Friday, September 30, 2011

Kiss From a Rose and a Belle

I'm rather proud of myself. I got a lot done today. It was gorgeous and sunny when I headed to the Acme to pick up my paycheck and do my grocery shopping. The Acme wasn't busy at all, and I was able to buy what little I needed with no trouble. I picked up chicken legs, ground chicken, a can of reduced-fat-and-sodium cream of mushroom soup to replace the one I used for a sauce last week, a box of white cake mix to replace the one I used for the football party last Sunday, and two boxes of those Emerald Breakfast trail mixes I liked so much (I had a coupon and they were on sale).

When I got home, I put everything away, then headed back out. I wanted to make the Oaklyn Library before it closes at 2. I had just enough time to organize the DVDs and the board books, which needed it. I also took out an older Backyardigans DVD they had that I hadn't seen at the Haddon Township Library, Mission to Mars, and another one, the Bob Hope Cat and the Canary, that ultimately didn't work in my DVD recorder. (Maybe because it's a cheap public domain copy?)

Went for a short walk after that. I stopped at WaWa and bought myself a fountain Coke Zero with raspberry and vanilla syrups, a pretzel, and a small Roast Beef and Swiss Ciabatta Melt for lunch. It was so nice, I ate my meal at the tables alongside Wilcox Deli, watching people and children stroll by on the White Horse Pike. I also hit the bank and took a look at the Italian food shop across the street.

When I got home, I ran the Backyardigans disc. Probably the best set of the entire series, all four of the episodes on this one are winners. "Mission to Mars" is what the title says. Astronauts Uniqua, Pablo, and Austin take a trip to Mars to find out what's making a strange "boinga-boinga" sound while Tyrone and Tasha man (or hippo and moose) Mission Control. Singer Alicia Keyes guest-stars as the voice of the Mommy martian. The Kenyan High Life music was sort of like Latin and a lot of fun to move around to.

"Samurai Pie" and "Whodunnit?" are spoofs, of Japanese sword-and-action sagas and old dark house mysteries respectively. "Pie" has Tyrone teaching his apprentice Austin how to make the Great Pie for Empress Tasha...and keep it out of the hands and flippers of pie-snitching ninjas Uniqua and Pablo. "Whodunnit?" has Sherlock Pablo trying to solve the mystery of Lady Tasha's disappearing jewels...but with suspects like Austin Frothingslosh, Miss Uniqua Underwood, and Tyrone the Butler handy, it won't be easy!

"Scared of You" was the cutest, and the closest the Backyardigans have come to a Halloween episode. Tasha the Mad Scientist sends Austin the Igor-like assistant out with invitations to the Mummy King (Tyrone), the Werewolf (a very fuzzy Uniqua), and the Vampire (Pablo, the first vampire to wear a beanie with his tux)...but they're all so frightened of monsters, they almost don't come! Austin's upset because it's his birthday and no one seems to have noticed, but Tasha has quite a surprise for him at the end!

I made some calls while The Backyardigans were on. I finally canceled my Verizon internet and ordered Comcast. Though Verizon did say FIOS was available after all, I have had enough of them. Their customer service is horrible. Their tech reps are useless. And where in the heck is their signal anyway, South Dakota? I mean, just how far away is it that the signal goes down whenever we have even a mild storm? (They've actually gone down twice tonight, though for far briefer time periods than Wednesday night.) My Verizon Internet service will end Thursday, and Comcast will go up Friday morning. At the moment, I'm keeping my Verizon phone service, but that may change if the Comcast internet really works out.

Spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen and dubbing Batman Forever. (I wanted to dub Major League as well, but it got stuck in the VCR. Turns out the spool was broken. There was no harm to the machine, but the tape wouldn't even wind back in.) Both rooms desperately needed the cleaning. The kitchen was really grungy.

I normally prefer Superman for DC superheroes, but I did enjoy this Batman outing. (Mind you, I haven't seen the two recent ones yet, but I heard they were rather violent for my taste.) Forever walks a fine line between Tim Burton's goth world and the ridiculous camp of Batman and Robin and the 60s TV show. Batman (an actually quite good Val Kilmer) fights Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) while adopting orphaned circus performer Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell). Into this comes The Riddler (Jim Carrey), a nerdy former employee of Wayne Industries who comes up with a brain-scanning machine that can manipulate minds. When Wayne turns it down, he goes ahead with it anyway, and discovers that he can drain minds as well as mesmorize them. Will the wacky Riddler manipulate Batman into admitting his secret...or will a lovely psychiatrist (Nicole Kidman) get there first?

I'm never going to be the Batman fan that my friend Lauren is, but I did have fun with this. Carrey and Kilmer come off the best as the spurned geek gone wacko and the tortured title superhero. O'Donnell and Kidman have the more thankless roles of sidekick and love interest; O'Donnell, at the very least, is little better here than in Batman and Robin. Jones' Two-Face isn't nearly as interesting as the flamboyant Carrey.

Switched to Belle's Magical World while making Chicken Meatballs and sauteed Swiss chard for dinner. This is just four episodes of a failed Beauty and the Beast TV show strung together to make a 90-minute movie. As such, it's cute and really rather funny. The characters are fairly true to the film, and some of the situations are hilarious. Worth a rental if you're a big fan of the Disney animated Beauty and the Beast or of your kids are crying for more Belle, but nothing worth seeking out.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Down for the Internet Again

Yup, it happened again. My internet was down for four hours last night. When I did finally get back on around midnight, I discovered Verizon reset my entire account. I had to redo the software for their Internet network...again.

I was even less happy when I went online this afternoon and discovered that FIOS, Verizon's top-of-the-line cable-less internet service, isn't available to my apartment...but oh, let's shove the "triple play" (internet-cable-phone) down her throat! I DO NOT WANT CABLE!

That does it. Tomorrow, I'm calling Comcast and having them set up their simplest high-speed internet service, then calling Verizon to cancel their internet. I've had all I can take of Verizon. The internet goes down every time the weather gets even remotely bad, and when it's down for longer than an hour, I have to reset the whole darn thing. Not to mention, their customer service is lousy. I've long stopped calling them. They were never the slightest help whatsoever. Supposedly, Comcast's customer service is just as bad, but maybe if they actually stay up once in a while, I'll need it a lot less. I'm keeping Verizon's phone service, since that's never been a problem, but I've had it up to here with their internet.

Otherwise, things have gone fairly well. My electrical problems turned out to be the old wiring in this house and the ancient plugs in the wall behind where my mini-pantry is. I'll just have to be more careful when I'm rooting around in the pantry.

Even though the kitchen was now up and running, I still decided to go out to breakfast. I had a pleasant meal of scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast with jelly, and fruit salad, then went up the hill to the Haddon Township Library. I organized DVDs, shelved children's books, and took out two animated DVDs, Belle's Magical World and Gnomeo and Juliet.

Made a quick stop at Dollar Tree after that for sponges, then just rode home. I spent a lot of yesterday and today working my way through the dubbing. I finished up the Perfect Strangers episodes last night while the internet was down and prepared some more stories to post at my site.

This morning, I ran through two musicals and a John Wayne comedy. Mother Wore Tights is the only movie out of this batch that isn't on DVD. I'm very happy I was able to dub it...especially since Mom told me this is her long-time favorite film. It's basically a cross between Meet Me In St. Louis and Alexander's Ragtime Band. A pair of vaudevillians (Dan Dailey and Betty Grable) meet at the turn of the 20th century and get married. They raise two lovely daughters while still performing and traveling. After they send the girls to boarding school, the oldest becomes embarrassed of her parents' profession. Can they prove to her and her snobby friends that not all performers or vaudeville numbers are created equal?

Mom's not the only one who loves this movie. This was one of Betty Grable's biggest hits and was reportedly a favorite of hers. It also introduced her to Dan Dailey, who would join her for three more Fox musicals in the late 40s and early 50s. No wonder they were such good friends. They partner each other beautifully, a pair of warm, vibrant, pals-next-door blonds. The Technicolor is vibrant and rich, showing off both Dailey and Grable to best advantage.

I moved to MGM for the next musical I dubbed. Gigi was the Oscar-winning film for 1958 and the last major musical to be released by the legendary Freed unit...but what a way to go out! This is the elegant tale of the Parisian girl of the title (Leslie Caron) who is being prepared by her grandmother (Hermione Gingold) and aunt (Isabel Jeans) to become a courtesan. Meanwhile, a playboy (Louis Jordan) is getting tired of his current mistress and is looking for someone different. When he takes the innocent, child-like Gigi and her grandmother to the sea, he falls for her...but is Gigi ready to take on the adult responsibilities of love?

A classic musical with fabulous Paris cinematography, lovely music (by Lerner and Lowe, fresh off of the somewhat similar My Fair Lady), and a fine cast. Maurice Chevalier, who begins and ends the film with his "Thank Heavens For Little Girls," revived his career in the states for another decade thanks to this movie. He and Gingold have the best number, the hilarious nostalgic reverie "I Remember It Well."

Donovan's Reef is something all together different. My stepfather is a huge fan of John Wayne, and I grew up watching many of his films, especially the ones he made in the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. I have fond memories of watching this one with Dad when he bought it in the mid-90s. Wayne plays Donovan, the owner of a popular bar on a Polynesian island. He and the whole island are thrown for a loop when a snooty young woman from Boston arrives, looking for her father. Will Donovan fall for this head-strong, prim young woman, and who really is her family?

If you like other Wayne battle-of-the-sexes comedies like McLintock!, you'll love this. Basically, it's McLintock set in Polynesia instead of the wild west, and while not his best, it's a lot of fun. The cast's having a great time, too, including Lee Marvin as Wayne's sozzled bartender, Dorothy Lamour as a singer at the bar, and Caeser Romero as the island's governor.

Donovan's Reef ended with just enough time for me to hurry to work. I needn't have bothered with the rush. Other than a mild spurt during the usual rush hour, it was very quiet all night. There were some annoying beginning-of-the-month people, otherwise no problems.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Out Like the Kitchen Light

The day went well up through late evening. I spent the morning dubbing Perfect Strangers episodes. Work was fairly quiet up through the usual 4PM rush hour, after which it got busy but not insane. Thankfully, I finished at five, and my relief was on time. There were a few annoying customers, otherwise no major problems.

