Friday, November 30, 2007

The Holiday Season Begins

Just did some small things this morning. Ran the videos back to the Oaklyn Library; they were a day late, and I had to pay a dollar each for them. I did some stuff online. I made snowflakes for the windows. I didn't quite have the chance to finish the snowflakes before I went to work. I still have four more to do; I'll do them Monday.

I feel really silly. I thought I was supposed to work at 3:30 today, but it turns out I was due at 3PM. It was so dead, I couldn't even pick up the extra half-hour afterwards - for once, we had more help than we needed. I don't know why I wrote down "3:30" instead of "3PM" on my wipe board. Janice took it really well, but I DID lose money.

Oooh, it's Christmas now! WOGL is playing the original Bing Crosby "White Christmas" on the radio, and for my money, it's not officially the Christmas season until you hear Bing sing "White Christmas" on the radio.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Falling Leaves Drift By My Window

Spent this morning raking the leaves from the side path leading to my apartment. There's lots and lots of trees surrounding the house, and it was an ankle-deep mess. It took about an hour, and another twenty minutes to sweep the porch. The leaves here have mostly hit their peak. Some are still pretty, but most are largely brown and either on the ground or pretty close. My landlady pays me $10 an hour for raking the yard, so I earned ten bucks, but more importantly, got the leaves out of the way. Yeah, the money's nice...but you wade through ankle-deep leaves and heavy sticks with bad knees and see how much fun you have. I got sick of tripping over those two little stumps by the gutter again, and I don't want anyone else tripping on them, either.

The rest of the day was much quieter. I ran to CVS for some shampoo, and ended up with another photo album so I could finally get last summer's pictures (from the trip to New England and my little nephew's birthday party) off the baker's rack.

Oh, and I did something new with my WebKinz. I started a garden. A friend sent me packets of "seeds" - strawberries, pumpkins, watermelon, corn, and cabbage. I bought Miles and Rosie a yard. Half the yard is devoted to outdoor items, like a barbecue and a trampoline. The other half is our very own garden! Right now, we're in the midst of cultivation. It'll probably be a while before we're ready for harvesting.

Oh, and I've tried a couple of other arcade games. My best by far is Tulip Trouble 2. I can get up to about level 15. I also get a kick out of the batter game (I forget the name), even though I don't get much money from it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We Did It!

As Dora the Explorer often says, "We did it!" Lauren and I completed the NaNoWrite program this month with our Monkees role-play story. Since we'd planned on making this a long story anyhow and have been writing so much lately, we figured...why not? Lauren will be posting the rest of the story and a short comic epilogue at our site tonight.

That's not the only thing I've found I can do lately. I'm getting a LOT better at pilates. Unlike yoga, pilates mat work doesn't require a lot of trying to hold poses. With yoga, I'll fall over because my balance isn't great, but with pilates, you just bend and move. I can do all of the beginner moves listed in the book, most of the intermediate, and about a quarter of the advanced. Compare this to when I first began in May, when I could barely pull myself into crunch positions and could do the beginner, a few intermediate, and one advanced move.

I spent the morning and early afternoon finishing my Christmas decorating. I put up all of the small items, the cardboard cut-outs, the displays on my baker's rack, the doll/Santa statue display on the top of my bookcase, and the small tree (complete with tiny glass balls and a mini string of non-operational lights) on the top of the shelves where my Sailor Moon and Care Bear toys are. Everything looks as good as it's gonna get for now.

After I finished with the decorations and had lunch, I headed over to the Haddon Township Branch of the Camden County Library for my first volunteering session since mid-November. I did books on surviving natural disasters, learning about and healing personal problems like family and drug abuse, and began the true crime. What a mess THAT was! I guess the just-past hurricane season had everyone worried. I eventually took out two Disney comic books, a book on job hunts, and two of the three American Girls holiday books I've never read, Josephina's Surprise and Addy's Surprise. I've read all of Addy's books but the last one, but this is the first I've read in Josephina's series.

I did some quick shopping after leaving the library. Looked for Christmas gifts, but didn't see anything I liked. When I came home, I did my pilates and had a cozy chili and pear muffin dinner.

Oh, and I talked to my sister Rose today. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing for Christmas; I may try to get together with her and her boyfriend, since that worked well at Easter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sharing the Joy Of Christmas

After my heavy bout with self-pity yesterday, I woke up this morning deciding that this couldn't continue. I love Christmas. I love the hullabaloo of the holidays. I always have. Just because one side of the family is busy and not too happy with each other, I barely know the other half, and most of my friends don't live in the area is no reason not to celebrate. It'll be hard for me to remember this. I get so down sometimes. I've never been very good at changing or doing things differently, but I'm working on it.

I cheered myself up with some Nick Jr. and TV Land while the laundry was running and Dad put up the lights on their house. (He's going on a work trip next week and the lights seem to be his responsibility. I offered to help. He said he was fine.)

Dora the Explorer played doctor today and administered band-aids and lollipops to friends with sniffles and booboos, including helping my personal favorite of her pals, sweet blue big guy Benny the Bull, learn about allergies. We also learned how to treat other minor injuries and illnesses, from cuts to thorns (I felt for that poor crocodile who had seven thorns in his tail - ouch!).

Go Diego Go! headed back to the ocean for a fairly typical tale of how Diego helped the King of the Humpbacked Whales get out from under a shipwreck. Obviously, Humpback whales were the featured animal of the day; the finale, in which you call a group of whales to help the king by "singing," was really fun.

The Backyardigans went on one of my favorites of their adventures, the hilarious Cops and Robots. Galactic gumshoes Sergent Tyrone and Officer Uniqua pursue "bad bots" Pablonater and T-900 (Tasha) in a great spoof of buddy-cop programs and space operas. If the "bad bots" make their way into the Robot Factory, they'll turn all the robots bad...but you really can't stop those cops! The jugband music in this one is some of the most infectious of the entire series. I'll probably be singing "Can't Stop the Cops" for days. "We're the best in the galaxy!"

I decided to perk up my flagging holidays by inviting my teen stepsister Jessa over to my apartment to help me decorate my tree. It was one of the best ideas I had in a long time. We both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Quiet, artsy Jessa was not only an enjoyable companion, she was a BIG help with the tree and dressing and putting up my Christmas bears. We did both in half the time, and other than the lights got a bit bunched up around the bottom, they look fantastic. I'm just glad the lights work at all. I could have sworn one set blew out last year, but maybe it was the other one...

A word about the bears. Every year, starting in the mid-80s, Mom would pluck about five or six stuffed bears and holiday-related stuffed animals from our rooms and dress them in old scarves, hats, and Christmas baby clothes. (One elf-like costume is Mom-made, from the year Anny was in the West Cape May Christmas Parade.) She set them up on her old hope chest next to the tree, and they'd remain there for the whole of the holiday season (including New Year's, when the woolen hats would be replaced with cardboard and aluminum tiaras and top hats).

By the time I was in college, however, Mom had largely stopped doing the bears, or would only pull out a few. She no longer had the time or the patience for a fairly elaborate display, so she gave the holidays-only bears and their trappings to me. I loved the idea, but not having a hope chest, I had no idea where to put them...until I realized the area under the tree seemed a little barren. The bears have sat under my tree every year since.

