Monday, November 30, 2009

The Candy Woman

Today was Laundry Day. It's pretty much the only day I can do the laundry if I want to get the Christmas decorations up by the end of the week. Uncle Ken and Dolores were there initially with Dolores' granddaughter May. I went over to the Oaklyn Library to return Cranberry Thanksgiving, Christmas In America, and the Gifts of Good Taste books. Took out a few more Gifts volumes and A Child's Christmas In Wales.

I was going to walk to WaWa and buy milk, but the weather wasn't great. It was only sprinkling when I walked to Uncle Ken's, but by the time I got out of the library, it had settled into a long, cold shower. I just went back to Uncle Ken's, picked up my laundry, and headed home.

After I put my clothes away, I used the last hour before work to have chicken fingers and leftover Brussels sprouts for lunch and make Banana Muffins from the October issue of Prevention Magazine. I was disappointed with how they came out. They tasted ok, but the batter fell. Oh, well. It was an awfully thin batter. I must have overdid the buttermilk.

Uncle Ken and Dolores hadn't been home when I'd picked up my laundry, and Dad's gone for several weeks on a cruise ship job. I ended up just riding to work in the wind and rain, making sure to wear my big black (water proof) winter coat with the hood.

Work was almost not worth the nasty ride. It was dead all night long, even during rush hour. Between the nasty weather, this being the end of the month, and the fact that we're now between holidays again, most people probably stayed home. It was so dead, and we had so many bored teenagers standing behind registers, I spent the last hour and a half of work stocking and organizing boxes of candy bars, gum, and lollipops at the registers. I'd much rather do that than handle annoying people. For me, it's fun, and it clears my head. I like organizing things. It just comes naturally to me.

(And my ride home wasn't quite as bad as my ride to work. It was cold and windy, but the rain was long gone by then. Oh, and I did get my milk at work, along with buttermilk and eggs.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Christmas Season Begins

Started off today quietly, with gingerbread-pear pancakes and a half of a very juicy grapefruit. The Brunch With the Beatles show was honoring George Harrison, who died around this time in 2001, but alas, I was only able to hear the first half-hour. I stepped into a gorgeous, sunny, 60 degree day and rode to work.

Work was steady when I came in, busy when I left. I guess everyone decided to come in later. I was in and out with no problems; my relief was on time. I bought candy canes for the tree after I finished.

Headed straight home. Thank goodness the wind that had plagued South Jersey for the past few days had diminished considerably, and both my rides were fine. I probably didn't even need my heavy black winter coat.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening beginning the major Christmas decorating. I set the old Nativity on the 80s video shelves I use for pre-recorded and children's videos. The Nativity has literally been in my family for years. Mom said her mother gave it to her when she first moved out. By the time I was living in Wildwood, she and Dad had bought a smaller, more colorful, less grand creche scene and gave the older, darker one to me. It's grimy and not that pretty...but it has wonderful detail, especially on Mary and Joseph, and I suspect it's not all that far removed from the real Nativity.

The garlands went up next. Mom gave me the garlands around the same time she gave me the older Nativity. She used to put garlands up over every window in the house in North Cape May, but began to tire of struggling with them around the turn of the 21st century. She gave several of the ones she no longer used to me, including a big, heavy one that had been used for years on the banister in the North Cape May house, and the one with the velvet book ornament hanging off the center that had been in my room since my early teen years.

I can understand why Mom no longer does every room. Putting up the garlands can be a literal pain in the rear sometimes...or pain in the thumbs. I tack most of them to the wooden walls, but they're so hard, and the garlands so thick, they often just pop out a few seconds later. I've actually started twist-tying the garland over the two windows behind the two IGA shelves with the children's books, computer items, and Care Bears and Sailor Moon dolls to the unused shade hangers. I only tack the center of that one to the wall.

Had the dinner of Baked Chicken Fingers, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Pan-Fried Sweet Potatoes I'd been too tired to make last night while watching two documentaries on holiday history, Christmas Past (on British Christmas history), and Christmas Unwrapped (on Christmas history in general and in the US).

Oh, and one of the reasons we were so busy today was the Eagles played a 1PM game against the Washington Redskins. Though they were losing when I had the radio on earlier, they apparently came back to win it in the fourth quarter for the second week in a row.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Love A Christmas Parade

Whew, am I beat! I've had an incredibly long day.

I slept a little longer than I thought I would, but I figured it would be ok. I took my time eating my eggs and pumpkin muffin and heading to the PNC bank to deposit my paycheck. After all, how long could the Collingswood Christmas Parade last? It was just a little local parade.

A lot longer than I figured, as I discovered when I arrived in Collingswood. I heard drums in Knight Park long before I rode up to Collings Avenue. There were already tons of people walking over to Haddon Avenue. The streets were lined with cars that couldn't fit in the parking lot behind the stores on Haddon Avenue.

Haddon Avenue looked like a holiday circus. People sold hot dogs and soft pretzels, despite the fact that it was merely 10 in the morning. Balloon sellers struggled against the 30-mile-an-hour wind to hold onto their wares. Children bundled into bright-colored or pastel coats chased each other across the street, while their parents and grandparents laughed and chatted and made jokes about the chilly but sunny weather. It made for a great pre-show. I even bought a pretzel from Collingswood High School's wrestling team.

It was standing-room-only by the time I made it to in front of the Collingswood Library. I parked my bike in the bike rack and watched the parade for a while. Other than I wish they were more organized (with fewer stops and starts), it was really fun. There weren't as many floats as I thought there would be. Most of them were very home-made affairs concocted by local schools or churches. (Although one enterprising local glass company thoughtfully shot fake "snow" onto the crowd through a huge pile of "presents.") The high school bands were saved for the end of the parade, and other than I felt sorry for the flag girls who had to control their batons in that crazy wind, there wasn't really anything distinguished about them. (Oh, wait, one school - Collingswood? - played "Thriller" instead of generic Christmas tunes.) There were three local dance schools - the fifties themed group, with their cute red felt dresses and matching cat's-eye glasses, were the best.

Far more interesting were the things you don't normally see in local parades. There were at least three motorcycle groups and four groups of classic cars. (I loved the motorcyclists. Some of them had stuffed animals on the back of their bikes. The guy who had the huge stuffed rabbit riding with him was awesome.) There were stilts walkers who juggled and gave kids high-fives. There was an African group with gigantic tribal statues. A Nutcracker group had fairies in sequined mini-dresses, those neon pixie skirts I saw at Halloween, and tiny dollar-store wings.

There were people in costume. Some were dressed as Christmas characters. (I especially liked the Rudolph and Grinch getups.) Others appeared to have grabbed a random costume they thought looked good. There were lots of superheroes and, for some strange reason, Teletubbies.

Probably the most unusual sight were the Mummers, who made up at least half the parade. Living next to Philadelphia has its advantages. My favorites were the Mardi-Gras themed group, with their huge mask-shaped signs and mini-float, and the Fifties group, with their glittering poodle skirts and the only lead Mummer in sequin-and-feather-trimmed black leather.

I cut out of the parade about 20 minutes early for my first volunteering session at the Collingswood Library. I wasn't there for very long. The Collingswood Library is the cleanest, most organized public library I've ever seen in my entire life. I spent about 40 minutes going over the Large Print Books and A through E in the fiction section, and maybe five books were out of place.

After I gave up on the Library, I ran to Cafe Antonio II for lunch. The place was hopping when I went in. Despite the line, I was able to order a slice of white vegetable and a slice of regular cheese pizza and a Diet Pepsi.

I was originally going to stop at Dollar General on my way to the Haddon Township Library and grab a shower curtain, but it was getting late at that point, and I still had a lot to do. I just rode to the Haddon Township Library instead. I (finally) dropped off the books and DVDs I took out a while back...and realized that I'd forgotten the Seussical CD, which was sitting on the table in my music room home. Oops. Thankfully, one of the regular librarians was nice enough to renew it for me. As with the Collingswood Library, there wasn't much to do. I shelved both adult and children's DVDs and organized the kids' DVDs. They'd been moved to the other side of the kids' section, thanks to the arrival of new, larger bookshelves and the expansion of the kids' room. The computers had colorful, kid-sized keyboards now, too. I found Barbie In A Christmas Carol on DVD and decided to give it a spin after I ended up liking Mattel's take on Three Musketeers.

Stopped at Super Fresh after leaving the library and picked up a few more things than I usually get there. I've had a hankering for some grits since watching the new Good Eats episode on YouTube. I also picked up Marsala cooking wine (cooking wine and vinegar is cheaper at Super Fresh than it is at the Acme) and a notebook to replace the journal I bought on vacation last summer that's on its last pages.

And I forgot bunched carrots, which was what I came in for. The Acme doesn't sell those, either.

Headed for home after leaving Super Fresh, dodging the usual traffic on Cuthbert Road. I received quite a surprise when I stepped onto my porch. It was still filled with leaves when I left this morning...but when I got home, almost every leaf was gone. I have no idea how that happened. Either my neighbors decided to surprise me and sweep up, or the wind was so crazy today, it blew all the leaves off my porch!

Spent the rest of the afternoon doing a major dusting session. I always do intense dusting right before I bring out the Christmas decorations. I dusted under everything in the apartment, including things I don't usually dust under, like the DVDs and videos, the white plastic shelf with the entertainment books in the music room, the Star Wars action figures (they fall over so easily), and the collectible teddy bear and porcelain doll display on top of the closets.

