy, and there's much that's charming about this one, too.

The March of the Toy Soldiers DVD is filled with public domain extras culled from here, there, and everywhere. I ran a few of them as I had a quick lunch and prepared for work. At least 15 years before Rankin-Bass did their version, Paramount put out a very sweet (and somewhat more accurate to the original story) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer animated short that's been a staple in Christmas-themed public domain sets for years. Two shorts were also rather sweet. One, Christmas Toy Shop, has Santa telling all about his toys to two wide-awake youngsters. The other was a more traditional telling of The Night Before Christmas.

Though it wasn't bad when I came in, by about 2:30, we were absolutely swamped with people buying things for Thanksgiving and for relatives visiting next week. We still don't have enough help to deal with them all, either. There were long lines all day - we'd call stock people and bakers to deal with them, and then they'd go back to their section...and then we'd have to call them again when the lines would get long again. This went on all evening. I was tired and got so stressed! Thankfully, they had one of the college boys come in for me, instead of going into stocking; I originally didn't have a relief.

When I got home, I had leftovers for dinner and quickly ran a Backyardigans episode to unwind. Uniqua is a librarian in Veja, California, who loves her job more than anything. When a book goes missing, she becomes "The Masked Retriever" to bring it back to the library! Don Austin has a book he refuses to return. The Masked Retriever chases him across the California and Mexican countryside to get him to renew it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chilled November

Started out another sunny but cold day with some Backyardigans. "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve" pit elves Tasha, Uniqua, and Pablo against abominable snowcritters Austin and Tyrone, who accidentally took Santa's magic sack. If they can't get it back, Santa won't be able to give out toys for Christmas! Uniqua and Pablo run "The Big Dipper Diner," the finest hash house in deep space. Their favorite customer is a sweet little alien named Hugs. Cops Tasha and Tyrone mistake Hugs for the Blarg, a nasty little alien who shrinks everything in sight! Hugs has a surprise for everyone when she teaches all of the kids about the word "no."

My first stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library. There were baskets, baskets, and more baskets everywhere, filled with everything from beauty products to toys to food. The librarian and one of the Friends of the Oaklyn Library were preparing the baskets for the auction at the American Legion building a few doors down on Saturday. I organized DVDs and listened to the Weather Channel report about the heavy snow in the Midwest (and people think it's cold here - at least it's also sunny and cloudless), heading out after about a half-hour.

My next stop was the Haddon Township Library. I had one last video and book donation to make for this year, along with books and DVDs to return. Surprisingly, there weren't that many DVDs to put away. The children's shelves were still overloaded, but not as much as they have been. (And they need to start pulling doubles again.) I continued working on the paperback romance novels as well. The M and N titles were fine, but P, Q, and R needed work. Good thing more than half the R titles were by Nora Roberts - made it easier to organize. I read her stuff on rare occasions myself, when the emphasis is more on action than romance.

(And I didn't take anything out this week. I probably won't have the time to return them next week. I did take Cranberry Thanksgiving out of the Oaklyn Library - I bring Grandma's Cranberry Bread to Mom's house for a hostess gift.)

Made two quick stops on the way home. Dollar Tree was busy, but I just needed Thanksgiving cards. WaWa was even busier with people on their way home from work and school. I ordered The Gobbler turkey sandwich again for a very late lunch.

When I got home, I had my lunch, then made a Mint Devil's Food Cake while watching the 1961 Babes In Toyland. Mary Contrary (Annette Funicello) is set to marry Tom Piper (Tommy Sands)...but not if the wicked Barnaby (Ray Bolger) has anything to do with it! When sending his men to eliminate Tom doesn't work, he steals Mary's sheep. Mary's siblings go after them, and Tom and Mary go after the kids. They all end up in Toyland, trying to help the goofy Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his beleaguered assistant Grumio (Tommy Kirk) with the Christmas deadline. Barnaby is still on their trail, though...

Colorful and cute version of the ever-popular early 1900s operetta. Bolger in particular is having a blast playing against type - check out his "Castle In Spain" dance.

Stuck with music and fantasy as I moved to DuBarry Was a Lady. Red Skelton is Louie, a hat-check boy at a nightclub who wins a fortune. He hopes to convince beautiful singer May Daly (Lucile Ball) to love him. She really loves the club's MC and dancer (Gene Kelly), but has convinced herself that it's more practical to marry for money. When Louie accidentally takes a drugged drink, he dreams that he's the King of France, May is the scandalous title lady, and Kelly is the revolutionary she loves.  Nice if you're a fan of the cast, the World War II era, or big band music (Tommy Dorsey has a couple of extraneous numbers); ok time-waster if you ever run into it on TCM otherwise.

