Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bear-ing the Heat

The storm last night didn't do a darn thing to change the weather. It was as hazy, humid, and hot as ever when I finally got out of bed and turned on the last half-hour of the American Top 40 this morning. The summer of 1980 brought many changes in the music industry as disco began to lose its hold on the public. Hits from this week included "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc, "Little Jeanie" by Elton John, "It's Still Rock n' Roll to Me" by Billy Joel, the moving title ballad from the Bette Midler musical drama The Rose, and one of my favorite Bob Seeger songs, "Against the Wind."

The number one song of that week,  however, came from a long-time favorite. Paul McCartney and Wings had one of the biggest live hits of their careers, "Coming Up."

Between the heat and working at 2PM, I kept the Saturday errand run quick and fairly simple today. My stop at the bank took longer than I figured. There was an unusually long line when I arrived. Seemed an older man who loved to chat had gotten so caught up talking, he forgot there were other people who wanted to use the tellers before they closed, too! Thankfully, I came in as he was leaving, and the line moved pretty quickly.

I had an easier time at the Farm Market. Despite it being quarter of 11 by the time I arrived and still very hot, the crowds were as thick as ever. It's the beginning of the month, the Fourth of July is this week, and a lot of people may still be having graduation parties, too. The plums and snap peas were gone, but peaches, eggplants, fresh herbs, and green beans have made their debuts. I ended up with peaches, cherries, a creamy white eggplant (smaller than the plump deep purple ones), zucchini, and cucumbers, yellow squash, and a small bag of parsley from the organic booth.

I stopped by one yard sale in Collingswood today on my way home...and it turned out to be a dilly. They were selling plastic bins filled with stuffed animals of all varieties...especially bears! I just cleared out a lot of dressed collectible bears, though, and I didn't really want to add more. I ended up with one big, handsome fellow on all fours I named Big Boy and a pair of small flocked hard-plastic bears in country costumes I recognized as the Mama and Papa Bear of the Sylvanian Families/Maple Town/Calico Critters small-animals-in-outfits sets. I think they're cute, but haven't bought them because they're overpriced in stores. Not here! I got all three for 3.00, and I think that was mainly for the big bear.

It was only 11:40 when I got home. Spent the rest of the afternoon working on things online and watching the Backyardigans. I had leftovers for lunch, changed into my uniform, packed dinner and a snack, and headed out to work around 1:40.

Work was incredibly busy for the first half the night. We had plenty of help, for once - it was just really busy! And it didn't help that there were a lot of cranky people who'd been out in the heat. Not to mention, it's the beginning of the month, with all the chaos that implies.

Thankfully, the worst of the day waited until around 8:30, well after the crowds had subsided. Two young women, probably college students, wanted to split their orders. Trouble was, first of all, one didn't realize she couldn't get money back on a split order. The other girl could not find her credit card, no matter how much she looked. I had to shut down while they went to their car to find it. They never did dig it up; they had to take items off their order so they could play it. If I've said it once, I've said it too many times - always bring two methods of payment when you're out shopping! Paper money can run out; cards can be lost; checks don't always go through.

Otherwise, the rest of the night went fine. I put away the things the girls didn't want, then spent a half-hour doing candy.

Oh, and I'm thrilled that Andrew, my new landlord, corralled his brother-in-law into helping him clean up the front yard and Miss Ellie's garden. The garden's been weeded. The front yard has finally been mowed; it was starting to look like the Amazon! The trees and bushes have been trimmed. The gutters have been cleared out. I don't envy them doing all that in this heat, but the yard does look a lot better.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot Days Ahead

It was already like a sauna when I headed to Lucile Roberts around 11 for my first gym trip in ages. The sun was beating on the dry grass, the sky was hazy blue, and no amount of wind could cut through the warmth. I was sweating already when I locked my bike against a stop sign across from the building.

Good thing Lucile Roberts was practically freezing. They had the AC going full blast and the fans on. Surprisingly, the place was dead the entire time I was there. You'd think a chilly gym would be a popular place on a sweltering day, but there were only two other people working out on the cardio machines while I did the stationary bike and watched The Price Is Right. I had the leg weight machines completely to myself.

Went to the Acme after my workout to pick up my (much needed) paycheck and do my grocery shopping. This time, I really did have a short list. The crab salad used up the last of my plain yogurt, and I had the last of the skim milk with my oatmeal for breakfast. I'm about out of wraps, too. Grabbed some more of those Newtons' Thins, this time in Lemon Crisp flavor. The sale wasn't as good as the one at Wegman's last week, but I really do love those. I was also out of brown sugar, and they were having a really good sale on Arrid Deodorant.

I went home and ran the musical Flying Down to Rio while putting everything away and having leftovers for lunch. Though usually found with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sets, this was their first movie, and they're once again second bananas, this time the conductor and lead singer respectively for an orchestra who are taking their act to the title Brazillian city. Their pilot manager (Gene Raymond) is in love with a fiery Latin woman (Dolores Del Rio), but she already has a finacee (Raul Roulien). When their back arruptly pulls out of their big show, Raymond finds a way for it to go the air!

Ok, so this one is a little weird. At the very least, it's something different from the other backstage semi-revues being made in 1933. For all of Astaire and Rogers' low billing, they get quite a few good numbers. Rogers sings "Music Makes Me" in a sheer gown that definitely marks this as a Pre-Code movie; Astaire does a nice solo tap routine to an instrumental version later.

This movie is best known today for two numbers that are emblematic of this musical era. The first, "The Carioca," gave Ginger and Fred a duet that introduced them as a major force in film dance. The second, the finale title number, put show girls on plane wings for death-defying stunts...literally, at one point when a girl seems to fall.

Work was busy for most of the afternoon with people trying to escape the heat and the usual beginning  of the month crowd. Other than some annoying people, there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

I'm not crazy with my schedule next week. While I have slightly fewer hours (and they're more spread out), not only do I have to work on the 4th of July, but I don't have off again until next Saturday! Why, oh why can't I have a regular, dependable schedule? I hate this back-and-forth business.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Balance and the Libraries

Since I was in Atlantic City all day yesterday, I spent today doing my library volunteering. Started a hot and hazy (but surprisingly dry) morning at the Oaklyn Library. They've done more rearranging in there. The adult DVD titles now span both sides of the DVD shelves. The kids' DVDs were moved to the shelf in the children's area where the Easy Readers were. The Easy Readers were moved to two shelves near the young adult series titles. None of the DVDs were in bad shape; I mostly worked on kids' books. Also found two interesting hardback books on the sale shelves, the original The Snowman and The Hollywood Story, the latter a coffee-table book on the "Golden Age of Hollywood" and the studios who more-or-less ran it. It doesn't really say much that I don't already know, but the photographs are spectacular.

I went home to have a peanut butter and blueberry butter wrap, a green salad, and the last of the macaroni and ham salad from my parents' house last week for lunch. When I finished, I rounded the books and DVDs that needed to go back and headed to the Haddon Township Library. Newton River Park was fairly quiet, perhaps because it soared into the upper 80s today - very warm, humidity or no humidity. There were a few kids playing in the shaded playground area with their folks. Otherwise, I didn't even see a goose.

The Haddon Township Library was much busier with people escaping the heat. In fact, I only got to the DVDs and a fraction of the big pile of kids' books today. I ended up taking out three movies - Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds, the goofy version of The Three Musketeers that came out last year, and more Abbott and Costello, this time the classic Meets Frankenstein. Also took out a book on the history of American Film Comedy, from the silent comics to the recent nutty man-children.

My next stop was the Collingswood Library; went straight there from Westmont. There was far less to do there. They, too, had reorganized their children's DVD shelves. They now span both sides of the shelf, taking over the shelves under the Wii titles that used to hold CDs. I did some DVD filing and organizing, but there wasn't much else and nothing to do upstairs. I mostly just read books on old Hollywood until it was time to head out for yoga.

Yoga class was very small today, just two other pupils besides me and the teacher, Scott (subbing for Lee). Between the heat and the very small basic class, no one was in the mood for over-exertion. We just worked on some simple standing poses.

I went straight home after class. I made crab salad with part of one of the two containers of fresh crabmeat Dad gave me last week and the last of the farm market scallions and cucumbers for dinner. Also sauteed some mushrooms and zucchini and boiled one of the ears of corn on the cob I got last week. It was all tasty as could be. I hope the Jersey corn stays this sweet all summer. It practically melted in my mouth.

Ran Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein during dinner. Bud and Lou find themselves dealing with half the monsters on the Universal lot when they're delivery men who find themselves bringing special crates to a horror-themed display...containing the remains of Dracula and Frankenstein. Turns out these two aren't as dead as everyone thought. Dracula (Bela Lugosi) thinks Lou's brain would be perfect for the monster (Glenn Strange), and hypnotizes several ladies - and Lou himself - in order to get it. Meanwhile, their friend (Lon Chaney Jr) keeps turning into the Wolf Man during a full moon while trying to retrieve the monsters' crates and destroy them.

This was the first in a long line of Abbott and Costello Meet... horror spoofs that ended with Meet the Mummy in the 50s. If you're a fan of these two or horror comedy, by all means, this is the one to go to. It's still a lot of fun, even if some of the participants (including Lou) didn't think much of it while it was in production. Check out Lou's reaction when he lands in Frankenstein's lap!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Let's Run Away to Atlantic City

After two long work days in a row, that's all I wanted to do. It was a gorgeous day for it, too. The air was warmer than yesterday, but there was a strong wind that kept things cool and no humidity. It was bright and sunny, with a brilliant, hurts-to-look-at-it blue sky. The Acme actually tried to call me in; I just ignored the phone. After spending most of the last two days there, I had no desire to let this one go. I need these two days off.

I ran into some trouble in Lindenwauld. I got there at 10AM...but there wasn't another train to AC until 12! I strolled around the area, checking out a Walgreens on the corner near the bus/train terminal, and spent an hour reading Assignment: Ceylon. Both the PATCO and NJ Transit trains were pretty busy, but I did manage to find a seat with no trouble. Everything was on time. The train rolled into AC by 1PM.

My first stop of the day was The Walk, the outlet stores along the streets near the Atlantic City Expressway. It was incredibly busy for middle of the week. The traffic was horrible; it took forever just to cross from one line of stores to the other. There was some kind of bridal trade show going on at the outdoor patios where H&M and Starbucks are; not a good thing, since I needed lunch and to hit the bathroom. Thankfully, it didn't take as long to get my tasty Tomato, Basil, Mozerella and Chicken Panini from the crepe cafe, but I did have to wait in line for the bathroom at Starbucks.

