Monday, September 30, 2019

A Good Day for Baking

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast, then decided I'd try making those Raspberry Oatmeal Bars that came out so well back in May. This time, I used the Smuckers' Fruit and Honey jam as the topping. They came out very crumbly, too much to really handle, but also very sweet and decadent.

Watched episodes of Star Wars: Resistance while I baked. Kaz takes the Fireball to rendezvous with Poe and General Leia Organa. Tam hadn't finished fixing it, and he's lucky the Resistance is able to keep him from crashing. He, Poe, and their droids are sent to follow a First Order flight path. They end up on "Station Theta Black," a mining facility, but end up fighting Phasma and Major Vonreg when they give the orders to destroy the facility and the evidence.

"Bibo" is a slimy little sea critter that Neeku has become attached to. The rest of the crew isn't nearly as fond of him. He eats everything metal, including their tools and parts, smells terrible, and makes a mess. He runs away, but is found by Kel and Eila, the kids from "The Children from Tehar." Eila is upset, predicting that a big "something" is coming after Bibo. When a sea monster attacks the Colossus, the Ace Squadron fights them off...but Kaz and his crush Synara knows what it's really after.

It's "Dangerous Business" when Kaz keeps an eye on Orka and Flix's Acquisitions Shop for the day. Things get ugly when an alien named Teroj Kee comes looking for a certain part. Kaz says he can't have it, but he tricks Kaz into a locked storage container and steals it anyway. It'll take help from BB-8 and Orka and Flix's pet Gorg Bitey to stop the pirate and help Kaz figure out his involvement with the First Order.

"The Doza Dillemma" happens when the Captain's daughter Torra is kidnapped by pirates. Doza has to accept the First Order's protection if he wants to see her again. The First Order seemingly "rescues" the girl, but Kaz is suspicious of their intentions.

Trouble with the First Order boils over when "The First Order Occupation" comes to the Colossus. Kaz gets nervous when the stormtroopers ask him and Yeager a few too many questions. Despite his worries, he still helps pirate spy Synara escape the ship and return to her clan.

The kids are the ones who come across "The New Trooper" and knock him out. Kaz steals his armor and discovers to his horror that the First Order intends to take over the Colossus and use it for a resupply station. He has to get the information to Yeager, then get the armor back to its real owner without getting caught.

Poe and Kaz discover that "The Core Problem" is the First Order has somehow made a sun vanish, destroyed several planetoids, and drilled through another planet. The two and their droids land on an abandoned moon, whose population was destroyed...except one probe droid, who reveals the boys' location. They just barely manage to escape TIE fighters before Poe heads off to Jakku. Kaz returns to the Colossus with a different droid. He has a lame excuse as to where BB-8 is, but Tam is starting to get suspicious...

Headed out for a walk after the bars were out of the oven and I'd gone through my journals in the back room. It was gray, cloudy, and cool, but that was certainly an improvement over the heat we've had recently. The gardens are blossoming with mums, marigolds, and late roses, but the lawns are showing the relative lack of rain of late with dry, yellow grasses.

I was mainly out for a stroll to the Oaklyn Library. At 1 PM, they were quite empty. It was just the librarians and me, listening to reports on the hot weather elsewhere on the Weather Channel. I organized the DVDs, looked over the children's books, and moved on.

After a short stroll around the neighborhood, I returned to my apartment for a quick lunch. After I ate, I went into cleaning the bathroom. It really needed to be done, despite my having not been around for a week this month. The tub was especially grungy, probably from those couple of baths I took a few weeks ago.

Ran Johnny English Reborn for the rest of the afternoon. Johnny English (Rowan Atikson) has been training in Tibet after the newly-elected president of Mozambique died on his watch. He's joined by young, eager assistant Colin Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya) as they search for Vortex, a group of spies-turned-assassins who destroyed English's previous mission. English keeps finding the spies and their three keys that open a weapon, only to see them murdered by a little Asian cleaning woman (Pik-Sem Lim). The second spy lives long enough to reveal that there's a third turncoat spy...within MI7 itself. English doesn't believe who it is at first, allowing the mole to escape. With the help of psychologist Kate Sumner (Rosamund Pike) and footage of the Mozambique incident, he discovers how Vortex is controlling the killers. Now he has to evade the turncoat spy and that Killer Cleaner long enough to prove to everyone what Vortex is really after.

Wacky spy spoof benefits from Atikson's antics as the impossibly naive spy, even if the story isn't the most inspired. If you love Bond satire or Atikson, you'll want to give this one a look.

Did some writing after I finished the bathroom and the movie ended. To Brett's horror, the producer turns into a devil before her very eyes. Other devils run out and attack the others, grabbing the other two women and dragging Charles from Richard. Brett demands that Ira release them, but he has other plans...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. With the cool weather continuing, I figured I could get away with baked chicken legs. Tried a recipe for "deluxe" red cabbage and apples from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. Didn't add the gingersnap pieces called for, but it otherwise came out absolutely delicious, nice and sweet and very purple-red. Had it with roasted broccoli. Yum! It all came out very well, with juicy chicken and sweet cabbage and apples.

Finished the night with three episodes of Get Smart. 99 and Max end up on the "Island of the Darned" when they hit a jungle island in search of the hunter who killed and stuffed a CONTROL agent. The hunter decides to turn things around and hunt them. They try to evade him, but it takes a puff from a very lethal cigarette to really get rid of him. "Bronzefinger" is an art thief who could be one of three art restorers at a local museum...if someone wasn't knocking them off one by one. A beautiful debutante wants to give Max the "Kiss of Death" for killing her father, but she's prepared for her intoxicating charms.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Lovely Day for a Picnic

Began a sunny, warm day with work. I ended up getting extra hours. One of the baggers called out. I just wish I'd had more to do to earn it. I did end up in the register early-on, but I was mainly outside, gathering carts or trash and recycling with three other baggers. We weren't even really that busy. It's right before the beginning of the month, and there was no Eagles game today - they played (and won) on Thursday.

I forgot a few things when I shopped on Friday. They're having a big 4-day sale on cheese; I grabbed Monterrey Jack. They're also having a 49 cent sale on apple juice. I chose the Acme's generic apple cider. Plucked a bag of sugar cookies off the reduced baked goods rack.

Rushed out as soon as I finished, but I had trouble on the road. The seat on my bike has been loose for a while now. It finally came off as soon as I got across Nicholson Road. It took me nearly ten minutes, but I finally got it on long enough to finally head back to Oaklyn.

I had to hurry. Today was Oaklyn's Town Picnic, and I wanted to at least catch some of it. As I pulled up to the Oaklyn School, I encountered several bounce houses and games of chance for the kids. Going beyond them, I found the tables with the free food in the school's driveway. There wasn't much left by 2:30. I figured the meatball sandwich and can of Sierra Mist would be sufficient. I ate it by a big tree on the school's front lawn.

There were plenty of other free goodies on West Clinton. One table offered me a free bag of popcorn. A kid group playing games had free cupcakes; I snitched a chocolate one. I passed tables representing Oaklyn's PTA and police, all of whom were giving out free items.