I went straight home. I was working on baking an Applesauce Cake and dubbing more episodes when the light suddenly went out in the kitchen. I couldn't figure out why. I have one of those fancy new bulbs in there that burns cool and isn't supposed to go out for years. I changed the bulb, but it still didn't work. The light in the refrigerator was out, too, and it didn't sound like it was running. I tried pulling the plug in and out, but it did nothing.

I finally called my landlady Miss Ellie. She and her nephew both checked the circuit breaker. Nothing seemed to be wrong. It appears to be the wiring. That's a problem. I pulled out fish for dinner tonight and was able to cobble together a meal of flounder and farm market apples, red potatoes, and heirloom cherry tomatoes. I went to WaWa after dinner to buy ice. My Styrofoam cooler is ready, but I'm hoping the things in the freezer and refrigerator will be fine if I just leave them.

I need to run to the Haddon Township Library tomorrow anyway. I'll just go out to breakfast.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting the Laundry Done

That's basically all I did today, but it was really all I had planned, anyway. I slept late and didn't get to the laundromat until around quarter of noon. It was busy, but I waited it out, and thankfully I was able to get a washer and drier. I read Simple Abundance and listened to Family Feud. (And thank goodness they ditched that boring Housewives show. Who cares about a bunch of spoiled housewives, anyway? At least with game shows, there's interesting questions to answer and fun people to watch.)

I had just enough time to put away my laundry, change into my work clothes, and have a very quick leftovers lunch before heading out to work. Work was on-and-off busy during rush hour, fairly quiet otherwise. I was in and out with no problems.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trouble at Lincoln Financial Stadium

I slept until almost 10. Spent the morning dubbing Perfect Strangers episodes and baking a White Zucchini Cake to bring to Uncle Ken's football party. I called Mom, but she had Anny and Skylar over. I'd call back after work.

Headed for the party next. Craig, Khai, Dad, Jodie, Uncle Ken, Dolores, and her grandchildren Mercedes and Blake were already there when I arrived. The game had been on for about a half-hour, and things were already ugly. The Giants had two touchdowns.

More people arrived as the Eagles finally answered with a few touchdowns of their own. By the time I was playing marbles with Faith and chatting with her parents Samantha and David, the score was Giants 14, Eagles 10. I had to leave at half-time for work. Craig and Khai left then, too. I tried Craig's Reuben casserole (not bad), but I otherwise wasn't that hungry.

Work, thank goodness after last week, was mildly steady when I came in, dead when I left. I was able to put candy away between customers all night. It was sunny this morning. The clouds came in during work, and though it got humid again, it never rained. In fact, I saw another lovely sunset when I rode home from the Acme.

I just had a peanut butter and peach butter sandwich when I got home, then called Mom. Not surprisingly, she was tired after spending all day with my sister and her son. She did have some nice suggestions for my business, though. I'm hoping to help local small businesses and college students edit their papers, but I'm having a hard time figuring out where and how to advertise. Mom pointed out that most small towns have newspapers that announce events and festivals. Cape May County has one called The Shoppe. All of the local libraries have bulletin boards that might work, too. Not to mention, a quarter of the Acme's work force is in college. I could talk to them.

I've just been feeling really depressed lately. I haven't been getting out as much as usual. First of all, there's the nasty weather. Second, my foot is still feeling very sore. Third, I've been working a lot more than usual. Yes, yes, I'm aware that it means I'm making money, but the stress is driving me through the roof. Not to mention, I usually have more downtime in the summer. I haven't had as much time as usual to do anything, and when I have, I've been stuck inside because of the weather or my foot or I just don't have the time before work. And when I have had the time, I've been too down to do anything. It's just frustrating.

The Eagles game ended up being pretty frustrating, two. Three-fourths of the game was flags. There were fights, squabbles, and very unnecessary roughness from both teams all over the place. The Eagles' quarterback Michael Vick was apparently knocked out with a broken hand, and the Eagles got knocked out 39-14.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Across the Wide Township

Started off a cloudy, humid Saturday with the American Top 40. We headed to 1975 for a round of folk, country, hard rock, R&B, and novelty tunes, including Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz," Helen Reddy's "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady," Glenn Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy," Earth Wind & Fire's "Hearts Afire," the gag number "Mr. Jaws" (a spoof of that summer's blockbuster movie), Barry Manilow's "Could It Be Magic?", and Orleans' "Dance With Me." The number #1 hit that late September was John Denver's "I'm Sorry."

Though there was only a small shower, the bad weather did keep the yard sales at bay. There were barely any on East Clinton's street-wide yard sale. Audubon's town-wide yard sale did have more, but the rain and my 1PM shift threatened, and I didn't get to check out as many as I would have liked. I just came home with Felix the Cat: The Movie on DVD and four records:

Supertramp - Breakfast In America

Linda Rondstat - Heart Like a Wheel

George Thurgood and the Destroyers - Maverick

A collection of holiday music simply titled A Christmas Album

I also hit the farm market. The constant rain has ended many crops early (corn, peaches) and has damaged others (pumpkins, squash)...but it's graced us with some absolutely delicious small Gala apples. I've never had such sweet, juicy little apples. I decided to try Rainbow Swiss Chard and type of green/orange Heirloom cherry tomato. In addition to the apples, I restocked on pears and carrots. Decided to try an avocado from the wholesaler booth, since I loved the one Mom sliced up for a snack when I visited Cape May County a few weeks ago.

Went home and listened to records for a little while, then headed to work. Work was on and off busy. There were no major problems with customers, but my feet felt horrible. I tried the wrap bandage I bought the other day, but no matter how I wrapped it, it always seemed to be too tight and hurt my foot even worse. I finally took it off all together after the end of my shift.

It was still a little humid when I got outside, but much cooler. The clouds were starting to dissapate, revealing a glorious sunset rippled with shades of lavender and orange over the White Horse Pike. I had debated where I was going to eat during work, but the sunset answered my question. Mother Nature was putting on a spectacular show, and who was I to tune her out?

I had a chicken sandwich, onion rings, and a cherry limeade at Sonic. It was a really nice evening. Teenage boys chattered in back of me, while the beauty of nature glowed in front. Between the boys, the 50s music playing on Sonic's radio station, and girls on roller blades bringing customers their orders, I felt like I was in an episode of Happy Days. I half-expected Fonzie to ride up to the drive-in window any second.

Did my grocery shopping after dinner. It was really just a small run. I needed to restock brown sugar, eggs, chocolate chips, parchment paper, frozen juice concentrate, and applesauce.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wild Women of the West

Once again, I awoke to the sound of a ringing phone. Of course it was the Acme. There were three call outs. Could I come in at 1 instead of 3? No, but I would anyway. I'd appreciate these extra hours more if they weren't so last minute, if my feet weren't killing me, and if I didn't feel so darn stressed out.

I did manage to get some things done this morning. I made my college payment and dubbed Johnny Guitar onto the disc with Romancing the Stone. A facinating and very odd western from 1954, this is best known as one of Joan Crawford's few dips into this particular genre. Crawford is the owner of a new saloon in town. Mercedes McCambridge owns most of the land in the area and doesn't like Crawford invading her turf. Sterling Hayden is the title character, a wandering guitarist and former lover of Crawford's.

I ended up enjoying this one, but don't come here looking for standard western fare. I'm not normally a fan of Crawford's, but she does very well here as the tough-talking saloon owner and looks smashing in the stunning color cinematography. McCambridge makes for a great villainess as well. Other familiar 50s character actors on display include Ernest Borganine (as one of Crawford's goons) and John Carradine (as the sheriff). Worth catching on TCM if you want to see something different in a western or are a fan of Crawford or director Nicholas Ray. (Alas, it doesn't seem to be on Region 1 DVD at press time.)

It poured all morning, but the rain slowed down enough by 12:30 for me to get to work on the bike and arrive only slightly wet. We were on and off busy for most of the evening. There weren't really many problems, other than one annoying woman who gave me a hundred different directions on how to bag but refused to help herself.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Working Late

I didn't really do much today. I spent most of the morning nursing my foot and messing around online. I baked chocolate chip cookies and dubbed Perfect Strangers episodes in the afternoon. I'm trying to figure out how to market my idea of becoming a virtual assistant and doing online filing and secretarial stuff. I'm not very good at selling anything, let alone my own abilities. I don't know what to write on the advertisement. I'm so nervous about the whole thing. I want to do it, but I'm scared. The only person I know who has run her own business is Mom, and she took over the small yacht-cleaning business she had in the late 80s-early 90s from another person.

It doesn't help that things haven't been going well lately in general. My foot's hurt; if it doesn't start feeling better soon, I'm going to have to see a doctor. I haven't been able to do all of the fun things I did last year. I want so badly to get away from the Acme, but I feel trapped in a job I can't stand.

I'm not crazy about working really late. I get a lot of grouchy people, and I end up spending a lot of time standing around. At least they had new candy to shelve. A co-worker drove me home. (And thank goodness the store is only open until 11 now. They were open until midnight when I first moved here.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quiet Day In the Rain

It was cloudy and humid but not really hot when I finally climbed out of bed around 9:30. I had breakfast an hour later and didn't get going to the Oaklyn Library until nearly noon. I'm glad I did finally get out there. The pre-schoolers were just finishing their session, and the kids' area needed some serious re-organizing. The DVDs looked pretty bad, too. You can tell I wasn't in last week. There were lots of books to shelve after the kids left, and the board books needed to be completely re-arranged.

After I left the Library, I made a quick stop at WaWa. I meant to get milk at work last night, but I left so quickly, I forgot. I grabbed the milk and a pretzel snack, since it was well past lunchtime.

It's a good thing I got home when I did. It had been cloudy, cool, and very humid all morning. The rain started a mere twenty minutes after I made it in the door. It's been raining off and on ever since (though it's off at the moment).

The remainder of the day passed quietly. I dubbed more Perfect Strangers episodes, finishing off another disc and another tape. I put my foot on ice, rolling it back and forth on the frozen water bottle. I baked corn muffins to accompany my dinner of Spicy Chicken Cutlets (chicken cutlets coated with spices and the hint of red pepper), steamed carrots, and sauteed butternut squash with honey. I did more things online.