After that, I spent the next couple of hours shopping the outlets. I couldn't buy a lot; I don't have a lot of money on me right now. I limited to what I really wanted and needed. The "wanted" was covered by the Meridia toddler doll I picked up at the Disney Store.  She has crinkly, curly red hair and the cutest little smirk that says "I'm going to get into trouble the moment Mummy's back is turned." I really, really want to see the new Pixar movie Brave anyway. I was originally going to get Belle as my third and last Animator's Collection doll, but then I saw this unique sweetie and couldn't resist her. (I also picked up a really nifty Muppets-themed tote bag to haul her around in. It even has an outside pocket.)

The needed was a new pair of shorts and some really neat sunglasses with white, red, and orange floral frames from Layne Bryant. The sunglasses were 50 percent off. The shorts, a pair of orange, red, and white plaid Bermudas that'll match my new Fashion Bug t-shirts nicely, were 30 percent. I was going to get another pair of jean shorts, but while I did see a pair I liked, I decided to try something different.

(I explored other stores as well. I browsed in Toys 'R Us, hoping to find clothes for the Animator's Collection dolls. I wanted to find new sneakers for work, but neither Adidas nor Puma nor Converse really had what I was looking for.)

It would be criminal to not take some time on the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, especially on such a nice day. I didn't go in any of the casinos, but I did have a nice stroll. I bought an Atlantic City t-shirt and my favorite candy, fruit slices, from the wonderfully cheap and grungy Peanut World gift shop near Bally's Casino. I put a dollar into a crane game, hoping to win a huge Smurf doll. Nope, no luck. I bought a mango slush at one of the numerous small ice cream/pizza booths.

I hurried back to the Train Terminal in front of the Convention Center with just enough time to buy tickets and jump on the 4:42 to Lindenwauld. Once again, everything went just fine. Both of the trains were right on time, and other than some obnoxiously noisy teens and college students chattering in the back of the PATCO car, there were no problems.

I pulled my bike in around quarter after 6. I started taking Meridia out in the train, but she had too many heavy wires holding her in to do it completely there. I finished the job at home. When a happy-to-be-out Meridia was sitting with her Animator's Collection "sisters" Cinderella and Tiana, I finished up the shrimp for dinner and had macaroni salad and fresh farm market cucumbers and lettuce. After that, I hopped in a much-needed shower and went online.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Woman at Work

It was wonderfully cool when I awoke this morning. It was so cool in my apartment, I was shivering under my thin quilt and sheet! I wrote in my journal and quickly changed. Since it went so well yesterday, I once again ran a Disney movie while eating breakfast. This time, I went with the far better-known Cinderella.

This is pretty much your standard version of one of the world's most famous fairy tales. The fairy godmother is a pleasantly plump old woman who has memory lapses but knows what she's doing; the helpful servants from some versions are replaced by comic-relief mice and cats. Cindy herself falls somewhere between Snow White and Belle on the memorable scale. She's on the passive side, but she's no innocent dope, either. Some of her facial expressions, especially when dealing with her stepsisters or the fairy godmother's forgetfulness, are hilarious - you don't often meet Cinderellas who have deadpan snarking down pretty well. The animation's gorgeous; check out those sumptuous backgrounds, the mice making Cinderella's dress, or the transformation sequence. The music is quite lovely too, including the ballads "So This Is Love" and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and the Oscar-nominated comic ditty for the Godmother, "Bibbiti Bobbiti Boo."

It was another long day at work, though not quite as long as yesterday...but it felt twice as long because we were dead for most of the day. It didn't really pick up until the 4PM-6PM rush hour. It's nearly the beginning of the month, and we had some annoying customers, too. At one point, a father brought his upset 4ish daughter and 6ish son to my register. He was scolding the little girl angrily because she was crying and wanted to go home; apparently, she hadn't taken a nap when she should have. The little boy was the only one being calm about the whole thing. He barely waited for me to give him his bag before taking off. And then, of course, my relief was late, and I had to shut down and leave one person at the register to avoid being late myself.

I hurried home the moment I finished, changed into regular clothes, grabbed my laundry items and a book, and rode to the laundromat. It was quarter of 6 by the time I got there; dinner time for most people. The laundromat was busy when I arrived. By the time the second episode of Three and a Half Men was running and my small load of laundry was out of the drier, there were only two people left, and one was the manager.

When I got in, I had the last lobster tail and hot dogs, macaroni salad, and steamed peas while finally dubbing Robin and the 7 Hoods. Tomorrow, I'm hoping to hit Atlantic City for a stroll in the Outlet Walk. I tried to get there a few weeks ago, but the weather got too bad. I want to get there before the heat wave returns.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Working Girl

Started the morning with Life Cereal, blueberries, cherries, and Recess: School's Out. This theatrical follow-up to the popular Disney TV cartoon opens as TJ Detweiller and his misfit friends are getting ready to head out of Third Street School for their summer vacation. TJ's disappointed when the others end up going to summer camp, and he's left alone for what he assumes will be a boring couple of months. Summer proves to be far from boring when TJ discovers what appears to be a glowing light in the cafeteria window, and their principal, Mr. Prickley, vanishes investigating it. It'll take all the smarts and cleverness of the kids of the Third Street School to save summer vacation for everyone!

I always kick off my summer with this action-packed ode to time off. It's a lesser Disney gem; worth looking for, even if you've never seen Recess. Extra points for the nifty 60s-70s soundtrack that includes "Dancing In the Street" and Robert Goulet singing "Green Tambourine" over the end credits.

I spent the rest of the day at work. This was my 8 1/2 hour shift day, was boring as heck. It did pick up during the 4PM-6PM rush hour, but otherwise, I stood around a lot. The worst that happened was a guy yelled at the head front end manager over the darn Giveaway tickets; roughly translated, he didn't like them because he complained that the IRS gets most of the money. Whatever. People can be really weird sometimes. It had slowed down enough by 7:30 for me to get out a few minutes early without a relief.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Shorts Story

It was 8:30 when I originally picked my head off of my soft pillows. I was up with Lauren until past 3:30 last night, so I put my head back on the pillows, closed my eyes, and went back to sleep. It was over two hours later when I finally opened my eyes again. It was a hot, sunny day, hotter than yesterday but still not humid. It still wasn't bad in my apartment, either.

I pre-empted the Beatles today to finish 4 for Texas, which I did while eating Blueberry-Lemon Pancakes for brunch-lunch. The four in question are Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and European bombshells Anita Ekberg and Ursula Andress. Martin and Sinatra are rival businessmen and gamblers in 1870s Galveston, Texas. Ekberg is Sinatra's lady, the head of the local bordello. Andress owns the dilapidated riverboat Martin buys and repairs with hot money. Sinatra is determined to make sure Martin's riverboat isn't a success, despite the fact that he actually likes the guy. Victor Buono is the sniveling mayor in Sinatra's pay; a young Charles Bronsonan is a heartless gunslinger determined to take out the entire crowd.

Not great, not bad. Fun for what it is. One of the last films to feature Martin and Sinatra together; they do seem to be enjoying themselves, even without the rest of the Rat Pack. The ladies are also in pretty good form, especially Andress as the riverboat owner. The story doesn't make a lot of sense, but it has some nice set pieces, including the brawl on the riverboat dock in the finale. In addition to Buono and Bronsonan, the Three Stooges (Sinatra was apparently a fan) pop up towards the end with a short but pretty cute routine with Martin and Andress.

I talked to Mom while the movie was ending. Her week after our visit had been relatively quiet. It apparently consisted of cleaning up after a very big party - putting food away or giving it away, taking down the tent, returning rented items, clearing things from the backyard. Keefe spent a lot of the time with his girl Vicki. He's going back to Charleston early tomorrow morning. I'm going to miss him. He's such a sweetheart, and Vicki and his friends are good kids, too.

I went for a walk after I finished 4 for Texas and my chat with Mom. The breeze remained, but it was a bit warmer than yesterday. I was sweating as I strolled down to Goff Avenue to admire the view. The sky was a bit hazy, but not as bad as last week; I could see the Ben Franklin Bridge clear as day from the boat launch.

Went down to the White Horse Pike to Dunkin' Donuts for a treat. I rarely get anything from there. I don't like their prices, for one thing. For another, I'm not a big fan of donuts - they're too sweet for me. High prices or not, I was surprised at the crowd there when I went in to buy a Vanilla Coolatta. Mostly older and middle-aged people sat and chatted at tables while sipping coffee and eating sandwiches. I just grabbed my Coolatta and left. The Coolattas are thicker variations on Icees and Slurpees - crushed ice drinks. They're really fancy smoothies and milkshakes, and they're also a bit too sweet, but I do buy one on occasion for the heck of it.

It was a nice day for a walk. The Oaklyn Swim Club pool opened last week; there was a pretty decent crowd of kids diving in and splashing each other. The flowers are rich and beautiful, in shades of vibrant crimson, soft lavender, deep violet, sunset orange, and velvety maroon. The trees bend over with fat green leaves. The grass is a bit crunchy, due to a fair lack of rain in the last few weeks, turning crackly shades of tan and brown.

As you can guess from all the shorts I've watched, Lauren has had a Three Stooges thing going on lately...and I've been taking another look at the fellas, too. With that in mind, I spent the rest of the afternoon watching a documentary on the Laurel and Hardy DVD set I picked up in Philadelphia last year. Added Attractions: The Short Subjects Story is an overview of short subjects in the Golden Age of Hollywood - how they began in the silent era, their rise to popularity, and how each studio handled shorts differently.

The Stooges were the big thing at their home lot Columbia. Warner's Vitaphone studios, first in Brooklyn, then in Hollywood, specialized in musicals. They did a low-key jazz piece with a lot of great musicians that many of the stars on the lot came to watch. RKO stuck with rubber-legged Leon Errol. MGM took a while to find its' verve; when it did, it came up with the Pete Smith Specialties spoofs, Robert Benchley's How To...series, the melodrama series Crime Does Not Pay, and the Patrick Fitzgerald Travelogues, with their Technicolor views of the world. Shorts specialist Hal Roach created the long-running Our Gang kids' series and did the popular shorts with Laurel & Hardy and Thelma Todd and Zasu Pitts (later Patsy Kelly).

Added Attractions ended right before I went to work. Denise, the woman I replaced, said it had been steady all day. It was stead for the first hour, but by 8PM, it was so dead, I left a few minutes early.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

One for Haddon Township

I was delighted to feel fresh breeze when I opened the door this morning. The storm cleared out the haze and humidity, leaving bright sunshine, soft winds, and far more manageable lower 80-degree temperatures. I was able to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to make things a bit less stuffy.