Oh, and I ordered myself the first dolls I'm buying in a series I've had my eye on for a while from Amazon.com. Ever After High details the adventures of the offspring of famous fairy tale and fantasy story characters. Some want to follow in their parents' footsteps and keep the stories exactly the way they've always been; others, especially villains, want to change the stories and re-write their own happy endings. I never really paid much attention to its sister line, Monster High. Those dolls always seemed too bright and campy, even for me, and I'm not into horror. Fairy tale characters who wanted to re-write their stories were something else again, and the dolls and their designs were exquisite.

It took me ages to decide, but I finally decided to start with Cerise Hood and Briar Beauty. Cerise is the mysterious daughter of Little Red Riding Hood whose back story isn't exactly the same as the original. Briar is the party girl daughter of Sleeping Beauty who is having too much fun to sleep for a 100 years. I love Cerise's different mold and her beautiful red outfit, including the famous hood, not to mention her back story. I always did like beasts. I also like Briar's outfit, and while her party-hearty persona is a little shallow, the doll itself is one of the prettiest from the first wave. (And they were both more than half-off. I couldn't resist a bargain.)

I'm really only interested in the "basic" original versions of the dolls - no fancy Thronecoming gowns or beach outfits or pajamas, please! I'm hoping to pick up the hippie daughter of Cinderella, Ashlynn, and her swain Hunter the Huntsman in their original 2-pack for Christmas. I'll probably get Madeline Hatter, the nutty, lovable daughter of the Mad Hatter, along with them. After that, I'll grab either Cedar Wood (the daughter of Pinocchio who literally can't lie) or Blondie Locks (the gossipy daughter of Goldilocks) with tax return money in February.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Against the Wind

Started out a very cold day early with Muppet Family Christmas. This 1986 special brought the characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock together for a story that had everyone visiting Fozzie's mom for Christmas. While Mrs. Bear and Doc from Fraggle Rock try to figure out where to put all these crazy critters, Kermit worries about Miss Piggy, who is stranded in a snowstorm. Very cute special with some wonderful moments...but thanks to the three different groups of Muppets being owned by different companies, not the easiest program to find intact today. Try YouTube or other online sharing sites.

Headed out around quarter after 10 to get this week's laundry load done. I had slightly more to do than last week, so it did take a little longer. It was fairly busy, too, surprisingly on a Tuesday morning. I mostly spent it watching Let's Make a Deal and The Price Is Right.

When I got home, I ran my John Denver: Christmas With the Muppets CD while putting away my laundry. This special is also hard to find today, which is a shame because the album is a classic. The opening "Twelve Days of Christmas" and closing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and Denver's "Peace Carol" and "A Baby Just Like You" are especially delightful.

As soon as I finished, I did a quick pump on my bike tires, then headed out again. I had counseling today, and I didn't want to be late and have to rush, like I did last month. I got out around quarter after 12, giving me plenty of time before my 2 PM appointment. I went across Haddon Lake Park to Cuthbert. Needless to say on such a cold day, there were only a few hearty joggers and dog walkers and the Canadian geese out with me. The wind was so heavy, it actually blew a thick branch off a tree with a resounding, noisy crack as I passed! Thankfully, the branch was on the side of the tree that overlooked the water. As the dog walker coming from my other side pointed out, you don't see that every day.

That bridge that was out through most of last year had finally been repaired....all two wide rectangles of it. I can't believe it took over a year to repair a bridge that was barely longer than the driveway for the front apartment at my house. I did cut across it, then found a parking lot that went under the PATCO railway. I rode up to the Westmont PATCO station, then turned and rode up to Haddon Avenue.

The Westmont Family Diner is in a small shopping center right across from the PATCO. It was the perfect place for a quick lunch. They were busy, but I did get a booth pretty fast. They were a nice little place, with honey-colored wooden walls and booths. I had a delicious zucchini, sausage, and cheese omelet, whole wheat toast, and some of the tastiest home fries I've had outside my stepdad's. The hot chocolate was messy and probably came from a mix, but at least it was warm.