I'll continue my holiday decorating spree tomorrow with the rest of my decorations, including the mini-tree and Winter Cinderella doll who stands with my Sailor Moon collection and the doll/Santa display on top of the big bookshelf in my room.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gloomy Day

Today was dark and damp. We need the rain, but it didn't improve my mood. There's really only one thing I want this Christmas, and that's for everyone I love to be together, with me, in one place. Trouble is, everyone I love is so far away - in New England, in Georgia, in Cape May County, in Vineland and Wildwood and Colorado - and I can't get to them and most of them can't get to me and have families. I'm not sure I even want to visit my parents in Cape May County. I love them and I miss them, but they're moving. You don't visit people less than two weeks after they've moved!

I know a lot of people are alone on holidays, but I want to SEE them. I want to hear them, to talk to them, to BE with them. I want to sing Christmas carols and decorate the tree with people. I know, I know, everyone is there in spirit, I know gods are with me, etc. Why can't I feel that?

I'm not feeling very much in the holiday spirit right now, despite taking out A Child's Christmas In Wales and two rare holidays specials, Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales and How the Toys Saved Christmas from the Oaklyn Library. Work didn't improve my mood. We were short-staffed and two people called out. A good three-fourths of what's working now are teenagers who are nice kids but don't know what they're doing.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Spent the morning dusting the music, dining, and TV areas of the living room and putting up the Christmas garlands, wreath, and nativity. It takes me far less time to dust the living room area than it does my bedroom, mainly because there's a lot less stuff out there!

Mom gave me the garlands a few months before I moved. She always puts garlands of fake greenery, ribbons, bows, and strings of beads over the windows at her house, but she'd gotten tired of doing every window in the house over the years and decided to give some of the garlands to me. I can kind of understand her frustration. The garlands are pain in the rear to tack up, but the effect is wonderful when it's finally done. Mom gave me the wreath for an early Christmas present the year I moved. The nativity is dark and somewhat grimy but very old. According to Mom, it was one of the items she got from her mother when SHE moved on her own. She and my stepdad bought a newer, brighter nativity a few years ago and gave the old one to me. It goes on the top of the video drawers.

Called my stepdad right before going to work. He seemed to be all right, maybe because he was the only one at home. Mom and Keefe seemed to have gone to work on the new house. He was watching the New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings game and just kicking back; he's a huge Giants fan. (And ouch - I just checked the score, and it seems the Giants got ripped big-time, 41-17. Poor Daddy! I wanna hug him now.)

(On the other hand, the Eagles are 7-7 at press time against the 10-0 New England Patriots. Just the fact that we actually scored a touchdown against them, in the first quarter, no less, makes me happy even if we don't win.)

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - steady, long lines only because we were severely short on help. As nice as full-time hours would be all the time, I think only head people and head managers are full time. I think most cashier positions are part-time. Even some of the cashiers who have literally been there for decades are only part-time!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christmases Come In All Shapes And Sizes

Watched the other two items I received from Linda today, the first Christmas episode of the 1970s Depression-set drama The Waltons, "The Best Christmas," and "Merry Christmas, Bogg" from the early 80s family action show Voyagers!. The Waltons, a Tennessee mountain Depression-era family, want to get together on Christmas Eve for a big family gathering, but a huge blizzard and various crises conspire to keep everyone apart. The entire family does finally make it home...and learns that even when families are apart, they're together.

I'd never seen or heard of the little-known, short-lived Voyagers!, which appears to be a family-oriented cross between MacGyver and Quantum Leap with a history bent. An orphan kid and a soldier of fortune travel across time, righting historic discrepancies and teaching the audience a little about the history of whatever time they're in on the way. In the holiday episode, they help George Washington right before the crossing of the Delaware and aid Samuel Gumphers in the beginning of the American Labor Movement. Exciting, fun, and original, I'm surprised this show didn't last longer but apparently was up against stiff competition, including 60 Minutes.

I headed to work after watching The Care Bears this morning. Work was steady-to-dead, and the lines were only backed up because we were still short on help, thanks to the holidays and scheduling snafus. They actually asked me to stay an extra hour...and I would have, if I hadn't worked so many hours earlier in the week. Turned out I'm at the limit for part-time workers and legally CAN'T work more hours this week!

I dusted my bedroom after I got home, which badly needed it. I usually just dust around the Star Wars action figures and the porcelain dolls and collectible bears on the top of the closets, but I actually did under them today...and boy, were they dusty! I can't remember the last time I cleaned under them. I'll do the living room/dining room area and put up the garlands tomorrow. The tree will go up Tuesday.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Christmases Past, Present, and Future

I was finally able to open another present from Linda Young today. This one contained several holiday-related DVDs. The first one was The Snowman, the gentle, dialog-less 1982 animated short about a little boy who builds a snowman whom he befriends. He introduces his frosty pal to the delights of a typical middle-class British home, while Mr. Snowman takes the little boy to the North Pole to revel with other snowmen and to meet Santa Claus himself. This was a frequent cable favorite of many an 80s child, with lovely, colored pencil animation and a gorgeous score, and I was glad to see it again.

The animated Rankin-Bass special 'Twas The Night Before Christmas was the other item I watched this morning. It's a cute bit of holiday fluff that somehow turns the famous Clement C. Moore poem into the tale of a brainy little mouse who almost ruins a whole Victorian town's Christmas by writing Santa a letter claiming he doesn't believe in him. One of Rankin-Bass's lesser efforts, but charming, with some very nice music.

I checked out the three Christmas-related documentaries when I got back from work and finished vacuuming the apartment and doing the windows. Christmas Past, about English Christmas traditions, was the most fascinating. The English have many wonderful memories and traditions that never really made it to this side of the Atlantic. I loved hearing stories about pantomimes, crackers, Christmas for servants on an English estate, and Christmas for evacuated London children during World War II.

I already knew most of what was covered in the other two, the History Channel's Christmas Unwrapped and the syndicated special TV Guide Looks At Christmas, but it was cool to see them anyway. I especially liked the clips from 60s and 70s variety programs in the TV Guide special. I was born in 1979, as variety shows were dying on TV, and very few of them are on video or DVD. I actually have the soundtrack to the Judy Garland variety special shown on this documentary, and I'd love to see and hear the Perry Como and Bing Crosby specials, too!

My Black Friday could have been worse. No, I did not attempt shopping today. Thank goodness no one I know asked for electronics or fancy toys! I did do some grocery shopping after work today. Work was a bit of a pain, VERY short staffed, and with lots of customers who were grouchy from overeating and the traffic around the malls.

I got some pre-holiday cleaning done when I got in, and I took down the Thanksgiving decorations in the hope I'd actually get them up tonight. Never got close. I was too pooped after I did the windows and never even got to dusting. I'll see what I can do tomorrow.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

We Gather Together

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans! I opened my Thanksgiving with Garfield's Thanksgiving, a 1991 tale of everyone's favorite fat cat going on a diet the day before the holiday, even as his owner invites the vet who made the diet decree over for the Thanksgiving feast. Other than featuring a rare appearance by Grandma (of the Christmas special), the third Garfield holiday special isn't nearly as memorable as the first two but is recommended as one of the only Thanksgiving specials on DVD.