(I gave myself a bit of a scare while dusting the TV side of the living room. I stepped on something cold in the dark and thought it was a mouse! Boy, did I scream! I must have really been tired, because it turned out to be the old ant bait trap I'd moved out from under the video rack and forgot to throw away.)

After I was finally done with that, I was able to pull out the first of the Christmas decorations, the Santa bag with the random holiday items that are too large or awkward to fit anywhere else - the mistletoe, the poinsettia print placemats, the wreath, the big plastic bell, the box with the New Year's tiaras and noisemakers, and a few odds and ends that I'd picked up at yard sales throughout the year and hadn't felt like trying to shove into the other containers.

I was so pooped after that, I couldn't even make the chicken tenders I had planned on for dinner. I just had a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich on home-made whole-wheat-rye bread instead.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I was up early this morning...but for 9AM work, not 5AM sales. I think that's crazy. Who cares how low the sales are? Unless you're truly an early bird, 5AM is when you should be sleeping, not shopping. Besides, I don't buy any large toy items or electronics for anyone.

Work was on-and-off steady, which is busier than I thought it would be. Normally, a grocery store is the last place anyone wants to be the day after Thanksgiving! Other than some mildly cranky customers (must have gotten up for those "doorbuster" sales), there were no major problems, and my relief was on time.

After work, I ran to FYE to see if they had a present for someone. FYE was slightly busier than usual, but they don't exactly have a lot of huge TVs laying around, either. They didn't have it, so I went back to the Acme to pick up the few grocery items I needed this week. I found a set of foam balls two of my cousins might like and picked it up for their Christmas present.

Two of the local stores in Audubon who have me on their e-mail list mentioned special Thanksgiving Weekend sales. I bought a gift for my brother Keefe from my old friend Bob at Abbie Road Used CDs. Had a nice chat with the owner of Willie the Woodsman's and Wife and bought Christmas presents for two of my best friends, Lauren and Amanda.

I just went home after that. The day was windy, cloudy, and much colder than yesterday, probably only into the mid-40s. It was certainly not a day to be out running around on a bike.

After I got in and put away my groceries and presents, I took down the Thanksgiving and general fall decorations and put them away, then dusted the windows. I want to finish cleaning tomorrow and start putting out the Christmas stuff by tomorrow night.

And my schedule next week is a pain. While it's only slightly fewer hours, with no long days or very late or early days...I don't get another day off after tomorrow until NEXT Saturday. How do they expect me to get anything done? I really, really wish I had consistent hours, so I could tell people exactly when to expect me. Flexible hours are for mothers with children and college students with classes.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Novel-Length Role Play Story Just Posted!

And as a special surprise, I just posted this month's novel-length Monkees role play story on our site! You can enjoy it over the long holiday weekend.
Over the Train Tracks and Through the Woods, To Jodie's House I Go

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans! After yesterday's hoopla at work, I was so happy to be able to just sleep in and enjoy a quiet morning at home. I ran a LP of original and vintage American folk music that I listen to on quieter American holidays like Thanksgiving during breakfast. After the music, I watched DVDs while I made Cranberry Cinnamon Streusel Bread and Cranberry Drops (the latter from a Betty Crocker Cooky Book recipe). Did Garfield's Thanksgiving first, then Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and The Mayflower Voyagers. Worked on the cookies while Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was on.

By the time I'd switched to the black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons The Grocery Boy and Mickey's Good Deed, the bread and cookies were cooling on the table. The day had started out cold and cloudy, but the sun started breaking out of the clouds around noon, and by 2, it was gorgeous, windy, and 60 degrees.

(Incidentally, those two b&w shorts are some of my favorite Disney cartoons. I usually watch Grocery Boy around Thanksgiving; though it really has nothing to do with the holiday, it does involve Mickey the grocery clerk and Minnie making a big dinner...before Pluto steals the turkey. The touching Mickey's Good Deed is a sweet Great Depression Christmas tale on how street performer Mickey gives up the one thing he prizes to help a group of kittens on Christmas Eve.)

It was such a nice day, I left for Jodie's a bit early and went the long way around, instead of over the train tracks. Jodie's house was already filled with her relatives, my friend and Jodie's neighbor Erica and her mother Miss Helen, and Jodie's college-age sons and their friends. Feeling a little awkward, I went around the corner to Dad and Uncle Ken's for a little while. Dad was watching the Packers-Lions game. (The Lions were getting their rear-ends handed to them, 33-12.) My stepsister Jessa was napping. Uncle Ken and Dolores were getting ready to host their own meal with Dolores' family at Uncle Ken and Dad's house. I happily played with Dolores' grandchildren May, Blake, and Mercedes.

Dad, Jessa, and I finally headed over to Jodie's for dinner around 4. We chatted more with her relatives and played the new Super Mario Bros Wii game that looks something like the original 8-bit Mario games with the moves of the third one. Dinner was on the table promptly at 5. We ended up having 20 people eating in Jodie's fairly small house, which meant a lot of creative seating positions. (I was smart enough to grab the chair in the front table next to Jodie.)

Dinner was terrific. We had turkey, real (not boxed) stuffing, green beans, Miss Helen's orange sweet potatoes, cole slaw, Erica's cranberry relish (made from real cranberries and apples), pearl onions in white sauce, corn, mashed potatoes, and crescent rolls. (The rolls had burnt bottoms from when someone forgot to check on them.) I ate everything but the corn and the mashed potatoes.

Dessert was equally huge. Erica brought pumpkin and apple pies from a bakery in Collingswood. Someone brought a sweet potato pie. There were mini-cupcakes, my bread and cookies, and gingerbread. I had cupcakes, cookies, and a huge slice of pumpkin pie, but I really was stuffed by then.

My Cranberry Drop Cookies were a big hit. Jodie's relatives couldn't get enough of them. One guy asked to take them home. I had no problems with that. The recipe was huge. I kept half for my cookie jar and brought the other half to Jodie's dinner. Watched the kids play Super Mario for a little longer before I finally headed out.

While I am thankful for many things - my family, the friends I do have, my home, not having to work today - I can't help feeling a little left out. I really wish I had a family to cook for, or at least someone I could invite along with me to these parties. I never know what to say to strangers who are over the age of 12. I wish I could have Thanksgiving at my own home, with my own family and friends, instead of just being there.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pilgrims and Indians and Long Lines, Too

Yes, today was my 8-hour day. Actually, despite the title, it could have been worse. It was on and off for most of the day, not nearly as bad as I figured it would be. It did pick up around the usual 4-6 rush hour and was just starting to slow down when I left at 7:30.

Most people were in a really good mood, too, happy to be done with work or school for the holiday weekend. There was only one bad incident the whole day. A man using the WIC Checks (checks for people with infants and toddlers who need help with formula and food) didn't have the right things for the checks. The checks are very specific, and you can get in trouble for not having the right things. Trouble is, he had to go back at least three times for what he needed, holding up a long line. The man behind him got so fed up, he yelled at the guy with the checks, then took off!

I was initially upset, but in truth, I didn't really have time to freak out for long. I wanted to get the line down. And I didn't entirely blame the guy with the WIC Checks, either. Yes, he could have been better-prepared...but the State of New Jersey just revamped its entire WIC Check system, adding items like fruit, vegetables, and bread, that were never able to be purchased with the checks before. I'm not really surprised the guy was confused. So are a lot of other people.

Larry, one of our managers, appreciated how I handled that so much, he gave me a card to put in a box that would put me in the running for a 10 dollar Acme gift card at the end of the week, or a 25 dollar gift card at the end of the month. That was sweet of him.

Oh, and they finally got the free turkeys in, too. They were mostly small turkeys...but everyone buying the freebies today said they were going to use them for Christmas or save them for next month or use them in case they had unexpected guests.

I went straight to Arby's after work. Arby's was dead by 7:30, with only one other group of people and a few teenagers enjoying "Roast Burgers" after shopping. I had a small "All American Roast Burger" (Arby's signature shaved roast beef with burger toppings - much less greasy and better for you than the usual burger!), curly fries, and Diet Mountain Dew. I debated going back to the Acme for the Edy's Ice Cream that was on sale, but my tummy felt a bit funny after dinner. I think I ate too fast. I was just so hungry after my long day! I rode home instead.

I got lucky with the weather, too. It was spitting a little when I went to work and misting and a bit foggy when I went home, but I think I missed the worst of it. I know it got really dark at one point - I saw it through the front windows - and I saw that many of the carts were soaked.

I jumped in the shower the moment I got home. No shower ever felt soooo goood.

For you Americans who won't have a chance to get online tomorrow, I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Keep On Movin'

Once again, I'm tired out. I got a lot done today. I did my laundry, which took me longer than planned, thanks to Uncle Ken and Dolores forgetting they had a load in the wash from a week before that had to go in the dryer.

While their laundry was in the dryer, I finished organizing the last three shelves of children's picture books at the Oaklyn Library. The librarian really appreciated it. She said I'm the first person who was able to get it done. Most of the volunteers whom had tried to organize it had gotten so frustrated with the mess, they never came back!

I put my laundry in the dryer, then went back to my apartment. I had leftover Italian Wedding Soup and Chicken Skillet for lunch. I made my bed. I aired out my rag rug and shook out my daisy mat. I vacuumed the entire apartment. The kitchen was a real pain; between my baking and cooking and being where you enter the house, there was stuff all over the place.

