Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fall Trip to Deptford

I spent the morning of the first of my two days off sleeping until 9:30. When I got up, I finished Watership Down, then wrote in my journal. There was already noise downstairs, even as I got dressed. When I came home last night, I discovered that wooden columns had been added to the sides of the stairs to my apartment for more support. They were already out there finishing them as I moved to Cranapple Muffins and an apple for breakfast and watched two TV show episodes with spooky themes.

Laverne and Shirley go looking for a couch in a creepy old manor in the second season episode "Haunted House." Their guy buddies Lenny and Squiggy join them...until they and the man from the city who was selling the couch disappear! Now they have to figure out how to get out and what's making that noise, before they're the next ones to vanish.

The Monkees also dealt with a supposedly haunted house in the first season episode "Monkee See, Monkee Die." They inherit the organ from a deceased millionaire, but don't expect to find themselves spending the night in his spooky old home, with relatives disappearing and Davy falling for the niece who inherits the house. It's Davy who finally come up with the solution when they discover who's been behind the mystery.

It was past 12:30 when I finally made it to the laundromat. It was dead as could be when I arrived. While the washer was running, it was just me and The Young and the Restless. By the time more people were using the washers, my load was in the drier.

I quickly put everything away when I got in, then went right back out again. I wanted to pick up the 2:40 bus to Deptford. There wouldn't be another one until 4! At least it was a nice day for a bike ride. Far from the rain we were supposed to have today, it was sunny and bright, with barely any wind. I made it to Barrington with enough time to spare to grab a slice of pizza and a Coke Zero for a late lunch.

I wanted to keep my Deptford errands short this time. Hit Target right when I got in. They were even quieter than the laundromat. I mainly needed underwear. Their selection is far better than Wal Mart's (and they usually have most of theirs in stock).

Though I explored their toys and stationary, the other reason I was there was to take a look at their seasonal section. Target always has a great seasonal section. They have things that no one else has...like Maple Brown Sugar Pillsbury Cake Mix and Maple Bacon Betty Crocker Cookie Mix. I also picked up Jet Marshmallow Pumpkin Spice Mallows, which look like a seasonal variation on those flavored and shaped marshmallows Jet did a few years ago. I really miss those. Didn't find any DVDs this time, though, not even random Halloween cartoons. Grabbed lemon extract as well - it's cheaper at Target.

(Oh, and Matt and all Dinosaur Dracula regulars, yes, I did see this year's retro Monster Cereal boxes, including those for the fruit snacks. Yes, the masks on the back are cool. No, I didn't buy them. I still don't eat cereal with marshmallows or fruit snacks.)

It was such a nice day, I decided to take a short walk. Not to the Deptford Mall; I just did a mall last week. I had a 20% off coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond, so I headed across the street to the newly rebuilt shopping center across from the Deptford Mall.

I took a look at the Christmas Tree Shoppe first. The place was ENORMOUS. It was sort of a cross between Michaels' and Bed Bath & Beyond. Both BB&B and Christmas Tree Shoppe had huge food sections, filled with fancy imported and gourmet items. The Christmas Tree Shoppe had elaborate Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations in addition to actual Christmas things. I didn't get anything at the Christmas Tree Shoppe. I used my coupon on a new long rectangular cake pan from Bed Bath & Beyond. It was a beautiful nonstick Wilton Advance that had a heavy plastic lid with a handle. The sale was $14.99; the coupon brought it down to $11.99.

I picked up the bus home in front of the empty building that used to be Bally's Gym. Had no problem either way, despite taking the trip home during rush hour. When I got back into Barrington, I unlocked my bike and road straight home, mostly taking the back roads to avoid the traffic.

After I got home, I put everything away, then made the Maple Bacon Cookies while watching more horror-oriented TV show episodes. "The Boy Who Left Home to Learn About the Shivers" is one of the lesser-known stories covered by Fairie Tale Theatre. The boy in question is Marvin (Peter MacNichol), an innocent peasant who has never felt scared in his life. His father throws him out, and he heads to Transylvania in an attempt to learn about fear. A king (Christopher Lee) offers him his greatest treasure if he can spend three nights in a haunted castle. He accepts...but nothing, not the sorcerer's powers or the ghosts or the ghouls who want to go bowling...seems to really scare him. Nothing except maybe his love for the inkeeper's pretty daughter (Dana Barron).