Watched two lovely Disney direct-to-home-media movies before and during dinner. Bambi II is a "mid-quel" to the Disney classic that is set between the scene where Bambi's dad, the Great Prince of the Forest, tells him that his mother isn't coming back, and the scene where Friend Owl discovers the adult Bambi. The Great Prince may be great at many things...but he's not exactly the ideal father for a frisky, sweet-natured fawn. Bambi tries his best to live up to his father's legacy, while his big buck dad learns a lesson in the wonders of parenting.

I was very impressed with this sweet outing. Not only is it a worthy successor to one of Disney's best movies, but it has a well-done message about the importance of fathers in their children's lives and how much children can teach us if we're willing to listen. And unlike many of Disney's direct-to-home-media movies, which simply rehash their predecessors, Bambi II goes it's own way.

Pooh's Grand Adventure is another Disney made-for-home-media movie I highly recommend, especially since it apparently deals with some of the same themes as the Pooh tale that was released to theaters this past summer. Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acres Woods crew believe Christopher Robin is being held captive by the fearsome "Skullasaurus" and go on a journey to rescue him. Can they brave the wilds on the outskirts of the Hundred Acre Woods...and will Pooh ever remember the saying that Christopher Robin told him?

A surprisingly bittersweet Pooh story (similar to the Valentine's special), which reminds that even when friends are far away, they're still close in our hearts. This is pretty dark for Pooh (as some parents on pointed out), and probably not the best movie to start the youngest Pooh fans off on. For older kids and adults, it's a touching adventure with some really nice sequences (I love Pooh rescuing Piglet from the butterflies) and a few heartbreaking ones (I dare you not to cry when Pooh sings "Wherever You Are").

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wishing for Simple Abundance

I slept a lot later than I thought I would. I guess I was really tired. I didn't get out of bed until 10:30! I didn't mean to sleep that late. I was up a lot later than I planned on last night. I get so caught up reading things online that I lose track of time.

Maybe it's just as well. It was raining when I woke up this morning. The rain had subsided by the time I finally got out to the laundromat to get my small load of clothes done. The weather must have cleared out the building, too. There were only a few people when I arrived around noon.

I worked on Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy while my laundry was in the washer. I really haven't been feeling much comfort or joy lately. Nothing has gone right. My foot hurts, and because my foot hurts, I haven't been able to get to yoga. I hate hurting myself. It means I can't get anything done and it makes work even more excruciating than usual. It makes me feel like a baby.

I didn't finish almost anything I planned on doing this summer. I never went to Atlantic City. I never completed those fanfics I said I'd work on. I still haven't figured out how to start a business. How should I advertise myself? Could I do virtual assistant work? How do you do that? Everything was going so well last year. I felt so good. Right now, I just feel scared and frustrated.

Work hasn't helped. I wish we could keep some managers for more than a few months. I wish I could go in and out of jobs as much as they do! I don't belong at a grocery store. I smile to my customers because I have to, not because I enjoy the job. I usually get a lot more down time in the summer than I did this year.

When I got home, I put away the laundry and ran more Looney Tunes. It's a shame some of the later Speedy Gonzoles shorts have gotten a bad rap with fans as some of the worst of the series. A couple of them are really fun. I still love "The Pied Piper of Guadalupe" and "Mexican Borders."

The Acme tried to call me in, but they did it while I was at the laundromat. By the time I got home, it was 1:30, and they wanted me in at 2. I hadn't even had lunch yet! I had leftovers while the cartoons ran, then headed out.

Unlike Friday, this time, they didn't really need the help. It was steady when I came in and no more than on-and-off busy all night.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Day at the Library

Started out a gorgeous late summer day with a run to the Haddon Township Library. My sore foot wasn't crazy about it, but I had books that were overdue and needed to square myself with the librarians. I did shelve DVDs and some children's books. Also took out Bambi II and one of two new Sesame Street discs covering the show's many classic spoofs over the years.

Made a few quick stops next. I was in and out of Super Fresh. I couldn't find their bandage wraps. I did find them at the Rite Aid across the street, though. I had to stand in line there for longer than I would have preferred. A customer was giving the cashier a really hard time. Something about her coupon not coming off right or as much as she wanted. Then she turned around to me and whined about how nasty the cashier was being. Please. She was the one who was being nasty to the cashier. The cashier seemed to take it in stride - apparently, she's a frequent customer and always give them a hard time.

(And I gave myself a nice treat. The classic Russell Stover's Coconut Nest is back again for the holidays. I don't find this in too many stores in this area, so it's a rare bit of pleasure when I do encounter it.)

Had a quick, late lunch at Capitol Pizza. Thankfully, the TV wasn't on, and it was fairly quiet other than some customers discussing the disastrous Eagles-Falcons game last night. I munched on Broccoli-Spinach Pizza and hoped that Michael Vick would recover from his concussion quickly.

Headed home and remained there for the rest of the day. I put my sore foot on the frozen water bottle. For once, one of my customers was completely right. Boy, did that feel good. I'm going to do it tomorrow, too. It really did help.

I did get a few things done. I baked a low-fat Chocolate Buttermilk Cake from one of the Prevention recipes I clipped out of the magazine in 2009. Yum! It came out wonderfully. It's very fudgy and moist. I really enjoyed it.

Got a lot of Perfect Strangers episodes dubbed to DVD. I wanted to put the short 8th season episodes on their own disc to avoid confusion, along with the two segments from Mark Linn-Baker's appearances in the charming 2005 Broadway kids' musical A Year With Frog & Toad that were broadcast on the Today Show and the Tony Awards.

I thought it would help to have the holiday-related episodes on their own disc for easy retrieval during the fall and winter season. Also threw a Christmas episode of the Dan Ackroyd vehicle Soul Man that featured Baker onto the end of the holiday disc as an "extra."

Between episodes, I ran some other items. A Night In Casablanca has a bad rap with Marx Brothers fans, but it's one of their funniest later movies. This time, the boys find themselves in post-World War II Morocco, where Groucho is the new manager of the Hotel Casablanca. The last three managers have all been murdered. Can the boys keep Groucho from sharing their fate...and keep Nazi spy Sig Ruman from retrieving a cache of Nazi treasure?

I found this be hilarious. While their ages are showing, Groucho is still full of one-liners, and the scene where they wreck havoc on Ruman's hotel room is a riot. Love Groucho and Harpo in the elevator, too. Those who aren't crazy about the Brothers' MGM movies will be happy to know that the young lovers here don't sing and have limited screen time. In fact, the only music heard are Chico's piano and Harpo's harp solos and a German version of "Who's Sorry Now?"

The Sesame Street spoofs were even funnier. I rented the first volume with older segments that date as far back as the 70s. My favorites included the Bruce Springsteen-esque "Born to Count" and Cookie Monster's delightful take on the early 90s mystery Twin Peaks, "Twin Beaks."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Because They're Cousins...

Started today with Brunch With the Beatles and French Toast and a pear for breakfast. About half-way through the show, I switched to dubbing Perfect Strangers episodes. This sitcom from the 80s and early 90s has been a favorite of mine for years. It's how I met my best friend Lauren. I enjoyed a PS fanfic she wrote so much, I wrote her an e-mail praising it. She wrote me back, and I wrote her back, and we discovered we had a lot in common. That was February 2004, and we've been best friends ever since. She even sent me copies of rest of Perfect Strangers I didn't have that she'd traded for.

I finally got a hold of Mom around noon. I called her twice earlier, but all I got was a busy signal. Not surprisingly, Mom said she was talking to her sister Terri, who can be a chatterbox when she gets going. Mom said she was fine; she had the house to herself. Dad was out, and Keefe was spending time with his girlfriend Vicki. She suggested that I put my bad foot on a heating pad, the put it on ice, and if the pain didn't lessen by the end of the week, I should see a doctor.

I may have to. I hate to do it, but my foot really does hurt. I can walk on it, but it's sore. I had it on a heating pad for the rest of the afternoon and have it up on my blue milk crate coffee table now.

One of my managers tried to get me to come in around 1. This time, I said no. I really wanted to keep my foot on that heating pad for a while. It felt soo good on my foot, I was almost late getting out the door because I didn't want to leave.

Thankfully, work was a lot less hectic than the past few days. They apparently had call-out problems again, and then there's the fact that, once again, a lot of people are on vacation. (If I'd known September was such a popular time for vacations, I would have waited until later this month or early next month.) However, by the time I arrived at 3, the crowds were lessening, and the college students were arriving.

Not only was work not a problem, but a customer gave me a good suggestion for dealing with my foot. She said she broke her foot a few months ago and rolled it on a frozen water bottle to help it heal. I'm going to try that. I have a water bottle in the freezer as I type this.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'm So Tired

Yeah, I know, not creative, but I am. For one thing, I got up early this morning to make this week's farm market/yard sale run. I got to hear the American Top 40 re-run, too. We went back a bit in the 80s to mid-September 1981. Among the hits that week were "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield, "Queen of Hearts" by Juice Newton, "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" by Christopher Cross, and that week's big #1 hit, the romantic ballad "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie.

Not only were there a lot more yard sales this week, but I did much better with shopping. I picked up three records (two early Rod Stewart and the original 60s soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas) at a sale in Collingswood on Park Avenue.

Made my best finds at the Oaklyn Library's annual fall Book Sale and Flea Market. I bought some really great things there last year, and I wasn't disappointed. I picked up four videos to dub for a dollar from one seller...then grabbed a pile more for free from the Library, which is clearing out its huge VHS collection! My favorite discovery was Mother Wore Tights. My mother loves this movie, one of Betty Grable's most popular vehicles. Grable and Dan Dailey play married vaudevillians who raise two daughters while continuing to perform on the road. I've never seen it, and it's not on DVD. (In fact, the only Grable movie I have is The Dolly Sisters.)

I didn't get as much at the Farm Market. I didn't need much this week, probably because I didn't eat at home that much. Peaches and grapes are gone, which meant I needed another fruit to go with the apples. I ended up with the loveliest small Bartlett pears, just the right size to tuck in my lunch bag for work. Also bought leeks and romaine lettuce.