While Mother Nature cooled off, American Top 40 re-applied some heat. The summer of 1973 was all about folk, hard rock, gentle ballads, and R&B. Hits included "Daniel" by Elton John, "Yesterday Once More" by the Carpenters, "Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce, and "Give Me Love" by George Harrison.

The number one hit that week was by Harrison's former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney and his band Wings in a romantic mood, "My Love."

Headed out for this week's farm market/yard sale run shortly after the American Top 40 ended. Made a quick stop at a very quiet bank, then rode to Collingswood. Despite the gorgeous day, there were only a few yard sales out this morning. The first one I saw had nothing of interest but a lemonade stand. The second was huge, the same group of families who have a big sale on the big plot of land on Linwood Avenue twice a year. I found a Jerry the Mouse stuffed beanie (from the now-defunct WB Store, according to his tag), a Mary Engelbret journal and notebook still in its bag, a young adult novel called Princess Academy, and a bag of vintage cardboard decorations for Christmas and Thanksgiving. (I find so little for Thanksgiving, it was worth buying the bag for them. That, and the bag was a quarter.)

The Farm Market was bustling when I arrived at 10AM. I darted around people buying fruit and vegetables for impromptu barbecues and graduation parties as I did my rounds. I saw the first sugar plums, yellow peaches, blackberries, and green peppers of the season. Grabbed cherries, plums, blueberries, two ears of corn, one of those cute little ruffled patty pan squashes, snap peas, and a green pepper.

I wandered around in Westmont for a while, looking for the last yard sale on my list. I finally found it on Memorial Avenue, behind the Haddon Township High and Middle Schools. It was worth the wait. They had a lot of really nice holiday-related items, including boxes of colorful, barely-used Christmas ornaments that were made to look like vintage ornaments from the early and mid 20th century. I bought a box of the smaller ones and an Easter hanging with a Victorian-era print for $1.50.

I debated riding over to the Logan Presbyterian Church Thrift Shop, since it was on today, but I finally decided I had more than enough junk and just rode home instead. I messed around online for a while, then had hot dogs, macaroni salad, and snap peas for lunch while starting 4 for Texas. The Acme tried to call me in while I was eating; I told them I'd come in when I could.

I did end up going in a few minutes early. I had to pick up my contacts anyway. They were ready on Thursday evening, but I just plain didn't have the time to get them until now. Work was steady all day. We didn't have enough help, and the computers are running slow when they sign on. Thankfully, there were no other problems, and I was in and out quickly.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Confusion at the Supermarket

I was writing in my journal this morning when I got a call from Rose. Did I want to go to Wegman's in Cherry Hill with her and Khai? She had to make a small grocery shopping run. Sure. It was better than going grocery shopping after work or running out in the heat on my bike.

It was still hot, sunny, and muggy when Rose finally picked me up and we headed to Cherry Hill. Wegman's is a huge, high-end grocery store in the same box store shopping center that also features Panera Bread, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, the Christmas Tree Shop, and the Cherry Hill Barnes & Noble. Despite its huge size and location in the middle of nowhere, it's extremely popular, especially with people looking for organic or gourmet food that the other local supermarket chains don't carry.

I shouldn't have left Rose. We separated when we came in because we needed different things...but I forgot I don't know this store well. The entire front half of the store is nothing but expensive organic food and things like dishes and appliances that really belong a few doors down at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It took me ten minutes just to find the aisles with the normal food. I never did find brown eggs; ended up with regular white ones.

The trouble with Wegman's is, because they give so much of their store over to the fancy stuff, their selection on normal food isn't that great. They didn't have the French Vanilla mousse mixes I wanted or all of the flavors of Emerald Trail Mix bags that the Acme does. (Although they did have one flavor the Acme doesn't carry, Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana.) On the other hand, their Royal pudding mixes are a scant 29 cents, their regular large white eggs and generic natural peanut butter are pretty cheap, and they had good sales on their generic Cinnamon Life cereal and the Fig Newtons Thins Cookies. I needed laundry detergent; Dynamo turned out to be on a good sale. I found a 7-file folder further down in the same aisle. I've needed to clear out the folder with my old college and high school papers.

I couldn't find the express lanes when I finally made it up front, either. I heard my cell phone ring as I hit a fairly long line. It was a frantic Rose, who was dealing with a crying baby in her car. Where was I? Why hadn't I called her? I hadn't realized I'd been in the store for almost an hour! It hadn't felt that long. I figured I'd be long out before she was. Having to wait for a girl to grab a manager to use the house card didn't help matters. I quickly packed two bags I brought from home and hurried out.

I couldn't find Rose in the parking lot, either. She'd moved the van. She finally found me up in front of the store. I'm still pretty mad at myself, though I think Rose was more annoyed than anything else. I seriously hadn't figured I'd take so long. I didn't know she called three times before I picked up the phone, either. I was paying attention to my shopping. I'm not used to doing things with other people or considering their schedules.

I finally got home around 11:30. I had just enough time to put everything away, rearrange my file folders, go online and check my e-mail, then watch some Stooges while eating a quick seafood and salad lunch. Curly's not saying "I Can Hardly Wait" when Moe tries everything he can to get his younger brother's sore tooth out. In "Dizzy Pilots," Moe's ego isn't the only thing that's inflated when the Stooges try to build their own airplane and stay out of the army. And the trio find themselves in "A Gem of a Jam" when gangsters mistake them for doctors and expect them to operate on one of them who was shot in a robbery.

Work was fairly busy all day. We're getting close to the beginning of the month, and there's still a lot of birthday and graduation parties going on. I was thankfully in and out, with no major problems.

I'm not crazy about my schedule. On one hand, I have two days off, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday and Tuesday are really long days, though - Monday is 8 1/2 hours! And then I work late Friday and Saturday. I'm not looking forward to it at all.

The sky had been darkening for almost an hour when I started home. The wind was whipping around my bike as I hurried down the Black Horse Pike. I know I saw lightening in the distance. I felt the first raindrops as I sped over the ramp into Oaklyn. It wasn't as bad when I was on Kendall, but it picked up when I turned onto Manor. I was soaked when I walked in my door.

I dried off with Limes n' Cream Pudding Pie and some spooky Stooges. Moe and Larry are thrilled when Curly inherits a fortune in "If a Body Meets a Body." They have to spend the night in a spooky mansion and figure out the murder of Curly's uncle...not to mention what's walking around under that order to find out what he inherits.

The storm continued through the Stooges and my shower. In fact, the thunder and lightening only just ended, though the rain's been gone for a while.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hot Fun In the Summertime

The first day of summer was inaugurated by the second major heat wave of the year. It hit a sweltering upper 90s today and felt every inch of it. Maybe it's just as well that I overslept. I was going to do the morning yoga class, then run to the Collingswood and Haddon Township Libraries...but it was really too hot to be doing a lot of running around. I just opted for a late-morning Haddon Township run.

Needless to say, there wasn't a soul in Newton River Park as I rode over there around 10:30-11 this morning. Even the Geese were hiding from the heat. I saw a few other bikers on the road, but no one else. The trees even looked a little wilted in the hot sun.

Any building with air conditioning was going to be very popular today. The Haddon Township Library was no exception. There was nothing to put away when I arrived at 10:30; I worked on organizing the children's DVDs until more started to come in. Pulled foreign titles from the adult DVDs and shelved the few children's books that were there.

It took me longer to take out three DVDs and two books. The computer check-out systems were down. I did finally end up with the movies 4 for Texas and A Fish Called Wanda, the PBS kids' show The Cat In the Hat Knows A Lot About That, the newest Daisy Dalyrumple mystery Gone West, and the second children's book about the Penderwicks, The Penderwicks on Garden Street.

I rode across the street to the Westmont Plaza to run a few errands and have lunch. This time, I limited my shopping at Super Fresh to a shortbread crust and some on-sale French Vanilla Cool Whip for a Key Lime Pudding Pie later. Quickly dropped into Dollar Tree for sponges, then moved onto the Westmont Bagel Shop. I was rather disappointed with my Turkey, Swiss, and Avocado Spread sandwich on a sun-roasted tomato bagel. The teenager behind the counter toasted my bagel when I said not to. She also slathered wayyyyy too much avocado spread on! It was so messy, I could barely pick it up. I ate most of it with a fork...then discovered the hard way as I chewed that the bagel had some spicy pepper bits.

I dropped by Kayla's on my way home to sooth my overheated head and over-spiced tongue. Other than flowers in pots, Kayla's has now completely given itself over to its ice cream business. The TV set that showed kids' programs is gone, but everything else is there - the statues of cows (that have their own names), Batman, and fries and a hot dog, the horse pulling a carriage under where the TV was, the patio with the pink and yellow tables, the canopied swinging chairs. I opted to savor my soft-serve Maple Nut ice cream on the covered patio. One couple ate their milkshakes on the umbrella table. A mother and her son arrived for milkshakes just as I was finishing my ice cream.

Spent the next hour or so at home, cooling off, making my Key Lime Pudding Pie, and watching The Cat In the Hat Knows a Lot About That. Most of the PBS kids shows skew younger than Nickelodeon or Disney's similar programming and isn't as interesting (except for the Arthur and Sesame Street parodies). The Cat is definitely an exception. It almost plays as an edutainment sequel to the original special and books. Normal kids Sally and Nick have a question about animals, from how honey is made to why birds disappear in the fall. The Cat turns up with Thing One, Thing Two, and his Thing-A-Ma-Jig vehicle and takes the kids and the fussy Fish on an adventure to find the answer. Martin Short was a perfect Cat In the Hat, and there's a lot of Seuss-style humor, rhymes, and wordplay. In fact, I enjoyed these more than some of the later Seuss specials. My favorites were "Oh Give Me a Home," which had the Cat, the kids, and the Fish finding a new home for a hermit crab who outgrew his, and "Migration Vacation," in which the quartet search for Sally's friend Martin the Purple Warbler, who seems to have disappeared south.

Headed for the pool again after the cartoons ended. This time, there was only Rose, Khai, and a friend of Uncle Ken's in with me. (Uncle Ken and Dolores were back from the hospital, but they understandably spent most of the afternoon sleeping.) I got a nice little swim in, watching my littlest nephew kick and swim with the help of his mother and grandmother. The water felt great, in the lower 80s. It was slightly chilly going in, but wonderful once you got used to it.

I had a quick dinner of shrimp, lobster, pasta salad, and steamed spring peas when I got home. Watched The Three Stooges until I went online.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beach Babies and Pool Partiers

Boy, have I had a long day. It all started early this morning. Keefe joined Craig, Rose, Khai, and I for our trip to the beach (after a quick stop at Dollar Depot in Erma for toys for Khai, sunblock for Keefe, and containers to bring food home later). We eventually ended up at the end of the boardwalk near the Cove Restaurant. It's on the southern end of Cape Island, and it has a gorgeous view of Cape May Point and the Lighthouse.