Alton Brown finds himself in an equally frightening pie shop in "Oh My, Meat Pie," a Good Eats spoof of Sweeney Todd. Alton (or his great-great-grandfather) shows the makers of "the worst meat pies in London" how to make the perfect Shepard's and Mincemeat Pie. They keep avoiding his questions as to what meat they're bringing him, though....

Oh, and work on the porch proper has commenced. The railings around the side of the porch that's sagging have been removed, and that side is now taped off. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cold Monday

My apartment was freezing when I awoke this morning! I didn't really want to get out of bed, but I had late morning work. I warmed up with oatmeal and Cranberry Flummery while watching the Bowery Boys. They're Trouble Makers when they witness a murder in a high-rise hotel via telescope, but no one believes them, not even their cop buddy Gabe. After meeting the deceased's daughter in the morgue, she gets them jobs as belhops so they can continue their investigation.

Work was actually pretty boring for at least five of the seven hours I worked today. In fact, I spent a lot of the early afternoon doing returns. It did start to pick up during rush hour...to the point where I had a line down the aisle by 6:30 and no relief. The manager originally wanted me to just close. I would have been there forever! She finally sent in one of the college boys who stocks shelves.

When I got home, I had leftover broccoli and the last of the hamburger pie for dinner while watching more Toy Story shorts. When Barbie and Ken's "Hawaiian Vacation" is cut short by a blizzard, the rest of their friends try to create a tropical resort for them right in their human Bonnie's room.

A trip to a local fast food restaurant results in Bonnie accidentally leaving Buzz in the playground in "Small Fry." She takes home the Happy Meal version of Buzz instead. This mini-Buzz was originally a display toy and desperately wants to be played with. While the real Buzz finds himself in a support group of discarded Happy Meal toys, the others try to figure out how to get mini-Buzz to tell them where big Buzz is.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dress Up Dolls

Started an early morning at work. We weren't too busy at 8 AM. I spent the first hour doing returns. It did pick up later in the morning. Thankfully, by the time it was getting crazy, I was done. My relief was right on time, and I headed out.

I was tired when I got home. I'm not used to working that early on a Sunday! I spent a half-hour or so resting and reading Watership Down. I'm about two-thirds of the way through the classic stories of rabbits first fleeing their original warren before its destruction, then retrieving does for their new warren from one run like a totalitarian state. It's not the easiest read in the world (the rabbits have their own language and stories), but it's a surprisingly absorbing tale for a survival story about rabbits in the English countryside.

When I finished the current chapter, I changed the American Girl dolls into Halloween costumes. This is the one time of year I'll let the historical dolls get away with wearing non-historical costumes. Whitney looks adorable in AG's Flapper Costume from 2005. Josefina is a lovely fairy princess in AG's very first ballet costume from 1995, based around the Sugar Plum Fairy. Felicity tries the 50s in a hand-made poodle skirt, petticoat, and blouse from eBay and Molly's saddle shoes. Samantha is a lovely little AG mermaid in the Sparkling Mermaid outfit from 1998. Molly wishes she were in Hawaii in the hula skirt, lei, kukui nut necklace, and pineapple-shaped ukelele from the 2007 Island Hula Outfit with her Hula Costume red sweater and meet skirt. (The skirt and leis that went with her original costume aren't in great shape and are too fragile for her to wear.) Jessa represents her Chinese heritage in Ivy's Chinese New Year Dress.

I listened to random football games all afternoon, then switched to records during dinner. Ran the 1966 Broadway cast album for I Do! I Do! while eating my Cranberry Pancakes. This charming, rather slight comedy-drama is, simply, the tale of Michael and Agnes, a typical married couple. We see all the ups and downs of their marriage. from the wedding to the arrival of the children, from his affair to her depression after their daughter's marriage. What makes it work is a charming score (including the hit "My Cup Runneth Over") and the performances of two theatrical powerhouses, Mary Martin and Robert Preston. Preston actually won a Tony as Michael. A must if you're a fan of either of the stars.

