Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Cleaning Song

I slept in this morning and didn't really get going until 10:30! As I had a quick breakfast, I decided to take a look at one of the videos I bought on Saturday from that estate sale, the home-recorded one that said "Disney Halloween." Turns out that the "Disney Halloween" in question was Disney's Halloween Treat, which I do already have.

Fast-forwarding to the end of the video uncovered another special I haven't seen in years. Chuck Jones did two holiday specials revolving around Raggedy Ann and Andy in the late 70s, and one of them was the Halloween-themed The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile. The rag doll brother-sister duo team up with their puppy Raggedy Arthur to deliver a very sad pumpkin to a little boy whose grouchy aunt won't let him go out on Halloween. June Foray is the voice of the aunt and Ann; Daws Butler is Andy. Character actor Les Tremayne is the pumpkin who thinks his glum expression means he'll never find a place to spend the holiday.

Nothing special, but very cute. Chuck Jones had some fun with the animation here, especially on the pumpkin. It's a shame neither of the Chuck Jones Raggedy Ann & Andy specials or the bizarre movie are on DVD. Your best bet to find the specials would be You Tube.

Raggedy Ann & Andy and the Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile

I headed out for today's errand run after Ann & Andy ended. It was another gorgeous day, once again sunny and bright and in the mid-70s. I got such a late start that I didn't have the time to fool around, though. I went straight past Cuthbert to Dollar Tree. I needed grape fruit spread and picked up two cards for friends who have October birthdays, Amanda and Lauren.

The Haddon Township Library was my next stop. I needed to return last week's DVDs and do this week's volunteering session. I did what I could with the DVDs. The "S" sections of both the adult and kids' titles are overloaded to the point where I can't squeeze anymore in. It being busy didn't help.

I did find some more DVDs to check out this week. There was another new Scooby Doo 13-episode set, this one revolving around robots and sci-fi. I grabbed The Backyardigans set Mission to Mars, which features two spooky episodes that feel vaguely Halloween-y. I also found the new live-action Hobbit movie. While I still haven't seen the final two Lord of the Rings movies, I always kind of liked the Hobbit book better anyway and enjoyed the animated film as a kid, so I thought I'd give this one a shot.

It was past 2:30 by the time I got out. I really wanted lunch, and I wanted it fast...but not fast food. The Shamrock Deli had no tables, so I moved on Genovia Pizza a block or so down Cuthbert. I ordered a Turkey Club Wrap and fries. I was a little annoyed that the wrap didn't come with bacon like it was supposed to, but otherwise, it was fine. I enjoyed it quickly in a quiet building that was only occupied by the owner, the cook, and me.

When I got home, I called Mom. She and Dad are still supervising work on the garage and didn't have a lot of time to talk. I told Mom about the Town Picnic and my quiet week. She told me about the garage and how she needs to find siding that'll match, since the siding on their house has since been discontinued.

Spent the next hour or so cleaning the bathroom and running Backyardigans episodes. Uniqua, Austin, and Pablo go on a "Mission to Mars" to find out what's been making that "boinga" sound. Great pie master Tyrone teaches his eager apprentice Austin to make "Samurai Pie" for Empress Tasha...if pie-snitching ninjas Uniqua and Pablo don't get it first! Austin has to retrieve Mummy King Tyrone, Werewolf Uniqua, and Vampire Pablo for Mad Scientist Tasha's party. The monsters are so "Scared of You," they're hard to persuade. Austin's upset because his boss seems to have forgotten his birthday...but Tasha has a big surprise in store for him and the monsters at the end. And in "Whodunnit," Detective Pablo has to find out who stole Lady Tasha's jewels! Could it be Tyrone the Butler? Uniqua Underhood, who knew about the jewels before they were stolen? Or Austin Frothingslosh, who has been seen sneaking around the grounds?

As soon as the bathroom was clean, I went right into my newly-scrubbed tub. I soaked in green tea and chamomile-scented water for about 40 minutes while listening to jazz and going over Christmas books. I wasn't in there for as long as Saturday, but it still felt really nice.

Ran Pagan Love Song while making a simple, thrown-together Bean-Vegetable Soup and Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins for dinner. We switch from a studio pool to the real waters of the South Pacific for this laid-back tropical romance. Williams is a swimming instructor in Tahiti who is bored with the tropical life and wants to find more excitement. Howard Keel is a teacher from Ohio who is tired of dealing with unruly kids and wants to find a quieter lifestyle. What they both end up discovering is the charms of Tahiti and its people.

That's about all there is to the plot, but that's ok. This was such a cute movie, I didn't mind the lack of story. Williams looks like she's having far more fun in the real Pacific waters (this was actually filmed in Hawaii) than she ever did in MGM's pools. Howard Keel is a much more charismatic and interesting leading man than Victor Mature or Johnnie Johnston, and sings the heck out of the score. If you're a fan of Williams or Keel and don't mind musicals with more atmosphere than plot, you'll feel just as home here as Keel did.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dancing Through the Fall

Started out another sunny day with Brunch With the Beatles and gingerbread pancakes for a late brunch. The movie and album Magical Mystery Tour were in the spotlight this morning. I haven't seen the movie (and have no desire to - I heard it's almost as weird as the Monkees' Head), but the album of that title is a favorite of mine. Among the familiar songs from this show are "I Am the Walrus," "Baby You're a Rich Man," and the formerly singles-only "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane," and "All You Need Is Love." I tried calling Mom at one point, but she and Dad were busy dealing with reorganizing and remodeling their garage. I'll get them tomorrow.

After the show ended, I put on the second disc of The Monkees Present and changed my American Girl dolls into clothes that are more appropriate for fall weather. They all now wear their original "meet" outfits (the clothes the dolls come in and are pictured on in the front cover of their first books), except for Samantha, who wears her blue and white checked Play Dress and Pinafore and a pair of white and black boots with pearly buttons that I think are from Rebecca's Meet Outfit. It's still too warm for Jessa's black corduroys, so I have her in the Drawstring Cargos.

After I finished dressing the girls and organizing their fall clothes, I threw on sneakers and a sweater and headed down to West Clinton for this year's Town Picnic. Every year in late September/early October, Oaklyn has a fair in front of the Oaklyn School with free food, dances, music, a fire engine ride, and games. Last year, they held it on West Clinton instead of behind the school as they had in previous years, and it was there again this year. There were tables for the Girl Scouts to make ornaments for the town Christmas tree (I think they're trying foam ones this time), for a Halloween costume swap, for Studio LuLoo on West Clinton, and for Oaklyn's Garden Club and Historical Society.

(The Historical Society had a really interesting selection of black-and-white vintage photos. One depicted the train overpass next to the Oaklyn Manor Bar. It looked pretty much the same in what appeared to be the 40s as it does now...except for the stairs on the Manor Bar side leading up to the overpass. I'm guessing that's long gone. I thought the area going up to the overpass seemed awfully stair-like.)

There was still plenty of food left when I got there around 1:30, even though the Picnic started at noon. The line wasn't even that long. I had a pulled chicken sandwich, macaroni salad, and a little Gala apple. There were also grilled burgers and hot dogs, baked beans, and the last of what looked like potato salad and cole slaw. I chose an orange cupcake and a slice of chocolate cake from the dessert table.

I arrived just in time for Ovations, the dance studio on West Clinton, to begin their performances. There were some really interesting numbers. The first looked like the older grade-school age kids, who did a dynamic routine on the civil rights movement in the 60s and the integration of schools to a Michael Jackson song. The younger grade-schoolers had more fun with their version of "Lollipop," which they re-recorded themselves as "Soda Pop." They pranced and scurried around pink tables as adorable little waitresses in mint-green diner uniforms. The pre-teen jazz team had an awesome routine to a medley of big band numbers they called "V Day." Two sailor gob boys and three girls (two in polka-dot dresses, one dressed as a nurse) had a cute, energetic routine. The older teen jazz dancers got tougher with a number to the hard-rock-ish "Heads Will Roll."

I wish I could have stayed for more, but I had work. I headed home as the acrobatic club was beginning a Native American-inspired routine. When I got in, I just quickly changed into my uniform and packed a peach for a snack before heading back out.

Work was really busy through about 4:30, not surprising given the Eagles were playing at 4:30 today. It slowed down considerably after that, enough for me to leave quickly without a relief. There were no really major problems, and I was in and out.

(And ugh. I'm glad I missed most of the game. The Denver Broncos mauled the Eagles, 52-20.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mermaids In the Sunshine

Started off the morning with this week's American Top 40 re-run. Casey jumped back a decade to the bicentennial year of 1976. Soul, R&B, bubblegum pop, and novelty acts ruled the airwaves...but disco was beginning to make a big splash. Top songs that late September included the Bay City Rollers' remake of "I Only Wanna Be With You," "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" by Low Rawls, "Say You Love Me" by Fleetwood Mac, "Still the One" by Orleans, "Wham Bang" by Silver, "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor, "Summer" by War, "Getaway" by Earth Wind and Fire, "She's Gone" by Hall & Oates, "With Your Love" by Jefferson Starship, "A Little Bit More" by Dr. Hook, and "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees. The #1 hit that week was made for dancin' - "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry.

This time, I headed out as Casey was signing off. It was too nice and there was just too much going on to hang around. The weather was absolutely amazing. Sunny skies, soft breezes, mid-70s just doesn't get any more beautiful than this. The leaves are just starting to fall from the trees here, making golden showers as I pass under them.

After fruitless peeks at a yard sale in Oaklyn and two in Collingswood, I arrived at the Collingswood Farm Market. Needless to say, given the gorgeous weather, they were packed. I'm beginning to see the first signs of the fall harvest. Fat orange pumpkins and strange-shaped gourds in fall colors abound, helped by the recent dry streak. Cucumbers are gone, though, and one girl at the orchard booth said this was the last week for peaches. On the other hand, radishes and lettuces of all kinds have returned in spades.

I ended up with the peaches, apples (yellow this time - they were out of small Galas), a tomato, two mini-pumpkins, and my annual large pumpkin. I always buy a medium-sized pumpkin that I keep out from late September through after Thanksgiving, or until it goes bad, whichever comes first. I never carve my pumpkin. For one thing, I'm not good with cutting anything. I'd probably cut myself more than the pumpkin! For another, I like being able to use it for multiple holidays.