After Garfield, I did something I haven't done in about four years. I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in it's entirety. I don't have cable, but I can get CBS on my TV on a good day, and this morning was a good day. It was windy here but apparently far less so in New York, lower-mid 60s and just gorgeous. There were absolutely no problems with CBS' telecast this morning, other than if they showed another stupid soap opera star, I was going to scream. I HATE soap operas. Couldn't they have shown another Broadway production number in addition to the "Spamalot" number (which was hilarious)? Other than that complaint, I loved the parade. Coolest balloon by far was Hello Kitty in her awesome little superheroine outfit.

After reading Matt's annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade review at X-Entertainment (he always reviews a parade from the 80s or early 90s on Thanksgiving eve), I went over to Bruce and Ken's house for dinner around 1PM...only to find dinner wasn't until 5. I ended up spending most of the afternoon playing Mario Party 2, a board game-style video game for the Nintendo 64, with my adopted stepsister Jessa, and later our cousin Taylor.

I came down first so Jessa could get dressed (she was still in her pajamas when we played games). I watched the very end of the Packers/Lions game with Bruce, Jodie, Taylor's dad Jim, stepmom Karen, Karen's 1 and 1/2-year-old son C.J, and a couple of Jodie's teenage sons. We ate shortly after the girls, including a dressed Jessa, joined us. Dinner was wonderful. We had turkey, stuffing, creamed pearl onions, broccoli, corn, cole slaw, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, butter, Uncle Ken's apple pie, and my cranberry bread and the gingerbread cookies I made this morning, and everything was wonderful. I even took a big platter of food home for the weekend (I'll probably make most of it into turkey chili).

I watched my new A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving DVD when I got home. Tomboyish Peppermint Patty, her shy best pal Marcie, their mutual black guy friend Franklin, and "Little Birdie" Woodstock make their debuts in this special. Peppermint Patty talks her, Marcie, and Franklin's way into dinner at Charlie Brown's house. Trouble is, Chuck is about 10 years old and is eating at his grandmother's this year. He, Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock make a small "dinner" of popcorn, toast, pretzels, and candy, but Peppermint Patty is offended. Where's the real dinner? It's Marcie and Linus who remind their best friends of why we REALLY celebrate this holiday.

The second special also dealt with the true meaning of the holiday. The Mayflower Voyagers came from the 1989 series of Peanuts US history specials This Is America, Charlie Brown. It covered the real (more-or-less) history of the Pilgrims, from leaving London to the first Thanksgiving. While drier than Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, there's also more action, and it's nice to hear about a part of American history that doesn't often get covered outside of New England.

I'm thankful I opted to stay here this year. I have to work early tomorrow (8:30AM), and as much as I love the other side of the family, that move really has them frazzled. I called Mom this morning. She was cleaning the house while my stepdad and brother were the annual high school football game. Apparently, they've had some trouble lately; two nights ago, one of the kids in their neighborhood accidentally ran into Mom's parked car. Not only does she love her car and it's no longer being made, but the front of the car was totaled and the kid and his single mother have no money. Yes, the kid will have to pay some damages (and lose a license he'd just gotten), but it sounds like they'll have to pay, too.

Plus, they're supposed to move to a fairly remote area of Lower Township in about three weeks to a month. Mom says it's because Dad doesn't want to wait, but as with when we moved around Christmas when I was 11, it's just poor timing on both their parts and a lack of communication. Dad's impatient and Mom's bossy, and they both assume that one will want what the other wants...without talking it over.

I guess I'm just feeling a bit confused lately. I love both sides of the family, but I feel left out on one side and I don't know the other well. None of my close friends live around here, though I am thankful for all of them. I'm thankful for them, and for everyone who reads this blog, and for being able to lose 40 pounds (as of Monday, anyway), and that I'm healthy and living in a nice apartment with a nice landlady on a nice street. I just wish I could do more.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bless the Turkeys and the Children

The day before Thanksgiving dawned sunny, breezy, and actually a bit TOO warm for this time of year...but that was good enough for me to run to the Oaklyn Library and return The Thanksgiving Treasure, Christmas In America, and Cranberry Thanksgiving. On my way to the library, I passed a gaggle of preschoolers from the little preschool on West Clinton Avenue and their teachers who were on their way to the park next to my apartment. They were so cute. They and their teachers waved to me and said "hi!" I waved back and wished them all a Happy Thanksgiving! Really made my day.

Work was insane busy, with lines into the aisles for most of the night, but I expected that. This IS the day before the biggest food holiday of the year in America! Thank goodness, we seem to have received more turkeys some time this morning and there were no riots. In fact, most people seemed to be in a good mood, and most orders were small ones, just things people forgot.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Cozy Lodge Living Room

Oh, and to cheer myself up last night, I splurged and bought my WebKinz Rose and Miles their new living room. They're going to need a place to put the Christmas tree when it's available! I did it all with a rustic theme, taking some of the country items, some of the pirate items, and the cheapest TV. (Rosie Pony sure seemed to enjoy Monkey & Monkey!)
Turkey Trouble

Thankfully, all I got after last night's brouhaha was another scolding from Jill that pretty much said the same thing as Linda's comments from my last entry - calm down, don't take things so hard, don't be so hard on yourself.

It's a lot easier to remember that when I'm awake. I was tired last night, and I was again tonight. While my temper didn't blow, we did run into a very big problem. We ran out of turkeys. Some of the managers tried to give rain checks, but who wants turkey after the fact? We later found out there'll be a shipment tomorrow morning, but that didn't please a lot of the people who wanted their turkey NOW or were working or busy tomorrow.

I did my laundry and pilates this morning (probably the only time this week I'll be able to fit in pilates, given my long hours). Tried to find out from Bruce when dinner is; all I got was "sometime in the afternoon." Oh, well, I'll go late morning and see what happens. Oh, and I made Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread, with fresh (not dried) cranberries as a thank-you gift to Dad and Jodie for having me over.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Emma and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Day

This was a lousy day at work. People were rude; people were obnoxious. We ran out of large turkeys half-way through and started selling ANY turkeys with the coupons, at ANY size. The lines were long right up until I left at 9:30. I worked 1:30 to 9:30 and was dead tired by then. I wish I was used to working eight hours, but I'm not.

It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't gone and done something stupid about fifteen minutes before I finished. An old man wanted to buy crab legs and a can of crab meat. He got so upset when the crab meat came up what he thought was the wrong price, he refused to sign his credit card slip! No amount of begging or cajoling could get him to do it. He left me standing there with crab legs, crab meat, an open register, and an unsigned credit card receipt.

That cantankerous old jerk was the last straw. I threw the pen across the register. Hard. It thankfully missed the next customer in the line and ended up in the next register! The customer was a familiar face and was really sweet about it, but I felt absolutely horrible...and just felt worse when Jill, the manager in charge, took me out of the line and tried to send me home! I told her I had to stay; I needed the money. Besides, I'd just feel even worse than I already did if I didn't finish my shift, like a real adult.

I'm not a real adult. Real adults don't throw pens when they're upset. They act calmly and rationally. They have husbands, children, and/or pets. They have lives. Their friends live down the street, not across the state or the country. They don't bite their nails and they don't bunk with stuffed animals. They don't come home from work everyday feeling worthless and stupid. They have real jobs, jobs where they sit down and work with their peers and feel respected and wanted.

