Saturday, September 14, 2019

Rhythm of the Falling Rain

I didn't sleep that great last night. Woke up at 5:30, went to the bathroom, went back and slept until quarter of 9. Read and wrote in my journal in bed for a while. Lauren was already in the kitchen when I made my way out for breakfast. I had Honey Nut Cheerios with a pear that was a bit harder than I expected.

We finally made our way out around 10:30. The day was cool and overcast when we headed to the remains of the mostly-empty Berkshire Mall. They do have enough of a parking lot left to hold a Saturday farm market. Shortly after we pulled in, it started pouring. We sat in the car and waited until it slowed down enough to take in the remaining booths. I found some lovely Macintosh apples to have with breakfast for the rest of the week at the very first table.

Our next stop of the day was a little further down the road at one of several shopping centers about twenty minutes from Lauren's house. Her Barnes & Noble is small - no kids' toys or CDs and DVDs - but it's there, and it had a nice shelf of Star Wars books. I saw a cute new Rey and Friends spoof picture book with Rey and the sequel characters as kids being looked after by the Original Trilogy characters. It was adorable, but I ultimately went with the novelization of The Last Jedi. For some reason, the Haddon Township Library got the novelization of The Force Awakens, but not Last Jedi.

BJ's was across the street. There is a BJ's in Deptford, but not only is that too far for me to go all the time, but you need a membership to get in. Lauren has a membership. The place was HUGE, all industrial pipes and walls. Everything it sold was huge, too, from giant boxes of granola bars to widescreen TVs. We settled for large boxes of granola bars and Nature Valley peanut butter sandwich breakfast cookies and a big container of tiny cornbread loaves for Lauren's parents.

Though the rain was long gone, the clouds remained threatening as we headed down the highway towards North Adams, Lauren's hometown. On the way, we discovered a smaller store called Ocean State Job Lot. No, it doesn't sell jobs, as I quipped when we arrived. It's basically a local version of Big Lots or the Christmas Tree Shoppe, with leftover lots of slightly damaged or out-of-fashion items sold. I didn't see anything I needed, but Lauren bought a pair of comfy plaid flannel pants to lay around in.

I did much better at a huge Goodwill just a bit down the road. Found two CDs, one of which, the original cast of the Broadway musical mystery spoof A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, I've been looking around for. Also picked up the soundtrack for Cocktail, an old favorite from my childhood.

Had lunch at a little place on the highway called Perlin's Dairy Bar. As you can guess, they mainly sold ice cream, but they also had a basic lunch menu that included sandwiches, some entrees, and snacks. Lauren got a grilled cheese with bacon and a soda. I got a chicken Parmesan sandwich. We shared mozzarella sticks. Despite the chilly day and blustery wind, we enjoyed our meal outside on a bench under a wooden roof. My sandwich was sooo tasty! I loved that spaghetti sauce that tasted homemade. The mozzarella sticks were thick around, crusty on the outside and incredibly creamy on the inside.

Finally made it to North Adams around 2:30. Lauren wanted to check out the Peebles that had been there for years. To her disappointment, they seem to be shutting down. They had 40 percent off notices posted. No wonder. Mom used to love the Peebles in Rio Grande in the 90's and 2000's, but this one had nothing of interest for either of us. The little store called Label Maker across the road had better merchandise. Like Ocean State Job Lots, they sold off-price items, only in this case, it was slightly damaged or last-season clothing. I didn't see anything I needed, but Lauren found another pair of plaid flannel pajama pants.

There was a little toy shop down the street that we peered around in. It reminded me a lot of Happy Hippo Toys in Haddonfield, with a lot of the same merchandise, including Playmobil figures, Brio wooden tracks, and Mary Meyer stuffed animals. We didn't buy anything, but we had a nice time browsing.

Jack's Hot Dogs is directly across the street. This is a popular hole-in-the wall in North Adams...and it's almost literally a hole-in-the-wall. It's a sliver of metal-and-lath with a counter in a sagging building, with a tiny room of solitaire video games on one side. Even at almost 3 PM, it was also busy. People sat at the counter, enjoy fries and sandwiches. No wonder. Not only are they tasty, but they're also cheap. The two small burgers I ordered were $1.75 each. Lauren says they're wildly popular no matter what hour of the day. I'll be they're standing-room-only at meal times.

Stopped at what Lauren says is a brand-new Wal Mart on the way home. It reminds me a lot of the store in Somerdale in Camden County, with the same gorgeous view of mountains, and maybe even larger. We didn't buy anything here, but Lauren checked to see if they had several medicines her parents needed. It started raining again just as we got into the car and showered fairly hard for most of the ride home.