Watched Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer between chores. It's still not in the same league as the X-Men films or even Iron Man, but it is an improvement over the first Fantastic Four movie that I rented back in June and didn't like. The performances were a bit less bland here, especially Johnny Storm (who carried a lot of the film), and the end-of-the-world plot had a lot more excitement to it than just trying to defeat Victor Von Doom. (Doom, incidentally, remains a rather dull villain.) Another thing I like about this series - it generally has a lighter tone to it than the X-Men films, with Reed Richards and Sue Storm's attempted marriage, spoofs of the media's celebrity obsession, and all the bickering the Four do.

Headed to work after I finally got the laundry put away and the vacuuming done. Like yesterday, work was a nuthouse until right until about an hour and a half before I finished at 9:30. Other than that, most people behaved themselves and there were no real problems.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Preparations

Had early work today, and a good thing, too. It was still sunny when I rode to the Acme at quarter of 9, but there were clouds on the horizon. By lunch time, the sky was dark...and by the time I finished at 3, it was starting to sprinkle. Between the weather, this being the last day of several 4-day sales, and the upcoming holiday, the Acme was crazy-busy for most of the day. Didn't help that we were out of the free turkeys and can't substitute. I was very grateful when my relief showed up on time and I was able to go straight home.

It was merely sprinkling when I left, but it started raining harder as I turned onto Kendall Boulevard, and it was definitely showering as I walked into my apartment. Good thing I hadn't planned on doing anything besides holiday cleaning for the rest of the evening.

I've finally figured out why my tub and sink have been so grungy these past few months. They really, really needed to be unclogged. It was still a little bad, but not quite as much as in previous months. I got the bathroom done so quickly, I was able to do the kitchen, too.

Which means, whew, I'm one tuckered-out girl! I think the only other times I've sat down today were break at work and when I was eating my chicken skillet casserole over whole-grain noodles for dinner while watching the Disney Babes In Toyland.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Whatever Gets You Through The Day

The weather remained lovely when I got up this morning, still blue and gold and in the 50s. I made huge Cranberry-Dark Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast while listening to Brunch With the Beatles. "Beatles and Solo Beatles #1 Hits" was the theme today. They played a couple of favorites of mine, including two from Ringo Starr, "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen."

Work was busy, but not out of line with the day and the time of year. The Eagles didn't play until 8:20 tonight, so there was none of the usual rush before the game. We had a few cranky customers, mostly people complaining about not getting turkey coupons, but otherwise no problems and plenty of help. I was able to buy my milk and buttermilk and get in and out on time.

Listened to The Dress Circle this evening after chicken stir-fry for dinner and a shower. The theme tonight was "Bad, Weird, or Just Plain Odd Performances." Some of them weren't too horrible, like Jimmy Stewart's early 30s number or Robert Mitchum's dark love song. Some of them were good singers who'd picked the wrong material - opera singer Enzio Pinza performing a country number with the Sons of Pioneers, Marlene Dietrich doing "The Surrey With the Fringe On the Top" in German. One was a housewife who apparently had a fleeting 15 seconds of recording stardom in the late 60s.

And then, there was the Ethel Merman Disco Album, which was just about the scariest thing I've ever heard. Honestly, the guys should have played that at Halloween, not Thanksgiving. Merman with a weird techno-dance backdrop, singing the Cole Porter tune "Something For the Boys." Just frightening.

Oh, and at press time, the Eagles are killing the faltering Bears 10-0 at the beginning of the second quarter.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last Harvest of the Season

Yes, today was the last day of the year for my Saturday bank/farm market/yard sale run. The Collingswood Farm Market ends for the year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Thank goodness today was the nicest Saturday we've had in ages, with sunny skies and 50-degree temperatures.

After chatting with that nice teller at the bank about my problems with my family, I headed for the farm market. Not surprisingly, between the nice day and Thanksgiving being THE major food holiday of the year, the place was packed. More than half the food booths were gone, though, replaced by booths selling hand-made wares like beaded jewelry, knit items, and cigar-box purses. I did manage to grab small apples and pears, Brussels sprouts, organic beets, and romaine lettuce, along with mushrooms from the mushroom booth. (The regular vegetable tables were out of the little brown mushrooms I like.)

Rode around to a few yard sales after that. Bought a Squirrel Nut Zippers CD from an indoor "yard" sale a few blocks down from me. The owners said they had a lot of big furniture items they didn't want to drag outside. Didn't find anything else I liked today.

Headed home after leaving the indoor "yard" sale. I worked on editing this month's Monkees role play for about an hour, then dressed my American Girls and Sailor Moon dolls in their holiday outfits. (I won't have the time next week.) Molly wears a green-and-white floral dress with puffed sleeves and a long skirt. (I have no idea where that one came from. I wonder if Dad bought it online or from a doll clothes maker? It doesn't look like any American Girl outfit I've ever seen.) Little Jessa wears a bright red Chinese outfit my sister Jessa said she bought for a school project one year. Felicity wears the yellow dress I picked up for Samantha on vacation in North Adams a few years ago. Samantha wears her red "Cranberry Christmas Dress." The Sailor Scouts all wear the Barbie and fashion doll dresses I've bought them over the years from various dollar stores and yard sales.

I had a quick lunch of canned Italian Wedding Soup, then headed for work. Thank goodness after the last few weeks, work was busy, but otherwise no problem. We had plenty of help, and everyone was in a good mood, perhaps due to the impending holiday.

Grocery shopping after work went smoothly, too. I ended up with sugar, Fiber One granola bars (which are my favorite granola bars in the world), bananas, chocolate chips, yogurt, two individual packs of fish fillets (salmon and flounder), whole berry cranberry sauce (better for you than jellied), Multi-Bran Chex, canned pumpkin, and this year's Advent Calender (before they're all gone).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Alone In the Universe

Began a sunny, windy fall day with volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. This time, I went for a full two hours and organized five shelves of children's picture books. They badly needed it. More than half the books weren't in the right places, some were in the wrong section entirely, and there were even non-fiction books mixed in. Frankly, it looked like a blind man had shelved everything. The librarians said they hadn't really organized the kids' section in a while; it looked it.

I did, however, discover something I've been seeking for literally decades. One of my favorite picture books as a child was a Cinderella tale about a young seamstress who is forced by her stepmother and stepsisters to constantly add more and more ornamentation to their lavish ballgowns, neglecting her own. I loved looking at the gorgeous illustrations of the gorgeous outfits those silly siblings wore! I couldn't remember who wrote it or what the title was until I saw another book, A Birthday For a Princess, written by Anita Lobel, that had the same style of illustrations.

Apparently, the book is called The Seamstress of Saltzburg, and alas, according to, is long out-of-print. Maybe I'll keep looking for it online or at yard sales...

Headed home around quarter of one and listened to the CD of the original cast recording of Seussical: The Musical that I took out of the Haddon Township Library. Lynn Aherns and Stephan Flahtery, the composing team behind the music for the animated Anastasia and the Broadway Ragtime, wrote the songs for this crossover between some of the most famous works of Dr. Seuss. While it mainly revolves around lovable elephant Horton and his attempts to hatch an egg and save the city of the Whos, we also see the stories of vain Gertrude McFuzz, who just wants Horton to notice her, daydreaming Who kid JoJo, and careless Mayzie the Bird, among many, many others.

I remember hearing when this came out that it was something of a mess onstage (it flopped on Broadway), but the songs are sweet and the cast is a lot of fun. It's had a life as a popular regional production for families; I think the near-by Ritz Theater Company did it a few years ago. The gentle Alone In the Universe, for thinkers Horton and JoJo, was by far my favorite song from the CD.

Work called just as I was about to start editing this month's Monkees role play. Could I come in early and stay late? I had no problem with the "come in early" part. Editing could wait. That "stay later" was the trouble. It would be dark by the time I was done at 8PM, and the later I would be, the harder it would be to get home on my bike.

Tonight was annoying, anyway. I still keep forgetting to give out those darn stickers for that free pots and pans promotion, and people are still talking about the possible strike like it's already happening. And my schedule next week is downright annoying. While I appreciate the extra hours, they're all very early or late, which means I won't get anything done. I was really hoping to start volunteering at the Collingswood Library and get some cleaning done. I at least have Thanksgiving and next Saturday off; we'll just have to see what I can finish.

Incidentally, the union and Acme have extended their talks through the weekend. We'll check back in with that on Monday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Relaxing Balance

Started off today with my first Yogawood class in two weeks. (I skipped last week to join Linda and James in Philly.) Not bad, 10 people plus the teacher Karin. It wasn't too hard, mostly "heart openers" and work on the back and shoulders. Other than I still can't do full wheel (and can barely lift myself for bridge), I did ok.

Ran some errands after class. The thrift shop was still closed, so I went to the Collingswood Library to ask about volunteering. A guy friend of mine who used to volunteer at Friends In Deed works there and introduced me to the manager, also a young man. They said I could start at Monday from 10-12, organizing the DVDs and books downstairs. That's awesome...and exactly what I was hoping for. I really want to get some more experience - and contacts - in the local libraries.

Stopped briefly at Friends In Deed next to drop off donations and say "hi" to Erica, then headed back the long way across Newton River Park to Oaklyn. Also stopped at CVS to get a bottle of water; I was parched by then.

After I got home, I parked the bike and had tuna and vegetable soup for lunch. When lunch was done, I wrapped and boxed my sister Anny and brother Keefe's birthday presents. (Anny's birthday was on the 10th, but I don't know her new address in the Villas or her phone number.) I took the box over to the Oaklyn Post Office and mailed it...which ended up costing the last six dollars I had until I get my paycheck.