Why can't I do something right? I'm sure I'm going to get written up now, maybe even suspended. Greg, the other manager on duty, said he had to handle the old guy with the crab after he stormed away from me, and the guy gave HIM just as hard of a time as he gave ME. He STILL wouldn't sign for Greg either...and when Greg finally did get him to sign, he stormed off without anything!

And this at the holidays! Why do people have to be so stressed around the holidays? Why can't they just enjoy themselves?

I wish I could work from home, or at least from somewhere less stressful. Everything went fine at home this morning. I got the bathroom and the kitchen cleaned, and they both needed it badly. (I needed soap, but for some reason, in addition to a run on turkeys, there seems to have been a run on the cheap Ivory soap. Every last bit of it was gone when I went back there, and I wasn't going to chase after it. I guess everyone wants to be REALLY clean for Christmas.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pumpkins and Cranberries...and Little Brothers, Too

First of all...happy birthday to my little brother Keefe, who is 15 today. I can't believe he's fifteen. I called him and Mom this morning to say "hi" and wish him a happy day. He seemed pretty happy. He was in the Halloween Parade in Cape May last month, playing drums with his school marching band, and loved it. Like me, he was never a big trick-or-treat fan, so this was his big Halloween thing.

He said he'd already gotten a call from my stepdad, who is out fishing...and he sang for him. This would be less of a problem if Dad had a decent voice, but he's terrible. He has no sense of pitch whatsoever. I told Keefe it could have been worse. He could have been live.

Most of my day was spent at work (as most of this week but Thanksgiving day will be). A few obnoxious or stressed customers, but nothing bad. It was busy, but busy on-and-off, with some surprising downtime given we're coming up on the biggest food holiday of the year in America.

Oh, yes, and it seems the Eagles did win today, 17-7... but the victory might have been a little sweeter if they hadn't been playing the Miami Dolphins, who were 0-9 going into this game.
Cold Thanksgiving Treat

So, you say you want pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but you don't have the time to make one, or you don't like to bake? Here's a chilly pumpkin pie that's easy and quick to make...and just as tasty as the real thing.

Pumpkin Mousse Pie

1 box Jello Pumpkin Spice Pudding mix
1 cup milk
1 tub non-dairy whipped topping (I used Cool Whip Lite, but any should be fine)
1 pre-prepared 9 inch graham cracker crust (I bought a reduced-fat crust, but you can use any shortbread or graham cracker crust...or your own recipe)

Prepare Pumpkin Mousse as in recipe on side of pudding box. Instead of putting the mousse in glasses, pour it into a 9 inch graham cracker crust. Put it in the freezer for an hour or until firm.

This stuff is so good, I bought three more boxes of pudding and may make it all holiday season long!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Harvest Time

Went to the last Collingswood Farm Market of the season today (the first time I've gotten to the farm market in over a month). Pears are gone, but I bought mushrooms, celery, an onion, a green pepper, sweet potatoes that still have a "fresh from the earth" scent on them, and beautiful little apples. The honey booth, crepes mini-cafe, live music, and a few veggie booths were gone; in their place were several craft booths, though their wares were too expensive for me.

Stopped at the post office to get Christmas stamps; I have bills and holiday cards to mail. The line in the cramped little Oaklyn Post Office was almost out to the door when I arrived! The poor guy (and only guy) working said despite the time of year and the crowds on Saturdays, the post office apparently refuses to hire more help for that day! According to him, several people had already walked away. He's right; they are losing revenue. (I also checked out a church bazaar and a yard sale, but nothing interesting at either place.)

I wasn't surprised that work was very, very busy. People are starting to buy their Thanksgiving dinners this weekend (not to mention food to feed all the guests they'll have NEXT weekend). What DID surprise me was getting my break snack on the store for the second Saturday in a row. They were having a big chili cook-off for employees. No, I didn't join in; it's hard to carry a crock-pot on a bike. I did get to vote, t though, and sample not only the chili, but the cake, fruit, and dip that was also in the back room. (No, my choice didn't win. I was the last voter before they "closed the polls," though.)

I got up early this morning and was fairly tired by the time work ended...or didn't end. I stayed an extra half-hour. Once again, I need the money...but I am tired. I'm not entirely happy with next week's hours, either. Thanksgiving is my only day off, and I begin work at 8:30AM the day after...Black Friday, one of the quietest days of the year. Who wants to go grocery shopping the day after Thanksgiving? All the older women and mothers must have decided they wanted to hit the Black Friday sales for their kids and grandkids and requested the day or morning off.

Oh, and my WebKinz are both very happy. Not to be obvious, but Rosie Pony eats like a horse...and she eats a lot more than Miles! I may have to buy a second fridge just for her and put it in her room. ;)

Friday, November 16, 2007

In The Pink

Today went much better than yesterday. I went to the Acme to get my paycheck, then headed to the shopping center behind it to pick up some birthday and Christmas gifts. I got my little brother Keefe's birthday present at FYE...and ended up picking MYSELF up something as well. It seems FYE was having a 2 for 25 sale on WebKinz. I'd wanted to buy one for a Christmas gift why not do the sale and get me an early Christmas present?

Yes, this Rose, Miles' glittery pink pony sister. Why a pony? I had no stuffed horses, and I figured, if I was going to go for a horse, why not go all the way? I hate pink, but I loved her eyes. Unlike Miles (or most WebKinz, or most stuffed animals, for that matter), Rose has beautiful blue eyes that are embroidered, not the usual round black button eyes. She does have an awfully short mane and tail, though. My Care Bears will ride her. ;)

Rose is named after my sister Rose. Rose loves horses, fantasy, and used to love pink when she was really little. (She doesn't like it any more than me now. She says her favorite color is blue.) Actually, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree - according to the "biography" given Rosie Pony when I registered her, she loves to ready spooky stories...just like her aunt as a kid. Rosie Pony is now on the desk next to my monitor. (I moved Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars to the shelf where all the other Sailor Soldiers are.)

I wanted to go frilly, but not too frilly...and not too "funky girl," either. There was a gorgeous "golden pink" bed that seemed to suit the bill, and the rest of the furnishings were either the blue stripes, fantasy, or sky themes. Like her "brother," Rose has a treadmill (actually, it was her "exclusive pet gift"), a kid bookshelf, a small table and chair, a toy box, and toys. Her bio says she loves basketball, and I also bought her a doll house, a mystery book, checkers, and the Zangoz Switcherooz game. The bio mentioned she wants to be a singer, so, like any music-inclined young lady, she has a "boy" band poster. Also like her brother, she has three changes of clothing - her "everyday" cool outfit (jeans, sneakers, a cute heart t-shirt with a jacket), a t-shirt (blue), and a polo shirt, along with pajamas (purple stripes) and, of course, a bow.

I went to Wal-Mart after that, but still no inner tubes the right size for the other bike, so I left quickly and stopped at Tu Se Bella Pizzeria for a delicious slice of veggie pizza and a Diet Coke. After lunch, I went to the Acme to do this week's grocery shopping. I ended up getting the Sugar Free Cool Whip for free; Cool Whip is 10 for 10 dollars this week, but for some reason, it ran up regular price. I took it to the counter, and I was right; it was part of the sale. Sweet. I'm going to use the Cool Whip to make a Pumpkin Pudding Pie next week, using the Pumpkin Spice pudding mix Jello put out last year.