I made two more yard sale stops - one in Collingswood, and one in Haddon Township - before heading across Cuthbert Road and into Audubon. Today was Audubon's fall town-wide yard sale. It was nearly as busy today as it had been in April, and almost as hard to navigate. I didn't do as well as I did in the fall, though. I made my best finds at a large estate sale on Washington Terrace. The yard sale outside was more organized than the mess inside. Except for the glassware that was piled on a table, there were things stacked here, there, and everywhere! You'd think people who were going to allow others to roam through their homes would have been more organized about it.

My take ultimately included:

A colorful bracelet made of bright woven rubber bands I bought for a dollar from a pair of enterprising 8-year-olds who were selling bracelets and candy on East Haddon Avenue in Oaklyn. (They claim it glows in the dark!)

One book: Iced by Carol Higgins Clark

Two videos: Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland (which I watched on YouTube last year and very much enjoyed) and a home-recorded video labeled as "Disney Halloween" - we'll see what that turns out to be.

Four DVDs: A double bill of the 90s Little Princess and Secret Garden (still in its plastic!), Silver Spoons: The Complete First Season (more complete than the taped-off-UPN episodes Lauren sent me), the Doris Day musical Calamity Jane, and Kung-Fu Panda 

I wasn't going to go until 3PM without lunch this time. I stopped at Simply Soups around 1PM. There were quite a few families and couples there already, and service was slow. Good thing I kept it to my usual breadsticks, can of soda (Diet A&W), and small cup of soup (a creamy turkey and pumpkin with wild rice) that was delicious as always and worth waiting for.

By that point, it was almost 2PM. I was tired, and most yard sales would probably be shutting down. I just went straight home. I went online for a little while to look something up, but the stunning day kept calling me. I went back outside for a stroll to the CVS on the border of Oaklyn and Collingswood. It was certainly a lovely afternoon for it. There were lots of people out and about - dog walkers, teenagers on bikes, kids playing in yards, people chatting in gardens or on porches. The sound of drums and brass instruments being practiced filled the air.

The big item I needed at CVS was anti-itch cream. I seem to have developed a rash on my upper thighs and arms. I'm guessing it has to do with the antibiotics I'm taking for my tooth. I wonder if I'm having a bad reaction to it. I also picked up a bag of soothing chamomile and green tea Epsom salts and Palmolive dish washing liquid on sale.

When I got home, I went straight into the bath. Oh, did I need it! I added the salts and soaked in the perfumed water for over an hour and a half. I put on the first CD in the Monkees Present Deluxe Edition and looked over more of my Christmas craft books while enjoying the peace.

After I finally got out, I put on Million Dollar Mermaid while making lamb chops with sauteed peppers and Chinese beans for dinner. Esther Williams had apparently lobbied for years to do the biography of Australian swimming star Annette Kellerman for years before MGM finally gave into her in 1952. Kellerman grew up in Sydney with her doting father (Walter Pidgeon). Crippled as a child, she started swimming as a way to build up her legs. She eventually built them up to the point where she won every amateur swimming competition in New South Wales by adulthood. Lacking money, she and her father set off for London. She first encounters James Sullivan (Victor Mature) on a boat to England, where he hopes to promote a boxing kangaroo. He's even more interested in Kellerman when she tells him about her tropies and how popular she was back home.

When they get to England, he convinces her to swim the Thames, which she does as a publicity stunt. It works, and soon they take off for New York. Broadway audiences aren't ready for a swimming star, so Sullivan tries to get her to swim in Boston. There's a huge outcry there over her one-piece bathing suit, which she wears to win competition, the bloomer-style suits in vogue being too heavy for swimming. She's arrested for indecency, but Sullivan convinces her to take on the courts. After all that, she appears in Sullivan's carnival shows, but they quarrel over her right to do more legit tours outside of the water and break up. She finally gets an offer to appear in water ballets at the enormous New York Hippodrome theater, which she does to great success. Meanwhile, Sullivan is trying any way he can to drum up cash, including taking part in an air race. When an accident occurs during the making of Kellerman's first movie, it's Sullivan who finally rushes to her side.

I can understand why Williams wanted to play Kellerman. Kellerman apparently went on to become a popular film star in fantasy-oriented water-set movies like A Daughter of the Gods, which seems to have been the first movie with a nude shot and the first million-dollar movie. Even after her movie and stage career fizzled, she remained an avid advocate of health issues and exercise for the rest of her life. (Kellerman's not the only one who had an accident on a movie set that almost derailed her career, either. Williams hurt her neck while doing a diving stunt for one of the Hippodrome water ballets and wound up in a neck brace for months.)

Unfortunately, the emphasis on romance drags this one down even more than in the romantic comedies. Victor Mature was never really comfortable in musicals, this one included, and isn't having much fun as the huckster who doesn't want to be seen as riding his girlfriend's mermaid tails. Pidgeon's better as the father who wants the best for his daughter, even giving up his music career for her.

Even with the leading man problems, I still recommend this one as a starter Williams film because of the relatively strong story. If you can handle the sappy romance and enjoy Williams and her aqua antics, dive right in.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Monkee-ing Around With a Swimming Star

Started today off with finishing Clarice Bean, Don't Look Now. As a fellow worrywart, I can certainly relate to Clarice's assortment of worries - her family is arguing over their remodeling, her best friend just moved away, her drama teacher cancels the class due to pregnancy, a new girl from Sweden seems to be getting a lot of the boys' attention, and she has tickets for the premiere of the movie version of her favorite spy-oriented books, but no one to ask to them. She combs through the spy novels for advice, trying to figure out how to deal with things like her favorite heroine, Ruby Redfort...and learns that heroism can sometimes come from the least-likely places, and that you really can't judge a ginger-spiced cookie by it's crumb.

Made a quick trip to the Acme around 11. There were things that I either couldn't get yesterday at Shop Rite because they were too heavy or cold to carry home, or that were just a better price here. I bought two packs of lamb shoulder fillets, two packs of single tillapia fillets, sugar, brown sugar (Domino's is on sale this week), and tomato paste. Nestle's chocolate chips were also on sale. I bought the dark chocolate bag and opted to try their Halloween themed bag with semi-sweet chocolate chips and orange-colored white chips.

When I got home, I put everything away, then had a quick sandwich for lunch while finishing This Time For Keeps, which I started before I left. Once again, Esther finds herself torn between a GI and an older man. In this case, the returning private is Dick Johnson (Johnnie Johnston) who has abandoned his former fiancee and his father's (Lauritz Melichor) wishes for him to be an opera singer to pursue Esther and a career as a pop vocalist. This time, Esther is a star in an aquatic revue, with Jimmy Durante her overprotective manager and family friend. When Melichor declares his son's intention of marrying another woman, a heartbroken Williams flees to her grandmother's home to sort things out...and the men follow, including Johnston.

I liked this even less than Thrill of a Romance.  Crooner Johnston was unlikable and stiff; Melichor's character had more to do with the plot but was less easy-going. At the very least, it was more of a musical, with a genuine water ballet choreographed by Stanley Donen. Jimmy Durante had some decent numbers. Same as the last one - for fans of Williams or the cast only.

The mail arrived while the movie was running. The Monkees Present Deluxe Edition was here! The most recent Rhino Handmade Monkees 3-disk set of rarities covers my favorite of the three albums the group made after Peter Tork quit. Great songs here range from Mike's classic "Listen to the Band" to Micky's raging "Mommy and Daddy" and gentle "Pillow Time" and Davy's ballad "French Song" and rocking "Looking For the Good Times." To be honest, I would have waited to buy this, but it's a limited edition, and as the last Monkees album that Rhino intends to release as a deluxe edition, I don't know how long this will be around.

(Oh, and while I'm debating picking up the Deluxe Edition of the Head soundtrack somewhere along the line, this pretty much finishes out my Monkees collection.)

Work wasn't too bad when I came in, but it got much busier during rush hour. We're getting close to the beginning of the month. Other than the usual assortment of cranky people associated with the beginning of the month, we had no real problems, and I was in and out.

I ran Disney cartoons when I got home and earlier this afternoon. Started with Silly Symphonies, including the spooky "Hell's Bells" and "The Cat's Out," and the less frightening seasonal music video "Autumn." The black-and-white "The Spider and the Fly" and the color "The Moth and the Flame" tell variations on the same story - a group of insects band together to save their own from a nasty spider or a flame who threatens to burn a pretty moth miss. "Little Hiawatha" wants to be a brave warrior, but he can't bring himself to shoot a defenseless deer. Showing their appreciation, the woodland critters help him in return when he's in trouble. "Cock O' the Walk" is a cocky rooster fighter, but he may have met his match in a skinny rooster who wants his girl back.

Mickey and the gang had their own black-and-white fall fun. Mickey is "The Galloping Gaucho" in one of his earliest shorts, where he does Spanish dances with Minnie and enjoys a few glasses of beer. " Mickey has to rescue Minnie from a vicious ape in "The Gorilla Mystery." Mickey and Pluto don't have much luck when they head out to the pond for "The Duck Hunt." Mickey proves to be one heck of a party mouse when he even gets the furniture and clothes dancing in "The Whoopee Party." He's a better quarterback than one might think of such a little guy in "Touchdown Mickey." And "Klondike Kid" has him going after Minnie again when Pete kidnaps her and Mickey chases them across the frozen north.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thrill of a Bike Ride

I slept in a little this morning. Actually, I hadn't meant to. I opened my eyes at 7:30 and closed them again for five minutes. When I opened them again, it was almost 9:30. Oh well. At the very least, I was off today with no really major plans. I could afford to sleep in.

Ran a few more Backyardigans episode as I ate my quick cereal breakfast. Uniqua and Pablo run "The Big Dipper Diner," where their best customer is a cute little alien named Hugs. The two find themselves having to hide the critter from Officers Tyrone and Tasha when they mistake Hugs for a similar criminal alien who goes around shrinking things. In "Pablor and the Acorns," Pablo and Uniqua are intergalactic overlords who are chasing after a crystal that could give them unlimited power. When Pablor crash-lands on Earth, he gets help from Acorn scouts Austin, Tyrone, and Tasha that makes him rethink the real meaning of power and of helping others.