As soon as I got home, I changed, then went downstairs to try to fix the bike seat. Turns out the poles holding the seat between the bits were broken, and the bits had come loose. It took me nearly an hour (and dozens of mosquito bites) to figure out, but I did manage to get the bits on the right way. I wish I hadn't tried duct-taping the poles together. Now they don't fit right between the bits! Oh well, it's on, anyway.

Spent the rest of the afternoon trying to focus on writing. Ira insults Fannie and Charles when they go to help the drugged Richard. Having heard one insult too many, Charles finally lashes out, getting Ira down long enough for Brett to grab him. Charles knows what he really is...but Brett doesn't, and it comes as a real surprise when he reveals his true form...

Finished the night with Gingerbread Pancakes (which I burned), and Volume 1 of my Disney CD set. I ordered this set for my birthday with a gift card from Lauren almost a decade ago, and I've been listening to it ever since. While most of the songs on Disc 1 are old favorites like "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" and "Be Our Guest," there's a few rarities. Annette Funicello joins the Beach Boys for the very early 60's surf-rock theme song from The Monkey's Uncle, Professor Ludwig Von Drake introduces his audiences to the colors of the rainbow in "The Spectrum Song," Kirk Douglas describes "A Whale of a Tale" from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and we get Mickey's original theme song, the cute "Minnie's Yoo Hoo."

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Hot Harvest

I overslept this morning. I wanted to get to the farm market, so I very quickly had breakfast while listening to Unsung Musicals. These are old favorites of mine, collections of songs from musicals that turned up in shows that either closed quickly on Broadway or never made it there, and either way were never recorded. I love "Disneyland," "In Our Hands," and the perky title song from the beauty pageant spoof Smile, "There are Days and There are Days" from a short-lived show about Jackie Robinson, and the title song of Sherry!, a musical version of The Man Who Came to Dinner, performed deliciously by Johnathan Freeman and Christine Baranski.

It was already hot and getting hotter when I pulled into the bike rack near the Collingswood Farm Market. Heat or no heat, they were packed when I went looking for produce. I didn't really need that much, mainly fruit. Considered a pumpkin, but decided to save hauling that home until I had more time next week. Just went with purple grapes, a big green pepper, three little organic orange peppers, and small Empire apples.

I didn't have much time until work, so I went straight home. Finished out Unsung Musicals while having a very quick meal of yogurt, honey, and those grapes. Oh, yum! The grapes were so juicy and sweet. I wish they hadn't had seeds, but oh well. I can spit them out. 

Work, after all that, was steady but not overwhelming. I did end up in a register once, when ironically the head bagger went on break. Other than that, I spent the day outside, either gathering carts or rounding up outside trash and recycling. It may have been hot and humid, but it was also breezy, and at least tolerable. At least three other baggers arrived during the afternoon, and another was on his way in when I left.

Tried to do some writing when I got home. Joyce's kicking Ira rouses Richard. He tries to go after him, but he's drugged and isn't moving well. He ends up crashing into the contestants' desks. Bill and Brett hurry to defend him, but help comes from the most unexpected place...

Finished the night with shrimp and leftovers for dinner and Gulliver's Travels. I go further into the Fleischer Brothers' first venture into feature films at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Early Autumn Sunshine

I awoke to a phone call. Jessa wanted to know if I needed someone to pick up my bike. Not only did I appreciate the gesture, but I offered to make her pancakes for breakfast before we did it. I just needed an hour to read, write in my journal, make my bed, and get things organized.

I'd just put on Resistance as Jessa arrived. We continued with the episodes while I made us Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast. "The Children From Tehar" are a duo with a 20,000 credit bounty on them. Kaz wants to find them in order to make the money to replace Tam's acceleration compensator, but it turns out that the children aren't runaways. They're refugees, the only survivors of a village in the Unknown Regions. Kaz has to figure out how to keep Captain Doza from figuring out where they are.

I didn't really pay much attentions to the episodes when I pulled out family photos to show her. She enjoyed seeing the photos of me when I was younger so much a while back, I showed her the photos in the other box. While there are a few photos of the Oaklyn side of the family, it's mostly my sisters and Keefe and my parents. Jessa didn't really get to see them in the 90's and early 2000's and seemed to enjoy them, especially my pictures of the many parties Rose and her buddies had in the late 90's-early 2000's.

She dropped me off at Dad and Jodie's around 12:30. I brought my laundry along with me, so I could pick up my bike and go straight to the laundromat from there. They were busy when I arrived; I barely got a washer. Worked on notes and ignored soap operas and talk shows as the crowds cleared out. Had no trouble getting a dryer.

Packed everything away, then made a grocery list and headed out. I didn't really need much, but I did want to pick up a few things. Found canola oil and broccoli on sale and a can of diced tomatoes and a container of pineapple chunks on the clearance shelves. Dug chicken legs and shrimp out of the meat coolers. Restocked milk, yogurt, brown sugar, and plastic sandwich bags.

Not happy with my schedule at all. While I have Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday off, I don't have anything near enough hours this week. I tried to tell the head manager that I needed more, but she said they'd been cut down this week, and I'd have to hope someone would call me in.

Cheered myself up at home with writing after I got everything put away and had yogurt and pineapple for lunch. Brett confronts Ira with her gun from the lighthouse, but Charles spills the beans that she used the last bullets to get Richard down. The oily producer proceeds to admit that he went after Brett because of her separation from Jack Klugman - he thought she was vulnerable. He calls jumpy Bill a coward (who is quick to remind him that he was in Korea), then leers at Fannie and Joyce. Joyce, who just got married, does not appreciate Ira leering at her and gives him a hard kick in the shin!

Broke for a quick leftovers dinner at quarter of 7. I wanted it to be quick because today was the last Final Friday Block Party on West Clinton. It was a beautiful day for it, sunny, breezy, warm, and dry. The sun was slowly sinking over the horizon as I strolled past families and teens on their way home down the street.

The Final Friday Block Party is Oaklyn's big food truck showcase on the block of West Clinton where the shops are. It's mainly a summer thing; today is the last one of the year. It was packed when I arrived. I could barely elbow my way through the families enjoying huge sandwiches from the food trucks and "edible cookie dough" from a booth. Kids ran around, sporting intricately painted faces, while their parents listened to loud music at the end of the block. Those food trucks are still too expensive for me. I ended up with tasty strawberry cheesecake ice cream from Phillies Yummies.

Ended the night with a pleasant stroll around the neighborhood. I don't often go for a walk at twilight. Pretty soon, it'll be too dark to go for walks at 7 unless it's Christmas and the house lights are on. I went all the way down Goff Avenue to watch the lights on the Ben Franklin Bridge come on and make a wish on the first star of the evening.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Good Food, Good Company

Began a sunny morning with my second early day of work in a row. It wasn't that much different than yesterday. Other than doing a few returns, rounding up trash, and sweeping the store, I was mainly outside with the carts. While it was more humid and a bit warmer than yesterday, it remained breezy, even after clouds started to roll in around noon.

After work, I took advantage of a major sale and picked up one last box of cake mix, this time yellow. Also grabbed a bottle of water and a Kind nut bar for a snack. It was partly cloudy by the time I got out, a bit cooler and windier, but still very nice.