I stopped at home long enough to put everything away (thank goodness my kitchen isn't big), and then headed to the bank and the library. Thanks to a snafu, my CDs weren't late at all. I asked the librarians what the best market was for library sciences is these days. Ironically, they said "children's librarians." That's JUST want I want to do! They suggested I e-mail local elementary school librarians for more information. That might not be a bad idea.

I ran a few quick errands after the library. I bought some small items for my sister Anny's birthday present (I didn't really know what to get her), and some Christmas cards, birthday cards, and a Thanksgiving card for my family from Dollar Tree. I stopped at the Rite Aid across from the Westmont Plaza and finally found something I'd wanted - the new Holiday Care Bears Matt mentioned at his blog on X-Entertainment. Unlike Matt, I didn't have the money for three (or the luck to find them with the wrong price), so I just bought one. I could not resist Santa Oopsy. I really like him. The character is such a dear. He doesn't have a real tummy symbol, so he apparently has to draw one (though the symbol on the stuffed Oopsy's tummy is real).

Tomorrow is the last farm market day before it ends for the winter. I hope it's nice. It was cold and very windy today, but the sun would occasionally peek out from behind the heavy clouds, and it never rained. One man I saw at work claimed it may snow tonight. In South Jersey? In November? We occasionally get light snow in December (it happened two years ago, not long before I moved), but I don't ever remember snow in November. I wish people around here didn't panic the moment the thermometer drops under 40 degrees.

Oh, and Lauren and I are working on the story again - she went to a Christmas festival in her hometown and seems to be feeling much better.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

All Alone In The Dark

A fairly dull, depressing day. I awoke to rain and assumed it would be gone by mid-morning. It wasn't, of course. It didn't end until around 4. It rained too hard for me to make it to the library this morning. I spent the morning earning WebKinz cash to buy Miles another room, a living room. Now two CDs I forgot about are late. Oh, well, I'm hopefully off tomorrow, too. I'll go to the library then. I probably won't have the chance to make it next week.

I finally gave up and headed to Collingswood on foot around 12:30. I dropped off another bag of donations at the thrift shop, then had lunch at the Treehouse Cafe on the corner of Haddon Avenue and Collings Avenue. I had an Italian Soda and a warm, wonderful veggie quesadea. "Italian sodas" are just seltzer and flavored syrups; I had a pretty hard walk and wanted something cold. I chose pecan in honor of the Thanksgiving season.

I was slightly late for counseling (lunch took longer than I thought it would), but nothing embarrassing. Scott and I mostly discussed my getting involved with groups...and trying to get around the hurdles that prevent me from joining groups, namely, I'm scared to death of them.

It's impossible to join a group when you don't know the people. It's easier online, when you can't see anyone, but I'm afraid of what people will say or how they'll look at me. And what will I say? I can never think of anything to say to people. I sit there and look like an idiot. It's so much easier to join groups in high school and college, when you know everyone and everyone knows you.

I stopped at WaWa and got a Rice Krispie Treat for a snack and half of a 12 oz hot chocolate (and forgot to get what I went there for, which was milk), then stopped at the Eckard's (it's still Eckard's; the one next to the Acme in Audubon officially switched to Rite Aid a week or so ago) and bought a present for a friend and one of those cheap Advent calenders with the awful plastic-y "chocolate." I toss the chocolate, but it is a simple way of marking the days before Christmas.

I did yoga and had pork and sweet potato stew for dinner, then went online and had a bit of a disappointment. Lauren and I were supposed to work on the role-play tonight, but something came up with her and her dad and she didn't want to come on. I always look forward to our chats and was hoping to talk to her tonight.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Miles' Home

I bought Miles the WebKinz bear his second and third rooms. One is a simple, sky-themed bathroom; the other is a simple kitchen based somewhat after the one in Clue (the movie and the board game). I wanted him to have a place to keep his food and take a bath; the treadmill may be moved into either place as well. I'm going to try to earn enough money to buy him a nice living room next.
Puka Pele!

Laundry day. I did pilates and enjoyed today's B movie series on TCM, The Lone Wolf. The Lone Wolf was one of the numerous "thieves-turned-detectives" who were common in the 30s and 40s programmers (others include Boston Blackie and The Saint, both of which are also running on TCM this month). Warren William and Eric Blore were Michael Lanyard and his valet Jamesion in the movie I saw, the generally entertaining (if improbable even for B films) Lone Wolf Takes A Chance. I believe this was William's last Lone Wolf movie; the series was revived in the late 40s with Gerald Moher as Lanyard and more of a film noir air.

Diego and his sister Alicia headed out west today on Go Diego Go!. The animal of the day was a prairie dog, and the interpret Hispanic pair had to rustle up a prairie dog and her family who were trapped in the dry desert ranchero and find them a new home in the grassy prairies, where they'd have plenty to eat...if they can get past the goofy Bobo Brothers and a cracking dam. There used to be a family of prairie dogs who lived at the Cape May County Zoo, and I have fond memories of their antics.

The Backyardigans headed from Egypt to Hawaii for another exotic adventure. Party-hearty "Luau Brothers" Pablo, Austin, and Tyrone want to hold the Hawaiian bash to end all Hawaiian bashes, but angry "Volcano Sisters" Uniqua and Tasha may end up raining lava on their parade...IF the boys can find what they want. ("Puka Pele!" is the girls' phrase for eruptions.) Trouble is, the girls aren't telling, and Tyrone and Pablo's attempts to bring them lavish gifts are rejected. It's sensitive Austin who finally figures out what it is the girls are after...and teaches both genders two different lessons. Ladies, if you really want something, don't play mind games with the boys; boys, simple gifts and genuine gestures are often more appreciated than all the jewels and decorations in the world. (Incidentally, this is one of the rare later Backyardigans episodes in which all five kids appear, and one of the very few that's boys vs. girls.)

Work was on-and-off busy, with few problems other than one of the turkey coupons acted up a bit again before it was fixed. I also saw a few new cashiers being trained tonight. Only one was old enough for late work, so my hours may not be impacted too harshly. On the other hand, we do need the help, at any age.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mall Madness

Went shopping at the Cherry Hill Mall this morning with my sister Rose. I finally got myself two pairs of pants from Lane Bryant, brown corduroys and dark-blue denims with nifty v-stitching on the pockets. It took a while to find jeans that fit right. For some reason, Lane Bryant's jeans fall under a different size system than their other clothes (or most clothes in other stores, for that matter). Instead of 18, 16, etc, you have 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. I eventually ended up in a 4 petite in jeans and an 18 average in cords, which is definitely good news for someone who was up to a 24 in jeans this time last year.

Rose bought me a pair of black stretch pants to give me for Christmas. I got rid of my last pair of good black pants two years ago because they didn't fit!

(Oh, and according to my scale last night, I lost another pound. I'm back down to 201, which means I've lost 39 pounds since April.)

We also made quick stops at Pacific Sun, Sephora, and Old Navy. Rose wanted to start her Christmas shopping (I'll wait for my trip with Amanda), and she needed a new coat. She got a really cute knee-length gray pea coat at Old Navy.