When I got in from the bank, I swept the porch. It really, really needed it. Last week's nor'easter had left huge piles of leaves that I was starting to bring into the house. I shouldn't have let it go for so long, but I wanted the leaves to dry before I tried cleaning up the mess. It took me twice as long as usual to get done.

Spent the rest of the day relaxing, baking Pumpkin Muffins, and watching various holiday films. Ran Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, the Barishncov The Nutcracker, and the two Muppet Babies Video Storybooks I found at the Collingswood Library.

The Video Storybooks are limited animation versions of the Muppet Babies picture books released in 1987. A live-action Kermit reads and narrates a short story about one-or-more of the Muppets. Cute if you can get around the cheapness of the production - the "animation" is barely moving versions of the books' drawings. If I Was Like Kermit, about Fozzie's wish to cheer up his best friend, and the very sweet What's a Gonzo?, about Gonzo's search for others like him, are my favorites of the tapes I found today.

(I have some fond memories of the tape with What's a Gonzo?. That was one of the first videos my parents bought after Dad got a VCR back in the mid-80s, and we had it for at least a decade. I never saw that tape again until today, and I never saw the other two volumes until I picked up Vol.3 at the Oaklyn Library and Vol.2 today.)

Here's two of the stories from that "Vol.1" tape, in full.

Baby Piggy and the Giant Bubble

What's A Gonzo?

And no word yet on how union negotiations are going...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Birthday Boy

Oh, and a very happy birthday to my brother Keefe, a ripe old 17 today! I can't believe how big he's getting. I just called him to wish him a happy day a few minutes ago. Said he had school and didn't really do much for his birthday. Mom gave him a video game and Dad gave him a new TV, so he apparently spent most of the afternoon "busting out the video games" (in his words).
Romancing the Continent

Began this morning with the second half of Australia and baking. My cookie jar was almost empty again. I decided to try one of several cookie recipes in Prevention this month, Lemon-Glazed Gingersnaps. They came out very tasty, though not as thin as the ones in the magazine.

Australia is a very old-fashioned romance/western/war movie. Baz Lutherman, who also directed Moulin Rouge with leading lady Nicole Kidman, brings his trademark bombastic style to this tale of a proper English gentlewoman who comes to the title continent in 1939 to check on her husband and his property...and falls in love with the arid land, its people, and a handsome, hard-living cattle driver (Hugh Jackman).

The over-the-top style that worked with Moulin Rouge doesn't come off as well in a non-musical. While I enjoyed the performances and the meandering 30s style, it tries to cover waaaayy too many bases. It starts off like an Australian-set version of Romancing the Stone, then moves into more dramatic western territory, then becomes a typical Hollywood romance, then morphs into a war movie...and that doesn't even bring the lengthy subplot involving the treatment of Australia's Aboriginal people into it. Actually, if Lutherman had ended with a western without bringing the war into it, he might have had something. Beautiful film, but too long and slow to be recommended to anyone who isn't into older styles of movie-making or aren't fans of Lutherman, Kidman, Jackman, or hokey romances.

Ran the quieter, more holiday-related Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving and A Disney Christmas Gift while finishing the cookies and eating lunch. After lunch, I walked over to the Oaklyn Library for my first volunteering session there. I only had about a half-hour (the place closes at 2), so I did U through Z on the children's picture books. Also chatted with the kind elderly librarian, who unlike most of my neighbors, sympathized with my desire to get out of the Acme and find another job.

Thank goodness after the last few days, work wasn't really much of a problem. It was steady-to-busy all night, and other than I wish people wouldn't talk about the darn strike so much, there were no problems.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Struck Out

All anyone could talk about at work, customers and employees, was the possibility of a strike. I still don't want to strike, and I wish the union would stop being selfish. Forget the darn pensions. What about the people like me who literally cannot afford this? This is the only money I earn. What am I going to do about my rent? What about Christmas? Don't they ever consider the fact that some people rely on this money? I'm not a teenager who can beg money off of Mommy and Daddy, a college student with fifteen different jobs, or a married middle-aged adult from a dual-income family. I'm a single 30-year-old who has not been able to find a job anywhere but here. What am I going to do?

The fear permeated the whole day. Didn't help that it was another lousy day at work. It was on and off busy, and we're in the midst of an annoying promotion where you earn stickers for every $10 you spent. Get enough stickers, and you get free pots and pans. The cashiers are supposed to give you the stickers, but I keep forgetting. It's just one more thing that we're supposed to tell people.

I'm so, so scared. I don't know what to do. I don't want to strike. I'm not going to march around with a placard and pretend it's 1969. I don't want to be a part of this company or this union. I hate my job, and the union's been no help since the one time they did something for me when I moved here and the Acme screwed up my transfer. Call me Han Solo, but I'm more worried about myself. How do you explain to people who want to fight that all you want to do is get your money and go home?

And of course, my relief ended up going in for someone else, and they had to get a manager to come in for me when I was done.

I stocked up on brown sugar and Smart Balance 50/50 butter after work (they're both on sale, and I may not be able to get them later in the week), then ran over to Wal-Mart. Bought birthday presents for my sister Anny (whose birthday was last week) and brother Keefe (whose birthday is tomorrow), along with tape (I'm almost out). Wal-Mart was a little busy, but not too bad.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Library's the Limit

Today was Monday and my errands and chores day. Started with late laundry around quarter of 11. After the laundry was in the dryer, I walked over to the Oaklyn Library. It was certainly a gorgeous day for it. Last week's wind and freezing rain had been replaced with sunshine, blue skies, and 60-degree temperatures. It may have been a little too warm for this time of year, but it beat bone-rattling chill.

Actually, it was a good thing it did get warmer. Apparently, the Oaklyn Library's heater broke down over the weekend and was in the process of being repaired even as I browsed the room. I went there partially to take a look at the Christmas Gifts of Good Taste books I took out last year to find ideas for Christmas baking presents. I also took out a novelization of the odd animated Raggedy Ann and Andy movie from the late 70s and two books that I take out every year in late November, Cranberry Thanksgiving and Christmas In America, along with the Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving video.

The other reason I wanted to go to the Oaklyn Library today was to ask about volunteering there. I highly doubt they'd have any jobs open - they wouldn't be open at all if it wasn't for the many, many fundraisers they've had recently - but volunteering would get my foot in the door and make myself known to another, literally closer set of librarians. The elderly woman behind the desk said she'd have to talk to the co-head-librarian who comes in later in the week...but she'd be more than willing to have me come in and help her organize the children's books, which, as I discovered while looking for Cranberry Thanksgiving, are a disorganized mess.

Ate a quick lunch of a turkey and escarole sandwich on home-made Rye-Whole Wheat Bread after I got home with my armload of books. Went quickly over to Dad and Uncle Ken's to pick up my laundry, then went back out again after putting them away. Took the bike over to Haddon Township for this week's library volunteering session.

It was kind of late by the time I got over there. The library was very busy with people coming out of work and children on their way home from the five or six schools in the area. The children's section of the Haddon Township Library is in the midst of being expanded and reorganized. I just added the DVDs to the stacks on a rolling cart and organized them as best I could. Shelved adult DVDs after that, and there was plenty to do. The librarians have said that a lot of people who would normally pay for renting movies or buying books have now found the library to be a much cheaper option, hense the increase in traffic.

I found a stack of my own DVDs I wanted to take out today. I ended up with the British stage revival of Oklahoma! that featured Hugh Jackman as Curly, another recent Jackman vehicle, Australia (I heard it's terrible, but it sounds like fun), Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer, and the newest incarnation of Strawberry Shortcake, titled The Sky's the Limit.

Made a brief stop at JoAnn's Fabrics and Super Fresh after leaving the library and just picked up cranberries and a small container of orange juice to try Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread from the back of the Cranberry Thanksgiving book. It was getting late by that point, so I just headed home, dodging rush-hour traffic on Cuthbert Road and the White Horse Pike.

Watched Strawberry Shortcake as I worked on the bread and Oklahoma! as I made a pizza omelet for dinner. Strawberry Shortcake: The Sky Is the Limit is the third revamping of the famous greeting card character, and it has some definite ups and downs. Pros include a sweeter, smaller, more fairy-like design that's far closer to the original cards and specials (including the green-striped stockings that were MIA in the 2003 version), a lovely story about sticking to plans and working together, and some not-bad CGI animation. (I especially loved the flight on the daisy heads.) It actually reminded me a bit of the gentle storybooks my sisters and I loved as children, such as Strawberry Shortcake and the Winter That Would Not End, that portrayed the group as tiny people living in a much larger garden and called on them to work together to save their home. Also revived from the original - the Berrykins of the last special, here workers who create the berry juice that powers the girls' home, Berry Bitty City.

On the other hand, I'm afraid none of the characters besides Strawberry herself and Mr. Longface the Caterpillar made much of an impression. If it wasn't for their different colors and my familiarity with the franchise, I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart. Hopefully, if they do plan to carry this into a full TV show, they'll be able to expand the characters much further.

(Also, if you're a fan of the 2003 version, much has been changed or not carried over. The emphasis on fruit saw the removal of any character not related to fruit, including Angel Cake, Ginger Snap, and Rainbow Sherbet. The girls are a bit, well, girlier as well, up to and including the dresses that replace the more casual jeans worn by the 2003 characters. However, I didn't see the cell phones that many complained about online here.)