Oh, and since the Eagles are off this week, my main interest football-wise was in the Giants-Cowboys game. Darn it, the Cowpokes won again, pushing off the Giants 31-21. Mom's Redskins had an easier time, just squeaking past the wayward Tennessee Titans 19-17.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cast Your Fate to the Wind

Thank goodness after the rain we've had the last two weekends, I awoke to sunshine and blustery blue skies. Listened to the American Top 40 as I prepared for my Saturday errand run. I was 8 years old in mid-October 1987, when this episode debuted. It wasn't a happy time in my life. I was constantly tormented at school, my body was just starting to change in ways I didn't understand and wasn't ready for, and my parents were having major marital problems. The music I heard on the radio was one of the only constants in my life then. Hits from the fall of that year included "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake, "Commotion" by Madonna, "I Heard a Rumor" by Bananarama, "Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac, "Who Will You Run To?" by Heart, "Paper On Fire" by John (Cougar) Melloncamp, "Bad" by Michael Jackson, "U Got the Look" by Prince and Sheena Easton, and two remakes of 60s numbers, "I Think I'm Alone Now" by Tiffany and a live version of "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol.

Pop stars Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam had their second #1 hit of the year that week, "Lost In Emotion."

I headed out as soon as the show ended. I made a few quick stops in Oaklyn to look at yard sales, but found nothing interesting. My trip to the Collingswood Farm Market was also short. I didn't really need much today. The Farm Market is on it's last month. Corn and tomatoes are gone, and with them went the booth in the very front of the Market that sells corn out of a truck bed. They were replaced by the yarn booth with live alpacas in a pen. All I needed were cranberries, apples, and broccoli.

I went straight home after that. I put my Farm Market finds away, grabbed the pumpkin bread I made last night, and rode to the Acme. I was off, but there was an Oktoberfest party in the back room. I promised I'd bring bread a month ago, long before I got this week's schedule. There was plenty of food there, but I mostly just nibbled on small things like deviled eggs. It was too early for lunch. I bought contact lens cases (which I forgot yesterday) and moved on.

I took the back way out of the mall, past America's Best and Golden Corral and onto the side road with the baseball park and into Audubon. Audubon and Haddon Heights were having their fall town-wide yard sales this week. I spent the next two and a half hours riding around both towns, dodging traffic and checking out sales.

My finds were small, but interesting. I picked up the book Sesame Street Unpaved (with lots of details on the various characters and the backstage doings) from a family with two little girls. (Gave them a dollar - they wanted 25 cents, but I was out of quarters and the book is a hardback in really nice condition.)

The nostalgia factor was high at another Audubon sale. I found the second-to-last Donna Parker story, Mystery At Arawack, along with three videos I loved during my childhood - the 1949 version of Little Women with June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor, the Leslie Ann Warren Rogers' and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer.

By 1:30, I was tired of hiking up and down the hilly streets of Haddon Heights, and many yard sales were starting to close down anyway. It was time to head to Simply Soups for lunch. It was very quiet, allowing me to read my new book and give me a chance to think as I ate my corn bread, Diet Coke, and creamy turkey-pumpkin-rice soup for lunch.

After I quick stop at WaWa, I headed home. Went right in the bathtub as soon as I got in and put everything away. That felt absolutely wonderful after all the running around the last few days. I listened to George Winston's Cast Your Fate to the Wind CD (recordings of Vince Guaraldi music, including music from Peanuts specials) and read The Woman's Comfort Book.

I spent the rest of the evening baking, cooking, and watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf friends have many adventures on their way to Smaug's treasure cabin, from hiding in the home of a man who can change into a bear to a none-too-pleasant encounter with giant spiders to a run-in with the elves, who aren't terribly happy to have them there. Even after they arrive at the town near the lake, trouble - in the form of orcs and nasty local bueracrats - follows. When Bilbo finally goes nose-to-scaly-nose with Smaug, he learns that the beast is more terrifying than anything he could imagine...and that he plans on destruction on a massive scale.

