Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This Is Halloween

Happy Halloween, whether you had trick-or-treaters to attend to today or not! Our trick-or-treating is being held off on until Saturday. Oaklyn may have weathered Hurricane Sandy better than most, but there's still a lot of downed trees and limbs to be cleared. Maybe it's just as well. I still need to throw a costume together to help Dad and Jodie give out candy.

I spent most of the day making up for the lack of kids with Halloween-themed programming. Started off with three fall-oriented Max & Ruby tales. In "Max's Halloween," Ruby wants her brother to be a prince to her Cinderella, but Max would rather be a spooky vampire. Max is an enthusiastic leaf collector in "Ruby's Leaf Collection," but Ruby wishes he'd stop burying her school assignment in his leaf pile. Both bunnies get quite a scare in "The Blue Tarantula," when the book Ruby reads to Max before bedtime about a rabbit-eating insect proves to be too much for their imaginations!

Max and Ruby aren't the only ones who are spooked by Halloween. Garfield and Odie also have a frightening encounter with some ghoulish characters in Garfield's Halloween Adventure. Garfield and Odie are out trick-or-treating dressed as pirates, but their night takes at turn for the scarier themselves stranded on an island with no candy and real ghostly pirates after their treasure.

The Grinch may be best-known for trying to steal Christmas, but he's been out at Halloween, too. In Halloween Is Grinch Night, a sour sweet wind sends Dr. Seuss' nastiest villain on the prowl. Inquisitive Eukeriah Who takes it on himself to make sure that the Grinch never reaches Whoville with his cart filled with wild psychedelic scares.

Bugs Bunny's Howl-Oween Special and Disney's Halloween Treat are bits and pieces of, respectively, Looney Tunes and Disney shorts. Howl-Oween has Witch Hazel chasing Bugs through several classic horror-and-Halloween-oriented shorts. Halloween Treat is an old copy of a Disney Channel Halloween special from the 80s that combines Halloween-oriented episodes of several different Disney TV anthologies with additional material, including the full versions of the classic shorts Lonesome Ghosts (with Micky, Donald, and Goofy as the original ghost busters) and Trick or Treat (another Witch Hazel helps Huey, Dewey, and Louie get treats out of their trickster uncle).

Not everyone appreciates the spookier side of the holiday. In Boo to You, Too!, Piglet is so scared by his friends' Halloween costumes, he refuses to go out for trick-or-treats with them. Winnie the Pooh decides that they shall simply have a "Hallo-wasn't" and do without costumes. Tigger, Gopher, and Eeyore cry foul and convince Pooh to help them prove to Piglet that Halloween is nothing to be afraid of

The best-known of all classic Halloween specials is by far It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Linus is determined to await the title character, whom he believes brings treats to all good little children, in a sincere pumpkin patch. Against her better judgement, Sally joins him. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown has his own problems with trick-or-treating and Halloween parties. Snoopy's more interested in fighting World War I than in Halloween festivities.

Piglet isn't the only one easily spooked by horror. Blood and guts scares leave me queasy, and even less overly gory scares can give me the willies for weeks. No, I'd rather laugh at my fears and enjoy the ghoulish atmosphere in comedies like Arsenic and Old Lace, which I ran while having a soup I threw together from leftovers and water I'd put aside for the hurricane for dinner.

Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) is a drama critic who just got married to the sweet girl next door (Priscilla Lane). He's the lone sane man in a family full of loonies. His two sweet elderly aunts (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) have been poisoning lonely men and burying them in the basement. Their nephew (John Alexander) thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. His brother (Raymond Massey) is a homicidal maniac who turns up with his own body and a face reconstructed by a jittery German doctor (Peter Lorre). And the local cop (Jack Carson) just isn't buying his story. Mortimer has only one very busy Halloween night to get all the murders and bodies sorted out and keep his impatient new wife from figuring out what's going on!

If you love black comedy, this should be high on your list of must-sees. It was based after a smash-hit stage comedies, but unlike most stage-to-screen transfers, it never feels confining. Everyone is spot-on, from Adair and Hull (repeating their original stage roles), to a frantic Grant, to perfectly ghoulish Massey and Lorre, to Carson as the cop who can't believe these nice people would be that crazy. Highly recommended for fans of Grant, Lorre, or wacky comedies with a dark streak.

I ran errands and did a few things around the apartment between comedies. Took as good of a look around the house as I could with my ankle. Everything seems to be in good shape. The rickety steps to the garden from Miss Ellie's porch held. There were lots of huge branches strewn everywhere, including some doozies in the path...but the side of the house where my bedroom is that borders the path is brick. It would take a lot more than one branch to harm that!

My money was more troubling. I got my disability money today...all eighty dollars of it. I was expecting a LOT more. Not only that, but it came in a card, not a check. I activated the card, but I need to call the State and find out what's going on. I can't live on eighty dollars every two weeks!

I did get to the Acme with Dad. I'd put it off again. I just don't have any money right now. I needed a lot - chicken, fish, sugar (brown and white), fruit concentrate, eggs, cake mix, cornstarch, cereal (I had a coupon for Chex - got Corn Chex), sweet potatoes and apples and romaine lettuce. And I still forgot a lot of things!

One of the big things I did remember was two bags of dollar peppermint drops. Yes, my stomach is still feeling a bit off, though the fever's gone and it's not quite as bad as yesterday. Hopefully, I'll be fully recovered by the weekend.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stomach Troubles

Ugh. I awoke at 5AM with stomach pains. I spent a half-hour in the bathroom before I finally made it back to bed. I felt awful, nauseous and chilled. I slept until 9:30...and then didn't want to get out of my nice, warm bed for another hour.

The weather wasn't too bad. It was still a little windy, but the rain had subsided into clouds. In fact, it hasn't rained since around 10 last night. There were leaves and branches on my porch and front lawn, but as far as I could tell, no trees were down. (I'll take a look at the side path tomorrow, when I'm feeling better.)

Finished Young Frankenstein while trying to eat slices of Cornmeal Baguettes spread with cranberry-pear butter. I then went online to check on friends and family who were in the path of the storm, and called everyone in the area. Almost everyone had survived. My folks in Cape May County and Matt, the proprietor of Dinosaur Dracula, lost power, but Matt says he weathered the storm better than his neighbors, and Mom says a downed tree landed on a line. Bruce and Jodie had no problems whatsoever, including downed limbs and losing power. Rose had a cold, but was otherwise fine. Ms. Krah in Wildwood had flooding problems but seems to be ok now.

I worked my way through Maiden Voyage for another hour or so. Chapters involving storms, the ship tossing about, and lots of eating was doing nothing for my delicate condition, so I put it aside and decided to try an idea of Mom's. I don't have any peppermint candies, so I added some peppermint extract to hot water. While it cooled, I took a nap.

After my nap, I sipped my water, made chicken broth, honey on a wrap, and canned peaches for dinner, and watched the bizarre Rankin-Bass full length cartoon Mad Monster Party? After that ended, I thought the Tiny Toons Adventures episode "Strange Tales of Weird Science" was appropriate.

In three wacky tales of science gone awry, the Toons demonstrate why some scientific concepts are best left on the shelf. In the first story, poor Hampton is accidentally doused with a chemical that enhances scent, making Hampton an irresistible bit of ham to everyone around him...including his best friend Plucky. The second story has Sweetie trying to brainwash Furball into chasing Arnold the Pit Bull instead of her. And the third marks the original appearance of Plucky's "Toxic Revenger" character as he tries to get Montana Max to remove his factory's backwash from Plucky's swamp.

I hope those of you who were in the path of Hurricane Sandy came through it unscathed, too.
Disney's Halloween Treat at School

Here's a cute vintage Disney educational short that uses the pumpkin host and some segments from Disney's Halloween Treat. It's pretty interesting, especially if you grew up when I did in the 80s, when this would have been run on a strip projector.

Disney's Haunted Halloween

And here's a short from 2000 that has the Donald giving Huey, Dewey, and Louie a good scare!

Donald's Halloween Scare

More vintage 80s fun from The Disney Channel - some very 80s music videos from Disney's DTV show! Get ready to scare up some Monster Hits!

DTV's Monster Hits

Monday, October 29, 2012

Eye of the Hurricane

The weather was already bad when I got up this morning. It was pouring and gusty, with dark clouds in the sky. I spent most of the morning in front of my computer, checking on everyone I know. As far as I can tell, only a few people are left in Wildwood, my good friend Kelly and her family and a former middle school teacher, Ms. Krah. Everyone else has fled the barrier islands for higher ground...which is understandable. According to Yahoo! and local newscasts, New York and the Jersey Shore are supposed to get it the worst. Half the Shore is already underwater, including a lot of Ocean City, Avalon, and Stone Harbor. 

The phone ran around 12:30. My sister Rose was on the other end, asking me if I wanted to join her, Craig, and Khai at Dad's house for a little while. She wanted to let Khai get his energy out in a larger space before the storm really started picking up later that night. Sure, why not? It might not hurt to spend a couple of hours with people before the weather became too nasty to travel in.

I went downstairs a little early. The wild gusts were against my back, which means I was able to carry my umbrella with no problems, at least downstairs. I had my blue raincoat, too. A police officer checking out the roads saw me as I was waiting for Rose and asked if there was nothing wrong. I told her no, I was waiting for my sister, I was ok. I did thank her for asking.

They picked me up about ten minutes later. Thankfully, everything was fine, as far as I could tell. Dad's house is on a hill overlooking Newton River. The water was just coming to the top of the fishing dock on the bottom of the hill. The train underpass between Manheim and Manor Avenues was clear - that's usually the first place that floods when the rivers rise. Jodie mentioned they'd cleared it out over the summer; hopefully, it won't flood as bad as it used to.

We had a pleasant couple of hours over there. Khai got to let off steam to his heart's content, while Rose ran Disney Junior On Demand cartoons for him. The kid has good taste. The first three shows we watched were episodes of Little Einstein, which I discovered last year and enjoyed. The first had the kids and a Little Red Engine trying to catch nasty Big Jet, who has stolen the Red Engine's bag of party favors for his friends' hoedown. The second, slightly more Halloween-oriented had the kids helping an adorable one-eyed red monster rescue his friends from the grumpy Loch Ness Monster. The kids helped a trio of cutie-pie pigs make their garden grow in the third.