It was still full-out sunny when I finally headed out on the bike around 11:30. The sun was a bit warmer than earlier in the week, and it was slightly more humid. Otherwise, the weather remained seasonal and fall-ish, perfect for a long bike ride. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there. Other than the usual crowd on the computers and discussing fund-raising programs, it was quiet. I organized DVDs and gave the kids' section a going-over. Took out a TCM collection of Esther Williams movies that includes my favorite vehicle of hers, Million Dollar Mermaid

It was past 12:30 by the time I headed out, and nearly 1 when I made it to Barrington. There's a small diner next to the Barrington Antique Center that I've wanted to try for ages. It's your standard formica-and-vinyl hash house with faded paintings of country scenes on the wall and middle-aged men chatting away in the seats. The food is also pretty standard diner fare - burgers, cheese steaks, fried entrees, all kinds of grilled sandwiches. The prices were really cheap for this area, though. My pizza steak only cost a little over five dollars. It was pretty decent, just tomato sauce, steak, and cheese in a roll, but filling enough. I ignored the court shows on the small flat screen TV and watched the younger waitress greet her adorable toddler sons and her husband.

The main reason for my outing today was to check out some of the stores beyond Barrington. A large Shop Rite replaced the closed Pathmark in Lawnside; Hallmark replaced Blockbuster. Sadly, it looks like nothing has replaced the Fashion Bug or the K-Mart I visited last year. Both stores were still quite empty. The dollar store there was gone, too.

I took a brief look at Hallmark. It was actually quite lovely, probably only the second stand-alone Hallmark I've ever seen after the one on the Washington Street Mall in Cape May during my childhood. They had a nice selection of stuffed animals, especially those huge round Ty ball-like toys that are "in" right now.

Shop Rite proved to be more useful. They looked a lot like Wegman's without that store's additional health food and home goods aisles. There was a fair-sized produce section and a much larger cafe/hot foods selection than the Acme has. They had far better flour and sugar prices, although their canned good prices were on a par with ours (ironically, despite their bi-annual "Can Can" sale). I ended up with pads, oat bran, tuna, and vinegar, all on good sales.

It was only 2:30 when I left Shop Rite. With nothing better to do, I continued on past the shopping center to see what there was to see. I rode down the White Horse Pike, past Popeye's and an abandoned bar and Lowes' and the FedEx sorting and shipping building. I ultimately ended up at a hobby/crafts store housed in a small, blocky gray building on the White Horse Pike. They had a better selection of models than craft items. I did buy a skein of lavender yarn for a project for my friend Lauren for Christmas.

By 3PM, the traffic on the White Horse Pike was getting ugly. I figured it was time for me to head home. I made one short stop at the WaWa in Audubon for milk and a Diet Dr. Pepper with raspberry and vanilla syrups. Otherwise, I just headed back to my place.

Ran one more Backyardigans episode as I got organized. Uniqua, Tyrone, and Pablo are "The Amazing Splashinis," a diving act. They want to do a really hard move that involves performing six rolls while in the air, but they can't seem to get high enough. Meanwhile, a friendly but large sea serpent has invaded their main pool. He's not mean, but he takes up too much space to stay! The kids first try to lead him out to the ocean, then scare him out. He gets so scared that he ends up in the water park, leading the kids on a wacky chase to make sure he doesn't cause too much damage.

Went right into the bath after the show ended. I needed a nice, long bath after my long ride today! I looked over some of my Christmas craft books, kicked back, and relaxed as my George Winston/Vince Guaradli jazz CD played in the background.

I spent the rest of the night baking devil's food cookies (from a cake mix), making ratatouille to go with the last of my leftover meatloaf for dinner, and watching the first movie on the Esther Williams set, Thrill of a Romance. Williams plays a swimming teacher in LA who is married to a rich businessman (Carleton Young) after a courtship of a month. Hubby turns out to be more dedicated to his job than his new wife and runs off to deal with his work in Washington DC, leaving Williams figuratively high and dry at the luxury resort where they're spending their honeymoon. Cue a handsome war hero (Van Johnson) who takes one look at Williams and decides he could use some swimming lessons, pronto. A visiting opera star (Lauritz Melichor, in his debut) and band leader Tommy Dorsey do their best to play cupid between musical numbers.

Pretty but ultimately disappointing. I was really hoping for a lot more from this one. The costumes were lovely, Johnson and Williams had some great chemistry, and Melichor was surprisingly enjoyable for an opera star making his first appearance on film. I just wish the movie found better things to do with all of them than dump them at a hotel. Williams, for all her star status, doesn't really have much to do, not even a fancy swimming sequence. I was surprised with several reviewers online and at complaining that the movie had too many musical numbers. I thought it wasn't enough of a musical. While Dorsey and his are used more than they were in DuBarry Was a Lady, they still aren't all that well-integrated, and Melichor sometimes feels like he came in from another movie entirely. Really for fans of Williams or Johnson only.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Dog, the Damsel, and the Beatnick

Actually, I slept in again. I did manage to fit in a laundry run this time. It wasn't a huge load, but I did need to get it done. Thankfully, by the time I got there around quarter of 12, it wasn't really busy. The Acme called me in early, and I didn't have a lot of time to get things done. I was in and out in less than an hour.

At least it was a nice day for a walk. The weather continues to be perfect here. It was slightly warmer today, but otherwise no different. The trees are just starting to lose their leaves. Mums and asters (not to mention Halloween and fall decorations) are popping up in gardens and lawns. It was really very pleasant.

I ran the rest of the Scooby Doo set while sorting the laundry and getting ready for work. Scooby and the gang fall victim to "The Stony Glare Stare" on a trip to ancient Greece. A cursed mummy on display in a museum also turns his victims into stone in "Scooby Doo and a Mummy Too." The kids visit Velma's aunt, uncle, and cousin to enjoy "A Scooby Doo Halloween," at least until the arrival of a group of scarecrows bent on destroying the party!

The final two episodes are from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo. This 1985 series was the first of two Scooby shows to date to have an ongoing plotline, rather than just the gang stumbling into monsters. (The second was the most recent show, Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated.) Scooby, Shaggy, Scrappy, Daphne, and an orphan named Flim Flamm travel around, trying to find the ghosts of the title that Scooby inadvertently released onto the world. "Scooby Kadoobra" is something of a riff on several 80s sword and sorcery cartoons as Scooby and the others try to rescue a princess from the dark magic of an evil sorcerer and restore her kingdom to it's original pleasant state. "Scooby In Kwackyland" allows the crew to run rampant through several comics spoofs and a take on Alice In Wonderland. A monster traps them in the funny pages, and they have to find the key that got them there and avoid the monster in order to get home.

(Oh, and unlike the previous holiday-themed set, those who have trouble with Scrappy will only encounter him in four episodes, two of them from 13 Ghosts.)

The Acme wanted me in at 1. I told them 2, and didn't make it until past 2:15. As usual, it really wasn't that busy when I finally made it. Supposedly, one of the older women called out because her daughter was in labor, but I saw her sign out later. Whatever. Once again, it was only busy during rush hour, but this time it was so bad, we really did need to call up more help. It slowed down enough by 8 that I got out quickly without a relief.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tiki Scares and Other Scooby Stories

Today was my first day back at work after vacation. It was really boring. The store was fairly quiet for most of the afternoon. I can completely understand why our hours were cut. It did pick up later, when rush hour kicked in, but as several employees pointed out, it came in spurts. It was fairly busy when I left. Thankfully, my relief was on time.

There was a huge box on the porch when I got in. The fall decorations (and my pajamas) had arrived from Mom's house! I lugged the huge cardboard cube upstairs. I checked to make sure everything was ok, then had leftover soup for dinner while watching more Scooby.

Shaggy and Scooby have a close encounter with a ghostly medicine man when the head of their Hawaiian tour group disappears in "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair" from the original 1969 show. A witch tries to scare the kids away from a spooky bayou and a stranded riverboat in "Which Witch Is Which", but the kids discover that there's a lot more to this magical crone than meets the eye. Magic is also at the heart of the mid-70s episode "Scared A Lot In Camelot." Mystery Inc visits Shaggy's uncle in his medieval castle brought over from England. When they arrive, his uncle has vanished, and a ghostly wizard named Merlin is bringing some real malice to the palace! The gang search for Shaggy's uncle while trying to figure out what the wizard's really after. And in "Hang In There, Scooby Doo," a hang-gliding contest gets scary when Scooby and the kids see a pterodactyl who wants every to leave the canyon where the contest is taking place. It looks like the dinosaurs have made a comeback...until the kids start exploring the caves in the canyon and find a more recent explanation for the flying lizard's appearance.

Monday, September 23, 2013

End of Vacation

Actually, I ended my vacation very quietly. I don't have much money, and it doesn't look like I'll be earning any for a while. I slept until nearly 10 and didn't get going and out of the apartment until almost noon. Spent what little of the morning I saw having breakfast and watching a few last Backyardigans episodes, including "Movers of Arabia." One of the show's stranger spoofs has Tyrone hiring movers Uniqua and Pablo to haul his stuff to his palace. The catch is that his stuff is magic, and among the objects is a bottle containing Austin the Genie. Austin grants the movers three wishes...but will they be enough to help the kids get past Tyrone's magical objects?

It was a beautiful day for a ride to the Haddon Township Library. Once again, the sun was shining, the breeze was soft and cool, and the sky was blue. It goes without saying that there were quite a few people out and about, and the playground was busy with kids and parents enjoying the lovely weather.

The library was surprisingly busy too, given the nice day. I shelved and organized all the DVDs I could. The kids' titles and foreign titles are overloaded to the point where there's just no room for all of them, even after clearing out anything that doesn't belong. I took out DVDs for the first time in ages, a Scooby Doo Halloween-themed episode set, a 2009-version Angelina Ballerina set, and the movie The Mysterious Mr. Moto with Peter Lorre as the title detective. I also grabbed a couple of books on crocheting and Saucepans and the Single Girl, a re-release and updating of a popular 60s cookbook for single women looking for inexpensive recipes for parties and boyfriend visits, and Molly's Cookbook, one of the series of kids' cookbooks based after historical characters American Girl released in the 90s and early 2000s.