We timed everything just right. We hit the beach at 9:30. It wasn't crowded then; the lifeguards hadn't even arrived yet. Craig easily found a parking spot at the boardwalk. We set up Craig and Rose's sky blue and lemon yellow umbrella and their mustard-y blanket between the closest lifeguard stands. The sand wasn't even hot then.

We all had a lot of fun. Craig and Keefe built Khai his own sand-submarine. Khai just wanted to load sand into a water-filled bucket and make mud. Keefe made a sand fort on his own. I dozed under the umbrella and went for a stroll to take in the view and watch kids surf on the other side of the boardwalk, near the restaurant.

Rose took Khai into the ocean for the first time a bit later. He wasn't sure of it at first. The waves were high close to shore, and the terrain was rocky...until you got past a slope, and the rocks and waves subsided and became spongy sand. It was chilly, but not as cold as it probably was earlier in the month. Khai seemed to have fun once he got used to it. He got to show off his swimming skills to Unc!

The beach brought back a lot of memories. My siblings and I spent our entire summers doing what we did this morning. We'd pack up and be on the beach by 9:30-10, go swimming for a while, go digging or exploring, then go home for lunch around noon. We'd be back by one or two, then home by 4-4:30.

We had lunch around 11. While most visitors to the beach probably bring sandwiches or salads, I doubt many dine on fresh seafood and fruit! Mom had packed shrimp and crab claws leftover from yesterday's party, along with fruit she cut up for breakfast this morning. As soon as lunch was over, we packed up, raced off the hot sand, and headed to the outdoor showers by the Lifeguards' Station a few blocks down to wash most of the sand off.

Once again, we hit things right. The beach was just filling up with people coming out of the Cape May restaurants as we were packing up Craig's van to head home. We took the West Cape May Bridge and Sandman Road to get home, dodging the traffic going to see the free Kenny Chesney concert in Wildwood.

We left less than an hour later, around 1:30. Craig had to be at work at the Haddon Heights restaurant where he and Rose are waiters by 4:30. We were all dead tired; Khai was so gone, he passed out as soon as he got in the car. The trip home was mostly uneventful until we hit the highway. Craig somehow took the wrong ramp, but Rose got him turned around. Khai got upset when we stopped at a WaWa and both his parents went to get drinks and use the bathroom. He probably thought they were leaving him! I read to him to calm him down.

It was past 3 when we rolled into Craig, Rose, and Khai's apartment in Audubon. They needed to walk their dogs Toby and Kelsey, put their things upstairs, and put away their share of the food from the party yesterday. Craig stayed there; it was just about time for him to get ready for work. Rose grabbed Khai's bathing suit and her own, and we headed out again. Rose stopped quickly at my place so I could bring my bags and my share of the food upstairs, then rode us over to Dad and Uncle Ken's.

Dad and Jodie had the place to themselves. Uncle Ken is in the hospital again for his heart. There were several neighbors in the pool when we arrived. Rose got Khai back in his bathing suit and took him in the pool. Jodie joined them. I didn't feel like climbing back into my sandy bathing suit, so I settled on sticking my legs in.

Rose, Khai, and I were all exausted after our long, long day. Khai enjoyed the pool, but as soon as he was dry, he started nodding off. I nearly fell asleep on the couch watching Team Umazoomi. Rose finally took me back to my apartment around 5:30. I had some of the many party leftovers for dinner and watched Three Stooges shorts.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Welcome Back, Keefe

It was cloudy and cool when I finally rolled out of bed around quarter of 9. Since I was going to spend most of the day at my parents' house sitting down or in a car, I decided to go for a short walk to the Oaklyn Library to do some volunteering there. Headed out as soon as I finished my breakfast of Honey Bunches of Oats, blueberries, and a pear.

It was busy when I arrived! The library was hosting two groups of very young kids from a local day camp, one after the other. I listened to the librarian read books about camping and summer to them as I organized DVDs and shelved children's books. My favorite was the Curious George tale about him camping with the Man In the Yellow Hat. He puts out a fire that someone was using, but after getting lost in the woods, saves the day when he finds a fire that has gotten out of control and reports it to a ranger. Unfortunately, he also has a close encounter with a certain black and white cat-like creature that leaves him smelling less than wonderful.

Rose called not long after I got home. She, Craig, and Khai were going to drop some Father's Day cards off at our biological father's house, then swing by and pick me up so we could head to Cape May County. I watched some Three Stooges shorts while I waited. "In the Sweet Pie and Pie" is a variation on the Stooges in high society theme. This time, three young women marry the trio of death-row convicts in order to gain their inheritance. When the Stooges are pardoned, they try to humiliate them by showing them off to their fancy friends. It's their friends who end up humiliating each other when their party turns into the pie fight to end all pie fights!

I got bored with waiting and went down to the front of the house to wait. Rose and her boys finally showed up around noon. Other than hitting a little traffic around a construction area in Runnemede, the trip up here was just fine. The weather cleared and became sunny and a little humid, but not nearly as hot as it's supposed to get over the next few days. There was no more traffic, two-year-old Khai slept most of the way, and I got to try out the iPod Nano Lauren gave me for Christmas.

(That thing is fun, BTW. I can change from song to song without letting the darn thing go on random. It takes a few minutes to figure out how to switch it back and forth on the tiny touch pad, but after that, it works great and sounds better.)

We arrived around 1:30. We were the first ones there, other than my mom, dad, nephew Skylar, brother Keefe, and his girlfriend Vicki. Keefe's awaiting his next orders for the Navy, but it sounds like he's going to be in Charleston for a while. He looked so handsome in his Naval dress uniform (even though he was a real baby about people taking pictures).

There was tons and tons of food set up under a big tent in the backyard. Dad grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. For people who preferred their meat chilled, there was all kinds of fresh seafood that Dad brought home from work (he's a commercial fisherman) - lobster tails, crab claws, chunk crab meat, and massive shrimp. Mom made four kinds of salad (two different pasta salads, a green salad with lettuce and onions, and a potato salad). Dad put out his own seafood salad with calamari rings, crab, and scallops. There were bottles of water, cans of soda, and bottles of beer and wine for those who prefer them.

I eventually met all kinds of people, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. Some of the first arrivals were Diane. Carson and her sons Brendan and Austin. Ms. Carson had been a teacher of mine in high school; Austin is a long-time friend of Keefe's who is going to culinary school in Philadelphia. I met some of Mom and Dad's neighbors and Dad's co-workers on his boat for the first time. Keefe and Rose's beloved junior high school music teacher Ms. Delacorte came later. Rose was happy to see her friends Joey Towns (an English teacher at Middle Township High School) and Laura. My sister Anny and her current boyfriend Tom finally showed up a bit after them.

I had a long chat with several of Keefe's friends, including the girlfriend of one of his best friends, Jocelyn. We were some of the only people drinking sugarless sodas. I'm dieting; she just found out she's diabetic. She wants to be a nurse, and she thinks knowing  how to handle this will be a big help. I had a nice chat with her throughout the night, about diets and about her prom. (The kids at Lower Cape May Regional High were lucky to have their Junior and Senior proms at the beautiful, brand-new Cape May Convention Center. Jocelyn and her boyfriend Nick had romantic shots of the two of them in their prom outfits taken right on the beach!)

I helped Mom and Rose bring out dessert around 4. In addition to the Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes I made on Sunday, we had a big half-gold, half-chocolate cake from the Acme in North Cape May, a key lime pie and blueberry crumble from Desserts by Design in Audubon, and Mom's famous chocolate chip bars and "magic bars." The latter is made from coconut, chocolate chips, condensed milk on a graham cracker crust. They're a huge family favorite; some of Rose's guy friends still talk about them, and Keefe adores them. (Ironically, Mom found the recipe in a book on PMS...but they've always seemed to be even more popular with men.)

By the time Anny's son Collyn and his father Mike arrived, it was starting to get late. I watched Keefe and his buddies kick a soccer ball around next to the tent and continued my talk with Jocelyn (she's got a heck of a soccer kick - in black bow-trimmed ballerina flats!). Joey and Laura left; Rose, Craig, and Mike took the kids inside to watch Cars. I joined them for the second half.

Everyone began to leave as the sun went down around 8:30. Poor Khai was so tired, I don't think he knew what to do with himself. I think everyone in the house is asleep but me. Keefe and Vicki went out with their friends after Keefe changed out of his uniform.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow, too. I'm going to hit the beach in Cape May with Rose and her boys before heading back up north.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Epic Lunacy

I got up in time to make a quick laundry run this morning and even have a decent cereal breakfast. The laundromat was fairly busy, with several families getting their Monday morning chores done. I saw two adorable little girls pushing their brown teddy bear around in a stroller as I pulled my small load out of the drier. It was a good thing I didn't have much to do; it got pretty crowded.

When I got home, I put everything away, then finished all the packing I can do for now. (I'll pack my toiletries, journal, and pajamas tomorrow morning.) Dubbed Blazing Saddles as I tossed together leftover ground chicken with various vegetables and a salad for lunch.

"Never give a saga an even break," runs the tag line for one of Brooks' earliest and best genre spoofs. Westerns and the fights over race and sexuality in the 60s and 70s are poked fun at here. Two corrupt politicians (Brooks and Harvey Korman) hoping to buy up land in the town of Rock Ridge hire a black man (Cleavon Little) as their sheriff. Far from driving people out of town, the intelligent and sensible Little proves instrumental to bringing the townspeople together, dragging the washed-up gunslinger the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) away from liquor, and even romancing singer Lily Von Shtupp (an Oscar-nominated Madeline Khan). The west - and the Warners lot - isn't big enough for the two of them, but Little's determined to prove that brains really are mightier than matter what you look like on the outside.

This is one of the wackiest satires Brooks ever did, with Jewish Indians (Brooks too) seen in flashback, Wilder so fast on the draw he doesn't have to draw to take out anything in his path, and the finale that gets so insane, it spills into a musical directed by Dom DeLouise. Actually, today, this is known for a joke it couldn't have pulled off just a few years before - the infamous reaction around the campfire to those can of beans. Brooks' musical chops show up here, too. Khan's Marlene Dietrich number spoof is a riot, and the Frankie Laine-sung title tune was also Oscar-nominated.