When I rolled in, I went right into lunch. Had a simple meal of apple cider donuts and a delicious Fall Spice Smoothie (pumpkin yogurt, a peach that was getting soft, apple cider, honey, spices), then worked on crocheting a dishrag while watching A Chorus Line. I go further into the 1985 film version of the long-running Broadway blockbuster at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

A Chorus Line

Did some writing after the movie ended. Ira appears, to the annoyance of pretty much the entire crowd. Richard tries to threaten him, but the obnoxious producer had him sedated to keep him from fighting. Gene's about ready to do some hitting of his own, but Brett's already figured out what Ira is after. It's not about money. It's about controlling them and their contestants and audiences. Richard has always been a troublemaker, even on Feud, and what he and Brett and Charles do, the others do.

Jodie called me while I was writing. Their old friends Diane and Brian were visiting from Cape May, and Jessa was there, too. Did I want to come over for dinner? Sure, why not? I hadn't seen them in a while, and I hadn't had any plans for dinner besides leftovers. It started raining while I was writing, but the rain was long gone by the time I grabbed my raincoat and headed out.

Everyone was already there by the time I arrived. Diane and Brian have been friends of Dad's for literally as long as I can remember. They've known him for so long, they remember when I was born. Apparently, Mom had me (briefly) at their wedding in 1980, as Dad was Brian's best man. They live in West Cape May, a block from the house we lived in between 1991 and 1994. They're staying with Dad and Jodie overnight, then will take a plane from the Philadelphia International Airport to Montreal. They're leaving from there for a cruise to Maine and Boston.

Jodie's huge dinner was a feast! She made a big fat chicken, with baby carrots and fingerling potatoes. There was corn, stuffing, and garlic bread on the side. I tried sliced tomatoes topped with long hot peppers...but even pulling off the peppers didn't make them any less spicy-hot. I took one bite and drank almost a whole glass of water.

After dinner, we made conference calls via to old friends, one of whom lived in Florida, another in a farm house in St. Louis. While Jodie and Brian and Diane chatted, I was nodding off. I was getting tired. Not to mention, the Eagles game was starting - they played the Packers tonight. Jessa and I finally took our leave around 8:30.

It was so late, Jessa drove me home. We had a nice chat in her car outside the house. I love Rose and Anny, but honestly, Jess may be my closest sibling. We're both artistic introverts who often feel out of place in the family and wish the others would listen to us. I'm glad I've gotten to know her better lately.

Oh, and this time, the Eagles did much better, running over the Green Bay Packers 34-27.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Good Day Sunshine

Began the morning with early work. It was quiet for most of the day. I did clean the bathrooms, took the recycling from the front offices to the back baler, rounded up outside trash and recycling, and sweep the store, but I was mostly outside gathering carts. The carts kept disappearing, but that's because people were using them to do inventory. It was too nice to be inside anyway. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the breeze was cool, and there wasn't a bit of humidity to be seen.

Took the long way home down Nicholson Road. It couldn't have been nicer. I got off at 2, so the traffic wasn't too horrible yet. The gardens on Nicholson and the bright yellow wildflowers and goldenrod along the hill into Oaklyn glow with a dusty yellow richness that can't be found at any other time of year.

Spent the rest of the afternoon working on my almost-finished fanfic. The entire group winds up walking through the door and back into Studio 33 at Television City. Brett lets her mother's instincts take over and takes charge of the group, ordering the others to get Richard elevated on the lower desks, untie him, and clean the grotesque clown makeup off his face. Fannie cleans him off, then slaps his cheeks until he's moving. Of course, the first thing he sees on awakening is her considerable cleavage. She knows he's fine when he starts making boob jokes in a British accent.

Broke for dinner at 6. Had leftovers while watching more Resistance. Kaz and the crew are frustrated by the ship's Captain Doza rationing their electricity. He learns that Doza may be purchasing more fuel from the First Order, including red-clad Major Vonreg. He encourages a cocky racer, the aptly-named Hype Fazon, to let him up into "The High Tower," where officials and other wealthy Colossus residents live. Kaz does manage to find out what Doza and Vonreg are doing with the fuel, but now Doza suspects him to be a spy.

It was such a nice night, I went for a walk around 6:30. It was too nice to be inside all day! I was originally going to have ice cream at Phillies Yummies, but it looks like they're done on weekdays. I treated myself to a massive cinnamon bun at Common Grounds' Coffee Shop. I sat among college students and teenagers who were doing work on their laptops and ate my flaky pastry and really too-sweet cinnamon insides.

After my dessert, I went for a stroll around the neighborhood. It was gorgeous on Kendall, with the leaves waving in the breeze and the gardens bursting with marigolds and mums. I was far from the only person out and about. Parents pushed their children in strollers or accompanied younger girls on their way out of dance class. Older girls chatted around The Square Meal and Phillies Phatties. Kids rode by me on their bikes; adults chatted on porches and in gardens.

Finished the night at home, playing Super Mario All Stars. Thought I'd try something a little different tonight. Attempted the original Super Mario Bros first. I was able to take the infamous Warp Zone to Level 3, but got no further than Level 3-4. Didn't do much better with Super Mario 2. I made it to the last round of Level 1, but couldn't get past the villain.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Winds of Fall

Began the morning with breakfast, then with baking. Dove into the Hershey's 1934 Chocolate Cookbook to try Cocoa Molasses Drop Cakes. They seemed appropriately homey for a much cooler morning. They didn't make much...but what they did make were chewy, rich, and wonderfully spicy! The kitchen smelled wonderful while they were baking.

Watched Gold Diggers of 1933 while I baked. I go further into one of the three classic Busby Berkley musicals of the early 30's on my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Gold Diggers of 1933

I ran one of the three cartoons the DVD came with while getting organized and looking over a few things. "Pettin' In the Park" has a nanny and a driver kissing in his car, but a cop who was also interested in her wants to break them up quick!

Headed out to run errands as soon as the cartoon ended. First stop was the Oaklyn Library. They're already decorated for Halloween, with a black lace curtain hanging in front of the main door and cloth witches, ghosts, and ghouls everywhere. The DVDs needed a lot of work, especially the adult titles. Everything was out of place! This what happens when you're gone a week. It was otherwise quiet in there. I think I saw one other person besides the librarians and me the entire time.

Next stop was Genova's Pizza on Cuthbert Road for a quick lunch. Despite the cool, cloudy, windy day, I sat outside and enjoyed my slice of cheese and slice of mushroom pizza and can of Coke in silence. They had football on ESPN on inside, and it was kind of noisy. I enjoyed the quiet and the traffic going past on Cuthbert.

Rode down Cuthbert to the Haddon Township Library for this week's session there. They also had a lot to do. The DVD return racks were so full, I wasn't even finished with the adult titles by the time I was ready to go. Took out A Chorus Line and the 1939 animated Gulliver's Travels for review, along with the spy spoof Johnny English Reborn and the first season of the newest Star Wars animated series, Resistance.

Took the long way through Newton Lake Park on my way back to Oaklyn. It was surprisingly full for such a cool day, with a lot of mothers and their children running around in the playground, and a lot of Canadian geese grazing around for a snack. I dodged them and admired the slowly yellowing foliage and variety of wildflowers waving on the river.

Made a quick stop at Dollar General on my way home. They didn't have what I was looking for, so I just bought eggs (which are cheaper there than at the Acme) and my favorite pecan roll and moved on.