Mr. and Mrs. Miller were watching the Yankees-Blue Jays game when we got in. We had our Jack's burgers and hot dogs with Pepsi and Funyuns while the game continued. The Yankees wiped the floor with the Blue Jays, by the way, 13-3.

Played games for a few hours after dinner. Did a long game of Roll With It! first. That game is even more fun with four people. To my surprise, I won. I only got one 15 card, but a ton of 10's. After I took a shower, we did a couple of rounds of Uno. Mr. Miller won all three of them. He also won Sorry! Mrs. Miller came in second, followed by me, and then Lauren.

Lauren and I went downstairs after the game ended and have been chatting ever since. We're going to be a bit more relaxing on a nicer day tomorrow with mini-golf and a local flea market.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Began a gloomy morning with two American Girl books about vacations. Felicity Merriman loves visiting her grandfather's plantation for the summer. She can spend all her time outside and riding horses with her beloved grandparent. On one of those rides, she discovers a message from her father's apprentice, who ran away to join the Continental Army. Felicity Saves the Day when she warns him about rough men who were hired to find him...and convinces him to return to her father.

Josefina Montoya is also visiting her grandparents in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She's excited when a handsome young American comes to trade with her father and grandfather...but then he seemingly doesn't keep his promise and give the the things they traded for. Josefina Saves the Day, with the help of her older sister Francesca, in order to show that Senior Patrick kept his promise.

Two short stories also involved adventurous vacations. "The Grand Canyon" from the vintage Disney anthology Storybookland takes Donald and Mickey deep into the canyon on the back of burros. When Donald is thrown from his burro, Mickey and two rafters have to brave the river rapids to rescue him.

Paddington Takes to the Road when he and the Brown family is visiting a small French town where the Tour de France runs. He repairs a rusty old tricycle in order to join the race and win a prize. Trouble is, he didn't replace all the pieces on the tricycle...including the brakes...

Finished the packing after I got dressed (including the laptop), then had breakfast while watching Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City. Strawberry is off to a TV bake-off in the title metropolis...but so is the Peculiar Purple Pieman, who will do anything to win. Good thing Strawberry meets a lot of new friends in Spinach Village who help her out, including eventual series regulars Lemon Meringue and Orange Blossom.

After I ate, I made the bed, then walked around the house to make sure I didn't forget anything. Did three classic shorts on train travel and vacations while I worked. "Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip" with his beloved dog Pluto, but dogs aren't allowed on trains. Conductor Pete keeps trying to throw them off.

It's "All Abirrddd!" for Tweety and Sylvester when they're both on the same baggage car together. Sylvester thinks it's the cafe car and keeps trying to have Tweety for lunch. Spike the dog and the conductor wishes he'd just wait and have his lunch later.

"Boobs In the Woods" has Porky on a relaxing vacation in the mountains. A really daffy Daffy keeps getting on his nerves, until the normally sweet-natured pig reaches the end of his sausage rope and reveals his collection of licenses.

Jodie picked me up around 9:25. There was no trouble getting there. No traffic at that hour of the day, even in Cherry Hill. She dropped me off easily at the Cherry Hill Train Platform.

The trouble started when I bought my ticket and checked the schedule. To my shock, it said the train to Philadelphia came at 9:28! Amtrak must have been using an older schedule. Now what was I supposed to do? Jodie was long gone, and there was no way I was going to call her back and have her take me to Philly.

I finally signed in to Uber, like Rose and Jodie have been pestering me to do for months. After I figured out how to work it, I called the cheapest car they had listed. Fortunately, he was also the fastest car they had listed. He was there within three minutes of my calling him. It cost me 28 dollars, but he was a really sweet guy. He told me some great stories about doing ballroom dancing with his wife and driving people to Eagles games and concerts in Camden. He dropped me off a block from 30th Street Station in less than 20 minutes, shortly after the train was originally due to arrive.

Had trouble when I got inside, too. The new Quik-Chek machines absolutely refused to swipe my phone. I tried every machine, and none of them would do it. I finally went to one of the ticket sellers, who printed them out herself.

After all that, I needed some serious grease. Went straight to Wendy's and bought a BBQ Cheeseburger, fries, and Minute Maid Cherry Limeade. The burger was tasty, with crunchy onion rings and tons of barbecue sauce, but very messy. The fries were nice and crispy. I made a quick bathroom break after lunch before returning to the main room.