I was even more impressed with Oklahoma!. The hit 1998 London revival saw it's best features in its impressive, simple designs and the sterling performances of its Aunt Eller, Maureen Lipman, and its menfolk, Jackman and Shuler Hensley as Curly's rival for the lovely Laurey, Jud Fry. This version supposedly restored the full text of the musical, and indeed, there's many passages of dialogue and two numbers that didn't make it into the movie. "It's a Scandal, It's an Outrage" is a comedy song for Ali Hakim the Peddler of no great importance, but Jud Fry's number, "Lonely Room," is a stunner. It's a shame they couldn't have worked it into the movie; it's probably the most powerful song in the score.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm Down

Once again, this was not a good day. I dropped an egg on my carpeted kitchen floor while I was making Banana-Oat Pancakes this morning and had to scrub that as well as I could. It would be less infuriating if it wasn't an expensive vegetarian-fed brown egg. I can't afford to waste those.

My parents apparently had a fight a few days ago. I tried to call Mom this morning to talk about it. I got the answering machine.

The Brunch With the Beatles radio show wasn't even that good. "The Beatles Live" was the theme. Shame they didn't do live concerts after '66. I really prefer their later music. The Dress Circle was so dull (and the hosts so condescending), I turned it off half-way through.

Work was insane all day, with long lines from 1 until I finally left at 6. I was only supposed to be there until 5, but they were extremely short on help, and there were call-outs. No wonder. Today was gorgeous, sunny and in the 70s, a far cry from the cold and rain late last week. They actually wanted me to stay until 7, but I was tired and stressed and wanted dinner. Yes, I need the money...but not at the cost of my sanity.

Talking to Mom when I got home did not help. She was just as tired, and not really up for any kind of a discussion.

Things are just so frustrating. I feel like I'm never going to be able to change anything. How can you be positive when nothing is happening?

The Eagles game wasn't even good. They lost to the Chargers, 31-23.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Cabbage Sprouts in New Jersey

Despite a light shower, I began my morning with my second-to-last farm market/bank run of the year. Next week is the last day of this year's Collingswood Farm Market. I'm certainly going to miss it when its gone. Though many booths weren't there today, whether because of the rain or the late date, I found many things I needed or wanted to try. I eventually bought broccoli, leeks, carrots, red and green peppers, cute little pears, mushrooms, the first Brussels sprouts of the year (and the first ones I've ever tasted), and my last jars of farm-market fresh molasses and Cranberry-Pear Butter of the year.

Went home, put everything away, and fiddled around on the computer for a while. I made a leek, cheese, and broccoli Frittata for lunch while watching the Good Eats episodes on Brussels sprouts and broccoli for ideas on what to do with them.

Headed for work after finishing lunch. The rain was long gone by then, leaving cloudy skies. It was still windy and chilly, but not as windy or as chilly as the last couple of days. My rides to and from work were a bit winded, but not too bad.

Work was very busy all day, not surprising, given that we're not only two weeks from Thanksgiving, but this is a big birthday month as well. My relief was late, so I just shut down when I was finished.

After I was done, I did my own grocery shopping. I had coupons for Acme yogurt, Cool Whip (which was also on sale), and Dr. Oteker mousse mixes, so I bought a graham cracker crust to make a pudding pie. Also bought ground turkey (on sale), individual packs of fish, granola bars, green tea, parchment paper (for holiday baking), aluminum foil (I ran out yesterday), skim milk, cheese, white cooking wine, and dried cranberries.

I had debated eating out tonight, but I finally decided that I was too pooped after work to run anywhere but home. I opted for leftover beef chuck steaks and steamed Brussels sprouts instead.

(And by the way, I have discovered that I really like Brussels sprouts. Yes, they have bite, but I like bite in my veggies. They're tasty steamed, can be shredded into cole slaw, and make a nice little snack if you cut off the bottoms.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Here's Hoping

The nor'easter continued to pound the Delaware Valley today, with gray skies, heavy winds, and on-and-off showers. I spent most of the day warm and cozy in my apartment. I watched Christmas specials (The Year Without a Santa Claus, Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, and The Stingiest Man In Town) and did job research online. I e-mailed the librarian for the Oakyln (Elementary) School down the street, asking her if I could volunteer there and if she had any advice on finding library jobs in the area. I haven't heard from her yet - we'll see what happens.

It was just cloudy and windy when I finally rode to work at 4. Work was busy when I came in, slowing down when I left, with no really major problems. I bought Draino for a clog in my bathroom sink (again).

Also found the animated version of Anastasia from 1997 in the $5.99 DVD bin and grabbed it. You're not going to find another 2-disc animated film for that price. It has about as much to do with Russian history as Disney's Pocahontas does with early American history, but Anya's a great heroine, the animation is genuinely cool, and the music's gorgeous.

Riding home wasn't nearly as much fun. It had started showering again by that point, and the wind was worse. I had no desire to call for a ride and try to drag my bike into someone's car. I rode home and got wet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nothing Like the City

The weather did not look promising this morning. In fact, it was downright ugly. Weather or no weather, I still wanted to meet my friends Linda and James Young from Georgia in Philadelphia to see some of the historic sites. I did have a very good omen right before I left. I use an old purse as a camera case. I was looking for the pocket that was for money and coins. When I found it, that pocket contained nine dollars and at least a dollar-fifty in change. Combined with the 35 I earned raking for Miss Ellie, the 7 dollar rebate check from X-Men Origins: Wolverine back in September, and my own money leftover from my paycheck last week, I had 60 dollars to play with today.

After my stop at the bank to cash the afore-mentioned check, I rode over to Collingswood and jumped on the PATCO train to the 8th and Market stop. It was still raining when I finally met Linda and James at the National Convention Center, which turned out to be two blocks from the 8th and Market Gallery Mall PATCO stop. I was glad to see both of them. They looked as lovely as ever. I haven't seen them since the WENN convention we all went to in Queens in June 2001.

It turned out we had a little time before the 11:20 Independence Hall tour. We walked through the Liberty Bell's home. For a day with such lousy weather, the entire area was bustling. There were several groups of schoolchildren on field day trip to see history, in ages from middle elementary to high school. It was especially busy in the Liberty Bell building. We saw the story of the Bell, from it's creation in England in the 1770s to the last time it was rung, in George Washington's birthday, in 1846...when the crack got so bad, they couldn't ring it again or they'd risk breaking it in half. James said it was outside when he last visited Philadelphia in 1976, but it had been moved into it's own building in the 90s.

Our next stop was Independence Hall...once we got past a long security line. There was one at the Liberty Bell, too. James said the last time he came to Independence Hall, people just walked right in. Not in post-9/11 America. I thought they were a little rude, but I imagine sitting in a cold tent poking in people's stuff all day couldn't have been a picnic.

The tour was surprisingly short...and there was a fairly large crowd despite the weather. We were herded into one plain, yellow-and-white room first with nothing but chairs and a painting of the Signing of the Founding Fathers. After the man gave us an entertaining lecture on the signing of the Declaration of Independence and afterwards, he took us upstairs to Independence Hall. We saw the room where the Founding Fathers met to argue the Declaration of Independence, and later the Constitution and the laws that would govern the new country. The room for court and judge was on the other side. It all had excellent reproduction furniture and huge marble fireplaces and a beautiful glass chandelier in the discussion room.

We headed back to Market Street and down to South Philly to meet a friend of Linda and James', John Baxidine, for lunch at a little restaraunt in South Philly. John has worked with Rupert Holmes, the creator and head writer of Remember WENN, on several of his shows. It was wonderful to hear him talk about the shows he's orchestrated (he's an orchestrator) and about Rupert's many projects. James and I got to trade stories of fast cars, crazy dads, and long car rides while we ate cheese steaks. Linda had her favorite chicken soup.

After we finished lunch and left John, we headed right over the bridge and into Penn's Landing. Penn's Landing is Philly's restored waterfront area, filled with boat-museums and lovely parks. At least, on days when it's not cold, windy, and raining like crazy. The wind was awful going over the bridge. Even so, we took in the large Seaport Museum, exploring Philadelphia's maritime past, from trading with China to immigration to ship-building.

In addition to the land based museum, Penn's Landing is home to two ship-museums. The first, the Beuna, is a submarine. It was really nerve-wracking getting down into that ship. The stairs were narrow and very slippery! It wasn't as bad once we were actually in the sub, but it was a bit of a tough tour, thanks to the narrow conditions. It was facinating to see all the real items they used aboard the sub, though, and learn things from from Navy-history-loving James, like how the men used to sleep next to the torpedoes.

There was somewhat more space on the older Olympia. Olympia is the oldest war ship still afloat at 117, and it looks something like a Cape May home on the water, with lots of wood and antique tools and furniture. It was slightly easier to get onboard, too. This being a larger ship, there were more rooms...and more to see, including a dentist's office, a laundry room, an infirmary, and a captain quarters that was more than triple the size of the one in the sub.

It was getting darker when we finally got off the Olympia. The rain had stopped by then, but it was getting colder and windier by the minute. We stopped back in the Seaport Museum right before they closed. Linda and James bought books on Naval history and ships. I didn't see anything I liked. A SEPTA bus driver was nice enough to drive us over the bridge after we explained that we wanted to get around the windy bridge to the nearest subway.