Went straight into writing when I got home. Gene distracts the demon puppets by taking over as host of the demented version of Family Feud they're stuck in and actually interviews them, allowing the others enough time to slip away from their grasping arms and tangling ropes. Once they puppets are all behind the desks, he calls a commercial and leads the others out before the puppets realize what's going on.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. I made skillet chicken cheeseburger casserole - ground chicken with orange peppers, mushrooms, onions, Worcestershire sauce, and cheddar cheese - and then decided I'd try something a little different. I picked up real apple cider from the farm market on Saturday and used a cup to make my own apple cider donuts. They fell apart a little when I pulled them out, and really weren't that apple-tasting. I may add more cider or actual apples the next time I make them.

Finished the night while I worked with the first couple of episodes of Resistance. "The Recruit" is the two-part pilot episode about how Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) recruits hotshot young New Republic pilot  Kazuna Xiondo (Josh Brener) to get to know the residents of an aircraft refueling station and find out who's working for the First Order. He's supposed to be a mechanic working for Jarek Yeager (Scott Lawrence), but he runs off his mouth about how good of a pilot he is. He ends up in a local race, flying an ancient ship against an undefeated pilot.

"The Triple Dark" is a major storm that Neimodian Hallion Nark wants to flee before it hits. He brings his car to Yeager and pushes hard to get it done as fast as possible. This proves to be a moot point when they're attacked by pirates, and Kaz has to figure out how to save them.

Kaz isn't exactly getting along with his fellow mechanics, but it's "Fuel for the Fire" when he befriends a cocky young swoop bike racer. He thinks the kid wants to be friends, but he really has ultierior motives. Kaz eventually saves him from himself when he steals a highly experimental fuel that may become deadly in the wrong hands.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Not Quite Like Fall

I had afternoon work today, which allowed me to begin the first day of fall with breakfast and several seasonal black and white Silly Symphony shorts. "Autumn" is what it sounds like, animals gathering food for the winter to the tune of classical music. A fly and his friends take on a cunning arachnid in "The Spider and the Fly." "The Cat's Out" turns a cat's evening into a nightmare when he dreams that the very creatures he once chased are now attacking him.

After breakfast, I started taking down the summer decorations. Despite the heat and humidity today, it was still the first day of fall. Put up some of the fall stuff after I put what little I have for summer away. I'm not going to hang any garlands over the living room and bedroom windows this year. I don't want to ruin the new walls, and it's too hard to tack them to the wooden paneled walls. I was able to put out the tiny baskets filled with fake fall foliage, the pillow from Jo Ann's with the felt leaves, the two scarecrows, the stuffed squirrel and candy corn (the latter made by my mother), and all the stuffed pumpkins and apples.

Watched the Bowery Boys while I worked, and later as I had a quick lunch. They're Spy Chasers when the Princess and King of Louie's former home Truvania ask for his and the Boys' help. Truvania is in the midst of a revolution, and the king needs a coin from a certain courier to know if it's safe to return to the country. His head general and the princess' lady-in-waiting are in cahoots with the people who want the king deposed and make several attempts to get the coin, including kidnapping the princess and hypnotizing Sach.

Did two unusual Pink Panther shorts while getting ready for work. "Pinkfinger" has a narrator relating how Pink can become a spy and track down bad guys. He's trying to mine "Pink Ice" in Africa, but the two South African miners across the way keep stealing from him in the only short where he has a voice. (Interestingly, the same as the narrator from "Pinkfinger.")

Work was fairly quiet when I arrived, and it didn't get much busier for most of the day. I spent most of the first three hours outside with the carts...except for when they wanted me to clean the men's bathroom. I accidentally spilled the water I was intending to use for the bathroom near the lockers in the back storage area and had to clean up that. Organized gift cards for the last hour and helped a manager dispose of a broken jar of hot peppers.

Came home and worked on writing for a while. While the demonic marionettes in the contestant desks attack the others, Brett finally pulls Charles back from the wall. She ends up shooting Richard down, breaking the wires that hold him to the ceiling. Charles catches him before he hits the ground. Brett is amused by his loving expression, but not by the demon doll that swoops down from the ceiling, trying to grab them. Gene, who has climbed onto one of the desks, might have a way to get rid of them...

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Made a modernization of "Saucy Franks" from the Better Homes and Gardens Jiffy Cooking cookbook. Replaced the tomato soup with tomato sauce and lemons (didn't have them) with lemon juice. They came out quite nicely, just sweet-sour enough. Had them accompanied by mashed potatoes.

Finished the night with The Hollywood Revue of 1929. I go further into MGM's first attempt at a variety show at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Hollywood Revue of 1929

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Pup and the Eagles

Began the morning with early work. It wasn't bad when I arrived, but it did pick up later as we got closer to the Eagles game. I was mostly outside, rounding up carts that kept vanishing. At least it was a decent day for it. While it was hotter and a bit more humid, that nice breeze kept it from feeling too warm. I also gathered the outside trash and recycling, swept the store, and ended up in the register twice when it got too busy.

Changed into shorts, then headed to Dad and Jodie's for the game. It was pretty quiet for them when I came in. My cousin Mark and his girlfriend Joya were the only ones there. Rose's kids were sick and they couldn't come. Jessa arrived shortly before our pepperoni and half-mushroom, half-cheese pizzas did with her new puppy Midnight. He's a cute little black mop, a fluffy black shih tzu-terrier mix with big button eyes. Jessa let him roam around the living room and kitchen and dangled a poofy cat toy for him to play with. He apparently likes toes; kept sniffing at Jodie's open sandals and Dad's flip-flops. He started nosing Finley's dancing toys. Jodie switched them on and let them go, scaring off the little fellow in a hurry!

Wish the game had gone as well. The Eagles were up 10 to 7 over the Lions when I arrived. Everything went downhill from there. The Lions scored a touchdown, and although it was ultimately close, the Eagles lost two wide receivers and dropped the ball at every opportunity. They lost 27-24.

Other teams did better. Mark's other favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, out-ran the Broncos in their vintage yellow and green uniforms 27-16. Dad's other favorite, the Miami Dolphins, didn't have nearly as much luck with the Cowgirls, who flattened them 31 to 6.

Worked on writing when I got home. The group finds themselves on the set for the original Family Feud that was hosted by Richard Dawson...but it's populated by grotesque puppets in clown-like makeup who are strung up to the ceiling by wires. Richard too is wearing grotesque makeup over his badly bruised face; he's hanging by the ceiling like a marionette, being shoved towards a seemingly pretty girl doll. Charles can see that the "doll" is a demon and tries to climb the blue and orange wall with the monitor to get to Richard. He keeps sliding down, but Brett knows another way to save the beleaguered host...

Listened to A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder while having Peach-Brown Sugar Pancakes for a late dinner. The Tony-winning Best Musical of 2014 is a musical spoof of Victorian thrillers. Monty Novarro (Bryce Pinkham) has just discovered he's 9th in line for the Earl of D'Ysquith, but the family had disowned his mother and will have nothing to do with him. On top of that, his beloved Sibilla (Lisa O'Hare) has rejected him due to his poverty. After he accidentally kills off the Reverend D'Ysquith (Jefferson Mays), he gets the idea to one by one kill off the rest of the D'Ysquiths and ascend the earldom. He starts to reconsider when he falls for the lovely Phoebe D'Ysquith (Lauren Worsham) and admires the old Earl Adalbert (Mays). It doesn't help that he's still seeing Sibella, even as his relationship with Phoebe deepens...and then when the lord does do that, he's thrown in jail for the one crime he didn't commit.