It was well past 3 when I finally made it out of the library. I bought dried fruit to try a recipe in Molly's Cookbook at Thriftway, and they have better prices on generic cooking spray than the Acme does. I was very disappointed that Dollar Tree no longer had the little jars of fruit spread I'd been using and only had the too-sweet squeeze bottles that were impossible to get to the bottom of. I left there with nothing.

I debated going out to eat all afternoon. By the time I got out of Dollar Tree, it was 4 PM. Between the late hour and my lack of cash, I just ended up heading home. I finally had leftover mushroom-pasta soup before jumping into a short but warm and much-appreciated bath.

After my bath, I made Merlin's Magic (Baked) Chicken and my favorite sauteed spinach and mushrooms with the last of the leftover sweet potatoes and apples for dinner, then baked up those Fruit Bars of Molly's for dessert. Ran Angelina and Scooby during my meals. My favorite episodes of this musical-themed Angelina Ballerina set were the last two. Angelina and her pals hold a Motown-themed dance-a-thon to raise money for a local club to plant trees in their town, but an overzealous Gracie accidentally recycles the paper with the list of donations!

The final episode is especially sweet. Angelina and the others create their own opera in order to help them remember facts about their town's history and its involvement with cheese better. It reminds me of how we did similar projects in elementary school to learn Cape May's long and storied history.

Scooby and the Mystery Inc crew are too busy running from ghosts to be singing opera or learning facts! In the holiday special Scooby Doo and the Spooky Scarecrow, the gang find themselves saving a town's corn festival from a vengeful straw man who may have more than dodging crows on his mind. Two classic episodes of the original 1969 series also dealt with traditional horror icons. "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Werewolf?" has the kids on a camping trip that gets scary when they run head-on into a greenish, furry creature who comes out when the moon is full. "A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts" goes into full-on Universal horror territory as Mystery Inc are chased by Dracula, Frankenstein, and another, more animal-like werewolf while trying to figure out what's going on in a scary castle.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's a Wild World

I slept in, as I usually do on a Sunday. Got up at 9:30 and read The Wizard of Oz for a little while before switching on Brunch With the Beatles. "Songs from the original 13 British records" was the simple, broad theme today. Good. I like it when they do broad themes. That meant they could pretty much play anything from "She Loves You" to "Let It Be" as long as it was originally on one of the 13 records the Beatles put out in England.

I kept breakfast simple, too. Used the English toasting bread I bought from Acme last week to make French toast. Not bad, but it came out a little mushy. I probably should have cooked it longer. At least it tasted nice drizzled with honey. (Maple syrup is too expensive, and I'm not using that fake pancake syrup stuff anymore - that's all chemicals.)

After the show ended, I threw on my old blue sweater, grabbed Miss Ellie's old push cart, and headed back to East Clinton Avenue for the second day of their street-wide yard sale. It was a beautiful day for it, too. The sky was blue, with some thick, fat clouds that weren't as threatening as yesterday's. There was a chilly wind that kept it from feeling as warm as yesterday did, and the rain got rid of the humidity.

I was a little disappointed that there were only a few yard sales out on East Clinton, despite the nice weather. I did buy a candy-making book and a cookie cookbook from the two ladies I picked up the teddy bear book from yesterday. I ducked back around to Cuthbert to see if the man who was selling all those records was there again. Nope. Cuthbert was surprisingly quiet for a Sunday.

Stopped at Family Dollar on my way home. I normally avoid the Family Dollar on the White Horse Pike, but I needed a new dish pan (I had my old one at least since I moved here, and it was disgusting) and a plastic bin for all the yarn I've collected over the past year or so. It took me a few minutes to decide, but I eventually found a big plastic bin with a lime-green lock top and a brick-red dish pan that hopefully won't show as much grime as the old white one.

The moment I got home, I put the dish pan in the kitchen sink, and took the bin in the back room. Score! The yarn fit perfectly, even the little bags of scrap yarn Mom sent me. I lay the thick plastic bag on top to keep moths out, then stacked the bin on top of the one with my seasonal clothes.

After a quick lunch of leftover soup, I grabbed my sweater and a cloth bag and headed over to the Acme. I needed to get my schedule for next week and restock a few things, mainly milk, buttermilk, and eggs (the Acme's 12-pack is on sale for $1.99 this week). I was out of applesauce and almost out of peanut butter.

My schedule for this week is not good. I only have 15 hours! My vacation officially ends tomorrow, but I also have Thursday and Saturday off. I'm not as upset as I would have been with such hours this time last year. For one thing, I do have some money saved and haven't had to use it pay my rent all summer. For another, the holidays are coming. I'm hoping this is the same deal as mid-January, which would have been the last time I had hours like that. Once people start buying things for sports parties (hockey and basketball start next month) and fall festivals and Christmas bazaars and Halloween parties, the hours should shoot back up again.

On the other hand, I could use the rest. I feel like I've been going non-stop since February! I had far more hours during the summer and late spring than I usually do. That's been a big help to replenish my bank accounts, which took big hits when I was off of work last fall, but I've felt stressed and sore for weeks.

When I got home, I briefly called Mom. She was trying to organize things in the garage so she could lay new floor down there and couldn't talk long. I told her about my busy couple of days. She said she'd send the package with the fall decorations and my pajamas (I left them there - oops) sometime this week. Oh, and she finally heard from my brother Keefe, who's in the Navy in North Carolina. She didn't say much else, so I'm going to assume he's fine and still busy working.

I spent a lovely, quiet half-hour or so finishing The Wizard of Oz. That's our old copy of the original book that's been around since I was a kid. It was Rose's, but I ended up reading it more than she did, so Mom gave it to me when I moved to Wildwood. (Mom still has my Grimm's Fairy Tales in a similar edition.)

Spent the rest of the evening listening to football and cooking. I had the end of the Packers-Bengals game on when I was talking to Mom. The Bengals just squeaked by the Packers even as we chatted, 34-30. I heard most of the second half of the Dolphins-Falcons game as I made a Peach Foldover Pie and had Spinach Pancakes (eggs, spinach, cheese, and in this case, mushrooms - an old quick recipe from when I lived in Wildwood and needed a lot of cheap, fast dinners) for dinner. The Falcons were winning after the first half, but the Dolphins came back to tie the game by the 3rd quarter, getting a touchdown in the last minutes that won them the game, 27-23. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Excellent Yard Sale Adventure

I slept until 8:30 and only got to hear the last half-hour or so of this week's American Top 40 re-run. September 1984 was a very busy time for me and my family, as I began kindergarten and my parents prepared for the arrival of a third child. Songs on the radio helped get me through that change-filled early fall included "What's Love Got to Do With It" by Tina Turner, "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince and the Revolution, and "She-Bop" by Cyndi Lauper. That week's number one song was the ballad "Missing You" by John Waite.

I finally got out the door around 9:30. I didn't get back in the door until after 3:30. There was just so much going on today, starting with East Clinton Avenue's bi-annual street-wide yard sale. I did pick up two things there today, but there really weren't all that many sales out. I may go back there tomorrow and see if anyone else is going to have tables.

Hit the Farm Market after one more short yard sale stop in Collingswood. It was about 10:30, much later than I usually get there, and the place was absolutely packed. The weather probably helped. It was once again sunny and beautiful, but warmer and slightly more humid than it has been, probably in the lower 80s. I ducked around people long enough to buy peaches, Chinese beans, a tomato, a cucumber, mushrooms, two little eggplants that looked more like mini striped tomatoes, and a beautiful, sunset-orange decorative gourd. Grabbed a recipe for mushroom-pasta soup at the mushroom booth that looked tasty, too.

Hit up two more sales in the neighborhood between Haddon Avenue and Cooper River Park that I explored last week. My getting lost last Saturday was not in vain. I now knew the street names and got to both sales and one on East Cuthbert without incident.

By that point, it was past noon. I was hot and sweaty and feeling burned. I managed to dodge the heavy traffic on Cuthbert and get over to Primo's. A medium pumpkin water ice went a long way to cooling me down. So did a heavy wind that started blowing across Haddon Avenue.

I followed the traffic down Haddon Avenue, and then over to Westmont Avenue. I was surprised at all the traffic down there. I realized what the mess was about when I arrived at the Haddonfield Bus Terminal (briefly stopping for lemonade at a yard sale a block away). There was a gigantic flea market at the parking lot behind One Centennial Plaza, a huge office building. Since the parking lot is just as big, there were probably over a hundred tables there. Most of their wares were collectibles or antiques that were beyond my budget, though. I finally moved on.

I had far more luck at another event just a block away. The reason for all the traffic on Westmont Avenue was part of the road where the Haddon Township Library was had been blocked off for their Book Sale. Unlike the Oaklyn Library's two tables and cart of books, this was so big, there were two tents filled with book-laden tables, three tables and a cart of other media like DVDs, videos, and CDs, and four boxes of records. I bought a bottle of water from the bake sale, a coffee-table book, two videos, and three DVDs.

I was just about out of money at this point. I did have enough for one last multi-family yard sale on the other side of Cuthbert, where ended up with two records. Needless to say, by 3PM I was pooped and broke and sunburned. I hadn't even had lunch yet! I made one more stop at WaWa for a small turkey hoagie and to hit the ATM machine before I finally made it back to the apartment.

My total haul for today was:

Four books: Two coffee table books on Broadway musicals and teddy bears, and two young adult novels, the Dear America story Dreams In the Golden Country and Clarice Bean, Don't Look Now, by Charlie and Lola creator Lauren Child.

Three DVDs: Little Einsteins Legend of the Golden Pyramid (which for some reason was in the case for Mission Celebration!), The Backyardigans Movers and Shakers, and the Christmas special Merry Madagascar

Five CDs, all classic rock related: AM Gold 1966, Rock and Roll Hits '67, the two-disc Time Life set Classic Soft Rock: Into the Night, and Have a Nice Day Vol. 9 and 16

Three Videos: The Doris Day musical By the Light of the Silvery Moon (still in it's original plastic!), the John Wayne/Lauren Bacall action flick Blood Alley, and the serial Zorro's Fighting Legion

And two records: The original Broadway cast for Carnival, featuring Anna Maria Albergetti and Jerry Orbach, and the 50s studio cast album for The Desert Song, featuring Nelson Eddy and Doretta Morrow

It goes without saying that I didn't do much else today. When I did get in, I put on Little Einsteins and relaxed and ate my hoagie before I even put everything away. My favorite art and music connoisseurs headed on three exotic adventures to Egypt, China, and San Francisco. My favorite was the last one. Art of the 1980s and Edvarg Grieg's music highlighted the tale of Annie's purple toy airplane trying to rescue a green helicopter stuck in a redwood tree. I loved how the kids used the busy yellow and black painting as downtown traffic and had to dodge the traffic "blocks!"