The train to Philadelphia was 20 minutes late. Good thing I had a long layover in New York anyway. Once I finally made it on the train, I had no difficulties for the rest of the trip. The train to New York was full until all the commuters got off in Trenton, after which there was plenty of room. Penn Station was busy, but no more or less than it normally is on a Friday. I spent my time there walking around, getting money for the trip from the PNC Bank ATMs, eating snacks, and reading until the train to Albany arrived (on time).

I love the train ride to Albany. The view is stunning. I got in line early enough to snag a window seat. The Lake Shore Limited lives up to its name, passing glittering rivers, bobbing sail boats, towering mountains carpeted in green pines, quaint little lighthouses, sprawling mansions and ancient factories. The train was full. I sat next to a young man who spent most of the time sleeping or reading his phone. By the time we'd pulled into Albany, the clouds had vanished, and it had become a beautiful sunny, chilly day.

The Millers met me at the Albany-Renneslauer Station. After a bathroom break, we drove past small upstate New York towns and quaint old villages. No traffic here, either. By the time I got in, the dinner hour was just starting, and most people were probably eating.

We had our dinner at Mario's Restaurant, a fancy Italian place about 15 minutes over the New York border from the Millers' home. They were busy when we arrived, but it started to clear out even as we enjoyed our crusty Italian bread, steamy popovers, and navy bean salad. By the time the Millers were eating Veal Oliver (huge slabs of breaded veal with lobster sauce and sauteed vegetables) and I was having an amazing lasagna, they'd gotten, if not empty, a little quieter. Despite the huge meals, we had enough room for dessert. Mr. Miller had creme brulee. Mrs. Miller tried the Chocolate-Raspberry Cake. Lauren loved her chocolate-coated Cherry Gelato swimming in raspberries and raspberry sauce.

My banana ice cream parfait was amazing. It was house-made banana ice cream layered with brownie cookies, chocolate fudge sauce, and hazelnuts. The fudge sauce was so chocolatey (I wouldn't be surprised if that was made in-house, too), and the cookies were soft and sweet. The Millers all enjoyed their desserts, too. Lauren raved about hers, especially that raspberry sauce.

We finally got home around 9:30. I'm downstairs in Lauren's room, chatting with her and watching the late 70's-early 80's Card Sharks on Buzzr. Considering I was too excited to sleep much last night, it's probably just as well that we're just going to be shopping and playing mini-golf in the Pittsfield area tomorrow.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

On the Way to Vacation

Kicked off a hazy morning with breakfast and Sailor Moon. "Holiday In Juuban City: A Carefree Princess" is a riff on the classic movie Roman Holiday. Usagi and Chibi-Usa encounter a lovely young lady at a festival who turns out to be a runaway princess enjoying a day without her entourage. The girls are more than happy to introduce her to the delights of Tokyo, but Mamoru knows she's not wise to the ways of the world...and is vulnerable to attack by Hawk's Eye of the Amazon Trio.

Headed to work as soon as the cartoon ended. Work was even quieter than it was yesterday. I spent most of the day outside, doing carts. It was hot and humid, but there was a breeze that felt really nice. I also gathered the outdoor trash and recycling, shelved loose items, and swept the store for the head bagger when she ended up in a register.

Grabbed a few things on the way out, mainly snacks for the train tomorrow. Found a lunch bag for two dollars in a cart to carry all that food. Picked up more ice cream, too.

Went straight home after that. Ran more Sailor Moon as I ate yogurt and pineapple for lunch, this time from the first season. "Usagi Vs. Rei: Nightmare In Dreamland" takes the Guardians to a lethal theme park that people are supposedly disappearing from. The two bicker constantly. Rei wants to focus fully on their mission, but Usagi would rather enjoy the rides. They have to work together when the robotic "princess" and her candy castle are a lot more sinister than they seem.

Usagi is on vacation with her parents and brother Shingo in "The Legendary Lake Yokai: The Bond of Usagi's Family." They're taking an overnight trip to a hot springs that Mr. and Mrs. Tuskino had gone to on their honeymoon. While goofing off in the springs with Shingo, Usagi catches sight of Mamoru on the shore. He's there to unleash a creature of legend that has great power....but he loses control of the creature and it ends up going after Usagi and her family.

Headed off to the laundromat as soon as Sailor Moon ended. I had a huge load to get done, including the summer sheets and my work clothes. Fortunately, they were quiet when I arrived, and I only saw one or two other people the whole time. I worked on story notes and half-listened to Ellen on the TV.

