Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Way Out West In Haddonfield

Started a gorgeous spring day with an early run to the Haddon Township Library. I had counseling at noon today, so I headed to the library around 9:30 to catch them as they opened. Newton River Park looked stunning in its shiny green carpet. I dodged quite a few walkers and joggers, too. I couldn't blame them. While it was still windy and a little chilly, the sun was warm, and it wasn't quite as cold as yesterday.

The Library was actually pretty busy for having just opened. I finished organizing the kids' DVDs as well as I could just as they started Storybook Hour. I couldn't even get all of the adult titles on the shelves. They're still overflowing. Another volunteer said they weeded out the A-L titles, but were told to stop before they did the S-Z and foreign ones. I had more luck shelving children's books.

I didn't take out any movies this week - I didn't watch two of the three I took out last week - but I did take out books. I found a book on dealing with the recession for women that was written when it started in 2008, Don't Get Caught With Your Skirt Down, a Josefina cookbook, and two AG books about best friend characters, Ivy Ling the Chinese-American gymnast in the 70s and Emily Bennett, the London evacuee during World War II.

Went straight to Haddonfield after leaving the library for counseling. We mainly discussed my busy couple of weeks, the discovery of Josefina, and my upcoming plans. It may be a good thing that I'm not getting together with Lauren until next month and have no major plans for this month. Last year, I got together with Lauren in May, when my hours were just starting to drop dramatically. A month later, I took three days off in a row, two of which were devoted to my brother's visit from the Navy. I doubt anything like that will be happening now. Neither set of parents have any money, one sister is still out of work, the other is devoting her energy to getting her new home together, and my brother won't have leave for at least a year.

I also explained how little I know about money. I come from an area where few year-round residents actually have any, unless they own a profitable business in the shore towns or are in government or health-related work. I grew up among surf bums, fishermen, teachers who had to take a second job during the summer, and people who either worked for small businesses or ran one of their own, like Mom. Shore towns do not have the world's most stable economies. Recession? Pffft. I've been in one most of my life.

Trouble was, what little money we had tended to get spent as soon as it came in, and my parents never had luxuries like health insurance. Though Mom had me start a savings account as soon as I was 16 and babysitting, what little money I had to put in there was either given to me by Dad or money from rare summer jobs. I briefly had a savings account in Wildwood, but I hardly touched it, and Crest Savings Bank eventually closed it for lack of use. I wouldn't have another savings account until 2011.

My parents have done a lot for me, but their finances aren't much more stable than mine. They all mean well, but my only parent who ever had a steady job was Bruce's wife Kaye...who died over a decade ago of cancer. Mom hated the steady job she had at Michael's. Bruce and Bill are sailors, a freelance cruise ship captain and commercial fishing captain respectively. Lucrative work when you can get it, but dangerous and with no health or retirement benefits, and not exactly steady income. Bruce is in his late 60s, Bill's in his mid 50s, and both still work regularly. They can't afford not to.

I need to learn more about handling money and how not to end up where I did in the fall again. That was not the first time I found myself broke after the summer doldrums. The reason I started that savings account in the first place was I was incredibly broke during the later summer and fall of 2010. The same thing happened in 2008. There isn't much I can do about my hours going down in the summer - we really aren't that busy - but I can teach myself how to make sure I can get through it financially.

After counseling, I rode over to the pizza parlor near the bus/train terminal in Haddonfield for lunch. I had a slice of cheese pizza, a slice of white broccoli pizza, and a bottle of water in a mostly quiet restaurant. There were two other gentlemen finishing their lunches, the employees, and that was it. After I finished, I went home the way I came, swinging by Dollar Tree for jelly, coconut, vinegar, and soap, before heading home.

Spent the rest of the afternoon baking. I experimented with that Alton Brown "Old School Muffin" recipe first. I once again reduced the liquid, replaced some sugar with fruit concentrate and some regular flour with whole wheat, and swapped the two eggs and egg yolk for two egg whites. Added coconut and sliced strawberries to make Coco-Berry Muffins. Oooh, yum! They came out a little softer than the last ones, but just as sweet and moist.

My Coconut Vanilla Cookies came out so well last week, I once again experimented with cookies from a cake mix. This time, I added egg whites, wheat germ, peppermint extract, and canola oil to a box of Dark Chocolate cake mix to make Dark Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies. I overdid the oil, but other than that, the cookies came out beautifully, soft and minty.

Ran the Bowery Boys movie Dig That Uranium while I baked. The Boys' second western begins more realistically, with a friend of theirs selling them on a uranium mine that may not be quite real. While the boys chase the uranium and imagine themselves as "The Lone Disarrangers," a group of local con-men overhear them talking and think they have a real mine on their hands. They follow them in the hope that they'll lead them to their claim.

This was the last series entry for Bernard Gorcey (who died in a car accident shortly after shooting) and Bennie Bartlett (who left show business). It's not the best episode in the world, but it does have some fun moments, including Louie's card game with the con men and Sach's "Lone Disarrangers" dream sequence.

I jumped right into the bath after the cookies came out of the oven. That felt so nice. I wasn't all that impressed with Don't Get Caught With Your Skirt Down. Written by the wife of an economist who owns her own business right after the recession tanked, while some of the suggestions still make sense today (like living below your means), others (like putting all your money outside of the US or buying everything in bulk) seem a little panic-y and unrealistic for people who don't have the room or need for huge purchases or the money to invest in any country.

Switched to a couple of Three Stooges western shorts while making flounder, steamed asparagus, and "calabacitas" (spinach, onion, and chili cooked together - I left out the chili, but it was still quite good) for dinner. Curly, Larry, and Moe are a couple of "Horses' Collars" when they head out west to help a young woman retrieve the IOU for her ranch. The trio move to the modern west when they think Curly's gold-finding machine will help them dig up a mine in "Cactus Makes Perfect." Shemp joins in as we go back in history "Out West." The boys head west in order to heal the bad vein in Shemp's leg, but they find themselves caught up in helping a young saloon owner and her boyfriend get her holdings back.

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