Doc McStuffins, on the other hand, is new to me. I love the premise, though. The young lady of the title wants to be a doctor like her mom, so she dons a white jacket and play stethoscope and calls herself "Doc." That "play" stethoscope is magic and allows her beloved stuffed animals to talk to her and for other toys to tell her when there's something wrong. I can see why this show has apparently been a big hit. It's awfully cute. In the first episode, Doc and her crew helps a mother possum find her babies, who have come off from the Velcro on her back. The second has Doc and her toy friends Lamby the Lamb and Stuffy the Dragon rescuing a Care Bear-like rabbit from a yard sale. The poor bunny is upset that her human wanted to give her away, but Doc fixes her up and reminds her that true friends would never abandon you that way.

They finally dropped me off at my apartment around 3:30. I worked on the cookbook inventory until I got a surprise - Lauren came on around 4. I don't usually get to chat with her until 7:30 or 8PM! We talked and worked on Three Stooges stories until I told her I needed a shower and something for dinner.

I was just starting leftover Merlin's Chicken and vegetables for dinner when suddenly, the power went out. Thank heavens we lost it for less than a minute. It was really spooky. It's flickered a few times since then, but hasn't gone completely out at press time.

I ran the first half of Young Frankenstein during dinner. The title character is Fredrick, the grandson of the famous Dr. Frankenstein, of book and movie fame (Gene Wilder). He initially wants nothing to do with his grandfather's infamous experiments on the dead...until he inherits Grandfather's estates and holdings, including all of his lab equipment and books. He finally picks up where his grandfather left off by bringing a dead criminal back to life. A mistake his assistant Igor (Marty Feldman) makes with brains leaves his monster a damaged creature...and Fredrick a dead duck with frightened locals and his stuffy fiancee (Madeline Khan).

One of Mel Brooks' best and most atmospheric spoofs, helped by the use of the lab sets from the original Universal Frankenstein. Just spooky enough to be fun for horror buffs and fans of Brooks or Wilder.

Sandy was supposed to make landfall in the area sometime tonight. I heard anything from 8PM to midnight when I was at Dad's. All I know is the wind is still going insane out there, and it's still raining. Everyone in the path of the storm stay safe and be careful!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

When the Rains Came

I slept so late this morning, it was quarter of 11 before I dragged myself out of bed...and then only because the phone was ringing. Jodie asked me if I still wanted to go over to Dad's house to watch the Eagles-Falcons game and do my laundry. I said sure, why not? It would be a nice way to enjoy a gloomy afternoon, and I did need to get my clothes clean, especially if we're going to run into bad weather and lose water.

Made a very quick breakfast of Pear-Honey Pancakes while listening to Brunch With the Beatles. The busy year 1964 was in the spotlight today, with songs from the Beatles' first year of real worldwide fame. Some of their most famous music (and their first movie) came out that year - "A Hard Day's Night," "If I Fell," "All My Loving," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," and "Can't Buy Me Love." 

I called Mom as the Beatles were winding down. She was fine. Dad was home, thank goodness. Turns out the boat he works on as a commercial fisherman had broken down well before the storm, and he'd been in for days. They live in the middle of Lower Township in Cape May County, well away from any water and next-door to the county airport, so flooding wasn't a concern. They have a small generator that will keep their refrigerator and freezer going if they lose electricity and have stockpiled all the usual necessities. My sister Anny and her son Skylar will be staying with them; they live near the Bay in the Villas, which is prone to flooding. Sky's out of school for the next two days, so he'll be around, but I imagine Anny probably still has work at Big Lots, unless it gets so bad down there they actually close.

Jodie picked me up early, around quarter after 12. I spent most of a very quiet afternoon chatting with her and Dad and watching the game. The game didn't go well. The Falcons have been killing everyone all season, including us. I got so tired of listening to Dad fuss about how badly the game was going, I went down to the den and watched the rest of the game alone, going through the baskets of toys and kids' books probably kept for Khai and Samantha's family. 

(Dad ended up being right - the Eagles did finally lose, 30-17 - not great, but not as bad as I figured it would be. He did have one reason to smile - the Dolphins pounded the Jets, 30-7.)

Jodie's friend Erica arrived around 3:30-4PM. By that time, the rain had arrived, too. The weather for most of the morning had been just like yesterday - cloudy and windy, but nothing out of the ordinary for October in southern New Jersey. Mom said it was sprinkling in Erma when I called her. By 4:30, the rain had become a nice, steady shower. I had a bowl of chili that had been bubbling on the stove all afternoon, then went home with Jodie, Erica, and my (now clean) laundry.

Spent the rest of a quiet evening reading Maiden Voyage on my loveseat while snuggled under the thick green blanket Mom knitted me years ago. The rain started coming down harder shortly after I got  home, and continued that way for the rest of the evening. Most weather forecasts, including the National Weather Service, says the worst of the storm here will be tomorrow through Tuesday afternoon. We'll see what happens. At press time, it's not even raining anymore, just cold and windy.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Happenings and Hurricane Preparations

Started off today with this week's American Top 40 re-run. Casey hopped back a decade to 1976 as disco sneaked in amid the ballads, novelty numbers, and R&B. Hits the day before Halloween that year included "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" by KC and the Sunshine Band, "Muskrat Love" by the Captain and Tennile, "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry, the Bay City Rollers' remake of "I Only Wanna Be With You," "Beth" by KISS, "Don't Fear the Reaper" by the Blue Oyster Cult, "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees, "Rock 'n Me" by the Steve Miller Band, "A Fifth of Beethoven"  by the Walter Murray Orchestra, and "Fernando" by ABBA. Chicago got their first number one hit that week with "If You Leave Me Now."

I spent the morning having fun with the dolls. I did a photo story showing the fuzzy and plastic residents of the Riverside Rest helping me prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. The storm was originally supposed to hit this afternoon, but now they're saying early tomorrow morning. Whatever. We'll see what actually happens. I also dressed the American Girls in costumes for Halloween.

Hurricanes and Halloween at the Riverside Rest

I went online briefly after lunch to check the weather forecasts and upload my pictures. Spent the next hour finishing up the outdoor hurricane prep. I swept the porch (at least one layer of leaves will be gone), then went downstairs. Retrieved the mail, then moved the bike and trash cans to front porch, which is under a roof overhang and hidden by the many trees around the apartment. Stacked the chairs and blue milk crate I use for a table. They should be fine on my porch.

I was making Cranberry-Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins when Andrew, my landlord, arrived. He was bringing over the new carbon monoxide detector. Instead of being round like the last one, it's rectangular...but it works just the same. He said he won't be able to do anything with the house, sell it or rent it out to someone else, until at least next summer or possibly even later. I hope no one minds if I stay. I don't have too many other places I can live.

Ran two semi-horror-oriented animated films throughout the afternoon. Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit have the famous English inventing duo in the rabbit-catching business. Their humane suction methods of catching bunnies is a big hit with their vegetable-loving village, but it's leaving them with the problem of where to put them. Wallace's attempt to brainwash the bunnies into rejecting vegetables goes haywire and creates a "were-rabbit" that terrorizes the village and eats every large vegetable in sight. Gromit initially believes it's one of the captured rabbits, but then he sees a few things that makes him wonder why his buddy's been so interested in eating vegetables lately...

I've only seen one Wallace & Gromit short (the one about their trip to the moon). This was my first real introduction to them, and I really liked it. Gromit in particular is an amazing creation. You'd never believe how much expression one can get out of a stop-motion dog with no mouth.

Switched to The Black Cauldron and more traditional animation while making a cake and during dinner. Taran is a teenage boy living in a dark fantasy world ruled by the frightening Horned King. He's not thrilled about being stuck taking care of a pig when he'd rather be a warrior. He gets his chance to show what he's made out of when he has to take the pig and flee the Horned King, who wants her oracular powers to find the fabled container of the title. On his journey, he loses and finds the pig, discovers a magic sword, befriends a tough princess and a bard with a truth-telling harp, and learns a rather important lesson about the importance of friendship and of responsibility.

Though technically a fantasy film, the atmosphere is spooky enough for me to have watched this every Halloween season for the last five years or so. Fantasy violence and the general scary feel makes Disney's first PG rated film inappropriate for the youngest members of the family. Older kids and adults who think they've seen every Disney movie might be willing to give this one a shot.

Between movies, I heard laughter and delighted screaming in the park. I pulled on my bright blue jacket and went next-door. A group of Girl Scouts and their den mothers, probably the same group who had the ornament-painting booth at the Town Picnic, were playing Halloween-oriented games. When I watched them, they did a relay where one girl had to pass a costume along to the next. The first group to sit down won.

After they finished, they moved across the street to the VFW building. While a den mother set up grill for s'mores, the older girls sang "pumpkin carols" (regular songs reworked with Halloween-y lyrics). They were really cute. They must have had a great time. I heard them across the street until around 7 or 8PM.

Oh, and as of right now, Hurricane Sandy still hasn't hit. It was windy and on-and-off cloudy all day, but otherwise not out of the ordinary for late October in Southern New Jersey. Last time I looked, we were supposed to get the first showers early tomorrow morning. Jodie called earlier and asked if I wanted to go over to Dad's house for the next few days and wait out the storm. I told her I'd probably be better off at my place, but I would watch the Eagles game with them tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Who Ya Gonna Call?

I mostly had chores planned for today. The apartment needed to be dusted as well as it could be given my current condition. Some parts were worse than others. Anything that's in a windowless corner tends to be bad. The corner where the TV and VCR sit always attracts dust like crazy. The cobwebs are still pretty bad, too. Jodie said she'd had problems with spiders and mosquitoes at her house as well, and she'd also battled ants. Thank goodness I haven't had problems with ants in at least two or three years.

Swept the porch after lunch. I know I just did it a few days ago, but first of all, I don't want it to pile up again. Second, I have to keep it constantly swept in the fall, or I end up ankle-deep in leaves. And third, Hurricane Sandy is supposed to hit here on Sunday, and leaves tend to get slippery. The storm's going to add enough as it is.