I ran a few related Three Stooges shorts after Saddles ended. The trio hope to find gold using Curly's metal detector in "Cactus Makes Perfect," but they end up chased by prospectors instead. "Matri-phony" moves us to ancient Rome. Emperor Octopus Grabbus is determined to wed a pretty slave whom the Stooges were hiding...but he falls even more for Curly in drag!

Headed to work after "Matri-phony" ended. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - quiet when I came in, quiet when I left, steady but not overwhelming during rush hour. It shouldn't be really bad there again until we get closer to the Fourth of July.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

O Brother and Vicki, Where Art Thou?

Started a cloudy and cool morning with Brunch With the Beatles. Sir Paul McCartney turns 70 tomorrow, and they ran songs from his solo career (plus the Beatles song "Birthday") in his honor. Most of what we heard were songs from his days with Wings, including "Silly Love Songs," "My Love," "Uncle Albert," "Jet," "Band On the Run," and my personal favorite, "Live and Let Die."

After the largely lousy week I had, I figured I needed Double Chocolate Mint Chip Pancakes and a big handful of farm market cherries. When the last cherry had been popped in my mouth (and the pit popped in a bowl), I called Mom and Dad-Bill to wish the latter a Happy Father's Day.

Mom was not a happy camper. They were having "issues," in her words. Apparently, that used Camero my brother Keefe bought a few weeks ago died in North Carolina, stranding him and his girlfriend Vicki near Myrtle Beach. Dad sounded less ticked off and more annoyed when I talked to him. He cracked up when I told him to smack Keefe silly when he finally got home. (I wasn't joking. ;) )

I called Rose after I got off with Dad.  She confirmed  both Keefe being stranded and our departure time. She wants to pick me up somewhere between 11 and 12 on Tuesday morning. Fine with me. I'm off from Tuesday through 1PM Friday. She can pretty much pick me up anytime she wants. She wants to stay overnight after the party Tuesday, then make a Wednesday morning trip to either Wildwood Crest or Cape May to introduce her two-year-old son to the beach. Also fine by me. I can't remember the last time I went to a beach that wasn't on the banks of a river.

I spent the rest of the afternoon quietly. Messed around online for an hour, then made Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes for the party on Tuesday. I squeezed the juice of three of the lemons I bought from the Acme and grated some of their rind into a white cake mix. Also added flaxseed for a little extra crunch along with the blueberries. I also got a jump on my packing - I probably won't have the time tomorrow or Tuesday morning. I'm all set except for the things like my toothbrush that can't go in until Tuesday.

(When I was going through my bedroom closet, I decided to thin things out a bit. Moved most of my luggage except for the big gray piece under my bed. Put the plain brown messenger back in the back room. I used it a lot in college, but not only do I not transport a lot of books or things anymore, but I also have my laptop bag that performs the same function, more-or-less.)

The cupcakes came out of the oven just in time for me to make dinner, change into my uniform, and head out for work. Work was quiet when I arrived and when I left, but very busy during the usual 4-6 rush hour as people prepared for Father's Day barbecues and birthday and graduation parties. It was so quiet by 7PM, I was able to leave with no relief.

I called my biological father when I got in. Dad-Bruce is in Florida and in the midst of a cruise ship job, but it was still nice to talk to him. It sounds like he'll be home next week. He reminded me that the pool's open. I might try to get there Thursday - it's supposed to be super-hot that day.

Oh, and I finally started to play around with that iPod Lauren gave me for Christmas. I downloaded iTunes and synced a whole pile of CDs to the device. I'll mess around with downloading later in the week. I can't believe how fast this thing syncs CDs! It's three times as fast as my old Coby MP3 player. I love it. I'll bring it on the trip to Cape May County to try it out. 

Here's hoping all fathers had a great day, including those whose children are four-legged or feathered. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

There's No Place Like Home for Yard Sales

I was happy to see that the weather was even nicer than yesterday when I got up this morning. I ran American Top 40 as I ate oatmeal and blueberries and got ready for today's errands. Casey jumped back a decade today to 1976. Hits during that Bicentennial summer included "Take the Money and Run" by the Steve Miller Band, "Moonlight Feels Right" by Starbuck, "Afternoon Delight" by the Starlight Vocal Band, the theme from "Happy Days" by Pratt & McCain, "Love Hangover" by Diana Ross, "Shannon" by Henry Gross, "Love Is Alive" by Gary Wright, and "Takin' to the Streets" by the Doobie Brothers.

That week's top hit was one of Paul McCartney's biggest under the "Wings" banner, and one of my favorite from Wings, "Silly Love Songs."

Today, the yard sales were finally in my own back yard. Oaklyn had it's town-wide yard sale this morning...and I did the best of any town-wide yard sale this year, without going further than the Collingswood Farm Market. In fact, my best find was about three blocks away on the other side of Manor Ave, near the Oaklyn Manor Bar. A woman was selling the John Wayne Signature Collection Warner Bros DVD set with four movies - The Searchers, The Cowboys, Rio Bravo, and Stagecoach - for a mere $5. I've seen the Signature sets go for anywhere from $30 to $70! Supposedly, the prints aren't all that great, but for 5 dollars for some good movies, who's gonna complain?

There were great sales all over the place. I saw someone selling an Atari, with accessories and a ton of games! Alas, they wouldn't lower their selling price of $150. I don't have that kind of money on me right now. I'll take a look at the ones at The House of Fun instead.

In addition to the Signature set, I eventually ended up with:

Another DVD, the second American Girl made-for-TV-movie, Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. Unlike the Samantha movie, I genuinely liked this when I rented it a few years ago and was glad to have it, especially for 50 cents.

Four books - one American Girl book, Meet Julie (the 70s historical character), and three vintage Disney story anthologies from the 50s and 60s, Stories From Other Lands, America, and Fantasyland. The last two came from the Oaklyn Library's Book Sale, a smaller version of their Book Sale and Flea Market from earlier in the spring.

Two videos, The Quiet Man (more John Wayne) and the 1939 serial Mandrake the Magician, the latter coming from the Library.

Two straw hats for my American Girl dolls. One is trimmed with green ribbon and a cute pale pink flower. Felicity wears it now. Molly claimed the plain tan one. I'll probably add ribbons to it the next time I can get to JoAnn's.

Three CDs - Rod Stewart - It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook (the first one, from the looks of things)

Nat King Cole - Just One of Those Things (and More)

WOGL 98.1 Ultimate Christmas Album Vol. 6

And six records:

Helen Reddy - Helen Reddy's Greatest Hits

Steve Martin - Comedy Is Not Pretty

Led Zeppelin - CD/DA

Bryan Adams - Reckless

The original cast album for Oklahoma!

Wings of Sound, a K-Tel collection of some of the big hits of 1979

In the midst of all the sales, I did find time to get to the bank and deposit my paycheck and to the Farm Market. Between Father's Day and graduation parties, they were elbow-to-elbow when I finally made it over there around 10:30. Strawberries and asparagus are gone, replaced by raspberries and the very first Jersey corn of the season. I ended up with cherries, blueberries, snap peas, small organic heads of romaine and bibb lettuce, and a jar of blueberry butter.

It was quarter after 1 before I finally ended my yard-sale run. I put everything away and made cornmeal-battered chicken fingers and a salad with Farm Market-fresh lettuce for lunch while watching Three Stooges shorts. I had something doll-related waiting for me, too. Molly's Aviator Outfit, one of her limited edition retired outfits that I couldn't find, had arrived. I love the awesome jacket with the real insignia of the WASPs - I wish I could get an adult-sized one. The Acme had tried to call me in an hour early while I was out, but by the time I got home, it was too late for me to do anything but go in at the original 2:30.

As it turned out, they had their reasons. It had been long-lines busy all day, and there was a call-out in the morning. (One of the older women who is perpetually sick is gone again.) The long lines continued through the rest of the evening. I had to wait for the self-checkout person to relieve me so I could go home. (They wanted to get one of the kids from the bakery to come in. I could have told the managers that was a bad idea. The Bakery's a nut house right now, between cakes for Father's Day and special graduation orders.)

When I got in, I decided to try baking Mint Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars while the weather remained relatively cool. I replaced the granulated sugar with grape fruit concentrate. They came out tasty...but very purple, and not very attractive. From now on, grape concentrate is limited to dark baked goods.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June Is Bustin' Out All Over

I'd never seen a nicer day in mid-June. It was bright, sunny, and breezy, but neither humid nor too hot. I'm glad I had enough time before work to run to WaWa for half a gallon of skim milk. The rain earlier this week was a big help to the local flora. The roses are in their last blooms, but the tiger lilies are spectacular. There were quite a few people out and about, mowing their lawns, cleaning their cars, or chatting with their neighbors. WaWa was busy with kids just getting out of school who were in the mood for their first snack of summer vacation.

When I got home, I went on my computer and did the budget. It was what I thought. Between my vacation and everything I bought beforehand and afterwards, I way overspent...and I don't think I've been doing much better this month. I really need to start being more careful.

I had a quick lunch of leftovers, then changed into my uniform, grabbed a bag of Emerald Trail Mix for a snack, and headed to work. Thankfully, work was steady, not nearly as bad as it has been, despite a lack of help. Two women went home sick. (I believe one actually was - she was out yesterday - but the other was questionable at best.) Audubon High School's graduation ceremony was at 6PM, and many people were buying cakes and other party fixings to get ready. The Acme was so quiet by 6, I got quickly with no relief.

Rode over to Tu Se Bella's in the shopping center behind the Acme for a slice of cheese pizza, a slice of mushroom pizza, and a bottle of water. It was the height of the dinner hour, and they were busy with people coming in from shopping for dinner. I ate my pizza (trying to get the cheese to stay on the plain one) while baseball played on the TV.

Went back to the Acme after dinner to do my own grocery shopping. The Acme's having a huge chicken sale this week. I got breasts, tenderloins, and cutlets for half-off, plus I had a 75 cents off coupon on the breasts from the Giveaway game. I also needed fish packs, more of those mint chocolate chips, the Acme generic "Carlita" brand tortillas on sale, peanut butter, cards for both of my dads for Father's Day, almonds (dark chocolate flavored - yum!), and green tea.

And I have a pretty good schedule next week. Three days off in a row (two of them to visit the family in Cape May County), and once again, no days later than 7:30, which makes me very happy. They must have finally corralled enough college students into taking the late hours. That doesn't make for a lot of hours, though - now I'm glad I took those extra hours yesterday.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Long Day's Journey Into Balance

Did the morning class this week. I wasn't going to have time for the afternoon class, and anyway, I wanted to talk to the teacher, Karin. Surprisingly, given the cool and sunny weather, it was busier than the afternoon class but not nearly as full as the morning classes usually are. We worked on different standing poses that would allow for risk and pushing our edge.