I walked with James and Linda as far as the Walgreens on 8th Street. The rain was gone, and the wind was far less where there were 600 buildings to block it, but it was still cold. James was thirsty, so we stopped at Walgreens to buy water. It was really busy, but I found the open cosmetics counter when I was looking for WebKinz, so we could all get out quick. (I never did find WebKinz.)

We parted ways outside of Walgreens. James and Linda wanted to find the subway and head back to their hotel. I browsed the Gallery Mall for about an hour or so. I finally found the Planes, Trains, and Automobiles "Those Aren't Pillows!" edition I was looking for last week and a very cheap used copy of the public-domain Road To... movies Road to Rio and Road to Bali. I've had them on video since high school, but it'll be nice to get them on DVD. (The DVDs turned out to be scratched, but they worked when I put them in the DVD player.)

I took a very, very full rush-hour PATCO train home to Collingswood. Unfortunately, the rain had returned by that point. I had a long, windy, rainy ride home. I called Linda when I got in to reassure that I had gotten home fine. I ate leftover enchalada casserole and watched Sailor Moon Super S episodes while warming up.

Thanks again, Linda, James, and John for a lovely day! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To Our Veterans

I saw many of you in line today, and I salute you all for what you've done for this country. At the very least, you were more polite than most of my customers. My biological father and uncle are Vietnam and World War II vets respectively, and my best friend's brother is in the Army now.

I honored the day and our vets with the Donald Duck World War II propaganda cartoons that I always watch on serviceman-related holidays, three famous Looney Tunes World War II shorts (Draftee Daffy, Super Rabbit, and my favorite of the bunch, Falling Hare), and a Vietnam-era Pink Panther cartoon, GI Pink.
Nightmare Work and Sweet Irish Music

This is a nightmare. When I wake up, it won't be happening. The Acme's union just okayed a possible strike. They're supposed to try to renegotiate on the 19th.

I am NOT going to go on strike. No way. No how. Uh-huh. Forget it. You can keep your stupid contract and stuff it where the sun doesn't shine. I don't even WANT to work at this darn store or with this company. I'm only still here because I haven't been successful finding something else with comparable hours and wages.

Look at all the replies on this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer!
They all blame the union workers, every last one of them, just like stupid SEPTA and their dumb strike. Do they think I WANT to go on strike? Do they think I WANT to not work? If one of them can suggest a nice little office that needs full-time help, preferably one with creative connections like an art school or a library or an archive, I'm all ears!

Especially after today. Work was pure hell. It was busy all day, thanks to today being Veteran's Day and many people having today off. But people were rude and obnoxious again. One of my very first customers was another one of those darn chop shop people trying to clear out our sales so he can illegally sell cereal.

I was stressed and going crazy all day and in tears by the time I rode home. Mother Nature was no help. It sprinkled lightly on my way to work and lightly showered going home. It never rained heavily, but it was still gloomy. I did manage to pick up the 35 dollars Miss Ellie owed me for raking after I got home. Apparently, the dental office where she works was open and busy, too. I guess a lot of people who had today off decided to use today for their check-up.

Spent the rest of the evening indoors. I experimented with a recipe for Tea Cookies in one of my British baking books. I love Red Velvet Cake, but I wanted to refill my cookie jar and have something a bit less rich. I cut the butter down to 1/2 stick, added applesauce to make up for the lost moisture, and threw in 1/2 cup cocoa, 1 tsp red food coloring, and 3 tablespoons buttermilk to make Red Velvet Cookies. They came out pretty well, soft and chocolate-y.

Cheered myself up with the sweet Irish musical Once while I baked and ate a simple dinner of seared beef chuck steak, fresh escarole, and applesauce. A young Irish street performer and a Russian house cleaner enter a tentative romance when they spend a week making a CD of his songs with some friends. That's all there is to it, but it's charming and fun to watch. (Even though I couldn't understand all the dialogue - and I had a harder time with his thick Gallic brogue than her soft Eastern European tones.) One of the sweetest movies I've ever seen, and worth digging around for if you're looking for a quiet, unusual musical or for a different kind of romance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Finished the raking this morning. I wanted to get the whole yard done before it rains tomorrow (at least, that's what they're calling for right now). It's a lot easier to rake when the leaves are dry. I picked the right time, too. I got out around 9:30, and by quarter of 11, Oaklyn's leaf collectors were picking up most of our leaves from the curb. The remaining leaves from the small pocket of land next to Miss Ellie's car and the path leading to my apartment went in the tree-strewn backyard.

I did get the yard done, but it wiped me out. Didn't help my bad knee, either. I went inside feeling tired and sore. I had a quick turkey sandwich lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon resting my knee and making a list of notes for our Monkees role-play stories for Lauren.

Work was fine until the last 20 minutes or so. Two men came through my line with carts full of sales items and hundreds of coupons for them. Everyone in the store knows these people buy these items for pennies, then sells them illegally to chop shops in Camden and Philadelphia. The manager on duty let the first man pass, but I put my foot down on the second and told him he could only get six of each item, which is the rules. Then, when the computer wouldn't let his six 5 and 10 dollar coupons through, the manager couldn't let it pass. The head manager said he could, and all the managers ended up in a bit of a row, even as I finished my shift, bought eggs, and left.

The head manager said he was glad to see me get so passionate about something. Well, thanks, but I was just mad. I don't enjoy aiding what amounts to criminal activity. These people need to start buying the things they need for their stores from warehouses like normal people or not be in business. They hold up the line with those endless coupons and forget that other people who aren't going to be selling things might want to buy some sales items, too.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Good, Solid Work

Started the morning off with the usual laundry. Dad was around. He said he'd seen Rose and Craig last weekend. Both are fine and very happy about their upcoming baby. He went out to rake his yard as I did the same.

The leaves in the front yard had gotten really bad again. I think they're even worse than last year. The acorns were still fairly bad, too. I raked the first "layer" of just leaves this morning and put it at the curb for the city leaf collectors. It was a warm, partly cloudy morning, probably in the lower 70s. It felt good to help my landlady out and do some good, real work for a change, instead of just pushing things around registers.

I picked up the laundry and brought it home around quarter of 1. Had a quick lunch of home-made Rye-Whole Wheat Bread spread with peanut butter and an apple, then rode to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session.

There were lots of DVDs to return today. The children's DVDs in particular were a mess. There were ones turned around, on the wrong shelf, and the were PG titles mixed in again. (Allow me to repeat - just because a movie is animated or looks like it's for kids, doesn't mean it IS for little kids.) I returned the DVDs, then looked for my own. I took out the next Nora Blackbird novel, Have Your Cake and Kill Him Too, a Miami-set mystery novel about a Cuban American female private investigator, A Miracle In Paradise, another book on job hunting, and three DVDs, Ragtime, The Graduate, and the Irish musical Once.

Made a very brief stop at Dollar General next to the Westmont Acme for ground ginger, then headed home the long way across Newton River Park. It was about 4:30 by then, and the park was filled with dog walkers, old people going for a stroll, kids just out of school, and high schoolers jogging together. I dodged so many people, I decided to leave the park about half-way through and ride the sides streets in Oaklyn the rest of the way home.

I finished the first half of the yard after I got in. I'd left piles of acorns that the leaf collectors wouldn't take after I'd gotten up the initial leaves. Also helped Miss Ellie take out her recycling (they pick it up on Tuesdays here) and finally remembered to take out my own.

Put on Ragtime as I made salmon with mushrooms and leeks cooked in home-made chicken stock and steamed broccoli for dinner and a "chocolate chip pie" (chocolate chip bar batter in a pie pan) for dessert. Ragtime is based after the novel by EL Doctorow that weaves the lives of real and fictional people in early 20th century New York and Atlantic City. A white-middle class family, a black family, and a Jewish immigrant family's lives intersect when a black maid leaves her baby in the white family's garden. The arrival of the baby's father, a well-spoken piano player in a dapper new car, sets off a chain of events that ends in a stand-off at the Morgan Library in New York.

I fondly remember my mother, who loved this era in history and is a big fan of Mary Steenbergen, talking about this movie and the book during my early childhood. No wonder she loved it so much. This is a really excellent film, well-made and cast by Milos Forman, who would go on to make the equally excellent Amadeus a few years later. Special kudos to Howard Rollins (who would later appear as a black actor in a Remember WENN episode) as the dignified and yet passionate Coalhouse Walker Jr, James Cagney showing what made him a legend in his last role as the New York Chief of Police, and Elizabeth McGovern as ditzy, dizzy Evelyn Nesbitt.

And even as the transit strike in Philadelphia ends, I received what sounded like an automated phone call from the Acme's union that said they were in major talks tomorrow and may be signing the authorization to strike. They'd better not. First of all, I don't think a second strike after we just got through one that everyone hated would be well-received. A recession is a bad time for anyone to be risking their jobs. Second, I'm terrified of the idea of striking. I'm not a hippie from the 60s. I couldn't pick up a placard and march and chant with everyone else. I just couldn't. There's no way in the world I could.

I heard from Linda Young tonight, too. She and her husband James are visiting from Georgia, and I'm hoping to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, among other things, with them on Thursday.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

There's Gotta Be Somethin' Better Than This

It was an unusually sunny day in the Philadelphia area, warm for this time of the year, in the mid-60s. I read the Blackbird Sisters in bed for a while, then made Sweet Potato-Ginger Pancakes. Put on Brunch With the Beatles while the pancakes cooked. (The album Rubber Soul was the theme today.) Tried to get a hold of Mom. Finally left a message and said I'd call back after I got home from work.