Hung out online for a while after finishing my dusting, then made Broiled Golden Salmon (a salmon steak placed in the broiler and rubbed with grated onion, butter, lemon juice, and marjoram) and roasted Brussels sprouts and green beans, with the last of the CranApple Fold Over Pie for dessert. Ran the first Ghostbusters while I ate. Three scientists (Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis) recently fired from Columbia University go into business for themselves as paranormal investigators...aka, ghost catchers. Their first customer is an attractive musician (Sigorney Weaver) who has heard voices and seen things breaking and moving around in her apartment.

They don't buy her stories at first, until their business suddenly takes off. They find themselves trapping so many spooks and specters, they even have to hire another guy to help out (Ernie Hudson). Everything seems to lead back to Weaver and her spooky building, especially after Murray arrives to find her and her nerdy neighbor (Rick Moranis) possessed by demons. The demons want to open the gate for an evil god from a prehistoric world. Can the Ghostbusters dodge smarmy government officials and giant marshmallow men to save the day?

One of the seminal comedies of the 80s, the biggest hit of 1984 is a longtime favorite of mine. Overflowing with great lines, hilarious gags, and special effects that still wow today, this is still a no-brainer must-have. My favorite lines will always be this supposed ad-lib between Murray and Ramis:

Peter: Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole through your head.
Egon: That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Another Two Weeks

Actually, I spent most of a gloomy, chilly day working on my inventories. I wanted to get the cassettes done today. I don't really have all that many left. As it turns out, I have a little over 50, nothing compared to the massive stacks of DVDs, CDs, and records I have. I'm trying to clear out videos and cassettes. For one thing, they're outdated. Cassettes have a nasty habit of getting caught in the machines, no matter how well you clean them, and their cases break and crack if  you touch them wrong. I've cleared all but five of my videos, and I intend to replace three of those by the end of the year.

Jodie picked me up for my appointment at the Foot & Ankle Center around 11:45...but I didn't see the doctor until over an hour later. As with Haddon Imaging yesterday, they were very busy at noon and had a lot going on. Plus, it would seem that they STILL haven't gotten the paperwork for my orthopedics, even though I got the bill claiming everything was paid last week!

When Dr. Berlin arrived, the verdict was pretty much the same as it was early in the month. It's healing, but still tender enough to require wearing that darn boot for another two weeks, after which she'll hopefully be able to switch me to a less heavy shoe. And I'll remain out of work and off the bike during that time.

I wasn't happy when Jodie got me home. I don't even have any money. I had to borrow the co-pay for the appointment from Jodie, and I felt horrible about it! The disability money should be showing up by tomorrow or the beginning of next week, but until then, I have nothing.

Put on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to cheer myself up during dinner. How strange is this cult fantasy musical from 1968? It's based after a book by Ian Fleming (yes, the creator of James Bond), with a script by Roald Dahl (who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among others), and music by the Sherman Brothers, of Mary Poppins and Tom Sawyer fame. Chitty is a former race car who is rehabilitated by inventor Caratacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) into an especially fantastic family vehicle. During a trip to the seaside with his children and his female friend Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), he spins a fantastic tale about how they use a flying and floating Chitty to rescue Grandpa (Lionel Jeffries) from the terrible Baron and Baroness Bomburst of Vulgaria (Gert Frobe and Anna Quayle).

Pure, unadulterated lunacy with a dark core that surprises many folks. Yes, this is a musical that involves kids, flying cars, wacky inventions, and pretty girls with Bond names...but it also has a Child Catcher (Robert Helpmann) who still gives kids from the 60s and 70s nightmares and the Baron trying to more-or-less off his wife. Not to mention, at over two hours, it runs pretty long for a family movie, and the special effects haven't dated all that well.

Most kids probably won't notice, and the adult gags will likely go over their heads. If your crew enjoyed the somewhat similar Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and can handle some of the darker elements, this is highly recommended and an awful lot of fun.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Beauty of Fall

I'm not used to getting up at 7AM. Jodie wanted to be at Haddon Imaging by 8 so I could get my x-rays right away. When we arrived, the receptionist told us they do research on Wednesday mornings and don't do x-rays until noon! I was embarrassed, especially since Jodie had to babysit my nephew Khai later. Jodie said she'd get Dad to take me back for the x-ray.

I was in front of the computer for the rest of the morning, updating the nonfiction books inventory and having a quick lunch. I was more than halfway done when I heard my phone go off. It was 11:45; Dad was downstairs. Where had the time gone? I just left the last couple of books and headed downstairs to Dad's van.

The place was hopping when we arrived. I guess Wednesday is a popular day to come in for x-rays. Too popular. It took them almost 40 minutes to call me in. The x-rays took less than 10 minutes. The technician was nice enough to burn them on a CD for me so I can give them to the Foot and Ankle Center tomorrow.

Passed the rest of the day quietly at home. I finished the nonfiction inventory, then cleaned the kitchen and dubbed The Quiet Man. I've been meaning to dub this video since I grabbed it from the Oaklyn Library's Book Sale in the spring, but one way or another, I never got around to it. John Wayne plays former fighter Sean Thorton, who has returned to where he was born in Ireland to get away from it all after he accidentally kills a man in the ring. He falls for feisty Mary Kate Danher (Maureen O'Hara), but her stubborn brother (Victor McLaughlan) refuses to give Mary Kate her dowry. Sean tries to explain that he won't fight without losing Mary Kate. When she tries to leave, it leads to one of the longest, wildest knock-down, drag out fights on film!

After The Quiet Man was over and the kitchen was scrubbed as well as it could be, I decided to do some reading outside. It was too nice to be inside all day. The sky was brilliant blue. The trees are turning amazing shades of rust, scarlet, orange, and gold. The air was warm, and the breeze was soft. I didn't really read so much as pay attention to nature. I could hear the birds call, the chipmunks squeak, and the squirrels chase each other. The world was as perfect as it was ever going to be.

The chilly evening came all too soon. I went inside to make blondies and watch the 1966 version of Rogers' and Hammerstein's Cinderella. This time, Leslie Ann Warren, still in her ingenue phase, is the title servant girl, Celeste Holm is the fairy godmother, Stuart Damon the prince, and Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon the king and queen. There's a few additions and changes from the 1957 live Julie Andrews version that I have, including an additional song for Damon, "Loneliness of Evening," that had apparently been intended for South Pacific but was cut.

Really, all three versions of Cinderella (including the Brandy one from 1997) have something to recommend them. The one you look for depends on which one you remember seeing as a kid, which cast you prefer, and whether video quality is a factor. (The Julie Andrews one is a fuzzy black-and-white print, but it was filmed live and taped on Kinetoscope; we're lucky they were able to dig it up at all. It was considered lost for years.)

Switched to Moonlighting as I finished dinner. In the fifth season episode "I See London, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld," Maddie and David have a tough time with a corpse they find in their office that proves to be very popular. A man comes to their office, claiming that he wants the other half of the lottery ticket his friend had. Maddie's not thrilled when she and David find themselves digging up dead mean and being chased by live goons. She's even less thrilled with the nightmare she has that involves dancing with corpses, wacky burials, and skeletons in the office!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Day In the Apartment

A pretty quiet day, too. It was cloudy and cool for most of it. Just as well. I slept in this morning, then worked on my nonfiction inventory. Added the books in the crate I use for a nightstand and moved The Artist's Way with the other self-help books on top of my desk. The additions finish the books in my bedroom. I'll do the nonfiction media books in the living room tomorrow or later this week.

Ran a spooky episode of Tales of the Gold Monkey during lunch. In "Trunk From the Past," Sarah White receives a truck that turns out to hold the Egyptian relics that belonged to her dead father...but she wants nothing to do with them. She wants even less to do with the young man who shows up at this point and claims to be her fiancee. When she sees what seems to be the ghost of her father twice, she can't help but wonder if there's something to the legend of the curse on the relics after all...

Spent the afternoon scrubbing my bathroom. It needed it badly. I couldn't do as much as I wanted because of my foot, but I did get the bathtub, toilet, and sink done. I shouldn't have done the floors. The bathroom floor and the rectangle of brown linoleum between the living room and the bedroom are the only floors in the apartment with no carpeting. They don't take long to clean...but they do take forever to dry. I had to practically crawl to avoid slipping on the wet floor and hurting myself again.

I worked on the computer a bit more, then put on A Night at the Opera while I made roasted Brussels sprouts, romaine and cherry tomato salad, and the last of the leftover turkey meatloaf for dinner. One of the best Marx Brothers movies takes them to Italy and the Met to help two young lovers (Allan Jones and Kitty Carisle) get their big break while avoiding the police and jamming as many people as possible into one stateroom. Of course I love this, if for no other reason than the infamous stateroom scene:

Lady: Is my Aunt Minnie in here?
Groucho: If she isn't, you can find someone just as good.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles

I was up late doing research on vintage Barbie clothes that might be appropriate for my Sailor Moon dolls. I had been up for about ten minutes when the phone rang. I looked over on the crate I used for a nightstand and saw that it was 10AM. It was Mom, finally calling me back after yesterday.

First of all, it sounds like we'll be doing the Secret Santa this year. It was Rose's idea. Us four adult kids, plus Mike and Keefe's girlfriend Vicki, will have a name sent to us via phone or e-mail. We have to buy a present for that person. The limit is 50 dollars. This is perfect for me. I don't have money to be buying things for everyone this year. Rose and Keefe aren't fans of shopping in general. Rose doesn't really have the time for it, either. Keefe and Vicki are living on the salaries of a Navy student and a part-time cashier at Michael's, too. Three out of six of us are also buying things for young kids. Anny and Dad were the hold-outs. Mom said she talked Anny into it by reminding her that it would save money for Christmas shopping for her kids. Dad said he'd compromise by giving everyone a little money instead of gifts.

Speaking of Keefe, he seems to be doing just fine at school. He's passed everything, which is good. Mom says if he keeps passing everything, he'll have two weeks off for Christmas. I really need to write him. I hope his address is still the same.