I didn't get a chance to talk to Karin after class (she had an appointment in Philly), but I did chat with some of my fellow classmates. One is an artist with kids whose husband runs a restaurant; she barely sees him. The other is a journalist who had come from Southern California for a job...only to lose it last year. We had a good chat about difficulties finding a job, especially when you don't know a lot of people. (The girl from Hollywood left her whole family back there, and it was a big one.)

I felt a bit better when I arrived home. I had a quick leftovers lunch while finishing Max & Ruby. The rabbit pair both learned a lesson in "Max's Bath." Ruby wants Max to take a bath after his messy lunch. Max would rather keep eating lunch...and knocking his sticky snacks into the bathtub when his sister's back is turned.

"Max's Bed Time" was rather sweet, and definitely one I can relate to. Max will not sleep without his favorite red rubber elephant. Ruby loans him her toys, but he wants his own...even if he has to search all night to find it! I sleep with a lot of stuffed animals myself. I know I'd miss them if I couldn't find them.

Work wasn't too bad. It was on-and-off busy, not quite as crazy as earlier in the week. Of course, I also worked in the middle of the afternoon. By the time it was getting busy, I was almost done. They wanted me to stay later, but I turned them down. Apparently, there's some big-wig coming tomorrow, and the head manager is going crazy trying to get ready. If he wants to pull everyone from up front to clean the store, that's on him, not me. He's lucky I came in on my day off at all.

I went straight to the gym after work. I'm not really going to have the time tomorrow. I did a really nice session on the elliptical machine. I loved Channel 6 Action News' "Down at the Shore" segments. It looked like they were broadcasting from the Mariner's Landing Raging Waters water park on the Wildwood Boardwalk. I used to go there on occasion when I lived in Wildwood. The guy who was doing the weather for the shore happily tossed his equipment to one of the camera men, then joined the kids sliding down the wide slide that goes into the children's area. Later, I saw him swing on a rope into the kid's pool (doing much better than I ever did on the rope).

It was right before a class, so Lucile Roberts was quite busy. I had to wait for several arm machines. I worked with weights until they were empty. By the time I was finished, the class had started, so I did my stretching in the private training area.

Even with two options closed, it was still really hard to choose somewhere to eat dinner. I finally opted for Chick Fil 'A. I'd gotten my order in when I realized that my wallet wasn't in my backpack. I felt so embarrassed! I had to cancel my order and run back to Lucile Roberts. I got so lucky. The wallet was on the floor near where the class was still going. I grabbed it and hurried out before I really did lose it.

Actually, I'm glad I did cancel that order. I decided that I could get a much better-tasting sandwich and fries combo for the same amount of money or a little more at Applebee's...and I was right. I had a delicious Bacon Cheddar Grilled Chicken Sandwich and yummy steak fries while watching the US Open on one of Applebee's new flat-screen TVs. Applebee's recently remodeled to give it more of a neighborhood vibe. The junky memorbillia on the walls had been replaced by photos of the Phillies, the Eagles, and the Audubon High School's teams, the Green Wave. I also saw two lovely shots of Merchant Street and the clock near the Auction House at night. I sat next to a photo of Audubon High's band that looked like it was taken this year, and one above it that appeared to be a black-and-white shot from the 50s.

After I got home, I sorted through this week's supermarket flyers and coupons, then had slices of Chocolate Mint Feather Cake for dessert while running some Three Stooges shorts. I thought "Three Little Beers" was appropriate, given what I watched during dinner. The Stooges join a golf tournament put on by their beer company in order to win a hundred dollar prize...but let's just say they're not US Open material. "Hoi Polloi" has the trio being trained to be gentlemen to win a $10,000 bet. These not-exactly-fair Stooges are hardly society material, and they prove it by making a mess of their "coming out" dance.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bunny Sibling Rivarly

Started off today with the first of two Max & Ruby DVDs I picked up yesterday. Ruby's bossiness is usually what causes trouble, but Max's mischief can sometimes cross into outright bratty behavior. Take "Max's Chocolate Chicken," the first of two Easter episodes. Ruby wants to use the chocolate chicken they get for Easter as a prize for finding eggs...but as usual, Max can't wait. Even though she finds all the eggs, he ends up with the prize. It happened with "Max Misses the Bus," too. Ruby wants to go visit Louise, but Max refuses and keeps finding excuses to miss the bus. Sorry kid, but if sis says "We have to go," that means "we have to go, and we don't always get lucky enough for our friend to come over here."

Some episodes were pretty cute. "Ruby's Beauty Shop" was a variation on the episode where she and Louise try to give Max beauty treatments. This time, they're using non-edible cosmetics on an unwilling Max. Max prefers their hair dye in punk colors. (Ever seen a bunny with leaf-green fur?) The girls and I used Keefe as a beauty shop client all the time when we were in our pre-and-early teens (up to and including the hair dye - we'd just do streaks, though).

"Max's Apple" is a variation on the "Max bugs Ruby to get something for him that is a surprise for her" story. In this case, Max keeps disrupting Ruby and Louise's apple-pie-based  hand-clap rhyme so his sister can retrieve apples from the tree his swing is on. Ruby thinks he's just hungry, but that little poem she and Louise are calling out has made him want to try making something tastier with his apple supply!

Ruby's fussiness is the problem in "Max's Rainy Day." It's raining, and Max wants to go outside and play. Anyone else would have stripped the kid down to his bathing suit and let him splash in the nearest puddle, but not Ruby. They MUST wear their boots (on the right feet), and their rain coats, and rain hats, and umbrellas. It takes so long to get dressed that the rain has stopped by the time they get out...but Max finds a way to enjoy the rainy day anyway!

I didn't get to the gym until almost 12. It was fairly busy when I came in. I enjoyed Family Feud while having a good, solid session on the stationary bike. There were a couple of people when I was working on the leg weight machines, but by the time I finished my stretching, it was mostly empty. Since I was on that side of the mall, I also stopped at America's Best a few doors down to order a new supply of contacts. I discovered this morning that my last pair had a tear in them. As the girl at America's Best said, isn't that always the way?

I went home for lunch, then changed, packed dinner, and rode back to the mall for work. The Acme was busy all evening again...and this time, there were no call-outs. I wasn't happy when some people were rude again...or when they asked me to come in tomorrow. My mouth said "yes" before my brain said it would rather be anywhere else. I need the money.

And I need it worse than I thought I did. When I tried to pay for something on eBay, my PayPal wouldn't work. It was what I thought. I had practically no money left in my checking account. I switched money from my savings account to pay for it, but I'm broke. I can't believe how much money I've spent recklessly over the past couple of months. I'm so angry with myself. I never thought I was a spendthrift, but it looks like I am. I need to stop spending and start learning how to make a real budget, or I'll never be able to run any kind of a business.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rainy Day Adventurers

It wasn't raining when I first got up this morning, just humid and wet. It didn't really start until right before I left for the Haddon Township Library, of course. By then, there was a nice little shower going. I couldn't put the library off, weather or no weather. I flew through the wet path in Newton River Park. There wasn't a soul around, not even a Canadian Goose. Even the drive-in at McDonald's was quiet. (Of course, I was there around 10:30, too.)

The Library was quiet as well. There wasn't much to do at first. I just organized the children's DVDs. More books and DVDs came in as the morning went on. I went through the adult's DVDs to clear out foreign titles that were in the wrong place as well. Shelved the few kids' books that were there. It got busier as the morning wore on, not surprisingly given the weather and the fact that most kids are getting out of school this week or next week, if they aren't out already.

I'm going to be out of town for a couple of days next week and may not be able to get to the library, so I didn't take anything out this week. I was originally going to take a train ride to Atlantic City today, but the shower was still coming down steadily after I left the library. I decided that it was better to be dry than sorry and opted to do things in Westmont and at home instead, starting with a tasty lunch at the Crystal Lake Diner under the Library. I had a Spinach-Chicken-Mozzarella Wrap with cole slaw and a yummy cup of chicken dumpling soup. (They called it the Marinara Wrap, but it had no marinara sauce in it.) It was nice to listen to the murmur of the lunch crowd (mostly old folks or parents and their teenagers coming out of school) while the rain continued outside.

Ran to Super Fresh next. They're clearing out their Old Orchard frozen fruit concentrates at $1.17 a can. I picked up three - Grape, Apple, and Blueberry Pomegranate. Grabbed Super Fresh's generic butter cooking spray on sale. They're the only ones who have blue sugar sprinkles. For some reason, Acme doesn't carry that color, and I'm almost out. Also grabbed one Backyardigans and two Max & Ruby DVDs that the libraries don't have. They were overpriced (as most cartoon DVDs are), but I figured I deserved a splurge on a day like this.

I debated stopping at Dollar Tree, but the shower was growing heavier. It was no day to be out running around. I dodged traffic on the White Horse Pike and Cuthbert Road and just headed home for the rest of the evening, getting very wet on my way.

Did the Backyardigans DVD Join the Adventurer's Club as I got home and changed into dry clothes. This is, for some reason, the only later-seasons Backyardigans DVD none of the libraries have. Tyrone is the main character in "Follow the Feather," as he leads fellow explorers Tasha and Pablo on a hunt for the fabled Polka-Dot Flying Pony, with the help of an errant feather and Uniqua the Mysterious Lady.

Uniqua's in the spotlight in "Flower Power," yet another superhero spoof. This time, she's Flower Girl, who has gained her powers from the thorn of an unusual bloom. Austin is the Gloom Meister, spreading darkness over Garden City. Uniqua works on controlling her powers and saving the others from Austin's Gloom Machine.

The remaining stories focus on smart, silly Austin. He's a Beetlejuice-style spook who loves to make people laugh in "The Funnyman Boogyman." Trouble is, ghostbusters Pablo and Uniqua would rather capture him than hear his act. Will he ever make these two crack a smile?

My favorite episode on this disc was "Dragon Express." Austin is a new dragon rider for the Dragon Express in Norway, who deliver packages on dragons to the frozen Scandinavian mountains. Pablo and his dragon Maverick are the fanciest fliers around, getting into tight spaces that Austin and his slower, gentler mount Windy couldn't dream of. Windy and Austin have something to teach them, too, when they use their brains to find the mailbox in the mirrored Ice Tower.