If you love mysteries or the similar movie Kind Hearts and Coronets, you'll get a kick out of this one. Mays manages to make every D'Ysquith distinctive, from Lady D'Ysquith the world traveler to the good-natured Lord Adalbert himself. Pinkham has a great time with the two ladies as they (successfully) manages to hide his relationship with both of them. If you love mysteries, satire, or Coronets, you'll want to give this farcical thriller a listen.

Finished the night with a much-needed bath. It felt great after spending most of the morning pushing carts around. I almost fell asleep right there! My feet were so sore. The soaking was wonderful.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Busy Harvest

Kicked off a busy morning with Garfield and Friends as I ate breakfast. Garfield reveals "The Legend of the Lake," the story of a cave-cat who desperately wants to reach an island filled with lasagna trees. Orson's been living his books again in "Double Oh Orson." His new spy novel turns into a James Bond spoof with him as the spy, Wade as his boss, Lanolin as the girl, and Roy as the bad guy. It inadvertently ends up helping Booker and Sheldon when the milk bucket they used to catch worms happens to look like the villain's explosive device. Garfield gets into a "Health Feud" with a local exercise show host who has convinced Jon to get rid of all his high-fat foods. He comes up with a creative use of his cue cards to get rid of him.

I couldn't believe what a gorgeous day it was when I headed out. It was sunny and hot, but not humid at all, with a lovely breeze. My first stop in Collingswood after parking the bike was WaWa. I needed money from the ATM. Also treated myself to their amazing Bananas Foster Smoothie, made with real bananas.

The farm market is across the street. Even at quarter after 11, they were bustling with people buying produce for their tailgating parties and weekday dinners. Peaches are gone, but there's plenty of everything else, especially greens. I saw acorn squash and pumpkins for the first time this season, and beets and kale for the first time since the early summer. Bought small Empire apples, a zucchini and a yellow squash, mushrooms, and baby kiwi (tiny fuzzless kiwi on stems).

Took the long way home across Newton River Park. The park couldn't have been prettier today. Sunlight sparkled on the rippling green waves, blowing through the leaves on the trees. It was surprisingly quiet for a nice Saturday. I only dodged someone out for a stroll and a flock of Canadian geese looking for lunch.

Had my own lunch when I got home and put everything away, then had yogurt and fruit for my own lunch. Put on my first mildly spooky cartoons of the year while I ate. These New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episodes were released as part of a Halloween DVD set. Piglet is "A Knight to Remember" when he imagines himself into a fantasy world where he's a very reluctant knight who has to save the kingdom from a fierce "dragon." He has a nightmare in "Rock a Bye Pooh Bear" and thinks that if he sleeps, his friends will vanish. The others try to show him that dreams are just dreams, and don't always come true.

Continued into Frankenpooh while getting organized. "The Monster Frankenpooh" is a not-so-scary story Piglet is telling about a mad scientist creating a huge Pooh Bear, but Tigger makes it spookier than Piglet intended. Everyone thinks there's ghosts around in "Things That Go Piglet In the Night." It's really a spooked Piglet in a sheet and Eeyore trying to learn to swing. Piglet and Pooh think they're on "Pooh Moon" during a camping trip, but they really landed in a cave. The others think the Grab-Me-Gotcha snatched them and try to find them.

Next up on my to-do list was grocery shopping. I didn't eat much at home this week, so there wasn't much I needed. Took advantage of good sales and online coupons to grab honey, Duncan Hines cake mixes, almond milk, and Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. Restocked cooking spray (buy one, get one), butter, and yogurt. Treated myself to mini-coconut macaroons off the clearance baking shelf.

My schedule next week is much better, really the best I've had since well before vacation. An early day tomorrow means I'll get to see most of the game, and the rest of the week is early or mid-afternoon. Tuesday and Friday off, and I work late enough to do the farm market next week.

Went straight home...and right back out after I got everything put away. I wanted to get my vacation laundry done. There wasn't really that much, anyway. There were a few people when I came in, but it cleared out quickly. Half-listened to college football while working on story notes.

Worked on writing after I got in and put everything away. Everyone's nerves are on edge after rescuing host Gene Rayburn from nearly being electrocuted. Gene has to separate Fannie and Brett before they get into a cat fight and calm down Bill Daily's considerable nerves before he finally figures out the answer to producer Ira's question. He knows where fellow host Richard Dawson feels the most in control and calls out the definitive answer - "Survey says, Family Feud!" As soon as he speaks the words, they all vanish again.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Finished the night with a salmon patty and zucchini, yellow squash, and potatoes sauteed in white wine sauce while continuing with the Pooh theme. I go further into the charming anthology The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Friday, September 20, 2019

Last Train to Cherry Hill

Lauren and her parents and I headed out relatively early for the station, around quarter after 9. As soon as we got there, I picked up a turkey on rye with lettuce and tomatoes for lunch. It would be too late for lunch by the time I got into New York. We were only sitting in the waiting area for about twenty minutes before they announced my train. I gave the Millers big hugs for having me. I always have a great time when I visit Lauren and her parents, and this week was no exception.

I had no trouble at all during the entire trip. I managed to find a car that wasn't full and got a seat to myself. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, warmer and with bright sunshine reflecting off the rolling Hudson River. I had my lunch after about an hour, then colored in my adult Star Wars coloring book with artwork from Marvel Star Wars comic books and watched Match Game episodes on my phone.

Spent the hour and a half I was in New York just walking around. I did sit and read a chapter of The Last Jedi at one point, but I was mostly too nervous to sit down! Finally joined everyone else at the Departure boards in the main waiting area. Luckily for me, my train was loading right across from where I stood.

I managed to get a seat quickly, which was a good thing. The train was full and sold out, filled with commuters on their way down the East Coast to Virginia. A young man sat next to me and slept almost the entire way to Philadelphia. I resumed watching Match Game episodes, ignoring the suburbs and graffiti that the train chugged through.

The train arrived in Philly at 4:30. That gave me just enough time to buy a ticket for the NJ Transit and hop on. Since I was taking Uber home anyway, I thought I'd get in a little earlier than originally planned. The train to Cherry Hill was busy, but I did manage to get a seat to myself. It pulled into Cherry Hill around 5:15.

Called Uber when I got in. I...forgot to confirm my call, and it took a little longer to get a driver than I thought. The driver was a pleasant young British fellow with a thick beard. For some reason, he took the long way around, down Cooper River Road and past Cooper River Park down to Haddon Avenue. Don't know why he didn't just take Cuthbert Road - he may have been trying to avoid traffic - but I did finally get home around 6.

Listened to the soundtrack from Cocktail while I unpacked and dropped my dirty clothes in the laundry basket. I have fond memories of this one. I've never been a fan of the ridiculously melodramatic Tom Cruise vehicle about the adventures of a cocky bartender, but the soundtrack is an old favorite in my family. We must have listened to it every other day in the late 80's-early 90's. Along with the hits "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and "Kokomo," we have roof-raisers like "Hippy Hippy Shake" and "Wild Again," John Melloncamp's "Rave On," and the catchy "Oh I Love You So."