When I got home, I put some things away - including my work clothes and the sheets - and packed others. I was able to get everything together but the things I'll need tonight and tomorrow, like my cell phone and laptop. I'll do another once-over after I pack the laptop tomorrow.

Went into writing after I finished. Gene is tied to a microphone with electricity coursing through him. Bill and Brett try to figure out how to turn it off...but it's Joyce who finally pulls the plug. Gene is understandably angry and shaken, but is otherwise luckily fine. He leads them through a door out of the studio that returns them to the hall. Ira gives them the clue to the location of the last missing regular - Richard Dawson - before vanishing again.

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Had leftovers while watching Garfield In Hollywood. Jon enters Garfield and Odie in a televised pet talent contest. They win, and all three get stars in their eyes when they find themselves at the national championships in Hollywood. Garfield thinks this is his ticket to stardom, but Jon worries that winning may mean leaving him behind.

Tried Lego Star Wars one last time after dinner. Still no luck with that Return of the Jedi Super Story! This time, I got more than half-way through "Into the Death Star." We'll see if I pick up any games on vacation. If I do, I've had a good run with this game. 99.6 is not a bad place to end.

Finished the night with Charlotte's Web. I go into more detail on this lovely animated version of the beloved children's book at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Charlotte's Web (1973)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Isn't It Kinda Fun

Began the morning with breakfast and a first season episode of Get Smart. Max and 99 are "Aboard the Orient Express" when Max has to get a briefcase filled with payroll money to agents in the Iron Curtain. Four agents had previously tried and been killed. Max and 99 have to figure out who their contact is, and then who murdered those other agents...and how to evade him.

Thank heavens work went far better today than it has the past two Wednesdays. We were dead the entire morning. I spent the morning gathering carts and trash and cleaning the bathrooms and the afternoon shelving candy. Not only that, but I actually had help this time. A second bagger arrived at noon and took over the carts. While it was killer humid and much hotter than it has been, it was also at least sunny and breezy. No problems whatsoever.

Went straight home as soon as I was done. Changed, and then did as much packing as I could get away with. Some things need to be washed, and others can't be packed until the morning I leave. I was able to get the majority of the smaller toiletries in, some shirts and shorts, my walking sandals, and a book, coloring book, and crossword puzzle book to do on the train.

Did some writing after I'd done what I could. The group finds themselves in a dark radio station, filled with old-time microphones and sound effects equipment. Turns out it's also filled with zombies who try to attack them. Brett shoots them, but Fannie and Joyce have a better idea - drive them off with noise.

Bill and Charles see someone in the smoke-filled control room. Charlie tries to yank the door open, covering the hot knob with his hat. Brett knows another way. She unlocks it with another bobby pin from her wig.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had the leftover tacos Jodie gave me on Sunday for dinner while watching the 1962 version of State Fair. I go into more detail on this remake at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

State Fair (1962)

I was worried. My train tickets still hadn't arrived. I searched everywhere, thinking I might have mislaid them, and I upset Lauren, too. I finally called Amtrak late tonight. Turns out they were e-tickets, and not only had they gotten my e-mail wrong, but they don't sell online tickets for Cherry Hill. I have no problems buying the Transit tickets at Cherry Hill. I reordered them, and this time, they came through just fine.

And...yes, I do remember the events of September 11th, 2001. I was just beginning the first day of my last semester of Richard Stockton College then. I discuss my memories further at this entry from 2015.

Memories On a Busy Day

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dolls on Library Day

Began my day with breakfast and Tiny Toon Adventures. Plucky brings Hamton, Buster, and Babs on a tour of "Europe In 30 Minutes." The too-fast tour is a bust, until the quartet end up at Buckingham Palace and have to rescue Princess Diana and Prince Charles from a kidnapping plot.

Moved on to dressing the dolls for the start of the school year after breakfast. Samantha is in her blue windowpane check Play Dress and Pinafore, with white Springfield Collection socks and the black strap shoes from her current "meet" outfit. Whitney wears a yellow and orange floral dress with a big white ruffled collar from Queen's Treasures. Molly is in Kit's original blue School Outfit with the brown oxfords and knee-high socks. Ariel sports a pink and yellow tie-dye t-shirt with a purple flower outline, wide-legged jeans, and Springfield Collection socks and sneakers. Put Josefina in her orange and yellow Summer Dress with the fake leather vest and boots. Jessa is in her "meet" high-necked striped blouse, jean short-alls, yellow socks, and white and turquoise velcro sneakers. Left Felicity in her lavender Traveling Dress. I don't really have much to change her into.