Helped that it was really nice out today, too. The clouds were off and on, but it was still cool, barely into the 70s, very windy, and dry. It felt so very, very nice to be running around in light pants and a sweater after a hot, humid summer!

Spent the rest of a quiet afternoon at my apartment, dubbing Perfect Strangers episodes and getting the next round of tapes to dub organized. I now have plenty to transfer to DVD for a while! ;)

Work was tiring. I'm worn out from a very long and exhausting week, and by the time I finished, I was barely coherent. Thankfully, it wasn't as busy as yesterday, and we had more help this time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Just Plain Worn Out

Today didn't go well. It didn't even begin well. The first sound I heard this morning was the phone. One of the mangers from the Acme was calling me. Could I come in at 11 and work for eight hours? Two of the morning people called out sick.

I wanted to shout NO at the top of my lungs...but I couldn't. I was on the spot, and they knew it. Six people are out on vacation this week. Most of the college kids and high schoolers are in class. I hated doing it, but I said yes. They needed the help.

So yes, I spent all day at work again. It was a pain in the rear and an even bigger pain in the feet. We had lines snaking across the store, and there wasn't close to enough people up front to deal with them. If I knew everyone was going to take their vacations this week, I would have waited. I figured no one would go the week after Labor Day. Not to mention, many of those orders were huge, as much as 600 dollars, and we're still working out that new computer system.

Things got even worse when I saw my schedule. Most of it was pretty normal...except for the 5:15 to 11:15 they have me working on Thursday. I have to get that changed. I can't work that while riding a bike, and I really don't know anyone I can drag out that late to pick me up, either. I can't believe they even put it on the schedule. Most of the managers know darn well about my bike.

I was angry, frustrated, and feeling totally exhausted when I finally finished work at 7. I still couldn't go home, though. I had my own grocery shopping to do. I was out of trash bags, and almost out of yogurt. Wanted to stock up on chicken (ground and cutlets), peanut butter, deodorant, toilet paper, and whole wheat bread from the bakery.

There was something pleasant waiting for me at home, though. I didn't see the large, square package on Miss Ellie's porch when I came in. It was too dark. Miss Ellie called me and told me. Mom sent me the rest of the family's older videos I thought I'd like to have. There's two musicals (Gigi and Daddy Long Legs), the two Eddie and the Cruisers movies, two John Wayne vehicles (Donovan's Reef and North to Alaska), and a bunch of older tapes with episodes of Fairie Tale Theatre and Tall Tales and Legends we all loved. These include "Casey at the Bat" with Elliot Gould, "The Little Mermaid" with Pam Dawber, and Mom's favorite, "Annie Oakley" with Jamie Lee Curtis as the famous sharp-shooter. She also sent me the book I bought from West End Garage, Simple Pleasures, that I couldn't fit in my bag going home.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Is Here

It was just cloudy and cool when I got up this morning. I tried a few yoga moves in the morning, but my foot screamed. I decided I was better off staying at home.

Ended up spending the morning making Summer Flummery (peach, plum, and apple) and starting to dub Perfect Strangers. I picked up two tapes of episodes off eBay early in 2004, and Lauren dubbed the rest from her collection for me later that year and in early 2005. I figured it would be better for my sanity if I just transferred the episodes as they were on the tapes, instead of trying to organize them by season. They're all over the place on the tapes. I do intend to put all of the seasonal-themed episodes on one disc, and the short 8th season and any "extras" Lauren added that I'm keeping on another.

It ended up being just as well that I stayed at home. I went down to get the mail around 11:30. It was just starting to sprinkle when I came back in. A few minutes later, it started pouring. It only lasted about twenty minutes, and then the sun came out...briefly. It's showered off and on for the rest of the day.

In fact, it was showering when I finally headed to work. Other than it was a little busier, things went pretty much the same as yesterday. I was in and out with no problems.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grocery Stores in the 21st Century

Spent the morning baking Peach Cupcakes and dubbing the remaining Monkees tapes. There was one full concert from 1987 left, along with a lot of bits and pieces. There were interviews with Micky, Davy, and Peter on Sally Jesse Raphael in 1987 (from them plugging their then-newest album, Pool It!). There was another interview and two songs with those three on the Rosie O'Donnell Show probably around 2000 (they mentioned Mike was off the tour) and a solo interview with Davy from what was then known as TNN.

My favorite item was from 1996. The original four Monkees released their first album really together since 1967. JustUs wasn't a hit, but it does have some good music, and I think it can at the very least be downloaded at Rhino's site. Along with the album and the primetime special revolving around the new songs, Rhino released a half-hour tape featuring promotional music videos. They were really fun, and in a few cases, better than what turned up on the special. (My favorite is Micky and Davy's "You and I" and the "Run Away With Life" that pokes fun at Davy's infamously large ego.)

Had a very quick lunch and ran some Looney Tunes shorts before dashing off to work. Work wasn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Our computer system was just completely revamped. The hardest part is figuring out the new buttons for WIC Checks (which aren't under the checks anymore) and for doing rainchecks. Not to mention remembering you don't have to hit the total button anymore or hit the sign off button twice.

It helped that we were never busier than on-and-off all day. It's the middle of the week an the middle of a month that's rarely busy anyway except for football weekends. I got in and out with no problems.

I even got lunch on the Acme. Apparently, someone gave me some praise while I was on vacation. I got a $5 coupon for doing a good job and bought myself a decent dinner with it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Listen to the Band

Started out a lovely, sunny late summer day with a run to the Haddon Township Library. I wanted to get at least one library session in, and there were more videos to donate. There weren't many DVDs to shelve today, but I did put away a ton of children's books. Just Easy Readers that needed to be put away took up a whole shelf on the cart.

My feet are still really sore. I think I pulled a muscle. I made a quick stop at Super Fresh for sugar, then went a few doors down in the Westmont Plaza to the Bagel Shop for lunch. I wasn't that hungry and kept it very simple, just a bagel with avocado spread and tomatoes and some water. It was almost 2 by then, so it was just me, one other guy, and the soaps on ABC. I ate my bagel quickly and rode straight home.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at my apartment, working on things online and dubbing more videos. Today, I concentrated on transferring the two Monkees tapes Lauren sent me in late 2004. The first tapes have the biographical movie VH1 made in 2000, Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story, Head, and the E! Hollywood Story and VH1: Behind the Music on the group. There was also some random concert footage from 1997 and 1986 on the end of the tape, along with a Mike Nesmith interview on Good Morning America from 1996.

Right now, I'm dubbing the Monkees' 2000 Concert in Anaheim that featured Micky, Peter, and Davy. There's a series of music videos the guys did for their 1996 album JustUs that I want to transfer on this tape, too.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Day In Philadelphia

I slept in this morning. Didn't get to the laundromat until past 11:30. I was lucky to get a washer or a dryer. There were several couples and college students there doing huge loads.

When I got home, I put everything away as quickly as I could. I gulped down beef stew, then headed out again. I've been wanting to make a quick trip into Philadelphia to look at the large FYEs in the Gallery Mall and on Broad Street for a while now. I'd like to clear out as many videos as possible before the end of the year.

Made a quick stop at the bank to change a $20 into a smaller amount for the train trip, then rode to Collingswood. It was a nice day for a stroll around the city. Yesterday's humidity had been replaced by lower 80s temperatures and sunshine.

I did very well at both stores. FYE is having a buy two used DVDs or CDs, get a third for a dollar sale. With my Membership Card, I dropped Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse and the TCM Greatest Films Collection with the Marx Brothers Movies A Day at the Races, Room Service, A Night In Casablanca, and At the Circus down to $13.50 each. Grabbed the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 4 for $25 and Pooh's Grand Adventure for 10 from the Broad Street store. The dollar movies ended up being Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and a musical I'd been wanting.

Took a surprisingly not-full train home around 5:30. Since I was already in Collingswood, I stopped at the Pop Shop for dinner. While most of the families around me were dealing with small children ordering chicken fingers and oversized burgers, I had "The Bettlewood," a grilled Swiss cheese sandwich on ciabatta bread with chicken and onions. (All of the Pop Shop's grilled cheese sandwiches are named for streets in Collingswood, Oaklyn, and Haddon Township, which I thought was pretty creative.) The sandwich was not only delicious, but for once, not too big. The Pop Shop is notorious for its family-sized portions, but I was able to finish this one without a stomach ache later.

Headed home after that. Put all of my DVD finds away, then ran At the Circus. Harpo and Chico are performers in a circus owned by a young man (Kenny Baker) who was disinherited by his snobbish mother (Margaret Dumont). When a couple of thugs hire performers to help them steal the money needed to keep the circus going, Chico brings in lawyer Groucho to help out.

No, it's not the best Marx Brothers movie, and probably not the place to start for newcomers. (That would be Night at the Opera.) It does, however, have Groucho singing "Lydia the Tattooed Lady," which makes up for a lot of things, including the wooden Baker and his corny love songs.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories of Sunshine and Shadow

I don't mean to offend the memories of anyone by choosing to not be more patriotic this weekend. I do remember 9/11, and very well. It was the first day of my final semester at Richard Stockton College. It all started out pretty normal. I got up, watched Get Smart on TV Land and Rollie Pollie Ollie on the Disney Channel, had breakfast, and headed across the path over Lake Fred to my first class of the day, American History: 1918-Present.

After class, I headed to the college's library for that day's shift as a receptionist/assistant secretary in the basement Media Center. Since class ended early and I had a little extra time, I went upstairs and chose a book to read. I even remember the book was about silent movie stars.

When I came downstairs, I was met by one of the Media Center's head secretaries. She looked upset and was as white as a sheet. "Their attacking the World Trade Center," she told me in horror.

"What?!" I gasped. "You're kidding!"

She was far from kidding. I went right into the tech crew's room. The tech boys were in charge of the school's channel for event broadcasting and emergency closing warnings. Their eyes were all glued to their TV sets. I saw smoke pouring out of the two World Trade Center buildings and heard the commentators' pure shock.