I'd just finished getting dressed when Jodie called me. I could go over to Dad's house and get my laundry done, and we could go to the grocery store, too. I had a quick breakfast and ran a few spooky cartoons for Halloween. Runaway Brain is a rare theatrical Mickey Mouse short from the 90s that spoofs horror movies. Mickey needs to earn money for a vacation with Minnie...but he didn't realize that it would lead him straight into the den of a mad scientist and his oddly familiar monster!

Jodie picked me up and, after a quick stop at CVS, took me to Dad's to do my laundry. It was such a gorgeous day. The leaves are finally beginning to turn colors. The trees around Dad's house are lit up with brilliant golds, crimsons, and flame oranges. It still drives me crazy that I should be out riding my bike, renting movies, strolling through local towns or in Philadelphia...and I can't, because of my stupid ankle.

There was a bright yellow bottle of bubble solution sitting on the side of the huge closed gas grill on the porch. When I got bored with reading Don't Worry, Make Money, I grabbed the bottle, pulled out the ridged orange wand, and blew some bubbles. I spent a half-hour blowing bubbles. I watched the fragile baubles dance in the soft wind. Some of them looked like the clear glass ornaments made during World War II, when rationing encouraged cheaper alternatives to traditional German creations. Bubbles stuck together looked like atoms bobbing towards the green grass and spiky foliage in the front yard.

Dad was having his own troubles. A Verizon truck pulled up shortly after I'd returned to reading. Seems they were giving him a hard time about switching the house's phone and cable lines from Uncle Ken's name to his. There must have been something else going on, too. The cable was out when my laundry finished and Jodie and I headed out to the Acme for our shopping.

Good thing the Acme wasn't busy. We both had decent-sized orders. I didn't want to wait two weeks again, but I still needed a bit. The Acme's having a "buck a bag" sale on bagged vegetables. I bought scallions, mushrooms, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. Restocked my apples, pears, baking cocoa, single packs of fish, milk, white vinegar, fruit concentrate, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

It was so nice, after I finally got home and put everything away, I spent the next few hours outside. I swept the porch, which badly needed it. It needs to be swept at least once a week in the fall, thanks to the trees all around my apartment. I read outside for a while, enjoying the last rays of the setting fall sun, the increasingly cool air, and the patter of little squirrel feet on my roof.

Ran Hot Shots Part Deux while making leftovers for dinner. I watched the first one last week; figured I might as well do this one, too. This time, the pot shots are at the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein (and dictatorships in general), Star Wars, romantic melodramas, and the bloody war films of the 80s and early 90s. I actually like this one better, if only for Lloyd Bridges' increased role as the president of the US (and some amusing Sea Hunt gags).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

At Home With Music

The day didn't begin well. In fact, it began with a persistent little beep that kept going and going every minute.  It took me a while to figure out that it was the carbon monoxide detector. I called Andrew to ask him to come over and check things, but he wasn't home then. I replaced the batteries; it kept making that one little beep. I then read the back of the detector. Turns out it lets out four long beeps every five seconds when there's something really wrong. It lets out one beep when the batteries need to be changed...or when the detector needs to be replaced. It says it needs to be replaced every seven years. I've lived here for seven years now, and it was there when I moved in. I finally gave it to Andrew late in the afternoon.

Otherwise, today was quite uneventful. I made Gingerbread Pancakes while listening to Brunch With the Beatles. The theme today was the Revolver album. Along with Rubber Soul, this was one of the albums that helped usher in the more mature Beatles sound, with songs like "Doctor Robert," "Good Day Sunshine," "Love Me To," "And Your Bird Can Sing," "Tomorrow Never Knows," and "I Want to Tell You."

It was a beautiful day outside, sunny, breezy, and warm...which is probably why I couldn't get a hold of anyone. In addition to Andrew, I also tried calling Mom, Dad-Bruce, and Jodie. Bruce was the only one who has called me back. He and Jodie were doing hosting at a local winery, which didn't surprise me. I wanted to do my laundry again. Oh well, I'll do it tomorrow.

Spent the rest of the day hanging around my apartment, doing stuff online, reading, and listening to cast albums and records. I was feeling like some recent shows. Ended up doing Wicked, an adaptation of the fantasy novel on the early years of the Wicked Witch of the West, and several 80s records.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Afternoon at the Riverside Rest

No rain this time! Started off a gorgeous, breezy, gold-and-blue fall Saturday with the American Top 40. 1986 brought pop, hard rock, soul, and singing TV stars into the limelight. Hits in late October of that year included "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper, "Two of Hearts" by Stacey Q (which I fondly remember Mom using for many an aerobics class during my childhood), "Typical Male," by Tina Turner, "A Matter of Trust," by Billy Joel, "All Cried Out," by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, "Heartbeat" by Don Johnson (yes, that Don Johnson), and "Sweet Love" by Anita Baker.

Women seemed to dominate the charts that week, and one of the biggest names of the mid-80s was Michael Jackson's little sister who had been a child star in her own right since the late 70s. Janet Jackson had one of her biggest #1 songs with "When I Think of You."

I had such a nice time last week doing a photo story with my American Girl and Disney dolls last Saturday, I repeated it. This time, Samantha is showing people around while trying to keep some Riverside Rest residents from getting into trouble. Check it out here:

Saturday Afternoon at the Riverside Rest

I ran cartoons all morning as I worked on my photos. When I finished, I had leftovers for lunch and spent an hour reading Maiden Voyage. I bought that about a month ago from the Oaklyn Library Book Sale, but I've had other things I wanted to read first.

Spent the next few hours running animated films. This week, I went with three rare fantasies from the 80s and early 90s. Happily Ever After was the last production of He-Man creators Filmation. In this sequel  to Snow White, the princess in question seeks the missing Prince with the help of the Dwarfelles - seven goofy female dwarves who posses elemental powers. Moon Madness is a dubbed version of a French retelling of the tale of Baron Munchhausen and his visit with the moon-dwelling Selenites. The Care Bears Movie tends to get written-off as a sugar fest, but it does have its scary moments as the Bears battle to save an unhappy orphan who is trying to use an evil spell book to force people to like him.

I made my first pie in years while the cartoons were running. Almost every pie I've ever made has ended up running over the pan and making a mess. Recently, I've seen one-crust fruit pies made by folding over the crust, instead of covering it with a second crust. I used a variation on a recipe in my low-sugar baking book to make CranApple Fold Over Pie. I added spices and cornstarch to a cup of fruit concentrate, then tossed a cup of cranberries and two big sliced apples and put them in a whole-wheat pie crust, which I folded all around the pie instead of topping with a second crust.

Since I had the pie baking, I tossed some Merlin's Magic Chicken (chicken pieces coated with flour, salt, and paprika and baked in the oven at a high temperature) and roasted Brussels sprouts in the oven and continued the 80s theme with Xanadu. This infamous 1980 musical has Olivia Newton-John as a muse who comes to earth to inspire a young artist (Michael Beck) and an older man who has given up his musical career (Gene Kelly) to open a roller disco in the abandoned Pan Pacific Auditorium in LA. Infamous for having a great soundtrack and a freakin' strange script. (So strange, it was apparently made up as they went along, which explains a lot.) I love it, but it's not for those who aren't a fan of the music and style from the late disco era, Newton-John, Kelly, or campy musicals in general.

Oh, and the pie came out great. I baked it in a pie pan despite the wrapping to avoid the mess. It's perfect, tasty and crusty and just sweet enough.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Who Knows What Evil Lurks In the Hearts Of Men?

I awoke around 9:30 to a massive monsoon. It was POURING like mad, and continued to do so on and off all morning. Needless to say, I spent most of it continuing with If I Don't Do It Now.... At the very least, I have now figured out two things. First of all, I neither like nor fit in a large corporation. The Acme is too restrictive and just too darn big. I want to work somewhere that's less conventional, with a smaller, somewhat younger staff who have more to do than stand at a register. I want to do something creative, something that might actually engage my brain.

I had a peanut butter and cranberry pear butter wrap and a pear around 1 and ran two episodes from 80s sitcoms that dealt with the supernatural...and the consequences of obvious disbelief. In the Night Court second season show "The Gypsy," Harry fines the title fortune teller for contempt of court and fraud. She insists she's real, and proves it by cursing the entire court. Suddenly, Bull collapses and Dan's accountant drops dead in the middle of an audit. Harry puts on an elaborate bit of magic of his own to prove to Bull and everyone that there is no such thing as magic...or is there? (Dan never does get his money back, though.)

Larry Appleton of Perfect Strangers is also skeptical about magic and the supernatural. In the seventh season episode "Fright Night," his cousin Balki insists that there's a ghost in his room. Balki, Mary Anne, and Jennifer are convinced, but Larry isn't...until strange things start happening in Balki's overly-decorated bedroom.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading more of If I Don't Do It Now... and working on the nonfiction book inventories. Two of the books I added were for pilates, a yoga-style exercise that involves strength and flexibility training. I'm wondering if I could pull off some of the leg and arm motions that don't require standing up while I'm on the mend? It was kind of late to try by then; I'll see what I can do tomorrow.

Made tilapia in white wine sauce, leftover green beans, and sauteed Brussels sprouts and tomatoes for dinner while watching The Shadow. Based after the famous radio show and pulp fiction stories of the late 30s and 40s, this unusual superhero caper has the title character Lamont Cranston (Alec Baldwin), who can appear invisible and "cloud men's minds" (i.e, manipulate them) searching New York City in the late 40s for an insane warlord from the Far East who claims to be the descendant of Genghis Khan. He's kidnapped the absent minded professor father of psychic Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller) who has created an atomic bomb. The charming Asian and the smooth American play literal and figurative mind games, with Margo caught in the middle...

Weird. Very, very weird. More based after the pulp stories, where Cranston had a whole team to work with, than the radio show, where he mostly just worked with Margo. The plot is actually quite involving, and the special effects are excellent for the early-mid 90s, especially the nifty Art Deco set design. Casting is the big problem. Neither Miller nor Baldwin were really meant for roles that stress mystery and adventure - Baldwin tries but tends to be too stiff, Miller is too silly.