Finished the night with an episode of Buck Rogers while having a marmalade omelet and slightly limp salad for dinner. "Vegas In Space" is Sinlasia, the intergalactic casino playground. One of the top gangsters on the planet promises to trade information with Buck and New Chicago if they find one of his workers, who was kidnapped when she accidentally saw sensitive information. Buck has to find the girl...but it becomes easy to attract the hitman who kidnapped her when it turns out that Buck's old-fashioned "intuition" is more than a match for the casino's computer dealers.

Today was technically my last day of vacation, but I checked online, and it turns out I have tomorrow off. Good thing. I have a lot of errands to run, including hitting the farm market, getting the rest of my schedule, and doing the laundry.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Catch Us If You Can

We started out a little bit later this time, around 10:30. Our destination today wasn't quite as far. We returned to Lee, this time to check out the sprawling outlet mall just off the Mass Pike there. Parked in the back, then started towards the back of the mall.

Lauren said her parents had put in a request for smooth fruit butters from Harry & David's, so we made that our first stop. They don't just sell fruit butter. While Lauren tried to figure out which flavors her folks wanted, I looked over pumpkin scone mixes, chocolate-covered fruit candies, tea, coffee,  cookies, and popcorn, among other things. She ultimately went with pear butter and orange marmalade.

Next up was the Dress Barn. It's one of the few stores in the outlets that also sells plus sizes. I like their sweaters, but I didn't see anything I absolutely needed, and Lauren didn't, either. She did much better at sports store Under Armor, picking up shorts, teal and black pants, and a lavender shirt for working out.

I made my first find of the day at Eddie Bauer. They've always been good to me, as far back as when my mother bought our clothes almost exclusively from them, Land's End, and L.L Bean in the 90's. They had thick, simple t-shirts in pretty fall colors for $7.99. I went with one in a lovely shade of pink-peach.

By that point, it was lunchtime, and we were both pretty hungry. The food court was far more full than it was when we went last year. Then, there were maybe two booths open. Today, all the booths but one were occupied. We both went Italian. She opted for a thick pepperoni Stromboli and a salad. I went with a massive slice of vegetable pizza and three garlic rolls. Yum! My pizza was thick and doughy, covered in tons of vegetables, and the garlic rolls were just as good.

We were in and out of stores for the next two hours. Lauren did much better than I did, finding cute floral blouses for her job at a local bank at Ann Taylor and LOFT, a lavender sweater at Aeropostale, and a blouse at Banana Republic. Neither of us dug up anything at Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, PacSun, American Eagle Outfitters, or Fanatics by Lids (another sports store, this one with emphasis on team gear).

I did better during our last hour and a half. I had luck with the Gap Outlet the first time we were here in October 2015, and I did well here again. I found a sage t-shirt with the cutest daisy print for $9.99. Lauren picked up two tank tops and a good button-down shirt in raspberry pink. I loved the socks I bought from G.H Bass & Co last year so much, I bought three more pairs, two of the same ones in black and higher ones in brick red and black. They were slightly more expensive than they were last year, but those thick cotton socks are perfect for work.

Hit some traffic going into downtown Pittsfield before we made it over to the city branch of the bank she works for. We both needed money. I wanted it for dinner at the Highland, a much-loved local restaurant in Pittsfield. She got us in, we got our cash from the ATM machine (it was past 5 PM at that point), and we got out.

 Lauren revealed what was going on with the traffic when we parked in a mostly-full lot...and discovered a bagpipe group playing on the other side. (And quite well, too.) Turns out today is their Third Thursday celebration. We listened to the bagpipers briefly, then headed back.

The Highland is another small basic fare place, this time with a bar and lots of dark wood paneling. Lauren had pork sausage with mashed potatoes and applesauce. I had a simple roast beef sandwich on whole-wheat bread. My dessert was a big, sweet slice of their delicious coconut custard pie. Hers was something called Grape Nuts pudding, which basically looked like bread pudding with a crusty outside. (I have to admit, it actually looked pretty good.) The waitress was hilarious, joking about us not liking our food when we'd cleared our plates. Lauren and her parents have eaten here for years and know the wait staff quite well.

Got in around quarter after 7, just in time for the second half of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! with Lauren's parents. Today was my last day here. Tomorrow, I'm heading home around 11:30. I already texted Jodie and told her I'd just take Uber home from the Cherry Hill Station, after all the trouble with the Transit schedules.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Are You Ready for the Country?

This time, we headed out at 10 AM across New York State and into the wilds of Vermont. It's worth the trip just for the ride. We passed bright red farms with fields laden with pumpkins and rolls of hay and horses running in waving green pastures. Babbling brooks flowed under bridges. The trees are just starting to turn brilliant shades of gold, red, and sienna around their very tops, but are still a mostly deep-emerald carpet rolling up the majestic mountainside.

Our first stop of the day was a small 70's-era shopping plaza outside of Bennington. A co-worker of Lauren's had given her a tip about a rare non-mall JC Penney left in the wild. It brought back a lot of memories. There was a similar small one-room JC Penney in Rio Grande (and they were actually even smaller) when I was living in Wildwood. I got a lot of my clothes and all of my socks there. The Rio Grande one has closed, but I'm very glad this one was still fully intact. Lauren didn't fit into the shorts she wanted, but I found a red t-shirt that was a mere $2.55 on the clearance rack.

There was even a Hallmark further down in the shopping center. The mall in Rio Grande has a Hallmark that, unlike the JC Penney, is still there to this day. I didn't see anything I absolutely couldn't live without, but Lauren found a talking Clark Grizwauld ornament for her family's tree.

We had lunch at a small diner a few minutes down the road from the shopping center. Jenson's was a little rustic family restaurant not unlike Athena's in Lee, and it was also suggested by Lauren's co-worker. I had a small but delicious and cheesy Swiss and Mushroom Burger. Lauren's Grilled Cheesesteak Ribeye sandwich was massive, dripping with sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms. We shared a small plate of fries.

After a long drive past charming chalet-style hotels and lovely little farming villages, we arrived in tiny Weston, home of the Vermont Country Store. Two rambling old farmhouses hold everything in the world you can imagine. Tin toys, 70's-era shampoos and cleaners that can't be found elsewhere, finely woven Vermont knitwear and linens, fancy nightgowns, flannels, maple syrup, books and cookbooks written in Vermont, bath soaps and lotions, cookware, candies and cheeses and baked goods of all kinds. There's so much to see there! And a lot of it was in different places than usual, and the rooms seemed a bit more open. They must have just remodeled.

The trouble wonderful as all that fancy stuff is, it's also expensive. Lauren directed me upstairs to the second floor, where they keep the clearance and half-off items. Even those were far from cheap. I finally decided I liked a cute little canvas bag in a nifty magenta-and-blue print that was only $9.99. Also grabbed my favorite little Cookie Buttons in Pumpkin Pie flavor. Lauren bought a lavender sweater for her mom and chocolates for her and her parents.