After I left, I rode up Haddon Avenue to Haddonfield. Since I arrived a half-hour early for counseling, I took a brief look at the Happy Hippo Toy Store before moving onto Mrs. Stahl's office. Even with the side trip, I was still 15 minutes early.

We mostly discussed my Thanksgiving and Christmas plans and what I hope to do after the holidays. I want to use my February tax money for a couple of online writing courses. I just can't seem to finish my solo creative writing projects. I do fine in my journal and blog and with Lauren, but on my own, I start things, then never continue them. And I still have no idea of what to do with my talents. I really would like to get some ideas from this. Everything I've tried up to now either hasn't worked or fell by the wayside or I was just too scared to do it.

She pretty much just said "enjoy the holidays and keep those classes in mind." That shouldn't be too much of a problem. I love the holidays. The family aspects of Christmas in particular do get me a little down at times. I'm the only person in my family with no kids or significant other. I sometimes feel left out, especially at parties. Otherwise, I'm a big fan of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and always have been. I love the shopping and the wrapping and the baking and the decorating and the warm, cozy feeling the holidays bring.

(And this was my last counseling session of 2014. December is crazy enough without taking a day off to hike up to Haddonfield. My next session is in mid-January.)

When I got out, though, I was feeling pretty darn good. I got to counseling without rushing or hysterics, and despite the 33-degree chill, it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, and if the wind was blowing, hey, it felt more like the holidays.

I made two brief stops on Haddon Avenue. One was to check out a new used book and CD store that had just opened. I didn't buy anything, but there were some interesting items, mostly related to movies and art; I'll look again in January. The other was at Jersey, an expensive but tasty little coffee shop. I really needed to use their bathroom, but I also took advantage of the warm room with the fireplace and the heavy dark furniture to rest and sip a chai latte and nibble at a sweet roll with cream cheese glaze.

I took the same way I came under the PATCO rails and across the bridge to Cuthbert. I had to make a really quick stop at the Westmont Acme. I was out of toilet paper, and I needed grapefruit, too. They also had bags of Emerald glazed pecans and cinnamon-coated mixed nuts for the holidays that I hadn't seen at the Audubon Acme. I went with the cinnamon bag. I love anything with cinnamon and sugar.

This time, I went straight home, cutting across Newton River Park again. When I finally got in, I went right in the bath, listening to one of my Christmas oldies collections. Ahhhh. That felt really nice. I haven't had a bath in ages. I looked over Christmas craft books and a Wilton Christmas cake book from the 70s to get ideas for my holiday baking and just relaxed.

Ran two Rankin-Bass animated specials as I made salmon in lemon sauce with leftover broccoli and the last of the Cranberry Flummery for dinner. Cricket On the Hearth is a real oddity from the late 60s, from the slightly psychedelic animation. Roddy McDowell narrates as the title character, who brings together a blind girl (Marlo Thomas) with her sweetheart, whom she believed lost at sea (Ed Ames). This Dickens story is rather strange, even for Rankin-Bass. The girl goes blind from the shock of her beloved sailor, and the cricket is nearly killed by a crow and his lackeys...who are killed by a nasty sea captain off-screen. Little kids might not get a lot of this one, despite the cute cricket - try it on older kids who think they've seen everything (especially if they have a romantic vein).

Finished out the night with Frosty the Snowman. The original 1969 cartoon is one of the simpler Rankin-Bass tales. Frosty (Jackie Vernon) is brought to life by a magic hat that was tossed away by a phony magician (Billy DeWolfe). When the magician sees that it really can do magic, he wants it back...to the point of following Frosty, his rabbit, and a little girl named Karen to the North Pole when they try to find Frosty a home. This is one of the most famous of all Rankin-Bass specials and is required viewing, especially for families with younger kids.

Oh, and sigh. A fond farewell to Arthur Rankin Jr., who passed away today. Christmas, Easter, and stop-motion animation wouldn't be the same without him and his partner's animation studio.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Enchantment In the Rain

It was pouring when I got up this morning. I ended up spending it eating breakfast, making Norsk Apple Muffins, and watching holiday programming. My favorite traditional version of The Nutcracker is the American Ballet Theater version from 1978. Clara (Gerry Kirkland) receives a special present from her godfather - a toy nutcracker doll. She dreams that the doll comes to life, fights a wicked Mouse King, and turns into a prince (Mikhail Baryshnikov) who takes her to the Land of Sweets. 