There was a room set up just off the main lobby/listening/viewing area for any workers who wanted to keep up with the news. I went in there just in time to see the first tower fall. I had to leave eventually to help students, but I was in and out all morning.

When I wasn't watching the news, I was working on things at the receptionist's desk. I tried to read or do my homework, but I couldn't keep my mind on the task at hand. For one thing, I had several friends who lived in New York at the time, and I was worried about them. After I found out about the Pentagon, I was very relieved that my sister Rose, who normally went to college in Washington DC, was taking a semester off due to personal problems.

(Mom later revealed that it was Rose who told her. Apparently, she heard about it on her car radio and called Mom, totally freaked out. Mom and Bill didn't have cable then - she spent the rest of that afternoon at a local restaurant, watching their TV set.)

I was a huge fan of the TV series Remember WENN at that time. I started writing a fanfiction for my WENN "On the Edge of the Precipice" series to try to get my mind off of the news...but the story changed into something quite different and more related to my present worries, "Everything's Fine." It's still up at my WENN fan site.

The school finally closed at 2PM. I was supposed to have gone to my next class at this time. I was at loose ends and had no idea of what to do next. I just walked back to the on-campus apartment I shared with four other girls. Two of those girls were there, the TV showing news while they did homework. I asked them if they knew about the news; they said yes.

I don't remember much else about the afternoon and evening. I know I went for a walk around the lake at one point. It was a lovely day, sunny and bright, and any kids who hadn't gone home were out and about, walking, jogging, or talking to friends.

I spent the evening chatting with friends online at the computer lab. Thank goodness everyone in New York was fine. One woman was upset that her husband couldn't get home because his plane was held up, and a college student had been let out of school early.

The TV was still on when I got back in, and the other girls were all in bed. It was past midnight, but I didn't care. I'd needed to talk to the others. I remember seeing Tom Brokaw at Ground Zero and, for the first time all day, finally breaking down crying.

Today wasn't anywhere near as dramatic. I slept late and worked on more video recording as comfort food. Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation is the second of three films to feature the mid-late 80s Care Bear Family characters. This one introduces True Heart Bear and Noble Heart Horse, the original Care Bear and Care Bear Cousin, who raise a group of foundling cubs and critters to help the world's children feel better about themselves. While they are able to aid Dawn and John, twins from a summer camp who feel useless and unwanted, they aren't as lucky with their friend Christy. Christy is a feisty young lady who is good at marbles but clumsy at anything else. She encounters an evil entity known as Dark Heart, a nasty spirit who can take on any shape, including human. He gives her the power to be the Camp Champ...for a price.

I didn't realize it as a child, but this is a Care Bears variation on the Faust story. Though there is a happy ending as both Christy and Dark Heart learn the importance of friendship and working towards goals, like the first movie, this is pretty dark for Care Bears. There's still some cutesy stuff with the Cubs in the beginning, but it's offset by the ending with Dark Heart, the fate of the Care Bears, and the group saving Christy. I love it, and did as a kid, but more sensitive young ones may need parents near-by.

Called Mom while the Care Bears were ending. Mom was fine. She had the house to herself. Keefe, Vicki, and Dad went back into Wildwood for the final day of the "Roar to the Shore" motorcycle convention. She was preparing for the first Eagles game of the season.

I went over to Dad's shortly after I finished talking to Mom. To be honest, it wasn't the most thrilling afternoon. Uncle Ken and Dolores were at Uncle Ken's high school reunion. Everyone else was at home or events. It was just me, Dad, and Jodie for the first half of the game. Dad made burgers and hot dogs. Jodie had cheese and crackers, shrimp, cocktail sauce, and olives. Craig brought Khai over around half-time. Jessa and her boyfriend Bobby turned up towards the beginning of the 4th quarter; Uncle Ken and Dolores showed up shortly after that.

We had a rather pleasant interlude where Jodie and I took Khai for a little walk across the street. Khai adores trucks, in all shapes and sizes. A friend of Jodie's owns a truck, and he allowed Jodie to put Khai in the bed. He was in absolute heaven. He was such a happy boy.

The Eagles were pretty happy, too. Despite a fairly poorly-played first half, they dominated the St. Louis Rams and went on to win 31-14. I liked the touching opening, where most of the players and coaches unfurled a huge flag across the stadium in honor of 9/11 while "God Bless America" was performed in the background.

Dad switched back and forth between the Eagles and the Phillies game for most of the afternoon. The Phils didn't do as well. They lost 3-2 to the Milwaulkee Brewers.

Headed straight home after the game. I spent the rest of the evening dubbing more cartoons and movies. I had completely forgotten that ABC ran three classic Disney shorts with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too when they showed it as part of The Disney Sunday Movie. I already have "Bee On Guard" in the Walt Disney Treasures Chronological Donald, Vol.4 set, but I didn't have "Pluto and the Gopher" (Pluto chases a gopher who makes a meal of Minnie's garden) or "In the Bag" (Humphery the Bear ends up having to clean up the park in order to get his dinner).

There were two more items on that tape I wanted. The Dancing Princesses was one of our favorite episodes of Fairy Tale Theatre when we were little. Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown takes Chuck, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Snoopy, and Woodstock to France on a student exchange program, where they meet a little girl named Violette whose uncle definitely does not like having strangers at his home! Can the Peanuts solve the mystery of Violette, her past with Chuck's family, and the Chateau Mal Voison?

This is an unusually dark outing for the Peanuts. It's also one of the rare times we hear and see real adults (it would be a little weird for the kids to travel through Europe and not have at least some adult intervention). The last Peanuts movie is one of two later ones currently not on DVD. Our copy came off of cable in 1987. It's in terrible shape - we recorded it during a thunderstorm and accidentally cut off the first 10 minutes or so, not to mention the video's been around for over 20 years - but viewable.

The final movie I dubbed as I ate my beef and summer vegetable stew for dinner was The Gnomes' Great Adventure. This was likely meant to be an introduction to the show The World of David the Gnome on Nickelodeon in the mid-late 80s. David the Gnome and his devoted friend Swift the Fox go on a series of adventures to rescue gold stolen by trolls. I don't know if this one was on video, much less DVD, so this is probably the last place I'll ever see it.

And the reason this is incredibly late is we've had a wild series of thunderstorms this evening - lightning, pouring rain, thunder that sounded like a bear growling in the woods - that's caused my Internet to go down briefly at least two or three times.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Animation Celebration

Started off today with the Saturday American Top 40 re-run. Rather appropriately for a patriotic weekend, we returned to the Bicentennial year of 1976. Hits from early September include "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee, "Let Them In" by Wings, "This Masquerade" by George Benson, "Get Closer" by Seals & Croft, "Low Down" by Boz Skaggs, "Fallin'" by Fleetwood Mac, and "Play that Funky Music" by Kool and the Gang.

The big hit song of that week began the dominance of the Bee Gees and disco, "You Should Be Dancing."

There wasn't really much going on today. The bank was surprisingly busy when I came in. There was a customer giving the cashiers a hard time and holding up the line. The one yard sale on Congress Street in Oaklyn had nothing of interest.

The Farm Market, however, was bustling. Many crops and farms still haven't recovered from Hurricane Irene. I heard several farmers mentioned that this is the last week for peaches, tomatoes, and eggplants, and the organic farmer told me that melons are done. Corn and peppers should be winding down, too.

The fall harvest is just starting to debut. I saw the first fresh pears of the season, and the orchard booth was laden with every kind of apple grown in this area. Onions and leeks are back as well. I ended up with two onions, a small acorn squash and butternut squash from the organic booth, tiny Gala apples, the last white peaches of the year, green beans, plums, and mushrooms.

I rode around looking for yard sales, but found nothing. It was getting hotter and more humid out by the minute. It was cloudy when I started out, but the sun had begun to emerge when I was at the Farm Market. I treated myself to a Pumpkin Soft Serve cone at Kayla's to cool myself off on the way home.

Spent the rest of the day at home, working on baking, putting up the general fall decorations, dressing the American Girl dolls in clothes appropriate for late summer, and dubbing DVDs. Mom let me take home all of the remaining tapes my family recorded off of cable and broadcast TV in the mid-late 80s. All of these videos date back as far as 1986, and they're beloved childhood memories.

I concentrated on the Disney and Looney Tunes items today. First in the queue was the original version of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, apparently taped off of an 80s Wonderful World of Disney broadcast from what remained of Micheal Eisner's introduction. Rabbit is fed up with Tigger's not watching where he bounces and tries to rally Pooh and Piglet to help him tame the overly excitable feline. Tigger, however, not only gets himself into trouble, but Roo as well. It's the narrator, of all people, who gets Tigger out of his pickle.

Moved to a couple of classic Mickey Mouse shorts next. I already have The Little Whirlwind, but not Hawaiian Holiday or The Brave Little Tailor. The first takes the gang to the shores of Hawaii, where Pluto battles a crab and Goofy hits the waves...and they hit back. The second is one of Mickey's very best starring vehicles, a wonderful adaptation of the fairy tale of the same title.

In 1988, my family taped several Disney holiday specials that can no longer be found anywhere else off the Disney Channel and Channel 29 (before they became a Fox affiliate - you can see their original call letters in one short promo). In fact, I've never seen The Halloween Hall of Fame on any other channel besides 29, including the Disney Channel. The Hall of Fame has Jonathan Winters playing a Disney security guard with a penchant for impersonations who is working late on Halloween night. He encounters a talking Jack O'Lantern in a crystal ball (Winters in a pumpkin head). Seems Jack doesn't like what's happened to the holiday. It just isn't spooky enough for him these days. Winters directs him to the shorts "Pluto's Judgement Day" and "Trick or Treat" and the featurette "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

This one's mostly notable for Winters' impressions and for being the only one of the three Disney Halloween specials to feature most of the "Ichabod Crane" segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

Scary Tales Halloween, like the Jonathan Winters special, looks like an episode of the Disney anthology shows of the 60s and 70s. Disney's Halloween Treat is basically the Disney Channel's expanded version of Scary Tales. Both feature a far friendlier talking pumpkin than Jonathan Winters' Jack as a host/narrator and make use of scenes from Disney movies and cartoons ranging from mildly spooky (comic sequences from Peter Pan and The Sword In the Stone) to freaky even today (the "Night at Bald Mountain" segment from Fantasia, the classic Mickey/Goofy/Donald short "Lonesome Ghosts"). Halloween Treat features a segment with the Magic Mirror (voice of Hans Conried) introducing sequences featuring some of Disney's most famous villains. (This must be from a 70s Wonderful World of Disney episode, as then-new movies like The Aristocats and The Rescuers are highlighted.)