Work was really busy today. We had to call a lot of people up front because we just didn't have enough help to handle the long lines. Thankfully, other than that and my relief was late, things weren't too

I'm really tired of coming home stressed as heck. I can't help the price of food, how old you are, or if your city is falling apart or won't provide public transportation. Please don't take it out on us. My week was a pain in the rear end.

Came home, finished Victor/Victoria, and made a casserole from various odds and ends in the refrigerator, including a small can of tomato puree, the last chicken breast, the last of the cranberry beans (they were starting to smell funny), and the last of the fajita tortillas.

I didn't get a hold of Mom until I was online and listening to The Dress Circle's theme of the night, "An All-Star Sweet Charity." Other than Michael's had been just as busy as the Acme this week, she was fine. The Giants had just lost to the San Diego Chargers by one point, and she has high hopes for the Eagles game against the Cowboys at home tonight.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Chill In the Air

Despite claims it was supposed to get warmer today, it was still pretty cold when I finally got out of bed this morning. I managed to get my (late) rent together and get it to Miss Ellie before heading to work. At least it remains sunny and cloudless, and the wind's gone, too. I even stopped at a yard sale on the way and bought two Beanie Bears for the holidays. Wallace is greenish-blue and wears a plaid scarf. "The Beginning," who is white with glittering silver stars, was made to celebrate the turn of the millennium. I'll use her for New Year's and call her Ginny.

Work was a pain, but less because of the customers and more because I'm just not thinking. I thought a turkey wasn't labeled correctly when it was. I tried to ring them up last week and they didn't, but now they're ringing up right. I made such a fool of myself. Even called the meat department in, because I thought they were wrong. Of course I'm wrong. I'm never right.

Everyone says I'm too hard on myself. I'd be less hard on myself if I didn't do such foolish things all the time and embarrass myself. I feel like such a joke. How am I ever going to get a real job if I don't act professional? I was even late getting out because I thought someone was coming in for me, and of course, someone else was leaving at the same time.

Grocery shopping didn't go all that well, either. I spent more than I thought I would, but I wanted to stock up on bread and cake mixes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My brother is addicted to Pillsbury's Cinnamon Struesel Bread. I bring it to Thanksgiving every year, and he eats half of it (if not most of it). I also bought a 99 cent box of vanilla cake mix to make cupcakes for Dad and Miss Ellie next month. Needed fruits and vegetables, too - I was up too early for the farm market.

I was very glad to finally get home. I put everything away, then had a nice walk to the bank as the sun set. It was very pretty tonight, all read and purple and glowing against the bright blue sky. I was almost kind of disappointed when the sun went down.

Watched Victor/Victoria while eating tilapia with mozzarella and vegetables on a tortilla for dinner. I vaguely remember seeing this as a child, but I haven't run into it in years. Julie Andrews and Robert Preston star in this fun but kind of strange early 80s musical, about a gay man and a female singer in 1934 Paris who come up with a way to pass her off as a drag queen - a woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman. It works, and they're the toast of Paris...until she catches the eye of a Chicago mobster who sees through her disguise.

I didn't get it at all as a kid, other than seeing Mary Poppins run around in pinstripes. While it's no masterpiece (it goes on for too long, for one thing), it's fun, splashy show. Andrews has a marvelous time as the gender-bending Victoria. Robert Preston's having the time of his life as the gay entertainer who befriends her. James Gardner's not the first guy I'd think of appearing in a musical, but he works better than you might think as the gangster who suspects Victor isn't what he seems.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Good Bye to a True American Girl Pioneer...

American Girl is retiring Kirsten, one of the original American Girls, at the end of this year.

A) I hope that doesn't mean Molly and Emily will be next year. I'd love to at least buy Molly's Christmas dress.

B) Does this mean they'll be adding another American Girl, like they did with Rebecca this year, or is the collection just getting a little too crowded?
Golden Autumn

I awoke to an absolutely gorgeous fall morning. The sky was bright blue. The golden sun filtered through the falling yellow leaves on the trees over my porch. The air was cold and crisp and had that good woodburning smell.

I spent part of the morning doing job research. Not that I got far. I found one library assistant job for Voorhees (about a half-hour from here), but it also required handling the computer lab, which I've never done, and a handful of secretarial jobs.

The job hunting is just making me nervous as heck. First of all, I don't know if I can handle two jobs. I've never handled two jobs before. I don't have a car. Would I ever be able to find anyone who carpools? Would it be overwhelming?

I was really hoping to get out of the Acme all together. Is it possible? Can I do anything else, after 8 years of doing nothing but work at the Acme? If I can, why didn't the real estate office in Wildwood or the newspaper office in Atlantic County hire me years ago? If I can do all these things, why does no one want me to do them? How do you meet people when you're scared to death to talk to anyone you don't know well? Even just writing about anxiety is causing a knot to form in my stomach.

It was such a nice day, I went for a short walk in Veteran's Park next-door after lunch. The park looked stunning today, with it's green moss and gold and flame-colored trees. The views were amazing, with sun shining over bottle-green water and Crayola trees framing lovely homes and yards.

After that, I went to Doria's Deli for turkey lunchmeat (I used the last of it up on my lunch). When I got back, I thought I'd try to fix the chain on the cruiser bike myself, since none of my neighbors seemed to be around. It only took me about 20 minutes to turn the bike over and finally get it back on. It seems to be ok for now; it got me to work and back, anyway. We'll see what happens in the coming days. I may still try to get someone to tighten it a bit.

I left over an hour early for work. First of all, I wanted to check out the bike and make sure it ran fine (which it did). Second, I wanted plenty of time to pick up my paycheck and write down my schedule. Third, I wanted to check out FYE and Wal-Mart and see if they had the new special edition DVD for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Alas, neither of them did.

Work was, thankfully after the last week or so, not a problem. It was busy when I came in, dead when I left, with a few rude customers but nothing on the order of Wednesday or Sunday. I treated myself to a bag of mini pumpkin-shaped York Peppermint Patties that were half-off after work.

My schedule's pretty decent, too. Slightly fewer hours, otherwise, no really early days and nothing later than 8PM, Monday and Thursday off again, nothing too bad.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Troubled Balance

Since I had counseling today anyway, I began the morning with yoga class. I was hoping it would make me feel better, but even after crying into the teacher Karin's shoulder, it wasn't as big of a help as it usually is. I just couldn't concentrate, and it seemed like the other eight students in the class were all doing better. And I still can't do shoulder stands.

Grabbed water at WaWa quick after class, then headed to the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop on the next block over to say "hi" to Erica. As we chatted, a man arrived holding a large shoe box. Turns out the box was loaded with CDs he recently added to his computer that he wanted to donate. Now, I don't believe that you should put all your music in one place. What if the computer breaks down? Not to mention, downloading albums takes up a ton of space. I'd rather have that space for writing programs. I was more than happy to browse through the box and grab a few for myself.

Turns out the guy had really, really awesome taste. I eventually bought The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, The Beatles' Help! and Magical Mystery Tour, Matchbox Twenty's More Than You Think You Are, Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet, and the double-CD sets of Queen's Greatest Hits I&II and Pink Floyd's The Wall. Also bought three little porcelain bears that looked like the duo I bought for Thanksgiving and Halloween last week, only these guys were dolled up for Christmas. All together, the CDs and the bears came out to exactly $10. Cool.

Browsed in the Collingswood library for a while after leaving Friends In Deed. I had lunch at The Painted Cottage Cafe, a little deli/cafe across the street from the thrift shop that's best known for their Sunday brunch. I wasn't really that hungry. Just opted for bean and ham soup and a cinnamon-raisin bagel. The soup wasn't bad, but the bagel was $2.25, highway robbery for something I could get at the Acme for 65 cents. I enjoyed my soup and read the Trivial Pursuit cards in a box on the table before heading to counseling.

I told Scott about my tumultuous month, Rose's pregnancy, Halloween, and my lousy couple of days. We discussed my fear and anxiety about finding a job and how stressful the Acme job is getting for me. He basically said to continue looking into library jobs and make that a goal, to try to work around obstacles like the lack of transportation.

The day had started out sunny and gorgeous. Clouds had slowly begun to roll in around the time I was getting out of counseling. The wind was picking up, and it was getting colder. I had thought of going out to the Deptford Mall or for a bike ride today, but I no longer had the money, my mountain bike wasn't up to it (the gears are acting funny and the seat is broken), and the weather definitely wasn't with me. I made a short stop at a new organic vegetable store a block from Genesis (they didn't have much, but I bought two sweet potatoes from the friendly owner anyway) before heading home.

Spent the rest of the afternoon quietly at the apartment. I did the monthly budget. (I spent a lot on food last month, but just a little over on other items. Should be better this month.) I baked Pumpkin Oat Bread. I listened to Pet Sounds and the second Queen disc. I watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and this year's first out-and-out Christmas special, Muppet Family Christmas. Made a simple greens-peppers-and-cranberry bean salad and pan-fried sweet potatoes and turnips.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Losing My Mind

As usual, the day started out well. It was sunny and gorgeous this morning, a perfect-for-November-in-New Jersey upper 50s, cloudless with no wind. After breakfast, I browsed in the Oaklyn Library for a little while, then ran to WaWa for milk. Also treated myself to a fountain Coke Zero with cherry and vanilla syrup. Just hung around for a while when I got home. Had a simple lunch of light Acme blueberry yogurt, home-made rye-whole wheat bread with farm market apple butter, and a banana.