Just as beautifully done as the first one. Basically, if you enjoyed the original, you'll probably love this, too...but catch the original film first to have a better understanding of what's going on.

Toy Story of Terror was Pixar's Halloween special last year. When the toys stay at a creepy hotel, each of them seem to disappear mysteriously. Jessie is the last one left. When she's captured too, she and the others discover a plot to sell them off. Jessie will have to rescue Woody from being sent away...if she can get over being trapped in a box...

Basically a shorter rehash of Toy Story 2, but enjoyable enough for what it is. Combat Carl (and his mini version) is especially funny. It doesn't have much to do with Halloween, but it's still worth a peek if you or your kids love Toy Story or are looking for something new to watch at Halloween.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Not-So-Little Mermaid

Started off a gorgeous, sunny morning with two cinnamon scones from the Acme and applesauce for breakfast and two spooky episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures. "The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain" spoofs the popular B horror movies of the 70s and 80s (they even have a mock American International logo in the beginning) and the popularity of horror hostess Elvira in the late 80s-early 90s. "The Return of the Acme Acres Zone" gets seriously weird with a spoof of Blade Runner, Plucky and Hampton being spooked by a ghost in a haunted hotel, and Plucky and Duck Dodgers' attempt to stop Marvin the Martian and his protege Marsha from using their machine to suck up the universe.

Work was actually pretty quiet up until rush hour, much quieter than it has been in months. It was so quiet, I spent a good two hours on and off doing returns. It did pick up by about 2:30. Thankfully, it slowed down enough by 4:30 that I was able to get off without a relief.

Which was a good thing, since I had my own shopping to do. The Acme just restored it's cheap dollar items section in the first aisle you see right after the bakery/deli. The food was a little too cheap for my liking, but I did buy a bottle of bubble bath liquid. I needed chicken, but there were really no good sales...except for on Purdue ground chicken, which is $2.99. I bought two and a container of chicken sausage that had a manager's coupon. Restocked jam (Smuckers finally developed a spread without high fructose corn syrup, which was on sale), tomato sauce (Hunt's was on sale), light mayo, milk, buttermilk, and canned pumpkin. Bigelow's Spiced Chai tea was on clearance. I love chai (as long as it's not too spicy). Grabbed an avocado, which is part of the big "buck a bag" produce dollar sale. The fire alarm in my bedroom started beeping oddly this morning - it just needed a new 9-Volt battery.

I'm not happy with my schedule next week at all. First of all, I work at 8 AM on Sunday. Why? The Eagles aren't even playing this week! (This is their week off.) Second, I have fewer hours than I have. Third, there's a seven-hour day on Monday. They do make up for this somewhat with three days off, including next Saturday...but I'd really rather have a consistent schedule I can count on.

I dodged rush hour traffic across the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center to get to America's Best and pick up my contacts. Thankfully, they were quiet as can be. I was in and out, avoiding more heavy traffic on the Black Horse Pike going south. (They probably all decided to hit the shore the moment the weather looked like it was going to stay nice.)

I spent the rest of the evening at home, making pumpkin bread for the Acme's Oktoberfest party tomorrow (I won't be there, but I did promise it a while ago - I'll just drop it off at the store) and leftovers for dinner while watching Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid. Mr. Peabody (William Powell) is in the midst of a mid-life crisis. He and his wife (Irene Hervey) have rented a villa on a Pacific island for his health, but she keeps reminding him that he'll be 50 soon. He's not feeling terribly youthful...until he nets a genuine mermaid (Ann Blyth) during a fishing trip and brings her home. His wife says put her back, but he's already fallen for her girlish charms and keeps her in the fish pond in the villa. Half the island thinks he's crazy, and it just looks worse when his wife gets jealous and finally disappears. Now he has to decide what kind of woman he really wants...one who is real, or one who is fantasy.