I switched to dubbing Johnny Dangerously as I baked Chocolate Feather Mint Cake (from one of my British baking books) and had leftovers for dinner. This 80s spoof of gangster films features Michael Keaton as the title character, who starts in on a life of crime as a child when his mother (Maureen Stapleton) needs an operation. By the time he's an adult, he has his own nightclub, is dating a gorgeous singer (Marilu Henner), and is in charge of one of the top mobs in New York. Things go downhill quickly when his little brother (Griffin Dunne) becomes a D.A and dedicates himself to fighting crime. Neither he nor his mother know Johnny's a mobster, but that changes quickly when one of his own gang frames him for killing the crime commissioner. Johnny now has to get his brother to help him clear his name and save his mother from his own mob!

Not great, not bad. It's probably funnier if you're familiar with the movies being spoofed (like the James Cagney vehicle The Roaring Twenties, which is seen in the finale). Keaton's a bit miscast as the cocky, Cagney-like hero; Henner and Stapleton are better as his sweet-natured chanteuse girlfriend who just wants to settle down and his tougher-than-she-looks mother.

Started Overboard during dinner. This is an extremely 80s romantic comedy, featuring long-time lovers Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. She's a spoiled socialite whose yacht gets stuck in the harbor of the Oregon town he lives in. He's a carpenter who remodels her closet, only to be rebuffed and thrown off the yacht when it isn't as perfect as she wants. He sees a way of getting even when she falls off the boat and loses her memory. He brings her home, convinces her she's his wife, and gets her to clean and cook for him and his four wild boys. The best-intended practical jokes have a way of going very differently from how we planned, and while he begins to understand her refined nature, she learns that under the snooty rich dame beats the heart of a creative, fun woman who hasn't gotten to really enjoy life until now.

To be honest, the basic premise is extremely mean-spirited. Neither Russell nor Hawn are particularly likeable at first. The obnoxious kids don't really help. Things do improve in the second half, when they're more comfortable with each other and start showing the chemistry that has made them a real-life couple for over 30 years. Cute enough if you can get past that first half-hour.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Takin' It to the Laundry

Started out a humid but cool and cloudy day with the Sondheim: Concert at Carnegie Hall show I dubbed last summer while I ate Honey Bunches of Oats for breakfast. I finally made it to the laundromat around quarter of 12. I didn't have a lot of laundry, so it didn't take very long. I read Stop Saying Everything's Fine while listening to CBS. The laundromat was pretty quiet, too. There were one or two people in and out, but it was mostly just me.

I went home, put everything away, and ran jazz CDs and Natalie Cole as I ate shrimp and a salad made with farm market-fresh veggies for lunch. As Natalie Cole wound down, I packed a ham sandwich and baggie of cherry tomatoes for dinner, changed into my uniform, and headed into a now-sunny day for work.

Ugh. I wish I hadn't. Work was insanely busy all evening long. We were short on help, too. A cashier and a bagger called out at the last minute. One family came through my express line and unloaded their huge, 200-dollar order before I could tell them they had too much. After all that, the mother ended up having Shop Rite gift cards she couldn't use in Acme. She'd gone to the wrong store! They ended up not taking that whole darn order.

Later that evening, another man rang up a much smaller order on his credit card. The card wouldn't go through. The man slammed his fist against the credit card machine, threw a temper tantrum, and took off before I could call security for wanton destruction of property. The Army recruit behind him was about ready to "take" him (in his words), that's how damn obnoxious that man was. If your card doesn't work, pay cash or use another card, and don't throw a fit over it.

I was so happy when the person in the self-checkout lane came in for me and I was able to get out on time. I don't think I could have stood it for much longer.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bibbidi Bobbidi Muppets

I slept in really late this morning. It was past 11:30 before I finally got to making blueberry honey pancakes for breakfast and running Hey Cinderella! The earliest of three Muppet fairy tale specials starts out with your basic Cinderella (Belinda Montgomery) working to the bone for her wicked stepmother (Joyce Gordon). The king wants his son Prince Arthur (Robin Ward) to find a bride. Arthur doesn't want someone as stuffy as a princess. He wants someone more down-to-earth, and finds the perfect girl when Cinderella and her dog Rufus wander into his garden. She thinks he's the gardener; he doesn't care what she is, other than a nice girl. Cinderella can only go to his ball if she has a coach and horses...but this is a Muppet version, and the fairy godmother is having a hard time with her magic, Kermit's upset that the king won't let frogs come to the ball, and who needs horses anyway when you have a huge purple Muppet monster pulling your carriage? Cindy and Arthur do eventually make their dreams come true...but not in the usual way!

A really wacky version of one of the world's most wide-spread stories. Sure, we have a sweet kid in a fancy dress, the fairy godmother who helps her, the wicked stepmother and the none-too-bright king. But you don't see many Cinderellas where the coachman insists on staying a frog, there's a Muppet monster pulling the carriage, the fairy godmother is lousy at her job, and Cindy and her prince learn that there are other ways of finding true love than making the shoe fit. Enjoyable enough if you can find it; to my knowledge, this and the other two Muppet fairy tale specials, The Frog Prince and The Muppet Musicians of Bremen, are out of print on video and were never on DVD.

(And I recognize some of the Muppets used in this special. The King, his page Featherstone, and Rufus the Dog would all turn up again in the later specials as well as the early seasons of The Muppet Show.)

I didn't do much else on this very hot day. Swept the porch after I finished the video, just to get outside. It was really hot, but not all that humid, much to my surprise. There was a really nice breeze, and it didn't feel too bad under the shady trees over my porch.

I finally got through to Mom around 10 minutes to 2. She had spent the morning working on her garden. No wonder she hadn't been able to get to me the first time I called - she was on top of a ladder when she heard the phone! Her jazz date with Dad didn't go too well. He'd had a little too much to drink beforehand and misbehaved. She apparently did get to attend some other concerts and events in the Cape May area that made up for it.

We also talked about the party she's having for my brother Keefe's leave in two weeks. My sister Rose, her family, and I are going to stay overnight. She said to bring a pillow, and that I'll probably sleep in the office, like I do when I visit alone. That's fine. Whatever works for them. I'm just looking forward to seeing the Cape May side of the family for the first time since Christmas Eve.

I talked to Mom so long, I ended up having to rush lunch and was almost late for work! Thank goodness work was busy, but otherwise not as much of a pain as the last few days. The 4 for 20 meat sale stopped working briefly mid-way through my shift, but they did get it fixed. Other than that, there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

New Sci-Fi Tales of the Old West

Started off a lovely, warm, surprisingly dry morning with the American Top 40. We ram headlong into 1985 as pop, jazz, ballads, and dance music took us into summer. Hits from early June included "Smooth Operator" by Debarge, "Ssudieo" by Phil Collins, "Heaven" by Brian Adams, "Angel" by Madonna, "(Don't You) Forget About Me" by Simple Minds, the lovely "Suddenly" by Howard Jones, "Everything She Wants" by Wham!, and "Axel F," the theme from the first Beverly Hills Cop movie, by Harold Faltermeyer.

That week's #1 was one of my favorite songs from childhood. I still associate it with villains of any stripe to this day - Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."

My first stop this morning was the Logan Presbyterian Church Thrift Shop. I had my first bag of donations to bring there since mid-March, including my old DVD player. They had lots of new things I hadn't seen before, including boxes of new videos. I ended up with five videos:

Two more movies in the Thin Man Series, The Thin Man Goes Home and Shadow of the Thin Man

The unusual western musical Red Garters with Rosemary Clooney.

Two classic English mysteries, the early Hitchcock tale The Lady Vanishes, and the second 70s all-star Agatha Christie adaptation Death On the Nile.

I found the video for the early 70s Muppet special Hey Cinderella! in the children's room. I saw the other Muppet fairy tale specials The Muppet Musicians of Bremen and The Frog Prince frequently on cable in the 80s and early 90s, but I don't remember catching this one.

It's just as well that I did so well at the Thrift Shop. I only saw one yard sale in Collingswood, and they had nothing interesting. I went right on to the Farm Market. The summer harvests are starting to make their debut. I saw cucumbers and blueberries for the first time today and got some of both, along with cherries, orange honey, zucchini, and organic romaine lettuce. It's a good thing more fruit is starting to appear. I heard one farmer say this is the last week for strawberries. The final pint was sold as I bought my honey; good thing I have plenty leftover from last week.

Went straight home afterwards. Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon baking Blueberry Muffins and watching Cowboys and Aliens. Oh boy, was this a weird one. A lone man (Daniel Craig) awakens in 1873 Montana to find that he has no memory of who he is or how he ended up a with a huge wound and a strange metal cuff on his hand. He tries to hit the nearest town, Absolution, for medical attention, but only gets in trouble with the local cattle baron Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). Dolarhyde discovers he's a bandit and is about to have him strung up when suddenly, a fleet of spaceships rocket out of nowhere, destroy much of the town, and rope people into their ships. Those who remain, including a lovely young woman (Olivia Wilde) with mysteries of her own, go out in search of these strange creatures who don't seem to be quite of this earth.

I did end up enjoying it. Craig and Ford played well off each other, and I like how everyone, Indians, cowboys, pacifists, war-mongers, outlaws, women, and kids, all ended up banding together to stop this strange menace from the stars. (Note that I don't use the word "alien." Neither do they. Science fiction wouldn't really become a popular genre for another couple of decades or so.)  The creatures are very well done and VERY scary-looking. There's a bit of blood, too, though not enough to make gag reflexes kick in. Just blending two very different genres may make this too odd for most people, and the aliens were a bit too gross for my taste, but if you like westerns, alien invasion tales, Craig, or Ford, you may find this to be your cup of sarsaparilla.

I ran some of the Garfield Travel Adventures specials before heading to work. Work was a pain. We had long lines all day, and plenty of cranky people. I was very happy to get out of there. Finished out the specials while having leftovers for dinner.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Music, Mystery, and Meddling Kids

Started off a gorgeous, sunny morning with Scooby Doo and the Music of the Vampires. In one of the strangest animated movies Mystery Inc has ever done, Velma brings the gang to a vampire convention that's under attack by an anti-supernatural southern bigwig looking to get into politics. And he's the least of their problems. The sponsor of the convention is low on money. His books on "old-fashioned" vampires aren't selling in the wake of newer-style, more romantic horror tales, and he badly needs this to be a success to pay off the woman who owns the midway. When he brings the kids to a performance by a stage troupe which is more-or-less a vampire cult, their over-dramatic show seems to bring a real vampire to life...and he wants Daphne for his bride! Meanwhile, Shaggy thinks he's been bitten by a vampire and goes into hiding and Freddie is hell-bent on being the next great vampire hunter. And yes, everyone sings, including the members of Mystery Inc.