Finished in time to have a quick lunch around 12:30. Watched a travel-themed episode of Danger Mouse as I ate. In "Danger Mouse on the Orient Express," Baron Greenback gets a piece of paper that allows him to build anywhere in Europe, DM and Penfold pursue him on the infamous train. They have to dodge the convention of criminals that's also on the train and retrieve the document when Penfold loses it.

Headed out around one. I had a few things I wanted to do today, starting with volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. Not a whole lot going on there. The library was empty except for the librarian. I organized DVDs and kids' books and moved on.

Took the long way down Newton Lake Park. It was humid, but not really that hot, and a decent breeze rustled the dry green leaves. I dodged many people on bikes or out for a stroll, and even a guy sunning himself on a bench.

Hit the Haddon Township Library next. They were a bit busier with kids just getting out of school. The DVD racks were overflowing. I couldn't begin to fit the kids' titles in, but I did manage to get al the adult discs put away. Didn't take anything out. I won't have the chance to watch or return it before vacation.

Made a few quick stops on the way home. Hit Target for travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and wipes. Picked up sponges, tissues, and cards to thank Lauren and her parents for having me from Dollar Tree. Bought a much-needed (and too sweet) Pumpkin Maple Smoothie from WaWa.

Went into writing when I got home. Bill explains over a cup of water that he saw men dragging Richard and Gene towards the studios, but it was too dark to tell which one. The group goes over the clue Ira gave them earlier. Charles finally figures out that he's referring to Gene's days as a radio announcer in the 30's and 40's. Joyce hands him the pad to write down his answer. He calls out "radio," and once again, they all vanish.

Broke for dinner at 6. Did the bizarre Dr. Seuss special Pontoffel Pock, Where are You? while I ate leftovers and a salad. Pock is a self-admitted "schnook" who just lost his job at a dill-pickle factory and wants to get away from it all. Enter a group of fairies, who give him a magical piano that can take him to any location. Pock showing off in the mountain town of Gruben upsets the citizens so much, they drive him off. He has more luck in the desert, where he falls for "eyeball dancer" Eeffa Neefa. He takes off, but loses her. Now the fairies are searching for him, trying to get their piano back, and all he wants is to return to his Eeffa.

Gave Lego Star Wars another shot after dinner. I got slightly further in "Into the Death Star," but still couldn't finish. I'll try again later this week.

Finished the night with The Muppet Movie. I go into further details on the Muppets' first feature-length film at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Muppet Movie

Monday, September 09, 2019

Sweet Apple Summer

Began morning with breakfast before I pulled out my luggage to dust it off and see what I need for my trip. My shampoo and conditioner are getting low, and so is the body wash. The wipes dried out, too, and they're especially important when I can't wash my hands right away while traveling. I also moved all the items I usually carry in my shoulder bag into my backpack. Part of the reason I bought a better backpack was so I could use it for travel. That shoulder bag is getting old, and it can be a literal pain to lug around three train stations.

After I'd gotten organized, I thought I'd try something different. I had five apples I wanted to get rid of. Mom used to make us applesauce all the time in the fall and winter. Thought I'd make my own version. I sliced the apples, then cooked them. I didn't have a sieve to press them through like Mom did, so I just pureed them in my food processor. They came out slightly chunky, but still very tasty.

Watched a train-themed episode of Moonlighting while I worked. It's "Next Stop Murder" in the first season when Agnes DiPesto wins a contest to join her favorite mystery author on a special train ride, where there will be a murder among the guests. Dave and Maddie go to see her off, but end up stranded on the train. The game takes a turn for the nasty when the mystery writer is killed off for real, and everyone on the train has a motive. Maddie, Dave, and Agnes have to figure out who did the egotistical author in, before the train comes to the station.

Made a list of everything I'll need to pack, and then had lunch while watching My Sister Eileen. I go into more details on this charming 1955 tale of two sisters in the Big Apple at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

My Sister Eileen (1955)

Headed to work shortly after the movie ended. Work was pretty simple. I did do some sweeping and returned some cold items early in the day, but I was mainly outside with the carts. It was killer humid, but it was also sunny and breezy, at least early on. By the time rush hour was starting, heavy clouds were moving in. Thankfully, they have yet to burst, but they do look ugly.