This very peculiar romantic fantasy-comedy came out in the late 40s, when Hollywood was experimenting with similar romantic fantasies like Portrait of Jennie and The Enchanted Cottage. Ann Blyth is a very pretty mermaid; Powell has a lot of fun as the stuffy businessman who falls for a a woman who seems totally devoted to him. Fred Clark is especially funny as a local who befriends Peabody and keeps telling him about all the bad medical advice he's getting from  his girlfriend's brother. Oddly charming; if you like the premise, this was released by made-to-order company Olive Films. (The Haddon Township Library has a couple of their movies for rent.)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Library Adventures

It was still cloudy and a little humid outside when I got up this morning, but it looked like the rain was long gone. Since it still felt a little spooky, I ran the Winnie the Pooh Halloween special Boo To You, Too! as I ate breakfast. Everyone in the 100 Acre Woods is gearing up for a spooky Halloween filled with tricks and treats...except Piglet. Halloween almost literally scares him silly. Pooh suggests they have a "Hallo-wasn't" and go without costumes in deference to Piglet. No one is happy with that...but after Piglet disappears, they discover that the scariest part of Halloween is worrying about their little porcine pal.

Switched to two 30s Popeye shorts as I prepared a package to be sent in the mail. "Shiver Me Timbers" has the stranded Olive, Popeye, and Wimpy picked up by a boat that's filled with ghosts! The trio have to get rid of them in order to drive the boat home. Popeye notices that "You Gotta Be a Football Hero" to get Olive's attention when she'd rather be cheering Bluto's team. He becomes his own one-man team to prove spinach can fortify the kind of heroics Nick Foles can only dream of.

I had a lot to do today, starting with a stop at the Oaklyn Post Office. My best friend Lauren's birthday is on Monday. Instead of gifts, she requested that I send cookies for her birthday this year. I'm always talking about my baked treats when we chat! Thankfully, the post office was empty and the lady at the desk was really sweet. I paid for regular shipping and headed out.

The clouds were slowly starting to break up as I rode across Newton Lake Park to Westmont. It was getting warmer, too. The trees are finally starting to turn colors here. I dodged dog walkers and joggers out enjoying the nice day.

The Haddon Township Library was the quietest I'd seen it in months when I arrived. I got in at quarter of noon. Everyone must have gone to lunch. There weren't many DVDs to shelve, but I did still organize the children's titles. (Which are still overloaded with the 800 Scooby Doo and Sesame Street collections they won't get rid of.) I had far less to do with the adult titles and the CDs. I did take out four items to watch this week - the shorts collection Toy Story of Terror, the new collection for Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot The Care-a-Thon Games, and the movies Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

I dodged the lunch hour traffic, stopping at WaWa on my way home to pick up money from an ATM machine and buy a chilled cappuccino. When I got home, I put the DVDs aside, grabbed my backpack and a vinyl tote bag along with my money, and went right back out again. I locked my bike at Oaklyn's City Hall, then waited for the bus to the Voorhees Town Center. It was a few minutes late, nothing horrible. The bus was a bit full, but there was no traffic whatsoever.

I got off at the Voorhees Town Center. Though I was there mainly for the Voorhees Library Book Sale, I wanted to eat lunch first. Despite it being past 2:30, I wasn't really all that hungry. I finally went with Juicinator, who sold juices, sandwiches, and salads made with healthy ingredients for a reasonable price. I had a Caprese Wrap - fresh mozzerella, basil literally pulled right off the plant, tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar on a whole-wheat wrap with sliced vegetables and pickles and a strawberry-banana fruit shake. It was tasty and very filling.

The Voorhees Library is directly across from the entrance to the Voorhees Town Center's food court. The Voorhees Library hosts the Camden County Library System's big spring and fall book sale. I actually did quite well there, even better than when Lauren and I went in June. Picked up two fiction hardbacks (the historical epic Dreamland by Kevin Baker and one of Carol Higgins' Clark's more recent stories, Gypped), one non-fiction hardback (The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin), a Backyardigans DVD (Escape from the Tower), and five videos, The Music Man, Down Argentine Way, The Pajama Game, The Corsican Brothers, and Red Skelton's Christmas Jollies, likely a collection of Christmas episodes from his show.