Work was busy when I came in at 4PM (I hit the after-work rush hour), steady when I left shortly after 8. The worst that happened had nothing to do with customers. The free turkey coupons were acting weird. They kept saying "Not Found" when you typed in the price...even though the price and code were correct! The woman in charge of coupons and pricing wasn't in; hopefully, it'll be fixed by the time I go in tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Holidays' A 'Comin'

Not much going on today. Got called in at 11:30AM and spent most of the rest of the day working. Work was on-and-off busy, which I expected on a rather gloomy day off for most adults (most kids in New Jersey already had Thursday and Friday off due to the NJEA Teacher's Convention and likely had school today).

I think one of the teenage boys threw a penny at my rear end about twenty minutes before I finished. I was tired and leaned over to rest for a second when I felt something small and hard hit my rear for a second and bounce off. Unfortunately, I was too busy to turn around and find out who did it, and the kid was busy when I did turn around. (I did see a few stray pennies on his register later, though.) That boy's known for being a pain-in-the-rear anyway. He's obnoxious and immature; he later boasted about being written up eight times to the cashier behind him.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Victory Eagles

Oh, and I must mention...the Eagles finally won a game, beating the Washington Redskins 23-30 (in a game I didn't get to see because I had to work, but it's still cool)!
The Army's Not The Army Anymore

I salute all Veterans on what was a gorgeous, if chilly, Veteran's Day. As I did on Memorial Day in May, I celebrated by watching the Donald Duck in the army cartoons on The Chronological Donald, Volume 2. Disney did a series of propaganda shorts during World War II featuring everyone's favorite temperamental fowl, including the Oscar-winning (and incredibly surreal) Der Fuhrer's Face, the Donald-nephews home front spoof Home Defense, and my personal favorite, the hilarious The Vanishing Private, where Donald dons the ultimate in camouflage to avoid Sargent Pete.

To be honest, I spent most of today feeling a little down. It's not easy being a single girl during the holiday season. I called my mom to say "hi" and find out what she, my stepdad, and my brother are doing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She was in a very good mood; she was just about to head over to the house she and my stepdad are in the midst of buying and work on painting rooms. It doesn't sound like their really doing much for Christmas, and less for Thanksgiving. I called my sister Rose afterwards to arrange to go shopping this week. She sounds like she's going to try to go down to North Cape May for Thanksgiving or to her boyfriend's; she said she'd probably join friends for Christmas.

I never have handled change well, and I've never really been alone for holidays. I'll probably go to my biological father's across the train tracks for Thanksgiving. I might see if I can go down to Cape May County for Christmas anyway, even if they aren't doing much. I really don't want to spend half of Christmas Day alone and feeling left out and miserable, like I did last year. The morning went well, but once everyone went their separate directions...I didn't have a direction to go in.

What I'd really love is to have someone who could visit ME for the holidays, who could enjoy a meal and some presents and music with me in MY apartment, instead of me having to try to wedge into someone else's holiday.

Work went quickly, but I was depressed and stressed from the long lines and made many mistakes. On the other hand, Danielle, one of our younger managers, called me later and asked me if I wanted to switch my first day off this week from Tuesday to Thursday and take someone's 4-8 hours Tuesday night? Did I ever! I originally asked for Thursday off anyway, but there was a mix-up - I have counseling Thursday!

Lauren and I are working on an extra-long Monkees role-play story for NaNoWrite this month. Part of it has already been posted - look for more soon!

Oh, and Miles the WebKinz is still quite happy. I bought him a treadmill to work off those honey roasts he loves. I earned almost 1,000 points at Quizzy's tonight doing the kids' questions, and I rock at the Link'd game, too. (My brother Keefe and I liked to play Connect Four when I visted his house.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's De-Lovely

My 8-hour shift at work went quite well, for once. Today was "Employee Appreciation Day," which seemed to be a great excuse to serve cake, fruit and lunch meat trays, soda, potato chips, and candy in the back room. It was all great fun, and thanks to the long weekend, most of my customers seemed to be in good moods. I only had one problem at the very end of the day, and it wasn't a customer problem. I sorta forgot to sign me in and had to have a manager do it so I could sign myself OUT. :">

After I went home, I ate Campbell's Healthy Choice Chicken Tortilla Soup, the celery I was going to eat for lunch, and watched two classic Remember WENN episodes. "Happy Homecomings" ended WENN's third season on some of the most amazing cliffhangers I've ever seen as writer Betty Roberts and actor Scott Sherwood make some startling - and rather unpleasant - discoveries about their boss...and their former boss. The cliffhangers are mostly resolved in the fourth season opener, "Some Time, Some Station", which is mostly famous in the WENN fandom for coming six months after the end of the third season. Longest six months of my entire life.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Do The Right Thing

I mostly just ran errands today. I went to the Acme and got my desperately needed paycheck and did some grocery shopping, mostly fruits, veggies, and pantry odds-and-ends. Went to FYE to look at WebKinz, but just ended up with an inexpensive used copy of Billy Joel's Piano Man. As much as I'd like to have a friend for Miles, I need food and clothes first. Looked at the Christmas stuff and pants at Wal-Mart and zip and thumb drives at Staples, but didn't buy anything.

I watched To Kill A Mockingbird before I returned it and Seasons of Giving to the Oaklyn Library on my way to the bank. Excellent, excellent movie, well deserving of it's Oscar nominations and Gregory Peck's win. A thoughtful, intelligent tale of stern but kindly lawyer in a small southern town in the 30s who defends and innocent black man accused of raping a white woman. It's the lawyer's kids, however, who end up learning the biggest lessons when the witness the trial...and have a close encounter with the racist father of the accused girl and a mysterious man who lives next door. Gorgeous black-and-white photography, and so sinister at times, I wish I'd watched it Halloween night instead of Night of the Strangler.

Oh, and Miles is still a happy boy in WebKinz World. I'm still working on some of the games. Can't do the Mini Golf to save my life, but I rock at Hungry Pig and anything that's a variation on Tetris.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Seasons of Pooh

A quiet, fairly simple day today. I slept in and watched Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving while I ate a late breakfast/brunch. It's a cute collection of two winter/Christmas related episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the surprisingly good Thanksgiving special.

I first encountered Winnie the Pooh's Thanksgiving on ABC I believe in 1998, the year before it was added to this video. I don't know if they run it anymore, but they should. It's actually quite good, better than the Hundred Acre Woods gang's Christmas special from a few years before. The original gang is ready to have a Pooh-style Thanksgiving feast, with all their favorite foods (like honey and thistles)...until Rabbit butts in and tells his friends that this simply isn't how Thanksgiving IS. Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Gopher, and Piglet try to comply to Rabbit's orders, but turkey and cranberries are simply hard to come by.

In the end, Rabbit learns a lesson similar to the point my friend Linda Young makes in her wonderful essay on Thanksgiving. It doesn't matter what you eat for Thanksgiving. It matters whom you share the feast with...and being thankful for the food and friends you do have.

(One very mild nitpick. As enjoyable as the Thanksgiving special is...Pooh and his pals are really British, so would they even know about this holiday? Christopher Robin even retains his accent in his brief appearances.)

The two winter-themed cartoons both come from The New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh. The Groundhog Day-themed one was ok, but the final cartoon involving Rabbit and the little bird he adopts, Kessie, was genuinely touching.