This is a very odd attempt to send up two genres that are inexplicably popular with modern teenagers - the musical and romantic horror like the Twilight series. It didn't really work. Not only are both obvious and frequently-hit targets, but the music is unmemorable, and just doesn't sound right coming from Shaggy and Scooby. Not to mention, there's the stage troupe that insist on "living" their roles as vampires. And the kids are right - the set-up is too elaborate for words, or even for this particular cartoon. I don't recommend this one unless you or your kids are big Scooby fans and must see all the movies. Try the earlier movies or the cartoon sets first.

Went to the gym after the movie was over. I had a nice, sweaty 20-minute run on the elliptical machine. I saw a familiar face on Channel 3's Talk Philly show as I puffed. Peter Tork was one of the people interviewed today. I wish I could have heard what they said, but I didn't rent earphones. I know they did show segments from the original Monkees TV show and a few concerts.

After the gym, I went straight to work. I badly needed my paycheck and to do this week's grocery shopping. I had no sugar or buttermilk left, and my powdered sugar was low, too. I found shrimp on sale (the only meat I bought this week). I had coupons for Craisins, Smart Balance spread, and applesauce. There were good sales on eggs and Acme's generic "Essential Everyday" Honey Bunches of Oats, and I treated myself to another bag of those limited edition mint-dark-chocolate chips.

After I got home, I unloaded everything and had a quick lunch, then made a quick errand run around the neighborhood. A brief stop at Doria's Deli revealed the last of their 69 cent muffin cups had been purchased yesterday. Oh well. I'd have to get them at the Acme. I hurried off to the bank to deposit my paycheck, then to WaWa for skim milk and a pretzel.

I hung out and listened to music until it was time to go to work. Work was busy all night, but thankfully, other than some annoying beginning-of-the-month people, there were no major problems. I got out with enough time to pick up those muffin cups and something else I forgot when I was at the Acme earlier.

And I have a much better schedule this week, the best I've had in months. Tuesday and Thursday off, nothing earlier than 1 or later than 7:30. Good. I'll still be able to get some things done.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Balance and the Family Get-Together

I slept until nearly 10, then had a late breakfast and finished the Scooby Doo cartoons. While the majority of the episodes on the Around the World set came from The Scooby Doo Show, a couple came from it's late-70s follow up that introduced Scrappy Doo, and the last was from the early 80s New Scooby Doo Mysteries featuring Scrappy, Scooby, and the gang. Scrappy doesn't bother me, but I know how other people feel about him, so if you have problems with him you might want to stay clear of some of the shows on the second disc.

Scrappy did figure into one of my favorite episodes on the second disc, the New Scooby Doo Mysteries two-parter "The Ghost of the Ancient Astronauts." You read the title right. Velma's archeologist Uncle Cosmo discovers a jewel that will lead to a treasure guarded by the ghosts of thousand-year-old astronauts. A female smuggler and her men are after the jewel and the treasure, too. Mystery Inc finally solves the case...with a little unexpected help from space creatures!  (And yes, it does feel like George Lucas saw it before making Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.)

Another good one was the earlier "The Ozark Witch Switch" from the mid-70s show. The gang take shelter from a storm in a cabin that belongs to a family of hillbillies. They believe the ancestress of their feuding ancestors has come back to life to turn them into frogs. They seem to be right, until Scooby and the gang find out what she's really after.

I finally headed out around 12:30. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteer session there. It was fairly busy despite being a gorgeous day. The big clouds in the sky were holding off, leaving sunshine and fresh wind. I had other things to do today, so I just did a quick check on the DVDs and organized the children's picture books.

It was a lovely day for a ride to Haddonfield. The back bike tire had been rubbing against the frame ever since Richard changed my tire last month. He said he thought he might have knocked it out of alignment. After several wrong turns, I finally made it to King's Highway and the Freestyle Bike Shop. The boy needed all of a few seconds to tighten the tire. (The back tire is really too wide, but it was the only tire I could find when I changed it.) A little oil, and I was on my way.

I had expected fixing the bike to take a LOT longer. I had more time for a decent lunch. The trouble was, I didn't have a lot of money on me, especially if I wanted to do yoga later. I rode down Haddon Avenue. Checked a nice little coffee shop with lots of people eating outside, but they had $6.40 for a slice of quiche! No way. Maybe on a day when I had money to burn. I moved on and over the train bridge into less-tony Westmont.

Most of the restaurants in Westmont are attached to bars. Westmont is one of the few towns in this area that allows liquor. (In fact, the only other one is Oaklyn.) I did finally find three in the same strip mall as the Yogo Factory. Opted for the pizzeria, Finzio's. They were pretty much a smaller version of Tu Se Bella in Audubon, with slices of gourmet pizza tantalizingly calling on the counter and seating in front and to the side.

I sat in the seat directly behind the TV. Ordered a slice of white pizza with orange-ish chicken and peppers and a large bottle of water. I ended up needing the water. That chicken was HOT! And I don't mean temperature-hot. I mean melt-your-mouth-kill-your-tongue SPICY! I hate spicy food. Turns out it was buffalo chicken. I picked it off and hastily ate the rest.

Good thing I planned on visiting Primo's Water Ice on the next block anyway. A small chocolate-peanut butter cup went a long way to soothing my fiery mouth and running nose. I love their water ice, and this one was divine, nice and soothingly chocolatey, with real chunks of peanut butter. The girl at the counter said the director of the movie Tuesday at Morrie's once tried some and loved it.

After a quick stop at Walgreens', I moved on to the Collingswood Library for some more volunteering. This time, there wasn't much to do. I shelved a Wii title and a few movies. School was out by then, and there were a lot of people around, too many to get much else done. I browsed in a guide book on New York City until it was time for yoga.

I enjoyed yoga class today. It was a smaller class today, only five people with the teacher Lee, and two were new. We concentrated on basic standing and balancing poses. I really like the afternoon Basic and Gentle classes better. It's easier to concentrate when there's fewer people in the room, and going slower makes it more intense. I never sweat this much in the morning classes! I had a nice chat with Lee after class about getting out of the Acme and trying to meet people, too.

Dad had called during my class. I called him back while I was outside, but got the answering machine. I decided to swing by Uncle Ken's house anyway. I hadn't seen him and Jodie in a while. I rode through Newton River Park, enjoying the lovely weather. I dodged dog-walkers and teenagers on their way home from sports practices.

Dad, Jodie, Rose, and Khai were all in the driveway when I arrived. Dad and Jodie were having pizza, and Rose and Khai were visiting. Did I want to join them? Sure, why not? I didn't have any big dinner plans. We chatted over pizza and mozerella sticks. Khai went in the pool for a little while. Dad opened the pool last week, and it's still really cold, barely in the 70s. Khai had a wonderful time splashing about, but his lips were blue when his mother and grandmother finally pulled him out. We warmed him up over slices of mushroom and cheese and episodes of Team Umazoomi and Jeopardy!

I finally left after Jeopardy! They mentioned during the show that a thunderstorm was headed this way. Indeed, there were dark clouds rushing in, even as I swiftly got my bike home. Someone must have read the radar wrong. At press time, I haven't seen anything but clouds and wind.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Dog, the Kids, and the Witches

I ran more Scooby Doo as I had breakfast and got ready to head out late this morning. I didn't have to work until 5:30, so there was plenty of time to do what I had to do. Of course, I lost my keys and ended up spending twenty minutes looking for them. I can't lose my keys. Miss Ellie had the other set of house keys, and she's not there anymore. I have no idea if Andrew knows where they are in her house, or when Andrew and Linda are at their home a few blocks down. I eventually found them in the pocket of the capris I wore yesterday. Boy, do I still feel silly.

I lost so much time, I opted to move the planned run to the Oaklyn Library tomorrow and just did the other two errands I needed to get done. The first was a really big one. When I was on vacation, I got a form from the insurance company that said they couldn't process my claim for the orthopedics until they had more information. I needed the doctor to do the other side of the papers. Trouble is, the Camden County Foot and Ankle Center moved to Haddon Heights in December. Between my vacation and them being farther away, I'd just put off going up there.

Turns out the Foot and Ankle Center moved into the same building as Haddon Imaging, where I rode last fall to see if they'd check out my foot.  I found them easily once I knew where to look. The lobby alone was twice the size of the one in Oaklyn - no wonder they moved. Caroline the receptionist let me sign my part right there in the lobby. She said all Dr. Berlin needed to do was sign it, and she'd fill out the rest. She swore she'd send it out tomorrow and my orthopedics would arrive in a few weeks.

Rode straight to Lucile Roberts in Audubon for my first gym session this week. It was really, really quiet when I came in and did my 20 minutes on the stationary bike. By the time I was finishing on the leg weight machines, there were a few people in the weight machine area and no one on the cardio machines. I'll have to remember to come to the gym in mid-afternoon more often.

After I finished, I went home to have leftovers for lunch, bake Ginger Cookies (made with fruit concentrate and applesauce), and watch Scooby Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster. The second Cartoon Network-made live-action Scooby film takes the gang to Daphne's playboy uncle's (Ted McGinty) country club, where they all have jobs for the summer. A monster in the lake by the club appears and scares off all the guests, and may force the closure of the club...and the loss of the kids' jobs...if they don't find out what's really behind its appearance. Meanwhile, the kids are remembering they're teenagers with raging hormones. As in the current animated version, Daphne and Fred are chasing each other, Shaggy's chasing Velma, and Scooby's just wishes Shaggy would notice him. Velma's acting peculiar, even for her, and her behavior may be the key to finding out what the lake monster is and who controls it.

I was impressed. This was a really cute movie, and the closest to the cartoon of the four live-action Scooby Doo films. A leap ahead of the original Cartoon Network film, and more fun than either of the theatrical Scooby movies, too. For one thing, this is only about the second or third time in the entire Scooby franchise I've seen a story revolve around Velma, one of my favorite characters. (I'm also fond of Shaggy and Scooby.) Shaggy's fantasies of wooing Velma were totally adorable. I loved his vaudevillian "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," complete with barbershop quartet and Velma in a fancy dress and parasol. There were lots of gags from the original show incorporated (look for the famous in-and-out-of-doors routine towards the end). The music video representing the styles of 1969 through the early 90s at the end had nothing to do with anything but was enjoyable anyway. I still say you're better off with the original cartoon to introduce kids to Scooby, but if you or your kids ever catch this on DVD or Cartoon Network, you could do far worse.

Ran off to work as soon as the cookies were out of the oven. Work was busy for most of the night; we're still in the beginning of the month. Alas, I had to deal with some fairly obnoxious people. One woman gave me such a hard time over a meat sale and a sale on soda, even the people behind her complained. Another group bickered loudly the entire time they were in the store. They called a truce on the noise after they got up to me, but they were still sniping at each other. Thank heavens I didn't have many hours anyway and was able to get off with no problems.