The Vermont Country Store isn't the only place to shop in Weston. There's two nice little shops across the street that carry merchandise that's almost as interesting. The Village Christmas Shop is the only Christmas store I've ever seen that's come close to the diverse variety of ornaments at the Winterwood stores in Cape May County. They have everything, from stuffed gingerbread men to ballerinas to favorite characters. There's even a small Halloween and Thanksgiving section. The Weston Country Store is a slightly more touristy version of the Vermont Country Store, selling small toys, stuffed animals, metal signs with risque sayings, and Vermont t-shirts and sweatshirts. We ultimately had no luck in either place.

Briefly returned across the street so I could get some candy. Trouble was, I couldn't find my favorite fruit slices among the penny candies anywhere! They'd always had them before. The only fruit slices I saw were in a large container I wasn't carrying home. I finally decided that the Cookie Buttons were enough sugar and we moved on.

Our original plan for dinner was to eat at the combination KFC/Taco Bell in Bennington, just off the highway. First of all, it's a good thing neither of us wanted Taco Bell. For some reason, the Taco Bell side was closed. Second, we couldn't get the sandwiches we and Lauren's parents wanted because they were out of chicken fillets! We finally decided that we weren't up for a huge bucket of chicken. Lauren texted her parents to tell them we were going elsewhere for dinner.

We ended up at Bob's Country Kitchen back in Massachusetts, about 20 minutes or so from the Millers' house. I haven't eaten there with Lauren in ten years. It's another lovely little rustic diner, this one serving breakfast all day. Lauren and I both ordered pancakes. I had chocolate chip; she went with berry. Despite getting three huge pancakes on one plate, I did finish mine. Lauren had a larger sandwich earlier and wasn't able to finish hers. She ordered fried fish sandwiches for her parents.

Finished the night downstairs online after a shower and showing the Millers our purchases (and giving them their candy.) We're going to spend my last day here at the Lee Outlets, a large outlet mall not far from Athena's and the Mass Pike.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Our State Fair

We were off down the Mass Pike at 10:30 again, this time turning in the opposite direction towards Springfield and The Big Exposition, aka New England's state fair. Once again, there was no traffic, and we got into Springfield fairly quickly...until we actually got close to The Big E. Then we ran, not surprisingly, into traffic going towards the fairgrounds. Once we did make it in, we parked in the grass and headed towards the entrance.

The Big E is huge! They're the state fair for the entire New England area. They were already bustling when we arrived at almost noon. People milled around tables selling gutters and roof shingles, tents selling toys and airbrushed t-shirts, and booths with bright-colored signs that sold lemonade and anything that could possibly be fried. (Including Kool Aid and whoopie pies.)

After a quick look at a toy tent, we moved on through the Young Building and the Better Living Building. These are pretty much an extension of what's outside, only with slightly more upscale items sold, like handcrafted linens and knits. We mostly just browsed through them, but we couldn't resist stopping at a booth in the Better Living Building that sold all kind of stuffed animals, from Disney to Russ. I found the most adorable little brown and white beagle. Lauren picked up an owl and an Eeyore for her mom.

By the time we got out of there, we were both ready for lunch...but we wanted something different than the usual fair food. Eagle-eyed Lauren spotted a truck that sold kielbasa and all things made from it, including mac and cheese with kielbasa and pirogis. Lauren got the mac & cheese and a refillable pink souvenir cup with a handle; I opted for 3 spinach and feta pirogis and a bottle of water. I haven't had pirogis in years, and these were tasty, fairly large and filled with lots of spinach and cheese. Lauren's mac & cheese had lots of big kielbasa bits and so much cheese, it was practically decadent. The cup was too huge for either of us to finish.

We opted for ice cream for dessert at a barn-like booth across the street. Lauren wanted a black raspberry-vanilla swirl in a waffle cone. I got a chocolate-vanilla swirl in a regular cone. We both had chocolate sprinkles. I should have sprung for the waffle cone. The regular cone couldn't hold the towering mountain of ice cream the guy gave us. It melted all over my hand and made a tasty mess. I had to stop at a bathroom to wash my hands.

Next up was the Avenue of the States, a row of buildings representing the capitol of each New England states. Rhode Island was the busiest. They were having "Rhode Island Day," with a local band playing "City of New Orleans" on the patio outside. People admired a really cool display of jack-o-lanterns from a Rhode Island zoo and lined up for Del's Lemonade and Warwick Ice Cream. We could barely elbow our way through the crowds.

The other capitol buildings were only slightly less busy. The line for Maine baked potatoes and Poland Spring water went out the building. People bought raspberries and chatted with Amazon representatives in Massachusetts. Children clamored for Pez dispensers in Connecticut, while their parents wanted maple syrup products in New Hampshire. We passed Ben & Jerry's and thick blocks of Cabot cheese in Vermont, along with lots of flannels. Lauren bought workout pants with flannel inserts. I bought more of those comfy plaid flannel scrunchies I found there last year.

Doubled back to the Better Living and Young buildings next. There were a few booths we wanted to check out again. Lauren bought the full set of Pink Panther shorts from an imported DVD seller and a fluffy teddy bear from a woman selling items made from alpaca wool. She found a knit hat and woven scarf from a knitwear and accessories boutique. We returned briefly to the Avenue of the States for Lauren to buy orange cream fudge from Rhode Island for her father and raspberry fudge for herself.

By this point, we'd literally been outside all day and were dead tired. It was time to head home. It took us a few minutes to find Lauren's car, and another couple to get out of the fair. Once we got out onto the main road, there were no problems, not even as we passed downtown Springfield. It was clear riding all the way back to Lee.

Had dinner at Athena's, the same restaurant just off the highway in Lee that we ate at after the fair last year. It's a lovely little place with wooden booths and green plants everywhere. Lauren went with a crispy chicken wrap and a pink lemonade. I hadn't had a chicken gyro in ages. I had it here last year, and it was just as good this year, crispy and salty. The fries were even better. I'd never had crispier fries. I wonder if they were double-dipped in batter and then fried, like Lauren suggested?

We finally made it home around quarter after 7. The Millers were watching Wheel of Fortune when we got in. We continued on to Jeopardy! with them as we showed them our purchases and I went downstairs while they talked family things.

I'm so glad we went today! The weather couldn't have been nicer. It was windy, and the wind was chilly, but the sun felt nice and warm. Perfect September weather.

Hopefully, the weather will continue to be lovely tomorrow. We're going to head into Vermont for our annual trip to the Vermont Country Store.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Better Shop Around

This time, we began the day by driving in the opposite direction eastwards, past historic towns like Lenox and Lee to the Mass Pike highway. There was no traffic anywhere at 10:30 in the morning, no problems on the road. Despite my concerns yesterday, the weather was gorgeous, sunny, bright, breezy, and warm.

We pulled into the Holyoke Mall at Springfield around quarter of noon. Our first stop at the second-largest mall in the New England area was JC Penney. We both ran into some great sales here. I found two pretty blouses, one coral, one dark purple-blue, for $8.98. Lauren is always looking for clothes for her job at a local bank. She picked up a few shirts and a pair of plaid pants and got to model another pair of black-checked pants for me.

Next up was the FYE downstairs. The sale was buy two used, get one for a dollar, but I just couldn't find a third movie I wanted! I ended up with just the movie version of The Fugitive and Rocky Horror Picture Show (the latter to review on Halloween). Lauren found a set of previously unreleased Roddy Piper wrestling matches.