While the blurbs on the back of the DVD case compare this to Indiana Jones, it has more in common with The Rocketeer, Dick Tracy, the Tim Burton Batman, and other stylish superhero extravaganzas of the early 90s. Fine for fans of those films or of Baldwin.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Four Fighters In a Texas Town

I passed this day quietly. Slept in (though not as much as over the weekend), and spent a lot of the day doing the writing for If I Don't Do It Now.... I have to know what's holding me back. What's wrong with me? Why can't I find a regular job? Why have my few interviews not worked out? How can I meet more people who can really help me? How can I work past my fears and doubts?

There was an envelope with a notice from the Union in the mail. They said they'd take away my benefits if they didn't get payment papers from the disability checks in the mail! I called them and told them I hadn't even gotten them yet, and probably won't until the beginning of next week or the week after. They said everything was fine, as long as I remember to send them the payment papers when I do get them.

Shortly after that, I decided to finally sweep the porch. I probably shouldn't have, but the leaves were piling up, and it looked awful. Besides, it was a gorgeous day, warmer than it has been, but not out of line for mid-October in southern New Jersey, breezy, sunny, and blue. The leaves are finally beginning to turn colors here. I swear they turned much earlier in October last year. I'm so frustrated that I can't go out and enjoy it. I  don't have enough money to browse in local towns or at yard sales. I can't even go for a nice little walk around the neighborhood. My favorite time of year, and I'm missing it. It isn't fair.

Vacuumed the apartment next. I put it off earlier in the month because of my foot, but it was getting really grungy, especially the kitchen. I have no idea why my kitchen is carpeted. It's a mess, but what can you do with carpeting in a kitchen? I did as well as I could with my foot.

After I did a little more writing, I started leftovers for dinner, with Cranberry Flummery over marble bunt cake for dessert, while watching Rio Bravo. In this classic John Wayne vehicle, he's a tough sheriff whose Texas town is invaded by a gang determined to break one of their number out of jail. He's determined to do it alone - one of his deputies is a lame, if energetic, older man (Walter Brennan), one is an inexperienced teenager (Ricky Nelson), and one is a drunkard (Dean Martin). A local scarlet woman (Angie Dickerson) wants to help out, too. He rejects all of their offers to join him - until the men take off with Martin, and Wayne finds himself learning a lesson in teamwork.

Howard Hawks directed one of his best westerns, a tight tale of how it takes a lot more than one big John Wayne to really bring down the bad guys...and that when you help a friend, you help everyone. Martin was especially good in one of his best performances as the drunk deputy who finally sobers up when things look bad.

(Hawks loved the premise so much, he essentially revised it as the later El Dorado and Rio Lobo, both darn good westerns in their own right, both again with Wayne.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Homework and Work at Home

Very quiet day. I once again slept in, then spent what was left of the morning making phone calls. I finally got a hold of Donna at the Acme. She gave me the website and phone number for the State of New Jersey's Department of Labor, which apparently deals with disability claims. I called them a bit later. They put me through to a fellow named Dan, who confirmed that my claim had gone through, and the money should be on its way.

WebKinz just completely redid its site map. It's now interactive. You can move the buildings around, add road wherever you like, and even set up your own forests and picnic areas. I fiddled around with it for a couple of hours. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but once you do, it's really fun. Five of your pets, four random ones and the one you're using at the moment, stroll on the roads. You can even get them to enter buildings.

After a late lunch, I did some reading. This time, I went through the first few chapters of If I Don't Do It Now, a book I picked up from the used book shop in Collingswood a few years ago. It's kind of the same thing as The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention, but geared towards women 35 and over instead of everyone. I did the multiple choice quiz in Chapter 3. I'll do more of the activities in that chapter tomorrow.

Ran one of my favorite movies, The Band Wagon, while making Ginger Cookies and leftovers for dinner. Fred Astaire plays Tony Hunter, a washed-up Hollywood dancer who wants to make a comeback on Broadway. Cranky pianist Oscar Levant and perky Broadway star Nanette Fabray are the married composers and playwrights who have fabricated a light musical stage vehicle for his comeback. The problems start when they engage currently-popular director/actor Jerry Cordova (British stage star Jack Buchanon)  to direct. Uber-serious and egotistical Cordova has his own ideas of how the show should be run, including hiring ballerina Gabby (Cyd Charisse) who is Hunter's complete opposite, in age and dance genre. The show goes badly and looks like it may flop...until Gabby and Tony rebel.

If you're a fan of MGM musicals, Fred Astaire, or musicals in general, you absolutely must look up this one. The two-disc set is worth the cost, especially the making-of documentary that explains just how troubled this seemingly light frappe was.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two Months at Home

Slept in again; thankfully, when I got up around 9:30, the sun was out, the air was slightly warmer but not out of line for the time of year, and it was very windy. I started off my day with breakfast and finishing off the last Rick Steves' Europe disc. Skipping the Copenhagen and Denmark episodes (which I more-or-less already watched on the France/Belgium disc), I went straight to southern Europe to take in Greek and Turkish culture. Seeing the famous sighs of ancient Athens was cool, but I even more enjoyed learning about Greek cultures that don't get discussed as much, ones that came before and well after the tales of Grecian mythology. And Istanbul is just cool - whether you call it Istanbul or Constantinople, it has some really awesome historical sites (including a sultan's palace and massive mosque straight out of Arabian Nights) and an awesome indoor bazaar.

Called the Acme between shows. Donna, the head front end manager, said my disability papers were faxed, but she hadn't heard anything. She said something about a website to check, but she was busy and didn't have the time to give it to me. By the time I called her, she already left. I'll call back tomorrow.

Donna also mentioned that I was supposed to be off for two months, not two weeks! I thought they said two weeks! I just have a fractured ankle! I called the Foot & Ankle Center, and yes, the note said two months. Hopefully, my ankle will have healed enough by the time of my appointment there next Thursday that the full two months won't be necessary.

I worked on making a list of short-term and long-term goals, both for my business and personal life. It wasn't easy. I don't really have too many long-term goals. I don't know what I'll be doing in five years. Working in a better job.

I called Jodie earlier to see if she could run me to a grocery store. I really, really needed to make a food run. My refrigerator was nearly empty. Jodie said that her truck was being repaired in a garage on the edge of the Westmont Plaza property, next-door to Party Fair, so we'd do Super Fresh. That was fine by me; I could finally get the DVDs returned to the libraries, too. Oaklyn is on the way, and the Haddon Township Library is across the street from the Westmont Plaza.

As it turned out, Jodie's car (much to her disappointment) still needed parts. My DVDs were way overdue, so we still went to Super Fresh and the libraries. I refilled my vegetable crisper with romaine lettuce, apples, pears, green beans, bananas, baby carrots, and newly-arrived fresh cranberries and Brussels sprouts. I was badly in need of tea, milk, cereal, flour, sugar, and cheese, and I needed evaporated skim milk after using it for my Cream of Spinach Soup the other night. Stocked up on good vegetarian-fed eggs on a sale that made them the same price as Super Fresh's regular eggs, peanut butter, and Kool-Aid.

I spent the rest of the evening working on my goals list, then ran comedies while using the leftover Italian Sausage and Vegetables to make a Chicken Sausage, Vegetables, and Pasta skillet bake with roasted Brussels sprouts. Hot Shots is a hilarious Pat Proft spoof of Top Gun and other military melodramas of the 80s and early 90s. Charlie Sheen is the egotistical Navy pilot with a troubled past, Cary Elwes is his main rival, and Valerie Golino is the Naval psychiatrist they're after. Lloyd Bridges is the odd, pieced-together admiral. If you're a fan of the Proft/Zucker Brothers style of rapid-fire spoofs with something of a plot, or Elwes, Sheen, or Bridges, this is one of the better ones of the 90s. (The sequel, made two years later, is even funnier.)

Switched to a pair of Three Stooges shorts that also spoof the military while I cleaned up from dinner. Curly, Larry, and Moe are doorbell repair men who find themselves dealing with crossed wires and Nazi war rooms in the rather violent (even for the Stooges) "They Stooge to Conga." (A very young Lloyd Bridges has a quick stock-footage cameo as an annoyed phone company customer.) And Charlie Sheen is far from the only person to attempt to fly the unfriendly military skies. The Stooges have even less luck taking to the air in a plane of their own creation in "Dizzy Pilots."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reading Day

It started out just mildly cloudy and a bit warmer than it has been when I finally got up this morning. Lauren is on vacation this week, so I stayed up late with her last night (and probably will again tonight). I actually didn't do a whole lot. It was just starting to rain when I went downstairs to take a look at my mail. There it was, this year's American Girl Wish Book! They did a nice job with it this year. The purple/silver/sparkle theme looks beautiful and elegant, and some of the photography is lovely. I wish I could get the really cute Sugar and Spice "Baking" Set, with its adorable doll-sized gingerbread house, soft red apron, and Santa hat, but I just don't have the money.

That wasn't the only book I went through today. I also took a good look at The Home-Based Business Kit. I'd still like to run something at my house, something simple like data analysis or freelance writing, but I'm not even sure where to begin. There's a lot of things I can't do right now...but one thing I can do is write down my long-term and short-term goals and get what I want to do straight.

Ran more of Rick Steves' Europe throughout the day. Rick returned to Vienna, this time covering the Danube and the home of Empress Maria Theresa. My favorite the visit to some of the tiniest countries in the world...and the smartest with taxes...Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, Lichtenstein  and Andorra. The trip to the Czech Republic was a reminder of that country's long and often tragic history.

I'm running low on supplies and just had small meals throughout the day. Ran two spooky episodes of Get Smart while cleaning up from dinner. In the first season episode "Weekend Vampire," three CONTROL agents are murdered on the weekends by what seems to be a vampire. Max and 99, disguised as newlyweds, investigate a disgruntled former CONTROL scientist who may have the keys to the mystery. Max and 99 have an otherwordly encounter with an informer who was supposedly murdered by KAOS years before and try to get in touch with her via a seance in the third season episode "The Spirit Is Willing."