A Disney Channel Christmas is a combination of two earlier Disney anthology show holiday specials, Jiminy Cricket's Christmas from the 50s and 60s and A Disney Christmas Gift from the 70s. Along with the inclusion of the catchy theme songs for those specials "From All of Us to All of You" and "On Christmas Morning," we get classic winter-themed shorts like "The Art of Skiing," "Donald's Snow Fight," and "Pluto's Christmas Tree," the two Santa Silly Symphonies, a few segments of Disney movies that show gift-giving or winter (Bambi learning to ice skate, Peter teaching the Darlings how to fly, Cinderella receiving her pink dress from the mice), and the touching black & white short "Mickey's Good Deed." Disney being Disney also had to throw in a segment from the then-in-theaters Mickey's Christmas Carol as a promo.

And I always get a lump in my throat when Jiminy Cricket sings "When You Wish Upon A Star" in the finale, with all of the Disney characters gathered around him.

(One of the best parts of the specials we got from broadcast TV are the inclusion of a few vintage commercials, including ones for Milky Way bars, Wendy's, CVS, the romantic fantasy/comedy Date With an Angel, and Robin's 8th and Walnut, a jewelry store that's still in downtown Philadelphia to this day.)

Worked on three Looney Tunes movies while making applesauce cookies from that healthy baking cookbook. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island, and Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales all came from HBO in the late 80s, probably around 1987-1988. Bugs Bunny/Road Runner has part of the graphics that opened HBO movies in the late 80s.

These are all collections of shorts edited around new material. Fantastic Island has Daffy and Speedy turning their deserted sandspit into paradise with the help of a wish-fulfilling well. The older shorts come into play when Daffy starts selling wishes to the rest of the Looney Tunes gang at $500 dollars a wish. Taz and Yosemite Sam are right on their tail as they search for the map they lost. This, of course, is a spoof of the early 80s TV show Fantasy Island, right down to Daffy and Speedy in their white duds. (It may also be why this is currently the only Looney Tunes movie that isn't on DVD.)

1001 Rabbit Tales also features Yosemite Sam as the villain. This time, he's a sultan who wants Bugs to read fairy tales to his spoiled son. The "fairy tales" are all cartoon segments, including Bugs rescuing Hansel and Gretel from Witch Hazel, Sylvester chasing Goldimouse and being chased by a giant, and most of "The Pied Piper of Guadalupe" with Sylvester and Speedy Gonzoles and "One Froggy Evening" featuring Michigan J. Frog.

The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie takes a far simpler approach. Bugs introduces us to his life story and the story of comedy and comic chases, via some of Chuck Jones' most famous Warners shorts. Segments from favorites like "Bully for Bugs" and "Long-Haired Hare," along with the full "Duck Amuck" and "What's Opera, Doc?", make this the best of the Looney Tunes "movies." It also proves that Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner are best seen in small doses or as part of a collection - I actually like them better here than in the Golden Collection.

Since there was a little time left on the DVD, I tossed my own newer copy of Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies on. It's the same deal as the movies - cartoons edited into a new wrap-around story - with an Easter theme. The Easter Bunny gets sick, and Granny has to find a replacement among the Tunes.

Oh, and my cooking came out well tonight. The applesauce cookies were delicious, and I made some yummy apple-peach sauce with the last of last week's farm market apples and peaches, too.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Why Do the Wrong People Travel?

The day began quite pleasantly. I got up early; browsed through Mom's Christmas craft books and wrote in my journal until about 8:30. Mom was already awake. Dad had gone out to Wildwood for the motorcycle convention again. Keefe was still in bed. He finally rolled out around quarter of 10. I watched him play video games while Mom got ready for us to head to breakfast.

Keefe, Mom, and I enjoyed a very pleasant meal at one of my family's favorite diners. The Four Seasons was a small WaWa until around 2004, when they moved to a larger building across the street. The Four Seasons opened a mere months later. We all fell in love with their tasty food and good prices when we tried it on a family outing. When I lived in Wildwood, it was one of my favorite places to eat when I'd make errand runs in Rio Grande.

All three of us had omelets, home fries, and whole wheat toast. Keefe had tomatoes, bacon, and mozzarella. I had broccoli and Swiss. Mom had spinach, tomato, and feta. Mine was delicious, just large enough, with lots of cheese and big broccoli pieces. The home fries were pretty good, too. Mom and Keefe said they loved theirs.

We drove across the street and browsed in Bed, Bath, and Beyond while waiting for my bus. Keefe and I didn't get anything. I didn't have the room. (Mom's sending several videos I told her I'd dub and the book I bought yesterday in the mail.) Mom had a coupon, so she bought a garlic bag. We oohed and ahhed over fancy knives, elaborate kitchen gadgets, and every baking pan under the sun.

They dropped me off at Dunkin' Donuts about 20 minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive...and that's when the trouble began. The first two buses to appear were going to Wildwood and the Crest Haven Complex in Cape May Courthouse. Neither were scheduled. I asked one driver where the bus to Atlantic City was, and she said I had to pick it up across the street.

Fine. I crossed Route 47, luckily making it without incident. It's one of the busiest highways in Cape May County! The bus still didn't appear. It didn't arrive until more than 40 minutes after I was left at Dunkin' Donuts.

I was good and steamed, and matters weren't helped when I realized that the bus was so crowded, people were standing in the aisle of a narrow vehicle that was made for long-distance, not local, travel. Not only that, but almost all of the occupants were college kids and young workers spending their weekend off in Atlantic City. One girl gave me a lot of attitude when I accidentally rubbed up against her. A couple of men thought they were being cute when they asked me to sit on their lap. They're lucky I didn't wallop them with my very full bag.

I did finally find a seat, and spent a cramped and frustrating hour heading to Atlantic City. And of course, by the time the bus did finally show up at the Atlantic City Train Terminal, the 2:46 I was hoping to catch had literally just pulled out of the platform. This did give me a chance to buy a pretzel and a fruit cup for a quick lunch, buy my train ticket, and make change for the bus to Oaklyn.

The train, thank heavens, arrived on time, and the trip to Lindenwald went without incident. The trouble started again when I got off and discovered I'd missed the 4:27. Naturally, the 5:07 showed up more than ten minutes after it was supposed to, and at least two buses that weren't scheduled that had the same number went by.

I didn't get in until 6:02. I was tired, frustrated, and angry. I normally would have just called it quits, but I was broke. I badly needed my paycheck. I called my parents to tell them I was home, then dumped my things, grabbed my wallet and backpack, and headed to the Acme.

Picked up my paycheck, then had a really quick Mushroom and Swiss Sandwich and a Diet Dr. Pepper at Arby's. I didn't need much at the grocery store, since I was away all week. Eggs was the big one - I was almost out. Bought a carrot Betty Crocker cake mix to replace the spice one I used last week. (I can't believe the Acme doesn't sell the Betty Crocker spice anymore!) Also grabbed a box of green tea, a jar of Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter, chocolate chips, light Vanilla ice cream for a treat to cheer me up, and more frozen fruit juice concentrate for baking experiments.

I got quite a nasty shock when I checked my schedule for next week. Not only am I working 8 1/2 hours the day I get back, but we're supposed to be learning a new computer system on the registers then, too! I'm so frustrated.

I was in tears when I came home. It had been such a long day, and my schedule just made things worse. I called Mom when I came in; I got Dad before. She said that the next time the bus doesn't show or is very late, I should just call her, and I'll either wait at her house or she and Keefe will drive me to Atlantic City.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Tourist's Life

Keefe had to be at work at the Lobster House Restaurant in Cape May by 10:30, and then he'd need the car to go to Atlantic County for a meeting with his Navy recruiting officer. Mom and I decided we'd just visit downtown Cape May in the morning and spend the afternoon at home.

Besides, the weather was horrible this morning. It was cloudy, cool, and very humid. It poured when we started out to Cape May, but by the time Keefe was jumping onto the Lobster House's gravel parking lot, the rain had softened into a mist...and it stopped even doing that as we drove into West Cape May.

Mom wanted to take a look at an antique/collectibles store, West End Garage, that had replaced the old Perry Street Video Store in West Cape May. The place was HUGE. I don't remember the store being anywhere near that big when it was one of our favorite places to rent movies. Every artist and collectibles store on the island and in the South Jersey area (and some as far away as Pennsylvania) had a section in West End Garage. There were jewelry makers of all types, landscapes from local artists, antique sellers, t-shirt printers, glass blowers, sculptors, doll clothes, hand-made and/or dyed clothes, hand-knit or crocheted items, and hand-made furniture or antique furniture that was repainted. We would have been in the store for longer than an hour if it wasn't so busy.

I found a nice little real leather change purse made by an old friend of Mom's who used to own a leather store in Cape May, a beautiful purplish-red autumn leaf sun-catcher, and the book Simple Abundance that was such a help when I took it out of the Haddon Township Library last year. I convinced Mom to buy a gorgeous hand-dyed blue and green linen scarf that was absolutely perfect for her. She loved it and said later that she was very glad I talked her into it!

We put our things away in the car (which was parked a few blocks from West End Garage near the Flying Fish Art Studio), then strolled down Perry and Sunset to the smaller of two Cape May Wicker stores. In addition to wicker furniture of every stripe, they also sell seasonal decorations and beach-related gift items. I bought a magnetic grocery list notebook for my refrigerator in a pretty poppy pattern (the yellow-patterned one I have on the fridge at home now is almost done). Mom didn't see anything she liked.