I practically required a very long bath after my own adventure today. I put on Rogers and Hart songs and slid into a relaxing hour in a hot tub, paging through the Broadway Musicals book. There were fat clouds on the horizon even as I was going home. As I slid into the tub, the world grew darker, and the wind picked up considerably. It was raining a little after I got out, but not heavily.

I switched to The Backyardigans while making that mushroom-pasta soup recipe from the farm market to go with my leftover turkey meatloaf for dinner. Three of my favorite episodes are on the Movers and Shakers set. "Cops and Robots" features Uniqua and Tyrone as intergalactic police officers who have to stop bad 'bots Tasha and Pablo from turning all the robots in the galaxy bad! The "Can't Stop the Cops" song here is one of the show's catchiest tunes. In "Sinbad Sails Alone," Tyrone plays the famous sailor of legend, who is determined to find the end of the rainbow all by himself. Pablo, however, wants to be a sailor too, no matter how much trouble he causes. Uniqua, Pablo, and Austin are "The Best Clowns In Town," but they need a circus to appear in. Tyrone is a ringmaster, but he's humorless and not a fan of clowns. The other three try to make him smile as they help him catch up to his train.

Oh, and it did rain about an hour or so ago, and hard! It's still raining now, though not quite as heavily. I hope it'll be gone by tomorrow. I always take a nice walk on Sundays when I'm off and there's no football games on.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I'm On My Way Home

Started out today the same way as yesterday - in bed, trying to let my nephew get to school without distraction. After Mom came back, I got dressed, and we headed out to the Four Seasons Diner in Rio Grande for a late breakfast. The Four Seasons took over the former WaWa building in 2004 when the convenience store moved across the street to a larger location. It's been a family favorite ever since. Despite it being busy, we had no problems sliding into a booth. Mom had her favorite, an omelet with spinach, feta cheese, and tomatoes. I had a waffle topped with apples, raisins, and cinnamon. I loved mine, and Mom said she enjoyed hers a lot, but neither of us could finish them.

When we got home, Mom pulled her old fall, spring, and Halloween decorations down from the attic (avoiding the four bats who apparently have moved in up there). She's tired of constantly putting up small items and wants to get rid of most of it. She kept most of mine and my siblings' old artwork and things we made in art class in school. I kept some vintage cardboard hangings, two resin hangings for outside, a small flat wood scarecrow holding a leaf, a more traditional small straw scarecrow, beautiful wire leaf garlands Mom said she got when she worked at Michael's, the bat stuffed Beanie-type toy Eckard's sold in the mid-late 90s when they had holiday-themed Beanies, a bat and an egg table cover that Mom made herself, a twine garland of hand-made fabric bats and moons, a miniature Easter garland hung with tiny wooden bunnies, carrots, and eggs, and two tins filled with small Easter and Halloween toys, including our McDonald's Chicken McNugget and McDonaldland Halloween Happy Meal prizes from the 80s and 90s.

We had leftover pizza for a quick lunch, then talked for an hour or so about family matters before it was time for me to head out. I thought it would be safer for me to leave from the Villas, instead of busy Rio Grande. The last time I was down here, I got so confused waiting for the bus at Rio Grande, and it took forever.  It did the trick. The 2:34 bus to Atlantic City was only about five minutes late (not bad for that bus), and had a good crowd without being overstuffed. It arrived at 4:30, allowing me just enough time to dash for the Train Station to pick up the 4:42 to Lindenwold.

I just made it. The train left right on time. It was delayed by two trains coming in the opposite direction from Philadelphia who had apparently had problems with signals, but was only about 10 minutes or so late. The 6:07 down the White Horse Pike was actually five minutes early. Once I got on that bus, despite the heavy traffic, I had no problems whatsoever. The bus stopped across from the 7-11 in Oaklyn, and I walked home from there, remembering to call a worried Mom when I got in. I spent the rest of a quiet evening putting everything away and eating leftovers while watching more Rick Steves' Europe.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Down at the Jersey Shore

Actually, I started the day by laying in bed. Mom was taking Skylar to school, and I didn't want to disrupt anything. After he left, I read The Wizard of Oz and wrote in my journal for a while. When he left and Mom came back, I got dressed, then went downstairs and had a bagel and an apple for breakfast.

Mom and I finally decided to explore the Washington Street Mall in Cape May. Once again, it was a gorgeous day for it. It was a little warmer than yesterday, into the lower 70s, and a tad bit breezier. Otherwise, the weather remained as perfect as it's going to get in southern New Jersey in early September.

The Washington Street Mall is three blocks of restored storefronts in downtown Cape May. Traffic isn't allowed for much of the mall, making it a great place for a stroll. Our first stop was the Cape May branch of the Winterwood Christmas Shop. Originally a bank, this imposing building was a gift shop throughout the 80s and 90s until the Cape May Winterwood moved there a couple of years ago. They seemed to be doing very well, with a great selection almost on a par with the larger Winterwood in Rio Grande. Mom and I admired Halloween decorations, prints of drawings of Cape May Victorian homes, and ornaments of all shapes and sizes, for everyone from ballerinas to dog lovers.

Our next stop was a surprise. Standing out amid the pastel or bright-colored buildings was one painted stark black. We entered to find a world of exposed pipes, dark colors, heavy hoodies, and broadcloth shirts in stripes with checked cuffs. Yes, it was a men's store, one of the first on the mall since Barry's shut down in the 90s and was replaced by Frailinger's Candy Store, much to Dad's dismay.

After a quick walk down Liberty Way , an alley with several stores, we hit Dellas 5 & 10. Dellas is Cape May's equivelent of an old-fashioned Woolworth's, complete with a lunch counter. There used to be a lot more "real" clothing (as in, without the Cape May name) and seasonal items there, but it's still your best bet on Cape Island besides the tiny Acme if you want to find things you need that don't have shells on them. (And they still have a decent cheap toy selection. Mom used to let us pick a dollar toy from there during visits when we were very little.) I got nothing here; Mom wanted cough drops.

I had to explore the mall's two toy stores. I can never pass up a good toy store. We first took a look at The Toy Shop of Cape May, a relatively small store that opened in the early 90s, just in time for Keefe to start collecting their selection of Thomas the Tank Engine figures. They also have an excellent selection of board games. Mom says she gets board games for her grandsons from there.

The Washington Street Mall has a mall within a mall. The City Center Mall opened during my early childhood. Their leather store is a little expensive and it looks like their art gallery is gone, but they still have The Zoo Company of Cape May toy store. In fact, the Zoo Company seems to have moved across the main concourse to a larger store that used to be a surf shop. They still have a great stuffed animal collection (I bought a lot of stuffed toys there as a kid), plenty of plastic minature figures, and are the only place in town to buy Sanrio products. (Incidentally, it looks like a cigar store took over their long-time, always rather cramped space.)

When the Atlantic Book Store closed in the old First Fidelity bank (it's now a Stewart's Soda Shop), another book store opened in the City Center Mall, the Cape Atlantic Book Company. They actually took over most of the right side of the second story except for the space that has always belonged to Judy's Jewels. Alas, they weren't anything special and didn't really carry much you couldn't find in a Barnes and Noble besides some local-interest books.

We explored a few gift shops next. Mom liked the hats and scarves at American West, Madame's Port, and Swede Things In America, but all three were expensive. We wound up at Across the Way, a lovely little store at the end of the mall next to an ice cream parlor. It was a jewelry store during the 80s and early 90s, specializing in the huge and cheap. (I bought some of my first dangling earings there...before I realized that my ears couldn't handle huge or cheap. Those earrings were so darn big, I now use a few of them on my Christmas tree as ornaments.) The store still sold some jewelry, but the rest of their offerings were more eceletic, from a variety of stuffed animals made from socks and old sweaters (I liked the polar bear made from a cable-knit sweater) to eccentric clocks. I bought a book-themed journal. (My current one is half-done.)

We made two more quick stops on the way back to the car. Love the Cook specializes in gourmet cookware and cooking items and is owned by the family that runs the Washington Inn, one of the fanciest restaraunts on the island. I bought the same two chai mixes I picked up there the last time I visited in 2011. Mom said she needed a new wooden spoon and a really nice vegetable brush. Though Bath Time is a lovely little shop that specializes in fancy soaps, lotions, and other toiletry items, once again, most of them were beyond our budget.

Cape May eateries tend to be overpriced, even the ones that really shouldn't be, like Dellas' lunch counter. We had our lunch off the island in North Cape May. El Portal was a nice little Mexican place comfortably situated in what used to be the Burger King across from WaWa on Bayshore Road. It made ample use of both the building's unusual architecture (including their exposed ceiling beams) and the grill Burger King left behind. I had a Chicken Quesadilla. Mom had a Chicken Fajita, which she'd had before and said was delicious. My quesadilla was yummy, warm and soft with wonderful grilled chicken. Mom loved her fajitas, too. It's a shame she says they don't get more business. They weren't very busy when we were there. They don't even have a sign on the road - the old Burger King sign was broken and rusted and looked like it had never been replaced.

After lunch, we took the back way through West Cape May onto the island, this time to check out one of the antique/thrift stores just off the mall area. Whiskers has been there for as long as I can remember, but I don't recall it being that big before. Although it was only one story, like the Barrington Antique Center, it was room after room of wonderful old things - books, sports memorabilla, linens, clothing, records, china, glassware, toys. I saw two Donna Parker books I wanted, but they cost three times as much as the ones I got from that yard sale! I opted for a much smaller tea caddy instead. I talked Mom into buying a beautiful tapestry tote bag for ten dollars. It was heavy and well-made, and I'm sure my practical Mom will think of something to use it for.

After spending over an hour in Whiskers, we decided we were both tired and just headed home. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting together, in the kitchen and on Mom's sun-filled porch. We mainly discussed family problems, and I told her what Mrs. Stahl had told me about going on more trips now that I have the money to do so.