I've been having a lot of fun looking up older animation on You Tube since I encountered Animalympics a few months ago. Tonight, I ran into a pair of specials that 80s girls like me may remember. "Rose Petal Place" was a short-lived line of dolls, books, and stuffed animals. They were pretty much a more elegant "Strawberry Shortcake" with a flower scent instead of fruit and a more dramatic hook - a young Victorian lass had been forced to leave her beloved garden. She weeps on her favorite flowers, turning them into pretty girls. Her favorite rose becomes Rose Petal, head of the garden, whose voice keeps it alive.

I was delighted to discover that the original 1984 special is now available online, along with the 1985 follow-up Real Friends. Shy Violet, Cherry Blossom, and the other new characters in Real Friends were supposed to have followed the original characters into doll form, but the line was discontinued before they could be widely made, and only prototypes apparently exist today.

Original Rose Petal Place Special
Rose Petal Place: Real Friends

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Football With the Family

I slept so late, it was quarter of 11 before I finally got up, and nearly 11:30 before I was making Mulit-Grain Buttermilk Pancakes for breakfast and listening to the last of Brunch With the Beatles. They were celebrating their 11th anniversary with "Beatles outtakes," from different versions of familiar songs (earlier takes of "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Eight Days a Week," "Come Together") to songs that were cut or dropped from albums (including a catchy Ringo number originally intended for Help!, "If Ya Got Trouble," that's become a favorite of mine).

Called Mom as the show was ending. I knew she'd be busy, and indeed she was getting ready for the Eagles-Lions game. I really just wanted to touch base with her. I told her about Linda's generosity and my gifts, the trouble with Comcast and how it was solved, and what I've done around the apartment this week. Thankfully, the only phone call I should need to make anytime soon is to the Acme to see if my disability papers went through, and that will probably be tomorrow.

Dad picked me up at 12:30. I spent the next few hours at what's now his house, watching the Eagles-Lions game and getting my laundry done. I'd put off doing my laundry during the week, but the load had grown huge, and it couldn't be put off anymore. Jessa came in during the early third quarter. By the fourth, Jodie had come home from her job as a hostess at a local winery. Dad heated up the last of the pizza he and Jessa had last night for me and had a tuna salad sandwich for himself.

(If you're wondering "where's the party," I suspect that football parties are over. Uncle Ken was the partier. Dad's not really fond of holding parties, and there's still some problems within the family.)

Alas, the Eagles did rather badly. This was another penalty-filled game, though not as bad as last week's. They actually went into overtime before the Lions finally won, 26-23. 

Jessa drove me home shortly before the end of the fourth quarter. I spent the rest of the evening baking a simple marble cake and listening to Andy Williams records, to honor the late singer's passing a few weeks ago.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mad Monsters, Bizarre Cats, and Ducks South of the Border

Started off a sunny, chilly, blustery fall morning with the American Top 40. We went ahead into 1981 as country, New Wave, pop, and hard rock dominated the airwaves. Hits from mid-October of that year include "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "I've Done Everything For You" by Rick Springfield, "Urgent" by Foreigner, "The Night Owls" by the Little River Band, "It's Hard To Say" by Dan Fogleburg, "Private Eyes" by Hall & Oates, and "Endless Love," by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie.

"Endless Love" had apparently been in the top spot for the past nine weeks. It took one of my favorite movie songs of the 80s to finally knock that slightly syrupy ballad to #2 - "The Best That You Can Do" by Christopher Cross, from the original Dudley Moore version of Arthur

Comcast called an hour or so after the American Top 40 ended. They said to fiddle with the modem and see if I could get it going; if I couldn't, they'd send someone around on Monday. I didn't until later in the day...and am embarrassed to discover I didn't have the phone jack plugged in the right place. It goes in the Comcast modem, not the house phone jack! (Just as well. I only have one phone jack in the entire apartment.) I'll call them tomorrow and tell them to cancel.

After that, I spent the morning working on new photos of my American Girl and Disney Animator's Collection dolls to replace the ones I accidentally erased a few days ago, plus some more. I remembered I have Molly's Scenes and Settings in the back room and made use of them. For a few years in the late 90s, American Girl made huge books of heavy cardboard settings as backdrops for a child's play. For instance, Molly's has her family's kitchen, her bedroom, her classroom, a drug store, and her summer camp. The realistic-looking classroom made a great backdrop for dolls and stuffed animals to be home-schooled. 

Spent the rest of the day baking Sugar n' Spice Bar Cookies and watching four rather surreal, unusual animated films. Donald Duck goes on a wild trip through Latin America in Saludos Amigos and the even stranger Three Caballeros. A typical nerd (Alan Swift) finds himself caught in the middle of a feud between moviedom's monsters and the curvaceous assistant (Gale Bennett) of Dr. Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) in the Rankin Bass matinee feature Mad Monster Party. And Felix the Cat stumbles into a bizarre kingdom in another dimension ruled by a Transformer-style tyrant who makes the Monster Party cast look normal by comparison in the hard-to-find Felix the Cat: The Movie

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dealing With Phone Companies Is Scary

Ugh. I got stuck spending most of the day playing phone tag again, this time with Comcast. They were supposed to have switched my land line from Verizon on the 9th. Today is the 12th, and there's still no dial tone on my phone. I checked - it's working fine. I called Verizon. My account is closed on their end. It's all on Comcast's side. I called them at least three times today, and they called me once to tell me to reset my modem. I did. I got cut off every time, including when they called me. Resetting the modem seems to have done nothing. I'm still not getting a dial tone. I hadn't heard from them by 5. If there's still no dial tone, I'll call them first thing on Monday.

I also called Dad while I was on the phone. I told him I wouldn't be able to be reached on the land line phone for a while. Also asked when I could go over there to do my laundry. I know there's still a lot going on with my uncle's death. He said they'd be just watching the Eagles-Lions game Sunday afternoon. I could go over then.

Ran the last one-disc Rick Steves set this morning and early in the afternoon. Rick moved into Austria, the French and Italian Alps, and Switzerland on this journey. Vienna and Saltzburg were absolutely gorgeous, with their incredible and tragic history and amazing architecture. Switzerland was fun, like a trip through a fairy tale book or illustrations from Heidi.

Got a few things done in the afternoon. I pulled all of the pots and pans out from under the sink while the Switzerland episodes were running this afternoon. I swept the bottom, pulled the top of a glass bowl I no longer owned, then put everything away in neater piles. When I finished and Rick Steves ended, I added the last of the Young Adult Fiction and Kids' Fiction books to the inventories, including the books Linda sent me on Tuesday.

Ran two spooky-oriented TV show episodes while having leftovers for dinner. Good Eats has done several Halloween-oriented episodes, mostly revolving around candy. "Oh My, Meat Pie" is a spoof of the Tim Burton Sweedny Todd that features Alton as his great-grandfather, showing the familiar owners of a certain infamous pie shop in London how to make shepherd's and mincemeat pies.

"Haunted House" is a goofier second-season episode of Laverne & Shirley. The title working girls need a new couch. The old Ramsdale Manor is about to be demolished, and with its furniture on sale, Laverne thinks it would be a great place for furniture deals. Shirley isn't as certain. She's heard a lot of urban myths about the Ramsdale Manor, most of them involving a hairy "thing." When they hear spooky noises and their guy friends Squiggy and Lenny disappear while looking at couches, even Laverne wonders if she could be right...until Shirley finds something that makes them question the hasty demolition.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wonderful Copehagen

Not a lot going on today, and there won't be for a while. I'm even out of phone calls. The phone didn't sound like it was switched from Verizon to Comcast like it should have been. If it isn't fixed by tomorrow, I'll call them and see what the hold up is about.

I spent the morning messing around online. Ran the second Rick Steves disc during breakfast and lunch. This time, Steves took us into the fairy tale world of Germany and the Scandinavian countries. I made Cornmeal Mini-Baguettes during the Scandinavia episodes. Though I loved the German castles and those massive pretzels, my favorite Germany episode covered Berlin. I remember watching the Berlin Wall coming down as a child in 1989. It's interesting to see all the progress that's been made since then, including turning the remains of the wall into one long outdoor art exhibit.

The Danes were my favorites in Scandinavia. Coming from a small fishing town background myself, I can appreciate their sweet little island villages and laid-back way of life. I wish the US would adopt the awesome, efficient train and bike lines I keep seeing in these European shows. It would make things so much easier and greener.

I worked on inventories for a little while as the Baguettes rose. When they were done, I started Cornmeal-Battered Chicken Fingers, Cream of Spinach Soup, and boiled vegetables for dinner while watching Hans Christian Anderson. Danny Kaye is the title character in this fanciful version of the life of the famous Danish storyteller. This was the film debut of ballerina Jeanmarie, and there are four ballets that show off her talents. Kaye gets one of Frank Loesser's best film scores, including "Thumbelina," "Inchworm," "Anywhere I Wander," and "Wonderful Copenhagen."

Oh, and the Baguettes - the first bread I've made in months - came out amazing. It's perfectly soft and chewy. I baked them into four mini-loaves, which are much easier to handle than one big loaf.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Around Europe In One Week

As it turned out, Komfort Kare called ME back first thing this morning. The news wasn't good. Yes, they could provide the boot, but it would cost $169. I called Dad. He was about to take my cousin Guy and his family to the airport and had some errands to run. He would get back to me later.

I cheered myself up with a couple of episodes of Rick Stevens' Europe and getting the dolls organized. I pulled out their winter clothes, found sweaters for Tiana and Cinderella (whose dresses have short sleeves), and redressed all of the AG girls but Felicity. (Felicity doesn't have enough clothes to change into - she remains in her Laced Jacket and Petticoat.) Samantha wears her thick pink Talent Show Dress with her original heavy ribbed black stockings and Springfield Collection black flats. I put Molly in her original argyle sweater, the red skirt from the Skating Outfit (the Velcro on her "meet" skirt is too gone to use), Springfield Collection socks, and her Saddle Shoes. Jessa's far more casual in the magenta t-shirt from the 1995 modern doll meet outfit, high-top sneakers from the 1996 Blue Jeans Basics outfit, cargo pants and a navy hoodie from the 1999 Drawstring Cargos outfit, and Springfield Collection socks.