The rest of the day passed quietly. I browsed in a few stores, but most of the Thanksgiving stuff was gone from AC Moore and I didn't see anything I liked at the Dollar Store or Super Fresh. I spent my two hours at the library organizing the business and financial books, which weren't quite as messy as the sports or world history sections, and certainly nothing like the kid's DVDs. I would have taken even less time if I hadn't lingered over a couple of books...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Perfect Fall Weather

It was such an absolutely gorgeous fall day, I began it with a walk. I returned Felicity and High School Musical to the Oaklyn Library. There was a gaggle of kindergardeners and their teacher in the children's section when I arrived. A little girl and two boys noticed the High School Musical DVD under my arm and asked if I liked it. I said yes, I was surprised, but I had ended up liking it. They told me how much they'd liked the music and singing the songs. Just goes to show how far-reaching that movie is, since none of these kids were over six.

The kids were absolutely adorable, and no, I didn't mind them being noisy. I wasn't there for very long, anyway. As soon as they checked out their books and left, I took out my movies for the rest of the week, To Kill A Mockingbird with Gregory Peck and the direct-to-video Winnie The Pooh holiday special Winnie The Pooh's Seasons Of Giving. The latter is out-of-print but features the wonderful Pooh Thanksgiving special, so I was glad to find it. I've never seen or read Mockingbird, not even in high school, so I figured it was time to change that.

It was a chilly but seasonal morning, barely in the lower 50s. Most of the kids were bundled up like Randy in A Christmas Story already, but I just opted for my tan jacket and the long red scarf Mom knitted for me in 2002 and was fine. The leaves are finally beginning to turn colors; some of the smaller trees are blazing in magnificent shades of yellow, gold, brick red, and fire orange. I walked over the tracks and down to Kendall Boulevard. I considered going to the playground behind the elementary school, but school was in session and I didn't want to cause any trouble.

I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Miles, my WebKinz. I've been trying to earn more money to buy him a second room, probably a bathroom. I'm getting good at some of the games, notably Cash Cow (a variation on the original Dr. Mario) and Hungry Pig (a much cuter Pac Man). I just rocked at Tile Towers. A machine in the laundromat around the corner from my apartment in Wildwood had another version of that game, and I got pretty good at it over the years whenever I had a spare quarter. I'm starting to get better at Quizzy's Word Challenge, too - took me a few games to get the gist. Oh, and I'm also good at Candy Bash 2. (I'm terrible at the original - never was good with Pong-style games.)

Miles still seems pretty happy. I bought him a pair of pajamas for when he sleeps and am seeing how he likes various foods, both junk and good for you.

I'm not going to be online tonight, since I have late work. Everyone have a great night!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Merriest Girls In Virginia

I began this Election Day with a bit of American history. Felicity: An American Girl Adventure is the film adaptation of (most of) the six Felicity American Girls books. It doesn't appear that any of the short stories were used this time, only the original six stories.

Though I'm not as interested in the Colonial era as I am in the Victorian era and I've only read three of the six books, I ended up enjoying Felicity's movie debut more than I did Samantha's. For one thing, the use of the actual Colonial Williamsburg as a backdrop gives it more authenticity than Samantha's Canada-as-Victorian-New York. For another thing, the Revolutionary War setting gave it a note of danger that Samantha's more benign adoption tale lacked. Third, Felicity's adventures taming a horse owned by a nasty tanner and helping her dad's apprentice are just plain more exciting than Sam's New York stories.

Another thing I appreciated is, as far as I can tell, most of the original characters are more intact than in Samantha's story. Only Felicity and Elizabeth's teacher, Miss Manderly, is drastically changed from the books (where she was much older). The story is less choppy and better-edited, too, and I actually liked moving the Christmas story from the third to the last, though it did make for a rather sappy ending.

Today was laundry day, and I enjoyed the usual fare with TCM and Nick Jr. TCM's theme of the month is "series movies." They're running films from some of the most famous "series," from the B flicks turned out for double-features in the 30s to the 60s spy capers that generally ended the idea of "movie series" until the proliferation of slasher sequels in the 80s. Today I encountered the later end of the spectrum. I had no idea The Man From U.N.C.L.E made it into the movies. I don't remember this show too well from re-runs, but what I saw was generally a not-bad James Bond imitation. I especially liked the Russian guy.

Dora the Explorer and her buddy Boots the Monkey went on one of their earliest and most unusual adventures today. They headed to Blueberry Hill (hello, in-joke!) for some tasty, juicy fruit, where they encounter Swiper the Fox, who seems to live there, for the first time. They also encounter a big blue bear, who chases them backwards through the obstacles they went through the first time...the only time I recall Dora doing each obstacle twice.

Diego and his big sister Alicia had an even more interesting adventure under the sea that also resulted in a mild format change. This is the first (and so far, only) time Diego and Alicia discover an animal they don't recognize, whom they help lead home.

I stuck around for The Backyardigans, who went exotic as Princess CleoTasha and her band of servants bring presents to Uniqua the Sphinx to find out why the Nile's dried up. Uniqua and the boys finally teach ever-bossy Tasha a lesson - if you really want people to do things, you have to learn to say "please" and "thank you."

I wish they'd teach that lesson to my customers. I had some annoying ones tonight. It started and ended fairly slow, but was busy in between as people came out from the voting booths, trying to avoid tonight's cold weather.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Get'cha Head In The Game

Spent the morning running errands and watching movies. I finally made it to the bank - won't have much money left IN the bank when the rent's paid, but it'll at least be paid. Before hitting Doria's Deli down the street for sugar, eggs, and turkey lunchmeat, I stopped at the tiny Oaklyn Library. Their adult books section isn't much, but they have a fascinating children's section, including several older books that look like they date back to when the library was built in the 50s.

I found two Thanksgiving books and one lovely one on Christmas. I adored Wende and Harry Devlin's Cranberry series as a child. Ms. Morrell, the librarian at Cape May Elementary in the 80s, read Cranberry Thanksgiving and Cranberry Christmas every holiday season. Having grown up around real-life swamps and beaches, my Christmases and Thanksgiving weren't too far removed from Maggie's in some ways...and I knew many sailors and fishermen like crusty, lovable sea dog Mr. Whiskers, including my own stepfather. (And Grandmother's famous Cranberry Bread recipe is genuinely delicious!)

I've read about the Addie Mills series at my friend Linda Young's site. I only have very vague memories of seeing the first two Addie films, The House Without a Christmas Tree and The Thanksgiving Treasure on cable as a small child, but I don't think I've ever read the books. I've looked at them several times, but never took them out, but having enjoyed Linda's page on Addie, I decided to give the novelization of The Thanksgiving Promise a shot. Addie isn't that far from my sisters and I at that age...creative, bossy, and imaginative. (My sisters are even horse-crazy. Not me! Horses sorta scare me.)

I've always loved learning about how holidays are celebrated, not only in other countries, but in other parts of the United States. Christmas In America, by Nancy S. Grant, is a coffee-table collage of gorgeous photos depicting how the holidays are celebrated across the US, from snowy New England to warm Hawaii.

I also took out two DVDs, Felicity: An American Girl, and High School Musical. My teenage adopted sister and her friends can't get enough of High School Musical, but adults seem to be more divided. Some find it to be cute, harmless fluff; others, especially hard-core Broadway musical nuts, consider it dumb and slightly insulting.