We both needed to use the bathroom, and there's only one place in Cape May that has a public restroom that's open year-round - the Comfort Station at the Washington Street Mall. After we hit there (with no line, rare on a cloudy day), we browsed in Love the Cook, a gourmet cooking store on the mall. You can tell its owned by the same people who own the Washington Inn, one of the fanciest restaurants in town where almost every place to eat is black-tie, or at least really expensive. There's lots of gourmet cookbooks and elaborate kitchen gadgets, and the prices are crazy. I did buy two Chai mixes there. (Where else am I going to find Chocolate and Raspberry Chai?)

Keefe was supposed to be done by 2:15. Like half my family, Keefe is NEVER on time. For anything. Mom says he's always doing one more thing for someone else. We walked around the Lobster House Restaurant complex until 2PM, after which we spent another half-hour sitting and listening to people ooh and ahh over the huge lobster framed in the lobby. The Lobster House is a not only a restaurant, but an actual working marina. Yes, that means the catch of the day is as fresh as you can get! They have a raw bar, a bar on a genuine boat (the Schooner American), and a tiny gift shop. The main dining area is one of the most popular in town, with some wonderful views of the wharfs on the north end of the island.

Mom and I spent the rest of the day at home. I paged through Mom's old Christmas craft books. The Christmas is Coming books from the 80s and 90s had some really wonderful crafts for kids and adults that Mom used to make with us girls and Keefe. I still have a few of the items we made. Mom said she'd only just gotten rid of others.

Mom made a delicious dinner of roast chicken, sauteed zucchini, Brussels sprouts cooked with tomatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and her divine biscuits. Anny brought Skylar over, and Dad and Keefe literally came home just as we were sitting down to eat.

(Dad apparently went to Wildwood for their fall "Roar to the Shore" motorcycle convention. Awesome. The motorcycle conventions every fall and spring were some of my favorites when I lived at the Shore. The bikers were the nicest customers at the Acme, and they were a lot of fun on the boardwalk.)

We chatted after dinner and watched Skylar and Keefe play with Sky's cool new Lego police boat. It has lots of little details, like a working hatch and a ski boat and even a criminal to catch! Once again, when Sky started getting too excited and climbing on people (including me), Anny decided it was time for them to go home.

Tomorrow, we're going to go out to breakfast before I head back to Camden County.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I'm On My Way

It was dark and cloudy when I woke up this morning, but the sun was starting to come out even as I finished my packing. When I started down the street to City Hall, where the bus to Lindenwauld picks up, the sun was overhead and it was hot, humid, and muggy, far more so than it has been in almost a month.

Thank goodness that was the worst that happened during the entire four-and-a-half-hour trip to Cape May County. In fact, the only other minor problem was part of the NJ Transit train platform at the Lindewauld station was closed. It took me a few minutes to figure out where the temporary entrance was. I had a half-hour layover there, so I had plenty of time.

I packed a lunch this morning and ate it at the same place I did last year, the patio next to Starbucks at the Walk Outlet stores in Atlantic City. Though it was still hot and humid in AC, it wasn't as bad as that morning. I had a pleasant time eating my chicken sandwich, listening to Harry Connick Jr. piped in from Starbucks, and watching the shoppers and gamblers stroll by.

Mom picked me up at the Dunkin' Donuts in Rio Grande around quarter of 3. We ran a few errands in the Shop Rite shopping center down the street, then went straight back to Mom's house. We chatted for a couple of hours and enjoyed a lovely snack of half of a tomato and avocado sandwich, strawberries, and Mom's divine chocolate chip bar cookies.

Dad came home around 5ish, and my sister Anny and her son Skylar arrived home shortly after. Skylar's a lot of fun. We played with his Duplo (large Legos for little kids) Toy Story train and a smaller train, and he showed me his huge purple Nerf gun (the thing is literally bigger than he is, and Sky's above-average tall for a seven-year-old). Dad and Anny mostly napped while NCIS blared in the background.

We all had pizza for dinner. Most of the local pizza parlors are awesome. Anny and Skylar requested a white broccoli pie, their favorite. Mom, Dad, and I had a half-pepperoni, half-peppers-and-mushroom pie. They were soo tasty.

Dad got called to the fishing boat he works at after dinner. (Something about a broken lock - he didn't sound too happy.) Skylar showed me the photos his mother took of him, her, and her friend when they visited upstate New York near Lake Ontario a few weeks ago. They were absolutely gorgeous, especially the shots Anny got of an amazing sunset on a cliff where a really nice playground was.

When Skylar started climbing on his mother, we knew it was time for him to go home. He has school tomorrow, and his mom works the graveyard shift at Big Lots in North Cape May. I'm going to go downstairs and get some ice cream. Tomorrow, it sounds like we're either going to go shopping in Cape May or explore the big wicker store nearby.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Rain, the Walk, and Other Things

It was raining when I first woke up this morning and continued to rain as I ate cereal and honeydew melon for breakfast. No matter. I packed my navy-blue carry-on bag that I use for short trips first. I wanted to see if I needed any new travel-sized items. As it turned out, I did. My shampoo ran out last year, and I needed deodorant, too.

It let up enough for me to head to the Oaklyn Library around 10:30. Some older ladies were preparing to watch a movie as I worked on organizing the DVDs. (The adults' section wasn't too bad, but the kids were a mess.) I heard the strains of Frank Sinatra singing "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" as I moved over to the children's section to work on shelving books. The ladies chose well - they were running Pal Joey, a late 50s vehicle for Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Kim Novak that I once saw part of on TCM. The movie is a warmed-over version of the tougher Broadway show about a heel and the ladies who sort-of love him, but the Rogers and Hart music is marvelous. I couldn't help singing along softly, even after I headed out.

The rain had slowed down by the time I got home. I went upstairs for a half-hour to do a few things. Alas, when I came back down, it had picked up to monsoon levels. I started out, but finally decided I've spent far too much time being wet this summer. I ended up waiting it out on my landlady Miss Ellie's porch instead.

I'm glad I did. The mailman finally arrived while I watched the downpour give Miss Ellie's garden a drink. I brought the last of three holiday DVDs I ordered in late August. I'm trying to replace as many DVDs as I can afford to right now. I picked up two hard-to-find Disney Winnie the Pooh holiday-related discs, A Valentine for You and Seasons of Giving, and the only Sony-owned Rankin Bass special I wasn't able to find in this area on DVD, Cricket on the Hearth, on Valentine and Cricket arrived last week, but Seasons of Giving was coming from South Carolina and likely was delayed by Hurricane Irene. It's a favorite of mine (the charming Pooh Thanksgiving special makes up the middle portion) and I was very glad to have it.

The rain let up enough for me to run a few errands in the Oaklyn area. I went down the street to Phillies' Phatties, a pizzeria on the same block as Doria's Deli and Leo's Yum Yums on West Clinton. I ate a turkey wrap while the teenage boys around me spent their last afternoon before school begins watching Jerry Springer.

Strolled to CVS on the White Horse Pike across from Newton River Park next. In addition to the travel items, I also grabbed mouthwash on sale and brush picks. They had small bags of Cranberry Trail Mix on the counter as you came in that I thought would be perfect for a snack on the road tomorrow. Picked up a bag of whole wheat pretzels, too.

The rain was picking up again. I got a bit wet this time as I headed over the hill and down to Dad and Uncle Ken's to say "hi" before I leave and pick up the pan used for the cake on Sunday. Dolores and Uncle Ken were watching the History Channel. Dad was working on something upstairs. I gave them most of the remaining Apple Spice Cake and took a few pieces home for me. The rain was so bad by this point, Dad drove me home.

This time, I got the message. I stayed at home for the rest of the afternoon as the rain continued off and on. To cheer myself up, I baked an Apple Strudel Coffee Cake from the sugarless baking cookbook I picked up on Saturday and ran movies.

I went into more detail about the Ken Russell version of The Boy Friend when I found the video in early April. If you have the video, by all means, upgrade to the Warner Archives version. This is one of the few Archives titles that was remastered, and it shows. This huge musical with its bizarre Busby Berkley-style numbers really needs the widescreen format to be appreciated. The colors look far better than on the older video copies, too, making this seem all the more like the late 20s-early 30s extravaganzas it's spoofing.

When The Boy Friend ended, I decided to go right into the film that at least partially inspired it. 42nd Street is a landmark film for a number of reasons. Warner Bros had stopped making musicals after over-saturating the market with them in 1929 and 1930. When they did decide to try a musical again, the studio was a changed place. People like Winnie Lightener had been replaced by tougher, harder-edged urban types who would give the studio its rough-hewn image for fifteen years.

The world was a changed place, too. The movie came out in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. People who saw earlier musicals as useless frivolity were now ready to embrace them as the ultimate blues-chasers. Musicals were ready to make a comeback, but with a slightly harder edge. The people in 42nd Street, from Warner Baxter's driven director to Ruby Keeler's just-off-the-train ingenue to Bebe Daniels' diva, are desperate that this show, this job will make their careers and save them from the breadline...or worse. But when Daniels breaks her ankle, can Keeler step in?

This is where many of the cliches of the backstage world spoofed in The Boy Friend debuted, from the chorus girl replacing the star to the numbers being huge affairs that have little to do with the actual show they represent. The title number and "Young and Healthy" are the most celebrated Berkley showcases here, especially the geometric formations and "camera under the girls' legs" shot that Boy Friend copied.

Actually, my favorites are the hilarious chorus girls with hearts of gold who befriend Keeler, Una Merkel and Ginger Rogers. They get the best lines, too - "Whatdya want me to do, bite my nails?" "You have the busiest hands!" "Philadelphia PA." "Yeah, and on Sundays, it's PU."

Tossed on a Muppet Show episode while I had a cheese omelet and ratatouille for dinner. I figured the episode Twiggy guest-starred in during the first season would nicely compliment the rest of the evening. The highlight is Twiggy's charming performance of the AA Milne poem "The King's Breakfast."

Monday, September 05, 2011

Last Day of Work

Happy Labor Day! And yes, today was my last day of work. I have a regular day off tomorrow, and then - vacation! I did get some things done today before work, too. First thing on the agenda was the laundry. It was a very small load that took less than an hour to do. Good thing, because the laundromat was busy with people doing their chores on their holiday off. I'm glad I managed to get a drier and washer.