I took another hour or so in Macy's and Boscov's. Boscov's was busy. Macy's wasn't. Boscov's was having some really big sales. I bought a WebKinz Rooster for $2.99 and a new winter purse - a bright red faux leather "mini" purse with a long strap and lots of pockets - for $19.99.

I missed the first bus home. Did catch the second one, which once again, was only slightly late. I also missed the traffic, which was mostly going in the other direction. It was getting dark by the time the bus pulled up in front of the dentist's office across from 7-11 in Oaklyn. I went across the street, got my bike, and headed home. At least by this point, the weather was gorgeous, sunny, windy, and far less humid and warm.

When I got home, I put everything away, then had leftover hamburger pie and roasted Brussels sprouts while watching the Care Bears. Funshine Bear and and one of their kid friends just want to have fun at his home in "Compassion-NOT." They learn a big lesson in work before play when Grumpy gets stuck, and it takes their help to get him out. Cheer Bear helps Funshine beat Grumpy in the Care-a-Thon Games. Funshine is so boastful about his win, he becomes "Shunshine" when the others get annoyed with his big head. One of the kids learns to be brave in the dark during a "Care Campout" when she and the Bears are all out camping near a local resort and the lights go out.

Oh, and meet Brian the Rooster! I spent most of tonight setting him up in his own farm-themed room. He comes with a cute barn-shaped clock that rings reveals a mini-rooster whenever your pet touches it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Wrath of the Vulcan

Started out another cloudy, humid, warm morning with breakfast as I finished Spooks Run Wild. I swept the porch after breakfast. It wasn't as bad as it was over the weekend, but it was supposed to rain later in the day. I actually wanted the porch to be able to dry. (I suspect the rain collecting under debris under the porch may have contributed somewhat to the sagging.)

Ran some seasonal Max & Ruby as I got ready for work. In "Max's Halloween," Ruby is going trick-or-treating as Cinderella. She's determined that Max should be her prince. Max has something scarier in mind - a vampire! "Ruby's Leaf Collection" is just about finished. Now she just has to keep Max from burying it in his leaf pile! Max wants Ruby to read "The Blue Tarantula" to him before bedtime...but this scary story may end up keeping both bunnies awake!

It started to sprinkle as I rode to work, but it mostly just remained cloudy and humid. Work was quiet for most of the day, a bit surprising given how busy it's been. I guess the weather scared everyone off. It's the middle of the month and the middle of the week as well. It did start to pick up around rush hour. My relief was a little late, but nothing too horrible. I got out as quickly as I could.

Several of my customers mentioned that it had poured earlier. The wet streets bore this out when I finished work. Thankfully, it was just damp when I headed home. It remained so as I made cookies for my best friend Lauren's birthday on Monday and finally got to Star Trek Into Darkness.

This time, Wrath of Khan gets the reboot treatment. After a mission goes wrong, Kirk (Christopher Pine) is removed from the captain's seat of the Enterprise, thanks to Spock's (Zachary Quinto) truthful but not flattering account of events. Kirk desperately wants back on that ship. He gets his chance when the Starfleet Academy is blown to bits by a terrorist (Benedict Cumbersnach) with his own agenda. Kirk and his crew are sent to capture this terrorist without upsetting the touchy Klingons, with whom Starfleet has almost been at war with for years. When they do get the terrorist, he reveals whom he is, and Kirk begins to question just who is telling the truth, and how they'll get home when the warp drive on the Enterprise is damaged. When Kirk takes it on himself to fix the warp drive, Spock goes after the terrorist himself...and proves you don't need logic to figure out the ways of friendship and loyalty.

I did like this one a little better than the first. The characterizations are appropriately deeper, and the plot is more interesting and easier to follow. It's still pretty complicated for non-Trekkies and those who aren't sci-fi fans. If you love science fiction and are willing to try something different in your Treks, this is overlong but otherwise worth a watch.

It started pouring about half-way through the movie, as I was making leftover bean and vegetable soup for dinner. It's rained cats and dogs off and on for the rest of the night, including at press time. Thankfully, it's supposed to subside by early morning, well before I start off on all I want to get done tomorrow.