Dad called as I was putting everything away. About 20 minutes later, we headed out to Komfort Kare. I hate the stupid boot. It's HUGE. I assumed it would be about the size of normal snow boot, but with more padding. It's more like the size of a thigh-high boot, with at least five or six straps and more padding than a football player wears in an average NFL game. It's only a fractured ankle! On the other hand, they did say the insurance company will eventually refund Dad for most of the money. I feel bad about him paying for it in the first place. If only all of this happened last year, when I actually had money!

I went home with Dad briefly. He and Jodie had been babysitting my nephew Khai. He was just getting up when I arrived. He insisted on Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs again. Jodie and I groaned and slipped the Blu-Ray in for him. Rose came in half-way through the movie. She and Khai ended up taking me home.

Spent the rest of the evening photographing the girls and finishing the Rick Stevens disc. The first one I watched covered Belgium, the Netherlands, and most of France, from Paris through Amsterdam. While hearing about glamorous Monaco, Cannes, and the Riviera was fun, I think I enjoyed the trip through Brussels and Bruges the most. A country that loves chocolate, mussels, fries, waffles with everything and anything on top, trains, and bike riding? Sounds like my idea of heaven. ;)

And I'm mad at myself. When I was trying to take a shot of the three Disney Animator's Collection dolls together, I accidentally deleted all of the photos on my camera, including the great shots I got at Uncle Ken's funeral and the ones I'd taken of the dolls on the 4th of July that I never put on my computer! I have no idea how, or if, I can get them back.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Adventures at Fort Courage

I slept in a bit this morning. Just as well. It was gray, cold, and damp, and it was for a lot of yesterday, too. I spent the morning having a late breakfast, reading, and watching That's Entertainment III. I went downstairs around noon to pick up my mail. I got there just in time to retrieve a small but heavy square package from the mailman. Since I was down there, I grabbed those two plants Andrew said I could have, too.

Organized the plants first when I got up there. They were far larger than I thought they'd be! I was going to put one on my kitchen table, but it was too big. The taller one wound up on one of the record crates. The smaller one stayed on the kitchen table, though it may be moved to somewhere else if I can actually find the room.

After I figured out what to do with the plants, I opened the package. It was from my friends Linda and James Young in Atlanta. They've been very supportive of me over the past week and a half, and it looks like they sent me some things to cheer me up while I'm at home. There were four DVDs with episodes of the PBS travelogue series Rick Steves' Europe based around France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, Austria, Switzerland, and the most most recently released shows. There was a collection of six episodes of the 60s western spoof sitcom F-Troop There were three books, a biography of Dewey, a beloved cat who was found in an Iowa library, a second Dear America Revolutionary War story (this one from the Patriots' side), and the classic kids' sci-fi story A Wrinkle In Time. There were three other DVDs - while I don't have the live-action A Dog of Flanders, alas, I do already own The Rocketeer and Lady and the Tramp. (My best friend Lauren offered to take the last two for her birthday.) There was a very sweet card from Linda and James.

I watched the F Troop episodes during lunch, and later while making Fudgy Chocolate Mint Brownies and leftovers for dinner. I have very fond memories of watching this hilarious take on military life in the post-Civil-War west on Nick at Night with my stepfather in the late 80s and early 90s. Captain Parameter (Ken Berry) is the head of the most cowardly troop of officers ever in the cavalry. Corporal Agorn (Larry Storch) and Sergeant O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) were more interested in their side schemes than actually fighting anyone.

One of the most interesting thing about this show is that the Indians, while not exactly politically correct (they're all played by Catskills comedians in bad redface makeup), are just as shifty and dumb as the officers. This show pulls no punches - everyone is after a quick buck and is fairly inept, no matter what the color of their skin is. The exception is Wrangler Jane (Melody Anderson), the pretty cowgirl who is the only character who can shoot a gun at all, much less straight.

My favorite of the black and white episodes was "Indian Fever." Agorn keeps thinking he sees an Indian skulking around the fort. The other officers think otherwise, until Chief White Eagle (Frank DeKova) reveals that the Apaches are looking for war. Parameter then becomes determined to make a peace treaty with them. Paul Lynde, of all people, figured into the best of the second season color shows, "The Singing Mountie." He's the title character, who has come to F Troop in search of a French fur trapper who stole some valuable pelts (Larry Storch in a dual role).

While I spent most of the afternoon working on the Young Adult Fiction inventory, I did get around to calling Komfort Kare to order the "boot" cast for my foot. They said they'd call the insurance company about it. That was around 2PM, and I haven't heard from them since. I'll call them first thing tomorrow morning to find out what's going on.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Verdict

Jodie picked me up for my appointment at the Foot and Ankle Center at 10:30. I learned my lesson last Tuesday after the incident with Rose. This time, I was ready to go when she arrived, and we were there on time and with no problems. Dr. Berlin and a nurse looked at my foot and explained what had happened and what I needed to do.

Long story short - that chip means it's fractured. I'm supposed to be out of work for at least two weeks. She gave me a note for the Acme telling them that I can't come in and a prescription to get a boot (heavier wrap) at Komfort Kare, a medical equipment sales store in the Westmont Plaza between Dollar Tree and Super Fresh. I need to make an x-ray appointment at the medical examiners next-door to them later this week or in the beginning of next week and will be returning to the Foot and Ankle Center at the end of next week.

Jodie and I stopped at Acme on the way home. We both needed some supplies, and I needed to deliver my disability papers to the managers. I also grabbed a few things I thought I might run out of or realized that I needed to restock - eggs, pasta, canned tomato sauce, brown sugar, bagged vegetables, more pears. The Acme is clearing out the majority of its DVDs. I found the Veggitales Penniless Princess episode that I enjoyed so much last month for $3.50 in the pile.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day at my place. I watched Penniless Princess to cheer myself up while having scrambled eggs with spinach for lunch, then tossed on an episode of the first season of Sailor Moon that also dealt with being a princess while cleaning up. Serena joins a "Princess Seminar" in order to study good manners and breeding. Serena may not be a lady, but it doesn't take proper posture to realize there's something sinister about the seminar and its headmistress...

I worked on inventories for my children's books for several hours after the cartoons ended. I decided I had enough young adult novels to separate them into their own list. The original "kidfiction" list now holds all of my picture books, mostly vintage Golden Books titles of interest to me and some hardback picture book series based after favorite childhood characters like Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears.

For once, I had plenty of time for a nice, slow dinner, even after finishing my inventory work. I watched Radioland Murders while a sweet potato and turkey meatloaf baked in the oven. Brian Benben and Mary Stuart Masterson head a huge cast in this comic mystery set in a fledgling Chicago radio station in 1940. The staff and sponsors of the station are dying one by one, and writer Roger Henderson (Benben) has been accused of the crime. He has to figure out who did it, then catch them in the act, all while trying to convince his wife (Masterson) not to leave him.

This was a huge flop on first release in the early 90s, despite the George Lucas pedigree (he developed and produced it). I get a kick out of it, especially the first half, but it does have its problems. First and foremost, it runs at least 20 minutes longer than it should. The second half, which is mainly a series of slapstick shenanigans as Roger tries to elude the cops, grows wearying after a while. Comedienne Anita Morris' death during filming may have prompted some re-writes as well (which also explains why her character disappears during that chaotic second half).

This is one of those cult features that people seem to either love or just not get. Give it a chance if you ever run into it on cable or Netflix.

Threw on a Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1931 that also dealt with a fledgling radio station as I did the dishes. The Barnyard Broadcast is just as nutty as Radioland Murders, but the chaos comes from a much different source. Pluto overhears cats meowing on the radio Mickey put outside for him. He immediately rushes to fend off the felines, destroying Mickey and the gang's radio show in the process.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Raining On My Parade

It was rainy, chilly, and gray when I awoke this morning. I loved it. It felt like fall...and it made me feel better about being stuck at home. This was no day to go anywhere, even to Dad's house, if I actually could. I got up around 10AM and immediately put on Brunch With the Beatles. Listened to them while reading, and then while making Apple-Sweet Potato Pancakes. John Lennon, whose birthday was this week, was in the spotlight this week. Solo songs heard included "Power to the People," "Cold Turkey," "Imagine," and his version of "Stand By Me." Songs he did with the Beatles included "Ain't She Sweet," "Revolution," "I Am the Walrus," "Help!," and "In My Life."

I listened to the soundtrack from Xanadu and cleaned up after breakfast, then switched on the radio to hear today's Eagles-Steelers game. Calling it "ugly" would have been very, very kind. It was insane. There seemed to be a penalty flag thrown on both teams every two minutes, and probably half of them were for unnecessary roughness. When the dust cleared, the Eagles just barely lost in the fourth quarter, 16-14. 

Had the last of the leftover soup during lunch, then spent most of the game messing around with that Fashion Stencil Pad thing I bought a while ago. I'd used it once or twice, but I thought it would give me something fun to do during the game. I designed outfits based on decades of the 20th Century. The one for the 70s came out the best. I had to wing her bell-bottoms from scratch - the pad I bought was supposed to be for fancy dresses and came with no pants stencils. I came up with the idea of fading her blue jeans into purple on the bottoms when I accidentally grabbed a purple colored pencil instead of a blue one. Added a few stars for the applique look that they loved in that era.

Some of the others didn't come out too badly, either. I also improvised a suit dress for 1908 from an evening gown and a jacket - the gown had ruffles and a high collar added to the top, the jacket became sleeves for the dress, and the long skirt was trimmed with ribbons on the bottom. Also improvised a beaded skirt and collar for the 1929 flapper outfit, and combined stencils to make a Carmen-Miranda-style showgirl gown for the World War II model. (The 40s model also had the best-shaded hair and skin.)

Ran the original Carol Channing Hello Dolly! cast album while finally getting a hold of Mom. I tried calling her earlier, but she was apparently out running errands, and Dad-Bill  had Skylar. She was fine. She, too, was happy that we're finally getting some fall-ish temperatures. I told her about my week, about the reception yesterday, and my appointment tomorrow.