Switched to a Thanksgiving special as I ate leftovers for lunch. Molly's Pilgrim is an Oscar-winning short subject from 1985. Molly and her family just came to the US from Russia, and she's having a hard time fitting in. Her clothing looks old-fashioned compared to the other girls, she speaks English with an accent, and her lunch is real food, rather than just sandwiches. She's looking forward to the assignment to make a pilgrim girl, until her mother makes the doll look more like a Russian girl. Molly and her classmates finally learn how the Pilgrims really came up with the idea of a harvest feast...and that it takes all kinds of pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving.

Moved back to Christmas as I got ready for work. The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas takes us to Beartown, where curious Ted E. Bear wants to know all about this peculiar time of the year. He's teased by the other bears and shunned by authority figures who think he's crazy or just plain stupid for fighting instinct. He's determined to find Christmas at any cost. A toy store brings him close, but it's a plump old man in a red suit who finally shows him the real meaning of the holiday.

Dad ended up driving me to and from work. It poured on and off all day. Work was quiet when I arrived. It was on and off too, mostly because we're still short on help. Otherwise, there were no major problems. My relief arrived just in time for me to hurry out to Dad.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Blues In the Day

I awoke to dark skies and blustery but slightly warmer temperatures. Ran A Broadway Christmas while making Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast. I found this CD at the ARC thrift shop in Rio Grande a few months before I moved in late fall 2005 and have loved it ever since. Favorites include the lovely "Christmas Eve" which was cut from She Loves Me, the gentle "Christmas Gifts" from a stage musical version of It's a Wonderful Life, the touching "I Thank You For Your Love" from something called The Mummer's Play, and the previously unpublished Irving Berlin number "The Happy New Year's Blues." Of the better-known songs, I love the 80s-pop-ish version of "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises Promises (which is a lot more fun than the slower one on the cast album!) and a really nice take on "Hard Candy Christmas."

I wish I'd stayed with the Christmas music. Work was crazy again almost the entire afternoon, and for the same reason - still not enough help, especially managers. Most people took it pretty well, but some were still in bad moods. Two women put back their entire order they discovered that not only did that free turkey coupon end Thursday, but the coupon was required - and it only came in the mail. You had to spend 100 dollars AND use the coupon. It didn't just come off if you spent 100 dollars. They were only buying the order to get the turkey. That makes no sense whatsoever. You buy the order because you need food. The turkey is supposed to be a nice bonus.

It was so busy, the guy who was working self-checkout had to go in for me, and I barely got out on time. I went home, changed into regular pants (I was already wearing my Eagles jersey for work), wrote off my rent check really fast for Miss Willa and Richard, delivered it to their mailbox, and headed back out. Dad was having a late football party for the big Packers-Eagles game.

It was a lot busier than the last time I made it to a football party. In addition to Jodie, Dad, Vanessa, and Mark (Mark is a big Packers fan), several neighbors were there, along with Jodie's son's girlfriend Dana and their cocker spaniel Helio. Khai was playing in the yard with Helio and Dana when I arrived. My sister Rose came later - she was making a grocery store run. (I saw Dana at the Acme earlier as well, along with Jessa and Joe.)

There was tons of food. Jodie's birthday was yesterday, so we got to have the leftovers from her party. When I came in, there were meatballs and sausage, two kinds of pasta salad, cole slaw, water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, tasty little cream puffs, apple cake with raspberry frosting, and the last of Jodie's chocolate birthday cake. Jodie pulled out baked ziti and stuffed mushrooms a bit later.

I wish the game was as nice as the company. The Eagles played terrible today. I don't know what got into Mark Sanchez. He had four interceptions, and that was the least of his troubles. The Packers finally flattened them 53-20.

I went home just as the halftime show was ending, around 6:30. I was full, Rose and Khai were about to leave as well, and I was tired of listening to Dad complain about the game. I rode home in a steady but fairly light shower. When I got in, I met Miss Willa at her door before going to my place. I was able to give her the rent, and I signed a few more papers for her.

I also confirmed some holiday plans with Rose. Yes, we're still going down to Mom's for Thanksgiving, probably around 10 again. No, she's not having the Christmas party. It's just too much with her current workload as a novice lawyer. Dad and Jodie will have Christmas breakfast at their house. I may just spend the rest of the day at my apartment, watching movies - it worked pretty well last year.