After I got home and put everything away, I decided to sweep the porch before we get that rain the National Weather Service mentioned. It doesn't look anywhere near as bad out there as it did last month. The nuts that made such a mess a few weeks ago seem to have finally subsided. I have seen the first (huge) acorns of the season, but they haven't reached critical mass yet and probably won't for another month or so.

Ran several Three Stooges shorts about working and jobs as I ate leftovers for lunch. "Termites of 1938" have them playing exterminators who are mistaken for escorts. "Violent Is the Word for Curly" takes them to a girl's college, where they teach them their famous "Swinging the Alphabet" song. "Dizzy Doctors" has them peddling Brighto...but what IS Brighto? When they figure it out, they take their wares to a hospital, where they wreck havoc on the patients. In "Playing the Ponies," they trade their diner for a horse who turns out to be a dud...until he nibbles on Curly's chili peppers! They're janitors who are mistaken for interior decorators in "Tassels In the Air," but the house may need more than redecorating when they're through with it!

Headed for work after the Stooges ended (and after dropping a bag of clothes in the donation bins behind the Acme. Work was busy for most of the night. First of all, it's still the beginning of the month. Second, many local families were shopping for the first day of school. We had long lines and large orders all evening.

It was raining lightly when I got out. It must have just started. I barely got wet. I don't think it's even doing that now.

(And sorry this is so late, but my internet went down for two hours. There must be storms in the area of the signal.)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Apple of My Cake

Started off a cloudy, humid morning with Brunch With the Beatles. The Beatles' second movie Help! was in the spotlight today. It's my favorite of their film endeavors, and certainly the funniest. From the album of that title we heard the title song, "Ticket to Ride," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "Another Girl," "You're Gonna Lose That Girl," "Act Naturally," and one that was intended for Ringo but cut and not released until recently, "If Ya Got Trouble."

I made some delicious Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes for breakfast, then called Mom. I'll be leaving for Cape May County Wednesday morning to visit her, Dad, and Keefe for three days. They're all just fine. Cape May County actually got less flooding than here for once. They've had so little rain, all but the barrier islands like Wildwood that get waterlogged if you whisper about it were spared major damage. Mom says two days after Irene left, you'd barely know there was a hurricane in the area.

She also confirmed what I suspected from talking to customers. Many people in my area have decided to make up for lost time and take their Labor Day weekends at the beach. Mom said the traffic in Rio Grande was really horrible when she was running errands there. It's where two of the major highways in Cape May County, Route 45 and Route 9, meet, and the home of most of the largest local shopping centers as well.

I ran records while working on a surprise for Dad and Jodie's Labor Day dinner: an Apple-Spice Cake, made with Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix. I like to use cake mixes for large gatherings because they tend to make more. I made it a little healthier with egg whites, buttermilk, a few tablespoons of fruit juice concentrate, and a farm market apple cut into chunks. It came out beautifully, spicy and sweet.

Headed for work shortly after the cake came out of the oven. Work was busy for most of the day, more so than yesterday but still not too bad. It went by far more quickly than it has of late.

As soon as I got home, I used the bathroom, changed my shirt, grabbed the cake, and rode my bike over to Dad's for a Labor Day dinner. Dad was working on the grill when I arrived. His girlfriend Jodie, my sister Rose, her boyfriend Craig, their son Khai, my stepsister Jessa, and her boyfriend Bobby were all inside, watching Spongebob Squarepants and playing with toddler Khai.

Dinner was delicious. Jodie made her famous ribs that are so tender, the meat literally falls off the bone. She also made asparagus sauteed with garlic. Dad grilled a huge zucchini someone in Cape May gave him and Jodie. That was my favorite part of the meal. Zucchini tastes great grilled - it really brings out its flavors. There was macaroni salad, too. My cake was quite well-received for dessert. Dad's neighbor Sandy visited in time to try some cake and chat with the family.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Fruits of Labor

Started out a cloudy, cool, humid morning with most of the American Top 40. We couldn't be much more 80s than today's Top 40, early September 1985. Among the songs that delighted the US during Labor Day Weekend that year were were "Invincible" by Pat Benetar, "Freeway of Love" by Aretha Franklin, "Summer of 69" by Bryan Adams, "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" by Billy Joel, "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner, and "Billy Don't You Lose My Number" by Phil Collins.

There actually were some yard sales this week, which I didn't expect on a holiday weekend. I saw two in Oaklyn, one in Collingswood near Westmont, and one in Audubon. And unlike last week, I found a few items I liked. Picked up two records (Doris Day and a Fats Domino Greatest Hits two-disc set) at one of the ones in Oaklyn and a really interesting cookbook about low-fat and low-sugar baking from the Audubon sale.

I didn't need much at the farm market this week. I'll be going away for part of the week. It's definitely getting close to fall; I saw the first pumpkins, winter squash, and gourds of the season. I also saw the results of Hurricane Irene last week. At least two regular farm stands were missing because their fields were so flooded, they couldn't pick their crop. I just ended up with apples, grapes, a small organic honeydew melon (small enough for just me), and a jar of apple butter for a present.

When I got home, I had leftovers for lunch, listened to CDs, and read that cookbook. The book suggests using fruit juice concentrate as a sugar substitute. I liked that idea so much, I bought two containers of 100% frozen fruit juice tonight. It's a win-win situation. If it works, it works. If not, I'll just make it into juice.

Did the budget before heading out to work. I spent a ton last month, partially because of needing contacts and that mall trip. It shouldn't be quite as bad this month - no contacts needed, and unless there's an emergency, I don't have a mall trip planned. (I do want to go into Philly during my vacation, but it'll be a while before I really need clothes again.)

Work was on-and-off steady. Other than some annoying beginning-of-the-month customers, it wasn't too bad. I think a lot of people already went down to the Shore for their vacations, including people making up for time lost to Hurricane Irene last week. Worked on restocking candy between customers.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Moving Forward

Unlike the mess last Friday, I'm pretty happy with myself right now. For one thing, I donated the other half of the videos I'm getting rid of to the Oaklyn Library for their Book Sale and Flea Market on the 17th. I also got a lot done there. Organized the DVDs, then shelved and organized lots of kids' books.

Went home right after I finished and did more organizing in the Back Room, which is my equivalent of most people's attics or basements. I pulled out more electronics I don't need and probably won't need - a wired phone and answering machine (my current phone has a built-in machine and is wireless), the 80s Nintendo and its accessories that never really worked anyway, the A Drive, and the Zip drive. I'll leave them all on the curb tomorrow. I moved the box with the Star Wars action figures I didn't put on my display shelf in with the other doll boxes, then put the two large shaped cake pans and the container with the 100 plastic cookie cutters where the box was. The box with the Christmas cards was moved in with the other holiday wrapping items.

After that, I went briefly on the computer and updated the list of things to do I made last spring. First of all, removing the old TV and computer last month has inspired me to clear out anything I really and truly don't use anymore. In addition to organizing the back room, I'd like to go through my closets this fall as well and see what I can do to better-organize those. I want to buy boxes for the CDs and move them from the crates, which will be used for records. Home-made DVDs will go in CD books. Commercial DVDs will stay where they are for the time being. They don't take up quite as much room. I need a better shelf for books and games than the plastic one in the living room, too. Also want to clear out as many videos as possible that can be replaced or dubbed, because those DO take up room.

I need to start working towards starting a business, too. I want some income away from the Acme. The trouble is, I have no idea what I really want to do. Something with organizing and writing, but what? And then I have to advertise it. We'll continue to work on that.

I had a quick lunch while watching the last of Danger Mouse. The final episode of that series was one of the most bizarre in a series noted for its crazy plots. A white planet wants to use the Milky Way Galaxy for an out-of-this-world game of billiards...and Earth is next! Can Danger Mouse and Penfold find a very fast and sensible way to save the planet?

Thank heavens work was a lot less crazy than it was last Friday! It was on-and-off busy, nothing too horrible. In fact, I figured it would be a lot worse. I guess everyone went down to the Shore already. I restocked candy between customers.

My shopping trip afterwards was quick. I mostly just needed to grab more baking items - whole wheat flour, corn meal, and canola oil. Also needed yogurt, ground chicken (they didn't have any last week, and it was on sale), and lemon juice.

And I'm very happy with my schedule next week. I only work until 5:30 on Sunday and 7 on Monday, then I'm off Tuesday, and Wednesday will be the start of my second vacation week! I'll be spending Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in Cape May County with Mom, Dad, and Keefe, then doing things in the area and around the apartment on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I can't wait! I really need the time off.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Baker's Balance

Started off a lovely day with yoga. Karin went on vacation, so Micki took over a surprisingly small class. I figured everyone would want to take class before the holiday weekend, but I guess a lot of people already left. We worked on hip openers and standing poses. My knee's been pretty sore lately, though, so I didn't do a lot of this easily. I guess I must have pulled a muscle at work.

The Collingswood Library was a little busier than the Haddon Township Library on Tuesday. There were some DVDs to return, and more kept coming in. The shelves needed to be organized rather badly as well.

Went straight home after I finished. I spent the rest of the afternoon at my place. I did things online. I baked Chocolate Brownie Cookies, inspired by the soft, dark chocolate-chocolate chip cookies I sold at work. I used a slightly revised version of a Fudgy Brownie recipe. They came out very well, very moist and rich.

Ran Danger Mouse for a lot of the afternoon. The show just keeps getting weirder and weirder. One episode had Penfold's aunt inadvertently rescue the duo from a group of ant natives who want to sacrifice Penfold to their gods. Another had a villain transfer the two, the top of Big Ben, and a heard of elephants to...literally nowhere. A vacuum. (Also known as "The BBC must have cut the budget again.") Still another has Baron Greenback use pillows filled with sneezing powder and a microchip to overcome the duo and try to take over the world.

I wish I'd stayed with Danger Mouse. Strange world domination plots beats the heck out of handling obnoxious beginning-of-the-month people. One couple fussed at me when they didn't realize they couldn't pay for their pre-cooked fried chicken with their food stamp card. An older woman threw a fit when she thought a cantaloupe was 99 cents. It wasn't, of course, but I gave it to her anyway because it was better than arguing with her. I hate arguing with people. It only causes trouble and makes people angry with you.