I enjoyed Dolly so much, I ran two more Jerry Herman cast albums as I made leftovers for dinner, Mame and Mack and Mabel. Mame and Dolly were massive hits on Broadway in the 60s and are still pretty well-known. Mack and Mabel,  however, was a huge flop in the 70s. It wasn't the fault of the music, which is probably Herman's single best score. The title characters are silent comedy director Mack Sennett and his most popular comedienne, tempestuous Mabel Normand. Mack can't love anything but his Keystone Kops comedy features. Mabel thinks she understands...but what she really wants is to act in features. Their long-time love affair ends no happier in the musical than it did in real life, no matter how many promises of a happy ending Mack wants to give the self-destructive Mabel.

Worth having for the gorgeous ballad "I Won't Send Roses" alone, which is what sold me on this CD in the first place. This downer of a musical doesn't seem to have ever worked onstage, no matter how often it was revised, but the score is a real gem.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

A Party for My Uncle

Even though I couldn't make my usual farm market-yard sale run this morning, I started with the American Top 40 anyway out of pure habit. Casey jumped back to 1978, where disco and R&B ruled the land. Hits from early October of that year included "Boogie Oogie Oogie" by A Taste of Honey, "Hot Child In the City" by Nick Gilder, "You Needed Me" by Ann Murray, "Whenever I Call You Friend" by Stevie Nicks and Kenny Loggins, "Reminiscing" by the Little River Band, and "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "Summer Nights" from the soundtrack of that summer's blockbuster movie, Grease. That week's #1 song brought pop into the world of disco - Exile's "Kiss You All Over."

Spent the morning dusting, finally putting up my Halloween decorations, and watching Halloween specials and running fall-themed music. Ran this year's first showing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown. Both more-or-less revolve around Linus and his unusual beliefs, including Great Pumpkin's title character. Also ran Disney's Halloween Treat, the original Disney Channel Halloween special, which I dubbed off my parents' 23-year-old video last year.

I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween. I do have some decorations, but they're cute or funny rather than the spooky, bloody ones favored by many regulars at my friend Matt's Dinosaur Dracula blog. They're mostly stuffed animals, cardboard cut-outs, or small items I picked up from work, CVS, Dollar Tree, or various thrift shops.

I actually am rather fond of some of my Halloween stuffed critters. In addition to my WebKinz Bat Boo, I have four Beanie Babies - a ghost bear holding a pumpkin, a more normal-looking but still pretty friendly ghost, a less friendly wolf with blood-red eyes, and the most adorable little bat with orange and purple wings. I found a polka-dot bat who looks home-made at a yard sale, and a crow in a witch's hat at the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop before they shut down. My scarecrow-witch has a cute stuffed cauldron that came from Eckard's when they sold the holiday-themed Beanies in the mid-late 90s.

Rose didn't pick me up for Uncle Ken's memorial service until nearly 3. It was just about to start when we arrived...and boy, was it crowded! My Uncle was a beloved figure in Oaklyn for decades. He knew everyone, and everyone knew him. He was a councilman for several years. Over 200 people crowded into the funeral home across the street from Taco Bell on the White Horse Pike. Rose was only there for a few minutes. My nephew had been out at a street fair in Haddon Heights earlier, and he was getting cranky. Not to mention, she wanted to help set up for the reception. I stayed. My cousins Karen and Jim were even nice enough to pull up a chair for me behind my second cousin Faith and Karen and Jim's son CJ.

The memorial service only lasted a half-hour, but it was very heart-felt. A pastor who had known my uncle for years conducted the service. His friend Al, who came to so many football parties and had known him in high school, talked about his relationship with him and all the things he did for the community. Al said Uncle Ken had a pool party every year to earn money for the local Democrats...and he was staunchly Republican for most of his life! The pastor mentioned that he'd met Uncle Ken when he helped with church youth trips in the late 60s. My second cousin Ethan talked for his family and his mother Samantha, who was so upset, she couldn't trust herself to speak without breaking down. He did very well, and I'm proud of him (and so are his folks). Samantha's brother Guy, who flew in with his wife and their baby daughter from Taiwan (where he's a teacher), spoke as well. The pastor mentioned how Uncle Ken helped raise my stepsister Jessa after her adopted mother died.

After the service, I gave a lot of people hugs - Karen, Jim, Samantha, Guy, Dolores, Dad, Jessa. It was a sea of tears, and yes, I cried, too. Uncle Ken was a good man. I'm going to miss him, but like I told Andrew later, he's with Miss Ellie now. This was a way for me to say good-bye to both of them...especially since I never really got to say good-bye to Miss Ellie.

(Andrew also said I could have the beautiful plants that had been in Miss Ellie's apartment. I've seen them outside for a while - he said he put them out there to get sun and water. I'll take them upstairs as soon as my ankle is up to it, or I can get someone to help me do so.)

I went to the reception at the house with Jodie and Dad. Dolores and her family had their own party at one of her children's homes in Cherry Hill, but other than that, almost everyone who had been at the memorial service was at the reception. Rose and Jodie had arranged with Anthony's, the restaurant Rose and Craig work for in Haddon Heights, to cater, and for Desserts by Design in Audubon to provide pastries and cookies. I brought the Chocolate-Mint-Fudge Cake I made yesterday.

Spent the rest of the evening threading my way through an ocean of people. I talked to Samantha. I talked to Rose. I talked to my landlords Andrew and Linda. I followed Khai and kept him from snitching sodas from the coolers. I chatted with Mark and Vanessa, Uncle Ken's oldest son and his girlfriend. I had a nice talk with Ethan while we both ate our dinner outside, next to the pool area. (It was pretty much the only place that wasn't being occupied.) I met Mark's son, a young college student who was named after Uncle Ken, while he was talking with Jessa and Jodie's son TJ. I followed Faith and CJ as they played Star Wars. I got some hilarious pictures of Ethan, Matt, CJ, and some of the other kids climbing trees.

By 8PM, the party was starting to wind down, and so was I. I was originally going to go home with Rose and Khai, but Khai was settled in, watching Ice Age movies, and had no desire to go anywhere in a hurry. Vanessa ended up driving me and two other party-goers home.

I had fun, despite my sore foot. As I heard Al mention, it was the kind of party Uncle Ken would have approved of. : )

Friday, October 05, 2012

Girls' Day at Home

I started a lovely, sunny, warm morning with finally finishing the phone calls I need to make for now. The Union and the insurance company now say all of my claims for the orthodontics have finally gone through, and I should be getting them in two weeks. I couldn't find Comcast's phone number on their web site to call them...but it was just as well. I heard from them, anyway. For some reason, my dealings with them yesterday didn't work or hadn't gone through. At any rate, everything's fine now, and they'll be switching my land line phone over from Verizon next week.

Jodie picked me up at noon to run errands. I needed to get to the Acme. Had to pick up my paycheck and disability (sick pay) papers, not to mention fill my refrigerator. Turns out the Acme was having some great sales...which is a good thing, because I was low on basics like milk, whole wheat tortillas, yogurt, and eggs. There was a great Perdue sale; grabbed ground chicken, tenderloins, and chicken sausages for almost half-off. Stocked up on peanut butter, chocolate chips (Nestle's are $1.99 this weekend), buttermilk, honey, and peanut butter. Took advantage of a huge baking sale to grab baking powder, cinnamon sticks, and peppermint and vanilla extracts. Edy's was finally on a good sale. It isn't fall without their heavenly Pumpkin Ice Cream, and this year, I was glad to see that they had it in a light version.

I also got my prescription for higher ibuprofen from the pharmacy. Dr. Berlin gave it to me for the heel spur, but I think it'll now help with both feet. Jodie was nice enough to run over to America's Best for me and pick up my contacts while I waited.

After I paid for my food and hauled it in the van, we both made a quick run to the PNC on the White Horse Pike so we could deposit money. We saw a police parade as we were in the bank; turns out a long-time Oaklyn police official had died this week, along with Uncle Ken, who will be honored tomorrow. (Both have their names on the sign outside of Oaklyn's City Hall on the corner of the White Horse Pike and West Clinton Avenue.)

Other than a very brief sojourn to my landlord's house a block down to drop off my rent, I went nowhere else today. With any other calls put off until I get my foot looked at on Monday, I could actually relax. I ran Felicity: An American Girl Adventure first. This was the second American Girl movie, revolving around their spunky Colonial character Felicity Merriman. Unlike the movies for Samantha and Kit, Felicity's movie pretty much sticks to the books. Felicity is a tomboy living in Williamsburg, Virginia during the tumultuous Revolutionary War. As families and friends are pitted against one another, Felicity finds herself wondering whose side she's on, especially given that her best friend Elizabeth and her beloved grandfather are loyal to the English. When she meets a wild horse with a cruel master, she becomes determined to befriend the animal...and learns the true meaning of freedom in the process.

Of the three AG movies I've seen (I haven't yet caught Molly's or the ones revolving around modern Girls of the Year Chrissa and McKenna), this one is my favorite. Never mind the irony that Felicity isn't really high on my list of AG characters and I'm not the biggest fan of the Colonial era. Felicity's exciting and daring stories come alive in ways that Samantha's and Kit's didn't. And I can understand why Felicity adored her grandfather and dad - David Gardener and John Schneider were particularly good as the male heads of the family on the opposite sides of the War.

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to paperwork, baking a Dark Chocolate Mint Cake for the reception after Uncle Ken's funeral tomorrow, and dubbing another serial, Zorro's Black Whip. Actually, Zorro has nothing to do with this very interesting mid-40s western tale. The Black Whip was a freedom fighter siding with settlers trying to vote Idaho into statehood in 1889. When he and his father are killed, his sister takes over both the Black Whip persona and the family's crusading newspaper. The Black Whip aids a federal agent in bringing law and order to Idaho.

Though this action-packed wild west story from Republic wasn't quite as well-done as the later Federal Agents Vs. Underworld Inc., it had it's own share of fun, from stagecoaches going over cliffs to a raging inferno in a cave. This was a vehicle for Linda Sterling, Republic's answer to the heroines of the silent era serials, who could outshoot, outride, and out-think every guy in the movie, including her love interest. I did find it almost refreshing that we know she's the Black Whip from the get-go, instead of drawing her identity out, as many serials are wont to do with heroes in masks.