Mom made us a simple but tasty meal of sauteed chicken breast, steamed broccoli, Carolina mushroom and wild rice mix, and tomatoes fresh from her neighbor's garden. After dinner, we switched on the NFL Network and watched pre-game coverage of the Chiefs-Eagles game.

That may have been more interesting than the game. Despite a lot of pre-game hype, thanks to former quarterback Donovan McNabb's jersey being retired and former coach Andy Reid returning to play his old team, the game was a washout. The Eagles played poorly, especially in the first half. Reid knew how to get around their fast offense with a lot of fake injuries that kept the offense off the field. The Eagles finally lost 26-16.

Tomorrow, I'll be spending the morning with Mom, then heading home later in the afternoon to start the second half of my vacation.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Holiday Road

I'm glad it was an absolutely gorgeous day today. It was a lovely day for traveling. First, I still had a few things I needed to get done, starting with a run to the laundromat (after a few episodes of Rick Steves Europe on Belgium, Provenance, and the French Riviera). I got there around 10:30; it wasn't too busy. Good thing, because I had a lot of laundry to do, starting with my summer bed sheets. I finished Through the Looking Glass and listened to Rachel Ray.

Since it was on my way, I made a quick stop at the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session on the way back. The computer consoles were surprisingly busy for such a lovely day. The adult DVDs really needed reorganizing. The kids' section wasn't nearly as bad, DVDs or books. I was in and out in less than a half-hour.

When I got home, I put the laundry away and made salmon with sauteed Chinese beans for lunch while watching National Lampoon's Vacation. Clark Grizwald (Chevy Chase) wants to take his wife Ellen (Beverly DiAngelo) and their two children on a cross-country trip from suburban Chicago to Walley World in California. Trouble is, thanks to Clark's hyper-planning, the cheap car he picked up before the trip, and sheer bad luck, every bad thing that can happen on the way does, from getting lost in the desert to picking up a cranky old aunt who wants a lift to Phoenix. Even when the Grizwalds finally make it to the park, trouble still follows.

While I'm fond of the Christmas movie and found Vegas Vacation to be surprisingly fun, this is still the best of the Vacation series. Chase and DiAngelo are enjoying themselves as the couple faced with one traveling dillemma after another, and there's some classic on the road gags here, including what eventually happens to Aunt Edna.

I went online for about an hour, checking my e-mail and playing WebKinz World, before Jodie finally picked me up at three. We were supposed to have left at 2:30, but Dad's friend's plane was delayed until 2:40, thanks to rain in St. Louis. We stopped briefly at Dad's house to wait for him and Gary. I got to watch Dexter's Laboratory on Boomerang with Jessa and chase Khai around the cars. (He and his daddy Craig had come by to borrow a sander. Craig's working on a new front door for their house.)

Dad and Gary arrived around quarter after 3. We got going around ten-fifteen minutes later. It was a pretty quiet trip. Dad and Gary talked old times. (Not only did they attend high school together, but they were in the same unit in Vietnam as well.) Jodie played solitare on her iPad. I listened to music. We were at Mom's by around 5:30.

Mom was the only one home when I got in. My sister Anny arrived with her son Skylar shortly after. Dad came in not long after that. Skylar and I watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Junior while Skylar showed me his electric Lego bullet train and his huge books on Legos. We cheered on Jake and his crew as they retrieved their football from Captain Hook (and taught the greedy pirate a lesson in teamwork) and Mickey and Daisy as they pursued the Golden Boo Boo and dodged Sneaky Pete.

Anny had to take a shower and change anyway (she works at a fish processing plant near Wildwood Crest), so she was assigned to bring our pizza home. We had a mushroom and onion pie and a white cheese and broccoli pie (Sky and Anny's favorite). We watched CNN as we ate. Dad likes to keep up with world news when he's not at sea.

Skylar was really kind of wound up tonight. He kept putting off doing the one page of math homework he had until the last minute. Anny got so fed up (and it was getting so late anyway), she finally took him home around 8:30. I watched Spongebob Squarepants episodes and paged through old Christmas craft books while Mom browsed online. (I especially enjoyed the episode where Patrick and Spongebob compete in the Fry Cook Games, and the one where Patrick gets his license and Spongebob gets jealous.) After Mom went to bed, I got on.

Tomorrow, I'm going to go through Mom's old fall and Halloween decorations to see if I want anything, then we'll probably go into Cape May.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Tooth, and Nothing But the Tooth

I'm glad today was sunny and bright and actually a bit chilly for this time of year, barely into the upper 60s. I had a lot of running around to do, starting with my dental appointment. I had my much-feared root canal this morning. Actually, between the injection and the thick layers of plastic placed around my tooth to keep it from getting messy, I didn't really feel much pain at that point. There was more pressure from the plastic than from the scraping and drilling. They did reschedule my Monday appointment to October 7th to give the tooth more time to recover before putting a crown on it. (Fine by me. I won't have to finish my vacation with another visit to the dentist's.)

I decided I didn't feel like rushing anything, so I just rode to counseling early. I stopped at the bike shop in Haddonfield on my way. I forgot to buy spare inner tubes the last time I was there. I like to have spares around, just in case one goes suddenly. I also picked up a new combination lock. I had mine for at least six or seven years, and it's much-used. The numbers actually rubbed off.

Even after leaving the bike shop, I was still early for counseling. I was so early, Mrs. Stahl hadn't even arrived yet. I sat on the brick steps for about five minutes or so before she appeared. I finally got in with her about 10 of 1.

I explained my busy couple of weeks and how crazy everything had been. I did enjoy my day trip to Atlantic City, and she pretty much said do more with that and make use of the buses. Of course, I'll be visiting Mom and Dad-Bill in Erma starting tomorrow, but I'd like to go other places and check out other local towns on the bus routes, like Marlton and Voorhees. I'd also still like to make that New York trip someday. Basically, Mrs. Stahl said keep saving your money and making trips, both on the bus and on the bike, and when you can't make trips, try to do other things you enjoy that'll make you happy and get your mind off the job.

Since the needles had worn off by the time I finished with my counseling sessions, I opted for a quick lunch. I hit Animo Juice and Burritos Bar. It wasn't quite as busy this time as it had been the last time I was there (not a surprise, since it was nearly 2:30 by then). I went with a more familiar "Quick Chicken" petito (small burrito) filled with chicken, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and Animo's house vinaigrette. My juice was a junior-sized "Cobbler" (blueberry, apple, peach, and granola). This time, both were delicious...but my just-drilled tooth was starting to get sore, which made it a little hard to enjoy them.

Stopped at Haddon Township Library on my way back. I had to drop off books anyway. I mostly just organized the kids' DVDs. The library was busy with kids looking for books and DVDs to watch with their parents. I helped one girl find Barbie movies and Dora the Explorer, two boys look for Scooby Doo, and an older girl find SpongeBob. I didn't take out anything myself, since I'll be gone for a couple of days this week.

My tooth was growing more sore by the minute. The doctor gave me a prescription for antibiotics to take every eight hours to make the swelling go down. I decided to dodge the traffic on Cuthbert and Nicholson and get the prescription now, instead of doing it tomorrow before I leave. Thankfully, the Acme wasn't busy. I had more than enough time to pick up the pills and buy a few things I needed, like oatmeal and butter, not to mention take out some more money for my trip and the weekend.

When I finally got home, I decided my tooth wasn't up to anything fancy and just made a peanut butter and apricot preserves sandwich and a sliced tomato with raspberry vinaigrette. I finished out the Tom and Jerry Tales episodes I started this morning, then ran two animated TV show episodes on traveling. Tyrone leads The Backyardigans on a merry chase to the mystical Tibet mountains to find the mysterious Polka-Dot Flying Pony in "Follow the Feather." Serena and her family are taking a less-exotic vacation to a local  hot springs in a first season show, "Last Resort." When the Negaverse unleashes a nasty and jealous lake monster, can Serena rescue her family...without revealing her identity?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Backyard Is Not Enough

When I opened my eyes this morning, my bedside clock said 10:06...and I worked at 11! Yikes! I never had the chance to write in my journal or read or even have tea. I jumped up, got dressed, had a very quick breakfast of cereal and a peach, packed leftovers and an apple for my lunch, and hurried off to work.

It was raining when I headed off to work, but not hard. By the time I arrived, the rain was slowing down. Accordingly, the Acme wasn't that busy when I got in, but it picked up around lunchtime and was steady throughout the day. The day went quite fast, and there were no major problems at all.

(And for those of you who have been to Dinosaur Dracula and read Matt's ecstatic reviews, you'll be delighted to hear that we finally got the Monster Cereals in. All five of them, the revived Fruity Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute too. I won't be buying them myself, since I don't eat really sugary cereals, but I'm glad to see them there. Given all the problems I had last fall, the 2013 Halloween season has nowhere to go but up.)

I went straight home after work, dodging the last of the rush hour customers. When I got in, I changed into regular clothes, then made an omelet for dinner and a loaf of zucchini bread from a recipe in Julie's Cooking Studio to bring to Cape May County. I ran the rest of the Backyardigans DVD I picked up the other day. "International Super Spy" is the first of two double-length Backyardigans episodes, and their second spy spoof. This one is a more obvious James Bond parody. Pablo is a secret agent who likes his apple juice shaken, not stirred. Tasha's his Chief, who sends him on a mission to find three containers. Austin is his fellow agent. Uniqua is the evil "Lady In Pink," and Tyrone is her not-too-concerned hench-moose. Pablo travels across the world, looking for the three containers that could create "A Recipe for Disaster" in the wrong hands.

(And I only just noticed this, but the three places the kids visit - London, Switzerland, and the Caribbean - parallel the places visited by the Beatles in Help!. Considering that the movie is also something of a Bond parody and came out around the height of the original spy craze, it's actually a pretty interesting shout out.)

The Backyardigans did two Christmas-themed episodes. The first one, "The Secret of Snow," debuted in the second season. Uniqua wants to discover the secret of making snow fall, but busy Tasha the Ice Lady has no time for her requests. She keeps sending the pink bug-girl away to increasingly warmer climates. Uniqua eventually gets help from Cowboy Pablo, Jungle Moose Tyrone, and Tasha's assistant Austin, who just wants to do something besides make ice.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jazz For a Late Summer's Day

I got up a little earlier than usual for a Sunday. I had to work at 11, so I skipped the Brunch With the Beatles show and listened to one of my Classic Disney CDs instead. I did have just enough time to make Chocolate Chip Spice Pancakes for breakfast before heading off to work.