I have to admit, I fall into the first category. It's as predictable as you can get. Your basic jock meets a shy science geek girl at karaoke contest, and the two, having discovered they're darn fine singers, try out for the school musical, only to find it's hard breaking through musical cliches and touchy cliques.

For all the fact that you know how the whole thing will end the moment it starts, it's...well, it's so gosh darn adorable, you begin to understand why so many pre-teen girls have fallen in love with it. Like the Grease movies when I was a kid, it's a pre-teen fantasy of what high school may be like...and for teens, what they wish it WAS like.

Speaking of Grease, one of the things I really appreciate is seeing the high school kids played by actual teens with talent, rather than adults playing kids. Disney marketing probably had a hand in it (many of these kids have shown up in other Disney Channel movies and shows), but it does help to ground a very, very unlikely premise in reality. In some ways, it reminds me a lot of the equally fun and energetic Hairspray from last summer (and even shares the same teen heart-throb, Zac Efron).

Work was quiet initially, but picked up considerably once people got off of work. Several obnoxious customers, but I'm getting better at them; I didn't even get upset with that ridiculous woman who didn't read her WIC Check right, then made us wait while half the store chased down a quart of milk instead of just taking her juice and moving on.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Nice Fall Sunday

It was a nice, quiet Sunday. I spent the morning watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, including one election-themed one, the Bugs-Yosemite Sam romp Ballot Box Bunny, ate cranberry bread, and listened to the Beatles show on WOGL.

Work was nuts for most of the afternoon. The lines were out to the aisles, even after I left around 3:30. To be honest, between this being the beginning of one of the busiest months of the year and the big Eagles-Cowboys game tonight, I would have been surprised if it WASN'T busy.

It was a nice day today, cool but not horribly cold for this time of year. It's so great to finally have seasonal weather! The trees outside my apartment are just starting to turn gorgeous shades of gold and flame orange. Of course, all these leaves mean I have to sweep my porch twice a week in the fall, but it's worth it. I feel like I live in a Crayola box between October and early December. When all the leaves are gone, I'll have a beautiful view of the park and creek all winter long!

I made a nice fall Sunday dinner (broccoli, baked acorn squash, and Salisbury Turkey Steak) while watching the 1961 Babes In Toyland. It's a cute fantasy-land tale of how Tom Piper saved Mary Quite Contrary and the Toymaker and his nerdy assistant from the evil Barnaby and his bumbling men. The DVD isn't much (pan-and-scan and no extras), but the movie is fun and tuneful, with some lovely, colorful art direction and costumes. This was Walt Disney's first live-action musical, and while his live-action musicals were never as good or popular as his animated ones, it has it's moments...including some nice numbers (I always liked Annette Funicello's imaginative "I Can't Do The Sum").
Fall Back

And don't forget to set your clock back an hour tonight, folks!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Go Fish Queen

Oh more thing. Miles and I ROCK at WebKinz Go Fish. I knew all those games with my kid brother in Wildwood would pay off! ;)
The Key To My Secret Heart

Spent most of today working. Work was on-and-off busy, with a few annoying beginning-of-the month people but otherwise no problems, other than my relief was late...again. My reliefs are ALWAYS late, maybe because they're the late shift workers, which we seem to go through like water. I grocery shopped after that, which I desperately needed. My fridge was bare.

Otherwise, it wasn't terribly busy today. I watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for the first time this year; also ran A Muppet Family Christmas as I made Salsbury (Ground) Turkey Steak and Mushrooms with spinach and wheat noodles for dinner.

Oh, and Miles is doing just fine in WebKinzWorld. I've decorated his room in a sort-of eclectic mish-mash, based after his interests (he apparently likes baseball and bananas - don't ask) and mine (every bear should have his own teddy buddy!). He's a very happy boy, wandering around in his room and sleeping in his nice Cave Bed.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Out With The Old...

Took down the Halloween decorations this morning and put up what little I had for Thanksgiving, two folksy pilgrim figures I found at a yard sale last year and a pile of cardboard cut-outs, including some nice Pilgrim/Indian scenes. The weather was certainly right for it. It was in the 50s today, about what it should be at this time of year...but not what we're used to after almost a month of too-warm weather. I also finally canceled NetZero and confirmed my Netscape cancellation (I emailed them over a week ago and never heard anything), then did yoga before going to work.

Work was steady-to-dead, no real problems other than some obnoxious beginning-of-the month customers.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A New Friend From An Old Friend

I began November with library volunteering. Organized the children's DVDs, which needed it badly. They were mostly either Thomas the Tank Engine, The Wiggles, Dora The Explorer, Angelina Ballerina, or Bob The Builder, with a few SpongeBob, Disney DVDs, and new releases thrown in. I also took out some more Disney comics, another Calvin and Hobbes, and two of the Robin Paige Kathryn and Lord Charles Sheridan books, Death At Dartmoor and Death at Epison Downs (they didn't have any of the earlier ones before they were married).

I had not one, but two packages waiting for me when I got home. The first one was, thank goodness, my Verizon modem. I got it hooked up and am now on Verizon Online. I'll cancel NetZero and Netscape tomorrow.

The second package was far more of a surprise. It came from my good friends Linda and James Young in Georgia. I hadn't been expecting anything from them, though I frequently read Linda's wonderful blogs. There were several wrapped presents in the box. According to Linda's note, one was a belated birthday present. I opened it to reveal the book The Making of Casablanca, by Aljean Harmetz. I love that book! I used to read the copy at the Cape May City Library all the time, but I hadn't seen it since I moved out of my mom and stepdad's house.

There were two other presents Linda said not to open until after Thanksgiving and St. Nicholas' Day on December 6th, so I put them in the back room for now. (I swear I didn't open them, Linda!) The most intriguing package, though, came in cute brown and white polka-dot tissue paper. I suspected I knew what it held, and I was right - one of Linda's newest addictions, a WebKinz! A handsome, fuzzy, solemn black bear stared up at me. I liked him right away and named him Miles, after pilgrim Captain Miles Standish. (He IS the Pet of the Month for November!)

WebKinz are stuffed animals who come with codes that you can type into their website. You create your own "virtual pet," a kind of cuter, more fun Internet variation on the Tamagotchi craze of the late 90s. You have to feed them and do things to make them happy and buy them clothes, toys, books, and furniture. Though I did buy Miles some more sensible t-shirts and polos, I saw an uber-cool bomber jacket and instantly though, "this handsome bear deserves nothing less!" You can earn points to buy more food and items buy playing games. I got pretty good at some of the Arcade games, especially the first "Cash Cow" (a variation on Yoshi's Cookies) and the second Candy game. I'll mess with the cards tomorrow.

(The non-virtual Miles is on my desk, keeping an eye on Proud Heart Cat, Sailor Mars, Sailor Mercury, and the Card Captor Sakura figure.)

I'm so glad to have friends like Linda and Lauren! Lauren and I worked on the newest role-play story tonight. Don't expect to see it for a while, though. We're doing it for November's NaNoWrite and need to get up to 50,000 words before the end of the month!

I also picked up a few desperately needed extra hours tomorrow, 4:30 to 8:30. I would have ended up at the Acme sometime to pick up my paycheck anyway. I'll just make a really, really quick bank trip on Saturday morning.