I really, really wish I'd stayed home. Work was nothing but a pain in the rear end all day long. The lines were ridiculously long for a Wednesday, and we just didn't have enough people to handle them. People were cranky. People were obnoxious.

An older woman had a ripped bag of spice drops, so I went back to see if I could find her one, despite the line. All the baggers were rounding up carts. Maybe it did take me longer to come back than it should have, but the candies turned out to be part of a 10 for $10 sale, and the entire rack was almost bare! I thankfully talked the old woman into taking similar fruit gumdrops instead...but the two women behind her rudely and in earshot of me complained about how slow I'd been and why didn't I hurry up and oh, didn't she take forever? Hello, I CAN hear you! It didn't slow down until about a half-hour before I left at 7.

And of course, the chain on my bike falls off half-way through the ride home for no good reason. It hasn't been a problem in months! I ended up walking home in frustrated, angry tears.

I'm almost glad it clouded over sometime during work. I'm so frustrated and fed up and depressed and angry and lonely.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

You're Not Elected In New Jersey, Charlie Brown

I was very grateful to awaken to a sunny, cool Election Day. It was the perfect fall day, and a great day to dust the apartment. I started right after breakfast at quarter of 11, and after several distractions, finished around 1:30. Also finished up the new Maisie Dobbs book, Among the Mad, which I really enjoyed. I love Maisie. She's such a full-bodied and real character.

Ran several Election Day-themed cartoons and TV show episodes as I cleaned, including You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown and a hilarious Tiny Toon Adventures episode centering around spoiled rich kid Montana Max, "Citizen Max." (Guess which famous Orson Welles movie THAT'S spoofing.) After the episodes finished, I switched to music. Put on my book and record for the Election-themed One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band and a two-disc Reader's Digest selection of patriotic music like "American Patrol" and "God Bless America" compiled for the big 100th anniversary of The Statue of Liberty in 1986. I listen to that for most patriotic holidays, like the 4th of July.

Went for a walk after I finished the last of the tuna casserole for lunch. It wasn't a very long walk, just down to Kendall Boulevard and around to West Clinton Avenue, but it was very nice. Today was windy and sunny, and it felt like fall, with leaves tumbling around me like golden rain. Many kids were out riding bikes or playing. (A lot of kids have off this week for the New Jersey Teacher's Convention.)

When I got home, I did the dishes, changed into my work clothes, threw together dinner, and headed out to the Acme. Work was busy tonight, though not nearly as bad as over the weekend. There were lots of huge orders, some of them numbering into the $500s. A lot of people who otherwise won't be doing much shopping this month must be getting ready for the holidays.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Wonderful Thing About Fall

Began the morning of my first day off in exactly a week with a morning laundry run. I was up earlier than I expected, which turned out to be a good thing. I had a lot of things I wanted to do today, including empty a full laundry basket (more full than usual, thanks to bathroom towels and dust cloths).

Since the laundry was going to be in the dryer for a while, I decided to get some errands and chores done. My first stop was the bank. It wasn't a bad day for a walk, either. On-and-off cloudy, windy, chillier than over the weekend but not bad for this time of year. After the bank, I combated the return of the cold with a hot chocolate from a busy WaWa.

I went straight home from WaWa. Ran a few chores around the house. I swept the porch, which desperately needed it. The trees around my apartment are now turning their usual November shade of brilliant gold and are falling at a tremendous rate. It's been so wet lately, I've been trying to keep the porch swept just so it can dry faster.

After I finished with the sweeping, I went back inside for indoor chores. The big one was taking down the Halloween decorations and putting up what little I have for Thanksgiving. Most of my Thanksgiving knick-knacks are paper hangings bought from dollar stores (and one set from the Acme), but they do make things look festive for my second-favorite holiday after Christmas. I will add, however, that I'm almost kind of sad to see Halloween go this year. I'm not really crazy about Halloween, but I did have a nice time on Saturday. It was certainly better than all the lunacy with that Phillies parade last year.

(Which they may not repeat if they don't get their rear-ends in gear against the Yanks tonight...)

I returned to Dad's to retrieve my laundry, then came home for lunch and to put everything away. Headed right back out again after lunch for this week's Haddon Township Library volunteering session.

There were stacks and stacks of DVDs to put away this week...and it took a lot longer than usual. Someone had rearranged the adult DVDs. M through O had been moved to the back racks behind what was now A through L. It took me a while to figure everything out. The non-fiction DVDs had been moved and rearranged, too. It took me even longer to figure out where those went.

I returned books today and took out books and DVDs. The books were another book on job hunting, a book of tips for bread bakers, and two mysteries, the third Blackbird Sisters novel Cross My Heart and Hope to Die, and one I'd never heard of before, a novel about an interior decorator, A Job To Die For.

I also rented three DVDs - The Tigger Movie, the 1948 Frank Sinatra vehicle The Kissing Bandit, and the 1982 Julie Andrews musical Victor/Victoria. I have vague memories of seeing Victor/Victoria as a child, but have only seen bits and pieces of Kissing Bandit, including the memorable "Dance of Fury" with Ricardo Mantalbahn, Cyd Charrisse, and Ann Miller.

Made two quick stops on the way home. The first was at JoAnn's Fabrics. I wasn't going to stop there, but I saw these really cute little felt scarecrows on bells in 70% off bins outside. I had to get one. (It's now hanging on the door to the bathroom.)

The other stop was Super Fresh for cake flour. The pumpkin chocolate chip loaf cake I made the other day used up the last of my cake flour. I also bought a marble cake mix that was on sale for a dollar (I use cake mixes to make large cakes for family get-togethers) and a package of Chocolate "Mousse" Peeps, ie, cocoa-flavored Peeps shaped like reindeer, complete with red noses. They were really good, very chocolatey.

(I was also very happy to see the return of two of my favorite Christmas candies, both of them relatively low in fat in small quantities. Barely a holiday has passed for the last decade that hasn't included a bowl of Candy Cane Tootsie Pops. They're what the package says - Tootsie Pops that replace the usual chocolate or fruit candy with stripped peppermint candy. They're the only Tootsie Pops I'll eat now. The Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses debuted two years ago, and I've made sure to buy them ever since. They're crushed candy canes in Hershey's Kisses, and they are soo good.)

Went straight home after that. I sat down with home-popped popcorn and watched The Tigger Movie. The first of three Disney Pooh films released theatrically between 2000 and 2003, I was very impressed. Tigger is upset when the rest of the 100 Acres Woods gang doesn't want to go bouncing with him, so he sets out to find others like him who will want to bounce all the time. Adoring Roo tries to help, but his efforts only make things worse. It takes a major snow storm and words of wisdom from his friends to remind Tigger that family is wherever we are...and even when they aren't exactly like us, they're still there for us.

Who knew that perpetually cheerful Tigger could be the center of such a heartbreaking tale? This is one of the sweetest things I've ever seen done for the Disney Pooh. Other than the big action finale with the raging avalanche seemed a mite out-of-place for the low-key 100 Acre Woods, this was a fine addition to the Pooh universe. Nice Sherman Brothers songs, too, probably their first Disney film in decades.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

If Ya Got Trouble

Started off a cloudy but much cooler morning with breakfast and Breakfast With the Beatles. Today's theme was "Unused Songs and Alternate Versions," or Past Masters. I added pumpkin puree and brown sugar to Alton Brown's Whole Wheat Pancakes recipe from his baking book and made divine Pumpkin Pancakes. Spread with farm market apple butter and topped with real Vermont Country Store maple syrup, they were the yummiest pancakes I've made in a long time. I felt so cozy, sipping jasmine green tea and eating my pancakes while the Beatles played in the background.

I wish work was that cozy. It was just as loony as yesterday, with more than half the registers open. It was insane even after the Eagles/Giants started at 1. I was tired from a long work week and overwhelmed by the long lines, especially in express, and fed up with obnoxious beginning of the month customers.

People were a real pain today. One woman sent us chasing after a bag of shrimp that was on sale...and then decided she wanted the first bag anyway, coupon or no coupon. A couple had to return a quarter of their order when they realized they'd shoved way more into their basket than they could afford. People fussed about prices without reading them first. They tried to return items and weren't happy when I told them only customer service can do item returns.

And then I had to stand in long lines after work with the three things I'd forgotten yesterday. I needed buttermilk, Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend, and popcorn kernels. The lines for every register were still so busy, I ended up at self-checkout...and even that took five minutes. It rained going to work, but by the time I was on my way out, the sky was blue and the sun was setting in brilliant shades of gold and purple.

Needless to say, I was very happy to get home. I tried to call Mom earlier, but I couldn't get a hold of her until this evening. Mom was tired but happy. She'd worked all week herself. She and Keefe had just finished watching the aforementioned Eagles game. The Eagles kicked the Giants' rear ends, 40-17. She'd spent the morning chatting with her sister Terri, who lives in Virginia. Aunt Terri's a bit of a chatterbox and always makes long calls, which is why I got a busy signal twice when I called her this morning.

Their Halloween apparently went well. My nephews went out for an hour in North Cape May with their mother and Mike and got tons of candy. Mom and Keefe gave out candy in Erma and got 20 kids, more than they did last year and about what I got at Dad's yesterday.

My sister Rose is fine, too. She and her boyfriend Craig got her first sonogram yesterday and got to see their child developing. They're really excited about this baby. They sound so cute. They're going to be wonderful parents.
And Don't Forget...

...To turn your clocks back for Daylight Savings, folks!