Given that today was a very lovely Sunday and the Eagles played at 1PM, you probably won't be surprised to hear it was busy all afternoon. My stepsister Jessa came through my line at one point. She'd been drafted to do shopping for Dad and Jodie. They were having a small get-together for the Eagles game - Rose and her family, Mark and Vanessa, a couple of neighbors, nothing like the huge blow-outs Uncle Ken used to have - and invited me to join them after work.

I debated for the next few hours whether or not I'd be up for it. I finally decided that I'd spent way too much time alone at home this week. When I did get off, I hurried home, changed into regular clothes, and rode over to Dad's.

Although Jessa herself came in later (she'd been upstairs in her room), there were plenty of other people there, including Mark and Vanessa and neighbors who had little kids who were friends of Khai's. It wasn't as crowded as Uncle Ken's parties were, but there was food. Rose made a spicy seafood gumbo. (I don't care what she says. Her definition of "spicy" is different than mine. To her, mildly spicy is "anything that doesn't set the entire inside of your head on fire.") Jodie made her famous chili. Jessa made a dip from yogurt and confetti icing that was surprisingly good. Someone brought a fudgy chocolate cake and a tasty tomato-basil salad.

The game was a hot one. The Eagles were losing badly when I saw them in the Acme's back room during my break. By 3:30, they had caught up to the Chargers 23-20. By almost the end of the fourth quarter, they were tied 30-30. Alas, a last-minute field goal gave the Chargers the win. The Eagles still put up a good fight, and they've certainly played better than anyone would have thought they would with a new coach. (I just hope they do as well on Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only are they playing against their former coach Andy Reid, but I'll be watching that one with Mom - I'll be on vacation by then.)

I spent another hour or so after the game talking to Rose, Jodie, and the kids' mom while watching Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and episodes of the most recent version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Khai's favorite Turtle is Michelangelo, by the way.) I'm a little worried about Rose. She says she hasn't been feeling well and will be going to the doctor's tomorrow for some tests. I hope it isn't anything serious.

When I got home, I called Mom and had a quick chat with her. I then gave my porch and steps a much-needed sweeping (there's still acorn and pepper nut pieces all over the place), then spent a blissful hour listening to my Jazz For the Quiet Times CD and finishing Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. I had just enough time to change my sheets to the slightly heavier ones I use for spring and fall before going online.

Oh, and I'm now getting a ride to Erma on Wednesday. Dad and Jodie are going to Cape May on Wednesday for Dad's class reunion. They offered to drop me off at Mom's on their way. It does mean that I'll be leaving later than I planned, but it'll also save me some money and time getting down there. I'll still take the bus and train home on Friday.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bear-Ing the Fall Weather

I awoke to a day that felt far more like fall than late summer. My apartment was actually chilly! I slept in a bit more than usual and only heard the last 40 minutes or so of the American Top 40. We hopped into early fall 1985 as power ballads, pop, and R&B dominated the airwaves. Hits from that week included "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner (from the sequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome), the dynamic theme song from St. Elmo's Fire by John Parr, "Don't Lose My Number" by Phil Collins, and "I Don't Want Your Freedom" by Wham!. That week's number one was one of the most emblematic songs of the year, the very "greed is good" "Money For Nothing" by Tears For Fears.

I made a longer farm market/yard sale errand run than usual, since I was off today and had more time for it. I wasn't at the farm market for too long. I'm going away for a few days next week and didn't really want to buy too much in the way of perishables. I did see that the first pears of the year and spinach of the fall season were out, while blackberries and cucumbers are gone. I ended up with the little gala apples, white peaches, a small bag of baby spinach (the large head of lettuce I bought a while back went bad before I could eat all of it!), and two tomatoes.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon wandering around. There were lots of yard sales out this week, probably due to the gorgeous weather. My first finds were at an estate sale on Newton Avenue in Oaklyn. I bought three Golden Books and four Disney Wonderful World of Reading books for my nephews for Christmas. Mom still has a ton of our old Golden Books, and almost all of our Wonderful World of Reading books. We loved them to death, and I'm sure the boys would love to add some Pixar stories to their nana's collection.

I spent an hour riding around Collingswood after leaving the farm market, looking for a street but not being able to find it. Finally gave up around 11 and crossed Cuthbert to Westmont. I had far more luck there. I found two Strawberry Shortcake DVDs at one yard sale. Another yielded a Miss AG Bear, American Girl's furry mascot in the mid-90s, in her fancy "Soft n' Shiny Outfit" for a dollar. I treated myself to a Pumpkin Cheesecake Vanilla Misto Shake at Rita's, and found a just-opened catering shop and deli, the Silver Spoon, across the street that was giving away free eggplant-salami mini-hoagies and tomato mozzarella salad. Tried one more in Westmont and one on the street behind the Westmont Rite Aid with no luck. I was tired and sore by that point and finally headed home around 1:30.

Given my long week and the ride I had this morning, I didn't go anywhere for the rest of the day. Lauren's been on a Red Skelton kick, so I ran two of his vehicles. Did DuBarry Was a Lady first while making Baked Pumpkin Pudding in honor of the era. Here, Skelton is a hat check boy in a nightclub who has a crush on the singer (Lucile Ball). The club's dancer (Gene Kelly) has a crush on her, too, while the cigarette girl (Virginia O'Brian) is just trying to get Skelton to notice her. Ball, however, would rather marry for money. Skelton wins the lottery and thinks he can buy Ball's favors. When he accidentally drinks a Mickey Finn, he dreams he's King Louis in France in 1743, Ball's his mistress, O'Brian is her lady-in-waiting, and Kelly is a revolutionary....and learns a lesson about the importance of marrying for love.

This was originally a Broadway show in 1939 with Bert Laher as Louis, Ethel Merman as DuBarry, Betty Grable as the cigarette girl, and future director and choreographer Charles Walters as the dancer. I wish they'd retained more of the original Cole Porter score - as it is, the best number in the film is it's goofy finale, with the cast joining in for "Friendship." This is best for fans of the cast or 40s Technicolor extravaganzas.

I jumped into the bath while the pudding was baking. It felt sooooooo nice, especially after my long week. I leaned back, read stories from the Disney books I found a few years ago, and listened to the Rod Stewart Great American Songbooks CDs.

Returned to musicals while making turkey meatloaf, sweet potatoes and apples, and a spinach salad for dinner. I moved a decade to the more elaborate Lovely To Look At. Once again, operetta and musical conventions make for an odd pairing in this remake of the 1934 film version of Roberta. Three musical performers (Skelton, Gower Champion, Howard Keel) go to Paris to sell Skelton's share of his late aunt's dress shop to earn the money for their show. They change their minds when they meet the shop's pretty owners (Kathryn Grayson and Marge Champion) and opt to stay in Paris and get the shop back on its feet instead. That is, until Keel's girlfriend (Ann Miller) shows up, and then it looks like his show may get put on after all...

This isn't my favorite MGM musical, but it has some nice moments, including the amazing finale. Adrian outdid himself with his costumes here, and I love the Champions' smoky dance. Once again, mainly for fans of the cast and MGM musicals in general.

(And while my dinner actually came out quite well, alas, the spice cookies I made did not. I undercooked one batch and burnt the other. Darn it. I'll try again next week. At least the pudding came out well.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

No Fright On Friday the 13th

I'm not a horror fan. The scariest I got this Friday the 13th was running a couple of items devoted to spooky stuff. I started off the morning with Witchcraft....!, a record I picked up from a yard sale a few years ago that's a collection of instrumental renditions of witch or magic-themed songs, like "That Old Black Magic" and "Old Devil Moon." After breakfast, I dusted the living room and put on the Ghostbusters soundtrack.

As I continued dusting and putting up the fall decorations, I switched to episodes of The Shadow. The early tales of Lamont Cranston and Margot Lane as they used mind-related powers to catch criminals were atmospheric and spooky. Orson Welles lent the right world-weary note to pulp-ish tales like "The Bride of Death," "The Temple Bells," and the anti-war-themed "The Silent Avenger."

(A personal note on these cassettes - I've had them since college, when I picked them up at what was then the Hamilton Mall's Waldenbooks. My then-roommate Amanda and I used to shiver under our blankets in our cold, drafty old apartment and listen to the episodes before we went to bed to drown out the parties going on above us. Oh, how we wished we could send in for that trial ton of Blue Coal!)

I hurried off to work around 1PM. We weren't that busy early on; once again, it picked up during rush hour. It slowed down enough for me to let go without a relief. I was sore, stressed, bone-tired, and my heel spur hurt something horrible. I'd been flustered and frustrated with myself all day.

My schedule for next week didn't help. While I do go on vacation Tuesday, I work 7 hours on Monday and early on Sunday! I'll never get anything done before I leave!

(I did find out why the schedules were so off. The front end manager who usually does the schedule was on vacation this week. She didn't do this week's schedule or next week's. That explains a lot.)

I did a really quick grocery run after I got off. I'm going to be gone for part of next week, but there were a few things I needed. The Acme's large eggs were on a really good sale. Needed to restock powdered sugar, tuna, vanilla (the small box of Acme's generic vanilla extract is really cheap for the good stuff), yogurt, daytime cold medicine, and contact lens solution. Kashi cereals were on a decent sale, and I had a coupon. I went with their Autumn Wheat and Cinnamon Harvest shredded wheat. Treated myself to two inexpensive cartoon DVDs, The Backyardigans' special International Super Spy and another set of Tom & Jerry Tales episodes.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Muppet Musicians and Rainy Wonderlands

I overslept. I looked at the clock, and it said 7PM. I closed my eyes...then opened them and the clock said 9:30. Eeek! I worked at 12! I had just enough time to write in my journal, read the first chapter of Alice In Wonderland, have a quick muffin and peach breakfast, and listen to a record. I love the Peter Pan kids' record  version of Alice with the 70s comic-book-style art inside and catchy songs like "A Curious Thing" and the title tune that bookends the album.