We had lunch at Ruby Tuesday's. I had a 5 dollar off 15 coupon, allowing us to have a nice big meal. She had a chicken fillet sauteed in a sauce and topped with tomatoes, with sour cream and scallion mashed potatoes and zucchini on the side. My buttermilk-battered chicken fingers were salty and crunchy, the cole slaw was nicely sweet, and the slender fries were perfect.

We were in and out of stores for the next few hours. Neither of us found anything at Macy's. I checked out Box Lunch, then joined Lauren at Francesca's, a lovely little boutique that sold clothing and accessories. I couldn't fit into the clothes or afford the accessories, but Lauren bought a vest and two pairs of socks, and the bubbly college girl at the counter was really sweet. Went into Target and Best Buy, but only bought pads at Target. We briefly browsed through Christmas Tree Shoppes. Lauren found a cute Peanuts Christmas-themed baseball hat at Forever 21 while I was at Best Buy.

Dinner was in the basement food court. Surprisingly, despite it being almost 6, they weren't busy down there at all. I had fried food at lunch and went with a turkey-provolone sandwich, baked chips, and a soda from Subway. Lauren had a turkey melt and fries from Charley's Steak Sandwiches. The bread was dry, but otherwise, my dinner wasn't bad at all. I should try those baked chips more often. There aren't that many Subways in my area. I know there's one in Westmont, and I think the Wal Mart behind the Acme has one.

I hadn't been in a Burlington Coat Factory store in years. It's more-or-less the same thing as Marshalls or Ross...but much bigger! It was huge. Despite that, the plus sized selection was really picked over. I ended up just going to the bathroom, but Lauren got a couple of shirts.

That was enough for us. We finally headed home around 7. The rush hour traffic was long gone by that point. We drove home across the Mass Pike, singing along to classic rock, more recent country rock, and the best of Weird Al Yankowitz.

It was almost dark when we rolled into the Millers' driveway. After Lauren drove the trash down the long drive to the street, we went in and showed the Millers our purchases. I watched the end of Jeopardy! with them, then hit the shower.

This time, we actually are going to check out New England's state fair, the Big E, tomorrow. We had a great time there last year and I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Pleasant Valley Sunday

Thank heavens after yesterday the weather was gorgeous when we started out around 10:30. It was sunny and breezy, with a brilliant blue sky overhead. Lauren drove past farms laden with pumpkins and sunflowers and trees just starting to turn leaves red, gold, and sunshine yellow. It was a gorgeous day for a drive into upstate New York to check out flea markets.

Our first stop of the day was a large flea market in New Lebanon, just over the board. I've visited this place before with Lauren...and to our disappointment, it wasn't nearly as busy as usual. There were some booths selling mostly junk (and political t-shirts), but not as many, and nothing of interest in the main building. I didn't get anything, but Lauren picked up one of those t-shirts for her dad.

We did better at other sales down the road. A smaller flea market was being held about a block away. Once again, I saw nothing of interest, but Lauren picked up Piglet and vintage M&M Christmas ornaments and a small figure of Daffy Duck dressed as the Easter bunny.

We both did much better at a nearby thrift shop. It was a lot like a smaller, one-floor version of the Barrington Antique Center, lots of items in tiny rooms, but far better-organized. Things were arranged by items in nice shelves, rather than thrown in helter-skelter. The first things we found after the main room were two large shelves of DVDs and CDs and two more of books. I didn't see any books I liked, but I did find Greta Garbo's first comedy Ninotchka and the original Time Life Treasury of Christmas set (with an extra bonus CD). Lauren picked up a pile of country-western and classic CDs for herself and her parents and a cute purple vest for herself.

After leaving the thrift shop, Lauren drove us back into Massachusetts to just outside of the Berkshire Mall. There's a mini-golf course and driving range that she and her family have been playing at since she was a kid. It's a lovely little course, with the usual wooden house and windmill, bear statues, and rotating rainbow paddle traps. We had a great time, not only playing, but watching an adorable little boy and his grandparents playing ahead of us. They were so funny! The boy was so enthusiastic. He reminded me of Keefe when we used to play each other at the long-gone mini golf course next to the ice cream parlor in North Cape May in the 90's.

I won the game, incidentally, but only by two points. It was close. We both had problems on some traps. I hit my ball into a bush on the very first course, and Lauren got hers caught in a small water trap twice on a course

We wandered around in a couple of stores for the next hour or so. Target is pretty much the only thing at the Berkshire Mall that's still open, so we went there next. They were just putting out their Halloween things. Shelves were laden with candy, princess and Avengers costumes, Pillsbury Funfetti cake mixes, and stuffed dinosaurs dressed as vampires. They weren't busy, but we didn't end up buying anything.

Lauren took us back towards the area with the shopping centers we checked out yesterday. This time, we went across the street to a smaller center that features the area's only Game Stop. Lauren looked over PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Switch games, and I looked over Wii, but once again, we walked out with nothing. I just bought a Snickers bar at Big Lots.

The Millers were working on dinner when we rolled in. After we showed them our purchases, Lauren played something on her Nintendo Switch, and I gave Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn a shot on her Nintendo DS. The "extra" are hats that Kirby can grab that will give him special abilities, like use a sword or make yarn balls without grabbing an enemy. I got most of the way through Grass Land before dinner was called.

Dinner was a feast! Mrs. Miller made crispy tuna croquettes with tater tots, rolls, and amazing glazed carrots sauteed in real maple syrup. Lauren had cookie dough ice cream for dessert. I've had tons of ice cream lately and opted for a super-sweet watermelon fruit bar. Mrs. Miller did the same, only hers was peach.

We watched a couple of first season episodes of I Love Lucy while we ate. Lucy goes on "The Diet" when she needs to slim down in order to fit into a size 12 costume and do a dance with Ricky. She does everything possible to lose that weight, from running around the building to eating nothing but celery. It does slim her down, but it also leaves her with no energy. She joins the act anyway, to Ricky's surprise.

I'm not the only one who gets into her mystery novels. "Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying to Kill Her" when he jokes about killing her after she loses her murder novel out the window. She takes his joking seriously, especially after she overhears him talking about what she thinks is a plot to murder her and Ethel reads her cards and claims she's going to die. She does everything she can to hold him off.

She enters "The Quiz Show" in order to win money for household expenses. This radio game show makes female contestants do humiliating things on the claiming another man is your first husband. Not only is Ricky understandably upset, but the stranger Lucy says is her first husband isn't who she thinks he is.

We played games after dinner. I won Roll With It! again by a large margin. Mr. Miller won Uno again, though this time Mrs. Miller and Lauren won rounds as well. (I'm really rusty on that one.) I did manage to win Sorry!. Mr. Miller came in second, followed by Lauren.

Lauren and I are now downstairs, chatting and enjoying skating videos and Match Game on YouTube. We were going to go to the Big E tomorrow, but the weather sounds iffy. We're going to stay inside and go to the Holyoke Mall in Springfield instead.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Rhythm of the Falling Rain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

On the Way to Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte's Web (1973)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Isn't It Kinda Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Fair (1962)

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

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

Memories On a Busy Day

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dolls on Library Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Muppet Movie

Monday, September 09, 2019

Sweet Apple Summer

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

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

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

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

My Sister Eileen (1955)

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The Eagles Outrun the Redskins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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