Grabbed more of those buy two, get two cough drops after work. Decided I needed more ice cream, too. Decided to have a little fun and go with Party Cake flavor.

Went straight home and on the computer. Joyce insists that she needs to use the bathroom, and Brett agrees that a bathroom break might be nice. As the girls are coming out, they hear a man screaming. It's not Charles, but eternally nervous Bill Daily, who hid in the men's bathroom when he saw Ira's goons dragging Richard and Gene around. Alas, he didn't see where he took them. The women pry him off a less-than-amused Charles and try to piece together what he heard.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers while returning to animation for Garfield In Paradise. Garfield's not thrilled with Jon's cheap trip to Paradise World, where the sleazy hotel owner spouts Jack Benny jokes. His outlook improves after they rent a gorgeous 50's sports car and take it for a cruise. That car takes a left turn into jungle satire when it lands them among natives who worship 50's culture...and whose volcano is about to go off!

Ended the night with a much-needed bath. It felt sooo good to soak in the warm bubbles while looking over old cake decorating magazines. Soft jazz played in the background. After all the running around I did at work, my legs were crying for it.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The Eagles Outrun the Redskins

I awoke to a gorgeous, warm, sunny morning. Kept breakfast simple with buttermilk whole wheat pancakes and a nectarine, which came out beautifully. Listened to the original cast album of How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying while I ate. As much as I love the movie, the original is just as much fun. Three of my favorite songs didn't make it into the film - the hilarious panic attack set to music "Coffee Break," the secretaries' lament when they all wear the same "Paris Original" to the party, and the spoof ballad "Love From a Heart of Gold" for Biggley and Hedy LaMarr.

Dusted the living room after breakfast. I wanted to get all the cleaning done before I went on vacation. It wasn't really that bad, but it needed to be done, especially in my bedroom.

Listened to Rodgers & Hammerstein's State Fair while I worked. This stage adaptation of the 1946 movie musical more-or-less kept the original story intact (though it made the singer a dancer). It also added a truckload of Rodgers & Hammerstein songs either cut from their shows or taken from their lesser-known shows, including a lovely "So Far" from Allegro, "The Next Time It Happens" from Pipe Dream, and two cute songs cut from Oklahoma, "When I Go Out Walking With My Baby" and "Boys and Girls Like You and Me" for the Frake parents.

Headed out as soon as the CD ended. I was at Dad and Jodie's just in time for the first Eagles kickoff of the year. The Eagles were already losing to division rivals the Washington Redskins when I arrived, 10 to nothing. They did manage to get a touchdown during the second quarter, but they really roared to life in the second half. Suddenly, they were holding off the Redskins left and right, and Wentz was throwing bombs and DeSean Jackson was buzzing all over the field. The Eagles just barely won in a wonderful game, 32-27.

The crowd at home was fun, too. I brought glitter crayons I found on the clearance rack at work and a coloring page featuring Swoop, the Eagles' mascot. I colored with Finley and watched Paw Patrol episodes while Khai played games on Jodie's iPad. Later, Khai, Finley, and I played with the Little Tykes and Little People tracks, figures, cars, and mountain. Jodie had tacos and refried beans for lunch, with vanilla ice cream sundaes and Acme chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Along with Rose and her family, my cousin Mark and his girlfriend Joya watched with Dad and Jodie. I had a nice conversation with Jessa; we're hoping to get together after I go on vacation.

Went on the computer and into writing as soon as I got home. The ladies and Charles finds themselves back in the dark hall. After he's calm enough and has smoked his pipe, Charles explains why the crowds of ghosts scared him. He'd been in a terrible fire in a circus as a young teen and while he escaped, he'd hated crowds and audiences ever since. (All true, by the way.) He'd tried to help save Richard, who had been more heavily beaten by Ira's goons, but the crowds of goons sent him reeling. Ira called him a coward before he was knocked out. Joyce and Brett reassure that he did what he could to help his friend.

Ira reappears at this point. He gives the group the next clue, this time to find host Gene Rayburn. He vanishes before anyone can throw fists, purses, or pipes at him.

Broke for a very quick dinner at quarter of 7. I'd had a big lunch and opted for coffee yogurt with peanut butter, cocoa, and brown sugar and a pear for dinner. Listened to one of my K-Tel disco albums, High Energy, to give me energy while I ate.

Finished the night with Lego Star Wars. I had trouble keeping the large group of characters together in "Battle of Endor" and just barely made it to "Into the Death Star." I'll keep trying until I go on vacation.