It was wet when I got outside, but by the time I headed to work, the rain was down to clouds, heavy humidity, and heat (though not quite as hot as yesterday). It also kept the crowds at bay. It was on and off busy all day long. It did get crazy during rush hour, but it slowed down enough by 6 that I was able to leave with no relief.

When I got out, the streets were dry. It looked like it hadn't rained in a while. The clouds were building up again, though. Thankfully, I was long at home and eating flounder in chicken broth with cucumber salad for dinner when the rain did start again. (To date, we haven't gotten the thunderstorms they predicted, though.)

I ran the LP of The Muppet Musicians of Bremen I picked up a few years ago during dinner. Unlike the other Muppet fairy tale specials from the late 60s and early 70s, this version of the Grimm's tale is played pretty straight. Four worn-out old animals - a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster - flee their abusive robber owners and form a band. When they find a house, they think they've found a family...but they've really found their former owners gloating over their spoils.

We taped this off of either HBO or The Disney Channel in the 80s, and I have some very fond memories of it. While the animals singing about their ages can be a bit depressing, how they get rid of the robbers - and what they think the robbers really are - is still funny as heck.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Organizing the Fall

I slept in again this morning, then read Peril at End House and wrote in my journal until nearly noon. Maybe it was just as well. When I did poke my head out, it was hot and humid as heck! It's not supposed to last this time, thank goodness. The weather reports pretty much say it'll be nasty hot today and tomorrow, then it'll rain and cool off considerably.

Spent what time I had washing the windows, then doing a few things on my laptop. I completely redid my reading list. There's only two more books left in the apartment I've never read at all. The list now consists mostly of books I have read, but not in two or more years. I'm going to start with lighter children's books, like Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Charlotte's Web, and the Winnie the Pooh stories, this month. I'll then move onto swashbucklers - The Pyrates, The Prisoner of Zenda, the 50s pirate novel The Sword and the Shadow, The Scarlet Pimpernel books, Wings of the Falcon, and the first three books in the Amelia Peabody series.

After I finished that list, I reorganized the list of things I either wanted to get done this fall (like dental appointments and repainting those black shelves), or just want to keep in mind (don't buy as many DVDs new, try to eat better, try not to get so crazy about job hunting). The printer had been acting weird ever since I got the new laptop. I thought I synced it, but it appeared I hadn't. I got that fixed and printed out all my lists.

Work was relatively quiet when I came in. It got much busier later, to the point where it was just starting to slow down when I left at 8. This time, most people were in a decent mood. There were no major problems, and I was in and out.

And I do remember what today is. I was in college when 9/11 happened. I went to an early class, then upstairs to the library to take some books out. When I came out, one of the media center secretaries announced with a pale face that the World Trade Centers were being bombed. I got there in time to see the second tower fall. It was a crazy day. I don't even remember much about that week. It was scary.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chocolate Chip Morning

I slept in again today. Thankfully, unlike yesterday, I had nowhere I needed to go until work. I made Chocolate Chip Muffins while the weather was still decent and listened to CDs. I dubbed Mandy Patinkin Sings Sondheim from a double-CD set at the Haddon Township Library years ago. He uses songs from various Sondheim shows (mostly Merrily We Roll Along, Follies, Sunday In the Park With George, Sweeney Todd, and Company) to illustrate what sounds like the up-and-downs of a composer or writer who ultimately decides he'd rather have love and art than meaningless success. After that epic show, I switched the less dramatic Kristen Chenowith solo CD Let Yourself Go, a favorite of mine ever since I picked it up from the Audubon FYE a few years back.

It took me longer than I thought it would to clean up the muffin mess. I got into work just under the wire. Work was mostly the same as yesterday - quiet when I came, very busy during rush hour. This time, with no Eagles game, it stayed steady. Some of the customers were a little annoying, including one woman who snuck in as I was trying to shut my line down, then rearranged all the bagging I did. I wasn't very happy when I finally got out of there.

Monday, September 09, 2013

If You Need Me, I'll Be Here

I slept in this morning, hoping to dodge the beginnings of some nasty weather this week. Thankfully, it was still sunny when I did get up, though once again a bit warmer and more humid than last week. It took me so long to get going, I didn't get to the laundromat until quarter of 1...and I had work at 3! I was lucky that the laundromat was quiet. When I came in, it was just me and The Young and the Restless. There were a few more people in and out, including a young couple, but I had no problem getting a washer and drier. Good thing too, because I had a big load, including towels. I rushed home after it was all done and had just barely enough time to change into my now-clean uniform, eat some leftovers for lunch, pack dinner, and rush off to the Acme!

After all that, work wasn't that bad. It was quiet when I came in and dead as a doornail when I left. It did get really busy during rush hour. For one thing, today's the first day of school for many districts, and the first full day of school for the others. Tonight was also the Eagles' opening game against the Redskins on Monday Night Football, a big game as the Eagles have a new head coach this year who would be getting a big test against a rival team.

I found out why the Acme cleared out so fast when I finally made it home. Chip Kelly was passing his first week's test with flying colors as the Eagles were killing the 'Skins 33-7 when I switched on the radio. They faltered in the second half, but still held off the Redskins long enough to win their opener 33-27.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

I Left My Football In San Francisco

Started a still-nice but warmer and slightly more humid day with Brunch With the Beatles. Solo Beatles songs were in the spotlight on this morning's show. John's hits on his own included "Instant Kharma," "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," "Imagine," and "Just Like Starting Over." Paul had a number of hits with his group Wings in the early and mid-70s, among them "Live and Let Die," "Jet," "Band On the Run," and "Silly Love Songs." Ringo had his greatest success in the mid-70s with "It Don't Come Easy" and the remakes of "You're Sixteen" and "Only You." George's "My Sweet Lord" went to the top of the charts in 1974.

Had a short but interesting chat with Mom after I finished my Lemon-Rosemary Pancakes. She was going through fabric swatches, trying to decide on a design to make an outfit for herself. Apparently, she's been making clothes for herself for the first time since she was a young adult. We talked crafts, and then I told her about my heavy upcoming schedule. She said basically to slow down this week and try to rest as much as possible before work. I need to tell my managers about my sore knees and heel spur, too.

I do intend to take her advice on resting, especially since it's supposed to get much hotter later in the week. The laundry can't be put off, and I could probably get away with the short walk to the Oaklyn Library. I'm not going to be able to pull off the Haddon Township Library visit, though. I need to dust and do the windows before vacation next week, but that won't require a lot of heaving lifting.

Headed off to work about a half-hour after I finished with Mom. Work was very busy all day, not surprising for a Sunday or the beginning of the first full week of school. Thankfully, the afternoon went quickly, my relief was actually a little early, and I was in and out.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, then plopped on my couch to work on a new crocheting project and listen to the first football Sunday of the 2013-2014 NFL season. Since the Eagles play tomorrow night, local sports radio station WIP had the San Francisco 49ers-Green Bay Packers game on. I listened to the game all afternoon, while crocheting, taking "beginning of the school year" photos of the dolls, and making salmon with fresh peppers for dinner.

And what a way to kickoff the season! The game was amazing. Neither team dominated the game - one would score a touchdown, and then the other would turn right back around and get another one. Both teams played fiercely. There were flags and penalties every other minute, some of them rather vicious, including a fight. In the end, the 49ers' two field goals and a final touchdown helped them to victory, 34-28. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Stressed Out

Started another beautiful day with this week's American Top 40. I would have been about six months old in early September 1979, when these songs were new. Among the hits were "The Main Event" by Barbra Streisand from the movie of that title, "I'll Never Love This Way Again" by Dionne Warwick, "After the Love Has Gone" by Earth, Wind, and Fire, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band, "Lonesome Loser" by the Little River Band, "Bad Girls" by Donna Summer, "Sail On" by the Commodores, "Suspicions" by Eddie Rabbit, "Let's Go" by The Cars, "Sad Eyes" by Robert John, and "Mama Can't Buy You Love" by Elton John.

The top song of that week wound up being the year's biggest hit. Despite the album covers with them posed like the Beatles and the smash success of their single "My Sharona," the Knack would prove to be far shorter-lived - this was their only major hit.

Though I had to work relatively early today, I did have enough time to get a farm market run in. I'm glad I did. The place was packed when I arrived with people buying food for parties and barbecues, probably making up for the messy and hot weather last week. The arrival of fall was indicated by the first winter squash, pumpkins, and decorative gourds of the week. I stuck to the summer produce - white peaches, tiny Gala apples, a mini-watermelon that looked like a heavy green-striped beach ball, Chinese beans, zucchini, a tomato.

I rushed off to work at 11. We were busy the entire afternoon. In addition to the barbecues and parties that people couldn't hold last week because of the weather, most kids go back to school full-time this week, people are still using their beginning-of-the-month money, and we're in the midst of the Jewish New Year. Not to mention we're giving out those stickers for the Rachel Ray Dinnerware promotion.

I was so stressed. Everything seemed to go wrong. People were mostly nice about it, but one lady got upset when all the coupons for those Sierra Mists with the 75 cent coupons brought her order to five dollars instead of one dollar. She must have bought thirty bottles of soda! She should have been happy to get it for that price. I tried to apologize because she was so angry, but she said I wasn't sorry, paid her money, and flounced off. I wish people would listen, instead of having a fit.

At least the party food was good. While it wasn't as big as the Christmas blow-out we usually have, there was still plenty to enjoy. I sampled a pulled chicken sandwich, a spicy macaroni and cheese casserole, a tomato and mozzarella salad, mini-pretzels topped with softened Rolos and a candy corn, and decadent peanut butter fudge brownies. I did notice almost no one seemed to want my Lime Mini-Cupcakes...

When I finally turned over my line to the college girl around 5PM, I went straight home. My stomach was in knots. My knees were sore. My heel spur hurt like hell. I went straight in the bath when I got in and stayed in the bath for over an hour. It felt so nice. The warm water was really soothing for my poor legs and feet.

I don't know how I'm going to survive a whole week of this. I work literally through the week - I don't have a day off until next Saturday! Everyone keeps telling me to try to balance my life. How can I balance my life if I have to work through it? I feel so trapped. My stomach is still in knots, even after the bath and the peanut butter and apricot sandwich and the white peach I had for dinner.